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Marketplace flagged over 800 social media posts with COVID-19 misinformation. Only a fraction were removed

The world’s social media giants promised to crack down on harmful COVID-19 misinformation that has proliferated since the pandemic began, but a CBC Marketplace investigation found that when problematic posts were flagged, most weren’t labelled or removed. 

Marketplace producers, between Feb. 3 and Feb. 16, combed through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter — using the user tool to flag and report more than 800 posts that breach each company’s policies that cover, among other things, posting misinformation.

The result: 12 per cent of the posts were labelled with warnings or taken down entirely. That number jumped to 53 per cent per cent only after Marketplace journalists identified themselves and shared the findings directly with the companies.

WATCH | Full Marketplace report on COVID-19 misinformation:

Inside one of the world’s most dangerous Covid-19 conspiracy movements; Canada’s food labels fail to disclose added sugar content which makes some packaged foods appear healthier than they are. 22:30

“Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have become the primary superspreaders of misinformation in our world,” said Imran Ahmed, founder of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit based out of Washington, D.C., which Marketplace collaborated with on this project. “That is a shocking failure to act on misinformation that was handed to them on a silver platter.”

This post, presented as a study, claims ‘masks provide no benefit’ and ‘vaccines are inherently dangerous.’ It was one of the few posts that was taken down shortly after Marketplace reported it. (CBC)

Of the 832 posts Marketplace flagged, 391 came from Facebook, 166 from Instagram, 173 from Twitter and 102 from YouTube. The posts had a combined 1.5 million likes and 120,000 comments and covered a range of COVID-19-related topics, but generally circled back to a few central themes: vaccines are dangerous, COVID-19 isn’t and don’t trust authorities. 

Partly fuelled by social media, partly fuelled by the COVID-19 conspiracy movement’s effective persuasion tactics, misinformation has contributed to anti-lockdown sentiment, COVID-19 denial and vaccine hesitancy, said Ahmed.

Ahmed says companies such as Facebook are motivated to keep users sharing more content, not less. The more you scroll and the more users consume, the more these companies make from advertisements, which is where most of their revenue is generated, he said.

Imran Ahmed, the founder of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, says social media companies have become the primary superspreaders of misinformation online. (Jason Burles/CBC)

‘Incredibly dangerous’

Marketplace was interested in seeing if the social media giants had made improvements since a 2020 CCDH study, which found the companies only acted on five per cent of misinformation it reported. The CCDH cross-referenced and analyzed CBC’s data to ensure problem posts did breach company policies for FacebookInstagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, took action on about 18 per cent of the posts flagged on both platforms. That number jumped to about 67 per cent after Marketplace shared its findings. 

One of the posts that is still up on Facebook weeks later shows a picture of Bill Gates with the headline: “New vaccine causes sterility in 97% of women!” There is no evidence that links coronavirus vaccines to sterility.

As of March 29, this post remains on Facebook, even though Marketplace reported it and subsequently shared the findings with the company. (CBC)

Another post shows a homeopathic product, which purportedly “enhanced immunity” against COVID-19 and promised “reduced frequency and shorter duration of symptoms.” It sells for $ 49.99 US.

There are no homeopathic remedies that can cure or alleviate COVID-19 symptoms.

“Completely ridiculous and a little bit infuriating,” Timothy Caulfield, a health law and policy expert at the University of Alberta, said after he was shown the post. “Homeopathic is an easy one because it’s completely scientifically implausible. That one is so clearly wrong and harmful it should be taken down immediately.”

This homeopathic remedy, which purports to prevent COVID-19 symptoms, was flagged but remains on Facebook. There are no homeopathic remedies that can cure COVID-19. (CBC)

Caulfield says self-reporting tools on social media must lead to action otherwise people will stop using them, but understands the difficulty of monitoring platforms that have billions of users.

“The numbers of messages that have to be evaluated are just huge so I think that is one of the great challenges of social media: how can you meaningfully monitor all of these posts, but we know we need to,” said Caulfield. “The challenge is there but the harm is real.”

Over the course of Marketplace‘s test, Facebook did take down a number of prominent accounts on its platforms, including Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Instagram account, which had close to a million followers — the result of a new policy in February that outright prohibited the posting of any anti-vaccination or COVID misinformation. RFK Jr.’s Facebook account, and the Facebook and Instagram accounts of his group, Children’s Health Defense — with a combined following of close to 700,000 — are still up.

The company disputed that some of the posts Marketplace flagged violated its protocols, and said in an emailed statement that it had “removed millions of pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram that violate our COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation policies — including two million since February alone.”

YouTube, Twitter performed worst

Of the four platforms Marketplace tested, Twitter and YouTube took the least action.

Twitter initially left up all but two of the 173 posts Marketplace reported — including one by a prominent anti-vaccination leader that called the COVID-19 vaccine a “military-grade, deadly bio-weapon.” The post yielded more than 2,100 likes and 1,400 retweets. 

This Twitter post claims the COVID-19 vaccine is a ‘military-grade, deadly bio-weapon.’ Marketplace reported it but it still remained online as of March 28. (CBC)

While Twitter has since removed 18 per cent of the posts Marketplace reported, the company would not say why it initially left up the majority of flagged posts and said it doesn’t “directly comment on third-party studies.” It pointed to its updated policies, which include a five-strike system for users that would lead to an account deletion.

