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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Frozen Wild’

Medvedeva dominates, but Canada leads team competition

February 11, 2018

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Not even a record performance by Russian figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva could put much of a crimp in Team Canada’s pursuit of Olympic gold. Medvedeva’s mesmerizing short program Sunday almost made everything else seem ordinary. Her 81.06 score broke her previous world mark as she virtually floated along the ice, nailing every element with a combination of technical skill and artistry that only she has perfected in recent years.

The 18-year-old two-time world champion smiled broadly as a group of her countrymen chanted “well done” in the stands. Her marks actually seemed a bit low for such an overwhelming routine. “I wasn’t nervous. I was focused, maybe too much,” Medvedeva said. “I have to relax a little bit, maybe.”

Imagine what she might do then. Still, the team gold doesn’t appear in reach for the Russians — officially competing as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The team has 39 points heading into Monday’s free skates in the other three disciplines. Canada’s deep and powerful team has 45 points, and will be favored in free dance after two-time Olympic medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir laid down a superb short dance.

Canada also won the pairs free skate Sunday with Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, while Kaetlyn Osmond was third in the women’s short. “That was kind of what we were looking to do in the team competition, to nail a solid, season-best performance, but to have room to do it better next time,” Duhamel said. “If this was absolutely perfect it would be hard to know what to strive for next week (in the individual event).

“But I think we had a great short and a great long where we have room for improvement in both programs.” While Canada, which has stressed the importance of taking home the team gold for nearly four years after finishing second to host Russia in Sochi, the United States has been hopeful of replicating its third-place finish in 2014. That became more difficult Sunday when Italy surged within a single point, 36-35.

The difference between the two nations could come in the men’s event, where the United States appears stronger with Adam Rippon against Matteo Rizzo. “I think we have some really strong performances to come,” said Rippon, who replaced two-time U.S. champion Nathan Chen in the free skate. “For me, I just love being out here on the Olympic ice.”

Mirai Nagasu will step in for Bradie Tennell in the women’s event. Tennell was fifth in the short program, which cost the Americans some points because Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the 2014 women’s bronze winner, came in second.

Kostner’s graceful performance was highlighted by a series of exquisite spins. Her artistry can be spellbinding — sort of how figure skating used to be before the current focus on technical elements. She would be considered a favorite to finish ahead of Nagasu in the free skate, although Nagasu has a weapon none of the other skaters carries: a triple axel.

“What is going to happen is just going to add to the love I feel for the sport and the love I want to share with the audience,” said Kostner, 30 and in her fourth games. Her teammates, Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek, were sensational in the pairs free skate to place second, two spots in front of American champs Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim. That really tightened up the bronze race.

Marchei was so thrilled at the end of their routine she let out a scream heard over the cheering crowd. When their 138.44 was posted, Marchei screamed again in delight. Even with those Viva Italia moments, though, the day belonged to Canada. And, of course, to Medvedeva, who will step aside Monday for European champion Alina Zagitova — her training partner who snapped Medvedeva’s two-year winning streak at Euros.

“It’s not like I imagined, much calmer,” Medvedeva said of the Olympic environment, adding she won’t celebrate her record too much because “there’s a lot of work to come.”

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Royal Canadian Air Force to buy air-to-air missiles from U.S.

by James Laporta

Washington (UPI)

Nov 1, 2017

The State Department announced Wednesday a possible sale of up to 32 AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles to one of America’s “Five Eyes” partner, Canada.

Congress was notified of the possible $140 million sale on Tuesday, which includes the 32 AMRAAMs, as well as 18 AMRAAM Captive Air Training Missiles; four AMRAAM Non-Development Item-Airborne Instrumentation Units, two AMRAAM Instrumented Test Vehicles, seven spare AMRAAM guidance units and four spare AMRAAM control sections for use on their F/A-18 aircrafts.

“Included in the sale are containers; storage and preservation; transportation; aircrew and maintenance training; training aids and equipment, spares and repair parts; warranties; weapon system support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; software development, integration, and support; system integration and testing; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support; and other related elements of logistics and program support,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release.

The missiles will be used on Royal Canadian Air Force fighter aircraft and are said to contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally.

DSCA says the sale of armament is required to support the Royal Canadian Air Force fighters to “optimally fulfill” both North American Aerospace Defense and NATO missions. The deal also meets the U.S. Northern Command’s goals of combined air operation’s interoperability and standardization between Canadian and U.S. forces, according to the press statement.

The State Department assesses that the proposed sale of equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region, in addition to having no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of the sale.

Raytheon Missile Systems, out of Tucson, Ariz., will provide the equipment and support for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Royal_Canadian_Air_Force_to_buy_air-to-air_missiles_from_US_999.html.

