In the News

Apr 06, 2021

The city of Saint John, N.B. faced a ransom demand of nearly $17 million worth of bitcoin last November in return for cyberattackers not releasing encrypted information. City Manager John Collin, recently confirming the attack, says it shut down all IT services and refused to pay the ransom.

Apr 06, 2021

A new Iranian military prosecutor has confirmed the indictment of “10 of the officials who had a role” in the January 2020 missile downing of a Ukrainian International Airlines flight with scores of Canadians aboard. Gholam Abbas Torki, who did not ientify the officials, said they would face trial “in the new year,” which began March 21.

Apr 06, 2021

Despite personal misgivings, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has asked incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to forming a new government after a recent election, the country’s fourth in two years, failed to produce a clear winner. Rivlin’s request comes as Netanyahu goes on trial on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Apr 06, 2021

The new U.S. administration will join talks in Vienna designed to revive a nuclear deal with Iran from which the former administration withdrew in 2018. The six countries still party to the agreement must find a way for the U.S. to lift the former administration’s sanctions against Iran, which has said it will not meet with the U.S. until that happens.

Apr 06, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law designed to keep him in power until possibly 2036. Currently 68 and serving his fourth term, Putin could serve two more six-year terms when his current orchestrated mandate expires in 2024.

Apr 06, 2021

Ten retired admirals have been detained for publicly criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan for a canal project in Istanbul. They were among 104 former officers who signed a letter warning against withdrawal from an international treaty governing the strategic Bosphorus Strait. The canal would provide an alternative shipping route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean..

Apr 05, 2021

In an attempt to reduce crime in rural areas and improve law enforcement’s emergency response times, the Alberta government has authorized its fish and wildlife officers and sheriffs to assist with high-priority RCMP situations.

Apr 05, 2021

Two days after he was arrested and accused of trying to destabilize his country, former Jordanian crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein has said he has pledged allegiance to King Abdullah and is committed to the constitution. He also has denied allegations of conspiracy.

Apr 05, 2021

The U.S. has lifted “inappropriate and ineffective” sanctions imposed by the previous administration on International Criminal Court officials investigating alleged war crimes by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “We maintain our long-standing objection to the court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-states parties such as the United States and Israel,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders.”

Apr 01, 2021

Defence lawyers for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou say that although her December 2018 arrest in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities was valid, her ongoing detainment is illegal. Federal prosecutors have argued that Canada was obliged by its extradition treaty to arrest Meng.

Apr 01, 2021

Christine Schraner Burgener, a Swiss diplomat and UN special envoy on Myanmar, has told the Security Council that “a bloodbath is imminent” in Myanmar as its military intensifies its crackdown on anti-coup protesters. She said March 31 that the UN must consider “potentially significant action” to turn the situation around. At least 521 civilians have been killed in protests against the Feb. 1 overthrow of the elected government.

Apr 01, 2021

Two Russian officials have been expelled from Italy in connection with an espionage case, which Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio describes as “an extremely serious hostile act.” His March 31 statement follows the arrest of an Italian navy captain and the detention of a Russian military attaché the Italian authorities say were “caught in flagrante” in an exchange of cash for classified documents.

Apr 01, 2021

A new Parliamentary Budget Office report says the government’s COVID-19 response should see the current year’s deficit balloon to $363.4 billion. However, PBO Yves Giroux also says the red ink should sink as emergency spending measures wind down and that financing will eventually become sustainable.

Apr 01, 2021

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says the Chinese Communist Party has become increasingly bold and sophisticated in trying to shape international perceptions of how it treats religious and ethnic minorities. It says diplomats and state media have been prolific users of western social media platforms as well as using so-called “influencers” in a bid to shape public opinion.

Apr 01, 2021

The Philippines wants China to remove a flotilla of militia-operate ships from six islands and reefs claimed by Manila in the South China. The ships and four naval vessels are described as a threat to sovereignty and the marine environment and Manila says that “neither the Philippines nor the international community will ever accept China’s assertion of its so-called ‘indisputable integrated sovereignty’ over almost all of the South China Sea.”

