Friday, December 16, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 15 December 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports

Ottawa tells Canadian to clear out of Syria

Canada's government is offering to help transport all Canadians out of Syria. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement this morning. He has urged Canadians to leave Syria during the next month while the offer is in effect. He said that strict sanctions imposed on Canadian diplomats in Syria could create problems for Canadians seeking travel documents. He added that if the situation in Syria deteriorates further, Canada might close its embassy.

Canada is among the countries that have imposed sanctions on Syria in an attempt to force President Bashar al-Assad to end the violence against anti-government protesters. Some estimates put the number of people killed in protests at over five thousand.

Bank foresees low growth

The Bank of Nova Scotia says the Canadian economy is likely to imitate the slow growth of the U.S. next year as household spending is squeezed by a weak jobs market and record consumer debt. The bank predicts that domestic economic growth will come in below two per cent for the year, driven mostly by demand in the resource sector and public infrastructure. Canada will also also suffer from output growth in the United States, which the bank says will struggle to reach two per cent in 2012, even with interest rates at historic lows.

The estimates are similar to a report from TD Bank released Wednesday which saw the bank downgrade its economic growth expectations to 1.7 per cent next year.

Ottawa maintains trustee for native village

Canadian Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan says he intends to keep the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation under third-party management for now. But after meeting with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and other regional chiefs in Thunder Bay, ON, on Thursday, Mr. Duncan held out hope to the band that the financial control won't stay long. The minister also confirmed construction will begin on a new elementary school in the Cree community this spring, after years of lobbying by residents.

That's unlikely to appease Chief Theresa Spence, who has been adamant that the third-party manager must relinquish control of the band's cash flow right now. Mr. Duncan with the chief for about 90 minutes. The two sides were attempting to deal with a housing crisis as winter settles in on the northern Ontario reserve.

Alleged terrorist wants ordeal to end

A Toronto man jailed or under strict house arrest for 11 years without charge is making an appeal to be released unconditionally. Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub says his ordeal has taken an immense toll on him and his family. Based on secret evidence, the federal government has branded Mahjoub, an Egyptian, a threat to national security for links to terrorism. Mahjoub says the government should either put its evidence on the table and charge him, or release him right away. He says subjecting him to intrusive house arrest, including constant surveillance, is inhuman.

Canada's spy service has conceded that most of the information against the 51-year-old married father of two was derived from sources linked to torture.

Manitoba floods cause deficit

Manitoba's premier says this year's unprecedented flood is going to boost the province's deficit. Greg Selinger told the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce that flood costs from this year poses a very significant financial challenge for the province. He told the audience that flood costs have grown to more than $800 million. Mr. Selinger says some of that will be covered by Ottawa but it will still push Manitoba's deficit upwards. Hundreds of people still haven't been able to return home following devastating spring flooding.

Cause of NB nuclear spill unclear

Officials at the Point Lepreau nuclear power station in New Brunswick say it will take some time to determine why radioactive heavy water leaked from a piece of equipment this week. Staff were evacuated from the New Brunswick nuclear plant when four to six litres of the water spilled on Tuesday from a piece of monitoring equipment. Station director Wade Parker told the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa Thursday that measures were taken to ensure the equipment was ready for service and that they are trying to find the cause of the leak.

NB Power says the potential risk to the environment is negligible and there were no health implications for workers or the public.


Russia proposes end to Syria violence

Russia surprised fellow UN Security Council members on Thursday with a proposed new resolution to address the rising violence in Syria. Western members of the council who have been pressing for tough measures against President Bashar Assad's regime welcomed the move, but said it didn't go far enough because it didn't include an arms embargo or other sanctions.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the text calls for an end to the violence that the UN estimates has killed 5,000 people over nine months. In the draft, the Security Council "demands that all parties in Syria immediately stop any violence irrespective of where it comes from." It also "urges the Syrian government to put an end to suppression of those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

U.S. ends military mission in Iraq

The U.S. military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday with a businesslike closing ceremony behind blast walls in a fortified compound at Baghdad airport. The flag used by U.S. forces in Iraq was lowered and boxed up in a 45-minute ceremony. No senior Iraqi political figures attended. With that, and brief words from top American officials who flew in under tight security still necessary because of the ongoing violence in Iraq, the U.S. drew the curtain on a war that left 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis dead.

Hundreds protest in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to try to disperse hundreds of opposition supporters attempting to protest alongside a highway leading to the island kingdom's capital Thursday. The clashes follow 10 months of unrest between Bahrain's Sunni monarchy and an opposition movement led by the country's majority Shiites.

They came during a visit by the U.S. State Department's top human rights envoy, who expressed concern about the government's use of tear gas and other tough tactics against protesters. Thursday's clashes erupted near the town of Diraz and other opposition stronghold villages west of the capital, Manama. Riot police were seen chasing protesters away from entrances to the key highway and back into the largely Shiite communities that line the road.

