World Cup GOAT Messi, random violence and COVID in China

World Cup GOAT Messi, random violence and COVID in China

Attacks shock Canadians while Ukraine and Russia remain far apart and columnists take different approaches to hopes for the season

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In the sporting world, the week began with jubilation in Argentina and sorrow in France on Sunday as Lionel Messi led his side to victory in what Postmedia’s Derek Van Diest called “the greatest final to give the greatest player in the game his FIFA World Cup title.” With the win, Messi will go down in history as one of the greatest men’s footballers of all time. The World Cup was the only major trophy that eluded him. With the World Cup in his rearview mirror, Van Diest concedes that Qatar have managed to put together a well-planned and well-executed event. Alphonso Davies, who helped Canada make it back to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and scored the country’s first goal at the global flagship tournament, was named Canadian Footballer of the Year.

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Flowery tributes outside the Vaughan, Ontario home that was the scene of multiple murders.  Peter J. Thompson / National Post
Flowery tributes outside the Vaughan, Ontario home that was the scene of multiple murders. Peter J. Thompson / National Post jpeg

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At home in Canada, the week began with a horrific mass murder Sunday at a high-rise building in Vaughan, north of Toronto, that claimed the lives of six people, including the gunman. Three of the dead were members of the housing committee apparently involved in a longstanding dispute with 73-year-old Francesco Villi, who released a video diatribe in the hours before the attack. Jack L. Rozdilsky is Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management at York University whose work includes analysis of Canadian mass shootings. As a resident of the condominium building where Sunday’s attack took place, he never expected to be so close to his subject. He shares his first-person account of the events.

The area near Union Station in Toronto where a man was killed by a group of teenage girls.  Peter J. Thompson / National Post
The area near Union Station in Toronto where a man was killed by a group of teenage girls. Peter J. Thompson / National Post

Toronto was hit again by headline-grabbing violence when a group of eight girls swarmed and stabbed a 59-year-old man who was “minding his own business” when he was attacked, according to a police official. The apparently random murder occurred Sunday near the Ontario capital’s railroad hub, Union Station. The alleged attackers, three 13-year-olds, three 14-year-olds and two 16-year-olds, were charged with second-degree murder, according to Det. Sergeant Terry Browne. He said the girls came from all over the city and met on social media. Chris Selley writes that there are no quick, easy answers to solving urban crime. Mick Higgins says we need to address how such wickedness happened and why.

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This handout taken on December 18, 2022 shows the warship HTMS Sukhothai on its side before sinking in the Gulf of Thailand.  Royal Thai Navy / AFP
This handout taken on December 18, 2022 shows the warship HTMS Sukhothai on its side before sinking in the Gulf of Thailand. Royal Thai Navy / AFP Photo by HANDOUT /ROYAL THAI NAVY/AFP via Getty Im

The Thai Navy searched for dozens of sailors on Monday after the corvette HTMS Sukhothai sank Sunday night after high waves swamped the ship in the Gulf of Thailand and knocked out its electrical system, making control difficult. According to the Navy’s website, the ship normally carried 87 crew members and officers. Back home in Canada, the federal government has so far spent $4.8 billion on the new warships it hopes will be built in two years as part of Canada’s Surface Combatant, or CSC, project, reports David Pugliese. But the National Defense has now conceded it doesn’t exactly know the cost of maintaining and supporting the ships that will replace the Navy’s Halifax-class frigates.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the US Congress while US Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold a flag given to them by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he left December 21 speaking before Congress in 2022.  Almond Ngan / AFP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the US Congress while US Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold a flag given to them by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he left December 21 speaking before Congress in 2022. Almond Ngan / AFP Photo by MANDEL NGAN /AFP via Getty Images

Earlier in the week, veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger, 99, called for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to avert the risk of another devastating world war, but a Ukrainian presidential adviser says his country is refusing to “appease the aggressor by… it sacrifices parts of Ukraine”; Vladimir Putin promised there would be no limits on Russia’s military spending when he approved measures to increase his army by 500,000 men on Wednesday. In the middle of the week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene of some of the most intense fighting since Russia invaded the country on February 24. He then traveled across the Atlantic to the White House to consult with President Joe Biden on the threat to Ukraine and evoked comparisons to Winston Churchill for his vehement defense of a country mired in an existential crisis.

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An elderly woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Danzhai, southwest China's Guizhou Province, December 21, 2022.  Agence France Presse
An elderly woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Danzhai, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, December 21, 2022. Agence France Presse Photo by ST /AFP via Getty Images

Beijing’s rapid dismantling of COVID-Zero restrictions has allowed the highly contagious Omicron variants to spread unchecked in a population with low natural immunity. Estimates by the government’s top health agency on Friday show that nearly 37 million people in China could have been infected with COVID-19 in a single day this week, making the country’s outbreak the largest in the world by far. Ryan Tumilty reports that Health Canada is monitoring the outbreak. Here at home, there is compelling evidence that much of the tidal wave of influenza and respiratory viruses sweeping Canada is a side effect of the COVID restrictions, although some in the medical community strongly argue otherwise. Tristin Hopper reports on immunity debt and why so many people are sick right now.

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A diver dressed as Santa Claus waves to visitors at Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World Aquarium in Bangkok December 21, 2022.  Jack Taylor/AFP
A diver dressed as Santa Claus waves to visitors at Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World Aquarium in Bangkok December 21, 2022. Jack Taylor/AFP Photo by JACK TAYLOR /AFP via Getty Images

John Robson writes a special note to Santa, forgoing a wish list of what he wants in favor of what he doesn’t want, including cost overruns on major federal projects and ethics scandals. “I want a state that protects citizens from violence and fraud, keeps its ambitions modest in line with its shockingly modest capacities, and leaves the distribution of treats to the guy in the red suit with the sack.” Fröhlicher writes Father Raymond J. de Souza the US ruling that denied pop star Mariah Carey’s application for trademark protection for “Queen of Christmas” and praises Dolly Parton’s perfect art of telling compact stories in her songwriting.

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