Sunday, January 1, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Grenada police officers charged in Canadian's death


Criminal charges have been laid against two police officers in Grenada in connection with the death of a Canadian man held in their custody. Oscar Bartholomew died of head injuries on Tuesday, one day after he was arrested. The two suspects were charged with manslaughter. Three other officers are being questioned. Mr. Bartholomew was visiting Grenada, his birthplace, when he and his wife stopped at a police station in the southwestern part of the country. He allegedly mistook a plainclothes female police officer for a friend and hugged her, which police interpreted as an assault. An independent autopsy found that Mr. Bartholomew died of trauma to the head as well as multiple injuries to the body.

Government reverses decision on Agent Orange victims


The federal government has changed its mind about refusing compensation for dozens of Canadians sickened by Agent Orange. The Canadian Press reports that some 30 soldiers exposed during military tests to the defoliant in the 1960s, or their families, will receive compensation.

Several families have gone public in recent weeks about the bureaucratic battles they've fought over the issue. That prompted a review of the rules which are now being revised toallow compensation for primary caregivers, like the spouses of soldiers who died in nursing homes.

Avalanche kills another skier in British Columbia


Another skier has died in an avalanche in Canada's western province of British Columbia. The RCMP says a male skier on a heli-skiing excursion died in a human-triggered avalanche on Friday, about 35 kilometres southeast of Revelstoke.

No information has been released regarding the skier's name or hometown. On Thursday, Duncan MacKenzie, 30, an avid outdoorsman and longtime ski patroller from the Whistler Blackcomb resort, died in an avalanche in the B.C. backcountry near Pemberton.

Warnings about the possibilities of snowslides had been posted in both regions.

Strike looms at Quebec aluminum plant


Workers at one of Canada's biggest aluminum smelters moved closer on Saturday to a labour strike. Last-ditch talks collapsed between Rio Tinto Alcan and workers at the company's smelter in Alma, Quebec. About 800 workers could strike as early as Sunday. On Friday, workers from three negotiating units had voted against the company's final offer. The two sides are in disagreement over sub-contracted labour. Over the past two years, the company hasreduced its operationsin Canada.

Canadian detained in Congo has been released


The Canadian government has confirmed reports that a Canadian man jailed in Congo has been released. Friends and family of Fabien Shambuyi Kalala say the 24 year old was released earlier Saturday. The Ottawa resident was detained following the Central African country's tense presidential elections.

His family contends he was jailed because of his links to opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi. Human rights groups reported a rash of arrests around the election that resulted in the incumbent president Joseph Kabila being re-elected.

The results are being called into question and Tshisekedi supporters say they believe their candidate was the real winner.

Canada Post changes to winter delivery in St. John's 


Canada Post will stop door-to-door mail delivery this winter in some areas of St. John's, Newfoundland. About 400 people will have to fetch their mail from temporary community mailboxes. Canada Post says the lack of snow clearing on sidewalks has been a major safety concern because mail carriers are forced to walk on roads. The community boxes will be installed but will be used only if necessary. Such boxes are common in other parts of the country. Community boxes are permanent fixtures in some parts of Quebec and Ontario.


Conflicting reports over Iranian military exercises


Iran is denying reports by state media that it test-fired long-range missiles during military exercises in the Gulf. Iran's senior navy commander is quoted as telling Iran's Press TV that missile launches will be carried out in the coming days.

Earlier the semi-official Fars news agency and other outlets reported that land-to-sea missiles had been fired. The naval exercises come at a time of increased tensions between the West and Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil export route, if new sanctions were imposed over its nuclear program. That prompted the U.S. to say its Naval Fleet in the region would prevent any closure of the vital strait. The U.S. and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies.

USA introduces harsher sanctions against Iran


In a move that could further raise tension in the Persian Gulf, U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday put into effect tough new sanctions against Iran's central bank. The measures will require foreign firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran's financial sector or that of the United States. The consequences could be severe for Iran's oil sector. The measures were introduced to punish Iran for continuing its nuclear program. The sanctions were in a US$662 billion defence bill. Mr. Obama signed the bill despite reservations that it could limit his foreign policy options.

