“That would certainly put some downward pricing pressure on local growers,” he said.

And as Canada’s industry is forced to consolidate to survive, some worry about who will lose out as large, publicly traded companies come to dominate the space.

Long before legalization, many of the first shops to defy Canadian marijuana laws were nonprofit “compassion clubs” selling to people who used cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The current system’s emphasis on large corporate growers and profits has squeezed many people from minority communities out of the business, said Dr. Daniel Werb, an epidemiologist and drug policy analyst at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Dr. Werb is part of a research group whose preliminary findings have shown that “there is a marked lack of diversity” in the leadership of the new, legal suppliers, he said.

Sellers in Indigenous communities, too, have been left in limbo, generally not subjected to police raids but also outside the legal system, although Ontario has began licensing shops in some of those communities.

“I get more and more concerned about, on the one hand, the lack of ethno-racial diversity and, on the other hand, a lack of imagination around the fact that this didn’t have to be a wholly for-profit industry,” Dr. Werb said. “It seems like there was a missed opportunity to think creatively.”

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Ontario Police’s Sweeping New Powers on Covid Draw Criticism

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has extended and expanded its stay-at-home orders and given the police sweeping new powers to enforce the mandates in an effort to curb rising case numbers and hospitalizations.

The police will now be able to stop and question people, including those in vehicles, to make sure that their trips outside home are essential. Residents, who are not permitted to gather with members outside their household with some exceptions, could face fines if they do not comply with the new orders. The Ontario government is also expected to restrict travel between Manitoba and Quebec, and the police will set up checkpoints at the provincial borders.

The new measures come amid a sluggish vaccine campaign in Canada and the latest virus wave there, driven largely in Ontario by the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant first detected in Britain. The increasing case numbers have strained the capacity of intensive care units in many parts of the country.

Canada has inched ahead of the United States in new daily coronavirus cases per capita, and officials warned that worse is to come. By Friday, hospitalizations were up by 22 percent; I.C.U. admissions rose by 34 percent; and each day, 41 people died from Covid-19, a 38 percent increase from the previous week.

a variety of other measures.

The latest measures have been met with criticism, including from public health experts, the mayor of Toronto and several police departments, including the Toronto Police Service, which said on Twitter that it would “not be doing random stops of people or cars.” There were also concerns that asking the police to impose such measures could result in racial profiling.

“I know you are all sick and tired of Covid-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday as he urged Canadians to follow their provinces’ rules. “We all just want to be done with this.”

Emergency rooms, particularly in Ontario, are reaching their breaking points, as are intensive care units. In a bid to ease the strain, children’s hospitals in both Ottawa and Toronto opened their I.C.U. beds to adults.

Many factors are behind the increasing numbers. Among them is the arrival of more infectious variants of the virus. An outbreak of P.1, the variant first found in Brazil, spread throughout British Columbia and then into Alberta. Manitoba discovered its first case of the variant this week.

Moderna is delaying deliveries of its vaccine shipment to Canada and other countries, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has yet to arrive in Canada, has come under safety scrutiny.

Pfizer will sell Canada an additional eight million doses of the vaccine it has developed with BioNTech, half of which will arrive next month, and all of which will arrive by the end of July.

Many Canadians are frustrated as they see higher vaccination rates in Britain and the United States.

Canada’s vaccination strategy has been to delay second doses to allow more residents to gain the protection from at least one shot. About 2 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated compared with 25 percent of Americans, and 19 percent have received at least one dose compared with 39 percent in the United States. Yet the scheduled increases in vaccine shipments — the Moderna slip up aside — should help Canada catch up over the next few weeks.

Farah Mohamed contributed reporting.

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A Week of Discouraging Coronavirus Pandemic Developments in Canada

I was feeling vaguely guilty this week when heading out to a sports complex in suburban Ottawa for my vaccination. As I write this, only 19 percent of Canadians have shared my experience and just before my vaccine day arrived, tens of thousands of vaccination appointments in Manitoba and Ontario were canceled.

pulled slightly ahead of the United States in average daily new cases per capita. Moderna cut deliveries of its vaccine to Canada and other countries while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has yet to arrive in Canada, has come under safety scrutiny.

paused the use of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine over concerns that it might be linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder. Canada is expecting its first shipment of that vaccine — 300,000 doses — on April 27.

