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Paid leave for public service during pandemic cost $623M, well above estimates: budget watchdog


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Taxpayers spent $311 million covering paid leave for CRA officials alone, over 40,000 of whom accepted paid leave. The next largest cost was for employees at Correctional Service Canada ($33 million), the Canada Border Services Agency ($15 million) and Employment and Social Development Canada ($14 million).

Researchers at the PBO suggested the high proportion of CRA officials is possibly a result of tighter reporting requirements at the agency, which would in turn suggest that current data “is likely an underestimate of the number of hours of work lost during that period,” suggesting that true costs could be higher still.

Aaron Wudrick, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said costs for paid leave could reach the $1 billion marker by the time the pandemic has run its course, which he says underscores the overly generous nature of public extended leave.

“The 699 was not designed to cover indefinitely for massive numbers of people,” Wudrick said. “And so going forward, when they’re negotiating with the unions, the government needs to put some parameters around this.”

Both Wudrick and the PBO suggested that similar leave provisions did not exist in the private sector. As of July 12, more than eight million Canadians had applied for the $2,000-per-month CERB program, after private businesses went through successive rounds of widespread layoffs.

“The PBO was not able to find a leave policy of a similar scope in the private sector,” the report said.



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Chinese next generation heavy military trucks enters service


The third generation heavy military trucks, developed by the Shaanxi Automobile Holding Group, has entered service with the People’s Liberation Army.

According to open sources, Shaanxi has won a contract to develop a new generation of heavy military trucks in 2017. The first experimental batches of new vehicles began to enter the troops in 2018 and already in 2019 was made decision to adopted for service in the Chinese Army.

The new family of the special vehicles has a unique and modular chassis design that enables heavy transport load and high-speed transportation on the most difficult terrain. The suspension and wheels feature strong construction for excellent terrain manoeuvrability, while maintaining a high payload capacity.

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In the 6×6 and 8×8 variants, the new heavy military platform covers a broad spectrum from transport vehicles to heavy-duty transporter with a gross train weight of over 120 tonnes. It is suitable for transporting high-value, sensitive and complex equipment, enabling it to serve as a system or weapon carrier even in difficult terrain in either a three- or four-axle version.

The new platform already is available in a variety of configurations, including cargo, tanker, tractor and wrecker.

The new truck family has a modular cab, which can be fitted with add-on armor protection kit. Armored modules are attached to the outside of the cab.

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Federal officer slain in Oakland is mourned at memorial service


Family and friends mourning a federal law enforcement officer who was fatally shot while guarding a U.S. courthouse in Oakland voiced poignant pleas Friday for an end to the violence that cut short his life, saying America needs to overcome discrimination and hatred.

David Patrick Underwood, 53, was remembered as a soft-spoken and gifted natural athlete, a lefty pitcher in high school who was valiant on the mound and graceful on the basketball court.

In life and in work, he was confident but never arrogant, friends and family said in moving tributes. He treated people with dignity and had a deep love for family and the uniform he proudly wore, they added.

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Janie Taylor sings beside a photo of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Janie Taylor sings beside a photo of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

He didn’t judge people by the color of their skin, but by what was in their heart, they said.

Local and federal officials joined the two-hour ceremony in Pinole, California, a San Francisco Bay Area city, at the high school where Underwood was a star baseball player in the 1980s. Wearing face masks, mourners packed into the school’s theater, where social distancing was mostly ignored, and paid tribute to Underwood, whose body lay in a blue casket on a gold stand.

Underwood, who was black, was killed May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland as a large demonstration was underway nearby over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“We must not be embittered by this horrific injustice. Hate, vengeance and violence solves nothing,” said his older sister, Angela Underwood Jacobs, a recent Republican candidate who sought to fill a vacant U.S. district seat north of Los Angeles.

Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister to slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, right, speaks to media beside family mambers prior to a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Angela Underwood Jacobs, sister to slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, right, speaks to media beside family mambers prior to a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

She added: “We will, we must, as individuals and as a society overcome discrimination, bias, hatred and violence of any kind whether it be against African Americans or people who wear the uniform in peace, as our brother did, to protect and serve and to ensure the safety of all.”

Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, joined the ceremony to honor Underwood and to deliver an American flag to his family. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent an officer of the California Highway Patrol who presented the family with a California flag.

In a separate video tribute, Wolf condemned the “senseless cowardly violence” that took Underwood’s life.

“Officer Underwood gave his life protecting us and we owe him and his family and colleagues a debt of gratitude we will never be able to fully repay,” said Wolf.

George Phillips, childhood friend of slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, speaks during a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

George Phillips, childhood friend of slain Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, speaks during a memorial service for Underwood on Friday, June 19, 2020, in Pinole, Calif. Underwood was fatally shot as he was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland, Calif., amid protests on May 29. (Associated Press)

Underwood died from gunshot wounds in a drive-by shooting the night of May 29 as a protest in downtown Oakland that began peacefully sank into chaos. Underwood and a colleague were working that night as contract security officers for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.

Federal authorities say the shooter used the protest as cover for the crime. Authorities say that Underwood was targeted because he wore a uniform.

Last week, the FBI announced murder charges against Air Force Staff Sgt. Steve Carrillo. Authorities say Carrillo used the same homemade AR-15-style rifle eight days later to kill a Santa Cruz deputy in a hail of gunfire that wounded four other officers. Carrillo faces separate state charges for the June 6 fatal shooting of Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.

Authorities allege that Carrillo, 32, had ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement and had hatched a plan to target federal law enforcement officials during the Oakland protest.

Colleagues described Underwood as hard-working, highly respected and conscientious. Friends and family talked of his hearty laugh, his personal style — he was a sharp dresser — and his giving heart. When he stopped playing baseball as an adult, he donated to local youth organizations, so he could help kids find joy in the sport he loved.

Underwood was the kind of guy you went to for advice, his older sister said.

“He’d always say, ‘Angie, believe in yourself. Work hard, and ask for what you want,’ which is exactly what our mom and dad would have said,” Jacobs said in a tribute to her brother. “Now that he’s gone, who am I going to call now?”

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She added: “A brother, a friend, a mentor a leader, a good man has wrongly been taken from us.”



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Trump praises Secret Service and threatens protesters with ‘vicious dogs’ | US news


Donald Trump has praised the US Secret Service for confronting protesters who massed outside the White House on Friday night, tweeting that had any of the crowd breached the fence, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.

It was the president’s latest potentially inflammatory response to protests which have erupted across the US over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis.

A white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with murder but violent protests have prompted national guard deployments, raising tensions everywhere.

On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase with racist origins which was censored by Twitter.

Trump then claimed he hadn’t known the inflammatory nature of the phrase, let alone had intended to call for violence against his own citizens. He also expressed his “deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd”.

Those words were more in keeping with those of Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election in November. The former vice-president spoke to Floyd’s family and issued a video address in which he said: “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”

On Friday night, as protests reached the White House gates, Trump turned back to incendiary tweeting, electioneering on the back of protests, riots and looting in cities across the US.

Outside the White House, people hurled bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and US park police officers in riot gear behind barricades.

The crowd of hundreds chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd”. The protest went on for several hours before police declared it “unlawful” and ordered everyone to leave. Dozens of officers pushed forward with their shields and fired off streams of pepper spray at protesters.

In a statement on Saturday, the Secret Service said it made six arrests and “multiple” officers and agents were injured.

Trump said he watched the events from the White House and that the Secret Service did a “great job”.

The president added: “They let the ‘protesters’ scream and rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them.”

Without evidence, the president claimed the protesters were “professionally” organized but had failed to breach the White House perimeter.

“If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” Trump tweeted.

Trump rounded off the flurry of tweets by attacking Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, for not sending DC police to help.

This followed a theme, in which the president has responded to the turmoil by blaming riots on Democratic mayors and state governors and lamenting the damage caused to businesses during the unrest.

In subsequent tweets, the president again claimed without evidence the protest was “professionally managed” and involved “organised groups”. The protesters, he said, “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble … Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

It was not immediately clear if the president was calling for a counter-protest by his supporters, an event which would be likely to enflame tensions already running high.

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, were due on Saturday to fly to Florida for the rescheduled launch of a manned SpaceX mission, their public schedule bringing them back to the White House at 8.15pm.





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