U.S. strikes at a Huawei prize: chip juggernaut HiSilicon

Josh Horwitz
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. flag and a smartphone with the Huawei and 5G network logo are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustratio

By Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The latest U.S. government action against China's Huawei takes direct aim at the company's HiSilicon chip division -- a business that in a few short years has become central to China's ambitions in semiconductor technology but will now lose access to tools that are central to its success.

That could make it the most damaging U.S. attack yet against a Chinese company that U.S. officials told reporters Wednesday functioned as a "tool of strategic influence" for the Chinese Communist Party. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd for its part denounced the U.S. allegations and called the new measures "arbitrary and pernicious."

Established in 2004, HiSilicon develops chips mostly for Huawei, and for most of its existence has been an afterthought in a global chip business dominated by U.S., Korean and Japanese companies. Like most electronics firms, Huawei relied on others for the chips that powered its equipment.

But heavy investment in research and development helped drive rapid progress at HiSilicon, and in recent years the 7,000-employee unit has been central to Huawei's rise as a dominant player in the global smartphone business and the emerging 5G telecom networking business.

HiSilicon's Kirin smartphone processor is now considered to be on par with those created by Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Qualcomm Inc <QCOM.O> --a rare example of an advanced Chinese semiconductor product that competes globally.

HiSilicon is also central to Huawei's leadership in 5G, stepping into the breach when the United States cut off access to some U.S. chips last year.

In March, Huawei revealed that 8% of the 50,000 5G base stations it sold in 2019 came with no U.S. technology, using HiSilicon chipsets instead.

But the U.S. export control rule, first reported by Reuters last week, aims to block HiSilicon's access to two crucial tools: chip design software from U.S. firms including Cadence Design Systems Inc <CDNS.O> and Synopsys Inc <SNPS.O>, and the manufacturing prowess of "foundries," led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd <2330.TW>, that build chips for many of the world's top semiconductor firms.

With the new restrictions,HiSilicon "will be in a situation where they’re not able to manufacture chips at all, or if they do, then they’re not leading edge anymore," says Stewart Randall, who tracks China's chip industry at Shanghai-based consultancy Intralink.

Without its own processors, Huawei will lose its edge over domestic smartphone rivals, analysts said. International sales had already been gutted by a ban on the use of key Google software.

Industry sources say Huawei has stockpiled chips, and the new U.S. rule will not go into full force for 120 days. U.S. officials also note that licenses could be granted for some technologies. HiSilicon can also keep using design software it has already acquired.


HILSILICON IN TOUGH SPOT

Still, analysts agree HiSilicon is in a tough spot. Nearly all chip factories globally -- including China's leading foundry, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp <0981.HK> -- buy gear from the same equipment makers, led by U.S. firms Applied Materials Inc <AMAT.O>, Lam Research Corp <LRCX.O> and KLA Corp <KLAC.O>.

The new U.S. rule requires licenses for companies using U.S. machinery to build Huawei-designed chips and delivered to the Chinese firm. To be sure, the new rule will not catch items shipped to a third party, allowing HiSilicon's fabricators like TSMC the ability to ship chips to HiSilicon’s device manufacturers who can send them directly to a customer.

While there are alternatives to American machines - Japan's Tokyo Electron Ltd <8035.T>, for example, makes gear that competes with Applied Materials - replacing U.S. technology is not as simple as swapping out a machine.

“You almost have to think about it like a heart transplant," said VLSI Research Chief Executive Dan Hutcheson, noting that chip production lines are finely calibrated systems where everything has to work well together.

Doug Fuller of the City University of Hong Kong said Huawei had a few options. It could slip around the rule by having suppliers ship directly to Huawei customers, though the U.S. officials said they would be vigilant about such workarounds.

Huawei and the Chinese government could re-double efforts to build production capabilities that did not require U.S. tools, by investing in nascent Chinese competitors and buying from Japanese and Korean firms, even if that required quality sacrifices.

Or Huawei could turn away from HiSilicon and revert to buying from overseas suppliers -- just not American ones. "There’s talk of Huawei just turning to Samsung processors," for its smartphone, said Fuller.

(This story corrects name of university in paragraph 16)


(Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Lisa Shumaker)

  • U.S. departure from WHO another 'big headache for Canada'
    Politics
    Yahoo News Canada

    U.S. departure from WHO another 'big headache for Canada'

    The U.S is no stranger to departing major global organizations, but the ramifications of this particular exit could spell costly for current member nations, including their closest ally in Canada.  

  • Depp says feces in bed was last straw in marriage to Heard
    Celebrity
    The Canadian Press

    Depp says feces in bed was last straw in marriage to Heard

    LONDON — Johnny Depp said in a London court on Friday that he was left embittered by ex-wife Amber Heard's claims he abused her, which turned him from “Cinderella to Quasimodo” in the public eye.He also said the couple's tempestuous marriage broke down for good after an incident in which he accused Heard or one of her friends of defecating in the couple's bed.“I thought that was an oddly fitting end to the relationship," he said.Depp was concluding almost four days of evidence in his libel case against a British tabloid newspaper that accused him of physically abusing Heard. The Hollywood star is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.”In the High Court witness box, Depp has described a volatile relationship with Heard that descended into screaming matches which sometimes turned physical. But he has strongly denied hitting Heard and accused her of compiling a dossier of fake claims against him as an “insurance policy.”Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard, a model and actress, filed for divorce the following year and obtained a restraining order against Depp on the grounds of domestic abuse. The divorce was finalized in 2017.Depp said one of the triggers for the couple's separation came when a cleaner found feces in a bed at their Los Angeles penthouse the morning after Heard's 30th birthday party in April 2016. Heard claims the couple fought after the party and Depp threw a magnum wine bottle at her. He denies it.Heard blamed one of the couple's Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, for the defecation incident, but Depp was convinced a person had done it.“It was not left by a three- or four-pound dog. I was convinced that it was either Ms Heard herself or one of her cohorts involved in leaving human feces on the bed,” he said.He said he initially laughed at the “absurd” incident, with one text message referring to “Amber Turd.”But soon after, he said, he realized that the marriage couldn't be saved.“I wanted nothing to do with her,” Depp said.The court was read a text message Depp sent Heard after their separation in which he sent “all my love and regrets ... I wish you nothing but good.”“That is what I felt,” he said. “I didn’t think there needed to be any poison at that time, because the bad part was over, which was the relationship, and now we just had to finish it.”By June 2016, however, Depp said he had become “quite bitter” because he felt he was being publicly depicted as “a wife beater.”Heard obtained a restraining order against Depp in May 2016, claiming he'd hit her and thrown a cellphone at her during an argument, bruising her cheek. Depp denies the allegation.“I went, if you’ll forgive the analogy, from Cinderella to Quasimodo in 0.6 seconds and I was without a voice,” he said.That August, Depp wrote in a text to an associate that Heard was “begging for total global humiliation ... She's gonna get it.”The Sun’s defence relies on a total of 14 allegations by Heard of Depp’s violence between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia and a private jet. He strongly denies all of them.Under cross-examination by The Sun’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, Depp depicted a tumultuous relationship with Heard during a period when he was trying to kick drugs and alcohol, and sometimes lapsing.He recalled telling Heard several times: “Listen, we are a crime scene waiting to happen.” But he denied being violent.The Sun's lawyer alleged that during a fight at the LA penthouse in December 2015, Depp, in “an uncontrollable rage,” trashed Heard’s wardrobe, threw a decanter at her, slapped her, pulled her by the hair and headbutted her, causing two black eyes.Depp claimed Heard was the aggressor, and he had only tried to restrain her “to stop her flailing and punching me.” He conceded he might have headbutted her, but only by accident, and denied causing her injuries.Depp also rejected Heard’s claim that he subjected her to a “three-day ordeal of assaults” in March 2015 in Australia, where Depp was appearing as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.He agreed that the couple had an altercation, which ended up with their house being trashed and Depp’s fingertip being severed to the bone.Depp accuses Heard of cutting off his fingertip by throwing a vodka bottle at him. She denies being in the room when the digit was severed.A short section of Friday’s hearing, which related to allegations of sexual violence, was heard in private after the judge agreed to a request by The Sun’s lawyers.Near the end of his testimony, Depp was asked by his lawyer, David Sherborne, about medical notes from August 2014 that referred to Heard's “history of substance abuse,” including an addiction to cocaine. The notes said Heard experienced anxiety, insecurity and jealousy and had “severe outbursts of anger and rage.”The lawyer asked Depp whether the description tallied with his experience of Heard.“Yes,” Depp said.Heard is attending the three-week trial and is scheduled to testify next week.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

