Thursday, December 29, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 28 December 2011
Canadian International Financial Weather
Canadian

Governor-General encourages volunteerism


Canada's Governor-General has issued a New Year's message calling on Canadians to continue being generous toward one another. David Johnston says, whether it's because of our climate or geography, the gift of giving is ingrained in Canadian society. Mr. Johnston says he's looking forward to the New Year and the celebrations marking the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup. The hockey championship trophy was donated by former Governor-General, Lord Grey.



Canadian confirmed dead in Hong Kong


Police in Hong Kong have confirmed that a body found there last week was that of Canadian Joey Basha. The young musician and student, originally from the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador, had been living in Hong Kong since 2008. Mr. Basha was studying international and public affairs at the University of Hong Kong. He was also the lead singer in a band called, Milkteeth.



Canadian dies after alleged police beating in Grenada


The prime minister of Grenada has ordered an investigation into the death of a Canadian man in an apparent case of police brutality. His spokesman says Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has asked for details about the death Tuesday, of 39-year-old Oscar Bartholomew. News reports from the eastern Caribbean island say Mr. Bartholomew was beaten by police officers after he mistook a plainclothes female officer for a friend, and hugged her.



Canadian skydiver killed in California accident


A skydiver, killed in a risky jump in Southern California, has been identified as a Canadian man. 32-year-old Michael Unger of Ontario died Tuesday afternoon at a sport parachuting facility in Perris Valley. Authorities say Unger, who was an experienced skydiver, may have been trying an aggressive "swooping" manoeuvre involving a high-speed dive to skim over the ground before landing.



Elevated avalanche risk in British Columbia


Authorities in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia have ordered several highways closed and are warning people to stay out of the province's back-country. The risk of avalanches is high after heavy, wet snow fell on top of a weak snowpack. The warning covers a large part of B.C. from the North Columbia all the way down to the Kootenay Boundary region as well as the entire south coast, including the North Shore and Whistler-Blackcomb, and coastal and inland sections of the Northwest. The risk is also said to be considerable on some slopes below the treeline, where the chance of an avalanche usually is lower. The Trans Canada Highway is closed for avalanche control between Revelstoke and Golden. Similar closures are also in effect for Highways 3 and 23.



No information released on shipment of Canadian nuclear material


Canada's nuclear commission is not releasing information about shipments of weapons-grade uranium within Canada or deliveries the United States.

A confidential report obtained through the Access to Information Act says at least one shipment of used uranium fuel has already been moved to the U-S under a new Canada-U-S deal.

Such shipments are protected by intense security protocol which means specifics like routes, transportation method, quantities and schedules remain top secret.

One nuclear expert says theft is the primary concern when shipping highly enriched uranium fuel because there is virtually no danger of leaks or explosions.



Claims a long process for Canada's unemployed


Reports says that thousands of unemployed Canadians are waiting for the federal government to process their claims for employment insurance.

The delay is said to be a result of reducing staff at the federal agency Services Canada that is responsbile for employment benefits.

Hundreds of additional processing agents were hired during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009.

But those people and others have since been let go or left withouit being replaced. As a result, critics claim the the system is in turmoil.



Canada will not bid for United Nations Council seat


Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the government will not prepare another campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Last year Canada lost to Portugal in an attempt for one of two non-veto seats on the council.

It was the first time in the U-N's sixty-year history that Canada failed to win a seat for which it made a bid.
Baird says more votes may have come Canada's way had Canadian officials not mentioned human rights abuses in some countries.



Canada's foreign affairs to play bigger role


Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, says foreign policy is essential to the country's economic prosperity.

He mentioned a number of free trade and foreign investment agreements being pursued by the government with other nations especially the United States, Canada's biggest trading partner.

Baird also says Canada has opened trade offices in China, India, Brazil and other areas that are beneficial to Canada.

The budget for Canada's Foreign Affairs Ministry has increased by about $700-million since 2006 to $2.8 billion.

However, critics are upset with, what they say, is the government's support of the military over Canada's traditional strength, diplomacy.



New technology to examine dinosaur bones in Canada


A professor at a university in the western Canadian Province of Saskatchewan is using very sophisticated technology to examine the bones of dinsosaur fossils.

University of Regina physics professor Mauricio Barbi is using a synchrotron.

It's a source of brilliant light that lets scientists study the microstructure and chemical properties of materials.

Some of the fossils he'll be examining are from, a Tyrannosaurus rex found in Saskatchewan in 1991.





International

U.S.-Iran exchange "warnings"


The U.S. says it will not allow any disruption of shipping traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. The head of Iran's navy, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, earlier warned that the country is prepared to close the strategic waterway if the West imposes sanctions on its oil shipments over Iran's suspected nuclear programme. In response, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based5th Fleet said the U.S. Navy is "always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation". Lt. Rebecca Rebarich indicated that the free flow of goods and services through the strait is vital to regional and global prosperity and any disruption will not be tolerated. The Fifth Fleet is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Arabian Sea. More than 15 percent of the world's oil goes through the strait of Hormuz.



