How to watch the Super Bowl in Canada

This Super Bowl Sunday, Canadians will have a handful of ways to watch the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons — and a choice of whether they want to see Canadian or U.S. advertising.

Watching on TV

For Canadians with cable TV, two options will be available: CTV and Fox.

CTV will simulcast the event on three English-language channels: CTV, CTV Two, and TSN. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET, and pre-game coverage begins on CTV at 11 a.m. ET.

The French-language broadcast of Super Bowl LI begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on RDS.

Viewers of CTV’s broadcasts will see the usual Canadian commercial spots substituted for big-budget American ads — although CTV is making those ads available for viewing online at BigGameAds.ca.

Complaints about ad substitution led Canada’s telecommunications regulator to allow the U.S. feed to broadcast in Canada without substitutions this year, a decision CTV owner Bell Media and the NFL are appealing.

As a result, Canadians with cable subscriptions to Fox will be able to watch the game on that channel, complete with U.S. advertising.

Watching online

Canadian viewers can stream the Super Bowl live from CTV.ca, or by using the CTV GO app on mobile phones or tablets.

Fox will stream the game online at FoxSportsGo.com, although that stream will only be available to users watching from the U.S. — or those using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to reroute their internet access through the U.S.

The numbers game

Bell Media clearly is clearly worried that Canadians could switch to Fox this year — the company is holding a “Watch to Win” contest with prizes for CTV viewers.

But Fox has the incredible spending power of American advertising on its side. This year, Fox charged between $5 million and $5.5 million US for a 30-second ad, according to a report in Variety. Big brands like Budweiser, Michelob, Intel, and KFC have all purchased spots.

If Bell Media wants to set a Super Bowl viewership record in Canada this year, it will need to beat its 2015 performance when an average of 9.2 million viewers tuned in to CTV or RDS to watch the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Last year, an average of 8.3 million viewers watched the big game on CTV and RDS, with 18.2 million unique viewers tuning in at some point.

In comparison, an average audience of 111.9 million people tuned in to CBS to watch the Super Bowl in the U.S. last year, according to Nielsen.

Canada taking ‘the opposite approach’ on refugees and immigration, says minister

The new federal immigration, refugee and citizenship minister says Canada will continue to take “the opposite approach” of countries like the United States when it comes to managing its borders and travel policy.

“As more and more countries are taking a different approach, of closing their borders, or not being open to new people or ideas, we’ve chosen the opposite approach, which is being open to ideas, being open to people, being open to talent, being open to skills and investments and we’ll continue to have that tradition,” Ahmed Hussen told CBC Radio’s The House.

On Jan. 27 U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily restricting entry to the U.S. for travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The restrictions are currently facing legal challenges in the U.S.

The day after Trump signed the executive order, a tweet by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his own message to those seeking to come to Canada, and it was very different than Trump’s. 

“To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength,” it read.

It’s been retweeted more than 427,000 times and was followed up with a photo showing Trudeau welcoming a newly arrived Syrian refugee child, with the hashtag “Welcome to Canada.”

“I think the prime minister expressed the clear sentiments of Canadians. It was an expression of our progressive tradition of being an open country, a welcoming country,” said Hussen, who came to Canada from Somalia as a refugee when he was a teenager.

Pushing programs

“We spread that message throughout the world, not just to one country. We have programs in place to attract and retain skilled immigrants and international students and we will work harder to do that. We will also continue to remain committed to being an open country to those seeking protection.”

But not everyone is gushing over Canada’s response.

Earlier this week NDP Leader Leader Tom Mulcair challenged the prime minister to clearly denounce Trump’s travel restrictions.

USA-TRUMP/

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by, from left, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence and Staff Secretary Rob Porter, signs his first executive orders at the White House in Washington. His 90-day travel ban affecting seven countries faces legal challenges at home and pushback internationally. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“The prime minister talks about the importance of standing up to intolerance and racism. So, why is he refusing to denounce this policy that breaches fundamental human rights and that will inevitably have consequences for Canada?” he asked in the House of Commons.

“My focus is on our own policies, to make sure that we continue to be a generous and compassionate country to refugees and asylum seekers,” Hussen responded.

While Hussen said Canada will continue to keep its doors open, he has already confirmed it will not hike its refugee intake target in the wake Trump’s travel crackdown in the U.S.

