Patrik Laine said back in May there was a good chance he’d look “terrible” if the NHL resumed its season this summer.
Like most players locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the always-blunt Winnipeg Jets sniper hadn’t been on skates in more than two months. He also scoffed at the idea of strapping on rollerblades.
With training camps now in full swing eight weeks later, and the league’s restart fast-approaching, that feeling of not being ready hasn’t really changed.
“Still kind of far away,” Laine said Wednesday when asked about the current state of his game. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.
“But just trying to make the most out of it and trying to be as well-prepared as I and as we can… just try to work hard these next couple of weeks so we’ll be ready when the puck drops.”
Those games are coming quick for the 24 teams involved in the resumption of play, including the Jets, who are set to meet the Calgary Flames in the only all-Canadian matchup of the best-of-five qualifying round beginning Aug. 1 in the Edmonton hub for spot in the traditional post-season bracket.
In truth, the entire league is scrambling to get back up to speed. Certain players had access to home gyms and ice sooner than others. It’s simply a reality of the times.
And all things considered, Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said Laine, who eventually got skating back home in Finland, isn’t as far away as the winger made it sound.
“Kind of looks exactly like everybody else,” Maurice said. “I don’t think anybody looks the way they’re going to in about two weeks. We all expect that. It’s part of building.”
Building out full game
Building is also what Laine did with his own game this season before the NHL was shuttered in mid-March by the novel coronavirus.
Coming off a disappointing 50-point campaign in 2018-19 — he’d scored 80 goals and added 54 assists in his first two seasons after being picked second overall behind Auston Matthews at the 2016 draft — Laine focused on becoming a more complete player.
“You always want to get better at everything you’re doing, but I think just try to add some consistency,” said the 22-year-old. “The difference between a bad night and a good night — that gap — just try to get that a little bit smaller and try to get the better overall game in better shape.”
WATCH | Edmonton, Toronto prepare to welcome NHL:
As Toronto and Edmonton prepare to host the rest of the NHL season, questions are being raised about player safety and the accuracy of the financial benefits for the bubble cities. 2:01
Laine missed training camp back in September while working on a two-year, $ 13.5-million US contract extension, but shot out of the starting blocks after rejoining the team, having put up 28 goals and 63 points in 68 games when the season was suspended.
“Development and growth,” Maurice said of what Laine showed from October through March compared to his three previous campaigns. “It’s hard to explain when you get a young man that has such success in something specific like scoring goals. But in so many ways, he wouldn’t be any different than any other 18-year-old, especially coming from Europe. [The NHL is] a different style of hockey.
“It’s a far different level of the game. It happens so much faster.”
Hoping for top-line duties
Maurice said Laine’s biggest jump came at 5-on-5 and understanding the need to work as part of a unit.
“There’s a big chunk of the game of hockey where nothing actually happens unless you don’t do your job,” said the coach. “He’s gotten to be quite a bit better at just doing the job, plays without the puck more.
“If he’s the first guy on the forecheck, he needs to do something so the four players can move. Most skilled players or uniquely-skilled players that you get into the NHL, they’ve never really had an awareness of that — that what they do changes what everybody else around them does.”
Laine made waves during his contract impasse when he told a Finnish reporter he deserved to play with the Jets’ best players, namely Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
“I think I’ve been able to show everybody that I’m capable of playing top minutes and against top players,” Laine said Wednesday. “Hopefully I’m going to get more responsibilities in the future.”
Maurice, meanwhile, made it clear at no time did he have a problem with Laine’s comments.
“Had I taken offence to that, I would’ve been greatly offended 20 years ago and every year since,” said the veteran of exactly 1,600 regular-season NHL games. “I wonder a lot of times if it’s not requisite to greatness. These guys want more. They want to play more. They want to play more minutes.
“The great players have to have that belief in themselves that they deserve to be on the ice all the time.”
That belief is surely still there for Laine, even though it might be a little shaky at the moment.
