Tag Archives: life

Rapper DMX on life support after heart attack, lawyer says

DMX’s longtime New York-based lawyer, Murray Richman, said the rapper was on life support Saturday evening at White Plains Hospital.

“He had a heart attack. He’s quite ill,” Richman said.

Richman said he could not confirm reports that DMX, 50, overdosed on drugs and was not sure what caused the heart attack.

“I’m very sad about it, extremely sad. He’s like my son,” Richman said. “He’s just a tremendous person, tremendous entertainer, tremendous human being. And so much to offer, so much to say. Not the run-of-the-mill rapper. A person of great depth.”

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, made a splash in rap music in 1998 with his first studio album It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The multi-platinum selling album was anchored by several hits including Ruff Ryders’ Anthem, Get At Me Dog and Stop Being Greedy.

The rapper had four other chart-topping albums including …And Then There Was X, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My BloodThe Great Depression and Grand Champ. He has released seven albums and earned three Grammy nominations.

Along with his music career, DMX paved his way as an actor. He starred in the 1998 film Belly and appeared in Romeo Must Die a couple years later with Jet Li and the late singer Aaliyah. DMX and Aaliyah teamed up for the film’s soundtrack song Come Back in One Piece.

The rapper also starred in Exit Wounds with Steven Seagal and Cradle 2 the Grave with Li.

Over the years, DMX has battled with substance abuse. The rapper cancelled a series of shows to check himself into a rehabilitation facility in 2019. In an Instagram post, his team said he apologized for the cancelled shows and thanked his fans for the continued support.

Last year, DMX faced off against Snoop Dogg in a Verzuz battle, which drew more than 500,000 viewers.

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CBC | World News

Keegan Messing thrilled with life, pending fatherhood and figure skating heading into worlds

When COVID-19 forced the closure of gyms in Alaska, Keegan Messing got creative.

The Canadian figure skater hoisted the batteries out of two cars, and used the 36-pound car parts as weights. His chainsaw was the perfect replacement for a lighter weight, at around 20 pounds.

“I was holding two [car] batteries doing one-legged squats in my living room, or doing [a] vertical leap and actually hitting my head on the ceiling,” Messing said with a laugh. “I just think it’s funny.”

Canadian figure skaters have been grounded since the global pandemic forced cancellation of the world championships last March. Despite the unique hurdles in this bizarre abbreviated season, Messing said he’s in great shape ahead of next week’s world championships in Stockholm.

“That initial shutdown [last spring] was really hard, it was the longest time I was ever off the ice [seven weeks], but we’ve had solid training time since then.”

The big difference was the off-ice training. When the gyms eventually reopened, Messing still didn’t feel safe enough inside one, and so improvised. He snagged a rubber mat from the rink to practise his jumps, so he wouldn’t be landing on hard concrete.

“It’s been a lot of improvising, but honestly, training has been going excellent this year,” he said.


‘I am over the moon about this whole thing; I have been training harder than ever, and I’m just just happy about day-to-day life,’ Messing on the joy of impending fatherhood. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Messing is Canada’s lone men’s singles entry at worlds, which he said was bittersweet. Messing and fellow skater Nam Nguyen are good friends, and he’d have been happy, he said, if either one of them earned the spot.

“Nam and I, honestly, we were on the phone almost…gosh, it had to have been daily, if not twice daily, leading up to the decision, or even leading up to our evaluation/monitoring session,” Messing said.

Skate Canada selected Messing after conducting remote video sessions — think: figure skating’s version of a Zoom call — with individual skaters.

The one spot comes with a big responsibility. A top-10 finish would clinch Canada two spots in the event at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

“When I got it, [Nguyen] had nothing but support for me,” Messing said.

Messing, who lives in Girdwood just outside Anchorage and has dual citizenship, is the only Canadian skater to have competed in a live event this season because of Canadian travel restrictions. He won bronze at Skate America in Las Vegas, and dedicated that performance the national teammates he hasn’t seen in over a year.

WATCH | Canada’s Keegan Messing earns bronze at Skate America:

Sherwood Park, Alta., native Keegan Messing finishes in 3rd place at Skate America. 7:35

“Skating for the team at Skate America, it was one of the best things I could have done. I took the ice and even re-watching the video, right before I took my pose, I can see it in my face when I thought of the team, and thought ‘This is for you guys.’

“I really feel for them because they had worlds [last March in Montreal] taken from them, they had Skate Canada taken from them, and then they had nationals taken from them. They have been the real MVPs of this fight. They have been going to the rink, they have been training their butts off for these competitions and getting the rug taken out from them time and time again.”

Impending fatherhood

Last season’s shutdown came after what was already a difficult season for Messing. His younger brother Paxon died in a motorcycle crash in September of 2019, just before the season’s opening event.

But Keegan spoke with delight on a recent Zoom call about his impending fatherhood. He and his wife Lane Hodson are expecting a baby on July 4. They announced the news on Instagram, posting a photo of tiny skates sandwiched between his and his wife’s skates.

“I feel happy all the time, I get to feel the baby kick, and it just fills my heart with joy,” Messing said. “I am over the moon about this whole thing; I have been training harder than ever, and I’m just just happy about day-to-day life.”

Messing said apart from training, his backyard rink has kept him busy. He’s expanded on it, and even built a crashed ice course with ramps and jumps. Since learning about the worlds going ahead, he’s stayed off the course for safety reasons. An avid outdoorsman, he also lamented having to stay off the ski slopes since Alaska has been basking in gorgeous weather.

