Tuesday, April 5, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 4 April 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Push for GMO wheat

According to a leaked document published Monday in several newspapers, Canada's National Research Council - a government-funded scientific research organization - has embarked on a program to develop genetically modified wheat. The document says Canada's global share of the wheat market is shrinking, productivity is in decline, and that the development of new genetically engineered hybrids could lead Canada to being a "game changer". The Canadian Wheat Board, which represents growers, has opposed GM wheat for years, only because it is difficult to sell in Asia and Europe. But it does welcome the offer to decode the DNA of wheat. Decoding the full genome of wheat - its entire set of DNA - is the subject of a massive international effort. According to the published report, the NRC's long-term plan is to become a "market-driven organization whose primary goal is to develop and deploy technology." And it says building better wheat is one of the top goals.

Trade tied to oil?

Canada is tying a free trade agreement with the European Union to an easing of restrictions on Canadian oil exports. The oil in question is from the Alberta tar sands, where the extraction process produces high levels of pollution. In a document leaked to the Reuters news agency, Canadian trade official Mark Richardson is quoted as saying "it is important that our individual efforts to address climate change do not lead to the creation of unnecessary barriers. The Government of Canada", he went on, "believes this approach raises the prospect of unjustified discrimination and is not supported by the science." The dispute centres around EU plans to make fuel suppliers reduce the carbon footprint of fuels by 6 percent over the next decade. The EU is now fine-tuning a ranking of fuels to help suppliers identify the most carbon-intensive imports. Canada could challenge that ranking by launching a lawsuit at the World Trade Organization. Canada says the standards would instantly constrict a possible future market for its oil sands - oil that forms the world's second-largest proven crude reserves after those of Saudi Arabia. nvironmentalists oppose the tar sands industry, saying the extra energy needed to extract the oil intensifies the impact on climate by about a quarter, while polluted waste water harms wildlife and pollutes rivers.

Government seeks to limit Afghan torture evidence

The Canadian government want to impose limits on what a military watchdog can say in its final report into Afghan prisoner torture allegations. It's been revealed the Conservative Party government sought the limits last week at the Federal Court of Canada. The government also want to stipulate what evidence the commission can consider. The government wants to exclude the testimony of diplomats and civilians who did not work for the Defence Department. It also wants to exclude any documents belonging to those officials, including reports warning of torture. Canadian troops have been in Afghanistan since 2002 and they will be leaving this summer.

Tories hold lead

As the Canadian election campaign enters its second week, new polls reveal significant gains for the ruling Conservative Party. One, done by Nanos for the Globe and Mail newspaper, places them ahead with 42.3 per cent, technically enough to form a majority government. The other survey, by Leger Marketing for the Journal de Montreal, has the Conservatives at 37 percent. Both pollsters have the Liberals in second place with support in the high twenties. Support for the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois remains in the teens. In Monday's campaigning, Conservative leader Stephen Harper spent the day promoting a plan to abolish a firearms registry, which has long been the target of fierce criticism by farmers and hunters who view it as an attack on their way of life. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, touted free tuition for anyone who has served in the military as part of his election plank, hoping to pick up votes from the pro-military Tories.

Coke to Canada in kid's case

Twelve soldiers in the Dominican Republic have been arrested in an alleged plot to ship cocaine to Canada. They had hidden the cache in a child's suitcase. Eight of the soliders work with the national anti-drug agency at the airport in Puerto Plata and four with the airport security agency. Two civilians have also been arrested. The arrests stem from the discovery last month of 33 kilograms of cocaine in the suitcase of a Canadian child at the airport. The girl was travelling with her parents to Toronto. The parents were not detained. But investigators believe they may have been working with the smugglers.



The United States said Monday it would try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators in Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama had promised to prosecute them in a criminal court. US Attorney General Eric Holder blamed lawmakers for the policy reversal, saying their decision in January to block funding for prosecuting the 9/11 suspects in acriminal court "tied our hands" and forced the administration to resume military trials. His announcement was an embarrassing reversal of the administration's decision in November 2009 to try Mohammed in a court near the site of the World Trade Center attack that killed nearly 3,000 people. The decision was an admission that President Obama has not been able to overcome political opposition to his effort to close the prison for terrorism suspects and enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, a key 2008 campaign promise.


