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LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL
Le Journal de Montréal is a daily tabloid newspaper published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is the largest-circulating newspaper in Quebec, and the highest-circulating French-language daily newspaper in North America. It was founded by Pierre Péladeau in 1964, and is owned by Quebecor Media.
New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty
Coronavirus
Anne-Sophie Goninet

New Vaccine Requirements Around The World Are Getting Nasty

Countries are going all-in on virtually forcing citizens to get vaccinated: From the French President openly acknowledging his readiness to make life unpleasant for the unvaccinated to un-jabbed Canadians not qualifying for unemployment benefits to Greeks imposing monthly fines on the unvaccinated.

PARIS — Last year, as vaccination campaigns went into full swing across the world, governments and health authorities found creative ways to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, from VIP testimonials to lotteries to donuts.

But as several parts of the globe are experiencing huge surges in infections with the Delta and Omicron variants, we seem to be past the time for celebrity endorsements and free snacks. Or as a public health official in Hong Kong said recently: “enough carrots, time for the stick.”

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Spiderman To Jewish Stars: Global Vaccine Protests Get Ugly
Society
Rozena Crossman

Spiderman To Jewish Stars: Global Vaccine Protests Get Ugly

More protests are bound to spread after President Biden announced that vaccinations will become mandatory for millions of U.S. workers in certain categories of employment, including those who work for the federal government and large corporations.

Vaccines used to be a quiet thing: someone getting a flu shot or UNICEF shipping off jabs to children in a faraway country. No longer. COVID-19 has put vaccinations at the center of both global health policy and national partisan politics — and plenty of noise has ensued.

After some initial demonstrations earlier this year critical of slow vaccination rollouts, protests are now firmly focused on local and national policies that require vaccines, including obligatory jabs for medical workers and the so-called "green pass" vaccine-required access to certain locations and activities. No doubt more protests are bound to spread in the United States after last week's announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden that vaccinations will become mandatory for millions of workers in certain categories of employment, including those who work for the federal government and large corporations.

Still, the protests have been nearly as global as the pandemic itself. Throughout much of the summer, France has had a weekly rendezvous on Saturday to protest against vaccine requirements. In Berlin, thousands took to the streets last month chanting, "Hands off our children!" In New York City, a smattering of nurses, doctors and other medical professionals protested compulsory vaccination, chanting "I am not a lab rat!"

Here are some of the typical and atypical ways the anti-required-vax protesters are being seen and heard:

CANADA: Upside down flags + stars of David + hazmat suits

World Wide Walkout Protest, Sept 1, 2021 — Photo: GoToVan

Canada has witnessed steady, and often offbeat or controversial, forms of protest against the vaccine requirements in provinces and cities for those who want to enter restaurants, theaters and workout classes. On Sept.1 a large crowd in the northwest city of Vancouver expressed their displeasure with vaccine requirements by marching on City Hall carrying their nation flag upside down, which according to the Canadian government, is a "signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life," the Vancouver Sun reports.

Meanwhile in Montreal, protesters compared governmental health rules to the Holocaust by wearing yellow Jewish Star of David patches; while in Toronto, Fairwiew Mall regulars would have spotted protesters in hazmat suits and white masks entering the premises. They carried a loudspeaker that blurted out a deep voice uttering eerie slogans: "Questioning masks is murder," "Big business is essential," and "Everyone loves pharmaceutical companies."

FRANCE: ‘Spiderman" scales office tower

Alain Robert and others climbers scaling up a tower in Paris — Photo: Midi Libre

As much of France was returning to work after summer vacation, one of the nation's tallest office skyscrapers was the sight of an unexpected protest against the country's stringent vaccine requirements. Alain Robert, dubbed the "French Spiderman" for his free solo climbing of urban landmarks, led the way up the 187-meter (614 foot) headquarters of energy giant TotalEnergies to protest the health passports currently required to enter bars and restaurants. "It's an attack on fundamental liberties," said the 60-year-old, who was subsequently arrested for endangering the lives of others.

ITALY: Anti-vaxxers arrested

Police car in Rome — Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"If they find out what I have at home, they'll arrest me for terrorism," an Italian man named Stefano boasted on Telegram, the encrypted instant messaging platform. He was one of about 200 Italian anti-vaxxers preparing for a violent demonstration in Rome, where they were talking about using Molotov cocktails against TV trucks and attacking parliament with a drone.

Police not only found what Stefano packed at home — a katana sword, several pepper sprays and a nightstick among other things — but also what the others allegedly hoarded: brass knuckles, guns, as well as smaller weapons, such as razor blades to be hidden between fingers. ("They're not visible, but cut throats open," a Telegram user said.)

