Saturday, April 2, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 1 April 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports


The campaign for Canada's May 2 federal election continued Friday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a re-announcement of budget initiatives to protect jobs and help laid-off older workers. The prime minister told supporters in New Brunswick that the government will extend a job-sharing program aimed at reducing or preventing layoffs. Mr. Harper also said he is committed to cutting per-vote subsidies to political parties if his party receives a majority. Mr. Harper has long been opposed to the funding Ottawa provides to political parties that is based on the number of votes they get. Meanwhile, in London, Ont., Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff promised help for people who have to leave their jobs to take care of sick relatives. Mr. Ignatieff said a Liberal government would set up a six-month employment insurance benefit for people who care for family members. He also promised a family care tax benefit, similar to the child care benefit, that would be targeted to low-and middle-income earners. New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton said an NDP government would invest $165 million to train and recruit new doctors and nurses. In a promise echoing his previous election platforms, Mr. Layton said he would add 1,200 doctors and 6,000 nurses over the next 10 years. He told supporters in Sudbury, Ont., that he also wants to repatriate 300 Canadian doctors who are living abroad, as recommended by the Canadian Medical Association. And he said he would forgive student loans for health professionals, and streamline recognition of foreign credentials so that nurses and doctors from other countries are able to work in Canada.


A new public opinion poll suggests that Canadians would prefer a majority government be elected on May 2. However, the poll suggests that voters are not ready to hand one to either Prime Minister Stephen Harper or Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey found 29 per cent of respondents would prefer a Conservative majority under Prime Minister Harper; another eight per cent would prefer a Tory minority. Sixteen per cent would prefer a majority led by Liberal Leader Ignatieff, 12 per cent a Liberal minority. Combining the findings for the two leaders, the poll suggests 45 per cent would like to see a majority government of some stripe versus 20 per cent who'd be content with another minority. Another 24 per cent said they'd prefer some other result. At the moment, the poll suggests few believe any party will capture a majority. Only 18 per cent predicted a Tory majority, just six per cent a Liberal majority. Fully 40 per cent expect a Conservative minority, 12 per cent a Liberal minority.


Members of five Vancouver Island First Nations marked a historic milestone on Friday, with the implementation of a modern-day treaty 20 years in the making. The bands, collectively known as the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, represent about 2,100 people near the communities of Bamfield, Port Alberni, Campbell River and Ucluelet. Under the Maa-nulth treaty, the bands get a land settlement of more than 24,500 hectares, a one-time payment of $120 million and annual payments of $10 million. They also gain powers of self-government so they can run their own affairs and have more control over their land and resources. The agreement is only the second modern-day treaty in British Columbia, where unlike other provinces the colonial government for the most part did not sign treaties with First Nations hundreds of years ago as they settled the land. Residents gathered at a band community hall near Bamfield at midnight last night to celebrate and they will gather Saturday for further celebrations that will include representatives of the provincial and federal governments, and the BC Treaty Commission.


Canadian health officials are again reassuring British Columbia residents about the levels of radiation been detected in that province as a result of the nuclear crisis in Japan. The latest concern is an increase in radiation in milk in the nearby US state of Washington. But the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says people do not need to stop drinking milk. It says the levels of radiation are far below internationally-accepted levels of concern. The radiation is coming from Japanese reactors damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.


The opposition Liberals in New Brunswick say the provincial government needs to use the federal election to pressure Ottawa to cover cost overruns at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant. Opposition Leader Victor Boudreau said Fridayif Prime Minister Stephen Harper can support the Lower Churchill hydro project in Labrador, then New Brunswick should get funding as well. The refurbishment of the reactor at Point Lepreau is running three years behind schedule and a billion dollars over budget. Premier David Alward and the province's previous Liberal government have argued that the people of New Brunswick shouldn't have to pay for problems encountered by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., a federal Crown corporation. New Brunswick Energy Minister Craig Leonard says negotiations with Ottawa are going well, and he expects New Brunswick won't have to pay the cost overruns. Mr. Boudreau said unless Mr. Harper makes a commitment during the campaign, the province should threaten to take the federal government to court.


