General Government

How Obama let Hezbollah off the hook; Pentagon & UFO research; internet & nuclear war, and more

Our picksHow Obama let Hezbollah off the hook; Pentagon & UFO research; internet & nuclear war, and more

Published 18 December 2017

· The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook

· How the Pentagon’s cyber offensive against ISIS could shape the future for elite US forces

· Reports: Pentagon spent millions on UFO research

· New underwater sensors to watch for the Big One

· North Korea biothreat: The cost of a biological weapons program

· Witnesses assess US biosecurity infrastructure as inadequate

· Navigating the latest terrorism trend

· The internet has made nuclear war thinkable – again

The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook (Josh Meyer, Politico)
An ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House’s desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.

How the Pentagon’s cyber offensive against ISIS could shape the future for elite US forces (Dan Lamothe, Washington Post)
The U.S. military has conducted cyber attacks against the Islamic State for more than a year, and its record of success when those attacks are coordinated with elite Special Operations troops is such that the Pentagon is likely carry out similar operations with greater frequency, according to current and former U.S. defense officials.

Reports: Pentagon spent millions on UFO research (Benjamin Hart, New York Magazine)
The Department of Defense ran a shadowy program whose purpose was to conduct research and analysis into UFOs. (Note to readers under 30: America was obsessed with aliens in the ‘90s, before the horror of the real world surpassed them in the public imagination. So this feels like a nice throwback.)

New underwater sensors to watch for the Big One (Erica Gies, Hakai Magazine)
Canada’s west coast is getting a new earthquake early-warning system.

North Korea biothreat: The cost of a biological weapons program (Brittany De Lea, Fox Business)
As reports surface that North Korea could be developing new biological weapons capabilities, the United States is set to increase the multi-billion dollar budget for one agency tasked with combating biothreats.

Witnesses assess US biosecurity infrastructure as inadequate (Spencer Chase, Agri-Pulse)
Senate Agriculture Committee members can’t say they weren’t warned. A panel of witnesses spoke to the committee on Wednesday and all essentially delivered the same message: the current defense against pests, pathogens, and biosecurity threats to the food system needs work.

Navigating the latest terrorism trend (Brian Michael Jenkins, USNews)
If terrorists continue to employ vehicles as attack weapons, how must our cities adjust to the threat?

The internet has made nuclear war thinkable – again (Rafal Rohozinski, Globe and Mail)
Nuclear weapons formed the basis of strategic stability between the nuclear superpowers for the past 70 years. The threat of instantaneous and mutual annihilation helped concentrate minds, including the establishment of clear and unambiguous “rules of the game” among the superpowers. States continued to compete, but competition was never allowed to compromise overall strategic stability. All of this changed with the internet.

General Market

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Action to stop massacres in Syria, implement migration policies and border controls, and ensure a balanced approach to trade deals while defending EU industry are the key challenges that EU heads of state or government should tackle at their 20-21 October meeting in Brussels, said Parliament’s political group leaders. 

General Information

BACKGROUNDER: ATLANTIC GROWTH STRATEGY

January 27, 2017

On July 4, 2016, the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces launched the Atlantic Growth Strategy.

With this Strategy, the two levels of government have committed to collaborate on a pan-Atlantic basis on targeted actions to stimulate the region’s economy, support both innovative and traditional industries, increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians and focus on persistent and emerging regional challenges.

Atlantic Canada possesses competitive advantages that bring new opportunities to economic growth. The region is home to great ideas, great products, great innovators, and a great drive to succeed.

The Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces are working together to build a vibrant economic future for Atlantic Canada by focussing their efforts and resources to stimulate the region’s economy, support the middle class and address both longstanding and emerging regional challenges.

This whole-of-government approach will harness the region’s assets to strategically:

  • identify shared economic priorities and collaborate on the design and implementation of actions;
  • emphasize region-wide measures;
  • align actions with national and provincial priorities;
  • engage and consult with the region’s stakeholders, entrepreneurs, as well as Indigenous, community and industry leaders; and
  • monitor progress and report publicly on results.

