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 on: May 12, 2024, 09:45:37 AM 
Started by Iniko Ujaama - Last post by Iniko Ujaama

Documentary on one of the figures on the development of samba.

 on: May 12, 2024, 09:45:13 AM 
Started by Iniko Ujaama - Last post by Iniko Ujaama

Documentary on one of the figures on the development of samba.

 on: August 21, 2022, 01:05:43 PM 
Started by Tyehimba - Last post by Iniko Ujaama
Below is the transcript to the videos by Prof. Dianne M. Stewart on the history and origin of Obeah and Vodou which is no longer available on YouTube.

Obeah Part 1(Dianne Stewart formerly Diakite)

Obeah is a Caribbean traditions and South American tradition that emerged during the slave period ...and we begin to see records detailing Obeah in the 18th century. Certainly we can assume that enslaved Africans were practicing their spiritual traditions which were often understood to be Obeah before the 18th century. But this is when we begin to see a plethora of descriptions of Obeah traditions. Obeah is a very difficult phenomenon to unravel.  Why? Because the colonial order saw Obeah as a menace. Obeah was criminalized, policed and censored throughout the slave and colonial period.
When we look at Jamaica,(which is a very important island to examine, because Jamaica was Britain's most treasured and profitable island colony during the 18th century) we see, for example, the colonial establishment did not take Obeah seriously until about 1760 when Tacky's revolt was toppled. It was discovered that Obeah was like a foundation for the conspirators in the revolt. Obeah was given new attention by the colonial establishment, So Obeah came to signify for the colonial officials, evil magic, black magic, anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour and unfortunately it has developed that kind of reputations even for Caribbean people of African descent today. But that's not the full story. If we really look at the wide range of descriptions about Obeah, we often see that Obeah was also used for healing. Obeah signified knowledge of botanical herbs and their properties. So I like to think of Obeah as a repository of skills, talents, knowledges, spiritual powers, spiritual grammars that orient people toward deploying power, either for healing and health or for example, for weaponry and warfare.

Scholars have linked the term itself to two plausible origins in Africa. That doesn't mean that only people from those regions in Africa were a part of Obeah, but the Bight of Biafra region which contributed a lot of captive Africans to the Caribbean has the term Dibia which means doctor or healer; and Abiya which means esoteric knowledge. And then in Akan traditions we find the words Obeye(Obay-yay) which means neutral mystical power. And so I like to see Obeah more as neutral power that can oriented toward any intention. And one of the intentions for the enslaved communities was to utilize Obeah as an aggressive force for weaponry and warfare against the colonial establishment. And we see Obeah at the root of every slave revolt in Jamaica in the 18th century all the way through the Sam Sharpe revolt of 1831 which involved 60,000 enslaved African on the island.

Obeah Part 2(Dianne Stewart)

Vodou means god or spirit. Voodoo is a Fongbe term that originates among West African populations. It's shared by the Fon and other Aja speakers in regions of former Dahomey which is now modern day Benin Republic; (Republic of Benin the country), Ghana. (there is a small group of communities that practice Vodou in Ghana) and Togo; and some people actually argue that Togo is the home – really the homeland of Vodou. So Togo is a very important region that is not often examined as well. Vodou made its way to Haiti during slavery and one of the misconceptions I think people have of Vodou in terms of its origins is that people think “Oh it's only from 'those peoples'”. When we look at the research of scholars who have studied Vodou across the 20th century, we find that Vodou was almost like an initiatory structure that held – had the capacity to organize enslaved Africans under 'nations'. So you have the Senega(?) nation, you find the Congo nation, you find the Ibo nation, all within the structure of Vodou. It;s a very complex tradition that also synthesized other African traditions within the framework of Vodou. Vodou... People will be surprised to know that when we go to the etymology of Vodou the term can mean, literally “rest a while by the cool waters, because if you rush you will die”. Vodou really is about a certain type of contemplation, a connection with the spirits. I remember the former president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide writing that a true Voduisant is a server of the spirits. People often ask in Haiti, “do you serve the spirits?”. People often think of Vodou in Haiti as a musical genre or a dance genre, because that's how you get into connection with the ancestors and the spirits. And it's about maintaining kinship bonds, relational ties, so that the visible community and the invisible community is nurtured and can live in fulfilling ways. Vodou is a way of life with ritual encoding dance , including a theology, a philosophy, initiation practices. It is not some sort of evil magical tradition of sticking pins in dolls. In fact, I wonder if people don't realize where that stereotype comes from. There are some African foundations for why that stereotype might have emerged, in the tradition of Bolchio or in the Kongo tradition of Nkisi or Minkisi. There are also those foundations in Europe. It was Europe which had the tradition of sticking pins in dolls actually and a lot of people don't know that. But those traditions are related in many cases to health and healing cultures; therapeutic cultures. That “if I'm struggling or suffering from something and I stick a nail in a particular image that I've made, that's the area from which I want healing. So a lot of those traditions were misunderstood, Also it's just inappropriate to reduce Vodou to mystical technologies. Mystical technologies are a part of Vodou tradition but Vodou tradition is so much more when you begin to think of the actual deities or loa, as they are called, and how they engage the visible community. The elaborate ritual life that is required to be in relationship with them. We really see a religious culture at work.

