Political and security experts are “astounded” that armed rioters managed to breach one of the most secure buildings in the U.S., disrupting congressional deliberations over challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, making history in the process.
“I’m humiliated for my country today, this is really a low point in American history,” Tom Nichols, U.S. Naval War College University Professor, told CTV News Channel Wednesday as images of Capitol police, guns drawn, barricading the doors of the House Chamber emerged online.
Lawmakers were rushed from the chamber Wednesday afternoon after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power.
Footage showed “unprecedented chaos” unfolding inside the Capitol as rioters smashed windows, vandalized lawmakers’ offices, put their feet up on desks, and replaced the American flag with Trump banners.
Though some described the scene as an attempted coup, experts say the protest was egged on by President Donald Trump who continued to falsely claim electoral victory.
“I think we’re just witnessing mob violence. To call it a coup would mean it would have direction,” Nichols said Wednesday.
Others note that continued protest and threats of violence over the results of the 2020 presidential election have been fuelled by disinformation and unfounded claims of voter fraud, much of which the president himself has shared.
“[Trump] was in several instances inciting these types of protests that are really undermining democracy,” Keesha Middlemass, associate professor of political science at Howard University, told CTV News Channel Wednesday.
“It is an attack on the very heart of democracy in the United States.”
Middlemass noted that to end violent shows of support for the outgoing president, the incoming president must work with the Republican party to dispel the disinformation Trump has been spreading.
“Because of the lies, the disinformation, the conspiracy theories, there are millions of people in the United States right now that believe the election was stolen from President Trump,” she said.
“We have to figure out how to change people’s beliefs. Biden and Harris are really going to have to do a lot of explaining and talking about the validity of the election. But also you have to have more Republicans, elected officials particularly on the Republican side, stand up and disavow the lies that is instigating this type of process.”
Security experts marvelled at how the mob managed to breach the Capitol, one of the most secure buildings in Washington, next to the White House.
“We have to remember how difficult it is to get into a state building like that with firearms. It’s near impossible, I don’t know how they did it,” said Black Lives Matter Canada co-founder Sandy Hudson.
“People have decided, ‘we don’t care about the democratic process, we don’t care that we lost.’”
Jeanne Meserve, senior fellow at the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute and CTV News international security correspondent, noted there were distinct differences between the reaction to Wednesday’s riot and the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
“It seems almost incomprehensible to me that the authorities knew that there were thousands of people descending on the Capitol; there were threats of violence; there were promises that they were going to try to bring guns,” Meserve told CTV News Channel Wednesday.
“They were not quiet about what their intentions were, and yet the authorities seem to be totally unprepared for the strength and numbers of people on capitol hill today.”
She noted there is a “direct contrast” between Wednesday’s events and the summer’s protests.
“The official reaction was much more harsh, and the vast majority of those protests were also peaceful,” she said.
President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation Wednesday afternoon, decrying what he described as an “attack on democracy and an assault on the rule of law.”
“[Today’s events] do not reflect a true America… do not reflect who we are,” said Biden, calling on Trump to demand an end to the protests immediately.
“To storm the capital, to smash windows… threatening the safety of duly elected officials is not protest its insurrection.”
Shortly after, Trump posted a video to his Twitter account telling supporters to “go home,” while continuing to claim the election results were fraudulent.
Navdeep Bains' work to transform Canadian economy unfinished as he leaves politics – National Post
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If you look at the last five years, Toronto and Vancouver have recruited more technology workers than San Francisco, and Seattle combined
Asselin applauded Bains’ digital charter, a bill currently before Parliament that sets rules on data collection and storage from big companies. He said having clear rules is essential for companies that are going to do more and more work online.
“I give him a lot of credit for tackling this because, obviously, without data, strong data privacy provisions Canadian companies won’t be able to use data as other companies are doing in other countries.”
Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators, said on balance Bains has been good for the economy and he highlighted the immigration push, something he said will have to continue under new minister François-Philippe Champagne.
“Canada has a massive deficit of talent there’s about 220,000 positions that are currently not filled in tech, because we just don’t have the domestic capacity.”
Bergen agrees the government’s investments have been good, but there are structural problems around patent protection and intellectual property that can prevent companies going from start-ups to giants. He said the very nature of an innovation agenda is that the work is never done, and constantly has to change.
