Sunday, June 12, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

THOUSANDS ARRIVE FOR QUEBEC FLOOD CLEANUP


More than 2,000 volunteers arrived in southern Quebec on Saturday to begin a massive cleanup operation following the area's worst flooding in several decades. Their arrival by bus from other regions of Quebec and outside the province is the first of two weekend efforts aimed at helping victims of the floods. Thousands of homes and businesses along the Richelieu River south of Montreal were damaged. As many as half a million sandbags need to be removed as well as the debris left behind by the flood. Many of the one thousand residents who were forced out of their homes have still not been able to return. Premier Jean Charest toured the region again on Saturday and promised to reevaluate the province's compensation package for flood victims.

VIGOROUS DEBATE AT CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONVENTION


Some vigorous debate was heard on Saturday among some 2,300 delegates at the annual convention of Canada's governing Conservative Party. The three-day convention began in Ottawa the day before. Delegates voted on a proposal to change the way that the party leader is chosen. Jason Kenney and Scott Reid proposed to give bigger influence to ridings with more members. But Peter MacKay led a movement against the proposal to maintain the system whereby all ridings have an equal voice. Mr. MacKay's side eventually won. But it's likely that the same issue will arise at a future Conservative Party convention.

AIR CANADA FACING STRIKE


Negotiators for Air Canada--Canada's largest airline--and its 38-hundred customer service and sales staff are at the bargaining table under a strike threat. The union representing the workers issued 72-hour strike notice on Friday, meaning job action can begin at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning. The Canadian Auto Workers, which represents the employees, says it hopes to reach a deal and head off a strike. Air Canada says if there is a strike, it has a contingency plan to continue operating at full schedule and minimize the impact on customers.

POSTAL WORKERS TO INCREASE STRIKE ACTION


Canadian postal workers will increase their strike action next week. They will deliver mail to urban centres next week for only three days instead of five. For the past week, the workers had been holding rotating temporary strikes in selected cities. The rolling strike on Saturday targetted Red Deer, Alberta. Contract negotations with Canada Post have shown no progress, leading workers to try harsher tactics. Among other demands, the workers are seeking higher wages and new regulations governing sick leave and repetitive strain injuries. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has sent a plea to workers to end their strikes.

HIGH COURT RULES ON IMMIGRANT SPONSORS


Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that Canadians must be held financially responsible for sponsoring immigrants who later receive Canadian government welfare payments. The case involved an appeal by eight families in Ontario. The families had sponsored relatives from abroad who later received welfare payments. A court in Ontario ruled earlier that provincial governments could decide on a case-by-case basis whether to provide welfare to sponsored immigrants. But the Supreme Court over-ruled the decision, saying that sponsors must repay any welfare money received by their immigrant relatives. Provincial and federal governments in Canada give welfare payments to people who show special financial need.

JET FIGHTER CRASHES


A Canadian jet fighter from Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta just missed hitting a rural home when it crashed during a training run on Friday. The two pilots ejected and weren't seriously hurt. No one on the ground was hurt either, but the flaming wreckage ended up just a few dozen metres from a farmer's home. One of the pilots said everything was going fine until they heard a loud bang and then lost power. Their British built CT-155 Hawk went down about two kilometres from the base runway. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

JOBLESS RATE FALLS


Canada's unemployment rate fell in May to its lowest level since January 2009, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.4 per cent. Statistics Canada says 22,300 new jobs were created last month. The lower jobless rate was also due to the fact that fewer Canadians were seeking work. The number of new jobs in May was only about one-third as many as were created in the previous month, apparently showing that the economy is beginning to slow down after six months of solid growth.

CANADA TO PULL OUT OF NATO PROGRAM


Canada's military will soon announce its withdrawal from a NATO air surveillance program as part of cost-cutting measures. The Canadian government is looking at ways to eliminate a $36.2 billion budget deficit. Canada's withdrawal from the NATO Airborne Warning And Control System, or AWACS, comes as the Canadian government look to extend its participation in the Libya mission to September. The AWACS is widely used by the alliance in Afghanistan and Libya to monitor air space and guide fighter jets to their targets.


PAKISTAN


Two apparently coordinated explosions killed at least 32 people in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday. Nearly 100 others were injured. The explosions occurred within minutes of each other just after midnight in an area of political offices and army housing. The second explosion was more deadly, injuring many people who had arrived to investigate the first blast. Initial reports say that the second blast was caused by explosives placed in a vehicle and detonated by remote control. Peshawar has been repeatedly hit by bombings over the past few years.

SOMALIA


A major leader of al-Qaeda has been killed in a shootout in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Fazul Abdullah Muhammad is thought to have led al-Qaeda in eastern Africa. He was the suspected mastermind behind bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It's also thought that he planned the truck bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that killed 224 people in 1998. He was Africa's most wanted man with a bounty of five million dollars on his head. Somalia's Transitional Federal Government forces were credited in killing Fazul. Fazul was one of two men killed at a roadblock on Tuesday night after taking a wrong turn.

