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Fri, 14 Aug 2020
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The real problem with test and trace in the UK: Contact tracers have nothing to do because there are so few cases

self isolate billboard
The UK's 'world-beating' NHS Test and Trace has hit the rocks once more. Now the service plans to axe 6,000 of its contact tracers so the work can be assigned to local authorities.

It's not surprising that the jobs have gone. For months, test-and-trace staff have complained that they are essentially being paid to sit around and watch Netflix, while making only a handful of calls. Boredom is kept at bay in some call centres by team leaders providing fun quizzes.

The Guardian reported this week that in one of the subsidiaries, 471 agents managed to make just 135 calls in two days. That's just 0.4 calls per person per day - and that includes calls to incorrect numbers, calls which went to voicemail, and calls to people who had already been contacted in error. One tracer claims that on one occasion, the same individual was contacted 20 times. In some weeks, the service has contacted less than half of the contacts of people with a positive Covid test. Though the success rate has risen to around seven in 10 since, SAGE estimates that at least 80 per cent of contacts would need to self-isolate for the scheme to be effective.

Despite the name, NHS Test and Trace is not run by the NHS at all. It is headed by Dido Harding, Conservative peer and former CEO of TalkTalk, and the work is split between two outsourcing companies - Serco and Sitel. In some cases, these firms then subcontract the work further to call centres.

Comment: Given the relatively low numbers of people actually contracting Covid-19, Contact Tracing seems to be dead on arrival. But that doesn't mean that the social engineers and technocrats won't have a "use" for their ridiculous surveillance architecture should the hystericized corporate media be tasked with drumming up the fear trauma again.

Gold Bar

Providing for the future: Despite Covid-19 crisis & falling oil prices, Russia's gold & foreign exchange reserves reach all-time high

gold bar ruble bank notes
© Getty Images / Diy13
In gold and rubles we trust.
The value of Russia's gold and foreign currency holdings has risen by almost $9 billion in a week. This means it's sitting on $600 billion in forex reserves - an all-time record beating August 2008's previous high of $598 billion.

That was just before the global financial crisis, or 'Great Recession', which wreaked havoc worldwide towards the end of the 2000s. Back then, the slush fund started to dwindle rapidly, due to the economic crisis, and lost over $100 billion in value in the following three months.

Comment: Putin is positioning Russia's finances to weather the inevitable economic crunch coming from a world monetary system awash in unpayable debt. It "pays" to pay attention to reality.


Atheists for Trump? David Silverman reacts to Biden naming Harris with 'Are You Serious?' face, saying he might vote red

Silverman meme/K. Harris
© Reuters/Carlos Barria
David Silverman, immortalized meme ‘Are You Serious?’ • Joe Biden's VP pick, Kamala Harris
David Silverman, one of America's most prominent atheists, says he's so troubled by the Democratic Party's radical shift to the left and the mowing down of libertarian principles that he may do the unthinkable: vote Trump.

Silverman's face became a popular online meme after his 2011 stand-off with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, in which he reacted with a particularly perplexed face to the host's "tide goes in, tide goes out" argument supposedly proving the existence of God. It now appears that Joe Biden's Tuesday pick of the Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) as his running mate has triggered a new major "Are You Serious?" moment for David.

"I'm literally thinking of voting red right now," Silverman tweeted Tuesday, after the news about Harris broke. "I used to say 'I'm so blue I make the sky look red.' I haven't changed. The left has."

Comment: Have the Democrats 'left the left? Some of their true-blue followers are coming to that conclusion. The outrageous mockery and momentum of US politics will determine its hand and the public shall succumb to the consequences no matter the party, ethics or circumstance.


Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai freed on bail as activist Agnes Chow calls her arrest 'political persecution, suppression'

Arrest Jimmy Lai
© Handout
Jimmy Lai was released on bail shortly after midnight on Tuesday following his arrest under the national security law on Monday morning.
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was released on police bail shortly after midnight on Tuesday, more than 40 hours after he was arrested for foreign collusion under the new sweeping national security law and had spent part of the day taken in handcuffs to his moored yacht for a search.

He appeared outside Mong Kok Police Station to loud chants of "Support Apple! Support till the end!" from dozens of supporters who jostled with the hordes of waiting media.

He waved and got into his car, which had to move slowly as it was swiftly surrounded by journalists and well-wishers. Lai's bail was set at HK$300,000 (US$38,461), plus a HK$200,000 surety.

Comment: See also:

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested, accused of 'collusion with foreign forces' under new security law


Epstein's suspected 'madam' claims her conversations with lawyers are illegally recorded

sketch Maxwell
© Reuters/Jane Rosenberg
Courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell
The British socialite and Jeffrey Epstein's friend and ex-partner faces a mid-2021 trial on six federal charges, which she has pleaded not guilty to. If found guilty, she faces up to 35 years behind bars.

Ghislaine Maxwell's attorneys have claimed that her private Brooklyn jailhouse calls with them are being unlawfully recorded, in violation of New York State laws, according to a newly unveiled filing handed over to a federal judge.

Although her initial jail conditions were even stricter, as she was put on suicide watch following her long-sought arrest in early July, she remains in solitary confinement, in "uniquely onerous conditions", the lawyers claim. "[Maxwell] continues to be surveilled 24 hours a day by security cameras and by multiple prison guards, many of whom do not appear to be regular MDC personnel", the filing released by the media reads.