“In the long run, and even in the medium run, you wouldn’t want to bet against the American economy. This economy will recover. It may take a while… It could stretch through the end of next year,” says Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. <a href=”https://t.co/q3xeeDSdro”>https://t.co/q3xeeDSdro</a> <a href=”https://t.co/aSsrzimp4y”>pic.twitter.com/aSsrzimp4y</a>
Powell said he thinks the economy will begin to recover in the second half of this year, but the future, as always, is uncertain.
He’s not the only one having trouble spelling it out.
“Everyone’s turned into a geometrist,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at foreign exchange firm Cambridge Global Payments. He said there’s been a lot of talk about the various letter shapes of a recovery, with only one consensus emerging so far
“There’s virtually no one who thinks there will be a V-shape recovery,” he said.
The front end of the crisis has happened and certainly looked like the start of a V — a steep, straight drop. The question is how fast and how sharply the economy will surge back to life or whether it will linger for longer at the bottom and take its time climbing back.
Schamotta believes the most likely scenario is a more gradual climb back — “something like a Nike swoosh,” as he describes it.
The shape of things to come
That’s because Schamotta and most experts believe nothing about this crisis will be straight forward. Even a long slow climb back to normalcy will come with setbacks.
One dreaded scenario is the so-called W-shaped recovery. Just as the economy opens up and begins to rebound, a new outbreak will force everything to close down again. Some models predict many stops and restarts; a series of W’s with reopenings and closings as outbreaks occur.
And different sectors will reopen and readjust differently.
“Across industries, no two recovery paths are likely to be identical,” TD Bank senior economist Brian DePratto said in a research note.
TD Bank sees most sectors of Canada’s economy recovering in one of three ways.
Arts, entertainment, travel and tourism are projected to see an L-shaped scenario with a huge plunge and a long path back to some semblance of normalcy.
That’s bad news for cruise ships and hotels, but other businesses are looking at much more optimistic recoveries.
“Some sectors, such as food retailers and transportation, are likely to see only a modest near-term hit and a quick recovery, placing them among the Vs,” DePratto said.
The rest of the economy is probably looking at a U — a sustained period of pain followed by an eventual, gradual rally back up to where they were before this all started.
Unlike any other recession
The near universal uncertainty around this crisis is just one of the things that sets it apart from previous downturns.
“This is not an economic event, this is a health event,” said Goldy Hyder, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.
As such, he said navigating the pandemic requires everyone to think differently.
The 2008 financial crisis was staggering in its size and scope at the time, but, by comparison it was a fairly simple crisis to manage.
Policymakers took action to prop up financial infrastructure, leaned on traditional stimulus programs to get people back to work and lowered interest rates to encourage consumers to borrow and spend.
Once the economy bottomed out, the climb back was fairly swift.
This one likely won’t be because it’s a different type of recession.
“We’re dealing not just with a medical virus that has impacted how we behave,” said Schamotta. “We’re also dealing with a psychological virus and the question now is when do we feel comfortable, when do we return to those behaviours?”
Fear is spreading like a virus
Hyder agrees and said instead of traditional stimulus, what’s needed is a boost in confidence.
“There is no jumping into the deep end here,” said Hyder. “There is tiptoe your way in, one step at a time from the shallow end.”
Consumers are scared and worried about spreading the virus, Hyder said, and businesses know the risk of reopening too early.
“What happens if you open up the economy and no one shows up?”
Hyder said you can flip a switch and open stores and services, but convincing consumers to return to previous habits will be a tougher task. Any recovery model would be wise to remember that.
“It’s not any letter, it’s an oscillator fan,” said Hyder, and that scenario would come in and out of recovery for a long period of time.
“Multiple Ws together is a scenario that many people feel is possible.”
It may be daunting and disheartening to imagine the many ways in which the recovery can derail, the ways in which the outbreak may linger and dampen economic growth for a longer time than we initially thought.
But Schamotta has one caveat to all the worst-case scenarios.
“Humans have very short memories,” he said. “It’s extremely likely that human beings become fatigued of this and move on and snap back to old behaviours.”
Schamotta said that because humans have an innate desire to get back to something they recognize as normal, and that’s likely to be the case this time around, too. What shape that new normal takes is anyone’s guess, but with the alphabet soup of options on the table, one thing is certain: COVID-19 needn’t necessarily spell doom for the world’s economy.
