Friday, January 6, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

A prestigious Canadian economic organization has gloomy forecast

A survey released by the Economic Club of Canada finds growing pessimism among Canadians about the future of the economy.

The poll, conducted in December, found only 25 per cent of respondents feel optimistic about the economic prospects in the coming year.

The pessimistic outlook coincides with predictions from top bank economists that Canada's economy will grow by less than two per cent, with minimal growth in jobs.

The Economic Club provides a platform for policy makers and business leaders.

Canada's Liberal Party seeking reform

Members of Canada's federal Liberal Party are being asked to dramatically redefine the role of party leader. Party executives are proposing changes that would include stripping the leader's power to unilaterally determine what's in campaign platforms to protect incumbent Members of Parliament from nomination challenges and to appoint candidates. If the proposals are accepted, party members would be given much more say in all such matters. The proposals will be voted on next week at a Liberal convention. The Liberal Party suffered its worst electoral defeat in its history in last May's federal election. For the first time, the Liberals finished in third place in the voting with the Conservative Party being re-elected with a majority and the New Democratic Party forming the official opposition in the House of Commons.

Harper weighs in on Iran

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is calling the escalating standoff between Iran and the West the greatest threat to world peace. Mr. Harper says he has no doubt Iran wants a nuclear weapon and would be prepared to use one. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key global oil passageway, in possible retaliation for new economic sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions. Mr. Harper suggests the threat shows sanctions are squeezing Iran's leaders and making them lash out at the world. Mr. Harper made the comments Thursday on an Alberta radio program.

Grass fires a surprise in western Canada

Unseasonably warm weather in the western Canadian Province of Alberta has caused three grass fires. The biggest blaze destroyed three rural homes near Nanton and was caused by a downed power line. It's not known what caused the other fires north of Fort Macleod and near Walsh. But officials say the warm, dry weather provided the right conditions for a wildfire and winds of 100-kilometres-per-hour fanned the flames. Temperatures in southern Alberta hit 15 Celsius on Wednesday. Canada is in the midst of its winter and Alberta is known for its cold temperatures. But the province also enjoys Chinooks, which at times can raise the temperatures very quickly from cold to from pleasant conditions.

Canadian bishop's reputation sullied

The lawyer of disgraced Roman Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey says he has become a social pariah. Michael Edelson says his client has been marked for life by his sentence for possession of child pornography. A judge in the Province of Ontario sentenced Lahey to 15 months in jail and two years of probation after he was caught at the Ottawa airport in 2009 with hundreds of pornographic photos of young boys. Because of credit for the eight months he has served since last spring, Lahey has finished his jail sentence and was released.

Four family members killed in Jamaica

Three Canadians from the same family were killed as a result of a tragic car accident in Jamaica on Wednesday. The victims were identified as Garieno Dixon, Diane Dixon and their two-year-old child, Ronaldinho Dixon The child's Jamaican grandmother, Marie Myrie-Smith, was also killed. Earlier that day, the child had breathing problems, so the three relatives tried to drive him at high speed to the hospital. While overtaking another vehicle, their car hit a truck on the road to Spanish Town. Canadian officials in Jamaica and Ottawa are providing consular assistance to the family.

Canadian bobsledders injured in crash

Three Canadian bobsledders suffered injuries on Thursday when their sled crashed in training in Germany. Sled pilot Chris Spring was taken to hospital in Dresden, where a piece of wood was removed from his lower back. Pushman Bill Thomas is recovering in another Dresden hospital, while Graeme Rinholm was taken to a hospital in Pirna. A fourth bobsledder, Tim Randall, was not injured. Coach Tom de la Hunty described the crash as the worst that he'd seen in his 32 years in the sport. The Canadian team was practising for a World Cup event in Altenberg. It's estimated that their sled was traveling about 130 kilometres an hour at the time of the crash.

Two cabinet ministers tie the knot

Two Canadian cabinet ministers have announced their marriages. Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his bride, human-rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, were married in Mexico on Wednesday. Also getting married during the holidays was Heritage Minister James Moore. He married Courtney Payne on Dec 29 in Ottawa. She is an employee in the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

China calls for non interference in its domestic affairs

China is asking other countries not to use human rights to interfere in its domestic affairs. The comment was issued after European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton voiced concern over China's jailing of two activists, Chen Xi and Chen Wei. They live in different provinces and are not believed to be related, They were imprisoned separately in late December to 10 and nine years respectively for subversion. Ms. Ashton's office said in a statement Wednesday that the European Union is preoccupied with the deterioration of the situation for human rights activists in China and will continue to follow these cases attentively. China's foreign minister reacted by saying the Chinese government protects and promotes human rights in accordance with the law.

Iraq attacks kill at least 73 people

A series of attacks against Shiite pilgrims and neighbourhoods in Iraq killed at least 73 peopleon Thursday.The worst attack saw 44 people killed by a suicide bomber attack near Nasiriyah as pilgrims were walking to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations. And at least 29 people were killed in two Shiite neighbourhoods in northern Baghdad by at least five bombs.The violence was the worst since attacks killed 60 people across Baghdad on December 22, soon after the U.S. troop pullout. On Dec. 18, U.S. forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq, where there were once nearly 170,000 American troops on 505 bases. Now, just 157 remain to train Iraqi forces to use equipment purchased from the United States.

