Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dutch youth riot to protest Covid curfew

Rioting Dutch youths torch Covid testing center | Joy Online - Source: DW:  

24 January 2021 - "Youths torched a Covid-19 testing center and threw fireworks at police in the central Dutch fishing village of Urk overnight into Sunday. They were protesting a nationwide curfew that went into effect on Saturday in a bid to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. The curfew runs from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. local time (2030 to 0330 UTC/GMT) and will remain in place until February 9.... Exceptions to the curfew include medical emergencies, people performing essential jobs and people walking their dogs. Violators can be fined €95 ($115).

"Across the Netherlands, police said they arrested a total of 25 people and handed out 3,600 fines for violations of the curfew from Saturday into Sunday. Last Sunday, Covid lockdown sceptics clashed with riot police on horseback in a central square in Amsterdam. A total of 143 people were detained. Another protest against the new measures is planned for Sunday afternoon in the same square. Mayor Femke Halsema designated the area as a “high-risk zone” to give police the power to frisk people for weapons."

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Dutch streets relatively calm as police out in force following days of anti-lockdown riots | CBC News - Thomson Reuters:

January 26, 2021 - "With shops boarded up and riot police out in force, it was relatively calm in Dutch cities on Tuesday night after three days of violence during which around 500 people were detained. In several cities, including the capital Amsterdam, some businesses closed early and emergency ordinances were in place to give law enforcement greater powers to respond to the rioting, which was prompted by a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday when the 9 p.m. curfew went into effect, rowdy crowds of youths gathered in Amsterdam and Hilversum, but were broken up without incident. In Rotterdam, 33 people were detained for violating physical distancing regulations and vandalism.

"That was in stark contrast to Monday night, when rioting rocked cities across the country and more than 180 people were arrested for burning vehicles, stone throwing and widespread looting.... National Police chief Willem Woelders told Dutch public television[:] 'We did not need to use the riot police or other forces.' But he cautioned that one night of quiet did not mean they could let down their guard....

"The Netherlands' first curfew since the Second World War was imposed on Saturday despite weeks of falling infections, after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) expressed concern over the presence of a faster-spreading variant first found in England.

"A hospital in Rotterdam had warned visitors of patients to stay away, after reports that rioters tried to attack hospitals in various cities. A countrywide appeal issued by law enforcement authorities Tuesday called on parents to keep teenagers indoors, warning they could end up with a criminal record and forced to pay for damage to cars, shops and public property.

"In Amsterdam on Monday, groups of youths threw fireworks, broke store windows and attacked a police truck, but were broken up by a massive police presence. Ten police officers were injured in Rotterdam, where 60 people were detained overnight after widespread looting and destruction in the city centre, a police spokesperson said. Supermarkets in the port city were emptied, while rubbish bins and vehicles were set ablaze. Two photographers were hurt after being targeted by rock-throwing gangs, one in Amsterdam and another in the nearby town of Haarlem, police said.

"Coronavirus infections have been falling in recent weeks, with the number of new cases down by eight per cent over the past week.... Schools and non-essential shops across the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December. Bars and restaurants were closed two months earlier."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

German court strikes down personal contact ban

German District Court declares Corona Ordinance Unconstitutional UK Human Rights Blog - Rosalind English:

25 January 2021 -"In a landmark judgement on January 11, a district court judge in Weimar declared the prohibition on social contact unlawful as contrary to the German Basic Law (Gründgesetz). Its order at the time had been unconstitutional because the Infection Protection Act was not a sufficient legal basis for such a far-reaching regulation as a contact ban, the ruling said. The order of the contact ban had violated human dignity and had not been proportionate. (Reported in MDR Thüringen on 22 January 2021). In this case a citizen of Weimar had been prosecuted and was to be fined €200 for celebrating his birthday together with seven other people in the courtyard of a house at the end of April 2020, thus violating the contact requirements in force at the time. This only allowed members of two households to be together.... 

