In the News

Aug 03, 2021

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has directed the Justice Department to give Congress former President Donald Trump's tax returns, which have been the focus of an ongoing political tug-of-war that began before he was elected in 2016. The IRS move reverses a 2019 finding that a request from the House Ways and Means Committee was “disingenuous.”

Aug 02, 2021

Zoom Video Communications has agreed to pay $85 million and bolster its security practices to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it violated users' privacy rights by sharing personal data with several social media companies. Subscribers would be eligible for refunds after a judge signs off on the deal.

Aug 02, 2021

New modelling data suggest that Canada is headed towards a fourth wave of COVID-19, the severity of which depends on several factors. ““The updated longer-range forecast . . . suggests that we are at the start of the Delta-driven fourth wave,” says the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. “The trajectory will depend on ongoing increases in fully vaccinated coverage, and the timing, pace and extent of reopening.”

Aug 02, 2021

The financially-struggling Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador is getting federal help. A $5.2-billion package announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau includes $1 billion each in direct investment and loan guarantees with the rest coming in annual transfer payments. The initial cost of the project was $7.4 billion but has ballooned to $13.1 billion.

Aug 02, 2021

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, said July 31 that if South Korea carries out a joint military exercise with the U.S., it will undercut efforts to rebuild relations on the peninsula. “Our government and military will keep a close eye on whether the South Koreans go ahead with the aggressive war exercises,” she said in a televised statement.

Aug 02, 2021

Foreign ministers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are under pressure to appoint a special envoy to Myanmar after months of negotiations failed to find a consensus candidate who could work with the junta that seized power six months ago in an environment of escalating violence. ASEAN, whose 10 members include Myanmar, has been identified by the UN and major players as best positioned to lead a diplomatic effort to restore stability.

Aug 02, 2021

China and Australia are clashing over COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution to Papua New Guinea. China has accused Australia of “sabotage.” In the latest of a series of spats on various issues, China says Australia has tried to denigrate and block use of the Sinopharm vaccine.

Aug 02, 2021

A new Android-based malware uses screen recording to log in and steal sensitive information from devices. Dubbed “Vultur” by Dutch security researchers, the malware was disguised as a protective app distributed through Google.

Aug 02, 2021

In a bid to get more U.S. residents vaccinated against COVID-19, President Joe Biden announced a package of measures, including a requirement that all federal employees and contractors attest to being vaccinated against Covid-19 or face strict protocols. In a bluntly-worded statement, he said unvaccinated individuals “present a problem to yourself, to your family and to those with whom you work.”

Aug 02, 2021

Tighter COVID-19 restrictions have been imposed in countries from Australia to Japan as the Australasia sphere tries to cope with accelerating outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant. Many countries are battling record numbers of cases resulting mainly from hundreds of millions of people who remain unvaccinated.

Aug 02, 2021

Alberta’s plan to lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions is being described by a frontline physician as “a complete slap in the face” which effectively puts the onus on individuals to monitor their own health. Among other things, close contacts do not legally need to isolate and in less than two weeks, isolation requirements will lift even for those who test positive.

Aug 02, 2021

One of Canada’s largest mental health and addictions treatment services, Homewood Health, has admitted that some clients’ data was stolen and offered at auction. The self-described “leaked data marketplace” site Marketo said it had more than 180 gigabytes of the company’s data including documents referencing provincial and national organizations.

Aug 02, 2021

The commander of the U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet says enhancing presence and cultivating partnerships in the Arctic are vital to prevent military conflict in the region. “It will only remain a cooperative area if we continue to build those relationships,” VAdm Andrew “Woody” Lewis said Aug. 1, adding that failure to maintain a U.S. presence could “cede the space to the Russians or somebody else.”

Aug 02, 2021

Canada, the U.S., China, Russia and several other countries plan joint research into fishing in the Arctic. A potential step toward setting international rules, the program would track species and monitor current catch levels which have been increasing as global warming reduces ice coverage.

