In the News

May 04, 2020

Even as President Donald Trump continues to press state governments to ease their COVID-19 lockdowns, the Federal Emergency Management Agency projects a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths at month’s end. Obtained by The New York Times, the forecast is based on modelling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

May 04, 2020

With COVID-19 rampant in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, who had already dismissed the pandemic as a “little flu”, continues to show little evident concern. “So what?” was the former army captain’s reply to growing fears, saying that his country should “face the virus like a man, damn it, not like a little boy.”

May 04, 2020

In a bid to become a world leader in hydrogen exports, Australia has committed A$300 million to foster development of a “cleaner” alternative to natural gas. The new funding is part of a national hydrogen strategy unveiled last year.

May 04, 2020

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette has been given 150 days by President Donald Trump to come up with multi-agency rules which would prohibit the procurement of foreign technology that the administration fears would leave the electricity grid vulnerable to cyberattacks. “The bulk-power system is a target of those seeking to commit malicious acts,” Trump said in signing an executive order.

May 04, 2020

The economic impact of COVID-19 in the U.S. evidently is forcing the federal government to assess the affordability of a range of initiatives. The Pentagon had already been expecting relatively flat budgets for the next few years but an explosion of spending on virus relief efforts could cause an implosion in defence spending and a revision of national security priorities.

May 04, 2020

Canada's airline industry, hit hard by the virtual disappearance of passenger traffic due to COVID-19 travel restrictions is pressing the federal government for financial support. The National Airlines Council of Canada says carriers are “burning through cash” and facing insurmountable debt.

May 04, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of a crackdown on civilian ownership of so-called assault rifles and the prospect of a similar handgun ban has drawn a sharp response from Ontario Premier Doug Ford. He has suggested that the hundreds of millions of dollars the ban is estimated to cost would be better spent on counter-smuggling efforts coupled with stiffer penalties.

May 01, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the U.S. government's COVID-19 task force, is being prevented from  testifying before the House of Representatives. Saying it would be “counter-productive” to the administration's response to the pandemic, a White House spokesman would only say that the administration is working with Congress “to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”

May 01, 2020

Effective immediately, the sale, transport, importation and use of some 1,500 types of “assault style” firearms are now prohibited in Canada. There will be a two-year amnesty for current owners to comply with the prohibition, and Prime Minister Trudeau says that “fair compensation” will be forthcoming.

May 01, 2020

Results of a national poll published 01 May by the Angus Reid Institute indicate 78 percent public support for a crackdown on private ownership of so-called assault rifles. 

May 01, 2020

Canadian epidemiologist Bruce Aylward has been summoned by the House of Commons health Committee to testify by videolink about the World Health Organization’s handling of COVID-19. Opposition health critic Matt Jeneroux says Dr. Aylward, who led a WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, could provide insight into WHO decision-making.

May 01, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested that he has seen evidence that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory even though senior officials say the virus “was not manmade or genetically modified,” Asked 30 April whether he had “a high degree of confidence” about his repeated claim, Trump replied that he had. Asked for clarification, he said he was “not allowed to tell.”

May 01, 2020

U.S. National Institutes of Health support for research on zoonotic transmission of coronaviruses to humans from bats has been abruptly cancelled, alarming and angering researchers. The NIH cut its grant apparently in response to unfounded suggestions by President Donald Trump and other conservative politicians and news media that COVID-19 had originated in a Chinese laboratory which employed a virologist who had been receiving NIH funding.

May 01, 2020

Canadian epidemiologist Bruce Aylward has been summoned by the House of Commons health Committee to testify by videolink about the World Health Organization’s handling of COVID-19. Opposition health critic Matt Jeneroux says Dr. Aylward, who led a WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, could offer insight into WHO decision-making.

May 01, 2020

Tiff Macklem, a former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, has been appointed to succeed Governor Stephen Poloz, who announced last December that he would not seek a second seven-year term. Macklem left the central bank in 2014 to become Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Apr 30, 2020

The economic fallout from COVID-19, coupled with U.S. President Donald Trump’s antipathy toward the World Trade Organization skepticism and generally growing global tensions and protectionism, are seen as a threat to rules-based international trade. Some countries are limiting food exports and Canada is leading a WTO push to maintain free trade in that sector.

Apr 30, 2020

The U.S. wants other countries to deny overflight rights to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline under U.S. sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the carrier recently delivered multiple cargos of “unknown support” to Venezuela, another regime opposed by Washington. An official in Caracas said the cargos were oil refinery equipment.

Apr 30, 2020

The RCAF Snowbirds demonstration team will begin a cross-country tour this weekend in Nova Scotia in a bid to boost Canadians’ morale as they deal with COVID-19. Other schedule details were still being worked out 29 April when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the project. Having paused training in March because of the virus outbreak, the nine-aircraft squadron based in Saskatchewan had been set to begin its regular season in June.