Mary Miles sits in a near-empty church in Columbia, S.C., at the end of a weeknight service and testifies to what she sees as the state of play in the Democratic primary underway in her home state.
The favourite to win? Probably Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice-president, says the 71-year-old pastor’s daughter, lawyer and onetime member of the state legislature.
Why is he the favourite here? Because of his association with Barack Obama — the ex-president whose omnipresence permeates Biden’s stump speeches, sprinkled with turns of phrase like, “Barack and I,” and “I said to Barack.”
So, does Miles consider him a strong presidential candidate now that Biden might finally get a desperately needed first primary win in the first state where African-American voters play a decisive role?
She has doubts, she says, that the mild-mannered moderate is up to the task.
Job No. 1 for South Carolina Democrats, Miles says, is to anoint the candidate likeliest to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.
“I like Biden. I think he’s a great person. But I think he does not have the kind of zest I’m looking for,” said Miles, who prefers Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“Most people here in South Carolina — the black people, at least — they really, really want to get Trump out of office.”
State’s politics steeped in history of Civil War, segregation
Miles shares that view after a busy Wednesday night at Zion Baptist Church in the state capital as parishioners empty out.
Like so many political stories in the U.S. South, the tale of this place, and this election, involves race and begins with the Civil War.
Newly freed slaves built the black Baptist church Miles attends, as the war ended in 1865. That very same year, a few blocks away, the white Baptist church was burned down by Union troops.
The hands of history have reached into subsequent centuries and kept the congregations apart.
White and black parishes remain separate in prayer and distinct in politics — mostly worshipping in different places, voting for different parties since that war.
It was here, a century later, that the end of segregation helped launch a nationwide political realignment, as this state’s senator, Strom Thurmond, spearheaded the stampede of white southern voters from the Democratic Party.
Black voters moved in the other direction, flocking from Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party to the Democratic Party, and within a few decades, African-Americans became the dominant force in party primaries here.
Now, black voters in this state have power, although not so much in a general election, where Republicans dominate, winning the state by 14 points in 2016.
But they’ve been kingmakers in Democratic presidential contests.
African-Americans have held an increasing majority of this state’s Democratic primary votes, and the primary winner here in recent decades has almost always become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Regardless of whether or not the state plays such a decisive role this time, it could, at the very least, upend the contest by reviving Biden’s enfeebled campaign.
What’s beyond doubt is the absolute requirement for Democrats to inspire black voters more than they did in 2016.
With Obama off the ticket, African-American turnout plunged six per cent nationally in the 2016 election, dropping by 683,000 votes from four years earlier, and it was especially damaging in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. (Turnout wasn’t helped by what the Mueller report described as a Russian social-media campaign that pumped out messages aimed at discouraging participation.)
Obama ‘definitely not a liability’
On what passes for a frosty morning in South Carolina — a few degrees above freezing — one retired Air Force colonel lined up to see Biden speak in a school gym in the small town of Sumter.
Retired lieutenant-colonel Al Davis reminisced about driving eight hours to stand on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2009, to witness Obama’s inauguration.
Asked if he is supporting Biden, the 74-year-old said: “I wouldn’t be standing in this cold if I wasn’t.”
Davis said Biden is more than just Obama’s former right-hand man. He called Biden experienced and trustworthy and, importantly, he said, Biden can beat Trump.
“People love Joe because of who Joe is,” Davis said. “[But] the fact he’s a friend of Obama helps his credibility — definitely not a liability.”
WATCH | CBC’s Katie Simpson reports on Biden’s last stand in South Carolina:
Joe Biden’s connection to Obama’s legacy and appeal to black voters could be key to a must-win primary in South Carolina. 2:01
Who’s feeling the Bern — and who’s not
The conversations Democrats are having in the South aren’t all that different from the ones happening elsewhere in the country.
Younger voters in the South are also leaning toward Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to polls and on-the-ground anecdotes.
Big, boisterous rallies greeted Sanders in South Carolina, including one that drew a loud young crowd at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., west of Columbia.
Some of the African-American students in that mostly white crowd said Sanders is addressing issues that matter to all young people.
