In the News

Nov 20, 2020

With a population of some 145 million, Russia has the world's fifth-largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after the U.S., India, Brazil and France. Its official count topped two million this week as daily infections and deaths increased. “This topic is now a priority,” says a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin.

Nov 20, 2020

Canada and its partners in the Five Eyes security alliance – Australia, Britain, New Sealand and the U.S. ­ – have been threatened by a Chinese foreign ministry official. Accusing the allies of accusing Beijing of silencing critics in Hong Kong, Zhao Lijian says that countries which “dared harm China's sovereignty . . . should beware that their eyes could be blinded” and it did not “matter if they have five or 10 eyes.”

Nov 20, 2020

U.S. health officials, wrestling with a second COVID-19 wave across much of the country, want Americans to avoid travel during their Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” said Nov. 19.

Nov 20, 2020

U.S. regulators have finished the second phase of a traffic management pilot program for unmanned aircraft systems which could lead to beyond line-of-site drone operations. “Flight testing . . . capabilities in high-density airspace will help us develop policy for safely and efficiently integrating drones into our national airspace while benefiting and serving communities,” the Federal Aviation Administration says.

Nov 20, 2020

Women and members of the LGBTQ community in the RCMP have encountered physical violence and harassment resulting from “misogynistic, racist and homophobic attitudes” at all levels, says a former Supreme Court of Canada judge. A report released by Justice Michael Bastarache is based on an assessment of more than 3,000 claims and 644 interviews. “This process has forever tarnished the image of the RCMP as a Canadian icon,” he says.

Nov 20, 2020

A New Brunswick man who killed two police officers and two civilians in Fredericton in August 2018 has been found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. The 11-member’s jury’s decision was reached after several days of deliberation. Matthew Raymond’s defence counsel has said the admitted shooter would be institutionalized indefinitely and subject to regular assessments.

Nov 19, 2020

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canadian fleets of Boeing 737 Max jetliners owned by Air Canada and WestJet will remain grounded for now, but he expects recertification “very soon”. He was commenting on the U.S. recertification of the aircraft, all of which were taken out of service after two crashes attributed to flight controls conflicts.

Nov 19, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping says his country plans to open its “super-sized” economy to import more high-quality goods and services. He also expects more free trade agreements to be signed and that China will not “decouple” from other economies.

Nov 19, 2020

Opposition parties in the House of Commons are pressing the Liberal government to take a harder line against alleged national security threats from China. Passed by a 179-146 vote Nov. 18, the Conservative motion calls on the government to not only decide within 30 days on whether Huawei Technologies can supply equipment for Canada's 5G& networks but also address the issue of Chinese intimidation tactics in Canada.

Nov 19, 2020

The number of deaths in the U.S. attributed to COVID-19 has surpassed 250,000 and with daily diagnoses confirmed at some 2,000, the infection rate is expected to continue rising steeply. In the early stages of the global pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speculated that the U.S. toll could be up to 240,000.

Nov 19, 2020

Dominion Voting Systems, an elections technology company founded in Toronto, is being targeted by President Donald Trump as part of his claim that the recent U.S. presidential election was rigged. Among other things, Trump has called Dominion a “radical left” company with a “bad reputation” and “bum equipment.” The company, which supplies equipment to many U.S. states, calls the allegations baseless.

Nov 19, 2020

State-sponsored cyber activity by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea pose the “greatest strategic threats” to Canada’s critical infrastructure, intellectual property and politics, according to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. In its latest threat assessment report, the agency within the Communications Security Establishment says the foreign cyberattacks are “almost certainly” continuing.

Nov 19, 2020

A four-year internal inquiry has found “credible evidence” that Australian special forces killed “prisoners, farmers or civilians” in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013. Blaming an unchecked “warrior culture”, the inquiry has recommended that 19 current or former troops should be investigated further. Australia has had forces in Afghanistan since 2002 as part of a U.S.-led coalition.

