Britain and poverty – a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

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Britain and poverty – a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

The covid pandemic didn’t cause poverty in Britain – though it didn’t help. However, many thousands of people would have been pushed over the established line and many thousands of others would have been forced into debt which makes their future prospects looking rather bleak.

What the pandemic has certainly done is to expose what had been previously hidden, by government intention and a general reluctance in Britain for too many of the population to accept that poverty exists – as they would then have to face the moral dilemma about what to do about it.

Anecdotal evidence shows that donations to food banks have increased in the last 18 months or so and it will be interesting to see how those levels are maintained now that there is a general sense that Britain is returning to ‘normal’ with those who can returning to work. But the changes that are taking place at the beginning of October 2021 also have a sting. The furlough scheme is coming to an end and in a few days the extra £20 given to those on Universal Credit will also be withdrawn.

(An interesting statistic from the past year is that under the furlough scheme people could claim up to £2,500 per month. Those on Universal Credit are now set to lose £1,040 PER YEAR. Even in the worst days of the pandemic, when millions were not able to work, it was the most wealthy in the population who were getting the greatest percentage of government assistance.)

Much has been said, by many, that once the country is out of the pandemic that it should ‘build back better’. If we take this (which I think is a meaningless sound bite) at face value what will it mean when it comes to poverty in Britain, with all that goes with it such as homelessness/expensive and poor rental accommodation? What track record do any of the parties that seek power in Westminster have to make us think that there will be anything radical that will seek to eliminate poverty?

The answer to that question is none.

Poverty is a direct consequence of capitalism. Capitalism needs poverty in order to be able to frighten, manipulate and control the working masses.

As this is the ‘Conference Season’ (when all the major political parties have their annual get-togethers) many promises will be made to be conveniently forgotten at the first opportunity or when ‘reality’ kicks in.

The very recent publication of the millions of leaked papers about how the ‘super-rich’ are able to maintain their wealth (and the political control that goes with it) in the so-called Pandora Papers (which, amazingly, have seemed to dropped out of the news very quickly) only goes to show what has been obvious for years (if not decades) and that is that the rich and powerful are becoming more so. With that increase in wealth comes an ‘entitlement’ for them to control so much wealth they could never really spend it. Some of the comments that were made by those exposed by the investigation over the last two years demonstrate that none of the respondents think they had done anything wrong.

And, legally they probably haven’t. They come from and create the sort of society which forces the vast majority to pay their ‘fair share’ of the tax burden but which provides ‘loopholes’ so that if you have enough to buy an accountant/lawyer or other form of shyster what you pay is vastly disproportionate to the amounts involved. This all comes after a number of years where major companies have been shifting addresses around the world so that they pay the minimum to stay ‘within the law’.

None of these individuals or companies will ever be prosecuted and they won’t even feel any shame of being caught out.

However, ordinary people have to wake up to the facts and realise that they are as much part of the problem as they are of the solution.

One of the first posts on this blog, when Left side of the road was started in the summer of 2012, was about food banks. That post was prompted by an article in which the Trussell Trust, the charity which runs the biggest number of food banks in the UK, stated that it wanted to see food banks in every city and town in the country. That, to me, was a ludicrous goal to set. Surely the aim is to see no food banks as society is sufficiently developed and cultured to have abolished poverty and the need for such charity.

Within Britain, and the same goes for much of the rest of the world, there seems to be an acceptance of the existence of poverty (dire and extreme as it is in some countries) and that the rich and the powerful have the right to accumulate vast fortunes and live an obscenely wasteful lifestyle – right next to people who never know where the next meal is coming from.

The only reason I can see for this acceptance of such an unjust system is that people who have the ability to change the situation somehow get a kick out of the existence of poverty, can make themselves fell good if they are in the fortunate position of having a bit of slack they can give in the form of charity and continue to look up to the celebrities, whether they be ‘royalty’ or just some pop singer.

This is akin to the mental disease, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

Vaccination programme in Britain …..

Freshers’ week drive to give covid jabs to students in England.

Compulsory vaccination: what does human rights law say?

Covid vaccine effects wane over time but still prevent death and severe illness.

Covid vaccine boosters – who will receive them and why are they being given?

