In Canada, Free For All , ‘Relief , Covid Money Refuelling Opioid Crisis.’

If you have not heard it all, this may fill the bill . The Covid crisis helps increase Opioid Use ——-Government Bungling —-

From Penticton Herald

Relief money refuelling opioid crisis

JOE FRIES

Fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief payments have been creating chaos on the margins of society, says those who live and work there.

While waiting for the Soupateria to open Thursday, a man – whom The Herald agreed not to name because he’s describing illegal activity – confirmed people like him who normally don’t have a penny to their name are suddenly living large.

“Lots of dope in this town,” said the man, who also described an increase in drinking and violence associated with the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

But aside from “a little legal weed,” said the man, who collects income assistance and describes himself as a street artist, he and his partner spent most of their CERB money on bikes, trailers and camping equipment they can use to wait out the pandemic in the bush away from society.

“We pretty much got ourselves set up for the summer,” he said.

Penticton RCMP spokesman Const. James Grandy said he’s heard anecdotal reports of criminality related to CERB payments, but was unable to provide any specifics.

The CERB program, which is meant to help workers who’ve been harmed financially by COVID-19, can be claimed for a maximum of four months. Applications are handled online with a simple attestation being all a person requires to sign up.

But while well-intentioned, the money has inadvertently refuelled the pre-existing opioid drug crisis, says the operator of the Burdock House and Fairhaven social housing projects in Penticton.

“In some buildings, we’ve seen double-overdoses in a day with the same person,” said Bob Hughes, executive director of ASK Wellness.

“And what we’re hearing is it’s not necessarily a different drug – these people have been using fentanyl in different potencies for years – the issue is they just have vast amounts of money.”

New data released by the BC Coroners Service this week showed there were 117 drug-related deaths in April 2020, up 39% from April 2019, although the report didn’t speculate on the reasons for the increase.

Social housing – including the 600 publicly funded beds operated by ASK Wellness in Penticton, Kamloops and Merritt – is by its nature intended for people on income assistance who are trying to get back on their feet and don’t, or can’t, work.

Staff at the facilities are there to assist residents with things like government paperwork, but Hughes said his workers have been instructed not to touch CERB applications due to the potential for fraud.

“We were clear right off the bat,” said Hughes.

He also made clear, though, that he’s not judging those who are bending the rules to cash in on Ottawa’s largesse.

“It’s a strange way to put it, but there’s a bit of irony to this: Many of these people have lived in destitute poverty – we only two years ago saw income assistance rates go from $610 a month to $700 a month – so this is like winning the lottery,” said Hughes.

“We’ve seen some people buying new furniture for their homes, we’ve seen people open bank accounts and try to get out of years of poverty, and that’s something we can hope that they can sustain and it’s a step out of the boiling pot of poverty and trauma.

“But what we also see is people with such severe addictions that have no ability to emotionally regulate or behaviourally regulate (receiving) what for them is a vast sum of money.”

Hughes is so concerned he’s written to three provincial ministers and the federal minister of national revenue to highlight the issue.

“We just want to see the province and federal government actually communicate with one another around the implementation and delivery of these funds,” he explained.

“The way that the CERB was set up, it didn’t ask a fundamental question: Are you currently receiving income assistance benefits from a province or territory?”

MP Dan Albas, who has been critical of the lack of the checks and balances on CERB money, believes it’s unlikely the federal government will be able to recoup all fraudulent payments when it starts auditing the program next year.

“As we all know, you can’t take blood from a stone,” Albas, a Conservative who represents Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Albas also noted some provinces, not including B.C., have begun addressing the problem by clawing back income assistance payments. At the same time, though, the Canada Revenue Agency, which administers CERB money, has been instructed to simply shovel out the cash and figure out what to do with fraudsters later.

“That’s the multi-million-dollar question: People that are already in extreme cases, will they have the income to pay this back?” said Albas.

The answer is yes, according to the CRA.

“As with other benefits administered by the CRA, we will undertake verification activities. The CRA has records of who received the CERB and for what period. These will be used, along with tax slips received from employers and other relevant information available to the CRA, to validate eligibility next tax filing season,” the agency said in a statement Thursday.

“Any payments found to have been made to an individual deemed ineligible will need to be returned. In cases where claimants are found to be ineligible, they will be contacted to make arrangements to repay any applicable amounts. These amounts do not carry any penalties or interest but must be paid back.”

Hughes suspects the only way for Ottawa to claw back ill-gotten CERB money from marginalized people will be via their quarterly GST rebate cheques or pensions, which would only add to their misery – and that’s if the CRA can even find them.

In the meantime, there’s little those in the social services sector can do but wait for the wave of aid money to recede.

“I know doctors’ wives that have apparently applied for (CERB) and received the money, so fraud is inherent with this thing,” said Hughes, “but the impact to this (marginalized) population is compromising their safety and well-being, and it’s making our job that much more difficult.”

