Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

The following is an Associated Press article. Prepare to be horrified and disgusted. It begs the question. Why are we even maintaining diplomatic relations with this butcher communist state of China? Why are we continuing to trade with this society? Surely our sense of morals and ethics are so profoundly anathema to the butchers of Beijing, that we can afford as a society to pay more for whatever was previously coming out of China and find a way to source those products from western democracies or create and manufacture those products ourselves. China is everything that is wrong with humanity. It’s time to make the call and shut them out of world commerce. China is every bit as ugly as Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uyghurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.
While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”
The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.
The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.
After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.

If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps ¬– often for having too many children.
“God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who tears up even now thinking back to that day. “They want to destroy us as a people.”
The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview. Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone – compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.
The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.
“This kind of drop is unprecedented ….there’s a ruthlessness to it,” said Zenz, a leading expert in the policing of China’s minority regions. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry referred multiple requests for comment to the Xinjiang government, which did not respond. However, Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.
For decades, China had one of the most extensive systems of minority entitlements in the world, with Uyghurs and others getting more points on college entrance exams, hiring quotas for government posts and laxer birth control restrictions. Under China’s now-abandoned ‘one child’ policy, the authorities had long encouraged, often forced, contraceptives, sterilization and abortion on Han Chinese. But minorities were allowed two children – three if they came from the countryside.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades, those benefits are now being rolled back. In 2014, soon after Xi visited Xinjiang, the region’s top official said it was time to implement “equal family planning policies” for all ethnicities and “reduce and stabilize birth rates.” In the following years, the government declared that instead of just one child, Han Chinese could now have two, and three in Xinjiang’s rural areas, just like minorities.
But while equal on paper, in practice Han Chinese are largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities, interviews and data show. Some rural Muslims, like Omirzakh, are punished even for having the three children allowed by the law.
State-backed scholars have warned for years that large rural religious families were at the root of bombings, knifings and other attacks the Xinjiang government blamed on Islamic terrorists. The growing Muslim population was a breeding ground for poverty and extremism, “heightening political risk,” according to a 2017 paper by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Another cited as a key obstacle the religious belief that “the fetus is a gift from God.”
Outside experts say the birth control campaign is part of a state-orchestrated assault on the Uyghurs to purge them of their faith and identity and forcibly assimilate them into the dominant Han Chinese culture. They’re subjected to political and religious re-education in camps and forced labour in factories, while their children are indoctrinated in orphanages. Uyghurs, who are often but not always Muslim, are also tracked by a vast digital surveillance apparatus.
“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality, making them easier to assimilate,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uyghurs at the University of Colorado.
Some go a step further.
“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

For centuries, the majority was Muslim in the arid, landlocked region China now calls “Xinjiang” – meaning “New Frontier” in Mandarin.
After the People’s Liberation Army swept through in 1949, China’s new Communist rulers ordered thousands of soldiers to settle in Xinjiang, pushing the Han population from 6.7% that year to more than 40% by 1980. The move sowed anxiety about Chinese migration that persists to this day. Drastic efforts to restrict birth rates in the 1990s were relaxed after major pushback, with many parents paying bribes or registering children as the offspring of friends or other family members.
That all changed with an unprecedented crackdown starting in 2017, throwing hundreds of thousands of people into prisons and camps for alleged “signs of religious extremism” such as travelling abroad, praying or using foreign social media. Authorities launched what several notices called “dragnet-style” investigations to root out parents with too many children, even those who gave birth decades ago.
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“Leave no blind spots,” said two county and township directives in 2018 and 2019 uncovered by Zenz, who is also an independent contractor with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan non-profit based in Washington, D.C. “Contain illegal births and lower fertility levels,” said a third.
Officials and armed police began pounding on doors, looking for kids and pregnant women. Minority residents were ordered to attend weekly flag-raising ceremonies, where officials threatened detention if they didn’t register all their children, according to interviews backed by attendance slips and booklets. Noticesfound by the AP show that local governments set up or expanded systems to reward those who report illegal births.
In some areas, women were ordered to take gynecology exams after the ceremonies, they said. In others, officials outfitted special rooms with ultrasound scanners for pregnancy tests.
“Test all who need to be tested,” ordered a township directive from 2018. “Detect and deal with those who violate policies early.”
Abdushukur Umar was among the first to fall victim to the crackdown on children. A jovial Uighur tractor driver-turned-fruit merchant, the proud father considered his seven children a blessing from God.
But authorities began pursuing him in 2016. The following year, he was thrown into a camp and later sentenced to seven years in prison – one for each child, authorities told relatives.
“My cousin spent all his time taking care of his family, he never took part in any political movements,” Zuhra Sultan, Umar’s cousin, said from exile in Turkey. “How can you get seven years in prison for having too many children? We’re living in the 21st century – this is unimaginable.”
Fifteen Uyghurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison.

