Current Affairs

England Ends All COVID Passports, Mask Mandates, Work Restrictions

Restrictions including COVID-19 passes, mask mandates, and work-from-home requirements will be removed in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday. Johnson also suggested that self-isolation rules may also be thrown out at the end of March as the pandemic becomes endemic.

Effective immediately, the UK government is no longer asking people to work from home. The COVID pass mandate for nightclubs and large events won’t be renewed when it expires on Jan. 26. And from Thursday, indoor mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory anywhere in England.

The requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks during class and in communal areas will also be removed from the Department for Education’s national guidance.

Roaring cheers from lawmakers could be heard in the House of Commons following Johnson’s announcements on masks.

People who test positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated contacts are still required to self-isolate, but Johnson said he “very much expect[s] not to renew” the rule when the relevant regulations expire on March 24.

“As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” the prime minister said.

Asked to remove testing rules for vaccinated UK-bound travellers, Johnson said the government is reviewing the testing arrangements on travel and that an announcement can be expected in the coming days…read more.

Report: Athletes in Beijing Games Urged to Use Burner Phones, Disposable Computers

Athletes from multiple countries—including Canada—were urged to leave their cell phones and laptops at home due to high risks for cyber spying at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

The Olympic Committees for the United States, Netherlands, Great Britain, Australia and Canada issued recommendations for their athletes as each country anticipates China to implement strong surveillance during the Winter Games.

Previous reports from the De Volkskrant—a Dutch newspaper—The Guardian and The Age (Australian newspaper) issued statements urging athletes to leave their electronic devices at home.

Team USA issued in a technology bulletin that athletes should consider using rental, disposable computers, burner phones and virtual private networks (VPNs) while competing in China at minimum. If athletes do not use the recommended devices, the bulletin urged athletes to wipe all personal data from their devices before arrival and departure…read more.

House Republicans Release Damning Fauci Emails Suggesting Concealed Knowledge Of Lab Leak

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have released several emails which suggest Dr. Anthony Fauci may have known that Covid-19 originated from a lab leak, and that it may have been “intentionally genetically manipulated.”

“We write to request a transcribed interview of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Excerpts of emails we are making public today (see enclosed Appendix I) reveal that Dr. Fauci was warned of two things: (1) the potential that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute Virology (WIV) and (2) the possibility that the virus was intentionally genetically manipulated. It is imperative we investigate if this information was conveyed to the rest of the government and whether this information would have changed the U.S. response to the pandemic,” reads the letter from Reps. James Comer and Jim Jordan to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The letter goes on to state that Fauci – despite claiming otherwise on multiple occasions – was in fact aware of the monetary relationship between NIAID, the NIH, EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan lab – by January 27, 2020. Fauci also knew that EcoHealth and NIAID worked together to craft a grant policy which would ‘sidestep the gain-of-function moratorium at the time.’

“This allowed EcoHealth to complete dangerous experiments on novel bat coronaviruses – and with little oversight – that would have otherwise been blocked by the moratorium,” the letter continues, adding that in January 2020, Fauci was also aware that EcoHealth was delinquent in submitting an annual progress report to NIAID, “presumably to hide a gain-of-function experiment conducted on infectious and potentially lethal bat coronaviruses.”…read more.

Vancouver pushes new paper tax on retailers, coffee shops

The City of Vancouver sure can throw some curveballs at times.

To paraphrase the late comedian Henny Youngman: Take the new paper cup and bag fees. . . please.

In the throes of a pandemic, with public health orders confusing even the Mensa members and inflation deflating even the miserly, it seems the least we need is even more disruption and the least we can afford is even more expense.

Yet here we go.

What was a semi-smart plan many moons ago to dissuade us from our patterned behaviour to use plastic bags and single-use coffee and tea cups feels semi-irritable in January 2022. It has the appropriateness of announcing a break-up as a partner’s Christmas gifts are opened…read more.

Prediction Consensus: What the Experts See Coming in 2022

Even at the best of times, it’s human nature to want to decode the future.

During times of uncertainty though, we’re even more eager to predict what’s to come. To satisfy this demand, thousands of prognosticators share their views publicly as one year closes and another begins. In hindsight, we see varying levels of success at predicting the future.

In truth, experts are merely guessing at what will happen over the coming year. In 2020, almost nobody had a pandemic on their bingo card. In 2021, NFTs completely flew under the radar of experts, and nobody saw a container ship get lodged in the Suez Canal in their crystal ball.

So, why should we pay any attention to predictions at all? Are they, as Barry Ritholtz says, “wrong, random, or worse”?

For one, these guesses are backed by expertise and experience, so the accompanying analysis is informative. Perhaps more importantly though, influential people and companies are in a position to shape the future with their predictions. In some cases, sentiment and actions can turn a prediction into a self-fulfilling prophecy…read more.