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COVID-19

1,121 positive results were announced yesterday, representing 5.2% of the 24,343 people whose tests were successfully analysed in the previous 24 hours. 1,317 people were in hospital with the virus and 99 in intensive care. 64 deaths were reported.


Of the new cases, 290 were in the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde region, 230  in Lanarkshire, 181 in Lothian, 129 in the Forth Valley, 113 in Ayrshire & Arran, 53 in Grampian, 47 in Tayside, 27 in Fife, 26 in the Highland region, 12 in the Borders, 11 in Dumfries & Galloway, in the Western Isles and none in Shetland or Orkney.

Before we entered what was then called Phase 3, in August, the three-week average number of new cases in the entire country was 14.

The number of deaths, from all causes, in Scotland in 2020 was 11% higher than in 2019. 

The arrival of new more virulent strains has led to important changes. Staying at home, other than for exercise or for a few essential reasons, is now a legal requirement throughout mainland Scotland and the Western Isles till, at least, the beginning of March. Schools will begin a phased re-opening, for the very youngest children, on 22 February.

 

An independent report commissioned by SAGE identified people travelling to, and returning from overseas holidays as the major source for the second wave of infections, but the third wave is largely caused by the new "Kent" strain.

23 sites in Scotland began to deliver vaccinations to people in the highest priority groups on 8 December. The Astra Zeneca/Oxford University is now being rolled out, as well as the Pfizer one, and Moderna's vaccination has also been approved for use in the UK.

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The increase in infections continues. More than 80 million people have been infected throughout the world and over 1.7 million have died.  This definitely isn't a hoax!

Pfizer Inc. claims that its vaccine is effective in over 90% of cases.  If this is true it's very good news. Another company, Moderna, claims its vaccine is 94.5% effective.  At $40 per person the Pfizer vaccine will probably be too expensive for poor countries to afford so whether their citizens can be treated is currently unclear. It's emerged that South Africa has been made to pay more than twice as much as EU countries per dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

 

There have been over 3 million confirmed cases in the continent of Africa and more than 72,000 deaths. In Kenya, hospital doctors have gone on strike because they don't have the adequate PPE they need to be able to treat Covid-19 patients safely. Over a million people have been infected in South Africa.

The official number of Covid-related deaths in Russia in 2020 more than doubled after a change in the way the statistics were calculated.

People who need intensive care in Indonesia are being turned away from the country's hospitals because there are no beds for them, as a consequence of Covid-19.

Health officials in Ireland say that a sudden severe spike in the country resulted from people not obeying socialising guidelines, and was nothing to do with the new strain. On 5 February it was announced than 100 euro fines would be imposed on anybody crossing the border from the 6 Counties to the Republic without a valid reason for doing so.

Cases are spiralling beyond the capacity to cope in the rebel-held Idlib region in Syria. The same is true in Gaza, where the health system can't cope with the number of infections and people are forced to live so close to one another that social distancing is impossible.

In Belarus, people arrested for protesting against President Alexander Lukashenko report that Covid-19 is spreading throughout the country's overcrowded prisons and detention centres.

The government in Colombia has announced that the number of infections in the country has exceeded 1 million.

The virus affects animals as well as people, and the government in Denmark ordered all mink in fur farms to be slaughtered in an attempt to prevent cross-contamination. Captive mink have also been infected in Lithuania, Ireland and Poland.

More than 9 million people have been infected in India since the virus was first diagnosed.

The Turkish government has banned people from smoking in public spaces because smokers were violating rules on face coverings. A 9 pm weekday curfew has been imposed as well as total lockdown at weekends.

In Sweden there was no lockdown during the first wave and the government didn't advise people to cover their noses and mouths. More Swedes died in the first half of 2020 than in any half year since 1869. The upper limit for numbers of people allowed to congregate together was later reduced from 300 to 8.

C-19 is but one of the causes of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, along with war and famine.

The UN says that 818 million children are going to school with inadequate facilities for washing their hands during the crisis.

Amnesty International estimated that the coronavirus killed 7,000 health workers by the beginning of September 2020.

In the USA over 20 million have been infected and more than 400,000 people have died.

Finally, the pandemic was not predicted by Nostradamus.

SCOTLAND

At least 260 people have been infected with Covid-19 in an outbreak at Kilmarnock Gaol.

 

Athird of MSPs responding to a survey said that they had been sent death threats since the last Scottish General Election.

 

The case of Colin Norris, the Scottish former nurse serving a life sentence for 4 murders that were probably all deaths by natural causes, has been referred to the UK Court of Appeal.

 

Much of the country is currently at risk of fire because of dried-out vegetation, and there have been reports of wild fires burning in the Western Isles.

Avian flu has broken out in Fife, at premises used for rearing birds to be shot on the moors.

 

Two orphaned otters have been rescued after being seen wandering the frosty streets of Inverkeithing.

 

Former MSP Natalie McGarry will go to trial again in May, accused of embezzling money from Women for Independence and Glasgow Regional SNP.

