In the News

Jan 08, 2021

A Correctional Service of Canada plan to give priority to inoculating hundreds of prison inmates is being condemned by the parliamentary opposition. Advocates say the CSC’s plan would protect vulnerable populations inside and outside the prison system but the Conservatives say it is “outrageous” to give prisoners priority over front-line health care workers, seniors and others.

Jan 08, 2021

Weeks after the World Health Organization said it would be sending investigators to China to look into COVID-19’s origins, their entry has yet to be permitted. Insisting that China “has always been open and responsible” on the pandemic’s possible source, a foreign ministry official now says the dates and itinerary for the WHO team needed to be finalized.

Jan 08, 2021

China, Iran and Russia are using the Jan. 6 riot in Washington as a basis for attacking the U.S. in particular and democracy in general. A Russian spokesman called the U.S. electoral system at the root of the protest “archaic”, China called western media coverage hypocritical due to its criticism of ongoing crackdowns in Hong Kong, and Iran saw the riot as evidence that “western democracy is weak.” U.S. allies, while agreeing that the riot was a regrettable disgrace, faulted outgoing President Donald Trump for inciting the protest.

Jan 08, 2021

U.S. Capitol Police have confirmed that one of its officers has died from injuries sustained as President Donald Trump's supporters stormed Congress Jan. 6. It brought to five the number of deaths attributed to the riot; one protestor was evidently shot during the breach on Capitol Hill while three other demonstrators suffered unspecified “medical emergencies.”

Jan 08, 2021

Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge of defrauding the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with development of its 737 Max aircraft. The Justice Department says the total includes a criminal fine as well as payments to the families of victims of two crashes and to airlines and prospective passengers affected by the grounding of the global fleet. Federal prosecutors said Boeing employees had concealed critical information from the regulators.

Jan 08, 2021

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has awarded $35,000 in damages to a black child who was handcuffed and restrained by police at an elementary school in September 2016 when she was six years old. The decision comes approximately one year after the tribunal ruled that the two officers, responding to a fourth call about the girl that month, had been “racially discriminatory.”

Jan 08, 2021

Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, a radical Muslim cleric linked to the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 persons from 21 countries, mostly tourists, has been freed amid concerns over his ongoing influence on extremists. The 82-year-old is the former head of Jemaah Islamiah, an al-Qaeda-inspired group behind the attack. Authorities say he will enter a deradicalisation program.

Jan 07, 2021

Quebec is extending its closure of non-essential businesses and imposing a curfew in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Premier François Legault says the four-week “shock therapy”, criticized by some civil liberties groups, is needed as the province is in “a race against time”, a race he says Quebec has lost in the last few weeks as confirmed cases spiked again.

Jan 07, 2021

Ralph Goodale, the former federal cabinet minister advising the government on the Iranian military's downing of a Ukrainian passenger aircraft a year ago, is dismissive of Tehran's offer of $150,000 to the victims’ families. He says compensation remains subject to negotiations. 176 people on board. The 176 victims included 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and 53 others travelling to Canada.

Jan 07, 2021

Confirmation Jan. 6 that the Democratic Party candidates had won two Senate seats in Georgia means that president-elect Joe Biden will have control of Congress after his Jan. 20 inauguration. With a majority in the House of Representatives, the Georgia results mean that while the Senate will be split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Biden’s vice-presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, can cast a deciding vote in the event of a Senate tie.

Jan 07, 2021

More than two months after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Republican incumbent Donald Trump has acknowledged defeat. His promise of an “orderly transition” to Joe Biden’s Democratic Party was posted by a White House staffer on social media after Trump loyalists had stormed Capitol Hill.

Jan 07, 2021

President Donald Trump’s continued insistence that the November election in the U.S. had been “stolen” by widespread voter fraud prompted Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to temporarily block his accounts even as Republican loyalists and other protestors breached security at the Capitol. Facebook subsequently announced that it would freeze Trump's account, including Instagram, at least until the end of his term

Jan 07, 2021

Increased Chinese and Russian activity in the Arctic warrant a more assertive U.S. involvement in the region, according to a new U.S. Navy strategic plan. It notes that the Arctic has significant estimated and proven petroleum reserves as well as strategically important rare earth minerals.

