Covid Journal, April 2, 2020 (Britney Edition)

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Rabble.ca is keeping it real (and I’m keeping the volume light today).

In an article published yesterday on their site, they referred to how Britney Spears is basically calling for something that approximates revolution. The hastags #generalstrike and #notdying4wallstreet are both trending and point to a growing likelihood that Americans just aren’t going to stand for Donald Trump’s ineptitude much longer.

Spears Instagram

If this happens, it will most likely result in some kind of civil war.

Get the popcorn out folks. It’s going to be a long ride.

We’re being much more polite in Canada. We’re seeing reminders about how to treat grocery store workers when we pick up our sundries and I actually found an article today on the CBC that asks what most people are going to be asking more often in the coming weeks: will any of our leaders start being honest about how long this will last?

Translation: don’t blame the people caught in the middle that are just trying to help out. Give them a hand and praise them if you can. Buy them a lottery ticket. Give them a gift card. I’m still waiting to see Galen Weston or the Sobey family hit the front line. When they do, I’ll be 100% reassured that this isn’t some kind of absurd class warfare.

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Covid Journal, April 1, 2020

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Canada’s (April) Fool

I’m going to start with Alberta and particularly, Jason Kenney, for taking claim to the April Fool award by proceeding in two ridiculous directions:

Alberta is a failed state. They won’t be able to implement a sales tax to pay for their basics and they certainly won’t be able to back out of the reductions in taxes, royalties and other financial benefits of extracting bitumen or other resources in their province.

Jason Kenney is really just the peak of a long line of absurdity afflicting Alberta, following in the path of decades of mismanagement and waste.

Albertans that opposed the first Trudeau and suggestions of nationalizing oil like other smart countries did (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, etc) are now feeling the sting of lots of cost without any source of revenue.

They’ll continue to cut without a plan for the future. I have friends who live there and I’m starting to feel bad for them because the Canada’s Titanic is sinking.

Other Covid Updates …

Capitalists make great socialists when they lose a week of cash flow. They bitch and moan about people on the street not taking jobs because wages aren’t high enough or how new moms need to get back to work because maternity (or parental) leave is too generous.

But cut off the cash flow and capitalist cry babies are the first ones shoving everyone else out of the line for government and public funds.

Consider the absurd $2 TRILLION dollar handout that’s just been approved by the Trump Admin and that will start lining the pockets of billionaires everywhere.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is descending into Martial Law. No one is calling out our governments as they clamp down on ‘hazardous’ activities.

This is a very sad moment for all humanity.

Hungary seems to be the most extreme example, with absolute rule brought about by decree and termination of the Parliament, pretty much indefinitely. The EU or other governments have yet to respond to the situation, not inspiring a lot of confidence about their intent for the rest of us.

The rule of law still exists in Canada, but for how long? Snitches are everywhere, people out for a walk are being outed on social media and our governments are instituting massive fines for breach of state of emergency requirements. Even Washington, DC is in complete shut down. Rumour has it that up to 24,000 Canadian troops are ready to be ordered to enforce self-isolation requirements.

John Tory in Toronto has ‘requested’ people to only leave their homes once a week to get essentials for groceries, etc. How is he going to track this? Are we going to get ID’d every time we go out, with our names going into a database of ‘permission slips’?

For the record, I desparately want to be wrong about all of my concerns, but everything I’m hearing sounds like Martial Law to me.

Covid Trojan Horse

Anyone care to push back amid the climate of fear of Covid? I didn’t think so.

One op-ed with the CBC opened up the question about the balance of civil liberties, our Constitution and emergency response. While the author asked valid questions about the state of affairs, he also did a good job of warming us to the idea that house arrest will be pretty much indefinite from now on.

I think this is going to last until at least June (if it ends), but it’s also going to get very ugly as people struggle to exist within the confines of their homes. Domestic abuse, boredom, alcoholism, health issues like lack of exercise, drug addiction, ageism and other issues will continue onwards without any element of civility.

