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Justin Trudeau has a problem in Washington. Here’s why Joe Biden isn’t listening

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WASHINGTON—When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the U.S. capital this week for the first time since President Joe Biden’s election, two remarkable timing coincidences illustrated the situation Canada faces in its dealings with its biggest and closest ally. You could say they outline the “state of the relationship” — which is a lead-in to the first coincidence.

The Canadian American Business Council, run by former diplomat Scotty Greenwood, hosts an annual “State of the Relationship” gala dinner in Washington that is as big a function for those who work on cross-border issues as exists. This year’s gala — at a ritzy hotel with an astounding view of the White House through its open windows — had been scheduled for Nov. 17 long before it was announced that the prime minister would be attending a White House summit the next day.

Naturally, that meant Trudeau and key members of his cabinet would join the festivities — the prime minister’s speech suddenly becoming the main event. “Canada and the U.S. are bestest of friends,” Trudeau said as his closing line, drawing huge laughs from the corporate executives and U.S. administration officials I was seated with.

The sentiment may be standard issue for a politician — “This is one of the easiest relationships you can have as an American president and one of the best,” Biden said the next day — but it was also vividly felt in a room filled with people who work every day on cross-border economic, cultural and political issues. The formal presentations involved dozens of mayors and governors and members of Parliament and Congress testifying to how beloved was the relationship between the two countries.

That was a stark contrast to the other coincidence of the visit. Trudeau’s agenda in town was topped by concern about an electric vehicle subsidy included in Biden’s economic plan, which would apply only to American-made, union-made vehicles. Trudeau said again and again during his visit that this threatened Canadian companies and jobs that have for decades been seamlessly integrated into a U.S.-headquartered continental auto sector.

So it was a bit of a slap that the House of Representatives passed that measure, alongside the rest of the economic package, on Friday, just hours after Trudeau left town.

You could add a further coincidence: on Wednesday, as Trudeau spoke to Congress and hobnobbed at the gala, Biden was at an auto plant in Michigan, bragging about the coming electric vehicle subsidy and the new green American jobs it would create.

The White House’s background briefings and advance proclamations about the summit made no mention of Trudeau’s key issue. And while the Prime Minister’s Office featured it prominently in its reports about the Biden-Trudeau meeting, the White House recap of their one-on-one meeting made no mention it.

This doesn’t reflect malice so much as obliviousness. Like Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi personally greeted Trudeau and said it was an honour to meet with him, just two days before passing the measure he’d been there to oppose.

For the Democrats, the vehicle subsidy is a small but politically very popular part of a giant domestic spending package that’s at the core of Biden’s agenda. Getting that package through their caucus has been like herding cats — very agitated cats who don’t like each other. Domestically, their electoral prospects are disastrous, even as they see themselves locked in a struggle for U.S. democracy with the Trumpian forces who staged the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In foreign affairs, they’re in with what they see as an existential struggle with China for global dominance, and a constant political obsession with migrant flows at their southern border. And, there’s this pandemic you might have heard about.

American officials know their old reliable bestest friend has some concerns about this vehicle subsidy. But in their minds, it isn’t on the list of emergencies they’re trying to juggle — it barely made any news in the U.S. during the summit.

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like it should be all that big a deal for an old friend to word its protectionist measures in a way that includes its pal Canada inside the bubble, as it has for car manufacturing for decades. It’s a tweak, and one the U.S. has made plenty of times before, one aligned with the trade agreements it has signed. It just complicates a political slogan — one being brandished at a politically complicated time.

Which might be where those cross-border relationships so evident at the business council gala become key. Scotty Greenwood, who hosted that event, is always telling me about the importance of things like the “Canada-U.S. partnership road map” signed earlier this year, or the announcements of working groups or agendas for future discussions coming out of meetings like this week’s summit. It’s in those less high-profile followup discussions where the details get worked out, and maybe where the strength of long-standing relationships can be put to use — outside the news cycle.

The state of the relationship, as illustrated by these two coincidences of timing, is that the fellow feeling for Canadians is strong in the U.S., but that Canada’s issues barely rate a footnote on the American agenda. The challenge for Canada is trying to find a way to use the friendship to avoid getting swamped by the headlines.

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Netflix reveals release date for Vikings: Valhalla, other shows

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There’s a ton of good genre stuff either on right now or about to drop, from The Wheel of Time to The Witcher to The Book of Boba Fett and beyond. And it looks like 2022 will be just as packed. Netflix has unveiled its genre lineup for the new year, and it’s robust.

So what sci-fi, fantasy and history shows are coming to Netflix next year? The biggest news is probably that Vikings: Valhalla — Netflix’s sequel series to History’s Vikings — will premiere on February 25. The announcement also came with some new images:

The reveal was short on other specific release dates, but there were a few, including Archive on January 14, In From The Cold on January 28, and Raising Dion season 2 February 1. As usual, Netflix is very busy.

