The new Netflix series The Queen's Gambit, about a young female chess prodigy in the 1950s and 1960s, has generated the most buzz about the game that the Calgary Chess Club has seen in five decades."The last time I remember we had buzz like this was way back in 1972, when Bobby Fischer, an American chess player, ended up being the world champion. And then six years ago, we had another movie, The Pawn's Sacrifice … but nothing like this. Nothing like this since 1972," Steve Sklenka, president of the Calgary Chess Club, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday.Sklenka said calls and emails have been flooding in from parents who want their kids to take up chess."They want to enrol kids into some chess lessons, tutors, and that sort of thing. So we get our inquiries on our websites and our emails," he said. "We have more people asking if we provide lessons to the youngsters. We have, actually, people buying memberships, even though we're actually closed. The premises are closed. And inquiries are coming in, people buying chess sets," he said. "The activity [is] certainly a lot better than, you know, in the past years."In the first 10 days after The Queen's Gambit was released, eBay reported a surge of over 270 per cent in searches for chess sets. Sklenka said that's good news for chess fans."It's a fun game. It's an educational game," he said. "And the good thing about it is, anybody can play all their lives. We have players from Grade 1 and right up to people into their 80s. So it's a very versatile game."Sklenka said child prodigies are rare."There's two or three from India right now. They're not even teenagers, and they're world-class players," he said."There's a few around the world, but it just happens periodically that you have some real youngsters that are extremely good, and they will become top world-class players. Potentially one of them will be a world champion."Sklenka said he hopes The Queen's Gambit is inspiring more girls and women to take up the male-dominated game."There's a lot of women playing chess, there's more and more. And, you know, we've got to be realistic. It's still a male-dominated game, but there's a lot of good female players from around the country and the world," he said.Sklenka said there's a reason eastern European players, like the toughest opponents in The Queen's Gambit, do so well at chess. "Russia, you know, the eastern European countries are supported by the government. And so it's easier for their talents to be developed," he said, adding that India, China and the United States, are coming up in the ranks."Whereas in the Western world, yeah, we don't have as much support, if you will. But yeah, that would be one reason why maybe Russia is — Russia is doing so well in chess, because they do get the support from the government." Sklenka is originally from the Czech Republic and grew up playing chess. But he said he's not one of the players who can close his eyes and see the next moves."I certainly can't. And very, very, very few people can actually play chess blindfolded. But there are people that can … Timur Gareyev, whom I know, is a very good friend and a very good person. He's a world champion and he's played 48 games blindfolded, at the same time. And that's a world record, Guinness Book of World Records. So that's just totally unusual. The odd person can play maybe a game, perhaps two blindfolded."Calgarians who are interested in learning more about chess, getting some lessons or joining the Calgary Chess Club, can find more information at Calgary Chess Club.The club, at 3359 27th Street N.E., isn't operating regular hours because of COVID-19. However, it is open Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with all COVID-19 measures in place.Listen to the full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener here:
A big-box pet store has plans to jump into Liverpool, eyeing opportunity in a county that has been without a pet shop for the past eight years. Pet Valu has confirmed it’s going to open a retail outlet in the town. “Pet Valu is really excited to be opening a store in Liverpool in mid-2021,” Katherine Clark, a spokesperson for the pet store chain, said in an email. Liverpool’s last pet store, Kameko’s Cove & Aquatics, closed in February, 2012 after five years in business. The store sold tropical fish, reptiles and other small pets, along with pet supplies. Pet Valu’s Liverpool plans include the construction of a new 4,000 square-foot building, which will be located beside the Dollarama Store on Queens Place Drive. One of Canada’s largest pet specialty retail chains with 1,200 stores in North America, Pet Valu Canada Inc. started in Toronto in 1976. It currently has 11 stores in Nova Scotia.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
