Sunday, February 26, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Group of 20 finance ministers urge bigger European Union 'firewall'


Group of 20 finance ministers including Jim Flaherty of Canada want the European Union to boost its financial firewall to prevent further debt crises like the one facing Greece and other EU members. Mr. Flaherty was reported to have suggested that the firewall should amount to as much as one trillion euros. Mr. Flaherty also said that the EU should first look to its own financial resources before asking other countries for bailout funds. The ministers and bankers were expected to debate boosting funds for the International Monetary Fund and Europe's emergency funds, following the latest rescue deal for Greece. The G20 meeting comes before an EU summit in Brussels week where debt relieft will top the agenda.

 

Canada united with West on Syria


Canada, the U.S. and more than 60 other nations have agreed on some steps to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the massacre of his opponents. Meeting in Tunisia, the so-called "Friends of Syria" urged the U.N. to begin planning a peacekeeping mission to Syria. But, there's no sign that Syrian allies Russia and China will go along.

 

Defence officials to travel to Washington to discuss F-35s


Canadian Defence Department officials will travel to Washington this comingweek to discuss the controversial F-35 stealth fighter program. A department source tells the Canadian Press the meetings will be held on Thursday and Friday at the Canadian Embassy. Canada is one of nine countries funding the F-35's, which will be built by Lockheed Martin. The program, however, has been plagued by delays and rising costs -- making it a hot-button issue in the House of Commons. Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have twice had to restructure financing for the fighter program. The Harper government has committed to buying 65 of the jets at $75 million each. Critics of the program have warned the per-jet cost could end up being double that. On Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay reaffirmed Canada's commitment to go with the F-35's.

Probe into 'robocalls' continues


Police and Elections Canada are investigating reports of so-called "robocalls." In the campaign for last May's election, some voters in Guelph, ON received automated phone calls that led them to the wrong polling station. Other voters got harassing calls that purported to be from an opposition campaign office. An aide to a Tory MP who worked on the campaign in Guelph is reported to have left his job after his name surfaced in the media in relation to the phone calls. The Conservative Party had denied any involvement, but Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has requested an emergency Commons debate on the matter on Monday. Mr. Rae says Canadians who received those calls were denied the opportunity tovote, which he calls "the most basic right" in a democracy. Elsewhere, Elections Canada has ended an investigation into a complaint about misleading phone calls made in the Waterloo, ON area in last May's election. The agency says the Conservatives admit they wrongly told a woman that her polling station had changed -- but the Tories insist it was a simple mistake. Meanwhile, a Conservative staffer has reportedly resigned after his name was linked to automated calls aimed at sending voters to the wrong polling stations on election day. Michael Sona is said to have left his job at the office of Toronto-area Tory MP Eve Adams. Liberal MP John McCallum says the 23-year old Sona is being "thrown under the bus" by the Tory party. Mr. McCallum insists more than one person is behind the crank calls because they were made to voters in more than 20 ridings.

 

NDP wants investigation into processing centre's switch


Canada's Official Opposition has asked the country's ethics commissioner to investigate the Quebec lieutenant of the governing Conservative Party. The New Democratic Party's request asks Mary Dawson to look into why an employment insurance processing centre was moved into Industry Minister Christian Paradis' riding. The centre was in Rimouski before being relocated to Thetford Mines. The NDP insists the sole reason for the move was political patronage. Montreal's La Presse reports the new centre will rent an office that belongs to a business partner of Mr. Paradis father. The NDP says the move will cost the Rimouski area $1.8 million in economic spinoffs. Mr. Paradis has declined to comment.

Hackers stage protest on Ontario police Web site
A group opposed to the Canadian government's proposed tough legislation on crime, Bill C-130, has protested by hacking into the Web site of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. The group calling itself Anonymous entered the site on Friday afternoon. The Association quickly removed the site. The Association had come out in favour of Bill C-130, legislation that would give authorities access to Internet subscriber information without requiring a warrant. Civil rights activists fear that the bill violates the privacy of Internet users. The identity of the Anonymous group remains unknown. Police are also deciding whether to launch a full investigation into threats made against Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister. Mr. Toews strongly supports the Bill. As a protest, a hacker posted sensitive personal information about Mr. Toews on the Internet. Police say that the hackers' actions proved the need for strong Internet legislation.