Good News / Good Ideas?

Thankfully, despite my pessimism, there seems to be brief points of light around us. There’s news of chefs around the world ‘springing into action’ to help people with food delivery, helping farmers and offering online cooking classes. People everywhere are making hand-sewn masks by the thousands for emergency personnel. Most people, generally speaking, are behaving relatively calmly, despite the potential for panic.

The idea of ‘Victory Gardens’ is taking hold around the world, certainly in response to the simple truth that our global food chain is collapsing quickly. You can even take a free Master Gardener course from Oregon State University.

Another cause for hope? MANY people are talking about the future in a VERY positive way. For example, David Suzuki sees this as a very genuine opportunity to point ourselves in a new direction.

WE CAN DO IT.

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Covid Journal, March 30, 2020

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In Canada, we’re almost into 2 full weeks of self-isolation. It’s going as well as it could, but as some people have pointed out, it’s something that we in the ‘west’ have as a privilege. Others in countries like India and China are confirned to tight spaces and crammed into corners that many of us would shrink away from.

We will discover that – if there is truth to the severity of this virus – our chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

If we learn that lesson, we might have a chance to think about humanity as a single entity as opposed to the Ayn Rand BS of individualism.

(For the record, I’m not expressing a desire for either extreme.)

As our economies across the globe collapse, we have to consider the basics according to Maslow’s pyramid or hierarchy of needs:
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - RE: Write - Medium

Providing the base is what every government on the planet should be focused on right now: food, water, warmth (electricity) and rest.

I’ve heard very little from our politicians about how they will keep the food chain safe and I hate to admit this, but the masses were right when they panicked and tried to scoop up what they could as governments ‘eased’ us into Martial Law, er, ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’.

That’s why a story like this has me concerned. How long will our food chain last before waves of panic overtake the public again and the military has to come in to control crowds and dictate what people can buy for themselves and their families?

  • Large-scale lockdowns to contain the coronavirus outbreak have hurt the supply of manpower and disrupted supply chains in the agriculture industry.
  • The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said the world risks a “looming food crisis” unless measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the food system.
  • As of now, disruptions are minimal as food supplies have been adequate. But price spikes are more likely for higher value products like meat and perishable commodities rather than for major staples which are still in adequate supply, said the FAO.

Among the major crop producing countries that have implemented export restrictions are Vietnam, which has curbed rice exports and Russia, which has halted processed grain exports. Kazakhstan has also suspended exports of wheat flour, buckwheat, sugar, sunflower oil, and some vegetables

Such moves could lead to an acceleration of food price inflation during a time when consumers are concerned about lockdowns and have created their own stockpiles at home

We’re already seeing some tough talk about poachers and profiteers, but why is it not acceptable when we simply want to have an extra bottle of bleach on hand or a bag of beans in storage when pharma companies and other private enterprises do it all the time behind closed doors? I’ve asked those questions before when it comes to things like vaccinations – what do we pay and who do we pay it to? – with few answers available.

On a bigger picture level, why was it acceptable being held hostage to OPEC for the last 40 years when we had the means to implement a network of renewable energy programs, making us independent from the oil barrons?

And when a Covid vaccine comes along, what kind of generosity are we going to see from the developers of said vaccine? Or will they just haul in a trillion dollars like it’s just another day at the office?

Let’s get back to food. Let’s ask these questions about our food chain that we can solve within the next few months so that Canadians won’t be held hostage to shortages, profiteers and market manipulation:

  • Seed program – how are we capturing, storing and germenating seeds for our food?
  • Products: what products can we grow all year round vs seasonal?
  • What specific foods will we have to get used to and what will be a luxury?
  • Rules: how are municipalities going to adapt to allow for different growing activities and people wanting to convert lawns and other potential growing areas into ‘Victory Gardens’ (ie. food we all grow ourselves to increase our independence)
  • Charities: if we grow any excess amounts, how are we able to donate products to charities?
  • Harvesting: why do we continue with imported temporary labour as part of our food network when this chain may break given embargoes and issues with migration? Why aren’t we training a generation of unemployed to help with seasonal activities?
  • Storage: how are we teaching ourselves and the next generation to prepare, preserve and store food products safely and securely so that we can break the chain of dependence.