Canadian gold company suspends investments in Greek mines

September 11, 2017

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold, one of Greece’s largest foreign investors, said Monday it planned to suspend investment at its mines in Greece following what it said are government delays in the issuing of permits and licenses.

Eldorado, which runs Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold, operates mines in northern Greece that have faced vehement opposition from parts of local communities on environmental grounds, with protests often turning violent.

Eldorado said in an announcement it would continue maintenance and environmental safeguards, but would make no further investment in three mines in the Halkidiki area of northern Greece and two projects in the northeastern province of Thrace.

“Delays continue in issuing routine permits and licences for the construction and development of the Skouries and Olympias projects in Halkidiki, northern Greece,” the company said. “These permitting delays have negatively impacted Eldorado’s project schedules and costs, ultimately hindering the company’s ability to effectively advance development and operation of these assets.”

The company, which employs more than 2,000 people in Greece, said the “suspension and termination of contractors and employees” would be done according to Greek law. On Sunday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted his left-led coalition government was friendly towards business and investments.

“This government is friendly towards entrepreneurship and investments,” Tsipras said during his annual news conference at a trade fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki. But he stressed that “we want investments, we want a healthy business environment, but we want to protect labor relations and the environment.”

Reacting to Eldorado’s announcement, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said that according to the contract signed between the company and the Greek state, differences would be resolved through arbitration.

“This is the phase we are at now,” he said, adding that the company’s stance “shows intolerance towards Greek legality.” “It might be a move of political pressure towards the government at a crucial time,” Skourletis said, noting the announcement came during the Thessaloniki trade fair where the prime minister traditionally lays out his economic policy.

He insisted Greece was friendly towards foreign investments, but that the Canadian project, being a mining operation, was a special case. “Such kinds of investments no longer exist in the rest of Europe. They’re not allowed due to the great environmental cost they have,” Skourletis said. “So it’s wrong to connect this particular case with the general picture in the area of investments (in Greece).”

The company said it was still awaiting details from the government regarding pending arbitration, and pointed out that Greece’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, had issued 18 decisions in its favor in various permit disputes.

Greece has been struggling to emerge from a deep financial crisis that has wiped out more than a quarter of its economy and left the country reliant on three international bailouts. Attracting foreign investment has been seen as a key in standing on its own feet again.

But the Halkidiki mines have been mired in controversy for decades, with Eldorado’s predecessors facing similar protests. Many in the local communities are vehemently opposed to the development of the mines on environmental grounds, saying local forests would be decimated and groundwater could be contaminated. The company has countered that it’s carrying out environmental cleanup work even of its predecessors and rejects accusations of pollution.

When first elected on an anti-bailout platform in 2015, Tsipras’ government initially moved to suspend some of the permits that had been granted to the mining company. Eldorado said the Skoures and Olympias projects and Stratoni mine would start being placed “on care and maintenance” starting Sept. 22, at an estimated cost of $30 million, while environmental protection work would continue. It said sustaining maintenance costs would be roughly $25 million per year.

“It is extremely unfortunate to find ourselves at this impasse when we should be advancing an important commercial project in partnership with Greece and adding another 1,200 jobs to our current workforce of approximately 2,400 people,” Eldorado Gold President George Burns said.

The company bought the old Kassandra Mines for nearly $2 billion in 2012. Burns said it had since invested a further $1 billion in Greece, a figure which would double if the company could fully develop its assets in Greece.

“However, as a result of the delay in issuing permits by the Greek government, Eldorado is unable to continue investing in the country,” Burns said. The company president has scheduled a news conference in Athens later Monday morning.

Canada commemorates the centenary of the Vimy WWI battle

April 09, 2017

PARIS (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among the dignitaries commemorating the centenary of the World War I battle of Vimy, in northern France. About 20,000 people, including many Canadians, are expected to attend the ceremony Sunday, including French President Francois Hollande and British royals Princes Charles, William and Harry.

On April 9, 1917, the Canadians succeeded in taking the German’s strategic post on Vimy Ridge — where past British and French attempts had failed. The move cost 3,600 dead and over 7,000 injured in three days.

The battle has become an important part of Canada’s national identity, symbolizing the shift from a former British colony to a nation on its own. The Vimy memorial also pays tribute to the 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died in France and have no known graves.

Trudeau to mark 100 years of Vimy battle that defined Canada

April 08, 2017

VIMY, France (AP) — An ocean away from home, spilling their blood on a remote ridge in the muddied battlefields of northern France a century ago, many would argue that Canadians earned nationhood. Vimy Ridge has become much more than speck on a French map, even much more than a famous World War I battle. In a fledgling nation looking for a sense of self, trying to set it apart from British rule, the battle provided everything it needed — the vision of an underdog beating the odds, a show of courage, resolve and unity.

