Tag Archives: Lost

Archaeologists Discover Lost Egyptian City Said to Rival Pompeii

A new discovery on the west bank of the Nile, near the iconic Valley of the Kings, has archaeologists buzzing about what may be the most important archaeological find since the location of Tutankhamun’s tomb. An entire lost city has been found, with workshops, palaces, a cemetery, and living quarters. The site is said to be in excellent condition.

“There’s no doubt about it; it really is a phenomenal find,” Salima Ikram, an archaeologist who leads the American University in Cairo’s Egyptology unit, told National Geographic. “It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii.”

The archaeologists have found multiple artifacts stamped with the seal of Amenhotep III or dated to year 37 of his reign, when Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV are believed to have ruled side-by-side. According to Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, the team that found the lost city was actually searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun after locating the mortuary temples of both Horemheb and Ay in the same area.

“The city’s streets are flanked by houses… some of their walls are up to 3 meters high,” Hawass continued. “We can reveal that the city extends to the west, all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina.”

Deir el-Medina is the name of the town where generations of artisans and laborers worked to carve rock tombs out of the Valley of the Kings. Wikipedia notes that Deir el-Medina is “laid out in a small natural amphitheater, within easy walking distance of the Valley of the Kings to the north, funerary temples to the east and south-east, with the Valley of the Queens to the west. The village may have been built apart from the wider population in order to preserve secrecy in view of sensitive nature of the work carried out in the tombs.” If the new city stretches all the way to Deir el-Medina, it means the village of workers may have been less isolated than previously thought.

Some of the decorative objects found at The Rise of Aten. Image by Zahi Hawass

The find is being described as “The lost golden city of Luxor,” but that appellation risks confusion. Luxor is a modern Egyptian city and its present-day boundaries are already known to include the ruins of Thebes, the ancient Egyptian capital. This new lost city, known in ancient times as Rising of the Aten, is inside the borders of modern-day Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile, not far from the Valley of the Kings. While described as a city, it’s not a large location.

Zoomed out view, showing the location of The Rise of Aten within Luxor.

Hawass identifies the site as “sandwiched between Rameses III’s temple at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III’s temple at Memnon.” Google Maps (above) shows that this specific area isn’t very large, but here’s a zoomed-in view showing the relationship between the new finds and existing structures.

A zoomed-in view, showing the lost city in relationship to other nearby locations and the Valley of the Kings.

Rising of the Aten was built on the west bank of the Nile and occupied during the reign of Amenhotep III, but it was apparently abandoned suddenly during the reign of his son, Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaten, father of Tutankhaten / Tutankahmun. The changing titles of both pharaohs hints at the cultural upheaval in Egypt during their reigns.

Ancient Egypt was mostly polytheistic, but not entirely. During the reign of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten, the capital of Egypt moved from Thebes to a new city he founded 250 miles to the north, named Akhetaten, which means “Horizon of the Aten.” At the same time, the nature of Egyptian religion changed.

Prior to the reign of Amenhotep IV, the Aten was the disk of the sun and considered one aspect of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Under Amenhotep IV, Aten became the sole deity Egyptians worshipped and the pharaoh renamed himself as Akhenaten. This was controversial, to put it mildly.

Akhenaten’s son, Tutankhaten, appears to have changed his name to Tutankhamun after his father’s death, possibly to signal allegiance to the old religious orders and to affirm Amun-Ra as leader of the Egyptian pantheon. He took multiple actions to restore the religious orders his father had disfavored, including abandoning Akhetaten and returning the seat of Egyptian power to Thebes. After his death, he was succeeded by Ay, who was possibly his great-uncle.

The Amarna period is known for its artistic experimentation. But Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and Ay were all associated with what ancient Egyptians viewed as religious heresy. The pharaoh who came after Ay, Horemheb, practiced damnatio memoriae against his predecessors. Damnatio memoriae is Latin for “condemnation of memory” and refers to systemic efforts to exclude mention or depiction of a person from history. The efforts the ancient Egyptians made to keep the later rulers of the 18th Dynasty out of the history books have complicated our efforts to understand their lives today, despite the fact that Tutankhamun’s burial treasure represents the most complete trove of royal ancient Egyptian artifacts ever discovered.

ExtremeTech reached out to professor Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA, to better understand the implications of the find.  “This is one of the biggest things to happen to domestic architecture and settlement archaeology in some time,” Cooney said. “The town is beautifully preserved, even past one story, in mudbrick, which shouldn’t survive. What is astounding is all that comes with the town, tools, pottery, texts, as if the town was left suddenly, which is what archaeologists think happened.”

“Mudbrick isn’t preserved like this elsewhere,” Cooney continued. “They [archaeologists] are worried about preserving this site. Once rainstorm will do untold damage. This is a special and amazing find that must be carefully studied and preserved.”

The Rise of Aten could shed new light on a tumultuous period of time in Ancient Egypt when artistic and religious standards were changing. Reports indicate the city has been found “packed” with artifacts and everyday objects, many of which may help us understand the lives of the people that lived there. It is not clear if the site was used when Tutankhamun returned to Thebes. We may find clues to that decision as work on the site progresses.

One other thing we want to mention. There have been claims that the recent Rising of the Aten discovery reported by Zahi Hawass is an inadvertent duplication of French archaeological finds that date back to the 1930s. This appears to be unlikely. A follow-up investigation comparing the French expedition work to the Rising of the Aten site found that they occurred in two different locations, though both date to the reign of Amenhotep III. The two sites may or may not be related, but the claims of a previously-unknown Egyptian Pompeii are holding up thus far.

Every now and then, the discoveries we make in these long-lost places dramatically reshapes what we know of the past. Some of our knowledge of ancient writers and thinkers comes from just one place — a library in Herculaneum, buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Rising of the Aten may hold similar secrets, kept safe and untouched for thousands of years.

