‘I just hope it’s not Dogecoin’: Elon Musk hosts ‘SNL’ after month-long break – National


Saturday Night Live (SNL) returned this weekend after a month-long hiatus, bringing new but controversial figure Elon Musk to host the show.

Following a heartful Mother’s Day performance by Miley Cyrus and several cast members, Musk’s opening monologue began with him making fun of his own way of speaking.

Read more:
Dogecoin rallies ahead of Elon Musk’s SNL stint. Why is the cryptocurrency so popular?

“It’s an honour to be hosting Saturday Night Live, I mean that. Sometimes after I say something I have to say ‘I mean that,’ so people really know that I mean it — that’s because I don’t always have a lot intonational variation when I’m speaking, which I’m told makes for great comedy,” said Musk.

The founder of SpaceX and “Technoking of Tesla,” Musk’s appearance has lauded criticism from many on and off the show over his comments on social media as well as his immense wealth.

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Currently, Musk is the second richest person in the world behind Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and had reached that position recently — profiting significantly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Click to play video: 'Elon Musk’s Neuralink shows monkey playing video games via brain chip'







Elon Musk’s Neuralink shows monkey playing video games via brain chip


Elon Musk’s Neuralink shows monkey playing video games via brain chip – Apr 9, 2021

Though while he didn’t address his wealth, Musk did bring up some of the criticism leveled against him in his opening skit.

“I believe in a renewable energy future. I believe that humanity must become a multi-planetary spacefaring civilization … now I think if I just posted that on Twitter, I’d be fine,” said Musk. “But I also write things like ’69 days after 4/20 again haha.’”

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“I don’t know, I thought it was funny that’s why I wrote ‘haha’ at the end.”

Acknowledging that sometimes he’ll post “strange things,” Musk said that’s just how his brain works.

“To anyone I’ve offended, I just want to say I’ve reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship — did you think I was also going to be a chill normal dude?” said Musk who shrugged his arms.

Read more:
Elon Musk, Grimes reveal how to pronounce baby’s name, X Æ A-12

Musk also spoke about some of the “dumbest things” he ever did, like when he smoked weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Now, he says that he only ever hears about himself as a person that smokes weed on podcasts.

“It’s like reducing O.J. Simpson to ‘murderer,’ that was one time!”

After a joke that jabbed at electric car competitor, the Toyota Prius, Musk also said that being live on air was a great way to learn more about the host — like his son’s name, X Æ A-12.

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“It’s pronounced ‘cat running across keyboard.’”

Bringing his mother Maye on the show to talk about himself as a kid, both made a final joke that many were speculating to be a staple of Musk’s skit.

“I’m excited for my Mother’s Day gift,” Maye exclaimed. “I just hope it’s not Dogecoin.”

“It is…” responded Musk, giddily.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Cyberattack shuts down top U.S. fuel pipeline network


NEW YORK —
Top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline has shut its entire network, which supplies fuel from U.S refiners on the Gulf Coast to the eastern and southern United States, after a cyberattack that industry sources said was caused by ransomware.

The company transports 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products through 5,500 miles (8,850 km) of pipelines, and transports 45% of East Coast fuel supply.

Colonial shut down systems to contain the threat after learning of the attack on Friday, it said in a statement. That action has temporarily halted operations and affected some of its IT systems, the company said.

While the U.S. government investigation is in its early stages, one former U.S. government official and two industry sources said the hackers are most likely a highly professional cybercriminal group. Investigators are looking into whether a group dubbed “DarkSide” by the cybersecurity research community is responsible.

DarkSide is known for deploying ransomware and extorting victims, while selectively avoiding targets in post-Soviet states.

The malicious software used in the attack was ransomware, two cybersecurity industry sources familiar with the matter said. Ransomware is a type of malware that is designed to lock down systems by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access. The malware has grown in popularity over the last five years.

Colonial has engaged a third-party cybersecurity firm to launch an investigation and contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies, it said.

