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Calgary joins list of cities grappling with costs of crumbling Olympic venues

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Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what’s happening around some of the day’s most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.

TODAY:

  • Calgary is latest city to face problems keeping expensive former Olympic venues operating.
  • At Issue tackles the issues fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry.
  • How a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

Aging Olympic venues

Last November, Calgarians rejected a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics over fears of spiralling costs.

But now the bills are coming due all the same.

Yesterday, WinSport, the not-for-profit corporation that operates the legacy venues from the 1988 Games, announced that it doesn’t have the money for long-planned renovations to the city’s sliding centre, and might be forced to shutter the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track come next fall.

The project to replace the refrigeration system and make other needed upgrades had already received $10 million in provincial funding and a promise of a further $7 million from Ottawa. However, WinSport says that won’t be nearly enough, estimating the total costs to be at least $25 million, plus decades of future operating subsidies that currently run at $750,000 a year.

Sport federations had been assured that the project was going to go ahead regardless of the 2026 Games bid, which called for the refurbishment and reuse of the 1988 venues. Now they face months of uncertainty as WinSport tries to pry more money out of the Alberta and federal governments.

A skeleton athlete trains on the 1988 Calgary Olympic track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in October 2018. The facility is estimated to need at least $25 million in maintenance work to keep it operating. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Of course, Canada does have another world-class sliding facility in Whistler, a legacy of the 2010 Olympics. Canada’s high-performance sliders already train and compete there as well, so moving the national team programs and world cup races from Alberta to B.C. would be more of an inconvenience than an impossibility.

But the closure of the Calgary venue would severely hamper the kids’ camps and development programs that produce the next generation of athletes, and have helped Canada to eight Olympic medals in bobsleigh and skeleton since 2006.

Nor is it the only post-Games problem that the city is facing.

Two of the three neighbouring ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, now in a state of terminal disrepair, are scheduled to soon be torn down. The 90-metre tower will survive, but only for use as a zipline launch and to boost cellphone signals.

Several other ’88 venues are also in dire need of renovations, including the speed skating oval — at least $15 million for foundation work and ice plant upgrades — and the cross-country and downhill ski areas in Canmore and Nakiska.

And then there’s the ongoing fight with the Calgary Flames over their desire to replace the aging Saddledome with a new NHL rink, to be largely paid for by the public.

Steam rises from buildings near the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta. The Calgary Flames want the old stadium replaced with a new NHL rink. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

For all the focus on the cost of hosting an Olympics, relatively little attention gets paid to the price of keeping the venues going after the circus leaves town.

Utah has earmarked $40 million US to keep its 2002 Games sites in good shape as it pursues a possible bid for another Winter Olympics, and now there are calls for a further $15 million in order to attract more international competitions.

Although increasingly, host nations seem to be leaning towards the other choice — just letting stuff fall apart.

A year after the Pyeongchang Games, many of the 2018 venues sit idle. The sliding centre is closed — ironically, South Korean athletes now train in Calgary — and the speed-skating arena is without ice. The hockey arena has been used three times since the games finished, and the figure skating venue has hosted two concerts.

All of which is better than Rio, Athens and Beijing, where many Summer Games facilities have basically been left to rot.

A view from the stands in Rio de Janiero’s derelict Olympic Aquatics stadium in May 2017, less than a year after Brazil’s Games. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Even the biggest, shiniest Olympic jewels — the cavernous stadiums that host the Opening and Closing ceremonies and track and field — are perpetual white elephants.

London Stadium, now home to the Premier League’s West Ham United, is costing British taxpayers somewhere between $74,000 and $431,000 a game — estimates vary — in a cut-rate lease that runs for 99 years.

And a Harvard Business School study released last fall concluded that most Olympic stadiums are set up to fail, built too big, indebted and ugly to succeed as homes for pro teams or cultural events.

None of which will come as news to Montrealers.

The « Big Owe, » built for the 1976 Summer Games but not paid off until 40 years later, still needs a $250 million replacement roof.

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, seen here in November 2017, is still waiting for the design of its new $250 million roof to be approved. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Yesterday, the Régie des installations olympiques announced that the work will be pushed back another year as they try to make sure that the new roof will actually work, since two previous versions ripped.

The new lid is scheduled to be in place by 2023, and will hopefully last until the city hosts some FIFA World Cup matches in 2026.


At Issue

Tonight’s At Issue panel tackles the problems fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry, writes Rosemary Barton.

From the low price of Canadian crude, to a lack of pipelines, it’s safe to say Alberta’s economy is facing serious challenges.

This week I travelled to Edmonton as part of our National Conversation series. With the federal election now just eight months away (yes, the countdown clock is on) and a provincial election before that, we wanted to talk about the future of the province and hear from Albertans directly.

And we wanted the provincial government’s perspective, too.

Premier Rachel Notley told me she still believes a pipeline is the best and safest option to move oil to market. But given the current stalemate, she has no choice but to keep looking to railcars (remember she announced the province would be purchasing 7,000 railcars last fall).

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley answers questions from the audience at CBC’s The National Conversation event in Edmonton. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

So is Ottawa doing enough to help Alberta? And should Notley be doing more to stand up to the federal government?