 on: November 23, 2021, 08:08:50 AM 
Started by Alyse - Last post by Tyehimba
The Origins of Sex

    July 7, 2015 in Science 0

In the landmark 1986 book Origins of Sex, biologist Lynn Margulis and science writer Dorion Sagan trace the first appearance of sex back billions of years, to bacteria. Here, they describe the complex evolutionary history that their book will seek to untangle. The following is an excerpt from the introduction.

Everyone is interested in sex. But, from a scientific perspective, the word is all too often associated with reproduction, with sexual intercourse leading to childbirth. As we look over the evolutionary history of life, however, we see that sex is the formation of a genetically new individual. Sex is a genetic mixing process that has nothing necessarily to do with reproduction as we know it in mammals. Throughout evolutionary history a great many organisms offered ad exchanged genes sexually without that sex ever leading to the cell or organism copying known as reproduction. Although additional living beings are often reproduced by a contribution of genes from more than a single parent, sex in most organisms is still divorced from growth and reproduction, which are accomplished by nonsexual means.

Biologically, sex is part of the rich repertoire of life. Any specific instance of a sexual event is complex. Each event in a sexual process—for example, fertilization in a plant or animal—has its own specific history. Originally unrelated phenomena, such as genetic exchange (as in DNA recombination) and cell reproduction, often became entangled after having evolved from separate beginnings. The story of sex starts with an account of the earliest life on Earth. The private activities of early cells are involved even today in courtship among human beings. The intimate behavior of single cells has simply been elaborated to include animals and their behaviors and societies. Mammalian sex is a very late and special variation on a far more general theme.

The origin of sex is a problem that has long perplexed. It lends itself to innovative mythmaking (mythopoiesis); many cultures have imagined a primordial unisexual oneness that, under the influence of a celestial personality, was split into light and dark, heaven and earth, male and female, and so on. In the march of knowledge, however, mythical accounts of the origin of sex have been abandoned. We now realize, thanks to the insights of Darwinian evolution, that the sexual differences that loom so large in the daily lives of men and women did not arise at some specific time in the history of the human species. Evolution takes us far beyond the origin of apes and men, who at their first appearance were undoubtedly already fully sexual. Sex itself arose even earlier than the many species of sexual creatures with which we are familiar. It was present on the Earth when microbes, organisms that cannot be seen without a microscope, totally dominated the planetary surface. Sex was here for hundreds of millions of years before the first animals or plants appeared.

What keeps organisms that have sexual differences from devolving into the asexual state is, as we shall show, a completely different matter from how sex came about in the first place. Biologists, although they have tried, have not been able to prove that sexual organisms have an intrinsic advantage over asexual ones. Many have struggled with the question of how sexual organisms can afford to expend the biological “cost” of mating in every generation. Asexual organisms, since they can have more offspring per unit time, are, in Darwinian terms, more “fit.” this sort of analysis implies that sexuality should disappear. But in animals sexuality is tenaciously maintained. We show here that this problem of the maintenance of sex (that which keeps animals and plants from becoming asexual) must be clearly distinguished from the problem of the origins of sex (the ways in which sex first evolved). There has been some confusion between these two aspects of sexual theory. The mix-up between remaining sexual and becoming sexual is one which we will try to steer well clear of throughout this book.