  • Botswana gets first test results on elephant deaths
    News
    Reuters

    Botswana gets first test results on elephant deaths

    Botswana said on Friday it had received test results from samples sent to Zimbabwe to determine the cause of death of hundreds of elephants but is waiting for more results from South Africa next week before sharing findings with the public. Wildlife officials are trying to determine what is killing the elephants about two months after the first bodies were discovered. Officials told reporters near the Okavango Delta on Thursday that they had now verified 281 elephant carcasses and that the deaths were concentrated in an area of 8,000 square km that is home to about 18,000 elephants.

  • Scuba diver casually swims along within inches of two gigantic barracuda
    News
    Rumble

    Scuba diver casually swims along within inches of two gigantic barracuda

    Scuba diving opens a door to an incredible world, full of beauty, wonder, and danger. The animals in this underwater domain are both fascinating and frightening at the same time. They have adapted to life in a hostile world where predators can become prey and the balance can shift in an instant. Barracuda are a good example of the creatures that can be frightening for some. These Great Barracuda are almost six feet long and they have powerful jaws full of formidable looking teeth. As large as those of a giant breed dog, but much sharper, and more numerous, the mouth of a Great Barracuda could easily sever a human's hand if it felt threatened. But barracuda attacks are extremely rare, and almost always the result of confusion rather than aggression. In most cases, human error is the cause. In the ocean, improper behaviour can have immediate and severe consequences. This scuba diver was exploring the reef in the the Cayman Islands when he noticed that two large barracuda were circling him and his wife curiously. With no sign of aggression, the two large fish swam around the divers and passed within inches, several times. At one point, the diver was unable to resist the temptation to touch one of the large fish. Surprisingly, this contact did not seem to disturb the barracuda at all. With a GoPro on a short pole, this diver casually swam beside and behind the barracuda for more than ten minutes. Capable of extremely quick bursts of speed, these fish could easily have left the area in a flash if the close encounter was not to their liking. Such a close encounter with two of the ocean's apex predators provides a scuba diver with an unforgettable experience.

  • What Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan could look like
    Health
    CBC

    What Stage 3 of Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan could look like

    With new coronavirus cases on a steady downward trend since early June, much of Ontario is poised to move to Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan soon, officials suggested this week.But it's not yet clear which emergency restrictions will actually be lifted or relaxed when that happens. Until now, the provincial government has described Stage 3 only in general terms: "Opening all workplaces responsibly" and "further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings."Premier Doug Ford declined Thursday to offer anything more specific."It's going to come very shortly, hopefully sooner than later," he told a news conference. This leaves plenty of open questions about precisely what Ontario's Stage 3 will look like. How large will public gatherings be? What restrictions will remain in place for bars and restaurants? Will cinemas or theatres be allowed to open? What about gyms and other fitness facilities? The only near-certainties about Stage 3 are: it will not bring the return of indoor events with the biggest crowds — such as concerts and spectator sports — and physical distancing guidelines will remain. Beyond those, Stage 3 restrictions could fall anywhere in a wide range.Restaurants In Ontario's Stage 2, restaurants are restricted to outdoor seating and take-out meals. Most provinces that have allowed restaurants to reopen fully have put limits in place, such as operating at lower-than-full capacity or minimum space between tables. Other measures could include Plexiglas between tables and having the restaurant keep a record of diners to aid public health tracing if any confirmed cases emerge among customers or staff.    "There's only so much you can do [to prevent transmission] because of the nature of eating together," said Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont."There's going to be an inherent risk. But it's a risk that I would say is less than, say, an indoor nightclub."  Bars and clubsQuebec on Thursday announced new restrictions on bars in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases on Montreal's South Shore. Bars are now limited to 50 per cent of their normal legal capacity, people must be in their seats to drink, dancing is banned, alcohol sales end at midnight and customers must be out the door by 1 a.m. ET.If Ontario allows bars to have customers indoors in Stage 3, they can almost certainly expect similar restrictions, according to public health experts. "Bars are a tough one because people go there to interact," said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa."Restaurants are a bit easier in some ways because you don't go there to meet other people. You go there to eat with the people you came with."Cinemas, theatres, performance venuesThe pandemic has meant lights out for cinemas and performing arts across Ontario. The move to Stage 2 allowed the opening of drive-in cinemas, as well as performance venues where the audience stays in their cars. Sitting in seats could soon return to Ontario; cinema screenings resumed in British Columbia on July 3, with restrictions. "The main way that this virus is spread is when you have close contact for a prolonged period of time in an enclosed space," said Chakrabarti in an interview with CBC News."A movie theatre could open, but I guarantee you they're not going to be able to have full capacity. People will be spread out." Gyms, other indoor fitness facilitiesThe closure of gyms during the pandemic has been frustrating for those who see their workout as a key way to stay healthy. They will likely be opened in Ontario's Stage 3 but with "profound changes" to how they operate, said Deonandan."The services they offer will be minimal, and the number of people in any given portion of the gym will be restricted."While Deonandan believes pools pose little risk and weight machines can be made safe to use, spaces in which people are gathered close together and breathing heavily, such as aerobics or spin classes, could be too risky.Other Stage 3 considerations  The maximum size of a social gathering in Ontario right now is 10. That will almost certainly be raised in Stage 3 but how high remains to be seen. Outdoor playgrounds will likely open after being closed for nearly four months. The province will also need to decide about the ongoing closure of other spaces that can attract crowds, such as casinos, amusement parks and convention centres. "Anything involving mass gatherings, particularly mass indoor gatherings, should remain off the table. Everything else is probably fair game," said Deonandan."We can make most businesses safe."Physical distancing should be the guiding principle for Stage 3, said Chakrabarti, with mask-wearing indoors when that two metres of space can't be maintained. At the same time, he said the public health goals on the novel coronavirus need to be realistic. "We are not looking for zero infections," he said."We're not going to eliminate COVID-19. We're just trying to keep things controlled."

  • Health
    CBC

    B.C. officials warn of possible COVID-19 exposure at events in Kelowna

    B.C. health officials issued a sweeping warning on Friday about possible exposure to COVID-19 in Kelowna, covering anyone who attended public and private gatherings in the downtown and waterfront areas over 12 days this summer.Interior Health says eight people who have tested positive for the coronavirus attended private gatherings in the area and visited local bars and restaurants between June 25 and July 6.Events that took place on Canada Day and over the holiday weekend are of particular concern, according to a news release."We believe that these individuals acquired the disease elsewhere," Interior Health's Dr. Silvina Mema told CBC News.Six of the people who tested positive live outside of the region — mainly in B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Alberta, according to Mema."These are individuals who came here to spend time with friends, so there are a number of different restaurants and pubs, the waterfront area that they have been at," she said.Contact tracing is underway, and anyone who may have been exposed will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.Anyone else who participated in events in the downtown area during the dates in question should monitor themselves for symptoms. Testing is available to anyone who has symptoms of the disease, but it is not recommended for anyone who doesn't have symptoms because of a risk of false negatives.Mema said this large-scale potential exposure should serve as a reminder that everyone still needs to be very careful about preventing transmission, even though B.C. is in its third phase of reopening."I think it's fair to assume that there could be a positive case anywhere, and the message that I would like to convey … is that we don't have to let our guard down. The virus is everywhere," she said."We have to assume that everybody who isn't in our bubble could have COVID-19 or could be incubating COVID-19."

