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It’s Not All the Government’s Fault

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covid safety protocols

by Nick Kossovan

 

Often, I think the most common fear isn’t public speaking or the fear of heights, flying, finding a hair in your chocolate pudding. From observation, I’d say the most common fear is being accountable for your actions’ consequences. Blaming the government, corporations and circumstances created by lifestyle choices has become a national pastime. This contact blaming says much about our wanting to avoid the fact at any given moment, a person is the sum of their choices.

Lately, it seems it’s our political leaders who’re at fault for COVID, and now it’s variant, to keep rolling along. It’s easier to use the government as a scapegoat instead of taking responsibility for your own actions or looking at your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours’ behaviour and calling them out if necessary.

This “I’m not responsible for my community, my country, how I’m leaving the planet for future generations,” or such egocentric attitude is why Doug Ford’s Whac-A-Mole lockdowns continue.

At this point, there’s not one person over the age of six who doesn’t know what they need to do to stem the spreading of COVID, which for those who need a reminder are:

  • When in public, which should be minimal (going to and from work, only purchasing essential items), properly wear a facemask.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

 

It doesn’t get simpler than this!

Undeniably if everyone did these three simple actions, we wouldn’t be near the current infection levels we’re now seeing. I wouldn’t go as far as stating COVID would be eradicated by now (that would be too ambitious), but it would’ve been mitigated.

 

How can I be so certain?

While taking high school biology, I learned how viruses spread and therefore adjusted my actions accordingly. Since I’ve been practicing the above-mentioned COVID safety protocols, I haven’t had a cold or the flu. You may have had the same experience. I can’t recall a December, January, or February when I wasn’t literally knocked down by a bad cold. This year nothing!

Government policies deeming what businesses are essential and can be open and which businesses must be closed don’t spread viruses. People choosing to ignore COVID safety protocols, going to malls, gathering socially, and not wearing a facemask are how COVID is spreading.

Just because the government allows you to do something doesn’t mean you should. Still, for many, the prevailing logic is: If the government allows me to do it, then it must be okay.

A sense of entitlement has many not thinking in terms of what’s right, but in terms of “what’s allowed.”

Because using the government as a scapegoat absolves the individual from being responsible for their actions, this logic isn’t uncommon. Do these same people say the government allowing the sale of foods that are high in trans fat is the cause of so many people being obese? They logically know people choosing to eat such foods is what creates obesity. The same goes with the selling of cigarettes—choosing to smoke is the cause of lung cancer, not the freedom to buy cigarettes.

You don’t need the government to tell you to do what you know is right, but I could be wrong on this assumption. Maybe the government does need to be our nanny and impose draconian measures. Should martial law, restricting movements and imposing curfews, as was done in Quebec (9:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. across the province) back in January, have been done in late-March 2020?

Obviously, educating how to be COVID safe and expecting people to make choices in their best health interest and those around them hasn’t worked. The foundation for maturity is understanding your actions have consequences to you and those around you. However small they may be, our actions have far-reaching ripple effects, which we often don’t see. The rapid spread of COVID over a country as vast as Canada shows how interconnected we are and part of a community that extends well beyond our respective geography.

Instead of coming together to fight a common enemy, COVID, many are spinning this pandemic into narratives to further their political or social agenda. Counterproductive division exists between those who are either COVID deniers, who simply don’t care about the risks or who’ve turned wearing a mask and social distancing into a freedom issue versus those who are doing their best to mitigate the spreading of the virus, which thankfully is the majority.

Then there are those who evangelize the narrative that lockdowns and the COVID safety protocols I mentioned don’t work. As proof, they point out, the number of COVID cases is increasing, not decreasing.

Previous lockdowns haven’t worked because there hasn’t been 100% compliance. This 3rd lockdown won’t work without 100% compliance! Not following the government’s lockdown guidelines and then claiming lockdowns don’t work is the equivalent to saying a person not wearing a seatbelt who dies in a car accident proves seatbelts don’t work. Of course, lockdowns don’t work if you don’t follow basic COVID safety protocols.

I’d go as far as stating if Ontarians had followed the 1st lockdown restrictions, Ontario probably wouldn’t need a 3rd lockdown. Blaming the government while not taking personal accountability—how’s that working out so far?

Not everything is the government’s fault. The government isn’t preventing anyone from diligently practicing COVID safety protocols or forcing anyone to go out for non-essential items. At some point, we’ll need to acknowledge our individual behaviour, and those of family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues is what’s prolonging this pandemic. The sooner we acknowledge this fact and adjust our respective lifestyle accordingly, the sooner this pandemic will become part of our history.

Undeniably, government leaders could’ve been much more proactive when COVID first reached our shores. No nonsense lockdowns should have been implemented at the start. In today’s world, where supply chain management is an exact science, there’s no excuse for the stop-and-go vaccine rollout. However, our political leaders didn’t fail us; they’re navigating uncharted waters with a demanding public constantly snapping at them. The failure comes from everyone who refuses to do what they know is right for the common good, which ultimately the government has no control over.

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Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes what’s on his mind from Toronto. Follow @NKossovan on Instagram and Twitter.

 

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Myanmar military sentences 19 to death, says anti-coup protests dwindling

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(Reuters) – Nineteen people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar for killing an associate of an army captain, the military owned Myawaddy TV station said on Friday, the first such sentences announced in public since a Feb. 1 coup and crackdown on protesters.

