My computer up and died this weekend, which necessitated a frantic trip to the Apple store to buy a new one, and then all the hassle of uploading and updating everything again. So it goes. I’ve had a fatalism about pretty much everything lately, including computer equipment, my lower back, and the continued existence of the human species.

But the Halifax Examiner soldiers on. With your help, the Examiner will power through computer problems, back problems, and mass extinction.

So, please subscribe. Thanks so much!


News

1. Houston’s apology

After he said that minimum wage jobs aren’t “real jobs,” Premier Tim Houston “wisely if indelicately quickly pirouetted, doing what he has become so adept at in his short time as premier — apologizing, walking back, making his own redemptive pilgrimage to the Twitter confessional,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Tim Houston was right to apologize for denigrating Nova Scotia’s minimum wage workers last week.

But if he really wants to demonstrate his “greatest respect for the workers of NS, especially those making minimum wage,” his government would take real action to ensure that our minimum wage is actually a living wage.

Click here to read “Latest apology accepted, Tim Houston. Now…”

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2. COVID

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID briefing, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

“The increased case numbers we are seeing are from several clusters of cases, primarily in the Northern and Western zones related to several faith groups that participated recently in a single multi-day event,” explained Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at Friday’s COVID briefing.

“And we are now seeing further spread within each of these faith group communities. The majority of the cases involved people who have remained unvaccinated. Fortunately, at this time, there is no indication of spread beyond these communities.”

I’m aware that there is a cluster of new cases in the Mennonite community in Waterville.

“There is also a cluster of cases in Central Zone related to a separate faith community that involves mostly children who are not yet able to be vaccinated,” said Strang.

Over the past week or so there have been multiple potential COVID exposure advisories issued for the Islamic Centre in Bedford.

In more hopeful news, Strang said he is anticipating that children aged 5 to 11 will be approved for vaccination in early December. In Nova Scotia, those children will get vaccinated through the existing pharmacy-based program, as it’s up and running and working effectively, he said.

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From Halifax Examiner subscribers:

Mary Lu Roffey Redden

I began to realize, during the early part of the pandemic, that Tim Bousquet was offering insight and analysis into the daily reports coming from Nova Scotia Health that were very helpful to me. So I decided to subscribe to The Examiner to have access to their great local reporting.

Certain writers stand out for me: Stephen Kimber and his sharp-eyed look at municipal and provincial politics and Suzanne Rent with both her compassionate reporting on the housing crisis and her wonderful rants about “Bullshit and Bafflegab,” which I hope will become a series. I am glad to be a subscriber to the Examiner.

Lil MacPherson

The ever-stylish Lil MacPherson, President Co/owner of The Wooden Monkey. Screenshot from CTV News Atlantic.

I decided to subscribe to the Halifax Examiner after reading so many articles of interest. I honestly found that reading the Examiner was the best way, (and only way) to get the full story on the issues I really cared about. Gold mining, Clear cutting, glyphosate, just to name a few. The depth of the reporting is so impressive compared to the surface information that we all receive from the regular local news.

As an avid Examiner reader, I have a suggestion or maybe even a challenge. In light of the Climate Emergency we’re in and the COP26 in Glasgow I’d love to see the Examiner investigate one of the biggest Climate Change solutions we have on this planet. Carbon Farming! Bringing to light the huge role that small-scale Regenerative Farming can play in cooling down our planet by sequester carbon out of the atmosphere. It’s a game changer and I would love to see you tackle this issue. Thank you, Examiner and your amazing writers, for all your hard work for giving me the best journalism in NS from municipal to provincial. You Rock!


3. Cornwallis Street

Cornwallis Street. Photo: Tim Bousquet

“A Halifax heritage preservation group wants the Halifax Regional Municipality to keep Edward Cornwallis’s name on a Halifax street,” reports Saltwire:

…the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society takes issue with the renaming campaign. Society chairman Leo Deveau called the recommendations “one-sided and biased” in a news release Friday.

