Only 14 of a batch of 48 grant applications to the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council have been approved because national security agencies considered 32 others too risky; two were withdrawn. The reviews stem from government guidelines introduced in July 2021 at a time of heightened concern about the rise of China and other authoritarian regimes.
The latest annual Public Accounts of Canada show that the federal government failed to spend $38.2 billion in approved funds in 2021-2022, a record amount which eclipsed $32.2 billion in the previous fiscal year. Departments blame a range of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic, but point out that much of the unspent money remains available for subsequent years.
The federal government’s agreement to repatriate Canadians detained in Syria on suspicion of involvement in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a concern for some of the 1,200 Yazidis who fled to Canada when ISIS destroyed their community in northern Iraq. Lawyers for the detainees contend there is no link to terrorism, saying that if the federal government does have evidence, it should prosecute in a Canadian court. Some Yazidis believe that the government and human rights organizations are naïve.
Effective January 31, British Columbia begins a three-year experiment in decriminalizing small amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA possessed by persons 18 and older. The federal government granted an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last May and while it is not expected to stop users from being killed by tainted drugs it is considered a step forward.
A bomb believed to have been planted by the Taliban killed at least 59 people and wounded 157 others praying in a mosque near police headquarters in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the attackers “have nothing to do with Islam” and that “the entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism.”
The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus remain a global emergency even though an expert panel says higher levels of immunity can virus-related deaths. “There is no doubt that we're in a far better situation” than a year ago, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging vulnerable group to be fully vaccinated and ignore “misinformation” about masking and social distancing.
Forty-one suicides in Ontario’s correctional facilities in 2021, nearly double the previous year, have prompted calls for Solicitor General Michael Kerzner to set up a “dedicated independent oversight body.” Some 40 advocacy and other groups say in a letter it would “ensure timely reporting on deaths in custody and assist in taking urgent action.”
Petr Pavel, 61, a former Czech Republic army general and head of NATO’s military committee, was elected to the country’s presidency January 28. Campaigning as a social liberal, he promised to keep the country firmly anchored in the West and will take office in March.
The British Broadcasting Corporation has taken its Arabic service off-air after 85 years as part of a cost-cutting exercise. It is part of an increased focus on digital services which also affects nine other 10 foreign-language services, including Chinese, Hindi and Persian.
The U.S. Justice Department of Justice has charged three suspects in a foiled plot to kill Iranian-American journalist and human rights advocate. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Iran had previously targeted the critic.
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commission for Refugee since January 2016, has accused Russia of violating “fundamental” principles by issuing passports to unaccompanied Ukrainian child refugees and then putting them up for adoption. “In the situation of war, you cannot determine if children have families or guardianship,” the Italian diplomat said January 27. “Until that is clarified, you cannot give them another nationality or having them adopted. Russia denies the allegation.
A gunman killed at least seven people and wounded 10 others today in an attack on a synagogue on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a day after a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. Police, who described the dead shooter as a Palestinian, called it a “terrorist incident” but a Hamas spokesman said it was “a natural response to the occupation criminal actions.”