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Steam Data Shows Ampere GPUs Barely Trickling Into Market

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As the GPU shortage continues, what constitutes “success” is being rapidly recast. Several publications have recently run stories claiming that an uptick in Ampere GPU deployments according to the Steam Hardware Survey constitutes evidence that these cards are making their way to gamers and that miners aren’t soaking up all the demand. This is factually true, inasmuch as cryptocurrency mining isn’t literally consuming every single GPU. When evaluated in a historical context, however, the current SHS doesn’t support an optimistic narrative about Ampere availability.

The RTX 3070 gained 0.17 percent market share from February 2021 to March 2021. That’s the most market share any GPU gained last month. But according to past Steam data, a single GPU topping out at 0.17 percent adoption isn’t very good at all.

I’ve surveyed several multiple data points in the SHS over the past two years. In November 2019, no fewer than nine GPUs gained more than 0.17 percent market share. The RTX 2060 picked up 0.42 percent that month, for example. In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1650 gained 0.34 percent and 0.51 percent share, respectively, with other cards above 0.17 percent. Even in March 2020, with the pandemic gearing up, cards like the RTX 2060 (0.51 percent), RTX 2070 (0.31 percent), and RTX 2070 Super (0.28 percent) saw stronger growth than what’s being reported for Ampere today.

Steam has only included data on the RTX 3070 for two months, but the RTX 3080 has been included for longer. The trend is not encouraging:

Market share data above is for the period November 2020 – March 2021. Look at what happened to the RTX 3080’s adoption rate after December. We see gaming market share more than double in a single month. Thereafter, the growth rate falls off a cliff. It took the RTX 3080 a single month to grow by 2.08x, then a further three months to grow by 1.77x. In an ordinary year, this might reflect nothing more than seasonality, but this isn’t an ordinary year. There are still a lot of would-be Ampere gamers waiting for prices to fall.

This is reflected in how the numbers for all the other cards stop moving. Anyone with a GTX 1070 Ti, RTX 2080 Super, or RTX 2080 is a potential RTX 3070 customer (the 2080 Ti is a bit too high to really see the RTX 3070 as a replacement card). In November and December, the percent of users with each of these cards bounces around. From January forward, the percentages have been nearly static. RTX 2080 Ti customers aren’t upgrading to RTX 3090’s. RTX 2080 and 2080 Super owners clearly aren’t upgrading to Ampere. The Pascal gamers that Nvidia said it was explicitly targeting with this launch remain largely wedded to their hardware. The GTX 1060 has dropped 1.14 percent since November and the 1050 Ti has dropped about 0.5 percent. The RTX 1070 is 0.36 percent less common now than in November 2020. The GTX 1080 has dropped even less.

One reason why the RTX 3070 looks good is Steam didn’t add the GPU to its tracking until it had hit 1.12 percent. If we actually had the month-by-month report, however, I’m betting we’d see exactly the same thing as with the RTX 3080 — an initial jolt, followed by slow growth for such an attractively positioned high-end part. The RTX 3060 Ti entered the SHS at 0.27 percent in January and has risen to just 0.38 percent three months later.

In aggregate, the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070’s market share is growing on par with how the RTX 2080 and 2070 performed back in 2019. At MSRP, Ampere is everything Turing wasn’t. It offers ray tracing performance we feel more comfortable recommending and much stronger AI and gaming performance. It’s also much less expensive (theoretically) than the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 were at launch back in 2018. In this context, a 0.17 percent rise in the number of RTX 3070 GPUs in-market isn’t a ray of hope. It’s a demonstration of how bad the market continues to be.

As of this writing, anyone who needs a replacement GPU should consider AMD’s R9 290 and R9 290X the best options for a reasonably priced card. We continue to keep an eye on this situation and it continues to offer the best price/performance ratio outside of getting lucky. RDNA2 GPUs are not contemplated in the story above because Steam has not yet added these cards to its database. It can take Valve months to update the database with new cards, however, and it does not add them at a consistent market share level. By all accounts, however, AMD availability is poor.