Feature image by Zahi Hawass

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How U.S. media lost the trust of the public

A global pandemic, historic anti-racism protests and a turbulent U.S. presidential election had Americans glued to their screens in 2020 like never before. Cable news ratings soared, online news subscriptions increased and the amount of time we all spent online broke records.

But as people consumed more news, they also began to trust the media less, surveys showed. According to a recent Gallup survey, the percentage of Americans with no trust in the mass media hit a record high in 2020: only nine per cent of respondents said they trust the mass media “a great deal” and a full 60 per cent said they have little to “no trust at all” in it.

The American media landscape has become increasingly polarized over the last few decades. 

A Pew survey suggests 95 per cent of MSNBC’s audience are now Democrats while 93 per cent of the Fox News audience are Republicans. A similar trend is unfolding online. 

“There’s a constant selection process that’s going on, that Silicon Valley is encouraging and accelerating,” said U.S. journalist and author Matt Taibbi in the new CBC documentary Big News. “If you read the Daily Caller, you are not going to read the New York Times and vice versa.” 

Meanwhile, the media’s traditional sources of revenue have been uprooted. More than 16,000 news jobs were cut in the U.S. last year alone, the highest on record. 

“Profitability is disappearing. Losses are growing. And budgets are tighter and tighter,” said conservative commentator and author Andrew Sullivan. “And the truth is … polarization is profitable.” 

WATCH | Matt Taibbi and other media critics on the loss of trust in media:

Journalist Matt Taibbi and others reflect on the loss of trust in the U.S. news media and the parallel rise in ratings. 1:47

Online metrics also show that the best way to get people to engage and spread content is to inflame their emotions, said Taibbi, who wrote the book Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another

CBC’s Big News, which was released March 26 on CBC Gem, examines some of these issues in depth by interviewing media insiders and critics who dig into the ratings wars, public mistrust, the Trump effect, the politicization of the anti-racism protests and the pandemic, and the weaponization of social media. Coming off a record-breaking news year, the documentary asks, can the U.S. media be saved from itself?

Watch some highlights below:

Capitol Hill riots expose trust crisis in the U.S. 

Every year, the public affairs company Edelman releases a trust barometer that measures perceived trust in the information we consume and its sources. This year’s report paints a particularly bleak picture.

“This is the era of information bankruptcy,” said CEO Richard Edelman in a statement. “We’ve been lied to by those in charge, and media sources are seen as politicized and biased. The result is a lack of quality information and increased divisiveness.”

“Fifty-seven percent of Americans find the political and ideological polarization so extreme that they believe the U.S. is in the midst of a cold civil war.”

Some of the experts interviewed for the documentary said that polarization and the increasing alienation from mainstream media among parts of the American population contributed to the convictions that drove the deadly Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.  

“Jan. 6 was the logical result of the profound disparity between the elites and a lot of people who had been profoundly misinformed,” Sullivan told the CBC.

WATCH | MSNBC host Ali Velshi and others on media polarization and the Capitol riot:

MSNBC host Ali Velshi and others analyze how the U.S. media landscape contributed to the events at the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. 2:26

How cable news became polarized in the U.S.

Until the 1990s, American broadcast news was focused on gaining the largest possible audience with the least objectionable content, Taibbi says in the documentary. 

“It was oblivious in all sorts of ways to poverty, to race, to issues of sexual orientation, to America’s role in the world, but it knit together a common understanding. And that common understanding drove politics,” Lawrence Lessig, lawyer and author of They Don’t Represent Us, told CBC.

By the early 2000s, as competition increased and regulations softened, that profit model began to change and media outlets began targeting specific demographics.

WATCH | How did media become so polarized? Experts offer their take:

Lawrence Lessig, Sue Gardner and others explain how and why American broadcast news became increasingly polarized. 7:50

Journalists increasingly seen as ‘out of touch’

According to a 2019 Pew survey, 73 percent of Republicans say news media don’t understand people like them, and 40 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

Local news has been particularly hard-hit by recent job cuts, which means journalists are now increasingly congregated in big urban cities, such as New York, Washington and Los Angeles.  

“Those cities are expensive, and so you have to be wealthy to be a journalist, which didn’t used to be true,” said Sue Gardner, former director of the Wikimedia Foundation and CBC.ca. 

“People don’t know journalists anymore unless they themselves are also part of the wealthy elites, so all of that creates more distance.”

Former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson grew up and worked in the Midwest for decades before becoming a Fox News host in the early 2000s. “There are a lot of people who feel like their voice isn’t being heard,” she told CBC.

WATCH | How journalists lost touch with their audiences:

Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and others dig into the divide between journalists and their audiences. 1:39

Global pandemic another test of media credibility

The coronavirus pandemic was another event that polarized Americans, and the media played a part in that, those who spoke with CBC for the Big News documentary said.

One example, says New York Times health reporter Apoorva Mandavill, was the shifting and increasingly politicized coverage of the mask debate.

“I think that as journalists, we were disoriented at the beginning, and we probably didn’t ask quite as many tough questions, like, ‘Why wouldn’t masks work?” Mandavilli said.  

“It really did feed into this idea that we cannot trust anybody.”

According to a University of Michigan analysis, COVID-19 stories in American newspapers and network news were highly politicized and polarized.

“It is likely that media coverage is contributing to the polarization of public attitudes [around COVID-19],” the study concluded.

WATCH | Why even coverage of the pandemic became polarized:

How the American news media’s coverage of the COVID-19 crisis put people’s faith in media and experts to the test. 5:14

Watch the full documentaryon CBC Gem

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The violence in Atlanta and the 8 lives lost

The shooting rampage that unfolded at three Atlanta-area massage parlours on Tuesday left eight families mourning their loved ones and fanned fears in the Asian American community of racist violence.

Police are still investigating, and questions remain about the killer’s motive as details gradually become available. Here’s what we know about the victims who have been publicly identified so far.  

