COVID-19 and the Economic Meltdown: Was Global Tourism the Only Thing Keeping Us Afloat?

Grounded planes in Alabama, March 25, 2020 (Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters).

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Three months since the arrival of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented lockdown on human interaction and on huge swathes of our economy, the primary objective — preventing our hospitals and morgues from being overwhelmed — has been achieved. The cost — economically, and, in some cases, psychologically — has been enormous, but the road ahead, as those in charge attempt to revive a functioning economy, looks like it will be even more arduous.

No congratulations should be extended to Boris Johnson and his government for the achievements of the lockdown. Johnson dithered for far too long at the beginning of the crisis, and the deaths of tens of thousands of people are, as a result, his responsibility, although not his responsibility alone, as the last few months have also shown us that, sadly, this empty windbag of a Prime Minister is largely manipulated by his senior adviser, the sneering eugenicist Dominic Cummings.

Both men were initially prepared to allow the virus to spread unchecked throughout the entire population, with people required to “take it on the chin”, as they let it “move through the population”, as Johnson explained in a now notorious TV appearance. It was only when medical experts pointed out the potential death toll of the “herd immunity” scenario that the lockdown began, following similar conclusions that were, in most other countries, reached rather earlier in the virus’s spread.

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Lockdown Fundraiser: Seeking $2500 (£2000) to Support My Guantánamo Work and My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2020, the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening, and a section of photos from the coronavirus lockdown in London, as featured on Andy’s Facebook page ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2,500 (£2,000) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo over the next three months of the Trump administration, and/or for my London photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Dear friends and supporters,

Every three months I ask you, if you can, to support my ongoing journalism and activism — mostly on Guantánamo — and my photo-journalism, via my project ‘The State of London’, for which I have no institutional backing. As a very modern version of a freelance journalist, I’m reliant on you, my supporters, to support my work via donations if you like what I do and are able to help.

This is a long-standing arrangement, and it largely arose because there was no room for someone like me in the mainstream media, which didn’t want an expert on Guantánamo writing relentlessly about the prison, the men held there, and why it needs to be closed, and who, in general, dismiss people who are relentlessly dedicated to important causes as “activists” rather than journalists. This is a distinction that I don’t find valid, which serves to largely sideline writers who burn with indignation at injustices in favour of those who embrace “objectivity” — and sadly it tends only to end up supporting the status quo.

On Guantanamo, I have doggedly sought its closure for 14 years now, and have no intention of giving up while it remains open, because its very existence is such a legal, ethical and moral abomination. Your support for my relentless persistence regarding this hugely important but almost entirely forgotten topic is very greatly appreciated.

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Celebrating Eight Years of My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

Andy Worthington’s most recent photos of London under lockdown, as part of his photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please feel free to support ‘The State of London’ with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Check out all the photos here!

Exactly eight years ago, on May 11, 2012, I set out on my bike, from my home in Brockley, in the London Borough of Lewisham, in south east London, to begin a project of photographing the whole of London — the 120 postcodes that make up what is known as the London postal district or the London postal area (those beginning WC, EC, E, SE, SW, W, NW and W). These postcodes cover 241 square miles, although I’ve also made some forays into the outlying areas that make up Greater London’s larger total of 607 square miles.

I’ve been a cyclist since about the age of four, and I’d started taking photographs when I was teenager, but my cycling had become sporadic, and I hadn’t had a camera for several years until my wife bought me a little Canon — an Ixus 115 HS — for Christmas 2011. That had renewed my interest in photography, and tying that in with cycling seemed like a good idea because I’d been hospitalised in March 2011 after I developed a rare blood disease that manifested itself in two of my toes turning black, and after I’d had my toes saved by wonderful NHS doctors, I’d started piling on the pounds sitting at a computer all day long, continuing the relentless Guantánamo work I’d been undertaking for the previous five years, which, perhaps, had contributed to me getting ill in the first place.

As I started the project, I had no idea really what I was letting myself in for — how massive London is, for example, so that even visiting all 120 of its postcodes would take me over two years, or how completely I would become enthralled by the capital that has been my home since 1985, but that was unknown to me beyond familiar haunts (the West End, obviously, parts of the City, and areas like Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove, which I’ve always been drawn to), and places I’d lived (primarily, Brixton, Hammersmith, briefly, Forest Hill, Peckham and, for the last 20 years, Brockley).