  • PHOTOS: How Walt Disney World will change for the COVID-19 pandemic
    Lifestyle
    Yahoo News Canada

    PHOTOS: How Walt Disney World will change for the COVID-19 pandemic

    After being closed for almost four month due to COVID-19, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will be welcoming guests again on Jul 11, beginning with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.“Our deliberate and phased approach at Walt Disney World Resort emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement. “We’re taking a multi-pronged approach to our reopening, after considering the guidance of various governmental authorities and health agencies, and recommendations from our team of health and safety experts.”Although the resort may be open, the experience for guests will look quite different to what a Walt Disney World trip was in the past. Some of the new rules that will be in place include:Limits on capacity in theme parks each dayTemperature screenings before entering a theme parkGround markings and physical barriers to promote physical distancingLimited capacity on transportation servicesAll guests, and cast members, over the age of two must wear a face covering at all times (excepting when eating and drinking)Cashless payment options are encouraged, including mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app for diningWhile children, and adults, may love taking a photo with their favourite Disney character, traditional greeting and parades are still on hiatus. These beloved characters will still be around to wave at guests throughout the day, but they’ll be saying hello from a safe physical distance.EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow with reopening on Jul. 15. The Disney Skyliner also resume operation on that date, with one party per gondola.

  • Canada asks British military for help flying troops to and from Latvia
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Canada asks British military for help flying troops to and from Latvia

    OTTAWA — Canadian troops have been forced to hitch a ride with the British military to get to and from Latvia due to a shortage of working planes.Canada has 540 troops in Latvia, where they form the core of a 1,500-strong multinational battlegroup established by NATO three years ago. Similar battlegroups led by Britain, Germany and the U.S. have been established in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, respectively.The current Canadian contingent arrived in January and is to be replaced this month. That planned rotation was to include having one of the military's three CC-150 Polaris planes fly to Latvia Wednesday with around 120 soldiers before returning with a similar number later in the week.But that was before a problem was found with the Polaris's landing gear, according to Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande. And while the other two would normally have filled the gap, Lamirande said they were unavailable, which is why the British were called in to help.One Polaris is currently ferrying troops to and from the Middle East, where Canadian troops remain engaged in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.The third Polaris — which normally serves as the prime minister's plane — is out of commission until at least January after a hangar accident last October. Officials have estimated the cost of repairs at around $11 million."The members originally set to depart from (Canadian Forces Base) Trenton for Latvia on 8 July departed instead on 9 July with the support of the British Royal Air Force, who had an A330 Voyager aircraft available to support the departure from Canada," Lamirande said in an email."This aircraft will also bring the approximately 120 returning members home."The mechanical breakdown is only the latest problem to plague not only the Polaris fleet but also plans to rotate the current contingent of Canadian troops in Latvia.A Polaris carrying about 70 Canadian soldiers to Latvia was forced to turn around last week because of concerns those on board might have been exposed to COVID-19.All military personnel deploying on overseas missions are required to undergo strict quarantine measures to ensure troops do not carry COVID-19 to another country or spread the respiratory illness among their unit.Despite those precautions, the plane was forced to turn around in midair after the military received word that a civilian contractor at CFB Trenton who may have come in contact with the plane and passengers had tested positive for the illness.Those who were on board are now in the middle of a second 14-day isolation period.The NATO battlegroup in Latvia includes troops from eight other countries. It and similar battlegroups in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland were created after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and began to support separatist forces in Ukraine’s eastern regions.The battlegroups are designed to defend against a Russian invasion, but their small size means they would almost certainly be overwhelmed in a real war. Instead, their main utility is to deter Russian aggression, with the idea that an attack on one would draw in all of NATO.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

  • Trump commutes longtime friend Roger Stone's prison sentence
    Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Trump commutes longtime friend Roger Stone's prison sentence

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone, intervening in extraordinary fashion in a criminal case that was central to the Russia investigation and that concerned the president's own conduct.The move came just days before Stone was to begin serving a 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.The action, which Trump had foreshadowed in recent days, underscores the president’s lingering rage over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and is part of a continuing effort by the president and his administration to rewrite the narrative of a probe that has shadowed the White House from the outset. Democrats, already alarmed by the Justice Department's earlier dismissal of the case against Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, denounced the president as further undermining the rule of law.Stone, 67, had been set to report to prison on Tuesday after a federal appeals court rejected his bid to postpone his surrender date. But he told The Associated Press that Trump called him Friday evening to tell him he was off the hook.“The president told me that he had decided, in an act of clemency, to issue a full commutation of my sentence, and he urged me to vigorously pursue my appeal and my vindication,” Stone said by phone from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was celebrating with friends. He said he had to change rooms because there were “too many people opening bottles of Champagne here.”Although a commutation does not nullify Stone’s felony convictions, it protects him from serving prison time as a result.The move marks another extraordinary intervention by Trump in the nation's justice system and underscores anew his willingness to flout the norms and standards that have governed presidential conduct for decades. As Trump stares down a coronavirus pandemic that has worsened his chances for reelection, he has been more willing than ever to test the limits of his power.Democrats denounced Trump's action. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff called it “offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez asked, “Is there any power Trump won’t abuse?”White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a statement, called Stone a “victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media," and declared, “Roger Stone is now a free man!"Stone had been open about his desire for a pardon or commutation, appealing for the president’s help with a monthslong television and social media campaign and seeking to postpone his surrender date by months after getting a brief extension from the judge, in part by citing the coronavirus.Trump, who had made clear in recent days that he was inching closer to acting, had repeatedly publicly inserted himself into Stone’s case, including just before Stone’s sentencing.That earned a public rebuke from his own attorney general, William Barr, who said the president’s comments were “making it impossible” for him to do his job. Barr was so incensed that he told people he was considering resigning over the matter.“With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else,” Schiff said. “Donald Trump, Bill Barr, and all those who enable them pose the gravest of threats to the rule of law.”Stone, a larger-than-life political character who embraced his reputation as a dirty trickster, was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to have been convicted of charges brought during Mueller’s investigation.A longtime Trump friend and informal adviser, Stone boasted during the campaign that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release more than 19,000 emails hacked from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.But Stone denied any wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. He did not take the stand during his trial, did not speak at his sentencing. His lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defence.Prosecutors had originally recommended Stone serve seven to nine years in prison. But in a highly unusual move, Barr reversed that decision after a Trump tweet and recommended a more lenient punishment, prompting a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department, with the entire prosecution team resigning from the case.Department officials have vehemently denied Barr was responding to Trump’s criticism and have insisted there was no contact with the White House over the decision. Barr has also pointed out that the judge, in imposing a 40-month sentence, had agreed with him that the original sentencing recommendation was excessive.Barr has said the prosecution was justified, and the Justice Department did not support Stone’s more recent effort to put off his surrender date. Though the Justice Department raised concerns about the handling of Flynn’s case, including what it said were irregularities about his FBI interview, prosecutors did not point to any similar issues or problems with the Stone prosecution.Even so, the commutation will almost certainly contribute to a portrait of a president determined to erase the impact of the Russia investigation and to intervene on behalf of allies.The commutation was the latest example of Trump using his unlimited clemency power to pardon powerful men he believes have been mistreated by the justice system.Trump went on a clemency spree in February, commuting the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and pardoning former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, financier Michael Milken and several others.Trump has also offered clemency to other political allies, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing at the time, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who had been convicted on campaign finance violations, and Conrad Black, a newspaper publisher convicted of fraud who had written a flattering book about the president.Trump, however, has spent much more time trumpeting his decision to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offences and who came to Trump’s attention after reality star Kim Kardashian West took up her cause. Her story was featured in a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad.Stone told the AP he expressed his gratitude to Trump in the phone call.“You know, he has a great sense of fairness,” Stone said. “We’ve been friends for many, many years, and he understands that I was targeted strictly for political reasons.”Jill Colvin And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press