A mother of two

Delaina Ashley Yaun, a 33-year-old mother of two, had gone to have a massage at Youngs Asian Massange Parlor along with her husband.

Yaun’s relatives told local news outlets that she and her husband were first-time customers on a date when the shooting began.

Her half-sister, Dana Toole, said Yaun’s husband locked himself in a room and wasn’t injured.

“He’s taking it hard,” Toole said. “He was there. He heard the gunshots and everything. You can’t escape that when you’re in a room and gunshots are flying — what do you do?”

An army veteran

Paul Michels, 54, also died in the violence at Youngs. USA Today has reported he was originally from Detroit, but had been living in Atlanta for more than 20 years.

The American flag atop the White House in Washington was lowered to half-mast in honour of those killed in the attacks. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

His brother John Michels told the newspaper that he and Paul had each served in the U.S. army.

He said it appeared his brother was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A business owner

Xiaojie Tan owned the business. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported she was killed two days before her 50th birthday.

Police have identified a fourth victim from the Youngs shootings as 44-year-old Daoyou Feng. Further details about Feng were not immediately available.

Police said Thursday they were still trying to reach next of kin for other victims.

“We want to make sure that we do that privately, before we release the names of our victims publicly,” Atlanta Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr., said at a news conference on Thursday.

Atlanta Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr., speaks at a news conference on Thursday. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

In response to a question about whether police were looking at the killings as possible hate crimes, Hampton said that “nothing is off the table.” 

“We had four Asian females that were killed, and so we are looking at everything to make sure that we discover and determine what the motive of our homicides was,” he said, referring to the victims that have still not been publicly identified.

The accused, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with murder in the killings. 

WATCH | Asian American community calls attacks a hate crime:

Christopher Chan of the Asian American Fund’s Georgia Chapter says some members of the Asian American community say the Atlanta-area attacks were ‘racially motivated,’ and the suspect should be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime law. 0:39

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What If Mars Never Lost Its Water?

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Mars used to be wet. That’s the overwhelming conclusion of the last two decades of Martian geological research based on data recorded by multiple probes and landers. It took us a lot longer to confirm the planet’s past state than its present one — we’ve had strong evidence suggesting arid conditions on Mars dating back to 1894, with additional confirming evidence gathered over the next 30 years. The current model for Mars’ transformation from a wet planet to a dry one relies on sublimation and the long-term damage our sun did to the Martian atmosphere after the planet’s global magnetic field shut down. But what if that’s not true?

That’s the argument presented in a new paper, which argues that the waters of Mars may not have technically gone anywhere.

The evidence we’ve gathered from rovers like Perseverance, Curiosity, Opportunity, and Spirit, together with planetary observations from orbiting satellites, collectively suggests that Mars enjoyed a relatively warm, wet era from 4.1B to 3.7B years ago. Some of the evidence for the so-called Late Heavy Bombardment comes from the large number of craters on Mars and the Moon that appear to have been created during this period. Craters formed during this era have eroded edges similar to what we would expect from flowing water. Craters created later, during the Hesperian period (~3.7 – 3 billion years ago), are much less eroded.

Several factors allowed Mars to hold an atmosphere during this period. The immense series of volcanos known as the Tharsis Bulge were actively under construction. The Tharsis Bulge is a volcanic province approximately the size of North America. The total amount of CO2 released during the Tharsis eruptions is thought to be sufficient to form a 1.5-bar atmosphere on Mars, with a global ocean up to 120m provided solely by this source. Tharsis is large enough that its formation may have caused Mars to tilt over to one side and changed the location of the poles in the process. Massive impacts could have delivered additional water of their own, and early Mars might have held enough surface water to cover the surface of the planet to a depth of 1,500 meters. These uncertainties are why the Global Equivalent Layer (GEL) estimates are so variable.

One reason scientists think Mars’ water evaporated is that the Martian atmosphere and water samples taken by Curiosity both show a surplus of deuterium relative to hydrogen compared with what we’d find on Earth. This suggests that lighter ordinary hydrogen was preferentially lost to space, while the heavier deuterium isotope remained.

The problem with the sublimation/atmospheric loss model is that current rates of loss are not high enough to account for the scope of Mars’ transformation over the past few billion years. The solar wind is known to have played a long-term role, but how do we account for the rest? One theory is that mass loss rates were much higher in the past. These researchers are suggesting that much of Mars’ water stayed right where it was and became bound up in surface minerals instead.

As time passed, water flowed downwards and froze at the surface, while other water sublimated away into space. Image from ScienceMag

We’re not talking about the idea of a layer of liquid preserved beneath the surface. The research report discusses “crustal hydration through irreversible chemical weathering, in which water and/or hydroxyl are incorporated into minerals.” The water is not available for other purposes on Mars; it’s locked directly within the crystalline structure of the minerals themselves.

Herein lies a critical difference between Mars and Earth. Mars has what’s known as a stagnant lid tectonic system, meaning that there are no plate tectonics and there is no system of recycling rock — or, critically, water. On Earth, plate tectonics carries water deep into the mantle while mid-oceanic volcanic vents return it to the oceans. This is called the deep water cycle.

So long as Mars’ volcanoes kept erupting, it maintained a deep water cycle of its own. Once that process began to slow, water began a one-way sequestration trip into the planet’s crust. Impacts and fading eruptions would have maintained a colder climate with at least intermittent liquid water for a long period of time — Mars dried out over several hundred million years — but the end of volcanism may have allowed between a third and almost all of Mars’ water to flow into the ground and form hydrous minerals. This means, by extension, that Mars’ water reserves are much higher than previously thought, though locked in a form we wouldn’t find all that useful.

We may not know if the report is accurate until if and when humans are able to conduct widescale geological surveys of subsurface rock, but it’s an alternate model for how Mars lost its atmosphere that explains current conditions well. It would also further imply that features of Earth such as plate tectonics may be vital to the long-term preservation of a biosphere capable of supporting intelligent life.