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In the Midst of the Coronavirus Lockdown, Environmental Lessons from Extinction Rebellion, One Year On

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Tell the Truth’ boat in Oxford Circus on April 18, 2019, during a week-long occupation of sites in central London to raise awareness of the environmental catastrophe that is already underway, and the need for urgent change to combat it (Photo: Andy Worthington)..

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

As we all continue to try to make sense of — and live with — the extraordinarily changed world in which we find ourselves, I’m reminded of what a different place we were in a year ago, and also how some of our insights from that time so desperately need to be remembered today.

One year ago, we were five days into Extinction Rebellion’s occupation of four sites in central London (Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch), which largely brought the traffic to a halt for a week, and enabled anyone paying attention to directly appreciate what a city not dominated by the choking fumes and noise of relentless traffic felt like, and what that, in turn, said about so many of capitalism’s priorities in a major capital city.

It was, to be blunt, something of revelation, as I explained in an article at the time, Extinction Rebellion’s Urgent Environmental Protest Breaks New Ground While Drawing on the Occupy, Anti-Globalisation and Road Protest Movements, in which I also related XR’s efforts to those of earlier protest movements, and noted how we had, it seemed, all become so accustomed to how loud and dirty London was, with its relentless traffic, the incessant din of its numerous building sites, and the lorries servicing those sites, which were the most unpleasant of all the vehicles incessantly filing our streets — other huge lorries, buses, taxis, white vans, and an inexplicable number of cars — that the sudden silence and clean air was astonishing.

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Please Support My Quarterly Fundraiser: Seeking $2500 (£2000) For My Guantánamo Work and London Photography

Andy Worthington on RT in January 2020, and recent images from his ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2,500 (£2,000) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo over the next three months of the Trump administration, and/or for my London photo-journalism project “The State of London”.





 

Dear friends and supporters,

As many of you know, for the last 14 years I have been an independent journalist and activist, writing about Guantánamo and the men held there, and campaigning to get the prison closed. I have no institutional backing, and I’m therefore reliant on your support and generosity to enable me to keep doing this important work.

Guantánamo has been the main focus of my working life for the last 14 years, and it remains as true now, as it has been throughout my long dedication to the cause of getting Guantánamo closed, that I can’t do what I do without your support.

To preserve my health — both physically and mentally — I have also spent the last eight years cycling around London on a daily basis, taking photos of the changing face of the capital, for a project that I call ‘The State of London’, which involves me posting a photo — and an accompanying essay — every day on Facebook.

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Quarterly Fundraiser: Seeking $2500 (£2000) to Support My Ongoing Work on Guantánamo and Torture and My London Photo-Journalism Project

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2019, the 17th anniversary of the opening of the prison, and photos from Andy’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2,500 (£2,000) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo over the next three months of the Trump administration, and/or for my London photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’




 

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s that time of year again when I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my ongoing work on Guantánamo and the US torture program, and/or, if you wish, to support my ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

As a completely independent journalist, activist and commentator, I have no institutional backing whatsoever, so I’m reliant on your support to help me to keep writing and campaigning about Guantánamo, and chronicling the ever-changing face of London.

If you can make a donation to support my ongoing efforts to close Guantánamo, and/or ‘The State of London’, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s $500, $100, $25 or even $10 — or the equivalent in any other currency.

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Celebrating 900 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project, ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted on the Facebook page for Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

Check out all the photos to date here!

Please feel free to support ‘The State of London’ with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Yesterday marked 900 days since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook — with accompanying essays — taken from the daily photographic journeys by bike around London’s 120 postcodes that I started five years before — on May 11, 2012, an ongoing photo-journalistic project that I call ‘The State of London.’ For anyone obsessed with stats, I think this means that I’ve been out in all weathers photographing the capital for 2,726 days; or seven years, five months and 16 days. 

Before I create the inadvertent illusion that I’m the Bear Grylls of urban cycling, I should point out that, nine days out of ten, I haven’t strayed far beyond the radius of postcodes emanating from my home, in Brockley, London SE4; that is to say, Deptford (SE8), Greenwich (SE10), Lewisham (SE13), New Cross (SE14), Peckham and Nunhead (SE15), Rotherhithe and South Bermondsey (SE16), and the whole of the sprawling SE1 postcode.

