Monday, April 11, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


As the third week of campaigning began on Sunday for Canada's federal election on May 2, the New Democratic Party unveiled its election platform, the last of the parties to do so. NDP leader Jack Layton promised that if elected, his party would accomplish five priorities within the first 100 days of taking office. He pledges to balance the federal budget by 2014-15, to restore the corporate tax rate to 19 per cent and to eliminate foreign tax havens. He's also pledging to reduce taxes on small business taxes by $1 billion. In a move distinct from the other parties, Mr. Layton promises to cancel the Conservative Party government's plan to keep some Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan to train local forces. Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan ends this summer. On the same day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper returned to the election campaign after taking the previous day off. Speaking to farmers in Acton Vale, Quebec, Mr. Harper pledged greater access to export markets. The Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, chose not to campaign on Sunday.


MONTREAL: The leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe, is worried that people will prefer watching hockey rather than the federal election leaders' French-language debate on Thursday. Both events are scheduled to air on television at the same time. There will be intense public interest in the hockey game among French-speaking Quebecers because it involves the Montreal Canadiens in a Stanley Cup playoff game. Mr. Duceppe hopes that the other party leaders will unite to convince broadcasters to hold the debate one day earlier. The leaders' English-language debate will be held on Tuesday, before the hockey playoffs begin.


Officials in the western Canadian province of Manitoba are keeping a watchful eye on the Red River, where a shifting ice jam has prompted the evacuation of about 50 homes north of the city of Winnipeg. So far, the evacuation is voluntary. But forecasters say that with mild temperatures and rain this weekend in Manitoba and the U.S. state of North Dakota, there's a potential for flooding of the Red and Souris rivers. In Saskatchewan, residents of two districts in Mosse Jaw were allowed to return to their homes yesterday after flooding caused by the Moose Jaw River forced them out Friday. Officials have reported one death as a result of the floods.


VANCOUVER: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have asked West Vancouver police to conduct an inquiry into the controversial case involving an 11-year-old boy. On Thursday, RCMP officers in Prince George fired a Taser stun gun at the boy after the boy allegedly stabbed a man. Questions have been raised about the motive behind the shooting. A former appeal court justice, Thomas Braidwood, says that police should not investigate themselves. Mr. Braidwood headed a public inquiry into the use of a Taser in the case of a Polish man, Robert Dziekanski, who died in 2007 after being stunned several times. In his report into Mr. Dziekanski's death, he called on the British Columbia government to create an independent body to investigate cases involving police conduct. Similar agencies are active in Ontario and Alberta.



The Canadian militaryhas concludedone of its last missions before its combat operations in Afghanistan end in July. Last week, 3,500 Canadian, Afghan and American soldiers carried out patrols in the Nakhonay, Zangabad and Horn of Panjwaii areas, all Taliban enclaves. They found caches of both weapons and drugs. Canada's 2,800 troops in Afghanistan are deployed in the southern region of Kandahar.


TORONTO: The province of Ontario has announced a fund to help crime victims and their families. The fund will provide CDN$900,000 over the next three years to help cover travel costs to attend court appearances, to arrange language interpretation during trial and to assist victims with disabilities. The province's Victims' Justice Fund will finance the fund. The announcement comes at the start of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.


YARMOUTH: More than 300 people staged a march in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on Sunday to demand restoration of ferry service to New England. The ferry service was shut down last year after the provincial government stopped annual payments of $6 million to Bay Ferries, the service that operated the ferries. Business owners, politicians and citizens marched to the ferry terminal to draw the attention of the federal and provincial governments to what demonstrators say is the economic losses suffered as a result of the loss of ferry services. Many businesses struggled last year because of a drop in the number of tourists. One local hotel shut its doors in February.


Delegates of the African Union said on Sunday that Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi had accepted their roadmap for ending the conflict with Libyan rebels. But the delegation's head, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, declined to give any details of the roadmap. The two sides met for several hours at Colonel Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli. Rebel leaders are demanding that Colonel Gaddafi step down after some four decades in power. The African Union delegates will meet with the rebels on Monday.