Leaked data obtained and corroborated by the AP showed that of 484 camp detainees listed in Karakax county in Xinjiang, 149 were there for having too many children – the most common reason for holding them. Time in a camp – what the government calls “education and training” – for parents with too many children is written policy in at leastthreecounties, notices found by Zenz confirmed.
In 2017, the Xinjiang government also tripled the already hefty fines for violating family planning laws for even the poorest residents – to at least three times the annual disposable income of the county. While fines also apply to Han Chinese, only minorities are sent to the detention camps if they cannot pay, according to interviews and data. Government reports show the counties collect millions of dollars from the fines each year.
In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is dangling land, jobs and economic subsidies to lure Han migrants there. It is also aggressively promoting intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uyghurs, with one couple telling the AP they were given money for housing and amenities like a washing machine, refrigerator and TV.

“It links back to China’s long history of dabbling in eugenics ….you don’t want people who are poorly educated, marginal minorities breeding quickly,” said James Leibold, a specialist in Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe in Melbourne. “What you want is your educated Han to increase their birth rate.”
Sultan describes how the policy looks to Uyghurs like her: “The Chinese government wants to control the Uighur population and make us fewer and fewer, until we disappear.”
Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, according to former detainees. They are also made to attend lectures on how many children they should have.
Seven former detainees told the AP that they were force-fed birth control pills or injected with fluids, often with no explanation. Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods. After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical checkups and found they were sterile.
It’s unclear what former detainees were injected with, but Xinjiang hospital slides obtained by the AP show that pregnancy prevention injections, sometimes with the hormonal medication Depo-Provera, are a common family planning measure. Side effects can include headaches and dizziness.
Dina Nurdybay, a Kazakh woman, was detained in a camp which separated married and unmarried women. The married women were given pregnancy tests, Nurdybay recalled, and forced to have IUDs installed if they had children. She was spared because she was unmarried and childless.
One day in February 2018, one of her cellmates, a Uighur woman, had to give a speech confessing what guards called her “crimes.” When a visiting official peered through the iron bars of their cell, she recited her lines in halting Mandarin.
“I gave birth to too many children,” she said. “It shows I’m uneducated and know little about the law.”
“Do you think it’s fair that Han people are only allowed to have one child?” the official asked, according to Nurdybay. “You ethnic minorities are shameless, wild and uncivilized.”

