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Toronto man says trip to Auschwitz is about educating future generations

Toronto man says trip to Auschwitz is about educating future generationsTORONTO — Joseph Gottdenker was not there the day his relatives were herded into a Polish town square and marked for either a stint in a forced labour camp or instant execution at the hands of German troops. He was in the home of a nearby family being raised as a Catholic — hidden in plain sight for his own protection.None of Gottdenker's roughly 70 extended family members were immediately sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the notorious concentration camp hours away from their home village of Mielec. But Gottdenker, now 77, said some of them ultimately died there — just some of the roughly six million Jews slain as part of a Nazi-led genocide now simply referred to as the Holocaust.Gottdenker, who has called Toronto home since 1958, said he visits the most infamous of the Nazi concentration camps at every opportunity to honour his family. But his next trip to Auschwitz on Monday, part of a commemorative event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation, will be more about the future than the past."People will see the ceremony on media, and that might be their first time they've ever heard of the Holocaust," he said in a telephone interview. "If they ever come across a Holocaust denier, they can react accordingly through education. It's the only way that we're going to perpetuate the memory."Gottdenker will be one of several Holocaust survivors on hand at Monday's formal ceremony at Auschwitz, which will also include a number of world leaders.The ceremony, as well as one that took place in Jerusalem last week, are playing out against an increasingly tense political backdrop. A bitter dispute is raging between Poland — where Nazi German occupiers operated Auschwitz and other infamous camps — and Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union credited with liberating Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945.While Gottdenker spent his earliest years not far from the Nazi camps, he was deliberately kept oblivious of the shadow they had already cast on his life.He said fears about the persecution of Jews in his home town had prompted his mother to come to an arrangement with a local family while she was still pregnant with him — mother and infant were to take up residence with their Catholic friends and masquerade as Christians to avoid death at Nazi hands.When Gottdenker's mother grew fearful that she had been recognized, she went into hiding elsewhere, forced to leave her newborn son to be raised as the child of others. Gottdenker credits his survival to his mother's foresight and the selflessness of the family that he said raised him lovingly as one of their own. Gottdenker was eventually reunited with both parents, two uncles and an aunt, but said the rest of his large extended family died over the course of the war.His surviving family members rarely talked about their harrowing wartime ordeals, but Gottdenker said he has made a point of speaking up about the Holocaust throughout his adult life.Recent data suggests messages like his are not always reaching their intended audiences. A 2019 joint study between the Toronto-based Azrieli Foundation and the U.S. Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found 54 per cent of respondents did not know how many Jews had perished in the Holocaust.The survey of 1,100 Canadians, completed both by phone and online, found 22 per cent of millennials aged 18 to 34 either had not heard of or were not sure if they were aware of the Holocaust at all.Jody Spiegel, director of the foundation's Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program, said many of those who made it through Nazi persecution have felt obligated to tell the world of the atrocities they witnessed.She said many report a sense of freedom from sharing their experiences, but noted the process can be very emotional and reopen old wounds.A rising global tide of anti-Semitism, she said, makes their message all the more urgent.Statistics Canada documented a 47 per cent rise in police-reported hate crimes between 2016 and 2017, with incidents involving Jews surging 63 per cent and coming second only to the 151 per cent spike in attacks against Muslims.Last year, researchers with Tel Aviv University reported that violent attacks against Jews grew significantly in 2018, with the largest reported number of Jews killed in anti-Semitic acts in decades. They recorded 400 cases, with the spike most dramatic in western Europe.Spiegel said personal memoirs, rather than facts and figures, are the only way to combat the troubling trend."You need to actually bring it into consciousness, to create some historical empathy so that ... it really doesn't happen again," she said.Spiegel said accounts from the roughly 40,000 Jews who came to Canada after the war resonate particularly strongly in Canada's increasingly multicultural society.Gottdenker, for his part, said he'll continue to share his as long as he can."That catch word 'never again?' That's not just never again for Jews. Never again for any minority."This report by the Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020. Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press