Canada’s 2017 immigration plan is to accommodate 40,000 refugees.

Working with U.S. counterparts

Hussen said his department is monitoring the story that a Canadian resident originally from Syria suddenly had his Nexus cards revoked, a week after Trump announced the executive order.

“We’re working very, very closely with our American counterparts. There is rightly some concern expressed by Canadians and permanent residents,” he said.

It’s unclear what will happen to people from the seven target countries travelling after the 90-day timeline is up, but there are likely to be a number of challenges to the order in the meantime. 

A U.S. judge on Friday temporarily blocked Trump’s ban after Washington state and Minnesota urged a nationwide hold on the executive order that has seen legal battles launched across the country.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled against government lawyers’ claims that the states did not have the standing to challenge Trump’s order and said they showed their case was likely to succeed.

Hussen said Canada is following the legal challenges.

“We have monitoring capacity to make sure we’re always on top of any new developments,” Hussen said.    

Judge reserves decision in Elliot Lake mall collapse trial for almost 6 months

Closing submissions have finished in the trial of Robert Wood.

The former engineer gave the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., a clean bill of health just 10 weeks before a portion of its rooftop parking deck caved in and killed two women on June 23, 2012. 

Now it is up to Justice Edward Gareau to decide if Wood failed to do the job he was hired for when he visually inspected the building in 2009 and 2012 — and if Jean-Marie Marceau, 80, was severely injured, and Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, were killed as a result. 

“I know the families of Ms. Aylwin and Ms. Perizzolo would want me to come back on Monday … I know Mr. Wood would want that as well,” Gareau said on Friday.  

“I hope that every one will understand and, at least, respect the fact that I’m going to need some time to review and digest this.” 

Gareau set July 25 as the date he will deliver his verdict.

‘All in his hands now’

Gareau also set aside April 19 for defence lawyer Robert MacRae to have a charter application heard to stay Wood’s charges. 

MacRae is arguing it took too long for his client to get a trial. 

Wood was arrested for two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm on Jan. 31, 2014 — exactly three years before closing arguments began.

Wood has pleaded not guilty to all three charges. 

Aylwin’s father Rejean has been making back-and-forth, three-and-a-half-hour drives from Sudbury, Ont., to where the trial is taking place in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“Right now the Crown had really good points, and also Mr. MacRae had really good points,” Aylwin said.

“So we got to see what the judge is going to decide. That’s all in his hands now.”

Aylwin said the testimony he’s heard in court is comparable to what was said in the Elliot Lake Inquiry, which was launched to find the cause of the disaster and to prevent it from reoccurring.

Still, it is not easy for Aylwin to hear about all the problems that led to his daughter’s death. 

“If he [Wood] would’ve done a proper job, probably that [collapse] would never happen,” Aylwin said. 

“But it’s too late now. That happened.”

Rejean Aylwin

Rejean Aylwin spoke to reporters after closing submissions concluded on Friday in former engineer Robert Wood’s trial. Aylwin’s daugher Lucie, 37, was killed in the 2012 Algo Centre Mall collapse. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

‘Negligent, but not criminally negligent’

Superior Court heard from nearly 50 witnesses over the five month long trial.

One engineering expert told the court it is conceivable that someone in his profession would lack the judgment to find severe corrosion in the shopping centre, and that would not be out of malice, but rather poor judgment. 

“He could’ve still concluded the mall was safe,” Gareau said referring to the witness’s statement. “It’s negligent, but not criminally negligent.”

Crown prosecutor David Kirk took Gareau’s point, but said Wood did not even do his job. 

“If he [Wood] had … Described it [mall] for what it was and made a poor judgement call, we’re not here. No one’s here,” Kirk said.

“But that’s not the evidence that you [Gareau] have before you. There’s ample evidence to the contrary.”

During the Crown’s closing arguments on Friday, Kirk compared Wood’s structural assessments of the mall to the conditions described in a forensic analysis report on the roof’s failure, and said Wood was “clearly wrong” that he only observed surface rust before the collapse.

“Everything [in the report] was listed as severe to very severe,” Kirk said.

“How can he [Wood] call this surface rust?”

Robert MacRae

Defence lawyer Robert MacRae is trying to stay criminal negligence charges against former engineer Robert Wood because his client has waited almost three years to get a trial. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Lack of notes, lack of action?

