2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual Cycles


2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual Cycles. 1

2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual Cycles. 7

15. [^^] Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study. 7

Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study. 9

24. [§] Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News. 11

Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News. 11

By Eva Uguen-Csenge|Mar. 9th, 2022. 11

Pandemic delays surgeries. 16

Calls for national action plan. 20

3. [^^] Ontario COVID-19 Data Tool | Public Health Ontario. 22

Ontario COVID-19 Data Tool | Public Health Ontario. 23

17. [^^] UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ in all major variants | Edmonton Journal 24

UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ in all major variants | Edmonton Journal 25

COVID-19: UBC research shows how blood tests can predict patient outcomes  27

COVID-19: UBC team drills down to what makes Omicron so transmissible. 27

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8. [^^] Vaccine Injury Support Program… 29

Vaccine Injury Support Program.. 30

The purpose.. 30

Who can apply?. 30

Authorized Vaccine. 31

Time Frame. 31

Injury Reported. 31

Eligibility Date. 31

Serious and Permanent. 32

7. [^^] B.C. man among first Canadians approved for COVID-19 vaccine injury payout | CBC News. 32

B.C. man among first Canadians approved for COVID-19 vaccine injury payout | CBC News. 33

‘Not overly excited’ 35

Vaccine compensation.. 37

5. [^^] B.C. man awarded vaccine compensation.. 39

B.C. man awarded vaccine compensation. 41

Description.. 42

Comments 14. 42

Transcript. 43

B.C. man approved for extremely rare COVID-19 vaccine injury payout 43

12. [^^] How worried should we be about the monkeypox global health emergency? | Financial Post  44

14. [^^] Marburg virus: How worried should Canadians be following Ghana’s outbreak? – National | Globalnews.ca. 44

Marburg virus: How worried should Canadians be following Ghana’s outbreak? – National | Globalnews.ca. 45

Should we be worried about Marburg coming to Canada?. 45

What’s the situation like in Ghana right now?. 47

Monkeypox to Marburg: Why are these viruses surfacing?. 48

2. [^^] Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward. 51

Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward. 52

1. [^^] The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo. 59

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo. 60

16. [^^] BCGEU strike: How it could impact the lives of BC residents – Burnaby Now.. 69

BCGEU strike: How it could impact the lives of BC residents – Burnaby Now.. 70

9. [^^] Canada’s public service is collapsing. Let us count the ways | National Post. 74

Canada’s public service is collapsing. Let us count the ways | National Post 75

Passport pandemonium… 75

Lost in translation. 79

Air travel anarchy. 82

Vanishing visas. 85

Access denied. 88

NP Posted. 90

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6. [^^] China’s Crisis of Confidence. 91

China’s Crisis of Confidence. 92

The Dangers of China’s Decline. 96

Why Xi Is Trapped in Ukraine. 97

10. [^^] Uber hired oligarch-linked Russian lobbyist despite bribery fears. 100

Uber hired oligarch-linked Russian lobbyist despite bribery fears. 101

The ‘power rating’ 105

Davos dealmaking. 108

‘A direct line into the Kremlin’ 110

Risky business. 112

21. [^^] My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking | HuffPost HuffPost Personal 115

My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking | HuffPost HuffPost Personal 116

More From HuffPost Personal… 125

4. [^^] Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home – Canada News. 126

Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home – Canada News. 127

19. [^^] Consumers are paying the price — in time and cost — for a choked-up global supply chain   130

Consumers are paying the price — in time and cost — for a choked-up global supply chain. 131

Port delays, storage issues, rail capacity and a trucker shortage all play a part in strain on system… 131

‘The consumer will pay the price’ 132

Storage an issue for retailers. 133

Amount of rail capacity having impact. 135

Trucker shortage another snarl in chain   136

20. [^^] Some small businesses offer benefits to retain staff in tight labour market – The Globe and Mail 138

Some small businesses offer benefits to retain staff in tight labour market – The Globe and Mail 139

22. [^^] ‘I’m very scared’: Kitchener, Ont. pharmacist believes he was attacked for administering COVID-19 vaccines. 142

‘I’m very scared’: Kitchener, Ont. pharmacist believes he was attacked for administering COVID-19 vaccines. 143

11. [^^] Jujumello: Entrepreneur lessons from M’sian lingerie brand shutdown.. 145

Jujumello: Entrepreneur lessons from M’sian lingerie brand shutdown. 146

Reasons for the closure.. 148

Finally, catharsis.. 149

13. [^^] Nouriel Roubini Says Predictions for a Mild Recession Are ‘Delusional’ 150

Nouriel Roubini Says Predictions for a Mild Recession Are ‘Delusional’ 152

18. [^^] This Economy Is Proving Too Complicated for Economists – Bloomberg. 153

This Economy Is Proving Too Complicated for Economists – Bloomberg. 154

Cash Flush and Employed. 156

28. [^^] Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech for Infringing Patents Central to Moderna’s Innovative mRNA Technology Platform… 158

Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech for Infringing Patents Central to Moderna’s Innovative mRNA Technology Platform.. 159

2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual Cycles

2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual Cycles 疫苗對月經週期的影響


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Requirement 14030: [^^] Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study – Boards (azure.com)

15. [^^] Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study

# State: Proposed Priority: 2 Assigned to: Peter Tu <peter@selfology.com> Tags: 2022.09.10 [OLX] ERT—Vaccine Effects on Menstrual CyclesAIGS-A

Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study Φ COVID-19疫苗后部分人流失較重、突破性出血:研究

Heavier flow, breakthrough bleeding reported among some individuals after COVID-19 vaccine: study Since the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the globe, many menstruating people began to report changes in their cycle. While reports remained anecdotal, new evidence is emerging to better understand the correlation between menstrual cycles and the COVID-19 vaccine. A new study published on July 15 in the Science Advances journal found that 42 per cent of people with regular menstruation cycles temporarily bled more heavily than usual and 44 per cent reported no changes after being fully vaccinated. The web-based study surveyed 39,129 fully-vaccinated respondents, ranging from 18 to 80 years old. Ninety per cent of respondents identified as women and nine per cent identified as gender-diverse. The respondents received Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and other unnamed vaccines. COVID-19 Brief newsletter: Sign up for an informed guide on the pandemic Additionally, people who did not typically menstruate reported experiencing breakthrough bleeding. Among this group of people, some were on long-acting reversible contraceptives, others on gender-affirming hormones and some were postmenopausal. Researchers found that increased and breakthrough bleeding was most likely linked to age, vaccine side effects such as fever or fatigue, history of pregnancy or birth and ethnicity. While the direct correlation between the COVID-19 vaccine and altered period cycles is unknown, the study emphasizes it’s not uncommon for the uterine reproduction system to adapt to stressors as a way to avoid long-term challenges with fertility, particularly an acute immune stressor such as the vaccine. While the initial findings in the study do not represent the general population, the researchers say these surveys are imperative to understanding trends in menstruation for all groups of people. “We urge other researchers and funding bodies to increase investment in understanding queer, trans, and nonbinary menstrual experiences, because there is a dearth of existing literature to understand the biosocial context of menstrual bleeding in these groups,” the study said. In January, a different study found that some people experienced a longer menstrual cycle by an extra day after receiving one dose of the vaccine compared to those who were unvaccinated.       Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/heavier-flow-breakthrough-bleeding-reported-among-some-individuals-after-covid-19-vaccine-study-1.6020723
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24. [§] Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News

Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News Φ 患有子宮內膜異位症的女性表示,由於大流行性手術延誤,缺乏專業知識|加拿大廣播公司新聞

Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News

By Eva Uguen-Csenge|Mar. 9th, 2022

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Keana Casault who has endometriosis, is pictured in her apartment in Burnaby, British Columbia on Friday, March 4, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Every morning, Keana Casault wakes up and assesses herself on a personal pain scale.

“If I say I’m at a five out of 10 of pain, that’s probably the average person’s 10 out of 10,” said the 25-year-old university student.

Where she sits on that pain scale impacts every single decision for the rest of the day. Whether she can take a shower, do groceries, go to university classes or even take her dog for a walk.

“I’m in pain all the time,” she said. “The bad pain is almost getting to a point where you’re not thinking properly. You have brain fog and you feel like you’re going to pass out from the pain, the pain so bad you can’t get out of bed. You can’t walk. You can’t even go to the bathroom.”

Casault, 25, is one of over a million Canadian women living with endometriosis — a gynecological disease that causes debilitating chronic pain and can in severe cases lead to organ damage.

There is no known cure for the illness, which can also affect transgender and non-binary people who have — or once had — a uterus.

Keana Casault who has endometriosis, sits with her heating pad to relieve some of her pain. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Despite its prevalence, experts say it can take anywhere from five to 10 years for patients to get a diagnosis and receive treatment — which can range from hormone treatment to surgical interventions.

The pandemic has extended wait-times for those surgeries — considered elective procedures — and is forcing women with endometriosis to put their lives on hold while they await a surgery that they deem essential.

“There is indeed a major backlog of patients with endometriosis,” said Dr. Mathew Leonardi, a gynecological surgeon at McMaster University Medical Centre in Ontario. He says there were several months during the pandemic where he could only perform surgeries for gynecological cancers.

“There are months where I might operate on one or two endo patients, which is a really unfortunate state because the volume of patients is again astronomical and we need to be operating at a higher frequency.”

Dr. Mathew Leonardi, a gynecological surgeon at McMaster University Medical Centre in Ontario, says there were several months during the pandemic where he could only perform surgeries for gynecological cancers. (Submitted by Mathew Leonardi)

Pandemic delays surgeries 

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus implants in the pelvic cavity outside the uterus to form lesions, cysts and other growths, according to Endometriosis Network Canada. This can cause pain, internal scarring, infertility and other medical complications.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that hormone and pain medication treatments be explored for patients before considering surgery. But some patient advocates argue that a specific surgical intervention known as an excision laparoscopy — in which a surgeon removes as much of the endometriosis tissue as possible — is the gold standard of treatment. 

Dr. Catherine Allaire, who heads UBC’s division of gynaecologic specialities, says surgical delays are having a major impact on patients living with the disease.

“The suffering is what I’m concerned about and the extra months of suffering that the patients are going through,” she said.

“The problem is not only the delay from our booking surgery to them getting surgery, but the delay in getting to us, for example, seeing their family doctors was difficult, getting imaging was difficult.” 

Dr. Catherine Allaire, who heads UBC’s division of gynaecologic specialties, says medical experts still don’t entirely understand endometriosis. (Radio-Canada/Camille Vernet)

Casault, who lives in Burnaby and is studying tourism management at Capilano University, has been experiencing those delays first hand. She first started experiencing extreme pain a decade ago when she was only 15.

She underwent an initial surgery in Dawson Creek, B.C., when she was 17, which was deemed inconclusive. Since then, she’s gone through years of unsuccessful hormone treatments.

“I’ve tried pretty much everything and none of it’s worked,” she said. “A lot of it’s made a huge negative impact on my life, so I decided that I am done waiting for that and I really, really need to have the surgery.”

Because she received a surgery eight years ago, Casault hasn’t been considered a priority case for a surgical treatment in B.C. She decided to go to a specialist out-of-province and has had an initial consult with Leonardi in Ontario.

“I need to get this done. I want to feel better. I’m only 25.”

Some women wait years to be diagnosed with endometriosis after being told by medical professionals the pain they are feeling is normal menstrual pain. In fact, it is an agony-inducing condition that can cause permanent scarring and infertility. (Illustration by Émilie Robert/Radio-Canada)

The pandemic has accentuated wait times for all elective surgeries, but those working in the field of gynecology say resources have always been limited.

“It’s reflected in research funding. It’s reflected in remuneration for gynecological surgery,” said Leonardi.

Both he and Allaire say there are societal factors at play that delay diagnosis.

“It’s a condition that the main symptom is pain and pain, as we know, it can often get dismissed in women and gender diverse people,” said Allaire.

Leonardi also says that true specialists in diagnosing and treating endometriosis through excision surgery are few and far between across Canada. He says while it’s estimated that 10 per cent of women have the disease, he estimates only one per cent of doctors are specialized in endometriosis.

Calls for national action plan

Advocacy group EndoAct Canada has been pushing the federal government to develop a national action plan on endometriosis like the one that exists in Australia and was recently announced in France — a three-pillar strategy that focuses on increased education, improved clinical management and care, and research. 

In response to questions from CBC News about a national action plan, the office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos emailed a statement underlining its commitment to improving access to sexual and reproductive health. The statement did not mention endometriosis or any of the relevant treatments for the disease.

Leonardi believes that while there is no cure for endometriosis, early intervention is key to improving patient outcomes.

“If we treat that disease properly at the beginning when kind of in its menstrual cyclical pain state, I really do believe that we can prevent people from developing chronic pelvic pain where they are in pain all the time,” he said.

Leonardi says that requires more funding for gynecological research. 

For Casault, proper care starts with ending the normalization of menstrual pain.

“We’ve been told periods are supposed to be painful. They’re not,” she said.

“You’re not supposed to be missing work. You’re not supposed to be missing things with your friends, activities outside of your everyday life. You’re not supposed to be missing those things because of period pain or pain outside of your period.”


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________________________________________ ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ FOR EDIT—BODY COPY ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News Φ 患有子宮內膜異位症的女性表示,由於大流行性手術延誤,缺乏專業知識|加拿大廣播公司新聞 Women with endometriosis say they are enduring extreme pain due to pandemic surgery delays, lack of expertise | CBC News

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3. [^^] Ontario COVID-19 Data Tool | Public Health Ontario

Ontario COVID-19 Data Tool | Public Health Ontario Φ 安大略省COVID-19數據工具|安大略省公共衛生局

Ontario COVID-19 Data Tool | Public Health Ontario At least one dose: refers to individuals that have received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine (Health Canada authorized or not). At least one dose coverage, total population: the proportion of the total population of Ontario, or a given public health unit, that received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine (Health Canada authorized or not). Change in cases reflects new cases reported since the previous day. Completed primary series: refers to individuals that have received both doses of a two-dose Health Canada authorized COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e. dose two of two), one dose of a one-dose Health Canada authorized COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e. dose one of one), one dose of a non-Health Canada authorized vaccine followed by a dose of a Health Canada authorized vaccine, or three or more doses of any vaccine product (Health Canada authorized or not). Completed primary series coverage, total population: the proportion of the total population of Ontario, or a given public health unit, that has completed their primary series. Deaths include deaths resulting from a clinically compatible illness in a confirmed COVID-19 case. It includes deaths for which COVID-19 is the underlying cause of death, COVID-19 contributed to but was not the underlying cause of death, and those with type of death listed as unknown or missing. It excludes deaths where the cause of death is unrelated to COVID-19 (e.g., trauma). Hospitalizations include all cases hospitalized (or that had their hospital stay extended) because of COVID-19. It includes cases that have been discharged from hospital as well as cases that are currently hospitalized. Includes cases in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but not emergency room visits. New tests refer to the number of tests performed and do not reflect the number of specimens or persons tested.  Percent positive refers to the percentage of tests performed that were positive for COVID-19 and does not translate to the number of specimens or persons testing positive. Rate is per 100,000 population. Recent cases include cases reported within the past 14 days with a three day lag from the time of data extraction. Vaccine series: The number of vaccine doses within a schedule that has been approved by Health Canada as a primary series. COVID-19 vaccine products available in Ontario have a two-dose (i.e. Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD) or a one-dose (i.e. Janssen) schedule.     Source: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/data-and-analysis/infectious-disease/covid-19-data-surveillance/covid-19-data-tool?tab=summary
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17. [^^] UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ in all major variants | Edmonton Journal

UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ in all major variants | Edmonton Journal Φ UBC研究人員在所有主要變體中發現了「弱點」|埃德蒙頓日報

UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ in all major variants | Edmonton Journal   NewsLocal NewsLocal HealthHealth Medical breakthrough likened to finding a ‘master key’ that could lead to effective treatments  A transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo by NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) /Handout via REUTERS Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a “weak spot” in all major variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, a breakthrough that could lead to universally effective treatments.   In a study, published Thursday in Nature Communications, researchers used a process called cryo-electron microscopy. This new technology allows researchers to rapidly freeze proteins at the atomic level so they can take hundreds of thousands of snapshots — much like X rays — of individual proteins. “Then, we can then combine them computationally in 3D to create the atomic landscape of what the protein looks like,” said Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, a professor at UBC’s faculty of medicine and the lead author of the study. “So, in this particular instance, what we report on is one of many examples where we’re using the technology to literally be observers at the site of contact between an antibody and the spike protein.”   And what they found was an antibody fragment that is able to attach to this site and neutralize each major variant. ”It’s very powerful and lets us watch in atomic detail what the interactions are. And, of course, that sets the stage for development of therapeutics down the road.” Subramaniam said SARS-CoV-2 is a highly adaptable virus that has evolved to evade most existing antibody treatments, and what their study does is reveal a weak spot that is largely unchanged across variants that can be neutralized by an antibody fragment. “This is a highly adaptable virus that has evolved to evade most existing antibody treatments, as well as much of the immunity conferred by vaccines and natural infection,” he said, adding that finding a site of vulnerability that didn’t change so much across all these variants was interesting.   “Antibodies attach to a virus in a very specific manner, like a key going into a lock. But when the virus mutates, the key no longer fits … We’ve been looking for master keys.” The “master key” identified in this new paper is the antibody fragment VH Ab6, which was shown to be effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, Epsilon and Omicron variants. The fragment neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by attaching to the epitope on the spike protein and blocking the virus from entering human cells. COVID-19: UBC research shows how blood tests can predict patient outcomes   COVID-19: UBC team drills down to what makes Omicron so transmissible   Subramaniam said it is too soon to say whether this will lead to a single vaccine for all mutations, but what they have discovered is the ability to zero in and say which part of the virus is important. This can then be used by drug companies to find treatment.   “And so this is where we focus our efforts because, look, it survived. It survived from major mutations across the whole pandemic … So I think it gives us lesson zero and essentially it’s let’s find this hotspot for zeroing in our efforts to get the best antibodies that achieve the effect of blocking viral entry.” The discovery is a collaboration between Subramaniam’s team at UBC and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, led by Drs. Mitko Dimitrov and Wei Li. ticrawford@postmedia.com More news, fewer ads, faster load time: Get unlimited, ad-lite access to the Vancouver Sun, the Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites for just $14/month or $140/year. Subscribe now through the Vancouver Sun or The Province. Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Vancouver Sun, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300 Thanks for signing up! A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it, please check your junk folder. The next issue of Vancouver Sun Headline News will soon be in your inbox. We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again     Source: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/covid-19-ubc-researchers-discover-weak-spot-in-all-major-variants
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8. [^^] Vaccine Injury Support Program

