Wednesday, May 18, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 17 May 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Wildfires raging in northern Alberta have begun seriously to affect oil production in the region. One-hundred-and-fifteen wildfires are now blazing in the western Canadian province, 36 being considered out of control. The worst damage is reported in the Lesser Slave Lake region in the north. During the weekend, fire destroyed 40 per cent of the town of Slave Lake, forcing the evacuation of most of its 10,000 residents. The fires have caused the closure of the southern stretch of the Plains All American Pipeline LP's Rainbow pipeline, the key line for local producers. Cenevous Energy Inc. said Tuesday it is reducing production at its 22,000-barrel-a-day Pelican Lake heavy oil field because of the pipeline shutdown. The remaining production is being stored but will have to be stopped unless the line reopens. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Canada's biggest independent oil producer, says it will have to halt production in the Pelican Lake region. Canadian Natural had to evacuate 1,300 workers on Monday from camps near its Horizon oilsands project when a blaze approached to within 150 metres.


In the province of Manitoba, it's the fourth day of a controlled flood along the Assiniboine River near Portage la Prairie. So far the flow of water has been kept below what officials originally expected. That has raised questions among the 150 families living in the area about whether crews really had to cut a hole in the river's dike. The government had said that breaching the dike would prevent worse flooding of some 850 homes and businesses further downstream. Residents are asking the government to speed up the release of details regarding compensation. The government has said it will set up a special program for everyone affected by the disaster.


The Canadian nuclear energy firm Bruce Power Inc. says it has withdrawn a request to U.S. regulators to ship scrapped steam boilers by boat on three of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Bruce says it wants to consult further with opponents of the plan. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has given permission for the plan, saying there would be little if any danger to human health or the environment. But environmental groups, native tribes and local officials in both countries have argued the opposite. Bruce has taken out of service 32 giant boilers at its nuclear power plant 200 kilometres northwest of Toronto. The company wants to ship them to Sweden for recycling. Bruce says the boilers would be welded shut to prevent leaks of radioactive material.


The head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service says Canada will start providing the U.S. with data from 22 radar feeds starting in November. Alan Bersin told a Senate subcommittee that is studying border security that Canada has long provided similar information through the North American Aerospace Defence Command. The U.S. had asked for the Canadian radar data. Mr. Bersin says the data will be used not only to catch drug smugglers who use small, low-flying aircraft but anyone entering the U.S. illegally.


The opposition New Democratic Party has unveiled a four-member culture caucus aimed at boosting federal support for the country's multi-billion-dollar arts industry. Its members are four NDP Members of Parliament who have backgrounds in the arts, one of them being Pierre Nantel, a former artistic director for Le Cirque du Soleil. They say the NDP may ask the Conservative government to increase funding for the Canada Council for the Arts. The MPs also want Ottawa to introduce the "incoming averaging" system for artists which exists in Quebec. Under the system, stars who make good money when on a prosperous streak can be funded when they fall on hard times. The four MPs acknowledge they don't now know what such proposals would cost as they've only been in Ottawa for a few days, but promise to offer practical suggestions when they get their bearings. The Conservatives were punished by voters in the 2008 after they chopped funding for the arts, but in their last budget which wasn't passed the House of Commons they maintained funding for the Canada Periodical Fund, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Canada Media Fund.


A new study says that native women are three times more likely to become victims of violence than non-native women. Statistics Canada's report finds that 67,000 aboriginal women aged 15 or older said they had been the victim of one or more violent crimes in 2009, 13 per cent of all the women in that age group. Most of the crimes were committed by males acting alone.


Canada's foreign affairs department has condemned the Belarussian government of President Alexander Lukashenko for jailing political opponents who took part in a protest against his re-election last December. The department's statement also denounced the trial of the president's main rival, Andrei Sannikov, and four other opposition presidential candidates, as well as the five-year jail term handed down to Mr. Sannikov. The statement calls upon Mr. Lukashenko's government to end the ongoing harassment of civil society, the opposition and the news media. Thirty people have been convicted in the post-election trials, of whom 22 were given jail terms.