Trials begin on Covid booster jab hoped to protect against new variants – but will these new ‘super’ vaccines be given to those who have already been vaccinated or to those still to receive the first dose?

….. and in the rest of the world (or not)

Covax misses its 2021 delivery target – what’s gone wrong in the fight against vaccine nationalism?

In hindsight there was no foresight: how Australia bungled its Pfizer Covid deal.

England’s Covid travel rules spark outrage around the world. Refusal to recognise vaccines given across Latin America, Africa and south Asia has been denounced as ‘discriminatory’.

Vaccine Apartheid’: Africans tell UN they need vaccines.

Hospital admissions – September 2021

‘A bit of a mystery’: why hospital admissions for covid in England are going down.

The wearing of masks

Evidence shows that, yes, masks prevent covid-19 – and surgical masks are the way to go [although these researchers have obviously never observed the manner that people, in all countries, don’t wear the masks as they ‘are supposed to’. If they don’t follow correct practice does not mask wearing cause a potential threat rather than a preventative in transmission?

The future of covid

Coronavirus unlikely to become more deadly because it’s run out of ‘places to go’.

Following the science?

No 10 [Downing Street – the office of the Buffoon] accused of side-lining behaviour experts on latest Covid measures.

‘Long covid’

Technical article: Updated estimates of the prevalence of post-acute symptoms among people with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK: 26 April 2020 to 1 August 2021.

Double vaccination halves risk of developing long-lasting symptoms’

‘Collateral damage’

Britain’s covid-era university students may suffer ‘impostor syndrome’.

NHS backlog disproportionately affecting England’s most deprived.

Resolution Foundation warns of cost of living crisis.

Who is benefiting from the pandemic?

Private hospitals profit from NHS waiting lists as people without insurance pay out.

A year that changed the world – and medical companies’ fortunes.

Evil Doers: The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Pandemic – written about the US context but applicable anywhere in the world.

The world gone mad

If the world was working in concert it would have been a different matter.

Russia slams New York’s vaccine requirement for UN general assembly.

Ministers told to bar European Union from UK trial data in vaccines row.

Poverty in Britain

Who’s paying for the government’s plan to fix social care? A podcast.

Universal credit cut will push 800,000 people into poverty.

Child poverty now costs Britain £38 billion a year.

Social care plan will help just a tenth of UK’s older people in need.

The next three articles are mainly focussed on Scotland – but the figures will be mirrored in the rest of the UK.

Almost 300,000 people missed rent or mortgage payment in last year.

Child Winter Heating Assistance eligibility extended.

Energy crisis and price cap rise ‘could force 150,000 more Scots into fuel poverty’.

Buffoon refuses to say if he could live on basic universal credit pay.

Ending universal credit boost will hit sickest areas the hardest.

How (if) will it all end?

How will the covid pandemic end?

What kind of inquiry do we need to learn the right lessons?

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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Ukraine – what you’re not told

A Tale of Two Countries – Britain and India

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

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Ukraine – what you’re not told

A Tale of Two Countries – Britain and India

From the proverbial ‘man in the street’ at the bottom to the Buffoon at the top (to what depths has Britain plummeted when those last words can be written as a statement of fact?) there’s a general perception in Britain that we are the end of covid-19 – at least for the time being. However, the flaw in that reasoning is that we are in the middle of a pandemic and not an epidemic. Sorting matters out at home can never be guaranteed to be permanent – as we are seeing with the rising numbers of infections, hospitalisations (or not, if the health system in so many countries is so dire there is, effectively, no functioning health system – as in India) and deaths in various countries.

However, there can be no doubt that (so far) the vaccination programme in Britain has been a success. Although the Buffoon implies it’s due to his government’s activity the real truth is that the success has been achieved solely because none of the Eton boys and girls were involved in the logistical arrangements. The Government might have spent the money – but then its not coming from their pockets in the long term and who and how the ultimate bill gets paid is something we still don’t know about.

