Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Embassy scuffle

The Libyan embassy in Ottawa was the scene of an incident on Tuesday when a group pushed their way in and started damaging property. A police spokesman says an embassy employee was slightly injured in the scuffle. Seven suspects were arrested and are being held pending possible criminal charges.

Greens out

The leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, will not take part in the televised election debate among national party leaders. The party's court action challenging the exclusion decision by a broadcast consortium was rejected, in effect, by the Federal Court of Canada when the judge refused to expedite the case. A lawyer for the media consortium argued the matter was too complex to be heard fully within a matter of days. That means there's no time to argue the case before the April 12th debate - a highlight of the current federal election campaign. The broadcast consortium rejected the Greens' participation on the basis that it holds no seats in the House of Commons.

On the hustings

The leader of the opposition Liberal party, Michael Ignatieff, is accusing his Conservative rival, Stephen Harper, of making Canada a very "un-Canadian place." The Liberal leader was responding to an incident in the Tory election campaign in which two young Muslim women were ordered to leave an event in London, Ontario, on Monday. One of the women suggested a photo of her at a Liberal rally on her Facebook page was the reason for her expulsion. Both Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff campaigned in Quebec Tuesday. NDP Leader Jack Layton was in Winnipeg, where the party is desperately trying to regain Winnipeg-North, a bastion they lost to the Liberals in a byelection last fall.

Bioscience company breaks into Chinese market

A Canadian bioscience company has landed what it considers to be a major contract in China. MedMira announced Monday that its Chinese partner, Triplex International Biosciences, has placed an initial order for 400,000 of the company's HIV tests. MedMira says the contract, at less than 1-million dollars, is not big, but opens up a potentially much larger market. The initial order is to supply rapid HIV tests to outreach health clinics being established in towns and villages across China. The company says it's part of national health-care reforms in the country. The company's tests provide hospitals, labs, clinics and individuals with rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Canadian sought by Spain for crimes against humanity

A Spanish judge has issued an arrest warrant for a suspected Guatemalan war criminal in Canada. Jorge Sosa is wanted in Spain for crimes against humanity. He's accused of a 1982 massacre inGuatemala, where 251 people were killed. The Canadian Centre for International Justice in Ottawa says it's no surprise. Spokesman Matt Eisenbrandtsays Canada, too,could prosecute Sosa. He says if Canada chooses not to, it should send Sosa to Spain.

Emmy for NFB

An interactive documentary produced by Canada's National Film Board has taken the International Digital Emmy Award at a ceremony in Cannes, France. "HIGHRISE: Out My Window" features 49 stories from within various apartment buildings in 13 cities, and told in 13 different languages. According to the film's website, it is one of the world's first interactive 360-degree documentaries delivered entirely on the web. It explores the state of the urban planet and is told by people who look out on the world from highrise windows. The production was directed by Katerina Cizek and produced by Gerry Flahive.

IVORY COAST: The end game

The defeated president of Ivory Coast says that the Ivorian army has called for a ceasefire, but as far as he was concerned, he is not ready to surrender. He repeated, during an interview with a French TV station, that he considered himself the winner of last November's elections. Gbagbo said face-to-face talks with rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara, who has been recognized as the winner by the international community, was the only way to return the Ivory Coast to peace. Even if Gbagbo does go, most observers believe it'll be some time before stability is restored in Abidjan and elsewhere in Ivory Coast. Supporters of Mr. Gbagbo remain heavily armed, and their leader's surrender could intensify their frustrations. The United Nations, meanwhile, believes "several hundred" people were killed in massacres in a western Ivory Coast town last week and one mass grave had almost 200 bodies. The mass killings were in the town of Duekoue where followers of internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara took control last week after beating forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said... "it appears that several hundred civilians were killed in at least two separate incidents and many others may have been killed in direct fighting between armed militias." Separately, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who has just left Duekue, said investigators had found one mass grave. Almost 200 bodies had been found in the grave and others had been found in other parts of the town. Ouattara denied his forces were responsible and his representatives have cast doubt on the toll. He has agreed to an investigation.