It is not clear if these shortages are being driven mostly by cryptocurrency-related demand, by low yields, or by a mixture of both. We may get some better data on that point when Nvidia eventually gives Q1 results, but that won’t happen for another couple of months. Several GPU manufacturers have implied they can’t get sufficient GPU inventory, but cryptocurrency demand is also a known impact right now.

We don’t typically refer to the SHS for hardware information because of doubts about its accuracy. But to the extent we can rely on this data to show us anything, what it shows is not positive. Four to five cards with a >0.17 percent rise might constitute some positive sign that we’re headed back towards normal. A single GPU just illustrates how far we’ve got to go.

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ExtremeTechGaming – ExtremeTech

Bianca Andreescu brings ‘fighting spirit’ into Miami Open final against Barty

Bianca Andreescu admits she sometimes surprises herself with her ability to chase down tough shots.

“Sometimes I literally feel like I’m an octopus out there, running side to side,” the Canadian tennis star said early Friday morning. “I feel like I have eight legs. It’s insane, sometimes I don’t even know how I get to some shots. It’s that fighting spirit that I’ve always had in me, never giving up.”

That competitive drive has been front and centre this week with Andreescu back in the spotlight in a hurry following 16 months off.

The 20-year-old Andreescu, in her third tournament back after the layoff, has won four three-set matches in a row to reach the final of the Miami Open. She will play top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia on Saturday in the championship of the WTA 1000 event — the level directly below Grand Slams in women’s tennis.

In her return after a knee injury and a decision to stay off the courts later in the pandemic, the 2019 U.S. Open champion was well off top form and exited in the second round of the Australian Open in February. A trip to the semifinals of a smaller event in Australia followed, but Andreescu injured her leg there and didn’t play again until starting in Miami last week.

Now, the native of Mississauga, Ont., is producing a run that has similarities to her journey to the title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2019. Andreescu won four three-setters in a row at her hometown event, too.

A day off Friday was a nice break for Andreescu after 12 hours 12 minutes of court time in five matches over seven days in Miami. The third-set semifinal tiebreaker against Greece’s Maria Sakkari ended at 1:35 a.m. ET and Andreescu didn’t wrap up her press conference until close to 3 a.m.

“I found a way somehow and I’m super proud of myself with how I dealt with everything,” she said. “It was very up and down, but I did it.”

WATCH | Andreescu to play in Miami Open final: 

Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., defeats Greece’s Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (4). The Canadian will face world No. 1 Ash Barty in the Miami Open final. 3:11

Andreescu, who will move up three spots to No. 6 in the rankings next week, will face Barty for the first time on Saturday.

The champion at Miami and the French Open in 2019, Barty also is coming off a long break. After the pandemic hit last March, she did not play for the rest of 2020.

Barty won a tournament in Australia before the Grand Slam and now has a shot to win back-to-back titles in Miami (the event wasn’t held last year).

Both Barty, 24, and Andreescu won their first and only Grand Slam to date in 2019.

“It’s going to be great. Definitely have wanted to play her,” Andreescu said. “I have my chance on Saturday. I know it’s going to be really tough. She’s playing great tennis. I hope I can be on my A game.”

Barty says she doesn’t watch a ton of tennis when she’s not playing, but is well aware of what Andreescu brings to the table.

“Bianca has shown in big tournaments that she’s got the ability to beat the very best,” Barty said. “I know from the little that I have seen that she’s got a way of moving around the court that is extremely physical.

“She’s got great hands and got options off both sides. She’s got a chisel off both sides. She has the ability to flip the ball up or hit through the court. That’s what makes her game exceptionally challenging. She’s got so many different assets and so many different things she can go to to ultimately let the competitor in her figure it out.”

Andreescu is one of many Canadian athletes or teams to be competing in Florida this spring. She has played her best tennis in North America, going 33-1 since the start of 2019.

