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Dozens of Canadians dead in Iranian jet disaster; 30 Edmonton residents killed

Iranian authorities say 63 Canadians are dead after a Ukrainian airlines 737 blew up shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

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Iranian authorities say 63 Canadians are dead after a Ukrainian airlines 737 blew up shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

The jet, Flight PS752 to Kiev, crashed into a farmer’s field Wednesday morning killing all 176 people on board, including the Canadians.

A sombre Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Wednesday afternoon press conference that 138 people on the plane were headed to Canada, including the 63 citizens.

Postmedia reported that 30 of the dead came from Edmonton alone.

You can read a list of the dead here.

Reza Akbari, the president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton, told Postmedia that students, university professors, doctors and newlyweds are among those believed to be dead.

Iran‘s official ISNA news agency said two of the victims were Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand.

Pedram Mousavi
Courtesy University of Alberta

Both Mousavi and Daneshmand are professors at the University of Alberta, according to the university’s website.

Mojan Daneshmand
Courtesy University of Alberta

Other dead Canadians carried student identification cards.

Arshia Arbabbahrami, a Grade 12 student at Calgary’s Western Canada high school, was among the dead.

It is the largest single loss of Canadian life since an Air India aircraft was blown up off the coast of Ireland that killed 268 Canadians in 1985.

In addition to the Canadians, the aircraft carried 82 Iranians and 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Brits.

In a statement earlier, Trudeau said he was “shocked and saddened” by the crash.

“Our government will continue to work closely with its international partners to ensure that this crash is thoroughly investigated, and that Canadians’ questions are answered,” said Trudeau.

“Today, I assure all Canadians that their safety and security is our top priority. We also join with the other countries who are mourning the loss of citizens.”

The flag on Parliament’s Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast to honour victims of the crash. As were flags at the Alberta legislature and Calgary’s McDougall Centre.

The 63 dead were from the entirety of the country, from Halifax to Vancouver.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney issued a statement saying: “I am deeply saddened by the devastating news that 63 Canadians, including a large number of Albertans, were amongst the 176 passengers aboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 when it crashed earlier today near Tehran.

“On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I extend my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the passengers.

“Alberta has been enriched by a small but dynamic and highly educated Iranian community. This is a terrible day for them, and I am sure that all Albertans join with me in expressing our condolences to the entire community, which is affected by this disaster.

“I thank the Government of Canada for pressing for an investigation into this crash, and offering support to the victims’ families.”


Canadian transport minister Marc Garneau tweeted: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the heartbreaking tragedy involving Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 carrying many Canadians. We are in touch with our international counterparts and Canada is offering technical assistance to the upcoming investigation.”

The 2016 census showed 210,000 of Canada’s 38 million people are of Iranian descent.

Journalists from the AP, who reached the crash site said farmland was covered with debris. Dead bodies lay among pieces of the aircraft, their possessions, including a child’s electric toothbrush, a stuffed animal, luggage and electronics, strewn across the site.

Investigators have recovered the aircrafts black boxes. They claimed early reports suggest an engine fire brought the plane down.

Ukrainian Airlines 737
Courtesy Wikipedia

The crash came after Iran launched a dozen ballistic missiles Tuesday night attacking two U.S. bases in Iraq.

The U.S. military confirmed the missiles were launched at two bases – including Al Asad airbase – and troops were hunkered down. They said it would take several hours for damage to be assessed.

Early reports said no U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attacks.

Canadian officials also confirmed there were no casualties in their contingent.

Earlier, U.S President Donald Trump tweeted “All is well” about 7:45 (MST).

“Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” Trump tweeted.

The Iranian attacks come after the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi general who was the second in command of the country.

NBC reported Iran is warning if there is retaliation for the two waves of attacks they launched Tuesday night, their 3rd wave will destroy Dubai and Haifa, in Israel.

Fox News is reporting Canadian troops were housed at one of the attacked sites, but were in the process of being moved to Kuwait.

Later, the chief of defence Gen. Johnathan Vance tweeted: “CAF families: I can assure you that all deployed CAF personnel are safe & accounted for following missile attacks in Iraq. We remain vigilant.”

Iranian FM Zarif tweeted Iran “took and concluded” proportionate measures in self-defense: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Quds Force, the unit Soleimani commanded, is within the IRGC.

Earlier in the day, at least 56 people were killed and hundreds injured during a stampede as mourners gathered to bury Soleimani.

The tragedy came as the Canadian military announced they would be pulling troops out of Iraq to the relative safety of Kuwait.

Chief of the Defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said in a tweet some of the 500 Canadian soldiers in Iraq are being temporarily moved due to safety concerns.

