In the News

Jan 14, 2020

U.S. Attorney General William Barr wants Apple to unlock two of its iPhones which were owned by a Saudi air force officer who was shot by police after he had killed three persons at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida last month. Insisting 13 January that it is “very important” to know about the shooter’s communications, Barr says Apple has not given investigators “substantive assistance”, a claim the company denies.

Jan 14, 2020

An Iranian Judiciary official said 14 January that “extensive investigations” into last week’s missile shoot-down of a Ukrainian jetliner has resulted in an undisclosed number of arrests. All 176 persons aboard the Boeing 737-800, including 57 Canadian citizens, died in the crash minutes after Flight PS752 had taken off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport en route to Kiyv, Ukraine.

Jan 13, 2020

A Pakistani high court in Lahore has revoked a guilty verdict and death sentence handed down last month to former President Pervez Musharraf. A government official explained 13 January that the special judicial tribunal which handed down the original sentence was unconstitutional. The tribunal head also said that the former military leader, who is undergoing medical treatment in Dubai, should die before he could be executed, his body should be hung in public.

Jan 13, 2020

An emergency Ontario-wide alert that woke thousands to warnings of an unspecified “incident” at the Pickering nuclear station near Toronto 12 January was erroneously sent out during a training exercise. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says there was no danger to the public or the environment.

Jan 13, 2020

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee has been told that government agencies could play more crucial roles in countering online deception of Americans. One witness suggested the problem could be address by expanding existing infrastructure.

Jan 10, 2020

Iranian state television has reported that its military "unintentionally" shot down the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran International Airport 07 January on a flight to Kyiv, Ukraine. All 176 persons aboard,  including 57 Canadian passengers, were killed. The report that "human error" resulted in a missile strike came at approximately 10 p.m. EST on 10 January -- early in the morning in Tehran.

Jan 10, 2020

The Indian government's prolonged internet shutdown in its Kashmir administrative revion has been criticized by the country’s Supreme Court. Responding to a number of petitions, the court has given the government a week to review its decision.

Jan 09, 2020

Most information of late about U.S. cyber activities has come from unnamed, but likely authorized, government sources. These choreographed disclosures allow the administration to signal to adversaries that it views certain actions as infringing upon U.S. national interests while creating plausible deniability that keeps options open and limits domestic political risks.

Jan 09, 2020

A divided U.S. House of Representatives wants to force President Donald Trump to get congressional approval of any further military action against Iran. Its 09 January 224-194 vote, almost entirely along party lines, is seen as another constitutional hurdle for Trump as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial.

Jan 09, 2020

Canada has received intelligence indicating an Iranian missile shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight full of Canadians that crashed near Tehran

Jan 08, 2020

Sixty-three Canadians were among 167 fatalities when a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukraine International Airlines crashed minutes after taking off from Tehran International Airport 08 January.

Jan 07, 2020

More than 30 persons died and hundreds have been injured in a stampede as Iranians flocked to the burial of Gen Qassem Soleimani, killed in Iraw by a U.S. drone strike along with several other senior officials. The interment in his hometown of Kerman was postponed.

Jan 07, 2020

The head of the new Royal Canadian Mounted Police union, the National Police Federation, expects to begin negotiations in a few weeks. Brian Sauvé says pay, benefits and resources are the top concerns – which implies higher costs not only federally but also for other levels of government that rely on the RCMP for services.

Jan 07, 2020

The cost to the federal government of dealing with natural disasters would indicate that Canada continues to be seriously affected by climate change. Public Safety Canada says the amount was $309.5 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year compared with $494.9 million a year earlier and $485.8 million in 2016-2017. The average in the five previous years was $360 million, which was triple the average in the five years before that.

Jan 07, 2020

British-registered vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea between Oman and Iran, are to have Royal Navy escorts as tension in the region escalates. A Duke-class Type 23 frigate and a Daring-class Type 45 destroyer are reported to have been deployed.

