Sunday, February 5, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 4 February 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Foreign Affairs minister displeased with vetoed resolution on Syria
Canada's foreign affairs minister, John Baird, says that he was "disappointed in the extreme" with the vetos cast by Russia and China in the U.N. Security Council's vote on a resolution for Syria. He called the vote another failure to respond effectively to Syria's crisis, adding that the vote provided what he called another free pass for the illegitimate Assad regime and those backing it. Mr. Baird described Syria's leaders as morally bankrupt. He said that Canada will stand with the people of Syria in their efforts to achieve a brighter future.

Canadian imams denounce domestic violence
Canadian and American Islamic leaders have issued a joint edict condemning domestic violence, misogyny and so-called honour killings. The edict or fatwa, which is morally binding on Muslims, calls such activity un-Islamic. The imams of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada say that the fatwa clarifies any misinterpretation of the Qu'ran. The fatwa was issued in the same week that three members of the Shafia family in Montreal were found guilty of killing four other Shafia members. The Crown alleged that the victims---three Shafia sisters and the first wife of their father, Mohammed Shafia---were killed in a misguided effort to restore the family's honour. The Shafias' trial was widely reported and prompted the Islamic community to denounce domestic violence.

Blizzard threatening Newfoundland

Central and eastern Newfoundland braced on Saturday to receive as much as 20 centimetres of snow as blizzard warnings were issued. Drivers were being warned about winds gusting to 100 kilometres an hour. Blizzard warnings were issued for the Avalon Peninsula, and winter storm watches were in effect for Clarenville, Terra Nova, central Newfoundland and the Great Northern Peninsula. There are flight delays and cancellations at St. John's International Airport.

Another deadly avalanche in British Columbia
Another skier was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia's West Kootenay region on Friday. The unidentified man was skiing with nine others and two guides at Selkirk Wilderness Skiing, north of Kaslo. The man was wearing a transceiver and his comrades were able to see him after the avalanche struck. Despite their efforts, they could not revive him. The death is the fifth death connected to avalanches in British Columbia this winter season.

Discretion rules as Prime Minister prepares China trip
The office of Canada's prime minister is declining to comment on a recent assessment of China by the U.S. ambassador in Beijing. Gary Locke remarked that China's government fears an uprising like the Arab Spring revolts in Arab countries. Mr. Locke made the comment after several human rights activists in China received long prison sentences in recent weeks. China recently also reacted harshly to public unrest in Chinese-occupied Tibet. Next week, Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper begins his second official visit to China, three years after the first one. He's expected to promote sales of Canadian oil.

Labour unions fear more factory closures
One of Canada's major labour unions, the Canadian Auto Workers, says that the closure of the Caterpillar locomotive plant in London, Ontario, will hurt more workers than those at the plant. On Friday, Caterpillar closed its plant in the face of a bitter labour dispute, throwing 465 people out of work. But the CAW predicts that another 1,700 workers in spin-off industries will be badly affected by the closure as well. The CAW has warned earlier that the decline of Canada's manufacturing sector and high unemployment are the key challenges for workers across the country. Some manufacturers who began operations in Canada when the Canadian dollar was weak 20 years ago are leaving Canada now that the currency is virtually at par with the U.S. dollar. The companies are relocating to places like Mexico where labour is cheaper. Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Canada's prime minister, says that the federal government is considering plans in conjunction with the province of Ontario to help former Caterpillar workers receive benefits and training in new skills.

Labour problems loom at Canada's biggest city
Labour talks continued on Saturday between Toronto municipal officials and the labour union representing outside workers. The city will impose the terms of its latest contract offer if no deal is reached by Saturday midnight. The union offered to take a three-year wage freeze. Union leaders accused the city of being unwilling to negotiate seriously.


Russia and China veto U.N. resolution on Syria
Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov,had asked that the draft resolution proposed on Friday be amended.Mr. Lavrov objected that the resolution failed to take measures against armed groups who he said were manipulating peaceful anti-government protesters. He said the resolution only proposed measures to be taken against President Bashar al-Assad and his government. Mr. Lavrov said that it's important that the resolution avoid giving the impression that the United Nations is taking sides in Syria's internal conflict. The U.N. estimates that more than five thousand people have been killed as a result of a government crackdown on anti-government demonstrations. Russia and Syria have military ties. Syria buys Russian weapons and hosts a Russian naval maintenance facility. Mr. Lavrov will meet with Mr. al-Assad in Syria on Tuesday. China's U.N. representative, Li Baodong, says thatChina vetoed the U.N. Security Council resoluton on Syria because Council members are seriously divided over the issue. Thirteen members voted in favour of the resolution. Mr.Lisays that further consultation is needed. The vetos were condemned by the United States, which called them 'shameful,' as well as by Arab nations. Two members that abstained from voting on an earlier resolution in October, India and South Africa, voted in favour of the latest one.

