News

1. Eating disorders in the pandemic

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Disordered eating is up during the pandemic. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Eating Disorders Nova Scotia says demand for its services is up 400% since the start of the pandemic. So the organization is rolling out a new service: nutritional counselling with a dietitian specializing in eating disorders. The service will be available throughout the province, and is offered at a sliding scale to make it accessible, Yvette d’Entremont reports.

Eating Disorders Nova Scotia executive director Shaleen Jones tells d’Entremont the new service is a direct response to a need identified by clients:

This past summer, EDNS staff asked people who use their services how the organization could better support them. Jones said there was an overwhelming demand for increased access to therapists and dieticians who understood eating disorders and the impact of weight stigma.

There was also a request that those people have expertise to support those in recovery. In addition to the nutritional counselling they’re now offering, Jones is hopeful they’ll be able to launch a similar pilot project with a counsellor in the near future.

“I am so excited by this program…This is like a missing piece of the puzzle for us,” Jones said.

d”Entremont notes that many people with eating disorders do not get help or treatment.

Jones said national estimates suggest only one in 10 people impacted by an eating disorder reached out for help and received specialized treatment during the pandemic. She believes the global spike in eating disorders caused by COVID-19 has served to further highlight the fact that available mental health resources are disproportionate to the prevalence and severity of the illness.

In an October 2020 article published by the University of Western Ontario, pandemic-related quarantines, lockdowns, and physical distancing were described as a “recipe for disaster” for the onset — and relapse — of eating disorders.

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2. Dead in the water, again

Happier days for The Cat.

For the third year in a row, the Yarmouth-Maine ferry will not sail. I was going to say the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry, but in this iteration of the service, we haven’t actually seen any service to Bar Harbor yet.

Jennifer Henderson reports that yesterday the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation Renewal announced the ferry’s cancellation for 2021.

While it’s true the government has a contract with the ferry operator, Henderson notes the province does have a clause allowing it to pull out. At what cost? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Henderson writes:

There are many unanswered questions about whether this service is worth keeping or a waste of public money. There is a clause in the 10-year contract between the province and Bay Ferries that would allow the government to bail right now. The penalty or the cost is unknown because the McNeil government refuses to disclose it…

Reporters have been asking since last July what costs were incurred last year when the ship remained docked — $16.3 million had been budgeted but savings on fuel and crew should have made those operating costs much lower. Despite that, in December Hines indicated taxpayers should not expect much of a refund and we have seen no final tally.

In March, about $16 million was budgeted to operate the ferry in 2021; the province now says cancelling the season will “save” money. How much will be saved remains completely opaque.

Read the full story here.

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3. City finally sells Bloomfield site to developer

Bloomfield School. Photo: Hilary Beaumont

Twelve years after the Bloomfield Master Plan, nine years after the city said it would sell the site to the province for affordable housing, and six years after the site was decommissioned, leaving various arts groups and non-profits to find new homes, the Bloomfield site has been sold to a developer.

Zane Woodford writes:

Banc Investments Ltd. now owns the property. The sale closed last Wednesday, Jan. 27 for a price of $21,973,500, according to Property Valuation Services Corporation.

Woodford talks to developer Alex Halef, who co-owns Banc Investments with his father, Besim Halef. The company is responsible for other developments in the North End, which Alex Halef says will be “unrecognizable” in a few years. (He means this as a good thing.)

The story gets into the history of the site, the conditions on the sale, including affordable housing and green space, and the questions that remain. Woodford reports that the sale took District 8 councillor Lindell Smith by surprise:

The councillor for the area, Lindell Smith, said he found out about the sale when a reporter from news website allNovaScotia.com called him on Friday. That’s how it’s been throughout the process, with council only voting to direct staff to negotiate a sale.

“My understanding was, when they do those negotiations, that because there are conditions on it, that council would get an understanding of how that would look,” Smith said in an interview.

“But when it comes to real estate, staff have negotiating power and the power to close as well.”

