Thursday, July 14, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 13 July 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Canada has added its voice to the worldwide condemnation of Wednesday's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. At least 21 people died and 113 were hurt in three bombings in busy areas of the city. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to those killed and injured, including Canadians who may have lost family. Mr. Harper says the attacks are a grim reminder that terrorism is alive and that such outrages can occur anytime.


Aid groups and refugee organizations are pressing the Canadian government to do more to help drought-ravaged East Africa. Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing into Kenya not only because of drought but also violence. Care Canada and the Canadian Somali Congress want the government to lobby for the opening of a new refugee camp there. Kenya has established a camp for the Somalis. Sixty-thousand of them are waiting outside to get in and the Kenyan government has refused permission for the opening of a second camp to alleviate the pressure. For its part, the Canadian Council for Refugees has denounced the backlog of refugee applications at the Canadian visa office in Nairobi. The Canadian government has so far this year earmarked $11.5 million to deal with the humanitarian situation in Kenya and Somalia.


There's a report that the income gap between rich and poor in Canada has widened over the past generation. The report by the Conference Board of Canada says although the average Canadian was better off in 2009 than in 1976, most of the gains were enjoyed by the wealthy. According to the Conference Board, the average Canadian income adjusted for inflation rose by 17 per cent in that period to almost $60,000. But the report says that figure can mask poverty because those profiting most were already well off. The document notes that the gap between the average income of the richest and poorest Canadians rose from $92,300 in 1976 to $117,500 in 2009.


A Canadian Member of Parliament from the east coast province of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to convince the federal government not to move two search-and-rescue co-ordination centres. Judy Foote says the government is not considering the critical roles language and local knowledge play in saving lives along the St. Lawrence River and the Newfoundland coast. She argues that closing the Quebec City and St. John's centres ignores the need for access to French-speaking controllers and people who can understand English-Irish dialects in Newfoundland and Labrador. The government claims communication and local knowledge will not be affected by the moves.


An Ottawa couple has won compensation from Air Canada after the airline admitted having failed to provide them with services in French. Federal Court of Canada has awarded $6,000 each to Michel and Lynda Thibodeau over incidents that occurred on two trips two years ago between Ottawa and the U.S. The couple complained that Air Canada failed to provide service in French during check-in, at the boarding gate and aboard the flight and also made an announcement about a baggage carrousel change only in English. Air Canada unsuccessfully argued that although it was guilty of violations of the Official Languages Act, the couple didn't deserve compensation because they didn't suffer damages.


The city has received advice on how to cut costs. Toronto's 2012 budget has a $775-million shortfall and Mayor Rob Ford has said it can no longer afford 53,000 employees. A report by the KPMG consulting firm suggests the city could phase out 2,000 child-care spaces that the province no longer subsidizes and that city-operated daycare centres could be transferred to the private sector. KPMG also recommends merging the fire department with emergency medical services, and that the latter service should focus on emergency calls rather than such contingencies as patient transfers between health facilities. On Tuesday, the city announced that 17,000 employees have been offered voluntary buyouts.


The mayor of a city in the Canadian province of Quebec is raising funds for his upcoming court battle with political adversaries who want him to stop praying at council meetings. Mayor Jean Tremblay, who represents the city of Saguenay, QC, has raised $181,000 with a collection box on the municipal website. The Quebec Secular Movement has raised $25,000. Mr. Tremblay is fighting a human-rights tribunal order to stop praying at council meetings and to remove religious symbols from the council chamber.


Canada has been called upon to take drastic steps to save the caribou from extinction. The call comes from Canadian and American conservation experts at the Pew Environment Group of the U.S. and the Canadian Boreal Initiative. The woodland caribou formerly lived in much of Canada and the northern U.S. but its habitat is now mostly confined to the boreal forest that stretches across much of northern Canada. But the experts says that habitat is being rapidly eroded by human development with the result that the animal's population is halved every six or seven years. The experts say existing measures to preserve the boreal forests are piecemeal. They've written a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and five premiers calling of them to join to form a plan to preserve the animal's habitat before it disappears. An image of the caribou appears on Canada's 25-cent coin.


A man wanted by China for multimillion-dollar fraud and who was ordered freed on Tuesday was still in custody on Wednesday. Canada's immigration and refugee board ruled on Tuesday that Lai Changxing doesn't present a flight risk and could go free until one or more further hearings in his case in several weeks. But Federal Court of Canada stayed execution of the ruling late Tuesday at the request of the Canadian Border Services Agency, which wants him deported. Mr. Lai was taken into custody last week and barely escaped deportation. Mr. Lai has used legal means to escape that fate for the past 12 years. China wants him extradited for having allegedly cheated the state out of billions of dollars of customs duties in a huge smuggling operation. He came to Canada in 1999 and claimed refugee status, which was refused. He says he'll be tortured or executive if sent home.



