Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 21 February 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Canada threatens action against EU oilsands move
Canada is threatening to take Europe to the world's trading body if it persists in trying to single out oilsands crude as dirty oil. The threat was contained in a letter sent by Canadian ambassador to the European Union, David Plunkett, in December, which was obtained by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. Canada has complained in the past about efforts in Europe to single out oilsands crude in the new Fuel Quality Directive that aims to curb emissions from transport fuels by 10 per cent. But it had not explicitly threatened publicly to take the issue to the World Trade Organization for adjudication. The new European standards are being voted on Thursday and if approved will go to the full European parliament. The directive assigns carbon values to different sources of crude, with oilsands bitumen valued at 23 per cent more than conventional oil.



Israeli leader to visit
Israeli officials say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Canada for talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his way to see U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next month. The Israeli leader is tentatively scheduled to meet Mr. Harper in Ottawa on March 1 before continuing on to Washington on March 4. He has been invited for talks with Obama at the White House on March 5. The visits will come after months of feverish speculation about Israel launching a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's controversial nuclear programme, which much of the West believes is a drive for atomic weapons.


Opposition party's membership balloons
Membership in Canada's official opposition party swelled by more than 50 per cent since the start of the party's leadership contest last October. Final membership numbers released by the New Democratic Party show an historic 128,351 card-carrying members eligible to vote for the next leader.
British Columbia and Ontario will have the most influence over who becomes leader, home to 30 per cent and 28.6 per cent of the
members respectively. Although Quebec accounts for more than half the party's 101 seats in the House of Commons, the province will have limited clout in the leadership outcome. Quebec is home to only 9.5 per cent of the membership. Still, NDP officials tout the fact that membership in Quebec has increased by 600 per cent, to 12,266 from an almost non-existent presence in the province last fall.



Vets minister promises improvements for disabled
Canada's veterans affairs minister is promising to make it easier for veterans to understand their disability benefits. Steven Blaney says his department will improve the information given to veterans as to why they have been awarded or denied benefits. A report Monday from veterans ombudsman Guy Parent accused the government of failing injured veterans. Mr. Parent looked at 213 disability benefit letters and found none clearly explained the reasons behind decisions.
Mr. Blaney says a new format for the letters will require that reasons be listed, as well as the evidence that was considered.



Former NL premier against huge power project
Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Peckford says the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project should be independently reviewed by international energy experts. In an open letter to Tory Premier Kathy Dunderdale, Mr. Peckford says the province's Public Utilities Board lacks the expertise to assess the $6.2-billion project.
The board is reviewing plans to harness power from the lower Churchill River in Labrador with links to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Mr. Peckford, who was the Progressive Conservative premier for 10 years before retiring in 1989, says other options such as natural gas have not been fully explored.



Ontario won't raise taxes
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty promises he will not raise taxes to eliminate a $16-billion deficit. Mr. McGuinty says the minority Liberal government will not adopt all 362 cost-cutting recommendations economist Don Drummond's report, and will likely change some while ignoring others. The premier said a flat "no" when asked directly if he would raise taxes to offset some of the ideas from Mr. Drummond that get rejected, but then he walked away from the microphone. The premier also dismissed the economist's criticism that politicians failed to talk about Ontario's harsh fiscal reality during last fall's election campaign, saying he wants to look forward, not back. Mr. McGuinty also says the Liberals will not make thoughtless across-the-board cuts.




International

Greece get chance to avoid default
An agreement has been reached that will possibly enable Greece possibly to avoid defaulting on its massive debt next month, with the euro remaining its currency. The agreement struck in Brussels Tuesday involves a second bailout from Greece's European partners and the International Monetary Fund worth $170-billion and a massive private debt reduction. Experts says that Greece faces many more years of sacrifice. Greeks have already experienced two years of income cuts and tax hikes amid deep recession and record high unemployment.



Dozens reported killed in Syria
Activists report that Syrian government forces killed more than 60 people on Tuesday in assaults on villages and an artillery barrage in the restive city of Homs, and the Red Cross called for daily ceasefires to allow in urgently needed aid. Washington, which is preparing for a "Friends of Syria" meeting of Western and Arab states opposing President Bashar al-Assad, declined to rule out eventually providing arms to rebels seeking to overthrow him.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was searching for a candidate to name as a humanitarian coordinator for Syria, whose role could evolve into seeking a political solution to the conflict. Activists said at least 30 people died in the bombardment of the Baba Amro neighbourhood of Homs city, and at least 33 were killed when forces trying to crush opposition to Assad stormed villages in northern Idlib province.


