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‘Wartime’ coronavirus powers could hurt our democracy – without keeping us safe

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We are not at war with a virus. I don’t care how many politicians say it, from Xi Jinping’s “people’s war” to Donald Trump’s “our big war”, or how many pundits repeat it: we are not “at war” with the coronavirus. I know that in deeply militarized countries like the US, the term “war” is now simply used to emphasize the importance of an issue – from the non-existent “war on Christmas” that conservatives talk about to the liberal “war on poverty”. But words have meanings, and often real consequences, as we are still seeing in the “war on drugs” and “war on terror”.

During a war, the liberal democratic order is temporarily suspended, and extraordinary measures are passed that significantly extend state powers and limit the population’s rights. Some of the extended state powers only marginally infringe upon the lives and rights of citizens, such as the creation of a “war economy” (ie making economic production subservient to wartime efforts), but others have traumatic consequences, such as the mass internment of Japanese Americans during the second world war.

Across the world, government leaders have declared (and extended) states of emergency, in countries such as Spain, provinces such as Nova Scotia, Canada, and cities such as Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I’m writing this column in my liberal college town of Athens, Georgia, which declared a state of emergency a week ago and recently added a “shelter-in-place” ordinance to it – which is partly undermined by the much laxer response by nextdoor (Republican-run) Oconee county, so that Athens residents can still dine and shop there.

State-of-emergency measures should be strictly related to the crisis at hand and proportional to the threat

State-of-emergency measures are necessary in a real crisis, whether economic or health-related, but they can be taken without the use of “war” language. They also should be strictly related to the crisis at hand and proportional to the threat. At this stage, the threat of contagion is very high, which means that measures to limit the movement of people are legitimized.

Similarly, most countries are woefully ill-prepared for the pandemic, with hospitals dangerously overcrowded and underresourced, requiring urgent state intervention. In addition to using massive funds to buy much-needed medical supplies, this could also include enlisting the military to create temporary hospitals, as New York is currently doing.

But many politicians have gone much further, trying to use the health crisis to push through dubious repressive legislation. For instance, in the United Kingdom, where the Conservative government response so far has shown almost criminal negligence, Boris Johnson has pushed through a draconian “coronavirus bill”, which, among others, gives police and immigration officials sweeping powers to arrest people suspected of carrying the coronavirus – this could make innocent Brits of Chinese descent targets of state repression in a similar way that post-9/11 measures have targeted innocent British Muslims.

In Israel, the embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hoped that the coronavirus could do what three elections have failed to achieve: extend his government rule and keep him out of prison. Linking anti-corona measures to anti-terrorism measures, Netanyahu proposed a package that critics have called “anti-democratic” and has led to public protests in several Israeli cities.

Never to be outdone, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has jumped on the coronavirus to push the final nail in the coffin of the country’s bruised and battered democracy. On Monday, the Fidesz party-controlled government will vote on a law that, according to one prominent critic, would “give Viktor Orbán dictatorial powers under a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus”.

In the US, President Donald Trump, forced to finally acknowledge the reality and seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic after weeks of delusional statements, is starting to see the political potential of the crisis. In a recent speech, he stated, in his own unique English: “I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president.”

What this “wartime presidency” could look like we could see in the emergency powers the Department of Justice “quietly asked” Congress for. Most involve, unsurprisingly, powers to further restrict immigration – undoubtedly influenced by the anti-immigration zealot Stephen Miller, Trump’s longest-serving key adviser (outside of members of his own family). It also includes the request to grant chief judges the power to detain people indefinitely without trial, which critics fear could mean the suspension of habeas corpus (the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release).

To prevent another Patriot Act, each new ’emergency measure’ should be assessed individually on the basis of three clear questions

There are very serious problems with many of the proposed measures, many of them similar to the repressive measures taken after 9/11. First, in many cases the proposals are combinations of repressive measures that are unrelated to this specific crisis. Second, many measures are disproportional to the threat we face – habeas corpus is at the heart of the rule of law; should we really sacrifice that for a health crisis whose lethality is still largely unknown? Third, while they are all explicitly billed as “emergency measures”, limited to that emergency, the language is often vague and could be used to justify (endless) extensions. We know from experience that temporary measures often become permanent measures.

To prevent another Patriot Act, each new “emergency measure” should be assessed individually on the basis of three clear questions: (1) what is its contribution to the fight against the coronavirus?; (2) what are its negative consequences for liberal democracy?; (3) when will it be abolished? If any of these three questions cannot be adequately answered, the measure should be rejected. Advertisement

While it is important to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously – really, people, stay at home! – and to provide the state with the powers it needs to fight the pandemic, we should not let our fear be used to drag us into yet another false “war”. Because if we do, politicians will use it once again to strengthen the already far too strong repressive powers of our surveillance states.

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ShoutIt.ca: A new free speech social media platform changing the face of censorship

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In the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in the days leading up to the just concluded Presidential election, social media giants have been on a strict censorship campaign.

