Prosecutors Thijs Berger, Ward Ferdinandusse and Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi attend the criminal trial against four suspects in the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands, March 10, 2020. Piroschka Van De Wouw / REUTERSAMSTERDAM — Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of trying to sabotage the investigation into the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine in 2014, saying this cast “a dark shadow” over the impending trial of four suspects in the crash.Pre-trial hearings began in Amsterdam on Monday. Prosecutors say the defendants — three Russians and a Ukrainian — helped arrange the Russian missile system used to shoot down MH17, a civilian aircraft.All 298 people on board were killed. Most of the passengers were Dutch nationals.“The sum of all the facts casts a dark shadow over this investigation because there is strong indicative evidence that Russian government is keen to thwart the investigation,” prosecutor Thijs Berger told the hearing, part of which focused on testimony by witnesses who have not yet been named.“Several witnesses in this investigation have said that they fear for their lives if their identities would come to light.”Lawyers for one defendant protested at the prosecutor’s remarks about Russia, and argued that witness intimidation should not be addressed in open hearings.MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Moscow rebels amid fighting in eastern Ukraine.A team of international investigators in May 2018 concluded the missile launcher which shot down the aircraft belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.Russia denies any involvement.The defendants — Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko — held senior posts in pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine in 2014, according to prosecutors.The four face preliminary charges of the murder of 298 people and of causing the aircraft to crash. The suspects are believed to be in Russia and are not expected to attend.On Monday, judges decided the trial would continue with the suspects absent.Only Pulatov has appointed defence lawyers. Defence lawyer Sabine ten Doesschate told the court on Tuesday that her client “has nothing whatsoever to do” with the plane’s downing.She said Pulatov has not decided whether he might give the court a statement.Countries participating in the investigation – Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia and Belgium – agreed in 2017 to hold trials in the Netherlands under Dutch law after attempts to set up a U.N.-backed tribunal foundered over Russian opposition.The Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia responsible for the crash.A second defence lawyer, Boudewijn van Eijck, criticized the prosecutor’s statements about Russia as “sailing a little too close to the wind.” He said that possible defense witnesses could be influenced by such comments about intimidation.“We regret that this has been discussed publicly,” he said.Van Eijck also questioned prosecution accusations that Russia had mounted a disinformation campaign about the crash and tried to undermine the investigation.“The Russian Federation has cooperated in the release of judicial documents,” Van Eijck said. “Everything that was asked of the Russian Federation…was delivered.”Prosecutors said one witness had already been given protection. He was described as M58, a Russian national who had volunteered to join Ukrainian rebels.Prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi said M58’s statement was that he had been near the site of the missile launcher at the time the fatal missile was launched, assigned to help guard it. She said the witness gave evidence that Russian military personnel and separatists at the scene were “initially pleased” as they were told shot they had down a military transport plane.“However, when the first people returned from the crash site they said it was a civilian aircraft,” Woei-a-Tsoi said, discussing M58’s videotaped testimony.CommentsShare your thoughtscrash death Mh17 Netherlands planes Russia Ukraine
David and Elena Crenna pose for a photo at their wedding in this 2012 handout photo. David Crenna/HO / THE CANADIAN PRESSOTTAWA — A woman accused of spying for Russia says there’s nothing to the allegations because her actions ended up helping Canadian interests.Elena Crenna is asking the Federal Court to overturn an immigration adjudicator’s decision to bar her from Canada over events more than two decades ago.A hearing on the matter is slated for Wednesday in Ottawa.The spy saga began in 1994 when Canadian David Crenna hired Elena Filatova, whom he would later marry, as an interpreter and public-relations representative on a humanitarian housing project in Tver, a small city northwest of Moscow.The initiative involved training Russians to build wood-frame homes, part of an effort to shift the former Soviet Union to a market economy.An agent from the FSB, a Russian security agency, contacted Filatova to ask questions about the project and David gave her permission to tell the agent anything he wanted to know in the interest of transparency. Elena and the agent met about seven times over a period of years.In August 1994, David and Elena began a romantic relationship that ended when the housing project concluded in 1996. However, they reconnected in 2008 and were married four years later.In the interim, Elena had moved to California to work as a nurse and she obtained U.S. citizenship in 2004.Elena says she never possessed any secret information about the Tver project, nor did she covertly gather material for the Russian security agent.She came to Canada in September 2013 to live with David, applying for permanent residence under his sponsorship.Following admissibility hearings, immigration officials gave her approval to stay in 2018. But the federal government appealed.In its ruling last June, the appeal division of the Immigration and Refugee Board found Elena had “engaged in acts of espionage contrary to Canada’s interests” and issued a deportation order against her.Adjudicator Annie Lafleur wrote that some may consider Elena’s acts harmless given the socio-political context of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s, and she was sympathetic to the couple. But she said there must be legal benchmarks “to preserve the integrity of the immigration system, guarantee Canada’s security and on a larger scale, protect Canada’s fundamental values.”Elena, 58, has quietly left Canada to spend time with relatives in Philadelphia while the legal case plays out, David Crenna said in an interview.The case has left the couple in disbelief, said Crenna, a former senior political aide and association executive who is now 75 and semi-retired.