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Boris Johnson news: Steve Baker threatens Tory rebellion over PM’s ‘Draconian’ COVID power | Politics | News


He said: “100 Acts of Parliament have been used to put in place about 242 statutory instruments, and there have been about 200 changes.

“When you’ve got a body of law that large, changing that fast, I doubt really anyone understands what that law is.

“This is not a free environment for a free people.

“How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this with Government exercising Draconian powers without parliamentary scrutiny in advance.”

READ MORE: SNP power to ‘distort’ post-Brexit UK trade thwarted by Boris plan

Mr Baker continued: “How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this with Government exercising Draconian powers without parliamentary scrutiny in advance.

“It’s extremely serious, I don’t think I look like a hysterical person to you.

“Rishi Sunak brought up this issue that we need to learn to live without fear. At the moment, the public are being deliberately told that they should be afraid.

“The Government has been frightening people into compliance and it hasn’t been working.”

More to follow…





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Heads Of Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google Testify On Big Tech’s Power : NPR


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (from left), Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Bertrand Guay, Tobias Schwarz, Angela Weiss, Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images


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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (from left), Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Bertrand Guay, Tobias Schwarz, Angela Weiss, Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Do Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple stifle competition? Not surprisingly, the tech giants’ chief executives will tell Congress: absolutely not. The concern that too much power is concentrated in too few companies is unfounded, they plan to testify Wednesday.

Amid a time of rising tensions with China, some of the powerful CEOs will suggest that too much regulation could provide an opportunity for Chinese tech firms to gain a global toehold, according to opening remarks from the tech leaders released by the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.

“We believe in values — democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression — that the American economy was built on,” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg will tell lawmakers, according to his prepared opening statement. “China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person who will be making his first-ever appearance in front of Congress, will bring in his personal story of being adopted by an immigrant father when he was 4 years old and spending his summers on his grandparents’ ranch in Texas, saying his upbringing instilled in him a work ethic that has helped Amazon prosper.

Amazon’s rise to becoming the largest online retailer, Bezos will say, is an achievement only made possible in America. But Walmart, he will point out, is still twice the size of Amazon.

“We did not start out as the largest marketplace — eBay was many times our size. It was only by focusing on supporting sellers and giving them the best tools we could invent that we were able to succeed and eventually surpass eBay,” Bezos says in his released testimony.

Watch the live stream here beginning at noon ET.

Google’s Sundar Pichai will steer attention to the other ways people navigate the online world, even though 90% of Internet searches happen on Google.

“People have more ways to search for information than ever before — and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine,” Pichai plans to tell the House panel. “You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest.”

Apple’s Tim Cook will echo the appeals to patriotism raised among the other tech CEOs by touting how Apple’s strength, becoming the most valuable company in the world, represents success “only possible in this country.”

He will also join the other tech leaders by arguing that Apple has plenty of competition.

“The smartphone market is fiercely competitive, and companies like Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google have built very successful smartphone businesses offering different approaches,” Cook will say in his opening statement to lawmakers.

Whether members of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee buy these arguments over the course of what is set to be an hourslong spectacle is another matter.

And it remains to be seen if the public will gain new insight into the tech companies, and whether lawmakers can pin down answers from the typically cautious technology executives.

The CEOs will be testifying via video at the same time, rather than one by one, a format seen as taking the heat off any individual executive and something the companies requested.

While the hearing centers on questions around market dominance, lawmakers are free to pepper the executives with questions about any topic.

The anything-goes format will likely divert the hearing away from antitrust and delve into issues like perceived anti-conservative bias on social media platforms, a common Republican refrain. And Democrats, often raising concern about foreign election meddling, may inquire about possible efforts to influence the vote online ahead of the November election.

More on-topic probing could involve issues like acquisitions that have grown the reach of Big Tech.

For instance, Facebook has acquired nearly 90 companies, including Instagram, WhatsApp and more recently, Giphy, a tool for creating animated images.

How ever it goes, one thing is certain: It will be a day for the history books.

The hearing is the first time all four technology leaders have testified together, as scrutiny over the companies’ nearly $5 trillion market power draws intensifying scrutiny in Washington.