My colleagues Denise Grady and Carl Zimmer examined the blood-clotting risk potentially posed by that vaccine as well as the AstraZeneca vaccine. Their bottom line: If there is a risk, it’s low.

[Read: J & J Vaccine and Blood Clots: The Risks, if Any, Are Very Low]

But perhaps offsetting all that is Mr. Trudeau’s announcement that Pfizer will sell Canada an additional eight million doses of the vaccine it has developed with BioNTech, half of which will arrive next month, and all of which will arrive by the end of July. The company will also be sending earlier purchases sooner. All that may mean that all Canadian adults will have received at least one shot by July, the prime minister said.

an immediate pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine after six recipients in the United States developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within one to three weeks of vaccination.

  • All 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico temporarily halted or recommended providers pause the use of the vaccine. The U.S. military, federally run vaccination sites and a host of private companies, including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Publix, also paused the injections.
  • Fewer than one in a million Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are now under investigation. If there is indeed a risk of blood clots from the vaccine — which has yet to be determined — that risk is extremely low. The risk of getting Covid-19 in the United States is far higher.
  • The pause could complicate the nation’s vaccination efforts at a time when many states are confronting a surge in new cases and seeking to address vaccine hesitancy.
  • Johnson & Johnson has also decided to delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe amid concerns over rare blood clots, dealing another blow to Europe’s inoculation push. South Africa, devastated by a more contagious virus variant that emerged there, suspended use of the vaccine as well. Australia announced it would not purchase any doses.
  • As I pulled into a parking lot, a man in an orange vest told me to stay in the car until my appointment time was announced over a very loud loudspeaker to avoid people congregating. After passing through two screenings by people who remained welcoming, despite having to endlessly ask the same questions, and a registration check in, I received a shot four minutes after my scheduled appointment time. It was injected by someone more than qualified for the task: an orthopedic surgeon.

    Canada’s decision to get at least one shot into as many people as possible means that I’m not scheduled for a second dose until August.

    As many Canadians look at vaccination rates in Britain and the United States, their frustration has been growing. Right now, just 2 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated compared with 24 percent of Americans. But the scheduled increases in vaccine shipments — the Moderna slip up aside — should help Canada catch up slightly over the next few weeks.

    If so, it will also be a relief to the medical world. After he released the projections compiled by Ontario’s table of science experts on Friday, which indicated cases could hit 30,000 a day if nothing is done, Adalsteinn Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said, “More vaccination, more vaccination, more vaccination.”


    built 100 tiny shelters for homeless people to get though the winter. He now has an even bigger plan.

  • Geneva Abdul, a Times colleague now based in London and former member of Canada’s national soccer team, wrote about the confidence that playing the sport gave her.

  • An exhaustive review found that anti-gay bias by Toronto police helped allow a serial killer to prey on the city’s gay community.

  • William Amos, a Liberal member of Parliament from Quebec, stripped down after a jog while not realizing that his computer’s camera was on and broadcasting to his fellow lawmakers in a virtual meeting. Now some people are asking who leaked the photo of Mr. Amos standing nude to the public.


  • A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


    How are we doing?
    We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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    Young Italians Are Accused of Jumping the Line for Vaccines

    Last year, in the worst days of the pandemic in Italy, old people died in record numbers. Now, as the country rolls out its vaccination campaign, national authorities have uncovered a rash of line-cutting by younger people and accused them of depriving the elderly and the most vulnerable of their shots.

    The national military police, the Carabinieri, are fielding hundreds of reports of vaccine cheating, including by teenagers and people in their early 20s, and the prime minister has felt compelled to weigh in.

    “Stop vaccinating people under 60. Stop vaccinating young people,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a news conference last week.

    “How can people in all conscience jump the line?” Mr. Draghi added. “Knowing that they leave exposed a person who is over 75 to a risk, a concrete risk of dying, or a fragile person?”

    fined for flying to a remote town in order to get vaccinated.

