Will the Supreme Court Nip the EPA Next?

Too many people judge Supreme Court actions on whether they agree with the outcome, without reference to how the Court said it reached that outcome. Many who cheered when the Court kept the Trump administration from asking citizenship questions on the census cannot be happy with the recent decision respecting vaccination mandates and may be even more unhappy when the Court resolves three challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations on power plant energy production.

This Supreme Court appears to be chipping away at the behemoth Administrative State and the EPA’s regulations on greenhouse gas regulations may be next on the chopping block. That’s the view of Jonathan Adler at Volokh Conspiracy and I think he has a valid claim.

Not so fast, OSHA.

Adler’s thesis begins with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s emergency regulation which mandated that all private employers with one hundred employees  require its employees to be vaccinated against Covid or undergo repeated weekly testing for the virus. The Court ruled that this exceeded the agency’s grant by Congress to protect the health of workers in their place of employment  The Court made clear that without a clear congressional mandate the agency was never given congressional authority to make such  “ a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”

 There is a hint in Chief Justice Roberts and several other members of the court that they believed that the regulation was a pretextual effort to increase Covid vaccinations, and not a workplace safety move. And the scope of OSHA’s mandate is, after all, simply and exclusively workplace safety. The notion that regulations might be held invalid because they were pretextual even if the agency could provide a reasonable justification for them, was signaled  in an earlier case involving the right of the Trump administration to reinstate a citizenship question in the census:

 [T]he Chief Justice's decision to prop open the door to consider pretext invites litigants challenging agency actions to search for evidence -- whether or not in the official record -- to show that they, too, have been the subject of an unlawfully pretextual agency action. There is nothing in the Chief Justice's opinion that suggests this analysis is to be confined to those contexts in which the distribution of political power or other particularly weighty concerns are at stake, and there is much language in his opinion... that could find a ready home in legal challenges against HHS, the Education Department, or the EPA.

This is a departure from the usual view on judicial review . Normally, if the regulators can provide a reasonable justification and the regulation aligns with the statutory mandate, courts will not interfere. It also justifies court consideration of matters outside the text of the regulations itself. In sum, it presaged the OSHA case where the White House chief of staff Ron Klain retweeted that this regulation was a “work around” to increase the number of people vaccinated when there was no authority for an executive order compelling it.

Other evidence of the pretextual nature of the  vaccine mandate regulations is found in its own language--the deciding factor for coverage was the number of employees and not the workplace conditions. So, for example if all those one hundred employees were working from home they were covered by the mandate, but if a ninety nine- employee shop involved people working close together in poorly ventilated settings they were not. Seems fairly obviously irrational, doesn’t it?

Block that pretext!

The left may have cheered the census case outcome -- the Supreme Court remanded the issue back to the lower courts and in so doing delayed inclusion of the question in the census-- but it may come back to bite them as coming up on the docket is a case involving the EPA and its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

This case comes up on several writs of certiorari to the court, challenging a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which held that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had authority under the Clean Air Act  to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Then President Trump rescinded the Obama Administrations Clean Power Plan (CPP) and adopted an Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) in its place. The D.C. court concluded that the Trump Administration's recision was arbitrary and capricious, though it did not compel a reinstatement of the CPP, and the EPA still has not come up with new regulations. In the face of the Supreme Court trend to clip administrative agency wings the EPA is in limbo presently. It has no idea how far the new regulations may sweep.

The three cases upon which the Court granted certiorari broadly question EPA’s authority -- does the Clean Air Act have any limits? What are these administrative boundaries? For example, can the agency ignore cost of compliance, the power of states to set performance standards, reshape the nation’s electricity grid? These, among others, are the questions raised by the three petitioners.

However the Court decides, it is likely to be the most important environmental (and energy) decision cases in the court’s history. And it seems to follow on a partisan attack on the revival of an apparently unrelated citizenship question in the census. On such things does the course of history turn.

Canada: New Kid on the Totalitarian Block

Things are not going well in this country. In fact, things have rarely gone worse. We have a prime minister who has deliberately flouted The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, imposing vaccine mandates that violate several of its sections, in particular Sections 1, 7, 15 and 52(1), which guarantee the life, liberty, security and protection of every citizen under the law without discrimination. Covid has furnished a gilt-edged opportunity to scrap such constitutional provisions.

True to form, Trudeau the Younger has falsely claimed that the uninjected are responsible for the pandemic. He has scapegoated the unvaccinated as “a small, fringe element in this country that is angry, that doesn’t believe in science, that is lashing out with racist, misogynistic attacks [he meant “misanthropist”], and who are taking up spaceDo we tolerate these people?” Obviously not. He went on: “And I know we’ll not allow those voices, those special interest groups, those protesters — I don’t even want to call them protesters, those anti-vaxxer mobs — to dictate how this country gets through this pandemic and how we recover our economy free from lockdowns.”

What Canadians do not seem to understand is that mandatory this eventually leads to mandatory that. Initial consent will often culminate by increments in abject capitulation to the imposition of autocratic measures.

Just ask the Germans.

Taking a page from the Covid dictatorship in Australia, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s News Release of August 13, 2021 earmarks funding for what is euphemistically called the Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites Program. One wonders how “voluntary” such an institution will be. Camps will be built in various municipalities in the provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. Such camps begin to sound suspiciously like internment centers, all in the name of saving us from ourselves. 