Five Pillars

The Atlantic Growth Strategy’s objective is to drive long-term economic growth in the Atlantic region by implementing targeted, evidence-based actions under the following five priority areas:

  • Skilled workforce/immigration – To enhance the region’s capacity to develop, deploy and retain a skilled workforce by addressing labour market needs and making Atlantic Canada a destination of choice for immigrants while also supporting labour market participation for unemployed and underemployed Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, older workers, and persons with disabilities.
  • Innovation – To foster greater business innovation by supporting the scaling up of small firms, technology transfer, the commercialization of research, and the generation of breakthrough ideas in areas such as bioscience, aquaculture, ocean technology and renewable energy while spurring value-added opportunities in established industries.
  • Clean Growth and Climate Change – To stimulate economic growth, create clean jobs and drive innovation in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Trade and Investment – To expand business activities between Atlantic Canada and international markets, and strategically market the region as a whole by displaying the best Atlantic Canada has to offer the world to attract new investments and grow tourism.
  • Infrastructure – To invest in regionally significant infrastructure projects that support long-term growth in Atlantic Canada and position the region to capitalize on global trade opportunities by attracting investment and enhancing productivity.

Leadership Committee

Federal ministers and Atlantic premiers have formed a Leadership Committee to oversee the implementation of targeted actions, provide policy direction, review the broad range of factors that affect the Atlantic Canadian economy, and, ultimately, drive results that will lead to economic growth in the region. The Leadership Committee is composed of:

  • The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency,
  • The Honourable Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board
  • The Honourable Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • The Honourable Brian Gallant, Premier of New Brunswick
  • The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • The Honourable Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island
  • The Honourable Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia

Advisory Group Chair

On January 27, 2017, federal ministers and Atlantic premiers announced the appointment of Henry E. Demone – Chairman of High Liner Foods Inc. – as the Chair of the new Atlantic Growth Advisory Group. The Advisory Group, which will be selected shortly, will support the efforts of the Leadership Committee by providing strategic advice on pan-Atlantic collaborative approaches and actions to advance the Atlantic Growth Strategy.

Two-Year Action Plan

On July 4, 2016, the Atlantic Leadership Committee unveiled a two-year action plan to guide both the short-term and long-term actions under the Atlantic Growth Strategy.

As a first area of action, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced a three-year immigration pilot project to admit up to 2,000 immigrants and accompanying families in 2017 to address the unique labour market challenges in Atlantic Canada.

Other early areas of collaborative action include the following:

  • Develop and implement initiatives to attract and retain international students in Atlantic Canada (e.g., mission to Asia with University Presidents).
  • Support business incubators and accelerators to help launch and grow new start-ups.
  • Develop an Atlantic multi-year international business development strategy.
  • Implement Phase 1 of Federal Infrastructure Plan, including the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

Benchmarking and Reporting

The Atlantic Growth Strategy is intended to drive economic development in Atlantic Canada by delivering concrete and measurable results in the five priority areas identified by federal ministers and Atlantic premiers.

Public reporting on results will begin with a report, including benchmarking, to be issued publicly in July 2017. A second report will be issued in July 2018.  

In the interim, regular public announcements will be made as joint areas of action are completed.

The Leadership Committee will next meet in summer 2017.

Learn more at Atlantic Growth Strategy.

General Market

Dominican Republic Uses Nuclear Technology to Win the War against Fruit Flies

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic — A group of men in sun hats gather around a cardboard trap for flies. They inspect it with their pencil-shaped UV lamp, nod and smile from time to time. These insect specialists have left their lab coats behind to help the Dominican Republic verify its success in controlling the Mediterranean fruit fly, a pest that cost the country US $40 million in lost exports last year. The men nod again, satisfied that the trap contains no wild flies.

The Mediterranean fruit fly was reported for the first time in March 2015 in Punta Cana, the eastern region of the island. As soon as the government announced the presence of this pest, the United States banned the import of 18 fruits and vegetables, severely affecting the country’s main source of income after tourism: agricultural exports.

But thanks to a quick response by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the IAEA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the outbreak was contained in just ten months. The result? In January this year, the U.S. lifted the agro-ban for most of the country.

“It was disastrous,” said Pablo Rodríguez, financial manager of Ocoa Avocados, the country’s number one exporter of green king avocado. “Almost all we do is export, so you can imagine our loss. We had our product ready by March, when the ban started. We lost all that and our next cycle of production, too. Just because of a few flies, we all had to pay.” Ocoa Avocados’ losses amounted to US $8 million.

For us, it became a trauma. I would go to sleep thinking of the fly, I would dream of the fly, and in the morning, I would wake up with the fly in my mind.

Ángel Estévez, Minister of Agriculture, Dominican Republic