In the News

Jan 17, 2022

The global British-based charity Oxfam reported today that the coronavirus pandemic has made the world's wealthiest far richer while landing more people living in poverty and contributing to the death of 21,000 people daily. “What's happening is off the scale,” said Oxfam GB chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah. “Something is deeply flawed with our economic system.”

Jan 17, 2022

Russia’s intelligence service said that information provided by the U.S. enabled it to shut down the REvil ransomware group and charged several of its members on the weekend. “The organised criminal association has ceased to exist and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralised,” the agency said.

Jan 17, 2022

A former Haitian Senator, John Joel Joseph, has been arrested in Jamaica in connection with the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse last July. Haitian police have accused Joseph of supplying weapons and planning meetings.

Jan 17, 2022

Houthi rebels are said to be responsible for a drone attack which killed at least three persons and sparked fuel tanker truck explosions near Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates today. The Yemen-backed rebel group said it would be issuing a statement about “a special military operation that was carried out in the heart of the UAE.”

Jan 17, 2022

An Egyptian expatriate imprisoned in 2007 by his homeland on expedited espionage charges, has returned to Toronto after spending 15 years in prison. Egypt alleged that Joseph Attar had used his position as a CIBC teller to provide account data to Israel and while he confessed, he insists that he was “pressured psychologically and physically (to) admit things that I didn't say.”

Jan 15, 2022

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported Jan. 14 that FedEx wants to operate aircraft fitted with lasers as a countermeasure against missiles. The proposed system “deflects infrared laser energy toward an incoming missile, in an effort to interrupt the missile's tracking of the aircraft's heat,” the regulator explained. “In recent years, in several incidents abroad, civilian aircraft were fired upon by man-portable air defense systems.”

Jan 15, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly leaves for Ukraine Jan. 16 for a six-day visit which is scheduled to include meetings with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Deputy PPM Olga Stefanishyna and probably Canadian troops deployed on Operation Unifier. “The amassing of Russian troops and equipment in and around Ukraine jeopardizes security in the entire region. These aggressive actions must be deterred,” Joly said today. “Canada will work with its international partners to uphold the rules-based international order and preserve the human rights and dignity of Ukrainians.”

Jan 15, 2022

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has been tasked by the Prime Minister with reviewing the RCMP’s contract policing services, which it currently provides to some 150 municipalities and the northern territories as well as in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec. The review is in response to long-standing complaints about racism and use of force in some areas.

Jan 15, 2022

The Portuguese capital’s government has been fined €1.25 million by the country’s data commissioner for giving the Russian, Chinese, Israeli embassies in Lisbon personal details about protesters at 52 rallies in the last three years.

Jan 14, 2022

Digital assets worth some $400 million were stolen in at least seven North Korean hacks last year, says New York-based Chainalysis Inc. Calling 2021 one of the most successful years on record, the software company said “the value extracted . . . grew by 40 per cent” from 2020 when four hacks were recorded.

Jan 14, 2022

An employee of the government-funded British Council, which promotes arts and culture as way of building international bridges, has returned to Britain after having been jailed for more than three years in Iran, Aras Amiri, an Iranian expatriate, had been sentenced to 10 years on spurious espionage charges during a family visit but her conviction was overturned by Iran’s Supreme Court as being against Shariah law.

Jan 14, 2022

Britain’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency, MI5, says an alleged Chinese agent has infiltrated Parliament to interfere in U.K. politics. It said in an official alert this week that Christine Ching Kui Lee had “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs, including donations linked to China and Hong Kong. Barry Gardner, a former member of the Labour shadow cabinet member reported to have received more than £420,000 over five years, said he had always made security services aware of the funding.

Jan 14, 2022

A former U.S. paratrooper who leads the far-right Oath Keepers militia has been charged with seditious conspiracy over the mob attack on Congress a year ago. Arrested at home in Texas, Stewart Rhodes is among 11 persons charged Jan. 13 and the Justice Department has accused him of military-style tactics in coordinating the attack.

Jan 14, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the administration’s proposal to require companies with more than 100 employees to have them vaccinated against the coronavirus or at least be tested weekly. However, in its Jan. 13 ruling, the court did permit a requirement that workers at federally-supported healthcare works should be vaccinated.