The Dishonest Media

The Dishonest Media

Today I took particular notice of CBC radio since I was bike riding and had a radio with me.

The two o’clock national news.

It said in essence : Donald Trump in his press conference did not cast his anger at the killed black man in Minneapolis but at China and Honk Kong .

Of course , CBC did not say that that is why the Press Conference was called in the first place as a follow up to Secretary Of State’s Statement of yesterday on this issue. No, the news story made it seem that Trump was just venting some anger in another direction.

It was a very important announcement because it disclosed that the US was leaving the World Health Organization permanently , that given China’s treatment of Hong Kong with the new Security law and how China dominates that World Heath Organization that the US would no longer participate. Equally, the President announced that the special treatment afforded Hong Kong under US law would no longer be maintained. That special treatment was afforded under a Congressional Act called the Hong Kong Policy Act. Once again this Act was not mentioned which would have given context to this new policy change .

Of course, it was not mentioned that the President had already taken action on the Minneapolis incident by ordering his DOJ and FBI to get involved.

Additionally, no mention was made that in passing the new security law China was violating an international treaty that was filed with the UN called the Sino British Joint Declaration.

In like manner numerous news organizations the day before failed to mention that Secretary OF State Pompeo’s statement was made to Congress because of a requirement of the Hong Kong Policy Act. By failing to do so the Press were leaving the impression that this was a unilateral act of the Secretary and his boss the President .

It is impossible today to get fair and balanced news as these incidents show. Who knew of the Sino British Declaration and that it was filed as a treaty with the UN ? Who knew of the Hong Kong Policy Act of Congress?

The press are suppose to inform the public in carrying these stories.

They did not and hence the pubic was not accurately informed.

Vancouver Island And The Pandemic

Vancouver Island And The Pandemic

The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
― George Orwell

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
― George Orwell

You have heard the phrase —one size fits all is wrong?

Well , take Vancouver Island and the Wuhan Virus.

How about a total of 127 cases and 121 recovered —95% recovery

No new cases.

None in ICU .

One in hospital .

Total hospitalized since the beginning—-25.

Total deaths —5.

All this according to the BC Center For Disease Control.

Population of the Island is 800,000 according to 2106 census. Likely over 850,000 now.

Area 31,000 sq. km. The Province of Prince Edward Island is 5600 sq. km.

I visited a restaurant today —-only take out —because could only have 50% in restaurant . Owner just can’t do it on that —full staff , 50% maximum clients. And staff difficult to get now because Government support is better.

Playgrounds silent , including the spark of children playgrounds. No baseball, outdoor basketball, lacrosse, beech volleyball.

Nearby larger city the Costco there suddenly this last few days has been recommending masks . No masks recommended when there was a real risk in March .

Many stores , banks , pharmacies have long line ups —-meanwhile Walmart , some liquor stores no line ups ———-haven’t seen any at the Government run Cannabis Store either .

I met an elderly ( like myself) lady walking the beech thoroughfare today ( thank God that is open) who ‘whispered’ to me —-‘this is gone too far. ‘ Then she looked around , nervously, to make sure no one heard her whisper.

Vacated commercial spaces crawling the streets.

Masks have suddenly appeared outside . There is no science to indicate masks are needed at all outside.

To those who trust the World Health Organization this is what is on their website today :

‘Currently there is not enough evidence for or against the use of masks (medical or other) for healthy individuals in the wider community. WHO continues to recommend that medical masks be worn by individuals who are sick or those caring for them. WHO is actively studying the rapidly evolving science on masks and continuously updates its guidance.’

Fear is a great corrosive force . It diminishes , reduces , strips our vitality—-

Common sense has vacated the marketplace .

Wordsworth : ‘The Still Sad Music Of Humanity.’

US Begins New Policy On Hong Kong/China

Here is a Press Statement by the Secretary Of State Pompeo yesterday concerning the US Government’s reaction to China’s New Security Law Governing Hong Kong . This is significant and has obvious serious repercussions for International Relations in that part of the world and affecting world trade . There is indications this evening that the President will be addressing and elaborating on this new policy tomorrow.

‘P.R.C. National People’s Congress Proposal on Hong Kong National Security Legislation

PRESS STATEMENT

MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE

MAY 27, 2020

Last week, the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) National People’s Congress announced its intention to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong. Beijing’s disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty.

The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997. No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.

Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.

The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong as they struggle against the CCP’s increasing denial of the autonomy that they were promised.

Our dangerous addiction to prediction

Our dangerous addiction to prediction

When it comes to forecasting, what we need more than anything is humility

BY STUART RITCHIE

Stuart Ritchie is a psychologist and a Lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London

May 27, 2020

In Alex Garland’s recent sci-fi TV series Devs, Silicon Valley engineers have built a quantum computer that they think proves determinism. It allows them to know the position of all the particles in the universe at any given point, and from there, project backwards and forwards in time, seeing into the past and making pinpoint-accurate forecasts about the future.