Smith said he hopes to meet with the Halefs to talk about the project, and he’s particularly keen on making sure the conditions are met.

Read the full story here.

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4. Former King’s and Dal prof Wayne Hankey charged with sexual assault

Wayne Hankey. Photo: University of King’s College

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Yesterday, Halifax police issued this press release:

Investigators with the Sexual Assault Investigation Team of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged a man in relation to a historical sexual assault that occurred in Halifax in the 1980s.

Investigators have charged Wayne John Hankey, 76, of Halifax, with one count of sexual assault in relation to an incident against a man that occurred in 1988.

Hankey is scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court at a later date to face the charge.

The incident occurred in student housing on the University of King’s College campus and Hankey was an employee at the university at the time of the incident, which was reported to police in September 2020. We are not releasing any further details out of respect and concern for the victim’s privacy and wellbeing.

Hankey was not just any employee of the university — he was one of three founding directors of the Foundation Year Program, a position he held from 1972-1978, and then after a stint at Oxford University, he returned to King’s as the College Librarian from 1981-93, “during which time I designed and built its new Library,” he says in his biography.

This is the not the first time Hankey has been accused of sexual impropriety. In 1991, a man named David Harris accused Hankey of sexual impropriety for incidents dating from the 1970s, when Harris was a teenager, but that accusation was made before the Anglican Church and was not a criminal complaint, so did not involve police or the provincial courts.

At the time, Hankey was represented by his friend Peter Bryson, who was then with the McInnes Cooper law firm and is now a justice with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. On the other side, one of the Anglican court judges was Gordon Cooper, of the same firm (and a later president of King’s was former MP and McInnes Cooper partner George Cooper).

Even with what we would now consider hopelessly convoluted conflicts of interest, as I understand it, the Anglican court found Harris’s complaint credible, and ordered that Hankey step out of his position for two years and attend counselling, and if he did not, face defrocking. Hankey refused, and instead became a Catholic, so the defrocking threat no longer was an issue.

None of this seemed to much affect Hankey’s standing with King’s, as he continued to lecture at the university, and he became a full professor at Dalhousie in 1996.

After I posted about yesterday’s police release on my Twitter feed, dozens of people responded by saying they had been warned about Hankey, that he had a reputation as someone not to be alone with, and so forth. That of course is hearsay, and would not stand in a court of law, but such accounts are pervasive and cover such a long period of time that one wonders what, if anything, the university did to investigate them.

“Aaron Weldon’s portrait of Dr Hankey, Librarian of King’s College from 1981 to 1993, now hanging in the Reading Room of the Library where it continues to receive universal approbation,” reads a description of the painting, apparently written by Hankey.

We do know this: in 2017, a giant painting of Hankey was installed in the university library, for Hankey’s retirement party. He wrote about the celebrations, as follows:

According to Philo Judaeus, Paradise is the life of pure intellect from which humans fell into divided and dividing reason, the experiential knowledge of good and evil. This interpretation of Genesis was passed on by the Greek Fathers; Eriugena worked out his anthropology on its basis and transmitted it to the Latin West. There could be nothing more appropriate to a celebration of metaphysics than that the entrancing passage from Hayden’s creation, where Adam and Eve walk hand in hand in the freshness of the primal garden, should be performed at its culmination. Musicians, instrumentalists, chorus and soloists, organised by Nick Halley and including his father, Paul, recreated it in the Reading Room of the King’s Library just before Aaron Weldon’s happy portrait of me was unveiled.

The musical passage provided the inspiration for the design of the Library executed by the much regretted Roy Wilwerth and myself. So the first tears were shed when the lone oboe sounded the exquisite melody.

