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In a Flash, U.S. Yields Hit 1.6%, Wreaking Havoc in Markets – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Just Energy Reports Fiscal Third Quarter 2021 Results

Continues to Assess Impact of the Texas Extreme Cold Weather Event TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Just Energy Group Inc. (“Just Energy” or the “Company”) (TSX:JE; NYSE:JE), a retail energy provider specializing in electricity and natural gas commodities and bringing energy efficient solutions and renewable energy options to customers and carbon offsets, announced its third quarter results for fiscal year 2021 and updated its previous announcement advising that management is continuing to assess the impact of the extreme cold weather experienced in the State of Texas commencing on or about February 13, 2021 continuing through February 19, 2021 (the “Weather Event”). The Weather Event resulted in the Company having to balance its power supply through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) at artificially mandated high electricity prices and significantly increased ancillary service costs as described in the Company’s Management Discussion and Analysis filed today. As at February 22, 2021, the Company reviewed the available information regarding the Company’s customer load for the Weather Event and estimated that the Company may have incurred a loss of CAD $315 million (approximately USD $250 million). This week, the Company received initial settlement statements from ERCOT, which are subject to resettlements, that may be material, showing lower customer load. The initial statements from ERCOT, without any resettlement, would result in significantly lowering the Company’s exposure to approximately CAD $50 million (approximately USD $40 million). Given the material differences between the load information, the Company continues to investigate the differences in load information. Under normal ERCOT protocols resettlements occur 55 days after the operating day. However, ERCOT has indicated that it may resettle earlier. The total financial impact may materially change due to ERCOT final settlement data as it becomes available, any government or regulatory actions or potential litigation with respect thereto, failure of other parties to pay amounts owing to ERCOT and the impact of customer credit losses. “Regardless of uncertainty created by the Weather Event, our customers of Just Energy, Amigo Energy, Hudson Energy and Tara Energy can be certain that we are committed to doing all we can to be there for them in this extraordinary time. If you have a residential or small business fixed rate plan, our customers can rest assured that your fixed energy rate is locked in for the duration of your contracted term. Variable rate (month-to-month) residential customers will not see their rates impacted by the high settlement prices of the Weather Event,” said Scott Gahn, Just Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Gahn added, “We are also focused on supporting our partners and dedicated employees through this extraordinary event.” Third Quarter Developments Base EBITDA increased by 47% to $55.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 compared to $38.0 million in the year ago period, primarily driven by lower bad debt and lower expenses offsetting the lower Base gross margin and increased investment in digital marketing.Base gross margin was $131.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, an 8% decrease as compared to $142.5 million in the year ago period. Bad debt expense decreased by 83% to $3.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 compared to $20.0 million in the year ago period, with lower expenses in all areas.The Company ended the quarter with $91.2 million of total liquidity available, comprised of cash and cash equivalents of $66.6 million and available borrowing capacity of $24.6 million under the senior secured credit facility.Loss from continuing operations of $52.3 million in the third quarter, inclusive of $71.6 million of unrealized losses of derivative instruments and other. Fiscal Third Quarter Financial Highlights: As of December 31, 2020 $ in thousands, except customer dataFiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeSales$540,067 $658,521 -18%Base gross margin1$131,608 $142,484 -8%Base EBITDA2$55,785 $37,950 47%Unlevered free cash flow (Year to date)$27,813 $49,892 -44%Total liquidity$91,200 $56,960 60%Total net consumer (RCE) additions (18,000) (33,000)NMF3Total net commercial (RCE) additions (105,000) 48,000 NMF3 1 “Base gross margin” represents gross margin adjusted to include the effect of applying IFRS Interpretation Committee Agenda Decision 11, Physical Settlement of Contracts to Buy or Sell a Non-Financial Item, for realized gains (losses) on derivative instruments and other. Base gross margin is a key measure used by management to assess performance and allocate resources. Management believes that these realized gains (losses) on derivative instruments reflect the long-term financial performance of Just Energy and thus has included them in the Base gross margin calculation.2See “Non-IFRS financial measures”3 Not a meaningful figure. Sales: Decrease due to the smaller customer base resulting from the shift in focus to the Company’s strategy to increase the credit quality of customers and to onboard higher quality customers; a reduction in customers in Ontario, New York and California due to regulatory restrictions; selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as prior competitive pressures on pricing in the United States.Base gross margin: Decrease was primarily driven by a decline in the customer base, partially offset by higher realized margins across several markets.Base EBITDA: Increase was primarily driven by a reduction in bad debt expense and lower expenses, partially offset by lower Base gross margin and increased investment in digital marketing.Unlevered free cash flow: Decrease was primarily driven by the additional transaction costs incurred for the Recapitalization and payments to decrease commodity and supplier payables. Expense Detail: ($ thousands)Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeAdministrative expenses1$30,408$39,616-23%Selling commission expenses$30,485$36,698-17%Selling non-commission and marketing expense$11,784$14,572-19%Bad debt expense$3,358$19,996-83%1 Includes $1.6 million and $4.2 million of Strategic Review costs for the third quarter of fiscal 2021 and 2020, respectively. Administrative expenses: Decline was primarily driven by savings from the Canadian emergency wage subsidy and a reduction of expense related to the Strategic Review. Excluding expenses related to the Strategic Review, Administrative expenses decreased by 19% to $28.