Monday, May 9, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 8 May 2011
Canadian International Sports Weather


The Taliban are threatening to try a Canadian man for spying unless Canada's government pays a ransom. Colin Rutherford is a 26-year-old man from Toronto who was captured in Ghazni in central Afghanistan two months ago. Canada's foreign affairs department describes him only as a tourist. A Taliban spokesman says that documents on the man indicated that he was spying on Taliban activities. The Taliban on Sunday released a video of their captive, showing him calmly answering questions. The man says that he was in Afghanistan because of his strong interest in its history. The Taliban's ransom demand is unclear. Canadian officials in Kabul have referred all questions about the man and the video to foreign affairs officials in Ottawa. Kidnapping has become a lucrative business in Afghanistan. Canada's 2,800 soldiers in Afghanistan are scheduled to end their military mission in the country later this year, but some soldiers will remain to train Afghan forces.


The Canadian woman who survived for seven weeks alone in the mountains of Nevada spent Mother's Day with her family. Rita Chretien was found by hunters two days ago. She is recuperating from her ordeal in a hospital in Idaho where family members joined her from British Columbia. Doctors say that she is doing well and managed to eat a small meal. Mrs. Chretien and her husband, Albert, were travelling to Las Vegas last month when their van became stuck on a remote forest road. Her husband left to get aid but never returned. Mrs. Chretien survived on melted snow and some small snacks. The search continues for her husband, but there's faint hope that he will be found alive.


After a week of intermittent rains in Quebec, Sunday was generally sunny, which brought relief to people trying to prevent flood waters from inundating their homes along the Richelieu River. About three thousand homes had to be evacuated earlier because of flooding. Police are surveying the structures in an attempt to determine when and if residents could return. Some flood waters have begun to recede, but water levels on the Richelieu River remain high. Nearly 800 Canadian soldiers are aiding the relief operation, laying nearly 50,000 sand bags and offering emergency aid. The Quebec government has given CDN$1.1 million to assist flood victims. The Canadian Red Cross has created an aid fund. Flooding also continued in Canada's prairie province of Manitoba, where water was rising on the Assiniboine River at a faster rate than initially predicted.


Former Canadian provincial premiers were among some 600 people who attended a memorial for Saskatchewan's former premier, Allan Blakeney, on Saturday. Mr. Blakeney died of cancer last month at the age of 85. Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed called Mr. Blakeney one of the most outstanding statesman of modern Canada. Others at the memorial were federal New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, former Saskatchewan premiers Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert, and former Ontario premiers Bob Rae and Bill Davis.


Thousands of people demonstrated outside the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Saturday to call for the legalization of marijuana. Marijuana is an illegal commodity in Canada, but it can be prescribed by doctors for medical reasons. The demonstration was organized by Matt Mernagh, who has criticized Canada's laws. He says that few doctors actually sign prescriptions to use marijuana. Mr. Mernagh recently won a court battle to be able to grow marijuana in Ontario.



Egypt's cabinet met on Sunday for crisis talks after violent clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo killed twelve people and injured more than 200 others. A church was also set on fire. The clashes occurred on Saturday in the working-class neighbourhood of Imbaba. The two camps clashed after Muslims attacked the Coptic Saint Mena church to free a Christian woman who they alleged was being held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf called the cabinet to discuss what he called the regrettable events in Imbaba. Both Christians and Muslims in Imbaba have criticized the interim military government for failing to provide adequate security to prevent violence. Close to 190 people were detained overnight in connection with the clashes. The government plans to try all of them at a military trial.


NATO air strikes destroyed a Libyan government weapons depot on Sunday. The depot was near the town of Zintan, which is under the control of anti-government rebels. Heavy fighting was also reported in the western town of Misrata. On Saturday, rebels say that 11 of their members were killed and another 35 were wounded in fighting in the same region.


Syrian forces are reported in the southern town of Tafas near the city of Deraa. Deraa has been the centre of mass anti-government protests. On Friday, thousands of people prevented from entering Deraa gathered instead in Tafas. They demanded the departure of President Bashar al-Assad. But the arrival of tanks in Tafas is stopping further demonstrations. Residents said that soldiers fired shots and broke into homes to make arrests. Human rights groups say that the government's crackdown on demonstrators in the past month has killed more than 580 people.


As calls continue for political reforms in Bahrain, the king has ordered emergency law to be lifted as of June the first. The order came on the same day that 21 Shiites were put on trial for planning to overthrow the Sunni monarchy. Among those charged are Hassan Mushaima, the leader of Al Haq movement, and some of its senior members including Abdul Jalil al-Sangaece. They are accused of plotting with the help of an Iranian-backed terrorist group. Fourteen of those charged are in custody. The others are being tried in absentia. They are facing the same special security court operating under martial law that sentenced four people to death last month for killing two policemen. Opposition figures were inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt to seek reform in Bahrain, where the Sunni monarchy has ruled for some 200 years.


