24. 09. 2018
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A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

It’s the children who distress me most.” — MSF nurse Anja Wolz

Today the Ebola story appears to be all about numbers – big numbers. The World Health Organization released a plan for bringing the seemingly unstoppable Ebola outbreak in West Africa to an end.

It estimates the work will cost US$490 million.It suggests by the time the outbreak is over, more than 20,000 people may have contracted the virus.  For context, the largest previous outbreak occurred in 2000 in Uganda, when 425 people were infected.It sets a goal of stopping the outbreak in six to nine months. It’s not a projection or a promise — the WHO is calling it a goal. It’s a telling word choice.It estimates 3,580 international and national personnel will be needed to make this all work.

These are numbers unlike anything the world has ever seen before in relation to Ebola, and frankly few in public health would have ever dreamed — nightmared  —  of a scenario like what the world faces now with the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

(Fingers are still crossed that Nigeria has contained the spread there, sparked by an infected government official from Liberia who travelled to Nigeria. So far Nigeria has recorded 17 cases, including the Liberian man, and six deaths — all from that one importation.)

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The plan, which the WHO calls a roadmap, is critically important work. But it’s hard to take in and it tells a story in numbers.

Ultimately, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a story about people. The people whose families and communities are being wiped out and the hugely courageous people who are trying to save lives and stop the spread of this hellish virus.

Anja Wolz is in the latter group of people. A nurse with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Wolz is working at Kailahun, Sierra Leone. She has written a first-person account of the gruelling and relentless work the national and international health-care workers fighting the outbreak face day after day after day.

She says the worst thing about the work is dealing with the children — orphaned, confused, sick and a heartbreak to caregivers whose instincts are to offer consoling hugs. The PPE — personal protective equipment, a.k.a. layers of head-to-toe coverings — the health workers must wear make hugging and even talking to the children difficult.

Wolz’s account can be read on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine, which was published Wednesday along with a slide show of photos that show the rudimentary facilities where these health-care heroes are trying to save lives. People who want to know the story behind the large numbers in the WHO’s containment plan can find it in Wolz’s words.

Today the WHO said to date at least 3,069 people in these West African countries have been infected with Ebola, and 1,552 have died.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

TORONTO – Canada ranks higher than 10 other developed nations in scientific literacy, or the ability of citizens to read and fully comprehend a lengthy article about science in a newspaper, according to a report released Thursday by the Council of Canadian Academies.

The report said 42 per cent of Canadians “grasp basic concepts and understand general media coverage of scientific issues.”

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That is higher than Sweden at 35 per cent and the U.S. at just under 30 per cent. Japan was last at about five per cent, it said.

The findings are based on a 2013 survey of 2,000 Canadians and an assessment of relevant international data, according to the authors.

The data was not all conducted at the same time. The data on Japan was collected in 2001, the European data in 2005, and as science literacy has been increasing generally all over the world in the past decade, these rankings may not be perfect, said Arthur Carty, chair of an expert panel involved in the report and executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

The survey measured Canadians’ attitudes towards science and tested their knowledge with simple true-or-false questions, such as “electrons are smaller than atoms” (answer: true).

The report – Science Culture: Where Canada Stands – is the most comprehensive look at public scientific engagement, attitudes and knowledge since 1989, its authors said.

In the past 25 years, Canadians have become more knowledgeable and engaged on scientific issues, though fewer people believe science holds the key to radically solving social problems, the report said.

Ninety-three per cent of Canadians polled said they have an interest in “new scientific discoveries,” ranking first among 35 nations, it said.

A third of respondents reported visiting a science or technology museum in the past year, and almost a quarter said they had signed petitions or joined street demonstrations on scientific issues such as oil pipelines, nuclear power or biotechnology.

The survey also found interest in science was more prevalent among younger, wealthier and well-educated respondents, and higher among men than women.

Scientist and broadcaster Jay Ingram said that while he’s heartened that Canadians do relatively well on measures of scientific literacy, it’s also important to remember that 58 per cent of Canadians do not have basic scientific knowledge.

