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News Comment
"A View From Across The Pond" an Englishman's personal view of the week's news in the USA -
from Erithacus

Erithacus has not been able to update News Comment USA recently.  We hope to be able to resume the weekly updates shortly and apologize to our regular readers.  You can read Erithacus' comments for the UK and Europe on Simply-Info.co.uk

31st March 2001 
Stock markets showed signs of recovery this week with the Dow Jones index finishing 374 points higher at 9878.78, although the Nasdaq lost 88.42 points on the week. The figures for the end of this first quarter of 2001, however, were somewhat depressing, showing that the Dow Jones index had lost nearly 9% of its value at the start of the year and the Nasdaq more than 25% down. Total losses for this year show U.S. stocks have lost more than $1.7 trillion, and the Dow Jones’ falls are the worst first-quarter performance since 1978.

Investors remain cautious, although some do believe that the markets are at or very near to the bottom and are buying selectively, and the latest report on consumer confidence has shown a rise for the first time in four months.

I need, this week, to digress somewhat from the usual topic of looking at news in the USA. Americans will be aware of the problems facing the UK and Europe as a result of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain. Unfortunately, it seems that a very large number of otherwise well-informed U.S. citizens have managed to completely misunderstand what is actually happening. Indeed, a survey among Americans who recently cancelled flights to the UK shows that most believe food and drink in Britain is potentially hazardous, foot-and-mouth can be caught by humans, and some actually believe that a severe case of the disease would cause their hands and feet to drop off. So it seems appropriate to take much of this week’s page here to correct these, and other, totally false impressions:

  • Foot-and-mouth disease affects only cloven-hoofed animals. So unless you have cloven hooves YOU CANNOT GET IT.
  • Foot-and-mouth disease does not even kill the animals it infects. Although it is undoubtedly painful for them they invariably recover, but farm animals that have been affected will produce much less meat severely affecting the economics of modern farming.
  • Food and drink in Britain is possibly the safest in the world. Britain takes food health and safety regulations much more seriously than many countries which have the same or similar regulations and applies them rigidly. The foot-and-mouth virus cannot affect you in any way, and in any case all animals which have it or even which have a remote possibility of having come into contact with it are being destroyed and disposed of.
  • Britain is operating as usual. The ONLY restrictions that might affect visitors from other countries would be if they wanted to visit farms or to go for long walks in the British countryside. Foot-and-mouth disease can be carried and spread on feet of people and animals without infecting them, as well as on the wheels of vehicles. It therefore follows that footpaths near farms and farms themselves are closed in many areas. Some areas of open countryside where sheep and cattle roam freely are also closed. In a few affected areas, vehicles may be required to stop at checkpoints to have their wheels washed.
  • The British government took a decision to postpone the General Election previously expected to take place on May 3rd because they feel they need to be spending the time dealing with the crisis affecting British farmers and not electioneering. They also feel that it would be unwise to have people from farms that may not have the disease entering the same voting rooms as people from farms whose animals have been infected. The decision to postpone the election was itself delayed because the government did not want to send "the wrong signals" to visitors from other countries.

In summary, there is absolutely no reason why visitors from the USA or anywhere else should cancel their visits to Britain. We’re "open for business", as Prime Minister Tony Blair keeps saying, and unless you were planning on staying on or visiting farms, or going for walks across the British countryside, then your visit will not be affected in any way by the problems facing our farmers.

We look forward to seeing you all!

31st March 2001                        

 

Links to previous news comments:

25-March-2001
18-March-2001
11-March-2001
04-March-2001
24-Feb-2001
18-Feb-2001
03-Feb-2001
27-Jan-2001
20-Jan-2001
13-Jan-2001
06-Jan-2001
30-Dec-2000

Feel free to send your comments, opinions, and letters to Erithacus we will be pleased to publish suitable letters at the discretion of the editor.

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