Andreescu says it helps having familiar faces watching her. Her parents and her dog, Coco, have received plenty of television time in the stands this week.

“My parents are putting her up and making her dance to the music, which is super cute,” Andreescu said. “It’s nice to have that during these tense moments because I’ll throw a little smirk in there and things will be better.”

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CBC | Sports News

Officer dead, driver fatally shot after ramming vehicle into barricade near the U.S. Capitol

A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. The driver stabbed one of the officers, Pittman said. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the suspect stabbed one of the officers. The officials spoke to AP were not authorized to publicly discuss the pending investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”

Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.

Police identified the slain officer as William ‘Billy’ Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP)

Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the Jan. 6 riot.

The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 metres) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.

It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists loyal to former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was among a badly outnumbered force trying to fight off insurrectionists seeking to overturn the election. Authorities installed a tall perimeter fence around the Capitol and for months restricted traffic along the roads closest to the building, but they had begun pulling back some of the emergency measures in recent weeks. Fencing that prevented vehicular traffic near that area was recently removed.

Law enforcement officials identified the slain suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green. Investigators were digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had a mental health history as they tried to discern a motive. They were working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.

A car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill is seen on Friday. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.

Evans is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.

Almost 140 Capitol Police officers were wounded then, including officers not issued helmets who sustained head injuries and one officer with cracked ribs, according to the officers’ union. It took hours for the National Guard to arrive, a delay that has driven months of finger-pointing between key decision-makers that day.

WATCH | ‘We will get through this,’ says Capitol police chief:

Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol police, thanks the community for supporting them through an ‘extremely difficult and challenging year.’ 0:19

They were called upon soon afterward to secure the Capitol during Biden’s inauguration and faced another potential threat in early March linked to conspiracy theories falsely claiming Trump would retake the presidency.

“Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”

The suspect had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. One of the officers who was injured was taken by police car to the hospital; the other was transported by emergency medical crews.

U.S. National Guard troops stand guard near the scene of the incident on Friday. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings. Video showed National Guard troops mobilizing near the area of the crash.

Video posted online showed a dark-coloured sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police dog inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.

U.S. President Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the situation unfolded. As customary, he was traveling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him.

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CBC | World News

Christine Sinclair’s return highlights Canadian camp roster heading into friendlies

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair is back in the mix as the Canadian women’s national team gathers in England ahead of two European friendlies later this month. 

Sinclair, international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer with 186 goals, who sat out the SheBelieves Cup in February due to injury, was among the 26 players called to camp by head coach Bev Priestman as Canada continues to take shape ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July.  

The No. 8 Canadians play world No. 31 Wales on April 9 at Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff before an April 13 match-up with No. 6 England at Stoke City Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Priestman, a native of Consett, England, who spent the last two and a half years as an assistant with England. 

“The matches against Wales and England in April are again critical to our preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Priestman said in a statement. 

“If you look at both teams, they have had success against top-10 teams over the past two years and obviously England were semifinalists at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, which will be a great Tier 1 test to assess players and where this group is at. I’m excited to get back in with the group and continue building towards where we want to be come the summer.”

WATCH | Analyzing Canada’s performance at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to assess Team Canada’s performance in their debut at the SheBelieves Cup and which players made the most of their opportunity, for the notably short-handed Canadian side. 7:20

Last chance to gage potential Olympic roster

This is Canada’s second camp in 2021 after being idle for 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and various travel and health restrictions. It’s also perhaps the last chance to get on Priestman’s radar look before the team is chosen for the Olympic Games.

The SheBelieves Cup, Priestman’s first tournament in charge since taking the reins in October, wasn’t a true evaluation of the Canadian squad as it was beset by player issues and availability issues. 

They won one game — 1-0 stoppage time win over Argentina — and lost two, a hard-fought 1-0 loss to the No. 1 United States and a 2-0 defeat to fellow No. 8 Brazil. 

