This think raccoon wants to get out of the cat tunnel, but he's having some trouble doing so. Time to shed a few pounds!
TORONTO — The crown prince of Saudi Arabia sent a hit squad to Canada in an effort to hunt down and kill a former top intelligence official who knows too much, a civil suit filed Thursday in court in the United States asserts.The 106-page unproven complaint, which reads like a spy thriller, accuses Mohammed bin Salman of orchestrating attempts to silence Saad Aljabri, a permanent resident of Canada.The document describes Aljabri as a 39-year veteran of the government of Saudi Arabia with expertise in national security and counterterrorism. As such, it says, few people know more about bin Salman than he does, including his allegedly corrupt business dealings and creation of a team of personal mercenaries called the Tiger Squad.Those mercenaries, the suit states, were behind the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018.In addition, Aljabri says he had a close working relationship with American intelligence over the decades. He is, he claims, uniquely positioned to threaten bin Salman's standing in Washington."Few places hold more sensitive, humiliating and damning information about defendant bin Salman than the mind and memory of Dr. Saad — except perhaps the recordings Dr. Saad made in anticipation of his killing," Aljabri asserts. "That is why defendant bin Salman wants him dead, and why defendant bin Salman has worked to achieve that objective over the last three years."None of the allegations in Aljabri's claim for damages in United States District Court for the District of Columbia has been tested. Officials with the Saudi embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair would not comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit but said the government was aware of incidents in which foreign actors have tried to monitor, intimidate or threaten Canadians and people in Canada."It is completely unacceptable and we will never tolerate foreign actors threatening Canada's national security or the safety of our citizens and residents," Blair said in a statement. "We invite people to report any such threats to law enforcement authorities."Blair repeated Canada's condemnation of Khashoggi's murder and its support for a proper international investigation, saying that's why Ottawa imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals linked to the killing.Aljabri, a dual citizen of Malta and Saudi Arabia, fled the kingdom in 2017, first to Turkey and then secretly to Toronto, where he now lives. Bin Salman repeatedly ordered him to return home and threatened via instant messaging to "use all available means" and to "take measures that would be harmful to you," the complaint states."We shall certainly reach you," bin Salman allegedly insisted.According to the suit, which also names several top Saudi officials, Tiger Squad members arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport on tourist visas in mid-October 2018, less than two weeks after Khashoggi was murdered."Bin Salman in fact dispatched a hit squad to North America to kill Dr. Saad," the claim asserts.To cover themselves, they entered through separate kiosks but aroused suspicion after claiming they did not know each other, the suit states. Agents with the Canada Border Services Agency denied all but one of them entry, a squad member travelling on a diplomatic passport, it says.Aljabri claims a former colleague, Bijad Alharbi, showed up at his Toronto telecommunications company office posing as an investor and tried to persuade him to go to Turkey to visit family. Although he refused, Alharbi had succeeded in pinpointing Aljabri's location so the Tiger Squad could find him, the suit states."Bin Salman now plans to send agents directly through the United States to enter Canada by land and, once and for all, eliminate Dr. Saad," he says. As a pressure tactic, the claim asserts bin Salman has ordered the detention and kidnapping of Aljabri's family members. Two of his children "disappeared" in mid-March and other relatives have been arrested, detained and tortured. He also says Saudi agents hacked his smartphones and froze his bank accounts.Bin Salman took power in Saudi Arabia after then-crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef was ousted in 2017. Human rights groups accuse him of bloody ruthlessness, including the killing of Khashoggi, whose body has never been found.The lawsuit also names Bader Alasaker, the head of bin Salman's private office. It accuses him of recruiting, training and bribing U.S.-based employees of Twitter to obtain confidential information about critics of bin Salman in the United States, now subject of criminal proceedings in the U.S.Aljabri's American lawyers would not discuss the case, saying they would make arguments in court.