La majorité des francophones hors Québec ne croit pas que le français soit en péril, tandis que les Franco-Québécois s’inquiètent de l’avenir de leur langue dans une proportion similaire.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s government is considering an electoral law amendment that would make it harder for opposition parties to pursue their unity strategy against the powerful ruling party in future elections.After a 2012 overhaul by the ruling Fidesz party and its leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary’s two-ballot election system has allowed parties to field individual candidates in the country’s 106 single-member voting districts and to present voters with a national party list.Currently, election law requires that parties must run candidates in a minimum of 27 voting districts in at least nine counties and the capital Budapest in order to present a national list. The new proposal, approved 8-4 on Tuesday by parliamentary committee, would significantly increase this minimum requirement.The government argues the changes are necessary to prevent fake parties from abusing state funding they receive for election campaigns.If approved by the ruling party’s parliamentary supermajority, the amendment would force opposition parties to join in running a single national list against Fidesz. This could widen ideological fault lines within the tenuous coalition and make it more difficult to unseat Orban’s government.For months, the opposition has negotiated the details of a unity strategy against Orban in forthcoming 2022 elections, vowing to co-ordinate candidates in individual districts in an effort to prevent splitting opposition votes, and to adopt a common political platform and single candidate for prime minister.This strategy brought substantial gains to the opposition in municipal elections last year, where opposition candidates took the majority of Hungary’s cities including Budapest.The Associated Press
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
Apple Books US Bestseller List - 11/22/20 - Paid Books Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama - 9781524763183 - (Crown) 2. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 3. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson - 9781429952040 - (Tom Doherty Associates) 4. Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon by Marc Cameron - 9780593188118 - (Penguin Publishing Group) 5. The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly - 9780316498029 - (Little, Brown and Company) 6. Deadly Cross by James Patterson - 9780316497992 - (Little, Brown and Company) 7. All That Glitters by Danielle Steel - 9780399179693 - (Random House Publishing Group) 8. Piece of My Heart by Alafair Burke & Mary Higgins Clark - 9781982132569 - (Simon & Schuster) 9. The Sentinel by Andrew Child & Lee Child - 9781984818478 - (Random House Publishing Group) 10. A Time for Mercy by John Grisham - 9780385545976 - (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) The Associated Press
Nunavut reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday putting the territory's total active cases at 142.Nine of those cases were confirmed in Arviat for a total of 107 positive cases in the community, according to a news release from the territorial government Tuesday morning. There was also a new case reported in Rankin Inlet, putting that community's total at 19 positive cases.Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, said in a statement that it's important for Nunavummiut to strictly follow public health measures as daily totals of COVID-19 rise across Canada."As we head into our second week of increased restrictions in the territory, every single one of us needs to stay committed and dedicated to slowing and stopping the spread of this virus in our communities," Patterson said.There's still no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove, the territory says.Everyone still actively infected with COVID-19 is "regularly monitored in isolation and continue to do well, with mild to moderate symptoms," the release says.There have been 158 tests completed in Rankin Inlet as of Monday with negative results, the territory says. Testing in Arviat has yielded 375 negative tests while testing in Whale Cove has yielded 52 negative tests.The government is continuing to monitor Sanikiluaq.The territory says anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus should call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET.People can alternatively notify their community health centre and immediately isolate at home for 14 days. People are asked to not go to the health centre in person.The territory says it will provide an update at a news conference on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET.
