Thursday, January 5, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 4 January 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Canadian Roman Catholic bishop receives prison sentence


A Canadian Roman Catholic bishop has received a prison sentence for having child pornography. Raymond Lahey was given a 15-month term. But he'll go free immediately because Justice Kent Kirkland gave him double credit for the jail time that he served since last Spring. Lahey will be on probation for two years. The disgraced bishop from the dioscese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia went to jail voluntarily in May after pleading guilty to importing child pornography. Police initially arrested him in 2009 after customs authorities at Ottawa's airport found hundreds of child pornography photos on his laptop. Lahey has apologized to the church and to victims of child pornography. He is no longer ministering in the church.



Mexican police search for Canadian's killers


Mexican police are pledging to find two masked robbers who murdered a Canadian man near the resort town of Puerto Vallarte. Robin Wood was shot during a robbery at a friend's home in Melaque. He died later in hospital. Police say that State authorities will devote their full resources in searching for the suspects. Police will also handle the repatriation of the victim's body. Mr. Wood was a retired mechanic from British Columbia. In recent years, Mexico has had a number of violent incidents involving Canadian tourists. Mexico's government has launched publicity campaigns to assure foreigners that Mexico's resort areas are safe.



Alberta report promotes multi-billion-dollar oil pipeline


A report says Canadian oilsands producers could lose up to 72 billion dollars if a new pipeline is not built to ship heavy crude from the western Province of Alberta to the neighboring Pacific coast Province of British Columbia.

The report has been submitted by Alberta to the federal panel reviewing a proposed pipeline by the Enbridge company.

Public hearings into the 5.5-billion-dollar Northern Gateway pipeline project are to begin in Kitimat, British Columbia next week.



Asbestos mine files for bankruptcy


One of the last two asbestos mines in Canada declared bankruptcy on Wednesday. LAB Chrysotile had shuttered its operations indefinitely last fall. The company operated Lac d'amiante du Canada in Thetford Mines, Quebec. Company owners say that rising costs and falling revenues forced them to close. But they plan to meet soon to discuss the chances of re-opening. Last year, the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, about 90 kilometres from Thetford Mines, also closed down, halting Canada's asbestos production for the first time in 130 years. Jeffrey Mine is seeking a bank-loan guarantee from the Quebec government before starting to dig a new mine. Canada's asbestos industry has come under growing criticism from environmentalists and human rights groups who reject industry claims that modern asbestos production and use is safe. Critics want Canada to stop exporting asbestos to developing countries where safety standards are weak and wwhere orkers are more vulnerable to illnesses linked to asbestos exposure. Sale of asbestos within Canada is largely banned.



Applications for criminal pardons decline


The number of applicants for a criminal pardon in Canada is expected to decline by almost half under stricter new rules.

The Parole Board of Canada expects to evaluate about 15,000 pardon applications annually.

That's a sharp drop from about 27,000.

A federal law passed in 2010 toughened the requirements and, in some cases, increased the waiting times for pardon applicants.



Seal pups dying at increased rate


A new study concludes that seal pups in Atlantic Canada are dying at an increasing rate. The study by American researchers at Duke University found that harp seal breeding regions in the North Atlantic Ocean have declined as a result of retreating ice by six per cent each decade for the past 30 years. More recent data came from satellite images of winter ice from 1992 to 2010 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a prime breeding region off the east coast of Canada. Seals died at higher rates in years when there was a lighter ice cover. David Johnston, a research scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab, called the mortality rate in eastern Canada "dramatic." The study brought into question the seal population's ability to recover.



Canadian lawyer refused entry into Russia


A Canadian human rights lawyer claims he is been banned from Russia because of a report he helped to write about followeers of the Falun Gong religious group in China.

The lawyers David *Matas and former federal Member of Parliament David Kilgour allege in the report that Falun Gong members were arrested and killed so their organs could be harvested.

Matas, who was a nominee for the 2010 Nobel Peace prize, says Russia is calling the report extremist literature.

Russia's accusaation means Matas will not be able to accept an invitation to speak at a conference in Russia this year.

