In the News

May 28, 2020

Two days after the US recorded its first case of COVID-19, President Donald Trump said the situation was “totally under control.” Four months later, with the corona virus affecting all 50 states, the official death toll has surpassed 100,000, the highest national total in the world as Trump continues to press for easement of state and municipal lockdowns.

May 27, 2020

The U.S. Congress has been advised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Hong Kong is no longer considered autonomous from China. “Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure,” he said in a statement 27 May. “Sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modelling Hong Kong after itself.”

May 27, 2020

The B.C. Supreme Court has ordered that extradition proceedings can proceed against Huawei executive Meng Wahnzhou, under house arrest in Vancouver since she was detained in December 2018 at the request of the U.S., which alleges financial fraud and violation of sanctions against Iran. Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said in the 27 May ruling that the offence Meng is accused of would have been a crime if it occurred in Canada. A day earlier, a spokesman for the Chinese government, which has been detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation, accused Canada and the U.S. of having “abused their bilateral extradition treaty.”

May 27, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to help civil authorities with long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 crisis have confirmed conditions in facilities which critics say have been known for some time. A CAF report states that personnel found that equipment was used on both infected and non-infected patients without being disinfected, and that a disregard for basic cleanliness had resulted in insect infestation and rotten food.

May 27, 2020

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security within the Communication Security Establishment is warning that some “authoritarian governments” likely are looking to exploit surveillance technologies in Canada by promising to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

May 27, 2020

Frontline medical staff wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic say more than a third of Canadians have been unable to receive treatment for other problems, including scheduled surgeries, because of government-imposed lockdowns. This, among other findings, are outlined in the results of a new Angus Reid poll published 27 May.

May 27, 2020

The U.S. public is being asked to comment on the White House’s strategy for controlling the evolution of fifth-generational telecommunications networks. The administration and the Department of Defense are pushing for the removal of what they see as “foreign adversaries” from the 5G supply chain, notably China’s Huawei telecom giant.

May 26, 2020

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the multinational Open Skies Treaty could a pose a strategic challenge for Canada, according to Rob Huebert, who teaches political science at the University of Calgary. He says Canada can either stick to its long-standing policy of supporting such agreements or risk looking “like a toady” by following Trump’s lead.

May 26, 2020

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the fact that large-scale public protests are banned due to COVID-19 concerns means it is a “great time” to move ahead with construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline to B.C. She says people need work and that “ideological protests” would not be tolerated.

May 26, 2020

The first of five Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline arrived safely in Venezuela over the weekend with the others expected this week. The U.S. had signalled its displeasure and both countries breaching sanctions but there were no signs of interference with the initial traffic.

May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a possible answer to COVID-19. The decision follows publication in The Lancet journal of data indicating that the anti-malarial could increase the risk of death in some patients. U.S. President Donald, who used hydroxychloroquine for two weeks, had repeatedly promoted it.

May 26, 2020

Douglas Ross, who has been the junior minister for Scotland in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has resigned over a COVID-19 controversy. A senior member of the PM’s staff has defended his decision to ignore the government’s own advice on self-isolation, an attitude Ross says was “not shared by the vast majority of people.”

May 26, 2020

The prospect of having to deal with an estimated 900,000 pieces of debris in low-earth orbit when planning future space missions has prompted the UK Space Agency to set aside £1 million for research grants on how to sense and track objects which could be a threat.

May 25, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the need to trace contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases is “strongly” recommended as part of a national containment effort and it has more than 5,000 personnel trained for the task. “After we've confirmed and isolated new cases, we have to get in touch with everyone who may have been exposed to the virus and make sure they take measures to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms or get tested,” he said.

May 25, 2020

Russian hackers are suspected of spreading COVID-19 pandemic disinformation about the Canadian-led NATO battle group in Latvia. “Definitely not true,” the task force commander, Col Eric Laforest, says of recent reports in some Baltic and Eastern European media that there was “a high number” of cases among the CAF at Camp Adazi near the capital city Riga.

May 25, 2020

The Venezuelan military says it is preparing to protect five tankers expected to deliver Iranian gasoline despite U.S. sanctions on both countries. The minister of defence, Gen Vladimir Padrino López, says the tankers will be “welcomed” into Venezuela’s 370-kilometre offshore economic management zone.

May 25, 2020

Some 400 Winnipeg-based employees of Boeing are to be laid off due to the impact of COVID-19 on the manufacturer's global supply chain. The workers were told May 22 about the plan, which is part of a company-wide response to the pandemic and affects mainly the production of parts for Boeing commercial aircraft.

