بایگانی نویسنده: فوربوس

Downgraded Isaias churns along Florida’s Atlantic coast, bringing heavy rains

Bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida’s east coast on Sunday while officials dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus kept a close watch on the weakened tropical storm.

Isaias was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon, but it was still threatening to bring heavy rain and flooding as it crawled just off Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a news conference after the storm spent hours roughing up the Bahamas.

Upper-level winds took much of the strength out of Isaias, said Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm also slowed down considerably.

“We were expecting a hurricane to develop and it didn’t,” Stewart said Sunday. “It’s a tale of two storms. If you live on the west side of the storm, you didn’t get much. If you live east of the storm, there’s a lot of nasty weather there.”

Florida is on the west side of Isaias.

Authorities closed beaches, parks and COVID-19 testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn’t blow away. DeSantis said the state is anticipating power outages and asked residents to have a week’s supply of water, food and medicine on hand.

Kent Ahern and his dog Blanco watch waves churned up by tropical storm Isaias in Vero Beach, Fla., on Sunday. (Wilfredo Lee/The Associated Press)

Officials wrestled with how to prepare shelters where people can seek refuge from the storm if necessary, while also safely physically distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Isaias put another burden on communities already hit by other storms and sickness.

In Palm Beach County, about 150 people were in shelters, said emergency management spokesperson Lisa De La Rionda. The county has a voluntary evacuation order for those living in mobile or manufactured homes, or those who feel their home can’t withstand winds.

‘We don’t anticipate many more evacuations’

“We don’t anticipate many more evacuations,” she said, adding that the evacuees are physically distant from each other and are wearing masks due to the virus.

In Indian River County, north of West Palm Beach, Fla., emergency shelters were clearing out Sunday after Isaias was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Waves driven by tropical storm Isaias crash over the jetty on the north side of the Palm Beach Inlet in Palm Beach Shores on Sunday. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post via The Associated Press)

Officials told TCPalm newspapers that 38 people registered at three schools used as shelters. Those areas now must be cleaned to ensure no traces of the coronavirus remain as teachers and staff report Monday to prepare for the upcoming school year.

No one checked in with COVID-19 symptoms. Temperature checks were done at the door, officials said, and isolation rooms were designated in case anyone came in with symptoms.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds declined steadily throughout Saturday, and were at 100 km/h at 2 p.m. EDT Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The storm’s centre was located about 75 kilometres east-southeast of Vero Beach, Fla.

The centre of the storm was forecast to travel near the state’s eastern coast throughout the day, and fluctuations in strength are possible into Tuesday, forecasters said.

Heavy rain, flooding and high winds could batter much of the East Coast this week as the system is forecast to track up or just off the Atlantic seaboard.

The storm did not affect the successful return of two astronauts aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which splashed down into calm waters in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Fla. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode the capsule back to Earth less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida.

Isaias has already caused destruction in the Caribbean: On Thursday, before it became a hurricane, it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

WATCH | Isaias hits Puerto Rico:

Widespread damage reported as storm gains hurricane strength on its way to U.S. East Coast. 1:01

One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floods that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.

Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday.

Officials in the Bahamas opened shelters for people in Abaco island to help those who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people in September 2019.

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Iran Says It’s Detained Leader of California-Based Exile Group

TEHRAN, Iran—Iran on Saturday said it detained an Iranian-American leader of a little-known California-based militant opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry also alleged Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran planned other attacks around the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the United States over its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

It was unclear how the 65-year-old Sharmahd, whom Iran accused of running the opposition group’s Tondar militant wing, ended up detained by intelligence officials. The Intelligence Ministry called it a “complex operation,” without elaborating. It published a purported picture of Sharmahd, blindfolded, on its website.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi later appeared on state TV, saying Sharmahd had been arrested in Iran, without elaborating.

Requests for comment sent by email to the Glendora-based Kingdom Assembly of Iran were not immediately answered and a telephone number for the group no longer worked.

The U.S. State Department, which mentioned how Sharmahd earlier had been targeted for assassination in a recent report called “Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran’s Destructive Activities,” acknowledged reports of his detention.

“The Iranian regime has a long history of detaining Iranians and foreign nationals on spurious charges,” the State Department said in a statement. “We urge Iran to be fully transparent and abide by all international legal standards.”

Iranian state television broadcast a report on Sharmahd’s arrest, linking him to the 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. It also said his group was behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.

