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How bad is COVID-19 in your area? University students launch heat map to track virus across Canada – The Province

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Flatten.ca is quickly becoming a go-to source of information about how  COVID-19 is spreading across Canada

About one week ago, when the University of Toronto moved all classes online, and first year engineering student Shrey Jain moved off campus, he started wondering what he could do to help stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.

Though just 18 years old, in a matter of days, Jain has emerged as the public face of Flatten.ca, a website that’s quickly becoming a go-to source of information about how  COVID-19 is spreading across Canada.

Between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, around 110,000 people visited the website to answer a brief survey about their age, whether they’ve experienced symptoms and their approximate location. That information was compiled into a heat map, so that anyone can visit the website and see what’s happening in their neighbourhood, including the number of potential cases and vulnerable people.

“I wasn’t expecting to be as big it is,” said Jain, who added that his team is working on the website for 12 to 14 hours a day, even as they simultaneously finish up their classes.

The project started when Jain, who has been participating in hackathons since high school, texted a few friends to see if anyone had ideas about how to slow the spread. To his surprise, people jumped on the idea, and now Flatten.ca’s team has grown to about 30 people, including students from McMaster University, University of New Brunswick and University of Waterloo, as well as some high profile advisors, such as Geoffrey Hinton.


A view of the heat map from Flatten.ca.

Flatten.ca

Hinton, sometimes called the ‘godfather of artificial intelligence,’ is an emeritus professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, that Jain connected with through one of his professors. He also works for Google, which agreed to sponsor the project by providing server space, which essentially ensures the website won’t crash as the number of users grows.

Through some of Hinton’s connections at the Vector Institute of Technology, a Toronto-based machine learning research hub, Jain dialed in to a conference call earlier last week, in which Dominic Barton, ambassador to China, spoke about how other countries have flattened the curve and now Canada needs to find solutions.

It’s just very important to be cognizant of norms about privacy here

Jain said that got him thinking. Theoretically, it might be possible to obtain a geolocation data set that could be used to help monitor the spread of the virus, but his team concluded many Canadians might not like the idea of being monitored that way.

That’s why they devised a way for Canadians to self-report information, he said.

“It’s just very important to be cognizant of norms about privacy here,” said Jain.

During the past few days, the team has been researching websites that have popped up in other countries, and developing the site further. They want users to update their information every 14 days, for example, and to make the site more accessible.

“We really care that the elderly fill it out,” he said, adding that soon, people will be able to respond for their entire family.

Right now, the majority of the users are located in the Greater Toronto Area, which has skewed some of the results, making the region look like the hardest hit. The hope is that the rest of the country will begin using the site in larger numbers.

They also plan to make changes as the conditions in Canada change. For example, it soon  may be less relevant whether someone has travelled abroad in the past 14 days than whether they’ve travelled to a hot spot in Canada.

Meanwhile, they all have pushed their class work back in the list of priorities. Jain said he’s been surprised about how devoted the team is, but the experience is providing its own teaching moments.

“We’ve been given the opportunity to work on this, and we’re getting traction, so who cares what (grades) we get in school? Let’s just go with this,” Jain said.

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Tesla's Musk earns $770M in stock options, company confirms – SooToday.com

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DETROIT — Tesla confirmed Thursday that CEO Elon Musk will get the first tranche worth nearly $770 million of a stock-based compensation package triggered by the company meeting several financial metrics.

The electric car and solar panel maker’s board certified that Musk earned the big payout, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing says Musk can buy 1.69 million shares of Tesla stock for $350.02 each, but it wasn’t clear whether he had exercised the stock options. His payout is based on the difference between the option price and Thursday’s closing share price of $805.81.

Musk earned the options as part of an audacious compensation package approved by the board in 2018.

According to the filing, the board certified that Tesla had reached the milestones by hitting $20 billion in total revenue for four previous quarters and a total market value of $100 billion. The company also reached $1.5 billion in adjusted pretax earnings, but that must still be certified by the board, the filing said.

Musk has to hold the stock for a minimum of five years, under the terms of the compensation package.

Musk can afford to wait before cashing in on his latest windfall, given his wealth is estimated at $39 billion by Forbes magazine.

