Covid Journal, April 9, 2020

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I remember as a kid watching Cecil B Demille’s Ten Commandments. We visited family and it was what the kids would do.

Stay down int he basement and be terrified when the greenish, glowy hand of death crept across Egypt and killed all first born.

Passover in the Biblical sense almost seems too real now, with people hiding indoors hoping to escape the Covid hand of death.

Will we be liberated after this passes or will we just continue to suffer, cursed to wander in a desert of unreal, uncertain times.

Despite the tone of previous entries, I’m optimistic.

Despite the buckets of cash being delivered to billionaires that don’t need it and continued apprehension to pay grocery workers, nurses, garbage collectors and other essential service workers decent wages and benefits, we’ll figure out how to take the high road.

I’m prone to conspiracy, but ultimately, I find myself prone to profound optimism as well as we guide ourselves through these strange times.

What we do in the coming weeks to establish a ‘new normal’ will define our lives but also the lives of generations to come.

What direction do we want to take?

I wish you all the very best this weekend as our lives get closer as we find new ways to distance ourselves.

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Covid Journal, April 8, 2020

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Who’s right? Who can be trusted with guidance and leadership when it comes to how we need to react to Covid and how to treat it? Should it be someone that doesn’t have a stake in companies that stand to profit from solutions or leaders that stand at a distance?

Donald Trump as Covid Covfefe

For the record, I don’t know what’s true or not, but there are several stories evolving as the days go by and they seem to be pointing to some VERY SERIOUS conflicts of interest being orchestrated and perpetuated by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Exhibit A: President Donald Trump reportedly owns a stake in a company that produces hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has repeatedly touted as a coronavirus treatment even though his experts say there’s no strong evidence it works. Fund companies that manage his accounts also have significant holdings on the company that produces hydroxychloroquine.

Exhibit B: Pence and Trump are pushing for massive trials of the drug at different locations around the US.

The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine will be used in a trial covering 3,000 patients at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and the results will be tracked in a formal study, said US Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence told a White House briefing on Sunday that they were “more than prepared” to make hydroxychloroquine available to doctors’ offices and pharmacies in the Detroit area, reports Xinhua news agency.

President Donald Trump said the federal government has stockpiled 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine.

Donald Trump can’t organize a few hundred thousand masks without causing an international trade war, but he’s been stockpiling a drug produced by a company he has a stake in. WTF?

Exhibit C: Trump’s response to Covid borders on criminal and he replaced the Pandemic Response Team with Jared Kushner.

Exhibit D: Novartis, a manufacturer of a , paid $1 million to Michael Cohen (yes, that Michael Cohen) for ‘access’ to Donald Trump in 2016. It begs the question: how long has this been building up and is Donald Trump’s fumbling of Covid just a big ruse to get us all rushing to buy an expensive treatment that may or may not work? Or that may kill more of us than Covid might? Novartis, to their credit, have reportedly donated 130 million doses of this treatment, but the effectiveness is still unproven. How has Trump responded?

Exhibit E: The Food and Drug Administration of the US has NOT approved hydroxychloroquine for treatment of Covid-19. Other fact check details here.

Exhibit F: Donald Trump accuses the World Health Organization (WHO) of being ‘pro-China’ despite the fact that the US gives it funding. He threatens to pull funding from the WHO. And then denies saying that within moments of saying it.

SMH. Here’s the exchange:

Trump: We’re just going to take a look at it. You know, we fund it. And they seem to be — you know, I said recently in social media, I said they seem to be very China-centric. That’s a nice way of saying it. But they seem to be very China-centric. And they seem to err always on the side of China. And we fund it, you know, so I want to look into it.

Reporter: A quick follow-up on that. So is the time to freeze funding to the WHO during a pandemic of this magnitude?

Trump: No, maybe not. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it.

Reporter: You did say that you were —

Trump: No, I didn’t. I said we’re going to look at it. We’re going to investigate it. We’re going to look at it. But we will look at ending funding. Yeah. Because you know what? They called it wrong. And if you look back over the years even, they’re very much — everything seems to be very biased toward China. That’s not right.

To be honest, there are conflicting details concerning this story. The WHO does seem to have made a number of mis-steps along the way and has made it easy for critics like Trump to tear them to shreds.

Discussion: if it can be demonstrated that Donald Trump has gained financially from his stake in any company related to the production, sale or distribution of any treatment of Covid-19, especially to the US government, he should be sent to jail for a blatant conflict of interest. It looks like Pence should be as well, as he is pushing this treatment in places like New York and Michigan.

How do we get some truth concerning all of these stories or are we at risk of pointing the finger at everyone as opposed to asking the right questions and delivering the right answers? How do we all work together on this in a way that will get us out of lockdown?