Alas, Stefano was right: he and seven other anti-vaxxers were arrested on Sept. 9, La Stampa reported.

POLAND: Anti-vax terrorism attack at vaccine point

Photo: notesfrompoland.com

An Aug. 2 arson attack on a COVID vaccine pointin the Polish city of Zamość, which follows other acts of aggression by opponents of vaccination in Poland, has been condemned by the health minister, Adam Niedzielski, as an "act of terror." During the night, both a mobile vaccination point in the central square of Zamość, a city of 65,000 in southeast Poland, as well as the local headquarters of the health authorities, which are responsible for enforcing coronavirus restrictions, were set alight.

Marek Nowak, a sociologist at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, told Gazeta Wyborczathat the pandemic has "intensified the formation of radical movements" and led "anti-vaccination movements to use terror to convince others to share their views."

U.S.: Pro-Trump group piggybacks COVID protests

Proud Boys confrontation — Photo: Flickr

A growing number of mask and vaccine mandates in some U.S. states are being met with protests, which have occasionally turned violent. This is in part due to the reappearance of some far-right groups behind the Capitol Hill insurrection in January like the Proud Boys gang, who after lying low for a few months have begun attending rallies, according to USA Today.

Some of the starkest scenes were observed in Los Angeles in August: Proud Boys members and other agitators attacked counter-protesters and journalists, sending a veteran reporter to the hospital. But some non gang-affiliated civilians are also responsible for the violence: in northern California, a parent fuming after seeing his daughter come out of school with a mask barged into the building and assaulted a teacher.

NEW ZEALAND: Down Under, one is the loneliest number

Plenty of sheep show up in New Zealand

Photo: Pixabay

Other nations have seen anti-vaccine protesters gather by the thousands, and the police in Auckland, New Zealand were ready when posts on social media alerted them about a potential gathering. They successfully managed to engage in talks with the protesters and shut down the demonstration — or, rather, the protester, as only one person showed up.

Les Primitifs members getting ready
BUSINESS INSIDER
Laure Gautherin

Preppers Of The World, Mask Up! Survivalism And COVID-19

With the pandemic, survivalists around the world have new reasons to prepare for the day it all comes crashing down.

Preparing for the end of the world has been going on for years. Survivalists and so-called "preppers' sprung up independently and in groups during the Cold War, largely out of the fear of a nuclear disaster. But since then, survivalism has evolved to encompass different fears, philosophies and visions of the future. Of course, it doesn't end well in any of them. But the sources of the would-be apocalypse varies, including war (foreign and domestic), environmental disaster, societal collapse, old-fashioned zombies and more.

But now, in the face of a deadly health pandemic, it seems all of us have gotten a taste of expecting (and getting) the worst. For preppers, COVID-19 may (or may not) be a time to adjust plans and sharpen the vision about how to make it when the ultimate disaster arrives.

Going "Primitive" in Quebec: Survivalism is not about stockpiling toilet paper when the government declares national lockdown. "True early preppers already had theirs," film director Christian Lalumière told Le Journal de Montréal. He recently filmed an eight-episode series called "The Last Humans' that follows a survivalist tribe, Les Primitifs (The Primitives), and aims at debunking the survivalist cliché of the old loner living in the woods, living off his homegrown food and guns.

• The focus is on what has been dubbed the "new-survivalism," a branch of the movement whose goal is mainly to reconnect with nature as an answer to all kinds of crises, from health to ecological to economic. Building a community is a big part of the philosophy.

• A very different kind of a survivalist interviewed by Radio Canada says the pandemic has exacerbated the fear of becoming the target for non-preppers, and people are buying weapons typically used for hunting for self-defense.

It's l'economia, stupido: Italian survivalists say they saw the health crisis coming and were ready for it. Their Rambo skills and stockpiled masks and food stock could be useful for the coming economic crash, unemployment and political chaos. The Italian online newspaper Linkiestareports that more people are identifying as preppers among those financially hit by COVID-19, as well as those who fear the collapse of the government.

• More and more people are contacting survivalist groups looking to learn about producing their own resources, becoming self-sufficient and other basic survival savoir-faire in order to spend less and have less to worry about while looking for a new job and source of income.

Surviving Brexit, and then COVID-19: Long before the health crisis, another lingering threat had awakened survival instincts of some Britons: the specter of chaos and food shortages induced by Brexit trade shutdowns. As the separation with the European Union approached last December, The Guardian dubbed those stockpiling food as "Brexit hoarders." The arrival of COVID only amplified the new wave of worrying.

• Emergency Food Storage UK quickly began selling out its "Brexit Box," which contains one month worth of freeze-dried food plus a water filter and fire kit. According to the British outlet, demand has multiplied with COVID.