Jan 14, 2022

Three rockets launched from a nearby neighbourhood targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone Jan. 13 while a fourth landed in a nearby residential complex. The Iraqi military said a girl and a woman were injured in the latest in a series of drone and rocket attacks this month on the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Jan 14, 2022

While some jurisdictions are easing pandemic restrictions, other parts of Canada are clamping down, depending on their governments’ perceptions of whether the coronavirus curve is flattening or has yet to peak.

Jan 14, 2022

The websites of seven Ukrainian government ministries and other services were rendered temporarily unavailable today by what the foreign ministry says was a huge cyberattack. A ministry official said that while it was too early to assign blame, “there is a long record of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine.” The hackers said in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish that Ukrainians should “be afraid expect the worst.”

Jan 14, 2022

A Vancouver-based health services provider said Jan. 13 that homeless and vulnerable people have offered payment to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by persons trying to fraudulently obtain a vaccine card. “This behaviour is deplorable and we're disappointed that anyone would take advantage of vulnerable people in this way,” Vancouver Coastal health said, warning that “future instances of fraud may be forwarded to local police authorities.”

Jan 14, 2022

The minimum hourly wage in Nova Scotia will rise by 40 cents to $13.35 in April and Premier Tim Houston said Jan. 13 that further increases recommended by a review committee would be discussed. If implemented, those would see increases to $13.60 in October and to $15 by April 2024. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said that while the increase this spring is based on the Consumer Price Index, it is below a “living wage” and should be more than $22 an hour.

Jan 13, 2022

Contrary to a CBSA spokesperson’s statement the previous day, the government said Jan. 13 that all truckers entering Canada from the U.S. must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus as of Jan. 15. “The information shared yesterday was provided in error,” the health, transport and public ministers said. “Our teams have been in touch with industry representatives to ensure they have the correct information.”

Jan 13, 2022

New York-based Human Rights Watch said today that Canada has serious domestic and foreign policy challenges on the watchdog’s issues list. Acknowledging that the Trudeau administration has made progress on rights during its six years in office, it has fallen short on, among other things, indigenous equality, climate change and Canadian companies’ foreign mining activities.

Jan 13, 2022

Canada is signing on with Mexico's official request for arbitration to resolve a claim that the U.S. is violating the trilateral 2019 trade agreement by insisting on “all American” electric vehicles. with its stance on automobile parts. “A dispute settlement panel will help ensure a timely resolution,” International Trade and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng said today.

Jan 13, 2022

Opposition MPs on the House of Commons standing committee on information, privacy and ethics wants Health Minister Yves Duclos and Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, to justify the Public Health Agency of Canada’s collection of data from millions of mobile phones to understand travel patterns during the coronavirus. The MPs fear that customers’ privacy could be compromised even though the PHAC is seeking anonymized data.

Jan 13, 2022

Anwar Raslan, a former Syrian security officer, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court today of crimes against humanity. Having entered Germany on a visa in 2014 and arrested five years later, he was accused of overseeing a detention center in Damascus where prosecutors said thousands of prisons were tortured and dozens killed during the ongoing civil war.

Jan 13, 2022

Commenting on Quebec’s proposed financial penalty for people who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus without specific medical exemptions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Jan. 12 that “incentives and strong measures” have worked in the past. “Whether it’s vaccine passports, whether it’s requirements for travellers, whether it’s the requirement for public servants to be fully vaccinated, we have taken very strong measures in the past and they have worked in terms of keeping Canadians safe.”

Jan 13, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is worried that the alliance’s failure to achieve a breakthrough over Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders could lead to war. He said Jan. 12 that the talks had come at “a defining moment for European security” because “significant differences between allies and Russia . . . will not be easy to bridge” and “there is a real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe.”

Jan 13, 2022

U.S. Cyber Command said Jan. 12 that Iran’s intelligence apparatus has been using multiple hacking tools against computer networks “around the world.” One vehicle is a hacking group known as Muddy Water which has tried to snatch data from telecommunications companies and others across the Middle East and elsewhere.

Jan 13, 2022

The International Energy Agency said today that Canada needs more electrical generating capacity to meet the government’s stated emissions reduction and climate change targets. “Canada's wealth of clean electricity and its innovative spirit can help drive a secure and affordable transformation of its energy system and help realize its ambitious goals,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. However, even with 83 per cent of its power coming from non-emitting power, more was needed.

