Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 29, 2020
NHL returns after months-long hiatus due to coronavirus pandemic
May 15, 2020
NHL hockey returns Tuesday after a months-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Montreal Canadiens are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers meet the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place as part of Tuesday’s three-game exhibition schedule that kicks off Phase 4 of the league’s return-to-play plan.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers square off in Toronto in Tuesday’s other game.
Edmonton and Toronto are serving as hub cities for the 24 NHL teams that are returning to action, though the Canadiens and Flames are listed as the home teams Tuesday night.
Each team will play an exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena or Rogers Place between Tuesday and Thursday before the playoff qualification round begin on Saturday.
The NHL suspended its season March 12 due to the spreading global pandemic and announced its four-stage return plan May 26. (Global)
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be on the “Trust in Science” team.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 28, 2020
Right-Wing Media Stars Amplify Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Campaign Message
July 21, 2020
To his legions of listeners, Rush Limbaugh calls the demonstrators in Portland, Ore., “anarchists” who “hate Americans and America.” He recently made an ominous prediction: “I can see secession coming.”
On Fox News, Sean Hannity describes the scene in Portland as “a literal disaster area — and, yeah, it looks like a war zone.”
On Wednesday, Breitbart News — which features a “Riot Crackdown” page on its website — published an article declaring, “Now would be a real good time to do whatever is necessary to obtain a permit to legally carry a handgun.”
Right-wing outlets and conservative media stars have seized on the weekslong protests in Portland as a rallying cry for law and order, instructing their followers to fear for their safety and blaming Democratic leaders for failing to restore peace.
Their commentary — beamed out daily to millions — has increasingly mirrored the fear-laced messaging of President Trump and his re-election campaign, which has warned that a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidency would usher in chaos and routine violence in the streets. With the November election looming, Mr. Trump has pledged to send forces to Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and other major cities.
Conservative pundits, typically no fans of an overreaching government, have thrown their full support behind federal agents who have used militarized tactics like firing tear gas at protesters and have pulled some demonstrators into unmarked vans since being deployed to Portland in recent days.
In fact, the scenes broadcast by channels like Fox News and One America News send a misleading portrait of the city, where daily life has been relatively calm outside of a small area downtown. (New York Times)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 25, 2020
Announcement coming next week for plan to reopen Ontario schools
January 31, 2020
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says that the government is “finalizing the health protocols” for the resumption of school in September and that an announcement could be coming as soon as next week on what it will look like.
Back in June the Ford government asked school boards to prepare three separate plans for the resumption of classes – online learning only, a hybrid model with children attending classes in-person on alternating days or weeks and the fulltime resumption of in-person instruction.
The boards still have until Aug. 4 to submit those plans but Lecce revealed on Thursday that an announcement could be coming before then on the various regulations and rules that schools will have to follow.
April 30, 2020
A spokesperson for the education minister later clarified to CP24 that the announcement will pertain to “consistent standards” that will be put in place at schools across Ontario on things like seating arrangements and the wearing of masks.
The decision as to which model a particular board follows will still be left with local public health officials, the spokesperson said.
“We are finalizing the health protocols and working very closely with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and some of the best pediatric minds in the nation that are informing the plan,” Lecce said during a press conference in Brampton. “We believe we will be able to unveil it next week. That will include additional supports and resources to enable our boards to succeed.”
May 26, 2020
Lecce initially said that individual school boards would be able to choose which plan they want to follow based on the risk posed by COVID-19 to their communities.
Premier Doug Ford has since said that he wants students to return to school fulltime in September provided it is safe to do so.
Yesterday, Ford said the public should be open to unorthodox ideas to keep kids safe, such as holding class outdoors.
Life in a Pandemic
“The premier and the government continue to be focused on a safe, conventional, day-to-day return to school,” Lecce said Thursday. “Maybe a new conventional where kids still can go to school five days a week.” (CTV)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 21, 2020
US scientists rebuke Trump over coronavirus response and other affronts
More than 1,200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have rebuked Donald Trump’s “denigration of scientific expertise”, an unusual move for a community which has historically avoided the political sphere.
May 12, 2020
The co-organizers of an open letter seeking to “restore science-based policy in government” say they have rapidly gained signatures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists have watched the Trump administration downplay the crisis and ignore expert advice, including the need to wear masks and the dangers of using unproven drugs.