WINDSOR, Ont. — Public health officials say 29 students and nine staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a Windsor, Ont., elementary school. Frank W. Begley Elementary has been closed since Nov. 17 and students and staff were asked to isolate for 14 days.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the entire school population is at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19.Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed had said that the first three cases in the outbreak were staff members, and transmission is suspected to have happened at the school.A letter to parents from the health unit says students are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.The health unit says it is working closely with the school and the Greater Essex County District School Board to manage the outbreak and limit the spread of infection.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
The new Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has agreed to pay $1,765 to former councillor Susan MacLeod, for personal legal fees she chalked up in 2019. However, taxpayers are not being told why she incurred the expense. The decision to pay MacLeod’s legal fees was announced in council on November 10, following an in-camera meeting at which the issue was discussed. When asked about the motion concerning the repayment, which was read by councillor Ralph Gidney, RQM’s new mayor Darlene Norman commented that a municipal policy “ensures that appointed officials are protected in cases of civic or criminal action as a result of his or her performance of their duties. “Councillors are treated as a staff member in legal matters, and because it was an in-camera item, our comments are basically what that motion stated.” RQM’s policy number 21.03, to which the mayor referred, states at length: “The mayor and every councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality and their heirs and legal representatives of such person, in the absence of any dishonesty on the part of such person, shall be indemnified by the Region of Queens Municipality against, and it shall be the duty of the council, out of the funds of the Region of Queens Municipality, to pay all costs, losses and expense, including any amount paid to settle an action or claim to satisfy a judgment that such mayor or councillor may incur or become liable to pay in respect of any claim made against such person in any civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding to which such person is made a party by reason of being a mayor or councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality whether the Region of Queens Municipality is a claimant or party to such action or proceeding or otherwise.” However, Norman would not explain to what legal issue the expense related, nor is the expense listed in the former councillor’s list of expenses posted on the municipality’s website, along with other council members’ expenses. The mayor declined to comment any further on the issue. “In-camera items have to remain in-camera and, as such, it remains so,” she said. However, while the purpose of the meeting was indicated on the agenda as a “personnel matter,” under Nova Scotia’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) councillors are not employees of the municipality and employees cannot be councillors. “Councillors are elected officials and not considered to be ‘personnel’ or staff of the municipality,” Krista Higdon, a spokesperson for the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs, said in an email. “Council must determine whether it is appropriate to go into a closed session (in camera) based on the requirements in section 22 of the Municipal Government Act,” she added. Nonetheless, Heather Cook, RQM’s communications coordinator, maintained that, from the municipality’s perspective, all councillors are considered to be employees. “Council members are on the municipal payroll and are considered employees of the municipality, and discussion of the item was subject to being held in-camera,” she said in an email. When it was suggested that taxpayers might be curious as to why the council is footing the legal bill of a former councillor, Mayor Norman noted, “it is a matter of past council.” She reiterated, “it was respecting, according to our policy, a matter in relation to that person’s duties or role as a councillor and that follows the policy.”Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
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
A young, breastfeeding mother of seven is now one week deep into a hunger strike in the northern Quebec Cree community of Chisasibi, over a multi-billion dollar development agreement and what she says was a lack of consultation by Cree leaders. The $4.7 billion Grande Alliance agreement was signed in February by Quebec Premier François Legault and current Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. At the time, the memorandum of understanding was called the Cree vision of development and includes a deep sea port, 700 kilometres of new railway, hundreds of kilometres of new road, new power lines and the creation of a network of protected areas, among other projects to be built in three stages over the next 30 years.Last Wednesday, Heather House posted an open letter to social media addressed to Cree leadership, the premier of Quebec and several provincial ministers. In the letter, the 32-year old said Cree leadership should have done more consultation before signing. > I say 'no' to the agreement. \- Heather House, Chisasibi resident"I say 'no' to the agreement already signed. Have it terminated and revoked on the grounds of no consultation, on the grounds that there was no informed consent from the people of Eeyou Istchee," wrote House in a Facebook message. That