“It made the Canadian Corps think it could do anything. It made the soldiers believe that they were really good soldiers, better than anybody else. They had done something that the British and French were not able to do,” said Professor Jack Granatstein, a Canadian military historian.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to visit the fertile countryside, where any hill with a view was fought over with a blind determination costing thousands of lives. British and French forces had tried for a long time but failed to take Vimy Ridge. The Canadians succeeded on April 9, 1917, battling through snow and sleet to push out the Germans who had long held the strategic post.

The Canadians came, succeeded, at the price of 3,600 dead and over 7,000 injured. In the grand scheme of the war, it amounted to little. “It did not win the war. It did not change the course of the war. It moved the Germans back several kilometers but that was it,” Granatstein said.

For the nation though, it meant everything. “In one day — in fact in one morning — these civilian volunteers from a small country with no military tradition were expected to do what the British and French had failed to do in two years,” Pierre Berton wrote in his popular 1985 book, “Vimy.”

It would take more than a year to finally budge the front line and start pushing the Germans back. The Canadians, ever more emboldened after Vimy, played their part and even were among the signatories to the Versailles Treaty.

Among the string of monuments reaching from the North Sea to Switzerland, Vimy stands out as perhaps the finest. With its surging pale columns reaching skyward, it stirs the soul. Yet statues of the Weeping Woman and two mourners, and the list of 11,285 soldiers posted “missing, presumed dead” makes it a solemn pilgrimage site.

The Vimy memorial, a revered national symbol, is on the back of Canada’s $20 bill to this day.

Rob Gillies wrote from Toronto. Dave Rising contributed from Berlin

Former Somali refugee takes over Canada’s immigration ministry

January 12, 2017

During a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a former Somali-born refugee, Ahmed Hussen, as the new Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Hussen was the first Somali-Canadian to be voted to parliament in 2015, where he represented the ruling Liberal Party of Canada. He has served on the Justice and Human Rights Committee as well as the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association.

Prior to being elected, Hussen worked as a lawyer, practicing criminal defense, immigration and refugee law. He has served on the board of the Global Enrichment Foundation, which helps women in East Africa go to university and colleges in the region, as well as the board for the Toronto-based Journalists for Human Rights.

Since his election, Hussen has become a household name among Somalis in the diaspora, as he headed the Canadian Somali Congress – a community based group that champions the interest of Somalis by engaging the Canadian authorities whiles also at it, strengthening civic engagement and integration.

His election has been touted as a symbol of the Canadian Liberal Party’s openness to immigrant communities.

Ahmed Hussen, a lawyer, and community activist came to Canada in 1993 at the age of 16 after fleeing his hometown, the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170112-former-somali-refugee-takes-over-canadas-immigration-ministry/.

Canada holds 2017 immigration target at 300,000 people

November 1, 2016

Canada said on Monday it would let 300,000 immigrants into the country in 2017, maintaining this year’s target despite recommendations to increase it to help spur economic growth and help business leaders bring in more talent.

Immigration Minister John McCallum told reporters that making the 300,000 target permanent laid the foundation for future immigration growth, and fought off the suggestion that he had lost a battle against anti-immigration forces.

“I do believe it is true that more immigrants for Canada would be a good policy for demographic reasons,” McCallum told reporters.

Some business leaders were disappointed with the decision not to increase the target to 450,000 over the next five years, as recommended by the government’s own economic advisory council two weeks ago to offset Canada’s looming demographic squeeze.

While the country bucked international trends last year to bring in thousands of Syrian refugees, it was urged by the advisory council to focus on high-skilled business talent and international students to boost economic growth, which has been tepid for years.

Corporate Canada has long complained about bureaucratic red tape in the system, saying hurdles to get work permits often make the process too slow for employers and new hires alike.

Christopher Reid, founder of software developer Sortable in Kitchener, Ontario, was disappointed by the renewed target.

“If they want to prioritize innovation, the pace that they move makes no sense to entrepreneurs,” said Reid. “Innovators aren’t going to say ‘Let’s put it off for a year.’”

Reid said he tried to hire two high-skilled workers from the United States this year but has mostly given up because the process is too onerous and too slow.

Stephen Lake, chief executive at wearable technology maker Thalmic Labs, said the slow process was the biggest challenge, but not the only one.

Lake said Canada has set the bar so high that even highly qualified candidates are not accepted for immigration – a standard that could have been relaxed if the immigration target had been raised.

“We should be rolling out the red carpet and working hard to attract this type of talent into Canada,” he said.

Under next year’s plan, the number of immigrants admitted under the economic category will increase to 172,500 from 160,600 this year, the government said. The number of refugees will decrease to 40,000 from 55,800.

Canada has a population of about 35 million.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161101-canada-holds-2017-immigration-target-at-300000-people/.

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