Tag Archives: Green

Disneyland gets green light to reopen as California eases COVID-19 restrictions

California health officials set new rules on Friday that would allow Disneyland and other theme parks, stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues to reopen as early as April 1, after a closure of nearly a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the return of Mickey Mouse to the “Happiest Place on Earth” and live spectators to the California ball parks of America’s favourite pastime still come with major caveats.

Theme and amusement parks would be permitted to restart on April 1 with severely limited capacity, but only if the counties where they operate are removed from the “purple” tier of California’s colour-coded COVID-19 restrictions, the system’s most stringent classification.

Masks and other safety measures would still be required, and initially the parks would be open only to state residents. Attendance would range from 15 to 35 per cent of normal capacity.

Outdoor stadiums, ball parks and performance arenas would also be allowed to welcome back live audiences starting April 1, though at a fraction of maximum seating and subject to the same tiered system of constraints.

Motorists line up at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 23. Dodger Stadium and a Disneyland parking lot are currently being used as mass-vaccination sites. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Opening day turnouts for Major League Baseball games would be muted affairs in Southern California, with no more than 100 spectators allowed in venues located in purple-zoned counties.

That would include the stadiums of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres and the Anaheim Angels. San Francisco and Oakland, home of the Giants and the Athletics, respectively, are currently designated red, which would limit seating to 20 per cent capacity.

Easing rules

The changes in California, a leading U.S. epicentre of the pandemic during a year-end holiday surge of cases that strained health-care systems to the breaking point, come as the rate of infections across the country has slowed and vaccinations are on the rise.

But state health officials have charted a cautious reopening approach even as Gov. Gavin Newsom has come under mounting political pressure, including the threat of a recall election, to relax restrictions on the state’s social and economic life.

Walt Disney Co.’s Anaheim-based Disneyland lies in the heart of Orange County, which — like neighbouring Los Angeles and San Diego counties — has remained purple for months, a designation reflecting the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and dangerously high infection rates.

Newsom announced on Thursday a “modest loosening” of tier definitions by factoring in the increasing vaccinations within vulnerable communities.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom puts on a face mask in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Tuesday. He has come under mounting political pressure, including the threat of a recall election, to relax restrictions on the state’s social and economic life. (David Middlecamp/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via The Associated Press)

This would allow counties designated purple, for example, to progress more quickly to the red tier, where amusement and theme parks were previously ordered closed.

Friday’s announcement means theme parks in red-zoned counties could reopen at 15 per cent capacity on April 1. The less restrictive orange and yellow tiers would allow reopenings at 25 per cent and 35 per cent capacity, respectively.

Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement that the decision means “getting thousands of people back to work and greatly helping neighbouring businesses and our entire community.”

But it remained unclear whether rising vaccinations and falling COVID infection rates would go far enough for Anaheim to reach red by the first of next month. And Potrock did not give a date for a Disneyland reopening.

California-based baseball teams issued similar statements welcoming Friday’s announcement and the hope that conditions will allow limited numbers of fans back in stadiums next month.

Disney in September said it was furloughing some 28,000 workers, mostly across its U.S. theme parks in California and Florida. Walt Disney World in Florida reopened last July with limited capacity.

Dodger Stadium and a Disneyland parking lot are currently being used as mass-vaccination sites.

Theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Legoland and Knott’s Berry Farm protested strongly last October when California health officials ruled out any quick reopening of their attractions.

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Biden lifts freeze on green cards enacted by Trump earlier in pandemic

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States.

Former president Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market — a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic.

Trump on Dec. 31 extended those orders until the end of March.

Trump had deemed immigrants a “risk to the U.S. labour market” and blocked their entry to the United States in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052.

‘It harms the United States’

Biden stated in his proclamation Wednesday that shutting the door on legal immigrants “does not advance the interests of the United States.”

“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world,” Biden stated in his proclamation.

Most immigrant visas were blocked by the orders, according to immigration lawyers.

As many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year, according to the American Immigrant Lawyers Association. Immigrants could not bring over family members unless they were U.S. citizens applying for visas for their spouses or children under the age of 21.