The CEOs will be on the defensive as House lawmakers grill them about whether the business empire each company has created has resulted in monopoly-like dominance that distorts the marketplace in their favor.

After enjoying more than a decade virtually free of federal regulation, House lawmakers are expected to make the case that it’s time for the technology behemoths to be held to account.

The hearing caps a more than year-long House investigation into the Big Tech companies, which has probed whether the industry leaders box out competition, discourage innovation and pose larger threats to society and American democracy.

If Washington can keep the bipartisan focus on Silicon Valley, the hearing could set the stage for historic regulations, but the tech CEOs will be making the case to lawmakers that laws aimed at reining in the scale and power of each company are not necessary, contending that competition among rivals has not been squashed and that consumers have benefited from the technology sector’s success.

“You earn trust slowly, over time, by doing hard things well — delivering on time; offering everyday low prices; making promises and keeping them; making principled decisions, even when they’re unpopular,” Bezos will tell the subcommittee.

Unpopular among the four tech giants: the argument that the power each company has amassed over the years is being abused and needs to be held accountable by Washington.



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Canada’s COVID-19 response still ignores the innovative companies that could power a recovery


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There’s a race. There’s a new currency, so to speak. It’s technology

Suzanne Grant, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance

Restaurants and retailers come and go even in good times. Tech companies were driving employment growth before the crisis, and they will determine the speed of the recovery as the economy continues to go digital and governments and corporations heavily spend on replacements for carbon-based energy. At least that’s how Germany sees it.

Morneau, though, has struggled to satisfy technology firms, which have been regularly disappointed by having to meet criteria for aid that too often are designed for the way things were done in the old economy, not the new one.

“It’s good, but I don’t think it’s good enough,” Grant said of the government’s efforts to shield smaller technology companies. “I don’t think we are valuing what they can do for our future. The world is shifting and it’s competitive. There’s a race. There’s a new currency, so to speak. It’s technology.”



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Congress Should Do More To Rein In Presidential Power, Sen. Tim Kaine Says : NPR


Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., seen on Capitol Hill earlier this month. In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Kaine encouraged Congress to reassert its authority as a co-equal branch of government.

Susan Walsh/AP


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Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., seen on Capitol Hill earlier this month. In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Kaine encouraged Congress to reassert its authority as a co-equal branch of government.

Susan Walsh/AP

Presidential power only goes so far — and then Congress has the constitutional duty to assert its authority, Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine told NPR’s Michel Martin in an interview on Saturday.

Kaine’s comments come amid renewed criticism among Democrats and some Republicans that President Trump repeatedly engages in executive overreach. Some point to the administration’s move this month to remove New York federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, who had been investigating some of Trump’s associates. Others cite the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during the Russia investigation.

Presidential assertions of executive power are nothing new, Kaine said, pointing to Barack Obama and George W. Bush as examples of commanders-in-chief who believed they could engage in military activity without a vote from Congress. But the Trump administration goes too far, Kaine said, citing the Flynn case, as well as Trump’s taking money out of the defense budget to use for a border wall, and blocking witnesses from testifying before congressional committees.

Some powers belong to Congress alone, Kaine said, such as starting trade wars and imposing tariffs. “Presidents take these powers, but Congress has basically just allowed them to,” he said.

Kaine was especially critical of what he called the highly politicized pardons of people like Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who was pardoned by Trump after a conviction for criminal contempt of court; or I. Lewis Libby Jr., former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection to the leak of a CIA officer’s identity.

These pardons, Kaine said, are “almost like messages to others: ‘Hey, stick with me and I’ll pardon you if you don’t say anything bad about me.’ ”

While Kaine is critical of presidents for taking on powers not explicitly conferred by the Constitution, the senator said he’s even more critical of a Congress that abdicates its authority to push back. “When Congress abdicates, we just allow this to happen. And Congress has been abdicating — and frankly it’s been a bipartisan problem for too long,” Kaine said.

Ultimately, Kaine believes Congress has let the balance of power between the branches of government become disturbed. “We’ve let power that was supposed to be at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue run down to the other end,” Kaine said. “There’s got to be a balance, and we need to reclaim some of it.”