Image by Ittiz, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Semiconductor Shortage Could Cost Automakers $61B in Lost Sales

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We’re starting to see some numbers attached to the ongoing semiconductor shortage and accompanying predictions for how much of a drag the issue might be in 2021. Current predictions suggest automakers could lose some $ 61B in sales worldwide. Discussions between the auto industry and its chip manufacturing partners also sound as if they could be going better.

At first glance, a sales reduction of that magnitude doesn’t sound like much. The top 10 auto manufacturers on Earth collectively earn about $ 1.63T in revenue per year. $ 61B isn’t much, by comparison, objectively speaking.

The coronavirus hit the automotive industry pretty hard in 2020, however, and even though sales recovered more strongly than expected in the back half of the year, automakers across the world saw their sales fall by 10-20 percent year-on-year. Nissan took a particular whack, with sales down 33 percent. These 10-20 percent annual declines were actually cheered for being much smaller than expected, but manufacturers are in no mood to leave money on the table.

Relationships between TSMC and the various automotive companies have hit a low point, with each blaming the other for the current shortage, according to Bloomberg. If you ask the automotive manufacturers, the problem is that TSMC and its ilk are preferentially allocating capacity to gadget manufacturers. If you ask the foundries, the automotive companies are so in love with lean manufacturing, they refuse to keep reasonable hardware stockpiles on hand. TSMC recently pledged to shift some manufacturing and allocate additional resources to the automotive industry, while pointedly observing its inability to magically conjure production resources out of thin air.

If I had to guess, I’d guess automakers aren’t used to dealing with the longer production timelines that semiconductor companies require. Having allocated production away from car manufacturers in early 2020, it’ll take time to allocate production back towards them. Bloomberg’s article specifically mentions that it may take until Q3 to completely work through the production issues. If you squint, you can see the industry broadly coming into alignment around the idea that we won’t see a return to normal conditions in Q1. Right now it looks like Q2 should slowly begin to recover. Maybe we’ll see MSRPs and easy product availability by the end of Q2 — or maybe we’ll see shortages bleed into the start of Q3. Right now, nobody seems to know.

Most likely, this period of constant shortages of everything will give way to erratic shortages of whatever product you most wanted to buy, which will, in turn, fade off to sporadic non-availability of things you find it annoying to wait a few weeks for. It will inevitably manage to be the wrong week for nearly everyone, all of the time. But hopefully, problems will clear up within six months.

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Italians who lost family members to COVID-19 seek €100 million in damages

Around 500 relatives of people who died of COVID-19 in Italy said on Wednesday they were initiating legal action against regional and national authorities, seeking €100 million (more than $ 156 million Cdn) in damages.

The civil lawsuit, which the plaintiffs said they would present to a Rome court in the next few hours, is against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Health Minister Roberto Speranza and the governor of the northerly Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana.

Italy, the first Western country hit by the coronavirus, has seen almost 70,000 deaths from COVID-19 since its outbreak there in February, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world. The hardest-hit region is Lombardy, where the first COVID-19 patient was detected on Feb. 20.

The lawsuit is being brought by members of a committee called Noi Denunceremo (We Will Go to Court), set up in April to represent the relatives of people who died in Bergamo, one of Lombardy’s worst-affected cities.

“This case is our Christmas gift to those who should have done what they were supposed to do, but didn’t,” the group’s president, Luca Fusco, said in a statement.

A Civil Protection member is seen in a hangar near Bergamo, Italy, in April where 18 coffins of victims of COVID-19 waited to be transported to Florence by the Italian Army to be cremated. (Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Alleging failure to take quick action

The committee said when the outbreak erupted in Lombardy, local authorities and the central government failed to take rapid action that could have avoided the need for a national lockdown and the economic damage it has brought.

They also decried an alleged lack of preparedness, with neither Rome nor the Lombardy region having an updated plan in place to deal with a possible pandemic.

In June, Noi Denunceremo asked prosecutors in Bergamo to investigate possible criminal responsibility in the management of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Conte was questioned by the prosecutors during the summer as a witness but is not under criminal investigation.

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No one has lost quite like Donald Trump in nearly 150 years

Donald Trump is now a history-making loser.

His doomed crusade to overturn the U.S. election result crossed a milestone following electoral college meetings Monday that formally selected Joe Biden as the next president.

Not in a century and a half, since the post-Civil War era, has a defeated presidential candidate continued to challenge the results past those electoral college meetings.

That’s where Trump now finds himself. He has persisted in peddling the idea he can still win even after losing Monday in the formal electoral votes.

He not only denied the electoral college reality in a flurry of defiant tweets: Trump’s campaign also convinced groups of Republicans to organize their own parallel meetings in various swing states and declare him the winner.

It’s part of a no-hope effort to persuade the U.S. Congress to call the election result erroneous and to vote to overturn it.  

“This is off the charts,” said Alexander Keyssar, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of a book on the history of the electoral college.

“It’s very unusual.” 

Pennsylvania Attorney General John Shapiro votes at the the Forum theater in the state capital of Harrisburg. (Commonwealth Media Services/handout/Reuters)

Keyssar said there have often been arguments about elections, and recounts, and even court fights like the one in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

There was also a protest from a few Democrats who delayed, by a couple of hours, congressional certification of Bush’s win in Ohio in 2004.

But what’s novel, he said, is the losing candidate insisting on fighting after 538 voters of the electoral college formalize the results across the country.

That threshold was breached Monday.

Trump allies suggested they intended to keep the struggle going until a final showdown: when members of Congress meet on Jan. 6 at 1 p.m.ET to complete the final step in the selection of the president.

Several election experts dismissed Trump’s alternate slate gambit as futile. 

