Canada sets Aug. 9 border opening for vaccinated US visitors

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government presented a road map to reopening Canada’s borders to nonessential international travel beginning next month.

Fully vaccinated U.S. residents will be allowed into Canada as of Aug. 9, according to a plan unveiled Monday in Ottawa. Tourists will need to provide border officials with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test completed before arrival. They will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine and two post-arrival coronavirus tests.

Those rules will apply to travelers from other countries as of Sept. 7. Canada’s borders have been closed to leisure travel for non-citizens and residents since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“The earlier start date of Aug. 9 for fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents is in acknowledgment and recognition of our shared border and our close relationship with the United States,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said at a press conference. “It will give us the opportunity to test our processes and to ensure they’re effective.”

Monday’s announcement, made by a half dozen ministers, comes as vaccination rates climb on the eve of an expected election campaign. Canada surpassed its largest trading partner on fully inoculated residents over the weekend, with 49.6% of the total population vaccinated compared to 48.6% in the U.S.

The U.S. isn’t expected to reciprocate the looser rules for land travel at this point, Blair said, meaning fully vaccinated Canadians won’t yet be able to drive across the border.

—Bloomberg News

DoJ won’t prosecute Trump official over census citizenship question

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department declined to prosecute former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for misleading Congress about the origins and purpose of asking about citizenship on the 2020 census, a government watchdog told Congress on Monday.

Senators had asked the Commerce Department inspector general to investigate whether Ross had lied while testifying in 2018 about why the Trump administration was pushing — for the first time in decades — to add a citizenship question to the census.

The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the Trump administration’s bid to add the question, citing Ross’ failure to provide an honest explanation for his agency’s reasoning about why it was making such a major change.

Activists were concerned that the question, or even an assumption that the question was included, would lead fewer people to respond to the census. The decennial census plays a key role in divvying up congressional representation and the allocation of billions of dollars in federal, state and local funding.

Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson said in a letter to Congress released Monday that she found that Ross misled when he testified under oath in March 2018 that the question was being added at the request of the Justice Department. It also states that the results of the investigation were “presented to and declined for prosecution by the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division.”

—Los Angeles Times

First Gitmo transfer of Biden administration likely to revive debate

WASHINGTON – The debate over the future of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba will likely be back in the spotlight this week after the Biden administration announced Monday that it had repatriated a detainee from the military facility for the first time since President Joe Biden took office.

Abdul Latif Nasir has been repatriated to Morocco.

The Periodic Review Board, which reviews detainee cases to determine when holding detainees under the law of war is no longer considered necessary for national security reasons, had actually adjudicated the Nasir case back in 2016. But as senior administration officials were explaining Monday, the process wasn’t completed before President Barack Obama left office. Former President Donald Trump shifted U.S. policy and halted transfers.

There were a handful of detainees who had been cleared for transfer who had their cases effectively frozen when Trump took office. Nasir’s return to Morocco is the first clear case of reversal from the Trump administration policy.

After the Pentagon and State Department made their announcement, a senior administration official told reporters the administration was committed to “ultimately closing” the Guantanamo facility.

—CQ-Roll Call

LAPD erred in calculation before detonating explosion that injured 17

Los Angeles police attempting to safely detonate a stash of illegal fireworks last month significantly underestimated the weight of the devices before they exploded, injuring 17 people in a South L.A. neighborhood.

The miscalculation, disclosed at a news conference on Monday, is the first major revelation from a massive investigation into the cause of the blast that devastated an entire block after police discovered more than 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks at a home on 27th Street.

Some of the explosives, including 280 M-80s and 40 soda can-sized devices, were deemed too dangerous to transport and were placed in an armored truck for a controlled detonation. Police estimated the weight at 16.5 pounds, but federal investigators later determined that the weight was closer to 42 pounds, said LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

The miscalculation, Moore said, could have resulted because bomb squad officers, following safety protocols to limit the handling of explosive devices, were unable to use a scale to weigh them. The estimates, he said, were made by a physical inspection.

“For unknown and improvised explosive devices — including this type of firework — it’s recommended to minimize the handling of these items as much as possible,” Moore said.

“If mistakes were made in regards to established protocols, I’ll hold the appropriate individuals accountable,” he said. “This department will learn from others.”

The revelation could increase scrutiny of how the LAPD handled the incident and whether it could have done more to protect residents and get the explosives out of the densely populated area before they were detonated.

—Los Angeles Times

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