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    Gauging the Prospects for International Travel

    If 2020 was the summer of the pandemic-enforced road trip, many people seem to be hoping that 2021 will be the summer they can travel overseas. But that’s a big “if.” Roadblocks abound, among them, the rise of variant cases in popular destinations like Europe and confusion about the role that vaccine “passports” will play as people begin crossing borders. The recent pause on Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine adds a new wrinkle.

    Still, there is reason for optimism. The number of vaccine doses administered each day in the United States has tripled in the last few months, and President Biden has said the United States is still on track to vaccinate every American adult who wants it by the end of May. Globally, the number of shots has been rising, with more than 840 million vaccines administered worldwide.

    Currently, Americans are restricted from entering many countries for nonessential trips. Travelers can check the U.S. State Department website for specific country entry restrictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to view recommendations for international travelers (vaccinated and unvaccinated), and the C.D.C. COVID Data Tracker to monitor country conditions.

    Iceland announced on March 16 that it would allow all vaccinated travelers into the country, Delta Air Lines followed soon after with an announcement that in May it would resume its Iceland routes from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, and offer a new route from Boston.

    it’s been reported that the Biden administration may cancel existing travel restrictions for foreign nationals coming from Britain, Europe and Canada, around mid-May.

    Still, the market is very much in flux, Mr. Grant said, so even though airlines may be increasing their flight schedules, they will continue to adjust to demand, possibly consolidating some of the flights.

    United Airlines plans to increase international flights, but will still be operating just about half of its 2019 schedule. Among the flights it is eyeing are those between Chicago and Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Tel Aviv. The company also plans to increase service from Los Angeles to Sydney and Tokyo Narita.

    Beach destinations that are open to Americans have seen an increase in demand and United is scheduling 90 more flights per week to or from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America than it had in May 2019.

    Patrick Quayle, the vice president of the United Airlines’ international network, said the company had been adding more flights to countries that were open, but was uncertain when additional destinations like Canada — which is currently closed to American tourists and which has recently seen a rise in cases — would be added to that list. United is trying to be nimble, he said, so “if something were to open up, we can put our aircraft in the sky quickly.”

    At American Airlines, new routes are planned this summer from New York to Athens and Tel Aviv, and from Miami to Suriname and Tel Aviv. (Israel has announced it would allow some vaccinated tourists into the country beginning May 23.) American also announced it was restarting a number of flights to Europe. Beyond that, the company won’t speculate on where air travel will open next.

    Travel-Ready Center allows passengers with booked tickets to view country-specific entry requirements and schedule tests, and will soon allow customers to upload and store their vaccination records on the website before they travel. American’s online travel tool on the company’s website already allows passengers to store required documents like proof of negative coronavirus tests.

    One airline that has been focusing on flights between the United States and international destinations is not a U.S. carrier, but a Middle Eastern one: Emirates. The United Arab Emirates opened up to leisure and business travelers last July and Emirates is already offering direct service to Dubai from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. Passengers can also connect from there to other destinations in the Middle East, Africa and West Asia. The company recently announced it would resume its flight between Newark and Athens on June 1.

    health and cleaning protocols they put in place during the pandemic. Some have been adding on-site virus testing. In addition, so-called “touchless technology,” like phone apps for ordering food, will continue to be rolled out. A report by Medallia Zingle, a communications software maker, found that 77 percent of consumers surveyed said the amount of in-person interaction required at a business will factor into their decision on whether or not they visit that business.

    Marriott, one of the world’s largest international hotel companies, with some 7,600 hotels under 30 brands, has implemented a set of practices it calls Commitment to Clean that includes sanitizing properties with hospital-grade disinfectants, using air-purifying systems and spreading out lobby furniture to facilitate social distancing. Some properties offer free coronavirus testing.

    Recently the company announced a pilot program introducing self-serve check-in kiosks that create room keys and allow guests to bypass the front desk. It is also adding more “grab and go” food options.

