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Tesla Revamps Model S Sedan Inside and Out, Adds 520-Mile Version

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Tesla has unveiled its biggest update to its Model S sedan since its unveiling in 2009 and launch in 2012. That’s normally an eternity for production cars, although a few have gone longer recently (see: Dodge Challenger and Charger, Nissan Frontier) and Tesla has been able to update the Model S with software tweaks more than other automakers.

This time, though, the refresh is significant outside and a full revamp inside. The exterior gets revised front and rear ends and a more pronounced stance, thanks to some subtle flaring in the door panels ahead of the rear wheels that give the illusion of a rake and more width. It’s a relatively safe update, but the car’s styling was always pretty timeless to begin with. Tesla says the new model has a .208 coefficient of drag (Cd), which the company claims makes the Model S the “lowest-drag car on Earth.”

Inside, the most dramatic change comes via the yoke-style steering wheel, which is either a nod to Formula-style race cars or a throwback to the Knight Industries Two Thousand, depending on your viewpoint. There are no longer stalks or shifters to either side of the wheel. The center stack now has a horizontally aligned 17-inch display with 2,200 by 1,300 resolution and a slight leftward tilt. Tri-zone air conditioning, ventilated front seats, and HEPA filtration deliver more luxurious cooling, and you get wireless and USB-C fast charging with enough juice to power a laptop. The audio system now has 22 speakers and 960 watts of power with active noise cancellation.

Second-row seating also gets a redesign, with additional legroom and headroom, a new LCD for rear passengers, and integrated wireless charging in the center armrest. The company says the car now has up to 10 teraflops of power and can support in-car gaming with today’s latest consoles, including wireless controller compatibility and the ability to play “from any seat.”

The new Model S starts at $ 79,990 for the dual-motor Long Range, which snaps off 0-60 runs in 3.1 seconds and yet runs for 412 miles on a full charge, with 670 peak horsepower (“peak” being a nod to the fact that depleted batteries affect power, unlike with fossil-fuel-powered vehicles). The $ 119,990 Plaid edition gets three motors and all-wheel-drive, and Tesla is claiming an insane under-2-second 0-60 time, 1,020 peak horsepower, a 200 mph top speed, and a 390-mile range. You’re not getting all of those at once. But you’re also not getting 25mpg in a Mustang GT running at 150 mph with the accelerator pedal pushed into the floorboards, even if the ‘stang can achieve that kind of fuel economy at normal highway speeds. Finally, an 1,100-hp Plaid+ option will cost $ 139,990 and have a reported range of 520 miles, which would be ludicrous if true–in pure Tesla fashion, of course.

The Long Range and Plaid arrive in February, according to Elon Musk; look for the Plaid+ before the end of the year. The Model X crossover SUV will also get the new interior and dashboard screen, plus new Long Range and Plaid versions, although its exterior remains unchanged.

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ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech

Ontario hospitals call for more lockdowns as province adds 2,432 new COVID cases

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, is expected to provide a briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Ontario at 3 p.m. ET.

You can watch it live in this story.

As Ontario’s hospitals called for new 28-day lockdowns for red tier regions of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework Thursday amid record-high case counts and hospitalizations, Premier Doug Ford would not commit to any new shutdowns.  

“Ontario remains firmly caught in the grasp of a major second wave of COVID-19. Daily infection is now above 2,000 new cases per day. Hospitalization is increasing rapidly, as is the occupancy of intensive care units,” the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said in a statement.

It added that the situation has become “extremely serious.” The OHA’s board of directors held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss ongoing challenges to Ontario’s health-care system.

“We are now in the holiday season and if members of the public choose to ignore public health measures and gather outside their households, the consequences risk overwhelming Ontario’s hospitals,” the statement continued.

Lockdown request comes amid record hospitalizations

As a result, the OHA said it must “reluctantly and with deep regret” ask the provincial government to “implement and robustly enforce” four-week lockdowns in all public health units where the weekly incidence rate is 40 per 100,000 or more, a key threshold for the red tier. 

The request comes as hospitalization figures in Ontario all reached second-wave highs this week. The OHA said that its member hospitals are struggling to keep up with current needs while working to catch up on about 150,000 procedures that were postponed during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring. 

“Evidence is mounting that the hidden toll on human health from this disruption in scheduled services will be heavy. Our communities are tired, and so are those caring for them,” the statement said.

The provincial government should also offer paid sick leave and isolation accommodation to help those who cannot afford to take time off work if they contract the novel coronavirus, the OHA added.

Ford not considering further lockdowns, curfew

At the province’s daily news conference Thursday, Ford said he appreciates the OHA’s input, and that he talks to hospital CEOs every day. The premier did not, however, commit to any further lockdown measures.