May 25, 2020

The trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges began with a brief court appearance 25 May but was adjourned to 19 July, giving his legal team more time to prepare the 70-year-old politician’s defence. The first Israeli leader to face trial while in office, he has denied accusations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

May 24, 2020

More than 1,000 residents of the Porters Lake area just east of Halifax were being evacuated due to a brush fire that was not yet under control by nightfall on Saturday. Three choppers and approximately 100 firefighters had been deployed to the scene by Halifax Fire Services.

May 22, 2020

Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, says China will firmly defend its interests “if the U.S. insists on a Cold War thinking, and carries out strategies to contain China.” Meeting with reporters in Beijing ahead of the upcoming parliamentary session, he said his country “never flinches when trouble comes its way.”

May 22, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the likelihood of Canadians having to self-isolate during a second COVID-19 wave will depend on increased testing capacity, faster contact tracing, and heeding advice from public health authorities.

May 22, 2020

There has been a significant jump in the number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 while working in long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec. As of 21 May, 28 service members have tested positive compared with only five the previous week.

Pentagon reverses COVID-19 policy
May 22, 2020

A Department of Defense directive that would have permanently blocked recruitment of any person who had tested positive for COVID-19 has been reversed by Matthew Donovan, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Recruitment of affected persons will remain suspended until they test negative for the coronavirus.

May 22, 2020

Indications that China is about to impose a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong are alarming residents of the former British colony. Officials have said that the new law would criminalize “foreign interference” and curb political dissent of the kind that erupted in violence last year.

May 22, 2020

As Russia struggles to contain COVID-19, which is claiming a growing number of victims, the U.S. Air Force has delivered a load of medical aid, including ventilators. Meanwhile, Moscow says expanded testing is the reason for a recent jump in confirmed cases.

May 22, 2020

The U.S. administration has been pressing the United Nations and France for the leading role in the French-led UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. President Donald Trump’s administration has questioned the value and utility of the peacekeeping effort for more than three years and its push for leadership is seen as a prelude to a gradual reduction.

May 22, 2020

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy, visited Kabul earlier this week in a bid to reboot power-sharing talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Among other things, in a climate of escalating violence blamed on Daesh militants, he said too much time has been wasted in getting the two sides together.

May 22, 2020

John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican nominated by President Donald Trump as Director National Security, has been confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. He had been put forward last year but withdrew when some members of his own party questioned his suitability. Most Democrats oppose Ratcliffe, making him the first DNI not to have broad bipartisan support.

May 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the shortcomings of Canada’s economy, particularly supply chains and development of value-added products, according to Dan Breznitz, co-director of the innovation policy lab at the University of Toronto. Expecting global raw commodities trade to decline as the pandemic makes it more difficult to move people and goods, he warns that resource-based industries “will have a problem just selling wood and unprocessed oil.”

May 21, 2020

In its annual report to Parliament 20 May, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says that some foreign investment carries with it security risks, but the agency is not specific about which foreign interests are a concern. “Economic espionage activities in Canada continue to increase in breadth, depth and potential economic impact,” it says. “As difficult as it is to measure, this damage to our collective prosperity is very real.”

May 21, 2020

Scott Jones, head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security within the Communications Security Establishment, says possible security breaches at Canadian organizations doing COVID-19-related research are being investigated. “We've seen some compromises in research organizations that we've been helping to mitigate and we're still continuing to look through what's the root cause,” he told a House of Commons committee 20 May.

May 21, 2020

In stark contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump, who refuses to wear a mask against COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to wear one when he can’t maintain social-distancing in public. Calling it a “personal choice” in line with experts’ advice, he says keeping socially distant, staying home when sick, and washing hands remain “the best thing” for Canadians to keep doing to curb the virus’ spread.

May 21, 2020

All Canadians are now being urged to wear non-medical face masks or other face coverings if they are unable to maintain social-distancing. Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Medical Officer of Health, had previously avoided the recommendation but subsequent data indicate that it would be appropriate. “If you can’t predict whether you can maintain that two-metre distance, then it’s recommended that you wear the non-medical mask or facial covering,” she says.

May 21, 2020

A 17-year-old Toronto male is the first Canadian to be charged with a terrorism offence after a 2018 murder evidently resulting from his involvement in the online “incel” community of individuals who deem themselves “involuntarily celibate” because they are unable to have romantic or sexual partners. “Terrorism comes in many forms and it's important to note that it is not restricted to any particular group, religion or ideology," the RCMP explained.

May 20, 2020

Canada and the U.S. have agreed to keep their border closed to non-essential travel for at least another month, until 21 June. Confirming the decision, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it the “right thing” to do as long as COVID-19 persists and despite provincial and state governments relaxing lockdowns. The agreement does not apply to the flow of trade and commerce as well as healthcare workers who live and work on each side of the border.