Aug 02, 2021

The UN High Representative for Bosnia has sparked more ethnic tension by trying to block Serbian denials that the killing of 8,000 Muslims during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina war was a genocide. Valentin Inzko wants to stop glorification of Serb commanders convicted of war crimes but their current political leaders are boycotting efforts to amend the criminal code to accommodate Inzko. “I followed my conscience,” the Austrian diplomat says. “If you're in a country where war criminals are glorified, this cannot be a good future.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58001974

Aug 02, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court has approved emergency requests by Christian and Jewish groups which have challenged COVID-19 crowd restrictions in New York state. Its twin 5-4 rulings are the latest in a series of decisions by the court which effectively backed religious groups chafing under pandemic-related measures.

Jul 31, 2021

In a multi-city action, locked out Hilton Metrotown workers and their supporters across the country urged South Korea’s Ambassador to Canada to intervene in the growing dispute with a Seoul-based hotel owner.  The workers, who have been locked out for over 100 days, called on South Korea’s Ambassador, Keung Ryong Chang, to engage members of the prominent and politically connected family that owns DSDL Co., the owner of Hilton Metrotown.

Jul 30, 2021

Amazon.com has been fined €746 million by the European Union for processing personal data in violation of the bloc’s privacy laws but plans to appeal. While the ruling was only made public today by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection, the decision was taken two weeks ago.

Jul 30, 2021

A Russian district court has fined Google three million rubles (approx. $51,000 CAD) for violating personal data legislation. The company has confirmed the penalty, which is about half the possible maximum fine, but had no further comment. Meanwhile, a Moscow court has begun proceedings against Facebook and Twitter for the same alleged offence.

Jul 30, 2021

A federal government auction of the of 3500 MHz spectrum which is key to the future of 5G networks in Canada has generated $8.9 billion, 80% from Bell, Rogers and Telus, who are already the dominant players in the market. Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne says the result should be greater competition in a market which has some of the highest mobile costs in the world.

Jul 30, 2021

A crowdfunded attempt to block the rollout of 5G mobile technology in Britain has been blocked by a judge. The group behind the case, who say the equipment emits harmful radiation, had raised more than £160,000, says it will continue to press for a judicial review despite this latest setback.

Jul 30, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed five new Senators, who will sit as independents rather that as Liberals. Three are from Quebec and one each from Saskatchewan and Alberta, leaving 10 vacancies in the 105-seat Red Chamber.

Jul 30, 2021

Days after confirming that Canada Border Services Agency employees had voted in favour of strike action as early as Aug. 6, their unions resumed contract talks July 29 with Treasury Board. “The government is clearly concerned about . . . the possibility of major disruptions at the border,” said Public Service Alliance of Canada President Chris Aylward. “They need to bring a new mandate to address major workplace issues.”

Jul 30, 2021

Afghan interpreters and others who helped the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Afghanistan “absolutely have the right to come to Canada,” says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, but bureaucratic issues evidently persist. She was responding to criticism that the system proposed effectively made it difficult for prospective refugees, notably a 72-hour window for submitting paperwork, but the government now says that was a mistake and no applications would be rejected.

Jul 30, 2021

The first flight evacuating Afghans who worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan arrived early today at Dulles International Airport near Washington. Fleeing Taliban reprisals, the 221 evacuees included 57 children and 15 infants. President Joe Biden called the flight “an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years.”

Jul 29, 2021

British PM Boris Johnson is trying to rejoin an international treaty which also involves the European Union. The Lugano Convention essentially establishes the jurisdiction of national courts as they deal with cross-border disputes. While some non-EU states have agreed to readmit Britain in the post-Brexit era, the European Commission has recommended that it be denied.

Jul 30, 2021

A former Saudi spy chief living in exile in Toronto is asking a Canadian court to throw out an embezzlement lawsuit against him, arguing not only are the allegations unfounded but that the evidence on which they rely was gleaned from human-rights abuses and, likely, torture.

Jul 29, 2021

An access-to information request for a week’s worth of emails, texts and other messages by the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada evidently could take at least five years to fulfill. This is according to an anonymous Ontario government employee seeking clarification about the circumstances which led to the dismissal of two scientists.

