Wednesday Night #2029

Written by  //  February 3, 2021  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

Tuesday was the 65th anniversary of Groundhog Day and Wiarton Willie predicts an early spring, however while Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam agrees with Willie’s prediction, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil disagreed with Willie, calling for six more weeks of winter. Whom to trust?
February 3rd is the anniversary of “The Day the Music Died”.

Although his departure from the White House does not mean that Trump has ceased -or will not continue – to disrupt and cause endless divisiveness in the Republican Party  (It’s Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Party Now) and the nation, it is intriguing to note that the headlines and think pieces are moving to other subjects. There is, of course, the Navalny-Putin confrontation in Russia, and the coup in Myanmar, which Shannon Tiezzi of The Diplomat views as a diplomatic headache for Beijing.

Watch Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas on the anxieties of autocrats – Russia and Myanmar

The stock market news took a sudden new direction this week with the GameStop story as the
Stock market meets internet fringe culture : While millions are now discovering WallStreetBets for the first time, it has been building momentum throughout the pandemic. One can trace its epic rise to a perfect storm of favorable conditions: the exponential growth of the app Robinhood and its no-fee options trading, the extreme volatility Covid-19 brought to the markets, the stimulus checks mailed to millions of Americans, the lack of televised sports for much of the year, and the unwanted free time stuck at home the pandemic has forced on many people.

Other neglected stories include changes to provisions of the Canada Pension Plan, introduced last summer, but just surfacing (Margaret Lefebvre can bring us up to date).

In the past, the WEF meeting at Davos has generated lots of coverage in the financial pages and among geopolitical commentaries. There has been a singular absence of stories this year, with almost all information about the meeting to be found under These are the top impacts from The Davos Agenda on the WEF website. While we did not look for an exhaustive list of attendees at this year’s virtual event, it did seem that the featured speakers were same-old-same-old names. And there was no marquee name from the new US administration.

Coronavirus Covid-19 and new mutations continue to preoccupy citizens, governments and the media. For Quebec, some relief as Premier François Legault  announced at his Tuesday news briefing that Quebec businesses, museums and hair salons will be allowed to open on Feb. 8, but the curfew will remain in place across the province.
Meanwhile, Canada’s vaccination program was just starting to move past first gear in mid-January when production slowdowns from Pfizer, and then a delay expanding production from Moderna, suddenly saw Canada’s vaccine deliveries plummet.
Good news is that With Novavax deal, Canada could be producing COVID-19 vaccine domestically by the fall
… [However] the new National Research Council biomanufacturing facility where the production will happen isn’t set to be completed until July. Then, it could take “a couple” of months before the facility is Health Canada certified for production and vials begin to be filled
The Novavax vaccine is now closer to joining Canada’s COVID-19 inoculation program; it differs from the two vaccines Canadians are currently receiving to guard against the respiratory illness, primarily because of how it’s engineered to induce an immune response in the body.
The European Union’s  strategy of joint vaccine procurement has also met with problems.
A controversial proposal:
Waive the patents, defeat the pandemic
The vaccine rollout is too slow, even in rich countries. A patent waiver could rapidly expand vaccine supplies — and deliver global justice
As the pandemic spills into its second year, the WHO tracker lists eight Covid-19 vaccines already in public use. Several others are awaiting regulatory approval. This is unprecedented in vaccine history and with effective international coordination, it presents the global community with a real chance for both pandemic and economic recovery in 2021.
Instead, however, the world is on the brink of a ‘catastrophic moral failure’ on vaccine distribution, to use the words of WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Countries are mired in a stalemate of ‘vaccine nationalism’, with the rich world having secured contracts to vaccinate their entire populations thrice over by the end of this year, while 85 poor countries will not get vaccine rollouts until early 2023, if at all.
This hoarding of vaccines by rich countries for profit constitutes ‘vaccine apartheid’, which not only grants rich countries an unjust privilege but also naively approaches the pandemic as a national or regional problem, despite its obviously global nature. And as a recent study showed, vaccine nationalism could cost rich countries alone USD 4.5 trillion because of its global economic interlinkages.