Nurdybay met at least two others in the camps whom she learned were locked up for having too many children. Later, she was transferred to another facility with an orphanage that housed hundreds of children, including those with parents detained for giving birth too many times. The children counted the days until they could see their parents on rare visits.
“They told me they wanted to hug their parents, but they were not allowed,” she said. “They always looked very sad.”
Another former detainee, Tursunay Ziyawudun, said she was injected until she stopped having her period, and kicked repeatedly in the lower stomach during interrogations. She now can’t have children and often doubles over in pain, bleeding from her womb, she said.
Ziyawudun and the 40 other women in her “class” were forced to attend family planning lectures most Wednesdays, where films were screened about impoverished women struggling to feed many children. Married women were rewarded for good behaviour with conjugal visits from their husbands, along with showers, towels, and two hours in a bedroom. But there was a catch – they had to take birth control pills beforehand.
Some women have even reported forced abortions. Ziyawudun said a “teacher” at her camp told women they would face abortions if found pregnant during gynecology exams.
A woman in another class turned out to be pregnant and disappeared from the camp, she said. She added that two of her cousins who were pregnant got rid of their children on their own because they were so afraid.
Another woman, Gulbakhar Jalilova, confirmed that detainees in her camp were forced to abort their children. She also saw a new mother, still leaking breast milk, who did not know what had happened to her infant. And she met doctors and medical students who were detained for helping Uyghurs dodge the system and give birth at home.
In December 2017, on a visit from Kazakhstan back to China, Gulzia Mogdin was taken to a hospital after police found WhatsApp on her phone. A urine sample revealed she was two months pregnant with her third child. Officials told Mogdin she needed to get an abortion and threatened to detain her brother if she didn’t.
During the procedure, medics inserted an electric vacuum into her womb and sucked her fetus out of her body. She was taken home and told to rest, as they planned to take her to a camp.
Months later, Mogdin made it back to Kazakhstan, where her husband lives.
“That baby was going to be the only baby we had together,” said Mogdin, who had recently remarried. “I cannot sleep. It’s terribly unfair.”
The success of China’s push to control births among Muslim minorities shows up in the numbers for IUDs and sterilization.
In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in Xinjiang. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 per cent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use tumbled elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed.
A former teacher drafted to work as an instructor at a detention camp described her experience with IUDs to the AP.
It started with flag-raising assemblies at her housing compound at the beginning of 2017, where residents were forced to chant: “If we have too many children, we’re religious extremists ….That means we have to go to the training centres.” After every flag-raising ceremony, police rounded up parents with too many children – over 180 – until “not a single one was left,” she said. Officers with guns and tasers hauled her neighbours away at night, and from time to time pounded on her door and swept her apartment for Qurans, knives, prayer mats and of course children.
“Your heart would leap out of your chest,” she said.
Then, that August, officials in the teacher’s compound were told to install IUDs on all women of child-bearing age. She protested, saying she was nearly 50 with just one child and no plans to have more. Officials threatened to drag her to a police station and strap her to an iron chair for interrogation.
She was forced into a bus with four armed officers and taken to a hospital where hundreds of Uighur women lined up in silence, waiting for IUDs to be inserted. Some wept quietly, but nobody dared say a word because of the surveillance cameras hanging overhead.
Her IUD was designed to be irremovable without special instruments. The first 15 days, she got headaches and non-stop menstrual bleeding.
“I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t sleep properly. It gave me huge psychological pressure,” she said. “Only Uyghurs had to wear it.”
Chinese health statistics also show a sterilization boom in Xinjiang.
Budget documents obtained by Zenz show that starting in 2016, the Xinjiang government began pumping tens of millions of dollars into a birth control surgery program and cash incentives for women to get sterilized. While sterilization rates plunged in the rest of the country, they surged sevenfold in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2018, to more than 60,000 procedures. The Uighur-majority city of Hotan budgeted for 14,872 sterilizations in 2019 – about 34% of all married women of child-bearing age.
ven within Xinjiang, policies vary widely, being harsher in the heavily Uighur south than the Han-majority north. In Shihezi, a Han-dominated city where Uyghurs make up just 2% of the population, the government subsidizes baby formula and hospital birth services to encourage more children, state media reported.
Zumret Dawut got no such benefits. In 2018, the mother of three was locked in a camp for two months for having an American visa.

When she returned home under house arrest, officials forced her to get gynecology exams every month, along with all other Uighur women in her compound. Han women were exempted. They warned that if she didn’t take what they called “free examinations”, she could end up back in the camp.
One day, they turned up with a list of at least 200 Uighur women in her compound with more than two children who had to get sterilized, Dawut recalled.
“My Han Chinese neighbours, they sympathized with us Uyghurs,” Dawut said. “They told me, ‘oh, you’re suffering terribly, the government is going way too far!’”
Dawut protested, but police again threatened to send her back to the camp. During the sterilization procedure, Han Chinese doctors injected her with anesthesia and tied her Fallopian tubes – a permanent operation. When Dawut came to, she felt her womb ache.
“I was so angry,” she said. “I wanted another son.”
Looking back, Omirzakh considers herself lucky.
After that frigid day when officials threatened to lock her up, Omirzakh called relatives around the clock. Hours before the deadline, she scraped together enough money to pay the fine from the sale of her sister’s cow and high-interest loans, leaving her deep in debt.
For the next year, Omirzakh attended classes with the wives of others detained for having too many children. She and her children lived with two local party officials sent specially to spy on them. When her husband was finally released, they fled for Kazakhstan with just a few bundles of blankets and clothes.
The IUD still in Omirzakh’s womb has now sunk into her flesh, causing inflammation and piercing back pain, “like being stabbed with a knife.” For Omirzakh, it’s a bitter reminder of everything she’s lost – and the plight of those she left behind.
“People there are now terrified of giving birth,” she said. “When I think of the word ‘Xinjiang,’ I can still feel that fear.

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Good day readers! It’s going to be another blistering hot one. Humidex values will be 40C! Yee hah!

Scouring the news this morning I came upon this hilarious bit in the Guardian, regarding allegations John Bolton makes in his book/expose on Donald Trump. I couldn’t resist posting it.

