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  1. Dominican judge grants bail for Canadian crew jailed after reporting cocaine on airliner The court ruling is the latest twist in an unusual tale that Pivot Airlines says turned the heroes of the day into criminal suspects Thu Apr 14, 2022 - National Post by Tom Blackwell A judge in the Dominican Republic has ordered the release of a Canadian airline crew who are said to have reported a large stash of cocaine hidden inside their plane — then were jailed in precarious conditions next to alleged drug traffickers. The judge said they could be freed at an undetermined time on payment of one-million pesos — about $23,000 — bail each, according to a local news report and a source familiar with the situation. The six passengers on the plane, a charter flight due to return to Toronto last week, were to be freed from prison under similar conditions, the judge ruled. Four are Canadian, one an Indian national and one Dominican. Pivot Airlines, which owns the Bombardier-built CRJ-100 jet, had earlier expressed grave concerns for the safety of their employees, calling it unacceptable that they would be imprisoned in the first place. According to a report in the country’s El Nacional newspaper, though, prosecutors are reviewing the decision and whether to appeal it. It is the latest twist in an unusual tale that Pivot says turned the heroes of the day into criminal suspects. The plane had until two years ago been part of a predecessor company that operated Air Canada Express flights under contract. It flew to Punta Cana on March 31, chartered by an Alberta company that was entertaining potential investors, said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive situation. According to Pivot, a maintenance technician who was travelling with the two pilots and two flight attendants discovered a black bag inside an “avionics bay,” a crawl space beneath the cockpit that contains computer hardware and wiring. The crew reported the find to both local authorities and the RCMP, the airline says. (cont'd)
  2. Hamilton man arrested following drug seizure Airline says their staff discovered and reported 210 kilograms of cocaine to authorities Aatif Safdar was detained after a drug bust on April 05. Tue Apr 12, 2020 - The Hamilton Spectator by Susan Clairmont A Hamilton man acquitted in a notorious domestic violence case which sent his brother to prison, is jailed in the Dominican Republic after 210 kilograms of cocaine was found on the airplane he crewed. Aatif Safdar was arrested in a major international drug bust April 5 when a Pivot Airlines jet was searched by drug control agents at the Punta Cana International Airport before it could depart on a private flight for Toronto. Safdar, a licensed pilot, is one of five crew members arrested. A statement sent to The Spectator by Pivot, based at Pearson Airport, says it was the crew who discovered the cache and contacted authorities. Aatif 's brother Adeel Safdar, a now disgraced scientist once held up as a superstar by McMaster University, is serving a four-year prison sentence for breaking his former wife's jaw in two places and permanently disfiguring her ear. In the longest domestic violence trial in Hamilton history, court heard how Dr. Sara Salim, a medical doctor, was wed to Adeel in an arranged marriage. She moved in with him and his extended family — including Aatif — in Hamilton and allegedly endured psychological and physical abuse and torture. The brothers and their mother were charged and their defence at trial was that Sara was mentally ill and inflicted her injuries on herself. While Adeel was found guilty of aggravated assault. Aatif was found not guilty of assault bodily harm, assault with a weapon, assault and threatening death. Their mother, Shaheen Safdar, faced the same charges at Aatif and was also found not guilty on all counts. Aatif's wife, Sehrish Hassan, provided unexpected drama in the trial when she was caught lying on the witness stand. She was a law school graduate at the time, but was fired from a local firm after her stunt. Defence lawyers Dean Paquette and Nader Hasan represented the Safdars in the domestic violence case. Paquette did not know of Aatif's new legal troubles until contacted by The Spectator. Emails, phone calls and texts to Hasan have gone unanswered. Aatif worked part-time at the Brampton Flight Centre before COVID. His profile photo on LinkedIn shows him in a cockpit, wearing an airline uniform and he identifies himself as a pilot at Pivot Airlines, which specializes in chartered flights. He also lists himself as a life coach. His profile says he lives in Hannon, Ont., which is the location of his home on the East Mountain. Aatif also said on LinkedIn that his "dynamic air operations team" provides services to the Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Health, the Coast Guard, RCMP and Department of National Defence. His last post was on the day of the drug seizure. It said "Masha'Allah, a true character of resilience!" in reference to Email Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan. The post came just days before Khan lost a no-confidence vote and was ousted from power. Shaheen Safdar and her husband were from Pakistan. She and her sons became Canadian citizens after moving here from Saudi Arabia. Reports say 11 people on the Pivot flight are detained for questioning. It appears most, if not all, are Canadian, including: Syed Aatif Safdar, Sheldon Gaspard Poirier, Younane Hadare, Briscoe Kash Everett, Aldayeh Ranya, Leblond Francheska, Mckenna Liam Patrick, DiVenanzo Robert Lee, Dubey Bal Krishna, Carello Christina, Wojcik-Harrison Brittney Lynn and Alexander Rozov. Media reports from Dominican Republic citing the National Direct-orate for Drug Control as the source, say authorities searched the plane and found eight black bags filled with hundreds of bricks of cocaine hidden in compartments within the twin-engine jet. Pivot says the crew "discovered suspected contraband in the compartment of the aircraft during the course of their normal duties." "In keeping with our policies and procedures, as well as local and international laws and regulations, the crew immediately reported the discovery to local authorities. In addition, our Canadian dispatch office immediately contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to report the incident and seek procedural advice in parallel with local authorities." The Spectator reached out to the RCMP last week. The only response from the media relations office in Ottawa is that it received The Spec's request for information. The RCMP's media desk for Ontario responded by saying: "The RCMP generally does not confirm or deny if an investigation is underway unless criminal charges are laid. We therefore cannot provide further information on this matter." Pivot says "our primary concern is our crew's safety, security, ethical and humane treatment as we seek to ensure their safe return to Canada." It says the airline, along with the three national unions representing the crew members and the Canadian embassy in Dominican Republic are co-operating with authorities that are investigating. Pivot says it has retained lawyers in the Dominican Republic and Canada to represent its crew. On Monday, Pivot told The Spectator those detained in the Caribbean country "in unsafe conditions" include all five crew members who reported the discovery of the drugs to authorities. The airline says the crew members are being held in two jails — men's and women's and "the circumstances for our crew in these facilities is dangerous and highly volatile." "Our male crew members in particular have been held in communal cells with individuals accused of involvement in drug related crimes," Pivot says. "They do not speak the language, have been identified as reporting the contraband to authorities and fear for their safety." The airline also said in an email that by immediately reporting suspected contraband, the crew "likely prevented an air disaster, fire and controllability issues that would have likely occurred if the contraband remained on board." It explained the "unaccounted weight" of 210 kilograms of drugs in that aircraft "poses an extreme risk to safety ... given the fuel load." "Additionally, the contraband was located in a maintenance compartment containing several critical electrical systems and packaged in flammable bags," the company says. Pivot says lawyers have advised the company the investigation by Dominican authorities could take more than a year. It is unclear why Pivot believes its crew will be detained for a yearlong investigation. Attempts to have that explained went unanswered. Punta Cana media reports the remainder of the detainees are passengers and that none of those detained are from the Dominican Republic. Pivot describes itself as being committed to "the highest operating and business standards" and says during the pandemic it has conducted over 200 "essential service flights providing critical public health and public safety flights to various government agencies and critical supply chain providers." The airline has previously delayed plans to offer flights out of Waterloo Region to Ottawa and Montreal. The street value of 210 kilos of cocaine in Canada will vary, depending on its purity. But a case in Windsor in February, in which a Quebec truck driver was arrested with 80 kilograms of cocaine, put its value at $8.8 million.