May 20, 2020

The fact that the U.S. has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 fatalities in the world, 92,000 at last count, has been portrayed by President Donald Trump as some kind of “badge of honour.” “You know when you say that we lead in cases, tthat's because we have more testing than anybody else,” he told reporters. “When when we have a lot of cases, I don't look at that as a bad thing; I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. So I view it as a badge of honor” and a tribute to “all of the work that a lot of professionals have done."

May 19, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 19 May that his government would “continue to support” the World Health Organization even if U.S. President Donald Trump makes good on a threat to stop funding the agency. Trump says the WHO has shown an "alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China” in tackling COVID-19. Trudeau acknowledged that “no global institution is perfect” but “we will continue to support the WHO even as we look for improvements.”

May 19, 2020

The X-37B space plane developed by Boeing for the U.S. Air Force was launched on its sixth mission 17 May. Its mostly military missions are generally classified, but the USAF has disclosed that its experiments this time includes microwave delivery of solar power to the Earth’s surface and a test of how seeds used for food products are affected by radiation and the zero-gravity environment.

May 19, 2020

Having already frozen U.S. support for the World Health Organization, President Donald Trump now is threatening to halt it altogether. In letter to the WHO, which Trump posted on his Twitter account, he said that unless the WHO commits to improvements in its pandemic response within 30 days, “I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership.”

 

May 19, 2020

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization since 2017, has promised an independent evaluation of the global COVID-19 response “at the earliest appropriate moment” with a view to future pandemics. “We all have lessons to learn,” he said. “Every country and every organization must examine its response and learn from its experience.”

May 19, 2020

The Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University has received Health Canada approval for the first domestic clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. In announcing the development, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the National Research Council will work with the Italian developer to ensure Canadian production if the trial succeeds.

May 19, 2020

Albert Premier Jason Kenney’s warning last week that China faced a “great reckoning” for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis has drawn a sharp rebuttal from the Chinese consulate in Calgary. Accusing Kenney of “slander and stigma”, the consulate says that “a large body of facts and data suggest that China did not play down, obfuscate or cover up the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus when it emerged.”

May 19, 2020

Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has opted to keep his U.S. citizenship despite promising last year to renounce it. He said during a televised interview that once he had decided to step down, knowing “that I won’t be prime minister,” he stopped the renunciation process.

May 19, 2020

The 10 most commonly exploited security vulnerabilities have been listed by the U.S. intelligence community, including some which date to 2016. The newest vulnerabilities target remote workers using virtual private networks and cloud collaboration. “Foreign cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known—and often dated—software vulnerabilities,” the agencies say.

May 19, 2020

State Department Inspector General Steve Linik has been dismissed. President Donald Trump explained only that Linik no longer had the administration’s confidence but a senior Democrat says Linik had begun an investigation into the White House’s use of an emergency declaration to facilitate arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Linik’s counterpart in the intelligence community was fired by the administration last month.

May 19, 2020

Less than a month on the job, Brazil’s new health minister has resigned over differences in how the government is handling COVID-19. Nelson Teich had replaced Nelson Mandetta, who was fired by President Jair Bolsonaro; like his predecessor, he fell afoul of their leader’s insistence on downplaying the threat.

May 19, 2020

European and British negotiators have made no evident progress in their trade negotiations because the EU is pressing for an all-in approach while the UK prefers “mini deals” underpinned by a broad free trade accord. Each side now is calling on the other to change its approach.

May 19, 2020

The Department of Commerce has moved to ban prohibit semiconductor manufacturers which use U.S. chip design and technology from exporting to Huawei without specific permission on a “case by case” basis. The new rule comes a year after the Chinese tech giant, which the U.S. considers a security threat, from having access to U.S. semiconductors.

May 19, 2020

A piece of kit on the RCAF wish list for years suddenly became a priority for the government as it tried to tackle a rapidly rising incidence of COVID-19. Within an uncharacteristically short time for procurements, it was able to acquire a “biocontainment aeromedical evacuation system” developed in the U.S. for transporting highly-contagious patients in its Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transports.

May 19, 2020

The global COVID-19 campaign is often compared with military warfare and two partners in the Washington-based McKinsey Global Institute say the analogy can be useful in trying to come to grips with the pandemic’s consequences. “The economic cycle in which we suddenly find ourselves . . . resembles the fully immersed experience of a mass mobilization, wartime economy,” they write. “While some European countries and parts of the United States are now starting to loosen lockdown measures, the duration of this ‘war’ . . . and its depth will be dictated by how much and how effectively we mobilize.”

May 15, 2020

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment have warned in a joint statement that health authorities’ research into COVID-19 faces an “elevated level of risk” from hackers and other external threats.

