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Canadian Michael Kovrig, accused by China of spying, goes on trial in Beijing

The trial of Michael Kovrig, the second of two Canadians detained in China for more than two years, is underway in Beijing in a closed courtroom, a senior Canadian diplomat said Monday.

China arrested Kovrig, a former diplomat, and fellow Canadian Michael Spavor in December 2018, soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei, on a U.S. warrant.

Beijing insists the detentions are not linked to the arrest of Meng, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the United States.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed Sunday that Canadian officials won’t be granted permission to attend.

“We’ve requested access to Michael Kovrig’s hearing repeatedly but that access is being denied” over national security reasons, said Jim Nickel, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Canada to China, outside the court on Monday in Beijing. 

“Now we see that the court process itself is not transparent. We’re very troubled by this.”


The trial of Kovrig, pictured in this file image made from a March 28, 2018, video, is underway in China, according to Nickel. (File photo/The Associated Press)

In a show of solidarity, 28 diplomats from 26 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Netherlands and Czech Republic, turned up outside the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on Monday, which was marked by a heavy police presence.

“[U.S.] President [Joe] Biden and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken have said that in dealing with the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the United States will treat these two individuals as if they were American citizens,” William Klein, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, told reporters as he stood beside Nickel.


Jim Nickel, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Canada to China, centre, Willian Klein, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in China, left, speak to media as they arrive to request entry to the closed trial for Michael Kovrig on Monday in Beijing. (Getty Images)

“We are here to show solidarity. Arbitrary detention is not the way,” another diplomat told Reuters, declining to be named as she was not authorized to speak on the record about the Canadians’ trial.

More than 50 countries signed a declaration in February to condemn the arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.

Some diplomats took off their face masks as they posed for a group photo outside the court, with each shouting out which country they represented to help reporters identify them.

Verdict to come in Spavor trial

On Friday, Spavor, a businessman, underwent a trial behind closed doors in a court in the northeastern city of Dandong. The court said it will set a date later for a verdict.

Canadian and other diplomats were not allowed to attend Spavor’s trial on what China said were national security grounds, a lack of transparency that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “completely unacceptable.”

Observers have said the likely convictions of the two men could ultimately facilitate a diplomatic agreement whereby they are released and sent back to Canada. Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 per cent.


Police officers stand outside a Beijing court where Kovrig is standing trial. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Earlier Sunday, Vina Nadjibulla, Kovrig’s wife, praised recent public comments from Trudeau, Biden and Blinken in support of “the two Michaels,” as they have become known around the world. 

But Nadjibulla said in an interview on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live that she wants to see those words translated into actions that secure their release as soon as possible.

“Solidarity and support and words are good, and we must continue to say those things,” Nadjibulla told host Rosemary Barton.

“But what really will make a difference for Michael [Kovrig] and for Michael Spavor now are actions and concerted diplomatic effort on the part of all three governments to find a path forward.”

WATCH | Michael Kovrig’s wife calls for end of detention ahead of trial:

The wife of Canadian Michael Kovrig, who was to stand trial Monday in China for alleged espionage, is calling for a diplomatic solution to end the detention of her husband as well as fellow jailed Canadian Michael Spavor. 2:01

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CBC | World News

Canada goes for double gold as Blouin, McMorris win snowboard big air world titles

Canada earned double gold in snowboard big air as Laurie Blouin and Mark McMorris won their respective events at the snowboard and freeski world championships on Tuesday in Aspen, Colo.

Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., gave Canada a third spot on the snowboarding podium with a second-place finish in the men’s event.

Blouin, from Stoneham, Que., earned her second career gold medal at a world championships. She also won at the worlds in slopestyle in 2017.

The 24-year-old Blouin, a silver medallist in slopestyle at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, scored 177.75 points to edge 2021 world slopestyle winner Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand (176.76).

WATCH | Blouin soars to gold:

Laurie Blouin from Stoneham, Que., finishes 1st in women’s snowboard big air at world championships. 3:13

Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan (174.75) won bronze.

McMorris, from Regina, had 179.25 points, while Parrot had 178.25.

2021 men’s slopestyle champ Marcus Kleveland of Norway (176.25) was third.

The 27-year-old McMorris has won two Olympic bronze medals in slopestyle.