It also barred entry to immigrants with employment-based visas unless they were considered beneficial to the national interest such as health care professionals.

And it slammed the door on thousands of visa lottery winners who were randomly chosen from a pool of about 14 million applicants to be given green cards that would let them live permanently in the United States.

The blocked visas add to a growing backlog that has reached 437,000 for family-based visas alone, said California immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison, who represented thousands of people blocked by the freeze.

A backlog could remain

Former U.S. president Donald Trump, seen giving a thumbs-up to supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., earlier this month, halted the issuance of green cards until the end of March, deeming them a ‘risk to the U.S. labour market.’ (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post/The Associated Press)

“I’m thrilled for my clients who are now in a position that they can now enter the U.S.,” he said. “But that backlog will take years if the administration does not take ambitious measures.”

A federal judge last year issued a ruling that all but lifted Proclamation 10052 by allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the United States if their employers are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or several other large organizations that represent much of the U.S. economy.

But Proclamation 10014 continued to block thousands of immigrants.

Immigration lawyers said they were surprised Biden did not immediately lift the freeze like he did with Trump’s travel ban imposed against people from mostly Muslim-majority countries. As a result, some immigrants blocked by the travel ban found they still could not come to the United States because of the freeze.

Biden’s actions come only days after thousands of visa lottery winners at risk of having their visas expire won a court order that put their visas on hold by the judge in the case. Now they will be allowed to use their visas to enter the country.

The United States makes available up to 55,000 visas a year for immigrants whose nationalities are underrepresented in the U.S. population. The visas must be used within six months of being obtained.

Meanwhile, Biden has proposed legislation that would limit presidential authority to issue future bans against immigrants.

The president has not said whether there will be any redress for visa lottery winners who lost out because of the pandemic-era policies. But he is calling for the U.S. to increase the number of diversity visas available via the lottery each year from 55,000 to 80,000.

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It’s impossible for Ontario to hit least-restrictive green zone by Christmas, experts say

Ontario’s top doctor is hopeful that the entire province could be in the least-restrictive green zone by Christmas — even when the holidays are just over five weeks away and coronavirus cases are surging.

But medical experts say there’s zero chance of that happening and are once more questioning the thought process of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, who is directly informing Premier Doug Ford’s public health decisions.

Ontario has routinely been topping records for new daily coronavirus cases in the past week or so.

“How is it possible that we could come close to approaching the green zone by the end of December, which coincides with the time that [the province’s] modelling shows we could be at 6,500 cases per day with over 400 patients in the ICU?” said Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, in a video he posted on Twitter. “So this begs the question, why is there such a disconnect between what Dr. Williams says and what I view from my perspective at the bedside?

“That’s a question that I don’t have the answer for — but it’s a question that we should all be asking, because Dr. Williams is the person who advises the premier, and the premier is the person who makes decisions.”

Williams made his Christmas statement during Monday afternoon’s provincial news conference.

“If we all do what we’re supposed to do and do it well and consistently and keep at that, we can get these numbers down as we did before, and bring them down to levels so you bring them from the red, to the orange, to the yellow, and I would like to think everybody would be in green, especially before the time of Christmas,” Williams said.

WATCH | Dr. David Williams says Ontario could be in the green zone by Christmas, if people follow public health guidance:

Ontario’s medical officer of health says he is hopeful that the entire province could be in the green zone by Christmas. 0:28

Warner isn’t the sole voice out there saying there is absolutely no way that can happen.

Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the math just doesn’t add up. Ontario would need to see declining growth in cases in many health units for that to be a possibility, she said, and that isn’t happening.

“Absent a massive shift in how we manage the pandemic in the province, we won’t all be in green by Christmas,” she said.

Biostatistician Ryan Imgrund, who is currently working with hospitals and public health units including Ottawa and Peel, told CBC News that it’s “statistically impossible” for Ontario to get every region into the least-restrictive green zone by Christmas.

“Dr. Williams’s statement shows he doesn’t understand the statistics, or he doesn’t have access to basic measures like the effective reproductive value [or Rt],” Imgrund said, referring to how many people on average would be infected by one person with the coronavirus.

