New federal security bill, end to Arctic island dispute: in the news June 14

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In The News is a roundup of articles from The Canadian Press designed to start your day. Here’s what’s on our editors’ radar for the morning of June 14… What we’re watching in Canada…

In The News is a roundup of articles from The Canadian Press designed to start your day. Here’s what’s on our editors’ radar for the morning of June 14…

What we’re watching in Canada…

Businesses and other private sector organizations would be required to report incidents of ransomware and other cyberattacks to the government under a federal bill to be introduced today.

The legislation aims to flesh out the Liberal government’s efforts to protect critical infrastructure following last month’s announcement that Chinese providers Huawei Technologies and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s next-generation mobile networks.

At the time, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the Liberals would introduce legislation that would go further by taking additional measures to protect infrastructure in telecommunications, finance, energy and transport.

He said it would establish a framework to better protect systems vital to national security and give the government a new tool to respond to emerging dangers in cyberspace.

Attacks on corporations, universities, and even hospitals by cybercriminals who hold data hostage in exchange for ransom have become extremely common.

Some targeted organizations have preferred to pay the required fee to try to smooth out the problem, making it difficult for officials to get a full picture of the phenomenon.

Mendicino told a recent House of Commons committee meeting that the government was considering making reporting of such attacks mandatory.

Planned measures also include amendments to the Telecommunications Act that would allow the government to prohibit the use of equipment and services from designated providers as needed.

The federal policy outlined in May prohibits the use of new 5G equipment and managed services from Huawei and ZTE. Existing 5G equipment or services must be removed or terminated by June 28, 2024. Any use of new 4G equipment and managed services from both companies will also be prohibited, with existing equipment to be retired by December 31, 2027.

Also this…

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal said Canada had reached an agreement with Denmark, settling a dispute over the country owning a small island in the Arctic.

He says a deal will be signed today on Hans Island after lengthy talks on the uninhabited rock near Ellesmere Island.

The 1.3 square kilometer island lies in the territorial waters of Canada and Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory.

It has been the subject of decades of diplomatic disputes and negotiations for this agreement have been ongoing since 2005.

Both countries planted their flags on the island. In 1984, Canada planted its flag with a bottle of whiskey – only for the visit of the Danish Minister for Greenlandic Affairs, leaving his country’s flag and a bottle of Danish liquor.

The deal is expected to involve drawing a territorial line drawn across the island, which is traditional hunting territory for Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit.

This means that Canada shares a land border with Denmark for the first time.

What we’re watching in the US…

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona _ The northern Arizona city of Flagstaff is synonymous with mountains _ lush with ponderosa pines, meadows and hiking trails that offer respite from the desert heat.

Now parts of them are still burning this year, fueled by winds that wiped out air assets on Monday. Fire crews were anticipating more moderate winds on Tuesday and throughout the week, which could help them better control the blaze which largely spared homes but headed into a wilderness area and towards a domed volcano of lava.

Townspeople looked towards the mountains as smoke billowed into the air and winds howled, some scared, others nervous – most hoping the humidity in the weekend forecast brings some relief.

About 2,500 homes were evacuated due to two wildfires that burned on the outskirts of Flagstaff. A home and secondary structure burned down, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said. Hundreds of other people in California and New Mexico have also been forced to flee homes threatened by wildfires.

In northern Arizona, Coconino County has declared an emergency due to the wildfire.

Fire Cmdr. Aaron Graeser said the Flagstaff area fire is one of the nation’s top priorities for firefighting resources. It was estimated at 20 square kilometers on Monday evening, but fire managers were unable to do aerial mapping.

Two other smaller wildfires northeast of the blaze coalesced, forcing evacuations in a more distant area on Monday.

Wildfires erupted in early spring in several western US states, where climate change and persistent drought are fueling the frequency and intensity of forest and grassland fires. A spring fire outside Flagstaff destroyed more than two dozen homes. Most of the residents who were later evacuated have been out of their homes again because of this latest wildfire.

What we’re looking at in the rest of the world…

TEHRAN, Iran — An explosion at a chemical plant in southern Iran injured dozens of people, most lightly, the country’s state television reported on Tuesday.

