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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 16, 2014

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16 September 14 at 22:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – July 6, 2014

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6 July 14 at 20:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 30, 2013

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  • People living in and around Pictou are reminded that military choppers will be flying in the area Tuesday night, part of a large joint training exercise between the United States and Canada.  The helicopters are part of Frontier Sentinel 2013, an exercise being conducted this week throughout the Maritimes ….”
  • More from the Info-machine on the CF’s help to law enforcement to nail grow ops  “Farmers aren’t the only ones who have been hard at work in the cornfields this August and September.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), along with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and other provincial and municipal policing agencies have been scouting out farmer’s fields and forested areas in search for something mean and green – illicit marijuana plants.  Operation SABOT is a RCMP-led marijuana eradication program. It has been conducted Canada-wide every year since 1989.  The CAF has supported the operation since its creation by providing aircraft and surveillance equipment, as well as personnel to operate them.  While the CAF assists in conducting aerial patrols, the RCMP is responsible for all law enforcement actions. Through these patrols the RCMP is able to locate outdoor marijuana grow operations (grow-ops). They can then remove the plants from the site and destroy them ….”
  • Commentary  “…. Military tribunals, “particularly summary trials, are vestiges of a Victorian system of justice. It is time to bring them in line with the massive changes and reforms taking place in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, (and) Ireland.” “
  • A bit of a reminder of what, exactly, a veteran is these days  “Canada has a whole lot of veterans; a lot more than you might think. According to the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman in 2012:  There are nearly 750,000 Canadian Forces and RCMP Veterans; 100,000 Canadian Forces members (Regular and Reserve Forces) and 23,000 members of the RCMP.  Doing the math, you get approximately 900,000 and growing. Call it a million for the sake of convenience and you find that 1 in 35 Canadians is a veteran.  If that number seems high, think about how you define a veteran. To many people, a veteran is someone from WWII or Korea. Yes, those men are veterans. But they are not the ONLY veterans. In fact, WWII and Korea service personnel only account for 11 per cent of the total veteran population ….”
  • Gravely injured troops are being booted from the military before they qualify for a pension, despite assurances to the contrary from the Harper governmentA former reserve combat engineer was let go last Friday on a medical discharge after begging for months to remain until hitting the 10-year mark.  Cpl. David Hawkins is about a year shy of being eligible for an indexed pension, but was released because his post traumatic stress means he is unable to deploy overseas.  Among those also leaving is Cpl. Glen Kirkland. His plea to remain in the army last June was answered by former defence minister Peter MacKay with an a pledge he could stay until September 2015 — and that no members are released until they are ready.  But the offer turned out to be exclusive to Kirkland, who chose within the last few days to leave rather than be given special treatment.  “I joined as a member of a team, as a family,” Kirkland said in an interview from Shilo, Man.  “So, when I was offered an opportunity when no one else was, it just goes against everything I joined for.”  He will be formally discharged in March ….” – a bit of backstory here (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’m a moderator at milnet.ca)
  • Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs Minister asks people to remember, any way they can
  • Remembrance is especially poignant this year for Korean War veterans who made a journey back to the sites where they fought tirelessly 60 years agoThe trip, organized by Veterans Affairs Canada, coincided with the anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice.  These veterans will be carrying their reflections from the tour in their thoughts this November 11 ….”
  • ” “We need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace… “ — Lester B. Pearson, November 2, 1956 – The inscription on the national peacekeeping memorial — and the monument itself — have taken on new meaning.  Earlier this month the Pearson Centre, a Canadian institution devoted to the promotion of peace, security, human rights and the rule of law around the world, closed its doors in Ottawa for the last timeVery much in keeping with the overall response to this country’s steady global retrenchment, news of the closure evoked barely a whimper among members of the public or press ….”