All told, the incentives approved by Tesla’s board in 2018 consist of 20.3 million stock options that will be doled out in 12 different bundles if the company is able to reach progressively more difficult financial goals. It’s one of the biggest corporate pay packages in U.S. history.

In order for Musk to receive all 20.3 million stock options, Tesla will have to generate adjusted annual earnings of $14 billion on annual revenue of $175 billion coupled with a market value of $650 billion. In the past four quarters, Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California, has reported adjusted earnings totalling $3.6 billion on revenue totalling $26 billion.

The Associated Press

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Elon Musk reaches first Tesla compensation award worth nearly $800 million – The Verge

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has unlocked the first of 12 possible stock option awards from the massive compensation plan he signed in 2018, and it’s worth nearly $800 million. The company disclosed on Thursday that Musk now has the option to buy 1.69 million of its shares because Tesla eclipsed $20 billion in total revenue over the last four quarters and a market capitalization of more than $100 billion — the first in a series of tandem milestones Tesla must hit for Musk to realize the full value of the plan.

Tesla’s stock price was $805.81 when the markets closed on Thursday, meaning those shares are worth about $1.36 billion. But Musk only has to pay a $350.02 per share “strike price” to get them, according to the agreement, or a total of about $591 million — meaning he could net around $770 million depending on when he pulls the trigger.

If Tesla’s stock price keeps going up, and the company hits additional revenue goals, Musk could wind up collecting around 20.3 million new shares of Tesla at that strike price, clearing a path for him to collect tens of billions of dollars or more.

Musk does not collect a salary at Tesla, and the company originally categorized the compensation plan — which replaced one from 2012 — as an “at-risk performance award” that “ensures [Musk] will be compensated only if Tesla and all of its shareholders do extraordinarily well.” Musk is worth around $40 billion on paper already, but has downplayed his personal wealth. He repeatedly points out that he reinvests a lot of the money he makes back into his own companies and is relatively cash poor. But he also borrows against his Tesla holdings and puts that money into his companies as well, so the more of the company he owns, the more money he could have access to in the future.

Confirmation of the award was tucked inside Tesla’s annual “proxy filing,” a document that lays out what shareholders should expect at the company’s annual meeting. This year that meeting will take place on July 7th, according to the filing. While many companies have been holding online-only shareholder meetings during the pandemic, Tesla says it will hold an in-person event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California in addition to a webcast. The company is leaving room for that to change, though.

“[W]e will continue to monitor public health and travel safety protocols required or recommended by federal, state and local governments. If necessary or advisable to protect our personnel and stockholders, we will change the date, time, location and/or format of the 2020 Annual Meeting,” the company writes.

Shareholders will have seven proposals to vote on at that meeting, the first three of which are from Tesla. The first is to reelect Elon Musk and Tesla chairwoman Robyn Denholm to the board of directors, and to approve the recently-announced appointment of Hiromichi Mizuno. The second is to approve compensation for Tesla’s executives. The third is to reappoint PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as Tesla’s auditor.

Proposal four is from shareholder James M. Danforth, who wants Tesla to start spending money on advertising — something Musk has famously avoided. Danforth says Tesla should “spend at least $50/car produced to advertise its products/services in order to increase brand and product awareness and interest, achieve other goals set forth in the supporting statement below and to help mitigate and/or reduce harm to Tesla’s goals, objectives, reputation and finances.”

Danforth says advertising “became necessary the moment Tesla announced in Q1-19 that it would shut down retail stores and start focusing solely on website based sales instead.” He says Tesla ads could “mitigate and dilute substantial FUD (“Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt”) and misinformation campaigns sponsored by competitors and detractors worldwide and steer the narrative more favorably,” and “increase knowledge and support for climate damage avoidance worldwide.”

“Tesla’s call to action via advertisements will ring loudly and credibly with billions of consumers, many of whom who don’t know who Tesla is at all. This call to action has never been more necessary or important than right now,” he writes.

Tesla disagrees, and is recommending shareholders vote down the proposal. “While we welcome stockholder feedback, we also believe we have an experienced management team that is best situated to determine Tesla’s day-to-day business operations, including our sales and marketing practices and expenditures,” the company writes. Tesla also disagrees with Danforth’s assessment of the changes it made last year to its retail operations.

