In the News

Sep 01, 2020

California-based Capella Space has successfully deployed the first satellite in a planned private-sector constellation of 36 designed to offer global on-demand synthetic aperture radar imagery for a broad range of civil and defence applications. The Palo Alto company plans to cover the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and North America.

Aug 31, 2020

Federal travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have been extended until at least 30 September. Returning Canadian citizens and permanent residents will remain subject to quarantine. Foreign nationals non-essential travel also is prohibited.

Aug 31, 2020

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, says COVID-19 testing at airports is being considered as an option which could give travellers faster results and possibly reduce their quarantine period. “Reducing the more restrictive measures at the border, how we apply testing in that context, is being actively explored,” she says, adding that she has no time frame for when this could be implemented.

Aug 31, 2020

The federal government has signed agreements with Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, reserving COVID-19 vaccines which are still under development. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says these deals, coupled with similar arrangements with Pfizer and Moderna last month, could mean at least 88 million doses being available to Canadians.

Aug 31, 2020

A respected Canadian researcher at the University of British Columbia, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, says the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered as a seminal moment in history on the scale of the Black Death, the Russian revolution and other turning points. Among things, Wade Davis points out that it took four years to develop a vaccine against mumps and there some evidence that natural infection may not imply immunity against COVID-19. He also cautions that a vaccine that is not totally safe implies that one fatality per thousand vaccinations could mean millions of deaths.

Aug 31, 2020

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency plans to call for bids within the new few weeks on an $11.7-billion sole-source information technology contract to be awarded in 2021. The goal is “common-use IT systems” which would cover infrastructure, networking and cybersecurity as the Pentagon consolidates its agencies.

Aug 31, 2020

Despite COVID-19, a new round of U.S. tariffs and pressure by other countries to have companies pull out, China evidently is experiencing strong growth in exports. Having reopened in February and early March, its factories began an export blitz which has grabbed larger share of global markets, entrenching a dominance which could outlast the pandemic recovery.

Aug 31, 2020

Toronto Police Services frontline officers are showing off new body-mounted cameras, some six years after beginning a pilot program but only a month after the services’ board finally approved the five-year procurement at a cost of $34.1 million. The goal is to have 2,350 officers eventually wearing the new technology which will use cloud storage for its imagery.

Aug 28, 2020

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has ordered the Correctional Service of Canada to hand documents to a government-appointed panel tasked with overseeing reforms to solitary confinement practices. The volunteer panel’s head, criminologist Anthony Doob, had said that a lack of CSC cooperation had rendered it “powerless” through its one-year mandate.

Aug 28, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says Canada is prepared to help Lebanon with its investigation of a massive explosion which levelled much of Beirut’s port area 04 August, killing at least people and injuring thousands. However, he says, “if Canada participates in this investigation it is because it is going to be credible, transparent and get to the bottom of things to get justice.”

Aug 28, 2020

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, has announced that he plans to resign for health reasons as soon as a successor is chosen. The 65-year-old, who has strengthen his country’s defence capabilities since 2012, has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis.

Aug 28, 2020

An unspecified number of Chinese officials and business executives the U.S. says are responsible for Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea are the target of new travel restrictions which might also apply to immediate family members.

Aug 27, 2020

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service not only failed to disclose evidence favourable to a reputed Daesh recruiter who is on trial but also that it some of the information it used to support requests for warrants may have been gathered illegally. CSIS admitted the failures in Federal Court proceedings about a 2012 wiretap warrant targeting Ottawa resident Awso Peshdary.

Aug 27, 2020

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are being granted access to two suspected former nuclear sites in Iran. The country says its about-face, announced 26 August during a visit by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, should resolve a number of issues.

Aug 27, 2020

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says North Korean hackers have been targeting banking machines as part of a global money-gathering plot. The U.S. says “organizations, specifically those in the financial services sector, should give this activity the highest priority for assessing their networks and implementing appropriate mitigation.”

