Sunday, September 18, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 17 September 2011
Canadian International Weather


The union representing Air Canada flight attendants has officially served a federal mediator with strike notice, meaning the attendants could be off the job as soon as Wednesday. Negotiators for the airline and the union are meeting this weekend trying to hammer out a new contract. An earlier deal was rejected by the flight attendants and forced the company and union back to the bargaining table. Hanging over the heads of the two sides is believed to be a government threat to quickly order an end to a strike. Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has invited both sides to a meeting if they can't hammer out a deal this weekend.


The Canadian Hurricane Centre says the Atlantic province of Newfoundland was spared a close call Friday as Hurricane Maria's strongest winds stayed off shore. The storm passed over the Avalon Peninsula, packing winds of 103 kilometres an hour. Maria was downgraded to a post-tropical storm, and has moved off over the North Atlantic.


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Canada's private sector is not doing enough to keep the economy on track. In an interview on the CBC, Mr. Flaherty says businesses have to take advantage of low interest rates and high savings to make investments now. He said the government is willing if necessary to launch another round of stimulus. Some economists are predicting that Canada is in the early stages of a recession, dragged in by the lagging economies of export markets in the United States and Europe.



A lead investigator in the 1998 Swissair crashoff Canada's East Coastis dismissing suggestions an incendiary device could have caused the disaster. Larry Vance says he was shocked and saddened by a claim from a retired Mountie who was part of the investigation. In an interview on the CBC program The Fifth Estate, Tom Juby said Transportation Safety Board investigators failed to fully explore the possibility of an incendiary device being the cause. Mr. Juby said high levels of magnesium, a key ingredient in an incendiary device -- were discovered in the cockpit area. Mr. Vance, who was an investigator with the TSB, says his team was able to rule out that theory when they examined the cockpit area. He says an incendiary device would have caused more damage. Mr. Vance said he stands by the original finding that a wiring problem sparked a fire that quickly spread, causing Swissair Flight 111 bound from New York to Genera to plunge into the waters of Nova Scotia -- killing all 229 people on board.


Canada's former top military commander is defending his successor as he comes under fire over his personal use of government aircraft. Retired General Rick Hillier says he hasn't read the accusations. But he says he has no doubt Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk was flying on the air force Challenger jets because it was necessary for the job. The allegations against Gen. Natynczyk include claims of flights to hockey games and to the Caribbean to join family on a cruise. The CTV television network reported this week that Gen. Natynszyk spent more than $1 million since 2008 flying on government VIP aircraft.


Members of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Partywere voting to choose a new leader Saturday. The winner will also become the premier of the province. Six candidates are vying to replace Premier Ed Stelmach. Three of them were cabinet ministers under Mr. Stelmach but quit their jobs, as per party rules, to run. Doug Horner was deputy premier, Alison Redford was justice minister, and Ted Morton was finance minister. Backbencher Doug Griffiths is also running, as are Gary Mar and Rick Orman. Mr. Mar had been Alberta's trade representative in Washington and a health minister under former premier Ralph Klein. Mr. Orman was energy minister in the days of premier Don Getty. If none of the six candidates wins a majority on Saturday, the top three will face a run-off vote next month. Mr. Mar is considered the favourite to win.


The Canadian government is pressing the US Internal Revenue Service to back off on its effort to find offshore tax cheats in Canada. The IRS is going after people who are citizens of both Canada and the US who haven't filed a US tax return -- even when they didn't owe any US taxes. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says many of those dual citizens have only distant links to the US. He adds they're not high rollers with offshore bank accounts -- and Canada is not a tax haven. The US is one of the few countries that compels its citizens to file a US return even if they live abroad and pay taxes abroad. The US also proposes to compel Canadian banks to notify the IRS of accounts held by clients with dual citizenship. Mr. Flaherty says that would effectively turn Canadian banks into "extensions of the IRS."


West Vancouver's police chief says more information will be released on why his force cleared Mounties of wrongdoing in the Tasering of an 11-year-old-boy. Chief Peter Lepine says he's restricted in what he can say because he doesn't want to jeopardize other ongoing investigations. An investigation by West Vancouver police concluded the RCMP officers involved acted reasonably when they stunned a boy outside a group home in Prince George in April. But the West Vancouver force refused to reveal even basic details about the case or explain their rationale for recommending against charges. In an open letter, Chief Lepine says he understands the public's frustration with the lack of information. But he says there's an obligation to support the integrity of probes by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission and BC's children's watchdog. Police have yet to say whether the boy was armed when he was stunned or whether he attacked or threatened police or himself.


