Saturday, March 5, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 4 March 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


The last member of a group of 18 Canadians arrested and charged with acts related to terrorism was sentenced Friday to life imprisonment. Ontario Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson said Shareef Abdelhaleem didn't show remorse for his role in a plan to set off three one-tonne fertilizer bombs, including two in downtown Toronto. Abdelhaleem, who is 35, was found guilty in February 2010 of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion. He and 17 others, who came to be known in the media as the Toronto 18, were arrested in 2006 and charged with terrorism offences. Seven had their charges dropped or stayed, seven pleaded guilty and four were convicted.


A former director of the US Drug Enforcement Agency suggests that the Government of Canada's a tough-on-crime agenda, which includes the construction of more prisons, may be ill-advised. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who ran the DEA under the recent Bush Administration, told the House of Commons public safety committee in Ottawa on Thursday that a similar program in the US proved to be a mistake. He cautioned the Canadian legislators not to do the same. Mr. Hutchinson said the mistakes made by the Bush administration were twofold. First, it did not put enough emphasis on preparing convicts for release, which led to a high degree of recidivism. Critics say Canadian proposals will have the same effect. Second, he said, the mandatory minimum sentences introduced in the United States were often unfair and put people behind bars who did not need to be there. The Canadian government has also expanded the number of crimes that would require a mandatory minimum sentence. Because of tough criminal justice policies in the United States, one in every 100 American adults is behind bars - up from one in 400 in the 1970s.


The Canadian government is reportedly paying a severance of $400-thousand to Christiane Ouimet, who resigned in disgrace last year as the public-sector integrity commissioner. Her role was to protect those people in government who try to disclose wrongdoing. She resigned last fall after a critical report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser said Miss Ouimet failed to do her job properly.


As the Government of Canada introduces legislation to enable it freeze any assets foreign despots may have in this country, comes word that the deposed Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, has investments in Canada. The CTV network reports that several members of his regime also have money here. However, the new legislation stipulates that before any assets are frozen, it must be established they were acquired illegally. Moreover, the Canadian government cannot act without a formal request from the country where the assets were acquired. The new legislation was only introduced on Thursday and has not yet been passed into law.


Canada is contributing $500-thousand to help New Zealand's relief and recovery efforts following last month's quake. The monies are to be dispersed through a New Zealand global appeal fund designed to complement the relief efforts of organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. According to the latest figures, the 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed 163 people after striking Christchurch on February 22nd.


Opposition Members of Parliament are calling for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to resign for using his M-P letterhead to raise money for the governing Conservative party. The New Democratic Party says Mr. Kenney's letter asking for money was mistakenly sent to New Democrat MP Linda Duncan. Her colleague Pat Martin accuses Kenney of abusing his office and privileges for a political motive. Government House Leader John Baird afreed that parliamentary offices should not be used for political purposes.


A candidate in the Haitian presidential election is campaigning in Montreal. Mirlande Manigat is there to urge Haitian-Montrealers to encourage their friends and relatives back home to vote for her. Montreal is home to one of the largest Haitian communities outside Haiti itself. Ms. Manigat will face off against former singer Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly in the March 20th runoff vote, to determine who becomes president of the Caribbean nation.


To the delight of the crowd at Toronto's Air Canada Centre Thursday night, pop superstar Lady Gaga shared the stage with Maria Aragon. Maria is a 10-year-old grade schooler from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who caught Lady Gaga's attention - and then the world's - when she posted a video on YouTube singing Gaga's song, Born This Way. That earned her an invitation to join the superstar on stage in Toronto. With an orange stuffed monkey slung around her neck, Miss Aragon hugged Gaga tightly then sat on her lap at a black grand piano, taking the lead on vocals. She returned later in the evening for an encore. Gaga's tour will wind through Ottawa and Montreal before wrapping May 6th in Mexico City.



Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fired tear gas at protesters in Tripoli on Friday, seemingly smothering attempts to revive demonstrations. While Col. Gadhafi tightened his hold on the capital, his forces also made an intensified assault on Zawiya, the closest opposition-held city to Tripoli. A brigade commanded by his son Khamis battered Zawiya in fierce fighting. The commander of the rebel forces - Hussein Darbouk, a colonel in Gadhafi's army who defected - was shot to death by fire from an anti-aircraft gun, and at least three other rebel fighters were killed in the battle. There are also reports of 30-civilian deaths. But Zawiya, according to eye witnesses, remained in opposition hands. Zawiya's fighters have beaten back several attacks in the past two weeks by Gadhafi forces trying to re-capture the city. So far, the Libyan leader's troops have been unable to take back significant ground from the opposition, which has taken over the entire east of the country and several cities in the west near Tripoli. But they did some damage Friday outside rebel-held Benghazi. According to a hospital official, twin blasts at a weapons depot killed at least 12 people and wounded another 26 .


