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TV host Michael Strahan shoots to space in Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket – Global News

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Football star and TV celebrity Michael Strahan caught a ride to space with Jeff Bezos’ rocket-launching company Saturday, sharing the trip with the daughter of America’s first astronaut.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas, sending the capsule on a 10-minute flight with the two VIP guests and four paying customers. Their capsule soared to an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), providing a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting into the desert. The booster also came back to land successfully.


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How the private space race is allowing NASA to explore new frontiers


How the private space race is allowing NASA to explore new frontiers

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William Shatner’s spaceflight on Blue Origin capsule lands safely

It was five minutes and 50 miles (187 kilometers) shorter than Alan Shepard’s Mercury flight from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on May 5, 1961. His eldest daughter, Laura Shepard Churchley, took along a tiny piece of his Freedom 7 capsule as well as mementos from his Apollo 14 moonshot. She also packed some golf balls; her dad hit a couple on the lunar surface.

A co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, Strahan bubbled over with excitement in updates for the show all week. He took along his Super Bowl ring and retired New York Giants jersey No. 92. Bezos stashed a football on board that will go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It was unreal,” Strahan said after emerging from the capsule.


FILE – This Jan. 19, 2020 file photo shows Michael Strahan before the NFL NFC Championship football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara, Calif.


AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

He said he wants to go again — but Bezos joked he’d have to buy his own ticket next time.

Bezos, who flew to space in July in the same capsule, accompanied the six passengers to the launch pad near Van Horn. He had “Light this candle” painted on the launch tower’s bridge, borrowing from Alan Shepard’s famous gripe from inside Freedom 7 as the delays mounted: “Why don’t you fix your little problem and light this candle?”

Shepard Churchley — who volunteered for Blue Origin’s third passenger flight — borrowed her late father’s phrase, yelling “Let’s light this candle!” while awaiting takeoff. Fierce wind held up her flight for two days.

She heads the board of trustees for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

“I thought about Daddy coming down and thought, gosh he didn’t even get to enjoy any of what I’m getting to enjoy,” Shepard Churchley said following touchdown. “He was working. He had to do it himself. I went up for the ride!”


Click to play video: 'Emotions high as actor William Shatner returns to Earth after making space history'



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Emotions high as actor William Shatner returns to Earth after making space history


Emotions high as actor William Shatner returns to Earth after making space history – Oct 13, 2021

Saturday’s launch marks the last one this year by private U.S. companies as space tourism finally takes off. Virgin Galactic kicked it off in July, sending up its billionaire founder, Richard Branson, followed by Blue Origin and SpaceX. So many are flying that the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday it will no longer designate who is a commercial astronaut or give out wings.

Bezos, who founded Amazon six years before Blue Origin, was on the debut launch in July. The second, in October, included actor William Shatner — Captain James Kirk of TV’s original Star Trek. The late Leonard Nimoy’s daughter sent up a necklace with a “Vulcan Salute” charm on this flight, in honor of the show’s original Mr. Spock.

Among the four space tourists paying unspecified millions each were the first father-son combo: Financier Lane Bess and his son Cameron. Also flying: Voyager Space chairman and CEO Dylan Taylor and investor Evan Dick.

Blue Origin dedicated Saturday’s launch to Glen de Vries, who launched into space with Shatner in October, but died one month later in a plane crash.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Pfizer's newly approved COVID-19 antiviral pills arrive at Queensway Carleton Hospital – Ottawa Citizen

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Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment has been approved to treat mild to moderate COVID in adult cases where the patient has tested positive and is at high risk of getting severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.

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The Queensway Carleton Hospital has received 700 courses of Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill, the first take-home medication for treating COVID-19.

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Health Canada announced the prescription antiviral treatment was approved on Monday. Each course of treatment involves two antiviral drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. The treatment consists of two oral tablets of nirmatrelvir and one of ritonavir, taken together twice a day for five days.

The province says 15 hospitals will be receiving Paxlovid. For now, it’s unclear how it will be distributed, although the Public Health Agency of Canada has released preliminary guidelines for categories of patients to be prioritized.

Until now, COVID-19 medications were given intravenously or by injection in a hospital or health-care settings. Paxlovid is expected to be in high demand, but the global supply is limited.

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The Queensway Carleton Hospital is actively working on creating a regional process with other hospitals, led by director of pharmacy Joe Dagenais, to identify which patients are eligible and the criteria they need to meet to receive this treatment, hospital spokesperson Kelly Spence said. Dagenais is also head of the regional pharmacy committee and is spearheading regional plans.