“The uncompromising tone and wording of the number one recommendation, ‘that the statue of Edward Cornwallis not be returned, under any circumstances, to a position of public commemoration,’ set the stage to banish the Cornwallis name on civic assets such as streets,” said Deveau.

Anyone who doesn’t do exactly what we want is uncompromising.

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4. Bluenose

“The Blue Nose Marathon made a triumphant return to the streets of Halifax on Sunday after going virtual in 2020 because of the pandemic,” reports Vernon Ramesar for the CBC:

Halifax runner Dennis Mbelenzi was the first person to cross the finish line in a time of 2:29:12, well ahead of second-place finisher Mark Brown of Porters Lake with a time of 2:44:01.

Quinlan Hickey, 26, from Toronto was the first woman to cross the finish line in a time of 3:02:48, a personal best.


Views

Some COVID deniers are also flat-earthers

A house near Dallas, Texas has yard signs reading “COVID SCAM” and “REFUSE THE MASK.” Signs on the house read “SCIENTIFICALLY EARTH IS FLAT & MOTIONLESS” and “SEA LEVEL IS LEVEL.” Photo: Morgan Davis Gieringer, University of North Texas Digital Library

For those readers completely out of the loop, Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers NFL team. He recently tested positive for COVID so wasn’t allowed to play in yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs (the Chiefs won). Rodgers refused to get vaccinated.

Reports the Guardian:

Speaking on SiriusXM’s Pat McAfee Show, Rodgers said: “I’m not an anti-vax, flat-earther. I have an allergy to an ingredient that’s in the mRNA vaccines. I found a long-term immunization protocol to protect myself and I’m very proud of the research that went into that.”

Well, he is in fact anti-vax, as he repeated one of the many false claims of anti-vaxxers:

Rodgers told McAfee he has concerns about potential fertility issues had he taken one of the vaccinations.

But what struck me most about Rodger’s statement was the “flat-earther” comment, which despite his denials reads to me like a tell.

In fact, a not inconsiderable number of COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers are also flat-earthers.

“Mak Parhar, the New Westminster man who gained online notoriety for his belief the Earth is flat and outspoken denial that COVID-19 exists, has died,” reported Global on Friday. “In a recent livestreamed video, Parhar reported feeling ill with a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, chills and a cough, which he said was ‘not CONVID (sic) because CONVID (sic) doesn’t exist.’”

Last February, Business Insider reported that “a Wisconsin pharmacist who deliberately sabotaged 57 vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine told a colleague that the Earth is flat and that the sky is a ‘shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God,’ according to court documents.”

Last year, alt rocker Stephen Carpenter outed himself as a flat-earther and anti-vaxxer.

Before the pandemic, in 2017, Sports Illustrated reported Aaron Brandywine explored flat-earth believers in the NBA, who include Kyrie Irving and Wilson Chandler. So, the flat-earth belief is broader than I had known.

When the pandemic hit, many flat-earthers became COVID deniers, writes Danny Faulkner, a Christian and astronomer:

Some flat-earthers readily accepted the two most common conspiracy theories about COVID-19 making the rounds. One of those two theories is that the entire thing is a hoax, with no one really getting sick from a new illness. The other common conspiracy theory is that people are getting sick, but the illness is not caused by a coronavirus but by 5G networks, which recently began rollout around the world. Some flat-earthers have managed to combine these two conspiracy theories into one, with the conspiracy being the coverup and blame shifting so that the masses don’t demand the dismantling of 5G networks. Why are the 5G networks so important to THE conspiracy? Why, 5G must be essential to further expand government control. This is ironic because, since the flat-earth movement has been a phenomenon almost entirely driven by the internet, the expansion of 5G will facilitate the promulgation of flat-earth nonsense.

