Sea lion emerges from the water with a fish in his mouth, much to the dismay of the surrounding seagull.
Sea lion emerges from the water with a fish in his mouth, much to the dismay of the surrounding seagull.
New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that one-third of children who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms, but in those that did, loss of taste/smell, headache, fever and nausea/vomiting were most strongly associated with positive cases.Other flu-like symptoms — including cough, runny nose and sore throat — were the most prominent symptoms in positive cases, but the study suggests they couldn't be used to accurately predict which cases were positive because they were also most prominent in COVID negative cases.The study, published Monday, was done by researchers at the University of Alberta who analyzed 2,463 COVID-19 test results from children in the province between April 13 to Sept. 30. They compared symptoms of those who tested positive (1,987) with those who were negative (476) for infection.Eight per cent of kids with positive COVID tests had loss of taste/smell, versus one per cent of kids who tested negative for the coronavirus, and four per cent had nausea or vomiting (vs. less than one per cent of those testing negative).Headache was a symptom in 16 per cent of positive cases, compared to six per cent in negative cases, and 26 per cent of positive cases had fever, compared to 15 per cent.Dr. Finlay McAlister, one of the authors of the study, says those symptoms were associated more with having COVID rather than some other virus. He says cough, runny nose, and sore throat were equally common in kids who didn't have COVID but may have had another virus.Symptoms of fever or chills, cough and runny nose in this study (19 to 26 per cent) were less frequent than in studies conducted in hospital settings. The authors of the study suggest that was because this was a community-based cohort and cases of disease were likely more mild than those seen in hospitals.Children aged four and younger were more likely to test negative, and teenagers (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to test positive.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand.McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm.McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business.“The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data.The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion.McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time.And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix.The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to 127.5 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group.“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday.Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers.Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety.Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose almost 2% Tuesday.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
Rochelle Pokeda is having to do things a little bit differently with her home-based business — Norwex with Rochelle — in the fall of 2020. Ordinarily, she’d be busy filling her orders at various pre-Christmas craft fairs. But the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health orders have closed the doors on such events for now. Without that income to help her cover the costs of her own Christmas celebrations, Pokeda has had to think outside the box — so she has rented space at Sahali Mall, with her final two days being Dec. 4 and Dec. 5. “We are going to sell our products so people can come in, look, touch, feel, and get away from the computers and have a little bit of that human interaction,” Pokeda said of her cleaning and personal-care household products. She is teaming up with another home-based business — Daunte Tropics with Dawn, which creates glass block designs as well as one-of-a-kind silk floral home decor — in the pop-up store endeavour. But Pokeda is also using her pop-up store to help raise money for the local Salvation Army. She is donating 10 per cent of every sale over $100 to the Salvation Army's Adopt-A-Family program. Pokeda is also accepting gifts and cash donations for the families in the program. She hopes to be able to support a number of families through the Sally Ann program. “I would love to be able to have the fun of doing the shopping myself, but I also understand that it may not look like that this year,” she said. “I’m talking with Kelly [Capt. Kelly Fifield of the Salvation Army] and we’ll figure out how best it’s going to suit them and the families.”Todd Sullivan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
New restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 are being introduced in the Halifax region — the current epicentre of Nova Scotia's outbreak.The restrictions apply to western and central parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, from Hubbards to Porters Lake. It also includes the communities of Enfield and Mount Uniacke to the north of Halifax, which are part of Hants County (see full map here).They come into effect midnight Wednesday and will continue for at least two weeks until midnight Dec. 9.Here's a guide to what can remain open and what has to close under the new restrictions:What's open * Public schools, with the exception of those where cases have been identified. * After-school programs. * Child care. * Hairstylists, estheticians and nail salons, except for procedures that cannot be done while a patron is masked. * Grocery stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Retail stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Liquor stores, including distilleries, wineries and