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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
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Nurses across UK to strike for first time ever over low pay and unsafe staffing levels, more departments set to follow

nhs nurse strike
© Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
There are 47,000 unfilled NHS registered nursing posts in England alone with poor pay and morale being attributed to staff leaving.
Nurses across the UK will go on strike for the first time over two days in the fortnight before Christmas after ministers rejected their pleas for formal talks over NHS pay.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said its members would stage national strikes - the first in its 106-year history - on 15 and 20 December. Senior sources said the industrial action was expected to last for 12 hours on both days - most likely between 8am and 8pm.

The unprecedented national industrial action will seriously disrupt care and is likely to be the first in a series of strikes over the winter and into the spring by other NHS staff, including junior doctors and ambulance workers.

Comment: Strikes and protests are erupting across Europe over the unbearable cost of living, and with governments doing little to ameliorate people's suffering, it's likely that they will continue to grow, and they may boil over once the looming food shortages begin to bite and are accompanied by rolling blackouts:



Cardboard Box

Vegetable shortage threatens UK as supermarkets refuse to pay local farmers increased costs of production

empty shelves bare food shortages

FILE PHOTO: Salad staples including cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes could soon be in short supply as farmers warn they are being paid too little to grow them.
Salad staples including cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes could soon be in short supply as farmers warn they are being paid too little to grow them.

A combination of soaring energy costs and a lack of people to pick crops continues to affect Britain's vegetable industry, with many retailers having to import from abroad.


Comment: They don't have to import from abroad, as a farmer recently highlighted over the egg 'shortage', there's currently sufficient produce, big business just refuses to pay for it when it can import it and make more profit.


Tomatoes in particular have been badly affected due to the rising cost of using heated greenhouses.

And the 'cucumber capital of Britain', Lea Valley - which stretches from Hertfordshire and Essex to north London and produced around 75 per cent of Britain's cucumbers and peppers in 2020 - could see production at half its 2020 level by next year.

Comment: This is in addition to the tens of thousand of pigs that were dumped because lockdown backlogs meant they were 'too big for supermarket packaging', and, taken together, it doesn't take an expert to foresee that the UK will suffer extreme food shortages in the very near future:


Map

Ukrainian city names street after Nazi collaborator

Kiev march
© file photo
March commemorating Ukrainian nationalist leader and Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera
The city council of Vinnitsa in Ukraine announced on Friday it was renaming one of its streets after WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The local authorities described their drive to rid the city of all toponyms linked to Russia as a "process of decolonization."

The street previously bore the name of Leo Tolstoy, the 19th-century Russian author of world renown. Vinnitsa authorities said they paid "special attention" to memorializing those they described as "heroes of the national liberation struggle." Bandera, who led a nationalist movement responsible for many atrocities against Russians, Jews and Poles in WWII, is regarded as a national hero by the current Ukrainian authorities.

Another street was named after Ivan Treiko, one of the "generals" and the "military intelligence chief" of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a paramilitary group that also collaborated with the Nazis. Warsaw in particular has blamed the UPA for the genocide of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. The ethnic cleansing operations against Poles were ordered by Nazi Germany and carried out by paramilitary units that consisted primarily of ethnic Ukrainians.

Briefcase

Greta Thunberg joins climate lawsuit against Sweden

Thunberg
© Michael Sohn/AP
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in Berlin, Germany 2021
Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined hundreds of other youth activists in Stockholm on Friday to file a lawsuit against the Swedish government over its alleged inaction on climate change.

Thunberg said on Twitter:
"Today on Black Friday is the perfect day to sue the state over its insufficient climate policies. So that's what we did. See you in court!"
The 19-year-old was one of more than 600 young people who signed on to the lawsuit, which was organized and filed by the Swedish youth-led organization Aurora. The group marched to Stockholm District Court on Friday to file the suit.

Cardboard Box

US Black Friday online sales stagnate despite heavy discounts amidst soaring inflation

nike store

Shoppers walk up and down the stairs in a Nike store on Black Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in New York.
U.S. shoppers spent a record $9.12 billion online on Black Friday, a report showed Saturday, as consumers weathered the squeeze from high inflation and grabbed steep discounts on everything from smartphones to toys.


Comment: This may be revealing, because other news reports have stated that, prior to Black Friday, sales were down and stockrooms were full of inventory that needed shifting. So people may have been taking advantage of these steep discounts whereas the stores themselves are losing out on sorely needed profit.

The following chart from NPR shows how sales for this time of year might be 'record breaking', but in fact they're stagnating. It's telling that the reporting gives a much more positive, 'record breaking sales', spin:

black friday sales
© Ashley Ahn/NPR
Source: Adobe Analytics

Comment: The following interview provides some insight into the outlook of the average US shopper:


See also: UK restaurants going bankrupt at faster rate than during Covid lockdown, one-third could go bust by early 2023


Cell Phone

Your Chinese Apple

Chinese Apple
© Blue Moon of Shanghai
I want to make it clear from the start that I have no quarrel with Apple products. I am not an Apple fan, but millions of people love Apple products, mostly with good reason, and Apple has become a fad. However, there is a very dirty underbelly to all this, one that the Western and especially US media desperately hide, with a censorship that is total.

