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1985 Air India bombing ‘single worst terrorist attack’ in Canada’s history: Trudeau

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the 1985 Air India bombing as the “single worst terrorist attack” in the country’s history as he paid tributes to the 329 victims of the Kanishka Flight 182 which was blown off mid-air.

“On this day in 1985, Canadians awoke to news that defied belief, and left our country in a state of shock and suffering,” Trudeau said yesterday, marking the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism in Canada.

Air India Flight 182, bound for London after picking up passengers in Toronto and Montreal, disappeared from radar off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985. A bomb planted on the plane in Canada in an act of terror exploded on board, killing all 329 people on board, including 280 Canadians.

“The Air India bombing remains the single worst terrorist attack in Canada’s history. This horrific act of malice and destruction left families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and brought pain that will never completely go away,” the prime minister said.

“In times of tragedy and testing, Canadians have shown that the values which bring us together inclusion, compassion, justice, and equality are much stronger than the forces that try, and fail, to wedge us apart,” Trudeau said.

“Terrorists believe, through cowardly and violent acts, that they can make us question not only our safety, but the democratic institutions that keep us safe. They are wrong. Canadians are for facts and diversity, not fear and division. Our society thrives on inclusivity, and these acts only strengthen our resolve for unity,” Trudeau said.

He said, “Canada condemns all forms of terrorism. We stand in solidarity with our allies, and the international community, in the ongoing fight to prevent radicalization and fight terrorism at home and abroad”.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my condolences to everyone everywhere who has lost loved ones to terrorism. We also thank and honour those who work each day to keep our citizens, communities, and country safe,” he said, referring to serval terror attacks across the world.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said that only one person has been brought to justice and there are those who still walk free.

“The investigation will not be completed until those have been brought to justice,” Sajjad said.

A British Columbia Supreme Court judge and a public inquiry later found that the bombings were carried out by the Babbar Khalsa, headed by former Burnaby mill worker Talwinder Singh Parmar.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan paid tributes to the Kanishka victims as flags at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria flew at half-mast.

“Canadians will never forget this act of terror that took the lives of 329 people, including 280 Canadians. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims,” Horgan said.

“Perpetrators of terrorism seek to shatter our sense of safety and peace. Their violent acts try to turn communities against one another. They seek to divide us against ourselves.

We must never allow anger, fear and hatred to take root in our hearts. We will not let these senseless acts of terror change who we are,” the Premier added.

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British PM faces defeat in historic Brexit deal vote

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Theresa May

London | British Prime Minister Theresa May faces crushing defeat in a historic vote in parliament on Tuesday over the Brexit deal she has struck with the European Union, leaving the world’s fifth biggest economy in limbo.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, Britain is still bitterly divided over what should happen next and the only suspense over the vote is the scale of May’s defeat.

The British leader’s last-minute appeals to MPs appear to have fallen on deaf ears and how much she loses by could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit — or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

“When the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this house… and ask: did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union,” May asked MPs on the eve of the vote, expected after 1900 GMT.

Opposition to the deal forced May to postpone the vote in December in the hope of winning concessions from Brussels.

EU leaders have offered only a series of clarifications but German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Strasbourg on Tuesday raised the possibility of further talks while ruling out a full re-negotiation of the text.

“Everything has been done in recent weeks and months to signal our interest in a positive decision,” Maas said.

“However, I am sceptical that the agreement can be fundamentally reopened once again,” he said.

The vote is the climax of over two years of intense national debate after the shock Brexit referendum of 2016 — a result mostly pro-Remain MPs have struggled with.

Hardline Brexiteers and Remainers oppose the agreement for different reasons and many fear it could lock Britain into an unfavourable trading relationship with the EU.

Pro- and anti-Brexit campaigners rallied outside parliament ahead of the vote. One placard read “EU Membership is the Best Deal”, another said: “No Deal? No Problem!” Uncertainty over Brexit has hit the British economy hard.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders lobby group warned MPs that Britain crashing out of the EU would be “catastrophic”.

Financial markets will also be watching the result closely, with several currency trading companies roping in extra staff for the vote and at least one putting a cap on trades to avoid excessive currency movements.

“Today’s vote is a foregone conclusion so sterling is unlikely to move significantly,” said Rebecca O’Keeffe, an analyst with online trader Interactive Investor.

“The fireworks will happen after today — when it is clear what happens next,” she said, predicting that a decision not to leave the EU would send sterling shooting up while a no-deal Brexit would send it down to record lows.

Rather than heal the divisions exposed by the Brexit referendum, the vote has reignited them. Pro-European MPs campaigning to force a second vote say they have faced death threats.

Brexit supporters have also voiced growing frustration with what they see as parliamentary blockage of their democratic vote.

Criticism of the deal is focused on an arrangement to keep open the border with Ireland by aligning Britain with some EU trade rules, if and until London and Brussels sign a new economic partnership which could take several years.

Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Northern Irish party on whom May relies for her Commons majority, told the BBC his party would not be forced into backing the deal by fears over the border.

“We fought (against) a terrorist campaign (in order) to stay part of the United Kingdom,” he said, evoking Northern Ireland’s past conflict.

