Sunday, 26 June 2022

THIS IS A BLOGPOST THAT WILL ATTRACT ONLY A SCORE OF READERS - IT'S ABOUT THE SARS-COV-2 VIRUS.

 The disease is called COVID-19. The virus that spreads the disease is known as SARS-CoV-2. There have been a number of variants of this virus (Alpha, Delta, Omicron) and sub-variants of these variants (such as BA.4 and BA.5 that are at present the dominant sub-variants of Omicron). 


The SARS-CoV-2 virus - image used under licence from Getty Images - see Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic, my latest book.


In explaining all this, I am identifying what has become the elephant in the room. So many of our population of nearly 70 million are following the lead provided by the man who is still in No.10 Downing Street. Back in January this year, he ordered the lifting of all the restrictions that had been imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus. He did so without the support of most of the scientific and medical community. It was essentially a political gesture to secure the support of the hard-core of so-

Thursday, 23 June 2022

PLEASE COME TO MY TALK AT THE PENZANCE LITERARY FESTIVAL - THURSDAY 7 JULY 2022, 3-4.30 PM - THE COACH HOUSE, MORRAB GARDENS

 A fortnight to go, and the pulse begins to beat a little more excitedly. This will be the first time in my life when my audience will be paying to hear me speak (don't be too concerned; at a cost of £5 per ticket it's less than the price of a coffee and cake). I shall do my best to make it a worthwhile 90 minutes - and remember the title of my talk is Dying to Know - The Power of Hope. I will be delivering a message shaped by my natural optimism. Here's a link to the online ticket office: press here


Penzance Literary Festival Fringe - Redwing Gallery - summer of 2017


I don't want to give too much away, but the talk is shaped by my latest book that was published at the end of February this year: Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic. When I first became aware of the threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in January 2020, I was concerned but had no idea of what lay ahead. The consequences of misgovernment in the UK had yet to take shape. Today, as we approach the end of June 2022, around thirty months later, I know that very nearly 200,000 British citizens have died with COVID-19 on their death certificate. That, per head of population, is about the same awful death

Sunday, 12 June 2022

TWO ST IVES BOYS CONTINUE THEIR JOURNEY - ON TO THE KENIDJACK VALLEY AND OVER TO CAPE CORNWALL - PART TWO


 Here is a link to Part One that I published yesterday - just in case you missed it.

Having returned from our close encounter with the Crowns, John Toman, my guide, next pointed out the ruins of the late-19th century steam pumping engine house of West Wheal Owles. This ruin, carefully photographed, featured in the TV series 'Poldark'.


West Wheal Owles - steam pumping house 



We took a few steps off the path to the left and behind the engine house lay the memorial to those killed in the Wheal Owles disaster on 11th January 1893. John had told me of this memorial when I shared with him, a few months ago, news of my discovery of articles about this disaster in my digital trawl through Victorian Cornish broadsheets. You will be able to read the fruits of my research in a section of 'Mine to Die' that focuses on the Wheal Owles tragedy. Publication is scheduled for 2024. 


Meanwhile, here is a snapshot of what happened on that awful day taken from Robin Bates & Bill Scolding's admirable guide book 'Nine Walks around St Just & St Ives': 

"On [that day] miners were blasting a new level towards what Richard Boyns, the mine's purser (the paymaster or cashier of the mine) thought would be a rich lode. Shortly after 9 am, the tunnelling miners breached the walls of the flooded 148 fathom (888 feet) level of the neighbouring Wheal Drea workings. The force of the inrushing water created enough air pressure to blow out a crater on the

Saturday, 11 June 2022

TWO ST IVES BOYS AT BOTALLACK - A DAY OUT AROUND THE MINE SHAFTS - WITH VIDEO - PART ONE

 I start with a hymn of praise to the drivers who navigate their 'Tinner' open-top double-decker buses through the bends and along the straights of the B3306, the coastal road from St Ives to St Just. They are so skilled. And underpaid, no doubt. 


A fortnight ago, John Toman and I (our combined ages reaching 156 years) explored the mining remains around Geevor and Levant - see this link here for the blogpost that tells the story of that day.  



