Optimism was the word of the day — it’s been one of Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s favourite words during his tenure at the helm of the league.
And for the first two years there was a lot to be optimistic about. What a difference a year has made.
While the CFL is doing its best to generate a level of excitement to begin what would have been the start of Grey Cup Week in Regina, there’s no question a dark cloud is still hanging over the league after failing to take to the field in 2020.
For the first time since 1919 the Grey Cup will not be awarded after the league officially cancelled the season in August.
On Monday, Ambrosie held his annual state of the league address — obviously in a very different fashion. For nearly 30 minutes the commissioner fielded vetted fan questions in a virtual Q and A.
Most notably, Ambrosie revealed planning is well underway on a 2021 schedule.
“There’s good reason to be optimistic that our players will be back on the field in 2021,” he said. “We’re going to publish a schedule very soon.”
WATCH | CFL’s Ambrosie calls for optimism ahead of potential 2021 season:
In his annual State of the League address, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says “there’s good reason to be optimistic that our players will be back on the field in 2021.” 2:01
How the league gets back to playing next year was a question asked repeatedly by fans in several different ways. From gate revenue to the business model to global expansion and even American expansion, fans were hoping to get a sense of a concrete plan on how the CFL is going to make it back to the stadiums.
Though no concrete plan was presented, Ambrosie did talk about the optimism he felt with Monday’s announcement of a second vaccine. It appears as though the CFL’s plan to return is pinned on there being a vaccine.
There’s no question this is a league that needs fans in seats and bleachers come next season to survive, something Ambrosie acknowledged.
“The single biggest, best solution for the CFL in respect to our plan is to get our fans back in the stands,” he said. “That is the single best thing that could happen to this league.”
During this same address last year from Ambrosie, the tone couldn’t have been more different.
During the celebrations in Calgary (including Tuffy the horse making a hotel lobby appearance) Ambrosie was brimming with confidence and excitement as he looked toward a bigger, bolder and brighter future of the league.
“I won’t ever apologize for thinking big for this league. I’ve always thought we’ve punched below our weight. We have to think bigger, and we will,” Ambrosie told CBC Sports just days before the 2019 Grey Cup. “It is time for some good old-fashioned CFL swagger.”
That swagger is all but gone now as the league tries to find a way back to the field in 2021.
WATCH | A deeper look into the cancelled 2020 CFL season:
Between other leagues starting up again and the CFL’s livelihood depending on ticket sales, Devin Heroux explains the ramifications of the lost season. 12:05
In a very short amount of time Ambrosie’s tune has changed, including asking for up to $ 150 million from the government earlier this year.
He said Monday, talks are still ongoing with the government.
During that same government committee meeting Ambrosie revealed CFL teams were collectively losing anywhere from $ 10 to $ 20 million last season.
There’s a lot of ground and money to make up for a league that one year ago was eyeing Halifax and global expansion and is now just trying to find a way to get back on the field for next season.
“We did get knocked down but like great football players we’re going to get right back up and look forward to the next play,” Ambrosie said.
Diego Maradona was released from a Buenos Aires hospital on Wednesday, just over a week after undergoing brain surgery, and will continue his recovery in a private home.
Footage broadcast by local TV stations showed the former World Cup winner leaving the Olivos clinic in an ambulance. Maradona’s doctor, Leopoldo Luque, told journalists that he had authorized the release.
His lawyer, Matias Morla, said the 60-year-old Argentine will continue to receive treatment for alcohol dependency. He is expected to stay in a house near his older daughters.
The 1986 World Cup champion last week had an emergency operation for a subdural hematoma, which us an accumulation of blood between a membrane and his brain.
Maradona’s personal doctor, neurologist Leopoldo Luque, said Tuesday that even small amounts of alcohol consumption could have negative effects in combination with the medication Maradona needs for his recovery.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star has had addiction problems in the past.
Maradona was initially admitted to another clinic in La Plata with signs of depression, anemia and dehydration, before being moved to Olivos when the subdural hematoma was discovered.
Dr. Luque said an accident likely caused the subdural hematoma but that Maradona did not recall any falls or mishaps.
Maradona felt ill Oct. 30 while coaching first-division team Gimnasia y Esgrima. He had left before the end of the first half, raising questions about his health.
Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend denied introducing Britain’s Prince Andrew to underage sex partners in a defensive and combative deposition made public Thursday, calling the prince’s accuser an “awful fantasist.”
“Are we tallying all the lies?” Ghislaine Maxwell asked during the 2016 deposition, saying she could not recall taking Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre out for a night of clubbing with Andrew in London. “Her tissue of lies is extremely hard to pick apart what is true and what isn’t.”