Venezuelan leader suffers new medical setback
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday he will have to undergo another operation after doctors found a 2-centimeter lesion in his pelvis during medical tests in Cuba.
The 57-year-old socialist leader had two operations in Havana last year to remove a baseball-size cancerous tumor from the same area. His exact condition remains a closely guarded secret.



Honduras blames cigarette for prison holocaust
The Honduran government says a dropped cigarette may have set off the prison fire that killed at least 359 people in the city of Comayagua. Witnesses have told officials that a prisoner fell asleep while smoking, dropping it to his mattress. Chief prosecutor Luis Alberto Rubi said the autopsy of 277 inmates showed o evidence of gunshot wounds. He also ruled out the theory that gasoline was poured to light the fire. The Feb. 14 prison fire was the world's deadliest in a century.



Afghans indignant over Koran burning
More than 2,000 angry Afghans protested outside an American air base on Tuesday after they learned that copies of the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, were burned in a pile of garbage at a sprawling U.S. military base north of Kabul.
"Die, die, foreigners!" the demonstrators shouted. Some fired rifles into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base and set tires ablaze. The burning of the Qur'an and other religious books was unintentional, said U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after a decade of war in Afghanistan and fueled the arguments of Afghans who claim foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.



World body expected to approve more Arican military help for Somalia
Diplomats at the UN say the Security Council will on Wednesday vote to increase the African peacekeeping force in Somalia to up to 17,000 troops. A resolution to be passed by the 15-nation council will also seek a ban on trade in charcoal from Somalia which is used by al-Shebab militants to raise money and threatens an environmental crisis in the Horn of Africa state. The Security Council's vote will come one day before an international conference in London on efforts to increase support for Somalia's transitional government and to combat al-Shebab and other militant groups.
The African Union force in Somalia currently has a UN-mandated upper limit of 12,000 troops. The AU wants this increased to 17,731 troops and police to step up the battle against al-Shebab, which was last year forced out of most of Mogadishu.



Mugabe wants early election
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, declared himself as "fit as a fiddle" and pushed for new elections later this year as he celebrated his 88th birthday on Tuesday. He poked fun at reports that suffers from a life-threatening disease.
Mr. Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, said he will stand again in new elections that he insisted should be held this year, with or without the new constitution required under Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe was chosen in December by his ZANU-PF party to stand again as its presidential candidate.





Financial

Bell opposes favouritism in wireless auction
Telecom giant Bell Canada says it opposes any special measures that would help smaller wireless companies purchase radio waves for network expansion in an upcoming federal auction. Bell says it's urging the federal government to ensure the auction of the 700-megahertz spectrum is open and transparent. Industry Minister Christian Paradis is expected to set down the rules for participants in the auction in the coming weeks but it
won't be held until later this year or in 2013. Wind Mobile and Public Mobile, two of Canada's smallest cellphone companies, are threatening to sit out the next federal auction of radio waves needed to expand their wireless networks if space isn't set aside for new players like themselves.
Bell says an open auction without special rules would benefit Canadians in rural and remote areas with better wireless service. Smaller cellphone companies like Wind say they will be outbid by established players like Bell, Rogers and Telus and that won't help competition in the wireless industry.



Markets
Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,623, up 165. Canadian dollar: US$1.00 cents. Euro: $1.32. Oil: $106.01 + $ 2.41.




Sports

Sports
FOOTBALL
Andy Fantuz says he's looking forward to helping Hamilton return to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1999. The Tiger-Cats unveiled their star slotback today. The Canadian Football League club signed Fantuz to a four-year deal last week after he spent the last six years in Saskatchewan. He was the league's top Canadian in 2010.
CURLING
Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Saskatchewan's Michelle Englot each won their fourth games at the Canadian women's curling championship today to keep pace with the leaders. The Jones team from Winnipeg defeated Nova Scotia's Heather Smith-Dacey 8-3. Englot's Regina foursome downed New Brunswick's Rebecca's Atkinson 11-6.





Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Wednesday: rain north, mix sun cloud south, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse -2, Yellowknife -14, Iqaluit -25. Prairies: snow. Edmonton, Regina 2, Winnipeg -4. Ontario: cloud south, snow north. Quebec: mix snow rain. Toronto, Ottawa 4, Montreal 3. Maritimes: mix snow rain. Newfoundland and Labrador: mix sun cloud. Fredericton, Charlottetown 3, Halifax 5, St. John's -1.




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