“It’s very, very concerning, the situation we’re facing right now,” he said. “Right now, everything is on the table. We always take the advice from the medical experts.”

Ford said he was not considering any sort of curfew, which has been seen in some places in the world particularly hard hit by the virus. 

However, when asked about specific decisions the government is considering to stem the tide of cases, Ford repeatedly answered “everything is on the table.”

WATCH | Premier Doug Ford on the prospect of further lockdowns:

There are many things to consider before Ontario will tighten its lockdown of the province to slow the spread of the coronavirus, said Premier Doug Ford. But he said he will not make a ‘snap’ judgment about which course to take. 1:34

The premier was also asked if he was considering any financial compensation if further lockdowns are imposed. Ford said the province is working with the federal government to make sure people are taken care of.

“If that time comes, if we have to take further action … yes, there will be additional forms of assistance for small business owners,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the provincial government is working with the OHA and is “very aware” of its concerns. Continued community spread of the virus, particularly in hot spots, is putting strain on hospitals, she said.

“Many hospitals are at full capacity now and have had to postpone, once again, surgeries and procedures that were postponed during wave one,” Elliott said.

“We’re considering everything, the best ways to limit community spread, so I would say that nothing has been determined as yet.”

Yesterday, the mayors of two of Ontario’s hardest-hit cities, Toronto and Mississauga in Peel Region, called for strict measures to remain in place throughout the holiday season. This Friday marks four weeks since Toronto and Peel first went into lockdown, while York Region and Windsor-Essex moved into lockdown later. 

Nearly all of the rest of southern Ontario’s largest cities, with the exception of Ottawa, are in the red zone. That includes Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Oakville, Oshawa and Barrie. 

Record day for new COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, Ontario reported another 2,432 cases of COVID-19 this morning, the most on a single day since the pandemic began. 

The additional cases include 737 in Toronto, 434 in Peel Region, 209 in York Region, 190 in Windsor-Essex, 142 in Hamilton and 102 in Halton Region. 

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Waterloo Region: 77
  • Durham Region: 73
  • Ottawa: 70
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 65
  • Middlesex-London: 63
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 47
  • Niagara Region: 45
  • Southwestern: 35
  • Brant County: 26
  • Eastern Ontario: 19
  • Huron Perth: 17
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington: 16
  • Lambton: 11

(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

Combined, the new cases push the seven-day average to 2,026, also a new high.

The Ministry of Education also reported 170 new cases that are school-related: 143 students, 26 staff members and one person who was not identified. Some 955 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools, or about 19.8 per cent, have at least one case of COVID-19, while 22 schools are currently closed because of the illness.

There are now 17,484 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 throughout Ontario, the most-ever in the province. They come as the province’s network of labs processed 58,178 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of four per cent. 

While the number of total patients in Ontario hospitals with the virus dropped slightly to 919, down 13 from 932, the number being treated in intensive care units jumped seven to 263. Of those, 172 required the use of a ventilator — 15 more than in yesterday’s report.

New long-term care spending announced

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, hospitalizations topped out at 1,043, while ICU admissions peaked at 264, according to the Ministry of Health.

Public health officials also reported 23 more deaths of people with COVID-19, bringing Ontario’s official toll to 4,058.

Ford also announced Thursday the province plans to spend up to $ 1.9 billion annually by 2024-25 to achieve an average of four hours of daily direct care in the province’s long-term care homes.

That would mean the hiring of 27,000 new personal support workers, registered nurses and other health-care staff, he said.

Ford also provided an update on vaccinations, saying that to date, 1,500 health-care workers have had their first vaccine dose in Toronto and Ottawa.

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CBC | Health News

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is bleeding votes. A new book adds fresh paper cuts

One tell-all book from a disgruntled, score-settling former aide will likely not rattle Donald Trump’s base of stalwart supporters.

The base might brush off John Bolton’s forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened. It might vilify the former national security adviser, call him a liar or, conversely, suggest he be charged for leaking state secrets.

Streams of ink and star clusters of pixels have been devoted to media tales about the unwavering allegiance of the U.S. president’s unshakeable base. But there’s just one problem for Trump: there aren’t enough of those supporters to guarantee his re-election in November. He needs swing voters.

And this book, due to be published June 23, from a former insider delivers a few paper cuts to a campaign that’s already begun bleeding support among those critical voters.

Trump is nearly 10 percentage points behind Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the latest national polls, and a key reason seems to be the souring mood among a small cohort of past Republican voters.

