Monday, January 2, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 1 January 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather
Canadian

Rio Tinto Alcan locks out 800 workers in Quebec


Rio Tinto Alcan has locked out 800 workers at its aluminum smelter in Alma, Quebec. The lockout began at midnight Saturday, when the last contract expired. Last-ditch contract talks broke off Saturday when the two sides failed to resolve their differences.

The company says plans are in place to ensure operations continue to run safely and efficiently. It also says it hopes to limit the impact on customers. The sides in the dispute haven't been able to agree on conditions related to subcontracted labour.

The Alma facilityis one of Rio Tinto Alcan'slargest North American aluminum smelters.

 



Corporate tax cuts go into effect as Canadians lose more in take-home pay


Profitable Canadian businesses will get almost three-billion-dollars more in tax cuts this year. The last of five annual corporate tax cuts takes effect today, reducing the federal rate by another one and a-half points to 15 per cent.

It comes as corporate Canada holds off on investment and squirrels away hundreds of billions of dollars while riding out a second storm of global economic turbulence. Corporate tax cut critics say those rising cash reserves show the government's policy doesn't help spur the economy.

Meantime, the Conservative government is increasing premiums for employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. The changes go into effect today and will result in a small dip in the average Canadian's take-home pay.

 



Avalanche victim is identified


The victim of an avalanche in British Columbia over the weekend was identified on Sunday. Ronald Gregory Sheardown was a Canadian who formerly lived in Stouffville, Ontario, but more recently lived in Dubai. He was among 11 skiers and a guide who were on a heli-skiing tour near Revelstoke on Friday when the avalanche struck. Three people managed to dig themselves out of the snow. Mr. Sheardown was located in the snow thanks to his personal transceiver, but was unresponsive when rescuers found him. He was the third avalanche victim in the province this season. Skiers were warned of a high risk of avalanches as a result of mild temperatures.





International

Kenya ferry capsizes


A boat that was carrying as many as 80 passengers sank off Lamu Island in Kenya on Sunday, killing at least seven people. Many others are missing and feared drowned. The boat was taking people from the island to the mainland nearby when it hit another vessel. Survivors say that the boat was overloaded with passengers and baggage.



Exxon Mobil largely loses Venezuela settlement case


The American oil giant, Exxon Mobil, has failed to gain the compensation that it was seeking for the nationalization of its assets in Venezuela. Exxon Mobil wanted about US$10 billion, but the International Chamber of Commerce awarded no more than US$908 million. The Paris-based ICC calls itself the world's leading institution for resolving cross-border business disputes. The ruling is considered a victory for Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, who has promoted nationalization as a way of boosting state programs. Exxon has also filed for arbitration over the same issue with the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The case is scheduled next month, but the date for a verdict is not known. Venezuela still faces arbitration with Exxon over the nationalization of the Cerro Negro heavy oil project. There are also more than a dozen other claims against state takeovers.



Ahmadinejad condemns new U.S. sanctions


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned new U.S. sanctions imposed against Iran's Central Bank as punishment for the country's nuclear program. The president describes the country's central bank as Iran's backbone in dealing with enemies and is strong enough to defeat the U.S. move.

The sanctions cut off from the U.S. financial system foreign firms that do business with Iran's central bank. They are are part of a defence bill signed by President Barack Obama on Saturday and will take hold after a warning period of up to six month.

Earlier today, Iran said it test-fired a medium-range surface-to-air missile which is designed to evade radar. The test was conducted in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz -- the passageway for one-sixth of the world's oil supply. Last week, Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if new sanctions were imposed over its nuclear program.



After year-long lapse, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to meet


For the first time in more than a year, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will meet on Tuesday. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat will discuss the state of peace talks with his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Molcho. The meeting in Amman, Jordan, will also include delegates from the so-called Quartet made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States. Direct talks ended soon after they resumed in 2010, when Israel ended its freeze on most settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. The meeting on Tuesday is an exploratory one and is not considered a resumption of peace negotiations.



Arab League advisory group calls for monitors to leave Syria


Anti-government protesters in Syria saw the New Year in with demonstrations in several flashpoint areas.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that three more civilians were killed by security forces on Saturday, including two shot dead by snipers in the flashpoint province of Homs.

Activists have accused the regime of posting snipers on rooftops as part of their brutal crackdown on dissent, in which government forces have also been accused of firing tear gas, stun grenades and on Friday "nail bombs."

Meanwhile, an Arab League advisory body is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the organisation's monitoring mission in Syria. It states that the monitors are allowing the Bashar al-Assad regime to cover up continued violence and abuses.



North Korea wants country to defend new leader


North Korea has called on the country to defend the new leader, Kim Jong-un, to the death. A New Year message released by the state media said the army, ruling party and people should be prepared to act as "human shields" for the son and successor of Kim Jong-il.

It also mention food shortages in North korea saying it is an urgent issue the nation's leaders must work to resolve. Kim Jong-il, who had ruled since 1994, died on 17 December. His son, Kim Jong-un, took over after his death and has in recent days quickly consolidated his power in the country.



50 dead in Nigerian violence


At least 50 people have been killed in eastern Nigeria in clashes between rival ethnic groups. The violence in the state of Ebonyi between the Ezza and Ezilo peoples broke out over a land dispute. Dozens of riot police have been deployed to the area.

