The Coronavirus Lockdown, Hidden Suffering, and Delusions of a Rosy Future

15.4.20

London under the coronavirus lockdown, March 30, 2020 (Photo by Andy Worthington from his photo-journalism project The State of London).

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Nearly a month since the coronavirus lockdown began in the UK, it seems clear that the intentions behind shutting most retail outlets and workplaces, and encouraging everyone to stay at home as much as possible — to keep the death toll to manageable levels, preventing the NHS and the burial industry from being overwhelmed — are working, although no one should be under any illusions that Boris Johnson’s government has managed the crisis well. Nearly 13,000 people have died so far in hospitals in the UK, a figure that seriously underestimates the true death toll, because it cynically ignores those dying in care homes.

However, frontline NHS staff are also dying, and this is because they are still deprived of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), which is an absolute and unmitigated disgrace, showing how far our current elected officials are from the wartime spirit of the plucky British that they are so intent on selling to the public to cover up their failings.

If they really were who they claim to be, they would have pulled out all the stops to get factories manufacturing PPE in as short a time as possible, but they’re not who they claim to be: they’re incompetent disciples of a neo-liberal project that is interested only in elected officials handing out contracts — and all profit-making ability — to private companies, and that is determined to destroy the state provision of services, something that the Tories have been gleefully doing, not least to the NHS, since they first returned to power almost ten long and dreadful years ago.

To hear Boris Johnson praising the NHS for looking after him so attentively — after he himself contracted the coronavirus as a result of his idiotic risk-taking and denial just a few short weeks ago — is enough to make all decent people feel sick, because the Tories are 100% responsible for the cuts to the NHS that have made its job so difficult since the virus started tearing through the population in February.

In addition, of course, while the shutdown of huge swathes of the economy — and the almost total prohibition on socialising — has led to the crisis being managed, Britain’s death toll is still miserably high, an outcome that can — and must — be attributed directly to those responsible: the government and their advisers, who, in the beginning, were fatally distracted by a callous “herd immunity” scenario, and who then waited for far too long before implementing a lockdown.

Here and now, however, as I try, on an ongoing basis, to make sense of this crisis that is unprecedented in our lifetimes — and that can only really be compared to the Spanish flu of 1918 to 1920, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide — the main focus of my concerns is not the government, but the economy; and, specifically, those who are suffering because of its almost total collapse, and, in looking to the future, the huge but almost unspoken necessity of rebuilding our societies in a more sustainable and equable manner than has been the case over most of my adult life, and, particularly, and most alarmingly, over the last decade.

Money in a time of no work

In response to the devastation to the economy caused by the sudden shutdown of all pubs, bars and restaurants, all entertainment venues, including live music venues, theatres and cinemas, all sports facilities and almost all retail outlets, except supermarkets and other food outlets, pharmacies and a few other protected sectors of the retail economy, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, almost immediately promised an unprecedented £330bn in bailout loans for business, following up with a promise that the government “would pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers” — up to £2,500 a month — “if companies kept them on their payroll, rather than lay them off as the economy crashes.”

That promise about furloughed staff was nearly a month ago (on March 20), but it has only just been confirmed today that furloughed workers will be paid by the end of the month. And as the BBC noted, “The scheme currently runs until 1 June. But there are fears firms could start to cut staff unless the government soon clarifies whether the scheme will be extended.”

As the BBC also noted, the CBI (the Confederation of British Industry) said that it was “worried” that companies “will be forced to start redundancy procedures this Saturday to comply with the minimum 45-day consultation period.” CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, said, “We are very concerned that businesses will be forced into a position potentially of having to make people permanently redundant.”

Missing from the chancellor’s original plans were Britain’s five million self-employed workers, and it wasn’t until March 26 that their needs were addressed, with a promise that they too would be eligible to have 80% of their profits covered by the government, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month for three months, with the Guardian adding that the chancellor said that the payments “would be backdated to March and cover those earning up to £50,000, or 95% of the self-employed.” However, payments will not be made until June, and it is unclear how many of the self-employed will survive until then.