May 15, 2020

Some 71 per cent of Canadians evidently believe that it is premature to relax curbs on their personal activities even if there are indications the COVID-19 pandemic may be easing. This is according to the results of a new Angus Reid poll which also indicates that 67 per cent of respondents feel that a full return to normal life is at least six months away.

May 15, 2020

A suggestion by Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson that the U.S. should have COVID-19 priority “because it’s invested in taking the risk” of developing a vaccine has been walked back by the French pharmaceutical giant. “There will be no there will be no particular advance for any country,” Sanofi Chairman Serge Weinberg said on French TV.

May 15, 2020

Roberto Azevedo, the Brazilian diplomat who has been Director General of the World Trade Organization since September 2013, announced 14 May that he is quitting a year early. His departure comes as the WTO deals with COVID-19 fallout and repeated attacks by U.S. President Donald Trump. “The WTO may not be perfect, but it is indispensable,” Azevedo said. “It is what keeps us from a world where the law of the jungle prevails, at least as far as trade is concerned.”

May 15, 2020

Boasting that the U.S. has “the best testing in the world” for COVID-19, President Donald Trump has suggested, in response to calls for a more aggressive approach, has suggested 14 May that “maybe it is overrated.” He also inferred that nothing his administration can do to accelerate testing would satisfy his critics.

May 15, 2020

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says China faces a “great reckoning” for its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. He said this should involve repatriating manufacturing to Canada -- in much the same way President Donald Trump has lamented the decline in North American manufacturing capacity.

May 15, 2020

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and political rival Benny Gantz had to postpone the swearing-in of their partnership’s new government 14 May as Netanyahu focused on suppressing infighting within his own party over cabinet posts.

May 14, 2020

More than 85,000 people from across Canada have joined Democracy Watch in calling on all federal parties to work together to provide oversight on Big Banks with the intent to roll back “excessive profit” levels – both now and after the coronavirus crisis.

May 14, 2020

A new Israeli unity government has been sworn in with Benjamin Netanyahu returning for a fifth stint as Prime Minister and arch-rival rival Benny Gantz as his deputy. The deal ended a long-standing political deadlock but the new government is pressing on with an internationally condemned but U.S.-backed plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank.

May 14, 2020

A suggestion by the CEO of the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi that the U.S. has a right to the largest pre-order of COVID-19 vaccine “because it's invested in taking the risk” isn’t sitting well with the French government. Deputy Finance Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher says “it would be unacceptable for there to be privileged access to such and such a country for financial reasons.”

May 14, 2020

A sharp drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases has prompted the Japanese government to lift a state of emergency in 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures. However, the order remains in effect for Tokyo, Hokkaido and the northern island of Hokkaido where new cases continue to be reported.

May 14, 2020

A warning by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that it is too soon to ease some pandemic lockdowns, notably schools, has been called unacceptable by President Donald Trump.

May 14, 2020

In testimony prepared for a House of Representatives subcommittee, Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright says he fears the pandemic “will get far worse” and cause “unprecedented illness and fatalities.” He says that without a more coordinated national approach to COVID-19, the country faces the “darkest winter in modern history.”

May 14, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an official visit to Israel that the U.S. ally should not permit further Chinese involvement in its economy, even if that means cancelling projects already planned. 

May 14, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security say U.S. COVID-19 researchers have been targeted by Chinese hackers. The two agencies say hackers have been “observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data.”

May 13, 2020

Health Canada has authorized the first serological test to detect COVID-19 antibodies for use in Canada. 

May 13, 2020

Canadians’ opinion of China evidently has plummeted as COVID-19 continues to ravage the economy, according to the results of a new Angus Reid poll. Only 14 per cent of respondents now have a positive opinion compared with 29 per cent six months ago. Some 85 per cent say Beijing has not be honest enough about its internal handing of the pandemic and almost as many feel that Huawei should be banned from Canada’s 5G telecom plans.

May 13, 2020

President Donald Trump’s persistent suggestions, echoed by other western politicians, that the COVID-19 pandemic was deliberately or accidentally cause by China has prompted Beijing to mount an unprecedented diplomatic offensive. Its embassies and missions around the world have employed social media to fire barrages of rebuttals and counter-claims.

May 13, 2020

Maria Roat, A U.S. Navy veteran who spent five years in the private sector followed by stints in various federal agencies, has been named the next Deputy Chief Information Officer in Washington’s central information technology policy office, housed within the Office of Management and Budget.

May 12, 2020

With the current ban on non-essential travel set to expire on 21 May, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada and the U.S. are in discussions over what an easing of restrictions might entail. Acknowledging widespread concern over a reopened border, she asserts that Canada will adhere to "the same prudent and sensible approach" that has guided the country throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.

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