  1. Pfizer’s antiviral treatment for COVID-19 is approved for adult patients with mild or moderate symptoms at high risk of becoming more seriously ill.

    Health Canada approves Pfizer anti-viral pill for treatment of COVID-19

  2. (FILES) This file handout photo courtesy of Pfizer shows the making of its Covid-19 antiviral pills inside a laboratory in Freiburg, Germany.

    Experts stress Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 treatment not a replacement for vaccines

“We are waiting to receive patient eligibility guidance from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table, hopefully coming this week,” Spence said.

Ontario expects to receive about 10,000 courses of treatment from the federal government in January, Ministry of Health spokesperson W.D. Lighthall said in a statement.

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“Based on the limited supply we expect to receive from the federal government, we have worked with our hospital partners and are prepared for distribution of antivirals at 15 sites across the province as soon we receive them.”

Initially, the medication will be prioritized for adults with the highest risk of severe outcomes, including immunocompromised patients, Lighthall said.

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The Ontario Medical Association is seeking more details but understands clinical assessment centres may have key roles in prioritizing testing and eligibility and ensuring timely delivery, spokesperson Leslie Shepherd said.

Manotick physician Dr. Alykhan Abdulla, past chair of the association’s section on general and family practice, said family physicians are still learning more about these medications and support the province’s plan at this time.

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“We want to have access to prescribing these medications in a month or so.”

Health Canada received the Paxlovid submission from Pfizer on Dec. 1 and conducted an expedited review, including information confirming its effectiveness against the Omicron variant.

Paxlovid has been approved to treat mild to moderate COVID in adult cases where the patient has tested positive and is at high risk of getting severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.

It’s not approved for patients who are already hospitalized or to prevent COVID. Paxlovid can’t be used more than five days in a row and has not been approved for those under 18 years old.

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s interim set of guidelines for prioritizing patients includes those who have the highest likelihood of severe illness, including patients who are immunocompromised, regardless of their vaccination status, as well as those over the age of 80 whose vaccinations are not up to date.

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Patients over 60 who live in underserved rural or remote communities, long-term care homes, First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities are also prioritized under the interim guidelines.

Pfizer reported in November that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 per cent compared with a placebo in high-risk adults who were not hospitalized.

Health Canada’s review found the benefits outweigh potential risks, but also cautioned that Paxlovid has the potential to interact with other prescription drugs.

Health officials also said public health measures and vaccinations remain key ways to prevent infection, and no drug is a substitute for vaccination.

Paxlovid could help keep thousands of people out of hospitals, Lighthall said.

“The arrival of these pills gives us increased confidence as we continue to review key indicators and data to determine when we can begin safely and gradually lifting public health measures, and we look forward to providing additional details in the near future.”

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Amazon to open fashion store where algorithms suggest what to try on

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Amazon.com Inc’s recipe for the department store of the future includes algorithmic recommendations and what one corporate director called “a magic closet” in the fitting room.

The online retailer is making another push to grow its fashion business, announcing on Thursday it will open its first-ever apparel store this year, with a tech twist. “We wouldn’t do anything in physical retail unless we felt we could significantly improve the customer experience,” said Simoina Vasen, a managing director.

At 30,000 square feet (2,787 sq meters), the planned “Amazon Style” shop near Los Angeles is smaller than the typical department store. Model items are on the racks, and customers scan a code using Amazon’s mobile app to select the color and size they would like. To try on the clothes, which are stored in the back, shoppers enter a virtual queue for a fitting room that they unlock with their smartphone when it is ready.

Inside, the dressing room is “a personal space for you to continue shopping without ever having to leave,” Vasen said. Each has a touchscreen letting shoppers request more items that staff deliver to a secure, two-sided closet “within minutes,” she said.

“It’s like a magic closet with seemingly endless selection,” Vasen said.

The touchscreens suggest items to shoppers too. Amazon keeps a record of every good a customer scans so its algorithms personalize clothing recommendations. Shoppers can fill out a style survey as well. By the time they arrive in a fitting room, employees have already deposited customers’ requested items and others that Amazon has picked.

Shoppers can opt out with a concierge’s help, Amazon said.

Amazon has unveiled tech to help customers choose outfits before. The company has surpassed Walmart Inc as the most-shopped clothing retailer in the United States, according to analyst research.