That’s compounded by his dismal score among centrist voters. In one example among many, one poll this week showed a 27-point gap between Trump and Biden among self-described moderates.

One disenchanted Republican who happened to work with Bolton in George W. Bush’s White House said this book alone isn’t a problem for Trump.

‘You can make an ad out of that’

What it does do, Canadian-American writer David Frum said in an interview, is add to a treasure trove of material for attack ads aimed at swing voters.

The new damaging comments will, he said, compound ones made by other former Trump aides, including John Kelly, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, who served as chief of staff, defence secretary and secretary of state, respectively.

“You can make an ad out of that,” said Frum, an unsparing critic of the current president who wrote a book, Trumpocalypse, about ideas for renewing U.S. democracy in a post-Trump era.

Political commentator and author David Frum, pictured in an interview with CBC News in January 2018, says Bolton’s book will provide material for attack ads directed at Trump. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“What the people who are [less-committed voters] will hear is Trump’s former secretary of state Rex Tillerson called him a … moron. Trump’s former secretary of defence James Mattis said the only member of our military [Trump] respects is Colonel Sanders. Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said that Trump asked the Chinese to help him win re-election….

“You put up the faces and the quotes, and you send a message to people who say, ‘I took a chance on him in 2016’ … It turns out everyone close to him in a national-security position thinks he’s dangerous and incompetent.”

The China angle

One part of the book, published in an excerpt in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, poses a particular political headache for Trump.

It involves China.

It’s almost impossible to overstate how central it is to Trump’s re-election message that he’s the China hawk in the election race.

Text messages are constantly going out to Trump supporters encouraging them to amplify specific China-related messages in their social-media feeds.

WATCH | The Room Where It Happened makes explosive allegations:

According to several U.S. media reports, John Bolton’s new book alleges that U.S. President Donald Trump is uninformed and all his decisions were made with the 2020 presidential election in mind. 2:00

They include China being responsible for COVID-19, Chinese trade being the source of problems for American workers, allegations that Biden, a former vice-president, is soft on China and that Biden’s son has questionable business connections in China.

Biden, who described the published details in the book as “morally repugnant,” now has an abundant supply of fresh material with which to counter-attack.

Allegations and denials

In the excerpt published this week, Bolton claims Trump personally asked China’s Xi Jinping to help him win re-election by buying more U.S. farm goods. 

Bolton also alleges Trump encouraged the Chinese president to build concentration camps for members of the Uighur minority.

“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton writes.

The book reportedly claims Trump was also willing to halt criminal investigations for dictators he liked; contradicted his own CIA and defended Saudi Arabia in the killing of a Washington Post columnist as a distraction tactic from a controversy involving his daughter; and spoke of executing journalists, whom he called scumbags.

The president has now tweeted about Bolton at least a half-dozen times. His senior aides spent part of Wednesday and Thursday contesting details of the book.

“Absolutely untrue,” U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said of the characterization of the Xi meeting, which he also attended. 

“Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course, I would recollect it.”

Trump adviser Peter Navarro referred to his former colleague as “Big Lie Bolton.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was equally critical, in less printable language. 

Who are these swing voters?

Meanwhile, the polls have steadily worsened this spring.

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University in Providence, R.I., said one reason is that a small slice of the electorate — no more than 10 per cent of voters representing fewer than 14 million people — is drifting away from Trump.

She said they tend to live in the suburbs or outer rings of growing metropolitan areas — places such as the research triangle in Raleigh, N.C., the wealthy outskirts of Philadelphia, or between Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona.

Many voted for Barack Obama, then Trump; others are longtime Republicans.

These voters will decide the election, says Schiller.

“What ties independent voters together is a sense of how well the government is running — for them,” she said. 

“In 2016, there was a sense that the economy had not improved fast enough under Obama and an undercurrent of dislike for Hillary Clinton, especially among independent men…. 

“If the economy improves by October, independents might stick with Trump, but if they believe Biden will continue economic growth and run the government more smoothly, and calmly, than Trump will, they will switch their votes.”

Republican moderates are wavering on Trump. Some recent polls show him losing a greater share of self-described Republicans than Biden is losing Democrats. (Joan Dymianiw/CBC News)

Two polls this week show Trump with less support among Republicans than Biden has among Democrats.

Trump tried to re-energize some of the party faithful on Thursday with a new message.

After losing a second major Supreme Court case in a week, first on LGBT rights and then on rights for undocumented immigrants, he promised to make the nomination of judges a campaign issue like he did in 2016.

The problem with bashing Bolton

His aides, meanwhile, blasted Bolton as a war-monger with a habit of knifing colleagues and burning bridges in Washington.

“That’s the pattern,” Navarro said.