The British military reports its warplanes have attacked a training base in Tripoli used by bodyguards for Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi's inner circle. The planes also struck two intelligence centres, one used by the secret police and the other the headquarters for the country's External Security Organization. Last weekend, Britain's chief of staff, Gen. David Richards, said NATO must broaden the range of bombing targets in Libya or run the risk that Ghadafi won't be driven out of power. In another development, official Tunisian sources and Libyan rebels report that Libya's oil minister has defected to Tunisia. Shokri Ghanem is also the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation. A Tunisian government source said Mr. Chanem drove over the border by car on Saturday.


The West has warned Syria of further pressure if its crackdown on protests continues. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. and the EU are planning more steps in coming days. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé says that his country and Britain are close to persuading nine of the 15 UN Security Council members to vote for a resolution condemning Syria, but that China and Russia are threatening to veto it. In southern Syria, tanks moved into the southern city of Nawa after besieging it for three weeks. Activists have told the Reuters news agency that troops are now combing the city of 80,000 and arresting dozens of men. The southern towns of Inkhil and Jassem are also besieged. Tanks remain lin the streets of Dera'a, after the city's old quarter was shelled last week.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is asking the international community to recognize a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September and support its admission to the world body. Mr. Abbas says U.S. political pressure failed to stop Israel's settlement program in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians cannot wait indefinitely for a state of their own. He made his comments Tuesday's New York Times newspaper. They appear just three days before U.S. President Barack Obama hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Mr. Netanyahu's visit to Washington is widely seen as part of an Israeli diplomatic drive to persuade major international players to oppose the Palestinian bid. The United States appears to be against the idea of UN recognition of a Palestinian state and has urged the Palestinians and Israel not to take unilateral steps that could jeopardize a final peace settlement.


The former chief of the Rwandan army has been sentenced to 30 years in jail by the International Criminal Tribunal. Augustin Bizimungu was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in the slaughter of at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. The presiding judge said Gen. Bizimungu was responsible for the conduct of his subordinates. The indictment against him says he gave an order to "exterminate the small cockroaches" on the first day of the genocide. Bizimungu was captured in Angola in 2002.


The European Union president, Herman Van Rompuy, is calling for fairness in commerce between China and Europe. He warns that the European public could turn to protectionism if they felt China was not fair. The 27-nation European Union is China's largest export market. But European firms have been hit hard by low-cost Chinese textiles, leatherwear and other goods. European companies, along with other foreign firms, have complained of regulatory barriers hindering their ability to compete freely in China. China's currency controls, which help boost Chinese exports, are also an irritant in relations with other countries. Mr. Van Rompuy also says China's global reputation could be harmed by its negative record on human rights. However, he made no direct mention of recent cases of repression in China, including the detention of famed artist and government critic Ai Weiwei.


The BP oil giant's attempt to drill for oil in the Russia Arctic has collapsed. BP failed to meet a Monday deadline to complete a $16-billion share swap with Rosneft. The two first planned to set up a joint venture to drill for oil in the Arctic. But four Russian billionaires who held stakes in BP's own joint venture, TNK-BP, successfully blocked the move in court. The billionaires argued that BP was obliged to pursue all its Russian business through the existing partnership.



TSX on Tuesday: 13,466 + 75. Dollar: US$1.02. Euro: $1.38. Oil: $97.06 - .31.




The National Hockey League playoffs resumed Tuesday night in Boston with Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. Tampa Bay dumped the Bruins 5-2 in the opener of the best-of-seven series.



British Columbia on Wednesday: sun south, mix sun cloudnorth, high C15 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse 18, Yellowknife 14, Iqaluit -5. Alberta, Saskatchewan: rain north, sun south. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 21, Regina 22, Winnipeg 23. Ontario: rain south, sun north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 15, Ottawa, Montreal 22. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 12, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 11, St. John's 10.

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