The final tears were shed on Saturday morning when we parted amid demands that Classics form an Alumni association. I delivered heartfelt thanks and said “good-bye” to everyone, promising that I would now retreat into inaccessible seclusion. Within twelve hours I was writing a potential student converted to Classics during our Colloquium and Conference. We now meet weekly to read Plato, Plotinus, and Augustine together. I have been appointed Emeritus Professor of Classics and share my old office with Dr Grundke. I am actively supervising five MA theses at present and, in the Winter Term of 2018, will teach a seminar on Augustine’s Confessions. Classics / Religious Studies 3413 and 5070. On Monday evenings this Fall, beginning on September 11tth at 7pm, I shall read through Charles Williams’ The Descent of the Dove at St George’s Round Church (details under “Talks” on my Academia.edu site).

Update: today, the university sent an email to alumni saying that the painting was removed in October 2020 and returned to Hankey.

The current accusation against Hankey has not been tested in court.

The police release ends as follows:

We encourage anyone who is the victim of sexual assault to contact police. We want victims to know they will not be judged, and will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect throughout the entire investigative process. More information on reporting sexual assaults is available at http://ow.ly/Obdb30rsOSM

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5. COVID-19: getting close to single digits

There are only 10 active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Two people are hospitalized with the illness. One new case was announced yesterday — a close contact of a previous case.

Do we have a clear definition from public health of “close contact”? I realized I’ve assumed this means a family member or roommate, or maybe a co-worker, but I don’t know. Something to look up after this Morning File is published.

Tim Bousquet has all the latest here, including charts of new cases, total caseload, and the latest exposure advisories (in list and map form).

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6. More details on bungling that led to Halifax doctor wrongfully arrested on child pornography charges

The Halifax Regional Police office in Dartmouth in July 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford

At CBC, Jack Julian reports on further details in the story of Dr. David Barnett. Barnett, you may recall, was arrested on child pornography charges and lost his licence to practice. The charges have since been dropped, and the police have said it was a case of mistaken identity.

This is the statement Halifax Regional Police posted on Twitter about the case, on January 26:

My reading of this statement is that the Halifax police received incorrect information. They acted on that information, but it turned out to be wrong. Note that they do not apologize, but “recognize and regret the deeply negative impact of an unfortunate error of this nature.”

But Julian’s story makes clear that the HRP did not just receive false information. They continued to pursue a search warrant despite discrepancies that should have given them pause. Julian says local police “compounded” initial errors made in the US.

Police in North Dakota said they found child pornography shared by one Dustin Barnett, who, Julian writes, had a “gmail address with the name dsbarnett followed by numbers.”

He continues:

The Homeland Security Investigations email included information collected from Google, the company behind the widely-used gmail.com email service.

Inexplicably, police asked Google for information about a different email address. The new email shares elements with Dustin Barnett’s email, but is clearly different.

The new, incorrect Gmail account belonged to David Barnett, the Halifax family doctor. The source of the new email address is not explained. It had no connection to the child pornography investigation, but police in the U.S. and Canada continued to operate like it did.

When Halifax police went to a justice of the peace for a search warrant, they were turned down.

Julian writes:

“I had difficulty interpreting the link between the emails quoted in the Information,” said the justice of the peace, identified by the surname Bowes. “It was not apparent to me the link between the email that uploaded the video and the ‘Recovery email.’ You have explained this to me but it is not in the four corners of this document.”

Undeterred, the police simply went to another justice of the peace later in the day and got their warrant.

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Views

1. An appreciation of Mary Hynes and “Tapestry”

Mary Hynes, host of CBC Radio’s Tapestry. Photo: CBC

Mary Hynes is the long-time host of CBC Radio’s Tapestry, a show the broadcaster describes as going “deep into the messy, complicated, and sometimes absurd nature of our lives, through the lenses of psychology, philosophy, religion, and spirituality.”

It’s the kind of show that I suspect would never get programmed now, and I fear that once Hynes retires it will be gone.

I like Tapestry. Just about every time I listen, I hear something that allows me to think about the world in a way I hadn’t previously considered.