So many more questions … and opportunities. We need to immediately and urgently think of ways that we can gain control over our food system again.

I’m all continuing to get mangos from different parts of the world 365 days a year, but at what point do we have to look at what we can grow ourselves?

Final thoughts on food and water: Canada is home to more than 20% of the world’s fresh water. What are we doing to prevent companies like Nestle from scooping it up and selling it off in millions of plastic bottles? Isn’t it time we started treating water like it was our most valuable resource?

Other News and Updates

Does Denmark have the right idea? They are restructuring their economy in response to Covid, including buying out companies that can’t pay employees and taking ownership of the wheels that drive their system. I would think (or hope) that certain conditions would be applied to the support provided.

Jeff Bezos and many other billionaires have been caught selling short their shares of various companies. I know when I have to make a few purchases, Amazon will no longer be on that list. Meanwhile, Tim Boyle, lead executive of Columbia Sportswear, has taken a massive pay cut to provide for funding for his 3,500 retail employees that are going to suffer over the next couple of months.

In Donald Trump’s recent press gathering, it became apparent that he’s not handling the stress well and that the GOP may lose everything in November, despite the ridiculous polls showing the contrary.

Here are just a few notes from his meeting yesterday:

  • He repeatedly accused nurses and leaders of different states of hoarding or stealing face masks and hospitals of hoarding vetilators. He also blems Obama for these shortages.
  • He’s backpeddling on his outrageous target of getting Americans back into churches by Easter – now predicting millions in the US will die
  • He starts talking about generators, not ventilators, for New York. Incorrectly.
  • Trump is ignoring inequity in distribution – Florida getting more, Massacheusetts getting less. His opinion on governors vary from the idea that they’re happpy to the issue that none are happy. Inconsistency to the extreme.
  • He goes on to blame Obama for cancelling tests for viruses. Tests that were started a mere three months ago. And cancelled by the Trump administration.
  • A reporter quotes Trump’s statements from moments before and Trump accuses that reporter of lying. The reporter was literally quoting Trump.

Sigh … the fate of the Western world hangs in the balance and on the words of a madman. What are we supposed to do?

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Covid Journal, March 28, 2020 (Snitch line edition)

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It was inevitable that snitch lines would start to materialize. London, Ontario is the first I’ve come across, but there will be many more.

At first, people will try to tow the line and be legit about their complaints and observations, but I’m sure it will quickly spiral out of control, where neighbours will complain about the other neighbour that they had a spat about when they installed a new fence or didn’t use the right lawn maintenance service. Or didn’t clip their dandelions in time.

It’ll get ugly.

And that makes me sad.

Our society deserves better than this.

I would love to say I’m not surprised, but I’m also concerned with the growing ng fear being pushed by the media.

Ageism, demographic targeting, scaremongering etc will continue to drive people into their homes and become more anti-social as they socially distance from the world.

As our ‘social’ situation devolves – snitch lines, alienation, Martial Law – it will take nothing more than a snap of the fingers to bring about complete autocratic domination of our lives.

What’s next? Will black trucks show up in the middle of the night at the doors of dissenters and they disappear right under our watch?

Please tell me I’m wrong. Please, please, please tell me this is just a hyper version of a flu bug and we have nothing to worry about.

Some good news to go with this plea: Wuhan, China will be lifting its 2-month lockdown.

Let’s lighten the mood with a game: after the Black Plague, inheritance laws evolved. After 19th c cholera epidemics, sewers were built in Paris and London. What do you predict will be the lasting outcome of this epidemic?