“While 87 per cent of survey respondents [know] that the . . . earth goes around the sun is pretty good, that still leaves 13 per cent of Canadians who haven’t absorbed the astronomical knowledge of several centuries ago,” said Ingram, who was among 14 experts who compiled the report.

The panellists also examined the results of standardized science test scores of 15-year-olds, administered worldwide by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Canada ranked 10th out of 265 countries in 2012.

These scores have declined since 2006, said Carty, the panel chair.

“That raises some concerns about future performance and particularly our competitiveness vis-a-vis the science and technology giants of Asia,” said Carty.

It is important that Canada create and maintain a “science culture,” defined by the panellists as a society that “embraces discovery and supports the use of scientific knowledge and methodology,” the report said.

Leadership and vision are important in supporting science in Canada, but Ingram said the ultimate goal should be the fostering of a science culture that endures regardless of political leadership or policy.

The report also suggests targeting inequalities in access to science resources, in order to make the discipline inclusive and accessible to all Canadians.

“It’s all about ensuring that individuals in all segments of society have the opportunity to share in the wonder and excitement of science,” said Marc LePage, panellist and president of Genome Quebec.

“Perhaps the hockey analogy is that now we’re in the quarter finals,” said LePage. “The next step for us is to shoot for the Stanley Cup.”

The Council of Canadian Academies describes itself as a non-profit organization that “supports evidence-based, expert assessments to inform public policy development in Canada.”

In the survey conducted for the group, EKOS Research polled 2,000 Canadians via landline, mobile or online response. EKOS says it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

TORONTO – Rob Ford is sorry.

The mayor began what could be his last council session with a speech thanking his fellow councillors and apologizing for “embarrassing” council.

“I know I put this council through some challenges, I know I embarrassed council and I want to thank sincerely the deputy mayor for taking on the reins and I can’t thank you enough for taking the job on,” the mayor told said during a five-minute speech in council chambers Thursday morning.

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The deputy mayor assumed many of the mayor’s responsibilities in November amid an ongoing police investigation into the mayor and Ford’s admission he smoked crack cocaine despite several months of denial. The police investigation is ongoing.

Thursday’s council meeting is the last before October’s election, which could end the Ford’s mayoral tenure (though a new Forum Research poll indicated he could be gaining popularity, placing him in second place behind John Tory). Ford remains popular with many city constituencies despite lying about everything from his substance use to city finances and policies.

The mayor mentioned several councillors by name and thanked some regular opponents like Gloria Lindsay-Luby, and Karen Stintz.

Councillor Peter Leon, who was selected for Ward 3 after councillor Doug Holyday was elected MPP for Etobicoke Lakeshore (a seat Holyday lost just months later), is “the nicest guy” Ford said he’s ever met.

The mayor sounded like he was choking back tears when in a trembling voice he thanked his brother, campaign manager and most strident advocate, Councillor Doug Ford.

“I did mislead you, I did coerce you, I had to do something to get you into the seat,” he said.  “I appreciate you having my back 24/7 and it’s been a challenge and I really want to thank you for being my best friend and all I can say is, Queen’s Park, you have no idea what’s coming up to you next.”

The mayor appeared to be alluding to his brother’s MPP ambitions – ambitions Doug Ford has recently downplayed even after announcing he won’t run again for council.

Torontonians go to the polls on October 27.

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24. 09. 2018
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Tony Vella registers to take on Mark Grimes in Etobicoke – Toronto

Tony Vella registers to take on Mark Grimes in Etobicoke – Toronto

TORONTO – For years, Tony Vella was the face and voice of the Toronto Police – the man speaking for cops in the wake of shootings, hit-and-runs, and assaults. Now he wants to be the voice of residents in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. And he’s challenging 11-year incumbent Mark Grimes for the seat.

Vella’s on unpaid leave from the police service, and registered for the Ward 6 election Thursday morning. He says he’s been planning to run for several months.

