Monday, December 26, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 25 December 2011
Canadian International Sports Weather
Canadian

Christmas traditions slipping in Canada


The traditions of Christmas appear to be on the wane across much of Canada, according to a poll done for Postmedia News and Global News.

Almost three quarter's of those surveyed by Ipsos Reid said they would be having a turkey for Christmas dinner, but that was down nine percentage points since 2007. Similarly, the number of Canadians who put up Christmas trees also declined, in this case by six points.

And even though 68 per cent of Canadians call themselves Christian, only 28 percent said they were planning to attend a Christmas church service.



G.G. brings Christmas cheer to troops abroad


Canada's governor general, David Johnston, is spending the holidays visiting Canadian soldiers and civilians in Italy and Afghanistan. He is accompanied by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and General Walt Natynczyk, chief of the defence staff. The three men visited earlier this week with Canadian military personnel in Italy who had taken part in the NATO-led mission in Libya.

Then they celebrated Christmas with Canadians soldiers who are now based in Kabul. The governor general also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior officials to discuss Canada's contribution to Afghanistan.

David Johnston says the sacrifice made by Canadians who are away from their families and friends at this time of the year is tremendous.

This year, around 950 Canadian soldiers are stationed in and around Kabul, providing classroom instruction to Afghan soldiers and police and trainers and also mentoring Afghan medical staff. The training mission, which replaces a 9-year combat mission, got underway this past summer.



Canada denounces "cowardly attacks" in Nigeria


Canada's foreign affairs minister, John Baird, issued the following statement in response to Sunday's attacks in Nigeria (see International below):

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones. “These people died practising their religion—a basic human right.

“Canada strongly denounces such cowardly attacks without reservation. It is unconscionable that they occurred on Christmas against individuals attending religious services.

“We stand with the people and the government of Nigeria at this difficult time and join those calling for all responsible to be brought to justice.”





International

Rally by cricketer-turned-politician draws over 100,000 supporters in Karachi


More than a hundred thousand people joined a rally on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday to show their dissatisfaction with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and their support for a political rival, cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan.

In a rousing speech punctuated with patriotic musical refrains, Khan pledged, if elected, to curb Pakistan's endemic corruption. And, he added, he would accomplish that within 90 days.

Khan's massive rally comes at a time of crisis in Pakistani politics. Tensions are rising between Pakistan's civilian leaders and its generals over a memo that accused the army of plotting a coup after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May. There are signs that Pakistan's powerful army is fed up with Zardari and wants the supreme court or early elections to force him from office. The army chief dismissed any rumours of a coup, however, as "speculation".



Christmas Mass bombings by radical Muslim sect in Nigeria


Christmas Day brought death and destruction in Nigeria, where Islamist militants set off bombs as people attended church services. The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across the country, claimed responsibility for the three church bombs, the second Christmas in a row the group has caused mass carnage with deadly bombings of churches.

Sunday's targets were a church on the outskirts of Abuja, one in Jos, and three in northern Yobe state. The combined death toll is close to 40.

Boko Haram - which in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria means "Western education is sinful" - is loosely modelled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. It has emerged as the biggest security threat in Nigeria, a country of 160 million, split evenly between Christians and Muslims.



Syrian opposition calls on Arab League to act now


The opposition Syrian National Council is calling on the Arab League to send observers immediately to the besieged city of Homs and other flashpoints affected by a bloody crackdown on dissent.

The appeal comes a day before a first group of Arab League observers is set to arrive in Syria to begin monitoring a deal the 22-member bloc agreed with the government in Damascus.

It is aimed at ending more than nine months of violence which the UN says has killed over 5,000 people. President Bashar al-Assad's regime maintains the revolt against his leadership is led by armed terrorists.



Prominent Egyptian blogger released


Egyptian authorities have released a prominent blogger detained on charges of inciting violence against the armed forces.

Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested in October after he refused to be questioned in connection with deadly clashes between the army and demonstrators in central Cairo that left 25 people dead.

