Wednesday, October 19, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


There will be no exemption for Canadian businessess hoping to benefit from U.S. stimulus spending on infrastructure projects. The U.S. ambassador to Canada says the Obama administration is sticking with its "Buy American" provisions. They say all the iron, steel and manufactured goods used in such projects must be produced in the United States. As it did when a similar provision was introduced in President Barack Obama's previous stimulus bill, Ottawa protested against the inclusion of the provision and sought another exemption. Ambassador David Jacobson maintains the bill will likely benefit Canada in the long term. And he reminded his audience at a Canadian Club luncheon that the Canada-U.S. trading relationship is the largest in the history of the world, last year reaching $526 billion.


The Canadian government has introduced legislation to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on the marketing of wheat and barley grown in Western Canada. The monopoly would end in August of next year. The Conservative government wants to give farmers the right to sell their products directly to grain handlers. The legislation guarantees the Board's borrowing for five years and provides funding for downsizing but doesn't provide capital for future operations or regulate access to grain handlers.


Canada's natural resources minister has flown to Europe to protect exports of oil from Western Canada's oilsands. Before leaving, Joe Oliver said he thinks there's a good chance that the European Union's executive will rescind a move to classify crude from the oilsands as a dirty source of energy. Mr. Oliver says he thinks the decision can be reversed because it's unscientific. He also noted that the decision will worry European energy firms that have invested heavily in Canada's oilsands industry.


A new study says that a coming regulation of the state of New York threatens thousands of Canadian jobs connected to the St. Lawrence Seaway. The regulation requires all ships sailing through the Seaway to install equipment to sterilize ballast water in a treatment that would be far beyond international standards. The regulation would come into effect in 2013. The study by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. and its U.S. counterpart says the regulation is "technologically unachieveable." It also notes that no new nuisance species have entered the Great Lakes since previous regulations were tightened six years ago. The research also reports that the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway support 227,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars in wages, tax revenue and purchases.


The government of the Canadian province of Quebec will after all hold a public inquiry into alleged corruption in the construction industry. The Liberal Party government of Premier Jean Charest made the decision on Tuesday at a closed-door caucus meeting. The official announcement is expected on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting. The premier has resisted calls for an inquiry for months, saying a provincial anti-corruption unit suffices to look into the allegations. The decision follows multiple reports of scams, cost overruns and the involvement in the construction of criminal groups like the Mafia.


The Canadian Press reports that the federal government plans to award Canada's most populous province, Ontario, 13 more seats in the House of Commons. The extra seats would bring the province's total to 119. During the May 2 election campaign, the Conservative Party promised to award more seats to Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta because those provinces' demographic percentages had increased.


A Canadian scientist working in Indiana has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to charges of sending American trade secrets to China and Germany. Kexue Huang agreed to the plea in the theft of $300 million worth of information on organic pesticide development from Dow Agrosciences. If his plea is accepted he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison. Huang is a Canadian citizen with permanent U.S. resident status. He was detained in June 2010.


Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank gave a jubilant welcome to 477 prisoners freed by Israel on Tuesday. They were released in return for the release of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier kidnapped along Gaza's border five years ago. Some of the Palestinians went to the West Bank and Gaza, while 41 were flown into exile in Turkey, Syria and Qatar. Five-hundred-and-fifty other Palestinians are to be freed in coming months. A spokesman for the Islamist movement Hamas has threatened to carry out other kidnappings of Israelis to use hostages to obtain the release of 5,000 other Palestinians jailed in Israel.