WATCH | Trump supporters gather in Washington D.C. to protest election results:

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rallied in Washington, D.C., to decry presidential election results, two days before the electoral college meets to certify Joe BIden’s win. 3:00

The congressional numbers simply aren’t there for him: For Trump to get the required simple majority in both houses of Congress to nullify certain states’ votes, he would need a string of unprecedented and, frankly, unfathomable developments.

For starters, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would have to agree to it. It’s highly unlikely he would even get the tiny Republican Senate majority to go along, given that several Senate Republicans have already recognized or even congratulated Biden on his win. Both chambers would need to nullify the results in at least three states, strip Biden of at least 37 electoral votes to keep him under the 270 majority, and then to force what’s called a contingent election in which each state delegation in Congress gets a vote.

“Not gonna happen. It’s just not gonna happen,” Keyssar said.

There’s no sign Trump has the required support even within his own party — as a growing number of Republican lawmakers declared Monday, either bluntly or tentatively, that it’s over and Biden has won.

Electors arrived at the Michigan legislature with police protection on Monday. Other states adopted similar security measures. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

In state capitals, a number of top state-level Republicans have also made clear they won’t help Trump fight the result through their own legislatures. 

Republican leaders in Michigan issued statements calling Biden the election winner Monday — it drew a torrent of angry comments online from Republican voters.

The author of a two-year old paper that previewed how mail-in ballots could prompt legal feuds and chaos said this is it for Trump.

Edward Foley said that after dozens of court losses, and after Monday’s 306-232 loss in the electoral college, Trump can try whatever he wants with Congress.

“It’s still not going to affect the result,” said Foley, director of Ohio State University’s election-law program and author of different books on the electoral college and disputed elections.

But he said the prolonged feud can still damage the country.

Electoral college votes under cloud of security

At least four people were stabbed and one was shot last weekend during election-related street confrontations between opponents and supporters of the president in Washington, D.C., and Washington State.

Security concerns prompted authorities to take unusual precautions to protect members of the electoral college.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, applauds as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to members of New York state’s Electoral College before voting for President and Vice-President as electors gather to cast their votes for the U.S. presidential election at the State Capitol in Albany, New York on Monday. (Hans Pennink/Reuters)

In Arizona, the meeting took place in an undisclosed location.

In Michigan, Chris Cracchiolo accepted a police escort to the event in the state legislature; police had urged lawmakers to avoid the building because of credible threats of violence.

“I wouldn’t have believed it,” Cracchiolo said in an interview, referring to the tension surrounding the vote. 

“So many things over the last four years have shocked me. … So many things [where] I just shake my head and say, ‘I’ve never seen this before.'”

Cracchiolo, a sales representative for three decades for AT&T, is now a volunteer with the state Democratic Party. At a meeting this past summer, he was selected by members in his area to be one of Michigan’s 16 electors.

He said he felt a bit nervous during the three-hour drive Monday from his home in northern Michigan to Lansing, the state capital.

Ultimately, though, he saw very few pro-Trump protesters on the way into the legislature; after the meeting, he waved off the offer of a police escort and walked back, unsupervised, to the parking lot.

He said he’s hopeful American politics will get back to a calmer place after the pandemic. He said the incoming president, Biden, is well-suited to that nation-soothing task.

White House aide Stephen Miller, seen here in October, said Monday that the plan is to present Congress in January with two slates of electoral college results. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

Yet events elsewhere on the Michigan legislature grounds suggested dreams of national unity may have to wait a while. 

A group of Michigan Republicans arrived for a planned meeting to choose a competing slate of Trump electors and were told to leave by a police officer.  

At the Trump campaign’s request, such unofficial electoral college meetings were held by Republicans in different states, in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia and elsewhere.

Trump aide Stephen Miller described the latest plan in an interview with Fox News.

“We’re going to send those [competing lists] up to Congress,” Miller said.

Security and secret sites

Meanwhile, the campaign will keep fighting in court, arguing that states failed to follow election laws, and hope that some court victories persuade Congress to appoint Trump in its Jan. 6 votes.

The Trump campaign has lost dozens of court cases so far.

In Pennsylvania, Marian Moskowitz arrived for her meeting at an undisclosed location.

As a member of the electoral college she knew the plan was to meet at the Forum auditorium in the state capital of Harrisburg.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden speaks after the Electoral College formally elected him as president on Monday at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

But the site was kept secret from the public for security precautions. Moskowitz, an early Biden supporter, got a call from the party last month inviting her to be an elector. 

“It was just so overwhelming. So humbling and exciting. All these emotions go through you,” she said, expressing pride in being able to cast a vote for the first female vice-president, and first Black vice-president, Kamala Harris.

‘Just the craziest year’

She pulled up to a parking garage and a shuttle transported her to the meeting location where 20 Pennsylvanians voted for Biden.

“It’s just just the craziest year. Don’t you feel like you’re living in a novel somewhere?” Moskowitz said, referring to the unusually high security precautions. 

“I am concerned. I think we can see now with this president how vulnerable our democracy truly is. That one person can change the way we function.”

Biden, for his part, saluted the resiliency of the U.S. electoral system. 

In a speech Monday night, he said there’s now evidence that nothing — not even a pandemic, or an abuse of power — can extinguish American democracy.

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CBC | World News

NHL players will likely have to pay for lost revenues, commissioner Bettman warns

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned players Wednesday they are likely going to have to pay one way or another to make up for the league’s projected lost revenue whenever the 2020-21 season gets underway.

Speaking on a Sports Business Journal panel, Bettman stressed the NHL is not attempting to reopen the collective bargaining agreement some five months after it was extended. Instead, he said, the fiscal realities amid the pandemic mean the 50-50 revenue-sharing split between owners and players will be affected for at least the near future.

And that means players will have to bear the brunt of any shortfall to owners.

The question then becomes, Bettman said, whether it’s in their best interest to pay the money back in the short-term — by deferring a higher percentage of their salaries as the NHL has raised in discussions — or face the potential of having the salary cap stay flat over the remainder of the six-year deal.

