Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 28 March 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


The campaign for Canada's May 2 general election is in full swing. On Day Three of the campaign trail, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to be looking to blunt an attack by the Liberals that his government cares more about corporate tax cuts than families. Speaking in British Columbia he announced a proposed $2.5 billion tax break to families with kids under 18. But the income splitting plan would not be implemented until the federal deficit is wiped out -- currently projected in about five years time. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff scoffed at that five year delay and said the promise was not credible. New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton took aim at both parties -- saying the Harper government is embroiled in the same old scandals as the previous Liberal government while Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois voiced similar sentiments.


A Canadian soldier, Cpl Yannick Scherrer, has been killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while on foot patrol near Kandahar city. The 24-year-old Scherrerwas the 155th Canadian military personnel to die in the Afghan mission since it joined the NATO-led force almost nine years ago. Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan is due to end in July. But a Canadian contingent will remain in that country in a training capacity. Canada currently has about 2,800 soldiers in Afghanistan.


Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says Tuesday's budget will include funding for 60,000 new post-secondary spaces by 2015-16. The move will cost the province about $309 million once the plan is fully implemented. Mr. Duncan says a better-educated workforce will help improve Ontario's economy. He is vowing to protect education and health care ahead of ta fall election, warning that the opposition Conservatives will slash public services. Meanwhile, Ontario's opposition leaders have been hammering Liberal Party Premier Dalton McGuinty ahead of the budget. Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says Mr. McGuinty hasn't been able to keep his promises on freezing public sector wages or streamlining agencies.


Police in Woodstock, say two people remain unaccounted for following a fiery explosion at an apartment building on Sunday. Officials have located five of seven people who had been missing after the explosion reduced the building in the to a pile of bricks and charred wood. Seven people, including a firefighter, were injured in the blaze but have since been released from hospital. One person was held overnight. The building had 45 units and about 100 residents have been displaced. Some are being put up at a local hotel.


Canada's federal government has finalized a settlement offer with the Caldwell First Nation in south-western Ontario. The settlement of the 200-year-old land claim provides the First Nation with $105 million. Its members will be able to buy up land, as it becomes available, in their quest to acquire about 25 square kilometres and have it designated a reserve. The claim related to reserve land and other benefits promised in a 1790 treaty, as well as land at Point Pelee, Ont., that was promised during the War of 1812. In January 2010, the two sides announced a proposed settlement. First Nations members approved it last August, and the federal government approved it this month. Chief Louise Hillier says they're most interested in buying land around Leamington, close to Point Pelee, to establish a reserve.


Jet fuel has been cleared from the site of a train derailment near Cobourg, Ont., but it will be late Wednesday before the track reopens. CN Rail says work continued Monday to remove 25 freight cars that left the track Sunday, about an hour east of Toronto. There is a slow-burning fire in one of the cars, which officials are watching, but more cleanup is needed before that can be dealt with. Via Rail customers travelling on the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa lines are being bused to their destinations. Meanwhile, the evacuation zone at the scene has been reduced to six residences and three businesses. More than a dozen homes were evacuated Sunday near the derailment in Hamilton Township, which separates Cobourg and Port Hope.




The premier of New Brunswick says he has no concerns about resuming nuclear power generation in his province, despite the nuclear crisis in Japan. New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear power plant was taken out of service in early 2008 for a major refurbishment, but the project is running three years behind schedule and $1 billion over the original budget. David Alward says while public confidence may have been undermined by the incident in Japan, the work on the New Brunswick reactor is being done safely and under strict regulatory guidelines. Earlier this month, the director of the Point Lepreau generating station said the possibility of an Atlantic tsunami represents an extremely low risk to the facility. French nuclear firm Areva also wants to build a reactor in New Brunswick, but Alward says it's premature to talk about a second reactor and his priority is getting the Candu reactor at Lepreau back in service.