The report also alleged without providing evidence that Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, plotted attacks on a dam and planned to use cyanide bombs at Tehran’s annual book fair.

State TV later aired footage of Sharmahd interspersed with footage from the moment of the 2008 explosion at the Shiraz mosque. Sharmahd’s face appeared swollen and the style of the footage resembled one of what a rights group has identified as over 350 coerced confessions aired by the broadcaster over the last decade.

The Intelligence Ministry has not said what charges Sharmahd will face. Prisoners earlier accused in the same attack were sentenced to death and executed.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran, known in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and Tondar seek to restore Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before its Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.

Iranian intelligence operatives in the past have used family members and other tricks to lure targets back to Iran or friendly countries to be captured. An alleged Iranian government operative who allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill Sharmahd disappeared in 2010 before facing trial in California, likely having returned to Iran.

A 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable from London later published by WikiLeaks shows that a Voice of America commentator said that same operative earlier had been in contact with him. British anti-terror police later warned the commentator that he “had been targeted by the Iranian regime,” the cable said.

The two cases marked “a clear escalation in the regime’s attempts to intimidate critics outside its borders, and could have a chilling effect on journalists, academics and others in the West who until recently felt little physical threat from the regime,” the cable said.

By Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell

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‘Health restrictions’ mean no media at Trump renomination in North Carolina

The vote to renominate U.S. President Donald Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the media present, a spokesperson for the Republican National Convention said, citing the coronavirus.

While Trump called off the public components of the convention in Florida last month due to spiking cases of COVID-19 across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in Charlotte, N.C., on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the Republican standard-bearer once more.

Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will be the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.

“Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed [to the] press Friday, Aug. 21 to Monday, Aug. 24,” a convention spokesperson said. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”

The decision was first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Privately, some Republican delegations have raised logistical issues with travelling to the event, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travellers returning from states experiencing surges in cases.

The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention. Alternate delegates and guests have already been prohibited.

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Mnuchin Says US Needs ‘Balance’ Between Debt, Pandemic Relief

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the GOP is trying not to add too much to the national deficit with more COVID-19 relief legislation, while defending Senate Republicans for their delay in coming up with a new package.

Mnuchin said Republicans are trying to see how the money was already spent in prior pandemic relief bills before adding more money.

“We’ve authorized over $3 trillion into the U.S. economy,” Mnuchin told ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday. “This has never been done in the history of time.”

The Treasury secretary said that care is needed to make sure that a relief package can help Americans in the present while not saddling the country with trillions of dollars in debt.

“We wanted to wait and see how the money was going to work, and we have to balance,” Mnuchin said. “There’s obviously a need to support workers, support the economy, people who through no fault of their own are shut down because of this terrible disease. On the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt for future generations. So the president’s determined to spend what we need to spend, and we’re acting very quickly now.”

Mnuchin, at the same time, noted that President Donald Trump is “very concerned” about federal unemployment benefits expiring for millions of Americans. White House officials have proposed extending the $600-per-week payments for another week, but top Democrats “are insistent on having this as part of a larger deal,” Mnuchin said.

Last week, the Senate GOP proposed the $1 trillion HEALS Act, while Democrats in May passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act.

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SpaceX mission with NASA astronauts aboard completes 1st splashdown in 45 years

Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year.

Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode the SpaceX Dragon capsule back to Earth less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida. The capsule parachuted into the calm gulf waters about 64 kilometres off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., hundreds of kilometres from tropical storm Isaias pounding Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” the company’s Mission Control said.

“It was truly our honour and privilege,” Hurley replied.

The astronauts’ ride home in the capsule, dubbed Endeavour, was fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside.

The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 28,000 km/h to 560 km/h during atmospheric re-entry, and finally to 24 km/h at splashdown. Peak heating during descent was 1,900 C. The anticipated top G forces felt by the crew: four to five times the force of Earth’s gravity.

“Endeavour has you loud and clear,” Hurley radioed following a brief communication blackout caused by the heat of atmospheric entry.

Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 4.5-metre capsule was on board a SpaceX recovery ship with more than 40 staff, including doctors and nurses. To keep the returning astronauts safe in the pandemic, the recovery crew quarantined for two weeks and were tested for the coronavirus.

The opening of the hatch was held up by extra checks for toxic rocket fumes. After medical exams, the astronauts were expected to fly home to Houston for a reunion with their wives and sons.