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 6, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Parents of the two million students in Ontario schools face a choice this month: whether to opt for fully-online learning for September as a way to reduce their children's risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the classroom.The Ministry of Education is requiring all school boards to provide the option of full-time remote learning as an alternative to coming to school when the doors reopen next month. The province's reopening plan has elementary students in class five days a week with no shrinking of their normal class sizes, while high school students in large urban centres have a mix of online learning and face-to-face teaching in classes of no more than 15. School boards across Ontario will survey parents in the coming weeks to find out how many students won't be attending in-class instruction and instead will learn online. Few parents would choose the fully-online option if schools were better set up to prevent the spread of COVID-19, says Annie Kidder, executive director of the People For Education advocacy group. "I think that we're going to see divisions along socioeconomic lines," Kidder said in an interview with CBC News. "That divide will be incredibly problematic for all kids."Kidder predicts wealthier and more empowered families are the most likely to opt for the online-only model."Online learning, especially for younger kids, really does involve parents and not all parents have the same capacity to support their kids in doing that," she said.After the sudden closure of schools when the pandemic hit in the spring, teachers around Ontario were largely left to themselves to figure out how to deliver their lessons online. The results were, at best, mixed."The biggest caution in this is for students who were already at a disadvantage," said Kidder. "For some kids who were already struggling, online learning was difficult if not impossible. We have to make sure that we're not just writing those kids off." Premier Doug Ford says the online option gives parents a choice if they fear the risks of sending their children to class."They don't have to put their kids in school. They can keep them home and do online learning," Ford said during his daily news briefing Tuesday.Asked Wednesday how his government will ensure the quality of online instruction this fall, Ford didn't answer the question directly, but expressed a preference for in-class learning. "It all depends on the teacher," said Ford. "When you have a phenomenal teacher, you just seem to do better in their class."The Ministry of Education says it will soon outline standard requirements for the distance learning model, including how much teaching must be "synchronous," with the teacher providing live remote instruction to students. Various school boards have begun revealing some specifics about their fully remote option, including how online instruction would differ from the youngest to oldest students, and the policies on switching to and from the at-home model."We had some real success stories from the first go round with remote learning," said Kathy Witherow, associate director of education at the Toronto District School Board. However, full-time online learning this fall will look different from what it was in the spring, Witherow told a meeting of trustees this week. For TDSB elementary students in the fully remote-learning option, one teacher would be assigned to each grouping or cohort, Witherow said.The teacher would use a mix of teaching the entire group at the same time and splitting time among small groups. As well, students would spend time on individual and group work without the teacher. Board educational staff who specialize in online learning will work with the classroom teachers who take on the fully-remote cohorts to help them develop their course content.TDSB high school students choosing the fully online option would do two courses at a time in each of the four "quadmesters" dividing the school year, the same structure as for students coming to in-class instruction, said Witherow.The fully-online secondary students would spend the morning on one course and the afternoon on the other, with at least 90 minutes daily in each course connected online with their teacher.The province's second-largest school board, the Peel District School Board, is asking parents to register for the online-only model by Aug. 14. "Students who choose this option will only receive instruction at home through distance learning, but families will be able to choose in-person at another point in the school year," said the Peel board in a recent posting on its website."This instruction will be delivered by Peel board educators, but not necessarily by staff assigned to a particular school or class." The Ottawa Catholic School Board is asking parents of elementary students who choose the fully-online option to commit to sticking with it for three months and for high school students to commit until January, for the entire first semester. "Your children will be assigned to a class grouping as they would in a conventional school year," the Ottawa Catholic board says in a memo to parents."Assigning students will allow class groupings to be maintained despite the form of delivery that is in place."
An incomplete tunnel found stretching from Arizona to Mexico appears to be “the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history," authorities said. The tunnel intended for smuggling ran from San Luis, Arizona, to a Mexican neighbourhood and had a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system and extensive reinforcement, federal officials said Thursday. “This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl E. Landrum, acting chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol's Yuma Sector.
Beirut's deadliest peace-time explosion was caused after ammonium nitrate being stored near the port ignited. The blast on Tuesday killed at least 145 people, injured 5,000, and left a quarter of a million homeless.
The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. "Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up," the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when it announced the loss on Sunday.