"This is the first time a judge has dealt in detail with the medical facts, the economic consequences and the effects of the specific policy brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic... With Germany having a federal legal system, there is no uniform case law yet on this point....

"Part of the rule of law is the requirement that laws be definite. Laws may not simply make blanket decrees and thus encourage overenthusiastic interpretation by the authorities leading to arbitrariness. According to the Infection Protection Act, the 'competent authority shall take the necessary protective measures'. In the normal course of events, this means that infected people or those suspected of infection can be isolated or contaminated premises closed. The Infection Protection Act does not provide for a general ban on contact that also covers healthy persons. However, as has been argued by many administrative courts to date, an overstepping of the regulatory circle of the Infection Protection Act beyond the normal course of events can be justified if it is an 'unprecedented event' that is so new that the legislature could not possibly have made the necessary regulations beforehand.

"The judge did not accept this exception to the rule of law. As early as 2013, the Bundestag prepared a risk analysis of a pandemic caused by a 'virus Modi-SARS' with the cooperation of the Robert Koch Institute, in which a scenario with 7.5 million deaths in Germany in a period of three years was described.... In view of such an event, which was considered at least 'conditionally probable' ... the legislator could therefore have examined the regulations of the Infection Protection Act and adapted them if necessary. This policy failure, as a result of which Germany had run into the epidemic virtually unprepared – without legal precautions to combat it, without stocks of masks, protective clothing and medical equipment, could not now lead to politicians being allowed to close any regulatory gap as they saw fit....

"The judge’s conclusion: there were no 'unjustifiable gaps in protection' that would have justified resorting to general clauses. These measures would have violated human dignity, which is 'inviolably guaranteed' in Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law'.... 

It is one of the fundamental freedoms of people in a free society to be able to determine for themselves with which people (assuming they are willing) and under what circumstances they enter into contact. The free encounter of people with each other for the most diverse purposes is at the same time the elementary basis of society. The state has to refrain from any purposeful regulating and restricting intervention. The question of how many people a citizen invites to his home or with how many people a citizen meets in public space to go for a walk, to do sports, to go shopping or to sit on a park bench is of no fundamental interest to the state....

"In January 2020, hardly anyone in Germany could imagine that the state could forbid them from inviting their parents to their home under threat of a fine, unless they sent the other members of their family out of the house for the time they were there. Hardly anyone could imagine that three friends could be forbidden to sit together on a park bench. Never before has the state thought of resorting to such measures to combat an epidemic. Even in the [2013] risk analysis ... which after all described a scenario with 7.5 million deaths, a general ban on contact (as well as curfews and the extensive shutdown of public life) is not considered. Apart from quarantining contacts of infected persons and isolating infected persons, the only anti-epidemic measures mentioned are school closures, the cancellation of major events and hygiene recommendations (BT-Drs. 17/12051, p. 61f)....

"The district judge meticulously examined studies that show how ineffective the no-contact order is. He weighed the restrictions on freedom against the fact that protection has been neglected in old people’s homes, while the less vulnerable population is no longer allowed on the streets. At the same time, the judge dealt in detail with the collateral damage of the lockdown decisions, which is now becoming increasingly apparent.... 

Based on what has been said, there can be no doubt that the number of deaths attributable to the lockdown policy measures alone exceeds the number of deaths prevented by the lockdown many times over. For this reason alone, the standards to be assessed here do not satisfy the proportionality requirement. Added to this are the direct and indirect restrictions on freedom, the gigantic financial damage, the immense damage to health and the non-material damage. The word “disproportionate” is too colourless to even hint at the dimensions of what is happening. The lockdown policy pursued by the state government in the spring (and now again), of which the general ban on contact was (and is) an essential component, is a catastrophically wrong political decision with dramatic consequences for almost all areas of people’s lives, for society, for the state and for the countries of the Global South.