    Hyatt, another major international brand, is also continuing to focus on cleanliness. Currently, it is working with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council and Cleveland Clinic to create its Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment. Those practices will “remain in place during the pandemic and beyond,” Amy Weinberg, Hyatt’s senior vice president of loyalty, brand marketing and consumer insights, wrote in an email.

    its Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, France, one of its last remaining closed properties. Almost all Hyatt properties have been open since last December, and in February the company began arranging for guests staying at Hyatt resorts in Latin America who planned to travel back to the United States to get free on-site coronavirus testing.

    IHG’s Kimpton brand with 73 hotels in 11 countries plans on modifying its protocols this summer where it feels they are safe and local ordinances allow — for example, bringing back the manager-hosted social hour, a guest favorite.

    The four Kimpton hotels in Britain that closed because of the pandemic are currently scheduled to reopen by the end of May. A new Kimpton property in Bangkok that opened in October of 2020 to local guests will welcome international travelers this fall. The company also plans to open a new hotel in Bali and one in Paris later this year.

    “Hoteliers are chafing at the bit” to reopen and are able to do so quickly, said Robin Rossman, the managing director of the hospitality analytics company STR. The global hotel sector, though, will likely take up to two years to make a full return, he said.

    Geographic Expeditions, which did not run any trips last summer, reported that its bookings have picked up significantly in the past few months. It plans to run 20 international trips this summer, both to familiar destinations such as the Galápagos, and some off the beaten path, including Pakistan and Namibia. There are only about 25 percent fewer guests signed up now than there were for 2019 summer trips, according to the chief executive, Brady Binstadt, and they are “spending more than before — they’re splurging on that nicer hotel suite or charter flight or special experience.”

    The company chose its first destinations based on entry requirements and client interest and then adjusted itineraries to avoid crowds, minimize internal flights and make sure guests had access to required testing. One expedition required flying a Covid-19 test into a safari lodge in Botswana via helicopter.

    A guest recently moved a Geographic Expeditions trip planned for 2022 departure forward to 2021. The company hopes this will become a trend.

    Abercrombie & Kent restarted its small-group and private trips last fall and early winter to places like Egypt, Costa Rica and Tanzania, and is continuing to expand choices as countries open up. “There’s been a noticeable spike in people calling who have had their first vaccine,” said Stefanie Schmudde, the vice-president of product development and operations. Bookings in March rose more than 50 percent over bookings in February, according to the company.

    Ms. Schmudde monitors global travel conditions intently, and can rattle off names of countries that have been open to tourists for a few months and those she expects to open soon. She predicts Japan and China will open up this fall, but does not expect Europe to welcome many visitors any time soon.

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    United Rentals to Acquire General Finance Corporation

    STAMFORD, Conn. & PASADENA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI) (“United Rentals” or “the company”) and General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ: GFN) (“General Finance”) today announced their entry into a definitive agreement under which United Rentals will acquire General Finance for $19 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $996 million, including the assumption of $400 million of net debt. The transaction is expected to be accretive to EPS and free cash flow upon close.

    General Finance, which operates as Pac-Van and Container King in the U.S. and Canada, and as Royal Wolf in Australia and New Zealand, is a leading provider of mobile storage and modular office space. Its network of 106 branches and over 900 employees serves diverse end markets, including construction, commercial, industrial, retail, transportation, petrochemical, consumer, natural resources, governmental and education.

    As of December 31, 2020, on a trailing 12-month basis, General Finance generated $94 million of adjusted EBITDA on $346 million of total revenue, translating to a 27.2% adjusted EBITDA margin. As of March 31, 2021, General Finance’s rental fleet consisted of approximately 100,000 units at an original cost of approximately $639 million.

    The boards of directors of United Rentals and General Finance unanimously approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration or early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other regulatory approvals. United Rentals intends to commence a tender offer by April 26, 2021, to acquire all of the outstanding shares of GFN common stock for $19 per share in cash. Following completion of the tender offer, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Rentals will merge with and into General Finance and shares of General Finance common stock that have not been tendered and purchased in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive $19 per share in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. The company plans to update its 2021 financial outlook to reflect the combined operations following the completion of the transaction.

