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Mars Perseverance attempts its 'daredevil' landing this week – Yahoo News Canada

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The Canadian Press

New vaccine advice in Canada; Capitol riot inquiry planned: In The News for Feb. 16

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 16… What we are watching in Canada … There is new guidance from Canada’s national advisory committee on immunization that says adults from racialized communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic should be prioritized for shots in the second stage of the vaccination campaign. Essential workers who can’t do their jobs from home moved into the second stage, instead of focusing on health workers with lower-risk jobs, under the advice given Monday. The second stage is expected to start this spring after the provinces vaccinate all staff and residents at long-term care homes, adults aged 70 or older, front-line health workers and adults in Indigenous communities. The list of groups that should receive COVID-19 vaccines in the second stage includes people between 60 and 69 years old, racialized adults from groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19, essential workers, first responders, caregivers and residents and staff of congregate living sittings including homeless shelters, prisons and migrant workers’ quarters. The committee added a third stage to its immunization recommendations that includes people between 16 and 59 years old with underlying conditions, those who are between 50 and 59 years old with no underlying conditions, and health workers and essential workers who are didn’t got shots in previous rounds. The new recommendations prioritize racialized adults from groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic ahead of some older non-racialized people. Health authorities in the provinces and the territories decide who gets vaccinated first. — Also this … Now that a lawsuit against him has been dropped, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he will continue to fight for equality outside the courts. Ujiri thanked Raptors players, staff, ownership and fans in a statement Monday for standing with him throughout the lawsuit, which stemmed from an altercation with a California law enforcement officer at the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif. The lawsuit, filed by Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland and his wife, Kelly, was dropped on Wednesday, as was a countersuit filed by Ujiri. “I have decided my fight isn’t a legal one,” Ujiri said in the statement. “Now the challenge is this: What can we do to stop another man or woman from finding themselves in front of a judge or behind bars because they committed no crime other than being Black? That is the work that each one of us must commit to, every day.” A video of Ujiri speaking on the incident recorded in August, around the time videos of the incident were circulating, was posted Monday on the Raptors’ Twitter feed. “When I look at this I ask: Who are we as people?” Ujiri says in the video. “Who are we as human beings? “It comes down to human decency.” — What we are watching in the U.S. … Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday in a letter that the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex — and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” After former President Donald Trump’s acquittal at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission to examine the deadly insurrection. Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Pelosi, D-Calif., asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process. In her letter Monday, Pelosi said, “It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened.” Lawmakers from both parties, speaking on Sunday’s news shows, signalled that even more inquiries were likely. The Senate verdict Saturday, with its 57-43 majority falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump, hardly put to rest the debate about the Republican former president’s culpability for the Jan. 6 assault. “There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.” — What we are watching in the rest of the world … Passengers arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport were escorted by security guards to buses that took them to nearby hotels on Monday as Britain’s newly established quarantine hotels received their first guests. Some of the travellers said they had tried and failed to make it to Britain before Monday to avoid the quarantine, which has been established as the government tries to prevent new coronavirus variants from derailing its vaccination drive. Zari Tadayon, who flew to Heathrow from Dubai and was taken to the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near the airport, said she had hoped she would be allowed to quarantine at her home in London. She said she felt “horrible” about the enforced 10-day hotel stay. “How I’m going to cope I don’t know. It’s going to be tough,” she said. Britain has given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine to almost a quarter of its population, but health officials are concerned that vaccines may not work as well on some new strains of the virus, including one first identified in South Africa. Under the new rules, residents of the U.K. and Ireland arriving in England from 33 high-risk countries must stay in designated hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door. In Scotland the rule applies to arrivals from any country. International travel has already been sharply curbed by the pandemic and Britons are currently barred from going on overseas vacations. Critics, however, say Britain’s quarantine hotels are being set up too late, with the South African variant already circulating in the U.K. — On this day in 1984 … Quebec speedskater Gaetan Boucher completed the greatest individual Canadian showing in an Olympic Games. Boucher added the 1,500-metre gold medal in Sarajevo to his gold in the 1,000-metre and his bronze in the 500. Boucher also won the silver in the 1,000 at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. — In entertainment … Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex will be speaking with Oprah Winfrey in a primetime television interview next month on CBS. It’s the couple’s first major television interview since Harry and Meghan Markle quit royal duties and bought a home last year in the U.S. The 90-minute “Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” will air March 7, CBS announced Monday. Winfrey knows the couple well. She attended their wedding in 2018 and lives near them in Montecito, Calif. “Winfrey will speak with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in a wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure,” according to CBS. “Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family.” On Sunday, a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry confirmed that they were expecting a second child. Their first son, Archie, was born in 2019. — ICYMI … A vegan version of the iconic KitKat candy bar is being developed by Nestle. The Swiss-based company didn’t spell out in its announcement on Monday the exact formula for the new treat to be known as the KitKat V. But it said it would “soon have a delicious plant-based option that delivers the perfect balance between crispy wafer and smooth chocolate that people know and love.” The company said it already has launched plant-based alternatives to dairy made from rice, oat, soy, coconut, pea and almonds that are found in its non-dairy ice cream, coffee creamers and other products. The KitKat V, which it said will be launched later this year in “several countries across the globe,” is certified vegan and uses 100 per cent sustainable cocoa, the company said. As the product is tested it will only be available in the company’s boutique KitKat Chocolatory shops or online, and through select retailers. It will be available in Britain, where the KitKat was originally developed in York — and where the research on the vegan version was done — but not in the U.S. where the KitKat is produced under a licensing agreement with Hershey’s, the company said. Nestle said it is not releasing information on other countries participating in the initial roll-out at the moment. — This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021 The Canadian Press

