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The Spectator

Who will have more informants: the Stasi or Covid marshals?

Who will have more informants: the Stasi or Covid marshals?
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Information overload

The government’s plan to put ‘Covid wardens’ on the streets to enforce the new rule against more than six people meeting in public has been likened to the practice of the East German Stasi relying on mass informants. How many East Germans worked on behalf of the Stasi?

— According to historian Helmut Mueller-Enbergs, 620,000 Germans acted as informers during the 51-year history of East Germany, including 12,000 West Germans.

— When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, 189,000 East Germans were Stasi informants, just over 1 per cent of its 16 million population, and one in 20 Communist party members.

Back in business?

In which sectors is the jobs market recovering most strongly? Increase/decrease in vacancies between April-June and June-August:

Transport and storage +66.6%

Accommodation and food service +35.9%

Retail +27%

Motor trade + 22.2%

Human health and social work +18.2%

Arts and entertainment +17%

Mining/quarrying –7.3%

Source: ONS

Museum piece

Are we visiting museums again?

— In the week beginning 20 July, four museums sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were open. Between them they averaged 7.5 per cent of daily visitor numbers prior to Covid-19.

— In the week beginning 31 August, ten museums were open, and were averaging 25.2 per cent of pre-Covid visitor numbers.

Gone tomorrow

A documentary by Sir David Attenborough claimed that one million species are in danger of going extinct. How many have already bitten the dust?

— Sir David’s claim was first made in a report last night by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. That was out of a total of eight million animal and plant species, three-quarters of them insects.

— The same report claimed 680 vertebrate species have gone extinct since the 16th century, among them the Pinto giant tortoise in 2012.

— However, it is difficult to count species and wild animals, and to tell if they are extinct or not. At least 15 species have come back from the dead, notably the crested gecko which spent 128 years ‘extinct’ before turning up in New Caledonia in 1994.