In The News for Mar. 1: What can Ottawa learn from Canberra on foreign interference?

In The News for Mar. 1: What can Ottawa learn from Canberra on foreign interference?

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s detailed public threat assessments could be a model for Canada’s spy service on explaining the elements of foreign interference, added Wesley Wark, a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

The Liberal government has come under pressure in recent weeks to explain what Canada is doing about allegations of Chinese meddling — spelled out in anonymous leaks to the media from security sources — in the last two federal elections.

In contrast, the head of Australia’s ASIO gives an annual address spelling out such threats. 

Also this …

Canadian cities should be nimble and prioritize service if they want to sustain and strengthen public transit systems in a time of declining ridership and labour challenges, a transit researcher says.

While cities like Montreal and Halifax are reducing bus routes to save money or deal with staff shortages, a transit and rail research consultant and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto says these decisions contribute to a transportation “death spiral.”

“There are two negative feedback loops going on in transit,” Willem Klumpenhouwer said in a recent interview. When routes are cut and transit is less frequent or convenient, ridership declines. When there are fewer riders paying fares, cities lose income and are inclined to further reduce routes.

“Then you have a death spiral, as people call it,” he said.

This same cycle is affecting transit labour, Klumpenhouwer said, because, as transit operators leave the job, the remaining staff are asked to work more hours. “That leads to higher attrition and less hiring, so there’s that same feedback loop.”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

A new storm has dumped fresh snow in the California mountains that are still staggering from earlier blizzards that stranded people and closed roads. 

The U.S. National Weather Service predicted that several more feet of snow would fall overnight, lasting into early the morning, in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California ranges. Authorities are warning people not to travel because of gusty winds and possible whiteout conditions. 

The weather service also says there could be record-low temperatures in much of the northern and central regions. 

Meanwhile, authorities are struggling to plow roads, especially in some mountain areas where some visitors have been trapped for days.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Israelis are stepping up their protests against a contentious government plan to overhaul the judicial system. 

Large demonstrations and road closures were expected today in what protest leaders have dubbed a “national day of disruption.” The demonstrations come as the government barrels ahead with a parliamentary vote on a bill that would weaken the Supreme Court. 

The rival sides are digging in, deepening one of Israel’s worst domestic crises. 

The legal overhaul has sparked an unprecedented uproar, with weeks of mass protests, criticism from legal experts, business leaders and the security establishment — as well as concern from international allies.

On this day in 1875 …

The Hospital for Sick Children opened in Toronto with six beds and one nurse. A group of women led by Elizabeth McMaster rented an 11-room house for $320 a year and declared the hospital open for “the admission and treatment of children.”

In entertainment …

One of the directors of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is thrilled with its success, but also sad. 

Daniel Kwan says the unexpected success of the film has given him “euphoria and depression and manic episodes.” He says he’s realized he’s never going to get his old life back. 

His directing partner, Daniel Scheinert, recalls telling the cast and crew while making it, “We’re not making an Oscar movie here. This movie is about quantity, not quality.” 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is now considered a frontrunner to win best picture at the Oscars.

Did you see this?

A researcher in British Columbia says South Asian children offered traditional Punjabi dance lessons called bhangra in an after-school program had improved fitness levels.

Doctor Tricia Tang of the B-C Children’s Hospital Research Institute says this could be an important early intervention program for a population that is more at risk of developing heart disease compared with other groups.

Tang led a pilot project involving South Asian elementary school students who attended twice-weekly bhangra lessons for seven months.

She says more robust research into cardiovascular issues affecting South Asians is missing in Canada and would benefit the country’s fastest-growing immigrant group.

The small pilot involved 156 students in Surrey and neighbouring Delta, a region with a high South Asian population that could relate to the culturally tailored early intervention.

The results suggesting bhangra was associated with improved aerobic fitness were published last June in the online journal Childhood Obesity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 1, 2023

The Canadian Press

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