Thursday, March 10, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Commons speaker rules against Tories


OTTAWA: The Speaker of the House of Commons on Wednesday ruled against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party government on two major issues. Peter Milliken found that International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda breached parliamentary privilege by misleading MPs about the alteration of a document. He also found that the government breached parliamentary privilege by refusing to provide all documents requested by the oppostion on the cost of its crime bills and tax cuts. The government has refused to disclose the full price tags, arguing they constitute cabinet confidences. A Commons committee must now decide what action to take against the Conservatives.

Critics say veterans charter not doing the job


OTTAWA: More criticism is being levelled at Canada's new charter covering benefits for military veterans. Critics say soldiers receive about 40 percent less under the charter than under the previous plan. The federal government admits there are problems with the charter and is promising changes. The critics say any changes are simply window dressing on an inherently flawed plan.

Study shows military spending way up


OTTAWA: A study released Wednesday says Canada is spending more on its military than at any time since the end of the Second World War. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says defence spending is expected to hit at least $22.3 billion in the current budget year. Researchers estimate that's a 54 per cent increase over the last decade. The report notes that a significant part of the budget increase has gone toward fighting the war in Afghanistan, which the report says, has robbed Canada of the ability to carry out traditional peacekeeping missions. Canada, which had been among the top contributors to United Nations peace-support missions, now ranks 60th on the list of 102 contributing countries.

Bureaucrats punished for improper actions


OTTAWA: The Department of Veterans Affairs has disciplined 54 bureaucrats who improperly accessed the personal file of a department critic. They were given written reprimands and three day suspensions. The critic, Sean Bruyea, says the punishments are little more than a slap on the wrist. A two-month internal investigation found employees looked at medical records and psychiatric reports in Mr. Bruyea's file.

Government accused of dragging feet on treaty


OTTAWA: A Nobel Peace Prize winner is accusing the Canadian government of delaying ratification of a cluster bomb treaty. Jody Williams says Canada is not following through on the formal ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and accuses the government of giving in to pressure by the United States. After two years, Canada has yet to ratify the treaty but the government says it will be presented to cabinet in the near future.

Aboriginals, environmentalists upset about nuclear shipment


OTTAWA: Canadian aboriginal and environmental groups say they will do whatever is necessary to stop the shipment of 16 nuclear-plant generators through the Saint Lawrence Seaway. They want to prevent the shipment of from a nuclear plant in the province of Ontario to Sweden. The ship would sail across three of the Great Lakes--Huron, Erie and Ontario--and then along the Saint Lawrence River. Opponents are concerned about possible radioactive leaks. Nuclear officials say thousands of shipments of radioactive medical isotopes and other substances routinely travel the same route every year. It says there would only be a few grams of radioactive material involved, all encased in thick steel.

Migrant ordered deported


VANCOUVER: A migrant who arrived in Canada aboard a ship last summer and sought refugee status has been ordered deported. The man admitted he was a former member in the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Canada considers the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group. The man's identity is banned from publication. His lawyer says he will talk to his client to decide if he will apply for a judicial review of the decision by the Federal Court. But he has no option to appeal. The man was among 492 people who arrived aboard a ship last August in British Columbia.

Judge denies bail to war crimes suspect


CALGARY: An Alberta judgehas denied bail to a man accused of war crimes in Guatemala. The judge said Jorge Sosa , who also faces extradition to the United States, would be a flight risk if released. Mr. Sosa has both Canadian and American citizenship and is charged in the US with lying to get his papers. He was arrested in the city of Lethbridge, Alta. in January while visiting family. He is accused of participating in a massacre that killed 251 men, women and children in a Guatemalan village in 1982. Mr. Sosa is scheduled back in court April 20.

Report recommends shelving shale project


QUEBEC CITY: A report in the province of Quebec recommends that the provincialgovernment stop a controversial natural-gas drilling practice. The province's Environmental Impact Bureau says shale gas extraction needs more study. Chemicals, sand and water are injected into underground rock formations under high pressure to force the gas to the surface. There's a contaminant risk to underground drinking-water supplies.

