Friday, July 15, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

LIBYAN LEADER REPORTED ORDERING BURNT EARTH POLICY


The Canadian general commanding NATO's air war against Libya says the country's leader has ordered his forces to destroy facilities including oil refineries as they retreat before insurgents. But Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard says this doesn't mean Moammar Gadhafi's soldiers are obeying the orders because in fact his troops regularly abandon their posts. Meanwhile, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay has rejected the suggestion that the struggle between Gadhafi and the rebels has reached a stalemate. He concedes the NATO mission to protect Libyan civilians is "a complex and involved affair." Mr. MacKay is visiting Canadian military personnel taking part in the mission from a base in Italy. In another development, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird flew to Turkey for a meeting of countries comprising the Contact Group on Libya that is planning for that country's future when Gadhafi is no longer leader.

CANADA-EU TRADE PACT HITS SNAGS


There's a report that negotiations between Canada and the European Union on a free-trade accord are stalled over a range of disagreements. The Reuters news agency cites the Canada Europe Round Table for Business lobby as saying that European national governments have been unable to decide which services would be exempt from Canadian competition. National governments have a veto over decisions by the European Commission. Other unnamed sources have told the agency that there also is disagreement about guarantees for Canadian investment in Europe, as well as European investment in Canada, particularly in energy and mining. Both parties had expressed optimism that a deal could be reached this year, an outcome that now seems unlikely.

ONTARIO GREEN PROGRAM AGAIN IN NAFTA CHALLENGE


Ontario's Green Energy Act is for the second time under attack as being in violation of the North American Free Trade Accord. Mesa Power Group, a Texas-based renewable energy company, says it a filed a notice with the Canadian government of its intention to file a complaint. Under the Green Energy Act, the province pays above-market rates to producers of renewable energy from such sources as the sun and wind under 20-year contracts. Mesa claims two of its proposed wind projects in western Ontario were high up on an approval list in December. But on June 3, the province changed the rules by enlarging the area under consideration. According to the company, almost 40 per cent of the megawatts awarded went to projects in the enlarged area. Mesa's own projects weren't approved. Mesa also objects to a requirement that 60 per cent of equipment used in installations for such projects be made in Ontario. Japan has filed its own complaint that the Green Energy Act violates NAFTA.

DECREPIT MONTREAL BRIDGE SEEN AS INTERNATIONAL ISSUE


Canada's opposition Liberal Party predicts that the decrepit state of the Champlain Bridge at Montreal will turn into an international controversy. Party interim leader Bob Rae says this is because the bridge is an international artery between Canada and the U.S. Mr. Rae has called on the federal government to be more transparent about the safety of the Champlain. The Liberal leader made his remarks after the government released a report on the condition of the structure which it has previously refused to make public. It contained pre-feasibility studies indicating that a new bridge would cost $1.3 billion or a $1.9-billion tunnel. The bridge spans the St. Lawrence River and is a two-hour drive from the border. The federal government owns and operates the Champlain Bridge.


LIBYA


The Libyan government says an attack against the eastern oil city of Brega has been repelled. The government says NATO attacked Brega by air and insurgents on the ground. The government says that although its adversaries suffered defeat, the close combat co-ordination by rebels and NATO is a dangerous development.

SYRIA


Syrians took part in a general strike on Thursday prior to the usual weekly protests against the government after Friday prayers in mosques. Activists have told the Associated Press news agency that the strikes on Thursday were the most widespread. There were no independent observers to assess the success of the strike, but activists told the agency they were most widely followed in the cities of Homs, Deir el-Zour, the Damascus suburb of Douma and towns in northern and southern Syria. The sources also report that two people were killed when security forces opened fire from cars on thousands of demonstrators in Deir el-Zour. Two others died in Homs.

RUSSIA


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the city of Kazan on Thursday, from where a doomed riverboat sailed on Monday. The death toll from Russia's worst river accident in 30 years stands at 113, including about 30 children. Twenty passengers are missing and presumed dead. The 79-metre river cruiser built in 1955 sank on the Volga in a thunderstorm. Mr. Putin has ordered law enforcement agencies to investigate the disaster and has had the director of the company that leased the vessel arrested, saying the accident was due to irresponsibility and greed. Prosecutors say the boat didn't have a license to carry passengers.

UNITED STATES


The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it will probe an allegation that journalists working for media baron Rupert Murdoch's New Corp. tried to hack into telephone records of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.The FBI says it will look into allegations raised on Wednesday by a U.S. congressman from New York. He based them on a report on Monday by the London Daily Mirror, which claimed that journalists for News of the World offered to pay a former New York police officer to retrieve the private phone records of Sept. 11 victims. News of the World is said to have sought details of the calls they made or received before the attacks.

VENEZUELA


A Venezuelan court has sentenced opposition politician Oswaldo Alvarez to two years in prison for disseminating false information during a television show in March 2010. Prosecutors say Alvarez, a former governor of Zulia state, was convicted for saying that Venezuela had become a drug trafficking centre. Prosecutors had accused Alvarez of the crimes of instigating hatred and providing false information. Alvarez denied committing any crime and said his lawyers will appeal the ruling. Alvarez was governor of Zulia between 1990 and 1993 and ran for president in 1993. In recent years he has become one of the biggest critics of the government of leftist President Hugo Chavez.

CHINA


China's dissident artist Ai Weiwei says he has accepted a job at an art university in Germany. He made the announcement Thursday in Beijing as he prepares to challenge charges of massive tax evasion. Mr. Wei was recently released after nearly three months in police detention. The 54-year-old outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party says he's pleased about his new position at the Berlin University of the Arts. However, he did say that it was not clear when he would be able to leave China and go to Berlin. The artist was detained in April during a major government crackdown on dissidents in China.

IRELAND


Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has criticized the "absolutely disgraceful" attitude of the Roman Catholic Church in another clerical child abuse scandal. He was reacting to the release of a report on Wednesday on how the Church handled complaints of sex abuse in the rural diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2009. Some 40 victims identified in the investigation said they felt after their meeting with high Church officials that they were concerned only with the protection of the institution. The report also says the offenders did not appear to have suffered any sanctions.


SHIPYARD MAY GET NEW LEASE ON LIFE


Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin has announced it has entered into a consortium with potential buyers of shipbuilder Davie Yards of Quebec. SNC-Lavalin says its partners in the consortium, Upper Lakes Group and Daewoo of South Korea, want to acquire Davie's assets. The consortium was created to bid on $35 billion worth of federal shipbuilding contracts. Davie has been under bankruptcy protection since February 2010. Negotiations with a potential Italian buyer broke down on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Davie says the company is determining whether an exclusivity clause with the Italian firm has expired, enabling Davie to pursue new buyers. Other firms in the running for the contracts to build navy warships, coast guard cutters and other vessels are Irving Shipbuilding Inc. of Halifax, NS and Seaspan Marine Inc. of British Columbia.

MARKETS


TSX on Thursday: 13,253 + 72. Dollar: US$1.04. Euro: $1.35. Oil: $95.77 - $2.28.


SPORTS


FOOTBALL

There was an early start to this week's Canadian Football League action with one game Thursday night. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosted the Calgary Stampeders looking to improve to 3-and-0. The Stampeders beat B.C. 34-32 win last week.


WEATHER


British Columbia on Friday: rain, high C17 Vancouver.Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 17, Yellowknife 21, Iqaluit 7. Alberta: rain north, sun south. Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 18, Regina 24, Winnipeg 28. Ontario: sun south, rain north. Quebec: sun. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal 28. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 24, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 14, St. John's 17.