Opening Statement



Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Teacher Free Speech Spring 2020 News + Views!

HEY HO kEEP ChECKing BAcK! LaTeR AdDITIoNs WiLL bE AddED In LaRgE TYpe SeT! mY Acronym Guide IS @ hErE! MuCh, mUch morE to coMe ..... REadeRs gUiDe 2 TeaCHer fREE sPEech NeWs Y vIeWs @ HERE!  LiVe tWEEts @ davidchiarelli 



OH CANADA

Go Home and Stay Home: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is quite clear about that in his daily Q+A outside Rideau Cottage. Our Canadian COVID-19 crisis begins with a good leadership example of self isolation and social distancing, after his wife Sophie is exposed to the virus @  CBC

"The Big Plan" or "Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan Support for Business and Canadians": Here's what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority Liberal government in Ottawa is planning to do @ CA

Emergency Aid: Canada's minority parliament votes unanimously to approve a record, emergency $107 billion aid package. However, Trudeau's forced to negotiate aspects of the bill that the opposition parties fear is a dangerous power grab. Now, his Liberal government must seek further parliamentary support before it spends any more money, hopefully maintaining more opposition input, oversight, and a sense of checks and balances. So that folks is why a really democratic political system really needs an effective opposition. And our minority government in Ottawa can actually be a good thing @ CBC

CCPA: A Social and Economic Analysis of COVID-19: The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives appeals for "social solidarity, the primacy of collective care and non-partisan co-operation" @ CCPA



Capitalism 101: A socialist critique the Canadian government's COVID-19 response so far? In short: Tens of billions of dollars for big business. A pittance for healthcare and workers. Sound familiar? Who does our government really work for anyway?!? @ WSWS

COVID-19 Equity Issues: Canada's most needy are seniors, the poor and our new immigrants. Not only are they economically disadvantaged. They are also the most vulnerable to illness, if we really want to help flatten the curve and stamp the virus out @ Star



Right Wing Watch: 64% of Canadians who voted Conservative in last fall's federal election believe the pandemic threat is "overblown". They are defying instructions to stay home, social distance and properly follow the health procedures, endangering the themselves and the rest of us, as they continue to stubbornly spread the virus about! Polling @ AngusReid

Union Welcome: It's one thing to tell somebody to stay at home for the public good. Quite another thing to be be able to afford it. And so Canada's labour unions are urging the government for enough aid for our most financially vulnerable workers. Meanwhile, over one million Canadians have applied for unemployment insurance. And are desperately considering how to prioritize the basic essentials and pay the bills @ CLC @ Global

Oil Rigging? Trudeau's Liberals are also reportedly considering a multi-billion dollar oil and gas sector bailout in Canada. Ostensibly it's because of the COVID-19 crisis. Sinking gas prices and so on. But using a horrible public health crisis? As another excuse, to bail out and sustain the fossil fuel industry? For shame! All three of Canada's main political parties are in the industry pocket, so don't expect much real opposition, unless we strongly speak out! More @ Globe

Sneaky! Sneaky! The Trudeau government is about to quietly resume exporting controversial military goods to Saudi Arabia, undercover of the COVID-19 crisis @ Globe



Meanwhile In Ontario: At first, Ontario's Neo Conster Premier Doug Ford dragged his heals. Didn't pro-actively react to the COVID pandemic in our province until now. Not unlike the Donald. Think Trump North. Now, he seems very focused on helping his business pals, rather than the average everyday Ontarian. Nor renters, Or our working poor. Sadly, with a majority government, there's only Andrea Horwath's NDP and a leaderless, stump Liberal Party at Queens Park to keep him on his heels @ TO

Ontario COVID-19 School Closings are extended to at least May 4th, to fight the spread of the virus, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health @ ON

Ford's Health Cuts: Labour is urging Ford to restore the $2.7 billion in healthcare cuts he already made this year, to provide tax cuts for his rich buddies. Ha! Now, let's just see how concerned about public health he really is @ UNIFOR

For The People? Sure! Dougie seems very, very concerned about our health and wellbeing now, here in Toronto, during the COVID-19 crisis. But remember a year ago? He planned to cut $1 billion in funding for the Toronto Board of Health, over the next 10 years! Best we be very cautious about Ford's sudden change of heartGlobe



Severe Outcomes: Ontario seniors, over the age of 70 are being warned to be especially careful and self isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic @ CTV