Apr 30, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump says China “will do anything they can” to ensure he is not re-elected in November. Stepping up his criticism of Beijing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he said China faces a “lot” of possible pandemic-related consequences. A Chinese government spokesman says the election is an internal U.S. issue and has called on US politicians to stop scapegoating it for domestic political gain.

Apr 30, 2020

Having been put on hold by COVID-19, the race to replace Andrew Scheer as Conservative Party leader is back on track. The vote will be entirely by mail and organizers want ballots received by 21 Aug. There are four candidates, including former Defence Minister Peter MacKay, former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole, rookie Ontario MP Derek Sloan and Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis.

Apr 30, 2020

Cybersecurity professionals are warning that the White House’s approach to dealing with Huawei is undermining U.S. participation in international bodies responsible for establishing 5G network technical standards. “Continuing to cede leadership roles in these organizations and their associated processes risks a future where 5G, internet, and other standards reflect the values, interests, and priorities of nations that do not share our,” says Megan Stifel of the Global Cyber Alliance.

Apr 30, 2020

The first quarter of 2020 saw U.S. GDP plunge by an annualized 4.8 per cent, the first quarterly decline since 2014 and the worst since the 2008 economic meltdown. The Commerce Department points out that most of the latest drop occurred before COVID-19 forced widespread shutdowns and layoffs.

Apr 30, 2020

The Department of National Defence and NATO confirmed 30 April that an RCAF Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter serving with a NATO task force in the Mediterranean had crashed the previous evening. Greek media say that it had taken off from the frigate HMCS Fredericton with up six persons and that one body had been recovered. NATO has not released crew details but DND says it has contracted all “primary family” members of those who were aboard.”

Apr 29, 2020

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canada is “open” to a review of the World Health Organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While stressing the value of the WHO itself, she says “we need to make sure…we're being critical about the institutions that serve us internationally and that we look for ways as we move forward to improve our work together.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has indicated the organization would support a review.

Apr 29, 2020

The crew of an Air Canada Jazz flight to Nanaimo, B.C., has reported spotting a small drone on final approach to the Vancouver Island airport last week. Identified as probably a personal-use drone, it was spotted at the same altitude just off the deHavilland Dash 8 twin turboprop's starboard wing.

Apr 29, 2020

Hundreds of millions of dollars for conventional military infrastructure projects are being diverted for continued work on President Donald Trump’s wall at the U.S. border with Mexico. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper directed the moves in a memorandum earlier this week.

Apr 29, 2020

Officials at NATO headquarters in Brussels are using the COVID-19 experience as a potential learning exercise to prepare better for the next pandemic. “Resiliance is . . . enshrined in Article 3 of our treaty,” says Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “We have baseline requirements, guidelines for national resilience, including health and dealing with mass casualties.”

Apr 29, 2020

Despite a directive from a clinic in Minnesota, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence opted not to wear a protective mask during a tour. Everyone else shown in a video-recording of the visit, including the head of the Food and Drug Administration, clinic staff, a Republican congressman and the state governor, complied with the directive.

Apr 29, 2020

A relaxation of New Zealand’s five-week COVID-19 pandemic lockdown 28 April resulted in a rush at two of fast-food franchise. The long lineups of cars required police intervention to deal with the situation.

Apr 29, 2020

The possibility that boaters from the U.S. West Coast might try to visit British Columbia has prompted the Canadian Coast Guard to consider how to block traffic for as long as COVID-19 is an issue. “We’d like to think our friends to the south of us will be staying at home and won’t be coming , , , when we have a closed border,” says CCG Regional Superintendent Susan Pickrell.

Apr 29, 2020

New Brunswick-based Irving Oil is seeking regulatory permission to use tankers to supply its Saint John refinery with crude oil as opposed to railway tank cars. The company has told the federal government that the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant uncertainty in its usual supply chain.

Apr 29, 2020

The largest recorded hole in the ozone layer above the Arctic has closed. Scientists say that it evidently caused by a strong polar vortex rather than to any buildup of ozone-depleting chemicals in the stratosphere.

Apr 29, 2020

A Canadian Cyclone helicopter deployed on HMCS Fredericton has gone missing while on a NATO exercise with allies off the western coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. DND has confirmed that a search and rescue mission is underway at this time. 

Apr 28, 2020

The mayor of the Alberta oilsands town of Fort McMurray, which was devastated by wildfires four years ago and now is grappling with COVID-19, has requested Canadian Armed Forces help in dealing with widespread flooding from the Athabasca River. Parts of the town have been ordered evacuated.

Apr 28, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump is said to have been warned about the looming COVID-19 crisis in his daily intelligence briefings in January as various agencies highlighted the threat more than a dozen times. Officials are quote anonymously as saying that Trump often skips the President’s Daily Brief and has shown impatience when receiving the oral briefing.