Barack Obama will be a presidential candidate in 2012. His announcement Monday was made through an email and video. Early polls show Mr. Obama leading potential Republican rivals. Republicans acknowledge it will be a difficult task to defeat an incumbent Democratic president. Only two incumbents have been defeated in the last 30 years - Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.


Troops fighting for Alassane Ouattara have reportedly launched a final push in Abidjan in an all-out bid to unseat his rival, Laurent Gbagbo. Helicopters from the UN and French forces fired on his military barracks, Gbagbo's home and the presidential palace in the main city Abidjan. The French government confirmed French and UN soldiers were engaged in operations to "neutralise" weapons used against civilians by Gbagbo fighters. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday that helicopter raids by UN and French forces in Ivory Coast were to protect civilians and did not mean the global body had taken up arms against strongman Laurent Gbagbo. He said in a statement that he had ordered the UN mission in Ivory Coast, UNOCI, to start "a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons which threaten the civilian population of Abidjan." Mr. Gbagbo refuses to leave the presidency to make way for Ouattara, the internationally-recognized winner of the country's November's elections.


The presidential election in Nigeria has been postponed until April 16th in order to resolve a series of logistical problems. Africa's most populous nation had to abandon parliamentary polls on Saturday after voting materials failed to arrive in many parts of the country. That sparked fury among voters who were promised a break with a history of flawed and violent polls. The uncertainty risks leaving the country's 73 million voters disillusioned, and heaps additional pressure on the embattled electoral commission. The new election timetable sets parliamentary polls for April 9th, presidential elections a week later and governorship elections in the 36 states on April 26th.


A United Nations plane has crashed while attempting to land in Kinshasha, capital of Congo, killing 26 people on board. U.N. staff members were on the plane, including peacekeepers. One report says the small passenger plane was carrying a total of 32 people. The cause of the crash is not known. The plane was flying from Kinsangani to Kinshasa at the time of the crash.


According to unofficial preliminary results, musician Michel Martelly is the winner of Haiti's presidential election. Martelly ran against former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the March 20th runoff election. Presidential and legislative elections, originally scheduled for February 2010, were postponed after last year's devastating January earthquake.


A well known Venezuelan drug lord claims that he has videos proving Venezuela's ruling elite is deeply involved in cocaine trafficking. Walid Makled, in custody in Colombia, says that he would disclose only to US prosecutors the videos and other conclusive evidence of drug corruption in the inner circle of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, seeking to improve what had been tense relations with Mr. Chavez, announced in November that he would extradite Makled to Venezuela. Colombia's Supreme Court approved the extradition March 25th. Several important U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that Makled will be silenced once back in Venezuela and the opportunity lost to expose monumental corruption in that country's ruling circles. International law enforcement officials say that under Mr. Chavez, Venezuela has become a major transshipment country for Colombian cocaine.


Undersea robots have located a large part of an Air France passenger airlplane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. But the robots have not yet found the aircraft's flight recorders. Victims' families welcomed the surprise announcement that search teams have located pieces of the plane after nearly two years of efforts to determine what caused it to crash. Investigators have said thatwithout the recorders, however, the cause may never be determined. All 228 people aboard the plane were killed when the flight, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, plunged into the ocean June 1, 2009, after running into an intense high-altitude thunderstorm.


The United States has added its voice to those calling for the release of artist and activist Ai Weiwei, saying his detention was inconsistent with the fundamental rights of all Chinese citizens. France too has called for his release, as did Germany. Mr. Ai's disappearance also drew concern from human rights groups. Police in Beijing have refused to explain why they detained the outspoken Chinese artist and social critic. His whereabouts are unknown. The artist helped design Beijing's famed "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium but, according to his wife, has since irritated the Communist Party government with his activism. She said her husband was taken into custody on Sunday at Beijing's international airport as he prepared to board a flight abroad. Members of his staff had said he was headed to Hong Kong.


At least seven people were killed in Pakistan Monday after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the town of Jandol in the district of Lower Dir, 200 kilometres from the capital, Islamabad. The attack occurred at a bus terminal. The target of the suicide attack was Malik Mohammad Akbar, head of a lashkar or tribal militia set up by the government to fight Taliban militants. Police said he died in the blast. Akbar had survived two previousattempts on his life. Pakistani troops fought a major offensive to expunge the Taliban from the area nearly two years ago.


