Friday, November 11, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Liberals weigh sweeping changes


Canada'sLiberal party leaders are hoping radical changes to their party's structure and operations will turn it into the most open and democratic political vehicle in the country. The Liberal national executive has proposed the changes in a discussion paper entitled "A Roadmap to Renewal." It aims to fuel debate as Liberals prepare for a crucial convention in mid-January they hope will ensure the party's survival.

The self-styled natural governing party was devastated in the May 2 election, reduced to a third-party rump with only 34 seats in the House of Commons. In a bid to re-engage Canadians, the paper proposes that the Liberal party adopt a U.S.-style primary system for electing future leaders and candidates for election. Anyone willing to register, free of charge, as a Liberal supporter, not just fee-paying, card-carrying party militants, would be eligible to vote in leadership and nomination contests.

Wheat Board says protest gathers steam


The Canadian Wheat Board says more than 17,000 letters have been sent to Members of Parliament in the first week of a campaign to support the marketing agency. Chairman Allen Oberg says it's a powerful protest of Ottawa's plan to take away the board's monopoly on western grain sales. The campaign is called Stop the Steamroller and encourages Canadians to speak out about the federal government's move.

Mr. Oberg says the campaign is generating more than 2,000 letters, emails and texts a day. He points out that a majority of farmers who voted in a board plebiscite last summer wanted to keep the monopoly. The Conservative Party government has said it has the mandate to make changes because it won a majority in last May's election.

Proceeds from veterans' poppy sales stolen


Members of a veterans group in London, ON, say they're stunned after someone broke into their office and stole 10 poppy donation boxes. Officials say the suspect or suspects broke through a window at the Canadian Corps Association on Dundas Street last Sunday night and stole the boxes. It's not clear how much money was taken from the boxes. The veterans say police could not get fingerprints because the suspect or suspects wore gloves. There has been a rash of poppy box thefts in Ontario but the others were from public places like restaurants and convenience stores. At least five people face charges.

Keystone pipeline faces major delay


 

A multi-billion-dollar pipeline project to bring Canadian oil to the United States is facing a major delay. According to U.S. State Department sources, the State Department will order a new route for the Keystone XL pipeline. The initial pipeline route would carry millions of barrels of oil from Alberta through six U.S. states to Gulf Coast refineries. The new route will take the pipeline away from a major source of drinking water in Nebraska.

Environmentalists in both the United States and Canada loudly warned that the pipeline posed too great a risk of contamination in the case of an accident. A new route will force the State Department to conduct another environmental review. A final decision on the project will come only after the U.S. presidential election next year. But the pipeline's Canadian builder, Transcanada, says that a route change could delay construction for years. Canada's government reacted adversely to news of the change.


South African ruling party expels firebrand


South Africa's governing African National Congress kicked its Youth League leader, Julius Malema, out of the party for five years on Thursday after finding him guilty of sowing division. The decision dealt a major blow to the political career of the controversial Mr. Malema and his push to nationalize mines in the world's biggest platinum producer.

Derek Hanekom, head of the ANC disciplinary panel, said Mr. Malema had been found guilty of sowing serious divisions in the party and of bringing the 99-year-old liberation movement into disrepute. He can appeal the outcome to the ANC's National Executive Committee, headed by President Jacob Zuma. Suspension of Mr. Malema should help pave the way for Mr. Zuma to secure a second term as ANC leader.

South Sudan claims bombing by North


Officials in South Sudan report that military aircraft from Sudan crossed the new international border with South Sudan and dropped bombs Thursday in and around a camp filled with refugees fleeing violence in the north. At least 12 people were killed. The violence in and near the Yida refugee camp, located 15 kilometres south of the border, came one day after bombings were reported in another region of South Sudan, an attack that provoked strong condemnation from the U.S. State Department.

The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, says he fears the Khartoum-based government intends to invade the south soon. The black African tribes of South Sudan and the mainly Arab north battled two civil wars over more than five decades, and some two million died in the latest war, from 1983-2005. South Sudan became its own country in July after a successful independence referendum.

UNESCO forced to scale back


UNESCO says it will not take on any new projects between now and the end of the year after the U.S. pulled its contributions from the U.N. cultural agency to protest its acceptance of Palestine as a member. An official at the agency said Thursday that all programs already committed to will be carried out. In a dramatic vote last month, Palestine won full membership at the agency, leading the United States and Canada to pull funding. Washington was providing one-fifth of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's annual budget. On Wednesday, Director-General Irina Bokova set out a series of proposals to raise more money for the organization.