While there were positives in the tournament, such as four players earning their first caps and younger players getting valuable playing time, goal scoring continued to be an issue. Dating back to February 2020, Canada has been outscored 9-3 in its last seven matches (1-4-2). Even more worrisome is their recent record against top-10 teams – 0-8-2, where they’ve been outscored 20-3. 

Kadeisha Buchanan, Canada’s reigning player of the year and a standout centre back with Olympique Lyonnais, is unavailable for medical reasons. 

The only new face to the camp is uncapped Cloe Lacasse, a 27-year-old forward from Sudbury, Ont., who plays in Portugal for Benfica.

Canada’s roster:

Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Stephanie Labbé (Rosengård), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride)

Defenders: Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC), Julia Grosso (University of Texas at Austin), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Quinn (OL Reign FC), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash),  Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL), Sarah Stratigakis (University of Michigan)

Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain),  Cloe Lacasse (Benfica), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC), 

Unavailable due to medical reasons: Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais), Adriana Leon (F, West Ham United), Kailen Sheridan (GK, Sky Blue FC), Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjö GIK), Diana Matheson (MF, Kansas City NWSL), Bianca St-Georges (D, Chicago Red Stars)

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CBC | Soccer News

Medications used for COVID-19 patients part of murder investigation into Dr. Brian Nadler

The medication used for COVID-19 patients at an eastern Ontario hospital is part of the murder investigation into Dr. Brian Nadler, CBC News has learned.

Nadler, a physician at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of patient Albert Poidinger, 89.  

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has said they are waiting for the results of post-mortem investigations into several other people who died at the hospital recently.

An OPP spokesperson has described the deaths as “potentially suspicious.”

The OPP has not confirmed whether Poidinger was one of Nadler’s patients nor whether he has links to other patients.

However, sources familiar with the investigation have confirmed a report in the Ottawa Citizen that police are looking at at least five COVID-19 patients who died at the hospital between March 17 and 25. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. 

A person enters the hospital in Hawkesbury, Ont., on Friday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Nadler, 35, was arrested at the hospital last week. Those same sources told CBC News police were responding to a call that day from a whistleblower at the hospital. 

He appeared in court remotely on Friday.

Nadler’s lawyer, Alan Brass, says his client maintains his innocence.

On Thursday, prior to Nadler’s arrest, the hospital reported a large outbreak of COVID-19, the second in just a week, involving 16 patients and five staff members testing positive, and five deaths. 

The death toll contrasts with the number of COVID-19 fatalities reported by the United Counties of Prescott Russell — a region within the Eastern Ontario Health Unit — which reported a single death in January, and two in February. 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons is also investigating Nadler, and has suspended his licence 

Nadler had just begun working at the hospital in 2020, and was under a restricted licence, which meant he remained under the supervision of another doctor for a year until Feb. 3, 2021, CBC News has learned. 

According to the terms of the restriction, the supervising doctor was expected to inform the college “of any concerns regarding Dr. Nadler’s knowledge, skill, judgment or attitude.”

The college says it will not provide details about the licence restriction, adding in a statement to CBC: “There are a number of circumstances in which the College might require a clinical supervisor. Considerations would include a physician’s education and training, practice history including in other jurisdictions, and whether the physician has been in continuous practice or has not practiced for an extended period of time.”

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CBC | Health News

Quebec City, Lévis, Gatineau head back into lockdown as COVID-19 variants spread

Quebec Premier François Legault says Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau will be essentially shut down for 10 days starting Thursday at 8 p.m. ET to curb the “exponential” rise of COVID-19 cases in these three cities.

Schools will be closed, and students will move to full-time online learning in those three cities.

Gyms, theatres, hairdressers and other non-essential businesses are also shutting down in the three cities, Legault said on Wednesday. Religious gatherings will be limited to 25 people, and there will also be an 8 p.m.– 5 a.m. curfew until at least April 12.