Cybersecurity company FireEye has been brought in to respond to the attack, the cybersecurity industry sources said. FireEye declined to comment when asked if it was working on the incident.

Colonial did not give further details or say for how long its pipelines would be shut.

“Cybersecurity vulnerabilities have become a systemic issue,” said Algirde Pipikaite, cyber strategy lead at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity.

“Unless cybersecurity measures are embedded in a technology’s development phase, we are likely to see more frequent attacks on industrial systems like oil and gas pipelines or water treatment plants,” Pipikaite added.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that Colonial had shut its main gasoline and distillate lines.

During the trading session on Friday, Gulf Coast cash prices for gasoline and diesel edged lower.

Both gasoline and diesel futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose more than crude prices during the day. Gasoline futures gained 0.6% to settle at $2.1269 a gallon, while diesel futures rose 1.1% to settle at $2.0106 a gallon.

“The fact that this attack compromised systems that control pipeline infrastructure indicates that either the attack was extremely sophisticated or the systems were not well secured,” said Mike Chapple, a professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and a former computer scientist with the U.S. National Security Agency.

Longer-term price effects will depend on the amount of time that the lines are shut. If barrels are not able to make it onto the lines, Gulf Coast prices could weaken further, while benchmark prices in New York Harbor could rise, one market participant said. Rising benchmark prices are typically followed by price hikes at the pump.

Colonial shut down its gasoline and distillate lines during Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast in 2017. That contributed to tight supplies and gasoline price rises in the United States after the hurricane forced many Gulf refineries to shut down.

East Coast gasoline cash prices rose to the highest since 2012 during Hurricane Harvey and have not gone higher since, while diesel prices rose to a more than two-year high, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Christopher Bing Editing by Simon Webb and Alistair Bell)



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Possible shutdown of Line 5 not a threat to Canada’s energy security: ambassador


Canada’s ambassador to the United States says that while the potential shutdown of Line 5 is a serious issue, it’s not a threat to Canada’s national energy security. 

“It is not a threat to Canada’s national economic or energy security,” Kristen Hillman told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics on Thursday.

“I think that it is an important dispute or disagreement that exists between Enbridge and the state of Michigan that needs to be taken very seriously. And we are taking it very seriously.”

Line 5, which runs through Michigan from the Wisconsin city of Superior to Sarnia, Ont., crosses the Great Lakes beneath the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, which link Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.

The pipeline carries petroleum east from Western Canada. Once it hits Ontario, most of the crude oil is turned into fuels that meet almost 50 per cent of the province’s fuel demands. The remainder of the supply is sent on to Quebec refineries through Line 9, where it provides 40 to 50 per cent of that province’s fuel supply.  

WATCH | Hillman on the significance of Line 5:

Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman tells David Common on Power & Politics that operation of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline should continue despite the Michigan government’s push to have it shut down by May 12. 3:07

The threat to the pipeline’s viability kicked off in November when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked the 1953 easement — which has allowed the pipeline to operate without incident for more than 65 years — over fears of an oil spill.

Enbridge was granted approval to replace the underwater line with a tunnel, but Whitmer’s election in 2019 put a stop to those plans.

The notification that the easement was being withdrawn said the pipeline should be shut down by May 12, prompting concerns on both sides of the border that shortages of essential fuels would follow. 

“One of the governor’s top priorities is to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to Michigan’s economy. The Great Lakes … 350,000 jobs in Michigan. We cannot risk the devastating economic, environmental and public health impacts of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes,” said Whitmer’s spokesperson Chelsea Lewis-Parisio.

Enbridge took Michigan to U.S. federal court over the dispute and both parties were ordered to find a resolution through mediation last month.

Hillman says finding a compromise between Enbridge and the state of Michigan is the only way the impasse will be resolved. She said she remains optimistic that, despite the firm date in the notice, the oil will continue to flow, at least in the short term.  

“We understand from the advice that we have received that there’s a good chance that the pipeline … will continue operating during the course of the litigation and mediation,” she told guest host David Common.