“Sanity may prevail and I’m very hopeful that it will. But at the moment it’s conceivable that they could say, ‘Well, let’s grind these people into the ground.’”In a submission to the Federal Court filed late last month, the government dismisses Elena’s argument that her conversations with the Russian security agent were mundane and pedestrian, saying “the nature of the information is not relevant” when it comes to espionage.The intelligence sought by the agent in the course of his work and relayed by Elena was “necessarily intended to be used in one way or another by the Russian state,” the submission says.In her filing with the court, Elena contends the government has not satisfied the threshold in federal immigration law by showing her actions were “against Canada” or “contrary to Canada’s interests.”Rather, she co-operated with the Russian FSB to ensure the housing project, supported by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the World Bank, did not run into any difficulties.The submission says David Crenna was responsible “for safeguarding the best interests” of the project and its Canadian personnel, and he therefore decided Elena should answer the Russian FSB’s questions “to assure them that the project was benign. And that is all that happened.”CommentsShare your thoughtsEspionage and Intelligence Immigration Russia Spying
In this March 4, 2020, file photo, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), arrives at the U.S. Capitol to brief Congressional Democrats and Republicans in separate closed-door meetings on recent developments with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Washington, D.C.Samuel Corum / Getty ImagesWASHINGTON/NEW YORK — Americans, especially those who are vulnerable, may need to stop attending big gatherings as the coronavirus spreads through U.S. communities, a top health official said on Sunday, as investors braced for another volatile week in financial markets.Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that after initial missteps distributing tests, there should be 400,000 more tests available by Monday and 4 million by the end of the week.In the United States, 19 people have died out of about 450 reported cases of coronavirus, which originated in China last year and causes the sometimes deadly respiratory illness COVID-19. The outbreak has killed more than 3,600 globally.More than half of the 50 U.S. states have reported cases, including the first cases in Virginia and Connecticut on Sunday. As the outbreak spreads, daily life has been increasingly disrupted, with concerts and conferences cancelled and universities telling students to stay home and take classes online.To contain the outbreak in China, the government quarantined millions of people for weeks. Italy has announced similar measures, locking down 16 million people in the north of the country.As recently as Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would continue to hold his political rallies, which sometimes draw up to 20,000 people. The Democrats competing to challenge him in the Nov. 3 presidential election, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, have not cancelled any campaign events so far.Germany, which has nearly 1,000 cases, on Sunday urged the cancellation of all events with more than 1,000 people.Fauci said authorities in the United States may also need to consider steps to keep people out of crowded places if the virus continued to spread.Still, he downplayed the likelihood of the type of large-scale quarantines put in place in China and Italy, while saying nothing could be ruled out.“I don’t imagine that the degree of the draconian nature of what the Chinese did would ever be either feasible, applicable, doable or whatever you want to call it in the United States,” he said in an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes that will air on Sunday night. “But the idea of social distancing, I mean, obviously, that’s something that will be seriously considered.”He urged those most at risk to limit travel.“If you’re a person with an underlying condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition you need to think twice about getting on a plane, on a long trip, and not only think twice, just don’t get on a cruise ship,” Fauci said on Meet the Press.U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN cases would rise, adding that the average age of death for people with the virus was 80, and the average age of those needing medical attention was 60.“Unfortunately, you are going to see more deaths, but that doesn’t mean that we should panic,” he said. Communities need to “prepare for more cases so we can prevent more deaths,” Adams said.In financial markets, talk about recessions and bear markets was growing as investors try to assess how badly the outbreak will damage global growth. Many strategists have turned more pessimistic in recent days and are anticipating further market drops and a possible end to the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.CRUISE SHIP CRISISThe hardest hit place in the United States has been a nursing home in a suburb of Seattle and Washington state is considering mandatory measures such as banning large gatherings but not necessarily imposing massive quarantines, the governor said.The cruise ship Grand Princess, barred from returning to San Francisco last week due to a coronavirus outbreak on board, will send its 2,400 passengers to at least four quarantine centers. The crew of 1,100 will be quarantined and treated on board the ship.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of cases in New York is now 105 and he expects that to rise as testing expands.“What we are really trying to do here is avoid the massive disruption of closing everything down for two weeks the way China did, the way Italy is doing,” he said.Cuomo said a lawyer from Westchester County who is believed to be at the centre of the outbreak there had attended a number of large gatherings, contributing to the roughly 70 people in Westchester who have tested positive.“It’s these large gatherings where you can expose a number of people in a very short period of time and then it’s like dominoes, right, then the tree continues to expand with branches.”CommentsShare your thoughtsHealth Travel U.S.
