Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 20 February 2012
Canadian International Financial Weather
Canadian

Farmers in for fat years
Agriculture Canada says almost all Canadian farmers, from wheat growers to cattle ranchers to potato producers, can look forward to good times for up to the next 10 years. The department says by almost any measure, average farm income set new records in 2011. Net cash income is expected to total nearly $12 billion. That's a 24 per cent increase over 2010 and a whopping 47 per cent increase over the five-year average. The lucrative harvest came even after an eight per cent increase in operating expenses. The horn of plenty includes almost all agricultural
sectors. Only cattle producers faced a setback in 2011 over rising costs. However, Agriculture Canada experts says that comes after several
years of gradually rising incomes. Farmers will face challenges in the years to come, mostly from increasing expenses. Fertilizer costs are expected to rise "modestly," the reportsays. As well, livestock producers are expected to face continually rising costs for feed, as demand for grains drives up prices. However, the report says the conditions that led to a profitable 2011 are likely to stick around for a decade.



Coal called more harmful to climate than oilsands
One of the world's top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta's oilsands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal. Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, is a
lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In a commentary published Sunday in the prestigious journal Nature, Mr. Weaver and colleague Neil Swart analyze how burning all global stocks of coal, oil and natural gas would affect
temperatures. Their analysis includes unconventional gas, such as undersea methane hydrates and shale gas produced by fracking, as
well as unconventional oil sources including the oilsands. They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about .36 degrees C. That's about half the total amount of warming over the last century. When only commercially viable oilsands deposits are considered, the temperature increase is only .03 degrees C. In contrast, the paper concludes that burning all the globe's vast coal deposits would create a 15-degree increase in temperature. Burning all the abundant natural gas would warm the planet by more than three degrees. Mr. Weaver says his analysis suggests it is an increased dependence on
coal, not the oilsands, that governments have to worry about.



Quebec students take to streets to oppose fee hikes
Tens of thousands of post-secondary students in the province of Quebec are now on strike against tuition-fee hikes. About 31,000 students from colleges and universities have deserted their classrooms since Friday as part of an increasingly active campaign against the Charest government. The strikes are the result of votes, with students in some universities and colleges choosing to use the tactic to apply pressure on the government. While less than 10 per cent of all students have chosen to participate, the figure is expected to grow slightly on Tuesday with a few thousand more from another college joining their ranks. The students are upset that the government will nearly double tuition to $3,800 from the current $2,200 over five years. They say education is a fundamental right and the tuition increase will discourage some people from continuing their studies. But the government says Quebec tuition is so low that, even with the increase, it will still be the lowest in Canada.




Vets being left in the lurch: military watchdog


The Canadian veterans ombudsman said Monday that the federal government is failing former soldiers in the way it
tells them whether or not they've qualified for aid, A report from Guy Parent said soldiers are not given adequate
information about why they are granted or denied disability benefits. Mr. Parent says failing to provide supporting information for decisions is at odds with the Veterans Bill of Rights and other federal laws. His report reviewed a sample of 213 disability benefit decision letters sent between 2001 and 2010 and found that none clearly stated the reasoning behind the decision.



PM hails Vatican's move on sainthood
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is welcoming a Vatican decision to name a 17th century Mohawk woman as North America's first aboriginal saint. Pope Benedict has announced that Kateri Tekakwitha will be canonized on Oct. 21.
Tekakwitha is entombed in a marble shrine at St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, QC. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 in recognition of her unwavering devotion to God. Known as the Lily of the Mohawks, Tekakwitha was born in New York state in 1656. She spent most of her life in upper New York, but eventually fled to Kahnawake near Montreal to escape opposition to her Christianity.




International

Dozens die in Mexican prison break
The local state governor said on Monday that members of the Zetas drug cartel plotted with prison guards to orchestrate an elaborate escape and kill 44 of their rivals in one of the worst episodes of prison violence in Mexico. In what first appeared to be prison brawl between criminal gangs, the Zetas stabbed, cut the throats and bludgeoned to death at least 44 inmates affiliated with the rival Gulf Cartel on Sunday, said Governor Rodrigo Medina of Nuevo Leon state. He says that During the violence, 30 Zetas members escaped the prison on the outskirts of industrial hub Monterrey with the help of corrupt prison guards. The prison director and his top aides have all been fired and are under investigation along with 18 guards, he said.



Sarkozy claims credit for saving French economy
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told an election rally on Sunday his policies had saved France from economic ruin and he alone had the courage to stick to reforms that would see the nation emerge stronger from today's turmoil.
Addressing 7,000 supporters in the port city of Marseille in the second rally of his campaign, Mr. Sarkozy accused Socialist Francois Hollande of being dishonest about the risks still facing France and being wishy-washy about his policy plans. The centre-right president is grappling with disapproval ratings of 67-68 percent and opinion polls placing him 12 points behind his rival for a May 6 runoff, where the pair are likely to face off following an April 22 first round. Mr. Sarkozy is betting that his experience steering France and the euro zone through crisis will be his most effective weapon against Mr. Hollande, a Socialist who is popular on the left but lacks experience in a ministerial post.