But Frum said it’s on Trump, not Bolton, that the president hired perhaps Washington’s most famous advocate of military interventionism and put him in charge of national security in a White House that opposes foreign military entanglements.

Bolton, seated next to Trump’s daughter Ivanka in the Oval Office last year. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

“There are just so many examples of people where Trump says, ‘I hired this person, and he turned out to be no good,'” Frum said. 

“Here’s one of the best-known people in Washington, with a record going back to before the Reagan administration who’s written books and op-eds, hundreds of thousands of words … and you seem not to have been aware of any of that material. 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings have slumped over the past few months. (CBC News)

“You just hired him because he was a familiar face from Fox News. And then you were surprised to discover that he wanted to take you in directions you didn’t want to go? 

Frum’s own new book begins with a pastor, in March, describing churchgoers being willing to lick the floor to prove Trump’s claim the coronavirus wasn’t dangerous.

History shows, however, that it takes more than deeply devoted partisans to put a presidential campaign over the top.

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CBC | World News

Team Jennifer Jones adds free-agent all-star lead Lisa Weagle

All-star lead Lisa Weagle wasn’t a free agent for long.

Let go last week after a decade-long run with skip Rachel Homan’s Ottawa-based rink, she has joined Team Jennifer Jones.

The Winnipeg-based Jones rink, which includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Dawn McEwen, will operate as a five-player team.

Jones and Weagle confirmed the news Wednesday morning in phone interviews with The Canadian Press. A formal team announcement was expected later in the day.

We connected instantly and our goals were aligned.— Lisa Weagle on her conversation with new teammate Jennifer Jones

“She’s just a super-talented player and one of the best leads to ever play the game,” Jones said. “She works hard on every aspect of her game. But at the end of the day, I think she’s a phenomenal person as well. So I think she’s just going to add a ton of value to our team in every aspect.”

Weagle’s departure from Team Homan was a stunner on the curling scene. They had won three national titles together and reached the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final last month in Moose Jaw, Sask.

‘I want to do everything I can to help the team’

Jones reached out to Weagle last Sunday and the five players firmed up plans for next season on a video call.

“We connected instantly and our goals were aligned,” Weagle said. “What struck me the most was hearing it in Jen’s voice that she wants to win and she’s very determined. This is an athlete that’s won everything there is to win in curling and she still wants to do more.

“That had me hooked and ready to go right away. I believe in her and I believe in her team and I want to do everything I can to help the team and be a part of it.”

The team plans to sort out the logistics of the five-player setup in the off-season.

Many teams use a fifth player as an alternate but they see limited ice time. That is not expected to be the case with Team Jones.

Busy week on domestic curling scene

Team Homan represented Canada at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics but did not reach the podium. Sarah Wilkes was brought on as Weagle’s replacement on Tuesday.

Team Jones won gold at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Jones is also a two-time world champion and six-time national champion.

The addition of Weagle is the latest move in a busy week on the domestic curling scene as several high-profile teams have made changes as they gear up to make a run at the 2021 Olympic Trials.

“We all have a little bit more jump in our step and we’re very excited,” Jones said. “We feel very privileged that Lisa would agree to play with us.

“A player of her talent, calibre, and just the person that she is, we feel it’s a huge privilege for us and we’re hoping that we can do some great things together.”

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CBC | Sports News

Wild’s Galchenyuk ties game late, adds SO winner to steal crucial point from Canucks

Alex Galchenyuk scored the tying goal and the shootout winner as the Minnesota Wild beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Wednesday.

Kevin Fiala and Luke Kunin also scored in regulation for Minnesota and Mats Zuccarello had two assists. Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 shots.

J.T. Miller scored twice in the third period and Jay Beagle had the other Vancouver goal, while Quinn Hughes recorded two assists. Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves.

The single point moved the Canucks (32-22-6) into a tie with the Calgary Flames for second place in the Pacific Division.

The Wild (28-24-7) moved to 1-1-0 since Dean Evason took over the head coaching duties from Bruce Boudreau last Friday. Minnesota is five points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Wild opened the scoring just 63 seconds into the game, when Fiala collected his 15th goal of the year on Minnesota’s only shot in the first 11 minutes of the game.

Dubnyk was busy at the other end of the ice in his first start in four games. He squeezed a Miller shot from a breakaway between his pads and denied Antoine Roussel on a close-in attempt from the slot as the Canucks outshot the Wild 10-5 in the first period.

Vancouver evened the score early in the second when Hughes threaded a goalmouth pass through to Beagle for his second goal of the year and first in 42 games.

The Wild retook the lead with 6:57 left to go in the second, when a Kunin redirection trickled between Markstrom’s pads and into the net.

