The important thing for Johnson on his US trip was that unlike many other foreign leaders he had his 90 minutes in the Oval Office with Biden. Even though the US is not quite a powerful as it was pictures like the one above are much treasured by foreign leaders.
It is the two leaps that come from there that I have greater issues with.
Firstly, yes, the Wuhan lab either had - or was - engaged in Gain of Function research. Here's the thing. CV19 is an odd virus to come of GoF research. Normally, you see, you're trying to discover what it is that causes a virus to be virulent. But CV19 isn't particularly virulent. It's feature that's unique (and somewhat similar to HIV/AIDS) is a long incubation period during which the virus is undetectable. It is unclear to me how such a characteristic could have been bred in Gain of Function research, and a lot of scientists who are generally lab leak believers think similarly.
Secondly, the evidence that CV19 can infect over 200 mammalian species doesn't speak to whether it is lab leaked or not. But it does suggest that it is highly unlikely that it was developed as some kind of weapon. Pretty much every biological weapon* ever even considered for use has been single species, for fairly obvious reasons.
Of course, these considerations don't mean CV19 wasn't a GoF creation (or even a biological weapon). Or, indeed, that it wasn't the consequence of something natural (like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, SARS and MERS).
The reality is that without a confession (or probably multiple confessions), we won't know for sure. And absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
We therefore have to rely on the balance of probabilities.
But this somewhat misses the point. Whether it was entirely zoonotic in origin, whether it was caused by a bat collector getting bitten, by a vial being broken, or even GoF research, the Chinese government had the opportunity to tell the world of the dangers of CV19, and chose not to.
They could have followed the Gorbachev Chernobyl response and opened the kimono. They chose not to. They chose to "save face" and in doing so, international travel stayed open both from China, and more generally, for weeks longer than should have been the case. If two doublings had been avoided, the world's death toll from CV19 would have been reduced by 75%. And Delta may not have happened.
That explicit decision not to open up to the world about what China was seeing with CV19 was a crime, and one that is vastly more serious than whether or not CV19 was a product of GoF research.
* With the exception of anthrax, which is a bacterial infection.
Lab grown meat will never scale enough to be profitable and would be incredibly vulnerable to contaminants if it did
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a Tunguska type meteoric airburst, not for the reason we thought
Personally, I have my doubts about the cost/benefit of virus hunting; not so for gain of function research as a whole. Unless we can understand transmissibility and pathogenicity at a molecular and biophysical level, we will not be able to develop the best ways to protect ourselves against and treat infectious diseases.
We know the answer is b).
Further, did they continue telling the world that the outbreak was an animal to human one long after they knew otherwise? Several months even? Looks likely.
As far as I’m concerned, China committed an act of biological warfare on the world. These actions indicate the purposeful spread internationally of a pathogen. Doesn’t matter if it originated from a bat or a lab or some combination thereof.
Imagine if this chain of events had happened not in Wuhan but Pyongyang? The only reason people deny this is an act of biological warfare is because they are scared of China and what it might mean for them personally if the global economic order is upturned.
The UK should absolutely be prepared to invoke A16 of the NI Protocol if necessary but make absolutely clear we will not build or implement a hard border either between NI and Eire, or NI and GB.
Everyone knows he’s an *ice cream* eating surrender monkey.
If it turned out they created the virus on purpose to use as a weapon then that would be biological warfare, but that seems to be less credible than the competing lab leak theories.
Coincidence? Or ...
Hopefully that will be sustained or increase over the next couple of weeks and calm the energy market down. Plus, let us build up our gas reserves.
Hopefully this will continue for a while to allow some stability to re-establish itself in the market.
One hopes this is not deliberate but even two accidental breaches of the same type might lead an honourable minister to resign. No chance of that then but "steps have now been taken to ensure this does not happen in the future," according to the MoD. Let us also hope steps have been taken to protect and extract those whose safety has been compromised.
Once they knew they had a problem, they needed to ensure it became everyone’s problem. Surprised someone who’s spent so long in Asia doesn’t realise this.
I don't think they leaked it from the lab on purpose, they did let it leak from China on purpose though.