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020 compared to $35.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2019 due to savings from the Canadian emergency wage subsidy and savings from cost containment efforts.Selling commission expenses: Decrease was driven by lower commission expenses from lower sales from direct in-person channels driven by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lower customer additions in prior periods.Selling non-commission and marketing expenses: Decline was a result of cost reductions from the shut-down of the internal door-to-door sales channel and continued focus on cost containment, partially offset by increased investment in digital marketing. Bad debt expense: Decrease was a result of enhanced operating controls and operational processes implemented in the summer of 2019 and release of previous credit reserves as the Company continues to see consistent payment trends and minimal impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer Segment Performance Consumer Operating Highlights: Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeConsumer gross margin on added/renewed$303/RCE$273/RCE11%Embedded gross margin1 ($ millions)$1,023$1,271-20%Total gross (RCE) additions42,00055,000-24%Attrition (trailing 12 months)23%25%-8%Renewals (trailing 12 months)80%72%11%1See “Non-IFRS financial measures” Average Consumer gross margin per RCE for the customers added or renewed: The increase in the average gross margin on Consumer customers added and renewed was a result of the Company’s increased focus on profitable customer growth.Consumer embedded gross margin: The decline resulted from the decrease in the Consumer customer base and unfavourable exchange rate fluctuations.Consumer RCE additions: The decrease in customer additions was driven by selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the direct in-person channels offset by increases in digital sales channel. However, Consumer RCE additions increased by 24% from the three months ended September 30, 2020 due to increases in the digital and continued improvement in the retail sales channel.Consumer attrition rate: The improvements in attrition reflect the benefits of focus on sales to higher quality customers and increased focus on the customer experience.Consumer renewal rate: The increase was driven by improved retention offerings and increased focus on the customer experience. Consumer RCE Summary: CONSUMER10/1/2020AdditionsAttritionFailed to renew12/31/2020Change12/31/2019ChangeGas285,0001,000-8,000-3,000275,000-4%343,000-20%Electricity820,00041,000-36,000-13,000812,000-1%896,000-9%Total Consumer RCEs1,105,00042,000-44,000-16,0001,087,000-2%1,239,000-12% Commercial Segment Performance Commercial Operating Highlights: Fiscal 2021Fiscal 2020ChangeCommercial gross margin on added/renewed$70/RCE$65/RCE8%Embedded gross margin1($ millions)$360$569-37%Total gross commercial (RCE) additions41,000165,000-75%Attrition (trailing 12 months)11%9%22%Renewals (trailing 12 months)49%54%-9% 1See “Non-IFRS financial measures Average Commercial gross margin per RCE for the customers added or renewed: The increase was due to adding and renewing a larger proportion of lower usage, higher margin Commercial customers.Commercial embedded gross margin: The decline resulted from the decrease in the Commercial customer base and unfavourable exchange rate fluctuations.Commercial RCE additions: The decrease is primarily due to the selling constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the prior competitive pressures on pricing in the U.S. market. Commercial RCE additions increased by 46% from a low of 28,000 RCE additions for the three months ended June 30, 2020.Commercial attrition rate: The increase reflects a very competitive pricing market for commercial customers.Commercial renewal rate: The decrease reflects a competitive market with competitors pricing aggressively and Just Energy’s focus on retaining longer-term, profitable customers rather than pursuing low margin sales. Commercial RCE Summary: COMMERCIAL10/1/2020AdditionsAttritionFailed to renew12/31/2020Change12/31/2019ChangeGas407,000–11,000-10,000386,000-5%448,000-14%Electricity1,574,00041,000-62,000-63,0001,490,000-5%1,828,000-18%Total Commercial RCEs1,981,00041,000-73,000-73,0001,876,000-5%2,276,000-18% Outlook As previously announced, the Company is withdrawing its Base EBITDA and unlevered free cash flow guidance for fiscal 2021 and is continuing to assess the financial impact of the Weather Event. As of the time of this press release, the Company estimates that the financial impact of the Weather Event on the Company could be a loss of between $50 million and $315 million. The total financial impact may materially change due to ERCOT final settlement data as it becomes available, any government or regulatory actions or potential litigation with respect thereto, failure of other parties to pay amounts owing to ERCOT and impacts of customer credit losses. The estimated substantial losses could be materially adverse to the Company’s liquidity and its ability to continue as a going concern. The Company is in discussions with its key stakeholders regarding the impact of the Weather Event and will provide an update as appropriate. About Just Energy Group Inc. Just Energy is a retail energy provider specializing in electricity and natural gas commodities and bringing energy efficient solutions and renewable energy options to customers. Currently operating in the United States and Canada, Just Energy serves residential and commercial customers. Just Energy is the parent company of Amigo