Sunday, August 7, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

TUNNEL REOPENS TO TRAFFIC


A Montreal tunnel where huge slabs of concrete fell onto the roadway last weekend has reopened to traffic. The east-bound section of the Ville-Marie Expressway had been closed since last Sunday morning, when a section of the roof suddenly collapsed. Nobody was injured in the accident. Transport Quebec said the tunnel was given a final inspection by engineers before reopening two of the four lanes Saturday afternoon. Transport Quebec says the reopening will help ease traffic troubles as vacationers return to the city.

CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT WILL MOVE FORWARD


A drug company's effort to derail a Canadian class-action lawsuit linking two of its hormone replacement drugs to higher rates of breast cancer has failed. A British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled Friday that the class action can be certified and Canadian women can be represented in their efforts to get compensation. A lawyer for drug maker Wyeth Canada, which is owned by Pfizer, had argued there are too many individual circumstances among claimants and lumping them together into a class-action would be unwieldy.

TAMIL SHIP CREW MEMBER ISSUED DEPORTATION ORDER


An immigration adjudicator in British Columbia on Friday issued a deportation order for a crew member of a Tamil migrant ship that arrived in Canada last year. Michael McPhalen ruled that the crew member of the Sun Sea helped a human smuggling effort. Mr. McPhalen rejected the crew member's claim that he didn't know it was a human smuggling operation. The adjudicator also dismissed the federal government's attempt to deport a passenger aboard the ship. The government contended the man was helping the Tamil Tigers in a suicide bombing because one of his possessions was used in the attack. Mr. McPhalen, however, concluded there was no credible evidence the man knew he was helping the terrorist group. It's not clear what possession the man sold to the Tigers. That detail was censored from Friday's ruling.

GREENPEACE DISAPPOINTED WITH FINES


Greenpeace is condemning a fine given to seven activists Friday after they pled guilty to mischief in an incident that took place in August of last year. Greenpeace says $2,300 fines for each of the protesters were unfair. The activists slid down a rope from the top of the Calgary Tower--a manoeuvre known as rappelling--and draped a banner that said "Separate Oil And State" from the Tower's observation deck. Calgary Judge Allan Fradsham told the protesters he was satisfied they knew they were breaking the law. Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema says the group is disappointed the courts would prosecute people courageous enough to stand up to big oil companies. He also says that complaints have been filed with the Calgary Remand Centre and the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Greenpeace alleges the protesters were mistreated by guards who used threats of rape and beatings to try to intimidate them.

G-7 FINANCE OFFICIALS HOLD EMERGENCY CONFERENCE CALL


Financeofficials and ministersfrom Canada and the other Group of Seven nations held an emergency conference call on Saturday. They were discussing how to co-ordinate action between their countries' central banks following several days of market panic and a downgrade of the US credit rating on Friday. Standard & Poor's US credit rating downgrade--to Double-A-Plus from the top status of Triple-A--added to growing fears over debt levels and economic growth in the world's biggest economy and in large European nations, like Italy and Spain. The European Central Bank has so far been reluctant to intervene in the Italian and Spanish debt markets. Many investors have also been calling for support action from the US Federal Reserve.

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST CONTROVERSIAL COURT DECISION


Demonstrators gathered in cities across Quebec on Saturday to protest a jury's decision in the high-profile murder case of a man who stabbed his children to death. Former cardiologist Guy Turcotte stabbed his two young children 46 times while they were lying in their beds, but was found not criminally responsible for his actions in a verdict delivered last month. Protesters outside a Montreal courthouse said they were upset with the verdict and the justice system. They want stricter guidelines for when a not-criminally-responsible verdict can be rendered. Turcotte admitted to having caused the deaths in 2009 but denied criminal intent. He said he only remembered flashes of what happened that evening and couldn't explain why he killed his children.

ARCTIC MILITARY EXERCISE IN UNDERWAY


Canada's military has begun its annual Arctic exercise to improve its ability to operate in the region. A Canadian naval task force will be joined by elements of the army and air force, the Canadian Rangers, the US Coast Guard and the Danish navy. Operation Nanook was first conducted in 2007. Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the manoeuvres are an opportunity to enhance the military's presence in the High Arctic. And, it provides opportunities for military and civilian teams to operate and train in Canada's unique Arctic environment.


NORTH KOREA


A report by the Red Cross says over 4,700 homes in North Korea's impoverished southwestern region were destroyed or damaged by extensive flooding in late July. The report says more than 28,000 people in South Hwanghae province were affected by the flooding which was caused by torrential rains. There was no independent estimate of how many people died. North Korea has put the death toll at 26. The Red Cross says 96 people were injured. Heavy rainfall that recently pounded the Korean peninsula caused dozens of deaths in South Korea as well.