Police say they don't believe a break-in at the Vancouver aquarium had anything to do with the death of a young beluga whale. The two events occurred within hours of each other on Friday but police say they don't appear to be connected. Aquarium officials say three-year-old Tiqa had stopped eating several days before she died. And the aquarium's veterinarian, Martin Haulena, says testing shows she had pneumonia. The vet says he's awaiting the results of further tests to determine the underlying cause of the pneumonia, and whether it was the cause of death. Tiqa is the third beluga calf to die at the aquarium since 2005. CEO John Nightingale says every effort is being made to find out why it's happening.


Officials raided a puppy mill in Quebec, seizing more than 500 malnourished dogs in what officials say could be the largest animal cruelty case in the province's history. The dogs were found Friday in a rural area west of Montreal in poor conditions without sufficient food and water. Guy Auclair, a spokesman for the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, says many of the dogs were found suffering from skin and respiratory problems.


The Governor General says Canadian volunteers need more government help if they're to successfully fill in the gaps left by social policy. David Johnston says the demand for volunteers is growing, but their work could be made far more efficient with some help from governments and stronger leadership. He suggests tax incentives, government support and co-operation with local volunteer groups, and a new focus on how to train community organizers. He also wants to see a national network of community foundations that would co-ordinate volunteer work in local areas. Like Mr. Johnston, the Harper government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put volunteerism front and centre, most recently with the naming of Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service. Mr. Johnston stopped short of endorsing a controversial approach like the so-called Big Society in Britain, where the prime minister has devolved some service delivery to local groups.


A Saskatchewan museum is giving a man who suspects he's former prime minister John Diefenbaker's only child access to its artifacts for DNA testing. George Dryden told The Canadian Press on Friday he plans to hire a Toronto-based company to do the DNA testing at the Saskatoon-based Diefenbaker Canada Centre as soon as possible. The 42 year-old Toronto man says he became aware last year of long-time family whispers that Canada's 13th prime minister, to whom he bears a strong resemblance, was his real father. He also discovered in June that the man he'd always believed to be his dad wasn't his biological parent. His mother, Mary Lou Dryden, a Diefenbaker confidante, also told him his father's name was John, but she didn't confirm having had an affair with the former Conservative prime minister. Diefenbaker was prime minister from 1957 to 1963 and died in 1979.


Four bronze statues have been unveiled in Vancouver as a memorial to Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. The statues by artist Douglas Coupland depict Fox running toward Stanley Park, where the Marathon of Hope would have ended, had it not been cut short due to Fox's cancer. The statues are in Terry Fox Plaza and attempt show the motion of Fox's instantly recognizable run on his artificial leg. A large television screen hangs behind the statues, which will show visitors a brief video of Fox's story. Fox started his Marathon of Hope in April 1980, when he dipped his foot into the Atlantic Ocean in St. John's, NL. For 143 days, he ran a full marathon every day. Fox had covered 5,400 kilometres when, on Sept. 1, 1980, he was forced to stop because his bone cancer had spread to his lungs. He died the following June. Since his death, annual Terry Fox Runs have been held across Canada and around the world, raising more than half a billion dollars for cancer research. This year's Terry Fox Runs are taking place this weekend.



Thousands of anti-government protesters in Yemen have stormed the capital's main university, preventing the first day of classes from beginning and tearing down pictures of the longtime leader whose ouster they seek. The crowds want to keep Yemen's protest movement alive as the school year begins. Protests since February have failed to push President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. Around the country, other schools were kept closed to students Saturday because many of the buildings are being used as outposts by government-linked gunmen and soldiers who defected to the opposition. Also, more than 60 schools in southern Yemen are being used as shelters for people displaced by fighting between government troops and Islamic militants who have taken over several towns during Yemen's turmoil.


Authorities say a roadside bomb in northwest Afghanistan has killed nine civilians, including five children, as they were herding cattle. Police said Saturday the blast went off in the Ghormach district of Faryab province. A regional police spokesman said one child was also injured in the blast late Friday. In a midyear report, the United Nations said 1,462 Afghan civilians lost their lives in the first six months of this year in the crossfire of the battle between Taliban insurgents and Afghan, US and NATO forces. During the first half of last year, 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed.


A military spokesman for Libya's transitional government said Saturday revolutionaries have no certain information about Moammar Gadhafi's location. The spokesman said he thinks anybody who knew where Colonel Gadhafi was would turn him in for the nearly $2 million bounty set by the revolutionaries. Col. Gadhafi has been on the run since Tripoli fell to revolutionary forces on Aug. 21. Fierce fighting around Col. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and another stronghold of Bani Walid have drawn speculation that the fugitive leader might be there.