Jul 29, 2021

Accused by the Prime Minister of failing to meet legal obligations to provide access to abortion services, New Brunswick has had its federal health care transfer payments reduced. The PM initially said millions of dollars was being withheld but an official in his office then said the amount was $140,216. The province only funds procedures performed at three hospitals.

Jul 28, 2021

Eleven weeks after it eased restrictions on fully-vaccinated persons indoors, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said July 27 that a resurgence in COVID-19 cases should require indoor masking again. The reversal reflects growing concern about the aggressive Delta variant.

Jul 28, 2021

In what’s seen as an attempt to restore relations generally, North and South Korea are reportedly considering reopening a liaison office that the North demolished last year. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un evidently have been corresponding since April.

Jul 28, 2021

A Toronto man has been charged with contempt of court in Alberta for posting photographs of a judge who had convicted four COVID-19 anti-maskers for repeatedly breaching public health restrictions and judicial orders. Donald Smith, a pandemic-denying supporter of a Calgary mayoral candidate admitted July 27 that he had photographed the judges as well as an Alberta Health Services lawyer.

Jul 27, 2021

A wildfire in central Kenya which razed some 12,000 acres of a private conservancy is causing legal problems for the British Army. The “official” cause of the fire remains under investigation but nearly 1,000 local residents and a lobby group have filed a lawsuit against the Army, which has used the land for training for more than a decade.

Jul 27, 2021

A woman with dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship who is believed to have been involved with the Islamic State is being permitted to return to New Zealand with her two children after Australia refused to take her back. She had left for Syria on an Australian passport in 2014 and was caught entering Turkey from Syria with her children. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the decision was not “taken lightly” and she accused the Australian government of “abdicating its responsibilities.”

Jul 27, 2021

Six decades after members of a First Nation in northwestern Ontario were first diagnosed with mercury poisoning attributed to pollution from a now defunct papermill, the federal government has agreed to pay $68.9 million toward a new residence for victims still experiencing neurological and other damage. New research indicates that more than 90 per cent of the Grassy Narrows population of some 1,500 have been affected.

Jul 27, 2021

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of attacks that "apparently amount to war crimes" during an 11-day war in May against Hamas militants in Gaza. The accusation July 26 flows from an investigation of three air strikes that it says killed 62 Palestinian civilians. It also accuses the militants of apparent war crimes for launching more that 4,000 unguided munitions against Israeli communities.

Jul 27, 2021

The Taliban have taken control of more territory in Afghanistan in the last two months than at any time since they were ousted from power 20 years ago. Emboldened in recent weeks by the ongoing withdrawal of western forces, they now have a strong presence n many regions and are closing in on major cities.

Jul 27, 2021

The U.S. government is trying to keep secret the employment details of a State Department agent who killed a teenager in a 2019 head-on collision in Britain. Anne Sacoolas, who has not disputed that she was driving on the wrong side of the road, returned to the U.S. under diplomatic immunity and her government has been trying to suppress her professional details on “national security” grounds. The teenager’s parents have filed a civil wrongful death suit in Virginia.

Jul 27, 2021

More than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency employees have voted in favour of strike action, which could begin as early as Aug. 6, two days before the border is reopened to fully vaccinated U.S. residents. The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union acknowledged today that while many staff could be deemed essential, a strike could impact commercial traffic.

Jul 26, 2021

Mary Simon, an Inuk from northern Quebec, was sworn in as Canada’s 30th Governor General, the first indigenous vice-regal appointee. In a ceremony held in the Senate chamber, she pledged to use her role to work against climate change, advocate for mental health and work toward reconciliation. “I have heard from Canadians who describe a renewed sense of possibility for our country and hope that I can bring people together," she said.

Jul 26, 2021

There is a significant disparity between the number of money-laundering complaints reported by Ottawa banks to federal authorities in the past 10 years and the number of persons charged: more than 10,000 versus 20. The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada concedes there has been a jump in the number of monthly complaints in the last two years but says it could be due to increased vigilance rather than an increase in criminal activity.