I imagine Putin has ordered every pump truck within 500km of Sochi, to head to the circuit immediately!
Have a good morning.
Tesco warns that Christmas panic-buying will out-strip the start of the pandemic
"Just pay more" has not fixed the logistics crisis
Let us recruit externally to make it through the winter
This is the point where the ministers say "our supply chain is fine" despite having been told by the supply chain it is not.
Nobody actively wants an energy crisis and a food crisis. I'm not posting this for kicks. We have a government who just brushes away problems with platitudes and refuses to act until the absolute last second. If we repeat this pattern of behaviour the threat is a cold hungry Christmas.
What I don't understand is the "what crisis" messaging. On energy they can blame decades of inaction and spin direct intervention as something for COP26, "cutting our reliance on foreign dirty energy" or something. On food they can blame the EU and have a "patriotic call for British drivers and British workers" with an incentive payment to bring people in.
Instead, nothing. With boulder sized lumps of shit to rain down on them if they let this happen.
I've got an idea. How about ... Pay people more?
If employers want an incentive payment to bring people in, they can do that. The state doesn't need to get involved.
To add, Ferrari have updated engines this weekend, so might be a bit further up the grid than usual.
On energy the danger of being overly reliant on wind without adequate storage has been vividly shown by the last month and this has exacerbated an international problem. We clearly need to store at least 10x the amount of gas we currently do in this country, arguably 20x. That is going to cost someone money but it is in the government's interest to ensure such vulnerability does not happen again. This morning we have got up to 14gw of wind power which will reduce the pressure enormously. Yesterday we were getting 15% from solar. If we get anything like that today we will have 45% wind, 15% solar, 17% nuclear, 3% odds and sods and only about 20% gas.
But more storage is not a short term fix. It will take years.
Perhaps it’s time to order the Christmas Eve bottle of port now.
When we will get a truly bold Chancellor prepared to step up with a state owned provider of cheap as chips last resort working capital finance? And to abolish VAT, which serves as a cashflow drain all along the supply chain, and replace with a retail sales tax?
Instead we seem to be stuck with yet another Tory sixth former who just wants to sit there and think about nothing else but fiscal rules set by Treasury mandarins.
Paul Scully on @TimesRadio this morning: people who have to shift from bust energy providers will not be able to keep the same tariff.
The state intervenes when the market fails. Energy companies have folded, the state has a provider of last resort mechanism. It wasn't economical to make fertiliser and thus CO2, the state gave the company a large wodge of cash.
So the state can intervene and has for other things. They won't here because Brexit can't be seen as having any downsides.
My supplier went out of business in May and Ofgem appointed EDF who extended my contract terms with the previous supplier by 3 months to the end of August then I agreed a new 2 year contract with EDF at a higher tariff as you would when any contract concludes
The lack of knowledge by those who tweet and post these comments show they simply do not have knowledge of the subject
Why did they give Centrica etc permission to remove storage for profit? Having been warned that the impacts of leaving the European energy market would be a significant risk to gas prices mitigated against only by that storage?
Smuggling is already possible and profitable because taxes are very different on different sides of borders and that was the case within the EU. Taxes on tobacco, alcohol etc can be wildly different in different sides of border - that fuels smuggling more than some difference in product standards.
Say we need 400,000 drivers and only have 300,000. You can pay £1m a driver but it won't solve the shortfall as it requires training and time to fix that.
Currently all we are discovering is how much the most desperate firm is willing to pay to steal workers from elsewhere.
There is no reason for the government to save these companies. None of them actually supply anything, they are just billing companies. So have one of the bigger ones send the bills.
Punters will complain when the price of energy skyrockets and then the ministers will care. We aren't there yet. Allowing the likes of Centrica to scrap gas storage at the same time as exiting the regulated market so that we can only buy at the spot price was fucking stupid though. Its almost like they hadn't thought it through...
Will keep current tariff
Will NOT keep tariff
one or other statement cannot be true.
It seems much more likely that there were several decision makers at different levels of the hierarchy who were unable to admit to the seriousness of the situation, preferring to hope for the best and save face in the short term.