The exchange was contained in hundreds of pages of transcripts ordered released by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in a civil lawsuit.
Maxwell has been charged with recruiting three underage girls in the 1990s for Epstein to sexually abuse and committing perjury in the depositions, though the charges don’t relate to the prince. She has pleaded not guilty.
Maxwell, 58, parried a long list of inquiries about Epstein’s sexual proclivities and her interactions with Giuffre and other young women, insisting she never saw the financier have sex with anybody.
Denied hiring under-18 girls
“She is an absolute total liar and you all know she lied on multiple things and that is just one other disgusting thing she added,” Maxwell said, denying having three-way sex with Epstein and Giuffre.
“I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever.”
Giuffre has accused Epstein of arranging for her to have sexual encounters with numerous wealthy and influential men, including Prince Andrew. He and the other men have denied her allegations.
Maxwell repeatedly denied hiring anyone under the age of 18 for Epstein.
As for whether she was Epstein’s girlfriend after meeting him in 1991, Maxwell called it a “tricky question.”
“There were times when I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend,” she said.
Asked whether it was Epstein’s “preference to start a massage with sex,” Maxwell said: “I think you should ask that question of Jeffrey.”
In a deposition of Epstein conducted later in 2016, Epstein mostly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self incrimination.
“Fifth,” he replied when he was asked if Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.
Deposition stemmed from defamation case
Preska had ordered the transcripts of seven hours of depositions of Maxwell released by Thursday morning. The judge allowed release of the transcripts after rejecting arguments that the interviews for Giuffre’s 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell would jeopardize a fair criminal trial for Maxwell next July.
Maxwell has been held without bail since her July arrest on charges that she procured the underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997.
The 2016 transcripts were among over 2,000 pages of documents being released since a federal appeals court last year began unsealing documents from the since-settled Giuffre lawsuit. She said Maxwell recruited her at age 17 to be sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell from 1999 to 2002.
The Miami Herald, whose reporting in 2018 brought fresh scrutiny to Epstein’s crimes, had argued in seeking the unsealing that Maxwell’s fear of embarrassment shouldn’t stop the public from learning of “the sexual abuse of young girls at the hands of the wealthy and powerful.”
Epstein was 66 in August 2019 when he killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he’s leaving the hospital Monday evening after a three-day stay to treat symptoms of COVID-19.
The president tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
Trump announced his discharge from Walter Reed a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans.
The White House said that Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, would brief reporters at 3 p.m. ET at Walter Reed. The doctors had not released an update on his condition since Sunday morning.
White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at the facility, where doctors revealed on Sunday that his blood oxygen level had dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. The doctors raised the possibility then that he could be discharged as early as Monday to continue the remainder of his treatment at the White House.
It was not clear how long Trump’s recovery would continue at the White House once he is discharged or how that could safely take place.
Trump “is ready to get back to a normal work schedule” and was optimistic about a Monday release, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News. He said a determination would be made by his medical team.
Less than one month before election day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding past them Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear.
It is reported that the Media is upset because I got into a secure vehicle to say thank you to the many fans and supporters who were standing outside of the hospital for many hours, and even days, to pay their respect to their President. If I didn’t do it, Media would say RUDE!!!
The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fuelled confusion about Trump’s health. While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.
WATCH: Learn more about the steroid Trump is taking:
U.S. President Donald Trump has taken various drugs, including the steroid dexamethasone, which respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta says can lead to various neurocognitive side effects such as confusion and agitation. 1:06
In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions a short time later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, suggested otherwise.
Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen tested negative again, the White House said on Monday. Pence is scheduled to debate his Democratic counterpart in the only vice-presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joe Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said the Democratic presidential nominee again tested negative for coronavirus Sunday. The results come five days after Biden spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Trump. Biden, who has taken a far more cautious approach to in-person events, had two negative tests on Friday.
Biden also said he was willing to debate Trump in the previously scheduled Miami meeting of the candidates on Oct. 15, provided it was safe to do so.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany late Monday morning became the latest person in Trump’s orbit to reveal a positive test. McEnany said that after days of negative tests, she tested positive and will go into quarantine, though it wasn’t clear where that would be or how it would affect the handling of the administration’s communications to reporters.
McEnany spoke briefly with reporters Sunday evening outside the White House without wearing a mask, but said that no members of the press corps spent enough time around her to be considered close contacts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with mild to moderate COVID-19 appear to be contagious up to about 10 days after symptom onset. People with more severe disease likely are contagious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset, according to those guidelines. That means isolation — whether in the hospital or at home — is supposed to last for at least 10 days.