Messing faced a long trip to Stockholm, with stops in Seattle and Amsterdam along the way. Messing said he and his team have carefully mapped out the precautions he needs to take for every leg of the trip.

High spirits ahead of worlds

The International Skating Union announced in late January that the world championships would still happen, despite COVID-19 raging again in Europe. The event is being held with no spectators.

Messing said he remains optimistic about travelling amid the pandemic.

“That’s one thing I’m not letting myself think about too much,” Messing said. “As soon as you start worrying, your whole mental state goes down and that’s one of the most important things right now I think is to keep your mental spirits high and optimistic.”

The prospect of seeing his teammates is keeping his spirits high.

“For them to be keeping their heads up, and to be still pursuing this sport [after so many cancellations this season], I have to hand it to them, they’re being incredibly strong people that I really, really admire,” he said. “And I’m just very honoured that I get to compete side by side with them.”

Since he and his wife have no TV or WiFi at their home, Messing hasn’t watched any skating competition this season other than what he saw at Skate America. But American Nathan Chen and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu are the favourites in the field.

The event opens Wednesday with the women’s and pairs short program. The men’s event begins with the short program on Thursday.

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CBC | Sports News

So you got your COVID-19 shot. Does that mean life goes back to normal?

After Toronto family physician Dr. Tali Bogler received her final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in January, she felt a newfound sense of relief — but also knew her daily life wasn’t going to suddenly change.

On an afternoon in late February, while still dressed in her bright blue hospital scrubs after a shift, she was cuddling one of her twin daughters while catching up with her parents on a video chat.

It’s the same kind of virtual family time Bogler has experienced throughout the pandemic. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean she’ll start seeing them in person without precautions any time soon, she said, since her parents won’t get their shots for months.

“It’s really hard,” she said, though acknowledging there’s also a sense of excitement for what’s to come. “This period of time, from now until September, I guess, when everyone else is vaccinated, is a transition period.”

More and more Canadians will be grappling with that sense of limbo in the weeks and months ahead after getting vaccinated and protected against COVID-19 while millions of others are still waiting for their turn.

“What does that normalcy look like?” asked Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre.

“That’s a question that we are collectively struggling with.”


Dr. Tali Bogler, pictured with her daughter in their backyard in Toronto, video calls her parents who haven’t yet received the COVID-19 vaccine. (Sam Nar/CBC)

Experts who spoke with CBC News stressed that people still need to err on the side of caution and keep their guard up awhile longer, whether vaccinated or not, to protect those around them. 

But after a year of lockdowns and restrictions, there’s also bound to be plenty of friends and families hoping to spend time together once more Canadians start getting their shots — a reality that requires taking stock of everyone’s comfort level when it comes to risk.

“I do think we’re entering into a phase where people are more and more tired of having to deal with public health restrictions, and so we’re probably more likely to encounter that,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Susy Hota, an associate professor at the University of Toronto.

“I think the important message to give people is that in the short term, nothing changes. So they have to live their lives the same way as they were before they were vaccinated, because it will take some time to get enough people vaccinated.”

Risk ‘quite low’ among vaccinated people

Of course, as time passes, more vaccinated people will know more vaccinated people, be it friends, family members or co-workers.

So, at what point can those groups of COVID-protected people start spending time together without the usual pandemic safety concerns?

“If your parents are older, and they’ve gotten vaccinated — and you’re vaccinated — the risk is quite low, especially if you are continuing publicly to maintain all the other public health measures,” Hota said.

But those situations won’t be common for a while, forcing friends and families to navigate a stark, two-tier world of protection levels. 

That means even while vaccinations scale up, public health measures such as mask-wearing and distancing from others are expected to stay in place.

“We often talk about herd immunity,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health. “And that’s often what we really need to have before we can be confident that having so many people vaccinated is acting like that wall to keep COVID from coming back into our community.”


‘Nothing changes’ in the short-term until more people are vaccinated, says Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control for the University Health Network in Toronto. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

While the vaccines in use so far are proving highly effective at stopping serious illness and death, they aren’t 100 per cent protective and don’t offer instant immunity. Researchers also still aren’t sure how much they might curb transmission of the virus.

“If it interrupts infection, then it’s kind of stopping that chain of transmission from happening, just by virtue of having fewer people who are going to get infected,” Hota said. “But there may still be some asymptomatic infections and some ability to shed virus.”

In Israel, where mass vaccinations are already taking place, the country’s largest health-care system has so far reported a 94 per cent drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections — and early study findings suggest at least one vaccine may curb transmission, too.

Those results bode well, but it’s still going to take time to confirm them more broadly, Vinh said.

In the meantime, plenty of people waiting to get vaccinated will remain highly vulnerable to the impacts of a COVID-19 infection, be it lingering, long-lasting symptoms or a gruelling recovery following an ICU stay.

“People who have had cancer, people who had transplants, people who have genetic conditions,” he said.

Find ways to lower risk

At first blush, it’s probably not the news most people want to hear. Finally, at long last, vaccine shipments are ramping up and more residents will be rolling up their sleeves in the months ahead, yet nothing changes?

Hota said while it might feel that way at first, there’s likely going to be a slow and steady reduction in restrictions as vaccination campaigns roll out from high-risk age groups to younger populations.

“If you rush it,” she said, “you can jeopardize the whole approach.”

Dr. Dominik Mertz, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, said it will become even more crucial in the months ahead to assess your comfort level around risk, and the comfort level of those with whom you’re considering spending time.

“Policy decisions aside, it’ll be a discussion,” he said. 

“Some families may decide, OK, my grandparents or parents are vaccinated — they’re high risk, but highly protected — and we as a family decide it’s OK meeting in their house.”