“We are not going to allow bureaucrats in Brussels to separate us from the rest of the United Kingdom.” His boss Arlene Foster stressed “we cannot accept the backstop…it does violence to the union.” Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said May must call an election if she loses on Tuesday and has threatened to hold a confidence vote in her government if she does not.

In the event of a defeat, the government must set out what happens next by Monday at the latest.

Speculation is growing on both sides of the Channel that whatever the outcome May could ask to delay Brexit.

But a diplomatic source told AFP any extension would not be possible beyond June 30, when the new European Parliament will be formed.

The withdrawal agreement includes plans for a post-Brexit transition period to provide continuity until a new relationship is drawn up, in return for continued budget contributions from London.

Without it, and if there is no delay, Britain will sever 46 years of ties with its nearest neighbours with no agreement to ease the blow. (AFP) KUN

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Trade negotiations with China going well: Trump

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China

Washington | The United States is doing very well in trade negotiations with China, President Donald Trump said on Friday.

We have a massive trade negotiation going on with China. President Xi is very much involved; so am I. We’re dealing at the highest levels and we’re doing very well. We’re doing very well, Trump told reporters during a Rose Garden news conference.

“In the meantime, we’ve taken in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs from China, and from others. Our steel industry has come roaring back, and that makes me very happy, he said.

Top officials from United States and China are currently involved in trade negotiations. In November, Trump and Xi met in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Argentina.

We are doing very well. China is paying us tremendous tariffs. We’re getting billions and billions of dollars of money pouring into the Treasury of the United States, which, in history, we’ve never gotten from China. As you know, it’s been very unfair, he said.

Trump said he had a fantastic meeting with President Xi and they both like and respect each other.

One of the things that came out of that meeting was fentanyl. As you know, almost all of it comes from China. And he’s going to now criminalise the making of fentanyl, he said.

I think that could have a tremendous — and I thanked President Xi very much, he added.

Trump said his meeting with Xi in Argentina was supposed to last for about 45 minutes, but it ended up being almost four hours.

It was a great meeting. We’ll see what happens. You never know with a deal, he said.

China, he told reporters is not doing well now in economy. We are doing very well. But we’re taking in billions and billions of dollars, and I hope we’re going to make a deal with China. If we don’t, they’re paying us tens of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs. It’s not the worst thing in the world, he said.

I think we will make a deal with China. I really think they want to. I think they sort of have to. I think we’re going to have a great relationship. I think that President Xi and myself have a great relationship. Also, North Korea. We’re doing very well with North Korea, and that’s based on relationship also, he said.

Responding to a question on Apple’s recent announcement, Trump said that the American phone manufacturer would be fine.

Don’t forget this: Apple makes their product in China. I told Tim Cook, who’s a friend of mine, who I like a lot: Make your product in the United States. Build those big, beautiful plants that go on for miles, it seems. Build those plants in the United States.”

“I like that even better, he said.

“Apple makes its product in China. China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple, more than us, because they build their product mostly in China. But now he’s investing USD 350 billion because of what we did with taxes and the incentives that we created. In the United States, he’s going to build a campus, and lots of other places, Trump said.

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International News

Poll-bound Bangladesh shuts down high speed internet services, restores it 10 hrs later

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Bangladesh; Internet

Dhaka | The high-speed internet services were suspended for several hours in Bangladesh after mobile operators shut down their 3G and 4G services late Thursday following orders from the country’s telecom regulator ahead of Sunday’s general election.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issued order around 10 pm on Thursday asking the country’s four mobile operators to slow down the internet by shutting down 3G and 4G services, two days ahead of the 11th national election, mobile operators were quoted as saying by the bdnews24.com.

The high-speed 3G and 4G internet services were restored on Friday morning, after a 10-hour blackout.

The BTRC through an e-mail asked the four mobile operators to restore the 3G and 4G services around 7:30 am (on Friday) without mentioning details, the Daily Star reported quoting unnamed officials of the mobile operators.

Bangladesh is going to polls on Sunday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the 71-year-old daughter of the country’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is seeking re-election for a record fourth term, while her rival Khalida Zia, the 73-year-old widow of military dictator Ziaur Rahman, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail.

Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has alleged that thousands of its activists have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown during the campaign.

As of November, over 6 crore people are using the 3G and 4G mobile internet services in Bangladesh.

Only 2G internet would be available now, according to an e-mail sent to mobile operators by the BTRC’s engineering and operations department on Thursday.

The decision must be in effect until further notice, it said.

On Wednesday, the BTRC in a meeting with the International Internet Gateway representatives said social media sites, especially Facebook, would be blocked (to prevent the spread of fake news and propaganda messages from spreading on social media and video-sharing sites) if needed, the report said.

Earlier, Bangladesh’s Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed had said that they would consider completely blocking mobile internet during the polls.

On Monday, the EC asked the BTRC to prepare to block 3G and 4G services and social media sites for three days, including December 30, the report said.

During the demonstrations for safe roads in August, the BTRC slowed down internet speed for almost 24 hours, it added.

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