Apr 28, 2020

The federal government is leaving each province to figure out to ease their COVID-19 lockdowns and other measures. “The provinces have the authority to determine what is in their best interests,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeay says as some jurisdictions began considering their options. “They have the responsibility to do what is right for their citizens.”

Apr 28, 2020

While the 16 German states have varying approaches for easing the lockdowns imposed to contain COVID-19, cloth masks now are mandatory in most jurisdictions on public transit and in stores. However, the World Health Organization continues to suggest that masks should be worn only by persons who are displaying symptoms, have tested positive or are caring for others.

Apr 28, 2020

Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef says the spread of COVID-19 evidently has resulted in a rise in domestic violence. “Abuse rates are rising in parts of the country,” she says. “What the pandemic has done with the self-isolation measures, with the closures of some of the support systems, is create a powder keg.”

Apr 27, 2020

In what is described as “the first overall assessment of Canada's Arctic Ocean”, dozens of federal scientists and Inuit observers have concluded that the region may be changing faster than any other body of water on the planet, with economic and strategic implications. “As the Arctic changes, the rest of the ecosystem is going to track with those changes,” says the project's lead scientist, Andrea Niemi of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “There isn't going to be a delay.”

Apr 27, 2020

Earlier this month, the Department of National Defence issued a request for proposals for delivery of a readily-deployable “biocontainment aeromedical evacuation system” as developed and refined by the U.S. Air Force in the aftermath of the 2013-2016 Ebola crisis. The RFP seems to have been precipitated by the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces personnel during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Apr 27, 2020

British intelligence agencies have been told they require computer assistance to counter a variety of threats. The Royal United Services Institute also says new artificial intelligence capabilities are critical to identifying criminal as well as military threats before they become reality.

Apr 27, 2020

The U.S. has notified Canada and Mexico that the new North American trade agreement can go into effect 1 July. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also has advised Congress that all three countries are now ready to forge “uniform regulations” which would govern how the language of the replacement for the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement is interpreted.

Apr 27, 2020

Breaking a peace deal signed in November with the internationally-recognised government of Yemen, United Arab Emirates-backed separatists in the country’s south have declared self-rule. The Saudi-backed government has warned of “catastrophic consequences.”

Apr 27, 2020

The notion of an independent investigation into the origin of COVID-19 doesn’t sit well with China. Chen Wen, described as a “top diplomat” in Britain, says the call is politically motivated and would divert his country’s attention from fighting the pandemic which is believed to have begun at a wildlife market in the city of Wuhan late last year.

Apr 27, 2020

The U.S. Navy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have begun studying a COVID-19 outbreak in one of its aircraft carriers in the hope of contributing to a better understanding of the pandemic. More than 17 per cent of its crew of 4,845 have tested positive.

Apr 27, 2020

Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who oversaw a major corruption probe, has quit President Jair Bonsolaro’s cabinet, accusing his leader of political interference. Bonsolaro dismissed the allegation as “baseless” and said “the day I have to submit to any of my subordinates, I cease to be president.” He had earlier fired his health minister for supporting social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak which the president continues to downplay.

Apr 27, 2020

Boeing Co. has withdrawn from a $4.2-billion deal to buy Brazil-based Embraer's commercial aircraft division. The U.S. giant accused Embraer of having not met conditions for finalizing the sale but the São Paulo-based company countered that Boeing’s financial difficulties were the reason.

Apr 24, 2020

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a $3.7-trillion deficit for the U.S. by year’s end, which it says would represent a 5.6% economic contraction and a 12% jump in unemployment. The CBO also reported 24 April that while it expects an historic drop in U.S. economic activity this spring, a recovery will begin once social distancing measures are relaxed.

Apr 24, 2020

The latest projection of COVID-19’s financial impact on the federal treasury and, eventually on taxpayers going forward, has topped $817 billion. It includes various public support programs for individuals and businesses as well as the knock-on effect of tax deferrals and loan guarantee programs.

Apr 24, 2020

The federal government has committed an additional $1.1 billion to development of a national COVID-19 medical and research strategy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in announcing the funding that increased testing and further understanding of the virus are needed before the economy can be reopened.

Apr 24, 2020

A member of the government’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force says the World Health Organization set back the global response by up to three weeks by placing too much confidence in Chinese data. “I think they were a little too deferential,” Dr. David Naylor, a physician and former University of Toronto president, said in a televised interview. He also didn’t think it was “a massive amount of time lost” and those who hold that view “are simply wrong.”

Apr 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is looking for additional insight into how to keep better track of contractors’ cybersecurity practices through its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process. It has issued a request for proposals designed to end self-certification, a proposal which would require third-party audits.