Tunisia is moving ahead with plans to form a new administration. Beji Caid-Essebsi, the country's new premier, says he will present a new Cabinet in coming days. The announcement is the latest step by Tunisia's interim leaders to stabilize the country after longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled in the face of widespread protests. Legislative elections have been set for July 24th.


Thousands of people held demonstrations across Iraq Friday to protest against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. The demonstrations came after nationwide protests, in more than a dozen cities a week ago, forced Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to give his cabinet 100 days to improve the situation or face dismissal. Friday's rallies have been called by some as a Day of Regret, to mark one year since parliamentary elections. It took politicians more than nine months to form a government after the election on March 7, 2010. And currently, several key positions, such as the ministers of interior, defense and planning, remain unfilled.


Thousands of Egyptian demonstrators gave new Prime Minister Essam Sharaf a warm reception in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday, a day after he was named to the post. Mr. Sharaf, who wants political and economic change, replaces Ahmed Shafiq, who resigned on Thursday. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power upon Hosni Mubarak's resignation February 11th, has pledged to oversee a transition to a free democratic system. Protesters had been demanding that the interim government headed by former prime minister Shafiq be purged of members of the old regime.


In Yemen, soldiers killed four protesters and wounded seven others Friday when they opened fire on an anti-government rally in the northern province of Amran. The shooting came a day after the opposition and clerics offered President Ali Abdullah Saleh a smooth exit from power. Meanwhile, in the main southern city of Aden, tens of thousands of mourners attended a funeral for two protesters killed by security forces during last month's violence. President Saleh's 32-year rule has been shaken by a series of protests that have killed at least 19 people since February 16th. He has promised to defend his regime and is accusing his opponents of staging protests to divide the nation.


Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly planning a new initiative to establish a Palestinian state within temporary borders. Israel has been facing growing isolation over the impasse in peace talks. They broke down in late September after Israel failed to sustain a moratorium on settlement building. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to announce his new diplomatic initiative during a visit to the United States in May. Details of the plan are still sketchy, but the idea is believed to involve the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders, while providing guarantees about talks on final status issues.


A bomb attack today on a mosque in Pakistan killed at least nine people and wounded as many as 30. Hundreds of people were coming out of the mosque near the town of Nowshera in the northwest when the blast occurred. The bomb had been planted inside the building. The attack follows a suicide car bombing on Thursday in a densely populated area of Hangu which is located some 150 kilometres south of Peshawar and borders the troubled tribal belt along the Afghanistan border. Ten people were killed in the bombing. Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants launch daily attacks across northwest Pakistan and the tribal belt that the U.S. has calls the most dangerous place on Earth.


China will increase its military budget by nearly 13-percent this year, a move expected to cause unease in the region. Many experts believe China's actual spending on the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army is far higher than what the government reports. China often mentions that its defense spending is weak in comparison with the United States, and that its military upgrades are for defensive purposes. But China recently conducted its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet, an aircraft that avoids radar detection. China could also launch its first aircraft carrier this year, a year earlier than US military analysts had expected. Other nations in the East Asia region are upgrading their forces in response to China's build-up.


Russian aircraft designer Mikhail Simonov - the man behind the legendary Sukhoi fighter jet - has died at the age of 81. The planes, which rivalled fourth-generation US jets produced in the 1980s and 1990s, are still being produced and flown today. The Su-27 is widely acknowledged as one of the 20th century's best multi-purpose jets. In 1998, Mr. Simonov, who died Friday in Moscow, received the official state title of "Legend of the Aerospace Industry". He also received, over the course of his career, a Lenin prize and two state prizes, along with the Order of the Red Banner during the Soviet times, and was awarded with the Hero of Russia medal in 1999.