Sanders drew huge cheers by promising tuition-free public colleges, free child care, legalized marijuana, parental leave, day care and universal public health care.
Jessica Kuria, 20, a second-year student at Wofford studying biology and Spanish, said that despite having scholarships, she’s starting to rack up student debt as tuition and lodging cost $ 60,000 US per year.
Her friend Scotdaija Jenkins, 19, said she’s already $ 10,000 in debt in only her second semester — and that’s despite several scholarships.
Like virtually everyone interviewed here, both young women said they’d vote for any Democrat against Trump.
But they disputed the idea that Biden is the best candidate.
“I think people honestly vote for Biden because he was in the Obama administration,” Jenkins said. “A lot of people trusted Obama, so they feel they can trust him.”
Sanders barely mentions rivals
Sanders himself has already begun auditioning for the role of best general-election candidate against Trump.
Sanders barely mentioned any Democratic rival in the speech at Wofford; he spent most of it bashing Trump, then listed his poll numbers in a hypothetical matchup against the current president.
“Take a look at the last 50 national polls. You will find that in 47 of those 50, Bernie beats Trump,” said Sanders, before only briefly mentioning Biden, suggesting his old friend from the U.S. Senate won’t turn out the necessary votes in November.
A young Sanders supporter, Joel Hughes, agreed.
He said he’s seen the old images of Sanders being arrested at a civil rights protest.
“I saw him handcuffed to black people, fighting alongside with them,” Hughes said.
The Greenville, S.C., resident called Sanders an authentic candidate who’s remained committed to the same ideas for decades and who gives young people something to get excited about — a fairer society that offers equal opportunity.
“[Biden is] really only up there for his name recognition. … [because of] President Obama,” Hughes said. “Bernie Sanders has found a way to excite his base — to bring out people who aren’t normally involved.”
‘I’d vote for the devil, probably, against Trump’
One point a vast majority of Democrats seem to agree on is that regardless of who the nominee is, they will vote against Trump in the general election.
In a short lineup of several dozen people outside a Biden rally, Tamilla Green, a retired army surgical technician, said she’d vote for Sanders if she had to. In that same lineup, Davis, the retired military man, concurred.
“I’d vote for the devil, probably, against Trump,” he said.
But he’s not exactly effusive in his assessment of Sanders. He calls him an unreliable socialist with no chance of delivering on his promises.
Asked why so many young people seem so inspired by Sanders’s candidacy, she said, “Because they’re in a fantasy world also.”
Given how often the front-runner in this state has mentioned his ties to Obama and the flood of recent ads from the billionaire set to enter the race next Tuesday, Mike Bloomberg, appearing to exaggerate his coziness with Obama, it seems appropriate to ask what would happen if Obama were running in this primary.
“Oh, my goodness,” said Miles. “He would tear those people apart.”
On this, at least, Kuria, the young Sanders supporter, agrees with the older Sanders-skeptic.
They are the ones who answer calls for help — witnessing some of the worst kinds of trauma, often on a daily basis.
And while many officers say there’s been a cultural shift around police and mental health, many still struggle with how to manage that stress.
Now, there’s a new app available for police in Halton Region aimed at helping them cope.
It’s called Backup Buddy and it’s the first of its kind designed for police services in Canada, according to Deputy Chief Jeff Hill.
“You can see that in the privacy of wherever you are, that you are not alone,” said Hill. “And the idea is that knowing you are not alone will hopefully encourage you to come out and talk to somebody.”
The app includes contacts, mental health tips, and details a number of common issues from anger to alcohol abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.
It also features three video testimonials from officers.
In one video, which is also posted on Youtube, a constable with 13 years of service describes his experience with depression and suicidal thoughts:
“I’m hoping that by watching this video, you can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” says John, who did not want his last name used.
“That no matter how dark things get, how tough they get, you can get help.”
Fear of being labelled
Clayton Gillis, a veteran officer who’s worked in drugs, gangs and guns as well as commercial robbery, says while there’s been a big shift in policing culture, stigma is still a challenge.
“We are getting to a point in policing where people are saying, ‘Enough is enough,'” said Gillis, who recently was elected president of the Halton Regional Police Association.