YouTube didn’t take down any of the flagged videos until Marketplace shared its findings. After that, it took down 34 per cent of the reported videos.

But many still remain — including one from a known conspiracist telling his audience that people are sending him information “telling me causes of [COVID] death have been altered.” He said he is also receiving information about, “hospitals that are completely dead, nothing happening in there,” referencing a viral trend early in the pandemic where people would record videos of empty hospitals to try to back up their claims that COVID-19 wasn’t real.

The video has over 700,000 views.

This video showing a prominent conspiracist talking about COVID-19-related deaths being altered is still up online, despite Marketplace reporting the video. (CBC)

YouTube said in a statement that only some of the videos Marketplace reported violated its policies, and said that since February 2020, it had “removed more than 800,000 videos for violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policies.”

Ahmed says CBC’s results suggest YouTube, Twitter and Facebook may not be paying as close attention to misinformation until news organizations or legislators put them under the microscope. 

“What’s really great about this study is that this tells us what they’re doing when they think no one is watching.”

  • Watch full episodes of Marketplace on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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CBC | Health News

‘My instincts were telling me something is wrong,’ Police dispatcher testifies at Chauvin murder trial

For nine minutes and 29 seconds, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, crushed his knee into the neck and back of George Floyd, an application of unreasonable force that led to the death of the 46-year-old Black man in May last year.

Or, the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do, and Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and toxic drugs in his system. 

These were the competing narratives laid out by the prosecution and defence, respectively, in their opening statements at the Chauvin’s murder trial in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis Monday. 

Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, sparked a series of protests around the world against police brutality and racial injustice. 

Chauvin, 45, faces two murder charges: second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder. Chauvin is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

WATCH | Prosecution lays out case against Derek Chauvin:

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell outlined the state of Minnesota’s case against the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. 0:59

Prosecution focuses on use of force

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell wasted little time showing jurors the graphic bystander video footage of Chauvin, with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck and back while Floyd shouted that he was in pain and could not breathe, until he eventually went motionless.

“He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — until the very life, was squeezed out of him,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell went through the nine minutes and 29 seconds that he said Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the ground, pointing out the former officer’s actions.

Chauvin “didn’t let up,” he told the court. “He didn’t get up,” even after Floyd, who was handcuffed on the ground, said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe, Blackwell said.

Indeed, for half of that time, while Floyd was either breathless or unconscious, Chauvin continued to apply pressure to Floyd, the prosecutor said.

Nor did Chauvin release Floyd, Blackwell said, when a paramedic arrived on the scene and checked Floyd’s pulse.

It was only when paramedics wanted to “move the lifeless body of George Floyd onto the gurney” that Chauvin released his hold on Floyd, Blackwell said. Floyd was pronounced dead in hospital later that night.

‘Check his pulse’

Blackwell said witnesses will also include bystanders who “called the police on police.” The prosecutor drew the jury’s attention to part of the video showing angry bystanders yelling at the officers.

One of those people was Donald Williams. He was one of three witnesses to testify Monday at the trial. Williams can be heard on the video yelling, “Check his pulse, check his pulse” to another officer at the scene.

Williams told the court he was trained in mixed martial arts, including choke holds and testified that Chauvin appeared to increase the pressure on Floyd’s neck several times with a shimmying motion.

Williams recalled that Floyd’s voice grew thicker as his breathing became more laboured, and he eventually stopped moving. He said he saw Floyd’s eyes roll back in his head, likening the sight to fish he had caught earlier that day.

Williams said he saw Floyd “slowly fade away … like the fish in the bag.”

Dispatcher called sergeant about arrest 

The trial also heard from Minneapolis police dispatcher Jena Scurry, who testified that she saw part of Floyd’s arrest unfolding via a city surveillance camera and was so disturbed that she called a duty sergeant.

Scurry said she grew concerned because the officers hadn’t moved after several minutes.

“You can call me a snitch if you want to,” Scurry said in her call to the sergeant, which was played in court.

She told the court Monday that she wouldn’t normally call the sergeant about the use of force because it was beyond the scope of her duties, but “my instincts were telling me that something is wrong.”

In his opening statement, Blackwell said that among the other witnesses scheduled, court will hear from one bystander and a fire department employee trained in first aid who wanted to check Floyd’s pulse but was warned off by Chauvin, who reached for his mace and pointed it in her direction.

In the coming days of the trial, Blackwell said the jury will also hear from use of force experts, including one who will testify Chauvin’s use of force was “capable of killing a human or putting his or her life in danger.”

WATCH | Chauvin’s lawyer gives overview of defence:

Attorney Eric Nelson presented his defence of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. 1:00

Defence cites Floyd’s strength, health conditions 

But Eric J. Nelson, Chauvin’s lead defence counsel, told the jury that the “evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds.”

Floyd was resisting arrest, and Chauvin arrived to assist other officers who were struggling to get Floyd into a squad car, Nelson said.

Three officers couldn’t overcome the strength of Floyd, he said.

“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,” Nelson said.

“The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”

Nelson said it was Floyd’s underlying health conditions, including a “compromised heart,” in combination with the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested and the adrenaline flowing through his body that caused his death. 

Floyd’s friends, family gather outside court

Before opening statements began, Floyd’s friends and family gathered outside the courthouse entrance, kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that it had initially been reported Chauvin had forced his knee into Floyd.