Our Dougie's List of Essential Services in Ontario seems pretty open ended, considering that there is public health crisis. A lot of our working families, especially in the service sector, still need to go to work, so that he can claim Ontario is open for business! Check it out @ ON @ CBC

Ontario's Second Revised List of Essential Workplaces: At least our Dougie is finally listening to the medical experts. Earning mucho accolades just for not being totally stupid, like his buddy Trump. But many of his utterances still leave a lot of us scratching our heads. See Oh Cannabis and @ ON

Ontario's Moronavirus Crisis: Consider this -Ford's copy cat anti media bias has only ended up making him look as stupid as the Donald. Now he's out in front of the camera's every day fielding questions. Think if it will make any difference? @ Spec




Tim's New COVID-19 Drive Thru Service? No Can See!

Boycott Tim's: Tim Horton's like to promotes itself as Canada's coffee shop. But it's owners are from Brazil. Nor do it's supposed Canadian values actually reflect those of many Canadians living here. Despite Tim's claims to the contrary, it's minimum wage workers are still being required to come to work, to serve you coffee and donuts, regardless of whether they are sick or not! Plus it's dismissing shareholder calls for stronger health and safety policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. All the while, denying it in their advertising and public statements. Hey! Look at what hey do, not what they say. Sigh. Alas. Tim is rimming it's workers during a public health crisis and endangering the rest of us too! Enough is enough @ Press @ Progress @ PP @ Star

"Spring Fever" or "Emergency Order #1+2": Springs here. Naturally enough, with the nice weather everyone wants to head outdoors. As a result, the City of Toronto is imposing tough regulations and fines that require physical distancing in our parks and public squares1 @ 2 



More Toronto Links to the other COVID-19 related municipal and provincial measures governing us, during the pandemic is @ TO 

Here's the Toronto Police Service's enforcement and ticketing report @ TPS



Know Your Rights: Download Unifor's info FAQ about income support and sick leave benefits for workers. Check for regular updates throughout the COVID-19 crisis @ PDF Also visit the online CLC: Canadian Labour Council Resource Centre @  CLC

Wet'suwet'en Update: Coastal GasLinks use of court injunctions to push their pipeline through First Nation lands, shows that Canada is strictly a "smash and grab" country, for the oil industry and other big business interests. But now the very troublesome issue has fallen eerily silent. The COVID-19 crisis has certainly pushed it to the sidelines, for the time being. How convenient @ Globe @ Huff



Pipeline Pandemic: The Union of BC Chiefs is still calling on Coastal GasLink to halt work on their pipeline through unceded First Nation lands. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 crisis upon us, their workers aren't staying home, like everyone else. Far from it! Coastal GasLink seem posed to push the pipeline through as an "essential service". That's despite the widespread protest across Canada, up until we all got grounded. Sure, Trudeau often seems so helpful, and understanding about the COVID-19 epidemic. Out to help everyone. But remember SNC Lavalin? Sadly, our boy is often clearly in the big corporate boy's oligarchical pocket. Beware @ Tyee



Militarization: Few realize that Canada and the US have the longest unarmed border in the world. Both countries have now agreed to temporarily turn back anyone crossing it illegally, from either side, during the COVID-19 crisis, for public health reasons. Ummm .... hardly any of us want to sneak into the US illegally, at the best of times, so wants with the American troop build-up?!? 

Seems US President Donald Trump is as guns ho as ever. Wants to send any asylum seekers from the US back home to their country of origin, el pronto, as per his America First agenda. 

Canadian Deputy PM Christine Freeland strongly objects. An armed border is very bad for business. Also throws a real monkey wrench into the long term "special relationship" between our two countries, as "trusted friends" and "military allies". Der Donald backs down, for now, but lots of border issues remain @ Globe @ Global @ CBC @ WSJ

A COVID-19 Trade War?!? The US blocks 3 million N95 protective masks from being delivered to Canada as the pandemic escalates. Look, under our free trade agreements, the material for the masks largely come from Canada. Then they are mostly manufactured in the states. Do we really want to go down the hoarding path with each other?!? @ Guardian @ TStar @ USA 



Come From Away: Former Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball reflects on 9/11. Canadians assisted the US travellers suddenly stranded in our country, without reservation, no second thoughts. Our two countries have enjoyed a very special relationship, or so it seemed, up til now @ Hill @ MW

What Next?!? Canada braces for the mayhem Trump seems about to unleash in the new US COVID-19 epicentre south of our border! Too bad, if wants to re-open the border for Easter. We're shut down tight, braced for worst. As the number of confirmed cases continues to skyrocket, with the US now firmly in first place @ Globe @ Globe @ BBC