Municipal government officials in the province of Quebec are going to have to take a course in ethics. The course was introduced in reaction to recent scandals implicating municipal officials in several towns and cities, including Montreal. Public confidence in their local elected members has suffered. Municipal governments have until December to create an official ethics policy.


Leonard Cohen is the ninth recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize, which is awarded for a lifetime contribution to the arts. Mr. Cohen, 76, was chosen by a jury with international representation including Canadian film director Atom Egoyan, British actor and author Stephen Fry, and American pianist and teacher Gary Graffman. Mr. Cohen receives $50,000 and gets to choose a young artist to receive the $15,000 City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protege Prize. His work will also be honoured during a series of events throughout the year. The prize, which is sometimes called "The Nobel Prize of the Arts," is handed out in memory of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. Past winners have included Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu, Pierre Boulez, Oscar Peterson and Yo-Yo Ma.



The Libyan government late Friday rejected a proposed a conditional ceasefire by rebelsas opposition fighters continued to battle forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the oil town of Brega. Transitional National Council leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the opposition is ready for a ceasefire provided Col. Gadhafi's forces end their assaults on rebel-held cities. The announcement came two days after rebels were driven out of a string of key oil terminals in eastern Libya they had twice seized during the weeks-old revolt aimed at toppling Col. Gadhafi's 41-year-old regime. After weeks of near-anarchy in their ranks, the Benghazi-based leaders of the insurrection appeared to be attempting to better organize their forces. As the rebels called for heavy armaments to match the superior firepower of Col. Gadhafi's army, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates asserted the opposition needed training more than guns but suggested other nations do that job. His French counterpart, Gerard Longuet, said providing weapons was not part of the UN mandate, and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen also ruled out such a move. The rebels said on Friday the tiny Arab nation of Qatar had agreed to a deal that will give the rebels money for weapons and other items in exchange for the oil they control.


The European Union said Friday it will mount a military operation to support humanitarian assistance in Libya, if asked. In a written statement, the European Council said the headquarters of the operation would be in Rome. The statement said that, if asked by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the EU force -- named EUFOR Libya -- would help with the safe evacuation of displaced persons and support the activities of humanitarian operations. The statement said the operation would cost about $14 million. It gave no details of what the operation would entail.


Radiation has seeped into groundwater at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Although officials say it has not affected supplies of drinking water, it could pose a long-term problem. Nuclear experts say it's a sign the overheating reactors are still not under control after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the United States is sending two huge pumps to Japan to pour water on the overheating reactors at the plant. The pumps, which weigh more than 80 tonnes, normally spray concrete for new buildings, bridges, and other massive construction projects. Japan's quake and tsunami left more than 27,500 people dead or missing and caused damage that may reach 300-billion dollars U.S. On Friday, thousands of Japanese and US troops launched an intensive air and sea operation Friday to recover bodies still left from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.


Radioactivity from Japan's damaged nuclear reactor has been detected in the atmosphere around the Russian capital of Moscow. Officials from Moscow's facility treating nuclear waste said Friday it has been detecting traces of iodine and strontium isotopes since last week. Oleg Polsky, the deputy director of Radon, a company set up in Moscow to monitor radioactivity and dispose of radioactive waste in central Russia, said the minuscule amounts were possible to detect only via the company's powerful filtering systems and don't pose any health risks.


Security forces opened fire on protesters on Friday. Witnesses and human rights activists said an unknown number of people were killed. The unconfirmed reports said at least eight protesters died in Douma, 15 kilometres north of Damascus, and three others were killed in the southern village of Sanamen near the flashpoint city of Daraa. The number of dead could not be immediately verified by independent sources.


A massive security operation kept huge rival protests apart Friday in Yemen's capital of Sanaa. Security forces managed to prevent an outbreak of violence between anti-government protesters and supporters of the country's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Although no violence was reported in Sanaa, a soldier was killed in south Yemen in clashes with tribal and al-Qaeda forces. Tens of thousands of anti-regime demonstrators on Friday also took to the streets in southern Yemen. Witnesses said clashes broke out between rival sides in Hodeida on the Red Sea. The witnesses did not report casualties.