The Canucks came out strong to start the third. After Miller hit the post on an early 2-on-1, he was rewarded with his career-high 23rd goal of the season when he deflected a point shot from Tyler Toffoli past Dubnyk. Toffoli’s assist was his first point as a Canuck after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade on Monday.

Miller put the Canucks ahead just over three minutes later with his second of the night, a blast from the left circle after a sharp pass from Troy Stecher.

Galchenyuk tied the game with under five minutes left, with his first point since being traded to the Wild on Feb. 10. He scooped a wraparound off Vancouver defenceman Troy Stecher and past Markstrom.

Galchenyuk beat Markstrom for the winner after Bo Horvat was denied on the other end in the fifth round of the shootout.

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CBC | Sports News

Simply the best: Christine Sinclair’s goal-scoring record merely adds to her career of accomplishment

What do you give the woman who has everything?

In a word: respect.

Respect, of course, must be earned. Christine Sinclair has been doing that it in spades for 20 years.

More accolades are on the way. Sinclair has set a new bar. No other player in the history of international soccer has achieved what she has done. Ever.

The 185th goal of Sinclair’s career came in the 23rd minute of Canada’s 11-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament Wednesday. Left alone, Sinclair converted an Adriana Leon feed for the milestone goal.

WATCH | Sinclair’s record-breaking goal:

Canadian Christine Sinclair scores the 185th goal of her career, passing American Abby Wambach on the all-time goals list. 1:10

The record-tying goal came 16 minutes earlier on a penalty kick.

Sinclair was mobbed by her teammates before she picked up the record-breaking ball and ran it to the sidelines for safekeeping.

Don’t expect Sinclair to be celebrating her world record anytime soon. To her the milestone will be as much of a relief as anything else. She will be happy when all the ballyhoo dies down and she can get on with her day job.

Sinclair is not finished yet. She’s preparing for her fourth Olympic Games in Japan this summer. At 36 years old the twilight is beginning to appear on the horizon, but it may well be some time before the sun finally sets.

John Herdman coached Sinclair for seven years during his time in charge of the Canadian women’s team. Before his departure to the Canadian men’s program he told me, “Her body is a machine. She could play until she’s 40.”

Sinclair might be the greatest female Canadian athlete of all time. Certainly in team sports she has few peers. Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser would obviously be in the conversation, but few other names spring to mind.

WATCH | Canadian athletes congratulate Sinclair:

With her 185th international soccer goal, Christine Sinclair become the world record-holder for most ever international goals. Here are some Canadian sports legends sending her well wishes on the feat. 1:30

Her contribution to her team can be measured in goals and assists. Her contribution to the popularity of the sport and growing the game across Canada is immeasurable. There are many parts of the world where women’s soccer remains an afterthought.

Not in Canada.

As an athlete Sinclair is both selfish and selfless. It is part of a goal scorer’s DNA to have a selfish streak. It is an instinctive reaction. It is coupled with confidence and an absolute self-belief that when the chance comes you will execute.

Sinclair celebrates a goal in the 2015 World Cup. The drive to score and win is in her DNA. (Getty Images)

At the same time she is all about the team. Sinclair is acutely aware that without the necessary backup she would not have got anywhere near her unique goal-scoring feat. She is always among the first to pay tribute to the supporting cast.

Sinclair’s soccer IQ is exceptional. She’s intelligent and experienced enough to pass the ball when a colleague is better positioned to score. Her 56 assists in international soccer are ample evidence of Sinclair the team player.

WATCH | Sinclair’s record-tying penalty kick:

Canada’s Christine Sinclair records the 184th goal of her career, tying retired American striker Abby Wambach. 0:55

Yet she is a reluctant hero. Sinclair has never been entirely comfortable when confronted with a microphone — she would much prefer her actions on the field to do the talking. But as Captain Canada she has had to accept there are media obligations and she has grown into the role.

There is no question Sinclair is an inspiration. Many of her current teammates, some barely half her age, took up the game as kids after watching Sinclair. And who knows how many thousands of children decided to play soccer, dreaming of being the next Christine Sinclair.

The most prominent player – male or female – in Canadian soccer history, Sinclair has inspired countless children to pick up the game. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

We’re still waiting. In my opinion there will never be another like her. She was in at the ground floor of women’s soccer at the turn of the century and elevated the sport into our consciousness. Sinclair took it seriously from the get-go and so must we.

Sinclair will never match Abby Wambach’s medal haul. The American icon retired with a pair of Olympic gold medals as well as a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion in 2015.

She scored her 184 goals in considerably fewer appearances than Sinclair, collected a host of individual awards, and is often cited as the greatest female forward of all time.

