Sunday, August 28, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

JACK LAYTON'S LIFE CELEBRATED AT STATE FUNERAL


 

A state funeral was held in Toronto today for Jack Layton, the late leader of Canada's main opposition New Democratic Party. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a host of dignitaries as well as hundreds of members of the public. Mr. Layton died Monday of cancer at the age of 61. His N-D-P party became the official opposition in the House of Commons after the historic May 2nd federal election in which his party won a majority of seats in the province of Quebec. Mr. Layton had led the New Democrats for the past eight years. In the past several days, tens of thousands of people had filed past his casket in the House of Commons in Ottawa and then later at Toronto City Hall. In a letter written to Canadians on his deathbed, Mr. Layton had called on members of his party to remain committed to their "proud history of social justice", universal healthcare and public pensions. And to young Canadians, he spoke of his belief in their power to change Canada and the world.

 

HARPER TO ATTEND GLOBAL TALKS ON LIBYA NEXT WEEK


Prime Minister Stephen Harper will go to Paris next week for an international meeting on the future of Libya. The meeting is being hosted by Britain and France and will be attended by leaders from Russia, China and several dozen other nations. Prime Minister Harper says there are many hurdles ahead, but he is optimistic about the future of Libya. It will be the sirst such meeting since the start of NATO military action in Libya which was led by a Canadian general. NATO is operating under a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at protecting libyan civilians.

CANADA CONDEMNS ATTACK ON U.N. IN NIGERIA


Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister has strongly condemned Friday's terrorist attack against the United Nations offices in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. John Baird offered Canada's sympathies to the victims and their families and added that such an attack is totally unacceptable. The suicide bombing at U.N. headquarters in Abuja killed 18 people. It was one of the deadliest assaults on the world body in a decade and was claimed by a Muslim sect known as Boko Haram. Security has been tightened in the the capital and Nigerian President Goodluck Johnathan has pledged to bring terrorism under control.

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CANADA CELEBRATES LIFE OF LATE OPPOSITION LEADER AT STATE FUNERAL


A week of mourning for late Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton culminated on Saturday with a state funeral in Toronto, Ontario. The ceremony took place at Roy Thomson Hall where hundreds of people joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a long lineup of dignitaries, pop stars and politicians to pay their final respects. Stephen Lewis, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, was among those who eulogized Mr. Layton. Thousands of people watched the funeral on wide screens set in downtown Toronto for the occasion.Mr. Layton's sudden death from cancer at age 61 has gripped the country since his passing on Monday. His NDP party became the official opposition in the House of Commons after the historic May 2nd federal election. His party won a majority of seats in the province of Quebec and reduced the Bloc Quebecois, a party that seeks soveriegnty from Canada, from 47 to just 4 seats. Mr. Layton had led the NDP for the past eight years.

CANADA BRACES FOR STORM


Hurricane Irene battered the North Carolina coaston Saturdaywreaking havoc as it began a potentially catastrophic run up the U.S. East Coast. At least one death has been reported in North Carolina and more than two million people were told to leave their homes. The massive storm is expected to bring heavy rain and the potential for hurricane force wind gusts when it reaches eastern Canada on Sunday. Scores of flights at Canadian airports arriving from and heading to the American east coast have been cancelled due to the storm.

CANADA CONDEMS ATTACK ON U.N. IN NIGERIA


Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister has strongly condemned Friday's terrorist attack against the United Nations offices in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. John Baird offered Canada's sympathies to the victims and their families. He added that such an attack is unacceptable. The suicide bombing at U.N. headquarters in Abuja killed 18 people. It was one of the deadliest assaults on the world body in a decade. A Muslim sect known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility. Security has been tightened in the the capital and Nigerian President Goodluck Johnathan has pledged to bring terrorism under control.

HARPER TO ATTEND GLOBAL TALKS ON LIBYA NEXT WEEK


Prime Minister Stephen Harper will go to Paris next week for an international meeting on the future of Libya. The meeting is being hosted by Britain and France and will be attended by leaders from Russia, China and several dozen other nations. Prime Minister Harper says there are many hurdles ahead, but he is optimistic about the future of Libya. It will be the first such meeting since the start of NATO military action in Libya which was led by a Canadian general. NATO is operating under a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at protecting libyan civilians.

B.C. REJECTS TAX


Residents of the west coast Canadian province of British Columbia voted to scrap that province's controversial Harmonized Sales Tax on Friday. But business groups and analysts say bitter debate over the tax will likely continue. It's still not clear when the tax will be axed, or what will replace it. The B.C. government now has to repay the federal government the nearly $2-billion given to introduce the HST. Some business leaders don't want to return to the old provincial and federal tax system because they say it creates barriers to competition. The provincial government says the loss of the HST will mean that its deficit for this year will rise from $925 million to almost $3 billion and that this will automatically lead to cuts to government programs and a long period of budget deficits.