ARCTIC: Ozone depletion

The combination of a cold winter in the stratosphere - the second major layer of the Earth's atmosphere - and harmful chemicals have led to unprecedented thinning of the ozone layer over the Arctic region. The World Meteorological Organization said the layer there has suffered a loss of about 40 per cent from the start of winter until late March. That exceeds the previous seasonal loss of about 30 per cent. The loss comes despite the UN ozone treaty, known as the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which has resulted in cutbacks in ozone-damaging chemicals. But because these compounds have long atmospheric lifetimes, it takes decades for their concentrations to subside. The ozone layer serves to protect life on Earth against the sun's most harmful rays.


There's grumbling among Libyan rebels about the way Nato is conducting its mission in Libya. They say the force is too slow to act. Abdel Fattah Younes, head of the rebel forces, said Nato's inaction was allowing Gadhafi's forces to advance and kill the people in the rebel-held city of Misrata "every day". Nato, under the command of Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, took over from a coalition led by the United States, Britain and France on March 31st, putting the alliance in charge of air strikes targeting Gadhafi's military infrastructure as well as policing a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. Younes said Nato has become their problem, and that if it doesn't do its job properly, they will ask the UN to suspend its mission.


An opposition group in Bahrian claims that numerous firms there have fired hundreds of mostly Shi'ite Muslim workers who went on strike to support pro-democracy protesters. Officials at several aviation-related companies confirm they had laid off more than 200 workers due to what they described as an illegal absence during the strike. Bahrain's main Shi'ite opposition group, Wefaq, said it estimated that more than 1,000 workers had been laid off and that most were Shi'ites. Bahrain's unions called a general strike on March 13 to support Shi'ite protesters against the Sunni-led government who for weeks occupied a square in the capital. Security forces moved in on March 16. The strike was called off on March 22.


At least five people were killed Tuesday and some fifteen others injured in Yemen's capital Sanaa during clashes between supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters who want him out. Elsewhere, security forces and armed men in civilian clothes opened fire on protesters in Yemen's city of Taiz.. Witnesses say that dozens of people were wounded. The shooting came one day after clashes in that city killed at least 15 people. More than 100 people have now been killed in clashes at protests. World anger over the bloodshedand pressure on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down mounted on Tuesday. Strong statements from the United Nations, European Union, Britain and Italy came as Saleh's foes cautiously welcomed a proposal by Gulf states to mediate in their demands for the veteran president to step down.


Egypt's ruling generals will not allow extremist groups to take over the country . They would prefer to see a moderate religious ideology prevail in the mainly Muslim nation. Analysts say the comments, by three members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, appear designed to calm growing fears that militant Islamic groups now operating openly will try to impose their strict interpretation of Islam on Egypt. They also appeared to serve as a warning to militant groups against taking advantage of the country's precarious security and the freedoms allowed after the February ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. The military took over the country when Mr. Mubarak stepped down and has since relaxed restrictions on the freedom of expression and the formation of political parties. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in September.


An online petition in China is calling for the release of well-known artist and social critic Ai Weiwei who was arrested Sunday in Beijing. He was about to take a plane to Hong Kong. His arrest has caused alarm among the nation's liberal intellectuals who see his case as a test of how far a crackdown to stifle dissent could reach. Chinese officials have not commented on the whereabouts of the 53-year old Ai. Rights groups say he has joined a growing list of dissidents and activists in detention or informal custody. His wife, Lu Qing, says that police officers would not give her any information. His disappearance has drawn condemnation from Britain, Germany and the United States.


There may be a glimmer of hope emerging from the crippled nuclear reactors in Fukushima Japan. Engineers have reduced the flow of highly radioactive water out of the number-2 reactor - water that was 5 million times the legal limit of radioactivity. But workers are still struggling to restart cooling pumps which recycle the water. Until those are fixed, they must pump in water from outside to prevent overheating and meltdowns. In the process, that creates more contaminated water. The government said it was considering imposing radioactivity restrictions on seafood for the first time in the crisis after contaminated fish were found. And India became the first country to ban food imports from all areas of Japan.


