Amber Heard back on stand for 2nd day of grilling by Johnny Depp's lawyers

Amber Heard took the stand once again Tuesday to continue facing the intense cross-examination about her relationship with her former husband, actor Johnny Depp.

Heard faced the first hours of her cross-examination Monday, as Depp’s lawyers tried to poke holes in her earlier claims about alleged physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Depp.

The couple split in 2016, but have been battling it out in various courtrooms since, as each tries to paint themselves as the bigger victim in the relationship.

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Amber Heard cross-examination begins in defamation trial — ‘I could never hurt Johnny’

This particular trial stems from an op-ed piece Heard wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she claimed she had been abused, but never mentioned Depp by name.

Depp is suing Heard for US$50 million, while Heard is countersuing her former partner for US$100 million.

Read more:

Amber Heard cross-examination begins in defamation trial: ‘I could never hurt Johnny’

On Monday, one of Depp’s lawyers, Camille Vasquez, attempted to paint Heard as a duplicitous witness, pointing to various photographs and television clips that were taken around the times of alleged abuse, arguing they did not show any visible injuries.

This combination of pictures created on May 16, 2022 shows US actress Amber Heard as she testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia.

This combination of pictures created on May 16, 2022, shows U.S. actress Amber Heard as she testifies in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va.

Steve Helber / Getty Images

Heard defended herself, saying that she was often able to cover up the markings with makeup and reduce swelling with ice.

Heard also denied leaking photos of said injuries, which made their way to the cover of People Magazine in 2016. She also said she was not the one who leaked — the day before the deposition in her divorce settlement — a video of Depp smashing cabinets in a drunken rage.

Throughout Monday’s testimony, Heard insisted she “never wanted to hurt Johnny,” and said she intentionally tried to hide any physical injuries she sustained at the hands of Depp in an effort to “protect” him.

“All I have is my name. All I have is my integrity, and that is what he tried to take from me,” she said. She added that, in the divorce, she was “not interested in Johnny’s money.”

However, Depp’s lawyers argued that Heard was, in fact, out for Depp’s money, highlighting the fact that she has yet to make good on the charity donations she promised from her $7-million divorce settlement.

Actor Johnny Depp arrives into the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 16, 2022.

Actor Johnny Depp arrives in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on May 16, 2022.

Getty

Heard had publicly promised to split the proceeds between two charities — the American Civil Liberties Union and a California children’s hospital.

“I use ‘pledge’ and ‘donation’ synonymously,” Heard testified.

“I don’t,” replied Vasquez.

Heard told the court she hasn’t been able to parcel out the money yet “because Johnny sued me.”

Earlier in the proceedings, which began on April 12 and will wrap up on May 27, Depp denied many of the allegations, insisting that he is a “Southern gentleman” and that he had not been addicted to alcohol or illicit drugs.

This week, the jury will also hear from Heard’s sister, Whitney Henriquez, as well as actor Ellen Barkin, who was in a brief relationship with Depp during the 1990s.

Depp is also expected to be called back to the witness stand as part of Heard’s case.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Average gas price tops $2 a litre in Canada for the 1st time

Montrealers are feeling the pinch at the pump as gas prices jumped again, surpassing $2.15 per litre. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports.

Gasoline prices are showing no signs of letting up as the average price in Canada tops $2 a litre for the first time.

Natural Resources Canada says the average price across the country for regular gasoline hit $2.06 per litre on Monday for an all-time high.

The average was a nine-cent jump from the $1.97 per litre record set last week, and is up about 30 cents a litre since mid-April.

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Prices averaged about $2.34 a litre in Vancouver on Monday, while in Toronto the average was almost $2.09 per litre. Edmonton, in contrast, averaged just under $1.69 per litre.

Gasoline prices have been elevated since late February when oil spiked to around US$100 a barrel after Russia invaded Ukraine, while the price jumped to over US$110 per barrel last week.

Prices have also been spiking more recently as the reopening of the economy, and the start of the busy travel season, have led to high demand for gasoline that refiners have limited capacity to meet.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Woman dead following stabbing in Halifax, homicide investigation launched

The online edition of Global News Morning with Paul Brothers and Alyse Hand on Global Halifax.

