Had to happen really

Portugal recorded its worst daily coronavirus death toll on Sunday, with more than 85,000 infections and almost 1,500 deaths reported in the past week.

That is the highest rate worldwide in proportion to its population of more than 10 million, according to an AFP tally based on government figures.

So, here I am, sitting here, in the worst affected country in the middle of a pandemic respiratory virus.

I get a cold.

Yes, a damn cold. It’s not a ‘flu, not a covid, a cold. Given that I’ve not been anywhere nor met anyone quite how is a mystery. But there we are…..

Erm, Telegraph?

Thames project expands size by 70pc to bolster bid for freeport status
Managers of the 1,700-acre area hope it will be one of 10 zones to benefit from zero-tariff exports in post-Brexit boost

What tariffs does Britain apply to exports?

Freeports benefit from zero tariffs on goods for export,


They enjoy zero tariffs on imports of goods that are then re-exported. Which is something rather different, no?


NHS vaccine centres are offering Covid jabs to friends and family aged under 70 in breach of national policy, The Telegraph can disclose.

Senior NHS sources threatened to take disciplinary action against hospitals and GPs across the country offering leftover jabs to relatives and friends of staff despite being outside the top four priority cohorts.

Health bosses have insisted that drawing up a ‘friends and family list’ helps avoid waste by ensuring that they never throw away any Pfizer vaccine, which comes in boxes of 975 doses and can only be stored for five days once thawed.

However, ministers are understood to be determined that younger people with a connection to NHS staff should not be allowed to “jump the queue” over the vulnerable and elderly.

If the stuff would be wasted without an arm to put it into then there’s no queue being jumped, is there?

This is akin to that EU idiocy, not buying more Pfizer because that would be unfair to Sanofi.

Fairness ain’t the correct criteria here.


Putting policy on autopilot is not new. For the U.S. government, it began in 1935 when, with the guidance of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, our first female cabinet secretary, the Roosevelt administration introduced unemployment insurance as part of the New Deal. Employers pay into the system, so that laid-off workers can receive benefits. More workers are laid off in recessions, so more money is spent on benefits. Then in expansions, much less is spent.

Food stamps and progressive income taxes are also, in their own ways, automatic stabilizers.


In light of the pandemic, it was both humane and economically astute when, this past March, Congress made jobless benefits more generous through the CARES Act: The $600 a week federal supplement to state unemployment checks; the expanded eligibility for benefits; the increased number of weeks the unemployed could get support; the $1,200 direct checks to the vast majority of adults. It was all a strong start.

Then, political will eroded. The extra $600 expired on July 31, leaving millions with much less to make ends meet. In the meantime, a zombie debate over whether to renew that extra money — along with a bucket of other crucial economic benefits — dragged on for months.

The surest sign that automatic stabilizers stand a fighting chance of being included in the stimulus is that Ms. Yellen may be on board, too. She endorsed using automatic triggers this summer, explaining her reasoning that struggling Americans “need relief and support for as long as the job market remains weak.”

Those aren’t automatic stabilisers then because they’re not automatic, are they?

It’s an interesting assumption, isn’t it?

Biden Seeks to Define His Presidency by an Early Emphasis on Equity
Only two presidents before him have used their first weeks in office to push for equality with the same force, according to one historian.

That is assuming that equality and equity are the same thing. That “the same” is “fair”. They are not, in fact, synonyms but we’ve a world in which they increasingly are.

These people are fun, aren’t they?

Joe Biden has not hidden his disdain for Silicon Valley. Months before extremists stormed the Capitol, he warned that Facebook’s laissez-faire attitude to misinformation could “corrode our democracy”. He pledged to revoke immediately the digital giants’ shield against liability, which is the bedrock of the internet as we know it. On Wednesday, just a week into his presidency, he will be handed fresh evidence of Big Tech’s domination when the industry unveils another record set of financial results.

Consider Facebook. Analysts at Société Générale recently downgraded the stock to “sell”, simply because it was running out of human beings to sign up. After a sharp rise over the summer, more than 3.1 billion people use one of its apps at least once a month.

It is worth thinking about that number. About four billion people globally were on the internet in 2019, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Assuming a typical 7.5% annual increase for 2020, to 4.3 billion, then exclude the 900 million internet users in China, where Facebook is barred, and Mark Zuckerberg has reached 91% of the available market.

Someone creates something stunningly popular, free, which sweeps the global population.

Politics insists that politics will have to do something about that.

What are these idiots talking about?

His company’s tax savings, now Ratcliffe has moved to Monaco, have been estimated at £4bn.

She backs this up with a reference to Baron Sikka of all people.

And you’d think that someone might have grasped. Where Jim Ratcliffe lives changes where Jim Ratcliffe pays taxes. Where Ineos is incorporated/resident, changes where Ineos pays taxes. Where you pay taxes of course makes a difference to the amount of tax you pay.

But where Jim Ratcliffe lives and pays taxes does not change where Ineos is resident and pays taxes. Because they are different legal persons with different residencies, see?

Well, no, not really

Yesterday, as the impact of leaving the single market and customs union on 1 January became ever more clear, the Financial Times reported that the cost of a £12 bottle of wine in UK shops could rise by up to £1.50 a bottle because of the extra bureaucracy and charges affecting imports.

The price of a bottle of wine from the remnant EU might rise by that. But Malbec has been paying those charges all along so that price shouldn’t change.


