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B.C. man ordered not to discuss or share social media posts about COVID-19 vaccine with 11-year-old son –



A B.C. provincial court judge has ordered a father not to talk with his 11-year-old son about COVID-19 vaccination or to share any social media or other information about the vaccine and the disease with his child.

In a decision released this week, Kelowna provincial court Judge Cathaline Heinrichs sided with a mother who wanted to have her son vaccinated over the objections of her ex-husband.

Heinrichs followed the lead of other provincial court judges across the country in concluding that getting the vaccine is in the child’s best interest.

But the judge said the child — known as NW — was caught up in the “tension and polarization that this issue has caused” between the warring exes and ordered the father to stay silent.

“While at age 11, N.W. may start wading in to making medical decisions for himself, I am not satisfied that he has maturity to understand and appreciate the significance of the recommendations and public health orders made by the public health office, nor the psychological, emotional and social benefits of receiving the vaccination,” Heinrichs wrote.

“He thinks the vaccine is experimental, which it is not. It has now been applied globally on millions of people, with effective results.”

‘His father has a fake vaccine passport’: mom

The father — JW — and mother — TK — separated in 2016; both parents share guardianship of NW.

The ruling came after an application by the mother to allow her to arrange vaccination for the child.

According to the decision, NW believes “that the vaccine is too new to know the long-term impacts … and that the risk of harm from the vaccine outweighs the possible benefit he may receive from the vaccine.”

The father also believes NW has natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19 in recent weeks.

A B.C. judge has ordered a father in Kelowna to stop supplying his son with COVID-19 information from social media. (CBC)

According to the decision, the father claimed that “he and those in his household are hygienic and wash their hands, they maintain good immunity by consuming vitamins and healthy food, and wear masks when required to do so.”

Both the mother and her new partner — a firefighter — are double vaccinated.

The father wouldn’t disclose his vaccination status to the court but said there was no evidence to support his ex-wife’s assertion that he was not vaccinated.

The mother swore an affidavit claiming that NW “reported that his father has a fake vaccine passport to get into places that require proof of vaccination.”

She also claimed that he was seen sitting at the Capital News Centre without a mask.

Regardless of whether or not JW is vaccinated, the judge concluded that “he is not a proponent of the provincial recommendation for vaccinations for children and would be less likely than TK to follow that recommendation.”

‘This must be stressful for him’

The legal battle followed a pattern similar to other family court cases across the country, with the judge rejecting the father’s attempt to introduce “various scientific documents, links, and purported expert opinions attempting to support the inefficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“There are problems with the admissibility of information that is printed from the Internet or is submitted with the intent of offering an opinion to the court, without meeting the requirements of expert evidence,” Heinrichs wrote.

“I have not considered the purported medical or scientific information in my decision.”

A B.C. provincial court judge has sided with a mother who asked to be allowed to have her 11-year-old son vaccinated. (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

The judge noted that previous court decisions have established certain facts: Canada is in the middle of a pandemic that has resulted in restrictions; contracting COVID-19 poses a serious and significant health risk to adults and children; and the Pfizer vaccine is “safe and effective for use in both children and adults.”

Heinrichs cited a growing body of cases that found that governments and public health authorities were better equipped than the courts to determine the best interests of children when it comes to vaccination.

JW claimed that it was NW, himself, who was opposed to vaccination, in part, because he rarely gets sick and because many of his friends were choosing not to be vaccinated.

But the mother countered that NW was willing to be vaccinated but was worried about his father’s reaction.

“I am satisfied that NW is aware of his parents’ different views, and this must be stressful for him because if he makes the decision, he is either deciding with his father against his mother, or vice versa,” Heinrichs wrote.

“He apparently is relying on what his friends are doing to determine whether he will take the vaccine, which does not suggest that he has an independent, considered conviction about the matter.”

The judge said the mother could discuss vaccination with NW, but neither parent is allowed to speak ill of each other in front of the 11-year-old, both when it comes to the subject of their court battle and their differing views on vaccination.

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Your Employees Want You to Post on Social Media – BNN



(Bloomberg) — CEOs who think having a Twitter account is optional may want to think again.

Employees prefer working for business leaders who are active on social media by a ratio of 4 to 1, according to a survey by Brunswick Group, an advisory firm. Executives who are vocal online are seen as more transparent and accessible, a perception crucial for retention and recruitment, the firm found.

Far from a frivolous sideshow, platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn have increasingly become a way for C-suite executives to communicate directly with staff, investors and the public. 