What that means in Britain is that instead of the news being dominated by the pandemic we are back to the same old scandals that preceded the outbreak at the end of 2019. Incompetence has been with us throughout the last 18 months (all the late decisions, U-turns, etc., etc.) but to that we now have sleaze and corruption (which, in reality, has always been with us) and now an even greater display of the way those the British people have foolishly chosen to rule themselves think they are entitled to do whatsoever they wish.

Yes, there are many more important issues to contend with than who originally paid for the refurbishment of the Buffoon’s flat but the ‘scandal’ just goes to show that even in ‘normal’ times there’s always money available to splash out on luxuries for the rich – when the rest of us were being told we had to tighten out belts.

Perhaps what the period of the pandemic has done is shine a spotlight on these matters when in the past they would have just been ignored as being insignificant. This has definitely been the case when it comes to the obscene levels of poverty that have become more well known in the last year or so. Whether the people of Britain draw a connection to these two extremes of lifestyles (so many families having to resort to food banks and free school meals and those in ‘power’ agonising on how to spend tens of thousands of pounds from the public purse to decorate a few rooms in a central London town house) and do something about it is questionable. I would like to think so but I’m not holding my breath.

The fact that the Buffoon can get away with saying ‘let the bodies pile high’ and the issue dropping out of the headlines within a matter of a couple of days doesn’t bode well.

But this corruption and incompetence is not just a UK phenomenon. The worsening (and still far from ending) situation in India is yet another example of how the world’s leaders can effectively cause a crisis which leads to even more people dying on the streets than is the norm in the country.

The Indian Hindu Fascist, Modi, should be held personally responsible for the deaths that are raging throughout the country at this time. Agreed he didn’t inherit a truly viable system necessary for a population of 1.4 billion people but what he has done has made a bad system even worse by the policies he has pursed in the last 20 years or so – first at a local level and latterly at the national.

When it comes to the pandemic India is dominating the news now (and, indeed, this post) – people literally dying in the streets or in hospital corridors, often due to lack of simple basics. This is obviously good news for the other government leaders throughout the world who have handled matters as badly. However, the cause for such dramatic and disturbing images is the same throughout the capitalist world. Neo-liberal economic policies, privatisation and mismanagement/corruption have brought so many countries virtually to their knees.

But these fascist leaders are like Teflon – nothing sticks.

The Buffoon in the UK should really be hammered due to his crass mismanagement of the pandemic of the last 15 months – but in the first electoral ‘test’ of his leadership tomorrow (6th May) – since the beginning of the pandemic – in local elections he will probably at least survive if not thrive.

In India Modi’s failure to gain control of West Bengal is being declared as a ‘defeat’ in the western press. Considering that the election there took place as the figures of deaths was rocketing in the country you would have thought the Indian people would have realised that all his claims are mere illusions. However, in the ‘defeat’ in West Bengal Modi’s party gained 40% of the popular vote and increased the number of seats they have in the Parliament by 77 – from just three in 2016.

Not what I would call a ‘defeat’ – and certainly not being punished for gross incompetence. It is to be assumed that some of those who voted for Modi’s Fascist Party are now dead or dying – I wonder if they realised/will realise their error of judgement before they close their eyes forever.

Vaccination programme in Britain …

Only 32 people hospitalised with covid after having vaccination.

Why calculating the risk of the AstraZeneca vaccine is so difficult.

Why some people don’t experience vaccine side-effects, and why it’s not a problem.

… and the rest of the world

Those who we foolishly allow to rule over us never cease to amaze. Instead of addressing the real problem they resort to expensive and complicated legal cases to resolve their own inefficiency. Just like spoilt children they threaten to take their ball away if they don’t get their own way. European Union Commission asks states to back legal action against AstraZeneca.

And they call this ‘leadership’ and wonder why people are confused? EU urges member states to re-embrace AstraZeneca vaccine.

Just what we need in the middle of a pandemic – drawn out court cases and shovelling public money into the pockets of lawyers – AstraZeneca sued by European Union over delivery of covid vaccines.

Vulnerability to the disease

Severe covid in young people can mostly be explained by obesity.

Corruption and covid

It seems the bigger the rewards the better the chances of being awarded lucrative contracts.

Lancashire firm wades into Dyson ventilators row. NorVap says it has been unable to sell devices it created in response to Hancock’s ‘ventilator challenge’.