Care home workers get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto in late December. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

But you can also make those efforts to start seeing each other without fully scrapping precautions, he said. Instead of meeting indoors post-vaccination, you could spend time outside where the transmission risk is lower.

“Maybe don’t take the full risk,” Mertz said. “Find something in between, where your personal needs are met but you don’t take the highest possible risk.”

And, he said, it’s important to pay attention to what’s happening in your broader community, not just your own social circle. 

High levels of community transmission would mean the chance of people you know being infected goes up as well. It’s a trend public health officials are watching closely given the cases of highly contagious variants already circulating, which could lead to another surge in cases.

WATCH | Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may curb transmission, early research suggests:

New research conducted in Israel shows that if a person is infected with COVID-19 after receiving a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine there’s less coronavirus in the system, and that could mean the vaccine may help prevention transmission. 1:55

‘Normalcy is on the horizon’

With so much to consider, Canadians could face some frustration and ethical dilemmas over the next year.

Toronto resident Mary Ellen Abrams, who is currently living in a retirement community in Palm Springs, Calif., said she was surprised to get access to a local vaccination program during her stay in the U.S. — but then found herself stumped on what to do next.

“We’re all kind of saying, by mid-March, two weeks after the second dose, we should all be able to hang around each other, to go for dinner together,” said the 65-year-old. “They’ve opened up indoor dining here in California and we thought, ‘Gosh, can we do that?'”

She also wondered whether it would be safe to see her grandchildren in Toronto after she gets back and completes the mandatory hotel quarantine, since she hasn’t spent time with them in-person since last March, beyond saying hello on a front porch or during drive-by greetings.


Mask-wearing, physical distancing and other public health precautions will likely stay in place for some time as vaccinations ramp up, experts say. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

But finding answers to her questions hasn’t been easy, Abrams said, with little information available on any government websites about what you can or can’t do in your daily life post-vaccination.

“Everyone will want to be vaccinated if they know they can get their life back to somewhat normal,” she said.

Vinh said that scenario requires a little more patience to avoid giving the virus more chances to spread during what has the potential to mark a turning point in the pandemic.

“We don’t want to say, ‘Well, we have a vaccine coming and they say it is almost 100 per cent effective, and once I get my first shot I can go out and do my thing, my regular thing,'” he said. “Not yet, not yet.”

The payoff of getting your shot, for now, remains the personal protection it provides, not a sudden end to the pandemic for everyone in your life — even though that’s the ultimate hope for mass vaccination efforts.

Bogler, the Toronto physician and mother to twins, can certainly relate to that feeling.

Memories of her COVID-19 exposures at work are still fresh, including a stretch where she had to isolate from her daughters and partner for two weeks last year. But those close calls likely won’t be the norm for her anymore, taking a weight off her shoulders even as she continues masking, distancing, and staying apart from her parents awhile longer.

“Normalcy is on the horizon,” she said.

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CBC | Health News

Canadian goalkeeper Rylee Foster enjoying life at Liverpool

Rylee Foster is right where she wants to be — and has the ink to prove it.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper from Cambridge, Ont., is a year into her career with the Liverpool FC women. Her love for the storied club pre-dates that, however.

Foster’s grandparents were born in Wavertree, a part of Liverpool near where Foster lives these days.

“I’ve been a Liverpool supporter since I was walking and since I knew what the game was,” Foster said from Canada’s camp in Florida ahead of the SheBelieves Cup. “For me to be able to sign there and bring back my family name into the city where it originated has been an honour for me.”

Her grandparents emigrated to Ontario after the Second World War. Sadly neither got to see her in Liverpool colours.

Foster got a tattoo of the club’s anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” on inside of her bicep after her grandmother passed away in 2013. Her grandfather died in 2018.

‘It’s definitely a new challenge every day’

The Liverpool women have enjoyed mixed fortunes of late.

Relegated from the top-tier Women’s Super League after finishing last season at 1-10-3, the Reds (6-3-4) currently stand fourth in the second-tier Championship.

“Being in the Championship hasn’t been easy for the squad,” said Foster. “It’s definitely a new challenge every day. You don’t know what kind of performances you’re going to get from the clubs that you play against. It’s been hard for us to kind of rise to the challenge every single day.”

Foster has backed up Rachel Laws for the most part but has started in Continental League Cup play, making her competitive debut in October in a 3-1 win over Manchester United. Foster was called into action early, stopping U.S. star Tobin Heath from point-blank range two minutes in.

“That whole match was a career highlight for me. It was great to beat Manchester United. It was great to prove that Liverpool are a team that can still be in the [top-tier] WSL and compete at the highest level. And for myself, I can still compete with the best players in the world.”

She subsequently lost group-round cup games to Everton and Manchester City.

Sorting out the transition to England

Foster played collegiate soccer at West Virginia, playing alongside fellow Canadians Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence, Bianca St-Georges, Carla Portillo and Amandine Pierre-Louis among others.

Foster, who had 39 clean sheets in 84 appearances for the Mountaineers, signed with Liverpool in January 2020, arriving four games before the pandemic lockdown hit. It made for a tough transition, living alone in a small apartment.

“I unfortunately was in England for 3 1/2 months completely on my own,” she said with a laugh.

“It was very challenging, I’ll be honest,” she added. “It was the hardest thing I’ve done on my own. I had just moved to England so I had no idea where people lived, who people were. I had no connections there yet.”

But she managed, adapting as needed.

“I figured it out. I’m still here I’m still standing,” she said “And it helped me a lot. It helped me learn about myself and what I need as an individual as well.”

