Friday, June 24, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

OTTAWA: GOVT. DECLARES END TO AFGHAN PRISONER CONTROVERSY


The Canadian government says there's nothing more to say about the treatment of prisoners handed over to authorities in Afghanistan by Canadian soldiers. More than 300 documents have been released after three judges and some Members of Parliament examined material to decide what could be released without jeopardizing national security. The Conservative Party government says the documents show that Canadian soldiers acted properly and the process is over. But the leader of the official opposition New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, says he wants to know what the government's holding back and why.

OTTAWA: COMMONS DEBATES BILL TO END POSTAL CONFLICT


Lawmakers in Canada's House of Commons debated on Thursday the Conservative government's back-to-work legislation aimed at ending the lockout at Canada Post. The House was scheduled to recess for the summer but all four parties have said they're prepared to continue the debate through the weekend. Negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers broke off on Wednesday after a 72-hour resumption. The union says it's unlikely they'll start up again since the government's legislation has removed any incentive for the employer to compromise. Opposition parties say they'll continue to fight the bill on the grounds that it takes the employer's side, imposing a wage settlement inferior to the company's last offer. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt responded that it's only fair the government impose a wage identical to increases it has negotiated with its own employees.

REGINA: INSURANCE WORKERS TO BE LEGISLATED BACK TO WORK


Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has ordered the legislature to return to work to pass a bill to force crop insurance workers to return to work. Four-hundred-and-seventy employees of the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. walked off the job on Tuesday to back salary demands. The premier says his government won't allow an "unconscionable" strike to continue at a time when many farm families are dealing with record flooding. Mr. Wall says the government stands behind the farmers and won't allow them to be used as pawns in a labour dispute. He says they've paid for coverage and will receive it. Flooding is expected to leave two million hectares unseeded this year in Saskatchewan.

EDMONTON: PROVINCE OPPOSES CIGARETTES FROM QUEBEC


The western Canadian province of Alberta was in court Thursday to try to stop a company based on an aboriginal reserve in the province of Quebec from selling cigarettes to Western native communities. The president of Rainbow Tobacco GP was charged under Alberta's Tobacco Tax Act earlier this year after police seized 16 million cigarettes on the Montana First Nation south of Edmonton. Alberta argues the cigarettes were not properly marked for sale in the province and says it stood to lose three million dollars in tobacco tax revenue.

TORONTO: DISGRACED TYCOON MAY RETURN TO JAIL


A former newspaper mogul, Canadian-born Conrad Black, will find out in a court in Chicago on Friday whether he'll have to do more jail time. The decision will be made by the same judge who condemned him to serve six-and-half years for fraud and obstruction of justice. He and several associates had been found guilty of swindling the Hollinger Inc. newspaper company out of millions of dollars. Black served 29 months of his sentence and then was set free on bail.


UNITED STATES


The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on Iran's state-owned airline that bar Americans from having any dealings with Iran Air. The U.S. Treasury Department says the airline is used by Iran's Revolutionary Guards since 2006 to transport military equipment, including rockets and missiles for Syria. Iran Air has been under U.S. sanctions since 1996 that have prevented any sale of Boeing or Airbus aircraft or spare parts for the planes, with the result that Iran Air is one of the world's most rundown airlines in the world.

SYRIA


Syrian troops have attacked the village of Khirbet al-Joz near Turkey's border, where thousands of Syrians fleeing a violent crackdown on dissent have gathered. Thousands of Syrian refugees have set up camps along the border, hesitant to cross into Turkey for fear of being unable to return home. They say Turkish authorities have assured them they can cross over if they felt threatened. Turkey has already welcomed some 11,000 Syrian refugees and is providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced on the Syrian side of the border. Since mid-March, more than 1,400 civilians have been killed and some 10,000 people arrested in the crackdown that has seen troops dispatched to crush pro-democracy protests across the country.

YEMEN


U.S. diplomat Jeffrey Feltman has asked for an immediate transfer of power in Yemen after he met that country's Vice-president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi Thursday in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. Mr. Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, says the move is in the best interest of the Yemeni people. His statements come amid growing local and international pressure on Mr. Hadi to assume power after President Ali Abdullah Saleh was flown to Riyadh for treatment for wounds suffered when a bomb exploded as he prayed at his palace mosque earlier this month. Mr. Saleh has refused to resign after 33 years in power.

NETHERLANDS


The International Criminal Court in The Hague says it will decide at a public hearing on Monday whether to issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for crimes against humanity. The Court's prosecution branch has requested arrest warrants for Gadhafi, one of his sons and the head of Libyan intelligence. The prosecutors claim he personally ordered attacks against unarmed civilians and met with his son Seif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi to plan them. Libya's deputy foreign minister reacted by saying that Libya isn't worried by the ICC's decisions since Libya wasn't a party to the Rome Statute that founded it.