Canadian among New Zealand quake victims


OTTAWA: A Canadian woman is among the dead from last month's earthquake in New Zealand. Authorities released a list Wednesday. It includes 60-year-old Canadian Marielle Falardeau. Reports say she had been in the city of Christchurch while on vacation with her sister when the magnitude 6.3 quake hit and killed at least 166 people.


Pakistan


At least 37 people were killed and more than 100 wounded Wednesday when a suicide bomber attacked the funeral for a wife of an anti-Taliban militia commander near the city of Peshawar. The incident follows a car bombing Tuesday that killed 20 people in Punjab province, an attack for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

Libya


Huge blasts rocked the Libyan rebel-held oil town of Ras Lanuf on Wednesday. A series of powerful explosions of unknown origin went off near the As Sidra oil facility, sending flames and smoke hundreds of metres into the sky. A mechanic said a pipeline had been blown up. Soon after the explosions, scores of rebel fighters packed into dozens of vehicles retreated into Ras Lanuf from the front, apparently demoralised by artillery and air strikes from the pro-Kadhafi troops. On Tuesday, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi sent jet fighters to attack the town of Zawiya, where rebels had advanced. Unconfirmed reports said that the town just west of Tripoli suffered severe damage. In his latest televised address, Col. Gaddafi again threatened to use whatever force necessary to stop the rebel advance.

Egypt


At least 11 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo in fighting that began late Tuesday. Officials said as many as 90 others were injured. The clashes broke out when a Muslim mob attacked thousands of Christians protesting against the burning of a Cairo church last week. Analysts say the clashes added to a sense of ongoing chaos in Egypt after the 18-day democracy uprising that toppled long-time leader Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.

Tunisia


A court ruled Wednesday that the party of former President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali be dissolved. The decision will stop the party, whose activities had already been suspended, putting forward a candidate in future elections. The ruling led to street celebrations as one of the last vestiges of the ousted leader's era was dismantled. A new caretaker government of technocrats led by Beji Caid Sebsi, a respected figure with no ties to the toppled president, was presented Monday after the collapse of two previous interim administrations that included members of Mr. Ben Ali's former regime. An election has been called on July 24 to choose a national assembly that will rewrite the constitution.

Bahrain


Thousands of Shiite protesters staged a demonstration on Wednesday, demanding that naturalized Sunnis be stripped of their citizenship and sent out of the country. The demand follows three weeks of marches calling for change in Bahrain, which is run by a Sunni dynasty. Bahrain's Shiites have long demanded rights and opportunities equal to those of the kingdom's Sunni citizens and Sunnis from Arab countries and Pakistan who have been naturalized in an effort to boost the minority's numbers. Tensions remain high in the island kingdom after a clash last week between Shiites and Sunnis that injured at least a dozen people.

Iran


World powers are asking Iran to co-operate fully with International Atomic Energy Agency. The six powers--Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States--made the appeal Wednesday at a meeting in Vienna. The six powers also said they remained ready for talks with Iran to find a diplomatic solution to the dispute over its nuclear program, which the West suspects is being used to secretly make an atomic bomb. Talks with Iran in December and January failed to make any progress.

Iraq


A roadside bomb attack in east Baghdad killed an Iraqi army general on Wednesday while violence across the capital wounded 13 people, including a US soldier. Brigadier General Taha Ahmed Samir, head of training for Iraq's nascent air force, was killed when a military convoy he was in was hit by the blast. Two other soldiers were wounded in the explosion. Meanwhile,a fire of unknown origin forced the shutdown Wednesday of an oil pipeline from northern Iraq to Turkey that accounts for up to a quarter of the Iraq's exports.

Afghanistan


A United Nations report says targeted killings of civilians in Afghanistan doubled last year. The report says 2010 was the most lethal year for non-combatants in the nearly decade-old war with the deaths of 2,777 people. Insurgents were responsible for 75 percent of those deaths. The report says abductions rose 83 percent, and violence continued to spread in most regions of the country. The report also mentions that in many parts of Afghanistan, local governors live behind sandbags on US military outposts, and government officials rarely travel to the areas they are supposed to run.