Thousands of people filled Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to call for Egypt's military rulers to harshly punish members of former president Hosni Mubarak's administration. The demonstration, called "Friday for the Rescue of the Revolution," was organized by the Youth Revolution Coalition, a group founded by the young activists who started Jan. 25 protests that led to Mr. Mubarak's ouster. The protesters called for trials of remaining members of Mr. Mubarak's regime, namely Fathi Serour, the former parliament speaker; Zakariya Azmi, head of the presidential palace; and Safwat al-Sherif, the former secretary general of the ruling party.


Police in Jordanmovedin Friday to separate hundreds of government supporters and pro-reform activists who were holding rival rallies outside the municipal offices in the capital of Amman. No injuries were immediately reported as the police intervened and separated the two groups. About 400 pro-reform Jordanians had turned out to demand more political say and that the prime minister to step down. A similar number of pro-government supporters held a rally on a grassy patch nearby. Protests in Jordan turned deadly when riot police broke up a gathering in Amman last Friday after pro-reform activists and government supporters clashed, throwing rocks at each other. One man died and 120 were injured. Jordan has seen three months of demonstrations inspired by unrests in Tunisia and Egypt .


US President Barack Obama will hold talks in Washington on Tuesday with Israel's president, Shimon Peres. US Officials said Friday the talks will focus on security co-operation between the two countries and recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Analysts say Israel has been watching warily as the Mideast becomes engulfed in popular uprisings. The end of President Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt prompted worries in Israel that the three-decade-old peace treaty between the two was in jeopardy. Lately, Israelis have been especially attentive to protests in neighbouring Syria.


Officials said a suicide bomber disguised as a street cleaner killed two Iraqi soldiers and a civilian in an attack near a mosque in the city of Fallujah on Friday. Meanwhile, statistics said a total of 247 Iraqis died in March as a result of attacks. The figure is 25 percent higher than the toll for February when 197 people were killed.


Eight foreigners and four Afghan protesters were killed Friday when a demonstration against the burning of a Koran turned violent. Afghan officials said about 2,000 people peacefully gathered outside the United Nations office in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, but then some protesters grabbed weapons from the UN guards, opened fire on the police and then stormed the building after reports that an American pastor burned a copy of the Muslim holy book. The officials said five Nepalese guards were among those killed.


Former president Fidel Castro has praised ex-US president Jimmy Carter for being brave in focusing on US-Cuban issues during Mr. Carter's visit to Havana this week. Mr. Castro made the comment in an opinion piece that ran in state-run media. Mr. Carter's three-day private visit was aimed at improving US-Cuban relations. He is the only sitting or former US president to meet with the communist leadership in its 52-year rule. Mr. Carter held a long meeting with Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro, on Wednesday. Mr. Carter also met US State Department contractor Alan Gross, held in Cuba since late 2009 and sentenced on state security charges this month to 15 years in prison. Mr. Carter called for Mr. Gross's release.


A court has sentenced a former army general to life in prison and three ex-state agents to 20 or 25 years for crimes against humanity. The crimes were committed in a torture centre during Argentina's military dictatorship. Former General Eduardo Cabanillas was convicted of illegal imprisonment, torture and homicide involving 65 people held at Automotores Orletti, an auto body shop that served as an operations centre for Operation Condor. It was a co-ordinated effort by South America's dictatorships to eliminate dissidents who sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The crimes took place in 1976. Prosecutors said about 300 people passed through Automotores Orletti, including Uruguayans, Chileans, Bolivians and Cubans, most of whom were killed or disappeared. The court also sentenced former army intelligence agent Raul Guglielminetti to 20 years in prison while former spies Honorio Martinez Ruiz and Eduardo Ruffo each received 25 years. A fifth suspect in the case, retired Colonel Ruben Visuara, died in February.



