Friday, September 17, 2010

RCI Cyberjournal


An oil tanker that ran aground in the Northwest Passage two weeks ago was freed without any of its load of cargo spilling. The ship is carrying nine million litres of diesel fuel. The vessel's owner, Woodbridge Oil, pumped some of the fuel out to lighten its load. The operation took place over two days southwest of the town of Gjoa Haven in the eastern territory of Nunavut. Canada's department of transportation is conducting an investigation to find out how the boat came to be stranded. It also says fines will be imposed if the company is found to have violated regulations.


The Canadian government wants the Tamil migrants who arrived by ship in the west coast province of British Columbia last month to be kept in custody until their identities have been verified. The government wants the court to overturn the Immigration and Refugee Board's decision to release four women from the nearly 500 migrants that were aboard the ship from Sri Lanka. Hearings are continuing to determine their status. The federal government has said it will in future stop ships carrying migrants that approach Canadian shores. Officials are concerned that there might be Tamil Tiger terrorists among the migrants. The group is banned as a terrorist organization.


Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canada can learn lessons from Australia's experience in dealing with illegal migrants but shouldn't imitate some of their controversial practices in dealing with the problem. Mr. Kenney is at present in the Philippines and will travel to Australia on Friday on a fact-finding mission. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ordered him and the rest of cabinet to find ways to prevent a repetition of the arrival of almost 500 ethnic Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka on a ship in British Columbia last August. Australia detains migrants arriving by ships, sometimes on remote islands. They are then deported pending a refugee hearing. The practices haven't proven effective in deterring migration. Nonetheless, Mr. Kenney says the Australians have considerable experience and it may be possible for the two countries to co-operate on the migration issue.


The Canadian government is speeding up the process of approving foreign-trained dentists who want to practice in Canada. Officials say the process will reduce the wait time from seven years to less than one for foreign dentists. About 1,200 foreign-trained dentists have already applied through the new program.


The Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal are now among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world due to a stronger Canadian dollar and higher inflation rate. A survey by the Swiss bank UBS says Toronto and Montreal now rank eighth and ninth among 73 cities surveyed. Oslo, Zurich and Geneva remain the world's most expensive cities. But Canada's two largest cities ranked higher than London, Singapore and even Paris.


A U.S. Senate committee has voted in favour of a proposed nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. The vote by the foreign relations committee was 14-4, with three Republican Party senators voting with the Democrats. The full 100-member Senate will vote on it but it's unclear when. Ratification by the Senate would be a major foreign policy achievement for President Barack Obama. The treaty would reduce the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third to 1,500.


China is warning the United States against exerting too much pressure on demanding Chinese currency reforms. The warning comes as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made his strongest appeal to date to China to allow its currency to rise against the dollar. Mr. Geithner said that Chinese currency reforms are proceeding far too slowly. He noted that in the past two years, China's currency has remained essentially unchanged. His comments were echoed by other members of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party who are seeking re-election in November. Sen. Charles Schumer called for a change in U.S. policy toward China, while other Democrats urged the government to take its case before the International Monetary Fund. A low exchange rate makes Chinese imports cheap to buy.


Three days of talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, have concluded in Jerusalem with no sign of a deal regarding Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a proposal to extend the current moratorium on construction which expires on Sept. 30 by three months. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he'll quit the talks if building resumes. The U.S. has arranged the resumption of direct negotiations aimed at settling the basic issues involved in the creation of a Palestinian state within one year.


Some 200 journalists and activists marched in Kiev to mourn a slain journalist on the 10th anniversary of his death. The marchers handed in a petition to the presidential administration demanding that those responsible for the death of Georgy Gongadze be brought to justice. Mr. Gongadze was frequently critical of then-President Leonid Kuchma. On Tuesday, prosecutors said former Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko instigated and ordered the murder. He committed suicide in 2005.


Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko says he'll be a candidate in his country's presidential election on Dec. 19. He says he wants to govern for a fourth five-year term. In making his announcement, he criticized his opponents violently, referring to them as enemies of the people. He also accuses his adversaries of being involved in political pressure on Belarus by its neighbour Russia. Relations between the two countries have soured over Mr. Lukashenko's occasional overtures to the West and haggling over the price of Russian natural gas deliveries. This has led to speculation that Russia might be tempted to back a rival candidate.


Troops from 17 countries will join a military parade in Mexico City today in celebrations marking 200-years of Mexico's independence from Spain. A $40-million spectacle of fireworks, rock concerts and parades launched the celebrations in Mexico City on Wednesday. The celebrations mark the 1810 uprising by rebel priest Miguel Hidalgo that led to the ousting of the Spanish by 1821. The celebrations are being held as the country's drug-related violence continues. Eight suspected drug gang members died in a clash with soldiers near the U.S. border Wednesday.


Cuba has accused U.S. President Barack Obama of not changing U.S. policy toward Cuba as promised. Cuba's foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, says the 48-year U.S. economic embargo is even stricter under Mr. Obama's administration. The Cuban minister says that in the early days of his presidency, Mr. Obama spoke of a new start with Cuba but that it has not occurred. Mr. Rodriguez will present a report on the embargo during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 26.


West African leaders will consider sending troops to Guinea-Bissau at an emergency meeting scheduled tomorrow. Guinea-Bissau is facing its latest political crisis in a 40-year history of military coups and political instability. Earlier this year, the chief of the country's armed forces was overthrown by his deputy, raising international concern about the state of the country's democracy. The 15 leaders of the Economic Community of West African States will meet in Nigeria to consider a request by Guinea-Bissau's president to send 600 troops. Guinea faces political impasse after it halted its presidential run-off election planned for the weekend.


The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is devising a plan to frustrate a hostile takeover bid by Anglo-Australian mining firm BHP Billiton. PotashCorp. director rejected the US$38-billion bid last month as too low. According to The Globe, the Canadian firm is trying to assemble a consortium led by Chinese investors that would make a better bid. The plan would involve considerable capital from a Chinese resource firm or investment fund, which would be combined with a range of investment by smaller players. The newspaper says the plan would be acceptable to the Canadian and Saskatchewan government, and would also fulfil China's needs for fertilizer to help feed its growing population. China is the world's top consumer of potash.


British Columbia on Friday: rain south, sun north, high C18 Vancouver. Yukon: sun. Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 17, Yellowknife 7, Iqaluit 8. Alberta, Manitoba: sun. Saskatchewan: rain north, sun south.



Brian Gionta appears poised to wear the 'C' for the Montreal Canadiens. A published report in Montreal says the forward will be named the team's next captain. The appointment is expected to be confirmed during training camp.