Garland’s protagonist, Lily Chan, isn’t impressed. “They’re having a tech nerd’s wettest dream,” she says at one point. “The one that reduces everything to nothing — nothing but code”. To them, “everything is unpackable and packable; reverse-engineerable; predictable”.

It would be a spoiler to tell you how it all ends up, but Chan is hardly alone in criticising the sometimes-Messianic pronouncements of tech gurus. Indeed, her lines might as well have been written by the entrepreneur and business writer Margaret Heffernan, whose book Uncharted provides a robust critique of what she calls our “addiction to prediction”.

Our fervent desire to know and chart the future — and our exaggerated view of our ability to do so — forces us, she says, into a straitjacket whenever some authoritative-sounding source makes a prediction: the future’s laid out, we know what’ll happen — it’s been forecast. Only by kicking this habit, she argues, “do we stop being spectators and become creative participants in our own future”.

That’s something of a lofty goal, but as we’ll see, the consequences of misunderstanding predictions can be far more immediate. In pandemics, it can end up killing thousands of people.

Heffernan does get to pandemic disease in the latter part of her book, but before that, she provides some cautionary tales that are useful to readers way beyond her targeted “business book” audience. Take, for instance, the 2013 prediction by researchers at the Oxford Martin School that “by 2035, 35% of jobs will have been taken by machines”. As Heffernan notes, this was an impossibly specific quantity: exactly this number of years in the future, exactly this percentage of jobs will be done by robots. When you think about it, such specificity is absurd, but it didn’t half grab the media’s attention, playing on people’s quite reasonable fears about the coming age of automation. The resulting media discussion, Heffernan says, “projected inevitability onto what was no more than a hypothesis”.

There are subtler manifestations of the prediction addiction. In science, for example, researchers — and I include myself in this — often deploy the word “predict” in a way that doesn’t comport with its everyday usage. Variable X predicts variable Y, they say, even though both were measured at exactly the same time. What they mean is that, if you didn’t know anything about Y, you would have some information about it if you knew X. But this “prediction” can be very weak: usually just “a bit better than chance” rather than “with a strong degree of accuracy”. By the time this translates to the public, often via hyped press releases, it’s frequently been imbued with a great deal more certainty than is warranted by the data.

We can see why this is, of course: science should be about predicting the world, the better to help us change or improve it. But the sheer prevalence of the p-word, often used in weaselly ways to boost the perceived importance of one’s research findings, is evidence that Heffernan is on the right track. The incentives push scientists towards making pronouncements about predictions, even if that’s not what any normal person would call their results.

As well as sins of specificity, Heffernan also critiques an opposite tendency: towards over-generalising. Mere labels are surprisingly powerful: the so-called jingle fallacy is where we assume that two things are similar just because they have the same name (as opposed to the jangle fallacy, where two similar things are assumed to be different because they have different names). Heffernan argues that the British military committed this fallacy by over-generalising lessons they’d learned during the insurgency in Northern Ireland in their predictions about the course of the very different insurgency in Iraq.

But Heffernan overeggs things by stating baldly at one point that “the future is unknowable”. For sure, we’re rather far off the Devs quantum-computer level, but some degree of prediction is still possible — not to mention highly desirable (think about the prediction of devastating health complaints like heart-attacks, for example, or the prediction of oil prices as the world economy fluctuates).

Heffernan does seem to agree with this, because she gives advice on how to improve predictions without falling prey to the sort of faux-specific pseudoscience or misleading generalisations we’ve just encountered. Her formula is essentially the following: use humility. After all, it’s the over-certainty in our predictive abilities that’s the real problem she’s addressing. She specifically praises the approach taken by psychologist Philip Tetlock and his Good Judgement Project, where “superforecasters” make predictions in terms of probabilities that encourage them to consider uncertainty and, more importantly, allow them to be held to account, judging them for their accuracy with a so-called Brier score months or years after they make their forecast.

All of which brings us to a topic where the clamour for predictions is like nothing we’ve seen before: Covid-19. Heffernan’s book was written before the first glimmers of the epidemic, but nonetheless she comes out looking wise and, appropriately enough, makes some eerily good predictions. At one point she interviews the chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, which funds research into new vaccines. “[We] feel”, he told Heffernan, well before the end of 2019, “like the world has put us on notice that we have to deal with beta corona viruses… because they have pandemic potential.” Brrr.

