Thursday, September 30, 2021

Vietnam lockdowns leading to global shortages

A Covid Lockdown In This Country Brings Global Clothing Giants To A Halt | NDTV - Agence France-Presse:

September 29, 2021 - "From shoes and sweaters to car parts and coffee, Vietnam's strict and lengthy coronavirus lockdown has sparked product shortages among worldwide brands such as Nike and Gap which have grown increasingly dependent on the Southeast Asian nation's manufacturers. The snarl-ups at Vietnam's factories are part of a broader crisis around the planet that is sending inflation surging and raising concerns about the pace of recovery in the global economy....

"At a fabric mill east of Hanoi, Claudia Anselmi – the Italian director of Hung Yen Knitting & Dyeing, a key cog in the supply chain of several European and US clothing giants – worries daily if the factory can keep the lights on. Its output plunged by 50 percent when Vietnam's latest devastating virus wave first struck in spring, and it faces perpetual problems securing the yarn it needs for its synthetic material.

"While lockdowns are gradually loosening across the country as infections steadily decline, millions of Vietnamese have been under stay-at-home orders for months. And a complex web of checkpoints and confusing travel permit regulations have made life impossible for truck drivers and businesses trying to move goods across, as well and in and out of, the country.... 

"The delays and restrictions are a major headache for foreign businesses, many of which have pivoted to Southeast Asia from China in recent years – a trend accelerated by the bruising trade war between Washington and Beijing. In the south – the epicentre of Vietnam's fight against Covid-19 – up to 90 percent of supply chains in the garment sector were broken, the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) said in August, according to state media.

"Nike – which warned last week it was struggling with shortages of its athletic gear and cut its sales forecasts – pointed the finger at Vietnam, among others, saying 80 percent of its factories in the south and nearly half of its apparel plants in the country had shut their doors. The sports colossus sources around half of its footwear from the communist country.... Japan's Fast retailing, which owns the popular Uniqlo brand, also blamed the situation in Vietnam for hold-ups on sweaters, sweatpants, hoodies and dresses, while Adidas said supply chain issues – including in the country – could cost it as much as 500 million euros ($585 million) in sales by the end of the year.

"Even with the prospect of lockdowns easing, many are fretting over the long-term impact on Vietnamese manufacturing, with Nike and Adidas admitting they were looking to temporarily produce elsewhere. In a letter to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, leading business associations representing the United States, the European Union, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations sounded the alarm over production shifting away from Vietnam, warning 20 percent of its manufacturing members had already left....

"The pandemic has not only hit the country's textile industry but is also threatening global coffee supplies, with Vietnam the world's largest producer of robusta beans – the variety used in instant coffee. Prices for the commodity are now sitting at a four-year high. Car companies have not escaped either – Toyota slashed production for September and October owing partly to virus issues, telling AFP 'the impact has been big in Vietnam', as well as Malaysia. 

"Shortages have been made worse by a rise in demand in the West after a virus-induced slump."

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Scotland's gov't fumbles vaccine pass rollout

Nicola Sturgeon is losing her grip as half-baked vaccine passport scheme unravels | The Telegraph - Alan Cochrane:

28 September 28, 2021 - "Question: When is an almost total cave-in a 'pragmatic compromise'? Answer: When it is Nicola Sturgeon displaying her facility for 'newspeak' and on the run over one of her half-baked policies.

"One of the First Minister’s more controversial decisions lately has been to bring in vaccine passports for nightclubs and certain sporting events, without really knowing how to do it properly and, at first, not even being able to define what a nightclub is. She has muddled on for the last couple of weeks in the face of furious opposition from the hospitality industry. But while – and perhaps because – Boris Johnson decided not to proceed with the passport scheme in England, she plans to introduce it in Scotland in the early hours of Friday morning.

"On Tuesday, the Scottish Tories planned another attempt at Holyrood to defeat her by getting a few of the more sensible SNP backbenchers to see the stupidity of their leader’s stubbornness and vote down the passport proposal.... But in the end such a rebellion, however unlikely, wasn’t needed as La Sturgeon threw in the towel all by herself. Yes, the vaccine passport system will still be mandatory in nightclubs from the wee sma’ hours of Friday morning, but in an incredible last minute U-turn she decreed that there will be no enforcement of breaches of the regulations until October 18 - more than two weeks hence.

"So, how will that affect nightclub owners? Will they demand vaccine passports from their patrons from Friday or will they simply shrug and say anything goes until October 18? And will that date still be operable; after all, with Covid cases and hospital numbers falling all the time, La Sturgeon may decide to dump the whole thing while at the same time claiming total victory for her policy. Needless to say, that verdict from her is a given.

"With a degree of bravura that we’ve come to expect from this lady, the First Minister insisted that the delay in enforcement would allow nightclubs to 'test, adapt and build confidence in the practical arrangements they will need to put in place to be compliant with the scheme'.

"Really? I’m bound to conclude that it is extremely difficult to argue with Tory leader Douglas Ross, who described the First Minister’s move as a typical example of her 'last minute chaotic planning', or with Alex Cole Hamilton, the Lib Dem leader, who said the new delay proved that both the Scottish Government and the nightclubs were 'nowhere near ready' to implement the new system.

"Another problem with the First Minister’s general arrangements appears to concern the provision of a Scottish Government app, which is set to contain all the vaccine details required for the passport, but which is only due to be available later this week. This is months after the equivalent app became available for England and Wales, which La Sturgeon refused to be part of, insisting that she wanted a separate provision for Scotland.

"It is to be hoped that it fares better than the current system, whereby Scots are supposed to be able to get paper or digital copies of their vaccine record from NHS Inform. However, as Labour leader Anas Sarwar pointed out, the system failed to show that he’d had both jabs. This omission caused him to be temporarily denied entry to the Labour Party conference in Brighton this week."

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Japan ends Covid state of emergency

Japan To Lift All Coronavirus Emergency Steps Nationwide | NPR - Associate Press:

September 28, 2021 - "Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to reporters about lifting of a state of emergency at his official residence in Tokyo Monday, Sept. 27. Suga announced Tuesday a lifting of the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency and less-stringent measures in all 27 prefectures including Tokyo when they expire at the end of September.

"With the lifting, Japan will be entirely free of emergency requirements for the first time in more than six months. Government officials are preparing for the relaxed restrictions by instituting other plans such as vaccine passports and virus tests.

"Japan's current state of emergency, declared in April, was repeatedly extended and expanded. Despite public weariness and frustration over the measures, Japan has managed to avoid the more restrictive lockdowns imposed elsewhere while recording about 1.69 million cases and 17,500 deaths from COVID-19.

"The emergency and other measures in all 27 prefectures expire at the end of September. Some experts want the state of emergency in 19 areas to be eased to a quasi-emergency first to ensure infections don't quickly rebound, and the government is reportedly considering the strategy.

"The emergency has mainly been in the form of requests for restaurants and bars to open for shorter hours and not serve alcohol. Governors in Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto have said they plan to keep those requests in place while closely monitoring the virus situations.... Eateries and other commercial establishments currently required to close early should return to normal hours gradually while the authorities reinforce health care systems to prepare for the next outbreak, officials said.

"Japan's ongoing and fifth state of emergency declared in April was ... the longest since the pandemic began last year. Despite public weariness and frustration over the measures, Japan has managed to avoid the more restrictive lockdowns imposed elsewhere while recording about 1.69 million cases of infection and 17,500 deaths from COVID-19."

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Monday, September 27, 2021

Norway ends Covid restrictions

Rowdy celebrations erupt in Norway as COVID-19 restrictions end | CTV News - Associated Press:

September 26, 2021 - "The Norwegian government abruptly announced Friday that most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions would be scrapped beginning Saturday and that life in the nation of 5.3 million would return to normal. The unexpected announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg to drop coronavirus restrictions the next day took many Norwegians by surprise and led to chaotic scenes in the capital, Oslo, and elsewhere in the country.