Wood testified earlier in his trial that he only observed surface rust at the Algo Centre Mall.

Wood also said he did not inspect the area of the building that eventually collapsed during his 2012 inspection because he did not believe the conditions he saw needed further examination, and he said he was told mall staff were planning repairs.

Wood was “misled” by the mall’s owner on the history of the structure’s leakage, according to defence lawyer Robert MacRae who noted the 33-year-old building had been leaking since the day it was built.

Along with not spotting the problems that led to the mall’s failure, Kirk also took aim at Wood for poor note-taking. Wood lost or did not take enough notes, Kirk said.

“When you don’t report on it, no one can act on it,” Kirk said about the mall’s safety issues.

“No one can take any steps.” 

At the end of his remarks, Kirk looked at Gareau and told him he has a hard job.

Gareau then looked down and shook his head. 

Whites risk marginalization, mosque shooting suspect told friend a day before attack

Alexandre Bissonnette expressed fears during a Facebook exchange that the white race would be marginalized by immigration, the day before he was arrested in connection with the massacre at a Quebec City mosque, says a friend of the shooting suspect.

Crown prosecutors charged Bissonnette with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder on Monday, but neither the Crown nor police have released any information about the suspect’s motives. 

Former classmates and friends have described Bissonnette as gradually developing far-right views, though many say they lost contact with him in the months before the shooting.

However, Martin Robin, who met Bissonnette in 2014 at Laval University, said they interacted frequently on Facebook, including on the night before the shooting.

During their online conversation that Saturday, Robin recalled asking his friend what he thought about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily ban entry to travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“He told me he just wanted white immigration to Canada and Quebec, exclusively,” Robin told CBC News on Friday.

“He told me that in the long run, this non-white, non-European immigration may perhaps lead to the marginalization of whites. That’s pretty much what struck me and what keeps popping up in my mind.”

Martin Robin

Martin Robin says he had a Facebook conversation with Bissonnette the night before the shooting. (Jonathan Montpetit/CBC)

Robin showed CBC News his Facebook account and an exchange with someone called Alexandre Bissonnette. Only Robin’s side of the conversation is visible.

Bissonnette’s side reads: “This message has been temporarily suppressed because the account of the sender requires verification.”

A Facebook account that is believed to have belonged to Bissonnette was removed from the social networking site just hours before he was formally charged on Monday. 

In response to Bissonnette’s alleged comments, Robin said he told his friend that he was “crazy.”

Met police investigators

Since Sunday’s shooting, Robin has met with investigators from the Quebec provincial police and RCMP. He said they were seeking to find out if the suspect had received any support carrying out the attack. 

“He had no help of any organization. Of that, I’m 100 per cent certain,” Robin said of Bissonnette’s alleged involvement. 

Legal observers have speculated that ties to an organization are a necessary condition for laying terrorism-related charges, which Bissonnette is not facing, so far.

Robin also said he is good friends with Bissonnette’s twin brother, Mathieu. The twins lived together in a Sainte-Foy apartment not far from the mosque Alexandre is accused of attacking. 

Robin said he also had a Facebook exchange with Mathieu Bissonnette on the weekend of the shooting. 

Martin Robin Facebook page

This image from Robin’s Facebook account is part of his exchange with Bissonnette. The text highlighted in yellow reads, in French: ‘This message has been temporarily suppressed because the account of the sender requires verification.’ (Jonathan Montpetit)

They, too, discussed Trump’s travel ban. Their exchange took place on Sunday night.

As the news began to circulate, Robin asked Mathieu if he had heard about the shooting, given the proximity of the mosque to his apartment.

“Yes, I saw it on the news,” Mathieu Bissonnette replied. “But it’s not in front of my place. It’s all quiet here.”

Later that night, Mathieu asked Robin if police knew “who committed the crime.” When it emerged the following day that Mathieu’s brother had been arrested, Robin wrote to offer his support. 

Mathieu did not reply. Robin said he has not heard from him since Sunday night.

Northern Ontario cat gets international attention for saving trapped man

A cat on Manitoulin Island, Ont. is receiving international attention for alerting her owner to calls for help from a neighbour.

The “hero cat” named Ivy, who was adopted from a shelter by 72-year-old Mary Johnston, has been featured in the magazine Woman’s World and the local newspaper wants to get her nominated for the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

In October, Johnston, who lives in the tiny community of Tehkummah (its population is 400), said she was sitting in her living room reading when her two-year-old cat Ivy started making a fuss.

