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New B.C. veterans centre, using music to help with PTSD: In The News for Nov. 10

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 10 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The project lead for a new non-profit centre for veterans in B.C. says a former Canadian soldier who survived being struck in the head with an axe during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2006, inspired the $312-million complex, which was conceptualized in 2015 and broke ground in 2019.

The Legion Veterans Village Centre for Excellence in Surrey, B.C. is set to open next winter, and will host clinical research studies into rehabilitation and brain health, including post-traumatic stress disorder and other neurological conditions that impact veterans, police officers, paramedics and firefighters.

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Led by the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Whalley Legion Branch 229 and Lark Group, it will also provide affordable housing, market housing and legion facilities.

Rowena Rizzotti, project lead of the Legion Veterans Village, says its goal is to address challenges first responders and veterans face and provide all necessary health care in one location.

Veteran Trevor Greene has taken on an advisory role at the centre, saying his experience of trying to navigate treatment after a life-threatening injury, combined with post-traumatic stress, will help provide the framework for veterans to receive the car and support they need to recover, something he says was missing from his treatment plan over the past 16 years.

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“PTSD is exhausting physically, psychologically and mentally,” he says. “I’m giving the benefit of my experience and my perspective.”

Rizzotti says the centre is needed more now than it was when it was conceptualized six years ago, citing the ongoing opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic as the drivers for more mental health supports for first responders.

“We intend to be a single place where veterans and first responders can go and where we can support them on their journey. We plan to link with other partners locally, provincially and nationally (because) we want to bring this entire community together.”

Also this …

An Afghanistan war veteran says it took being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to appreciate the healing qualities of music.

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Dennis MacKenzie was diagnosed soon after finishing up a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan in 2007, and says he’s tried several therapies since being medically discharged by the Canadian military in 2013. But he noticed a personal change when he got serious about learning music theory.

In the years after his release from the military, the Bonshaw, P.E.I., resident tried just about everything to help quell an inner conflict that has made it hard to keep a job and led to a period where he needed alcohol just to function.

“I can’t even count how many therapies,” MacKenzie said. “From clinical eye movement desensitization and reprocessing-type therapies, all the way to yoga and breath work, you name it. The biggest thing for me has been music. I’m using it as a means to release what’s inside.”

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A large step in that expression is the release Wednesday of his first album, “The Guardian Angel Platoon,” available through Bandcamp, Spotify and theGuardianAngelPlatoon.com.

Calling it a concept album meant to highlight issues such as the suicide rate among veterans, MacKenzie said he wants to draw attention to the problem, while honouring those lost to the “invisible wounds of war.”

MacKenzie said proceeds from the album, which comes with a small metal lantern pin symbolizing the issue, will be used to fund and create music therapy programs for veterans.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

General Electric will divide itself into three public companies focused on aviation, health care and energy, a breakup that is the culmination of a long reshaping of a symbol of American manufacturing might that could signal the end of conglomerates as a whole.

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Nick Heymann at William Blair said the conglomerate model no longer works in a marketplace in which only the quick and agile survive.

“It’s over now,” said Heymann, who has followed GE for years. “In a digital economy, there’s no real room for it.”

The company has already rid itself of the products most Americans know, including its appliances last year and the light bulbs that GE had been making since the late 19th century when the company was founded.

The announcement Tuesday marks the final stage, divvying up an empire created in the 1980s under Jack Welch, one of America’s first CEO “superstars.”

GE’s stock became one of the most sought after on Wall Street under Welch, routinely outperforming peers and the broader market. Through the 1990s, it returned 1,120.6 per cent on investments. GE’s revenue grew nearly fivefold during Welch’s tenure, and the company’s value increased 30-fold.

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Yet the stock began to lag in the summer of 2001, the waning days of Welch’s rule. As the decade came to a close, GE was struck by near ruin with the arrival of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. General Electric’s vulnerabilities were laid bare and the epicentre was GE Capital, the company’s financial wing.

GE’s aviation unit, it’s most profitable, will keep General Electric in the name. GE will spin off its health care business in early 2023 and its energy segment, including renewable energy, power and digital operations in early 2024.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading back to COP26 to press negotiators from around the world to “turn promises into action” in the summit’s closing days.

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Johnson attended a world leaders’ summit that kicked off the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow last week, and will return to the Scottish city Wednesday.

So far the conference has produced headline-grabbing announcements in areas including ending coal power, funding green technology and reversing deforestation. But the almost 200 nations attending remain far from sealing a deal that could limit global warming to the internationally agreed goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Meanwhile, a United Nations analysis of the latest national climate pledges indicates the talks made “some serious toddler steps” toward cutting emissions but far from the giant leaps needed to limit global warming to internationally accepted goals.

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The new analysis found that the commitments from the last week weren’t enough to trim future warming scenarios and reduced the “emissions gap” by a few tenths of a percentage point.

To get to the 2015 Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, the world can only emit 12.5 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2030. The latest pledges have the world on track for 51.5 billion metric tonnes by 2030, down from 53 billion metric tonnes before the talks began.

On this day in 1979 …

A Canadian Pacific freight train carrying deadly combustible chemicals derailed in the heart of Mississauga, Ont. Deadly chlorine gas leaked from a punctured tanker and caused an evacuation that affected 220,000 people, most of the city’s population. No lives were lost in the largest single movement of people in Canada in peacetime.

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In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — The Netflix TV series “Squid Game” will be back for a second season, even though most TV shows in South Korea run for just one.

But due to the show’s global success, its creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk said, “I almost feel like you leave us no choice.”

The series, starring Lee Jung-jae as Seong GI-hun and others in an ensemble cast, centres on people who are so desperate for money that they agree to take part in a series of schoolyard games with a deadly twist. The dystopian survival drama from South Korea is said to have become Netflix’s biggest-ever TV show.

The series, starring Lee Jung-jae as Seong GI-hun and others in the ensemble cast, centres on people who are so desperate for money that they agree to take part in a series of schoolyard games with a deadly twist.

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The dystopian survival drama from South Korea is said to have become Netflix’s biggest-ever TV show and with that success has come global recognition for its stars.

The lead actor, Lee Jung-jae has been working in Korea for over 25 years.

Now his life has changed because he’s also recognized on the streets of America.

He says it’s amazing and it’s great to be able to meet the fans who have loved and watched the show so much.

ICYMI …

LONDON — Britain’s telecommunications regulator says thousands of iconic red phone booths will be protected from removal under new rules.

The public pay phone boxes may appear obsolete relics to many in an age of ubiquitous smart mobile phones, but regulator Ofcom said they can still be a “lifeline” for people in need. The regulator is proposing rules to prevent 5,000 phone boxes in areas with poor mobile coverage from being closed down.

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Ofcom said Tuesday that boxes in areas considered accident or suicide hotspots would also be eligible for protection. Phone company BT says more than 6,500 unused call boxes have so far been converted into mini community libraries, art galleries or storage units for public defibrillators.

Ofcom said there are still around 21,000 phone boxes across the country, and that almost 150,000 calls to emergency services were made from phone boxes from May 2019 to May 2020. Some 45,000 calls were also made to other helplines like the Samaritans.

“Some of the call boxes we plan to protect are used to make relatively low numbers of calls. But if one of those calls is from a distressed child, an accident victim or someone contemplating suicide, that public phone line can be a lifeline at a time of great need,” said Selina Chadha, Ofcom’s director of connectivity.

“We also want to make sure that people without mobile coverage, often in rural areas, can still make calls.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2021

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