“If we can’t get justice for a Black man here in America, we will get justice everywhere else in America,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. “This is the starting point. This is not a finishing point.”

WATCH | George Floyd’s brother demands justice:

Philonise Floyd says his family will get justice as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin goes on trial in the death of his brother, George Floyd 1:29

Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said for all those people who continue to say that the murder trial is a difficult one, “we refute that.”

“We know that if George Floyd was a white American citizen, and he suffered this painful, tortuous death with a police officer’s knee on his neck, nobody, nobody, would be saying this is a hard case,” Crump said.

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CBC | World News

Montreal health agency says communications with family were ‘incomplete’ after woman found dead in ER

Montreal’s West Island health agency has admitted its communications were lacking with the family of a woman who was found dead last month on the floor of a room in the emergency department of Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe-Claire, Que. 

But the family says that’s not enough.

In a statement emailed to the media this morning, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest de l’Île de Montréal said it has asked the coroner to investigate Candida Macarine’s Feb. 27 death. 

“Although the investigation is still ongoing, the CIUSSS is already able to say that its communications with the family were incomplete, especially at the time of the announcement of the death,” the statement said.

“The CIUSSS team is obviously sorry for the concerns this caused to the family of the deceased,” it continued.

Macarine died in a negative pressure isolation room that nurses in the Montreal-area hospital had warned managers about several times, saying it was difficult to see and monitor patients there.

The day of her death, Macarine’s family was told only that she had died of cardiac arrest. 

Learned circumstances of mother’s death from news report

It wasn’t until they noticed a CBC News story two weeks later about a woman found “dead and ice cold” on the floor beside her bed that they realized that woman was likely their mother.

The family and CBC News have repeatedly requested more information from the hospital during the last two weeks.

The agency finally acknowledged Tuesday that Macarine was the patient who died, and that it had failed to report the circumstances of her death to the family.

WATCH | Placido Macarine shares how it feels to know so little about his mother’s death:

The family of a woman who died at Lakeshore General Hospital in a room that staff had warned managers about for weeks only learned about the circumstances of her death after reading a CBC story earlier this week. 2:19


The statement comes a day after the family of Filipino heritage held a tearful news conference, accusing the hospital of racism.

In an interview with CBC Tuesday, Candida Macarine’s son Emmanuel Macarine said he wasn’t impressed with the hospital’s statement.

“No, no, I’m sorry, but for me it’s not an apology,” Macarine said.

He scoffed at the hospital’s admission that its communication with the family was “incomplete.”

“Incomplete? Well I don’t know how they tried to communicate with us! Until now, we didn’t receive anything — until after the press conference yesterday,” he said.

Head of CIUSSS offers to meet with family

The health agency intends to act on recommendations from the coroner’s investigation to “ensure that such a situation does not happen again,” CIUSSS said in its statement.

“Moreover, if it is shown that our staff acted inappropriately, the CIUSSS will not hesitate to take the decisions and actions that are necessary in such situations.”

The health agency statement didn’t explain why the family was never told of the circumstances of Macarine’s death.

In an email, a spokesperson told CBC News that the agency would not comment further until the CIUSSS CEO Lynne McVey has had a chance to meet with the family.

“Lynne McVey wrote to family members yesterday and asked to meet with them to offer her support in this difficult ordeal,” the statement said.

‘Cannot trust them anymore’

Emmanuel Macarine said the family has no immediate plans to meet with McVey.

“After all the refusals to our requests to know the truth of what happened to our mom, we cannot trust them anymore,” he said. “I mean, what are they going to say now?”

Macarine said the family would prefer to deal with the coroner’s office.

He said he and some of his brothers and sisters would hold a news conference Wednesday.

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Pretty Sure We’re Prepared This Time: Blizzard Confirms Burning Crusade Classic

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Ever since World of Warcraft Classic proved there are a lot of people willing to facemash their way through the original, most difficult portion of the game, we began to hear chatter that a follow-up might be in the works for The Burning Crusade, the first expansion pack for the popular game. Whether this was wishful thinking or potentially true has not been clear until now. Blizzard has announced The Burning Crusade Classic, arriving later this year.

Features are what you’d expect. It’s The Burning Crusade, with only minor quality-of-life changes to the UI. Raid content will be introduced post-launch over a period of time, the same way Classic content was.

The method Blizzard has chosen for moving the player base is similar to one I proposed when Classic was new. When TBCC launches, players will have the option to either advance there with the rest of their server or stay behind on new, Classic-only servers. In short, Blizzard isn’t just bringing back specific instances of the game as snapshots, they’re recreating the entire character path folks took through the game the first time, with one difference. This time, if you don’t want to progress, you’ll be able to keep playing Classic on servers that are limited to Classic.

Historically, Blizzard always made certain features of new content available to all players, but not all of them. Any new content gated into an expansion pack remained locked to it, but broad world changes are always introduced for all players. Let’s say you were a Druid player stuck at Lvl 60 when everyone else got to go on to Lvl 70. You’re still Lvl 60, but you would get features like spell changes and talent tree adjustments. That may not be the case, here, because it isn’t clear if WoW Classic would freeze just before the final patch of the base game.

Basically, TBCC offers the same deal that WoW Classic did: Play the version of the game you liked better, as long as you want, with WoW Classic and TBCC included with the standard game subscription. I’m interested in TBC, partly because it was the first time players with multi-class characters had a decent chance of actually performing their roles. Paladin and Druid tanks advanced from also-rans to viable options, though Paladin taunts remain a bit annoying here, because you have to target the alternative individual being targeted, as opposed to slapping a mob in the face.