Trudeau is cut from the same tattered cloth as Joe Biden, who warned We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated for themselves, their families and the hospitals they'll soon overwhelm.” This is fear-mongering on steroids in an attempt to impose unconstitutional mandates upon the country in defiance of the data showing the vaccines to be largely ineffective and even harmful.

Biden continues: “But there's good news: If you're vaccinated and you have your booster shot, you're protected from severe illness and death.” After two weeks to flatten the curve morphing into two years of masking, quarantining, lockdowns, two initial jabs followed by a growing queue of booster shots, all without provable long-term effect, all waning and helpless against viral mutations (Sources: 1   3   5 ) and perhaps responsible for them, it should be obvious that Biden is a liar from the egg, as is Trudeau.

Regardless of the similarity between the two leaders, there is a crucial difference between Canada and the U.S. In America one can still find enclaves of liberty in the so-called red states, which have abolished Covid mandates, lockdowns, masking and vaxxports. Not so in Canada, where not a single province or territory offers even a modicum of sanctuary for those who oppose a mandatory system and who refuse to allow an experimental and poorly tested gene-therapy vaccine to be injected into their bodies.

But these stalwart souls are a minority. The majority are easily manipulated and seem to have no problem with the gradual march of tyranny into their lives. The extinction of liberty and the tactics of repression can begin slowly and insidiously, aided by a condition that Ghent University professor Mattias Desmet and psychiatrist Mark McDonald call “mass formation psychosis” among the public, until it reaches a a point at which it become too late to withstand the rise of totalitarian regimes.

Nuremberg: the science was settled.

On January 27, 2020, Auschwitz survivor Marian Turski delivered a speech during a memorial commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. “But be careful, be careful,” he warned, “we are already beginning to become accustomed to thinking that you can exclude someone, stigmatize someone, alienate someone. And slowly, step by step, day by day, that’s how people gradually become familiar with these things… Don’t be complacent, whenever you see historical lies. Don’t be complacent, whenever you see the past being misused for current political purposes. Don’t be complacent, whenever any kind of minority is discriminated against… Don’t be complacent, whenever any government violates already existing, common social contracts. Remain faithful to the Eleventh Commandment: Never be a bystander.”

Failing which, the next stages of the process inevitably follow: the stripping of further rights, dehumanization, detention and incarceration, and eventual elimination.

Those who believe it can’t happen here are in for a rude shock. It is happening as we speak. Under the reign of the Trudeau the Younger, and considering the utter lack of opposition parties and a largely compliant and indifferent public, Canada is approaching the inflection point of no return from the precipice of unaccountable government intent on absolute authority and the eradication of Charter freedoms. Despite a number of resistant organizations like No More Lockdowns Canada, Russ Cooper’s C3RF,  Take Action Canada, and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, it seems an uphill battle to Make Canada Canada Again.

Have We Turned the Corner on Covid Hysteria?

It’s taken 18 months, but the world slowly seems to be awakening from the hypnotic spell cast upon it regarding Covid-19.  As data becomes increasingly clarified, the most restrictive countries throw in the towel on containment, and people fight back against vaccine mandates, it’s worth examining how and why we may finally be on the road back to normalcy.

Restrictive Countries Give Up

A funny thing happened in Iceland.  Despite being an island that has restricted travel into the country, vaccinated nearly everyone, instituted a variety of restrictions, and wisely let the public health folks, and not politicians, handle the issue, the virus won. 71 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, with 84 percent of those over age 16 vaccinated, along with 99 percent of those over 70, 96 percent of those aged 60-69, 92 percent of those aged 50-59. Kids under 15 are 16 percent vaxxed. Yet 50 percent of new infections are in vaccinated individuals.

Not if Delta has anything to say about it.

Iceland's Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says widespread vaccination has not led to herd immunity, saying, "What has happened… is that the Delta variant has taken over all other variants in Iceland. And it has come to light that vaccinated individuals can contract it relatively easily and spread infection." The same thing happened in New Zealand.  Even Taiwan, which had one of the lowest Covid counts in the world, could not stop Delta.

Countries Cop To Real Death Rate

Both the U.S. and many other countries have counted any death as being a Covid death if the deceased happened to test positive for the virus.  So while Covid may have been a factor in the death of someone with cardiac disease, but didn’t actually cause death, it is counted as a death.

The CDC quietly added a column to its data sets that separated out deaths that truly resulted only from Covid.  Italy recently did the same thing.  It turns out that 94 percent of US and 97.1 percent of Italy’s listed “Covid deaths” were all due to other co-morbidities.  The media “fact-checkers” nevertheless try to bury this.  They want to keep people afraid, because fear generates clicks.

Vaccine Mandates Get Pushback

Increasing numbers of workers, unions, and government employees are balking at vaccine mandates.  Other than the perpetually corrupt teacher’s union’s, most of the nation’s unions have either opposed or remained cool to vaccine mandates.

First responders have been particularly obstinate in their refusal.  Police in Chicago, L.A. County, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Oregon, the Oklahoma National Guard, and numerous other municipalities are refusing the jabs as well as the mandates.  Some of this is due to simple objection towards experimental vaccines being required of the workforce.  In Leftist areas, the refusal is driven by the union’s desire to make every single thing part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Just say no.