WATCH | McMorris golden in Aspen:

Regina native Mark Morris wins the men’s event at snowboard big air world championships. 3:49

WATCH | Parrot settles for silver:

Max Parrot of Bromont, Que. finishes 2nd in men’s snowboard big air at world championships. 2:55

Earlier, Canadian Edouard Therriault scored his first world championship medal, earning silver in the freeski big air event.

The Lorraine, Que., native native finished 2-¼ points short of a gold medal, finishing behind Sweden’s Oliwer Magnusson, who scored 185.25 point as the final competitor to take the third and final jump.

“I was able to land the tricks I came here to do and had so much fun today,” said Therriault.

“I came into the event with a game-plan and was aiming to at least get a top ten with a good score, but I never thought I would get on the podium.”

Following up in third place was Switzerland’s Kim Gubser, who finished with a score of 180.75.

Canadian Evan Mceachran finished in fifth with a score of 178.75.

WATCH | Quebec native Edouard Therriault captures silver in ski big air event in worlds debut:

Edouard Therriault of Lorraine, Que., saved his best for last, scoring 93.50 on his final jump to claim silver at the FIS freestyle ski world championships men’s big air event in Aspen, Colo. 2:18

On the women’s side, Canada’s Megan Oldham finished in fourth place with a score of 158.75. 

WATCH | Ontario native Megan Oldham falls short of medal aspirations with fourth place finish:

With a chance to win a silver medal with her final jump, Megan Oldham of Parry Sound, Ont., crashed and had to settle for fourth place in the FIS freestyle ski world championships women’s big air event in Aspen, Colo. 2:44

Russia’s Anastasia Tatalina blew the competition away with a score of 184.50 on her way to a gold medal. Behind her was fellow Russian Lana Prusakova with a score of 165.50 and China’s Ailing Eileen Gu who took bronze with a score of 161.50.

WATCH | Russia’s Anastasia Tatalina blows skies past competition en route to 1st career championship medal:

Russia’s Anastasia Tatalina won the FIS freestyle ski world championships women’s big air event in Aspen, Colo. without having to complete her third jump, which she did just for fun. 3:04

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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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Razer’s Tomahawk Ultra-Compact Desktop PC Goes on Sale This Month

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Razer has a habit of showing up at CES with wild concept hardware that it never releases, but the Tomahawk gaming PC it showed off at last year’s event is becoming a reality. The ultra-compact PC will be available for pre-order this very month with specs including a Core i7 CPU and up to an Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card. Razer’s new PC won’t come cheap, though. Pricing will start at $ 2,399. 

The Tomahawk is even smaller than the mini-ITX computers you’ve probably seen — it has a total volume of just 11.5 liters (8.7 inches by 15.9 inches x 14.3 inches). About half of the internal volume is dedicated to the full-size GPU, of which there will be several options. You can also get the Tomahawk without an included GPU so you can plug in your own. 

The computer is so small thanks mostly to Intel’s mini computing platform known as NUC (Next Unit of Computing). These machines use a single-board design that integrates the motherboard, CPU, memory, and SSD in a single module. The Tomahawk will run on a somewhat older Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU, which has a maximum clock speed of 5GHz. It also has 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 2TB spinning hard drive, and a spare M.2 slot for even more super-fast storage. 

You can, of course, get a gaming PC with similar specs for a lot less money. However, that hardware will take up a lot more space and it won’t look nearly as nice. So, you’re paying for the form factor here as much as for the specs. In addition, Razer is offering to sell these systems with RTX 3000-series GPUs. You can’t buy those cards directly from retailers right now — resellers have scooped them all up and are selling for several hundred (if you’re lucky) over MSRP. The Tomahawk might be worth buying for some folks just to get the video card without overpaying. 

Razer says the Tomahawk will be easy to repair or modify thanks to the tool-free sled design. Just yank it out of the chassis, and all the components are laid bare. While the hardware is ideal for gaming, Razer is also pushing the Tomahawk as an option for PC-loving creators and professionals who want a compact, powerful computer without cobbling together parts on their own. This system packs dual Ethernet, four USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Razer has yet to update its website with purchase information for this month’s pre-order, but it won’t be long now. It’ll be interesting to see what configurations Razer offers — the Tomahawk might be your best bet to buy an RTX 3000 GPU without getting fleeced.