  3. Big oil can get a little greasy.... The Backdoor That Keeps Russian Oil Flowing Into Europe European energy companies are finding workarounds to keep Russian crude flowing while placating public opinion Sat Apr 9, 2022 - Bloomberg News When is a cargo of Russian diesel not a cargo of Russian diesel? The answer is when Shell Plc, the largest European oil company, turns it into what traders refer to as a Latvian blend. The point is to market a barrel in which only 49.99% comes from Russia; in Shell’s eyes, as long as the other 50.01 percent is sourced elsewhere, the oil cargo isn’t technically of Russian origin. The maneuver underpins a burgeoning and opaque market for blended Russian diesel and other refined petroleum products, one of the many that oil companies and commodity traders are using to keep Russian energy flowing into Europe while at the same time satisfying public opinion that demands an end to subsidizing Vladimir Putin’s war machine. As Europe has stopped short of applying any limits or penalties to the purchase of Russian oil, gas or coal, selling the novel blend is perfectly legal. If Shell and others followed European rules to the letter, they could buy cargoes of 100 percent Russian origin. But blending is a convenient tool for companies to publicly say one thing (phase out Russian molecules) and do another (buy lots of Russian molecules). In the case of Shell, the company has amended the so-called general terms and conditions of its contracts to allow for Russian blending. The new terms say (my emphasis): “It is a condition of this bid and shall be a condition of any resulting contract that the goods sold and delivered by Seller shall not be of Russian Federation ('RF') origin and shall not have been loaded in or transported from RF. Goods shall be deemed of 'RF origin' if produced in RF or if 50% or more of their content (by volume) consists of material that was produced in RF.” In the oil market, traders whisper about a “Latvian blend” – a new origin for diesel that looks like a workaround to supply Russian product mixed with something else. The typical trade goes from Primorsk, a Russian oil export town near St Petersburg, into Ventspils, a port in Latvia that has a large oil terminal and tanking capacity. That’s where the blending takes place. There are many other locations where blending is happening, including in the Netherlands, and on the high seas, in what traders call ship-to-ship transfers. For many in the market, the Latvian blend is simply shorthand for any blend that contains Russian molecules, regardless of where the mixing took place. The Latvian blend is a reminder of similar backdoors to trade in sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan crude, which for years had been offered in the Far East as “Malaysian blend” or “Singapore blend.” For Shell, the strategy is not risk free. The company was forced to issue a rare apology last month after its traders bought a single cargo of deeply discounted Russian Urals crude, triggering an outcry that included the Ukrainian foreign affairs minister accusing the company of profiting from Ukrainian blood. In a subsequent statement, Shell said it had started a “phased withdrawal from Russian petroleum products” and announced it "immediately stopped buying Russian crude on the spot market." While Shell has taken the route of accepting shipments containing up to 49.99% of Russian diesel, others haven’t. France’s TotalEnergies SE stipulates that no cargo “in all or in part” shall originate in Russia, according to the company’s updated general terms and conditions. Repsol SA of Spain has similar rules banning any Russian molecules, according to its general terms and conditions. There are other loopholes – again, all legal. For example, the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. allows traders to deliver Russian diesel against its popular European gas-oil contract. In a circular on Wednesday, the exchange reminded traders that “product of any origin shall be deliverable” in the region of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. So a trader can take a position on the contract, and be able to deliver Russian diesel, all while remaining in compliance with EU rules. The loopholes and backdoors are a reminder of why sanctions are hard to implement. And when sanctions aren’t imposed but actually self-sanctions, it opens the door for companies to do as they see fit. The result? Russia keeps selling its fossil fuels, and making money. Europe, too, benefits from higher diesel supply, and lower energy prices. The moral question awaits its reckoning.
  4. Surge in Car-Crash Deaths Could Be Magnified by New Breed of EVs With their greater size and power, several new battery-powered SUVs and trucks are heightening pedestrian and traffic safety concerns Fri Apr 08, 2022 - Bloomberg News By Kyle Stock All things being equal, choosing an electric vehicle over one with an internal combustion engine is likely to be a better move for the planet, thanks to motors that don’t spew greenhouse gases while underway. But all things aren’t always equal: Battery-powered cars and trucks tend to be far heavier than their gas-burning counterparts. That extra bulk translates into a mixed bag of benefits and concerns, especially when it comes to safety. The occupants of heavy vehicles tend to fare better in an accident, explained Michael Anderson, the University of California professor who co-wrote the study “Pounds That Kill: The External Costs of Vehicle Weight.” “Really what it’s doing is essentially pushing the other vehicle that you crash into out of the way and subjecting you to gentler deceleration forces,” he said. At the time of his study, 2011, Anderson was concerned about what a tide of SUVs and super-sized trucks would mean for road fatalities. And he was prescient; in the years since, U.S. road deaths have surged in step with the average weight of the American vehicle. Anderson was less concerned with electric vehicles, because he figured the batteries would show up first in hatchbacks and sedans like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, another thesis that panned out. In the next few months, however, the safety landscape will change drastically, as several huge and heavy electric vehicles hit the streets. By the end of the year, about 18 new battery-powered SUVs and pickup trucks will be available for U.S. buyers to choose from. “What matters is less the average weight than the heterogeneity,” Anderson says. “There could be a window where it’s pretty unsafe to be driving (small, gas-powered vehicles) and getting into multi-vehicle accidents.” Consider the GMC Hummer EV, which tips the scales at almost 9,100 pounds, roughly the equivalent of two Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks. It’s hard to imagine any collision it might be involved in as minor. Ironically, as more drivers choose massive trucks over family cars, some consumers who prefer smaller cars are turning to trucks as a form of defense. Despite the extra pounds, most of the current crop of electric vehicles decelerate at distances in line with — and sometimes better than — similarly sized gas vehicles, according to data compiled by Consumer Reports. There are a few reasons for this. Carmakers are fitting many of these vehicles with larger brakes, for one. Secondly, electric vehicles have regenerative braking systems in which the electric motors slow the machine slightly while generating power. Brembo, which supplies many of the brakes to carmakers, says the regenerative systems often entirely compensate for the additional weight, which is typically at least 10% more than that of a similar combustion vehicle. Finally, electric cars tend to have better weight distribution and lower centers of gravity than gas-powered cars, thanks to the ponderous battery sealed under the floor of the machine, so braking power is spread more evenly among the four wheels and the tires have more friction with the road. “It all counteracts the additional momentum,” says Jake Fisher, an engineer who leads auto testing at Consumer Reports. “In a physics