The Tuesday news briefing An ataglance survey of some top stories

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first_imgHighlights from the news file for Tuesday, June 27———LIBERALS INHERITED $18B BUDGET DEFICIT FLOOR, TRUDEAU SAYS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is arguing that his government has been sticking to its spending vows after entering office with a budgetary starting point of negative $18 billion. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Trudeau said the Liberals were consistent with their election pledge to spend about $10 billion in 2016-17, their first full year in office. He says the Liberals came to power in late 2015 with a baseline deficit of $18 billion even though their Conservative predecessors had predicted a balanced budget. The Trudeau government has been criticized for its budgetary outlook that projects several years of deficits, including a $23-billion shortfall for 2016-17. Trudeau says the government is focusing on making investments to lift the economy and he vows to remain fiscally responsible when it comes to spending. The prime minister also once again sidestepped a question on when Ottawa would balance its books. The latest federal budget does not project when Ottawa will eliminate the deficit and predicts shortfalls across its outlook until 2021-22.———SOLITARY CONFINEMENT SUIT TO PROCEED WITHOUT DELAY: A civil liberties group says a judge has denied a request to delay a lawsuit that challenges the use of indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons. The Attorney General of Canada asked the Supreme Court of British Columbia to adjourn the trial scheduled to begin next Tuesday after the federal government introduced legislation that would restrict the use of solitary confinement. But the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says the court has decided the case should go ahead as scheduled. The association and the John Howard Society of Canada are co-plaintiffs in the case and argued the amendments introduced by Ottawa do not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Once passed, the bill would impose for the first time a so-called legislative framework establishing a time limit for what prison officials call administrative segregation. It was introduced after several high-profile solitary confinement cases, including the 2007 death of Ashley Smith of Moncton, N.B., an emotionally disturbed 19-year-old who died in custody after tying a strip of cloth around her neck.———TRUDEAU CONFIDENT CANADA WILL WIN ON SOFTWOOD: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will persist with its efforts to negotiate a new softwood lumber deal with the United States despite a second round of import tariffs slapped on Canadian wood by the U.S. this week. Late Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce ruled Canadian softwood producers were dumping lumber into the U.S. at prices lower than market value in Canada and added another 6.87 per cent in import duties to most Canadian softwood. The decision — which is a preliminary figure awaiting final determination later this year — brings the average import duty to 26.75 per cent, when added to the countervailing duties the U.S. imposed at the end of April, arguing Canadian wood is unfairly subsidized. Trudeau says Canada has repeatedly emerged triumphant each time the U.S.-Canada softwood dispute lands in the courts, and expects the same outcome again. He said the introduction of both countervailing and anti-dumping duties is similar to what has happened in past softwood disputes. This is the fifth time the United States has imposed duties on softwood since 1981, and each time the two countries have eventually come to a negotiated settlement.———PENTAGON SAW ‘ACTIVE PREPARATIONS’ FOR SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACK: The Trump administration threatened Tuesday that Syria will pay “a heavy price” if it follows through on what the U.S. says are preparations for another chemical weapons attack — warning of action that could plunge America deeper into a civil war alongside the fight against Islamic State militants. The chemical threat and sudden White House warning illustrate the challenging complexities of the fighting in Syria, a country whose territory was used by ISIL to march into Iraq in 2014 and prompt a U.S. return to the Middle East’s battlefield. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he won’t stand for Syria’s use of chemical weapons, which are banned under international law and are particularly worrisome in the Arab country because they could fall into extremists’ hands. The Pentagon on Tuesday said it detected “active preparations” by Syria for a chemical attack from the same air base where Syrian aircraft embarked on a sarin gas strike on April 4, killing almost 90 people. Days later, Trump ordered a cruise missile attack against the base in retaliation. The Syrian government has denied it ever used banned chemicals, and it rejected Washington’s latest allegation Tuesday.———CYBERATTACK CAUSES MASS DSIRUPTION GLOBALLY: A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across the world, hitting companies and governments in Europe especially hard. Officials in Ukraine reported serious intrusions of the country’s power grid as well as at banks and government offices, where one senior executive posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down.” The prime minister cautioned that the country’s “vital systems” hadn’t been affected. Russia’s Rosneft oil company also reported falling victim to hacking and said it had narrowly avoided major damage, as did Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk. The attack was confirmed to have spread beyond Europe when U.S. drugmaker Merck, based in New Jersey, said its systems had also been compromised. The number of companies and agencies reportedly affected by the ransomware campaign was piling up fast, and the electronic rampage appeared to be rapidly snowballing into a worldwide crisis. There’s very little information about what might be behind the disruption at each specific company, but cybersecurity experts rapidly zeroed in on a form of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.