“If we have to pay out lots of cash, two-thirds of which is going to come back to us, that may cause some stress,” Bettman said. “And by the same token, if the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could well be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we’re owed.”

When it comes to a flat cap, which would have the potential of restricting future pay increases for players, Bettman said: “[Players] have to ask themselves, ‘Does this make sense?'”

The NHL’s new CBA currently calls for players to defer 10 per cent of their salary for the upcoming season and it puts a cap on how much money will be kept in escrow over the length of the deal.

Without calling it a formal proposal, the league has raised the possibility of having players increase salary deferrals to 20 per cent or 26 per cent and increasing the escrow caps, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is publicly announcing details of negotiations.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Players, agents unhappy with state of talks

Players and several agents have privately grumbled at the developments, and accused the league of attempting to renege on the deal reached in July that led to the resumption of play and the completion of last season.

Bettman refuted the criticism, calling it “unfortunate” and “inaccurate,” and said the agreement at the time was based on collective assumptions that are no longer applicable. The NHL now has to factor in a shortfall in gate revenue because fans aren’t expected to be allowed to attend games, at least initially.

Another issue is the likelihood of a one-time realignment due to cross-border travel restrictions, which will likely result in Canada’s seven teams competing in one division. U.S.-based teams might be required to play in hub cities, as opposed to their own arenas.

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In episode 6 of our new series, Rob Pizzo speaks to former Washington Capitals goalie Bob Mason about the longest Game 7 in NHL history, and the Pat LaFontaine goal that finally ended it.  5:39

The league is also expected to play a shortened season, which could feature as few as 48 games, such as what happened in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

In an email to The Associated Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “as of right now,” the NHL is still targeting Jan. 1 to start the season, before adding: “That is obviously subject to change.”

It’s becoming increasingly unlikely the NHL will meet that target date. Players have not yet been asked to travel to their home cities. When they do, they will be potentially required to spend up to two weeks in self-quarantine before teams can even be allowed to open training camp.

Another issue are local health regulations. The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, for example, relocated to Arizona this week after Santa Clara County banned contact sports teams from holding games and practices for at least the next three weeks.

The San Jose Sharks are based in the same county.

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CBC | Sports News

She survived the Holocaust and died of COVID-19. Her family says pandemic’s human toll is lost in the numbers

The last time Jeff Shabes saw his mother alive, dementia had transported her back to the nightmare of her childhood, screaming out for her late mother and father in Siberia where they fled from occupied Poland and terrified she’d miss her train to safety. 

Malvina Shabes survived the atrocities of the Holocaust. But COVID-19 took her in only a matter of days.

In their final moments together, Jeff Shabes — sitting across the room in full protective gear — repeated to his mother the stories she so loved to tell him, like how as a little boy, he made her sandwiches when she was unwell after suffering a miscarriage.

“I hadn’t called my mother ‘mummy’ in, I don’t know, 45 years,” he said. “So I referred to her as, you know, ‘I love you mummy, you’ll always be a part of our lives and memories. And it’s OK to close to your eyes. We want you to close your eyes and be with dad.”

As he left the room, the screaming went on. But Shabes was sure his mother heard him. Less than 24 hours later, she was gone.

Somewhere along the lines though, as the spectre of a global pandemic went from looming threat to daily reality, the human toll behind daily case counts and testing numbers seems to have slipped from collective sight, he said.  

“That’s one of the reasons that I agreed to do this. It’s the main reason,” Jeff Shabes told CBC News.  

‘So much more than just a number’

“We have to educate people that these are not just 1,500 cases a day and 13 deaths. There are families that are suffering not just after the loved one has passed away, but during … It’s so much more than just a number.”

Born in Krakow in 1929, Malvina Shabes was forced to flee Poland at the age of 10 along with her two-year-old brother, grandparents and nanny. Their journey ended in Siberia, Russia, at a labour camp, where food could be scarce and they often had to be hidden to survive. 

Born in Krakow in 1929, Malvina Shabes was forced to flee Poland at the age of 10 along with her two-year-old brother, grandparents and nanny. She arrived in Canada in the 1940s at the age of 19 and married soon afterward. Her husband of 60 years died seven years ago. (Submitted by Jeff Shabes)

After the war, Malvina went back to Poland briefly and onto Germany, before coming to Canada in the late 1940s at the age of 19. Not long afterward, she married and had two sons, Jeff and his brother Steven.

Over the years, family and friends were her number one priority, Jeff said. When her own mother was diagnosed with blood cancer, she and her brother resolved to find a doctor who could help. Her mother survived until the age of 93. 

CBC News wants to learn more about the Canadians we have lost during the pandemic. If you would like to share the story of someone who has died of COVID-19, email us at COVID@cbc.ca

Malvina and her husband celebrated 60 years of marriage before he died seven years ago. But in recent years, she began experiencing dementia.

She was moved to a home that specialized in care for dementia patients and found a way to adapt, participating in virtually all of its programs to the extent that she could and her appearance — as ever — remained immaculate. 

“She always had her hair done and her nails done,” Shabes said with a laugh, recalling how he’d never seen his mother with grey in her hair until recently. “She was really truly quite the matriarch and an elegant person.”

In recent years, Malvina Shabes was moved to a home that specialized in care for dementia patients and found a way to adapt, participating in virtually all of its programs to the extent that she could and her appearance — as ever — immaculate. She insisted on elegance, her hair and nails always done, her son told CBC News. (Submitted by Jeff Shabes)

‘Easy to lose track of the faces, the lives, the tragedy’

But stories like Malvina’s are increasingly lost amid the daily din of numbers, said Toronto geriatrician Nathan Stall. That’s not just a matter of sentiment, he said, but ultimately has an impact on policy itself.

“Once you pass a milestone like like 10,000 deaths, it becomes easy to lose track of the faces, the lives, the tragedy the families are experiencing,” Stall said. “And that could be something that would motivate us to change our approach during the second wave.”

