Hockey Gear: More Harm than Help?

Hockey Gear: More Harm than Help?

New York – Underwear, jock strap, shin pads, socks, skates, shoulder pads, elbow pads, jersey, helmet and gloves—it can take pro hockey players 15 minutes or more to put on all their gear. That’s a far cry from the equipment worn 70 years ago when the original six national Hockey League teams took to the ice. Back then, athletes didn’t wear protective equipment so every puck or slapshot had the potential to leave a bruise. Helmets were made of soft leather instead of plastic and foam, primarily protecting against heat loss rather than injury. Since then, companies have added layers of plastic and even bulletproof kevlar to the equipment. Elbow pads, once made of leather and strapped on the outside of a player’s sweater, are now made of dense pipe-like plastic. 

Click the hyperlink above to read the full article published in the Winter edition of the Coaches of Canada Magazine. 

Hockey Gear: More Harm than Help?


CTV News Channel hits

For the last few months I’ve been a somewhat regular political commentator for CTV News Channel. It’s been a great opportunity to jump back into the television world, and to share my love and knowledge of Canadian politics.

Here are a few of my hits:

CTV News Straight Talk panel – May 12, 2014.

Annie on CTV News Channel

Click here to see more 

CTV News Straight Talk panel – November 20th, 2013.


Final hours of the Quebec provincial Election – April 6th, 2014.

Annie on CTV News Channel

Senate scandal is far from over  – November 9th, 2013.

Senate will vote to suspend members on all or none principle – November 6th, 2013.


Political wrap-up with Scott Laurie

Click here for other videos, courtesy of

In Sderot, Life is Under Attack

Originally published on the Huffington Post.

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SDEROT– Fifteen seconds is the difference between life and death for residents in a small village 100 kilometers from Jerusalem. In Sderot, an agricultural village just a stone’s throw from the Gaza border, the fear of attack weighs heavy on everyone’s mind.

A giant multicolored slide stands in the middle of a playground at Kibbutz Mefalsim just outside Sderot. The structure is between two white cement blocks painted with brown monkeys and green flowers, and a narrow opening on one side. These cement structures, which blend in so well with their surroundings, are for protection, not play. The blocks are bomb shelters.

Bomb Shelter

“You always know a missile can land in your backyard,” said law student Noam Uerad standing next to the play structure. “You have learned to avoid a missile, but you never know when to expect an alarm.”

Sderot’s close proximity to the patrolled border with the Gaza Strip, complete with a barbed wire fence, makes it an easy target for Hamas and Al Qaeda-launched rockets and missiles.

Since 2001, more than 10,000 missiles have been launched toward Sderot, according to the Sderot Media Center, a nonprofit citizen journalism organization formed to bring attention to the community’s plight. Many of these remnants are on display at the local police station, while others are turned into intricate sculptures placed around the city.

Sculpture made of rockets

The exposure to the intense, on-going threat of missile and mortar attacks is a major stressor for the city’s residents. Almost 50 percent of the village’s preteens suffer signs of post-traumatic related symptoms including reliving attacks, according to a 2012 study by Journal of Adolescent Health. Since the fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in the early 2000s, depression and anxiety among the village’s residents has doubled, states a study set to be published in the journal of Israeli Medical Association.

But native Sivan Hanukayev disagrees, saying the village does not suffer from PTSD. The disease’s definition, she said, implies the fighting and violence are over.

“In Sderot it is an endless situation,” she said. “We are experiencing on-going trauma…”

Here, just 800 meters from the Gaza border, children grow up playing Lego next to and inside bomb shelters, waiting for missiles to strike land.

“There is an entire generation that doesn’t know anything else,” added Uerad.

Bomb shelters are more common in Sderot than coffee shops in any major North American city. In many schools, the cement structures are painted in vibrant colors or disguised as 25-foot caterpillars that span the length of a playground. Common sites including bus shelters, garages, and rooms in family homes; even community mailboxes are made to withstand a missile attack.

Bomb shelter in playground

“Every kid born here has already experienced thousands of alarms,” emphasized Hanukayev, who can’t count how many attacks she has experienced.

Despite colorful paintjobs and clever designs, the city is always on alert. Children born and raised in Sderot, for the most part, know only a life of violence and terror. It’s their normal. The memories with the most impact are of violence and destruction.

“All those kids, their first memories, experiences and vacations, or forced vacations, happened because of the missiles,” added Hanukayev.

