Russia wants to stretch out imaginary lines on the ocean floor — and below it — and that has one northern security expert worried about consequences for other Arctic countries like Canada.
Last week, Russia filed a submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend a claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed.
The UN still has to review the submission but, if it’s approved, Russia would have exclusive rights to resources in the seabed and below it, and not in the water.
The new submission would push Russia’s claim all the way up to Canada’s exclusive economic zone, an area 200 nautical miles from the coastline, in which Canadians have sole rights to fish, drill and pursue other economic activities.
Philip Steinberg, a political geography professor at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, estimates Russia’s submission expands its original claim by about 705,000 square kilometres.
‘A maximalist submission’
Robert Huebert, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, said Russia’s request gets as close to Canada’s 200-mile limit as possible.
“This is a maximalist submission. You cannot claim any more,” said Huebert, an Arctic security and defence analyst with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
Countries have sovereignty over their zones but can submit scientific evidence to the UN to claim control over the soil and subsoil of the extended continental shelf.
Here’s a situation where they’re claiming the entire Canadian and Danish continental shelf as part of their continental shelf.– Robert Huebert, University of Calgary political science professor
Russia’s amended submission overlaps with those from Canada and Denmark, but does not extend into the north of Alaska.
“In effect, they’re claiming the entire Arctic Ocean as their continental shelf in regards to where their Arctic comes up against Canada’s and Denmark’s,” Huebert said.
The claims from Canada, Denmark (on behalf of Greenland), and Russia already overlap at the North Pole, but the amended claim goes beyond that, Huebert said.
“We haven’t seen a country before that’s extended over its neighbours. Here’s a situation where they’re claiming the entire Canadian and Danish continental shelf as part of their continental shelf.”
Huebert noted there have been recent reports of an increased Russian military presence on the Ukrainian border over the last two weeks.
“If the Russians reinvigorate the conflict with Ukraine, that is going to spill into all of this.” he said.
“I don’t think anyone should assume that Russia will do anything less than pursue its maximum foreign policy interests.”
‘Playing by the rules’
Whitney Lackenbauer, a professor at Trent University who specializes in circumpolar affairs, disagrees.
“Russia is playing by the rules. And for those of us who are concerned about Russia’s flouting of the rules-based order, I actually take a great deal of comfort in seeing Russia go through the established process in this particular case,” Lackenbauer said.
He believes Russia’s submission signals eventual talks between the three countries to determine the limits of their continental shelves.
“Setting out to negotiate where the outermost limits would be was something that was always in the cards,” Lackenbauer said.
“I’m not worried about Russia’s actions as an Arctic coastal state seeking to determine the outermost limits of its extended continental shelf.”
Nor is he concerned about potential conflict, since Russia has submitted the required scientific evidence.
“You can’t sit on a continental shelf and claim squatter’s rights to it.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canada “remains firmly committed to exercising in full its sovereign rights in the Arctic” according to international law.
The statement also said Russia’s revised outer limit “does not establish new rights for Russia over the newly created overlap areas.”
It said Canada is studying Russia’s revised claim on its outer limits to prepare an appropriate response.
The Suez Canal chief said Tuesday that authorities are negotiating a financial settlement with the owners of a massive vessel that blocked the crucial waterway for nearly a week.
Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie told The Associated Press he hoped talks with Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Japanese owner of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given, will conclude without a lawsuit.
“We are discussing with them a peaceful resolution to the matter without resorting to the judiciary,” he said. He maintained that bringing the case before a court would be more harmful to the firm than settling with the canal’s management.
The canal chief said last week the Suez Canal Authority was expecting more than $ 1 billion US in compensation, warning the ship would not be allowed to leave the canal if the issue of damages turns into a legal dispute.
That amount takes into account the salvage operation, costs of stalled traffic and lost transit fees for the week that the Ever Given blocked the canal. He did not specify then who would be responsible for paying the compensation.
The massive cargo ship is currently in one of the canal’s holding lakes, where authorities and the ship’s managers say an investigation is ongoing.
Rabie also said Tuesday investigators have analyzed data from the Voyage Data Recorder, also known as a vessel’s black box, but no conclusion had yet been reached on what led the Ever Given to run aground.
He refused to discuss possible causes, including the ship’s speed and the high winds that buffeted it during a sandstorm, saying he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. Initial reports suggested a “blackout” struck the vessel, something denied by the ship’s technical manager.
