The potential economic and trade fallout of strained Indo-Candian diplomatic relations | Explained

File photo:- Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, on September 10, 2023.
| Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick

The story so far: The current strain in diplomatic relations between Canada and India has raised concerns about the impact spiralling onto commercial and economic spheres of cooperation. Negotiations towards the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), which was to serve as an early transitional step towards the larger Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) now stand “paused.” This was widely expected to be sealed in a trade mission that was expected to arrive in India this October — now cancelled. Further concerns relate to the longer-term impact on the larger commercial and economic sphere should relations further deteriorate.

How significant is the trade relationship between the two countries?

As per the Ministry of Commerce’s TradeStat database, in FY 2022-23, Canada was India’s 35th largest trading partner overall.

Further, as put forth in an earlier joint statement following the sixth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment (MDTI) in Ottawa in May, Canada-India bilateral trade in goods reached C$12 billion in 2022, growing 57% on a year-over-year basis; of this, the bilateral services trade contributed C8.9 billion to the overall figure.

According to Mohit Singla, Chairman at the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) the trade between the countries is “pretty balanced.” He elaborates that Canada is ranked 14th in imports globally (with a share of 2.3%), but is 32nd in India’s export markets, with a share of 0.9%, currently exhibiting “low potential.” Having said that, he adds that the past two years have seen a sudden upsurge in exports from India at a CAGR of 32%. Other than mineral fuels, categories that have shown strong CAGR in this period include iron and steel, electrical machinery, rubber, nuclear reactors, apparel, pearls, and furniture and plastics, Mr. Singla says.

“This shows a strong surge in confidence by Canadian companies when it comes to sourcing from India across a wide range of categories. Clearly, the momentum has been building as compared to the pre-2020 period, when the overall export CAGR (2013-20) from India to Canada was just around 4%,” said Mr Singla.

From the Canadian perspective, India is a “priority market.” It was the North American country’s 10th largest trading partner. Global Canada (the international diplomacy and affairs department) has also said that “India will be a key partner as Canada strengthens its economic links to the Indo-Pacific under a new, comprehensive strategy for the region.”

How will this impact trade relations?

India imported merchandise worth approximately U.S.$4.05 billion in FY 2022-23 from Canada and exported about U.S.$4.11 billion worth of goods — indicating a largely balanced trade. India’s primary export items include coal, coke and briquettes, fertilisers, iron and steel, and lentils. On the other hand, India’s major items of export are pharmaceutical products, iron and steel products, organic chemicals and marine products, along with apparel and textiles of varied forms and variants.

The CEPA, which now stands “paused,” was to further take care of “trade in goods, trade in services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and other areas of economic cooperation”.

Mr Singla notes that, from available data, “Equivalent ad valorem tariff for India is high on dairy products, cereals, meat, fish, cocoa, apparel, textiles etc., which would undoubtedly be areas of interest for exporters,” adding that “to that extent, the FTA negotiations would delay possible easing of trade barriers in these sectors.”

On the other hand, as Mr Singla observes, “most of India’s top exports face minimal tariff barriers, with the exception of cereals and apparels, so a delay may not have a substantiative impact on India’s exports to Canada.”

What about the investment ecosystem?

As per the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency’s Invest India, Canada is the 18th largest foreign investor in India..

Several Canadian companies have established their presence in India; this is besides the country’s more important pension funds such as the Canadian Pension Fund (or CPP). As reported by news agency Reuters, CPP increased its investment in the Indian markets to about $15 billion in areas such as real estate, renewables and the financial sector at the end of the previous financial year.

Other big pension funds with sizeable exposure to India include Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) — which has investments of about C$8 billion and the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan (OTPP) with $3 billion — both until the end of last year. Observers in Canada believe that in the immediate term, their positions might not be at risk. They argue that the tensions could however cause operational inconveniences, as travel may be an issue.

What about education in Canada?

As per official statistics, Canada has about 1.08 lakh students from India at present. This accounts for more than 37% of its overall international student pool. Canada- based publication The Global and Mailwrote that the international student tuition (fee) is “several times higher than for Canadian students,” adding that it “has become essential to the finances of many postsecondary schools.” Any strain in the relationship between the two countries would not bode well for them.

In an advisory on September 23, the Ministry of External Affairs in India urged Indian nationals and students in Canada to “exercise utmost caution.”

Jeff Nankivell, President and CEO at the think-tank Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada told BNN Bloomberg that the “single greatest economic relationship between the two countries is the inflow of students from India… and if that is diminished, it would have negative implications not just for educational institutions but also for Canadian communities that are hosts to Indian international students.”

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India expels Canadian diplomat amid fallout over alleged assassination

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an advocate of Sikh independence from India, was gunned down on 18 June outside a Sikh cultural centre in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

India dismissed allegations that its government was linked to the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada as “absurd” on Tuesday, expelling a senior Canadian diplomat and accusing Canada of interfering in India’s internal affairs.


It came a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described what he called credible allegations that India was connected to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an advocate of Sikh independence from India who was gunned down on 18 June outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia, and Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau told Parliament Monday. “In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”

The duelling expulsions come as relations between Canada and India are tense. Trade talks have been derailed and Canada just cancelled a trade mission to India that was planned for the fall.

In its statement announcing the expulsion, India’s Ministry of External Affairs wrote that “the decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities.”

Nijjar was organising an unofficial referendum in India for an independent Sikh nation at the time of his death. Indian authorities announced a cash reward last year for information leading to Nijjar’s arrest, accusing him of involvement in an alleged attack on a Hindu priest in India.

India has repeatedly accused Canada of supporting the Sikh independence, or Khalistan, movement, which is banned in India but has support in countries like Canada and the UK with sizable Sikh diaspora populations.

In March, the Modi government summoned the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi to complain about Sikh independence protests in Canada. In 2020, India’s foreign ministry also summoned the top diplomat over comments made by Trudeau about an agricultural protest movement associated with the state of Punjab, where many Sikhs live.

Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population.

Trudeau told Parliament that he brought up Nijjar’s slaying with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 meeting in New Delhi last week. He said he told Modi that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable and that he asked for cooperation in the investigation.

India’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegation as “absurd and motivated.”

“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it wrote in a statement issued earlier Tuesday.


At the G20 meeting, Modi expressed “strong concerns” over Canada’s handling of the Punjabi independence movement among the overseas Sikhs during a meeting with Trudeau at the G20, the statement added.

The statement called on Canada to work with India on what New Delhi said is a threat to the Canadian Indian diaspora and described the Sikh movement as “promoting secessionism and inciting violence” against Indian diplomats. Earlier this year, supporters of the Khalistan movement vandalised Indian consulates in London and San Francisco.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada had expelled a top Indian diplomat, whom she identified as the head of Indian intelligence in Canada.

“If proven true this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said. “As a consequence, we have expelled a top Indian diplomat.”

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canada’s national security adviser and the head of Canada’s spy service have travelled to India to meet their counterparts and to confront the Indian intelligence agencies with the allegations.


He called it an active homicide investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Joly said Trudeau also raised the matter with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“We are deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. “We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

Joly also said she would raise the issue with her peers in the G7 on Monday evening in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

Canadian opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, who is himself Sikh, called it outrageous and shocking. Singh said he grew up hearing stories that challenging India’s record on human rights might prevent you from getting a visa to travel there.


“But to hear the prime minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined,” Singh said.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada called Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “often led peaceful protests against the violation of human rights actively taking place in India and in support of Khalistan.”

“Nijjar had publicly spoken of the threat to his life for months and said that he was targeted by Indian intelligence agencies,” the statement said.

Nijjar’s New York-based lawyer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has said Nijjar was warned by Canadian intelligence officials about being targeted for assassination by “mercenaries” before he was gunned down.