Vaccine Injury Support Program Φ 疫苗傷害支持計劃

Vaccine Injury Support Program If you believe you are experiencing a health issue as a result of a vaccine, please contact your local public health unit, or your health care provider. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911. If you believe you are experiencing a health issue as a result of a vaccine, please contact your local public health unit, or your health care provider. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911. The purpose The purpose of the VISP is to ensure that all people in Canada who have experienced a serious and permanent injury as a result of receiving a Health Canada authorized vaccine, administered in Canada on or after December 8, 2020, have fair and timely access to financial support. The pan-Canadian VISP will serve all people vaccinated in Canada, with the exception of people vaccinated in Québec who will receive coverage from the longstanding Québec program. For individuals vaccinated in Québec,
click here
Learn more in our FAQ Download Program Brochure Who can apply? Eligibility Criteria All of the below criteria must be met in order to submit a successful claim. Authorized Vaccine Any person receiving a Health Canada authorized vaccine. Time Frame Claims can be filed within three years after the date of vaccination, date of death or date when an injury first becomes apparent. Injury Reported Injury reported to health care provider. Eligibility Date Date of vaccination was on or after December 8, 2020. Serious and Permanent The injury is serious and permanent or has resulted in death.     Source: https://vaccineinjurysupport.ca/en
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7. [^^] B.C. man among first Canadians approved for COVID-19 vaccine injury payout | CBC News

B.C. man among first Canadians approved for COVID-19 vaccine injury payout | CBC News Φ 不列顛哥倫比亞省男子是第一批被批准用於COVID-19疫苗傷害支付的加拿大人之|加拿大廣播公司新聞

B.C. man among first Canadians approved for COVID-19 vaccine injury payout | CBC News VAX VISP In the year since he became partially paralyzed, Ross Wightman has kept his focus on small victories — from getting up the stairs unassisted, to going for a solo walk near his rural B.C. home. But the biggest win came in the form of an e-mail from Canada’s Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP) that confirmed something he says he knew all along: that his condition was likely caused by the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. “That was quite vindicating,” Wightman said from his Lake Country home in the Okanagan Valley. “To have it in hand, in paper, acknowledging it has been vindicating.” Wightman was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare condition that affects the nervous system, just days after his first and only dose of the vaccine. The condition can cause paralysis, muscle weakness, and even death. “Every day is a grind,” said Wightman, who still has substantially limited mobility in his arms and legs. “[The letter] doesn’t change my condition, or the way I feel overly — it’s just nice to have,” he added. GBS diagnoses following a COVID-19 vaccination are extremely rare — about one in 700,000 — according to data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Health Canada. There have been 10 reports of individuals hospitalized with GBS within 30 days of a COVID-19 vaccine since December 2020, all of whom have been discharged, according to the BCCDC. Four reports followed the AstraZeneca vaccine, five followed Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, and one followed Moderna Spikevax.  More than 11.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., with health experts noting the risks associated with coronavirus infection far outweigh the risks of vaccination. There have been more than 41,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Canada. The letter Wightman received makes him one of just a handful of Canadians to become approved for a COVID-19 vaccine injury benefit. He chose not to share his total allotment with CBC News citing privacy concerns, but said the maximum payout under the program is about $284,000. Wightman said he did not qualify for the full amount. Ross Wightman received this letter confirming a probable link between his GBS and his dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Ross Wightman/Facebook) He said he is also eligible for income replacement up to $90,000 per year. CBC News has contacted Health Canada for clarity on the payout structure of the program. Its most recent data suggests fewer than five people have been approved for the injury benefit, with numbers to be updated in the next few days, program operators say. The operators also said Wednesday that the latest vaccine injury data will be released at a later date despite its own June 1 deadline. ‘Not overly excited’ Wightman, who worked as a pilot and real estate agent prior to his diagnosis, has spent the last year unable to work. He can’t travel far on his own. But the hardest thing is sitting on the sidelines, unable to do physical activities with his kids, he says. “Playing soccer with the kids in the yard. My oldest is big into baseball, and one of my favourite things to do is just play catch in the yard, and I can’t do that. That’s hard,” he said. Ross Wightman was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome shortly after his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. According to the BCCDC and Health Canada, there have been 10 reports of individuals hospitalized with GBS within 30 days of a COVID-19 vaccine since December 2020. (Submitted by Ross Wightman) Despite his approval of vaccine injury payout, he says he still doesn’t think it matches the physical, emotional and financial toll he’s endured over the past year. “I don’t know what number I can say is enough, but [the payout] is not something that I’m overly excited about,” he said. “The income replacement won’t be what we’ve been used to … so that’s a little disappointing to me.” Wightman says a number of his symptoms, including loss of feeling in his feet and vision impairments, weren’t included in his injury benefit assessment, so he plans to appeal to the program’s medical review board. He says he’s also seeking legal advice. Ross Wightman has limited ability in his arms and wrists, but has improved and is able to take on more activities independently. (Jon Hernandez/CBC) “If the lump sum was huge, then maybe the income replacement is something we could make work, but the way things have been presented so far, it’s not something we’ve decided on yet,” he said. Vaccine compensation Prior to the pandemic, Canada was the only G7 country that did not have a vaccine injury compensation program. The country’s mass COVID-19 immunization plan spurred the development of the VISP, said Dr. Kumanan Wilson, an internal medicine physician at Ottawa Hospital who was consulted as a subject matter expert for the program. Wilson is also the CEO of CANImmunize, the tech company behind the digital vaccine tracking platform of the same name, and an expert in vaccine hesitancy. Vials of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines sit empty at the Junction Chemist Pharmacy, in Toronto, June 2021. Prior to the pandemic, Canada was the only G7 country that did not have a vaccine injury compensation program. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press) “We did tell people you need to get vaccinated, and in many cases mandates were brought in,” he said. “We needed to hold up our end of the bargain, and that was making sure that these individuals were treated fairly if something untoward were to happen. “I’m a very strong believer in the safety of vaccines. They go through rigorous phase three trials, but rare events can happen, and in those circumstances, those individuals need to be supported,” he added. Wilson notes risks of COVID-19 infection far outweigh the risks of adverse reactions to vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine was largely phased out in Canada after blood clots appeared in recipients at a rate of about one in 100,000. Wilson said there were challenges early on in the development of the program determining what should be considered a serious illness that’s associated with a vaccine. GBS was among the disorders discussed, given that it comes with severe health challenges that can often be overcome after a number of years. “I’m encouraged to see that condition was compensated, that they erred on the side of a liberal interpretation of serious and permanent harm,” he said. As to whether or not recipients will be happy with the assessed payouts from the program, Wilson said they can exercise their right to appeal, while noting that VISP is still in its early stages. “There will likely be a lot of adaptations made based on the experiences of the initial claims.”     Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-man-vaccine-injury-payout-1.6472636
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5. [^^] B.C. man awarded vaccine compensation

B.C. man awarded vaccine compensation Φ B.C.男子獲得疫苗賠償

B.C. man awarded vaccine compensation 1004 LC 210823 K 2 V169 YTH LingoAce中文课 ads.lingoace.com Ad · 0:59 Why this ad? 3 0:00 1:01 0:02 / 1:01•Watch full video 1,735 views1.7K views Jun 1, 2022 14DislikeShareDownloadSave CTV Vancouver CTV Vancouver 7.24K subscribers Subscribe A man who became partially paralyzed after getting his first dose is one of the first in Canada to be compensated for vaccine injury. Subscribe to CTV News Vancouver to watch all our latest videos. For the latest news, visit our homepage at http://CTVNewsVancouver.ca/ or follow our social media channels. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CTVBCNews/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CTVVancouver/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/CTVVancouver/ Show more Description A man who became partially paralyzed after getting his first dose is one of the first in Canada to be compensated for vaccine injury. Subscribe to CTV News Vancouver to watch all our latest videos. For the latest news, visit our homepage at http://CTVNewsVancouver.ca/ or follow our social media channels. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CTVBCNews/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CTVVancouver/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/CTVVancouver/ Comments 14Transcript Why this ad? LingoAce中文课 Ad ads.lingoace.com 免费试听 All Listenable Related Recently uploaded Watched 2:19 Now playing   B.C. man approved for extremely rare COVID-19 vaccine injury payout CBC Vancouver CBC Vancouver 3.4K views 1 day ago New         Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axK3SyuBuYw
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12. [^^] How worried should we be about the monkeypox global health emergency? | Financial Post

How worried should we be about the monkeypox global health emergency? | Financial Post Φ 我們應該對猴痘全球衛生突發事件有多擔心?|金融郵報

14. [^^] Marburg virus: How worried should Canadians be following Ghana’s outbreak? – National | Globalnews.ca

Marburg virus: How worried should Canadians be following Ghana’s outbreak? – National | Globalnews.ca Φ {/SFSecurityCheck} 瑪律堡病毒:迦納疫情爆發后,加拿大人應該有多擔心? – 國家| Globalnews.ca

Marburg virus: How worried should Canadians be following Ghana’s outbreak? – National | Globalnews.ca The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared an outbreak of the highly-infectious Marburg virus in Ghana after two men died of the disease. And even though it’s a cause for concern in the African nation, experts say there’s no need to panic in Canada just yet. The disease, a very infectious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, is spread to people by fruit bats and transmitted among people through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces, according to the WHO. So far, only four cases have been detected in Ghana.   Should we be worried about Marburg coming to Canada? While the virus is highly contagious, some infectious disease experts say they aren’t worried about the virus impacting Canada at this point in time.   “International travel can make this infection go beyond the current borders of Ghana … but it shouldn’t be, at least for the moment, a source of anxiety for the general public,” Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at McGill University Health Centre, told Global News. Read more: WHO declares highly-infectious Marburg virus outbreak in Ghana Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital, said that currently the risk of the virus coming to Canada and causing a major outbreak “would be extraordinarily small.” “The infection is very similar, not identical, to Ebola and we’ve seen small outbreaks of Ebola grow larger…and in the larger outbreaks, we’ve seen exported cases as well. They’re rare, but they certainly have happened,” he added. Bogoch said that in the large Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, there had been a handful of cases being exported to countries like the United States. “You usually see that with much larger outbreaks, but currently with four known cases in Ghana, you just have to keep your eye on them,” Bogoch said.  2:08 San Francisco declares public health emergency over monkeypox San Francisco declares public health emergency over monkeypox In the meantime, however, Vinh said Marburg can be a case of concern for several reasons. Firstly, he noted, it’s a “fatal and frightful disease.”   “It is like Ebola where if you are infected, you can progress to the late stage of disease in which you’re bleeding from every orifice in your body. And that’s the cause of death. So that’s a very frightful infection,” said Vinh. The second cause of concern is that there is no established vaccine and no antiviral treatment for Marburg. “Of course, it’s concerning because international spread can make this infection go beyond the current borders of Ghana…so it is concerning for the medical and scientific communities, but it shouldn’t be…for the general public,” Vinh added. What’s the situation like in Ghana right now? With the first two cases, in southern Ghana’s Ashanti region, both people had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, before dying in hospital, the WHO said on July 17. Trending Stories “We have two additional cases,” Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, assistant director-general for emergencies response at the World Health Organization, told journalists on Wednesday.   Both of these people are being treated in hospital. This outbreak marks only the second time that the disease has been detected in West Africa after Guinea confirmed a single case detected in August, 2021, according to WHO. The outbreak in Guinea was declared over five weeks later. Read more: About 25 million children worldwide missed routine vaccinations due to COVID-19: UN Previous Marburg outbreaks and individual cases have appeared in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, WHO said. Soce Fall said information received from Ghana suggested there were around 180 contacts being followed up and WHO teams were making sure that none were missed. He also said the cases had been reported in three different regions in Ghana, creating a “very difficult” situation. “Although the cases are not high at the moment, …we need to make sure that every hotspot can be stopped otherwise it will become more complex,” he said. Monkeypox to Marburg: Why are these viruses surfacing? Both Vinh and Bogoch said that global climate change and human encroachment into environments contribute to viral outbreaks taking place that should be taken seriously.   Vinh said that so far all of the viruses, like COVID-19, monkeypox and Marburg, have been initially spread from animals to a human. “COVID was spread from a rodent to a human, and now with Marburg, it’s spread from bats … so these outbreaks are a sign that there is a lot of potential for the animal to human transmission,” said Vinh.  1:47 Monkeypox arrives in Atlantic Canada Monkeypox arrives in Atlantic Canada He also said that this is happening because humans are encroaching into new territories that have animals on them and those animals have their own infections. “We have climate change, which changes the habitats of animals and causes them to expand to territories where they would not normally expand. And that, again, leads to the proximity of animals to humans,” Vinh said. “This increase in infections with COVID, with monkeypox, with Marburg, is a reflection of how we need to take a step back and realize that there is ecological disturbances because of human activity as a reason for all this,” he added.    4:20 Canada has enough monkeypox vaccine, but still faces ‘limited supplies’ Canada has enough monkeypox vaccine, but still faces ‘limited supplies’ Vinh said that in addition to developing antiviral medications for these infections, society should take a step back and realize that human encroachment on newer land may need to be restricted. “I think that the fact that this is occurring repeatedly tells us that, you know. We’re pushing our luck here,” he said. Bogoch echoed that sentiment and said that these viral outbreaks aren’t accidents. “We have a very, very interconnected world where we know that if someone has an infection on one side of the earth, you can introduce that to the other side of the earth in as little as 24 hours,” he said. Bogoch also believes this isn’t going to be the last declaration of a viral outbreak — there’s going to be more if human encroachment and global climate change continue their course.   — with files from Reuters and the Associated Press © 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.     Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/9025073/marburg-virus-ghana-canada/
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2. [^^] Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward

Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward Φ Omicron是我們過去的大流行錯誤快進

Omicron Is Our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward With Omicron, everything is sped up. The new variant is spreading fast and far. At a time when Delta was already sprinting around the country, Omicron not only caught up but overtook it, jumping from an estimated 13 to 73 percent of U.S. cases in a single week. We have less time to make decisions and less room to course-correct when they are wrong. Whereas we had months to prepare for Delta in the U.S., we’ve had only weeks for Omicron. Every mistake gets amplified; every consequence hits us sooner. We should have learned after living through multiple waves and multiple variants of COVID, but we haven’t, at least not enough. We keep making the same pandemic mistakes over and over again. This is not March 2020. We have masks. We have better treatments. Our immune systems are much more prepared to fight off the virus, thanks to vaccines. But as a society, we are still not prepared. Here are the six traps that we keep falling into, each consequence made all the more acute because of Omicron’s speed.           We rush to dismiss it as “mild.” In February 2020, when the then-novel coronavirus still seemed far away, a reassuring statistic emerged: 82 percent of cases were mild—milder than SARS, certainly milder than Ebola. This notion would haunt our response: What’s the big deal? Worry about the flu! Since then, we’ve learned what mild in “most” people can mean when the virus spreads to infect hundreds of millions: 5.4 million dead around the world, with 800,000 in just the U.S. This coronavirus has caused far more damage than viruses that are deadlier to individuals, because it’s more transmissible. A milder but more transmissible virus can spread so aggressively that it ultimately causes more hospitalizations and deaths. Mild initial infections can also lead to persistent, debilitating symptoms, as people with long COVID have learned. The notion of a mostly mild disease became entrenched so rapidly that the experience of many long-haulers was dismissed. We’ve seen how such early concepts can lead us astray, and still the idea of Omicron as an intrinsically mild variant has already taken hold. We don’t know yet if Omicron is less virulent than Delta. We do know it’s far more transmissible in highly immune places. That’s enough for worry. We can expect Omicron cases to be milder in vaccinated people than unvaccinated. And because the variant is able to infect many vaccinated people that Delta cannot, the proportion of infected people who need to be hospitalized will look lower than Delta’s. What’s less clear is if Omicron is intrinsically any less virulent in unvaccinated people. Some early data from South Africa and the U.K. suggest that it might be, but confounding factors like previous immunity are hard to disentangle. In any case, Omicron does not appear so mild that we can dismiss the hospitalization burden of a huge wave. That burden will depend largely on how many unvaccinated and undervaccinated people Omicron reaches. The U.S. simply has too many people who are entirely unvaccinated (27 percent) and people over 65—the age group most vulnerable to COVID—who are unboosted (44 percent). In a country of 330 million, that’s tens of millions of people. Omicron will find them. Because this variant is so fast, the window for vaccinating or boosting people in time is smaller. And although vaccines remain very good at protecting against hospitalization, we make a mistake when …           We treat vaccines as all-or-nothing shields against infection. When the COVID-19 vaccines first started rolling out this time last year, they were billed as near-perfect shots that could block not only severe disease, but almost all infections—absolute wonders that would bring the pandemic to a screeching halt. The stakes some prominent experts laid out seemed to be: Get vaccinatedor get infected. The summer of Delta made it clear that the options were not binary. Vaccinated people were getting infected. Their antibody levels were dropping (as they always do after vaccination), and the new variant was super transmissible and slightly immune-dodging. Infections among the vaccinated very, very rarely turned severe, and the vaccines had never been designed to stave off all infections. But every positive test among the immunized was still labeled a breakthrough, and carried a whiff of failure. Our COVID shots were never going to stop infections forever—that’s not really what any vaccines do, especially when they’re fighting swiftly shape-shifting respiratory viruses. Think of disease as a tug-of-war on a field with death and asymptomatic infection at opposite ends, and symptomatic disease and transmission in between. The vaccines are pulling in one direction, the virus in the other. A jacked vaccine can force the virus to yield ground: People who would have been seriously ill might get only an irksome cold; people who would have been laid up for a week might now feel nothing at all. When the virus shifts and gains strength, it will first make gains in the zone of infection. But it would have to pull really hard to completely usurp the stretch of field that denotes severe sickness, the vaccines’ most durable stronghold. With the highly mutated Omicron, the coronavirus has once again yanked on the line. This should prompt a heave from us in response: an additional dose of vaccine. But no number of boosts can be expected to make bodies totally impermeable to infection. That means the vaccinated, who can still carry and pass on the virus, cannot exempt themselves from the pandemic, despite what the White House has impliedNone of our tools, in fact, is sufficient on its own for this situation, which makes it extra dicey when …           We still try to use testing as a one-stop solution. For tests to fulfill their very essential role in the pandemic toolkit, they need to be accessible, reliable, and fast. Nearly two years into the pandemic, that’s still not an option for most people in the United States. PCR-based tests, while great at detecting the virus early on in infection, take a long time to run and deliver results. Laboratory personnel remain overstretched and underfunded, and the supply shortages they battled early on never truly disappeared. Rapid at-home tests, although more abundant now, still frequently go out of stock; when people can find them, they’re still paying exorbitant prices. The Biden administration has pledged to make more free tests available, and reimburse some of the ones people nab off shelves. But those benefits won’t kick in until after the new year, leapfrogging the holidays. And only people with private insurance will qualify for reimbursements, which are not always easy to finagle. If anything, the gross inequities in American testing are only poised to grow. Even at their best, test results offer only a snapshot in time—they just tell you if they detected the virus at the moment you swabbed your nose. And yet, days-old negatives are still being used as passports to travel and party. That left plenty of time for Delta to sneak through; with the speedy, antibody-dodging Omicron, the gaps feel even wider. It’s a particular worry now because Omicron seems to rocket up to transmissible levels on a faster timeline than its predecessors—possibly within the first couple of days after people are infected. That leaves a dangerously tight window in which to detect the virus before it has a chance to spread. Test results were never a great proxy for infectiousness; now people will need to be even more careful when acting on results. Already there have been reports of people spreading Omicron at parties, despite receiving negative test results shortly before the events. Omicron cases are growing so quickly that they’re already stressing the United States’ frayed testing infrastructure. In many parts of the country, PCR testing sites are choked with hours-long lines and won’t deliver answers in time for holiday gatherings; a negative result from a rapid antigen test, although speedier, might not hold from morning to afternoon. (Some experts are also starting to worry that certain rapid tests might not detect Omicron as well as they did its predecessors, though some others, like the very-popular BinaxNOW, will probably be just fine; the FDA, which has already identified some PCR tests that are flummoxed by the variant, is investigating.) Our testing problem is only going to get worse, even as …           We pretend the virus won’t be everywhere soon. By now, this story should sound familiar: A new virus causes an outbreak in a country far away. Then cases skyrocket in Europe, then in major U.S. cities—and then in the rest of the country. Travel bans are enacted too late and, in any case, are incredibly porous, banning travel by foreigners but not Americans (as if the virus cared about passports). This is what happened with the original virus and China, and this is what has happened again now with Omicron and southern Africa. Then and now, the experience of other places should have been a warning about how fast this virus can spread. How Omicron cases will translate into hospitalizations will be harder to discern from trends abroad. Whereas everyone started from the same baseline of zero COVID immunity in early 2020, now every country—and even every state in the U.S.—has a unique mix of immunity from different vaccines, different levels of uptake, different booster schemes, or different numbers of previous infections. Americans’ current mix of immunity is not very good at heading off Omicron infections—hence the rapid rise in cases everywhere—but it should be more durable against hospitalizations. We’ll have to keep all of this in mind as we try to divine Omicron’s future in the U.S. from hospitalizations in South Africa and Europe. Could we see differences simply because a country used AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is slightly less effective than the mRNA ones? Or boosted more of its elderly population? Or had a large previous wave of the Beta variant, which never took hold elsewhere? And some communities remain especially vulnerable to the virus for the same reasons they were in March 2020. Just like at the beginning of the pandemic …           We fail to prioritize the most vulnerable groups. As Omicron tears through the U.S., it will likely repeat the inequities of the past two years. Elderly people, whose immune systems are naturally weaker, are especially reliant on the extra protection of a booster. But on top of the 44 percent who haven’t had their boosters yet, 12 percent of Americans 65 and over aren’t even “fully vaccinated” under the soon-to-be-updated definition. Boosters might not even be enough, which is why the most vulnerable elderly people—those packed into nursing homes—must be surrounded by a shield of immunity. But Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for nursing-home staff has faced legal opposition, and almost a quarter of such workers still aren’t vaccinated, let alone boosted. Even if they all got their first shots today, Omicron is spreading faster than their immune defenses could conceivably accrue. Without other defenses, including better ventilation, masking for both staff and visitors, and rapid testing (but … see above), nursing homes will become grim hot spots, as they were in the early pandemic and the first Delta surge. Working-class Americans are vulnerable too. In the pandemic’s first year, they were five times as likely to die of COVID-19 as college-educated people. Working-age people of color were hit even harder: 89 percent fewer would have lost their lives if they’d had the same COVID death rates as white college graduates. These galling disparities will likely recur, because the U.S. has done little to address their root causes. The White House has stressed that “we know how to protect people and we have the tools to do it,” but although America might have said tools, many Americans do not. Airborne viruses are simply more likely to infect people who live in crowded homes, or have jobs that don’t allow them to work remotely. Making vaccines “available at convenient locations and for no cost,” as the White House said it has done, doesn’t account for the time it takes to book and attend an appointment or recover from side effects, and the 53 million Americans—44 percent of the workforce—who are paid low wages, at an hourly median of $10, can ill-afford to take that time off. Nor can they afford to wait in long testing lines or to blow through rapid tests at $25 a pair. Making said tests reimbursable is little help to those who can’t pay out of pocket, or to the millions who lack health insurance altogether. Once infected, low-income people are also less likely to have places in which to isolate, or paid sick leave that would let them miss work. To make it feasible for vulnerable people to protect those around them, New York City is providing several free services for people with COVID, including hotel rooms, meal deliveries, and medical check-ins. But neither the Trump nor Biden administration pushed such social solutions, focusing instead on biomedical countermeasures such as therapeutics and vaccines that, to reiterate, cannot exempt people from the pandemic’s collective problem. Unsurprisingly, people with low incomes, food insecurity, eviction risk, and jobs in grocery stores and agricultural settings are overrepresented among the unvaccinated. The vaccine inequities of the summer will become the booster inequities of the winter, as the most privileged Americans once again have the easiest access to life-saving shots, while the more vulnerable ones are left to keep the economy running. Ultimately, the weight of all these failures will come to rest on the hospital system and the people who work in it, because, even now …           We let health-care workers bear the pandemic’s brunt. Health-care workers have been described as the pandemic’s front line, but the metaphor is inexact. Hospitals are really the rear guard, tasked with healing people who were failed by means of prevention. And America’s continuing laxity around prevention has repeatedly forced its health-care workers to take the brunt of each pandemic surge. Delta was already on its second go at sending hospitalizations climbing. Omicron, with its extreme transmissibility, could accelerate that rise. If so, many of the trends from the early pandemic will likely recur at rapid speed. Omicron’s global spread could cause shortages of vital equipment. Hospitals will struggle to recruit enough staff, and rural hospitals especially so. (Biden’s plan to send 1,000  military personnel to hospitals might help, but most of them won’t be deployed until January.) Nonessential surgeries will be deferred, and many patients will come in sicker after the surge is over, creating crushing catch-up workloads for already tired health-care workers. Many Americans have mistakenly assumed that the health-care system recovers in the lulls between surges. In truth, that system has continually eroded. Droves of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, lab technicians, and other health-care workers have quit, leaving even more work for those left behind. COVID patients are struggling to get care, but so are patients of all kinds. In this specific way, the U.S. is in a worse state than in March 2020. As the doctors Megan Ranney and Joseph Sakran wrote, “We are on the verge of a collapse that will leave us unable to provide even a basic standard of care.” Being overwhelmed is no longer an acute condition that American hospitals might conceivably experience, but a chronic state into which it is now locked. Omicron is dangerous not just in itself, but also because it adds to the damage done by all the previous variants—and at speed. And the U.S. has consistently underestimated the cumulative toll of the pandemic, lowering its guard at the first hint of calm instead of using those moments to prepare for the future. That is why it keeps making the same mistakes. American immune systems are holding on to their memories for dear life, but American minds seem bent on forgetting the past years’ lessons.     Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/12/omicron-mistakes/621112/
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1. [^^] The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo Φ 數百萬人陷入大流行困境

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo When the coronavirus pandemic began, Emily Landon thought about her own risk only in rare quiet moments. An infectious-disease doctor at the University of Chicago Medicine, she was cramming months of work into days, preparing her institution for the virus’s arrival in the United States. But Landon had also recently developed rheumatoid arthritis—a disease in which a person’s immune system attacks their own joints—and was taking two drugs that, by suppressing said immune system, made her more vulnerable to pathogens. Normally, she’d be confident about avoiding infections, even in a hospital setting. This felt different. “We didn’t have enough tests, it was probably around us everywhere, and I’m walking around every day with insufficient antibodies and hamstrung T-cells,” she told me. And she knew exactly what was happening to people who got infected. One night, she found that in the fog of an earlier day, she had written on her to-do list: Make a will. “And I realized, Oh my God, I could die,” she said. “I just cried and cried.” Two years later, COVID-19 is still all around us, everywhere, and millions of people like Landon are walking around with a compromised immune system. A significant proportion of them don’t respond to COVID vaccines, so despite being vaccinated, many are still unsure whether they’re actually protected—and some know that they aren’t. Much of the United States dropped COVID restrictions long ago; many more cities and states are now following. That means policies that protected Landon and other immunocompromised people, including mask mandates and vaccination requirements, are disappearing, while accommodations that benefited them, such as flexible working options, are being rolled back. This isn’t a small group. Close to 3 percent of U.S. adults take immunosuppressive drugs, either to treat cancers or autoimmune disorders or to stop their body from rejecting transplanted organs or stem cells. That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people—a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders. In the past, immunocompromised people lived with their higher risk of infection, but COVID represents a new threat that, for many, has further jeopardized their ability to be part of the world. From the very start of the pandemic, some commentators have floated the idea “that we can protect the vulnerable and everyone else can go on with their lives,” Seth Trueger, who is on immunosuppressants for an autoimmune complication of cancer, told me. “How’s that supposed to work?” He is an emergency doctor at Northwestern Medicine; he can neither work from home nor protect himself by avoiding public spaces. “How am I supposed to provide for my family or live my life if there’s a pandemic raging?” he said. Contrary to popular misconceptions, most immunocompromised people are neither visibly sick nor secluded. “I know very few people who are immunocompromised and get to live in a bubble,” says Maggie Levantovskaya, a writer and literature professor who has lupus, an autoimmune disorder that can cause debilitating inflammation across the entire body. As the coronavirus moves from a furious boil to a gentle simmer, many immunocompromised people (like everyone else) hope to slowly expand their life again. But right now, “it’s like asking someone who cannot swim to jump into the ocean instead of trying a pool,” Vivian Cheung, a biologist at the University of Michigan who has a genetic autoimmune disorder, told me. “I feel this pressure of jumping into the Pacific and not knowing if I can survive or not.” Whether that changes depends on the accommodations society is willing to make. Ramps, accessibility buttons, screen readers, and many other measures have made life easier for disabled people, and a new wave of similar accommodations is now necessary to make immunosuppression less of a disability in the COVID era. Exactly none of the people I talked with wants a permanent lockdown. “It’s not like immunocompromised people are enjoying any of this,” Levantovskaya told me. What they do want—work flexibility, better ways of controlling infectious diseases, and more equitable medical treatments—would also benefit everyone, not just now but for the rest of our lives. For more than three decades, Julia Irzyk has lived with lupus symptoms. She also has rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative spinal condition, and heart problems. When she gets colds, they tend to progress to full-blown pneumonia, so even before the pandemic she was mindful about infections. She’d avoid big events and rarely ate out. When she flew, which she did infrequently, she’d wear a mask. For this story, I spoke with 21 people who are either immunocompromised or care for those who are; others were similarly fastidious pre-pandemic about washing their hands, getting their flu vaccines, and avoiding people who were clearly sick. Landon wouldn’t go to parties at the height of flu season. Cheung wore masks on flights and wiped down the surfaces around her. But none of them was living in seclusion. All of them had rich social lives. COVID changed that. The new coronavirus forced them to go beyond their previous precautions, because it is deadlier than normal respiratory pathogens, can spread from people who aren’t obviously sick, and did so at breakneck speed. Compared with others, when immunocompromised people get COVID-19, they tend to be sicker for longer. Irzyk’s rheumatologist told her not to go out: If you get this, your heart and lungs won’t be able to take it. So she went seven months without leaving her home, and still spends most of her time there. She missed both her grandmothers’ funerals. She delayed important medical procedures, even as her lupus symptoms got worse because one of her treatments—hydroxychloroquine—ran out of stock after Donald Trump falsely touted it as a COVID cure. COVID has also defined Harper Corrigan’s life. She was born in September 2019—nine weeks early, and with a rare brain malformation called lissencephaly. She has never played with another child even though, being sassy and funny, she really wants to. A week before the U.S. shut down in March 2020, Harper had to have a tracheostomy, leaving her even more vulnerable to respiratory viruses and, in turn, potentially deadly seizures. The Corrigans spent 11 months with her in the hospital. Even after her health had stabilized, they couldn’t find any nurses to help with home care, and the hospital wouldn’t discharge her. When they finally got home, they went into strict lockdown. Children with Harper’s condition aren’t expected to live to adulthood, so her mother, Corey, told me that her priority is to “squeeze a full life into an unknown amount of time.” But that requires the spread of the virus to slow, and vaccines to be authorized for children under 5. The danger of the pandemic’s first fearful year still hangs over the heads of many immunocompromised people, even as those around them relax into the security of vaccination. Vaccines should substantially slash the risk of infection and severe illness, but many immunocompromised people barely respond to the COVID shots. At one extreme, about half of organ-transplant recipients produce no antibodies at all after two vaccine doses. Compared with the general vaccinated public, they are 82 times more likely to get breakthrough infections and 485 times more likely to be severely ill. Should they get infected, their risk of hospitalization is a coin flip. Their risk of death is one in 10. “Imagine walking around and being in society and thinking, If you give me COVID, I might have a 10 percent risk of dying,” Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told me. His patients are better off than unvaccinated people, “but not by much, despite all we’ve done.” Other groups of immunocompromised people fare better after vaccination, but Segev estimates that a quarter are still insufficiently protected. And some people with autoimmune disorders cannot be fully vaccinated, because their initial doses led to severe flare-ups of their normal symptoms. Alfred Kim, a rheumatologist at Washington University in St. Louis who specializes in lupus, told me that 5 to 10 percent of his patients experienced these problems; so did two of the people I interviewed, both of whom declined further shots. Many immunocompromised people are now stuck in limbo—unsure about how safe they really are, even after getting three shots and a booster, as the CDC advises. Scientific studies can hint at the average risks across large groups but offer little certainty for individuals. Sometimes, no studies exist at all, as is the case for Cheung, whose genetic disorder is so rare that it doesn’t even have a name. “As a doctor, I’m trained to parse scientific data, but I can’t parse my way to answers that don’t exist,” says Lindsay Ryan, a physician at UC San Francisco who has a neurological autoimmune disorder. “Could I actually define my risk of death if I got COVID? No, I really can’t. And that’s a hard thing to make peace with.” Each individual infection is its own high-stakes gamble. I’ve spoken with immunocompromised people who got COVID and were fine. Others had mild initial illness, but then developed more severe long-COVID symptoms. Yet others are certain they’d fare badly: Chloe Atkins, a political scientist who works on disability and employment issues, has an autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis, and “colds can immediately make it difficult for me to breathe, see, move, walk, or talk,” she told me. She knew two people with the same condition, both of whom died from COVID. She and others are facing the same arduous risk assessments that everyone else contends with—but heightened because of the greater possible costs of choosing wrongly. And while they wrestle with those uncertainties, the gulf between them and the rest of society is widening. Over the past year, as many Americans reveled in their restored freedoms, many immunocompromised people felt theirs shrinking. When the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to mask indoors, simple activities such as grocery shopping became more dangerous for immunocompromised people, who were offered no advice from the nation’s top public-health agency. When Joe Biden said in a speech that unvaccinated Americans were “looking at a winter of severe illness and death,” “I felt like he was talking to me,” Cheung said. And when commentators bemoaned irrational liberals who refused to abandon pandemic restrictions, many of the people I spoke with felt they were being mocked for trying to protect themselves and their loved ones. “I already feel different from other people because of this situation,” Colleen Boyce told me; she donated a kidney to her husband, Mark, who is now immunosuppressed. “The thought that when I mask up, others might look at me like there’s something wrong with me is hard to handle.” These changes were especially hard to take because, for a time, immunocompromised people caught a glimpse of something better. Beth Wallace, a rheumatologist at the University of Michigan, told me that many of her patients once accepted that viruses would regularly flatten them but have now realized that they don’t have to live that way. Cautious behaviors and flexibility around work meant that the flu practically vanished, and many immunocompromised people were actually less sick during the COVID era than before. And while they don’t want lockdowns to persist, they had hoped that the flexibility might. Sung Yun Pai of the National Institutes of Health told me that in the past, her patients—children who receive stem-cell transplants to treat genetic immune disorders—would simply have had to miss school. “In some ways, the whole world going virtual gave them better access to education,” she said. But remote options are now disappearing, and not just in schooling. Several immunocompromised people told me that their social world is shrinking, as friends who earlier in the pandemic hung out with them virtually are now interested only in face-to-face gatherings. Work is becoming less flexible too. Finding and keeping jobs can be very hard for people with chronic illnesses such as lupus, which can leave them feeling powerless to advocate for themselves. With “close to no say about your working conditions, you can only do so much to protect yourself,” Levantovskaya, the literature professor, said. Several immunocompromised people have been told that they’re holding the rest of society back. In fact, it is the opposite: They’re being forced to reintegrate with no regard for their residual risk. And perhaps worst of all, immunocompromised people began to be outright dismissed by their friends, relatives, and colleagues because of the misleading narrative that Omicron is mild. The variant bypassed some of the defenses that even immunocompetent people had built up, rendered several antibody treatments ineffective, and swamped the health-care system that immunocompromised people rely on. And yet one of Wallace’s patients was told by their sister that no one is dying anymore. In fact, people are still dying, and immunocompromised people disproportionately so. Ignoring that sends an implicit message: Your lives don’t matter. Sometimes, the message becomes explicit. Several of the immunocompromised people I talked with have been told—sometimes by family members or former partners—that they are a burden on society, that they don’t deserve a relationship, that their dying would be natural selection. When Corey Corrigan was trying to decide whether to put Harper through another surgery, “a medical provider said, ‘Well, she’s not going to live very long, so it doesn’t really matter,’” she told me. When Atkins, the political scientist, first heard that the other coronaviruses that cause common colds may have started as worse pathogens, she immediately thought about what that trajectory means for COVID. “Oh, people like me die off and the ones for whom it’s not a big impact carry on, and COVID becomes a cold,” she told me. “Part of me still feels that way, like there’s a sort of natural eugenics happening.” Eugenics—the concept of improving humanity by encouraging the “fittest” people to have children while preventing the “unfit” from doing so—is most commonly associated with the Holocaust, Aparna Nair, an anthropologist and historian of disability at the University of Oklahoma, told me. But in the 20th century, the concept had broad support from physicians and public-health practitioners, who saw it as a scientific way of solving problems such as poverty and poor health; it influenced the development of IQ tests, marriage counseling, and immigration laws. Eugenics is “often framed as part of a past that is over,” Nair said. “I think the pandemic has demonstrated that that’s not entirely the case.” Most Americans today would probably think the concept reprehensible and few are actively pursuing it. But when a society acts as if the deaths of vulnerable people are unavoidable, and does little to lessen their risks, it is still implicitly assigning lower value to certain lives. COVID isn’t going away. With eradication long off the table, the disease will become a permanent part of our lives—another serious infectious threat added to a ledger already full of them. “Everyone who’s immunocompromised will have to figure out what their normal looks like—and it isn’t going to look like the normal for other people,” Ryan, of UC San Francisco, told me. New treatments could help. Paxlovid, an antiviral drug from Pfizer, can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID by 88 percent, as long as patients are treated within five days of their first symptoms (although the NIH notes that the drug shouldn’t be given alongside certain immunosuppressants). Evusheld, a two-antibody cocktail from AstraZeneca, can reduce the risk of developing COVID, and though less effective against Omicron, it is still protective; the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the cocktail to prevent infections in immunocompromised people. But these drugs are in short supply. The government has ordered only 1.7 million doses of Evusheld and distributed 400,000, which is woefully inadequate given that the U.S. has at least 7 million immunocompromised adults. Many institutions have only enough for their most severely immunosuppressed patients, “and there’s people like me who don’t even come close to meeting the cut,” UChicago Medicine’s Landon told me. Even patients who clear the high bar of medical need might not be able to get a dose quickly; some hospitals have had to run lotteries to decide who gets the drugs. “It’s truly not acceptable,” said Cheung, who got Evusheld only by pestering every medical contact she had—a route not available to people without connections, time, or privilege. For her and others, this problem compounds their sense that their government deems them dispensable, especially considering the far-greater effort put into producing and distributing vaccines. “There’s a drug that could prevent immunocompromised people who aren’t protected from vaccines from dying,” Ryan said. “Shouldn’t they have access to it before we decide that COVID belongs in the same category as the flu?” Beyond equitable access to treatments, the people I spoke with mostly want structural changes—better ventilation standards, widespread availability of tests, paid sick leave, and measures to improve vaccination rates. Above all else, they want flexibility, in both private and public spaces. That means remote-work and remote-school options, but also mask mandates for essential spaces such as grocery stores and pharmacies, which could be toggled on or off depending on a community’s caseload. Without better, more available treatments or more structural changes, immunocompromised people will still depend on measures that prevent infections. Maintaining them would require, at times, that others make some allowance for their heightened risk. But in terms of what individual people can do for them, the most common request I heard was: Just have a heartRegardless of your own choices, don’t jeer at us for being mindful of our higher risks, and definitely don’t tell us that our lives are worth less. All of these measures would protect society as a whole from infectious diseases in general. They would also require some upfront investment in deciding how, exactly, they would work—should companies be required to offer remote work, when possible, for some duration? What’s the threshold for switching on mask requirements? These policies represent added expense and effort for our institutions, but this is the question that the U.S. now faces: COVID has added burdens to our society; who will bear their weight? Immunocompromised people often hear that the world didn’t make accommodations for them before the pandemic and shouldn’t be expected to do so after. But in the past, infectious diseases did prompt big social changes. A massive infrastructure was created to meet the yearly onslaught of influenza, including antivirals, annual vaccines, and a global surveillance system that tracks new strains. After the polio epidemics of the 1940s, “there was a wave of interest in remote schooling and an increasing number of people who used phones and other technologies to finish school and go to university,” Nair, the historian of disability, told me. And in the late 20th century, the notion of disability itself began to shift. It used to be seen as an entirely medical problem—something that emerges from a person’s biology and can be fixed, Nair said. But the disability-rights movement ushered in a more social model, in which disability is as much about a person’s environment as it is about their body. People who use wheelchairs are more enabled in spaces with ramps and accessibility buttons on doors. Similarly, equitable access to Evusheld and flexible working policies would make immunocompromised people less disabled in an era where COVID is here to stay. COVID will eventually become endemic—a term “with so many definitions that it means almost nothing at all,” as my colleagues Katherine J. Wu and Jacob Stern wrote. “The error I hear so often now is to use the notion of an endemic virus as a reason for abdication—to drop precautions quickly and not do the more important and difficult work of putting in place the societal measures that would make living with coronavirus more tolerable,” Ryan said. “We need to earn the ability to switch from emergency to endemic.” Fashioning a world in which being immunocompromised requires fewer compromises is possible and is not too onerous. And even if people reject the moral argument for creating such a world, there are two good, selfish reasons to build it nonetheless. First, the coronavirus evolves rapidly in people with weakened immune systems, who also suffer longer infections and are contagious for more time. The Alpha variant of the first pandemic winter likely evolved in this way, and Omicron may have too. “It’s quite possible that a new variant that harms someone with a normal immune system could come from an immunocompromised person who they failed to protect,” Kim, the Washington University rheumatologist, told me. Second, the immune system weakens with age, so while most people will never be as vulnerable as an organ-transplant recipient, their immunity will still become partly compromised. Respecting the needs of immunocompromised people isn’t about disproportionately accommodating some tiny minority; it’s really about empathizing with your future self. “Everyone’s going to deal with illness at some point in their life,” Levantovskaya said. “Don’t you want a better world for yourself when that time comes?”     Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/covid-pandemic-immunocompromised-risk-vaccines/622094/
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16. [^^] BCGEU strike: How it could impact the lives of BC residents – Burnaby Now

