Sunday, May 1, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

WITH ELECTION LOOMING, NDP LEADER REJECTS SMEAR STORY


With less than 48 hours before Canadians vote in a federal election on Monday, the New Democratic Party leader, Jack Layton, calmly rejected what he called an attempt to smear his reputation. Mr. Layton was reacting to a report in the Sun media that police in Toronto had questioned him in connection with a raid on a massage parlour 15 years ago, when he was a local city councillor. The parlour had a registered licence as a massage clinic, and Mr. Layton visited it under the impression that he could receive treatment for a back problem. No criminal charges were filed against him. Police are investigating how Sun media uncovered the incident. The NDP has seen a surge in its popularity in recent opinion polls, raising it above the Liberal Party into second place behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party. Mr. Harper on Saturday declined to reply to a journalist's question about whether the Conservatives would be ready to form a coalition government should Mr. Harper again fail to win a majority government. He has twice formed minority governments. Campaigning in southern Ontario on Saturday, the Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff, remained convinced that his party will win on Monday. His comment came on the same day that The Toronto Star, Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, endorsed the NDP, calling the Liberal party the biggest disappointment of the campaign. In Quebec, the leader of the sovereignist Bloc Quebecois party, Gilles Duceppe, tried to stimulate faltering support of his party by campaigning with Pauline Marois, the leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois, which also promotes Quebec's independence.

MORE RAIN AND SNOW FORECAST FOR PRAIRIE FLOOD ZONE


As people in southern Manitoba try to cope with seasonal floods that have closed roads and threaten to inundate their communities, more rain and even snow was forecast for the weekend. High winds were also predicted. Winds began blowing hard on Saturday across neighbouring Saskatchewan, where flooding was also creating problems. Police in Saskatchewan recommended avoiding highway travel in eastern Saskatchewan due to extremely poor visibility caused by blizzard snow.

CANADA URGES RENEWED EFFORTS TO STOP NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION


Canada and nine other nations are jointly appealing to the international community to take steps to stop nuclear proliferation. Meeting in Berlin, the countries' foreign ministers expressed an urgent need to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons. They suggested that the production of material to make nuclear weapons should be banned internationally as a way of reducing the risk of private citizens acquiring such material. The foreign ministers also recommend that countries with nuclear material show greater transparency with regards to their arsenals. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd observed sadly that a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty last year had led to little practical work. In addition to Canada, the disarmament talks in Berlin involved Japan, Australia, Germany, Chile, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Poland and Turkey.

OIL LEAK AT ALBERTA PIPELINE


A spill from an oil pipeline northeast of Peace River, Alberta,is under investigation. An undetermined amount of oil was leaked on Friday morning as a result of a pipeline failure. It's estimated that several hundred barrelsof oil leaked. The spill is not considered a threat to the public, the pipeline has been isolated and the leak has been closed. The oil was 300 metres from the nearest water and about seven kilometres from the nearest home. The leak was in the 44-year-old Rainbow pipeline belonging to Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline. The company has pipelines and crude oil storage facilities throughout Alberta. An investigation could take several weeks.

U.S. DIPLOMATIC CABLE DESCRIBES FLOW OF ILLEGAL MIGRANTS TO CANADA


A U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed by Wikileaks suggests that illegal immigrants in the United States are crossing into Canada to obtain new identities and passports. The cable was written by the U.S. consul in Vancouver, Phillip Chicola. Writing to the White House, Mr. Chicola observes that some migrants live illegally for several years in the United States before trying to gain access to Vancouver. The migrants obtain false identity documents that help to conceal any previous deportation orders in the United States. The letter contradicts a belief held by many Americans and U.S. government officials that many migrants are illegally entering their country from Canada.


LIBYA


Libya's government says that a NATO airstrike late on Saturday night killed Colonel Moammar Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, and three of his grandsons. Colonel Gaddafi and his wife were in his son's house in central Tripoli when it was struck by NATO bombs, but a Libyan government spokesman says that the couple was not harmed. The house was completely destroyed. Only a large crater remained. It's believed that Colonel Gaddafi and his wife were in an adjacent building. The attack occurred not long after Colonel Gaddafi publicly proposed holding a ceasefire with Libyan rebels if NATO agreed to stop its air strikes against his forces. NATO replied that Colonel Gaddafi had first to show his good faith through actions. Libya's government is criticizing NATO for exceeding the United Nations mandate for the NATO mission in Libya. The mandate allows NATO to use force only to protect Libyan civilians.