As many as ten thousand delegates are expected to attend an international conference on the world's poorest countries that begins on Monday in Istanbul. Delegates will seek ways to reduce poverty and hunger by coordinating efforts with wealthy nations. The host country, Turkey, is largely paying the costs of bringing delegates from 48 poor nations to the conference. In addition to government representatives, delegates will come from aid organizations, universities and the business world. The conference organizers propose that least-developed countries offer a high potential for investment despite their risks of civil unrest and disease. Thirty-three of the least-developed countries are in Africa, 14 are in Asia and only one is in the Americas---Haiti. Only three countries have developed sufficiently to be removed from the list in the decades since the United Nations introduced the category---Botswana, Cape

Verde and Maldives. The last such conference was hosted by the European Union in Brussels in 2001.


U.S. President Barack Obama says that people in Pakistan likely knew about Osama bin Laden's activity in Abbotabad. Speaking in an interview on the television program Sixty Minutes, Mr. Obama said that bin Laden likely had a local support network. But Mr. Obama could not say who was in the network or how it operated. He added that Pakistan's government has what he called a profound interest in uncovering bin Laden's support system. Bin Laden was killed last week in a strike by U.S. commandos on his compound. On Sunday, explosions were heard at the compound, leading to speculation that Pakistan's government plans to destroy the buildings so that they will not serve as a shrine for al-Qaeda supporters.


For a fourth day, people in Tunisia demonstrated in the capital on Sunday to express their anger over the slow pace of democratic reforms. Scores of youths marching near a main street in Tunis were met by riot police who fired teargas to disperse the crowd. Tension is growing as the date approaches in July for the election of an assembly that will draw up a new constitution. But protesters fear that the interim administration will abandon its commitment to democracy. Tunisia was the first Arab country to stage protests for democracy earlier this year. The protests forced the country's long-time ruler, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee.


The leaders of Thailand and Cambodia are having little success in resolving their border dispute at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The two-day summit is being held in Jakarta. Indonesia's president is mediating talks on the two countries' dispute. But neither leader is showing willingness to compromise. The border dispute is preventing ASEAN from moving ahead with plans to create an integrated regional economic zone. ASEAN leaders also discussed Burma's bid to assume the Association's rotating chair in 2014. Despite doubts about Burma's human rights record, ASEAN leaders appeared ready to accept the bid. In a draft statement, ASEAN leaders declared their concern about security in the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest commercial sea lanes. Four ASEAN nations - Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam - expressed concern that China would use its military might to take control of the South China Sea, where there are valuable oil-rich regions around the Spratly islands. ASEAN members agreed to work to compile guidelines that would prevent armed conflicts in the region.


Afghan forces have fought with Taliban militants around Kandahar for a second day. In the past 24 hours, at least 18 people were killed, including 14 militants. Nearly 50 other people were wounded. Some attacks involved militants wearing suicide vests. Militants also fired rocket-propelled grenades at targets that included the governor's office, police stations and the local intelligence headquarters. The Taliban announced the start of its annual Spring offensive last week. After the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last week, the Taliban warned that attacks would increase.


President Rafael Correa has claimed victory in Ecuador's referendum on judicial and media reforms. Speaking soon after polls closed on Saturday, Mr. Correa called the results of the referendum a triumph for the people. Among the referendum's ten questions were two controversial proposals that set the foundations for a new justice system. The new system gives Mr. Correa more direct control over appointments. Mr. Correa argued that he needs to remove corrupt judges to fight crime. But his political rivals say that he has an autocratic streak and could use the reforms to persecute opponents. Mr. Correa has been president since 2007. His referendum victory puts him in a good position for a re-election bid in 2013.


A new cabinet was sworn in on Sunday in Kuwait. The previous cabinet quit last month to prevent parliament from questioning three ministers belonging to Kuwai's ruling al-Sabah family. The government is facing public calls for economic and political reforms. The new cabinet has six new members among the 16 ministers. Key posts such as interior and foreign minister were given to al-Sabah family members. A veteran politician, Mohammad al-Besairi, was named to head the important Oil Ministry.


After a three-month lapse, Ivory Coast has resumed its exports of cocoa beans. Workers were seen loading beans onto a ship. Another ship is expected later. Nearly half a million tonnes of cocoa were held at the country's ports as a result of a conflict between rival political parties. The violence eased earlier this month after former president Laurent Gbagbo was arrested. He had refused to step down after losing the election in November. Last week exporters resolved a dispute with President Alassane Ouattara's government over customs payments.




The Toronto Blue Jays lost to Detroit on Sunday, 5-2. On Saturday Toronto lost to Detroit, 9-0 as Justin Verlander's threw the second no-hitter of his career and the second in five days in Major League Baseball.



Here is Canada's weather on Monday, May 9. British Columbia will be sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 15 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: increasing cloudiness. Whitehorse, ten. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 13. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus five. Alberta: mainly cloudy. Edmonton, 16. Saskatchewan: showers. Regina, 13. Manitoba: overcast. Winnipeg, 15. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: 17. Ottawa, 18. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 15. New Brunswick: showers. Fredericton, nine. Nova Scotia: showers. Halifax, ten. Prince Edward Island: showers. Charlottetown, nine. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, nine.

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