Falung Gong is a banned group in China.



U.S. Customs agents discount Canadian's cross-border tale


U.S. customs officials are discounting a Canadian man's claims that he entered the United States by showing a scanned copy of his passport. Martin Reisch said that he showed the border agent only his driver's licence and a digital copy of his passport on an iPad. But the customs officer says the man also showed a birth certificate. In 2009, the United States introduced tighter regulations for Canadians crossing the border by land or by sea. Either a passport, a special driver's licence, or a special traveller's card is required. But U.S. customs officers can still admit Canadians who present other documents.



Pension plans losing value


The value of many Canadian pension plans fell dramatically last year. The business consultant firm Towers Watson calculates the loss at 16 per cent, mainly due to drops in stock markets and low interest rates. The loss affects what are called defined benefit pension plans, which try to provide a specific level of retirement income. The drop does not affect those 4.5 million Canadians who have pension plans that guarantee pension levels. Most such pensions are in the public sector. The private sector finds the cost of guaranteed pension plans too high. Towers Watson predicts that defined benefit pension plans face further losses this year.





International

U.N. calls for wider inquiry into NATO air strikes in Libya


The new president of the U.N. Security Council called on Wednesday for an investigation into alleged human rights abuses during NATO's bombing campaign last year against the late Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi. Baso Sangqu of South Africa holds the rotating presidency this month. Mr. Sangqu says that the U.N. must heed what he called "strong voices" that criticized mistakes that were made during the campaign. He drew attention to NATO air strikes in which non-combatants were injured or killed. He called for U.N. human rights officials to widen their investigations to include all parties in the conflict. His remarks echoed a similar call by Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin. A NATO spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, denied that the alliance exceeded its mandate, and insisted that NATO air strikes took all precautions against hitting civilians. Canadian jet fighters were among the NATO allies taking part in the campaign.



Mitt Romney narrowly wins first caucus vote in the United States


A former governor of the U.S. state of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, narrowly won the caucus vote in the state of Iowa on Tuesday

He defeated former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by eight votes in the first vote for the Republican Party presidential candidates.

Texas Governor Rick Perry finished fifth and says he's now reassessing his campaign.

The winner of the Republican presidential race will face President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party in the 2012 election.



Syria accuses U.S. of interference


Syria has accused the United States of interfering in Arab League affairs.

Syrian officials made the comment after a US envoy travelled to Cairo for talks with the Arab league about ending Syria's crackdown on dissent which has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people since March.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Jeffrey Feltman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, would travel to Cairo for consultations with the Arab League about Syria.

Meanwhile, Syrian democracy activists have denounced the 22-member Arab bloc over the lack of professionalism of a team of peace observers whose presence in Syria has failed to stop the bloodshed.

Arab League observers have been in Syria since last week trying to assess the regime's implementation of a peace agreement aimed at ending violence in the country.



Kazakhstan extends emergency law


Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has extended a state of emergency to January 31 in the Caspian Sea town of Zhanaozen.

Sixteen people died there last month in clashes between striking oil workers and police.

The clashes, which came after months of strikes in Kazakhstan's energy-rich Caspian Sea region, coincided with celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the country's independence.

Prosecutors accused the security forces of causing some of the deaths after video footage posted online showed police apparently beating and shooting at oil workers.

Security forces arrested dozens of protestors on suspicion of triggering the riots.

The U.S.based Human Rights Watch group reported that one of those detained apparently died from injuries he received while in police custody.



Burma worries about powerful nations


Burma's President Thein Sein has warned that the powerful influence of big nations threatens the sovereignty of smaller ones.

He issued the comment today to mark the 64th anniversary of his country's independence from British rule.

But analysts say the warning about the influence of powerful nations goes against his recent attempts to improve relations with the West.

Thein Sein's government has carried out some political and economic liberalization since taking power last March after decades of military repression.

It seeks to improve relations with Western nations so they remove sanctions that were imposed because of political repression and human rights abuses.



China reduces satellite programming because of Western content


China's satellite broadcasters have dramatically reduced the number of entertainment shows they televise.

