Saturday, September 10, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


U.S. President Barack Obama has written a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to thank Canadians for their generosity toward stranded American air travellers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The U.S. closed its airspace after the atttacks. The president lauded Canadians for standing by their friends in one of the darkest moments in U.S. history. Mr. Obama recalled that Canadian air controllers safely landed hundreds of flights in 17 Canadian airports across the country, the small town of Gander, NL, alone receiving 6,600 stranded passsengers. The president remembered as well how the passengers were treated like family, receiving food, shelter, medical attention and comfort. Mr. Obama thanked also Canada for its continuing solidarity in the war against terrorism.


Meanwhile, Mr. Harper has designed Sept. 11 a national day of service to commemorate the terrorist attacks in the U.S. a decade ago. Mr. Harper says the occasion will be a tribute both to the victims and to Canadians and their communities who took in stranded airline travellers. The prime minister says Sept. 11 isn't only about death and destruction but also about the courage, sacrifice and kindness shown by Canadians to their involuntary guests. On Sunday, Mr. Harper will take part in a public memorial service in Lower Manhattan, site of the World Trade Center destroyed by the terrorists.


Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has suggested that nations of the euro zone increase the size of their bailout fund. The fund currently contains $618 billion. It's intended to be an emergency fund in case more bailouts of debt-stricken countries are needed. Ireland and Portugal have received such bailouts. Mr. Flaherty offered his suggestion at a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Marseille, France. The ministers discussed the financial dilemma which they face in common, with the global economic recovery from recession running out of steam at a time when governments can less afford to intervene because of the debts they incurred in earlier interventions against recession. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged countries with lower debts to slow down austerity programs to give the world economy a boost. But Germany has ruled out scrapping its planned spending cuts.


The Canadian economy lost jobs in August for the first time in five months. The loss of 5,500 jobs pushed the unemployment rate up slightly to 7.3 per cent. Job growth in July was almost non-existent. The latest figure shows the Canadian economy continues to struggle. Key job losses in August came in the construction, transportation and natural resources sectors.


Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent says he won't tolerate companies trying to sneak around pending regulations to clamp down on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Kent says that regulations for coal-fired electricity plants are not yet final, and he could still change the rules, especially if corporate interests are trying to skirt them.

Calgary-based Maxim Power Corp. is rushing to build a coal-fired plant in western Alberta which would emit far more greenhouse gas than proposed federal regulations would allow in the future.

If the company can start operating by 2015, the new rules would not apply.

But Mr. Kent says he never intended to create such a loophole, and he suggests he will move to close the loophole if necessary.


The national council of Canada's official opposition formation, the New Democratic Party, has decided it will hold a leadership convention in Toronto on March 24. The council also set an entry fee of $15,000 to compete to replace Mr. Layton. Spending for the race will be capped at $500,000. So far, no one has declared a candidacy. The party president, Brian Topp, and Quebec lieutenant Thomas Mulcair, have expressed interest in becoming leader. The names of MPs Peter Julian, Paul Dewar and Charlie Angus also have been mentioned.


A majority of Canadians polled are not receptive to the idea of a merger between two national opposition parties. Since the death last month of Jack Layton, the leader of the left-of-centre New Democratic Party, there have been suggestions that a merger between it and the centrist Liberal Party would be the best way to defeat the right-of-centre Conservative Party, which is now in power in Ottawa. But more than six in 10 Canadians surveyed earlier this month by Harris-Decima thought a merger would be a bad idea. That opposition held in every region of the country and across all ages, income levels and genders.


Fighting has broken out in two of the last strongholds held by fighters loyal to fallen Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The National Transitional Council has given the loyalists until Saturday to surrender or be attacked. But a Council official says its fighters have entered Bani Walid, 150 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, before the deadline to protect civilians. The source estimated Gadhafi supporters at about 600. Fighting also erupted at Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte on the coast, where the defenders are reported firing rockets.


Niger reports that a new group of 14 officials of fallen Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's régime has arrived in the country. The group arrived in the northern city of Agadez. The arrivals include four top officials, including Gen. Ali Kana, who was one of the officials in charge of troops in southern Libya. An earlier convoy of Gadhafi associates arrived in Niger on Monday. Niger's government has said it allowed the Libyans into the country on humanitarian grounds. But Niger has come under international pressure to hand over Gadhafi officials suspected of human rights abuses.