Three separate explosions shook India's city of Mumbai on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people. About 100 others were wounded. The number of casualties is expected to rise. Blasts went off in a crowded residential area, in the business district of Opera House and near a busy jewelry market. The government is calling the explosions a terrorist attack. Mumbai was the scene of a major terrorist attack three years ago. Ten Islamist extremists took control of a large hotel, killing 166 people before police killed all but one of the terrorists. India blamed the terrorist attack on a Pakistan-based group called Lashkar-e-Taiba.


The UN Security Council has recommended that South Sudan be admitted to the world body and the General Assembly is expected to make it official in a vote on Thursday. South Sudan will be the 193rd UN member state. The country declared its independence on Saturday.


A U.S. senator predicts that if there were to be an investigation in the U.S. of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, the investigators would find evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate commerce committee, says his powerful committee might carry out the investigation itself. The senator called on agencies of the U.S. government to find out whether American citizens have been victims of hacking by employees of Murdoch's News Corp. and vows that if this is the case they'll be severely punished. In Britain, meanwhile, Mr. Murdoch has withdrawn his bid to buy pay-TV giant BSkyB. The announcement just hours before Britain three biggest political parties were preparing to vote on a motion that the bid be withdrawn. The hacking scandal forced the closure of News Corp.'s News of the World newspaper last Sunday.


President Hugo Chavez says he expects to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment once he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba on June 20. In a telephone call to state television, he said doctors had removed a tumour as big as a baseball. Mr. Chavez says he's entering a second and third phase of treatment and expects the latter to be "a bit hard." He didn't say what kind of cancer is involved. Since his return to Caracas on July 4, he has limited the length of his televised appearances under orders from his doctors.


The IMF has expressed praise for the government of Greece's plans to cut its budget deficit to less than three per cent of its economy by 2014. But the IMF says in a staff report that the government must move quickly and decisively to bring its huge public debt under control. The report also acknowledges the scepticism in financial circles that the $155 billion provided to Greece by the IMF and the EU last year will suffice to enable Greece to avoid default. The document predicts that the Greek economy will likely shrink by 3.75 per cent this year, making it even harder for the country to reduce its budget deficit as a percentage of its economy.


Three more countries, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, have recognized the Libyan rebel council based in Benghazi as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people during a transitional period toward democracy. The statement was issued in Brussels after representatives from the three countries met the Libyan rebels' diplomatic chief, Mahmoud Jibril of the Transitional National Council. The decision comes as Libyan forces tried to retake a village seized by rebels a week ago to deliver a setback to rebel plans for a march on the capital Tripoli. The fighting is in the village of Al-Qawalish, about 100 kilometres from the capital.



Montreal-based Transcontinental Printing, Canada's biggest commercial printer, will in the end acquire plants of its defunct former rival Quebecor World. Quad/Graphics of Wisconsin and Transcontinental have agreed to an exchange of assets that will leave six of Quebecor's printing plants in four provinces in Transcontinental's hands. Quad/Graphics bought Quebecor for US$1.3 billion last year. The Canadian firm had wanted to buy the plants while Quebecor was under creditor protection but was unable to because the properties in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America were being sold as a bloc, a state of affairs which has now changed. Quad/Graphics will acquire Transcontinental's profitable assets in Mexico. The transaction needs Canadian and Mexican regulatory approval.


Research in Motion Co-CEO Jim Balsillie sought to reassure shareholders at their annual meeting on Tuesday evening in Waterloo, ON. He told several hundred of them that although RIM faces challenges as it prepares to market a new operating system, the company's foundation is strong. In his remarks, Mr. Balsillie highlighted RIM's plan to launch seven new models of BlackBerry running its new operating system in coming months. The other co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis, said more than 1,500 government agencies and private companies are conducting tests on RIM's PlayBook tablet. In recent months, there as been criticism of RIM's management structure and relatively low stock price. The stock closed down .52 at $27 on Wednesday, down 1.89 per cent, compared with its all-time high of $140.




Baseball parks were dark Wednesday night, as the all-star break continues. The second half of the 2011 season kicks off Thursday with seven games. The Toronto Blue Jays have some work to do in order to get back in the mix for a wild-card spot. Toronto is two games under the .500 mark entering the opener of a four-game series with the New York Yankees.



British Columbia on Thursday: rain, high C17 Vancouver. Yukon, Nunavut: rain. Northwest Territories: sun. Whitehorse 18, Yellowknife 28, Iqaluit 8. Alberta: rain north, sunsouth. Saskatchewan: rain. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 21, Regina, Winnipeg 27. Ontario: sun south, rain north. Quebec: sun. Toronto, Ottawa 26, Montreal 27. Maritimes: mix sun cloud. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 23, Halifax 17, Charlottetown 15, St. John's 11.

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