The fifth proposal comes from shareholder James McRitchie, who wants these votes to be measured by a simple majority — something he’s done repeatedly in the past. Tesla recommends voting it down.

Proposal six is for Tesla to scrap forced arbitration. It comes from impact investment firm Nia, which argues that forced arbitration “limits employees’ remedies for wrongdoing, keeps misconduct secret, precludes employees from suing in court when discrimination and harassment occur, and prevents employees from learning about shared concerns.”

“Continuing to rely on arbitration clauses when these protections may be removed, with retroactive implications, creates a long-tail risk for Tesla,” Nia writes. “Investors’ concerns about non-transparent working conditions, which allow for potential harassment and discrimination, are particularly pertinent to Tesla, which has faced allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.”

Tesla disagrees, and recommends shareholders vote against the proposal. The company defends its use of arbitration, and says Nia “does not state convincing support for a correlation between arbitration and harassment, discrimination, or limits on employee grievances generally.”

The final proposal comes from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd New York Province, who want Tesla to prepare a report about human rights violations at the companies it buys raw materials from. Tesla believes the Supplier Code of Conduct and Human Rights and Conflicts Minerals Policy on its website and the company’s annual conflict minerals report (the 2019 version of which was published Thursday) go far enough, and recommends shareholders vote against the proposal.

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SpaceX's historic astronaut launch try draws huge crowds despite NASA warnings – Space.com

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Image 1 of 4

Spectators crowd the lawn at the end of Main Street in Titusville, Fla., to watch SpaceX launch Demo-2, its first astronaut launch for NASA, from the Kennedy Space Center on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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Spectators pack the sidewalk near Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

Spectators pack the sidewalk near Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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One mask is visible in this photo of people gathered to watch SpaceX's launch attempt May 27, 2020.

One mask is visible in this photo of spectators gathered in in Port Canaveral, Florida to watch SpaceX’s first astronaut launch for NASA on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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A hopeful, future astronaut celebrates the SpaceX launch attempt in person.

A hopeful, future astronaut celebrates SpaceX’s first astronaut launch attempt in person in a park in Titusville, Florida on May 27, 2020. (Image credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Despite warnings from NASA officials and the risks implied by the current pandemic, which has so far claimed over 100,000 lives in the U.S., approximately 150,000 people gathered on Florida’s space coast to watch SpaceX’s first attempt at launching astronauts to space yesterday (May 27).

SpaceX attempted to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft with two veteran NASA astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center yesterday as part of the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station. Unfortunately, bad weather delayed the launch to no earlier than Saturday (May 30). 

Despite the risks of the coronavirus pandemic (there have been over 52,000 cases and 2,300 deaths related to the novel coronavirus in Florida so far), stormy weather and a tornado warning, approximately 150,000 people traveled to watch the event. “We are still running cell phone data and other reports for possible additional insight, but the estimated number of viewers in person was 150,000,” Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism told Space.com in an email. 

Full coverage: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 astronaut launch explained

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made a public announcement before the launch, urging people to do the exact opposite of what these visitors did: stay home. Bridenstine said that people should watch the launch virtually, as full launch coverage was available live on NASA TV and, by gathering and not social distancing, there is a risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Kennedy Space Center was not even open to visitors for SpaceX’s launch attempt yesterday, but its visitor center reopened to the public today (May 28). NASA scheduled the facility’s big reopening for after the SpaceX launch. But, as photos from the event show, people still came in droves and packed into Florida’s nearby beaches and the causeway, desperate to get a peek at the launch. 

Related: Live updates about the coronavirus and COVID-19

The crowds of spectators, who filled highway lanes, creating serious traffic jams on their drives home following the launch delay, were impressive. However, if this launch didn’t take place during a pandemic, approximately 500,000 people could’ve been expected on the space coast, Dale Ketcham, the vice president of government & external relations at Space Florida, told Space.com in an email. 

Florida has recently begun to loosen its restrictions, originally imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, by reopening businesses and public spaces like beaches. It is yet to be seen how many people will return to Kennedy (which will by then be open to the public) this Saturday for the next launch date. 

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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