Heffernan was also spot-on to praise the superforecasters, at least one of whom, Tom Liptay, has been able to out-predict a panel of 30 disease experts (that is, he has achieved better Brier scores) on the Covid-19 case and death numbers that are rolling in as the coronavirus sweeps through the US. Think about that for a second: if the US government had relied on this one superforecaster, instead of experts from Harvard and Johns Hopkins, they’d have had an overall better idea of how the virus would spread. It’s hard to say what the secret is, but his long experience of calibrating predictions and having them harshly tested against reality — in the way Heffernan recommends — can’t have hurt Liptay’s skills.

It could be argued that “prediction addiction” during the pandemic has cost us many thousands of lives. What else can we call the UK Government’s stated belief that there was a precise best time for the implementation of specific lockdown policies — a belief that caused it to delay the full lockdown to avoid public “fatigue,” thus allowing the coronavirus to run rampant for at least nine days — but an over-certain prediction?

The false certainty about our ability to predict something as complex as human behaviour — at least in a world that doesn’t contain science-fiction devices like the Devs machine — certainly now looks tragic. And writing as a psychology researcher, it seems even more drastically misconceived. It’s simply impossible to read the research that’s published in behavioural-science journals — generally small-scale, unrepresentative, and uncertain — and think that we’re in a place to say ‘science tells us that right now is the moment to advise against public gatherings, and in one week’s time, it’ll be right to do the same for workplaces…’ and so on.

Aggressive action appears to have been required, but the UK Government’s belief that it could accurately predict society’s response to an unknown and terrifying virus seems, at least in part, to have held them back from it. If Heffernan’s overall message of “embrace uncertainty” seems at all trite, one only needs to look at our current predicament to see how badly it was needed.

Ottawa spending 50% more per Canadian in 2020 than during the 2009 recession: $13,226 vs. $8,775

Fraser Institute

NEWS RELEASE

Ottawa spending 50% more per Canadian in 2020 than during the 2009 recession: $13,226 vs. $8,775

May 26, 2020
For Immediate Release

VANCOUVER—Federal government spending this year, which was already on track to be a new record high before the recession, is now expected to be 50.7 per cent more per Canadian than what Ottawa spent during the 2009 recession, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Prior to the economic shutdown in response to COVID-19, the federal government was planning to spend $9,306 per Canadian, the highest level ever in Canadian history,” said Jason Clemens, executive vice-president of the Fraser Institute.

The study, Prime Ministers and Government Spending, Updated 2020 Edition, tracks annual per person program spending (adjusted for inflation) by prime ministers since Confederation.

It concludes that total per person spending in 2020 will reach $13,226, including $3,920 per Canadian in COVID-related spending (as of April 24, 2020). This represents a 46.6 per cent increase over the previous highest spending level reached in 2019 of $9,041.

Again, to put 2020’s per-person spending of $13,226 in context, after adjusting for inflation, it is 50.7 per cent higher than per-person spending during the 2009 recession, and 74.5 per cent higher than the highest point of per-person spending during the Second World War.

Crucially, along with the record levels of spending, the federal government is also running large deficits and increasing debt.

Another new study released today, Deferring Federal Taxes: Illustrating the Deficit Using the GST, uses the goods and services tax to highlight how much tax the federal government was deferring in taxes before the recession.

To contextualize the size of the pre-recession deficit, consider that the federal GST (currently five per cent) would have to have been nine per cent to balance the budget.

“Because of the federal government’s lack of fiscal prudence recently, Ottawa’s finances were much worse than they should have been going into this recession,” Clemens said.

“The additional spending the government has announced in response to the recession and COVID will exacerbate that problem and means that Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook for today’s spending for decades to come.”

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jason Clemens, Executive Vice-President Fraser Institute
Tegan Hill, Economist Fraser Institute

Why The Equivalency —US and China ?

Why The Equivalency —US and China ?

This is what gets me.

The first thing the Canadian press does in this issue of extradition of the Huawei Executive is to try and put both countries on an equal footing.

You know Canada is caught between two super powers . No!

We are talking about a Totalitarian State and a Democratic State . That is what we are talking about .

We are talking about China imprisoning two Canadians on trumped up charge. They do not have a mansion to live in while on bail unlike the Huawei executive.

Does the US have two Canadians in jail on false charges ?

Using the superstate analogy sends the wrong message and demonstrates the soft approach Canada seems to want take . The press just follows the Government line .

This from Canadian Press yesterday :

‘The upshot, said several analysts, is a deepening of a crisis in Sino-Canadian relations that would force the government to continue to seek allies in a dispute that has put Canada in the middle of a fight between two geopolitical giants.’

And this China company is not an independent company , it is controlled by the Chinese Government .

So using this geo political analogy masks an undemocratic, brutal regime and falsely puts it on the same plane as a democratic USA.

You would think the press would want to highlight China’s communist nature and undemocratic government —no, no, —oh, I forgot, the press is involved in getting money from the Government .

What is it that China has on Canada ?

Where are out morals ? Our democratic principles?