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Showing posts from May, 2020

Rebuilding Bristol as a city of care

I was asked to speak at an event organised by the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees and the City Office team that brought together academics and other interested in rebuilding Bristol. I was asked to respond to the following question and thought people might be interested in reading the full text here:

‘Bristol, along with cities all over the globe, is facing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis. This brings both a challenge and an opportunity to rebuild our city. If we do it well, Bristol will be more inclusive, more sustainable and more resilient in the face of future shocks. If we do it without thinking, falling into old assumptions (i.e. badly), the opposite is true. How should we rebuild our city?’

In 5 minutes I can only hope to raise some issues and matters of concern. There are many present here today who will know a lot more than me about aspects of social justice - especially around race, disability and class and I hope they will join in afterwards with comments a…

Coronavirus: flying in fruit pickers from countries in lockdown is dangerous for everyone

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, major agricultural companies and charities have chartered flights to urgently bring in tens of thousands of Bulgarian and Romanian agricultural workers. Flights have headed to places like Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf in Germany, along with Essex and the Midlands in the UK.

This comes after farmers in both countries warned there is a real risk that thousands of tons of produce might be left to rot – further affecting food supply chains – if vacancies for agricultural workers go unfilled.

The excessive demand for food during lockdown has meant that farm labourers are classed as key workers, which is why they are being flown to the UK and other Western European countries.

In the UK, up to 90,000 temporary positions need to be filled within weeks. A national campaign has been launched appealing to students and those who have lost their jobs in bars, cafes and shops to help with the harvest. But so far the scheme only has around 10,000 applicants with …

Coronavirus conspiracy theories are dangerous – here’s how to stop them spreading

The number of coronavirus infections and deaths continues to rise at an alarming rate, reminding us that this crisis is far from over. In response, the global scientific community has thrown itself at the problem and research is unfolding at an unprecedented rate.

The new virus was identified, along with its natural origins, and tests for it were rapidly developed. Labs across the world are racing to develop a vaccine, which is estimated to be still around 12 to 18 months away.

At the same time, the pandemic has been accompanied by an infodemic of nonsense, disinformation, half-truths and conspiracy theories that have spread virally through social networks. This damages society in a variety of ways. For example, the myth that COVID-19 is less dangerous than the seasonal flu was deployed by US president Donald Trump as justification for delaying mitigation policies.

The recent downgrading of COVID-19 death projections, which reveal the success of social-distancing policies, has bee…