Opposition calls new protest against Senegalese leader


Senegal's opposition called for a new protest Monday, prompting fears of fresh violence days before polls in which President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term has upset the normally stable nation. Tensions are running high just six days before elections in the west African nation, a former French colony known for being one of the continent's pioneer democracies which has never suffered a coup or conflict. The opposition June 23 Movement planned to 4continue heaping pressure on Mr. Wade, 85, to step down ahead of Feb. 26 polls. Last week approaching protesters clashed with security forces in the sidestreets as they attempted to defy a ban to rally there.



UN nuclear inspectors back in Iran
Senior UN inspectors arrived in Iran on Monday to push for transparency about its disputed nuclear programme and several European states halted purchases of Iranian oil as part of Western moves to pile pressure on a defiant Tehran.
The five-member International Atomic Energy Agency team, led by chief IAEA inspector Herman Nackaerts, planned two days of meetings in another attempt to get answers from Iran regarding intelligence suggesting its declared civilian nuclear energy program is a facade for researching ways to make atom bombs. Mr. Nackaerts said on departure from Vienna that he wanted "concrete results" from the talks. His delegation was expected to seek, among other things, to question Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military base believed to have been used for high-explosive tests relevant to nuclear warheads.



Red Cross tries to negotiate Syria ceasefire
The Red Cross said on Monday it was in talks with the Syrian authorities and rebels to halt the violence so it can deliver aid amid calls to allow women and children out of the besieged city of Homs. President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, again accused foreigners of funding and arming "terrorist groups" with the aim of destabilising his country. China's influential People's Daily warned that any Western support for the rebels would trigger a "large-scale civil war." But despite a weekend appeal by a visiting Chinese envoy for all sides to stop the violence, monitors said regime forces targeted the central city of Homs for a 17th straight day. Attacks on Homs killed nine out of the 16 people killed across Syria on Monday, according to reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and state media.



Saudis vow to suppress rebellion
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said on Monday its security forces would use "an iron fist" to end violence in a Shi'ite Muslim area of the country
and defended its tactics against what it called foreign-backed troublemakers. Sunni Muslim kingdom Saudi Arabia has blamed an unnamed foreign power, widely understood to mean Shi'ite Iran, for backing attacks on its security forces in its Eastern Province. But members of the Shi'ite minority in the area have accused the kingdom's own security force of using violence against protesters. The statement came in response to a sermon preached in the Qatif area of the Eastern Province last week that criticized the government's handling of the situation, in which at least six people have been killed, a ministry spokesman said. Shi'ite activists in Qatif said the clashes first began at the height of the Arab uprisings last year and were provoked by the detention without charge of political campaigners.





Financial

Markets
Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,458 - 27. Canadian dollar: US$1.00 cents. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $104.92 + $1.68.


Cellphone firms threaten auction boycott
Two of Canada's smaller cellphone companies are threatening to sit out the next federal radio spectrum auction if space isn't set aside for new players like themselves. Wind Mobile's Anthony Lacavera says smaller cellphone companies like his own will be outbid and outspent by established players like Rogers, Bell and Telus. Public Mobile says if Industry Canada sets rules that favour the established players, it's not worth spending millions of dollars on the bidding process. Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis is expected in the coming weeks to announce rules for the auction of the 700 megahertz band. This spectrum has the ability to allow cellphone calls in elevators and deep in underground parking lots, as well as making coverage in rural Canada more affordable for wireless providers because fewer cellphone towers are needed. Bruce Kirby, vice-president of strategy and business for Public Mobile, says if the newer cellphone companies can't successfully win new radio spectrum against their larger competitors, they won't be able to expand into rural Canada.



Air Canada pilots have conditions for new low-cost service
Air Canada's pilots union says a deal could be reached to create a low-cost carrier if the airline satisfies concerns about the "hollowing out" of the mainline carrier. Capt. Paul Strachan said the airline's 3,000 pilots need to see a roadmap about how the airline sees the new carrier operating over the next five to 10 years. He says the low-cost carrier would look artificially profitable if the mainline airline is weighed down with fixed costs while revenues are moved to the new entity. The effort is to get around pilot union contract clauses that limit who can fly its planes.
Air Canada declined to comment on its efforts and reports that it has a team of 60 employees and 30 consultants and lawyers assessing the situation. Other points of disagreement are possible pension changes and the desire by the airline to raise the mandatory retirement age.
Pilots are in the midst of federally mediated talks with Air Canada to avert a labour stoppage and reach a new collective agreement.




Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Tuesday: rain, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut; mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse 2, Yellowknife -10, Iqaluit -21. Alberta: rain north, mix sun cloud south. Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud. Manitoba: snow. Edmonton 5, Regina -2, Winnipeg -3. Ontario: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 5, Ottawa, Montreal 3. Atlantic Canada; mix sun cloud. Fredericton, Halifax 1, Charlottetown, St. John's -5.





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