Kaine is hopeful a bipartisan solution is possible. Trump’s attempts at asserting authority is “making a lot of us grapple with the fact that Congresses of both parties under presidents of both parties have let the balance get out of wack,” he said.

But Kaine acknowledges that for some Democrats, complaining about executive overreach might be a matter of what he called “situational ethics”: There’s a possibility, he said, that they might turn a blind eye if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins office. “When I was raising real concerns about President Obama’s decision to unilaterally engage in military activity, Democrats in my own Senate caucus were basically yelling at me and telling me to knock it off,” Kaine said.

That said, given Biden’s decades of experience in Congress, Kaine is confident a Biden presidency would take pains not to engage in political overreach that tramples over the legislative branch. Biden has “a completely different attitude toward the role of the Article I branch than President Trump does,” Kaine said.



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Canada has power to end Meng extradition, bring Canadians home from China, Kovrig’s wife says


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Since January, China has prevented Canadian diplomats from visiting Kovrig and Spavor, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Trudeau rejected suggestions that Canada should intervene to resolve the Meng case in an attempt to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“We continue to stand up both for the independence of our judicial system and Canadian interests and values,” the prime minister said. “We work behind the scenes and in public to ensure that everyone understands we will continue to work extremely hard to get these Canadians home.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic on Canada-China Relations, was critical of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and Eddie Goldenberg, a former aide to ex-prime minister Jean Chrétien, for advocating for a prisoner exchange to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to respect the independence of Canada’s judicial system and reject this position by senior Liberal insiders,” said Genuis.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case wends its way through a British Columbia court.

The United States wants to prosecute Meng for fraud, alleging she lied to banks about her company’s connections with Iran, which could possibly violate U.S. sanctions.



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Obama urges George Floyd protesters to push for change, ‘make people in power uncomfortable’


Former President Barack Obama, in a virtual town hall hosted by his foundation Wednesday, called on demonstrators to channel their anger over George Floyd’s death into an opportunity to make leaders “uncomfortable” and pressure them into making real policy changes.

The town hall was hosted by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which supports young men of color. During the event, Obama said he rejected a debate that emerged in “a little bit of chatter on the internet” about “voting versus protests, politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”

“This is not an either-or. This is a both,” he said. “And to bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”

ANGELA STANTON-KING SAYS OBAMA, BIDEN SHOULD HAVE DONE ‘MUCH MORE’ TO COMBAT RACISM

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother's Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Obama also urged “every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies” with their communities and “commit to report on planned reforms” before prioritizing their implementation. During a virtual roundtable discussion, he compared current protests to the unrest of the 1960s and said polls show a majority of Americans support the current demonstrations taking place nationwide, despite some “having been marred by the actions of a tiny minority that engaged in violence.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Last week, Obama said the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25 after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes, “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.” He laid out plans for change in a post on Medium and countered the argument made by some protesters that demonstrations will facilitate more societal change than voting.

“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

While the former president said that the current protests stem from a “legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices,” he condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Thousands without power after snow storm on B.C.’s South Coast


Thousands of B.C. Hydro customers remained without power Thursday after a winter storm whipped across the South Coast Wednesday, causing road and school closures, travel alerts, and ferry cancellations.

By 9:30 a.m., B.C. Hydro said crews were making good progress, with just over 6,000 customers without power in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. Earlier in the morning, more than 15,000 customers were without power.

At the height of the storm Wednesday, hurricane force winds of up to 150 km/h blew across Howe Sound, knocking down trees and power lines, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“Crews made good progress overnight restoring power to most customers affected from yesterday’s heavy snow and winds. Crews will continue to work to restore remaining customers throughout the morning and the rest of the day,” B.C. Hydro said, in a statement Thursday.

B.C. Ferries has resumed sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo after some were cancelled earlier Thursday because of the wind.

Most public schools, universities, and colleges in the region were open again Thursday after a rare snow day Wednesday, with some districts reminding parents that if they felt it was not safe to drive then to keep their kids home. Some remained closed, however, including all public schools in Chilliwack and Mission. Many private schools also remained closed.

TransLink said early Thursday that conditions have improved and crews worked overnight to fix some of the problems that occurred Wednesday.

TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said transit users should expect service to be slower than normal, and budget extra travelling time.