    Strong Strategic Rationale

    Robust Financial Drivers

    CEO Comments

    Matthew Flannery, president and chief executive officer of United Rentals, said, “Our acquisition of General Finance will be a significant opportunity for us to further differentiate our value in the eyes of our customers, while providing attractive, long-term returns for our shareholders. We see strong growth potential from this combination, including our ability cross-sell mobile storage and office solutions to our customers. Our expansion into this space comfortably checks all three boxes of our M&A criteria — strategic rationale, financial impact and cultural fit.”

    Flannery continued, “We’re confident the time is right to reengage in M&A with this highly strategic combination, as our end markets recover from the challenges of 2020. General Finance is a customer-focused organization with excellent field operators and specialized expertise that complements our own. We look forward to welcoming our new employees and customers as an important part of our future.”

    Jody Miller, chief executive officer of General Finance, commented, “Our combination with United Rentals — the industry leader in equipment rentals — is a strong outcome for everyone involved. Our customers will benefit from United’s extensive solutions and geographic footprint, and our employees will have new opportunities as part of the largest rental team in the world.”

    Key Acquisition and Transaction Statistics

    Financial information in $ millions

    Purchase Price

     

    $

    996

    Present Value of Acquired Tax Assets

     

    $

    19

    Total Revenue (full-year calendar 2020)

     

    $

    346

    Adjusted EBITDA (full-year calendar 2020)

     

    $

    94

    Estimated Annualized Cost Synergies Achieved by End of Year Two

     

    $

    17

    Estimated Annualized Cross-selling Benefits Achieved by End of Year Three

     

    $

    65

    Original Equipment Cost of Fleet

     

    $

    639

    Number of Rental Units

     

     

    ~100,000

    Employees

     

     

    ~930

    Rental Branches

     

     

    106

    Customers

     

     

    ~50,000

    Sullivan & Cromwell LLP acted as United Rentals’ legal advisor in the transaction, and Morrison and Foerster LLP acted as General Finance’s legal advisor.

    Conference Call

    United Rentals will hold a conference call tomorrow, April 16, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The conference call number is (855) 458-4217 (international: (574) 990-3618). The replay of the call can be accessed at (404) 537-3406, passcode 7279967.

    Non-GAAP Measures

    General Finance’s adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure as defined under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission. United Rentals believes that this non-GAAP financial measure provides useful information about the proposed transaction; however, it should not be considered as an alternative to GAAP net income. A reconciliation between General Finance’s adjusted EBITDA and GAAP net income, as well as other financial data, is provided in the investor presentation available on the company’s website.

    About United Rentals

    United Rentals, Inc. is the largest equipment rental company in the world. The company has an integrated network of 1,154 rental locations in North America and 11 in Europe. In North America, the company operates in 49 states and every Canadian province. The company’s approximately 18,250 employees serve construction and industrial customers, utilities, municipalities, homeowners and others. The company offers approximately 4,000 classes of equipment for rent with a total original cost of $13.78 billion. United Rentals is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the Barron’s 400 Index and the Russell 3000 Index® and is headquartered in Stamford, Conn. Additional information about United Rentals is available at unitedrentals.com.

    About General Finance Corporation

    Headquartered in Pasadena, California, General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ: GFN) is a leading specialty rental services company offering portable storage, modular space and liquid containment solutions. General Finance’s North America operations consist of wholly-owned subsidiaries Pac-Van, Inc., a leading provider of portable storage and office containers, mobile offices and modular buildings; and Lone Star Tank Rental Inc., a provider of liquid storage tank containers. Additionally, General Finance has wholly-owned subsidiaries Royal Wolf, a leading lessor of portable storage solutions in Australia and New Zealand; and Southern Frac, LLC, a manufacturer of portable liquid storage tank containers in North America and, under the trade name Southern Fabrication Specialties, other steel products.

    Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

    This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, known as the PSLRA. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current plans, estimates and projections, and, therefore, you should not place undue reliance on them. No forward-looking statement, including any such statement concerning the completion and anticipated benefits of the proposed transaction, can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about the business and future financial results of the equipment rental industries, and other legal, regulatory and economic developments. United Rentals and General Finance use words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “plans,” “expects,” “projects,” “future,” “intends,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” “guidance” and similar expressions to identify these forward-looking statements that are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the PSLRA. Actual results could differ materially from the results contemplated by these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, those described in the SEC reports filed by United Rentals and General Finance, as well as the possibility that (1) United Rentals may be unable to obtain regulatory approvals required for the proposed transaction or may be required to accept conditions that could reduce the anticipated benefits of the acquisition as a condition to obtaining regulatory approvals; (2) the length of time necessary to consummate the proposed transaction may be longer than anticipated; (3) problems may arise in successfully integrating the businesses of United Rentals and General Finance, including, without limitation, problems associated with the potential loss of any key employees of General Finance; (4) the proposed transaction may involve unexpected costs, including, without limitation, the exposure to any unrecorded liabilities or unidentified issues that United Rentals failed to discover during the due diligence investigation of General Finance or that are not covered by insurance, as well as potential unfavorable accounting treatment and unexpected increases in taxes; (5) United Rentals’ business may suffer as a result of uncertainty surrounding the proposed transaction, any adverse effects on our ability to maintain relationships with customers, employees and suppliers, or the inherent risk associated with entering a geographic area or line of business in which United Rentals has no or limited experience; and (6) the industry may be subject to future risks that are described in the “Risk Factors” section of the Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other documents filed from time to time with the SEC by United Rentals and General Finance. United Rentals and General Finance give no assurance that they will achieve their expectations and do not assume any responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements.

    The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties that affect the businesses of United Rentals and General Finance described in the “Risk Factors” section of the Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other documents filed from time to time with the SEC by United Rentals and General Finance. This press release is not intended to be a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities and does not constitute an offer for the sale of, or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction, including the United States. Any such offer will only be made by means of a prospectus or offering memorandum, and in compliance with applicable securities laws. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. United Rentals and General Finance undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

    Additional Information and Where to Find It

    This press release is for informational purposes only and is neither an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell securities. The tender offer described in this press release has not commenced. At the time the tender offer is commenced, United Rentals will file, or will cause to be filed, tender offer materials on Schedule TO with the SEC and General Finance will file a Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14D-9 with the SEC, in each case with respect to the tender offer. The tender offer materials (including an offer to purchase, a related letter of transmittal and other offer documents) and the solicitation/recommendation statement will contain important information that should be read carefully when they become available and considered before any decision is made with respect to the tender offer. Those materials and all other documents filed by, or caused to be filed by, United Rentals and General Finance with the SEC will be available at no charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. The tender offer materials and related materials also may be obtained for free (when available) under the “Our Company—Investor Relations—SEC Filings” section of United Rental’s website at https://unitedrentals.gcs-web.com/sec-filings, and the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement and such other documents also may be obtained for free (when available) from General Finance under the “Investor Information—SEC Information” section of General Finance’s website at https://generalfinance.com/sec-information/.

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    A Former Alt-Right YouTuber Explains His Methods

    “There’s one way this is going to go,” he told the man. “You’re going to end up knocked down unconscious.”

    Over the more than two years he helped produce and publish videos for Mr. Robinson and others, Mr. Robertson learned how making clever edits and focusing on confrontation could help draw millions of views on YouTube and other services. He also learned how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm often nudged people toward extreme videos.

    “It meant that we did more and more extreme videos,” Mr. Robertson said.

    Caolan Robertson grew up in Ireland, and after his parents divorced, he moved with his father to a predominantly working-class area in the north of England. Realizing from a very young age that he is gay, he often felt like an outsider. But he says he encountered more overt homophobia when he moved to London for college and walked through the largely Muslim neighborhoods at the East End of the city.

    After the 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. — where a Muslim man pledging loyalty to the Islamic State killed 49 people and wounded 53 more — Mr. Robertson developed an extreme animosity toward Muslims, particularly immigrants. His anger was fueled in large part, he said, by videos he watched on YouTube.