Jan 07, 2020

U.S. manufacturers of machine learning and artificial intelligence software capable of analyzing satellite imagery face new restrictions under an interim final rule change published 06 January in the Federal Register. Such software is to be classified as a dual-use technology and subject to the same controls as arms exports. Taking effect in early March, the new rule (85 Fed. Reg. 9) applies to software which would “provide a graphical user interface that enables the user to identify objects (e.g., vehicles, houses, etc.) from within geospatial imagery.”

Jan 05, 2020

An internal RCMP report on the suicide of one of its officers has concluded that the federal policy service lacks a strategy for monitoring and detecting potential problems. The report was on the death of Const Jean-Pascal Nolin in Ottawa in March 2016, more than a year after he participated in the police response to shootings on Parliament Hill in 2014.

Jan 05, 2020

The Austrian foreign ministry has been targeted by a cyber-attack it suspects was launched by a “state actor” in another country. The ministry says the attack was recognized quickly and countermeasures were taken immediately.

Jan 03, 2020

The Conservative Party of Canada will selected a successor to outgoing party leader Andrew Scheer at a leadership convention in Toronto 27 June. Former deputy leader Lisa Raitt confirmed the plan 03 January, saying that the relatively limited time means potential candidates will have to decide quickly whether to run.

Jan 03, 2020

The RCMP has confirmed that it uses information posted on social media to profile persons of potential interest. It is responding to concerns expressed by a Toronto woman who learned that she had been profiled after showing up at a leadership debate during the 2015 election campaign, but who was eventually found to be doing nothing illegal. The RCMP says it acknowledges the constitutional right to peaceful protest but says due diligence is required to ensure there is no public safety issue.

Jan 01, 2020
Demonstrators outside the US embassy in Baghdad have withdrawn after a tense standoff which began when the compound was attacked by a crowd angered by U.S. air strikes against Iranian-based Iraqi militia. The standoff continued into a second day 01 January as U.S. military personnel fired tear gas in response to thrown rocks.
Jan 01, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, said 01 January that he was asking Parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. His announcement comes as the country faces its third general election in 12 months.

Jan 01, 2020

The Canadian and British operations of MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates, the company behind Radarsat and the Canadarm robotics on the International Space Station, are being acquired by a Toronto-based investment group led by Northern Private Capital with backing from former BlackBerry executive Jim Balsillie. MDA’s corporate headquarters is being returned to Canada from the U.S.

Dec 31, 2019

Africa's largest mobile operator, MTN, is reviewing allegations that it paid protection money to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan. The allegations are part of a complaint, filed in a US federal court, that MTN had violated U.S. anti-terrorism laws. It says the company bribed Daesh and the Taliban to avoid having to invest in security for their transmission towers and that the funds underwrote a Taliban-led insurgency that led to the attacks in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.

Dec 31, 2019

Huawei says “survival will be our first priority” as the Chinese telecom giant continues to deal with fallout from the White House’s ban on the company doing business in the U.S. One of the largest 5G suppliers, it expects lower than forecast 2019 sales growth will be followed by continue pressure in 2020. Huawei has been deemed a national security threat because of allegedly close ties to China’s government.

Dec 31, 2019

Wyze, a Seattle-based producer of “smart” home video cameras, has reported a data breach affecting some 2.4 million of customers whose personal data was held on an unsecured server for several weeks this month.

Dec 31, 2019

Tear gas was used to repel dozens of protesters who broke into the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad 31 December, angered by recent U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed Iraqi militia. President Donald Trump said Iran would be “held fully responsible” for the protest while Tehran said the U.S. attacks on the militia were a “clear example of terrorism.”

Dec 30, 2019

U.S. military personnel are being cautioned against using widely-advertised consumer DNA kits due to concerns about security risks such as mass surveillance and potential tracking. Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, says in a memo that the test are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information with unintended security consequences.