Foster faces stiff competition in the Canadian camp even if veteran ‘keeper Erin McLeod (118 caps) was forced to leave due to injury. Stephanie Labbe (72 caps) is the incumbent while Kailen Sheridan (nine caps) was named top goalkeeper at the Challenge Cup last summer and was a finalist for NWSL goalkeeper of the year in 2019.

“To be in a camp environment with the girls that I’ve looked up to and aspired to be is an honour,” said Foster. “It’s exciting to be in training with them and learn from them because they are the best of the best.”

Relationship with Priestman

Coach Bev Priestman is expected to trim her roster to 23 ahead of Thursday’s opening match against the top-ranked Americans. Canada, tied for eighth in the world rankings, is already missing captain Christine Sinclair, midfielder Diana Matheson and defenders Buchanan and Lawrence, among others, due to injury and pandemic-related travel restrictions.

While Foster has represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups, this marks her first call-up by the senior side. But she is no stranger to Priestman, who summoned her to some 10 camps during her time as youth coach.

“I love working with her,” Foster said. “She is an amazing coach and she’s helped me develop as a player a lot.”

Emma Humphries, Priestman’s wife, was an assistant coach at Liverpool before quitting to move to Canada.

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CBC | Soccer News

Scientists say noise pollution is harming sea life, needs to be prioritized

Far beneath the ocean surface, a cacophony of industrial noise is disrupting marine animals’ ability to mate, feed and even evade predators, scientists warn.
 
With rumbling ships, hammering oil drills and booming seismic survey blasts, humans have drastically altered the underwater soundscape — in some cases deafening or disorienting whales, dolphins and other marine mammals that rely on sound to navigate, researchers report in a metastudy to be published Friday by the journal Science that examines more than 500 research papers.
 
Even the cracking of glaciers calving into polar oceans and the rattle of rain falling on the water’s surface can be heard deep under the sea, said lead author Carlos Duarte, a marine scientist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
 
“It’s a chronic problem that certainly weakens the animals all the way from individuals to populations,” said Duarte in an interview. “This is a growing problem, one that is global in scope.”
 
These noises and their impacts need more attention from scientists and policymakers, particularly the effects on sea turtles and other reptiles, seabirds, seals, walruses and plant-eating mammals such as manatees, the study says.


A raft of California sea lions enjoys a swim. Sea lions call to each other both above and under the water. (Daniel Costa)

University of Victoria marine biologist Francis Juanes, one of the study’s co-authors, said that while much of the work on the effect of noise had been done on marine mammals, the researchers are seeing consistently negative effects that are pervasive among ocean-dwelling animals. 

“It’s not just whales,” said Juanes, adding that invertebrates and fish are also feeling the effects of noise pollution. “We’ve assumed that the ocean is silent for the most part. But it turns out that it isn’t, and the reason it isn’t is because sound travels very far under water.”

As such, the international team of researchers called for a global regulatory framework for measuring and managing ocean noise.

A composition of underwater recordings from the Arctic to tropical oceans of fish, mammals, crustacea, insects, ice, water, and human-caused sounds. 1:00

Much of the human-caused noise should be easy to reduce, said Duarte. For example, measures such as building quieter ship propellers and hulls and using drilling techniques that do not cause bubbles and water vibrations could cut noise pollution in half, he said.

Having the world use more renewable energy would lessen the need to drill for oil and gas.
 
Duarte said the benefits to marine life could be dramatic, noting a resurgence in marine activity during April 2020 when shipping noise, typically loudest near coastlines, died down as countries went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But humans have not only added noise to the ocean; they have also eliminated natural sounds, the study found.
 
Whaling in the 1900s, for example, removed millions of whales from the world’s oceans — along with much of their whale song. And the chirp and chatter around coral reefs is growing quieter as more corals die from ocean warming, acidification and pollution.

Climate change has also changed the soundscape in parts of the ocean that are warming by altering the mix of animals living there, along with the noises they make.
 
Oceanographer Kate Stafford at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory praised the timing of the metastudy, as the United Nations calls on governments to set aside 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea areas for conservation.
 
“The review makes it clear that, to actually reduce anthrophony (human noise) and aim for a well-managed future … we will need global cooperation among governments,” said Stafford.      

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CBC | World News

Life in Tokyo offers no hint of doubt that Olympics will happen

Less than six months to the start of the postponed Summer Olympics, Tokyo finds itself in its second state of emergency in the past 10 months.

Life, though, remains remarkably normal for most residents.

Businesses and schools are open, athletic clubs are operating, trains are running and restaurants are conducting business daily (though they are requested to close at 8 p.m.). This emergency is far less strict than the first, which ran from April 7 to May 25 last year. The current emergency is slated to end on Feb. 7, though it might be extended until the end of the month. 

The contradiction between appearance and reality were visible recently on an afternoon in Yokohama, where diners at a restaurant could look out the window and see the roller-coaster and carousel at a local amusement park operating on a sunny afternoon.

Since the second emergency, which included the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa Saitama and Chiba, began on Jan. 8, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the greater metropolitan Tokyo area has dipped below 1,000 per day. They were twice that at the beginning of the year.

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has been on the job for just a few months, is trying to balance criticism from those who say his administration is not doing enough to prevent new infections during the pandemic, while also trying to keep the Tokyo Olympics on track for their scheduled opening on July 23. 

This week, the International Olympic Committee released its “playbooks” for how the Tokyo Olympics might operate, with guidelines on testing and vaccinations.