    He began watching videos from mainstream outlets, like an episode of the HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher” in which Sam Harris, an author and a podcast host, advocated greater criticism of Muslim beliefs. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm suggested more extreme videos involving personalities like Mr. Robinson, a former member of the neo-fascist and white nationalist British National Party who was born Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

    In 2017, Mr. Robertson contacted Mr. Robinson and soon began working with him as a video producer. By the end of the year, he was also collaborating with Ms. Southern, an activist from Canada.

    Knowing what garnered the most attention on YouTube, Mr. Robertson said, he and Ms. Southern would devise public appearances meant to generate conflict. That December, they attended a women’s march in London and, with Ms. Southern playing the part of a television reporter, approached each woman with the same four-word question: “Women’s rights or Islam?”

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    Changing Strategy, the E.U. Bets Big on Pfizer to Battle Covid

    BRUSSELS — Bruised by major disruptions in supplies of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the European Union Wednesday announced it was putting trust and money into the Pfizer-BioNTech shot to salvage its vaccination rollout and secure doses for the future.

    The pivot away from AstraZeneca, once a pillar of the E.U. inoculation program, comes after months of discord over delayed shipments and as the company battles worries over rare potential side effects of its shots.

    In announcing the change in strategy, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Pfizer had agreed to an early shipment of doses that she said should likely allow the bloc to reach its goal of inoculating 70 percent of adults by the end of the summer.

    That goal was in jeopardy after AstraZeneca failed to deliver on expected doses in the first quarter of the year, then suffered fresh setbacks over potential side effects related to blood clots. The European vaccine campaign was dealt a further blow Tuesday when Johnson & Johnson said it would delay its own rollout in Europe because of similar concerns and after regulators paused its use in the United States.

    supply disruptions from AstraZeneca in late January, and then with the emergence of the potential rare blood disorder that has battered the public’s confidence in vaccines and led to appointment cancellations.

    “As we can see with the announcement by Johnson & Johnson yesterday, there are still many factors that can disrupt the planned delivery schedules of vaccines,” Ms. von der Leyen said Wednesday.

    Ms. von der Leyen said the Pfizer doses under negotiation for the next two years would include potential booster shots to extend the immunity of people who have already been inoculated, as well as possible new shots or boosters targeting emerging variants that might prove resilient against existing vaccines.

    The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines performed well in clinical trials and the possible dangerous side effects have been rare. But trials of the Pfizer and Moderna shots shows that they were even more effective in preventing infection, and similar side effects have not emerged. Another mRNA vaccine, from CureVac, is in clinical trials.

    On Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency, the bloc’s top drug regulator, said it was expediting its investigation of “very rare cases of unusual blood clots” in recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and expected to issue a recommendation next week. While the evaluation is ongoing, the agency reiterated its view that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

    In a setback for AstraZeneca, Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to permanently stop the administration of the company’s vaccine, saying the potential side effects were significant enough to do so given that it had the pandemic under control and could rely on the Pfizer and Moderna inoculations.

    With the fresh commitment by Pfizer to bring forward the delivery of 50 million doses originally slated for the end of the year, the company expects to deliver 250 million doses in total to the bloc by the end of June.

    Ms. von der Leyen said more than 100 million people in the European Union had already received at least one vaccine dose, and 27 million had received both. The additional Pfizer vaccines, together with 35 million doses expected from Moderna over the next three months, and a more limited use of AstraZeneca doses already in the pipeline, should likely be enough to get the bloc to the coveted milestone of reaching 255 million people by September, E.U. officials said.

    In stark contrast to the criticism of AstraZeneca’s handling of its E.U. dealings, Ms. von der Leyen praised Pfizer effusively, highlighting how important the company’s ability to respond quickly to help the European Union has been.

    “I want to thank BioNTech/Pfizer; it has proven to be a reliable partner,” Ms. von der Leyen said. “It has delivered on its commitments, and it is responsive to our needs.”

    Addressing another sore point, Ms. von der Leyen said that the future Pfizer doses would be produced in the European Union.

    Ample exports from the factories within the bloc to the rest of the world have enabled countries like Mexico and Canada to launch their vaccination campaigns, but those exports have also been identified as one reason there weren’t enough vaccines to go around in Europe.

    The United States and Britain, by contrast, held tight to the vaccines made in their countries, helping speed along their inoculation efforts.