Aug 27, 2020

A New Zealand judge has sentenced an Australian man to life imprisonment without parole for the shooting of 51 Muslims in Christchurch last year. When arrested, Brenton Tarrant told police he wished he had killed even more. He is the first person in New Zealand to receive the country’s most severe criminal punishment.

Aug 26, 2020

China says Canada needs to make the first move to end the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested separately in December 2018 in apparent retaliation for Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. At a meeting 25 August in Rome, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne urged their release but a spokesman for Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that their cases were being handled “in strict accordance with the law while protecting their legal rights.”

Aug 25, 2020

Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive detained by Canada at the request of the U.S., have been denied access to redacted elements of Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents. Meng is trying to prove that she is the victim of a law enforcement conspiracy but a Federal Court judge, having examined the information which was redacted , says the details were not relevant to her defence.

Aug 25, 2020

A full-sized autonomous ship developed by a global consortium of partners is scheduled to transit the North Atlantic next spring. Monitored remotely by a team of engineers and other specialists, the Mayflower will rely on artificial intelligence and solar power for the voyage from Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Mass., which is expected to take two weeks.

Aug 25, 2020

The World Trade Organization has ruled once more in Canada's favour in the decades-long dispute with the U.S. over softwood lumber. A dispute-resolution panel found that the U.S. was wrong to reimpose countervailing duties in 2017. The U.S. as usual denounced the finding as biased and flawed.

Aug 25, 2020

A study by the Virginia-based Babel Street analytics has concluded that U.S. right-wing extremists and white supremacists are adopting the Islamic State-style ways to attract and radicalize members online. A year-long review of social media found significant overlaps in tactics, techniques, and procedures for sharing content and drawing members and potential members closer together within the group or subgroup.

Aug 24, 2020

Rafael Grossi, the Argentinian diplomat who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Tehran this week to press for access to sites where the country is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material. He says he hopes “to establish . . . direct dialogue with the Iranian government which will be valuable now and in the future.” A 2015 multinational deal with Iran has been shaky since the U.S. withdrew and began imposing economic sanctions in 2018.

Aug 24, 2020

The 2020 Snowbirds demonstration schedule has been cancelled but the Tudor fleet is cleared to return to flying operations with increased maintenance requirements.

Aug 24, 2020

Sound intelligence was behind Canada’s decision not to participate in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a recently-published research paper. The U.S. and Britain justified their decision on grounds that Saddam Hussein’s government had developed “weapons of mass destruction” but the paper’s author, who was involved in the early intelligence effort, says the pro-invasion intelligence was “flawed.”

Aug 24, 2020

Former Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole is the new leader of the Conservative Party, defeating former National Defence Minister Peter MacKay on a third ballot of the mail-in election. O’Toole eventually defeated MacKay by winning 57 per cent of the points required to MacKay’s 43 per cent. Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis, the first black woman to run for the leadership, finished third, while Ontario MP Derek Sloan finished fourth, having dropped off after the first ballot.

Aug 21, 2020

A recent Federal Court ruling that Canada's asylum agreement with the U.S. infringes on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is being appealed by the government. The accord states that refugee claimants must request protection in their first country of entry, meaning that Canadian border officers could deport any who arrive via the U.S. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said 21 August that the government has challenged the decision because it was predicated on factual and legal errors.

Aug 21, 2020

A Kentucky resident accused of violating COVID-19 quarantine requirements twice in Alberta faces a federal fine of up to $750,000 or six months in jail. The charges against John Pennington arise from alleged incidents in Banff and he has been released pending a court appearance in November.

Aug 21, 2020

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is being extended yet again in preparation for the transfer of most CERB claimants onto a revamped Employment Insurance program, beginning 27 September. Three new temporary benefits are also being established, including a form of paid sick leave, and the total projected cost of the revised program over the next year is at least $37 billion.

Aug 21, 2020

The U.S. Border Patrol is installing a cable barrier along Washington State’s border with the lower B.C. Mainland to curb what it calls “dangerous criminal enterprises” and address concerns about “illegal vehicle entries in both directions.”