breweries, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Pharmacies, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Restaurants and coffee shops for takeout or delivery only. * Hotel restaurants for hotel guests only.What's closed * Restaurant dining rooms, bars and nightclubs. * Gyms, recreational facilities. * Libraries. * Museums and art galleries. * Casinos. * Distilleries, wineries and breweries for in-house tastings — retail sales are allowed. * Sporting facilities for both practices and games, recreational and professional. * Faith activities, events and gatheringsOther guidelines and limitations * The gathering limit in public is five, or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household. * Mandatory masking now applies to common areas in multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartments and condos. * No visitors in long-term care facilities, except volunteers and designated caregivers — this applies provincewide. * Non-essential travel into and out of the restricted region of HRM is discouraged. * Non-essential travel to other Atlantic provinces is also discouraged.MORE TOP STORIES
Any way you look at it, 2020 has been a challenging year all around, but it has impacted some families harder than others. With many businesses having been forced to close their doors and shut down for extended periods this year due to public health restrictions, affected business owners and the people that they employ have been among the hardest hit. Some people have seen their wages rolled back so that their employers can remain in business. There have been layoffs across the province as companies have had to reduce their operations. And too many businesses have had to close down entirely. While our economy has picked up from where we were in the spring, jobs still are not as plentiful as they were. The Swan Hills Food Bank has certainly seen an increase in requests this year compared to past years. Christmas is often a time when many of us look for ways to give back to our community, to try to offer a helping hand to those around us who may be having a hard time of things. This year there is an increased need for helping hands. The Food Bank and Santa’s Elves are doing things a little differently this year in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the number of items being directly handled by multiple people, Santa’s Elves is only able to accept monetary donations this year. Monetary donations can be made at the Alberta Treasury Branch downtown (4914 Plaza Ave). A food donation bin will be available at Super A, as there has been in previous years, but there will not be a toy donation bin for Santa’s Elves this year. Instead of delivering food hampers and toys this year, the families receiving support will be given gift cards to local businesses. This will reduce the chance for the transmission of COVID-19 by cutting down on the need for items to be directly handled by multiple people. This step will also allow the families receiving support to choose which groceries and gifts would benefit them the most. Please contact the Swan Hills Food Bank and Santa’s Elves at (780) 333-3442 if you have any questions.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Le Centre de dépannage des Nord-Côtiers, organisme desservant le secteur ouest de la Haute-Côte-Nord, ne peut organiser son traditionnel souper- spaghetti cette année pour amasser des fonds pour la campagne de financement des paniers de Noël. Il doit alors se tourner vers d’autres moyens de financement, dont une campagne de dons virtuelle. « Nous invitons la population à convertir le montant traditionnellement destiné à l’achat d’un ou plusieurs billets pour le souper-spaghetti en don de charité via la plateforme Facebook créée pour l’occasion », explique Nathalie Beaudoin, directrice générale. Un objectif de 5 000 $ a été fixé pour cette campagne en ligne, alors que le souper-bénéfice amassait 12 000 $. « Le manque à gagner devrait être comblé par les dons d’organismes comme les Lions et Desjardins », dévoile la directrice. Au moment d'écrire ces lignes, une somme de 1 790 $ avait été récoltée sur la plateforme web. De plus, la journée du 5 décembre, de 11 h à 14 h, sera consacrée à ramasser des denrées et dons en argent dans les rues des villages du secteur ouest. « Nos bénévoles seront sur place et les automobilistes n’auront qu’à tendre la main pour donner soit des denrées non périssables ou de l’argent », confirme Mme Beaudoin, qui est toujours à la recherche de bénévoles pour cette journée cruciale. Pour obtenir un panier de Noël, les familles doivent obligatoirement en faire la demande. Le formulaire d’inscription est disponible à la friperie, par courriel et messenger. Une preuve de revenus, une preuve de résidence et au besoin, une lettre explicative doivent être jointes au formulaire. Selon Nathalie Beaudoin, la demande devrait être plus forte qu’à l’habitude avec la précarité qu’a engendrée la pandémie de la COVID-19. « Nous espérons pouvoir faire 50 paniers comme l’an dernier, selon les dons que nous aurons reçus », conclut-elle.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