India’s main opposition party issued a statement backing Modi’s position. The Congress Party wrote that “the country’s interests and concerns must be kept paramount at all times” and that the fight against terrorism has to be uncompromising, especially when it threatens the nation’s sovereignty.

Indian authorities have targeted Sikh separatism since the 1980s, when an armed insurgency for an independent Sikh state took off in Punjab state.

In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple in the state’s Amritsar city to flush out Sikh separatists, who had taken refuge there. The controversial operation killed around 400, according to official figures, although Sikh groups estimate the toll to be higher.

The prime minister who ordered the raid, Indira Gandhi, was killed afterwards by two of her bodyguards, who were Sikh. Her death triggered a series of anti-Sikh riots, in which Hindu mobs went from house to house across northern India, pulling Sikhs from their homes, hacking many to death and burning others alive.

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Residents flee, airlifts begin as wildfire approaches capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories

Thousands of residents fled the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories ahead of an approaching wildfire on Thursday, some driving hundreds of miles to safety and others waiting in long lines for emergency flights, the latest chapter in Canada’s worst fire season on record.

The fire, boosted by strong winds, was within 16 kilometers (10 miles) of Yellowknife’s northern edge, and people in the four areas at highest risk were told to leave as soon as possible, Fire Information Officer Mike Westwick said.

Officials worried that winds could push the flames toward the only highway leading away from the fire as long caravans of cars evacuated the city of 20,000, and although some rain was forecast, first responders were taking no chances. Westwick urged residents in other areas to leave by noon Friday.

“I want to be clear that the city is not in immediate danger and there’s a safe window for residents to leave the city by road and by air,” Shane Thompson, a government minister for the Territories, told a news conference. “Without rain, it is possible it will reach the city outskirts by the weekend.”

Evacuating such a large number of people is “going to be tough,” but people were cooperating and staying calm, Westwick said.

Canada has seen a record number of wildfires this year — contributing to choking smoke in parts of the U.S. — with more than 5,700 fires burning more than 137,000 square kilometers (53,000 square miles) from one end of Canada to the other, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. As of Thursday, 1,053 wildfires were burning across the country, more than half of them out of control.

In the Northwest Territories alone, 268 wildfires have already burned more than 21,000 square kilometers (8,100 square miles).

Thursday’s evacuation of Yellowknife was by far the largest so far this year, said Ken McMullen, president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and fire chief in Red Deer, Alberta.

“It’s one of those events where you need to get people out sooner rather than later,” because fire could block the only escape route before ever reaching the community.

Resident Angela Canning was packing up her camper with important documents, family keepsakes and basic necessities and leaving with her two dogs, while her husband stayed behind as an essential worker.

“I’m really anxious and I’m scared. I’m emotional … I’m in shock,” she told The Canadian Press. “I don’t know what I’m coming home to or if I’m coming home. There’s just so much unknowns here.”

At the Big River Service Station about 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Yellowknife, the line of vehicles waiting for fuel was “phenomenal,” employee Linda Croft said. “You can’t see the end of it.”

About 6,800 people in eight other communities in the territory have already been forced to evacuate their homes, including the small community of Enterprise, which was largely destroyed. Officials said everyone made it out alive.

A woman whose family evacuated the town of Hay River on Sunday told the CBC that their car began to melt as they drove through embers, the front window cracked and the vehicle began filling with smoke that made it difficult to see the road ahead.

“I was obviously scared the tire was going to break, our car was going to catch on fire and then it went from just embers to full smoke,” said Lisa Mundy, who was traveling with her husband and their 6-year-old and 18-month-old children. She said they called 911 after they drove into the ditch a couple of times.

She said her son kept saying: “I don’t want to die, mommy.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened an urgent meeting with ministers and senior officials Thursday to discuss the evacuation and pledged to provide any support needed.

Authorities said the intensive care unit at a Yellowknife hospital would close within 24 hours as the Northwest Territories health authority starts to reduce its services. In-patient units from Stanton Territorial Hospital would be moved in the coming days, if required, and most long-term care patients were transferred to institutions to the south, the Health and Social Services Authority said on its website.

Officials said evacuations have so far been safe and orderly, and that evacuees from Yellowknife who can’t find their own accommodations can get support in three centers in the province of Alberta. The closest of those centers is more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) by road from Yellowknife.

Officials in Calgary said they’re preparing to take in thousands of evacuees, and are opening a reception center at the Calgary airport, where five evacuation flights were expected to arrive Thursday. A second center has been set up at a hotel for those who drive to the city, said Iain Bushell, the city’s director of emergency management.

Only those who cannot leave by road should register for the evacuation flights, officials added. People who are immunocompromised or have conditions that put them at higher risk also were encouraged to sign up.

“We’re all tired of the word unprecedented, yet there is no other way to describe this situation in the Northwest Territories,” Premier Caroline Cochrane posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. She urged residents to obey emergency management officials, traffic control devices and posted speed limits.

The evacuation order issued Wednesday night applies to the city of Yellowknife and the neighboring First Nations communities of Ndilo and Dettah.

Indigenous communities have been hit hard by the wildfires, which threaten important cultural activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering native plants.

Amy Cardinal Christianson, an Indigenous fire specialist with Parks Canada, has said the wildfires “are so dangerous and so fast-moving” that evacuations increasingly are necessary, which is a challenge in remote communities where there might be one road in, or no roads at all.

Officials in British Columbia, where about 370 fires were burning, also braced for more evacuations, with the weather forecast for the next few days predicting dry lightning that could spark new blazes and brisk winds that could change direction quickly.

Cliff Chapman, director of provincial operations at the province’s Wildfire Service, urged anyone at risk to pack a “grab-and-go” bag and to respect any evacuation orders.

The U.S. has also seen devastating wildfires, including fires last week on the Hawaiian island of Maui that killed more than 100 people and destroyed a historic town.

Rural areas near California’s border with Oregon were placed under evacuation orders Wednesday after gusty winds from a thunderstorm sent a lightning-sparked wildfire racing through national forest lands, authorities said.

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From Argentina to Zambia, the A-Z of how fans are celebrating the Women’s World Cup


It runs in my blood. That’s the common catchcry from fans all around Australia, who reflect on what it means to them to see their country perform at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chicken, beer, and South Korean football

Employees at the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney are excited to support the women’s team.()

A roar emerges from inside a replica of a traditional Korean hanok, or house.

Employees from the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney give a taste of the noise they’ll be generating during the Women’s World Cup as they support their country.


Jenny Chung was born in South Korea, but grew up in Australia, and looks after events and concerts at the centre.

“Even though I’ve lived in Australia for most of my life, I would call Korea my home,” she says.

Jenny Chung, Jihee Kim, and Joanne Tae will be attending some of South Korea’s matches. ()

“I think a lot of people feel the same way that have been living in Australia for a long time. They feel like Korea is closer to them.

“So every time we have a match like this, we go to a pub and we have chicken and beer, and we watch the tournaments together.”

The Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney runs K-Pop dance classes.()
Joanne Tae is proud to support her team.()
Kate Minji Jung is the manager of education and literature at the Korean Cultural Centre, Sydney.()

Joanne Tae is the Korean language program manager.

“Hopefully they’ll get to the finals and win the Women’s World Cup,” she says.

“But even if they don’t, we’ll be definitely proud of our players.”

General Manager of the Korean Cultural Centre, Inji Jung, in a traditional Korean hanok. ()

J-League star gets behind Japan’s women


As a former J-League star, Kentaroh Ohi knows how much football means to the Japanese public.

A junior national representative, Ohi went on to make 483 appearances with three different clubs between 2003-2022, before crossing to Australia in 2023 to represent the Eastern Lions in Victoria.

