Friday, August 5, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 4 August 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


The governments of Canada and the three Prairie provinces have announced that farmers will receive $448 million in aid to help them deal with this year's disastrous floods. The farmers will receive $30 an acre for land that couldn't be seeded by June 20 or which was seeded and then flooded out by the end of July. Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says it has been a "remarkably tough year" for the farmers and that 5.6 million hectares may have been affected. In Saskatchewan, the province's watershed authority warned months ago that there was a likelihood of flooding from spring snow melting. The melt was followed by heavy rains. Manitoba's largest farm organization said last month that losses from spring floods are staggering.


Canada's environment department will cut or reassign about 750 of its employees, or about 10 per cent of its workforce. The move is aimed at helping to reduce the federal budget deficit. Officials also say the department wants to ensure it's best using its resources for priorities like improving air and water quality. Employees affected include engineers, meteorologists, scientists, chemists and biologists. The Union of Environment Workers says that meteorology, water monitoring and the enforcement of regulations will deteriorate. And the Sierra Club of Canada accuses the government of pandering to polluters who prefer a toothless Environment Canada that lacks scientific and enforcement capability. The federal deficit is estimated at $32 billion this year. The Conservative Party government wants to balance its books by the 2014-15 fiscal year.


The Canadian government is going to spend $2 million to create a new agency with 8,000 employees whose job will be to streamline its vast but disorganized information technology systems. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says Shared Services Canada will be more efficient and secure and will save money. Treasury Board President Tony Clement estimates the savings as between $100 million and $200 million. At present, the government uses more than 100 email formats, 300 data centres and more than 3,000 overlapping electronic systems. Last year, the federal auditor general reported that the government's aging IT systems had turned into a serious problem, complaining as well that they were underfunded. Both Mr. Clement and Mrs. Ambrose claim that Shared Services Canada won't have a net cost.


Convicted Canadian war criminal Omar Khadr has unexpectedly fired his two Canadian lawyers. The reason for his dismissal of Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling is unknown. They had long championed Khadr's cause and won several legal battles in Canada on his behalf. They succeeded in having the courts declare that the Canadian government had violated his rights and also demanded repeatedly that the Harper government repatriate him. The 24-year-old Khadr was convicted last October by a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo, Cuba. As part of a plea deal, he is to be returned to Canada to serve out the remainder of an eight-year jail term.


The premier of Canada's province of Quebec, Jean Charest, is supporting his transport minister's handling of an infrastructure crisis. Mr. Charest acknowledges that Sam Hamad has had a difficult job reassuring the public after a collapse in a major downtown Montreal tunnel. Mr. Hamad has also had other complex issues to handle, as several important pieces of infrastructure are either closed or the subject of structural concerns. Mr. Charest says people are understandably worried but that the minister is doing his best. No one was injured after a 15-metre piece of cement fell on a roadway that is used by thousands of people a day. Mr. Hamad was ridiculed for saying Quebecers can have faith that, if a road is open, it's safe.


Ten of the 53 people sent to hospital after a hayride accident 150 kilometres southwest of Montreal were still there on Thursday morning. Three of the 10 children involved in the accident are in intensive care at University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre but their injuries aren't considering life-threatening. The accident occurred when a trailer being pulled by a tractor flipped over. Police are investigating and haven't ruled out criminal charges.


It has been nearly a month since a medical doctor in Quebec who killed his two children was found not criminally responsible. The public outcry over the verdict is still strong. That anger will be on display this weekend, as people demonstrate at 14 cities across the province on Saturday. They are protesting against a jury's decision in the murder case of Guy Turcotte, a former cardiologist who admitted to fatally stabbing his children. But Turcotte says he never actually planned to kill them and cannot recall committing the act. He says he was so distraught over the fact that his wife had left him for another man that he wanted to die. The prosecution will appeal the verdict. The prosecution argues that the judge erred in his instructions to the jury and it has asked the Quebec Court of Appeal to hear the case.



North American markets plunged on Thursday amid investor fears of a new recession. The Toronto Stock Exchange dropped to 12,380, a loss of 436. The Dow Jones Industrial Averged plunged 513 points to 11,384, its worst one-day drop since October 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis. Markets around the world have becme nervous over fiscal weakness in Italy and Spain and the concern over the eurozone's ability to contain more crises. There's also worry about weak economic performance in the U.S. Last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported that weekly unemployment insurance claims remained high at 400,000.


Witnesses and activists report that the Syrian security forces killed at least 37 people on Wednesday. Thirty died in the northwestern city of Hama when the army shelled the city. Machinegun fire was heard in Hama on Thursday. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decreed a new law legalizing political parties. His own Baath Party has run Syria since 1963. Activists dismissed the decree as a trick and say only constitutional change can lead to democracy. Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said a sad fate awaits Mr. al-Assad unless he consents to reforms. In Washington, the U.S. government froze the assets of Mohammad Hamsho, a prominent businessman and a close associate of the al-Assad family. And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington believed the Syrian government was responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in its crackdown on peaceful protests.


