Tuesday, December 20, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Harper remembers North Korean leader as abuser of rights


Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has commented on the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il saying he will be remembered as the head of a totalitarian regime that violated the basic rights of North Korean people for nearly 20 years. Mr. Harper is hoping Kim's death on the weekend will bring positive change to the country.

The prime minister is also urging North Korea to close what he calls a sad chapter in its history and to work for peace under Kim's son Kim Jong Un. The 69-year old, Kim died of an apparent heart failure while on a train on Saturday.

Canada to study potential threats to embassies abroad


The Canadian government is going to conduct a study of the potential threats facing its foreign embassies and missions abroad. The foreign affairs department is inviting security intelligence firms to bid for the study.

Its budget could range from $1 million to $5 million. The study early next year will assess threats from terrorism, instability and natural disasters in 174 countries, including 46 major cities. The 2010 federal budget allotted $450 million over seven years for the Security Abroad Strategy to increase security at Canada's foreign embassies.

Finance minister warns provinces about excess spending


Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is warning provincial and territorial finance ministers that governments can no longer spend money they don't have. Mr. Flaherty headed into a meeting in Victoria, BC, with the ministers and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney on Monday and noted the focal point of the day-long gathering is federal health transfer payments. Those payments now increase by six-per-cent a year until 2016.

Mr. Flaherty didn't comment on specific numbers but says his provincial and territorial counterparts were briefed about Ottawa's plans Sunday night Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said the provinces are going to be receiving less money from Ottawa when it comes to health transfers.

Mr. Duncan did not provide dollar figures either, but said after digesting Mr. Flaherty's briefing, he concluded the transfer money will not reach the six-per-cent range. Provincial sources speculated prior to the Victoria meetings that Ottawa plans to link transfer payments to inflation.

U.S. decision on Keystone XL pipeline expected by end of February


U.S. President Barack Obama has signed into law a spending bill containing a provision requiring him to make a decision on a controversial Canadian pipeline project in 60 days. The $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada's western province of Alberta through the U.S. Midwest to to refineries in Texas.

Environmentalists are against the plan which would pass over an aquifer supplying drinking water to about two million people in eight U.S. states. But Republican legislators say it would create much needed jobs.

Mr. Obama had threatened to veto the project, preferring to delay a decision past the 2012 general election. The legislation, which averted a shutdown of U.S. government services, will go before the Republican-dominated House for a vote later Monday.

Newfoundland urges cooperation on future of the provincial fishery


Premier Kathy Dunderdale of Canada's east coast province of Newfoundland and Labrador is urging cooperation to ensure the future of the province's fishing industry.

The premier is trying to handle a controversy involving the seafood processing company, Ocean Choice International, and its efforts to overhaul its processing operations in the province.

Earlier this month, the company said it was closing two plants in Marystown and Port Union, costing 410 people their jobs. Mrs. Dunderdale dismisses criticism the province is not doing enough to help the fishing industry, saying the government has invested millions of dollars in the fishery.


U.S. hopes for better relations with N. Korea


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the United States hoped for improved ties with the people of North Korea after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and was in touch with its partners in the six-party nuclear talks. Mrs. Clinton spoke after meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who said Washington, Tokyo and Seoul all agreed on the need to maintain stability and repeated a call on Pyongyang to take "concrete action" to show it is interested in denuclearization. Mrs. Clinton said Washington had "reached out" to both Beijing and Moscow following Kim's death on Monday as part of its effort to coordinate with partners in the six-party talks, which have been frozen since 2008.

Syria to allow Arab observers


Syria has signed an Arab League initiative that will allow Arab observers into the country as part of peace deal that aims to end the nation's 9-month-old political crisis. Syria had previously resisted signing the agreement. The Syrian revolt began in mid-March. as peaceful protesters took to the streets to demand an end to the Assad family's more than 40-year rule.

Iraqi govt. to arrest VP


Iraq's Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant Monday for Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, the country's highest-ranking Sunni official, on terrorism charges. The move, a day after the last U.S. troops left Iraq and ended the nearly nine-year war, signalled a sharp new escalation in sectarian tensions that drove Iraq to the brink of civil war just a few years ago. The interior ministry says the warrant on Monday and state-run television aired what it characterized as confessions by alleged terrorists linked to Mr. al-Hashemi. Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated Baath party regime, the Sunni minority has constantly complained of attempts by the Shiite majority to sideline them.