Uganda


Police used tear gas against protesters Wednesday after demonstrations against the country's recent presidential election turned violent. Officials said 10 demonstrators and several police were injured. At least eight demonstrators were arrested. President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's leader for 25 years, was declared the winner of last month's election with 68 per cent of the vote. His top challenger took 26 per cent of the vote in official returns. Opposition politicians have alleged that the election was rigged.

India


Police broke up a demonstration Wednesday by about 100 Tibetan exiles outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. The incident occurred one day before the anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule that forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India. In March 2008, violent protests against Chinese rule erupted in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and then spread to neighbouring areas. Many Tibetans complain about the increasing domination of China's majority Han population in Tibet and accuse the government of trying to dilute their culture.


Wednesday's markets


In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 135.10 points to 13,877.87. In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 12.07 points to 12,226.45. The Nasdaq composite index fell 15.66 points to 2,750.11. The Canadian dollar settled at 103.23 cents US, up 0.29 of a cent. The US dollar stood at 96.87 cents Cdn, down 0.27 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5697, down 0.03 of a cent and US$1.6204, up 0.42 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3472, down 0.35 of a cent.

Alberta panel backs independent oilstands research


EDMONTON: An Alberta government-appointed panel is backing independent research that found oilsands development is contaminating the Athabasca River in northern Alberta. The panel was formed to investigate why official accounts of pollution in the Athabasca River clashed so sharply with those of independent scientists. It concludes government data is only designed to measure what contaminant loads are, not where the contaminants come from. Alberta had long argued contamination of the Athabasca River was from natural sources but has been backing off after its monitoring approach was criticized by several academic groups.

 

Homeowners express confidence in ability to pay


TORONTO: A new survey suggests that even if the stock market takes a turn for the worse, Canadian homeowners areconfident they willstill be able to pay their mortgages. The annual outlook survey from the Royal Bank suggests 85 per cent of respondents think they' are doing well when it comes to paying down their loan obligations. Even if there's a drop in the housing market, 73 per cent think they will still be in good shape even if interest rates rise.

Think tank says StatsCan off the mark on inflation


VANCOUVER: A Canadian think tank says Statistics Canada is overestimating inflation. A study by the Vancouver-based C.D. Howe Institute says the government agency is getting figures wrong because it relies on a fixed basket of goods to compare prices over time. The institute says Statistics Canada fails to take into account that consumers often switch to lower-cost alternatives when prices rise.


National Hockey League


Tuesday's results: Montreal defeated Boston 4-1, Ottawa defeated New Jersey 2-1, the New York Islanders defeated Toronto 4-3 in overtime, Philadelphia defeated Edmonton 4-1 and Vancouver defeated Phoenix 4-3 in overtime.

The Brier


Alberta skip Kevin Martin is alone in first place at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont. Martin defeated Saskatchewan's Steve Laycock of 11-3 Wednesday morning to improve to 7-1. Ontario's Glenn Howard dropped a 5-4 decision to Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs. Howard joined Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador at 6-2, just behind Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton at 6-1. Gushue defeated Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia 9-3 while Stoughton had the morning off. Jim Cotter of British Columbia edged Francois Gagne of Quebec 8-7 in the other early game.

Professional Soccer


Swedish soccer player Anton Hysen says he is gay. The 20-year-old is the son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen and plays in Sweden's fourth division. The younger Hysen made the revelation Wednesday in Swedish magazine Offside.


Thursday's weather


Vancouver has rain with a forecast high temperature of nine degrees Celsius. Calgary is cloudy with a few showers, a high of eight. Regina is sunny with afternoon cloud, a high of two. Winnipeg has increasing cloud with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-two. Toronto has rain, a high of seven. Ottawa has snow, a high of two. Montreal has morning snow changing to afternoon rain, a high of four. Fredericton is cloudy with sunny period, a chance of flurries, a high of zero. Charlottetown has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of minus-one. Halifax is cloudy with sunny periods, a chance of flurries, a high of zero. St. John's has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of minus-two. Whitehorse is sunny, a high of 15. Yellowknife is sunny, a high of minus-29. Iqaluit is cloudy with light snow, a high of minus-16.