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COVID-19

1,307 positive results were announced today, representing 9.3% of the 20,393 people whose tests were successfully analysed in the previous 24 hours. 76 new deaths were reported. 2,085 people were in hospital with the virus and 159 in intensive care.


Of the new cases, 382 were in the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde area, 256 in Lanarkshire, 155 in Lothian, 108 in Ayrshire & Arran, 100 in Grampian, 79 in Tayside, 69 in Forth Valley, 58 in Fife, 44 in Highland, 32 in Dumfries & Galloway, 22 in the Borders, 2 in Shetland and none in Orkney or the Western Isles. 

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 the new more virulent strain 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 till, at least, the middle of February. Analysis by Public Health Scotland indicates that this new strain is responsible for half of the new cases. In Dumfries & Galloway the percentage caused by the B117 variation is 90%, and has necessitated the cancellation of operations at Dumfries Infirmary.

 

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 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 national agency for statistics in Russia has reported that the number of deaths there from the virus is more than 3 times higher than the official toll.

Health officials in Ireland say that a sudden severe deterioration in the country is the result of people not obeying socialising guidelines, and nothing to do with the new strain.

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.

In the Netherlands a stringent 5 week lockdown was announced on 14 December.

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

 

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.

 

Storm Christophe was causing chaos in Scotland, and also in England and Wales, as people woke up to snow and flood warnings on Thursday morning.

 

A petition is circulating, aiming to change the name of Prestwick Airport, used by Donald Trump on his visits to Turnberry, to Joe Biden International.

Charges have been dropped and Peter Krykant, who set up a safe space for drug users in a Glasgow van, will not now be prosecuted.

 

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.

8 multi-storey blocks of flats in Aberdeen have been given A-listed status.

Celtic FC manager Neil Lennon has given an extraordinary press conference in which he ranted against people who citicised the team for flying out to Dubai at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

 

Crustaceans and fish from Scotland might as well be left in peace to live out their natural lifespan in the sea, because Brexit rules mean that nobody in the EU countries will be eating them from now on.

 

Former First Minister Alex Salmond continues to shift media focus onto Nicola Sturgeon over a 4 day discrepancy on the matter of when she first heard about the allegations of sexual assault against him. Alex was cleared of all charges against him except one, on which the verdict was not proven, but his QC was overheard describing him as a sex pest and a bully.

 

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.

Two men have been arrested over the disappearance of cyclist Tony Parsons from Bridge of Orchy in September 2017. Human remains have been discovered, and are confirmed to belong to Mr Parsons.

 

With 8 days left, a Brexit agreement was reached between the Westminster government and the EU. The Scottish people now face the consequences.

A Facebook group, Glasgow Spirit of Christmas, provided 18,000 presents to children in 2020.

1,246 people in Scotland died directly from drug abuse in 2019. At Holyrood, Joe FitzPatrick was sacked from his job as Public Health Minister over the number of deaths.

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

Under a new law, rape victims in Scotland will be allowed to refer themselves for medical examination by a doctor without having to go to the police first.

 

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

There will be no Higher or Advanced Higher exams in Scottish schools next year.

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

Lucky folk in Fife will be the first in the world to be given hydrogen boilers for cooking and heating.

In Tayside, trials are taking place using a pill containing a tiny camera to perform the job normally done during a colonoscopy.

Covid-19 restrctions have not been able to prevent trafficking of women and girls into Scotland this year.

 

Grouse shooters will need to obtain licences following a measure adopted by the Scottish government.

It's no longer legal in Scotland for parents to hit their children. The rule applies even to dads who wear their pin striped suit and tie around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD

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

 

 

 

Biden's lead in the popular vote was approximately 7 million. The Electoral College formally confirmed him as the winner on 14 December.

Notwithstanding the above facts, a recording was made public in which Trump, on the telephone, tried to browbeat Georgia's Secretary of State into "finding" another 11,780 votes in order to make him the winner in the state. 