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz. The Mercury and Gemini crews in the early to mid-1960s parachuted into the Atlantic, while most of the later Apollo capsules hit the Pacific. The lone Russian “splashdown” was in 1976 on a partially frozen lake amid a blizzard following an aborted mission; the harrowing recovery took hours.

‘Next era in human spaceflight’

SpaceX made history with this mission, which launched May 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade. Hurley came full circle, serving as pilot of NASA’s last space shuttle flight in 2011 and the commander of this SpaceX flight.

Musk monitored the descent and splashdown from SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, Calif.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who both watched the launch in Florida, sent their congratulations via Twitter.

NASA turned to SpaceX and also Boeing to build capsules and ferry astronauts to and from the space station, following the retirement of the shuttles. Until Hurley and Behnken rocketed into orbit, NASA astronauts relied on Russian rockets. SpaceX already had experience hauling cargo to the space station, bringing those capsules back to a Pacific splashdown.

“This is the next era in human spaceflight where NASA gets to be the customer,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said from Johnson Space Center in Houston shortly before the astronauts’ return.

SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September. This next mission of four astronauts will spend a full six months aboard the space station. Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will be refurbished for another flight next spring. A Houston company run by a former NASA official, meanwhile, has partnered with SpaceX to send three customers to the space station in fall 2021.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, is seen docked to the International Space station on July 1. (NASA via The Associated Press)

Boeing doesn’t expect to launch its first crew until next year. The company encountered significant software problems in the debut of its Starliner capsule, with no one aboard, last year. Its capsules will touch down in the U.S. Southwest desert.

By beating Boeing, SpaceX laid claim to a small U.S. flag left at the space station by Hurley and the rest of the last shuttle crew. The flag — which also flew on the first shuttle flight — was carefully packed aboard the Dragon for the homecoming.

Astronauts Bob Behnken, front left, and Doug Hurley, front right, are seen during an interview on the International Space Station on Saturday. (NASA/The Associated Press)

Also on board: a toy dinosaur named Tremor, sent into space by the astronauts’ young sons.

The boys recorded a wakeup call for their fathers Sunday morning, urging them to “rise and shine” and “we can’t wait to see you.”

“Don’t worry, you can sleep in tomorrow,” said Behnken’s six-year-old son Theo, who was promised a puppy after the flight. “Hurry home so we can go get my dog.”

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SpaceX Guiding NASA Astronauts to 1st Splashdown in 45 Years

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—The first astronauts to ride a SpaceX capsule into orbit headed toward a retro-style splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon to close out a two-month test flight.

It will mark the first splashdown in 45 years for NASA astronauts and the first return in the gulf. Unlike Florida’s Atlantic coast, already feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, the waves and wind were calm near Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.

SpaceX Astronauts Return
Astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken prepare for undocking from the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Aug. 1, 2020. (NASA via AP)

Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken departed the International Space Station on Saturday night, and awoke to a recording of their young children urging them to “rise and shine” and “we can’t wait to see you.”

“Don’t worry, you can sleep in tomorrow,” said Behnken’s 6-year-old son Theo, who was promised a puppy after the flight. “Hurry home so we can go get my dog.”

Their atypical ride home by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company—the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit—was expected to be fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside.

SpaceX Astronauts Return
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, left, before it undocks from the International Space Station on Aug. 1, 2020. (NASA via AP)

The Dragon capsule, named Endeavour by its crew, was to go from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph to 350 mph during re-entry in the atmosphere and finally to 15 mph at splashdown. Peak heating during descent: 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Top G forces: four to five times the force of Earth’s gravity.

A SpaceX recovery ship with more than 40 staff, including doctors and nurses, was poised to move in at splashdown, with two smaller, faster boats leading the way. To keep the returning astronauts safe in the pandemic, the recovery crew self-quarantined for two weeks and were tested for the coronavirus.

SpaceX expected it to take a half-hour for the ship to arrive at the capsule and additional time to lift it out of the water onto the deck. A flight surgeon was going to be the first to look into the capsule, once the hatch is pulled open. After medical exams, the astronauts were expected to fly home to Houston.

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz. The Mercury and Gemini crews in the early to mid 1960s parachuted into the Atlantic, while most of the later Apollo capsules hit the Pacific. The lone Russian “splashdown” was in 1976 on a partially frozen lake amid a blizzard following an aborted mission; the harrowing recovery took hours.