MOROCCO


Morocco's king on Saturday toured the cafe in Marrakech where a bomb exploded two days before, killing 16 people including a pregnant Canadian woman. Initial reports said that two Canadians were killed, but the second death has not been confirmed. Morocco's government says that the bombing resembles the work of al-Qaeda. The bomb was detonated by a remote-controlled device. Most of the victims were foreigners visiting the popular cafe. In 2003, an attack in Casablanca killed 45 people, including suicide bombers.

SYRIA


More anti-government activists were arrested in Syria on Saturday. Among them were two veteran opposition figures and a group of female protesters. The arrests were reported by the Syrian human rights group, Sawasiah. The group says that security forces have killed at least 560 people since protests against President Bashar al-Assad began a month ago. Thousands of people are thought to be held in detention. Much of the violence against protesters has occurred in the city of Deraa. Mr. al-Assad has refused to cede power.

CHINA


China has released a human rights lawyer who was apparently held in police custody for more than two months. Teng Biao returned home on Friday afternoon. But his wife, Wang Ling, says that it was not convenient for him to speak with the media. Mr. Teng's release followed the release of several other lawyers and activists in recent days. In the past several weeks, Chinese authorities cracked down on any potential anti-government protesters who might have been inspired by recent popular revolts in north African countries. Hundreds of people were detained, confined at home, interrogated or simply vanished. On Friday, another prominent civil rights lawyer, Li Fangping, was taken away after he left a meeting with a group that fights discrimination against people with hepatitis B. Phelim Kine, a researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, says that the whereabouts of 16 other lawyers and activists missing in the current crackdown are unknown. Mr. Kline said that they remain vulnerable to torture while in custody.

JAPAN


In Japan, a key government adviser has quit in protest over radiation explosure limits for schools near the nuclear power plant that was damaged by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Prime Minister Naoto Kan's handling of the crisis has come under increasing scrutiny. And a new poll indicates three-quarters of people disapprove of his handling of the crisis at the radiation-spewing Fukishima nuclear power plant on the northeast coast. As many as 25-thousand people are feared dead, after the March 11th twin disasters. But only 13-thousand deaths have been confirmed. Many bodies were washed out to sea and may never be found.

BRITAIN


Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, have made surprise plans following their royal wedding on Friday at Westminster Abbey. Instead of going immediately on their honeymoon, the following day they flew by helicopter from London to a secret location in Britain for a quiet weekend. They will then go to Wales, where Prince William will continue working as a military helicopter search-and-rescue pilot. The two plan a honeymoon at an undisclosed exotic location sometime in the future. They are scheduled to take their first official trip abroad in June, when they will tour Canada.

MEXICO


The alleged leader of Mexico's Tijuana drug cartel, Benjamin Arellano Felix, has been extradited to the United States. Prosecutors allege Mr. Felix, 59, led the cartel's criminal and financial operations. He will face trial in a federal court in San Diego, California. The cartel is now weakened. But at its height, it is thought to have been the main supplier of cocaine and marijuana to the U.S.

ITALY


Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to attend Sunday's Roman Catholic beatification of the late Pope John Paul II who died seven-years ago. A Vatican spokesman says 22 world leaders and 87 international delegations will be in Rome to celebrate the Polish-born Pope's ascension to sainthood. Among them is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. A European Union travel ban forbids him from visiting member states but the Vatican, where the ceremony will take place, is a sovereign state and not in the EU. Mr Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, has been allowed to transit through Italy. The travel ban was imposed on Mr. Mugabe in 2002 over human rights abuses.