President Biden’s absurd mandate for private employers with over 100 workers has been put on hold by the Fifth Circuit Court and OSHA has backed away from trying to enforce it.  The Sixth Circuit, another conservative course, will now consolidate all the challenges into one case, but in the meantime, thousands of front-line health care workers, who were championed as heroes just months ago, are being fired for refusing the vaccines.

Parents Want Control Over Their Kids

As we discovered in the Virginia gubernatorial election, parents don’t like having control over their kids taken away.  The National Institute for Health pulled together data showing the four categories for vaccine hesitancy “are religious reasons, personal beliefs or philosophical reasons, safety concerns, and a desire for more information from healthcare providers.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found “Parents’ major reasons for not yet getting their children vaccinated include not enough information about the long-term effects of vaccination on children (88%), fears about side effects (79%) and fears the vaccine may impact their child’s fertility (73%).” The poll also found “20% of parents of 12- to 17-year-olds will “definitely not” get their child vaccinated, 9% will only have them get it if the school requires the vaccine and 23% plan to wait and see."

A total of 361 children have died from Covid.  The risk of infection is equivalent to every other age group, but the risk of severity is significantly lower, and risk of death is exponentially more remote.

Have a Merry Covid Christmas!

Vaccines Don’t Stop Infection 

Emerging data out of Vietnam suggests that the vaccinated may actually carry higher viral loads than those who are not, and infecting each other, thereby creating new variants in the process.

It stands to reason that vaccinated individuals are more likely to feel safe and engage in social contact, so that behavior increases in those individuals.  However, because they may contract asymptomatic Covid, they spread it to other unvaccinated individuals.  Couple that with the reducing efficacy of the vaccines over time, and it’s no wonder that faith in the jabs is waning.

What It All Means

Each of these items on their own might not be enough to cause a rebellion, but as the data filters out, resistance to restrictions on life are starting to take hold. People in states like Florida are living normal lives.  It’s only in the backward Leftist enclaves like Los Angeles and New York where one must produce papers to engage in normal activities.  Yet even there, cracks are appearing.

While L A. city now requires vaccine passports for just about any indoor activity, the  County Sheriff has announced he will not enforce the mandates.  There is no way that restaurants and bars with lower price points can or will enforce this nonsense, and many of those locations don’t care whether patrons wear masks in their six-foot-walk from door to table or not.  The question is how long it will take the upper-crust locations to decide that they will not comply.

It’s particularly notable that some school districts, many represented by the corrupt teacher’s unions, are also fighting back against student vaccine mandates.  The Calaveras School District in California refused.  Individual parents are bringing suit.

The other possible factor leading to resistance is people’s lives are now being directly affected by bad Covid policy in new ways, including inflation.  People can’t get products they take for granted because of supply chain issues, and they are costing more. “The Great Resignation” is the result of a wholesale re-examination of the meaning of life, the values we lead, and what we expect from our representatives.

These pockets of resistance are significant.  They were nearly impossible to find six months ago.  People have had enough. This may have just led to a Great Awakening: that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

Who You Gonna Call -- the Covid Cops?

Last January, I wrote a piece here on the Pipeline called “When the Sheepdogs Become the Sheep.” In that piece I lamented the ongoing transformation of America’s police officers from crime fighters to Covid code enforcers. Alas, ten months later, that transformation is coming nearer to completion.

There is a growing chasm among two distinct groups of police officers: those who genuinely invest themselves in the fight against crime, whether as a patrol cop or a detective, and those who seek to promote up the ranks to the higher levels in their departments. A Venn diagram of these groups would show a miniscule intersection of the two circles, and recent events will have that intersection grow smaller still.

Among the cops actually engaged in police work, political considerations have no role in their decisions on whom to stop, detain, or arrest. This is not to say every law violator who comes to a police officer’s notice should be arrested and hauled into court. Every good cop knows the value of discretion. Sometimes there are more serious problems that demand his time, or there may be dividends paid in the future when someone is given a pass for some minor violation.

But the cop interested in promotion sees things differently. He conducts himself so as to please his superiors, who like himself in most cases have their eyes on achieving the next rank. Sad to say, but the interests of those superiors are not necessarily aligned with those of the citizens in the areas they serve. In most American cities, the typical commanding officer of a police station has but one short-term daily goal: to keep his phone from ringing.

Just trying to keep the lid on things.

This is of course in the service of his long-term goal, which is to promote to the next rank. To those unfamiliar with the inner workings of a police department this may seem strange. Surely, you might assume, promotions are achieved through the reduction of crime in one’s area of responsibility. This is not always the case. More often, promotions are won by minimizing problems for the people on the tiers above your own, i.e., by making sure their phones do not ring.

In any police department there is a stratification, a bright line—it’s usually at the rank of sergeant or lieutenant—at which most cops below it are in the first group and most above it are in the second. The higher one goes in the department, the more removed one gets from the grime and tumult of actual police work.

Today, every police executive lives day and night in utter dread of that one phone call, the one that informs him a subordinate has been involved in an incident that soon will be blasted across television news programs and social media, bringing protesters and even rioters to the steps of police headquarters, city hall, and points beyond. It is these incidents that must be avoided, even if at the cost of rising crime.