Epoch Times Photo
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying two astronauts launches at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 30, 2020. (SpaceX via Getty Images)

SpaceX made history with this mission, which launched May 30 from Florida. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade. Hurley came full circle, serving as pilot of NASA’s last space shuttle flight in 2011 and the commander of this SpaceX flight.

NASA turned to SpaceX and also Boeing to ferry astronauts to and from the space station, following the retirement of the shuttles. Until Hurley and Behnken rocketed into orbit, NASA astronauts relied on Russian rockets.

SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September. This next mission of four astronauts will spend a full six months aboard the space station. Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will be refurbished for another flight next spring.

Boeing doesn’t expect to launch its first crew until next year. The company encountered significant software problems in the debut of its Starliner capsule, with no one aboard, last year.

By beating Boeing, SpaceX laid claim to a U.S. flag left at the space station by Hurley and the rest of the last shuttle crew. The flag—which also flew on the first shuttle flight—was carefully packed aboard the Dragon for the homecoming.

By Marcia Dunn

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COVID-19 cases surge in India, Philippines as Australia imposes curfew

The latest:

  • Month of July alone has seen more than 1.1 million cases in India.
  • South Africa passes half a million COVID-19 cases.
  • New cases reported in Italy dipped below 300 for 1st time.
  • Norway says at least 40 onboard cruise ship test positive.
  • ‘Health restrictions’ mean no media at Trump renomination.

Surges of new coronavirus cases continued Sunday in India and the Philippines, which recorded another daily high to surpass 100,000 total infections, as officials across the globe considered stricter measures to stymie the spread of the pandemic.

A curfew was imposed on Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, following a spike in infections.

Countries including the United States, India and South Africa are struggling to rein in their first wave of infections while South Korea and others where the disease abated try to avert a second wave as curbs on travel and trade ease.

Governments worldwide have reported 684,075 deaths and 17.8 million cases, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

A person has their pulse checked by a health worker during a check up campaign for COVID-19 at a residential society in Mumbai on Sunday. (Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters)

India’s 54,735 new cases were down from the previous day’s record 57,118 but raised the total to 1.75 million. The month of July accounted for more than 1.1 million of those cases.

The major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai might have passed their peaks, said a government expert, Randeep Guleria. Subways, cinemas and other public facilities are closed until Aug. 31.

The Philippines reported 5,032 new cases, raising its total to 103,185, with 2,059 deaths.

On Saturday, leaders of Philippine medical organizations appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to reimpose a lockdown on the capital, Manila. They said the health system was in danger as personnel fall ill or quit due to fear or fatigue.

In Japan, the government reported 1,540 new cases, close to Friday’s record of 1,579. The spike in infections, most of them in their 20s and 30s, prompted warnings young people were letting their guard down.  Gov. Yuriko Koike of Tokyo, which has about one-third of the new infections, says she might declare an emergency to contain the outbreak.

People wearing face masks are seen in Tokyo on Sunday. (Kyodo News via AP)

In the U.S., authorities in Florida were trying to prepare storm shelters while enforcing social distancing as tropical storm Isaias churned toward the heavily populated state.

Florida reported 179 deaths on Saturday, raising its total to more than 7,000. The governor warned residents to expect power outages and said they should have a week’s supply of water and food.

The United States has the world’s biggest number of confirmed cases at 4.6 million, or one-quarter of the total, and 154,361 deaths.

WATCH | Fauci explains why the U.S. is not defeating coronavirus:

In an exchange with Rep. Jamie Raskin at a congressional hearing, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said U.S. states have not followed a unified approach to bringing COVID-19 under control. 1:32

White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday that the virus had entered a “new phase” in the U.S. as it has rapidly spread in rural and urban America.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx told CNN’s State of the Union as she urged Americans to wear face masks and observe social distancing measures.

In Australia, Premier Daniel Andrews of the southern state of Victoria announced a 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew on Melbourne, a city of 5 million people. Schools statewide are to return to home-based teaching and day care centres were closed.

People line up to enter a supermarket hours before a citywide curfew is introduced in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. (Erik Anderson/AAP Image via AP)

Andrews said there were seven deaths and 671 new cases since Saturday.

“If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get through this,” Andrews said.

China had 49 new confirmed cases, up from the previous day’s 45. Thirty were in Xinjiang in the northwest, where authorities are trying to contain an outbreak focused on the regional capital, Urumqi.