“We can’t put on our brave face and pretend like this stuff doesn’t affect us,” he told CBC Toronto.
“We all know people in emergency services are suffering with mental health [issues] relating to the stress of what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
While he hasn’t had a chance to go through the app, he says it will be a huge benefit for members have a mental health resource on their phone any time, any day.
“A lot of it is just about access to professional people and wait times to get into see someone,” he said. “If it’s 2:00 a.m. on a Monday you’re not going to be able to see a psychologist and speak to them in person.”
The app, he says, is “giving people at least a first step to ask some questions and reach out and talk to someone if they need to and have that around-the-clock coverage.”
Halton police expand mental health training
The app is just the latest effort by the service’s organizational wellness unit, which launched in 2016.
The unit is made up of a staff sergeant, constable and psychologist, who work out of an unmarked building, separate from any police site. Hill, the service’s deputy chief, says one of the unit’s primary goals is reducing the stigma around mental health.
Starting Friday, the service will make a one-day mental health training course mandatory for both civilian and uniform members.
“If I break my ankle, I have no problem telling everybody the story,” Hill said.
“But when it comes to mental wellness, there’s still that stigma that people don’t feel comfortable talking about it that way. They don’t talk about what is necessary about my recovery,” he added.
LIMA, Peru — There’s no Olympic-sized rewards awaiting Caeli McKay and Meaghan Benfeito at the Pan Am Games. The business of qualifying Canadian spots for Tokyo 2020 as individual 10-metre platform divers was taken care of last month in South Korea.
That doesn’t mean the competition in Peru won’t be any less special for both divers, who will be celebrating polar-opposite milestones.
This is the first Pan Am Games for McKay, the 20-year-old who began diving with the national team in 2017. Benfeito is her teammate and partner in the 10m synchro, but is also 10 years her senior and calling this her final competition at the best-of-the-Americas event.
“It’s going to be my last Pan Ams, so I’m going to try and enjoy it even more than all the other ones,” Benfeito says. “Being [Caeli’s] first and my last, that will be something special together.”
Benfeito has mentored McKay through many of her international diving firsts, but it’s taken a lot of time and experience to build the trust needed between two people who quite literally need to be perfectly in sync.
Far from home
The two divers were partnered up in 2017 after Benfeito said goodbye to long-time partner Roseline Filion, who retired after the Rio Olympics.
The opportunity to join the national team and Benfeito convinced McKay to move across the country as a 16-year-old, away from her family’s home in Calgary, to join Benfeito and her family in Montreal. McKay lived with the Benfeitos for about five months, getting to spend as much time as possible with her new training partner, who she describes as her idol growing up.
“It was really just to get to know each other,” McKay says of the living arrangements. “We would talk a little at competitions but we would never really get one-on-one time, so being together 24/7 for five months, that’ll do it.
“It kind of felt like [we’re] sisters after living together for five months.”
Even with the support from her idol-turned mentor, McKay struggled.
“It was a very, very hard transition for me,” McKay says. “I was only 16 when I left and my family stayed in Calgary.
“Having to start over and make new friends and be on the team with people I had never really talked to, only seen on TV, I was very, very intimidated by everybody. I felt quite like a misfit at the beginning and felt like I really had to earn my place on the team.”
Benfeito says it wasn’t the smoothest start to their partnership, as McKay was still finding her way on a new team with high expectations.
“It was hard at the beginning,” Benfeito says. “Our first year in 2017 was… I’m not going to say ‘a disaster’ because we were learning things together, [but] she needed to learn everything on her own. There’s [only] so much I can help with.
“Caeli was just kind of put onto a team where she was the youngest one and you’re like ‘here, deal with it.'”
McKay says the growing pains were real, but it all worked out for the best because it forced her to work harder.
“It made me learn how to be an individual diver and made me learn how to push my limits,” she says. “I’m finally feeling at home in Montreal. This is the first year I’m finally feeling at home.”
She also gets to see a lot more of someone else she used to idolize when she was growing up and working at her diving in Calgary.