Nov 19, 2020

The rolling monthly closure of the Canada-U.S. border, in effect since March and currently due to expire this week, evidently will be extended again except for “essential” travel.

Nov 19, 2020

Suggestions by Albert Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is personally holding back government approval of a rapid COVID-19 test was firmly rebuffed Nov. 17 in the House of Commons. “It is not the job of the prime minister or any politicians to approve tests,” Trudeau said. “It is the job of our professional, independent public servants who we trust.”

Nov 18, 2020

Facing more pandemic shutdowns and vaccine availability still months away, state governors across the U.S. are pleading for more federal financial support and leadership. In a representative observation, a spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says there is a “dire and urgent need for congressional action” and that the state cannot wait until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20. Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says “every state . . . is suffering from failure of revenues because of COVID-19.”

Nov 18, 2020

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair plans a “ministerial directive” to ensure that the RCMP improves its response to access to information requests. He was responding Nov. 17 to a report by Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard the situation “is critical and may soon be past the point of no return, unless senior leaders within the organization take action immediately.”

Nov 18, 2020

The Canada Border Services Agency estimates that more than five million arrivals, including repeat entries, since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March, have been permitted to skip quarantine. Exemptions are granted for “essential” travel, including flight crews, emergency responders and cross-border truckers.

Nov 18, 2020

A recent cyberattack against Saint John’s IT systems has been confirmed as ransomware. City manager John Collin said Nov. 17 that there is no evidence that anyone’s personal information had been compromised but he urged residents to monitor their bank accounts.

Nov 18, 2020

Canadian voting procedures have been used by U.S. President Donald Trump to support his allegations of widespread fraud in the recent presidential election. “This says it all,” Trump tweeted in sharing an Elections Canada post. It turns out that Trump’s claim was as baseless as his ongoing legal challenges at home. “Our message on Twitter was intended to respond to the large number of questions we had received from people who mistakenly believed we use automated tabulating systems in federal elections,” an Elections Canada official says. “It shouldn't be construed as anything other than that.”

Nov 18, 2020

Mexico’s defence minister from 2012 to 2018, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, has been freed by the U.S. so that his own government can investigate alleged involvement in drug-related corruption. Cienfuegos was arrested in Los Angeles last month but in announcing the decision to drop criminal charges, U.S. officials said Nov. 17 that “important foreign policy considerations outweigh the government’s interest in pursuing the prosecution.”

Nov 18, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a critic of his own government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Canada needs to “double down” because it faces a worsening situation until a vaccine is widely available. “The entire planet is in trouble,” he says. “There are very few exceptions” and “Canada, which was supposedly doing so well, is also getting into trouble” because “there's a lot of community spread.”

Nov 18, 2020

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says that while his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, was legally able to employ his sister while he was Speaker House of Commons, rules permitting the practice have since changed. “I have a very high bar of ethics and I expect my team to live up to and exceed the expectations Canadians place upon us,” O'Toole says. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose caucus recently saw the departure of an MP for hiring a family member, says the Scheer situation is a matter for Conservatives to address.

Nov 18, 2020

Twenty months after the global fleet of Boeing 737 Max jetliners was grounded, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has authorized a return to service. The fleet was taken out of service in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopa resulted  in the combined deaths of 346 passengers and crew.

Nov 18, 2020

Christopher Krebs, a former Microsoft executive appointed by President Donald Trump two years ago to head the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, has been summarily fired. Trump said Krebs’ description of the recent U.S. election as “the most secure in American history” was “highly inaccurate” and he continued to insist that the election was fraudulent.

Nov 18, 2020

Senior advisors to U.S. President Trump reportedly persuaded him last week not to order an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. Their meeting followed an International Atomic Energy Agency report that Iran had significantly increased its stockpile of nuclear material.

Nov 18, 2020

Six months after it responded aggressively to Israeli’s plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is resuming cooperation. The protest resulted in financial hardship for thousands of residents.