Quite a number of high-profile personalities, notably former President Donald Trump, have had their social media accounts permanently suspended for airing views that were deemed “inappropriate” and “inciting violence”. However, there have been accusations that this censorship by social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have been biased and targeted towards conservative voices and activists.

To combat the problem of selective censorship, a new free speech and human rights social media network is giving users such as Trump, the platform to express themselves freely without fear of censorship. ShoutIt.ca is a community-driven social network and not-for-profit initiative with the primary goal of providing a free speech platform for those seeking an alternative to social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which has been riddled with worsening censorship.

In a statement following Trump’s ban from Twitter, the company noted that the decision to ban Trump permanently from the platform was due to his continued violation of their terms of use by inciting violence and therefore, a suspension would minimize the risk of further violence.

By far his most preferred platform, Twitter was Trump’s primary mode of communication since assuming office and through this medium, he has made several policy announcements and commented on different societal and political issues. But with his account suspended, communicating becomes quite a struggle and this has led many conservatives to seek alternatives to these major social networks.

“(The social media platforms) have overwhelmingly censored Trump and his administration,” said Lon Safko, industry consultant and author of The Social Media Bible in a report.  

“Any form of censorship, any form, is unacceptable. Social platform such as Facebook, whose primary business is open communication between its over 2.7 billion members, have a moral and legal responsibility to allow those conversations to transpire, organically.”

All sides of a conversation must be heard and if any viewer disagrees or takes offence by a certain conversation, they are well within their rights to ignore the conversation and walk away.  ShoutIt.ca gives everyone the freedom to express themselves, increasing public engagement and awareness on various topic. Also, it limits the level of cultural, political and religious intolerance.

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Individual Rights and Freedoms Under Siege in Era of COVID

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In a letter to 100,000 lawyers, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Children’s Health Defense (CHD) chairman and chief legal counsel, urges his fellow attorneys to read “Protecting Individual Rights in the Era of COVID-19,” a special report prepared by the CHD team.

The report explores the legal rights to informed consent, bodily integrity, the right to refuse unwanted medical interventions, religious expression and autonomy. All of these rights will be “dramatically constricted” if employers, states and/or the federal government impose vaccine mandates.

Dear Colleague,

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven an opportunity of convenience for totalitarian elements who have put individual rights and freedoms globally under siege. A medical cartel composed of pharmaceutical industry, government regulators, financial houses, and telecom and internet billionaires are systematically obliterating freedom of speech and assembly, religious worship, property rights, jury trial, due process, and — ultimately — America’s exemplary democracy.

That’s why I am sending you this new Special Report, “Protecting Individual Rights in the Era of COVID-19.”

As a fellow lawyer who has practiced in our country’s courts for more than 40 years, I am alarmed by the growing power of global corporations to overwhelm our justice system, obliterate our constitutional liberty, and destroy public health. Throughout my career as a litigator, law professor, public advocate and author, I have worked to hold corporate giants and government institutions accountable. My life’s work has provided me with a unique perspective on our individual rights to clean air, clean water, unobstructed access to the commons, and our rights to make our own decisions about our bodies.

As chairman and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), I have now dedicated myself to protecting children’s health by ending harmful environmental exposures to children, ending the exploding chronic disease epidemic that has debilitated over half of American kids born after 1989, and to holding those responsible accountable.

A 2006 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study found that 54% of America’s children today have chronic health conditions — allergies, ADHD, autism, eczema, asthma, obesity, autoimmune conditions and more. When I was growing up, most of these conditions were rare or unknown. When I was a boy, I received three vaccines. Today, children receive 72 mandated doses of 16 vaccines, prior to age 18. A mountain of peer-reviewed studies points to vaccines as the primary culprit in this public health calamity. That isn’t stopping our health authorities from mandating more hugely subsidized, shoddily tested, zero-liability vaccines for children. Our vaccine safety program falls dangerously short of what our children deserve.

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed captive corporate regulators to hold the population hostage to justify the transfer of $45 billion of taxpayer money to pharmaceutical companies to finance a gold rush of new vaccines.

Protecting individual rights in the era of COVID-19 is essential 

I urge you to read this short legal dossier, “Protecting Individual Rights in the Era of COVID-19”, with an open mind and to draw your own conclusion about the legal and ethical implications of one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates for zero-liability, heavily subsidized mandatory vaccines.

Current vaccine mandates now require most school children to receive between 50-75 shots just to attend school. A vaccine-injured child, or adult, cannot sue the healthcare provider or the vaccine producer — but rather must go to a rigged national injury compensation program to sue the very government that ordered vaccine compliance in the first place. After studying this subject for years, I am more horrified than ever by the system’s pervasive corruption.

Given existing federal legislation and judicial precedents, it is all but impossible to hold vaccine manufacturers or healthcare providers accountable for vaccine injury in the courts. Vaccine injuries are not rare — HHS’s own studies show that the agency claims that injuries only occur with “1 in a million” vaccines is a mendacious canard. The true injury rate is actually 1 in every 39 vaccines, according to the Federal Agency for Health Research Quality.