We’re Probably Prepared

If Blizzard makes any changes to TBCC, I’d like to see them make a few small changes or additions to Illidan’s portrayal to keep up with their own lore retcons. In Burning Crusade, Illidan Stormrage is one of the later raid bosses you’ll face in the instance. In the later expansion, Legion, Illidan is something of an anti-hero, whose motivations are rather different than as they were portrayed previously. It would be nice to see a little effort to harmonize the two depictions of the character, but I doubt it’ll happen.

If WoW Classic was a nostalgic opportunity to return to WoW as it was born, The Burning Crusade offers a chance to visit WoW as it matured. The Burning Crusade dramatically expanded character opportunities added the ability to fly via player-owned mounts, increased the overall leveling speed of the game, and expanded the lore with storylines that resonated through multiple expansions. Critical characters like Garrosh were introduced and plot lines that had lain dormant since the end of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal were paid off.

Players showed up in droves to battle Onyxia and brave the depths of Molten Bore Core. Will they return to brave the Black Temple, battle the trolls of Zul’Aman, and save the Sunwell from corruption?

PS: Paladins, your bubble will not save you in the Serpentshrine Cavern mega-drop. If you plan to skip the elevator and let gravity do its thing, you’d best wait some seconds before you trigger it.

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Google Told Stadia Developers They Were Making ‘Great Progress,’ Then Fired Them

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Google’s decision to kill Stadia’s game development and shut down its studio came as a surprise to everyone, especially its employees. A leaked email shows that that the VP of Stadia and general manager Phil Harrison sent an email on January 27 lauding everyone for the ‘great progress’ Stadia had made thus far. Five days later, Harrison announced Google would no longer be developing its own games, effective immediately.

Kotaku reports that Harrison held a contentious conference call with Stadia developers several days later. When pressed to explain the difference in tone between his January 27 email and the Feb 1 announcement, Harrison admitted nothing had changed between those two dates. “We knew,” Harrison said.

Officially, Harrison claims that Google quit the game development business because Microsoft bought Bethesda and because the cost of game development continues to rise. Sources claim Harrison also referenced the difficulties of working during the pandemic as one reason why Google shut down development. These answers strain credulity. Are we to believe that Google launched itself into game development without bothering to read a single article on the difficulty of launching into the console space? The cost of making games is literally always going up. Here’s the data:

Adjusted for inflation, the price of making games goes up roughly 10x every decade and has for the past 26 years. This is not new data.

I found this in under five minutes. The idea that Google launched Stadia without conducting some minimum due diligence is insulting. Furthermore, Stadia only launched 14 months ago. Google’s game development effort is reportedly under two years old. That’s not enough time for any game studio to create a brand-new AAA game. There are reports that developer headcounts were frozen all throughout 2020, indicating someone at Google had misgivings about Stadia from the get-go. It sounds as if Stadia never had Google’s full support, which is exactly the kind of half-baked effort everyone was afraid Stadia would turn out to be.

There is a profound and growing disconnect between Google and the concerns of actual humans who use its products. Google’s customer service has been infamously nonexistent for years, but things came to a head earlier this month when the developer of Terraria, a game with tens of millions of Android customers, announced he’d canceled the Stadia version of his game because he couldn’t get in touch with anyone at Google who could explain the total account ban affecting his company.

Getting locked out of your Google account without any known reason or apparent recourse isn’t just something that happens to little people. It happens to developers who partner with Google to sell software. Now, we know it happens to developers who trust Google as an employer, too. The company makes a lot of noise about wanting ethical AI experts on-staff, only to fire them the first time they raise questions about ongoing projects.

Google is not honest with the public about its own goals, motivations, or priorities. At times, it’s self-evidently not honest with its staff, either. The company repeatedly pledges to support projects like Stadia, then drops the entire concept of developing its own games with zero warning to anyone, even its own employees.

This isn’t just a question of shading the truth in a self-evidently favorable way. Every company does that. Consider: When Apple announces new hardware, speculation revolves around cost. When Microsoft announces a new feature, speculation revolves around how well it’ll work. If Facebook announces a new product, the discussion revolves around privacy.

When Google launches a new product, speculation revolves around how long it’ll be before the company kills it.

It’s unfortunate to learn Google treats at least some of its employees with the same disdain it treats everyone else, but it certainly isn’t surprising. Google used to be known for what it built. Now, it’s mostly noteworthy for what it quits.

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‘We’re not blind’: NHL players realize everyone’s not happy they’re playing

Connor McDavid knows what it looks like to some.

Millionaire hockey players travelling province to province for games when everyone else is asked to refrain from doing anything remotely similar as the COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave wreaks personal and financial havoc from coast to coast to coast.

“It’s unprecedented times,” McDavid said. “We’re not blind to understand that we’re very lucky to be able to come into work to play the game that we love.”

But the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, the sport’s superstar of superstars, also wants critics to understand that among the reasons the NHL is giving it a shot is to try and add some normalcy to what is looking like an increasingly dark winter of 2021.

“People are stuck at home and they need something to do,” McDavid said. “We’re going to play every other day for the next four or five months.

“We’re putting our bodies on the line not only for each other, but the fans.”