Just yesterday, IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) published research establishing that “almost half (45%) of the self-employed fear they will not have enough money to cover basic costs like rent and bills during the Coronavirus crisis, despite the government support on offer”, and that, “Overall, two thirds (66%) also say they are worried they will burn through all their savings in the next three months.”

It is also unclear whether 95% of the self-employed will actually be eligible. Just two days ago, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote to the chancellor, and business secretary Alok Sharma, suggesting that “up to 290,000 Londoners, 12 per cent of the capital’s total workforce, are not eligible to receive anything from the scheme”, as City A.M. described it.

In addition to the above, there are also the large number of people — many in the retail and hospitality sectors — who were not employed with any kind of security whatsoever, and who suddenly found, when the lockdown started, that they were suddenly made unemployed, and have had to sign up for Universal Credit, with Sky News reporting yesterday that 1.4m people have signed on for Universal Credit since the lockdown began. Even under normal circumstances, it takes five weeks for claimants to receive their first payment, and it is therefore to be expected that there will now be longer delays — and all for a grand total of £342.72 a month for single people under 25, £409.89 a month for single people over 25, £488.59 a month for a couple under 25, and £594.04 a month for a couple over 25. For those with children, there is a two-child limit on payments, introduced in 2017, with each child being eligible for £235.83 a month (or £281.25 for the first child, if born before April 6, 2017).

Those on Universal Credit are at least eligible for support with housing costs, but elsewhere in the economy the newly-unemployed’s housing costs have not been addressed by the government, unless they have mortgages, in which case a mortgage holiday has been proposed.

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent for renters. Although the government recognised that there might be a deluge of cruel evictions if they didn’t take action, which they did by banning evictions for a three-month period, no pressure has been exerted on landlords to write off their rents for three months.

Instead, some are offering rent holidays, but these require paying back — along with the current rent — when the crisis is over, thereby not only hurling many renters into a financially intolerable position, but also failing to recognise that this still involves tenants paying rent to cover a period of unemployment that was not their fault.

Morally and ethically, landlords should take a hit, but as we’re seeing from the private rented sector, and also from the business rent sector, landlords’ sense of entitlement runs so deep that they are unwilling to accept that, as the entire economy suffers its worst damage since the Great Depression, they too might have to be inconvenienced. For landlords who own their properties outright, there is absolutely no argument for them insisting that their tenants should pay rent when they have no work, but even for those with buy-to-let mortgages, the only fair solution, it seems to me, is for the mortgage holidays for which landlords are eligible to be extended to their tenants, with the rent essentially written off the duration of the crisis as a no-payment period.

In the meantime, as Frances Ryan reported for the Guardian today, entitled, ‘Britain has a hidden coronavirus crisis – and it’s shaped by inequality’, “New research shows that a fifth of private renters had to choose between paying for food and bills and paying their landlords this month.” As she added, despite the government introducing a temporary ban on evictions, “a quarter surveyed have already lost their home. Unable to pay the rent, they had to voluntarily move in with friends or parents.”

The research, undertaken by Opinium last weekend, sought to assess the situation faced by the “one in five UK households – 4.5 million families – [who] live in private rented accommodation”, and the similar number who live in some form of social housing.

As the Guardian stated:

Despite the government’s measures, and guidance to landlords asking them to “be compassionate”, tenants who spoke to the Guardian said they had already faced threats of punitive action from their landlords. One self-employed renter, who preferred to remain unnamed, told the Guardian that when he approached his landlord to ask for a deferment of rent, he was served with an eviction notice in reply.

Others who have lost income are being forced into taking whatever work they can in order to continue to pay their rents, often in front line jobs in the gig economy, such as driving taxis or delivering takeaway food, potentially exposing themselves to infection with coronavirus.