The origin of sex was not a one-time event. Sex is not a singular but a multifaceted and widespread phenomenon; it has developed several times, at the very least. The two most consequential appearances of sex were in tiny microbes—a half to about five micrometers long. Sex first appeared in bacteria. Later, in larger, more complex microbes called “protists,” a new and different kind of sex evolved. Sex in bacteria is a biological mixing and matching on the molecular level: the splicing and mending of DNA molecules. Bacterial sexuality is very different from the meiotic sex of protists, fungi, plants, and animals, and it evolved far earlier. Meiosis, or cell division resulting in reduction in the number of chromosomes, and subsequent fertilization, or reunion of cells to reestablish the original chromosomal number, first occurred in protists. Protists, microbes generally from ten to a hundred micrometers long, are ancestral to fungi, animals, and plants. As protists evolved and gave rise to these other groups of organisms, sex was preserved. From a cellular vantage point, human sex is almost identical to that of some of the protistan microbes.

Excerpted from Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Copyright 1986.


 on: April 17, 2021, 08:27:26 AM 
Started by Iniko Ujaama - Last post by Iniko Ujaama
Bongo Wisely and Priest Isaac


 on: December 06, 2020, 07:36:47 PM 
Started by Makini - Last post by Makini
Privileged people, privileged plants
A study of Cape Town’s plant life shows how post-apartheid poverty and inequality is mirrored in and exacerbated by ecological patterns

From 1948 until the early 1990s, the practice of institutionalised racism, known as apartheid, was in place in Cape Town and across South Africa.

The ghost of apartheid lives on not only as developmental, educational and wealth disparities, but also in the ecologies of the city.

A study published in Landscape and Urban Planning highlights the connection between the racial composition and wealth of a neighbourhood and its level of ecological poverty.

Centre researchers Erik Andersson, Julie Goodness and Thomas Enqvist were part of a team of researchers conducting in-depth ecological surveys that measured functional traits of plants, which give an indication of resilience and vulnerability to environmental shocks.

Urban ecologies and urban filters

Cape Town is a biodiversity hotspot. It is situated in the smallest most diverse floristic region in the world, the Cape Floristic Region, which holds 44% of the flora of South Africa. Despite its beauty and cultural diversity, racial fault lines run deep and poverty levels are high.

When a landscape is urbanized there is a filtering of the ecology whereby some species thrive, and others are suppressed, or weeded out. This human mediated filtering process can be by design, as in gardens. Filtering can also happen as a by-product of human processes like fire suppression and pollution, which change the assemblages of plant species.

In the study, the researchers consider how different filtering processes have led to impoverished ecologies in Cape Town.

With humans in control, there has been a shift away from plants that need animals to spread their seeds and for pollination.

Co-author Erik Andersson argues, “The ability to purchase plants from nurseries renders the need to produce and disperse seed obsolete.” These unnatural ecologies are especially vulnerable, which pose a problem - as global populations grow, so too will the importance of our green spaces.

“For the majority of the next generation, the green spaces of our cities will be the first ‘natural’ landscapes they encounter in life.”

Apartheid planning resistant to change

Environmental injustice is often exacerbated by systematic traps, making it difficult to depart from injustices from the past. The researchers found that plant communities mirror historical apartheid planning that is resistant to change.

Through apartheid planning in Cape Town different racial groups were provided designated areas in which to reside.

Julie Goodness explains, “privileged white people were allocated neighbourhoods that received excellent municipal services and had easy access to the city centre while black and coloured people were forcefully relegated to further flung neighbourhoods with limited municipal infrastructure and services."

And today, the current market-based allocation of housing has done little to transform racially and socio-economically distinct neighbourhoods.

The luxury effect

The authors combined an environmental justice approach with a thorough ecological survey method. They did not simply measure plant cover and biodiversity, in their study they also calculate ecological functionality.

Plots were surveyed across an urban to natural gradient and along a socio-economic gradient. At one end of this gradient, are the privileged white neighbourhoods, and at the other end are poor, predominantly black neighbourhoods. The observed decline in species richness along this gradient is known as the luxury effect.

