Thursday, November 24, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 23 November 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Canadians can count on low lending rates

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney says Canadians will continue to enjoy low interest rates for some time to come. The bank governor says he now expects economic growth in Canada in the second half of this year to be greater than he had anticipated last month.

But he says that won't last, nor will it change his longer-term view of the economy as entering a period of sluggish activity, hampered by the crisis in Europe and ongoing U.S. difficulties. Going forward, he says Canadian household spending will likely slow, as will business investment. Mr. Carney told a business audience in Montreal that keeping monetary stimulus is place is the right thing to do. The central banker says he is not worried about inflation and he believes recent increases in food and energy prices will be reversed, pushing inflation to near one per cent from the current 2.9, by the middle of next year.

Toronto protest winds down

Protesters bowed to the inevitable Wednesday as authorities armed with court approval moved into a downtown park just before daybreak to dismantle the Occupy Toronto camp in a mostly uneventful clearing operation. While some protesters jeered, drummed or chanted, bylaw officers escorted by police went tent-to-tent methodically, warning anyone inside to take their belongings. They numbered and photographed each structure before sanitation workers then moved in and began taking down tents and clearing out other debris.

Polygamy law stands

A judge in the Canadian province of British Columbia says Canada's anti-polygamy law is valid, concluding the harms that polygamy inflicts on women and children outweigh any claim to religious freedom. But Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court says the law is only valid if it isn't used to prosecute child brides.

The B.C. government asked the court to examine the constitutionality of the polygamy law following the failed prosecution of two leaders from Bountiful, BC. For two months, the court heard from academic experts, former polygamist women and current plural wives, as they debated whether polygamy was inherently harmful or a protected religious practice. The judge agreed that the Criminal Code violates the charter's religious guarantees, but he says the harms to women and children take precedent. Legal observers have predicted the decision will almost certainly be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Research confirm Arctic climate change

Research published in a top scientific journal, the Geological Survey of Canada, says Arctic sea ice has declined more in the last half-century than it has any time over the last 1,450 years. The study also concludes the current decline has already lasted longer than any previous one in that period of time.

Climate change is thought to be occurring faster in the Arctic than anywhere else on Earth and sea ice is considered one of the main indicators. The ice is crucial in northern ecosystems because it provides habitat for everything from plankton to polar bears. Its gradual disappearance is also opening previously inaccessible areas to the possibility of resource development, as well as to commercial shipping.

Protection demanded for almost-extinct bird

A dozen environmental groups are threatening the federal government with legal action unless it overrules two provinces and takes emergency steps to save the sage grouse. They say the distinctive bird could be gone from Alberta within a year if nothing is done quickly. The threat comes in a letter sent Wednesday to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, in which the groups say Canadian law requires Ottawa to preserve threatened species if provincial governments aren't doing the job.

Scientists say a species that numbered 20,000 a few years ago across the southern prairies is down to 13 male birds in Alberta and 43 in Saskatchewan. The enviromentalists say the reason is oil and gas development.

Former Vancouver mayors take stand on marijuana

Four former Vancouver mayors say it's time B.C. politicians led the fight to revise Canada's marijuana laws. Mike Harcourt, Philip Owen, Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan have signed an open letter to every municipal, provincial and federal politician in B.C.

It says ending the prohibition on marijuana would help stamp out the gang violence associated with the illegal drug trade. The former mayors urge politicians to consider alternatives such as legalization and regulation, saying those policies will increase taxes to government, remove illicit profits that lead to gang violence, and eliminate costly legal proceedings


Yemeni leader at long last to go

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed Wednesday to step down after a fierce uprising to oust him from 33 years in power. Mr. Saleh is the fourth Arab leader toppled in the wave of Arab Spring uprisings this year, after longtime dictators fell in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The deal gives him immunity from prosecution, contradicting one key demand of Yemen's opposition protesters.

Seated beside Saudi King Abdullah in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the former president signed the U.S.-backed deal hammered out by his country's powerful Gulf Arab neighbours to transfer his power within 30 days to his vice-president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. That will be followed by early presidential elections within 90 days.

High cleric calls for end of violence against Egyptian protesters

The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, called on Egyptian police on Wednesday not to shoot on protesters demanding democratic change as four more people died in clashes.

As thousands rallied for a fifth straight day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, an opinion poll found that 43 percent of Egyptians thought the ruling military was trying to slow down or reverse its gains. In the unusually strong statement from Al-Azhar, grand imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb said that any dialogue "stained with blood is doomed and its fruit will be bitter." A medic said three more people died in clashes with police in and around Tahrir Square. The violence came despite a pledge by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi that the military does not seek indefinite rule.

France proposes foreign intervention in Syria

France called on Wednesday for a "securitized zone to protect civilians" in Syria, the first time a major Western power has suggested international intervention on the ground in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe also described Syria's exiled opposition National Council as "the legitimate partner with which we want to work", the biggest international endorsement yet for a nascent opposition body that seeks Mr. Assad's overthrow.

Until now, Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Syria but have shown no appetite for intervention on the ground in the country.

Torture found in Bahrain

The head of a special commission that investigated Bahrain's unrest said Wednesday that authorities used torture and excessive force against detainees arrested in crackdowns on the largest Arab Spring uprising in the Persian Gulf. Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni also said there was no evidence of Iranian links to Bahrain's Shiite-led protests in a clear rebuke Gulf leaders who accuse Tehran of playing a role in the 10-month-old showdown in the Western-allied kingdom. The study, which was authorized by Bahrain's Sunni rulers in a bid to ease tensions, marks the most comprehensive document on security force actions during any of the revolts that have flared across the Arab world this year.