Halifax police say a 37-year-old woman died following a stabbing that occurred overnight.

According to Tuesday release, police say a stabbing happened just before 1 a.m. in the area of Sylvia Ave and Herring Cove Road in the city.

“Patrol members located a single victim who had been stabbed,” it read.

The victim was taken to the hospital where she later died from her injuries.

Halifax police say they are investigating the incident as a homicide.

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Police charge teenager after alleged Dartmouth knife chase

In an 8 a.m. release, police said they remained in the area of the 500 block of Herring Cove Road where the stabbing allegedly occurred and traffic was closed.

However, as of 9:50 a.m., traffic in the area has reopened.

Investigators said they do not believe this to be a random incident and investigation is in early stages.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 902-490-5016.

— With files from Karla Renic.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Joe Biden to visit Buffalo in wake of mass shooting

WATCH: Racist 'white replacement' conspiracy theory breeding new domestic terror threats

When Joe Biden talks about his decision to run against President Donald Trump in 2020, the story always starts with Charlottesville.

He says it was the men with torches shouting bigoted slogans that drove him to join what he calls the “battle for the soul of America.”

Now Biden is facing the latest deadly manifestation of hatred after an apparent white supremacist targeted Black people with an assault rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and left 10 people dead, the most lethal racist attack since he took office.

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The president and first lady Jill Biden are to visit the city on Tuesday, where their first stop will be a makeshift memorial outside the supermarket. They’re also expected to meet privately with families of the victims, first responders and local officials before the president delivers public remarks.

In a speech at a nearby community centre, Biden plans to call for stricter gun laws and urge Americans to reject racism and embrace the nation’s diversity, the White House said.

It’s a message that Biden has delivered several times since he became the first president to specifically address white supremacy in an inaugural speech, calling it “domestic terrorism that we must confront.”

However, such beliefs remain an entrenched threat at a time when his administration has been preoccupied with crises involving the pandemic, inflation and the war in Ukraine.

“It’s important for him to show up for the families and the community and express his condolences,” said Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP. “But we’re more concerned with preventing this from happening in the future.”

It’s unclear how Biden will try to do that. Proposals for new gun restrictions have routinely been blocked by Republicans. In addition, the racism that was spouted in Charlottesville, Virginia, appears to have only spread.

The White House said the president and first lady will “grieve with the community that lost 10 lives in a senseless and horrific mass shooting.” Three more people were wounded. Nearly all the victims were Black.

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Biden was briefed about the shooting by his homeland security adviser, Liz Sherwood-Randall, before he attended church services on Saturday near his family home in Wilmington, Delaware, according to the White House. She called again later to tell him that law enforcement had concluded the attack was racially motivated.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, told a Buffalo radio station that she invited Biden to the city.

“I said, `Mr. President, it would be so powerful if you came here,’” Hochul said. “’This community is in such pain, and to see the president of the United States show them the attention that Buffalo doesn’t always get.’”

On Monday, Biden paid particular tribute to one of the victims, retired police officer Aaron Salter, who was working as a security guard at the store. He said Salter “gave his life trying to save others” by opening fire at the gunman, only to be killed himself.

Payton Gendron, 18, was arrested at the supermarket and charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Before the shooting, Gendron is reported to have posted online a screed overflowing with racism and antisemitism. The writer of the document described himself as a supporter of Dylan Roof, who killed nine Black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, and Brenton Tarrant, who targeted mosques in New Zealand in 2019.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Gendron is “someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind,” and he called the attack on the store “an absolute racist hate crime.”

So far investigators are looking at Gendron’s reported connection to what’s known as the “great replacement” theory, which baselessly claims white people are being intentionally overrun by other races through immigration or higher birth rates.

The racist ideology is often interwoven with antisemitism, with Jews identified as the culprits. During the 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, the white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

“Many of those dark voices still exist today,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “And the president is determined as he was back then . . . to make sure we fight back against those forces of hate and evil and violence.”