“Trump asked if Finland belongs to Russia. Of course this irritates us Finns,” Hussein al-Taee, a Social Democrat MP, tweeted on Thursday.
But, he added, “attracting attention for his bad geography isn’t Trump’s biggest worry.”
Meanwhile, Tuuli Kamppila, a Finnish political activist, tweeted of the president’s alleged question: “That’s nothing, Putin still thinks Ukraine is part of Russia.”

Come on, that definitely made you chuckle! Admit it.

The latest pandemic numbers are mind blowing. I have not looked at the Johns Hopkins stats for over a week and it would seem we are not anywhere near to beating back this Covid-19. Over 8 million cases worldwide and deaths approaching 500,000. It’s a reminder that even though I live in a covid free zone, with influx of tourism in full swing, it is prudence and caution that has to govern our behavior. I even scooped a mask from my local bank yesterday, carrying it in glove box of the car, ready for use. One of the tellers got a little peeved that I took one, they were apparently only for in bank use for people who wanted to wear one in the bank. Sorry, I had already picked it up, and considering the interest payments on various loans they have collected off me thru the years, I do not at all feel guilty taking a mask!

Here’s a lawn maintenance reminder to all you grass cutters. Equal tire pressure is critical for a decent cut. I’ve carved out divots all over my lawn because I got lazy and did not pump up the one tire that has a slow leak. Not that I’m a rabid manicurist, but it does make one satisfied to see a well mowed lawn. That should emphasize how far removed we are here in the County, from more serious events affecting the world! And loving every minute of that! Looking forward to visiting some local wineries and craft brewers this weekend to enjoy some patio beverages. Cheers to all!

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Day 63

8:06 am. Overcast, 11C, rain. An indoor day. Maybe.

This is the final installment of the Pandemic Diaries. Your faithful scribe is tired of the whole issue. Burned out as it were. No worries, I’ll keep blogging but not under this journal headline. There are so many other topics and ideas swirling in my head. And tagging them with ‘Pandemic Diaries’ tends to skew my thinking toward that disaster theme. I’m sure most people are frustrated with, and also tired of the relentless barrage of pandemic information. And all of it is bad. Negative. I’ll try to limit my pandemic posts to positive information. Even though the reality is bleak as hell, I’ll leave the Trump crap and burning of America reviews to other writers. OK. I know I’ll slip from time to time just so I can get a good rant off my chest. But the intention being to instead look for stories that get the mind into the plus side of the ledger. Reopening of business. Relaxing of restrictions. Humor. Fiction. Sure, a lot of my writing will be about pandemic derived or driven issues, but hopefully I can scribble about the light instead of the dark. Stuff that does not depress me nor you. In any event, this post closes that chapter. Basta. Enough.

Stay with me here. Going to take a little pause and grind some more coffee beans for a fresh pot. I feel like drinking java today.

Aaahhh… That satisfying sip. Freshly ground ‘Kicking Horse Kick Ass’. Outstanding coffee from Invermere BC. I love their copy, fun writers.

“If there’s something worth doing, we think it’s worth doing great. This remarkable blend of beans is the spirit of Kicking Horse Coffee, and a bold invitation to wake up and kick ass with us.”

I vaguely recall blogging about this in an earlier post. But no matter. Good things are worth sharing many times over.

It is not going to be a relaxing morning, that’s for sure. Not after several mugs of black coffee! Soon the heart will start beating like a mad drummer pounding out a call to war. If the rains stay away for a few hours I’ll fire up the weed whacker. Have not yet done that and there are places on the estate that require some whacking.

A call to arms in the land of the free
Tell me America is this the future you see?

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The link at the end of my foreword is one I highly recommend you clik to. It is an essay by David Smith, published in today’s ‘The Guardian’. This is the most accurate and devastating review of Donald Trump that I have read to date. It encapsulates the madness and incompetence that have poisoned his presidency. I was going to leave Trump alone for a while, but it is impossible to ignore this man. The idea that he might rule over America for another 4 years is still too real a possibility. So we have to keep writing about him and ensuring that our brothers and sisters in the USA can rid themselves of this toxic personality before he completely destroys that marvelous country and its people.

When Donald Trump crowed about the SpaceX launch of two American astronauts as if it somehow signified the superiority of America over all things living and managed to find a way to do it in an aggressive and threatening manner, I could not leave it alone. Trump used this peaceful launch of astronauts to the International Space Station by saying Washington would soon have “the greatest weapons ever imagined in history.” During a time of incredible crisis in America, when the populace is angrily rising against him, when words of hope and positivity are so desperately needed, he still manages to throw out a remark that is vulgar and threatening!