  • Disarmament lobby group ceasefire.ca connects the dots between Senators and arms merchants
  • Way Up North (1)  Commentary  “Canada can learn a great deal from both Icelanders and their Norse ancestors when it comes to boldness ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  Commentary  “Last month, a humble marine bulk carrier made history transiting the Northwest Passage, opening a new chapter in Arctic shipping over the top of North America. Reactions depended on where people sit.  A U.S. federal government official helpfully discouraged Canadian focus on the Northwest Passage while we’re at odds over its legal status, something lawyers might or might not clear up by the end of the century. For those who favour Arctic development, the voyage offers a tempting glimpse of the new maritime economy oceanic warming may bring. Environmentalists foresee an apocalypse. For those with a love of history, the voyage recalls centuries of exploration and sacrifice by iron sailors in wooden ships searching for a shorter trade route between Europe and Asia.  A balanced and realistic reaction is in order ….”
  • 3D’s Mark Collins onOops! “Stateroom”: CSEC Helped NSA at Our Foreign Missions – more from Lux Ex Umbra blog here, and The Canadian Press here
  • From the NDP Info-machine  “In the wake of disturbing revelations about the activities of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) – Canada’s equivalent to the United States’ NSA – NDP Defence critic Jack Harris (St. John’s-East) wants greater Parliamentary oversight of the agency.  “Recent events have raised concern about CSEC’s activities,” said Harris. “As the former head of CSEC has said, there must be more parliamentary oversight for this agency and clear answers for Canadians about its activities.” ….” – more here
  • A police tribunal has heard that an activist, anti-police lawyer has no credibility when he claims he was arrested illegally during the G20 three years agoIn closing arguments, defence lawyer Alan Gold accused Nicholas Wright of either exaggerating or lying about what happened.  Wright accuses Const. Ryan Simpson of arresting him and warning him he had no right to remain silent.  But Gold calls the allegations absurd, and says there’s doubt about whether there even was an arrest ….”
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, issued the following statement (yesterday), following a keynote address at SecureTech 2013, an annual conference focussing on current and emerging security and public safety issues …. Digital networks form the backbone of Canada’s critical infrastructure sectors, and we have taken a proactive approach to secure our vital assets.  In the past year, our Government has taken decisive steps on a number of commitments — particularly in our work to engage the private sector and our critical infrastructure owners and operators in our cyber security efforts ….”
  • The unsteady sand of who is considered a terrorist in Canada has once again shifted in favour of a Tamil woman living in Toronto, whose politician husband was assassinated in Sri Lanka while attending Christmas Eve mass in 2005.  Weeks after Joseph Pararajasingham, a member of parliament in Sri Lanka, was shot dead, Canada granted residency to his widow, Sugunanayake Joseph, who was injured in the attack, to protect her safety. Bill Graham, Canada’s former foreign affairs minister, praised her husband at a memorial service as a “man of peace.”  In 2011, however, the Immigration and Refugee Board concluded that Ms. Joseph was a member of a terrorist group and should be deported because of her ties to her husband, who had ties to the Tamil Tigers.  Now, a judge has ruled that this summer’s Supreme Court of Canada decision — starkly redefining how Canada defines membership in a terrorist organization — means the 76-year-old widow would likely no longer qualify for that dark designation, suggesting a reprieve from deportation may be the best option ….”
  • RCMP helping Phillippines sort out policing issues  “A senior Mountie has been thrust into one of the least known and most intractable conflicts in the world.  Assistant RCMP Commissioner Randy Beck arrived in the Philippines last week to oversee the establishment of the Independent Commission on Policing (ICP) in war-weary Mindanao where many of the country’s seven million Muslims live and where more than 120,000 people have died over the past half century in fighting between Islamic insurgents and government forces.  Beck’s commission is to make recommendations next April on what kind of police force Mindanao will need if separation talks succeed. The ICP will be looking for a model that will reflect the southern region’s ethnic and cultural differences ….”