Aug 21, 2020

At least $600 million in court-monitored compensation is to be paid to residents of Flint, Mich., in connection with drinking water the Environmental Protection Agency had confirmed was contaminated with dangerously high lead levels. Litigation continues against other defendants in the class-action suit.

Aug 20, 2020

Steve Bannon, former senior advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, has been arrested and charged with fraud for allegedly diverting funds from an online scheme in support of Trump’s campaign for a wall along the border with Mexico. The initiative collected more than $25 million and New York prosecutors said 20 August that Bannon and three other defendants “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors . . . under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.”

Aug 20, 2020

The Toronto Police Services Board has agreed to spend S34.1 million over five years to buy 2,350 body cameras for its officers. Interim Chief James Ramer says the cameras, the first of which is being distributed this month, should help to “to create trust and legitimacy between officers and the public as we continue to modernize policing services.”

Aug 20, 2020

As it has in other countries, the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in more government employees working from home on unclassified information but U.S. agencies are considering a move onto classified telework. “We’ve put a tremendous more amount of capability out there with respect to how to deal with classified missions, both on premise and off,” says Stephen Wallace, a systems innovation scientist at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Emerging Technology Directorate.

Aug 20, 2020

Two British members of the Islamic State charged with murdering Western hostages in Iraq and Syria would not be sentenced to death if found guilty, the U.S. says. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, stripped of their citizenship and now in U.S. military custody in Iraq, have been at the centre of a legal dispute which has stalled progress, but U.S. Attorney General William Barr has told U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel that if a U.S. court did opt for capital punishment, “it will not be carried out.”

Aug 19, 2020

The first of 16 H125s configured for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services’ air and marine operations has been delivered by Airbus Helicopters in Texas. The rest are to be built at a Missouri plant where 40 per cent of the workforce are military veterans.

Aug 19, 2020

Three Ottawa men and one from Toronto face 92 Criminal Code charges arising from an RCMP investigation into weapons smuggling from the U.S. They were arrested in June near Cornwall, Ont., while in possession of several guns and other prohibited devices. The men have been released from custody pending court appearances.

Aug 19, 2020

President Donald Trump says he has not read a report by a Republican-led Senate panel which concluded that his associates’ contacts with the Kremlin during his 2016 election campaign “represented a grave counterintelligence threat.” Fifth in a series of reports, it is described as “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia's activities and the threat they posed.”

Aug 19, 2020

The U.S. Justice Department says a former CIA officer and contract linguist for the FBI in the 1980s has been charged with spying for China, including by disclosing secret tradecraft and information on sources to intelligence officers. Court documents show that Alexander Yuk Ching Ma worked with a relative who also had worked for the CIA.

Aug 18, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit the reset button on his administration 18 August by having Parliament prorogued until 23 September. The Governor General will deliver a throne speech which will begin the new session and is expected to focus on the government’s plans to address the economic impact of COVID-19. Trudeau also said he is willing to put the plans to the test of a confidence vote.

Aug 18, 2020

Years of court proceedings and negotiations between the Toronto Police Services Board and representatives of some 1,100 people arrested during demonstration at the G20 Summit in 2010 have yielded a $16.5-million settlement. Each person is entitled to compensation up to $24,700, depending on the circumstances of their detention and those who were wrongfully arrested will have their police records expunged.

Aug 18, 2020

Lawyers for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou have asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge to order the release of documents they believe could prove she was a victim of misconduct by RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency officers who detained her at the behest of the U.S.

Aug 18, 2020

Rewarded for her work in the foreign affairs and International trade portfolios with a promotion late last year to Deputy Prime Minister with the added responsibility for intergovernmental affairs, Chrystia Freeland was sworn in 18 August as Finance Minister. She succeeds Bill Morneau, who stepped down the previous day and also quit his Toronto seat in the House of Commons. Freeland remains Deputy PM but her intergovernmental affairs role has been assigned to New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, who also remains President of the Privy Council.