Botallack mines - the Pumping engine house and the Boscawen diagonal shaft, the means of descent - a view from the sea


Last Tuesday, 7 June 2022, John was my guide when we visited the mining remains around Botallack and then walked on into the Kenidjack valley and from there on to Cape Cornwall. Here is the story, in words and images:


After getting off the bus, we made our way down the lane towards the sea. John, the former chief surveyor at South Crofty, becomes the dream guide. He points knowingly over the hedge to the rubble in the field and explains that he has been keeping an eye on that spot over the last few years. It seems to be

Friday, 10 June 2022

THERE IS A SICKNESS IN THE LAND - AND THE SYMPTOMS CAN BE SEEN ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM - APART FROM THE GREENS

 

Video: Labour, Tories and LibDems join forces to block Real Living Wage in Wirral as only Greens back anti-poverty measure

 

 

Saturday, 28 May 2022

TWO ST IVES BOYS AT LEVANT - A CHAMPION CORNISH MINE - WITH VIDEO ACCOMPANIMENT

 My title for this blogpost is borrowed from The Trevithick Society's 1992 publication: Levant: A Champion Cornish Mine by John Corin. The book has since been edited and expanded by Peter Joseph. My purchase of a 2013 edition would have happened within a year of arriving as a resident in Cornwall in January of that year. It has proved a most useful read. 


Levant Mine - a National Trust image 


I am one of those 'BOYS' in the title - which is a bit of a cheat because I am not proper Cornish. The other 'BOY' is most certainly a proper Cornish 'boy'. He is John Toman, a former chief surveyor and relief mine captain at South Crofty Mine in Camborne and the father of Belinda, one of our neighbours, up the Stennack in St Ives where we live. John is a very young 83 years and a man of God, an identity I gave him in my latest book, Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic, published earlier this year. 

John was my guide yesterday, Tuesday 24 May 2022, when we explored the grounds of Levant Mine. Am I a fortunate boy! I can't hope to share all that I learned yesterday - I am still digesting some of the technical detail, such as the geological importance of the 'contact' between the killas and the granite for locating the lodes of tin or copper, and the need to find the 1,000 foot level - but I would like to communicate a measure of the pleasure and pride that John feels for his lifetime in mining, and his

Friday, 20 May 2022

HERE'S HOPING THAT THE LUCK OF THE DEVIL HOLDS

 Ever since the pandemic was allowed to take such a rapid hold in this country back in the first three months of 2020, I have been lamenting the failures of the neoliberal Tory government which has the responsibility for responding to the killer virus in our midst. As we edge closer and closer to the figure of 200,000 UK citizens with coronavirus identified as a cause of their death (as of 10 May 2020, the death toll stood at 193,713), I am relieved that at last the mortality statistics are showing a decline in numbers. 


Vaccination, courtesy of the NHS, saved the day for us - and the Tory government 


Over the past couple of months, the National Office of Statistics (NOS) has been changing the way it presents its figures. They are appearing less often, for a start. The government was closing down the testing stations; the message was clear: the pandemic was nearing its end. When I go shopping in the

Friday, 13 May 2022

RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE - WHAT'S GOING ON AND WRONG IN THE UK

My source for much of this blogpost is a Short Cuts piece by Maya James, an environmental consultant, in the London Review of Books on 12 May 2022. The opinions expressed, however, are mine for the most part.

  • In June 2019, legislation committing the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 was added to the Climate Change Act. This move was one of Teresa May's last before resigning as prime minister and was strongly supported by the Conservative Environment Network, whose members now include half the Tory MPs on the back benches. 
These were the percentages back in 2014 - this issue commands even more public support now.


  • There is therefore a divide within the Tory party of government in the UK. Around half its MPs are not prepared to strongly support this commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - still 28 years away. But we need nearer deadlines than this. The climate crisis tipping-point is coming closer and closer. Some scientists say we may have already passed it. Yet a significant minority of Tory MPs - the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, with at least 19 members - believe that net

Saturday, 7 May 2022

ROB DONOVAN (2022) - 'DYING TO KNOW - RUNNING THROUGH A PANDEMIC' - MORE REVIEWS AND A ROB IN THE ROUND VIDEO

 In last week's blog post, I published five reviews for my latest literary venture - 'Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic'. Here are five more, starting with one from within the publishing house, Matador/Troubador - but first a vanity shot. I can be indulged, I hope. Taken a week ago, I had just completed my virtual London Vitality 10K in 79minutes and 25 seconds. Mo Farrah managed the real thing in 28 minutes and 44 seconds - and lost to a 28 year-old club runner, Ellis Cross, from Aldershot, by four seconds. But heh! - they're younger and full of testosterone!  


I have just completed two circuits of my local training run - 3.5 miles from my house, up the hill to Little Trevalgan and back down, so 7 miles in total - in 01:29:36. My 10K (6.2 miles) time was 01:19:25.  


