In the News

Jan 31, 2022

Bellicosity was front and centre in the UN Security Council today with Russia accusing the West of “whipping up tensions” over Ukraine and saying the U.S. had brought “pure Nazis” to power in Kyiv. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield retorted that “the largest mobilization" in Europe in decades has been accompanied by a spike in cyberattacks and disinformation as Moscow tried “without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack.”

Jan 31, 2022

The U.S. has been accused by Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky of setting up a public relations “stunt” today by having the Security Council consider the Russian military presence along its border with Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called it “a clear threat to international peace and security” but Polyansky could not recall “another occasion when a SC member proposed to discuss its own baseless allegations and assumptions as a threat.”

Jan 31, 2022

Canada has had a vaccine requirement for travellers for almost two months but some, such as returning Canadians are exempt. Moreover, unvaccinated foreigners in Canada can board departing flights until the end of February and some unvaccinated foreign nationals such as those granted permanent residency or visiting for compassionate reason are still able to enter.

Jan 31, 2022

A few days before Russia was to begin an eight day naval exercise southwest of Ireland this week, the country’s embassy in Dublin says the exercise, which would include live-firing, would be held outside Ireland’s offshore economic management zone so as “not to hinder fishing activities.”

Jan 31, 2022

An Ottawa consultant wants the Federal Court to order Library and Archives Canada to speed up his freedom of information request. Michael Dagg was told it would take 80 years to process his 2018 request for documents related to a 1993 RCMP investigation into money laundering and corruption which led to no charges being laid. “They spent 10 years researching it,” he said. “We're entitled to get answers.”

Jan 31, 2022

Finland’s intelligence chief says a “state actor” is likely behind a recent hack of the country’s diplomatic staff working abroad. The foreign ministry says victims were targetted with the Israeli-developed Pegasus software which can afford access to mobile phones’ contents and location history.

Jan 31, 2022

The Canadian Automobile Association reported Jan. 28 that the two-day national average price of gasoline was $1.478 a litre as records were set in some markets. Analysts blame geopolitical tensions in key supply regions and expect the upward trend to continue.

Jan 31, 2022

Anti-vaccination protesters who climbed on the cenotaph at the National War Memorial and cavorted atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the weekend “sickened” the Chief of the Defence Staff. “Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this,” Gen Wayne Ayre said. “Those involved should hang their heads in shame.” Ottawa police are investigating the filmed incidents.

Jan 31, 2022

Shepherds of Good Hope, an Ottawa charity which operates a homeless shelter and related services, says protesters from the anti-vaccination “Freedom Convoy” harassed staff and volunteers on the weekend. Among other things, they reportedly demanded food from the charity’s kitchen and allegedly assaulted a shelter client.

Jan 31, 2022

Traffic at a major Canada-U.S. border crossing between Alberta and Montana was snarled on the weekend by truckers protesting mandatory coronavirus vaccinations. The Canada Border Services Agency said Jan. 30 that while the crossing itself was open, travellers “should expect extensive delays” and Premier Jason Kenney said that in addition to being illegal, the snarl could impede emergency vehicles.

Jan 28, 2022

A family of four from India who arrived in Toronto Jan. 12 and were found frozen to death in Manitoba near the U.S. border last week have been officially identified. Police are continuing their investigation into suspected a human smuggling ring.

Jan 28, 2022

Citing “mounting evidence that Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks” the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has added a second company to its banned list. Hong Kong-based China Unicom has been directed to stop service in the U.S. within 60 days, joining Beijing-based China Telecom, which had its license revoked last October.

Jan 27, 2022

City police, the RCMP and intelligence groups are gearing up to handle the arrival in Ottawa this weekend of a convoy of truckers who are protesting mandatory coronavirus vaccination. While convoy organizers are cooperating, the concern is that escalating online rhetoric could incite violence by fringe elements.

Jan 27, 2022

A Kremlin spokesman said today that there is “not much cause for optimism” in the ongoing argument with the West over Ukraine in particular and Eastern Europe in general. However, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there is still hope for “the start of a serious conversation” about the impasse.

Jan 27, 2022

German prosecutors have charged a Russian citizen with espionage, alleging he had passed information on aerospace technology, in particular the European Space Agency’s Ariane launch vehicle, to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. Prosecutors said today that the man had worked as a researcher at a Bavarian university until his arrest last summer.