However, I have been to each of the 120 postcodes that make up the ‘London postal area’ at least once (a milestone I reached in September 2014), and I have also got to know, extremely well, almost the whole of south east London, most of east London (which I generally access via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, the Regent’s Canal and the Limehouse Cut), much of south west London, the whole of the City and the West End, and the central components of the N, NW and W postcodes, and I feel that I now “know” the city — and, intellectually, “own” it — in a way that was unimaginable to me seven years ago, and that its streets and its shape and much of its history is now embedded in me like an organic GPS system.

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Extinction Rebellion Challenges and Defies Outrageous London-Wide Ban on Public Assemblies

Extinction Rebellion supporters defy the Metropolitan Police’s outrageous London-wide ban on XR protests, congregating in significant numbers in Trafalgar Square, October 16, 2019 (Photo: Ben Gillespie).

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On Monday evening, in response to the start of the second week of actions in London by the environmental campaigning group Extinction Rebellion, as part of their International Rebellion in at least 60 cities worldwide, the Metropolitan Police issued an unprecedented order, under Section 14 of the 1986 Public Order Act, which allows them to impose restrictions on any “public assembly” (an assembly of two or more people in a public place), if they claim that it poses “serious disruption to the life of the community.”

The order on Monday night stated that “any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ … must now cease their protests within London (MPS and City of London Police Areas)” by 9pm, and even before it was issued police began clearing protestors out of their camp in Trafalgar Square.

Lawyers, civil liberties groups and some MPs immediately responded with understandable outrage. Jolyon Maugham QC tweeted, “We believe the section 14 Order is invalid — that it amounts to a huge overreach of the statutory power — and likely reflects the enormous political pressure the Met is under”, adding, “It exposes the Met to all sorts of risks — of legal challenges to validity, of civil claims for wrongful arrest with aggravated damages and so on — merely because this Government cannot tolerate peaceful protest.”

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The Green Generation: The Furious Energy of Young People and the Global Climate Strike

Children taking part in the Global Climate Strike in London on September 20, 2019 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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If you’re reading this, and, like me, were comfortably born within the long reach of the 20th century, then pause for a moment and imagine what the future looks like for those born this century, those who aren’t even able to vote yet, and who make up a large part of what has been termed ‘Generation Z’ — those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s — as well as those born more recently, who trend-watchers don’t even seem to have a name for yet, although they might want to think about calling them the ‘Green Generation’ if yesterday is anything to go by.

Yesterday’s Global Climate Strike — the third this year — was the biggest yet, and the biggest climate protest ever. In 185 countries, at least three million people — mostly young — took to the streets to demand urgent action to prevent the worst effects of an already unfolding environmental catastrophe.

By now, no one should have any doubts about the urgency of the crisis. In the Northern Hemisphere, where 90% of the earth’s population lives, the last five summers have been the hottest since records began in the late 19th century, with this summer being the hottest yet. Globally, the only year that was hotter was 2016.

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Celebrating 800 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted in my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Check out all the photos here!

Over seven years ago, in a world that seemed brighter than today — even though the Tories were in power, and London was in the throes of a corporate and jingoistic makeover as the host of the 2012 Olympic Games — I began an absurdly ambitious project that I soon dubbed ‘The State of London’, which involved me cycling around the London postal area (the 120 postcodes beginning WC, EC, SE, SW, W, NW, N and E), with some additional forays into the 13 Greater London postcodes beginning with two letters (e.g. CR for Croydon) that surround it.

For some reason, I wasn’t deterred by the fact that the London postal area covers 241 square miles, and although my ambition has in some ways paid off, in that, by September 2014, I had visited each of the 120 postcodes at least once, I would be lying if I didn’t concede that my knowledge of much of London — particularly in the west, the north west and the north — remains shadowy to say the least.

That said, my knowledge of a larger part of London — radiating from my home in south east London — has become satisfyingly thorough. There is barely a street in the whole of south east London that I have not visited, and, in addition, east London and south west London, the City, the West End, and parts of north, north west and west London have all become extremely familiar to me.

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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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