Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 14 February 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Canada secures future military base in Germany
Canada has secured a deal with Germany to establish a strategic European base that would support future conflicts.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement today following a meeting with his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere. Over the last few years, National Defence has been quietly scouting locations in key regions of the world to set up small logistical bases and warehouses of stores that could be quickly expanded if needed.
Mr. MacKay says such facilities proved themselves invaluable during the Afghan war, and the European hub will be located at the Cologne-Bonn airport.

Stealth fighter production delayed
The U.S. defence department has acknowledged the purchase price of the troubled F-35 stealth fighter will increase because of delays and
reduced orders among allied nations. American officials aren't saying how much more the aircraft will cost, but they are encouraging other nations who are part of the program to stick with it. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and junior Defence Minister Julian Fantino are lining up to defend Canada's planned purchase of 65 of the radar-evading jets. Mr. Fantino has suggested that the program is evolving, but didn't elaborate. Mr. MacKay has skirted the question of whether Canada will follow Italy -- and possibly Britain -- in cutting the size of their planned orders. Mr. Harper has told tells the House of Commons that the jets will be delivered and the project will come in at the advertised $9 billion price.

Federal online legislation for Net inspires misgivings
Canada's government Tuesday introduced a bill to give law enforcement authorities sweeping powers to probe online communications, but the move sparked criticism about threats to privacy. "New technologies provide new ways of committing crimes, making them more difficult to investigate," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says. "This legislation will enable authorities to keep pace with rapidly changing technology." The legislation would require telecommunications service providers to set up systems that allow police or Canada's spy service to intercept communications as part of their investigations. As well, they would be required to provide subscriber information to authorities and other data that would allow police to track suspects using a cell phone or a computer. Opposition parties and civil liberties groups, however, said new police powers contained in the bill could result in unreasonable searches and seizures. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, whose office is independent from the government, said in a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last October she had "deep concerns" about the proposed changes, which she said could have "serious repercussions for privacy rights."

Canadian share Ottawa's concerns over pensions
Federal polls and focus-group testing show that Canadians were concerned about the problems of an aging population even before the prime minister began musing about an overhaul of the pension system. The surveys conducted for the privy council office suggest Canadians are worried about whether federal policies can handle the challenge as the retirement ranks swell. Many respondents told the pollsters the government needs to pay special attention to pension sustainability, the ability of future generations to support growing numbers of retirees and the capacity of the health-care system. The government received the report just before Christmas. A month later, Stephen Harper used the podium at an economics meeting in Davos, Switzerland to announce that he, too, was concerned about taxpayers' ability to finance retirement benefits in the coming years and was preparing to make major changes.

Fast security lanes extended to airports
Travellers under Canada's Nexus program will be able to use their cards in new, faster security lines when flying to the United States. Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel announced Tuesday that starting Wednesday, Nexus members can use their cards for faster screening at airports in eight Canadian cities. The Nexus program previously allowed Canadian residents to pass through special lines when travelling by road to the United States, or by air to some countries outside the U.S. It's designed to make border patrol more efficient by allowing guards to move those who aren't considered a danger to border security through customs more quickly and focus on travellers who have the potential to be high risk. In order to qualify for the Nexus program, applicants cannot have a criminal record or have violated customs or immigration laws.

Ottawa sued over almost extinct fowl
Environmentalists are taking Ottawa to court over what they say is its failure to protect the vanishing sage grouse.
But they admit the distinctive southern prairie bird could already be gone from Alberta by the time the case goes before a judge. Last fall, 12 groups told federal Environment Minister Peter Kent that they planned legal action if he didn't issue an emergency protection order for the birds as required by the Species At Risk Act. They are now asking Federal Court of Canada to force Mr. Kent to issue that order. They also want the court to compel Ottawa to protect enough prairie from energy development to ensure the birds' survival. Scientists estimate there are 13 male sage grouse in Alberta and 43 in Saskatchewan.


Syrian city endurds 10th day of assaults

Syria rejected UN charges of crimes against humanity on Tuesday, even as monitors said troops killed at least 18 civilians, six in the heaviest shelling of the protest city of Homs for days. Navi Pillay, the top human rights representative at the United Nations, said on Monday that the world body's inaction had "emboldened" Syria's government to unleash overwhelming force against its own civilians. But Syria's government rejected her accusations. A monitoring group said President Bashar al-Assad's forces launched one of their heaviest assaults on Homs since they began their campaign to crush rebels on February 4. On the same day, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria for the second time in four months. The Syrian régime's crackdown has been centred on the central city of Homs, which has been under a relentless barrage of machinegun fire, shells, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades for 10 days.

Bahrainis protest on anniversary
Bahraini security forces fanned out in unprecedented numbers on Tuesday as the island nation was marking
the one-year anniversary of the Shiite-led uprising against its Sunni rulers. On the eve of the anniversary, violence erupted at a rally in the Gulf nation's capital of Manama as opposition supporters staged the largest attempt in months to retake Pearl Square, the city's central roundabout that had served as the epicenter of weeks of
anti-government protests last year, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters on Monday evening and protesters hurled firebombs and rocks at security forces. Shiites account for about 70 per cent of Bahrain's population of some 525,000 people, but say they have faced decades of discrimination.

Rescue of Greece unfinished
A meeting of finance chiefs of the 17 euro countries to discuss Greece's second multibillion bailout planned for Wednesday was called off after Athens failed to deliver on several demands made by its partners in the currency union. The last-minute cancellation of the meeting, which was expected to give the green light for a key debt-relief deal with private creditors linked to the bailout, shows the eurozone wants much tougher guarantees now from Athens before giving it an extra $171 billion in rescue loans, on top of the $145 billion granted in 2010.
While the Parliament in Athens faced down violent protests over the weekend to approve a far-reaching new austerity package, the cabinet remained locked in talks Tuesday evening over how to save an more millions demanded last week by the eurozone. The other finance ministers also want assurances from the leaders of Greece's two main political parties that they will implement the promised spending cuts and reforms after national elections expected for April.

