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Weekly round-up: Trudeau big mad. Truckers fight back. China tortures athletes. Russia calls out US

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

2/4 - 2/11

With so much happening around the world, here are some stories and developments you may have missed:

Biggest developments

Ontario declares state of emergency. Police seize firewood and food. GoFundMe freezes $10m for Canadian trucker convoy - again.

What you need to know:

  • Police chief and Ottawa officials worked with GoFundMe to freeze $9 million in trucker funding

  • GoFundMe froze Freedom Convoy campaign. Said it would send funds to “organizers and verified by GoFundMe.” Backtracked on this after backlash. Issued refunds instead.

  • Ontario Superior Court granted a 10-day injunction restricting truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from honking their horns.

  • Ottawa police announce they will arrest people who bring convoy demonstrators materials - namely fuel.

  • Mayor of Ottawa declares state of emergency

  • Ontario government moves to have courts freeze convoy funding - again. They succeed. Funding is frozen until further notice.

  • GiveSendGo, the new convoy fundraising platform, said that it would not comply. It is not subject to Canada’s laws.

  • Ontario Premier announced a state of emergency too. Also announced an end to almost all COVID restrictions.

The story so far...

Canadian officials continue to crackdown on the Freedom convoy. Chief of Police, Peter Sloly, said in a video that the government aimed to shut down the convoy.

“​​We have, through the efforts of deputy Bell, the mayor and his staff, have been able to shut down the GoFundMe program. That’s a temporary reprieve because the funds are already moving in different directions. We are now going after supplies and fuel coming into the area through investigations and intelligence operations.”

This comes after news broke that GoFundMe had canceled the Freedom Convoy’s fundraiser, saying that the platform had “evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.”

In the same statement GoFundMe detailed their plans for funds redistribution, “we will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities chosen by the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers and verified by GoFundMe.”

On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean granted a 10-day injunction restricting truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from constantly honking their horns. Grounds for the injunction cite “bodily harm” - such as “permanent hearing damage” and “serious discomfort and inconvenience.”

The judge said that while the participants have a right to protest, taking their horns away would not rob them of that right.

These developments came after police announced that anyone bringing supplies to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest - namely fuel and gasoline to power the trucks. Police raided several areas where demonstrators were camped out, taking supplies such as warm clothing, food and jerry-cans of fuel.

Demonstrators were undeterred. The following days, they brought more supplies and fuel, in addition to rebuilding their camps.

On Tuesday, Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson declared a state of emergency. On February 11, an order was issued by the courts to freeze all convoy funds until further notice. This move was pushed forward by Ontario’s Ford government.

According to a statement: "Today, the Attorney General brought an application in the Superior Court of Justice for an order pursuant to section 490.8 of the Criminal Code prohibiting any person from disposing of, or otherwise dealing with, in any manner whatsoever, any and all monetary donations made through the Freedom Convoy 2022 and Adopt-a-Trucker campaign pages on the GiveSendGo online fundraising platform.”

In response, GiveSendGo, the platform used to raise convoy funding, said that it will ignore the order by the Ontario Superior Court to freeze the crowdfund. In a tweet the platform said: “know this! Canada has absolutely ZERO jurisdiction over how we manage our funds here at GiveSendGo. All funds for EVERY campaign on GiveSendGo flow directly to the recipients of those campaigns, not least of which is The Freedom Convoy campaign.”

On Friday February 12, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the convoy protest was a “siege” and an “illegal occupation”. He announced a state of emergency, but in a bizarre turn of events, also announced that the province of Ontario is now prime to remove “almost all” restrictions.

At the same time, a bumper-to-bumper demonstration has entered its fifth day. Truckers have loaded up the Ambassador bridge, an area that connects Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan. The protest has caused an enormous blockage between Canada and the United States.

Michigan’s Gov Gretchen Whitmer called the event an “illegal blockade.” She also said that people have the right to protest, but they don’t have the right to illegally block “the largest land-border crossing in North America” and cause “hundreds of millions of dollars" a day to be lost.

