Sunday, December 25, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 24 December 2011
Canadian International Sports Weather

Arraignment postponed for alleged neo-Nazis

Three alleged neo-Nazis in Vancouver, British Columbia, who are accused in a series of assaults, have had their court arraignment postponed until early in the new year. Robertson De Chazal, 25, and Alastair Miller, 20, are charged with lighting a Filipino man on fire in October, 2009, as he slept on a discarded couch.

The victim suffered burns to his arms, neck and head.

Shawn MacDonald, 39, was charged with a 2010 assault on an aboriginal woman and her Hispanic boyfriend, and a 2008 assault on a black man. If the men are convicted, the Crown could ask for a hate crime designation in the cases, which is used as an aggravating factor at sentencing.

All three are alleged to be members of Blood and Honour, a loosely knit white supremacist group with around 15 followers. On its Canadian website, the group describes itself as a "nationalist organization and European cultural group" that has a legitimate interest in its members "European cultural identity under one common banner."

Mexican-bound Canadians told to carry passports in near-perfect condition

Canadians planning a Mexican getaway this holiday season would be well advised to carry a passport that is in near-perfect condition.

Calgary-based Westjet Airlines says Mexican authorities are especially stringent when it comes to the physical condition of travellers' passports.

Any tears, holes or water damage could result in a denial of entry to the country. Passport Canada recommends that individuals with a damaged passport apply for a new one, regardless of their destination.

RCMP accused of racism within ranks

Still reeling from numerous allegations of sexism within its ranks, Canada's national police force, the RCMP, is now facing new charges of racism. Donna Delaronde, who joined the force as a special constable in 1989, eventually quit. She says it was because of the racist treatment she was forced to endure.

Delaronde, who is a member of Canada's First Nations, says she experienced racist attitudes among her RCMP colleagues while working out of the Swan River, Manitoba, detachment, including one incident in 1994 that almost cost her her life. While trying to arrest a drunk driver one night, she said, she called for backup but no officers came to her assistance, leaving her to fight the belligerent man alone. He beat her until she passed out. "He just hit me right on my face here and I felt my cheek immediately swell up and all I could see was blood from my face," she recalled.

However, she said, she was determined to live out her dream job until a superior personally made sure she knew in 1997 she was not welcome in the RCMP.

Canadian volunteers on way to help flood-stricken southern Philippines

A Canadian disaster relief organization is on its way to the Philippines to help in the area devastated by last weekend's flash floods. GlobalMedic volunteers will provide clean drinking water for people who lost their homes.

More than 1-thousand people died and a thousand more are still missing. More than a quarter of a million people were left homeless by the flooding.

Harper's Christmas message dwells on the economy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's annual Christmas message is focusing on jobs and the economy. Mr. Harper noted that in spite of global instability, Canada's economy has performed well, compared to other nations.

He said he looks forward to a stable economy in 2012 and noted that Canada is a more confident and united country than ever before.

No abortions on the Island

Women in Prince Edward Island who were hoping to gain access to abortion services there have had their hopes dashed. The premier of Canada's smallest province, Robert Ghiz, says there will be no change to the policy that requires women to leave the island if they want to terminate their pregnancy. Mr. Ghiz was responding to a renewed campaign by a reproductive rights group to have abortion services introduced on the island. He said his newly-elected Liberal government will not budge on the issue.

In Ottawa, a Conservative backbencher is hoping to use what he described as "21st century medical evidence" to reopen the abortion debate on a national scale. Stephen Woodworth, who has campaigned against abortion, says Parliament should re-examine a set of 17th century English common law principles, inherited by Canada and other former British colonies, that say a child must be born before it can be considered a legal person. The principles have formed the basis for modern-day court judgments that have denied legal rights to the unborn.

But it's a definition Mr. Woodworth said would likely be challenged using modern-day technology capable of detecting human life with much more precision. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated on more than one occasion that his government has no interest in debating abortion

Attawapiskat residents now "warm and dry"

Residents of a remote community in Canada's north that drew global attention earlier this year now have a temporary shelter as they await new housing. The Attawapiskat First Nation declared an emergency in October because 25 families were living in housing too flimsy to face the harsh winter.

In response, the Red Cross raised $300,000 from Canadian donors and flew in emergency supplies for families in the most precarious conditions. The community's healing centre has now been retrofitted as a temporary shelter.

Aboriginal affairs minister John Duncan says families in the northern Ontario community now have access to "safe, warm, dry shelter."

The federal government has purchased 22 new modular houses, with the hope that they'll be in place later this winter.


Prince Philip on the mend

Queen Elizabeth and other members of Britain's royal family visited Prince Philip in hospital Saturday where he is recovering from a cardiac surgical procedure. The 90-year-old prince was airlifted on Friday from the Sandringham estate, where the royals were celebrating Christmas, and taken to hospital for an operation to unblock a coronary artery.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Princess Anne joined the queen at Philip's bedside at Papworth hospital near Cambridge in eastern England, Buckingham Palace said. "The Duke of Edinburgh had a good night and is in good spirits but he is eager to leave," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told reporters outside the hospital. He was however set to remain in hospital under observation for a "short period", the palace said without elaborating.