Last week, salvage teams freed the Ever Given, ending a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce.
“We’ve achieved one of the world’s biggest salvage operations under difficult and complicated circumstances … in only six days,” Rabie said.
The Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe ran aground on March 23 in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula.
Its bow was touching the eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall — an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening in the canal’s 150-year history.
“The case that we had was complicated and non-traditional, so there should have been a non-traditional solution,” Rabie said.
WATCH | Tugboats help free ship in Suez Canal:
The gigantic container ship Ever Given has been freed from a sandy bank in Egypt’s Suez Canal after a team of tugboats helped pull its heavy bow from the shore and send it on its way. 0:56
He said they relied on dredgers to remove sand from underneath the hulking vessel.
Then, a flotilla of tugboats, aided by the tides, wrenched the bulbous bow of Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged.
Rabie said it was a difficult decision to use dredgers because it was the first time authorities had used such machines in rescue operations in the canal. But it proved fruitful, he said.
The unprecedented six-day shutdown, which raised fears of extended delays, goods shortages and rising costs for consumers, added strain on the shipping industry already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
The canal authority said it cleared a maritime traffic jam that had grown to more than 420 vessels waiting on both ends of the Suez Canal and in the Great Bitter Lake and the canal was back to its normal average.
B.C.’s provincial health officer is seeking an injunction prohibiting gatherings by three Christian churches that are challenging her orders suspending in-person religious services.
Lawyers for Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C.’s attorney general will be in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday seeking orders against the leaders of Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, Abbotsford’s Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack.
The province filed an application for the injunction last week along with a response to a petition by the churches and a handful of others who want to overturn Henry’s orders.
According to the court documents, the province is seeking an order that would prevent elders and members from gathering to worship in their churches and from organizing celebrations, ceremonies, baptisms, funerals or any other “event” as defined by Henry’s orders.
The order would also authorize police to detain anyone they have grounds to believe is planning to attend a religious service organized by any of the three churches.
Freedoms ‘not absolute’
The application for the injunction comes just days after Henry announced an indefinite extension to the orders she issued last November suspending all events and social gatherings in an effort to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
In a petition filed in early January, pastors with the three Fraser Valley Christian churches claim that Henry is violating rights to expression and religious worship guaranteed by the Constitution by shutting churches while allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open.
Their petition seeks to overturn the order against in-person worship.
The province filed a response to the petition last week, claiming there is “no question that restrictions on gatherings to avoid transmission of (COVID-19) limit rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
But the province says the limits are justified.
“Rights and freedoms under the charter are not absolute,” the response says.
Protection of the vulnerable from death or severe illness and protection of the health-care system from being swamped by an out-of-control pandemic is also clearly of constitutional importance.– Provincial response to petition
“Protection of the vulnerable from death or severe illness and protection of the health-care system from being swamped by an out-of-control pandemic is also clearly of constitutional importance.”
Offer ‘sadly rings hollow,’ pastor says
An affidavit from acting deputy provincial health officer Dr. Brian Emerson states that the science shows that COVID-19 spreads better in indoor settings where people from different households gather for longer than 15 minutes.
“Clusters of COVID cases stemming from religious gatherings and religious activities have been noted since the onset of the pandemic globally, nationally and in British Columbia,” the application for the injunction says.
The province’s response says Henry wrote to pastors at the Riverside Calvary Chapel and the Free Reformed Church in December after she became aware of their intention to defy her orders.
The pastor of the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack allegedly wrote back to say Henry’s “offer to consider a request from our church to reconsider your order sadly rings hollow.”
The court documents say Henry consulted widely with faith leaders before issuing the order to suspend in-person religious services.
Churches also have the ability to ask for reconsideration under Section 43 of the Public Health Act.
The response says one such application led to an exemption for synagogues to hold services in open tents with no more than 25 people present.
The three churches at the heart of the lawsuit allegedly filed for reconsideration at the end of January — after suing the government.
The province says no decision should be made on the petition to overturn Henry’s orders until she has had a chance to consider their applications for an exemption from the rules.
Province cites threat of variants
The province’s application for an injunction says complying with Henry’s orders at this point is “critical” because of the threat posed by 18 cases of new variants of the coronavirus first detected in the U.K. and South Africa that have been found in B.C.
The province says the churches have provided no evidence from anybody with a scientific or medical background to say the orders are not reasonable.