LIBYA


Libyan rebel leaders have announced measures to deal with shortages of water, fuel and medicine in Tripoli, which the U.N. has warned is threatening lives. The National Transitional Council is promising that diesel fuel to restore electricity and water supplies will arrive in the city Sunday. But he warned residents not to expect miracles after what he described as such a swift victory against Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's forces. Late Friday, the rebels took control on the main border crossing with Tunisia, opening a path for humanitarian supplies to enter Libya. There are reports of Gadhafi loyaliss firing rockets at the coastal road to the border.Meanwhile, Colonel Gadhafi's supporters are continuing to hold out in pockets in Tripoli and Sirte, his hometown. NATO aircraft carried out a number of strikes on both cities overnight.

 

SYRIA


Syrian security forces have fanned out in flashpoint cities across the country to crush protests against President Bashar al-Assad. Sporadic shooting is also reported. The military operations come a day after Syrian security forces killed at least two people as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters flooded the streets on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Meantime a U.N. investigative team has wrapped up its visit to Syria, concluding that "there is an urgent need to protect civilians" from excessive force. It added there is no nationwide humanitarian crisis. The U.N. says more than 2,200 people have been killed since the violence broke out in March. The U.N. Security Council is split over whether to impose sanctions against Syria's leadership over the crackdown.

AFGHANISTAN


 

At least four people have been killed and many others injured in two suicide car bombings in southern Afghanistan. The first blast happened outside a bank in Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, where workers were collecting salaries. Police, soldiers and government workers were among the victims. That incident was followed by another blast in Kandahar city, where a bomber detonated explosives inside a vehicle after shot at by police manning a checkpoing.

IRAQ


A collision between a passenger bus and a car in northern Iraq has killed 27 people. Officials say the bus was travelling from Baghdad to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, but apparently got lost and ended up on a small side road outside Kirkuk, where the accident happened. All 24 people on the bus lost their lives. The other three victims were passengers in the car.

ALGERIA


A suicide bomb attack on a military academy in Algeria has killed 18 people. The attack took place Friday after the breaking of the Ramadan fast, in the town of Cherchell, about 100 kilometres west of the capital Algiers. No one has claimed responsibility. The attack comes 12 days after a suicide car bombing of a police station in Tizi Ouzu wounded 29 people. That attack was claimed by the Islamist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is active in the region.

UNITED STATES


Hurricane Irene has slammed into the North Carolina coast in the eastern U.S. The National Hurricane Center says the storm is packing winds of 140 kilometres an hour but has lost some strength and been downgraded to a Category One storm. More than two million people have been ordered to leave their homes ahead of the storm. A quarter of a million of them are in low-lying parts of New York City where authorities are taking the unprecedented measures of closing the public transit system and the city's five main airports at noon local time. A number of east coast states have declared emergencies. The storm is expected to affect Atlantic Canada and parts of eastern Quebec on Sunday but by then forecasters say Irene will have become a tropical storm.

AZERBAIJAN


A lawyer says a human rights activist has been sentenced to three years in prison for interfering in parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Khalid Bagirov said a district court in Baku, the capital, found his client Vivadi Iskenderov guilty of "interfering in an election campaign." He described the verdict as "unfair" and said he would appeal. Mr. Iskenderov was arrested in April during an opposition rally in Baku. He told the court that he is being persecuted for reporting vote rigging in Azerbaijan's 2010 parliamentary election.

ABKHAZIA


The vice president of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, has won the presidential race in the breakaway Georgian region. According to the Central Election Commission, Mr. Ankvab won 54.86 percent of the votes in Friday's poll. His first comment was that his government would maintain its strategic alliance with Moscow and would work to develop it further. The runners-up were Prime Minister Sergei Shamba and former KGB agent Raul Khadzhimba, the strongest critic of Abkhazia's growing dependence on Russia. Georgia has described the election as illegitimate. THe poll was called after the death of President Sergei Basgapsh in May.

SINGAPORE


For the first time in almost 20 years, voters in the city-state of Singapore voted to choose their next president. The poll is seen as a test of support for the People's Action Party, which which has been in power since independence in l959. Four candidates -- all of them formerly associated with the government or civil service during their careers -- are running as individuals in the non-partisan contest, where there are around 2.3 million eligible voters. The poll follows a heated campaign marked by growing public discontent over the cost of living, immigration policies and the high salaries of government officials. All four candidates share the same surname, Tan. One of them, Tan Kin Lian, has offered to donate at least half of the presidential salary to charity.

NORTH KOREA


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ended a short trip to northeastern China during which he renewed a push to restart talks on swapping aid for his country's nuclear disarmament. The official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday that Kim had concluded his visit, which came after he made an official visit early this week to Russia. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reports that Mr. Kim says he is willing to impose a nuclear test and production moratorium and return to international talks on Pyongyang's atomic program without preconditions. That echoes a commitment made earlier in the week in a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a Siberian city.

