Monday, January 30, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 29 January 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Shafia family trial ends in guilty verdict

Four months after the start of one of Canada's most sensational murder trials, a jury on Sunday handed down a verdict of guilty. A verdict of first-degree murder was passed on each of the three Afghan-Canadian defendants---Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, and their son Hamed. They were sentenced to life prison terms with no chance of parole before 25 years. They were accused of killing the Shafia couple's three daughters along with Shafia's first wife. The victims' bodies were found in their car three years ago in a canal near Kingston, Ontario. It wasalleged that the defendants were upset that the daughters had abandoned their traditional Afghan customs. Judge Robert Maranger instructed the jury in Kingston that they could reach different verdicts for each of the three accused. The options included guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.

Canadian general sees end looming for allied mission in Afghanistan

A senior Canadian military commander is expressing strong doubt that allied forces will remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin is chief of land staff. He once commanded NATO's multi-national force in Kabul. Gen. Devlin says that allied governments are facing an economic crisis that will prevent them from extending their Afghan military operations. He also says that politicians will be unwilling to promote longer missions. Canada ended its military mission to Afghanistan last year after almost a decade of participating in the allied mission. About 950 Canadian soldiers remain in Kabul to train local Afghan troops. General Devlin did not see an early end to training missions. Afghanistan's defence minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, estimates that Afghanistan spends more than six billion dollars on its military. Much of the money comes from foreign aid.

Parti Quebecois calls for lower voting age

The leading separatist party in the province of Quebec, the Parti Quebecois, wants to lower the voter age. Delegates attending the party meeting in Montreal this weekend voted to adopt a plan to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. Young people are considered to be among the party's strongest supporters. The delegates also agreed that if the party regains power in the National Assembly, it would introduce citizen-led referendums. The introduction of citizen-led referendums means that popular demand could lead to future votes on Quebec's independence. Two earlier referendums on Quebec sovereignty held over the past 30 years were defeated. The party meeting also served to give party endorsement to Pauline Marois as leader. In the past few months, Ms. Marois came under criticism over her leadership. The Parti Quebecois is facing a new political challenge after the creation of a new Quebec party last year called the Coalition for Quebec's Future. The Liberal Party under Premier Jean Charest remains in power.

Memorial service for Manitoba family planned for Monday

A memorial service is being planned for five members of a Manitoba family who died in a house fire. Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association in Winnipeg says the memorial will be held at the city's Grand Mosque on Monday evening. Hamid Farooq lost his entire family to the fire last Tuesday. His wife, mother and three daughters died. He was at work when the fire broke out. His youngest daughter was only four months old and had been on life support but died Friday afternoon. Mr. Siddiqui says both the Muslim community and the general community have expressed a desire to pay their respects to the family members who died, as well as to Mr. Farooq.


Insurgent attack kills six soldiers in Damascus suburb

Syria's state-run news agency says "terrorists" ambushed a bus carrying soldiers on a road south of the capital, Damascus, on Sunday, killing six soldiers and wounding six others. It says an explosive device was detonated by remote control as the bus was travelling in the suburb of Sahnaya, some 20 kilometres south of the capital. SANA says those killed include two first lieutenants. Six other soldiers were injured. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has become increasingly militarized recently as some frustrated protesters and army defectors arm themselves against the regime. Pro-regime forces Saturday battled defectors in suburbs on the eastern edge of Damascus in the most intense fighting yet so close to the capital. At least 5,000 people are believed to have died in the 10-month rebellion against Mr. Assad's rule.

Another bomb hits southeastern Baghdad

Iraqi officials say a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol has killed one person in southeastern Baghdad on Sunday, two days after a blast in the same area claimed the lives of 33 people. Police officials said the morning attack in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite neighbourhood of Zafaraniyah wounded nine others. On Friday, a suicide car bomber struck a Shiite funeral procession in Zafaraniyah. Many Iraqis suspect al-Qaida militants of engineering a recent series of attacks on Shiites to provoke a counterattack by Shiite militias and rekindle sectarian conflict now that U.S. troops have left Iraq.