“By contrast, the Attorney General and Provincial Health Officer have provided evidence that transmission occurs in social settings … that there is evidence from British Columbia, Canada and around the world of transmission in gatherings, and in particular, religious gatherings,” the application for the injunction says.
The churches are being represented by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
In a statement, lawyer Marty Moore said the province’s data claims that 180 positive COVID cases have been associated with religious services but does not indicate whether health guidelines were being followed.
“Our clients continue to diligently implement health guidelines and protocols to minimize any risk of COVID transmission, and will be providing the court with evidence attesting to the safety of their services,” Moore wrote.
“The actions of the government to seek an injunction against these three churches who have brought a petition for judicial review of the public health orders does not appear to reflect a genuine effort to advance public health concerns.”
‘Grassroots’ Christian group seeks intervenor status
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson is scheduled to hear an application to intervene in the case from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), a group that describes itself as a “grassroots Christian political advocacy organization.”
According to the application, the group speaks for reformed Christians who attend 165 congregations in Canada, including 28 in B.C.
“The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the practice of in-person public worship (including celebrating communion) has been the top issue of concern for ARPA Canada’s constituency since March 2020,” the application reads.
“That constituency has been profoundly impacted by the orders under review in this proceeding — likely more so than certain other religious groups.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Wednesday it was seeking a partial recount of Wisconsin’s presidential election results as part of its long-shot attempt to reverse president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
The president is also clinging to hope that a manual recount ordered by the state of Georgia can erase Biden’s 14,000-vote lead there and is also challenging results in the swing state of Michigan.
While staying out of the public eye, Trump has persisted in venting his anger on Twitter, where he has made numerous claims of election fraud to try to explain his loss, unsupported by evidence and demonstrably untrue.
Election officials in Wisconsin, as well as in Georgia, said recounts in those states were very unlikely to reverse Trump’s losses.
Trump’s unfounded claims about the election having been rigged are failing in courts, but opinion polls show they have a political benefit, with as many as half of Republicans believing them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
His campaign on Wednesday transferred $ 3 million US to Wisconsin to cover the costs of recounting votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties, two heavily Democratic areas, less than the $ 7.9 million it would have cost for a full statewide recount.
Biden, a Democrat, won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes to lead Trump 49.5 per cent to 48.8 per cent.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said a recount would start on Friday and finish within days. Only a few hundred votes changed in the county’s recount after the 2016 presidential election, he said.
“My guess would be that by focusing on Dane and Milwaukee the end result will be that Biden will have a slight increase in votes, but nothing terribly significant — certainly nothing anywhere near what would be required for changing the outcomes,” McDonell said.
Trump’s refusal to concede the Nov. 3 election is blocking the smooth transition to a new administration and complicating Biden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when he takes office on Jan. 20.
In the state-by-state electoral college that determines the overall election winner, Biden captured 306 votes to the Republican Trump’s 232. He won the popular vote by more than 5.8 million.
To remain in office, Trump would need to overturn results in at least three states to reach the threshold of 270 electoral votes. That would be unprecedented.
Biden margin tightens in Georgia
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said in a video conference with journalists that as of Wednesday morning, election officials conducting the recount had reviewed 4,968,000 ballots — nearly all of those cast in the state — and found Biden’s lead over Trump in the state had fallen to 12,781 ballots.
Before the recount, Biden led by 14,156 votes, Sterling said.
Sterling said investigators would look into any claims of fraud and that in every election a small number of ballots are cast illegally. But he said there was no evidence that fraud could have changed the outcome in Georgia.
Trump on Wednesday falsely claimed that the number of votes counted in heavily Democratic Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, had surpassed the number of residents.
“In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!” he tweeted.
City records show that 250,138 votes were cast in Detroit in the presidential election. That is a little more than a third of the city’s population, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is 670,031.
December deadline to certify results
States face a Dec. 8 deadline to certify election results in time for the official electoral college vote on Dec. 14.
Congress is scheduled to count the electoral college votes on Jan. 6, which is normally a formality. But Trump supporters in the Senate and House of Representatives could object to the results in a final, long-shot attempt to deprive Biden of 270 electoral votes and turn the final decision over to the House.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed about half of Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” but that the election was stolen from him.
Seventy-three per cent of all voters polled agreed Biden won, while five per cent thought Trump won.
But when asked specifically whether Biden had “rightfully won,” 52 per cent of Republicans said Trump rightfully won, while only 29 per cent said Biden had rightfully won.