He also said that because the streets remain icy, HandyDART will remain at essential service levels only.

As of 2:15 p.m., a snowfall warning was still in effect for parts of the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford. Environment and Climate Change Canada said bands of heavy snow could bring up to 10 centimetres of snow.  Once the bands move through, a chance of flurries continues in the afternoon.

A snowfall warning has ended for the rest of Metro Vancouver.

A blizzard warning for the Sea to Sky Highway also remained in effect Thursday, with authorities warning drivers to avoid the highway unless necessary.

As temperatures are expected to warm up this weekend, with rain in the forecast, and highs of around 6 C or 7 C on Saturday and Sunday, there are concerns about flooding.

David Campbell, head of B.C.’s River Forecast Centre, which issues flood advisories, said they are monitoring the situation closely but don’t anticipate any serious flooding in the Lower Mainland.

There will likely be issues with street drainage, water pooling on roads, and maybe some minor flooding of basements, he said.

Campbell said there are more concerns, however, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where significant rainfall is in the forecast.

B.C.’s Ministry of Transport late Wednesday warned that conditions may lead to bridge closures given the weather conditions on the Port Mann and Alex Fraser bridges.

Transit users are asked to go to alerts.translink.ca to check which routes are closed or delayed.

Wednesday’s wild weather led to several major routes being closed as travellers faced dangerous driving conditions, delays and heavy crowding on SkyTrain. Buses jack-knifed, snarling traffic, and B.C. Ferries cancelled afternoon sailings because of anticipated high winds.

It was a busy day for ICBC, with 1,882 dial-a-claim calls in Metro Vancouver on Wednesday, though that number was significantly down from the day before, when 2,773 people placed calls. The highest number of calls over the last week was on Friday, when 5,075 customers called in a claim. ICBC notes that not every call represents a claim.

Emergency crews were also stretched over the last few days. Though Emergency Health Services said it responded to a higher number of motor vehicle accidents in Metro Vancouver on Monday (77 incidents) and Tuesday (43 incidents) than during the big snow storm on Wednesday, when it responded to 34 car accidents in the region.

There was an uptick, however, in the number of cold exposure calls. BC EHS said they responded to 11 such incidents on Wednesday, compared with six on Tuesday and five on Monday.

Many commuters waited for buses that did not show up in freezing weather, with wind chill factors forecast at – 11 C, while others swapped their bikes for a pair of skis to get to work.

The conditions prompted TransLink and the B.C. government to issue rare statements early Wednesday asking people not to travel unless necessary.

On Thursday, however, the message was downgraded, with a statement asking motorists in Metro Vancouver to exercise caution on the roads and to be prepared for winter driving conditions.

Icy sidewalks, curb ramps, and bus stops were being cleared of ice and snow Thursday by Vancouver city crews. The city said it feared the roads would become icy once the snow turned to rain. Staff were also busy clearing catch basins in anticipation of possible flooding on the weekend.

Vancouver has spent approximately $1.5 million on snow response, with approximately $500,000 spent on salt, according to a statement from the city Thursday.

The next snowfall is expected Friday evening through Saturday morning, but accumulation is expected to be washed away with rain by the end of the weekend.

 

Here’s a rundown of what happened across the region on Wednesday, Jan. 15.


Environment Canada re-issues snowfall warning, then issues wind warning

After cancelling an earlier snowfall warning around 9 a.m., Environment and Climate Change Canada issued another warning around noon. The latest warning forecasts up to 10 centimetres over higher elevations of the region late in the afternoon – just in time for the evening commute.

At 1 p.m., Environment Canada issued a wind warning, stating a deep low pressure system crossing Vancouver Island on Wednesday night would bring up to 90 km/h winds to Metro Vancouver. The winds are expected to ease by Thursday morning, however, damage to roofs is expected.

Overnight, there will be a slow transition to rain in areas closer to the water, however the cold air will remain in place over the North Shore, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, as well as northern sections of Langley and Surrey.

The snow is expected to ease to scattered showers or snow flurries Thursday.