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Covid Journal, April 7, 2020 – New Rules Edition

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The newspaper folks in Canada are clamouring for bailouts (despite the fact that just 5 execs kept 70% of bailout money for themselves), as are the oil producers, largely in Alberta.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun calls out Andrew Scheer for being a douche. What?!?!?

And other writers and publications are calling out Trump … basically as a failure.

Oddly enough, I see good news in some of these pieces because a few important people are asking honest questions about different levels of leadership.

Today’s edition from me? I’m going to start skecthing out some ‘new rules’ that are just ideas only … so please don’t get in a rage … but thoughts that try to capture what we’ve observed and hopefully learned from all of this:

  • A universal guaranteed income.
  • A complete overhaul of our relations with Canada’s First Nations. I don’t have an answer here, but we have an OBLIGATION to ensure that they all at LEAST have clean, running water and reasonably priced food.
  • A radically simplified tax system that ultimately prevents billionaires from skipping out on their share. All Canadians pay in if they want to live, function and, most importantly, do business here.
  • Full transparency with any company that does business with any level of government. Don’t like that? Don’t do business with the government. If you take money from the public in exchange for services, any member of the public has a right to audit your numbers.
  • For that matter, we need to integrate coops more completely in our society. More means of production need to be owned by local people as opposed to shareholders that just don’t give a shit. Not quite full-fledged Communism, thanks, but certainly something that we need to offer as a REAL option for viable, long-term economic activity. All governments and the people of Canada should take the value of coops VERY seriously.
  • In order to be better prepared future crises, we need a national strategic manufacturing plan and stockpiling of essential gear.
  • Every Canadian will now be required to log a minimum 1 year of volunteer service with an approved organization. Religion won’t count.
  • For education, we need to put an end to separate school boards. All children and students receiving public education should be treated as equals.
  • Teachers have the upper hand after all of this, as do nurses, EMT workers, correctional officers, police officers, grocery workers, truckers, and so on. Even artists deserve more than they are getting now. We need to understand that and find a way to bring a better balance to their lives.
  • WIth education, we need to return to teaching all students (even many adults) about the necessities of life and how to be independent of mass chains that only think about the giant cash vacuum. Basic skills like nutrition, health / physical studies, growing food all year round, preserving food, balancing a chequebook, paying your bills, making food for now and for storage and so on. Not so much prepper-type stuff, but pretty darn close!
  • Education for strategic trades should be free or nearly free. Same for additional training for establishing and operating your own business.
  • Our provincial governments need to get out of the alcohol and drug business and into the counseling, therapy and social remediation business. Anyone that wants a license to sell alcohol and drugs, can do so, but has to pay a $1,000,000 per year licensing fee plus additional ‘sin’ taxes.
  • An end to the Beer Store and LCBO.
  • Bottles and recyclables can either be handled by private companies that pay individuals for their returns, so long as they have a plan for 100% re-use of said products or a plan for elimination of said products.
  • Ban casinos.
  • We need to decriminalize drug possession but require treatment for abuse of specific addictive products.
  • Require that voting at all levels be mandatory. Failure to vote will result in a financial penalty and possible social services requirement.
  • A cap on all credit card interest rates, preferably at 10%. Those that don’t pay need to log time with debt counselors and integrate their financials with an authority that will help them move away from usury-like payments.
  • A national plan describing food and water infrastructure as ‘essential’, thereby banning any extraction of water for use other than public service. Any existing contracts with companies like Nestle or Coke would require a ‘temporary’ (but permanent) surtax of $1.00 per 100ml of water extracted from Canadian sources and a $1.00 per bottle recycling fee chargeable to the company selling said product. Part of the national food/water plan would include storage of food for emergency situations and stockpiling for other needy countries.
  • A tax on properties held by religious organizations.
  • Other plastics would be required to face similar charges. A national ‘plastics plan’ would require all sales / distribution / use of plastic to be a part of a national plan to ensure plastic is 100% recyclable or can be incinerated without any chemical byproduct. A national entity would be created to manage and oversee the recycling and manufacturing of products from recycled plastics.
  • A new energy infrastructure. One that calls for investments in renewable energy ONLY and a ban on any level of government supporting carbon-producing businesses. The creation of recharging stations every 20 kilometres (at the outset, every 5 kilometres within 5 years) to ensure that there is adequate charging capability everywhere. A return to cash-for-cars exchange programs that allow owners of ‘regular’ gas-burning cars to exchange their vehicles for electric cars. Battery swap programs. Purchase of auto manufacturing facilities on Canadian soil for the express purpose of building electric cars (partners wanted).
  • New national standards for municipal building codes, including 100% off-grid homes as new homes and retrofits for existing homes. 100% grant for the installation of home-based electricity car chargers. Unspecified grants or interest-free loans to commercial real estate owners for installaton of chargers.
  • Additional local code requirements: no deserts of pavement for car parking when garages and online ordering will do. Mandatory parking fees applied for all non-core / downtown retail and commercial parking locations.
  • Jail time for anyone that poached threatened or endangered animal and biological species.
  • Any bailouts of companies? WE (as in Canada) own it. 100%. No share buybacks, no special bonuses, no dividends, no interest payments. WE own everything associated with the company being bought and WE decide on how that company gets to continue, if it exists at all. Any company that was publicly traded would be delisted and a portion of ownership would be distributed to the current employees, with the government of Canada (or local government) maintaining a permanent majority stake.
  • Full transparency on real estate deals. Questionable tactics and lack of information is resulting in hyper-inflated markets.
  • Retooling Canada Post to focus on shipping for small businesses (and charge substantially more for direct mail)
  • Victory Gardens with existing and new lawns
  • Ownership and recall of ALL personal data (as opposed to the current perma-share with companies)
  • Change to municipal planning to account for future building (pre-install mass transit lanes before they’re needed