(Enbridge)

Fuel for Pearson

All the jet fuel produced at Pearson International Airport in Toronto is made with crude supplied by the pipeline. Enbridge, which owns Line 5, says that Ontario’s fuel supply would be cut in half if the pipeline is shut down. But its closure would not only affect Quebec and Ontario.

Enbridge says shutting down the pipeline would also harm Michigan, which gets 55 per cent of its propane needs from the more than 540,000 barrels of light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids that travel through Line 5 before being refined into propane in the state.

Enbridge senior vice president Mike Fernandez said that he’s also confident the pipeline will continue to operate beyond May 12, but the passing of the deadline will likely prompt protests from anti-pipeline activists. 

“The reason I say that is because the matter right now is situated in a U.S. federal district court that has prompted both parties, that is the state and Enbridge, to work through a mediator,” Fernandez told Common. 

“If the state took actions, they would be acting outside the standard of good faith that’s normally required in such mediation.”

WATCH | Fernandez on the May 12 deadline:

Enbridge Senior Vice President Mike Fernandez tells David Common on Power & Politics that he doesn’t expect the Michigan government to act to shut down the Line 5 pipeline on May 12. 2:24

The Conservative Opposition has been harshly critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, saying its inaction on the energy file will result in the pipeline being shut down. 

The Tories blamed the killing of another pipeline, Keystone XL, by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, as evidence the Trudeau government did not fight hard enough to keep it alive.

The party were granted an emergency debate in the House of Commons to discuss the issue, which is taking place tonight. 

“Line 5 is not a new project, it is not a diversification, it is a line that has been a consistent and critical supply for Canada for decades,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in the House. “Now because of the inaction on behalf of the Liberal government this critical piece of energy infrastructure is at risk.”

Green MP Elizabeth May told O’Toole that the people of Michigan were keen to shut down Line 5 because of the Kalamazoo River oil spill in July 2010, when an Enbridge pipeline burst. 

“This is about pipeline pollution … we need to find an alternative to get those goods to market and allow the government of Michigan to keep a campaign promise to protect the Great Lakes,” May said.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan dismissed the Conservative attacks, saying accusations that the Liberals failed to act and are willing to let the pipeline die are totally false. 

“You can’t solve this issue with false bravado, by beating your chest while simultaneously sticking your head in the sand like members so often do, by calling people who disagree with you ‘brain dead,'” O’Regan said referencing the insult levied against Michigan’s governor by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

“That bombastic approach does a great disservice to our oil and gas workers and it does nothing to advance their cause.”

You can watch full episodes of Power & Politics on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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Federal government to reveal plans for building long overdue heavy icebreaker


The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery on Thursday and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The announcement has been highly anticipated by shipyards in Vancouver and Quebec that have been fighting tooth and nail for the coveted contract since it was taken from the Vancouver yard nearly two years ago.

First announced by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in 2008 and awarded to Seaspan Shipyards in October 2011, the CCGS John G. Diefenbaker was one of seven ships to be built by the Vancouver shipyard through Ottawa’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan.

The plan at the time was for the entire deal, valued at $8 billion for all seven ships, to usher in a new era of stability and prosperity for shipbuilding on Canada’s West Coast while delivering much-needed vessels for the coast guard and navy.

The Diefenbaker was arguably the crown jewel of the package. Originally budgeted at $721 million, the polar icebreaker was supposed to be delivered by 2017 and replace the coast guard’s flagship, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.

But scheduling conflicts, technical problems and other issues scuttled the timeline and budget — which was increased to $1.3 billion in 2013 and is now under review again — before the Trudeau government quietly lifted the ship from Seaspan’s order book in August 2019.

Fierce competition

The government has not provided much of an explanation for why it took the Diefenbaker away from Seaspan, substituting in 16 smaller vessels that the Vancouver shipyard argues were already promised to it by the previous Conservative government.

Ottawa has only said it wants to make sure the icebreaker is built “in the most efficient manner,” noting the increasing age of the coast guard’s entire icebreaker fleet.