same day, House escalated her protest and began a hunger strike, taking in only fish, fowl or caribou broth. House said she launched the hunger strike to show she is serious in her opposition to the Grande Alliance agreement, which she wants changed. She also said she wants no more mining projects in Eeyou Istchee. "The money will run out. The lithium will run out … cobalt … graphite … it will run out," said House, adding many Cree people, like her, don't understand what is in the agreement and are concerned about the impacts of more development.Community chiefs consultedAccording to the Cree Nation Government website, the Grande Alliance agreement was the result of a "patient consultative process" with the Cree communities. The majority of the Cree community chiefs were on hand for the signing of the agreement with premier Legault in February. In an email response to CBC, a Cree Nation government representative said COVID-19 has severely impacted their ability to meet with community members to explain the agreement and establish regular channels of communication. Cree leaders are planning a community meeting in Chisasibi this Friday.The email also said that the Grande Alliance is a chance for Cree people to be in the drivers seat of development, rather than the old model of reacting to projects and being "offered only leftovers".All of the infrastructure projects proposed in the Grande Alliance are tied to the creation of a network of community-selected protected areas, the email said. "The exploration of this idea will take many meetings and many discussions from the kitchen table to the boardroom before any actual project is identified," said the email.Cree leaders have also said the communities will be consulted on the individual projects and each project will be subject to a full environmental review, something that doesn't reassure House. > We have every right to... to protect our land because this is all we have left. - Heather House, Chisasibi resident"History has shown us … that even with the environmental assessments, they always find loopholes that deceive us," said House. Since House shared her open letter on Facebook, it has been shared more than 500 times. She said she has received a lot of the support from Cree people, but understands there are many Cree who support the agreement. "That's your thought … and you have every right to it. But we have every right to feel the need to protect our land because this is all we have left," said House. Until she's been heardHouse said one supporter of the agreement told her "not to bite the hands that feed her".Her four-month old baby is not yet on solids and will not take formula.House said she is not worried for the moment about the health of her baby because she is drinking a very nutritious caribou marrow broth. "Our ancestors survived on this kind of nourishment, and sometimes way less," said House, adding she may start to worry if her hunger strike drags on. House also said she will continue until she feels she has been heard by Cree leaders. She said she is hoping to speak directly to Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. "He's had my phone number since day two of my hunger strike," said House.
“We always hear about the trauma that is passed on through generations ... but we also have the bravery that is passed on."
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.
A fire at Freeman Lumber in Greenfield, Queens County, November 20 destroyed a piece of equipment, but further damage was prevented thanks to a quick response by the Greenfield, Liverpool, and North Queens fire departments. Firefighters were called out at 10:30 a.m. and remained on the scene for about two hours. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. There were no injuries at the scene and neither EHS nor RCMP responded. In total, 28 firefighters were at the scene. Meanwhile, the Tri-District Fire Department was on stand-by in Greenfield, Port Medway Fire Department stood by in Liverpool, and the Mill Village Fire Department traveled to Port Medway in case it was needed.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Restrictions to border crossings at the southern border between Labrador and Quebec are returning, after a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 was detected in Blanc-Sablon over the weekend.No non-essential travel at the border between Blanc-Sablon and L'Anse au Clair will be allowed, the premier's office confirmed Monday.Checkpoints that were put in place in the early days of the pandemic, but removed on June 25, will be reinstated as of Thursday with 24-hour coverage.Residents of the Labrador Straits area will be able to cross the border to go to the ferry terminal and airport in Blanc-Sablon without needing to present an exemption from the Newfoundland and Labrador government.The province will also strengthen border controls to "effectively eliminate the free flow of traffic between residents of L'Anse-au-Clair and Blanc-Sablon," the premier's office said in a statement, but added those details haven't yet been decided.Cartwight–L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster said she thinks the decision will offer some assurance to people in her district."If somebody lives in Blanc-Sablon … and they go out, let's say, to Montreal or Quebec City — one of the hot spots — they come back because it's the same province, they are not required to self-isolate," said Dempster."So out of an abundance of caution, public health officials worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and the premier's office and this was implemented, and I'm quite pleased about it. I believe I think Minister [John] Haggie used to say in the earliest days of this … we'll never know if we were too cautious, but we'll certainly see the impacts if we weren't."Meanwhile, in Labrador West, people can expect the restrictions to remain unchanged between Fermont, Que., and the Lab West region.The 24-hour enforcement presence at the border will remain in place, with two fishery and forestry officers in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and overnight presence of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.Rules that allow residents of Fermont to cross the border, but not stay overnight, without having to isolate will remain in place.Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said there was "a lot of havoc and chaos" in his district following Monday's COVID-19 briefing, when he said Premier Andrew Furey misspoke about the need for self-isolation between Fermont and Labrador West.But things were clarified later in the day, when it was confirmed things would remain as they are."We're going back between Fermont and Lab West as normal, apparently, so that won't make any changes there," Brown said.Ferry rulesResidents of Quebec travelling by ferry across the Strait of Bell Isle to Newfoundland can only do so if they have an exemption letter allowing for travel.Labrador residents who travel to Newfoundland on that ferry are not required to isolate, since they are travelling within their province. However, when they cross the border into Quebec on their way to the ferry terminal, they must remain in their vehicles until they board the ferry.The same rule is in place for people travelling across the Strait of Belle Isle from Newfoundland: Travellers are required to stay in their vehicles from departure, until they cross the border into Labrador.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NEW YORK — Nearly two months later, Chris Wallace can't bring himself to watch a rerun of the disastrous first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.“I'm not sure I ever will,” said Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host who moderated the slugfest.George Washington University brought leaders of the Commission on Presidential Debates and moderators of all three encounters together for a remote debrief Monday night. Two takeaways: increased early voting means the commission is considering earlier debates, and the mute button may be here to stay.It was a boisterous, uncomfortable fall for the debate commission, which dropped the second of three planned presidential sessions when Trump refused to agree to a remote debate following his COVID diagnosis. Trump and supporters also attacked the bipartisan commission as being biased toward Biden.“No one likes to be on the receiving end of attacks in reference to us being swamp monsters,” said Kenneth Wollack, one of the commission's co-chairs. He said there's “not an ounce of partisanship” that goes into the commission's decisions.One decision, the subject of much internal debate, was to mute the microphones of Trump and Biden when their opponent was giving a two-minute answer at the introduction of a new subject matter.The commission said it wasn't a new rule, but a means to enforce rules that had already been agreed upon. Trump's repeated interruptions during the Sept. 29 debate, an apparent strategy to knock Biden off stride, forced the change.NBC's Kristen Welker, the moderator who benefited from the mute button, said she was “pleasantly pleased” with how it worked; the commission will formally evaluate its future next spring, said Frank Fahrenkopf, another co-chair.If he has any regrets, Wallace said he wished he would have acted sooner to suggest a “time out” so the candidates might be convinced to better behave themselves.“I realized after 15 minutes that I had a problem and the country had a problem,” he said.But Wallace said it was a “very bad strategy” on the president's part because it quickly became clear that Trump was hurting himself more than Biden. Fahrenkopf said he believed Trump's performance that night was a key factor in his election loss.“For better or worse, I think the first debate was a deeply clarifying moment,” Wallace said.USA Today's Susan Page, who moderated the debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris, was bedeviled by the candidates' long-windedness and elusiveness, preventing her from following up questions unanswered. If she had a do-over, she said she would have been more aggressive in cutting Pence off.The moderators shared preparation strategies. Welker, who drew praise for her handling of the final debate, left her beat at NBC News to concentrate on getting ready. She said she called people across the country, like undecided voters and teachers working remotely due to COVID.“It gave me a sense and sensibility of what voters cared about,” she said. “I really wanted it to not be a Washington debate.”Fahrenkopf said it's getting more difficult to choose moderators because the commission wants to make sure there's nothing in their work to make them appear to favour one candidate over the other. With more voters retreating to media outlets that reflect their points of view, debates offer an increasingly rare chance to see different viewpoints side-by-side.If he had one piece of advice to viewers, Fahrenkopf said it would be to turn off their televisions after the debate's conclusion and not listen to TV analysts telling them what they just saw.“I think that's very bad advice,” replied Wallace, who fills that role when he's not moderating.David Bauder, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests.Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out."The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states.The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists.Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16.Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said.Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid.Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said.Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar."Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out."The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss."Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts."Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk."Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas."There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests.Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
