Friday, April 8, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 7 April 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Conservative party leader Stephen Harper has apologized for people being booted from campaign events on suspicion they supported rival parties or groups. The three-day-old controversy was stoked Wednesday after the RCMP admitted some Mounties helped the Tories eject people. The force reminded its officers that their job is to guard leaders, not serve political parties.

In Thursday's campaigning, in Ontario, Mr. Harper promised to double the amount Canadians can deposit in a Tax Free Savings Account. But just like several other promises, it won't take effect until the federal budget is balanced, and that's at least four years away. The accounts enable individuals to contribute up to $5,000 a year and grow their savings without having to pay taxes, even when the funds are withdrawn. The accounts have proven to be a popular savings vehicle for Canadians, with over 4.7 million Canadians having built up about $18 billion in savings since 2008, when they were first introduced.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff campaigned in suburban Montreal, where he said if he's elected as prime minister, he would substantially increase benefits seniors receive under the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The measure would cost 700million dollars annually, but put an extra 650 dollars a year in the pockets of low-income seniors.

N-D-P Leader Jack Layton was in BC. The New Democrats are promising to get tough on crime, particularly gang violence.It would invest 100 million dollars a year in a suite of crime-prevention programs. Party leader Jack Layton says he also wants to put an additional 25-hundred police officers on streets across the country. On the legislation side, Layton says the New Democrats would make gang recruitment illegal.

Elizabeth May released her party's "Vision Green" election campaign platform. She says the Green Party will create thousands of jobs through investments in renewable energy and retrofitting buildings. Like the Liberals and N-D-P, May says the Greens will pay for the promises by increasing corporate taxes. But they would also cut defence spending.


A retired Canadian Colonel, Pat Stogran, is urging young people to get involved in the political process and use Twitter and Facebook to overcome the status quo. The first commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan in 2002 says Canada needs parties with long-term vision, and grassroots movements like ones in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Meanwhile, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado has launched a Twitter campaign aimed at getting young people to vote, reminding her nearly two million followers about countries where citizens cannot vote.


Canada's challenge to eliminate polio from Afghanistan seemed within reach when it was announced three years ago. But since then, hopes of having the debilitating disease wiped out have diminished.An increase in violence has made it more difficult to defeat polio. There are 13 districts where polio still circulates, all of which are in the volatile southern region. Peter McKernan of the Canadian International Development Agency says the lack of security in those areas is the main reason why polio has not been eradicated. He says that has prevented teams from vaccinating children and discouraged families from having their kids immunized. Polio has been wiped out in most countries but it remains endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.


A study done by the Conference Board of Canada finds that the country's ageing electrical grid is in need of a major upgrade, if it's to meet future demand. Funded by the Canadian Electrical Association, the study suggests that a total investment of $294 billion is necessary between now and 2030 to service old infrastructure and boost power generation from renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass energy. According to the report, the largest chunk of the recommended investment is required for power generation, with the rest to improve the distribution system and transmission. Canada currently is a net exporter of electricity and diverts seven to nine percent of its capacity to the American market.


There has been a marked rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals in the province of Quebec. Of particular concern is the steep rise in the incidence of VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, a bug that thrives in the gut and that can cause meningitis and pneumonia. The number of confirmed cases of VRE jumped from 834 in 2006 to 1,154 in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. All of these infections were contracted by patients while they were in hospital - whether for dialysis, surgery or other procedures. One infectious disease specialist says the figures illustrate that that the health care system is probably stretched to its limit right now. There is some positive news in the report: Quebec appears to be winning the battle against one particular bacteria-resistant ailment, C. difficile, with the number of those infections dropping from 4,536 in 2005 to 3,266 in 20


Much like the population in general, Canada's doctors are ageing. A report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information says one in ten Canadian doctors is 65 or older, and of those, one third continue to practice full time. Senior analyst Walter Feeney says doctors who continue working into their senior years will often change their scope of practice. For instance, they may no longer perform complex or delicate procedures or be on call to deliver babies. Feeney says many doctors may work later in life because they had a later-than-average start following medical training, and as self-employed workers they can decide how much or little they want to work.