SYRIA


The US government has toughened it stance on Syria, calling for a halt to a nearly three-month crackdown on democracy protests, as regime forces backed by helicopter gunships killed at least 25 demonstrators. The deaths came as accounts began to emerge from some of the thousands of refugees who fled to Turkey of the brutality of the crackdown at the latest flashpoint in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur. The White House statement contained a clear sign of growing US impatience over Syria after top officials had repeatedly called for President Bashar al-Assad to embrace reform or step aside -- but stopped short of demanding his departure.On Saturday, mourners were expected to bury those killed, a day after security forces shot dead at least 25 protesters who poured on to the streets of towns and cities across the country following the weekly Muslim main prayers. Fridays have become a rallying point in the revolt against Mr. Assad's regime. Rights groups saythe pro-democracy protests that erupted in mid-March have killed more than 1,200 civilians. Meanwhile, Syrian army deserters who fled to Turkey have told of atrocities committed by soldiers in suppressing anti-government protests, under threat of execution if they disobeyed orders. Four conscripts interviewed by the Agence France Presse recounted instances of rape and wanton murder.

JAPAN


Thousands of people marched Saturday in Tokyo to denounce nuclear power. The crowd banged drums and carried banners calling for all nuclear plants to be closed. The protest comes exactly three months after northeastern Japan was rocked by a major earthquake and tsunami. The twin disasters triggered a major crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

INDIA


Fears about media freedom were raised in India on Saturday after four gunmen killed a well-known crime reporter. Jyotirmoy Dey was killed at his home in Mumbai. Mr. Dey led a team of investigative reporters at the Mid Day newspaper. He published books about organized crime gangs in the city. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said that the murder was a challenge to freedom of the press.

ISRAEL


For the first time in a decade, Israel's defence minister is traveling to China. Ehud Barak will arrive sometime this weekend. He will meet Chinese National Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and other senior officials. They'll discuss regional issues, the Iranian threat, the mideast peace process and terrorism. Israel had planned to sell four of its advanced surveillance planes to China in 2000, but the deal was abandoned under pressure from the United States.

SOUTH AFRICA


South Africans on Saturday mourned a woman celebrated for her role in the fight against apartheid, and for her nurturing of a new generation of leaders. Crowds singing hymns and songs from the anti-apartheid era began gathering hours before Albertina Sisulu's funeral service at a 40,000 seat football stadium in Soweto. The service followed a week of national mourning. Sisulu collapsed and died at her Johannesburg home earlier this week at the age of 92.

CUBA


Dissident Guillermo Farinas concluded the first week of his latest hunger strike -- his 24th in 15 years -- on Friday and was in deteriorating health, but declined to be hospitalized. Mr. Farinas explained his position to a team of seven doctors who visited him on Thursday at his home to warn him that he needed medical treatment, according to his mother, Alicia Hernandez. The dissident blog yohandry.com said Mr. Farinas was hoping his hunger strike would help create "the greatest political cost to the government" and "score points for the real jackpot, the million-dollar Nobel Peace Prize." Last year, Mr. Farinas staged a 135-day hunger strike designed to secure the release of Cuban political prisoners. Meanwhile in Miami, the mother of Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata, who died in Cuba on February 23, 2010 on the 85th day of his hunger strike, said Cubans were "losing their fear" of opposing the regime. Cuban authorities gave Zapato's family permission to leave the country in November, but Ms.Tamayo refused to emigrate until the remains of her son had been exhumed in Banes, some 840 kilometers east of Havana.She arrived in Miami on Thursday bearing Zapato's ashes in a wooden box covered with a Cuban flag. Zapato's death at the age of 42 drew global attention to the plight of political dissidents in Cuba.

BRAZIL


President Dilma Rousseff continued her cabinet reshuffle on Friday, appointing the second woman this week to a key post in her administration. Ms. Rousseff named fisheries minister Ideli Salvatti, 59, as her new Head of Institutional Relations. On Tuesday, Ms. Rousseff, in the first major scandal of her administration, was forced to remove chief of staff Antonio Palocci for his alleged involvement in an influence-peddling scheme. Mr. Palocci was replaced by Gleisi Hoffmann. Both Ms Hoffmann and Ms. Salvatti are members of Ms. Rousseff's Workers Party, prompting an editorial writer for the daily O Globo to note that Ms. Rousseff had surrounded herself with women in her own image whom he called "Amazons of the PT."

IRAQ


A Sunni Arab family of five was gunned down in their home in the early hours of Saturday morning north of Baghdad. It was unclear why the family were targeted in the attack in the village of Al-Jalam, near the town of Al-Dour in Salaheddin province. Mainly Sunni Arab Salaheddin province was a key battleground in the insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003 that overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime. Violence has fallen sharply across Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, although attacks remain common. According to official figures, a total of 177 Iraqis were killed as a result of violence in May.