‘Possible corruption’ in 20% of covid contracts awarded. Study of nearly 1,000 pandemic deals finds ‘systemic bias’ in favour of firms with political connections.

Not surprisingly corruption raises its ugly head in the United States as well – this time with the involvement of the ‘liberal’ and ‘caring’ billionaire, Bill Gates.

‘Utterly disgusting’: ‘Big Pharma’ lobby blitz against vaccine patent waivers denounced.

The pandemic in India

Why variants are most likely to blame for India’s covid surge.

‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’: Arundhati Roy on India’s Covid catastrophe.

India covid crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy.

‘We are not special’: how triumphalism led India to covid-19 disaster.

Radio 4’s The Briefing Room looked at the chaotic situation in India (and Modi’s responsibility for it) in a programme entitled ‘India’s Covid Catastrophe’ on 29th April.

Covid in India: the deep-rooted issues behind the current crisis.

How the Modi government prioritised politics over public health.

Covid-19 in India: an unfolding humanitarian crisis.

India covid crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy.

How India descended into covid-19 chaos.

Coronavirus Emergency Powers Act

‘No meaningful parliamentary debate or scrutiny’ of covid laws, says former government legal chief.

‘Immunity Passports’

People in England could get covid passports for foreign travel by 17 May.

National Health Service (NHS) app to be used as coronavirus passport for international travel, Grant Shapps confirms.

Poverty in Britain

Kent council fined after mother and son left to live in tent in pandemic.

Tens of thousands in UK avoided universal credit during covid over stigma.

Whilst not in any way denigrating the intentions of this article I think it is optimistic, to say the least, to get any government (especially that of the present Buffoon) in capitalist Britain to truly alleviate the problems of poorly paid work and the consequent poverty. At best they will apply a sticking plaster when major surgery is required. The Employment Bill is a chance to improve jobs for low-paid workers.

It’s good that some schools are doing so but is it really their job to become advisors to what people are entitled? Could schools hold the key to helping families claim benefits?

The Resolution Foundation has produced a report looking at how the British Social security system has responded to the covid pandemic entitled In need of support – Lessons from the covid-19 crisis for our social security system. On 29th April there was a webinar on this report which filled in some of the gaps and explained some of the consequences. That can be watched here.

As has been stated here (as well as in innumerable discussions about the effect of the pandemic) covid hasn’t caused the extensive poverty that exists in Britain, it has exposed the hidden truths and in many cases the results of the lock downs and other restrictions have exacerbated the level of poverty. On 26th April there was a slot on the Radio 4 programme You and Yours which looked at the problems many families are experiencing with the provision of school uniforms.

The National Housing Federation published a report in April 2021 entitled Universal Credit in a time of crisis (full report) related to how the pandemic had affected tenants of housing associations and their ability to pay rent. For just a summary click here.

‘Collateral damage’

Sharp rise in mental illness among those whose income fell away during the covid pandemic.

What has been the impact of the covid pandemic on older workers in Britain? On 26th April the Resolution Foundation hosted a discussion on this matter.

Collateral ‘benefit’ from covid?

New malaria vaccine proves highly effective – and covid shows how quickly it could be deployed

Lessons from the pandemic – worldwide

What steps must be taken to secure oxygen – for covid-19 patients and into the future. Just to take a few words from this article to indicate the underlying problem that people throughout the world face – multinational corporations and government corruption;

… a low priority has been given to develop and scale up oxygen relative to new drugs, for which a patent can be taken out and big pharmaceutical companies can make a large profit.

2020 was horrendous for health workers – early 2021 was even worse, as told by two doctors in Liverpool.

Or not. Outrage as No 10 rules out urgent inquiry into covid mistakes.

‘Now is the time’: top experts join call for Buffoon to launch covid inquiry.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

View of the world

Ukraine – what you’re not told

Football kicks covid into touch – if only for 48 hours

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

View of the world

Ukraine – what you’re not told

Football kicks covid into touch – if only for 48 hours

A sign that the covid pandemic is becoming a thing of the past in Britain is the way that it was kicked off the headlines by an even more important aspect of modern day society – football.