If you doubt this, consider the city of Minneapolis, on which the nation’s attention was focused following the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd’s death caused panic and consternation throughout the city’s government, with politicians and cops at the higher ranks ever so desperately seeking ways to avoid sharing blame for it.

Since former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for killing Floyd, what news has the typical American heard out of Minneapolis? None. The 16 percent increase in homicides over last year, the 26 percent increase in shooting injuries, the 5 percent increase in robberies, none of these grim statistics has gripped the national attention in a way even close to the way the death of a drug-addicted career criminal did. More death and bloodshed? More robberies? Blame it all on the pandemic; it’s nothing to worry about as long as the satellite trucks aren’t parked in front of police headquarters and the reporters aren’t out there stirring up the rabble.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis...

America’s police officers are getting the message, and in most large cities proactive police work is a thing of the past. Yes, the police are still responding to radio calls. They’re still willing to put up the crime-scene tape and collect the shell casings at a murder scene while waiting for the coroner to haul the body away, and if they figure out who did the killing, they’re happy to arrest him as long as he doesn’t run or fight or do anything else that will make them look bad on Twitter. But when it comes to looking for the guy carrying the gun and stopping him before he does the killing, forget about it; there is no upside to that kind of police work anymore.

America’s police departments, their ranks already shrinking due to recent events, are being diminished further by the imposition of Covid vaccine mandates in many cities. In Chicago, for example, more than 30 percent of the police officers have thus far failed to report their vaccination status as required under the new city policy, and 21 of them have been placed on no-pay status. Chicago is already suffering from high crime, so one shudders to imagine what would happen if a third of its police department is dismissed for failing to get vaccinated. (The sheriffs in three counties near Chicago have said their deputies would not be sent to assist should the need arise).

Some may be surprised to learn that in most cases the police do not have an affirmative duty to protect the public or any individual. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, that police officers in Castle Rock, Colorado, could not be held liable for failing to enforce a restraining order, despite the fact that the failure led to the murder of three children.

So, what is the law-abiding citizen to do in the face of rising crime and retreating police? I recommend the methods adopted by the Eugene, Ore., man described in this news story, who when a burglar entered his apartment in the small hours of Oct. 18, protected his companion and his home as the law allows. Now there is one less burglar to worry the citizens of Eugene, and the town is that much safer for it. If we could but see more stories like this every day, the crime problem would soon take care of itself.

In Canada, Liberty at the Covid Crossroads

I live in a country that has become, for people like me, a vast internment camp. Knowing that vaccine fail is a fact and unwilling to allow an experimental infusion into my body, I have become a social leper. I cannot attend a broad range of public events, visit various facilities and businesses, or dine in restaurants. Now I find I cannot even leave the country, which is my fondest wish. Airlines, ships, and trains are all off-limits for inter-provincial and international travel. Combat-decorated pilot and CEO of Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF) Russ Cooper writes, “the country has become “a police state with mandated ‘jabs’ and passports…We find our civil liberties giving way to martial law.”

I believe my rights as a citizen of a democratic state have been violated by an increasingly autocratic government. I have studied our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and consulted lawyers and constitutional experts on its provisions. I have wondered whether the Nuremberg Code applies to the government’s presumably arbitrary cancellation of our rights and privileges as citizens, and have been told by legal professionals that the relation of the Code to the Charter is a “grey area,” in part because Canada has not formally signed on to Nuremberg, and in part because the relevant sections of the Charter are subject to interpretation.

With regard to the Charter: The import of the principles in question, in particular Sections 1, 6 and 7, remain hotly contested. Section 1 states that rights and freedoms are subject to “reasonable limits.” Section 6 establishes that Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada,” including inter-provincial travel, and Section 7 treats of “the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” 

Rights are a grey area, citoyens!

Section 1 affords the government some latitude, given that “reasonable limits” remains a matter of interpretation—a “grey area” embedded in the very document. Section 6 is clearly being abrogated—there is nothing “grey” about it—but Section 7 can be manipulated in favor of one segment of the population (the “vaccinated”) while punishing another (the “unvaccinated”) “in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”—although it is now known there is scarcely any difference between vaxxed and unvaxxed. Again, the concept of “fundamental justice” may be construed in any number of different ways. It’s as grey as grey gets.

What we call the “rule of law” has become distressingly controversial and unsettled. In an article for the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) Macon University Business Law professor Peter Bowal points to the weakness of the Charter as a legal document, a weakness that renders it exceptionally difficult to show that one’s rights have been infringed, especially as all-important judicial decisions relating to the pandemic thus far “have fallen in line with the governmental and public interest”—that is, the government’s interpretation of “public interest.” Section 32 of the Charter makes it clear that only the government can ensure these rights—in effect, enforce, justify and even reconceive them. Bowal’s treatment of the question is ambiguous as he seems to believe that the burden of proof for abrogation of rights legitimately devolves upon the government, trumping the individual rights claimant.