At the province’s daily news conference on Tuesday, both Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott said Williams was looking at the situation optimistically.

“I don’t think it’s something we can count on at this point,” Elliott said. “I think he is being very optimistic, that is of his nature.”

Ford said he’s hopeful that things will improve in the coming weeks but also said, “I’d be very cautious at Christmas.”

To be in the the province’s green zone, a region would need a weekly incidence rate of below 10 new weekly cases per 100,000 people, with per cent positivity below 0.5 per cent and Rt values below one. The province’s own documents say that in the green zone, hospital and ICU capacity is adequate, and contact tracing is taking place — something Toronto had to largely abandon, thanks to surging case counts. Parts of the province that are currently in the green zone include Thunder Bay, Peterborough and Algoma health units.

By contrast, many of Ontario’s most populous regions are currently in the red zone, which includes a weekly incidence rate of more than 40 per 100,000, a test positivity rate of greater than 2.5 per cent and an Rt of greater than 1.2.

In other words, the gulf between red zones and green zones is wide, and to this point, isn’t closing.

See the province’s latest thresholds for yourself in the following PDF. If you can’t see the document, follow this link.

“When I look at the province’s own data … really without exception, we are so far away from being in the green zone — particularly in the red zones,” Warner said, noting that ICU admissions, hospitalizations and deaths are all increasing.

“That is impossible for the entire province to be in the green zone.”

Several medical experts have previously questioned Williams’s advice to the premier, though Ford has repeatedly stood by his chief medical officer of health, who he says works tirelessly for Ontarians.

Williams was appointed by the previous Liberal government in February 2016. He was previously the medical officer of health for the Thunder Bay District Board of Health.

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Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac Co-Founder and Guitarist, Dead at 73

Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac Co-Founder and Guitarist, Dead at 73 | Entertainment Tonight

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Astronomers Detect Eerie Green Glow on Mars for the First Time

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The red planet is looking a bit less red today, but that might be a good thing. European Space Agency (ESA) scientists operating the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) have snapped a photo of Mars with an eerie green glow in its upper atmosphere. This effect, known as night glow, is caused by oxygen atoms interacting with solar radiation, and its presence on Mars could help us understand certain aspects of physics

It’s likely you’ve seen images and even video featuring night glow, but not on Mars. Earth exhibits the same green light in the atmosphere. Night glow is extremely hard to see from the surface of Earth, but there are numerous images from the International Space Station and satellites that show the wispy green light. The process that generates night glow is similar to auroras like the northern lights. As charged particles from the sun impact the atmosphere, they excite atoms in the atmosphere, causing them to emit light at particular wavelengths. The difference with night glow is that it’s a continuous, subtle glow visible in more areas. There’s also a daytime component fittingly called day glow, but that’s even harder to spot. 

While Mars has virtually no breathable oxygen, there are plenty of oxygen atoms in the form of carbon dioxide. This new observation of Mars is the first time we’ve ever seen night glow anyplace other than Earth. As with Earth, the European Space Agency team operating the TGO suspected the glow would only be visible edge-on. So, they oriented the satellite to scan between 12 miles and 250 miles (20 to 400 kilometers) above the surface. Sure enough, they saw the characteristic green glow of oxygen. 

Night glow on Earth as seen from the ISS.

The team created models to better understand what’s going on in the Martian atmosphere. The glow is most likely a result of carbon dioxide breaking apart in the upper atmosphere, leaving enough free oxygen to produce light. TGO analyzed the light from these atoms in the visual spectrum and ultraviolet, and the visible output was 16.5 times higher than UV. Surprisingly, night glow emissions on Earth are weaker than on Mars, which suggests there is still more to learn about how oxygen atoms behave under extreme conditions. 

The Trace Gas Orbiter arrived at mars in 2016 as part of the ExoMars mission. The Schiaparelli lander sadly malfunctioned during its descent and crashed into the surface. The next phase of ExoMars has been delayed and missed its 2020 launch window. The 2022 launch will include a stationary lander and the Rosalind Franklin rover.

