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Turkey passed up Canada's offer of help with Khashoggi investigation, documents show – CBC.ca

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Canada offered to help Turkey investigate the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but the Turks never took up the proposal. 

Documents from Global Affairs Canada obtained by CBC News under Access to Information law show that in October 2018, then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland told her Turkish counterpart Canada would be happy to send investigators to help probe the death of the prominent Saudi journalist and dissident.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and well-known critic of the government of Saudi Arabia, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul early in October 2018 when he tried to pick up a marriage document for him and his Turkish fiancé.

Investigations have pinned responsibility for his death on Saudi Arabia. His dismembered remains have never been found.

A Global Affairs employee, who asked not to be identified, told CBC News that Turkish officials let the offer hang and never asked for Canada’s help — despite repeated calls from its president for broad international co-operation in the investigation of Khashoggi’s death.

“Turkey simply never asked us,” the Canadian official said.

The U.S. has featured more prominently in Turkey’s efforts; President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally urged the Americans to get more involved in the probe. Turkey also sent Washington and other national governments an audio recording of Khashoggi’s death.

Days later, Canadian Security Intelligence Service chief David Vigneault flew to Turkey to hear the same recording at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s request.

Contacted by CBC News, Turkish officials said that Canada has a “strong” record on human rights but didn’t say why Canada’s offer of help wasn’t accepted.

“Turkey’s only goal is to seek justice and accountability for this terrible crime. In this respect, we have demonstrated our readiness to co-operate with all responsible and interested actors and partners,” said a statement from the embassy sent to CBC News.

Self-exiled Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi said earlier this year that the Saudi government has been moving toward nationalist radicalism. 1:14

“We see that the international community is gradually losing its interest in this issue,” the statement continued. “It is important to reverse this trend and increase awareness. Canada is well placed to play a leading role.”

International community’s response was lacklustre: report

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on executions, conducted her own investigation this summer, stating that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s “premeditated execution” and citing “credible evidence” implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing. Turkey had started its own investigation before Callamard issued her report.

Callamard’s report also raked the international community over its ineffective response to Khashoggi’s murder.

“His killing was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive co-ordination and significant human and financial resources,” the report says. Callamard concluded that Khashoggi’s killing violated six international laws, including provisions on torture, misuse of consular offices and freedom of expression.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council and is serving as host of the G20 summit this coming year.

Canada’s first concrete public step against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing came six weeks after news of his death. The government introduced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals — but the move was criticized as a half-measure.

“I don’t think it has much practical effect,” Canada’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dennis Horak told CBC’s Power & Politics at the time.

Canada weighing relationship with Saudi Arabia

The documents obtained by CBC News also show Canada was weighing the negative impact the Khashoggi case would have on its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and involvement of the Saudi government, have complicated prospects for progress towards normalizing relations in the near-term,” says one document sent to Global Affairs staff. 

In August 2018, Saudi Arabia froze all new trade with Canada and ordered Saudi students studying at Canadian universities to relocate after Freeland tweeted her concerns about human rights activists imprisoned in the kingdom. The Saudi foreign ministry called Freeland’s statement “blatant interference” in their domestic affairs.

Canada also has been chastised by the international community for years for arranging a controversial multi-billion-dollar armoured vehicle sale to Saudi Arabia. Since Khashoggi’s death and the reports about the Saudi crown prince’s alleged involvement, those calls for Canada to pull back from the kingdom have only gotten louder.

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U.S. FAA seeks new minimum rest periods for flight attendants between shifts

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing to require flight attendants receive at least 10 hours of rest time between shifts after Congress had directed the action in 2018, according to a document released on Thursday.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing major carriers including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others, had previously estimated the rule would cost its members $786 million over 10 years for the 66% of U.S. flight attendants its members employ, resulting from things like unpaid idle time away from home and schedule disruptions.

Aviation unions told the FAA the majority of U.S. flight attendants typically do receive 10 hours of rest from airlines but urged the rule’s quick adoption for safety and security reasons.

Under existing rules, flight attendants get at least 9 hours of rest time but it can be as little as 8 hours in certain circumstances.

“Flight attendants serve hundreds of millions of passengers on close to 10 million flights annually in the United States,” the FAA said, adding that they “perform safety and security functions while on duty in addition to serving customers.”

It cited reports about the “potential for fatigue to be associated with poor performance of safety and security related tasks,” including in 2017, when a flight attendant reported almost causing the gate agent to deploy an emergency exit slide, which was attributed to fatigue and other issues.

The FAA estimated the regulation could prompt the industry to hire another 1,042 flight attendants and cost $118 million annually. If hiring assumptions were cut in half, it said, that would cut estimated costs by over 30%.

After the FAA published an advance notice of the planned rules in 2019, Delta announce it would mandate the 10-hour rest requirement by February 2020.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson is testifying at a U.S. House Transportation subcommittee hearing on Thursday.

House Transportation Committee chairman Peter DeFazio said on Wednesday that it was “unacceptable” to delay the FAA adopting the flight attendant rest rule and mandating secondary flight deck barriers to better protect the cockpits on all newly manufactured airliners.

Attorneys at the FAA “need a little poke” to move faster on rules when ordered by Congress, DeFazio said on Thursday at the hearing. “Do not screw around with it for three years… you just do it.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants representing 50,000 workers at 17 airlines, said the rule was critical.

“Flight attendant fatigue is real. COVID has only exacerbated the safety gap with long duty days, short night, and combative conditions on planes,” she said. “Congress mandated 10 hours irreducible rest in October 2018, but the prior administration put the rule on a process to kill it.”

During the pandemic, flight attendants have dealt with records numbers of disruptive, occasionally violent passenger incidents, with the FAA citing 4,837 unruly passenger reports, including 3,511 for refusing to wear a mask since Jan. 1.

The FAA proposes to make the new flight attendant rest rules final 30 days after it publishes its final rules.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jason Neely and Bill Berkrot)

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Health

Canada government, provinces agree COVID-19 vaccine travel passport – officials

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Canada’s federal government and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel, government officials told reporters on Thursday.

The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The document will have a federal Canadian identifying mark and meets major international smart health card standards.

“Many (countries) have said they want to see a digital … verifiable proof of vaccination, which is what we’re delivering,” said one official.

In addition, federal officials are talking to nations that are popular with Canadian travelers to brief them about the document.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this month that from Oct 30, people wishing to travel domestically by plane, train or ship would have to show proof of full vaccination.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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U.S. safety board says driver, passenger seats occupied during fatal Tesla crash

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National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB) said on Thursday that both the driver and passenger seats were occupied during an April 17 fatal crash of a Tesla Model S in Spring, Texas.

Local police previously said witness statements indicated there was nobody in the driver’s seat of the Model S when it crashed into a tree. The NTSB said a review of vehicle data show “both the driver and the passenger seats were occupied, and that the seat belts were buckled when the (event data recorder) recorded the crash.”

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson)

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