The NHL’s shortened 56-game season, which includes a one-time-only North Division consisting of Canada’s seven teams to avoid crossing the border — fans also won’t be allowed into arenas as things stand — is set to begin Wednesday. Players have been tested every day during training camp, and that will continue for at least the first four weeks of the schedule.

And when teams head out on the road, they’ll be restricted to the hotel and arena. No restaurants or mixing with the general population allowed.

“It’s to keep us safe,” Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “It’s to keep the people in the community safe.”

Tested ‘every single day’

By contrast, a person could fly from Toronto to Edmonton or Winnipeg to Ottawa tomorrow and not face any restrictions upon arrival.

“It’s not apples to apples,” Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. “We’re getting tested every single day.

“I’m aware that it’s not easy for anybody, but it is what it is.”

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff says “everyone’s looking for something to make them feel good,” during the COVID-19 pandemic. (John Woods/Canadian Press/File)

Like several league executives, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was on some of the conference calls as the NHL, the players’ association and various levels of government hashed out public health protocols acceptable to all parties.

“It’s not something that’s taken lightly,” he said of playing in a pandemic. “Having sports is about more than the wins and the losses. I think it’s about a mental psyche of a community, a mental psyche of a society.

“I think everyone’s looking for something to make them feel good.”

But is it fair that professional athletes get to play and earn a living as COVID-19 case counts continue to rise, the country creeps towards 17,000 deaths, businesses fail and amateur sports — from minor hockey to gymnastics — remain on ice?

“I understand that there are people against it,” Toronto Maple Leafs centre Jason Spezza said. “We’re all very cognizant of the fact that we’re lucky we’re allowed to keep working.”

“It’s not lost on us what’s going on outside our four walls,” Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving added of the optics. “We’ve taken every precaution we possibly can to do this as safely and responsibly in the time that we’re in. I understand there will be different views, and I respect those.

“But I think as a league we’ve taken every possible consideration.”

6 Stars players, 2 staffers get virus

The NHL pulled off the restart to its pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season in August and September thanks to tightly controlled bubbles that resulted in zero positive tests in Toronto and Edmonton. While the upcoming campaign will have plenty of measures in place, it’s not the same level of protection.

U.S.-based teams have also been aligned in newly formed divisions, and like the franchises north of the border, will only play against those clubs to cut down on travel and the chance of infection.

But there have already been cracks.

The Canucks cancelled their practices and workouts Sunday “out of abundance of caution” due to potential exposure of COVID-19.

The Dallas Stars announced Friday six players and two staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 during camp, while the Columbus Blue Jackets kept some of their roster off the ice — also “out of an abundance of caution.” Then on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins cancelled practice for the same reason.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said the rules and protocols go beyond the players to include their own personal bubbles, which in turn should create team bubbles that, while not as secure as the summer, it’s hoped will further limit risk of exposure.

“The protocols that are in place are extremely restricted to not only them, but their families, and where they’re permitted to go and what they’re permitted to do,” Dubas said. “Hopefully as we get near the end of everything, we’ll be able to have fans back in our building and enjoy things in the spring and summer as normal as possible. But first and foremost is the health and safety of everybody.”

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher says the NHL “is a business for a lot of people and money needs to be made.” (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/File)

Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher said apart from raising spirits, playing can help to boost a struggling economy.

“There’s so many people who rely on these games,” he said. “It’s a game for us, but for a lot of people it’s a business. When you look at these provinces that are bleeding for money right now, they need these games.

“We are in the entertainment business, but it’s a business, and money needs to be made. Hopefully we can get through this thing and everyone can stay safe, but we have a job to do and we’ve been asked to do it. We’re happy to oblige. “

And while a section of society will no doubt be opposed, the race for the Stanley Cup is now right around the corner.

“Some people may not love the idea that we’re able to travel and play,” McDavid said. “But we’re lucky to be able to come into work and do it for the fans sitting at home.”

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‘We’re not going to apologize’: U.S. officials defend crackdown in Portland

Top U.S. Homeland Security officials say they have no intention of pulling back in Portland, Ore., and defended the federal crackdown on anti-racism protests in the country, including the use of unmarked cars and unidentified officers in camouflage.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent law enforcement units to Portland to back up the Federal Protective Service responsible for guarding government facilities after receiving intelligence about planned attacks around July 4, the DHS officials said.

“DHS is not going to back down from our responsibilities. We are not escalating, we are protecting,” Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security, told Fox News.

President Donald Trump condemned protests in Portland and violence in other “Democrat-run” cities on Sunday as his administration moves to intervene in urban centres he said have lost control of demonstrations. Protests began across the country after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis in late May.

Last week, federal officers started cracking down on crowds, using tear gas to disperse protesters and taking some into custody in unmarked cars.

WATCH | Tear gas fired at demonstrators during a protest in Portland:

Protests over racism and police brutality have been going on in Portland, Ore., almost daily for over 50 days since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The Trump administration has deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on the protests. 4:22

Officers without clear identification

On Monday morning, Portland Police provided details on another tense night between protesters and federal law enforcement in the city, saying federal agents used tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered outside a federal courthouse downtown.

A Black Lives Matter protester burns an American flag in Portland. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Wolf said federal law enforcement was doing its job.

“We’re not going to apologize for it,” he said. “We’re going to do it professionally and do it correctly.”

