Monday, June 20, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 19 June 2011
Canadian International Sports Weather


Little progress was reported over the weekend in negotiations between Canada Post and its locked-out postal workers. Labour minister Lisa Raitt intends to introduce back-to-work legislation this week. Last week, Canada Post locked out employees who had been staging rotating strikes since June 3. Workers are demanding better wages and other benefits. Canada Post says that profits have declined because fewer people are sending mail.


A heated debate over whether or not to keep the word 'socialist' in the New Democratic Party's constitution finally fizzled on Sunday. The party is proud of its left-wing origins, but some of the 2,800 delegates at the party's annual convention in Vancouver thought that the word 'socialist' scared potential supporters away. In the end, there was no vote on the 'socialist'debate but only a motion to move the question to the party executive. Party delegates also debated whether or not to merge with the opposition Liberal Party. Although there was strong opposition to the idea, delegates decided to remain open to a dialogue with the Liberal Party. At the end of the convention, NDP leader Jack Layton addressed the delegates in a wide-ranging speech that promoted the party's traditional platform of equality for women, human rights, and support of labour. During the weekend convention, party delegates celebrated the NDP's fiftieth anniversary, raising the name of the party's founder, Tommy Douglas, who in a nationwide opinion poll a few years ago was voted the greatest Canadian. The party also celebrated its new status as the official opposition party. In the federal election last month, the NDP won 103 of the 308 seats in Parliament.


After years of delays, new rules will take effect on Monday to give Canada's government the power to remove unsafe products from store shelves. The Consumer Product Safety Act was proclaimed into law a year ago. Its introduction was stalled as a result of Senate debates and federal elections. Under the new law, federal ministers will have the power to withdraw unsafe toys, sporting goods, cribs and other household products from store shelves. In the past, porducers and suppliers received only a request. The government will also be able to stop imports of suspected dangerous objects. The new law does not affect autos, auto parts, food or drugs, which come under other legislation. The new law is similar to laws in the United States and some other countries that deal with unsafe products.


In southeastern Saskatchewan, some homes along the Souris River are being threatened by the release of floodwaters. The danger comes after a heavy rainstorm on Friday forced provincial officials to open reservoirs to release the pressure on dams. Several dozen houses downstream from the release are in the direct path of the overflow. The Mayor of Roche Percee says the extra water is expected to converge on the village sometime in the next 48 hours. And he's telling residents they should leave.


Canadian soldiers in the Taliban's former Afghan stronghold of Zangabad have formally handed over control to American forces. Canada's main forward operating base and surrounding region southwest of Kandahar city was an insurgent haven for years until a NATO offensive last fall. A company of Canadian soldiers later built a road through the region. The company has pulled back to Kandahar Airfield, joining other Canadian units that have streamed into NATO's principal base over the last week. All Canadian combat troops are scheduled to end their mission in Afghanistan next month. Some troops will remain to serve as trainers for Afghan soldiers.


Thirty-two Canadians set off by plane from Montreal on Sunday to join a convoy of ships that is going to run a blockade to bring aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. On Monday, the Canadians will unite in Greece with others aboard a ten-ship international flotilla that is expected to set sail next week. Other participants are from Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Germany. Israel maintains a naval blockade around Gaza and plans to stop the ships. Last year, an aid flotilla to Gaza ended in bloodshed after Israeli soldiers boarded a Turkish ship. Nine people were killed and 45 others were injured. One of the 32 Canadians, Lyn Adamson, says that the latest mission is simply bringing medicine to help Palestinians. The flotilla has invited inspections by the United Nations or third parties. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, has called the convoy "provocative."


Canada's federal Liberal Party is delaying the date of its leadership convention. A convention was forecast for next year, but Liberal party members have decided to postpone the convention for two years. Delegates voted for the delay online in a virtual convention on Friday. The party is under the interim leadership of Bob Rae. He succeeded Michael Ignatieff, who resigned as leader after the party's worst electoral showing last month.



NATO is admitting that its recent air strike on Libya's capital killed some civilians. The Libyan government had accused NATO of killing nine people, including two children. NATO says that its warplanes tried to hit a military missile site in Tripoli in the early hours of Sunday, but says that a weapons system failure might have led the missiles to strike a civilian target. On Sunday, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's forces fired rockets and mortars on the rebel front lines in Dafniya, about 25 kilometres west of Misrata. A local hospital official says that four people were killed and 16 others were wounded. Canada is one of the NATO countries seeking to protect Libyan civilians from government attacks.


Activists say Syrian troops are tightening their grip on villages near the Turkish border, setting up checkpoints and making dozens of arrests. Residents who managed to escape the village of Bdama through which thousands of people have been fleeing to Turkey, say the military destroyed the town's bakery and set fire to surrounding forest land. Some ten thousand Syrians have already fled to Turkey. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross is scheduled to arrive in Damascus later today to discuss the humanitarian situation with senior government officials. Activists claim more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained as President Bashar Assad tries to maintain his grip on power in the midst of widespread anti-government protests.


A volcano in southern Chile that began erupting about two weeks ago has become less active. Far less ash is spewing from the volcano. The government says that about 4,000 people who fled the volcano zone could be allowed to return home. The ash cloud spread as far as New Zealand, causing flight disruptions, especially in neighbouring Argentina.