In poorer black neighbourhoods, there are fewer green spaces, and less diverse plant functional groups. This means that ecological functions are less resilient to environmental shocks.

For example, some plants are important in urban settings for temperature regulation, and if there are very few species providing this service, then the neighbourhood becomes more vulnerable to heat if these plants are wiped out in a drought or other environmental shock. When more species perform the same functions, as was found in wealthier white neighbourhoods, the service of for example temperature regulation is more likely to withstand shocks and changes.

Through this lens of environmental injustice, environmental drivers that perpetuate social inequality were made clearly visible.

The authors conclude with explicit recommendations, including the creation of a database of locally appropriate indigenous species with associated traits and horticultural requirements as a useful next step.

“This could be used to inform city planting schemes as well as public campaigns run through nurseries, with greater attention required in poorer neighbourhoods.”

Source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2019-11-21-privileged-people-privileged-plants.html

 on: June 19, 2020, 11:02:33 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Margaret Kimberley
June 17, 2020blackagendareport.com

Millions of white people glorify mass murderers because their sense of identity and place in society is deeply tied to white supremacy.

“It is important to name and shame the mass murderers.”

The perpetrators of crimes against humanity are often elevated to positions of respect and admiration. It all depends on who did the killing, and who was killed. Now the murderers are being called to account. The new movement in the United States against police and other state violence has inspired this welcome change taking place all over the world. The criminals are being exposed decades and even centuries after their atrocities took place. There is no statute of limitations for murder nor should there be for calling out people who have the blood of millions on their hands.

Statues of Belgium’s King Leopold have been defaced and even removed. Leopold held the Congo as his personal fiefdom, the Congo Free State, where he killed as many as 15 million people who were forced to work on rubber plantations. The cruelty of murder and mutilation was exposed after a more than 20-year reign of terror. George Washington Williams, a black American journalist, played a key role in bringing the genocide to public attention.

Instead of Adolf Hitler being the only European who comes to mind when genocide is mentioned, the name Leopold ought to have the same effect. But Hitler killed Europeans and Leopold killed Africans. The crimes of one are widely known while the other escapes condemnation because his crimes were erased.

“King Leopold killed as many as 15 million people who were forced to work on rubber plantations.”

The same can be said of Winston Churchill. During World War II he presided over a famine  in colonial India caused by the theft of rice and wheat which supplied Britain’s armies. An estimated 3 million people died but starvation in Bengal province was not his first opportunity to commit mass murder. After World War I he advocated gassing Iraqis  who rebelled against British rule. “I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes.”  He had already ordered chemical weapons attacks against the Russian Bolsheviks in 1918.

Now Churchill’s statue in London’s parliament square is covered in a large box to protect it from protesters. A group scrawled graffiti which correctly labeled as a racist the man who said that his Indian victims “breed like rabbits.”

The taboos are falling just like the statues that honored slave traders and Indian killers in this country. Robert E. Lee’s monument in Richmond, Virginia is now covered in graffiti and a likeness of George Floyd, whose murder at the hands of police motivated people to denounce the killers whose crimes are covered up. Too many historians choose to affirm corrupt systems rather than tell the truth. But the people are ignoring entreaties from all the elites and are taking matters into their own hands.

“Churchill said that his Indian victims ‘breed like rabbits.’”

Christopher Columbus is among those being exposed. His voyages on behalf of the Spanish crown were followed by other European invasions which brought disease and bloody conquest against indigenous populations from the tip of South America all the way to Alaska. This genocide was the precursor to the trans-Atlantic slave trade which brought Africans to suffer as chattel throughout North and South America..

But there is a reaction to every action and when the question of removing the Columbus statue in New York City was raised, governor Andrew Cuomo demurred, “But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian-American contribution to New York.” Columbus was born Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa. This need for Cuomo and others to hang on to the criminal is obvious. Columbus puts Italians at the center of the settler colonial state. They are not the southern European catholic immigrants who were often looked down upon when they first arrived. Columbus makes them white Americans and they cling to him lest they lose that imprimatur.