equation, it cancels out." On Polestar vehicles, regenerative braking via the motor handles much of the deceleration, including in relatively sudden stopping situations, Christian Samson, head of product attributes, said in an e-mail. Even so, its engineers did not factor that into their equations when deciding how big the brake pads should be. “Friction brakes are dimensioned and capable of handling all of the vehicle’s braking despite having the regen system, which, in reality, handles the bulk of the deceleration,” Samson explained. Audi engineers say the regenerative systems on its current electric vehicles handle up to 95% of slowing and stopping, including about 30% of the deceleration in an emergency situation. The Audi e-tron, for example, stops more quickly than the company’s Q7 SUV, according to Consumer Reports, despite being 14% heavier. In fact, the e-tron brakes are used so little that Audi had to design a special protocol to keep the pads from getting corroded. Of course, stopping distance is only pertinent when brakes are engaged. If the pilot of a mammoth EV accidentally steps on the accelerator, isn’t paying attention or can’t see the vehicle’s path very well, its full mass will come to bear, situations that may be exacerbated by the violently quick acceleration most electric motors are capable of. There are about four pedestrians killed by pickup trucks making a left turn for every fatality caused by a conventional car in the same situation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety blames poor visibility and links the decade-long surge in pedestrian fatalities to steadily bulked-up vehicles. The problem has caught the attention of federal regulators. In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed updating its five-star safety ratings program for new cars. If the change is made, automakers, for the first time, would have to build with pedestrians in mind to get high marks. What’s more, researchers have found a direct correlation between pedestrian fatalities and the weight of the offending vehicle. Equally troubling, the blind spot in front of hulking pickup truck hoods can be up to 11 feet longer than that of sedans, according to a recent Consumer Reports study. The insurance industry, however, is sanguine about the mass market transition to EVs. Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications for the Insurance Information Institute, said EV pilots tend to have cleaner driving records than their petrol-powered peers; specifically they speed less and log fewer miles. A 2020 study from the Highway Loss Data Institute found that electric vehicles were tied to roughly 20% fewer claims than similar vehicles running on gas, although the severity of their claims were slightly higher. As for the Hummer, its stopping hardware was considered just as carefully as its 0-60 acceleration. General Motors Co. spokesman Chris Bonelli said the truck has an “upsized, robust” brake system, a full suite of active safety features like reverse automatic emergency braking and torque vectoring, a technology developed in sports cars that, at least in some cases. could help the 1,000-horsepower truck steer around potential collisions.
  5. Air Canada suspends flights between Vancouver and Delhi Airline says flight path avoiding Russian, Ukraine airspace 'unviable' during windy summer months Wed Apr 06, 2022 - CBC News Air Canada is suspending flights between Vancouver and Delhi, India, due to the extended flight times and stops to refuel as planes manoeuvre around Russian and Ukraine airspace. Flights will pause on June 2. Flights leaving from Vancouver will return on Sept. 6, and those leaving from Delhi will begin again on Sept. 8. Anyone already scheduled to fly during those months will be automatically rescheduled on another flight. The airline says weather conditions, in particular strong winds, are expected to make the route "unviable" during the summer months. Jatinder Dadrao, who owns a travel agency in Surrey, B.C., says this route is typically very busy. "It's almost always a sold out flight because the traffic from Delhi to Vancouver is crazy," he said. He said the flight is the shortest available at about 14 hours, direct, when they can fly through Russian airspace. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, it ran about five times per week. Air Canada will continue to operate up to 11 weekly flights between Canada and India from Toronto and Montreal, both of which take different flight paths. But Dadrao says those flights are much longer, up to 24 hours total, and can be uncomfortable for passengers. "This is the shortest flight ... and they lose it for summer break," he said. Air Canada says it will continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine and could reinstate the Vancouver to Delhi route earlier if conditions permit.
  6. He's baaack... maverickII.mp4
  7. World’s Longest Passenger Flight Plans to Avoid Russian Skies Flight would surpass Singapore Air’s to JFK on distance taken Tue Mar 29, 2022 - Bloomberg News By Danny Lee Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. plans to reroute its New York-Hong Kong service to avoid Russian airspace, in what would be the world’s longest commercial passenger flight by distance. The airline plans to fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport over the Atlantic Ocean, the U.K., southern Europe and central Asia, according to a memo to Cathay flight staff seen by Bloomberg News. The distance of 16,618 kilometers (10,326 miles) would surpass Singapore Airlines Ltd.’s New York service, which takes about 17-and-a-half hours to cover 15,349 kilometers, FlightRadar24 data show. The Cathay new flight will take about 17 hours. A spokeswoman for Cathay said Airbus SE’s A350-1000 is capable of operating the route, which would typically fly over the Arctic and through Russian airspace. Many Asian airlines are avoiding Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine. “We are always running contingency routings for potential events or scenarios,” the spokeswoman said. “The Transatlantic option relies on the facilitation of strong seasonal tailwinds at this time of the year in order for the flight time to be between 16 and 17 hours, thereby making it more favorable than the Transpacific route.” The airline said it is monitoring tailwinds every day, and that their benefits are diminishing. Jet streams tend to be stronger in the winter months. Cathay is seeking overflight permits to operate the service, which it said was normal for a new route. Before the pandemic, which has severely reduced its schedule, the carrier operated up to three round-trips between Hong Kong and JFK daily. Cathay’s most recent New York-Hong Kong flight stopped in Los Angeles before continuing over the Pacific and into the Asian financial hub without entering Russian airspace. The new, extended route would remove the need for a stopover, making it more cost-effective and competitive. Several airlines have plotted routes to avoid Russia, mostly between Asia and Europe. Japan Airlines Co Ltd rerouted its service from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to London’s Heathrow via Alaska and Canada rather than flying over Siberia. That added four-and-a-half hours to the 11-hour 55-minute journey. Such flight changes are likely to only be temporary given the costs carriers face from high oil prices, as well as uncertainty over the accessibility of Russian airspace. Qantas Airways Ltd.’s 20-hour trips connecting Sydney with London and New York using an ultra-long range Airbus widebody jet are still being planned after the pandemic delayed their launch. The airline did a test of the so-called Project Sunrise service in 2019, flying New York to Sydney with 40 passengers. Air New Zealand Ltd. last week unveiled a new ultra-long service from Auckland to New York JFK, while Qantas announced a Melbourne-Dallas route on Monday, both of which are due to start later this year. Qatar Airways QCSC and Emirates Airline flights to Auckland were among the world’s longest until they were suspended due to Covid-19.