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $30-million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto Max draw.That means the jackpot for the next draw on Mar. 10 will grow to approximately $40 million.The winning numbers in Friday’s Lotto Max draw for an estimated $30 million were: 02, 09, 10, 35, 41, 42 & 47.Bonus 40.In the event of any discrepancy between this list and the official winning numbers, the latter shall prevail.CommentsShare your thoughtsLotteries Lotto Max
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019. DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince meant to send a strong message to critics within the royal family by detaining senior princes this weekend: Don’t you dare oppose my succession to the throne.The main target in the crackdown, sources said, is King Salman’s brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, one of only three members of the Allegiance Council, the royal body that endorses the line of succession, to oppose Mohammed bin Salman becoming crown prince in 2017 in a palace coup.Four sources with royal connections said the move aimed to ensure compliance within the ruling Al Saud family, in which there have been rumblings of discontent, ahead of an eventual succession upon the king’s death or abdication.One of the sources described the detentions as a preemptive effort to ensure Prince Mohammed’s “ascent will be rubber-stamped by the Allegiance Council when the time comes.”Ahmed, 78, was detained on Friday along with Mohammed bin Nayef, who was crown prince until he was ousted in 2017 and replaced by Mohammed bin Salman. Ahmed’s son Nayef and Mohammed’s brother Nawaf were also detained, said two other sources with royal connections.The princes have been held at royal villas in the capital Riyadh and some were allowed to contact their families, those sources said.Crown Prince Mohammed, who has moved ruthlessly to tighten his grip on power, feared disaffected princes might rally around Ahmed and Mohammed bin Nayef as potential alternatives to take the throne, said two of the sources with royal connections, and a senior foreign diplomat.“This is a preparation for transferring power,” said one of those sources. “It is a clear message to the family that no one can say ‘No’ or dare challenge him.”Saudi authorities have not confirmed or commented on the detentions, which have not been covered by Saudi media. The media ministry has not responded to detailed requests for comment.If Mohammed bin Salman, 34, succeeds his father, it will be Saudi Arabia’s first generational transfer of power since the death of state founder Abdulaziz Ibn Saud in 1953, who was followed by six of his sons in succession.The Allegiance Council, made up of one member from each house of 34 sons of Abdulaziz, is designed to ensure that the hundreds of princes that make up the royal family’s next generation unite behind the new king.The senior foreign diplomat said the detentions were another blow to the country’s image abroad just as it appeared to be recovering from the furore over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and criticism of the Yemen war.Crown Prince Mohammed previously detained senior royals and prominent Saudi businessmen in 2017 at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, unnerving investors at home and abroad. More recently, it seemed those days of unpredictability had been put to rest as Riyadh assumed this year’s presidency of the Group of 20 major economies.ROYAL DISCONTENTWhen sources initially described the latest detentions in recent days, several of them said the detained princes had been accused of plotting a coup to thwart Mohammed’s accession. However, some of those sources, and others who later spoke about the detentions, have since offered milder justifications, describing the arrests as a response to an accumulation of misbehavior rather than a plot against the crown prince.Two sources used the same phrase, saying the princes were being warned with a “twist of the ear” to stop criticizing the crown prince.While hosting traditional gatherings known as majlis, Prince Ahmed had raised questions about the crown prince’s stance on several issues, including a U.S. plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one of the sources said.There was no way to contact Ahmed or the other princes to comment on the allegations. Sources said he returned from a trip abroad the night before he was detained.Ahmed on Saturday asked his family to deliver his bisht, a traditional coat worn at formal occasions, suggesting he might soon make a public appearance, said two sources including one with royal connections.Saudi insiders and Western diplomats say the family is unlikely to oppose the crown prince while the king is alive, and the monarch would not turn against his favorite son, to whom he has delegated most responsibilities of rule.The recent detentions sparked speculation about the health of 84-year-old King Salman, but sources have said he remains mentally and physically sound. State TV on Sunday aired a clip of him accepting oaths of office from two new Saudi ambassadors.Mohammed bin Nayef’s brother Saud and Saud’s son, Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz, who were both rumored to have been among those detained, also appeared conducting official business in photographs published by state media on Sunday.Royals seeking to change the line of succession have viewed Prince Ahmed as a possible choice who would have support of family members, the security forces and some Western powers, sources have said.The other two members of the Allegiance Council who opposed Mohammed bin Salman becoming crown prince in 2017 are younger and less prominent than Ahmed. One of them lives abroad.