Election officials from both parties around the United States, have said there was no evidence of vote tampering, and a federal review drew the same conclusion.
Delayed transition could delay COVID-19 response
Biden and his senior advisers have said that Trump’s defiance could jeopardize efforts to contain surging COVID-19 cases and inhibit vaccine distribution planning in a country where more than 248,000 people have died from the pandemic.
Biden will meet health-care workers on the front lines of the crisis in a virtual roundtable from his home state of Delaware on Wednesday.
As he battles to save his presidency, Trump will stay in Washington over next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, rather than travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a spokesperson for Melania Trump said.
Trump on Tuesday fired the top U.S. cybersecurity official, who had irked him by refusing to support allegations of election fraud.
Chris Krebs was removed as head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
His work in protecting the election from hackers and battling disinformation about the vote won praise from lawmakers of both parties, as well as election officials around the country.
WATCH | The CBC’s Lyndsay Duncombe on Trump’s firing of Krebs and reaction to it:
U.S. President Donald Trump fired the nation’s top election security official. Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, refuted the president’s unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud. 3:18
Other Republicans cast doubt on results
Taking their cue from the president, Republicans across the country have sought to cast doubt over the election results.
In Michigan, where Biden won by 145,000 votes, two Republicans on the Wayne County board of canvassers tried to hold up Biden’s victory in that state on Tuesday, only to relent hours later.
In a county that includes the majority-Black city of Detroit and that voted overwhelmingly in favour of Biden, the two board members initially voted to block certification of the results.
But the Republicans reversed their decision after more than two hours of angry public comment, voting to certify results with the caveat that the Michigan secretary of state conduct an audit.
At a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann appeared skeptical of Trump’s request to block officials from certifying Biden’s win in that state by more than 80,000 votes.
The family of a Toronto woman admitted to hospital on suspicion of having COVID-19 is demanding answers after she had an altercation with security, which they say left her unconscious and in intensive care.
Her relatives also received no word on her condition until just days before she died.
For 11 days, as Danielle Stephanie Warriner lay alone in a hospital bed, her family had no idea where she was or that she’d been restrained by guards and would never regain consciousness.
Five days after the family was finally contacted, the 43-year-old Warriner died.
“I had no opportunity to communicate with her, I had no opportunity to support her,” her sister Denise Warriner told CBC News. “Whether it was going to help her or not, she didn’t have anybody there … It absolutely tears me apart.”
CBC News has learned two people employed with University Health Network (UHN) have been let go as a result of an ongoing internal review of what happened.
Struggles with bipolar disorder
Stephanie, as her family called her, was the younger of two sisters. Denise Warriner said her sister wore her heart on her sleeve.
“She felt everything,” Warriner said, recalling how as a child, Stephanie was fascinated with butterflies. One day, when the two girls came upon a dead butterfly in their backyard, Stephanie “just cried and cried and cried.”
“It affected her so deeply … And that’s the kind of person that she grew to be as an adult.”
As the years went on, Stephanie struggled with bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
At the best of times, she was “spunky” and “laughed at her own jokes,” her sister said. But things took a turn for the worse after a romantic breakup in March, which led to Stephanie living in a shelter.
Then, in late April, she was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
On April 21, Stephanie was admitted to Toronto General Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia. Against the advice of doctors, she left the facility multiple times, only to be brought back by police.
She was released on May 5 after further tests for the virus came back negative. But by May 10, she was back at the hospital, delirious and short of breath.
What happened next — and how Stephanie ended up dead following an incident with guards — is now the subject of a Toronto police investigation, a coroner’s investigation and an internal review by UHN, which includes Toronto General and several other hospitals.
Hospital staff let go, disciplined
For months, Denise Warriner has been trying to find out exactly what transpired after her sister was admitted to the hospital.
In addition to the two people who were let go from the hospital, two others have faced “internal disciplinary action,” UHN spokesperson Gillian Howard said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Whether these four employees were security staff or medical professionals, Howard would not specify. Nor would she say what kind of discipline they received.
The organization did not address specific questions about whether any protocol was broken, how many guards were allegedly involved or why Stephanie’s family wasn’t contacted for 11 days, saying UHN cannot discuss individual details outside a patient’s “circle of care.”
UHN also did not respond when asked about its policies around notifying emergency contacts.
“We are extremely sorry that this happened at UHN and are working with the family, the Coroner and the Toronto Police Service to ensure that this incident is fully understood and the appropriate actions are taken now and in the future,” the statement said.