Energy, Filter Group Inc., Hudson Energy, Interactive Energy Group, Tara Energy, and terrapass. Visit https://investors.justenergy.com/ to learn more. FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS This press release may contain forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations that involve several risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ from those anticipated. These risks include, but are not limited to, risks with respect to the financial impact of the Weather Event on the Company, the potential for government or regulatory action or litigation, the quantum of the financial loss to the Company from the Weather Event and its impact on the Company’s liquidity, the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern, the Company’s discussions with key stakeholders regarding the Weather Event and the outcome thereof, the impact of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business, operations and sales; reliance on suppliers; uncertainties relating to the ultimate spread, severity and duration of COVID-19 and related adverse effects on the economies and financial markets of countries in which the Company operates; the ability of the Company to successfully implement its business continuity plans with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic; the Company’s ability to access sufficient capital to provide liquidity to manage its cash flow requirements; general economic, business and market conditions; the ability of management to execute its business plan; levels of customer natural gas and electricity consumption; extreme weather conditions; rates of customer additions and renewals; customer credit risk; rates of customer attrition; fluctuations in natural gas and electricity prices; interest and exchange rates; actions taken by governmental authorities including energy marketing regulation; increases in taxes and changes in government regulations and incentive programs; changes in regulatory regimes; results of litigation and decisions by regulatory authorities; competition; dependence on certain suppliers. Additional information on these and other factors that could affect Just Energy’s operations or financial results are included in Just Energy’s annual information form and other reports on file with Canadian securities regulatory authorities which can be accessed through the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website at www.sec.gov or through Just Energy’s website at www.justenergygroup.com. NON-IFRS MEASURES The financial measures such as “EBITDA”, “Base EBITDA, “Base gross margin”, “Free cash flow” “Unlevered free cash flow” and “Embedded gross margin” do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. This financial measure should not be considered as an alternative to, or more meaningful than, net income (loss), cash flow from operating activities and other measures of financial performance as determined in accordance with IFRS, but the Company believes that these measures are useful in providing relative operational profitability of the Company’s business. Please refer to “Key Terms” in the Just Energy Q3 Fiscal 2021’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the Company’s definition of “EBITDA” and other non-IFRS measures. Neither the Toronto Stock Exchange nor the New York Stock Exchange has approved nor disapproved of the information contained herein. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Michael CarterChief Financial OfficerJust Energymcarter@justenergy.com or InvestorsMichael CummingsAlpha IRPhone: (617) 982-0475JE@alpha-ir.com MediaBoyd ErmanLongview CommunicationsPhone: 416-523-5885berman@longviewcomms.ca Source: Just Energy Group Inc. Supplemental Tables: Financial and operating highlightsFor the three months ended December 31. (thousands of dollars, except where indicated and per share amounts) Fiscal 2021 Change Fiscal 2020Sales$540,067 (18)% $658,521 Base gross margin1 131,608 (8)% 142,484 Administrative expenses2 30,408 (23)% 39,616 Selling commission expenses 30,485 (17)% 36,698 Selling non-commission and marketing expense 11,784 (19)% 14,572 Bad debt expense 3,358 (83)% 19,996 Finance costs 17,677 (37)% 28,178 Profit (loss) from continuing operations (52,327) NMF3 20,601 Base EBITDA1 55,785 47% 37,950 Total gross consumer (RCE) additions 42,000 (24)% 55,000 Total gross commercial (RCE) additions 41,000 (75)% 165,000 Total net consumer (RCE) additions (18,000) NMF3 (33,000)Total net commercial (RCE) additions (105,000) NMF3 48,000 See “Non-IFRS financial measures” on page 6 of the MD&A.2 Includes $1.6 million and $4.2 million of Strategic Review costs for the third quarter of fiscal 2021 and 2020, respectively.3 Not a meaningful figure. 4 Profit (loss) includes the impact of unrealized gains (losses), which represents the mark to market of future commodity supply acquired to cover future customer demand as well as weather hedge contracts entered into as part of the Company’s risk management practice. The supply has been sold to customers at fixed prices, minimizing any realizable impact of mark to market gains and losses. Balance sheet (thousands of dollars) As at As at As at 12/31/2020 3/31/2020 12/31/2019Assets: Cash$66,635 $26,093 $17,988Trade and other receivables, net 344,080 403,907 404,124Total fair value of derivative financial assets 49,267 65,145 121,363Other current assets 143,145 203,270 140,923Total assets 1,069,042 1,215,833 1,294,205 Liabilities: Trade payables and other$472,763 $685,665 $523,650Total fair value of derivative financial liabilities 246,495 189,706 199,731Total long-term debt 518,768 782,003 774,600Total liabilities 1,284,778 1,711,121 1,559,955 Summary of Cash Flows For the nine months ended December 31. (thousands of dollars) Fiscal 2021 Fiscal 2020 Operating activities$(11,030) $8,135 Investing activities (3,353) (17,065)Financing activities, excluding dividends 61,820 42,570 Effect of foreign currency translation (6,895) (244)Increase in cash before dividends 40,542 33,396 Dividends (cash payments) – (25,335)Increase (decrease) in cash 40,542 8,061 Cash and cash equivalents – beginning of period 26,093 9,927 Cash and cash equivalents – end of period$66,635 $17,988

