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Canada’s homicide rate breaks record

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Canada’s homicide rate has reached a 16-year high, and rising numbers in British Columbia are partly to blame, according to the latest national data.

A report by the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics shows 788 homicides were reported nationwide in 2021.

That means the national rate increased by three per cent to 2.06 homicides per 100,000 population, representing the highest rate since 2005.

The authors of the Statistics Canada report define homicides as first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and infanticide. They released their findings Monday morning, noting “this overall increase in the number of homicides in Canada was associated mainly with increases since 2020 in Ontario (277 homicides; +37) and British Columbia (125 homicides; +25).”

British Columbia is in a three-way tie with Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador for the largest percentage rise in homicide rate in 2021.

It’s the second consecutive year B.C. has reported an increase of this kind, and the third year in a row that national numbers have risen. By contrast, neighbouring Alberta reported 23 fewer homicides in 2020, marking one of the largest decreases in the country.

The census metropolitan area of Vancouver is singled out as the region with the largest annual increase in the number of homicides, after reporting 60 homicides, which is 14 more than the number in 2020. The region spans B.C.’s Lower Mainland, from Bowen Island in the west to Aldergrove further east.

Twenty-nine of the reported homicides were gang-related, which is 13 more than the year before and makes Vancouver’s census metropolitan area the region with the largest rise in victims of that crime.

Following Toronto, Vancouver came in second when it comes to the highest number of homicides against racialized people (28).

The report emphasizes that homicides accounted for less than 0.2 per cent of all police-reported violent crimes in 2021, and remain “relatively rare events” in Canada.

“Nevertheless, the occurrence of homicide is generally regarded as an important benchmark for community safety and well-being. Policy makers in Canada and abroad look at the incidence of homicides to assess the extent of violence in society, and to determine the appropriate response,” the report explains.

The latest data follows a rare press conference by B.C.’s newly-elected premier David Eby on Sunday, when he announced the “Safer Communities Action Plan” to deal with the province’s public safety issues.

Focusing on repeat offenders, expanding counseling and mental health response teams, and laying out a smoother route from emergency crisis response to long-term treatment are some of the key components of the strategy.

CTV News has reached out to police in Vancouver, as well as Canada’s public safety minister for comment on the findings, but has not received any responses yet.

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With AI, jets and police squadrons, Paris is securing the Olympics – and worrying critics

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PARIS (AP) — A year ago, the head of the Paris Olympics boldly declared that France’s capital would be “ the safest place in the world ” when the Games open this Friday. Tony Estanguet’s confident forecast looks less far-fetched now with squadrons of police patrolling Paris’ streets, fighter jets and soldiers primed to scramble, and imposing metal-fence security barriers erected like an iron curtain on both sides of the River Seine that will star in the opening show.

France’s vast police and military operation is in large part because the July 26-Aug. 11 Games face unprecedented security challenges. The city has repeatedly suffered deadly extremist attacks and international tensions are high because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Rather than build an Olympic park with venues grouped together outside of the city center, like Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or London in 2012, Paris has chosen to host many of the events in the heart of the bustling capital of 2 million inhabitants, with others dotted around suburbs that house millions more. Putting temporary sports arenas in public spaces and the unprecedented choice to stage a river-borne opening ceremony stretching for kilometers (miles) along the Seine, makes safeguarding them more complex.

Olympic organizers also have cyberattack concerns, while rights campaigners and Games critics are worried about Paris’ use of AI-equipped surveillance technology and the broad scope and scale of Olympic security.

Paris, in short, has a lot riding on keeping 10,500 athletes and millions of visitors safe. Here’s how it aims to do it.

The security operation, by the numbers

A Games-time force of up to 45,000 police and gendarmes is also backed up by a 10,000-strong contingent of soldiers that has set up the largest military camp in Paris since World War II, from which soldiers should be able to reach any of the city’s Olympic venues within 30 minutes.