International prosecutor views alleged Libya massacre site

A leading international prosecutor viewed human bones and charred clothing at the alleged site of a massacre that survivors say was committed by Gadhafi loyalists as Libya's capital fell to advancing rebels. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, then pledged to help bring clarity to such unsolved crimes remaining from Libya's civil war.

Earlier he announced that the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, will not challenge Libya's right to try Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent in his own country and with Libyan judges. That cleared the way for Seif al-Islam, the only Gadhafi family member in Libyan custody, to answer for the alleged crimes of his late father. Moreno-Ocampo made the visit to the gruesome site, where a stench rises from the ground, to determine whether to have the Netherlands-based court investigate it as part of its broader inquiry into alleged crimes committed by Gadhafi's regime during the war.

Greek bailout payment in limbo

Greek Conservative leader Antonis Samaras offered a written pledge to the EU and IMF on Wednesday backing Greece's bailout deal, but whether his letter was enough to satisfy the exasperated lenders and unblock funds to stave off bankruptcy remained unclear. A vital sixth payment of aid for the indebted country has been held up by his refusal to comply with a European Union demand for the written commitment supporting the bailout beyond the life of the current interim coalition government.

With Greece just weeks away from running out of cash, Mr. Samaras sent the letter to the EU and International Monetary Fund, saying he supported new Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the130-billion euro bailout agreement. However, he repeated his call for changing some economic policies demanded as a condition of the bailout, Greece's second since last year. Wary of flip-flopping by Greece's politicians, the EU and the IMF had asked party leaders for written commitments to back austerity policies before doling out the next round of funds.

Russia, U.S. still bickering over defence plan

Russian President Dmirtry Medvedev said Wednesday that if Washington continues to ignore Russia's demands about a proposed U.S. missile shield in Europe, Russia will deploy new missiles aimed at it and put arms control on hold. Mr. Medvedev says he still hopes for a deal on the U.S. missile shield, but he strongly accused the U.S. and its NATO allies of ignoring Russia's worries.

The U.S. has repeatedly assured Russia that its proposed missile defence system wouldn't be directed against Russia's nuclear forces, but Moscow has demanded legally binding assurances, and Mr. Medvedev did that again on Wednesday. He warned that Russia will station missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region and other areas, if the U.S. continues its plans

without giving Russia firm legal guarantees that the shield isn't directed at its nuclear forces.

Ukrainian opposition leader taken to hospital

Jailed Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was taken to hospital on Wednesday for a medical check-up and then returned to jail after doctors found she had no life-threatening ailment. President Viktor Yanukovich promised on Tuesday to provide hospital treatment for his political opponent, who was sentenced last month to seven years' imprisonment for abuse of office, after a human rights monitor expressed alarm at her condition.

Mrs. Tymoshenko's supporters say she has been unable to rise from her bed for weeks and her questioning by prosecutors investigating fresh criminal cases against her amounted to torture.

Former Khmer leader denies guilt

A senior Khmer Rouge leader insisted Wednesday he had no real authority during the regime's brutal rule of Cambodia and allegations he bore responsibility for its atrocities were a "fairy tale." Former head of state Khieu Samphan told a tribunal he was a figurehead leader who never joined key policy meetings in the radical communist government, which is accused of causing the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians in the 1970s. I

In his rebuttal, he said the prosecutors' opening remarks were exaggerations. After the trial of Khieu Samphan and two other top leaders opened Monday, prosecutors have described the pitiless policies focused on forced labour and abolition of private property the Khmer Rouge imposed in an effort to build an agrarian utopia.

The tribunal is seeking justice on behalf of the estimated quarter of Cambodia's population who died from executions, starvation, disease and overwork under the Khmer Rouge rule.



TSX on Wednesday: 11,572 - 223. Dollar: US.95. Euro: $1.39. Oil: $96.39 - $1.62.

Corporate taxes dwindle

A report by KPMG International says corporate taxes corporate taxes have fallen by more than 16 per cent over the last 11 years. And the survey adds that Canadian companies are actually paying less than their American counterparts.

On average, Canadian companies pay 28 per cent of their income in federal and provincial tax, well below the 40 per cent paid by American companies. But Canada's corporate tax rate is higher than Europe's 20 per cent. The Occupy movement and NDP opposition parties in Ottawa and Ontario have pressed for higher corporate taxes to help finance needed social programs during an era of restraint. But Canada's Conservative Party government has in fact touted its corporate tax reductions as an incentive to foreign investment.

WestJet expands to New York

Canada's second-biggest airline says it has gained rare access to New York's LaGuardia airport. WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it obtained eight flight in and out of LaGuardia at an auction held by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority. The airline says it will now seek U.S. customs pre-clearance from Canada, after which it will soon start flights. CEO Gregg Saretsky says the bid is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" because access to the New York airport is strictly limited. He also says it's trump in WestJet's efforts to attract more business travellers.




This could be the last Grey Cup game with B.C. Lions coach Wally Buono on the sidelines. He says he'll make a decision about his Canadian Football League future after this weekend's title game against Winnipeg. Buono is also the Lions' general manager. He says his decision on whether to return next year in both capacities won't be dictated by the result of Sunday's game.


Heavy snow has forced the cancellation of the opening training run at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. The first of three training sessions ahead of Saturday's men's downhill was called off after 21 centimetres of snow fell overnight. Another training run is scheduled for tomorrow. The super-G race is scheduled for Sunday.



British Columbia on Thursday: rain, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: snow. Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse -16, Yellowknife -10, Iqaluit -25. Prairies: mix sun cloud. Edmonton -1, Regina 4, Winnipeg 8. Ontario, Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 10, Ottawa 6, Montreal 5. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia: snow. Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton, St. John's 1, Halifax 4, Charlottetown 3.

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