Newfoundland and Labrador is banning smoking in cars when children under the age of 16 are present. The government is also banning designated smoking rooms in workplaces. Health Minister Jerome Kennedy says children who breathe in second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer health problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and middle ear infections. The government previously banned smoking in bars, bingo halls, restaurants and other indoor public buildings. The latest changes come into effect on July 1.


Ceremonies were held last night in Toronto to honor the best in Canadian music. The group Arcade Fire was the big winner at the Juno Awards, taking away four prizes, including album-of-the-year for The Suburbs and group of-the-year. Neil Young and Justin Bieber won two Junos each.


Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright says he's been "overwhelmed with happiness and joy" since the birth of his daughter earlier this year. Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, the offspring of Wainwright and Lorca Cohen, the daughter of Canadian music legend Leonard Cohen, was born on Feb. 2 in Los Angeles. Mr. Wainwright has also dubbed his partner, Jorn Weisbrodt, "deputy dad." Mr. Wainwright says having his daughter was a life-altering experience that has helped him deal with his mother's death. Kate McGarrigle died on Jan. 18, 2010, about three years after she was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Mr. Wainwright has since worked to support his mother's cancer charity, the Kate McGarrigle Fund, and other causes he feels passionate about, including the fight against AIDS. On May 3, he's taking part in a charity concert organized by the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Toronto called Hope Rising, along with Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo and other musicians.



The White House says US military involvement in Libya does not set a precedent for how the US will handle similar uprisings in other countries throughout the Middle East. Deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough said Monday the administration judges each situation separately and based on what is in the best interest of the US. He said there are no plans for the US to intervene militarily in Syria, where security forces are cracking down on protesters. Mr. McDonough spoke at the White House ahead of President Barack Obama's speech Monday night on his rationale for US military involvement in Libya. Mr. McDonough said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would be discussing an exit strategy during an international meeting in London Tuesday.


Foreign ministers from at least 35 countries, including Canada, will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the operations against Libya, which has passed under NATO control. It will be the first meeting of the "contact group", comprised of countries led by France, Britain and the United States which are carrying out military attacks on pro-regime forces, as well as countries that support the action. NATO agreed Sunday to take over full command of military operations to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya from a US-led coalition, clarifying an issue which has dogged international thinking. While France, Britain and the United States have driven forward the military action on Libya, they have been determined to ensure Arab nations are seen to be supporting their efforts. The Arab League has been invited to London and the foreign ministers of Jordan and Qatar will attend alongside Western representatives including US Secretary of State Hillary Rdoham Clinton, Alain Juppe of France and Britain's William Hague. The core of the meeting will be made up of countries which have taken the initiative to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, aimed at protecting Libyan civilians from attack from Col.Kadhafi's forces. The British government was unable to confirm whether any representatives of the Libyan opposition would be present in London.


NATO'S commander for Libya has deflected suggestions that international air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces are essentially providing air cover for advancing rebels and insists that NATO's mission is purely designed to protect civilians. Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada told a news conference Monday that the military alliance was in the process of taking over command from the US-led operation after NATO's 28 members agreed to the transition Sunday. The move effectively means NATO could bomb Col. Gadhafi's forces if they are threatening to harm civilian populations. To date, international air strikes have crippled Col. Gadhafi's forces, allowing rebels to advance from seemingly being at the brink of defeat.


A French military spokesman said French aircraft struck a Libyan military command centre south of the capital, Tripoli, on Monday. The spokesman said the Mirage fighter jet carried out the airstrike on the military complex and command centre more than 10 kilometres south of Tripoli and used by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. The spokesman said French forces in the international coalition are moving their military efforts westward, as the rebels move in a similar direction. Earlier, British jets bombed ammunition bunkers in southern Libya after weekend strikes took out a score of tanks and armoured vehicles near the towns of Ajdabiya and Misrata. The missions were staged in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's southern stronghold of Sebha. Over the weekend, Royal Air Force Tornado jets had fired on numerous targets around the key eastern city of Ajdabiya, which rebels seized from Co. Kadhafi's forces on Saturday. The planes also attacked targets near the disputed port city of Misrata in the west and were continuing to patrol the area on Monday.