Tesla Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has famously leveraged his Twitter following over the years, including into a bid to take over the platform itself, while Adam Aron of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. took to the site to ride the meme-stock frenzy that sent the company’s stock price soaring. Aviva Plc’s CEO Amanda Blanc last week addressed sexist comments she received during a shareholders meeting in a post on LinkedIn.

Brunswick surveyed 3,600 employees of companies with staff of more than 1,000 and 2,800 readers of financial publications. 

Some 82% of employees will research a CEO’s online presence when considering joining the company and nearly 80% of employees and over 90% of financial news readers expected leaders to communicate on social media when a crisis hits. 

Nearly 90% of employees and financial readers use social media every month compared to just 70% that use traditional media sources, according to Brunswick, adding to both the importance and risk of these platforms.

Executives can highlight what they want and control the narrative about their company in real-time, Arvind Malhotra, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina Kenan–Flagler Business School, said in an interview. There’s always a chance there will be people who disagree, or who use the platform to express grievances, he said. Even when the response is negative, executives who respond directly and honestly might still win more support than they lose.

“But this requires a communication style very different from a letter to shareholders in an annual report — if you’re not authentic you can turn people off rather than get them excited about the firm,” Malhotra said. 

(Updates with commentary in last two paragraphs.)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Watch Live: Maple Leafs’ Shanahan, Dubas, Keefe speak to media –



Update: This stream has ended.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history but another quick playoff exit. Now the team’s leaders will have to reconvene to navigate a complicated off-season with the goal of getting over the playoff hump.

Ahead of a busy summer, team president Brendan Shanahan, general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe will speak to the media.

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How a SIDS Study Became a Media Train Wreck – The Atlantic



Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, “will be a thing of the past,” according to Carmel Harrington, a sleep researcher at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, in Australia. A press release describes her new study, out this month, as a “game-changing” effort and a “world-first breakthrough” that could prevent future deaths from the tragic illness. Celebrations quickly spread on social media: “THEY FOUND THE CAUSE OF SIDS. Excuse me while I cry for all the parents,” one viral tweet declared. “Closest thing to a miracle in a long time,” said another. The press soon picked up the story. On Friday, a segment on Good Morning America touted Harrington’s “very, very important study” of SIDS, while a story in the New York Post promised that her data would “bring closure to countless parents who have endured the nightmare of losing a child.”

Sadly, these claims are quite absurd. The original research paper, published on May 6, described a small-scale but interesting project: Harrington and her colleagues measured activity levels of a protein called butyrylcholinesterase in dried blood collected from about 600 babies shortly after birth, including 26 who died from SIDS and 30 who went on to die from a different condition during their first two years of life. On average, those who died from SIDS had somewhat less butyrylcholinesterase activity in their blood than healthy newborns did. According to the study’s authors, this suggests that, with further work, the protein “could potentially be used as a biomarker to identify and prevent future SIDS deaths.” If that qualifies as a scientific “miracle,” the bar is inches from the ground.

Even after decades of research, SIDS remains “unexpected, dramatic, and devastating,” as three prominent doctors put it in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial published over the weekend. If researchers had really pinpointed a biological cause for these deaths—as some press reports have claimed—it would salve parents’ anxiety and might lead to future treatments. But one need only read the new paper in its entirety to see they haven’t reached this goal.

At best, the study represents an incremental advance. This is not meant to be an insult; science works in increments. But the numbers don’t suggest that a screening test for SIDS is really in the works, let alone one that will quickly end the scourge of infant deaths. The authors report that protein-activity levels were measured in a range of 1.7 to 23.3 units per milligram for healthy newborns, and from 2.9 to 10.8 for those who died of SIDS. Though the group averages were different overall (7.7 versus 5.6), individual values still overlapped a great deal. In other words, a low protein-activity level at birth could be found in a baby who might end up dying from SIDS, as well as one who would go on to live a healthy life.

I reached out to Harrington and her co-author Karen Waters, a professor of child and adolescent health at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, to ask about this issue, among others. Measuring the protein “will not work as a universal screening test, for precisely the reasons that you have highlighted,” Waters told me via email. Harrington said that their “finding represents the possibility for the future identification of infants at risk for SIDS” and that the study identifies “a measurable biochemical marker (not cause)” of the condition.