Dec 30, 2019

A U.S. research panel is expected to publish in 2020 the results of a year-long study of how mefloquine and other anti-malaria drugs used by military and civilian personnel concerned about physical and mental debilitation. Requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the study involves a detailed review of existing literature.

Dec 30, 2019

New data on a natural gas well blowout in Ohio in February 2018 indicate that its environmental impact was more significant that previously thought. It spewed an estimated 60 kilotons of methane in only 20 days, more than some European countries release in a year. Methane has a global warming potential 20 times that of carbon dioxide, albeit with a shorter atmospheric lifespan.

Dec 30, 2019

There are concerns about the integrity of a massive concrete dome over a Cold War nuclear test site on Runit Island in the western Pacific, one of 48 islands in the Enewetak Atoll. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillete has been given until late June to report back to Congress on the dome’s status. The President of the Marshall Islands, which include Enewetak, has expressed concern about the dome’s vulnerability to rising sea levels.

Dec 30, 2019

An artificial intelligence-controlled unmanned aerial system capable of identifying and tracking targets and maybe even supporting search and rescue missions is the goal of a new U.S. Defense Department program. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has issued a request for information to determine whether AI developers and drone swarm builders can collaborate on development.

Dec 30, 2019

A Chinese national who managed to get around a perimeter fence at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West 26 December has been charged by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He told investigators that he was trying to photograph the sunrise but the images on his camera included some of a base facility.

Dec 30, 2019

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump confirms that federal civilian employees will see an average 3.1 per cent pay increase in 2020. However, the package approved earlier by Congress also freezes salaries for the Vice President and a number of other senior members of the administration.

Dec 24, 2019

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa says “some Canadian politicians” are making “erroneous remarks” about the two countries’ relationship and the cases of two Canadians detained in China. A statement on embassy website isn’t specific but it follows publication of an interview in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disclosed that he had asked the U.S. not to sign a new trade pact with China until Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are released.

Dec 24, 2019

China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to promote dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea as political rhetoric between the two continues to frustrate efforts to wind down North Korea’s nuclear program. The announcement was made by South Korean President Moon Jae-in after a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Dec 23, 2019

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the citizenship of the son of a Russian couple who had been sleeper agents in Canada and the U.S. Alexander Vavilov was born in Toronto, which would typically qualify him for citizenship but the government had ruled that he did not due to his parents’ activities. A lower court had given him the right to have a Canadian passport but the government appealed that ruling.

Dec 23, 2019

Saudi Arabia has sentenced five persons to death and jailed three others in connection with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. Three more persons were found not guilty. The court also said the killing was not premeditated, contradicting the outcome of a UN-lead investigation.

Dec 23, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking aim at provincial governments which might want to block municipalities from banning handguns. “That is something we are hearing from some very specific places across the country but not everywhere,” he says. “It would be a solid step to move forward."

Dec 23, 2019

More than 56,000 weapons were turned over to New Zealand authorities during a six-month amnesty that ended 20 December. The program, which bought weapons back at up to 85 per cent of the original purchase prices, was prompted by the killing of 51 persons at two mosques last March.

Dec 23, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump has approved sanctions against a submarine natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. The U.S. considers the Nord Stream 2 line a security risk in that it could increase Russia’s control of European energy supply. Germany has accused the U.S. of meddling while European Union and Russian officials also are critical.

Dec 23, 2019

Manuel Marrero Cruz, formerly Cuba’s minister of tourism, the country’s economically-critical source of foreign revenue, has been confirmed as its first prime minister since 1976, when the position was scrapped by Fidel Castro. Marrero, whose appointment was ratified unanimously the National Assembly, will take on some of the responsibilities held by President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Dec 23, 2019

The Conservative Party of Canada has rescheduled its national convention to November from April and opted for Quebec City rather than Toronto, preferring to focus on the process of replacing Andrew Scheer as leader. No date for a leadership convention has been decided.