"'It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,' Solberg said on Friday at a news conference. 'Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.'

"Rowdy celebrations by hundreds of citizens across Norway started Saturday afternoon and lasted until the early hours of Sunday. Police said unrest was reported in several places, including in the southern city of Bergen and the central city of Trondheim, but the situation was the worst in Oslo. Long lines were seen outside Oslo's nightclubs, bars and restaurants late Saturday and police registered at least 50 fights and disturbances during the night. Neither vaccination status certificates nor negative test results are required to enter such venues in Norway....

"Solberg responded to criticism of the sudden move to reopen society by saying that Norwegian health experts had supported the measure. 'We shall not have strict (coronavirus) measures unless they are professionally justified. People must be allowed to live as they wish,' Solberg told VG late Saturday.

"Norway is the second country in [the] Nordic region to lift COVID-19 restrictions after Denmark did so on Sept. 10. More than 76% of Norway's population have received one vaccine dose, and nearly 70% have had both shots, according to official figures."

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I'm worried about Norway's reopening - I hope I'm wrong

by George J. Dance

I am glad to see another country end its Covid restrictions. As a libertarian, I am philosophically biased against limiting freedom; and as a Torontonian, I have had more than enough of life under lockdown. In the spring I was urging countries to do this. Still, I have a nagging worry about Norway doing it now at the beginning of fall, just in time for virus season. 

Norway has the lowest per capita deaths in continental Europe, just 850 in total or 155 per million people. As such, it gives the lockdown lobby a great comparison with the non-lockdown European country with the highest deaths (Sweden, with almost 10 times as many per capita deaths as Norway). Norway's lockdown was very light – the government never issued stay at home orders; they closed gyms and hair salons, but not restaurants or other 'non-essential' businesses – and lasted for only three weeks; for the most part, since then, its "lockdown stringency" has been less than in Sweden. Still, that three-week lockdown was enough for the lobby to claim that lockdowns are what kept Norway's death toll low, without actually testing that or any competing hypothesis. 

An obvious alternative hypothesis is that Norway just has not really been hit by the virus so far. The country is isolated on the northern edge of Europe, cut off much like an island with its one passable land border (to Sweden) closed for much of the pandemic. The government took advantage of the country's geography, by restricting air travel and quarantining newcomers, to keep earlier waves low enough to eliminate through contact tracing and quarantine. That is a strategy that has worked around the world, from Iceland to Taiwan, to keep deaths down in a country without resorting to lockdown. By itself it does nothing to solve a nation's Covid problem; however, it does provide a window in which something else (like vaccination) could do so. 

It takes a while for a virus to move through a continent, and it has taken Sars-Cov-2 time to move through Europe. It hit western Europe in March, burned through central Europe in the fall, and hit the Balkans and Baltic States only at wintere's end. I expect that this fall and winter it will hit the few remaining European states that have so far avoided it, including Nordic Europe. Vaccination rates in the Nordic countries are as high as in Canada, and I hope that is enough to keep deaths down dramatically. Even with that, though, I expect Norway to suffer most of its Covid deaths this coming virus season. All of which will be blamed on the loosening of restrictions, and used to argue erroneously that those restrictions do in fact save lives.   

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Homeschooling percentage has doubled in U.S.

California Parents Contributing to the Homeschool Boom | California Globe - Katy Grimes:

September 21, 2021 - "California is experiencing a homeschool boom, and it’s not just a result of school lockdowns during the COVID pandemic. The pandemic may have been the first time parents really and thoroughly saw what their kids were being taught in California public schools. And many were shocked.

"Lance Izumi, senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute recently finished writing his latest book, The Homeschool Boom, which looks at the increase in homeschooling across the United States, and in California. Izumi says at the start of the pandemic, in spring 2020, just over 5 percent of American households reported homeschooling school-aged children, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By the fall of 2020 – only 6 months later – that percentage had more than doubled to 11 percent. 

"Izumi notes that the Census Bureau used clarifying information on the survey to ensure that households were reporting true homeschooling and not distance or remote learning through a public or private school. The percentage of homeschooling households in Florida went from 5 percent to 18 percent, while New York went from 1 percent to 10 percent...

Graph courtesy California Globe

"'Between the 2020 and 2021 school years, tens of thousands of students have left the regular public schools,' Izumi said. 'The latest total shows that 160,000 students have left the public schools here in California. Where have these students gone? Many are now being homeschooled. In Los Angeles, the number of parents filing private school affidavits, which parents must file with the state in order to homeschool their children independently, more than doubled.”

"Izumi says the increase in the numbers of minority parents who have decided to homeschool their children is noteworthy. 'Among African Americans nationwide, the percentage homeschooling families skyrocketed from 3 percent to an amazing 16 percent — a five-fold increase from spring 2020 to fall 2020. Among Hispanics, the proportion of families who are homeschooling their children doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent'....

"Izumi said he believes that the next big wave in education will be homeschooling. His prediction is bolstered by the Census Bureau, which concluded that families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet their health and safety needs, their childcare needs, and the learning and socio-emotional needs of their children. 'Further, the Bureau said that from pandemic pods to standalone virtual schools to homeschooling organizations, parents are increasingly open to options beyond the neighborhood school,' Izumi said. 'So the pandemic and the ineffectiveness of the regular public schools to teach students during the pandemic have led to a real revolution in how parents are viewing how best to ensure the learning of their children.'

"'Before the pandemic, federal survey data found the most cited reason given by parents for homeschooling their children is concern about the environment of schools,' Izumi explained. 'These concerns include safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure. The second most cited reason is dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at schools. The academic research on homeschooling shows that homeschooled students perform better, on average, than non-homeschooled children.'"

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Consequences of Covid immunity denial

Natural immunity to covid is powerful. Policymakers seem afraid to say so. | Washington Post - Marty Makary:

September 15, 2021 - "It’s okay to have an incorrect scientific hypothesis. But when new data proves it wrong, you have to adapt. Unfortunately, many elected leaders and public health officials have held on far too long to the hypothesis that natural immunity offers unreliable protection against covid-19 — a contention that is being rapidly debunked by science.

"More than 15 studies have demonstrated the power of immunity acquired by previously having the virus. A 700,000-person study from Israel two weeks ago found that those who had experienced prior infections were 27 times less likely to get a second symptomatic covid infection than those who were vaccinated. This affirmed a June Cleveland Clinic study of health-care workers (who are often exposed to the virus), in which none who had previously tested positive for the coronavirus got reinfected. The study authors concluded that “individuals who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to benefit from covid-19 vaccination.” And in May, a Washington University study found that even a mild covid infection resulted in long-lasting immunity.

"So, the emerging science suggests that natural immunity is as good as or better than vaccine-induced immunity. That’s why it’s so frustrating that the Biden administration has repeatedly argued that immunity conferred by vaccines is preferable to immunity caused by natural infection.... That rigid adherence to an outdated theory is also reflected in President Biden’s recent announcement that large companies must require their employees to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing, regardless of whether they previously had the virus.

"Downplaying the power of natural immunity has had deadly consequences. In January, February and March, we wasted scarce vaccine doses on millions of people who previously had covid. If we had asked Americans who were already protected by natural immunity to step aside in the vaccine line, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved. This is not just in hindsight is 20/20; many of us were vehemently arguing and writing at the time for such a rationing strategy. 

"One reason public health officials may be afraid to acknowledge the effectiveness of natural immunity is that they fear it will lead some to choose getting the infection over vaccination..... But we can encourage all Americans to get vaccinated while still being honest about the data. In my clinical experience, I have found patients to be extremely forgiving with evolving data if you are honest and transparent with them. Yet, when asked the common question, 'I’ve recovered from covid, is it absolutely essential that I get vaccinated?' many public health officials have put aside the data and responded with a synchronized 'yes,' even as studies have shown that reinfections are rare and often asymptomatic or mild when they do occur.