He takes a celebratory and happy moment when scientists go into space to work collectively with their colleagues from other nations, and weaponizes the moment. Who exactly is that remark intended for? Is it directed at the American people? At China? But that has been the theme of Donald Trump’s presidency. And now, at the juncture of George Floyd’s murder, record unemployment, Pandemic depression, a population frustrated and starved for honest leadership, Donald Trump’s presidency and the United States of America have come to a critical moment. America is at a crossroads. The path it now takes will forever define it and the world.

“The story of Trump’s presidency was arguably always leading to this moment, with its toxic mix of weak moral leadership, racial divisiveness, crass and vulgar rhetoric and an erosion of norms, institutions and trust in traditional information sources. “


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Day 62

7:04 am. Sunday. If you live in southern Ontario you are waking up wondering WTF is going on with this weather??!! Plus 8 at my place. Rain. But at least the birds are chirping like crazy. Compare that picture from a couple posts ago to today’s. That’s how quickly nature has changed the foliage!

Day of reflection. Day of prayer. Especially now. It really does seem like the United States of America is on the verge of collapse. And the murder of George Floyd was the catalyst. Combined with millions of unemployed frustrated citizens, fear of a pandemic that is nowhere near to being brought under control, and finally and probably most importantly, a President who has become totally unhinged. His actions over the last few weeks confirm that Donald Trump wishes to rule by edict. Ignore democracy. My way or the highway. If you do not agree with him, you are an enemy. Twitter is the latest subject of his wrath. In trying to do a public service, posting warnings about fact checking on his tweet like they do with any erroneous and spurious tweets, they have unleashed another maelstrom of madness by Trump. Now he threatens the very agency which has allowed him to spread his hateful and outrageous messaging to the world. Cities are burning. Protests show no signs of abating. Police and military presence is getting stronger by the day throughout America. God help us all.

I spent a couple hours last night watching the end of Joe Rogan’s dialogue with Edward Snowden. Snowden is the person who released a flood of classified information to the world, unmasking the way US agencies like the CIA and NSA collect information on everybody. Illegally. I highly recommend you take the time to listen to this man. It will change your perception of what he did and why he did it. Snowden is not a traitor. He deserves commendation and support for showing the deep state of America’s surveillance on its own citizens. Scary stuff. I’m going to buy his book ‘Permanent Record’ which goes into detail about this issue. This is not conspiracy stuff, it is real!

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will invest C$30 million ($21.8 million) to enable its provinces and territories to promote holidays in their “own back yard” because of the closure of the country’s borders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Destination Canada, the country’s national marketing body which usually focuses on luring international visitors, is due to announce the new funding later on Sunday, according to a statement seen by Reuters before its official release. (ed: What a pittance. We dole out $billions in other pandemic assistance programs and can only throw a little bone at the industry which is in peril of total collapse.)

Another night of unrest in every corner of the United States left charred and shattered landscapes in dozens of cities Sunday as years of festering frustrations over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police boiled over in expressions of rage met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted on buildings, a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, and thousands marched peacefully through city streets to protest the death of George Floyd. (ed: It is a dangerous and scary time in America. And because of the situation in USA, it is scary and dangerous for the rest of the world. Look at the signals China is sending out now! With it’s greatest adversary now in turmoil, it’s only a matter of time before China strikes at Taiwan or elsewhere.)

Brazil registered a record 33,274 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, its health ministry said, raising the total to 498,440 in a country with one of the world’s worst outbreaks. The death toll in Brazil from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, increased to 28,834, with 956 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the ministry said. (ed: Sadly, the Brazilian people are now paying for the ignorance and stupidity of their leader Bolsonaro. Sound familiar?)

In a dramatic pivot, US president Donald Trump has postponed the Group of Seven summit that he wanted to hold in June. He will also expand the list of countries invited to attend the rescheduled event to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7 in its current format was a “very outdated group of countries. (ed: Of all the times this meeting should proceed, it is now. The world is in crisis. I do however agree with expanding the group to include those other nations. Hard to ignore 1.5 billion people.)

The world has passed the milestone of six million confirmed coronavirus cases, with 6,048,384 confirmed infections worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The US is the worst-affected country in terms of cases and deaths, with 1,769,776 infections and 103,685 fatalities. (ed: mind numbing statistics.)

And so I leave you for another day! If you have some greater being to which you look for direction and solace then pray today.

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Day 61

2:18 pm. 19C now, going down to 6 tonight. Stock market weather continues. Nice breeze with occasional sunshine peeking out from the clouds.