RUSSIA


A report prepared for Russia's State Council contradicts a statement by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Russia's nuclear safety system is the best in the world. The new report reveals 32 weaknesses at the country's 10 nuclear power plants. The document says the problems include reduced disaster safety standards and a lack of strategy to secure spent nuclear fuel. The report singles out the Leningrad plant near St. Petersburg and the Kursk plant near the border with Ukraine. It says the solid radioactive waste storage facilities at both plants are more than 85 per cent full and that there's no plan for operations when they're full. The report has been distributed to senior government officials and a group of NGOs but hasn't been made public in the state media.

BELARUS


Rights activists in Belarus say the authorities arrested more than 450 people who took part in political protests in Minsk and 30 other cities on Wednesday evening. Most were released after several hours but several dozen are on trial on thursday and risk 15 days in prison for hooliganism. The demonstrations were organized through social media. It was the third such action in three weeks. Last week, President Alexander Lukashenko reprimanded his interior minister for failing to disperse the protests. Police in Minsk tried to stop the demonstration by cordoning off streets and shutting down public transportation, But hundreds of people turned up anyway, some arriving on bicycles.

AFGHANISTAN


Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai says his country's security forces will be ready to take over from foreign troops after their departure. His statement came after U.S. president Barack Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of the year, saying that a further 23,000 soldiers will be withdrawn by next summer. Mr. Obama says the United States will no longer try to build a perfect Afghanistan from a nation ravaged by generations of violence.

CHINA


China has confirmed the release of artist-activist Ai Weiwei. But officials say that he is still under investigation and cannot leave Beijing without permission. He has been released on bail after the 54-year-old artist allegedly confessed to tax evasion. Mr. Ai was in police custody for nearly three months after he was arrested at Beijing airport in April preparing to fly to Hong Kong. His arrest came during a major government crackdown on activists launched in February.


TORONTO: ANTE UPPED IN BIDDING FOR EXCHANGE


The consortium of Canadian banks and other financial institutions that wants to keep the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canadian hands has sweetened its takeover bid. Maple Group Acquisition Corp. has increased its offer for shares of TMX, the company that controls the exchange, by $2 to $50. This happened on Wednesday just hours after TMX improved its own bid by offering a $4 special dividend on each share to its shareholders after it closes its friendly merger with the London Stock Exchange. TMX shareholders will vote on the proposed merger on June 30.

GATINEAU: CABLE FIRM WANTS MORE REGULATION


Canada's fourth-biggest cable TV operator has called on the country's telecom watchdog to enforce more regulation to prevent market domination by a handful of its competitors. Cogeco Cable made that pitch at the ongoing hearings concerning telecom competition held by the Canadian Television-radio and Telecommunications Commission. Cego CEO Louis Audet noted that BCE Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Media Inc. control more than three-quarters of all Canadian television programming and distribution revenues, as well as two-thirds of all wireline and mobile phone subscribers. Mr. Audet says stronger rules are needed to prevent corporate discrimination, undue preferences refusal to deal which hurt the other competitors. He also says that programs owned by the big cable and satellite companies should be made available to others at fair terms. Earlier in the week, BCE and Quebecor said exactly the opposite, pleading for less regulation and arguing in favour of CRTC permission to allow exclusive deals for content on new devices like smartphones and tablets. The two companies claimed that exclusive deals favour innovation.

MARKETS


TSX on Thursday: 12,981 - 80. Dollar: US$1.02. Euro: $1.39. Oil: $91.68 - $3.73.


SPORTS


HOCKEY

Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry was surprise winner at the National Hockey League awards ceremony.

Perry, the league's only 50-goal scorer, beat out league scoring champion Daniel Sedin to take home the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player.

The players, however, voted for Sedin as the Most Valuable Player. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom won his seventh Norris Trophy as the best defenceman.

Boston goalie Tim Thomas added his second Vezina Trophy.

Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma picked up the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year, and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler earned the Selke as the best defensive forward.

Carolina's Jeff Skinner won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.

HOCKEY

Dave Cameron is finally getting his chance to coach at the NHL level. Cameron and Mark Reeds have been named assistant coaches by the Ottawa Senators. They'll backup newly-hired Paul MacLean, who was announced as head coach last week. Cameron coached the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to the Memorial Cup only to lose to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the final.


WEATHER


British Columbia on Friday: rain, high C18 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 25, Yellowknife 23, Iqaluit 7. Alberta: rain north, cloud south. Saskatchewan: rain south, cloud north. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 17, Regina 23, Winnipeg 25. Ontario: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: rain. Toronto, Ottawa 22, Montreal 20. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 18, Halifax 16, Charlottetown 17, St. John's 10.