Blood oxygen concerns reported, belatedly
The president sidestepped questions on Sunday about exactly when Trump’s blood oxygen dropped — episodes they neglected to mention in multiple statements the day before — or whether lung scans showed any damage.
The disclosures about Trump’s oxygen levels and steroid treatment suggested the president is enduring more than a mild case of COVID-19.
WATCH l Trump campaign thrown into doubt after positive test:
U.S. President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has created a lot of uncertainty for his campaign one month before the election with Trump behind Joe Biden in the polls. 2:54
Blood oxygen saturation is a key health marker for COVID-19 patients. A normal reading is between 95 and 100 per cent. Conley said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94 per cent on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.
Conley revealed that Trump was given a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.
“There’s some expected findings, but nothing of any major clinical concern,” Conley said. He declined to outline those “expected findings.”
Trump’s treatment with dexamethasone is in addition to the single dose he was given Friday of an experimental drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that supplies antibodies to help the immune system fight the virus.
Trump on Friday also began a five-day course of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences antiviral currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The drugs work in different ways — the antibodies help the immune system rid the body of virus, and remdesivir curbs the virus’ ability to multiply.
The National Institutes of Health COVID-19 treatment guidelines recommend against using dexamethasone in patients who do not require supplemental oxygen. It has only been proven to help in more serious cases. Among the concerns with earlier use is that steroids tamp down certain immune cells, hindering the body’s own ability to fight off infection.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications.
Ever since Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced, fan enthusiasm and interest have run high. We’ve seen teasers and leaks for the game — impressive trailers and an entire suite of leaked demo music — but there’s always been the question of how well the game would actually play. It isn’t that hard to piece together good gameplay bits or CGI sequences, particularly when a remake has as much cultural cachet and nostalgia value as this game does. Now there’s a new demo available for the PS4 — and simultaneously, a number of publications have gotten hands-on time with the game and reported back with their own experiences.
The demo is available to anyone with a PS4, which means you can play through the opening chapter of the game and “the events of the iconic Make Reactor 1 bombing mission.” I’d be curious to know if this is a straight demo of the game or if it follows the convention of the actual demo Sony shipped for FF7 back in the day. For those of you who didn’t play it, the demo version of Final Fantasy VII that shipped on at least some discs gave you access to monster summons and abilities that you didn’t actually have at that point in the title when you played the game normally. The demo listing is here (no word on any PC version thus far, though we’ve gotten hints that there might be a PC version of FF7R on the way).
As for how the game plays, both Kotaku and Polygon spent three hours with it. For those of you who aren’t aware, Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t the full game. It’s only the first 5-10 percent of the title that occurs in Midgar. Typically, you exited Midgar within 4-6 hours in the original FF7. Rather than ship anything that short, Sony expanded the Midgar section of the story to bring it up to typical RPG length.
Image by Square Enix
Kotaku writes that the game systems definitely make it feel like an all-new title, with an overhauled combat system, expanded materia system, additional cut scenes, and weapon skill trees. The game’s story has obviously been extended with new primary and side quests as well. The Square Enix demo Jason Schreier attended allowed him to face off against multiple bosses, but while the game played well, he had questions about how gamers who loved the original will perceive the remake:
This whole sequence, which is Chapter 7 of the game, is certainly cool. The combat is excellent, the dialogue is snappy, and it’s all a lot of fun to play. But the transformation of a tutorial boss into a Shinra superweapon is also a reminder that by the end of this first episode of Final Fantasy VII Remake, we’ll have only seen a piece of the game’s sprawling plot. The original game has more than 30 bosses—if the second one is now an elite robot beast that needs to be tampered with before you can defeat it, just what is it going to look like when we get to Jenova, or Ruby Weapon, or even Sephiroth? How many years is it going to take before we can play the entire game?
What was once rushed in an attempt to invest players in the story of Cloud and his compatriots in Final Fantasy 7 is explored fully in Remake… The early hours of Final Fantasy 7 Remake offer much better characterization and storytelling than the 1997 original. It’s also a gradual tutorial of the remake’s dense combat system, a mix of real-time action and tactical command-based inputs.
The classic battle system is also available in the final game, but wasn’t available in the demo.
The question of how long it will take Square Enix to remake the game, and the overall attention to detail it’ll receive, is an interesting one. It frankly seems impossible for the company to literally give each chunk of the game this much of a makeover. If you expanded every 4-6 hours of Final Fantasy VII into a 30-40 game in Final Fantasy VII Remake, you’d be expanding the basic story from roughly 40 hours (based on HowLongtoBeat) to a 240 – 300-hour game. The typical completionist time for FF7 is 83 hours, 55 minutes. Are there people who would spend 500 – 700 hours in Final Fantasy VII? I’m sure there are. There are people who’ve sunk years into games like Skyrim and World of Warcraft. But I can’t imagine Square Enix targeting that kind of length as a typical investment into the game.