Dec 23, 2019

After an abortive mission to the International Space Station, the CST-100 Starliner transport capsule designed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security has returned safety to earth, landing in New Mexico 22 December, two days after its Florida launch. Managers are reviewing data to determine whether another unmanned mission is needed before the capsule can be used to deliver crews to the ISS. The problem with the latest test was that the module’s intrernal clock did not synchronize with the Atlas V booster.

Dec 23, 2019

A U.S. diplomat’s wife who left Britain while under investigation for a crash which killed a 19-year-old motorcyclist has been charged in absentia with causing death by dangerous driving. Anne Sacoolas, having allegedly told police she had no plans to leave the U.K. “in the near future,” left under cover of diplomatic immunity shortly afterwards.

Dec 23, 2019

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy wants a government-wide focus on cyberattack deterrence. It specifies what technological capabilities departments needs to reach specific cybersecurity levels and how to invest in research and development.

Dec 23, 2019

Dennis Muilenburg has stepped down as president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, the latest fallout from the 737 MAX mess. Board Chairman David Calhoun is to succeed him 13 January with Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith serving as interim CEO.

Dec 23, 2019

Russia’s and China’s use of their UN Security Council veto to block cross-border aid for Syrian refugees is being condemned by Canada and other countries. The veto came as Russian-backed Syrian forces have gained ground against the last opposition enclave in Syria's northwest and thousands of Syrian refugees fled into Turkey.

Dec 23, 2019

Two persons have been arrested in Quebec in connection with online threats to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the fall general election campaign. The RCMP executed a search warrant and arrested the suspects 20 December but they have been released pending further investigation.

Dec 23, 2019

NATO’s operation of its new Alliance Ground Surveillance drone fleet in Europe’s regulated airspace will rely on Italian rules. The “military type” certification for the Northrop Grumman Global Hawks, five of which are to be based in Italy in 2020. evidently includes no information about certification for operation alongside civilian aircraft, or whether they are authorized to fly in Italian airspace at all.

Dec 20, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has asked the United States not to sign any final trade agreement with China until two Canadians are freed. Michael Spavor Michael Kovrig were detained a year ago in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese technology executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. Trudeau disclosed the trade pact proposal during an interview 19 December with the French-language TVA network.

Dec 20, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's agenda for Britain to quit the European Union at the end of January moved closer to fruition 19 December with a 358-234 first-reading vote in the House of Commons of his EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. It also would also ban an extension of the transition period, during which the UK adheres to many EU rules, beyond 2020. Parliamentary debate on the bill resumes 7 January.

Dec 20, 2019

There were no surprises in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s year-end CBC interview. Among other things, he discussed “regional dynamics” within Canada as well as climate change, energy options and NATO as well as the new North American trade pact awaiting ratification and the potential for one with China.

Dec 19, 2019

Palestinians’ right to self-determination has received new backing from Canada in a UN General Assembly vote. The 17 December resolution was endorsed by 166 other countries while the United States, Israel and three other states voted against it. Canada’s support has been relatively consistent for more than a decade.

Dec 19, 2019

Canada’s major telecommunications companies now are required to have systems in place to help subscribers to avoid fraudulent calls in the first phase of a crackdown on the growing problem. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, telephone scams bilked Canadians out of an estimated $24 million in the first 10 months of 2019. The system is supposed to automatically block calls from numbers with more than 15 digits or which cannot be dialed. The telcos also can offer customers “filtering” services which provide more advanced call-management features.

Dec 19, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense is being advised by the Rand Corp. to adapt artificial governance structures which would permit a more coordinated scaling up of AI use. A new study of AI issues also prompted the respected think-tank to recommend, among other things, a five-year road map for the project and close working relationships with the corporate and academic sectors.

Dec 19, 2019

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security evidently is in line for a $334-million increase in funding next year, putting its budget over $2 billion. The measure is part of a new spending bill.