A more serious aspect of this embrace of COVID-19 conspiracy theories is that some flat-earthers deny the germ theory of disease. They argue that viruses don’t cause disease at all. They also claim that viruses are not living, which, by the way, some biologists agree with. However, these flat-earthers (and other conspiracy theorists) argue something very different from what the biologists who think viruses aren’t living believe. These flat-earthers claim that viruses are molecules that our cells produce and shed in battling infections and repairing damage. In this scenario, the COVID-19 virus supposedly is produced by human cells as they overcome damage due to 5G. This puts a positive spin on COVID-19, and the coincidence of exposure to the virus and illness is quite different from what is generally thought. I’ve seen one flat-earther on a video proclaiming this truth to people, telling them that he’s researched it. Of course, this implies that the flat-earther knows what he is talking about, because who can argue with someone who has researched a subject? But what does that “research” involve? If you think it involves a lab, test tubes, and the sort, you’d be wrong. His research amounts to watching YouTube videos of people who know even less than he does (yeah, I know that’s hard to believe). In short, all those brilliant scientists, such as Louis Pasteur, who pioneered the germ theory of disease were clueless. Why is this dangerous? Because it fosters an attitude of not taking COVID-19 seriously, which in turn can lead impressionable people to do things that could needlessly expose themselves and others to COVID-19. Unlike the notion the earth is flat, this thinking can kill people.

I don’t know what to make of all this.

People have known the Earth is round for thousands of years. Around the year 240 B.C., the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes even arrived at a pretty good estimate for the size of the Earth. Through the Medieval period, learned people in Europe understood that the Earth was round — it’s a myth that Columbus was going against received wisdom by trying to prove the Earth was round. Rather, he under-estimated the size of the planet, and so thought a trip westward from Europe to Asia was practical; it wasn’t, but he happened upon some islands off the American continent at about the distance he thought he’d find China, and the rest is the sordid history we all know about now.

The level of conspiracy needed to perpetuate a round Earth hoax would be, well, something. The science is inarguable. People sail their own boats around the world. Ships and airplanes, with people on them, circumnavigate. Satellites orbit the planet. Photos are taken. To think this is all some scam (to what end?) reflects an astonishing distrust of everything.

As I say, I despair.

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Noticed

A Steller’s sea eagle (but not the one that has bird-watchers swarming). Photo: Christoph Moning, Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

“Geographically speaking, it would be almost impossible for this bird to get any more lost,” reports Marion Renault for the New York Times:

A rogue eagle popped up on Wednesday in eastern Canada — about 4,700 miles away from home. For months, the Steller’s sea eagle has been tantalizing North American birders with its odd eastward trek.

“It’s almost as far away from your origin as you can be,” said Andrew Farnsworth, a senior researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “It’s mind-boggling.”

Steller’s sea eagles are rare arctic birds with bright orange beaks and a 6- to 8-foot wingspan, which means they can outsize bald eagles. Their native range is typically China, Japan and Korea and the east coast of Russia. While some have flown as far east as western Alaska, none have ever been known to appear near the Atlantic Ocean.

Since it was first spotted on Alaska’s Denali highway last August, the bird has slowly wandered further inland. It was identified in Quebec and New Brunswick in July by a distinctive white spot on its left wing. After several months of evading human notice, it reappeared in Nova Scotia this week.

Phil Taylor, a biologist at Acadia University, spotted the eagle while scanning ducks on Wednesday afternoon in Falmouth, Nova Scotia.

What’s next for the lone, pioneering Steller’s sea eagle? It could migrate along with native bald eagles down the coastline. It could find its way back to northeastern Asia. It could stick around Nova Scotia, as it is well adapted to the cold and seems able to survive there. It could die, out of range of its original flock.

“It’s like an avian soap opera,” [Alexander Lees, a biodiversity researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University in England] said. “We’re all rooting for it. Will it make it home? Or is it doomed to never see another species of its own in its lifetime?”

