Thursday, February 23, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 22 February 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

PM off to North
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to the Arctic in the dead of winter to add some heft to his promise to boost aboriginal education. In Iqaluit on Thursday, Harper is expected to highlight increased government spending on adult basic education in the territories. The goal of the funding is to improve literacy and job skills for the many aboriginal adults who have not been able to finish high school. Mr. Harper presented the initiative in the speech from the throne last spring, and followed up in last June's budget with $9 million over two years. Unemployment in the Arctic is sky high, and Inuit education levels are low, with only a quarter of students ever finishing high school.

Canadian minister sticks to tough-on-crime legislation
Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is standing by mandatory minimum sentencing legislation, despite a new warning that such laws don't work. Mr. Nicholson says the legislation, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences, is "very targeted." The comments came after an attorney who helped U.S. politicians write mandatory minimum sentencing laws during the 1980s issued a warning for Canadian parliamentarians. Eric E. Sterling, who once served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said imposing long jail terms for minor drug offences has been a mistake in the U.S. and won't work in Canada. Mr. Sterling is now the president of the Maryland-based Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. He also is one of 28 current and former law enforcement officials in the U.S. who have written to Canadian senators, as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the premiers. They take issue with Bill C-10, known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences and is currently being studied in the Senate.
Earlier this month, four former B.C. attorneys general made a similar arguments.

Federal Liberals seek revival in Quebec
A day after the official opposition New Democratic Party released record-breaking party membership totals for Quebec, Bob Rae is trying to revive Liberal support in a province it dominated through most of Canada's history. The NDP says its card-carrying membership has increased by 50 per cent across Canada since October and has jumped by 600 per cent in Quebec. The interim leader of the Liberals spoke to students Wednesday at l'Université de Montreal. he expressed little concern about the NDP numbers, saying it's normal for memberships to rise during party leadership races. Mr. Rae says the Liberals have around 5,000 party members in Quebec, which is less than half the NDP's tally of 12,000. He says the Liberals have lots of work to do to win back the francophone vote after watching it drop in Quebec in recent years.

Ontario to abolish obsolete security law
The Ontario government announced Wednesday that the so-called secret law used to give police extra powers during the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010 will be scaled back to cover only court houses and power stations, The Liberals came under fire for using an obscure Second World War law known as the Public Works Protection Act to give police more authority to stop, search and detain people during the G20, so they
asked former Attorney General Roy McMurtry to review the law. Critics say the law was used to justify mass arrests of hundreds of G20 protesters, and claim the province intentionally let people believe it gave police more powers than it actually did to stop and search people outside the G20 security fences. The Liberals admit their secret changes to the 70-year-old law, which cabinet quietly passed even though the legislature was sitting, were never clarified for the public, causing confusion over exactly what powers police actually had. The Liberals say the law was "badly communicated," but have refused to offer an apology. More than 1,100 people were arrested in Toronto during the G20 weekend, many of them detained overnight in cages inside a warehouse, but almost all were released without charges.

Security service advises against overestimation of bin Laden death
Just hours after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, Canada's spy agency predicted Islamic extremism would live on despite the al-Qaida leader's death. A newly released assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says Bin Laden, though very important, was not the only ideologue advocating war between Islam and the West. It suggests groups inspired by the al-Qaida message might carry out attacks independently of the terrorist network's core. Bin Laden was buried at sea last May after a covert U.S. team stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed him. The CSIS assessment, written the day after his death, expresses concern he would be elevated to martyr status, reinforcing his
iconic image. The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the report under the Access to Information Act.

Canadians resigned to late retirement
As Canadians live longer and face tougher financial choices in their golden years, fewer than a third of respondents in a new survey plan to be fully retired by 66. Sun Life Financial's annual Unretirement Index poll found that only about three in 10 Canadians surveyed said they plan full retirement at that age. Nearly five in 10 said they plan to work part-time or freelance while they ease into retirement. Around the world, a retirement crisis looms as debt-strapped countries scale back benefits, raise the retirement age or make other moves to deal with rising obligations and weak economies. In Canada, the federal government wants to scale back the long-term costs of Canada's Old Age Security program, and has met harsh criticism from critics and the opposition over suggestions Ottawa may raise the OAS retirement age to save money. On Tuesday, Human Resources Minister Diane Diane Finley told a Canadian Club meeting in Toronto that younger Canadians would face higher taxes, fewer social programs or larger deficits unless major reforms are started right now.

Hockey sex offender apologizes
Convicted sex abuser and former junior hockey coach Graham James has apologized to his victims, his former players and the entire Canadian hockey community. He made the apology Wednesday during a hearing in Winnipeg where he is to be sentenced for abusing retired NHL star Theo Fleury and another player, Todd Holt. James said he regrets what happened and he realizes parents expected their children would be safe when they played for him as teenagers. His lawyer Evan Roitenberg said James is rehabilitated. James pleaded guilty late last year to sexually abusing Fleury and Holt while he was their coach in the Western Hockey League in the 1980s and '90s.


Crucifixion of Syrian city drags on
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces rained rockets and bombs down on opposition-held neighbourhoods of the city of Homs on Wednesday, reducing buildings to rubble and killing more than 80 people, including two Western journalists.
The barrages marked an intensification of a nearly three-week offensive to crush resistance in Homs, one of the focal points of a nationwide uprising against Assad's 11-year rule, and prompted further international condemnation. Activists say more than 60 bodies, both rebel fighters and civilians, were recovered from one area of Homs' Babo Amro neighbourhood after an afternoon bombardment, adding to 21 killed earlier in the day. The worsening humanitarian situation in Homs and other
embattled towns is bound to dominate "Friends of Syria" talks in Tunis on Friday involving the United States, European and Arab countries, Syria's neighbour Turkey and other nations clamouring for Assad to halt the bloodshed and relinquish power.