“Disgruntlement was gathering around him (Prince Ahmed) and he was letting it happen,” said the fourth source with royal connections.Critics have questioned the crown prince’s ability to lead after the 2018 murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents and an attack last year on a Saudi oil facility, the sources said.Some royals became disaffected after Prince Mohammed reigned in traditional largesse for many family members, heavily restricted their movements and replaced their security details with guards who report to him.Mohammed bin Nayef’s movements have been heavily controlled and monitored since 2017.Ahmed has kept a low profile since returning to Riyadh in October 2018 after 2-1/2 months abroad, when he appeared to criticize the Saudi leadership while responding to protesters outside a London residence chanting for the Al Saud’s downfall. Saudi watchers say there is no evidence he wants the throne.The second source with royal connections said the crown prince may have wanted to clear his path before the U.S. presidential election, fearing that a loss by Donald Trump could affect his standing.The foreign diplomat said he may have moved against his uncle and cousin out of an abundance of caution, fearing that “the Americans might one day turn to them.”CommentsShare your thoughtsSaudi Arabia
An RCAF CF-18 prepares for takeoff at CFB Bagotville, Que. on June 7, 2018. A top U.S. Defense Department official says her country is working to identify and address the cyber weaknesses in its vast array of military equipment — and will shut down anything that isn't brought up to standards.Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESSOTTAWA — Canada and the United States are working together to make their high-tech military equipment less hackable, top defence officials said in Ottawa Thursday, but they have a lot of work to do.Speaking to the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, Ellen Lord, the U.S. undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment, suggested American military officials have long made excuses for not addressing the vulnerabilities in their equipment.“That is no longer acceptable,” Lord said. “We are going to start shutting equipment down if they are not brought up to standards because every day we see the intel, we see how much has been compromised in what we do.”Lord’s comments follow a growing recognition about the extent to which cyberattacks threaten not only targets such as computer networks, but all manner of devices — including fighter jets and warships — in an increasingly connected world.An audit by the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general in 2018 found those vulnerabilities extended to American nuclear-missile facilities.Lord and Troy Crosby, who oversees military procurement at Canada’s Department of National Defence and also spoke at the conference, said officials in both countries are seized with protecting new military equipment from potential attacks.“We have a variety of organizations now that are looking at cyberassurance,” Crosby told The Canadian Press in an interview. “We certainly don’t want to be acquiring new capability with issues.”While he also insisted the government would not ignore potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities identified in existing equipment, Crosby could not say whether Canada has conducted a detailed audit in the same way as the U.S. has.Crosby nonetheless insisted officials are “constantly assessing threats and risks to the organization from whatever angle, whether it’s cyber or otherwise. So I think people are paying attention.”Lord said while U.S. assessments found officials had been lax in applying cybersecurity requirements for military equipment in the past, she said it will no longer be acceptable to trade such requirements in favour of cost or schedule savings or better performance.“There is an absolute requirement,” she said.The threat posed by cyberattacks figured prominently during the two-day defence conference, with numerous Canadian military officers and outside experts specifically flagging Russia and China as North America’s top cyber adversaries.“Cybersecurity is the area that has moved the fastest and changed the most in the two-and-a-half years that I’ve had this job,” Lord said.“The bottom line is I don’t think the average American citizen understands that we are at cyberwar every day. And it is problematic not only in the area of defence, but our entire nationwide infrastructure and everything we do.”CommentsShare your thoughts
TORONTO — Tim Hortons says it will temporarily stop accepting reusable cups brought in by customers amid concerns about the novel coronavirus outbreak.The company has also put on hold plans it had to give away 1.8 million reusable cups for free as part of its Roll Up the Rim contest this year.The temporary move follows similar decisions by Starbucks and The Second Cup Ltd.Tim Hortons says that though health officials have not recommended any changes to its current procedures, it is making the change after listening to its restaurant owners and comments from its customers.The company says it will delay the distribution of the reusable cups that were planned to be given away next week until later this year.It says it will honour the three digital rolls described in its campaign for any customer that brings in a reusable cup during its Roll Up the Rim contest and buys a hot beverage scanning their Tims Rewards card or app, however the drink will be provided in a recyclable paper cup.CommentsShare your thoughtsFast Food Restaurants Restaurants and Food Services Tim Hortons