Aug 18, 2020

A suggestion by President Donald Trump that former CIA analyst Edward Snowden could be pardoned for leaking National Security Agency documents to news media has been blasted by the senior Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee who say it would “mock our national security workforce.” Snowden fled the U.S. in 2013 and sought asylum in Russia.

Aug 18, 2020

The U.S. administration now requires Huawei to have special licenses for acquiring certain U.S. technologies, including semiconductors developed by foreign companies with U.S. software. The Commerce Department also has added 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to its list of entities prohibited from buying or integrating U.S. technologies without a waiver. 

Aug 18, 2020

A San Francisco consultancy under contract to the Department of Defense says U.S. industry’s reliance on goods and services from countries such as China shows reshoring the industry’s may be easier said than done. Researchers at Govini analysed data from more than 1,000 vendors to show how products from foreign countries has increased by 420 per cent since 2010, particularly in the packaged software and IT services.

Aug 18, 2020

The federal government is using extended national security review authority to scrutinize foreign investments more aggressively during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health care sector and critical supply chains are a particular focus, to ensure there are enough time and resources for the review of potential security issues.

Aug 18, 2020

Ellen Lord, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Sustainment, is soliciting detailed feedback on how a new interim supply chain rules change the way the private sector does business with the government. A specific concern is how all departments agencies are now prohibited, as of 13 August, from contracting with any company doing business with five Chinese entities.

Aug 17, 2020

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who has held the portfolio since the advent of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in 2015, announced 17 August that he had resigned both as minister and as an MP. This followed a couple of weeks of speculation about policy differences with the PM but Morneau, who intends to bid to become Secretary General of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, would only say there had been “vigorous” discussions which yielded better policy.

Aug 17, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, Bill Morneau announced "it's the right time for a new Finance Minister" during a press conference this evening. He resigned today from his position as Finance Minister as well as MP for Toronto Centre. He has decided to put his name forward to become the next Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Aug 17, 2020

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have become a fixture in the civilian and civilian worlds as health authorities try to stem the spread of COVID-19. However, an incident in the U.S. indicates that static electricity in some situations actually could ignite any residue, which becomes particularly problematic in that alcohol flames are nearly invisible.

Aug 17, 2020

New modelling of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that a worst-case scenario could see outbreaks continuing through early 2022, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. “It is prudent to plan and to be prepared,” she says, stressing the importance of keeping transmission rates even lower than they were during the first wave. The new model does not take into account the possibility of a “good vaccine” being found before 2022.

Aug 17, 2020

More than a year after it was confirmed that police had suppressed and even destroyed evidence that could have freed him in a murder case, Halifax resident Glen Assoum wonders whether anyone will be held to account. Imprisoned for 17 years and then paroled for five before an appeal court declared him innocent in March 2019, he says governments “just don’t care” about how his prosecution was handled.

Aug 17, 2020

Facing with escalating demonstrations and labour strikes after his government claimed 80 per cent voter support in a general election allegedly rift with ballot fraud, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko says he will not permit a new vote. Police violence towards opposition supporters, as well as the alleged poll-rigging, sparked a huge protest rally 16 August.

Aug 17, 2020

The Canada Revenue Agency said 17 August that it expects online services to be fully restored in three days after they were shut down when it was found that about 5,500 accounts had been hacked and the data used to fraudulently obtain government services. Hackers used passwords and usernames from other websites to gain access to the CRA accounts.

Aug 14, 2020

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least 21 September, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has confirmed. First imposed in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge, it has been extended several times due to concerns about developments in the U.S.

Aug 13, 2020

A peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, announced August 13, is being described by their leaders as a “breakthrough” which could advance peace in the Middle East overall. Only the third such deal since Israel declared its independence in 1948, it commits Israel to suspend further annexation of the West Bank. However, a senior Palestinian official has condemned the deal, telling the UAE leader, “may you never be sold out by your friends.”

