In The News for Feb. 13 : Just what are these “objects” flying above North America?


Published February 13, 2023 at 9:11 am

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 13 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The unidentified flying object shot down over Yukon this weekend will undoubtedly be one of the main topics of discussion between Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the two meet in Whitehorse for previously scheduled talks.

There have been four high-altitude objects shot down in North America in just over a week, the most recent in U.S. airspace over Lake Huron on Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday Canada and the U.S. were co-operating and in constant communication about the situation, adding both countries and the North American Aerospace Defence Command are taking the situation very seriously.

Recovery efforts are underway to find and analyze all the objects, with Canadian military and RCMP recovery teams, aided by a CP-160 aircraft, searching the Yukon wilderness for the remnants of the object shot down Saturday over the central part of the territory, about 160 km from the Alaskan border.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday the Yukon object was “potentially similar” to the Chinese spy balloon destroyed Feb. 4, which was followed by the second mystery object shot down over Alaska on Friday.

Canadian and U.S. authorities have said little about the objects or their intended purpose beyond surveillance.

Also this …

The head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says a shortage of personnel will challenge plans to introduce the F-35 in the coming years.

Lt.-Gen. Eric Kenny says the government’s decision to purchase the F-35 fighter jet is part of a larger leap into the future for the Air Force.

Not only will the F-35 replace Canada’s aging CF-18s, which were purchased in the 1980s, but the Air Force is also planning to receive new drones, satellites and radar stations in the coming decade.

But Kenney tells The Canadian Press that the Air Force needs more people to ensure a smooth transition to the new jets.

It will have to continue flying and maintaining the older planes while getting pilots and mechanics ready for the new ones.

The personnel crunch will also challenge plans to introduce other equipment and capabilities, including armed drones, which the Air Force has never had before.

Kenny says the Air Force is short about 2,500 members, and the shortfall is expected to get worse at a time when his ranks are actually supposed to be expanding.

And this too …

A public inquest into the events surrounding the 2020 killing of two young Quebec girls by their father begins today.

Quebec’s public security minister ordered the inquest last year after an episode of the Radio-Canada investigative program “Enquete” alleged provincial police made errors in the search for the missing girls and presented new evidence that had not been part of a coroner’s investigation into their deaths.

Police concluded that Martin Carpentier killed 11-year-old Norah and six-year-old Romy in the woods near St-Apollinaire, Que., southwest of Quebec City before taking his own life, but questions have swirled around the investigation and whether the tragedy could have been averted.

An October 2021 coroner’s report found flaws in police’s handling of the investigation and recommended changes to the process for triggering Amber Alerts, as well as the creation of a dedicated police unit to investigate children’s disappearances across the province.

The girls and their father vanished after their car was involved in a serious crash on Highway 20 in St-Apollinaire southwest of Quebec City, on July 8, 2020, just before 9:30 p.m.

Police initially believed the crash was unintentional and they were investigating a case of someone leaving the scene of an accident.

The disappearance triggered an intense 10-day manhunt that gripped the province and especially the town of just over 6,000 people where it played out.

It was not until 3 p.m. the day after the crash, July 9, that an Amber Alert was broadcast.

The girls’ bodies were found in the woods on July 11, but the coroner concluded the deaths likely occurred on the afternoon of July 9. Martin Carpentier died by suicide in the hours after the girls’ killings, but his body was only found on July 20.

The coroner concluded that the father’s actions were triggered by a pending divorce from the children’s mother and he was fearful of losing access to them.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

NEW YORK _ A jury on Monday will begin considering whether an Islamic extremist who killed eight people on a New York City bike path should get a death sentence, an extraordinarily rare penalty in a state that hasn’t had an execution in 60 years.

Sayfullo Saipov, 35, was convicted last month in the 2017 attack, in which he intentionally drove a truck at high speed down a path along the Hudson River, mowing down bicyclists on a sunny morning hours before the city’s Halloween celebrations.

The same jury that found Saipov guilty will return to work, hearing from additional witnesses in the trial’s penalty phase. Anything less than a unanimous vote for death will mean Saipov will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Saipov’s lawyers hope to convince jurors that a life term is punishment enough for a spree that killed five friends from Argentina, a woman from Belgium and two Americans.

New York does not have capital punishment and hasn’t executed anyone since 1963, but Saipov’s trial is in federal court, where a death sentence is still an option, though one rarely sought with success. The last time a person was executed for a federal crime in New York was in 1954.

U.S. President Joe Biden put a moratorium on federal executions after taking office and his Justice Department has not, until now, initiated any new death penalty proceedings.

Saipov’s lawyers have argued it is unconstitutional for prosecutors to seek his execution when the government has stopped seeking death in so many other cases, including some with defendants who killed more people.