WATCH | Olympic Playbooks explained:

With less than six months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, organizers have said the Games will go on no matter what. Now, they’ve released some preliminary guidelines explaining how that will happen. 1:37

Pandemic fatigue is increasing with each passing month. Suicides among young women increased in Japan in 2020, with experts saying that being cut off from spending time with their friends was a big contributor to the rise. 

At the outset of this second state of emergency, national broadcaster NHK was running continuous graphics about it in an attempt to influence people from leaving home unnecessarily. Terrestrial television still retains significant influence in Japan, but after so many months of dealing with the pandemic, it is unclear how many are actually heeding the suggestion. 


Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been insistent that the Olympics will open as scheduled on July 23. (Associated Press)

The story about the possible cancellation of the Olympics by the Times of London in January rattled the nerves of athletes and officials outside of Japan, but had little impact within the country. Suga’s cabinet and Tokyo Olympics organizers both quickly dismissed the possibility and said plans were moving full steam ahead for the Games, despite public opinion polls showing a large majority want them postponed or cancelled.

But it seems there is just too much money on the line for that to happen. The Japanese government is estimated to have spent $ 23 billion US of taxpayer money preparing for the Games, and the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and TV rights holders have huge financial stakes in the Games going forward.

That being said, as the big extravaganza draws nearer, the likelihood that full venues will be the norm is hard to envision. The reality is that reduced capacity at stadiums and arenas is more likely. In a worst-case scenario, the Olympics could be staged with no spectators, essentially becoming a TV-only event.

The Japanese government is not expected to begin vaccinating the general public for COVID-19 until May, which is just two months before the Olympic flame is set to be lit. It also seems likely that many of the athletes, coaches, trainers and technical people associated with the Games will be vaccinated prior to arriving in Japan, though the IOC has said it will not make it mandatory. But with variants of the virus now appearing, the question of foreign spectators wanting to come and/or being allowed to remains up in the air. As with everything else, it is wait and see.


Roller-coasters and other attractions in the suburban Tokyo area of Yokohama are in operation despite the area being in a state of emergency. (AFP via Getty Images)

Veteran sports writer and Toronto native Jim Armstrong, who has worked in Japan for more than 30 years, believes the prospects of fans attending the Games is pretty grim.

“I would say it is almost zero,” Armstrong said. “If they have the Olympics, I would say it’s almost certain it will be without fans. At least from overseas.”

Organizers admit everything is on the table at this point regarding fans.

“Naturally, we are looking into many different scenarios, so no spectators is one of the options,” Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said last week following a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach. “We don’t want to hold the Games without spectators, but in terms of simulations we are covering all the options.”

Of greater concern in the short term is the effect the second emergency is having on training for the Games. The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to host 11,000 athletes competing in 33 different sports. Foreign athletes are not being allowed into the country now and when they will be again is unclear.

Training for those outside Japan has become a psychological battle as the rumours swirl about the fate of the Olympics. Trying to stay motivated and in condition in what has to be the toughest situation possible, short of war, must be a monumental task.

“All these speculations are hurting the athletes in their preparations,” Bach was quoted as saying by AP after an IOC executive board meeting last week. “We want not to destroy any Olympic dream of any athlete. For all these reasons we are not losing our time and energy on speculations.”

Meanwhile, Francesco Ricci Bitti, the president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, reiterated that all of the bodies representing the 33 different sports are firm in their desire to hold the Tokyo Games following a meeting last week.

“All of them,” Ricci Bitti said. “It’s unanimous. They all want the Games.”

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CBC | Sports News

Unreleased Nintendo Game Boy Keyboard Brought Back to Life

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The original Nintendo Game Boy was among the most popular electronic gizmos for several years running in the late 80s and early 90s, so naturally, there were a lot of accessories. Not all Game Boy accessories were given Nintendo’s explicit blessing, but the Work Boy was. This tiny mobile keyboard appeared briefly in gaming magazines after debuting at CES 1992. The device never launched, fading into obscurity as quickly as it appeared. Gaming history YouTuber Liam Robertson has gotten his hands on a Work Boy — possibly the last one in the world, and it’s working thanks to that giant Nintendo data leak from a few months back. 

The Work Boy was a project from Source Research and Development and produced by Fabtek Inc with direct oversight from Nintendo. It consisted of a full QWERTY keyboard and a software suite to go with it. If the Work Boy had launched, it would have turned the gaming handheld into a rudimentary PDA with functions like currency conversion, an address book, a clock, and a calendar. Just as the device and its software were nearing completion, Nintendo announced its intention to drop the price of the Game Boy. Fabtek, worrying that people wouldn’t buy an accessory that was more expensive than the Game Boy itself, scrapped the project. 

That might have been the end of it if not for a series of features in gaming magazines. Liam Robertson started investigating the history of the Work Boy 28 years after its debut. Since Fabtek decided to can the project, you can’t just go out and buy a Work Boy. Luckily, Fabtek founder Frank Ballouz had a prototype still in his possession, possibly the last extant Work Boy in the world. 

Robertson was dismayed to learn that the Work Boy, which connected to the Game Boy via an integrated link cable, didn’t do anything when plugged in. As it turns out, there was a cartridge component that ran most of the Work Boy’s software. Without a copy of that, the accessory was forever dead. By happenstance, a massive Nintendo IP leak known as the Gigaleak happened just a few weeks after Robertson got his hands on the Work Boy, and hiding in the many gigabytes of Nintendo history was the Work Boy’s near-final software. 

Robertson burned the Work Boy software (v8.87) into a reusable cart and plugged the device in — and it worked. You can see the Work Boy working in the video above. While the functionality is meager by today’s standards, it would have been incredible in the early 90s. Owners could have maintained databases and track other data with a (marginally) portable device. It even supported dialing phone numbers by playing dial tones into the receiver. 