Recent developments: * Experts say the pandemic is causing more drownings and near-drownings on open water.What's the latest?Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 19 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the capital in their Thursday report, right around the city's two-week average.A drowning prevention expert says the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to shifts in where people are getting into trouble on the water — and it might be time to change safety messaging to focus more on rivers.Quebec is getting ready to update its back-to-school guidelines and school administrators and teachers hope it includes a mandatory mask policy for high school students such as in Ontario.A group of parents are pushing that province for better online learning.WATCH | Pascale Arpin's traditional skills are in demandHow many cases are there?There have been 2,576 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa since the pandemic began. The number of deaths is at 264.The majority of cases in the city — 2,105 — are classified as resolved.In all, public health officials have reported nearly 4,000 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 3,300 cases resolved.COVID-19 has killed 102 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 17 in other parts of eastern Ontario and 33 in the Outaouais.Experts analyzing blood tests have said this week the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Ontario could be four times more than previously confirmed and in Quebec, more than twice as many.What's open and closed?Ottawa is now in Stage 3 of Ontario's reopening plan, which means many more businesses are allowed to reopen, including dine-in restaurants and movie theatres.Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 are now allowed in that province but attendees must adhere to physical distancing guidelines.Quebec has similar rules, with its cap on physically distanced gatherings in public venues now up to 250 people, allowing smaller festivals.More museums are opening to the public, with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum opening to the public Saturday.Most Ottawa Public Library branches will be open for in-person browsing and computer use Aug. 17.Elementary students in Ontario will be heading back to school full time come September, while most high school students will split their time between the classroom and online learning, depending on the board. Quebec's back-to-school plans will bring students to classrooms again this fall.WATCH | Quebec school plan update comingDistancing and isolatingThe coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes on another person or object. People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.That means physical distancing measures such as working from home, meeting others outdoors as much as possible and keeping distance from anyone they don't live with or have in their circle, including when you have a mask on.Masks are now mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, where transit officials and taxi drivers are now required to bar access to users over age 12 who refuse to wear one.Masks are also recommended outdoors when you can't stay the proper distance from others.Anyone who has symptoms or travelled recently outside Canada must self-isolate for at least 14 days.Anyone waiting for a COVID-19 test result in Ontario must self-isolate at least until they know the result. Quebec asks people waiting to only self-isolate in certain circumstances.People in both provinces should self-isolate if they've been in contact with someone who's tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly urges self-isolation for people with weakened immune systems and OPH recommends people over 70 stay home as much as possible. Top medical officials say people should be prepared for the possibility COVID-19 restrictions last into 2022 or 2023.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pinkeye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can be tested at one of three sites.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.WATCH: When testing may not be as usefulIn the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area, there is a drive-thru centre in Casselman that can handle 200 tests a day and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.Others in Alexandria, Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is hosting the city's test site. Find it at Gate 2.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call for an appointment.You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre and in Picton by texting or calling.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.It has a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.Renfrew County is testing in five communities this week with an appointment and at home under some circumstances.Residents should call their family doctor and those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 to register for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents now can get a walk-in test in Gatineau five days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond and at recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.They can call 1-877-644-4545 to make an appointment or if they have other questions.WATCH | The National's COVID-19 Q&AFirst Nations:Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Ten of them are active as of Monday, most linked back to a gathering on an island with a non-resident who wasn't showing symptoms at the time.It has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. It's 100 miles or 160 kilometres away on the American side.Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. Face coverings are now mandatory in its public buildings.People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.Kitigan Zibi is planning for an Aug. 29 election with changes depending on the status of the pandemic at that time. It plans on starting to open schools and daycares next month.For more information