David Levi, 12, experienced his first rocket attack at age 4. His father parked the car at a nearby school, got out of the vehicle and took his sister to her kindergarten class. Levy was left alone in the backseat. Shortly after his father got back into the car, a rocket fell approximately 20 meters from their vehicle.

Levi is one of five smiling children in bright colored t-shirts standing against a white wall in the bomb shelter of his summer camp at Kibbutz Mefalsim. The pre-teens are sharing their first-hand experiences with rocket attacks.

Roni Tarnovski, 11, spent her 10th birthday in a bomb shelter following a rocket attack. In the evening, Tarnovski had to escape to an neighboring community. “It was scary,” she said.

Alon Cohen, an 11-year-old boy wearing a neon green t-shirt, begins to choke up as he speaks about one encounter with a rocket. Cohen was eating dinner at home with some friends when the warning siren went off. The boys, who were alone at the time, didn’t have a bomb shelter within sight so they hid under the dining room table. The experience, said Cohen, was stressful.

Kids like Cohen and Tarnovski are taught from a young age how to survive a missile attack. “Run to a shelter, or hide under a table,” said Tarnovski. While schools in other places conduct fire drills, in Sderot schoolchildren often perform routine bomb drills.

These training sessions work, but they take a toll on the students, said Anat Benami-Tarnovski, a mother and teacher at the camp. Two summers ago she had her students run from the deep water of a local swimming pool to the nearest shelter – all within 15 seconds. The test was tough, she admitted, and made the children aware of how fast they need to be when a siren sounds. This summer, she said, the students would not enter the deep water for fear of being too far from a shelter.

“It happens a lot,” she said about the frequency of missile strikes in her village. “It’s all the time.”

Regardless of their frequency, the attacks don’t seem to get any easier. The woman’s voice that echoes throughout the village when a warning siren goes off is etched into the memory of almost every resident, including the youngest children. Sometimes, however, residents are given no warning.

Despite a lifestyle plagued by the fear of the unknown, residents are optimistic about the future and about peace between Israel and Palestine. Many people living in Sderot will tell you they choose to live and stay in the war-afflicted village. For many, it’s where they have grown up and where they have made memories, both good and bad.

“It’s our responsibility to show we are not neglecting the people of Sderot because it can be unsafe,” said Uerad.

But it’s not just the adults that drive the optimistic spirit in this town: it’s the children.

“I really love this place no matter what,” said Levi, who sees himself as a symbol of a kid who should never abandon his home. Leaving this “magical place,” said Levi, means giving up.

“If we leave, they will have won,” he added. “Maybe sometime it will finish and it will be a nice place to live.”


Police stop women from praying at Western Wall

Originally published on the Huffington Post 

JERUSALEM- In another example of the growing stress of the ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews on Israeli society, you only have to go as far as the Wailing Wall.

Police barricades blocked hundreds of Women of the Wall supporters, a liberal Jewish women’s group, who are demanding equality of worship at the Western Wall.  The ancient revered wall is one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites.

“We have the right to pray at the wall just like anyone else, and they (the ultra-Orthodox community) will get use to us,” said the organization’s director Lesley Sachs.

Current customs prevent females from wearing prayer shawls and from praying and reading the Torah aloud, as men are permitted to do. The group faces stiff opposition from the Ultra Orthodox community who say prayer shawls and other similar religious items are reserved for men.

Women of the Wall supporters

The group’s estimated 350 members were corralled into a section of the plaza in front of the Western Wall, guarded by lines of police officers and barriers.  It’s the first time in 25 years the women have been prevented from holding their monthly limited service at the wall.

“It is simply wrong,” said one of the group’s supporters Ellyn Bender. “Cage them, as well as create a space for us.”

About 1,000 ultra-Orthodox men gathered on the opposite side of the barricades, chanting and yelling profanities at the women. Midway through the service two ultra-Orthodox women charged their way through the crowd blowing their whistles to drown out the prayers. Some also threw eggs at the women seeking fairer treatment at the wall.

The oppositions’ behavior, said Bender, was inappropriate.

“For them to be yelling things like prostitute at us is completely unholy and unJewish.”


The unprecedented police action to restrict the group’s access was a necessary security measure, said Israeli Police Spokeswoman Kagit Rapapore. The decision, she said, had nothing to do with religion or politics, but with over-crowding in the women’s section of the wall.  As many as 7,000 young Orthodox women were out in support of their community.

The movement got a significant boost last April after a Jerusalem District Court Judge ruled the liberal women were not violating a high court ruling by wearing prayer shawls and reciting the Torah aloud at the Western Wall.The group’s director repudiated the police’s statement, saying there was enough space for them to pray.