“It’s not weird anymore,” McKay laughs, “but my boyfriend, Vincent Riendeau, was one of my inspirations growing up. My coach would show his videos for technique he wanted us to do. So we kind of grew up watching him diving all the time.
“Being on the team with them all now is pretty special having grown up watching them all.”
Work remains to be done ahead of Tokyo
While the world aquatics championships guaranteed Canada a pair of spots in the individual 10m women’s platform, McKay and Benfeito came up agonizingly short to qualify a synchro team for Tokyo.
Less than a point — 0.81 to be precise — kept the Canadians off the podium and searching for another chance to book a spot in Tokyo together. After McKay missed on the team’s final dive, her idol-turned-mentor-turned-sister was quick to break in and remind her that there will be days like this.
“I told her not to worry about it, it’s her first pre-Olympic year [and] I know how she feels. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me,” Benfeito told CBC Sports reporter Sophia Jurksztowicz. “We just need to work on getting to the podium at the World Cup so we’re at Tokyo in 2020.
“We learn from our mistakes and that’s what makes us a strong team.”
Carving out her own place
One of the issues the pair have worked through since the beginning of their partnership was of expectations, trust, and McKay’s need for her own identity. Benfeito and Fillion won plenty of medals together over their partnership, including two Olympic bronze. That’s not the easiest situation to walk into as a rookie diver on the national team.
“I really felt like I had to fill Roseline’s shoes and it took me a really long time to establish myself as a diver rather than Rosie’s replacement,” McKay says. “That was really one of my goals, to make it Caeli, not Rosie. I wanted to be my own [diver], not like anybody else.
“I also felt like I had to prove myself to Meaghan, but…we don’t really have to worry about each other’s diving anymore. At the beginning, we both worried about what the other one would do and try to compensate or over compensate for one another and now I think we feel each other’s rhythm and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we’re able to find a middle ground on the things we’re not exactly equal on.
“It’s just a deeper understanding of each other and how we are as athletes.” Benfeito says the early days of the partnership were a bit rocky, but it all came down to McKay thriving under this pressure to perform, and the team’s communication.
“It took us six to eight months to actually figure out ‘OK, this is how it is,’ and to become fully comfortable. She matured very well and very fast,” Benfeito says. “I’m really happy with where we are now. I think our communication is the most important thing in a team.”
Now that they are on the same page, McKay says the expectation at every event is the same.
“Medalling is always a goal,” McKay says. “It’s my first Pan Am Games so I’m not really sure what to expect [but] it’s another big games that I think is going to be good to have under my belt, so I’m excited to experience another first.”
McKay will make her debut Pan Am appearance in the individual 10m event on Saturday, before joining Benfeito for the veteran’s final competition at Pan Ams in the synchro event on Sunday.
Doctors in Australia say they have identified a second case of twins apparently created from one egg and two sperm, a boy-girl combination in whom the mother's DNA is identical in both babies but the father's DNA varies in each twin.
Virtually all twins are either fraternal (two eggs and two sperm have created two separate embryos) or identical (one embryo splits in two before resuming normal development for each child).
"This is confirming there is this third type of twinning where it's not fraternal and it's not identical. It's this strange place in between," chief author Dr. Michael Terrence Gabbett of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.
Each sperm cell contains half the father's DNA. But it's not identical from sperm to sperm because each man is a mixture of the genetic material from his parents, and each time a slightly different assortment of that full DNA set gets divided to go into a sperm.
For example, some sperm will contain a copy of the father's Y chromosome that makes the child develop into a boy and some will carry the father's X chromosome, which makes the child a girl.
In the case of the Australian twins, who live in Brisbane and are now 4½ years old, the mother's egg was fertilized with one sperm carrying an X chromosome and one with a Y. Because an ultrasound taken early in the pregnancy showed both fetuses shared the same placenta, doctors assumed the fetuses were identical twins.
The semi-identical twin boy and girl born in Australia were found to have 100 per cent of their mother's DNA in common, but were only 78 per cent identical in the paternal DNA they carry. (QUT)
But when an ultrasound eight weeks later revealed that one child was male and the other female, something considered impossible for identical twins, the Gabbett team knew something extraordinary had happened.