"The tide may finally be shifting, as pressure has grown on federal officials. Last week on CNN, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, hinted that the government may be rethinking its stance on natural immunity, saying, 'I think that is something that we need to sit down and discuss seriously.' Some large medical centers, like Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich., have already announced they will recognize natural immunity for their vaccine requirements. Some Republican governors have picked up on public frustration over how the scientific guidance is inconsistent with the data, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accusing the Biden administration of 'not following science' by crafting its vaccine mandate without taking into consideration 'infection-conferred immunity.'

"The current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention position about vaccinating children also dismisses the benefits of natural immunity. The Los Angeles County School District recently mandated vaccines for students ages 12 and up who want to learn in person. But young people are less likely to suffer severe or long-lasting symptoms from covid-19 than adults, and have experienced rare heart complications from the vaccines. In Israel, heart inflammation has been observed in between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 6,000 males age 16 to 24; the CDC has confirmed 854 reports nationally in people age 30 and younger who got the vaccine....

"The incorrect hypothesis that natural immunity is unreliable has resulted in the loss of thousands of American lives [and in] avoidable vaccine complications, and damaged the credibility of public health officials. Given the recent mandate announcement by the White House, it would be good for our public health leaders to show humility by acknowledging that the hypothesis they repeatedly trumpeted was not only wrong, but it may be harmful.... Public health officials changing their position on natural immunity, after so much hostility toward the idea, would go a long way in rebuilding the public trust."

Read more:

Marty Makary is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, editor-in-chief of Medpage Today, and author of “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care — and How to Fix It.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Vaccine mandates worsen nursing shortages

Vaccine mandate complicates California's nursing shortage | Becker's Hospital Review - Kelly Gooch:

August 30th, 2021 - "Many California hospitals are experiencing staffing shortages as the pandemic takes a toll on healthcare workers, and the state's new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is adding another layer to the issue, CalMatters reported Aug. 28. 

"Workers are emotionally and physically exhausted amid the public health crisis, according to the news organization. This is causing more nurses in the U.S., including in California, South Carolina and Mississippi, to leave their profession, retire early or take other assignments.  While burnout is contributing to shortages of nurses and other workers at hospitals, hospital administrators in California say the state vaccine mandate is also a factor, according to CalMatters. 

"The California Department of Public Health issued an order Aug. 5 requiring workers in healthcare to be ... fully vaccinated or receive their second shot by Sept. 30. Workers can apply for  an exemption for religious beliefs or qualifying medical reasons. Exempt workers must meet testing and safety requirements."

Read more:

Nurses Are In Short Supply. Employers Worry Vaccine Mandate Could Make It Worse | NPR - Andrea Hsu:

September 23, 2021 - "As part of his push to get more Americans vaccinated, Biden has essentially told 17 million health care workers: Get vaccinated or get out. He has not offered them the testing option he's given workers in most other industries. Details about how the federal vaccine mandate will be enforced have yet to be released, but already protests have become regular events outside hospitals, and employers are warning they could see large numbers of workers quit just when they're needed the most....

"In June, after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by health care workers at Houston Methodist Hospital over its vaccine mandate, more than 150 workers quit or were fired. Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York said it would stop delivering babies this month after six people in the maternity department quit over New York's vaccine mandate. In Maine, where the governor announced a vaccine mandate for health care workers in mid-August, hospitals are so far reporting only a handful of resignations, but enforcement of the mandate is still more than a month away.

"'I can't afford to lose anyone,' says Ted LeNeave, CEO of Accura HealthCare, which operates 34 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Because of staffing shortages, they've had to limit admissions, turning down patients coming from hospitals.... 'I just don't see how I can lay off a thousand people," says LeNeave. I'd have no one to take care of the patients, and there's nowhere to send the patients.' He expects many will change professions to avoid getting the shots. Certified nursing assistants, who bathe, feed and groom nursing home residents, are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S. There are plenty of other options for those who want out."

Read more: 

B.C. nurses say dire staffing crisis will worsen with health care vaccine mandate | CityNews 1130 - Liza Yuzda, Denise Wong, Nikitha Martins & Lisa Steacy:

September 14, 2021 - "While the BC Nurses’ Union is sounding the alarm, saying the province can’t afford to lose a single nurse due to the vaccine mandate for health care workers, the health minister says the move is necessary to contain COVID-19. Responding to concerns that losing unvaccinated staff could cause a systemic crash, Adrian Dix says they are preparing for the worst, which would be thousands of workers choosing not to be vaccinated for their job.... Dix says regardless, this is what must be done....

"Nearly 50,000 long-term and acute care workers have until Oct. 12 to be fully vaccinated. About 150,000 other workers in provincial health care facilities have until Oct. 26 to do so. On the heels of the announcement, the BC Nurses’ Union said while vaccinations are key, they can’t support any action that could lead to any nurses leaving their jobs. 

"Union vice-president Aman Grewal says all members are encouraged to get the vaccine, but the mandate comes amid a dire staffing crisis. 'The union is not in a position to support an order which will serve to remove even a single nurse or other health care worker from the health care system at a time of severe crisis, it’s just not something that we can do,' she says."

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Melbourne lockdowns trigger violence and rioting

Melbourne descends into chaos as police arrest 62 and fire rubber pellets at anti-lockdown protesters | The Guardian - Ben Doherty & Caitlin Cassidy:

September 21, 2021 - "Police have fired pepper balls and stinger grenades at violent anti-Covid lockdown protesters on the streets of Melbourne as Australia’s second-largest city – under stay-at-home orders for the 233rd day in total – descended into chaos. Protesters dressed as construction workers clashed with police for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, assaulting officers, smashing police car windows, throwing bottles and stones, and damaging property.... Video footage on social media showed police cars trying to leave one area before a mob attacked the vehicles with bottles and smashed windows. A line of riot police, weapons raised, then drove the protesters back....

"A broader protest on Saturday also descended into violence with police overrun by protesters who, pushed out of the inner city, moved to suburban streets. More than 200 people were arrested in those protests and 10 police officers were injured, including three who were hospitalised with broken bones.... On Monday, riot police were called in to disperse a group of about 500 protesters, who threw bottles at the Victorian CFMEU construction secretary, John Setka, and smashed the office’s door down."

Read more:

In Australia, 233-day lockdown triggers violent protests, rioting mobs on rampage | Times of India - Priyanka A Chokhani, TNN:

September 22, 2020 - "Melbourne ranks among the most liveable cities in the world, with a thriving nightlife and a vibrant art scene. But on March 23, 2020, pubs closed their doors and galleries their entrances ... amid a rise in Covid-19 cases. Since then, Melbourne has had six lockdowns, over 233 days. The sudden loss of mobility has hit people hard. 

"Anti-lockdown protests — that erupted sporadically since 2020 — turned violent on Saturday.... Police are now mulling use of a specially equipped Public Order Response Team to crack down on such protests and to treat protestors as rioters.

"But why has public anger boiled over? The lockdown in Australia is among the world’s harshest....  Over 20,000 Australians are stuck overseas, waiting for the government to open borders. The government has declared it would ease restrictions only once the country touches 80% vaccination. But that seems a long way off. At 43%, the percentage of fully vaccinated people in the country is low compared with other developed nations....  

"Melbourne residents, used to queuing up only for sporting events, are now lining up for Covid tests.... Doctors’ appointments have to be booked days in advance — many are only taking online consultations — and non-emergency surgeries remain shelved.... One can step out only for groceries, exercise, medical help, [or with a permit for] work and vaccination. There is a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.... In the past year, residents have also grown accustomed to heavy police presence on the roads.... 

"Social isolation has taken a toll and mental health helplines have recorded a 30% increase in calls this year. According to professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, 'In 2020, there was panic at the start of the pandemic. This year, the panic has subsided, but [many] people are no longer able to cope with the changes they once thought would be temporary. They are increasingly resorting to drug and alcohol abuse.'"