The clampdown in Portland has drawn widespread criticism and legal challenges as videos surfaced of officers without clear identification badges using force and unmarked vehicles to arrest protesters without explanation.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deputy secretary, said the federal officers wore the same uniforms every day and the crowds knew who they were. He also defended the use of unmarked cars as routine.

“Unmarked police vehicles are so common it’s barely worth discussion,” he told CNN.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary, said the department would respond the same way as it has in Portland if federal authorities received the same kind of intelligence in other places in the U.S. (Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

Cuccinelli said if federal authorities receive the same kind of intelligence threat in other places, they would respond the same way.

“It’s really as simple as that,” he said.

Democrats demand answers

On Sunday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives demanded internal investigations into whether the Justice and Homeland Security departments “abused emergency authorities” in handling the Portland protests.

Portland’s mayor called the intervention an abuse of federal power and said it was escalating the violence. Oregon’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the federal agencies, saying they had seized and detained people without probable cause.

Cuccinelli dismissed local leaders’ calls to leave the city.

“We will maintain our presence,” he said.

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Who were the MVPs of Canada’s Olympics?

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Before it won a Winter Games-record 14 gold medals in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada had a reputation for flopping whenever it hosted the Olympics. Fair enough: in 1976 in Montreal, Canada became the first (and still only) summer host country to not reach the top of the podium, and it also failed to win gold at the ’88 Winter Games in Calgary.

Not a great look, obviously, but Canadian athletes still produced some excellent performances at those Olympics. So, with this being Canada Day weekend (sort of), we thought it might be nice to pick the Canadian MVPs for the three Olympics held in Canada, along with some honourable mentions. Here goes:

Montreal 1976

MVP: Greg Joy

If you can get past the gold-medal shutout, Canada actually did pretty well in Montreal. It won 11 medals — the 13th-highest total at those Games and one more than Canada picked up at the previous two Summer Olympics combined. Five of those medals were silver, and four of them were individual efforts.

Joy gets the MVP nod because his silver came in the highest-profile event of the bunch — the high jump — and because it was such a pleasant (and well-timed) surprise. Joy was only 20, and he would never win another medal at the Olympics or the world championships. But on the final night of competition in Montreal, inside a packed Olympic Stadium, he cleared 2.23 metres to beat world-record holder Dwight Stones of the U.S., who settled for bronze. Only an Olympic-record jump of 2.25 metres by Poland’s Jacek Wszoła kept Joy from becoming the first Canadian to win gold on home soil. He was selected to carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremony the next day.

Honourable mentions: Cheryl Gibson and Nancy Garapick

They were part of a strong Canadian swimming team that won eight medals in Montreal (two silver, six bronze). Gibson’s silver in the women’s 400-metre medley was the closest Canada came to winning an individual swimming gold. Garapick picked up a pair of solo bronze medals, in the 100 and 200 backstroke. The only athletes who beat Garapick and Gibson in those races were from East Germany, which was running a massive, state-sponsored doping program.

Calgary ’88

MVP: Elizabeth Manley

A dozen years after Montreal, Canada’s best hope of avoiding another gold-medal shutout appeared to be Brian Orser. He’d taken silver in the Olympic men’s figure skating event in ’84 and followed that up with three straight silvers at the world championships before beating American rival Brian Boitano to capture the ’87 world title. That set up the epic Battle of the Brians in Calgary, where Boitano beat Orser by just a tenth of a point. An Olympic silver medal is nothing to be ashamed of, but this was a defeat for Orser. Read more about the Battle of the Brians in this wonderful longform piece by Vicki Hall for CBC Sports.

On the other hand, Manley’s silver in the women’s event felt like a victory. No one considered her a serious contender, but she put herself in position for a medal with strong compulsory and short skates, and then pulled off the free skate of her life to win that segment and come within a hair of upsetting defending champ Katarina Witt (one of the sport’s all-time greats) for the gold medal. It’s one of the great out-of-nowhere performances in Olympic history. Watch Manley reminisce about it 30 years later in this video.

Honourable mention: Karen Percy

Manley and Orser won Canada’s only two silvers in Calgary, but Percy was the most decorated Canadian there. She took bronze in both the downhill and the super-G. Canada finished with only five medals in Calgary, so we may as well mention the other one: a bronze by Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall in the ice dance that gave Canada a medal in three of the four figure skating events.

Vancouver 2010

MVP: Sidney Crosby

The Golden Goal. We could probably just drop the mic right there. But it’s also worth noting that Crosby wasn’t a one-hit wonder in Vancouver. He had seven points (including four goals) in seven games.

Honourable mentions: When you win 14 gold medals, there’s gonna be a lot. Marie-Philip Poulin scored both goals in Canada’s 2-0 win over the U.S. in the women’s hockey final; short track speed skater Charles Hamelin won two gold medals (an individual and a relay); moguls skier Alex Bilodeau captured Canada’s first Olympic gold on home soil; and Jon Montgomery chugged beer straight from the pitcher after winning skeleton gold.

You can relive some of the moments covered here on Saturday’s edition of Olympic Games Replay, which features great performances from the three Olympics held in Canada. Watch the stream Saturday from 3-6 p.m. ET here, or catch it on the CBC TV network (check local listings for times). In the meantime, you can watch this video by CBC Sports montage master Tim Thompson.


