Timing & trends

Crypto-backed mortgages still raise red flags, says B.C. regulator

B.C.’s mortgage regulator continues to sound warnings about anyone considering purchasing a home with cryptocurrency.

The BC Financial Services Authority says there is nothing prohibiting buyers from using such unregulated digital currencies, however there are limited protections and persisting unknown risks in doing so.

The concept garnered significant media attention in December when Toronto-based lender Ledn announced a $70-million investment for building a Bitcoin-backed mortgage product.

“This mortgage will enable Ledn clients to use their Bitcoin holdings to purchase a property while continuing to benefit from potential price appreciation of both assets,” the company wrote.

A client wishing to take out a Bitcoin mortgage needs to own as much Bitcoin equivalent to the property value or purchase price. The company will issue a loan equal to 50% of the combined value of both assets…read more.

Quebec to force unvaccinated to pay ‘significant’ financial penalty

Quebec has become the first province in Canada to announce a financial penalty for residents who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Adult Quebecers who won’t get vaccinated and don’t have a medical exemption will be forced to pay a health “contribution,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault told reporters on Tuesday. Legault said the amount of the penalty hasn’t been decided but will be “significant.”

About 10 per cent of adult Quebecers aren’t vaccinated, but they represent about half of all patients in intensive care, Legault said, adding that the unvaccinated should be forced to pay for the extra burden they are placing on the health-care system.

“I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90 per cent of the population who made some sacrifices,” Legault said. “I think we owe them this kind of measure.”

The government last week announced it would expand the vaccine passport system by requiring proof of vaccination to enter liquor and cannabis stores. Health Minister Christian Dube has said he was mulling extending the passport further, to shopping malls and personal care salons…read more.

Xi’an Authorities Block All “Negative” Posts On Social Media As Lockdown Backlash Grows

As Beijing struggles with the worsening outbreak in Xi’an, the provincial capital of 13M that has been under lockdown for about 2 weeks now, authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to paper over the popular outcry. So, authorities in the northern Chinese city have banned “negative news” on social media as many residents took to Weibo and other platforms to complain about their present circumstances.

The citywide lockdown, believed to be the most brutal since the original Spring 2020 lockdown in Wuhan, has left many stranded at home without enough food, and without access to medical treatment. Unfortunately, they’ll need to keep their complaints private if they want to avoid angering the powers that be.

“From Jan. 4, people are banned from posting details of the pandemic restrictions or information about the road situation, videos, links, mini-apps or photos of the situation, particularly negative news,” the municipal government said in a mass text message to the city’s 13M residents. “There is background surveillance operating on all WeChat groups, and any negative news will be deleted as soon as it is sent,” the message said. “Please bear this in mind and pass the message on.”

Radio Free Asia reports that the message was triggered by a wave of public dissatisfaction and online complaints as people have been prevented from leaving their homes to buy groceries and basic necessities.

Just like in Wuhan, many have been turned away from hospitals for medical treatment because they come from high or medium-risk areas.

Instead of allowing complaints to fill up social media platforms, the local government in Xi’an is running a high-profile propaganda campaign to remind people of the efforts underway to bring shipments of fresh food to beleaguered residents…read more.

Joe Rogan’s sold out Vancouver show rescheduled due to vaccine mandates

Joe Rogan’s sold out Vancouver show, scheduled for April 20, has been canceled after the podcast host said he likely would be unable to enter Canada from the U.S., where he lives, because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a Dec. 24 episode of his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Rogan told his guest, comedian Tim Dillon, that Rogan’s springtime show in Vancouver was likely to be canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions in British Columbia. The Canadian province requires proof of vaccination to gain entry into some indoor businesses and event spaces, including Rogers Arena, where Rogan’s show was set to take place.

“I should probably say this because I haven’t yet. My 4/20 show that’s sold out in Vancouver — I don’t think that’s happening,” Rogan said. “I don’t think I can even get into the country. I’m not vaccinated. I’m not gonna get vaccinated. I have antibodies, it doesn’t make any sense.”…read more.

Germany: Thousands protest against COVID measures

Towns across eastern Germany saw the largest turnouts in protests against a planned vaccine mandate and new restrictions. At least 10 police officers have reportedly been injured in riots in Saxony.

Thousands of people demonstrated on Monday against coronavirus restrictions in Germany.

The protests came in response to new restrictions on private gatherings and a ban on spectators at public events ahead of New Year celebrations. The German parliament also approved a vaccine mandate for medical staff earlier this month.

In recent weeks, demonstrations against COVID measures have flared up across Germany — and often turned violent, with police officers injured and protesters arrested.

Eastern states see most protests
Police in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania reported that a total of 15,000 protesters took to the streets in various towns.

According to police in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, around nine criminal charges involving resisting arrest, inflicting bodily harm, damage to property and the use of symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations were handed out to protesters…read more.