During a World Cup, Ohi says, it is common for families to “wake up at all hours”, glued to the TV as they cheer on the Japanese national team.

Former J-League player Kentaro Ohi is excited to follow the Japanese women’s team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()

“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” he says.

“Everyone’s up and about.”

After the Japanese women’s team won the World Cup as underdogs in 2011, the country “went crazy”, he says.

“As soon as they won, the popularity [of women’s football] just skyrocketed in Japan,” Ohi says.

Some of those players also went on to become television celebrities.

Kentaroh Ohi played over 400 J-League games in Japan.()
Knick knacks inside Paprica Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.()
Paprica is run by Japanese football fans.()

Watching women’s sport grow in Aotearoa New Zealand

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler hope the Women’s World Cup can elevate all women’s sport in Aotearoa New Zealand.()

Kiana Takairangi and Harata Butler play in the NRLW for the Cronulla Sharks, but when it comes to the World Cup, they’re ditching the code wars, to support their fellow female athletes.

“I’m a big fan of it myself, the more exposure, the more recognition that we get as female athletes, it’s really great for women’s sport in general,” Takairangi says.

“I feel like I’m in a privileged position to witness women’s sports, women athletes being recognised on an international stage,” Butler adds.

“Being hosted in our little part of the world for our girls to see women striving and achieving and reaching the goals and their dreams to be an athlete. It’s really massive.”


Harata Butler’s Tā moko represents her family’s ancestry.()


Takairangi was born in Australia, and has Cook Islands and Māori heritage, while Butler is from the North Island in Aotearoa.

“To me, being Māori is my identity,” Butler says.

“It runs in my blood, it holds me grounded, wherever I go in the world, whether that is at home, on home soil, or afar, like here in Australia, it keeps me in tact with my spirituality, my beliefs and my cultural practices.”

Harata Butler plays for the Cronulla Sharks NRLW team. ()

Small, but loud and rowdy Panamanians

The Altamiranda family are proud of their Panamanian heritage.()

There are only 300 people born in Panama who live in Australia, including the Altamiranda family.

Andrewfer Altamiranda is the youngest of three boys — the only one of his siblings born in Australia — but his love for Panama, and especially football, runs deep.

“[My family has] been embedding the culture and the customs of the country in me since birth,” he says.

“And that’s how I’m close to Panama, and I’m passionate about my country’s heritage.

“[Panamanians are] very loud and rowdy. We’re very passionate about the culture, the music, the food.

“And once we find someone from Panama as well it’s an instant connection, like a brotherhood or sisterhood.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda plays a Panamanian drum.()

Andrewfer’s mother, Sofia, her husband and two oldest children came to Australia to escape the dictatorship of Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno.

“We came to this wonderful and beautiful country to make them happy, better life for all of us,” she says.

“We still have [Panama] in our blood. The first time Panama [plays] in this event, it’s wonderful for us to give a lot of support to them.”

The Altamiranda family prepare dinner, while sharing their thoughts about the Women’s World Cup.()
Dayal Ortiz is excited to see Panama’s women on the world stage.()
The Panama women’s team have proven themselves equal to the men by making it to the big stage.()

Andrewfer’s wife, Dayal Ortiz, has only been living in Australia for a few years, and seeing Panama’s women here means a lot.

“We’re going to support [them] because they have done a magnificent job.

“They need to have fun, enjoy. I hope after this they receive all the support for the government that they need to.”

Andrewfer Altamiranda was born in Australia but is passionate about supporting Panama.()

Jamaica punches above its weight


Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica punches well above the weight of its just 2.8 million population, qualifying for the two most recent tournaments.

Roderick Grant, a former professional player who now runs a Jamaican food truck business, moved to Australia when he was 15.

He sees the tournament as a new opportunity to inspire young girls to take up the sport.


“It’s going to be excellent because Jamaica is so isolated as a small island,” he says.

“It’ll be a great motivator for the young girls to focus in on something and show that it can be achieved. It’s just hard work and dedication.”

Roderick knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life, having gone on to represent his family worldwide.

Ranked 43rd in the world, Jamaica will be hoping to advance past the group stage for the first time at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.()


Roderick Grant knows first-hand how ingrained football is in Jamaican life.()
Roderick Grant found a balance between playing football and bringing Jamaican cuisine to Australian.()

“Football, man, it’s one of those things growing up in Jamaica, you finish school, go home and get changed, straight to the football field in the evening,” he says.

“It’s not even to play as a club, it’s just to play with your friends, your mates, and everyone just pulls teams together. It’s a big part of what we do in Jamaica.”

Football part of Norwegian identity

Sebastian Grøgaard (centre) says football is a central part of Norwegian life. ()

At a celebration for Norway’s ‘Constitution Day’, Norwegian ex-pats get together to celebrate.

“It was the day that the constitution was signed back in 1814, and it’s also known as the Children’s Day,” says one of the attendees, Bente Ryan.

Norwegian Constitution Day is also known as Children’s Day.()
There are many proud Norwegians in Australia.()
Traditional Norwegian food.()
Norwegian Constitution Day is a time for socialising.()

“So in Norway people will gather in towns and have parades, national costumes, flags, brass bands, lots of ice cream, lots of hotdogs. And it’s a whole lot of fun.”

Amongst the group is Håvard T. Osland, the Norwegian Chaplain to Australia and New Zealand, mainly working as a university chaplain for Norwegian international students.

“It’s always exciting when your national team is doing really well, and football definitely is a big sport in Scandinavia,” he says.

“So it really is one of the things that connects us, and is part of our DNA and our identity.”

Chocolate cake brings a smile at the Norwegian Constitution Day.()
Traditional Norwegian outfits.()
The Norwegian colours.()
Traditions are celebrated by Norwegians.()

Generations of Italians share joy together

The Raspoli and Pafralis family say football runs in the blood, with everyone playing locally or watching the national team.()

For generations, family has meant everything to Carmela Rispoli, who moved to Australia in the 1960s and raised four children.

As Italian-Australians, her daughter Philomena Pafralis and granddaughter Natalie Pafralis know when they come together and watch or play, it’s always special.

Italian-Australian mother and daughter, Philomena Pafralis (left) and Natalie Pafralis (right) love to watch Italy play.()

“It’s just beautiful to get together with the family,” Philomena says.

She was born in Italy and moved to Australia at just one year of age.

Italian nonna Carmela Rispoli (centre) moved to Australia in the 1960s, raising four children including Philomena Pafralis (left), and third-generation Natalie Pafralis (right).()

As for Natalie, there was really no other option, being born into an Italian family and raised in Australia.

“If I didn’t want to do it I didn’t have a choice. I was playing all my life, all my childhood,” she says.

And after all – “Italy has to win because they’re the best in the world,” Carmela cries in Italian.

Portuguese community linked by football

As soon as you walk into the grounds of Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west, the melodic sounds of an accordion ring throughout the area.

Members of Sydney’s Portugal Community Club are enjoying a meal and listening to the traditional music, while on the football field next door, the senior men’s team is preparing to play.

A man plays an accordion at Sydney’s Portugal Community Club.()
Fraser Park FC in Sydney’s inner-west is connected to the Sydney Portugal Community Club.()
David Palma used to play for Fraser Park FC, and is now a supporter.()

Football and community are inseparable here.

Andrew Alves was born in Australia, after his parents migrated from Portugal. He used to play for Fraser Park, but now supports the team from the sidelines.

“It’s always been a massive part, the Portuguese community here, and has been for many years,” he says.

His niece, 13-year-old Annabella Vasconcelos, plays football, and is amongst the generation of players watching the tournament and being inspired.

“[I’m] more excited than to have the men’s World Cup here,” she says.