Iraq celebrates end of U.S. era


Iraq's prime minister says the end of the American military presence in Iraq is a new dawn for his country. In a celebration Saturday in Baghdad broadcast on state-run Iraqiya TV, Nouri al-Maliki declared the day a national holiday.

Mr. Al-Maliki told the Iraqi people that the country has become free and called upon them to preserve its unity and sovereignty. The prime minister praised Iraqis for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and ending the sectarian conflict. He said now Iraq is focused on rebuilding the country.

He made no mention of the American military's role in overthrowing Saddam. The last U.S. troops departed Iraq recently.

Arab League observers concerned over government snipers


Arab League observers have expressed concern about government snipers firing at Syrian protesters from rooftops. Violence in Syria has continued unabated despite the monitors' mission to assess the situation on the ground.

Footage posted online appears to show one official saying measures would be taken if snipers were not withdrawn. It is the first sign of a response since the mission chief caused outrage by saying he saw nothing "frightening".

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of Syrians heeded the call to take to the streets to show their opposition against the regime of Bashir al Assad. Rights groups say dozens were killed and many more injured at the hands of security forces.

State of emergency in Nigeria


A state of emergency is in effect in parts of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan imposed the measure in reaction to recent acts of violence blamed on the extremist Islamist sect called Boko Haram. Bombings on Christmas Day last week targeted churches, killing at least 49 people. Christian leaders warned that they would use force to defend themselves unless the government took action. The state of emergency covers parts of the states of Borno, where Boko Haram had its base, as well as Yobe, Niger and Plateau. The decree also means parts of Nigeria's border with Niger, Chad and Cameroon will be sealed until further notice. Meanwhile, the government said on Saturday that clashes between rival ethnic groups in eastern Nigeria's Ebonyi state killed at least 50 people. A long-running rivalry between the Ezza and Ezilo people periodically flares up into violence. The violence was unrelated to Boko Haram.

Egypt tells U.S. it will stop raids on NGO offices


Egypt has reassured the U.S. that it will stop raids on the offices of non-governmental organisations, known as NGOs. Officials said property seized in the raids would be returned to the groups, which include two based in the United States.

The move comes after U.S.Defence Secretary Leon Panetta spoke to Egypt's military ruler by phone and reportedly threatened to reveiw the $1.3 Billion in annual U.S. military aid to Cairo if such incidents continue.

Egypt raided the offices of 17 NGOs in Cairo Thursday, after expressing concern over foreign funding. Egypt's ruling military council has said repeatedly stated it will not tolerate foreign interference in the country's affairs.

North Korea's new leader named supreme commander of armed forces


North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, has been formally named supreme commander of the country's armed forces. Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il earlier this month, was appointed at a meeting on Friday.

The state news agency said the appointment was made in accordance with a will written by Kim Jong-il in October.

The move is seen as a clear sign that the young leader is fast consolidating power over North Korea. Kim Jong Un's age and inexperience have raised questions outside North Korea about his leadership of a nation engaged in delicate negotiations over its nuclear program and grappling with decades of economic hardship and chronic food shortages

Putin unfazed by protest demonstrations


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday said there was nothing unusual in the mass protests against his domination of Russia. In a televised message to Russians ahead of the New Year, he described the demonstrations as the "unavoidable price of democracy".

Tens of thousands took to the streets on December 10 and December 24 to denounce Mr. Putin and the alleged rigging of parliamentary elections, ahead of his candidacy in March presidential polls.

The protest movement has not said when it will call the next mass demonstration ahead of the March 4 presidential election, where Putin hopes to win a third term as president after his four-year stint as prime minister.

Re-emergence of bird flu in China


Chinese officials say a man who had been diagnosed with the country's first case of bird flu in more than a year has died in the southern city of Shenzhen.The 39-year-old bus driver was admitted to hospital with pneumonia but tested positive for the bird flu virus.