Canadian doctors examine jailed former Ukrainian prime minister
A team of Western doctors arrived Tuesday at the prison where Ukraine's ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is held to examine the opposition leader amid complaints about her treatment and health. The three Canadian and two German medics include a cardiologist and a nervous system expert, the former Soviet republic's penitentiary system said in a statement. The examination began Tuesday afternoon, Ukraine's Deputy Health Minister Raisa Moiseyenko told reporters near the prison entrance, where about a hundred protestors were shouting "Save Yulia!" The group was expected to issue a statement on Wednesday after completing the examinations. The leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution was sentenced in October to seven years in jail for abuse of power while prime minister in a case taken up just months after she lost a close election to President Viktor Yanukovych.

China offers to 'balance' trade with U.S.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for "greater balance" in trade and investment between the United States and China, addressing US concerns on the issue. "We should tap our cooperation potential, create more bright spots in our cooperation and strive for greater balance in trade and investment between the two countries," Xi said after talks in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama.
He was speaking during a State Department lunch with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. China's trade surplus with the United States is a sensitive issue as U.S. lawmakers accuse Beijing of keeping the value of its currency unfairly low to fuel inexpensive exports that have turned China into a manufacturing giant. U.S. officials and business leaders have in the past called for China and other countries to increase their investments in the United States as a means to create American jobs.

Russia said to have skirted nuclear disaster
A leading Russian magazine reported Russia came close to nuclear disaster in late December when a blaze engulfed a nuclear-powered submarine carrying atomic weapons, ontradicting official assurances that it was not armed. Russian officials said at the time that all nuclear weapons aboard the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine had been unloaded well before a fire engulfed the 167-metre vessel and there had been no risk of a radiation leak.
But the respected Vlast weekly magazine quoted several sources in the Russian navy as saying that throughout the fire on Dec. 29 the submarine was carrying 16 R-29 intercontinental ballistic missiles, each armed with four nuclear warheads. Neither the Russian Defence Ministry nor the office of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has responsibility for military matters, would immediately comment on the report.


Controversial Canadian pipeline expected to be delayed
TransCanada Corp. said Tuesday that the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is expected to come into service a bit later than previously expected. The Calgary-based pipeline and utility giant is now aiming for the US$7.6-billion Alberta-to-Texas pipeline to come into service in early 2015, compared to its earlier target of late-2014. The company also said its quarterly dividend will be raised to 44 cents per share, up from 42 cents, payable March 31. The Keystone XL pipeline, which would extend the reach of an existing oil pipeline that currently delivers crude to the U.S. Midwest, has become a major political flashpoint as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks re-election this November. Last month, the U.S. government denied a permit for the project, but left the door open for TransCanada to apply for a new one. Mr. Obama said a deadline imposed on his administration by the Republicans to make a decision by Feb. 21 didn't allow enough time to adequately study a new route through Nebraska to avoid the ecologically sensitive Sandhills region, so it had no choice but to reject the project.
Although backers of the project say it would create thousands of jobs in both countries and supplant crude imports from unfriendly regimes if approved, it has also come under fire from critics who worry the line will increase U.S. dependence on "dirty" oilsands crude and cause ecological harm to the American heartland in the
event of a spill.

Hackers tapped into defunct high-tech giant
The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday that international hackers had "widespread access" to the corporate computer operations of former technology giant Nortel Networks Corp. for nearly a decade. The Journal says that seven passwords used byexecutives of the company -- including its CEO -- wound up in the hands of cyberspies that were likely based in China. The report was linked to an interview with 19-year Nortel veteran Brian Shields, who was behind a six-month investigation into the security breach that is believed to have started in 2000. Mr. Shields told the Journal that hackers had "plenty of time" and "access to everything," including research and development reports, as well as the company's future plans for the business. Nortel did not disclose the security breach to its potential buyers, nor did the company address the problem until its assets were already for sale, according to the Journal report. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and sold off its assets in pieces to various international competitors of the technology industry. China's Washington embassy said there is no evidence presented with the allegations,

Air Canada seeks to reassure passengers worried about walkout
Air Canada says travellers flying Air Canada can continue to book their flights as negotiations continue with a new federally appointed mediator to help resolve an ongoing dispute between the airline and its pilots. The airline says the company has no intention of imposing new contract terms or locking out its pilots. The federal government put pressure on both sides to avoid any disruptions in air travel, saying a strike or lockout would harm the economy during a fragile recovery. On Tuesday, federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt intervened in the pilots dispute, initiating a six-month mediation process after telling both sides any work stoppage would harm the interest of

Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 12,356 - 42. Canadian dollar: US$1.00 cents. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $100.94 + .03.


In the National Hockey League, the Red Wings had a rendez-vous with history. Detroit won its 20th straight home game last time out to tie the NHL record held by the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-1976 Philadelphia Flyers. The Dallas Stars tried to beat the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since Calgary won there 4-1 in early November.


British Columbia on Wednesday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C7 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: snow. Nunavut; mix sun cloud. Whitehorse -6, Yellowknife -11, Iqaluit -19. Alberta: sun. Saskatchewan: sun north, snow south. Manitoba: snow. Edmonton 1, Regina -3, Winnipeg -2. Ontario: snow south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: snow. Toronto 6, Ottawa 2, Montreal 1. Maritimes: mix sun cloud. Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton 2, Halifax 6, Charlottetown 5. St. John's 1.

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