    Monika Pronczukcontributed reporting.

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    The Traveling Work Diary of a Master Distiller

    6:30 a.m. Today, I’m moving bourbon samples out of the private office I’ve been renting at Vuka, a co-working space in Austin. I meant to do it the previous day, but I fell behind schedule after the winter storms closed Texas, and I’ve been busting my butt playing catch-up ever since. Being pregnant also doesn’t help my energy levels.

    8:30 a.m. After we take our daughter, Andi, to her nanny’s house, Kevin drives me to Vuka. On the way, I call my distribution partner in Canada to discuss introducing Eaves Blind to that market. We’re having a hard time securing the licenses we need for spirits sales because the tasting program doesn’t meet their government’s standards.

    9:30 a.m. Kevin assembles moving boxes, and we pack all 260 samples. I’ve approved various lots for my Tennessee bourbon client, Sweetens Cove, based on six different barrels ranging from three different ages, four to six to 16 years old.

    11:30 a.m. We head to lunch at this vegan spot, Casa de Luz, then back home to unpack the remaining spirits, plus my graduated cylinders, beakers, scales and other tools.

    1 p.m. Start compiling a long list of to-do items for a Chinese client who is constructing a distillery in Fujian. I’m creating a timeline of everything that needs to happen before they whip up their first run of single-malt products, including equipment cleaning and testing, as well as ingredient sourcing. I also review all of the instrumentation diagrams their Scottish engineering firm provided. I love the technical side of the industry!

    3 p.m. Time to pick up the baby. On the way, I call an Australian-based design firm about a collaborative project with Lindsay Hoopes of Hoopes Vineyard in Napa. We discuss names for a smoked brandy we created using grapes affected by the 2017 and 2020 wildfires. I’m excited about the name we all like — it’s sexy and provocative.

    4 p.m. Head home for our nighttime routine with Andi — dancing, lots of funny faces, plus some walking and “talking.” She’s got the hard “k” sound down. She tries to say “truck,” “rock” and “duck,” but it just sounds like she’s sitting there cussing.

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    A Bleak Forecast for Canada’s 600,000 Energy Industry Workers

    We don’t know exactly what Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, will present when she becomes the country’s first woman to deliver a federal budget later this month. But the Liberal government has made it abundantly clear that economic and employment recovery will be its broad theme.

    paints a dire picture for one group of workers whose employment is threatened by much more than the pandemic. It forecasts that as the world grapples with climate change, reduced demand for oil and gas will cause to 50 to 75 percent of 600,000 jobs in Canada’s energy sector to vanish.

    Beata Caranci, the bank’s chief economist and the main author of the report, told me that while she anticipates the budget will include something for energy workers, the work to transition them to new jobs in the low carbon world should already be underway.

    hollowing out of middle income jobs. Wealth and jobs, in turn, became concentrated in a handful of cities.

    But in Canada the loss of manufacturing work was offset by well paying jobs in the expanding Canadian energy industry. The rise of fly-in, fly-out work, in which residents of Atlantic Canada and elsewhere commuted to jobs in the oil sands, spread those economic benefits around the country.

    visited Canada regularly from 1951, Marilyn Berger writes that he “tried to shepherd into the 20th century a monarchy encrusted with the trappings of the 19th. But as pageantry was upstaged by scandal, as regal weddings were followed by sensational divorces, his mission, as he saw it, changed. Now it was to help preserve the crown itself.” And in Opinion, Tina Brown, author of the forthcoming book “The Palace Papers,” offers her assessment of the Duke of Edinburgh.

  • Canada is among the nations seized by vaccine envy.

  • Robert A. Mundell, the Nobel Prize winning economist who was born in Kingston, Ontario, has died. He championed the idea that low tax rates and easy fiscal policies should be used to spur economies, and that higher interest rates and tight monetary policy were the proper tools to curb inflation. Former President Ronald Reagan embraced Professor Mundell’s ideas. Their effects remain a matter of debate.

  • Vaccine passports might reopen the world. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among those concerned fairness of a two-tier system for haves and have-nots.


  • A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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