Apple today is in the news due to severe labor unrest at its main assembly plant in Zhengzhou, China, with the Western media providing about 98% misinformation. This is the last part of the legacy of Steve Jobs who created a kind of sociopathic monster behind the scenes that is not at all in keeping with the cute, pretty and friendly image Apple try to convey as a company.

Apple do not manufacture or assemble any of their products, all this being subcontracted to others with Apple simply collecting the profits. CPUs and specific parts are made in China, Taiwan, other nations, then all delivered to Apple's main assembly plant in Zhengzhou, China for assembly, testing, packaging and shipping. This is the source of all the trouble. The company in charge of this venture, a Taiwanese firm named Foxconn, has facilities in Zhengzhou with about one million workers for Apple products, a site that has been operated as virtually a concentration camp for years. The situation is well-known in China but not a single word appears to have ever escaped into the Western media.

These young people working for Foxconn assembling Apple products work very long shifts, live in "dormitories" that are little over 100 sq. ft. each, and are virtually prisoners in this "factory campus". The pressures have always been intense. Several years ago, it was so bad that there were flurries of suicides at the factory where young people were simply unable to withstand the strain and pressure. The pay has never been good and the working conditions, terrible. Those who accepted these jobs did so because they had few other choices, but the undercurrents of brutality were always there. The lack of concern for these young people in the West was unconscionable. I was stunned to read a report on the suicides in the Western media where someone wrote that the suicide rate per million for Foxconn employees was lower than that for China generally, and that this proved it was a good place to work. Aside from being untrue, I can scarcely imagine a heart more callous than to write something like that.

It is only due to the arrangement Jobs made with Foxconn that Apple is at all profitable - "the world's most valuable company". If those young people were employed at any normal facility, paid anything resembling a living wage, Apple would be nothing, at least financially. It has always been a surprise to me that the Chinese government didn't just shut the entire place down. One of the issues is that both Apple and Foxconn have consistently been permitted to violate almost all labor laws in China, usually by claiming unclear legislation. One result is that Apple has ensured its costs remain low by Foxconn requiring their staff to work 10 and 12 hours per day, sometimes 7 days a week, but somehow always neglecting or refusing to pay overtime.

Pistol

The Colorado gay club shooting is being used to shut down debate on child sexualization

Memorial
© Chet Strange/Getty Images via AFP
Memorial outside of Club Q on November 22, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Almost as repugnant as the deadly attacks that are occurring with alarming frequency in the United States is the speed with which certain individuals rush to politicize them. The Club Q massacre in Colorado Springs, which left five dead and 18 injured, was certainly no exception.

The Democrats' reaction kicked off with predictable calls for gun control. In this particular tragedy, however, the killer, 22-year-old Andersen Lee Aldrich, should never have been allowed to buy a gun in the first place. Moreover, he should have been high on the FBI's 'person of interest' radar.

A year-and-a-half before Aldrich went on his deadly shooting spree, this troubled young man (who, according to court documents, has now started to identify as non-binary and use the pronouns them/they) threatened his family with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors to evacuate while police talked him into surrendering. Yet, despite this, the district attorney of Colorado, Michael J. Allen, not only refused to press charges, but did not impose Colorado's red-flag laws, which would have prevented Aldrich from purchasing a firearm. Had the Democratic-run state of Colorado enforced its own laws, five people might still be alive today.

Dollars

Meta employees were reportedly fired for selling account information to hackers

keyboard
© Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images
Meta reportedly fired more than a dozen security guards and other workers in the last year after internal investigations revealed they had been selling users' information and login details to hackers. Some of those who received disciplinary actions were contractors who acquired information from users that were locked out or had trouble with their accounts.

The company utilizes a mechanism called "Oops" (Online Operations) to help users access or reset their accounts for Instagram or Facebook. The Wall Street Journal first reported that an internal probe found that some security guards were illegally accessing the accounts and providing the information to hackers for alleged bribes.

Oops is generally used as a last resort if users can't reach someone from Meta by email or phone and are supposed to be used for employees, their family, and friends. But as the number of employees rose, so did the number of requests that were filed. According to the WSJ, in 2017, Oops responded to about 22,000 recorded tasks which increased to 50,270 only three years later.

Shoe

Swiss football captain rejects World Cup virtue signaling, says team is not in Qatar to 'hand out lessons to anyone'

Granit Xhaka
© Stuart Franklin via Getty Images
Swiss football captain Granit Xhaka has rejected the deluge of virtue signaling taking place at the World Cup, asserting his team isn't in Qatar to "hand out lessons to anyone."

Since it began, the tournament has been beset by controversy over teams attempting to express their support for the LGBT movement in a country that still imprisons homosexuals.

FIFA has banned players from wearing 'OneLove' armbands, something the German team protested this week by placing their hands over their mouths during a pre-game photo.

Chart Bar

Poll: Only 28% of Americans are worried about COVID anymore

mask american flag
© Getty Images
78% believe the pandemic to be "over."

A Gallup poll has found that fewer than a third of Americans remain worried about COVID.

"Twenty-eight percent of Americans say they are 'very' or 'somewhat worried' they will get COVID — the lowest percentage Gallup has recorded since the summer of 2021," the pollster notes.