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This is actually his second foray into politics in the last year – he tried, unsuccessfully, to replace Doug Holyday after the long-time councillor won a provincial byelection in August, 2013. (Holyday was eventually replaced by Peter Milczyn during the June election)

Vella knows this race will be tough – incumbents have a near-insurmountable advantage in local elections – but hopes being accessible will help him win. And he’s got his first lines down.

“When it comes to spending money, you have to be reasonable about it,” he said. “It has to make sense when you’re spending someone’s money. It’s taxpayers dollars, and you have to take that seriously.”

Vella’s using a mantra Rob Ford, who was a councillor for ten years in Etobicoke prior to becoming mayor, used to build his political career: respecting taxpayers dollars and using a personal touch with constituents.

“That’s your job,” Vella said. “Returning people’s phone calls, listening to their concerns, being available to them all the time.”

But this is his “own personal belief,” Vella said – not just a borrowed strategy.

He plans to expand his personal accountability focus later in the campaign, and wouldn’t divulge much of his platform just yet.  He also refused to comment on the city’s search for a new police chief, saying only that the decision was up to the police board, which voted last month not to renew Chief Bill Blair’s contract.

And if he wins, would he want to sit on the police board? He said he hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Grimes, a former TTC Chair, has served the ward as councillor for 11 years.

But Vella said that as a resident, volunteer at the Waterfront Festival and a former Humber College student, he’s got strengths of his own.

“It’s always important that people have various candidates to choose from. And I know I could do the best job,” he said. “Any time that you’re going up against an incumbent, it’s difficult. But I’m up to the challenge and I will convince the people that I can do a great job.”

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24. 09. 2018
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Apple to unveil next products at Sept. 9 event – National

Apple to unveil next products at Sept. 9 event – National

SAN FRANCISCO – Apple’s latest product launch will be in a setting that holds a special place in its history, signalling how big this event is for the company.

The Sept. 9 launch, which is expected to feature a larger iPhone and possibly a computerized watch, will be in the same Silicon Valley venue where Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, took the wraps off the original Mac computer 30 years ago. That machine was hailed as a major breakthrough that helped bring personal computing to the masses.

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These events have become an annual rite since the 2007 release of the iPhone, but this year’s may be the most highly anticipated since the iPad came out in 2010.

A “smartwatch” or other wearable technology would mark the company’s first foray into a new product category since the iPad came out.

True to its secretive nature, Apple Inc. isn’t giving any clues about what’s on the Sept. 9 agenda. “Wish we could say more,” Apple said in a succinct white invitation mailed Thursday to reporters and others.

The company scheduled the event at an auditorium about 3 miles from its Cupertino, California, headquarters. It seats about 2,300 people, a far larger capacity than the places that Apple usually uses to show off its new products.

Apple watchers expect an iPhone with a larger screen than the 4-inch display on the previous two generations of the device. The iPhone 6 is expected to feature a 4.7-inch screen to make it more competitive with larger smartphones made by Samsung Electronics and other rivals relying on Google Inc.’s free Android software. There also has been speculation that Apple may release another iPhone model with a 5.5-inch screen.

A bigger-screen iPhone could unleash a surge of sales among Apple fans who own iPhones with smaller displays. Some analysts think Apple could sell at least 70 million units of the iPhone 6 within the first few months after the device hits the market.

Although the iPhone is Apple’s biggest moneymaker, much of the intrigue around this year’s event surrounds the possibility that the company may release a long-awaited smartwatch that could help monitor people’s health and serve as control centre for Internet-connected appliances and electronics in the home.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated that he is intrigued with wearable technology devices, but hasn’t provided any concrete clues about what the company is working on. Cook has only said he is excited about what Apple’s latest inventions, a sentiment echoed by one of his top lieutenants, Eddy Cue, who earlier this year hailed the company’s product pipeline as its best in 25 years.

Apple has just been redesigning and adding features to its iPhones, iPads, iPods and Mac since the release of the iPad, raising concerns among investors that the company had run out of new ideas after the October 2011 death of Jobs, who served as its chief visionary.