Dec 19, 2019

A new session of the British Parliament opened 17 December with a Speech from the Throne through which Queen Elizabeth, on behalf of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s majority government set out plans for quitting the European Union, among other things. Top priority is being given to a Withdrawal Agreement Bill which must be passed before 31 January if Johnson is to meet his declared timetable.

Dec 19, 2019

Australia continued to experience extreme summer temperatures 18 December with a record high average of 41.9C. That eclipsed the previous day’s 40.9C which itself passed the previous record of 40.3C, set in 2013. A state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales, which has been dealing with major wildfires.

Dec 19, 2019

In a test of its controversial RuNet program, Russia plans to shut off much of its citizens’ access to the Internet 23 December. RuNet is designed to enhance state control of internal traffic, track and censor dissidents, and facilitate cyberattacks. Notice of the plan by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media evidently was posted 5 December but only came to widespread attention this week.

Dec 18, 2019

As expected, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 18 December to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the third president in history to be so charged. The two votes were divided along party lines in the Democrat-controlled house; the votes were 239-197 on the abuse of power and 229-198 on obstruction. The situation now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate for a formal trial, expected early in the new year, with Senators functioning as ostensibly impartial jurors.

Dec 18, 2019

Kate Purchase, executive director of communications and planning in the Prime Minister's Office, leaves this week after more than six years as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is moving to a position with Microsoft.

Dec 18, 2019

SNC-Lavalin Construction has been fined $280 million, to be paid over five years, after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000 in relation to its dealings with Libya, notably the son of the country’s now-deceased leader, Moammar Gaddhafi. In a statement of fact presented in a Montreal courtroom, it was agreed that the company paid $127 million to two shell companies between 2001 and 2011, including $47 million to Saadi Gadhafi for helping it to secure construction contracts.

Dec 18, 2019

Jerry DeMuro, chief executive officer of the U.S. subsidiary of Britain’s BAE Systems llc, will transfer control next year to chief operating officer Tom Arseneault. Taking on a newly-created role of executive vice-president of strategic initiatives, including evolving cybersecurity requirements, DeMuro will remain on the board of directors.

Dec 18, 2019

A few days after the U.S. Coast Guard issued a safety bulletin about the operations of a Russian surveillance ship, the Viktor Leonov, in the vicinity of U.S. naval bases in Georgia and South Carolina, it returned to international waters 18 December. “Unsafe operation includes not energizing running lights while in reduced visibility conditions, not responding to hails by commercial vessels attempting to coordinate safe passage and other erratic movements,” the USCG said in its bulletin.

Dec 18, 2019

The advent of so-called “smart” televisions worries some law enforcement agencies because of how data about viewers’ usage and other information can be monetized by the manufacturers through advertising and direct-to-consumer sales of entertainment.

Dec 18, 2019

LifeLabs Inc., a Canadian medical diagnostics company, paid a ransom to retrieve data on millions of customers after its computer systems were cyberattacked. Privacy commissioners in its key markets of Ontario and British Columbia are investigating. The company’s president has admitted that approximately 15 million customers’ files may be affected.

Dec 18, 2019

Facebook’s plan to provide end-to-end encryption on its messaging services, designed to improve privacy, is a concern for some governments which fear that it will become impossible to recover criminal conversations. Only users would have the ability to share messages) with law enforcement officials.

Dec 18, 2019

A national average high temperature of 40.9C in Australia 17 December exceeded the previous record of 40.3C set on 7 January 2013. The record comes as the country continues to deal with severe drought and wildfires as Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces continued criticism of his government’s response to the crises as well as its policies on climate change.

Dec 18, 2019

Britain’s new Conservative government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to block at extension of the post-Brexit transition period beyond 2020. It could have been extended by two years but Johnson has told Parliament that draft legislation to prevent that is designed to end years of “deadlock, dither and delay.” He also reiterated his determination to “get Brexit done” by 31 January. 

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