"However, this ruling is by no means the end of the story.... Thüringen’s equivalent of the DPP has already appealed the matter to the LandesGericht. Their judgment will definitely be available online, and I will report on that when it comes through."

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Indiana Libertarians build on 2020 breakthrough

Indiana Libertarians Working To Capitalize On Rainwater Momentum | Indiana Public Media - Mitch Legan:

January 22, 2021 - "Evan McMahon has been working toward this moment for a decade. He sits at a table in the Antelope Club in Indianapolis, donning a mask with his laptop and a stack of election data in front of him. 'This was a watershed moment for the Libertarian Party of Indiana,' he says.

"McMahon is the development director for the state's Libertarian Party. He got involved with the party back in 2010 and eventually started managing campaigns for candidates, including Rupert Boneham’s 2012 run for Indiana governor.... In 2020 he helped oversee the best statewide finish for a Libertarian in Hoosier history when Navy veteran Donald Rainwater received 11 percent of the vote in the November gubernatorial election. He came in second in 32 of the state’s 92 counties. Nationally, Rainwater’s campaign for governor was the second-best ever by a Libertarian....

"As the nation’s largest third party, Libertarians advocate for strict limitations on government power. Candidates generally poll in the low single-digits in national or statewide races. But the coronavirus pandemic provided an opportunity after many Hoosiers reacted negatively to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s emergency mandates.... Rainwater’s message of personal responsibility and individual liberties resonated in the solidly conservative state, and the party’s platform of limited government caught on with Hoosiers who thought the governor was overstepping his authority with his coronavirus emergency measures....

"That’s McMahon’s focus now – capitalizing on that groundswell of support and ensuring a vote for a Libertarian in 2020 wasn’t just an opportunity to chide the state government.

"'My first reaction was, "This is a response to the mask mandates and the closing of businesses,"' McMahon said. 'But the anger that they feel towards the establishment, who have continued to violate the things that they said they believed in, isn't going to go away just because they get the chance to appoint a new candidate in a couple years.'

"So he’s spending 14 hours a day making calls, pouring through election data and organizing party affiliates in counties that were previously lacking. And it seems to be paying off – there was so much interest in organizing that the party virtually held its first-ever 'affiliation day' back in December....

"Twenty-five of the state’s 92 counties have active Libertarian parties, and with McMahon’s work, things are trending toward affiliates in half of counties come February. In his perfect world, there will be active parties in every county by the end of the year. 'I think as long as we do that, as long as we maintain that engagement, we’ll be poised to make dramatic history in Indiana over the next four years,' McMahon said.

"That starts with the 2022 Secretary of State election. Party leadership feels a strong showing in ’22 could put Libertarians on county election boards across the state, which would go a long way in the effort to get a candidate in the legislature or a statewide office."

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Lockdown recession could kill 890,000 in U.S.

Unemployment During the Pandemic Expected to Cause 900,000 US Deaths, New Economic Study Finds | Foundation for Economic Education - John Miltimore: 

January 19, 2021 - "The toll of the coronavirus has been severe. But a new study has found that the collective response to the virus may ultimately claim more lives than the virus itself. In a new National Bureau [of] Economic Research paper, researchers from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University concluded that a staggering 890,000 additional deaths may result over the next 15 years stemming from actions taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“'Our results suggest that the toll of lives claimed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus far exceeds those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness and that the recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades,' the researchers said. Specifically, the researchers cite unemployment spikes from lockdowns and other government restrictions that were two to five times larger than typical unemployment shocks. The findings are, to say the least, disheartening.

"Yet, the findings should not be surprising. Rising unemployment has long been correlated with higher death rates. A 1979 study concluded that for every 10 percent increase in unemployment, mortality increased by 1.2 percent. For this reason, social scientists have long argued that employment and economic growth are essential components of a healthy society.

"'Economic growth is the single most important factor relating to length of life,' said Yale School of Medicine professor M. Harvey Brenner in 2002, following completion of a pivotal study exploring the relationship between unemployment and mortality. 'Employment is the essential element of social status and it establishes a person as a contributing member of society and also has very important implications for self-esteem.'