The glue that binds Argentines in Australia

Argentines in Australia are still on a high after the men’s team won last year’s World Cup in Qatar.()

“The women’s World Cup means a lot to Argentinians,” says Alfredo Couceiro of Melbourne City Football Club, based in South Kingsville, Victoria.

This is especially the case, he adds, for those like him who have relocated to Australia.

“Even if you migrate to another country, your heart is beating for Argentina,” adds fellow Argentinian Melissa Gugliara.

“Football is born into you [as an Argentinian].

“It’s in your veins, it’s in your blood.

“You love it, you become passionate.”

Argentina fans at a fan day in Melbourne.()

Cristian Emanuel Mansilla adds that football is the glue that binds Argentinian migrants.

“We are always trying to connect with other Argentinian people within our community,” he says.

“[With football], we are together the whole time. It’s why we love it; hugging, supporting, singing together.”

Even pets are roped in to support the team.()

Brazilian football ‘like a religion’


No one does football like Brazil, with some of the most passionate supporters and best players in the world.

When Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior moved to Australia, he knew there was a spread of sports compared to back home in Brazil.

“It’s hard to explain … in Brazil when you talk about football, soccer, it’s part of the culture. It’s a religion in a way,” he says.

Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()
Brazilian supporter Adilson Andrade de Melo Júnior performs on drums and other instruments at any match he can attend when they’re playing in Australia.()

“Everyone follows, every four years we stop for this magnificent event.

“Whenever Brazil comes here, myself and a couple of other friends, we get together trying to organise tickets for everyone and being close to each other.

“Last game that Brazil had here we probably had over 300 people sitting together cheering, which was an amazing atmosphere.”

Zambia’s Copper Queens inspiring a nation

Dr Elias Munshya is Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand.()

Zambia is one of eight countries making its tournament debut, and no one is more excited to sing their praises than the country’s High Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand, Dr Elias Munshya.

“It’s a huge, huge time for us,” he says.

“It’s amazing just to see the impact that this qualification of Zambia National Women’s [team] has had on young girls in Zambia.

“These players have inspired a whole generation of young girls that believe in themselves, that they believe they can achieve, that are fighting for equality, that are fighting for equity.”

Nigerians use sport as a form of survival

As Africa’s top-ranked nation, Nigeria’s women’s national team has plenty of support, including from Toyin Abbas.

“From day one, we embedded with soccer because we were colonised by Britain,” he says.

“It’s one of the reasons people play sports in Africa.”

As he knows well as a former professional player, Toyin played football, just as the Super Falcons players do so across the globe.

“People started to see soccer as a form of survival. Like you want to earn a living and it’s tough for some families, it’s very tough for some individuals.

There’s plenty of support from Melbourne’s Nigerian community with sport being a way to make a living for some players.()

“It unifies relations, the people, it binds people together.”

Nigerian supporter, Toyin Abbas says the Super Falcons can win it all at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.()
The Super Falcons are 11-time champions at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament, but have never made it past the quarter-finals at a World Cup in nine attempts.()

As Toyin says, the Super Falcons players will have success if they stay tactically disciplined together.

“We’re going to win the trophy, I will tell you,” he says.

“The Nigerian team, we have what it takes, we can be world beaters.”

Canada to ‘knock people’s socks off’

Stacey, Dylan, and their boys come from Edmonton, Canada.()

Stacey, Dylan and their three boys hail from Edmonton, Alberta.

They’re a long way from home but their Canadian national pride is never far away.

“We’re really, really proud. I think they have a really good chance of winning, [we’re] really hopeful, we will be cheering them on,” Stacey says

Rod Johns is the president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.()

Equally ecstatic is Rod Johns, president of the Canada Club in Melbourne.

“I think it’s great that they’re coming because the girls don’t get enough exposure, it’s good for soccer in Australia, and it’s good for women’s sports in general, Mr Johns said.

“Based on their pre-performance I think they’ll knock some people’s socks off, they should do very well.”


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#Argentina #Zambia #fans #celebrating #Womens #World #Cup

This summer is what climate change looks like, scientists say

The blistering heat threatening lives and fueling wildfires across Southern Europe and North America this July would have been “virtually impossible” without man-made global warming, scientists said on Tuesday.

Their findings come as the planet’s ocean and land temperatures hit new records in recent weeks, with waters around Florida and the Mediterranean coast surpassing 30 degrees Celsius and parts of the Northern Hemisphere baking in heat of 45C or more.

Scientists have long warned climate change would make heat waves hotter, longer and more frequent. Tuesday’s study found that this month’s extreme temperatures are no longer an outlier now that humans have warmed the Earth by about 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

In fact, “it could well be that this is what will be a cool summer in the future unless we rapidly stop burning fossil fuels,” said study co-author Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London. “This is not the new normal. As long as we keep burning fossil fuels, we will see more and more of these extremes.”

The study was published by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium of scientists, which uses peer-reviewed methods to conduct rapid analyses of the role climate change plays in extreme weather events.

The researchers found heat waves like those seen in mid-July can now be expected roughly once a decade in Southern Europe and every 15 years in North America. But if the global average temperature rises to 2C above pre-industrial levels, the upper limit of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, “events like this will become even more frequent, occurring every 2-5 years,” the researchers said.

Current climate policies put the planet on track to warm at least 2.4C by the end of this century.

China, which registered a new temperature record of 52.2C in mid-July, can already expect such heat waves to occur every five years, the WWA study found. Climate change made the Chinese heat wave 50 times more likely to occur, according to their models.

But global warming hasn’t just made such heat waves more likely. It’s also made them more intense.

The study found the European, North American and Chinese heat waves were 2.5C, 2C and 1C hotter, respectively, than they would have been without climate change.

On the ground, these abstract-seeming numbers translate into record-smashing temperatures. In the U.S., the city of Phoenix saw three weeks above 43C; across the Atlantic, Catalonia and Rome hit new heat records last week. Sardinia reached 46C.

Such extreme heat is dangerous to human health. More than 60,000 Europeans died in last summer’s heat waves, a recent study found. Italian hospitals reported an uptick in hospitalizations last week; doctors in the southwestern U.S. are warning of an increase in severe, and sometimes deadly, burns from extreme surface temperatures.

In countries like Canada and Greece, the heat contributed to tinderbox conditions allowing wildfires to spread with ease. The smoke from Canada’s fires continues to choke North American cities, while dramatic evacuation efforts are underway on several Greek islands.

“The Mediterranean has seen a dramatic increase in the frequency of the hot-dry conditions that were considered extreme at the end of the last century, and these increases are expected to accelerate for each added degree of warming in future,” said Matthew Jones, a fellow at East Anglia University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

NASA scientists expect this July to become the world’s hottest month on record.

Other parts of the Northern Hemisphere have seen flash flooding, record-breaking hail, intense storms or a combination of all three this month. Last week, a hail storm sent a flood of ice through the northern Italian town of Seregno.

While scientists say that climate change will fuel extreme precipitation or flash flooding in some parts of the globe, not all such events are attributable to global warming. A WWA study earlier this year, for example, found that climate change had no significant impact on deadly spring floods in Italy.

Attributing heat waves to climate change is a more straightforward matter, and numerous studies have found a clear link.

“It’s a very boring study, from a scientific point of view,” said Otto. “We see exactly what we expected to see.”

She also said that the arrival of El Niño — the warming cycle of a naturally occurring phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean — contributed very little to the high temperatures seen across the Northern Hemisphere.

“Increased global temperatures from burning fossil fuels is the main reason the heat waves are so severe,” the study authors noted.

Scientists have also said that El Niño, whose full warming effect won’t be felt until later this year, also isn’t to blame for current sea temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic.

Coastal waters in Florida have reached about 35C — an existential threat to coral reefs — while last month, the sea around the British Isles registered temperatures 5C above normal.