But it still has room to expand and compete with the likes of Macy’s Inc and Nordstrom Inc, which have opened smaller-format stores. Amazon’s lineup of physical grocery and convenience shops have yet to upend brick-and-mortar retail.

The company’s new store aims to attract a broad range of shoppers with hundreds of brands, Vasen said, declining to name examples.

It has hundreds of associates, and no cashier-less checkout like some Amazon stores, Vasen said. Still, using a biometric system known as Amazon One, customers can pay with a swipe of their palm.

 

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, California; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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‘Pressing need’ for Bank of Canada to raise interest rates amid inflation surge – Global News

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The likelihood of an interest rate hike from the Bank of Canada next week is growing as record levels of inflation and high housing prices coincide with an anticipated economic rebound from the Omicron wave of the pandemic, some economists say.

Scotiabank Economics said in a note to investors Wednesday that it expects the Bank of Canada to raise its key overnight rate by 25 basis points to 0.5 per cent at its next meeting Jan 26.

This would be the first of multiple interest rate hikes over the course of the year, senior economist Jean-Francois Perrault forecasts, with rates hitting two per cent by the end of 2022.

While the Bank of Canada signalled at the end of last year that interest rate increases were likely for 2022, it had pegged possible hikes towards the middle of the year.

Read more:

Will the Bank of Canada hike interest rates next week? More investors saying yes

But Perrault said in his note that the central bank could be forced to act sooner than anticipated after Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that the annual rate of inflation hit 4.8 per cent in December — the highest level in 30 years.

“Despite a clear, but temporary, negative impact of Omicron on economic activity, it is clear that inflationary pressures are larger than earlier assessed and require a more robust monetary policy response,” he wrote.

A ‘pressing need’ for higher rates

James Orlando, a senior economist with TD Economics, told Global News in an interview that conditions are right for an interest rate hike in the near future.

“The Bank of Canada is in a position right now where inflation is at this uncomfortable level, where the economy is hot, where we’re likely going to bounce back strongly from this Omicron time period,” he said.

“There really is a pressing need for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates.”


Click to play video: 'O’Toole takes aim at Canada’s economic update, rising inflation costs'



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O’Toole takes aim at Canada’s economic update, rising inflation costs


O’Toole takes aim at Canada’s economic update, rising inflation costs – Dec 14, 2021

Orlando also believes the hike will start with 25 basis points, noting that after nearly two years of rock-bottom interest rates tied to the pandemic, the central bank won’t “want to shock people.”

Though markets have built in an interest rate hike on Jan. 26, Orlando says there is a possibility the bank will hold off until its March announcement to wait for the Omicron wave to recede and see how businesses bounce back.

“But with everyone expecting it, the question for the Bank of Canada is, why should they wait?” he asks.

Stephen Tapp, senior economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, agrees.

“My expectation is that, certainly, a rate hike is on the table next Wednesday,” he tells Global News.

He and Orlando said the Bank of Canada would be able to tie an interest rate hike to a monetary policy report due out the same day. Both noted the increase could wait until the March decision if the governors are feeling skittish about the Omicron recovery, but a warning of a looming increase would at least be in the cards for next week.

Tapp says inflation is having a two-pronged effect on businesses right now. Not only are their costs rising due to more expensive goods, but an anticipated need to increase wages in 2022 to cover inflationary pressures will continue to affect their bottom lines.

Read more:

Businesses indirectly hit in lockdowns slipping through cracks of COVID supports

Can the Bank of Canada solve the ‘inflation puzzle?’

While the central bank might be feeling the pressure to raise interest rates to dampen inflation, some of the causes of surging prices could well be out of its hands.

“There is little that the Bank of Canada can do to address the biggest part of the inflation puzzle, and that is the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions,” says Tu Nguyen, economist with accounting firm RSM Canada.

Nguyen and most other economists who spoke to Global News this week said inflation could remain around the five per cent mark for the next few months but eventually come back down toward three per cent by the end of the year, closer to the upper bound of the Bank of Canada’s targeted range.

Also putting pressure on the Bank of Canada to act are record high housing prices.

Orlando says that Canada could see “further housing market acceleration” if the Bank of Canada doesn’t start to raise its overnight lending rates.

“As house prices go up, people get bigger and bigger mortgages, they lever themselves up to uncomfortable levels.” he says. “And so you just add so much more vulnerability to the economy.”


Click to play video: 'How inflation could impact the housing market in 2022'



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How inflation could impact the housing market in 2022


How inflation could impact the housing market in 2022 – Dec 15, 2021

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

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