  8. This should be rich... After years of missed targets, Liberals table their climate plan this week The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent within ten years The government hopes this week's plan changes that trajectory of failure
  9. China Says It Has Found Second Black Box From Crashed Jet Sat Mar 26, 2022 - Bloomberg News China has retrieved the second black box from a jet that crashed March 21 after days of searching, as investigators try to work out what happened to the China Eastern Airlines flight carrying 132 people that plummeted from a cruise altitude. The flight data recorder was found 1.5 meters (5 feet) beneath the soil at 9:20 a.m. on Sunday, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Investigators made the discovery on the east hill side of the crash site in rural southern China near the city of Wuzhou, it added. The official Xinhua News Agency also confirmed the box had been found. Investigators found the Boeing Co. 737-800 NG’s cockpit voice recorder on Wednesday and hope to use data from the two boxes to understand what went wrong on the flight. There are concerns about the state of the devices, given the plane appears to have plunged into the ground at high speed. Officials haven’t ruled out the possibility that the first box, which has been sent to Beijing for decoding, was badly damaged upon impact. Flight MU5735 from Kunming was cruising at about 29,000 feet (8,839 meters) and some 100 miles from its destination in Guangzhou, southern China, when it suddenly went into a steep descent. Over the next 1 minute and 35 seconds the plane lost altitude in a near vertical dive, which took it almost to the speed of sound. The plane briefly halted its descent for some 10 seconds, and even climbed a little, before plummeting again and slamming into a hillside. All 132 people on board, including nine crew members, were killed. China said Saturday it hadn’t found any evidence of explosive materials in the wreckage of the plane. Some 24,000 pieces of wreckage have been retrieved, officials said, and remains of 120 people had been identified.
  10. Unifor whistleblower reported Jerry Dias after being offered $25K Dias, who was under “significant stress” after being forced to choose between two “close friends” to endorse as his successor, gave $25,000 to national assistant Chris MacDonald, who reported the breach, union says Thu Mar 24, 2022 - Toronto Star by Sara Mojtehedzadeh - Work and Wealth Reporter
  11. Penny's dropped in number of jurisdictions including Sask ($150/yr). Detailed US breakdown
  12. Ivermectin Didn’t Reduce Covid-19 Hospitalizations in Largest Trial to Date Patients who got the antiparasitic drug didn’t fare better than those who received a placebo Mon Mar 21, 2022 - WSJ 'Patients who got the antiparasitic drug didn’t fare better than those who received a placebo'
  13. Passenger plane crashes in southern China China Eastern Airlines flight with 132 people on board crashes in mountain range in Guangxi Mon Mar 21, 2022 - Financial Times A passenger flight with 132 people on board has crashed in southern China, in what threatens to be the country’s worst air disasters in recent years. China Eastern Airlines’ flight MU5735 crashed in a mountain range in Guangxi an hour after take-off, according to multiple state media reports. The flight was travelling from Kunming to Guangzhou. No information on casualties or the cause of the crash was immediately available. Data from Flightradar24 showed the six-year-old plane travelling at 29,100 feet before it began to rapidly lose speed and altitude. The flight was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The aviation regulator said it had activated its emergency response measures and was sending a team to the crash site. The fire department in Wuzhou, where the plane went down, said the plane crashed in a remote mountainous area and 450 firefighters were heading to the scene of the accident, according to state media. Videos on social media showed smoke billowing from a mountain in the area. The images could not be verified by the Financial Times. Flight tracking websites show the route was being flown by a Boeing 737-800. Boeing and China Eastern did not immediately respond to questions. The crash could be one of China’s worst aviation disasters in two decades after a succession of accidents in the 1990s, which officials blamed on the rapid growth of the aviation industry without strict regulatory oversight. Over the past two decades, China has suffered fewer accidents after the country upgraded its fleet and introduced tighter government controls and regulatory scrutiny. The Boeing 737-800 plane that crashed in China differs from the larger Max series which crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia within six months, killing a combined 346 people.
  14. Retired union leader Jerry Dias under investigation by Unifor
  15. Linked article covers some to the technical and operational aspects of the Javelin that's made it so effective in the current conflict. Javelin missiles in Ukraine: What to know about the role Javelin antitank missiles could play in Ukraine’s fight against Russia - The Washington Post
  16. Repo man’s biggest fear: ‘These aeroplanes are gone forever’ after Russia shields them from seizure Lessors have retrieved only a couple dozen of 500 aircraft Wed Mar 9, 2022 - Bloomberg News ByJulie Johnsson and Danny Lee Aircraft owners are coming to grips with the loss of hundreds of Airbus SE and Boeing Co. jets that Russian carriers have effectively shielded from seizure behind a new incarnation of the Iron Curtain. With the window just about closed, foreign leasing firms have succeeded in repossessing only about two dozen of the more than 500 aircraft rented to Russian carriers, according to Dean Gerber, general counsel for Valkyrie BTO Aviation. The planes in limbo have a market value of about $10.3 billion, aviation analytics firm Ishka estimates. Technically, lessors have until March 28 to retrieve the planes under European Union sanctions. But state-owned Aeroflot PJSC and other Russian airlines have already gathered the vast bulk of them back inside the country, out of reach of their owners. The government aided the effort by instructing carriers to stop flying internationally and return the jets to Russia by Tuesday. “The number one fear right now is that these aeroplanes are gone forever,” said Steve Giordano, managing director of Dover, Delaware-based Nomadic Aviation Group, one of a handful of firms specializing in aircraft repossessions. Desperate Hunt The shock from the rapid turn of events rippled through the roughly 2,000 attendees gathered at the annual ISTAT Americas convention in San Diego, where Valkyrie BTO’s Gerber spoke on Monday. There, elation over the fading omicron wave of coronavirus -- the bane of aviation for the past two years -- gave way to talk of spiking oil prices and doomsday scenarios for the stranded jets. “The more we talk with insurers and other people at this conference, the clearer it’s becoming that these aircraft aren’t coming back,” said George Dimitroff, head of valuations for consultant Ascend by Cirium. The Russian government’s response to the economic restrictions has stunned the leasing industry by flouting decades-old international treaties that had helped spur a boom in global travel. Conventions guaranteeing lessors the right to cross borders to claim aircraft from defaulting customers helped attract a gush of money as other investors came to view aircraft as a safe investment. In telexes over the weekend, Russian authorities urged the nation’s airlines to restrict flying to domestic routes and friendly Belarus to prevent their jets being grabbed by repossession crews lying in wait, Emily Wicker, a partner with law firm Clifford Chance, told the lessor conference. The Russian government also advised operators to re-register foreign-owned aircraft in Russia from their traditional base of Bermuda, another move that could thwart efforts to revoke an aircraft’s certification -- or track its maintenance and upkeep. Next Steps Lessors are now weighing their next steps. While it’s possible the war ends quickly, or that Russian airlines cooperate with repossession efforts, they’ve hired lawyers to parse insurance and re-insurance policies as they gird for long, costly fights and try to recover their losses. They’re also poring over complex financings to avoid running afoul of trade restrictions. Those able to react quickly have been able to salvage a handful of planes whose insurance and airworthiness certifications are being revoked one by one. Aircastle Ltd., a Stamford, Connecticut-based lessor, used the confusion over the insurance status of one of its jets to take possession as it made a stopover in Mexico City. “These are really small victories,” Christopher Beers, Aircastle’s chief legal officer, said in San Diego. “The doors are closing.” Slipping Away In another case reported by The Air Current, an Airbus A321neo on its way to Cairo had its airworthiness certificate revoked by authorities in Bermuda mid-flight after it lost its insurance. Its owner, lessor SMBC Aviation Capital, attempted to repossess the plane after it landed but it was able to return to Moscow, the outlet said. Dublin-based AerCap Holdings NV has the most planes leased to Russia at 152, with a market value approaching $2.5 billion, according to aviation consultancy IBA. Carlyle Aviation is among others with exposure, IBA said. Aercap shares have lost about a quarter of their value since the EU banned companies from supplying Russia with aircraft, parts or services in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Kroll Bond Ratings said it may downgrade nine aviation asset-backed securitizations exposed to planes in Russia and Ukraine. The crisis has shone a spotlight on the small staff running Bermuda’s Civil Aviation Authority. The tiny island has oversight of almost 800 aircraft -- some 777 of those Russian, according to the agency’s 2020 annual report. Russia’s recent actions raise questions about another aviation staple: records documenting every detail of a jet’s upkeep, from maintenance visits to the remaining life for key parts. Without such paperwork, a jet’s value rapidly diminishes, said Chris Sponenberg, a vice president at Wilmington Trust. “You can’t prove anything was done to it, can’t prove it’s safe,” he said. “Civil aircraft authorities may not register it as airworthy.” That’s just one of the side-effects of the sanctions, whose full impact could take years to play out.