You can understand why the Work Boy got the ax — it was bulky, expensive, and the keyboard itself looked hard to use. It would be years before another handheld device would get this kind of functionality. But it would have been fun to see the Work Boy hit the market.

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Sask. woman who got stomach removed to thwart cancer describes life with ‘ticking time bomb’

For years, Summer Heide didn’t eat spicy food because the slightest indigestion would trigger fears that she had stomach cancer.

She would lay awake at night, terrified that she would die and leave her children without a mother.

Heide, a 32-year old farmer from southeastern Saskatchewan, isn’t a hypochondriac. A rare and deadly stomach cancer runs in her family and, since learning she inherited a gene mutation that could cause cancer, she’s been forced to make agonizing decisions and take drastic steps to save her own life.

“It was just too much fear over the unknown,” Heide said. “There was always the little bit of ‘When is the ticking time bomb going to go off? When might I get the cancer?'”

DNA discovery

Heide was only a toddler when her aunt, RoseMarie Lawrence, passed away from stomach cancer in 1991. She was just 29 years old.

That kind of stomach cancer, known as diffuse gastric cancer, is particularly sneaky. Cancer cells grow in loose clusters — not a tumour — that can easily move and multiply in the stomach lining. Initial symptoms, such as heartburn, seem innocuous. By the time the cancer is detected, it’s usually too late.

Heide’s uncle Luke Lawrence, RoseMarie’s husband, remembers asking the doctor whether their two children were at risk of getting the cancer.

“I was very concerned for my children because I knew nothing about cancer,” he said. “[The doctor] says ‘Cancer is not contagious.’ At that time, they didn’t know anything about hereditary forms of cancer.”


Luke Lawrence lost his wife and daughter to an aggressive stomach cancer that the family eventually learned was hereditary. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Sixteen years later his daughter Erin, Heide’s cousin, was diagnosed with the same cancer that had killed her mother.

She was 20 years old and passed away within seven months.

Before she passed away, doctors suggested Erin get genetic testing. She took a blood test, one that didn’t exist before her mother died, and discovered she had a rare mutation in the CDH1 gene that causes Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer Syndrome. It’s a disorder that can pass down through families and puts people at a high risk for developing stomach cancer at a young age.

A child has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene mutation from a parent who is a carrier.

“We didn’t know none of this until it was far too late because Erin had already been diagnosed with Stage 4 of this form of cancer,” said Luke Lawrence, “So [the testing] was to create an awareness for the family, more so than what we could do for Erin. That’s why we did it.”

The family calls it “Erin’s Gift.”

In 2007, Heide and seven other family members went for predictive genetic testing to see if they also carried the gene mutation. Five tested positive, including her grandmother, her father, and herself. 


Summer Heide (second from right) tested positive for the gene mutation that causes Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC). So did her sister, Ali Kowaluk (left) and her father, Clint Birkenshaw (second from left). Her brother, Caleb Birkenshaw (right), tested negative. (Submitted by Summer Heide)

Heide was 19 when she got the results.

“It was devastating, obviously, but I think I was so young and naive that I didn’t actually think about what that meant,” Heide said.

What it meant was Heide’s chances of developing the deadly stomach cancer by age 80 were as high as 83 per cent. Women who have the mutation also have an estimated 60 per cent risk of developing lobular breast cancer in their lifetime.

Genetic testing revealed that Summer Heide has a gene mutation that increases her chances of developing a deadly stomach cancer. That discovery has forced Heide to make agonizing decisions that affect her life and the lives of her children. 5:21

Demand for genetic testing increases

Demand for cancer-related genetic testing has increased exponentially over the past two decades, according to the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors. Referrals to some genetic testing clinics in the country have doubled or even tripled in recent years.

“Patients are more aware of it, physicians are more aware of it, and the testing has become better. The technology has improved,” said Ingrid Ambus, a genetic counsellor at North York General Hospital in Toronto, adding that testing can now diagnose hereditary cancer syndromes beyond the more common ovarian and breast cancers.

Less than 10 per cent of cancers have hereditary causes, but researchers have identified more than 80 genes in which mutations can be passed down through families and potentially cause cancer.

Ambus said patients often find it “empowering” to know that a cancer runs in their family so they can seek counselling, screen for the cancer, make lifestyle changes or have preventative surgery.


Summer Heide was 19 years when she learned she had inherited a gene mutation that put her at high risk of developing developing a deadly stomach cancer at a young age. (Submitted by Summer Heide)

A genetic counsellor advised Heide that the only way for her to prevent aggressive gastric cancer would be to remove her entire stomach, a procedure called a prophylactic total gastrectomy.

She met with a surgeon in 2007, but was told there wasn’t enough clinical information available at that time to guarantee that she could have children after a total gastrectomy.

She decided to wait.

Soon, she would have to make another difficult choice.

Passing on the gene

When Heide and her husband were ready to have children, they had the option to do in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis on her embryos. That would have allowed them to only implant embryos that didn’t have the mutation.

“I didn’t want to do that,” said Heide. “I do feel like some feel like it’s a little bit selfish, because I could spare my kids from having the gene. But I wouldn’t get the kids that I have if I were to choose that, and I would never choose anybody different.”


Summer and Nick Heide welcomed their first child, Mikka, into the world on May 8, 2009. (Submitted by Summer Heide)

After Heide and her husband had their first two children, Mikka and Harlow, her anxiety began to grow. She was tortured by the fact that her cousin Erin had passed away just seven months after diagnosis. Heide wondered whether cancer was already forming inside her.