Its Asian buddies must have really pissed this bird off.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — also livestreamed

Province

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Mother’s milk and baby’s bacteria: How breastfeeding shapes the infant microbiome and child health (Monday, 2:30pm, Theatre A, Tupper Building) — Meghan Azad from the University of Manitoba will talk


In the harbour

Halifax
01:00: AlgoCanada, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for TK
01:30: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Hamburg, Germany
05:30: Siem Plato, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
15:30: Siem Plato sails for sea
16:30: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for West Palm Beach, Florida

Cape Breton
06:00: Lambert Spirit, barge, arrives at Sydport from Cap-aux-Meules (Magdalen Islands)
14:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York


Footnotes

I dislike time changes. We should pick one time — Daylight Saving or Standard, I don’t care which — and stick to it. Alternatively, we could make the changes slowly — three minutes a week for 20 weeks — so as to not overly disrupt the circadian rhythm.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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9 Comments

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  1. The real story of Columbus’ voyages and what the level of actual knowledge of North America was among the European elite is a fascinating question that we’ll never know the answer to. As you say, the Greeks knew how big the Earth was – so why didn’t Columbus and other European elites of his time know? Going west from Spain, the Americas are less than halfway to China or India. It’s not a small mistake.

  2. I was born on Bauer street 61 years ago That sign brings back a lot of memories.
    I was a wanderer as a young child and ended up being taken to the local police station by the kindness of strangers more than once when I couldn’t find my way back home.
    I even remember wandering over to the commons and seeing an elephant being taken into circus tent. Does anyone else remember a Circus on the Commons?

    1. If it was before 1962, that elephant might have been Shirley who was one of the surviving animals from the Circus Ship (Fleurus) fire in Yarmouth in 1962. Shirley was a frequent visitor before that. She was rescued and lived until the ripe old age of 72 in a rescue sanctuary in February 2020.

  3. “Anyone who doesn’t do exactly what we want is uncompromising.” That’s a low blow Tim. That isn’t the thrust of the concern being expressed by the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society (HMHPS).

    Did you read further, or notice the statement as expressed by members of HMHPS and those HRM residents concerned about the complete erasure of an important historical figure (Cornwallis) in the founding, naming and establishment of the British settlement, namely: “Reconciliation is not about diminishing/denigrating one group or individual to advance the interests of another.”

    Best regards,
    Leo

    1. Hitler is directly responsible for the deaths of at least 6 million Jews and at least 20 million more people in Russia and Europe in World War II. He also had the Autobahn finished. Should there be a statue to him in the Roadbuilders Hall of Fame?

      1. Well said Skip! There should be no reconciliation with the likes of Cornwallis. The reconciliation is what white people have to do with the groups we oppressed and continue to oppress because they were/are not white. Reconciliation is not what Indigenous peoples have to do for racist murderers.

    2. “Complete Erasure” is not the goal. It’s just taking prominence away from terrible people that did terrible things. Provably terrible people with genocidal tendencies should be left to the footnotes of history and placed into appropriate context, rather than an overinflated context where they are celebrated with street names and statues.

      Germans have no need to have a “Hitler Avenue” just as Haligonians have no need for Cornwallis street. It’s part of their history. It’s not erased but it is not celebrated with street names and statues.

      There’s enough good people in the history of Halifax to celebrate with streets and statues etc that the terrible ones can be taken out of their current prominence. Societies can and should evolve who and what they celebrate/elevate over time.

      If there is a binary choice of causing trauma to a marginalized people by elevating Cornwallis or NOT doing that, why on earth would you chose trigger/cause that trauma? You could take simple actions to help with healing. Whatever effort you are putting into preserving and re-inflicting trauma you could be researching appropriate and better better people in the history of Halifax celebrate. Heck, you could even be championing the idea of replacing cornwallis street with that of an important Mi’kmaq person.|

      The first part of Truth and reconciliation is recognizing the Truth that we are colonizers on unceded land, that we are currently oppressing native people through an apartheid system and that it is morally wrong and needs to change. After we recognize that then we can take actions to decolonize the systems that support that oppression.

      That street sign is oppression. It’s colonization. It’s trauma inducing. We can easily change that or get in the way of that change.

      “We’re teaching young people who we hold up. You would never, not once, not ever expect a person who had been abused to go into a building named after their abuser, to have a statue or a likeness of that abuser being held up in reverence … it’s an insult and it’s traumatizing.” Niigaan Sinclair

  4. I despair for humanity when I see the flat earthers and their ilk. Everyone with a functioning brain and a cat knows that the earth is not flat–if it was, cats would have pushed everything off it by now.