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Canada surpassed 11,000 COVID-19 deaths this week. 

Somewhere over 96 per cent of those who have died in Canada of COVID-19 are over the age of 60. And close to 80 per cent were long-term care residents, Stall said. 

“I would argue that those people aren’t the types of people that most Canadians identify with. There’s a bias we speak about called an identifiable lives bias … We react most emotionally and most directly when it comes to public policy and action for the types of lives that we identify with.” 

Consider a turning point in Canada’s COVID-19 story, he said: “It wasn’t the death of a long-term care resident… it was actually the NBA shutting down. It was Sophie Gregoire Trudeau catching COVID. It was Tom Hanks. That’s what actually made us act.”

Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said Canadians have to some extent lost sight of the human toll behind COVID-19 numbers. (CBC)

Now, as a second wave has taken hold, there appears to be more of focus on business and keeping doors open rather than on the human cost of the resurgence, he said.

“There seems to be a sort of acceptance, a really chilling acceptance of the death of older adults and those living in long-term care homes.”

‘Waking up everyday and checking the numbers’

Holding provincial news briefings outside a long-term care home rather at businesses would be one way to keep the focus on victims and workers on the frontlines, Stall said. 

“If we dehumanize what’s going on with COVID-19, I think it’s easy for the population to also think that there is this acceptable trade-off.

“I think in some respects, the Canadian experience has been waking up everyday and checking the numbers… But I think that our leaders could play a role in changing that and putting the focus back on the tragedy that so many Canadians are experiencing and sadly will continue to experience over the next several months.” 

Asked late last week by CBC reporter Mike Crawley about whether his apparent focus on the impact of COVID-19 on businesses was equal to his concern for the pain of families, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference: “Nothing weighs more on me than when I talk to family members on the phone… I met a lady the other day that came up to me and said, ‘I want to thank you for doing a great job and I lost both my parents in long-term care a week apart two weeks ago.

“I take hundreds of calls. I’m one of the few elected officials in this country … that’s up till midnight in his office taking personal calls and listening to the concerns. Does that weigh on Mike? It weighs on me, I can assure you… if you don’t think this weighs on me, you don’t know me very well.”

Statistics are ‘people with the tears wiped off’

Since his mother’s death last Tuesday, Shabes and his family have held prayers each night.

But like so many families that have lost loved ones to the virus, their grieving process has been anything but normal. 

Since his mother’s death last Tuesday, Jeff Shabes and his family have held prayers each night. But like so many families that have lost loved ones to the virus, their grieving process has been anything but normal.  (CBC)

“We can’t be there to just hold on to one another,” he said. “It’s a time for consolation and really the beginning of a long healing process. We don’t have that.”

Reasons like that mean Canadians can’t afford to lose sight of the lives behind the numbers, Stall said.

“There’s a line that I’ve come back to often during the pandemic from really one of the most famous epidemiologists who died nearly a century ago, Sir Austin Bradford Hill,” he said.

“Health statistics represent people with the tears wiped off.”

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CBC | Health News

Canada’s hardest-hit nursing homes lost 40% of residents in just 3 months of the pandemic

There are five seniors’ care facilities in Canada where more than 40 per cent of residents died during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a CBC News investigation has found.

Four of the residences with fatality rates higher than 40 per cent are in the Montreal area, and one is in Ontario.

Another 19 facilities, mostly in the Montreal and Toronto areas, lost between 30 and 40 per cent of their residents between March 1 and May 31.


CBC News collected and examined data for an exclusive national analysis to identify the residences with the highest rates of COVID-19-related deaths. 

The analysis reveals what the worst-hit residences had in common, which could prevent fatal mistakes from being repeated in the event of a second wave of the pandemic.

Here is what we found.

Laval the hardest-hit region

A third of the homes where 30 per cent or more of residents died during that period are in the Montreal suburb of Laval. 

The city is also home to six of the 10 residences with the highest COVID-19 fatality rates in Canada for the same period. 

“The whole region has suffered a lot,” Marie-Pierre Lagueux, director of nursing care at CHSLD de la Rive, a privately run nursing home in Laval, said in a statement in French.

The facility had the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the country, at 44 per cent.

In Laval, staff shortages, already a problem pre-COVID, were exacerbated when large numbers of care aides and medical personnel became sick, Marie-Eve Despatie-Gagnon, a spokesperson for the Laval health board, said in a statement in French. 

When members of the Canadian Forces were called in to help at some of the hardest-hit care homes, they noted high rates of absenteeism among staff generally, and that the resulting lack of care had a significant and noticeable effect on the personal hygiene of residents.

The Laval health board has also been criticized by unions for cycling care workers through multiple residences, which could also have spread the infection. 

Despatie-Gagnon said the health board has since taken steps to correct this, including recruiting more personnel to work in care homes and adjusting the schedules of care workers so it is possible for them to work in only one residence.

At CHSLD de la Rive, Lagueux said, there were many factors that influenced the high rare of death — notably, underlying health conditions. She said residents received good care, with two doctors onsite 14 hours a day who communicated with families. 

(CBC Graphics)

Staff shortages may also have led to sick employees being pressured to work and infecting frail residents — the allegation at the heart of a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Laval health board and the care home that saw the highest number of COVID-19 deaths. 

The lawsuit alleges that on March 22 a care aide and a nurse at the Sainte-Dorothée care home told their employer they had flu-like symptoms and asked to be tested for coronavirus. They claim they were told they did not have enough symptoms to warrant testing, and continued working for several days, during which time a resident they were exposed to tested positive. The employees themselves tested positive March 29. 

The lawsuit has not been certified by a judge, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

By the end of May, 93 people had died at Sainte-Dorothée.

Families asked for hospital care

One of them was Anna-José Maquet, who was 94. Her son, Jean-Pierre Daubois, is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

He said in an interview with CBC News he was relieved to receive a call from the facility the evening of April 2, when he was told his mother was doing well and there were no COVID-19 patients on her floor. 