These days, getting a book accepted by a mainstream publisher, whatever its quality, is very difficult if you do not have the contacts that secure a place in the loop. I, like others, have turned to self-publishing and Troubador/Matador offer a very good service for those who can afford it. I'm saving hard to ensure

Thursday, 28 April 2022

DYING TO KNOW WHY ONLY NOW HAS JOHNSON'S GOVERNMENT BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF UNLAWFUL ACTIONS IN THE PANDEMIC

Listening to the news last night was both satisfying and horrible. I was content that the High Court yesterday found the Government acted unlawfully when it ordered the discharge of patients from hospital into care homes - an act that led to the deaths of around 20,000 of our citizens in those care homes. This I knew already. And I was horrified that these men and women we have trusted with our government should be guilty of social murder on such a scale. 



Dying to Know - signed copies available in Penzance in The Edge of the World bookshop


My book - Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic - was published at the end of February. It 

contains a historically accurate account of what happened in the first year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, 

in 2020 - and much else. It nails Johnson and Cummings as the architects of an appallingly planned 

policy that pursued the goal of achieving herd immunity. Do please read it. It only costs a tenner - and 

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

AVAAZ - POINTING THE WAY TO SAVE OURSELVES FROM EXTINCTION

 This email from Avaaz seemed important enough to save and share as a blogpost. The perspective is very powerful.

Hi! This is one of the most important moments to help end the extinction crisis the world has ever seen. No exaggeration. A new global deal to save nature could be signed in 5 months -- but as Avaaz staff get back from the latest negotiations, there’s still massive campaigning and advocacy work needed to ensure this treaty can really save nature -- and humanity. We only have 5 months to do it -- and with your support we can double our efforts.

Avaaz is 100% powered by individual donations like yours -- chip in a weekly amount below, or click here to make a one-time donation. Thank you, deeply, from all of us at Avaaz.

THE GOOD LAW PROJECT ARE BEHIND THE JOHNSONS AND SUNAK BEING FOUND GUILTY

 The Johnsons - husband and wife - and Sunak are guilty of contempt of British law and the British people. Here is the story of how they were brought to justice by the Good Law Project (Please excuse the layout problems - I don't think they get in the way of the message and I can't yet solve them).


"Dear Rob,

Lawyers aren’t great believers. We spend our lives unravelling the carefully constructed lies of others. And it makes the most terrible cynics of even the sweetest natured of us. But there are a few things we do believe in - and are prepared to fight for. And one of them is the idea that the law is just and fair.





That’s why, for so much of the legal profession, it was agonising to watch the Met ignore evidence of criminality at Number 10 and Number 11. We knew others had been fined for breaking the lockdown rules. We knew the terrible sacrifices that so many families had made - people who had watched their

Sunday, 10 April 2022

"DYING TO KNOW - RUNNING THROUGH A PANDEMIC" - READ ALL ABOUT MY LATEST BOOK

 My latest book was published by Troubador/Matador on February 28, six weeks ago. The title is "Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic". If you appreciated my first book - "The Road to Corbyn" (Matador, 2016) - you will relish this new book. Even if you did not, my latest literary venture is still a worthwhile read.

A copy can be ordered direct from the publishers using this link here. The book is priced at £9.99.

You can get a signed copy from me direct for £11.50, including postage and packing, using Paypal or bank transfer. My email is robdonovan@waitrose.com.

Here is a taste of the contents - the image of the front cover:



This is my photograph from the summit of Little Trevalgan, 1.75 miles from our home in St Ives, looking towards the church of St. John's with part of my running circuit visible on the bottom-right.   



And here in this image of the front and back covers is a taste of what you will find inside its 150 pages. As I wrote the book, I had two readers - Jessica Raber in the USA and Ingrid Helmer in The Netherlands - who

Sunday, 27 March 2022

THIS MISGOVERNMENT OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC CONTINUES APACE

 A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog which pointed out that another wave of coronavirus infections was gathering pace - and established that the man in No.10 was responsible. Through his actions towards the end of January when he declared that all restrictions were lifted and that life could go back to normal ('...but do take care'!), he was ensuring that the virus would get a fresh lease of life. More people would therefore become ill, more would be admitted into hospital, more would need ventilator support, more would die. 



