In the News

Aug 09, 2021

Brunei’s deputy foreign minister, appointed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as its special envoy to Myanmar, insists on full access when he visits the strife-torn country where the military overthrew an elected government in February. Erywan Yusof has been tasked with overseeing aid, ending violence, and opening a dialogue between the military junta and its opponents.

Aug 09, 2021

The International Panel on Climate Change said today that global warming is dangerously close to being out of control as previously severe weather anomalies appear to be becoming the norm. Its report to the UN, which draws on more than 14,000 scientific studies, was described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as a “code red for humanity” as the world body prepares for its 26th global climate conference later this year.

Aug 08, 2021

A Taliban spokesman said today that the Islamists’ resurgence in Afghanistan has overtaken the country’s sixth provincial capital in less than a week. Confirmed by local officials, it marks a dramatic acceleration of the militants’ move from mainly rural combat into urban centres.

Aug 08, 2021

Canada Border Services Agency employees have a tentative contract after 36 hours of 11th-hour negotiations with Treasury Board. The deal, yet to be formally ratified, followed a day-long work-to-rule campaign which resulted in long delays at some crossings only a couple of days before the border was to be reopened to vaccinated U.S. visitors.

Aug 06, 2021

The Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative is an initiative unveiled by the U.S. Government this week. The effort will initially focus on combating ransomware and cyberattacks on cloud-computing providers, said Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Aug 06, 2021

Two Myanmar citizens have been arrested for allegedly plotting to have someone kill or injure the country’s envoy to the UN, the U.S. attorneys’ office in New York reported today. A vocal critic of last February’s military coup in his homeland, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun was fired by the junta but continues to represent Myanmar.

Aug 06, 2021

The Department of National Defence, the RCMP and the Canadian Coast Guard account for 45 per cent of greenhouse gases emitted by federal government operations, according to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report released today. However, as its authors point out, “the most obvious and serious challenge” is that all three are exempt from the government’s current “greening” strategy.

Aug 06, 2021

Some Canada Border Services Agency employees began a “work to rule” strike today only two days before the federal government was preparing to reopen the border to vaccinated U.S. visitors. Some 90 per cent of the 9,000 employees have been designated essential workers who continue to provide services as contract talks with Treasury Board continue.

Aug 06, 2021

Quebec Premier François Legault, warning that his province seems on the verge of another COVID-19 wave, announced Aug. 5 that his government is developing a vaccine passport system. “It’s still less than what we’re seeing in the United States or other European countries, but we . . . must be prudent and take decisions.”

Aug 05, 2021

As the emergence of the aggressive Delta variant of COVID-19 across Canada possibly signals the beginning of a fourth wave, there are dramatically different approaches to the issue of vaccine passports. Several provinces have already issued documentation, others await federal action and still others have discounted the idea.

Aug 05, 2021

Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in today as Iran’s eighth president. Widely decried at home and abroad as a hardliner, he promised to pursue “diplomacy and constructive and extensive engagement with the world”, beginning with his country’s immediate neighbours.

Aug 05, 2021

Despite a plea by the World Health Organization for wealthier countries to postpone “booster” COVID-19 vaccinations until more of the world is protected, the governments of Germany, France and Israel say they will go ahead with third shots for their most vulnerable populations.

Aug 05, 2021

Italian teachers have been told by their government that they must have proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination before they can work and that the requirement also will apply to air, rail, ship and intercity bus passengers. Emulating neighbouring France’s approach, Italy already insisted on proof by anyone eating indoors and restaurants or using a number of services and leisure activities.

Aug 05, 2021

Qatar Airways grounded 13 Airbus A350s, saying that their carbon composite fuselages are “degrading at an accelerated rate.” One of the world’s top operators of the aircraft with a fleet of 34, it says it has “explicit” directions from its regulatory body and will not return the aircraft to service until the situation is corrected.

Aug 05, 2021

Saad Aljabri, a Saudi Arabian intelligence officer who came to Canada in 2017 is alleged by several companies in his homeland to have committed fraud. One of the companies is a sovereign wealth fund controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who evidently has made Aljabri a personal target. Now the U.S. Justice Department has intervened in the case on national security grounds.

Aug 05, 2021

U.S. firearms manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Barrett Firearms are on a list of companies being sued in a Masschusetts court by the Mexican government, which says they knew they were contributing to illegal arms trafficking and increased violence in Mexico. Filed Aug. 3, the suit seeks as much as $10 billion in compensation.

Aug 05, 2021

An international program design to deal with money-laundering, the Financial Action Task Force established by Canada and its G7 partners, is at the heart of a controversy that its original focus has been compromised. Authorities in at least five countries are said to have used FATF standards to investigate critics for political gain.

Aug 05, 2021

A lawyer for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, detained in Canada as a U.S. extradition case resumed in Vancouver, has accused the U.S. of abusing the legal process. manner. Mona Ducket has asked for a stay of proceedings, saying the U.S. had been “selective” with the information it has disclosed to Canadian authorities in the alleged fraud case. “The requesting state has . . . undermined the trust and cooperation required . . . to maintain international legal order.”