Washington’s NFL team promised a “thorough review” of its nickname. For decades, the Redskins have brushed aside complaints that their name is a slur against Indigenous people. Owner Daniel Snyder has vowed to never change the name as long as he’s in charge. But that position might no longer be tenable at a time when demonstrators are taking to American streets to protest racism and monuments are coming down around the country — including one of former Washington owner George Preston Marshall, whose team was the last in the NFL to integrate. Yesterday, FedEX, which sponsors Washington’s stadium and whose CEO owns a stake in the team, issued a statement saying it had asked for the name to be changed. This came a day after a report saying FedEx, Nike and Pepsi all received a letter signed by 87 investment firms asking them to stop sponsoring the team. Read more about the mounting pressure on Washington to change its name here.

The Edmonton Eskimos are sticking with their name for now. The CFL team released a statement today reminding everyone of its announcement months ago that it had conducted an “extensive research and engagement program with Canada’s Inuit community” and found “no consensus” for a name change. The team promised today to “ramp up our engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views.”

The CFL denied reports that it’s looking to use Winnipeg as a hub city. TSN’s Dave Naylor reported today that “the CFL’s focus for return to play is indeed Winnipeg,” though there are “lots of hurdles to clear still.” But a CFL spokesperson told The Canadian Press that no decision has been made about the option of playing a shortened season in a single location. The season was supposed to kick off on June 11, but commissioner Randy Ambrosie said a while back that it won’t start until September at the earliest, and it could be cancelled altogether. The CFL and the players’ union are discussing changes to their collective bargaining agreement that would make a reduced season possible.

Baseball’s best player is having doubts. Mike Trout, who is the reigning American League MVP and has (amazingly) finished first or second in MVP voting in seven of his eight full seasons, says he hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll play this year. Trout and his wife are expecting their first child in August, and he’s uncomfortable with the risk of being separated from them if he tests positive for COVID-19, as well as the possibility of passing the illness to them. Trout’s Los Angeles Angels held their first workout of summer camp today, and Trout wore a mask for the whole thing. Read more about his tough decision here.

In other Major League Baseball news: The all-star game was officially cancelled for the first time since 1945. Also, the Blue Jays are expected to fly up to Toronto this weekend from their spring-training facility in Dunedin, Fla., after finally receiving approval from the Canadian government to hold their summer training camp at the Rogers Centre. Read more about the reasoning behind that decision in this story by CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux.

Formula One returns this weekend. The season was supposed to start in mid-March and consist of 22 races spread across the world – including the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in mid-June. But it’s been reworked into an eight-race series that takes place entirely in Europe, with the potential to add more races later. The opener is Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, and the scheduled races run through the Italian Grand Prix in early September. Reigning drivers’ champion Lewis Hamilton had the fastest time in the first two practices today. Canadian driver Lance Stroll finished 11th and seventh.

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Military confirms 40 per cent of COVID-positive troops deployed to long-term care homes were asymptomatic

Up to 40 per cent of Canadian troops infected with the novel coronavirus may have been carrying the virus symptom-free while they were deployed to long-term care homes — and may even have contracted it in the hotels where they were billeted — senior members of the military acknowledged today.

The remarks by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and the military’s deputy surgeon general once again focused attention on the patchy testing regime employed by the Department of National Defence (DND) when over 1,600 troops were tasked with backstopping failing long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario.

As CBC News reported earlier this month, the military itself had been testing only those troops deployed to long-term care homes who displayed symptoms of the virus. Asymptomatic military members were not proactively tested — except in cases where the long-term care homes themselves provided the screening.

Maj.-Gen. Marc Bilodeau, the deputy surgeon general, told a Senate committee today that 40 per cent of the infections involved asymptomatic solders who were detected by preemptive evaluations by the nursing homes that were trying to identify and prevent “an uncontrollable outbreak.”

At a separate public event on Friday, Vance said most of the 55 soldiers who contracted the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 did pick it up in long-term care homes, which have been hotspots of infection throughout the pandemic.

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“We believe some of those troops that were determined to be affected had been asymptomatic before the operation started. So a testing regime is going to be really critical going forward, ” Vance told a media briefing today on the pending withdrawal of military assistance from long-term care centres. The Canadian Red Cross will stand up hundreds of volunteers to take the place of soldiers over the next month.

Only four infected members of the military remain ill. The rest have recovered and none were hospitalized.

“The possibility they have been infected where they were staying has also been considered,” Vance said.

“There was also contact with the virus in the facilities we were living in. We were sharing hotel space with other emergency workers and so on. The virus, you know, is insidious and easily contracted.”

Gaps in DND’s testing protocol

In response to questions from CBC News in early June, DND acknowledged it had no uniform testing program for troops  — an omission that alarmed a leading health and safety policy expert who advised Ontario’s SARS commission more than a decade ago.

“To date, primarily symptomatic [Canadian Armed Forces] personnel are being tested for COVID-19, including [Operation] LASER deployed personnel,” said Dan Le Bouthillier, DND head of media relations, in an email on June 3.

Watch: Deputy Surgeon General describes how the Forces dealt with COVID-19 in long-term care homes:

Major General Marc Bilodeau, the Canadian Forces deputy surgeon general spoke with senators on the social affairs committee on Friday. 3:06

“CAF personnel deployed on Op LASER and assessed to be in close contact with active COVID-19 cases in [Long-Term Care Facilities] may be proactively tested based on recommendations of the local public health authority.”