The H5N1 bird flu strain has a high level of mortality, killing up to 60 percent of humans who become infected. Last week, the city of Hong Kong, across theborder from Shenzhen,issued an alert against the virus after tests on chickens in a market stall came back positive.

Cuba's Roman Catholics mark key event


In Cuba, thousands of Roman Catholics gathered Friday for an open-air mass to mark the end of a 16-month tour of a statue of the island's patron saint.

The ceremony along Havana Bay paid tribute to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre. According to legend the relic was found by local fishermen off eastern Cuba after a storm in 1612. And, despite the raging seas, it was found to be completely dry.

During Friday's mass, Church leaders called for reconciliation among Cubans and urged further economic reform. The tour was the first such religious display since before the Communists came to power in 1959. And it comes ahead of a scheduled visit to the Caribbean nation by Pope Benedict in 2012.

Burmese test new freedoms at film festival


Artists in Burma are testing new freedoms through films shown at a festival that for the first time in the country's recent history were not censored. "The Art of Freedom Film Festival" began screening films on Saturday that were not approved by the strict Film Censorship Board.

Burma's new nominally civilian government has relaxed some draconian security measures, although films are still supposed to pass the censorship board.

The event was organized by comedian Zarganar, film director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Zarganar, who uses one name, was recently released from three years in prison. He described the festival as freedom of expression through film.

Afghan government abhors violence against girl


Afghanistan's health minister, Suraya Dalil, is urging police to find the perpetrators behind what she calls one of the worst cases of violence against women. The case involves a 15-year-old girl, Sahar Gul, who was allegedly tortured, beaten and locked in a toilet by her husband's family for months. The girl had refused their wish that she become a prostitute. Ms. Gul was rescued after her neighbours heard her cries from a house in northern Baghlan province. The victim is in critical condition in a government hospital in Kabul. Ms. Dalil says that the perpetrators must be punished to serve as a lesson to others. Police have detained Ms. Gul's mother-in-law and sister-in-law but her husband and father-in-law are still at large.

Police clash at widespread protests in Bahrain


In one of the most widespread protests in Bahrain in months, riot police clashed with reform activists on Saturday, firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Protesters say that a gas cannister struck a teenage boy and killed him. Violence erupted in several towns. Protesters fought with rocks and firebombs. Several people were arrested. Activists want action on recommendations by a government-sponsored inquiry that found evidence of torture and other abuses against detainees. Shiite Muslim activists are seeking more rights from the ruling Sunni dynasty.


Sports


HOCKEY

In the National Hockey League, the New York Islanders beat the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, 4-1. At the women's under-18 world championship in Prerov, Czech Republic, on Saturday, Canada beat Switzerland in its opening game, 13-1. Catherine Dubois scored a hat trick and Taylor Woods added two goals. At the men's World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton on Friday, the Czech Republic beat the United States, 5-2, and Finland defeated Denmark, 10-1. In championship play in Calgary, Sweden beat Slovakia, 9-1 and Switzerland beat Latvia, 5-3.

BASKETBALL

In the National Basketball Association on Friday, Dallas defeated Toronto, 99-86.


Weather


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, January 1. British Columbia will be overcast. The high temperature in Vancouver will be six degrees Celsius. The Yukon: cloudy. Whitehorse, zero. Northwest Territories: mainly sunny. Yellowknife, minus 23. Nunavut: cloudy. Iqaluit, minus 21. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, minus six. Saskatchewan: clearing skies. Regina, minus 11. Manitoba: snow flurries. Winnipeg, minus seven. Ontario: rain showers. Toronto: six. Ottawa, five. Quebec: cloudy. Montreal, three. New Brunswick: sunny periods. Fredericton, two. Nova Scotia: rain showers. Halifax, seven. Prince Edward Island: rain. Charlottetown, three. Newfoundland: rain. St. John's, zero.