We are naïve, Bowal argues, in “embrac[ing] and fiercely cling[ing] to the rights delusion,” to assume we have “legal rights entitlement,” or, for that matter, I would add, to repose our trust in the broad-based fairness and independence of the judiciary. I would argue that the government’s interpretation of the Charter is, in essence, apodictic, which does not make its reading of “rights” right. The dilemma is profound and citizens who claim their constitutional rights apparently “have no standing” (to use a familiar legal phrase) in the view of an all-powerful government. It’s not a pretty picture.

With regard to the Nuremberg Code: Its application to considerations of domestic violations of its constituent principles with respect to scientific “experiments” performed on the human person—in particular Section I stipulating that “Voluntary consent is essential,” Section 5 stating that “No experiment should be conducted if it is believed to cause death or disability,” and Section 9 requiring that “Subjects should be able to end their participation at any time”—are not codified in national legal instruments. 

That was then, this is now.

But this inadequacy has been rectified. UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights declares that “human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms are to be fully respected” in all public health legislation and that “the interests and welfare of the individual should have priority over the sole interest of science or society.” And as the prestigious Robert H. Jackson Center in its document on “The Influence of the Nuremberg Trial on International Criminal Law” informs us, the Nuremberg promise and precedent has finally come to pass in the creation of the International Criminal Court. The ICC, based in part on the Nuremberg Charter, with jurisdiction to try genocide, war crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, began functioning in in 1994 and was adopted by the Rome Statute in 1998.

What is especially salient in this connection is the ICC principle of complementarity, which “enacted broad-ranging criminal legislation to ensure that all the crimes within the Rome Statute are covered by domestic penal law… to maximize the potential benefits of the principle of complementarity in the event of allegations against a State’s own nationals.” The principle is notoriously complex but allows for “admissibility” protocols in cases of national failure to prosecute when prosecution seems warranted or when the political intention to prosecute unjustly is evident. “The Court holds a promise,” the Center’s document anticipates, “of putting an end to the impunity that reigns today for human rights violators.”

It is my contention that the Canadian government is precisely such a human rights violator. The “grey area” in the Charter does not seem as grey as government-friendly lawyers, go-along judges and skeptical specialists claim. According to The Epoch Times, Toronto-based litigator Ryan O’Connor believes “[t]here are several sections of the Charter that are implicated by mandating vaccines,” specifically Section 7 as well as Section 15, “which protects individuals from discrimination and that requires equal treatment of individuals before and under the law” (italics mine). 

Similarly, The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms issued a statement condemning federal mandates that translate into the certainty that “unvaccinated Canadians will lose their right to move and travel freely within Canada, their right to leave Canada, and their right to earn a living and participate in society without discrimination.” Such mandates amount to “an egregious and unacceptable infringement” of our constitutional rights. As the Centre’s president John Carpay observes, “No government will violate human rights without putting forward a good-sounding justification, such as the war on terrorism, communism, online hate, drugs, or a nasty virus.”

Blame Canada.

From a combination of ignorance of the accumulating evidence calling the vaccines into serious question and the temptations of political absolutism, the government has breached the civil rights of its citizens—if civil rights are to mean anything at all. It has disregarded the moral implications of the Nuremberg Code, the tenor of the UNESCO indenture and the provisions of the ICC, despite the pious statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the effect that “Canada strongly supports the International Criminal Court… as a key pillar of the rules-based international order.” 

The government has scanted both the spirit of these international instruments and the purport of its own Charter. Like other Western administrations—for example, Australia and the U.S. under Biden—it has eaten away at the foundations of liberal democracy and deliberately eroded the rule of law in everyday life understood as part of the social contract. As Ryan O’Connor asserts, “the crux of the issue is more about politics than it is about public health.” Indeed, it is more about convenient “interpretation” of laws and principles and the levying of coercive measures than about civil liberties, democratic justice and political freedoms.

Government authority, certainly in the case of vaccine mandates, does not rely on reason and debate but on the imposition of power backed by physical force and a largely complicit judiciary. It has no genuine interest in discussion and evidence and no compunction against segregating a substantial cohort of its people whom it denounces as irresponsible. Canada was never intended to be a leprosarium, but much has changed. Canada is now a dictatorial regime, in many ways reminiscent of the former Soviet Union. And the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is cosmetic cover for the enactment of political absolutism. Grey areas don’t mean much to citizens who have been deprived by government decree of their constitutional right, however moot, to participate in common life, travel, work and enjoy the fruits of now-threatened liberty.

When Churchmen Become Apparatchiks

What happens when Christianity meets government tyranny? Does a Christian have to fall into line? What happens when a Christian warrior meets Covid-inspired tyranny? In that case, in the Australian state of New South Wales, tyranny wins.

Back in September 2020, Gladys Berejiklian, then premier of New South Wales, ordained that us churchgoers could worship again, provided we observed social distancing rules and refrained from hymn singing. Subsequently, we’ve been locked out entirely. That’s by the way.

The lesson of the day at my Anglican church was taken from St Paul’s letter to the Romans (13:1-5). The message conveyed by the minister, and certainly received by the congregation, was unmistakable in the circumstances. Disobeying the rules was not just a rebellion against the diktats of Ms Berejiklian but against God’s wishes.

"Leadership": former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

When Jeff Sessions was Attorney General, and under attack, rightly or wrongly, for separating families who had illegally crossed the southern border, he also invoked the bible: “I would cite you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” Sessions, a United Methodist, was no doubt taking a lead from the teachings of his church.