Syria releases detainees

Syrian authorities have released 552 people detained during the 10-month revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The move follows the release last week of 755 detainees. It's part of a peace plan that Syria signed with the Arab League in December. The deal calls for the withdrawal of troops from cities, dialogue with the opposition and the release of thousands of detainees. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian authorities last week of hiding prisoners in military facilities to avoid Arab League monitors. The monitors are not allowed to visit military sites.More than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests since March. Assad claims he is fighting an insurgency by armed terrorists who have killed 2,000 soldiers and police.

The death sentence is demanded for former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak

The prosecutor in the trial of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo has demanded that the ousted Egyptian leader be sentenced to hang on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during last year's uprising against his rule. Mustafa Khater, one of a five-member prosecution team, also asked the judge for the death sentence for Mubarak's security chief and six top police commanders being tried in the same case. Mubarak's two sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and Alaa, face corruption charges in the same trial along with their father and a close family friend who is a fugitive. An 18-day uprising forced Mubarak, 83, to step down on February 11 after a nearly 30-year rule. The military, led by a general who served as defence minister under Mubarak for 20 years, replaced him in power.

Iranian president supports Russian efforts to defuse nuclear dispute

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has told his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, that he supports Moscow's efforts to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear plan, diplomatically. The two leaders spoke by telephone after European diplomats said Wednesday that the European Union had reached preliminary agreement on an EU-wide ban on oil from the Islamic republic. The move is supported by the United States. Russia has relatively close ties with Iran and has built its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr. Moscow has also delivered the nuclear fuel for the reactor. Moscow has supported Western concerns about the nature of the Iran's nuclear program. But Moscow has stopped short of publicly accusing Tehran of seeking atomic weapons and has always said that the standoff should be solved by diplomacy.

South Korea wants new dialogue with North

South Korea says it wants to re-open dialogue with the North. The offer comes nearly three weeks after the death of the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il. The North has closed its borders since Kim's death, completely cutting it off from the outside world. Since Kim's state funeral last week, the North has returned to using bellicose language against South Korea. It criticized President Lee Myung-bak and his government for lacking the decency to mourn the death of Kim. Lee also angered North Korea by cutting off aid when he took office in 2008. He also demanded nuclear disarmament and economic reform in the North as conditions for food aid and political engagement.

Burma's opposition party to run in next election.

Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi ,says the government has approved her National League for Democracy Party to participate in upcoming byelections. The party boycotted general elections in 2010 because of restrictions that, among other things, would have prevented Ms.Suu Kyi from running. Ms. Suu Kyi declined to say if she herself will stand in the election.The party won the 1990 general elections, but the military refused to give up power. And since then, Ms. Suu Kyi has been placed under house many times. Western nations, including Canada, imposed sanctions on Burma over the years for its poor human rigths record and its treatment of Suu Kyi.

Former Israeli prime minister indicted on new corruption charges.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on new corruption charges. Mr. Olmert was accused Thursday of taking bribes to promote construction of housing projects, including a housing complex in Jerusalem. The alleged crimes took place while he was mayor of Jerusalem, a position he held before becoming prime minister in 2006. Mr. Olmert has denied all the allegations against him. He is already standing trial on separate charges of accepting illicit funds from an American supporter, again, before he was prime minister.

Car sales up in 2011

More Canadians bought new vehicles last year than in 2010. Figures show almost 1.6 million new cars and trucks were sold in Canada last year, a two per cent increase over the previous year. Analysts say sales up because of low interest rates. Ford of Canada won the title of Canada's top-selling automaker for the second straight year.

Thursday's markets

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 10.93 points at 12,237.40. The TSX Venture Exchange closed at 1,517.46, up 1.57 points and the TSX 60 closed at 696.59, up 0.55 of a point. In New York, the Dow Jones closed at 12,415.70, down 2.72 points. The S&P 500 closed at 1,281.06, up 3.76 points Nasdaq closed at 2,669.86, up 21.50 points. The Canadian dollar closed at 98.13 cents US, down 0.65 of a cent from Wednesday's close. The U.S. dollar stood at 101.91 cents Cdn, up 0.68 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5796, down 0.15 of a cent, and US$1.5500, down 1.19 cents. The Euro was worth C$1.3036, down 0.65 of a cent.



Canada was set to play Finland for the bronze medal Thursday afternoon in Calgary. Later, defending champion Russia was scheduled to play Sweden for the gold. In Wednesday's fifth-place game, the Czech Republic defeated Slovakia 5-2.


Wednesday's results: Montreal defeated Winnipeg 7-3 and Vancouver shut out Minnesota 3-0.

Friday's forecasts

Vancouver is mainly cloudy with showers beginning late in the day. The forecast high temperature: seven degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny, a high of three. Regina is mainly cloudy with a chance of morning flurries, a high of zero. Winnipeg is cloudy, a high of one. Toronto is cloudy, a high of six. Ottawa has periods of snow in the morning followed by clearing skies in the afternoon, a high of two. Montreal has snow, a high of minus-one. Fredericton has morning sun followed by afternoon cloud and evening flurries, a high minus-nine. Charlottetown is mainly cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-seven. Halifax is mainly sunny with increasing afternoon cloud, a high of minus-four. St. John's has morning rain followed by a mix of sun and cloud, a high of three. Whitehorse is cloudy, a high of minus-four. Yellowknife has clearing skies, a high of minus-26. Iqaluit is sunny, a high of minus-27.