Read more:

‘Copycat’ shootings becoming deadlier, experts warn after Buffalo attack

In the years since Charlottesville, replacement theory has moved from the online fringe to mainstream right-wing politics. A third of U.S. adults believe there is “a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views,” according to a poll conducted in December by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Tucker Carlson, the prominent Fox News host, accuses Democrats of orchestrating mass migration to consolidate their power.

“The country is being stolen from American citizens,” he said Aug. 23, 2021.

He repeated the same theme a month later, saying that “this policy is called the great replacement, the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.”

Carlson’s show routinely receives the highest ratings in cable news, and he responded to the furor Monday night by accusing liberals of trying to silence their opponents.

“So because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political beliefs out loud,” he said.

His commentary reflects how this conspiratorial view of immigration has spread through the Republican Party ahead of this year’s midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress.

Facebook advertisements posted last year by the campaign committee of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said Democrats want a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION” by granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. The plan would “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik’s campaign, said Monday she “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.” He criticized “sickening and false reporting” about her advertisements.

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Buffalo mass shooting: How should platforms respond to violent livestreams?

Stefanik is the third-ranking leader of the House Republican caucus, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who angered the party with her denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Cheney, in a tweet on Monday, said the caucus’ leadership “has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.”

Replacement theory rhetoric has also rippled through Republican primary campaigns.

“The Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens – that’s their electoral strategy,” Blake Masters, who’s running in the Republican Senate primary in Arizona, wrote on Twitter hours after the Buffalo shooting. “Not on my watch.”

A spokesperson for Masters did not respond to a request for comment.

Jean-Pierre indicated that the White House would speak more broadly about racism than singling out specific people for criticism.

“Once you get into calling out people’s names, then you get away from that issue,” she said.

Although Biden has not spoken directly about replacement theory, his warnings about racism remain a fixture of his public speeches.

Three days before the Buffalo shooting, at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, Biden said, “I really do think we’re still in the battle for the soul of America.”

Biden said he hadn’t planned to run for president in 2020 – he had already fallen short in two previous campaigns, served as vice president and then stepped aside as Hillary Clinton consolidated support for the 2016 race – and was content to spend some time as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

But he said he was disgusted “when those folks came marching out of the fields in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying torches” and repeating the “same anti-Semitic bile chanted in the streets of everywhere from Nuremberg to Berlin in the early ’30s.”

And he recalled how Trump responded to questions about the rally, which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, a young woman who was there to protest the white supremacists.

“He said there are very good people on both sides,” Biden said.

He added, “We can’t let this happen, guys.”

Johnson, the NAACP president, said the country needs to “finally chart a course so we can as a nation begin to address domestic terrorism as we would foreign terrorism – as aggressively as possible.”

He added, “White supremacy and democracy cannot coexist.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Prince Charles, Camilla in Newfoundland to kick off Canadian tour

WATCH: Royal insider details the Queen and Prince Harry reunion, platinum jubilee and more

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital on Tuesday to begin a three-day Canadian tour focused on Indigenous reconciliation and climate change.

The royal couple will visit the provincial legislature where they will be welcomed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before heading to Government House, which is the official residence of Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, the Queen’s representative in the province.

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Prince Charles, Camilla set to begin Canadian royal tour amid rising skepticism

There they will take part in a reconciliation prayer with Indigenous leaders at the Heart Garden, which was built to honour Indigenous children who attended the province’s residential schools.

Leaders from four of five Indigenous groups in the province will be there. Johannes Lampe, president of Labrador’s Inuit Nunatsiavut government, will instead be attending a swearing-in ceremony for his newly elected members.

Charles and Camilla will then tour Quidi Vidi, a former fishing community in the east end of St. John’s, before heading to Ottawa and, finally, to the Northwest Territories.

England first established a colony in Newfoundland in 1610, and the island remained under British rule until it joined Canada in 1949 along with Labrador and became the province of Newfoundland, with a constitutional amendment in 2001 giving the province its current name.