People wearing face masks are seen at a shopping mall in Beijing on Sunday. (Andy Wong/The Associated Press)

Three cases were found in students who returned from Russia to Wuhan, the southern Chinese city where the pandemic began in December. Most anti-disease controls were lifted there after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the disease in March.

Hong Kong reported 125 new infections as authorities tried to find the source of its latest outbreak. The Chinese government said a team of seven virus testing experts was sent to the city to help.

On Saturday, South Africa reported 10,107 new cases, raising its total to 503,290.

WATCH | South Africa overwhelmed with rising coronavirus cases:

‘You end up choosing who to save,’ said a Johannesburg health-care worker, who complained of a ‘gross shortage of staff.’ 0:56

That put the country fifth behind the United States, Brazil, Russia and India in total cases, though its population of 58 million is much smaller than theirs.

In Europe, the number of new cases reported in Italy dipped below 300 for the first time.

Norwegian authorities say at least 40 passengers and crew from a luxury cruise liner have tested positive. Authorities are still trying to trace a number of passengers from two recent Arctic voyages.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 116,858 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 101,558 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,979 Canadians have died.

There were 116 new cases confirmed in Ontario on Sunday, while Quebec reported 141 new cases. The two provinces account for 95 per cent of the new cases in Canada.

People wear face masks as they commute by metro in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

A U.S. immigration lawyer whose office sits close to the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., believes the Canada-U.S. land border could stay closed for another six months. 

“There’s really no reason why the Canadian government, at this point, would want to open it up and subject Canadians to an increased rate of COVID infections,” Len Saunders told CBC’s Sophia Harris.

The two countries have been reviewing their border closure agreement every 30 days since non-essential travel was barred on March 21.

Canada’s two main federal political parties took in less money from individual donations during the second quarter of this year compared with the same time in 2018 — the last non-election year — as the financial slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

WATCH | Canadians using CERB benefit can transition to EI, Trudeau says:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement in Ottawa during a stop at the Public Health Agency’s headquarters. 1:28

According to financial returns released by Elections Canada this week, the Liberals and Conservatives together raised more than $6.2 million in donations between April and June of this year, which is almost $3 million less than they raised during the same period in 2018.

Donations are always highest during election years, so comparisons with 2019 would not be relevant.

WATCH | B.C. health officials give warning ahead of long weekend:

As B.C. prepares to enjoy a long weekend, health officials are bracing for the impact. The question across Canada — how to ensure late summer gatherings don’t lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. 2:03

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Marine Corps Halt Search for 8 Missing Troops, All Presumed Deceased

The U.S. Marine Corps announced it will stop a search for eight missing troops that were on board a landing craft that sank off the coast of Southern California, it was announced Sunday.

“It is with a heavy heart that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, in a news release on Sunday morning. “The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors. and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”

Seven Marines and one sailor are presumed dead, the Marines added in the release. More than 1,000 square nautical miles were searched over the past two days.

They went missing after a routine training exercise went awry off San Clemente Island, California, the news release said. Their amphibious assault vehicle started taking on water and later sank.

“Of the 16 service members, eight Marines were rescued, one died and two others are in critical condition at a local hospital,” the Marines said.

The military will now attempt to find and recover the remains of the Marines and sailor.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with our Marines’ and Sailor’s families during this difficult time,” said Bronzi. “As we turn to recovery operations we will continue our exhaustive search for our missing Marines and Sailor.”

The names of the Marines and sailor have not been released. The incident is currently under investigation.

All of the Marines aboard were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at nearby Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego. They ranged in age from 19 to early 30s and all were wearing combat gear, including body armor and flotation vests, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The craft was one of 13 amphibious assault vehicles that had just completed an exercise. It was heading back to a Navy ship when the accident occurred.

The vehicle, nicknamed an “amtrac”—short for “amphibious tractor”—was designed to be buoyant and had three water-tight hatches and two large troop hatches. The Marines use the vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. The vehicles have been used since 1972, and continually refurbished.

In 2017, 14 Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line at the camp, igniting a fire that engulfed the landing craft. And in 2011, a Marine died when an amphibious assault vehicle sank offshore of the camp in a training exercise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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SpaceX mission with NASA astronauts aboard headed for 1st splashdown in 45 years

The first astronauts to ride a SpaceX capsule into orbit headed toward a retro-style splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon to close out a two-month test flight.

