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Amazon’s cancellation of HQ2 in New York hailed as success for activists

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Amazon protestGetty/Andrew Lichtenstein

  • Amazon announced on Thursday that it has scrapped plans to open a second headquarters in New York City.
  • The news comes after Amazon has faced opposition from local politicians and residents regarding the decision.
  • Early reactions on Twitter suggest that many are interpreting the move as a sign that the recent protests impacted the retail giant’s decision. 

Following opposition from local politicians and residents, Amazon has officially canceled its plans to open a new headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, the company announced Thursday.

The decision is being perceived by some as a sign that the public controversy surrounding Amazon’s plan has been successful in driving the retail giant out of New York.

Amazon announced in November that it had chosen New York City and Arlington, Virginia as the locations for its new headquarters, bringing 25,000 new jobs to each city. But the retail giant has been met with stark opposition since making the announcement, with locals staging protests at the company’s bookstore on Manhattan’s 34th street and areas near the site where Amazon planned to build its campus. New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson and member Jimmy Van Bramer have been particularly vocal about their opposition to Amazon’s plan.

Much of the backlash stems from the notion that Amazon would receive close to $3 billion in tax breaks, but potential rent hikes also likely posed a notable concern for locals. In April, before Amazon had confirmed plans to open a new office in New York, Zillow conducted an analysis suggesting that renters’ costs could increase by more than $200 annually relative to the real estate site’s base in the two cities Amazon chose.

Following the announcement, many onlookers — from New York and elsewhere — took to Twitter to applaud the role that local activism may have played in Amazon’s decision to pull out. 

In its statement, Amazon said it decided to scrap plans to open up a New York campus because “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project.” The company also said it does not plan to reopen its search for a new headquarters at this time and will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville. 

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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