Seaspan has said it is determined to win the work back.

Ottawa asked shipyards in March to explain how and why they should get the contract. Seaspan and Quebec rival Chantier Davie, which lost out of the competition that saw Seaspan get the Diefenbaker in 2011, were among the respondents.

Davie is considered Seaspan’s chief competitor for the Diefenbaker. After losing out of the competition for work in 2011, the rival yard has since charged back and is now in line to build six medium icebreakers for the coast guard.

The Quebec company insists it — not Seaspan — is best placed to build the Diefenbaker, particularly given it is already in line to build the other six icebreakers.

The two have since engaged in a fierce lobbying campaign to win the deal.

Davie launched a campaign to brand itself Canada’s National Icebreaker Centre while Seaspan has teamed up with several companies across Canada to tout the jobs that would be created in different communities if it was awarded the contract.

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Juice jacking: GTA duo arrested for stealing 2000 cases of juice, Toronto police said


Toronto police have charged a Thornhill man and a Toronto woman with stealing a tractor trailer full of thousands of cases of juice bottles, among other items.

Police launched an investigation after a tractor trailer full of goods worth more than $243,000 was stolen in the Steeles Avenue East and Highway 410 area on Sunday, police said.

Officers have since recovered the tractor trailer, including 2,000 cases of bottled juice, more than 100 washing machines, over 800 boxes of motor oil, among other items, at a warehouse in the Steeles Avenue West and Fenmar Drive area in Brampton.

Toronto police have charged 32-year-old Ariel Kaplan of Thornhill and 43-year-old Lana Roseman of Toronto with possession of property obtained by crime exceeding $5,000.

Both of them are scheduled to appear in court on June 8.



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Lockdown protesters are undermining their own objective: PM Trudeau


OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling out people gathering in large groups to protest public health restrictions, suggesting their demonstrations are having the opposite effect.

“These protests are supposed to be about getting back to normal, but by spreading the virus, they do just the opposite and prolong lockdowns,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

He thanked Canadians who are heeding restrictions, suggesting they’re not only motivated to see society to return to some semblance of normality, but they also understand it comes down to respect.

“The reason so many Canadians are following public health measures isn’t just because they want to get back to normal, it’s because they care about their neighbours and our frontline workers,” he said. “Do it because you respect your fellow Canadians.”

Thousands gathered in Bowden, Alta. for a two-day “No More Lockdowns’” rodeo over the weekend. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemned the event and the rodeo-goers, stating it was not only a threat to public health but a “slap in the face” to anyone following the rules.

Alberta has the highest number of COVID-19 infections per capita within Canada and the U.S.

According to CTVNews.ca’s tracker, there have been an average of 440.5 daily cases per million people in the last seven days, more than any other province or territory in Canada as well as every U.S. state. Cases had been trending upward since March and continue to climb.

Trudeau said the federal government continues to offer support to Alberta, as they’ve done with other provinces facing a surging third wave.

With a file from CTV News’ Tom Yun.

More to come…



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Junior hockey coach in custody, charged with sexual assault


A veteran junior hockey coach has been charged with sexual assault and assault in Saskatchewan, CBC News has learned, following a complaint from a former player. 

Bernie Lynch, who has coached across Canada, the U.S. and Europe for more than four decades, turned himself in to police in Devon, Alta., over the weekend after the Regina Police Service issued a warrant for his arrest on April 30. He faces one count each of sexual assault and assault, dating back to August 1988. The complainant was 17 at the time.

The Regina Police Service confirmed that the 66-year-old remains in custody and will be transferred to Regina as part of its ongoing investigation.  

Lynch is also the subject of another police investigation in Edson, Alta., where he coached the Junior A Aeros in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. A recent CBC News investigation detailed allegations of abusive behaviour made by parents and players, and concerns over a close and possibly inappropriate relationship with a player. 

In previous communications with CBC News, Lynch has said he is “shocked” by all of the allegations “that have surfaced over the past months,” describing them as a “smear campaign.” 