"The Yale study’s findings are not unique. A 2014 article in Harvard Public Health magazine points to an abundance of research that reaches a similar conclusion: employment disruptions come with severe costs to mental and physical health. The body of research includes a 2011 meta-analysis — published in Social Science & Medicine — that concluded the mortality risk was 63 percent higher for individuals who experienced unemployment than those who did not....

"There are a multitude of reasons mortality risk increases during periods of unemployment, but the primary reason appears to be that unemployment literally makes people sick. A 2009 study by sociologist Kate W. Strully in the journal Demography concluded that losing employment from a business closure increased by more than 80 percent the risk of new health conditions.... These conditions included stress-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and arthritis, as well as various emotional and psychiatric conditions.

"There seems to be little debate that employment is not just a matter of cashing checks, but also of health and wellness. This is why last April I warned the historic surge in unemployment could have a profound impact on human health and lives. At the time, fear of the virus had gripped so many that the long-term consequences of lockdowns were rarely discussed, let alone acknowledged. This is a mistake, authors of the NBER paper say....

"This conversation is particularly important in the wake of new findings that show the steep costs of lockdowns may have had no clear benefits. A recently published study in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation evaluating global COVID-19 responses found that mandatory lockdowns failed to provide significantly more benefits than voluntary measures.... Numerous other studies reached similar conclusions. NBER researchers, however, accepted the premise that lockdowns work — albeit with deadly tradeoffs."

Read more:

Read study: Francesco Bianchi, Giada Bianchi, Dongho Song, "The Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Unemployment Shock on Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates." NBER Working Paper 28304.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Ontario's lockdown policy misguided, says province's former Chief Medical Officer

Ontario lockdown 'not supported by strong science,' says former chief medical officer of health | National Post - Jordan Fleguel:

January 20, 2021 - "A former chief medical officer of health in Ontario sent an open letter to Doug Ford on Monday, criticizing the province’s lockdown strategy and backing up ousted MPP Roman Baber. Dr. Richard Schabas held the senior position from 1987 to 1997 and served as chief of staff at York Central Hospital during the 2003 SARS crisis. 

"'Lockdown was never part of our planned pandemic response nor is it supported by strong science,' Schabas wrote. 

"Schabas says that the COVID-19 modelling the province is working with is faulty and that fatality rates have declined as doctors and scientists have learned more about the disease. 'Reasonable estimates of the infection fatality rate from Covid have been declining as we learn more,' he said. 'Models that predicted hundreds of thousands of deaths from Covid in Canada were badly wrong because they used incorrect, exaggerated inputs.'

"Schabas also voiced his support for the anti-lockdown letter that Baber sent to Ford last week — a letter that resulted in his expulsion from the PC caucus on Friday. 'MPP Roman Baber sent you a public letter calling on your government to change course on Covid,” said Schabas. “[He] made five key points and I believe he was correct on all five.' Baber’s letter called Ontario’s lockdown 'deadlier than Covid,' while claiming it’s caused '…an avalanche of suicides, bankruptcies, divorces, and takes an immense toll on our children.'

"Schabas’ letter goes on to say that the cost of lockdowns outweighs the benefits compared to more moderate public health measures.  '…there are significant costs to lockdowns – lost education, unemployment, social isolation, deteriorating mental health and compromised access to health care,” Schabas wrote. 'We will be paying for lockdown – in lives and dollars for decades to come.'"

Read the letter here:

Friday, January 22, 2021

Court dismisses CA county's anti-lockdown suit

San Bernardino County sues Gov. Newsom to stop coronavirus lockdown | San Bernardino Sun - Ryan Hagen: 

December 15, 2020 - "San Bernardino County is going to the California Supreme Court in an attempt to stop the stay-at-home order that went into effect in Southern California on Sunday, Dec. 6. In a lawsuit filed directly to the state’s top court late Monday night, Dec. 14, the county argues that Gov. Gavin Newsom had no authority to ban all gatherings except protests and religious services, close many businesses designated as nonessential, end in-person dining at restaurants and cap restaurant’s occupancy at 20%. It asks for a decision by Monday, Dec. 28, when the three-week stay-at-home order is set to either expire or be renewed.