Any death sentence rendered by the jury would likely by subject to years of appeals.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

ANTAKYA, Turkey – Rescue crews on Monday pulled a 40-year-old woman from the wreckage of a building a week after two powerful earthquakes struck, but reports of rescues are coming less often as the time since the quake reaches the limits of the human body’s ability to survive without water, especially in sub-freezing temperatures.

The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes struck nine hours apart in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6. They killed at least 33,185, with the toll expected to rise considerably as search teams find more bodies, and reduced much of towns and cities inhabited by millions to fragments of concrete and twisted metal.

On Monday, rescuers pulled a 40-year-old woman from the wreckage of a five-story building in the town of Islahiye, in Gaziantep province. The woman, Sibel Kaya, was rescued after spending 170 hours beneath the rubble by a mixed crew that included members of Turkey’s coal mine rescue team.

Earlier, a 60-year-woman, Erengul Onder, was also pulled out from the rubble in the town of Besni, in Adiyaman province, by teams from the western city of Manisa.

“We received the news of a miracle from Besni which helped put the fire raging in our hearts a little,” wrote Manisa’s mayor Cengiz Ergun on Twitter.

Eduardo Reinoso Angulo, a professor at the Institute of Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico said the likelihood of finding people alive was “very, very small now.”

The lead author on a 2017 study involving deaths inside buildings struck by earthquakes, Reinoso said that the odds of survival for people trapped in wreckage fall dramatically after five days, and is near zero after nine days, although there have been exceptions.

Wintery conditions further reduce the window for survival. Temperatures in the region have fallen to minus 6 degrees Celsius overnight.

A week after the quakes hit, many people were still without shelter in the streets. Some survivors were still waiting in front of collapsed buildings waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to be retrieved.

On this day in 2000 …

Charles Schulz’s final “Peanuts” strip ran in Sunday newspapers, the day after the cartoonist died in his sleep at his California home at age 77.

In entertainment …

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Rihanna was pregnant with her second child as she performed her Super Bowl halftime show Sunday.

The singer’s representative confirmed the pregnancy shortly after she ended her 13-minute set at Super Bowl 57. She hovered high at times as she performed a number of hits including “We Found Love,” “Diamonds” and “Work” during a halftime break between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

The baby bump that was visible in the tight clothes she wore under her baggy red jumpsuit set off a wave of social media speculation that she might be pregnant again.

Rihanna, 34, has a nine-month-old son with rapper A$AP Rocky.

During her media preview Thursday, Rihanna said she was initially unsure about taking on the challenge of performing during a time when she was three months postpartum and wondered “should I be making major decisions like this right now? I might regret this.”

“But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world, you can do anything,” Rihanna said. “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages of the world. As scary as that was, because I hadn’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all.”

Rihanna said had to figure out how to fit some of her biggest songs into her 13-minute set.

“The set list was the biggest challenge,” she said. “That was the hardest, hardest part. Deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate _ that’s what this show is going to be. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalogue in the best way that we could have put it together.”

A nine-time Grammy Award-winner, Rihanna has 14 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including “We Found Love,” “Work,” “Umbrella” and “Disturbia.”

Did you see this?

VANCOUVER _ The Turkish Canadian Society is calling for a change in the way Canada deploys rescue crews to international disasters after only one team deployed to Turkey after last week’s earthquake.

Sina Kutluay, a spokesperson for the group, said members were disheartened that the Burnaby Urban Search and Rescue team from British Columbia, which self-deployed last week, will remain the only Canadian crew in the quake zone. This comes after the Vancouver consulate said a deadline for others to participate had expired.

“Because of some formalities or some logistical issues, they couldn’t make it,” Kutluay said in an interview Sunday, referring to federally co-ordinated search crew deployments.

“It is not a normal situation (where you have time to) ask for permission. You have to go there and start digging and saving people. I think that needs to be revisited after this experience.”

The Burnaby search crew made headlines Friday after footage from the CBC showed members being thanked and embraced by Turkish colleagues on the scene, moments after a dust-covered woman was taken to an ambulance in the city of Adiyaman after being pulled from rubble.

The crew said in a Facebook post Saturday that it remains on the ground in the southeastern city, looking for other “victims still trapped in collapsed homes.”

Kutluay said the Turkish Canadian Society is very grateful to the team for their work, noting that it demonstrates the benefits of a streamlined process that would allow more crews to deploy after a disaster.

“I’m sure they could have saved so many people still, because it’s been a week now and there are still children and people (being found) alive under the collapsed buildings.”

Canadian federal authorities did not give an official go-ahead to any rescue teams after Monday’s quake, which has killed many thousands, but have sent an assessment team and committed $10 million to relief efforts.

The Canadian Press

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