Monday, February 13, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 12 February 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Analyst says Harper visit to China a success

A Canadian expert on Asia says Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper can be satisfied with last week's trip to China. Paul Evans, who heads the University of British Columbia's Institute of Asian Research, says the trip was a success, particularly from a communications perspective. Mr. Evans says although Mr. Harper had a limited agenda with the Chinese leadership he handled it effectively and he looked confident. Mr. Harper met with a number of China's leaders, includingsome viewed as likely to take over the country in thecomingyears. The government made progress on a number of agreements on issues as varied as uranium exports to science and technology. Mr. Harper also presided over a deal that will see China loan two Pandas to Canada for 10 years. Mr. Harper says the length of the loan indicates the degree of commitment that China has to further its relations with Canada. Mr. Harper headed a 40-strong delegation of Canadian business leaders that signed $3 billion in deals.


Native bands remain wary of Northern Gateway pipeline
Canadian native bands are looking cautiously at proposals for a pipeline across parts of Alberta and British Columbia. The Northern Gateway pipeline would transport oil from Alberta to the Pacific coast, where it would be shipped to Asian markets. The chief of the Burns Lake Band, Al Gerow, is interested in a deal with the pipeline maker, Enbridge, but he first wants to consult his band's members. Enbridge has offered the band seven million dollars for its support, but band members are concerned about the risk that the pipeline would pose to the environment. Other native bands have so far declined to make any deals with Enbridge.

Air Canada reaches labour agreement in bid to cut costs
Air Canada is continuing its bid to cut $200 million in labour costs. The company said Sunday it had reached a tentative collective agreement with the Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association, representing the airline's 74 flight dispatchers. They are based at the airline's central operations control centre near Toronto Pearson International Airport and assist in the preparation for departures and arrivals. Air Canada sadi the agreement was subject to ratification by the employees, and approval by the Air Canada board. It was the third such agreement reached by Air Canada and its unions in the past three days. On Friday, the airline announced a tentative deal with its 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers, and cargo agents. Another deal was announced Saturday with the airline's 75 crew schedulers. A Deutsche Bank arrangement to underwrite an Air Canada share offering was based on reaching the cost-cutting agreements by midnight Saturday.

Tim Hudak will continue to lead Ontario Tories

Tim Hudak has won a second chance to lead Ontario's Progressive Conservatives after their election defeat last fall. Mr. Hudak received 78.7 per cent support Saturday from delegates at the party's convention in Niagara Falls. Most observers expected he would keep his job, given the possibility of a snap election in a minority legislature. The Liberals, led by Dalton Mcguinty, wonthe Octoberrvote, taking 53 seats in the provincial legislature. The Tories placed second with 37 seats and the NDP, under Andrea Horwath, placed third with 17.


Greek parliament passes austerity bill amid violent mass protests

Following a furious all-day debate on Sunday, Greece's parliament approved a tough austerity bill aimed at securing a second huge bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos had warned that the bill's defeat would mean that Greece would default on its national debt and the country's living standard would collapse. The bill sets out more than four billion dollars in wage, pension and job cuts for this year alone. Mass protests against the bill were held outside the Greek parliament in Athens as the government prepared to vote. Five downtown buildings were set on fire. Police fired tear gas at protesters throwing stones and fire bombs.

Arab League calls for joint U.N. peacekeeping force in Syria

The Arab League is calling on the create a joint peacekeeping force for Syria.Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday also called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria. It demands that regime forces lift the siege on neighbourhoods and villages and pull troops and their heavy weapons back to their barracks. The draft also calls on Syrian opposition groups to unite ahead of a Feb. 24 meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group," which includes the United States, its European allies and Arab nations working to end the 11-month-old conflict in Syria.Syria's government immediately rejected the Arab League's latest resolutions.

Al-Qaida calls for support of Syrian rebels

The head of al-Qaida is calling on Muslims across the Arab world and beyond to support rebels in Syria who are seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and says they cannot depend on the West for help. In a new videotaped statement, Ayman al-Zawahri calls on Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against Assad's "pernicious, cancerous regime." The eight-minute video was posted on extremist websites late Saturday. A copy of the video was provided Sunday by the SITE Intel Group, a U.S.-based organization that monitors militant messages. A senior Iraqi intelligence official says al-Qaida-linked fighters already are flowing from Iraq to Syria.