“Ivy will usually lay on my couch next to my chair,” she said.

“She got antsy, and was back and forth between the window and the couch several times, which wasn’t her habit.”

Johnston said Ivy finally became frustrated and jumped into her lap.

That’s when Johnston noticed a sound coming from outside.

“I heard what I thought was a cat in distress, that deep growl sort of noise they make.”

Johnston went outside and followed the sound to her neighbour Eric Russell’s barn. When she entered, she found him stuck four metres in the air.

Russell had been standing on a ladder fixing his garage door when a spring let go, trapping his arm.

Sounds of distress ‘bothered’ Ivy

Johnston rushed to get Russell’s wife.

“Betty called 911 and the first alert fellows came along. They got Eric out of there. He had quite a bit of damage to his arm and nerves,” she said.

Johnston said doctors told Russell if he hadn’t gotten out when he did, he could have lost his arm.

“Cats have much better hearing than humans. I think she heard these sounds of distress and it bothered her. So she figured I should do something about it.”

To thank Ivy for saving him, Russell has showered the cat with gifts, including a new cat tree and a basket of cat goodies at Christmas.

“I’ve had a lot of ribbing about it, that’s for sure,” Johnston said. “The joke is we’re going to erect a statue to Ivy downtown.”

“She’s quite famous,” Johnston said.

Click below to hear Johnston tell her story to CBC’s northern Ontario afternoon show Up North.

‘Hope in a bottle’: Why diet supplements billed as natural may not always be safe

Popular weight-loss supplements containing green tea extract could be dangerous to your liver, an investigation by CBC’s Marketplace reveals.

The supplements — which are licensed by Health Canada as “safe and effective” — are available over the counter at many popular retailers, including health stores and pharmacies.

But Marketplace discovered more than 60 documented cases worldwide of liver failure associated with green tea supplements reported in peer-reviewed journals.

At least two deaths have been partially linked to taking the pills.

“The risks are there and they are real,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Herbert Bonkovsky, who has co-authored professional guidelines on green tea extracts and liver damage.

“People should not assume that because they are marketed as natural products that they are safe.”

The market for weight management and well-being products in Canada is estimated to be worth about $304 million US a year, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Browsing through the shelves of a pharmacy will reveal multiple weight-loss supplements containing green tea extract, with packaging that promises to “increase your fat burning ability,” help “temporarily boost metabolic rate” and claim to be “clinically shown to promote fat oxidation.”

Brewed beverage vs. extract

Joyce Boudreau-Hearn, from Mulgrave, N.S., died of complications from liver failure in 2010 after multiple transplants led to infection.

Her daughter, Jocelyn Stewart, says the 55-year-old had been healthy before she started taking a green tea extract sold as a weight-loss supplement.

“It says green tea extract — most of us link that to healthy,” says Stewart. “Everybody buys a green tea; you can buy it anywhere.

“You think you will lose a few pounds. She lost her life.”

Joyce Boudreau-Hearn

Joyce Boudreau-Hearn died of complications from liver failure at age 55 after multiple transplants led to infection. Her daughter says the Nova Scotia woman was healthy before she started taking a green tea extract sold as a weight-loss supplement.

Green tea contains catechins, a type of antioxidant. And concentrated green tea extracts contain catechins at much higher levels than are found in the brewed version of the popular drink.

As the saying goes, there can be too much of a good thing. So while green tea is often regarded as good for you, Bonkovsky says green tea extract can be dangerous for some people at high doses.

Bonkovsky, along with other experts, isn’t exactly certain why the extracts can affect some people’s livers and not others. But generally he says high doses can pose a danger to the liver.   

“If you take enough of it, it can kill you,” Bonkovsky says.

Health Canada review

While adverse cases may be rare, the link between green tea extract and liver damage has been known for years. In 2003, France and Spain banned a green tea extract called Exolise after it was linked to liver damage.

‘If something is really difficult and we don’t have terrific treatments for them, then the pharmacies and other places will be filled with these fake medications …’ – Dr. Sean Wharton, internal medicine specialist

Unlike prescription drugs, most natural health products don’t require clinical trials to show they are safe and effective in order to be licensed by Health Canada.