Good Neighbours? Sadly, Trump's whole approach, or lack thereof, to the pandemic is creating a whole lot of fear and anger in both Canada and Mexico. We Canadians, in particular, are very committed to flattening the curve. Are now in danger of the deadly, long term community spread from south of our border. Not to mention all the horrifying political and economic uncertainty, due to Trump's sheer fucking stupidity, ineptitude and denial. It's impossible to ignore @ USA @ Huff

IN THE NEWS



Social Distancing? Self Isolation? Or Quarantine? Different combinations are being used around the world in reponse to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stateside, President Donald Trump is now claiming that he'll relax his belated COVID-19 guidelines. Put economics first. Get America back to work early. Arguably mitigate the huge economic damage. But perhaps at the risk of of one's humanity? The nation's heart and soul? More @ ABC @ 

Go Early - Go Hard Verses The Laissez Faire Approach: The US and the UK have been pursuing a gradual laissez faire approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. While China, Italy, France, Spain and Canada are much more quickly utilizing a go early - go hard lock down strategy. So far, China and Italy seem to be making progress. While the US is in danger of becoming the new epicentre of the pandemic. @ Bloom 

Comparing The US Verses Canadian Response: Two different approaches. Now it seems, two quite different results @ Global






A question of priorities: Who does government really work for?


Fox On The Run: Sycophantic Fox News was in complete denial about the pandemic for far too long. Blindly peddling Trump's bullshit. Badly misleading it's MAGA viewers. Now Fox is in full damage control mode; back peddling and real, real worried! They're facing legal action, as the casualty rate from COVID-19 soars! Are Americans finally catching on? Albeit too late? @ Int @ Vanity @ Inq

US Stimulus Package: Trump is now rushing congress to pass a 2 trillion stimulus package. However, the Democrats put on the brakes, to insist on some oversite clauses. Ironically, these will also stop him from profiting from the crisis. This is not just partisan bickering. Sadly, the corrupt Trump organization and it's various business interests are posed for a major injection of new wealth, to er .... Make America Great Again, it seems @ BNN



US Doors, Spells + The Virus: Progressive Naomi Klein praises US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for "opening the door" to what's politically possible in the US. In so doing he "broke the spell" of NeoLiberalism. As for the Donald? Well, he's been very busy trying to thrust his American brand of Coronavirus Capitalism down everybody's throat @ DN

Medicare For All? The US is one of the very few major developed countries without universal medicare, as the COVID-19 pandemic rears it's ugly head.
Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders continues to campaign for Medicare For All, as he goes down in the primaries. Sigh. Alas. @ Bernie @ More on Bernie, the Squad and health care as a basic human right @ P


Care Strike: The US action group is calling for a widespread emergency response to survive the COVID-19 crisis. The rent and labour strikes begin April 2nd @ Twitter

2 Different Visions: The GOP and Democrats response to the COVID-19 crisis reveal quite different approaches to how the US proceeds on a go forward basis, during or after the Era of Trump. Here's Democrat House Leader Nancy Pelosi's version of what an emergency relief bill should look like @  DC Also a right wing critique @ NR

From the White House to the CDC: Denial and confusion have been the order of the day. Important time was lost, as the pandemic spread @ WP 

Trump's COVID-19 Lies: A fact check @ Atlantic

More on US Leadership or The Lackthereof -Cuomo verses Trump @ ABC



Foxy Election Year: Fox News is at it again! Once again, they're been badly misleading Trump's legion of supporters. Claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic is fake news. Just an election year trick. Of course, a bad economy is very bad for Trump come the fall US election. But the evidence, from around the world, surely shows how short sighted this is. Meanwhile the US moves up to first place in reported cases of the virus. See below and @ DB @ WP @ CTV

Right Wing Watch -OANN: Beware! The One America News Network is an extreme right wing conservative news network. Trump is increasingly relying upon them for his own fake news stories, when Fox doesn't come through. Check them out @ MBFC

Viral Rebels: According to a rash of sensational media reports, wealthy adults and restless teens continue to thumb their noses at COVID-19 containment. It's happening from Florida to France. The March break horror stories from the US are particularly alarming. Remember, in the greater scheme of things, martial law usually follows next, when emergency procedures seem to need to be more strongly enforced. Just saying ... @ VOA