Those worries have subsided during the past four months as the excitement has built for Apple’s new products. Apple’s stock hit a new high of $102.78 in Thursday morning’s trading before falling back to close at $102.25, up 12 cents for the session. The shares have risen 25 per cent in 2014.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Islamic State group kills more than 150 Syrian soldiers – National

Islamic State group kills more than 150 Syrian soldiers – National

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: Chilling video of the Islamic State fighters parading and humiliating a group of captive men prior to a mass execution. Paul Johnson has the story.

BEIRUT – The Islamic State group killed more than 150 troops captured in recent fighting for a string of military bases in northeastern Syria, shooting some and slashing others with knives in the past 24 hours in the latest mass killing attributed to the extremists, activists said Thursday.

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In southern Syria meanwhile, gunmen detained 43 U.N. peacekeepers during fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, the United Nations said. It added that another 81 peacekeepers were trapped in the area by the heavy clashes between rebels and Syrian troops.

The killing of government troops, combined with photos of dusty, terrified conscripts under militant guard in the desert, underscored how the extremist group uses violence – and images of violence – to instil fear in its opponents as it seeks to expand the proto-state it has carved out in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

READ MORE: Why is Aafia Siddiqui a terrorist bargaining chip?

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that many of the soldiers killed were rounded up Wednesday in the arid countryside near the Tabqa airfield, three days after Islamic State fighters seized the base. The government troops were among a large group of soldiers from the base who were stuck behind the front lines after the airfield fell to the jihadi fighters.

The Observatory said around 120 captive government troops from Tabqa were killed near the base. Islamic State fighters killed at least another 40 soldiers, most of whom were taken prisoner in recent fighting for other bases in the area, in the Hamrat region near Raqqa city, the group’s stronghold.

A statement posted online and circulated on 桑拿会所 by supporters of the Islamic State group claimed the extremists killed “about 200” government prisoners captured near Tabqa. It also showed photographs of what it said were the prisoners: young men stripped down to their underwear marching in the desert. The photos could not immediately be verified, but correspond to other AP reporting.

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A video that emerged online purportedly showed Islamic State fighters escorting nearly 200 men, stripped down to their underwear and barefoot, through the desert. Another video posted online later showed more than 150 men, also in their underwear, lying motionless – apparently dead – in a row in the sand.

While the videos could not be independently confirmed by the AP, they appeared to illustrate the claims made online by Islamic State group supporters and Syrian activists about the mass killing.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government.

In its rise to prominence over the past year, the extremist group has frequently published graphic photos and videos of everything from beheadings to mass killings.

In Iraq, for example, the group killed nearly 200 men – most of them Iraqi soldiers – in late June near the northern city of Tikrit, human rights groups and Iraqi officials say. It published photos online showing dozens of men dressed in civilian clothes lined up or lying face down as militants aimed rifles at their backs. A final set of photos showed their bloodied bodies.

Such killings have not been limited to Iraq. Earlier this month, Islamic State fighters shot and beheaded hundreds of tribesmen in eastern Syria who had risen up against the group.

READ MORE: UN panel finds Crimes against humanity spreading in Syria

A U.N. commission accused the Islamic State group Wednesday of committing crimes against humanity in Syria – echoing U.N. accusations against the group in Iraq.

The Islamic State group’s surge is one aspect of Syria’s multi-layered civil war, a bloody conflict that has killed more than 190,000 people and destabilized the region.

The 43 U.N. peacekeepers were detained by an armed group early Thursday in the Golan, where fighting has raged this week between Syrian rebels and government forces.

The office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did not identify the armed group that is holding the peacekeepers. Several rebel groups operate in the Golan, while the Islamic State group has no known presence there.

The U.N. said another 81 peacekeepers are “currently being restricted to their positions” in the vicinity of Ruwaihaniyeh and Burayqa.

The Syrian government denounced the “kidnapping” of the U.N. peacekeepers. In a statement issued by the Syrian Foreign Ministry, the government said it holds “the terrorist groups and those who support them fully responsible for the safety of the U.N. peacekeepers, and calls for their immediate release.”

The statement from Ban’s office said the U.N. “is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers,” who are part of UNDOF, the mission that has been monitoring a 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after their 1973 war.