Read more:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Business elites back Biden's vaccine mandates

The Business Roundtable Of Elite CEOs Backed Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: Their Reasons May Surprise You | Bloomberg - Jack Kelly:

September 12, 2021 - "The Business Roundtable, a group representing some of the largest U.S. corporations, gave its support last week to President Joe Biden’s plan to require private-sector companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or, alternatively, conduct weekly Covid-19 testing. The Business Roundtable’s members include the upper echelon of CEO elites, including luminaries such as Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Jane Fraser from Citigroup, Amazon’s newly installed CEO Andy Jassy and Apple’s Tim Cook.

"A statement from the group approvingly said, 'Business Roundtable welcomes the Biden Administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against [Covid-19]. America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off.' The CEOs added, 'Over the past several weeks, many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud'.... 

"Biden’s mandate took management out of the equation. They no longer have to weigh both sides of the vaccination debate, risking alienating a sizable portion of the employees. Managers won’t have to worry about being the bad mom or dad and could place the blame squarely on Biden and say that it's out of their control.

"We’ve seen a trend of major corporations cozying up to the federal government. Being on the same side of the President and current administration helps companies stay in their good graces. Therefore, its not too surprising to see the CEOs quickly backed Biden’s plans.

"Sectors that have been itching to get people back into an office setting, such as Wall Street banks, will be happy with the decision. One of the pushbacks from people against returning to the office was that they feel it is dangerous to be in an office setting. They’d also have to worry about daily interactions with people on the buses, trains and city streets, as they’re commuting to and from work.

"One of the biggest issues that we don't talk about is the possibility of a potential disaster for some big cities, such as New York, if workers don’t return to their offices. The major source of tax revenue in New York is derived from the large Wall Street and other industries that are based in the Big Apple. There’s a large ecosystem of restaurants, bars, nail salons, gyms, retail stores and shops that rely upon office workers to patronize their places of business. If workers don’t return en masse, they’re likely doomed. 

"There could be a cascading disaster. Real estate landlords will hemorrhage money. Small businesses could close up shop with significantly fewer people around. There would be an enormous free fall in tax revenue going into the city coffers. With less money, the city will have no choice other than to aggressively cut costs. This includes laying off police officers, firefighters, train and transit workers, teachers, sanitation garbage collectors and other public personnel. Museums and public-backed cultural events will lose funding. 

"The cuts and layoffs will make the city dirtier and more dangerous. There will be reports — like we saw during the pandemic — of an increase in crime and violence. When people read about the crime figures and watch graphic clips of violence on television and online, they’ll be afraid to go back into Manhattan. This could easily create a downward spiral. Employees would understandably say that they won’t return to the City for fear of their personal safety.

"The business leaders ... know that this could happen. This may be one of the reasons why Wall Street, which is a big player in New York, led the push for bankers, brokers and traders to return to the office, as they could foresee what may possibly happen if everyone remained working at home."

Read more:

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Bernier feels vindicated by election result (video)

People's Party makes vote gains but doesn't win a seat | CBC News - Richard Raycraft:

September 20, 2021 - "The results so far may not signal a seat breakthrough for the People's Party of Canada (PPC), but the party has more than tripled its support since the last election. In an email to supporters Monday morning, PPC Leader Maxime Bernier said he had a good feeling. And now that the results have come in — including his own defeat in the Quebec riding of Beauce — Bernier says he feels vindicated.

"'I'm feeling good, because if we look at the results, we are around four per cent — four, five, six per cent. That's big for us in Atlantic Canada,' Bernier told the CBC's Travis Dhanraj at the PPC's event in Saskatoon. He maintained his triumphant tone in a speech to supporters Monday night at the Saskatoon Inn. 'This is not just a political party. This is a movement. It is an ideological revolution that we are starting now," Bernier told supporters.

"The PPC had just over five per cent of the popular vote at last count. The party has notably done better in Ontario,  where it has so far garnered just under six per cent of the vote.... According to an analysis by CBC News Labs, vote splitting between the Tories and the PPC may have cost the Conservatives up to 24 ridings....

"The party, which describes itself as populist, classically liberal and libertarian, was founded by Bernier in 2018. It campaigned on lifting many COVID-19 public health restrictions, as well as expanding the oil and gas industry, balancing the budget, ending official multiculturalism, and reducing immigration levels, among other policies. Bernier, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, placed a close second in the 2017 Conservative leadership race to replace Stephen Harper. He was first elected in Beauce back in 2006, but lost the seat in 2019 and failed to regain it this election.

"But if Bernier is upset about the fact his party may not get a seat in Parliament, he didn't let it show on Monday night. 'Our goal is to increase our percentage of the vote,' he said. 'We are doing better than the Green Party ... and we created [the PPC] only two years ago..... In two years, our support has increased three times over'.... And while Bernier may be satisfied with increasing the party's vote total in this election, that won't be enough next time around, he told supporters. 'When the next election comes, we will be even better prepared. And this time, we will win seats in Parliament.'"

Read more:

Sunday, September 19, 2021

People's Party buoyed by anti-mandate sentiment

Canada election: 'Mad Max' and why his party is on the rise | BBC News - Bernd Debusmann Jr:

September 16, 2021 - "Canada is edging closer to its federal election on Monday, with Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party and Erin O'Toole's Conservative Party in a tight race for first place. But the once fringe People's Party of Canada has emerged as a potential spoiler, riding a wave of anti-lockdown and vaccine mandate sentiment. 

"Maxime Bernier ... a former Canadian foreign minister, is a populist with a libertarian bent who[m] supporters have nicknamed 'Mad Max'. He has previously described his upstart party, the People's Party of Canada (PPC), as a coalition of people 'disenchanted with traditional politicians'. The PPC has a wide-ranging platform that includes limiting immigration, an end to corporate welfare, a pro-firearms stance, and a rejection of what it terms 'climate change alarmism'. However, one issue above all has come to the forefront in the 2021 election: vaccine mandates and lockdowns.

"Mr Bernier, 58, has been a vocal opponent of ... what he calls 'authoritarian' restrictions, claiming in an August rally, for example, that vaccine passports 'will create two kinds of citizens, some with more rights than others'. Such statements are 'a huge part of the story behind the surge [for the PPC]', said Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, a political studies professor at Queens University. 'A lot of this has been generated by the party seizing on the sense that anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine passport sentiments exist in the population.'

"Polling data suggests that this message is gaining momentum among some Canadian voters even while the country has some of the world's highest vaccination rates - over 80%. Recent tracking poll numbers from CBC, for example, ranked the PPC in fourth place nationally at 6.5% - ahead of the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois, which only runs candidates in Quebec. (The Liberals and the Conservative are in a statistical tie at around 30%). In the 2019 election, by comparison, the PPC earned just 1.6% of the popular vote and Mr Bernier lost his own seat.

"A significant portion of the party's swelling support base comes from first time or irregular voters ... said Prof Goodyear-Grant. 'They are taking some support from all the other parties ... which suggests there are people across all parties that are opposed to some of the [pandemic] measures that have been put in place,' she said. Provinces like Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia have all in recent weeks brought in vaccine passport systems that limit access in certain settings as cases rise in a fourth pandemic wave.

"Steven Weldon, the director of the Centre for the Study of Public Opinion and Representation at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, said that several factors limit how much of a 'spoiler' the party can be in the upcoming election.... Mr Weldon added that the PPC has ' less of a voice' because of ... the fact that support is spread across the country. Polling models suggest it's unlikely its candidates will win any seats.

"Bernadette Bosse, a 43-year-old consulting firm manager in Calgary, Alberta, said she's among those who would vote for Mr Bernier's party if it were [an] option, but there is no PPC candidate in the running where she lives.... Ms Bosse thinks more people would vote PPC if they had candidates in all 338 federal ridings (constituencies). They're running candidates in 312.