  17. Freedom Convoy protest organizer Tamara Lich granted bail after review Lich will be released on a total of $25,000 in bond with conditions not to protest COVID mandates Mon Mar 07, 2022 - National Post Tamara Lich, one of the principal organizers of the Freedom Convoy protest, has been granted bail after being held for two-and-a-half weeks on mischief charges. Superior Court Justice John Johnston said an earlier judge made “errors in law” in her Feb. 22 decision to deny Lich bail — he said that the charges she faces are at a “lower scale” than other offences where bail was granted. “I find that Ms. Lich does require a level of supervision if released,” Johnston said, but that can be “managed” by the surety supervising her bail. John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which has provided representation to some convoy participants, said Lich’s custody was “highly unusual,” and noted she has no criminal record and is not charged with a violent crime. “People accused of drug trafficking, illegal firearms possession and violent offences are routinely granted freedom prior to trial,” said Carpay. A Justice Centre news release describes Lich as a “political prisoner.” Lich will be released on a total of $25,000 in bond with conditions not to protest COVID mandates or use any form of social media, and she must return to her home in Medicine Hat, Alta. Lich was arrested Feb. 17 and charged with counselling mischief, the day before police moved in to disperse crowds that had gridlocked downtown Ottawa for three weeks using powers invoked under the federal Emergencies Act. Ontario Court Justice Julie Bourgeois had ordered Lich detained, prompting her lawyer, Diane Magas, to make allegations of bias. Bourgeois ran as a Liberal candidate in 2011, before she was appointed as a judge, and Lich’s lawyer produced a video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lavishing praise upon Bourgeois as a federal candidate. That video clip referenced in court predated Trudeau’s time as party leader and as prime minister. That “reasonable apprehension of bias” was rejected by the reviewing judge on Monday, as Johnston found there was no evidence of bias in Bourgeois’s original ruling. In his decision, Johnston released Lich on bail with a list of strict conditions, including an order that she leave Ottawa within 24 hours, and Ontario within 72 hours. She must must reside at her home address, and cannot log in or post messages on a variety of social media platforms. She was also ordered not to allow anyone to post messages to social media on her behalf. Lich’s husband was rejected at her initial bail review hearing as her surety — a person who comes to court and promises to supervise an accused person while they are out on bail. The defence proposed a new surety during the bail-review, but their identity is shielded by a publication ban. The Crown prosecutor says Lich will have to give the surety access to her electronic devices, and she will not be allowed to enter Ontario except for court hearing or to meet with counsel.
  18. Canadian Trucker Protests Reveal Fault Lines by Age, Work Status Young people, those who can’t work remote have most sympathy 75% of poll respondents express no support for protesters Mon Mar 7, 2022 - Bloomberg News ByTheophilos Argitis Canadians have little sympathy for the erstwhile protesters who occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks and closed border crossings. But younger Canadians and those who can’t work from home register more support for the demonstrators, calling attention to a new potential political challenge for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. The blockades were unpopular across all groups, according to a Nanos Research Group survey for Bloomberg News fielded in the days after authorities retook control of downtown Ottawa. Only 22% of Canadians said they were at least somewhat sympathetic with the anti-government movement, compared with three-quarters who said they weren’t sympathetic. But groups known to have experienced more isolation or work inflexibility during the pandemic were more likely to respond positively about the demonstrators, who drove columns of big-rig trucks into the capital city to protest against Covid-19 restrictions. Offshoot demonstrations spread to key border crossings, prompting Trudeau to invoke emergency police powers. Roughly 33% of people who couldn’t work remotely or digitally showed at least some sympathy for the protesters. By contrast, only about 18% of Canadians who didn’t need to leave home for work felt similarly. Among those who could work remotely part time, 27% expressed some support. The convoy was initially prompted by border rules that Trudeau put in place in mid-January, requiring truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border to be vaccinated. But it quickly galvanized into a broader political protest against government authority. “There is definitely a class divide element to this,” said Lori Turnbull, director of the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Some writers and political scientists have wondered aloud whether the protests might reflect worsening class divisions between those who work in the physical world and those who work in the digital world. This new prospective pool of anti-government voters might explain why some of the more populist-leaning members of the Conservative Party expressed public support for the truckers, at least initially. The polling suggests that negative sentiment toward government goes beyond the working-class men whom Trudeau has long struggled to win over. Indeed, younger Canadians -- a group more likely to have lost work during the pandemic and less likely to have gotten seriously ill -- also supported the truckers at higher levels than Canadians overall. About 28% of respondents between 18 to 34 years old expressed at least some sympathy for them, versus 16% for those 55 years and older. Younger Canadians were also more likely not to have a work from home option, with one-third of them unable to work remotely. That trend tracks with other polling that shows rising support for Conservatives among younger voters. The share of voters between 18 and 29 who support the Conservatives jumped to 34% at the end of February, from about 20% at the end of January, according to separate weekly polling by Nanos. Some traditional political fault lines were also evident in the Nanos survey for Bloomberg News, with higher sympathy levels for the truckers in western Canada, where support for Trudeau’s government tends to be low. Hundreds of semis and other heavy vehicles blockaded the downtown of Canada’s capital city for three weeks last month in demonstrators that also inspired offshoots along key U.S. border crossings, including the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. Trudeau lifted the emergency edict on Feb. 23, once all blockades were cleared. The hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,032 Canadians was conducted between Feb. 23 and Feb. 24. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