The University of British Columbia has launched an investigation after more than 100 entry-level math students were accused of cheating on their midterm exam several days ago.The investigation became public after an ominous note from the students' professor was posted online late Monday. It was also circulated to students directly."I am extremely disappointed to tell you that there were over 100 cases of cheating," said the note, a screenshot of which was posted to the UBC Reddit thread."If confirmed, the students involved will receive a 0% for the course (not just the midterm) and I will recommend their expulsion from UBC."The note is signed "Mike." The CBC has not been able to verify the UBC professor's identity. However, the university has said it's investigating allegations of widespread cheating in one section of the math department involving entry-level math students.There are more than 1,500 students currently enrolled in Math 100 at UBC, split up into classes of about 250. The class is being held entirely online this semester, due to the pandemic. Midterms are run online as well.Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs, confirmed the university is investigating allegations of widespread cheating. He said it is too early to be able to provide details on how the students might have been cheating or how they were caught."Those details, I'm sure, will come clear in the investigative process," he said by phone on Tuesday.Ramsay said the professor's note was first sent to students, then posted online.Test monitoring toolsMany schools across the country, including UBC, have been using online software extensions to help detect and discourage cheating since classes went virtual. One test-proctoring tool, called Proctorio, monitors students for suspicious behaviour while they're writing a virtual exam.UBC faculty can offer an alternative, like a final project, to replace exams if they are overly concerned about cheating, but exams can't always be replaced."In some instances, it is necessary to use ... software like Proctorio to ensure academic integrity," Ramsey said. "Incidents of academic misconduct themselves are very uncommon, very rare at the university," added Ramsey, who has been with the school since 2014. "I have not seen allegations of this nature in my time at UBC but, again, they are, at this point, allegations."Investigations into academic misconduct begin with a professor reporting their concerns to the dean's office. That office can either dismiss complaints, give students a warning or pass the case along to the President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline for potential punishment. Penalties can range from a formal warning to being expelled from the university.Since investigations are complex and take time, Ramsey said, it's too soon to gauge whether there has been an overall increase in cheating since classes and exams began moving fully online in the spring."If the students are disciplined, we will get a sense as to those numbers in the coming months. At this point, it's just too early to say," he said.
Twenty-three B.C. mayors are calling on Premier John Horgan to establish policies that give resource-based communities a key role in the province’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan. In an open letter to Horgan Nov. 19, the mayors of both rural and urban municipalities praised previous foundation investments in natural resource development, as well as associated construction and transportation needs, and asked for inclusion in future policy discussions. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, BC has undergone a tremendous economic shock,” the letter reads. “Fortunately, BC’s resource industries have been able to persevere during this period. Our mines have continued to operate, the forest sector was able to take advantage of soaring lumber prices during 2020, aquaculture continues to invest and innovate, and four major energy projects have kept British Columbia workers busy building the resource infrastructure of the future.” In September the province announced a $1.5 billion pandemic economic recovery plan, in addition to previous commitments, targeting primarily tourism, food security, climate action, technology and innovation. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said the group of mayors found no disagreements with the strategy, and issued the letter primarily as a show of support. “This was just to let the premier know that we are ready and willing to engage,” Ackerman said. “Our resource industries need to be front of mind when we’re looking at creating the future of British Columbia. We’ve got businesses that need to get working. With a new cabinet coming into place we needed to send the premier our congratulations and hope that we can work on this together.” The mayors asked Horgan to enshrine five core pillars for economic recovery into the Mandate Letters of incoming cabinet ministers. Those pillars are: quickly enable shovel-ready projects to proceed; ensure international investors know B.C.’s industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions; recognize the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports; put workers and communities first when delivering on campaign commitments; and ensure any new regulations affecting delivery on the first four pillars are considered carefully. Going forward, the mayors also offered their support on all aspects of pandemic recovery and ongoing efforts with climate change and First Nations reconciliation. The letter was written by Ackerman and Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, and supported by: Mayor Andy Adams, Campbell River Mayor Bruno Tassone, Castlegar Mayor Allen Courtoreille, Chetwynd Mayor Lee Pratt, Cranbrook Mayor Dale Bumstead, Dawson Creek Mayor Michelle Staples, Duncan Mayor Sarrah Storey, Fraser Lake Mayor Brad Unger, Gold River Mayor Linda McGuire, Granisle Mayor Phil Germuth, Kitimat Mayor Dennis Dugas, Port Hardy Mayor Joan Atkinson, Mackenzie Mayor Linda Brown, Merritt Mayor Gary Foster, Northern Rockies Mayor Brad West, Port Coquitlam Mayor Gaby Wickstrom, Port McNeill Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Pouce Coupe Mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey Mayor Rob Fraser, Taylor Mayor Carol Leclerc, Terrace Mayor Keith Bertrand, Tumbler Ridge Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
