Monday, January 31, 2022

Freedom Convoy 2022 protests in Ottawa, Day 2

Freedom Convoy: Truckers cause chaos in Ottawa after second day of protests | BBC News

January 30, 2022 - "Protesters against a vaccine mandate for truckers crossing the US-Canada border have brought Canada's capital city to a standstill for a second day. Thousands of demonstrators joined the so-called Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.

"Police have started investigations after several incidents, including the appearance of swastika flags and footage of a woman dancing on the tomb of the unknown soldier. Defence Minister Anita Anand said the incidents were 'beyond reprehensible'. Ottawa police said in a Twitter post that 'several' investigations were now under way into the 'desecration' of a number of monuments in the capital city, as well as 'threatening/illegal/intimidating behaviour to police/city workers and other individuals and damage to a city vehicle'.

"Elsewhere across the city, truckers blocked the streets around Canada's parliament building and Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson said some protesters had harassed staff at a soup kitchen, demanding free meals after they were turned away by restaurants for their refusal to comply with indoor mask mandates. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family also left their home in Ottawa over safety concerns on Saturday....

"The demonstration has grown beyond a call to end the cross-border mandate to a push to an end to all vaccine mandates nationwide, and some demonstrators have pledged to continue their protests until they are removed."
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Zero arrests all weekend at Freedom Convoy in Ottawa | True North - Candice Malcolm: 

January 30, 2022 - "Ottawa Police have reported zero arrests at the Freedom Convoy and Rally on Parliament Hill this weekend, this despite Justin Trudeau and several journalists warning that the protests would be violent and even suggesting that the truckers were domestic terrorists.... 'Large crowds remained in the downtown core throughout the night and were actively managed by police,' read a statement issued by the Ottawa Police Service Sunday morning at 8:00 am. 'Officers encountered several challenges with demonstrators, including sporadic road blockages by trucks, which officers worked to clear. These high-risk situations were de-escalated and resolved with no arrests.' A subsequent statement issued on Sunday evening at 7:30pm stated that police had dealt with some 'disruptive, inappropriate and threatening behaviour from demonstrators' but did not mention any arrests."
Read more:

Anthony Furey, "FUREY FACTOR: OTTAWA-BOUND CONVOY Truckers are protesting vax mandates; what will happen?" Toronto Sun, January 26, 2022:

MPs Told to Hide From Anti-Vaxxer Convoy by Parliament Security Chief | Vice - Justin Ling

January 28, 2022 - "On Thursday evening, Sergeant-at-Arms Patrick McDonell, who is responsible for security on Parliament Hill, sent an email to MPs about Saturday’s demonstration. 'Solicitations were issued to the online community for Members’ residential addresses in the Ottawa-Gatineau area,' he wrote. 'This is known as doxing—a process of finding and publishing personal information about a particular individual on the Internet, usually with malicious intent.' McDonell offered extraordinary advice to MPs: “Do not get involved and go somewhere safe,” and “close and lock all exterior doors.”
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'You've made your point:' Ottawa mayor urges 'Freedom Convoy' protesters to leave | CTV News - Josh Pringle:

January 31, 2022 - "Ottawa residents are being urged to avoid non-essential travel into the downtown core and several businesses will be closed today, as the demonstration protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions enters another day. Hundreds of trucks remained parked on Wellington Street and other roads throughout the downtown core, with residents and businesses expressing frustration with the constant blaring of horns and fireworks at all hours.

"Ottawa’s mayor issued a fresh call for the protesters to leave on Monday, saying Ottawa residents have been 'more than patient' and the protesters are disturbing residents and harming small businesses. 'I think it’s time for them to move on,' Jim Watson told CTV Morning Live.... Ottawa police acknowledged Sunday evening that it's aware many demonstrators have announced their intentions to stay. [Ottawa Police] Chief Peter Sloly told CTV News Ottawa Sunday evening that officers are communicating with organizers to facilitate the safe departure of vehicles, but it is unclear when the protests will end.... '[T]here's no real clarity yet," said Sloly. 'I think the only thing we can say for sure we're still going to be dealing with some level of traffic disruption and demonstration over the next 24 hours.'"
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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Freedom Convoy 2022 in Ottawa

Thousands opposed to COVID-19 rules converge on Parliament Hill | CBC News - John Paul Tasker: 

January 29, 2022 - "A convoy of thousands of truckers and other protesters converged on Parliament Hill Saturday to call for an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions — a raucous demonstration that has police on high alert for possible violence even as organizers urge the crowd to be peaceful. Hundreds of protesters on foot flooded into the parliamentary precinct on Saturday in the midst of an extreme cold warning, joining a lineup of truckers that started to arrive on the scene late Friday night.

"They were later joined by other drivers and demonstrators from all regions of the country that, in some cases, travelled thousands of kilometres to take their message to the streets outside of the Prime Minister's Office in the downtown core. Police said as many as 10,000 people were expected to be on hand by day's end, but by Saturday evening the force did not have an official estimate of the crowd's size. Also that evening, the group organizing the convoy sent out a schedule for Sunday events, including a prayer and press conference.

"The convoy has snarled traffic throughout the region, clogging arteries that lead in and out of the city centre. Law enforcement urged everyone to avoid travel to the downtown as it deals with the surge of people. The Rideau Centre, a major shopping centre only steps from the main protest site, was closed early after it was overrun with maskless patrons defying provincial rules for indoor spaces.

"The many trucks that have gathered along Wellington Street in front of the Parliament Buildings are adorned with banners denouncing public health measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.... Dozens of truckers blasted their horns throughout the day and into the evening. Amid security concerns, Trudeau and his family have been moved from their home to an undisclosed location in the nation's capital, sources said.

"The protest, while loud and disruptive, has been peaceful to this point. As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, no charges have been laid against any of the protesters, a spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Service said. The police said at 8 p.m. ET no incidents of violence or injuries had been reported....

"Roughly a dozen protesters had parked their vehicles on the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Ottawa's National War Memorial earlier Saturday. The cars and trucks were removed by midday after orders from local police.... Later, protesters were seen dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, prompting condemnation from Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Canada's top soldier Gen. Wayne Eyre. Defence Minister Anita Anand called the behaviour of protesters 'beyond reprehensible.' The NDP called it 'despicable' and denounced symbols of hate seen in the crowd.... Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole similarly condemned the actions of those involved with the incidents at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Terry Fox statue. 

"In another instance, a can of beer was thrown at a journalist covering the event. Protesters also set off fireworks as the evening began, which Ottawa police said Saturday should not be used downtown.

"Some of the protesters carried Canadian flags, while others held placards that urged people to "Think for Yourself," a slogan used in anti-vaccine circles. Some demonstrators were seen flying the Patriotes flag, a nod to the Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-38, when French-speaking settlers from present-day Quebec fought against British colonial rule. At least one Confederate flag was spotted in the crowd, a holdover from the U.S. Civil War that is often associated with racist and far-right elements. Indigenous demonstrators flew the Mohawk warrior flag and waved the flag of the Métis Nation."

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Trudeau, MPs denounce Freedom Convoy

‘Fringe minority’ in truck convoy with ‘unacceptable views’ don’t represent Canadians: Trudeau | Global TV - Rachel Gilmore:

January 26, 2022 - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the 'fringe minority' heading to Ottawa in a truck convoy that hold 'unacceptable views' don’t represent the way most Canadians feel. He made the comments in a press conference Wednesday evening, on the heels of Global News reports that far-right and white nationalist groups see the convoy as an opportunity. 'The small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa, who are holding unacceptable views that they are expressing, do not represent the views of Canadians,' Trudeau said. '(Canadians) who have been there for each other, who know that following the science and stepping up to protect each other is the best way to continue to ensure our freedoms, our rights, our values as a country.'"
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MPs worry anti-vaxxer convoy has taken a turn for the worse | Canada's National Observer - Natasha Bulowski:

January 28, 2022 - "A convoy of truckers is en route to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates, but some politicians say the protest has taken on a life of its own and are concerned about possible violence on Saturday. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he is 'concerned by extremist elements that are spreading misinformation and attempting to turn the convoy into a Canadian version of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol,' in a statement released Thursday....

