Monday, February 28, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 27 February 2011
Canadian International Sports Weather

A Canadian man has been taken captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Colin Rutherford, who is from Ontario, was detained a week ago in Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan. His captors accuse him of spying and say they found documents in his possession to prove it. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Mr. Rutherford was missing, but insist he was travelling in the country as a tourist. It says it is now working, in cooperation with Afghan officials, to secure his release.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that Canada will implement all the sanctions against Libya announced Saturday by the UN Security Council, and will go beyond those by banning all financial transactions with Libya and its institutions, including its central bank. Canada will also freeze all assets in Canada of Col. Ghadafy and his family. Earlier, Canada withdrew its ambassador from Tripoli, effectively severing diplomatic relations. Mr. Harper demanded that the Libyan leader immediately end what he described as the "bloodbath" and step down.

Three-hundred scientists, policy-makers and economists from around the world will meet in Ottawa this week to discuss a global approach to managing and protecting water. And Canada, with an abundance of water as well as the expertise to manage it, will be called upon to help other nations struggling with frequent drought, flooding and water quality concerns. Zafar Adeel, chair of UN Water, which co-ordinates water-related efforts for 28 United Nations organizations, will be attending the Ottawa gathering. He says says there is a significant amount of knowledge and technologies available within Canada, but they don't seem to be visible at the international level

One of the longest work stoppages in Canadian media history has finally ended. Employees of the Journal de Montreal, the largest circulation daily in the province of Quebec, have voted to accept a contract offer, ending a lockout imposed by management over two years ago. However, it's believed the new offer will cover just 60 employees, whereas there were 250 at the start of the dispute, in January, 2009. The newspaper continued to operate during the lockout with the help of management, other media owned by the parent company, Quebecor, and various news agencies.

Beginning on April 1st, Canadian employers of temporary foreign workers and live-in caregivers who have been found to be abusive will see their names posted on a Government of Canada website. They will also face a two-year ban on bringing workers into the country. Other changes to the regulations will plug a loophole that allows recruiters to bring foreign workers to Canada with phony job offers, assigning them, instead, to perform unauthorized work which pays a fraction of what they were promised. Almost 200-thousand temporary foreign workers were brought into Canada in 2008, the last year for which data were available.

VANCOUVER: Christy Clark will be British Columbia's next premier. The former deputy premier and radio talk show host won the BC Liberal party leadership on the third round of voting on Saturday. Ms. Clark will succeed Premier Gordon Campbell, whose popularity fell after the implementation of an unpopular sales tax measure. Mr. Campbell announced his plans to resign last fall. Ms. Clark will be sworn in next month.

MONTREAL: The Montreal apartment that baseball great Jackie Robinson called home in 1946 is being officially recognized by the US government. Mr. Robinson played for the Montreal Royals of the AAA International League that summer before going on to break the colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League the following year. US diplomats, Montreal's mayor and Mr. Robinson's daughter are all expected to attend a ceremony on Monday, when a commemorative plaque will be unveiled at the residence. The event coincides with Black History Month. Mr. Robinson's widow, Rachel, has always said the couple loved their time in Montreal and that their neighbours treated them so well. She has said the apartment served as a sanctuary because of the racism her husband faced on the road.


The UN Security Councilhas voted unanimously to impose sanctions against Libya to try to stop the slaughter of civilians. A travel ban has been issued against Moammar Gadhafi and his family. There's also an arms embargo to be imposed against Libya, and the Security Council referred Moammar Gadhafi to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. The UN estimates more than 1,000 people have died in the revolt in less than two weeks.

The situation in Libya appeared to be calming on Sunday. In the capital, Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi remains in control, but in Benghazi, the opposition rules. It moved on Sunday to establish a provisional government there. In the city of Az-Zawiyah, 50-kms west of Tripoli, thousands gathered to denounce Mr. Kadhafi's crumbling regime in front of journalists there on a guided visit . Last Thursday, Mr. Kadhafi accused residents of the town, which has been hit by fierce fighting between his forces and rebels, of siding with Al-Qaeda and of being on drugs. Az-Zawiyah is a middle-class satellite town on the Mediterranean that is home to a number of pro-Kadhafi military officers and the site of the country's largest oil refinery. A Libyan newspaper said 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded when pro-government forces attacked the town on Thursday.