Rotgut booze kills dozens of Indians

A batch of bootleg liquor laced with toxic methanol killed 143 people and sickened dozens more who purchased the illegal brew at small shops in eastern India, Police have arrested seven suspected bootleggers. Day labourers and other poor workers began falling ill late Tuesday after drinking cheap booze from illegal shops near the village of Sangrampur. Groups of men gathered after their shifts to drink along a road side near a railway station late Tuesday when they began vomiting, suffering piercing headaches and frothing at the mouth. Angry villagers later ransacked the booze shops.

Brazil sues over oil spill

Brazilian prosecutors have sued Chevron Corp, the No. 2 U.S. oil company, and top offshore oil rig operator Transocean Ltd. for $10.6 billion over their alleged roles in a November oil spill near Rio de Janeiro. The civil suit filed by federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro state also seeks to suspend the companies from operating in Brazil, a move that could halt operations of the 10 Transocean offshore drilling rigs operating in the country.

The case will add to already-large legal headaches for both companies. Chevron has already faced years of litigation over alleged pollution by Texaco, a company it bought, in Ecuador's Amazon region decades ago. Transocean was the rig operator in the giant four-billion-barrel Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Russian leader rejects holding new vote

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vehemently rejected opposition calls for a rerun of the parliamentary election, accusing those who organized massive protests against vote fraud of working to weaken Russia at the West's behest. Mr. Putin insisted Thursday that the Dec. 4 parliamentary election, which drew allegations of fraud and triggered the largest protests in Russia in 20 years, was a genuine reflection of the people's will.

He also put a positive spin on the protests that dented his power and threatened his bid to reclaim presidency in the March 4 vote. He also accused protest organizers of working to destabilize the country on orders from the West. The comments came on the same day that his most notable competitor, Mikhail Prokhorov, announced that his first move if elected would be to pardon jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Former French president guilty

A French court found former President Jacques Chirac guilty in a historic verdict Thursday of embezzling public funds to illegally finance the conservative party he long led, and handed him a suspended prison sentence. Mr. Chirac is the first former French head of state to face prosecution since the World War II era.

The 79-year-old former leader did not take part in the trial, after doctors determined that he suffers severe memory lapses. The court said Thursday it had found Chirac guilty in two related cases involving fake jobs created at the RPR party, which he led during his 1977-1995 tenure as Paris mayor.

Chinese authorities try to end village revolt

China's government is trying to defuse a revolt in a small fishing village, offering to investigate the land seizures that touched off the rebellion and vowing to punish leaders of the uprising. The village of Wukan has for months been the site of simmering protests by locals who say officials sold farmland to developers without their consent.

On Wednesday, the mayor of Shanwei city, which oversees Wukan, a village of 20,000, threatened to take strong measures against those who instigated others to create trouble and damage public property. At the same time, Mayor Wu Zili promised to investigate local officials for wrongdoing and impose a temporary freeze on one farmland development project until a majority of villagers are satisfied with the conditions of the land transfer.


RIM profit down

Research In Motion is reporting a profit of US$265 million in its latest quarter as revenue slipped despite a big increase in BlackBerry subscribers around the world. The smartphone maker says the profit amounted to 51 cents per share, down from $911 million or $1.74 per share a year ago. Excluding one time items, including a writedown to the value of its inventory of PlayBook tablets, the company says it earned $667 million or $1.27 per share in the quarter. Revenue for what was the company's third quarter totalled $5.17 billion, down from $5.5 billion. RIM reported it now has about 75 million BlackBerry users around the world, up from 70 million previously.

Controversial pipeline would be expanded

TransCanada Pipeline Corp. says shippers for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline have backed a 19 percent increase in its capacity as well as plans to build an extension to Houston-area refineries. The move, which is subject to the delayed regulatory approval, would boost capacity for shipment of Alberta oilsands crude to 830,000 barrels a day from 700,000. It would also double the refining capacity on the Gulf Coast accessable by Keystone XL.

The beefed-up proposal has no bearing on the U.S. state department's deliberations on approving the project. Last month, the state department, after studying the project for more than three years, pushed off its decision well into 2013, past the U.S. presidential election next November.

Drilling requirement for Arctic maintained

Canada's energy regulator will continue to require that oil and gas companies wanting to operate in sensitive Arctic waters be able to drill immediate relief wells to help contain blowouts. The recommendation was released Thursday by the National Energy Board in its review of the rules for northern offshore drilling. The review was undertaken after the massive 2010 oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the board suggests in accompanying documents that it might be willing to consider alternatives on a case-by-case basis. In public hearings on the policy, energy companies testified that other technologies would be able to achieve the same or better control of a blown-out well without incurring the cost of having two drilling rigs in the area. Environmental groups responded that such methods are untested, particularly in harsh Arctic conditions.


TSX on Thusday: 11,496 - 47. Dollar: US.96. Euro: $1.34. Oil: $93.55 - $1.40.




Pan Am Games organizers say a site in Milton, ON, is now being considered for the multi-sport competition's indoor cycling events. Officials in the town west of Toronto stepped up after nearby Vaughan and Hamilton decided to get out of the running for the velodrome. The Pan Am organizing committee says its confirmation of the Milton site is conditional on getting a binding agreement from the town by Jan. 24. The Pan Am Games will be held in 2015 in Toronto and surrounding communities.

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