It’s the first major development Stephanie’s family has seen since her death — one her sister says they only learned about from speaking with CBC News.
“This is complete news to me … I don’t think that shows a commitment to transparency,” Denise Warriner said.
Handcuffed, later went into cardiac arrest
According to what her family has been able to piece together from medical records, Stephanie made her way to Toronto General Hospital on May 10, with confusion and shortness of breath. In addition to her mental health issues, she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition with symptoms that can resemble those of COVID-19.
This time, a doctor told her, she would need to stay put. Not surprisingly to her sister, she tried to leave the next day.
Security was called to track her down, and told that she might have COVID-19. By the time they found her, Stephanie had made it down to the hospital’s main floor.
How much of a physical threat must she have been 5’4″, 120 lbs. and unable to breathe?– Denise Warriner
According to records seen by CBC News, security located her outside a service elevator, where she became “combative.” She was handcuffed and shortly after, went into cardiac arrest.
She was revived and taken to intensive care, where she began having seizures. On May 20, she was transferred to Toronto Western Hospital. At the time, her family was still unaware of what had happened to her.
‘How much of a physical threat must she have been?’
Meanwhile, Denise Warriner had been trying to track her sister down. She had made calls to police and various hospitals, and was getting ready to file a missing person’s report.
“[They] knew who I was, [they] knew where I was and I was grasping at straws trying to contact her,” Warriner said, noting she was listed as her sister’s emergency contact and had been phoned during previous hospital stays.
It wasn’t until May 22 — 11 days after the incident with guards —that Warriner finally got a phone call. It was Toronto Western Hospital, which said her sister was in intensive care with a brain injury.
By May 27, Stephanie was dead, leaving her family reeling and with many questions.
“How much of a physical threat must she have been [at] 5’4″, 120 lbs. and unable to breathe? Where is the reasonable threat assessment here?” Denise Warriner asked.
She also asked why the hospital didn’t issue a “code white,” which would have sent in staff trained in de-escalation —something the hospital would not comment on when asked by CBC News.
“There’s just so many gaps, so much information missing … It smells like rotten apples,” Warriner said.
Denied access to video footage
CBC News has confirmed video footage of the incident exists — but so far, the family has not been allowed to see it.
Toronto Police have so far turned down Denise Warriner’s requests to view the footage, she said, telling her instead to file an access to information request. That request was denied.
Meanwhile, she has sent a letter to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and the detective in charge of the case, pleading for the video to be shared with the family.
In a statement, Toronto police said they have received a letter from the family’s lawyer and are conducting a “sudden death investigation and are thoroughly reviewing all of the circumstances around it.”
“The investigators remain in contact with the family and will continue to update them as appropriate while maintaining the integrity of the investigation,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, as Warriner’s fight for answers continues, she finds herself again in the role of Stephanie’s bodyguard, as she was when they were kids — only this time, her sister is no longer around.
“It just hurts my heart, it really hurts my heart,” Warriner said. “She had walked into a hospital to access help … and she leaves on her deathbed.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants the federal government to help clear the way for NHL players to come to Edmonton.
His counterpart in British Columbia, John Horgan, says his province isn’t interested in making any concessions.
The two premiers had markedly different responses to the NHL’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season, in which teams would play at two hub cities, one for each conference.
Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as Toronto, are three of the 10 cities still in the running to be host cities, should the plan come to fruition. But the NHL said Tuesday the Canadian government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country would make markets north of the 49th parallel a non-starter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenney responded by sending a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he encouraged the federal government to deem professional athletes and team staff as essential workers — similar to what U.S. officials announced late last week.
“Such an exemption from the Canadian government would be necessary for (Edmonton’s) bid,” Kenney wrote. “The Government of Alberta believes there are effective strategies in place to mitigate any risk to our province if such an exemption was granted.”
Alberta: Cohort quarantine
Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the province was working on alternatives that would still observe the 14-day quarantine.
“What we’ve put together is an opportunity for a cohort quarantine, which would mean that a group that came in from international travel, such as an individual team, would have to stay together in that quarantine period and would not be able to interact with others outside of that cohort group,” she said. “They would be effectively sealed off from the rest of the community.”
“I want to be clear we’re not talking about waiving the quarantine requirements,” Hinshaw added.
Depending on how long training camps were should the season resume, teams could feasibly conduct their camps under cohort quarantine before facing off against other teams.