  19. Russian charter jet racks up $20K in fines after entering Canadian airspace this week Fri Mar 04, 2022 - National Post by Bryan Passifiume The private jet detained at Yellowknife’s airport earlier this week racked up over $20,000 in fines for violating Canada’s ban on Russian-linked aircraft operating within the country’s airspace. On Friday, Transport Canada confirmed to the National Post the aircraft, a Dassault Falcon 900 registered in the Cayman Islands, did indeed violate the Feb. 27 NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) prohibiting aircraft owned, chartered, operated, or otherwise controlled by citizens, airlines or operators connected with Russia — a move meant to punish the nation’s illegal and devastating invasion of Ukraine. A passenger, identified by Transport Canada as a “Russian national” who chartered the aircraft, was fined $3,000 — the same penalty imposed on the aircraft’s two pilots. The owner of the aircraft, Dunard Engineering Ltd., was fined $15,000. The aircraft has been released and is free to depart Yellowknife, provided it carry no passengers. The aircraft departed Yellowknife for Geneva shortly before 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. On Wednesday, Northwest Territories' infrastructure minister Diane Archie told the legislature that a plane grounded in Yellowknife appeared to be on its way to Resolute, Nunavut, with people who were planning to take an overland expedition in a large all-terrain utility vehicle. The aircraft landed just after noon local time Tuesday on runway 34 at Yellowknife airport, nine hours after departing Geneva International Airport. By Wednesday, government officials confirmed the plane was grounded as officials investigated reports the plane carried a pair of Russian nationals. Diane Archie, the territory’s minister of infrastructure, told the Northwest Territories legislature on Wednesday the aircraft was en route to the high arctic. “It appears that the plane and its passengers were on their way to Resolute, Nunavut with the intention of taking a planned Arctic overland expedition in a large all-terrain utility vehicle,” Archie said. A statement from the Canadian Border Services Agency would only confirm officers attended the arrival of a private aircraft in Yellowknife on Tuesday and processed its occupants for entry into Canada — declining further comment under the Privacy Act. The Yellowknife plane, at least on the surface, carries no overt links to Russia. Public records suggest the aircraft, registered as VP-CVS, is operated by International Jet Management (IJM) GmbH, a private aircraft charter and servicing firm based in the Austrian capital of Vienna. IJM spokesperson Hayder Philipp told the National Post their association with VP-CVS ended over a year ago, and said he isn’t aware who the current operator is. Active aircraft registers maintained by the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority lists VP-CVS’s owner as “Dunard Engineering Ltd.,” which according to data contained in the 2016 Panama Papers leak is a corporation registered in the British Virgin Islands. Earlier reports suggest the aircraft was diverted or otherwise ordered to land in Yellowknife, but air traffic control recordings suggest the territory’s largest airport was its intended destination. Questions about who was aboard the aircraft remain less clear. Reports based on Minister Archie’s statement in the territorial legislature linked the aircraft’s occupants to the TransGlobal Car Expedition — aiming to complete a vertical pole-to-pole circumnavigation of the earth. t The expedition’s website lists the journey’s first leg to kick off this September from the southern tip of Argentina, travelling north to Yellowknife. The expedition’s second leg, described as a four-month trip from Yellowknife to Greenland’s capital city Nuuk via the North Pole, is scheduled to begin in Feb. 2023. Among the expedition’s organizers are Edmonton-born rally car racer, stuntman and TV host Andrew Comrie-Picard, Russian adventurer and mountaineer Vasily Yelagin, and — most notably — Russian billionaire Vasily Shakhnovsky, a former top executive of now-defunct Yukos Oil Company. Shakhnovsky was among a number of top Yukos executives arrested in 2003 in connection with a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the once-time oil-and-gas giant. Observers at the time blamed the arrests on a vendetta against the company’s former CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky by Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegedly in retaliation for his public endorsement of opposition parties. Shakhnovsky was convicted of tax evasion and reportedly dodged jail time after paying nearly $2-million in fines and unpaid taxes. While the National Post has not confirmed Shakhnovsky was aboard the aircraft detained in Yellowknife, photos of the plane appear on the Transglobal Expedition website — including one of Shakhnovsky posing in front of the aircraft parked on an icy Antarctica airstrip.
  20. JetBlue Pilot, Suspected of Being Drunk, Is Removed From Cockpit in Buffalo A T.S.A. officer noticed that the pilot “may have been impaired,” the authorities said. His blood alcohol content was found to be four times the limit for pilots. Wed Mar 2, 2022. - The New York Times By Alyssa Lukpat Airport police officers removed a pilot from the cockpit of a JetBlue flight departing Buffalo on Wednesday morning and conducted a sobriety test that indicated blood alcohol content more than four times the federal limit for pilots, the authorities said. The pilot, James Clifton, 52, was taken into custody by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police, who notified the federal authorities and released him to JetBlue security personnel, according to the transportation authority, which operates the Buffalo airport. A spokeswoman for the transportation authority said that the pilot had not been arrested by the airport police but added that he could face federal charges and that the investigation was continuing. When Mr. Clifton went through security screening for a 6:15 a.m. flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a Transportation Security Administration officer noticed that he “may have been impaired,” airport officials said in a statement on Wednesday. The pilot made it into the cockpit, the statement said. He was given a portable breathalyzer test and registered blood alcohol content of 0.17, the statement said. The Federal Aviation Administration bars pilots from flying planes if they have blood alcohol content of 0.04 or higher or if they have consumed alcohol in the last eight hours. In New York State, the threshold for a charge of driving while intoxicated is a blood alcohol content of 0.08. Derek Dombrowski, a JetBlue spokesman, said in a statement that “the crew member involved has been removed from his duties.” He added that the airline has “a very strict zero tolerance internal alcohol policy” and that it was conducting its own internal investigation. Mr. Clifton, who the airport authority said is from Orlando, Fla., could not be reached on Wednesday night at several numbers listed under his name. The flight he was scheduled to pilot, JetBlue 2465, took off more than four hours late, according to FlightAware, which provides aviation data. The aircraft was listed as an Airbus A320, which usually seats 140 to 170 passengers, according to Airbus. In a statement, an F.A.A. spokeswoman said the agency was “investigating allegations that an airline pilot attempted to report for duty while under the influence of alcohol.” The spokeswoman added, “The agency takes these matters seriously.” It is unusual to see a flight delayed because of a pilot’s conduct. Of the thousands of flight delays and cancellations in the past few months, most have been caused by unruly passengers, Covid-19 outbreaks or severe weather.