In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index gained 14.05 points to close at 14,130.15. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 56.99 points to 12,376.72. The Nasdaq composite index rose 8.53 points to 2,789.6. Oil ran up $1.22 to a fresh 30-month closing high of US$107.94 a barrel. The Canadian dollar settled at 103.69 cents US, up 0.55 of a cent. The US dollar stood at 96.44 cents Cdn, down 0.52 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5547, down 0.13 of a cent and US$1.6121, up 0.73 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3723, down 0.23 of a cent.


The Canadian government's plan for a national securities regulator has suffered another setback. The Court of Appeal in the province of Quebec says it would be unconstitutional because it exceeds the federal government's jurisdiction. Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal in the province of Alberta reached a similar conclusion. Canada's highest court, the Supreme Court, will hand down its ruling on the issue later this month. Currently, all 13 provinces and territories have their own regulators. Supporters of a single regulator say it would be a better protection against fraud.


The Government of Montana is being challenged in court over its decision to approve the shipment of enormous truckloads of oilsands equipment through the state to northern Alberta. Missoula County and three environmental groups say in a lawsuit that the state Transportation Department made the wrong decision in allowing the shipments and are demanding a full environmental impact assessment. Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) and its US parent ExxonMobil Corp. are seeking to bring modules manufactured in South Korea to the site of their Kearl oilsands mine in Alberta. The megaloads are so big that changes have to be made to some Montana highways in order to accommodate them. The Montana Transportation Department decided in February that there would not be any significant environmental or economic impacts from those modifications. However, the environmental groups say the assessment must take into account the fact that the shipments are bound for the oilsands -- a resource they consider to be a major contributor to global climate change.


A buyer has come forward to purchase a meat processing plant in northern Nova Scotia that was slated to shut down at the end of the month. Eden Valley Poultry said Fridayit plans to buy the Maple Leaf Foods Inc. plant in Berwick, known locally as the Larsen plant. Eden Valley says the plant will be transformed into a poultry processing facility in the summer of 2012, employing up to 200 people. The plant was the first casualty of a Canada-wide restructuring plan announced by Maple Leaf (TSX: MFI) in October to reduce costs and improve profit. The facility, which employed about 280 workers, began winding down operations earlier this year. Eden Valley says the sale is expected to close May 13. The poultry processing company includes poultry farmers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and Maple Lodge Holding Corp., based in Brampton, Ont.



Thursday's results: Ottawa defeated Florida 4-1, Toronto defeated Boston 4-3 in a shootout, Minnesota defeated Edmonton 4-2 and Vancouver defeated Los Angeles 3-1....In other NHL news, injured centre Sidney Crosby skated in practice with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday for the second time in as many days. Crosby, out since Jan. 5 with a concussion, took part in the morning skate on Thursday in Tampa, and was able to go again on Fridayin Sunrise, Fla.because it was a non-contact session. The Penguins play the Florida Panthers on Saturday. "The progression that he's at is still a long ways away," coach Dan Bylsma said. "The timetable hasn't been established at all and he still has several other aspects to go through in terms of what he needs to do." Crosby is still the team's scoring leader with 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games,despite missing 37 straight games.


The Toronto Blue Jays were due to open their 2011 season last night as they hosted the Minnesota Twins. Ricky Romero was scheduled to start for the Jays while Carl Pavano was slated to start for the Twins. British Columbia's Justin Morneau was expected to start at first base for the Twins after missing the last three months of the 2010 season because of a concussion. Meanwhile, another BC-born slugger, Jason Bay of the New York Mets, will start the year on the disabled list because of a rib injury. Like Morneau, Bay missed much of last season because of a concussion. And Russell Martin, who grew up in Montreal, made his debut with the New York Yankees on Thursday after being traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the off-season. Martin, went one-for-three with two runs scored and a stolen base in the Yankees 6-3 win over Detroit.


Receiver Andre Talbot is retiring after ten seasons. He played nine years with the Toronto Argonauts winning a Grey Cup in 2004. Talbot played 13 games last season with the Edmonton Eskimos.


Canadian Daniel Nestor and his partner, Max Mirnyi of Belarus, the second seeds, advanced to the men's doubles final Thursday at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla. with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over the fourth seeds, Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Philipp Petzchner of Germany. Nestor and Mirnyi will face the Indian team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, the third seeds, the in the final.

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