The UN refugee agency says that close to 100-thousand people, mainly foreign migrants, have fled Libya to neighbouring countries during the past week of turmoil in the North African nation. The UN count showed that they weremainly Egyptians and Tunisians.

Witnesses say villagers in southern Assiut province blocked a highway with burning tires and set fire to three government buildings on Sunday to protest official corruption. Meanwhile some two thousand civil servants in the region went on strike for better living conditions, saying senior officials are distributing social benefits unfairly. Anger over corruption helped drive the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, on February 11th. On Saturday, a panel appointed by Egypt's military recommended constitutional reforms that appeared to meet key demands of pro-democracy activists.

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced his resignation Sunday after a renewed outbreak of street violence in the country in the past few days. Mr. Ghannouchi was a longtime ally of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and had pledged to guide the country until elections can be held this summer. Mr. Ben Ali fled the country on Jan. 14 amid massive protests.

Opposition parties announced Sunday they are joining young protesters trying to bring down the country's long-time president. The announcement marks the second major setback in two days for President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On Saturday, two powerful chiefs from his own tribe abandoned him, and anti-government protesters mustered the largest crowds yet. The mainstream opposition parties had been reluctant to join the protests, preferring instead a wait-and-see strategy. On Sunday, however, they said they would hold rallies Tuesday to show solidarity with the protesters. In recent weeks, Yemen has seen daily protests, inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Police, using rubber bullets,shot dead two demonstratorson Sunday. Another five people were wounded when security forces opened fire on the demonstrators who tried to storm a police station. Sunday was the second day of protests and suggests that a government shake-up by Oman's ruler on Saturday failed to quell the tensions. The clashes also mark an escalation in the Oman protests, and indicate that the unrest roiling the Arab world has spilled over to Oman.

Bahrain's king reshuffled his cabinet Saturday. He did so under increasing presure as an exiled opposition leader returned to a hero's welcome and thousands of people protested in Manama to demand the Sunni rulers stand down. The move came on the 13th day of protests calling for reforms in the country, as opposition leader Hassan Mashaima returned home from self-imposed exile in Britain. Mr. Mashaima, who on Saturday night was greeted by thousands of cheering protesters and fireworks lighting the sky over Pearl Square, the epicentre of anti-regime demonstrations, called for unity.

Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is giving his ministers one hundred days to improve their performance or risk losing their jobs. His warning came two days after thousands of protesters across the country demanded better public services. The prime minister told his Cabinet on Sunday that he would evaluate each ministry's performance. His office said personnel changes would be made, depending on the outcome. In Friday's demonstrations, thousands had marched on government buildings and clashed with security forces. Fourteen protesters were killed in the largest anti-government protests in Iraq since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world weeks ago. Rights groups asked the prime minister to investigate the use of force by his troops.

A police official said gunmen set fire to two NATO oil tankers in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday. The official said the attack occurred in the area of Mangocher, about 400 kilometres east of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. He said the attackers fired at the tankers, but let the drivers go before torching the vehicles. Oil tankers carrying supplies to NATO forces in southern Afghanistan travel from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to the border town of Chaman, through the insurgency-plagued Baluchistan, where they routinely come under attack.

Afghan officials say two bomb blasts have killed 10 people who had gathered for an illegal dog fight in volatile southern Afghanistan. The attack occurred in Arghandab district, on the outskirts of Kandahar city. NATO and Afghan forces have been working to push Taliban out of the district in an attempt to establish order in and around the city. Police had been informed about the dog fight and had just arrived to try to break it up when a bomb exploded. As they got down from their vehicle, another blast went off. Five police were wounded but none killed. Canada has 2,800 troops with the NATO force in Kandahar province.

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called for the release of two opposition leaders who have been under house arrest for the past two weeks. Hardliners are demanding that the opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, be put on trial. Mr. Khatami, a reformist, has also come under attack from hardliners but remains popular in Iran. He was president from 1997 to 2005. Mr. Khatami's website quoted him as saying he hopes the opposition leaders will be released soon. The ex-president supported Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi in disputed 2009 elections. Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi have been under house arrest since urging supporters to attend a February 14th rally, the largest protest by the opposition in more than a year.