Woman sets herself on fire in Moscow
A Russian woman set herself on fire in front of the government building on Sunday and was hospitalised with serious burns. The woman approached the Moscow White House, which is the formal seat of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the government, and poured petrol over herself before lighting a match. The woman was identified as Vera Smolina, a 53-year-old resident of the central Samara region, although Interfax said she was a resident of the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil. A security source told Interfax the woman made no demands and was not carrying any posters. Russia has been hit by protests against Mr. Putin since disputed December parliamentary elections in which the ruling party won a narrow majority despite allegations of fraud. Mr. Putin is the overwhelming favourite to win a third term as president in March 4 elections after heading the Kremlin in 2000-2008. He has agreed to swap jobs with incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev.

Costa Concordia salvage recommences
Operations began on Sunday to remove hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel from the stricken cruise ship, Costa Concordia. The ship ran aground off the coast of Italy last month. Rough seas and poor weather prevented fuel salvage for the past two weeks, leading to fears that fuel might begin leaking into the Mediterranean Sea. Dutch shipwreck salvage firm Smit is overseeing the operation with an Italian partner. They estimate that the operation will require 28 consecutive days of pumping. About 4,200 passengers and crew escaped from the ship after it crashed. Seventeen bodies were recovered. Another 15 people remain missing and are presumed dead.

Gunmen kill provincial judge and eight-year-old niece in Afghan attack

Afghan officials said gunmen killed a provincial judge and his eight-year-old niece in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday.A district official in Nangarhar province said the head of the appeals court for neighbouring Kunar province was visiting family in a village outside of Jalalabad on Saturday when gunmen burst into the house and opened fire. The judge was identified as Mohammad Nasir. Five others were wounded -- the judge's wife and four children of the family they were visiting. Officials believe the gunmen were insurgents who attacked Nasir because of his ties to the government. Elsewhere, a U.S. military contractor said Sunday one of its helicopters had crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing all four Tajik crew members. Supreme Group said in a statement that it is investigating Saturday's crash in Zabul province.

Qaida-linked militants execute two in Yemen

A security official said Sunday al-Qaida-linked militants have publicly executed two Yemenis suspected of collaborating with the United States. The official said one of Sunday's executions took place in the town of Azan in Shabwa province and the other in the town of Jaar in neighbouring Abyan province. Both towns are in southern Yemen, where militants have seized large swaths of territory in the past year as security has collapsed across the country. The official said the men were suspected of planting electronic devices that help U.S. drones strike militant positions. In September, a U.S. drone strike killed U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, who edited al-Qaida's Internet magazine.

Whitney Houston dies at 48
Whitney Houston, an American pop music star from the mid-1980s to the late '90s, is dead at the age of 48. The body of the six-time Grammy-winning singer was found in the bathtub of her room atthe Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles on Saturday. Police say there's no sign of criminal intent. Houston's golden voice and regal image were ravaged in later years by drugs and alcohol abuse.

Hamas leaders angry over reconciliation agreement
Senior Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip have harshly criticized the Islamic militant movement's exiled leader for signing a reconciliation deal with his political rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The rebellion against Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal appears unprecedented in tightly controlled Hamas. The criticism is being levelled by Hamas figures in Gaza who would lose most from ending five years of separate Palestinian governments -- Hamas in Gaza and Mr.Abbas in the West Bank. Under last week's agreement, Mr. Abbas would head an interim unity government until new elections are held. Gaza strongman Mahmoud Zahar on Saturday was quoted as saying the deal was "wrong" and "strategically unacceptable." Hamas legislator Ismail al-Ashkar said Sunday the agreement cannot stand as is. Meanwhile,Palestinian officials said Sunday Israeli airstrikes have killed a security guard in the Gaza Strip. The security officials said 71-year-old Abdelkareem Abu Zeituneh was guarding an orchard when his trailer was hit. They say three other people were wounded in Sunday's airstrike. The Israeli military said in a statement that aircraft targeted tunnels and a weapons factory in response to rocket fire on southern Israel.

Congo government aide dies in plane crash
An airplane crash has killed a close aide to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Augustin Katumba Mwanke was one of three people killed. The other two killed were the pilot and co-pilot, both Americans. Five passengers survived the crash, which occurred on Sunday when the plane overshot the runway at Bukavu airport. Finance Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo was in serious condition and Sud-Kivu Governor Marcellin Tshisambo had both legs fractured. Mr. Mwanke was considered President Joseph Kabila's closest adviser.