“Many renters feel they have no choice but to break social distancing guidelines and go out to work, just so their landlords can continue to profit,” said Amina Gichinga of the London Renters Union. “How are people supposed to pay rent with no income and at least a month’s wait for any government assistance? How are people in low-paid jobs meant to clear hundreds or thousands of pounds of rent arrears in the future? During this global pandemic, people should be able to prioritise their safety and paying for food and other essentials. All rent payments need to be suspended and rent arrears need to be waived urgently to keep renters safe from eviction and from debt, and to prevent the further spread of the virus.”

An LRU petition on the 38 Degrees website calling for rents to be suspended has already secured over 100,000 signatures, but Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, isn’t interested, even though Opinium’s polling “found overwhelming support for a rent suspension, with three in four renters – and even a slight majority of landlords – in support.”

As many of you will have no doubt noticed, however, the problems faced by those at the sharp end of the shutdown get very little media coverage, as two groups of people still in full-time work — MPs and mainstream media journalists — persistently forget about them, even though there is clearly a huge amount of anxiety and suffering going on behind the scenes.

The future

And while the better-off — those in large homes, and often still on full pay while working from home — have the opportunity to wax lyrical about the delights of lockdown life, those at the sharper end really don’t have that kind of luxury, and their plight will need to be taken into account much more than it has been as the crisis continues, because, while the professional pundits start discussing how to ease the lockdown, we need to bear in mind that there is no magic wand that means that, after a few months of hardship, we can reopen the world and engage in “business as usual”, as it was in the dirty, hectic, selfish, environmentally disastrous days that existed until just a month ago.

As the Guardian reported in an under-read article just a few days ago, entitled, ‘Coronavirus distancing may need to continue until 2022, say experts’, a paper published in the journal Science has suggested that “[p]hysical distancing measures may need to be in place intermittently until 2022”, in what the Guardian described as “an analysis that suggests there could be resurgences of Covid-19 for years to come.”

The article “concludes that a one-time lockdown will not be sufficient to bring the pandemic under control and that secondary peaks could be larger than the current one without continued restrictions”, with one scenario predicting that a resurgence “could occur as far in the future as 2025 in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment.”

Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard and co-author of the study, said, “Infections spread when there are two things: infected people and susceptible people. Unless there is some enormously larger amount of herd immunity than we’re aware of … the majority of the population is still susceptible. Predicting the end of the pandemic in the summer [of 2020] is not consistent with what we know about the spread of infections.”

In contrast to this scenario, I’ve been somewhat surprised, in the last few days, to hear from some people who are giddily awaiting the return of “business as usual” — the cruise ship fanatics eager to get back on board, despite cruise ships having been revealed as virus-incubating death traps — and those who, on an environmentally aware friend’s Facebook page, responded to being asked what they were looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over, started reeling off the names of all the foreign holiday destinations they intended to fly to.

Are we incapable of learning anything, and unable to see that this crisis must lead to a massive change in the way we operate — as I discussed in my last article, Health Not Wealth: The World-Changing Lessons of the Coronavirus? And are we unable to remember that many millions of other people — already at the bottom of society, economically — are going to come out of this even poorer and more disadvantaged than before, both at home and abroad, and that we must demand that — as well as adequately funding our health services and our frontline health workers, and all the other people previously dismissed as unimportant workers, who have now been revealed as much more essential than the rich and famous — we must also create a society that is more equal, more fair and much, much more conscious than before.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or here for the US, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from seven years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

29 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    In my latest article looking at the drastically changed coronavirus world, I flag up the dangers of the massive shift from employment to unemployment, with so many people dependant on furloughed pay, or a replacement for self-employed income, or on Universal Credit, even though most of this money has not yet been paid, and in many cases will not be for many months.