It’s a common enough refrain from churchmen. They construe parts of the New Testament, Titus (3:1-2), Hebrews (13:17), 1 Peter (2:13-14); but, principally, Romans 13, as an instruction to obey the law whatever is the character of the law. It’s nonsense; both theologically and as a matter of common sense.

The passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans begins, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” But instructively, it ends by referring to the need to submit to the authorities as being “a matter of conscience.” Conscience is surely a manifestation of God’s law within us. To a Christian, what else is it? And Peter and his fellow apostles (in Acts 5:29) make the position clear: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

The Old Testament has numbers of confirmatory examples. For example, the midwives (in Exodus 1:15-17) disobeying Pharaoh by delivering Jewish male babies alive. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (in Daniel 3 :12-18) refusing to bow before King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol.

As for common sense, are we to believe that brave Christian families should have obeyed the law and handed in Jewish families to the Gestapo rather than hide them? Other examples abound which test the supposed biblical rule of needing to obey the law and find it wanting. Thus, there is no rule. Laws and their prosecution are no more above disdain than are other spheres of human action.

Martin Luther King Jr. put it well in his letter to white clergymen, written from Birmingham Jail on 16 April 1963:

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law…One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

Leadership.

A tyrannous law can be flouted in good conscience. And nowhere is the Covid-inspired tyranny more evident than it is in Australia. Unlike America and Europe, we have no islands of reason. No Florida; no Sweden. Everyone is onboard. There’s no political opposition; no media opposition. Governments easily get away with senseless restrictions on liberty. The police, their vassals, get away with thuggery, as we have seen most evidently and most disgustingly in Melbourne.

Much touted. Monday October 11. Freedom Day in NSW. I walk past my local pub in a suburb of Sydney. See crowds of youngish people through the doors and windows. None by the look of them at risk from Covid yet all, I know, are fully vaccinated. Part of the in-crowd. Alas, on the outer, I walk on.

I receive an email from my city club. “Welcome back,” it says. “I’m not welcome back at all.” I reply, sullenly.

Have coffee at my local café on so-called “Freedom Day.” My credentials unchecked, I daringly break the law by sitting and ordering a coffee. As a cautionary step, as a lawbreaker, I order my coffee in a takeaway cup and sit at an outside table so that I can quickly move off should the cops come around. Want to avoid a $1,000 fine (yes, that’s three zeros). That was yesterday. Today, I’m moved on. No longer welcome. No seat for me. So, this is what apartheid is like.

It comes to this. Infected people who are vaccinated are free to mingle and infect others. Uninfected, unvaccinated, people who pose no risk to others are barred from mingling. This is probably illegal, offending Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act 1992. It is illogical. And it is, most certainly, unconscionable and may well be in breach of the Nuremberg Code.

There was a reason for this, you know.

Circumstances affect cases. It’s been said often. It bears repeating. Covid presents no serious risk to healthy people. The vaccines are experimental in so far as they have not undergone five to ten years of clinical trials. They are leaky. They do not sterilize the virus. Those vaccinated still catch the virus and pass it on. The effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing serious illness quickly wanes.

On what proper basis then is there justification for the momentous step of making and prosecuting laws (diktats) which discriminately deny inalienable rights to those who make a personal decision not to get vaccinated? I can’t think of one. To me it is tyranny pure and simple.

Cometh the Christian warrior, the new state premier of NSW, Dominic Perrottet. He’s a self-proclaimed conservative; a Catholic; and a family man with six children. He’d previously expressed opposition to vaccine passports. Yet, he is the first to introduce them in Australia. Sure, he just followed the plan laid down by his predecessor Ms Berejiklian, who resigned under a cloud. But he could have stopped it. He didn’t. Tyranny prevailed.

Like Perrottet, I’m a Christian; and usually law abiding. But I have no respect for the diktats which rule my life in Sydney. I disobey the law when I think I can get away with it. My only concern is to avoid being caught and fined. I suffer no moral compunction, no pangs of conscience. I am, for the moment, a free man.

How Covid-19 Killed Academic Tenure

Academic tenure has long been controversial and imperfect—and now, in one fell swoop, it is dead, killed by progressives under the guise of Covid-19 safety. The manner of its killing tells us much about progressives’ respect for individual rights. 

Defenders of tenure for university professors once claimed that it offered necessary protection against the combined forces of corporate funding and political correctness, a multi-headed hydra which if unchecked would prevent academics from conducting honest research into topics of their choosing.

Others argued that tenure was mainly harmful, making it costly to dismiss university faculty members who collected large salaries without fulfilling their teaching and research duties. In practice, as organizations such as the National Association of Scholars and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education warned, tenure repeatedly showed itself incapable of protecting those who needed it most. Dissident intellectuals often found themselves on the wrong side of disciplinary committees, dismissed from their positions for alleged harassment and/or vaguely defined “misconduct.” Many of these academics’ troubles began because they were ideological outliers in a punitively progressivist milieu.  

Guilty!