The confusing and controversial status of SIDS as a formal diagnosis adds to the uncertainty. SIDS is considered a “diagnosis of exclusion,” which means that it applies only when other causes have been carefully ruled out, and also that it is likely to comprise a number of different conditions. Some forensic pathologists have abandoned the diagnosis entirely on account of this ambiguity, James Gill, the chief medical examiner of Connecticut, told me. The authors of this month’s study did not have access to autopsy details for any of their subjects, and relied in most cases on a coroner’s assessment that SIDS had been the cause of death.

Even if it were possible to develop a screening test for SIDS, we might not want to use it. As a hospital pathologist myself—which is to say, as a doctor who specializes in diagnostic testing—I know that every form of screening makes mistakes. Sometimes, the benefits from these tools are worth the harm of an occasional error. Cervical-cancer screening, for example, greatly reduces deaths even though pap smears regularly lead to unhelpful results. But a wonky SIDS test would have catastrophic ill effects. A false positive result would terrify new parents. A false negative could lead them to abandon safe-sleeping practices—or far worse, make them seem at fault if SIDS did strike. Even true results might not be much help, because early-detection tests are only as good as the treatments we use in response to them. An aggressive campaign by pediatricians to promote safer sleep practices has caused the number of SIDS deaths to plummet since the 1990s. That campaign’s advice is already given out to everyone, and would not change on the basis of a blood test.

Given that no further interventions would be available for infants flagged as high-risk by a screening test for SIDS, I asked the authors whether it makes sense to measure babies in this way. Waters responded by citing the “fundamental principle” that you should not screen newborns for disease unless you can “affect the outcome for the child.” Harrington has suggested in an interview that the researchers “don’t know the shape of what the intervention will be at this stage.”

If the study’s findings were ambiguous, and its implications dubious, why did the research get so much attention in the media? Many outlets seemed impressed by its connection to The Lancet, founded in 1823, and one the world’s most prestigious medical journals. The SIDS paper did not actually appear in The Lancet, but rather in a lesser-known periodical called eBioMedicine, which happens to be published under The Lancet’s umbrella brand (along with more than 20 other journals). Media coverage glossed over that distinction, though, or ignored it altogether. (Good Morning America managed to combine the two journals’ names into a fictional publication called “eLancet.”) These errors are understandable; prominent Lancet branding on eBioMedicine’s website and web address make it easy to get confused, and journal editors sometimes take advantage of academic prestige to court media attention.

The study’s tenuous connection to The Lancet was just one small part of its appeal. More significant was Harrington’s own story: She’d lost her son to SIDS 29 years ago, and then watched as a friend lost a baby to the same ailment a few years later. Harrington spent the intervening decades trying to discover a way to prevent this tragedy for others. “I made a solemn resolution there and then to leave no stone unturned in my quest to solve the mystery of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” she wrote in a request to crowdfund her research that was first posted in August 2018. Before the study was published this month, the campaign hadn’t received a contribution since 2019; now donations have been pouring in. As of yesterday, the campaign had raised about $50,000, mostly in small increments. “Since we have published our research, I have continued to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the community,” Harrington told me.

There’s no shame in soliciting funds for a good cause, and Harrington’s scrappy effort to keep her research going could be seen to merit praise. But Harrington herself has linked improbable claims about the science to overt requests for money: “To get us there, we need a lot of funding,” she told an interviewer, moments after saying that she “knows” that SIDS will be eradicated in “three to five years’ time.” (The hospital, which manages the endeavor’s charitable account, lent credence to this accelerated time frame in its press release.) An article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Harrington making a plea for further backing: “We know what we have to do. It’s just actually getting the funding for it.” But the story, like numerous others, did not provide any appraisal of the research from independent experts, which would have helped inform potential donors. Harrington, in her email to me, reiterated her claim that screening tests and interventions “could be 3-5 years away” with appropriate funding.

Many outlets also neglected to mention the study’s known limitations, as described in the paper. In that context, the authors acknowledge that they examined relatively few subjects, and that the tested blood was more than two years old. Their results could, therefore, turn out quite differently if the technique were put into widespread practice. “There is a lot more work to be done before this can be heralded as a solution,” Waters told me in her email. “As we said in the paper, it offers new directions for research in the field.” Harrington told me that “this finding is only one bit of the puzzle and there is so much more to learn.”

Harrington’s personal accomplishments cannot be dismissed, even if new tests and treatments seem further away than she claims. Most of us never generate a speck of new scientific knowledge. To come back from tragedy, toil for decades, and then produce a promising approach for closer study … well, that may not be miraculous, but it matters all the same.

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