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Covid Journal, March 27, 2020 (Donald Trump, or ‘Uncle Sham’) Edition

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I suppose I’d better not do anything to offend Uncle Sham, aka Donald Trump, as he sends US troops to the Canadian border (BTW, this has been confirmed by Chrystia Freeland as untrue).

WTF?

What an arse for even entertaining the idea for a heartbeat. We are partners in this and it’s embarrassing to his legacy that he’s doing something some profoundly antagonistic.

Before it got called off, was Canada going to be the next Crimea or should we just laugh at how absurd this situation has become?

Should Canadians be worried that it still might happen?
You tell me … is this something worth being concerned about?
Maybe it’s just a big distraction from this, the absolute worse jobless claims in US history … and it’s going to get even more dire …
image.png
Those record numbers of unemployed will quickly surpass the population of Canada. Nothing like a ‘make work’ project such as invading a neighbouring country to keep people off the streets!
In other news …
Some very official sources (including Canada’s Globe and Mail) are actually questioning the numbers concerning Covid, making me feel relieved and concerned at the same time.
Twelve leading epidemioligists and physicians around the globe have started to question the insanity concerning the demands for an international lockdown.
Example: Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician specialising in Pulmonology, politician and former chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In 2009 he called for an inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest surrounding the EU response to the Swine Flu pandemic. He has this to say:

Politicians are being courted by scientists…scientists who want to be important to get money for their institutions. Scientists who just swim along in the mainstream and want their part of it […] And what is missing right now is a rational way of looking at things.

We should be asking questions like “How did you find out this virus was dangerous?”, “How was it before?”, “Didn’t we have the same thing last year?”, “Is it even something new?”

That’s missing.

And in reference to the Globe editorial:

Is COVID-19 a global crisis? Certainly for people who can’t add.

… I pay close attention to the daily situation reports issued by the World Health Organization, particularly the new cases and the new deaths. I pay no attention to the various pundits and talking heads, because they are always wrong.

The information in the WHO reports is not perfect for many reasons, some technical and some political. Deaths are a more reliable measure, but deaths lag weeks behind the real outbreak. However, WHO is the best information we have, and it’s getting more complete and more reliable. And, as was the case with SARS, it paints a compelling picture.

The WHO started issuing daily situation reports on Jan. 21, six weeks ago. Initially, the numbers matched the perceptions: The new cases and new deaths, almost all from Hubei province, increased rapidly. Then, in the first week in February, the rate of new cases peaked at 4,083. Deaths peaked on Feb. 13, at 254. Then the number of daily cases dropped down quickly toward the end of February.

That’s because the Hubei outbreak peaked in late January. Indeed, it’s almost over.

Around the beginning of March, the number of new cases rose again because of outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran. These outbreaks are smaller than the one that happened in Hubei. For the past week, the daily statistics have averaged fewer than 3,000 new cases and about 100 deaths worldwide.

Over the past month, the geography of COVID-19 has changed, but the global numbers have, if anything, become smaller. By the numbers, this is The Incredible Shrinking Pandemic. 

But we also need to be sensible. Quarantine belongs back in the Middle Ages. Save your masks for robbing banks. Stay calm and carry on. Let’s not make our attempted cures worse than the disease.

Meanwhile, some other media shops are whipping things up to the next level, with SunMedia companies leading the charge with stupidity like ‘If you see your neighbours out, should you call authorities’ and
Both sides seem to be spiralling out of control.
Unfortunately, the only people who are worth listening to are being buried and cremated.
I’m doing my damnedest to try to be rational about this. It’s very, very hard.
When $2 TRILLION is being handed out to the world’s richest and highest-paid 1%-ers on the planet and the Trump Administration has just made it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to convict companies of environmental degradation, it’s hard not to feel like it’s the same old bait and switch disaster capitalism that we’ve seen in the past.
There is NOTHING rational about this and we have no precedent to work from.
That said, I remain steadfast with the idea that so long as people are taking precautions, we have RIGHT to DEMAND answers concerning the severity of this lockdown on humanity.
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