The young have sacrificed much during the pandemic with little to show

Young Canadians have been blamed for being irresponsible during the pandemic for going to parties and bars. But there’s more hype than truth to these accusations. The deadly virus has been spread by people of all walks of life.

BLM demonstration Kamloops. Image: CFJC Today

Young people are sacrificing the opportunities of a lifetime. This is a time to build professional networks for future careers. Relationships have been delayed at a time that they are looking for lifetime partners. Families are being put off for better times.

As an older person, the sacrifices I make are minimal –stay home and watch Netflix. Sure, I miss going to shows, bars and restaurants but these can hardly be characterized as sacrifices compared to what young people endure.

Government response has been geared to protecting the assets of older people, particularly wealthy old people. When stocks crashed in the self-induced pandemic recession, central banks pumped money into markets to preserve share worth and property values.

Economic relief is geared toward protecting the wealth and income of the top 10 per cent in society -those with homes, accumulated wealth and a defined-benefit pension- not for young people.

Young people have been hard hit with job losses and increased exposure to the virus. They’re more likely to live in shared accommodation and work in jobs that require a high degree of face-to-face contact. They are more likely to rely on public transit. And when they work in office buildings, it’s in relatively cramped conditions.

But what is clear is that if governments are determined to “return to normal,” the bulk of new infections will likely occur among young people for the simple reason that they inevitably engage in more social interaction than older people.

Despite receiving an unfair share of the blame for spreading COVID-19, young people have received little credit for leading protests against injustice.

Many young people are deeply idealistic, calling for such things as democracy, racial equality, climate action, human rights and justice in policing.

In Kamloops last summer, young people organized a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. They called it BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) to reflect the overall injustice of racism.

The Tiny House Warriors in Kamloops, led by Indigenous youth, have protested the building of the Trans Mountain pipeline on unceded Secwepemc Territory.

The Idle No More movement, founded in 2012 by Indigenous youth, was in reaction to the Harper government’s removal of protections for forests and waterways in Bill C-45.

“Let’s be brutally frank here,” says John Rapley, political economist at the University of Cambridge, “As a disproportionate number of elderly people died, young people might actually face improved economic prospects.”

Young people have the most to gain when this pandemic sweeps the globe. Older people are more likely to die from COVID-19, which could improve the economic prospects of the young; fewer people drawing from pension plans, more houses on the market which would drop the price.

Young people have borne, and continue to bear, the brunt of isolated social interactions. They lead movements against racism, brutality and colonialism with little appreciation for their efforts.

Russian COVID misinformation part of pre-election strategy

Just as in the last U.S. presidential election, the Russians are stirring up the electorate in advance of November’s presidential election.

image: Dictionary.com

It’s all part Prime Minister Putin’s plan to unhinge the U.S.; to sow as much unrest, division, discontent, misinformation, mayhem, and civil disorder as possible in hopes that the U.S. will fall apart under the weight of the chaos.

The Russians couldn’t hope for a better ally than the Disrupter-in-Chief President Trump.

Before Trump was elected, the notion of a U.S. president cooperating with the Russians seemed so improbable that it would have only occurred in the movies.

Such a movie was The Manchurian Candidate. In the movie, an American sergeant is captured during the Korean War of 1952 and taken to Manchuria where he is brainwashed and unconsciously controlled by the Russians on his return to the U.S.  The sergeant’s mother, a Russian agent, tries to have him installed as president so that that Russians can control the American government.

It would take the wildest conspiracy to suggest that the Russians have brainwashed Trump but his actions are very much aligned with the Russians. Both Trump and the Russians take to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread division.

I have no doubt that the Russians stir up far-right groups like the Boogaloo Bois, characterized by their Hawaiian shirts and a philosophy that predicts an impending race war called the “boogaloo.” They would be comical if they didn’t carry assault weapons and spew hate.

Then there is the ideologically-twisted antifa movement which is lauded and reviled; lauded because they are anti-fascist but reviled because they are blindly driven by the same violence they abhor in fascists.