The prince will not attend the traditional Christmas Day church service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate, the palace announced, and reports suggested he could be kept in hospital for up to five days.

Syria buries dead from Friday's suicide bombs

Thousands of Syrians chanted "Death to America" on Saturday during funeral processions in Damascus for at least 44 people killed in twin suicide bombings that rocked the capital Friday.

Syria's government has blamed al Qaeda for the blasts which hit two security buildings on Friday. Some opponents of President Bashar al Assad said the attacks could have been staged by the government itself. The attacks happened one day after an Arab League delegation arrived in Damascus to prepare for monitors who will report on President Assad's implementation of a plan to end the bloodshed which began after a popular revolt erupted last March.

The UN has condemned Friday's bombings. But the UN Security Council is still working on a resolution aimed at ending the violence which has left 5,000 people dead.

Russians hold new protests

Mikhail Gorbachev, who resigned as Soviet president 20 years ago tomorrow, is urging Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to follow his example and step down. He says Putin would then be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power. The former Soviet leader spoke on Russian radio Saturday as protestors gathered across the country to demand a re-run of parliamentary elections.

They allege the vote - held earlier this month - was rigged. Officially, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party won a majority of seats, but with a much smaller share of the overall vote.

Police said 29,000 people had turned out for the Moscow rally but organisers said 120,000 filled the area to bursting point, as a sea of people stretched down the avenue as far as the eye could see.

Yemen's Republican Guard fires on peaceful protestors

Yemen's powerful Republican Guard forces are firing rifles and using tear gas and water cannons to attack a march by an estimated 100,000 protesters demanding the president be put on trial.

The forces are commanded by President Ali Abdullah Saleh's son. They attacked the protesters who earlier Saturday converged on the capital, Sanaa, after a four-day march from a southern city. At least 30 people were reported injured.

Protestors object to a deal under which Saleh would step down in return for immunity from prosecution.

Bethlehem flooded with tourists for Christmas Eve mass

Thousands of pilgrims and tourists have gathered in the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations. Israel's Tourism Ministry says it expects 90-thousand tourists to visit the holy land for the Christmas holiday. The number would be about the same as last year's record-breaking tally.

The biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem is considered the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The main event will be midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity, built over the site where Jesus is thought to have been born.

State media hails Kim Jong-un as supreme commander of the military

North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un has been hailed by state media as "supreme commander" of the country's powerful armed forces for the first time. The ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun also called on Kim Jong-un to lead North Korea to "eternal victory".

State media had been calling Mr Kim "the great successor" after the death of his father Kim Jong-il on Monday. Mr Kim has little political experience and experts believe senior officials are guiding the transition. Last year, Mr Kim was made a four-star general and given senior positions in the government and the Workers' Party.

China sentences more dissidents on subversion charges

A veteran Chinese activist has been charged with subversion, after another dissident was jailed for nine years in a crackdown aimed at preventing Arab Spring-style democratic uprisings.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reports that Chen Xi was arrested Nov. 29 and charged Friday in the southern province of Guizhou.

The Hong Kong-based centre said Mr. Chen, who left prison in 2005 after serving a 10-year sentence, was accused of writing 30 essays that incited subversion. On Friday, activist Chen Wei was sentenced to nine years, also on subversion charges.

Violence escalates in Nigeria's northeast

Sectarian violence in Nigeria has led to at least 68 deaths as battles rage between Nigerian security forces and an Islamist sect. Boko Haram wants to impose Islamic sharia law across the country which is split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims. It has been blamed for scores of shootings and bombings in Nigeria's remote, semi-arid northeast.

Clashes between security forces and the sect, whose name roughly translates as "Western education is forbidden", have become increasingly frequent in the past couple of weeks, as the north's simmering conflict escalates.

Before this year, the Islamist insurgency was largely contained in its heartland in Maiduguri. It has since has spread to other parts of the north, including neighbouring Yobe state.



NHL arenas are dark for the Christmas holiday. Teams are taking a two-day break before getting back to the grind on Boxing Day, when 20 teams are in action.

The countdown is on for the start of the world junior hockey tournament. Canada kicks things off against Finland on Boxing Day in Edmonton. The Canadian team will be looking to avenge last year's third period collapse in the final against Russia.


Christmas Day, December 25, 2011

It'll be a wet, not white, Christmas Day in Vancouver, with a high of 8.

Mild and mainly sunny weather in Alberta with highs of 6 in Edmonton and 8 in Calgary.

Similar conditions in Saskatchewan with highs of 5 in Saskatoon and 4 in Regina.

Winnipeg will have a mainly sunny day with a high of 1.

Some snow for Toronto with a high of 3.

Snow in Ottawa with a high of minus 2.

Montreal will also have a white Christmas with a high of minus 3.

Fredericton, snow and minus 8. Halifax, some sun and cloud with a high of minus 4.

Charlottetown, a mix of sun and cloud, chance of flurries, and a high of minus 5.

Same for St. John's with a high of minus 7.

Whitehorse will enjoy a mild minus 2 under mainly sunny skies.

Snow and minus 19 inYellowknife.

And snow and minus 13 for Iqaluit.

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