North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects military satellite station
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter Kim Ju Ae meet with members of the Non-permanent Satellite Launch Preparatory Committee, as he inspects the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite, in Pyongyang, North Korea May 16, 2023, in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on May 17, 2023. REUTERS
North Korea will launch its first military reconnaissance satellite in June for monitoring U.S. military activities, state media KCNA reported on Tuesday.
In a statement carried by the KCNA news agency, Ri Pyong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party, denounced joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea as openly showing their “reckless ambition for aggression.”
U.S. and South Korean forces have carried out various training exercises in recent months, including what they said were the biggest joint live-fire exercises last week, after many drills were scaled back amid COVID-19 restrictions and hopes for diplomatic efforts with North Korea.
A harness-wearing Beluga whale that turned up in Norway in 2019, sparking speculation it was a spy trained by the Russian navy, has appeared off Sweden’s coast, an organisation following him said Monday.
First discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark, the whale spent more than three years slowly moving down the top half of the Norwegian coastline, before suddenly speeding up in recent months to cover the second half and on to Sweden.
On Sunday, he was observed in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast.
“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment”, Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organisation, told AFP.
Liberal MP Ryan Turnbull has been called out on social media and was even hit with a Twitter community note addressing his false claim that Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre would fail a security clearance due to a “red flag in his background.”
Turnbull made the unsubstantiated claim on Thursday in response to Poilievre’s refusal to be involved in classified briefings on Chinese interference.
“Why won’t Poilievre get security clearance? Either he prefers to remain ignorant of the facts so he can continue to mislead, or he has a red flag in his background which would have him fail to gain clearance causing him embarrassment,” speculated Turnbull.
Cabinet’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into claims of illegal activities by Chinese agents was predictable, a Bloc Québécois MP yesterday told the House affairs committee. “The walls are closing in,” said MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau (Laurentides-Labelle, Que.). “That’s enough.”
“Partisanship is winning out over the integrity of our democracy,” said Gaudreau. “I have said it before and I’ll say it again, we in the Bloc are not out to get power, we are out to get information. And to get information you need experts and there needs to be a public inquiry.”
The Commons on March 23 voted 172 to 149 to “launch a national public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference in Canada’s democratic system.” The motion asked that the investigation be led by a judge selected by all House leaders with powers to compel testimony and subpoena documents. It followed a similar vote by Conservative, Bloc and New Democrat MPs in the House affairs committee on March 2.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a 2010 radio interview described David Johnston as a frequent dinner companion with whom he had “great conversations.” Johnston on Tuesday dismissed his “so-called friendship” with Trudeau as insignificant.
“We had great conversations around dinner tables around all sorts of things,” Trudeau told CBC Radio in an interview marking Johnston’s 2010 appointment as governor general. “I always respected him as a man who was very personable, very real and very, very smart,” Trudeau said at the time.
James Fitz-Morris, the CBC reporter who interviewed both Johnston and Justin Trudeau, said in his original broadcast: “Pierre Trudeau and Johnston were friends. The families often vacationed together, the three Trudeau boys and five Johnston girls.”
Fitz-Morris, now a political aide, yesterday said he could not recall the source of his report that the families vacationed together. “I remember the interview and the story,” said Fitz-Morris. “I don’t remember where that piece came from.”
House Judiciary Committee Requests Documents over Bank of America Giving Americans’ Bank Info to FBI Around January 6
The House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Bank of America (BoA) CEO Brian Moynihan requiring documents and communications surrounding the bank’s decision to provide the FBI with their customers’ private banking information “voluntarily and without any legal process.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust Chairman Thomas Massie (R-KY) sent a letter to Bank of America after FBI whistleblowers testified that the bank provided a list of anyone who used their services in the Washington, DC, area regardless of whether or not they participated in the January 6 protests.
A Toronto lawyer who assisted David Johnston in his review of alleged misconduct by Chinese agents yesterday would not comment on her ties to the Liberal Party. The advocacy group Democracy Watch filed an ethics complaint naming lawyer Sheila Block.
“I retained Sheila Block of Torys LLP to assist me in obtaining, reviewing and analyzing the materials that I expected to receive as well as assisting with interviews,” Johnston wrote Tuesday in his First Report.
Block is a partner in the Toronto law firm. She was named to the Order of Canada last December 29. Democracy Watch identified Elections Canada filings showing a regular Liberal Party donor named “Sheila Block” of Toronto contributed a total $7,593 in the period from 2006 to last October 27.
Block yesterday did not respond to questions. “It is a violation of the Conflict Of Interest Act to participate in any decision or action when there is an opportunity to further your own interests or the interests of a friend,” Democracy Watch wrote in a statement. “Both Justin Trudeau and David Johnston are covered by the Act.”
Like it or not, the Korean peninsula is a key defence priority for Canada This commentary by Andrew Erskine underscores the need for increased attention on the Korean Peninsula in Canada’s national defense strategy.
If asked to list examples of global threats that are consequential to Canada’s defence, Canadians will highlight the Russo-Ukrainian war, Sudan’s domestic conflict between state and paramilitary forces, and China’s domestic meddling and continental reconnaissance. This transformational shift in the outlooks of Canadians is vital for understanding how the current moment in history — where the international rules-based order is becoming unsteady and more hostile-looking — impacts Canada’s national defence interests.
However, Canadians remain instinctively unfamiliar with the consequences emerging from the Korean peninsula.
A new U.S. congressional committee on China approved reports on Wednesday pushing back on Beijing over its treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities and seeking to deter the initiation of a conflict with Taiwan, hoping some of its recommendations become law this year.
Members of the Republican-led House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party approved both reports, its first since the panel was formed, by voice vote.
Republicans formed the panel as they took control of the House in January to focus policy and convince Americans that they should care about competing with China.
The bipartisan committee does not write legislation but makes policy recommendations, at a time when a hard line toward China is one of the few policies with bipartisan support in the deeply divided U.S. Congress.