Police open fire on demonstrators in Bangladesh

Police on Sunday opened fire and used batons on crowds of stone-throwing opposition activists in several Bangladesh towns, killing at least three people and injuring more than 100. The United News of Bangladesh news agencyreportedthe violence occurred when two opposition parties held protests demanding the reinstatement of a 15-year-old system in which independent caretaker governments oversee national elections. The system was scrapped by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The opposition says elections will be rigged if held under the current government. Doctors at two hospitals in the eastern towns of Chandpur and Laxmipur confirmed that three men died from bullet injuries.

Jubilant crowds greet Aung San Suu Kyi

Huge crowds hailed Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she hit the campaign trail Sunday ahead of by-elections seen as a key test of the regime's commitment to reform. Tens of thousands flocked to get a glimpse of the Nobel Peace Prize winner in the coastal district of Dawei. It was her first political trip outside Rangoon since declaring she would stand for office in the Apr. 1 polls. Streets were flooded with local people waving flags, cheering and dancing with delight at the appearance of the democracy icon, who could be swept into parliament by the vote. Ms. Suu Kyi's decision to stand for a seat in parliament is the latest sign of dramatic change taking place in the country after the end of nearly half a century of outright military rule.


Sudan rebels abduct Chinese workers

Insurgents in Sudan's South Kordofan state say they have captured 29 Chinese workers after a battle with government forces. The rebels say nine members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are also being held. China confirmed some of its nationals "have gone missing" after rebels on Saturday attacked the camp of a Chinese company. Chinese officials say the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy to Sudan have initiated an emergency response. All the captives were taken hostage on Saturday when the rebels destroyed a Sudanese military convoy between Rashad town and Al-Abbasiya in the northeast of the province, which has been at war since June. China is a major military supplier to the regime in Khartoum, and the largest buyer of Sudanese oil. There is growing international concern over the situation in South Kordofan and nearby Blue Nile state, where a similar conflict broke out in September. The government is fighting ethnic minority insurgents once allied to the former rebels who now rule South Sudan. The South gained independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.

Hamas leader visits Jordan

Jordan's King Abdullah received Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Sunday. It was Mr. Meshaal's first official visit to the kingdom since his expulsion 13 years ago. Officials said the visit is meant to "break the ice" with the militant group banned in Jordan, Israel's closest Arab peace partner. They added that Jordan will not allow Hamas to reopen offices in the kingdom. Mr. Meshaal insisted that Jordan will not be a substitute homeland for the Palestinians. Jordan is trying to engage with previously shunned Islamists, who have been gaining ground across the region amid the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled pro-Western dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.

Costa Concordia recovery efforts suspended again

Divers on Sunday again suspended their search of the disabled Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia. Rough seas forced suspension of any recovery efforts. The ship remains on its side off the coast of Italy, where it ran aground more than two weeks ago. At least 17 people on board the Costa Concordia were killed. Another 15 people are missing. The recovery operation has begun to focus on retrieving the ship's fuel to avoid spillage that could cause an environmental disaster. Experts say that it would take 28 days to remove fuel from 15 tanks accounting for more than 80 per cent of all fuel on board. Recovery efforts are unlikely to resume before Tuesday.

Yemen says it has crushed Republic Guard mutiny

A Yemeni military official says units loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh have crushed a mutiny by Republican Guard troops in the capital demanding the ouster of their commander. The official says an unspecified number of people were wounded when loyalist Guard units crushed the mutiny by the force's 4th Brigade outside Sanaa on Sunday. The Republican Guard is considered a pillar of the regime. Yemen is preparing for presidential elections on Feb. 21, but many fear that Mr. Saleh will try to keep his allies in power. Mr. Saleh is currently in the United States seeking medical treatment. Yemen's air force has seen a wave of anti-Saleh mutinies over the past week.


