Friday, April 29, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


A military judge in the east coast Canadian city of Halifax has dismissed a manslaughter charge against a former army reservist accused of killing a fellow soldier in Afghanistan. The decision leaves Matthew Wilcox on trial for only two negligence charges in the 2007 shooting of Cpl. Kevin Megeney in a tent at Kandahar Airfield. This is the second court martial for Wilcox over the fatal shooting. He was convicted on two negligence counts during the first trial but the verdict was cancelled.


There was good and bad news for the New Democratic Party on Thursday. The party says it has raised more than $2.5 million since the election was called on March 26, compared with the $2.1 million raised in 2008. The NDP raised $100,000 in online donations on Tuesday alone and collected $250,000 over the long weekend. Campaign managers report that the number of donors kicking in $1,100 or more has doubled in recent weeks, as the party rose in the polls. On the less pleasant side, leader Jack Layton faced tough questions as he visited the Northwest Territories. He dismissed an independent report that claimed that the party's cap-and-trade scheme for carbon would raise the price of gasoline by 10 cents a litre, saying the report involved collusion with big polluters. The NDP has also been criticized for fielding candidates who have gone on vacation during the campaign or who avoid interviews. Mr. Layton said his candidates are doing their best but that some had family plans that couldn't be changed. He wa also asked about claims that one of his candidates in Quebec running in a mostly francophone riding cannot speak French. He responded that the claims are untrue.


Canada's Governor General, David Johnston, and his wife will be among the invited guests at the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday. Millions of Canadians are expected to watch the ceremony televised from London's Westminster Abbey on television. Canada's government has sent a gift that respects the couple's specific wishes. The couple requested that gifts in their name be sent to one of the organizations on a list of charities. Canada's government will donate CDN$50,000 to the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. Prince William and his bride will also receive some outdoor traveling gear to help them during their trip to Canada in June. It will be their first trip abroad after their marriage.


A report on the special law enforcement legislation implemented before last summer's G20 summit says it could have led to even more abuses than actually occurred. The report was written by Roy McMurtry, a former chief justice of Ontario. Police arrested more than 1,100 people during the event. The Ontario government had updated a World War Two law meant to protect public buildings. Mr. McMurtry writes that both the public and the police mistakenly thought the law gave police the authority to stop, search and detain anyone near the summit area. Searches took place across the city. In fact, the law allowed searches and arrests only on the summit grounds. Mr. McMurtry says the law is vague and that a vague law can lead to inconsistent and arbitrary enforcement. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has again called on the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty to apologize to the public and to call a public inquiry into the matter.


Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff also had Mr. Layton in his sights on Wednesday. Speaking in Quebec City, Mr. Ignatieff conceded that while his adversary has a "lovely smile," no one has put his policies under a microscope, whereas he himself has been under such scrutiny for five years as Liberal leader. Mr. Ignatieff says the NDP leader hasn't properly assessed the cost of his proposed policies. He also accuses his rival of saying different things in English and French and is vague on the question of Quebec sovereignty. Mr. Layton has said he would reopen constitutional talks with Quebec when the "winning conditions" are present.


In the final days before Canada's national election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper turned his guns on the surging New Democratic Party led by Jack Layton. Mr. Harper accuses the left-leaning NDP of being "smiles and snakeoil." In the course of the campaign, Mr. Harper's Conservatives have shown little inclination to compromise on policy with the three main opposition parties. But speaking in Niagara Falls, ON, he said that when a government is in a minority, "you do your best to bring people together." Mr. Harper has stressed the need for Canadians to elect a Conservative majority. A minimum of 40-per cent voter support is needed for a party to achieve that goal. But that likelihood has appeared to fade for the Conservatives in recent polls. The latest survey by the Nanos pollster puts Conservative popularity at 36.6 per cent, the NDP at 30.4 per cent, the Liberals at 21.9 per cent and the Bloc Québécois at 6 per cent. If a minority Conservative government cannot win the support in the House of Commons of at least one opposition party, it would fall quickly. If the NDP won more seats than the Liberals and thus became the official opposition, it would have the right to form a government in coalition with the Liberals.


A former senior Ukrainian official went on trial Thursday on charges of murdering journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000. Olexy Pukach, the former head of the Ukrainian interior ministry's intelligence bureau, is the highest-ranking official yet to face trial over the murder of the 31-year old Gongadze in a forest near Kiev. Pukach was arrested in July, 2009, and prosecutors have said he has confessed to personally strangling Gongadze, who founded the still highly respected Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda.


Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez wants the country's Congress to quickly approve a law limiting foreign land ownership. She says Argentine farm and ranch land is a non-renewable resource and a country must protect its ownership. But Miss Fernandez also says the law will not affect properties currently owned by foreigners. She also wants a single registry for rural properties so that it's easier to know who owns what. She says the measure is based on laws in Brazil, Canada, France and the United States, countries that have strong limits on foreign ownership.