 

All aeroplane travellers into Scotland must quarantine, at their own expense, for 10 days in a delegated hotel. In the rest of the UK this rule only applies to visitors from certain countries.

A Glasgow landlord who didn't return a deposit to two students when they left their flat has been ordered, by a tribunal, to pay double the amount in question.

 

The inquiry into accusations that the Scottish government contrived sexual misconduct charges against Alex Salmond has become farcical. The former PM, on whose behalf the inquiry was set up, is now refusing to give evidence to the panel and is calling a press conference instead. 

 

Disability rights organisation Inclusion Scotland has set out 5 key demands for the next Scottish government to address in order to improve the lives of disabled people.

 

The village of Reston will get its railway station back, hopefully this year, after being without one since the Beeching Report took the original away.

Boris Johnson's advisor on the Union, Luke Graham, has been sacked.

Blair MacDonald, who led the anti-independence Better Together campaign in 2014, has called on Boris Johnson to stay away from Scotland and to keep out of the current debate on IndyRef2. During the 2014 campaign Mr MacDonald predicted on TV that there was no need for Scots to worry about Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister because it would never happen.

 

Scottish public sector workers will receive pay rises this year, and assistance will be given to local authorities in measured announced in Scotland's Budget Statement on Thursday.

 

Nicola Sturgeon responded to mass resignations from the SNP by making a video promising to root out transphobia from the party. This all follows Joanna Cherry's complaint to Twitter after her fellow transphobe Sarah Phillimore was suspended for anti-Semitism.

 

Dumbarton-born Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been in prison without trial in India for 3 years, has told the BBC that he was tortured into signing blank confessions.

The Scottish government is taking part in talks to try to keep us in the Erasmus+ student exchange scheme with EU countries. 

 

The SNP has released plans for a second referendum on independence should the party win a majority in the May Scottish General Election.

 

Low-carbon aircraft are to be trialled in the Isles of Orkney.

 

An eye witness says that Sheku Bayoh did not, as the police claim, jump onto a female officer and attack her before his death at Kirkcaldy Police Station in 2015.

The ban on evictions in Scotland has been extended till 31 March.

 

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has fallen victim to a cyber attack. Police Scotland are investigating.

 

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier has been charged by the police over her trip to the House of Commons and back over the weekend of 26 to 29 September.

1,246 people in Scotland died directly from drug abuse in 2019. 

The sand dunes at Menie are no longer a SSSI following the construction of another Trump-owned golf course.

The maximum penalty for cruelty to animals in Scotland is increasing from 1 year to 5 years in prison.

A study has found that a shortage of snow in the Highlands has led to mountain hares becoming much more vulnerable to predators over the last 60 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD

The madness is over. Joe Biden is now President of the USA. Donald Trump is out of office after 4 atrocious years.

 

 

 

Trump, who was defeated in the popular vote by a margin of 7 million, still maintains that he won the election, and refused to take the oath or to give evidence at his second impeachment trial, at which he was accused of fomenting the 6 January attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. In Georgia, prosecutors have opened an investigation into Trump's notorious phone call of 2 January, in which he attempted to instruct the Ga Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to "find" votes in his favour.

A study by the Lancet has concluded that Trump's environmental and workplace policies caused 22,000 additional deaths in 2019 alone, a figure that rises to six figures when his bizarre responses to Covid-19 in 2020 are added.

In the USA, Rush Limbaugh, pioneer of extreme right wing talk radio, has died aged 70.

A boat accident on the Congo River has killed at least 60 people. 

Japan's Meteorological Agency says that the earthquake that struck on 13 February was an after-shock following the 9.0 quake that resulted in the Fukushima meltdown in March 2011.

A man who criticised the ruling family on Facebook has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in the United Arab Emirates

A bus falling off a bridge in India has caused several deaths.

A UCL study has concluded that 1 in 5 of all global deaths in 2018 were a consequence of fossil fuel pollution.

In Ecuador, an attempt to influence the General Election with a fake video was scuppered by an expert ornithologist

In Florida, police and the FBI are looking for a hacker who carried out a cyber attack intended to poison a town's water supply. 

At least 24 people have drowned in an illegal textile workshop in a converted cellar in Morocco.

6 weeks before Israel's General Election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on trial for alleged corruption.

A burst Himalayan glacier has caused catastrophic flooding and many deaths in India.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the death of a patient has caused fear that another outbreak of Ebola might be imminent.

Pakistan's President Imran Khan says that if the people of Kashmir vote for secession from India they will be given independence, if they choose, rather than becoming part of Pakistan.

A 95 year old has been charged with complicity in 10,000 murders in a wartime Nazi death camp.

A tiny chameleon, discovered in Madagascar, is believed to be the world's smallest reptile.

Canada has designated the extreme Trumpian Proud Boys a terrorist entity.

Donald Trump's ban from Twitter has been made permanent. 