Jan 13, 2022

Changes to France’s coronavirus testing protocols in school are causing “chaos” and “putting teachers' lives in danger,” a union representative said today amidst a nationwide strike. The education ministry said some 31 per cent of all teachers were off the job in protest, including 58 per cent in Paris.

Jan 13, 2022

The Bulgarian government’s coronavirus passport initiative resulted in a mass demonstration orchestrated by the ultra-nationalist Revival party outside the parliament in Sofia Jan. 12. They managed to reach the front doors before they were pushed back by police, some of whom were injured.

Jan 12, 2022

Just days before coronavirus vaccination was scheduled to become mandatory for all truckers entering from the U.S., the federal government is backing away from the plan. A CBSA spokesperson said Jan. 12 that unvaccinated Canadian truckers will remain exempt from testing and quarantine requirements but those will remain in effort for unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated foreign nationals

Jan 12, 2022

Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné says RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki failed to fulfill her obligations under the RCMP Act to respond “as soon as feasible” to findings by the Civilian Review and Complaints. “It is in the public interest to have a police oversight institution that functions properly and is unobstructed,” Gagné says. Her ruling flows from the fact that it took the CRCC six years to act on a B.C. Civil Liberties Association complaint that the RCMP was spying on opponents of a pipeline project.

Jan 12, 2022

The U.S. government is being told by one of its own agencies that it must strengthen policies that protect scientific advice used in decision-making. “Political intrusion into the conduct, management, communication, and use (or misuse) of science has a severe impact on public trust,” a committee of the National Science and Technology Council,” says in a report released by the White House Jan. 11. It is essentially a reaction to four years of former President Donald Trump’s persistent undermining of government scientists.

Jan 12, 2022

SolarWinds, a Texas-based IT management and software company, reported Jan. 11 that hackers have supplanted insiders as the largest source of security threats to the U.S. public sector. Some 56 per cent of the 400 respondents to a commissioned survey said the hacker community was a key issue for public sector organizations, followed by careless or untrained insiders at 52 per cent and foreign governments at 47 per cent. Concern evidently was higher at the state and local level than federally.

Jan 12, 2022

It was disclosed Jan. 10 that Lars Findsen, head of Denmark's foreign intelligence agency since 2015, has been in prison for a month for allegedly leaking classified information to news media. Findsen, who has called the charges “completely insane”, was arrested in Dec. 8 at Copenhagen Airport. Four other current and former members of intelligence agencies also were arrested but have been released.

Jan 11, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was told by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Jan. 11 that the west must be ready to impose further economic sanctions against Russia for its military buildup on his country's eastern border. The message was delivered during a telephone call on the eve of today’s NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels.

Jan 11, 2022

The World Bank’s latest forecast is for global growth to slow to 4.1 per cent this year from 5.5 in 2021 due to ongoing coronavirus threats, unwinding government support programs and fading demand. Bank President David Malpass said Jan. 11 that as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on growth, especially in poor countries, the outlook is “grim.”

Jan 11, 2022

The World Economic Forum said today that cybersecurity and space are emerging risks to the global economy, adding to existing challenges posed by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest Global Risks Report, usually released ahead of the annual Davos gathering of corporate and political leaders, the WEC predicts that the global economy will continue to shrink with richer nations faring better than poorer ones.

Jan 11, 2022

There was a 6.2 per cent surge in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions last year as Americans who were mostly closeted during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic returned to more normal lives. “It is clear that the climate crisis is . . . having devastating consequences,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, said Jan. 11. “When we hear that emissions are going back up, that is extraordinarily worrisome.”

Jan 11, 2022

Results of a peer-reviewed study published today in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences shows that the world’s oceans last year were at their warmest in recorded history as average temperatures rose for the sixth consecutive year. “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” commented report co-author Kevin Trenberth, distinguished scholar at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Jan 11, 2022

Premier François Legault said today that Quebec adults who refuse coronavirus vaccination for non-medical reasons can expect a financial penalty. While he was not specific, he did say $50 or $100 “is not significant” enough. “These people . . . put a very important burden on our health-care network.”

Jan 11, 2022

The U.S. administration today announced an additional $308 million humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan in a bid to prevent a crisis which has evolved since the Taliban takeover last fall. To be managed by aid organizations, it is to fund shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Jan 11, 2022

David Sassoli, an Italian journalist and social activist who became President of the European Parliament in July 2019, died today at the age of 65 after a steady decline in his health over the last few months.