Argentina's foreign minister Hector Timmerman has denied a reported offer by his government to stop investigating two deadly bombings against Jewish centres in the 1990s in return for improved trade ties with Iran. He made the comment during a visit to Jerusalem on Monday. Last month, the Argentinian newspaper Perfil cited an Iranian diplomatic memo detailing a proposal from Argentina to drop the investigations. In 1994, a bomb killed 85 and wounded 200 at a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. In 1992, a bomb destroyed Israel's embassy there, killing 29. Argentine officials have long maintained that Iran supported the attacks.


At least nine people were killed in Mexico by suspected drug cartel gunmen. Six police officers were killed late Sunday in the town of El Higo in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, and another three people died in a shootout Monday between soldiers and gunmen in Acapulco. Factions of the Beltran Leyva cartel have been fighting for control of Acapulco since the December 2009 killing of cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva. An estimated 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence during the past four years.


Three astronauts were launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on Tuesday en route to the International Space Station. The two Russians and one American are in a spaceship named after the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in honour of his historic flight on April 12, 1961. Their mission has been dedicated to Gagarin's flight. The mission is a centrepiece of celebrations for the half century of manned spaceflight. Russian state television said the crew were taking a recording of the famous radio exchanges between Gagarin in his tiny capsule and chief Soviet rocket designer Sergei Korolyov on the ground from half a century ago.


The S&P/TSX composite index rose 52.18 points to 14,270.53

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 6.13 points to 12,393.9. The Nasdaq composite index gained two points to 2,791.19 and the S&P 500 index dipped 0.24 of a point to 1,332.63.

The Canadian dollar settled at 103.75 cents US on Tuesday, up 0.39 of a cent. The U.S. dollar stood at 96.39 cents Cdn, down 0.36 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5700, up 0.94 of a cent and US$1.6288, up 1.58 cents. The euro was worth C$1.5710, down 0.47 of a cent.

Oil closed well off early lows, down 13 cents at US$108.34 a barrel.


The OECD is painting a rosy picture for Canadian economic prospects. The Paris-based organization predicts Canada's economic growth will be 5.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 and 3.8 per cent in the second. Those numbers are higher than for any of the other G-8 nations, although Japan was excluded from the forecast because of the setback caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Canada's rubust economic growth is due in large measure to heightened demand for commodities such as oil, gold and copper.

Ontario Teachers Plan

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan says it is facing a serious funding shortfall as its retirees live longer, despite earning a 14.3 per cent return on its investments last year. The money manager said it earned $13.3 billion in investment income in 2010 -- ending the year with $107.5 billion in net assets. But it still faces "serious funding challenges," including a $17.2-billion preliminary funding shortfall. As pensioners live longer, they put financial strain on the plan, which now has 1.5 active teachers contributing for each retiree, compared with 20 years ago, when there were four active teachers per retiree. The fund now pays out $1.8 billion more each year than it receives in contributions. "This plan is not in financial trouble. We have $107.5 billion in dollars in assets. We can pay pensions for many, many years even if we didn't have any other investment returns," Teachers' president and CEO Jim Leech said in an interview. "But we have to think about the 70, 80 year horizon and that's when you start to say maybe we should do some course corrections today."


WestJet Airlines Ltd. says consumer demand for travel has continued to be strong, helping the company achieve record passenger traffic in March. The Calgary-based company (TSX:WJA) says its March passenger traffic was 13.3 per cent higher than the same month last year. Its load factor was 84.8 per cent, one percentage point better than in March 2010. WestJet's CEO says the company is pleased with the market's ability to absorb fare increases during a period of elevated fuel costs. The price of crude oil has risen dramatically since February as a result of unrest in Libya and other oil-producing areas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Variable skies with showers in Vancouver and a high of 9. Sunny skies across the Prairies and Northwestern Ontario, with a high of 5 in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon, 1 in Regina, 7 in Winnipeg and 5 in Thunder Bay. Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal will see unsettled weather, including showers or snowflurries, with highs of 7 in Toronto and 6 at both Ottawa and Montreal. Mainly sunny across the Maritimes, with a high of 4 in Fredericton, Halifax and Charlottetown. A rainy day and a high of 7 in St. John's. Sunny across the western half of the far north with highs of 4 in Whitehorse and zero in Yellowknife. Variable skies with snow and minus 10 at Iqaluit.