  • Hide your last name, keep quiet in class: UWindsor panel talks anti-Black racism on campuses
    News
    CBC

    Hide your last name, keep quiet in class: UWindsor panel talks anti-Black racism on campuses

    When University of Windsor law student Chris Osei-Kusi goes to submit an assignment, he thinks twice about putting his full name on the paper. His last name is "pretty ethnic" and he doesn't want it to keep him from getting an A. "There's so many different ways that you have to act, that you wouldn't have to worry about if you weren't a Black student," said Osei-Kusi, who is also the national director of advocacy for the Black Law Students' Association of Canada. He was one of five UWindsor students who joined journalist Eternity Martis for a live-streamed panel discussion Thursday about anti-Black racism. The talk, which included Martis as a guest speaker, was held by UWindsor's Office of Student Experience and focused on the experiences Black students have had on post-secondary campuses across North America. Martis also talked about her best-selling book They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life and Growing Up — a memoir that looks at her own experiences as a Black student on a mostly-white campus and links it to the systemic issues affecting students today.  Throughout her academic career, Martis said she's encountered many upsetting experiences, ranging from people saying "Your English is great, where are you from? You're probably not from around here" to being at a party where students in blackface confronted her, "smiling and leering and [threatening] violence and being told to go back to my country." She said friends of hers have had similar experiences and have even had the N-word spray-painted on the doors of their dorm rooms.UWindsor criminology and psychology student Samrah Yohannes, who organized the city's Black Lives Matter rally, said as a Black woman, she doesn't even like speaking up in class, conscious that other students will think she "has an attitude" or "Of course she has something to say.""When we as Black people are voicing our opinions, it's just looked down at and attached to a stereotype," Yohannes said. "You sometimes feel as a Black student you're not as valued as the other students or you have to find everything yourself or go within your community to find everything and your journey is made harder." More support for Black students, faculty, staffThe students also addressed avenues of care or support they'd like to see on post-secondary campuses. "It's about making Black students, Black faculty and staff feel safe,"  said Jeremiah Bowers, an international relations and development major, who also chairs the National Black Students' Caucus. "So creating spaces for Black students and faculty and staff to have open conversations and to have space for community healing and to support each other. It's not about the institution holding our hand or saying 'I think this is what you want.'"

  • Jasper the dog gets his Hollywood ending after crossing B.C.'s Columbia River 3 times
    News
    CBC

    Jasper the dog gets his Hollywood ending after crossing B.C.'s Columbia River 3 times

    Jasper, a 63 kilogram Great Pyrenees, was on the lam for three days last weekend after he escaped his backyard in Castlegar, in B.C.'s West Kootenays, making an exhausting journey back and forth across the Columbia River.His owner, Mary Hummel, said he disappeared on the night of July 2. "I don't exactly know what happened but there was a lot of fireworks going on in this neighborhood," she told Daybreak South host Chris Walker. "He had actually never disappeared before so I have no idea exactly how he disappeared."She and her husband went searching through the neighbourhood, looking for their big, white, hard-to-miss dog, but to no avail. Hummel posted about Jasper on social media, hoping someone nearby would spot him. Someone sent her a message saying they saw him in the nearby community of Genelle, about 14 kilometres away. The thing was, he was on the other side of the fast-moving Columbia River. "We saw him," Hummel said.But then he disappeared again. The next morning, another sighting had been reported, back on the original side of the river.The person who saw him tried to coax him over to her, but he ended up swimming toward a sand bar. Search and rescue was called in to try to locate Jasper, and members of a nearby trailer park did what they could to try to help. "Nobody was able to secure him at all," Hummel said.Later than day they got another message saying Jasper was back on the far side of the river. On Sunday, three days since Jasper escaped, someone offered to look for Jasper using their drone, so Hummel took them up on it."I remember looking at this river and just crying my eyes out because it's like there's no way this dog can swim this river again because it's just so awful," Hummel said."My husband [and I], we both thought that he had probably died and both of us were just praying and crying."They pair were driving down a road with the drone operator as they prepared to continue the search, when something unexpected happened."My husband just said, 'You know what, this isn't Hollywood, it's not like this dog's going to just walk in the middle of the road and run towards us.' And 60 seconds later, right there on the road, there was Jasper," Hummel said. He ran toward his owners, slowly because his toes were chafed from his adventures. It took a few days for him to heal, and for him to return to regular eating habits. Either way, Hummel is happy to have her canine pal back, and she's grateful to those who helped her look for him. "It was a miracle," she said.

  • Ontario sees 116 new COVID-19 cases as downward trend continues
    News
    CBC

    Ontario sees 116 new COVID-19 cases as downward trend continues

    Premier Doug Ford said he's in no rush to move into Stage 3 of reopening, as Ontario reported 116 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with just four public health units reporting five or more newly confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus."We're going to be very cautious about opening up but eventually we'll get there," Ford said during the province's daily COVID-19 update. His comments come as the province remains poised to move to Stage 3 soon, with officials suggesting next week, and one day after Ontario extended its emergency orders for the COVID-19 pandemic to July 22.When asked Friday if bars and the indoor dining areas of restaurants would be included in the third phase, Ford said that has yet to be determined. He added that Ontarians are in "such a better position than our friends south of the border," and that he does not want to reopen the border with U.S. anytime soon. "Our American friends, I love you, but stay home," Ford said. New cases concentrated in Toronto, Peel, York, WindsorMeanwhile, after a one-day surge yesterday attributed to the targeted testing of temporary farm labourers in Windsor- Essex, today's figure continues a five-week-long downward trend in new daily case numbers.The new cases are concentrated in Toronto and the Peel, York and Windsor-Essex regions, with 23, 35, 14 and 10, respectively. Seventeen public health units reported no new cases at all. Ontario has now seen a total of 36,464 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, 88.2 per cent are considered resolved by the Ministry of Health. Another 178 infections were marked resolved in today's update.The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus also continued a downward trend, with 117 — fewer than a fifth of the total at the beginning of June. Thirty-four are being treated in intensive care units, while 24 of those are on ventilators.Ontario's network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed 27, 484 test samples for the novel coronavirus yesterday. Positivity rates are at "all-time lows" in the province, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said today.The province reported another seven deaths on Friday, bringing its official death toll to 2,710. But a CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units puts the actual toll at 2,752 — an increase of 10 since Thursday evening. 378,000 jobs added in Ontario added last month Ford made multiple public appearances at businesses today to thank Ontario workers for their service during the pandemic.Ford's day started at a skylight manufacturing company in Woodbridge, where the premier made an announcement alongside Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development.The premier touted the near 378,000 jobs added in Ontario last month — a bounce-back largely attributed to the province reopening at the beginning of June, unlike most of the rest of the country, which began to cautiously reopen in May."We got through to the worst of this pandemic," Ford said Friday. "As we recover from the worst economic downturn of our lifetime … as we brace for what the future might hold, now more than ever we need to support our own." Ford said that's the reason for the province supporting a new program called Ontario Made, launched by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), which allows consumers to identify, access and purchase local products through a website."Over the past few months, plants and factories across the province retooled their operations to provide the front lines with the essential equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19, including PPE," Fedeli said in a release issued Friday. "[It] is now more important than ever to support and promote Ontario's world-class manufacturing sector and get people back to work." Ford later toured a Toronto-based textile company that retooled its facility to start producing face masks.The premier then visited a bakery in Toronto's west end to serve customers through a take out window built by the shop.Unions consider political action over emergency actMeanwhile, unions representing Ontario's health-care workers are consulting with their memberships about taking political action in response to the province potentially extending its emergency act.The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and Canadian Union of Public Employees say that under the emergency orders, their collective bargaining agreement with the province is suspended.Michael Hurley, president of the unions, says that while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's now a detriment to health-care workers.He says that nurses and other care workers can have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied under the act.The union also says the province announced its plans to extend the act without consulting them.The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill earlier this week that would allow the province to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