Apr 01, 2021

A former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst pleaded guilty March 31 to leaking classified documents to a journalist about military drone strikes against Middle East terrorist targets in 2014 and 2015. Daniel Hale, who was working as a contractor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at the time, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Mar 31, 2021

A Federal Court judge has certified a class-action lawsuit against the RCMP over accusations that physicians who routinely screen applicants had sexually abused them. “It's rewarding to be able to move this forward and know that some folks will get resolution,” the lead plaintiff says.

Mar 31, 2021

An Italian navy officer identified as a frigate captain has been arrested while allegedly handing over classified documents to a Russian officer posted at his country’s embassy in Rome. A national police special operations unit carried out the arrests March 30 “during a clandestine meeting between the two” at which money changed hands.

Mar 31, 2021

The Polish government is being taken to court by the European Commission, which accuses its member state of undermining judicial independence. “Polish judges . . . apply EU law and contribute to the mutual trust on which Europe is built,” EC Vice-President Věra Jourová, a Czech politician and lawyer, explained today. “National governments are free to reform the judiciary, but while doing so they have to respect the EU treaties.”

Mar 30, 2021

Twenty-six persons, including 16 former Turkish Aerospace Industries employees and a former member of the government’s defence procurement agency, were detained today on suspicion of espionage. They also are accused of what Turkey says is a terrorist organization run by an exiled Muslim cleric.

Mar 30, 2021

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today that although new analysis points to a wildlife vector for COVID-19, the organization still needs to confirm that the coronavirus did not originate in a Chinese laboratory. China has dismissed the possibility but Tedros, noting that his team had difficulty getting raw data during a recent visit, called for “more timely and comprehensive data sharing.”

Mar 30, 2021

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that Canada had a poorer record than many other countries when it came to the number of deaths in long-term care homes between the first and second waves of COVID-19. Its study also found that the deaths accounted for 69 per cent of the national total, well above an international average of 41 per cent.

Mar 30, 2021

Too many Americans are declaring victory in the COVID-19 too early, say President Joe Biden and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is deadly serious,” Biden said, urging state governors to reinstate restrictions shortly after Walenksy admitted that she is “scared” by the prospect of continued waves.

Mar 30, 2021

More than 20 national leaders, including those from Britain, France and Germany, are calling for a new treaty to help the world to prepare for future pandemics. “There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies,” they said in a published declaration. “No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when.”

Mar 30, 2021

A new law limiting the right of Hong Kong residents to run for local election has been enacted by the China's rubber-stamp parliament. Previously, the former British colony’s legislature was divided between elected officials and representatives of Beijing-oriented trade and industry bodies, theoretically enabling opposition parties to win a majority. Now the elected seats will be filled by government appointees.

Mar 30, 2021

India's border state of Manipur has rescinded an order to officials to “politely turn away” refugees from Myanmar in the aftermath of last month’s military coup. Meanwhile, continued protests in Myanmar evidently have resulted in more than 500 deaths at the hands of the country’s military.

Mar 29, 2021

Conservative MP Michael Chong, vice-chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and its international human rights subcommittee is one of several persons sanctioned by China in a dispute over Beijing’s treatment of its minorities. Chong says he will consider China’s response to Canadian sanctions “a badge of honour.”

Mar 29, 2021

Ahead of the release of a delayed WHO report on COVID-19, one of its authors says the wildlife trade in China is the most likely vector for viral transmission to humans. This echoes an initial assessment by a multinational team which visited a market in Wuhan earlier this year. “There was definitely a pathway that takes animals coming into that market from all over China, including the places where the nearest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in bats,” says British zoologist Peter Daszak.