Written by milnewsca

30 October 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 27, 2013

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – July 13, 2013

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Written by milnewsca

13 July 13 at 9:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – July 12, 2013

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – June 10, 2013

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  • Afghanistan  There might also be a case to be made that she was working for Afghans, no?  “The letter that arrived at the home of a leading Afghan women’s rights activist in February 2012 was chilling. “Respected Adela Mohseni, you all the time betray religion and the Koran,” it began. Because she had ignored warnings and continued to “co-operate with infidels,” it said, she now faced death.  “After this, wherever our mujahedeen find you, it is obligated that they will sentence you to death and kill you in order to save our Islamic country.”  Such “night letters” are a common Taliban intimidation tactic, often producing deadly results for Afghans considered enemies of the fundamentalists. In this case, though, the message reverberated all the way to Canada.  Though not named in the letter, the “infidels” for whom Ms. Mohseni had been working were at a Canadian government-funded human rights institute. Since 2007, she had been employed in Kabul by Montreal-based Rights and Democracy, promoting legal reforms to protect the rights of women.  She went into hiding immediately after receiving the letter and then, on the advice of her superior at Rights and Democracy, fled with her family to India, seeking temporary refuge. Fifteen months later, she is still there, recognized as a refugee by the United Nations but unable to work, struggling to support her children and still fearing for her life.  “I was working for Canada, and they should support and secure me, but unfortunately they didn’t,” she wrote recently ….”
  • The Department of National Defence has been quietly spreading its wings and becoming a major torchbearer for Canadian diplomacy even as Canadian envoys stage rotating strikes and Foreign Affairs struggles to stay relevant.  Defence officials have been staging high-level meetings with foreign counterparts, spent millions of dollars more on foreign travel and hospitality and placed a greater emphasis on reaching out to non-traditional allies in recent years.  It’s all part of a dedicated strategy first launched two years ago and which has been steadily gaining steam – even as Canada’s traditional foreign service has wrestled with a diminished role and been told to focus on trade, trade and more trade.  National Defence would not make anyone available to talk about its Global Engagement Strategy, but internal documents obtained by Postmedia News show “defence diplomacy” to be a major focus in the post-Afghanistan era.  “This involves a broad spectrum of international activities by the defence team,” reads one briefing document prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay in March 2011, “from high-level engagement and visits, to international personnel placements, Canadian defence attaches, ship and aircraft visits, joint exercises and capacity-building initiatives.” ….”
  • The Canadian Army has suspended military operations in the vicinity of a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast of Greenland that has been the source of an ongoing spat between Canada and Denmark, Postmedia News has learnedAccording to documents obtained under access to information legislation, the former chief of the defence staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, issued a directive in September 2012 that ordered Canadian Forces’ “operations in the vicinity of Hans Island be minimized with the exception of search and rescue (SAR) or emergency operations.”  Hans Island, which is only 1.3 square kilometres, sits between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland. While a maritime border has been agreed upon since 1973, the land border has caused diplomatic tension over the years.”
  • Veterans Affairs staff are bracing for as many as 500 job cuts.  The third round of cuts in the department is rumoured to be planned for later this month, though the government will not confirm if this is the case.  The government eliminated 278 full-time positions by the beginning of May but still has 506 more to cut, according to the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees.  Union president Yvan Thauvette said staff expect notices to go out shortly after the House of Commons rises this month or before it resumes in September.  “Most of the time they don’t want questions to be asked, so that’s why they send the letters when the House is not sitting,” he said.  The department has also quietly killed a quarterly performance report card that measured how well services were being delivered. The corporate performance reports also polled veterans on their satisfaction with the department.  The last report went out in November 2011, one month after the government confirmed it was planning to cut more than $200 million from the Veterans Affairs budget ….”