The antifa movement has a zombie-like control of otherwise rational people. In New York in late May, two young lawyers were charged in connection with a Molotov cocktail attack on a vandalized police car. They had recently participated in a Zoom solidarity meeting with antifa extremists.

The current pandemic provides an opportunity for the Russians to fuel the spread of conspiracies, hoaxes, myths and fake cures that undermine public-health efforts to control COVID-19.

The apparent Manchurian Candidate Donald Trump recently re-tweeted a video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure. Russian intelligence is behind the spread of disinformation about the drug.

Another one that has Russian fingerprints all over it is the hoax that claims new 5G towers are spreading the virus through microwaves. Yet another is that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in all seven billion humans on the planet.

Social media amplify these false claims and helps believers find each other. The flood of misinformation has posed a challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, which find themselves in a game of whack-a-mole. As soon as one fake site is wacked down, another pops up.

It’s no coincidence that the three worst months for hate crime are around election time. Those months also see a rise in violent extremist plots and fatal attacks.

Look for more hate and misinformation to spew forth as the election draws near. We may be able to contain the spread of Cov2 by closing our border with the U.S. but we can’t stop the spread of lies, many originating from Russia.

 

Coronavirus gives the virus family a bad name

Most viruses are benign and some are even lifesaving. Only a few cause panic and fear.

Bacteriophage, Image from Bacteriophage.news

We are literally immersed in viruses. A UBC professor has discovered that billions of them rain down on us daily. Curtis Suttle, co-author of the study found their source. He was initially puzzled as to why the same viruses are found everywhere on Earth.

“We found the same viruses pretty much everywhere in the planet,” Suttle told CBC radio’s Quirks & Quarks. “We would find the same viruses in a meltwater pond in the Arctic Ocean, or in the Gulf of Mexico, or in a lake in Germany. It was puzzling to use because we wouldn’t expect the same host organisms to exist in all those different environments (December 28, 2018).”

He found that the viruses are swept up from deserts and oceans and carried aloft to altitudes of 3,000 metres where they cross continents and rain down upon the earth in a microbial deluge, largely unseen and unnoticed by humans.

Suttle and his colleagues found that more than 800 million viruses per square metre are deposited into the atmosphere every day. Before his study was released, it was thought that this area of the atmosphere was pristine.

If you like to swim in the ocean, as I do, you might find the following a little unsettling. The average concentration of viruses in seawater is billions in every millilitre of water. “So for every time you go swimming, just for the water you take into your mouth, you swallow more viruses than there are people in North America,” said Suttle.

But be assured that the billions of viruses are doing good work there. They kill 40 per cent of the oceans bacteria daily. Yes, almost one-half of the bacteria are eliminated which controls their population and keeps the Earth’s oxygen from being depleted.

And the viruses you breathe in kill some of the bacteria that you also inhale.

This ability of viruses to kill bacteria is a lifesaver for people who have become resistant to antibiotics. The viruses are called bacteriophages, or phages for short.

The number of patients who are multidrug-resistant (MDR) is growing as infections become resistant to antibiotics. MDR infections are rapidly growing into public health nightmare. At least 700,000 people die annually and the United Nations predict that the numbers could rise to 10 million by 2050 (Scientific American, November, 2019).

Where antibiotics also kill useful bacteria in a shotgun approach, phages target specific bacteria. They attach to the cell wall of the bacteria and insert their genetic material into the cell through a syringe-like appendage. The phage then highjacks the bacteria’s reproductive machinery and making multiple copies of itself, ripping the bacteria apart.

The bacteria-fighting properties of phages have been known since 1910 where they reportedly reduced wartime mortality from gangrene. But after antibiotics became the drug of choice, investigation of phages waned.

Don’t go to your doctor looking for phage medications. Lack of research has limited their use but as the number of MDR cases rises, research will accelerate.

So, don’t tar all viruses with the Coronavirus brush. Their life-saving applications will almost certainly grow, saving more lives than they kill.