Mar 29, 2021

Traffic through the Suez Canal resumed today after a salvage company headquartered in The Netherlands coordinated the removal of a 200,000-tonne container ship which had blocked passage for six days. Assisted by a high tide, tugs pulled the Japanese-owned and Panamian-registered Ever Given from the waterway’s banks where it had lodged after being blown off-course.

Mar 29, 2021

The weekend deaths of more than 100 protesters against the February military coup in Myanmar, bringing the total to more than 400 since the elected government was overthrown, has drawn global condemnation. The U.S. has accused the country’s military leaders, who celebrated Armed Forces Day March 27, of carrying out a “reign of terror” and a dozen countries’ defence ministers issued an unusual joint condemnation.

Mar 29, 2021

More than 25 million residents of the Philippines capital of Manila and nearby provinces, nearly a quarter of the mostly Catholic country’s population, face a strict Easter lockdown against COVID-19. It was announced March 27 after the country reported 9,838 new cases, its highest single-day jump.

Mar 29, 2021

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s internationally-condemned decision to withdraw from treaty designed to address violence against women has resulted in a second wave of public protests. Named for the city in which it was drafted in 2011, the Istanbul Convention was said by Erdoğan to have been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalise homosexuality” which was “incompatible” with Turkish values.

Mar 29, 2021

During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s weekend visit to Tehran, he and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, signed a 25-year agreement which is expected to yield large Chinese investment. They also agreed to a 10-fold increase in bilateral trade over the next decade.

Mar 26, 2021

Fox News and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, are being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation arising from the network’s coverage of the 2020 U.S. election. The Toronto-based company is seeking at least $1.6 billion in damages over allegations that its widely-used voting machines had been rigged to help Joe Biden win the presidency.

Mar 26, 2021

A scathing report by the RCMP’s independent watchdog on racial discrimination has prompted Commissioner Brenda Lucki to respond that she is trying to change the force’s evidently entrenched culture. “It's part of my job, and part of my mandate, to ensure that the culture is transformed and that we strengthen our relationships with Indigenous people,” she told a parliamentary committee March 24.

Mar 25, 2021

Auditor-General Karen Hogan said today that although the federal government was clearly unprepared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, the public service “rose to the challenge and delivered” an array of support programs. She did highlight some logistics issues but pointed out in her first report to Parliament that “when multi departmental coordination is prioritized and focused on outcomes, the public service can make it work.”

Mar 25, 2021

The federal government has further updated its 2016 guidelines on the security challenges presented by foreign investments. “Some of these Canadian companies possess sensitive personal data or develop and manufacture sensitive technologies that form part of critical supply chains,” Innovation Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne explained March 24. The government last updated the guidelines in April 2020.

Mar 25, 2021

The constitutionality of the federal government’s carbon tax was upheld today by the Supreme Court of Canada in a split decision. Several provinces had challenged the policy but the majority of the nine judges agreed that climate change is “a threat of the highest order” and a “threat to the future of humanity.”

Mar 25, 2021

Four European Union countries called in China’s ambassadors this week amidst a diplomatic row over sanctions by EU as well as Canada, Britain and the U.S. against China over alleged human rights violations against Uighurs. Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany were responding to retaliatory sanctions by Beijing.

Mar 25, 2021

A Japanese-owned and Panama-registered containership continued to block the Suez Canal today after being blown off-course by strong winds March 23. As at least 150 other vessels waited for for the Ever Given to be freed from the canal banks, Lloyd's estimates each day of blockage disrupts more than US$9 billion in merchandise trade.

Mar 24, 2021

The U.S. and China are in a “superpower marathon” as the latter invests hugely in key technologies, according to the director of the Defence Department’s innovation unit. “It's the challenge of our time,” Michael Brown said March. “It's the national security challenge of our generation and it probably is going to last many, many years.”

Mar 23, 2021

Germany’s plan for a new natural gas pipeline from Russia is seen by the U.S. as a threat to European security. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, planning to broach it during a NATO meeting in Brussels, said today that the project has “the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland, a number of other close partners or allies.”