Joe Rogan controversy continues…

What you need to know:

  • Rogan apologized in second video addressing a supercut of him saying “n-word”

  • Video platform Rumble offers Rogan $100 million to host his podcast on their site

  • Jon Stewart and UFC fighter Israel Adesanya defend Rogan

  • Rogan takes aim at CNN on his own show - trashes hosts Don Lemon and Brian Stelter

The story so far...

A compilation video surfaced showing Joe Rogan using the n-word over two dozen times while hosting his popular podcast. Rogan responded to the clip in an Instagram video on Sunday calling it “the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.”

“I know that to most people, there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now. I haven’t said it in years… Instead of saying ‘the N-word,’ I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”

The controversy quickly became #1 trending on Twitter. Vocal critics called on Spotify to remove Rogan from the platform. Others defended him, such as Ben Shapiro, who said that people targeting Rogan don’t actually care about things he has said in the past.

“This is all just an opportunity for activists to destroy a guy who doesn't carry water for those with institutional power, and whose audience dwarfs their own. It is that simple.”

According to JREMissing, a website that tracks the Rogan’s podcast, Spotify pulled more than 100 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience. The majority of these were recorded before his recent COVID “misinformation” controversy. The missing episodes feature popular right-wing and conservative figures such as Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, Michael Malice, Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos, as well as comedians like Rich Vos, Little Esther, and Duncan Trussell.

In light of the controversy, Spotify competitor Rumble offered Rogan $100 million to host his podcast on their platform. CEO Chris Pavlovski said in a letter posted to Twitter, "we stand with you, your guests and your legion of fans in desire for real conversation. So we'd like to offer you 100 million reasons to make the world a better place. How about you bring all your shows to Rumble, both old and new, with no censorship, for 100 million bucks over four years? This is our chance to save the world. And yes, this is totally legit."

This offer comes after Spotify CEO condemned Rogan’s comment and inferred that the decision to remove past episodes from the site was his own.

In a memo obtained by Axios, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek commented on the situation. He said that although he strongly condemns what Joe has said and he agrees with his decision to remove past episodes from their platform, he realizes some people will want more.

“I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer." We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but cancelling voices is a slippery slope.”

On Friday February 11, outlets reported that UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya responded to a question about the Rogan controversy.

Adesanya responded: “F--- cancel culture. Joe Rogan is the man. We all know what they’re doing to him. He’s the biggest voice in media, and they don’t like the fact they can’t control him. So f--- cancel culture.”

Rogan has also seen support from Jon Stewart, who asked on his Thursday podcast, The Problem with Jon Stewart, “who gets to decide what is misinformation?”

In his own most recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan took aim and CNN and its anchors, telling them to “f*cking change your model" and report "objective news.”

"Stop this editorial perspective with guys like Brian Stelter and Don Lemon that nobody listens to. Nobody is, like, chiming in saying, 'oh, yeah, finally we get the voice of reason.' Nobody thinks that. Have people that give out effective news, objective news, rather, and I’ll support you," he said.


Winter Olympics: views are down and athletes are trapped in COVID hell

What you need to know

  • Viewership numbers are down

  • Athletes complain of awful treatment, including hotel isolation, testing, terrible food and confusing procedures around being allowed to leave

  • Several athletes have publicly commented how unhappy they are. Made videos discussing their treatment

The story so far...

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is off to a rocky start. Viewership numbers show a huge drop-off from previous years.

NBC, who owns the broadcasting rights for the games until 2032, reported a measly 8.7 million viewers for the opening ceremonies. Across all NBC platforms total viewership is down 52%, 51% and 47% respectively from the comparable night in Pyeongchang, South Korea four years ago. The network says that is a first for the Winter Games, although it is largely attributable to the diminished prime-time audience for this year’s Opening Ceremony.

But it isn’t just the viewership that’s down. Athletes are unhappy about “unreasonable” quarantine conditions at the games. They are concerned about the food, their mental health, testing and confusing procedures around being allowed to leave.

Polish short track speed skater, Natalia Maliszewska, 26, described her hellish experience with hotel isolation, being “ruled in and out” of the games due to conflicting COVID-19 test results, and a 3am visit from presumably Winter Games employees wearing cameras on their belts.

"I was sitting in the ambulance. It was 3am. I was crying like crazy because I didn't know what was going on. I did not feel safe at all," she told Reuters.