The year was 1974. North Americans were huddled around their television sets on a warm summer night bidding farewell to a disgraced Richard Nixon while crooks of another kind were on the move in downtown Sudbury. Two rival schools, Sheridan Tech and Sudbury High, had just been amalgamated to become what is now known as Sudbury Secondary School. Perchance, two original A.Y. Jackson paintings called Spring on the Onaping River (1955) and A Windy Day, Lake Superior (1959) were united in the school’s main office. In the dead of night, the paintings mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again – and more than four decades later, a local playwright is bringing the story to light. The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson, written and directed by Judi Straughan, is a radio play staged for broadcast that explores a true local crime that occurred on Aug. 9, 1974. The crime is considered an open case to this day and is still under investigation by the Greater Sudbury Police. Viewers will be able to stream a performance of the play online from Dec. 4 to 7, where they will get the chance to immerse themselves in Sudbury’s history and become amateur detectives as they try to piece together what happened. For more, go to email@example.com. “With the hundredth anniversary of the first exhibit of the Group of Seven, this is the year to get inquiring minds across the nation to come and search for the missing Jacksons,” said playwright and director Judi Straughan. “Because this play is streaming online, anybody anywhere will have the chance to watch it. Wouldn’t it be interesting if, after 47 years, someone came forward? Someone out there must know something. Maybe they are ready to talk after all these years.” Straughan’s retelling of the events that occurred in 1974 is not fictional. Both of the stolen paintings had been purchased from A.Y. Jackson, a member of the famous Group of Seven, in the 1950s. Spring on the Onaping River (1955) belonged to Sheridan Technical School. In fact, it had been created after Sheridan art teacher Jack Smith invited Jackson to paint with his students, resulting in several Jackson sketches of Onaping Falls. A Windy Day, Lake Superior (1959) was purchased by the students at Sudbury High School to commemorate a beloved teacher who had been murdered during a school lunch hour. The reason the paintings were united was because the schools had been amalgamated. They were in the main office to be cleaned and it was intended that they would be hung at Sudbury Secondary School together. Before that could happen – and before the school even opened its doors – the paintings were stolen. Police have not yet been able to uncover who did it. In The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson, Straughan brought together 15 Sudbury actors to play real Sudburians from 1974 and dramatize the events leading up to and following the theft. “It’s a mystery that sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a True Detective magazine. Surprisingly, there’s even a murder on the periphery of the story,” she said. “The two-act play presents the facts in Act 1 and the whodunit theories in Act 2. It even provides a fictional solution to the crime. As a bonus, former Sudbury High and Tech students will get to hear their school songs performed once more.” Full of what Straughan calls “Sudbury chuckles” and real-life intrigue, The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson will entertain, raise money for a local radio station, and maybe inspire someone to come forward with a piece of information that could help solve the case. Crime Stoppers, a not-for-profit charitable organization that helps law enforcement agencies solve crime, has actually come on board to encourage viewers to come forward with tips. The play was supposed to be performed on stage in the spring, but was delayed due to COVID-19. On Nov. 8, the Sudbury Theatre Centre allowed ticketholders into the theatre to watch the play while it was filmed in advance of the virtual show. “Len Yauk, who was the principal of the school at the time and who is actually a character in the play, drove to Sudbury from Parry Sound to see the performance on Nov. 8,” said Straughan. “He told me that he had received a phone call about three years ago from the RCMP asking questions about the case. He said that every once in a while, something comes up, and he’s glad that people are still paying attention.” Tickets for the online performance are now on sale on CKLU radio’s website at www.cklu.ca. All proceeds will go towards CKLU 96.7, a local not-for-profit radio station that operates on campus of the McEwan School of Architecture. If you have information about the theft of these paintings or any other crime, you can provide an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 705-222-8477 (TIPS) or 1-800-222-8477 or by going online at www.sudburycrimestoppers.com. Tips that result in the successful resolution of a criminal offence may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000. All tips are completely anonymous, and you will not be asked to testify in court. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
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
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.