Mar 23, 2021

The first federal budget in more than two years will be tabled in Parliament April 19 by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. “We will continue to do whatever it takes to support Canadians and Canadian businesses,” she said today in confirming the date. “And we have a plan for jobs and robust growth.”

Mar 23, 2021

The Canada Revenue Agency has been reporting more than 600,000 Canadian bank accounts to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in each of the last two years despite the fact that they fall below the mandatory reporting level of US$50,000. The reporting system is designed to address tax evasion.

Mar 23, 2021

Citing “global political turbulence” that has resulted in new western sanctions, Russia and China have called for a UN Security Council meeting. It was issued by their two foreign affairs ministers after talks in Beijing today.

Mar 23, 2021

Ten persons, including a police officer, died in Boulder, Colorado, March 22 in yet another mass shooting. As was the case six days earlier when eight persons were killed in Atlanta, Georgia, the shooter, who was taken into custody, is believed to have acted alone.

Mar 23, 2021

The Alberta government has introduced draft legislation in an unprecedented move to prevent some violent offenders from legally changing their names. The president of the Canadian Prison Law Association said March 21 that Bill 61 “probably” intrudes on federal criminal law jurisdiction and does not consider individuals’ rehabilitation.

Mar 22, 2021

Canada today joined with Britain, the European Union and the U.S. in imposing sanctions against four-high ranking Chinese officials and one state entity for the country’s treatment of it Uigher population. “These sanctions underscore Canada’s grave concern,” Global Affairs said in a statement. “Mounting evidence points to systemic, state-led human rights violations.”

Mar 22, 2021

As expected, the trial of detained Canadian Michael Kovrig ended today with no verdict after a two-hour closed hearing in Beijing. Fellow detainee Michael Spavor’s March 19 similar trial ended the same way. They were arrested in December 2018 on alleged espionage charges and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau today said Canada remains “deeply troubled by the total lack of transparency.”

Mar 22, 2021

Israel’s fourth general election in two years is essentially a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even though voting ostensibly is done on party lines rather than on individuals. No party has ever won a 61-seat parliamentary majority on its own, necessitating often problematic alliances with hard-liners on both ends of the spectrum.

Mar 22, 2021

Ten years after a Council of Europe accord designed to protect women was agreed to at a meeting in Istanbul, the Turkish government has abandoned the agreement. It is reacting to conservatives’ arguments that the accord’s principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality.

Mar 22, 2021

The Royal Navy will acquire a new ship designed to protect strategically-vulnerable submarine cables which carry most of the world’s communications. With a crew of 15 and expected to enter service in 2024 in British and international waters, the Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship would be “be able to support with other defence tasks, including exercises and operations in the Arctic which will become an increasingly contested area.”

Mar 22, 2021

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is discounting reports that China had banned his companies automobiles from military facilities due to fears that onboard cameras could be used to gather intelligence. “There's a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” he says. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”

Mar 22, 2021

Identification and tracking system of U.S. domestic drones is set to take effect next month and while later than planned, it will require all drones weighing more than 255 grams except those being flown within FAA-designated areas to be equipped with the system. Distributors then will have 18 months to incorporate the technology while operators will have 30 months to install it or replace their drones.

Mar 19, 2021

More than two years after he and another Canadian, Michael Kovrig, were detained in China for alleged espionage, Michael Spavor’s closed-court “trial” today in Dandong lasted only two hours. Spavor and his lawyer appeared for the hearing but other parties, including Canadian consular officials, were not permitted on national security grounds. The court will eventually set a day for issuing a verdict but Chinese courts have a conviction rate of more than 99 per cent. Kovrig’s trial is set for March 21.

Mar 19, 2021

Friends and family of 14 women killed in the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal have accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “abandoning” victims of gun violence with his government's proposed firearms control legislation. They want Bill C-21 rewritten because it does not include a mandatory buyback program for “assault-style” weapons the government prohibited l10 months ago.