Armed military patrols aboard vehicles and on foot have become common in crowded places in France since gunmen and suicide bombers acting in the names of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group repeatedly struck Paris in 2015. They don’t have police powers of arrest but can tackle attackers and restrain them until police arrive. For visitors from countries where armed street patrols aren’t the norm, the sight of soldiers with assault rifles might be jarring, just as it was initially for people in France.

“At the beginning, it was very strange for them to see us and they were always avoiding our presence, making a detour,” said Gen. Éric Chasboeuf, deputy commander of the counter-terror military force, called Sentinelle.

“Now, it’s in the landscape,” he said.

Rafale fighter jets, airspace-monitoring AWACS surveillance flights, Reaper surveillance drones, helicopters that can carry sharpshooters, and equipment to disable drones will police Paris skies, which will be closed during the opening ceremony by a no-fly zone extending for 150 kilometers (93 miles) around the capital. Cameras twinned with artificial intelligence software — authorized by a law that expands the state’s surveillance powers for the Games — will flag potential security risks, such as abandoned packages or crowd surges,

France is also getting help from more than 40 countries that, together, have sent at least 1,900 police reinforcements.

Trump assassination attempt highlights Olympic risks

Attacks by lone individuals are major concern, a risk driven home most recently to French officials by the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.

Some involved in the Olympic security operation were stunned that the gunman armed with an AR-style rifle got within range of the former U.S. president.

“No one can guarantee that there won’t be mistakes. There, however, it was quite glaring,” said Gen. Philippe Pourqué, who oversaw the construction of a temporary camp in southeast Paris housing 4,500 soldiers from the Sentinelle force.

In France, in the last 13 months alone, men acting alone have carried out knife attacks that targeted tourists in Paris, and children in a park in an Alpine town, among others. A man who stabbed a teacher to death at his former high school in northern France in October had been under surveillance by French security services for suspected Islamic radicalization.

With long and bitter experience of deadly extremist attacks, France has armed itself with a dense network of police units, intelligence services and investigators who specialize in fighting terrorism, and suspects in terrorism cases can be held longer for questioning.

Hundreds of thousands of background checks have scrutinized Olympic ticket-holders, workers and others involved in the Games and applicants for passes to enter Paris’ most tightly controlled security zone, along the Seine’s banks. The checks blocked more than 3,900 people from attending, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. He said some were flagged for suspected Islamic radicalization, left- or right-wing political extremism, significant criminal records and other security concerns.

“We’re particularly attentive to Russian and Belorussian citizens,” Darmanin added, although he stopped short of linking exclusions to Russia’s war in Ukraine and Belarus’ role as an ally of Moscow.

Darmanin said 155 people considered to be “very dangerous” potential terror threats are also being kept away from the opening ceremony and the Games, with police searching their homes for weapons and computers in some cases.

He said intelligence services haven’t identified any proven terror plots against the Games “but we are being extremely attentive.”

Critics fear intrusive Olympic security will stay after the Games

Campaigners for digital rights worry that Olympic surveillance cameras and AI systems could erode privacy and other freedoms, and zero in on people without fixed homes who spend a lot of time in public spaces.

Saccage 2024, a group that has campaigned for months against the Paris Games, took aim at the scope of the Olympic security, describing it as a “repressive arsenal” in a statement to The Associated Press.

“And this is not a French exception, far from it, but a systematic occurrence in host countries,” it said. “Is it reasonable to offer one month of ‘festivities’ to the most well-off tourists at the cost of a long-term securitization legacy for all residents of the city and the country?”



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The world is on the brink. Canada is not ready – National Post

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The world is on the brink. Canada is not ready  National Post

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Kayaker dies after accident in Quebec’s Mauricie region on Saturday

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MONTREAL – A kayaker has died after capsizing in Quebec’s Mauricie region on Saturday.

Quebec provincial police says emergency services were called at about 12:15 p.m. to a site on the Matawin River near Trois-Rives, about 110 kilometres west of Quebec City.

They say the initial call described a person in distress.

The kayaker, a man in his 50s, is believed to have capsized while paddling on the river.

He was missing for a period of time before being pulled from the water by other kayakers.

The victim was taken to hospital, but police confirmed late Saturday that he had died.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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