And that is what has been happening in this mad month of March. Check out the figures for the first two weeks in my last blog post using the link here. Here are the figures for the last two weeks:

7-day average of daily new cases - Monday 14 March - 64,029

                                                      - Monday 21 March - 86,819

                                                       - Friday 25 March -  85,606


Daily admissions of patients with coronavirus - Monday 14 March - 1,353

                                                                            - Monday 21 March - 1,787

                                                                            - Friday 25 March  -  2,125


Numbers of patients with coronavirus in hospital - Monday 14 March - 11,944

                                                                                - Monday 21 March - 14,948

                                                                                - Friday 25 March - 17, 440


7-day average of daily deaths - Monday 14 March - 104

                                                - Monday 21 March - 112

                                                - Friday 25 March - 136


These figures are going to worsen in April. The terrible fact is that this was avoidable. So why did the

Saturday, 12 March 2022

AND THEY THOUGHT IT WAS ALL OVER. IT ISN'T.

 There was always going to be this outcome. The lifting of all restrictions in January this year was bound to lead to a surge in coronavirus infections. The man in No.10 knew this even as he gave the order on Thursday 27 January. Faced with the Partygate challenge to his leadership, he needed to keep onside that coterie of Brexiteer Tory MPs committed to opening up the economy, whatever the human cost. 


My thank again to Gary Barker for this brilliant cartoon - depicting a ruthlessly ambitious and morally bankrupt man who, like all narcissists, thinks only of himself. 


The 'i' headline on p.4 in the Wednesday 9 March edition reads:

'Covid hospital admissions rise among elderly as immunity wanes'.

There is some truth in that statement but it is an explanation which ignores the fact that if there are no restrictions, there will be a rise in infections, regardless of waning immunity and the vulnerability of the elderly.


A Getty image used with permission - SARS-CoV-2 is a killer virus


As the dozens of you who follow my blogposts know, I keep a record of the figures issued by the National Office of Statistics. 

On Thursday 27 January this year, the day Johnson lifted all restrictions - to the alarm of many in the scientific and medical communities - the 7-day average for daily new coronavirus cases was 90,900. There were 1,651 new coronavirus admissions to hospital and 16,510 patients in hospital with coronavirus; 561 such patients were on ventilation and there were 338 deaths with a 7-day daily average figure of 263 deaths.  

For a couple of weeks, this position remained largely unchanged - and then during February the number of new cases began to decline. But so too did the number of tests! 

By Tuesday 1 March, the number of new cases of SARS-CoV-2 had reached a 7-day daily average low of 33,139 people - still quite a shock for all those testing positive. Hospital admissions were

Thursday, 3 March 2022

TAX JUSTICE UK - SPREADING THE WORD - EXPOSING THE ROLE OF RUSSIAN MONEY IN LONDON FINANCE AND THE TORY PARTY

 As I get updates that shape my own understanding so I share with you. Here's the latest newsletter from Tax Justice UK, with thanks to Talk-Business for the photo image that I have added: 


The City of London - a world financial centre, home for the laundering of Russian oligarchs' money. 


 

Dear Rob,

The long time tax justice campaigner Prem Sikka has frequently pointed the finger at what he calls the “pinstripe mafia”. This is the army of professionals who enable the flow of dirty money through London. Accountants, lawyers, bankers and PR agents have helped corrupt officials, tax dodgers and other criminals.

In parliament this week the Conservative MP Bob Seely expressed his frustration at lawyers working for Russian clients to intimidate the media.

The war in Ukraine has yet again highlighted the role of London as the dirty money capital of the world. The government has scrambled to respond. On Monday, the Prime Minister introduced a long promised Economic Crime Bill. This includes many measures that we’ve campaigned for, including more transparency over offshore owners of UK property. This will be a real step forward.

It’s been known for years that the UK has been a favourite destination for ill gotten gains. It’s taken an international crisis in Ukraine to make the government act.

We have been working alongside other campaigners to push the government to act. This could be the best chance in a generation to seal up the loopholes that allow London to be home to so much dirty money. The public clearly cares, with over 117,000 signing our petition for action.

New laws are good but we also need a change in culture. Professionals should think really hard about the role that they play as gatekeepers against bad behaviour. The government also needs to invest much more in enforcing existing laws. Our friends at Spotlight on Corruption have set out what this should look like.

You can share this analysis with your friends and networks using this link. I've also done a thread on twitter here.

Finally I also want to add a personal note of thought if you or your family have been affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Let's hope the coming days bring swift action to de-escalate, end the fighting and restore a free Ukraine.

Thanks as always for your support,

Robert

Robert Palmer, Executive Director

Ps please consider helping our work go further by supporting our work with a monthly donation of £10, or whatever you can afford.

Monday, 28 February 2022

MORE INSIGHTS INTO PUTIN - THANKS TO OPEN DEMOCRACY

I've learned from this Open Democracy newsletter - I hope it may be of value to you too.