Meanwhile, a snow warning for the Fraser Valley was changed Wednesday afternoon to a winter storm warning as a combination of wind chill values, blowing snow, and the potential for freezing rain were expected to cause hazardous conditions. Environment Canada said the wind chill was expected to be around – 20 C in the region and that driving visibility could near zero with the blowing snow.

A wind warning remained in effect for Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, with gusts of up to 90 km/h anticipated in some areas Wednesday evening.

The city of Vancouver reminded homeless people that warming centres would be open through the night, and that all pets and carts were welcome.

Meantime, much of the province was under a winter storm or extreme cold warning on Wednesday.

Wind, snowfall, and winter storm warnings were in effect for much of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, while some parts of the Interior and northern regions of B.C. were under extreme cold warnings.

Bitter Arctic winds in Dease Lake, for example, were expected to create a wind chill factor of – 50 C or – 40 C in other areas such as B.C.’s Peace Region.

B.C.’s Central Coast and Inland regions are under an Arctic outflow alert, with “severely” cold wind chill factors of – 20 C.


Buses delayed and SkyTrain stations closed due to track issues, crowds

Due to the heavy snowfall, TransLink warned of “significantly slower service” on the transit system Wednesday.

As of 7 a.m., there were nearly 200 transit alerts for buses, and an alert saying SkyTrain is significantly impacted because of the weather.

Commuters were told to expect crowding on trains and at SkyTrain stations. TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy says station attendants will be on board trains to monitor guideways and limit emergency braking on the system, which can be caused by heavy snowfall or ice build up.

Several SkyTrain stations – including King George, Sapperton, Braid, and Bridgeport – were closed Wednesday morning for a brief time due to switch or track issues. Those stations were re-opened shortly after noon.

The Canada Line was also placed on hold for some time but was up and running again later in the day though at reduced frequencies, according to TransLink.

Transit users were told to expect lengthy delays because of switch and door issues caused by freezing temperatures. Trains were also moving at a slower speed.

TransLink said their 60-foot articulated buses have more trouble operating in the snow than the 40-foot buses. This is because articulated joints can cause jack-knifing in winter conditions, with the back end of the bus being more likely to get stuck while turning.

Photos on social media showed a group of people pushing an articulated bus that had jack-knifed at Hastings Street and Boundary.

Dan Mountain, a spokesperson for TransLink, said it was one of several buses that had trouble Wednesday.

“Road conditions are causing some buses to get stuck. It was a large snow event and we thank municipal crews for working hard to improve conditions,” he said, in an email.

Mountain said during extreme weather, TransLink implements a snow desk which liaises with municipal partners to recommend which roads most need snow removal and clearing.

The snow desk employees collect information from transit supervisors, support workers, and bus operators before sending that information to municipal partners as a recommendation, he added.


TransLink is warning that there will be delays and crowding on transit Wednesday.

HandyDART is operating at essential service levels, meaning all trips other than those deemed essential will be rescheduled.

Murphy says customers are asked to consider whether they need to travel today, and if there is a need, whether they could consider travelling outside of rush hours, as commutes will take significantly longer than usual.


Broadway-Commercial SkyTrain station covered in snow Wednesday. TransLink is warning to expect delays and crowds on SkyTrain and busses.


Snow snarls highway driving, Highway 1 closed

Severe whiteout conditions on Highway 1 forced authorities to close a section of Highway 1 from Lickman Road to Sumas in the Fraser Valley early Wednesday. Drive BC says Highway 7 can be used as an alternate route, but conditions are still extreme.

Also, some counterflow lanes were shut down early Wednesday at the Alex Fraser Bridge and Massey Tunnel, as was the Barnston Island Ferry.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation warned drivers not to travel in Metro Vancouver and in the Fraser Valley Wednesday if possible. A travel advisory also applied to Vancouver Island on Highway 1 from Nanaimo south to Victoria, as well as Highways 14, 17 and 18.

“Those who must travel are asked to use extreme caution and drive to the conditions. The ministry advises travellers to expect winter conditions for the rest of the week,” a travel advisory stated.

Several other highway alerts are in effect, including a blizzard warning for the Sea to Sky Highway.

“Blizzard conditions with gusty winds and visibility frequently near zero in snow and blowing snow are expected or occurring, warned Environment and Climate Change Canada on Wednesday.