  • Police: Pop Smoke's social media led killers to LA home
    Celebrity
    The Canadian Press

    Police: Pop Smoke's social media led killers to LA home

    LOS ANGELES — Authorities believe rising rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed during a Los Angeles home-invasion robbery in February after his social media posts led five suspects to the house he was renting, police said after detectives arrested the group Thursday morning.Los Angeles police had initially discounted a robbery theory in the days after the 20-year-old rapper's death Feb. 19 at a home in the Hollywood Hills. Pop Smoke's legal name is Bashar Barakah Jackson.Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department's elite Robbery-Homicide Division, said three men and two teenage boys likely went to the home because they knew Pop Smoke was there from social media posts. They stole items from the home, though Tippet said he could not divulge what was taken. The teens were 15 and 17 years old.“We believe that it was a robbery. Initially we didn’t really have the evidence but then we discovered some other evidence that showed this was likely a home invasion gone bad,” Tippet told The Associated Press on Thursday.The five suspects were arrested Thursday morning as detectives served several search warrants in Los Angeles. All are believed to be members of a South Los Angeles gang, which Tippet would not name, and at least some of them are believed to be linked to the 2019 homicide of an 18-year-old man when a fight escalated into a shooting outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.The three men were identified as Jaquan Murphy, 21, Corey Walker, 19, and Keandre D. Rodgers, 18, all of Los Angeles.Walker and Rodgers were arrested on suspicion of murder and Murphy was held on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.The men were being held in lieu of $1 million bail apiece.The 15-year-old and the 17-year-old also were booked on suspicion of murder.It wasn't immediately known whether any of those arrested had attorneys.Pop Smoke and his entourage staying at the home are not believed to be associated with the gang, Tippet said. No one else was shot during the incident.The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the rapper had posted pictures of him posing by an infinity pool in the home's backyard, as well as a picture of the Los Angeles skyline from what was likely the house's backyard. In another post, Pop Smoke or a member of his entourage put a picture of a gift bag tagged with the Hollywood Hills address and a different photo showed him posing by a Ranger Rover in a spot where the home's address was partly visible in the background.“It’s our belief that (the home-invasion robbery) was based on some of the social media" posts, Tippet said. “It’s based on the fact that he was posting his information may have contributed to him knowing where to find him.”The home where the shooting occurred is owned by Edwin Arroyave and his wife Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer John Mellencamp and a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”Teddi Mellencamp previously said on Instagram that the couple had been notified of the shooting at their rental property but knew no more than what they had seen in media reports.Pop Smoke arrived on the rap scene in 2018 and broke out with “Welcome to the Party” a gangsta anthem with boasts about shootings, killings and drugs that became a huge sensation, and prompted Nicki Minaj to drop a verse on a remix.Earlier this year, Pop Smoke released the mixtape “Meet the Woo 2,” which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It was the follow up to his first official release, “Meet the Woo.” The rapper also had the popular hit “Gatti” with Travis Scott and Jackboys and “Dior.”His major label debut album, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” was executive produced by 50 Cent. It was released posthumously last Friday to mostly positive reviews and features appearances from popular artists including Future, DaBaby and Quavo.___Associated Press Writer Jonathan Landrum contributed.Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press

  • Special Report: How the Trump administration secured a secret supply of execution drugs
    News
    Reuters

    Special Report: How the Trump administration secured a secret supply of execution drugs

    Intent on enforcing the death penalty, President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice had started building the network of contractors it would need by May 2017, federal procurement records show. Without the secrecy, the government has argued in court filings, its ability to procure the drugs would be “severely impaired” because the companies are not willing to supply or test execution drugs if they are publicly identified. In some cases, even the companies involved in testing the deadly pentobarbital said they didn’t know its intended purpose.

  • Civil servants to get up to $2,500 each for Phoenix 'pain and suffering'
    Business
    The Canadian Press

    Civil servants to get up to $2,500 each for Phoenix 'pain and suffering'

    OTTAWA — Federal employees stand to collect up to $2,500 each in cash payments for "pain and suffering" resulting from the government's failed Phoenix pay system under an agreement reached with the country's biggest civil-service union.The settlement comes as government workers scramble to get emergency benefits out to individual Canadians and businesses affected by the economic crisis that has flowed from the COVID-19 pandemic.The lump-sum payments are contained in a side deal reached late Thursday alongside a tentative contract settlement for about 70,000 civil servants that includes average annual wage increases of 2.11 per cent over a three-year term.The Public Service Alliance of Canada said the payments are compensation for the problems caused to federal workers by the broken Phoenix pay system, which created underpayments, overpayments or in some cases no pay cheques for tens of thousands of government employees."After four years of stress, uncertainty, and financial hardships because their employer couldn't pay them correctly or on time, our members will finally be compensated for the Phoenix pay disaster," PSAC national president Chris Aylward said in a statement.The compensation agreement affects about 140,000 PSAC members but could also affect members of other unions that last year agreed to compensation of five days of cashable leave.PSAC, Canada's biggest civil service union, had rejected that settlement, calling the five extra vacation days "meagre."The other unions may benefit from the PSAC deal, however, because their agreements included clauses that would provide their members with compensation equal to whatever PSAC was able to negotiate.The PSAC agreement, which does not require ratification by its members, would see general damages paid to federal public service employees working for a range of government departments between 2016 and 2020.It also includes compensation for the late implementation of collective agreements during those years caused by the Phoenix pay system.Compensation totals $1,000 for employees working in the fiscal year 2016-17 and $500 in each of the following three years.Beyond the lump sum, government employees who suffered severe losses due to the Phoenix pay system, such as losing their homes, cars or investments, or who had their credit ratings harmed, can claim damages.When conceived in 2009, the Phoenix system was supposed to streamline the public service payroll and save taxpayers more than $70 million annually.But after its launch in 2016, more than half of civil servants experienced pay problems, forcing the government to hire extra staff and set up satellite pay centres across the country in an effort to chip away at problem cases.As of June 24, the backlog of problem files had been reduced to 125,000 financial transactions beyond normal workload, according to the public service pay centre dashboard, which tracks pay issues.The most recent estimated cost of stabilizing Phoenix was pegged at more than $1 billion, not including the amount it will take to create, test and launch a new pay system that works.Separately, PSAC and the Treasury Board Secretariat, which is responsible for negotiating contracts with federal employees, said they had reached a tentative settlement late Thursday for about half of PSAC's members.The three-year deal for program and administrative services group employees includes wage increases of 2.8 per cent in the first year, followed by 2.2 per cent in the second and 1.35 per cent in the final year.The tentative agreement applies to close to 84,000 federal employees, including non-unionized workers, according to Treasury Board.It also contains new provisions for caregiver leave, extended parental leave, and up to 10 days of domestic violence leave.Details on when a ratification vote will be held are expected next week.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

  • Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show
    Science
    The Canadian Press

    Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.Comet Neowise — the brightest comet visible from the Northern Hemisphere in a quarter-century — swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. Now the comet is headed our way, with closest approach in two weeks.NASA's Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.Scientists involved in the mission said the comet is about 3 miles (5 kilometres) across. Its nucleus is covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.The comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system. While it's visible with the naked eye in dark skies with little or no light pollution, binoculars are needed to see the long tail, according to NASA.It will be about 7,000 years before the comet returns, “so I wouldn't suggest waiting for the next pass,” said the telescope's deputy principal investigator Joe Masiero of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.He said it is the brightest comet since the mid-1990s for stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere.Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already caught a glimpse.NASA's Bob Behnken shared a spectacular photo of the comet on social media late Thursday, showing central Asia in the background and the space station in the foreground."Stars, cities, spaceships, and a comet!" he tweeted from orbit.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario Premier Doug Ford has clear message for visiting Americans: 'Not right now'
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario Premier Doug Ford has clear message for visiting Americans: 'Not right now'

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • News
    CBC

    Drowning in B.C. lake investigated by RCMP, coroner

    RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning death of a man in West Kelowna on Thursday. Police say first responders rushed to the 2000 block of Boucherie Road near Okanagan Lake just before 1:45 p.m. for a report of a drowning. They learned that a 65-year-old man had been swimming in the lake, but failed to re-surface. Nearby witnesses found the man and pulled him from the water, and immediately began performing CPR.Emergency services arrived and continued the life-saving efforts, but the man could not be resuscitated. "Despite the best efforts of everyone involved and the heroic efforts of witnesses, the man passed away," said Kelowna RCMP Const. Solana Paré. "RCMP victim services are providing support to the witnesses, friends and family of the victim. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the victim during this difficult time."Both the RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are not releasing or confirming the identity of the man at this time due to privacy concerns.

  • News
    CBC

    OPINION | Kenney not slowing whirlwind pace of major legislative changes

    This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.Since being elected last year, the government of Premier Jason Kenney has introduced legislation to undermine the power of labour unions, remove environmental protection on sand-extraction pits, and set up a Crown corporation to attract investment to Alberta.Come to think of it, that was just Tuesday this week.The government has also introduced legislation to permit more private delivery of health care, change how doctors can be paid, and arguably allow Kenney to appoint his friends and supporters to health oversight committees.Oh, that was just Monday this week.Alberta's United Conservative government has been busy the first half of 2020.While you were busy worrying about your job and wiping the groceries clean of COVID-19, the government introduced 33 bills that will, among other things, crack down on anti-oil protests, remove political approval of oilsands schemes, and open the door to regular referendums on any issue Kenney deems suitable.Last year was almost as busy. The government brought in 29 pieces of legislation that, among other things, scrapped the provincial carbon tax, lowered corporate taxes, overturned the NDP's farm safety law and allowed the government to hire replacement workers in the event of a public-sector strike.Kenney's government is nothing if not determined. And Kenney seems determined to reshape Alberta through legislation.Kenney promised he would move quicklyNot that this should come as a surprise. Many of the changes were contained in Kenney's election platform. The speed of change shouldn't be a shock, either.In October 2018, Kenney telegraphed his intentions during an appearance before a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon."We think it will be important to hit the ground running should Albertans give us a mandate," said Kenney, paraphrasing former New Zealand finance minister, Roger Douglas, who controversially overhauled his country's public sector via job cuts in the 1980s. "You move quickly. You move with speed because speed creates its own momentum. It also makes it harder for the opponents of reform to obstruct it."It also makes it harder for the public to understand what's going on.The Kenney government is moving with the speed and target-fixation of a cruise missile. The outnumbered NDP opposition is, politically speaking, armed with slingshots. The ever-shrinking news media is scrambling to keep up.Adding more confusion to the chaos is COVID-19.Albertans are understandably more concerned about their jobs in a pandemic-ravaged economy than they are about the implication of Bill 22: the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act.Long-term implications not clearBill 22, mind you, is huge. More than 170 pages long, it changes 14 pieces of legislation in six different ministries. It will, among other things, allow oilsands projects to go ahead without cabinet approval, scrap Energy Efficiency Alberta, and allow all Canadians — not just Albertans — to purchase public land.We don't know the long-term implications of Bill 22, just as we don't know the long-term implications of other "omnibus" bills including this week's Health Statutes Amendment Act.It opens the way to more private delivery of publicly funded health care. The government says this will free up space in hospitals and shorten waiting lists. Critics, including more than a few physicians, warn this will take resources out of the public system and perversely lengthen wait times.The Alberta Medical Association likes one aspect of the bill: doctors being able to enter into a contract with the government to take a salary rather than continue with fee-for-service billing. However, because the Kenney government unilaterally tore up its master agreement with the AMA early this year, the medical association says it doesn't trust the government to honour any contracts it signs with individual doctors.Critics of the government are outraged at the speed and size of Kenney's changes. But some of it is in the eye of the beholder.Conservatives were just as angry when Rachel Notley became Alberta's first NDP government and promptly began governing like, well, an NDP premier. In 2016, she introduced 37 pieces of legislation including bills to diversify the economy, limit oilsands emissions, and stop predatory lending. Critics accused her of fast-tracking pro-union, pro-environmental changes because she realized she'd lose the 2019 election.Notley saw herself as a reform-minded premier.So does Kenney.But there is a difference. There is an element of retribution, even revenge, to Kenney's reforms.He has taken great pains to overturn or negate NDP legislation. He scrapped Alberta's carbon tax on consumers, weakened environmental oversight, picked a fight with doctors, brought "balance" to the workplace by undermining unions, and is pushing an agenda that includes more private health care.NDP outraged by changesThe list of changes invoked by Kenney outrages the NDP. But it's a list that no doubt warms the hearts of UCP supporters.The list, though, doesn't always tell the whole story. You sometimes have to connect the dots on different pieces of legislation to get a clearer picture of what's going on. Kenney's Bill 1 cracks down on protests that block roads, pipelines or rail lines. Bill 32 cracks down on where unions can picket during strikes of lockouts. Combining the two could theoretically see some union pickets facing massive fines.Bill 1 is already being challenged in the courts by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.The AMA is suing the government over its torn-up master agreement.Kenney, though, doesn't seem to mind. He is determined to push ahead with an agenda that is pro-business, anti-union, pro-development, anti-environment, and overtly partisan.Kenney hit the ground running a year ago, and although the pandemic knocked him off stride, he hasn't slowed down. Most politicians treat a four-year mandate as a marathon. For Kenney, it continues to be a sprint.

  • Alberta carbon capture project hits another milestone ahead of schedule and below cost
    Business
    CBC

    Alberta carbon capture project hits another milestone ahead of schedule and below cost

    The Quest carbon capture and storage project in central Alberta has surpassed the milestone of sequestering five million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from oilsands operations.The achievement was also ahead of schedule and below forecasted costs.Shell Canada developed the project, which became operational in November 2015. The facility was expected to sequester about one million tonnes of emissions annually.The project is located at the Scotford complex, northeast of Edmonton, which also includes a refinery and petrochemical facility."Quest CCS is allowing us to produce lower carbon intensive products at our Scotford upgrader, and we really see that as a pathway to decarbonizing our industry and in support of the energy transition going forward," said Sarah Kassam, a development and opportunity planner for the Quest project, in an interview. "We've seen a lot of successes with Quest. We're excited to see where it goes," she said.The facility takes emissions from a nearby bitumen upgrader and stores them two kilometres underground. The reservoir far below the surface is "taking the CO2 a lot easier and better than we had initially forecast it would," said Kassam.The $1.3-billion project was paid for primarily by governments. Alberta gave $745 million and Ottawa paid $120 million. "If we were to replicate or do a very similar project to Quest, we would expect to see savings in and around the 30 per cent mark, just because of efficiencies that we've been able to recreate, and then a different kind of economic environment that we're currently in, in comparison to when Quest was being built," said Kassam.Shell had anticipated operating costs of about $40 per tonne of stored CO2, but the facility's efficiency is now about $25 per tonne.If the cost of constructing the facility is included, the cost is about $80 per tonne, compared with initial forecasts of about $120 per tonne.While some carbon capture projects have faced challenges with costs and reliability, Quest has proven reliable, said officials, with less than one per cent of downtime every year."For the most part, it has been relatively smooth. We've definitely seen some small things," said Kassam. "But we had a really well designed project, so we haven't necessarily encountered some of the larger challenges, I would say, that some other projects have."Since the project was developed, the ownership structure has changed, with Canadian Natural Resources having a 70 per cent stake, Chevron Canada owning 20 per cent and Shell retaining a 10 per cent share of the facility."This is an important made-in-Canada success story," said Tim McKay, president of Canadian Natural Resources, in a statement. "The achievement reflects the collaborative partnership of industry and government along with the commitment of dedicated teams working together to continuously improve operational and environmental performance."Shell will be using lessons from the project as it proceeds with a new carbon capture project in Norway, with Total and Equinor, after the companies made a final investment decision on the proposed Northern Lights facility in May.