The casting of a French actor in a play in Montreal has become fodder in the federal election campaign. Montreal's largest theatre company, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, announced this week that Bertrand Cantat, the former lead singer of the rock band Noir Disir, had been invited to appear in a cycle of three plays by Sophocles. But Cantat was sentenced to eight years in prison after he beat his girlfriend, Marie Trintignant, to death in a Lithuanian hotel room in 2003. Cantat was paroled in 2007. Speaking in Montreal Thursday, Josée Verner, a former minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government, declared that if her party is returned to power it would not allow Cantat entry into the country. Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe and several Quebec provincial politicians also decried Cantat's coming to Canada. The Canada immigration act bans anyone convicted abroad of a crime that is punishable in Canada by at least 10 years in prison from entry. Cantat would have faced life in prison for the crime of manslaughter in Canada. Théâtre du Nouveau Monde defended its choice, saying Cantat paid for his crime.



Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday night. The warning, which was lifted after 90-minutes, was issued for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami. Thursday's quake was a 7.4-magnitude and was centred 100 kilometres off the coast of Sendai. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude. Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute during Thursday night's aftershock. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage, and the operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said there was no sign the aftershock had caused new problems there. Workers retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex, with no injuries. The aftershock, around 11:30 p.m. local time, was strong enough to knock items off store shelves.

Elsewhere, a strong earthquake measuring 6.5 struck southern and central Mexico on Thursday. There were no initial reports of damage or casualties. The tremor was strong enough to shake buildings and restaurants hundreds of kilometres away in the capital, Mexico City.


The American general who led the initial phases of the Libyan mission says the operation is largely a stalemate, and is more likely to remain that way now that Washington has transferred control to NATO. Carter Ham says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces are making airstrikes more difficult by placing military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

Meanwhile, NATO said Thursday it was trying to confirm reports that alliance warplanes hit rebel tanks in Libya. But it warned that it would strike any forces threatening civilians. The rebels said two of their fighters and a paramedic were killed when NATO jets pounded them near the eastern oil town of Brega, less than a week after 13 people died in an alliance bombing in the same area.


Libya's former minister of energy says Russia and China have lost the race for Libyan oil. Fathi Ben Shatwan, a former Kadhafi ally turned rebel supporter, says the new democracy will deal very well with the people who helped them, including Italy and France - countries that officially recognised the opposition interim national council in Benghazi. But, he says, countries like Russia and China who abstained during the UN Security Council vote authotrizing the military action against Gadhai, have lost. Mr. Ben Shatwan, who dismissed Gadhafi's threats to grant oil contracts to Russia and China as "a sort of game" by a desperate man, arrived in Malta by boat on Friday after a 20-hour journey from Misrata.


The relative calm along the Israel-Gaza border was shattered Thursday when Israel retaliated for an attack on an Israeli bus by Hamas militants. Israel says that for the first time an antitank missile was fired from the Gaza Strip, striking the bus. Several of the passengers were injured, one seriously. In response, Israeli artillery and attack helicopters shelled various locations across the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medics report that a 50-year-old man was killed and at least eight people injured. The missile attack followed a relative lull in cross-border attacks between Gaza and Israel after a sudden rise in violence last month.


Portugal's caretaker government has decided to seek foreign aid, making Portugal the third euro zone country to do so after Greece and Ireland. The Socialist government resigned on March 23rd after parliament rejected its austerity plan, sparking a crisis that pushed Portuguese borrowing rates sharply higher and led to multiple downgrades of the country's creditworthiness. Portuguese banks took the unprecedented step on Monday of warning the government that they might stop buying its debt - a move which likely pushed Prime Minister Jose Socrates into seeking help.