As of July, UNDOF had 1,223 troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.

Syrian rebels briefly abducted U.N. peacekeepers twice in 2013 before eventually releasing them unharmed.

Heavy fighting has engulfed the Syrian side of the Golan since Wednesday, when rebels captured a crossing on the disputed frontier with Israel. A rebel spokesman said the opposition is focused on fighting President Bashar Assad, and poses no threat to Israel.

On Thursday, government warplanes targeted several rebel positions in the area, including in the village of Jaba, the Observatory said. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, also reported the air raids.

The Observatory said heavy clashes were raging between the rebels and the Syrian military in Jaba and the surrounding countryside.

White plumes of smoke set off by exploding mortar rounds could be seen on Thursday from the Israeli side of the Golan. The sound of small arms fire could be heard echoing in the background.

©2014The Associated Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Riding the Rails: A glimpse into Shawn’s boxcar world

Riding the Rails: A glimpse into Shawn’s boxcar world

WATCH ABOVE: 16×9’s “Riding the Rails”

For most people, a train is a means of transportation – taking them from point A to B. To Shawn, trains are more than just a ride – it’s a lifestyle – a way of being – seeing the world from a boxcar window seat.

Shawn is a train hopper. He spends much of his free time jumping on and off freight trains in the most remote places on earth.

“I think there’s like a wanderlust that comes with the railroad,” he explains.

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“There’s kind of a mystery with the train tracks – where they go – always wanting to go further and explore.”

Shawn’s fascination with locomotives came at a young age. When he was around five years old, Shawn’s father would take him camping at the local train yard in Ottawa, Ontario.

“He had told me one day that we were actually going to go train hopping.” But they never ended up going.

Shawn would have to wait a decade to take his first leap. At 19, while in New Brunswick, Shawn seized the chance to steal a ride.

“It was nine in the morning and I just went down to the train yard to see if I could catch a train,” he recalls. “I didn’t know anything about it, and took a chance and it just kind of happened.”

WATCH BELOW: A preview of 16×9’s “Riding the Rails”

Since then, Shawn has secretly hopped on dozens – if not hundreds – of freight trains. Don’t ask him how many – he says he doesn’t keep count.

“I ride whenever I can, and I’m happy with that. For me it’s not a game of numbers.”

When Shawn isn’t train hopping, he is working as a grip in the film industry, to save up money to go jumping overseas.

In 2011, Shawn saved up enough cash to visit India. With a population of over a billion people, it was hard for him to sneak on a freight train discretely.

“In India people don’t just hang out and watch trains really. So a foreigner being by the train tracks everybody would constantly come up to us and ask us what we’re doing and wanna talk to us, drove me absolutely insane,” Shawn said.

Shawn watches the sun rise over the desert in India during one of his adventures

16x9

Shawn spends much of his free time jumping on and off freight trains in the most remote places on earth.

16x9

To Shawn, train-hopping is a lifestyle – a way of being – seeing the world from a boxcar window seat.

16x9

Shawn did manage to get aboard and watch the sun rise over the desert during his travels.

“It was breathtaking. The desert was kinda pink and just seeing the desert, seeing nomadic tribes kinda walking there, it was actually one of my best moments training.”

Shawn has had many great train hopping moments over the years, but he says, nothing is as special as surviving the ride.

“It’s a very intimate thing,” Shawn explains. “You’re with this beast and you’re putting up with all the elements and after six or seven hours of going through something like that, even as you watch the train going away you feel like you’re attached to it.”

Don’t miss 16X9 this Saturday at 7pm.

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24. 09. 2018
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Retailer Holt Renfrew to close two stores – National

Retailer Holt Renfrew to close two stores – National

TORONTO – Holt Renfrew is closing its stores in Ottawa and Quebec City while expanding elsewhere in Canada as the venerable chain strives to remain competitive in an increasingly crowded luxury retail market.

The company, founded in 1837, says the stores will close at the end of January 2015. The Ottawa store has 72 employees and the one in Quebec City has 85.