Jul 26, 2021

Newly-accessed documents show that the growing nationalist movement in Canada a half-century ago was closely monitored by the RCMP Security Service. The Committee for an Independent Canada, founded in 1970 to promote economic and cultural independence, was among the targets seen as ripe for “exploitation or manipulation” by radicals.

Jul 26, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has begun preparing the most comprehensive assessment on the state of global warming since 2013, meeting virtually this week and next to review their findings with representatives of 195 governments. Their work is expected to be a key element of the 27th UN climate conference scheduled for November in Scotland.

Jul 26, 2021

About 100 firefighters from Mexico have joined their British Columbia counterparts and elements of the Canadian Armed Forces in a concerted effort to contain 259 forest fires burning mainly in the province’s southern interior. A spokesperson for B.C. Wildfire Services says continued outbreaks suggest that “we are looking to definitely break some records this year.”

Jul 26, 2021

The Speaker of the House of Commons says a government attempt to shield documents related to the firing of two scientists is a violation of parliamentary privilege. In a notice of motion filed in Federal Court, Anthony Rota, a Liberal MP, says the House has the power to send for any “persons, papers and records” it deems necessary. “This constitutionally entrenched power is fundamental to our system of parliamentary democracy, and to Parliament's critical role in acting as the ‘grand inquest of the nation’ and in holding the executive branch of government to account.”

Jul 26, 2021

Up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet “unexpected urgent” needs of Afghan refugees, including special immigration visas, was approved July 23 by U.S. President Joe Biden. He also has authorized the release of $200 million in services and articles from government agencies’ inventories as the U.S. prepares to prevent thousands of Afghan allies and their families from being captured and potentially executed by the Taliban.

Jul 26, 2021

The U.S. land border will remain closed to most Canadians until at least Aug. 22, some two weeks after Canada plans to open up to fully-vaccinated entrants from the U.S. The head of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre says the staggered opening is a wise because southbound travel is risky due to lower vaccine uptake in the U.S.

Jul 26, 2021

New Zealand is preventing quarantined visitors from Australia as that country struggles with COVID-18 outbreaks in several states. “Given the high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do,” says Chris Hipkins, the minister overseeing New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.

Jul 26, 2021

During months of unending turmoil after their April coup d'état, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 900 people, including shooting protesters and detaining thousands. An already fragile health care system has collapsed and now physicians and other health care providers have become targets.

Jul 26, 2021

A World Health Organization plan for additional research into the origins of COVID-19 has been rebuffed by the Chinese government. Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, said he was “taken aback” by a proposal for further investigation of the theory that the virus might have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.

Jul 26, 2021

Having initially supported a planned liquified natural gas facility in the Saguenay region north of Quebec City, the provincial government has done an about-face in response to public opposition. The $14-billion project would have carried Western Canadian gas across the province for shipment to export markets.

Jul 26, 2021

Iran has opened its first oil terminal in the Gulf of Oman, enabling it to avoid the Strait of Hormuz, which has become a chokepoint for shipping. a move that will allow it to avoid using the Strait of Hormuz shipping route that has been a focus of regional tension for decades. “This is a strategic move and an important step for Iran,” outgoing President Hassan Rouhani Rouhani said in a televised speech. “It will secure the continuation of our oil exports.”

Jul 26, 2021

The global automobile industry is being called on to address alleged human rights abuses in its aluminum supply chains. A Human Rights Watch researcher says the metal “is really a blind spot for the car industry” due to mining practices and their impact on its workers and the environment.

Jul 25, 2021

David Cohen, a lawyer and lobbyist who once was chief of staff to the mayor of Philadelphia, has been nominated by President Joe Biden as the next Ambassador to Canada. “Senate confirmation can't come soon enough,” says Scotty Greenwood, president and CEO of the Washington-based Canadian American Business Council. “The need to return to a well-coordinated reciprocal border management process is more acute than ever.”

Jul 22, 2021

The government announced today that “special immigration measures” to rescue Afghans who helped during Canada’s combat mission as well as those still assisting diplomatic staff even as the Taliban continue to gain ground. “Lives hang in the balance,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Marco Mendocino said in a news conference with Defence Minister Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau, explaining that the initiative is not limited to interpreters. “Canada will do right by those who did right by us.”