Final Fantasy VII Remake has been in development for five years. Announced relatively early in the PS4’s life cycle, Part 1 will launch as the console nears the end of its life. If the full game followed this schedule, it would literally take decades to remake the entire game. That’s obviously not tenable, and it seems unlikely that Sony would want to stretch this out into a three-generation affair. It’s one thing to launch the first part of the remake on the PS4 and then provide the others on PS5 (possibly with a native PS5 version in co-development with the PS4 flavor right now). It’s something else entirely to spread a remake across three different product generations.
It seems unlikely that Square Enix will target the entire game unilaterally for such upscaling. What seems more likely is that we’ll see some targeted expansion in specific areas. Midgar was a natural fit, since it kicks off the base game, but the pace will have to pick back up to something approaching the original in later titles, unless Sony thinks it can literally milk the game to 5-10 parts across multiple platforms and over a decade.
As for Part 1, the early feedback looks pretty good. If you try the PS4 demo, let us know your thoughts on it.
Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg said Friday that he’s willing to release at least three women from non-disclosure agreements that prevented them from speaking publicly about sexual harassment or discrimination suits filed against him over the last three decades.
The billionaire former mayor of New York also said his company, Bloomberg LP, will no longer use such agreements “to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward.”
His remarks come after days of intense scrutiny over the treatment of women at the company he’s led for three decades, and amid pressure from Democratic presidential rival Elizabeth Warren to allow the women to share their claims publicly. Bloomberg didn’t automatically revoke the agreements, but told the women to contact the company if they would like to be released.
The three agreements he’s willing to open up relate specifically to comments he’s alleged to have made. His company reportedly faced nearly 40 lawsuits involving 65 plaintiffs between 1996 and 2016, though it’s unclear how many relate to sexual harassment or discrimination.
At Wednesday’s debate, Bloomberg called such non-disclosure agreements “consensual” and said women who complained “didn’t like a joke I told.” The remarks were viewed by some as out-of-touch with the post-#MeToo era, which has prompted far more serious scrutiny of sexual harassment and innuendo by men in the workplace. Bloomberg is one of the country’s richest men, worth an estimated $ 60 billion US.
Watch: Democratic rivals target Bloomberg over NDAs
Mike Bloomberg’s opponents challenge him to release the people from nondisclosure agreements they have signed with him or his companies. 2:23
It was the first time Bloomberg was truly put on the spot in an otherwise choreographed campaign, where he’s been promoting his message via television advertising and scripted speeches rather than debates and town halls with voters.
Bloomberg said in a statement he’d done “a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days.”
“I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported,” it continued.
Bloomberg’s allies and campaign staff have defended him against allegations he is sexist or treats women poorly, and he’s touted his company as a friendly workplace for women.
On Friday he said his company would undertake a review of its policies on equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination and the use of “other legal tools” that prevent cultural change. He also pledged to push policies if elected president that expand access to childcare and reproductive health and guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave.
“I will be a leader whom women can trust,” he said.
Scotland’s Cove Rangers FC has released Canadian international Fraser Aird after he was caught on camera making a rude gesture from the stands at Sunday’s Old Firm Derby.
“Cove Rangers FC is aware of an image which is circulating relating to one of our players at the recent Celtic versus Rangers match,” Cove Rangers, a Scottish League Two club, said in a statement. “As a club we do not condone such behaviour and expect all of our players to represent our club in the correct manner at all times.
“Fraser Aird’s contract with the club was due to expire at the start of January and as a result he will be leaving the club with immediate effect.”
Visiting Rangers beat Celtic 2-1 Sunday in a top-of-the-table Scottish clash. Aird was in the away stand and his gesture was apparently aimed at the Celtic fans.
Aird played for Glasgow Rangers before stints with the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and Scotland’s Falkirk, Dunfermline Athletic, Dundee United and Queen of the South.
In late September he signed a short-term deal through January with Cove Rangers, a fourth-division club based in the Aberdeen area.
Aird issued an apology Monday via social media.
“I would like to apologize for my actions yesterday at the Old Firm game,” Aird said. “I got caught up in supporting my boyhood club and did something thoughtless. I know that as a professional footballer, I have a responsibility to carry myself in an appropriate manner. Yesterday I didn’t do that. I hope everyone will forgive me for it.”
Aird, who was born in Toronto to Glasgow-born parents, has one goal in eight appearances for Canada.