A court source says that prosecutors are still investigating his case. His detention outraged activists who saw it as part of a broader crackdown by Egypt's ruling generals who replaced deposed President Hosni Mubarak last February.



Putin spokesman says prime minister supported by majority


A spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he still has the support of a majority of Russians.

The comment by Dmitry Peskov comes after mass protests across Russia on Saturday challenged Mr. Putin's authority two months before he stands in presidential polls.

Organisers said 120,000 people attended yesterday's rally in central Moscow where protesters demanded the annulment of disputed December parliamentary elections won by Putin's United Russia party.

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has made a dramatic call on Mr. Putin to quit saying if he steps down now, he'll be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power.



North Korea power-behind-throne emerges


The uncle of North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, has been shown on state television at his nephew's side wearing a military uniform, suggesting a key position.

Jang Song-taek had been expected to play a major part in smoothing the transfer of power to Kim Jong-un from his father, Kim Jong-il who died last weekend.

It's believed to be the first timeJang was shown in uniform. He's been more closely associated with the Communist party.

A Seoul official familiar with North Korean affairs said his appearance suggests that Jang has secured a key role in the North's powerful military, which has pledged its allegiance to Kim Jong-un.



Funeral ceremony blown up by suicide bomber in Afghanistan


A suicide bomber has blown himself up during a funeral in northern Afghanistan. At least 10 people were killed, including a member of the national parliament.

Suicide attacks are rare in Takhar province, which is located 250 kilometres north-east of Kabul. Elsewhere, the Interior Ministry said today that security forces killed 30 suspected insurgents in a series of clashes around the country.



Tragedy strikes Haitian migrants at sea


Tragedy struck dozens of Haitians who were apparently trying to flee their poverty-stricken homeland.

Cuba says 38 Haitian migrants died when the boat they were in sank off its eastern coast. Cuban civil defence forces have reportedly saved 87 others, including four children. A search continues for more survivors.



Queen stresses "family" in annual Christmas speech


Queen Elizabeth stressed the importance of family and friendship in her annual Christmas message. The Queen, who recorded her message before her husband, Prince Philip was hospitalized with a heart ailment, said that the importance of family was driven home by the marriages of two of her grandchildren this year.

Prince William and his brother Prince Harry paid a Christmas hospital visit to their grandfather where he is recovering. Prince Andrew's daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, also attended, along with Princess Anne's children, Zara and Peter.

Philip was forced to miss the royal family's traditional Christmas celebrations because he had a coronary stent put in Friday after suffering chest pains. Buckingham Palace has said Philip is in "good spirits



Pope Christmas peace appeal marred by Nigerian blasts


The Vatican has denounced the deadly Christmas Day attacks on Nigerian churches as a sign of "cruelty and absurd, blind hatred" that shows no respect for human life.

Meanwhile in his Christmas Day speech, the Pope called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, as well as for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Pope Benedict delivered the speech to thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

 





Sports

Spengler Cup


What is considered the oldest professional hockey tournament in the world opens Monday in Davos, Switzerland, where the Spengler Cup has been held since 1923.

Canada opens the tournament with a game against Czech team HC Vitkovice Steel.

Canada has appeared in nine tournament finals since 2000. Its last championship was in 2007.





Weather

Monday, December 26, 2011


Rain and 7 in Vancouver.

Sunny in Alberta, with highs of 1 in Edmonton and 3 in Calgary.

Wet snow or rain across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with highs of 2 in Saskatoon, 1 in Regina and 3 in Winnipeg.

There's sunshine across much of central Canada, with highs of 4 in Toronto, minus 1 in Ottawa and minus 5 in Montreal.

Snowflurries in Fredericton. High zero.

Sun, snow and rain for Halifax, with a high of 3.

Snowflurries and 1 in Charlottetown.

Clear and minus 3 for St. John's.

Snow for the far north, with highs of minus 1 in Whitehorse, minus 25 in Yellowknife and minus 18 in Iqaluit.





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