BCGEU strike: How it could impact the lives of BC residents – Burnaby Now Φ BCGEU罷工:它如何影響BC省居民的生活 – 本拿比現在

BCGEU strike: How it could impact the lives of BC residents – Burnaby Now cullen corrupt Unionized B.C. public sector workers are now striking at liquor and cannabis warehouses; could more services — from campsites to social services — be disrupted? B.C. residents may start noticing empty shelves at government and private liquor retailers, as well as fewer online options for cannabis in the coming days now that the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) has followed through on its threat of job action. On Monday, union members took picket lines to four government liquor and cannabis distribution centres, in what amounts to a strike against the B.C. NDP government. BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says the strike action is targeted to impact government operation but also be “thoughtful” to the needs of the public. Blocking distribution of liquor and cannabis products out of Delta, Kamloops, Richmond and Victoria means shelves at BC Liquor and cold beer and wine shops may become empty of certain products, Smith said. The warehouse strike could last for an indefinite amount of time, so long as the government does not meet the union’s demands, according to Smith.  Smith would not say if the union has plans to strike elsewhere — although she did not rule out the possibility of an escalation plan. The warehouse workers represent just a small fraction of the roughly 33,000 BCGEU members without a government contract since April 1, meaning there could be disruptions elsewhere in the future. The public service sector portion of the BCGEU also includes correctional officers, sheriffs, social workers, child protection workers, probation officers, systems analysts, ministerial administrative services, biologists, design engineers, conservation officers, park rangers, wildfire firefighters and government inspectors and planners. However, not all these workers can strike, according to an essential services order from the BC Labour Relations Board obtained last week. Smith explained that strikes may occur in each sector so long as essential services continue. An essential service means one that has an immediate, negative impact on the life and safety of people. This standard is very high in the health-care sector, for example, as opposed to retail liquor where there are private sector options, explained Smith. And so, only limited job action around these essential areas, where managers are forced to “roll up their sleeves,” could theoretically occur with minimum staffing thresholds in place, said Smith. A strike of wildfire firefighters “would just not happen,” said Smith. However, it remains unclear to Smith what exact workers can and cannot strike, as the union reviews the roughly 1,200-page decision that has yet to be published by the board. Whether the warehouses continue to be picketed and if escalation does occur all boils down to wages and cost of living and whether the government can offer a satisfactory contract, said Smith. The Public Service Agency (PSA) went public in July with its offer of an 11% pay increase over three years plus a $2,500 payment per worker. But Smith said the union wants a top-up payment, plus wage increases in line with inflation, which hit 8.1% in June. The union initially sought a two-year deal but Smith said it’s now willing to accept three years despite economic uncertainties. Smith said the union is still negotiating what metric of inflation it will use for its cost of living adjustment, to reach a deal. Smith said BC MLA salaries are tied to inflation, noting their recent pay raise, as is minimum wage. “We’re not asking for anything they don’t afford themselves,” said Smith. She argues inflation-adjusted wages can be achieved without raising taxes, as the provincial government has shown favourable financial reports, including $16 billion in unrestricted contingencies. The most recent PSA-BCGEU contract expired on April 1, 2022. Negotiations for a new collective agreement started on Feb. 8. Bargaining reached impasse on April 6, and union members voted 95% in favour of job action on June 22. The union said parties met again in July but talks quickly broke down. Today’s strike is a rare event, noted Smith; the last time BCGEU members took to picket lines was in 2012, in limited job action against the BC Liberal government. And before 2012, the BCGEU conducted a large all-members general strike in 1983 against the BC Social Credit Party.  The BCGEU notes 400,000 public sector workers have contracts expiring this year; this includes 49,000 members of the BC Teachers’ Federation, 44,000 members of the Hospital Employees’ Union and 48,000 from the B.C. Nurses Union. The B.C. government responded to Glacier Media following initial publication of this article. While Minister of Finance Selina Robinson of the BC NDP is in charge of the negotiations, by way of the Public Service Agency,  Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon responded to Glacier Media and provided no commitment to wages pegged to inflation. Kahlon stated, in part, the government “wants to ensure that agreements are fair and reasonable, and support the needs of workers, the people of British Columbia and the government’s fiscal plan so that we also have the resources to keep  delivering the programs and services that everyone in B.C. depends on.” gwood@glaciermedia.ca     Source: https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/bc-news/what-bc-residents-may-expect-from-striking-public-sector-workers-5700158
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9. [^^] Canada’s public service is collapsing. Let us count the ways | National Post

Canada’s public service is collapsing. Let us count the ways | National Post Φ 加拿大的公共服務正在崩潰。讓我們數一數|國家郵政

Canada’s public service is collapsing. Let us count the ways | National Post NewsCanadian PoliticsCanada From passport pandemonium and air travel anarchy to missing visas, a look at Canada’s dysfunctional government services Part of a National Post series looking at how even the most basic government services are broken-down and out of service for Canadians   Passport pandemonium If you’ve needed a new passport within the last few months, good luck. Those whose essential travel document expired within the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic are now facing a harsh new reality when it comes to getting a renewed passport. Long lines, camping overnight outside passport offices, desperation, tears, flared tempers and the occasional fist fight. That is if they weren’t willing to pony up hundreds of dollars, at a rate of $25 to $50 per hour, to pay someone to wait in line at the passport office for them. Between April 1 and June 13, the government says it received nearly 550,000 new passport applications, an influx that the minister responsible for Service Canada, Karina Gould, said officials were not ready for.   That is much higher than the average number of requests during the pandemic lull where Service Canada received barely one-fifth of the normal passport application volume, but well lower than the regular pre-pandemic volume.  Some of the people in the lineup at a Services Canada passport office in Toronto had been there since before 7 am. Photo by Julie Oliver /Postmedia In fact, compared to annual averages pre-2020, the number of passports being processed in 2022 would be officially considered “low volume.” Despite that, the situation at passport offices hit a critical point in late June, with hopeful applicants sometimes camping two nights in a row in front of a federal building in Montreal just to nab a new passport. Gould said that offices in the city are seeing upwards of 500 people in line daily when they normally process between 150 and 200 applications.    Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, shown in Edmonton on April 19, 2022. The president of the union representing passport workers, Kevin King of the Union of National Employees, said the unprecedented wait times are due to a series of factors, from more people letting their passport expire during the pandemic to the federal government’s failure to see the post-lockdown rush coming and train enough new employees to help. Gould’s office told the Toronto Sun in early June that 11 per cent of passport officers are currently working from home. Montreal passport workers recently told the mass of campers in front of their offices that they would only let them in the office if they had a flight within 24 hours. Television camera crews captured images of applicants pleading and sobbing, because they risked missing a wedding, a funeral or seeing an ailing family member.   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly called it “unacceptable,” and yet it keeps going. The situation became so dire recently that the government decided to set up a new cabinet committee that will look at how to improve the situation. One of those potential solutions is to put an end to teleworking arrangements for Service Canada employees working on passports, committee co-president and minister Marc Miller told La Presse in late June. Since then, the situation in Montreal has shown small signs of improvement, namely that people flying out within 24 to 48 hours can generally get their passport on time and don’t have to camp in front of Service Canada offices overnight. This week, the federal government issued an urgent request for tender, looking for suppliers to provide 801 chairs to a Montreal passport office, so more people standing in line will be able to sit.   — Christopher Nardi Lost in translation Interpreters have been some of the more discreet essential workers during the pandemic, tirelessly translating the words of elected officials in both official languages during virtual press conferences, committee meetings and parliamentary proceedings. Much of it over Zoom. But more than two years of faulty internet connections and lack of proper microphones have left them exhausted and injured. Many have quit. Others are close to it. From March 2020 to February 2022, the 65 permanent interpreters at the Translation Bureau reported a total of 208 hazard reports in Parliament. Most of them reported ear pain and headaches, but other reported symptoms also included excessive physical and mental fatigue.   The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) union said it has been sounding the alarm on interpreters’ health and safety concerns with parliamentary committees and MPs from all political parties since the start of the pandemic. But those concerns have only started to be taken seriously in past months when a lack of interpreters forced parliamentary committees to cancel their meetings and slow down their work, obstructing the ability of Parliament to do its job.  Canadian Members of Parliament are shown on a monitor during a virtual session of the House of Commons Tuesday April 28, 2020 in Ottawa. Photo by Adrian Wyld /THE CANADIAN PRESS Interpreter representatives indicate that tinnitus — a high-pitched ringing sound in either one or both ears — is now widespread, affecting almost all those who worked during the pandemic. Roughly one-third of the interpreters were forced to take medical leave due to injuries caused by poor sound quality in virtual meetings. Between March 2020 and October 2021, 24 interpreters took a total of 280 days of sick leave, which amounts to nearly 12 days off work per interpreter.   And those do not include all the freelancers, who cannot submit hazard reports and who are regularly asked to cover assignments off Parliament Hill. “I’m terribly upset. It’s devastating for my membership. It’s devastating to the fact that their quality of life has suffered and some people have left the profession as a result of it,” said CAPE president Greg Phillips. “Interpreters are a scarce resource. And as a scarce resource, they should’ve been protected and helped sooner and longer, because an interpretation is a unique skill,” he added. The Liberal government just passed a motion, with help from the NDP, to extend hybrid Parliament for another year, meaning MPs can keep Zooming in virtually if they can’t be in the House. Phillips is “cautiously optimistic” that work conditions for his members will improve now that Parliament is installing a new audiovisual system and putting in new consoles that should increase the sound-quality levels.   But that comes too late for many interpreters who are already injured, often because elected officials did not bother to simply use a decent microphone. — Catherine Lévesque Air travel anarchy After two years of travelling not much further than their front doors, Canadians ready to take to the skies this year were faced with airport staff shortages, ongoing COVID rules and lineups, leading to cancellations, delays and frustrating waits. Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau announced his airline would be cancelling flights this summer just as the busy summer season heats up. “This surge in travel has created unprecedented and unforeseen strain on all aspects of the global aviation system,” he said. “Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally and this is affecting our operations.”   In total, the airline will cancel 154 flights a day for the next two months.  Unclaimed luggage at Terminal 3 Canada Arrivals at Toronto Pearson International Airport on July 5, 2022. Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia Airlines and airports laid off tens of thousands of workers from 2019 to 2021 as lockdowns, travel restrictions and safety concerns saw passenger loads drop to fractions of their pre-pandemic levels. April 2020 saw 97-per-cent fewer air travellers from the year before. Statistics Canada shows there were 106,000 workers employed in scheduled air transport and related industries in March 2019; in August 2021, there were fewer than 37,000, less than a third as many. As travel bounces back, painfully long lineups have become routine at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, especially for returning travellers who have to go through customs checks, including a requirement that they show proof of COVID vaccination.   The government has removed the vaccine requirement for domestic travel and hired more than 1,000 new security screeners, but travellers are still finding themselves waiting in hours-long line-ups or stuck on the tarmac as holdups snowball into more and more backups. Waits for security screening have started to decline but reports of delayed and missing luggage have gotten worse. Unprecedented and unforeseen strain Despite calls for loosening rules, the government has kept a requirement for international travellers to be vaccinated and requires travellers from overseas to use the ArriveCan app. The need to use the ArriveCan app extends to the land border as well, delaying millions of Americans who usually make the trip in non-pandemic times.   Testifying for Parliament, earlier this month, Neil Parry, vice president of operations at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, told MPs the rebound came much sooner than his agency expected. “The demand that occurred in April and May was well above our forecasted demand, I would wager to say above the industry’s expected demand,” he said. “We’ve recently seen the pent-up demand for air travel materialize at airports much earlier than I think many anticipated.” Beth Porter, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said these airport problems are leading to bigger problems, as tour operators, hotel owners and other people in the tourism industry deal with travellers rescheduling, missing or cancelling their bookings, which have their own knock-on effects. With travel horror stories in the news, some travellers are opting to stay home.   “It’s putting a negative light on the idea of travel. And certainly causing people to think twice about getting on an airplane,” she said. “We think that it’s going to take us well into next year before we can get back to where we would have been for domestic travel in 2019.” Potter said the industry is hearing from a lot of people who want to travel and are finding ways around the current bottlenecks in the system. “We’re hearing, ‘I’m trying to come but I don’t want to come through Toronto, or I heard Montreal airport was a mess’.” She said the industry’s biggest concern right now is what happens in the fall, whether business travel returns to regular volumes, but she said the summer is also crucial for many tourism operators.   “A busy day in July, that can equal a week’s worth of revenue in February. So, these are very important especially on the leisure side.” — Ryan Tumilty Vanishing visas For foreign travellers from countries that Canada doesn’t permit entry from without prior arrangement, getting a visa to visit here has been a tense game of hit and miss. Just as Ottawa started lifting travel restrictions, would-be visa applicants began encountering long, unexplained waits that frustrated their plans to visit Canada. In December, Sky Sports Formula One Racing Analyst Karun Chandhok — a citizen of India living in the U.K. and married to a Canadian— arrived at a Canadian foreign office in London to renew his 10-year temporary residence visa. His plan was to visit Canada in June, to cover the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal for the Sky network. While processing these sorts of visas typically only take a few weeks, his application was still showing as “in process” after six months.   Visa-processing delays have also hamstrung the travel plans of doctors and scientists from around the world who had planned to attend the first post-pandemic World AIDS Conference this summer. Two-hundred and fifty AIDS and HIV organizations from around the world to signed a letter recently to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s office , urging his office to break the logjam and allow delegates to attend the conference. Delegates scheduled to attend last month’s Collision Conference in Toronto also reported long delays. As with the AIDS Conference, most of Collision’s frustrated applicants were from Africa and southeast Asian nations.  Karun Chandhok looks on during the Goodwood Festival of Speed at Goodwood, July 2021, in Chichester, England. Chandhok’s visa renewal application to Canada has been ‘in process’ for six months. Photo by James Bearne /Getty Images As of June, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) visa application backlog sits at 1,471,173, with 771,482 of those for temporary residence, or visitor, visas. IRCC spokesperson Nancy Caron pointed to the volume of visa requests as a complication.   “In the first four months of 2022, IRCC received 1,441,594 temporary residence application, which compares to 1,075,376 for the same time period in 2019, before the pandemic,” Caron said. In 2019, IRCC approved 1,068,425 of those visitor visa requests, she said, suggesting there were 6,951 requests unprocessed or refused. In the first four months of this year, she said IRCC approved 1,068,425 of the visitor visa requests, which suggests 373,169 were not processed as of April. More recent figures were not available. An appreciable portion of that backlog are temporary residence applications from those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Caron said — amounting to just under 300,000 individuals. Impacts of the backlog aren’t being felt equally around the world.   Chandhok told the National Post his father, who lives in India, renewed his visa on the same day as he did in London — and received his visa in a little over two weeks. — Bryan Passifiume Access denied Government transparency in the form of access-to-information requests was famously frustrating well before the pandemic. But the already broken system got even worse during the pandemic, critics say. Access to information is used by journalists, academics, and others to request information from government that wouldn’t be available otherwise. It can capture documents such as briefing notes prepared for ministers, and department documents and emails. That’s if the system works as advertised, which it never really has.   Even before the pandemic, “the system wasn’t working,” said lawyer Michel Drapeau, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, who specializes in access to information and privacy law. He said institutions already couldn’t meet the deadlines set out in legislation to respond to requests. Government institutions are supposed to respond within 30 days to an access-to-information request, although they can ask for extensions if there’s a large volume of records or if they have to consult with other departments or other third parties before releasing information. The performance standard the government sets is to close 90 per cent of access to information and privacy (ATIP) requests within legislated time frames. Excluding data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which accounted for most of the closed ATIP requests that year, in 2020–21 “49.3 percent of institutions that closed a request met this standard, a decline of 11.6 percent,” according to the Treasury Board. Drapeau said once the pandemic started, public servants were working from home, and the records involved weren’t necessarily available electronically. The work of an ATIP co-ordinator can also require face-to-face contact with colleagues to figure out where to find the relevant records.   “So, the fact that they were not at the office and working from home, understandably, it took more time and more confusion,” he said. But more than two years into the pandemic, government institutions have had ample time to figure it out, according the federal information commissioner. In her annual report released earlier this month, Caroline Maynard noted that government institutions have now had more than two years to adapt. “Realistically, COVID-19 can no longer be used an excuse for not living up to legislative obligations in the area of access to information,” she said. Maynard pointed out that fully 65 government institutions had no capacity or only partial capacity to process secret and top-secret electronic records by the end of 2021–22 fiscal year. Staff in 28 institutions had either no access or limited access for processing physical files. “This indicates to me that a number of institutions are not meeting their legislative obligations, while some appear to consider them as optional,” she said. Drapeau pointed out that government statistics can’t fully illustrate the extent of the problem. “What it will not show is people like me, and probably a number of others, who basically cease or reduce (requests), or did both, because we simply we simply understand that we’re not going to get what we’re after.” — Anja Karadeglija NP Posted Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300 Thanks for signing up! A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it, please check your junk folder. The next issue of NP Posted will soon be in your inbox. We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again     Source: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/all-the-ways-canada-government-out-of-service
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6. [^^] China’s Crisis of Confidence