As with the gladiatorial exhibitions in the circuses of the Roman Empire a couple of thousand years ago all oppressors have been looking for something to distract the mass of people from the ineptitude, corruption and incompetence of the ruling class. Twenty first century capitalism has found that in football – the only difference is that now they make supporters (whether at the grounds or at home on their TV screens) pay for their distraction – ‘bread and circuses’ but without the bread.

In an effort to direct attention away from the growing number of corruption stories that surround the awarding of contracts during the first few months of the pandemic the Buffoon rushed into battle – prepared to do everything within his ability to defend the ‘beautiful game’ (although he is known to have an antipathy – to say the least – about the sport and has no problem with the idea of the owners doing whatever they can to fill their bursting coffers) as he could take on the mantel of a ‘Superman’ flying in to the rescue.

Unfortunately for the Buffoon the money-grubbing pricks who own all these European football clubs ‘caved in’ when they saw the general opposition from all sides. (This will only be a temporary respite on their behalf. They know what they want and there’s too much at stake for the idea to be dropped completely. It will resurface in the not too distant future but with a slightly different aspect.)

When the news finally broke about the plan for a new European ‘Super League’ the Buffoon must have thought that all his Christmasses had come at once. He could stand in the new (hugely expensive) press suit and announce day after day what he was doing to save the game that belonged to the common man and woman. How deflated he must have been on Tuesday evening?

But he might not really have to worry.

The people of Britain seem to have forgotten all the mistakes that he and his Government have made in the last 14 or so months when it comes to the pandemic. The delays, the inaction, the unpreparedness, the confusion, the U-turns, the lies, the conflicts with science, the exposure of the vast extent of poverty in all parts of the country, the introduction of restrictive legislation, the tens of thousands of deaths, the huge debt just being added to as if money was going out of fashion, the total lack of any strategy even now. Added to that we now have a daily leaking of stories of ‘sleaze’, cronyism and corruption. But none of that has exercised as large a portion of the British population in the same way as what was being publicised as an attack upon British heritage.

Things are gong well for the Buffoon at the moment. The vaccination programme continues to clock up the numbers and any ‘relaxation’ of the last few weeks doesn’t seem to have had a major impact on hospitalisations and deaths. Added to that the death of an almost centenarian has given a boost to the monarchists and forelock tugging sycophants, the bedrock of reaction amongst the British working class.

The pandemic has exposed many of the worst aspects of British society after decades of being brushed under the carpet. The Buffoon will be hoping that many more such distractions such as the European ‘Super League’ arise in the future as the country begins to realise what a shitstorm it has gone through.

Vaccination programme in Britain …

What need of ‘anti-vaxxers’ when scientists shoot themselves in the foot. Vaccine confidence fears as under-30s in UK offered AstraZeneca alternative.

Most Britons still trust AstraZeneca vaccine – poll shows. But the fall out is this extremely badly managed situation will, no doubt, have consequences that will continue for years. Thereby putting more money into the coffers of the other international pharmaceutical companies.

AstraZeneca vaccine: what now for roll out in the UK and Europe?

… and in the rest of the world

This is an obvious consequence of the ‘debate’ that has been talking place over the last few weeks. How does Britain expect people in other countries to use the Oxford researched vaccine if people in Britain aren’t being given it? This just builds on the mistrust that people in poorer countries have with the history of colonialism and imperialism. ‘If it’s not good for them then why is it good for us?’ AstraZeneca jab ‘course correction’ could dent confidence outside UK.

Just so the Brits (and especially the Buffoon) can feel ‘superior’ – Australia’s bungled covid vaccine roll out suffers another setback.

Researchers are hatching a low-cost coronavirus vaccine.

Petty nationalism gets in the way of any vaccine – mine’s better than yours. It’s not what this article says that’s interesting – but the tone. Here adding anti-Chinese sentiments to the nationalistic tub thumping. Chinese official says local vaccines ‘don’t have high protection rates’.

South African case study sheds light on how vaccine manufacturing can be developed.

The global approach to vaccine equity is failing.

Safety concerns and reactions in the west dent confidence worldwide.

Sputnik V: How Russia’s Covid vaccine is dividing Europe.

Most people support sharing vaccines with other countries.

