Tuesday, June 28, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird spent half-a-day in the Libyan rebel capital of Benghazi in eastern Libya Monday and met with leaders of the National Transitional Council. Mr. Baird spent half-an-hour with Council leader Mahmoud Jibril to whom he presented a letter from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canada recently joined Arab and European states in recognizing the Council as the Libyan people's legitimate representative. After the meetings, the minister said he was favourably impressed by calibre of his hosts. Mr. Baird says Canada will consider the possibility of released Libyan assets frozen in Canada to the Council. He also met with NGOs to discuss how Canada's humanitarian aid could be most efficiently used.


Postal service in Canada returns to normal Tuesday after 48,000 postal workers were locked out June 15. They had staged almost two weeks of rotating strikes. The federal government's back-to-work legislation to end the Canada Post conflict was passed in the House of Commons and Senate and received immediate royal asset this past weekend. The official opposition New Democratic Party tried to prevent the bill's passage with a 58-hour filibuster, arguing the bill compromised workers' rights but the majority government eventually passed the legislation.


Canadian beef exports to South Korea are close to resuming after a nearly 10-year absence. Federal officials say they're in the final stages of an agreement. South Korea is the last major Asian government still banning Canadian beef imports after the industry was affected by so-called mad-cow disease. The Canadian government says under the agreement, South Korea will import Canadian beef less than 30 months of age, a market that could be worth $30 million by 2015.


Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says the government's bill on "megal-trials" received royal assent over the weekend and is now law. He says the legislation will reduce lengthy, complex trials that require additional resources and support. The law is designed for terrorism and organized crime trials. The impetus for the law sprang from the release without a trial by 31 suspected Hells Angels and criminal biker associates by a judge who said their costly and complicated trial had been plagued by too many delays.


A Canadian government database of accidents reveals numerous incidents of drunk or drugged truckers transporting dangerous cargoes. The statistics obtained by the Canadian Press through the federal Access to Information law show that the impaired state of the truckers was at the root of hundreds of fatal accidents over the past 20 years. The crash reports reveal that thousands of people who transport dangerous cargo are either working while impaired or not taking enough care on Canada's roads and rails. Government officials record accidents in the Dangerous Goods Accident Information System when a spill or leak poses a danger to human health, property or the environment. The Canadian Press analysis found that some of the reasons for crashes include sleeping drivers, carelessness and negligence, speeding and handling cargo the wrong way. Canada has no drug- and alcohol-testing requirement for transport workers.


The premier of Canada's province of Quebec, Jean Charest, will visit Europe this week to promote his plan for the development of the northern part of the province. He will visit politicians and business leaders in England, Belgium and Germany from Monday until Friday. He made a similar trip to the U.S. state of New York earlier this month. The plan to develop Quebec's northern region focuses on the mining and energy sectors.


One of the best-known structures in Canada, the CN Tower in Toronto, marked its 35th anniversary on Sunday. The tower, once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.


Nearly 200 critics of President Bashar Assad met Monday in the Syrian capital Damascus for the first time during the three-month uprising against his rule. The government-sanctioned gathering included prominent opposition figures but no government representatives. The participants are discussing ways to end tyranny and ensure a peaceful and secure transition to a new state. But some opposition figures and activists, both inside Syria and abroad, dismissed the meeting of 190 critics as an opportunity for the government to convey a false impression it's allowing space for dissent, rather than cracking down. The opposition claims some 1,400 people have been killed during the government crackdown that began in mid-March. The government disputes the opposition's death tolls.


The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. They are charged with crimes against humanity. The court prosecutors allege they were involved in the killing of protesters who rose up in February against Gadhafi's 41-year rule. The Libyan government dismissed the development, saying the ICC is a tool of the Western world. Meanwhile, the insurgents have advanced to within 80 kilometres of the capital Tripoli. Analysts say that if insurgents outside Tripoli start gaining momentum, it could inspire anti-Gadhafi groups inside the capital to rise up.