Russian biathlon competitor, Valeria Vasnetsova, posted on Instagram from one of the quarantine hotels a picture of what she said was “breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already” — a tray with food including plain pasta, an orange sauce, charred meat on a bone, a few potatoes and no greens.

“My stomach hurts, I’m very pale and I have huge black circles around my eyes. I want all this to end. I cry every day. I’m very tired,”

She said she mostly survived on a few pieces of pasta because it was “impossible” to eat the rest.

After Eric Frenzel, a three-time gold medallist in Nordic combined, tested positive, German delegation head Dirk Schimmelpfennig criticized the “unreasonable” living conditions. Germany wants larger, more hygienic rooms, and more regular food deliveries so athletes who are eventually released are still fit to compete, Schimmelpfennig said in comments reported by the FAZ newspaper.

New Zealand launches anti-mandate trucker convoy

New Zealanders launched their own trucker convoy. Hundreds of people protesting vaccine and mask mandates drove to New Zealand's capital Wellington on Tuesday and converged outside old Parliament house as lawmakers reconvened after a summer break. The convoy, mimicking the Freedom Convoy in Canada, started at 6:30am on Sunday and Monday and reached Wellington on Tuesday morning. One of the convoy’s organizers Jerome Smith-Pula spoke to DTNZ about their goals and motivation for the protest.

“The protest ‘has nothing to do with vaccines, nor is it anti-vax. This is a spiritual battle’, for the soul of New Zealand”, he said. The focus of the protest is set out in its Mission Statement, which contains five points:

  • Stop all mandates and end all COVID-19 imposed restrictions

  • Reverse COVID-19 introduced legislation and cease all proposed legislation.

  • The immediate restoration of inalienable human rights.

  • Medical professionals to follow the principles in the NZMA Code of Ethics.

  • All media to have freedom without censorship.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not meet with the protestors as she delivered a speech to lawmakers outlining her priorities for the year. Ardern last week said the country would end its quarantine requirements for incoming travellers in stages as it reopened its borders. With about 77% of New Zealanders fully vaccinated, Ardern has also promised she won't impose more lockdowns. Several reports indicate things got ugly between protesters and police. By Friday, protesters had been gathered outside Parliament for a fourth day. In an effort to force citizens to move on, the sprinklers outside Parliament were turned out.

Speaker of Parliament, Trevor Mallard, said in a statement: “No-one who is here is here legally, and if they’re getting wet from below as well as above, they’re likely to be a little bit less comfortable and more likely to go home.”

“Some people have suggested we add the vaccine in the water, but I don’t think it works that way,” he added.

Blue states across the U.S. are dropping mask mandates and other restrictions

Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, California and other states have recently announced an end date for mask requirements.

  • Nevada has ended its mask mandate in public places because of a decline in cases and declining hospitalizations.

  • New York will end its indoor mask mandate and the requirement that businesses ask customers for proof of vaccination.

  • Illinois Gov is looking to lift the state's mask mandate for indoor settings, with some exceptions, by the end of February.

  • Rhode Island ended its mask mandate and vaccine pass policy for businesses and venues on Friday, February 11. The state's governor plans to end the statewide school indoor mask mandate on March 4.

  • New Jersey will begin winding back its school mask mandates.

  • California has announced it will end its indoor mask mandate starting February 15.

  • Delaware ended its mask mandate for indoors on Friday February 11. Mask requirements for schools and childcare facilities will end on March 31.

According to a New York Times article published on February 10, there are several reasons for the drop in COVID restrictions in blue areas. These include, but are not limited to, fear, bad polling and concern over the mid-term elections.

Russia-Ukraine conflict continues. America stoking the fire?

What you need to know:

  • U.S. military intelligence says Russia is going to run "major nuclear weapons exercise" as warning to NATO to stay out of Russia/Ukraine conflict

  • Pentagon reported it has evidence of a Russian plan to stage a false flag attack on its own country to justify war with Ukraine

  • Russia calls U.S. reports relating to conflict "madness", "scaremongering" and "hysteria"

  • Biden admin promises Russia-to-Germany pipeline will be cancelled if Russia invades Ukraine

  • Several countries, including the U.S., tell citizens to leave Kyiv in the next 48 hours

The story so far...