It will mark the first splashdown in 45 years for NASA astronauts and the first return in the gulf. Unlike Florida’s Atlantic coast, already feeling the effects of tropical storm Isaias, the waves and wind were calm near Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.

Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken departed the International Space Station on Saturday night and awoke to a recording of their young children urging them to “rise and shine” and “we can’t wait to see you.”

“Don’t worry, you can sleep in tomorrow,” said Behnken’s six-year-old son Theo, who was promised a puppy after the flight. “Hurry home so we can go get my dog.”

Their atypical ride home by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company — the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit — was expected to be fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside. Splashdown was set for 2:48 p.m. ET.

Plans called for the Dragon capsule, named Endeavour by its crew, to go from a screaming orbital speed of 28,000 km/h to 350 km/h during re-entry into the atmosphere and finally to 24 km/h at splashdown. Peak heating during descent: 1,900 C. Top G forces: four to five times the force of Earth’s gravity.

Half-hour wait for recovery ship

A SpaceX recovery ship with more than 40 staff, including doctors and nurses, was poised to move in at splashdown, with two smaller, faster boats leading the way. To keep the returning astronauts safe in the pandemic, the recovery crew self-quarantined for two weeks and were tested for the novel coronavirus.

SpaceX expected it to take a half-hour for the ship to arrive at the capsule and additional time to lift it out of the water onto the deck. A flight surgeon was going to be the first to look into the capsule, once the hatch is pulled open. After medical exams, the astronauts were expected to fly home to Houston.

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz. The Mercury and Gemini crews in the early to mid-1960s parachuted into the Atlantic, while most of the later Apollo capsules hit the Pacific. The lone Russian “splashdown” was in 1976 on a partially frozen lake amid a blizzard following an aborted mission; the harrowing recovery took hours.

Astronauts Bob Behnken, front left, and Doug Hurley, front right, were due to splash down in the Atlantic off Florida at 2:48 p.m. ET Sunday. (NASA/The Associated Press)

SpaceX made history with this mission, which launched May 30 from Florida. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade. Hurley came full circle, serving as pilot of NASA’s last space shuttle flight in 2011 and the commander of this SpaceX flight.

NASA turned to SpaceX and also Boeing to ferry astronauts to and from the space station, following the retirement of the shuttles. Until Hurley and Behnken rocketed into orbit, NASA astronauts relied on Russian rockets.

SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September. This next mission of four astronauts will spend a full six months aboard the space station. Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will be refurbished for another flight next spring.

Boeing doesn’t expect to launch its first crew until next year. The company encountered significant software problems in the debut of its Starliner capsule, with no one aboard, last year.

By beating Boeing, SpaceX laid claim to a U.S. flag left at the space station by Hurley and the rest of the last shuttle crew. The flag — which also flew on the first shuttle flight — was carefully packed aboard the Dragon for the homecoming.

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Marathon Petroleum to Permanently Close 2 US Oil Refineries

HOUSTON—Marathon Petroleum plans to permanently close two small U.S. oil refineries in Martinez, California, and Gallup, New Mexico, the company said, eliminating 800 jobs in response to lower fuels demand.

The largest U.S. refiner by volume had earlier idled the two facilities following weak demand due to COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States. U.S. refiners on average idled about 20 percent of total processing capacity on falling vehicle and air travel.

Marathon said it plans to use the Martinez facility as an oil-storage facility and is evaluating its future use to produce renewable diesel, a fuel made from industry waste and used cooking oil. Martinez is California’s fourth largest refinery.

The company on Monday is forecast to swing to a second-quarter loss of $1.75 per share, from a $1.73 per share profit a year ago, according to Refinitiv data.

Marathon is negotiating a sale of its Speedway gasoline station network, a deal that could fetch between $15 billion and $17 billion, Reuters reported last month.

Marathon shares traded at $38.20 on Friday, down 38 percent year to date.

Marathon spokesman Sid Barth declined further comment about the closures on Saturday.

About 860 employees work at the 161,000 barrel per day (bpd) Martinez and 27,000-bpd Gallup refineries. “Most jobs at these refineries will no longer be necessary, and we expect to begin a phased reduction of staffing levels” in October, the company said.

The closings are not anticipated to result in supply disruptions. “We will continue to utilize our integrated system to meet customer commitments,” the company said in a statement on its website.

By Gary McWilliams and Erwin Seba

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