In the News

Jan 21, 2022

The exposure deaths of four persons on the edge of Manitoba’s border with the U.S. this week after a van linked to the victims was intercepted in North Dakota has led to human smuggling charges being laid against a Florida man.

Jan 20, 2022

A suggestion Jan. 19 by President Joe Biden that the U.S. might limit its response to any “minor incursion” into Ukraine has angered Ukraine President Volodymyr. “There are no minor incursions,” Zelensky said on social media today. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”

Jan 20, 2022

RCMP say four people, one an infant, were found dead Jan. 19 in Manitoba within metres of the U.S. border. They are believed to have died from exposure. The RCMP began a search after being notified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers who apprehended a group which had items meant for an infant but did not have a child with them.

Jan 20, 2022

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Muslim woman to death for “blasphemy” by using the WhatsApp messaging platform to share images deemed to be insulting to the prophet Muhammad and one of his wives. The woman testified that she was lured into an online religious discussion with a man she refused to befriend and her conviction, which is mandatory by law in such cases, is subject to appeal.

Jan 20, 2022

Canada Post employees risk being sent home during the coronavirus pandemic if they opt to wear masks not issued by their employer even if their own choice can be more effective. “The mask requirements, like our vaccine mandate, are mandatory,” a post office official said, citing direction from Employment and Social Development Canada.

Jan 20, 2022

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is being urged by more than 400 climate scientists and other academics to abandon a planned tax credit for companies which build carbon capture and storage facilities. The idea was broached in last year’s federal budget and design consultations were completed last month. In a letter to Freeland, the scientists decry it as a huge subsidy to the petroleum industry and contradictory to the government’s climate change commitments.

Jan 20, 2022

Major international airlines resumed scheduled flights to the U.S. today after a flurry of cancellations Jan. 19 over concerns about possible systems issues caused by the rollout 5G mobile telecom services which operate in a frequency band also used in aviation.

Jan 20, 2022

The RCMP says militant critics of mandatory masks and lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic have been carrying out more protests at politicians’ homes as well as their constituency offices. “Nobody in the course of doing their job should be faced with threats of violence, threats to their family” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says. “That applies for health-care workers or for politicians or anyone else.”

Jan 19, 2022

Afghanistan’s acting prime minister, Mullah Hasan Akhund, wants foreign governments, particularly those of other Islamic countries, to officially recognise the Taliban administration. His first major public appearance since assuming office last September, it included appeals by other Taliban for less foreign restrictions on Afghanistan’s finances.

Jan 19, 2022

Driven mainly by rising food prices, the Consumer Price Index reported by Statistics Canada today increased by an annualized 4.8 per cent in December. Supply-chair problemsremain a key factor.

Jan 19, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has invited Russia to more talks on the Ukraine crisis as fears mount over a possible breakout of conflict, but Moscow continues to insist on security demands as a precondition. Stoltenberg did not give any dates for a potential resumption, saying only that it been suggested for the “near future.”

Jan 19, 2022

Canada’s major scheduled service and charter airlines have cancelled thousands of flights as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve but one lamented “government barriers” to travel. WestJet CEO Harry Taylor said Jan. 19 that “we continue to advocate for the elimination of cumbersome travel rules that are unnecessarily impacting Canadians and prolonging the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.”

Jan 19, 2022

Nearly three months after the U.S. took similar action, the federal government has cancelled contracts with the Canadian subsidiary of a Malaysian company for the supply nitrile gloves for health care providers. Public Services and Procurement had been holding deliveries since November pending a review of the supplier’s operations.

Jan 19, 2022

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has told a parliamentary committee that the coronavirus may become endemic. “Many experts believe that so-called herd immunity may not be achievable with this virus because it undergoes constant evolution,” Dr. Tam said Jan. 18. “So what you’re looking at is this endemic state where people will get reinfected over time as immunity wanes.”

Jan 18, 2022

A day before their scheduled rollout of 5G cellular service, the two largest U.S. providers, Verizon and AT&T, are delaying it near some airports to address concerns about interference with aircraft electronics. Neither said which airports were affected but their Jan. 18 announcement followed an airlines’ warning to Transportation Secretary about potential chaos.