Problems with vaccine safety aren’t isolated just to children 

Federal and State officials are considering mandates for the new COVID-19 vaccine. The New York State Bar Association, an organization for which I have great respect, has given its imprimatur to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all New Yorkers if “experts” deem that necessary. But those experts are mainly regulators from captured public health agencies with pervasive and corrupt financial entanglements with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The pharma-controlled media’s advice that we “trust the experts” is anti-democratic and anti-science. You and I know that “experts” can differ on scientific questions and that their opinions can vary in accordance with and demands of politics, power, and financial self-interest. In every lawsuit, leading, highly credentialed experts from opposite sides routinely offer diametrically antithetical positions based on the same set of facts. The trouble is that today, in the political arena, dissenting voices that question government policies and corporate proclamations are silenced by censorship and vilification.

In this special report, our CHD Team explores the legal rights to informed consent, bodily integrity, the right to refuse unwanted medical interventions, religious expression and autonomy. All of these rights will be dramatically constricted if employers, states and/or the federal government impose vaccine mandates.

I hope that “Protecting Individual Rights in the Era of COVID-19” can help you work with any future clients as you navigate the uncertain COVID-19/vaccine mandates landscape.

Sincerely yours,

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Chairman, Children’s Health Defense

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Big Tech Pushes Digital ID Cards to Track Vaccinations, Shopping, Banking Activity and More

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Story at-a-glance:

  • Tech giants with deep ties to the U.S. national security state — Microsoft, Oracle and the MITRE Corporation — have partnered with healthcare companies to create the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to advance the implementation of digital COVID-19 vaccination records.
  • The initiative is essentially built on a common framework of digital vaccination “wallets” called SMART Health Cards that are meant to “work across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries” as part of a new global vaccination-record infrastructure.
  • SMART Health Cards are expected to include a person’s complete name, gender, birth date, mobile phone number and email address in addition to vaccination information, though it is possible and likely that more personal information will be required as the initiative advances.
  • While the push for combining digital identity with vaccination records and economic activity appears, superficially, to be the effort of various organizations and groups, the same individuals and entities appear time and again, pointing to a coordinated push to not only implement such a system but manufacture consent for such a system among the global population.
  • Coercion is a built-in part of this infrastructure and, if implemented, will be used to modify human behavior to great effect, reaching far beyond just the issue of COVID-19 vaccines.

Tech giants with deep ties to the U.S. national security state — Microsoft, Oracle and the MITRE Corporation — announced that they had partnered with several healthcare companies to create the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to advance the implementation of digital COVID-19 vaccination records.

According to a Reuters report, the VCI “aims to help people get encrypted digital copies of their immunization records stored in a digital wallet of their choice” because the “current system [of vaccination records] does not readily support convenient access and sharing of verifiable vaccination records.”

The initiative, on its website, notes that the VCI is a public-private partnership “committed to empowering individuals with digital vaccination records” so that participants can “protect and improve their health” and “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.”

The initiative is essentially built on a common framework of digital vaccination “wallets” called SMART Health Cards that are meant to “work across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries” as part of a new global vaccination-record infrastructure.

The host of the VCI website and one of the initiative’s key backers is the Commons Project Foundation. That foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), runs the Common Trust Network, which has three goals that are analogous to those of VCI.

As listed on the WEF website, the network’s goals are (1) to empower individuals by providing digital access to their health information; (2) to make it easier for individuals to understand and comply with each destination’s requirements; and (3) to help ensure that only verifiable lab results and vaccination records from trusted sources are presented for the purposes of cross-border travel and commerce.

To advance these goals, the Common Trust Network is powered by “a global registry of trusted laboratory and vaccination data sources” as well as “standard formats for lab results and vaccination records and standard tools to make those results and records digitally accessible.”

Another, and related, Commons Project Foundation and WEF partnership is CommonPass. CommonPass, which is also supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, is both a framework and an app that “will allow individuals to access their lab results and vaccination records, and consent to have that information used to validate their COVID status without revealing any other underlying personal health information.”

Current members of CommonPass, including JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, are also members of the Common Trust Network. This overlap between the Commons Project Foundation/WEF partnerships and the VCI illustrates that the WEF itself is involved with the VCI, albeit indirectly through their partners at the Commons Project Foundation.

The Commons Project Foundation itself is worth exploring, as its cofounders, Paul Meyer and Bradley Perkins, have long-standing ties to the RAND Corporation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the International Rescue Committee, as noted by MintPress News.

The IRC, currently run by Tony Blair protégé David Milliband, is developing a biometric ID and vaccination-record system for refugees in Myanmar in cooperation with the ID2020 Alliance, which is partnered with CommonPass backer, the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition, the ID2020 Alliance funds the Commons Project Foundation and is also backed by Microsoft, one of the key companies behind the VCI.

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