Prior to welcoming the royal couple, Trudeau and Premier Andrew Furey will visit a local child-care facility.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Mariupol defenders begin surrender as Ukraine declares them ‘heroes’

WATCH: Destruction laid bare in downtown Mariupol

Ukraine‘s military said on Tuesday it aimed to evacuate its remaining soldiers from their last stronghold in Mariupol, as fighters that have held out for 82 days began to surrender, heralding the end of Europe’s bloodiest battle in decades.

Reuters saw buses leave the huge Azovstal steelworks overnight and five of them arrive in the Russian-held town of Novoazovsk. In one, marked with the Latin letter ‘Z’ that has become the symbol of Russia’s assault, wounded men were lying on stretchers three bunks high. One man was wheeled out, his head tightly wrapped in thick bandages.

Video released by the Russian ministry of defence showed fighters leaving the plant, some being carried on stretchers, others with their hands up to be searched by Russian troops.

Read more:

Ukraine to evacuate remaining troops from Mariupol, ceding control of besieged city

Russia said 256 Ukrainian fighters had “laid down their arms and surrendered,” including 51 severely wounded. Ukraine said 264 soldiers, including 53 wounded, had left the metal plant, and efforts were under way to evacuate others still inside.

“The ‘Mariupol’ garrison has fulfilled its combat mission,” the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in a statement.

“The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel … Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time.”

The surrender appears to mark the end of the battle of Mariupol, where Ukraine believes tens of thousands of people were killed under months of Russian bombardment and siege.

The city now lies in ruins. Its complete capture is Russia’s biggest victory of the war, giving Moscow total control of the coast of the Sea of Azov and an unbroken stretch of eastern and southern Ukraine about the size of Greece.

But it comes as Russia’s campaign has faltered elsewhere, with its troops around the city of Kharkiv in the northeast lately retreating at the fastest pace since they were driven out of the north and the area around Kyiv at the end of March.

Authorities on both sides gave few clues about the ultimate fate of Mariupol’s last defenders, with Ukrainian officials discussing the prospect of some form of exchange for Russian prisoners but giving no details.

“We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an early morning address. “There are severely wounded ones among them. They’re receiving care. Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive.”

Russia Ukraine War Mariupol steel plant

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows damage at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 1.

Planet Labs PBC via AP

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said 53 injured troops from the steelworks had been taken to a hospital in Russian-controlled Novoazovsk, some 32 kilometres to the east, and another 211 people were taken to the town of Olenivka, also in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

All of the evacuees would be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia, she added.

Mariupol is the biggest city Russia has captured since its Feb. 24 invasion, giving Moscow a clear-cut victory for the first time in months, during which its campaign in Ukraine has mostly faced military disaster against an underestimated foe.

In a statement released late on Monday, the Azov Regiment, the Ukrainian unit that had held out in the steelworks, said it had achieved its objective over 82 days of resistance by making it possible for Ukraine to defend the rest of the country.

“In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the approved decision of the Supreme Military Command and hopes for the support of the Ukrainian people,” the Azov Regiment said in a social media post.

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In an accompanying video, one of the unit’s senior commanders, Denys Prokopenko, called the decision to save the lives of his men “the highest level of overseeing troops.”

The United Nations and Red Cross say thousands of civilians died under Russia’s siege of the once prosperous port of 400,000, with the true toll uncounted but certain to be Europe’s worst since wars in Chechnya and the Balkans in the 1990s.

For months, Mariupol’s residents were forced to cower in cellars under perpetual bombardment, with no access to food, fresh water or heat and dead bodies littering the streets above. Two incidents in particular – the bombings in March of a maternity clinic and of a theater where hundreds of people were sheltering – became worldwide emblems of Russia’s tactic of raining down devastation on population centres.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have been buried in mass graves or makeshift pits dug in gardens by their neighbors. Ukraine says Moscow sent mobile cremation trucks to erase evidence of civilian deaths, and forcibly deported thousands of residents to Russia.

Moscow denies targeting civilians or deporting them, and says it has taken in refugees. It says it is now restoring normal life to the city, part of the Donbas region it claims on behalf of separatists it has backed since 2014.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces have been advancing in recent days at their fastest pace for more than a month, driving Russian forces out of the area around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

Ukraine says its forces have reached the Russian border, 40 km north of Kharkiv. They have also pushed at least as far as the Siverskiy Donets river 40 km to the east, where they could threaten supply lines to Russia’s main advance in the Donbas.