"Newsom’s press office did not respond to an email seeking a response to the lawsuit or the legal authority for the orders.

"Not only does the county think those closures lacked legal authority, it thinks they hurt businesses while only worsening the spread of the novel coronavirus, said Curt Hagman, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.

"'We feel that we in local government have a better feel for what would work in our communities,' Hagman said in an interview Tuesday. 'When you say people can’t go to restaurants, stores, churches, you’re basically forcing people indoors.' And indoors is where the virus spreads worst, especially if people aren’t wearing masks — which authorities can’t realistically force people to do inside their home, Hagman said.

"In announcing the stay-at-home order — which went into effect when a region has less than 15% of its intensive care unit capacity remaining and last at least three weeks — Newsom said it was necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The virus has spread rapidly since."

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California Supreme Court denies San Bernardino County’s lawsuit to overturn stay-at-home order | East Bay Times - Steve Scauzillo:

January 14, 2021 - "The California Supreme Court ruled against San Bernardino County on Wednesday, Jan. 13, denying its petition to overturn the state’s current stay-at-home order, court records show.... San Bernardino County filed a lawsuit Dec. 14 arguing the order — intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus by banning all gatherings except protests and religious services, closing many types of businesses and halting outdoor dining at restaurants — is illegal and an abuse of power.

"Reasons for not granting the county’s petition were not given. 'I am surprised we didn’t get some kind of legal opinion. I expected the Supreme Court would’ve put some thought behind the denial,' said county Supervisor Curt Hagman on Wednesday....

"In December and earlier this month, the county had received supportive court filings from Yucaipa and Chino Hills. The cities agreed with the county that business closures were hurting the livelihood of proprietors, causing joblessness and were not effective in slowing the spread of the virus. The court’s ruling came down a day after Rancho Cucamonga became the third city to join the lawsuit by filing an amicus curiae, or 'friend of the court,' brief on Tuesday, Jan. 12."

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Death toll from UK's Lockdown1 could hit 185,000

Lockdown 'killed two people for every three who died of coronavirus' at peak of outbreak | The Telegraph - Sarah Knapton:

August 7, 2020  - "The UK lockdown killed two people for every three whose deaths had been caused by coronavirus by the beginning of May, new Government figures suggest. The estimates show that 16,000 people had died through missed medical care by May 1, while coronavirus killed 25,000 in the same period. 

"The figures include 6,000 people who did not attend A&E at the height of lockdown because of fears they might catch the virus and the feeling they should remain at home because of the 'Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives' message. Likewise, 10,000 people are thought to have died in care homes due to early discharge from hospital and not being able to access critical care. 

"The report also found that 2,500 lives may have been saved during lockdown because of healthier lifestyles, fewer infectious diseases in children, falls in air pollution and a decrease in road deaths.

"The new figures – presented to the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in the middle of July – were calculated by the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Government Actuary's Department and the Home Office.

"The paper also estimates that a further 26,000 people could die by next month because of the healthcare restrictions. In total, researchers predict that 81,500 people could lose their lives in the next 50 years through waiting longer for non-urgent elective care and the impact of the recession caused by the virus crisis. In the next five years, 1,400 people are also expected to die because they were diagnosed with cancer too late. 

"Although the medium to long-term deaths from delayed healthcare have not been quantified, an earlier report by the same team suggested they could be as high as 185,000....

"Charities and medical organisations have consistently warned of the long term dangers of focusing so much of the NHS on coronavirus. Professor Neil Mortensen, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, warned that the health service 'must never again be a coronavirus-only service'.".

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