Siege of Homs continues into 22nd day


International monitors say Syrian troops killed at least one civilian on Saturday as they shelleda rebel stronghold in Homs for the 22nd straight day following a pause that allowed relief workers to evacuate some civilians. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the shelling of the neighbourhood of Baba Amr began at first light, as sporadic explosions were heard in other areas of the central flashpoint city. At least 53 people were killed in Syria on Friday, as forces loyal toPresident Bashar al-Assad bombarded Baba Amr, attacked villages and opened fire on demonstrators, as tens of thousands rallied across the country. The Britain-based Observatory said 22 people were killed in Baba Amr itself. Red Cross and Red Crescent ambulances entered the besieged district of Baba Amr on Friday and evacuated seven wounded Syrians, as well as 20 women and children. But the ambulances did not evacuate two wounded Western journalists and the bodies of two others, according to Saleh Dabbakeh, the Damascus spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. More than 7,600 people have been killed in violence across Syria since anti-regime protests erupted in March 2011.

Obama vows to continue pressure on al-Assad


President Barack Obama says the United States will keep up pressure on Syria's leader to stop the "slaughter" of civilians. Mr. Obama says it is "imperative" the world unite in condemning the Syrian military onslaught on civilians. Civilians are under siege in the city of Homs, among other places, and thousands have died. Mr. Obama says "it is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government." He says the world can no longer be a bystander to the violence, but he didn't give specifics about what the U.S or other countries could really do to help. Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used strong language to denounce Russia and China for blocking the U.N. Security Council from taking action to stop the massacre in Syria.

Beijing hits West over Syria


China's official news agency says the United States and Europe are "harbouring hegemonistic ambitions" in Syria. The comments Saturday by the Xinhua News Agency came a day after Beijing was condemned at an international conference held to find a way to halt the Syrian regime's nearly year-old suppression of an anti-government uprising. Xinhua said in a commentary that China's position on Syria was balanced and that "most of the Arab countries have begun to realize that the United States and Europe are hiding a dagger behind a smile." It said that while the U.S. and Europe may appear to be acting out of "humanitarian concern, they are actually harbouring hegemonistic ambitions."

Putin delivers warning on Iran
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of seeking "regime change" in Iran and warned Washington that Russia intended to keep its nuclear weapons to keep US power in check. Russia has long-standing commercial and military ties with Iran and has condemned unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. Mr. Putin's tough talk came as he toured a nuclear research centre in the once-secret city of Sarov ahead of a March 4 presidential election in which he is widely expected to secure a return to the Kremlin. Footage showed Mr. Putin inspect research stands and then chair a security meeting in which he lashed out at US plans to deploy a missile defence shield in Europe that Russia fears might make its nuclear forces ineffective. Mr. Putin often clashed with theUS while president between 2000 and 2008 and has remained a key decision-maker in the past four years who spearheaded Russia's criticism of the NATO-led air campaign in Libya. Russia now faces both Western and Arab world condemnation for its refusal to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an 11-month crackdown on street protests that the opposition says has claimed more than 7,600 lives.

Bribery charges against Silvio Berlusconi are dismissed
Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, won another judicial victory on Saturday when a court dismissed bribery charges against him. The court said that the statute of limitations had expired. Mr. Belusconi was accused of paying his former British tax lawyer David Mills to provide false testimony in his favour in two trials in the 1990s. Prosecutors sought a five-year prison term. Mr. Berlusconi had being convicted several times of corruption and false accounting in the past. But all cases were either been overturned or expired after years of moving through Italy's justice system.

Bin Laden's fortified house is demolished
Pakistan's security forces began on Saturday to demolish the fortified house in Abbotabad where Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces last May. By the end of the day, the boundary wall and upper portion of the building were destroyed. The government gave no reason for demolishing the house, which served as his home apparently for the last several years of the al-Qaeda leader's life.

