Thursday, May 12, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 11 May 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty visited Washington on Wednesday and his main subject was both countries' budgets. In a question-and-answer session at the Council of the Americas, he warned American lawmakers that they must get the U.S. national debt of $14 trillion under control to avert any new international financial crises. Mr. Flaherty says the Canadian government has a plan to return to balanced budgets by controlling debt and deficits and that it will implement it now that the recession is past. The minister says he has arranged meetings with U.S. legislators to discuss the situation. One of them is Paul Ryan, the Republican Party budget committee chairman. His deep cost-cutting proposals have alarmed many Americans. The Obama administration and the Congress are trying to reach agreement on reducing the annual $1.5 trillion budget shortfall. Lawmakers musty pass legislation to raise the country's debt ceiling by this summer or the federal government will default on its loans.


Federal Opposition Leader Jack Layton is calling on the provinces to join his New Democratic Party in pushing the Conservative government to strengthen Canadian pensions. Mr. Layton directed his message to the premiers and territorial leaders while speaking at the Canadian Labour Congress Convention in Vancouver. The NDP favours an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan so that benefits eventually double. The Conservatives prefer a private-sector solution that would relax rules for financial institutions, allowing them to offer more options at affordable rates, especially to people who are not currently covered by workplace pensions. It was Mr. Layton's first public speech since the NDP won official opposition status in the federal parliament for the first time in the party's history.


Flood officials in Manitoba says they're going to start releasing water from the Assiniboine River on Thursday morning to relieve pressure on dikes. However, they say the deliberate breaching of a dike near Portage la Prairie in the southwest of the province will be a last resort and won't be carried out unless there's no alternative. At least 150 homes will be affected. Their residents have already left. Other residents have been warned to stay on high alert for possible evacuation.


Gasoline prices continue to rise across Canada. The price increased by 2.5 cents a litre Wednesday across the province of Ontario and in the cities of Montreal, Quebec City and Vancouver. The price increased Tuesday by 6.5 cents in the same places. The average price of regular in Montreal now stands at just under $1.47 a litre, and just over $1.41 in Toronto.


The Al-Jazeera television network says Syria has sent one of its journalists who is Canadian to Iran. Dorothy Parvaz was arrested when she arrived in Syria on April 29. She has Canadian, American and Iranian citizenship. Syria confirmed last week that Miss Parvez had been detained. Al-Jazeera now says she's being held in Teheran. The network says it has called on the Iranians to release its employee immediately. Al-Jazeera reporters had been allowed to stay in Syria as other reporters were expelled, but two weeks ago the station said it was scaling back its Syrian operations, citing harassment by security forces.


A public opinion survey shows that most Canadians trust the mainstream news media far more for news and information than other sources. The poll by the Canadian Media Research Consortium says 90 per cent of those asked consider information gained from newspapers, television, radio and online news sites to be reliable. Only 26 per cent felt the same way about information gleaned from social networks. Most respondents said tht bloggers should leave news gathering to professional journalists. Only four per cent were willing to pay for news online.


A coroner in the Canadian province of Quebec is calling for an overnight driving curfew for motorists between the ages of 16 and 24. Yves Garneau made the call after his investigation into an accident that killed four Quebecers between the ages of 17 and 22 last October. Mr. Garneau wants the curfew to be imposed between midnight and 5 am, with possible exceptions for work and study purposes. In the crash investigation, toxicology tests revealed the driver's blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal amount. Police say the driver was going 140 kilometres an hour in a 50-kilometre zone. Mr. Garneau says Quebecers between 16 and 24 are responsible for one out of every two speeding incidents in the province. They also receive 34 per cent of fines for excessive speeding and are involved in one-quarter of accidents where injuries occur.



There's a report that the Syrian military is firing tank rounds into a neighbourhood in Syria's third-biggest city, Homs. A human rights campaigner told the Reuters news agency that the neighbourhood is shaking with the sound of the rounds and heavy machinegun fire. The report couldn't be independently confirmed because Syria has expelled most foreign journalists. Other activists have told the agency that the authorities have arrested Mazen Adi of the opposition People's Democratic Party. Meanwhile at the UN, Syria has withdrawn its highly contested candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Kuwait will take Syria's place in the Asian group of nations nominated for seats on the Council next year. France, Britain, the U.S. and other Western nations had lobbied against the nomination, particularly since the current political crackdown began.