Russian covid vaccine: why more and more countries are turning to Sputnik V.

The ‘Blood Clot Saga’

I’m starting to lose it when it comes to the matter of the AstraZeneca vaccine. European politicians and bureaucrats bad mouth the vaccine then fight to keep any supplies in Europe. And then, no doubt, will wonder why some of their population will refuse to take it. Almost all Dutch-made AstraZeneca doses will stay in EU, says Brussels.

The snowball starts rolling. European Union agency examines reports of blood clots with Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine.

Blood clot reports could have ‘implications’ for use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in UK. Waiting for a report to come out now which will indicate that such ‘rare’ blood clots are more common than we were first given to believe.

Is it the adenovirus vaccine technology, used by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, causing blood clots? There’s no evidence yet.

Brain clots ‘more likely’ with covid infection than vaccine.

The virus in the summer

Will summer slow the spread of covid-19?

The pandemic in the rest of the world

Covid pandemic still growing exponentially, World Health Organization says ‘confusion and complacency’ prolonging global situation.

How Taiwan beat covid-19.

Test, Track and Trace

NHS to digitise coronavirus testing with new Scandit deal.

Pubs are reopening but research shows contact tracing still isn’t working – here’s how to fix it.

Apple and Google block NHS Covid app update over privacy breaches.

Covid test firm cuts price amid criticism over cost.

Rapid covid testing in England may be scaled back over false positives.

Mass testing shouldn’t be part of the UK’s plan to return to normality.

Pesky variants

How worried should you be about coronavirus variants? A virologist explains his concerns.

More of those who make money out of a pandemic

Research shows travellers have to pay twice as much for PCR tests in the UK as they do in much of Europe.

It’s not just racism that’s been institutionalised in Britain – so has corruption. Matt Hancock and sister own shares in NHS contract firm.

Covid contracts: PPE fixer who was Tory donor named in admin error.

Poverty in Britain

On 21st April 2021 the Resolution Foundation released a report, After shocks – financial resilience before and during the covid-19 crisis, which looked at the comparative situation of low-income households in the UK, France and Germany. Although those people are suffering in all three countries this paragraph is here as, it won’t surprise many people, that in general the poor are even more worse off in Britain than the other two comparable countries in Europe.

On 21st April there was a one hour webinar discussing the outcomes of this report. That is available here.

Following ‘date not dates’?

Virus hotspots could lead to third Covid wave in UK.

‘Collateral damage’

Return to crowded Accident and Emergency Departments and long ambulance delays will put patients at risk, warn experts. ‘There seems to be a normalising of what is abnormal,’ says vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

Heathrow says airport queues are becoming ‘untenable’.

Ministers accused of ‘disrespectful’ attitude towards students after confirmation most will not return to English universities until 17 May. Claim tattoo parlours have been given more certainty than students.

4.7 million waiting for operations in England.

Workers in insecure jobs twice as likely to die of covid.

Press freedom: how governments are using COVID as an excuse to crack down on the public’s right to know.

Care Homes

Care homes: why investment firms can be bad owners.

Behaving ‘responsibly’ in 2021 Britain

England lock down eases: Buffoon warns people to ‘behave responsibly’.

Greensill: Lessons to be learnt over lobbying – Cameron

Isn’t there a contradiction here? Am I seeing something that’s not there or is it people refusing to accept that in present day British society there is definitely one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us. The worst thing about his is that the British population seems (at least the majority of them) to think that this is the norm.

‘Immunity passports’

Covid-status certificates could lead to deliberate infections, scientists warn.

Vaccine passports could create ‘two-tier society’.

Covid-status certificate scheme could be unlawful discrimination.

Resistance to the virus

Men create more antibodies after asymptomatic infections and keep them for longer.

The eventual recovery?

Post-covid recovery plans must centre around care work – here’s why.

Capitalism’s covid recovery will deepen social inequality.

Pandemic recovery will take more than soaring growth – to fuel a more equitable economy, countries need to measure the well-being of people, too.

Learning to live with covid – the tough choices ahead.

The Covid public inquiry

Five questions that need answering in a Covid public inquiry.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

View of the world

Ukraine – what you’re not told