The report said the killing took place on March 27 in the North Okkalapa district of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city. Martial law has been declared in the district, allowing courts martial to pronounce sentences.

The military rulers who overthrew an elected government said on Friday that a protest campaign against its rule was dwindling because people wanted peace, and that it would hold elections within two years, the first timeframe it has given for a return to democracy.

Troops fired rifle grenades at anti-coup protesters on Friday in the town of Bago, near Yangon, witnesses and news reports said. At least 10 people were killed and their bodies piled up inside a pagoda, they said.

Myanmar Now news and Mawkun, an online news magazine, said at least 20 people were killed and many wounded. It was not possible to get a precise toll because troops had cordoned off the area near the pagoda, they said.

Junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that the country was returning to normal and government ministries and banks would resume full operations soon.

More than 600 people have been killed by security forces cracking down on protests against the coup, according to an activist group. The country has ground to a standstill because of the protests and widespread strikes against military rule.

“The reason of reducing protests is due to cooperation of people who want peace, which we value,” Zaw Min Tun said. “We request people to cooperate with security forces and help them.”

He said the military had recorded 248 deaths and he denied that automatic weapons had been used. Sixteen policemen had also been killed, he said.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group has said 614 people, including 48 children, had been killed by security forces since the coup, as of Thursday evening. More than 2,800 were in detention, it said.

“We are humbled by their courage and dignity,” a group of 18 ambassadors in Myanmar said of the protesters in a joint statement.

“We stand together to support the hopes and aspirations of all those who believe in a free, just, peaceful and democratic Myanmar. Violence has to stop, all political detainees must be released and democracy must be restored.”

The statement was signed by the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and several other European nations.

“The suggestions from neighbouring countries and big countries and powerful people in politics, we respect them,” Zaw Min Tun said. He also accused members of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy of arson and said the protest campaign was being financed by foreign money, but gave no details.

Suu Kyi and many of her party colleagues have been in custody since the coup.

Zaw Min Tun said reports that some members of the international community did not recognise the military government were “fake news”.

“We are cooperating with foreign countries and working together with neighbouring countries,” the spokesman said.

Ousted Myanmar lawmakers urged the United Nations Security Council on Friday to take action against the military.

“Our people are ready to pay any cost to get back their rights and freedom,” said Zin Mar Aung, who has been appointed acting foreign minister for a group of ousted lawmakers. She urged Council members to apply both direct and indirect pressure on the junta.

“Myanmar stands at the brink of state failure, of state collapse,” Richard Horsey, a senior adviser on Myanmar with the International Crisis Group, told the informal U.N. meeting, the first public discussion of Myanmar by council members.

The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, had wanted to visit the country but said she has been rebuffed by the generals.

She said on Friday she had arrived in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand.

“I regret that Tatmadaw answered me yesterday that they are not ready to receive me,” Schraner Burgener said on Twitter, referring to the Myanmar military. “I am ready for dialogue. Violence never leads to peaceful sustainable solutions.”

 

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Grant McCool; Editing by Nick Macfie and Daniel Wallis)

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Australia abandons COVID-19 vaccination targets after new advice on AstraZeneca shots

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By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has abandoned a goal to vaccinate nearly all of its 26 million population by the end of 2021 following advice that people under the age of 50 take Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine rather than AstraZeneca’s shot.

Australia, which had banked on the AstraZeneca vaccine for the majority of its shots, had no plans to set any new targets for completing its vaccination programme, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon.

“While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved,” Morrison said.

Authorities in Canberra changed their recommendation on Pfizer shots for under-50s on Thursday, after European regulators reiterated the possibility of links between the AstraZeneca shot and reports of rare cases of blood clots.

Australia, which raced to double its order of the Pfizer vaccine last week, had originally planned to have its entire population vaccinated by the end of October.

Australia’s hardline response to the virus largely stopped community transmissions but the vaccination rollout has become a hot political topic – and a source of friction between Morrison and state and territory leaders – after the country vaccinated only a fraction of its four million target by the end of March.

About 1.16 million COVID-19 doses have now been administered, Morrison added, noting the speed of Australia’s vaccination programme was in line with other peer nations, including Germany and France, and ahead of Canada and Japan.

Australia began vaccinations much later than some other nations, partly because of its low number of infections, which stand at just under 29,400, with 909 deaths, since the pandemic began.

(GRAPHIC – Global COVID tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/)

 

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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HSBC and Huawei CFO reach agreement on document publication linked to extradition case

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – HSBC and Huawei Technologies’ Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou have reached an agreement in a dispute about the publication of documents relating to U.S. fraud allegations against her, their lawyers told a Hong Kong court.

The judge, Linda Chan, made court orders along the lines of the agreement, she said on Monday. The orders were, however, not immediately available.

The legal dispute reached the Hong Kong court last month after a British judge in February blocked the release of internal HSBC documents relating to the fraud allegations against Meng.

Meng, who has been under house arrest in Canada since being detained at Vancouver airport in 2018, is facing charges of bank fraud in the United States for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei dealings in Iran, causing the bank to violate U.S. sanctions.

Meng, who says she is innocent, was seeking the publication of documents relating to her ongoing efforts to battle extradition from Canada to the U.S.

Responding to Reuters’ request for comment on Monday, a Huawei spokesman and an HSBC spokeswoman said they had reached an agreement, but did not provide any further details.

 

(Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong and David Kirton in Shenzhen; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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