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Lambton public health warns of COVID-19 vaccine scams – The Beacon Herald

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Public health officials are cautioning residents to be wary of COVID-19 vaccine-related scams circulating throughout the Sarnia area.

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Public health officials are cautioning residents to be wary of COVID-19 vaccine-related scams circulating throughout the Sarnia area.

Lambton public health officials said Friday they’ve heard “several reports” of seniors being contacted since the local online booking system and call centre opened Thursday to residents age 90 and older.

Donna Schmidtmeyer, the health unit’s supervisor of health promotion, said they don’t charge fees to register or to get the vaccine.

“We will not ask you for any financial information whatsoever,” she said in a statement. “And, unless you have called (public health) to pre-register for the vaccine directly or signed up for the pre-registration using our online platform, no one should contact you and ask for any personal information.”

The health unit urged people to check the source of COVID-19 information they’re receiving.

“If you’re unsure or your gut is telling you something is off, it probably is,” the health unit said.

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People are encouraged to call Lambton public health at 519-383-8331 for accurate information.

The warning came amid the province releasing details Friday on the second phase of its vaccine distribution plan. A larger list of Ontarians – people between the ages of 60 and 79 and those with specific health conditions or who can’t work from home – will be included as officials aim to vaccinate nine-million residents between April and July.

More than 4,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed to Sarnia-area residents – mainly into the arms of seniors and front-line health-care workers and caregivers – as of Wednesday. That figure is expected to climb as fixed-site clinics and mobile teams continue to distribute doses.

The number of COVID-19 cases also climbed Friday, with 122 considered active – nearly double from two days ago – while the overall caseload climbed 24 to 2,187.

A recent spread of the virus at Kettle and Stony Point has contributed to the sudden spike as the community had 26 active cases as of Thursday. Lambton public health’s top medical official said they’re working closely with the First Nation to trace close contacts and to set up a vaccine clinic there.

But a health unit spokesperson said Friday via email the situation is not officially classified as an outbreak. An emergency shelter, the jail, a retirement home and a long-term care facility in Sarnia as well as an unidentified local business and a retirement home in Lambton Shores were all dealing with official outbreaks. The number of cases connected to those facilities has held steady in recent days.

Eight Lambton Kent District and five St. Clair Catholic District school board schools had at least one case linked to them Friday, but they were all still open.

Ontario said Friday it will shift some health units to different colours in its colour-coded restriction system starting next week, but Lambton will stay in red.

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Mars rover travels 6.5 metres in ‘flawless’ first drive – Al Jazeera English

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Perseverance rover can travel 200 metres a day, but scientists need to conduct tests and safety checks before it ventures further.

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab’s picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of an enormous crater, mission managers said on Friday.

The Perseverance rover first ventured from its landing position Thursday, two weeks after landing on the Red Planet to seek signs of past life.