  21. Federal regulator launches formal probe into Flair Airlines’ compliance with Canadian ownership laws Tue Mar 01, 2022 - The Globe and Mail Eric Atkins - Transportation Reporter Canada’s transportation regulator has launched a formal investigation into Flair Airlines’ compliance with laws that limit the control a foreign investor can have in a domestic carrier. The Canadian Transportation Agency took the step after a review of Edmonton-based Flair’s ownership, which includes Miami-based 777 Partners. The U.S. investment firm owns 25 per cent of Flair, occupies three of its five board seats, and leases several planes to the airline. The CTA said its probe came about as part of its monitoring of the industry. The federal regulator, which has the power to issue fines and suspend an airline’s operating licence, recently formed a panel to review the issue after a preliminary investigation. “The CTA, as part of its ongoing regulatory activities, monitors airlines’ compliance with the Canadian ownership and control requirement,” the agency said in an e-mail. “Staff initiated a review of Flair’s ownership interest to assess its compliance with this requirement.” Foreign investment in a Canadian airline cannot exceed 49 per cent, or 25 per cent by an individual. Additionally, foreigners cannot control the airline, something the CTA calls “control in fact.” The CTA defines control in fact as “the power, whether exercised or not, to control the strategic decision-making activities of an enterprise and to manage and run its day-to-day operations. Those who may have the power to influence a company’s decisions can include minority owners, designated representatives, financial institutions, employees and others.” “The mind of the organization has to be in Canada and controlled by Canadians,” said John Gradek, a former Air Canada executive who teaches aviation leadership at McGill University. The formation of the CTA panel signals staff investigators found there is enough evidence to proceed with the new level of investigation, he said. “They have finished their investigations and there are enough grounds for the CTA to convene a panel, to bring in witnesses and have depositions. It’s a fairly formal process.” “Flair is completely compliant with all applicable airline regulations, including those dealing with Canadian control,” Stephen Jones, the airline’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Flair is a private company, and while we have always and will continue to co-ordinate with all regulators as necessary, our shareholdings and financial affairs are confidential In November, Flair said it was 58-per-cent owned by Canadians. Three of Flair’s five directors are Americans who either own or are employed by 777 Partners, according to incorporation filings in British Columbia. A spokesman for 777 Partners did not answer e-mailed questions. The CTA describes itself as a “quasi-judicial body” but operates largely in secret, without public hearings. “In situations when the CTA identifies concerns about the Canadian status of the air carrier, the CTA typically issues a preliminary determination in which it provides the carrier a time period for it to respond to those concerns,” the CTA said in an e-mail. The CTA’s decisions may be appealed to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada. An allegation that the airline is controlled by Americans was also made last fall in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by the airline’s former finance director, Jocelyn Harris. That claim has not been tested in court. Flair is embroiled in a legal battle with its largest Canadian investor, Prescott Strategic Investments, partly owned by Flair’s former CEO, Jim Scott. Flair sought and was granted a publication ban and sealing order on that lawsuit. Steve Warnett, a lawyer for Prescott, declined to comment, citing the court order. Flair, which describes itself as “Canada’s everyday low fare airline,” flies 12 planes to destinations in Canada and abroad. The airline announced plans in early 2021 to boost its fleet to 50 aircraft by 2025, leasing the first 13 of the Boeing 737 Max jets from 777 Partners, its biggest U.S investor. In December, Flair said it would add another 14 737 Max planes, leasing them from “a mix of lessors,” including 777 Partners.
  22. Five signs that 'puffy-faced' Vladimir Putin could be seriously ill In the wake of his decision to invade Ukraine speculation is mounting about Putin's health Tue Mar 01, 2022 - The Telegraph by Nick Allen It is all circumstantial but there is growing evidence that Vladimir Putin could be suffering from a serious illness. At least five factors point to suspicions that his horrendous decision to invade Ukraine could be underpinned not by his mental state, the effects of COVID isolation, or hubris, but by a physical condition that spurred him to gamble on a quick win. 1. Putin’s appearance The Russian president has appeared notably more bloated around the face and neck recently. That has led to suggestions he may be undergoing treatment with steroids. Side effects of steroids include increased risk of infection, like coughs and colds, and “mood and behavioural changes.” “Sometimes, when taken in higher doses, steroids can cause confusion or changes in thinking,” according to Macmillan Cancer Support. “This can include having strange or frightening thoughts.” In November 2020 Putin suffered an extended coughing fit during a televised meeting with his finance minister. The footage was later edited and the Kremlin said he was “absolutely fine.” According to Fiona Hill, the British former senior White House expert on Russia, Putin is “not looking so great” at the moment. Hill, who has met Putin more than once, said: “He’s been rather puffy-faced. We know that he has complained about having back issues. Even if it’s not something worse than that, it could be that he’s taking high doses of steroids, or there may be something else. “There seems to be an urgency for this (invasion) that may be also driven by personal factors.” 2. The Long Tables People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of contracting severe cases of coronavirus, and other infections. That would include those taking immune-suppressing drugs. There has been much speculation about why Putin has engaged in such extreme social distancing. Emmanuel Macron was forced to sit at the other end of a 13ft table. During a televised meeting Putin’s own foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was also seated at the other end of an absurdly long table. And at a meeting where he humiliated his spy chief Putin’s top security officials all had to sit at the other side of a giant marble chamber. COVID cases have soared in Russia recently, but the extraordinary efforts to keep Putin in a “bubble” go back many months. Many of those entering his presence have been forced to quarantine in hotels for two weeks beforehand, including business leaders, politicians and staff. There have also been reports of a tunnel leading to his office in which visitors are sprayed with disinfectant. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, who is a decade older, has been huddling around a relatively small table in the Situation Room elbow-to-elbow with his advisers. Putin, 69, says he has taken the Sputnik vaccine, but it was not filmed. His extreme measures to avoid the virus would make sense if he had an underlying condition. But bizarrely, he did shake hands with – and sit right next to – an unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a few weeks ago. 3. The Intelligence Marco Rubio, the Republican senator, set a hare running at the weekend when he suggested “something is off” with Putin. Rubio is no random internet conspiracy theorist, he is the senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. As such, he sees classified intelligence, which he can’t talk about. However, he is at liberty to drop hints. And he has. Rubio said: “I wish I could share more, but for now, I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with Putin. “He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different and significant.” Rubio later expanded that Putin “appears to have some neuro/physiological health issues.” He did not give details on what was informing his opinion. There are growing suggestions that if the U.S. does have intelligence that Putin is sick, they should release it. A former White House national security official told the Telegraph the U.S. should “make it personal” and release anything it had on Putin. The French may also have suspicions. The assessment of a French official, following Macron’s marathon meeting with Putin before the invasion, hinted at something. The official was quoted as saying that Putin was “not the same” as when Macron met him two years earlier. He was more rigid and ideological and had, in some respects, “gone haywire”. There has also still been no firm answer as to why Putin disappeared from public view for 10 days in 2015. Speculation about a health scare was dismissed at the time. 4. Russian academic claims Putin has Parkinson’s disease and cancer In November 2020 Professor Valery Solovei, a former historian at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, was quoted as suggesting Putin may have Parkinson’s disease and cancer. He also suggested that Putin may be poised to quit in 2021 due to fears for his health. At the time Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “absolute nonsense” and “everything is fine with the president.” Asked if Putin was planning to step down in the near future, Peskov said: “No.” Prof Solovei resigned from the institute, where he was head of the public relations department, in 2019, saying “political pressure” was responsible for his departure. He was later detained at an opposition protest in Moscow. 5. Putin’s accelerated timeline In his mission to restore what he considers lost Russian land, Putin had previously taken a long view. In 2008 he invaded Georgia in support of the self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Six years later, he annexed Crimea. Under changes to the Russian constitution made in early 2021, he could remain president until 2036. That would give him plenty of time for incremental land grabs, what the West might see as “minor incursions” punishable only with a slap on the wrist. For those reasons many Putin watchers expected him to adopt “salami tactics,” taking Ukraine “slice by slice” over a period of time. They have been left puzzled as to why he would take such a gamble on capturing the whole of Ukraine, a country of 44 million people, in one go with a force military experts say was not enough. It only increases the suspicion that, perhaps, his health meant he was running out of time.
