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Why Haven’t We Helped Rebuild Beirut?

One year ago, a massive blast destroyed part of the city of Beirut and levelled its port facilities.

Since then, Beirut has cleaned up much of the debris field extant in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion which claimed 218 lives, injured 6,500, and the country has suffered widespread political and economic instability.

Not much rebuilding has occurred within the blast zone, but repairs to buildings are progressing as homeowners and business owners can afford to do so with their own limited funds. Very minimal Lebanese government assistance has been made available to those affected by the disaster.

One bright spot is that Lebanon got a new Prime Minister last week — which means that if reconstruction can be directly and efficiently stimulated at this important moment — that in itself will assist political stability in the country.

Lebanon: Billionaire Najib Mikati named new prime minister-designate (Al Jazeera)


Timing is Everything

Especially where disasters are concerned — whether natural or human-caused — there exists a short window of opportunity where assistance can (when it arrives on time) act as an economic multiplier in the local economy, compared to the same amount of assistance (monetary value) arriving later in the crisis which isn’t appreciated as much as early aid.

Now that most of the rubble has been cleared, now that inspection of the site is no longer required by investigators, now that the country has appointed a new Prime Minister (who is also a former Lebanese Prime Minister) now is the time for the UK to lead Western nations in sending exactly the kind of aid that Beirut needs, in a timely fashion, to help the long-suffering Lebanese people rebuild their damaged city and its demolished port facilities.


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

Sending ‘too little, too late’ isn’t the way a Top Ten country should comport itself at any time — let alone when now is the optimum time to respond. For if such countries don’t lead at troubled times, they don’t deserve their high place in the world.

To whom much is given, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48)


What Should the UK do?

Lead. Plain and simple.

UK leaders must respond to the newly changed political situation in Lebanon as a Top Ten economy should.

This could be as simple as sending one aid ship per week to Lebanon for the next 12-months.

What should the first shipment include? Obviously, the world is still in the middle of a pandemic, and therefore, PPE and COVAX vaccines should be made available to the people of Lebanon as they’re dealing with the same COVID-19 (and variants) as everyone else, and they’re still dealing with the aftermath of an apocalyptic explosion.

So, the next time you catch yourself bemoaning having to wear a mask in public, remind yourself that Lebanese people had half of their country’s most important city blown up a year ago, it’s still blown up, and they must still wear masks in public. Now that’s something to complain about! Having to wear a mask to the office isn’t.

The second shipment might need to be drinking water, or fuel, or maybe some excavating equipment so that Beirut workers can do some quick repair work on its port facilities to ensure foreign aid arriving in ships can be efficiently unloaded and goods directed to the appropriate organizations.

Whatever the people of Beirut need on a week-to-week basis; It should be our sincere pleasure to send it.


How to Pay for It

There’s no need for the UK government to consider raising taxes to pay for weekly aid shipments to Beirut for the next year as the government has already set aside .7% of GDP to spend on its annual Foreign Aid budget.

The UK can spend that .7% of GDP anywhere in the world and it makes sense to help Lebanon at this pivotal time and the disaster in Beirut should become the UK government’s highest foreign aid priority over the next 12-months.

Instead of the risk attached to sending huge sums of money as foreign aid that could be diverted to less worthy causes (it happens, sometimes, in politically unstable countries) it’s better to send useful goods to Beirut by ship, every week, thereby employing the UK foreign aid budget in a way that directly helps Beirut residents cope with the devastation they’re experiencing and stimulates rebuilding of the heavily damaged port and city.

Let’s hope that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sees the wisdom of sending concrete aid, in a timely fashion, to the long-suffering people of Lebanon, in keeping with the UK’s high moral standing and privileged position in the world.

by John Brian Shannon

When Will Illegal Immigration to the UK be Addressed?

by John Brian Shannon

Coming up on 5-years from the June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, and 1-year and 6-months since the UK actually left the EU, it seems reasonable that Britons could expect to see some of the oft-touted ‘benefits of Brexit’…

Unfortunately, other than a smattering of small-ish trade deals, nothing else seems to have been accomplished by this Parliament — other than a colossal mishandling of COVID-19 (at first) — followed by an extraordinary commitment by the UK government to get every Briton vaccinated as quickly as possible. Success at last!