In March, CBC News reported that Lynch had been suspended from his job in Ontario coaching the Junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the cross-border Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL), shortly after New Year’s for sending what the team called “inappropriate” texts and emails to one of his players. 

‘Kind of weird’

The player told CBC News that Lynch sought to monitor and control his behaviour, sending up to 50 unsolicited and unwanted messages in a single day. 

“He would get mad if I didn’t text him back right away,” said the 20-year-old player. “He would get mad even after games — like, we’d end at nine or 10 and I’d want to go hang out with my teammates.”

CBC News granted his request for confidentiality because of concerns that he would face repercussions in the hockey world. 

“He’d always be like, ‘Why don’t you just come hang out with me?’ Like, ‘We’ll have fun and watch a movie,'” he said. “Kind of weird.”

Some of the messages sent from Lynch’s phone were supportive. Others sounded romantic. 

“The last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night and the first thing I think of when I wake up is you … Always your friend and passionately missing you. Thank you and I love you,” one read.

The Lakers fired Lynch on March 9, just days after that report.

The Regina charges follow the recent reopening of a long-dormant investigation. 

According to a civil court action that Lynch launched in 2000, Saskatchewan RCMP began investigating him in 1997, after receiving an anonymous tip Lynch had had “inappropriate and sexual involvement” with a player almost a decade earlier. 

Suspended from coaching

A parallel investigation was launched by the Regina Police Service that fall, and later expanded to examine allegations about Lynch’s conduct while he was coach of the Regina Pat Canadians, a AAA Midget under-18 team, during the 1997-98 season. 

No charges were laid at the time, but Hockey Regina, the local governing body, suspended Lynch from coaching for more than three years. He was reinstated after his 2000 civil suit, under the proviso that he wasn’t allowed to be alone with the players.

WATCH | Coach charged following complaint from a young player:

Longtime junior hockey coach Bernie Lynch is in custody and has been charged with sexual assault and assault in Saskatchewan following complaints from a player dating back to 1988. 2:04

Lynch, who previously held high-profile jobs with the Humboldt Broncos and Regina Pats, returned to professional coaching in 2005, taking a job with the Minot State University Beavers in North Dakota.

Starting in 2007, Lynch spent the better part of a decade coaching youth teams in Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

The Swedish newspaper Expressen recently published an article about the veteran coach’s time behind the bench for a team in Huddinge, a Stockholm suburb, a tenure that ended with controversy and complaints in 2014.

Lynch was dismissed after receiving a lengthy suspension for threatening a referee. But one parent told the paper that there were other factors at play, including bullying behaviour and unwanted and inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old player.

“I discovered that Bernie had started texting my son in the evenings,” the mother, whose identity is being shielded by Expressen, told the newspaper. “I reacted immediately and asked why the coach was writing to him. Finally, I took his phone and checked the history. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

One message, in particular, raised concerns. 

“Answer your phone … Pump runking,” Lynch wrote, misspelling a Swedish word for masturbation. “I can hear you all the way over here … Give it a rest.”

The paper said it reached out to Lynch about the allegations but that he did not respond.

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Laurentian University gets judge’s approval to continue restructuring


Insolvent Laurentian University has cleared a critical obstacle to move forward on its plan for eventual financial stability after a judge on Sunday agreed to the terms of a stay that would protect the university from its creditors until Aug. 31.

Justice Geoffrey Morawetz of Ontario Superior Court has agreed to allow the university to cut ties with three federated universities, which will qualify Laurentian for a $10-million loan that will allow it to operate while it looks at further ways to reduce its debt.

While Laurentian moves forward, it comes at the expense of Laurentian’s federated partners: University of Sudbury, Thorneloe and Huntington.

In his decision Sunday, Morawetz said he will give reasons for overruling the court challenges from Thorneloe and the University of Sudbury when they can be translated into French as well. Huntington had not opposed the termination of its agreement in court.