"In the long-run, it remains to be seen whether the PPC will continue to gain support even in a post-pandemic Canada. 'We lose sight of that because we're in the middle of both the election and the pandemic,' Prof Goodyear-Grant said. 'When the issue of the pandemic is removed, I think you would expect some of the support to dissipate'."

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

No need to vaccinate Covid recovered, say Indian scientists

No need to vaccinate people once infected by Covid? Why experts suggest this | Hindustan Times - Poulomi Ghosh, ed.:

June 11, 2021 - "The Union health ministry's latest guideline said those who tested Covid positive should wait for three months after recovery to get vaccinated, as they have natural antibodies present. However, a group of public health experts, which includes doctors from AIIMS and the members of Covid-19 national task force, has suggested that there is no need to vaccinate people who had documented Covid-19 infection.... According to the Indian experts' report, there is not enough evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection. 'There is no need to vaccinate people who had documented Covid-19 infection. These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection,' the report said.

"As the objective of the vaccination drive should be to control the disease, those who have been already infected should not be the priority, as they are naturally protected, the report suggested. Is the suggestion of keeping once-infected people out of vaccination for now influenced by vaccine crunch? Yes, the report clarified that the present situation of the pandemic in the country demands that prioritisation instead of opening it to all. 'Moreover, we can conserve considerable resources if we exclude adults who have recovered from natural infection,' it said."

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Vaccines May Do More Harm Than Good To Those Recovered From Covid-19: Experts | Outlook - Jeevan Prakash Sharma:  

August 10, 2021 - "A section of infectious disease experts in India believes that vaccines have no benefits to ... individuals who have naturally recovered from Covid-19. Instead, it might cause some harm.... Deaths, blood clotting or other health complications have been reported due to [vaccination] from across the world and health experts say that it has nothing to do with any deficiency in the safety aspects of approved Covid-19 vaccines. 'Even a good vaccine can cause health complications due to adverse side effects as each human body responds to inoculation differently' ... an epidemiologist associated with the government said requesting not to be named. He added, 'This is true with all vaccines and vaccination programmes ever introduced in human history'....

"Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor, Community Medicine in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, says that all available evidence demonstrates that the natural infection provides better and longer protection that may even be lifelong. 'There is no need to vaccinate individuals who had documented COVID-19 infection in the past'... Dr Rai said. He added, 'Based on the available shreds of evidence, we can say that there is no additional benefit of vaccination in COVID recovered individuals.  Actually, it may cause harm due to few known and unknown severe adverse events following immunization.' Dr Rai also believes that vaccines are precious resources that should be used to save other vulnerable persons' lives rather than wasting them on well-protected individuals.

"Noted epidemiologist Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, who is a core member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), agrees that vaccinating a confirmed Covid-19 recovered person doesn’t have any additional benefit 'but there is some small chance of adverse reaction'.... 'A reliable test of antibody can ... establish if a person is a confirmed Covid-19 recovered case,' Dr Muliyil said. He added, 'At present, the available evidence suggests that natural infection is superior to vaccination. So in retrospect, it is a good and convenient way to say who needs vaccination and who doesn’t.'

"As the current vaccination drive in India doesn’t have any provision to exclude naturally-recovered persons, a lot of such people say that they have to get vaccinated even if they didn’t want because they were under pressure from their employers. Some of them have to go abroad and many countries have made vaccination a pre-requisite condition for issuing a visa as they still believe that vaccinated individuals don’t spread infection. This is contrary to the growing evidence that a vaccinated person can be a spreader of infection....

“'There is a wrong notion among many doctors that natural immunity is transient. It is because, during the initial days of Covid-19, the World Health Organisation had made this baseless statement which many doctors still believe to be true,' a senior government doctor said."

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Read report here:

Friday, September 17, 2021

Laos legalizes Bitcoin mining and trading

Asian Nation Laos to Legalize Bitcoin Mining And Trading | Bitcoin Magazine - Alex McShane: 

September 16, 2021 - "The Southeast Asian nation of Laos changed its official policy on September 9, authorizing six companies to trade and mine Bitcoin in a trial run while the government begins to draft regulations about its use. According to The Laotian Times, the news follows a September 9 notice from the office of the prime minister permitting the firms, which include construction groups and one bank, to start mining and trading Bitcoin.

"The traditionally conservative government’s authorization of Bitcoin mining and trading marks a shift in stance, as last month the country’s central banks warned companies and individuals against cryptocurrencies, according to the local news source.

"The population of Laos is seven million. With a hydropower potential of 26.5 Gigawatts, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of the most hydropower resource rich countries in Southeast Asia, which is ideal for profitable and sustainable Bitcoin mining. The companies that have been authorized to trade and mine Bitcoin include Wap Data Technology Laos, Phongsubthavy Road & Bridge Construction Co., Sisaket Construction Company Limited, Boupha Road-Bridge Design Survey Co., Ltd., Joint Development Bank, and Phousy Group.

"A host of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Technology and Communications, are now tasked with researching and determining rules and regulations governing the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Laos, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Ministry of Public Security, the Bank of Laos and the Électricité du Laos. The proposed regulations will be discussed at a meeting hosted by the Prime Minister on September 16 and 17, and notably follow the ongoing exodus of mining firms from China, the former market leader in the sector."

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Anti-lockdown MP struggles to start new party

Independent MP Derek Sloan hopes his new political party ‘excites’ Canadians about politics | Global News - Ladna Mohamed:
July 28, 2021 - "Independent MP for Hastings Lennox and Addington, Derek Sloan, has confirmed to Global News that he is in the process of trying to launch his own political party. The MP says it will be called the 'True North' party, pending Elections Canada [a]pproval. 'I think Canadians are disenfranchised with the current political landscape, and I’m hoping to excite Canadians about politics and about Canada and to really get people happy again about Canada and hopeful,' said Sloan.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said that they are working to ensure all requirements under the Canada Elections Act are met, in order for Sloan’s party to become official. In the meantime, Sloan has been spending time outside of his riding during the pandemic, making a number of trips to Western Canada. Sloan explained that his travels are necessary in order to promote his 'movement' on a national scale."
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Wife of sitting MP Derek Sloan, runs as independent for Hastings—Lennox and Addington | Global News - Alexandra Mazur:
August 26, 2021 - "Jennifer Sloan has put her hat in the ring in the Hastings—Lennox and Addington riding, hoping to replace her husband Derek Sloan as the sitting independent MP. This comes just a week after Derek announced that he would no longer be running in his home riding, but rather aiming for a spot as an independent in the Banff—Airdrie riding in Alberta....

"Her husband Derek has had an embattled career as an MP since he defeated former Liberal MP Mike Bossio for the riding in 2019, including a failed bid for the Conservative Party leadership and being kicked out of the party over a small campaign donation by a known white supremacist, which he maintains he was unaware of. The Conservative leader said Derek was ousted due to a 'pattern of destructive behaviour.'"
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Why Derek Sloan started a party | Western Standard - Lee Harding: 
August 19, 2021 - "Like a voter who didn’t like his options and decided to run for office, Independent MP Derek Sloan looked at all the parties and thought it best to start his own.... Like Preston Manning did for Reform in 1987, Sloan has been drumming up support for a new political movement. The fourth-place finisher in the Conservative Party leadership race was booted from the party on January 20 for what leader Erin O’Toole called a 'pattern of destructive behaviour'.... 'I’m basically glad that it happened to me looking back on it, I was able to achieve a lot more as an independent than as a member of the party'....

"Although Sloan is gaining a following, some other right-leaning voters are nervous about the launch of yet another right-leaning party to bleed away Conservative votes. Sloan said he won’t give anything to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that O’Toole didn’t already hand him. 'No one seems to think O’Toole’s going to win. He’s not going to win anyways, there is no vote to split. But I would say that a lot of places that we’re going to be running candidates are going to be in strong conservative areas, so, whoever wins is going to be a conservative. It will either be a Conservative or someone who’s more conservative, so you won’t have to worry about that.'