Jan 07, 2021

A judge in Baghdad has issued an arrest warrant for outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump in connection with the killing of a visiting Iranian general and an Iraqi militia leader last January. Year. However, the warrant on a charge of premeditated murder is seen as largely symbolic.

Jan 06, 2021

Shortly after President Donald Trump used an inflammatory speech about his unfounded allegations of voter fraud in the last election, Republican loyalists stormed Capitol Hill in a protest which left one woman dead. In the first incident of its kind since 1954, when a few Puerto Rican nationalists breached security, the mob broke into Congress shortly after it began debating a move by Republican dissidents to overturn the election results and the National Guard was eventually deployed.

Jan 06, 2021

More than 50 of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy activists and politicians have been arrested in morning police raids in the biggest crackdown since China imposed a draconian security law last year. China’s foreign ministry says the arrests were needed to stop “external forces and individuals [colluding] to undermine China's stability and security.”

Jan 06, 2021

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have restored diplomatic relations with Qatar three years after they imposed an embargo, alleging that Qatar supported terrorism. Prince Faisal bin Farhad, the Saudi foreign minister, says they agreed at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting to “fully set our differences aside.”

Jan 06, 2021

Venezuela’s parliament, the only key institution not controlled by President Nicolás Maduro's socialist party, has been sworn in. Maduro supporters won 256 of 277 seats in an election last month boycotted by most opposition candidates.

Jan 05, 2021

A South Korean naval vessel stationed off Somalia as a piracy deterrent has been ordered closer to the Strait of Hormuz as tensions rise between Seoul and Iran over the seizer of a South Korean tanker. Tehran says the ship was polluting the sea during a transit from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates, a claim the tanker captain has denied. Meanwhile, Seoul plans a delegation to Tehran “at the earlies possible date” to try to negotiation the tanker’s release.

Jan 05, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, encountering pushback from some provinces, says he is troubled by the slow pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and he plans to challenge premiers on the issue. While Canada has received more than 424,000 doses of two vaccines, only 35 per cent have been administered by the provinces.

Jan 05, 2021

Forty-eight per cent of respondents to a new national opinion poll evidently opted to ignore government guidelines about social-distancing as a key element of getting COVID-19 under control. “Usually, we Canadians are sort of much more . . . disciplined when it comes to going by what governments are recommending in terms of our behaviour,” the polling firm says. “But over the holidays, apparently, it was sort of tougher.”

Jan 04, 2021

A number of federal and provincial politicians across Canada have come under fire and, in some cases, been disciplined for crossing borders for personal reasons as their own governments appeal to Canadians as a key element of COVID-19 campaigns. Most have apologized but the public seems unimpressed.

Jan 04, 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a strict national lockdown as Britain grapples with an aggressive variant of COVID-19 and races to vaccinate the populace. After several days of frighteningly high and escalating case numbers, he has ordered all schools to shift to remote learning and appealed to Britons self-quarantine except for essential work and shopping for necessities.

Jan 04, 2021

Data from a British organization indicates that Israel is a world leader when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. Published Jan. 1, they show that it had administered vaccine to 11.55 of every 100 persons compared with 0.26 in Canada, 0.84 in the U.S. and 1.47 in the U.K. With Israel “rapidly getting to a point where mass deaths and mass lockdowns are over,” according to an spokesman for the Oxford group, a member of Ontario’s vaccination task force says ‘it’s remarkable watching how organized Israel is in terms of getting access to a tremendous amount of vaccines and mobilizing vaccine rollout.”

Jan 04, 2021

A South Korean-flagged tanker has been seized by Iran and its multinational crew arrested. Tehran has cited “oil pollution” in the Strait of Hormuz as justification for the seizure but there are suggestions it is putting pressure on South Korea to released frozen assets.