Everyone should work mightily to remove the stain of mass murderers who even define how we identify ourselves. The name Columbus came to mean America itself. We are left with a South American nation, Colombia, named after him. The U.S. capital is the District of Columbia, while Canada’s far western province is doubly colonized with the name British Columbia and cities like Columbus, Ohio and institutions like Columbia University abound. The indigenous who suffered because of his invasion now have their culture labeled pre and post Columbian. The crimes continue as millions of people are forcibly linked to the genocidaire.

“Columbus puts Italians at the center of the settler colonial state.”

New York’s governor is not alone in trying to stem the tide of truth telling. A group of white men armed with guns and other weapons felt the need to protect a statue of Columbus in Philadelphia . This intransigence tells us why it is so important to name and shame the mass murderers. Their credibility must be destroyed if white supremacy is ever to become a thing of the past. The statues must go and so must excuse making for atrocities if whites are the perpetrators and non-whites are the victims.

The hand wringing over monument removal is not just connected to reverence for these individuals. While millions of people want change, millions more do not and they hold on to Columbus or Leopold or Churchill or Robert E. Lee because their identity and place in society is firmly tied to white supremacy. If a Columbus statue comes down so might a small portion of white entitlement and its privileges.

The monuments to genocide must come down. The discomfort caused to the elites is of no concern to anyone who wants to strike at the heart of racism as practiced around the world. Good-bye and good riddance to Churchill, Columbus, Leopold and all of their ilk.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and she regularly posts on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.


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 on: April 11, 2020, 08:25:58 PM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By Margaret Kimberley
April 10, 2020 - blackagendareport.com

The Trump administration wants a hot war with Iran or Venezuela, or both, and those of us claiming to be anti-war must be on our guard and ready for action.

“The Democrats who say Trump must ask permission before killing people will in all likelihood give him the approval he seeks.”

The Donald Trump administration hasn’t given up its dream of regime change in Venezuela and Iran. They have vowed not to ease the sanctions that have literally killed thousands of people in both countries. In fact, they have increased them and claim that their efforts to do just that are somehow humanitarian.

All previous attempts to dislodge the elected president of Venezuela have ended in failure. In 2019 the U.S. instigated riots near the Colombian border and a coup attempt which fortunately was more of a photo opportunity than a serious effort by the opposition to take power. Would be usurper Juan Guaido has traveled all over the world and gained the backing of U.S. vassal states without accomplishing the desired result. The recent indictment of president Nicolas Maduro on drug trafficking charges was a sign that they will again up the ante.

When Trump and his attorney general weren’t making up charges out of thin air against Maduro, they muttered about Iranian “sneak attacks.” Not content to murder Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, they have refused to leave Iraq when that country’s parliament ordered them to do so. The rationale is that they are fighting an Iraqi resistance which they claim is directed by Iran. Of course the violence in Iraq is a direct result of the 2003 invasion and occupation which killed 1 million people.

“They have refused to leave Iraq when that country’s parliament ordered them to do so.”

The United States is a failed state, but one which still has the largest military in the world and for now the most economic power. It has nothing else to offer except destruction and death as its crumbling infrastructure kills its own people, as can be seen in the COVID-19 outbreak.

There will surely be manufactured pretexts for war, such as the mysterious sinking of a Venezuelan vessel by a supposed “cruise ship” with a hull fit out with ice breaking capabilities. Ice breakers generally do not sail in the Caribbean but we can expect more unlikely events to take place in order to get Congress and the public to prepare for a hot war. The phony Gulf of Tonkin in the 1960s and phony claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2003 are just two of the lies told to justify American aggressions.

The quarantines taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic are an opportune moment for mischief making but those of us claiming to be anti-war must be on our guard and ready for action. We already know that the Trump administration wants a hot war on Iran and we know that the corporate media and the political duopoly will support any effort in that direction.

“We can expect more unlikely events to take place in order to get Congress and the public to prepare for a hot war.”

The same compromised journalists who rail against Trump’s vile ramblings during COVID-19 press conferences will quickly fall into line if he claims some justification for a war. The Democrats who say he must ask permission before killing people will in all likelihood give him the approval he seeks. Democrats have already lionized Guaido and signaled that they would give Trump a free hand in Venezuela. They already repeat Trump administration claims about Iran as fact. Neither the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or MSNBC asked hard questions about the Soleimani assassination, which was a war crime by definition. None of them do the job that journalists are supposed to do and ask why there are sanctions at all or question the premise that America has the right to do what it wants whenever it wants.