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A sad day for CFL fans as Grey Cup Sunday goes dark for 2020

This time, on this Sunday in late November, there are no horses roaming around in a hotel lobby, a tradition dating back to 1948.

There’s no Pigskin Pete chanting ‘Oskee Wee Wee!’ from street corners or the sidelines.

Groceries stores in the host Grey Cup city aren’t running low on watermelons, after a green wave of fans from Saskatchewan showed up to party.

And there will be no fly-over above the stadium just minutes before game time, the surge of the jet engines injecting excitement and electricity into the venue.

Fans, many bleary-eyed from a week-long bender, aren’t waking up on this Sunday having to will themselves awake and muster up one last push to kick-off.

For the first time since 1919 the Grey Cup won’t be awarded to a deserving Canadian Football League team and that means the shenanigans that goes with a quintessentially Canadian and quirky celebration isn’t playing out either.

Instead, Mosaic Stadium in Regina which was meant to host this year’s championship game sits empty, more than 33,000 green, plastic chairs out in the cold. The snow hasn’t been cleared from the aisles awaiting the rush of fans to take their seats.


A Saskatchewan Roughriders fan wears the traditional watermelon helmet as he arrives for the 97th Grey Cup game in Calgary in 2009. (File/The Canadian Press)

The lights and buzz and hum of Grey Cup Sunday, hushed.

This is a dark time in the league’s history. Unable to play in 2020 after the league officially cancelled the season in August, many questions still remain as the CFL tries to remain optimistic about its future, earlier this week releasing a “comeback” 2021 schedule.

But this isn’t the first time the CFL has been in a precarious position. In past decades, there have been times the league teetered on the edge of collapse, only to find a way to play another season. And much like the league itself, the Grey Cup trophy has also endured.

Commissioned at a cost of $ 48 in 1909, the 13-inch silver chalice with a wooden base certainly comes from humble beginnings. That small trophy has grown mightily over the years, becoming the grand, shiny, prize players hold over their heads after winning it – sometimes they break it too.

WATCH | Examining the decision to cancel 2020 CFL season:

Between other leagues starting up again and the CFL’s livelihood depending on ticket sales, Devin Heroux explains the ramifications of the lost season. 12:05

In fact, the Grey Cup has been broken too many times to count now – overzealous players so thrilled to finally hoist it, snapping the original top from its base. The trophy has been stolen twice, held ransom once and even survived a 1947 fire that destroyed numerous artifacts housed in the same building.

This Sunday, though, the trophy won’t be ushered out by Mounties and presented to the champions.

And for as much as the championship has been about two teams waging war on the field in the hopes of names being etched into the side of the trophy, forever being a champion in Canada’s football league, it perhaps more importantly has been about bringing people together.

Whether a Ticats, Stamps, Bombers, Riders, Edmonton, Als, Argos, Lions or Redblacks fan and whether you’re a diehard or casual observer of the CFL, for millions of Canadians on this one Sunday in late November, the Grey Cup has symbolized community and celebration.

Forget the beach or some exotic foreign country, people plan their annual holidays around Grey Cup week — attend any one of these national celebrations and you’ll get the feeling it’s more like a family reunion, many of the same faces and costumes appearing year after year. The country this one week in November feels a little smaller and a lot more united.

It’s meant Shania Twain riding a dog sled into the stadium to perform the halftime show. It’s meant 13th Man heartbreak. The Fog Bowl in 1962, Ice Bowl in 1977 and the Snow Bowl 1996. John Candy in a long leather coat in Winnipeg, watching his Argos win it all. Tom Hanks and Martin Short in Regina.


Shania Twain performs during the halftime show during the 105th Grey Cup in November of 2017 in Ottawa. (File/The Canadian Press)

It’s meant last-second field goals, body-contorting catches and plot twists in the waning minutes only the CFL can manufacture. No lead is ever safe.

It’s produced heroes, from Warren Moon to Tony Gabriel, Rocket to Pinball and Ridgway to Flutie. The list goes on.