Russia is still pressing that advance, despite taking heavy losses in a failed river crossing last week. Zelenskyy’s office said on Tuesday the entire front line around Donetsk was under constant massive shelling. Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces were reinforcing and preparing to renew their offensive near Slovyansk and Drobysheve, southeast of the town of Izium.

Areas around Kyiv and the western city of Lviv, near the Polish border, have continued to come under Russian attack. A series of explosions struck Lviv early on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said. One missile hit a military facility but there were no casualties, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

A village in Russia’s western province of Kursk bordering Ukraine came under Ukrainian fire on Tuesday, regional Governor Roman Starovoit said. Three houses and a school were hit but there were no injuries, he said.

In response the invasion, historically non-aligned Finland and Sweden have announced plans to join NATO, bringing about the very expansion of the Western alliance that President Vladimir Putin had long invoked as one of the main justifications for ordering his “special military operation” in February.

After weeks in which Russia threatened unspecified retaliation, Putin appeared to abruptly climb down, saying in a speech on Monday that Russia had “no problems” with either Finland or Sweden, and that their NATO membership would not be an issue unless the alliance sent more troops or weapons there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday there would be “probably not much difference” if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, since they had already been cooperating in the alliance’s military exercises.

© 2022 Reuters

After getting COVID-19, food smells like garbage to these teen Quebec siblings. Here's why

WATCH: Condition impacting smell and taste becoming more common

 

Trigger warning: this story mentions topics, including eating disorders, that may be sensitive subjects for some readers.

For most of the past year, teenage siblings Audrey-Anne and Olivier Asselin have eaten a steady diet of tofu, pasta and popsicles – but not by choice.

It’s all they can stand – the few foods that they can stomach after contracting COVID-19.

Pretty much everything else smells like trash. Literally.

The pair developed parosmia, a condition that drastically distorts their sense of smell to the point that everyday scents make them sick to their stomachs. Olivier describes food they used to eat regularly as now having a tinny, revolting odour similar to the “bottom of a garbage bin.”

Researchers recognize parosmia as a potential symptom of long COVID, but what makes the Asselins’ cases so curious is that before the pandemic, it was extremely rare for children and teens to lose their sense of smell because of a viral infection. Experts say it’s even more unusual to see this phenomenon in relatives.

“It’s very interesting to see that there’s two family members with the same symptoms, which is not something that is commonly seen,” says Dr. Johannes Frasnelli, an anatomy professor at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. “There may be some genetic component to it, which would explain it, but this is complete speculation.”

Read more:

Researchers say loss of smell, taste from COVID-19 could affect appetite, mental health

The teens’ mother, Marie-Eve Naud, is one of the Canadian parents desperate for guidance on how to help their children with the condition. As of right now, there is no cure for parosmia.

Both of Marie-Eve’s children have been haunted by warped odours and flavours since last May – four months after her husband, Sébastien Asselin, and two kids caught COVID-19. Only Olivier and Audrey-Anne, however, developed parosmia.

Photo of the Asselin/Naud family

A 2019 photo of Marie-Eve's family: Xavier (bottom left), Olivier (top left), Sébastien (top right), Marie-Eve (bottom right) and Audrey-Anne

Source: Marie-Eve Naud

Seventeen-year-old Olivier remembers his first sign that his senses were changing was while he was eating ramen, which he describes as having a chemical taste.

“It became worse each day,” Olivier says of his condition.

His sister says she discovered something was off when she tasted something metallic in green vegetables, which her parents said tasted good.

Ever since, dinners at their Quebec City home have never been the same. The smell of home-cooked meals that permeates their house – and once brought the family together – has kept them apart. Their mother says for two months, Olivier isolated himself in the basement to avoid the smells. Both children say the scent of cooked meat is a huge trigger, which experts say is common among parosmia patients. Audrey-Anne says meat often smells like mould.

“The meat is the worst,” she says in an interview conducted in French. “It’s overwhelming.”