Nov 18, 2020

Proposed legislation introduced in the House of Commons Nov. 17 as Bill C-11 would require companies, in plain language, to obtain customers’ consent to use their personal data. Among other things, it also would empower the Privacy Commissioner, backed with the threat of huge fines, to demand that a company stop collecting or using customers’ personal information.

Nov 17, 2020

The National Reconnaissance Office has a new intelligence satellite in orbit, its fourth successful launch this year. “NROL-101 is another example of the NRO’s commitment to constantly evolving our crucial national security systems to support our defense and intelligence partners,” says Col Chad Davis, director of the NRO Office of Space Launch.

Nov 17, 2020

A series of dismissals and appointments, with more anticipated, evidently has created deep uncertainty in the U.S. intelligence and national security community. It is seen by some as a move by President Donald Trump, with only eight weeks left in office, to hit back at what he perceives as an unsupportive “deep state” resistance with that community.

Nov 17, 2020

China is preparing to use one of its massive Long March-5 boosters to launch a mission which is expected to return lunar materials to Earth for the first time in several decades. The launcher been moved from its hangar to the nearby Wenchang launch site on the southern island province of Hainan. A robotic lander would drill two metres into the lunar surface, capturing core materials and regolith.

Nov 17, 2020

The biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer says it has yet to receive any guidance or clarity from the federal government about the scope of a wide-ranging Conservative request for documents as part of a House of Commons committee review of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company worries that the inadvertent release of some information could have “unintended consequences” for its vaccine development.

Nov 17, 2020

Three U.S. and one Japanese astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station, the first crew rotation to be delivered by a civilian contractor, SpaceX, which has a NASA contract for six crew deliveries. Three crewmembers still aboard the ISS are scheduled to return to Earth on a Russian Soyuz capsule while the SpaceX capsule remains docked for the duration of the latest six-month rotation.

Nov 17, 2020

The Chinese government is firing back at Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, for calling for a UN investigation of whether China’s persecution of ethnic Muslim Uighurs constitutes a genocide. ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian’s calls the request “ridiculous” and suggests that Canada itself has been guilty of genocide.

Nov 17, 2020

A World Health Organization investigation into the origins of COVID-19 is expected to begin in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was first identified. Most researchers think it originated in bats, but how it jumped to people remains a mystery and one virologist says “it will be key for the investigators to establish a collaborative relationship with scientists and government officials in China.”

Nov 17, 2020

Approval of a European Union budget which includes a €750 billion COVID-19 fund has been blocked by Hungary and Poland. Their representatives at a meeting in Brussels vetoed the budget because of a clause which required adherence to the rule of law for any EU state wanting to access the fund. Both countries have been criticized for violating democratic standards enshrined in the EU's founding treaty.

Nov 16, 2020

Eight years of talks have resulted in the creation of a new international trading bloc that accounts for nearly a third of the global economy. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involves 15 countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and 10 Southeast Asian countries

Nov 16, 2020

A year-long Canadian military peacekeeping mission in Mali, providing aeromedical and transport services, ended in August 2019. Now Canada is being urged to provide new military assistance to help fight Islamic militants as well as join a diplomatic push for peace and reconciliation among warring factions.

Nov 16, 2020

St. John has shut down much of its information technology systems after the New Brunswick city experienced a “significant” cyber attack. Critical services such as 911 emergency are not affected, but many online services such as bill payments are. The city says it’s unclear whether customers’ personal information is at risk.

Nov 16, 2020

The federal government will provide $1.5 billion in job-training support to the provinces and territories to help employees of industries hit by COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the funding will support retraining because “more than ever, the labour market is evolving quickly and workers need to be able to develop new skills.”

Nov 16, 2020

Three U.S. and one Japanese astronaut were launched to the International Space Station by SpaceX, the first full “taxi flight” by a private company. The capsule is due to dock with the ISS late Nov. 16 after needing some 27 hours to achieve the necessary orbit.

Nov 16, 2020

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, wants its Human Rights Council to investigate whether China's treatment of Uighurs should be considered genocidal. “There's no question that there's aspects of what the Chinese are doing that fits into the definition,” he said after an address to the UN General Assembly. A parliamentary committee said last month that Chinese treatment of the mostly Muslim minority did meet the definition of genocide.