But Sinclair has one thing that neither Wambach, nor Messi, Ronaldo, Pele or Maradona can match. She is in a league of her own. Hers is a record unlikely ever to be matched in international soccer.

It is mission accomplished.  But it is not yet game over.  

There’s one other thing we Canadians can give Christine Sinclair.

Our gratitude.

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CBC | Soccer News

Cadillac Super Cruise Adds Auto Lane Change

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Cadillac hopes to gain back some respect for its technical prowess with a new version of the Super Cruise self-driving technology later this year. It will automate the task of changing lanes: Just tap the turn signal and the car does the rest, which includes checking for an opening, turning on the blinker, shifting lanes, and turning off the blinker.

Super Cruise will be on three new Cadillacs arriving in the second half of 2020: the midsize 2021 Cadillac CT5 sedan, the compact CT5 sedan, and the larger-than-life 2021 Cadillac Escalade. Super Cruise is built atop an “all-new digital vehicle platform” with more electrical bandwidth and compute power.

The Sport version of the Cadillac CT5, one of three vehicles to get the new version of Super Cruise autonomy later this year.

Super Cruise was the industry’s best and most advanced self-driving technology when it debuted in 2017. The Super Cruise special sauce was the extra step Cadillac took of lidar-mapping every lane of every US and Canadian interstate, then putting that info in every Super Cruise-equipped vehicle. In-car cameras and radars can precisely correlate the car’s location to the lidar map data.

In addition to the lane change feature, Cadillac says these enhancements were made:

  • Addition of richer map information to enable automated lane change and improved functionality through turns and highway interchanges
  • Improved software for better steering and speed control
  • Enhancements to make it easier and more intuitive for drivers to engage the system

Before that, Cadillac bumped up the number of lidar-mapped highway miles from 160,000 to 200,000. So that now includes more divided-lane, limited-access highways outside the formal US Interstate system (47,000 miles) and Trans-Canada Highway (5,000 miles).

According to Super Cruise chief engineer Mario Maiorana:

This is our most extensive update we’ve made to Super Cruise since its debut. We have made a number of improvements to make Super Cruise more intuitive, better performing and more accessible for our customers. In addition to the automated lane change functionality, we’ve made improvements to the user interface and hands-free driving dynamics.

…  [Changes] included improving rear-facing sensors and advanced software algorithms so that the system can confidently track vehicles approaching from the rear. As a result of these improvements, we are able to ensure that Super Cruise will hold in its current lane and only change [lanes] when a sufficient gap exists.

Because of significant changes to the underlying electronics platform, retrofit upgrades aren’t possible, and it appears other Cadillacs won’t get the new Super Cruise until a mid-life refresh or an all-new model of the car.

The cockpit of the compact 2021 Cadillac CT4-V.

Author Howard testing Super Cruise 1.0 in 2017.

How hard can changing lanes be? Not much if you pay attention. (But we’re Americans.) As drivers age, checking the blind spot and changing lanes safely is a significant issue. It’s also an issue with drivers their first 3-5 years of driving.

When I tested a Cadillac CT6 at the 2017 Super Cruise first drive, from New York City to Washington to Cleveland (Cadillac picked the route; they’re probably fans of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame), it was a revelation: 600 miles of almost-completely hands-off driving.

Here’s the trick: You don’t have to have your hands on the wheel, but a camera is tracking your face and eyes and they have to be looking ahead. If you look elsewhere for more than 5-10 seconds, you’re warned, warned again, and if you still don’t respond, the car slows, hazard lights come on, the car comes to a stop, and OnStar calls for help. It’s a lot more comfortable with your hands off the wheel than on.

Super Cruise 1.0 did a fabulous good job maintaining the car exactly in the center of the travel lane. If you wanted to change lanes, you did that yourself. The only less-than-comfortable moments were in curves with an 18-wheeler alongside. If the trucker’s incautious arc through the turn brought it closer to the lane marking between the two of us, a prudent driver would respond to the trucker by moving a foot or two off-center to give a little space. Just in case. The occasional closeness-in-curves didn’t bother GM’s head of engineering sitting to me, but I suspect that would not have been the case with my wife in the passenger seat.

Since the debut of Super Cruise, several automakers such as Tesla and BMW have debuted auto lane-change. Some Tesla drivers have reported close calls during the actual lane change; I never experienced that in a couple of weeks driving two similarly equipped BMWs. But only Cadillac uses lidar-mapped data to help position the car on the road. (Note: The data in the car is lidar-mapped but Cadillacs don’t currently have lidar. They use GPS and other non-lidar sensors such as cameras for an accurate position fix.)