"'Individuals have the right to safely and peacefully protest,' said Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi in a statement to Canada’s National Observer. 'But from what we know about the protest that’s coming this weekend, it appears that some members of the group may be associated with racist, sexist, and xenophobic groups.' The Liberal MP said his community 'will not tolerate hate and vitriol and other acts of racism and violence'....

"'Every Canadian should have the ability to make their voice heard, but there is also a very real concern about the threat of violence,' said NDP MP Taylor Bachrach. 'The fact that we're hearing these kinds of deeply troubling messages is something I think all Canadians should be concerned about'....

"Last weekend, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier organized a rally in Waterloo, Ont., to support the cross-border truckers' movement and continuously tweets support for and information about the convoy.... Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole ... broke his silence Tuesday evening in a Facebook Live event when he said he understands why many truckers, especially independent ones, are upset.... Former Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer tweeted his support for unvaccinated truckers and said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 'threatening everyone's ability to get groceries because of his overreach on vaccine mandates.' Earlier this week, MP Garnett Genuis tweeted it is 'time to end Justin Trudeau’s nonsensical vaccine vendetta'.... Alberta MP Martin Shields recorded a video in front of Parliament Hill declaring his support for the truckers and their protest. 'I support peaceful demonstrations against these mandates,' a statement from the Conservatives’ deputy leader Candice Bergen reads....

"On Tuesday, federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra ... [told] Canadians the small minority of truck drivers refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate has not affected trucking operations. Bachrach, the NDP’s transport critic, echoed Alghabra’s message and added extreme weather events across the country have contributed to the few empty shelves reported at grocery stores."
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Trudeau concerned trucker convoy converging on Parliament Hill could turn violent | CTV News - Canadian Press:

January 28, 2022 - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he's concerned about the potential for violence during this weekend's planned protest on Parliament Hill by truckers and others joining the crowd to vent their anger about public health restrictions to combat COVID-19.... The so-called 'freedom convoy' has been billed as a protest against the federally imposed vaccine mandate on cross-border truckers, even though planning for the event began before the policy was established. While key organizers have said violence won't be tolerated, far-right extremists and white nationalists have latched onto it, with some calling for 'bullets' or a 'massive revolution' or a riot akin to the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol a year ago....

"Trudeau ... noted that the protesters use the appealing rallying cry of 'freedom.' But he said: 'The most important freedom is freedom for Canadians who are doing the right things to be able to get through and beyond this pandemic... And the way to do that is to trust in science, to follow public health rules and to get vaccinated. That's what standing up for rights and freedoms (looks like)'.... He slammed Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole for 'putting forward as his priority accommodating the unvaccinated.' 

"O'Toole, who intends to meet with some of the truckers, has called for calm and a peaceful protest. He has also denounced people involved in the convoy who are espousing racist and extremist ideas. But he has not called out any of his MPs, including deputy leader Candice Bergen, predecessor Andrew Scheer and finance critic Pierre Poilievre, who have given full-throated support to the convoy and joined in accusing Trudeau of being a threat to Canadians' liberty."

Read more:

Candice Malcolm & Harrison Faulkner, "The legacy media desperately wants the trucker convoy to be Canada’s January 6th." True North, January 28, 2022:

Friday, January 28, 2022

Canada's Freedom Convoy cheered by thousands

‘Freedom Convoy’ Greeted By Dryden Supporters | CKDR News:

January 27 - "Bumper to bumper traffic on the Trans Canada Highway as the ‘Freedom Convoy’ rolled through Dryden. Honking transport trucks and other passenger vehicles were greeted Wednesday by hundreds of local supporters with cheering, signs and more honking. Supporters gathered along Highway 17 at various spots, with Provincial Police controlling traffic and maintaining safety. It took well over an hour, if not two hours, for the convoy to get through town. The group is on their way to Ottawa in protest against COVID-19 mandates, with their next stop in Thunder Bay tonight."
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Protest convoy makes stop in Thunder Bay | - Justin Hardy:

January 27, 2022 - "A convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions headed to Ottawa made an overnight stop in the Thunder Bay area.... The convoy, which is reported to be over 17 kilometres long, began in protest of vaccine mandates for truckers returning to Canada, and grew to include protesters of a wide range of COVID-19 restrictions.... The first convoy departed Prince Rupert, B.C. on Jan. 22 and arrived at a truck stop at Twin City Crossroads on West Arthur Street at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, with plans to depart the city on Thursday morning. About 113 transports and 276 other vehicles crossed the Ontario border as part of the convoy, according to the Ontario Provincial Police. Hundreds of supporters were on hand to greet the convoy.... 

"The protest convoy has been condemned by the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.... The protest convoy has also been condemned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though some MPs, including former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, have shown support. Scheer attended a gathering in Saskatchewan in support of the convoy."
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'Freedom Convoy' rolls into Simcoe County | Orillia Matters

Janurary 27, 2022 - "Horns blared as truckers, pickup trucks, cars and SUVs rolled out of the Innisfil ONroute Thursday morning. Shortly before 9 a.m., supporters and participants in the 'Freedom Convoy' of truckers that began their long drive across Canada to protest pandemic mandates in B.C. left the Highway 400 fuel stop on the last leg of their journey to Ottawa.

"'We’re doing this for freedom. Freedom of choice,' said Nigel Atkinson of Haliburton.... Sitting in his warm pickup truck on a frosty morning, Atkinson said he doesn’t believe there should be any COVID-19-related mandates. 'It’s got nothing to do with vaccinations or not, it’s about our freedom of choice and having our Charter of Rights restored to us. There should be no mandates, period'....

"'I’m here today so we can get our freedom back from Mr. Trudeau who is running our country not very appropriately. I’m a vaccinated truck driver, I cross the border weekly. I don’t have a problem with the vaccine, but I have a problem because we should have the right to choose what we want to do and not lose our jobs over it,.” said Marie Weir of Angus.... 'We just want our unity back, our freedom back. And it’s not just about the vaccine, it’s about everything; carbon taxes, everything – just life'....

"A mother, Jen, and her small son Bennett (no last names given) attended the rally. As the horns blared and cheers broke through the crowd when the trucks started moving, the mother pointed to her son’s coloured drawing of a truck he was holding up for all to see. 'We wish our truckers well. We are here because it’s enough for our kids, it’s enough they’ve carried this weight on their shoulders for two years – it’s enough. We deserve better than this, our country is better than this,” she said.

"As the convoy moved south on Highway 400, approximately 100 warmly dressed well-wishers waved banners and dozens of Canadian flags on Innisfil’s 4th Line overpass. The cacophony of horns from the truckers and supporters echoed under the bridge as they left Innisfil on their way to Toronto and eventually, Ottawa."
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Freedom Convoy needs to lose extreme rhetoric, says association head as truckers reach Toronto | CBC News:

January 27, 2022 - ""In Vaughan, Ont., truckers were met by crowds of supporters, some with no connection to the trucking industry, but who came out to voice their opposition to pandemic public health measures. But while many in the crowd held signs against the mandate, some appeared to be more on the fringe, holding signs like: 'Join or Die' and 'Liberty or Death.' One supporter was seen draped in the flag of the far-right group the Proud Boys.... 