A former senior Russian intelligence officer was convicted in absentia Monday of betraying a ring of 10 Russian spies in the United States. The Moscow District Military Court found Col. Alexander Poteyev guilty of high treason and desertion and sentenced him to 25 years in prison after a trial that was closed to the public. Russian news agencies cited the court's verdict as saying that Poteyev had fled to the United States shortly before U.S. authorities announced the breakup of the spy ring last summer. His wife Anna Chapman and her fellow deep-cover agents had testified during the trial that only Poteyev could have provided the information that led to their arrest last year. They were deported in exchange for four suspected agents who had been imprisoned in Russia. It was the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.


The Venezuelan government is denying reports that President Hugo Chavez is in critical condition following emergency surgery in Cuba. The government insists the 56-year old leftist leader is recovering well after undergoing surgery for an abdominal infection on June 10. Miami's El Nuevo Herald citing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources reported on the weekend that Mr. Chavez is in critical condition although not on the brink of death. The newspaper also said government sources have refused comment on rumors in Venezuela that the president could be receiving treatment for prostate cancer. Opposition lawmakers in Caracas say it is unconstitutional for the president to be governing from abroad.



The U.S. has expressed dismay that China would welcome a visit by the Sudanese president. Omar al-Bashir arrived in Beijing early Tuesday. He has been indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The state department says the U.S. continues to oppose invitations and support for travel by ICC indictees. The department also says it has urged China to join other nations in calling for Sudan's co-operation with the court. The tribunal has issued an arrest warrant against Mr. al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Sudanese region of Darfur. About 300,000 people have been killed there since 2003. The Sudanese leader is due in Beijing on Tuesday.


Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has acknowledged that corruption and income disparities are harming the lives of Chinese. In a speech in London to the Royal Society, Mr. Wen told his listeners that freedom, democracy and economic rights are all linked. The prime minister's made his comments as the Chinese government's political crackdown continues. Earlier, he and and his British counterpart David Cameron announced trade agreements worth $1 billion. Mr. Wen will retire next year after serving as prime minister for a decade.


The Canadian Auto Workers union says its 3,800 customer service employees have voted by almost 88 per cent in favour of a new contract. CAW President Ken Lewenza says it provides them with wages increases of nine per cent over four years. He says the thorny issue of pension benefits for new hires will go through a mediation process and if no resolution emerges will be turned over to an arbitrator who would be jointly chosen. Mr. Lewenza also blasted the federal government for having passed back-to-work legislation to end the union's strike last week after only 16 hours.


Canadian mining company Bear Creek Mining Company is vowing to use all means to keep open its silver mine in the mountains of southeastern Peru. Peru's authorities suspended the company's concession on Saturday following deadly protests by anti-mining demonstrators. At least five protesters were killed on Friday when riot police fired on demonstrators who tried to take control of the airport in Juliaca in Puno province. The demonstrators fear that mines pollute waterways and offer few local benefits. Bear Creek says that the government's decree is illegal since the company has complied with Peruvian law. The Canadian company will challenge the decree under Peruvian law and under provisions of the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement.


TSX on Monday: 12,905 - 75. Dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.40. Oil: $90.74 - 0.42.



Canadian captain Christine Sinclair is hoping her coaches won't make her wear a face mask to protect her broken nose. Sinclair had her nose reset in a Berlin hospital after taking an elbow to the face in yesterday's 2-1 loss to Germany. She was fitted for a plastic mask after the procedure. Mexico and England played to a 1-1 tie today while Japan edged New Zealand 2-1.


British Columbia on Tuesday: rain,high C20 Vancouver. Yukon; rain. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse 17, Yellowknife 21, Iqaluit 14. Alberta: rain north, sun south. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 24, Regina 29, Winnipeg 23. Ontario: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 25, Ottawa 26, Montreal 28. Maritimes: mix sun cloud. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 27, Halifax 25, Charlottetown 21, St.John's 14.