News Highlights – 18 Feb 11

  • For the latest on China’s alleged cyber attack on Canadian government systems (including Defence Research and Development Canada), check news streams on the story here (Google News), here (NewsNow) or here (Yahoo News).
  • Canada’s Defence Minister’s set to announce “support (for) the ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel, former CF personnel, their families and the families of the deceased” at CFB Trenton today. QMI/Sun Media’s estimation of what’s coming“The Conservative government is set to announce millions in new funding to ensure returning soldiers who need medical or employment help have a less frustrating experience, QMI Agency has learned. Defence Minister Peter MacKay will announce Friday in Trenton, Ont., $6.9 million in infrastructure costs over three years and $4 million a year to operate five new one-stop shops for soldiers, veterans and their families. “When you are ill or injured, you just have to go to one roof and everything is there for you,” a senior government source said. “It’s to improve the quality of care for those people who serve our country and defend our interests.” The new centres will be in Canadian Forces Bases in Comox, B.C., Cold Lake, Alta., Borden, Ont., Trenton, Ont., and Bagotville, Que ….”
  • Snagging drugs all part of a day’s work for Canadians working next to Afghan security forces. “A frail Afghan man is brought before Capt. Patrick Chartrand, begging for the return of five bags full of drugs that weigh about twice as much as him.  “All the people are growing opium,” the man, who appears to be in his 60s, says in Pashto.  “I am a poor man. What can I do?”  A group of Afghan National Army officers mentored by Canadians seized 108 kilograms of what’s believed to be opium earlier this week. Military officials will test it later for verification.  It is the largest drug haul in an eastern swath of Panjwaii district since the Royal 22e Regiment’s Bravo Company arrived in the area in early December.  “I was pretty surprised about this,” said Chartrand, 32. “I was not expecting that in my day when I woke up.” ….”
  • Next chopper pilots & crews headed downrange prepare in the U.S. “Exercise Desert Gander launched off station Feb. 1, 2011, marking the final step of predeployment training for approximately 220 members of Canadian military forces. During the exercise, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based with the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, practiced air-to-ground firing exercises, dust ball training and convoy operations at the ranges surrounding Yuma. “Dust ball training helps door gunners and pilots learn to deal with dust clouds that form when landing,” said Cpl. Ted McGirr, 408 Squadron flight engineer and right door gunner. “Another aspect to consider is the heat. When it is very hot the air is thin and it makes it difficult to lift off. By conducting these exercises we gain much needed experience.” The squadron has held their winter training here for the last three years, due to its ideal training environment and optimum facilities. “The terrain here is very similar to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Bob Hackett, executive officer and adjutant. “The heat and dust, something you don’t find in Canada, help our guys prepare for what we are going to see in our deployment.” ….”
  • Ronald Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P. A date has been set for a new court martial for a Nova Scotia reservist who successfully appealed his conviction in the fatal shooting of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2007. The Defence Department says the new trial of Matthew Wilcox will begin on April 26 in Halifax before a military judge alone. Wilcox, who was a corporal, will face the same charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty. Wilcox, from Glace Bay, N.S., won an appeal of his earlier conviction at the Court Martial Appeal Court after his lawyers complained that the makeup of the military jury was unfair at his trial in Sydney, N.S ….” A bit more in the Canadian Forces news release here.
  • Column:  What else COULD Canada really do or say about Egypt? “…. So what should the Canadian position in all this be? The Harper government had it exactly right during the demonstrations: stability was important and an orderly transition was critical. That still remains the correct position, despite what the Jeffrey Simpsons and Jim Traverses might write in their columns. The reality is that Canada has never had much influence in the Middle East, and such as it has today should be directed toward promoting stability ….”
  • A bit of American gauge-fixing work for SOME Canadian company“$573,950 Federal Contract Awarded to Canadian Commercial WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 — Canadian Commercial Corp., Ottawa, Canada, won a $573,950.40 federal contract from the U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command, Philadelphia, for repair of digital indicators.”
  • More union worries about the (alleged) Canada-U.K. joint ship talks. “Shipyard workers say they don’t trust federal government assurances that new naval warships and coast guard cutters will be built in Canada. Jamie Vaslet, of the CAW Marine Workers Federation, told a news conference on Parliament Hill that the Harper government has broken its word before, namely over the elimination of a 25 per cent tariff on ships built outside the country. “They hung us out to dry once (and) I don’t believe they’ll answer any questions because there is a hidden agenda,” Vaslet said Thursday. “If they don’t then they shouldn’t have a problem answering the questions that are asked.” He said the idea that Canada is talking to Britain about participation in the Global Combat Ship Program — the Royal Navy’s plan to replace its frigate fleet — “scares the hell” out of him and his members …”
  • Military “Hesco” barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A portable barrier that’s been used to foil terrorist attacks has been recruited for use in Manitoba’s spring flood fight. The province and the city bought nine kilometres of the Hesco bastion from the United States to top up the province’s primary diking system. The large wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud.  Randy Hull, the City of Winnipeg’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator, says the mesh cages won’t replace sandbag dikes but there should be fewer clay dikes needed along places like North and South Drive in the Fort Garry neighbourhood. “It’s about rapid deployment, and it’s about logistics,” said Hull ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchIt’s not the Taliban killing most of the kids, and it’s not the Taliban’s web page telling all the lies, honest!