The 2021 Cadillac CT5 midsize sedan. The top of the wheel lights up green when Super Cruise is running.

Cadillac could use more good technology. It has been through leadership changes, the end of its experiment putting the headquarters in Manhattan’s funky SoHo district, and suffered a 1 percent drop in sales in 2019. Meanwhile, competitor Lincoln jumped 8 percent, and international competitors mostly gained sales: Audi and Lexus, flat; Mercedes-Benz, up 1 percent; Jaguar, up 2 percent; Land Rover, up 3 percent; BMW, up 4 percent; Volvo, up 10 percent; Tesla, up 35 percent; Genesis, up 106 percent. Only Infiniti was a big loser, down 21 percent. Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus each outsell Cadillac by about 2-1.

It will be interesting to see how many trim lines (model variants) get the new SuperCruise. When I test drove the CT6 in 2017, Super Cruise was standard only on the top-of-the-line CT6 Platinum ($ 84,790 base price). On the other CT6 models, it was part of a $ 5,000 Premium Package.

SuperCruise is effectively Level 2-Plus automation, where Level 2 combines adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist but the driver has to keep hands lightly on the wheel. Cadillac goes beyond by offering hands-off driving and lane changes initiated by the driver. A Level 3 car wouldn’t require constant eyes on the road and it could automatically change lanes and deal with cars merging onto the highway.

Things may be looking up. Cadillac has new leadership (again). Cadillac is refreshing its lineup. It has enhanced – fixed, to be more precise – its star-crossed CUE infotainment system. We’re huge fans of the vibrating safety-alert seats with tactile feedback rather than raucous audible alerts. It was one of the first with a rearview mirror that flips between an optical mirror and a wide-angle video view. It is offering comfortable and sporting versions where Lincoln is concentrating on luxury and design. Both are reasonable choices and for any US brand, it’s tough today to dethrone any of the European automakers if you go head-to-head on sports packages.

It has long been our belief that if something ails Cadillac, it isn’t their engineers. The latest Super Cruise gives Cadillac and GM a chance to polish off the slogan, “The Standard of the World.” We’ll see in a couple of months how Cadillac has improved.

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Liam Brearley’s historic bronze adds to heavy medal finish for Canada to close out the Youth Olympics

LAUSANNE — Canadian athletes saved their best single-day medal haul at the Youth Olympics for last.

The medal rush started early on Wednesday with the men’s hockey team defeating Finland, 4-2, for bronze, and was capped with Liam Brearley’s third medal of the Games, a bronze in snowboard big air.

The 16-year-old from Gravenhurst, Ont., is the first Canadian to win three medals at a single Youth Olympics, having won silver and bronze earlier in the Games.

With his mother, sister and grandmother watching, Brearley electrified his family and the crowd of onlookers by soaring and spinning through the air and then stomping his landing during all three final runs.

The three medals on the final day brought Canada’s medal total at Lausanne 2020 to eight. 

Against Finland in hockey, Canada scored two goals a minute apart early in the first period and never looked back, scoring an empty-netter late in the third to seal the win. The strong performance to leave with a medal came just 24 hours after a disappointing semifinal loss to the Americans.

Head coach Gordie Dwyer said after the defeat his team would play with Canadian pride in the third-place game, that it was “the Canadian way” to fight until the end.

Brearley soars against a backdrop of the Swiss Alps on his way to a bronze medal, his third of these Youth Olympics. (Thomas Skrlj/COC/CBC)

As a part of the Youth Olympics, many competitions included countries participating with each other in what they called mixed National Olympic Committee events. All of the mixed events were gender equal.

The last NOC event at the Games included mixed doubles curling.

Torbay, N.L. curler Nathan Young, who skipped Canada’s mixed team at the Youth Olympics, was paired with Hungarian curler Laura Nagy.

The two found instant chemistry in the event and found themselves in Wednesday’s gold-medal game.

Nagy, who is the daughter of a well-known Hungarian husband and wife curling duo, was brilliant throughout the event. So too was the Newfoundland and Labrador skipper.

Young’s poise and confident demeanour shone in the most pressure-packed moments in the championship game.

Young and Nagy bolted out to an insurmountable 7-0 lead over a duo comprised of Russian and French curlers — despite their opponent’s late surge, Young and Nagy held on for a 9-5 victory to claim Youth Olympic gold.

The gold medal does not count in Canada’s overall medal tally, however, as the two were competing under the Olympic flag.

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Tkachuk-Kassian feud adds fire to already heated Battle of Alberta

For his next trip to Edmonton, perhaps Matthew Tkachuk should invest in a new pair of aviator sunglasses — or, at the very least, a wide-brimmed hat to hide his mop of curls.