A missile attack has partially destroyed the residence of Laurent Gbagbo inAbidjan. A spokesman for Mr. Gbagbo says that United Nations and French helicopters fired at the residence on Sunday. Smoke rose from the building. It's not known whether Mr. Gbagbo was at home. Mr. Gbagbo insists that he was re-elected president last year. He is fighting forces loyal to Alasssane Ouattara, who is generally recognized by the international community as the elected president. On the same day, Gbagbo forces attacked Mr. Outtara's hotel in Abidjan with mortar and small-arms fire. The British embassy nearby was evacuated as a precaution.


Political unrest continues in Yemen where dozens of demonstrators were shot and wounded by security forces in overnight clashes in the cities of Taez and Sanaa. At least one protestor was reported to have died of his injuries. The latest protests were fueled by anger after security forces shot dead four demonstrators in Taez on Friday. The country has seen weeks of protests against the 32 year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. More than 120 people have been killed since the protests began, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt this winter. In other developments, President Saleh has recalled his ambassador to Qatar after dismissing a proposal by the Gulf states for him to step down.


The Canadian commander of NATO's military operation in Libya says alliance airstrikes have destroyed 25 of the Libyan regime's tanks near the cities of Misrata and Ajdabiya. Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard says the strikes were necessary because civilians were being shelled by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi's regime. The NATO strikes helped stop a major assault on Addabiya, which is now back under rebel control. NATO took over command of the multi-national operation from the United States on March 31st. The military alliance has recently been criticized by Libyan rebels for ineffectiveness and for airstrikes that mistakenly killed rebel fighters. In other developments, a delegation of African Union leaders is in Libya for talks with both sides in the conflict with the aim of getting them to agree to a truce.


Syria's army closed the port city of Banias on Sunday in an effort to stop three weeks of anti-government protests. Tanks and soldiers encircled the city, preventing entry. Unconfirmed reports by human rights groups say that there were some casualties. But communications with the city were largely cut. More than 170 people have been killed since public protests began to call on President Bashar al-Assad to make sweeping reforms. Mr. al-Assad has used both force and limited concessions in an effort to appease protesters.


Egypt's interim military government has said it will remove some provincial governors appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak. The move is an apparent concession to protesters who want Mr Mubarak put on trial for corruption. On Saturday, at least one person was killed during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Demonstrators also want an end to military rule. Tension have been growing betwen the mility, which took control after Mr. Mubarak was forced from office in February.


Israel says it is willing to observe a ceasefire after days of military exchanges in Gaza, if Palestinian militants there end rocket attacks. The militant Hamas movement, which runs Gaza, says it is not interested in an escalation of tension and calm should be restored. At least 18 people have died in Gaza in Israeli air strikes and two Israelis have died from militant rocket fire. It's the worst violence in Gaza in over two-years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that if the militant attacks do not cease, the Israeli military a will respond with even more force


The American movie director Sidney Lumet died Saturday at the age of 86. A prolific filmmaker, Lumet directed over 50 movies, including the well-known titles "Dog Day Afternoon," "Serpico," and "Network." Lumet , a native New Yorker, often shot his films there, and they often explored the gritty reality of street life in the city. He was nominated for five Oscars, but never won. In 2005, Lumet received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement.


Poland has marked the first year anniversary of a plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski his wife Maria, and dozens of the country's military and political elite. The plane went down in thick fog while trying to land at Smolensk in western Russia. Many Poles are angry that Russia's official report into the causes of the crash pins all the blame on the Polish pilots and absolves the Russian ground staff of any responsibility. A recent poll shows a majority of Poles feel there has still not been an adequate explanation of what happened. The late president's twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski shunned Sunday's official commemorative ceremonies attended by Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski. He and his family instead went to a separate church service and performed their own wreath-laying ritual in front of the presidential palace. Hundreds of supporters cheered Mr. Kaczynski, waved white and red Polish flags and shouted anti-government and anti-Russian slogans, branding Mr.Tusk a "traitor" for seeking better ties with Moscow. Mr.Komorowski, who defeated Mr.Kaczynski in last summer's presidential election, has urged reconciliation among Poles.



Police in Northern Ireland defused a 225 kilogram bomb yesterday. It was found in a van, parked under a highway bridge. Dissident members of the Irish Republican Army are suspected of planting the bomb, a bid to disrupt an election in Northern Ireland, set for early May. Police believe the bomb would most likely have been planted in a town centre or by a landmark building.