Music professor threatens to sue university for investigating him over defense of 'racist' composer

Heinrich Schenker

Heinrich Schenker
The University of Northern Texas denies that its investigation into an academic journal accused of racism will chill the academic freedom of faculty.

Timothy Jackson, a distinguished university research professor, is under investigation with other editors at the Journal of Schenkerian Studies. Students and faculty publicly condemned both the editors and the journal for a recent volume that debated the namesake of the journal, the 19th century composer Heinrich Schenker (above).

Jackson is considering legal action against the university, his attorney Michael Allen told The College Fix via email. "Please understand that Professor Jackson," who is currently ill, "is fighting for his life's work right now," and the investigation has had an "immediate and detrimental effect on" the professor's health, Allen said.

He said "at least one individual" has "indicat[ed] they were coerced into signing the petitions that now swirl around the internet denouncing" Jackson and his journal. The lawyer was not more specific about this individual or Jackson's illness.

The controversial volume was a response to a 2019 paper, and later a plenary address, by Hunter College Prof. Philip Ewell in the Society for Music Theory's journal Music Theory Online. Ewell's paper sought to explain the "white racial frame" that is "structural and institutionalized" in the field of music theory.

The black professor argued that Schenker was "an ardent racist and German nationalist" whose ideas exist "to benefit members of the dominant white race of music theory."


Mother of arrested Key West boy suing city, police officers, teacher and school district

florida police arrest child school
© Key West Police Department
Screen shot from Key West Police body cam footage
Lawyers for the mother of a now 10-year-old boy who Key West police officers tried to handcuff in 2018 at his elementary school after he was accused of punching a teacher filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against the school district, the city, the individual officers involved as well as the teacher and two school officials.

The video of the incident at Gerald Adams Elementary School in Key West received national attention this week after the attorney for the mother, civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, posted it on his Twitter account Monday morning.

It outraged police critics already angry over the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency room technician shot and killed in March in her Louisville, Kentucky, home by police serving a no-knock warrant, looking for drugs. No drugs were found in the home.

The video also stoked concerns over how police handled cases involving minors, including the handcuffing of a 6-year-old girl in Orlando at her school in September 2019.


Hong Kong court acquits district councillor of police assault charge; magistrate says officers 'told lie after lie'

Jocelyn Chau.
© Jocelyn Chau, via Facebook
Jocelyn Chau.
A Hong Kong court found Eastern District Councillor Jocelyn Chau and her assistant not guilty of assaulting police on Wednesday, after ruling the officers concerned were "unreliable" witnesses" who "told lie after lie."

Chau, 23, and her 23-year-old male assistant Lao Chak-hin were accused of attacking Constable Hui King-yiu outside North Point's Kiu Kwan Mansion on August 11, 2019. On that day, protests broke out across multiple districts in opposition to a now-axed extradition law. Chau and Lao were reportedly broadcasting live on Facebook near to where some men had assaulted passerby and journalists nearby.

According to local media, Eastern Court Magistrate Stanley Ho said the case was mainly based on testimonies by officer Hui and Senior Inspector Lam King-nin, as the alleged attack was not recorded in the footage submitted to court.

Both Hui and Lam told the court that people were shouting profanities at Chau and Lao, so they decided to stop the duo out of concern for their safety and urged them to leave. But magistrate Ho said the footage showed there was no conflict at the scene, questioning the description given by the officers: "It was like describing another parallel universe," Ho said.

Ho went on to say that the officers were "frivolous" and had appeared to attempt to block Chau's camera. He raised doubts over why the police asked Chau and Lao to leave the scene, rather than intervening in the party that started the conflict.


Metro Nashville council member wants people not wearing a mask to be charged with murder or attempted murder

Sharon Hurt
Metro Nashville At-Large Council Member Sharon Hurt said Wednesday during a virtual meeting of the Joint Public Safety and Health Committee that there should be stronger legislation for those not wearing masks and suggested they be charged with murder or attempted murder.

Hurt said that she works for an organization that, "If they pass the virus, then they are tried for murder or attempted murder."

Hurt thinks the same standard should apply to the general public.

"This person who may very well pass this virus that's out in the air because they're not wearing a mask is basically doing the same thing to someone who contracts it and dies from it," she said.

"Maybe there needs to be stronger legislation to say that if you do not wear a mask, and you subject exposure of this virus to someone else then there will be some stronger penalty as it is in other viruses that are exposed," the council member added.

Hurt's suggestion comes as the Nashville-Davidson County COVID-19 dashboard indicates a recent decline in new daily cases of COVID-19 and a fatality rate of 0.9 percent.


Photos show Ghislaine Maxwell, Jean-Luc Brunel on Epstein's 'Pedo Island'

Ghislaine Maxwell  Jean-Luc Brunel
Ghislaine Maxwell and modeling-agency pal Jean-Luc Brunel are seen together on Epstein's "Pedophile Island."
Bombshell new photos obtained by The Post show Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex-victim recruiters — Ghislaine Maxwell and modeling-agency pal Jean-Luc Brunel — romping together on the hedge-funder's "Pedophile Island.''

The stunning snaps offer an inside look at the pair's this-close relationship — and a slice of life on Epstein's disturbing paradise-turned-orgy isle.

The cozy pair was caught playfully nuzzling on camera, with Brunel grabbing Maxwell and appearing to jokingly try to kiss her as she covers herself.

In another photo, Maxwell wraps her arms around the laughing talent-agency honcho's waist and buries her head in his stomach.