Egyptians go to polls in upper house vote

Egyptians went to the polls Sunday to cast their ballots for the upper house of parliament, a largely consultative body with limited powers. Turnout was light early Sunday in Cairo, one of 13 provinces where the first stage of elections for the Shura Council are taking place. A second stage will take place on Feb. 14-15. The Shura Council is composed of 270 members. Only two-thirds are elected while the rest are appointed. Islamists dominated elections for the People's Assembly, the more powerful of the two houses of parliament, in voting that ran from Nov. 28 through January. Turnout was heavy in these elections, which were the first since the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 2012 uprising which ousted Hosni Mubarak.

U.N. head appeals for tolerance of homosexuals in Africa

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has sent a strong appeal to Africa to end discrimination against homosexuals. Speaking to African Union leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Ban said that some African nations treated homosexuals as second-class citizens, even as criminals. He said that discrimination based on sexual orientation had been been ignored or santioned by many African states for too long. Many African countries outlaw homosexuality and many African churches preach against it. African leaders had gathered in Addis Ababa for an African Union summit. There was no immediate response to Mr. Ban's appeal.

Republican Party to press for Canada-U.S. pipeline project

Republican Party congressmen are planning more pressure tactics in another attempt to win rapid approval for a cross-border oil pipeline from Canada. The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport oil from the province of Alberta to the U.S. Gulf coast. But U.S. President Barack Obama ordered a new route for the pipeline after environmentalists objected to the initial route. The pipeline builder, TransCanada Pipeline, says that it will make a new proposal, but U.S. approval could take as long as one year. The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner of the Republican Party, says that his party could link the pipeline project to passage of a new jobs bill that will be introduced next week.

Office of Russia opposition newspaper destroyed by Molotov cocktail

The Yabloko opposition party said Sunday the office of a regional newspaper published by the party had been destroyed in a Molotov cocktail attack. Yabloko said on its website the attack on the Vecherny Krasnokamsk weekly in the Perm region in the Urals occurred early Saturday. No one was reported hurt in the pre-dawn incident. The party said the attack was captured on security cameras. The newspaper's editor, Olga Kolokolova, heads the Perm region's branch of Yabloko. The party linked the attack to the newspaper's investigative reports on corruption by the Krasnokamsk Mayor Yury Chechetkin. Russia's central electoral commission last week excluded Yabloko's candidate, Grigory Yavlinsky, from the presidential polls that Vladimir Putin is expected to win in March. The commission rejected the veteran politician, saying too many of the two million supporters' signatures he submitted to qualify were invalid. There is now only one independent candidate in the race, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.



Jing Yu of China set a world record in the women's 500 metres at the world sprint championship in Calgary, Alberta, on Sunday. She became the first woman to go under 37 seconds with a time of 36.94 at the Olympic Oval. Jenny Wolf of Germany set the old record of 37.00 in 2009.


Canadian Richard Weinberger won a bronze medal on Sunday in the men's ten-kilometre race at a marathon swimming World Cup in Santos, Brazil. World champion Spiros Gianniotis of Greece won gold in 2:11:39.51and Nicola Bolzonello of Italy was second.


Canadian Olivier Rochon was first in a World Cup freestyle aerials skiing competition in Calgary, Alberta. Qi Guangpu of China was second, and his countryman Liu Zhongqing was third.


Ski cross world champion Christopher Del Bosco won the gold medal at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, on Sunday. His Canadian teammate, Dave Duncan, won the bronze. Filip Flisar of Slovenia won the silver.


Canada Weather

Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, January 30. British Columbia will have rain showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be eight degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny. Whitehorse, minus 18. Northwest Territories: snow flurries. Yellowknife, minus 22. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 17. Alberta: cloudy. Edmonton, four. Saskatchewan: cloudy. Regina, four. Manitoba: overcast. Winnipeg, zero. Ontario: mainly cloudy. Toronto: minus one. Ottawa, minus six. Quebec: clearing skies. Montreal, minus four. New Brunswick: snow flurries. Fredericton, zero. Nova Scotia: snow. Halifax, three. Prince Edward Island: snow flurries. Charlottetown, minus two. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, zero.

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