 

As an armed mob attacked the Capitol building in response to his rabble-rousing speeches and tweets, Trump told the rioters "we love you" in a video that Twitter refused to allow to be shared or retweeted because of the risk of violence. Later in the day his accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were all suspended, and he has now been banned from all three till after his term of office is over. A resolution to impeach him, for the second time, was laid with 9 days left in his presidency.

On his final full day, Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, some other rich white collar fraudsters and one or two celebrities, but not himself, or disappointingly for the world's tabloid papers, neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor Joe Exotic.

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

 

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; however, the new US government has proposed re-entering a missile-limiting pact with Russia.

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 have been 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.

 

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

At least 43 Africans have died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.

In China, 21 workers have been trapped in a gold mine for over a week following an explosion. One of the 21 has died of injuries sustained in the explosion that caused the disaster, and no contact has been made with another 10.

A man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the stabbing spree in Reading last year in which 3 gay men died and another 3 were injured.

12 villagers in Cameroon have now been added to the 36,000 people murdered by Boko Haram since their terrorist campaign began in 2009.

 

In Uganda, the harrassment of opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine continues. He was arrested, on spurious grounds, in the middle of a press conference and his family are staying in the USA for their own safety.

53 pro-democracy campaigners have been arrested for holding unofficial elections last year in Hong Kong.

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

A Spanish boat has rescued 265 Africans from the Meditteranean in two separate incidents.

Massacres are occcuring with terrifying frequency in Niger.

 

Sectarian killers in Pakistan abducted and shot 11 coal miners after identifying them as Hazara Shia Muslims.

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

On New Year's Eve, 25 villagers were murdered by terrorists in an incident in  DR Congo.

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 aiport in Antarctica.

An aeroplane carrying the new government of Yemen was attacked when landing at Aden. At least 26 people were killed.

For the first time, abortions are now legal, and free, in Argentina.

An independent journalist who reported on the dire situation a year ago in Wuhan has been sentenced to 4 years in prison.

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.

In Saudi Arabia, women's rights activist Loujain al-Lathloul has been convicted of terrorism and sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison. Among her offences was a campaign to allow women in Saudi to drive cars. Women are now allowed to drive but Ms al-Lathloul has been sent to gaol regardless.

A General Election took place in the Central African Republic, amid violence and mayhem regardless of the truce signed between the government and rebels in 2019. Ongoing violence has caused yet another African refugee crisis, while the Election itself was a farce.

4 men who murdered 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007 are among those pardoned by outgoing US President Donald Trump. The four were only prosecuted 5 years ago.

Dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam has been executed by hanging in Iran.

After terrorists carried out a massacre in a schoolyard in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Army was sent into the region of Tigray. Air strikes also took place on the order of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. In a significant escalation, rockets were fired from Tigray at Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, while several people were killed in the West of the country when gunmen attacked passengers on a bus. The UN has described the situation as a full-scale humanitarian crisis, and, as usual, it's civilians who bear the brunt. Stories are emerging of atrocities, like this one. More than 50,000 Tigrayans have fled to refugee camps in Sudan,

 

Another appalling massacre occurred in Ethiopia on 23 December. It's also now emerged that at least 75 people were killed by security forces following protests that took place after the shooting of dissident pop singer Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June 2020.

The government in Wales is increasing tax on second homes to help make up for a shortfall in money for social housing from the Westminster government.

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.

Claims by the government of Bangladesh that Rohingya refugees have moved 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.

The UN states that the number of people requiring humanitarian aid has increased this year by 40%, and that more than 80 million are now 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.

In Russia, a man suspected of being the "Volga Maniac" has confessed to murdering 26 women.

Billions of people in the most deprived parts of the world are suffering from a lack of clean water.

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.

The Brereton Report concluded that members of the Australian Defence Force murdered 39 Afghan citizens in non-combat circumstances during the years 2007 to 2013.

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.

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