The EU’s Copernicus climate change service, which described the North Atlantic heating as “off the charts,” says a mix of global warming and “unusual” atmospheric circulation is driving the anomaly. Scientists also point to a reduction in shipping pollution and an absence of Saharan dust over the Atlantic as contributing factors.

While the North Atlantic’s temperature spike looks especially dramatic, global sea surface temperatures have hit record highs in recent months.

The arrival of El Niño will fuel warming both in the oceans and on land, boosting the likelihood of extreme weather events, according to the World Meteorological Organization, whose scientists have warned that the planet is entering “uncharted territory.”

As the Northern Hemisphere’s extreme summer goes on, all’s not well on the other side of the planet, either.

Antarctica’s sea ice is in sharp decline, setting new records at such a pace that scientists are increasingly fearing for its capacity to recover in the winter.

Oceanographer Edward Doddridge told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this weekend the unprecedentedly low sea ice extent “is a five-sigma event. So it’s five standard deviations beyond the mean. Which means that if nothing had changed, we’d expect to see a winter like this about once every 7.5 million years.”

Doddridge added the root cause of the decline is likely climate change, although he cautioned that other factors can’t yet be ruled out.

But there’s no doubt that ice loss at the poles further accelerates climate change. The bright ice caps reflect the sun’s warming rays back into space, while the dark polar waters absorb them. Less ice means the planet absorbs more heat.

Earlier this year, a study found the rapidly melting Antarctic ice is slowing deep ocean currents, with potentially devastating consequences for ecosystems and the broader climate.

The authors of Tuesday’s heat study stressed that governments now have to take urgent action on two fronts — reducing emissions to avoid disastrous climate change and enacting measures to adapt to rising temperatures.

“Even if we stop burning fossil fuels today, temperatures will not go down. They will just stop getting even higher,” said Otto. “And so the heat waves we are seeing now, we definitely have to live with that.”

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#summer #climate #change #scientists

‘Banging sounds heard’ during Titanic tourist sub search, US media reports

Banging sounds were heard during the search for the Titan submersible on Tuesday, CNN reported, citing an internal government memo. Other acoustic feedback was heard and “will assist in vectoring surface assets and also indicating continued hope of survivors”, according to CNN.

News of the banging sounds was first reported by Rolling Stone.

An aircraft heard sounds at 30-minute intervals from the area where the sub went missing, according to internal e-mails sent to DHS, obtained by Rolling Stone.

Rescuers searched a vast swath of the North Atlantic for a third day on Tuesday, racing against time to find a missing tourist submersible that vanished while taking wealthy passengers on a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic in deep waters off Canada‘s coast.

The 21-foot-long Titan was built to stay underwater for 96 hours, according to its specifications giving the five people aboard until Thursday morning before air runs out.

One pilot and four passengers were inside the miniature sub early on Sunday when it lost communication with a parent ship on the surface about an hour and 45 minutes into its two-hour dive.

As Canadian and US authorities stepped up the search, previous questions about the safety design and development of the submersible by its owner, US-based OceanGate Expeditions, came to light.

The wreck of the Titanic, a British ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912, lies about 1,450 kilometres (900 miles) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and 644 kilometres (400 miles) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

US and Canadian aircraft have searched more than 7,600 square miles of open sea, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

The Canadian military has dropped sonar buoys to listen for any sounds that might come from the Titan, and a commercial vessel with a remote-controlled deepwater submersible was also searching near the site, Frederick said.

Separately, a French research ship carrying its own deep-sea diving robot vessel was dispatched to the search area at the request of the US Navy and was expected to arrive Wednesday night local time, the Ifremer research institute said.

Those aboard the Titan for a tourist expedition that costs $250,000 per person included British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.

French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, were also reported to be on board. Authorities have not confirmed the identity of any passenger.

Rescuers face significant obstacles both in finding the Titan and in saving the people aboard, according to experts.

If the submersible experienced a mid-dive emergency, the pilot would likely have released weights to float back to the surface, according to Alistair Greig, a marine engineering professor at University College London. But absent communication, locating a van-sized submersible in the vast Atlantic could prove challenging, he said.

The submersible is sealed with bolts from the outside, preventing the occupants from escaping without assistance even if it surfaces.

If the Titan is on the ocean floor, a rescue effort would be even more challenging due to the extreme conditions more than 2 miles beneath the surface. The Titanic lies 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) underwater, where no sunlight penetrates. Only specialized equipment can reach such depths without being crushed by the massive water pressure.

“It’s really a bit like being an astronaut going into space,” said Tim Matlin, a Titanic expert. “I think if it’s on the seabed, there are so few submarines that are capable of going that deep. And so, therefore, I think it was going to be almost impossible to effect a sub-to-sub rescue.”

Safety issues raised before

The ability of the tourist sub’s hull design to withstand such depths was questioned in a 2018 lawsuit filed by OceanGate’s former director of marine operations, David Lochridge, who said he was fired after he raised safety concerns about the vessel.

OceanGate said in its breach-of-contract suit against Lochridge, who is not an engineer, that he refused to accept the lead engineer’s assurances and accused him of improperly sharing confidential information. The two sides settled their court case in November 2018.

The company did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters and its attorney in the Lochridge case, Thomas Gilman, declined comment. An attorney for Lochridge declined comment except to say, “We pray for everyone’s safe return.”

Months prior to the suit, a group of submersible industry leaders wrote to OceanGate warning that the “experimental” approach” to the sub’s development could result in “minor to catastrophic” problems, the New York Times reported.

US President Joe Biden was “watching events closely,” White House national security adviser John Kirby said on Tuesday. Britain’s King Charles asked to be kept apprised of the search, a Buckingham Palace source said, as Dawood is a longtime supporter of the monarch’s charity, the Prince’s Trust International.

OceanGate said it was “mobilising all options,” and US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger told NBC News the company was helping to guide the search efforts.

“They know that site better than anybody else,” Mauger said. “We’re working very closely with them to prioritise our underwater search efforts and get equipment there.”

Billionaire aboard

OceanGate schedules five week-long “missions” to the Titanic each summer, according to its website.

David Pogue, a CBS reporter, rode aboard the Titan last year. In a December news report, he read aloud the waiver he had to sign, which noted the submersible had “not been approved or certified by any regulatory body” and could result in death.

In an interview on Tuesday, Pogue said OceanGate has successfully ventured to the wreck around two dozen times and that the company conducts a meticulous safety check before each dive.

“They treat this thing like a space launch,” he said.

Harding, a UAE-based businessman and adventurer who is chairman of Action Aviation, posted a message on Facebook on Saturday, saying: “This mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023.”

Fellow tourist Dawood is vice chairman of Engro, one of Pakistan’s largest conglomerates.

The sinking of the Titanic, which killed more than 1,500 people, has been immortalized in books and films, including the 1997 blockbuster movie “Titanic,” which renewed popular interest in the wreck.

(France 24 with Reuters and AFP)

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#Banging #sounds #heard #Titanic #tourist #search #media #reports

China’s ‘secret’ police: What does it do? Why is the world worried?

The story so far: China is once again in the crosshairs of the West over its ‘secret police stations’, this time ruffling Germany’s feathers. On May 15, Berlin stated that Beijing was still operating two so-called ‘overseas’ police stations in Germany.

In November 2022, Berlin called upon Beijing to shut down extraterritorial police stations in the country. Beijing, in February 2023, responded that what it called its ‘service stations’ ­were closed.

However, a German interior ministry spokesperson stated that the police stations were “not fixed-location offices, but mobile facilities” from which official duties were being conducted on behalf of Beijing. Berlin said it is reassessing bilateral relations with Beijing, even though China remains Germany’s largest trading partner.

Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States have also confronted China about its ‘secret police stations’ on their soil.