  • Science
    CBC

    Scientists surprised at Fort McMurray fire's long impact on rivers

    Four years after its flames guttered out, the record-breaking Fort McMurray wildfire continues to astound — this time with its lasting impact on an extensive river system."It's actually stunning that we were able to observe an effect at that large scale," said Uldis Silins, a University of Alberta professor and co-author of a recently published study on how the 2016 blaze affected the Athabasca River.In May 2016, the fire swept through nearly 6,000 square kilometres of boreal forest in northern Alberta. Fort McMurray lost 2,400 buildings, and 88,000 people were forced from their homes.With damage estimates of $10 billion, it was the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.Almost immediately after the city was safely cleared, Silins and his colleagues were flown in as part of an emergency reaction team to assess the threat to Fort McMurray's water supply.Previous research has looked at how wildfires affect headwater streams in the mountains. But nobody had looked at their impacts on a large, slow, boreal river winding through wetlands."The extent to which the fire would impact water was highly uncertain," Silins said.'A very, very large watershed'For seven months, the team sampled and tested the Athabasca and several tributaries upstream of Fort McMurray.The Athabasca is huge — nearly a kilometre across in many places — and it drains nearly one-quarter of Alberta. It's tea-coloured and turbid, full of organic material.The scientists were amazed when, every time it rained, they were able to detect significant increases in ash, potassium, nitrogen, calcium and heavy metals such as lead even within the river's normal load."It's a very, very large watershed," Silins said. "We really were not expecting to see any impact at that scale."Those impacts are magnified because tributary water doesn't mix evenly with the Athabasca's main flow."You've got a river the colour of chocolate milk and these small tributaries during certain events — a good rain, for example — look like hot fudge," said co-author Monica Emelko of the University of Waterloo."That hot-fudge sauce doesn't necessarily mix in. That plume that extended for a very long distance, hugging the riverbank, is likely what was making its way into the water treatment plant in Fort McMurray."The fire residue also makes it harder to manage bacteria in the city's reservoir.Fort McMurray's water safeEmelko said the city's water has remained safe — it's just harder and more expensive to make it so. City officials have said treatment costs increased 50 per cent after the fire."There is a very clear signature of the wildfire on drinking water supply and treatment in Fort McMurray," Emelko said. "The community is paying a continued cost because of the fire." In most places, fire impacts on watersheds quickly dissipate. Studies on several Alberta fires in the foothills and the Rocky Mountains, however, show that hasn't been the case.Scientists believe the lingering presence of fire-related material could be related to the province's geology being rich in fine-grained sediments."There, we have certainly seen a long persistence of those fire effects — far longer than has been reported in most other regions worldwide," Silins said.Climate and forest scientists have long suggested that huge fires such as the one dubbed "the Beast" in Fort McMurray are going to become more common as warmer temperatures dry forests out and extend the burning season."As climates have shifted, and we're very clearly seeing a shift in wildfire behaviour, we're going to see these kinds of impacts on water more and more often," Silins said."Fires are impacting a far broader range of ecosystem values and human values than we thought. This is something we're going to have deal with on a far more regular basis."

  • Migrant worker advocate says those mistakenly billed for COVID-19 care creates additional deterrent
    Health
    CBC

    Migrant worker advocate says those mistakenly billed for COVID-19 care creates additional deterrent

    A local migrant worker advocate says the mistaken billing of workers in Windsor-Essex who received medical attention for COVID-19 is just another deterrent for others to not access care. Justice for Migrant Workers organizer Chris Ramsaroop told CBC News that some undocumented migrant workers have been billed for healthcare services related to COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.He said this should be a "tremendous concern" because if others find out, it could be another barrier to workers accessing care. Erie Shores Healthcare communications director Arms Bumanlag told CBC News that the hospital "had a few bills that were brought to our attention that were sent in error for COVID related issues. What we've done here at Erie Shores is immediately reverse those charges and apologize." Workers have been concerned with getting tested because they are worried of reprisals if they test positive, Ramsaroop said, adding that being mistakenly charged won't help when it comes to them getting tested or accessing care. As of Monday, 19 of about 175 farms in the Windsor-Essex area have completed onsite testing, according to Ontario Health, amounting to about 1,800 workers being tested.About 11 per cent of all workers who have been tested are positive for the disease. Bumanlag said the bills were likely sent out because the hospital is trying to limit the amount of clinical information that is accessible to non-clinical staff, which includes their billing clerks. During this process, the care a patient receives has been removed to protect patient confidentiality.He said they have now created a process where they will put a note on all COVID related care invoices. The messages say the billing office needs to be immediately notified to cancel any charges. "We are actively encouraging anyone who has received this bill to let us know that you have and we are going to correct it," Bumanlag said, adding that he realizes they have a very different demographic in the county and because of that they need to "work harder" to engage with the migrant worker community. "We've tried very hard to break down barriers to accessing care in our community...potential financial issues [shouldn't] stop someone from receiving care." In a March press release, the provincial government stated that testing and treatment for COVID-19 should be free of charge in Ontario. The province has said it would cover the cost of COVID-19 services for people who are uninsured and don't meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. By doing so, the province said it hopes no one will be discouraged from getting tested or treated for the disease due to financial concerns.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Police apologize after 911 call where white woman reports Black man in a park

    OTTAWA — A Black man from Ottawa says he wants to hear the full recording of a 911 call made about him by a white woman, after police apologized for their role in the incident.Ntwali Bashizi, 21, says he was taking a break from cycling on a trail bridge in a city park on Monday when the woman approached him and asked him to get off so she could pass from a distance.He says he told the woman she could pass with no problem because the bridge was about as wide as the rest of the trail, but told her she could wait until he was done resting if she wanted to.Bashizi says he started recording the interaction after the woman started taking photos of him and called someone on her phone.A video of the incident posted on Twitter this week shows the woman walking past Bashizi on the bridge while describing him on the phone to a 911 operator.In the video, posted by Bashizi's older brother, the woman turns the call to speakerphone so the operator can talk to Bashizi."Sir, it's the Ottawa police. Do I really need to send a police officer just for you let this girl by?" the operator asks in the video."I'm not stopping her from coming by," Bashizi replies before being interrupted."You're intimidating her, sir, okay, can you just stand to the side?" the operator says, as Bashizi replies that he's already doing so.Bashizi remains at a distance from the woman throughout the video and she eventually walks away while still on the phone.The police force replied to the Twitter video on Thursday, saying they have spoken with the man who posted it to offer a "full and unreserved apology.""We are fully reviewing this incident," the police force wrote on Twitter. "At this point it is clear that this was not an appropriate use of the 911 system and the service did not act appropriately in handling the call."Bashizi said he would like to see the woman identified and charged with any applicable crime, although police say they have not laid any charges at this time.The Canadian Press has not been able to identify the woman involved."I honestly want to know what was going on in her head at the time," Bashizi said in an interview, adding that the woman was visibly afraid although he said he didn't approach her throughout the interaction."I just want to understand, or I want her to tell me what was so threatening about me. Why she allowed other people to walk by her but she couldn't walk by me."Bashizi's brother, Joakim Bashizi, said the incident is an example of racial prejudice in Canada."I need people — and especially white people — to understand that Black people do not have to explain themselves unless they're committing a crime," said Joakim. "You never see Black people going around and asking white people what they're doing playing hockey in the middle of the street."The two men say police have invited them for a tour of the station, where Ntwali said he'll ask for the full audio from the 911 call.The incident comes months after an incident in New York's Central Park, which a white woman called police after a Black man requested that she leash her dog.In that video, the woman — since identified as Amy Cooper — told the man that she'd call police and tell them he was threatening her.She then called police and told the operator that the man was threatening as he stood at a distance from her.Cooper has since been charged with filing a false police report and fired from her job over the May incident.She has apologized and said she reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about the man's intentions.Elsewhere in the U.S., legislative measures have been proposed to criminalize discriminatory and racist 911 calls.The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act, put forward by a San Francisco politician, is named after the slang term "Karen," which has been used to describe white women calling police with outrageous and demonstrably false allegations against people of colour.— By Salmaan Farooqui in Toronto, with files from Associated PressThis report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Survey suggests 40 per cent of Alberta doctors have considered leaving province