NEW YORK — The filmmakers behind “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein” moved quickly when Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on federal charges that she acted as a recruiter for the financier’s sexual abuse.The fourth episode of the new Lifetime docuseries, which was intended to be a round-table with survivors, was redone to focus on Maxwell’s alleged crimes and her grooming of potential victims.Filmmakers also incorporated more of Maxwell's story into the series overall and conducted additional interviews. The four-part series will be delivered at Lifetime just days before its Sunday premiere.“If your timing can be great, our timing was great,” said executive producer Robert Friedman.This wasn't the first time the filmmakers had to regroup. Production was underway when the 66-year-old Epstein killed himself in his New York City prison cell last August after his arrest on sex trafficking charges. He had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. In lawsuits, women say the abuse spanned decades.Ricki Stern, a co-producer and co-director, said Epstein's death “opened up the opportunity to say to their interview subjects, ‘You don’t have to hold anything back. The guy is dead.' We can now speak in some ways more openly and honestly and with details that I think had he not been found dead, there may have been more legal manoeuvring and careful consideration around."However, adds co-producer and co-director Anne Sundberg, for the victims, "there was a feeling of real helplessness in the wake of Epstein’s death and with all the battles over the settlement of his estate, there was a sense there will never be any clarity or justice. To finally have a shot at it (after Maxwell's arrest) is remarkable.”Maxwell’s arrest just a month before the series' premiere triggered “a race, but definitely worth it” said Sundberg. ”We're about to pass out," joked Friedman. “The team has been great. We're working to tell a story basically in real time."Maxwell, 58, incarcerated since her July 2 arrest at her New Hampshire estate, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging she sometimes joined in the abuse of the girls, which included one who was 14.As Maxwell's case plays out in court, Friedman says the intention is "to tell this as a continuing story.”Lifetime is also responsible for the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated “Surviving R. Kelly.” It wasn’t until after the airing of that series in 2019 that the investigation into the singer intensified under a global spotlight. Kelly is now in jail, facing charges on a variety of crimes in three states.Lifetime has partnered with Rise, a national non-profit trying to eliminate racial discrimination, to run a public service announcement featuring Epstein survivors during the airings of the documentary to call for a sexual assault survivors' bills of rights. It will also air a PSA from the anti-sexual assault organization, RAINN, to provide hotline information and resources for those in need.Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press
As the September school start looms closer — and parents and educators continue to express anxiety about the roll-out — B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer called for cooperation, kindness and compassion."Out of fear and concern, it can be tempting to shut our doors and turn our backs on each other. That's not what we have been doing in B.C.," Dr. Bonnie Henry said at the pandemic update press conference Thursday.The July 29 announcement that the majority of B.C. students will head back to in-class school this fall, organized into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come into contact with, along with other safety measures, has received mixed reaction among parents, teachers and other educators. Many are concerned about how young children will be able to adequately practice physical distancing and proper hygiene, whether schools will be adequately organized by September, and most importantly, whether children and adult staff members will transmit the virus or fall sick.Henry was gently persistent in her messaging: "Keeping schools closed has a cost well beyond education."Citing the gravity of her decision to shut schools down in March when cases spiked, Henry said there have been many unintended downsides to the school closure for many of B.C.'s students. School can be a refuge "For many children in this province, they don't have the resources to work virtually. For many children in this province, being at school is where they get health care. It's a safe place for them. It's a place where they can get psychological support, where they may get a meal," she said. "There are many more things associated with our school community that are incredibly important for child health and growth, and for the future of children in our province." Henry said since the March school closure, more information has been gleaned about how children are affected by the virus and the role they play in its transmission.Ways to control transmission"We know a lot more now," she said, adding the severity of the illness in children is very mild and while they can transmit the disease, there are measures available to control the spread.There will be layers of protection in schools to allow children, teachers, educators and staff to be there safely, said Henry.Some of these measures include the cohort groups, staggered arrivals at school, limiting the number of adults coming into the building, using masks in certain settings like school buses, increasing opportunities for handwashing and increased physical distancing.Schools have never been 'zero-risk'"We do need to remember that school has never been a zero-risk environment in terms of infectious diseases. We get influenza. We get measles," she said."If there's a case of COVID, we have a plan. We know what to do. We minimize it and any risk of transmission and we support people who are infected."Henry said it's important to work cooperatively and collaboratively and think differently about what school would look like."People are thinking of the school that they left in March. It is different now," said Henry."You can make a classroom safe. It means taking out lots of things that may have been in there before ... We have to think differently."