“Expenditure and support is critical, but making sure that you actually have an infrastructure to capture the wealth and prosperity that comes out of it is equally part of it,” he said. “If you have a hole in the bucket and you keep pouring in more water, or in this case more money, but don’t actually plug the hole you’re gonna lose it.”
Politics crash Couche-Tard's US$20B shopping trip to Paris – BNN
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. founder Alain Bouchard hoped to salvage a US$20 billion offer for Carrefour SA when he arrived at the French Finance Ministry, whose headquarters juts out over the Seine like a beached aircraft carrier in eastern Paris.
After being kept waiting for a brief audience with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Bouchard got the message: The proposed deal was dead on arrival, torpedoed by French political opposition.
The meeting Friday capped a tumultuous week for Couche-Tard and Carrefour. Bouchard, a self-made billionaire who had transformed an obscure Canadian gas-station operator into an empire of 14,200 retail sites through acquisitions, wanted to take the next step. Buying the French grocer would have turned Couche-Tard into a global retail giant, alongside the likes of Walmart Inc.
However, the overture ended only four days after it came to light, and the companies said they’ll seek a looser alliance instead, sending Carrefour shares as much as 7.6 per cent lower on Monday. Couche-Tard shares rose as much as 5.3 per cent in Toronto.
Ceding one of France’s biggest supermarket owners to foreign ownership was impossible at a time when COVID-19 lockdowns underlined the strategic importance of the country’s food supply, Le Maire said.
A Couche-Tard convenience store in Montreal, Canada. Buying the French grocer Carrefour would have turned Couche-Tard into a global retail giant.
Couche-Tard is not the first foreign acquirer to be stymied by French concerns about economic sovereignty, but it underestimated flag-waving reflexes that have sharpened amid COVID-19. With regional elections looming later this year and a presidential vote set for 2022, allowing the country’s biggest private employer to fall into foreign hands could have given nationalist leader Marine Le Pen and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon a new cause celebre to attack centrist President Emmanuel Macron.
“It wasn’t the moment to do a deal like that,” said Fabienne Caron, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux. “The government had much more to lose than to win. The real reason is politics.”
The companies compounded their miscalculation by blindsiding Le Maire and Macron. The finance minister found out about the talks late Tuesday via a text message from Carrefour Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard, according to a Finance Ministry official who asked not to be named, citing government rules. It came around the time a Bloomberg News report revealed the talks that evening.
This article is based on interviews with people familiar with the discussions and the government’s position, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Representatives for Carrefour and Couche-Tard declined to comment.
Talks between the two companies began in the autumn, after Couche-Tard failed in an effort to buy Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway gas station network. Previous acquisitions had built up Couche-Tard from a single store in a Montreal suburb into an operator of convenience outlets spanning from Texas to Hong Kong.
Carrefour, best-known for giant, out-of-town stores that sell everything from baguettes to T-shirts to grass seed, has been challenged by the rise of online shopping and the growth of discounters Lidl and Aldi. Under Bompard, it has scaled back its hypermarkets while investing in convenience stores, e-commerce and organic food, but the shares had fallen by more than one-third over his 3 1/2-year tenure before Tuesday’s news broke.
Later that evening after the leak, both companies confirmed the discussions, emphasizing that the negotiations were friendly. The next day, Carrefour’s stock surged, with Couche-Tard confirming it was weighing a price of 20 euros per share.
In government quarters, however, opposition was welling up. On Wednesday afternoon, Le Maire spoke with Bompard as well as key Carrefour investors such as LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, who holds a 5.5 per cent stake. Late in the day, the finance minister went on television to say he opposed the deal.
A representative for Arnault did not respond to a request for comment.
Carrefour’s advisers and some analysts saw an element of posturing in Le Maire’s hard line, figuring the finance minister would eventually yield. They had reason to believe that this deal might be seen differently from a 2005 approach by PepsiCo Inc. to French yogurt maker Danone SA, which was blocked on grounds of sovereignty.
After all, Macron is a former Rothschild banker who entered office four years ago with a vow to shake up a French economy held back by state interventionism. Couche-Tard hails from Quebec, which shares close linguistic, cultural and business ties. And Carrefour could use a deep-pocketed partner to finance its incomplete turnaround.
In 2019, France led European countries in a ranking of foreign investment projects by accounting firm EY. Its companies have also stepped up overseas expansion, with LVMH recently completing its US$16 billion purchase of Tiffany & Co. Some French champions have stumbled of late, however — notably drugmaker Sanofi, whose Covid vaccine project faces a months-long delay after a dosing problem during tests.