Until now, however, there was at least a semblance of due process. Though they were often targeted unfairly, persecuted academics were at least notified well in advance of proceedings against them; allowed to attempt a fact-based self-defense; examined by a committee convened for the specific purpose of hearing the evidence; given the opportunity to hire a lawyer or enlist the assistance of their faculty association/union; and if terminated given written notice of their particular transgressions. Inadequate and biased as it often was, some formal fact-finding procedure was observed.

In the time of Covid, however, mass firings are in preparation at universities across North America without even a pretense of case-by-case consideration or rational weighing of evidence—tenure be damned. 

The mere evocation of “safety” is now enough to authorize firings without investigation on grounds not covered by any faculty member’s Collective Agreement and notably without public protest from faculty associations, bodies which once existed solely to protect the working conditions and rights of faculty members. Outside of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, this is an unprecedented situation so far being greeted with stunning silence from the professoriate. 

Under the new Covid dispensation, professors are simply notified that, if they do not produce proof of vaccination by a certain (arbitrarily chosen) date, a disciplinary process will be commenced with an end-point of termination. 

The University of Waterloo, a large research university in southern Ontario, is one among many universities that began sending out the equivalent of pink slips on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct. 11 this year), informing what it called “non-compliant” employees that the deadline to provide proof of vaccination is October 17, 2021.  

The letter, sent to me by a University of Waterloo employee, states that unless “alternative work options” (left conveniently vague) can be found, employees who do not provide the required proof of vaccination will be placed on a 42-day “unpaid suspension,” presumably in order to think over the prospect of the total wreckage of a once-secure and remunerative career. Then, “[i]f the individual remains non-compliant 14 days before the end of the 42-day suspension, they will receive a letter indicating that their pay and benefits will cease as at the end of the suspension.” No appeal procedure is mentioned.

Following up on this dire statement, the letter informs employees that “the vaccination form is quick and easy to complete”—as if mere cumbersome documentation were hindering compliance—and that “personal information will be kept confidential in compliance with statutory privacy requirements and will only be shared with individuals for the purpose of program administration.” It’s presumably a relief to know that, having been coerced to take an experimental medication in order to keep one’s position, the violation takes place under cover of confidentiality. The obvious fact that hundreds of people on campus will easily guess why “non-compliant” employees are being suspended—thus violating the privacy promised—is not acknowledged.   

No science-based rationale is offered for the extraordinary statement of compulsion. The extremely low infection-fatality rate for Covid-19, particularly for healthy individuals under 65 (the super-majority of those studying and teaching on campus) is never mentioned. The now well-documented failure of vaccines to protect against infection and transmission is also left unmentioned; alas, the evidence reveals that vaccinated individuals are just as likely as the unvaccinated to transmit Covid-19, even in conditions where all are vaccinated. The unseemly haste reeks of a political desire to purge the non-conforming. 

No attempt is made in the letter to explain why provisions in the Universal Declaration on Bio-Ethics and Human Rights are flagrantly violated by the measure. The Universal Declaration makes clear that medical treatments must never be coerced, must always be informed and entirely voluntary (not carried out under conditions of duress) and that the good of society or of science must never take precedence over the individual human right to choose. 

No provisions are made in the letter for individuals with natural immunity, which scientific evidence shows to be at least as effective as, and likely far more effective than, vaccination. The humane alternative of enabling the unvaccinated to carry on their duties off campus—as had been done for well over a year before the advent of the vaccines—is gestured toward, but not in any way guaranteed. 

Accommodation is offered only “for unique cases where individuals cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or protected human rights grounds,” but it is not made clear how such accommodation decisions will be made or why university administrators are qualified to make them. One of the main grounds for a human rights accommodation would be an exemption for a sincerely-held religious belief, and it is far from self-evident that a group of secular leftists—with many avowed Marxists—can discern or appreciate the sincerity of any such beliefs.

No velvet glove needed any more.

In a final paragraph full of unintended irony, the letter informs the non-compliant that “If you are struggling with your mental health during these changing times, reach out for support […],” providing the names of various university agencies, none of which, of course, will provide any actual support in resisting the vaccination mandate, and none of which, given the demonizing tenor of communications regarding non-compliance, will likely even be able to express genuine empathy for an employee about to be terminated. If the termination of your employment leads to suicidal despair or health-damaging stress, you’re on your own. 

This is the new university: fully collectivist and tyrannically indifferent to individual rights of conscience or choice. Over the past 30 years, the progressivists infiltrated and took over the academy. Their ruthless determination, always under cover of benign rhetoric about "inclusion" and "safety," should always have been evident; now its vaunting brutality is unmistakable.

Of Covid Mandates and Legal Liabilities

Last month President Biden announced an initiative that he asserts will ‘stop’ the SARS Cov-2 virus. A scientifically implausible objective, his outline included a plan to require all private businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or require weekly testing. The mandates are curious because they burden businesses in unprecedented and legally nebulous ways.

Using a mechanism referred to as an Emergency Temporary Standard through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the administration asserts mandating vaccines will stop the transmission of the virus. However, the vaccine was neither developed for, nor indicated to arrest transmission of the virus. According to the FDA website, the vaccine is intended to “…reduce severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

So why might the Administration be issuing mandates for a vaccine that cannot achieve their stated purpose of ‘stopping the virus”? Consider possible reasons by looking through the lens of liability.

Cross my heart and hope to die.