Power company officials said Monday plutonium has been detected in the soil outside of the stricken Fukushima nuclear complex. The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the plutonium was discovered Monday in five locations around the plant, which has been leaking radiation for nearly two weeks. The company says the amounts were very small and were not a risk to public health. Experts had expected traces of plutonium to be detected once crews began searching for it this week, since it is present in the nuclear fuel in the troubled complex. Officialsalso said highly radioactive iodine seeping from Japan's damaged nuclear complex may be getting into seawater farther north of the plant than previously thought. The Fukushima power plant has been leaking radiation since the March 11 earthquake triggered a tsunami that engulfed the complex. The wave knocked out power to the system that cools the nuclear fuel rods. Workers have been pumping water on the reactors to try to prevent them from causing a meltdown. And safety officials say the water must be removed and safely stored before work can continue to power up the plant's cooling system. Radioactivity in the contaminated water is said to be 100-thousand times the normal level. Meanwhile, The US Geological Survey said a magnitude-6.5 earthquake shook eastern Japan off the quake-ravaged coast Monday morning, prompting Japan to issue a brief tsunami alert. But there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Scores of strong earthquakes have rattled Japan since the March 11 quake and tsunami that killed at least 11-thousand people and left thousands more missing and homeless. An Associated Press investigation suggests the people running Japan's crippled nuclear power plant dismissed important scientific evidence and about three-thousand years of geological history. The AP analysed records, documents and statements from researchers, the Tokyo Electric Power Company and Japan's national nuclear safety agency. It reports there was ample evidence of the northeast coast of Japan being tsunami prone long before the Fukushima plant was built there. The twin disasters have left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across northeast Japan.


Officials in Yemen say 78 people were killed in a blast at an explosives factory after it was briefly taken over by militants and then looted by civilians. Medical and security officials in the southern Abyan province where the blast took place Monday said many women and children from surrounding villages were killed and wounded in the attack. On Sunday, Islamic fundamentalist militants took over the factory, which was near the town of Jaar and used to make explosives for road construction. The militants took what they needed and then left. Officials said locals then entered the facility to loot it,


Witnesses say security forces have fired tear gas on thousands of anti-government protesters in southern Syria. The witness says up to 4,000 peopleprotested in the city of Daraa, calling for more political freedoms. The reports said security forces fired tear gas at first. Gunfire was also heard. Syria has been rocked by more than a week of demonstrations that began in Daraa and exploded nationwide on Friday.


Russia announced Monday its air and ground forces had killed 17 rebels in a highly unusual precision strike on a Caucasus base used by Islamists to train suicide bombers and stage other attacks. At least three Russian servicemen were also reported killed in the violence. The National Anti-Terror Committee said Monday's special operation in the republic of Ingushetia was planned by Russia's interior and defence ministries as part of a broader probe into the deadly suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January. At least three other guerrillas were reported killed in other incidents in the region in the biggest day of violence reported by the Russian media this year. The use of air strikes in the heavily forested North Caucasus mountains is a highly unusual tactic that was most notably practised in the years of open warfare that ended in the once-separatist republic of Chechnya about a decade ago. The toll is also one of the highest reported by Russian forces in a single attack since that war.


Three suicide bombers killed at least 20 people Monday in an attack on a construction firm in Paktika province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Violence in Afghanistan has increased in the past year, with Taliban-led militants stepping up their fight against the Afghan government and its Western backers. The rise in violence comes as the Afghan government prepares to take over responsibility for security gradually from foreign forces. Canada is among foreign troops with the NATO-led force trying to maintain stability in Afghanistan. Canada is withdrawing its troops this summer but will maintain a training mission there.