Apr 24, 2020

Unmanned aerial vehicles designed by Draganfly Inc. of Saskatoon have been deployed near New York City in a pilot project to detect the spread of COVID-19. Draganfly has been working with the University of Southern Australia to equip its drones with sensors that can measure from nearly 60 metres not only social distancing compliance, but also body temperature, heart and respiratory rates, and whether people are sneezing and coughing in crowds.

Apr 24, 2020

Transport Canada now requires all arriving and departing airline passengers to wear face masks while in transit, including through security screening when social-distancing is impracticable. Also, passengers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed aboard regardless of whether they have a mask.

Apr 24, 2020

The much-maligned middle seat in airliners with three-seat rows have become even less desirable since the advent of COVID-19. Several carriers have announced plans to not assign them to passengers for the foreseeable future and other options are being considered.

Apr 23, 2020

Rookie Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan, who’s also a leadership candidate, took to social media this week to question the loyalty of Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Medical Officer of Health overseeing Canada’s COVID-19 response. He asked whether the Hong Kong-born epidemiologist -- who grew up in Britain and was educated there and in Canada -- worked for “Canada or China?” Dr. Tam dismissed the comment as “noise” and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was no place for “intolerance and racism” in Canada, but Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer declined comment on leadership candidates.

Apr 23, 2020

As President Donald Trump looked on during a White House briefing 23 April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is convinced that COVID-19 will be a presence until at least the fall. Trump has been urging a relaxation of some lockdowns but Cauci reiterated the importance of continued caution and the need for politicians to heed their public health authorities’ advice.

Apr 23, 2020

Premier François Legault has asked the federal government to send 1,000 additional Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help staff long-term care institutions in Quebec which have been hit hard by COVID-19. He says the province has unable to find enough trained workers to meet immediate needs.

Apr 23, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help his government stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. He said they would be deployed to five homes where infection rates have been extreme. “When you’re in a fight like this, you leave nothing off the table,” he said.

Apr 23, 2020

A flurry of email and social media messages in mid-March to the effect that the U.S. was about to lock down the entire country is reportedly being blamed on Chinese operatives.

Apr 23, 2020

Having tweeted 20 April that he would sign an executive order to “temporarily suspend” immigration as an anti-COVID-19 measure and to protect Americans’ jobs, President Donald Trump eventually opted three days later only to suspend some green cards for 60 days. Exceptions include migrant farm workers, citizens' spouses and unmarried children younger than 21, and green card applications already in the U.S.

Apr 22, 2020

A Canada-U.S. agreement to extend restrictions on cross-border travel has prompted Air Canada to suspend all commercial service to the U.S., effective 26 April and until at least 22 May. WestJet also has extended its original suspension until at least 4 June 4 as well as shutting down some domestic services.

Apr 22, 2020

An Ontario company which claimed a link to The 3M Company in advertising COVID-19 protective masks is being sued by the Minnesota-based giant. The action in Ontario Superior Court of Justice states that Caonic Systems Inc. of Waterloo used Internet-based marketing to sell N-95 masks at five times the suggested retail price.

Apr 22, 2020

Repeated suggestions that COVID-19 ws manufactured in a high-level containment lab in China are being discounted by the World Health Organization, which said 21 April that all available evidence points to animal-human transmission as the “likely” vector. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is dismissing the notion that it had synthesized the virus or permitted it to escape.

Apr 21, 2020

President Donald Trump said 20 April that he will sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend” immigration because of COVID-19 and to protect jobs. A White House spokesperson echoed the president 21 April but offered no additional insight.

Apr 21, 2020

The weekend shooting spree in Nova Scotia which left at least 23 dead, including a police officer and the gunman, has prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resurrect a promise during last fall’s election campaign to strengthen gun controls. “We were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country,” he said 20 April, explaining that his plan had been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As long as Canadians are losing their loved ones to gun violence, not enough has changed.”

Apr 21, 2020

U.S. federal agencies that heeded President Donald Trump’s push to move operations to the cloud are being reminded that security is paramount. “We want to ensure that in these quick migrations that we’ve done, that we fully understand both the positives as well as some of the assumptions we’ve made,” says Matthew Scholl, chief of the Computer Security Division in the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He and other officials warn that security could be compromised if vendors aren’t appropriately managed.

Apr 21, 2020

Essye Miller, principal deputy chief information officer at the Department of Defense, retiring at the end of June, is to be succeeded John Sherman, CIO of the Intelligence Community. Miller, who previously held senior Army and Air Force positions, played a key role in preparing the DoD for COVID-19. Sherman, who has been at the IC since September 2017 and is responsible for ongoing IT modernization, previously was with the CIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Apr 20, 2020

The largest single-day drop in world crude oil prices 20 April was reflected in a major impact on Alberta, where Premier Jason Kenney called for more federal support for his province’s already floundering economy. Domestic oil prices plunged into negative territory as producers reportedly were willing to pay buyers to take oil off their hands due to a lack of storage capacity.

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