The weight of not playing a CFL season is being felt today more than any other time throughout the last seven months because on this Sunday in late November, millions of Canadians are supposed to be gathering in their homes, placing their bets and enjoying their favourite snacks and beverages. It’s just what’s happened on this day in November for decades.

The league will survive. It always has. And that treasured trophy will be lifted to the heavens again as confetti swirls and the bright lights of the stadium shines down on the champions.

But on this Sunday in late November, the promise of what might just happen next over 60 minutes of Grey Cup football is gone.

And it’s missed.

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CBC | Sports News

Chromebooks Gain Market Share as Education Goes Online

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For nearly a decade, Chromebooks have existed on the outer rim of the PC market. While they accounted for an appreciable number of yearly sales, they weren’t exactly lighting the enthusiast market on fire with their value proposition. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged the need for laptop deployments across the United States, and Chromebooks have been flying off shelves as manufacturers try to meet demand.

When we covered the PC market’s growth in Q3 2020, we noted that Chromebook shipments had spiked particularly high. IDC now reports 90 percent growth in Chromebook shipments year-on-year, compared with a 15 percent growth rate in all PCs. Volume-wise, Chromebooks accounted for 11 percent of total PC shipments last quarter.

The threat of market loss to Chromebooks, in my opinion, is at least part of what’s driving Microsoft’s push to move Minecraft players over to Microsoft accounts. For 25 years or more, Microsoft has been able to count on the fact that most users would be exposed to Windows as children and grow up in the Windows ecosystem. Even the explosive growth of mobile and Microsoft’s failure to gain market share didn’t threaten that, because the majority of people still had a computer, and that computer ran Windows.

Chromebooks represent a particular threat to Microsoft because Chromebook introduction starts when children are young. If Microsoft can’t count on the education system to effectively serve as a familiarization and training routine for most of its eventual customers, it has to build support and brand inclusion in other places. By making Microsoft accounts a requirement for gaming or Office 365 and expanding the ways in which you can use them, the company is trying to build brand presence around a future that isn’t necessarily Windows-centric.

Microsoft has had a service called “Windows Virtual Desktop” for several years that runs an OS instance on Azure and gives you a virtual desktop in the cloud to work with. Windows is still critical to Microsoft’s finances and business model, but the company is moving away from the idea that Windows is something you have to run on local hardware as the primary operating system.

What About x86 vs. ARM?

I couldn’t find any recent information on whether x86 or ARM has the larger share of the Chromebook market, but a survey of Dell, HP, and Lenovo shows far more x86 devices than ARM products. If I had to guess, I’d guess that x86 Chromebooks are more popular in the United States, while Asia-Pacific companies are likely to be more focused on systems with MediaTek chips.

Lenovo 10e Chromebook Tablet. Image by Lenovo

Pricing is all over the place, in more than one sense. First, Chromebook prices start around $ 250 and range as high as $ 800-$ 1,000. Second, it’s important to pay attention to specs to make sure you’re getting a decent deal. Lenovo, for example, has the 10e Chromebook tablet at $ 269, with a recent eight-core MediaTek MT8183 (4x Cortex-A73, 4x Cortex-A53) CPU, 10.1-inch screen at 1920×1200, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC (ouch!), and a Mali G72 G3. Cost, if it was in stock? $ 269.

Alternately, you could buy a Lenovo 300e Chromebook laptop based on a five-year-old CPU with half the cores and built on 28nm HPM as opposed to TSMC’s 12nm process. The MediaTek MT8173C is, on average, 77 percent as fast as the MediaTek MT8183 mentioned above based on data from Notebookcheck.net. (Note: Some of the Notebookcheck.net results claim that the MT8173 and MT8183 literally performed identically, which is unusual for a benchmark run. This data is suspect, but where actual numbers exist, they show a consistent advantage for the MT8183. Its newer process node, with 2x the core count of the MT8173, make this a realistic possibility.

Lenovo 300e Chromebook laptop. Image by Lenovo.

The MT8173 falls particularly short in the graphics department, where the MT8183 is sometimes twice as fast as its predecessor. Now it’s true that on the laptop you get an actual keyboard and a slightly larger screen (11.4 inches, 1366×768), but you’re stuck with a significantly slower CPU, slower RAM (LPDDR4X-1866 instead of 3200), and the exact same storage and RAM restrictions (4GB soldered / 32GB eMMC). The tablet supports Bluetooth 4.2 while the laptop uses 4.1. What you’re paying for, basically, is the hinge. Price? $ 429. The $ 269 tablet supports a laptop connection via pogo pin.