Jan 04, 2021

Some Canadians evidently are buying into unfounded U.S. suspicions, voiced largely on social media, that voting machines can be rigged to sway election results. Elections Canada has explained that this country uses hand-counted paper ballots but there have been claims that Canadian-built voting machines used in the U.S. have been employed domestically and that this could mean that the results of the 2019 general election are “illegitimate.”

Jan 04, 2021

All former U.S. Secretaries of Defense have rebuked elements within President Donald Trump’s administration for considering martial law as an option in his ongoing campaign to overturn the latest election results. Stating that "the time for questioning the results has passed," they say such action would take the country into “dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory."

Jan 04, 2021

A U.S. call for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to stand trial has been rejected by a British judge due to concerns about his mental health. The 49-year-old is wanted in connection with the publication of thousands of classified documents a decade ago. The U.S. plans to appeal the ruling.

Dec 31, 2020

Effective Jan. 7, all visitors aged five years or older who arrive by air will have to have tested negative for COVID-19 within a 72-hour period before boarding the aircraft. The customary 14-day quarantine period on arrival in Canada will continue to apply.

Dec 31, 2020

Shortly after returning from a Caribbean vacation while Ontario is under a strict COVID-19 lockdown, Finance Minister Rod Phillips resigned Dec. 31. He said he would have preferred to stay in the portfolio but Premier Doug Ford, who had promised a “very tough conversation”, lost no time in accepting Phillips’ resignation.

Dec 31, 2020

Iran is proposing to compensate families of the 176 victims of its January 2020 shoot-down of a Ukrainian airliner. State TV says cabinet approved payment of US$150,000. The victims included dozens of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others with ties to Canada.

Dec 31, 2020

In the dying days of President Donald Trump’s lameduck administration, his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is said to be considering adding Cuba to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. The idea is being described as a “thank you” to Florida's Latino communities who voted Republican in the recent elections. The countries currently on the list are Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Dec 31, 2020

For the first time since the global fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes, American Airlines has completed a scheduled flight with the aircraft, a Miami-New York hop. Expecting to have 35 ready for service with updated flight controls and pilot retraining, the carrier expects to expand service in 2021.

Dec 31, 2020

The U.S. has slapped new tariffs on Airbus parts and some European wines in an ongoing spat about aerospace subsidies and has accused the European Union of unfair calculations in its own tariffs. It’s the latest development in a regulatory dispute which began in 1994 and centres mainly on counterclaims about government support of Airbus and Boeing in the airline market.

Dec 31, 2020

Two Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses completed another U.S. show of force over the Middle East this week as outgoing President Trump warned Iran would be held accountable if rocket attacks against Iraq killed any Americans. The North Dakota-based bombers’ 36-hour round trip was the third such deployment in six weeks.

Dec 30, 2020

At least 25 persons are dead and 110 injured after an explosion at the airport in the temporary Yemeni capital of Aden Dec. 30 as an aircraft carrying the newly-formed government cabinet was landing. A second blast was reported near a palace in the southern port city where cabinet members had been moved after the airport attack for which Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility.

Dec 30, 2020

At least 22 persons are dead and 50 injured after an explosion at the airport in the temporary Yemeni capital of Aden.  A second blast was reported near a palace in the southern port city where cabinet members had been moved after the airport attack.

Dec 30, 2020

Britain’s post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union has been approved in a 521-73 vote in the House of Commons, a day before Britain’s formal Dec. 31 withdrawal from the EU. Negotiated over the past nine months, the deal sets out a new economic and security relationship.

Dec 30, 2020

The federal government plans to require air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 three days before landing in Canada. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced the decision after a Dec. 30 cabinet meeting but he did not explain when it would take effect. However, arriving passengers will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Dec 30, 2020

Scientists researching the potential origins of COVID-19 in bat caves in southern China have had their samples confiscated and ordered not to speak to the media. The Associated Press reports that access roads have been blocked by police and that Beijing is controlling all research even as it prepares for the arrival of a World Health Organization team.

Dec 30, 2020

Former U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, imprisoned in 1985 after pleading guilty to spying for Israel, has been welcomed to Tel Aviv by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pollard was paroled in 2015 but prohibited from foreign travel for at least five years. Israel had granted him citizenship in 1995.

