Monday, December 12, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Canada optimistic new climate deal can be reached by 2015



Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent says he is cautiously optimistic a new global climate agreement can be reached by 2015, following the conclusion of a UN summit in Durban, South Africa. Delegates from nearly 200 nations agreed that a new treaty will be drafted legally binding all nations to fulfill pledges to cut greenhouse gasses. Specifically China and India will be held to the same standard as the United States.

The so-called Durban Platform will be implemented no later than 2020 -- and the Kyoto Protocol has been extended until then to fill the gap. Mr. Kent described the agreement as a fair and balanced framework for responsible and effective action and pledged to work to address climate change.

But he reiterated Canada's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and said the federal government will not undertake a second commitment period to the treaty. Canada has argued that the world's biggest polluters - the U.S. China and India, are not part of Kyoto - and therefore the agreement is meaningless. The Durban agreement has been met with mixed reaction by environmental groups. Some describe it as an important step forward and others say it is too little too late.

Suncor Energy suspends Syrian operations


Calgary-based Suncor Energy says it is suspending its operations in Syria following the imposition of economic sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The company says it is working through a plan to safely withdraw its foreign staff while retaining its Syrian employees.

Pressure has been mounting on Suncor to close its operations since new international sanctions were imposed on the regime by Britain, Canada and the U.S. earlier this month. Suncor is still known in Syria by the name Petro-Canada.

NDP leadership hopefuls hold townhall meeting

The nine candidates for the leadership of Canada's official opposition New Democratic party attended a town hall meeting in Vancouver, Saturday. The focus of the meeting was childcare. British Columbia M-P Nathan Cullen described the Conservative government's policy of giving families 100 dollars a month per child for childcare as a "a slap in the face."

And Toronto M-P Peggy Nash said she would make an affordable, accessible and reliable childcare program a first-term priority, if she wins the leadership. The NDP convention to choose a leader to replace the late Jack Layton who died of cancer in July will be held March 24th.

More help for aboriginal community

Canada's government is going to send additional portable homes to a native community facing hardship. The government had promised to send 15 homes to the native reserve in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario, but Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced on Sunday that seven more units will be added. The added units fulfill the community's request for 22 homes. On Saturday, the government sent supplies to the isolated community, including wood stoves, composting toilets and plastic sheeting. Chief Theresa Spence has also approved renovations for a healing centre to temporarily house residents.

Many in the community were facing the winter in unheated shelters. Canada's government was criticized for failing to offer aid immediately. The government argued that it first wanted to conduct an audit of the community's finances to determine how the community had spent $90 million in government funds.

Bloc Quebecois elects new leader

Canada's opposition Bloc Quebecois party chose Daniel Paille as its new leader on Sunday. The Bloc is a separatist party in the Province of Quebec and its candidates for national office campaign only in Quebec. The Bloc was once the largest opposition party in the House of Commons, but it suffered a major defeat in the latest election and now has only four members of parliament. Three candidates vied to succeed long-time leader Gilles Duceppe as head of the party. Mr. Paille is a former member of parliament who lost his seat in the last election. He takes charge as party membership has slumped by 25 per cent since the party's poor showing in the last election.

Russian president orders election fraud investigation

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the government to investigateallegations of electoral fraud during the Dec. 4 parliamentary vote. Tens of thousands of people rallied in Moscow and in other Russian cities on Saturday in the largest anti-government protest inpost-Soviet history to protest the reported fraud and demand theresignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Mr.Medvedev on Sunday broke two days of silence by posting a comment on Facebook, saying that he disagrees with the rally's demands and slogans. But he added he has instructed the government to check all reports of alleged vote rigging. Neither Mr.Medvedev nor Mr.Putinmade any public appearances on the weekend.

Syrian clashes claim more lives as strike begins

At least nine people died in clashes in Syria on Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two of the victims died in clashes between troops and deserters in the northern Idlib province. There were also reports of hundreds of defectors and troops clashing in the south, near the border with Jordan.

Meanwhile a general strike called by opposition activists is being widely observed in some areas, including southern Syria's Daraa province. Sunday is the beginning of the world week in Syria. propertyThe UN estimates more than 4,000 people have died in the nine-month uprising, including 307 children.



New tensions along Korean Peninsula

North Korea has warned South Korea of unexpected consequences if it lightsa Christmas tree-shaped steel tower structure near their tense border. The North' said such a movewould amount to a form of "psychological warfare". Seoul's annual tradition of lighting up a Christmas tree tower was suspended in 2003 following a warming of ties with Pyongyang. But last year,it resumed the tradition as relations chilled. Seoul is said to have given permission to Christian groups to light two towers this year in the western, central and eastern parts of the border region beginning December 23rd. Relations on the Korean Peninsula frayed after South Korea blamed the North for sinking one of its warships in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives - a charge Pyongyang denies. Tensions were further strained months later, when North Korea shelled a Southern border island, killing four people.

Powerful quake leaves three dead, but little damage in western Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck western Mexico Saturday evening, killing at least three people. The 6.7 magnitude tremor shook buildings and sent residents rushing into the streets of Mexico City, the capital. Many districts there suffered power outages.