I know … the list could go on and on, but I think the goal here is to establish some permanent guidelines by which we all have to operate from.

And now the biggest question: assuming we all agree on some of these ‘new rules’, how do we make them stick?

Some people argue that special interest and the almighty buck will get in the way of these good ideas and, to be honest, I’m kind of OK with getting back to a system where that might become the practice again.

The problem is … is it really that ‘special interest’ when most people are indoors, scared for their BASIC needs and mad at people that are flaunting the rules, to the point where imprisonment seems like the only option (and general consensus)? Is ‘special interest’ even an option any more so long as we’re all basically subject to Martial Law because of a virus?

One thing I know: we’re just printing hundreds of billions now and a LOT is winding up in pockets that don’t need it. The Westons and the Sobeys and the Pattisons can all go and get stuffed. Trickle down is a fail. I’m ok to talk about a few ideas that might benefit all of us instead of just a few.

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Covid Journal, April 6, 2020

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Apparently, ‘our’ media needs ‘our’ help.

The Toronto Star (a publicly traded company) is calling on politicians with dire cries of extinction if they don’t get government subsidies to continue in a world of the internet.

The Star in particular has mounted a failed assault against consumer pocketbooks by tossing up a paywall for the last few years, preventing any sharing of content and therefore and potential expanded interaction (and therefore advertising) as a result of inability to share stories.

Many other ‘Canadian’ publications are in the same boat and the noisiest ones are those related to the Sun Media chain, a conglomerate controlled by an American venture company.

So you’re on the ropes.

Just to help a little with your research, I’ll remind you that EVERYONE is on the ropes right now.

Exploiting this moment of crisis for more public handouts isn’t something the citizens of Canada should feel obligated to support.

Of course, for just $21 million, maybe the Canadian government SHOULD buy out the Toronto Star and own a national news publication to partner with the CBC.

I’d be OK with that so long as we allowed a number of conditions:

  • delisting as a publicly traded stock
  • NO payouts or buyouts to shareholders, including bonuses, dividends or debt payments
  • Sell all non-essential business assets, including the building at the corner of Front/Yonge (probably worth an estimated $200 million)
  • Integrate news/information stories with the CBC but also allow for a massive injection of content from truly local sources
  • TRUE investigative journalism to start again in this country

If you want the public to fund you, the public will have to have a say in how you do business.

The bigger picture? Nearly every media outlet in the US (and by extension, global influence) has some degree of Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) ‘guidance’. Check out this investigative piece here.

In other news, the threat of SEVERE penalties is on the rise, including the risk of up to ONE YEAR in prison for breaching social distancing requirements.

Are you sure this isn’t a state of Martial Law yet?

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Covid Journal, April 5, 2020

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Donald Trump continues to prove that he’s a villian to the planet.

He’s trying to get 3M to cut off sales / supply of N95 masks to everyone but the US.

He’ll likely provoke a trade war in the process, resulting in some very challenging times for American partners, especially Canada.

Which is why it’s more important than ever to get our house in order and prepare for the gates to close, so to speak.

We need to start imposing a minimum $1.00 per bottle of water that’s stolen from the ground from companies like Nestle or Coke. To be honest, I’d prefer something a little more radical like a $10 surtax per bottle, subject to different size requirements (bigger containers = bigger tax).

We also need to get the rest of our food network under control QUICKLY. As all of us know Canada has a short growing season, so it’s up to us to invest in, install and grow from our own ‘Victory Gardens’ so that we don’t all starve.

It’s really a good thing. The United States has lost the respect of all major (and minor) global players, so continuing a relationship of reliance is not a good way to go for Canada.

In other news, it looks like Google (and probably others) will begin snitching on all citizens who are under lockdown / Martial Law (which is roughly half the planet). People will have to shut off and leave their phones behind if they just want to get some fucking fresh air.

Thanks Google. Do no evil, my ass.

The good news in all of this?

The Washington Post has identified Trump as the worst President. EVER.

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