B.C.: ‘Rules in place’
Horgan has been vocal about Vancouver as a hub in the past, but struck a more cautious tone than his Alberta counterpart Wednesday.
Horgan’s comments have been in line with Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer, who said the government won’t be making any concessions in a jurisdiction that has done well to minimize infections.
“We have rules in place today that we worked very hard to establish,” Horgan said.
“Because the NHL made an announcement that involved Vancouver, we’re not going to go rushing to change that. Two weeks from now, four weeks from now, it could be a completely different situation provided we continue to see the progress that we’ve seen here in British Columbia.
“I don’t want to rule out the NHL coming here. They haven’t presented a plan to us … When I talked to commissioner (Gary) Bettman, I said Dr. Henry was enthusiastic about looking at a plan and we haven’t seen one yet.”
“Today there’s a 14-day, self-isolation period in place and I expect that will be there for the foreseeable future.”
Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn filed court papers on Tuesday to withdraw his guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors had acted in “bad faith” and breached their deal with him in the Russia investigation.
The request comes one week after the Justice Department changed its position on Flynn’s punishment by recommending that he serve up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI during its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Prosecutors had earlier said Flynn was entitled to avoid prison time because of his extensive co-operation, but they changed their view after he hired new lawyers who levelled accusations of misconduct against the government.
In the court filing, defence lawyers said the Justice Department is attempting to “rewrite history” by withdrawing its recommendation that he be sentenced to probation and by suggesting he had not been forthcoming or co-operative.
“Michael T. Flynn is innocent. Mr. Flynn has co-operated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full co-operation,” the lawyers wrote.
“He endured massive, unnecessary, and frankly counterproductive demands on his time, his family, his scarce resources, and his life,” they added. “The same cannot be said for the prosecution which has operated in bad faith from the inception of the `investigation’ and continues relentlessly through this specious prosecution.”
Chinese health authorities are trying to identify what is causing an outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, officials said on Friday, as the tally of cases rose to 44 and Singapore said it would screen arrivals on flights from there.
The World Health Organization said it was aware of the reports, is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the Chinese government about it.
“Investigations are still being carried out and authorities cannot yet confirm what pathogen is causing this illness,” said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. He added that there are several potential causes of viral pneumonia, many of which are more common than SARS.
Influenza, bird flu, adenovirus ruled out
Chinese municipal health officials in Wuhan said in a statement on their website on Friday that they had ruled out common respiratory diseases, such as influenza, bird flu and adenovirus infection, as the cause.
Eleven of those infected were in critical condition and the rest stable, they said, adding that all had been isolated and doctors were observing 121 people with whom they had been in close contact.
Clean-up efforts at a seafood market where some victims were vendors have been completed, the city officials said, adding that no obvious human-to-human transmission had been seen and no medical staff had been infected.
On Friday, Singapore’s health ministry said it would begin temperature screening on passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan.
In 2003, Chinese officials covered up a SARS outbreak for weeks before a growing death toll and rumours forced the government to reveal the epidemic, apologize and vow full candour regarding future outbreaks.
The disease, which emerged in southern China late in 2002, spread rapidly to other cities and countries in 2003. More than 8,000 people were infected and 775 died.
Wuhan police this week said they had summoned eight people who “posted and forwarded false information online, causing adverse social impact.”
P.E.I. could soon have some of the strictest vaping laws in the country.
A private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle passed second reading in the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday night. The bill would restrict where vaping products can be sold, ban certain flavours, and also raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.
Deagle said he wants to make vaping products less accessible to young people, especially teenagers.
“These substances, you become addicted to nicotine. In some cases there four or five, 20 times the amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette than there is in a regular cigarette,” said Deagle.
“Teachers, principals have told me it’s an epidemic in schools. And obviously with our youth tobacco rate double the national average and seeing a 74 per cent increase in vaping amongst youth in Canada, I think we have to do something.”
The vote on the second reading was unanimous, with MLAs from all parties speaking in support of it. The discussion included the possibility of new taxes being introduced in the spring budget.
If the bill passes third reading and becomes law, P.E.I. would have the highest age restriction in the country.
Deagle said the bans on flavoured products would not come into effect right away. Those would be done through regulations in cabinet, which he said would likely be a year-long process.
Earlier this month, Health Canada issued a warning about the connections between vaping and pulmonary illness, and last week a Quebec resident was diagnosed with the nation’s first case of severe vaping-related breathing illness.