Jan 26, 2022

The California of San Jose is considering legislation which would require gun owners to have liability insurance against firearms injuries or accidents. If approved, it would be unprecedented in the U.S. and some critics argue that it would violate their constitutional right to bear arms.

Jan 26, 2022

The Bank of Canada opted today to hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.25 per cent, where it been since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to ensure that low-cost lending would keep the economy afloat. Now the bank, like many of its foreign counterparts, is under pressure to begin raising rates to counter rising inflation. Its next rate announcement is scheduled for March 2.

Jan 26, 2022

A key player behind the convoy travelling to Ottawa to protest a coronavirus vaccine mandate for truckers is trying to damp down increasingly extremist online rhetoric associated with the protest. With convoy is expected to arrive at Parliament Hill over the weekend, Tamara Lich turned to social media Jan. 25, asking that “if you see participants along the way that are misbehaving, acting aggressively in any way or inciting any type of violence or hatred, please take down the truck number and their licence plate number so that we can forward that to the police.”

Jan 26, 2022

A trucker convoy making its way across the country toward Ottawa this weekend is being cheered along the way by Conservative MPs who oppose the government’s mandatory coronavirus vaccination policies. The truckers have a specific focus but are being supported by anti-vaxxers who see mandated policies generally as a violation of their constitutional rights and who have used social media to express anti-government and violent sentiments.

Jan 26, 2022

A Mexican prosecutor said Jan. 25 that the killing of two Canadians at a Caribbean coast resort last week was motivated by debts between gangs apparently involved in drug and weapons trafficking. The victims both had criminal records at home, one of them a known felon with a history of robbery, drug and weapons offences. A Canadian woman hospitalized after the attack has been unable to speak to investigators.

Jan 26, 2022

In a continued crackdown on dissidents, the Russia interior ministry today issued an arrest warrant for the brother of jailed critic Alexey Navalny. Oleg Navalny is sought on unspecified criminal charges a day after the prison authority asked to have a suspended sentence for allegedly violating coronavirus rules converted to incarceration.

Jan 26, 2022

A Boston hospital has removed a 31-year-old patient from its heart transplant list at least in part because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. His father says his son "doesn't believe in it.” The hospital says that “given the shortage of available organs, we do everything we can to ensure that a patient who receives a transplanted organ has the greatest chance of survival.”

Jan 25, 2022

George Chahal, the lone Liberal MP from Calgary, has paid a $500 fine after a doorbell camera captured him removing an opponent's campaign flyer on the eve of the last general election. The incident sparked an investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections and Chahal apologized on social media for his “mistake.”

Jan 25, 2022

Families of Canadian diplomatic staff stationed in Kyiv have been withrawn by the government “due to the ongoing Russian military buildup and destabilizing activities in and around Ukraine,” Global Affairs confirmed today. “We have decided to temporarily withdraw Canadian embassy staff's children under 18 years of age and family members accompanying them.”

Jan 25, 2022

Reaffirming federal policy that vaccination is the “most effective tool” against the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government said today it will not yield to pressure from cross-border truckers to back down. Backed by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the industry has had months to comply with a vaccine mandate which is “for the protection of truck drivers but also for the protection of our supply chains and our economy.”

Jan 25, 2022

More than 866,000 U.S. residents are known to have tied from coronavirus since the pandemic began two years ago and new statistics show that the daily average now is more than 2,000. A large percentage are either older than 65 or unvaccinated.

Jan 25, 2022

Benjamin Brière, a 36-year-old French tourist, has been sentenced in Iran to eight year for espionage even as his country’s foreign ministry said the case had “no basis in fact.” Arrested in May 2020 for flying a drone near Iran’s border with Turkmenistan, he was tried in a closed-door Revolutionary Court.

Jan 25, 2022

The New Brunswick government, the RCMP and Facebook are being sued by a physician who was accused in 2020 of breaking coronavirus rules and being “patient zero” as the pandemic erupted. Lawyers for Dr. Jean-Robert Ngola, who now practises in Quebec, filed a claim for damages with the Court of Queen's Bench in Moncton last week. The suit alleges, among other things, “institutional anti-Black systemic racism,” abuse of power, negligence, defamation, malicious prosecution and a breach of Ngola’s charter rights.