The Italian coast guard has rescued more than 300 dehydrated refugees trying to flee Libya. Their 30-metre boat was spotted 160 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, in the middle of the Mediterranean. Survivors said about 100 others had died or starved to death and had been thrown overboard. Tens of thousands of African migrant workers from Libya have landed on Lampedusa in recent weeks.


The UN says that three of its peacekeeping soldiers in Sudan died after that country's government refused to allow a helicopter to fly them to treatment. The UN says the soldiers were part of the 4,200-member contingent of Ethiopian soldiers mandated to keep the peace in the disputed central region of Abyei. The world body says a convoy of troops hit a landmine, killing one soldier outright and injuring three others who died three hours later. The UN says Sudan threatened to shoot down any helicopter sent to fetch the wounded Ethiopians.


Turkey has named four new generals to lead its armed forces in a move seen as consolidating civilian control of the military, after the previous four generals resigned last week in protest against the jailing of officers in coup conspiracy cases. General Necdet Ozel, previously head of the paramilitary gendarmerie, was named as new chief of general staff for the second-largest armed forces in NATO. The surprise departure last Friday of Gen. Ozel's predecessor, Isik Kosaner, and the heads of the army, navy and air force, brought to the surface years of tension between the secularist military and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whose party emerged from a banned Islamist party more than a decade ago.


Nine Mexican polling company employees have been released, several days after they were kidnapped in a western region known for its drug-cartel violence. The polling firm Parametria said its three employees were released Tuesday morning in the area near the city of Apatzingan, where they disappeared. No one has said who is responsible for seizing theM. Michoacan state Public Safety Secretary Manuel Garcia Ruiz stressed that none of the workers were beaten and no ransom demand was made for any of them.


China's government says it will show no leniency to those who get involved in terrorist activities. Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu made the comment Thursday. It is the most the most senior official statement since deadly attacks occurred in China's western Xinjiang region last weekend. Ethnic Uighurs attacked a restaurant in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar, killed the owner and a waiter and then hacked four people to death on a nearby street. State media says at least 14 were killed and 42 injured in two separate incidents on Saturday and Sunday in the city. China has blamed the killings on Islamic militants.



General Motors Corp. has announced it will invest $117 million to ready its plant in Oshawa, ON, east of Toronto to build its new Cadillac XTS model starting next year. GM says the decision will create or preserve 500 jobs at its Canadian headquarters. The Oshawa plant employs 4,500 workers. Canadian Auto Workers union President Ken Lewenza expressed pleasure with the announcement but said that the addition of new jobs will depend on the market success of the new luxury model.


Canada's biggest and second-biggest airlines say they improved second-quarter results despite soaring fuel costs. Air Canada says it reduced its loss to $46 million, after a $318-million loss 12 months earlier. CEO Calin Rovinescu attributes the outcome to a "disciplined approach to capacity management." The airline's main rival WestJet reports a tripled second-quarter profit of $25.6 million. Both companies have imposed higher fares to offset higher costs. The cost of jet fuel has increased by 40 per cent in the past year. In another development, the U.S. transportation department has fined Air Canada $50,000 for false advertising. The fine was imposed because the airline displayed ads on its websites that didn't disclose taxes and fees tacked onto advertised fares in early 2001.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says her department is still studying whether to grant a license for a Canadian pipeline extension but will make a decision before the end of the year. TransCanada Pipeline Corp. wants to spend $7 billion on the XL Keystone project to extend an existing line from the U.S. to reach refineries in Texas. The pipeline conveys crude oil from Alberta's oilsands. Supporters of the project say it will bring secure oil supplies to the U.S., while critics complain that the pipeline would be dangerous and that the project would worsen reliance on carbons when the U.S. is trying to turn to greener sources of energy. Mrs. Clinton spoke in Washington at a joint news conference with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.


TSX on Thursday: 12,380 - 436. Dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.38. Oil: $86.46 - $5.47.




Canadian soccer team coach Stephen Hart says Puerto Rico may be

the most difficult team Canada will face in the first round of

qualifying games for the 2014 World Cup.

Hart says Puerto Rico is the team that has played together

longest and has proven to be tough to beat in the past.

The coach also says it's a good idea that Canada plays all three

of its home qualifying games at Toronto's BMO Field.

Besides Puerto Rico, Canada will play St. Lucia and St. Kitts and

Nevis in the qualifying round.

The winner of the group advances to the third round of World Cup

qualifying in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and

the Caribbean.



British Columbia on Friday: rain north, mix sun cloud south, high C22 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 19, Yellowknife 23, Iqaluit 11. Alberta: rain. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 26, Regina 23, Winnipeg 29. Ontario, Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal 29. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 23, Halifax, Charlottetown 19, St. John's 15.

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