AFGHANISTAN


A series of bombs and explosions killed 20 people in Afghanistan's southern and eastern flashpoints on Saturday. Among them were at least eight children and four women. In the deadliest attack, a vehicle hit a mine in Arghandab district of the southern province of Kandahar, one of the main battlegrounds in the nearly 10-year Taliban-led insurgency against the Kabul government and NATO troops. Mines and crudely made bombs planted on the side of the road are trademark tactics of the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents fighting to bring down the Western-backed government and evict US-led foreign troops.

MIDDLE EAST


Israeli police said Saturday they had carried out further arrests of stone-throwing Palestinian youths at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. On Friday, police briefly entered the mosque compound to disperse Palestinian youths by firing tear gas before arresting three of them suspected of throwing stones. The mosque compound contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. It is also the holiest site in Judaism because it was the location of the Second Temple, razed by the Romans in 70 AD.

KUWAIT


Hundreds of youths rallied late Friday for the ouster of the oil-rich Gulf state's prime minister and for democratic reforms to resolve an ongoing political crisis. Protesting for the fourth straight week, the youths also called for the removal of deputy premier Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah who local media reported has submitted his resignation. Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Sheikh Ahmad, both senior members of the ruling family, have allegedly been engaged in a power struggle that became public in a session of parliament on May 31.

LIBYA


Turkey says it has offered Moamer Gadhafi guarantees to leave Libya but has yet to receive a reply. The announcement came as rebels reported pro-Gadhafi forces had killed 20 people in a fierce assault on the city of Misrata. Meanwhile, fresh NATO-led strikes on Friday hit Tripoli, where Colonel Gadhafi has his residence. The strikes came as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned the air war on Col. Gadhafi's forces could be in peril because of military shortcomings. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government had offered exit "guarantees" to Col. Gadhafi, whom rebels have been trying to oust since February following a bloody crackdown on pro-reform protests. Over the past two days, the Libyan capital has been subjected to the most intense NATO air raids since the international military campaign was launched on March 19 under a UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians. In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special envoy, Mikhail Margelov, said he would visit Tripoli to try to find a solution to the conflict, having met the opposition in their Benghazi stronghold. In Italy, three boats carrying 667 African refugees from Libya including many women and children arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday. Italian officials said more are on the way. Lampedusa has seen thousands of arrivals of migrants and refugees mainly from Tunisia and Libya this year amid unrest in north Africa. Most of the arrivals from Libya are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa.

YEMEN


A general who has sided with anti-regime protests said in an interview published Saturday that Yemen will be safer without embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in its fight against Al-Qaeda. General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar accused the Yemeni president, who is being treated in the Saudi capital for bomb blast wounds, of nurturing the jihadist network in a ploy to "blackmail" foreign countries. Mr. Saleh has long been considered a key ally in Washington's war on Al-Qaeda, as many of its militants have regrouped in lawless regions of the impoverished country under the banner of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. General Ahmar, whose forces have been guarding anti-regime protesters camped out in a Sanaa square since February, accused Mr. Saleh and members of his family of nourishing "terrorist groups." The state of Mr. Saleh's health was described as "bad" on Saturday by an informed source in Riyadh. Meanwhile, Yemen's defence ministry said ten Yemeni soldiers and 21 suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed in clashes in south Yemen on Saturday.


SPORTS


 

AUTO RACING

Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull broke the track speed record in practice at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Saturday. His time on the 4.36-kilometre road course was one minute 13.622 seconds. He will start in pole position in the race on Sunday. Fernando Alonso will be second, and Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa and Australian Mark Webber in the other Red Bull will line up on the second row.

TENNIS

Playing two matches in one day on Saturday, Canadian Daniel Nestor and partner Max Mirnyi from Belarus were defeated by Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (8-6), 10-8 in the semifinals at the Queen's Club. Weather delays forced Nestor and Mirnyi to play their quarter-final match earlier in the day, beating Swede Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau of Romania in three sets.

TRIATHLON

Canadian Kyle Jones won his third consecutive victory on Saturday, winning the ITU Triathlon Premium Asian Cup in Weihai, China. His compatriot Brent McMahon was third.

 

DIVING

Canadian Emilie Heymans was fourth on the women's three-metre springboard on Saturday at the Italian Grand Prix diving competition. Xin Wang of China won the gold medal, Francesca Dallape of Italy was second and Joele Patrick of Australia was third.

 

BASEBALL

The Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, 16-4.


WEATHER


Here is Canada's weather on Sunday, June 12. British Columbia will have sunny periods. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 18 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, 18. Northwest Territories: variable cloudiness. Yellowknife, 15. Nunavut: overcast. Iqaluit, four. Alberta: mainly cloudy. Edmonton, 20. Saskatchewan: showers. Regina, 23. Manitoba: overcast. Winnipeg, 19. Ontario: variable cloudiness. Toronto: 19. Ottawa, 22. Quebec: a few showers. Montreal, 20. New Brunswick: rain. Fredericton, 14. Nova Scotia: overcast. Halifax, 14. Prince Edward Island: increasing cloudiness. Charlottetown, 15. Newfoundland: cloudy. St. John's, nine.