Dec 30, 2020

Ten pro-democracy activists who tried to flee to Taiwan from Hong Kong by boat in August have been sentenced by a Chinese court to between seven months and three years in prison.

Dec 30, 2020

Russian state investigators have filed new charges against opposition leader Alexei Navalny, still recovering in Germany from allegedly being poison by Russian agents. The latest accusation, following on the heels of the arrest of Lybov Sobol, one of Navalhy’s allies, is that he spent public funds on personal needs.

Dec 30, 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced new regulations for civil use of unmanned aircraft systems. Among other things, drones must broadcast “digital license plates” while being flown in most areas. Operators also are permitted to fly them above people and at night. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson says the new rules “get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

Dec 29, 2020

A Chinese “citizen journalist” whose reports of crowded hospitals and empty streets in Wuhan conflicted with Beijing’s narrative, has been sentenced to four years in prison. Zhang Zhan's lawyer says she was convicted for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The UN says her case is “an example of the excessive clampdown on freedom of expression linked to COVID-19.”

Dec 29, 2020

The Department of Defense “political leadership” is being accused by president-elect Joe Biden of “irresponsibility” for what he says its frustration of preparations for the transition out of President Donald Trump’s administration, an accusation the Pentagon denies. He also says that critical security agencies had suffered “enormous damage” under Trump.

Dec 28, 2020

Loujain Alhathloul, a prominent women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia with strong Canadian ties who had already been incarcerated since 2018, has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison. She was prosecuted under a broadly-worded law aimed at combating terrorism.

Dec 28, 2020

President Donald Trump has ended a political deadlock in the U.S. by signing off on a $900 billion pandemic relief package designed to support businesses and individuals while averting a government-wide shutdown. However, he continues to complain that the package approved by Congress includes “wasteful” spending.

Dec 28, 2020

A Delta Airlines pilot has been awarded $500,000 by a U.S. Labor Department tribunal which concluded that her employer had “weaponized” a discounted psychological assessment which resulted in her being grounded after she reported safety issues. The pilot, Karlene Pettit, has a doctorate in aviation safety.

Dec 26, 2020

George Blake, the former British intelligence officer who became the Cold War’s most infamous double agent, has died in Russia at the age of 98. He handed over information which led to the betrayal of at least 40 agents in Eastern Europe. Blake was imprisoned in London in 1960 but escaped in 1966. Russian president Vladimir Putin called him an “outstanding professional of special courage and life endurance.”

Dec 26, 2020

President Donald Trump's recent decision to pardon four former U.S. mercenaries who were imprisoned after 14 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2007 has been condemned by the UN Commission on Human Rights. It has warned that Trump’s initiative would embolden others to commit similar crimes.

Dec 24, 2020

A provincial court in Pakistan has ordered the release of a British-born Pakistani charged in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The court’s order, which is being appealed, overturns government orders that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh should remain in custody. The U.S. State Department is “deeply concerned” by what it says is the court’s release of “multiple terrorists” responsible for the Pearl killing.

Dec 24, 2020

Canada has extended its ban on commercial and private air travel from Britain until at least Jan. 6. The two-week extension was in response to the emergence of a COVID-19 variant which research suggests is more transmissible than the variant currently dominant in Canada.

Dec 24, 2020

Israel-based Elbit Systems has been awarded a $36.16-million contract to supply a Hermes 900 StarLiner remotely-piloted aircraft system to be added to Transport Canada’s national surveillance program. Delivery is expected by December 2022.

Dec 24, 2020

Four years after British voters opted by a slim margin to withdraw from the European Union, negotiators have agreed to a trade pact only a week ahead of their year-end deadline. While some details remain to be sorted out after 11 tortuous months of negotiations, the agreement requires ratification by Westminster and the European Parliament.

Dec 24, 2020

As the first COVID-19 vaccines trickled out across the U.S., many members of Congress wasted no time getting their initial shots. The argument is that there is a practical imperative, ensuring continuing in government, but the fact that many frontline workers and elderly Americans are still waiting has created an “optics” challenge.

