• Canada Anti-Vaccine Protest Continues as Vandals Spark Anger

    Well, looks like this got ugly - not nearly as ugly as it likely would have been stateside. I guess I was naive to believe it might have been otherwise:

    Truckers and thousands of sympathizers blocked Ottawa streets for a second day Sunday to protest Canada's vaccine mandates, as reports of vandalism and harassment by some demonstrators sent tempers flaring.
    But the desecration of a war memorial and the harassment of some city officials and NGO volunteers sparked an angry response, and the police said they had launched "several investigations."
    And an organization advocating for the homeless, Shepherds of Good Hope, said its workers had been "harassed" by protesters demanding meals on a particularly cold weekend.

    It said it had briefly given free meals to some demonstrators in an effort to defuse tensions, but added, "This weekend's events have caused significant strain to our operations at an already difficult time."

    And now for some more optimistic news:

    Despite the size of the crowds in Ottawa, some Canadians say they represent only a vocal minority.

    To date, 82% of Canadians aged 5 or older have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Among adults, the figure is 90%.

    The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a major industry group, said the vast majority of the country's truck drivers are vaccinated. It has "strongly disapproved" of the gathering in Ottawa.

    Nice! 🇨🇦

  • @toby said in Coronavirus.:

    @David-Harris Not to beat this to death, but I am curious as to your take on the Canadian Truckers "Freedom Convoy" movement to have, what I see as quite sensible science and medically base precautions, rolled back?

    Okay, you asked for it, so, here goes…

    As I understand your two posts above, what I think you are really looking for is an insight into the extent to which the madness that is turning almost everything in the US into a Republican/Democratic partisan war is also present in Canada.

    Why are you asking? Because the US media have recently covered the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that rolled across Canada over the last few days, ending in Ottawa (the country’s capital) on Saturday afternoon, and hanging on there, honking horns and blocking traffic, through the weekend. And this coverage has led you (and others in the US) to wonder if it is a rerun of the January 6th insurrection in DC, played out in the Great White North – the place you always believed was Sanity-Central in an increasingly insane world.

    So? What does it signify? It was seen – originally – as a group of long-haul truck drivers who decided to protest against a recently-passed law (passed in both Canada and the US btw) requiring them to be vaccinated before they were allowed to cross the border. How to protest? By driving in convoy from Vancouver, on the west coast, to Ottawa, the capital, some 2,500 miles east. Truckers, by the way, who are vaccinated at about the same rate as other Canadian adults – about 90%.

    No big deal, right? A handful of anti-vaxxers wasting some gasoline in a futile attempt to show that everyone else was a willing, mindless sheep, while they alone carried the flame of freedom.

    If that is all it had been, then a handful of drivers would have finally showed up at the other end of the country, realized that nobody there gave a shit, and turned around for the long journey home. Where they could choose to accept vaccination, or look for other work.

    But it never was that. Or not for more than the time it took for many, many others to see an opportunity to attach their cause to that of the few truckers and join the eastbound parade. Conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Q-believers, Western separatists… pretty much anyone or any group with a grudge against the current government, or with government in general.

    Sound familiar? It should. Because that is very little different from what is happening in the US. Whatever your grudge or hate, you can join a vast number of others who may not share your specific grudge, but who share your belief that you are all being beaten down by an uncaring elite that must be overthrown. Yes, Canada has its share of angry (for whatever reason) people, just as the US does.

    Now, back to your original question: Is this “freedom convoy” evidence that Canada is on the same path as the US?
    The answer is: “No.”

    But wait. If the “Freedom Convoy” is so similar to the events of January 6th, how can I say “No”? Did not a horde of anti-government crazies descend upon the nation’s capital and…

    …yes, it is that “and…” that illustrates the difference. Honking horns and blocking some traffic is fundamentally different from an armed attack on the government. Here there were no weapons. No calls to kill. No violence of any kind. Yes, two statues were draped with flags, but that is a far cry from “Hang Mike Pence” or “Kill Nancy Pelosi” and the killing that took place in DC. And, while January 6th still dominates the US political scene over a year later, this “Freedom Convoy”, and the few other protests it encouraged in other parts of the country, will soon dissipate and be forgotten.

    So, why the difference? If Canada has its share of crazies and know-nothings just as the US does, why is it not falling into the pit with the US? Cross the border, in either direction, and nothing looks different, so why is it different?

    There are probably many reasons, but I can point to two that seem glaringly obvious to me.