Jan 18, 2022

Air Canada, WestJet and Toronto International Airport have asked Ottawa to drop its requirement for vaccinated travellers to be tested for coronavirus on arrival. “As the government has ramped up testing at airports for international arrivals, we have seen frontline workers struggle to get PCR tests, and lab processing capacity decrease significantly,” they said Jan. 17. “There is a growing discrepancy between resources allocated to asymptomatic travellers and to those who need it most.”

Jan 18, 2022

Health Canada has authorized the use of the first oral and at-home antiviral treatment developed by Pfizer. However, it stresses that it is suitable only for adults with mild to moderate cases or at high risk of becoming seriously ill. Nor is it intended prevent infections or to treat patients hospitalized due to severe cases and it cannot be taken for longer than five consecutive days. “No drug . . . is a substitute for vaccination,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, the department’s chief medical adviser, said Jan. 17.

Jan 18, 2022

An additional contingent of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel were deployed to Ukraine last week, apparently to coordinate the evacuation of diplomatic personnel in the event of a Russian invasion. CANSOFCOM points out that its other members have been involved in Canada’s broader support for Ukraine since 2020.

Jan 18, 2022

Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta asked Justice Minister Kaycee Madu to “step back” Jan. 17 pending a review of whether he improperly Edmonton’s police chief about a traffic ticket 10 months ago. Police say he was ticked for using a cellphone in a school zone and although Madu didn’t contest the ticket, he felt he was “unlawfully surveilled” due to the fact he is black.

Jan 18, 2022

A Nuclear Waste Management Organization plan to ship thousands of spent reactor fuel rods in interim storage in four provinces to a proposed permanent storage site in Ontario has rekindled a decades-long debate about safety. With a decision on the location of the $23-billion project expected next year, scientists continue to study bedrock in the region where the deep geologic facility is likely to be located.

Jan 18, 2022

As concern continued to grow in Ukraine about Russian troop buildups along its borders, Russia began withdrawing dozens of diplomatic families from its embassy in Kyiv and a consulate in Lviv. The withdrawal earlier this month also saw personnel at two other consulates advised to be ready to return to Moscow.

Jan 18, 2022

As the two largest U.S. telecom service providers, AT&T and Verizon, prepared to roll out 5G services Jan. 19, the largest U.S. airlines are reiterating warnings about potential “major disruptions” from conflict with navigation systems. In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, they urged “immediate intervention” to prevent what they say is a “completely avoidable economic calamity.”

Jan 17, 2022

Responding to a request from 12 federal public service unions for clarity about working from home during the pandemic, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier says that while a “one size fits all” policy isn’t practicable for 100 department and agencies, she says some work cannot be done from home. “Each department will have its own operational requirements . . . and as it has been the case throughout the pandemic, there are some public servants whose work cannot be done remotely.”

Jan 17, 2022

Transport Canada says more than 1,700 airline passengers refused to wear masks against coronavirus during flights on domestic carriers last year and that 959 cases resulted in enforcement action, ranging from warnings to fines. WestJet, with a zero tolerance, has banned 163 customers since Sept. 1, 2020 for refusing to respect masking rules but says those represent a tiny fraction of its passengers.

Jan 17, 2022

The International Labour Organization, a UN agency headquartered in Geneva, said today that global employment cannot recover to pre-pandemic levels until at least next year. In its latest annual outlook, it expects a shortfall of full-time equivalent jobs at some 52 million and that hours worked would be two per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Jan 17, 2022

The global British-based charity Oxfam reported today that the coronavirus pandemic has made the world's wealthiest far richer while landing more people living in poverty and contributing to the death of 21,000 people daily. “What's happening is off the scale,” said Oxfam GB chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah. “Something is deeply flawed with our economic system.”

Jan 17, 2022

Russia’s intelligence service said that information provided by the U.S. enabled it to shut down the REvil ransomware group and charged several of its members on the weekend. “The organised criminal association has ceased to exist and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralised,” the agency said.

Jan 17, 2022

A former Haitian Senator, John Joel Joseph, has been arrested in Jamaica in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last July. Haitian police have accused Joseph of supplying weapons and planning meetings.

Jan 17, 2022

Houthi rebels are said to be responsible for a drone attack which killed at least three persons and sparked fuel tanker truck explosions near Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates today. The Yemen-backed rebel group said it would be issuing a statement about “a special military operation that was carried out in the heart of the UAE.”