Desperate Greeks again take to the streets
Thousands of protesters angry at punishing spending cuts poured into Athens' central Syntagma Square on Wednesday as Greek lawmakers rushed to pass laws needed to secure payment of a second bailout for the debt-laden country.
Lawmakers set to work on an array of measures demanded by euro zone states in exchange for a 130-billion euro rescue, endorsed by finance ministers on Tuesday after hours of torturous negotiation in Brussels. Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager, most vocal among mistrustful northern creditor nations, kept up a barrage of scepticism about Athens' ability to meet its reform commitments. He called for a strengthening of the euro area's financial firewalls around Greece, combining the current temporary rescue fund with a new permanent 500-billion-euro one due to come into force in July. Credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded Greece further ahead of a planned bond swap under which it will enforce sharp losses on private creditors as part of the bailout program.

Dozens die in Argentine train disaster
A packed train slammed into the end of the line in a subway station in the Argentine capital buenos Aires Wednesday, killing 49 people and injuring hundreds of morning commuters in Argentina's worst train accident in decades. Federal Police Commissioner Nestor Rodriguez says the dead include 48 adults and one child. At least 550 people were injured, and emergency workers were slowly extracting dozens of people who were trapped inside the first car. The commuter train came in too fast and hit the barrier at the end of the platform at about 26 kph.

Afghan leader calls for calm after Quran burning
Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed for calm on Wednesday after officials said at least six people were shot dead and dozens wounded in new protests over the burning of copies of the Koran, Islam's holy book, at NATO's main base in the country. The U.S. embassy said its staff were in "lockdown" and travel had been suspended as thousands of people expressed fury over the burning, in protests that flared for a second day in several cities. The U.S. government and the American commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan apologized after Afghan labourers found charred copies of the Koran while collecting rubbish at the sprawling Bagram Airbase, about an hour's drive north of Kabul.The apologies failed to contain the anger.

Somali city retaken from Islamist rebels
Truckloads of Ethiopian and Somali troops on Wednesday captured the strategic Somali city of Baidoa from Al-Qaeda allied Shebab insurgents, who vowed to avenge their biggest loss for several months. The blow to the insurgency coincided with the UN Security Council boosting the strength of an African force in Mogadishu by more than 5,000 troops and came on the eve of conference in London aimed at reviving peace efforts. Baidoa, 250 kilometres northeast of the capital Mogadishu, was the seat of Somalia's transitional parliament until the hardline Shebab captured it three years ago. It had since been one of the Shebab's main bases and its capture leaves the group's fighters in central Somalia increasingly isolated, with the African Union mission having chased them out of the capital. The insurgents still control large parts of southern Somalia, but a months-old Kenyan land and air offensive there is also making some progress.

Theft said cripplied Nigeria's oil production
A top official with Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Tuesday that Nigeria could produce as much as 4 million barrels of oil a day, but production remains held back by chronic problems with the nation's government and the rampant theft of crude
from pipelines, The speech by Shell executive vice-president Ian Craig at an oil and gas conference in Nigeria's capital Abuja renews long-running complaints by the multinational firm in Nigeria, where it remains the dominant oil company.
Mr. Craig also says that as much as 150,000 barrels of crude a day is being stolen by oil thieves in the Niger Delta despite an amnesty deal for militants there. Nigeria, an OPEC member, now pumps out about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, making it Africa's biggest producer.


Bombardier's business jet saless recovering after recession
Bombardier Aerospace enjoyed good results for the last quarter of 2011. The company says deliveries rose 54 per cent, for a total of US$2.1 billion, compared with US$1.4 billion in the same quarter of the previous year.The General Aviation Manufacturers Association says Bombardier's third-quarter increase of deliveries of 88 per cent.

Retailer's profits dip
Department store retailer Sears Canada Inc. saw its net profits cut by more than half in the latest quarter on a
drop in revenues at its stores. The retailer said Wednesday it earned $38.7 million or 36 cents per share for the 13 weeks ended Jan. 28, which includes the key Christmas retail period. That compared with net profits of $82.7 million or 77 cents per share a year earlier. Last week, the company announced it is cutting prices on more than 5,000 items as the big department store chain tries to boost sales. It is also dealing with stepped-up competition from Wal-Mart,while U.S. discounter Target is about to set up shop in Canada.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,701 + 78. Canadian dollar: US.99 cents. Euro: $1.32. Oil: $106.00 - .25é


The Toronto Argonauts have added another quarterback, signing former B.C. Lions veteran Jarious Jackson. The 34-year-old spent the past seven seasons with B.C. before being released Feb. 1. Jackson captured Grey Cups there in 2006 and 2011, but saw limited duty last season behind Travis Lulay, the Canadian Football League's outstanding player. He'll back up veteran Ricky Ray in Toronto.
Canada's quest to qualify for the men's Olympic field
hockey tournament was dealt a blow Wednesday with a 3-2 loss to
The loss dropped Canada into fourth place in the six-team
tournament. The team now needs a victory versus France on Friday to
keep alive any hope of playing in London.


British Columbia on Thursday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C7 Vancouver. Yukon, Nunavut: sun. Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse -2, Yellowknife -18, Iqaluit -26. Alberta: snow north, cloud south. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: snow. Edmonton 0, Regina -2, Winnipeg -3. Ontario: snow. Quebec: mix snow rain. Toronto 5, Ottawa 3, Montreal 2. Maritimes: mix snow rain. Newfoundland and Labrador: mix sun cloud. Fredericton 4, Halifax, Charlottetown 5, St. John's 3.

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