Marie-Eve says she often makes two different meals – one for her husband, her youngest, 15-year-old Xavier Asselin, and herself, and another for Audrey-Anne and Olivier, hoping they can tolerate the smells. When she cooks onions, which bring on Audrey-Anne’s parosmia, she separates these veggies from the main dish so she can serve the meal to her daughter without them.

The mother, who also spoke to Global News in French, says the hardest thing is watching them suffer.

“I would take their place if I could,” Marie-Eve says tearfully. “I’m trying really hard to make things better for them.”

Last year, the whole family but Olivier went on vacation because all he could bear to eat was cheese and tofu, his mother says, and he had to stay behind. Audrey-Anne avoids going to restaurants, as she says she has no idea which new foods may trigger her parosmia.

But what the 19-year-old misses the most is lunches at school with her friends. She says her stomach turns and she feels nauseated as they eat their homemade food because the scents are so unbearable, so Audrey-Anne feels she has no choice but to leave.

She says she never lost weight because of her parosmia, but Olivier says he did initially before gaining it back.

He says he forgets what some odours smelled like before he developed the condition.

Discovering parosmia

For months, the Asselin children knew so little about what was happening to them. It was only last September that they found out their illness had a name. Audrey-Anne opened up TikTok on her phone and discovered Ashley Zibetti, an American mother and photographer whose video about her own parosmia case has racked up more than four million views.

@shleeeeeeeeee

Have you heard of this?? #parosmia #parosmiapostcovid #parosmiaawareness #fooddance

♬ Я буду ебать – Moreart

The caption reads, “Have you heard of this?? #parosmia,” and in the video posted last year, Zibetti explains she uses a nose clip to eat meals to help suppress the terrible smells.

People all over the world have made TikToks using the hashtag #parosmia to document their own experiences. These videos have been watched more than 137 million times.

Frasnelli is a proponent of people raising awareness about this condition, as it’s one of the long-COVID symptoms that have persisted in some patients for months – and even years – after the virus infection.

What we know about post-COVID parosmia – and what we don’t

Going back a couple of years, Frasnelli says any “studies on sense of smell were exotic.” Now, data is coming out so fast that Chrissi Kelly, founder of U.K. charity AbScent, says she has trouble keeping track of it all.

“Parosmia had been considered a black box,” says Kelly, a parosmia patient herself.

But that’s changing quickly as “COVID patients are making a lot of noise about this.”

This helped push researchers across the globe to take more of an interest in this area, says Frasnelli, who recently published his own work on post-COVID-19 parosmia and other olfactory conditions. He tracked the symptoms of a group of health-care workers infected with COVID-19 during the first wave – and experienced olfactory issues – and found 17 per cent of these people had parosmia five months after the infection. This rose to more than 50 per cent at 11 months.

“It becomes more prevalent with time,” says Frasnelli, who’s also a researcher at Sacré-Cœur hospital in Montreal.

“COVID patients are making a lot of noise about this.”

But what’s still a niche – but burgeoning – area of interest is studying olfactory issues in pediatric-age patients.

A January 2021 study out of Spain did not focus on parosmia specifically, but 15 per cent of the 33 children infected with COVID-19 referred to anosmia (loss of sense of smell) and/or dysgeusia (distorted sense of taste) on a questionnaire. All of these children were more than 11 years old.

Audrey-Anne can attest to those findings – she briefly lost her sense of smell and taste before getting them back, then she experienced parosmia months later.

Frasnelli says people can develop the condition because their olfactory sensory neurons are going through faulty regeneration after a COVID-19 infection.

“People do not smell anything and then they start smelling again, but the smells are not quite right yet. So one of the hypotheses that we have is that there is some rewiring happening between the nose and the brain, but the rewiring is not yet quite right.”

Researchers say young people with the condition have varying stories. One teenager says it barely affects his daily life, while another person says it worsened her existing eating disorder.

Frasnelli continues to study parosmia but says he’s excluding minors. Getting their consent can be complicated, he says, and he’s been contacted more frequently about adult cases.

One of his challenges is trying to figure out why certain scents bother patients more than others. He and Kelly say common culprits are gasoline, coffee and frying meat.