"When asked why he didn’t join the other alternatives, such as the People’s Party, Sloan offered three reasons. 'The first is the social conservative values part for the PPC is optional. It’s kind of like if you want them, that’s great, if not, that’s fine. And I think we need to have a party that actually stands for values. The second thing is that it’s kind of the party of Max, in the sense of, they’ve had three or so years to come up with a constitution and a leadership review and all of this, and they haven’t. There’s not a lot of democratic opportunity there,' Sloan said. 'The final thing is they seem to have an incremental plan of winning, but we need a plan to win basically now. So, every election that I go into will be to win. Like, I’m not going to run 338 candidates just to do it. I’m going to run in areas and focus on them in a way that I think I can win....

"'The Christian Heritage Party hasn’t been able to win. And part of it is I don’t know if they even expect to, and they kind of want to be more of a [Christian] witness than a force'.... Sloan believes the Maverick Party has unfortunate commonalities with the Bloc Quebecois.... 'And the other thing that bugs me about them is they didn’t say anything about COVID-19. So they say they’re standing up for the interests of the West. Well, where were they when 10,000 businesses in Alberta were shutting down because of COVID-19? They said nothing. So as far as I’m concerned, useless.'"
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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

All Covid restrictions dropped in Denmark

Denmark becomes only European country with no COVID curbs | Al Jazeera:

September 10, 2021 - "Denmark has become the only European country with no coronavirus-related restrictions in place, as vaccine rates have reached more than 70 percent of the population. The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass – proof of having been vaccinated – is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last COVID-19 safeguard to fall.... In June, Iceland had also lifted all its COVID-19 measures – only to reimpose them after cases spiked again.

"Denmark introduced COVID-19 passports in March 2021 as part of a gradual easing of rules. On August 1, it lifted the COVID pass requirement at museums and indoor events with fewer than 500 people, before ditching it for major events, while masks have not been required on public transport since mid-August. On Saturday, a sold-out concert in the capital, Copenhagen, will welcome 50,000 people, a first in Europe.

"Danish authorities insist the virus is under control, with about 500 daily cases and a reproduction rate of 0.7. Vaccines have been swiftly rolled out, with 73 percent of the 5.8 million population fully vaccinated, and 96 percent of those 65 and older.

"However, optimism was tempered on Friday as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director for Europe warned that vaccines were not likely to end the pandemic for good. Instead, jabs will help prevent serious disease and death, though the virus is likely to be around for years to come as it mutates, Hans Kluge told reporters in Copenhagen....

"Denmark made third doses available to vulnerable groups as of Thursday, and Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said vaccines played an important role in helping the country return to normal. But he struck a cautious note. 'Daily life is basically back to normal, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any danger down the road,' Heunicke said on Friday. 'The virus has mutated several times, so I can’t make any guarantees. But with this many people vaccinated, we are well set,' he told Danish television TV2."

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Covid mandate protests across Canada

‘Mindless mobs’: London, Ont. mayor condemns hospital protests during COVID-19 briefing | Global News - Matthew Trevithick, 980 CFPL:
September 13, 2021 - "London Mayor Ed Holder slammed those gathering outside of Canadian hospitals to protest COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates, describing them on Monday as 'mindless mobs' who are harassing health-care workers.... Holder made the comments as dozens of people began to descend on the northeast corner of Commissioners and Wellington roads, just outside of London Health Sciences Centre, to protest vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions implemented during the pandemic. Roughly 200 people were estimated to be in attendance, waving placards and soliciting honks of support from passing motorists. A similar protest was held outside of the hospital a week ago.

"Other demonstrations were scheduled to take place across the country, including outside McGill University Health Centre [Montreal], Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, and the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg. Dozens gathered outside Toronto General Hospital, many to condemn Ontario’s proof-of-vaccination system that is scheduled to take effect next week.

"The demonstrations were organized by a group calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses, who promoted them as 'silent vigils'.... Among its lead organizers is Kristen Nagle, who up until January had been employed as a registered nurse in LHSC’s neonatal intensive care unit. Nagle was among those present at Monday’s London demonstration, as was Henry Hildebrant, the pastor of Aylmer’s Church of God, who has become a prominent critic of pandemic restrictions.

“'Definitely by no means are we here to interfere with hospital access or impede any health or any kind of treatments going on,' Nagle told 980 CFPL. 'But It seems like by going in front of the hospitals is a place where … we are finally being noticed. Unfortunately, it is being spun very negatively against us, and what we’re standing for is absolutely being missed'.... In January, LHSC confirmed it had placed Nagle on unpaid leave after the organization learned of actions involving her 'that were not aligned with LHSC’s values'.... Following an internal investigation, LHSC announced on Jan. 18 that it had terminated Nagle with cause. No further information was released....

"Ontario Premier Doug Ford condemned the protests in a tweet Sunday, describing those taking part as 'selfish, cowardly and reckless'.... Both the federal New Democrats and Liberals made mirror pledges Monday to criminalize protesters who block hospitals or harass health-care workers.... Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called the demonstrations 'totally unacceptable.'"
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Two Protests Against Covid Measures Held In Kawartha Lakes This Weekend | Kawartha 411 - Pamela Vanmeer:
September 13, 2021 - "Two protests against various COVID-19 measures were held in Kawartha Lakes over the weekend. One in Lindsay on Sunday drew approximately 250 people over a few hours with 120 at one time. They held signs that read 'we believe in no lockdowns, no vax passports, nor forced vaccines', 'My kids, my choice'. A smaller crowd of about two dozen took to the streets in Fenelon Falls on Saturday."
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Small crowd protests COVID-19 vaccine mandates at The Ottawa Hospital |Global News - Craig Lord:
September 13, 2021 - "A small crowd gathered outside The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus Monday afternoon as part of a national day of protest at health-care institutions across the country. The demonstrations, put on by a group calling itself Canadian Frontline Nurses, were said to be 'silent vigils' in protest of restrictive COVID-19 measures and in favour of 'health freedom.' Roughly two dozen people gathered peacefully across the street from the Civic campus on Carling Avenue shortly after 2 p.m. A few passing cars honked at the demonstrators, who waved signs with messages such as 'my body, my choice' in protest of vaccination mandates."
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About 40 people protest COVID-19 measures behind Saskatoon hospital, are met by counter-demonstration | CBC News - Guy Quenneville:
September 13, 2021 - "A largely unmasked group of about 40 people gathered behind a Saskatoon hospital on Monday to protest measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The silent vigil, alongside other Monday protests across the country, was organized by a group called 'Canadian Frontline Nurses.' According to its website, the group is against 'tyrannical measures and government overreach.' In one video posted to the site, a woman identified as a nurse speaks against mandating children to be masked. The Saskatoon group met in a circle in Kinsmen Park behind City Hospital and stood mostly quiet except for some heated exchanges with a masked man questioning the group about its beliefs.... Kevin Boychuk, the People's Party of Canada candidate for Saskatoon-West, was one of the protesters. 'I think it's important to have the ability of choice, the freedom of choice,' Boychuk said. 'We're seeing an inability for people to exercise their freedom of choice when it comes to vaccines.'"
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Vaccine card opponents stage another protest outside Vancouver city hall | CTV News - Kendra Mangione:
September 13, 2021 - "Opponents of B.C.'s vaccine card system staged another protest outside Vancouver city hall on Monday, hours after the proof-of-vaccination requirement came into effect. Hundreds of people gathered outside the building in the early afternoon, some carrying signs reading 'No Medical Apartheid' and 'My Body, My Choice' to protest the provincial health officer order barring unvaccinated individuals from non-essential activities such as dining in at restaurants and going to the movies. They also took part in chants of "Freedom!"