"Mike Millian is the president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. Millian said his organization is against vaccine mandates for truckers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, but not for the reasons many in the convoy might be. 'Truck drivers are isolated in their jobs, haven't been associated to spread, and we can't afford to damage our supply chain any more than it is,' he said. 'But this convoy seems to have morphed into a kind of protest against all vaccine and COVID-related shutdowns.' He said he believes there are many in the convoy just trying to exercise their right to peaceful protest, but added that unless the messaging around it changes, it's unlikely to win the support of the broader public.\

"Speaking to CBC News as they rolled eastward through Vaughan, however, some truckers said they believed the convoy is exactly what's needed as the pandemic stretches into the two-year mark.

''It's overwhelming. The country needs this. It's about time,' said participant DeAndre Mahadeo. 'This is what brings the country together.... Now we're really feeling some appreciation in what we do. It's not an easy life, let me tell you that.' He said the vaccine mandate is 'totally wrong'....

"Kelly Staring, a single mother of one, also came out to show her support. She says she was fired from her job with Toronto Water for failing to report her vaccination status by the prescribed deadline. By the start of this year, the city had fired 461 employees for failing to comply with its mandate. Asked why she felt it was important to demonstrate, Staring said: 'To make sure they know not everybody on this side is a bad person. I'm a good person.' Staring added she contracted COVID-19 in March 2021, along with several of her colleagues, but all of them survived and are healthy today. Staring said she isn't convinced of the need to vaccinate."
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Truck convoy rolls into Kingston, Ont. | CTV News - Josh Pringle & Nate Vandermeer:

January 28, 2022 - "The 'freedom convoy' rolled into Kingston, Ont. early Thursday evening, the latest stop for the trucking convoy on its way to Ottawa to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other government restrictions. Dozens of people lined the Gardiners Road overpass to Hwy. 401 waiving Canadian flags and cheering as the convoy pulled off the highway.... The convoy is scheduled to depart Kingston at 8:30 a.m. Friday for Ottawa. Another convoy is scheduled to travel from Kingston to Ottawa on Saturday....

"The convoy travelled from Vaughan, Ont. to Kingston Thursday afternoon, stopping in Port Hope and Trenton along Hwy. 401. Ministry of Transportation cameras showed crowds gathering at the Hwy. 401 and Keele interchange in Toronto to show support for the convoy as it travelled through the city.

"'The information we have is that there are four separate convoys at least, including Windsor, Sarnia, Niagara Falls and the Toronto area all coming together,' said Sgt. Steve Koopman of Kingston police Thursday afternoon.... Kingston police are working with Ontario Provincial Police and other agencies to monitor the convoy....

"The convoy of truckers and supporters protesting vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions are expected to arrive on Parliament Hill Saturday.  The movement has gathered steam nationwide, with videos showing highway gatherings in support of the truckers. The Freedom Convoy is calling for the end of vaccine mandates in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.... The list of demands includes the federal and provincial governments terminating the vaccine passports and all other 'obligatory vaccine contact tracing programs', and terminate COVID-19 vaccine mandates."
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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Freedom Convoy 2022 rolls into Ontario

Convoy opposing trucker vaccine mandate draws large crowd, concerns over comparison to Holocaust | CTV News - Josh Crabb:

January 25, 2022 - "A cross-Canada freedom convoy in opposition of a federal vaccine mandate for truckers arrived in Winnipeg to a large and boisterous crowd of hundreds of people.... People and long lines of vehicles gathered on both shoulders of Highway 1 in Headingley, just west of Winnipeg to show support.  An RCMP officer on scene said police along with convoy organizers both decided it was unsafe for the group to stop because there were so many people along the road and there was no room for the trucks to stop in the Flying J truck stop which was supposed to serve as a pit stop for the rally.

"'It’s just simply for safety,' said RCMP Sgt. Mark Hume, who was one of several officers on scene directing traffic on the highway near the truck stop. 'There’s too many people gathered in there, too many vehicles,' Hume said.... 'We had every intention of not stopping them but there’s too many people'.... RCMP officers were on scene throughout the rally and said in an email the convoy was 20 km long....

"The convoy has gained notoriety in the wake of the federal government’s vaccine mandate for truckers but an organizer of the pit stop to greet the travellers acknowledged the concern goes beyond just that one issue. 'We’re fighting for our human rights that our forefathers fought for and we want to make sure that we still have our freedoms and rights,' said Trevor Gatchell, who helped organize the pit stop at the Flying J.... 'They’re not anti-vax, they’re not pro-vax it’s just about freedom of choice, freedom of rights that we’ve had'.... The convoy is on its way to Ottawa to oppose the mandate.... 

"Flying J, the company that runs the truck stop where the rally was held said it respects the rights of individuals to express their opinions.... The RCMP said Tuesday afternoon no tickets connected to the rally were handed out." 
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‘Freedom Rally’ truckers convoy hits Ontario — picking up Conservative political support as it rolls | Toronto Star - Alex McKeen & Kieran Leavitt:

January 25, 2022 - "In Kenora, where the temperature was expected to drop to -27C on Tuesday night, a host of volunteers were preparing to welcome a massive convoy of truckers. About two dozen people could be seen gathered at a community hub downtown, packing boxes of snacks and making sandwiches, in a video livestreamed to Facebook by a supporter of the “Freedom Rally” — a convoy of truckers and their supporters that has been making its way this week from British Columbia to Ottawa in a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.... Kenora was scheduled to be the first Ontario stop for the controversial convoy. 

"The organizer who posted the video told the Star she was 'so beyond stoked' that the truckers were coming to the town of about 15,000 people, where according to Statistics Canada data about nine per cent of residents work in the trucking industry themselves. That organizer then stated that she and everyone supporting the convoy have been told not to speak to the media.... A second organizer confirmed that the Kenora supporters had been asked by convoy organizers not to speak to media....

"Kelli Saunders, meanwhile, had found a parking spot with her husband close to the Trans-Canada Highway, where the truckers would be rolling by. She said they were ready, with homemade signs and five layers of clothing, to go outside and cheer. 'Kenora is located right on the Trans-Canada, between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. We’re a main thoroughfare,” she said.... 'This has been a hard two years for everyone. It’s been extremely mentally draining,' she said. 'I’m really proud of this group of truckers and the way Canada has come together along the route to support them'....

"En route to Ottawa and expected to arrive Saturday, the convoy has been sparked by government measures to stop unvaccinated truckers from crossing the Canada-U.S. border — and has grown into a conservative movement opposing other COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. Conservative politicians and Canadian volunteers opposed to vaccine mandates are throwing their support behind the growing group of vehicles, which was reported to be 20 kilometres long as it worked its way through Saskatchewan and Manitoba on Tuesday."
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Atlantic Canadian Truckers Join ‘Freedom Convoy’ On Thursday | 101.5 The Hawk - Robert Lothian: 

January 25, 2022 - "Truckers from Atlantic Canada will soon join a national 'freedom convoy' headed for Ottawa. On Thursday, truckers from the four provinces will meet in Moncton, N.B., before departing for the nation’s capital. This Saturday, they will rally with other truckers arriving from all over Canada. 'The goal is that the entire trucking network and convoy will wrap itself right around Ottawa and give it a great big bear hug,' says Leanne Carter, the Maritime coordinator for the Canada Unity freedom convoy.

