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Vaccine screening at the airport and one-off inflation: In The News for Oct. 15

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 15 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTWA — Airport security agents may soon be screening more than your luggage.

The federal government is mulling handing responsibility for verifying passengers' vaccination status to airport officers, rather than airlines — which hope to skip the headache.

Canadian carriers received three consultation papers from Transport Canada this week asking for feedback on putting an agency in charge of the proof of-vaccine validation process, according to three sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the Crown corporation that oversees passenger and baggage screening at airports, would take on the additional role in barely two weeks if the plan goes ahead following industry feedback.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that as of Oct. 30 all air, train and boat travellers aged 12 or older must be fully vaccinated, and have the documentation to prove it.

But a veil of uncertainty lingers over how that requirement will unfold, with carriers demanding answers on the patchwork of provincial systems and who will handle verification once a nationwide proof-of-vaccination platform and QR code come into effect, the timing for which is also unknown.

Airlines have been lobbying for CATSA to take the reins on vaccine checks at airports in what would amount to a shift from the current health protocol where carriers are responsible for checking passengers’ COVID-19 test results.

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Also this ...

OTTAWA —The head of the Bank of Canada is warning that the faster pace of price increases may persist longer than first thought, and slow the pace of Canada's economic recovery, as global supply-chain issues weigh on the domestic economy.

Annual inflation rates have run above the Bank of Canada's comfort zone since April, reaching 4.1 per cent in August. The central bank expects readings higher than its target of two-per-cent through the rest of the year.

Governor Tiff Macklem said bottlenecks in the international movement of goods and oil aren't easing as quickly as he and his counterparts from around the world expected.

Still, he believes the hiccups will only cause one-off price increases, rather than ongoing inflation. 

What has happened globally is a sharp rebound in consumer spending particularly for goods that need to be shipped through supply chains that have been damaged by a sharp drop in demand last year, and ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks and public health measures.

All this affects inventories of in-demand consumer products and the delivery of parts needed to build things like cars, and pushes up transportation costs that get passed on to consumers.

And at the same time, shipping delays mean households can't get goods as fast as they want, meaning their spending is delayed, which bites into the pace of growth. 

"We're still expecting a good rebound. It may be not quite as fast as we had" in July's forecast, Macklem said on a videoconference with reporters late Thursday. 

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — A spokesman for Bill Clinton says the former U.S. president is being treated in a Southern California hospital for a non-COVID-related infection. 

Angel Ureña says Clinton was admitted to the University of California Irvine Medical Center on Tuesday evening. 

She says Clinton “is on the mend, in good spirits and is incredibly thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff providing him with excellent care.” 

Clinton's physicians say he is “responding to antibiotics well,” adding, ”We hope to have him go home soon.”

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Also this ... 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is on an asteroid roll as it gets set to launch a series of spacecraft to visit and even bash some of the solar system's most enticing rocks. 

A robotic trailblazer named Lucy is due to blast off Saturday on a 12-year cruise to unexplored swarms of asteroids out near Jupiter. Lucy will zip past a record eight asteroids for scientific study. 

Then in November, NASA will launch another spacecraft to a double-asteroid closer to home. But this craft will deliberately ram the main asteroid's smaller moonlet to change its orbit. The test could one day save Earth from an incoming rock.  

Next summer, a spacecraft will launch to a rare metal world — a nickel and iron asteroid that might be the exposed core of a former planet. A pair of smaller companion craft — the size of suitcases — will peel away to another set of double asteroids.

And in 2023, a space capsule will parachute into the Utah desert with NASA’s first samples of an asteroid, collected last year by the excavating robot Osiris-Rex. The samples are from Bennu, a rubble and boulder-strewn rock that could endanger Earth a couple centuries from now.

“Each one of those asteroids we’re visiting tells our story ... the story of us, the story of the solar system,” said NASA’s chief of science missions, Thomas Zurbuchen.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KONGSBERG, Norway — Authorities said Thursday the bow-and-arrow rampage by a man who killed five people in a small town appeared to be a terrorist act, as witnesses recalled how their quiet neighborhood of wooden houses and birch trees was turned into a scene of terrifying cries and turmoil a day earlier.

“The screaming was so intense and horrifying there was never any doubt something very serious was going on," said Kurt Einar Voldseth. "I can only describe it as a 'death scream,' and it burned into my mind.”

Police identified the attacker as Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen, who was arrested Wednesday night. They said he randomly targeted people at a supermarket and other locations in Kongsberg, a town of about 26,000 where he lived, before being arrested. 

They did not immediately give a motive but believe he acted alone.

Regional Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud described the man as a Muslim convert and said there “earlier had been worries of the man having been radicalized,” but he did not elaborate or say why he was previously flagged or what authorities did in response.

Norwegian media reported the suspect had a conviction for burglary and drug possession, and last year a court granted a restraining order for him to stay away from his parents for six months after threatening to kill one of them.

Voldseth said he recognized the attacker, adding he lived nearby and “usually walks with his head down and headphones on.”

Mass killings are rare in low-crime Norway, and the attack recalled the country's worst peacetime slaughter a decade ago, when a right-wing domestic extremist killed 77 people with a bomb, a rifle and a pistol. Memorials were held in July on the 10th anniversary of those slayings.

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On this day in 1954 ...

Hurricane Hazel roared into central and eastern Canada killing 82 people in the Toronto area alone. The hurricane did its worst in Ontario, causing more than $24 million in damage during its two-day rampage. Hazel had been blowing itself out south of the border when a cold front from the north reactivated it over Lake Ontario.

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In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Neil Young and Crazy Horse are releasing "Barn" on Dec. 10, a new studio album featuring 10 tracks that the legendary singer-songwriter says were written and recorded over the past year.

Young debuted the first single, "Song of the Seasons," on his Neil Young Archives website on Wednesday.

He says the track, which also opens in the album, is the "oldest song on the record, written about this time last year" when he was staying in Canada.

"Song of the Seasons" directly addresses the pandemic with lyrics that acknowledge physical distancing through clear vinyl windows and face masks.

Young told his fans last month that he wished "Barn" was already available but that delays in the vinyl pressing plant caused its release to be postponed.

"It's got songs that are part of these times," he wrote on his website in September.

"Barn" marks the return of Young's Crazy Horse backup band, which includes drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Billy Talbot and guitarist Nils Lofgren.

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ICYMI ...

OTTAWA — A new report says the whole world needs to be far more ambitious about curbing energy use but Canadians are among its biggest consumers.

The International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook published Wednesday shows Canadians used more than 300 gigajoules of energy per person last year, almost twice the world average and among the highest in the world.

It takes about 25 gigajoules to power the average Canadian house over 12 months, but the total energy use per person includes all energy used, including in transportation, industry, and heating and cooling.

The agency report forecasts that as a result of policies to make homes more efficient, remove fossil fuels from the power grid and put more electric cars on the road, Canada's power demand will fall below 300 gigajoules per person by 2030.

But it will still be among the highest energy use in the world, and even though energy demand is expected to rise in India, China and the Middle East, Canada's consumption is forecast to remain almost three times the world average.

Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Pembina Institute, said many people blame Canada's high energy consumption on its size and climate, and an economy that has been reliant on energy-intensive natural resource production.

"But it doesn't have to be this way," she said. "This doesn't need to translate into high energy needs. We can see other countries that have similar climates being more energy-efficient." 

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021

The Canadian Press