Friday, July 22, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

MINISTER TO VISIT SOMALI REFUGEE CAMPS


A Canadian cabinet minister will visit a camp in Kenya where thousands of starving Somalis are arriving everyday. Bev Oda, the minister of international co-operation, says Canada is committed to helping the 12 million people in Horn of Africa countries who are suffering from severe drought. The camp at Dadaab was built to shelter 90,000 refugees but now holds almost 400,000. On Wednesday, the UN asked for an additional $500 million in aid to alleviate Africa's worst food crisis in 20 years.

PREMIERS PUSH ASIA AGENDA


Thursday was the first day of the annual meeting in Vancouver, BC, of their annual meeting. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says they spent the morning discussing the economic opportunity flowing from Canada belonging to the Asia-Pacific region. Mrs. Clark and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach entered the meeting determined to put China at the top of the premiers' agenda. Mrs. Clark says Asia has the world's fastest-growing middle class and that 20 years from now will account for 60 per cent of the global middle class.

30 SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS AT LARGE IN CANADA


The Canadian government has released the names of 30 individuals who entered Canada illegally and are suspected to have committed war crimes. The government has identified the suspects on a website and has asked the public to supply information that could help track them down. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the government has put in place strict measures to prevent such people from entering the country but that it's hard to do so when they apply for political asylum using fake passports. The individuals sought come from countries including Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan.

ONTARIO PREMIER BOLTS ANNUAL MEETING BECAUSE OF FIRE EMERGENCY


The wildfire crisis in northwestern Ontario has forced Premier Dalton McGuinty to leave the annual premiers' meeting in Vancouver, BC, two days early. The premier wants to ensure that every possible assistance is being given to those affected. Almost 3,000 residents, most of them natives, have been evacuated by air by the military to Thunder Bay. They'll later be put up in hotels and evacuation centres in northwestern and southern Ontario. Eleven more fires were reported on Thursday. Two-thousand firefighters, 500 of them from out of province, are battling the blazes and 16 water bombers and 85 other aircraft also are in operation.

OTTAWA SETS UP MONITORING SYSTEM FOR OILSANDS


The Canadian government has announced the creation of a system to monitor the oilsands industry in northeastern Alberta. Environment Minister Peter Kent says the system will monitor air, water and biodiversity in the Athabasca region of the western province. The system will cost $50 million a year, a cost which the industry itself will pay. The minister says the monitoring will help prove to the world that the oilsands industry is developing the resource in a responsible way. Mr. Kent also says he hopes Thursday's development will help persuade the U.S. to approve TransCanada Corp's planned $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. The project would be an extension of the existing pipeline that conveys Alberta crude to terminals in Illinois and Oklahoma. The extension would take the oil to refineries in Texas.

CRIME RATE DIPS


New figures from Statistics Canada show that the country's crime rate continued a 20-year downward trend last year, falling by 5 percent in 2010. Some experts theorize that younger people are more prone to commit crimes and that if there's now less crime its because there are fewer young people. University of Ottawa criminologist Ron Melchers says crime statistics peaked around 1993, when the size of the 16-to-24 age group peaked as well. However, he cites other factors as well, including tougher locks and better security on cars and in homes. For its part, the Canadian Police Association credits the front-line officers' hard work and warns against looking at the latest crimes statistics as a reason to cut police funding. Opposition MPs interpret the numbers to mean that there's no need for the new jails and prisons that the government plans.

ADULTEROUS GENERAL PLEADS GUILTY TO AFFAIR


Canadian retired Brig.-Gen. Daniel Ménard has been fined $7,000 admitted to having an illegal sexual affair with a fellow soldier while commanding Canadian troops in Afghanistan. He pleaded guilty to the accusation as well as to a second charge that he tried to cover up the military violation at a court-martial in Montreal. Military regulations forbid soldiers to have sexual relations while deployed. Gen. Ménard was sent home from Kandahar in June 2010 and resigned last November.

CHINESE FUGITIVE A SMOKESCREEN: LAWYER


The lawyer defending a Chinese fugitive in Canada who has been fighting deportation for 12 years says he won't get a fair trial if returned home. The lawyer asked Federal Court of Canada to stop the deportation because Chinese officials are using Lai Changxing's case to deflect allegations of corruption against some of their colleagues. China has given Canada assurances that Mr. Lai wouldn't be tortured or executed and would have access to a lawyer. But his Canadian lawyer says China only provides lawyers to accused who plead guilty. The lawyer also says Mr. Lai's brother and accountant have died mysteriously in prison and that Mr. Lai could meet the same fate. Federal Court will decide Thursday night or early Friday whether to block the extradition of China's most wanted man. China accuses Mr. Lai of having swindled the government out of millions of dollars in a smuggling operation. He is scheduled to be deported next Monday. Unless Federal Court intervenes, Mr. Lai could be deported as early as Saturday.


BELGIUM


Euro-zone leaders agreed at the end of an emergency summit in Brussels to endow their financial rescue fund with more powers to help Greece overcome its debt crisis. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says leaders of the 17-nation zone have agreed to ease lending terms to Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The European Financial Stability Facility will be permitted to give states precautionary credit lines before they are shut out of credit markets. The EFSF will also be empowered to lend governments money to recapitalize banks. Germany had blocked both moves earlier this year. As well, private investors will voluntarily exchange their Greek bonds for longer maturities at lower interest rates to help prop up Greece.