Aug 13, 2020

California Senator Kamala Harris, Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden’s choice as vice-presidential running mate, is opposed to further increases in U.S. defence spending but wants a bigger Veterans Affairs budget, closer cooperation with allies on security matters, and more foreign aid. This is according to a review of her voting record in Congress, which urged the withdrawal of troops for Afghanistan and an overhaul of legislation to give Congress a greater voice in combat deployments.

Aug 13, 2020

Satellite imagery analyzed by 38 North, a website maintained by the Washington-based Stimson Centre think-tank, suggests recent flooding in North Korea may have compromised cooling systems at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre. Located north of the country’s capital, Yongbyon houses reactors as well as fuel re-processing and uranium enrichment facilities considered central to the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

Aug 13, 2020

Public Safety Canada has invited 15 consulting companies to come up with “options and approaches” for the government’s plan to compensate the owners of firearms which it has deemed illegal. The prohibition applies to some 1,500 models and variants of “assault-style” weapons.

Aug 13, 2020

His party holds only 32 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and would need support from the other Opposition parties, but Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet says he will try to trigger a snap election if the prime minister, his chief of staff and his finance minister don't resign. Blanchet's rationale is that the minority Liberal government is not “worthy” of the public’s trust because of the WE Charity controversy.

Aug 13, 2020

A survey of Canadian and American respondents indicates widespread and shared unhappiness with President Donald Trump’s resurrection of import tariffs on Canadian aluminum. The web-based poll indicates that 58 per cent of Americans and 90 per cent of Canadians object to the tax.

Aug 12, 2020

Non-medical masks have been required for air travellers in Canada since mid-April to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but Transport Canada has closed a loophole which made it easier for some passengers to eschew face coverings. They now must present an official note from their physician that they should be exempt from the requirement; otherwise they will not be allowed to board.

Aug 12, 2020

The City of Edmonton has begun handing out mask exemption cards to any individuals who say they cannot wear a mask against COVID-19. There is no requirement for medical proof, however, as the city relies on “an honour system, that Edmontonians will do the right thing.”

Aug 12, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country’s health regulator is the first to approve a COVID-19 vaccine. But scientists worldwide say the decision to proceed with widespread immunization is dangerously premature because Russia hasn’t completed large Stage 3 trials to test its safety and efficacy.

Aug 12, 2020

After a third night of protests in Belarus against the reelection 9 August of Alexander Lukashenko’s government, police have used live ammunition against demonstrators who claim the election was fixed. The European Union has called the vote “neither free nor fair.”

Aug 12, 2020

Authorities say that the remaining oil on a Japanese cargo ship which ran aground off Mauritius in late July is expected to be pumped out before the vessel breaks up. The island nation in the Indian Ocean is home to world-renowned coral reefs and tourism is a crucial part of its economy.

Aug 12, 2020

New satellite imagery of an already fractured ice shelf north of Ellesmere Island shows that an 80km2 section has broken off and then split into two segments which drifted into the Arctic Ocean in late July. Ellesmere was once bounded by extensive shelves covering 8,600km2 but global warming has resulted in continued shrinkage to less than 500km2.

Aug 12, 2020

The Canadian government has quietly abandoned its prosecution of a couple for alleged espionage after Federal Court Judge Henry Brown was “unable to reasonably find any reason to believe the applicant was engaged in anything secret, clandestine, surreptitious or covert.” The Canada Border Services Agency, relying mainly on unsubstantiated claims by a Russian defector, opted to pursue the case against David and Elena Crenna even though Canadian and American intelligence officials found their version of events credible.

Aug 11, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has professed confidence in Finance Minister Bill Morneau in response to a published report that they had clashed over how much the PM wanted to spend in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. “The Prime Minister has full confidence in Minister Morneau and any statement to the contrary is false,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement, lauding the finance minister’s “important work.”

Aug 11, 2020

Former Vice-President Joe Biden has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the race for the U.S. presidency. Of Jamaican-Indian heritage, the former prosecutor had criticized Biden during Democratic primaries and is only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen as vice-presidential candidate.

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