Thousands of opposition supporters clapped, cheered and chanted at a rally in Minsk on Thursday evening, defying a crackdown by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko's government ahead of a presidential election this weekend. Lukashenko, a 65-year-old former Soviet collective farm manager, is facing the biggest challenge in years to his rule and accuses protesters of being in cahoots with foreign backers to destabilise the country. Protests have swelled in support of his main challenger Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who launched her bid after her husband, who planned to run, was jailed.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to central and Eastern Europe next week to discuss efforts to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the region and talk about U.S. troop deployments on the continent. The State Department said Thursday that Pompeo will visit the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria and Poland on a weeklong trip that is only his third overseas since the coronavirus outbreak. Pompeo briefly mentioned the trip at a news conference Wednesday in which he said the countries he will visit beginning on Tuesday are all “great friends of the United States.”
The Trudeau government is promising to impose retaliatory tariffs on American products after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday he is restoring an import tax on raw aluminum from Canada later this month. "In response to the American tariffs, Canada intends to swiftly impose dollar-for-dollar countermeasures," Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a written statement.
BEIJING — China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.The brief court statement gave no details but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and began making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms (266 pounds) of the drug from Xu's home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful pain killer that has become popular among club goers in China and elsewhere.Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company's dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a multinational drug smuggling case.China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola seed oil, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said there was no connection between Xu's sentencing and current China-Canada relations.“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures," Wang said at a daily briefing Thursday. “This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations."Like many Asian nations, China deals out stiff penalties for manufacturing and selling illegal drugs, including the death penalty. In December 2009, Pakistani-British businessman Akmal Shaikh was executed after being convicted of smuggling heroin, despite allegations he was mentally disturbed.“Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes," Wang said. “China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law."The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:08 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2020:There are 118,561 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 60,133 confirmed (including 5,687 deaths, 50,886 resolved)_ Ontario: 39,809 confirmed (including 2,783 deaths, 35,906 resolved)_ Alberta: 11,296 confirmed (including 205 deaths, 9,984 resolved)_ British Columbia: 3,881 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,315 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 1,387 confirmed (including 19 deaths, 1,164 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,005 resolved)_ Manitoba: 459 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 348 resolved), 15 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 266 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 176 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)_ Yukon: 14 confirmed (including 11 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 118,561 (15 presumptive, 118,546 confirmed including 8,966 deaths, 103,104 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest COVID-19 updates from Canadian officials, health experts and politicians.
Now that wearing a mask to the mall, to the hairdresser and to school will be a regular occurrence for the next two years or more, a lot of questions have arisen about how it will fit into our busy lives.Masks have recently become mandatory indoors in many cities across Canada and in the entire provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also recommending masks in schools for children over age 10, something that some provinces have already mandated.Most of us have a handle on the basics, such as what types of masks there are and how to safely put them on and take them off.We've also previously answered questions about: * The best materials. * Whether to use a filter. * How to sneeze or cough with a mask * How to stop your glasses from fogging up while wearing one. * Whether to wear goggles or face shields with your mask.That said, now that we're out and about while wearing masks a lot more than before, here are the answers to some more questions you might have.Is it safe to pull down my mask and keep it under my chin?You've probably seen lots of people doing this as they move back and forth between indoor spaces where masks are typically required and outdoors spaces where they're not.Is this safe? "No, that is probably