Nov 16, 2020

Ten CBSA and RCMP officers who were on duty at Vancouver International Airport when Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested 23 months ago at the request of the U.S., are on the witness list when a B.C Supreme Court extradition hearing resumes. Paused at the end of October, the hearing now is expected to continue at least into early December.

Nov 13, 2020

National Defence has shut down a controversial plan that allowed military public affairs officers to use propaganda against Canadian citizens and data-mine the public’s social media accounts. Embraced by some, others warned the initiative could do serious harm to the military’s reputation. The shut down had the approval of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Chief of the Defence Staff General Vance, and Deputy Minister Jody Thomas.

Nov 13, 2020

The aerospace and security sectors are among 17 chosen by the British government for tighter regulation which would block foreign direct investment by potentially hostile interests. The measure is part of a National Security and Investment Bill designed to review mergers, acquisitions and other considered a threat to national security.

Nov 13, 2020

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order which bars investment in 31 companies his administration says are linked to China's military. It prohibits U.S. businesses and individuals from owning stock directly or indirectly and gives them until next November to divest.

Nov 13, 2020

Recent Russian military operations inside the U.S. economic management zone off Alaska were the latest in a series of escalated encounters across the North Pacific and the Arctic, where the retreat of polar ice continues to draw new commercial and military traffic. The local U.S. Coast Guard chief, RAdm Matthew T. Bell Jr., says that while Russian operations in the Bering Sea are not unusual, “the surprise was how aggressive they got on our side of the maritime boundary line.”

Nov 13, 2020

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino has announced a federal government program designed to help more Hong Kong residents to move to Canada as China cracks down on pro-democracy activities in the former British colony.

Nov 13, 2020

A western separatist movement, the Maverick Party, plans to model itself on the Bloc Québécois as it prepares for the next federal election. Its interim leader, former Reform and Conservative MP Jay Hill, says the BQ has been “very effective in representing the interests of their constituents.”

Nov 13, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency says its inspectors have confirmed that Iran has 2,442.9kg of low-enriched uranium, 12 times as much as permitted under a multinational agreement. Some of the material was discovered by IAEA inspectors at a previously undisclosed site.

Nov 13, 2020

Switzerland says that effective in 2022, bribes paid by companies to private individuals and money spent to facilitate crimes will no longer be tax-deductible. The government says the move, which would comply with OECD recommendations, would “harmonize” its tax and criminal laws.

Nov 13, 2020

The Conservatives want the House of Commons to take action against a former Liberal MP who now sits as an Independent after it was disclosed that she had broken parliamentary rules against hiring family members. Toronto-area MP Yasmin Ratansi had employed her sister as a constituency assistant since 2017.

Nov 12, 2020

Two days after it was declared the winner of the latest U.S. elections, president-elect Joe Biden’s embryonic administration announced a COVID-19 advisory board stacked with infectious diseases research and former public health officers. The speed of the announcement has the scientific and medical communities hopeful that the incoming government can do a better job than President Donald Trump’s lameduck administration of handling the pandemic which has killed nearly a quarter of a million Americans.

Nov 12, 2020

Benefits for unemployed Canadians as COVID-19 continues to spread are not designed to be permanent, the Prime Minister has pointed out. An initial support package paid out taxable benefits totalling $81.6 billion to some 8.9 million recipients and a follow-on program so far has paid out nearly $2.3 billion. “That's not a measure that we can automatically continue in a post- pandemic world,” the PM said. “There are really important reflections to have on how we provide income supports and how we make sure that everyone is given opportunities.”

Nov 12, 2020

Leaked recordings indicated that World Health Organization scientists have been frustrated by mistakes made by some of the organization’s main funding sources as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded. Central to the problem, and the scientists' unwillingness to go public, is that the WHO has no authority to investigate independently, relying instead on backchannelling and member states’ cooperation.