Yemen's security forces shot dead at least 12 anti-regime protesters and wounded many more on Monday in the city of Taez. The shootings came as demonstrators staged a march on the governorate headquarters to demand the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Weeks of protests across Yemen have brought Mr. Saleh's 32-year rule to the verge of collapse. Some 94 people have been killed so far in the protests. Mr. Saleh wants to stay on as president while new parliamentary and presidential elections are organised by the end of the year. The United States and neighbouring Saudi Arabia are worried about who might succeed him in a country where al Qaeda militants are gaining strength.


Libyan rebels are insisting that all of Moammar Gadhafi's family must leave the country before there can be any truce. The rebel statement comes amid reports by The New York Times newspaper that two of Mr. Gadhafi's sons are offering to oversee a transition to a constitutional democracy that would include their father's removal from power. Also, Greece's foreign minister said after a meeting in Athens between the prime minister and a Libyan envoy that Kadhafi's regime is looking for a solution. Meanwhile, rebel troops made a new attempt to recapture the oil town of Brega, advancing under artillery fire, as hundreds wounded in besieged third city Misrata were evacuated by ship. Brega, located 800 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, has been the scene of intense exchanges for several days, with both sides advancing only to withdraw again later under fire.


Three weeks after a 9-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami hit northeast Japan, engineers are no closer to regaining control of the Daiichi nuclear power plant or stopping radioactive leaks. They have now been forced to release radioactive waste water into the sea after it ran out of storage capacity for more highly contaminated water. In an unusual stepy they are using bath salts to try to locate the source of leaks. Japan has also asked nuclear superpower Russia to send a special radiation treatment ship used to decommission nuclear submarines to help in its fight. The quake and tsunami left nearly 28-thousand people dead or missing and Japan's northeast coast a wreck. Japan, the world's third largest economy but also one of its most indebted nations, has estimated the damages bill may top $300 billion.


Business outlook

Concerns over rising oil and food prices and persistent strength in the Canadian dollar are taking away some of the swagger in Canada's business community. The Bank of Canada says its new spring business outlook survey shows firms remain bullish about the future, but less so than three months ago. Firms have lowered their sights across a range of indicators including more moderate expectations for the pace of sales growth, hiring and investment over the next 12 months.


The internet giant, Google, has bid 900-million dollars to buy the Nortel Networks patent portfolio. Nortel was Canada's biggest technology company and one of the world's leading developers of telecom technology until it collapsed. The company filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. The patent portfolio is practically the last of Nortel's assets to be sold.


TORONTO: The S&P/TSX composite index gained 88.2 points to 14,218.35

NEW YORK: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.24 points (0.19 percent) to 12,399.96 in closing trade, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.41 point (0.01 percent) to 2,789.19. The S&P 500-stock index, a broader measure of the markets, advanced a scant 0.43 point (0.03 percent) to 1,332.84

CURRENCY: The Canadian dollar settled at 103.36 cents US on Monday, down 0.33 of a cent. The U.S. dollar stood at 96.75 cents Cdn, up 0.31 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5606, up 0.59 of a cent and US$1.6130, up 0.09 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3757, up 0.34 of a cent.

OIL: Oil prices surged to new heights Monday, with Brent crude topping $120 a barrel for the first time since August 22, 2008, as traders eyed a raging rebellion in oil-exporter Libya. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, closed at $108.47 a barrel, a gain of 53 cents from Friday. In London, Brent North Sea crude for May delivery leaped $2.36 to settle at $121.06, after topping at $121.29 just before the session close.



In the National Hockey League yesterday, one of six Canadian teams saw action Sunday with Calgary defeating Colorado 2-0.


The Toronto Blue Jays lost to Minnesota Sunday 4-3. An off day Monday for the Jays after taking two of three from the Minnesota Twins to open their 2011 season. The Jays will host Oakland Tuesday to open a three-game series.


The Toronto Raptors defeated Orlando Sunday 102-98.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rain and 9 in Vancouver. Mostly sunny across the Prairies, with highs of 8 in Edmonton, 6 in Calgary, 4 in Saskatoon, 1 in Regina and 5 in Winnipeg. Mainly sunny in Toronto with a high of 7. Rain for the rest of eastern Canada Tuesday, with highs of 5 in Ottawa, 8 in Montreal, 12 in Fredericton, 11 in Halifax and Charlottetown, and 3 in St. John's, where the sun will make an appearance. Cloudy and 4 in Whitehorse. One with a few flurries in Yellowknife. A few flurries, sunny breaks and a high of minus 15 in Iqaluit.

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