South Korea says it won't punish the marines who fired at a civilian jetliner they thought was a North Korean military aircraft. A military officials says the marines were following their training when they shot at the Asiana Airlines flight carrying 119 people from the Chinese city of Chengdu around dawn Friday. The plane was undamaged after being fired upon some 100 times. The airline says no one on board was hurt or even aware of the shooting at the time. Tensions between the Koreas are high. North Korea threatened earlier this month to retaliate for the South Korean military's use of photos of leader Kim Jong Il's family for shooting practice.


Dozens of Vietnamese have launched protests against China for the third straight week amid escalating tensions in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where both countries recently conducted live-fire military drills. About 300 people gathered Sunday near the Chinese Embassy in the capital, Hanoi, and marched through the streets, demanding that their powerful northern neighbour stay out of Vietnam's territory. Protests are rare in Vietnam and are typically quashed quickly by security forces, but Hanoi has allowed the demonstrations to go on for the past three Sundays. Relations between the communist neighbours have hit a low point after two incidents in the past month involving clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese boats in the South China Sea.


Thousands of Venezuelan troops are continuing an operation to regain control of a prison near the capital, Caracas. Clashes with inmates at the El Rodeo I prison have left three people dead, including two National Guard troops, since Friday. At least 18 troops have been wounded. The violence erupted in the prison as troops were searching for weapons. A riot between rival gangs at the prison on June 12th left more than 20 inmates dead. Since then officials say dozens of inmates accused of leading gangs within the prison have been transferred elsewhere. Attempts by Venezuelan justice officials to negotiate a peaceful resolution have so far failed.


Lawyers for three former top editors of Bahrain's main opposition newspaper are challenging allegations of unethical coverage by their clients during mass anti-government protests. Two employees of Al Wasat newspaper told the Gulf kingdom's highest criminal court today that the editors overlooked fabricated information because of the difficult conditions the paper was working under during the Shiite-led demonstrations against Bahrain's Sunni rulers. The two employees said the newspaper's offices had been vandalized, forcing reporters and editors to work from home. The editors have pleaded not guilty to charges that include publishing fabricated news. Their trial is part of a sweeping government crackdown on Bahrain's Shiite-led opposition.


Pakistan's military says it has launched a combined air and ground operation in a volatile tribal area near the Afghan border that has left 25 militants and four soldiers dead. The army says Sunday's offensive in the Mohmand tribal area left 18 fighters wounded. Pakistan says the operation successfully secured a mountaintop that had been used by militants as a stronghold. Mohmand is one of several tribal areas where the Pakistani military has launched offensives against a homegrown Taliban insurgency that has declared war against the state.


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called for a fall referendum on "changes to the political system," including to the country's constitution. Opening a three-day parliamentary debate that will culminate in a confidence vote late Tuesday, Mr.Papandreou blamed Greece's bloated state sector for ruining the economy and he's vowing to effect deep changes. He also says the constitutional revision will make it easier to prosecute delinquent government officials. Greece is currently in talks for a new bailout package roughly equal to the first package of $155 billion dollars it received from the European Union and International Monetary Fund one year ago.


Russian human rights activist Yelena Bonner has died at the age of 88 after a long illness. Mrs. Bonner was married to the nuclear scientist and fellow human rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. Mrs Bonner became active in the human rights movement in the 1960s, and was a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, a rights monitoring body. When authorities sent her husband into internal exile for his activism, Mrs Bonner was responsible for making sure his writing was released in the West. After Mr. Sakharov's death, she continued to advocate rights and democracy in post-communist Russia and was outspoken against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. She'd lived in the northeastern U.S. city of Boston for many years since leaving the Soviet Union in l984. Her remains are to becremated and eventually buried in a Moscow cemetery alongside her husband and other family members.


Demonstrations are scheduled across Morocco after reformists said constitutional changes proposed by King Mohammed VI do not go far enough. Many critics want constitutional changes drawn up by a democratically elected committee instead. Members of the February 20 reformist movement also say the proposed referendum on the constitution comes too soon and leaves little time for a real debate. On Friday,the king said the reforms would limit his power and usher Morocco towards a constitutional monarchy. The proposed measures include giving the prime minister and parliament more executive authority and recognising the minority Berber language. But the King would hold onto key powers and remain head of the military.




Canadian Paula Findlay won the world series triathlon in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Sunday to extend her lead at the top of the overall standings. Britain's Helen Jenkins was second, four seconds back, and American Sarah Groff was third. The win is Findlay's fifth over six races in the last 11 months.



Here is Canada's weather on Monday, June 20. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 20 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny periods. Whitehorse, 19. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 26. Nunavut: showers. Iqaluit, four. Alberta: showers. Edmonton, 18. Saskatchewan: overcast. Regina, 20. Manitoba: variable cloudiness. Winnipeg, 26. Ontario: mainly sunny. Toronto: 25. Ottawa, 26. Quebec: sunny periods. Montreal, 26. New Brunswick: sunny periods. Fredericton, 21. Nova Scotia: sunny. Halifax, 20. Prince Edward Island: showers. Charlottetown, 12. Newfoundland: rain. St. John's, 11.

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