"Truckers remain upset about the federal vaccine mandate that requires drivers in the industry to be fully vaccinated to enter the country without being required to self-isolate. Carter believes there is a significant lack of dialogue between the public and the federal government, which is why they seek a conversation with elected officials.... Carter encouraged Canadians to decorate their cars with Canada flags and travel alongside the truckers for as long as possible."
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‘Freedom convoy’ expected to move through Greater Toronto Area Thursday | Global News - Ryan Rocca:

January 26, 2022 - "The so-called 'freedom convoy' is expected to make its way through the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday.... Truckers are heading to Ottawa from east and west parts of the country, as well as from southern Ontario where routes are departing from several locations including Windsor, Sarnia, Niagara and Toronto on Thursday, according to the website. The website indicates that the convoys will be passing through the Toronto area in the late morning hours, into the afternoon. The Toronto convoy is scheduled to leave from Vaughan Mills at noon. The groups are then scheduled to arrive in Kingston Thursday evening and begin heading to Ottawa on Friday, the website says.

"Organizers of the protest describe the Canadian government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers to avoid quarantine as an example of political overreach resulting in economic harm, arguing the policy hurts small businesses and denies some workers the means to survive."
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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Truckers' Freedom Convoy sets out from B.C.

Hundreds of truckers headed to Ottawa in 'Freedom Rally' convoy against vaccine mandate | CBC News:

January 23, 2022 - "Hundreds of truckers set off from British Columbia to Ottawa on Sunday to protest a federal vaccine mandate despite the urging of the country's largest trucking federation to comply. The protest has been dubbed the 'Freedom Rally' against the federal mandate for cross-border truckers, which went into effect on Jan. 15. Canadian truck drivers now need to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine and pre-arrival molecular test for COVID-19 before crossing into Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations say up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular trips across the Canada-U.S. border are likely to be sidelined as a result of the vaccine mandate.

"'The goal is we're going to get [to Ottawa by next weekend] and demand these mandates get stopped,' said rally attendee Candace Hill. Hill was speaking from Delta, B.C., where supporters and truckers had gathered Sunday before setting off on their cross-country trip. The convoy is scheduled to meet up with another that left from Prince George, B.C., in Calgary on Sunday night. But the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), a federation of the country's carriers, owner-operators and industry suppliers, released a statement on Saturday strongly disapproving of the protest. "
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Cross-country truckers convoy departs B.C. for Ottawa to protest vaccine mandate | - Courtney Greenberg:

January 24, 2022 - "The first leg of the convoy, dubbed  The Convoy For Freedom 2022, is set ... to arrive in Ottawa on Jan. 29, where truckers from other provinces will join.... B.C. truck driver Colin Valentim ... will lead the B.C. leg of the convoy taking the western route and expects to be accompanied by others along the way. Two other convoys have different starting points: The eastern route is to begin on Jan. 27 in Enfield, Nova Scotia. The southern route will leave on the same day from Windsor, Ont. A Go Fund Me page for the cause has raised more than $560,000 to help with food, lodgings and fuel for the truckers."
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Recap of Day 2 of the Truckers for Freedom Convoy across Canada | True North - Harrison Faulkner

January 24, 2022 - "Today was the second official day of the Truckers for Freedom Convoy 2022 across Canada to protest vaccine mandates, forced vaccines and other heavy-handed government restrictions. Truckers in the West made their way through Alberta today and are expected to be in Saskatchewan by Tuesday.... 

"Supporters lined the roads in Kamloops as the convoy passed through the city.... Early this morning, a large group of truckers on their way to Calgary were spotted outside of Edmonton.... In Windsor, Ontario near the Canada-US border, trucks joined the convoy and were seen doing a slow-roll. 

"Canadian author Jordan Peterson retweeted news that approximately 500,000 Canadian truckers will descend on Ottawa Saturday. He warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he’s in for 'a very bad week.'

"Asked twice today about whether or not he supports the trucker convoy and if he will meet with the truckers when they arrive in Ottawa on Saturday, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole refused to answer both questions definitively and instead encouraged truckers to get vaccinated. Unlike the Conservative leader, Alberta Conservative MP for Bow River Martin Shields publicly supported the truckers. He posted a video on Twitter in support of the convoy, saying “I am in Ottawa awaiting the trucking convoy on its way to the capital' and 'It’s time to get our freedoms back.'

"Dragon’s Den star Brett Wilson called out the legacy media and in particular, CBC, CTV, Global News and Fox News for their lack of coverage of the convoy saying that they have 'no right to ignore' the trucker protest. The GoFundMe in support of the truckers at the time this article was published has reached $3,739,140."
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Canadian trucker convoy's GoFundMe fundraiser frozen | City News Vancouver - Christopher Reynolds, Canadian Press: 

Jan. 25, 2020 - "GoFundMe has frozen access to the nearly $4.5 million in funds raised by the trucker convoy now wending its way across the country toward Ottawa in a protest against vaccine mandates.... Rachel Hollis, a spokeswoman for the crowdfunding platform, said ... 'Funds will be safely held until the organizer is able to provide the documentation to our team about how funds will be properly distributed.'

"As of Tuesday afternoon, funds were raised from 58,300 donors, according to the GoFundMe page of the 'Freedom Convoy.' Tamara Lich, who is also secretary of the fledgling Western separatist Maverick Party, launched the campaign on Jan. 14. It states that the money will go toward fuel as well as food and lodgings for big-riggers taking part.

"The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which has denounced the convoy protest, says more than 85 per cent of the 120,000 Canadian truck drivers who regularly traverse the border are vaccinated, but that up to 16,000 may be sidelined due to the new restriction, exacerbating supply chain problems.... Last Saturday the U.S. barred unvaccinated Canadian drivers from entering the country, mirroring Canada’s border filter for American truckers.

"In a Twitter thread Monday showing pictures of depleted grocery store shelves, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was 'on the phone with U.S. governors' that morning who share his concerns. He said he is was working on a joint letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end the dual vaccine mandates.

"Reese Evans, general manager of Evans Trucking, said 14 of his 36 drivers who typically haul lumber across the Alberta-Montana border are unvaccinated — and largely out of commission following the vaccine mandate. His outfit donated $5,000 to the campaign. 'When are they going to stop to realize that you’ve got to stop screwing with people’s livelihoods,' he said."
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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Colds can protect against Covid, study finds

COVID Quickly, Episode 21: Colds Build COVID Immunity, and the Omicron Vaccine Delay | Scientific American - Josh Fischman & Jeffery DelViscio, 60-second Science (transcript):

January 19, 2022 - "From early in the pandemic, its been clear that not everyone is equally vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID. Some people get really sick, while others have mild symptoms or none at all. And this was true before any of us were protected by vaccines. Overall about 80 percent of infected people get a mild illness. The virus is so wildly infectious, though, that the 20 percent of serious cases have been a global catastrophe. 

"But in people who don’t get very ill — what’s protecting them? We hear a lot about neutralizing antibodies, but this is a new virus to us. You don’t get antibodies until after you’ve been exposed or vaccinated.  

"It turns out some people might be getting help from another part of the immune system — T-cells, which were triggered years ago by exposure to different but related coronaviruses. These microbes have been with us forever, and they cause sneezing and runny noses: the common cold. The cold coronavirus and the pandemic coronavirus are distantly related. But they do share similar proteins. Early in the pandemic, scientists noticed that T-cells that reacted to the cold virus also reacted to the pandemic virus. These are called cross-reactive T-cells. But since researchers saw this in test tubes, they had no idea what this meant for immunity in real life. 

"Ajit Lalvani, an infectious disease physician at Imperial College London, decided to find out. England has a really good contact tracing system. It allowed Lalvani and his colleagues to find 52 people who lived with individuals who tested positive for COVID. These 52 started out negative themselves. Within about 3 days, half of that group, or 26, turned positive. The other 26 stayed negative.