———TRUDEAU DEFENDS CHINESE TAKEOVER OF NORSAT: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought Tuesday to assuage public fears and political complaints that the Liberal government’s decision to allow the Chinese takeover of a Canadian satellite technology company would compromise national security at home and abroad. Hytera Communications Co. Ltd. is set to take over Norsat International Inc., which manufactures radio transceivers and radio systems used by the American military and Canada’s NATO partners. The private Chinese firm first made a bid for the Vancouver-based technology company in 2016, triggering a review under federal law to ensure Canadian interests weren’t harmed in the foreign takeover. Trudeau insisted that his government would never approve any foreign takeover if there is even a hint of concern that it would harm national security. Opposition MPs have repeatedly raised concerns about the Norsat takeover and there is unease among congressional representatives in the United States about allowing the Chinese firm access to sensitive defence technology. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defence said it is reviewing all its business dealings with Norsat as a result of the deal.———SNIPER SHOT SHOULD BE ‘CELEBRATED,’ TRUDEAU SAYS: The record-breaking kill shot by a Canadian sniper in Iraq should be “celebrated,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, even as he insisted Canada’s mission in the battle-racked country remains a non-combat one. National Defence revealed last week that a member of Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit was supporting Iraqi forces when he shot an ISIL fighter who was 3,540 metres away. That is more than a kilometre farther than the previous record, held by a British sniper who shot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2009. News of the shot sparked both accolades and disbelief around the world, but it also prompted NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to rekindle a long-standing debate about whether Canadian troops in Iraq are in combat. In an interview Tuesday, Mulcair said he was “more than surprised to hear the Canadian prime minister say that the killing of another human being is something that should be celebrated.” Mulcair repeated his demand that the prime minister come clean with Canadians on the fact the military is engaged in combat in Iraq, despite Liberal promises and statements to the contrary.———TRUMP NAME TO BE DROPPED FROM TORONTO TOWER: Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower will soon no longer bear the Trump name, a change experts say is likely the result of the U.S. president alienating customers who disagree with his politics. JCF Capital, the new owner of the hotel and condominium tower, said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with a unit of the Trump Organization to buy out management contracts for the property for an undisclosed amount. While U.S. President Donald Trump never owned the building, his Trump Organization licensed his name to and operated the property, which has struggled financially and been the focus of a long-running legal battle after opening in 2012. Representatives of both JCF and the Trump Organization said in a press release that their relationship has been good and they may work again together in the future. Both sides declined to comment further.———HALIFAX PORT TO WELCOME ITS BIGGEST SHIP YET: If the Zim Antwerp, a massive container ship that will call on Halifax on Thursday, were to stand on its stern, it would dwarf Atlantic Canada’s tallest building. At 349 metres long, the vessel is more than three times the height of Fenwick Tower, a 98-metre Halifax apartment building. The Zim Antwerp is about as long as Canada’s tallest office tower, Toronto’s First Canadian Place — if you include the skyscraper’s antenna. When the boat laboriously inches into berths 41 and 42 at Halifax’s Halterm Container Terminal on Thursday morning, the Zim Antwerp will break a record for the biggest ship yet to make Halifax a port of call. In shipping speak, its container capacity is 10,062 TEU, or 20-foot equivalent units. A combination of deep berths, long piers and the right yard equipment, including four super-post-Panamax cranes — the largest modern container cranes available — has put Halifax on the map of ultra-class container ships. The city has traditionally accepted vessels in the 4,000 to 6,000 TEU range.———A VERY SMALL WAY TO MARK CANADA 150: Scientists at the University of Alberta are celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday on a nanoscale. They believe they have created the world’s smallest sculpture of a maple leaf, measuring just 10 nanometres across. That’s 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and 100 times smaller than the world’s smallest national flag, created by researchers at the University of Waterloo last year. The leaf is only visible with a million-dollar piece of equipment called a scanning tunnelling microscope. The Alberta researchers describe the silicon crystal wafer on which the leaf is built as bubble wrap where the bubbles are hydrogen atoms that can be popped to create patterns. It’s a technique that’s being used to create and study circuitry to make smaller and faster computer components. For the record, the world’s largest maple leaf was found by a family in Richmond, B.C., in 2010, measuring 53 centimetres wide by 52.2 centimetres long. Others have claimed to have found bigger leaves, but those weren’t verified by Guinness. The leaf created at the University of Alberta is 53 million times smaller than that.———last_img

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