    Meanwhile, those with mortgages who the coronavirus has made unemployed are getting mortgage holidays, but those in rented properties are supposed to carry on paying their rents, even though they have no money to do so. I call for rents to be written off for the duration of the crisis, and I also refer to a study in the journal Science, suggesting that there can be no sudden end to the crisis, which indicates that, as a result, we need to be thinking about living with the coronavirus for years, and not just a few more months of lockdown.

    I hope it provides some topics worthy of further thought and discussion.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    This is the UK Andy rents will still be charged utilities will still be charged council tax must still be paid.. Even as the bodies pile up these leaches still want the coin

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    They do, Damien, but can they get away with it, that’s what I’m wondering. Particularly when it comes to rents, it’s not just individuals, it’s a huge number of businesses too, which only function because of very small ongoing profit margins. So many people can’t afford to have rents piling up from when they had no income – and those demanding it need to be shamed.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Damien Morrison wrote:

    This is a toxic capitalist culture of greed and debt like a vast ponzi scheam.. Nothing is for free in this culture… Unless of course your one of the so called.. Elites

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    As far as I can see though, Damien, it still requires most of the human components to actually have something resembling work and incomes to keep it all fed. I can see how the darkest forces globally are happy to have as big a cull of th elderly and ill as possible, to keep future care costs and pensions down, but making entire populations dependant on state support isn’t really capitalism’s greatest day 😉

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Andy, welcome to the US – Y’all made it 😞

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Sadly, we’ve been slavishly following every bad about US politics, capitalism and greed since the 80s, Jan, although it turns out that our Trump facsimile isn’t quite as deranged as the original. I am so sorry that, despite the similarities between our two nations, our leaders and our broken politics, you are stuck with such a massively incompetent deranged toddler bully. Is there any chance, do you think, that the ever-mounting death count, and his increasingly deranged press conferences, will lead to him actually losing in November?

  8. Andy Worthington says...

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Peter. This from veteran epidemiologist Professor Knut M. Wittkowski, which is very helpful about the importance of challenging our politicians, and of developing immunity by allowing schools to re-open. What’s so saddening about calls for challenging our politicians is that we can’t congegrate, and it’s next to impossible to properly challenge them virtually in a manner that will have an impact.

    I’m not, however, buying any conspiracy stuff about this being a plot to enforce “virtual socializing to erode / replace human / physical socialising”, as that would require us all to be passively self-destructive to an extent that I don’t think is sustainable in the long run, and especially via young people whose sense of mortality regarding the virus is small to non-existent, but I do encourage people to check our Prof. Wittkowski’s words:

    “We should be resisting, and we should, at least, hold our politicians responsible. We should have a discussion with our politicians. One thing we definitely need to do, and that would be safe and effective, is opening schools. Let the children spread the virus among themselves, which is a necessity to get herd immunity. That was probably one of the most destructive actions the government has done. We should focus on the elderly and separating them from the population where the virus is circulating. We should not prevent the virus from circulating among school children, which is the fastest way to create herd immunity …

    “I think people in the United States and maybe other countries as well are more docile than they should be. People should talk with their politicians, question them, ask them to explain, because if people don’t stand up to their rights, their rights will be forgotten. I’m Knut Wittkowski. I was at the Rockefeller University, I have been an epidemiologist for 35 years, and I have been modeling epidemics for 35 years. It’s a pleasure to have the ability to help people to understand, but it’s a struggle to get heard.”

    See: https://www.aier.org/article/stand-up-for-your-rights-says-professor-knut-m-wittkowski/

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Sleep wrote:

    Andy, I’ve seen the exact opposite expert opinion expressed. That while children are almost all asymptomatic or only very slightly made ill by the virus, they infect each other very efficiently (due to proximity and prolific contact through play). In turn each infectious child will efficiently pass the disease into their family and less robust older people.

    There’s no real evidence of community transfer between adults in passing contact – the 2m rule is based on caution and theory rather than empirical fact – but lots of indication that extended contact passes a sufficient viral load to cause more serious versions of Covid-19. Extended exposure to high viral load is believed to be the reason why so many younger people have ended up in ICU in Italy. So there is an argument that opening schools is the last thing that should happen, not the first.