"Taking a closer look at the negative people, who didn’t get COVID, Lalvani’s team found that 7 of them had a lot of these cross-reactive T-cells. None of the people who got COVID had such cells. Zero. Lalvani told me this is a very substantial protective effect, and his team just published the results in the journal Nature Communications. The T cells, primed by the older cold virus, recognize the new pandemic virus because it has those similar proteins, and they work to fight it off.

"Immunologist Alex Sette, from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, told me he thinks this research is on the right track. Other studies have linked recent exposure to these cold viruses with less severe COVID, says Sette, who was not involved in Lalvani’s work. Research has also tied pre-existing T-cells to a stronger immune response to a COVID vaccine....

"T-cells ... point to new targets to add to second-generation vaccines. The proteins these T-cells reacted to went beyond the well-known spike protein at the heart of the first-gen shots. The cells respond to other proteins called N and O-R-F, for instance. Adding those to a new vaccine formula, both Lalvani and Sette suggest, could widen the protection of vaccines against variants.;;; 

"A few companies have such 'T-cell enhanced' vaccines in the works. Gritstone and ImmunityBio, biotech firms in California ... have started clinical trials.  Including more of these proteins in a shot could create a vaccine capable of boosting your immunity against whatever variant comes along."

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Monday, January 24, 2022

Covid protests continuing throughout Europe

Vaccine passport protests in Europe draw thousands of people | CTV News - Associated Press (stress added):

January 22, 2022 - "Thousands of people gathered in European capitals Saturday to protest vaccine passports and other requirements governments have imposed in hopes of ending the coronavirus pandemic. Demonstrations took place in Athens, Helsinki, London, Paris and Stockholm.

Marches in Paris drew hundreds of demonstrators protesting the introduction from Monday of a new COVID-19 pass. It will severely restrict the lives of those who refuse to get vaccinated by banning them from domestic flights, sports events, bars, cinemas and other leisure venues. French media reported that demonstrators also marched by the hundreds in other cities.

"In Sweden, where vaccine certificates are required to attend indoor events with more than 50 people, some 3,000 demonstrators marched though central Stockholm and assembled in a main square for a protest organized by the Frihetsrorelsen - or Freedom Movement.... No major incidents or clashes were reported by late afternoon. A similar demonstration with some 1,000 participants was held also in Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city.

"The Finnish government authorized local and regional authorities just before Christmas to introduce 'extensive and full measures' in response to rising virus cases involving the omicron variant. The restrictions included limiting or prohibiting events, moving university classes online, limiting restaurant service and closing venues where people have a higher risk of exposure. Restaurants and events are allowed to require vaccine passports. Police said some 4,000 people marched Saturday through the streets of central Helsinki to protest."

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Violence erupts at Brussels Covid protest | The Times - Bruno Waterfield (stress added):

January 24 2022 - "There were violent clashes with police as more than 50,000 demonstrators from across Europe met in Brussels [on Sunday] to protest against lockdown measures, particularly vaccine passes. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse marchers, including peaceful protesters, at the end of a rally in Parc du Cinquantenaire, near the EU quarter of the city."

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Life returns to normal in Florida

 Inside Florida, the state that forgot COVID-19 is a national emergency | New York Post - Kyle Smith:

Spring break, Orlando, Florida, March 2021

January 6, 2022 - "The greatest feeling about Florida is the sheer 'Gonna ride this hog wherever it takes me' exuberance. I’ve been down there maybe eight or 10 times during the pandemic and arriving in any airport is like crossing the Wall out of East Berlin. Quite a lot of people wear masks in malls and stores, but most don’t. Nobody mask-shames anybody. You don’t need a vaccine card at all, much less have to dig out your Excelsior Pass three times a day. 

"This is because Florida accepts the basic truth that should have been Washington’s guidance from Day 1: If you’re vaccinated, the COVID-19 emergency is over for you; if you’re not, well, the risk is yours.  

"Florida schoolchildren have been back in school and unmasked since August 2020. Life is normal for them, except for the amusement value of seeing panicky teachers in masks. New York’s children, like those in many areas where the Democratic Party and its affiliated teachers unions rule, are essentially being used as human shields.... Kids are suffering so badly here that even the New York Times is starting gently to suggest that maybe we should take our hands off our children’s throats — masking them, forbidding them to socialize and exercise and even talk at lunchtime, canceling their extracurriculars, canceling childhood.

"The unemployment rate in Florida, heavily dependent on tourism, spiked to 14.2 percent in May 2020, fell to half of that by September and now stands at 4.5 percent (as of November). New York? Peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2020, but remains third-worst in the nation at 6.6 percent. In February 2020, that figure stood at 3.9 percent. New York is stacking its own crises on top of the virus problem.

"Florida’s response since the summer of 2020 has been to act as the state embodiment of the Great Barrington Declaration in which academics Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and Sunetra Gupta (of Stanford, Harvard and Oxford, respectively) argued that we are never going to eliminate the virus, so we’d better take mitigation strategies for the most vulnerable but otherwise learn to live with it.... 

"One of the great self-owns in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s career of auto-embarrassment came when she took the bait National Review dangled when it published a picture of her enjoying a Christmas vacation drink in Miami Beach. Florida, people like AOC keep telling us, is a COVID-superspreading lunatic state that actually voted for Donald Trump (twice). Yet where does AOC go when she wants to unwind? Not just Florida, but the part of it that is getting hit hardest in the Omicron wave....AOC then attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and suggested he take some 'tips' from her state’s governor, Kathy Hochul.

"AOC telling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to take tips from Gov. Hochul is laughable.... As I write these words, the state with the most COVID cases in the country is … New York, which has 70 percent more cases than Florida, and five times as many deaths per 100,000.

"Heavy restriction is getting us nowhere. If we’re going to get hammered by the Omicron wave anyway, can we please have some freedom back?"

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Faulty models panicked UK into Covid lockdown

‘Wildly incorrect’ Covid modelling bounced Boris Johnson into second lockdown, MPs told | The Telegraph - Sarah Knapton:

January 18, 2022 - "Boris Johnson was bounced into the second coronavirus lockdown after a 'terrifying' and 'wildly incorrect' model warning of 4,000 deaths a day was leaked to the press, MPs have heard. 

"Speaking at a debate at Westminster Hall on the use of models in the pandemic, Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid recovery group, described how the Prime Minister had contacted him shortly before announcing new restrictions on October 31 2020 asking for advice. Modelling from Cambridge University and Public Health England (PHE) had suggested that without immediate restrictions there could be 4,000 deaths per day by the end of December. Mr Baker said that he had told Mr Johnson to challenge the model, and Prof Tim Spector, of King’s College London, and Prof Carl Heneghan, of Oxford University, were called into Downing Street to go over the data. But by the time the models were shown to be inaccurate, it was too late to stop public calls for restrictions.

"Mr Baker said: 'By Monday, Carl Heneghan had taken the wheels of those death projections, by which time the Prime Minister had, disgracefully, been bounced using a leak into a lockdown. This is absolutely no way to conduct public policy. The reality is the Prime Minister was shown a terrifying model which was subsequently proven to be widely incorrect but he took away freedoms from tens of millions on that basis. It is monstrous that millions of people were locked down, effectively under house arrest, their businesses destroyed, their children prevented from getting an education. The situation is now perfectly plain that even our most basic liberties can be taken away by the stroke of a pen, if a minister has been shown sufficiently persuasive modelling that tells them there is trouble ahead.' 

"Mr Baker, the MP for Wycombe, called for the establishment of an Office for Research Integrity within the Cabinet Office to challenge the data coming from modelling. 