China’s Crisis of Confidence Φ 中國的信任危機

China’s Crisis of Confidence   What if the new era of great-power competition was over before it had even begun? Many of today’s fears about a multigeneration conflict with Beijing rest on linear extrapolations of yesteryear’s data, harkening back to a time when China appeared on track to supplant the United States as the world’s largest economy. Yet more and more signs point to a China that is fully unprepared for the competition with the United States it once sought. China’s economy, long in decline, is now in freefall—thanks to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s mismanagement. Case in point: This year, the U.S. economy is forecast to grow faster than China’s for the first time since 1976, with strong indications that China has entered a prolonged era of slow growth. More surprising is that Xi, in an attempt to stabilize China’s finances, has largely abandoned his ambitious plans to overhaul China’s growth model, choosing instead to double down on the very economic policies that got China into today’s economic bind in the first place. Put differently, Xi blinked. What if the new era of great-power competition was over before it had even begun? Many of today’s fears about a multigeneration conflict with Beijing rest on linear extrapolations of yesteryear’s data, harkening back to a time when China appeared on track to supplant the United States as the world’s largest economy. Yet more and more signs point to a China that is fully unprepared for the competition with the United States it once sought. China’s economy, long in decline, is now in freefall—thanks to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s mismanagement. Case in point: This year, the U.S. economy is forecast to grow faster than China’s for the first time since 1976, with strong indications that China has entered a prolonged era of slow growth. More surprising is that Xi, in an attempt to stabilize China’s finances, has largely abandoned his ambitious plans to overhaul China’s growth model, choosing instead to double down on the very economic policies that got China into today’s economic bind in the first place. Put differently, Xi blinked. Xi’s reversal speaks volumes. It suggests he lacks confidence in his own plan to transform China’s unsustainable economic model into one that can deliver on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) promise of “high quality” growth. More important is that China’s fizzling economic miracle may soon undercut the CCP’s ability to wage a sustained struggle for geostrategic dominance. This raises a tantalizing question: What if, instead of being a competitor, China cannot actually afford to compete at all? Xi is often said to have tapped into Chinese resentment over its colonial-era humiliations to kick-start its modern-day competition with the United States. But the decision to jettison China’s policy of hiding its capabilities and biding its time began much earlier. Indeed, for decades before Xi’s ascent into power, CCP elites made clear this dictum would be discarded as soon as the international balance of power shifted in China’s favor. When Washington looked to be terminally weakened by the 2008 financial crisis, Chinese officials made their move, betting that overseas investments and economic coercion were the keys to outcompeting the West. They were mostly right. China’s economic clout, beyond any other consideration, still serves as the foundation for the country’s vast influence. The gravitational pull of China’s market, along with Beijing’s ability to influence economic conditions and shape political perceptions in other countries, enabled China to bind itself to the world. The fruits of China’s economic expansion also underwrote its power projection, covering the costs of the Belt and Road Initiative, military modernization, and expanding multilateral commitments. China’s GDP growth paid domestic dividends for the CCP too, empowering a model of state capitalism that broke down the barriers between the private sector and government institutions to mobilize the former in service of the latter. Nevertheless, China’s meteoric rise, fueled by annual GDP growth above 6 percent, appears over. Yes, China’s economy has been cooling for years, plagued by systematic deficiencies like chronic overinvestment, massive debt loads, and a shrinking workforce, which has put enormous stresses on China’s finances. But these systematic trends have been exacerbated, perhaps irreversibly, by China’s disastrous pandemic response, where the lack of an effective domestic vaccine and the CCP’s unwillingness to approve and purchase Western ones have made rolling lockdowns a permanent way of life. So far, the CCP’s containment measures have resulted in plummeting industrial output, surging unemployment, capital flight, and a sinking currency. Efforts to stabilize the Chinese economy will be further strained by a deteriorating external environment, with the World Bank warning of 1970s-style stagflation and reduced global demand for Chinese exports—until now, the engine of China’s growth. The economy remains severely dependent on vast supplies of imported fuel, grain, and other commodities whose prices have massively surged. Western technology transfer restrictions are also taking their toll. Another challenge is growing frustration in China’s largest markets—the United States and the European Union—over Xi’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Already, large multinational companies like Apple are shifting supply chains to Southeast Asia and other regions perceived as more stable while expatriates are abandoning the country and newly minted college graduates flee in droves. Indeed, China’s brain drain has begun. READ MORE  china-decline-deena-so-oteh-illustration-hp The Dangers of China’s Decline   As China’s economic miracle fades, its leaders may become more inclined to take risks.  Xi and Putin in Moscow Why Xi Is Trapped in Ukraine   Now, it is Russia, not China, sitting in the geopolitical driver’s seat. So far, Xi has offered few new ideas for remedying China’s crisis, even as his subordinates warn about the need to “act decisively” to avoid financial ruin. Xi’s big bet consists of an “all-out” infrastructure push to boost the economy—the same approach that fueled China’s current debt bubble, massive industrial overcapacity, and the creation of entire ghost cities of half-finished apartments. But such investments are unlikely to stimulate China’s economy, not least because they are focused on propping up the least productive parts of China’s economy, including the state sector. Making matters worse, Xi has offered little relief for Chinese consumers, the linchpin in his effort to drum up domestic consumption, decrease inequality, and reduce the economy’s reliance on exports and unproductive investments. Consumers were integral to China’s pandemic rebound in 2021 but now face growing fears about job security and sustained income losses from never-ending lockdowns. At the same time, one by one, Xi’s signature economic initiatives have disappeared from the front pages of China’s state-owned newspapers. That includes Xi’s push for “common prosperity,” which ostensibly aimed to reduce extreme inequality by giving ordinary Chinese a greater share of the nation’s wealth. Plans to introduce a property tax to slow down China’s notorious real estate bubble—where the elite have amassed vast fortunes—have also been shelved. Chinese regulators have also signaled an end to Xi’s crackdown on China’s tech giants, whose growing influence has long been viewed as a growing threat to the CCP’s power. Nevertheless, foreign investors, who lost billions of dollars on Chinese tech stocks tanked by Xi’s policies, remain wary. With many Western banks warning that the regulatory risks of investing in China now outweigh the potential benefits, these investors may not come to Beijing’s rescue either. Mere months before Xi’s coronation to a third term as party secretary, CCP officials whose jobs it is to worry about economic growth, like Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, are now openly pitted against Xi and those more concerned with regime security and party control, such as Chinese Vice Premiers Han Zheng and Hu Chunhua. While Xi projects calm and warns citizens not to question his zero-COVID policies, Li refuses to endorse them and instead speaks of China’s “complicated and grave” situation. This fractured policy environment, where ideological and technocratic factions battle for influence, is eerily reminiscent of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s era. Just as it did then, today’s intraparty clash will produce winners and losers. For now, the latter group includes Xi, who will probably be forced to make key personnel concessions during this fall’s 20th National Party Congress to secure the support needed to guarantee a third term. For the remainder of 2022, China’s worsening domestic challenges will remain the party’s highest priority, and addressing them will take up an increasing share of China’s economic resources. The upshot is that U.S.-China tensions will likely remain subdued, at least for the short-to-medium term. More difficult to predict, however, is how China’s fight for resources and power will affect the country’s various domestic stakeholders. For the first time in a while, China’s state-owned enterprises, provincial and local governments, private companies, and citizens will be forced to compete for a piece of a pie that is no longer growing. As a result, funding trade-offs will be necessary, including those considered inconceivable when China’s annual growth hovers around 10 percent. That will include cuts to current and planned investments in China’s power projection capabilities, both civilian and military. Outbound Chinese development loans, a key tool for Beijing to expand relations across Asia and Africa, have already dropped 96 percent in recent years, from $75 billion in 2016 to approximately $4 billion during the pandemic. The overall average value of Belt and Road Initiative-related projects, averaging $255 billion annually between 2010 and 2019, also cratered to less than $81 billion in 2020. Although these figures may recover slightly, Chinese policymakers will be hard pressed to justify such expenditures as China’s economy falters. Similar trade-offs will also be necessary for certain aspects of China’s defense spending. In a contested resource environment, tensions will almost certainly emerge between China’s army, navy, and domestic security apparatus. The same goes for civil-military relations because local officials are often expected to provide the military with the materiel and support required for training and large-scale exercises. Overtime, China’s economic slowdown could also lead to civil unrest, which could force the military to become more involved in maintaining domestic security at the expense of its broader modernization. Potential economic constraints could also impede plans to fully fund newly announced ventures, such as China’s space force. Over the long term, China could be forced to choose among certain core missions, such as monitoring China’s coast, building up its South China Sea outposts, maintaining its air defense identification zone, and even protecting its unruly borders. Either way, China’s military will be forced to do more with less. In the end though, China’s sustained economic cooldown and Xi’s crisis of confidence will result in the very outcome he, the CCP, and Chinese nationalists feared most: broad recognition that China may be incapable of competing with the United States at all.     Source: https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/06/13/china-xi-jinping-economy-downturn-slowdown-decline-geopolitics-competition-united-states/
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10. [^^] Uber hired oligarch-linked Russian lobbyist despite bribery fears

Uber hired oligarch-linked Russian lobbyist despite bribery fears Φ Uber不顧賄賂擔憂,雇傭了與寡頭有聯繫的俄羅斯說客