Mario Possamai, a former senior adviser to the Ontario government’s SARS Commission, told CBC News at the time the military’s approach amounted to a patchwork policy that failed to recognize the extraordinary uncertainty surrounding the transmission of COVID-19.

Possamai acknowledged the military was following established federal and provincial health protocols, but argued that approach ignored mounting evidence of symptom-free transmission.

In its original story, CBC News sought clarification by requesting an interview with the military’s surgeon general on two occasions. In both instances, those requests were not acknowledged.

Appearing before the Senate’s social affairs, science and technology committee today, Bilodeau said that at the start of the pandemic deployment DND contracted with two labs — one in Toronto, one in Montreal — to conduct reactive testing on symptomatic individuals as needed.

“Now we have a more proactive testing system,” said Bilodeau. “Now we have a contract with a private lab that is allowing us to be more proactive.”

Watch: Gen. Jonathan Vance on asymptomatic troops in long-term care homes

Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance says the Canadian Armed Forces now thinks some soldiers infected with COVID-19 while working in long term care homes were asymptomatic before they were deployed. 0:38

Troops are now being tested before they deploy into long-term care centres to make sure they’re not carrying the virus with them. They’re also tested at the end of deployment to ensure they won’t infect family and friends once they go home.

Vance today defended the decision to limit testing but acknowledged the military had learned important lessons ahead of a possible second wave of the virus — something he said he’s worried about.

Vance said the troops did “a great job” protecting themselves and did the best they could under extraordinary circumstances.

“As we went into those long-term care facilities, we brought with us the best knowledge that we could, but we did not have local knowledge of the facilities themselves,” said Vance.

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‘We’re really at a tipping point’: COVID-19 brings research into other medical conditions to a grinding halt

Ever since their son Michael was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Terry and Georgia Pirovolakis have been racing to find a cure. They were getting close, and then everything came grinding to a halt.

“We had a whole bunch of researchers around the world doing different things. All of our research has basically stopped,” says Terry Pirovolakis.

Michael is two-and-a-half years old and has spastic paraplegia type 50 (SPG-50), a rare neurodegenerative disease caused by a missing gene that is progressively robbing him of his ability to walk.

Over the past year, his parents have raised more than $ 1 million to help finance a clinical trial for custom gene therapy that promises to halt the disease. But the COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed research around the world, and their hope along with it.

“It’s hard to accept the fact that we were making so many gains,” says Georgia Pirovolakis. “You know, we were hoping he would be walking by September.”

Therapies Michael has been doing to maintain the movement he has now, like physical and occupational therapy, have been canceled, so his parents Georgia and Terry are doing what they can for him themselves. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Michael is just one of the many casualties of the global health crisis. From new gene therapies to help children like Michael, to the latest in cancer treatments, thousands of clinical trials deemed non-essential are on hold.

Brad Wouters is executive vice-president of Science and Research at Toronto’s University Health Network, Canada’s largest academic hospital. He says an example of the impact is a patient currently being treated for pancreatic cancer.

“He was part of a medical research study here that looked at the underlying genetics of that tumour, and that information revealed a potential new therapy that could be very effective for that patient in immunotherapy. But we only have access to that drug through a clinical trial. And so he won’t get it.”

Wouters says the only new research happening at the moment is around COVID-19. About 200 of UHN’s researchers have pivoted to that, but thousands more risk losing their jobs, Wouters says, because in the past month alone UHN has lost $ 6 million in industry funding. It’s why UHN is asking the federal government for help.

Brad Wouters, executive vice-president of Science and Research at Toronto’s University Health Network, says in the past month alone UHN has lost $ 6 million in industry funding. (CBC)

“We’ve been doing everything we can to try and support these jobs and support this research sector,” says Wouters. “But it’s over a month now, and we’re really at a tipping point where we’re going to see significant job losses if something can’t be done.”

Canada’s $ 3-billion medical research industry relies on that brain trust, much of it made up of international students, says Martha Crago, vice-principal of Research and Innovation at McGill University.

“We wouldn’t want to lose this wonderful set of brains coming into our country and helping bring solutions to the public domain,” Crago says. “We need to do what we can to keep them.”

The pandemic will be over at some point, Crago says, and those researchers will be needed to help regain lost scientific momentum.

‘He’s going to degrade’

Meanwhile, the Pirovolakis family fear they’re running out of time.

All the therapies Michael has been doing to maintain the movement he has now, like physical and occupational therapy, have been cancelled. They’re trying to improvise at home to keep him moving, and to keep their hope alive too.

The stalled research efforts means a cure for Michael may be delayed for up to a year. That could mean the difference between him ever walking or not.

“It means he’s going to degrade,” says Terry Pirovolakis. “The progression of the disease is going to kick in, he’ll slowly become more and more paralyzed.”

We get an update from the Pirovolakis family and their search for a cure for their son who has a rare genetic disorder. 4:01

It’s why the couple are trying to keep research into Michael’s gene therapy going.

They’re considering using money the family has raised so far to finance early toxicology tests on a potential treatment researchers in the U.S have already developed. They are also lobbying Canada’s National Research Council to help develop a treatment or help with funding.

Georgia Pirovolakis says there are so many unknowns, and she can’t bear to dwell on them.

“I just look at one day at a time. I’m not thinking about, you know, tomorrow. I’m not thinking about one month from now. I’m not thinking about the research stopping, him potentially not getting cured.”

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