Labour unions in Greece plan a general strike on Wednesday to show their opposition to the latest austerity measures intended by the government. The legislature will vote on them on Thursday. The strike will ground flights and halt most public services. The unions will also try to disrupt Thursday's vote. The measures include tax hikes, new pension and salary cuts for public servants. The implementation of the measures are the condition for the payment of the latest installment of $11 billion from the IMF and the European Central Bank to keep the Greek government solvent. It has said that without the payment it will go into bankruptcy. Greece has avoided that eventuality since May 2010 only on the strength of international support.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid an unannounced visit to Libya's capital Tripoli on Tuesday. She met with the country's unofficial prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril. Afterwards, she spoke of the need to bring the country's heavily armed militias under the control of the National Transitional Council. The militias have expressed loyalty to the Council but are seen by many as the biggest threat to Libyan unity. Meanwhile, fighting continues at the coastal city of Sirte. The city is the hometown of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi and the last stronghold of his supporters. The Council's supporters said they were set to capture Sirte several days ago but have been forced back at several points by the dwindling Gadhafi forces.


Kenyan troops have advanced 120 kilometres into southern Somalia to confront Islamist insurgents. The Kenyans are guided by Somali government soldiers in their advance into the region of Afmadow. The al-Shebab group has promised retaliation. In Mogadishu, meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed at least five civilians in a blast near a place where two Kenyan ministers were meeting with officials of the Somali transitional government. Kenya started the incursion after three kidnappings along its border with Somalia in the past several weeks. On Thursday, two Spanish aid workers were abducted from the refugee camp at Dadaab.


Russia and Ukraine say they are close to reaching a compromise in gas negotiations. Officials from both countries say talks to renegotiate a 2009 gas deal are at an advanced stage. Officials declined to put a deadline on the negotiations but analysts expect the two countries to agree a new deal in the coming weeks. Last week, Ukraine sentenced former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for signing a gas contract with Russia in 2009 which allegedly forced Kiev to overpay by up to $8 billion. Her sentence angered Russia, the European Union and Western nations, including Canada. Ukraine has rejected Western calls to review the jailing of Mrs. Tymoshenko, insisting on the independence of the country's courts.


A Buddhist nun has died after setting herself on fire in China's Sichuan province. Rights groups say that Tenzin Wangmo is the first woman and the ninth Tibetan in the area to set herself on fire to protest against perceived repression. The 20-year old nun called for religious freedom during the incident in Aba town on Monday. Eight Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire in Aba since the self-immolation of a young monk at a Buddhist monastery in the town in March led to major protests.


Canadian high-tech firm Research in Motion has introduced a new mobile operating system. The BBX system will power RIM's next generation of BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets. The company says the system will enable users to perform multiple tasks at the same time, such as watching a video in high-definition and doing emails and other tasks.


More than 4,000 individuals and groups have signed up to speak at public hearings on a project to build an oil pipeline from Alberta's oilsands region west to a port in British Columbia for shipment to Asia. The Enbridge pipeline firm proposes to spend $5.5 billion to build the Northern Gateway line from the Western province 1,200 kilometres to the port of Kitimat, BC. The hearings will start in January. Each speaker will have 10 minutes. Opponents of the project, including native groups, say the pipeline poses a threat of an environmental disaster. Supporters predict it would provide new markets for oilsands crude and create thousands of construction and permanent jobs.


TSX on Tuesday: 12,038 + 115. Dollar: US.98. Euro: $1.39. Oil: $88.65 + $2.27.



Canada's Erica Morningstar won a gold medal in at a FINA World Cup swimming event while Brent Hayden added a silver on Tuesday.

Morningstar, from Calgary, clocked a time of two minutes 8.46 seconds to win the women's 200-metre individual medley.

Izumi Kato of Japan took the silver in 2:08.62 and Hye Rae Cho of South Korea was third in 2:08.81.

In the men's 100 freestyle, Vancouver's Hayden was fifth at the halfway point but rallied to the second-place finish in 47.45 seconds.

Nikita Lobintsev of Russia won gold in 47.32 while Matthew Abood of Australia was third in 47.89.


British Columbia on Wednesday: sun, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: mix sun cloud flurries. Whitehorse 3, Yellowknife 4, Iqaluit -5. Alberta, Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Saskatchewan: sun. Edmonton 11, Regina 9, Winnipeg 5. Ontario: rain. Quebec: cloud. Toronto 14, Ottawa 11, Montreal 12. Maritimes: rain. Newfoundland and Labrador: cloud. Fredericton 16, Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John's 15.