Canada’s spy agency has issued a warning about the national security risk posed by some foreign investment — but isn’t saying which state-owned enterprises and foreign state actors it’s particularly worried about.
The message was delivered in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s 2019 annual public report, tabled in Parliament today.
“Economic espionage activities in Canada continue to increase in breadth, depth and potential economic impact. Hostile foreign intelligence services or people who are working with the tacit or explicit support of foreign states, attempt to gather political, economic, commercial, academic, scientific or military information through clandestine means in Canada,” the report says.
“As difficult as it is to measure, this damage to our collective prosperity is very real.”
The report says that while most foreign investment in Canada is above-board, “a number of state-owned enterprises and private firms with close ties to their government and or intelligence services can pursue corporate acquisition bids in Canada or other economic activities.”
“Corporate acquisitions by these entities pose potential risks related to vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, control over strategic sectors, espionage and foreign influenced activities, and illegal transfer of technology and expertise,” says the annual report.
“CSIS expects that national security concerns related to foreign investments or other economic activities in Canada will continue.”
The report is just the latest word of caution from CSIS about the rise of economic espionage in Canada. Director David Vigneault has called state-sponsored commercial espionage the “greatest threat” to Canada’s economy.
The 34-page report warns of foreign economic espionage several times, but doesn’t name the state actors involved. Earlier this year, however, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), a review body made up of MPs and senators, released a report specifically calling out China and Russia for running “significant and sustained” foreign interference activities in Canada.
CSIS report flags ‘incel’ movement
CSIS’s annual report identified also touched on the threat posed in Canada by violent, ideologically-motivated individuals, including those associated with the so-called “incel” online movement.
Toronto police say they’re treating the killing of a woman at a Toronto massage parlour in February as an act of terrorism after uncovering what they say is evidence suggesting it was inspired by incel ideology.
Supporters of this misogynistic online movement typically express frustration toward women over their own lack of sexual success, and sometimes threaten violence against them. Toronto police and RCMP classify it as an “ideologically motivated violent extremist” movement.
Alek Minassian, the accused driver in the 2018 Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 16 others, said in a police interview he was inspired by incel ideology.
Minassian told police shortly after the attack that his actions were retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. His judge-only trial was scheduled to begin in early 2020 but has not yet started.
CSIS says threat actors’ reliance on encrypted technology online remains an obstacle for intelligence agencies.
“They can evade detection by police and intelligence officials, which often presents a significant challenge when governments investigate and seek to prosecute threat actors,” the report says.
“Terrorist entities use cyberspace to enhance the security of their activities … Radicalization, both offline and online, remains a significant concern to Canada and its allies.”
Wednesday’s report also looked at the number of security screenings CSIS has performed over the last fiscal year as part of its mandate. The security assessments help flag security concerns linked to terrorism and espionage, and help departments and agencies with decisions about whether to grant, deny or revoke security clearances.
Through the Immigration and Citizenship, program it screened 217,400 citizen applications and 41,000 refugees last year.
New Screening Tool Flags 27,000 U.S. Communities for Climate Investment – The Energy Mix
A new screening tool that prioritizes 27,000 disadvantaged U.S. communities for billions of dollars in federal climate and energy investments is being criticized for leaving out racial makeup—one of the strongest predictors of environmental burden—as a criterion.
“The experiences of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and People of Color in this nation have been predicated along systemic and institutional racism that permeates every aspect of where we live, where we work, where we go to school, and how we experience our daily lives,” wrote the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge, an environmental justice initiative.
“Any tool that seeks to reverse and address injustices and deliver benefits to address environmental harms including to public health must account for these truths.”
Environmental justice was first brought to federal attention in the U.S. by President Bill Clinton in 1994, with an executive order directing agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations. Federal and state agencies have developed a number of environmental justice mapping tools in the years since [pdf].
The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), announced by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will be used to identify “communities that have faced historic injustices” and ensure “they’re some of the first to see the benefits of climate action,” said CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. It was developed to address a set of priorities laid out by President Joe Biden at the start of his term.
The CEJST differs from past mapping tools because it’s meant to provide a whole-of government, uniform definition of disadvantaged communities. Through CEJST, census tracts across the country are evaluated based on income, significant pollution exposures, climate risks from flooding and wildfires, lack of indoor plumbing, and lack of access to clean drinking water. Any tract that is above the threshold for three or more indicators is identified as “disadvantaged.”
The Biden administration anticipates using CEQ’s screening tool to advance its Justice40 effort by directing 40% of the funding for climate, clean energy, affordable housing, and other investments to benefit disadvantaged communities, says Bloomberg Law.
Although environmental justice advocates have welcomed the CEJST, they point to some important shortcomings, and the CEQ itself labeled the tool as “version 1.0″ that will be subject to changes and refinements.
“There is more work to do, but this is a positive step in the administration’s work to advance environmental justice for all,” said Richard Moore, co-coordinator of the Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a co-chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
CEQ also cautioned that not all disadvantaged communities can be easily identified in the map, citing migrant workers—who are geographically dispersed—as an example. The CEJST also fails to centre racial demographics in its evaluation of communities, despite the country’s long history of discrimination and redlining that have directly contributed to many of the environmental justice issues the Justice40 program aims to address.