Why an I writing in the afternoon? I just finished reading a National Post column and it sparked some anger. Here’s why.

Howard Levitt, an employment lawyer who I usually enjoy reading, wrote a column today trumpeting his recent purchase of a Kent Monkman painting. Monkman is a Canadian Cree artist who has risen in prominence. His highly satirical art makes fun of all things Canadian, particularly our political class. Here’s the paragraph that pissed me off:

“I called Monkman, who I know, and whose large paintings invariably cost six figures, hoping for a deal. Unfortunately none was to be had. If anything, the scandal has increased the Cree artist’s already heady prominence, adding a highlight of notoriety.”

Here we are, living in a time when the vast majority of Canadians, hell, of mankind, is precariously hanging onto what they have, desperately trying to find the cash to survive thru this extended lock-down, and Howard Levitt has the audacity to brag about his six figure purchase of a piece of art! Put a little more thought into your column next time Howard. The rest of us could care less about your surfeit of wealth and how you can readily buy six figure art work! You breathe rarefied air and this column reinforces the perception that there is a chasm between the haves and have nots in our society. So bragging about your frivolous art purchase at a time when unemployment is at record highs and we are on the precipice of a dismal abyss is not what one would expect to hear from an employment lawyer. I’ll chalk it up to an uncharacteristic lack of judgment as your euphoria clouded your sensibility.

I did my little bit to contribute to the GDP today. Bought a new patio umbrella. TSC had such a great sale on, it was worth the drive to town.

And I’ll sign off with some snippets from one of my favorite daily reads, The Guardian.

India reports record daily jump of 7,964 new coronavirus infections
With the latest tally, India has reported 173,763 coronavirus cases and 4,971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally, according to Reuters. While the fatality rates in India have been lower than in worse-hit countries, experts fear the peak has not been reached. The latest numbers, showing mounting cases of new infections, would appear to confirm that grim prediction.

Global death toll passes 365,000
The global death toll has increased to 365,368, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the spread of the virus during the pandemic. The number of cases currently stands at 5,945,737. The true number of infections is likely to be much higher, however, given the vast number of unrecorded and asymptomatic cases. 

Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers
The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, despite some areas reporting continuing high levels of coronavirus infections. He added that physical distancing and other health protocols would be observed in mosques. He did not say when they were due to reopen.

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Day 60

6:01 am. 20C already. There is wind, but it looks like another hot day. Some rain ahead, but otherwise fabulous forecast for a few days. The weather is the only positive thing I can find today.

George Floyd. That’s a name you won’t soon forget. And the words ‘I can’t breathe’! Minneapolis is burning and soon much of America will be burning. Again. Tragically, this will become a shameful indictment of America instead of an isolated incident wherein a completely incompetent police officer murdered a citizen. Remember Dudley George? It seems that American history is smeared with similarly atrocious acts of violence against their black brothers. One has to be at least a little sympathetic to black society in America. How can this once glorious country find new lows all the time? Why is that? Poverty? Racism? Class divides? Incompetent leaders? America needs another black leader like Martin Luther King. Someone to galvanize people and give hope. And now with the continued debacle of a mismanaged effort to combat corona-virus, I fear that George Floyd’s murder will lead to another summer of hell. It won’t be just Detroit or L.A. burning. People’s frustration and fear will now explode. Look out. A summer of hell is coming to the United States of America. There is nothing united about the states any more. I’m going to segue away from this story, it is too depressing.

Had one of the new cleaners in yesterday to prepare the guest house for future guests. Thanks Patty. Great job.

Looks like a grass cutting day is ahead of me. This period of humidity and heat along with smattering of rain has encouraged more growth than normal. I try to space my lawn tractor time to more than a week between cutting in normal times. Otherwise the weed whacker has to be pulled out. And it is now very close to that time. I’ll need to fire up the whacker any way to get some areas where the four wheeled chopper cannot reach. Lawn maintenance day.

Very much enjoying Youtube these days, especially Joe Rogan’s podcast. I like this guy’s point of view. Logical, conservative, thoughtful commentary and interviews. The one with Robert Downey Jr. is particularly insightful. Highly recommend.

And news day today. It’s my day to do the afternoon news on the local radio station, so it looks like I’ll have to revisit that George Floyd story again. Damn. And the pandemic continues its relentless march, thankfully not in this region. But business continues to suffer. The controls imposed by the suits in big cities continue to apply to all communities. The noose gets tighter and tighter. Hard to find any light in the tunnel today.