Another intensive search is on in Japan for the bodies of vicitms from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. About 22-thousand Japanese troops, and 110 from the U-S, are searching by land, air and sea along Japan's ravaged coast. Many bodies have been washed out to sea and will never be found. As many as 25-thousand people are feared dead, but only 13-thousand deaths have been confirmed. Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised Sunday he would "never abandon" survivors of the twin disasters. He made the comment on his second trip to the northeast, pledging that the government would work as fast as possible to house 150,000 people living in emergency shelters since the disaster struck.


Church services are being held in a Dutch suburb today to mourn six people killed by a gunman at a crowded mall. The 24-year-old opened fire in a mall southwest of Amsterdam yesterday, killing six people and wounding 15 before shooting himself in the head. He left one suicide note and one threatening note, but neither gave a motive Investigators are looking into how he was able to obtain and own automatic firearms legally in the Netherlands when he had already been investigated for illegal weapons possesion.


Peruvians go to the polls to elect a new president today. The front-runner is a left-wing former army officer, Ollanta Humala, whose critics compare hom to Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez. He's campaigned on pledges to redistribute wealth to the poor majority. However, he's not expected to win the fifty percent required for outright victory. Four other candidates are said to have a realistic chance of getting through to a run-off. They are Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the disgraced fomer President Albert Fujimori,former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, as well as Luis Castaneda, a former mayor of the capital, Lima. The outgoing President, Alan Garcia, cannot run for a second term and his Apra party is not running a candidate. The campaign has focused on how to maintain growth while tackling widespread poverty in the south American nation. Mr. Kuczynski has strong backing from Peru's business community and the wealthy elite.


Chinese police arrested at least a dozen Christian worshippers in Beijing on Sunday. Reports say that after they were evicted from their usual place of worship, leaders of the Shouwang church, a Protestant group, told parishioners to gather at an open-air venue. But police taped off the area and detained people who showed up. Christians in China are required to worship in state-run churches. The Shouwang church has about 1,000 members. It said official pressure forced it out of a place of worship it had been renting.


China has told the U.S. to stop preaching on human rights. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the US should concentrate on its own rights issues and stop interfering in Beijing's affairs. The comment comes after the state department's annual rights report criticized China for stepping up restrictions on lawyers, activists, bloggers and journalists. Chinese authorities were also accused of tightening controls on civil society and stepping up efforts to control the press and internet access. The State Department report noted the increased use of forced disappearances, house arrest, and detention in what it called illicit "black jails" to punish activists, petitioners and their families.


Britain and The Netherlands say that they have no choice but to take legal action to regain billions of dollars that wereused to compensate customers ofan Iceland bank. Landsbanki Islands owes the two countries US$5.6 billion. The bank went virtually bankrupt in 2008 during the global economic crisis. The loan was used to compensate about 340,000 bank customers. Iceland's government insists that the bank can refund more than 90 per cent of the money. But with most votes counted in a referendum in Iceland on Sunday, a majority of people voted against returning the money. The result is embarrassing for Iceland's government. Britain and The Netherlands plan to file a legal case with the European Free Trade Association.



Canadian Milos Raonic beat Michael Llodra of France on Sunday in three sets on the first day of the Monte Carlo Masters.


On Saturday, Vancouver edged Calgary, 3-2, in overtime, Montreal defeated Toronto, 4-1, and Boston beat Ottawa, 3-1.


The Los Angeles Angels beat Toronto, 6-5, in 14 innings on Saturday.


Here is Canada's weather on Monday, April 11. British Columbia will have rain showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be nine degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny periods. Whitehorse, two. Northwest Territories: mainly sunny. Yellowknife, minus 11. Nunavut: snow flurries. Iqaluit, minus nine. Alberta: showers. Edmonton, seven. Saskatchewan: mainly sunny. Regina, 11. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, 17. Ontario: a few showers. Toronto: 19. Ottawa, 19. Quebec: rain. Montreal, 21. New Brunswick: rain. Fredericton, ten. Nova Scotia: rain. Halifax, seven. Prince Edward Island: rain. Charlottetown, nine. Newfoundland: mainly sunny. St. John's, five.