"The protest was a fraction of the size of an initial demonstration against the vaccine card system that saw thousands crowd around Vancouver General Hospital earlier this month, but had a similar number of attendees to another held last Wednesday. Organizers of the so-called 'National Health Freedom Movement,' which is behind several simultaneous protests planned across the country on Monday, described the event as a silent vigil to honour those affected by measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Participants were encouraged to bring flowers, pictures, cards and letters, and to share stories of loss.... Monday's protest was supposed to take place outside of Vancouver General again, but the group made a last-minute decision to move in the face of public criticism."
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Monday, September 13, 2021

The case against vaccine passes

Opinion: Why vaccine passports won't slow COVID spread, will hurt the poor and threaten medical ethics | National Post -  Alanna Golden, Gil Nimni, Sandra Rao & Neil Rau:

September 09, 2021 - "COVID-19 ... Vaccine certificates have been rolled out across [Canada] with participation from Quebec, British Columbia, and now Ontario. The federal government has earmarked $1 billion for their implementation. Individuals will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination status in order to access 'non-essential' services. While it is an important societal goal to maximize vaccination coverage in adults, it is also important to consider whether the end justifies the means....

"Vaccine certificates impose a significant burden on the population. There will be ongoing costs to taxpayers to maintain this system, and businesses will bear costs for implementation and oversight, and may be subjected to fines. The additional uptake in vaccination rates in those who are either unvaccinated or without natural immunity from previous infection is unclear.... In a rush to implement this system, governments have been unclear about how they will measure efficacy, which implies there may not be a clear plan on when to scale back.... With the precedent for vaccine certificates established, there may be a desire to include other seasonal viruses, excluding increasingly larger segments of society from 'non-essential' services.

"Can we stop transmission with vaccine certificates? Probably not. The latest data suggest that vaccination reduces transmission by around 50 per cent at six months with evidence of further waning thereafter. Vaccines may help to slow spread of the virus, but they will not achieve the kind of herd immunity we see with such diseases as measles. Vaccine certificates may offer a false sense of reassurance to those who are vaccinated, if the belief is that they cannot contract or transmit the virus.... Vaccine certificates for 'non-essential' services will not touch industries hit hardest in previous waves, such as warehouses and factories. Implementation of targeted approaches in at-risk workplaces makes more sense, with the deployment of mobile vaccination units, regular point of care testing and protected pay for those with symptoms or high-risk exposures....

"Those who are fully vaccinated may be amongst those denied access if they do not have a printer or mobile device, or if they have forgotten their documentation at home. This will especially impact the poor, those who are homeless, those with developmental delays or those who suffer from cognitive impairment. Newcomers will be subject to another set of vaccines if those approved in their home country are not recognized here. Businesses will be asked to deny services, sometimes to long-standing, loyal customers, at the expense of lost income desperately needed after months of forced closures. In addition, we can expect the workloads of numerous providers (ie. doctors, religious leaders) to grow exponentially with the additional tasks of proving vaccination status or providing exemptions....

"What are the unintended consequences? Let’s take the example of fitness gyms, which have been deemed 'non-essential.' One of the most important risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness is obesity. Many people rely on gyms, especially during the winter months, to access physical activity and maintain their ideal body weight. Those who live in apartment dwellings may not have access to green spaces for exercise. Thus, by barring access to gyms, we are restricting physical activity, which in turn contributes to increasing rates of obesity and greater risk for severe disease.

"Ironically, by excluding the unvaccinated from common social institutions, we run the risk of congregation of unvaccinated individuals outside of these institutions. When this does occur, it is more likely to be without mitigation measures. COVID-19 is spread through social networks, meaning that this action could increase the number of infections circulating amongst unvaccinated people, increasing adverse outcomes.... The unvaccinated are disproportionately of lower socio-economic status, ethnic minorities and children. Many minority groups have legitimate reasons to distrust the medical establishment.... Some are unable to get vaccinated because they cannot afford time off work for vaccination and post-vaccine side effects. It is imperative that we understand the unintended potential health equity impacts of vaccine certificates on specific population groups....

"Perhaps the greatest oversight with vaccine certificates is the lack of recognition of natural immunity. Those who have been previously infected may not wish to receive vaccination. This conviction is supported by recent data that natural immunity is as good [as] or better than vaccine-induced immunity. If this is true, why are we excluding those with durable protection from society? Moreover, a lack of acknowledgement of protection by way of natural immunity may serve to reinforce the optics of pharmaceutical involvement in policy-making.

"Are vaccine certificates ethical? One of the most sacred principles in medical ethics is autonomy, meaning that an individual has the right to decide what happens to their body.... Even the most well-informed individual cannot provide informed consent if their 'choice' is coerced. Vaccine certificates render the individual in an impossible place of having to choose vaccination or loss of employment and exclusion from society. This impossible 'choice' forces the hand of those in this predicament and ultimately results in consent under duress.... Given that we have exceeded numerous vaccine targets and offered protection to those at greatest risk, we should make every effort at this time to maintain patient autonomy and guide with openness rather than exclusion."

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

How the Covid pandemic is changing science

How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science | Tablet - John P.A. Ioannidis: 

September 8, 2021 - "The crisis caused by the lethal COVID-19 pandemic and by the responses to the crisis have made billions of people worldwide acutely interested and overexcited about science. Decisions pronounced in the name of science have become arbitrators of life, death, and fundamental freedoms. Everything that mattered was affected by science.... One problem with this new mass engagement with science is that most people, including most people in the West, had never been seriously exposed to the fundamental norms of the scientific method. The Mertonian norms of communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism have unfortunately never been mainstream in education, media, or even in science museums and TV documentaries on scientific topics....

"Indeed, change did happen — but perhaps mostly for the worst.... Lack of communalism during the pandemic fueled scandals and conspiracy theories, which were then treated as fact in the name of science by much of the popular press and on social media. The retraction of a highly visible hydroxychloroquine paper from The Lancet was a startling example: A lack of sharing and openness allowed a top medical journal to publish an article in which 671 hospitals allegedly contributed data that did not exist, and no one noticed this outright fabrication before publication.... 

"The pandemic led seemingly overnight to a scary new form of scientific universalism. Everyone did COVID-19 science or commented on it. By August 2021, 330,000 scientific papers were published on COVID-19, involving roughly a million different authors. An analysis showed that scientists from every single one of the 174 disciplines that comprise what we know as science has published on COVID-19....  At first sight, this was an unprecedented mobilization of interdisciplinary talent. However, most of this work was of low quality, often wrong, and sometimes highly misleading. Many people without subject-matter technical expertise became experts overnight, emphatically saving the world.... Many amazing scientists have worked on COVID-19. I admire their work.... However, alongside thousands of solid scientists came freshly minted experts with questionable, irrelevant, or nonexistent credentials and questionable, irrelevant, or nonexistent data.

"Social and mainstream media have helped to manufacture this new breed of experts. Anyone who was not an epidemiologist or health policy specialist could suddenly be cited as an epidemiologist or health policy specialist by reporters who often knew little about those fields but knew immediately which opinions were true. Conversely, some of the best epidemiologists and health policy specialists in America were smeared as clueless and dangerous by people who believed themselves fit to summarily arbitrate differences of scientific opinion without understanding the methodology or data at issue.

"Disinterestedness suffered gravely.... During the pandemic, ... conflicted entities were raised to the status of heroes. For example, Big Pharma companies.... Other potentially conflicted entities became the new societal regulators.... Big Tech companies, which gained trillions of dollars in cumulative market value from the virtual transformation of human life during lockdown, developed powerful censorship machineries that skewed the information available to users on their platforms. Consultants who made millions of dollars from corporate and government consultation were given prestigious positions, power, and public praise, while unconflicted scientists who worked pro bono but dared to question dominant narratives were smeared as being conflicted. 

"Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health. There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science — and science lost.... Honest, continuous questioning and exploration of alternative paths are indispensable for good science. In the authoritarian ... version of public health, these activities were seen as treason and desertion. The dominant narrative became that 'we are at war.' When at war, everyone has to follow orders. If a platoon is ordered to go right and some soldiers explore maneuvering to the left, they are shot as deserters. Scientific skepticism had to be shot, no questions asked. The orders were clear....