Chinese barbers aren’t taking any chances when it comes to catching the coronavirus.Viral video shows barbers attaching clippers, blow dryers, and combs to the ends of four-foot-long poles that they use to cut hair so they can keep a safe distance from their clients, the Daily Mail reports.“The tools don’t work as well as when you hold them in your hand, but this is for the safety (of us and the customers),” Wu Junlong, a barber from the Henan province in China, told media.Multiple videos have been shared showing barbers wearing surgical masks while they work, with one video showing a barber in a full hazmat suit.The New York Post reported the owner of a salon in the city of Luzhou of China’s Sichuan province came up with the idea to make customers feel safer.The odd trend surfaces after health officials across the globe warn against unnecessary close physical contact.Switzerland’s health minister encouraged people to stop the common greeting of kissing each other on the cheek.The virus has infected more than 93,000 people globally and the World Health Organization has set the global risk level at “very high.”Long distance haircut in Wuhan hospital pic.twitter.com/sKiGkIEprc— Laria Young (@YoungLaria) February 25, 2020CommentsShare your thoughts
Coronavirus or not this is just unsanitary.Two Iranian men are facing severe penalties after they recorded themselves licking holy shrines in the city of Qom, encouraging people to visit despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying the virus has spread to nearly every province in the country, the Daily Mail reports.The men are now facing jail time and could be flogged for sharing the videos which constitute “spreading fake and superstitious news,” Hasan Nowrozi, an Iranian lawmaker, said.“Such people would face two months to two years (in) jail and up to 74 lashes as punishment,” Nowrozi added.In the videos shared online, one of the men supposedly says “I’m licking this and I don’t care what happens,” and then proceeds to lick the walls of the shrine. “I’m not scared of the coronavirus,” he says when he stops licking.While the city of Qom is the epicentre of #CoronaVirus in Iran, authorities refuse to close down religious shrines there.These pro-regime people are licking the shrines & encouraging people to visit them.Iran's authorities are endangering lives of Iranians & the world pic.twitter.com/s9o6zYhzNQ— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) February 29, 2020The second clip reveals a man who says he was there “to lick the tomb so that I can fall ill.”“This way, I’ve removed the viruses. You can come and visit,” he says. He licks a very small portion of the wall briefly then says to the camera: “So, I’ve subjected myself to the coronavirus, I hope you come and visit,” before going on for another lick.According to the Iranian health ministry, 92 people have died from the virus and more than 2,900 people have been infected.Nowrozi told the BBC arresting both men is “not enough as the religious centres are still open in Qom and other cities where people are suffering from coronavirus.”Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports and rumours that Iran is not being completely transparent about the true severity of the outbreak in the region.The high death rate and relatively low infection rate has caused many to question what’s truly happening in Iran.“Hospitals are full of infected people. We hear about hundreds of deaths,” a doctor in Tehran who asked not to be named, told the DailyMail. “We need more hospitals. The death toll will rise.”Hong Kong coronavirus patient's dog could be first human-to-animal transmission: ExpertsShed handshakes for smiles and foot taps to avoid COVID-19 risk: DoctorWHO warns of global shortage of medical equipment to fight coronavirusWorld 'in uncharted territory' as coronavirus spreads: WHOCommentsShare your thoughtsIran
El patrullaje cumple la ley n.º 19677 y se complementa con el decreto del Poder Ejecutivo firmado este jueves 12, que reglamenta el proceder para identificar a las personas, controlar y registrar los vehículos, así como en qué casos se considera la flagrancia delictual y cuándo deben actuar las Fuerzas Armadas.“El reclamo era muy grande, y ver al Estado protegiendo y colaborando para la seguridad de todos merece la recepción que obtuvieron hoy los efectivos. Hay cinco organismos del Estado que están coordinados en este objetivo: que el Uruguay sea más seguro. Estos operativos vinieron para quedarse”, precisó el ministro García.Durante la jornada, la Armada Nacional incrementó la vigilancia en el río Uruguay y, además, la Fuerza Aérea realizó una misión de reconocimiento en las fronteras internacionales de los departamentos de Salto, Artigas y Rivera.Durante la última semana, el ministro García participó en las tres jornadas de capacitación a 150 oficiales de las tres fuerzasque se efectuaron en los departamentos de Tacuarembó, Maldonado y Montevideo. En total, serán más de 1.000 los efectivos que desplieguen tareas en los 35.000 kilómetros cuadrados de frontera delimitada para controlar.