The quake's epicenter was in western Guerrero state and it was felt in eight other states. Two highways have been blocked by debris, but, so far, no other serious damage has been reported. In 1985, an 8.1-magnitude quake killed as many as 10,000 people in the city.

Pakistan urges greater trust with USA

Pakistan says it could maintain its blocade of NATO convoys into Afghanistan for several more weeks. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is also refusing to rule out closing Pakistani airspace to the United States. Pakistan halted the convoys carrying supplies to coalition forces in Afghansitan in retaliation for NATO airstrikes which killed 24 of Pakistani soldiers at two checkpoints on the Afghan border last month.

Mr. Gilani also stated that the U.S. and Pakistan must trust each other better. Relations between Washington and Islamabad have long been strained by the U.S.-ledcampaign against militants in Afghanistan.

China urges peaceful resolution of oil dispute in Sudan

China is urging a peaceful resolution to an oil dispute in Sudan. China's Special Envoy for African Affairs Liu Guijin commented Sunday on tensions between Sudan and South Sudan over a fee dispute threatening oil supplies from the recently separated countries.

China is a major customer for Sudanese crude oil. It has sought to maintain good relations with both countries since South Sudan seceded in July, taking some three-quarters of the formerly united country's 500,000 barrels per day of oil production. Mr. Liu has been in the region holding talks with officials in both Sudan's capital, Khartoum and in Juba, capital of South Sudan.

U.S. Presidential hopeful makes gaffe during Iowan debate

Six of the contenders for the U.S.Republican Presidential nomination held a heated televised debate Saturday night in Iowa. It was the first time that frontrunner former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and second place Mitt Romney, a former Massassachusets governor, met and it quickly degenerated into personal attacks.

Later Mr.Gingrich infuriated Palestinian officials by stating that Palestinians are an "invented" people and that their quest for independence is not legitimate. Palestinian officials accusing him of incitement and staging a "cheap stunt" to court the Jewish vote. Mr.Gingrich later said he supports the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a settlement with Israel.

In January, Iowa will hold the first in a series of state-by-state contests that will help pick the party's candidate to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama for the White House in November 2012.


Iran and Iraq swap war dead

Iraq and Iran have exchanged the bodies of 93 soldiers killed during their 1980-1988 war. An official in Iraq's Human Rights Ministry says the remains of 90 Iraqis and 3 Iranians were returned to their native countries Sunday during a ceremony.

The swap took place at a border checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Basra and brought the number of Iraqi bodies received since 1996 to 2,319 and Iranians to 1,476. More than 1 million people from both sides were killed or went missing during the eight-year war.

Ivory Coast holds important parliamentary elections

People in Ivory Coast voted on Sunday in their first parliamentary election in a decade. Nearly 1,000 candidates campaigned for the National Assembly's 255 seats. The governing coalition of President Alassane Ouattara was expected to strengthen its hold on power. The election was boycotted by the party of former president Laurent Gbagbo, citing unfair treatment of his supporters. After a decade of turmoil, the election in the world's largest cocoa producer is considered an important step toward recovering stability. Results are expected sometime during the week.

After 22-year absence, Noriega back in Panama

Panama's former dictator, Manuel Noriega, arrived home on Sunday for the first time in 22 years. He was extradited from France, where he was serving a prison sentence for money laundering. In Panama City, he was taken to the El Renacer prison to serve three 20-year sentences for the slayings of political opponents in the 1980s. The United States ousted him from power in Panama in 1989.


Canadian Charles Hamelin won his fourth gold medal of the season on Sunday, capturing the 500 metre event at an ISU

World Cup short-track speed skating event in Shanghai, China. Jon Eley of Great Britain was second, Wenhoa Liang of China was third and Canadian Charles Cournoyer was fourth. Canadian Olivier Jean won a silver medal in the 1,000 metres behind Yoon-Gy Kwak of Korea. Canada won a silver medal for the men's relay team. Gilday, Hamelin, Jean and Remi Beaulieu finished behind

China and ahead of Great Britain.


Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the silver medals in ice dancing at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Quebec City on Sunday.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won gold, and Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France won bronze. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were fourth.


Jennifer Gilbert hit a grand slam to give Canada a 7-1 victory over New Zealand on Sunday at the ISF IX junior women's softball world championships in Cape Town, South Africa. Canada (3-1) will face the host team from South Africa on Monday.

Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, December 12. British Columbia will be sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver will be three degrees Celsius. The Yukon: mainly cloudy. Whitehorse, two. Northwest Territories: sunny periods. Yellowknife, minus five. Nunavut: cloudy periods. Iqaluit, minus 19. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, minus three. Saskatchewan: lights snow. Regina, minus six. Manitoba: clearing. Winnipeg, minus seven. Ontario: suny. Toronto: five. Ottawa, three. Quebec: mainly sunny. Montreal, four. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, four. Nova Scotia: variable cloudiness. Halifax, six. Prince Edward Island: mainly sunny. Charlottetown, three. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, zero.