That's pretty much what happened repeatedly in the UK, and most everyone on here is quick to criticise any accusation that a more competent response could have saved tens of thousands of lives, let alone an accusation that those deaths resulted from malevolence.
That's not to excuse the delay in taking action in either case, but I think an accusation of malevolent intent is hyperbole at best and more likely an example of a conspiracy theory.
Gas storage was losing a very large amount of money at the time:
When the closure was announced, the government was confident that the UK had a "robust and resilient energy market" - iow, they didn't want to pay for it, either.
Big money to reopen it, and the planning would have to be on a decades, not year by year basis.
If you paid every driver £1m then you'd have record amounts of drivers joining the market (or rejoining it) so supply of drivers would go up.
Plus if every driver cost £1m then many companies would find its no longer profitable to pay for a driver afterall since they weren't going to make £1m of marginal profit on the journey, so demand would drop.
I'm not sure where the equilibrium point is but pretty sure it'd be well below £1m.
What will this mean? Logistics companies folding. What used to be NFT is about to topple (again) and its unlikely that PE will step in to save it this time. Which rather fucks Asda and Sainsburys chilled supplies. Yes the vehicles can be bought (as we also have a shortage of those due to Brexit) and the drivers hired by a new company. That takes time though.
Its not a major crime, just a little embarrassing.
It may fix it a year down the line but qualified lorry drivers with 6 months experience (the point at which insurance isn't utterly insane) don't appear from thin air.
Yes you can start recruiting them today but it will still be 9-12 months before they meet the criteria above.
On 14 September 2021, Utility Point stopped trading so Ofgem (the industry regulator) chose EDF as your new energy supplier. EDF started supplying your energy on 18 September. Your prices will be matched to Standard (Variable) to give you a guaranteed rate through winter, as well as protection from changing wholesale energy prices. These are our cheapest prices^. We're delighted to welcome you on board.
^ Standard (Variable) is EDF's cheapest tariff (excluding our GoElectric range of tariffs, designed for EV drivers) based on national average prices at Ofgem typical consumption (standard electricity meter 2,900 kWh, Economy 7 electricity meter 4,200 kWh (58% on day rate and 42% on night rate), and Gas 12,000 kWh), when purchased directly from EDF (correct as of 20 September 2021).
"Just use another firm" I hear Philip say. Yes, one of our customers uses DPD. The same. Another Hermes. The same. They are all fucked. Because you can't attract people to do the work at any money with no training at the drop of a hat.
One of the advantages according to him is that brewery CO2 is extremely pure and already at food grade and will be produced very cheaply after the initial investment.
He was surprised (but not shocked) that the government hasn't pursued this as lots of European countries do it already which is why their CO2 prices are up just 1-2x vs 5x over here with no issues for food preparation in the countries that do it.
That is exactly what happened to my contract
EDF took it over in May, extended the same terms for 3 months beyond its previous expiry date and only sought a new contract then
So same tariff and an extra 3 months was very fair
Thousands of redundant pilots have taken early retirement, started businesses or moved to cargo operations. Most of them will need extensive revalidation of their licences, having not flown for a couple of years. Training a new Captain takes six or seven years, and 5,000 hours of flying.
Years ago payroll and tax was a manual task, so the Budget could be held in March for changes in April.
Now everything is done with software so the budget was moved back to October / November so software developers had time to develop and incorporate any changes required.
Hammond then moved it back to March only to discover that means everything needs to be announced a year in advance, which is why Rishi is moving it back to October / November.
And the thing that you miss is that EDF was happy for you to be on your existing contract (so happy they extended it for 3 months). I can't imagine any company is willing to do that at the moment..
It also lowers demand for drivers.
Still waiting news on my new supplier, guess it will take a few days
On the original quotes, Kwarteng is wrong, per Ofgem guidance (unless the government is paying new suppliers to honour the bust suppliers' deals - as others have noted, I think that would be wrong, altough it would benefit me)
There are brief straw man arguments about other parties, but nothing meaning anything.
The sub-heading captures the tedium in a single dull phrase:
"The role of government is to give every person, every community, and every business the tools they need to contribute to our success"
Get a grip lads.