Monday, April 18, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


RICHMOND: Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to continue his Conservative Party's crackdown on human smugglers as he campaigned for the federal election next month in British Columbia. Among his campaign stops was the Ocean Lady, the ship that transported 76 illegal Tamil migrants to Canada in 2009. In the following two years, other ships brought more Tamil migrants seeking asylum. Mr. Harper told a campaign rally in Richmond that human smugglers are targetingCanada because they believe that Canada's system can be exploited for profit. But Mr. Harper said that thousands of immigrants who enter Canada legally each year are welcome, saying that Canada's diversity and generosity are sources of national pride. Other federal party leaders also campaigned on Sunday. Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff was in British Columbia as well, campaigning with former prime minister Paul Martin. The New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton was in Atlantic Canada, hoping to capitalize on momentum that he generated during the televised leaders' debate last week. The Bloc Quebecois leader, Gilles Duceppe, remained in Quebec, where his party fields its only candidates.


MA'SUM GHAR: Voting booths were being erected on Sunday at military bases in Afghanistan where Canadian soldiers could begin advance voting for Canada's federal election. The election will be held in Canada on May 2. Canada's 2,800 troops in Afghanistan were able to pay attention to election activities whenever their duties allowed. Captain Adam Siokalo of a remote post in western Panjwaii said that the main issue for many soldiers is the policy that the various parties have for the military. Soldiers want to know which party wants to cut the defence budget or plans to procure new weapons. Soldiers abroad mark a different ballot than the one used by civilians. Soldiers examine a 112-page list of 415 candidates. They choose one of Canada's 308 electoral districts and vote for the candidate in the chosen district on a ballot that goes into an envelope. The envelope is then put into a second envelopewith the riding's name.


MONTREAL: Some two thousand members of the Parti Quebecois continued their convention on Sunday with votes on many policy issues, including one concerning the sensitive issue of language. The sovereignist party has always promoted policies to strengthen the use of French in the mainly French-speaking province, often raising concern among anglophones and allophones who feel that their own language rights were being ignored. Initially, delegates supported a provision that would outlaw all languages except French on commercial signs. But party leader Pauline Marois warned delegates that such a provision could eventually lead to legal battles. On reconsidering, delegates voted to drop the provision. In Quebec, English may be used on commercial signs so long as French predominates. On Saturday, delegates voted overwhelmingly to keep Ms. Marois as party leader.


Flooding continues to disrupt life across Canada's western provinces. In the city of Winnipeg, residents are bracing for a predicted half metre rise in water levels, after an ice jam broke up on the Assiniboine River. Elsewhere in Manitoba, spring floods have now forced about 700 people from their homes on the Peguis First Nation. In Saskatchewan, a state of emergency has been declared in Lumsden, north-west of Regina, as waterways in that area continue to rise. And in southern Alberta, it's the first April in memory that farmers have not been able to plant at least some crops. Their fields are still covered in water.


The United Arab Emirates has proposed restrictions for the local use of the Canadian-made smart phone, Blackberry. The Blackberry offers a security system that is popular among people who want to keep their telephone and text messages private. The UAE wants to limit access to this system to organizations that have 20 or more Blackberry accounts. The policy would force smaller companies to use a less-secure system, which would allow UAE authorities to monitor data. The Blackberry's maker, Research in Motion, says that the proposed restrictions will likely apply to other companies' smartphones as well.


VANCOUVER: The New Democratic Party in British Columbia held a leadership vote on Sunday. More than 18,000 members voted by telephone and on the Internet in advance voting, and as many as ten thousand more were expected to cast their ballots on Sunday. The party was seeking to replace Carole James, who announced her resignation last December amid a caucus revolt. Among the contenders were Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth, John Horgan and Dana Larsen. The winner will run a provincial election against Premier Christy Clark, who was elected Liberal Party leader earlier this year.


Unofficialresults in Nigeria's presidential election show that President Goodluck Jonathan would retain office despite a strong showing by his rival, Muhammadu Buhari. Mr. Jonathan became president after his predecessor died in office last year. Mr. Jonathan saw surprisingly good results in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north, where residents are less inclined to vote for a Christian such as Mr. Jonathan. The vote on Saturday is considered Nigeria's first fully democratic election in 12 years. The latest election was relative free of the violence that marred previous votes. At least one major case of violence occurred in northern Nigeria, where a bomb in the city of Kaduna wounded eight people at a hotel. Official results are expected on Monday.


Cuban President Raul Castro has announced the imposition of term limits, for senior political positions in his government. From now on, people will be limited to two five year terms in an office. Mr.Castro says party leadership is in need of renewal and should subject itself to severe self-criticism. The proposal is unprecedented under Cuban communism. The 79 year old Castro made clear the limits would apply to himself. He made the announcements Saturday at the beginning of the first congress of Cuba's ruling Communist Party in 14 years. Mr. Castro took over from his brother Fidel in 2008 and between them they have ruled Cuba for 52 years. He also admitted that the confidence of most Cubans has been tested with regard to the Communist party and the revolution. He said they would now have to overcome what he described as a "mentality of inertia" and said the only thing that could threaten the revolution was the inability to rectify errors. The four-day party congress is expected to see 1,000 delegates back all or part of a package of nearly 300 reforms.


The True Finns party scored strongly in Finland's election on Sunday, putting it in a position to oppose the European Union's proposal to bail out Portugal. The centre-right National Coalition appeared poised to win the election, but would need to form a coalition with True Finns and other parties. Fnland's parliament has the right to vote on EU requests for bailout funds. The True Finns won about 19 percent of the vote, more than four times their result in the election in 2007.