U.S. - Exile from nationwide unrest and natural disaster

In the cradle of survivalism, prepping gear is an ever more fruitful business. According to Business Insider Today, the demand for gas masks, hazmat suits and other survival gear has skyrocketed due to a mix of COVID fear and other national disturbances such as West Coast wildfires and Black Lives Matter protests. Prepping has simply gone mainstream.

The U.S. has long been among the avant-garde in terms of different forms of survivalism. For the wealthiest souls of the Silicon Valley, doomsday prepping means such action as getting laser eye surgery to increase chances of survival, buying multimillion-dollar remote properties in New Zealand, having a helicopter all gassed-up and ready to fly and of course, stockpiling guns and ammo. Surviving by any (financial) means necessary.

SARS revival and everyday survival in Singapore: Any good survivalist will tell you that preparation applies to all kinds of crisis, including a pandemic. But no prepper is more prepared than one who actually went through a health crisis. In his disaster-ready home, A prepper from Singapore who gave his name as Samuel explained to Channel News Asia how the SARS outbreak in 2003 convinced him to be ready for anything to save his family. He knew exactly what he needed when the nature of the coronavirus got clearer, adding items to his impressive survival kit because he resides in a red zone for dengue.

As explained on the Singaporian news channel, prepping is about being ready for anything, from natural catastrophe to kidnapping to heart attack. It is a way of life that must happen before all hell breaks, and it's about saving yourself as well as helping your neighbor.

Final takeaway: Skills and knowledge are at least as important as the equipment. Still, it's never too early to stockpile — masks and all.

Swiss gun culture is shaped by the country's mandatory military service
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL
Tori Otten

What Swiss Guns Tell Us About American Mass Shootings

Switzerland is behind only the U.S. and Yemen in rate of gun ownership. For Americans, maybe it's not just about the quantity of guns but also their relationship with them.

-Analysis-

After the shooting in Las Vegas, social media platforms predictably lit up with calls for new gun control laws. And just as predictably, American gun rights advocates repeated the truism that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." But to better understand why America has a singular malady of homicide-by-firearm, it may be worth looking at Switzerland.

Lausanne-based daily Le Temps reports Thursday that among that nation's 8.4 million inhabitants, there are about 3.4 million legally owned guns — making it the third-highest level of gun ownership in the world, just behind the United States and Yemen. But even though it has a lot of guns, Switzerland also has incredibly stringent gun laws. Anyone who purchases a firearm has to undergo a thorough background check, even when buying from a private individual. Fully automatic weapons are banned. Also, when transporting a gun, the owner must go directly to the shooting range or hunting ground and then back home. Detours, such as to the grocery store, while carrying your weapon are prohibited.

Maybe America's mass shooting epidemic is not just about access to guns.

And yes, famously neutral Switzerland is also keeping the peace at home. It has one of the world's lowest murder rates, and has had just one mass shooting in recent decades: in 2001, when a man opened fire in the parliament house, killing 14 people, including himself.

Switzerland clearly has a gun culture of its own, but a very different one than the U.S. It is based primarily in the country's mandatory military service, where Swiss citizens learn about guns in a highly controlled group setting. Owning a gun for self-defense, or for the sake of owning a gun, is uncommon, Le Temps explains. Even mid-level criminals, such as drug dealers, are generally unarmed.

So maybe America's mass shooting epidemic is not just about access to guns, but about the country's relationship with its weapons. Canada, its northern neighbor, also happens to rank high (13th) on the list of gun ownership, with a rate of 30.8 firearms per 100 residents.

As Mathieu Bock-Côté writes in the Journal de Montréal, the U.S. expresses itself "through an unhealthy passion for firearms." Gun shows, pro-gun rights rallies, gun fashion shows: Americans are obsessed with their guns.

The most impassioned argument against gun regulations is that people don't want the government "taking away" their firearms. Americans need their guns to feel safe — but sometimes also to feel powerful. When someone commits a massacre like Sunday night's in Las Vegas, Bock-Côté writes, he wants "for a moment to feel like the master of the world." Is there anything more American than that?

blog

Second 'Trudeau Mania' Takes Over Canada

"New Trudeau Mania," writes French-language Canadian daily Le Journal de Montréal on the front page of its Tuesday edition, after Justin Trudeau — son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau — led his Liberal Party to an unexpectedly sweeping victory in general elections.

Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded defeat late Monday, ending nearly a decade of Conservative party rule.

The Liberals seized a parliamentary majority with a record 184 seats and are credited with about 39.5% of the vote. Before the general elections, the party was the third political force in parliament.

"My friends, we beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together," Trudeau said during his victory speech in his hometown of Montreal. "This is what positive politics can do."

The 43-year-old pledged to run a $10 billion annual budget deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's anemic economic growth, Reuters reports.