A military court in Taiwan has sentenced a defence intelligence official to life in prison for leaking secrets to China. The court found that Lo Chi-cheng spied for China in exchange for money. Lo was arrested last October after an investigation by the Military Intelligence Bureau. Local media have reported that Lo was recruited by China in 2007 and the secrets he leaked included a list of his colleagues working on the Chinese mainland. China and Taiwan have spied on each other ever since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but there is no public information on the number of agents that have been jailed on each side.


Israel and the United States have reacted with caution to an agreement signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and its rival Hamas to end their long-running feud and form an interim government ahead of elections this year. Israel says the accord, which was brokered in secrecy by Egypt, would not secure peace in the Middle East. Israel also urged Mr. Abbas to continue to ignore Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 after ousting Fatah in a civil war. For their part, U.S. officials called Hamas a terrorist group and said any Palestinian government must renounce violence. The Obama administration also repeated demands by the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators that any Palestinian government respect past peace agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist.



Yemen's opposition has accused the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh of committing massacres of peaceful protesters in an attempt to scuttle a Gulf-led transition plan. The opposition made the accusation a day after at least 13 protesters were killed across the country. The opposition claims the killings indicate that the régime is determined to continue with the bloodshed and defeat the agreement initiated by the Gulf Co-operation Council. Opposition leaders warn that it will be difficult for them to go ahead with the planned signing of the transition agreement in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday unless the state crackdown is ended. The plan drawn up by the six-nation Council proposes the formation of a government of national unity in Yemen with Mr. Saleh transferring power to his vice-president and an end to deadly protests across the country. Under the initiative, the president would submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days which would be followed two months later by a presidential election.


Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi have retaken a crossing point on the border with Tunisia that was captured by rebels a week ago. Witnesses and a Western military source told Agence France Presse that there was fighting on both sides of the border at Dehiba. One witness said Tunisian troops had captured fighters on both sides. Thousands of local residents had crossed into Tunisia in recent days in anticipation of a government counterattack. The insurgents still control Nalut, the last big town before the Dehiba crossing. In other news, Reuters cites a rebel source in the besieged western city of Misurata as saying that the Gadafi forces killed nine people and injured 20 in shelling of residential areas. The reports could not be independently confirmed.


Syria's information minister, Adnan Mahmud, says the government will continue its current crackdown on protests despite a threat by the EU to decree sanctions. He told Agence France Press news agency that the authorities are determined to restore security, peace and stability to the country. According to Mr. Mahmud, more than 50 soldiers and dozens of police officers have been killed since the protests started in March. He also claimed that the people of Daraa asked for the army to intervene to restore order. A rights activist in that southern city told AFP that the situation there has deteriorated since 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers entered it on Monday. The source said the electricity has been cut, there's no drinking water and there are no doctors or medical supplies. The activist says at least 42 people have been killed since Monday. Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrians have fled by foot into northern Lebanon. The refugees say the security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the village of Tall Kalakh on Wednesday, injuring several of them. Most of the refugees are women and children.


Imperial Oil has announced a record quarterly profit of $781 million, a 64-per cent increase of the result a year earlier. The company says its performance was fuelled by production of 310,000 barrels a day, compared with 291,000 barrels 12 months earlier. The increases was to due record production from the Syncrude and Cold Lake oilsands developments. Higher refining earnings and lower refinery maintenance costs also were factors.


Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan has announced a record profit of $732 million in the first quarter as the global potash market booms. The profit a year ago was $444 million. PotashCorp fought off a hostile takeover bid of US$40 billion by BHP Billiton last summer. PotashCorp said the price was too low because the world fertilizer industry was set to grow enormously.


TSX: 13,894. - .02. Dollar: US$1.05. euro: $1.40. Oil: $112.84, - .08.



Patrick Chan is finally on top of the podium at the world figure skating championships. The Canadian skater won the men's title with a record score in the long program on Thursday in Moscow. Chan settled for second place at his last two appearances at the world championships. Japan's Takahiko Kozuka won silver and Artur Gachinski took the bronze.


Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin will try to keep the Hart Trophy in the family. He's one of three nominees for the National Hockey League's most valuable player award. Sedin's twin brother Henrik won the Hart last year. Tampa's Martin St. Louis and Anaheim's Corey Perry are the other finalists. The winner will be announced June 22 at the NHL awards in Las Vegas.


Canada's Milos Raonic registered a career

first Thursday.

The 20-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., recorded the first

clay-court quarter-final berth of his ATP career, defeating

Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-3 in second-round play at the Estoril

Open. Raonic needed 71 minutes to dispatch his 254th-ranked

opponent, breaking his serve five times.


British Columbia on Friday: rain north, cloud south, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 11, Yellowknife -2, Iqaluit -5. Alberta 9, Regina 13, Winnipeg 19. Ontario: rain south, sun north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 9, Ottawa 10, Montreal 11. New Brunswick: cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 17, Halifax, St. John's 13, Charlottetown 14.