Aug 05, 2021

The first “of a number of flights” carrying Afghans who helped the Canadian military in Afghanistan arrived late Aug. 4 at Toronto International Airport. The government did not say how many evacuees were aboard the RCAF’s Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport but at least three dozen were observed.

Aug 04, 2021

Some 9,000 Canadian Border Service Agency employees are preparing to go on strike Friday morning if there is no last-minute contract settlement with the federal government. The Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union, having given notice Aug. 3, say that travellers and commercial operators can expect long lineups and delays.

Aug 04, 2021

Needed improvements in long-term care facilities, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, means that government funding would have to be doubled. This is according to Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux, who says in a report released today that federal, provincial and territorial governments would have to increase annual funding by $13.7 billion and expect costs to rise by 4.1 per cent annually thereafter. Spending in the last fiscal year totalled $13.6 billion.

Aug 04, 2021

A pipeline carrying oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is the focus of renewed exchanges between the government of Ontario and Michigan, which wants to shut it down on the basis of environmental concerns. Natural Resources Canada says decommissioning the line would require a shift to “less safe, more polluting and more expensive” truck and train transport.

Aug 04, 2021

About 100 resettled Afghan interpreters gathered in Ottawa Aug. 3 to ask the federal government to rescue extended families and former colleagues who remain under threat from the Taliban. The U.S. already has begun evacuations while Canada’s program seems stuck in bureaucratic limbo after more than a month of discussions.

Aug 04, 2021

A New York-based health care lobby, the Commonwealth Fund, released a report today which ranks Canada's provincially-managed health care second last among 11 high-income

Aug 04, 2021

A request by Alberta that people be permitted to carry pepper spray for self-defence has been rebuffed by the federal government. The province’s justice minister had argued that victim of hate-motivated violence would have been able to protect themselves. In rebuffing Alberta’s request for changes to the Criminal Code, Ottawa says “the solution cannot simply be to increase accessibility to prohibited weapons” which could provoke further violence.

Aug 04, 2021

U.K. Maritime Trade Operations says a Panamanian-registered cargo ship hijacked on the weekend in the Gulf of Oman is no longer in danger. It reports that the hijackers have left the ship and that the crew are safe. The incident occurred less than a week after an Israeli-operated tanker was attacked by a drone off Oman. Iran has been accused of involvement in both cases but has denied any responsibility.

Aug 04, 2021

A crackdown on private enterprise by the Chinese Communist Party has severely eroded the market value of many companies and stoked fears about the future of innovation. The government evidently is okay with tapping capitalist markets but only as long as it complies with CCP policies.

Aug 04, 2021

NATO ally Turkey is criticizing a U.S. plan to use third countries to resettle evacuated Afghans. The foreign ministry points out that Turkey is already home to more than four million refugees and would not “undertake a new migration crisis on behalf of a third country”.

Aug 04, 2021

Terrorism peace bonds are used by Canadian authorities to deal with extremists who left Canada to join terror groups, and then came back. Kevin Omar Mohamed travelled to Syria and called for attacks in Canada. Upon his return, he was charged with terrorism, and served a prison term. After breaching parole, he was placed on a peace bond which requires him to wear a GPS monitoring device for four years and undergo de-radicalization. It also bans him from possessing a passport, terrorist literature, explosives, bomb-making materials, firearms and knives.

Aug 03, 2021

Two returning Canadian travellers have been fined $19,720 each for trying to use forged COVID-19 testing and vaccination documents. The forgeries were detected by Canada Border Services Agency officers at Toronto International Airport in mid-July as the pair returned from the U.S.

Aug 03, 2021

Emergency military rice reserves have been released by the North Korean government as a heat wave and ongoing drought have eaten into supplies. The development was disclosed at a recent parliamentary committee meeting in South Korea.

Aug 03, 2021

China has announced mass COVID-19 testing in Wuhan amid continuing outbreaks of the aggressive Delta variant in the city where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. While the total number of cases is still in the hundreds, they are far more widespread than anything China has dealt with since the global pandemic began.

Aug 03, 2021

The U.S. has expanded its approach to evacuating Afghan citizens as Taliban violence increases ahead of the final withdrawal of U.S. troops. The revised policy would apply to current and former employees of U.S.-based news organizations, aid and development agencies and other relief bodies as well as current and former employees of the U.S. government and NATO.

Aug 03, 2021

Violating a commitment when it joined the World Trade Organization, China has issued new procurement guidelines which would affect foreign suppliers by requiring total local content on hundreds of items, including a range of medical equipment. Issued May 14, the new policy has only now come to light.

Aug 03, 2021

Fully-vaccinated Canadians contemplating international travel are being urged to ensure their destination country accepts their COVID-19 vaccine. Some countries will not admit visitors with mixed dosages, which is the case for millions of Canadians.

Aug 03, 2021

The office email accounts of 27 senior U.S. Justice Department prosecutors were hacked last year through SolarWinds software. In disclosing the attack, the department blamed Russian interests for what it considers the worst cyber-espionage attack on the federal government.

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.”

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