31 January 2023   (CNN)

Schools and transportation networks in France were heavily disrupted today for the second time this month as unions staged widespread strikes against government plans to gradually raise most worker’ retirement age to 64 from 62. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne says the plan is “not negotiable” due to a national pension funding deficit.

31 January 2023   (Globe & Mail)

Amira Elghawaby, recently appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a special representative on combatting Islamophobia, co-authored a 2019 article which critical of Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans some public servants from wearing “religious symbols” such as traditional head-coverings. Pushback in the National Assembly and Parliament prompted the PM to seek clarification of her comment after which said he said he is satisfied and prepared to move on.

31 January 2023   (Al Jazeera)

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says all countries ae “dangerously unprepared” for future pandemics in an evolving era of climate-related disasters. In a January 30 World Disasters Report, it urges countries to update preparedness plans by the end of this year. “The next pandemic could be just around the corner,” says its Nepali Secretary General Jagan Chapagain. “If the experience of COVID-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?”

31 January 2023   (BBC)

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who left his country after losing last October’s election, claiming it was fraudulent, has applied for a six-month U.S. tourist visa. He arrived in Florida on a diplomatic visa before supporters rioted in Brasilia and Democrats in Congress say the U.S. “must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions.”

31 January 2023   (CTV)

A majority of Members of Parliament evidently like the hybrid approach to the House of Commons which has prevailed since the pandemic erupted three years ago. Conservative MP John Nater, vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Procedures & House Affairs, admits “there have been some benefits” from enabling MPs to work and vote remotely, a permanent extension of the hybrid Parliament would be going “too far, too fast” and that in-person sittings should continue for the time being.

31 January 2023   (CP)

Canadian physicians spend 18.5 million hours a year on unnecessary administrative work, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It recommends that provincial governments could reduce the red tape by 10 per cent, potentially freeing up time for up to 5.5 million patient visits annually.

31 January 2023   (AP)

Reacting to reports that Huawei’s access to U.S. chips and other computer essentials could be further constrained, China accused it today of pursuing “technology hegemony.” A Commerce Department “entity” list has limited the global telecom giant’s access since 2019 and the Chinese foreign ministry said the latest development would be “over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power.”

31 January 2023   (Ottawa Citizen)

A Public Service Alliance of Canada unit representing more than 10,400 federal workers who operate government buildings and services is asking for a 47 per cent increase in total compensation over three years. A Public Interest Commission tribunal says the proposal “would result in an increase to compensation far beyond what is reasonable.”

31 January 2023   (CP)

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a parliamentary committee January 30 that while testing continues, there is no reason to believe national security is at risk from a RCMP standing order for radio-frequency filtering gear from Sinclair Technologies. The Ontario firm is a subsidiary of Norsat International in B.C. which is owned by Shenzen-based Hytera, banned in the U.S. because of its links to the Chinese military.

31 January 2023   (BBC)

A Taliban splinter group is being blamed for a January 30 suicide-bomb attack that killed at least 100 persons and wounded scores of others in Pakistan near its northwestern border with Afghanistan. The mosque in Peshawar is within a high-security zone which includes regional security headquarters.

30 January 2023   (AP)

U.S. President Joe Biden said today that his administration will end early three years of emergency coronavirus pandemic measures on May 11. The Democrat administration is responding to pressure by Republican members of Congress to terminate the measure immediately. The delay effectively enables health authorities to transition to handling the situation endemically.

30 January 2023   (Globe & Mail)

Researchers at 50 Canadian universities have collaborated for nearly two decades with Chinese military scientists at the National University of Defence Technology, according to Strider Technologies, a strategic intelligence company headquartered in Utah. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has warned that China increasingly uses joint academic research to obtain innovative science and technology. NUDT was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2015 because it posed a “significant risk” to national-security or foreign-policy interests.