Cold Arctic air will continue to funnel through Howe Sound producing strong northerly winds of 90 to 110 km/h near Bowen Island into the evening, the agency said.

The agency says drivers should postpone non-essential travel until conditions improve.

“If you become stranded in a vehicle do not leave. The vehicle offers a form of protection from the cold. A single person walking through the snow is harder to find than a stranded car or truck. Protect yourself from wind, cold and disorientation by staying sheltered, indoors or with your vehicle,” the warning stated.


BC Ferries cancels sailings

BC Ferries cancelled many of its Wednesday afternoon sailings, including routes between Vancouver and Victoria and West Vancouver and Nanaimo, because of heavy snow and high winds in the forecast.

Southeast winds of 70 to 90 km/h will develop in Greater Victoria early in the evening and spread to the Southern Gulf Islands, East Vancouver Island – Duncan to Nanaimo, southern and western sections of Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast later in the evening, BC Ferries said, in a travel alert.

While BC Ferries cited “hurricane force winds” as the reason for cancelling its sailings, winds must be sustained for one minute at 119 km/h to be classified as a hurricane.

The company asked customers to avoid travel is possible, and to check the website for travel advisories.


Horgan picks snow blower over wood chipper

On a lighter note, B.C. Premier John Horgan tweeted out a photo showing the fountain frozen at the B.C. Legislature, saying that he hoped everyone was taking extra time with their travel and joking that the Legislature should have “got a snow blower instead of a wood chipper.”


YVR crews working to clear runways

At the Vancouver International Airport, crews worked to clear and maintain runways, taxiways and aprons to ensure planes could take off safely.

Passengers were advised to check their flight status before attempting to  make their way to the airport in case of delays and cancellations, and to allow extra time when making the journey.

Don Ehrenholz, vice president of engineering at YVR, said there were about 30 to 35 flight cancellations on Wednesday, but mainly regional airlines flying to Victoria or Seattle, where there was also heavy snow. International flights were unaffected by the snow storm.

He said they have crews working 24/7 to keep the runways clear, and they are ploughing and de-icing every hour.

Airline passengers were advised of delays because all planes had to be de-iced before takeoff, and Ehrenholz said anyone travelling through the airport should check their flight schedule and budget extra time.


Metro Vancouver school districts closed for the day

All schools in the region were closed Wednesday because of extreme weather, including all universities and colleges. Many daycares shut their doors as well.


ICBC provides tips for drivers

While authorities were asking people not to drive Wednesday, ICBC said those who do need to drive should follow these tips:

1.   Slow down. Posted speed limits are for ideal conditions only. Adjust your driving in winter conditions. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on snow-covered or slushy roads.

2.   Headlights on. Use your headlights in poor weather and reduced visibility – not only at night – to help you see ahead and be seen by other drivers.

3.   Watch for other road users.  Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road particularly when visibility is poor.

4.   Prevent a skid. Black ice is commonly found on roads with shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where car exhaust and packed snow freeze quickly. If you drive over black ice and start to skid, ease off the accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Don’t brake—this will make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.

5.   Check your vehicle. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Check the condition of your windshield wiper blades and replace them if they’re worn out. Top up wiper fluid for clearer visibility and carry extra washer fluid in your vehicle. Fill up your gas tank. Pack an emergency kit and make sure it includes a flashlight and extra batteries.

6.   Plan ahead. Check road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca before heading out.


BC Hydro prepares for possible storm events

While power outages in the Metro Vancouver area were at a minimum on Wednesday, BC Hydro is preparing for possible storm events heading into the remainder of the week.

“While we prepare for storm season year-round, we’ve taken extra measures ahead of this particular storm, and crews are on standby to restore power should the lights go out,” the company said in a statement.

“Because it is difficult to predict how much damage a storm may cause to the system and how long a power outage will last, it is important for customers to be prepared for an outage.”

Residents were reminded to check their emergency kits and ensure they are stocked with a flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, three days’ worth of ready to eat non-perishable foods and bottled water.

Anyone who sees a downed power line is reminded to stay back and report it to 911.

-with files from Gord Hoekstra

[email protected]





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Reconsidering Great Power Competition Below Armed Conflict


This unique national-security focused expert insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support this kind of quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this high-level, security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.