Uber hired oligarch-linked Russian lobbyist despite bribery fears TUF Uber secretly hired a political operative linked to Russian oligarchs in an attempt to buy influence in the country, despite concerns that paying the lobbyist risked bribes being paid to “grease the skids”. The deal was part of a concerted effort by the Silicon Valley company to court several billionaires as well as top state officials allegedly aligned with Vladimir Putin in an attempt to secure its place in the Russian market. Uber’s previously unknown lobbying campaign in Russia is laid bare in the Uber files, a leak of more than 124,000 documents to the Guardian. They reveal how in 2015-16 Uber tried to secure influence at the highest levels of the Russian state by approaching oligarchs said to have close ties to the Kremlin and encouraging them to invest in the company. Q&A What are the Uber files? Show The Uber files is a global investigation based on a trove of 124,000 documents that were leaked to the Guardian by Mark MacGann, Uber’s former chief lobbyist in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The data consist of emails, iMessages and WhatsApp exchanges between the Silicon Valley giant’s most senior executives, as well as memos, presentations, notebooks, briefing papers and invoices. The leaked records cover 40 countries and span 2013 to 2017, the period in which Uber was aggressively expanding across the world. They reveal how the company broke the law, duped police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments across the world. To facilitate a global investigation in the public interest, the Guardian shared the data with 180 journalists in 29 countries via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation was managed and led by the Guardian with the ICIJ. In a statement, Uber said: “We have not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not in line with our present values. Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come.” But it is the arrangement with Vladimir Senin – an influential lobbyist at the time and now a pro-Kremlin member of the State Duma – that could prove most damaging to Uber. Former US prosecutors and corruption experts said the circumstances in which Uber hired Senin in 2016 should have raised “red flags” and risked breaching US anti-bribery laws. Uber accepted it had hired Senin and paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars, but said it did not believe there was any violation of the law. Referring to his ties to Putin, a company spokesperson said: “We certainly would not engage with Mr Senin or others like him today.” Uber’s relationship with Senin was one pillar of an aggressive push in Russia, when the company elbowed its way into a potentially vast market before encountering threats from state agencies, prosecutors and competitors. Vladimir Senin at a banking forum in Sochi in 2017. Photograph: Artur Lebedev/imago/Itar-Tass With few friends in Moscow and no Russian investors, Uber initially turned to Roman Abramovich before securing deals with companies controlled by the billionaires Alisher Usmanov, Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, as well as Herman Gref, the head of the major state-controlled Russian bank Sberbank. Each of the powerful figures Uber secured as a partner in Russia – a market it has since exited – has subsequently been placed under western sanctions in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine this year, accused of having benefited from strong ties to the president and his inner circle. Usmanov, Fridman and Aven are contesting EU sanctions against them. Fridman and Aven have described the basis of the sanctions as “spurious” and spoken out against the invasion. Usmanov has said it is “incorrect” to depict him as associated with Putin. But the files show that between 2015 and 2016 Uber’s objective was to enlist the business magnates as “strategic allies”, offering their companies coveted shares in the Silicon Valley company before a widely anticipated stock market flotation. In return, Uber wanted political support. The strategy replicated Uber’s approach to lobbying in other parts of the world, which frequently went above the heads of regulators and officials to curry favour with prime ministers, presidents and powerbrokers. Responding to the Guardian’s findings, Uber’s spokesperson said its current leadership “disavows any previous relationships with anyone connected to the Putin regime”. Ultimately, Uber’s brazen and transactional lobbying strategy appears to have misjudged the political realities of an increasingly authoritarian Russia hostile to a brash American startup. An Uber taxi in Moscow. Photograph: Alexander Sayganov/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock Uber in effect retreated from Moscow in 2017 and earlier this year announced it would “accelerate” the sale of its remaining stake in a joint venture with Yandex, a partnership that had kept its brand alive in the country. However, the Uber files raise pressing questions for the company’s current leadership about Russia, its stance toward corruption red flags, and the firm’s decision to dive headfirst into some of the murkiest political waters it encountered in its global expansion. The ‘power rating’ Uber’s first major PR crisis in Russia began in September 2014. After a nationalist member of the Duma publicly denounced it, Moscow city officials backed calls for the Kremlin to ban the cab-hailing app. Fearing a backlash, executives ordered security guards to its office. Uber’s man on the ground in Moscow warned colleagues that Putin’s party in the Duma could seize on the opportunity to “retaliate” against the company. Days later, senior executives at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters began discussing potential Russian investors. In an email to the company’s chief lobbyists, Emil Michael, the head of business at Uber, floated the industrial tycoon Abramovich as an option. “I think we want someone aligned with Putin,” he wrote, acknowledging he knew little about Russian politics. Roman Abramovich. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images Documents show that in the months that followed, a strategy emerged: find an oligarch or someone with sufficient clout who could invest in Uber, incentivising them to serve as a political ally in Moscow. Uber first approached Abramovich’s top lieutenant, and by February 2015 an internal email said the oligarch was “actively looking” at a deal. When talks failed, an Uber executive reported that Abramovich had “decided not to invest owing to high valuation, but has offered to help”. Abramovich, who has denied claims about his proximity to Putin, did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Guardian. Undeterred, Uber tasked political consultants in Moscow with drawing up a list of oligarchs and assessing their potential as “strategic partners” based on their influence among Russian elites and ties to the state. The study produced a leading contender: Usmanov, the Uzbek-born metals and technology magnate. According to the consultants, Usmanov enjoyed “the confidence of top state officials” and maintained longstanding relationships with close Putin associates. A similar list gave tycoons a “power rating” and awarded Usmanov the highest score. Uber approached one of his top executives and received an instant reply. With things moving quickly, Michael adopted a note of caution: “We got to be clean with Russian investors, but at the same time not insult them so let’s be careful what we say.” Uber secured a $20m investment from the billionaire’s holding company USM months later. A spokesperson for Usmanov said the deal was brokered by an investment bank and was a “purely financial investment” with “nothing to do with politics or the Russian government”. He said USM made “no promises or commitments” to Uber regarding government relations and any suggestion that Usmanov was associated with Putin was “incorrect”. However, for Uber, politics appears to have been at the forefront of its approach to all the oligarchs in its sights. After USM’s initial investment, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s then chief executive, met two of Usmanov’s top executives at Davos in January 2016 in an effort to raise more money. A briefing prepared for the meeting described Uber’s messaging: invest and “give us government relations support”. Alisher Usmanov at his office in Moscow in 2017. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images The Russians were receptive, an internal note suggests. “USM made the pitch as to what they could do to move the needle on the policy front.” Davos dealmaking But Usmanov wasn’t Uber’s only Russian backer, and it was in the Swiss alpine resort the company forged a deal with another powerful oligarch. On the fringes of the 2016 World Economic Forum, Kalanick squeezed in a crucial meeting at the palatial five-star Belvedere hotel with an emissary from LetterOne (L1), a private investment vehicle controlled by Fridman. With his fellow oligarch Aven, Fridman ran Alfa Group, a sprawling Russian conglomerate. The pair had accumulated vast fortunes in the economic chaos after the fall of the Soviet Union. Helpfully, they were by now deeply integrated in the western financial system. Weeks after the Davos meeting, a press release heralded L1’s $200m investment, with Fridman personally championing the partnership. But executives appeared keen to ensure a key aspect of the deal remained secret. Alongside the $200m investment, Uber granted L1 a package of warrants that gave the firm the option to later purchase $50m of additional Uber shares at an advantageous price. The warrants would vest if Uber’s trips in Russia continued to grow. Documents suggest Uber designed the warrants to “incentivise” and “motivate” L1 to help the US company solve its political and regulatory issues in Russia, something L1 had offered to help with. The senior in-house Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann explained to colleagues that Uber would in effect underwrite “the day-to-day heavy lifting” that L1 would “undertake on our behalf in the Duma and with the presidential administration”. For Uber, it was an attractive deal. A veteran Moscow lobbyist reassured MacGann that if Fridman got involved, he could help with one of Uber’s key objectives in Russia: influencing and accelerating the passage of draft taxi legislation through the Duma. Mikhail Fridman at a conference in Moscow in 2019. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP The lobbyist said Uber would need the Kremlin’s support, but “if Alfa is undersigning it – they can do it”. Uber’s spokesperson said L1 was not obliged to meet any deliverables related to lobbying. She denied the warrants were secret, saying they were approved by Uber’s board, but added: “We would not do the same deal today.” L1 said it became a “modest investor” in Uber partly thanks to “customer acquisition opportunities” between the US company and other businesses in Russia controlled by Aven and Fridman. A spokesperson said L1 – which divested itself of its Uber stock in 2019 and is not subject to any sanctions – did not “provide any services relating to lobbying” but accepted an agreement existed for L1 to provide “strategic advice and assistance”. Fridman and Aven, who both resigned from L1’s board in March, denied any involvement in the firm’s investment in Uber or in any lobbying for the company. Asked about internal Uber records saying Aven was “very familiar with all of the deal terms and incentives” linked to the L1 deal, the oligarch said: “Absolutely not.” ‘A direct line into the Kremlin’ When Uber took stock of its Russia strategy in the spring of 2016, executives believed they were making progress. An internal memo – titled “Taming the bear” – said Uber now also enjoyed the “personal support” of Fridman and Aven, as well as Gref. “With their support we have, in theory, a direct line into the Kremlin,” it optimistically noted. Uber first began courting Gref in the summer of 2015 when its top lobbyists, MacGann and David Plouffe, a former White House aide, visited the powerful state banker, taking a gold-plated private elevator to his office at Sberbank’s Moscow headquarters. In September 2015, Uber consummated the relationship and signed a partnership with Sberbank, which Gref ran, to work together on shared services. Almost immediately, Gref’s senior staff turned to helping Uber with one of its principal lobbying targets: the mayor of Moscow. Sergei Sobyanin. Photograph: 8523328/Getty Images As mayor, Sergei Sobyanin and his influential deputy who oversaw city transport policy held considerable sway over Uber’s operations. When executives won concessions in negotiations with Sobyanin’s staff, they described Sberbank’s role in the deal as “very helpful”. Gref did not respond to requests for comment. Months later, Gref hosted a formal dinner for Uber at an exclusive Moscow golf club. At the event, Kalanick and his executives mingled with senior government ministers and officials, including the mayor’s deputy. It came weeks after Sberbank made a symbolic $5m investment in the company. Although the state-controlled bank was the subject of limited US sanctions at the time, Uber judged it was permitted to receive the funds. In the buildup to the dinner, Uber’s hopes for a Russian expansion were high. One of its key Russia advisers assured MacGann: “There is not another foreign company for whom Gref would be acting as a personal fixer.” Risky business Uber, however, was discovering lobbying in Russia was an expensive business – and a risky one, too. Of all its efforts to cultivate oligarchs, the investment it received from Fridman and Aven’s investment group, L1, looked to be the most rewarding for Uber. But there was a catch. The leaked files suggest that L1 recommended Uber separately hire Alfa’s chief in-house lobbyist, Senin, then a senior executive at Fridman’s bank and political operative who held a senior position in a pro-Kremlin and business-friendly political party. He now sits in the Duma. Uber executives internally described Senin as “the investor’s appointed lobbyist”; however, L1 says any relationship with Senin was entirely at the discretion of Uber. Bemused at the notion of making a large side payment to a political fixer, executives balked when Senin quoted $800,000 to influence the taxi legislation and lobby government officials. “It is so much money,” wrote one senior Uber executive. But the alarm did not end there. Emails suggest Uber’s lawyers raised concerns that paying Senin risked breaching US anti-bribery laws. A senior executive told colleagues that lawyers were “rightly concerned about bribes being paid to grease the skids”. He said there was no “absolute way to prevent this” apart from telling L1 it needed to make clear to Senin “bribes will not be tolerated”. “Basically [the lawyers] think this lobbying work should be paid for by L1.” Despite the risks, Uber pressed forward and in May 2016 initially agreed to pay Senin as much as $650,000. With Senin onboard, Uber began “proactively” influencing the drafting of the taxi legislation. Documents suggest L1 introduced Uber to the co-sponsor of the legislation in the Duma, while Senin worked with the MP on rewriting the draft law to ensure it was more favourable to Uber. Former US federal prosecutors and corruption experts told the Guardian and Washington Post the circumstances surrounding Uber’s payment to Senin raised red flags and risked breaching the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Among the red flags Uber should have identified, they agreed, was Senin’s position in the pro-Kremlin political party . Under the FCPA, a US company is prohibited from corruptly paying – or offering to pay – a foreign political party official to induce them to use their influence. Jessica Tillipman, an FCPA expert at George Washington University, described Uber’s deal with Senin as a “super high-risk transaction” and a “blazing red flag”. “There are many companies that would opt to walk away from something like this,” she said. Eventually the taxi legislation ran into trouble and did not pass. The failure prompted doubts about Senin, and Uber paid him a reduced sum of $300,000 for his work. When Senin emailed Uber his invoice in July 2016, he asked for the funds to be wired via a New York bank to an account in Russia for a company created on the day he had signed the Uber contract months earlier. In the email, sent to a senior Uber executive, Senin used a pseudonym: “Alter ego.” Senin did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In a statement, a spokesperson for Kalanick said his “role was limited to a trip to Russia that included a few meetings arranged by Uber’s policy and business development teams”. Travis Kalanick, Uber’s then CEO, in 2016. Photograph: VCG/Visual China Group/Getty Images She said Kalanick had “acted at all times lawfully and with clear approval and authorisation of Uber’s legal team”. She said: “Mr Kalanick is not aware of anyone acting on Uber’s behalf in Russia who engaged in any conduct that would have violated either Russian or US law.” MacGann said he had concerns about paying Senin, which “was clearly irregular”. “I made my concerns clear to the management team in San Francisco.” For its part, Uber said it paid Senin “to compensate him for three months of work and terminated its relationship with him prior to the enactment of any legislation”. The company’s spokesperson said Senin’s contract contained “robust anti-corruption provisions”, adding: “We do not believe that any FCPA violation exists.”     Source: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/jul/11/uber-hired-oligarch-linked-lobbyist-russia-bribery-fears
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21. [^^] My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking | HuffPost HuffPost Personal

My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking | HuffPost HuffPost Personal Φ 我溫柔、聰明的弟弟現在是一個陰謀論者,他的信仰令人震驚|赫芬頓郵報 赫芬頓個人

My Gentle, Intelligent Brother Is Now A Conspiracy Theorist And His Beliefs Are Shocking | HuffPost HuffPost Personal   Join HuffPost for a Twitter Spaces conversation about this story on Tuesday, May 17, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Author Sue Muncaster will discuss more about what it’s like to deal with a loved one who is a conspiracy theorist. Sign up to be notified when the Twitter Spaces begins here. My brother is a modern conspiracy theorist. He calls himself an “Evolutionary Linguist-Spiritual Warrior Fighting for Human Free Will on Earth” on his TikTok account, which has 12,500 followers. He uses hashtags like #zombe #apocolypse #weare #freedom and #1111. The latter, as far as I can tell from doing a little Googling, is a symbol that often represents interconnectedness and synchronicity, and that inspires individuals to attempt to manifest their intentions and take action to turn their visions into reality. On the surface, this sounds sedate, even inspiring — especially as we come out of COVID isolation. None of us seem to want to “go back to normal” because normal didn’t serve us. Last April, my sister-in-law texted me to warn me that my brother was heading, unannounced, to my doorstep in Idaho, where I care for our elderly father. I knew he believed “everyone on the planet who received the vaccine will be dead in a few years,” but I had no idea of the depth of his fantastical beliefs. Our evening together started with him mansplaining why cryptocurrencies are our only hope and how he had the idea for Amazon before Jeff Bezos did and how he would be the richest man in the world if not for some bad breaks along the way. Although he wasn’t physically at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., he referred to the Jan. 6 rioters as “we.” Later that night, my brother announced, “The real reason I’m here is I’ve come to warn you that over the next two weeks, a lot of shit is going to come out about what’s been going on for the past 50 years, 100 years, 4,000 years. It is going to shock you to your core. All the conspiracy theories ― everyone you ever heard from politics to Big Oil to wars in Afghanistan to Biden not being president ― this pulls it all together.” At this point, I excused myself to go to the restroom, turned on the Voice Memos app on my iPhone, and tucked it in my back pocket in case he divulged any plans for violence, which, thankfully, he did not. The following is a transcribed summary of the main points he “knows with certainty” that “the media won’t tell us about.” “The banking system here in the U.S. has already collapsed,” he told me. “They are just trying to figure out how to tell everyone. We, as a race of human beings, for 4,000 years going back to the Sumerians, have been used as food by the elites. It’s about to come to an end. They got rid of the race that was using us as cattle. They drove them out of all these tunnels ― there’s a tunnel from Washington, D.C., to LA that takes half an hour on a bullet train. There’s a whole fucking society that lives underground. In Australia, there’s [a tunnel] all the way around the continent and it’s being used for human trafficking and organ harvesting and basically using human beings like cattle. JFK found out about it 50 years ago, and it’s taken 50 years to drive them out. And it’s now over. The Catholic Church, the military industrial complex and Wall Street have fucked us for the last 200 years.” While I agree with the last sentence, for the past eight months, I’ve tried to make sense of how my little brother ― who I think of as highly intelligent, gentle and conscientious ― has come to embrace the rest of what he told me and make it his life’s mission to spread it. It’s incredibly challenging to continue interacting with him, and I’ve found myself wondering if I even should. “To write my brother’s (and my neighbors’ and country people’s) many conspiracies off as unworthy of taking the time to study is a tempting way out. But to not at least try to understand is likely a fatal mistake.” In the process of studying his ideas and trying to keep an open mind and heart, I’ve questioned every one of my own beliefs. I’ve tried to determine how big of a threat these conspiracy theories are and where we — as friends, family, communities and society — should focus our efforts on combating them. To write my brother’s (and my neighbors’ and country people’s) many conspiracies off as unworthy of taking the time to study is a tempting way out. But to not at least try to understand is likely a fatal mistake. As a Libra, I pride myself on finding balance. As a local politician, I’m committed to listening to a variety of perspectives and seeking common ground in pursuit of the best solutions. Dealing with my brother has challenged the core principles of compassion, inaction and harmony I hold dear as a student of Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism. While other family members refuse to engage, I’m triggered into a primordial rage by the videos he texts me “because he loves me and wants to help me wake up before it’s too late.” Inevitably, these videos are taken off the internet before I have time to watch them a second time. I often find myself texting messages to him that I’d never text to another family member, friend or neighbor. It’s not unlike lashing out at a toddler for their mischief and, when you snap out of it, you are overcome with shame and sadness for what you’ve said. In trying to come to grips with the deep division within my family, and indeed our nation, I recognize now that I turned to my intellect to gather facts and scientific evidence to help me better understand this situation. In doing so, I’ve lost my balance between intellect and my core values of affection and kindness. My older sister, upon reading a draft of this story, said I was acting like a “Viking warrior queen” trying to “annihilate the enemy with words” and therefore exacerbating division. She suggested I turn the mirror on myself and consider the idea that I am the stupid one, the downtrodden, the toddler ― that we are all toddlers learning to walk, run, dance, and who am I to be critical? I suppose annihilation by words is better than the alternative, but to her point, I’ve agonized over how to write about my experience without violating the core Buddhist commitments to “do no harm” and “take care of one another.” On one hand, I’m deeply worried and want to rescue him; on the other hand, I want to laugh it off; and on a third (if I had one), I want to slam the door in his face. When my brain and heart feel scrambled like this, I want to throw up my hands and not write anything out of fear that I’ll further fuel our national crisis over truth and division. But then I see a video of a health care worker in an overrun hospital begging for people to get vaccinated. I rewatch the violence that took place on Jan. 6. I celebrate Hanukkah with my brother-in-law, whose father, at 7 years old, was one of 10,000 children on the Kindertransport, a train from Germany to England, without his parents in search of a safe refuge before the start of World War II. And if I’ve learned anything in the past 20 years as a conscientious parent, it’s that not addressing possible issues by hiding family secrets can be traumatic and lead to the most dangerous consequences. It’s these incontrovertible “truths” that compel me to stand up and speak out now and attempt to use intelligence to cultivate wisdom while expanding my compassion. As I look my pain in the eye, I hope to use it to create change. “On one hand, I’m deeply worried and want to rescue him; on the other hand, I want to laugh it off; and on a third (if I had one), I want to slam the door in his face. When my brain and heart feel scrambled like this, I want to throw up my hands and not write anything out of fear that I’ll further fuel our national crisis over truth and division.” In a 2010 New York Times op-ed, Roger Cohen said of the “paltry harvest of captive minds” that “such minds resort to conspiracy theory because it is the ultimate refuge of the powerless. If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world.” This quote has held up throughout my exploration, as has a basic concept drawn from “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner Klemp, who believe humans have three core needs ― approval, security and control ― and when a human being’s needs for approval and security are inadequate, control is their last resort. The concept of a “paltry harvest” points to leaders who spread conspiracy theories to the “captive minds” of their followers. Frank Yeomans, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Cornell University, explained in a series of videos that the “malignant narcissist” personality describes someone who takes pleasure in both self-aggrandizement and the destruction of others. He argued that people like Hitler and Jim Jones appeal to masses of people who feel powerless, deprived and downtrodden. These leaders weaponize hope and faith and vilify “the other” as the definable person or group to blame for their problems. Hitler believed that the bigger the lie, the more people would embrace it. Yeoman believes former President Donald Trump fits this personality profile, terrifying half of us but emboldening the other half. Conspiracies lend themselves to nationalism and racism when a definable person or group is targeted for blame. Philosopher Aldous Huxley once said, “One of the great attractions of patriotism ― it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation, we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what’s more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous.” The middlemen in the spread of conspiracy theories are the individuals, politicians, corporations and media celebrities who benefit from their proximity to the malignant narcissist by taking the most radical and outrageous stances. They will excuse, justify and look past the despicable actions of the malignant narcissist to retain their money, power and status as well as the approval, security and control that comes with all of that. One example of this is the National Rifle Association. In an interview about his new book, “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America,” former industry insider Ryan Busse spoke about the rise in sales of automatic weapons. “After Columbine, [the NRA] stumbled upon this idea that fear and conspiracy and hatred of the other could be used to drive and win political races, as well as drive record sales of unhealthy firearms,” he said. After Sept. 11, Busse said, “Everything that happened was spun in some fearful, conspiratorial, racial, just hate-filled way.” He likened that time to a political pressure cooker where unhinged ideas were spread to keep Americans at a boiling point. Busse said that before his enlightenment, he was “naive and thoughtless” and compared himself “to a young kid who signed up for war without knowing what war was really about.” In psychology and cognitive science, the simplicity principle posits that the mind tends to regress to simplicity when contemplating the messy complexities of life. In order to make sense of what is happening around us, we rely on survival tactics to help us feel in control of the hand we’ve been dealt and of the world around us and our place in it. As one tactic, our brains see patterns where none actually exist. What might start as a story of good versus evil shared among friends ― that a nefarious cabal is secretly plotting against humanity ― soon begins to feel like top-secret knowledge arrived through critical thinking, particularly when groups are suffering from loss, weakness or disunity. A powerful actor behind the chaos can be much easier to accept than the idea that we’re responsible for our own circumstances, that there are many complex factors at work in any system or culture, or that shit just happens. “It’s essential to recognize there may be some bit of truth in many conspiracy theories, and it’s these flickers of reality that can keep the flames alive.” It’s essential to recognize there may be some bit of truth in many conspiracy theories, and it’s these flickers of reality that can keep the flames alive. I believe the seeds of many conspiracies related to vaccine resistance can be traced back to the erroneous study by Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues published in The Lancet in 1998, promoting a nonexistent connection between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Wakefield’s work was later retracted, and his medical license was revoked. He’s become known as the “the doctor who fooled the world” and and turbocharged the anti-vaccine movement. My brother believes the rise in autism is the fault of the pharmaceutical industry, and the fact that both the paper and Wakefield’s medical license were later retracted is just “proof” to my brother that the pharmaceutical industry was corrupt ― not the report itself. In the episode “When You Need It To Be True” of the podcast “Hidden Brain,” host Shankar Vedantam says the theory of cognitive dissonance (attributable to psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957) explains “the strange alchemy in our minds that makes it possible for us to live happily in an upside-down world and believe that everyone else is wrong.” In other words, human beings will go to extraordinary lengths in search of internal psychological consistency to function mentally when faced with opposing ideas. In this episode, Verdantam tells two stories. One is about a group of people from the 1950s called The Seekers who quit their jobs, distanced themselves from their loved ones and drastically changed their lifestyles, believing they were the chosen ones who would be saved from worldwide destruction by UFOs. The second is a modern-day account of a lonely divorcee duped by an online scammer who promised her the love and acceptance she was craving, even though the deceit was obvious to her friends. The moral of both stories is that oftentimes, we want something to be true so badly that we make it true, even if it means turning our lives inside out and destroying our families before accepting information we don’t want to hear. In trying unsuccessfully to find reliable statistics on how prevalent and dangerous modern conspiracy theories are, I found this mind-boggling figure from Statista that’s more frightening than comforting: In the third quarter of 2021, 1.8 billion fake accounts were deleted from Facebook, up from 1.3 billion fake accounts in the corresponding quarter in 2020. It’s no big news that a person can find “proof” of virtually anything on the internet to bolster what they believe, and the isolation brought on by the pandemic over the last two years has given many people ample time to dig deep and try to make sense of the world. While I watch from afar in disbelief, hoping my brother will see the light, he seems to just double down on hoping I’m the one who will eventually see the light, even after every time his latest predicted zombie apocalypse doesn’t come to pass. So do we, as a society, spend our energy silencing the malignant narcissists and the spread of disinformation/misinformation by the middlemen? These days, this only seems to give them more power. Or do we instead address the deep societal issues that provide fertile ground for conspiracy theories? One can argue that security, approval and control can really only come from within, but that’s a long leap when faced with the uncertain chaos of modern life and epidemics of depression, anxiety, substance use, political division, isolation, systemic inequalities and incessant consumerism fed by the dead-end promises of an antiquated American dream. If (according to a crass comment I came across) conspiracy theories are for “losers,” can we aspire to a society where there are fewer losers? “[My brother] assured me he will be sharing this piece with his TikTok followers as soon as it’s published because it ‘really explains what many of us cannot understand, which is how so many supersmart people can seem to ignore what is going on.’” Although we no longer operate on the same foundation of “facts,” my brother and I did find a grain of common ground when he correctly stated in a recent text that we both want the same thing: “to take the country back from the ground up.” When I sent him a draft of this essay, he was unwavering in his belief that free speech is our most treasured right and graciously gave me his blessing. [My brother] assured me he will be sharing this piece with his TikTok followers as soon as it’s published because it “really explains what many of us cannot understand, which is how so many supersmart people can seem to ignore what is going on.” I know that every person’s perceptions are some blend of objective and personal interpretations of reality. No matter how smart or well-read a person is, none of us see the world as it really is. Every time I speak to my brother (or anyone else I disagree with), I remind myself that our views are shaped ― and contaminated ― by our egocentric perspectives. As we emerge from the pandemic, continue to socialize online, and gather with family and friends, virtually no one is exempt from having those they love end up believing they’re being brainwashed by “the other.” So I suppose my New Year’s resolution is to relentlessly examine my own beliefs and make a continued commitment to being civil and curious and having an open mind. Only with grace and a quest for understanding can we nourish the most basic human needs for approval and security within our families and communities. Sue Muncaster is a freelance writer living in Teton Valley, Idaho. Through her platform Teton Strongshe explores the intentional mental, physical, social and spiritual practices and rich experiences that bring us alive and are characteristic of a values-driven outdoor lifestyle. Just last week she dipped her toes into local politics when she joined the Victor city council as a councilmember. You can find her on Facebook and Substack. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on HuffPost? Find out what we’re looking for here and send us a pitch. More From HuffPost Personal…     Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/brother-conspiracy-theory_n_61dd94afe4b061afe3b83cec
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4. [^^] Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home – Canada News

Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home – Canada News Φ 一些房車旅行者表示,高昂的汽油價格可能會使他們離家更近 – 加拿大新聞

Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home – Canada News Photo: The Canadian Press Bucars RV Centre general manager Jeff Redmond with new recreational vehicles on his lot in Balzac, Alta. With gasoline prices hitting all-time highs, Jeff Redmond says he’s planning to stay closer to home when RV camping this summer. The owner and general manager of Bucars RV Centre in Balzac, Alta., says recreational vehicles are still one of the most affordable ways to travel as a couple or with a family once hotels, gasoline prices or airline costs are factored in. “We laugh that RVers are the ones that are winning,” Redmond said in an interview this week. The cost of gasoline declined slightly before this May long weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer camping season, but analysts say summer demand in coming weeks has the potential to send prices even higher. Redmond said that could influence where he travels this year. “The Okanagan Valley is a place I like to go … and that’s a seven-hour drive, so maybe I am going to go to Pigeon Lake or Gull Lake (Alberta), which is an hour-and-a-half drive,” he said. “The good news is that I am still going. “We’re able to alter our plans and to work within our budget.” Redmond said he has heard a similar sentiment from customers. Some are staying closer to home. Others are planning to stay longer at one campsite. “You park the larger trailer at a permanent campsite, or at your friend’s cottage, or at the old family farm, or at a winery in the Okanagan — and you don’t tow it,” he said. “You hop in your family car and you go back and forth. You have a built-in, very affordable … off-the-grid cabin that is extremely efficient once you get there. “Lots of people are no longer towing.” Rob Minarchi is vice-president of sales at ArrKann Trailer & R.V. Centre with outlets across Alberta. He said there’s been a lot of demand for RVs since the start of the pandemic and it hasn’t slowed down this year. “Most (people) are upgrading, as crazy as that sounds,” he said from Edmonton. “Some people are selling … because circumstances have changed but, for the most part, they are just trading in for different units. “There’s a lot of new RVers who came to the market when COVID first hit … but they didn’t know exactly what they wanted.” Those customers, he said, are trading in for units that better suit their needs. Minarchi said he hasn’t heard about anyone getting rid of an RV due to high gas prices. “What we’re seeing is a lot of people are just camping a little closer,” he said. “If they were going to do a five-hour trip, now they are going to do a one-hour trip … I think it actually ties in a little bit with COVID and staying close to home. “They found so many hidden gems locally … in the last couple of years that they are OK to do that.” Some campgrounds are starting to notice some changes. “I’ve had a few people cancel,” said Scott Kast, owner of Tomahawk R.V. at Lake of the Woods in Ontario. But, he said, gas prices are a minor factor in those cancellations. “We do get a lot of Americans here. One thing holding people back is vaccine mandates,” said Kast. Another campground manager told CKPG radio station in Prince George, B.C., that some people travelling from farther away have cancelled. “A lot of people are wanting to stay local,” said Bobbie Carpino, who runs the Salmon Valley campground. “We’ve seen cancellations from folks coming in from the States heading up to Alaska, as well as folks coming in from the Lower Mainland.” The price of fuel could add $100 or $200 to the cost of an average camping trip, Minarchi said. “It feels like a lot when you are at the pump but … it’s still affordable to do it,” he said. “One less restaurant that you eat out at pays for the difference in your fuel for the whole camping trip.” Some RVers, he said, are adding solar panels and buying generators to make it easier to camp off the grid — including on Crown land. Others are parking their RVs at permanent sites for the entire summer. “They are still camping, so that’s good.” Redmond said the pandemic encouraged many people to get outdoors in their RVs, on a mountain bike or with a set of golf clubs. “I am a guy that went and bought a new bicycle and there’s no way I’m selling my bike. It’s been awesome to get on the trails and get reintroduced to that,” he said. “There (are) lots of people, their lives got in the way of our great outdoors. They are stepping back now and saying, ‘Wow, that was great’ and they are going to keep doing it.”     Source: https://www.castanet.net/news/Canada/369606/Some-RVers-say-high-gasoline-prices-could-keep-them-closer-to-home
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19. [^^] Consumers are paying the price — in time and cost — for a choked-up global supply chain

Consumers are paying the price — in time and cost — for a choked-up global supply chain Φ 消費者正在為窒息的全球供應鏈付出時間和成本的代價

Consumers are paying the price — in time and cost — for a choked-up global supply chain ERT Business Port delays, storage issues, rail capacity and a trucker shortage all play a part in strain on system Posted: August 22, 2022  The expansion at the Port of Vancouver in Vancouver on Friday, Feb. 11. In the first half of 2022, container volumes at the port dropped seven per cent from the same period a year earlier. But containers sat on its docks for nearly six days on average, a 41 per cent increase from 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC) Bob Ballantyne broke a cord on his blinds in early July, and his repairman in Ottawa still hasn’t been able to replace the snapped part. “He says, ‘You know, supply chain issues. I can’t get the string that I need to fix it.’ ” Ballantyne isn’t alone. The pandemic sent shockwaves through the global supply chain and the backlogs are mounting even as freight volumes fall in North America this year. The delays stem from several choke points along the chain, including backed-up warehouses, staff shortages and rail capacity. Ultimately the longer wait times, and extra costs, are being passed along to consumers. Analysis The high, human cost of global shipping in the pandemic: Sailors stuck at sea for monthsPort of Vancouver volume up last year despite pandemic, supply chain disruptions and flooding In the first half of 2022, container volumes at the Port of Vancouver dropped seven per cent from the same period a year earlier. But containers sat on the docks of the port for nearly six days on average, almost twice as long as in 2019 and a 41 per cent increase from 2021. That time rose even higher in July, to more than six and a half days. Meanwhile cargo vessels sat at anchor for 9.6 days on average before docking at the country’s largest port as a result of the buildups last month, more than twice as long as they waited last year. ‘The consumer will pay the price’ Robert Lewis-Manning, the president of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping, compared the shipping containers to Lego bricks. “They’re piled up and there’s just no more place to put them. In Montreal, Canada’s second-largest port, containers wait four times longer than the 2019 average, and vessel turnaround is similarly well above both 2019 levels and those from a year ago. A lack of storage space in distribution hubs on the fringes of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver is one reason. “Warehouses in Ontario and Quebec are largely full,” said Lewis-Manning. “The problem is, there’s something behind it that can’t get through to where it needs to go. And maybe it is a critical part for a manufacturing operation. “Ultimately the consumer will pay the price for that,” he said. WATCH | Supply chain delays frustrated consumers, businesses:  Canadian businesses and shoppers alike say industry-wide supply chain issues continue to cause backlogs and frustration.  2:00 Storage an issue for retailers Storage fees, contract extension penalties and “demurrage” fees — issued by a shipping line when freight exceeds the time allotted at a terminal — eventually show up in the retail price tag, on top of higher freight rates and overtime wages for those working on the backlogs. Ironically, the delays brought on by full warehouses are partly the result of importers’ response to previous supply-chain disruptions. “When people anticipate a shortage or capacity constraint, they overcorrect. And that actually amplifies the challenge,” said Peter Xotta, head of operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.  “If the goods show up two months later than when they’re anticipated, you might be missing that window for these barbecues, for parasols, for garden furniture that you were looking for in June,” said Daniel Dagenais, vice-president of operations at the Port of Montreal. Once the sales window is over for these seasonal products, they either need to be physically stored until the following year or heavily discounted. Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. said earlier this month that its merchandise levels shot up 18 per from a year earlier, which means it has less flexibility for storing off-season items.  Bags of flour are pictured in a Vaughn, Ont., supermarket on Aug. 16. Stakeholders from wheat and canola exporters to lumber producers are worried, as demand for Canadian grain, potash and coal surges due to shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) Amount of rail capacity having impact Shippers and marine carrier operators see rail as a critical bottleneck. Grain volumes were down last year due to a drought, but rail companies “still had problems,” said John Corey, president of the Freight Management Association of Canada. The grain yield — often the biggest source of commodity revenues for Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. — is expected to return to the historical average this year, raising questions about what other shipments might be sidelined to accommodate the larger harvest. “The amount of rail capacity that there is with various rail lines, that really is what’s making a big impact,” said Xotta. THE LATEST Ukraine warns grain shipments may suffer if Russian attacks on ports continueTrudeau says he has no faith Russia will uphold deal to export Ukrainian grain Stakeholders from wheat and canola exporters to lumber producers are worried, as demand for Canadian grain, potash and coal surges due to shortages caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “All those Asian imports that are coming in by container and the largely bulk exports that are headed to Asia … are all competing for that same rail service,” Lewis-Manning said. “I think we’re going to see a real mess on the West Coast.”  Three eighteen wheelers are pictured side by side on May 13, 2016. There were 25,560 unfilled truck driver positions between January and March this year, according to Trucking HR Canada. (David Donnelly/CBC) Trucker shortage another snarl in chain A dearth of truck drivers marks another snarl in the chain. The sector saw record vacancies in the first quarter, with 25,560 unfilled driver positions between January and March, according to Trucking HR Canada. And spillover from heavily backlogged American ports such as Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach further adds to port congestion, while labour shortages at warehouses also gum up the cargo flow. “You get to a point where one more drop and you start to overflow. And we have started to overflow,” said Chris Hall, CEO of the Shipping Federation of Canada. WATCH | What a trucker shortage means for Canada’s economic recovery:  Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery could be slowed by a growing shortage of truck drivers, which would have severe implications for the North American supply chain.  6:01 Canada’s two main rail lines have been pouring money into network upgrades and new railcars while scrambling to hire workers after laying off thousands in the first year of the pandemic. CN and CP hope to hire more than 3,800 workers this year, including some 1,850 already on board since Dec. 31. But the labour market — especially for train conductors and engineers — is tighter than it’s been in decades and it takes up to nine months to train some crews. Port of Vancouver’s incoming ban on older trucks will cause ‘immediate’ supply chain problems: unionCP Rail shutdown begins as talks continue and farmers brace for potential fallout CN spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said the railway has set up temporary storage capacity in Montreal and Toronto, as the Vancouver port did in February. And CP Rail CEO Keith Creel assured analysts on a call last month the company is flexible: “We have capacity. We’re not holding any freight at West Coast ports or East Coast ports to pace into our inland terminals.” That’s cold comfort for Ballantyne, still waiting for a repair to his blinds. The last he heard, the component might be replaced by next month. But there are no guarantees.     Source: https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6558371
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20. [^^] Some small businesses offer benefits to retain staff in tight labour market – The Globe and Mail

Some small businesses offer benefits to retain staff in tight labour market – The Globe and Mail Φ 一些小企業提供福利,以在緊張的工作力市場上留住員工 – 環球郵報

Some small businesses offer benefits to retain staff in tight labour market – The Globe and Mail ERT Ashley Cammisuli in her business Glow Beauty Bar in Etobicoke Ont., on Aug. 19.Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail Some small businesses are trying something new to attract and retain their staff in a tight labour market: offering benefits. Workplace insurance coverage for physical and mental-health services is not common in sectors such as food services or personal care. But with workers leaving those industries in droves during the pandemic and job vacancy rates still high – 11.9 per cent for food services and 7.8 per cent for industries that include personal care, compared with a national average of 5.8 per cent – some employers say they are getting creative to keep their staff. Ashley Cammisuli, the owner of Glow Beauty Bar in Toronto’s west end, said she began to offer benefits because she wanted to give her staff of five the same or better perks than they would get at a larger company. She said coverage for services such as therapeutic massages are important so staff can keep up with the demands of the job. “This job is physical,” Ms. Cammisuli said. “Even though we’re rubbing faces all day, it does put a strain on your back, on your shoulders. We want to just keep them healthy and show them that we care for their career longevity.” She said mental-health services have also been important for her team. “We kind of act as therapists for a lot of our clients,” she said. “It can be heavy sometimes.” Companies face pressure to improve employee benefits as demand soars for mental-health services How mental health services became the hot new workplace perk for young Canadians The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says it has seen an uptick in interest in workplace plans, particularly smaller employers, since the initial shock of pandemic layoffs ended and businesses started hiring back workers. The association says it is still analyzing its 2021 data but estimates that two to three thousand more employers are offering benefits for the first time. “Based on what we are hearing from our member insurers, we know that employers have been taking up new workplace health benefit plans, or enhancements to existing plans, to cover therapies like mental-health support in recent years,” association president Stephen Frank said in a statement. Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said he has also been hearing about this from his members, particularly small businesses in the sectors with the highest job vacancies. “With the shortage of labour being what it is, smaller businesses are having to go into new territory that they’ve never gone into before in order to attract or retain workers,” he said. He said working for a small business can have many advantages, such as more influence on its direction, but small employers have generally lagged behind larger companies on compensation and benefits. He said many small-business owners will have to consider their own circumstances to determine if wage increases, or perks such as matching RRSP contributions, might be more effective strategies for keeping staff. Of course, the cost of offering benefits can be a challenge for some businesses. “It has been a struggle for small employers to even find benefits packages that are proportionate and affordable for them,” Mr. Kelly said. Ms. Cammisuli said she shopped around and worked with an insurance broker to find a plan that cost her about $850 a month and covered 80 per cent of the costs of services for her team. She said she also provides an annual training budget of $1,000 for each staff member. Thania Mukaddam, the receptionist and spa manager at Glow, said she appreciates having access to dental and vision coverage, which she did not have in past jobs. “It’s a lot easier knowing that it’s covered,” Ms. Mukaddam said. “Because yeah, glasses are expensive.” Get the Report on Small Business newsletter, essential reading for hard-working entrepreneurs pursuing growth and expansion. Sign up today.     Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/small-business/article-small-business-health-benefits-employee-perks/
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22. [^^] ‘I’m very scared’: Kitchener, Ont. pharmacist believes he was attacked for administering COVID-19 vaccines