Take the most recent episode. Hynes interviews portrait artist Riva Lehrer, who lives in San Francisco. Her life usually involves days on end in a studio with a subject, talking, painting, laughing and eating together. (Lehrer talks about feeding others as part of her identity as a Jew, and as something she misses.) Now, she paints portraits from photos, which she says, drives home the point that all portraits are “fragments” anyway.

But what I found especially fascinating was Lehrer’s take on what mask-wearing means for her as a person with a disability. Lehrer is under five feet tall and has spinal bifida. She notes that she is glad people are wearing masks, but is very struck by the difference it makes when people can’t see her face.

Here’s what Lehrer told Hynes:

We who have unusual bodies, or unusual movements or some kind of unusual presentation — we’ve often used our faces to kind of manage people’s reactions to us. Because it’s so fast, that people will treat disabled people as if they are not present, not competent to manage their own needs. I don’t know what they’re thinking. But on the rare occasions that I’m in a wheelchair, I’m immediately aware that if I’m with somebody, strangers will immediately talk to my companion instead of me.

So our faces and our words are ways that we try to have a kind of martial arts of using expectations… Like, look at me, meet my eyes, hear my words, look at my expressions. I’m here, I’m present, I’m a person. You’re treating me like I’m not a person, but I’m using what’s above my neck primarily in order to flip what you think is going on. And now Mary, I’m out there, and I double mask… and I also wear big dark sunglasses because I’m kind of light-sensitive, and I’m shorter than everybody else… and so I am often being treated as though I am only a diagnosis. I am only this kind of strange-looking, strange-moving body that is pathetic or worrisome or something. And I’ve lost a vast amount of the autonomy I had as a person because I’m wearing a mask, I’m meeting someone else who is wearing a mask, and neither of us knows each other’s intentions because we can’t read intentions, we can barely hear each other talk, and for me it’s frightening and disempowering in the extreme.

Late last year, I turned on the radio in the car on a Sunday afternoon and was immediately captivated by Hynes’s interview with lawyer Shermeen Khan, who is blind. She talked about how the pandemic has affected us all, broadly, and about her own experience as a blind person:

I don’t think that moving to the online environment or the remote environment was as challenging – because I’ve never really relied on being able to visually perceive the makeup of a room… I don’t rely on looking at another person’s face. And so in many respects, I was able to rely on the same things I always relied on, to figure out how to read a room, right?

But some of the pandemic safety protocols were limiting. For instance, Khan can’t see directional arrows on the supermarket floor. And she usually relies on help to get to a restaurant table:

You’re not supposed to take anybody’s elbow anymore because you could theoretically transfer COVID to them or be an unknown transmitter. Anyway, we don’t touch each other anymore. So, many avenues for being able to really navigate a place independently — or even be able to assess your environment — were really compromised. So a lot of us really ended up relying on people in ways that historically we haven’t had to do for a really long time…

“What if it’s just as simple as [being guided by] the person who has the least worry about offering an elbow to a blind person who can sanitize their hands in front of you? And you’re escorting them to a table, which is all about a 45 second walk — have that person do it?… My most accessible experiences have typically happened because I’ve encountered people who are sort of organically willing to work with me on the spot — and who are creative thinkers and just open to doing things differently.

I like media that makes me think, or see the world in a different way. Tapestry consistently does that.

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2. An autistic entertainment consultant on The Reason I Jump

Still of Jestina from The Reason I Jump.

Last week I wrote about the documentary The Reason I Jump, and said I was not aware of any reviews written by autistic people, but would be interested in finding some.

Yesterday, Matthew McCarthy, who I interviewed for the piece, pointed me to this review, by Kerry Magro. Magro is described as an “autism advocate and consultant who is on the autism spectrum.”

I was interested to see that the film, in Magro’s eyes, seemed to have met its objectives. The post looks at a number of things Magro liked (and one dislike — changes in volume that made it “hard to engage  with the film”):

Its authenticity should be applauded. Some of the meltdowns depict self-harm; one scene in particular where a girl is hitting herself in the head may be difficult viewing for those who don’t have a personal connection to these challenges. I appreciated the overall authenticity of the family’s stories. Nothing felt staged here.