How did China’s secret police stations begin?

China claimed that the rise of ‘online fraud’ by Chinese nationals around the world was why it set up these ‘service stations’, as per an investigation done by Spain-based group Safeguard Defenders.

In 2018, the Chinese district of Fujian launched an operation to stop scammers from going overseas. The operation took stringent steps against suspected scammers, like demolishing their properties, banning them from trains, suspending medical and other government subsidies, and banning their children from schools.

The operation was applauded by the Chinese Communist party (CPC) and expanded in 2021, with a task force of 70 to target people overseas involved in fraud and illegal cross-border travel. The Public Security Bureau (PSB), assisted by local cadres and police authorities, was tasked with taking ‘anti-fraud’ measures abroad. The headquarters of the operation was in China’s Yunnan province and other centres were set up in south-eastern Chinese provinces Nantong, Wenzhou, and Qingtian, apart from Fuzhou.

Fuzhou overseas service station in Italy

As of July 2022, 230,000 Chinese ‘suspects’ were ‘educated and persuaded to return to China’ from overseas to ‘confess crimes related to telecom fraud’, stated the Ministry of Public Security. To further crack down on fraud, China passed the ‘Anti-Telecom and Online Fraud Law (ATOFL) in September 2022, holding overseas Chinese citizens accountable for such crimes.

Nine ‘forbidden’ countries were listed as the main regions for fraudulent transactions by Chinese nationals and the public was warned from travelling to these nations. These include Turkey, UAE, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia. Moreover, Chinese nationals were advised to return immediately if they had no ‘emergency reason’ to be in those nations.

Nine ‘forbidden’ countries listed by China for online fraud

Nine ‘forbidden’ countries listed by China for online fraud

These stringent crackdowns resulted in several innocent Chinese nationals being put on the suspect list, leading to mass deportation to China to face stringent action under ATOFL. Reports state that the ‘suspects’ were often lured into fraud through threats, smuggling and intimidation and faced severe measures like loss of power and water supply at their homes or the homes of their relatives.

Expansion of ‘secret police’ globally

In January 2022, reportedly to target ‘Chinese overseas suspects’, China widened its net setting up the first batch of 30 overseas police service stations in 25 cities across 21 countries . This included Canada, US, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, UK, Suriname, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Panama, Argentina, Venezuela, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Japan, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Korea, Sri Lanka, Ulaanbaatar, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

These were set up to do administrative work for Chinese citizens abroad like renewing Chinese driver licences, passport renewal and aid the diaspora with consular needs. However, extending the police stations’ jurisdiction, these centres also cracked down on all kinds of illegal and criminal activities involving overseas Chinese persons. Reports state that these centres have made arrests of Chinese suspects based on complaints and ‘persuaded’ such suspects to return to China to face legal action.

China has set up 104 overseas police stations in 53 countries

China has set up 104 overseas police stations in 53 countries

Moreover, reports state that these stations have become overseas contact points in Italy and Germany to carry out prosecution work such as transoceanic mediation, cross-border inquiries, video reports and complaints. With these expanded powers, these service stations are being to used to target Chinese nationals abroad, particularly dissidents opposed to the CPC and President Xi Jinping.

Global concern about China’s secret police

China’s tough crackdown on its overseas citizens via these service stations has raised concerns among several nations. They believe that Beijing is using these centres to circumvent bilateral extradition treaties, local authorities’ jurisdiction and United Nations Conventions to set up an alternative policing and judicial system in other countries. As of date, there are 102 overseas police stations in 53 countries, another investigation by Safeguard Defenders revealed.

In November 2022, twelve countries including the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands and Germany launched investigations to ascertain if Beijing established such centres in their territory. However, certain governments in Africa and Asia have entered into an explicit agreement with China to set up joint patrol stations, similar to an agreement signed by Italy signed with China in 2016.

Lu Jianwang, 61, a U.S. citizen charged with conspiring to act as an agent of the Chinese government by helping set up a Chinese ‘secret police station’ in New York, exits Brooklyn federal court after posting bond in New York City, U.S., April 17, 2023

Lu Jianwang, 61, a U.S. citizen charged with conspiring to act as an agent of the Chinese government by helping set up a Chinese ‘secret police station’ in New York, exits Brooklyn federal court after posting bond in New York City, U.S., April 17, 2023
| Photo Credit:
Bing Guan

Three such stations were exposed in Toronto, with the Canadian government issuing a ‘cease and desist’ order to them. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised concerns about these stations with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022.

In December 2022, two overseas Chinese service stations in Prague were closed by the Czech Republic authorities. When the Chinese staff were questioned, they refused to divulge any information. Similarly in the UK, four Chinese service stations were found in London, Glasgow and Belfast. While a probe was launched, no action has been taken.

Meanwhile, in the US, two New York residents were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly operating a Chinese “secret police station” in the Chinatown district of Manhattan. The two accused have now been released on bond following an initial appearance in a Brooklyn federal court.

China’s denial

In the wake of the accusations, Chinese embassy spokespersons have maintained that the ‘secret police stations’ were ‘overseas service stations’ opened during the pandemic to assist nationals abroad with driver’s licence renewal and similar bureaucratic matters.

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#Chinas #secret #police #world #worried

Commonwealth realms: Which nations will King Charles III head? Will that change?

King Charles III may be set to lose yet another sovereign state under his rule – New Zealand – as Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on May 1 that he favours his country becoming a republic. He, however, added that he does not intend for change right away.

Hours before leaving for London to attend King Charles III’s coronation, Mr. Hipkins told reporters, “Ideally, in time, New Zealand will become a fully independent country, will stand on our own two feet in the world, as we, by and large, do now”.

“I don’t think that swapping out the governor-general for some other form of head of state is necessarily an urgent priority right now, though,” he added.

New Zealand is a self-governing former British colony. However, Charles retains a largely ceremonial role as head of state and king and is represented in New Zealand by a governor-general. Like other former colonies, the debate over the constitutional role of the British monarchy in modern times is rife in New Zealand.

Apart from New Zealand, King Charles III is the monarch and head of state for fourteen sovereign countries, collectively known as the Commonwealth realms — Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the United Kingdom (UK).

In 2021, Barbados removed the then-Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state, becoming the newest republic in the world. It was the first to cut ties from the British monarchy since 1992, when Mauritius became a republic.

Follow the coronation updates here: Charles III crowned King at first U.K. coronation in 70 years

What power does the King have over these nations?

As head of state, the King is represented by a Governor-General in these countries. In the name of the monarch, the Governor-General opens and dissolves parliament, commissions the Prime Minister, appoints other ministers after elections, gives assent to laws passed by Parliament and performs ceremonial duties as Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, such as attending parades.

File photo: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II poses for a group photograph with Commonwealth leaders in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on November 27, 2009
| Photo Credit:

Here’s a look at the current Commonwealth realms & their relationship with the Crown:

Antigua and Barbuda

Situated in the West Indies, at the juncture of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Antigua was colonized by the British in 1632 while Barbuda was colonized in 1678, primarily for slavery. The islands were decolonized in 1956 and joined the West Indies Federation. Antigua became self-governing in 1967, remaining dependent on the UK for external affairs and defence.

Amid calls for Independence in the 1970s in Antigua, Barbuda demanded secession from the larger island, voicing concerns about a stifled economy. However, autonomy talks were successful, and Antigua and Barbuda achieved independence on November 1, 1981. Shortly after, the country officially joined the United Nations and the Commonwealth —retaining the British monarch as its head of state.

On September 22, 2022, Reuters reported that the nation plans to hold a referendum about becoming a republic within the next three years. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the country confirmed Charles III as its King, but Prime Minister Gaston Browne expressed a wish to ‘complete the circle of independence’ and become a republic.