The researchers say it appears that after fertilization, the DNA from the egg and two sperm divided, then got divvied up to create three embryos. Two of the these had enough egg DNA and sperm DNA to make viable embryos. The remaining embryo, with only sperm DNA, was not viable.
The twin boy and girl were found to have 100 per cent of their mother's DNA in common, but were only 78 per cent identical in the paternal DNA they carry.
Only 1 other known case
The only other reported instance of so-called sesquizygotic twins was identified in 2007, brought to the attention of doctors because one had ambiguous genitalia.
To see if the phenomenon might be more common than doctors believed, the Gabbett team examined an international database of 968 fraternal twins and their parents. None showed the same pattern.
Because of the odd combination of DNA picked up from the two sperm, doctors have been concerned that the twins might be vulnerable to cancer of the reproductive organs.
"It turned out that the girl just had some changes in her ovary that people weren't comfortable with, so unfortunately she had to have her ovaries out," Gabbett said. "The boy is continuing to have his testes monitored" with ultrasound.
The girl also developed a blood clot in her arm, but that's not considered to be related to the unorthodox fertilization.
"Otherwise," Gabbett said, "the two twins are beautiful kids, well and healthy."
Perhaps we’ve grown too accustomed to AI hype stories of late, as last week’s unveiling of IBM’s Project Debater barely caused a ripple in news rooms across the United States. It certainly turned few heads here at ExtremeTech. Could this be how the Anthropocene age ends — not with a bang, but with a corporate AI composing fragmented arguments in favor of telemedicine? Such was the state of affairs when IBM’s Project Debater faced off against two world-class Israeli rhetoricians, to argue over such controversial topics as funding space exploration and changing healthcare delivery.
By all accounts, the AI’s verbal repertoire wasn’t equivalent to its human counterparts. And still, the majority of those present voted the AI the more persuasive voice in the room. Part of this may be the blind trust we increasingly cede to computers: If I worked out the math behind every route Google Maps offered me during a road trip, I’d spend all day behind a calculator. Instead, I take it as an article of faith that it offered me the best solution. And therein may lie the greatest danger from Project Debater — not that we’ll eventually cede the burden of important decision-making to computers, which looks increasingly inevitable, but rather we’ll put too much trust in such systems before they’re deserving of it.
Whatever can be said for the positions espoused by Project Debater during oral argument, one thing is sure: It wasn’t without bias. Much of that bias came from the humans who generated the data on which it was trained. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say in programming circles. If the statistical datasets on which it formed its opinions weren’t gathered with care, or if the human generated articles it read contained erroneous logic or other fallacies, then that would be reflected in the sentences it composed. No amount of digging revealed Project Debater to be anything like a strategic superintelligence – capable of reasoning about a self-generated world model. Not that such advanced AIs aren’t on the horizon; they are, as documented in a forthcoming book I’m writing on reinforcement learning. Rather, Projector Debater seemed an extension of IBM’s Watson platform – searching over and summarizing thousands of human-generated articles. That’s no small feat, and already I believe the repercussions of this limited capability will extend far and wide, potentially toppling our entire method of public discourse.
Much of what passes for civil society in the developed world is underpinned by oral argument – whether it be by politicians debating on TV, or lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court. If a computer can perform these functions better than a human, and after Project Debater it appears they someday could, then there is every reason to believe they’ll begin muscling out the human competition. So long as there’s a vibrant civil discourse producing well-reasoned articles and supporting statistical data that these AIs are trained upon, then we’re probably better off letting a computer search and summarize those positions for us. They will do so better, and more efficiently, than a human can.
However, if we should ever put blind trust in such a voice, while failing to implement a system of checks and balances that ensures the AI is not merely an echo chamber for erroneous human opinions, or worse, deliberately biased by an elite or a corporation wishing to secure some stake for itself, then we’ll have surely started down the road to perdition. Alarmingly, IBM failed to demonstrate any strong system of checks and balances for Project Debater, or open source the code behind it, undermining much of the system’s credibility. Rather than inspiring our trust, I believe we should approach Project Debater with a surfeit of caution, and demand a more rigorous methodology, before turning it loose on any real-world debates.