JAPAN


A moment of silence was observed Saturday in Hiroshima to mark the 66th anniversary of the world's first atomic attack. On Oct. 6, 1945, the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the city, destroying most of the city and killing up to 140,000 people. Unlike previous years, much attention was paid not to the question of nuclear weapons but nuclear power. In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on the northeast coast in March that caused radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant, polls show a growing number of Japanese want their country to move away from nuclear power. Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, repeated a pledge to reduce reliance on nuclear power at Saturday's ceremony.

CUBA


Cuba's Supreme Court has upheld a 15-year prison sentence imposed on a US contractor accused of crimes against the state. Sixty-two-year-old Alan Gross was convicted in March of distributing illegal communications equipment in Havana. He said he was just trying to help Cuba's small Jewish community and never intended to harm the Communist government. The case has brought a chill to US-Cuban relations after a brief warming under President Barack Obama. Mr. Gross was detained in December 2009 while working as a contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on a secretive program aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba.

VENEZUELA


 

The Venezuelan parliament was to hold a special session Saturday to authorise the departure of President Hugo Chavez for further cancer treatment in Cuba. He had surgery on the Caribbean island in June to remove a tumour and returned last month for chemotherapy treatment. The exact nature of his cancer has been left to speculation. Although Mr. Chavez says his treatment is going well, his illness has raised doubts as to whether he will be able to run for re-election in late 2012. The president turned 57 last week.

CHILE


It was a bittersweet anniversary on Friday for Chile's rescued miners. They were honoured as heroes in their hometown with a Catholic Mass and a museum inauguration recognizing their remarkable survival story. But the celebrations for "Los 33" were marred by anti-government protests. Students, teachers, environmentalists and other miners scuffled with police and tried to interrupt President Sebastian Pinera's events with the miners. Some even threw fruit and stones and accused the miners of being ungrateful for their rescue. Newspapers on Saturday called it a low blow, especially for the miners who are unemployed and suffering from mental problems.

LEBANON


Palestinian security officials said Saturday armed clashes between rival factions in Lebanon's largest refugee camp have killed one person and wounded two others. It was not immediately clear what sparked the shootout in the Ein el-Hilweh camp near the southern city of Sidon, where gunfights are common between armed groups jockeying for power. Saturday's confrontation involved Palestinian Islamist militants and gunmen from the mainstream Fatah faction. The officials said one gunman was killed and at least two people were wounded. Ein el-Hilweh is notorious for its lawlessness. Lebanese troops patrol the perimeters but have no jurisdiction inside.

YEMEN


Government forces and supporters of Yemen's most powerful tribe have clashed for a second consecutive day in the capital despite efforts to mediate an end to the fighting. Witnesses said heavy gunfire erupted Saturday in Sanaa's Hassaba district between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the al-Ahmar. The violence broke an overnight lull after similar clashes on Friday. Supporters of the ailing president and those loyal to the al-Ahmar clan have been locked in a tense standoff since late May when al-Ahmar's leader sided with the mass protests calling for Mr. Saleh's ouster.

LIBYA


Rebels on Saturday said they had launched a push to capture the coastal oil town of Brega. But they said they were advancing slowly because Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces have planted landmines on the approaches to the town. Fighting on the eastern front of the civil war has been bogged down for weeks on the fringes of Brega, southwest of the rebel capital, Benghazi. In other developments, the Gadhafi government denied a rebel report that a NATO air strike had killed the Libyan leader's son Khamis, commander of one of the government's most loyal and best-equipped units. A government spokesman said word of Khamis Gadhafi's death was a ploy to cover up a NATO strike that killed three civilians in Zlitan, a battlefront city where Col. Gadhafi's forces are trying to halt the rebel advance on Tripoli.

EGYPT


The Muslim Brotherhood movement, Egypt's largest political group, has held its first open internal election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Until Mr. Mubarak's fall, the Islamist group had been banned from public politics and its members and finances targeted by a constant security crackdown. Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said more than 100 members of the group's policy making body are electing three new members. He said Saturday's vote is proof Egypt "has changed." The policymaking body hadn't been able to convene in full since 1995 in fear of mass arrests. Despite the crackdown in the past, the group was able to field candidates in parliamentary elections as independents and proved to be the most organized political force during Mr. Mubarak's 30-year rule.