    CALGARY — A survey by the Alberta Medical Association suggests more than 40 per cent of the province's physicians have at least considered looking for work elsewhere in Canada.The group blames the potential exodus on the United Conservative government's announced changes to how doctors are paid.Some of the measures announced in February were rolled back during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government and the association remain at odds, and Premier Jason Kenney has said compensation needs to be reined in.The survey found 87 per cent of Alberta doctors were making changes to their practices, including layoffs, reduced hours, early retirement and possibly leaving Alberta.The medical association is taking the province to court, alleging breaches of charter rights because it was not given access to third- party arbitration.Health Minister Tyler Shandro said it's questionable whether doctors would leave for other provinces, where they would earn far less than under Alberta's funding arrangement.He said the AMA has never presented a credible proposal to keep physician spending at $5.4 billion annually. Alberta's United Conservative government's filed a statement of defence to the lawsuit this week, arguing the province has engaged with doctors in good faith."The AMA needs to stop playing games and start taking the economic crisis facing this province and this country seriously," Shandro said in a statement Friday. "We’re still offering to hold our spending at the highest level in Canada, and, frankly, that commitment is looking more generous by the day, considering the fiscal situation in this province and this country."The government is looking into publicizing physician compensation, as it does for other public servants, he added.Kenney, asked by reporters Friday about the conflict, said "we are going through a fiscal and economic crisis and everybody needs to be part of the solution."In the past five years, the average private sector after-tax income has declined by 10 per cent. Most people in the government sector have been frozen over the past five years. But physicians, who are the best compensated people in the public sector, have seen a 23 per cent increase in their compensation over four years."That simply is not sustainable."AMA president Dr. Christine Molnar said she can't blame doctors for wanting to protect their livelihoods and calls the Alberta government's actions "reckless.""Physicians have reached a breaking point," Molnar said in a release Friday. "I'm deeply troubled by where this is going and what it’s going to mean for medical practices and patients in the coming months."Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said he was troubled, but not shocked, by the survey's results."Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro are at war with Alberta doctors: tearing up their contract, cutting their pay, and imposing hundreds of pages of new paperwork in the middle of a public health emergency," the New Democrat said in a statement."Kenney and Shandro have smeared Alberta doctors at every turn, suggesting they are lazy, greedy and dishonest. It’s despicable."The AMA surveyed 1,470 physicians from across Alberta between June 24 and July 3. It says the results are accurate within 2.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.— With files from Dean Bennett in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020Lauren Krugel, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version had physician spending at $5.4 million.

  • Tories ask police to investigate prime minister over WE Charity deal
    News
    CBC

    Tories ask police to investigate prime minister over WE Charity deal

    The opposition Conservatives are calling for a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ties to the WE Charity after the federal government tasked the organization with administering a $900-million sole-sourced contract.The call comes a day after CBC News and Canadaland reported that, despite initial claims, WE had financial dealings with some of Trudeau's family members, most notably his mother Margaret and brother Alexandre.WE and its affiliates paid out some $300,000 in speaking fees to the two through the Speakers' Spotlight Bureau over the last four years.CTV News also reported that the prime minister's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, received $1,500 for participating in a WE event in 2012, before Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party. She currently hosts a podcast for the charity.The prime minister isn't the only member of cabinet with personal ties to WE. CBC News reported Friday that Finance Minister Bill Morneau's daughter also works for the charity, as a paid employee of the charity's travel department since 2019.Neither Trudeau nor Morneau recused themselves from cabinet's discussion on the student grants program.Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion announced last Friday that he was investigating Trudeau over the choice of WE to run the grants program.But Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said a probe by the ethics commissioner alone is insufficient, given the new revelations about payments to Trudeau family members before Ottawa awarded WE the contract to administer the the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)."It's not just a conflict of interest. It's much more serious than that. We have a prime minister that has used his powers to get a benefit out of an organization related to himself and his family," he said in French.Poilievre cited Section 121 of the Criminal Code as a potential avenue for the police.That section, titled "frauds on the government," says it's an offence for someone to give an elected official or any member of their family "a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for co-operation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission in connection with the transaction of business with or any matter of business relating to the government.""We're asking the relevant authorities if this could apply," Poilievre said.In a letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett said his party is also concerned about the seven other federal grants and contributions — valued at more than $5 million — that WE has received from Ottawa since 2017."I encourage the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the possibility of criminal offences arising from these disturbing facts.  You and the very able members of the national police force possess the necessary skills, expertise and tools to get to the bottom of this," Barrett said in the letter.The initial decision to outsource the student grants program to a third party with ties to the prime minister's family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives.WE decided to pull out of the contract last week, citing the "controversy" over the partnership. WE agreed to give up the $19.5 million it was to be paid to administer the program.Trudeau had defended the partnership, saying WE was the only group with a nationwide network capable of operating a program of this sort for young people. Other charitable organizations have questioned that assertion.Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said today the prime minister wasn't the one who picked WE to dole out the grants to students.He said that the recommendation came from bureaucrats working at Employment and Social Development Canada. They selected WE because of its extensive partnerships with other youth organizations, he told reporters."Make no mistake — the directions that we take are really based on the non-partisan advice that we get from our public service," he said. "They made a clear recommendation and we followed that recommendation."Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the government needs to produce the records that show public servants were behind the original recommendation to work with WE on this program.He said Liberal parliamentarians should be just as curious as opposition MPs about the prime minister's handling of this file."It's getting to the point where I'd challenge other Liberal MPs and Liberal cabinet ministers — Did they know that the prime minister was in this position?" Scheer said in an interview with CBC's Power & Politics. "When cabinet was signing off on this decision, was Mr. Trudeau open and forthright with his colleagues? Did he inform them what he was asking them to agree to?"How closely do they want to be associated with Justin Trudeau's ethical behaviour here? We really do need to get to the bottom of this."Barrett said it's "essential" that the police probe the government's decision to hand such a valuable contract to a "Trudeau and Liberal-friendly firm.""Canadians deserve to have a prime minister and a cabinet and a Parliament that they have confidence in," he said. "It is clear that confidence has been shaken yet again."In an interview with Power and Politics, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez insisted that federal bureaucrats were the ones who picked WE — and that it wasn't the only charitable organization the government worked with to roll out pandemic aid. The government also has worked with the United Way and Food Banks Canada, he said.He said the government is ready to move on with the grants program without WE."You have to understand that we're in a COVID environment where we made decisions day-by-day — sometimes faster than we wanted," Rodriquez said today. "Sometimes the programs weren't perfect."He also promised that "all documents that can be shared will be shared."