UK Brings In Army To Help With First ‘China-Style’ Mass COVID-19 Testing In Liverpool

03-11-20 11:08:00,

Following in the footsteps of China and tiny Slovakia, the UK is embarking on its first “moonshot” mass-testing campaign in the city of Liverpool, known to most people outside the UK as the hometown of the Beatles. According to the Guardian, up to half a million people in the city are set to be tested this week, and if the system proves successful, it will be used again.

With the self-isolation period for those who test positive set to be reduced, up to half a million people are due to be tested in Liverpool in the government’s first attempt at mass testing and tracing, with the goal of tracing the infection of every individual who tests positive during the drive.

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The scheme is part of the government’s attempt to meet the demands posed by local officials, who have demanded more money for both test-and-trace programs, as well as more funding for the government’s furlough plan for workers.

To help carry out the program, the British army will be deployed for “logistical support”.

The operation’s success, or failure, could determine whether another similar mass-testing campaign in another one of the worst-hit areas in the UK.

PM Boris Johnson recently rolled out a system of coronavirus restrictions with three standalone tiers. Liverpool and Greater Manchester are both in the third tier, which imposes harsh restrictions that mirror the springtime lockdown, with the main difference being school is still in session.

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A variety of test types will be employed during the campaign, which starts Friday, roughly a week after the new measures took effect. The testing campaign comes as Downing Street struggles to find a way to boost compliance with the new restrictions.

“Those who have been contacted need to self-isolate,” Johnson told MPs in the Commons on Wednesday. “We’ll be making a big, big push on that. Because, I must be candid with the house, alas the proportion of people who are self-isolating in response to the urges of NHS test and trace is not yet high enough.”

Though it’s a favorite of epidemiologists, contact tracing has largely failed in the West, as officials struggled with noncompliance in the US and Europe.

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July Brings all the Major Players to Europe | New Eastern Outlook

19-07-18 06:01:00,

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This July, a surprising number of significant geopolitical events have turned Europe into the meeting ground for virtually all of its key players.

Surely, much public attention was drawn to the (growingly indecent) scandals within the noble family still referred to as the “West”. However, the “West’s” maneuvers around two of the world’s other leading players, i.e. China and Russia, were no less remarkable.

Taken together, these events provide ample material to speculate on the general and even eternal themes of “major global politics”.

For example, is it really worthwhile to continue seeing the “West” as one united family? Or are its core members de facto in a state of divorce? A divorce covered up by a marriage contract concluded long ago in completely different geopolitical conditions and today worth nothing?

Generally speaking, this issue could have been addressed long ago, in the early stages of the integration process launched in post-war Europe. For example, immediately after signing  the Treaty of Rome in 1957. However, the dreaded “Soviet Threat” had continued to press against the shores of the Atlantic. With the end of the cold war and the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, only a confirmed “pro-Western” enthusiast could have avoided the emerging question: “So, what’s it all for?”

Indeed, why does the US bear huge expenditures to maintain their troops five thousand kilometers away from their own territory on the other side of the Atlantic? The hastily constructed theme of “international terrorism”, it seems, is dying out while the no less artificial “Russian Threat” (i.e. the reincarnation of the same “Soviet Threat”) starts to sound like a boring deja vu.

So why should Americans care about protecting those who not only fail to spend money on their own defense but even implement mutually beneficial projects together with Russia? All this in conditions that have nothing in common with those of the Cold War. For in the past 30 years, a very real and new major source of challenges to US interests has come to light in the face of China.

All of these questions, which “polite Western society” had carefully avoided as a sign of poor manners and bad taste, were all of a sudden blurted out by political newcomer Donald Trump in 2016.

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Russia Brings Syrians to The Hague to Make Underwhelming Case Chemical Attack Was Fake

28-04-18 09:12:00,

Over the objections of chemical weapons inspectors, who are still at work in Syria trying to determine if gas was used to kill dozens of civilians in the former rebel stronghold of Douma on April 7, Russia flew 17 Syrians from the war zone to The Hague, Netherlands, on Thursday, where they all testified that they had seen no sign of a chemical attack.

The Syrians were chosen because they had been seen in video that was recorded by an opposition activist in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The activist’s footage showed what looked like frantic efforts in the town’s hospital to treat survivors for possible exposure to a chemical agent, by dousing them with water and helping them to breathe.

Even though no one claimed that the hospital had been attacked with chemical weapons, Russia has made undermining the credibility of that video the centerpiece of its effort to prove that no chemicals were used in the Syrian government’s final bombardment of the town, which passed out of rebel hands the following day.

The group it brought to the Netherlands included several medical workers seen in the footage and one patient, 11-year-old Hassan Diab, who has been described by Russian officials as the star witness in support of its case that the entire incident was a hoax, staged by volunteer rescue workers to provoke Western military intervention against Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

When Hassan told Russian state television last week that he had been given sweets in return for taking part in filming of the video in the hospital, and his father said the boy had been doused in water for no reason, since there was no sign of any chemical attack, Russia’s United Nations ambassador announced plans to screen the interview for the U.N. Security Council.

However, Russia has failed to acknowledge concerns that the boy and his father might not have felt free to accurately describe what happened, given that the interview was filmed at a Syrian army facility used by Russian military advisers.

Former colleagues of the Douma hospital workers told The Guardian that Syrian officials had subjected the medics to “extreme intimidation,” threatening to harm their families if they made any mention of chemical weapons.

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