 

 





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Donald Trump accused of abusing his ‘power’ to pressure Ukraine into influencing 2020 presidential election – The Sun


A DRAFT impeachment report last night accused Donald Trump of abusing the “power of his office” to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election.

The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee’s 300-page report said the US President had solicited foreign interference effort to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden.

 Donald Trump was accused of abusing the 'power of his office' by pressuring Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election

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Donald Trump was accused of abusing the ‘power of his office’ by pressuring Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election

Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter Biden – the son of his main Democratic rival in next year’s presidential election.

He also threatened to withhold £307million in military aid from Ukraine and a White House meeting, if the country refused to help.

‘UNDERMINING DEMOCRACY’

The report said Trump “placed his own personal and political interests” above the US national interest – seeking to undermine democracy and endanger national security.

It added: “The impeachment inquiry…uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”

The report said Trump’s “scheme subverted US foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security” in favour of “investigations that would help his presidential re-election”.

The document does not recommend his impeachment and removal from office.

But it laid out the framework which Democrats will use to push for impeachment – as well as blasting Trump for obstructing the probe.

House Democrats released the report after the intelligence panel conducted a handful of closed-door meetings with witnesses and five days of public hearings.

If the full House of Representatives eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led US Senate.

An unlikely two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict and remove Trump from office.

 The US President allegedly solicited foreign interference to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter

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The US President allegedly solicited foreign interference to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden and his son HunterCredit: Getty
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff speaks after of release impeachment report detailing ‘overwhelming’ evidence of misconduct


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Trump abused power of presidency, Dems conclude in impeachment report


“[T]he president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security,” the report concludes.

The Intelligence Committee is expected to approve the report along party lines Tuesday evening, ahead of the first impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said his report uncovered “overwhelming” evidence that should be presented to the Judiciary Committee immediately for consideration.

And while there remains substantial investigative work which may point to a broader and longer-running pressure campaign than previously understood, Schiff said his panel had gathered enough evidence to present a persuasive case, and that it would be a mistake to wait for “every last fact.”

“I think what we have produced in remarkably short order is so overwhelming that it ought to be presented to the Judiciary Committee now,” Schiff said, leaving open the possibility of filing supplemental reports if more information emerges.

The report does not specifically recommend articles of impeachment against the president. But it provides the Judiciary Committee with a roadmap as it prepares to consider the evidence and draft articles in the coming weeks — and it outlines a historical precedent for the impeachment process.

Democrats are expected to draft at least two articles of impeachment: one on abuse of power and another on obstruction of Congress.

The report describes a tangled web of contacts among an array of Trump associates and allies as the Ukraine effort took shape earlier this year — including previously undisclosed communications between these individuals and John Solomon, a former columnist for The Hill newspaper whose writings have animated GOP defenses of the president.

The report also includes new details, including phone logs and records describing a more extensive set of contacts than previously known between Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — whom Trump deputized to lean on top Ukrainian officials — and the top Intelligence Committee Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California.

The call logs, which the committee obtained from telecommunications company AT&T, also show contacts between Giuliani and Kash Patel, a former Nunes aide who joined the National Security Council in February, in addition to other communications between an indicted Giuliani associate — Lev Parnas — and an Intelligence Committee GOP aide. Nunes and Parnas also exchanged several phone calls earlier this year, the logs showed.

Schiff declined to comment on Nunes’ inclusion in the report, but said: “It is deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity.”

Democrats have argued that Trump abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine and then obstructed Congress’ efforts to uncover the alleged abuse. But their report also alleges “witness intimidation” against a handful of the top witnesses that were called to testify, adding a new potential charge as they consider which “high crimes and misdemeanors” to formally allege against the president.

“President Trump issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, made insinuations about witnesses’ character and patriotism, and subjected them to mockery and derision,” Democrats found, suggesting it could discourage witnesses from coming forward in the future.

The report details the extent to which Trump sought to limit his administration’s cooperation with the impeachment inquiry — including his efforts to prevent senior officials from testifying before investigators and the executive branch’s refusal to turn over documents that were subpoenaed or otherwise requested.



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