File photo: Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, speaks at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, on November 8, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

File photo: Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, speaks at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, on November 8, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
| Photo Credit:

Australia, New Zealand & Papua New Guinea

The first British settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, establishing a penal colony in a land hitherto inhabited by over 500 aboriginal groups.

Strengthed by the arrival of the British Navy, the settlers waged several wars against the indigenous Maori population, eventually colonizing Australia, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, which lost nearly 60% of their native inhabitants. As the settlers’ population grew, Australia was split into six colonies—over 80% white.

In 1901, Australia became a federation and the British monarch became the titular head of the state. Amid calls to become a republic, Australia held a referendum in 1999, which failed.

Recently, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced that King Charles III will not feature on Australia’s new five dollar note, opting to pay tribute to Indigenous Australians. While there are no urgent calls to alter the monarchy’s role, the government hopes to push for a referendum by 2025 if current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wins a second term.

Similarly, New Zealand’s ex-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that while the country would not actively push to become a republic, it eventually would. A New Zealand lobby group called Republic has set a goal of 2040 for a transition, hoping Australia’s referendum could speed up New Zealand’s process.

Australia and New Zealand’s neighbour, Papua New Guinea, too was colonised by the British in the 1880s following gold finds. Later, the island, dubbed New Guinea, was handed over to the Australian federation in 1906. Rich in cacao and Arabica coffee plantations, New Guinea remained under Australian administration till 1975. There have not been any strong calls for the removal of the King as titular head.

File photo: Then Australian Republican Movement chief Malcolm Turnbull during a referendum vote on becoming a republic in 1999.

File photo: Then Australian Republican Movement chief Malcolm Turnbull during a referendum vote on becoming a republic in 1999.
| Photo Credit:

The Solomon Islands

Comprising six major countries and 900 smaller islands, the Solomon Islands are situated east of Papua New Guinea. These islands were exploited by the German and British armies for slave labour for plantations in Fiji and Queensland, Australia. By 1899, the Solomon Islands were under British rule and remained so till its independence on July 7, 1978. The debate for removing the Crown as its head has arisen post the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Bahamas

Another island in West Indies, the Bahamas was colonized by the British in 1666, with a plantation colony set up comprising the native Lucayans. However, the settlers soon lost interest in developing the islands and they turned into a pirate haven. In 1718, British troops were sent to tackle the pirate menace, and the island was captured by the US Navy in 1783, prompting an inflow of American migrants.

The island gained formal independence on January 7, 1964, with natives having control over internal affairs while the Governor-General looked after foreign affairs, defence, and internal security.

As economic conditions worsened in the Caribbean due to multiple devastating hurricanes and the global COVID-19 lockdown, the monarchy has not been a top concern.

However, since Barbados’ move to remove the Queen as head of state in 2021, other Caribbean islands too voiced their inclination to do so, demanding a formal apology from the monarchy for its role in slavery, colonization and the impoverishment of colonies.

File photo: Queen Elizabeth II visiting Nassau, Bahamas in 1994

File photo: Queen Elizabeth II visiting Nassau, Bahamas in 1994
| Photo Credit:
The Royal Family

Other Caribbean island-nations

Four other Caribbean islands — Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis—were colonized by the British in 1862, 1877, 1866 and 1623 respectively. They were mainly colonized for slave labour and cultivating crops such as sugarcane, yams, plantains, cocoa, coffee, and cotton. Saint Kitts and Nevis was the first Caribbean colony of the British Empire in 1623, while Grenada was handed over to the British by the French in 1783.

Belize, known as British Honduras till 1973, achieved full independence on September 21, 1981, after months of negotiations with Great Britain and Guatemala over territory disputes. Grenada became independent in 1974, and Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1983. Jamaica — one of the world’s biggest slave markets established by Britain’s Royal African Company — cultivated much of Europe’s sugar, indigo, and cacao. Jamaica became independent in 1962.

People protest to demand an apology and slavery reparations during a visit to the former British colony by, Prince William and Kate, in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, March 22, 2022

People protest to demand an apology and slavery reparations during a visit to the former British colony by, Prince William and Kate, in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, March 22, 2022
| Photo Credit:

Two other Caribbean islands and former French colonies later handed over to the British are Saint Lucia (in 1814) & Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (in 1796). These were the last of the Caribbean colonies to gain independence in 1973.

After Barbados cut ties with the Queen, all six islands —Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines— have sought to become republics. In 2022, visits from members of the royal family were met with protests from locals demanding reparations for slavery and an apology for colonization.


Tuvalu, a group of eight islands in the South Pacific Ocean, was first colonized by the British as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1916 for slave labour. Amid racial tensions and secession demands from Ellice Islanders, the colony was split into two in 1976 and gained independence as Tuvalu in 1978. Two referendums were held in 1986 and 2008 on the question of whether the country should become a republic. Both failed, and the country remains a constitutional monarchy.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Mary Simon and Cabinet members take part in a ceremony to proclaim the accession of the new Sovereign, King Charles III, at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Mary Simon and Cabinet members take part in a ceremony to proclaim the accession of the new Sovereign, King Charles III, at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.
| Photo Credit:

One of the British Empire’s largest colonies, Canada was colonised in the 1530s, with colonies set up in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Hudson Bay. . The French too set up colonies stretching from the Atlantic to the Hudson Bay, but lost them in the French and Indian War in 1763. As the British expanded their colonies, aboriginal Canadians were driven out. The Dominion of Canada was set up combining Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1867 — giving Canada self-governing powers under the Crown.

In 1931, Canada was put on equal footing with other Commonwealth countries, with full legal freedom; however, Britain retained the ability to amend the Canadian Constitution. It was in 1982 that Canada finally became a completely independent country, adopting its own Constitution.

The monarchy issue remains pending. In 2022, a parliamentary motion by Bloc Quebecois to cut ties with the British crown was voted down by Canada’s House of Commons by a 266-44 margin.

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Jay Inslee: Send Me Your Trans Kids And Women Needing Abortions, But Not Your AR-15s

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Jay Inslee is still the governor of Washington, what with all the competence and the just generally not making a lot of waves. But damn, he and Democrats in the state Lege have done some good governing lately. This week, the state Senate passed a “shield law” to protect transgender people in Washington, including people fleeing the increasingly awful anti-trans laws in other states. It now goes to Inslee for his signature. That will make Washington the 10th state with a law or an executive order protecting people — especially trans minors and their families — who cross state lines to receive gender- affirming medical care.

But wait! There’s more! Like some other shield laws, Washington HB 1469 will also protect people who travel to Washington seeking abortion services, since it’s written to include both gender-affirming care and “reproductive health care services that are lawful in the state of Washington” under the umbrella of “protected healthcare services.” So it’s a twofer of protection against the most extreme laws being passed in other states.

As the indispensable indy journalist Erin Reed reports, the bill even goes a little further than some other states’ already good safe haven laws and EOs. Where some, like Minnesota’s executive order, authorize the governor to refuse extradition to other states that want to punish healthcare providers or parents for “aiding and abetting” the provision of gender-affirming care, HB 1469 actually prohibits Washington’s governor from cooperating with such requests. (That’s why a law is better than an EO — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz can’t prevent future governors from acting against trans folks.) Here’s that bit from the Washington law:

The governor of this state shall not surrender any person described in subsection (1) of this section where the charge against the person is based on the provision, receipt, attempted provision or receipt, assistance in the provision or receipt, or attempted assistance in the provision or receipt of protected health care services as defined in section 2 of this act that are lawful in the state of Washington.

For instance, if someone is charged under Idaho’s stupid new “abortion trafficking” law, which prohibits anyone but parents from assisting a minor in getting abortion services, Washington will refuse to extradite Aunt Nora or her Subaru Outback.

