Friday, May 6, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 5 May 2011
Canadian International Financial Weather


The Canadian army is deployed on Thursday in a severely flooded area southeast of Montreal, just one day after Quebec Premier Jean Charest requested the help of the Canadian Forces. The flooding along the Richelieu River has affected 3,000 homes. One-third of them have been evacuated, leaving 2,800 people homeless. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the federal government is prepared to help as well. The rain in the area this week has been constant. But Environment Canada explains that the heavier-than-usual snowfall also is a factor.


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says its thoughts and prayers are with the people in the Nova Scotia diocese where Raymond Lahey was bishop. The statement comes after Lahey pleaded guilty Wednesday to importing child pornography. The 70-year old former bishop was arrested at Ottawa airport in 2009 after hundreds of photos of young boys were found on his laptop computer. Lahey is to return to court May 26 to receive a sentencing date.


Syria has confirmed it's holding a Canadian journalist who works for the Al-Jazeera television network. Dorothy Parvaz, who has Canadian, U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was detained when she arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus a week ago. She flew to Damascus last Friday but she never checked into her hotel. Her family in the province of British Columbia has been trying to find out more information about her disappearance and Canada's foreign affairs department is also looking into the situation.


There are fears of flooding in the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick as well. Emergency Measures officials warn that flooding is expected along the St. John River in the north of the province over the next few days, after several days of heavy rain. Officials say the river is expected to crest in the Fredericton area at about one metre over the flood stage of Saturday. Residents who live in low-lying areas are advised to take precautions.


A Canadian drugmaker is challenging the patent rights to the wide-selling drug Viagra. Viagra's patent is held by Pfizer. It expires in 2014. But Teva Canada wants to introduce a generic version of the drug before then. The company failed to have its case heard by Canada's Federal Court, but Canada's Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenge. Viagra is designed to increase male sexual potency.


Researchers say that global warming could be of financial benefit to Canadian farms. A paper published in the Science journal says rising temperatures almost everywhere in the world are starting to slow crop yields. The researchers say Canada and the U.S., where crop yields have been unaffected by climate change, the are exceptions and that this means Canadian farmers will enjoy a bigger share of global crop production. That, in turn, means they will get high prices for their crops. The research was done at Stanford University in California.



The foreign ministers of more than 20 countries meeting in Rome have promised billions of dollars of aid for Libyan rebels. The countries include the U.S., Italy, Qatar and Kuwait. They have agreed to create a fund to help finance the insurgents. The insurgents have said they have only enough money to pay for food, public salaries and medicine until the end of the month. Kuwait has pledged $180 million for the fund and Qatar as much as $500 million. France says it's evaluating its contribution. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration is working with the U.S. Congress to change U.S. law to allow some of the $30 billion in Libyan funds now frozen to be turned over to the rebels. Meanwhile, a rebel in the rebel-held town of Zintan southwest of Tripoli said pro-Ghadaffi forces fired 50 rockets into the town on Thursday.


A car bomber killed at least 20 people and wounded 80 Thursday at a police building in the city of Hilla. Iraq's army and police have been on high alert since American forces shot dead Osama bin Laden Monday in Pakistan. Security officials said they had received intelligence that al-Qaeda's Iraqi wing would carry out revenge attacks. Iraq has been a major operations zone for al-Qaeda since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Dozens of bombings and other attacks are still mounted each month. But American and Iraqi officials says al-Qaeda in Iraq has been severely weakened in recent years.


Syrian army units have begun withdrawing from Dera'a, the city where protests began in March demanding more freedoms. President Bashar al-Assad, facing the most serious challenge to his 11-year rule, ordered the army 10 days ago to enter Dera'a. Despite the pullout, Syrian soldiers continue to arrest hundreds of people across the country in an attempt to put down a six-week-old uprising. Rights groups say the army, security forces and gunmen loyal to President al-Assad have killed at least 560 civilians since the protests erupted in Dera'a on March 18. Officials give a much lower death toll and say half those killed have been soldiers or police.


U.S. President Barack Obama visited the site of the World Trade Centre in New York on Thursday and paid tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. The visit was prompted by the killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Ladin by the U.S. military last Monday. The president also laid a wreath at the foot of the Survivor Tree, which was damaged in the attack but was salvaged from the rubble. Mr. Obama also visited a fire station that lost 14 firefighters during the attack. He was accompanied by elected officials from the New York area.


China says other countries should stop commenting on the detention of prominent artist Ai Weiwei. The statement was made after Austria this week joined growing international calls for his release. On Tuesday, Austria said it had summoned China's ambassador to Vienna to protest the detention of the internationally known artist, who was taken into custody as he tried to board a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong last month. The Chinese government has said Ai is detained on suspicion of economic crimes but has provided no evidence, details or access to the accused. China is under growing pressure to free Mr. Ai, who has angered authorities with his involvement in a number of sensitive activist campaigns and his criticism of the ruling Communist Party.


Two more presidential candidates in Belarus were on trial in Minsk on Thursday. They are Vladimir Neklyayev, the leader of the Tell The Truth movement, and Vitaly Rymashevsky of the Belarussian Christian Democratic Party. They were arrested on Dec. 19 during the mass protest against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. They and four other activists are accused of organizing action that violated public order, a charge that carries a maximum of three years in prison. Two other presidential candidates will go on trial on May 11. Nine such candidates altogether are to be tried. The U.S. and EU have imposed sanctions on Belarus because of the crackdown on the opposition. There's a travel ban on him and 150 of his associates.


The consortium building the North Stream natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany says the first of two pipelines will start pumping gas by the end of the year. The consortium says Europe will soon have the security of being connected to some of the world's largest gas reserves in Russia. The 1,224-kilometre pipeline lies under the Baltic Sea. The rationale for building North Stream is to avoid a repetition of supply disruptions caused by price disputes between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The consortium members are Gazprom, two German firms, and a French and Dutch company.



The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that opposition to the proposed merger between the Toronto Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange Group PLC. According to The Globe, banks opposed to the transaction are discussing a counterbid for TMX with several of Canada's biggest pension funds, including the Canada Pension Fund Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. When the merger was proposed in February, The Toronto Dominion Bank, National Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada publicly announced their opposition on the grounds the merger would be bad for Canada. The Globe's unnamed sources say an approach is being considered for a counterbid led by Alpha Group, the TMX's biggest rival. All of the country's biggest banks and CPPIB are Alpha shareholders. The newspaper notes that an Alpha-TMX merger could raise competitivity concerns because together they would control 90 per cent of stock trading in Canada.


Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin reports that its first-quarter profits shrank by 12 per cent, mostly because of events in Libya. Net income dropped to $73.9 million, compared with $84.1 million in the previous first quarter. SNC-Lavalin had to evacuate employees from Libya after mass protests and armed uprisings against the government of Libyan leader Moammar Ghadaffi started. The company was building a prison, a water pipeline and an airport in the city of Benghazi. SNC-Lavalin says that all other segments of its business showed gains.


TSX on Thursday: 13,455, -156. Dollar: US$1.05. euro: $1.37. Oil: $98.31 -$10.93.



British Columbia on Saturday: rain, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon: cloud. Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: mix cloud snow. Whitehorse 9, Yellowknife 10, Iqaluit 0. Prairies: rain. Edmonton, Regina 16, Winnipeg 19. Ontario, Quebec: rain. Toronto 10, Ottawa 17, Montreal 14. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton, Charlottetown 11, Halifax 10, St. John's 3.

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