Dec 24, 2020

President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, as well as former advisor Roger Stone and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father are among 29 persons either pardoned or granted clemency. Manafort was convicted of involvement in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election; Stone’s sentence for lying to the FBI had already been commuted; and Fred Kushner, who served two years in prison for tax evasion and other offences, was granted clemency.

Dec 23, 2020

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, clearing the way for imminent delivery of thousands of doses. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved earlier this month, the Moderna alternative does not require storage at ultra-low temperatures so can be distributed more easily.

Dec 23, 2020

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. since last March, says there is widespread support in Washington for efforts to have China release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians detained by China two years ago. "There is not a single substantive conversation that I have with a lawmaker here in the United States — whether it is in the administration or on the Hill — where the issue of the arbitrary detention of the Michaels doesn't come up,” she says. “I have . . . received only support from every single American lawmaker I have talked to.”

Dec 23, 2020

Germany's Ambassador to the UN, in his last scheduled role as a temporary member of the Security Council, has appealed to China to free detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. “Christmas is the right moment for such a gesture,” Christoph Heusgen said. China’s deputy UN ambassador immediately dismissed the notion, saying “good riddance” to Heusgen and accusing him of trying “to poison the working atmosphere” of the council.

Dec 23, 2020

The $230-million takeover of a gold mine project in Nunavut has been blocked by the federal government. TMAC Resources confirmed the decision and the government would only say that “all investments are subject to national security review . . . on a case-by-case basis.”

Dec 23, 2020

Syria’s central bank, several businesses and members of President Bashar al-Assad’s family are among the targets of a new round of U.S. economic sanctions designed to push his government back to UN-led talks to end a nearly decade-old civil war. “The  United States will  continue to seek accountability for those prolonging this conflict,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Dec 23, 2020

Until recently, Antarctica had been the lone landmass unaffected by COVID-19, but its status has changed with confirmation that three dozen personnel at a Chilean base had tested positive. Mostly army personnel and maintenance contractors, they included members of a group which had travelled to the continent from Chile.

Dec 23, 2020

The Council of State, France’s supreme court of administrative justice, has banned “without delay” police use of drones for surveillance of public protests in Paris. The council, which also is a legal advisor to the national government, issued the directive as parliament debates a contentious security bill which would permit the surveillance in support of law and order.

Dec 23, 2020

The Canada Revenue Agency is launching a website to facilitate tracking which companies have been receiving pandemic-related wage subsidies. The initiative evidently is in response to reports that some had paid out shareholder dividends while collecting the subsidies.

Dec 22, 2020

A $900-billion COVID-19 relief bill designed to provide economic relief to individuals and business, and approved by Congress after months of politicial deadlock, has been rejected by President Donald Trump. Withholding his signature, he has demanded increased payments to individuals and wants Congress to remove “wasteful and unnecessary” elements which included several defence procurements and foreign assistance programs.

Dec 22, 2020

President Donald Trump has pardoned 15 persons, including two convicted of lying to the FBI during an inquiry into his 2015 election campaign and four private security contractors involved in a 2007 civilian massacre in Iraq.

Dec 22, 2020

A protracted political crisis revolving around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal troubles has brought down his “unity” coalition government with Benny Gantz after just seven months. The country’s fourth general election in two years is set for March 23.

Dec 22, 2020

Iran's Foreign Affairs Ministry says Canada is exploiting the families of victims of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, shot down by Iranian missiles 11 months ago. “Canada has done everything they could to . . . get in the way of the natural course of events to finding out what exactly happened mechanically,” a spokesman says. “It is very regrettable that Canada is using the grief of these families . . . to take advantage and attempt to use it in their own domestic politics.” He was responding to comments last week by former cabinet minister Ralph Goodale that Iran should not be in charge of the investigation.

Dec 22, 2020

Seventy-two passengers on Canadian airlines have been fined or issued warning letters by Transport Canada for refusing to wear a mask in-flight. Fifty of the reported incidents, as well as most of the fines, involved WestJet passengers.

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