The premier says she is, but many who were in the audience for our event in Edmonton or submitted questions for Notley online felt otherwise.

She says it’s all about explaining to Canadians why they should care about Alberta’s success.

But there are, of course, politics at play here.

I also sat down with Notley’s political rival, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, who says Notley’s mistake was focusing her energy on one pipeline to solve the provincial economy’s problems.

Jason Kenney and Rosemary Barton talk Alberta politics over coffee. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Tonight on At Issue, we’ll take this opportunity to talk about Alberta’s economic woes, the political implications, and ask where both the province and the federal government go from here.

Plus whatever else comes our way — a lot can change in a few hours in Canadian politics. Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and Althia Raj will join me for my favourite night of the week.

See you then.

– Rosemary Barton


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Yiddish Glory at the Grammys

Producer Greg Hobbs describes how a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.

When Yiddish Studies professor Anna Shternshis found herself in the unlikely position of overseeing the production of a musical recording, she discovered that musicians can connect with the past in ways historians might not be able to.

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is a Grammy-nominated collection of songs written by Jewish Red Army soldiers, refugees and victims of the Ukrainian ghettos.

University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis in her office at the University of Toronto. Her work led to the making of the Grammy-nominated album ‘Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II.’ (Anand Ram/CBC)

The works were discovered by Shternshis during the early 2000s in a box at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, while she was working on a project about the decline of Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union. They are unique, in that they were written in Yiddish from the perspective of those battling through one of the darkest periods of the 20th century for Soviet Jews, as they experienced it.

« The rumours that the songs were collected existed, » says Shternshis, who teaches at the University of Toronto. « But scholars believed that this collection was destroyed and never survived the war. »

Some of the documents came with musical notations, others were just lyrics.

Early in the production process, when Shternshis was working with Russian songwriter Psoy Korolenko to put music to the lyrics of a piece called Purim Gifts for Hitler, Korolenko said he wanted to add a line.

« I said to Psoy, ‘this is a terrible idea,' » recounts Shternshis, who was trying to be as authentic as possible to the originals.

Shternshis displays photos she took of lyric sheets of Yiddish songs from the World War II era that were thought to have been lost. (Anand Ram/CBC)

Purim Gifts is a defiant song decrying Hitler’s attempts to defeat the Jews. As the translated lyrics go, « You’re not my first enemy, before you I’ve had many others. »

While first performing the song on behalf of Shternshis at an academic conference, Korolenko insisted on adding a well-known Yiddish and Hebrew saying that translates as, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It was a rousing moment that the audience loved, although it made Shternshis uncomfortable.

To her astonishment, she later discovered an earlier handwritten version of the song in a different section of the Vernadsky Library. In that version, the lyrics ended with the very same line, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It turns out that this is what the original author had intended before Stalin’s censors got their hands on the lyrics.

It was eye-opening for Shternshis.

« Musicians can really get what the other musicians were saying, many years later, better than a historian, » she says.

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is nominated for a Grammy in the World Music Category. For more on the collection, watch tonight’s The National on CBC Television and streamed online.

– Greg Hobbs

Juno Award-winning jazz vocalist Sophie Milman performs an anti-fascist song titled Chuvasher Tekher (Daughters of Chuvashia), written during World War II, which is on the Grammy-nominated album Yiddish Glory:


A few words on … 

The passing of one of Parliament Hill’s good guys.


Quote of the moment

« It’s my last name, I’ve always had it. I’m not ashamed of it. There’s nothing bad about it. »

– Melville, Sask., resident Dave Assman (pronounced « Oss-men ») reacts to the government’s rejection of his Seinfeldesque request for a personalized licence plate.

Dave Assman says he’d like a licence plate personalized with his name, because he’s proud of it. (Submitted by Dave Assman)


What The National is reading

  • PMO pressed Wilson-Raybould to abandon prosecution of SNC-Lavalin (Globe and Mail)
  • It’s official: 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record (NY Times)
  • ‘Torn apart’ by Brexit: Northern Ireland residents fear border could reignite violence (CBC)
  • France recalls Italian ambassador after ‘unfounded attacks’ and « provocations’ (France 24)
  • Calgary teachers’ conference cancels convicted murderer’s presentation (CBC)
  • Brazil’s ex-president Lula convicted in second corruption case (Al Jazeera)
  • U.K. students paid up to £3,500 to catch potentially deadly diseases (Telegraph)
  • Arrow killing ruled a homicide (CBC)
  • 8 hospitalized for burns after trying ‘boiling water challenge’ (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Bounty hunters had access to U.S. cellphone customer location data for years (Motherboard)

Today in history

Feb. 7, 1997: Keith’s beer becomes available outside the Maritimes

The Halifax-brewed, kind-of India Pale Ale, taps into some expansion money from its Belgian-based parent company to offer drinkers in Ontario and elsewhere an authentic taste of Nova Scotia.

Alexander Keith’s beer becomes available outside the Maritimes. 1:30

Sign up here and have The National Today newsletter delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.

Please send your ideas, news tips, rants, and compliments to thenationaltoday@cbc.ca. ​





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Anglais

These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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