Mediator tries again for Yemen settlement


A UN envoy returned to Yemen on Thursday to try to persuade President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit under a Gulf-brokered plan to halt months of unrest, which flared again in the city of Taiz where security forces fired on protesters. One person was killed and eight were wounded in the shooting in Taiz, Yemen's commercial capital, 200 kilometres south of Sanaa, after demonstrators had called for Mr. Saleh to be put on trial.

A government official said three soldiers were killed when militants on a motorcycle shot at a patrol in the southeastern port city of Mukalla. In Sana'a, officials said U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar would meet Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and opposition leaders to try to clinch the deal devised by Yemen's Persian Gulf neighbours to end nine months of protests against the president's 33-year rule.

Thai govt. offers business flood relief


Thailand's government offered more help Thursday to businesses affected by widespread flooding, as water spread deeper into Bangkok and threatened to cut off a major highway. The flooding since late July has killed 533 people, caused billions of dollars in damage, and flooded hundreds of factories north of the capital.

Water draining from central and northern provinces to the sea has surrounded Bangkok, threatening chaos in the crowded city of more than 9 million people. Industrial closures have had effects well beyond Thailand, since the factories supply key components for several industries,particularly automobiles and computers. New measures announced Thursday include allowing companies to temporarily outsource production to maintain customer deliveries and extending import tax exemptions on replacements for damaged machinery.

New Greek leader is banker


Senior banker Lucas Papademos was named Thursday to be the new prime minister of an interim Greek unity government that seeks to cement a new European debt deal and stave off national bankruptcy. Mr. Papademos, who was named after four tortuous days of power-sharing talks, immediately called for unity and promised to seek cross-party co-operation to keep Greece firmly in the 17-nation eurozone.

The 64-year-old former vice-president of the European Central Bank was chosen to lead a temporary government backed by both the governing Socialists and opposition conservatives that will operate until early elections, tentatively set for February. He replaces outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou. Mr. Papademos insists that Greece must defend its euro membership. The new cabinet, whose members were not immediately named, will be sworn in Friday afternoon.


Alberta launches oilsands info site


The government of Alberta has opened its books on the oilsands. A new online information site offers fast information on everything from greenhouse gas emissions to oil production to land disturbance in one place, for free. The Oilsands Information Portal won't contain any information that industry considers proprietary, something observers have long asked for.

The result of three years of work, the portal combines federal and provincial data from four ministries and five agencies. Much of it is broken down for individual companies and facilities. It will also provide continually refreshed data on air and water monitoring. Researchers have long complained that information on the industry is too hard to get and spread out among agencies, some of which refused to provide it without expensive and time-consuming access-to-information requests.

Police open inquiry into Chinese forestry firm


The Globe and Mail reports that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has launched an investigation into allegations that Toronto-listed Chinese timberland company Sino-Forest Corp. has defrauded investors. The newspaper cited sources as saying the investigation centres on whether executives committed fraud by overstating the value of the company's assets and revenue.

The involvement of federal police follows probes already launched by the Ontario Securities Commission and a special committee of the company's board to investigate allegations levelled in June by short-seller Muddy Waters Research, which accused the company of exaggerating its sales and assets. Last week, a Sino-Forest board member, who was involved in probing the allegations, resigned.

Sino-Forest was once the most valuable forestry company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Though it has offices in suburban Toronto and Hong Kong, virtually all of Sino-Forest's operations are in China where it ownstimberlands and manufacturing plants.

Gold miner upbeat about new project review


Taseko Mines says it`s optimistic now that a federal environmental review of a revised plan for its proposed Prosperity copper and gold mine is underway. CEO Russell Hallbauer pointed to a 12-month timeline for the review as a key factor in the panel review announced earlier this week. The review is Taseko's second attempt to win federal approval for the mine, which was rejected by Ottawa last year after a negative environmental assessment of a plan that would have turned a lake into a tailings pond.

On Monday, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency agreed to a second review of what the company is calling its New Prosperity proposal. Under the new plan, Taseko would spend an extra $300 million on the project to address the main concerns of the last environmental rejection, including the preservation of Fish Lake. Several First Nations have opposed the project because the original mine proposal would see the destruction of the lake, considered culturally significant for them.

MARKETS


TSX on Thursday: 12,109 - 47. Dollar: US.98. Euro: $1.36. Oil: $97.65 + $1.91.


WEATHER


British Columbia on Friday: rain, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon: snow. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse -8, Yellowknife -3, Iqaluit -5. Alberta: rain. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 6, Regina 4, Winnipeg 5. Ontario, Quebec: rain. Toronto 8, Ottawa 4, Montreal 7. Maritimes: rain. Newfoundland and Labrador: mix sun cloud. Fredericton 13, Halifax 14, Charlottetown 15, St. John's 10.