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Ottawa's new COVID-19 cases back in double digits – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa is back above 40 for the first time in two weeks, as the city’s vaccine administration pace slows down.

Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases of the virus in Ottawa on Friday. There were no new resolved cases for the second straight day, so the number of active cases has climbed to 41.

It’s the most since July 9, when there were 43 active cases in the city.

There are still no COVID-19 patients in hospital in the city, which has been the case for nine days now.

Earlier provincial officials had reported 10 new cases in Ottawa on Friday. Their numbers sometimes differ from Ottawa Public Health’s data due to different reporting times.

Provincewide, officials reported 192 new cases as the seven-day average crept up slightly.

The city administered an average of about 5,500 second shots on Wednesday and Thursday, down from more than 13,000 second doses per day last week.

Eighty-three per cent of eligible residents have received at least one shot. Sixty-nine per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, the city closed several vaccination clinics due to decreasing demand.

OTTAWA’S KEY COVID-19 STATISTICS

Ottawa is now in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Ottawa Public Health data:

  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (July 15 to July 21): 3.9 (up from 2.7)
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa (July 16 to July 22): 0.5 per cent (up from 0.2 per cent July 14-20)
  • Reproduction number (seven day average): 1.28 (up from 1.18)  

Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

There are 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, up from 24 on Wednesday. It’s the most active cases in the city in nearly two weeks.

For the second straight day, no more people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. The total number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 27,134.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health is reporting zero people in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses for a ninth straight day.

There are no patients in the intensive care unit.