The three religiously-affiliated schools, unable to access public funding on their own, came together in the 1960’s to create Laurentian University, which has now grown into a much larger entity.

Agreements now in question

Each federated partner struck their own agreement with Laurentian in order to retain their significant programming that included francophone cultural programming and the first Indigenous Studies program in Canada, but they didn’t confer degrees of their own.

Those agreements, and now faculty and programming, are in question without the framework agreements with Laurentian that allowed them to operate.

The largest university in northern Ontario was declared insolvent February 1st and became the first post secondary institution in Canada to enter restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act legislation, normally reserved for the private sector.

Since that time, unprecedented steps have been taken to reduce its debt load including cutting dozens of programs, more than 100 faculty members, and dozens of staff and managers, including the Vice President of Administration.

New labour agreements were signed with the faculty and staff unions including rollbacks in salary. Those in key leadership positions also saw a percentage of their salary rolled back.

Those steps were taken in an effort to meet restructuring goals by April 30.

Laurentian went to court seeking approval of all the elements of its restructuring plan, including the dissolution of ties with the federated partners.

In an April 29 hearing, Laurentian’s lawyer, D.J. Miller told Morawetz that if the agreements were not dissolved, Laurentian would fail. As a result, she argued, the federated universities would also fail.

Miller said Laurentian needs to retain the $7.7 million in grants and funding that would normally be disbursed to the federated partners to reassure its lender going forward and qualify for another $10 million loan to keep it operating until the end of August.

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Two more Louis Riel Division schools move to remote learning as superintendent shows concern


The superintendent of Louis Riel School Division worries in-class learning may be unsustainable as the third wave of COVID-19 continues to push more schools into remote learning.

College Jeanne-Sauve and Lavallee School will go remote starting Monday, making it three schools in the division now learning from home.

Ecole Marie-Anne Gaboury moved to remote learning on April 26.

“I have concern for the impact the third wave is having on our education system,” LRSD superintendent Christian Michalik said in a letter sent to families.

“The growing proportion of students learning from home due to self-isolation requirements while still having students learning in brick-and-mortar classrooms may become unsustainable.”

Michalik says the decision to move the two additional schools to remote learning is not only because of growing case numbers, but the number of families opting to keep their kids home and the growing inability to fill the increasing number of staff absences.

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READ MORE: Winnipeg school moving to remote learning for two weeks

He said on Friday, there were 428 staff absences across the division with 111 of those unfilled.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) put out a call Thursday for all schools to be moved to the red, or critical, level on the province’s Pandemic Response System.

Premier Brian Pallister says the province is doing everything it can to keep kids in school.

“For many people, they need the structure of a classroom and they need direct contact with an educator or a teacher,” said Pallister Thursday. “When we talk about a circuit-breaker, I can’t help but think that break might be the break in the relationship between a teacher and a student, and we don’t want that to happen.”

The latest numbers on the province’s dashboard shows there have been 416 cases in Manitoba schools in the last two weeks, with 171 of those being variant of concern cases.


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St. Vital school outbreak


St. Vital school outbreak

 






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Coronavirus: How to socialize for the first time again after a year of isolation


I’ve been wanting to take my friend to my favourite tea shop for what seems like forever. Ever since we had to switch from having our tea in person to sipping over video calls during the pandemic, I’ve been looking forward to having a reunion at “Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party.”

It has been a tough year for both of us. I’m trying to stay optimistic that we can find a way to celebrate and that the reunion isn’t just a solemn reminder of all the in-person tea outings we’ve missed out on.

I’m hoping she likes the place, since she’s never been before. While she loves fruity herbal teas and I’m more a fan of black teas, I know we’ll each be able to find something we like within the book-lined walls.

If we want to sit outdoors, I know there is a space at the back of the shop, but there isn’t room for many people if we are social distancing. I’ve always ordered one pot of tea for two people and shared — is sharing even an option anymore?