Couche-Tard was ready to respond to French concerns with commitments to pump 3 billion euros (US$3.6 billion) into Carrefour while guaranteeing jobs and pledging to maintain the retailer’s headquarters in France, as well as listing the combined companies’ shares in both countries.
Le Maire appeared to open the door slightly at a conference Thursday when he described Carrefour being acquired by a foreign entity as a “major difficulty.” By Friday morning, he attempted to clear up any ambiguity, declaring in a morning TV appearance that his position on the Couche-Tard approach was a “clear and definitive no.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, the strident French reaction left little room or time for behind-the-scenes lobbying. The effort was led by Quebec, which deepened its economic ties with France last year, when Bombardier Inc. agreed to sell its rail unit to Alstom SA. The province also owns 25 per cent of the A220, the former Bombardier jet project now controlled by Airbus SE, headquartered in Toulouse, France. That’s a relationship the French-speaking province expected to go both ways.
Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon first reached out for information to Roland Lescure, a former top official at Quebec’s pension fund who, in his current job as head of the French National Assembly’s economic affairs committee, has regular contacts with Macron’s and Le Maire’s teams. Fitzgibbon also spoke to Bouchard on Thursday evening before the Couche-Tard chairman flew to France, and was about to go on a call with Le Maire when he briefed journalists on Friday morning, Canadian time.
The economy minister said he understood concerns about food security, a recurring topic at home, too. In speaking with Le Maire, he intended to promote Couche-Tard’s track record, and to tout the links between France and Quebec, he said. He struck a hopeful tone.
“The dust has to settle a bit,” Fitzgibbon said. “Nothing’s going to get decided in the next 24 hours.”
He was proven wrong a few hours later.
Bouchard’s visit to the French Finance Ministry was the second of the day by Couche-Tard officials, some of whom had spent part of the week in Paris. Earlier Friday, CEO Brian Hannasch met with Le Maire’s chief of staff, Bertrand Dumont.
Between both meetings, the Canadians huddled with their bankers and advisers at Rothschild & Co.’s headquarters on Paris’s elegant Avenue de Messine. Bouchard and Bompard strategized that day, working on the best arguments to win over the government, a person familiar with the men’s day said.
Their efforts were fruitless, as the finance minister made it clear in the hastily arranged meeting that his opposition was unconditional.
With any hope for a deal dashed, Couche-Tard and Carrefour say they’re focusing on the proposed alliance. The companies will consider how to work together on fuel purchases, branding and distribution where their networks overlap.
The Canadians had to return home empty-handed, but things could change after the dust settles on the 2022 election campaign, said Clement Genelot, an analyst at Bryan, Garnier & Co.
“Ongoing discussions surrounding operational collaboration leave the door open to restart merger talks in the future,” he said.
–With assistance from Manuel Baigorri.
Capitol riots: Bumble dating app unblocks politics filter – BBC News
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.css-14iz86j-BoldTextfont-weight:bold;The dating app Bumble has reinstated its political preferences filter after disabling it “to prevent misuse” in the wake of the US Capitol riots.
Following the violence, reports emerged online of some Bumble users switching the filter to find those who had taken part – and report them to authorities.
Bumble said it had noticed people using the filter in a way that was “contrary to our terms and conditions”.
But it faced a backlash online from users unhappy with its decision.
The feature enables people to display their chosen political views – such as conservative or liberal – and filter their matches accordingly.
Some app users claimed on social media that they had deliberately changed their political preferences in order to attract rioters and then report them.
Some accused the company of “protecting” those who had carried out violent acts by disabling the filter.
Others said they needed the filter to make sure their matches shared their political outlook – and many tweeted to the company to say they were cancelling their accounts as a result.
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We’ve temporarily removed our politics filter to prevent misuse. However, please rest assured that we prohibit any content that promotes terrorism or racial hatred, and we’ve already removed any users that have been confirmed as participants in the attack of the US Capitol.
— bumble (@BumbleSupport) January 14, 2021
Bumble said it had restored the function within 24 hours of suspending it.
In a statement it also said it was blocking people who had been using the platform to “spread insurrectionist content”.
Match Group, whose brands include Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish, told the Washington Post it had banned “any users wanted by the FBI in connection with domestic terrorism” from all of its platforms.
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