Jan 25, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that 24 Sussex Drive, his official residence, is in “terrible condition” and he has no plans to move in. He said the 154-year-old building “has been neglected by many generations of politicians and prime ministers.” The former lumber baron’s house on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River was acquired by the government in 1946 and is managed by the National Capital Commission. “This is an historic building . . . but we also have concerns about its safety.” Trudeau said.

Jan 25, 2022

Norway is hosting talks between Taliban representatives and western officials in Oslo this week for the first talks in Europe since the group took control of Afghanistan. Human rights and the escalating humanitarian crisis are key issues.

Jan 25, 2022

Airbus Industries has escalated a legal fight with Qatar Airways by cancelling a $6-billion contract to supply 50 new A321neo passenger jets. The company was sued for US$618 million plus a daily penalty of $4 million in a British court last month, claiming that there is a safety issue with paint problems on 21 of 53 of the carrier’s A350s. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency found no safety concerns and Airbus says

Jan 25, 2022

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is calling for “prompt, effective and transparent” investigation of Saudi-led air attacks in Yemen. A migrant detention centre in Saada city was bombed Jan. 20 and Iran-backed Houthi rebels and aid groups say there were at least 82 dead.

Jan 25, 2022

Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Mackay says the federal government’s handling of a Chinese company’s takeover of a British-based lithium-mining company with a property in Argentina has been “absurd.” He says that in deciding the Neo Lithium takeover was not a national security issue for Canada, “we are allowing China to capture an even greater presence over resources critical to the green transition.”

Jan 25, 2022

The Chinese takeover of a lithium-mining company raised no national security issues for the federal government, says Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s parliamentary secretary, Andy Fillmore. He told a parliamentary committe that an industry department review last fall concluded that Neo Lithium is a British-based company with a mining lease in Argentina and only three “paper” Canadian employees so that it could list on the Toronto Stock Exchange to get financing.

Jan 24, 2022

Steve Shand, the Florida man charged in the human smuggling case that resulted in the deaths of four persons in Manitoba metres from the U.S. border last week is being released for custody, subject to strict conditions. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer said she believes these conditions will assure his appearance in court. Investigators believe the victims were part of a larger group of Indian migrants.

Jan 24, 2022

Five years after he was freed due to a lack of evidence, Ottawa academic Hassan Diab faces the prospect of a new trial in connection with a bombing in Paris 40 years ago. Prosecutors said today they are planning a trial next year but have not requested extradition. The French appeals court last year overturned a lower court decision to release Diab but that has been rejected by the senior Court of Cassation, which has ordered the new trial even though French investigators concluded he was in Lebanon writing university exams at the time of the attack.

Jan 24, 2022

The U.S. has suspended 44 flights to China by Chinese airlines over the next two months as a spat over coronavirus pandemic-related travel rules escalates. between the United States and China. The Department of Transportation notice was issued Jan. 20 “in response” to Chinese aviation authorities orders which forced US carriers to cancel the same number of flights.

Jan 24, 2022

The Russia navy is planning live-fire exercises in international waters southwest of Ireland but within its offshore economic management zone, posing a potential threat to commercial aviation. in the region. "We don't have the power to prevent this happening,” Simon Coveney, Ireland’s minister of foreign affairs and defence, acknowledged today. “I've made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it's not welcome.”

Jan 24, 2022

Global Affairs Canada access some “internet-based services” evidently remained unavailable today after a “cyber incident” Jan. 19. While it remains unclear whether there is a direct link, the breach was discovered on the same day the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security warned operators of critical infrastructure to be ready for a Russia-based threat.

Jan 24, 2022

Britain’s High Court ruled today that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can petition the Supreme Court to block his extradition to the U.S., which wants to prosecute him for releasing thousands of classified documents a decade ago. The High Court’s chief justice said Assange's case had raised a legal question over the circumstances in which judges received and considered assurances from the U.S. about how he could be treated in prison.

Jan 24, 2022

As vaccinated majorities in wealthier countries become increasingly impatient with science-denying minorities who refuse or oppose vaccination, stretching critical care resources, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a debate about how hospital admissions are handled.