"The Westminster debate was called by Bob Seely, the MP for the Isle of Wight, who argued that the use of the modelling in the pandemic was approaching a national scandal. Mr Seely warned that the 'doomsday public health scenarios' had been used to create a 'despicable' and 'unforgivable' climate of fear, based on 'a sort of glorified guesswork.... Never before has so much harm been done to so many, by so few based on so little questionable and potentially flawed data,' he said. 'We had a nervous Government presented with doomsday scenarios which panicked it into a course of profound acting with shocking outcomes. I believe the use of modelling is pretty much getting up there for a national scandal'....

"Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said far too little attention had been paid to the collateral damage of lockdowns. 'This wasn’t just a paper exercise,' she said. 'These models and the weight they have been given has caused serious destruction.... Who was modelling the outcomes of child abuse, of poverty, of loneliness and despair and fear?'"

"Responding to the debate, Maggie Throup, the vaccines minister, said that an inquiry into modelling should form part of the official pandemic inquiry and promised that 'lessons will be learned'. But she said the Government did not just rely on models but also looked at what was happening in the real world."

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Czech gov't scraps Covid-vax mandate 'nonsense'

Czech Republic scraps vaccine mandate as daily cases hit record high | The Independent - William Nattrass: 

Jan. 20, 2022 - "The Czech Republic’s new government has scrapped a decree making Covid vaccines mandatory for over-60s and key workers in some professions, with the country’s health minister describing the previous administration’s plan as 'nonsense from the start'. The mandate – which was supposed to come into effect in March for the elderly as well as health and care workers, police officers and firefighters – was dismissed by Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s new centre-right government.... 'We see no reason for compulsory vaccination' ... Mr Fiala said at a press conference on Wednesday. However, he emphasised that the government still considered vaccines as 'the best way to fight Covid'.

"Coalition members of the five-party government had opposed the vaccine mandate ever since it was introduced in December in the twilight days of the previous regime led by Andrej Babis. The plan sparked protests in Prague and elsewhere in the country. The 'Open Czechia' protest organization ran a petition claiming that 'instead of relevant expert information allowing citizens to make their own decision, the government is forcing us to be vaccinated through tools of corruption and extortion!' About 63 per cent of Czechs are fully vaccinated, below the European Union average, according [to]the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control....

"'The mandate was not defined well, so from this perspective we are happy that it will be cancelled,' said Jiří Horecký, president of the Association of Social Service Providers, which advocates for the rights of social workers. 'The group of people obliged to be vaccinated was unclear, the explanatory report was not up to date, and there were no exceptions for people who already had Covid,” he told The Independent.

"The country’s health minister Vlastimil Válek said the government had delivered on its promise to revoke the vaccine mandate. 'I considered mandatory Covid 19 vaccination nonsense from the start,' he said on Twitter....

"The government announced that asymptomatic key healthcare and social workers who test positive for Covid may be allowed to continue working to keep services running. Companies want the list to be extended, while cabinet members are pushing for the so-called “working quarantine” to apply to other key workers including firefighters, police officers, and transport staff. Mr Fiala’s administration has also shortened quarantine and isolation times, while launching mandatory testing of employees at companies from this week."

Read more:

Austria parliament approves mandatory Covid vaccination | France 24 - Alex Halada:

January 20, 2022 - "Austria's parliament on Thursday approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month, becoming the first European country to do so despite a wave of protests opposing the measure. Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country's vaccination rate. But all parties, except the far-right, supported the measure, with the new legislation passing with 137 votes in favour and 33 votes against it....

"To date 72 percent of Austrian residents have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus – in line with the European Union-wide average of just more than 70 percent.... 

"Under the new law, after an initial "introductory phase" those holding out against the jab can face fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,084) from mid-March. The government initially wanted to cover everyone aged 14 and older, but now the measure only applies to adults, except pregnant women and those with a medical exemption.

"The only significant opposition came from the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which has courted anti-vaccination voters. FPOe leader Herbert Kickl railed against the law in Thursday's charged parliamentary debate, claiming it 'paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria'. He vowed that he himself would continue to refuse vaccination in defiance of the new law."

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Plan B controls ending in England by month end

England rolling back COVID-19 restrictions, PM Boris Johnson says | CBC News:

January 19, 2022- "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of COVID-19 measures introduced to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in England.... Britain was the first country to limit international travel over the Omicron variant ... and in December introduced work-at-home advice, more mask-wearing and vaccine passes to slow its spread. But while cases soared to record highs, hospitalizations and deaths have not risen by the same extent, in part due to Britain's booster rollout and the variant's lesser severity.

Johnson speaking at press conference, July 2020. Wikimedia Commons 

"Johnson's approach to avoid lockdowns and live with the virus contrasts with a zero tolerance approach to COVID-19 in China and Hong Kong, and tougher restrictions in many other European countries. 'Many nations across Europe have endured further winter lockdowns ... but this government took a different path,' Johnson told lawmakers, saying the government had got the toughest decisions right and that numbers going into intensive care were falling.

'Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally ... because of the extraordinary booster campaign, together with the way the public have responded to the Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A.' Johnson said that none of the so-called Plan B measures would remain, as face masks would not be legally enforced anywhere, COVID passes would not be mandatory and advice to work from home would end.

"The bulk of the changes will take effect late next week, U.K. media outlets reported....

"The prime minister hopes to reset his agenda following furor over the lockdown gatherings at his office, which has some in his party plotting to remove him. Johnson admitted he attended a party in the garden of his Downing Street office and residence in May 2020 while social mixing was banned. The lifting of Plan B measures, along with Johnson's navigation of Omicron without resorting to a stringent lockdown, could help him appease vocal opponents of restrictions in his own caucus amid the party unrest.

"He said that if data supported it, he may end the legal requirement for people to self-isolate if they test positive before the regulation lapses in March. 'But to make that possible, we must all remain cautious during these last weeks of winter,' he said, warning of continued pressure on hospitals. '"The pandemic is not over."'

"A third of Britain's 15 million cases have been reported since the onset of Omicron. By contrast, Britain has reported five per cent of its COVID deaths since the variant was identified in late November."

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Covid lockdowns were a serious mistake, says UK's Lord Frost

Lord Frost: Covid lockdowns were a serious mistake – the Government needs to do ‘stuff that works’ | The Telegraph - Tony Diver:

January 13, 2022 - "Lord Frost has accused the Government of 'Covid theatre', as he called on Boris Johnson to scrap mask mandates and warned that the country will look back on lockdowns as a 'serious public policy mistake'.

"Instead of pursuing 'stuff that works' such as antiviral drugs and effective ventilation, Mr Johnson has locked down the country and restricted freedoms unnecessarily, the peer argued, as he called on ministers to rule out any prospect of a new lockdown and to consider a more diverse range of advice when making public health decisions.

"Speaking to this week’s episode of The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, which you can listen to [below - gd] ... Frost also said that the Government’s controversial net zero agenda had been 'rushed', and that technology receiving taxpayers’ money 'may not be the best way forward' but is 'increasing costs on individuals'. His opposition to many of the most significant policy decisions of the Prime Minister’s premiership will buoy Conservative backbenchers who have recently rebelled against the front bench on Covid measures and environmental policy.

"Lord Frost, who rose to prominence as an adviser to Mr Johnson in the Foreign Office before being handed a peerage for his leadership of the UK’s Brexit negotiating team, resigned dramatically days before Christmas over concerns about the Government’s 'direction of travel'. He told The Telegraph that coronavirus policy was the main reason for his departure from the Cabinet. 'That was the reason I resigned. That’s what took me out of the Government in December,' he said. 'I didn’t agree with the Plan B measures, masks, vaccine passports – that’s what forced me out.'