Large numbers of police and the use of new tactics, like shrill whistles and street cleaners, squelched any overt protests in China this weekend, after calls for more peaceful gatherings modelled on recent democratic movements in the Middle East. At one end of Shanghai's People's Square, uniformed police blew whistles and shouted at people to keep moving, though a constant flow of about 200 people braved the noise. In Beijing, trucks normally used to clean the streets drove repeatedly up the busy commercial shopping district spraying water and keeping crowds pressed to the edges. In both cities, police also intensified monitoring of foreign journalists, ordering reporters with cameras away from the protest sites.

At least 1,500 people gathered in a Hong Kong park Sunday to commemorate a democracy icon who helped dissidents escape China after the Tiananmen crackdown. People sang songs and held candles at a memorial ceremony for Szeto Wah in Victoria Park, which hosts a huge annual gathering every June 4th, the date in 1989 when China began its bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen protests which saw hundreds, if not thousands, killed. As well as helping dissidents escape, Szeto, who died of cancer aged 79 last month, founded the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. The organisation regularly criticised Beijing for human rights abuses and pushed for political reforms in Hong Kong. His funeral last month sparked controversy, after two former student leaders-- Wang Dan and Wu'er Kaixi--exiled from China and who were close to Szeto, were refused entry to Hong Kong for the ceremony by immigration officials. Both live now in Taiwan. That sparked claims Beijing was tightening its grip on the former British colony.

Followers of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya have decided not to form a political party and take part in 2013 elections. Mr. Zelaya's wife says the conditions are not right for the People's National Resistance Front to participate in an electoral process. Some 1,500 delegates at the group's first general gathering decided instead to push for a constituent assembly to rewrite the nation's constitution. They also ratified Mr. Zelaya, who was toppled by a coup in 2009, as their leader. He has since been living in exile in the Dominican Republic.

It was another weekend of drugs-related carnage in Mexico. At least 14 people were killed in three separate attacks in bars in the north of the country. The gruesome killings are the latest in an ever-erscalating war between the drug cartels and the authorities, and among the cartels themselves.


HALIFAX: Ontario captured the Flag as top-scoring province in the Canada Winter Games in Halifax. Ontario edged out Quebec over the course of the two week competition, 312 points to 301, while British Columbia came third with 235 points. However, Quebec easily finished first in the overall medal count picking up 137 including 51 gold, while Ontario won 110 medals and B.C. 88.

Baseball Hall of Famer Duke Snider has died of natural causes. He was 84. Snider helped the Brooklyn Dodgers win their only World Series during a career where he batted .295 with 407 career home runs. The centre-fielder hit at least 40 home runs in five straight seasons. In his early career, Snider played briefly for the Montreal Royals of the AAA International League, the Dodgers' farm club. And he rekindled his connection with Montreal in his post-career when he did colour commentary during telecasts of the Montreal Expos baseball team.

Saturday's results:Montreal defeated Carolina 3-2, Ottawa defeated Philadelphia 4-1, Pittsburgh defeated Toronto 6-5 in a shootout and Boston defeated Vancouver 3-1.

Canada closed out a perfect round robin with a 9-4 victory over Scotland at the world wheelchair curling championship on Sunday. Skip Jim Armstrong of Richmond, B.C., has won all nine of his matches at the Roztyly Curling Hall. Top-seeded Canada will take on No. 2 Norway in Monday's playoff game.


Showers are expected in Vancouver, with daytime highs near plus 5. Much colder with snow across with Prairies. Highs of minus 21 and minus 17 in Edmonton and Calgary, minus 15 and zero for Saskatoon and Regina, and minus 6 in Winnipeg. Thunder Bay is a rare bright spot, with an expected high of minus 5 under clear skies. Toronto will see some rain with a mild plus 4. Ottawa can expect some freezing rain and a high of plus 2. Montreal is in for a rough day of freezing rain, snow, as much as 10 cms, and blustery winds. High zero. Fredericton can also expect significant snowfall, as well as some rain. High plus 2. Halifax will see sun, rain and snow. High plus 1. Charlottetown also starts with sunshine, then snow. 5 to 10 cms. High minus 2. St. John's will have a mix of sun and cloud with a high of minus 5. In the far north, clear skies and minus 17 in Whitehorse and minus 23 in Yellowknife. Iqaluit will see sun, cloud and some snow. High minus 22.

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