Jan 24, 2022

A prominent Turkish journalist has been detained by authorities for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “There is a very famous proverb that says that a crowned head becomes wiser, but we see it is not true,” Sedef Kabas said on live television. “A bull does not become king just by entering the palace, but the palace becomes a barn.” Facing up to four years in prison, she is the latest among thousands who have been charged with insulting the NATO country’s leader.

Jan 24, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked Canada for a $120-million loan designed to support his country's economy as Russia continues its military buildup along its border with Ukraine. Canada has the third-largest Ukrainian population, some 1.3 million, in the world after Russia and Ukraine itself.

Jan 24, 2022

Russia’s ambassador to Canada says Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has an “open invitation” to visit Moscow to meet with officials. Oleg Stepanov said Jan. 23 that the invitation was extended in December and that Joly had “expressed her interest. Joly’s office has confirmed receipt of the invitation but had yet to respond.

Jan 24, 2022

The families of all personnel at the U.S. embassy in Kiyv have been ordered to leave as fears of a Russian invasion increase. The State Department said Jan. 23 that non-essential embassy staff also could leave at government expense.

Jan 21, 2022

The exposure deaths of four persons on the edge of Manitoba’s border with the U.S. this week after a van linked to the victims was intercepted in North Dakota has led to human smuggling charges being laid against a Florida man.

Jan 20, 2022

A suggestion Jan. 19 by President Joe Biden that the U.S. might limit its response to any “minor incursion” into Ukraine has angered Ukraine President Volodymyr. “There are no minor incursions,” Zelensky said on social media today. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”

Jan 20, 2022

RCMP say four people, one an infant, were found dead Jan. 19 in Manitoba within metres of the U.S. border. They are believed to have died from exposure. The RCMP began a search after being notified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers who apprehended a group which had items meant for an infant but did not have a child with them.

Jan 20, 2022

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Muslim woman to death for “blasphemy” by using the WhatsApp messaging platform to share images deemed to be insulting to the prophet Muhammad and one of his wives. The woman testified that she was lured into an online religious discussion with a man she refused to befriend and her conviction, which is mandatory by law in such cases, is subject to appeal.

Jan 20, 2022

Canada Post employees risk being sent home during the coronavirus pandemic if they opt to wear masks not issued by their employer even if their own choice can be more effective. “The mask requirements, like our vaccine mandate, are mandatory,” a post office official said, citing direction from Employment and Social Development Canada.

Jan 20, 2022

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is being urged by more than 400 climate scientists and other academics to abandon a planned tax credit for companies which build carbon capture and storage facilities. The idea was broached in last year’s federal budget and design consultations were completed last month. In a letter to Freeland, the scientists decry it as a huge subsidy to the petroleum industry and contradictory to the government’s climate change commitments.

Jan 20, 2022

Major international airlines resumed scheduled flights to the U.S. today after a flurry of cancellations Jan. 19 over concerns about possible systems issues caused by the rollout 5G mobile telecom services which operate in a frequency band also used in aviation.

Jan 20, 2022

The RCMP says militant critics of mandatory masks and lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic have been carrying out more protests at politicians’ homes as well as their constituency offices. “Nobody in the course of doing their job should be faced with threats of violence, threats to their family” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says. “That applies for health-care workers or for politicians or anyone else.”

Jan 19, 2022

Afghanistan’s acting prime minister, Mullah Hasan Akhund, wants foreign governments, particularly those of other Islamic countries, to officially recognise the Taliban administration. His first major public appearance since assuming office last September, it included appeals by other Taliban for less foreign restrictions on Afghanistan’s finances.

Jan 19, 2022

Driven mainly by rising food prices, the Consumer Price Index reported by Statistics Canada today increased by an annualized 4.8 per cent in December. Supply-chair problemsremain a key factor.

Jan 19, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has invited Russia to more talks on the Ukraine crisis as fears mount over a possible breakout of conflict, but Moscow continues to insist on security demands as a precondition. Stoltenberg did not give any dates for a potential resumption, saying only that it been suggested for the “near future.”

Jan 19, 2022

Canada’s major scheduled service and charter airlines have cancelled thousands of flights as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve but one lamented “government barriers” to travel. WestJet CEO Harry Taylor said Jan. 19 that “we continue to advocate for the elimination of cumbersome travel rules that are unnecessarily impacting Canadians and prolonging the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.”