One such is the recent story of the marriage registrar, or more accurately the woman who wished to be a marriage registrar.

She was refused the job because at times — during menstruation say — she would not be able to enter the mosque and therefore would not be able to work.

My own answer to this would be to appoint her along with the instruction that she should give warning, in advance, of her period.

Those who would use that mosque, or those mosques, for their marriages, would then have to wait and much good it will do them to face their prejudices.

But then I am not noted for the delicacy with which I approach religious questions.

Whippet or wippet?

Some folks here are opening a new pub. Which they’re calling “The Wippet”.

Now you and I know that it’s really “whippet” for the dog breed. But before I go and jeer at them (they are not native English speakers) is wippet an allowable spelling or are they just wrong?

So here’s a question for the economic statisticians

Poverty is less than 60% of median household income, equivalised.

OK. It’s also usually measured by looking at disposable income – after taxes and benefits. OK, should be, obviously.

But here’s the question. The median household income that that is supposed to be 60% of. Is that also disposable income? After taxes and benefits?

I’m sure it must be but on the other hand given the casuistry around poverty numbers it might, might, just, not be.

So, anyone know?

We must do more of what doesn’t work!

Pharmaceutical companies should do more to transfer vaccine technology to prevent the poorest countries falling behind in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, according to an expert.

The warning came from Dag-Inge Ulstein, the co-chair of the global council trying to speed up access to Covid vaccines for the world’s poor, known as the Act (Access to Covid-19 Tools) Accelerator. Ulstein, Norway’s international development minister, oversees the drive to ensure vaccines reach the poor – the Covax programme.

His remarks were amplified by his global health ambassador, John-Arne Røttingen, who told the Guardian that the battle to create equal access to vaccines was “at a very important turning point”. Other diplomats fear that if the issue of vaccine distribution is not resolved, it will result in years of resentment between rich and poor nations.

Samantha Power, the new USAid director, has also admitted the scheme is not on track, and the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointed out that only 25 people had been vaccinated in Africa compared with 39 million in rich countries, and said the world was on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure”.

The Act Accelerator is aiming to distribute 2bn doses of vaccines by the end of 2021 to world’s 92 poorer countries. Those countries can buy from elsewhere if they wish, but are unlikely to have the cash, and outside the scheme the price is likely to be higher.

It is now forecast that only 27% of those living in poor and medium income countries will be vaccinated this year, but there are fears that something deeper may be going wrong. Detailed forecasts issued by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, this week show Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, will only receive 140m doses by June through Covax.

So the task is badly handled by an international bureaucracy of tosspots. At which point we must give more power to, more money to, the international tosspots so they can handle matters more badly more.

Doesn’t sound like one of those reinforcing success plans, does it?

Well, P³ is right about this for a change

That, I think to be true. Have already culturally appropriated all that is British for the benefit of the European Union within his article, the willingness of Osborne to simply ignore the human rights of the people of Britain to determine their own future is nothing less than a suggestion that the deliberate enslavement of a country for the benefit of another should take place, facilitated by the denial of the expression of free will to the people of Britain.

In that context to describe the attitude as colonial was not enough. That would imply economic exploitation might continue, but Osborne has, I think, gone further. In his article he made clear that he knows a referendum would almost certainly be won now. So his argument was that Westminster should simply refuse one, ensuring as a consequence that the people of Britain will be held against their will, and with their rights ignored. What else is that but the attitude of a slaver?

It is, indeed, a very weak argument against a Brexit referendum, isn’t it?


Joe Biden is certainly well cast as the steadying presence come to clean up the mess. But the fear persists that the villain who created it will return. Donald Trump threatened as much in his last public statement as president, uttering the chilling words: “We will be back in some form.”

Given that Trump left the White House with his support among Republicans still at 82%, there is only one surefire way to ensure that never happens. Sixty-seven US senators – including 17 Republicans – will have to vote to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial for inciting an insurrection on Capitol Hill on 6 January. If they do that, then Senate Democrats can vote by simple majority to ban Trump from ever holding public office again.

We doesn’t mean Trump. We means the 78 million Americans who voted for him. Trump is a symptom, not a cause nor even a personification.

Well, yes Dennis, this is the problem

Each morning at 8am, for example, there is what is called “coordination” in Geneva, where all EU ambassadors, including until recently the British ambassador, meet to discuss what is on the agenda for decisions at the various UN agencies such as the WTO, the World Health Organization and numerous other bodies that decide international conventions and regulations Britain abides by.

Lions with flamethrowers is the correct answer to that sort of nonsense.

Rhiannon Lucy’s a bit girly for The Guardian these days, isn’t she?

I’m all locked down with nowhere to go – but that hasn’t killed my lust for fashion
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Modern feminism, eh?

100 years ago men said that women were only interested in fripperies like fashion. 50 years ago women proclaimed that they were strong, independent and interested in the important things in life, not the fripperies. Today the self-proclaimed feminist is back to the 1920s and flappers talking about hemlines.

It’s as with that thing about periods over the same time. Can’t employ women old boy, they go mad once a month! The Dworkins and others pointed out that this was bullshit because of course women have been dealing with life while menstruating for as long as the species has existed. Today the demand is that extra days off must be granted in order to have periods.

Can’t help thinking there’s a certain regression going on here.