These data are based on figures from Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, which refer to residents of Ottawa and do not include patient transfers from other regions.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Friday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 765,350 (+2,089)
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 624,143 (+10,919)
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 69 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa: 1,237,860 (+8,008) 

*Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario.

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

Ottawa Public Health data*:

  • Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,830 (+7)
  • Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 405
  • Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 35 (+1)
  • Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 43 (+5)
  • Percent of new cases with variant/mutation in last 30 days: 45 per cent
  • Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,117 (+8)
  • Deaths linked to variants/mutations: 101

*OPH notes that that VOC and mutation trends must be treated with caution due to the varying time required to complete VOC testing and/or genomic analysis following the initial positive test for SARS-CoV-2. Test results may be completed in batches and data corrections or updates can result in changes to case counts that may differ from past reports.

COVID-19 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY

  • 0-9 years old: Zero new cases (2,299 total cases)
  • 10-19 years-old: One new case (3,572 total cases)
  • 20-29 years-old: One new case (6,234 total cases)
  • 30-39 years-old: Three new cases (4,246 total cases)
  • 40-49 years-old: Zero new cases (3,649 total cases)
  • 50-59 years-old: One new case (3,332 total cases)
  • 60-69-years-old: One new case (1,962 total cases)
  • 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,095 total cases)
  • 80-89 years-old: Zero new cases (856 total cases)
  • 90+ years old: Zero new cases (520 total cases)
  • Unknown: Zero new cases (3 cases total)  

CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Two new cases
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: Zero new cases
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Three new cases

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Jeff Bezos' very negative rocket launch: One minuscule fix could have avoided it – Inverse

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A tsunami of dunks arrived in the wake of Jeff Bezos’ 11-minute rocket ride in a questionably shaped New Shepard launch vehicle earlier this week.

It seemed that large percentages of highly-online people were of the opinion that the world’s wealthiest man had just squandered enormous amounts of cash on a pointless joyride and that the reportedly $10 billion he’s invested so far in Blue Origin, his aerospace company, could have been better spent elsewhere.

Even reporter Soledad O’Brien got in on the pessimistic hot takes:

The question is, did Bezos and Blue Origin miss an opportunity to better shape the narrative around their media event? And, if so, what could they have done?

Revelations that Bezos might only pay a true tax rate of 0.98 percent — far less than the average American — and his moves to squash unionizing efforts at his company Amazon, certainly didn’t help the matter. The cowboy-hat-wearing CEO’s own comments thanking “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this,” were similarly tone-deaf, drawing condemnation from U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

But in some ways, those issues are orthogonal to the matter of what kind of value a suborbital flight like Bezos’ can bring to the world.

To put it another way, there is one tweak that Bezos could have made to improve the public’s perception of space travel and science, which undoubtedly took a severe beating because of his clumsy approach.

It’s something that Elon Musk — who is, no doubt just as big a huckster as Bezos — does with ease, and claims an army of space-loving fans because of it: Musk merely often explains there’s a larger purpose at play than just a rich boomer going to space.

The technology developed for the dick-shaped rocket can be used for good here, and the scientific discovery and research that tech may enable is potentially good for all humanity.

“People didn’t understand why it was important that commercial companies replicate something government did decades ago,” Laura Forczyk, owner of the space consulting firm Astralytical, tells Inverse.

“I like to talk about how money spent in space isn’t really spent in space; it’s spent on Earth. All the technologies created in spaceflight are useful to society.”

Forczyk saw the jaunt in terms of its potential for scientific discovery. New Shepard has already carried experiments for universities, NASA, and private companies on previous uncrewed flights and intends to continue to do so. Along with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which has also started taking experimental payloads into suborbital space, a larger market could develop for research opportunities in this region, Forczyk says.

Yet Blue Origin’s ham-handed attempts at self-promotion haven’t always been the finest. The company, which did not respond to a request for comment from Inverse, sent what appeared to be an extremely petty tweet aimed at their competitor, Virgin Galactic, shortly before the latter’s launch a week earlier:

“They were perhaps trying to point out, from a marketing standpoint, that their product and service had superior features,” Chris Lewicki, an engineer and space entrepreneur, tells Inverse. “In retrospect that was clearly a bad idea.”