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Interesting data from Italy’s national health authority on the characteristics of those who died with Covid-19 in the country.
An analysis of more than 3,000 fatalities found the average age of those who died was about 80, and that 96% had previous medical conditions. Nearly 60% had three or more illnesses.
This underlines what we already know: those most vulnerable to Covid-19 are the elderly and those with certain co-morbidities…..from The Guardian.

And we already know that in Canada 75% of our deaths were in long term health care facilities. So why have we locked down the entire country for so long?? The uncomfortable statistic and reality confirms that Covid-19 kills the elderly, and overwhelmingly those in long term health care facilities! Yet we are torpedoing the future of our youth, hell, the future of everybody, with this prolonged lockdown. Damn it! Protect our seniors, overhaul the nursing home system, listen to the military’s damning report on how those places operate, and get the hell on with the nation’s business. Before it is too late. The statistics don’t lie. We’ve been skirting around this eye popping stat for too long. Covid-19 kills the elderly. It’s that simple. Yes, we have serious self examination and work ahead of us. Fix the nursing home system. Our military has exposed the very dark underbelly of how horrendously we have ignored the needs of our seniors. It is shameful. It is worthy of a national day of mourning. But we have reached a point where pussy footing forward and then stepping back because of moronic behavior of small segments of society in urban centers (ie: Trinity Bellwoods Park) just compromises the rest of us. Understand and accept that there are large swaths of this country that have been free of the virus for several weeks already. Let them get back to normal at an accelerated pace. Keep more stringent rules in place in urban centers. Yes, they will suffer economic harm longer. But rules have to be way more flexible now. We are not going to come out of this together, at the same time. The phrase ‘We’re all in this together’ is bullshit! If we stay under the same rule framework together, we’re all going down! The curve has been flattened. That was the initial rationale for the draconian lockdown. OK. The health care system was not overwhelmed. We succeeded. Now it’s time to get everybody tested so hot spots can be identified. Pour resources into this area. And accept that some regions will be better able to manage the coronavirus than others. But an all encompassing overall strategy can no longer succeed. It will only penalize regions that have been free of Covid-19 and done the right things. Stop the suffering!

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Day 58

5:14 pm. OK. I’m a few hours early, so pretend it is the next day. Hot, hot, hot. I spent my day sitting on the dock and reading. Under the shade of a beach umbrella. What a delight. Warm breeze blowing, not the usual gale force we’re used to here, but a gentle soothing drift. Watered some flowers. But mostly, relaxed and read. Lucky me. Here’s a few snippets culled from the readily accessible internet.

Japan’s football league launched a “remote cheering’ app to boost the atmosphere at empty stadiums as teams prepared to resume play. Fans’ voices will reverberate around the ground in real time via loudspeakers.

New Zealand has reported a fifth consecutive day of no new cases of Covid-19 recorded in the country.

India’s top biomedical research body backed the use of the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine as a preventive against coronavirus, after the WHO suspended clinical trials of the drug over safety concerns. (ed: WTF??)

Business is booming in the sex doll trade. So much so, that suppliers are having a tough time satisfying their customers.
“We have lots of products in stock but we can’t work fast enough to keep up with demand,” Janet Stevenson, the founder of Florida company Sex Doll Genie, told Forbes. A story in the U.K.’s Daily Star also noted that couples are getting in on the action and said sex robots that “breathe” and have a heartbeat are on the way.
Sex dolls were also recently used to fill stadium seats by a South Korean soccer team, but that move wasn’t well received and the club was fined. (ed: What a fkd up world we are moving to!)

Toronto and its surrounding regions account for a disproportionately high number of Ontario’s new cases of COVID-19, according to a CBC News analysis of provincial data on novel coronavirus infections.  
More than three-quarters of the active cases of COVID-19 currently listed in the province’s database are found in the five public health units of Toronto, Peel, York, Durham and Halton regions, an area that accounts for less than half of the province’s population.
This is a clear shift from the first month of the pandemic, when cases were more evenly distributed around the province, and that shift is prompting some experts to recommend that the province relax the lockdown in some regions, while clamping down in areas where cases are rising.

And yet, Ontario extends emergency orders until June 9. Why are circumstances in urban centers driving this policy? We have not seen a new case of Covid-19 here in the County for almost 4 weeks. There is not one person on a ventilator in Belleville nor any Covid-19 patients in ICU. And the County statistics are even better. Yet our businesses must suffer under the same draconian restrictions as those in Toronto! Every municipality should have their own right to govern! Hell, Queen’s Park off loaded road repairs onto municipalities and saddled us with decades of impossibly costly repairs since our small tax base cannot ever fund the miles and miles of road repairs required. Maybe our Mayor should negotiate funding for road repairs in return for a loosening of restrictions here.

