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Canada’s spy chief: Espionage has reached Cold War-level

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OTTAWA — Canada’s spy chief warned Tuesday that state-sponsored espionage against his country has reached “levels equal to, or greater than those witnessed during the Cold War.”

Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said in a report presented to parliament on Monday that foreign governments “continue to covertly gather political, economic and military information” in Canada through diplomatic missions, various organizations and by recruiting agents or informants.

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A number of state-owned enterprises and private firms with close ties to foreign government or intelligence services have also pursued “opaque agendas” through investments in Canada.

“Canadian interests have been damaged by espionage activities through the loss of assets and leading-edge technology, leakage of confidential government information or applications, and the coercion and manipulation of ethno-cultural communities,” the report said.

Dubious foreign corporate acquisitions, it said, also “pose potential risks” related to critical infrastructure, control over strategic sectors and the illegal transfer of technology.

The report goes on to explain that Canada’s “open society with strong international relationships and advanced industries such as telecommunications and mining — make it attractive to foreign intelligence agencies.”

Its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other multilateral and bilateral defence pacts, and close ties to the United States also make the country an attractive target for espionage, it said.

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In the post-Cold War world, state actors are compelled to seek ways of remaining competitive both strategically and economically, the report said.

“As a world leader in communications, biotechnology, energy extraction technologies, aerospace and other areas, Canada remains an attractive target for economic espionage,” it said.

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K-pop megastars BTS cancel Seoul concerts as South Korea coronavirus cases pass 2,000

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K-pop megastars BTS on Friday cancelled four Seoul concerts due in April as the number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea passed 2,000.

The seven-piece boyband -- currently one of the biggest acts in the world -- had scheduled four gigs at the capital's Olympic Stadium to promote their new album, "Map of the Soul: 7".

More than 200,000 fans were expected to attend, their agency Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement, with "a number of global production companies and a large group of expert international crew" also involved.

It was "impossible at this time to predict the scale of the outbreak", it said, creating so much uncertainty it was "unavoidable" the shows were cancelled "without further delay".

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Trump congratulated the ‘great’ Mike Pence: America is ‘way ahead in our battle with the coronavirus’

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President Donald Trump continued to spin the coronavirus outbreak for political advantage on Thursday evening.

"Do Nothing Democrats were busy wasting their time on the Impeachment Hoax, & anything they could do to make the Republican Party look bad, while I was busy calling early boarder (sic) & flight closings, putting us way ahead in our battle with the Coronavirus," Trump tweeted.

"Dems called it very wrong!" he concluded.

He singled out Vice President Mike Pence for praise.

"Congratulations and thank you to our great Vice President & all of the many professionals doing such a fine job at CDC & all other agencies on the Coronavirus situation. Only a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!" he added.

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World Health Organization warns coronavirus at ‘decisive point’ as governments race to react

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The World Health Organization declared Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a "decisive point" as countries across the globe battled to contain the deadly outbreak.

Saudi Arabia banned pilgrims from visiting Islam's holiest sites as the number of deaths jumped in neighbouring Iran, while Japan and Iraq ordered the closure of schools.

Alarm is growing as China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19, with other countries including South Korea and Italy becoming hotbeds of infection, raising fears of a pandemic.

"We're at a decisive point," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva. "If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus, you can prevent people getting sick, you can save lives."

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