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Climate change turning Antarctica’s snow green

Antarctica conjures images of an unbroken white wilderness but blooms of algae are giving parts of the frozen continent an increasingly green tinge.

Warming temperatures due to climate change are helping the formation and spread of “green snow” and it is becoming so prolific in places that it is even visible from space, according to new research published on Wednesday.

While the presence of algae in Antarctica was noted by long-ago expeditions, such as the one undertaken by British explorer Ernest Shackleton, its full extent was unknown.

Now, using data collected over two years by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 2 satellite, together with on-the-ground observations, a research team from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey have created the first map of the algae blooms on the Antarctic Peninsula coast.

“We now have a baseline of where the algal blooms are and we can see whether the blooms will start increasing as the models suggest in the future,” Matt Davey of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences told Reuters.

Mosses and lichens are considered the dominant photosynthetic organisms in Antarctica — but the new mapping found 1,679 separate algal blooms that are a key component in the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“The algal blooms in Antarctica are equivalent to about the amount of carbon that’s being emitted by 875,000 average U.K. petrol car journeys,” Davey said. “That seems a lot but in terms of the global carbon budget, it’s insignificant.”

“It does take up carbon from the atmosphere but it won’t make any serious dent in the amount of carbon dioxide being put in the atmosphere at the moment.”

Green is not the only splash of colour in Antarctica. Researchers are now planning similar studies on red and orange algae, although that is proving harder to map from space.

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Safe supply of drugs for DTES residents given green light, says Vancouver

The federal government has given the green light for a safe supply of drugs for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents in light of the COVID-19 crisis, according to Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

“We must tackle the poisoned drug epidemic — something that has already cost us more than 1,000 lives,” said Stewart during a news conference, where a wide variety of measures were announced to help residents of the Downtown Eastside from contracting or spreading the illness linked to the novel coronavirus.

“The federal government has taken all measures required for this to be operational,” said Stewart. “Now we’re just waiting for the provincial guidelines.”

The safe supply of pharmaceutical drugs would be focused on the 20 to 30 per cent of users in the community not already connected with health-care providers and existing safe injection sites, Stewart said.

B.C.’s chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has called for a safer supply of drugs for more than a year, saying it would allow drug users to “seek help without the fear of being charged criminally.”

On Wednesday, she expressed her support for the federal government’s decision.

“It’s an important piece to ensure we can help support those people as best we can … to ensure that they’re able to comply with our public health advice around isolation or quarantine,” she said. 

The provincial and federal governments have not provided details yet on the timeline or specifics of what the new policy will entail. 

Coal Harbour, Roundhouse now shelter spaces

Vancouver also announced that the Coal Harbour and the Roundhouse community centres have been turned into referral-only shelter spaces for DTES residents who cannot safely shelter in place, or should they develop COVID-19 symptoms. 

The centres will house approximately 140 people, with social-distancing measures being enforced and extra precautions for people with COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization. 

In addition, all public access and washrooms at three of the neighbourhood’s community centres — Carnegie, Gathering Place and Evelyne Saller — have now been closed, though they will still offer food services for takeout meals.

Seven portable washrooms and 11 handwashing stations have been set up in the Downtown Eastside, and the city says it has more on the way.

Vancouver has also begun taking over hotel space so that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms who cannot self-isolate has adequate shelter.

While there has not yet been a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the Downtown Eastside’s homeless population, the city and province have expressed concern, because many of the neighbourhood’s residents have underlying health issues and enforcing social distancing on Hastings and Cordova streets in particular can be a challenge.

In order to minimize risk, Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly said it is important for people to presume the virus is already within any community in B.C.

“I want to be clear: It is circulating.… [But] it’s how we act to minimize the risk,” she said.

Daly said local health staff are making the necessary precautions to help those living on the Downtown Eastside, including opening a warehouse, so that non-profit organizations in the area have access to the supplies they need to avoid spreading the virus.

“For almost all healthy adults, they recover at home, the symptoms are quite mild,” she said. “It’s a certain high-risk population … in whom it could be more severe, and might require a trip to hospital. Our focus is avoiding spread to those vulnerable populations.”