Six members of Afghanistan's security services were killed today during a Taliban attack on a police centre near the city of Kandahar. Fighting in Afghanistan has intensified recently as as result of warm Spring weather following a winter lull. Canadian troops are also part of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.


A gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Rio de Janeiro. At least 11 people are dead, including the 24-year-old gunman, believed to be a former student. The victims included students and staff at the public school. Witnesses said police responded quickly and traded fire with the gunman. It's not clear if he was shot or whether he took his own life. The attack is Brazil's first serial shooting at a school.


China has confirmed that it had arrested well known artist and social critic Ai Weiwei. He had been missing for four days after he was arrested at Beijing airport by security forces just before his flight to Hong Kong. Chinese officials insist his case involves suspected economic crimes and not human rights. Mr. Ai is the most prominent target so far in China's massive crackdown on dozens of lawyers, writers and activists following online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa. U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman mentioned the artist among other activists who challenge the Chinese government to serve the public in all cases and at all times. His arrest has also drawn international condemnation. Mr. Ai is among China's best-known artists internationally.


Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou inaugurated ten missile boats today(thursday) as he promised to continue the island's military buildup to against any possible military threat from China. Mr. Ma says tensions with the mainland have eased significantly since he came to power in 2008 but insisted Taiwan needed a deterrent against Beijing which claims the island as part of its territory.Despite Sino-Taiwanwarming ties, Beijing refuses to renounce the use of force if the island declares independence. Mr. Ma says Taiwan is unlikely to engage in an arms race with China, considering the vast difference in the size of the two economies.


The US broadcasting agency Voice of America says the Internet is the future for reaching China, despite its firewall. The statement was issued after the agency was criticized by lawmakers for reducing short-wave radio service. Under a budget proposal for next year, Voice of America will close its longtime radio and television broadcasts in Mandarin and eliminate its Cantonese service entirely. The move will result in the loss of 45 jobs and save 8 million dollars. The cuts come as China increases its global distribution of its own state-run radio and television. The Voice of America was launched in 1942 and was active during the Cold War as the US government's international broadcaster. It stopped live broadcasts in Russian in 2008. However, the 2012 budget still funds radio and Internet broadcasts in Mandarin and Cantonese by Radio Free Asia, a separate service, founded after China's Tiananmen Square crackdown, that focuses on providing news within closed Asian societies.


An independent Truth Commission, investigating the 2009 coup in Honduras, has asked the Supreme Court to guarantee the return from exile of ousted president Manuel Zelaya. Last week, thousands of Mr. Zelaya's supporters blocked highways across the country in protests demanding he be allowed to return from exile in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Zelaya, who was overthrown in a June 28, 2009 coup, still faces corruption charges although a judge has cancelled arrest warrants against him. Mr. Zelaya was ousted from power after he tried to extend his term by seekign to amend the constitution which limist terms on the presidency. The military, alongwith congressional leaders, put Mr. Zelaya on a plane out of the country on June 28, 2009.


The "Yuri Gagarin" space capsule has docked with the International Space Station (ISS). Named after the first man in space, the Soyuz craft with two Russians and one American onboard is part of a mission marking the half century of manned spaceflight. Cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrei Borisenko and US astronaut Ronald Garan blasted off Tuesday from the main launchpad at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the same location where Gagarin went on his historic space mission on April 12, 1961. Russia's Soyuz craft will later this year become the sole means for taking humans to the ISS when NASA takes its shuttles out of service, leaving the United States reliant on the more rudimentary Russian technology.



It's the end of an era. The "Made in Canada" hockey stick will soon be a collector's item. Sher-Wood Hockey, who supplied sticks to kids playing street hockey as well as to NHL superstars, is moving the last 15 percent of its stick production to China, putting 40-workers at its plant in Sherbrooke, Quebec, out of a job. Eric Rodrigue, the company's vice-president of marketing and product development, says 110 employees will remain at Sher-Wood Hockey's headquarters. The company is also keeping its research and development, distribution and novelty production facilities there. Rodrigue says more than 85 per cent of the company's hockey stick production is already in China, and competitors like Bauer and Reebok have been there for years.