As business-minded leaders do in the face of government overreach, a response must be developed that helps create certainty for the business. To get there in this case, one must review the most fundamental aspect of a mandate… if the business requires the action as a condition of employment, the business owns the consequence of what happens as a result. Understanding the business of vaccine liability may help a business determine whether it is in its best interest to accept the premise of the Biden Administration mandate, or perhaps consider other strategies, including legal challenges.

An important element of the liability relating to vaccines is whether the individual receives the Emergency Use Authorized (EUA)-version of the vaccine, or the newly FDA-approved, branded-version known as Comirnaty. While there is no difference in the actual drug in the syringe, there are differences in the liability protection offered under EUA for those who manufacture, distribute or in some way deliver the vaccine, compared to the FDA-approved Comirnaty.

According to the Congressional Research Service, “…in order to encourage the expeditious development and deployment of medical countermeasures during a public health emergency, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to limit legal liability for losses relating to the administration of medical countermeasures such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.”

In a declaration effective February 4, 2020, nearly six weeks before the U.S. lock-downs, the HHS Secretary invoked the PREP Act and declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) to be a public health emergency warranting liability protections for covered countermeasures inclusive of the available vaccines. According to the current PREP ACT, the protection against liability reaches into 2025.

Ummm...

All state and local governments, medical providers and related manufacturers and distributors of modalities for treatment of Covid-19 were exempted from liability. So for anyone who receives the EUA- version of the vaccine, which as of this writing is still the only version available in the U.S., one has no recourse from a liability perspective, except in very specific and limited circumstances should one experience an adverse event or die. However, once FDA-approved and sold under the brand name Comirnaty, liability is handled differently. Comirnaty is currently only available in Israel.

Under normal circumstances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) provides compensation for injuries caused by most vaccines routinely administered in the U.S., such as childhood vaccines and non-pandemic seasonal influenza vaccines.

Enter mandated businesses. Once a vaccine is mandated by a private business, an entity not outlined and protected under the PREP Act, nor protected once a branded drug is available on the market, liability protection seemingly does not  exist for businesses.

Looking beyond the PREP ACT, consider the long-term efficacy data currently available. Since vaccines have only been available for a relatively short time, long-term data is simply unknown. However, that doesn’t mean the potential adverse events are not a liability for which a mandated company must model and prepare.

Consider the language from the FDA’s website, pertaining to long-term efficacy of the FDA-approved Comirnaty regarding Myocarditis and Pericarditis.

Additionally, the FDA conducted a rigorous evaluation of the post-authorization safety surveillance data pertaining to myocarditis and pericarditis following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine and has determined that the data demonstrate increased risks, particularly within the seven days following the second dose. The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age compared to females and older males. The observed risk is highest in males 12 through 17 years of age. Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes. The Comirnaty Prescribing Information includes a warning about these risks.

Add to this, we now believe the SARS CoV-2 virus was modified in a Chinese lab and the liability issues are more nebulous. A recently exposed a 2018 grant proposal submitted by Peter Daszak of the Eco Health Alliance, to DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm. The proposal sought funding to engineer a Furin Cleavage site (FCS) into a beta coronavirus. The FCS was intended to increase the virulence of the virus in humans. DARPA deemed it too dangerous and denied the grant.

A year later, in 2019, a beta coronavirus virus with a FCS shows up having potentially ‘leaked’ from a Wuhan lab at which Daszak was coincidently using National Institute of Health (NIH) funding to make gain-of-function modifications to beta family coronaviruses. A significant percentage of the spike protein from the original strain of SARS Cov-2 are in the vaccine now being mandated. What other enhancements were made to that virus and inadvertently stitched into the vaccine? The answers are presently unknown.

Companies must decide whether mandating the vaccine for their most valuable asset, their employees, is a sound business decision. Can businesses confidently assert that without a legal fight, they will not have some liability in the face of potential short and long-term health issues associated with the currently available vaccine?

Electric Vehicle Fires: Nearly Impossible to Extinguish

Here's something you won't hear much about in the mainstream media -- America's firefighters are struggle to develop procedures for dealing with electric vehicles that have crashed and burst into flame. "The problem," explains Jazz Shaw, "is that despite not having a tank full of gasoline, electric cars burn longer and more fiercely than automobiles with internal combustion engines." Why is that?

Damaged banks of lithium-ion batteries contain a lot of residual energy and can keep driving up the temperature (and reigniting everything around them) for many hours. There is currently no official training for how to deal with these fires. Tesla’s own first responder’s guide only advises firefighters to “use lots of water.”

"Lots" seems like an understatement. Shaw reports that back in April it took eight fireman seven hours to get a burning Tesla under control outside of Houston, and they used roughly 28,000 gallons of water to do it, "more than the [entire] department normally uses in an entire month." And that bit about EV batteries "reigniting" is no joke either -- one veteran fireman likened them to a trick birthday candle, the kind that light up again every time they're extinguished.

So, EVs burn like crazy, they require a massive increase in mining for raw materials like lithium and cobalt which are extremely damaging to a variety of ecosystems, and, since they run on electricity which is mostly generated by fossil fuels, they aren't meaningfully reducing carbon emissions anyway.

Why are nations across the world moving towards mandating them again?