Well done, Parliamentarians. Slow start/good finish. If only every situation in this troubled world proceeded thusly…


But ‘So Much More Was Promised’ said every Briton!

And one of the main reasons the British electorate voted to leave the EU was to give the UK the ability to control how many foreigners are allowed into the country annually.

Another important factor is what kind of people the UK wants to accept. At present, the UK has many unskilled or low-skilled immigrants living in the Kingdom — which might be fine if there were enough jobs for them. Certainly, farmers and others depend on large numbers of low-skilled/low pay workers, but how many is too many?

Things reach a boiling point when so-called ‘grooming gangs’ are owning every street corner in certain towns and cities — making it advisable to forego walking (or even driving!) through some parts of town at any hour of the day or night.

What has this country become that it can’t stand up to local hoodlums?

Is it the government’s fault? Is it the Mayor’s fault, the fault of the Police, or are individual Britons too weak to own the streets that their tax payments financed? Is it complacency? Or is it just too dangerous to make a stand for oneself — now that different levels of government have avoided their responsibility to provide safety and security to citizens for so many years — that even the Police have (largely) given up?

‘This isn’t what we voted for!’ said every voter ever.


If Not Addressed – Heads Will Roll at the Next Election!

Previous generations of Britons stood up to fascism twice in the 20th-century and played a leading role during the Cold War struggle. That’s the legacy of their generation and no one can take it from them.

Yes, sometimes mistakes were made. But decisions often needed to be made ‘on the fly’ and without the huge benefit afforded by today’s instant communications, the internet, and the much larger body of knowledge that exists in today’s world. Even so, the ‘greatest generation’ met their (exponentially larger and orders of magnitude more terrifying) challenges with dauntless stoicism because they knew they were fighting and suffering for the greater good.

Will this Generation Rise to Meet the Challenges of Their Time?

It remains to be seen.

Almost meeting the UK’s renewable energy targets and slowly gravitating towards electric cars — approaches something akin to progress — but if citizens are too afraid to leave their homes, too afraid to take the train, too afraid to attend an Arianna Grande concert, or are too afraid to walk in the park, what is the point?

Why Pay Taxes When You’re Too Afraid to Leave the House?

The first duty of government (any government, anywhere) is to protect the citizens of the country. But it’s also true that ‘the government’ or ‘the police’ can’t be everywhere to solve every problem.

That doesn’t mean they can abdicate their responsibilities and exclaim ‘There’s crime everywhere! What can we do?’

Not good enough!

No matter how unfair it may seem, the government and the police must do a better job of protecting Britons and those who visit the United Kingdom. Yes, it’s become a super-sized problem as successive governments have let the problem fester because they were too busy opining on far less important matters.

But it’s reached a breaking point. Something must be done, and soon.

Hundreds of young men are crossing the English Channel every day, and are (astonishingly!) given a lift the rest of the way to the UK by HM Border Force ships after being fished out of dangerously overloaded boats.

In my opinion, the number of young men attempting to reach the UK via such dangerous means has dramatically increased since they have become convinced (through decades of inaction) that the UK Parliament lacks the resolve to take any actual steps to rectify this ongoing disaster…

Channel crossings: Migrant crossings continue amid good weather (BBC)

“So far this year, according to government figures, more than 3,200 people have made the crossing.”

Illegal channel migrants threaten ‘mob unrest’ on arrival over housing delays (The Telegraph)

“Record numbers of illegal migrants expect to be moved quickly to their accommodation, says Border Force union.”


India (Brilliantly!) Wants to be Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem

(REUTERS May 4, 2021)
India to take back illegal migrants to UK in return for visas for young workers

Britain and India on Tuesday signed an accord on migration and mobility, an Indian foreign ministry official said, as they look to deepen economic, cultural and other ties following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The pact will provide enhanced employment opportunities for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for India agreeing to take back any of its citizens who are living illegally in the UK, Sandeep Chakravorty told a news conference.

The migration pact comes after the two countries announced 1 billion pounds ($1.39 billion) of private-sector investment. Talks on a full trade deal are due to begin in the autumn.

“It is our solemn duty that Indian nationals who are undocumented, or are in distress abroad and not being given nationality or residence permits, have to be taken back,” Chakravorty said.