"The peer said that, when the pandemic is viewed in hindsight, the UK has 'come out relatively positively' but that lockdowns will be revealed to be an error. 'I think, honestly, people are going to look back at the last couple of years globally and see lockdown as a pretty serious public policy mistake,' he said.

“I would like to see the Government ruling out lockdowns for the future; repealing the legislation; ending them. We can’t afford it [and] it doesn’t work. Stop doing Covid theatre – vaccine passports, masks, stuff that doesn’t work – and focus on stuff that does work so that we’re ready if the next one is worse. Stuff like ventilation, antivirals, proper hospital capacity, managing it properly – that’s what we need to be focusing on going forward....

"'I’ve seen a fair bit of the material and I do think that there hasn’t been enough internal debate. There haven’t been enough voices challenging the epidemiologists. There hasn’t been enough of a voice of the economy in this, [or] an attempt to get to grips with the trade-offs. I have seen the Prime Minister kind of groping for that information and it not being there, and I think he’s not necessarily being well-served by everybody around him.'"

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

US states adding 3rd shot to Covid-vax mandates

New Mexico adds boosters to COVID-19 vaccine mandates | Las Cruces Sun-News - Algernon D'Ammassa:

December 2, 2021 - "Workers covered by existing COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New Mexico will be required to get booster shots as well, beginning in January. The state Department of Health on Thursday amended its public health order requiring workers at schools, hospitals and congregate care facilities and the governor's office to be vaccinated, adding the additional dose to existing requirements. The new order states that those workers must document full vaccination plus booster by Jan. 17 or within four weeks of being eligible for the booster, which comes six months after completing a primary course of vaccine. 

"If primary and booster vaccinations are not documented with their employer, the workers must present a negative COVID-19 test weekly and wear a mask indoors at all times except when eating or drinking. The health order allows for medical or religious exemptions, but still requires weekly testing and masking requirements in those cases.

"On Nov. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 'strengthened' its recommendation that all adults receive a boost to their COVID-19 vaccinations, six months after receiving Moderna or Pfizer's vaccines or two months after Johnson and Johnson. The booster doses were approved for adults last month by the Food and Drug Administration."
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New York mandating COVID booster shot for health care workers. What to know | Journal News - David Robinson:

January 2, 2022 - "Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced a COVID-19 booster shot mandate for health care workers in New York, citing the rising numbers of vaccine breakthrough infections caused by the omicron variant. The mandate, which is pending approval by a state Health Department panel on Tuesday, would require workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings to get the booster shot within two weeks of becoming eligible, Hochul said.... New York would become the first state in the country to mandate a booster shot for health care workers. There would be a medical exemption allowed, but religious exemptions would be barred, according to Hochul's media briefing in Manhattan.

"The booster mandate comes after New York implemented one of the nation's first vaccine mandates for health care workers on Sept. 27. New York's initial vaccine mandate led to about 34,000 health workers losing jobs or being placed on leave, reflecting a reduction of 3.5% of the workforce. The vaccine mandate worker losses intensified long-standing staffing shortages at many hospitals and nursing homes, a situation that has only gotten worse as the omicron variant surge shattered records for daily infections, including 82,000 cases on Thursday alone.... 

"Hochul asserted that mandating a booster shot for health care workers would have a limited impact on staffing shortages, citing how 92% of the health workforce complied with the initial vaccine mandate.... But the uptake of boosters among some health care workers has lagged behind the national averages for getting the additional doses in arms."
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January 17, 2022 - "Hawaii will require visitors to the state to have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster if they want to skip quarantine. Currently, under the rules of the state's 'Safe Travels' program, travelers who don't want to quarantine for five days must either be fully vaccinated -- meaning two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- or have a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel. [The change] means fully vaccinated travelers who haven't received a booster shot will have to quarantine in Hawaii for five days.

"Ige said changes to the program will not occur for at least two weeks so people traveling to Hawaii can adjust their plans accordingly.... Ige also said he was speaking with mayors and other local leaders about requiring booster shots to dine in restaurants and participate in other activities and events. However, he said he will leave that decision up to individual counties.

"Last month, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino revealed booster shots would be required for locals to be considered fully vaccinated. The rule was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 8 but was delayed until Jan. 24 so people have time to schedule booster shots, reported KHON 2.

"This move comes as the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced the Safe Travels program would be undergoing several changes, including reducing the mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated travelers without a negative COVID-19 test from 10 days to five days, in accordance with updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Additionally, visitors will no longer be required to fill out an online questionnaire 24 hours before arrival to receive a QR code."
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Monday, January 17, 2022

Thousands protest Covid controls in Europe

Thousands protest against France COVID vaccine pass | Al Jazeera:

January 15, 2022 - "Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across France to reject a law that would see the implementation of tighter restrictions on people not vaccinated against COVID-19, as Parliament continues to debate the draft bill. Thousands took part in demonstrations on Saturday.... In the capital, Paris, where the largest single gathering set off from near the Eiffel Tower, the protest was called by anti-EU presidential candidate Florian Philippot. Other protests harked back to the 'yellow vests' movement of 2018-19 ... and there were further gatherings in big cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lille.

"In Paris, demonstrators bore French and regional flags, with banners bearing messages like 'it’s not the virus they want to control, it’s you'.... Demonstrators were hoping to outstrip the 105,000 who hit the streets last weekend, some possibly mobilised by Macron’s declaration in a newspaper interview that he wanted to “p**s off” the unvaccinated with new restrictions"
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Thousands protest against Dutch COVID restrictions | Al Jazeera

January 16, 2022 - "Thousands of protesters have packed Amsterdam’s streets in opposition to the government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination campaign as virus infections hit a new record. Authorities were granted stop and search powers at several locations across the city and scores of riot police vans patrolled neighbourhoods where the demonstrators marched with banners and yellow umbrellas.

"Regular protests against COVID measures are held across the country and Sunday’s large gathering was joined by farmers who drove to the capital and parked tractors along the central Museum Square. The crowd played music, chanted anti-government slogans and then marched along thoroughfares, blocking traffic. Al Jazeera’s Step Vassen said while the mood at the rally was 'quite heated', the protests were peaceful. 'There’s a wide range of people against government measures and a general distrust of politics,' she said. 'A lot of people are now not obeying the rules and are violating many of the rules that are still in place'....

"The Netherlands had one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns for a month through the end-of-year holidays.... Rutte’s government ordered the lockdown in mid-December as a wave of the Delta variant forced the health system to cancel all but the most urgent care...."Non-essential stores, hairdressers, beauty salons and other service providers were allowed to reopen on Saturday under strict conditions. Bars, restaurants and cultural venues have been instructed to remain closed until at least January 25."
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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Donald Trump and the lockdowns

Trump, Covid, and Despotism | American Institute for Economic Research - Donald J. Boudreaux: 

Donald Trump announces "15 days to slow the spread," Mar. 16, 2020. Wikimedia Commons

December 22, 2012 - "I continue to be at a loss to explain the support of so many people for – and the silence of so many other people in the face of – Covidocratic tyranny. When at a loss to explain, one naturally experiments with possibilities. Here’s one possibility for the U.S. experience: Some of the people who support Covid restrictions, or who see in them nothing ominous, are blinded by a fear greater than their fear of Covid-19. This greater fear is that of being thought by others, and by themselves, to be insufficiently hostile to Donald Trump and Trumpism. 

"Because state governments that imposed only relatively light Covid restrictions were more likely to be red than blue, and because the mainstream narrative from early on cast Trump with the anti-lockdowners, many people with antipathy to Trump apparently concluded that lockdowns and other Covid restrictions are acceptable for the simple reason that these measures are opposed by Trump and his base. The thinking seems to have been this: To be pro-Trump is to be anti-science, therefore, to be anti-Trump is to be pro-science. And to be pro-science specifically is to be pro-Fauci, Birx, CNN, and the New York Times, because these persons and media are anti-Trump. 