The company said it had explored a number of options in the Ottawa and Quebec City markets and that the stores had performed well.

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“It was ultimately concluded that Holt Renfrew’s enhanced speciality luxury business model requires a significantly larger store footprint in any target market and a deep assortment across a wide array of its core brand partners,” the company said in a statement.

Company president Mark Derbyshire described employees at the two stores as having been “devoted through many successful years,” adding “we are dedicated to supporting them through this transition.”

Meanwhile, the company also announced it is planning $300-million in expansion projects in key markets in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal.

Craig Patterson, an analyst who runs the online news magazine Retail Insider, said the company is consolidating stores in anticipation of losing market share to U.S. luxury retailers.

The first Nordstrom in Canada is set to open next month in Calgary, while Saks Fifth Avenue, which was acquired by Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSX:HBC) last July, will open a new location in Toronto’s Eaton Centre.

Patterson says Holt Renfrew’s planned expansion is likely a direct response to the impending arrival of Saks Fifth Avenue, which carries similar merchandise.

“Saks really plans to up its game in Canada. When it builds its Canadian . . . (stores) it says its going to be more luxurious than their current American locations,” Patterson noted.

Among the scheduled projects, Holt Renfrew said it would add a new 120,000-square-foot store at Square One in Mississauga, west of Toronto, to open in 2016. It will expand and renovate its Bloor Street store in Toronto, including the addition of a new facade. The flagship stores in Vancouver and Calgary will also be updated.

A new 220,000 square-foot concept store in Montreal will be complete by 2017.

Despite the increased competition, Patterson says the company has a good chance of survival. The chain has been successful in attracting high-end vendors — recent examples include Dior and Miu Miu — and its lucrative personal shopping service has been a boon to the chain.

“I think that Holt Renfrew has two things going for it. It’s got a strong brand awareness among many wealthy Canadians and brand loyalty. And it does have some vendors that (others don’t) have and probably wouldn’t be able to keep,” he said.

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Is binge watching ruining TV? – National

Is binge watching ruining TV? – National

LAKE CITY, Pa. – It’s no secret technology is changing our television-viewing habits.

Americans are increasingly engaging in a practice known as television binge-watching – going through several episodes of a TV show in a single stretch. In the old days, of course, people watched one episode a week. That changed with digital video recorders and Internet streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. DVDs and online services also make it possible to start shows from the beginning, even years after the finale has aired.

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I used some recent trips to finish Showtime’s “Dexter” and start CBS’ “The Good Wife.” In between, I breezed through Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” and the second season of “House of Cards.” I have about 50 series on various watch lists – and people are continually recommending more. I know what I’ll be doing this Labor Day weekend.

So why am I unhappy about this new way to watch TV?

Avoiding spoilers

The biggest challenge with binge-watching is avoiding mentions of plot twists and other spoilers in the news media, on social networks and in casual conversations. Although friends on Facebook restrain from giving specifics, they often say enough to signal that something surprising just happened. Please! When I got to one of those episodes in question on “Game of Thrones” last year, I thought to myself, that’s it? It became a letdown rather than a shock as fans watching at the time experienced it.

Worse, I knew how the serial-killer drama “Dexter” ended long before I got to watch the final season during a trip to California this summer. Yes, it’s my fault for not keeping up; the finale was shown last September. But this column is about what I miss about watching television the old-fashioned way.

I also know what’s coming on “The Good Wife” three seasons from the one I’m currently watching. Then again, hearing about that plot twist this spring got me interested in the legal drama. Amazon Instant Video made it possible to start watching from Season 1.

Avoiding spoiling it for others

Aware of how it feels to hear about spoilers, I’m careful not to “spoil” others. But it’s hard to keep track of what I can say to whom.

“How I Met Your Mother” ended its nine-year run in March. To minimize the risk of spoilers, I watched it the day after the finale aired on CBS. But my friends were still months behind and weren’t available to discuss the meeting of the mother with me.

Same goes for “Breaking Bad,” which ended last fall after five seasons to critical acclaim. It’s a show many people want to watch, but relatively few have finished. Will you hurry up so I can talk about it?