Shipping noise causing problems for wildlife in the Arctic

Shipping noise causing problems for wildlife in the ArcticA new study out of the University of Windsor says that because of receding ice in the Arctic, there's more underwater noise by shipping traffic. Because of that, Arctic cod's habits are being affected.Silviya Ivanova, lead author of the study and Ph.D. student at the University of Windsor, said the study was first started after Inuit in the area were complaining about the noise scaring away wildlife. "All this noise is making them leave the area," said Ivanova. "They like a quiet area. We don't know yet what the actual repercussions [are]."Researchers have said Arctic cod are the "most important" link in Arctic marine ecosystems, so disturbing their habits can impact food availability for other marine wildlife and for native Arctic communities. Ivanova and the research team used hydrophones to record the noise transmitted by ships. They also recorded one day where no ships went through to get a baseline reading for no noise.Researchers spent five weeks for two summers in a row to acquire the data needed for the study. "Our results identify yet another stresser to consider in the rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem," said Aaron Fisk, professor at the University of Windsor, Canada Research Chair and Pew Marine Fellow. "The noise associated with increasing ship traffic needs to be considered in management and conservation efforts."The study noted that it's unclear if Arctic cod will aclimatize to the noise or if it will be a long-term problem. Cruise ship traffic in the Arctic has doubled in the last 20 years, with ice coverage reducing by about half from 2000-2012. The data showed this has resulted in a 10-12 decibel increase in noise levels.


'Supersites' in Iqaluit, Whitehorse to improve Arctic weather forecasting

'Supersites' in Iqaluit, Whitehorse to improve Arctic weather forecastingWeather matters in the Arctic like it does in few other places, but Environment Canada's forecasts for the North have long been hampered by poor data.Now, two new "supersites" in Whitehorse, Yukon, and Iqaluit, Nunavut, should give northerners a more accurate sense of some of the country's most extreme weather — and improve scientific understanding of the changing Arctic."There's interest to understand how we can make improvements to the Arctic weather forecasts, particularly since we're seeing such increased activity in the Arctic," said Environment Canada researcher Zen Mariani. "We need to make sure we're doing a good job with the Arctic weather forecasts."Many northerners, who like to head out on the land for days at a time in all seasons, depend on accurate predictions for safe travel.The North is becoming a busier place. Vessel traffic in the Northwest Passage is growing, as is air traffic at the newly enlarged and renovated Iqaluit airport. Nunavut's population is increasing — all while climate change is upending traditional knowledge about weather patterns.Unlike southern Canada, the North has had few sites providing comprehensive, high-resolution observations for weather forecasting.Starting about five years ago, Environment Canada began upgrading weather facilities in the two northern capitals. Modern weather radar was installed along with lidar — similar to radar but using laser light to "see" into clouds and fog banks.The new instruments, operated remotely from the south, allow scientists to measure cloud cover, detail changes in wind speed and its direction and assess the height of water vapour above the ground.The North presents unique challenges such as so-called stratified wind patterns. Winds at different altitudes have different directions —crucial information for pilots flying over the tundra.Northerners hunting or travelling on the land need constantly updated information on visibility and wind speed.The supersites are now fully operational and are feeding into regular forecasts. The data is available to the public in real time, Mariani said.The sites are part of an international effort to better understand how Arctic weather works. Data from across the circumpolar world will help forecasters test the model they've been using for predictions against much more accurate and complete information on the ground."It's a huge collaborative effort," Mariani said. "Installing these instruments has provided us with the opportunity to have a very rich dataset to have these model verifications."What things do models do well? What things do models do poorly? Where can we improve?"Putting the supersites in Whitehorse and Iqaluit gives scientists data from two very different landscapes. Iqaluit is in the tundra and Whitehorse is nestled against the Pelly Mountains.It's a long way between the two. A third site would be helpful, Mariani said."We don't have any immediate plans, but Yellowknife is a hot spot and would be a great location for similar research."Even without it, northerners can expect to get more reliable weather information before heading out, Mariani said."What we're hoping to achieve are concrete tangible improvements to these forecast models."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960 Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