The Trump Show: Der Donald continues to misinform Americans and undermine his public health officials during his daily briefings. Too bad! With impeachment now off the Congressional table, he can't be "cancelled" before November @ Vox

What Next?!? According to the medical experts, here's how the pandemic plays out, when politics gets in the way of protecting public health, and one doesn't act pre-emptively to flatten the curve. Brace yourself for a total horror-show @ Atlantic

Of course, the economic impact of shutting down the country can be devastating too. But it will be anyway, if not to a somewhat lesser degree, if Trump stays his course. Perhaps, it's all a question of one's core ethics, values and principles. What comes first? Human lives? Or accumulating more and more wealth? @ NYT




Oil Rigging? House Democrats warn that Trump is considering a multi-billion dollar oil and gas sector bailout too. Truth be told, both the Democrats and the GOP are firmly in the industry pocket. Best beware the crocodile tears! See Oh Canada above. More @ Hill

"Hot Button" or "Temperature Rising": Sadly, climate change is often in danger of getting lost in the current COVID-19 pandemonium. However, this February was another record hot month around the world. The economic danger is much more costly than the virus. The environmental and social danger truly profound @ SA



Meanwhile in Cuba ...

Toronto Friendship School Santiago de Cuba: Professor Willy advises Teacher Free Speech that the school has been closed for the month of April, due to the COVID-19 crisis. A small health care package was provided for each student, to help them at home during the crisis. However, the situation remains dire. Even the most basic hygienic goods are very expensive and hard to find in Cuba, at the best of times. 

Meanwhile, Professor Jose's step son Ernesto, who's now in his first year of medical school, is helping out with the doctor's door to door visits, throughout the crowded, badly impoverished city. He and his wife Martha are, no doubt, very proud of him but understandably worried.

Like in Canada, the Cubans are being instructed to stay at home and self isolate. The hotels and resorts are all closed. Travel to and from the island is suspended, until at least May @ X @ Granma @ IC

Socialism or Death? Cuba's chronic food and supply shortages, under the crippling, US embargo, have been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic. It's very hard to stay home, when you don't have enough food to eat. With it's borders now shut, out of medical necessity, Cuba's tourism season and main source of income, has come to an early close. The future is very uncertain, but community spirit remains high @ R



US Embargo: A humanitarian aid shipment of 100,000 masks, along with desperately needed gloves, wipes and ventilators has been blocked, due to the illegal US embargo, from reaching Cuba. For shame! @ CTV

Joint Statement: To no avail, numerous aid groups are calling for the US to at least temporary lift or ease it's sanctions against Cuba, so that the necessary humanitarian and medical supplies can get through, during the COVID-19 crisis. Read @ WOLA

Cold War Redux: Despite it's difficulties, Cuba continues to send medical teams abroad. They've been bravely assisting in the international effort against COVID-19, as of late, in Italy and across the Caribbean. Indeed, Cuba has a proven track record in providing rapid-response support during a medical crisis. Also, in developing antiviral drugs. 



Sadly, US President Donald Trump has been working hard to block their efforts for awhile, most notably in Venezuela and Bolivia. But why step it up now? Especially when he's undermining the international effort  in crisis times? 



Seems Trump's desperate Cold War attacks against the beleaguered, socialist island state could help him score some much needed political points, amongst the Cuban exile community in Florida, as the US fall election approaches @ Nation

US Leadership Void 2: China and tiny, socialist Cuba are providing medical assistance abroad, most notably in Italy. Consider it as another sign that the US has all but abandoned any attempt at real leadership on the world stage. Maybe for the best? @ CC @ Granma

A Bolivia COVID-19 Coup: New elections in Bolivia have been postponed because of the virus. Hmmmm. Get this -Evidence has surfaced proving there wasn't any election fraud last year, to justify the US backed coup against anti-oligarch, indigenous President Evo Morales. How convenient @ Telesur @ Canary @ Dissent

EDUBEAT



UPDATED! A COVID-19 Real Time World Map and Counter: Watch the numbers rise and fall, country by country, around the world. An all too real horror show @ WoM  More numbers from in Canada @ CBC The City of Toronto info site is @ TO

What's a "Pandemic"?!? The WHO [World Health Organization] has declared COVID-19 to officially be a world wide pandemic? What does that mean? What could happen next? How to deal with the stress? More @ MNT

"Stepping Out" or "How To Avoid COVID-19 At The Grocery Store" @ Atlantic



COVID Projections: Estimates for the pandemic range from 2 months to a year and a half. I'll add more links as they show up. You can start handicapping the odds for yourself. 