the worst thing you could do with the mask," Dr. Zain Chagla, a professor and infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, said in a recent interview with CBC News.WATCH | What's the safest way to wear a mask when not using it?That's because it risks getting droplets or germs on the outside of the mask onto your chin and lower lip, he says. "You're basically putting all that stuff in your mouth and defeating the purpose of wearing a mask."And of course, pulling the mask down often involves touching the front of it, which is not recommended, as it could contaminate your hands. (Remember that you should only hold the mask by the ear loops and wash your hands before and after).The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted when infectious droplets enter through the eyes, nose or mouth.Can I hang a mask on my rearview mirror between uses?Dr. Anand Kumar, a professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba, says that depends on the level of risk it's been exposed to."As a physician, given the exposure I get in the hospital, I probably wouldn't do it," he says.Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an associate professor at the University of Alberta's Division of Infectious Diseases in Edmonton, has previously recommended against it, too.But Kumar acknowledges that the risk of infection in most public places in Canada is currently low, and if you were wearing a mask in a low-risk environment, it's probably OK to leave it hanging from the mirror overnight to wear the next day. That said, ideally you should change and wash your mask after each use.What's the best way to stow a mask while on the go?The federal government recommends storing your face mask in a paper bag, envelope, or something that won't retain moisture if you will be wearing it again.Kumar notes that a plastic bag isn't recommended because it keeps moisture in, which could allow bacteria to grow on the mask.He says the proper way to way to carry a mask with you is in a paper bag. However, he acknowledged this can be awkward, and said in places where the risk is low, it's OK to put the mask in your pocket.On the other hand, Kumar says in a higher-risk environment, such as a community with outbreaks, it's best to keep the mask on at all times, even when you're outside between buildings."If you're putting the mask on and off, it gives you more chances to contaminate yourself with it," he says.WATCH | Guidelines on how to wear a mask safely:Can you reuse a disposable mask? How many times?While cloth masks are designed to be washed and reused, most medical-style disposable masks are officially designed for a single use — especially in higher-risk environments.But Kumar says you can reuse them, especially if you're just out and about in an area with a low prevalence of COVID-19. Between uses, he recommends leaving the mask in a paper bag for at least three days. During that time, any virus on the mask will gradually decrease.He says it would be "perfectly reasonable" to have five to seven masks that are rotated into use on subsequent days.How many times can you reuse a disposable medical-style mask?Kumar says with this type of mask, what you see is what you get, so you can reuse it until it's dirty, worn or damaged. "Obviously, you don't want to reuse a mask that's soiled," he says.N95 masks can also be reused, Kumar says. Can you clean a disposable mask between uses?Yes. Medical-style disposable masks can be steamed or exposed to sunlight to kill the virus more quickly, Kumar says.Experts don't recommend using cleaners or especially disinfectants on such masks, as you could end up breathing them in the next time you use it.Kumar says N95 masks contain filters that can be damaged with improper cleaning, but they can be safely steamed.Of course, for cloth masks, washing in the laundry is "the most effective, easiest thing to do."What should I look for when choosing a reusable mask?As masks become a bigger part of daily life, you'll probably need more of them — like socks and underwear. Reusable cloth masks are generally recommended to maintain a supply of disposable, medical masks for essential workers who need them.Given the huge variety of styles and prices, what should you look for?Kumar suggests a mask: * With multiple layers, as additional layers add more protection. (The World Health Organization recommends three layers). * With a good fit — the shape doesn't matter, just the fit, since a tighter fit forces air through the mask instead of around it.In terms of materials, he recommends cotton, since viruses remain detectable in some synthetic materials for a longer time. The World Health Organization recommends cotton or other water-absorbing materials for the inner layer, but recommends synthetic, water-repellent materials for the outer layer.A higher price doesn't mean a mask is better, Kumar says. His favourite cloth mask cost $4.How many masks should your child have for school?Alberta, which will require teachers and students in Grade 4 and up to wear masks in schools, is providing two cloth masks per student. But Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a Burlington, Ont., family physician who advocates wearing face masks in public places to curb COVID-19, thinks students will need more to allow time for some to go through the wash.She recommends that a child go to school each day with two clean masks and switch to a new one after lunch.
