News Highlights – August 7, 2013

  • A 50-year-old soldier charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife has been remanded in custody during a brief video court appearance Tuesday afternoon.  Howard Richmond, a warrant officer in the Canadian Forces, sat upright at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre as he stated his name for the record and answered “yes, sir” when spoken to …. ” – more on the case at here (DISCLOSURE:  I’m a moderator at
  • Howard Richmond, charged last week in the brutal stabbing death of his wife, was under the supervision of an Ottawa military rehabilitation unit that is overloaded to the point of being dysfunctional, says a former senior soldier.  There is no way Richmond or any other ill or injured Canadian soldier in the support system could be properly tracked, Barry Westholm told the Citizen.  “It’s in disarray, it’s a disaster,” said Westholm, who until earlier this year was the senior non-commissioned officer overseeing the Joint Personnel Support Unit’s (JPSU) Eastern Ontario region.  The JPSU is the military’s umbrella company for 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres (IPSCs) across Canada where mentally and physically injured soldiers are supposed to be monitored and sent for appropriate treatment and re-training ….” – more on the state of the JPSU here
  • In a secret corner of the military’s national headquarters in Ottawa is the office of Lt.-Col. Francis Castonguay. He has a crucial role — heading the task force struck three years ago to drive changes to the Canadian Armed Forces so the army, navy and air force could operate in cyberspace.  While other countries have created their own cyber-units — the Chinese are said to have a sophisticated team of military hackers and the Americans house their cyber soldiers inside the NSA — Canada is taking a different path.  “We don’t have a commander of cyber, nor do we think we necessarily need one,” Castonguay said.  “We need to make some adjustments on how we manage things … but it does not mean we need to create new entities or completely transform the Canadian Forces to be effective,” he said ….”
  • More from the Pentagon’s Info-machine  “A sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy communicates with pilots of an MH-60R Sea Hawk, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75, as it takes off from the deck of the Canadian frigate HMCS Regina (FFH 334) while conducting a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106). Stockdale is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and is currently conducting a transit of the Western Pacific Ocean.”
  • Way Up North  “In Moscow, a map produced by the Canadian Department of Natural Resources has pride of place in Arctic Ambassador Anton Vasiliev’s office in the Stalinist-era skyscraper that houses the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The choice of wall décor reflects the fact that Russia and Canada are predominately influential in the Arctic, together with the United States. It also indicates how climate change and rising demand for natural resources has propelled the Arctic into the mainstream of international diplomacy.  This rapid repositioning of the Arctic has caught many journalists ill-equipped to explain the situation. As a result, most reporting about the Arctic has paid too much attention to the remote possibility of interstate conflict, while overlooking the cooperation that is actually taking place ….”
  • The foil-hatters on Canada in Haiti  “Perhaps understandably, the Canadian media has been having a hard time covering any news that isn’t to do with one of the following: the mayor of Toronto maybe smoking crack with a murdered drug dealer; the mayor of Montreal being charged with cavorting with the mafia; Calgary being swallowed by floods; and the Prime Minister allegedly paying off a corrupt senator to put out a political firestorm.  Which makes it the perfect time for the Canadian government to quietly announce the deployment of an infantry platoon of 34 soldiers to Haiti ….”
  • pushes the anti-nuke thing some more  “It has been 68 years since America’s nuclear attacks on Japan, and world leaders are still discussing nuclear arms reduction and disarmament to be achieved “someday.”  But unprepared to sit and wait while thousands of nuclear weapons remain on full alert, citizens are organizing on every continent to demand their governments establish a convention banning nuclear weapons ….”
  • What the Brits are up to out west  “The Queen’s Royal Hussars have been reunited with their Challenger 2 tanks, after 3 years, for Exercise Prairie Thunder.  Taking place in Canada, the exercise is the culmination of foundation training for 20th Armoured Brigade, before they start preparing for operations in Afghanistan ….” – more here
  • Whazzup with the former commander of Canada’s Army?  “Fanshawe College’s Board of Governors today announced that Peter Devlin (Lieutenant General Retired), the former Commander of the Canadian Army, will become the College’s fifth President, effective September 3, 2013.  Known to live at the front line and respected for his wisdom, balanced approach, and collaborative style, Devlin is an extraordinarily effective leader who has had a distinguished, 35-year career with the Armed Forces. During that time, he has commanded troops in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the United States ….” – local cheesy headline coverage here
  • Canadian citizenship laws may need to be overhauled if a so-called “lost Canadian” wins her legal battleJackie Scott, 68, was refused citizenship even though she came to Canada with her British mother and Canadian father at the age of two. A judicial review of that refusal was scheduled for July, but Scott put it on hold so she and her lawyers could broaden the court action.  Documents filed Friday in Federal Court in Vancouver show Scott is petitioning for “declarations” from the court that could have serious ramifications for Canadian citizenship, including whether Parliament has total control over who is considered Canadian ….” – more here
  • The United States wants its police officers to be exempt from Canadian law if they agree to take part in a highly touted cross-border policing initiative, says an internal RCMP memoThe debate over whose laws would apply to U.S. officers working in Canada raises important questions of sovereignty and police accountability, says the briefing note prepared for RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.  “Canadians would likely have serious concerns with cross-designated officers from the U.S. not being accountable for their actions in Canada.”  The planned pilot project — part of a sweeping Canada-U.S. perimeter security pact — would see the two countries build on joint border-policing efforts by creating integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations.  The perimeter deal, being phased in over several years, aims to ensure the safe, speedy passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel while bolstering North American defences ….” – an editorial on how bad an idea this is here
  • Canada’s high commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh, reopened its doors Monday after a “security precaution” resulted in one-day closure of the embassy on Sunday, according to the Foreign Affairs Department.  The Canadian mission was back in business one day after the United States announced it would close four more embassies — in addition to another 15 embassies and consulates that were shut down over the weekend.  U.S. embassies in Mauritius, Rwanda, Burundi and Madagascar will be closed from Monday, Aug. 5 to Saturday, Aug. 10, during the last few days of Ramadan — a month of fasting observed by Muslims. U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday that the additional closures were not in response to any new threats, but “out of an abundance of caution.” ….”
  • Editorial on embassy closures  “…. The embassy closures provide at least two lessons. First, the Islamists have scored a propaganda win even without an attack, poking the West in its collective eye and making it blink. Second, the fact al-Qaida can still “terrorize” suggests President Barack Obama was premature in claiming the terrorist threat had faded with Bin Laden’s death in 2011. Indeed, this latest situation puts paid to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark last week that “we have eliminated most of the (terrorist) threat.”  Perhaps so, but there’s a third lesson politicians should bear in mind: Hubris toward the enemy is never a good idea.”
  • War of 1812  The Government of Ontario has some ideas to help your kids learn about the War of 1812

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