CHINA


China has released human rights lawyer Teng Biao after ten weeks in custody. Advocacy group China Aid said Teng returned home Friday. His wife Wang Ling declined to comment on his physical or mental well-being and said it was not convenient for him to speak with the press. In February Mr.Teng and other lawyers involved in defending Chen Guangcheng, an activist who has spoken out about forced abortions in China, were arrested, interrogated and beaten by police following a meeting in Beijing. Mr. Teng's release comes after several other lawyers and activists were freed in recent days. They had been detained amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent in which hundreds of people have been detained, confined at home, interrogated or have simply vanished. Meanwhile the advocacy group China Aid reports that another prominent civil rights lawyer, Li Fangping, was taken away by the authorities on Friday after he left a meeting with a group that fights discrimination against people with hepatitis B.

HONG KONG


China's army has warned that an image of detained artist Ai Weiwei which was briefly projected onto a Hong Kong barracks amid a campaign in the territory for his release was illegal. The South China Morning Post reports that the image was put up by an artist calling himself Cpak Ming. The words "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?" were written below Mr. Ai's image. The newspaper also reported that stencilled, painted graffiti in Ai's support has also appeared on the streets of Hong Kong this month and is under investigation by police as a possible case of criminal damage. Mr. Ai was detained in early April in Beijing for unspecified "economic crimes", sparking worldwide condemnation. More than 1,000 people in Hong Kong took part in a protest march a week ago demanding that the popular artist be set free.

U.S.


U.S. President Barack Obama has promised federal aid to the tornado-ravaged American South. Deadly tornados this week left over 400 people dead and caused billions of dollars in damage. Mr. Obama visited the worst-hit state, Alabama, on Friday which suffrered the most casualties and devastation.

RUSSIA


A senior Islamist militant and nine of his followers have reportedly been killed in a siege with security forces in the southern Russian region of Stavropol. Asker Dzhappuyev, said to have led a militant group in the nearby Kabardino-Balkaria region, was wanted in connection with the killing of police officers and hunters. Security forces attacked the house where the suspects were staying after they reportedly refused to surrender. Islamist militants have often staged attacks in the Kabardino-Balkaria area.

EGYPT


Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has set up a new party to contest up to half the seats in a parliamentary election scheduled for September. The head of the Freedom and Justice Party says it will be a civil, not a theocratic, group. Egypt's constitution bans parties based on religion, class or regionalism. The September election was called after the popular revolt which led to the departure of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

IRAQ


 

An Iraqi judge and members of his family were killed Saturday in a village near the town of Taji, 6 kilometres north of Baghdad. Officials say the judge, his wife and daughter died when their house was blown up. Gunmen reportedly planted three bombs around the home. They exploded before dawn today. Two other family members were injured in the attack. Insurgents are stepping up their attacks against government officials before the final withdrawal of the American forces by the end of this year. Judges have often complained about a lack of protection.

YEMEN


Eyewitnesses say Yemeni forces have stormed the main square in a southern Yemeni city to forcibly evict a two-month-old encampment of 1,500 anti-government protesters. Security forces armed with heavy weapons moved in during the early hours of the morning to evict the protesters from the city center of Aden. In response, demonstrators later marched through several neighbourhoods. Gunfire and the wail of ambulance sirens could be heard throughout the city. Hundreds of thousands have protested for months around Yemen for the long serving president to step down. An Arab delegation is meeting with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh today. He will be invited to the Saudi capital to sign a deal for him to step down in return for immunity from prosecution.


SPORTS


TENNIS

Canadian Milos Roanic was forced to retire from his semifinal match on Saturday against Spain's Fernando Verdasco at the Estoril Open in Portugal. Roanic had a back ailment after dropping the first set 6-4. At the BMW Open in Munich on Saturday, Canadian Adil Shamasdin and American James Cerretani lost in the men's doubles semifinals to Andreas Beck and Christopher Kas of Germany, 6-4, 6-3.

FIGURE SKATING

Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won a silver medal at the world figure skating championships in Moscow on Saturday. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold.


WEATHER


Here is Canada's weather on Sunday, May 1. British Columbia will be mainly sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 14 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, nine. Northwest Territories: sunny Yellowknife, minus two. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 11. Alberta: increasing cloudiness. Edmonton, 12. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, 11. Manitoba: light snow. Winnipeg, two. Ontario: showers. Toronto: 13. Ottawa, 17. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 17. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, 14. Nova Scotia: showers. Halifax, eight. Prince Edward Island: mainly cloudy. Charlottetown, six. Newfoundland: cloudy. St. John's, three.