CHINA


China is considering changes to its criminal law that human rights activists say would effectively legalize the forced disappearance of dissidents. This week, China's official Legal Daily announced proposed amendments to "residential surveillance" laws, or what is known as a form of house arrest. They would allow police to hold suspects in secret locations in cases involving national security, terrorism or major corruption. Dozens of lawyers and activists, including prominent artist Ai Weiwei, have been "disappeared" or detained by police in recent months in China's toughest crackdown on dissent in years. Ai was released in June after three months' detention on tax evasion charges, but was then barred from leaving Beijing for a year.

 

 

LIBYA


The Arab League has restored Libya's membership in the bloc, turning over the country's seat to the rebels' political leadership. The 22-member League had suspended Libya's membership in February to protest Moammar Gadhafi's crackdown on protesters. At a Friday League session, the bloc's chief, Nabil Elaraby, called on Arab countries to release Libyan assets in Arab banks to support the rebels' National Transitional Council. Mahmoud Jibril, who led the Libyan delegation, praised the Arab League position against Gadhafi and urged the Arabs to help rebuild and stabilize his country. Outside the Arab League building in Cairo, a man replaced Gadhafi's green flag with the rebels' flag beside the other members' flags.

SYRIA


Syria's closest ally, Iran, warned Saturday that a power vacuum in Damascus could spark an unprecedented regional crisis. Iran also urged Syrian president Bashar Assad to listen to some of his people's demands. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters insisted they will defy tanks and bullets until Assad goes. The 5-month-old uprising in Syria has left Assad with few international allies. The U.N. says more than 2,200 people have been killed since the violence broke out in March. The U.N. Security Council is split over whether to impose sanctions against Syria's leadership over the crackdown.

PAKISTAN


U.S. and Pakistani officials said Saturday that al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan. A Libyan national, Mr. al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organization, trusted by Mr. bin Laden to oversee al-Qaeda's daily operations. A Pakistani intelligence official said al-Rahman died in a U.S. missile strike in Machi Khel village in North Waziristan on Aug. 22. Since U.S. Navy SEALS killed al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden in May, the United States has been unusually frank in its assessment that al-Qaeda is on the ropes and that its leadership is in disarray. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that al-Qaeda's defeat was within reach if the U.S. could mount a string of successful attacks.

INDIA


India's parliament has expressed nonbinding support for anti-corruption proposals that it hopes will persuade a reform activist to end his 11-day hunger strike. The country's finance minister has told Parliament that after a nearly nine-hour debate there is support for a series of changes demanded by Anna Hazare. Supporters of Hazare had wanted a vote on the proposals but appear satisfied with the minister's statement. However, his aides said the 74-year-old activist was unlikely to end his hunger strike before Sunday morning.

SINGAPORE


For the first time in almost 20 years, people in Singapore voted to choose their next president. The country's election authority said early Sunday local time that former deputy prime minister Tony Tan was elected as the city-state's seventh president. The poll is seen as a test of support for the People's Action Party, which has been in power since independence in 1959. Four candidates, all of them formerly associated with the government or civil service during their careers, were running as individuals in the non-partisan contest. There were around 2.3 million eligible voters. The poll followed a heated campaign marked by growing public discontent over the cost of living, immigration policies and the high salaries of government officials.

GEORGIA


The vice president of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab, has won the presidential race in the breakaway Georgian region. According to the Central Election Commission, Mr. Ankvab won 54.86 percent of the votes in Friday's poll. His first comment was that his government would maintain its strategic alliance with Moscow and would work to develop it further. The runners-up were Prime Minister Sergei Shamba and former KGB agent Raul Khadzhimba, the strongest critic of Abkhazia's growing dependence on Russia. Georgia has described the election as illegitimate. The poll was called after the death of President Sergei Basgapsh in May.


ALBERTA ENERGY REGULATORS OKAY RESTART OF RAINBOW PIPELINE


Alberta?s energy regulator has given the okay to restart a pipeline that spilled millions of litres of oil in the province?s North in April. The regulators said that the Calgary-based company responsible for the pipeline, Plains Midstream, has completed the cleanup and reviews and can safely operate the pipeline with some restrictions. The company now has to submit monthly progress reports and attend meetings with the Energy Resources Conservation Board to ensure it complies with regulatory requirements. The rupture of 4.5 million litres of oil from the 44-year-old Rainbow pipeline was the largest in over 35 years.


SPORTS


In Canadian football, the Montreal Alouettes face off against the Calgary Stampeders in Alberta on Saturday.


WEATHER


Canada?s weather for Sunday. In the Canadian North, rainy in Yukon with 11 C in Whitehorse. Sunny in the Northwest Territories with a high of 19 C in Yellowknife. Rainy in Nunavut and 9 C in Iqaluit. Sunny across British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan with highs of 24 C in Vancouver, Edmonton and Regina. Risk of thunderstorms in Manitoba and 28 C in Winnipeg. Sunny across Ontario and 24 C in Toronto. Heavy rain and risk of thunderstorms across Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Temperatures of 18 C in Montreal, 20 C in Fredericton and Halifax, 21 C in Charlottetown and 23 C in St. John?s.