Jan 17, 2022

An Egyptian expatriate imprisoned in 2007 by his homeland on expedited espionage charges, has returned to Toronto after spending 15 years in prison. Egypt alleged that Joseph Attar had used his position as a CIBC teller to provide account data to Israel and while he confessed, he insists that he was “pressured psychologically and physically (to) admit things that I didn't say.”

Jan 15, 2022

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported Jan. 14 that FedEx wants to operate aircraft fitted with lasers as a countermeasure against missiles. The proposed system “deflects infrared laser energy toward an incoming missile, in an effort to interrupt the missile's tracking of the aircraft's heat,” the regulator explained. “In recent years, in several incidents abroad, civilian aircraft were fired upon by man-portable air defense systems.”

Jan 15, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly leaves for Ukraine Jan. 16 for a six-day visit which is scheduled to include meetings with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Deputy PPM Olga Stefanishyna and probably Canadian troops deployed on Operation Unifier. “The amassing of Russian troops and equipment in and around Ukraine jeopardizes security in the entire region. These aggressive actions must be deterred,” Joly said today. “Canada will work with its international partners to uphold the rules-based international order and preserve the human rights and dignity of Ukrainians.”

Jan 15, 2022

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has been tasked by the Prime Minister with reviewing the RCMP’s contract policing services, which it currently provides to some 150 municipalities and the northern territories as well as in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec. The review is in response to long-standing complaints about racism and use of force in some areas.

Jan 15, 2022

The Portuguese capital’s government has been fined €1.25 million by the country’s data commissioner for giving the Russian, Chinese, Israeli embassies in Lisbon personal details about protesters at 52 rallies in the last three years.

Jan 14, 2022

Digital assets worth some $400 million were stolen in at least seven North Korean hacks last year, says New York-based Chainalysis Inc. Calling 2021 one of the most successful years on record, the software company said “the value extracted . . . grew by 40 per cent” from 2020 when four hacks were recorded.

Jan 14, 2022

An employee of the government-funded British Council, which promotes arts and culture as way of building international bridges, has returned to Britain after having been jailed for more than three years in Iran, Aras Amiri, an Iranian expatriate, had been sentenced to 10 years on spurious espionage charges during a family visit but her conviction was overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court as being against Shariah law.

Jan 14, 2022

Britain’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency, MI5, says an alleged Chinese agent has infiltrated Parliament to interfere in U.K. politics. It said in an official alert this week that Christine Ching Kui Lee had “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs, including donations linked to China and Hong Kong. Barry Gardner, a former member of the Labour shadow cabinet member reported to have received more than £420,000 over five years, said he had always made security services aware of the funding.

Jan 14, 2022

A former U.S. paratrooper who leads the far-right Oath Keepers militia has been charged with seditious conspiracy over the mob attack on Congress a year ago. Arrested at home in Texas, Stewart Rhodes is among 11 persons charged Jan. 13 and the Justice Department has accused him of military-style tactics in coordinating the attack.

Jan 14, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the administration’s proposal to require companies with more than 100 employees to have them vaccinated against the coronavirus or at least be tested weekly. However, in its Jan. 13 ruling, the court did permit a requirement that workers at federally-supported healthcare works should be vaccinated.

Jan 14, 2022

Three rockets launched from a nearby neighbourhood targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone Jan. 13 while a fourth landed in a nearby residential complex. The Iraqi military said a girl and a woman were injured in the latest in a series of drone and rocket attacks this month on the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Jan 14, 2022

While some jurisdictions are easing pandemic restrictions, other parts of Canada are clamping down, depending on their governments’ perceptions of whether the coronavirus curve is flattening or has yet to peak.

Jan 14, 2022

The websites of seven Ukrainian government ministries and other services were rendered temporarily unavailable today by what the foreign ministry says was a huge cyberattack. A ministry official said that while it was too early to assign blame, “there is a long record of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine.” The hackers said in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish that Ukrainians should “be afraid expect the worst.”

Jan 14, 2022

A Vancouver-based health services provider said Jan. 13 that homeless and vulnerable people have offered payment to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by persons trying to fraudulently obtain a vaccine card. “This behaviour is deplorable and we're disappointed that anyone would take advantage of vulnerable people in this way,” Vancouver Coastal health said, warning that “future instances of fraud may be forwarded to local police authorities.”