The Umbrella AcademyStranger ThingsThe Sandman and more are all coming to Netflix in 2022

There were a lot of other shows and movies Netflix confirmed are coming out in 2022 but didn’t give exact premiere dates for, including Magic: The Gathering, Resident Evil, The Sandman, The Umbrella Academy season 3, The Witcher: Blood OriginAlice in Borderlandi season 2, All of Us Are Dead, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, First KillLocke & Key season 3, Stranger Things season 4 and The Cuphead Show!

A bunch of these came with neat little synopses. For example:

  • The Umbrella Academy season 3: After putting a stop to the 1960s doomsday, the Umbrella Academy returns home to 2019, convinced they have fixed the timeline. But after a brief moment of celebration, they realize things aren’t exactly how they left them… Welcome to the Sparrow Academy.”
  • Stranger Things season 4: “Top-secret government experiments and a dangerous gateway that connects our world to a powerful yet sinister realm? Sounds like Hawkins.”
  • The Sandman: “A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy by Neil Gaiman
    (Good Omens, Coraline) that follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.”
  • Resident Evil: “A live action, scripted series building on Capcom’s legendary video game franchise starring Lance Reddick as Albert Wesker. Nearly three decades after the discovery of the T-virus, an outbreak reveals the Umbrella Corporation’s dark secrets.”
  • Magic: The Gathering: “An all-new animated event series…following the lore of the compelling characters, and fantastic worlds that have entertained and delighted fans for more than 25 years.”
  • Locke & Key season 3: “The Locke family uncovers more magic within Keyhouse, while a new threat – the most dangerous one yet – looms in Matheson with plans of his own for the keys.”

Bring it.

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Donald Trump tested Covid-positive three days before Biden debate, claims ex-chief of staff in book, World News

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Donald Trump’s last chief of staff has claimed that the former US president had tested positive for COVID-19 just three days ahead of his debate with Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden in 2020.

Mark Meadows, who served as Trump’s fourth chief of staff, made the shocking claim in his new memoir called ‘The Chief’s Chief,’ according to media reports that accessed the book.

Explaining how ”Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there,” Meadows said Trump was aware about the norm ”to test negative for the virus within 72 hours of the start time” of the debate, which was held on September 29 last year.

Also read | Social media erupts as Trump gets featured on miniature Mount Rushmore

Yet after receiving confirmation that he had tested positive, Trump went ahead with the debate, potentially endangering several lives. He had called the novel coronavirus, which has claimed millions of lives worldwide, as a ”hoax.”

According to Meadows, ”I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. But I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about – which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not.”

Also read | Donald Trump, banned on Twitter and FB, to launch his own social network

Since the positive test was done by an old kit, Trump suggested a new one be performed using the Binax system, hoping that it was a false positive. This proved beneficial as the second test came back negative.

Meadows has also provided the House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly January 6 US Capitol riot with records and agreed to appear soon for a deposition.

“Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition,” Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, said in a statement.

Trump has urged his associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts say that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.

On January 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying his 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Shortly before the riot, Trump gave a speech to his supporters repeating his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”

Meadows was a Republican House member until he left in 2020 to join Trump’s administration.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Half of eligible Lucknowites fully vaccinated against Covid

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Half of the eligible Lucknowites are now fully vaccinated against Covid (taken both doses), says the health department data.

Besides, the state capital crossed the 52-lakh (5.2 million) mark in the total Covid vaccine doses administered since January 16 when the inoculation started nationwide.

Against a target of over 37.4 lakh (3.74 million), the number of Lucknowites who have taken both doses of the Covid vaccine stood at 18.82 lakh (1.88 million) till 7pm on Wednesday.

Till now, 33,35,779 people in Lucknow have got their first dose, which is over 87% of the target population.

During the day, over 18,000 beneficiaries took their second dose in the state capital on Wednesday.

Health officials say they are making efforts to administer at least one dose to all the eligible people by December-end. Several campaigns are being run to motivate people for taking the Covid vaccine jab.

“People are coming on time for their second dose. This is increasing the vaccination coverage in the state capital,” said Dr Manoj Agrawal, the chief medical officer of Lucknow.

He also said, “Apart from running Covid vaccination centres till 10pm, mobile vans facilitate vaccination under the cluster model for those who are unable to move out of their homes.”

“With a major chunk of the eligible population taking their second dose now, we can cross the 90% mark by January,” said Dr Abhishek Shukla, secretary general, association of international doctors.

Lucknow tops all 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh and experts say vaccination coverage in the state capital is essential to check the spread of the Covid infection.

“Lucknow has a major floating population that visits it for a day or two for some work and goes back. If all Lucknowites are vaccinated, they will remain safe and will not spread the infection,” said Dr PK Gupta.

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