Further, the law prohibits state agencies from cooperating with data requests from states investigating people for providing or using protected health services — even under subpoena from another state.

The day before Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed that “abortion trafficking” bill, Inslee sent Little a letter to very politely tell him what a shitty idea the law was. Inslee wrote,

I question the constitutionality of this law and I know you are aware of the costly legal challenges that await should you choose to sign this bill, but, as the governor of a neighboring state, I am also deeply concerned about the impacts that (Engrossed House Bill) 242 will have on Washington residents traveling to and from Idaho.

Inslee also warned Little against any attempt to punish Washington healthcare providers under the new Idaho law, which includes a bizarre provision allowing lawsuits for no less than $20,000 to be brought against medical providers on the behalf of an aborted fetus by a relative of said nonbaby. Inslee wrote,

But, make no mistake, Governor Little, the laws of another state that seek to punish anyone in Washington for lawful actions taken in Washington will not stand. We will protect our providers, and we will harbor and comfort your residents who seek health care services that are denied to them in Idaho.

Even before a federal judge in Texas cancel-cultured the decades-old FDA authorization of the abortion pill mifepristone, Inslee took steps to stockpile a four-year supply, a total of 40,000 doses. Inslee managed that with One Weird Trick, as the Seattle Times explains:

Inslee ordered the Department of Corrections, which has a pharmacy license, to buy 30,000 doses of mifepristone last month. UW Medicine also obtained 10,000 doses of the drug. Between the two entities, Inslee said, the state now has about a four-year supply. […]

State lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 5768 to authorize the Department of Corrections to sell or distribute the drug to licensed providers in Washington.

In a statement last week, Inslee called the Texas lawsuit “a clear and present danger to patients and providers” not only in Washington, but all across the US, saying that Washington is “a pro-choice state and no Texas judge will order us otherwise.”

Finally, over the weekend, the state Senate passed a ban on assault weapons that Inslee had pushed for; the bill had already been passed by the state House, but since the Senate added some amendments, it has to get final passage in the House before it goes to Inslee to be signed. The bill will ban the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons, but doesn’t ban their possession because that would be a whole ‘nother pile of lawsuits.

“Passing an assault weapon ban will be a momentous step forward for Washington state,” Inslee said. “Time and again, we’ve seen the carnage these weapons allow people to unleash on communities. Time and again, we’ve watched the NRA and politicians defend, normalize, and even celebrate these weapons. But now the time is here when the majority’s will prevails, and we put the lives of our children first.”

Inslee appeared on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” last night to take several victory laps on abortion, trans rights, and guns, and to invite people to move to Washington. Enjoy the video!

Guest host Ali Velshi, who’s Canadian, had to get his two cents in and make a pitch for people moving to Canada, and honestly that sounds good too, especially to those of us watching from godforsaken Idaho.

[Erin in the Morning / Washington HB 1469 / Idaho Reports / Seattle Times / Jay Inslee on Substack / KIRO-TV]

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US military shoots down fourth flying object after Great Lakes airspace closure

A US fighter jet shot down an “unidentified object” over Lake Huron on Sunday on orders from President Joe Biden. It was the fourth such downing in eight days and the latest military strike in an extraordinary chain of events over US airspace that Pentagon officials believe has no peacetime precedent.

Part of the reason for the repeated shootdowns is a “heightened alert” following a spy balloon from China that emerged over US airspace in late January, Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of NORAD and US Northern Command, said in a briefing with reporters.

Since then, fighter jets last week also shot down objects over Canada and Alaska. Pentagon officials said they posed no security threats, but so little was known about them that Pentagon officials were ruling nothing out — not even UFOs.

“We have been more closely scrutinising our airspace at these altitudes, including enhancing our radar, which may at least partly explain the increase,” said Melissa Dalton, assistant defence secretary for homeland defence.

US authorities have made clear that they constantly monitor for unknown radar blips, and it is not unusual to shut down airspace as a precaution to evaluate them.

But the unusually assertive response was raising questions about whether such use of force was warranted, particularly as administration officials said the objects were not of great national security concern and the downings were just out of caution.

VanHerck said the US adjusted its radar so it could track slower objects. “With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorization of radar tracks now,” he said, “and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information.”

He added: “I believe this is the first time within United States or American airspace that NORAD or United States Northern Command has taken kinetic action against an airborne object.”

Asked if officials have ruled out extraterrestrials, VanHerck said, “I haven’t ruled out anything at this point.”

The Pentagon officials said they were still trying to determine what exactly the objects were and said they had considered using the jets’ guns instead of missiles, but it proved to be too difficult. They drew a strong distinction between the three shot down over this weekend and the balloon from China.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted that airmen in the 148th Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard fighter unit in Duluth, shot down the object over Lake Huron.

The extraordinary air defense activity began in late January, when a white orb the officials said was from China appeared over the US and hovered above the nation for days before fighter jets downed it off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

That event played out over livestream. Many Americans have been captivated by the drama playing out in the skies as fighter jets scramble to shoot down objects.

The latest brought down was first detected on Saturday evening over Montana, but it was initially thought to be an anomaly. Radar picked it up again Sunday hovering over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it was going over Lake Huron, Pentagon officials said Sunday.

US and Canadian authorities had restricted some airspace over the lake earlier Sunday as planes were scrambled to intercept and try to identify the object. According to a senior administration official, the object was octagonal, with strings hanging off, but had no discernable payload.

It was flying low at about 20,000 feet, said the official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Meanwhile, US officials were still trying to precisely identify two other objects shot down by F-22 fighter jets, and were working to determine whether China was responsible as concerns escalated about what Washington said was Beijing’s large-scale aerial surveillance program.

An object shot down Saturday over Canada’s Yukon was described by US officials as a balloon significantly smaller than the balloon — the size of three school buses — hit by a missile Feb. 4. A flying object brought down over the remote northern coast of Alaska on Friday, was more cylindrical and described as a type of airship.

Both were believed to have a payload, either attached or suspended from them, according to the officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. Officials were not able to say who launched the objects and were seeking to figure out their origin.

The three objects were much smaller in size, different in appearance and flew at lower altitudes than the suspected spy balloon that fell into the Atlantic Ocean after the US missile strike.

The officials said the other three objects were not consistent with the fleet of Chinese aerial surveillance balloons that targeted more than 40 countries, stretching back at least into the Trump administration.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told ABC’s “This Week” that US officials were working quickly to recover debris. Using shorthand to describe the objects as balloons, he said US military and intelligence officials were “focused like a laser” on gathering and accumulating the information, then compiling a comprehensive analysis.

“The bottom line is until a few months ago we didn’t know about these balloons,” Schumer, D-NY, said of the spy program that the administration has linked to the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military. “It is wild that we didn’t know.”

Eight days ago, F-22 jets downed the large white balloon that had wafted over the US for days at an altitude of about 60,000 feet. US officials immediately blamed China, saying the balloon was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals and could maneuver itself. White House officials said improved surveillance capabilities helped detect it.

China’s Foreign Ministry said the unmanned balloon was a civilian meteorological airship that had blown off course. Beijing said the US had “overreacted” by shooting it down.

Then, on Friday, North American Aerospace Defense Command, the combined US-Canada organization that provides shared defense of airspace over the two nations, detected and shot down an object near sparsely populated Deadhorse, Alaska.

Later that evening, NORAD detected a second object, flying at a high altitude over Alaska, US officials said. It crossed into Canadian airspace on Saturday and was over the Yukon, a remote territory, when it was ordered shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In both of those incidents, the objects were flying at roughly 40,000 feet. The object on Sunday was flying at 20,000 feet.

The cases have increased diplomatic tensions between the United States and China, raised questions about the extent of Beijing’s American surveillance, and prompted days of criticism from Republican lawmakers about the administration’s response.


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