The attacks came hours after a state of emergency was declared in parts of the country due to an unrelated spate of attacks by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

The group claimed responsiblity for carrying out a deadly series of bombings against Catholic churches on Christmas Day which claimed dozens of lives. President Goodluck Jonathan reacted by vowing to crush the group, but his critics say he is not moving fast enough.



Japan's cult member ends 17 years on the run


A former member of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult has turned himself in to police after nearly 17 years on the run. Japanese police said Makoto Hirata gave himself up at a police station in Tokyo just before midnight on New Year's Eve.

He had been in hiding since the cult's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, which killed 13 people. Only two other members of the cult are still being sought by police.

They went on the run after the gas attack in Tokyo, which injured 6,000 people. About 200 Aum Shinrikyo members have been convicted of involvement in that attack and other crimes.Thirteen are awaiting execution.



Yemenis keep up the pressure on Saleh


In Yemen, huge crowds are holding rallies in major cities, demanding outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh be put on trial for the deaths of protesters killed during the country's uprising.

The protests come just a day after Saleh reversed his decision to leave Yemen for the United States.

The decision may be an attempt to salvage his control over the regime as it is appears to unravel in the face of internal revolts and relentless street protests. Reports say tens of thousands of people took part in the New Year's Day protest in the capital Sanaa.



Alleged FARC attack on Colombia police station leaves woman and baby dead


Two people have been killed and 17 injured in an attack on a police station in southern Colombia. Officials said an explosive device was thrown at the police station in Orito, killing the wife and eight-month-old baby of the local commander.

Police said the country's largest left-wing guerrilla group, the Farc, was responsible. Officials also suspect the rebels to be behind a bomb attack on a police station in Cauca province on Saturday which caused no injuries.



Iraq figures show violence down in December


The number of civilians killed in violence across Iraq dropped to a year low in December, despite bombings that rocked the capital after the pullout of U.S. forces.

According to figures released by the Health Ministry Sunday, the number of civilians killed in bombings and other attacks was 90, down from 112 in November. Thirty-six police and 29 soldiers were also killed in December compared with 42 police and 33 soldiers killed in the previous month.



Argentina governor dies of gunshot to head


A provincial governor in Argentina has died of a gunshot wound to the head while celebrating the new year. Police say the Rio Negro governor, Carlos Soria, was at home when the incident happened.

His vice-governor, Alberto Weretilneck, who will succeed Mr Soria, described it as a "domestic accident". Local media reports say Mr Soria's wife, Susana Freidos, is being questioned by police. Soria was a member of Argentina's governing Peronist party and had been elected in Rio Negro by a wide margin.



Fire continues to destroy Chilean national park


A major forest fire continued to burn on Sunday in one of Chile's most spectacular national parks. More than 500 firefighters toiled to contain the blaze in the Torres del Paine park, where about 12,500 hectares were destroyed since the fire began on Tuesday. An Israeli tourist, Rotem Singer, is facing charges of negligently starting the fire, but he has denied any guilt. Four hundred tourists were removed from the park after the blaze began. The park remains closed.



China confirms prominent dissident jailed in Xinjiang


Prominent Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who first disappeared into police custody nearly two years ago, has been imprisoned in the far western region of Xinjiang. His brother says he was notified of Gao's circumstances in a letter issued by a Beijing court.

Gao was arrested in February 2009 and has been held largely incommunicado by authorities except for a brief release in March 2010. The official Xinhua news agency said last month that Gao had been sent back to prison for three years after a court ruled he had "seriously violated probation rules a number of times".

Bob Fu, head of the Texas-based rights group China Aid, likened the jailing in Xinjiang to internal exile. Xinjiang is traditionally regarded as China's gulag for receiving political prisoners in the 1950s and 1960s.



Recovered from surgery, Prince Philip attends church service


Prince Philip on Sunday made his first public appearance following his release from hospital. The 90-year-old prince underwent a heart operation just after Christmas. The prince joined the rest of the royal family for their traditional New Year's church service at Sandringham church in Norfolk. He appeared cheerful as he walked about 400 metres to the church amid greetings by some 300 members of the public.





Sports

Sports


HOCKEY

Taylor Woods and team captain Erin Ambrose each had a goal and an assist on Sunday as Canada beat Germany, 6-0, at the under-18 women's world championship in Prerov, Czech Republic. Canada is undefeated after two games and has qualified for at least a quarter-final berth at the tournament.

At the men's World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton on Saturday, Canada edged the U.S., 3-2, Finland beat the Czech Republic, 4-0, while at Calgary, Slovakia defeated Switzerland, 6-4, and Sweden edged Russia, 4-3, in overtime.

In the National Hockey League on Saturday, Winnipeg beat Toronto, 3-2, Ottawa beat Buffalo, 3-2 in a shootout, Florida defeated Montreal, 3-2, and the N.Y. Islanders beat Edmonton, 4-1.





Weather

Weather


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, January 2. British Columbia will have rain. The high temperature in Vancouver will be nine degrees Celsius. The Yukon: mainly sunny. Whitehorse, minus four. Northwest Territories: snow. Yellowknife, minus six. Nunavut: variable cloudiness. Iqaluit, minus 26. Alberta: increasing cloudiness. Edmonton, six. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, minus seven. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, minus 11. Ontario: snow flurries. Toronto: one. Ottawa, minus one. Quebec: snow flurries. Montreal, minus one. New Brunswick: rain. Fredericton, six. Nova Scotia: rain. Halifax, eight. Prince Edward Island: rain showers. Charlottetown, seven. Newfoundland: sunny periods. St. John's, two.





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