    All explored by Dr John Cameron in one of his daily Covid-19 reports on YouTube. Unfortunately I can’t tell you which, but it was around the time UK closed schools in a segment where he looked at the pros and cons, and the superspreader potential of kids.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    OK, thanks for that well argued and completely opposite point of view, Tony. What a minefield this is. I think what we can all agree on is the recognition of the significance of the “viral load”, which, as well as massively endangering front-line staff, also makes socialising so dangerous. I don’t know if you saw this article last week, about a study of how the virus spread in a small German town at carnival time, but it contained the depressing conclusion, by a medical expert, that “[o]ne pattern we are seeing across the globe is that wherever there was singing and dancing, the virus spread more rapidly.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/the-cluster-effect-how-social-gatherings-were-rocket-fuel-for-coronavirus

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Sleep wrote:

    Aye. This thing is a right bastard.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a T-shirt slogan, Tony, if I might have a moment of light-heartedness …

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Melani Finn wrote:

    Tony, this point should be articulated so much more than it is. Why bus drivers & shop cashiers & teachers etc are in extreme danger – they are exposed to repeated doses over a short period, making their viral load so much harder for the immune system to cope with.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Melani. I was very relieved when perspex shields started to be used in shops, and agree that it would be helpful if more information was made available about this. Instead we just get the same “stay at home, if you go out you’ll kill people” messages hammered home without any detail, when, as Tony indicates, the social distancing rule for the most part is simply precautionary, and what we need to avoid are forms of prolonged contact.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Melani Finn wrote:

    Andy, I so agree. Intelligent messaging seems beyond this bunch. The ‘stay home’ message treats us all like people incapable of any complexity. How many government addresses to the public have we had now? The messaging is awful.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    And the government are feeding intolerance and division too, Melani – the whole furore about people being in parks and what they’re doing there, when a much bigger problem, for anyone prepared to think about it, involves all the hidden workers, still being compelled to work in unsafe conditions by criminally negligent employers.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Sleep wrote:

    Andy, so much isn’t yet clear, it’s a real-time learning curve with all of us as our own guinea pigs.

    I agree, it’s far better to equip people with the understanding to avoid putting themselves and others at risk than passing badly framed laws then issuing guidance that says something different and creating such FUD that police start imagining they have powers that they don’t. And neighbours turn into Stasi informants not because it’s good or makes sense, but because it’s the rules.

    However it is all consistent with this idiot government’s approach, in general being loudly and confidently wrong about everything. too little too late, and lying their heads off. UK is having a far worse pandemic than it should have, because of them.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/15/uk-government-coronavirus-science-who-advice

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, we must never lose sight of that, Tony. As Helen Ward, professor of public health at Imperial College, says in the article you linked to, “It’s now clear that so many people have died, and so many more are desperately ill, simply because our politicians refused to listen to and act on advice. Scientists like us said lock down earlier; we said test, trace, isolate. But they decided they knew better.”

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    I continue to be alarmed by the hidden workers being treated so scandalously by their employers – in call centres, for example, and in warehouses, and yesterday I was, to be honest, sickened by the news that ‘Amazon reaps $11,000-a-second coronavirus lockdown bonanza’, taking founder Jeff Bezos’s personal fortune to $138bn.

    Sadly, as the article explains, instead of reflecting on the nature of their addiction to materialism and consumer self-gratification, “hundreds of millions people stuck in lockdown conditions [have] turn[ed] to the delivery giant to keep them fed and entertained.”

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/15/amazon-lockdown-bonanza-jeff-bezos-fortune-109bn-coronavirus

    This would be bad enough if Amazon wasn’t also implicated in the exploitation of workers – which, of course, it is, on the basis, I presume, that aggressive capitalists don’t believe they are doing their job properly unless they are actively endangering people’s lives.