 

openDemocracy logo

Daily newsletter

 

 

Boris Johnson is lying – the UK could have done far more to stop Russia

by Oliver Bullough

 

Protesters outside Downing Street demanding action from Boris Johnson

 

At the end of 2004, Zhamalayl Yanayev checked in for a flight at an airport outside Vladikavkaz, a city near Chechnya in southern Russia.

Waiting in the departure lounge to board a plane to Moscow for medical treatment, Yanayev was suddenly summoned by security. After that encounter, his family never saw him again. And, as far as we know, neither did anyone else.

It is not clear why Russia’s security services detained him, or why they murdered him, or why they never informed his wife or relatives that he was dead, but the general nature of his offence is pretty obvious: he was of fighting age, male and Chechen. He was inconvenient.

Like Yanayev, Ukraine is now discovering how it feels to become inconvenient to Russia’s

Sunday, 20 February 2022

WHO IS DYING FROM COVID - AND WHY IS THIS DATA NOT BEING SHARED AND ANALYSED?

 I have been playing the role of a Jeremiah in my blogposts ever since the COVID pandemic was allowed to gain such a hold in this country through the inactions and actions of the man in No.10 and his special advisor. For as long as Johnson remains the prime minister, I shall be Jeremiah. Johnson's narcissism renders his actions on the pandemic toxic. He has consistently followed a pattern of doing too little, too late which explains why the UK death toll now stands at 181,424. Officially, the UK death toll is around 20,000 less but that was an accounting sleight of hand that Johnson and Cummings orchestrated at No.10 in 2020 to make the figures less appalling. 


In the thick of it - Johnson and Cummings, architects of 'social murder'. 



Here's a headline form the Independent online on 6 June 2020:

'With the second highest death toll from the Covid-19 coronavirus in the world, reports this week claimed that the UK had more daily deaths than the whole of the EU combined on a recent day, despite its population being just one seventh of the size.'


Please don't forget just what a world-beating nation we became - and we are still up there with the nations clocking up the most deaths per 1 million of population. These figures below are taken straight from the web today and note well that the

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

THE GOOD LAW PROJECT - TODAY'S TALE OF TRIUMPH IN THE LAW COURTS

Hot on the heels of the post I published this morning, here's another cut and paste job. I'm sharing the good news of a victory in the courts for the Good Law Project:


 

This brilliant cartoon has a timeless quality - at least until he's gone.

Good Law Project

View in browser

Dear Rob,

In a landmark verdict, the High Court has today found that the process leading to the appointments of both Dido Harding and Mike Coupe was unlawful. It held that Matt Hancock broke the law in appointing Dido Harding as Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) and in appointing Mike Coupe as Director of Testing at Test and Trace (NHSTT). The High Court was also clear that the Prime Minister broke the law in appointing Dido Harding as Chair of Test and Trace. 

The Court declared: “The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care did not comply with the public sector equality duty in relation to the decisions how to appoint Baroness Harding as Interim Executive Chair of the NIHP in August 2020 and Mr Coupe as Director of Testing for NHSTT in September 2020.” (paragraph 138 of the judgment)

While the formal declaration reflects only the appointments made by Matt Hancock, the High Court is clear that the process adopted by the Prime Minister was also unlawful (paragraph 116 of the judgment). All three appointments breached the public sector equality duty.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court accepted the argument made by race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust and Good Law Project that the recruitment process adopted by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State ignored the need to eliminate discrimination against the country’s disabled and ethnic minority communities, and to ensure they have equality of opportunity.

In appointing the wife of Boris Johnson’s Anti-Corruption Tsar John Penrose MP to Chair the National Institute for Health Protection, the Government failed to consider the effects on those who, the data shows, are too often shut out of public life. The Government also ignored its own internal guidance, which requires Ministers to consider how discrimination law will be complied with. 

The Runnymede Trust and Good Law Project brought the case to highlight what it means to disadvantaged groups for the Government to push its associates and donors into key jobs. The Court’s declaration will have a real impact on how public appointments are made in the future. 

The Government must now take seriously its legal and moral obligations to narrow the disadvantages faced by people with disabilities and those of colour. Public appointments must not be made without taking steps to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality of opportunity, even when normal processes don’t apply, for instance during a public health emergency. The Government will now have to be much more careful to make sure its recruitment processes are fair, equitable and open to all.

We want to thank you for your continued support of this case. Without you, we simply couldn’t have done this. We are the arrow, but you are the bow.

Thank you,

Jo Maugham - Good Law Project


You can read the full judgment from the High Court here.

Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. If you’re in a position to support our work, you can do so here: 

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