Jan 14, 2022

The minimum hourly wage in Nova Scotia will rise by 40 cents to $13.35 in April and Premier Tim Houston said Jan. 13 that further increases recommended by a review committee would be discussed. If implemented, those would see increases to $13.60 in October and to $15 by April 2024. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said that while the increase this spring is based on the Consumer Price Index, it is below a “living wage” and should be more than $22 an hour.

Jan 13, 2022

Contrary to a CBSA spokesperson’s statement the previous day, the government said Jan. 13 that all truckers entering Canada from the U.S. must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus as of Jan. 15. “The information shared yesterday was provided in error,” the health, transport and public ministers said. “Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information.”

Jan 13, 2022

New York-based Human Rights Watch said today that Canada has serious domestic and foreign policy challenges on the watchdog’s issues list. Acknowledging that the Trudeau administration has made progress on rights during its six years in office, it has fallen short on, among other things, indigenous equality, climate change and Canadian companies’ foreign mining activities.

Jan 13, 2022

Canada is signing on with Mexico's official request for arbitration to resolve a claim that the U.S. is violating the trilateral 2019 trade agreement by insisting on “all American” electric vehicles. with its stance on automobile parts. “A dispute settlement panel will help ensure a timely resolution,” International Trade and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng said today.

Jan 13, 2022

Opposition MPs on the House of Commons standing committee on information, privacy and ethics wants Health Minister Yves Duclos and Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, to justify the Public Health Agency of Canada’s collection of data from millions of mobile phones to understand travel patterns during the coronavirus. The MPs fear that customers’ privacy could be compromised even though the PHAC is seeking anonymized data.

Jan 13, 2022

Anwar Raslan, a former Syrian security officer, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court today of crimes against humanity. Having entered Germany on a visa in 2014 and arrested five years later, he was accused of overseeing a detention center in Damascus where prosecutors said thousands of prisons were tortured and dozens killed during the ongoing civil war.

Jan 13, 2022

Commenting on Quebec’s proposed financial penalty for people who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus without specific medical exemptions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Jan. 12 that “incentives and strong measures” have worked in the past. “Whether it’s vaccine passports, whether it’s requirements for travellers, whether it’s the requirement for public servants to be fully vaccinated, we have taken very strong measures in the past and they have worked in terms of keeping Canadians safe.”

Jan 13, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is worried that the alliance’s failure to achieve a breakthrough over Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders could lead to war. He said Jan. 12 that the talks had come at “a defining moment for European security” because “significant differences between allies and Russia . . . will not be easy to bridge” and “there is a real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe.”

Jan 13, 2022

U.S. Cyber Command said Jan. 12 that Iran’s intelligence apparatus has been using multiple hacking tools against computer networks “around the world.” One vehicle is a hacking group known as Muddy Water which has tried to snatch data from telecommunications companies and others across the Middle East and elsewhere.

Jan 13, 2022

The International Energy Agency said today that Canada needs more electrical generating capacity to meet the government’s stated emissions reduction and climate change targets. “Canada's wealth of clean electricity and its innovative spirit can help drive a secure and affordable transformation of its energy system and help realize its ambitious goals,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. However, even with 83 per cent of its power coming from non-emitting power, more was needed.

Jan 13, 2022

Changes to France’s coronavirus testing protocols in school are causing “chaos” and “putting teachers' lives in danger,” a union representative said today amidst a nationwide strike. The education ministry said some 31 per cent of all teachers were off the job in protest, including 58 per cent in Paris.

Jan 13, 2022

The Bulgarian government’s coronavirus passport initiative resulted in a mass demonstration orchestrated by the ultra-nationalist Revival party outside the parliament in Sofia Jan. 12. They managed to reach the front doors before they were pushed back by police, some of whom were injured.

Jan 12, 2022

Just days before coronavirus vaccination was scheduled to become mandatory for all truckers entering from the U.S., the federal government is backing away from the plan. A CBSA spokesperson said Jan. 12 that unvaccinated Canadian truckers will remain exempt from testing and quarantine requirements but those will remain in effort for unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated foreign nationals

Jan 12, 2022

Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné says RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki failed to fulfill her obligations under the RCMP Act to respond “as soon as feasible” to findings by the Civilian Review and Complaints. “It is in the public interest to have a police oversight institution that functions properly and is unobstructed,” Gagné says. Her ruling flows from the fact that it took the CRCC six years to act on a B.C. Civil Liberties Association complaint that the RCMP was spying on opponents of a pipeline project.

