Friday, January 13, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Same sex marriage back in the political spotlight


Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no intention of reopening the debate on same-sex marriage. Mr. Harper's comment came after being asked Thursday about a report that his government has done an about-face and is refusing to recognize thousands of same sex marriages. The Globe and Mail reported that court document puts in doubt the unions of foreign couples who married in Canada because they could not legally wed in their home states or countries. The newspaper cited a document filed in a Toronto test case recently launched by a lesbian couple seeking a divorce. Mr. Harper said he was unaware of the Toronto case cited in the Globe story but will ask officials to provide him more information. Meanwhile, the official opposition New Democrats say Mr.Harper is sending out confusing messages about the same-sex marriages of foreign couples. Toronto MP Olivia Chow says what appears to be a government about-face on those marriages is "hugely embarrassing." At Toronto news conference, Ms. Chow said that if the flip-flop is truly a misunderstanding, the prime minister can easily resolve the matter. She says he can simply instruct the government's lawyer in the divorce case to use a different argument. Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae says the government has never before suggested that a same sex marriage here is only legal if it's also legal where a couple lives. Mr. Rae says it's "passing strange" that this would be the position of the government, when Canada openly invites same sex couples from other countries to come here to marry.

Family says Rwandan man facing deportation in critical condition in hospital


A man facing deportation from Canada for allegedly helping incite the Rwandan genocide is now said to be in critical condition in a Quebec City hospital. Leon Mugesera was slated for deportation to Rwanda Thursday to face criminal charges related to the 1994 killings of between 800,000 and one million Rwandans. But he remains in hospital for a second straight day with an unspecified health issue. His family has now issued a statement saying he is critically ill. The Quebec City resident apparently fell ill Wednesday, shortly after a Federal Court ruled against his last-ditch effort to stay in Canada, his home for the last 19 years. A university professor and one-time Rwandan political operative, Mr. Mugesera gave a virulently anti-Tutsi speech in 1992. He would become the first Western refugee claimant to be sent back to Rwanda to face charges related to the genocide. To complicate matters, the United Nations Committee Against Torture requested that Canada keep Mr. Mugesera here while it investigates his claims he'd be tortured in Rwanda.

PM predicts solid future for shipbuilding


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a prediction to the country's faltering shipbuilding industry. He says that government shipbuilding contracts worth a total of $35 billion will help sustain the industry for three decades. Mr. Harper made the predictionat the Irving shipyards in the east coast city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Last October, the government announced that the Halifax shipyard had won a $25-billion-contract to build 21 combat vessels.

Canadian provinces have own energy plans


Quebec Premier Jean Charest says he does not need the involvement of the federal government to have a national energy strategy. He says the provinces are already co-operating with each other on energy. Mr. Charest made the comments after a meeting with Alison Redford, the premier of the oil rich western Province of Alberta. Ms. Redford has been promoting an energy strategy that would see provinces working together to develop resources and bring them to new markets. Ms. Redford's plan, which she refers to as a Canadian energy strategy, would include collaboration on environmental standards and new infrastructure.

Charges laid in Afghanistan training range fatal accident


The military has laid five charges against an officer in a 2010 training range accident in Afghanistan that killed Corporal Joshua Baker of Edmonton. Major Christopher Lunney is the third officer to be charged. He faces three counts of negligent performance of a military duty and two counts of breach of duty. The other officers are charged with manslaughter and other offences.

Canadian aboriginals calling for better air safety standards


Canadian aboriginal leaders are calling for improved aviation standards and better navigational equipment in small communities across Canada. The call comes after four people died Tuesday when a small plane crashed while trying to land in a snowstorm in North Spirit Lake in the Province of Ontario. Grand Chief Stan Beardy, who represents dozens of reserves in northern Ontario, says North Spirit Lake doesn't even have a beacon to guide pilots in poor weather.

Police spied on Canada's Liberal Party leader when he was a student


Reports indicate that the interim leader of Canada's opposition Liberal Party leader, Bob Rae, was being spied on by police when he was on the student council at the University of Toronto in the late 1960s. Declassified documents show the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used an informant to get information about Mr. Rae and other members of the council. The RCMP spied on universities, unions and peace groups during the Cold War to try to identify left-wing subversives. Mr. Rae says he had no idea he was ever under surveillance and would like to know what was recorded, reported and put in his file.

Found remains not missing Canadian journalist


Scientists have determined that skeletal remains recently found in Ivory Coast are not those of a Canadian journalist who vanished almost eight years ago. The journalist, Guy-Andre Kieffer, was investigating corruption within Ivory Coast's cocoa industry when he disappeared in the capital, Abidjan. The skeleton was found last week about 360 kilometres from the capital. They were sent to France for testing. Mr. Kieffer's disappearance remains unsolved. Interest in his disappearance has revived since Ivory Coast underwent a change of government last year.