Abbotsford teen Quan Michaels has mostly recovered from the scrapes and bruises he suffered when he was hit by a car last month in Langley, but he says he is still in shock from the racial slur hurled at him after he'd been knocked to the ground. The 16-year-old was on his longboard, riding down 68th Avenue with a friend on the afternoon of July 24 when he says a white Mercedes started following him.Michaels said he signalled to indicate he would be moving aside to make way for the driver, but then he heard the vehicle picking up speed and getting closer.Instead of passing, the driver hit him from behind, knocking him to the pavement. Then, while Michaels was on the ground bleeding, the driver allegedly opened his window and yelled, 'you f--king ch--k,' a derogatory term referencing his Asian heritage.Michaels' mother, Roselee Kucharek, is angered by the incident. "Just absurd to hit a kid and then to take off. It's obviously quite upsetting as a parent to know that something like that could happen to your own child," Kucharek said.She says she had to take her son to hospital a couple of days after the crash because her son's wounds had become infected. "To this day, I don't understand. At the end of the day, everybody is a different coloured skin. Does that really matter, how you look? I mean it's what you do as a person, how you are as a human being," Kucharek said.Langley RCMP confirm that officers attended the scene of the crash and a case was opened on July 24. They encourage anyone who experiences a racially motivated attack to report it.The alleged attack on Michaels comes as the number of reported anti-Asian crimes has risen across Metro Vancouver since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vancouver Police Department launched a new task force last month in response to the increase in reported hate crimes. Complaints dealing specifically with anti-Asian racism spiked from seven in 2019, to 66 in the first six months of the year. There have been reports of verbal assaults across the region, and a 92-year-old Asian man was knocked to the ground at an East Vancouver 7-Eleven in March. Kucharek said as a family, they've never experienced racism, and the reality is still sinking in. She said if Quan had been struck any harder, he could have been killed.Michaels — who identifies as half Asian, half white — feels lucky he was able to walk away with minor injuries, but said this isn't an experience that will soon leave him. "At first it was all just shock," he said. "My message to that driver, honestly, grow up. It's 2020, we should be looking past faces at this point. It's the mind that matters, the heart," Michaels said.He wants to see parents starting to teach their kids at an early age about racism and its impacts."Otherwise we're going to be stuck in the exact same place we were at in 1940. If we can get past that, I think we'd be a great society," Michaels said.Now, having a younger brother, he worries about what he might face as he gets older."I'm honestly a little scared, because he honestly looks a little Asian, despite being half white."As for his mother, she has one simple message for the driver that allegedly struck her son and chose to hurl a racist insult at him afterward."With everything happening in the community and the world we would just think people would have a little more compassion or a little bit more common sense," she said.
Researchers from three Maritime universities are hoping microbes collected from the bottom of a lake near an abandoned gold mine in Dartmouth, N.S., will provide a model for how to clean up contaminated sites across the province in a quicker and less-intrusive way.Last May, a research team took a boat to the middle of Lake Charles, not far from the former Montague gold mine, where extensive mining took place from 1860 to about 1940.They lowered a plastic tube 30 metres into the water and scooped up 200-year-old sediment, which provides a snapshot of the lake before, during and after the mine was in operation.Josh Kurek, an associate professor of environmental science at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., said preliminary findings show a striking increase in both mercury and arsenic at Lake Charles after mining began. In some cases, the concentration of toxins was 30 times higher than levels known to harm aquatic life, he said."Although these mines are no longer in operation and haven't been for many, many decades, there still is a risk with being exposed to fairly high levels of extremely nasty contaminants like arsenic and mercury," Kurek said.Last year, Halifax Regional Municipality cautioned that Barry's Run, which connects Lake Charles to the Montague gold mine, was not safe for people to use.Kurek said it appears the arsenic in the lake stays locked in the sediment for years, and that it actually rises up within the sediment and potentially into the water.But while the lake bottom reveals the damage mining can do to the surrounding environment, there could be solutions buried in the sediment too.The research team, led by Linda Campbell at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, is now trying to see whether microbes in the sediment can help remediate mine sites in the future."We want to develop a treatment that you would apply … on the site and that would block the arsenic and the mercury from accumulating, and you could either then