Back In The USA: The conflict between medical and political priorities at the Trump White House has created a whole lot of confusion. Here's a look at the estimated long range trends and methodological challenges, in making an accurate projection @ Atlantic @ NPR

Global Prospectus: A worldwide look at the changing trends, forecasts and logistical uncertainties is @ Plos

Ontario Timeline: The official forecast based on present trends are that the crisis could last 18 months to 2 years. That includes a second or third wave. Toronto could see 600 to 3000 deaths. Ontario 3000 to 15,000 deaths. More than 100,000 of us could've died had we done nothing. A summary and a copy of the complete government report is @ TStar The modelling slide show PDF @ ON



Teachers Strike: The Ontario ETFO and OECTA public teacher unions have reached tentative contract agreements with the Ford government. We won't know many details until they are ratified by the members. Meanwhile AEFO teachers and OSSTF teachers are still in negotiations. Let's hope they haven't been sold short through concession bargaining, as in years past. More often than not, that hasn't been the exception, rather it's the rule. Moreover, it now sounds like the Ford government might've backed off on many of its cuts, for now anyways. We must remember though, that what they say and do in public, often isn't reflected at the bargaining table, nor followed through on later either, as CUPE has now found out. Teacher Free Speech wishes the teachers well, but urges everyone to be careful -very careful, in taking the Ford Neo Cons change of heart seriously. More @ OECTA @ ETFO @ CUPE

OECTA Contract: The Catholic teachers have ratified a new contract. The big secret? It was by a vote rumoured to be in the low to mid 90's range. Close but no cigar! That suggests that they managed to close ranks but that more than a few of them aren't exactly happy campers about it. No way. There's a 1% pay arise, which is below the cost of living. A 4% increase in benefits, another defacto cut. Class size increases have been mostly rolled back, though some of the language sounds vague. There's extra money to rehire teachers and for Special Ed. No contentious "me too" clause. Plus significant changes to the E-Learning clauses. 

Hmmm. With OECTA provincial, the devil is always in the details. We wait to learn more, before passing judgement @ OECTA @ TStar @ Global

Concession Bargaining?: Details of the OECTA tentative agreement continue to leak out but still remain secret and allusive. Please feel free to comment or provide any details in the Comments sections below. Did they engage in concession bargaining or not? More @ TStar




Some Real COVID-19 Home Schooling?

Learn At Home? Ford's latest boondoggle? A government sponsored on line program, for the province's students, while our schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently it was developed by teachers. Sure. Long ago. And it's very general at best. Sadly, the so called "plan" to help out at home, also excludes those disadvantaged students who could benefit the most from the extra help @ Star

Climate Change: Is it related to the spread of infectious disease? Consider this @ CCDR

"On The Good Fight" or "Fighting Back": Canada isn't broken. Far from it. True, there's the recent indigenous protests. Teacher and public service strike actions. The environmental movement. We know all is not well. But the robust political activism also show that the democratic tradition is still quite alive and well here in our country. So smile! Maybe there's hope for us yet. The revolution is alive @ Mac @ Guardian

KULTURE KULT INK



Or Look At It This Way: What a great excuse to stay at home with your partner! Especially if you are empty nesters, or don't have kids. Yep! You're not so busy, busy, busy, all the time. On the run, doing this and that. So, what to do now? Ummm ... Well, remember -You can't spell quarantine without U-R-A-Q-T! 

Canadian Style Social Distancing: Hey-ho! It's easy for us true northerners to figure out! Just stand a hockey stick apart @ FD



Caremongering: Everyday Canadian's rally to help each other out, as we bunker down in our homes for the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the country, groups are organizing, often online, to help each other out; especially the elderly and most needy and distressed. It's a very Canadian moment, eh! With most of us understanding that we're all in this together @ WP

COVID-19 Sucks: Yup! Y'bet! Perhaps it'll serve as a call! For a bolder, braver and kinder sense of our basic humanity! As we reach out to help each other! Remembering, that we are all in this together! Right?!? Or maybe not? More @ TJ

In Dreams: R U experiencing vivid dreams that haunt you all day? Worry not! It's all part and parcel of the COVID experience. Here's what they might mean @ InStyle

Off The Road: Yup! All travel plans are on hold for now. Perhaps for the conceivable future. But we can still look at travel pictures! Here's some great ones, from a drone! Fun. Beautiful. But sometimes scary too @ TF


                        A su salud/ to your health -DC

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