Nonobstant la récession provoquée par la COVID-19, la ville de Laval maintient sa cote de crédit. La firme de notation financière S&P; Global Ratings vient en effet de lui renouveler la cote «AA» avec une perspective stable, indique l’administration Demers par voie de communiqué, le 24 novembre. Dans un rapport publié quatre jours plus tôt, l’agence «confirme que la structure économique dynamique et diversifiée ainsi que les rigoureuses pratiques de gestion financière de la Ville sont des facteurs favorables au maintien de la cote», résument les autorités municipales. Rappelons qu’il y a à peine un mois, la Ville anticipait clôturer l’année 2020 avec un surplus de 29 M$, une projection basée sur une mise à jour budgétaire au 31 août dernier. «Cette cote, qui témoigne de la qualité de notre gestion, permet de positionner avantageusement Laval afin de poursuivre la réalisation de projets et d’investissements nécessaires aux besoins de sa population croissante», a réagi le maire Marc Demers. Celui-ci a profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’engagement de son administration «à maintenir l’attractivité de la ville et à la propulser vers une reprise économique robuste en 2021». À cet égard, une récente étude économique de Desjardins prévoit que le produit intérieur brut (PIB) bondirait de 7,3 % à Laval, l’an prochain, comparativement à 6,3 % à l’échelle de la province, sous réserve que le virus demeure sous contrôle. Enfin, pour la Municipalité, la cote de crédit qui lui est attribuée démontre qu’elle «possède la capacité de respecter ses engagements tout en s’assurant que le niveau de sa dette demeure prévisible et sous contrôle».Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Unlimited internet packages will be available to residents in seven northern communities starting Dec. 1, after the CRTC gave the North's telecommunications giant the green light on Tuesday.Northwestel applied for unlimited internet packages for a handful of communities across the North in October with hopes of offering them to residents by early November. However, the CRTC delayed approval, saying it needed more time to consider the company's application.On Tuesday, a post on the CRTC's website showed the commission had approved Northwestel's proposal on an interim basis."The Commission considers it appropriate to approve the application on an interim basis prior to reviewing the whole record, in order to address customers' increased Internet data needs and alleviate their increased Internet usage costs in the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic," the website says."The Commission will address its final determination regarding the unlimited Internet data packages and rates that are under consideration in the application, and any related issues if necessary, in a subsequent order that will be based on the complete record."The seven northern communities are: * Whitehorse. * Carcross, Yukon. * Yellowknife. * Hay River, N.W.T. * Fort Smith, N.W.T. * Norman Wells, N.W.T. * Fort Nelson, B.C.Northwestel said in a news release it will start taking orders from customers wanting to upgrade their internet packages on Dec. 1, when they become available."It's great to be able to bring new unlimited options to many customers in time for a holiday season, especially with so many of us sticking close to home," said Tammy April, Northwestel's vice-president of consumer markets, in a statement.
WHITEHORSE — Residents of Yukon will be required to wear a non-medical mask in all public indoor spaces effective Dec. 1.Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement during the territory's regular pandemic briefing in Whitehorse.He says everyone who does not have a medical exemption and is over the age of two will be required to wear a mask. The territory has 38 cases of COVID-19, including 14 active cases related to what Yukon's top doctor says is the second wave of the pandemic, involving two separate outbreaks.Dr. Brendan Hanley says the illnesses have been linked, either directly or indirectly, to travel outside Yukon.The territory reintroduced COVID-19 control measures last week that include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for almost everyone entering or returning to the territory after travel outside its boundaries.Hanley says there is no plan to impose a lockdown, despite the arrival of the second wave, but he warned residents to prepare."Now, I don't mean, by preparation, you need to run out and buy toilet paper," he says."Prepare yourselves, more, that we may see more cases, perhaps many more. Prepare your mental health by being ready to see worse before we see better," he says.Hanley also urged residents to "start to think" about organizing virtual gatherings this holiday season.Silver reminded residents who must quarantine, or follow other public-health orders, that the restrictions are not optional.He says 26 charges have been laid under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, including the most recent charge last week against a person who failed to self-isolate.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
India's ruling Hindu nationalist party approved a decree in the country's most populous state on Tuesday laying out prison terms for anyone compelling others to convert their faith or luring them into these conversions through marriage, officials said. The move follows a campaign by hardline Hindu groups against some interfaith marriages that they describe as "love jihad", Muslim men engaging in a conspiracy to turn Hindu women away from their religion by seducing them. Critics said the unlawful conversion order approved by the cabinet of Uttar Pradesh state, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, was aimed at further alienating India's 170 million Muslims by painting them as aggressors plotting to weaken Hindus.