Czechs say farewell to Havel


Thousands of Czechs bid a personal farewell Monday to former President Vaclav Havel, who led the peaceful revolution that toppled the communist regime in 1989. The mourners waited patiently in a long line in front of the Prague Crossroads at the city's Old Town, where the coffin with Mr. Havel's body went on display Monday. He who died Sunday at age 75. The government announced that a three-day official mourning period will start Wednesday and said it will hold a state funeral, including a Mass, on Friday at St. Vitus Cathedral. Prime Minister Petr Necas urged Czech citizens to observe a minute of silence at Friday noon and his government proposed a special law recognizing Mr. Havel's "contribution to freedom and democracy."

Dozens of Russian rig workers missing


Time appeared to be running out to rescue 39 people still missing more than a day after a Russian oil rig capsized and sank in stormy, freezing waters off the eastern coast of Russia. The owner of the rig said life rafts with people aboard were spotted in the Sea of Okhotsk, but the government would not confirm the report. The chances of survival in the 1 degree Celsius water appeared slim.

Of the 67 men aboard, 14 were plucked alive from the icy water immediately after the accident and taken to a hospital. Workers have since pulled out 10 bodies from the Sea of Okhotsk, and there are four more bodies that haven't been retrieved yet. The Kolskaya floating platform was being towed back to port in a fierce storm.

Swedish automaker ask for bankruptcy


Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy with a Swedish court on Monday, bringing to an end two years of efforts to rescue the brand which has been the hallmark of Swedish cars for six decades. The final desperate attempts to raise funds in China were obstructed by Saab's former owner General Motors over licences. Saab had been struggling to clinch an agreement in recent months with two Chinese groups, carmaker Youngman and car distribution company Pang Da. But General Motors has repeatedly said it would refuse to agree to the necessary technology licence transfers to the Chinese firms, and Pang Da pulled out of the negotiations a few weeks ago.

EU-Ukraine summit fails


A summit intended to bring Ukraine into Europe's mainstream foundered on Monday after the EU said it would not sign a landmark political and trade deal until Kiev resolves the case of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Negotiations were finished on the agreement, which would create a free trade zone and establish deeper ties, but European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said signing and ratifying it "will depend on political circumstances".

The summit, four years in preparation, was intended to mark the start of a new strategic relationship between the EU and the ex-Soviet republic, which has made integration into the European mainstream a priority while managing strong ties with Russia. But during two hours of face-to-face talks with Mr. Yanukovich, Mr. Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso appeared to have made little headway in persuading him to relent and bring about the release of Mrs. Tymoshenko's and other opponents.


Forestry firm inches toward bankruptcy


Troubled forestry firm Sino-Forest Corp. says it has received default notices from its bondholders and has set up a committee to explore its options, which could include a sale of the company. The TSX-traded Chinese timberland company, which has been accused of fraudulently exaggerating its sales and assets, said late Sunday that the notices of default were received on senior notes due 2014 and 2017.

Sino-Forest said it has established a special restructuring committee made solely of independent directors to supervise, analyse and manage a review of the options for the company. Sino-Forest has about US$1.8 billion in four series of outstanding senior and convertible notes as well as loans in China totalling about $70.5 million. The announcement came several days after Sino-Forest said it would not make a US$9.8-million interest payment due last week and that it will miss deadlines to release both its third-quarter results and a report on the fraud allegations.

High court to rule on federal--provincial securities squabble


Canada's top court says it will rule on the issue of a national securities regulator on Thursday. The Supreme Court of Canada says it will issue a decision the constitutionality of the controversial federal initiative Thursday morning. The matter was placed before the top court in the spring after Quebec and Alberta launched separate court challenges, arguing Ottawa's effort to create a national body to regulate securities trading stepped on exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The federal government believes a national regulator is needed to reduce costs and effectively police markets.

Markets


TSX on Monday: 11,540 - 96. Dollar: US.96. Euro: $1.34. Oil: $93.76 + .23.


Sports


In the National Hockey League, the Montreal Canadiens were looking for their first win under new head coach Randy Cunneyworth when they visited the Boston Bruins Monday night. Cunneyworth took over on Saturday after Jacques Martin was fired but the Habs lost 5-3 to New Jersey.


Weather


British Columbia on Tuesday: rain south, snow north, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse -12, Yellowknife -19, Iqaluit -17. Prairies: mix sun cloud. Edmonton, Regina 3, Winnipeg 2. Ontario: mix sun cloud. Quebec: sun. Toronto 1, Ottawa -7, Montreal -6. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia: rain. Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton -8, Halifax 1, Charlottetown -4, St. John's 0.