replant with native plant seeds or just allow the site to recover naturally," she told CBC's Information Morning.How can microbes help?The key to this treatment lies in the DNA of certain microbes that are able to make some contaminants less harmful.Landon Getz, a microbiology PhD student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said that's the beauty of working with microbes. If you can think of something you want done, there's probably a microbe already doing it."If we can identify what … microbes are actually doing this work to convert the bio-available toxic chemicals into less toxic ones, we might be able to speed up remediation in orders of decades," Getz said.This phase of the team's research is still preliminary, but it's promising, Campbell said.Thanks to more funding, researchers will reconvene in the lab this fall to test microbes in artificial ecosystems, called mesocosms, she said."We hope to start with a beaker mesocosm system in our laboratory to test a few simple interactions, then scale up to larger wetland mesocosms to see how our approaches work in more complex settings," Campbell said in an email. "That way we can make sure our approaches are safe, effective, environmentally friendly and practical."She hopes the treatment her team develops will be used alongside other remediation efforts now that the province is working to clean up dozens of historic mine sites littered across the province.Last year, the Nova Scotia government announced it would spend $48 million to clean up two of the most contaminated former mines — Montague Gold Mines and Goldenville on the Eastern Shore."Remediation projects often must incorporate an array of approaches depending on the site," Campbell said. "Being able to treat the contaminated site to reduce the movement of toxic contaminants there, and to support the natural recovery of more healthy ecosystems would be an excellent option to have."Nova Scotia's acting auditor general released a report last week pointing to major gaps in how the province manages contaminated sites.While Campbell applauds the province's commitment to addressing issues raised by the auditor general, she said the work can't wait."Over a hundred years later, it's still an issue, and we can't afford to wait another 100 years," she said.Department of Lands and Forestry spokesperson Marla MacInnis said the province has hired a consultant to create a closure plan for the Montague and Goldenville mines, and it is working on assessing and developing plans for the 67 remaining former mine sites."These sites don't pose an immediate risk, but they need to be managed and we have made a significant investment to mitigate the impact," she said.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Beloved TV sitcom dad Alan Thicke is being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Friday for a trio of popular theme songs he helped create.The late actor, who grew up in Kirkland Lake, Ont., will be celebrated as co-writer of the catchy opening numbers for prime time classics "The Facts of Life," "Diff'rent Strokes," and game show "Wheel of Fortune."His son, singer Robin Thicke, will appear as part of a posthumous induction ceremony airing on Global's "The Morning Show" on Friday at 9 a.m. ET.Thicke died of a heart attack in 2016 at the age of 69.While the actor's career will be forever linked with his role as psychiatrist dad Jason Seaver on "Growing Pains," he was also an active songwriter who helped compose more than 40 television themes, according to organizers at the hall of fame.His work on game show ditties was especially vibrant, and included the theme to "The Wizard of Odds," a 1973 American program hosted by a young Alex Trebek.Thicke also made occasional forays into pop music, most notably Bill Champlin's 1981 hit "Sara."But it's "Big Wheel," the jazzy original theme to "Wheel of Fortune," that is taking a spot in the hall of fame. The song opened the legendary game show from 1975 to 1983.Later he penned "(It Takes) Diff'rent Strokes" alongside his first wife Gloria Loring and producer Al Burton for the 1978 show "Diff'rent Strokes," about a mixed-race family in Manhattan. Thicke sang backing vocals.The jaunty theme for "Diff'rent Strokes" spinoff series "The Facts of Life" might be his best-known TV effort, propelled by its much recited lyrics:"You take the good, you take the bad / You take them both and there you have / The facts of life, the facts of life."Thicke, who went on to star in the TV comedy "Hope & Gloria" and had a recurring role on "How I Met Your Mother," often spoke about how great theme songs with unforgettable lyrics had fallen by the wayside in recent years."'Boardwalk Empire' or 'The Sopranos' are some very memorable shows lately, but not with lyrics," he said in a 2015 interview with The Canadian Press."The perky little lyric, internal rhyme scheme days are over ... and the reason for that is that on broadcast television especially, they're so competitive now they want to start the story right away."— with files from Victoria AhearnThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020. Follow @dfriend on Twitter.David Friend, The Canadian Press
B.C. Premier John Horgan says he understands parents, students and teachers are anxious about the September school restart amid the pandemic. He says his government wouldn't put children at risk if the danger was overwhelming.