It will be up to those who call themselves anti-war to refrain from falling into line and supporting candidates and parties who advocate for more war crimes. The discredited doctrine of lesser evilism must be rejected, and political independence must be the order of the day. Not only should Trump be called to account in case of war, but so must the democrats who give him any support.

“Democrats have already lionized Guaido and signaled that they would give Trump a free hand in Venezuela.”

Even in quarantine the people can and must go out into the streets. Mass actions can be done with safety in mind. If protesters have to wear masks and gloves for the sake of safety then so be it. The only thing worse than U.S. aggression would be silence and complicity.

The Soleimani assassination put thousands of people out in the streets demanding no war against Iran. This moment is one that cries out for sustained activity and not for falling into complacency when the Trump team is seemingly quiescent.

There must be unquestioned support for the people of Iran and Venezuela. Any critique of their governments, no matter how valid they may be, must be put on hold. These sovereign nations have a right to self-defense and their people have a right to live in peace. Critique must be reserved for this country, its political parties and its corporate media. They can all be counted on to march in lock step when other nations are attacked. There must be clear resolve to be unsparing in our opposition to all of the aggressors and their accomplices should the worst come to pass.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and she regularly posts on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.


 on: March 14, 2020, 09:22:06 AM 
Started by News - Last post by News
Vital coronavirus questions answered: What is herd immunity? How can you help yourself?

By Ben Spencer for the Daily Mail
March 13, 2020 | Updated: March 14, 2020

What is the Government's plan?

Officials want to delay the peak of the outbreak. They can no longer contain the virus – it has arrived and is spreading through the population. In a worst- case scenario, 80 per cent of people will become infected.

By telling people to self-isolate for even the mildest symptoms, they hope to 'flatten the curve' of the crisis – or, as Boris Johnson put it, 'squash the sombrero'.

This means delaying onward transmission and spreading out the number of patients who would overwhelm the NHS if they all contracted the virus at once. They also hope that by delaying the peak to the summer months, they will spare hospitals from simultaneously dealing with coronavirus and winter diseases such as flu and norovirus. There is also a hope that, as the virus passes through the country, we will develop 'herd immunity'

What does herd immunity mean?

This is when enough people become resistant to a disease that it can no longer spread among the rest of the population. Because Covid-19 is a new disease, none of us has immunity. But if enough people get the virus – and so become resistant to a second bout – the virus will struggle to find anyone to spread to, and the numbers will start to decline.

What does this strategy mean for me?

For most people, officially at least, it is a case of carry on as usual and wash your hands more often. The major directive is that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, should go home for a week. This applies to anyone who develops a persistent cough or has a temperature higher than 37.8C.

How many have to get the virus to achieve herd immunity?

Experts believe about 60 per cent of the population (40 million people) need to be immune. That is because the outbreak will start to decline only when most infected people stop passing it on. If each person passes the virus on to one more person, the size of the outbreak will stay the same size. At the moment each person passes it on to about three others, on average, so the outbreak grows quickly. When the rate of onward transmissions falls from three to fewer than one, the outbreak will start to decline. So for the outbreak to tail off, two out of every three people who get the virus need to become immune.

Why is the 60% figure lower than for other diseases?

Herd immunity against measles, for example, requires at least 95 per cent of people to be immune to the disease – usually through vaccination. That is because measles is far more contagious – each patient passes the viral infection on to 20 others. If an outbreak is to die out quickly at least 19 of those have to already be immune – so 95 per cent of the original 20.

Do all scientists think herd immunity will protect us?

They hope it will work. But critics say several unresolved features of the Covid-19 infection may thwart the strategy. First, we don't yet know how much immunity is triggered in the body of someone who becomes infected. There are have been reports in China, for example, that some people have become infected twice. Second, it is not clear how long immunity lasts. The flu jab, for example, has to be given each year because immunity against influenza quickly wanes, and the virus mutates each year. But immunity against other diseases – such as TB – lasts at least a decade.

Would a vaccine help?