Health Canada says the risk to your liver from green tea extract is rare, but the agency does require a warning on product packaging, which must state: “Consult a health-care practitioner prior to use if you have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble (such as abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice).”

Marketplace has learned that the agency is currently conducting a safety review of liver injury associated with all green tea extracts. A report is expected in March.

Questions about effectiveness

In addition to the potential for liver damage, there is a lack of solid evidence proving that the supplements are effective.

Marketplace looked at the research Health Canada used to determine that green tea extract products are effective treatments for weight management.

To evaluate the studies, Marketplace turned to McMaster University epidemiologist Jason Busse, who found the research couldn’t determine whether green tea actually contributed to weight loss.

“All the studies have important limitations that preclude any confident conclusion that green tea preparations reduce weight,” Busse says.

Green tea extract capsule - Marketplace

Health Canada says the risk to your liver from green tea extract is rare, but the agency does require a warning on product packaging. (CBC)

This comes as no surprise to Dr. Sean Wharton, the medical director of several publicly funded weight-loss clinics. He describes weight-loss supplements as “hope in a bottle.”

“If something is really difficult and we don’t have terrific treatments for them, then the pharmacies and other places will be filled with these fake medications to try to give people fake hope in an area where people are looking for an answer,” he says.

Health Canada is also in the process of changing how natural products are licensed, and what claims they can make, after a 2015 Marketplace investigation showed problems with the current licensing system.

For that investigation, Marketplace submitted a made-up homeopathic children’s cold and fever remedy to Health Canada, where it was approved and licensed as “safe and effective” without any scientific evidence.

Debate over daylight time continues as most of Canada springs forward this weekend

This weekend, many Canadians will have to trade some sleep for sunlight.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. 

At 2 a.m. Sunday, clocks in most of the country will spring forward an hour into daylight time, also known as daylight saving time. 

The early morning time change is meant to minimize disruptions to daily life. There’s ample evidence, though, that disruptions abound, especially in the first few days after the clocks move ahead.

“Daylight saving time is a public health issue in many ways,” said University of Montreal psychiatry professor Roger Godbout. 

“It has an effect on some peoples’ sleep patterns and their internal clocks, which then, of course, has other consequences.”

The early advocates of daylight time could never have foreseen all of the unintended effects — such as higher rates of heart attacks and increases in traffic and workplace accidents.

Celebrated statesmen and inventor Benjamin Franklin first floated the idea in an essay published in the Journal of Paris in 1784. Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, focused mainly on conserving candles in the morning hours, but it’s been suggested the essay was a sly commentary on the penchant of some in the French court for sleeping-in. 

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States whose likeness now adorns the $100 US bill, wrote about the concept of daylight saving in a 1784 essay. At face value, the work was about conserving candles, but some scholars think it might have been satire. (Fablok/Shutterstock)

New Zealand entomologist George Hudson started promoting the idea in 1895, partly with the hope he’d have more daylight hours to study insects in the field. 

Daylight saving time was eventually adopted by Germany in 1916 as a way of conserving coal and fuel during the First World War. The U.S., Britain and Canada followed suit soon after. 

But some parts of Canada have held out. Most of Saskatchewan, as well as communities in B.C., northwestern Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut shun daylight time.

That may be the wiser choice, says Godbout. While the spring forward that comes in March is generally thought to be more stressful than the “falling back” to standard time in early November, research indicates that any periodic shift in time can have an effect on the body and on road safety, especially.

That has fuelled debate over whether the practice is worthwhile. A March 2013 telephone survey of 1,000 adults by Rasmussen Reports in the U.S., for example, found that 45 per cent of people thought it wasn’t worth it to change the clocks, and 19 per cent were unsure.

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There is a growing movement south of the border to either keep daylight time year-round or abandon it entirely. Legislation has been proposed by lawmakers in Oregon, Michigan, Utah, New Mexico, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, South Dakota and Alaska.

There’s also growing criticism in some western European countries.

Here are some facts and figures that might help you decide whether you’re for or against the bi-annual time changes.