The S&P/TSX composite index lost 94.88 points to 14,107.77.

The Canadian dollar moved up 0.21 of a US cent to 104.33 cents US. The U.S. dollar stood at 95.85 cents Cdn, down 0.19 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5642, down 0.46 of a cent and US$1.6319, up 0.16 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3712, down 0.54 of a cent.

Oil ran up $1.47 to US$110.30 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 17.26 points to 12,409.49.

The Nasdaq composite index was down 3.68 points at 2,796.14.

The S&P 500 index lost 2.03 points to 1,333.51.



Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was diagnosed with a mild concussion Thursday after taking a knee to the head while sliding into third base a night earlier. Escobar hit his head on Oakland's Andy LaRoche's leg when he slid head-first into the bag after a triple in the fifth inning. Escobar lay on the ground for a moment after the collision and remained in the game after being examined by a team trainer. He was then taken out as a precaution after the sixth inning due to dizziness. Escobar had tests done after the game and was examined by a neurologist Thursday morning. Major League Baseball is using a new set of protocols this season to deal with concussions, including the creation of the new seven-day disabled list that should give team doctors and the injured players more flexibility to address head injuries. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that under the new policy, MLB also has to clear the player to return.


Canada's Jeff Stoughton extended his unbeaten streak at the Ford World Curling Championship with a 5-4 win over China's Yansong Ji on Thursday. Stoughton (10-0) had already secured first place in the round-robin standings the previous day. His Winnipeg team will meet Scotland's Tom Brewster (8-2) in Friday's Page playoff between the top two seeds. The winner's reward is a berth in Sunday's final, while the loser can still get to the final via a semifinal win Saturday. The top four teams advance to the Page playoffs. The winner of the game between the third and fourth seeds gets into the semifinal.


Shawinigan, Quebec has won the bid to play host to the 2012 Memorial Cup junior hockey championship. Shawinigan beat out Nova Scotia bids from Cape Breton and Halifax, as well as Saint John, N.B.


Former Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings vice-president Kevin Gilmour has been named chief operating officer of the Montreal Canadiens. The bi-lingual native of Arvida, Quebec, will work in corporate sales, marketing and communications for the NHL club. He replaces Ray Lalonde, who has become president of the Montreal Alouettes. Gilmour helped land an NHL franchise for Anaheim when he worked for the Walt Disney Company in the 1990s. He later moved to the Kings and then worked for the Anschultz Entertainment Group. Team owner Geoff Molson said the move was part of a restructuring of management.


Justin Bieber showed he is more than just slick dance moves when the international singing sensation joined a training session with Spanish football club Barcelona on Thursday. A night after playing a sold-out show in the Catalan capital, the 17-year-old pop phenomenon from Stratford, Ontario, suited up to train with the Spanish champions at their training ground. Barcelona says on its website that Bieber - clad head-to-toe in the club's green training kit - displayed good technique and a deft left foot as he practised with Bojan Krkic, Thiago, Benja and B-team goalkeeper Ruben Mino. Bieber missed Barcelona's 5-1 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Camp Nou stadium on Wednesday.



Sunny and 11 in Vancouver. Sunny across the Prairies, with highs of 5 in Edmonton, 6 in Calgary, 7 in Saskatoon and 4 in Regina. Rain and 12 for Winnipeg. It'll be a sunny day through central Canada and parts of the Maritimes, with highs of 12 in Toronto, 13 in Ottawa, 11 in Montreal, 6 in Fredericton and 7 in Halifax. Some snowflurries for Charlottetown and St. John's, with highs of 1 and minus 1. A few flurries and 4 for Whitehorse. Sunny and 5 at Yellowknife. And for Iqaluit, a variable days with a few flurries and a high of minus 13.

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