The Venables Theatre is postponing and cancelling some scheduled shows following new public health measures laid out by the province last week. All events at the theatre scheduled prior to Dec. 7 have been cancelled or postponed following provincial health orders banning social gatherings, even in theatres with appropriate safety measures and events with less than 50 people attending. Mike Delamont’s Socially Distanced Stand-Up Comedy show scheduled for Nov. 28 has been cancelled. Two shows included in the Venables Alive series featuring local artists have been postponed including Great White North and Kristi Neumann. The shows will likely be moved to February at the earliest, according to theatre manager Leah Foreman, though it is still unclear when shows will be permitted to resume. The theatre is one of the few in the region to continue to operate successfully during the pandemic, however the new public health measures are throwing a wrench into the works. “We were having really good success with our shows. Lots of people were coming out to see them. We were keeping people safe and people and people felt comfortable here so I think we were doing great,” Foreman said. “But I mean, we’re all in this together and now we just have to hunker down.” The successful operation at the Venables since it reopened this fall is in part due to the support the theatre receives from the community. “We used all our tools we had. We talked to health officials, I’ve been on calls with venues across the province just talking about best practices and how do we all do this. Then I felt confident that I had the information on it that I needed and the logistics and stuff in order to reopen. I think it was just a matter of being really knowledgable about what was going on,” Foreman said. “I think one of the reasons we were able to do it was just the fact that we have such great support from our community and we were able to focus on figuring this out.” Following last week’s public health orders, movie theatres remained open over the weekend in B.C. — which was considered a bit of a thorn in the side of the Venables Theatre management — however, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified Monday that the public health order cancelling events applied to movie theatres as well. However, Foreman still questions why bars and pubs can operate safely while the theatre is ordered to shut down for at least two weeks. “We aren’t a social gathering. You come in, you watch a show, you leave. You’re not congregating in the lobby, you’re enjoying a show in a socially-distanced way. So we did feel that we were being penalized for no reason,” Foreman said. The Venables box office is now open by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call 250-498-1626. Most refunds can be done over the phone or will be processed automatically.Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Volker Gerdts, a leading vaccine researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, says Canada should focus on manufacturing vaccines domestically to better prepare for future events.