Death toll mounts as Arab League monitors tour Syria


Observers from the Arab League spent a second day in the Syrian city of Homs Wednesday, hearing witness accounts about the regime's crackdown on dissidents. At the same time, Syrian troops opened fire on thousands of protesters in the nearby city of Hama. At least 6 people were killed, bringing to 39 the number of people killed since the Arab League monitors began their work. Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, meantime, is reporting that the Syrian government released 755 political prisoners today (Wednesday). But, the group Human Rights Watch and Syrian opposition members claim the prisoners, have been transferred to military sites which are off-limits to Arab League observers.



Funeral of North Korean leader


Tens of thousands of North Koreans watched the funeral procession Wednesday of longtime leader Kim Jong-Il in the streets of the capital, Pyongyang. His son and successor, Kim Jong-Un, led the three-hour procession. Kim Jong-Il's absolute 17-year rule was marked by a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people, a weak state-directed economy and the pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons which brought international sanctions. United Nations agencies have said six million people, a quarter of the North Korean population still urgently need food aid. Kim died of a heart attack on December 17 at the age of 69. Mourning will officially endThursday with a nationwide memorial service including a three-minute silence.



China to make its currency more flexible


China has promised to make its exchange rate more flexible. The statement came a day after the United States said the yuan currency was undervalued. The U.S. Treasury says the yuan had risen 7.5 percent against the dollar in the 18 months since Beijing began allowing a managed appreciation. Nevertheless, Treasury officials call the level of appreciation insufficient and said more progress was needed. U.S .officials have long accused China of keeping its currency artificially low, leading to cheap exports that helped send the U.S. trade deficit with China to more than $270 billion in 2010. But, China defends its exchange rate process, saying it is moving gradually to make the yuan more flexible.



Russian President's  chief of staff leaves post


Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Vladislav Surkov is leaving his job as first deputy Kremlin chief of staff and will take charge of economic modernisation as deputy prime minister. Mr. Surkov was the strategist who designed Russia's tightly-controlled politics. His departure is seen by analysts as a reaction to the outburst of protests over disputed December 4 parliamentary elections that were said to be rigged. Mr. Surkov's successor is former top ruling party official Vyacheslav Volodin who critics claim will toughen Kremlin policy.



Argentina's President has cancer


Reports indicate that Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez has thyroid cancer and will undergo surgery next month. The operation is scheduled to take place on January 4 and she is expected to take a leave of absence until January. 24. Doctors say the prognosis is very good and thatPresident Fernandez'schances of being cured are 90 to 98 percent. The 58-year old Ms. Fernandez was easily elected to a second four-year term in October.





Financial

Higher premiums to take a bite out of Canadians' paycheques


Canadians will see their paycheques shrink in the New Year. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation calculates that higher premiums for employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan will cost both workers and employers about $306 in 2012. For workers, EI premiums will rise by five cents per $100 of insurable earnings to $1.83 on January 1, while the maximum insurable pay increases to $45,900 from $44,200. In addition, the maximum pensionable earnings rise to $50,100 from $48,300. That will take about $142 from the paycheques of employees who qualify for the maximum over the year. The hit on employers is slightly higher, at $164. The corporate tax-rate meantime is going down in the New Year. Starting January first, businesses will see their income tax rate drop to 15 percent from the current 16.5 percent.



Canadian economy among strongest in G-7: BMO


The Bank of Montreal says the Canadian economy was second only to Germany's during 2011. The bank's annual report card says only Germany had lower unemployment and a better current-account surplus. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce meantime, says Canada's economy likely will show moderate growth in 2012. It predicts Canada's gross domestic product will rise by 2 percent next year, and by 2.6 percent in 2013.



Power Corp. buys into Chinese investment firm


One of Canada's largest financial groups, Power Corporation, has completed its purchase of a minority stake in a Chinese investment company. Power Corporation, based in the city of Montreal, paid about $276 million for 10 per cent of China Asset Management Company Limited. The Chinese firm has $35 billion U.S. of assets under management. Power Corporation says its investment in China AMC will allow it to participate in China's growing demand for financial services.



Markets


The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 198 points to 11,728.The Canadian dollar fell 32-100ths to 97.64 cents U-S. The Dow industrials fell 140 points to 12,151. The Nasdaq dropped 35 points to 2,590. Oilfell $1.98 to US$99.36 a barrel.Gold Futures: (February) $1,564.10, down $31.40





Weather

Weather


Here is Canada's weather for Thursday, December 29. British Columbia will be cloudy. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 8 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, minus 6. Northwest Territories: mainly cloudy. Yellowknife, minus 20. Nunavut: clear skies. Iqaluit, minus 26. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, 3. Saskatchewan: light snow. Regina, 1. Manitoba: increasing cloudiness. Winnipeg, minus 4. Ontario: flurries. Toronto: 1. Ottawa, minus 13. Quebec: mainly sunny. Montreal, minus 12. New Brunswick: cloudy. Fredericton, minus 9. Nova Scotia: cloudy. Halifax, minus 2. Prince Edward Island: flurries. Charlottetown, minus 5. Newfoundland: showers. St. John's, 5.





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