Family of Canadian victim in Grenada seeking out-of-court settlement


The family of a Canadian man allegedly beaten to death by police in the Caribbean nation of Grenada this month is seeking an out-of-court settlement with Grenada's government. Thirty-nine-year-old Oscar Bartholomew was allegedly beaten into a coma Dec 26 while in police custody. Five police officers are charged with manslaughter in the case.

Retiring baby boomers could burden governments


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the country is facing what he calls a demographic challenge. Government programs like Old Age Security are expected to grow in demand as more people retire.There has been speculation that the federal government may try to ease the situation by raising the age of retirement from 65 to 67. Mr. Flaherty says no decision has been made on that suggestion.

Ontario says Pan Am Games on time and budget


The Ontario government says preparations for the 2015 Pan Am Games are moving ahead on time and on budget. The minister responsible for the Games, Charles Sousa, made the comments Thursday at a groundbreaking event for the athletes village near Toronto's waterfront. He says the largest construction project of the Games and The village is expected to cost $514 million and will be converted after the Games into an area that will include rental housing and student residences. Some critics warn that the costs of the Games could spiral out of control for the cash-strapped province. They say the cost of the Games could far exceed the $1.4-billion budget.


Activists barred from entering Syria


Organizers say Syrian authorities have barred hundreds of activists from crossing into the country to deliver aid to victims of the Syrian regime's deadly crackdown on anti-government dissidents. About 200 activists, mostly Syrians travelling from countries that include Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France, and the United States, gathered on the Turkish side of the border Thursday to protest the violence and deliver truckloads of food, medical aid and other supplies. Bilal Dalati, a spokesman for the Freedom Convoy group, said Syrian authorities would not allow the convoy nor the aid in. The United Nations estimates more than 5,000 people have died since March in Syria's crackdown. Meanwhile, the government said on Thursday that it will probe the death of a French reporter, as the opposition accused it of "liquidating" journalists to hush up its lethal 10-month crackdown on dissent. State news agency SANA announced the investigation as the Arab League said two of its observers in Syria quit their posts and activists criticised their mission to monitor the regime's implementation of a peace deal. France, the EU and global press watchdog Reporters Without Borders had called on Damascus to investigate the death of Gilles Jacquier, who was killed on Wednesday during a government-organised trip to the protest hub of Homs. The award-winning Jacquier, 43, was the first Western reporter to die in Syria since anti-regime protests erupted last March. An AFP photographer said he was killed when a shell exploded among some 15 journalists covering demonstrations in Homs. Eight Syrians were killed, said SANA, and several other people were wounded.

Attack in Afghanistan kills high ranking official


An Afghan official says a suicide car bomber has killed five people including a local district chief in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. A Kandahar govrnmentspokesmansaid the top official of the province's Panjwayi district was travelling in a car with his two sons and two bodyguards when the bomber rammed him with a vehicle packed with explosives.He said all five were killed in the Thursday afternoon explosion. Fazluddin Agha is the latest in a long string of government officials assassinated by militants trying to undermine the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalia member says nine civilians also were wounded in the explosion, which occurred on a road between Panjwayi district and Kandahar city.

 

 

The governor of Panjwai district in Aghanistan's Kandahar province, Fazluddin Agha, and his two sons were killedT hursday in a suicide car bomb attack. They were travelling in a car when the bomber rammed it with a vehicle packed with explosives. The attack occurred on a road between Panjwayi district and Kandahar city. Mr. Agha is the latest in a number of government officials assassinated by militants trying to undermine the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

Russia worried about oil deliveries from Iran


Russia is concerned that Israel might push the United States into a military conflict that then could force Iran to retaliate by blocking oil shipments from the Gulf. The comment was made by Nikolai Patrushev, who heads the Kremlin's Security Council. Mr. Patrushev says Iran could respond by blocking the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, through which 35 percent of the world's oil passes on ships. A recent announcement that Iran's uranium enrichment program is now located inside a mountain to avoid possible air strikes has angered western nations. The West claims that Iran is using its nuclear program to build atomic weapons. Tension over Iranian uranium enrichment has raised fears for world oil supplies and even of war.

Burma releases prisoners in amnesty move


Burma's president, Thein Sein, has granted amnesty to more than 600 people jailed across the country. It's not known whether any political prisoners were included. The announcement came after an order to reduce jail terms earlier this month. Mr. Sein says the decision is for the purpose of national reconciliation. The United States and the European Union have demanded the release of political prisoners before they will consider lifting sanctions on Burma. About 200 political detainees were freed in October. But activists estimate there are still between 500 and more than 1,500 prisoners of conscience in Burma's jails.

Road to general court-martial begins for US WikiLeaks soldier


A U.S. Army officer is recommending a general court-martial for a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Lt. Col. Paul Almanza's recommendation regarding Pfc. Bradley Manning now goes up the chain of command for a final determination. Military District of Washington commander Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington will ultimately decide whether Manning will stand trial. He faces 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, for allegedly giving more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Prosecutors say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange collaborated with PFC. Manning. Defence lawyers say PFC Manning, 24, was clearly a troubled young soldier. They say the Army never should have sent him to Iraq or given him access to classified material.