Thousands of Syrian protesters took to the streets to protest after Friday prayers in mosques, as they have been doing for months. The demonstrators appeared in the suburbs of Damascus, the central city of Homs and Idlib province near the border with Turkey. Many demanded international help in the form of of observation missions and monitors who could help deter attacks on civilians the President Bashar al-Assad's security forces. When the protests began six months ago, demonstrators called for modest reforms without foreign intervention. Friday's calls for such intervention coincides with a stalemate between rebels and Mr. al-Assad's police and military. On Thursday, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that the security forces had forcibly removed patients from a hospital and prevented doctors from reached people wounded during clashes earlier in the week in Homs.


Turkey's prime minister says Turkish warships will escort Turkish Gaza-bound aid ships in the future. Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jazeera television that the navy will accompany the aid ships to protect them from raids like the one Israel launched on a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade last year, when nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed. Turkey has already announced it would increase patrols in the eastern Mediterranean in response to Israel's refusal to apologize for the raid. But it was the first declaration that Turkey intends to send warships to protect ships trying to break the blockade. Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives but insists its forces acted in self-defence.


A UN food agency says the number of severely malnourished children hospitalized in North Korea is rapidly rising. The World Food Program said Friday it has been able to reach far fewer than half the 3.5 million North Koreans it hopes to feed. It says it is also concerned its emergency operation is only 30 per cent funded. It says local factories don't have the ingredients needed to make special nutritious biscuits. Priority in food assistance is going to orphans, children in hospitals, young schoolchildren and pregnant woman. The Rome-based agency says that although damage to farmland from recent flooding doesn't seem too widespread, it is too early to tell the full impact on food production among chronically hungry North Koreans.


The National Energy Board will hold a week-long roundtable starting on Monday in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories to discuss the advisability of energy drilling in the Arctic. Representatives of industry, government, aboriginal and environmental organizations will assess Canada's current knowledge of eventual drilling in the North. The roundtable will be the last public event before the Board releases a report on the question in December. After the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the Board announced it would review how it regulates drilling in the Arctic. There is no drilling currently going on in the Canadian Arctic but several energy majors have spent billions of dollars to acquire exploration rights.


The Bank of Nova Scotia is buying an almost one-fifth stake in a bank in southern China. Scotiabank will pay $719 million for a stake in the Bank of Guangzhou, a government-owned institution. It has assets of $24 million and customers deposits amounting to $16 billion. The Bank of Guangzhou is 29th-biggest bank in China. It operates in the fast-growing region of southern China that enjoys an expanding middle class.


The premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan has come to the defence of a controversial Canadian pipeline project in the U.S. Speaking at the influential National Speakers Conference in Charlestown, SC, Brad Wall said much of the opposition to TransCanada Pipeline's Keystone XL project is "myth-making." TransCanada wants to extend an existing pipeline the hub of which is in the U.S. Midwest to convey crude oil from Alberta's oilsands to refineries on the Gulf coast of Texas. Opponents claim the $7-billion project is an environmental threat and gives a boost to the "dirty" oilsands industry. But Mr. Wall argues the project would create thousands of American jobs and lessen U.S. reliance on oil from the Mideast. The premier added that Canadian oil is often cleaner than oil from elsewhere. Mr. Wall says as well that Canada, its energy industry and government are expending more money and effort on the carbon issue than almost any country on earth. Last month, the U.S. state department said the Keystone XL project poses no major environmental threats. The Obama administration has three months in which to decide whether it's in the National interest.


TSX on Friday: 12,388 - 296. Dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.36. Oil: $88.81 - .53.



Bell Media says it will partner with the CBC in a bid

for the Canadian broadcasting rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympic


The telecommunications company, which owns CTV and the TSN sports

network, announced the pairing with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Friday, a day after Bell's current partner Rogers decided to bow out

of a future partnership.


There was a victorious start for the country hosting the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand charged out to a 29-point lead while cruising to a 44-10 win over Tonga. Canada is also in Pool A. The Canadians will play their first game Wednesday against Tonga.


British Columbia on Saturday: sun, high C25 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 14, Yellowknife 16, Iqaluit 5. Prairies: sun. Edmonton 26, Regina, Winnipeg 32. Ontario, Quebec: sun. Toronto 22, Ottawa 19, Montreal 18. New Brunswick: sun. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 17, Halifax 18, Charlottetown 15, St. John's 16.