U.S. military and intelligence officials believe Russia is set to run a major nuclear weapons exercise in the coming weeks as a warning to NATO not to intervene if Russia invades Ukraine.

Officials allegedly said that Putin was planning to begin the exercises in mid-February. In addition, the Pentagon said on Thursday it had evidence of a plan by Moscow to film a fake Ukrainian attack on Russians to justify a real assault on its pro-West neighbor.

“We do have information that the Russians are likely to want to fabricate a pretext for an invasion,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. When pressed to provide evidence for this false flag operation by AP reporter Matt Lee, State Department spokesperson Ned Price was seemingly unable to provide it.

Despite warnings, Moscow has denied the alleged plans, although it has not withdrawn its troops from the Ukrainian border. Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy called this report “madness and scaremongering.”

President Joe Biden met with Germany’s new leader Monday and vowed the crucial Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline will be blocked if Russia further invades Ukraine. Russia’s Vladimir Putin retorted that the U.S. and its allies are the only ones talking invasion.

On Friday February 12, Israel began evacuating relatives of embassy staff in Ukraine. Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands also advised citizens to leave the country. The United States is also set to evacuate the embassy in Kyiv, telling Americans to leave within the next 48 hours.

The White House said that an attack on Ukraine could happen any day. It also noted that Putin has assembled all elements to invade Ukraine quickly. In addition, another 3,000 troops have been deployed to Poland.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that U.S. officials have not determined whether Putin has made a decision to launch an invasion, but there is a "credible prospect" that a military action could occur before Feb. 20.

Russia says this is U.S. “hysteria.”

Pop Culture
More sexual assaults over at CNN
  • Don Lemon WILL face a jury trial in sexual assault case!

CNN anchor Don Lemon will face a jury trial in a lawsuit from a bartender who claims Lemon sexually and verbally assaulted him. Dustin Hice, Lemon's accuser, is reportedly seeking $1.5 million.

The ruling was opposed by Lemon’s lawyers, who wanted a bench trial with no jury present. The lawsuit filed against Lemon claims he approached Hice at Murf's Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor, Long Island. Lemon allegedly “put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers into Hice’s mustache.”

Lemon denies the allegations. He accuses the man of attempting to extort him in the past. A rep for CNN previously said “the plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts.”

Scientists find putting panty-hose on your mask makes you safer

(Please bear in mind someone funded this “study”...)

Findings from a 2020 peer-reviewed University of Cambridge study were released this week in the journal PLoS ONE. The findings? A pair of “hosiery” is the best way to make masks seal better around the face.

Researchers suggested that a better seal around a mask means greater protection from COVID-19. They tested seven different “hacks” in an attempt to find the best way to seal all gaps in regular masks. These included taping the mask to a person’s face, filling the sides with gauze and binding the mask with gauze.

While participants found it the most uncomfortable to wear pantyhose on their face, it was the most effective at adhering a mask without gaps.

It's rough out there

Inflation skyrockets to 7.5% - the highest rate in 40 YEARS

America’s inflation hits 7.5% percent - with some noting, if this is the number they’re telling us… how much higher is it ACTUALLY? The Labor Department reported the January consumer price index on Thursday showing an annual inflation rate of 7.5%. This increase marks the biggest gain since 1982 and is higher than experts predicted. Core inflation also rose 6% which was also above expectations. Real earnings for workers increased only 0.1% on the month when accounting for inflation.

Weekly jobless claims declined to 223,000, below the 230,000 estimate. The consumer price surge indicates a worsening outlook for inflation in 2022 and a likelihood of substantial interest rate hikes this year.

Majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck as we enter year 3 of the pandemic

Seven in 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck a new study by OnePoll has reported.

A survey of 2,007 adults found that it’s getting increasingly harder for people to save any of their money. This information comes as inflation hits a 40 year high. Despite this, the Biden admin has tried to reiterate that it has created jobs over the last months. However, if this poll is anything to go by, after two years of the pandemic, this doesn’t look good for a recovering economy.

Many of these stories are still developing. Stay tuned for more information.

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