A former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army, who was himself kidnapped as a child and forced into combat, has been found guilty at The Hague on charges of war crimes, including rapes and murders, in Uganda.

A court in France has found the French state guilty of failing to combat climate change effectively.

The UN says that 20,000 refugees are missing in the Tigray region following the Ethiopian Army's occupation and consequent mass casualties in November. The Ethiopian Red Cross reports that 80% of Tigrayans are in danger of starving to death.

A military coup has taken place in Myanmar. In last year's election the National League for Democracy won by a landslide, and leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains popular among the people, if we don't count the oppressed Rohingya minority who have been murdered, raped and forced into exile. The new junta has closed down the internet and people are taking to the streets in protest.

Even though the man himself is no longer POTUS, Trumpism is still rife in the Republican Party.

11,000 acres of forest in the USA have been purchased by Ikea, to prevent developers cutting it down. 

6.7 million Syrian refugees are enduring winter without sufficient blankets and shelter to keep them warm, and 9.3 million don't have enough food.  27,000 children are currently living and sleeping in the al-Hol camp in North East Syria.

Among several people publicly flogged under shariah law in Aceh, Indonesia, in November, were 2 gay men who were caned 77 times each.

Straight from his inauguration, the new US president rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement.

Associated Newspapers. owners of the Daily Mail, settled out of court with Prince Harry after publishing lies about him having snubbed the Royal Marines. 

Swampy is back! HS2 protesters dug a tunnel at Euston and the veteran eco-warrior was among the people inside it. 

Nearly 300 Rohingya refugees have disappeared from a camp in Indonesia and are unaccounted for. Meanwhile, claims by the government of Bangladesh that Rohingya refugees are moving of their own volition to an island in the Bay of Bengal deserve to be taken with a pinch of salt. The island is regularly flooded and only emerged from the sea 20 years ago, and several Rohingya people have told aid workers that they were forced to go there against their will.

Dominion Voting Systems are suing Trump lawyers Rudi Giuliani and Sidney Powell for making statements alleging that the company stole and switched votes as part of the so-called Big Steal. A second company, Smartmatic, has begun a $2.7 billion claim against Giuliani, Powell and Fox News.

 

The treaty to ban nuclear weapons came into force at noon on 22 January. Naturally, none of the countries that possess such weapons have signed up. The new US government has re-entered a missile-limiting pact with Russia which is practically useless but could be considered to be a tiny step in the direction of limiting proliferation of WMDs.

The UNHCR says that 2 million people have been displaced by fighting in the Sahel region of Africa.

 

Four people smugglers whose activities caused the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people in a lorry in 2019 were given long prison sentences at the Old Bailey.

Five days after Putin opponent and poisoning victim Alexei Navalny flew back home to Russia and was immediately arrested, 4 of his comrades were also taken into custody later in the week. The following day, protests took place in several Russian cities and 3,000 people were arrested in the streets and town squares. On 2 February Mr Navalny was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison.

 

A citizen of Thailand has been found guilty of insulting the country's king, and sentenced to 43 years and 6 months in prison.

The EU has given 3.5 million euros to be used to help refugees living rough in the cold in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Massacres are occurring with terrifying frequency in Niger.

The Iranian government announced plans to further enrich uranium at its nuclear plants, with Donald Trump's USA having withdrawn from a treaty aimed at limiting the capability to build weapons of mass destruction.

Mexico's tally of 34,523 murders in 2020 was a slight improvement on the 2019 figure.

The Australian government has announced an environment-busting plan to build an airport in Antarctica.

News agency AP reports that 1,000 girls a year are forcibly converted to Islam in poor parts of Pakistan, usually in order to marry them off to older men in spite of laws forbidding sex with younger girls.

4 men who murdered 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 were among those pardoned by outgoing US President Donald Trump. The four were prosecuted only 5 years ago. Meanwhile the Brereton Report has found 39 cases of murders of Afghan citizens by Australian special forces during the years 2007/13.

The EU countries have agreed on new more stringent target to reduce carbon emissions by 55% before 2030.

The EU has allowed individual states to ban the slaughter of animals without stunning them first, in spite of objections from religious fundamentalists.

The UN states that in 2020 the number of people requiring humanitarian aid increased by 40%, and that more than 80 million are  displaced from their homes.

Non-animal meat. grown from chicken cells in a laboratory without causing any pollution, is now on sale to consumers in Singapore. This is a particularly good idea at a time when swine fever, caused by illegal vaccination of pigs, is likely to reach pandemic proportions.

Belarus, where thousands of people march every weekend against the tyrannical rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, has opened its first nuclear power plant only 40 miles away from Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania.

In Afghanistan, bombings and shootings continue to cause death and mayhem and thousands of people have fled their homes. In Jalalabad people were so desperate to obtain visas to go to Pakistan that several people were killed in a crush outside the consulate. According to the UN 5,939 Afghan civilians died in violence in the first 9 months of 2020 and the killing just goes on and on.

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