    First, the US is built on a history of violence. Look anywhere in the country’s history, and virtually everything that has happened over the last 500 years has been the result of horrific violence. Violence which continues to be worshipped. Canadian history is not without its shame, as the graves that are being discovered on the grounds of the old residential schools clearly shows, but it is generally a history of people trying to figure out how to get along, rather than of people trying to get rich from slave labor or kill everyone who disagrees with them. So, it comes as no surprise that demonstrations and protests in the US quickly turn violent, whereas in Canada they just as quickly peter out and everyone goes home. The anger may still be there, but the body count is zero.

    Second, I think much of the fuel on the fire in the US comes from the us-versus-them mentality held by descendants of white Europeans who are desperate to find a scapegoat for their own unhappiness. It is on this that the whole “Make America Great Again” thing was based. Look back! See how great things were for your parents and how everything is going to shit now! It must be someone else’s fault! Blacks! Mexicans! Muslims! Asians! Liberal elites! They are destroying our way of life! The whole American Exceptionalism thing is coming home to bite the country in the neck. Whereas Canada, while not without its racists and other crazies, has been a country of mixed heritage for its entire history. French and English had to learn to get along. And immigrants have always been seen as, if somewhat weird (or stinky, or whatever), also crucial to what makes the country a great place to live. For the most part, Canadians who are not happy with their situation or prospects do not blame Chinese or Indians or Thais or Mexicans for their problems.

    Here endeth the reading of the lesson. (As I said at the beginning: You asked for it.)

  • @David-Harris Yeah, I sure did! For the record, I was following this a bit prior to the "US News" picking it up. A guy I know who lives in Ireland provided the pointer. Initially I thought would be a nice contrast to the way we do things here versus there - especially since there was a noted absence of pro violence rhetoric. I'd read the stuff on their site and was curious how "representative" this might be of the larger Canadian citizenry, which you've done that very well. Thanks! 🐕

  • Okay, 2 weeks later, here is an update.

    First, a minor correction to my post above. Regarding Canada's history being mostly the story of people learning to get along with one another, I should add that, way back when, parts of what is now Canada were controlled by England and parts by France. In the late 1760s/early 1770s there was some warfare (part of what is known in the US as the French-Indian War) that ended with England in complete control. Since then, while there have been occasional outbursts of secessionist sentiment in Quebec, there has been almost no violence.

    Now, the update: I had expected that the occupation of the central area of Ottawa (which is mostly residential) would peter out after a week or so. It did not. Three weeks on and it is not only still continuing, but it has spread. Horn-honking parades are happening most weekends in many cities in Canada, and at least two major border crossings were blocked.

    And, not only that, but crazies in other countries (especially France) have taken up the idea.

    However, the border crossings are now being cleared, many of the Ottawa protestors are agreeing to move their protest to a non-residential area, and...

    ...and this is the big difference: There has still been no violence. No shots fired, no beatings, no looting.

    So, yeah, the percentage of the population in Canada that harbors conspiracy/anti-vaxx/anti-gorvernment/anti-whatever feelings probably isn't all that much different from the percentage in the US. The difference is that both the protesters and the police are not resorting to violence.

    And, finally, one further thought about the difference between Canada and the US: Why has a three-week protest in Ottawa produced a body-count of zero and a bunch of mindless rhetoric, while a few-hour protest in DC produced many dead bodies and cries of "Hang Mike Pence" and "Kill Nancy Pelosi"?

    In addition to the US history (and glorification) of violence, and the bizarre belief in American Exceptionalism, there is a third, and maybe more important reason:
    The US is locked into a two-party political system, whereas Canada (and most of Europe) lives with a messy multi-party system.

    How does this affect all the stuff we have been talking about? Well, in my view, the effect is enormous. In the US, no matter how nuanced your personal political/social/economic/moral beliefs may be, you are forced to choose between just two political alternatives. So, all the white-supremicist/Qbelievers/conspiracy theorists/religious wackos in the US fill the ranks of the Republican party. But in Canada, with many parties to choose from, the crazies jump into the tiny Peoples Party of Canada and don't pollute the mainstream Conservative Party the way their American counterparts have taken over the Republican Party.

    Anybody have thoughts on all this?

  • @David-Harris Some interesting analysis from the Toronto Star, Who supports the ‘freedom’ protesters and why:

    Seems this is likely more about "class warfare" and increasing concentration of wealth among "the haves" has the "have nots" pretty miffed:

    Sympathy with the protests, and their objectives, is felt by a third of Canadians — and by no means a random third but a third defined by clear demographic and attitudinal factors.

    The most important driver is generational. Half of under-50 Canadians are sympathetic to the protests and their cause. Other key drivers include education, with college graduates more sympathetic and university graduates more opposed. Social class is also a key factor with working class drawn to the protesters and middle and upper classes opposed.
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    Moreover, it may be that economic anxieties are driving these protests as much as the named issues of vaccines and mask mandates. Those most adamantly opposed to masks and mandates have (by far) the bleakest economic outlook, resulting in a generational resentment toward an economy that has seen younger Canada faring much worse than their parents or grandparents at a similar stage of life cycle. Wage stagnation exacerbated by inflation and affordability is a key force expressing itself in housing and many other pocketbook issues.