Activists describe 'massacre' in Syria

Activists in Syria say that more than 200 people were killed early on Saturday morning when Syrian forces bombarded the city of Homs with tank shells and mortars. Unofficial reports say that hundreds of other people were wounded. Activists called the attack a horrific massacre. If confirmed, the violence would be the deadliest single attack since an anti-government uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 11 months ago. His government has denied any responsibility in the latest assault, saying that protest groups were trying to incite anger ahead of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution dealing with Syria. In a strong statement, U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated his call for President al-Assad to leave, saying that he has "no right" to stay in power. Anti-Syrian demonstrations were held in several cities in Europe. Protesters in London broke windows at Syria's embassy. Police arrested six people. In Athens, police detained 13 people who forced their way into Syria's embassy before dawn. Protesters in Berlin damaged embassy offices and in Cairo, the embassy was set on fire on Friday night. Kuwait media reported that security personnel at the Syrian embassy were injured in a scuffle with protesters. In Canada, red paint was splashed on the entrance to the Syrian embassy in Ottawa. Small protest demonstrations against Syria were held in Ottawa and in Toronto.

Huge anti-Putin rally in Moscow
Thousands of Russians gathered in central Moscow in frigid weather on Saturday to demand that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin end his bid to regain the presidency. Organizers say that more than one hundred thousand people took part, waving flags and placards calling on Russia without Putin. The rally sanctioned by local authorities was held in a square across the river from the Kremlin. Thousands of police observed the peaceful demonstration. An anti-Putin protest involving about five thousand people also took place in St.Petersburg on Saturday and smaller rallies were held in several dozen cities across Russia. In Moscow, about fifteen thousand people staged a pro-Putin rally. Mr. Putin's popularity in opinion polls is just below the 50 per cent needed for a first-round victory in the March 4 presidential election.

Deadly cold weather continues in Europe
Europe continues to suffer unusually cold winter weather that has proved deadly for homeless people. In Ukraine, 122 deaths were reported, many of them related to people who froze in the streets. Forty-five people died in Poland, where temperatures fell to minus 27 degrees Celsius. Romania reported 28 deaths. The cold has also killed people in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, France, Austria and Greece. In Italy, Rome had its heaviest snowfall in 27 years, forcing transportation to come to a virtual halt. Parts of Venice's lagoon froze.

Council advises earlier Egyptian election
A government-appointed advisory council says that the presidential election in Egypt could be held much earlier than expected. The council of civilians was appointed to advise Egypt's interim military government. The council says that presidential nominations could begin later this month, almost two months before the date initially announced. The election expected in June could be held much earlier as well. The council's recommendation comes after a week in which the military government came under strong criticism for its handling of deadly incidents at Egyptian soccer stadiums. Seventy people were killed when rival fans clashed.Angry protests over thesoccer violencecontinued for athird day on Saturday.

Greater casualties reported last year in Afghanistan
The United Nations says that more civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year than in any other year during the decade-long war. The U.N. says that 3,021 people were killed, an eight per cent increase over the previous year. It was the fifth successive year in which the number of casualties increased. Some three out of four victims were killed by militants affiliated with the Taliban. Deaths in suicide bombings rose dramatically to 450, an 80 per cent increase over the previous year. The number of suicide attacks remained about the same, but they killed more civilians. Georgette Gagnon, director for human rights for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, says that the human cost of the war continues to rise a decade after the war began.

Fidel Castro publishes memoirs
The memoirs of Fidel Castro have been published in a two-volume set entitled Time Guerrilla. The former Cuban president and revolutionary leader unveiled the memoirs in a rare public appearance at the Palace of Conventions in Havana on Saturday. The memoirs trace his life from infancy until 1958, when he led Cuba's communist revolution. His memories are reported through conversations with journalist Katiuska Blanco. Castro is 85. Illness forced him to turn over power to his brother, Raul, in 2006.



Canadian Jan Hudec won the downhill event at a World Cup meet in Chamonix, France, on Saturday. It was his first win in four years. Romed Baumann of Austria was second and Canadian Erik Guay was third. Canada's Benjamin Thomsen sneaked into fifth place despite being the 50th skier to go down.

Canada's Devon Kershaw achieved his first World Cup cross-country victory on Saturday, winning the 15-kilometre freestyle mass start race in Moscow. It was his third straight top-three finish.

Canada's Valerie Maltais won the bronze medal on Saturday in a women's 1,500-metre World Cup short-track speedskating event in Moscow. South Korea's Ha-Ri Cho won gold while compatriot Eun-Byul Lee took silver.

Canada's Richard Weinberger captured a silver medal in the men's 10-kilometre race at an open-water swimming World Cup event in Viedma, Argentina on Saturday. The medal assured him a spot at the Olympic qualifying event. World champion Spiros Gianniotis of Greece took the gold, just a second ahead of Weinberger. Yevgeny Dratsev of Russia was third.




Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, February 5. British Columbia will have fog. The high temperature in Vancouver will be nine degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny periods. Whitehorse, minus nine. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, minus 20. Nunavut: cloudy periods. Iqaluit, minus 19. Alberta: mainly sunny. Edmonton, one. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, five. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, three. Ontario: cloudy. Toronto: four. Ottawa, minus one. Quebec: increasing cloudiness. Montreal, minus five. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, minus seven. Nova Scotia: mainly sunny. Halifax, minus seven. Prince Edward Island: mainly sunny. Charlottetown, minus 11. Newfoundland: overcast. St. John's, minus four.


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