I’m not throwing shade on Lenovo for throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks, but you have to be careful about these kinds of issues when shopping for them. If what you care about is buying a PC to last the longest time possible, the $ 269 tablet with a supported keyboard is going to blow the $ 429 laptop out of the water, especially when there are $ 499 Chromebook laptops with much better CPUs.

Chromebooks don’t necessarily put pressure on AMD or Intel, so long as either company is capable of building chips to compete in the space with the latest ARM designs. Microsoft, on the other hand, could be in some trouble if this trend continues.

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Polish President Duda infected with coronavirus; tennis star Swiatek goes into quarantine

Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus and is subject to quarantine but is feeling good, officials announced on Saturday, as the country imposed fresh restrictions to try to stem a surge in the disease.

“The president yesterday was tested for the presence of coronavirus. The result turned out to be positive. The president is fine. We are in constant contact with the relevant medical services,” presidential minister Blazej Spychalski said on Twitter.

One of the people Duda met in recent days was tennis star Iga Swiatek, who said soon after the announcement that the president has been infected that she feels good, but will quarantine.

“Neither I nor members of my team have symptoms of coronavirus. We carry out tests regularly. We will quarantine ourselves in accordance with current procedures,” the 19-year-old said in a Twitter post.

Fresh from winning the French Open earlier this month and gaining national hero status for doing so, Swiatek met with Duda on Friday, when she was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit for her achievements in sports and promotion of the country internationally.

Duda, 48, holds a mainly ceremonial role, but has the power to veto legislation. He is an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

“The president is a young man, I think that he will pass the infection without problems,” Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told private radio RMF.

He added that he expects that all people who had contact with Duda in recent days will be quarantined. This should include Swiatek, he said.

Poland is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, with new infections hitting a daily record of 13,632 on Friday. The country recorded 13,628 new cases on Saturday.

New measures

More restrictions to curb the spread of the virus came into force on Saturday, including a two-week shutdown of restaurants and bars. Schools will remain open, but only children up to third grade will attend, with older students moving to distance learning.

The government sent text messages on Saturday morning to Poles, urging them to stay home and help elderly people.

The government has also banned public gatherings of more than five people.

Despite this, thousands poured onto streets on Friday night to protest over a ruling on Thursday by the Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.


Police officers try to detain a protester as demonstrators gather for a second consecutive day against a Constitutional Court ruling on tightening Poland’s abortion law on Friday night in Warsaw. The decision means that abortions will only be permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s health is at risk. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

The country’s health ministry reported 153 coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total toll to 4,172. Poland has reported a total of 228,318 cases.

The health-care system has begun to buckle under the weight of mounting infections, forcing the government to set up field hospitals.

The ruling nationalists have faced criticism in recent days from the opposition that the country is not prepared enough for the second coronavirus wave. Recent opinion polls have shown a drop in support for both PiS and Duda.

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Trump goes after Fauci as polls show him trailing Biden in key battleground states

U.S. President Donald Trump sought Monday to buck up his campaign staff two weeks from Election Day, calling top infectious-disease scientists “idiots” as polls showed him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden across key battleground states.

Trump was facing intense pressure to turn around his campaign, hoping for the type of last-minute surge that revived his candidacy four years ago and plunging into an aggressive travel schedule despite the pandemic. But his lack of a consistent message, the surging virus cases and his attacks on the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other experts could undermine final efforts to appeal to voters outside of his most loyal base.

Speaking to campaign aides on a conference call, Trump said he believes he’s going to win, allowing that he didn’t have that same sense of confidence two weeks ago when he was hospitalized with COVID-19. One week since returning to the campaign trail, where his handling of the pandemic is a central issue to voters, Trump blasted his government’s own scientists for their criticism of his performance.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said. “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster.”

WATCH | Trump criticizes infectious disease expert Fauci:

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, several times on Monday, including at a campaign event in Arizona. 4:52

Fauci is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump has needled Fauci over his advice on wearing face masks.