The report said a leak from an ammonium tank caused the explosion on Monday evening in the southern city of Firouzabad in Fars province, located about 770 kilometers south of the capital, Tehran. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, the report added.

According to the head of the provincial health department, Vahid Hosseini, out of 133 injured people who were taken to local hospitals, mostly factory workers, 114 were later released after being treated.

Authorities reopened a nearby main road on Tuesday that they had closed after the blast. The plant was brought online in 2020.

Iran occasionally reports incidents of fires or explosions at industrial sites affecting the country’s infrastructure which are mainly blamed on technical failures. Years of economic sanctions by the West have blocked Iran’s access to genuine spare parts and new equipment.

Sensitive military and nuclear sites in Iran have also been the target of attacks in recent years, which Iran has blamed on Israel.

In February, a fire broke out in a warehouse full of engine oil and flammable materials at a base belonging to Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in the western province of Kemranshah, damaging a hangar but causing no casualties. A day earlier, unconfirmed reports proliferated online of several explosions heard in North Kermanshah, a strategic location in Iran with various missile and military sites.

The reports come as Iran remains nervous over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers. Negotiations in Vienna to revive the agreement have been stalled for months.

The 2015 deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program collapsed four years ago when former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal and reimposed crushing sanctions.

On this day in 1919…

British pilots John William Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown took off from St. John’s, Newfoundland, for the first non-stop transatlantic flight. They landed in a bog in Galway, Ireland, after covering around 3,100 kilometers in just over 16 hours. The theft won them a $10,000 prize offered by the London Daily Mail, and both were made knights.

In entertainment…

VENTURA, Calif. _ A man briefly married to Britney Spears who showed up uninvited at the pop star’s wedding to her longtime boyfriend, Sam Asghari, was charged Monday with criminal harassment.

Jason Alexander, 40, pleaded not guilty in Ventura County court to the charge, as well as the misdemeanors of trespassing, vandalism and battery.

The three misdemeanor charges stem directly from Alexander’s attempt to enter the wedding, which he livestreamed on Instagram. The harassment charge involved repeated incidents over time, Spears’ attorney Mathew Rosengart said.

“He will _ I hope, and I pledged my support _ be pursued very vigorously,” Rosengart said outside the hearing. “This is a very serious matter. It was more than just a ‘marriage crash’ quote. It was an intrusion.”

A judge has issued a restraining order requiring Alexander, who appeared in court via video link from jail, to stay at least 100 yards away from Spears for three years. The judge set his bail at $100,000 and scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday.

Alexander was Spears’ first husband. The two were married less than three days in 2004 before an annulment.

Spears, 40, and Asghari, 28, tied the knot Thursday at her Thousand Oaks, Calif., home in front of dozens of guests including Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton and Madonna.

Alexander, who was a childhood friend of Spears, was broadcasting live on Instagram when he approached the house. He appeared in a nearly empty but decorated room, telling security that Spears had invited him. Deputies responding to a trespassing call detained him and he was arrested when they learned he had a warrant for his arrest in another county, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said.

Have you seen this?

OTTAWA _ Passport offices are still dealing with a surge of requests, according to the minister responsible, and wait times are “far from acceptable.”

Karina Gould says these long wait times are her top priority, but she can’t say when things might return to normal.

The federal government says 72% of Canadians who apply for a passport in any way will get it within 40 business days, while 96% of people who apply in person will get their passport within 10 business days.

The government’s website now includes estimated waiting times for visits to passport offices, updated three times a day, to help people plan.

On Monday afternoons, you can expect to wait four hours and 45 minutes at the Ottawa location, three hours in Toronto, and six hours and 45 minutes in Vancouver.

Gould says his department is considering other changes, including moving the application process online.

She also says her department is working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to determine if there is a way to issue passports to people who obtain their citizenship instead of requiring a separate application. Both examples will take time to implement.

There are generally between two and five million passport applications per year in Canada. During the pandemic, only about 1.5 million passports were issued over two years.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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