In the News

May 22, 2020

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

May 22, 2020

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

May 22, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 21, 2020

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

May 20, 2020

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

May 20, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

 

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 19, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 15, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 14, 2020

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

May 13, 2020

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

May 13, 2020

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

May 13, 2020

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

May 13, 2020

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

May 12, 2020

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

May 12, 2020

The Canada Border Services Agency has investigated more than 500 allegations against its officers in the last couple of years. Heavily-redacted documents indicate issues with, among other things, excessive use of force, sexually-inappropriate behaviour and disappearance of valuables.

May 12, 2020

The U.S. Senate has been warned by senior government health officials that if the country is reopened too quickly, there would he “needless suffering and death.” That’s according to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the officials who testified by video-link to the Senate health education, labor and pensions committee. He shared his views in a pre-appearance email to a New York Times reporter.

May 11, 2020

The federal government is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program for companies affected by COVID-19. Originally due to expire 06 June, the 12-week package gives eligible companies a subsidy equal to 75 per cent of employees’ wages up to $846 per week.

May 11, 2020

A Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility announced 11 May by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is designed to give companies in all sectors access to additional liquidity to maintain operations and avoid having to considered bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “These are bridge loans, not bailouts,” the PM explained. 

May 11, 2020

The head of the British parliament’s defence committee wants clarification of reports that Republicans in the Senate want a ban on deployment of military aircraft to countries which open their telecom networks to Chinese technologies. Tobias Ellwood has warned his Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, that “even the airing of such disagreements between us and our closest security ally is unhelpful in a time when global stability is at the lowest it has been for a generation.”

May 11, 2020

Eight companies have been selected by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to develop technology and standards for tracking unmanned aerial vehicles and their operators as part of a new regulatory regime. Drones would be tagged with unique radio wave identifiers accessible by air traffic control towers, law enforcement and the public to improve safety and accountability in controlled airspace.

May 08, 2020

Even though the Supreme Court of Canada ruled near two decades ago that Canadians do not have a constitutional right “to bear arms”, a lobby group has retained a Calgary lawyer to challenge the federal government’s recent decision to ban so-called “assault rifles.” The Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights cites Section 7 of the Charter of Rights which guarantees “life, liberty and security of the person.”

May 07, 2020

Even as many U.S. healthcare facilities were struggling to keep essential personnel protected against COVID-19 with N95 masks, the Transportation Security stockpiled more than 1.3 million even though its need had been diminished by the massive global drop in air traffic. Suggestions that they should be redirected to where they were needed were dismissed.

May 07, 2020

A pregnant Ottawa woman is stranded in New York City with her American husband after Canadian Border Services agents refused the husband’s entry, contrary to the government’s stated COVID-19 policy. The couple, who both work in the NYC high-tech sector, had planned to self-quarantine. The COVID-19 entry ban, reiterated by the Prime Minister 16 March, specifically does not apply to spouses of Canadian citizens.

May 06, 2020

Less than 24 hours after he said his COVID-19 task force headed by Vice-President Mike Pence would be disbanded within weeks, President Donald Trump said 06 May that it would “continue on indefinitely.” He said its membership would change “as appropriate” as it focuses on “vaccines and therapeutics” while his administration presses on with “opening up our country again.”

May 06, 2020

The U.S. COVID-19 task force headed by Vice-President Mike Pence is to be disbanded within weeks. In confirming the decision 05 May, President Donald Trump said “we're now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening” the economy even as the U.S. confirms rising infection rates and more than 71,000 deaths.

May 05, 2020

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre and its U.S. counterpart, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, are investigating persistent attempts to gain access to COVID-19 intellectual property and research. “Pharmaceutical companies, medical research organizations, and universities . . . are attractive targets,” they say in a joint alert. While the notice does not name specific threats, British authorities suspect that Russia, Iran and China were responsible for recent but unsuccessful attacks.

May 05, 2020

On May 4th, Conservative Members of Parliament sent an open letter to Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, urging Health Canada to approve a new drug to treat Cystic Fibrosis. Approved in the U.S. in October 2019, the manufacturer has not submitted it to Health Canada for testing due to pending regulatory changes in Canada.

May 05, 2020

Health Canada is warning of a 58% spike in accidental household poisonings due to cleaning product exposure, including bleaches (most common), disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and chlorine and chloramine gases.

May 05, 2020

An Amazon vice president has quit over the firing of employees who spoke up about unsafe conditions inside its warehouses. The firings came amid growing concerns from workers drawing attention to a lack of personal protective equipment. Workers in Canada have also expressed concern over the safety policies at Amazon.

May 05, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois are aligned with his minority governments’ legislative plan to prohibit “assault style” guns. While the ban went into effect immediately last week, a proposed compensation plan and other elements of the initiative require a legal framework.

May 04, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other political leaders in an online conference to pledge the equivalent of at least $11.23 billion for development of a COVID-19 vaccine, diagnostics and therapies. Canada’s commitment is $850 million with the rest coming from European Union and non-EU states. The U.S. did not participate in the conference.

May 04, 2020

An internal Chinese report warns that growing international hostility due to COVID-19 could tip relations with the U.S. into outright confrontation. Prepared by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a think-tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, it evidently was presented to the Chinese leadership last month.

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.

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