“The situation is critical. It is deteriorating in these three cities,” Legault said. “People have to remain at home unless they absolutely have to go to work.”

With Easter weekend on the way, Legault stressed the importance of staying home and not gathering because COVID-19 variants are on the rise throughout Quebec.

More than half of the cases of COVID-19 recorded in the province will be linked to variants by the beginning of April, according to modelling by Quebec’s public health institute. Public health officials have confirmed that a third wave is underway, and those who are unvaccinated in the 40 to 60 age range are at particularly high risk.

The variant first detected in the United Kingdom is the most prevalent in Quebec. Of the more than 7,400 cases linked to variants in the province, Montreal has the highest concentration, with about 3,000 so far. Quebec City is nearing 1,000 variant infections, and Outaouais is nearing 500.

“The alarm is sounding,” Legault said. “We cannot make any exceptions.”

Hospitalizations have not spiked in these three areas, he added, but they may soon.

“We must act quickly,” Legault said. “Everywhere in Quebec, we have to be more careful.”

Though schools will be closed, daycare services will be made available to those who work in essential services. Parents are expected to keep kids home if they can, and only use these services if they are leaving home to work.

WATCH | Legault explains the new lockdown measures:

Quebec Premier François Legault announced a return to strict restrictions for several cities in the province including Gatineau, which will close non-essential businesses and schools and return to an 8 p.m. curfew. 1:14

Legault is also announcing that four regions are moving from orange to red, in accordance with the province’s colour-coded alert system.

The Outaouais, Chaudière-Appalaches, Lower Saint-Lawrence and the Quebec City region will return to red zones.

Legault said it is time to crack down now and adjust as needed as more data is gathered. Montreal is not affected by the increased restrictions, but that may change as the situation evolves, he said.

Cities see spike in cases

Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau have been orange zones for more than two weeks, allowing restaurants to welcome diners and gyms to open. But bars remained closed, and indoor gatherings were still prohibited, with guests allowed only under specific circumstances.

With restrictions loosened, cases jumped. In the Quebec City area, 194 more cases were recorded on Wednesday, for a total of 990 active cases there.

“When we go from 50 to 200 cases per day, we are going to have an impact on hospitalizations,” Legault said.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said there may be 250 cases reported Thursday and that’s why the government can no longer wait. If hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients, other medical services will have to be delayed, he said.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s public health director, said the variants are spreading fast, and it is likely because people are ignoring public health rules.

“We have to intervene,” he said.

Travel to 3 cities only for essentials

Arruda said travel to Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau will not be restricted, but it is “highly recommended” that people avoid these zones because there is such a high rate of transmission. People should only go there for essential reasons, he said.

Earlier in the day, Quebec City’s public health director, Dr. André Dontigny, voiced his concern about the rise in cases and said the current measures weren’t sufficient. A local gym linked to nearly 70 infections was shut down. 

The gym’s management sent out a notice to patrons late last week encouraging anybody who attended the facility since March 14 to get tested as they may have contracted what is suspected to be a COVID-19 variant.

Dubé said the rate at which the disease spread at the gym shows just how extremely contagious COVID-19 variants are when people gather indoors. He said this outbreak should serve as a reminder to those thinking about ignoring public health restrictions and gathering over the holiday weekend or in the weeks to come.

In the Ottawa-Gatineau region, the number of active cases surpassed 2,000 over the weekend as the situation in Ontario worsened.

Legault scaled back public health restrictions in all but the Montreal region on March 8.

Since then, the curfew has been eased — from 8 to 9:30 p.m. — in the Montreal area, gyms were allowed to open and a few other rules were relaxed in the metropolitan area.

Specialist says restrictions should be tightened

Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist in Montreal, said tightening the restrictions in some of the harder-hit areas in Quebec is going to send an important message to the residents there — showing them that they need to avoid gathering indoors and close contact with others so as to prevent transmission.

“One of the things that has to be clear is that we are not out of the woods, and we are back in dangerous territory,” Kakkar said.