“What we do know is that these are strong and complex odours,” Frasnelli says – and this would explain why the Asselins gravitate toward eating plain-tasting foods.

But there is much more to learn about parosmia patients of all ages, he says, and that starts with all health-care professionals taking this issue seriously.

The barrier of care: an unmet need for rehabilitation

The Asselins visited their family doctor to see what they could do to alleviate their symptoms, but Audrey-Anne says all he knew was that it was likely a symptom of long COVID.

After Marie-Eve reached out to Frasnelli for help, she says he sent some websites with information and because he doesn’t practise on patients, he told her to consult an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. This is who gave the teens their parosmia diagnosis.

The specialist and family doctor suggested using a cortisone nasal spray (in case they had inflammation in their nasal passages), smelling essential oils and trying to eat small bites of food, even though they taste horrible. The Asselins tried all of this, but neither sibling has felt improvements.

Frasnelli says doctors, including ENT specialists, face many hurdles in helping patients with parosmia – they can recommend only so many treatments in most cases of the condition because how people perceive smells is different for everyone and there’s no all-encompassing test for parosmia.

“How does vanilla smell when you’re healthy? That’s such an individual thing,” he says. “We have to ask people, ‘Have you noticed that your sense of smell has changed? Are there odours that you used to like that now are different than before? Are there odours that everybody else likes but not you?’”

Kelly says “the problem is even if you have a diagnosis, what does that get you? Not really anything.

“Parosmia can’t be cured. Parosmia is subjective. It’s like a nothing diagnosis.”

Read more:

Quebec in ‘fragile situation’ as province faces 6th COVID-19 wave: top doctor

Another issue is that doctors in general don’t know that much about the sense of smell because until the pandemic, they didn’t consider it important, Frasnelli says.

“I hope that we can change that,” he says. “There’s a lot of training and a lot of education to do. But part of this education is also to say we don’t know what we can do and we have to do more research.”

A spokesperson for SickKids Hospital in Toronto says they’ve seen around 10 patients experiencing post-COVID-19 parosmia throughout the pandemic.

Dr. Neil Chadha, a BC Children’s Hospital pediatric ENT – head and neck surgeon, says he has not seen parosmia as a common issue for children, but that could be because kids, depending on their age, may have trouble articulating their experience.

“Adults may be better at recognizing their symptoms and seeking help earlier,” Chadha says.

He says if a patient was referred to him, he’d look for other problems that may cause the smell distortion but once he comes to the point he thinks it’s because of the viral infection, he would follow the patient to recovery.

“The silver lining for all patients with olfactory loss is there’s so much attention and awareness in rehabilitation that wasn’t there before,” says Dr. Leigh Sowerby, an associate professor in the department of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Ontario’s Western University.

No cure, but there is hope

Frasnelli says anyone who thinks they have parosmia should first visit their doctor or a specialist so they can come up with next steps.

He also suggests doing a type of olfactory therapy called smell training, which is basically a workout for your nose that can help retrain your sense of smell. AbScent describes it as sniffing the same few scents every day, and Frasnelli says to do this for several weeks or longer.

Although the Asselin children had no luck with smell training over a span of a couple of months, a Laryngoscope study published in 2020 shows people who developed parosmia following a viral infection had better outcomes after using this method.

“Smell training is currently the best option,” Frasnelli says. “It doesn’t work for everybody, but it works better than not doing anything.”

There are few commercially available smell kits, but NeilMed Pharmaceuticals is debuting one in the U.S. and the company says it’s working on having it registered for sale in Canada. The kit may hit the shelves here as early as June, and people of all ages can use it.

Chadha says in lieu of a kit, you can even use items with strong scents you’d find around the house, including lemons.

The downside when it comes to kids, though – especially younger ones – is they may not want this as part of their routines.

“Parents I’ve talked to are tearing their hair out because their children have shown no interest in smell training,” Kelly says. “You just can’t force that.”

She says to avoid trying any parosmia “cures” people are peddling on social media, as these may not be scientifically proven.

A 2017 study found vitamin A drops to be effective, but as AbScent notes, researchers need to look into this method more.

