Sunday, June 19, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


Joy and optimism are being expressed this weekend at the annual convention of Canada's opposition New Democratic Party. Party delegates are meeting in Vancouver to celebrate the NDP's fiftieth annivesary. They're also rejoicing at the NDP's election victory last month when its candidates won 103 seats. For the first time, the NDP became the official opposition. On Friday night, party leader Jack Layton predicted that the NDP would one day form the federal government. Convention delegates are discussing many issues dealing with the left-wing party's future. Among them is a proposal to remove references to socialism in the party's constitution.


About one thousand volunteers again came to communities along the Richelieu River in the Canadian province of Quebec on Saturday to help clean up flood damage. Hundreds of homes were inundated in the past month as the region saw water levels rise to record high levels. Volunteers have been helping with the cleanup for the past two weekends. Next week, the provincial government will start the next phase of compensating flood victims. So far, the government has paid seven-and-a-half million dollars. Most of the money paid for accommodation for some 3,000 people who were forced out of their flooded homes. Civil protection inspectors are still assessing the damage.


The U.S. Postal service says it will stop accepting most mail to Canada starting this weekend because of the lockout by Canada Post. Negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers resumed Friday and will continue through the weekend. But Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says she intends to introduce back-to-work legislation early next week if progress between the two sides is not made. The union has accused Canada Post of locking out the workers in order to incite the government to take action. Canada Post says it locked out its workers because of uncertainty caused by the union's rotating strikes. On June 3rd, the postal workers began walking off the job in designated urban areas to back their demands over wages, pensions and the effect of the Internet on traditional mail service.


A crowd of some two thousand people marched through the streets of Montreal on Saturday to call for a moratorium on shale gas development. Among the demonstrators was a group that had staged a 700-kilometre protest walk along the St. Lawrence River to spread the message about shale gas to villages on the route. The leader of the walk, Philippe Duhamel, called for a 20-year moratorium on shale gas development. Protesters say that shale gase production contaminates groundwater and badly pollutes the environment. Quebec's governmentput shale gas development on hold following a public outcry. Quebec has considerable shale-gas deposits.


More than one thousand people paid their last respects on Saturday to Quebec musician Claude Leveillee, who died earlier this month at the age of 78. Among those attending the funeral in Montreal's Notre Dame Basilica were artists, politicians, family and friends. Mr. Leveillee composed songs for the French singer Edith Piaf among many others. He is credited with helping to define Quebec's culture.


Syrian troops used tanks and heavy weapons on Saturday to prevent supplies from reaching some two thousand refugees who fled from government-organized attacks on northern villages near the border with Turkey. Troops entered the village of Bdama about 20 kilometres from the border. If the troop action continues, the refugees will be forced to cross the border into Turkey, where about ten thousand Syrians have already fled. The British Foreign office is urging Britons in Syria to leave the country immediately. Britain, France, Germany and Portugal will be sponsoring a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syria. Syrian president Bashir al-Assad has resorted to violence to stop anti-government protests.


Suicide bombers in army uniform attacked a police compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul today. Three policemen, five civilians and an intelligence agent were killed. Two policemen and ten civilians were injured. It was the second major attack inside the Afghan capital by Taliban militants in under a month. Elsewhere, two separate roadside bomb attacks killed four Afghan private security guards, in eastern Ghazni province early today. The guards were escorting supply convoys travelling to a NATO base. The two bombings happened within two hours of each other.The latest violence erupted shortly after a statement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who confirmed that the United States is engaged in peace talks with the Taliban. Mr. Karzai gave no details as to whether the discussions involved Taliban officials with U.S. authorities, or a go-between.


Pro-democracy activists in Morocco have said constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI do not go far enough. Members of the February 20 movement said they would still hold a planned protest tomorrow, calling for greater changes to the country's political system. Under the proposed reforms, the prime minister and parliament would be given more executive authority and the minority Berber language would be recognized. But King Mohammed would retain key powers and remains head of the army. The King says his plan would entrench democratic institutions and protect human rights rights. The February 20 group is mainly made up of young people and has staged weekly pro-democracy marches throughout the country in the past few months.


Zambia's first democratically elected president, Frederick Chiluba,has died in Lusaka at the age of 68. The cause of his death was heart failure. In 1991, Chiluba replaced Kenneth Kaunda, who had been president since the country won independence from Britain in 1964. . Chiluba won praise for his economic and political reforms but was later accused of embezzlement and turning a blind eye to corruption. He was succeeded by his deputy, Levy Mwanawasa, in 2002 after trying to amend the constitution to run for a third term. In 2007, Chiluba was found guilty by a British court of stealing $46 million. In 2009, a Zambian court dropped more than 60 charges of theft against Chiluba, amounting to more than $40 million, because it didn't have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction


Mexican customs inspectors say they've found more than $2.4 million in cash rolled up and stuffed into spools of telephone cable headed for Venezuela. Customs officials at the Mexico City Airport say the money was taped up into 6,000 small rolls. The rolls were inserted into about 500 metres of thick phone cable, and the cable was coiled onto four spools. A trained dog alerted agents to the suspicious contents. Authorities say the man listed as the owner of the shipment has been detained. Venezuela is a transshipment point for cocaine, and Mexican cartels often ship money back to South America to pay for the drugs.