The president’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.

Fauci, in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, said he was not surprised that Trump contracted the virus after he held large events with few face coverings. Fauci also recently objected to the president’s campaign using his words in a campaign ad.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci said of Trump.

Trump walks back criticism of Fauci

Trump held his call with campaign staffers from Las Vegas, where he was on the third day of a western campaign swing. He was to hold Arizona rallies in Prescott and Tucson later in the day before returning to the White House.

The president’s professed confidence stood in contrast to his public comments in recent days reflecting on the prospect that he could lose.

WATCH | Fauci and Trump disagree on when a COVID-19 vaccine could be available:

While top U.S. health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, testify before a Senate committee about the coronavirus response, President Donald Trump continues to claim a vaccine is just around the corner and mocks his adversary Joe Biden for wearing a mask. 1:56

“If Crazy Joe becomes president, it’s not even conceivable,” he told a rally crowd in Janesville, Wis., over the weekend. “Running against him, it puts such pressure because I’m running against the worst in the history,” he said.

“If I lose, I will have lost to the worst candidate, the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics. If I lose, what do I do? I’d rather run against somebody who’s extraordinarily talented, at least, this way I can go and lead my life.”

Trump later walked back his comments about Fauci, saying that the expert is a “very nice man,” but that he has “made some bad calls.”

Trump trailing in some polls

On Sunday, Trump expressed confusion that he could possibly be tied with Biden in Nevada — where polls actually show the president trailing.

“How the hell can we be tied?” he asked at a rally in Carson City. “What’s going on? … We get these massive crowds. He gets nobody. And then they say we’re tied. … It doesn’t make sense.”

The Republican president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and appeared to mock Biden for saying he would listen to scientists.

“He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression,” Trump said.

Biden, meanwhile, was in Delaware for several days of preparation ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate.

The Democratic presidential candidate did not answer questions about Trump’s comments as he left the taping of a television interview in Delaware on Monday.

But his campaign released a statement noting that the pandemic has now killed nearly 220,000 Americans, seen more than eight million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide and cost millions of jobs.

“Trump’s closing message in the final days of the 2020 race is to publicly mock Joe Biden for trusting science,” the statement said. “Trump is mocking Biden for listening to science. Science. The best tool we have to keep Americans safe, while Trump’s reckless and negligent leadership threatens to put more lives at risk.”

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CBC | World News

Trump goes after Fauci as his campaign trails in the polls

U.S. President Donald Trump sought Monday to buck up his campaign staff two weeks from Election Day, calling top infectious-disease scientists “idiots” as polls showed him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden across key battleground states.

Trump was facing intense pressure to turn around his campaign, hoping for the type of last-minute surge that revived his candidacy four years ago and plunging into an aggressive travel schedule despite the pandemic. But his lack of a consistent message, the surging virus cases and his attacks on experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci could undermine final efforts to appeal to voters outside of his most loyal base.

Speaking to campaign aides on a conference call, Trump said he believes he’s going to win, allowing that he didn’t have that same sense of confidence two weeks ago when he was hospitalized with COVID-19. One week since returning to the campaign trail, where his handling of the pandemic is a central issue to voters, Trump blasted his government’s own scientists for their criticism of his performance.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said of the government’s top infectious disease expert. “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster.”

WATCH | Trump criticizes infectious disease expert Fauci:

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, several times on Monday, including at a campaign event in Arizona. 4:52

Fauci is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force. Trump has needled Fauci over his advice on wearing face masks.

The president’s rejection of scientific advice on the pandemic has already drawn bipartisan condemnation.

Fauci, in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, said he was not surprised that Trump contracted the virus after he held large events with few face coverings. Fauci also recently objected to the president’s campaign using his words in a campaign ad.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Fauci said of Trump.

Trump walks back criticism of Fauci

Trump held his call with campaign staffers from Las Vegas, where he was on the third day of a western campaign swing. He was to hold Arizona rallies in Prescott and Tucson later in the day before returning to the White House.

The president’s professed confidence stood in contrast to his public comments in recent days reflecting on the prospect that he could lose.