An earlier analysis by Grist found such a strong correlation between race and factors that disadvantage communities that, even without including racial demographics, a beta version of the screening tool could still effectively direct Justice40 funds to communities of colour
That meant the tool’s criteria “are effectively functioning as proxies for race,” Grist wrote. “Race is one of the most potent predictors of pollution burdens,” and “by prioritizing communities with the greatest pollution burdens, it has automatically prioritized communities of colour, as well.”
Administration officials make this same point, adding that a race-neutral approach can sidestep legal challenges. The latest edition of CEJST also includes a methodology update from the beta version that uses redlining data to account for historic underinvestment.
But the changes don’t address concerns raised by critics earlier this summer, who cautioned that failing to include racial demographics neglects legacies of environmental racism and ignores the many communities that are disproportionately polluted, not because they are poor, but because they are non-white, says E&E News.
“Race is the primary predictor of where polluting facilities are sited,” said Peggy Shepard, executive director of New York-based WE ACT for Environmental Justice and co-chair of WHEJAC. “It doesn’t matter what the income of that community is.”
Abu Dhabi Hosts Annual Investment Meeting May 2023
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Abu Dhabi will host the 12th edition of the Annual Investment Meeting from 8 to 10 May 2023, which will take place under the theme of “The Investment Paradigm Shift: Future Investment Opportunities to Foster Sustainable Economic Growth, Diversity, and Prosperity”.
At a press conference held today in Abu Dhabi, the announcement of the launch of AIM Global 2023 which is supported by the Ministry of Industry & Advanced Technologies, with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) as a lead partner was made in the presence of H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Vice Chairman of the UAE Industry Development Council and H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of ADDED.
AIM Global 2023 pillars will discuss the global capital market transformation, ways to improve the flexibility of global supply chains to benefit from growth opportunities, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution & AI technologies in the years to come.
AIM will also address new trends in the current global digital transformation that’s being experienced by developing & developed economies. AIM Global 2023 will feature many sessions & workshops that discuss vital topics, including Future Cities, how to use innovative technologies to address the increasing demands, the business sector’s ability to keep abreast of the fast changes, and the future role of Startups & SMEs.
H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, lauded AIM’s ability to change its activities to keep abreast of the new changes in the global economy and praised AIM Global 2023’s gathering of all investment stakeholders in an effort to overcome the current obstacles to achieve sustainable economic development & prosperity for the world via several paths, including Digitization, Sustainability, Industrialization, and Free Trade.
H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa said: “We’re pleased to host AIM 2023 in Abu Dhabi, which has established its position as a preferred destination for business & investments due to its proactive, open approach in dealing with changes. AIM is a suitable platform to discuss new trends and ways to deal with changes and developments in the global economic landscape.”
AIM will comprise several features, including the Exhibition, Investment Roundtables, Investment Destinations Presentations, Investment Awards, Startups Awards, Investors Hub and G2G, G2B & B2B Meetings.
AI will continue to attract investment in near future in the healthcare industry
Artificial intelligence (AI) was seen as one of the top current investment priorities and was thought to continue to attract investment in the healthcare sector in the upcoming two years, according to GlobalData’s latest report ‘Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology in the Healthcare Industry – 2022 Edition’.
In this survey-based report tracker, digital media was prioritised as a top current investment target, with 53% of surveyed respondents confirming that their companies are currently investing in this technology. It was followed by AI, social media and big data (Figure 1). Compared with last year’s data, digital media saw the biggest increase in current investment, up by 22% from last year. AI (+9% from 2021), social media (+8%) and big data (+5%) have also gained since last year, besides trending as very popular technologies for investment priorities for several years. Their combined usage can release synergetic power and potential that could be disruptive to the healthcare sector.
While digital media was selected as the number one current investment target, the percentage of companies investing in this technology is expected to drop by 16% over the next two years. This would likely be due to the current inflation and rising costs, which contribute to a gloomy investment environment. In the next two years, the surveyed healthcare industry professionals believed that their companies will prioritise AI as the main investment target (figure 2).
Having topped the chart as the most attractive investment target since 2018, AI is a rather versatile technology that can be applied in a wide spectrum of processes in the pharmaceutical value chain, making processes faster and more efficient; eventually saving time and labour costs.
The technology has a multititle of applications; for example, companies like Exscientia are using AI to help their pharmaceutical clients analyse vast data sets to identify potential drug targets in a shorter time. K Health, in its AI-based telehealth app, is using AI and big data to help users access accurate information on their symptoms and connect with physicians; BioSymetrics is using AI and machine learning to provide a platform and models to help pharmaceutical companies to identify targets for drug discovery; while Bayer’s AI-enabled Calantic™ Digital Solutions platform, which combines AI with Cloud computing, is used to provide more structured tasks and more improved workflow, to ease workload and pressure for radiologists.
The new digital era has been driving the uptake of digital technologies. Technologies like AI are expected to bring disruptive power to and revolutionise processes within the healthcare sector. There has been an increasing number of successful AI-use cases in the healthcare industry that support a growing trust in AI. AI’s potential is substantial – not only limited to shortening the time and reducing cost in the drug discovery process, or providing healthcare professionals with faster and more accurate diagnoses.
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