The Toronto stock market closed higher as unrest in the Mideast sent oil prices surging. Crude oil jumped $2.51 to US$104.42 a barrel. The S&P/TSX composite index gained 38.05 points to 14,252.77. US stocks on Friday lost nearly half of the ground gained in Thursday's surge as Middle East turbulence and the resulting high oil prices trumped positive economic news going into the weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 88.32 points (0.72 percent) at 12,169.88 in closing trading. The broad-based S&P 500 gave up 9.84 points (0.74 percent) at 1,321.13, while the Nasdaq Composite ceded 14.07 points (0.50 percent) at 2,784.67. The Canadian dollar closed 0.05 of a cent higher to 102.91 cents US on Friday. The U.S. dollar stood at 97.17 cents Cdn, down 0.05 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5813, down 0.05 of a cent and US$1.6274, up 0.04 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3589, up 0.19 of a cent.


The U-S economy created 222-thousand private sector jobs last month and the Royal Bank of Canada's chief economist believes that augers well for the Canadian economy. Paul Ferley says anything that puts money in American consumers' pockets benefits producers in Canada. He says the most direct beneficiary of improved U-S labour markets will be auto assembly plants and parts manufacturers in Ontario. Canadian jobless statistics for last month will come out next Friday.


Bombardier, the third-largest aircraft maker in the world behind Airbus and Boeing, says it has secured a financing deal worth up to $8 billion from a Chinese leasing firm. Under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two firms, ICBC Leasing will provide customers of Bombardier with advance payment financing, delivery financing and leasing solutions for some commercial and business jets. ICBC Leasing is a subsidiary of banking giant Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The deal also covers financing for Bombardier Aerospace and its affiliates in the areas of service and production.


SNC-Lavalin raised doubts about the future of its projects in Libya on Friday as it stopped including several contracts in the North African country in its order backlog. As it reported a sharp increase in earnings and a big dividend increase Friday, SNC said the "company decided to remove these projects as a precautionary measure that will remain in place until the situation is further clarified." Canada has joined the United Nations in slapping sanctions on the Gadhafi government. Though Ottawa has said the sanctions do not ban commercial activity by Canadian companies in Libya, they prevent financial dealings with the Libyan government and its institutions and agencies, including the Libyan Central Bank. SNC-Lavalin has several construction contracts in Libya including an airport, a prison and a massive irrigation project.



Canada captain Ashish Bagai praised opposite number Shahid Afridi after the Pakistan talisman smothered his team's push for an upset World Cup win. Canada dismissed Pakistan for a paltry 184 before slipping from 104-3 to 138 all out in 42.5 overs, going down by 46 runs in Thursday's match at R. Premadasa stadium. Afridi rocked Canada with figures of 5-23, including a burst of four wickets off 17 balls in his second spell, taking his total tally of wickets to 14 - the most in the tournament. Canada have lost all three games at the World Cup and have yet to post a total above 150, a record which has left them second from bottom of Group A, with only the equally hapless Kenya below them. Canada, who have also lost to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, now face Kenya in New Delhi on Tuesday.



The Toronto Raptors are set to make their British debut. They're playing one of two regular season games against New Jersey this afternoon in London, England. Toronto will be hoping for some fan support with several European players on its roster.


Daniel Garza rallied to defeat Frank Dancevic 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to give Mexico an early lead over Canada after the first match of their Davis Cup tie Friday. Garza clawed his way back into the match thanks to a series of unforced errors by Dancevic on the outdoor clay court. Dancevic, from Niagara Falls, Ont., is ranked 202nd in the ATP's men's singles standings, compared to No. 439 for Garza. Hard-serving Milos Raonic, of Thornhill, Ont., (No. 37) faced Manuel Sanchez (No. 546) later Friday afternoon. Raonic will team with Vasek Popisil of Vernon, B.C., against Luis Diaz-Barriga and Miguel-Angel Reyes-Varela on Saturday. A win over Mexico will send the Canadians to a second-round pairing with Ecuador in July, while a loss would force them to play a relegation tie to keep their spot in Americas Zone Group I for 2012.



A mix of sun and cloud in Vancouver. High plus 8. For Edmonton and Calgary, a chance of flurries with highs of minus 15 and minus 17. Variable skies for Saskatoon. High minus 16. For Regina, chance of flurries and minus 16. Sunshine over Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, with highs of minus 14 and minus 8. Rain for Toronto and Ottawa, with highs of plus 9 and plus 6. For Montreal, snow changing to rain. High 8. For Fredericton, snow changing to rain. High plus 3. Halifax will have a sunny day with a high of plus 3. Increasing cloudiness for Charlottetown. High zero. Sunny and minus 5 for St. John's. Whitehorse: variable conditions with a chance of flurries. High minus 12. For Yellowknife and Iqaluit, sunny with highs near minus 25.

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