WATCH | Fauci and Trump disagree on when a COVID-19 vaccine could be available:

While top U.S. health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, testify before a Senate committee about the coronavirus response, President Donald Trump continues to claim a vaccine is just around the corner and mocks his adversary Joe Biden for wearing a mask. 1:56

“If Crazy Joe becomes president, it’s not even conceivable,” he told a rally crowd in Janesville, Wis., over the weekend. “Running against him, it puts such pressure because I’m running against the worst in the history,” he said.

“If I lose, I will have lost to the worst candidate, the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics. If I lose, what do I do? I’d rather run against somebody who’s extraordinarily talented, at least, this way I can go and lead my life.”

Trump later walked back his comments about Fauci, saying that the expert is a “very nice man,” but that he has “made some bad calls.”

Trump trailing in some polls

On Sunday, Trump expressed confusion that he could possibly be tied with Biden in Nevada — where polls actually show the president trailing.

“How the hell can we be tied?” he asked at a rally in Carson City. “What’s going on? … We get these massive crowds. He gets nobody. And then they say we’re tied. … It doesn’t make sense.”

The Republican president, as he often does, warned that a Biden election would lead to further lockdowns and appeared to mock Biden for saying he would listen to scientists.

“He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression,” Trump said.

Biden, meanwhile, was in Delaware for several days of preparation ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate.

The Democratic presidential candidate did not answer questions about Trump’s comments as he left the taping of a television interview in Delaware on Monday.

But his campaign released a statement noting that the pandemic has now killed nearly 220,000 Americans, seen more than eight million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide and cost millions of jobs.

“Trump’s closing message in the final days of the 2020 race is to publicly mock Joe Biden for trusting science,” the statement said. “Trump is mocking Biden for listening to science. Science. The best tool we have to keep Americans safe, while Trump’s reckless and negligent leadership threatens to put more lives at risk.”

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Amid unusual circumstances, Lafreniere goes 1st as NHL draft offers little surprise

There was little surprise at the very top of the NHL’s pandemic-delayed draft Tuesday.

The New York Rangers chose star winger Alexis Lafreniere, the presumptive No. 1 pick since January, with the first selection.

But following a just-completed season like no other — one suspended in March, restarted in August and completed late last month inside a tightly-controlled bubble without fans thanks to COVID-19 — there were bound to be twists with teams and NHL hopefuls linking up remotely instead of being under one roof at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

First there was some timely draft history, then an appearance by a Canadian celebrity, and finally, an emotional selection made by the widow of a hockey icon.

To start things off, however, the night belonged to Lafreniere, a star winger from the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He registered 35 goals and 112 points in 52 games before the 2019-20 season was cancelled because of the pandemic.

“It was an unreal feeling,” Lafreniere, sporting his new team’s hat and jersey, said on a video conference call from the family home in St-Eustache, Que., after having his name called first. “The New York Rangers are a great organization.”

WATCH | Rangers make Lafreniere top pick:

Alexis Lafrenière from Saint-Eustache, Que., is chosen by the New York Rangers as the first overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft. 0:27

Just the second back-to-back recipient of the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the year award, following in the footsteps of fellow Rimouski captain Sidney Crosby in 2004 and 2005, Lafreniere was NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater and long-viewed as the consensus choice at No. 1.

The draft, which was originally scheduled for June 26 and 27, continues Wednesday with rounds two through seven before NHL free agency opens 48 hours later.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time so it was something really special,” added Lafreniere, the first Canadian to go No. 1 since the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid in 2015. “We’re all really excited.”

Before the Lafreniere pick, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league and players are now focused on starting next season on Jan. 1 after previously aiming to get things going Dec. 1.

The Los Angeles Kings had the second selection and chose six-foot-four centre Quinton Byfield of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves. Byfield became the highest Black player picked in NHL draft history after Evander Kane (2009) and Seth Jones (2013) each went fourth overall.

“That definitely means a lot to me,” Byfield said. “Being in the record books for anything is super special, but that especially.”

WATCH | Byfield makes history at second overall:

Quinton Byfield from Newmarket, Ont., is selected 2nd overall in the 2020 NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings. 0:35

The Ottawa Senators used the No. 3 selection, which they acquired from San Jose as part of the Erik Karlsson trade two years ago, to grab shifty German winger Tim Stuetzle, with University of Ottawa graduate and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announcing the pick in a pre-taped appearance.