    Nation-wide, stress has been well above normal levels for more than two years. Stress is much higher in poor people and declines with upward movement in self-defined social class. Under-50 Canada is experiencing much more stress than over-50 Canada. There is also a striking interaction between age and gender with under 35-women registering 25 per cent higher levels of stress than comparably aged males.

    Most alarming, 65 per cent of Canadians believe — and have believed for more than a decade — that if the present trend in the concentration of wealth at the very top continues, Canadians may well see “violent class conflict.

    For under-35 Canada this number rises to 78 per cent agreement and 81 per cent for those who identify as working class. These groups are also being fuelled by disinformation, which is clearly a critical factor and closely resembles the disinformation patterns in the U.S.

    Same deal here in the United States. Unfortunately, the majority are too myopic in their viewpoints they fail to recognize the oldest tactic in the book: Divide and Conquer, wherein we are played against each other by the powers that be chasing after red herrings rather than focusing on our corrupt government institutions that sold "we the people" out in favor of catering to elites decades ago. Most of middle class America either did not notice or turned a blind eye when the predominant victims were from lower socioeconomic demographics. Past couple decades the parasitic upper class turned its gaze upon the middle class. More money to be had there. And now the middle class is pissed. A day late and a dollar short for that. Color me jaded but I fear that the corruption has become so deeply entrenched over the decades than nothing short of a revolution will excise the cancer that politics has become.

    Yep. Living in interesting times, indeed.... 🐕

  • Study: COVID-19 Can Cause Brain Shrinkage, Memory Loss

    We've pretty much known this from anecdotal reports but now we have scientific confirmation:

    COVID-19 can cause the brain to shrink, reduce grey matter in the regions that control emotion and memory, and damage areas that control the sense of smell, an Oxford University study has found.
    The researchers did not say if vaccination against COVID had any impact on the condition but the UK Health Security Agency said last month that a review of 15 studies found that vaccinated people were about half as likely to develop symptoms of long COVID compared with the unvaccinated.

    I like to track back and review the actual study but am pressed for time this morning so will leave that bit for interested parties.

    Hope y'all are not too foggy for the mental exercise... 😱 🐕

  • US Adult Smoking Rate Fell During First Year of Pandemic

    The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw more Americans drinking heavily or using illicit drugs — but apparently not smoking.

    U.S. cigarette smoking dropped to a new all-time low in 2020, with 1 in 8 adults saying they were current smokers, according to survey data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult e-cigarette use also dropped, the CDC reported.

    Heh, so evidently we care about out lungs and respiratory systems more than our liver and kidneys... Or getting arrested. Or hospitalized for an overdose. Go figure... 😜

    But is was not all health concern related. Analysis includes price hikes, less "social smoker" triggering, adults being home with their kids more and not wanting to set bad examples, public health messaging, etc.

  • @toby No idea about smoking or drinking rates, but here in the Great White (Green?) North, overdose deaths have far exceeded Covid deaths. I don't have the data in front of me, but I think, at least in BC, overdose deaths have been running at almost double Covid deaths.

  • COVID-19, Overdoses Pushed US to Highest Death Total Ever

    More cheery news....

    The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work on death statistics.

    The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. It showed there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020's record-setting total.

    Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic — partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available.

    "We were wrong, unfortunately," said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

    COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 — to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before — as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large number of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said.
    One study looked at death data in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries. The U.S. fared the worst.

    "What happened in the U.S. is less about the variants than the levels of resistance to vaccination and the public's rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission," one of the study's authors, Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement.

    Imagine that... Need I quote Forest Gump yet again... 🤦

  • Australia Investigates Impact of Long COVID

    COVID-19 cases reported in Australia continue to fall, but the consequences of infection are still being felt.

    A study published Wednesday by the Australian National University said that about one in three adults who have had the virus had symptoms that lasted for longer than four weeks, a common indicator of so-called “long COVID.”

    Symptoms include extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, joint and muscle pain as well as insomnia and a cough. The study also stated that many patients with long COVID also experienced “low mood.”

    This is pretty much being ignored stateside - bad optics for the current regime, I guess. I am happy to hear "somebody" is giving it some attention.

    I was just talking with a friend about this last weekend. He was mid thirties and working construction when he contracted Covid early on in the pandemic and commented on how his immune system was not worth a crap post Covid. Used to never get sick and now contracts every cold virus that comes along. Still lacks his former "get up and go".

    Anyone else have any anecdotal experiences to report on this?

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