‘I’m very scared’: Kitchener, Ont. pharmacist believes he was attacked for administering COVID-19 vaccines Φ “我非常害怕”:安省基奇納的藥劑師認為他因接種COVID-19疫苗而受到攻擊

‘I’m very scared’: Kitchener, Ont. pharmacist believes he was attacked for administering COVID-19 vaccines ert A pharmacist from Kitchener, Ont. says he was physically and verbally assaulted for administering COVID-19 vaccines. Frederick Mall Pharmacy owner Ramzy Shaker was at a nearby Tim Hortons Wednesday morning, just before he was about to open up, when he says he got attacked. “All of a sudden someone hit me in the head right here,” said Shaker. “He screamed at my face and said ‘I know you’ve been giving that vaccine to everyone’ and continued to punch.” Shaker says he got punched three times in the back of his head, in his stomach, and legs. The alleged attack continued until a bystander and an off-duty police officer stepped in to help. The man was later arrested. “I really owe him my life,” said Shaker. “If he wasn’t around I would be dead from the punches.” The pharmacist says he’s never been afraid to go to work until now. “I’m very scared,” said Shaker. “I’m watching my back now. “I’m in severe pain.” However, he still had to go to work on Wednesday, because he wasn’t able to find someone to cover his shift. “By about 1 p.m. he started coughing and vomiting blood,” said Katrina Liddell, a staff member at the pharmacy. “That’s when we had to close the doors and call the ambulance to take him to the hospital.” In a Saturday statement, Waterloo regional police say a 28-year-old Kitchener man assaulted four people and damaged two vehicles. He was arrested by the off-duty officer and a citizen and has been charged with several offences, including three counts of assault, assaulting a peace officer, and two counts of mischief under $5,000. “I want to help get the justice that needs to be served,” said Liddell. Police say they are investigating and looking to determine the motivations for the assaults and if they were targeted. The Ontario Pharmacy Association says assaults of pharmacists have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. “While there may be disagreements around healthcare policy and mandates, it does not give anyone the right to treat anyone with disrespect,” said Justin Bates, the CEO of the association. Shaker says despite the pain and fear he feels, he will continue to do the job he loves. “The message I want for all pharmacists is to be careful, to watch out,” he said.     Source: https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/i-m-very-scared-kitchener-ont-pharmacist-believes-he-was-attacked-for-administering-covid-19-vaccines-1.6054642
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11. [^^] Jujumello: Entrepreneur lessons from M’sian lingerie brand shutdown

Jujumello: Entrepreneur lessons from M’sian lingerie brand shutdown Φ Jujumello:M’sian內衣品牌關閉的企業家教訓

Jujumello: Entrepreneur lessons from M’sian lingerie brand shutdown   In 2018, Vulcan Post wrote about a local lingerie brand, Jujumello. We followed the journey of one Mel Chai, who had muscled her way through various challenges to run the business. She took online lessons and used her personal savings, all to keep Jujumello alive. They had big plans to get a showroom and retail space in KL, while setting up shop in Singapore as well. Four years since the feature, though, the Mel of Jujumello has called it quits. “Today I say goodbye to what has been something I held dear for 6 years—I shut down Jujumello for good,” Mel posted to Instagram on July 2. The official Jujumello Instagram also shared a post marking the end of its journey / Image Credit: Jujumello Vulcan Post previously reported that the business was achieving an average of RM40K to RM50K revenue each month. However, according to Mel, she “couldn’t put stable money into her pocket” for those six years. While Mel wrote that she’s glad to hear positive things about the brand, she wondered why the memories she had about the journey were mostly painful and exhausting, including feelings of betrayal and disappointment.   Instead of remembering the proud and happy achievements, the most memorable moments for Mel were ones of pity and resentment. Having been very hands-on with the brand, Mel found herself burnt out and unable to walk away.   No wonder I felt resentful. As a founder, you’re always the last one paid, the last one to get anything left. Whatever the challenges, I can’t be emotional and just walk away. Unwinding a business demands as much detail and formality as starting a company. Mel Chai “Frankly, I hated my entrepreneurship journey,” she concluded. But the final straw was not Mel’s personal struggles—it was the numbers.   Reasons for the closure Jujumello sources its products from China, which means that the items are actually accessible to anyone who wants to sell it. Therefore, the brand lacked a competitive edge. Furthermore, Mel was unable to control the product cost, designs, sizes, cuttings, and colours. In short, she couldn’t control the pricing and scalability of the business. Image Credit: Jujumello “The unintuitive thing about figuring out if you should shut down your company is that it isn’t the path of least resistance,” she mused. “The ‘easiest’ thing to do for a struggling company is to fall into zombie mode—neither growing nor truly dead.” Mel explained that this is because “zombie mode” doesn’t require an active decision. It just involves doing the bare minimum to keep the company alive. Furthermore, she expressed that shutting down is hard because it means you have to publicly admit you failed. “I was terrified to shut my company down, even though all the evidence said it was the right decision. The thing that scared me most was that I had no idea what would happen afterward,” Mel admitted. Finally, catharsis Apparently, Mel had considered a potential shutdown since the beginning of the year. So, she had already been looking for value everywhere, which included attempting to monetise unsold inventory. All her efforts culminated in Jujumello’s collection in June, which marked the end of the brand. The final words of advice from Jujumello / Image Credit: Jujumello “This may be hard to believe but shutting down releases so much tension and clears away so many burdensome expectations that it allows me to choose what I like to do with my life here onwards,” she expressed. “I have a choice now! A choice to write a new chapter or paint a new drawing.” Though she was painfully honest about the downs of her journey, she made it clear that there were definitely ups too, such as the sacrifices she and her team made paying off, working with industry peers who put support before profit, and more. Mel ended her story by asking her supporters not to worry about her, saying that she feels lighter and happier than ever now. Not to mention, she’s not quite done with the entrepreneurial life just yet. “I am still a very entrepreneurial person after all,” she concluded. “No matter where I go or what I do, I’d still be a creative yet tactical person championing new ideas and approaches. All the experiences and knowledge I accumulated from Jujumello are all still authentically mine anyway.” Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here. Featured Image Credit: Mel C @jelitarhh / Jujumello     Source: https://vulcanpost.com/796057/jujumello-lingerie-malaysia-shutdown-entrepreneur-lessons/
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13. [^^] Nouriel Roubini Says Predictions for a Mild Recession Are ‘Delusional’

Nouriel Roubini Says Predictions for a Mild Recession Are ‘Delusional’ Φ Nouriel Roubini表示,對輕度衰退的預測是“妄想”

Nouriel Roubini Says Predictions for a Mild Recession Are ‘Delusional’ ert Hopes for a mild recession are “delusional,” said Nouriel Roubini, the economist who called the 2008 financial crisis.He said debt ratios are historically high, while bailouts during the pandemic have resulted in “zombie corporations.”It runs contrary to what Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs have been saying about the economy. Recession indicators are ringing and key commodities have plunged into a bear market, signaling a downturn may be on the horizon. And Nouriel Roubini dismissed hopes that an incoming recession will be shallow. The famed economist, who called the 2008 financial crash, told Bloomberg that the economy is headed for a severe recession as well as a severe debt and financial crisis. Roubini, also known as “Dr. Doom,” said debt ratios are historically high at 420% for advanced economies and climbing, while bailouts during the pandemic have resulted in “zombie corporations” that put the economy at risk. In contrast, the stagflation seen during the 1970s was accompanied by low debt ratios, and the debt crisis during the 2008 financial crash saw falling inflation.  “This idea that it’s going to be short and shallow, it’s totally delusional,” Roubini said. His warning goes against other predictions on Wall Street for a mild recession, including those from Goldman SachsMorgan StanleyWells FargoPimcoNomura, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink.     Source: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/us-recession-odds-nouriel-roubini-mild-severe-financial-crisis-predictions-2022-7
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18. [^^] This Economy Is Proving Too Complicated for Economists – Bloomberg

This Economy Is Proving Too Complicated for Economists – Bloomberg Φ 事實證明,這種經濟對經濟學家來說太複雜了 – 彭博社

This Economy Is Proving Too Complicated for Economists – Bloomberg ert The latest buzzword among many economists and investors is “ noise.” It’s being used to refer to any piece of economic data that doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative, which is happening a lot these days. Don’t get me wrong — this economy is proving hard to understand. It is very strong in some respects and very weak in others. The official government data shows gross domestic product just shrank for two consecutive quarters, meeting the technical definition of a recession, but it doesn’t feel like a true recession. No sooner had the Labor Department said earlier this month that economy added 528,000 jobs in July, more than double the forecast and exceeding every one of the more than 70 estimates in a Bloomberg survey, than economists dismissed the results as “noise.” They trotted out the word again when the government said on Aug. 10 that the consumer price index was unchanged in July from the month before, an outcome all but four of 63 economists predicted. They expected an increase. And just this week we heard a lot of economists respond with “noise” when the Commerce Department said this week that retail sales for July among a control group that is used to calculate GDP rose more than forecast.   More from Bloomberg opinion   This is all very confusing to many, and I get it. But just because the data doesn’t fit Wall Street’s longstanding models that worked in the pre-pandemic era doesn’t mean that it’s ”noise.” It probably means the models are in dire need of updating. Take the inflation data. The no change in the monthly CPI was surprising, but probably not an outlier. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does a pretty good job of gathering and analyzing data. If it is showing that inflation was unchanged, it does really mean inflation slowed. It also means we can still debate about why inflation slowed. My pet theory is that faster inflation was the result of the lagged effects of fiscal stimulus in response to the shutdowns in the early days of the pandemic, and now that the stimulus is moving farther away in the rear-view mirror, price gains will slow. The data is what it is, but it can still be subject to interpretation. The strong retail sales number might also be dismissed as “noise.” Retail sales excluding auto purchases rose 0.4% in July, versus a forecasted contraction of 0.1% in a Bloomberg survey. Sales among the control group rose 0.8%, well above the pre-pandemic monthly average of 0.3%. The latest results don’t exactly fit the narrative that the economy is in a recession.  So, the options are to either dismiss data that doesn’t meet the numbers spit out by the models or apply some brainpower to figure out why the models seem to be getting critical parts of the economy so wrong lately. Maybe consumers aren’t as tapped out by inflation as we are led to believe. Maybe the massive amount of money still sitting in household savings accounts thanks to the unprecedented fiscal stimulus when combined with an unemployment rate that, at 3.5%, represents a 53-year low, means consumers are mostly undeterred by rising prices.  Cash Flush and Employed Americans are sitting on a record amount of cash, and more people have jobs than before the pandemic. Sources: Federal Reserve, Labor Dept., Bloomberg This isn’t to say there is no volatility in economic data. There are occasional anomalies. Sometimes the seasonality calculations are off due to an extraordinary event, like an unexpected government shut down due to the debt ceiling being reached or a natural disaster. This is why many economists look at moving averages and data series over a period of time to get a truer picture of trends.   Everything happing in the economy right now is happening for a reason – a reason that many economists and investors are struggling to understand. As I’ve written before, none of models used by economists are useful in predicting the aftermath of an economy that stops on a dime, jettisons some 17 million from the workforce over two weeks and contracts 31% only to rebound just as quickly on the back of free-money government programs that injected trillions of dollars directly into the pockets of consumers to go along with negative real interest rates and quantitative easing policies from the central bank. On top of that, global supply chains were massively disrupted, creating shortages of goods, which in turn led to higher prices for those that were available.  It will take quite a few years before all of this is sorted out and we return to something resembling a normal business cycle. The broad economic slowdown we are experiencing is likely nothing more than a pullback from the artificially induced sharp recovery from the lockdowns. It may not fit the model of a conventional business cycle, but once you accept that this is not a normal business cycle and view the data through a different lens, then the unexpected begins to make sense and not something to be dismissed as “noise.” More From Other Writers at Bloomberg Opinion: Powell Will Face a Tough Audience in Jackson Hole: Bill DudleyThe End of the Retail Recession Is Good, or Maybe Bad: Conor SenWalmart Signals End of the Big-Box Bloodbath: Andrea Felsted Want more Bloomberg Opinion?  OPIN <GO>. Web readers click here. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners. To contact the author of this story:
Jared Dillian at j.dillian@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Robert Burgess at bburgess@bloomberg.net     Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-08-19/this-economy-is-proving-too-complicated-for-economists
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28. [^^] Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech for Infringing Patents Central to Moderna’s Innovative mRNA Technology Platform

Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech for Infringing Patents Central to Moderna’s Innovative mRNA Technology Platform Φ 現代汽車起訴輝瑞公司和生物科技公司侵犯專利,這是現代汽車創新mRNA技術平臺的核心

Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech for Infringing Patents Central to Moderna’s Innovative mRNA Technology Platform Complaints to be filed in both United States and Germany alleging that Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty® unlawfully infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 Moderna not seeking removal of Comirnaty® from market or injunction against future sales Company not pursuing monetary damages on sales to the 92 low- and middle-income countries in the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC 92) CAMBRIDGE, MA / ACCESSWIRE / August 26, 2022 / Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA), a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today is filing patent infringement lawsuits against Pfizer and BioNTech in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany. Moderna believes that Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty® infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 covering Moderna’s foundational mRNA technology. This groundbreaking technology was critical to the development of Moderna’s own mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax®. Pfizer and BioNTech copied this technology, without Moderna’s permission, to make Comirnaty®. “We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel.”This foundational platform, which we began building in 2010, along with our patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, enabled us to produce a safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time after the pandemic struck. As we work to combat health challenges moving forward, Moderna is using our mRNA technology platform to develop medicines that could treat and prevent infectious diseases like influenza and HIV, as well as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and rare forms of cancer.” Consistent with its commitment to equitable global access, in October 2020, Moderna pledged not to enforce its COVID-19 related patents while the pandemic continued. In March 2022, when the collective fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase and vaccine supply was no longer a barrier to access in many parts of the world, Moderna updated its pledge. It made clear that while it would never enforce its patents for any COVID-19 vaccine used in the 92 low- and middle-income countries in the GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC 92), Moderna expected companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights and would consider a commercially reasonable license should they request one for other markets. Pfizer and BioNTech have failed to do so. “We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission,” said Moderna Chief Legal Officer Shannon Thyme Klinger. “Outside of AMC 92 countries, where vaccine supply is no longer a barrier to access, Moderna expects Pfizer and BioNTech to compensate Moderna for Comirnaty®’s ongoing use of Moderna’s patented technologies. Our mission to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients by delivering on the promise of mRNA science cannot be achieved without a patent system that rewards and protects innovation.” Recognizing the need to ensure continued access to these lifesaving vaccines, Moderna is not seeking to remove Comirnaty® from the market and is not asking for an injunction to prevent its future sale. In addition, Moderna is not seeking damages related to Pfizer’s sales to AMC 92 countries and is not seeking damages for Pfizer’s sales where the U.S. Government would be responsible for any damages. Consistent with Moderna’s patent pledge, the Company is also not seeking damages for activities occurring before March 8, 2022. Pfizer and BioNTech Infringe Moderna’s Patents Moderna believes Pfizer and BioNTech copied two key features of Moderna’s patented technologies which are critical to the success of mRNA vaccines. When COVID-19 emerged, neither Pfizer nor BioNTech had Moderna’s level of experience with developing mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases, and they knowingly followed Moderna’s lead in developing their own vaccine. First, Pfizer and BioNTech took four different vaccine candidates into clinical testing, which included options that would have steered clear of Moderna’s innovative path. Pfizer and BioNTech, however, ultimately decided to proceed with a vaccine that has the same exact mRNA chemical modification to its vaccine as Spikevax®. Moderna scientists began developing this chemical modification that avoids provoking an undesirable immune response when mRNA is introduced into the body in 2010 and were the first to validate it in human trials in 2015. Second, and again despite having many different options, Pfizer and BioNTech copied Moderna’s approach to encode for the full-length spike protein in a lipid nanoparticle formulation for a coronavirus. Moderna scientists developed this approach when they created a vaccine for the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) years before COVID-19 first emerged. None of the patent rights which Moderna is seeking to enforce relate to any intellectual property generated during Moderna’s collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to combat COVID-19. That collaboration began only after the patented technologies at issue here were proven successful in clinical trials in 2015 and 2016. About Moderna In 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a science research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for rapid clinical and commercial production at scale. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both ground-breaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna’s capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use and approval of one of the earliest and most-effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moderna’s mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and auto-immune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past seven years. To learn more, visit www.modernatx.com. Forward Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including regarding: the Company’s filing of patent infringement litigation against Pfizer and BioNTech; the remedies to be sought in that litigation, including the Company’s decision not to pursue an injunction against the sale of Comirnaty; the Company’s commitment not to seek damages for sales to the U.S. Government or AMC 92 countries; and the Company’s development of vaccines and treatments against HIV, influenza, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and cancers. The forward-looking statements in this press release are neither promises nor guarantees, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, many of which are beyond Moderna’s control and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and other factors include those other risks and uncertainties described under the heading “Risk Factors” in Moderna’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021 and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended March 31, 2022, each filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and in subsequent filings made by Moderna with the SEC, which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Except as required by law, Moderna disclaims any intention or responsibility for updating or revising any forward-looking statements contained in this press release in the event of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements are based on Moderna’s current expectations and speak only as of the date hereof. Moderna Contacts: Media: Chris Ridley
Vice President, Corporate Communications & Media
Chris.Ridley@modernatx.com Investors: Lavina Talukdar
Senior Vice President & Head of Investor Relations
Lavina.Talukdar@modernatx.com SOURCE: Moderna, Inc. View source version on accesswire.com:
https://www.accesswire.com/713614/Moderna-Sues-Pfizer-and-BioNTech-for-Infringing-Patents-Central-to-Modernas-Innovative-mRNA-Technology-Platform     Source: https://investors.modernatx.com/news/news-details/2022/Moderna-Sues-Pfizer-and-BioNTech-for-Infringing-Patents-Central-to-Modernas-Innovative-mRNA-Technology-Platform/default.aspx
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