"This is a dirty war, one without dignity. Opponents were threatened, abused, and bullied by cancel culture campaigns in social media, hit stories in mainstream media, and bestsellers written by zealots. Statements were distorted, turned into straw men, and ridiculed. Wikipedia pages were vandalized. Reputations were systematically devastated and destroyed. Many brilliant scientists were abused and received threats during the pandemic, intended to make them and their families miserable." 

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

9/11: Remembering the truly forgotten

Remembering the Truly Forgotten, Twenty Years Later | American Institute for Economic Research - Peter C. Earle:

September 11, 2021 - "Today, a feeling that has simmered for years will rise to a fever pitch. The nation will honor New York City firefighters, police officers, Port Authority employees, medical personnel and first responders, and military servicemen killed in the Pentagon. There will be some mention of ... the passengers who died.... There will be no shortage of salutes to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines killed in the global war on terror which, launched in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, also came to involve action in Iraq, Syria, the Philippines, Mali, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and other nations....

"I write this to celebrate the truly forgotten. There are no elegies for them; no concerts, flags, or bumper stickers. The closest thing they have to monuments are the random sections of beams from the Twin Towers that were distributed to town and county parks nationwide after the attacks. Those beams, twisted and deformed, once supported floors. And 20 years ago today, at about the time that this article is published (8 a.m. Eastern), those floors were already alive with the footsteps of traders, brokers, portfolio managers, accountants, tech workers, customer service representatives, and administrative personnel engaged in the lifeblood of global commerce: finance. 

"It can be easy to forget the people who were actually targeted in the World Trade Center attacks. It’s increasingly customary to do so, in fact.... Individuals dealing in financial markets, negotiating transactions, and managing great amounts of capital are often assumed to be wealthy, corrupt, or engaged in elaborate and ultimately unproductive activity, or some combination of the three. None of those labels invite much sympathy –– even considering the horrors that so many people in these scrutinized fields faced on that day. Nationwide, on this 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, more will be said about military service dogs than the thousands of hardworking, productive people killed in downtown Manhattan that day....

"What tens of thousands of men and women in the North and South towers of the World Trade Center did all day, every day, was not simply 'pushing pieces of paper around'. What they did was nothing less than lay the foundation upon which the modern world sits and functions. 

"For time immemorial, human beings have struggled to determine the best means of producing goods and services.... Among competing means of production, regardless of the proposed output, there is some combination of inputs and processes that is the most economically efficient. Only prices, generated in market exchange, fulfill that calculation function adequately. Those prices, by reflecting the current consensus valuation of producers and consumers, allow planning. They send signals to all other market participants regarding scarcity, abundance, and shifts in the overall appraisal of countless resources.... [T]here are no other means of adequately determining where and how resources are being combined into the most customer-satisfying goods or services.... 

"William N. Goetzmann, professor and director of the International Center for Finance at Yale University, puts the birth of financial concepts at the root of civilization itself.... Financial practices, building off of the social technology of money and private property rights, forged and continue to govern virtually our entire world. But those practices are not automated, which is why financial professionals ranging from asset managers and speculators to algorithmic developers, accountants, and clerical personnel are so critical.... 

"And so, 20 years after one of the most awful days of my and countless others’ lives, I honor and praise the memory of the people who worked in the World Trade Center. I honor those who were slaughtered that sunny, blue, and virtually cloudless Tuesday morning. When they perished, most of them were still at their desks, donning headsets or handling phones, squawking our arcane language of growth and prosperity.... To the 12 or 13 dealers, traders, brokers, and other individuals based in the towers with whom I transacted and developed a rapport for years, who were gone in a flash: I remain grateful for your service, skills, and friendship. To my friend B, killed 20 years ago today, enduring esteem.... None of you are forgotten, nor will I let you be."

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Friday, September 10, 2021

Biden flip-flops on vaccine mandates

Biden vaccine mandate marks another White House flip-flop | Fox News - Jessica Chasmar: 

September 9, 2021 - "President Biden announced Thursday that all employers with more than 100 workers will be forced to either require employees to have coronavirus vaccinations or test unvaccinated employees weekly, despite White House statements in July that such mandates were 'not the role' of the federal government.

"Biden's directive, which is expected to affect as many as 100 million Americans, was announced during public remarks discussing his COVID-19 plan. The mandate will require all businesses with more than 100 workers to have those employees vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus, affecting about 80 million Americans. The roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will also have to be vaccinated under Biden's edict. 

"The mandate appears to contradict comments made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki during a July 23 press briefing that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is 'not the role of the federal government.' 'That is the role that institutions, private-sector entities and others may take,' Psaki said at the time. That certainly is appropriate. Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities.'

Biden also vowed before he was sworn in as president that he wouldn’t make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. 'I don't think it should be mandatory, I wouldn't demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power … It's like I don't think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide,' Biden said in December.

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The Biden Admin is losing its unwinnable War On COVID, so they're scapegoating 'unvaccinated' Americans | The Dossier - Jordan Schachtel: 

September 9, 2021 - "Policymakers within the Biden Administration have clearly seen the COVID-19 data out of Israel, the first country that went all in on population-wide mRNA shots. It shows that mRNA injection efficacy is waning, which is why Israel went full steam ahead with the 3rd booster shot. It’s too early to tell exactly how that will pan out, but in the meantime, the Biden Administration needs to find a way to shimmy their way out of declaring victory over COVID just a couple months ago, given its clear resurgence throughout our nation among both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals....

"At first, they took a somewhat more diplomatic approach, blaming the 'Delta variant' for their failures to deliver. But now, they’ve shifted their wrath onto fellow Americans, specifically, the 25% of 'unvaccinated' individuals in America who refuse to submit.... None of it makes scientific sense, but it doesn’t have to, because it’s no longer about health or science, but in protecting the reputation of the White House.

"The Biden Administration is losing its unwinnable 'War on COVID,' and as its ratings go down in flames, it has backed itself into a corner. Instead of being honest about their failures with the American people, Biden officials are choosing to triple and quadruple down on these broken policy measures. They’re purposely pitting Americans against each other, and labeling the 'unvaccinated' as the ultimate scapegoat for their failures. Time will tell if they succeed, or if Americans decide to find the courage to reject the latest series of unconstitutional edicts."

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Canada's Rebel News wins debate exclusion suit

We sued Trudeau's debates commission today — judge to announce verdict tomorrow! | Rebel News - Ezra Levant:

September 07, 2021 - "I just got out of a three-hour hearing at the Federal Court of Canada. We are suing Trudeau’s hand-picked debates commission, because they banned our Rebel News journalists from attending the leaders' debates this week....

"The judge presiding over the case — Justice Elizabeth Heneghan — ... repeatedly took issue with Trudeau’s case, challenging many of their arguments. As the hours went by, I was more and more hopeful. Would we actually beat Trudeau again, and strike a win for freedom of the press, like we did when he banned us back in 2019 and the Federal Court sided with us?...

"Our lawyer, Chad Williamson, did an excellent job. He was outnumbered seven to one — Trudeau sent an army of lawyers to block us....  Chad did a great job standing up for freedom — not just for our reporters, but for all Canadians."

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Rebel News wins court battle to cover leaders’ debates, will accredit 11 journalists | National Post - Micke Blanchard, Canadian Press:

September 08, 2021 - "A judge in the Federal Court of Canada has ruled the Leaders’ Debates Commission incorrectly denied Rebel News Network accreditation to Wednesday’s French-language and Thursday’s English-language competition between the major party leaders. Justice Elizabeth Heneghan’s decision ... means Rebel News reporters will be accredited to attend the debate. While the debate broadcast can be watched by anyone, journalists require accreditation so they can take part afterward in the questioning of the leaders.... Rebel News had been granted an emergency hearing Tuesday in the court after the debates commission denied several of its journalists the credentials needed to fully cover the debates."

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