She suspects a false sense of security is spreading through the population as spring approaches, but, she said, people are forgetting that the pandemic is still very real.

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School in Montreal Monday as all high school grades return to classes full time. Montreal is unaffected by the new lockdown, but in Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau schools will move to full-time remote learning. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Kakkar supports sending high school students back to school full time and says it is crucial because kids need social interaction for their mental health. 

“As pediatricians, we weigh the risk of infection versus not being in school, and that risk of not being in school has just been so detrimental to so many teens that I think it’s still worthwhile trying to keep kids in school,” Kakkar said.

However, she said, facilities and businesses associated with elective activities, such as gyms and restaurants, should remain closed mainly because of the variants of the disease, which are proving to be more contagious and dangerous.

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CBC | Health News

8 other times ships have run into problems in the Suez Canal

The massive cargo ship currently blocking the Suez Canal — holding up of billions of dollars worth of shipping each day — isn’t the first time something has shut down the link between the Mediterranean and Red seas.  

The 400-metre-long Japanese-owned MV Ever Given has been stuck in a single-lane stretch of the famed canal, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, since Tuesday. And although every effort is being made to clear the way, more than 300 ships were still waiting to get through as the problem persisted on Saturday.

But the canal has seen this kind of trouble before in its long history, sometimes shutting down for hours, days, weeks or — in one case — eight years.

In 1937, the U.K.-bound ship Viceroy of India ran aground, causing a holdup for its 700 passengers and the vessels behind it.

It shut down “all shipping” for a time, according to a report by The Associated Press from Cairo on April 11, the day traffic returned to normal.

An aerial view taken from the porthole of a commercial plane shows ships stranded in the Red Sea, as the MV Ever Given container ship — measuring 400 metres long and 59 metres wide — remains lodged sideways on Egypt’s Suez Canal on Saturday. (Mahmoud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)

“She was refloated after part of the cargo was unloaded,” the report said.

A British freighter, the Lord Church, also ran aground in September 1953, “holding up six following ships,” The Associated Press reported, and a year later a 10,000-ton tanker called the World Peace struck a railway bridge, causing another traffic tie-up.

WATCH | Efforts to get Ever Given moving:

Shipping traffic is halted for another day on one of the world’s busiest trade routes, after the Ever Given ran aground on Tuesday. 0:31

The World Peace, owned by a Greek company headed by the brother-in-law of Aristotle Onassis, managed to block the canal “more effectively than Axis bombs did in World War II,” according to the New York Times.

More than 200 ships were forced to anchor while the problem, which cleared after three days, was dealt with, Reuters reported.

One year later, Egypt sparked a brief war when President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal, which until then had been controlled by British and French interests.

Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt that fall. But the Suez Crisis, as it became known, lasted little more than a week — quelled in November by a United Nations peacekeeping force that Lester Pearson, the future Canadian prime minister, helped muster and for which he later won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, investigates the situation after the Ever Given became wedged across the canal. (Suez Canal Authority/The Associated Press)

The crisis closed the canal until March 30, when, according to a report in the Toronto Star, “the first convoy to transit the Suez Canal in five months cleared through Port Said … and passed into the Mediterranean to a deafening salvo of whistles and cheers.”

Five months later, in August, a 9,000-ton tanker called the Barbaros ran aground, damaged its rudder and held up traffic for nearly a day, according to The Associated Press.

Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser waves as he moves through Port Said, Egypt, on June 18, 1956, during a ceremony in which Egypt formally took over control of the Suez Canal from Britain. (The Associated Press)

The stranded ‘Yellow Fleet’

A decade later, at the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — also known as the Six-Day War — Egypt closed the Suez Canal to international shipping traffic. More than a dozen cargo ships were stranded partway along the canal route for eight years.

The ships stranded on Great Bitter Lake were “manned by skeleton crews, employed by insurance companies who paid off the owners long ago and hope one day to recover part of their losses,” journalist Arnold Bruner reported from the scene for CBC News in late 1973.