Britain’s interior ministry said in a statement that the deal aimed to attract “the best and brightest, and supporting people coming to the UK through legal routes, while stopping the abuse of the system and speeding up the removal of those who have no right to be in the UK”… (Continue to Reuters.com to finish reading this article)


Now, that’s an example of a country that wants to be part of the solution to a serious and rising problem, and doesn’t want to play the ‘blame game’ with UK leaders.

And that’s called ‘LEADERSHIP’ people!


Have a wonderful summer wherever you travel!

New COVID Variants, Various Lockdown Measures, Gradual Vaccine Rollout, Twice-Weekly COVID Testing; But Are We Winning or Losing the Coronavirus Battle?

There’s a lot happening in the UK with regards to the ongoing Coronavirus battle: The question is; Are we winning or losing the battle to this disease?

The good news is that 47.2% of Britons have received at least one dose of (any kind of) COVID-19 vaccine, and fatalities have fallen to 35 persons per (7-day) week, according to the latest JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data presented on April 3, 2021.

People in England who wish to be tested for COVID-19 are able to access twice-per-week testing, which should allow better tracking of potentially infected persons or sooner treatment for already infected persons.

And some people are still abiding by the various Lockdown measures. Thank you for doing your civic duty!


But is the UK Winning or Losing the Battle to this Disease?

Some 4.36 million Britons have contracted COVID-19 and 127,000 have (so far) died from the novel Coronavirus.

Although in the early days before it was well understood, cause of death statistics didn’t include a virus, that back then, hadn’t been identified. I think it’s likely that the official UK COVID death toll will eventually turn out to be approximately double the presently accepted death toll, as many cases were (via forensic analysis) retroactively found in France, Iran and Southeast Asia as far back as August 2019. All the places that Britons and others travel to and from on a regular basis.

And people are continuing to die from this disease at a rate of 35 per week, and worse, new variants of COVID-19 are reported to be more transmissible.

We could be one Coronavirus mutation away from a much more serious pandemic.

Yet some people still AREN’T abiding by the various Lockdown measures. There will be no ‘Thank You’s’ for endangering every unvaccinated person in the country!


It’s Likely to Get Worse Before it Gets Better

More than anything, an improvement in the COVID statistics depends upon how willing Britons are to follow the regional plethora of Lockdown regulations, and much less depends upon the speed of vaccinations up and down the country, as virus retransmission (which boasts an exponential growth rate) can easily outpace the rate of vaccination (which has a geometric growth rate, at best).

And that’s assuming there’s no more delay in obtaining the vast quantities of Coronavirus vaccine required to inoculate the (as yet unvaccinated) 36-million people TWICE (for a total of 72-million individual doses).

It’s a lot to assume that the UK’s COVID pandemic won’t get worse — and perhaps much, much, worse — before it gets better. Because at this point, more could go wrong than right.

The UK is only one COVID variant, or one major vaccine delivery shortfall, (or both), away from utter social, healthcare and economic catastrophe. Respectfully, govern yourselves accordingly and remember ‘Murphy’s Law’ — if something can go wrong, it will.


Image courtesy of STATISTA.COM

Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in the United Kingdom (UK) 2021

Published by Conor Stewart, Mar 31, 2021 at STATISTA.com

On March 6, 2020, the first death as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) was recorded in the United Kingdom (UK). The number of deaths in the UK has increased significantly since then. As of March 30, 2021, the number of confirmed deaths due to coronavirus in the UK amounted to 126,670. On January 20, 2021, 1,820 deaths were recorded, which is the highest total in single day in the UK since the outbreak began.

Number of deaths highest in Europe

The UK has had the highest number of deaths from coronavirus in Europe. In terms of rate of coronavirus deaths, the UK has the fourth-highest rate compared to the countries in the EEA. As of March 21, the UK has recorded 189 deaths per 100,000, which is only lower than the mortality rates in Belgium, Slovenia, and Czechia.

Cases in the UK

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK was 4,341,736 as of March 30, 2021. London has the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus in the UK with 711,083 cases, while the North West and the South East have 598,512 and 533,519 confirmed cases respectively. As of March 29, the UK has had 55 new cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.

For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.


Finally, check out the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) here.


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