Jan 12, 2022

The U.S. government is being told by one of its own agencies that it must strengthen policies that protect scientific advice used in decision-making. “Political intrusion into the conduct, management, communication, and use (or misuse) of science has a severe impact on public trust,” a committee of the National Science and Technology Council,” says in a report released by the White House Jan. 11. It is essentially a reaction to four years of former President Donald Trump’s persistent undermining of government scientists.

Jan 12, 2022

SolarWinds, a Texas-based IT management and software company, reported Jan. 11 that hackers have supplanted insiders as the largest source of security threats to the U.S. public sector. Some 56 per cent of the 400 respondents to a commissioned survey said the hacker community was a key issue for public sector organizations, followed by careless or untrained insiders at 52 per cent and foreign governments at 47 per cent. Concern evidently was higher at the state and local level than federally.

Jan 12, 2022

It was disclosed Jan. 10 that Lars Findsen, head of Denmark's foreign intelligence agency since 2015, has been in prison for a month for allegedly leaking classified information to news media. Findsen, who has called the charges “completely insane”, was arrested in Dec. 8 at Copenhagen Airport. Four other current and former members of intelligence agencies also were arrested but have been released.

Jan 11, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was told by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Jan. 11 that the west must be ready to impose further economic sanctions against Russia for its military buildup on his country's eastern border. The message was delivered during a telephone call on the eve of today’s NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels.

Jan 11, 2022

The World Bank’s latest forecast is for global growth to slow to 4.1 per cent this year from 5.5 in 2021 due to ongoing coronavirus threats, unwinding government support programs and fading demand. Bank President David Malpass said Jan. 11 that as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on growth, especially in poor countries, the outlook is “grim.”

Jan 11, 2022

The World Economic Forum said today that cybersecurity and space are emerging risks to the global economy, adding to existing challenges posed by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest Global Risks Report, usually released ahead of the annual Davos gathering of corporate and political leaders, the WEC predicts that the global economy will continue to shrink with richer nations faring better than poorer ones.

Jan 11, 2022

There was a 6.2 per cent surge in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year as Americans who were mostly closeted during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic returned to more normal lives. “It is clear that the climate crisis is . . . having devastating consequences,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, said Jan. 11. “When we hear that emissions are going back up, that is extraordinarily worrisome.”

Jan 11, 2022

Results of a peer-reviewed study published today in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences shows that the world’s oceans last year were at their warmest in recorded history as average temperatures rose for the sixth consecutive year. “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” commented report co-author Kevin Trenberth, distinguished scholar at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Jan 11, 2022

Premier François Legault said today that Quebec adults who refuse coronavirus vaccination for non-medical reasons can expect a financial penalty. While he was not specific, he did say $50 or $100 “is not significant” enough. “These people . . . put a very important burden on our health-care network.”

Jan 11, 2022

The U.S. administration today announced an additional $308 million humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan in a bid to prevent a crisis which has evolved since the Taliban takeover last fall. To be managed by aid organizations, it is to fund shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Jan 11, 2022

David Sassoli, an Italian journalist and social activist who became President of the European Parliament in July 2019, died today at the age of 65 after a steady decline in his health over the last few months.

Jan 11, 2022

A First Nation in south-central Alberta is accusing the provincial government of ignoring federal legislation which would enable it to control its own child welfare services. The tribe sought an agreement with the two levels of government in October 2020 under the auspices of Bill C-92, passed by Parliament in June 2019, which permits indigenous jurisdiction. The legislation states that if an agreement isn’t in place within a year of the request, indigenous law takes precedence. Darin Keewatin, executive director of child welfare for the Louis Bull Tribe, says Alberta has refused to cooperate.

Jan 11, 2022

With a population of 5.5 million, the Chinese city of Anyang is the third major centre to be locked down in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic after two cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed. The Jan. 10 move brings the total reported lockdown to some 20 million; 10 million have been locked down in Xi’an since late December and 1.1 million in Yuzhou since earlier this month.

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