Tumour on Edmonton woman's liver was rare parasite, not cancer

Tumour on Edmonton woman's liver was rare parasite, not cancerEDMONTON — Cassidy Armstrong says she washes her hands, cleans her vegetables and doesn't own any pets."How did I get it? I don't know," says the 36-year-old from Edmonton.Armstrong had surgery in November for what she thought was a rare, terminal cancer. She found out a day or two later that the grapefruit-sized lump doctors had removed from her liver during a four-hour operation was a cyst created by a rare parasite."It felt like a movie," she recalled in an interview. "There was a big group of people. They were disease doctors."They said, 'We have good news for you. What you have is not cancer ... What we think you have is this very rare parasite called Echinococcus multilocularis.'"The tiny tapeworm found in foxes, coyotes and domestic dogs can be passed on to people.Dr. Stan Houston, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta, said there were only two cases in all of North America prior to an outbreak in Alberta that, including Armstrong, has infected 15 people since 2013. He said there has also been at least one case in each of Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario."It is absolutely new," he said. "It's a serious disease for the individuals who get it and we are probably going to be seeing more cases."Nonetheless it remains a rare disease."Veterinarians first identified the parasite in the wild and, since then, have determined that the tapeworm has become common in Alberta wildlife, particularly coyotes."It's actually tiny," said Dr. Claudia Klein, associate professor in the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary. "You can see the adult tapeworm, barely, with your bare eyes."Recent studies have found a high incidence of infected coyotes, foxes and rodents across Alberta, including at off-leash dog parks in Calgary.The tapeworm is spread through the feces of coyotes and foxes that have eaten infected rodents. Dogs can get it through contact with the feces or by eating infected rodents.The worm can be passed on to people on fruits or vegetables, by handling contaminated soil or through an infected pet's fur."Up until a few years ago, that tapeworm was very rare in Canada and we hadn't heard of a case in humans," said Klein. She noted it is common in China and Europe.Patients can carry the tapeworm for many years. In Armstrong's case, doctors believe she may have had it for a decade.Armstrong's symptoms started a few years ago with a dull ache in her ribs and some tiredness. The signs would come and go. An X-ray and blood tests couldn't determine what was wrong."In the last six months, it was just constantly there," she said.Armstrong finally asked for an ultrasound, which found the lump on her liver. It was diagnosed as fibrolamellar carcinoma.Surgery was scheduled for a week later."They removed 65 per cent of my liver, my gall bladder, a couple of nodules from my lungs, scraped my diaphragm," she said. "It was a very, very big surgery."When the doctors told her what they'd discovered, she was confused."I was kind of doped up so I was like, 'Well, is that a good thing?'" she said. "They said, 'Yes, it's a better thing' than what they thought I had."She is on medication, probably for the rest of her life, in case any of the parasite remains in her body.Houston said 13 of the 15 patients in Alberta have been dog owners.People can prevent the spread by washing their hands thoroughly and cleaning any vegetables that have been grown outside."Everybody pets a dog and most people eat produce," he said."People can't give it to other people, but theoretically your dog could give it to other people."Armstrong, who hasn't had a dog since she was a little girl, said she worked as a mechanic and had contact with farm equipment, but she has no idea where she picked up the tapeworm."You can get it from eating the wrong carrot," she said. "I wash my hands and I clean my stuff. I'll probably never know."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 26, 2020.Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Blizzards can be fatal for birds. Here's how you can help our feathered friends

Blizzards can be fatal for birds. Here's how you can help our feathered friendsFor some birds in Newfoundland, last week's massive blizzard resulted in food scarcity and death, says a local bird expert.Jared Clarke, who owns a birdwatching and touring company called Bird the Rock, said now is an excellent time to fill up your bird feeders."There's certainly no reason not to be feeding birds right now, and they probably appreciate it a little more than usual if we do," he said.While some birds are prepared for bad weather, said Clarke, others visiting during migrations from the south aren't. Berries and seeds can freeze or become buried under snow, and the winds can even be lethal for some birds."We know for certain that there were a few birds here that have made the news recently that are sort of visiting from further south and probably shouldn't be here this time of year. And we know that they had a hard time and several of them didn't make it," he said.> I don't think there's any doubt that they sense this storm coming. -Jared ClarkeClarke said the bull bird is one of them."It's a small bird related to the puffin that winters here off our coast, and with the strong winds during the storm the next morning people were picking them up in driveways and on roads."When it comes to keeping birds fed, Clarke said, many finches prefer a small black seed called niger, while others eat millet. He sad buying a seed mix can help to accommodate different tastes. Suet blocks are also a good idea, he said."That's a really high-energy food. It's really loved by a lot of birds, especially some of our woodpeckers. So that's a great thing to have this time of year."Some birds know exactly what to doClarke said while some birds, like the bull bird, can be killed by the weather, others prepare well in advance and are perfectly safe."I don't think there's any doubt that they sense this storm coming, probably even before we would have," he said."A lot of birds like boreal chickadees and the kinglets that live in our forests will go deep into the forest and find places close to the tree trunks to be out of the wind and away from the bulk of the snow."For crows, the suspension of garbage collection during the state of emergency is resulting in food scarcity, with a week's worth of fresh garbage not going to the dump, said Clarke."They're probably spreading out over the city looking for it, looking for things to eat," said Clarke.But crows will likely make do, he said, so there's no need to leave scraps out for them."I think it's fairly safe to assume that most of the crows will do fine."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Sunday 26th of January 2020 03:47:15

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