Jan 11, 2022

A First Nation in south-central Alberta is accusing the provincial government of ignoring federal legislation which would enable it to control its own child welfare services. The tribe sought an agreement with the two levels of government in October 2020 under the auspices of Bill C-92, passed by Parliament in June 2019, which permits indigenous jurisdiction. The legislation states that if an agreement isn’t in place within a year of the request, indigenous law takes precedence. Darin Keewatin, executive director of child welfare for the Louis Bull Tribe, says Alberta has refused to cooperate.

Jan 11, 2022

With a population of 5.5 million, the Chinese city of Anyang is the third major centre to be locked down in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic after two cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed. The Jan. 10 move brings the total reported lockdown to some 20 million; 10 million have been locked down in Xi’an since late December and 1.1 million in Yuzhou since earlier this month.

Jan 11, 2022

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health for 12 years, abruptly resigned Jan. 10, citing public resistance to medical advice during the coronavirus pandemic. He explained that “recent remarks made on the credibility of our opinions and on our scientific rigour undoubtedly cause a certain erosion in the adhesion of the population.”

Jan 11, 2022

The House of Commons standing committee on information, privacy and ethics is being asked by Opposition MPs to investigate the Public Health Agency of Canada’s collection of mobile phone data to understand travel patterns during the pandemic. Ontario Conservative John Brassard, a member of the committee, says it’s an excuse to undermine Canadians’ privacy.

Jan 11, 2022

Growing coronavirus cases in Canada, notably the Omicron variant, prompted the U.S. Jan. 10 to advise its citizens to forego travel due to a “very high” risk of infection.

Jan 11, 2022

Members of the House of Commons and Senate are being warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about attempts by China and other “adversarial” states to influence how they participate in parliamentary debates and decision-making.

Jan 11, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told provincial and territorial premiers Jan. 10 that the federal government has enough coronavirus vaccine to enable all eligible Canadians to receive boosters as well as fourth shots where advised. He also confirmed plans to deliver 140 million rapid tests.

Jan 10, 2022

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov today told his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, that there is no plan to invade Ukraine despite massing an estimated 100,000 troops along its border. They met in Geneva for seven hours for what Sherman said were “frank and forthright” talks which yielded no major breakthrough as the two sides agreed to continue efforts to reduce tensions.

Jan 10, 2022

The largest astronomical mirror in space, the $10-billion James Webb telescope, was unfolded on the weekend, two weeks after it was launched toward a distant orbit, the latest stage in a 30-year joint effort by U.S., European and Canadian space agencies. In return for access to data, the Canadian Space Agency has contributed a near-infrared imager/spectrograph and a fine guidance sensor.

Jan 10, 2022

The two largest U.S. telecoms, AT&T and Verizon agreed today to work with 5G buffer zones around 50 airports to protect aircraft electronics from interference. They also agreed to postpone deployment of the potentially disrupted technology for two weeks. A Federal Aviation Administration list of the buffered airports includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas.

Jan 10, 2022

Twenty-seven passengers aboard a rowdy Sunwing charter flight to Mexico from Montreal faced a Canada Border Services Agency grilling on their return. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos confirmed the “influencers” return after Sunwing had cancelled their flight home and several other carriers refused to take them. Images and videos from the flight showed passengers ignoring public health measures and other inappropriate behaviours which are now being review by the Quebec government for possible legal action.

Jan 10, 2022

Canadian oilsands producers are managing to export record volumes of heavy crude despite constrained pipeline capacity. This is due to the recent reversal of a Marathon Pipe Line link to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. India reportedly is the leading buyer followed by China and South Korea. “With Venezuelan crude exports having tanked in recent years, and now with the prospect of Mexican crude being taken off the market, Canadian crude appears to be one of the leading beneficiaries of these changing dynamics,” one analyst says

Jan 10, 2022

Three suspected pirates detained for six weeks aboard a Danish warship after an exchange of gunfire in the Gulf of Guinea were released in a small dinghy off Nigeria after Denmark said it had not been able to find a country in the region which would take them. They were given enough food and fuel to get to shore. Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said his government’s decision would deter other piracy, adding that if the suspects had been taken to Denmark, there was a “risk that they would not subsequently be deported.”