Heart attacks and strokes

A study presented to the American College of Cardiology in March 2014, based on data collected from Michigan hospitals between 2010 and 2013, indicated that the number of patients admitted for heart attacks spiked 25 per cent on the Monday immediately after clocks sprang forward for daylight saving time (the first day when the average person had to get up an hour earlier for work). The study’s authors were careful to note that they had not proved a definitive link to the time change itself or changes in sleep patterns.

sleep disorder apnea

The jump ahead that comes before the spring equinox is generally thought to have more negative impacts on sleep patterns and health than the fall back that comes in November. (Getty Images)

A 2012 study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that springing forward by an hour was associated with a 10 per cent increase in the risk of heart attack over the following 48 hours, but it also did not pinpoint the reason. The study found a corresponding 10 per cent decrease in heart attack risk over the 48 hours after people “fall back” and gain an extra sleeping hour in the fall.

A Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 found a higher incidence of heart attacks — approximately a seven per cent increase — in the first three weekdays after the clocks spring forward, which researchers did attribute to a lack of sleep. They also noted a similar decrease in the incidence of heart attacks when the clocks fall back. The information was based on Swedish records collected over a 20-year period.

Earlier this month, Finnish doctors at the University of Turku reported that they found an eight per cent increase in the rate of ischemic strokes, caused by a clot blocking blood flow to the brain, in the two days after the jump to daylight time. The team analyzed data from 15,000 patients admitted to hospital over a decade in Finland. The rate was highest among seniors and patients with cancer. Researchers cautioned, though, the study did not demonstrate a definitive link between the time shift and this kind of stroke. They will present their study at a conference in Vancouver in April. 

Road and pedestrian safety

The time change has also been associated with an increase in road-related accidents.

For example, after the clocks were moved forward an hour on Sunday in spring 2014, there was a 20 per cent increase in crashes on Manitoba roads on the Monday compared to all other Mondays that year, according to Manitoba Public Insurance.

‘We live in a society that is chronically sleep-deprived, and very bad things happen when chronic sleep deprivation is an issue. – Stanley Coren, UBC sleep expert

An October 2014 study by the University of Colorado (Boulder) looked at records of fatal car crashes in the United States. It noted a 17 per cent rise in traffic accident-related deaths on the Monday after clocks moved forward an hour in the spring. The increase in fatal crashes lasted about a week.

Those findings are similar to the results of research at the University of British Columbia.

“We live in a society that is chronically sleep-deprived, and very bad things happen when chronic sleep deprivation is an issue,” UBC sleep expert Stanley Coren told CBC News in a 2013 interview.

“Looking at different types of accidents, we found a five to seven per cent increase in accident fatalities during the three days following spring daylight saving time.”

drowsy driving

Researchers say drivers need to make sure they are alert after the clocks change, warning that the shift from drowsy to asleep can happen more quickly than people think, posing a serious danger on the roads. (Radio-Canada/SAAQ)

However, drivers also need to pay extra attention after the fall time change, according to U.S. research. 

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 2007 found that the time switch seems to have an impact on the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles.

People walking during rush hour in the first few weeks after the clocks fall back in the autumn were more than three times as likely to be fatally struck by cars than before the change. Time of day was cited as a factor in the findings — there was no significant difference in pedestrian accidents at noon, but the number rose around 6 p.m. after clocks had been moved back an hour.

The researchers, who looked at seven years of U.S. traffic statistics, also found there was a decrease in pedestrian deaths in the evening when clocks spring forward.

It isn’t sleep issues or the darkness per se that increases the number of deaths in the fall, the researchers suggested. Rather, it’s that drivers and pedestrians have spent the previous months getting used to the light conditions and don’t immediately adjust their behaviour to account for less light during morning rush hour.

Still, UBC’s Coren said daylight time does save lives in the long run. 

“People die during the period directly following the spring shift, but traffic accident data show that accidents occur much more during the dark or lower illumination than during daylight hours,” he said.

“Over the time that daylight saving time is in effect, people get up and return home while the highways are brighter. This occurs over a period of months, so although daylight saving time causes an initial hazard, in the end there is a life-saving benefit.”

Canadian insurance company RSA has compiled a number of tips aimed at helping drivers reduce accidents after the clocks change:

  • Make sure you’re alert at all times and never drive while overtired. The shift from drowsy to asleep can happen more quickly than people think.
  • Ensure all interior lights are off in the car and that onboard navigation devices are dimmed so the bright lights don’t distract you.
  • Be aware of all drivers on the road. Just because you’re wide awake and focused doesn’t mean that your fellow drivers are as well. Be aware of swaying between lanes and abrupt stops.