Political violence continues in Yemen, with the security forces killing at least four demonstrators in three cities. Forces fired on a crowd of several tens of thousands in the capital Sana'a, wounding dozens. In the southeastern city of Taiz, snipers killed two protesters and dozens of others were injured by gunfire, tear gas and bat-wielding plainsclothes security men. A protester was killed in the Red Sea port of Hudaida when security forces opened fire on a crowd of marchers trying to force their way into a government building. The demonstrators have become exasperated by the stalled negotiations to end the 37-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.


Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas is under heavy international pressure to retain his prime minister in a soon to be formed Palestinian unity government. The officials say Mr. Abbas wants to keep Western-backed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the post but that he has not made a final decision because of opposition by Hamas and his own Fatah movements. Donor nations have made clear they want Mr. Fayyad, a U.S.-educated economist and political independent, to remain in the job. They say Mr. Abbas realizes Mr. Fayyad is the best hope for the coalition government to win international recognition. Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last week.


The U.S. says it wants an agreement with China concerning the use of space. Gregory Schulte, a deputy assistant secretary of defence, says the U.S. has told China that Washington is worried that a misunderstanding could lead to an inadvertent escalation that wouldn't be in either country's best interests. Mr. Schulte says the U.S. wants an agreement on what responsible behaviour would look like. In 2007, China caused surprise by becoming the third country to shoot down one of its own satellites in space. The strike caused massive debris. Mr. Schulte says the U.S. issued 700 warnings in the past year alone that satellites, including China's, could collide with the junk from the destroyed satellite.


Venezuela's government says it has begun rationing electricity across most of the country because of recurring power outages. The energy ministry says rationing is affecting 19 of Venezuela's 23 states. He says power will be shut off for three hours every day to help stabilize the system. The plan announced Tuesday comes a day after blackouts hit nearly half of Venezuela. Officials blamed failures of transmission lines. But critics claim the government has not invested enough in new electricity projects to keep up with growing demand.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian government believes the U.S. had a right to kill terrorist Osama bin Laden and the fact that he was unarmed at the time of last week's commando raid doesn't change that. Mr. Lavrov recalled that the UN Security Council approved a resolution recognizing the right of the U.S. to defend itself after the Sept. 11, adding that no one doubts that bin Laden was behind them and a series of other terrorist attacks. After the Sept. 11 assaults, Russia linked al-Qaeda to attacks against Russian forces in the North Caucasus. In 2006, the Russian parliament authorized legislation authorizing military strikes against terrorists hiding abroad.



A Canadian government agency could collect over $1 billion when the world's largest software company, Microsoft, purchases the Internet telephone service Skype. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board owns about 12 per cent of Skype and has an indirect stake through other investments as well. Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5-billion.


Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. says it expects a decision on its proposal to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia to convey oil to Asian markets. The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway line would stretch 1,172 kilometres from Bruderheim, AB, to the port of Kitimat, BC. Last week, the National Energy Board set hearing dates in January and June of next year for the public to weigh in on the plan. Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel says he expects a regulatory decision in early 2013. The pipeline is meant to allow Canadian oil to reach-oil hungry Asia, while at the same time lessening the reliance of Canadian producers on the U.S. market. Enbridge has offered a 10-per stake in the project to First Nations groups the lands of which the pipeline would cross. Several have already rejected the idea.


TSX on Wednesday: 13,419 - 223. Dollar: US$1.04. euro: $1.36. Oil: $98.99 - $4.89.




At the International Ice Hockey Federation championship in Slovakia, Canada had the day off Wednesday before its quarter-final game against Russia Thursday.



British Columbia on Thursday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C13 Vancouver. Yukon: rain. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse 6, Yellowknife 18, Iqaluit -6. Alberta: rain. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 23, Regina 15, Winnipeg 12. Ontario: rain south, sun north. Quebec: sun. Toronto 19, Ottawa 22, Montreal 20. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 14, Halifax 8, Charlottetown 8, St. John's 6.

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