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is holding talks in Hong Kong with Chief Executive Donald Tsang and other officials. Mr. Medvedev is leading a business delegation which hopes to open new markets in the Asian city. Russia is seeking to diversify its economy beyond oil and gas and entice more foreign capital to what Mr. Medvedev himself has described as a "very bad" domestic investiment climate. Bi-lateral trade between Russia and Hong Kong grew by 63 percent last year.


The U.S. rights group, China Aid Association, says that nearly 50 members of an underground Beijing church were detained on Sunday. Leaders of the Shouwang church were also said to be under house arrest. The rights group says that the church's pastor, Jin Tianming, was detained and then released. The detentions came after church members tried to worship in an open-air public space. Last week, they were evicted from a Beijing restaurant where they were holding services. Chinese authorities have apparently cracked down on the church. The rights group says that some church members lost their homes or jobs amid an official campaign to shut down the church. China's Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but Christians are required to worship in churches run by state-controlled organizations. More than 60 million Christians are believed to worship in unregistered churches.


China's central bank announced Sunday it would raise the amount of money that lenders must keep in reserve. The Bank will raise its reserve ratio requirement by .50 percentage points, beginning on Thursday. That would lock up about $54-Billion that banks would otherwise be able to lend. It's the fourth such move this year and comes as official concerns persist over inflation and fast-pace lending. By insisting banks hold more cash, the central bank hopes to restrict lending, which in turn will reduce spending. Rising food prices are the main cause of high inflation in China. Latest figures show that the cost of food has risen 11.7 percent in the past year. Housing costs are also on the rise. Interest rates have also been raised four times since October in efforts to curb inflation.


Yemen's opposition leaders were scheduled to meet Gulf Arab foreign ministers in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The Yemeni opposition is discussing conditions before entering formal talks over the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Gulf States stepped in to mediate a transition of power after three months of protests demanding an end to Mr. Saleh's 32-year rule. But the talks have dragged on over issues such as Saleh's immunity from prosecution and the timetable for a transition. The opposition wants departure of the president within weeks and the option of prosecuting him kept open. More than 116 protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces since late January.


Thousands of Syrians chanted slogans calling for greater freedom at independence day rallies on Sunday. In the country's second city Aleppo, which has been mainly free of pro-democracy protests, several hundred people took part in a rally. Syria marks April 17th as the anniversary of the departure of French soldiers 65 years ago. Demonstrations werealso held inother cities including Banias, Suwida, and Banaias where 1,500 people turned out. On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he expects the country's decades long state of emergency to be lifted next week. The comments during a televised speech to his newly formed cabinet did not address protesters' demands to curb Syria's pervasive security apparatus and dismantle its authoritarian system. Rights groups say over 200 people have been killed since the call for more democracy began last month.


There are reports of renewed fighting between Colonel Moummar Gaddafi's forces and rebels in Libya. Opponents of Gaddafi say at least six people were killed and 47 wounded when his forces shelled the western town of Misrata on Sunday morning. Pro-government fighters are also said to have shelled Ajdabiya in the east. The rebels accuse Gaddafi of attempting to create a humanitarian crisis in Misrata. And they have called on NATO forces to do more to protect Misrata's 300,000 residents. A NATO foreign ministers meeting Friday ended without commitment from non-participating nations to contribute aircraft to the alliance's military operations over Libya. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, says terms of the U.N. resolution on Libya are a "restriction" on the coalition powers who have been trying to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.


The president of the World Bank has warned that rising food prices and turmoil in the Middle East could hinder global economic recovery. Robert Zoellick's comments came in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. G20 finance chiefs, including Canada's Jim Flaherty, also met in Washington. They promised to lend $35 Billionto help new governments that have sprung up in the Middle East and North Africa as a result of popular uprisings. There are concerns higher food prices could trigger more unrest in those parts of the world.The finance chiefs also agreed on guidelines to measure potential risks to the global economy posed by the national economic policies of individual nations. All members of the G20 will be monitored under the new system. In addition, members who account for more than five percent of total G20 economic output will be subject to a deeper, second-stage analysis of imbalances. They include the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and France.


Algeria's security forces on Sunday came under their second deadly attack in two days. Six soldiers were killed in two nearly simultaneous attacks in the Boumerdes and Bouira regions east of Algiers. Two others were wounded. Two days earlier, at least 13 soldiers were killed as suspected Islamist extremists attacked an army post.



The Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, 8-1. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in three runs and Jon Lester pitched a solid six innings. The win gave Boston consecutive victories for the first time this season.


Here is Canada's weather on Monday, April 18. British Columbia will have sunny periods. The high temperature in Vancouver will be ten degrees Celsius. The Yukon: mainly cloudy. Whitehorse, two. Northwest Territories: increasing cloudiness. Yellowknife, minus five. Nunavut: variable cloudiness. Iqaluit, minus 13. Alberta: mainly sunny. Edmonton, four. Saskatchewan: variable cloudiness. Regina, two. Manitoba: mainly cloudy. Winnipeg, five. Ontario: cloudy periods. Toronto: six. Ottawa, six. Quebec: mainly cloudy. Montreal, four. New Brunswick: variable cloudiness. Fredericton, eight. Nova Scotia: variable cloudiness. Halifax, nine. Prince Edward Island: showers. Charlottetown, nine. Newfoundland: rain. St. John's, eight.