Daylight and disorders

Although most people are able to adjust biologically to springing forward and falling back, those who suffer from sleep and psychological conditions have a much harder time.

Much of the treatment of insomnia, for example, involves getting people onto a regular sleep schedule and the time change can throw that off, according to Judith Davidson, an adjunct assistant professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“They always take a long time to fall asleep, but it’s a bit accentuated by the spring time-change,” said Davidson, who treats people for insomnia at the Kingston Family Health Centre.

That can mean several days or even a week of poor sleep.

Daylight time can also impact those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, says Godbout. 

“It’s not caused by going forward or falling back, but the nervous system can have a problem adapting to different periods of sunlight exposure,” he said.

“It can induce hormonal changes that make sleep more difficult. And then sleep deprivation puts you at higher risk of things like diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Whether you sleep soundly or not, some tips for coping with time changes include:

  • Eat healthy and make sure you have a good breakfast, since mealtimes can act as a trigger to help your body readjust.
  • Don’t nap, it will only disturb your internal clock. 
  • Stay hydrated. Avoid caffeinated beverages, since too much caffeine can further disrupt your natural sleep rhythm.
  • Stay away from alcohol in the evening and at night. It causes fragmented sleep. 
  • Drivers should be extra alert — pull over if you’re driving and feel drowsy. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep. Opening the window or turning up the radio are not effective ways to stay awake.

Many places don’t use it

Daylight saving time is used in only about 70 countries worldwide, primarily in North American and Europe (that number fluctuates as some countries have experimented with it several times before doing away with it). Complicating matters, some jurisdictions within those countries have not adopted it. In the U.S., for example, Arizona and Hawaii don’t observe daylight time. 

In the past, most of the nations of South America used daylight time, but the majority have since abandoned it. It is largely unnecessary at or near the equator, because the length of each day remains the same or varies by just a small amount.

As of October last year, only Brazil and Paraguay were still springing forward and falling back. 

The vast majority of countries in Africa and Asia don’t use daylight saving time, with a few notable exceptions, such as Mongolia, where it was reintroduced last year.

Joseph Stalin

In the spring of 1930, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered clocks to be moved ahead one hour across the Soviet Union. But come fall, he didn’t order them turned back, so clocks across the USSR were an hour out of sync with other countries that observed DST, at least for part of the year, for nearly 61 years. (Hulton Archive/Getty)

The history of daylight saving time is especially interesting in Russia. According to National Geographic, the iron-fisted dictator Joseph Stalin ordered the former Soviet Union to move clocks ahead in the spring of 1930 but “forgot” to order the clocks turned back in the late fall. 

“So, the clocks in every Russian time zone were off by an hour for 61 years,” scholar and author Michael Downing told the magazine. 

The error was finally fixed in 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 

The cost of an hour?

There have been a number of attempts to estimate the potential costs of daylight saving time, factoring in everything from health care costs to the time spent resetting the clocks in millions of households twice a year.

One such effort by the data science firm Chmura Economics & Analytics suggests daylight time costs the U.S. about $434 million per year, based on 2010 population figures.

When the U.S was still considering extending the daylight saving period by two months (which it eventually did with a 2005 bill), the group that represents U.S.-based airlines estimated the move would cost the industry about $147 million to sync operations with foreign carriers. 

Planning ahead

If you want to mark your calendar now so that you don’t get caught off-guard by the next time change, here’s the schedule through 2019:

  • 2017: Spring forward Sunday, March 12 at 2 a.m. Fall back Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 a.m.
  • 2018: Spring forward Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m. Fall back Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2 a.m.
  • 2019: Spring forward Sunday, March 10 at 2 a.m. Fall back Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2 a.m.

Oldest evidence of life on Earth found in Canadian rocks

Rocks from northern Labrador have been found to contain the oldest known evidence of life on Earth.

Graphite — a form of pure carbon — found in the 3.95-billion-year-old rocks shows the geochemical signature of having come from the decomposition of living organisms, researchers report in a new study published today in Nature.

That’s at least 150 million years older than the oldest graphite from living organisms previously found in 3.7 billion to 3.8 billion-year-old rocks in Greenland and northern Quebec.

It’s also not much more than 500 million years after the Earth formed, about 4.5 billion years ago.

