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Calling app ToTok used as 'spying tool' by UAE: Report – Al Jazeera English

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A chat and voice calling app is being used as a “spying tool” by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a New York Times (NYT) investigation has revealed.

ToTok, an app released earlier this year, is tracking “every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones,” NYT investigators and American officials familiar with classified intelligence claimed in the report on Sunday.

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The app has been downloaded millions of times through Google and Apple app stores in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, according to the NYT.

Breej Holdings, the company behind ToTok, is likely to be a front company for cyber intelligence and hacking firm Dark Matter, the Times claimed, and is currently under investigation for cybercrimes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

The app has been removed from Google store [Screenshot]

Both companies had removed the app from their stores last week after NYT reporters contacted their representatives about the app’s link with the UAE state.

The report also linked ToTok to the artificial intelligence firm PAX AI, a data-mining firm based in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, with ties to Dark Matter. 

A former National Security Agency (NSA) official, who performed a forensic analysis on the app for the Times, said ToTok appeared to be a duplicate of the Chinese app YeeCall. 

The spokesmen for the Emirati government, PAX AI and Breej Holding all refused to respond to any of the NYT’s queries. 

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The UAE has been under scrutiny for conducting surveillance operations on its critics, helped by cybersecurity companies and experts linked to Israel and the United States.

Reports this year revealed how a group of former NSA operatives and other elite US intelligence veterans helped the UAE spy on a wide range of targets through the previously undisclosed programme – from “terrorists” to human rights activists, journalists and dissidents.

According to a NYT report last year, the UAE asked the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO group to hack into the phones of the Qatari emir and a Saudi prince among other political and regional rivals. 

The spyware was also implicated in the gruesome killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.

Several alleged targets of the spyware, including a close friend of Khashoggi and several Mexican civil society figures, are currently suing NSO in an Israeli court over the hacking.

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City to bring back shared-use streets for physical distancing outdoors – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
The City of Edmonton is putting the finishing touches on a plan to turn some of its streets into shared-use spaces like it did in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

Edmonton’s lead urban strategist said a “set of locations similar to 2020 will be implemented with some changes based on previous observed activities” beginning in the spring.

According to Charity Dyke, her team is finishing consulting with stakeholders to finalize the list.

In 2020, 28 kilometres of shared space was found through lane and street closures, like on Saskatchewan Drive and Victoria Promenade.

“Feedback received included appreciation of the extra space provided to Edmontonians to get outside for both recreation and essential trips and desire from some groups for space to be provided on a larger number of roadways,” Dyke said.

“I think it’s a great idea, especially in high-traffic areas,” Summit Drive resident Val Guiltner told CTV News Edmonton. “It does make space for people to ride their bikes and have their strollers out and go for runs in groups, go for bike rides in groups.”

But a resident of a neighbouring community, Scott Mather, found only some of the 2020 shared-space accommodations useful.

Of the hill going past the Victoria Golf Course he said, “That gets a ton of human traffic, so that one totally made sense.”

But if the city were to consider turning Summit Drive into a shared-use path, Mather commented, “We use this street a ton and quite honestly, this sidewalk’s probably sufficient. Our goal is just to get into the river valley and there’s no traffic there.”

LOOKING FOR FEEDBACK

Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack asked city administration earlier in the week about expanding the 2020 project.

He considers last year’s experiment mostly successful, noting there were challenges on arterial roads where a lane was taken away.

It’s being left to communities to approach the city if they feel there is a need for a shared-use path there.

“If we have a community that says, ‘Hey, here’s a roadway that gets a lot of foot traffic, gets a lot of bike traffic and it’s a local road,'” Knack said, “why not give them the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, we could designate this a shared street?””

He expects consultations and planning to take another month before any announcements are made.

But, he said there may be potential for the idea to become permanent.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for a long-term way to help with getting people active. I actually think they also have the opportunity to help with traffic safety concerns.”

In 2020, the shared-use paths were active from April to the end of October at a cost of about $119,500 to the city.

That price, Dyke noted, related to putting up signs, was another concern the city was looking to address in 2021.

She also said traffic levels had returned to near pre-pandemic volumes by the end of the fall, when they started to decrease as the province introduced more restrictions. Currently, traffic volumes sit about 19 per cent lower than normal.

According to a University of Alberta study of the effectiveness and safety of the expanded path system, there was a 52 per cent reduction in the number of physical-distancing violations for Saskatchewan Drive, and a 25 per cent reduction on Victoria Promenade. 

Also like last year, the city will continue allowing businesses to expand their patio or storefront onto public street or sidewalk space in 2021.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson 

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AJAC announces six finalists for its 2021 Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards – Inspired Traveler

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Here is Shopicar! All models of the year and all current promotions.

In the “Canadian Car of the Year” category, the three finalists are the Genesis G80, Kia K5 and Mazda3. Note, this last model is the reigning champion in this category.

The models still in contention for the Canadian Utility of the Year award are the Genesis GV80, the Kia Telluride and the Nissan Rogue.

The Canadian Car of the Year and Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year awards are normally held during the opening ceremonies of the Toronto Auto Show, an event which of course was canceled this year in due to the pandemic.

AJAC has announced that this year’s awards ceremony will be broadcast live on television for the first time. The winners will be revealed on the Global Network’s Morning Show on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST.

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Quebec reports 749 new COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths as province expands vaccine access – The Daily Courier

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Quebec continued to escalate its vaccination drive over the weekend, reporting Saturday that the past 24 hours had seen it deliver a single-day high of nearly 20,000 shots to its growing list of eligible residents.

The 19,865 jabs administered on Friday mark the most the province has reported in a single day and come as vaccine shipments ramp up across Canada following numerous international shipment delays.

To date, provincial figures show 532,012 doses of vaccine have been administered out of a total of 638,445 received from the federal government.

Provincial health minister Christian Dube highlighted the upward trend in a tweet on Saturday.

“Vaccinations have [increased] over the last few days and will continue to [increase], with other regions in addition to Montreal beginning mass vaccination next week,” Dube wrote.

Until recently, Quebec has concentrated its vaccination effort on particular groups such as health-care workers, people living in remote regions and seniors in long-term care facilities.

The government began allowing members of the general public to schedule appointments to receive their vaccines recently, with eligibility varying by region. In Montreal and Laval, for example, people over the age of 70 can book appointments, while slots are restricted to people over 80 in other regions.

More regions are scheduled to expand vaccine access to those in different age groups starting next week.

In addition to the vaccine numbers, Quebec reported 749 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday along with 10 new deaths linked to the virus.

Hospitalizations across the province declined by 16 to 601 over the past 24 hours, while the number of patients in intensive care declined by two to 109.

Quebec’s case numbers have stabilized in recent weeks, prompting officials to relax restrictions in some regions.

Starting on March 8, areas such as Estrie and Capitale-Nationale will be designated as “orange zones,” meaning the provincewide curfew will be extended until 9:30 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. More businesses, including restaurants, will also be allowed to open at limited capacity.

Quebec premier Francois Legault has said that Montreal and the surrounding areas will not see any imminent changes in public health restrictions, warning that more contagious variants of the virus could prompt a sharp uptick in the number of cases in the region.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

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