“No one would love [my daughters] like me. So every, like, Christmas or birthday, or any type of holiday, I would always go above — take lots of pictures, make it perfect — in case it was their last one with me,” she said.

Heide still resisted the idea of getting an invasive surgery to remove her stomach. She was worried about long-lasting side affects, including diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue.

She’d also had one of her veins cut during a routine endoscopy — a diagnostic test to look for cancer — and began to vomit blood and lose consciousness.

“I was mentally making peace with myself and God that maybe my time had come. That shakes a person deeply,” she said.

From that point on, she had a deep fear of medical procedures. She would schedule a gastrectomy, then cancel.

Game changer

Then, in 2014, her younger sister, Ali Kowaluk, decided to get genetic testing.

Kowaluk admits she had procrastinated. Then she got married and began to contemplate having children. She knew it was time to visit a genetic counsellor at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

She tested positive for the gene mutation and knew immediately that she would have the surgery.


Ali Kowaluk poses pregnant in 2019. Five years earlier, she started contemplated having children and decided she needed to know for her future children’s sake whether she carried that gene mutation that could lead to cancer. (Debra Mavin Photography)

Kowaluk had her entire stomach removed at the age of 23. Afterward, the surgeon told her that tests on tissues removed from her revealed Stage 1 cancer.

“So that was hard to hear, still hard to talk about. I don’t talk about that part very much,” Kowaluk said, choking up.

Undetected, the aggressive cancer would have certainly gone on to kill her. The surgery saved her life.

“I could not be here today,” Kowaluk said.

Now a mother of one-year-old Winston, Kowaluk is shaken by how close she came to passing away like her cousin Erin.

Kowaluk’s near-death experience was a wake-up call for big sister, Heide.

One night, after both of her daughters fell asleep during their bedtime story, one curled up under each arm, she lay there praying to God and silently sobbing. The next morning, she woke up with mental clarity. It was time to have the surgery.

“Knowing you carry a gene with such devastating potential is a heavy weight to carry. It was heavier than I could mentally handle any longer,” she said. 


Summer Heide’s daughter, Mikka, coaxes her mother into taking a walk inside a Calgary hospital a few days after she had surgery to remove her stomach. (Submitted by Summer Heide)

Heide got her stomach removed at Calgary Foothills Hospital in 2015.

The recovery took nearly a year and was excruciating, she said. She could barely get off the couch some days.

Two years after the surgery, despite not knowing if it was possible, she got pregnant and had a third child, a boy named Huxley. It seemed to reset her body, she said.

The next generation

Today, Heide stands in her kitchen, sunshine pouring through the window, snacking on tiny bites of chicken and cottage cheese.

The 5-foot-5, 105-pound woman eats every couple hours and only small amounts, because she doesn’t have a stomach to digest and store food. She has to chew everything until it’s mush, and eating and drinking fluid at the same time pushes food into her small intestine too quickly and makes her sick.

She has reached a level of peace and confidence with her health that she hasn’t had in years.

“Of course, I wish we didn’t have this gene, but it’s also a gift that we know about it, because I might not be sitting here today if I didn’t know about it,” she said.


Sisters Ali Kowaluk (left) and Summer Heide (right) pose with their sons at Heide’s home near Rocanville, Sask.. The two women have had their entire stomachs surgically removed. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Unfortunately, her worries aren’t over.

“The worry about myself has now been put onto my kids, because I just worry and hope that none of them have the gene,” Heide said,

Each of her three children, and Kowaluk’s son, has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene mutation. They can get tested when they’re 18.

The two women hope that, by then, medical advancements will provide better options for testing, treating and preventing the disease.

“I have high hopes for him,” Kowaluk said of her son Winston.

Heide shares the same optimism.

“It’s hard, but it is what it is. We’re lucky that we get a chance at life.”

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Raptors’ Ujiri believes teamwork will help players adapt to life in Tampa

Their practice facility is still under construction. The players and staff are on the hunt for temporary housing in Tampa.

As the NBA’s only team playing outside of its market — and country — this season, the Toronto Raptors have numerous hurdles to clear.

But team president Masai Ujiri said if there’s a unique trait about Toronto, it’s his roster’s ability to come together in the face of big challenges.

He expects nothing less in this bizarre campaign.

“Listen, this is not an easy task here,” Ujiri said on a Zoom video conference call Saturday. “There’s a lot of sacrifices to it. I know the whole world is sacrificing now and we are coming into a game and we’re working at a job that we love.

“When we decide this is something that we are going to do, we all want to do it together. I’m proud of this organization, honestly, to make this jump.”

WATCH | Masai Ujiri on how bubble environment prepared Raptors:

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri discusses how his team is adjusting to life in their new environment. 3:06

The Raptors begin team practices Sunday in Tampa, where they’ll play their “home” games at Amalie Arena at least for part of the season due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19.

Ujiri spoke to the media for nearly 40 minutes Saturday, touching on everything from free agency and front-office contracts, to keeping the Black Lives Matter momentum going, and the seventh anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death.

The Raptors learned less than three weeks ago they wouldn’t be permitted to play out of Scotiabank Arena. The last-minute location change has meant rushing to build a practice court in a hotel ballroom and finding the players and staff housing.

Supporting players, staff is No. 1

Replicating the comforts of Toronto’s OVO Centre practice facility won’t be easy, but Ujiri said if the team’s reaction to the bubble’s ballroom courts during the NBA’s summer restart is any indication, the team will adapt.