SYRIA


Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Saturday promised "free and fair" general elections by the end of the year. The four-year term of the current parliament expired earlier this year and President Bashar al-Assad is expected to set a date for new legislative elections before the end of 2011. Mr. Al-Moallem spoke during a meeting with Arab and foreign ambassadors in Damascus. He pledged to press ahead with reforms and said dialogue was the only way forward for Syrians. The announcement came as the Syrian military tightened its suffocating siege on the city of Hama and activists said security forces killed at least 24 civilians on Friday in Mr. al-Assad's nationwide crackdown on anti-government protesters.

AFGHANISTAN


Officials said Saturday a NATO helicopter crash killed 31 US Special Forces troops and seven Afghan soldiers. It was the largest number of coalition forces killed in a single incident since the war began. A US official said the helicopter was apparently shot down by insurgents. The Taliban claimed responsibility

UNITED STATES


The US has acknowledged it must do better in tackling its pressing economic challenges. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Saturday that talks of raising the US debt ceiling in order to avoid a default had taken too long and been too divisive. The statement came a day after the credit rating agency Standard and Poor's downgraded the US's top-notch AAA rating to AA-plus. The US uncertainty led to a week of turmoil on the world financial markets. Also on Saturday, central bankers and finance ministers from Canada and the other Group of Seven nations held an emergency conference call to discuss co-ordinated action between their countries' central banks in the wake of this week's market panic. The European Central Bank has so far been reluctant to intervene in the Italian and Spanish debt markets. Many investors have also been calling for support action from the US Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, China has condemned the US for its inability to deal with its debt and on Saturday the official Xinhua news agency said Beijing had every right to demand that Washington address it's structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's US dollar assets. It also called for a new stable global reserve currency to replace the US dollar. China is the single biggest holder of US debt.

UNITED STATES


The Army said Saturday the alleged ringleader of detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq had been released from prison. Officials said 42-year-old Charles Graner Jr. was released from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., around 10 am after serving more than 6 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence. Steed said Graner will be under the supervision of a probation officer until Dec. 25, 2014. Graner was an Army Reserve corporal from Uniontown, Pa., when he and six other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were charged in 2004 with abusing detainees at the prison in Iraq. The strongest evidence was photographs of grinning US soldiers posing beside naked detainees stacked in a pyramid or held on a leash.

TIBET


A Tibetan exiles leader was detained by Nepal police on Friday after holding a news conference to deny allegations of involvement in a case involving false passports. Supporters said Thinlay Lama, head of the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, was held for eight hours on Friday following the conference. The briefing was called by the group to deny allegations it had been involved in a case involving two Tibetans who were arrested on accusations of attempting to travel to the United States from Nepal on false passports. Kedar Rijal, the chief of Kathmandu Police, said Lama had been questioned about the passport case and later released. But the International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement that Lama's detention came amid "an atmosphere of continued insecurity for Tibetans due to the Chinese government's influence on the Nepalese authorities." Thousands of Tibetan refugees fled over the border into Nepal after the March 10, 1959 uprising, which forced their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama into exile. But in recent years Nepal, which is home to around 20,000 Tibetans, has come under intense pressure from Beijing over the exiles, and has repeatedly said it will not tolerate what it calls "anti-China activities". Rights groups have frequently criticised the treatment of Tibetans by Nepalese authorities, and last month Tibetans were prevented from celebrating the 76th birthday of the Dalai Lama.

CHINA


Chinese authorities have evacuated more than 500,000 people from its east coast, as the area braces for its most powerful typhoon in years. Authorities now say Typhoon Muifa is expected to bypass the city of Shanghai and instead move north towards Shandong province. Typhoon Muifa is packing winds of up to 144 kilometres per hour. More than 7,000 fishing vessels have been called to harbour. The storm has already battered the Philippines - where it caused flooding - and both Taiwan and Japan's southern island of Okinawa were hit by blackouts.


SPORTS


MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Friday's result: Toronto defeated Baltimore 5-4. Rookie phenom Brett Lawrie, playing his first game in the Majors, went 2-for-4 with one RBI.

CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Friday's results: Winnipeg defeated Edmonton 28-16 and British Columbia defeated Saskatchewan 24-11.


SUNDAY'S FORECASTS


Vancouver is sunny with a forecast high temperature of 23 degrees Celsius. Calgary has a mix of sun and cloud with a chance of showers, a forecast high of 20. Regina is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of 21. Winnipeg is sunny with a high of 29. Toronto has showers and a high of 28. Ottawa and Montreal are cloudy with a chance of showers, highs of 22. Fredericton is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of 29. Charlottetown is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of 23. Halifax has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of 26. St. John's is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of 11. Whitehorse has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of 19. Yellowknife is sunny, a high of 27. Iqaluit is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of nine.