Although we’ll both be fully vaccinated by the time we get together, I haven’t felt free to enjoy myself in public without the fear of contributing to the spread of the virus since the pandemic began. I can’t begin to imagine what it will feel like — simply to get tea with an old friend.

I know I’m not the only one anxious about re-entering the world once I’m fully vaccinated. That’s why I called Jane Webber, an assistant professor of counselor education and doctoral program coordinator at Kean University in New Jersey. While it may be challenging, Webber said there are ways you can prepare yourself as you reemerge into the world as a social being.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

CNN: Is it normal to be nervous about socializing right now?

Jane Webber: Yes, it’s normal, because what we’ve just gone through is a completely abnormal situation. Pandemics are like something from another world, and it’s not of any value to us to worry about whether it’s normal. We just have to say, “Today is today and tomorrow is another day.”

When we going through such an abnormal experience for so long, we forget what we know naturally as human beings — that people do reach out, help each other and say hello.

Like any traumatic event, which we’ve been living every day, it’s scary to step out and say, “Am I safe? Do I want to do this? Do I have the courage to go back to socializing?”

CNN: Where should we go for our first outings?

Webber: The first thing I thought is: Where would I like to go? And, for me, there is a wonderful restaurant just a few blocks from me that sells raw oysters. I am comfortable there. I know the staff. I know the location. I know where the exit is. I know where the ladies’ room is. And boy, do I love oysters. I’d go with safety and comfort, because that tells me it’s OK.

For someone else, they can dive into new experiences, but it’s probably not the time for me to do that.

CNN: Who are the best people to reach out to?

Webber: Reconnect with the people you know first — because you already have that sense of friendship. We might have to say: “Do I really want to do a blind date? Do I really want to join a new club? Or shall I start safely?” And sometimes, safety helps us build our confidence for going a step further.

Isolation is hard. What happens if you don’t have someone you can meet up with? Try finding a small support group, like people who all want to speak Italian. It may even be less anxiety inducing for you to meet a new group of people with a common interest.

Seeing other people, even if you’re technically alone, is still worthwhile. I have gone for the special on the raw oysters and sat alone, even though it took a great deal of courage to get out there by myself.

CNN: What do we do if we experience anxiety during a conversation?

Webber: It’s that sudden stillness where you don’t know what to do and suddenly: “Oh my God, what am I doing here? This is terrible.”

Take a very quiet, deep breath in saying, “bring the calm in” and a deep breath out saying, “send my anxiety out.” And just thinking of that — not saying it out loud, because it definitely would be very strange — brings your anxiety down.

My other secret is “tapping.” I just tap my feet, one at a time, and my anxiety drops completely.

CNN: What topics are our safest bets to discuss?

Webber: I probably would avoid anything to do with the pandemic, except “I hope it’s almost over.” Break out into the things you used to talk about, and think of a few things to discuss before you get there, too.

For many of us, we may not have kept up with this person, or we haven’t seen them for a long time. We may wonder, what did they do during the time that passed? How have they changed?

Now it might take some thinking from a year or so ago, but you will probably remember something you really enjoyed about them or a positive memory you shared with them.

CNN: What if a topic comes up that you aren’t ready to talk about?

Webber: Especially after surviving a whole year of really difficult things, I’d just say, “Let’s not do that today. Let’s talk about something else.” But make sure you have something else ready to talk about. And if they continue, maybe this just isn’t the person you should be with right now.

CNN: Why should we go out into the world again?

Webber: Because we want to, because we are human beings who thrive only with social connections, and because our life is full and fresh when we’re with other people. Isolation was not in any way fun; we survived it, but we still don’t feel human. It’s just scary to take that first step.

I’m grateful for the people in my life, even if we haven’t reconnected in so long and I’m a little embarrassed about how that’s going to go. When I finally see them, I’m going to take a breath; I’m going to smile and I’m going say “Glad to see you again.”



Thanks for dropping by and seeing this post about International and Canadian Political updates titled “Coronavirus: How to socialize for the first time again after a year of isolation”. This article was presented by MyLocalPages as part of our national news services.

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