Jul 22, 2021

The U.S. says it has an agreement with Germany which would prevent Russia from using its Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as political leverage. The line under the Baltic, which will double gas exports to Germany, has been criticized by several Eastern European governments concerned about security, but the agreement evidently provides for retaliatory sanctions if the line is used for leverage.

Jul 22, 2021

CSIS Director David Vigneault has warned of foreign influence operations. Canada's spy agency says state actors may attempt to blackmail voters and pressure politicians to influence the outcome of the next election. The warning is contained in a special report on foreign interference threats, which charts some of the tactics the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has observed over the years.

Jul 22, 2021

One woman found dead, 3 missing, and at least 5 houses destroyed after rain triggered flooding and mudslides in northern Colorado. Heavy rains created a debris dam that burst, causing flash flooding and mudslides.

Jul 22, 2021

The Romanian-based Bitdefender cybersecurity company says it has uncovered a new form of malware which installs through online advertising and targets devices using Microsoft Windows software. It says MosaicLoader is used to steal passwords, install cryptocurrency miners, and deliver additional trojan malware.

Jul 21, 2021

This week’s transfer of a Moroccan to his homeland from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, has reopened discussion on the future of the remaining 59 long-term detainees and the facility’s future. It was the first transfer by President Joe Biden’s administration and legal experts say a total shutdown is going to take time because of the slow military commissions processing procedures.

Jul 21, 2021

Responding to a ransomware attack on a Texas pipeline company in May, the Transportation Security Administration today directed owners and operators of critical facilities to take specific measures to protect their operations and to have recovery plans in place. Blamed on Russia-based cyber criminals, the attack resulted in gasoline shortages in several states.

Jul 21, 2021

Canada Border Services Agency employees could go on strike next month just as the Canadian border is reopened to fully-vaccinated U.S. visitors. More than 8,500 employees, without a contract since June 2018, are voting this week. A union official said July 20 that the key issues are wage parity, better protection against harassment and discrimination, and a remote work policy for non-uniformed members.

Jul 21, 2021

The British government has dropped COVID-19 restrictions in most of the country despite a surge in infections, mainly the more aggressive Delta variant. England is opening up fastest but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which manage their own health care systems, are taking a slower approach.

Jul 21, 2021

The French government announced plans for a health passport as new COVID-19 cases surged and most institutions required proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus as well as a negative test for entry. Surveys suggest there is widespread vaccine hesitancy and there have been demonstrations this week against restrictions.

Jul 21, 2021

Half of the Australian population is under new COVID-10 lockdowns as the government tries to cope with new outbreaks. Fewer than 14 per cent of the population have been vaccinated, the lowest rate among industrialized countries, as the country relied on early quarantine measures and border closures.

Jul 21, 2021

A British report states that online activity by right-wing extremists in Canada increased last year despite efforts by governments and social media companies to curb extremism and hate speech. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue also found that Canadian extremists are influenced by their increasingly violent U.S. counterparts.

Jul 21, 2021

Mark Carney, who governed the Bank of Canada before taking on the same role at the Bank of England, has said he will not be a Liberal candidate in a federal election rumoured for this fall. He had been considered a likely contender in an Ottawa seat but said July 20 that he is committed to tackling climate change as the UN special envoy on climate and finance.

Jul 21, 2021

A Toronto-based think tank, the C.D. Howe Institute, says that at least 70 per cent of automobiles would have to be electrically-powered by 2030 if the federal government is to achieve its zero-emissions goal by 2030. So-called “zero emission” vehicles comprised 3.5 per cent of total vehicle sales in Canada last year.

Jul 21, 2021

Companies which trade in cryptocurrencies are the target of a draft European Union law which would require them to collect information on the sender and recipients of Bitcoins and other instruments. The European Commission says the law would help to address money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Jul 21, 2021

Allegations that software developed by an Israeli company has been used in a series of international cyber attacks are being investigated by an interdepartmental government team led by the National Security Council. Investigation was prompted by complaints from several countries that the Pegagus software had been used for illegal activities.

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