By that point, Bruner said, all that was left were the ships, which the crews called the “Yellow Fleet,” and cargo that could not be salvaged — including some rotted cotton shown in the footage in his report.

A group of cargo ships are seen anchored in place in the Suez Canal in late 1973. The canal remained closed to international shipping for eight years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

“If peace does come to the Middle East and the Suez Canal is eventually opened, these ships may finally go home,” Bruner said.

“When will that be? That’s what the men of the rusting Bitter Lake fleet have been asking themselves for six and a half years, and the answer is as far away as ever.”

The canal reopened on June 5, 1975, with a ceremony attended by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

The Toronto Star quoted Sadat the following day as saying he hoped the canal would again be “a channel of prosperity for the world.”

The same report said a commercial convoy — involving ships from Kuwait, Greece, the Soviet Union, China and Yugoslavia — began transiting the canal two hours after the ceremony.

Other, more recent, delays have included another grounding in 2016 and a multi-ship collision in 2018, according to Bloomberg News.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, wearing dark glasses and naval uniform, attends the reopening ceremony for the canal on June 5, 1975. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

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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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Carrot or stick? U.S. governors try to get teachers back into schools

California is dangling a multibillion dollar carrot in an effort to lure its teachers back into the classroom, while Oregon’s governor on Friday said all K-12 public schools will soon be required to provide in-person leaning; marking the latest efforts by U.S. states to get schools back to normal amid the pandemic.  

Gov. Kate Brown said she is issuing an executive order that all such schools must provide universal access to in-person learning by the month’s end for students up to Grade 5 and by mid-April for older students.

The state’s coronavirus case numbers have fallen sharply in recent weeks and Oregon put teachers ahead of older residents in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that angered many people 65 and up. As teachers get vaccinated, Brown has been under tremendous pressure from parents and local elected officials in many counties to reopen schools.

Many teachers’ unions nationally have balked at a return to in-person learning, putting them at odds with Democratic governors like Brown in some states.

In neighbouring Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee has implored educators to return to the classroom, but most students there are in online classes and the Seattle teachers’ union is defying a district plan to return special education students to schools.

In Chicago, the teachers’ union agreed last month to return to class with expanded access to vaccinations and metrics that will lead to school closures again if case numbers spike.

WATCH | Why are kids staying home longer if schools aren’t high-risk settings?

Two infectious disease physicians answer viewer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including why many children are being kept at home if schools aren’t considered high-risk settings and why teachers haven’t been prioritized for vaccines. 7:01

‘The science is very, very clear’

Under the Oregon order, students in K-5 must have an in-person learning option by March 29. Students in Grade 6 through 12 must have one by April 19. Students who prefer to remain in online class will also have the option.

State education officials have until March 19 to revise their guidelines for in-person instruction to help districts facilitate the return, Brown said.

“The science is very, very clear: with proper safety measures in place, there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in school. Oregon parents can be confident about sending their children back to a classroom learning environment,” Brown said in a statement, after visiting a Portland school.

Data tallied by the state Department of Education show about 20 per cent of Oregon’s public schools are already operating with full-time on-site learning, mostly in rural areas with fewer students in eastern and central parts of the state. Another 23 per cent are offering hybrid learning and 56 per cent currently have almost all distance learning, with limited in-person instruction for students with extra needs.

Rylee Ahnen, spokesperson for the Oregon Education Association, said in a statement that teachers support returning to the classroom if it can be done safely

“We hear, understand, and share the frustration expressed by many in our communities about the uncertainty this pandemic has caused for our public education system,” he said.

California law aims to put kids in class

Meanwhile, California’s public schools can tap into $ 6.6-billion US in a plan Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Friday to try to pressure districts to reopen classrooms by the end of March.

However, after nearly a year of distance learning for most K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic, parents in the country’s most populated state say they are frustrated and losing hope their children will see the inside of a classroom this year.