Guatemalan authorities have detained a former armed forces chief accused of joining in massacres during the nation's civil war nearly 30 years ago. Retired general Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes, 81, was arrested Frieday in the capital, Guatemala City. Human rights groups say he took part in genocide and crimes against humanity during the military government of Efrain Rios Montt. Justice officials claim he was the one who planned the killings of more than 300 indigenous Maya civilians from the Ixil region in 1982 and 1983. More than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared during the civil war. Most died at the hands of the nation's security forces.


China has mobilized its military and raised its disaster alert to the highest level amid severe river flooding that has prompted evacuation of more than half a million people. Officials say more than 550,000 people have fled from low-lying areas in seven provinces and one municipality along the flooded Yangtze River. Landslides and mudslides have toppled homes, and the torrential rains that caused them are forecast to continue all weekend. The flooding has left 105 people dead and 65 missing. Meanwhile, a flooded river in the country's east has risen to its highest level in more than 50 years. The Qiantang River, Zhejiang province's main waterway, is at 7.9 feet above safety levels - the highest it has been since 1955.


Authorities in China have arrested 19 people suspected of provoking incidents during three days of riots in the country's southern industrial heartland. The violence broke out June 10th in Xintang, a district in the greater Guangzhou area of Guangdong province after rumours spread that police had beaten a street peddler to death and manhandled his wife who is pregnant. Although the authorities calimed there was no confrontation between police and the civilian population, televised images showed hundreds of officers and armoured vehilces deployed, with people hurling bricks and bottles at local officials and police. ATM machines and local police posts were also vandalized.


NATO has apologized for mistakenly striking some Libyan rebel vehicles. NATO made no mention of any casualties. The error occurred during an airstrike near an eastern oil town on Thursday. On Saturday, at least two explosions shook the capital, Tripoli, after NATO jets soared above the city. It was not clear what targets had been hit or if there were any casualties. A senior rebel official is accusing western nations of failing to keep their promise to deliver urgent financial aid. Ali Tarhouni, the oil and finance minister of the rebel leadership, says months of fighting have depleted rebel coffers.


There's been another setback in efforts to clean massive amounts of radioactive water at the stricken Fukishima nuclear plant on Japan's northesast coast. The plant operator says a cartridge in the cleaning system was supposed to last a few weeks, but reached its radioactivity limit within five hours. TEPCO says the system has been shut down and it's uncertain when it will restart. An estimated 25,000 people died or went missing when a devastating earthquake and subesequent tsunami hit the country's northeast on March 11th. Meanwhile a new U.N. report shows that Japanese nuclear regulators failed to review and approve steps taken after 2002 to protect against tsunamis at the Fukushima plant and these proved insufficient to prevent the tidal wave disaster three months ago.


South Korean troops fired at a passenger jet after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft. No one was injured in the incident which took place early on Friday close to the tense border between the Koreas. 119 people were on board the Asiana flight, which was out of range and landed undamaged at Seoul's Incheon International Airport. The plane had flown to Seoul from the south-western Chinese city of Chengdu.


More than 200 Chinese workers in Burma have returned to China after separatist rebels attacked a hydropower plant in the northern border province of Kachin. Burma's media report that the Chinese ambassador met Burma's foreign and border affairs ministers on Friday. No details were reported. The daily New Light of Myanmar described several threats by the Kachin Independence Army against Chinese projects in Kachin State, including the Tarpein Hydropower Project. The project stopped operating last Tuesday. In the past week, the KIA blew up 25 bridges in the region. Hundreds of people have fled their homes in the mountainous region to escape the fighting. The Kachin Independence Organisation has battled the central government for decades. In 1994, it agreed to a ceasefire under which its fighters were allowed to keep their arms. But the Kachin have refused to assimilate their forces into the government's security force.



Canada's women's team beat Greece, 13-9, on Saturday in a consolation semifinal game at the FINA

World League Super Final in Tianjin, China. Canadian Sophie Baron La Salle scored five goals.



Canada's rugby team was beaten by the England Saxons in the final of the Churchill Cup in England, 37-6. It was the Saxons' sixth title in nine editions of the tournament.



Canadian Frank Dancevic qualified for the main draw of Wimbledon after winning his final qualifying round on Saturday, beating Marco Crugnola of Italy, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Another Canadian, Stephanie Dubois, failed to qualify, losing to Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3, 6-2 in her final qualifying match. Dancevic joins compatriot Milos Raonic on the men's side, and Aleksandra Wozniak and Rebecca Marino on the women's side. Wimbledon begins Monday.



Canadian Cameron McKnight won the Florida Keys Community Swim Around Key West on Saturday. He was the youngest solo entrant among nearly 150 swimmers. He circled the island in four hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds.



Toronto defeated Cincinnati, 3-2, in interleague baseball on Friday


Here is Canada's weather on Sunday, June 19. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 19 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny periods. Whitehorse, 16. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 25. Nunavut: mainly sunny. Iqaluit, eight. Alberta: showers. Edmonton, 16. Saskatchewan: showers. Regina, 22. Manitoba: variable cloudiness. Winnipeg, 26. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: 25. Ottawa, 25. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 25. New Brunswick: showers. Fredericton, 19. Nova Scotia: variable cloudiness. Halifax, 17. Prince Edward Island: showers. Charlottetown, 17. Newfoundland: mainly cloudy. St. John's, ten.