  • Results of an anonymous survey to be released in the fall by National Defence will shed more light on the extent of military sexual assault, including what has been called the silent crime of male-on-male rape.  Almost 68,000 troops, 86 per cent of them men, were asked last August to voluntarily complete the Canadian Forces Workplace Harassment Survey. It asks respondents their gender, years of service and rank, along with 100 questions ranging from personal harassment to whether they’ve ever been raped.  It’s the first time the military has done such a survey since 1998.  Results could provide valuable insight into the extent of military sexual violence — an issue that former soldiers and frontline social workers say is rarely reported. The extent to which men in the military are sexually attacked by other men is even more cloaked in silence, they say ….”
  • One blogger’s analysis of the Green Party’s stance on Canadian defence
  • A gay British soldier says Prince Harry rescued him from a homophobic attack by infantry members during a training exercise in Canada.  Trooper James Wharton became the target of abuse in 2008 after bragging about ‘‘scoring’’ with a fellow soldier.  ‘‘I think I’m about to be murdered by the infantry,’’ Trooper Wharton told Prince Harry who was his tank commander at the time.  After hearing the story the third-in-line to the throne reportedly declared: ‘‘Right, I’m going to sort this s**t out once  and for all.’’  ‘‘Harry climbed out of the tank and started having a go,’’ Trooper Wharton, who was then 21, writes in a book extract published in British tabloid The Mail on Sunday.  ‘‘He wasn’t holding back. Prince Harry was sticking up for me and putting a stop to the trouble.  ‘‘I had been on track for a battering and had been rescued.’’  Trooper Wharton, who quit the army earlier this year, writes that after hosing down the 2008 incident Prince Harry told him: ‘‘I  told those other lads to back the f**k off.’’ ….” – more in the Daily Mail piece here
  • Reports that U.S. authorities have been trawling for data from the biggest companies on the internet have so rattled Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, she’s seeking clarity from the country’s cryptologic agency to find out what this means for CanadiansStories Thursday in the Guardian and the Washington Post detailed the U.S. National Security Agency‘s PRISM program – warrantless intelligence-gathering that ostensibly targeted foreigners and reportedly involved collecting personal information from the servers of willing companies. All the participating companies listed have vehemently denied any knowledge of the program, which a U.S. government spokesman has called ”among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect.”  “The scope of information reportedly being collected raises significant concerns,” Scott Hutchinson, a spokesperson for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, said in an email.  “Going forward, we plan to express our concerns to and seek information from the Commissioner of the Communication Security Establishment to determine how the personal information of Canadians may be affected.” ….” – more on the PRISM program here, more on Canada’s approval of some of the work here, some media commentary here and here, and some commentary from a former CSIS dude here
  • The federal government says it will allow an Ottawa man accused of terrorist ties to have a mobile phone, but balks at the idea of giving Mohamed Harkat access to the internet or removing his electronic tracking bracelet.  In documents filed with the Federal Court, the government says it is also open to dropping a requirement that Harkat get prior approval before travelling out of town.  The concessions would ease current release conditions for Harkat, but fall short of the full list of freedoms he will seek Tuesday during a one-day Federal Court hearing.  It has been more than a decade since Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, was arrested under a national security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent — an accusation he denies.  He has essentially been living under house arrest with stringent conditions for seven years ….”
  • On his way to becoming Canada’s top cop, Bob Paulson told internal reviewers the national security certificate process for detaining suspected terrorists was “completely off the rails,” newly released documents showIn an interview with an auditor examining the controversial program, Paulson, now RCMP commissioner, expressed concerns about excessive state secrecy in certificate proceedings.  The national security certificate is a seldom-used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage from Canada.  “In my view, we over claim the protection of sources and methods and this is convenient if you can get away with it,” say notes from the October 2009 interview, recently released under the Access to Information Act.  Paulson was assistant RCMP commissioner for national security at the time of the interview. Two years later, he was picked by the Harper government to become commissioner ….”
  • A bomb threat that forced one of the Canadian Cancer Society’s biggest fundraisers to cancel on Friday night is still being felt by other groups organizing their annual walks and runs this weekendHalifax Regional Police said someone called 911 from a payphone at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street and made threats that alluded to the Boston Marathon bombing.  Nearby, nearly 700 people were gathered at the Oval in the Halifax Common for the Relay for Life.  Police met with the organizers and the fundraiser was called off, ruining a year’s worth of work by dozens of volunteers ….”
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