Jan 19, 2022

Nearly three months after the U.S. took similar action, the federal government has cancelled contracts with the Canadian subsidiary of a Malaysian company for the supply nitrile gloves for health care providers. Public Services and Procurement had been holding deliveries since November pending a review of the supplier’s operations.

Jan 19, 2022

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has told a parliamentary committee that the coronavirus may become endemic. “Many experts believe that so-called herd immunity may not be achievable with this virus because it undergoes constant evolution,” Dr. Tam said Jan. 18. “So what you’re looking at is this endemic state where people will get reinfected over time as immunity wanes.”

Jan 18, 2022

A day before their scheduled rollout of 5G cellular service, the two largest U.S. providers, Verizon and AT&T, are delaying it near some airports to address concerns about interference with aircraft electronics. Neither said which airports were affected but their Jan. 18 announcement followed an airlines’ warning to Transportation Secretary about potential chaos.

Jan 18, 2022

Air Canada, WestJet and Toronto International Airport have asked Ottawa to drop its requirement for vaccinated travellers to be tested for coronavirus on arrival. “As the government has ramped up testing at airports for international arrivals, we have seen frontline workers struggle to get PCR tests, and lab processing capacity decrease significantly,” they said Jan. 17. “There is a growing discrepancy between resources allocated to asymptomatic travellers and to those who need it most.”

Jan 18, 2022

Health Canada has authorized the use of the first oral and at-home antiviral treatment developed by Pfizer. However, it stresses that it is suitable only for adults with mild to moderate cases or at high risk of becoming seriously ill. Nor is it intended prevent infections or to treat patients hospitalized due to severe cases and it cannot be taken for longer than five consecutive days. “No drug . . . is a substitute for vaccination,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, the department’s chief medical adviser, said Jan. 17.

Jan 18, 2022

An additional contingent of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel were deployed to Ukraine last week, apparently to coordinate the evacuation of diplomatic personnel in the event of a Russian invasion. CANSOFCOM points out that its other members have been involved in Canada’s broader support for Ukraine since 2020.

Jan 18, 2022

Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta asked Justice Minister Kaycee Madu to “step back” Jan. 17 pending a review of whether he improperly Edmonton’s police chief about a traffic ticket 10 months ago. Police say he was ticked for using a cellphone in a school zone and although Madu didn’t contest the ticket, he felt he was “unlawfully surveilled” due to the fact he is black.

Jan 18, 2022

A Nuclear Waste Management Organization plan to ship thousands of spent reactor fuel rods in interim storage in four provinces to a proposed permanent storage site in Ontario has rekindled a decades-long debate about safety. With a decision on the location of the $23-billion project expected next year, scientists continue to study bedrock in the region where the deep geologic facility is likely to be located.

Jan 18, 2022

As concern continued to grow in Ukraine about Russian troop buildups along its borders, Russia began withdrawing dozens of diplomatic families from its embassy in Kyiv and a consulate in Lviv. The withdrawal earlier this month also saw personnel at two other consulates advised to be ready to return to Moscow.

Jan 18, 2022

As the two largest U.S. telecom service providers, AT&T and Verizon, prepared to roll out 5G services Jan. 19, the largest U.S. airlines are reiterating warnings about potential “major disruptions” from conflict with navigation systems. In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, they urged “immediate intervention” to prevent what they say is a “completely avoidable economic calamity.”

Jan 17, 2022

Responding to a request from 12 federal public service unions for clarity about working from home during the pandemic, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier says that while a “one size fits all” policy isn’t practicable for 100 department and agencies, she says some work cannot be done from home. “Each department will have its own operational requirements . . . and as it has been the case throughout the pandemic, there are some public servants whose work cannot be done remotely.”

Jan 17, 2022

Transport Canada says more than 1,700 airline passengers refused to wear masks against coronavirus during flights on domestic carriers last year and that 959 cases resulted in enforcement action, ranging from warnings to fines. WestJet, with a zero tolerance, has banned 163 customers since Sept. 1, 2020 for refusing to respect masking rules but says those represent a tiny fraction of its passengers.

Jan 17, 2022

The International Labour Organization, a UN agency headquartered in Geneva, said today that global employment cannot recover to pre-pandemic levels until at least next year. In its latest annual outlook, it expects a shortfall of full-time equivalent jobs at some 52 million and that hours worked would be two per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

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