“My child has the type of autism that no one talks about.
” If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this from a parent who wishes their child’s stories were represented more in media. When I worked on the HBO series “Mrs. Fletcher” as an autistic entertainment consultant, I was pleasantly surprised by the focus on a nonverbal autistic character. In this documentary, you get to see a side of autism that is rarely portrayed in today’s media.

Also, I want to thank an Examiner reader who wrote to very politely and gently chide me for using the phrase “people with autism.” The reader, who has an autistic family member, wrote:

According to a lot of my reading, most of the autistic community prefer the wording autistic person as it is a part of who they are.

While writing this Morning File, I’ve been listening to the latest episode of the You’re Wrong About podcast, which purports to be about the anti-vaxx movement, but is largely about the history of autism and its diagnosis, with guest Eric Michael Garcia, who is himself autistic. It’s worth your time.

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Noticed

It’s this little guy’s day. Photo: Abigail Lynn/Unsplash

Lawyer Barbara Darby has a new post on her blog, The Mind Wanders, just in time for Groundhog Day. She writes about the origins of the day, groundhogs themselves, and references to Groundhog Day in legal references.

This is all good stuff, but the really fun part comes at the end, when Darby gets into a set of lawsuits filed by a company called Pro-C Ltd, against two now-defunct corporations: Computer City, Inc. and Tandy Corp. (Pro-C still has a website, but it looks like they may be defunct as well.)

Pro-C, Darby writes, sued Computer City for $2.5 million in compensation and $10 million in punitive damages over ownership of the domain wingen.com. (I’ll save you the trouble: there is nothing there now.)

Darby writes:

Justice Patrick Flinn does not hide how unimpressed he is with this plaintiff. The defendant spent a morning arguing about why paragraphs of a plaintiff affidavit should be struck. There are numerous reasons for this: that they’re inadmissible because they’re irrelevant, or are submissions rather than evidence, or they’re generally inappropriate. At the end of the morning, the plaintiff consented to the motion to strike. This means it was a waste of the Court’s time and the defendant’s time.

The defendant then sought “summary judgment” on the plaintiff’s action. This is a motion to dismiss a claim without a trial, and can be brought for various reasons, including that no actual cause of action is shown in the claim, the claim is beyond the court’s jurisdiction, or the claim is “clearly unsustainable.” In Pro-C the defendant’s motion for summary judgment succeeded, on the basis of a prior unsuccessful claim Pro-C had launched, Pro-C Ltd v. Computer City.

The Court in this matter felt comfortable dismissing Pro-C’s claims without a trial, and had a plethora of reasons to do so, including that the plaintiff sued the wrong defendant; hence there was no “genuine issue for trial.” Because Pro-C already unsuccessfully sued Computer City and Tandy, and because these corporate entities were found to be essentially the same, the Court also dismissed this action on the basis of res judicata: that the same claims were argued about the same parties in a prior action, Computer City, so relitigating what was the same case was an abuse of process. When you sue someone, you cannot relitigate claims you already litigated or could have litigated. Defendants should not be put to the costs of re-defending the same claim, in other words.

Suing the same people for the same thing over and over: Groundhog Day.

Darby checks out the Pro-C website, and notes that it says the company has repaired “hundreds of computers.” She says:

I’m not great with math, but hundreds of computers in 20 years isn’t that many.

She also points to the “quite charming” descriptions of the team on the website, including the printer expert, who has “refilled thousands of ink cartridges.”

I went to the website and noted that each team member had a LinkedIn button under their bio, so I decided to check them out. The “computer whiz kid with a PhD from Oxford” does not mention Pro-C on his page. He is currently a research scientist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The web developer (“the creative member of the group”) does not list the company on her LinkedIn either. She appears to be a freelance web designer and photographer who also sells ink cartridges. Meanwhile, the ink cartridge specialist’s LinkedIn describes her simply as “Overworked Underpaid” from 2003 to the present. CEO David Johnson actually does mention the company on his LinkedIn: “Retired Pro-C”.

