Thursday, August 18, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


Canada's chief electoral officer says he's committed to obtaining approval for Internet voting in a federal byelection after 2013. In his report on the May 2 election, Marc Mayrand says Elections Canada also wants to expand other services offered online, including voter registration. The report says that the rigidity of the voting process is not only an inconvenience but is also expensive and sometimes inefficient. Mr. Mayrand reports as well that there's no evidence of widespread flouing of a rule that forbids publication of election results in areas where the polls are still open. A social media campaign on election day encouraged voters to ignore the rule on the grounds that the Internet makes such a ban obsolete.


The Canadian government says it has earmarked funds for groups trying to alleviate famine in East Africa. The government has given $8.5 million to three groups that are part of a five-group coalition. The groups are CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada and Plan Canada. They money is part of the $50 million more in aid which the government announced for East Africa last month. The coalition has already raised $6.5 million in direct donations from individual Canadians. The government has pledged to match dollar-for-dollar any such donations.


Police in Canada's west coast city of Vancouver have rejected unfavourable comparisons between the aftermath of the hockey riot there two months ago and the aftermath of violence in London and elsewhere in England this month. British police have laid 1,000 charges. No one has been charged in Vancouver, not even the 41 rioters who turned themselves in. The Vancouver police point out that their British counterparts have far more legal power to charge people. The Canadians also say the British make heavy use of closed-circuit TV cameras to monitor neighbourhoods, a practice almost unknown in Canada. Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu says hastily laid charges lead to fewer convictions and lighter sentences.


The ombudsman for the Canadian province of Ontario is launching an investigation into allegations of excessive force by prison guards against provincial inmates. André Marin says his office has received more than 100 complaints. One inmate claims a guard choked him until he lost consciousness. Mr. Marin says there are allegations the violence was covered up or ignored by a code of silence within the prisons.


Police in Toronto have charged 48-year-old foreign-born imam with 13 offences, including sexual assault and making death threats. Police say their investigation of Mohammad Masroor involves five alleged victims of both sexes. He is said to teach the Qu'ran at a mosque and in homes in the community. The police say Mr. Masroor has taught at mosques in Bangladesh, Singapore, Sri Lanka and several Western European countries. He was arrested on Aug. 10 and remains in custody.


The leader of Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, will not attend the party's caucus meetings next month. Mr. Layton, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, has said that he will return to work on Sept. 19 when Parliament resumes after the summer recess.


Montreal police report they've made an arrest in an almost 20-year-old case involving threats made against atheists and secular scientists. They offered no other details. The investigation started after huge numbers of complaints from around the world about a Montreal man's online activities. More than 3,000 people signed a petition calling on police to investigate allegations of death threats against atheists and secularists.


Libyan rebels have launched an attack on the oil refinery in the strategic coastal city of Zawiyah, west of Tripoli. The insurgents are trying to drive forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi out of the city. Gadhafi supporters are using the refinery to harass the rebels with shelling and sniper fire. Zawiyah sits aside the highway that connects Tripoli to Tunisia. It is one of the few sources of fuel for the strongman's troops and the population of the capital. The insurgents said on Tuesday they had cut a pipeline between Zawiyah and the capital. The rebels are now advancing on Tripoli from the west, south and east.


Activists in the central city of Homs report that the security forces shot dead at least 10 people on Wednesday. One civilian was killed by a sniper. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights in Syria says more than 700 security agents arrested hundreds of residents of the port city of Latakia. The names of those arrested were on lists. Syria's official news agency reports that President Bashar al-Assad met with the central committee of the ruling Baath Party for the first time since demonstrations against his government began five months ago. He told the committee that Syria will remain "strong and resilient," and that he has promised reforms not in reaction to outside pressure but because Syrians are convinced of their necessity.


Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says his country's won't apologize to Turkey for the commando raid on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza last summer. Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists where killed when the Israeli commandos boarded it. Israel says the activists attacked the soldiers, while Turkey claims the Israelis were the attackers. The ship was part of a flotilla that tried unsuccessfully to run the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. Mr. Lieberman says Israel had been ready to apologize and offer compensation but that the Turks added more demands, including the shelving of a UN investigation of the incident.


A former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, has criticized the Russian government for taking the country backward. He says the nation needs free elections and fresh leadership. Mr. Gorbachev issued the comment ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Aug. 19, 1991, hardline coup that briefly ousted him and precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Gorbachev criticized the United Russia party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which he described as a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party. He says Russia needs to restore direct elections of governors and single-ballot elections to the parliament, which were abolished during Mr. Putin's presidency.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government will nationalize the country's gold mines and gold extraction industries. Mr. Chavez made the announcement Wednesday during a military ceremony. The Russian miner Rusoro Mining Ltd. controls one of the country's most important gold mines in the southeast. In February, the government cancelled the gold mining concession of Canadian firm Crystallex at Las Cristinas south of the Orinoco. The gold deposits there are thought to be the biggest in Latin America.


Ukraine's former President Viktor Yushchenko gave testimony Wednesday against Yulia Tymoshenko, his former prime minister. She is on trial for abuse of power. Miss Tymoshenko is accused of signing a bad 10-year oil agreement with Russia that the government is now trying to renegotiate amid concerns over Ukraine's economic health. The trial has seen Ukraine come under intense criticism from European Union nations. Miss Tymoshenko's main rival Viktor Yanukovych, who succeeded Mr. Yushchenko as president, has said he has no right to intervene in the case and brushed aside suggestions that it was a part of a broader political vendetta.


A court in Edmonton has been told that Norwegian energy giant Statoil will plead guilty to at least some of the environmental infractions of which it stands accused. The Crown prosecutor in the case says Statoil will plead guilty and that the prosecution is looking at "creative sentencing." In February, the Alberta authorities accused the company of 16 counts of improperly diverting water for use at its site near Conklin in the north of the province. There are a further three accusations of false or misleading statements about the alleged activity in 2008 and 2009. Statoil risks a maximum fine of $500,000 for each charge.


High-technology patent firm Wi-LAN Inc. has proposed a $480-million takeover of its rival Mosaid Technologies Inc. Wi-LAN says a merged company would be more able to grow in the global patent licensing business. Wi-LAN says it's offering a 31-per cent premium on Mosaid's closing stock price Wednesday. Wi-LAN collects licensing fees from companies that use technologies covered by its patents. Mosaid licenses patented intellectual property in the areas of semiconductors and telecom systems.


TSX on Wednesday: 12,580 + 49. Dollar: US1.02 cents, up $1.11. Euro: $1.41. Oil: $87.55 +.90.



The 2015 Pan American junior track and field championships are coming to Canada. Athletics Canada officials announced they've won right to host the event, which features under-20 athletes and is held every two years. Eleven cities had expressed interest in bidding for the event. Canada last hosted the event in 2005 in Windsor, Ontario.


British Columbia on Thursday: mix sun cloud, high C21 Vancouver. Yukon: rain. Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: cloud. Whitehorse 17, Yellowknife, Iqaluit 13. Alberta, Saskatchewan: rain north, cloud south. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 17, Regina 19, Winnipeg 30. Ontario: sun north, rain south. Quebec: rain. Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal 29. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island: rain. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador: sun. Fredericton 27, Halifax, Charlottetown 24, St. John's 21.