Mar 19, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's last overseas trip before COVID-19 erupted was to Africa, include a stop in Ethiopia which has been second only to Afghanistan in terms of Canadian aid. At the time, the PM praised President Abiy Ahmed’s “leadership” and reforms but his Foreign Affairs Minister, Marc Garneau, now is expressing “deep concern regarding credible reports of human rights violations and abuses.”

Mar 19, 2021

The federal government and the Trnsportation Safety Board say that Iran’s report on the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet over Tehran in January 2020 failed to support Iran’s claim that the Boeing 737-800 was shot down by missiles due to human error. “In short, the report says ‘what’ happened but it doesn't answer the ‘why?’,” TSB Chair Kathy Fox told reporters March 18. That essentially echoed criticism by Transport minister Omar Alghabra and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau.

Mar 19, 2021

Federal legislation governing eligibility for medically assisted death, eliminating a requirement for final consent before the procedure, has received Royal Assent. Now anyone who is suffering but not facing imminent death, can apply for medical assistance after assessment and counselling.

Mar 19, 2021

Chinese and U.S. officials meeting March 18 in Alaska exchanged sharp comments in the first high-level talks in front of the cameras but a U.S. official said a subsequent closed-door session had been “substantive, serious and direct.” The U.S. had reiterated criticism of, among other things, China’s treatment of its Muslim Uigher population while China accused the U.S. of inciting countries “to attack China.”

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Mar 19, 2021

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajway, wants his country and India to “bury the past” now that they have a ceasefire agreement in place in a border region the two nuclear powers have squabbled over for decades. However, he says, it was up to India to create a “conducive environment” and said the United States had a role to play in ending regional conflicts.

Mar 19, 2021

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, along with international observers, were in Moscow March 18 for talks aimed at jump-starting stalled peace talks. The one-day meeting was the first of three planned international conference ahead of the current May 1 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.

Mar 19, 2021

Power utilities’ increasing reliance on monitoring and control technologies has meant that the U.S. electricity distribution network has become more vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to the Government Accountability Office. It says that although the Department of Energy is working on a cybersecurity strategy, it has focused more on generation and transmission systems.

Mar 18, 2021

Long-awaited court hearings for the two Canadians detained in China since December 2018 are about to begin. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau confirmed March 17 that Michael Spavor’s trial is set for March 19 while Michael Kovrig’s is set for March 22. Garneau also said Canada has requested permission to attend.

Mar 18, 2021

Responding to U.S. President Joe Biden’s description of him as a “killer” who eventually would “pay a price” for meddling in U.S. elections, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested March 17 that his counterpart should look in a mirror. Putin also recalled his ambassador from Washington for “consultations.”

Mar 18, 2021

An armed Texas man was arrested outside U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris’ official residence in Washington March 17. Evidently detained without incident, he faces a variety of weapons-related charges.

Mar 18, 2021

The U.S. intelligence community says the country faces a substantial internal threat from a range of domestic extremists who could move forward with plans to carry out attacks against fellow citizens or the government. An unclassified assessment released March 17 says the threat is broad-based, involving individuals and small groups who subscribe to violent ideologies and are “galvanized by recent political and societal events.”

Mar 18, 2021

The White House confirmed today that the U.S. plans to send 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Canada. Logistics were still being discussed but the U.S. has tens of millions of doses in storage pending regulatory approval.

Mar 17, 2021

In a long-awaited review of defence, security and foreign policy released March 16, the British government included plans to increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads. The planned increased to no more than 260 would reverse a decision a decade ago to reduce the inventory to 180 from 225 by the mid-2020s.

Mar 17, 2021

British plans to increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads has been condemned by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as “utter hypocrisy”, given British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stated concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. “Unlike the UK and allies, Iran believes nukes . . . are barbaric and must be eradicated,” Zarif wrote.

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