  23. A song in her heart; a tune in her head.... lttm.mp4
  24. Canada finalizing plans for its version of U.S. Space Force Thu Feb 24, 2022 - The Logic The Canadian Forces are finalizing plans for a Canadian version of the U.S. Space Force, converting a directorate-general in the Royal Canadian Air Force into a full military unit. “Recognition of the increasingly critical importance of space in all of the military’s operations is driving the slow but steady growth and evolution of the organization,” Maj. Jill Lawrence told The Logic. Converting an administrative and support unit into an operational one “will be an important step forward in protecting Canadian interests in space.” Planning for the change is well along and approvals are underway, she wrote in an email. “The size of the division would initially remain unchanged from our current structure for DG Space, which is approximately 150 civilian and military positions,” she wrote. “However, the vision is to eventually grow the organization to approximately 250 personnel over the next five to six years.” The U.S. Space Force was a pet cause of former president Donald Trump, and at first even the Pentagon opposed it. Some of the people behind the American version of “The Office” made it the premise of a workplace comedy. But the force became a distinct branch of the U.S. military, akin to the Marine Corps, in 2019, and President Joe Biden has kept it. This week, six of the U.S.’s close allies, including Canada, released a pact promising to follow the American lead. Among several shared “lines of effort” meant to keep outer space safe, they agreed to “professionalize space cadres and training to energize shared, common understanding of the space domain, share best practices and increase our collective expertise.” Canada’s involvement in military space operations dates to the 1950s, when it formed the North American Air Defense Command with the U.S. to prepare for the possibility of Soviet attack, pointed out Charity Weeden, a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and an air-force veteran. She did a stint at NORAD and as an attaché in Washington, D.C., where she helped lay groundwork for the space-cooperation agreement. Canada launched its first military satellite in 2013, to track orbiting debris, and that’s when the Forces’ interest in space accelerated, she said in an interview. “Where once the United States focused on national-security space alone, perhaps with Canadian contributions through NORAD, it’s now grown to a combined space-operations concept where these seven players have a single vision and are contributing and synchronizing efforts. That is huge,” Weeden said in an interview from Washington, where she now works in the civilian space industry. One of the allies in the space pact, the United Kingdom, formed a “space command” in April 2021. Housed at a Royal Air Force base and currently commanded by an air force officer, it’s a joint command—made up of elements from the air force, army and navy. Lawrence said the Canadian “Space Division” would remain under the commander of the RCAF. That’s roughly what the French did, though they renamed their air force to the “Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace,” emphasizing the importance of its space component. Matthew Overton, who spent 39 years in the Canadian army and is a former executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations, said in an interview that it’s past time for Canada to give space operations their due. Space operations do more than support action on land and sea and in the air, he said, and definitely demand a unit that can do, not just think and plan. Interfering with or destroying opposing states’ GPS, surveillance and communications satellites is an obvious military tactic, Overton said—like the U.S., Russia and China have practised shooting out satellites already—and being able to defend Canada’s presence in space is an equally obvious necessity. “It doesn’t have to be what we call the traditional view of fighting, to conduct operations,” he said. In Overton’s view, though, Canada’s military capacity in space shouldn’t be under the air force’s supervision. Mixing space expertise with pilot training and air-base management doesn’t make obvious sense, he said, any more than it’s wise to build an elite cyberwarfare unit by first making recruits go through basic army training. “Electronic warfare or electronic operations were seen as being supportive of the physical realm of operations in land, sea and air. [Cyberwarfare] has pushed that discussion, which was always there, further along towards the idea that it is actually a separate domain of operations like operating on land or operating at sea. And space is exactly the same way. It is not like operating in any of the other domains,” he said. “There’s nothing about flying an aircraft or learning operations in the air that provides any special expertise for working in space.” There will be bureaucratic fights over whether and how to transfer space-oriented assets from the army and navy to the revamped air force unit, not to mention the personnel, he said. “I just don’t think Canada or the Canadian Forces is big enough, personnel-wise or budget-wise, to have its own separate space force, as the U.S. has,” said Weeden. It also doesn’t procure military goods in the same way; part of the reason for separating the American space force from the air force was to protect its budget from bureaucratic processes Canada doesn’t have, she said. Also, the administrative space unit currently in the RCAF used to answer directly to the vice-chief of the defence staff, she said. “You would pull in from other services; you would have plenty of army, navy, air force officers that would be interested in space,” she said. The trouble was that to get promoted in their own branches, they’d have to leave. “So it was essentially a dead end for one’s career to go into the space element.” Within the air force, she said, the space unit can at least be part of a path to higher command. On the flip side, given the Forces’ shortage of soldiers, sailors and aviators already, even finding 100 more people for the unit could be difficult—especially if they’re all to come from the air force. Nevertheless, it’s a capability Canada needs, she said. “I think it’s good to be able to move with the changes that are happening in space and recognize those changes and those threats and be able to be prepared,” Weeden said. “Whether it’s in operational capability or your own cadre—getting them prepared [and] getting the right level of cadre in place to be able to protect and defend Canada and her allies.”
  25. Not sure about that, the capacity built for A220 production in the Alabama plant is only for four aircraft per month. There is an adjacent line producing seven A320 series airframes per month. With full order books for both types, it wouldn't appear Alabama would have the capacity to poach production from Montreal.
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