Some of the signatures in the Labrador rocks suggests that the organisms that left them were autotrophic — that is, they could produce their own food from chemicals in their environment, as algae and some kinds of bacteria do — report researchers led by Takayuki Tashiro and Tsuyoshi Komiya at the University of Tokyo.

Abundant early life?

The discovery “suggests not only that there may have been life, but there may have been abundant enough life that you could get carbon-rich sediments,” said Beth Ann Bell, a geochemist at the University of California Los Angeles who was not involved in the study, but called the findings “pretty cool.”

集合写真Nulliak Island2

The research was led by Takayuki Tashiro and Tsuyoshi Komiya of the University of Tokyo. Komiya is pictured here on an earlier expedition to Labrador. The team specifically thanked the Parks Canada bear monitors who protected them during their fieldwork. (Tsuyoshi Komiya/University of Tokyo)

It adds to evidence that the Earth at that time had surface water and other conditions to support life, and wasn’t as hot and as inhospitable as scientists used to think, said Daniele Pinti, a geochemist at the University of Quebec at Montreal. He was also not involved in the study, but supervised one of the co-authors, Pauline Mejean, during her PhD in Canada.

Pinti said that researchers have been increasingly interested in the rocks of the Uivak Gneiss in the Saglek Block of northern Labrador in recent years because they contain some of the oldest rocks on the surface of the Earth.

Such old rocks are very rare because the Earth’s crust is constantly being recycled back into the planet’s interior through a process called plate tectonics.

The Labrador rocks are likely a small patch that remains from a very ancient continent, Pinti said: “It’s a very special place.”

Ancient water

Because such rocks are so rare, very little is known about the Earth at that time, although it’s known that the interior of the Earth was much hotter than it is now, and there is some evidence of liquid water on the surface.

“Were there ponds? Were there oceans? That’s uncertain,” Bell said.

Graphite

A microscope image shows some of the graphite found in the rocks contained a chemical signature from living organisms. (Tashiro et al./Nature)

What makes the Labrador rocks particularly special is that they are the oldest known metasedimentary rocks in the world. That is, they were originally formed from sediments deposited by water — the type of environment that decaying organic remains often end up in, said Bell.

The “meta” part of the word indicates that the rocks have been “metamorphosed” or transformed by heat and pressure over time: “They’ve been cooked pretty well,” Bell explains.

That makes them harder to analyze, but not impossible.

Light graphite

Graphite, the dark substance found in pencil “leads,” can be formed from chemical reactions of inorganic minerals such as limestone. But it can also be formed when decaying organic matter gets heated up to several hundred degrees.

Scientists can tell the difference by looking at the type of carbon found in the graphite. Carbon atoms come in different “isotopes” or forms with different masses — carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14 (which you may have heard of because it’s used in radiocarbon dating). Carbon-12 is the most common, and the kind that organisms tend to disproportionately take into their bodies. That means graphite that comes from living things tends to be lighter than graphite from inorganic sources.

Map

A map shows the locations in northern Labrador where the rock samples were collected. (Tsuyoshi Komiya/University of Tokyo/Nature)

To figure out whether graphite came from a living or non-living source, researchers use instruments to compare the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13.

Of course, things get more complicated when the graphite has been exposed to heat and pressure, which can change the carbon ratios. There’s also the possibility that the rocks could have become contaminated in the nearly four billion years after they were formed.

But the researchers took great pains to test for contamination, account for the exposure to heat and pressure, and extrapolate back the original ratios, Pinti said.

“For the moment, it looks very convincing,” he added.

Bell said she’s also “pretty convinced.”

Labrador rocks

Rocks as old as the ones in Labrador are extremely rare because the Earth’s crust is constantly being recycled through plate tectonics. (Tsuyoshi Komiya/University of Tokyo)

Pinti said one interesting thing about the carbon signature is that it can indicate not just whether the graphite came from living organisms, but what kind of metabolism those organisms had.

The researchers write that the ratio found in one sample “provides the oldest evidence for autotrophs” — organisms that can produce their own food, either through photosynthesis or by using inorganic compounds such as sulphur in their environment. In this case, the organisms appear to use a metabolic pathway similar to modern microbes that turn carbon dioxide into methane and acetate.

And they say their work could be relevant to places beyond our own planet that may have harsher environments than today’s Earth.

“The discovery … will provide insight into early life not only on Earth but also on other planets.”