Experts also recommend getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Sowerby says most of the patients he sees with post-viral olfactory loss are unvaccinated.

Marie-Eve’s whole family is vaccinated now, but when Olivier and Audrey-Anne contracted COVID-19 early last year, they weren’t eligible for their shots yet.

Read more:

A family divided — When parents, kids disagree on COVID-19 vaccines

Both children say their parosmia has plateaued. Audrey-Anne says some of her menu mainstays are toast, oatmeal, yogurt and fruits.

“Parents should recognize it’s better for the child to eat something rather than nothing,” Kelly says.

Marie-Eve checks the Facebook support groups for people with the condition, where they share their stories and parosmia-friendly recipes. She says the hope that something could eventually help her children keeps her going.

Sowerby and Frasnelli say the condition is actually a symptom of regeneration in the body and can be the first sign of recovery. Chadha adds that children are better than adults at nerve-injury recovery, and this seems to be the case with olfactory conditions.

Although there’s a lack of available data to pinpoint an exact timeline for improvement, Chadha says he expects most children to recover from parosmia within six months.

Frasnelli says he sees more people with parosmia from the first few waves of COVID-19 than the later ones.

“Problems are less prevalent,” he says. “There are much fewer people who complain about the sense of smell. But it took us a while to understand that with the original variants, so we’ll see how this develops with the Omicron variants.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

N.S. gas up 9.5 cents for new record price as interrupter clause invoked

Gas is up another 9.5 cents as of Tuesday in Nova Scotia in yet another record price.

The jump comes as the province’s utility and review board invoked its interrupter clause to change the cost of gasoline overnight.

“This change is necessary due to significant shifts in the market price of gasoline,” the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board said in a Monday release.

READ MORE: Interrupter clause being invoked tonight for gas prices in Nova Scotia
The change comes just four days after gas prices reached a new high — reaching $2 per litre in some parts of the province.

As of Tuesday, all Nova Scotians are paying a minimum of 208 cents per litre at the pump for regular self-serve.

Cape Bretoners continue to pay the most for gasoline, now at a minimum 210 cents per litre.

Diesel was not affected by the interrupter clause, though it already rose last Friday by 4.5 cents.

The higher prices come in part because of supply chain disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the reopening of the economy leading to a higher demand for gasoline.

— With files from Alex Cooke. 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Suspects accused of damaging, stealing political campaign signs in Brampton

Two men face mischief and theft charges in connection with the theft and damage of political signs in Brampton.

Peel Regional Police say on the evening of May 10, they received reports of two suspects tampering with political signage at a home in the Mississauga Road and Bovaird Drive area.

On Friday, May 13, the alleged suspects turned themselves in to police.

Read more:

Ontario election 2022: Here’s what the PCs, NDP, Liberals and Greens have promised so far

A 23-year-old man from Brampton and a 25-year-old man from Mississauga are each charged with one count of theft under $5000 and one count of mischief under $5000.

Both men are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice at a later date.

Anyone with information are asked to contact police.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Where the Ontario leaders are on the campaign trail for Tuesday, May 17

Here’s where the leaders of Ontario’s main political parties are today:

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford

Toronto: Makes an announcement. 10 a.m.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

Toronto: Makes an announcement about fixing schools. 9 a.m., Outside Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute, 5400 Lawrence Ave East

Peterborough: Makes an announcement about mental health supports in schools. 1:45 p.m., Outside 1444 Monaghan Road

Kingston: Makes a campaign stop. 5:30 p.m., Stone City Ales, 275 Princess St.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

Toronto: Holds a post-debate rally. 8:15 a.m., Woodbine Banquet Hall, 30 Vice Regent Blvd.

Toronto: Makes an announcement on improving work-life balance for Ontario workers. 11:30 a.m., 49 Voyager Crt

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner

Toronto: Makes an announcement on youth and climate. 9 a.m., Bloor-Bedford Parkette, 248 Bloor St W, Toronto

Huntsville: Makes an announcement on housing. 4:30 p.m., River Mill Park

Huntsville: Canvasses downtown. 5 p.m., starting at River Mill Park

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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