Darby’s blog is always a fun read.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Police Commission (2pm, here) — discussion of capital budgets.

Wednesday

Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am) — live webcast with captioning on a text-only site

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm) — virtual meeting; no dial-in or live broadcast

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am) — video conference; Tracey Taweel and Maria Medioli from Community Services, Joyce d’Entremont from Harbourside Lodge & Mountains and Meadows Care Group, and Wendy Lill from Community Homes Action Group will discuss “Phasing Out Adult Residential Centre and Regional Rehabilitation Centre Facilities.”

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday,10am ) — live broadcast video conference for agenda setting


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Impact of Racism on Health: Especially during the Covid19 period (Tuesday, 6pm) — MS Teams discussion with OmiSoore Dryden and Tiffany Gordon, with entertainment by Eriana Willis-Smith.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Integrating Consumer Behavior Into Your Marketing Strategy During The Pandemic (Tuesday, 11am) — webinar with Ethan Pancer

The Librarian Is In: Evaluating Sources (Tuesday, 3pm) — online workshop


In the harbour

02:30: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond Terminal (previously National Gypsum) from New York
04:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
05:00: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
16:30: Atlantic Sail sails for New York
17:00: MOL Emissary, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
22:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Sydney


Footnotes

Has “wintry mix” made way for “multi-layered storm”? Also, it’s snowing in the original Halifax, in Yorkshire. Cute pics here.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. So much love for Tapestry (and the previous host Judy Maddren of World Report fame)! I do agree that such programs, even on public radio, are few and far between and less likely to be scheduled into rotation. More likely to be shoved off into podcast territory, rather than something you might accidentally stumble upon while channel surfing. I am so glad others appreciate it.

  2. Hi Philip

    I don’t know who wrote “According to a lot of my reading, most of the autistic community prefer the wording autistic person as it is a part of who they are.”, but that person is 100% correct. Most autistics prefer identity-first language, not person-first language.

    However I do need to let you know that a lot of autistic people do not have a very high opinion of Kerry Magro. He is heavily involved with Autism Speaks, which is widely despised by the autistic community and our neurotypical allies.

    He is also a major aspie supremacist, and doesn’t appear to have a lot of respect for nonspeaking autistics or those with higher support needs. And as if that wasn’t enough, he has been a supporter of the notorious FB page / blog Finding Cooper’s Voice. That is run by an autism martyr mom of the highest order.

    1. I did not know about the connection to the Autism Speaks and Cooper’s Voice connections. Thanks for this.

  3. For perspective on the 1 billion dollar cost estimate for a new bridge, Halifax’s share of the new warships (based on our share of the Canadian population) is about a billion dollars allowing for 15% cost overruns.

  4. Re: Former King’s and Dal prof Wayne Hankey charged with sexual assault

    ”Hearsay refers to our [sic] of court statements that are being admitted for the truth of their contents. While most hearsay is not admissible into evidence in Canadian law, there are exceptions that are highly relevant to sexual assault cases. Prior inconsistent statements, admissions, and statements against interest are generally exempt from the hearsay rules and thus can be allowed into evidence by Canadian courts if the judge permits. In sexual assault cases, statements made by the victim or the accused to each other or to third parties can thus potentially be used in court to support and acquittal or conviction….:”

    https://www.sexassault.ca/evidence.htm

  5. Has “wintry mix” made way for “multi-layered storm”?

    Multi-layered certainly describes what was on the sidewalk when I came in just a bit ago – a thick layer of heavy snow, a thin layer of icy slush, and now a lot of water. Sure am glad there isn’t anywhere else I have to go for the rest of the day. I can put on a pot of coffee and dive into today’s Morning File. Thanks, Philip, for giving me so much content to enjoy. 🙂