An American diplomat met with members of Burma's opposition on Monday to discuss economic sanctions, but democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was not present. Participants said eight political parties attended the meeting with the US charge d'affaires Larry Dinger and discussed sanctions. The National Democratic Force, a breakaway group from Ms. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, has previously said it is against the punitive economic measures enforced by the United States and the European Union. Supporters of the trade and financial sanctions say they are the only way to pressure the military rulers of Myanmar, where there are about 2,200 political prisoners. Opposition leader Suu Kyi said this month, in an interview with a German newspaper, that sanctions against the junta should remain until "something has changed here". A rare election in November and Ms. Suu Kyi's subsequent release from house arrest have reignited a debate about the measures, and the EU is poised to decide in April whether to continue sanctions against the regime.


Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared before a judge in Milan Monday over allegations of business fraud. The hearing in the judge's chambers was part of a process to decide whether Mr. Berlusconi, a billionaire-politician with a vast media empire, should stand trial in the case involving his company Mediatrade. The 74-year-old Berlusconi says he was preparing to attend another hearing next Monday in the case involving fiscal fraud and breach of trust allegations. Mr. Berlusconi is also a defendant in two ongoing trials and is also set to stand trial starting on Apr. 6 on charges of having sex for money with a then-17-year-old nightclub dancer.


At least three people have been killed in a shootout between marines and gunmen in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz. Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte said the hourlong shoot-out on Sunday occurred near an auditorium where a popular band was playing. Mr. Duarte said police had to break some of the auditorium's gates to evacuate people and prevent a stampede. Also Sunday, local media reported that police found 11 bodies along a highway leading from the border city of Nuevo Laredo to the industrial city of Monterrey. During the past four years, as many as 35,500 people have been killed in Mexico's drug wars.


A group of Greek protesters briefly occupied the Chilean consulate in central Athens on Monday in support of jailed hunger strikers in the South American country. Police say the occupation lasted for an hour and ended peacefully with no arrests being made. The protest was held in support of 14 hunger strikers in Chile, most of whom have been refusing food for more than a month. The suspects are in pre-trial detention in connection with arson attacks and small bombings carried out by anarchist groups and groups representing demands by Mapuche Indians for improved indigenous rights.In November, the Chilean embassy in Athens was targeted in a spate of mail bombings claimed by an armed anarchist group. Police destroyed the device by controlled explosion.


Israel wants clarifications from Argentina over a report it offered Iran a deal that it would stop investigating bombings on Jewish centres in Buenos Aires in the 1990s in exchange for better trade ties. The Argentine paper Perfil quoted a leaked Iranian cable on Saturday detailing the offer. In July 18, 1994, 85 people were killed and 200 were injured when a bomb exploded in a van outside the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. Argentine officials claim that Iran planned the attacks and that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carried it out. The United States and Israel also say Iran was behind the bombings. Iran has denied it.


The president of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, is threatening to fire teachers if they continue a three-week-old strike. He said that teachers who failed to show up in classrooms on Monday would be suspended without pay. And if teachers do not appear in their classes by Apr. 4, they will be fired. In addition, Mr. Lobo said he has the power to dissolve the teachers' unions for supporting the strike. The teachers oppose a proposed law that would give parents more involvement inschool subjects and they say the government owes six months of back pay to 6,000 teachers. Meanwhile, a union for more than 14,000 hospital workers vowed to join the strike on Monday.


Former US president Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba Monday on a mission that some hope could help ease rising tensions between Washington and Havana. The visit comes as relations between Washington and Havana have become increasingly frayed over the recent trial and conviction of a State Department contract employee. Mr. Carter was invited by the Cuban government and is visiting as part of a "private, non-governmental mission." But officials have said that Mr. Carter was asked by Washington to intercede in the case of jailed American contractor Alan Gross. Mr. Carter is due to meet Tuesday with President Raul Castro. There are also plans for Mr. Carter to meet with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, who had a major hand in the release over the past few months of dozens of imprisoned Cuban dissidents


The renowned theologian Jose Comblin has died in Brazil of natural causes. The Catholic Church in Brazil announced that Comblin died Sunday at a hospital in the city of Salvador. He was 88. The priest was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1923. He was ordained in 1947 and moved to Brazil in 1958. He also worked in Chile, teaching at or leading seminaries in both countries. Comblin became a leading exponent of liberation theology, which advocates activism on behalf of the poor. The movement swept Latin America in the 1960s following the Second Vatican Council. Comblin was forced out of Brazil in 1971 by the military dictatorship. He lived in Chile for eight years, but was kicked out in 1980 by the government of August Pinochet.