The passage of time

I lose the sense of time by binge-watching. I don’t mean hours lost to television when I could be doing something useful to society, like laundry. Many television shows follow the seasons. Characters mark Christmas in December and Valentine’s Day in February. Leaves are colorful in the fall. When I binge-watch, I don’t always get a good sense of whether something I watched just four hours ago really took place four weeks or four months ago.

I also miss having a week or even a summer to reflect. Instead of challenging my mind to play out potential outcomes following a cliffhanger, I can simply press “play” to find out in the next episode.

READ MORE: Canadians spending more time watching video online

The last series I truly watched live was “Lost.” I don’t mean watching on a DVR that night or the next day. I mean watching it as it aired – usually at a bar in New York filled with fans who were quick to shush anyone who tried to talk. I spent the week between episodes discussing theories with friends, reading blogs and listening to podcasts devoted to the show. For the finale in May 2010, a friend in Belgium at the time even dropped by our gathering in New York for a surprise visit. Alas, a friend who just went through the entire series online this spring didn’t have those opportunities.

Of course, “Lost” isn’t like most series. And it’s true that some shows are easier to follow by bingeing. Twist-heavy shows such as “Revenge” and “Scandal” come to mind. But overall, you’re losing something when you’re not watching shows as they air.

Too much of a good thing

Netflix has been one of the biggest promoters – and enablers – of bingeing. As it does with all other original series, Netflix released the entire fourth season of “Arrested Development” at once last year.

I watched all 15 half-hour episodes in a single day, even after I started getting tired toward the end. I felt I had to race through the season or risk hearing about plots and jokes from other sources. Those final episodes were less enjoyable and less memorable as a result.

I’ve also let too much of my life slide trying to catch up on shows. In the past, when you heard about a good show, you started with the next episode that aired, and you managed to figure out what was going on. Nowadays, there’s a temptation to start from the beginning, even as new episodes air, such that it becomes overwhelming to catch up and keep up.

That happened to me with “The Good Wife.” I borrowed a friend’s Wi-Fi connection in Boulder, Colorado, to download the entire first season. I got through a good part of it as I travelled by train from Denver to New York. All the while, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing more productive things, such as finishing this column that I’d been procrastinating on for months because the “play” button was so easy to tap.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Friday August 29th on The Morning News – Halifax

Friday August 29th on The Morning News – Halifax

Reporter Brett Ruskin will be live at 6/7/8am from in front of the Halifax Memorial Library. The historic and beloved building is closing its doors on Saturday after more than sixty years. Brett will have a look back at the old library and find out how things are coming together for the big move into the new building across the street.

At 6:45 we’ll get some advice on how to eat healthier in the second half of 2014. Health Canada offers tips for healthy lunches.

At 7:15 we take off the big glasses, get rid of the rip-off pants and put down the Rum & Coke as the Trailer Park Boys go out of character to come on our show. Mike Smith (ie Bubbles), JP Tremblay (ie Julian) and Robb Wells (ie. Ricky) have left the set of sunnyvale behind to star in a new movie, SWEARNET, as themselves. The movie is about the guys going out on their own to start a new all-swearing news network and website. The movie opens in Theatres Friday!

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

Calling all beach bums! You don’t want to miss our interview at 7:45! We’ll talk with the organizer of the upcoming SandJam Halifax event happening on the waterfront this weekend. It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend with the Canadian National Team Beach Volleyball Championships and the SandJam concert Saturday night. We’ll have all the details plus we’ll talk with a couple of athletes!

What happens when creative minds from across the country collaborate on the subject of failure?  You get a successful theatre show!  At 8:15 we learn about The Failure Show making its Halifax debut at the Atlantic Fringe Festival.

And at 8:45 we wrap up the show with another one of the fine performers in town for the 5th Halifax Urban Folk Festival. Bryan Potvin of The Northern Pikes is in town to play at The Carleton on Friday. We’ll talk to the Canadian music veteran about his career and get a performance to close out the week.

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