Taking directions from mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled four metres (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backwards another 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) for a total of 6.5 metres (21.3 feet) during its half-hour test within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars.

“It went incredibly well,” Anais Zarifian, a JPL mobility test engineer for Perseverance, said during a teleconference briefing with reporters, calling it a “huge milestone” for the mission.

The roundabout, back and forth drive lasted just 33 minutes and went so well that the six-wheeled rover was back on the move Friday.

Perseverance is capable of averaging 200 metres of driving a day.

The surface of Mars directly below NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover is seen using the Rover Down-Look Camera in an image acquired February 22, 2021 [File: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via Reuters]

NASA displayed a photo taken by the rover showing the wheel tread marks left in the reddish, sandy Martian soil after its first drive.

Another vivid image of the surrounding landscape shows a rugged, ruddy terrain littered with large, dark boulders in the foreground and a tall outcropping of rocky, layered deposits in the distance – marking the edge of the river delta.

So far, Perseverance and its hardware, including its main robot arm, appear to be operating flawlessly, according to Robert Hogg, deputy mission manager.

But JPL engineers still have additional equipment checks to run on the rover’s many instruments before they will be ready to send the robot on a more ambitious journey as part of its primary mission to search for traces of fossilised microbial life.

The team has yet to conduct post-landing tests of the rover’s sophisticated system to drill and collect rock samples for return to Earth via future Mars missions.

The deck of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, featuring Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, one of the instruments on its stowed arm, is seen in an image taken by the rover’s navigation cameras on Mars February 20, 2021 [File: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via Reuters]

As soon as the system checks on Perseverance are complete, the rover will head for an ancient river delta to collect rocks for return to Earth a decade from now.

Scientists are debating whether to take the smoother route to get to the nearby delta or a possibly tougher way with intriguing remnants from that once-watery time three to four billion years ago.

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NASA's Perseverance rover makes 1st test drive on Mars – CBC.ca

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NASA’s newest Mars rover hit the dusty red road this week, putting 6.5 metres on the odometer in its first test drive.

The Perseverance rover ventured from its landing position Thursday, two weeks after landing on the Red Planet to seek signs of past life.

The roundabout, back-and-forth drive lasted 33 minutes and went so well that more driving was on tap Friday and Saturday for the six-wheeled rover.

“This is really the start of our journey here,” said Rich Rieber, the NASA engineer who plotted the route. “This is going to be like the Odyssey, adventures along the way, hopefully no Cyclops, and I’m sure there will be stories aplenty written about it.”

In its first drive, Perseverance went forward four metres, took a 150-degree left turn, then backed up 2.5 metres. During a news conference Friday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., shared photos of its tracks over and around small rocks.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see wheel tracks and I’ve seen a lot of them,” said engineer Anais Zarafian. “This is just a huge milestone for the mission.”

Flight controllers are still checking all of Perseverance’s systems. So far, everything is looking good. The rover’s two-metre robot arm, for instance, flexed its muscles for the first time Tuesday.

Before the car-size rover can head for an ancient river delta to collect rocks for eventual return to Earth, it must drop its so-called protective “belly pan” and release an experimental helicopter named Ingenuity.

As it turns out, Perseverance landed right on the edge of a potential helicopter landing strip — a nice, flat spot, according to Rieber. So the plan is to drive out of this landing strip, ditch the pan, then return for Ingenuity’s highly anticipated test flight. All this should be accomplished by late spring.

WATCH | NASA videos show Perseverance landing on Mars:

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover safely landed on the surface of the Red Planet last week and, for the first time, the edge-of-your-seat descent was captured in footage from high-definition video cameras, which was released on Monday. The University of Alberta’s Chris Herd walks us through the incredible images. 9:02

Scientists are debating whether to take the smoother route to get to the nearby delta or a possibly tougher way with intriguing remnants from that once-watery time three billion to four billion years ago.

Perseverance — NASA’s biggest and most elaborate rover yet — became the ninth U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on Mars on Feb. 18. China hopes to land its smaller rover — currently orbiting the red planet — in another few months.

NASA scientists, meanwhile, announced Friday that they’ve named Perseverance’s touchdown site in honour of the late science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, who grew up next door to JPL in Pasadena. She was one of the first Black people to receive mainstream attention for science fiction. Her works included Bloodchild and Other Stories and Parable of the Sower.

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