Tibetan nun dies in self-immolation protest
An 18-year-old Tibetan nun set herself on fire and died Saturday in China's restive southwest. Tenzin Choedon was protesting Beijing's handling of its vast Tibetan regions. It was the latest in a series of self-immolations by Tibetan nuns, monks and ordinary people protesting Beijing's rule. Free Tibet and the International Campaign for Tibet said the woman was a member of a Buddhist nunnery in Aba prefecture in China's Sichuan province, which borders Tibet. Her protest brought to at least 19 the number of people who have set themselves on fire in the past year in Tibetan-inhabited areas in protest over Chinese rule. Kanyag Tsering, a monk in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, said Chinese army troops moved in after Choedon herself alight at the Mamae convent. He said soldiers surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off, and
that nothing more was known of the situation inside. The nun's convent has been at the centre of pro-Tibetan protests in recent months. Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said the nun is the 22nd Tibetan in less than a year, and the sixth this week, to set themselves on fire.

Extraordinary Chinese village takes another step toward democracy

The Chinese village that staged an extraordinary rebellion against authorities last year has taken a key step in a process to freely elect its own governing committee. Thousands of residents of Wukan in the southern province of Guangdong voted Saturday for more than 100 representatives who will put forward candidates for a seven-member village committee to be elected in March. The move follows protests by the village last December when residents faced off with authorities for more than a week in an uproar over land grabs. The demonstrations prompted a drawn-out stand-off with police and officials, but the Guangdong provincial government eventually capitulated and sought to pacify the villagers as their case made headlines. The rare concessions included pledges to support free village polls. Wukan residents said their former leaders had never before allowed these polls to go ahead in an open fashion, and instead selected members of the village committee behind closed doors. Saturday's election of village representatives was reported by the official Xinhua news agency, showing the exercise in democracy is taking place with the blessing of authorities.



Canada's Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans won a silver medal in the women's three-metre synchro event on Sunday at the FINA Grand Prix diving event in Rostock, Germany. Han Wang and Qulin Zhang of China took the gold and Olena Fedorova and Anna Pysmenska of Ukraine were third.

Canada won a bronze medal in the team relay at the luge world championships in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday. The team consisted of Alex Gough, Samuel Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith. Germany won the gold and Russia won the silver. It was Canada's first podium appearance in four tries at the world championships.

Canadian Marie-Eve Drolet won the silver medal in the women's 1000 metres at a World Cup meet in Dordrecht, Netherlands, on Sunday. It was one of five medals that Canada's team won. Marianne St-Gelais won a silver in the 500 metres. Olivier Jean won a silver in the men's 1000 metres. Francois-Louis Tremblay won a bronze medal in the men's 500 metres. Jean, Tremblay, Remi Beaulieu and Liam McFarlane won the silver in the men's relay.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were fourth in pairs at the ISU Four Continents championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Sunday. China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, two-time world junior champions, captured the pairs title. Reigning US champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were second and another US duo, Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker, were third.

In Davis Cup play, France took a 2-1 lead against Canada Saturday in the best-of-five competition in Vancouver as Michael Llordra and Julien Benneteau defeated Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor in straight sets 7-6(1), 7-6(2), 6-3 in men's doubles.

Saturday's results: Montreal shut out Toronto 5-0, Edmonton defeated Ottawa 4-3 in overtime, Pittsburgh defeated Winnipeg 8-5 and Calgary defeated Vancouver 3-2 in the shootout.

Canadians Mikael Kingsbury and Philippe Marquis finished 1-2 in men's moguls on Sunday at the freestyle skiing World Cup at Beida Lake, China. In the women's event, Canadian Justine Dufour-Lapointe won silver, finishing behind American Hannah Kearney.


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, February 13. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be eight degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny periods. Whitehorse, one. Northwest Territories: increasing cloudiness. Yellowknife, minus eight. Nunavut: snow. Iqaluit, minus 28. Alberta: overcast. Edmonton, minus one. Saskatchewan: sunny periods. Regina, minus one. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, minus four. Ontario: mainly sunny. Toronto: three. Ottawa, minus three. Quebec: mainly cloudy. Montreal, minus five. New Brunswick: mainly sunny. Fredericton, minus ten. Nova Scotia: snow flurries. Halifax, minus seven. Prince Edward Island: variable cloudiness. Charlottetown, minus 12. Newfoundland: snow flurries. St. John's, one.

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