The next day, shortly before noon, Daubois said, his sister received a call saying her mother was doing poorly and she should come right away. 

Daubois was shocked to see the state of his mother, who he said had no underlying health conditions.

Jean-Pierre Daubois with his mother, Anna-José Manquet, at the Sainte-Dorothée care home in Laval Que. Manquet died April 3 at the age of 94. (Submitted by Jean-Pierre Daubois)

“It was a terrible sight,” he said. “It’s tough to describe how hard it was for her to breathe. The effort was so big that she was kind of breathing from the belly.” 

Daubois says he asked if there were any machines at the residence that could help his mother breathe and was told all the ventilators were at the hospital.

“No equipment was brought there, nor my mother brought to the hospital. So she died that night.”

Care homes in Quebec were also under a government directive to avoid transporting residents with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the hospital without a doctor’s approval.

Montreal lawyer Patrick Martin-Ménard, who is representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he has heard similar stories from families of other deceased care home residents throughout the province. 

“Many people who [wanted] a higher level of care, in fact, were forced to stay in the [nursing home] and did not receive the level of medical care that they would have received had they been transferred to a hospital,” he said. “Now, did that contribute to a higher death rate? I think it’s entirely possible.” 

Funeral home workers remove a body from the Centre d’hebergement Sainte-Dorothée, one of the care homes where more than 30% of residents died between March 1 and the end of May. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Laval health board’s Despatie-Gagnon disputes this, saying all residents of the board’s publicly run nursing homes who needed hospital care received it. 

The question of whether to transfer COVID-19 patients to hospital was something health officials at some of the hardest-hit Ontario homes also grappled with.

At Pinecrest in Bobcaygeon, medical personnel said hospitalization for frail, elderly residents would have been a painful, stressful ordeal that was unlikely to change the outcome.

“When the infection takes hold in their lungs in this elderly population, we can just keep them comfortable. Realistically, a ventilator is not an option,” Dr. Stephen Oldridge, a physician who treats residents at Pinecrest, told CBC News in April.

Mary Carr, Pinecrest’s administrator, said the decision of whether to transfer a resident to the hospital rests with an attending doctor at the local hospital, who does an assessment over the phone. 

“Where a transfer is determined by physicians not to be clinically indicated at end of life, we are equipped to provide compassionate end-of-life care in the home,” she said in an emailed statement. “Some of the hardest conversations we have with families are the ones that reckon with a resident’s quality of life versus their longevity, but this is not a conversation we shy away from.”

At Orchard Villa, a Toronto-area nursing home where more than a quarter of residents with COVID-19 died, families also alleged they faced challenges having their loved ones transferred to the hospital.

Family members of people who died in long-term care homes attend a rally at the Ontario legislature on June 23. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In at least one case at that facility, the daughter of one resident with COVID-19 says she forced Orchard Villa to transfer her father to hospital. He recovered after being treated in hospital for malnutrition and dehydration.   

A spokesperson for Lakeridge Health, the regional health authority that has since taken over management of Orchard Villa from Southbridge Care Homes, said she was unable to comment on the allegations because they were not responsible for the facility at the time.

Infection control measures lacking

The hardest-hit care homes and seniors’ residences were places that did not identify and isolate infected residents and staff early on.

There were reports of personnel moving between infection zones without adequate equipment or observing proper procedures, or the physical placement of infected residents in proximity to others, from several of the most affected facilities, particularly Sainte-Dorothée , CHSLD De La Rive, Pinecrest, and Almonte Country Haven in rural Ontario.

(CBC Graphics)

Carr, Pinecrest’s administrator, said the virus posed “unique challenges” for the facility — its relatively small size and physical layout made it difficult to isolate infected patients. She said staff “have been in close, daily contact with local and provincial public health authorities to share information and implement precautionary measures.”

In Laval, infection control specialists have now been stationed in different care homes to make sure proper procedures are observed, Despatie-Gagnon said.

Outside Quebec and Ontario

Of the 182 nursing homes and residences that reported more than 10 deaths, just eight were outside Quebec and Ontario: four in B.C., in the Vancouver area; three in Alberta, in the Calgary area; and one in Halifax. 

None had a fatality rate higher than 16 per cent as of May 31.

B.C.’s ability to bring a “SWAT team” of provincial public health officials into care homes when the first infection was detected was a key reason outbreaks in that province did not spread to the same extent as those in eastern Canada, said Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s seniors’ advocate.

“They were in there right away,” she said. “And I think it was actually helpful for them to see the chaos in the first outbreak because they quickly realized, holy moly,” she said. 

The province was home to the country’s first coronavirus outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

“Our leadership, because of their expertise in infectious disease, understands 24 hours is going to make the difference [in] containing this … you’ve got to move very quickly.”

Funding model not a factor

In some parts of the country, such as Laval and eastern Ontario, for-profit long-term care and retirement homes have had higher numbers of COVID-19-related fatalities than public or non-profit facilities.

But that was not the case across the country.

The seniors’ residences with more than 30 per cent fatalities were evenly split between for-profit and not-for-profit homes. This was also true of all facilities that reported 10 or more deaths.


What we don’t know

A New York Times investigation found U.S. nursing homes where the majority of residents were Black or Hispanic were twice as likely to be hit by COVID-19 as those whose residents were mostly white. 

The equivalent data does not exist in Canada, making it impossible to say whether the same holds true in this country.   

CBC News has tracked the number of deaths in long-term care and seniors’ residences since the pandemic started in March. Our analysis included all facilities that had reported more than 10 deaths as of May 31. There are 182 such facilities across the country.

A CBC-Radio Canada team verified the number of deaths per facility with individual health boards, provincial governments and, in some cases, the residences themselves. We then used publicly available data on the number of beds per facility to obtain a rate.

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CBC | Health News