“I didn’t know like 100 per cent what was going on with [the No. 2 and 3] picks,” Stuetzle said. “It’s just a big honour to play for the capital of Canada.”

General manager Pierre Dorion said Trebek’s appearance was the idea of team owner Eugene Melnyk, adding the gameshow icon recorded versions for Lafreniere, Byfield and Stuetzle.

Trebek’s inclusion even got a thumbs up from Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

“One of the highlights for me in all my time watching drafts,” Dubas said.

WATCH | Alex Trebek announces Senators’ 1st pick:

Alex Trebek, the host of ‘Jeopardy!’ and University of Ottawa graduate, announces that the Senators selected Tim Stuetzle as the 3rd overall pick of the 2020 NHL draft. 0:58

The top-ranked European skater, Stuetzle spent this season with Adler Mannheim in his country’s top professional league, where he was named rookie of the year. He’s also the third German-trained player to be drafted in the top-6, matching 2020 Hart Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl’s selection at No. 3 by Edmonton six years ago.

“I want to win Cups in Ottawa, and I want to play in the NHL as fast as I can,” added Stuetzle, who admitted with a smile he doesn’t watch “Jeopardy!”

The Detroit Red Wings, who dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the first phase of the NHL’s draft lottery in June, got Swedish winger Lucas Raymond with their pick.

Ottawa was back on the clock with its own selection at No. 5 and chose blue-liner Jake Sanderson from the U.S. under-18 program to become the first team since 2000 to make two picks in the top-5.

The Senators, who have largely made headlines for all the wrong reasons since getting within a goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup final, hope securing Stuetzle and Sanderson will accelerate a rebuild that saw a roster once led by Karlsson — the team’s captain and a two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenceman — torn down to its studs.

“It’s one of the biggest nights in this franchise’s history,” Dorion said.

The son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson took in proceedings with his family from a suite at the University of North Dakota’s home arena where he started his first semester this fall.

“It’s a little bit different draft this year,” Sanderson said. “But I think it’s kind of special in its own way.”


The Winnipeg Jets had Crystal Hawerchuk, wife of the late Dale Hawerchuk, make their selection of centre Cole Perfetti from the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit at No. 10.

Dale Hawerchuk, who became the face of the original Jets en route to the Hall of Fame, died in August at age 57 after a battle with cancer.

“Just the raw emotion that everyone feels and then the love that we feel for Dale and his family,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said when reflecting on the moment. “Just the way the stars aligned in our 10th year when we had the opportunity for the 10th pick, we had the idea of who better to make it than the greatest No. 10 in the Winnipeg Jets history?”

“It just felt so special.”

The Oilers took centre Dylan Holloway at No. 14, the Leafs selected Russian winger Rodion Amirov at No. 15 and the Montreal Canadiens snagged defenceman Kaiden Guhle at No. 16. Earlier in the day, Montreal traded forward Max Domi and a third-round pick to Columbus for winger Josh Anderson.

The Calgary Flames traded down twice from No. 19 to No. 22 and then finally to No. 24 where they took centre Connor Zary.

The Senators selected centre Ridly Greig at No. 28, which originally belonged to the New York Islanders. The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, don’t have a selection until Wednesday’s third round.

Unlike their NFL or NBA counterparts, NHL teams are usually seated at tables on the floor of one of the league’s 31 arenas for its draft, but the 2020 edition saw general managers and much of their scouting staffs spread across North America.

Cheveldayoff said it was nice to be able to talk out in the open and not have to try and hide his draft list, but there were downsides.

“There’s nothing like being able to meet the player right away, give him the jersey, have him put it on and just feel their excitement,” he said.

The prospects set to take their first steps into the NHL, meanwhile, all watched proceedings away from the usual bright lights. First-round hopefuls were each sent gear from the league’s 31 teams so they’d have some swag once their names were called.

Lafreniere and his counterparts didn’t get the normal thrill of climbing on stage in front of friends and family, but the night will be memorable nonetheless for every player picked.

“It’s different, and we didn’t expect that a couple of months ago,” Lafreniere said. “Growing up, you’re dreaming of being drafted.

“And for me today, it’s amazing to go first.”

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