Nov 12, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expects a new trade deal to be completed with Britain before the end of this year. He said it should be relatively straightforward to manage even as the UK moves closer to an official exit from the European Union.

Nov 12, 2020

What appears to have been an accident during a routine helicopter flight in Egypt has resulted in the deaths of all but one of nine members of an international keeping mission. Six of seven U.S. members of the Multinational Force and Observers group died in the crash, as did French and Czech personnel.

Nov 11, 2020

Fully 67 per cent of Canadians evidently are open to the notion of curfews if the COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate. However, the results of a national poll show that support for the idea varies by age, with young respondents the least receptive, while Quebec, Ontario and Alberta residents were less accepting of the idea than their counterparts elsewhere.

Nov 11, 2020

Provincial and municipal leaders are being urged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “do the right thing” to curb the spread COVID-19. Promising financial support if needed, he says he hopes no premiers or mayors were “easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy” because “that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.”

Nov 10, 2020

The Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis contends that NATO has not done enough to motivate younger European leaders, going so far as to suggest the alliance’s very existence is at stake. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seems to have taken the warning to heart, telling a youth summit in Brussels that “tomorrow’s leaders” need to “step up and safeguard your future, your freedom your alliance.”

Nov 10, 2020

It used to be that a “dry cell” was the type of battery used in many flashlights. Now it’s the name of a Correctional Service of Canada policy whereby prisoners suspected of having ingested or hidden contraband within their bodies are kept under constant supervision for days on end without access to a flushing toilet or running water. A former correctional investigator says the CSC should scrap the “demeaning, undignified and painful confinement.”

Nov 10, 2020

The government is launching a $1.75-billion Universal Broadband Fund to expand high-speed internet to rural and remote communities, fulfilling a commitment set out in its 2019 budget. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some of his cabinet say the delay was necessitated by having to ensure the funding process is less cumbersome and more relevant to communities.

Nov 10, 2020

The government is launching talks on support for the airline industry but Transport Minister Marc Garneau suggests it will be conditional on passengers getting refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19. “We are ready to establish a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance which could include loans and potentially other support to secure important results for Canadians,” he says.

Nov 10, 2020

In a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canada Border Services Agency is emptying its detention centres and finding alternatives to securing refugee claimants and other detainees until they can be processed. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the CBSA detained 8,825 persons, including 138 minors, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act but those numbers have since been reduced signifiantly.

Nov 10, 2020

In a policy reversal from President Donald Trump's administration, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is imploring Americans to wear a mask as the best way to turn around the COVID-19 pandemic. Warning that the U.S. faces a “very dark winter" with the “worst wave” of the virus yet to come, he says Americans must rely on science.

Nov 10, 2020

The Chinese government is being accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of routinely using officials and “trusted” proxies to try to muzzle members of Canada’s Chinese community who might criticize China’s leadership. CSIS says threats against families still in China are part of a global campaign of intimidation that threatens national sovereignty.

Nov 09, 2020

President Donald Trump has fired Mark Esper as U.S. Secretary of Defense, replacing him in an acting capacity by Christopher Miller, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Trump offered no explanation in his social media announcement but Esper has been at odds with the President for several months on the proposed use of troops for law enforcement.

Nov 06, 2020

A widespread public outcry and high-level political intervention has resulted in Whole Foods, a national chain of 14 grocery stores owned by Amazon, reversing a ban on staff wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

Nov 06, 2020

An EU economic blacklist of Belarus officials has been expanded to include President Alexander Lukashenko and his son Victor, a national security analyst, as well as the head of the secret police and the president’s chief of staff. The EU disputes Lukashenko’s claim to have fairly won reelection in August and deplores his crackdown on opponents.

Nov 06, 2020

Whole Foods, a national chain of 14 grocery stores owned by Amazon, has told staff they cannot wear Remembrance Day poppies. Recently-updated uniform policy evidently implies that wearing the Royal Canadian Legion poppy is “supporting a cause.”

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