To put it mildly, the Calgary Flames leading scorer is one unpopular fellow in the metropolis formerly known as the City of Champions.

Edmonton Oilers sparkplug Zack Kassian is already scheming up a proper welcome for his Calgary nemesis when the teams meet again Jan. 29 at Rogers Place.

“It’s going to be one of those games where I know he’s not going to fight,” Kassian bemoaned Saturday night in the aftermath of a 4-3 loss to the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome  “But maybe it’s my turn to deliver something, to follow him around a little and wait until he gets in a bad situation. Simple.”

First up, for Kassian, is a Monday hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety to answer for ragdolling Tkachuk in a game that will go down as an instant classic in the Battle of Alberta annals.

At issue: Kassian’s raging reaction to a blind-side body check from Tkachuk when he was already battling for the puck with defenceman Mark Giordano.

“If you’re going to hit like that, you have to answer the bell every once in a while,” Kassian said. “He’s clearly trying to target me, which I like. I’m standing here and I love that stuff.”

The dude does not abide

Kassian loves the rough stuff but hates that Tkachuk won’t abide by the tough-guy code and drop the gloves when asked.

“He’s just a young punk who just has to figure out that aspect,” Kassian said. “It’s sad because he’s a pretty good player. But he’s a [expletive], to be honest. Straight up. That’s the definition of it. He wouldn’t fight me two years ago.

“Said I was a fourth liner. Now I have 13 goals. What’s the excuse now?”

Tkachuk said he has no interest in sitting for five minutes in the penalty box and leaving his team at an obvious disadvantage.

“I’m not,” he said. “That’s a tough tradeoff there.

“If he doesn’t want to get hit, then stay off the tracks. I caught him three times there, so you’d think he would learn after the first one. If he wants to react like that, we’ll take the power play, we’ll take the game winner and we’ll move on to first place.”

WATCH | Lindholm, Flames squeeze past Oilers in Battle of Alberta: 

Elias Lindholm scored a pair of goals to help the Calgary Flames just past the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in the Battle of Alberta 1:48

Much to the delight of Calgary fans, that’s exactly what transpired. Kassian received a double-minor, and Elias Lindholm potted the game-winner with the man advantage 39 seconds into the third period.

With the victory, the Flames (25-17-5) climb into first place in the Pacific Division.

“I’d like to see him get a number,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said of Kassian. “You’re in a tight game, it’s 3-3, get a number and deal with it later. Deal with winning the game.”

He paused before adding: “I wish we could have killed the penalty for him.”

Fresh off signing a new contract, Flames sophomore defenceman Rasmus Andersson unloaded on the post-game radio show with FAN 960 host Patrick Steinberg.

“They’ve got a lot of pretenders out there,” Andersson said. “It’s really nice to beat those guys. That’s one of the biggest coward moves I’ve ever seen from Kassian. We make guys like that pay. That was a coward move … that’s the kind of player he is.”

Tkachuk ramps it up

Oiler fans would no doubt say Tkachuk was the coward on Saturday night and that he deserved a disciplinary hearing for the predatory nature of his hits.

Regardless, Tkachuk is hardly losing sleep over the derision from the north. He takes pride in drawing a league-leading 146 minor penalties since breaking into the league in 2016/17.

Much like Corey Perry in his prime, Tkachuk wants to be adored by the fans of his team and despised in 30 other cities across North America.

“I think his game is best when he’s playing on that edge — not unlike a lot of other top guys in the league who are really competitive,” said Flames captain Mark Giordano. “When you’re competitive and you want to win so badly, you get into those battles on the ice.

“One of his best qualities ever since he came into the league is that he’s able to ramp it up in big games.”

Expect more of the same come Jan. 29 in Edmonton.

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Brent Lakatos adds silver to medal haul at World Para Athletics Championships

Canadian Brent Lakatos won silver in the men’s 400m T53 Final at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai on Saturday with a mark of 48.33. 

Lakatos holds the world record for the event in 46.82, set this past summer at the Swiss Nationals. He also won silver for the same event at the London Olympics in 2012.

The 39-year-old from Montreal was coming off a win in the men’s 100m T53 event on Friday. He claimed gold in 14.59 and now holds 12 career gold medals at world championships.

Thailand’s Pongsakorn Paeyo won gold (48.08) while Shaoqiao Yang of China came third with a mark of 49.52. 

Lakatos will next compete in the men’s 1500m T54 at the World Championships on Nov. 11. 

CBC Sports is providing live coverage of the World Para Athletics Championships. Watch all the action here.

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