“Over the coming days, and as a result of Coalition and NATO planning, some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait – simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security,” Vance wrote.

Canadian troops are in Iraq mainly to train the country’s army on how to fight ISIS.

“Naturally, the work we are doing on these missions, and the future of operations in Iraq, remain conditional on maintaining a sufficiently secure and productive operational environment,” Vance said.

Soleimani was buried early Wednesday in his hometown of Kerman, in southern Iraq, in a funeral that was delayed for hours by the crush of hundreds of thousands of mourners.

Iran’s news agency ISNA quoted coroner Abbas Amian as saying the stampede killed about 50 people. Officials said the Tuesday crush also injured 213 people.

Emergency medical services chief Pirhossein Kolivand told state television: “Today, because of the heavy congestion of the crowd unfortunately a number of our fellow citizens who were mourning were injured and a number were killed.”

Soleimani, responsible for foreign activities of the Qud force was slain in a U.S. drone strike as he was driven out of a Baghdad airport on Friday.

His death has prompted vows of bloody revenge from the people and leaders of Iraq.

“We will take revenge, a hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told mourners at the funeral before the stampede.

The Fars news agency said 13 revenge scenarios were being considered by Iran.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told Fars that even the weakest option would prove “a historic nightmare for the Americans.”

Trump has vowed to hit back if Iran retaliates, saying he would target 52 sites within the country, including cultural places. That’s the same number of American hostages held by Iranian students in 1980.

The U.S. has deployed 6 massive B-52 bombers to standby in the Indian Ocean.

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Hundreds of Albertans protest in front of UCP MLA offices over COVID restrictions

So just a few hours after Kenney brought in the new restrictions on Wednesday, ready they were – and about a dozen MLA offices were picketed.

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He knew they couldn’t stop the government from bringing in even more COVID-19 restrictions, but Jordon Kosik wanted to be ready to show his displeasure.

Operating two Facebook groups, Holding MLAs Accountable and Closed for Fall, Kosik had his 17,000 members ready to protest just hours after Premier Jason Kenney brought in a fourth COVID-19 lockdown, which this time includes vaccination passports.

“A couple of weeks ago, we knew something was happening,” Kosik said in a Thursday interview with the Western Standard.

Protest in front of Nathan Cooper’s office. Photo courtesy Holding MLAs Accountable

“There was nothing we could do to stop it, but what we could do is get ready.”

So just a few hours after Kenney brought in the new restrictions on Wednesday, ready they were – and about a dozen MLA offices were picketed.

Some had a handful of people show up, while others had scores of people.

“This was on organic protest, people in their own ridings,” said Kosik.

And Kovik thinks this won’t be the end of restrictions, with more likely in a couple of weeks.

“To get ready for that we have to network, network, network,” Koik said.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Vancouver gangster killed in daylight shooting

Several news sources said the homicide victim was well-known in Vancouver’s illicit drug trade.

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Vancouver cops are on the hunt for an armed killer after a gangster was slain Wednesday during a daylight shooting in Vancouver’s core area.

Amandeep Manj, 35, a known member of the United Nations gang, was shot about 3:30 p.m while sitting inside his car in the parking lot of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel near Canada Place.

Soon after he bloodied body was discovered, paramedics raced to the lot, but Manj was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said they’re convinced the shooting was a targeted hit.

Several news sources said the homicide victim was well-known in Vancouver’s illicit drug trade.

Manj’s brother, Jodh Manj, also died a violent death three years ago when he was killed while leaving a Mexico City gym.

Vancouver Police Const. Tania Visintin told the Vancouver Sun Manj is the city’s 13th homicide of 2021.

She told the paper officers responded to level three of the parkade near Cordova and Burrard streets “after a man was found unresponsive by a witness.” 

Police have made no arrests in the case, and ask anyone who may have information about the shooting to contact Vancouver police.

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COVID vaccines changing their names

The FDA approved new names in the US earlier this summer.

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What’s in a name? Plenty, apparently, when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.

Health Canada announced Thursday it will accept the change in new brand names of the three most common vaccines Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The Moderna vaccine will go by SpikeVax and the AstraZeneca vaccine will be named Vaxzevria.

The Pfizer vaccine will now be called Comirnaty, which the company said represents a combination of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community, and immunity.

CBC said the vaccines didn’t go by their brand name initially, but now that new and more long-term data has been submitted and approved they will go by their permanent name.

Canada is still expected to receive vials labelled Pfizer-BioNTech for the next several months.

The FDA approved new names in the US earlier this summer.

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