No social-distancing fines issued

Unlike the rest of municipalities in B.C., the City of Vancouver can still issue new orders under its state of emergency, but may only do so with the express permission of the provincial government.

It means the city’s own fines for disobeying public health orders are still in place — up to $ 1,000 for individuals and $ 50,000 for businesses. But thus far the city says it hasn’t issued any.

“The compliance rate has been very, very high,” said Stewart. “We have daily reports as to what’s happening with the public and we are satisfied at this point.” 

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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Jennifer Lopez Rocks Iconic Green Versace Gown, Gushes Over Alex Rodriguez in Stylish ‘SNL’ Monologue

Jennifer Lopez Rocks Iconic Green Versace Gown, Gushes Over Alex Rodriguez in Stylish ‘SNL’ Monologue | Entertainment Tonight

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World’s 1st Ebola vaccine gets green light from EU regulator

The European Medicines Agency has recommended that the world’s first Ebola vaccine be approved, after it was administered to hundreds of thousands of people in Africa.

The agency on Friday described licensing the vaccine as “an important step toward relieving the burden of this deadly disease.”

The Ebola vaccine was originally developed in Canada and is now marketed by Merck as Ervebo. More than 270,000 people in Africa have received it under emergency guidelines as officials try to stop Congo’s ongoing outbreak.

Merck said in a statement its priority now was to get regulatory approval of its Ervebo manufacturing site in Germany so that licensed supply of the vaccine “can be used to support global public health preparedness.”

A second vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, which is not yet licensed, will soon be used in parts of Congo where Ebola is not actively spreading.

Also Friday, the World Health Organization is convening a meeting to consider whether the epidemic in Congo should still be designated a global emergency.

Ebola virus causes haemorrhagic fever and spreads from person to person through direct contact with body fluids.

There are currently no licensed treatments for the deadly infection, but scientists said in August they were a step closer to being able to cure it after two experimental drugs showed survival rates of as much as 90 per cent in a clinical trial in Congo. 

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Nvidia’s New RTX Broadcast Engine Features AI-Powered Green Screen Mode

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Nvidia’s latest RTX-series GPUs are the first to feature real-time ray tracing, which can make games look prettier than ever. However, they’re also powerful computing platforms for AI development. Nvidia has demoed a new AI application powered by the Tensor Cores in RTX cards called RTX Broadcast Engine. Among other things, the new Broadcast Engine can clip the background out of a video feed to create an artificial “green screen.”

The RTX Broadcast Engine is aimed at game streamers, and it includes several functions. The RTX Greenscreen is undeniably the most impressive of them, though. Using the computing power of RTX cards,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce the Broadcast Engine can process a video in real-time and understand which parts are the streamer and which parts are the background. Thus, you can replace the background with different scenes or make it fully transparent in the stream. 

RTX Greenscreen is similar to features integrated with select webcams from Logitech C922x and Razer Stargazer, but Nvidia’s solution should work with any video feed. Those webcams with custom background removal tend not to work very well anyway. If Nvidia’s solution works well, it could make those devices much less attractive.

The RTX Broadcast Engine also features a face-tracking augmented reality (AR) feature called RTX AR. It recognizes faces with enough detail to map your features and render them on a 3D model. Again, this feature is similar to what you can get with specific pieces of hardware like the iPhone. That device uses IR dots and special cameras to map your face and produce “Animoji” versions of your face. Nvidia doesn’t need real depth data — the GPU just figures it out with AI. 

Finally, there are RTX Style Filters, which use AI to apply filters to a full video. The idea here is you can use the Broadcast Engine to match the style of a game or artwork. In the demo video, Nvidia applies a “Starry Night” filter to a video in real-time. We don’t know how well this will be able to match the look of a game, but it could make for some cool streaming effects. 

Developers can apply for early access to the RTX Broadcast Engine right now on Nvidia’s site. It will roll out to everyone “in the coming months.” Nvidia is also working with the makers of popular streaming software OBS to integrate the RTX Greenscreen feature.

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