LIBYA


The top official for Libya's National Transitional Council says forces loyal to Moammar Ghadhafi have boobytrapped oil installations in the eastern city of Brega. Mahmoud Jibril says Gadhafi intends to blow up the city's oil processing and shipping facilities if the insurgents gain hold of the city. The rebels control much of eastern Libya, but their push to capture Brega suffered a setback last week when 27 of their fighters died in shelling. Mr. Jibril spoke in the Spanish capital Madrid. He wants companies like the Spanish energy firm Repsol SA, which abandoned Libya after fighting broke out in March, to return and rebuild their installations, financing the reconstruction from Libyan assets frozen by the Spanish government.

EGYPT


A new cabinet was sworn in on Thursday. It contains 12 new members, while 13 others kept their jobs. The new cabinet is intended to relieve political pressure from Egyptians who think the pace of change is too slow and that the military government isn't doing enough to weed out people connected to the ousted government of former President Hosni Mubarak. One minister who kept his job is Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi. His detractors claim he hasn't done enough to reform the police and security forces.

ECUADOR


Media organizations around the world are expressing outrage after a court in Ecuador sent three newspaper executives and an editorialist to prison for libel against President Rafael Correa. The four were sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Mr. Correa $30 million in damages after he was described as a dictator in the daily newspaper El Universo. The newspaper itself was ordered to pay him $10 million in damages. The president of the U.S.-based Inter-American Press Association, Gonzalo Marroquin, called the decision a "serious blow to the most essential principles of freedom of information." Ricardo Uceda of the Peru-based Institute of Press and Society calls the ruling "troubling" because it could mean that "the exercise of editorial opinion... could become a criminal act." Reporters Without Borders said it was "shocked" by court ruling, calling it contrary to the general trend in Latin America of decriminalizing media offenses.

UNITED STATES


The U.S. has condemned the use of force by the government of Malawi to suppress peaceful political demonstrations. Eighteen people were killed when the army suppressed protests in two cities on Wednesday. The protesters accused President Bingu wa Mutharika of mismanaging Malawi's economy and of trampling on democratic rights. Last April, the U.S. and Malawi signed an $350-million aid agreement to be used to improve Malawi's power sector. The money was contingent on good governance. The state department said on Thursday that Mr. Mutharika had committed himself to uphold democracy and freedom of expression and association.

UNITED STATES


The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis returned to earth on Thursday after a 13-day mission to the International Space Station. The returns marks the end of the 30-year shuttle program. The landing of Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center marks the end of three decades of missions that made space flight seem routine, despite two fatal accidents that killed 14 astronauts. The last accident investigation board recommended that the shuttles be retired after construction of the space station was complete. That milestone was reached this year.


SHIPYARDS BID FOR $35 BILLION OF FEDERAL CONTRACTS


The Canadian government says it has received bids from three shipyards for $35 billion worth of federal contracts over 20 years. The companies are Halifax Shipyard, Seaspan Marine of Vancouver and Davie Yards of Lévis, QC. The government says it must still decide if Davie qualifies as an eligible bidder. Just hours before the government's announcement, Quebec Superior Court approved a bid by Ontario's Upper Lakes Group to buy Davie Yards of Lévis, QC. Davie has been under bankruptcy protection since February 2010.

NATIVES OPPOSE WESTERN PIPELINE


Chiefs representing the Dene people in Alberta and the Arctic have come out in opposition to a pipeline proposed by pipeline firm Enbridge Inc. The company wants to build a line that would convey oilsands crude oil from Alberta west to the port of Kitikat, BC, for reshipment to Asia. The chiefs say the Gateway project is too environmentally dangerous, National Chief Bill Erasmus pointing out that there have been more than 100 pipeline spills in Canada in the past few years. He added that oilsands production contributes to climate change, which is hurting native communities and their culture. Enbridge says the pipeline would create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in taxes for local, provincial and federal governments.

GOVTS. UNLOAD CHRYSLER STAKE


The federal and Ontario governments have sold their stakes in automaker Chrysler Corp. to its parent company Fiat for US$140 million. The sale was a final payback to the govenrments for having lent the company $1.7 billion to help prevent it from going bankrupt. Ottawa and Ontario at the same time took a 1.7-per cent stake in Chrysler. Canada's auto industry is located in Ontario.

MARKETS


TSX on Thursday: 13,434 + 93. Dollar: US$1.05, up .23. Euro: $1.36. Oil: $99.39 + .99.


SPORTS


SWIMMING

Canada has won bronze in synchronized swimming

at the world aquatic championships in Shanghai, China.

The Canadian team picked up its first medal of the week on

Thursday in the free combination event, ending a string fourth-place

finishes.

Russian's Natalia Ishchenko won her fourth gold medal, helping

her nine teammates finish with 98.470 points. China took the silver

with 96.360 ahead of Canada's 96.150.


WEATHER


British Columbia on Friday: rain north, mix sun cloud south, high C20 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 22, Yellowknife 23, Iqaluit 16. Alberta, Saskatchewan: rain. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 16, Regina 25, Winnipeg 23. Ontario, Quebec: sun. Toronto 34, Ottawa 31, Montreal 30. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 29, Halifax 28, Charlottetown 21, St. John's 17.