Was the global vaccine race inevitable? Politico Canada flies some trial balloons
— The upshot is that Canada remains at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies that have scaled back their deliveries and foreign governments that will inevitably put their own interests first. But some say there was another way all this could have played out, if only rich nations like Canada had been interested. Marc-André Gagnon, a political science professor at Carleton University, says governments could have created a global fund to buy patents and ensure the vaccines could be manufactured widely, at lower cost, instead of by a handful of companies in a few countries
Others say drug companies should have donated their intellectual property voluntarily. Dr. Joel Lexchin, professor emeritus at the school of health policy and management at York University, told Corridors: “Canada couldn’t do this on its own, but Canada could have promoted these ideas in a very public way.”.
Stephen Lewis made a similar argument Monday on CTV’s Power Play, claiming that suspending patents and allowing vaccines to be produced generically would benefit low-income countries — and Canada, too. “There should never have been patents accorded for these vaccines,” he said.
— A nice idea, maybe, but it’s the kind of thing that’s easier said than done. “It’s very difficult to build bargaining power with drug companies if you piss them off by leading a global initiative about opening patents,” Gagnon said. In reality, South Africa and India have recently called on the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property rights so that developing countries can access Covid-19 vaccines. The pharmaceutical industry and wealthy nations, including Canada, are decidedly not on board.

The federal government’s new travel restrictions have a lot of people upset (including the WN contingent, headed by John Buchanan, that wants to bring Joumane back to Montreal), but according to this report,  (scroll down) things may not be carved in stone:
“We still don’t know when Ottawa’s latest travel restrictions will come into force. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra recently said returning travelers could be forced to quarantine in hotels for three days at a cost of C$2,000 starting as early as tomorrow. But on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said only to expect the new measures “in the weeks to come” — likely before spring break.
— Rules and exceptions: Ottawa is apparently considering exemptions to its new and improved travel restrictions, according to Radio-Canada’s Louis Blouin, including for temporary foreign workers. The Bloc Québécois is calling for the mandatory hotel quarantine to be waived for people traveling for humanitarian reasons, including family reunification and medical treatment. Asked about this on Tuesday, however, Trudeau said there might be “rare exceptions,” but in general, “the rules are there for everyone to follow.”
… For now, Canadian flights to Mexico and the Caribbean have been canceled until April 30. But for those with cash to burn who are still determined to head south on vacation, the Canadian Press’s Jon Victor points out they can still book flights with American air carriers, raising fresh concerns about the impact this will have on Canadian airlines.”

Robert Sinclair and John Buchanan have had a lively exchange about the statistics regarding reported Covid cases from  international flights to which Michel replied “To reassure you a little bit, please note that these numbers do not represent infections aboard flights. They are contact tracing precautions provided to passengers who were within a certain proximity to infected people who had recently travelled by air. The source of these infections is not known. For information, see COVID-19 risk on planes ‘very low’ with proper measures, Harvard review says
Mask wearing and frequent cleaning in planes help keep the virus from spreading.. I am not saying you should travel any more than any other activity that places you in crowds because travel involves a lot more than just sitting in an aircraft but I bet you are very much safer in a plane than you are in any other public environment.”

We are trying to put together a page on the Covid Long-haulers and would welcome any links that you can supply.

Nap time is the new coffee break
Many people’s sleep habits have gone awry. They may be suffering from greater insomnia and poorer sleeps. Additional time in bed doesn’t mean it was quality time. Stress, illness, nightmares or a need to stay up to finish work set aside while caring for children have interrupted nightly rest, which means those people are more likely to need to nap. Others, freed from their alarm clocks, “are now getting more sleep and feeling more rested….”

Cheery notes:
Joyce Pillarella: Stories from Ville Emard, Newman Park, Lanes, Montreal, Italian, Oral History, (video)
A Dog’s Place Is at the White House
A home feels different when a dog lives there. Now 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be different, too.
Some charming anecdotes.
‘Who pours the kibble?’ And other answers about daily life for dogs in the White House
“As we learn more about the current first dogs’ daily lives, we will feel like we know a bit more about President Biden as well. After all, few of us have held the nuclear codes, but many of us have cleaned dog piddle out of a rug.
“It’s those everyday stories that allow us to relate to our presidents,” [Jennifer] Pickens [author of “Pets at the White House]” said. “I do think sometimes the way a president interacts with his pet will tell you a lot about their character.”

Another one leaves the stage. Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Channeled Mark Twain, Is Dead at 95

Good read
Who Was Mike Nichols When He Wasn’t Playing Mike Nichols?
A long, informative review of Mark Harris’ “Mike Nichols: A Life” that reveals much about a highly complex character and his influence on humour, particularly in the U.S. of the late ’50s and ’60s.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #2029"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson February 3, 2021 at 7:26 pm · Reply

    While I regret that I will not be able to join you this evening, please allow me to introduce General Beauregard Lee (“Beau”). Wikipedia describes Beau as “a Georgian groundhog widely considered to be the Groundhog Day weather prognosticator for the American South.” Beau also predicted an early spring.
    Gloria Calhoun

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