In the latest affront to the scientific world, the White House is reportedly seeking to block funding for testing and tracing, which scientists widely agree is critical to slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Trump called the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, a “little bit of an alarmist”.
April 23, 2020
The open letter began as a response to Trump’s refusal to accept and act on warnings from climate scientists. In September 2016, 378 academy members wrote that withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement would “have negative consequences for the world’s climate system and for US leadership and credibility”.
In April 2018, more than 1,000 scientists signed a version of the letter which warned that Trump’s “dismissal of scientific evidence in policy formulation has affected wide areas of the social, biological, environmental and physical sciences”.
The three organizers have since invited members who joined NAS in 2019 and 2020 to sign on to the letter. More than 62% did, bringing the total to 1,220 out of a membership of about 2,900. Some of the signatories work in government or have federal grants but felt compelled to add their names despite professional risks.
April 7, 2020
Benjamin Santer, a climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a co-organizer, said the administration has changedwhat it means to be a scientist in America.
“We no longer have the luxury, in my opinion, of retreating to our offices and closing the door and hoping bad stuff will go away,” he said. “That’s a singularly poor survival strategy when you’re facing a global pandemic or global climate change. Bad stuff isn’t going to go away.”
March 26, 2020
The academy – which was formed during the civil war – exists to provide independent, objective advice to the nation. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding research contributions. About 500 current and deceased members have won Nobel Prizes.
Charles Manski, the second co-organizer, an economist at Northwestern University, acknowledged that some might view the letter as political but said the scientists do not. They just want policy to be informed by the best possible information.
“It’s one thing for the political establishment not to respond very well to a crisis that happens around the world,” Manski said. “It’s quite another thing to be actively denigrating the science and making things up routinely.”
Trump has recently attacked guidelines for school reopening from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling them expensive and impractical. (The Guardian)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 14, 2020
When will it be safe to reopen the U.S. border?
How much longer can this go on? How much longer can the world’s longest undefended border remain largely sealed?
April 18 2020
It’s an increasingly urgent question facing Canadian governments. Even with the U.S. border open for commercial business, and exceptions being made to allow families to reunite, our joint border is mostly closed. And the impact is huge.
This discussion is relevant this week for a couple of reasons. First, the current emergency border-crossing restriction package is set to expire July 21. Second, the government is facing mounting pressure from commercial interests.
The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of 120-odd travel and tourism companies including Canada’s major airlines, last month sent an open letter to the government calling for the loosening of travel restrictions.
A second open letter was sent by Canada’s airlines and many of Canada’s biggest companies including banks and telecoms.
On one hand it is hard to blame the tourism sector, which has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, for putting its economic interests first. But it is also more than a little troubling that airlines were quick to do away with social distancing minimums when we know they are crucial in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
May 24, 2020
Fortunately, it’s not up to the tourism/travel sector to make public policy. That’s up to the government, and based on what top officials such as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland are saying, protecting public health is still the top priority. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “We are going to be very, very careful about when and how we start reopening international borders.”
Something most people do not recognize is that cross-border traffic is already increasing thanks to loosening of some restrictions. The volume of traffic crossing land borders has increased from about 115,000 a week from late April to early May to 175,000 a week in late June. Officials say those figures include commercial and non-commercial traffic. The number of non-commercial highway travellers entering Canada has nearly doubled over that period, going from about 3,300 a week to about 6,500.
June 2, 2017
At the same time as Canada is allowing more cross-border traffic, the situation in the U.S. is deteriorating. As recently as the weekend states like Florida were announcing record new infections and deaths. Florida alone reported more than 15,000 new cases. American leadership is polarized, with the Trump administration basically in denial. Some states are rolling back reopening, others seem unwilling to do so despite exploding infection rates.
Worst of all, America has no apparent unified strategy to regain control. Even if Trump loses the November election, it’s predicted to take months to change direction and get COVID under control.
Under these circumstances, how on earth could Canada even consider significantly loosening border controls? Doing so would literally put at risk everything this country has done right to flatten the pandemic curve. All the work and sacrifice Canadians have endured would be at risk.
It is said that governing in these times is an ongoing struggle to balance safety with renewed prosperity. Fair enough. But on some fronts there can be no overall compromise. The U.S. is not a safe place to be, and Canada should not face further exposure until things change. That could easily keep the border closed until the end of this year, at least, say infectious disease experts.