Jan 10, 2022

French authorities say more than 105,000 people have demonstrated across the country against a coronavirus pass law being considered by the National Assembly. If passed, it would take effect Jan. 15, banning unvaccinated people from public activities, but it could be delayed in the Senate.

Jan 10, 2022

A University of B.C. think-tank which receives some federal funding is proposing a progressive property tax on homes sold for more than $1 million as part of a plan to subsidize “affordable” housing. Average prices across the country in November were at a record $720,000 but even so, sales also continued at record levels.

Jan 10, 2022

The federal government is pushing ahead with a vaccine mandate for international truckers despite arguments that it would exacerbate driver shortages and drive up the price of imports from the U.S. Beginning Jan. 15, arriving truckers must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, a requirement the Canadian Trucking Alliance says block access by 16,000 or 10 per cent.

Jan 10, 2022

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced today to four more years in prison for what the military-run government says was illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus restrictions. The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate was sentenced last month to four years on two other charges and while that was halved, trials on other charges are pending.

Jan 10, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is not ruling out the possibility of Canada sending weapons to Ukraine as Russia increases its troops presence along its border. However, she stressed Jan. 9 that NATO’s focus is on diplomatic initiatives, which was “exactly why I had on Friday an important meeting with all the foreign ministers. . . . Ukraine's security is Europe's security and therefore it is the world and Canada's security.”

Jan 10, 2022

New European Union analysis of climate change data indicates that the last seven years have been the seven warmest on record for the planet, and that last year was the fifth-warmest on record. “The really important thing is not get hung up on the ranking of one particular year but rather kind of see the bigger picture.” Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said today. “This is quite likely to continue.”

Jan 10, 2022

A declaration by the Pope last week that couples who prefer pets to children are selfish has prompted the campaign head of a U.K.-based charity, Population Matters, to challenge it as “totally wrong.” In a personal comment published today, Alistair Currie cited a 2017 study warned that continued global population growth likely means climate change goals won’t be met by the end of the century.

Jan 07, 2022

Yet another deadline set by Canada and other countries for talks about a settlement for the families of their citizens killed when Iran shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 two years ago has been ignored by Tehran. The International Co-ordination and Response Group said Jan. 6 that “further attempts to negotiate with Iran on reparations for the destruction of Flight PS752 at this time are futile.” That has led to suggestions that the next steps could be working through the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization or eventually the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Conversion therapy illegal in Canada
Jan 07, 2022

Criminal Code amendments designed to prohibit widely-discredited “conversion therapy” its adherents promoted as a way to change a person’s sexual orientation through behavioural modification became law today. It was only after previous unsuccessful attempts to outlaw it that Parliament managed to pass enabling legislation late last month.

Jan 07, 2022

Federal Health Minister Yves Duclos suggested today that mandatory vaccination is the only practicable way to stop the coronavirus pandemic but Alberta and Saskatchewan said immediately that it is not on their agenda. “Our health care system in Canada is fragile, our people are tired,” Duclos said. “The only way that we know to get through COVID-19, this variant and any future variant, is through vaccination.”

Jan 07, 2022

British military resources have been deployed to support hospitals experiencing staff shortages and extreme pressures due to record coronavirus cases. COVID-19 cases in the country: more than 150,000 cases daily last week. The government said today that 200 personnel were available in London alone for at least the rest of this month.

Jan 07, 2022

Without naming his predecessor once in a 25-minute speech Jan. 6, U.S. President Joe Biden accused Donald Trump and his supporters of “holding a “dagger at the throat of democracy” with lies that sparked a mob assault on the U.S. Capitol a year earlier. “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” he said. “The former president . . . has spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.”

Jan 07, 2022

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says the Liberal government is “normalizing lockdowns” during the coronavirus pandemic while failing to provide adequate testing and protective equipment. “The federal government has not delivered on key tools to help Canadians manage the risks of a pandemic in a population that is now largely fully vaccinated,” O'Toole said Jan. 6. “The action and inaction by the Trudeau government is normalizing lockdowns and restrictions as the primary tool to fight the latest COVID-19 variant.”

Jan 07, 2022

The federal government is sending 140 million more coronavirus rapid antigen tests to the provinces and territories as cases of the Omicron variant continue to stress health services across the country. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Jan. 5 that the kits were being allocated per capita by the local governments.

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