The official Xinhua news agency says the number of entertainment shows broadcast during prime time every week had declined to 38 from 126.

That drop followed an order issued in October by the state broadcasting agency. And earlier this week, President Hu Jintao warned of the dangers of Western cultural imports.

Dating shows and talent contests, many of them based on Western television formulas, have become popular in China in recent years. The situation concerned officials.

For the past ten years, the government has been encouraging state-run media to be more competitive and less reliant on state subsidies.

That led to more critical reporting and more exciting programming as outlets compete for readers and viewers.

But analysts say Chinese viewers are now likely to go online for entertainment or switch to widely available pirated DVDs.

China has more television viewers than any other country in the world, with an estimated 95 percent of its 1.3 billion people having access to the medium.





Financial

Financial Markets


On the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday, the composite index closed up 18 points to 12,226.

The Canadian dollar closed at 98.78 US cents, down 0.13 of a cent from Tuesday's close.

The Euro was worth CDN$1.3101, down 0.95 of a cent.

The price of a barrel of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 26 US cents to US$103.22.



New wind power project on Lake Ontario


Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals says that its new wind power project on Lake Ontario in conjunction with Siemens Canada will create more than 1,900 jobs during the first five years. The project involves as many as 130 offshore wind turbines on eastern Lake Ontario that will generate 300 megawatts of electricity. The turbines will be between five and 16 kilometres off the southwest shore of Wolfe Island. Siemens Canada's energy plant in Tillsonburg, Ontario, will build the turbines. Siemens calls the development Canada's first offshore wind project. Windstream's parent company has 11 development projects totalling 1,050 megawatts in Ontario. Additional projects are in British Columbia and in the U.S. State of Wyoming.



Ford is Canada's top vehicle seller


For the second consecutive year, Canada's best-selling carmaker is Ford Canada. Ford's Canadian sales were up three per cent to 275,978 vehicles from 267,974 in 2010. SUVs and crossover vehicles led the sales. Ford says that its F-Series pickup truck was the top-selling vehicle in Canada. Ford's car sales rose by 14 per cent, led by strong sales of the Ford Fiesta. In other automotive industry news, Chrysler Canada recorded its best retail sales year since 2002. Sales were 230,992 vehicles, a 12.7 per cent increase over 2010. Hyundai Canada said its 2011 sales were the best in its history. Hyundai sold 129, 240 vehicles last year, up 9.1 per cent over 2010. Other carmakers were expected to confirm that the industry was on track to beat volumes reported in the years since the last recession. But 2011 sales volumes remained well short of pre-recession levels.





Sports

SPORTS


HOCKEY

At the World Junior Hockey championship in Alberta on Tuesday, Canada lost its semi-final match to Russia, 6-5. In the other semi-final game, Sweden beat Finland, 3-2. Russia and Finland will play for the championship on Thursday.

In the National Hockey League on Tuesday, Toronto defeated Tampa Bay, 7-3, Edmonton lost to Buffalo, 4-3, and Calgary lost to Washington, 3-1.

 

TENNIS

Canada's Milos Raonic, seeded fourth, moved into the quarter-finals of the Chennai Open on Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Victor Hanescu of Romania. Raonic was named ATP Newcomer of the Year in 2011.





Weather

WEATHER


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Thursday, January 5. British Columbia will have rain showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be eight degrees Celsius. The Yukon: cloudy. Whitehorse, minus six. Northwest Territories: overcast. Yellowknife, minus 23. Nunavut: cloudy periods. Iqaluit, minus 28. Alberta: mainly sunny. Edmonton, four. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, four. Manitoba: variable cloudiness. Winnipeg, seven. Ontario: variable cloudiness. Toronto: one. Ottawa, minus eight. Quebec: sunny periods. Montreal, minus six. New Brunswick: sunny periods. Fredericton, minus six. Nova Scotia: overcast. Halifax, zero. Prince Edward Island: mainly cloudy. Charlottetown, minus four. Newfoundland: mainly cloudy. St. John's, zero.





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