In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index lost 146.66 points to 13,892.73. Volume was 351.59 million shares, valued at $4.96 billion. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22.71 points to 12,197.88. The Nasdaq composite index dipped 3.61 points to 1,310.19. The Canadian dollar settled at 102.40 cents US, up 0.54 of a cent. The US dollar stood at 97.66 cents Cdn, down 0.51 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5622, down 1.16 cents and US$1.5996, down 0.35 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3763, down 3.18 cents.


The head of the Royal Bank of Canada says Canada could enjoy a "breakaway decade" of economic growth if businesses invest more to improve productivity. Gordon Nixon says Canada has the potential to significantly outperform the developed world in terms of economic growth and social leadership. But Mr. Nixon told a Canadian Club audience in Montreal that the country's promise can only be realized by tackling several key shortcomings. In particular, he challenged businesses to address Canada's Achilles heel by spending more on innovation, noting that over the last 30 years the productivity gap between Canada and the United States has more than tripled. Mr. Nixon says governments have helped by cutting regulatory and tax burdens, but that they must


Netflix has reached a five-year deal with Paramount Pictures securing exclusive subscription rights to all its first-run films in Canada. Netflix's deal for premium pay television rights means it gets access to content that typically would have aired first on channels like The Movie Network or Movie Central. The first wave of titles acquired in the deal include the likes of "Iron Man 2" and "The Last Airbender," and over 350 Paramount films will eventually be added to Netflix. Older Paramount titles available to stream will include "Titanic," "Zoolander," "Wayne's World," "The African Queen," and "Terms of Endearment." "Iron Man 2," which was released to DVD last September, premiered on Netflix in Canada on March 25. Paramount films currently in theatres include "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" and "True Grit," while titles recently added to DVD and Blu-ray include "The Fighter, "Morning Glory" and "Dinner for Schmucks."



Canada had to settle for silver at the world women's curling championship in Esbjerg, Denmark, Sunday. Olympic champion Anette Norberg of Sweden stole two points in the final end to edge Amber Holland's Canadian team 7-5. The Regina skip had the hammer in the 10th end but her final shot didn't quite make it to the button.


Sunday's results: Atlanta defeated Ottawa 5-4 in a shootout and Vancouver defeated Columbus 4-1.....In other NHL news, Sidney Crosby was back on the ice for a skate Sunday with a handful of teammates. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain spent about 45 minutes on the ice, but he's still working his way back from a concussion and hasn't been cleared to participate in full practices yet. Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5.


Canada's Tara Whitten captured gold in the women's omnium at the world track cycling championships for the second consecutive year Sunday, despite not winning any of the six races that make up the event. The Edmonton cyclist was second in the flying lap, individual pursuit and scratch race and sealed her victory with a fifth place in the closing 500-metre time trial at the Omnisport velodrome at Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Sarah Hammer of the United States, winner of Friday's individual pursuit, won silver, while Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands was third. Whitten is now one of the women to beat in the omnium heading into the 2012 London Olympics. The omnium -- which consists of six races over two days -- makes its Olympic debut in London.



Vancouver has showers with a forecast high temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny with a high of seven. Regina is cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of zero. Winnipeg is sunny, a high of one. Toronto is sunny with a cloudy periods, a high of five. Ottawa is cloudy with a chance of morning flurries, a high of five. Montreal has clearing skies, a high of four. Fredericton is sunny with cloudy periods, a high of seven. Charlottetown has a few morning flurries, a mix of sun and cloud, a high of two. Halifax is cloudy with sunny periods with a chance of flurries or rain, a high of four. St. John's is cloudy with a chance of flurries or rain, a high of one. Whitehorse has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of five. Yellowknife is cloudy with a chance of morning flurries, a high of one. Iqaluit is sunny with a high of minus-14.

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