But that is a digression into another issue. Back to the pandemic. There is no pandemic in Prince Edward County! There is no coronavirus in Prince Edward County. Yet our restaurants and bars and other small business has to continue abiding by a provincial edict. I doubt very much that any County residents were in Trinity-Bellwoods park last weekend! Those cidiots likely convinced Premier Ford to extend the emergency another 2 weeks.

We recognize that concentrations of people are a hazard. We know that social distancing must be practiced for the foreseeable future. But let our tourism sector open up or this place is gong to die a slow and agonizing death. And if the by-law enforcers see people engaging in dangerous behavior, then fine them! But you cannot go on painting everybody with the same broad brush stroke. We’re not cidiots here!

You are penalizing everybody who writes their own paycheque. It’s easy to pontificate from behind your podium when you never have to worry about where your next paycheque is coming from. Most people in this community, other than the senior crowd who are also guaranteed their income, have to work damn hard to earn a living in the best of times. I sure as hell hope the retired seniors in this area are buying their meals from take-out. Our restaurateurs and bars and service people have been deprived for too long now of the opportunity to make a living. Enough. Open up. Move forward. At least in rural Ontario where we have a handle on this madness and don’t engage in stupid behavior. And how come you cannot even walk on the beach yet? Seriously? Like it’s hard to stay 6ft apart when you have miles of beach to enjoy!

Finally, open up testing for everybody. Every citizen should be tested for this bloody virus! How on earth can we not have adequate testing already so many months into this madness? I want to know if I could be an asymptomatic carrier. We all want to know. We’re not going to hide in our cocoons forever. Get that testing ramped up now, or else you may find that normally sensible people will start to also be a little stupid and then? The second wave could be disastrous. Ruinous.

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Day 57

6:31 am. Already 22C and going into the 30’s today with a humidex of 40! Stay in the shade today folks, there is no doubt we are going to have a crazy hot summer.

From a University of Saskatchewan study on a Covid-19 vaccine….ferrets in their study were able to fight off the disease after receiving two doses of the team’s in-house vaccine. The positive outcome sets the stage for tests with human subjects, which could begin as early as this fall.
Apparently ferrets have a pulmonary system that is similar to humans. I don’t know about you, but I avoid those little buggers like the plague. Remarkable though, that science can use species other than us, to study impacts of initial viral vaccines. I know, animal rights activists find it abhorrent, but rather them than us. So good for you ferrets! And the U Sask team.

Here’s an amusing snippet from one of my blog posts 8 years ago.

Archive for May, 2012
Hey stupid, did you invest in Facebook?Posted in Rants on May 29, 2012|  

As Facebook continues its slide, ($28.80 at time of writing) I can’t help but wonder at the stupidity of those who invested into this silly company.  How a chat room with pictures could ever rise to such prominence is beyond me.  It reminds me of the tech boom in the 90’s.  Anything remotely connected with the internet attracted investment capital.  Money kept pouring in, because people were too lazy to accept that only through hard work and discipline and often sacrifice, would you realize profit.  Whatever happened to those principles?  Have we become such a slothtful society, that we expect, no demand, like little children, to receive without giving any kind of sweat in return?  You’d think a society built on the hard work and sacrifice of pioneers would adopt some of the principles that got us here.  But no, like petulant spoiled brats, we continue to take, take and take.  Give nothing in return, just keep collecting.  But of course, a phalanx of lawyers will now line up to pursue your grievance against Facebook and Morgan Stanley.  How could they so distort the potential of Facebook?  Oh my, they lied to us.  And you swallowed the sales pitch like a ripe strawberry.  Yummy!  It tastes so good, sounds so fabulous, it must be the truth.  Ever heard of due diligence people?   So poo on you if you were dumb enough to pour money into Facebook.  Get back to sending emails with attachments.  Or pick up the phone  or Skype your friends.  Hey, here’s an idea.  How about making plans to meet for lunch, or is that old school?  I say get rid of Facebook altogether!

Do I feel stupid now!!? Facebook traded yesterday at $232!!! So remember, whatever you post on the internet is there forever! Stock markets are so out of synch with reality now it really is a crap shoot. But hey, what do I know?! Have a happy pandemic day y’all.

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