“Is this money going to be a motivator? I don’t know,” said Dan Lee, a father in San Francisco, a city that sued its own school district to reopen classrooms. “We throw money at them, we sue them, we shame them. They still haven’t moved.”

WATCH | What’s working in schools against COVID and what’s not?

Two infectious disease specialists answer questions about COVID-19 and what’s been done to keep schools safe, whether the protocols are working or if the restrictions have gone too far. 5:56

The law does not require school districts to resume in-person instruction. Instead, the state is dangling $ 2 billion US before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share only if they start offering in-person instruction by month’s end. The rest of the money would go toward helping students catch up.

“This is the right time to safely reopen for in-person instruction,” said Newsom, who faces a likely recall election this year, fuelled by anger over his handling of the pandemic.

The new law has attracted bipartisan support and scorn in equal measure, with the Democratic governor and lawmakers saying it marked an important step forward but was far from perfect.

Teachers from some of the biggest districts have come out against it, saying schools can’t reopen until infection rates drop and enough educators have been vaccinated.

Among them is the powerful United Teachers of Los Angeles, whose members were voting Friday to reject what they called an unsafe return for the second-largest district in the country.

This week, the union slammed the reopening plan as “a recipe for propagating structural racism” by benefiting wealthier areas with lower infection rates.

“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities,” union leader Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement.

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Minus veteran stars, Canada sends young roster into SheBelieves Cup tournament

It’s been nearly a year since the Canadian women’s soccer team has seen game action and despite missing several key players, including captain Christine Sinclair and stalwart defender Kadeisha Buchanan, the squad is ready to go for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup. 

Coach Bev Priestman unveiled the 23-player roster Tuesday ahead of Canada’s opening match against the world champions, the United States Thursday at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It will be Priestman’s first tournament since being hired as head coach in October.

After the Americans, the eighth-ranked Canadians play Brazil (tied for No. 8) on Feb. 21 and conclude against Argentina (No. 31) on Feb. 24.

There are five uncapped players among the group, including goalkeeper Rylee Foster, defender Jade Rose, midfielders Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang and forward Evelyne Viens.

Canada Soccer announced Saturday that Sinclair and midfielder Diana Matheson, who have over 500 caps between them, didn’t make the camp in Orlando due to injury. Veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod and promising uncapped defender Bianca St-Georges both picked up injuries at camp and went back to their clubs.  

There was more bad news after centre back Buchanan (Lyon), fullback Ashley Lawrence and forward Jordyn Huitema (both Paris Saint-Germain) were denied release by their French clubs. France recently mandated a seven-day quarantine for travellers due to COVID-19, which impacted the Canadians’ travel plans.  

“Obviously coming into this tournament it is not how I had originally imagined my first tournament would be particularly playing the No. 1 [team] in the world,” said Priestman, who spent two years as England Women’s assistant coach. “But it is a great opportunity for anybody to step up and try and get their name on that Olympic roster. It gives me a great chance to assess any new players, the current crop of players that maybe wouldn’t see as much game time.

“Not having Sinc (Sinclair), not having Kadeisha it is big shoes to fill but there is a group that has been on the cusp.” 

In the absence of Sinclair, two-time Olympic bronze medallists, Sophie Schmidt, who is one game away from playing her 200th game for Canada, and Desiree Scott will carry the leadership reins.  

The SheBelieves Cup is a four-team invitational tournament in its sixth season and features some of the best nations in women’s football. 

Canada’s roster:

Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Stephanie Labbé (Rosengård), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC).

Defenders: Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Quinn (OL Reign FC), Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC), Julia Grosso (University of Texas at Austin), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Sarah Stratigakis (University of Michigan), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL) 

Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC), Adriana Leon (West Ham United FC), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC)

Unavailable due to injury: Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Diana Matheson (Kansas City NWSL), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride), Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars)

Unavailable due to club commitments: Kadeisha Buchanan (FCF Olympique Lyonnais), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain)  

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