WINDSOR, Ont. — The mayor of Windsor, Ont., has apologized for breaking COVID-19 rules when dining out with seven other people last week. Mayor Drew Dilkens made a statement to Windsor city council on Monday, saying he made an "unfortunate error" that should not have occurred. Windsor was in the yellow tier of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions system last week. That tier permits only six people to dine together while inside a restaurant. “As mayor, there is responsibility for me to lead by example and showcase to all in our region that we need to follow all restrictions and guidelines to the letter," Dilkens said. Dilkens noted to city council that although he was not fined or issued a bylaw ticket, he will donate $750 – the typical fine for such an infraction – to the Windsor Goodfellows. The Windsor Goodfellows provides local families with assistance and support, including through a food bank, school breakfast programs, and a children’s footwear program. Dilkens also said that Gordon Orr, the chief executive officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, will be making an equivalent donation to an organization that works with children and youth facing mental health concerns. Windsor-Essex Region moved to the heightened orange zone of Ontario's COVID-19 restriction system on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
LONDON — A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday.Craig Brown’s “One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time” was named winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.Brown’s “composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s “joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was “a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”“Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.The award recognizes English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history “Black Spartacus,” Matthew Cobb’s “The Idea of the Brain” and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.”The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s “Stranger in the Shogun’s City,” about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and “The Haunting of Alma Fielding” by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events.The Associated Press
Some people awaiting surgery in Nova Scotia will need to be tested for COVID-19 before their procedure can move ahead.Nova Scotia Health announced the change Tuesday amid rising case numbers and community spread, primarily in the Halifax area. The new rules are effective immediately and apply to people who may need general anesthesia.Patients who live in the Central Zone, Enfield and Mount Uniacke will have to be tested 72 hours before surgery.People who have visited any community with a known exposure risk also fall under that requirement.Nova Scotia Health said patients coming from New Brunswick zones 1 and 2, which include Saint John and Moncton, will also have to be tested.Those patients will have their tests arranged for them, while urgent cases will be handled in the hospital.Limit activity, say health officialsNova Scotia Health said approximately five surgeries were cancelled as a result of the new rule."It's our goal to get those patients who were bumped while waiting for a test in for surgery over the next couple days," it said in a statement. Patients are being asked to limit activity to minimize their chances of being exposed to COVID-19 before their operations.The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said Tuesday his colleagues at Public Health are working closely with the provincial health authority to develop new safety protocols."They are, right now, looking at what they need to do to deal with the potential surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and then working through what other services need to be shifted," Strang said. "We're working completely collaboratively."Hospital visits were suspended as of Nov. 20 to most patients in the Central Zone to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals.
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
ARTHUR – A large housing subdivision planned in Arthur raised some concerns from residents and councillors at a Wellington North public meeting on Monday night. The developer, Cachet Homes, is proposing to build a 240-home subdivision in Arthur’s west end bordered by Preston Street North, Domville Street, Smith Street and Conestoga Street North. This will consist of 141 single detached and 99 townhouses as well as five new internal streets, a stormwater management pond and upgrading Preston Street to asphalt with a sidewalk. The report to council noted a large portion of the land was approved for a subdivision back in 1993. A similar development was proposed of single and townhouse units, about half the number currently proposed, but also included a large school block and park area. The school block is no longer required by the school board. Mayor Andy Lennox clarified that there was no decision being made and ultimately the County of Wellington is the authority on approving subdivision plans. The purpose of the meeting, he explained, was to collect information for the county and to consider zoning changes to setbacks and frontage which would fall on the township. Stephen Closs, a planning consultant for the developer, said that Arthur is intended to grow by nearly 1,000 people within 20 years and this development is an opportunity to reach this growth target. A common theme among delegates, particularly those who live on Conestoga Street, at the public meeting was a concern over stormwater management. Many mentioned concerns they have about their property flooding on occasion already and wanted clarification that things would not get worse with a new development where the water drains. Marcus Gagliardi, Cachet Homes development planner, stressed that they are up to the challenge of working on this issue with township engineers and other organizations. “We’re going to make sure the situation post-development is a much better situation than what currently exists,” Gagliardi said at the meeting. Two delegates, Mike DeWitt and Brent McKee, were both troubled about wildlife that inhabits the field and forested area where the subdivision will go up. They noted that there was no green space incorporated into the plan. “Why do we always have to destroy everything for the sake of a couple extra houses?” DeWitt asked. “I think development is going to come regardless but could we not set something aside for the wildlife as well?” Closs said ecological impacts will be mitigated but the land is already zoned as residential and is therefore intended to be developed. Some councillors agreed that parkland should be considered as part of a subdivision this size. The development as it stands is proposing cash-in-lieu of parkland but Gagliardi said they aren’t opposed to taking another look at it. “The comments about park space are valid and we’ll have to take it back and look at it as we look at the overall plan,” Gagliardi said. Some other councillor concerns were around the density of the development and if it would truly fit into the character of the small town. The mayor finished the meeting by bringing up how they’re going to manage an increase in sewage. “We’ve seen a number of development applications come forward and if it all comes to fruition we probably have a sewage capacity problem,” Lennox said, noting that the town has a sewage allocation policy that manages the rate of growth. Gagliardi said they will work with the township on a phased approach to not overwhelm their wastewater system as it works on growth and reiterated their stance of wanting to work with the township as best they can. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com