Yes. Natural herd immunity is not guaranteed and requires a lot of people to suffer unpleasant illness. And many people will die as a result. A vaccine would accelerate the process, providing immunity without the illness. It would also mean if immunity wanes, an annual jab could be used to top it up. But it is unlikely a vaccine would be ready before the current pandemic ends. It would be invaluable, however, to stop a second wave of the virus hitting next year.

How does herd immunity help the elderly?

The elderly are much more vulnerable to coronavirus, so the Government is hoping to exclude them from the wider strategy of 'carry on as usual'. This means 'cocooning' the vulnerable and elderly with a 'ring' of immune people around them. This relies on the theory that those who are most able to withstand the virus – the young and fit who will mostly suffer mild symptoms – will become infected, then become immune, without passing it on to the old and sick.

How are older people being protected?

Care homes have been told to take action – including stopping visits from anyone with a cough or fever. Care home residents will be isolated in their rooms and staff will wear protective equipment when they care for them. In hospital, decisions may be taken not to treat the most frail people if intensive care units become overwhelmed with patients.

And those who live in their own homes?

Officials have also given notice that in the coming days they may ask all elderly people to stay indoors to protect themselves. But this has not been implemented yet for fear of isolating them for months – a situation that would lead to loneliness and depression.

Why isn't the UK taking much more stringent action?

The Government's scientific advisers insist it is a matter of timing. In the next few weeks, as case numbers climb, they may introduce further measures – including telling entire families to self-isolate and closing schools. But they insist the time to do this has not yet arrived.

Why not act now?

They believe the crisis is going to last for several months. Delaying the introduction of a 'lockdown' will minimise the impact on society and the economy. It will reduce 'crisis fatigue' and make it more likely that people will follow health advice just when the outbreak is peaking.

Aren't some firms taking things into their own hands?

Yes. Employers, businesses and many other organisations are taking action over and above the Government's advice. Concerts, sporting events and conferences have been called off, airlines are cancelling flights, courts are in lockdown and many companies have told their staff to work from home.

Why not close schools, like other countries?

Boris Johnson says this would do more harm than good – and have a major impact on the NHS as crucial staff members take time off to look after their children. His advisers say to be truly effective you would have to shut a school for three months or more – and even then it would be almost impossible to stop children from playing with each other, undermining the impact. Elderly people would also suffer extra exposure because they are likely to look after grandchildren sent home from school.

What about mass gatherings?

Ministers are expected to ban mass gatherings as early as next weekend – and are drafting emergency legislation next week to allow them to do so. They have been cautious about taking this step because they worried it would place a major burden on society and the economy. In reality, however, the decision has been taken out of the Government's hands. The Premier League has suspended all games until April, the London Marathon has been called off, concerts have been postponed by organisers and charities and academic groups are cancelling annual conferences.

What exactly does self-isolating involve?

Anyone who has to self-isolate because they have a cough or a raised temperature has to spend a week at home without leaving. They should stay two metres (three paces) away from other people in the home, sleep alone, and ask for food and supplies to be left outside the door.

Do I need a test first?

No. The Government has decided to stop testing people unless they are in hospital. Now anyone who has symptoms, however mild, must self-isolate.

Should I contact the NHS?

No. It has been left to people to act responsibly once they have symptoms. The NHS is trying to stop its staff and patients becoming infected – and needs to save resources for the seriously ill.

What if my symptoms get worse?

Use NHS 111 online or call NHS 111. If you get seriously ill, dial 999.

When can I go back to work?

After seven days, if you feel better and no longer have a fever, you can return to your normal routine. If symptoms last longer than seven days, check NHS 111 online.


 on: February 10, 2020, 04:12:59 PM 
Started by News - Last post by News
By John Vidal
February 07 2020 - theguardian.com

Armed ecoguards partly funded by the conservation group WWF to protect wildlife in the Republic of the Congo beat up and intimidated hundreds of Baka pygmies living deep in the rainforests, an investigation into a landmark global conservation project has heard.

A team of investigators sent to northern Congo by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to assess allegations of human rights abuses gathered “credible” evidence from different sources that hunter-gatherer Baka tribespeople living close to a proposed national park had been subjected to violence and physical abuse from the guards over years, according to a leaked draft of the report.

Full Article : theguardian.com

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