“I remember walking into the ballroom in the bubble almost the same time as Kyle [Lowry] and Fred [VanVleet]. I’ll never forget that image in my head. Right away they dribbled the ball and just got to it,” Ujiri said. “These guys are hoopers. There was no complaint, there was nothing, all they wanted to do was play. That’s how basketball players are, they see that hoop, they see that wooden floor and they just want to play.”

Ujiri, who is with the team in Florida and was also in the Walt Disney World “bubble” after the resumption of play, said priority No. 1 is supporting the players and staff in relocating.

“As the leader of the organization you try as hard as you can to make your staff, your players, everybody feel as comfortable as you can,” he said. “That’s why you always want to be in the environment that they are in too so that you are experiencing it with them.”

The global pandemic will determine whether the Raptors will be home before the end of the season.

“Whether we are in Naples [Toronto’s pre-bubble camp], whether we are in a bubble in Orlando, whether we’re here, whether we’re coming back, we play sports to win,” he said. “You are going to have adversity … wherever we end up, home in Toronto, we love you guys there and we will do everything for you guys.”

Whether fans will be allowed at Amalie Arena for the 18 home games scheduled so far — the league has released only the first half of the season schedule — is still a question mark. Florida had over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, and recently surpassed the one-million mark in total cases.

“We’re in the process of working all these things [out], and I don’t have definite answer for you, but the health and safety protocols are going to be important to us,” said Ujiri, who thanked the Orlando Magic for allowing the Raptors to play within the same market.

WATCH | Ujiri on the loss of free agents Ibaka, Gasol:

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri explains the factors that resulted in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol signing with different teams. 1:19 

Uncertainty around where they’d play pushed the renegotiation of staff contracts to the backburner, but Ujiri said GM Bobby Webster’s new contract is virtually a done deal.

Revamped front court

There remains roster uncertainly around the future of Terence Davis, who faces seven charges, including assault and harassment after allegedly striking his girlfriend. Davis, who is with the team in Tampa, appears in court Dec. 11, a day before the Raptors tip off the pre-season at Charlotte.

Ujiri said the team must respect the process of the players’ association and the league’s investigation.

“We made a decision as an organization with all the information we had with us. I will say this: We don’t condone anything that resembles what was alleged to have happened … we’ve done as much due diligence in talking to Terence, in talking to our organization,” Ujiri said. “We went as far as even talking to all the women in our organization and getting their point of view.”

The Raptors revamped their front court in free agency after losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. With so much riding on the 2021 off-season and free agency, Ujiri said that limited “term and years” the Raptors could offer their former big men.

“Marc and Serge were incredible for our organization, and all of us have the same exact feelings about them,” he said. “Hard to see, but sometimes we have to move on from these things.”

The Raptors added Aron Baynes, a “guy that you don’t like on the other team and you love on your team,” Ujiri said, and Alex Len to fill the void.

The NBA’s developmental G League is also in limbo, and when — or if — it does tip off this season, Raptors 905, which runs out of Mississauga, Ont., faces the same travel restrictions as its parent club. That doesn’t mean they won’t figure out a way to play.

“I will say this, whatever the G League is doing, the Toronto Raptors and 905 will participate,” Ujiri said.

A CBC “kid reporter” posed the Zoom call’s final question to Ujiri, asking how young fans can follow the team while they’re not playing at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

“We’re here! We’re on TV! You can see us — we’re not going anywhere,” Ujiri said to the young reporter. “We’re right here with you guys. And we’ll be back. We’ll be back soon enough. We’re going to give it our all, we’re going to try and play our best … this goes fast. A couple days ago we were in the bubble. We’re right here now.”

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FIFA bans Haitian soccer president for life for sexual abuse

Haitian soccer federation president Yves Jean-Bart was banned from the sport for life on Friday following accusations of systematic sexual abuse of female players.

The FIFA ethics committee found Jean-Bart guilty of “having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors” from 2014 until this year.

He was also fined $ 1.1 million US.

Jean-Bart has denied the allegations, which involve national team players. The accusations were first revealed by British newspaper The Guardian in April.

An appeal will be filed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, a spokesman for Jean-Bart said in a statement.

“FIFA’s decision is a travesty of justice and purely political move to avoid further controversy and bad press following a series of high-profile scandals,” spokesman Evan Nierman said.

Incidents allegedly took place at ‘The Ranch’

The abuse is said to have happened at the country’s national training centre at Croix-des-Bouquets, which FIFA helped fund. It was known as “The Ranch.”

As the head of Haitian soccer since 2000, Jean-Bart “wielded huge power and has high-level connections into the government, political, and legal systems,” Human Rights Watch said.

Haitian state authorities have been urged by the advocacy group to investigate the allegations and protect the players, who also said they were intimidated and threatened.

“This is not a case of one bad apple,” Human Rights Watch global initiatives director Minky Worden said ahead of the FIFA verdict. “Athletes have testified that many other officials in the Haitian Football Federation — officials responsible for their safety — either participated in sexual abuse or knew and turned a blind eye.”

3 others suspended 

Three more Haitian federation officials have been suspended from work while FIFA investigators gather evidence, technical director Wilner Etienne, national centre girls’ supervisor Nela Joseph, and assistant coach Yvette Felix.

Federation officials are accused of being “principals, accomplices or instigators” in the systematic abuse, FIFA said Friday.

Jean-Bart had been “actually investigated and cleared” by the judicial system in Haiti, his spokesman said.

“FIFA failed to review actual evidence which is why Dr. Jean-Bart expects to be fully exonerated and reinstated after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” Nierman said.

Since the allegations were revealed, FIFA has pledged to work on safeguarding players in an agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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CBC | Soccer News