"People reached this conclusion without much investigation of the realities of Covid restrictions, or of Trump’s actual role in affecting a response. Careful investigation of the governments’ responses reveals that these were, and remain, dangerously disproportionate to the dangers posed by Covid. As for Trump, he played a key role in implementing lockdowns. Reviewing Scott Atlas’s new book, A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America, John Tierney writes: 

 But Atlas lays the ultimate blame for the lockdowns – 'a crime against humanity' – on Trump himself, because he allowed [Dr. Deborah] Birx and her allies to remain in charge. 'This president, widely known for his signature "You’re fired!" declaration, was misled by his closest political intimates,' Atlas writes. 'All for fear of what was inevitable anyway – skewering from an already hostile media.' 

"No matter. It seems that starting in Spring 2020 hordes of people, many of whom would otherwise have protested the horrifying expansion of government powers and the tasering of civilization, either vocally or silently supported Covid restrictions, convinced that these restrictions were wise and justified, or at least tolerable, because these were thought to be opposed by Trump and his base.

"Whatever were (and are) the dangers to civilization posed by Trump and his supporters, these dangers are less extreme than are the dangers posed to civilization by supporters of lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and many other Covid restrictions. Covidocratic tyranny is no more justified by science than are any of the wrongheaded notions peddled by Trumpians, yet the consequences of Covidocratic tyranny are far more ominous than are the likely consequences of any policies that can reasonably be supposed to come to pass from Trump & Co. ...

"[O]ne of the differences between supporters of Covidocratic rule and Trumpians is that the former have stronger footholds in institutions traditionally associated with science and a more virulent will to control, or even to 'recreate,' society.... Yet because progressives, unlike Trumpians, are presumed by the intelligentsia to be well-intentioned, highly informed, and objective – and because social-engineering schemes conform with sacred superstitions – progressives’ policy demands are widely perceived as appropriate. These sacred superstitions hold that society is either inert or destructively chaotic to the extent that ordinary men, women, and children aren’t coercively prescribed and proscribed in fine detail by the progressive state....

"Starting even before Trump’s presidency, readers of my blog, Café Hayek, found harsh criticisms of Trump, especially on the two policy issues about which he seems to care the most: trade and immigration. Trump’s demeanor is appalling, his ignorance formidable, his megalomania insufferable, and his venality vast. And because, as Scott Atlas reports, Trump foolishly acquiesced to Fauci and Birx’s 'crime against humanity,' Trump bears much of the blame for America’s overreaction to Covid.

"Yet as much as I fear Trump and the nationalist-right’s assault on liberal values, I now fear even more the rising authoritarianism in response to Covid. The fact that most supporters of today’s Covid authoritarianism are also opponents of Trump does not render this authoritarianism acceptable. Today’s situation is all the more dangerous precisely because those now running the show, compared to Trump (who, let’s not forget, is no longer in power), seem to many people to be well-intentioned and guided by 'the science.'"

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Jordan Peterson: Open Canada before we wreck it

Open the damn country back up, before Canadians wreck something we can’t fix | National Post - Jordan Peterson:

January 10, 2022 - "Like so many Canadians, I have been unable to see many of the people I love ... for nearly two years. Lockdowns. Restrictions. Limits on personal and social gatherings.... But everything had opened enough, in principle, so flights for such purposes were — in principle — once again possible. My wife and I therefore took the opportunity on the last day of 2021 to fly first to Comox, British Columbia, and then, several days later, to our joint hometown of Fairview, Alberta. However, the airline we had arranged our flights with cancelled/delayed all six flights we had scheduled.... We were delayed by one full day travelling to British Columbia, and then another day travelling to Alberta (and there were further delays on our way home to Toronto). This took quite a chunk out of an eight-day trip. All this from an airline that not so long ago was a model of efficiency.

"Like most people in Canada, and in the broader Western world, my wife and I are accustomed to systems that work. When we booked flights in the past, with rare exceptions, we arrived safely and on time. When we used our banking systems, online, we gained access to our accounts..... And, because we were spoiled Westerners, we expected that such would always and consistently be the case. Why? Because, by and large, our systems worked. Miraculously well. The power (and the heat — it’s forty below here in northern Alberta, and has been for three weeks) always worked. Planes took off and landed on time. Banks were open and effective and honest.

"But there are empty shelves in the grocery stores here in Fairview. The supply chain that provides our food — just in time — [is] severely stressed. While I was here, I spoke with a local restaurateur who operates the pizza place I worked in forty years ago. She is barely hanging on. This is true of most local businesses.

"I was on the phone for three hours trying to sort out a minor banking issue, after being delayed for a full day while flying, after having been delayed in a similar way only four days before. And, because I am an entitled Westerner, accustomed to my privileges, I got whiny about it. I have a banker that takes care of my affairs, and I sent him and his associate a string of complaints about the service I was receiving. They wrote back, apologetically, and told me that they’re barely able to function with the COVID restrictions, the attendant staff shortages (also caused by illness) and their inability to attract new employees — a problem besetting many industries at the moment.... The letter from the bank stopped me and made me think.... It wasn’t just the bank. It was also the airline. It was the empty shelves in the grocery store in northern Alberta.... It was the shopkeepers and small business-people I have spoken with on this trip.

"We are pushing the complex systems upon which we depend and which are miraculously effective and efficient in their often thankless operation to their breaking point. Can you think of anything more unlikely than the fact that we can get instant trouble-free access to our money online, using systems that are virtually graft- and corruption-free?... Can you think of anything more unlikely than fast, reliable and inexpensive jet air travel, nationally and internationally, in absolute safety? Or the constant provision of almost every consumer good imaginable, in the midst of plentiful, varied and inexpensive food?

"These systems are now shaking. We’re compromising them seriously with this unending and unpredictable stream of restrictions, lockdowns, regulations and curfews. We’re also undermining our entire monetary system, with the provision of unending largesse from government coffers, to ease the stress of the COVID response. We’re playing with fire. We’ve demolished two Christmas seasons in a row. Life is short. These are rare occasions. We’re stopping kids from attending school. We’re sowing mistrust in our institutions in a seriously dangerous manner. We’re frightening people to make them comply. We’re producing bureaucratic institutions that hypothetically hold public health in the highest regard, but subordinating all our properly political institutions to that end, because we lack leadership, and rely on ultimately unreliable opinion polls to govern broadscale political policy. I’ve never seen breakdown in institutional trust on this scale before in my lifetime.... 

"I have spoken with senior advisors to provincial governments in Canada. There is no end game in sight. The idea that Canadian policy is or should be governed 'by the science' is not only not true, it’s also not possible, as there is no simple pathway from the facts of science to the complexities of policy. We are deciding, by opinion poll, to live in fear, and to become increasingly authoritarian in response to that fear. That’s a danger, too, and it’s increasingly real. How long are we going to flail about, hiding behind our masks, afraid to send our children (who are in no danger more serious than risk of the flu) to school, charging university students full tuition for tenth-rate online 'education,' pitting family member against family member over vaccine policy and, most seriously, compromising the great economic engine upon which our health also depends?...

"Enough, Canadians. Enough, Canadian politicos. Enough masks. Enough social gathering limitations. Enough restaurant closures. Enough undermining of social trust. Make the bloody vaccines available to those who want them. Quit using force to ensure compliance on the part of those who don’t. Some of the latter might be crazy but, by and large, they are no crazier than the rest of us. 

"Set a date. Open the damn country back up, before we wreck something we can’t fix."

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Photo: National Post