Lewicki thinks that the misstep was relatively minor and likely to be soon forgotten. “But it creates a bit of a predisposition for people to be less receptive to the message that follows,” he said.

Perhaps Blue Origin won’t ultimately pay much of a price for such lapses in judgment. Research has shown that even negative word-of-mouth can increase public awareness of a brand and help sell goods, Jessie Liu, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, tells Inverse.

“Compared to [Elon Musk’s] SpaceX, Blue Origin was born with far less hype and publicity in the game of space travel,” she writes via email. “So even criticism about Jeff Bezos that gets people to talk about Blue Origin and create awareness is not necessarily a bad thing for the company.”

There might be an opportunity for the aerospace company to identify and covert the most engaged consumers through negative word-of-mouth, Liu added, since such comments tend to stem from people’s emotional investment, and passion can lead to activity.

Though he understood where some of it was coming from, the negative commentary frustrates Lewicki: “There seems to be a lot of attention on two or three individuals, and a wish that they shouldn’t be that wealthy or that they should be using their wealth in some different way.”

Both he and Forczyk point out that the fact that Bezos and other billionaires aren’t paying as much as they might to the U.S. government in taxes is more a matter for legislators to try to solve, and that Bezos is taking active steps to donate parts of his vast wealth to causes he deems valuable.

“For me, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection,” says Lewicki. “If I’m complaining that Bezos isn’t using his resources to charitably solve problems, then how do I rank up with using my time?”

For us standing at this moment in history, it can be hard to know what future results will come from something like this first passenger launch of New Shepard. Comparing Blue Origin to Amazon, Lewicki says that Bezos seems particularly adept at creating never-before-seen kinds of infrastructure to, say, routinely deliver packages quicker than anyone thought possible.

In the end, the haters are going to say whatever they want about Bezos and his pursuits. It’s possible (probable, even) that even if Bezos was clear about the loftier ambitions of Blue Origin — “millions of people living and working space” is the tag line — the launch would still be received poorly.

But the billionaire’s passion for space travel is deep-seated, and Lewicki says Bezos has personally told him he’s never planning to give up on that dream.

“Right now, the message he’s talking about is building the road to space,” he said. “That’s the theme he’s employing.”

Advocates for space exploration and the advancement of science and technology can hope that the road to space is a well-thought-out one, with the no-good optics and naked commercialism of this past week’s 11-minute flight quickly replaced with efforts that more clearly serve the greater good.

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COVID-19: Ottawa adult vaccinations at 69 per cent; Ontario reports 192 new cases – Ottawa Citizen

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Ottawa Public Health reported Friday that 69 per cent of adults in the capital are fully vaccinated.

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According to the OPH vaccination dashboard, updated Friday morning, 591,639 people aged 18 and over have the two shots.

In all, 83 per cent of the population 12 years and older has received one dose.

Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ottawa on Friday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 27,268.

The death toll remains unchanged at 593.

Ottawa Public Health knows of 41 active cases in the region. However, there are no COVID-19 patients in hospital.

In indicators of interest, the rolling seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is 3.9, while the populations per cent positivity in testing is 0.5.

The reproductive number, the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, is 1.28.

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Latest COVID-19 news in Ottawa

Ontario reported 192 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Friday.

While it’s the second week the province’s numbers have been below 200, confirmed cases have climbed significantly from Monday, when 130 new cases were reported.

Currently, there are 137 people in hospital in Ontario, with 136 in ICU due to COVID-related illness and 84 on a ventilator. (Ontario Public Health statistics of ICU hospitalizations and ventilator cases contain some patients who no longer test positive for COVID-19 but who are being treated for conditions caused by the virus.)

There have been 548,986 confirmed cases and 9,308 deaths since the pandemic began.

In health regions in the Ottawa area, Renfrew and District reported three new cases. There were no new cases reported in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Kingston or Leeds, Grenville and Lanark units.

Latest COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday morning.

Hospitalizations in the province declined by four patients, for a total of 67. The number of cases in ICU were unchanged at 21.

The province administered 94,624 additional vaccine doses were administered over the previous 24 hours.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 376,530 cases and 11,239 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 news in Canada

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam reported Friday that 46.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada, and more than 60 per cent of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.

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