Opposition figures met Saturday at an undisclosed location in Damascus. The goal was to unite anti-government force. The meeting came as pressure mounts on the regime to end the crackdown. On Friday, security forces shot dead at least 15 people in operations across the country. The latest deaths came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for "coherent" global action over President Bashar al-Assad's deadly response to dissent. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to speak out against his neighbour. Speaking in Libya on Friday, he lashed out at Mr. Assad, telling him the era of oppressive dictators is past.


Tunisia's official TAP news agency says five unemployed men tried to hang themselves after waiting in vain for years for a government job. TAP says the five, university graduates aged 34 to 43, were protesting the results of a recruitment exam with the Education Ministry. They were hospitalized Friday in stable condition after they were rescued by passers-by who saw them trying to hang themselves, according to Saturday's report. The men had taken part in a sit-in over the past week in front of a ministry building in the city of Kasserine, in an inland region plagued by high unemployment. The suicide of a fruit vendor late last year sparked waves of protests nationwide that toppled authoritarian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has cancelled a trip to next week's UN General Assembly in New York because of floods in Sindh province. His office said he was staying in the country to direct relief efforts. Last year Pakistani leaders were accused of neglecting victims of floods that swept the country and once again they have been accused of being slow to respond to humanitarian efforts. At least six million people have been affected by the latest disaster and officials fear some areas could remain submerged for months.


Two exit pollslate Saturdayshowed that a left-wing, pro-Russia party has won the most votes in the snap election. A poll by the Leta news agency gave the Harmony Center nearly 28.9 per cent of overall votes, while another poll by the Baltic News Agency gave Harmony 28.7 per cent. Both polls showed that each of two closely aligned Latvian parties gaining about 20 per cent of the vote in Saturday's election. Approximately one-third of Latvia's 2.2 million people are minorities whose native language is Russian. Many of them are so-called non-citizens who lack the right to vote.




Madagascar's ousted president has accepted a plan for restoring democracy that leaves the military-backed coup leader who toppled him in charge during the transition. Marc Ravalomanana's representative signed the plan early Saturday in Madagascar's capital in a ceremony presided over by South Africa's deputy foreign minister. South Africa has led Southern African Development Community efforts to resolve the Indian Ocean island nation's crisis. The proposal also calls for mR. Ravalomanana, exiled in South Africa since Andry Rajoelina toppled him in 2009, to be allowed to return to participate in the transition. Mamy Rakotoarivelo, who headed Mr. Ravalomanana's delegation at Saturday's ceremony, says his party is willing to compromise.


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says he is considering his future as a rights activist. Mr. Ai spoke to Austrian radio from his studio in China. The country's leading social critic has been under close watch as part of the strict terms of his release from custody in late June after 81 days. Mr. Ai said he felt abandonned by many peers during his weeks of detention. He also said he fears for his life because he has no protection and no lawyer and the Chinese authorities can just make him disappear. Mr. Ai still faces the threat of prison on alleged subversion charges. He is said to have endured intense psychological pressure during his secretive detention.


Former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate FW de Klerk urged the government Friday to allow exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama into the country. The spiritual leader has been invited by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to attend celebrations for his 80th birthday next month. But the government in Pretoria has yet to announce whether it will grant him a visa after denying him entry in 2009 for fear of angering Beijing. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. He says he wants better treatment for Tibetans and accepts Chinese rule, but Beijing accuses him of being a "splittist" and opposes his regular meetings with foreign leaders.


Supporters of Bahrain's Sunni rulers have protested against an international investigation into the Gulf kingdom's crackdown on months of Shiite-led demonstrations calling for greater rights. Thousands of supporters rallied in the capital, Manama, Saturday, urging authorities to protect police and army officers who helped quell the anti-government unrest from being questioned by a panel. Angry crowds chanted "No punishment for brave officers." More than 30 people have been killed since February, when Bahrain's Shiite majority started protesting for greater freedoms from the ruling Sunni dynasty. The Bahrain Commission of Inquiry started the probe in July with the consent of the ruling monarchy. Its findings are expected Oct. 30.



Vancouver has rain with a forecast high temperature of 17 degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny with a high of 17. Regina is sunny and 19. Winnipeg has periods of rain, a high of 17. It's sunny from Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador. Highs: 19 in Toronto, 20 in Ottawa and Montreal, 18 in Fredericton, 15 in Charlottetown, 18 in Halifax and 15 in St. John's. Whitehorse is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of 11. Yellowknife is cloudy, a high of 10 Iqaluit is cloudy with a chance of showers or flurries, a high of two.

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