    March 26 (UK): https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/amazon-worker-says-coronavirus-spreading-21760050
    March 30 (US): https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/mar/30/amazon-workers-strike-coronavirus
    April 14 (US): https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/14/amazon-workers-fired-coronavirus-emily-cunningham-maren-costa

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Bill Perry wrote, in response to 5, above:

    And it’ll go on for at least 24 to 30 months, until they figure out how to feed, shelter, etc., the unfortunate folks who do not have a backup source of cash.

    But I can’t help but wonder how much shit the U.S. SHEEPLE will eat, before there’s a social/economic explosion.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Trump, like Bolsonaro, is demonstrating what a sociopath’s obsession with capitalist profit looks like during a global pandemic, Bill, and while his supporters will lap it all up (whilst also killing themselves by continuing to meet in evangelical churches and on gun-related outings), it would seem that his increasingly deranged behaviour, and an ever-increasing death toll, should end up provoking some kind of backlash.

    But then again, we all have it drilled into us that elections are the only way to express dissent, so perhaps all that energy is simply going to be channelled into the election in November, with, as usual, 40% of the population refusing to engage with it at all, and vast amounts of energy put into backing an inadequate leader of the so-called “Democratic” option.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Following a comment on Facebook by Chris Floyd (https://www.facebook.com/cfloyd72/posts/10158135277582184), I realised that I hadn’t looked into the details of America’s $4 trillion bailout, and did a bit of searching, locating this Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi about – in particular – its disastrous creation of more free money for a financial sector still dangerously bloated from the post-2008 bailouts: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/coronavirus-fed-bank-bailout-disaster-976086/

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Nobuko Tensi wrote, in response to 20, above:

    He sacked workers complaining about working condition, too near to each other.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, he’s a menace, Nobuko, but what can we do when people won’t boycott his wretched company? He appears to be the future, and if people don’t change their behaviour, we’ll come out of this with permanently dead high streets, and everything we consume in the hands of Bezos and other hyper-greedy capitalists who hide their abused workers in prison-like warehouses.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Nobuko Tensi wrote:

    I don’t buy from Amazon, but my son does😕

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I don’t either, Nobuko, but I sometimes use other retailers who, over the years, have been obliged to do business via Amazon. It’s a creeping disease of total control, just like so much of our lives. If supermarkets – or Bezos, who wants to replace supermarkets – had their way, our fridges would be branded and owned by corporations, who’d deliver our supplies every week.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    In France, meanwhile, ‘Amazon closes French warehouses after court ruling on coronavirus’ – ‘Court ruled Amazon was not doing enough to protect workers and told it to stop selling non-essential goods’: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/15/amazon-to-close-french-warehouses-over-coronavirus-concerns

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Some links today about the polluting industries pressing for, and, in some cases, getting government bailouts – and in some cases also securing a weakening of environmental protections. My favourite quote here is from Michael Liebrich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, who says, “As governments again load the helicopters with money to dump on the global economy … no fossil fuel-based businesses should be bailed out without committing to science-based, net-zero targets. No money should go to industries that have been living high on the hog on fossil fuel subsidies and tax loopholes, like the airline industry, unless they accept structural reform.”

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/17/coronavirus-profiteers-condemned-as-polluters-gain-bailout-billions
    Also see ‘Polluter bailouts and lobbying during Covid-19 pandemic’: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/17/polluter-bailouts-and-lobbying-during-covid-19-pandemic
    And the ‘Mighty Earth’ website, with descriptions of the major polluters by category: https://stories.mightyearth.org/the-coronavirus-climate-profiteers/index.html
    1. Meat and Biofuel Industries
    2. The Auto Industry
    3. Airlines
    4. Indonesian Illegal Loggers
    5. The Fossil Fuel Industry
    A sixth section looks at ‘Who’s Doing the Right Thing.’

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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