Chinese officials question dissident


One of China's most prominent dissidents, Hu Jia, says Beijing police questioned him for eight hoursThursday after searching his home and confiscating two computers. The interrogation came after he used his Twitter account to complain about the denial of visitors to jailed rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Hu has also appealed online to authorities holding Gao to let his family see him. Hu says he was summoned Thursday after police searched his home and took the two computers Wednesday night. Hu advocated a broad range of civil liberties before he was imprisoned in 2008. He was released last year after serving a 3 1/2-year sentence for sedition.


Reports indicate healthy housing industry


Two reports released Thursday suggest the Canadian housing industry remains healthy. Statistics Canada says the price of new homes rose 2.5 per cent in November over the previous year, led by gains in Toronto and Montreal. The agency's new housing price index rose 0.3 per cent in November, after a 0.2 per cent increase in October. Meanwhile, real estate firm Royal LePage is predicting home prices will rise by 2.8 per cent this year, which is a slower pace than last year. It says the national average price for a standard two-storey home was $375,427 at the end of 2011, up 4.2 per cent from 2010. National averages don't tell the whole story, however, since there are wide variations depending on the type of home and location. In Vancouver, a standard two-storey home had an average price of $1.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. By contrast, two-storey homes in Atlantic Canada had an average price of $200,000 or less in several cities during the same three-month period. Royal LePage expects Canadian home prices to continue going up in 2012, although at a slower pace than they did last year.

Thursday's markets


In Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 13.38 points to 12,274.32. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 21.57 points to 12,471.02. The Nasdaq composite index was up 13.94 points to 2,724.70. The Canadian dollar closed at 98.20 cents US, up 0.09 of a cent. The U.S. dollar stood at 101.83 cents Cdn, down 0.10 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5625, up 0.06 of a cent, and US$1.5344, up 0.21 of a cent. The Euro was worth C$1.3063, up 1.11 cents.


Sports


NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

The Pittsburgh Penguins say Sidney Crosby is going to resume skating again, but there's no timetable for his return. Crosby hasn't played since Dec. 5. The Penguins said at the time he was dealing again with concussion-related problems...One Canadian based team played Wednesday. Edmonton lost to New Jersey 2-1 in overtime.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Wednesday's result: Sacramento defeated Toronto 98-91.

PROFESSIONAL TENNIS

Three Canadians scored first-round victories Thursdayat the qualifying event for the Australia Open. Vasek Popisil defeated John Millman of Australia in three sets, Pierre-Ludovic Duclos defeated Facundo Bagnis of Argentina in three sets and Peter Polansky defeated Simone Vagnozzi of Italy in two sets. Fellow Canadian Erik Chvojka lost in three sets to Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan. The main draw of the Open begins Monday.

FREESTYLE SKIING

Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remains in critical condition after a successful operation to repair a tear to an artery that caused bleeding between her skull and brain. The 29-year-old was airlifted from Park City, Utah, to Salt Lake City after the accident during training on a halfpipe Tuesday. She underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon. Burke is a four-time Winter X Games champion in the halfpipe.

CYCLING

Erinne Willock is skipping the London Summer Games to become a mother. The Victoria cyclist announced Wednesday she's putting her Olympic dreams on hold because she and husband Tony Zarsadias are expecting the birth of their first child. Her due date is in mid-July, days before the start of the Games. Willock competed for Canada at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing as well as the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games. She won't compete at all in 2012. Canadian road cycling team head coach Denise Kelly said Willock will be missed in the peloton this summer.

CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Calgary Stampeders have announced that former quarterback Bob Torrance has died at age 43. The team says that Torrance died Tuesday in the East Coast province of Newfoundland and Labrador. He played 27 games with the Stampeders in 1991-92 and 1995 and was a member of Calgary's 1992 Grey Cup-winning team. Torrance spent the 1993 season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and threw for 870 yards and three touchdowns in his CFL career.


Friday's forecasts


Vancouver has a mix of sun and cloud with a forecast high temperature of four degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny, a high of five. Regina is cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-one. Winnipeg is sunny, a high of minus-15. Toronto has periods of light snow, a high of zero. Ottawa has snow, with a risk of freezing rain in the morning, a high of minus-six. Montreal has freezing rain turning to late afternoon snow, a high of zero. Fredericton has freezing drizzle followed by afternoon rain, a high of seven. Charlottetown has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of eight. Halifax has morning drizzle and afternoon rain, a high of 10. St. John's has snow mixed with ice pellets beginning in the morning then changing to rain showers or drizzle in the afternoon, a risk of freezing rain late in the morning and early afternoon, a high of six. Whitehorse is mainly cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-14. Yellowknife is cloudy with a chance of afternoon flurries, a high of minus-14. Iqaluit has a mix of sun and cloud with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-22.