US envoy comes up dry on Korean nuclear talks


A U.S. envoy who just finished nuclear talks with North Korean officials says ties between the rival Koreas must improve before Pyongyang and Washington can have a "fundamental improvement" in their relationship. The comments Saturday by Glyn Davies in Seoul come as North Korea threatens "a sacred war" over U.S.-South Korean large-scale military drills set to begin Monday. Mr. Davies said Friday in Beijing that he made a little progress in talks with North Korea meant to restart stalled nuclear disarmament-for-aid negotiations but downplayed hopes of a quick solution to the stand-off. South Korea's nuclear negotiator told reporters Saturday that he expects talks between the Koreas "in the future" but didn't provide any timetable.

Driver of wrecked train blames faulty brakes
The man who was driving the train that crashed in Argentina this week, killing 51 passengers, says that he'd warned about the train's faulty brakes more than once before the accident. Aside from those killed, 703 people were injured. The engineer, Marcos Cordoba, was hospitalized after he was cut from the wreckage of the train at a station in downtown Buenos Aires. He was later released from hospital and allowed to go free despite a police investigation into the accident, Argentina's third-worst train wreck. Mr. Cordoba says that his supervisors ignored his warnings and ordered him to continue his trip. Recordings between him and the dispatcher will be closely reviewed.

After 33 years, Yemen has a new president


Yemen's new president, Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi, was sworn in Saturday before the country's parliament, replacing Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for 33 years before leaving office in a power transfer deal aimed at ending over a year of political turmoil. Mr. Hadi, who was Mr. Saleh's vice-president, was formally inaugurated following a single-candidate presidential election earlier in the week. Mr. Saleh returned to Yemen early Saturday after spending about three weeks in the U.S. receiving treatment for injuries he suffered during a June rocket attack on his compound. He is the fourth Arab leader swept from power by the Arab Spring.

Clashes erupt in Jerusalem


The Israeli army says troops are clashing with Palestinian stone throwers in a Jerusalem suburb after the funeral of a Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in an earlier skirmish. An army spokesman says troops fired tear gas Saturday to disperse several dozen Palestinians hurling rocks and bottles at Israeli forces in the West Bank's al-Ram district on the edge of Jerusalem. The violence erupted after hundreds of mourners buried Talat Ramia, a 23-year-old Palestinian who was killed during a clash with Israeli forces Friday. Tensions have been rising in Jerusalem in recent days. The city is sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews and confrontations can quickly spiral out of control.

Clinton calls on Tunisia to deliver on reform


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging Tunisia to make good on the promise of reform offered by the Arab Spring. She says residents shouldn't abandon the democratic goals that sparked revolts throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In Tunisia, the catalyst for the tumult that engulfed the region last year, Mrs. Clinton told Tunisians that their continued embrace of reforms would serve as a powerful example elsewhere. Her comments on Saturday came amid concerns that democratic transitions in some post-revolt nations are faltering. Mrs. Clinton called on Tunisians to demand that their new leaders stay on the path of liberalization and openness. Tunisia was the first Arab nation to topple a long-time autocrat when its former president fled the country a year ago in the face of protests.

Two U.S. soldiers killed in attack on Afghan Interior Ministry


The United States is strongly condemning those who entered Afghanistan's interior ministry in Kabul on Saturday and killed two U.S. military officers serving with NATO. Access to the building was heavily restricted and there is speculation that those responsible were aided by a person working at the ministry. Afterwards U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta received a telephoned apology from Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. The two victims were working as advisors at the Ministry. NATO reacted by recalling all staff working at ministries in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, saying that it was in retaliation for the burning of copies of the Koran by U.S. soldiers at Bagram airfield earlier this month. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid identified the shooter as Abdul Rahman. He said an accomplice inside the ministry helped Rahman get inside the compound. The United States swiftly apologized for the Koran burning, saying that it was purely accidental. Thousands of angry Muslims took to the streets in protest. Twelve people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday, the bloodiest day of demonstrations so far.

 

Twelve die in attack in Nigeria


Police say that 12 people have been killed and five others wounded in an attack on a city in north-eastern Nigeria previously hit by a radical Islamist sect. Authorities said Saturday the attack targeted a police headquarters in the capital of Gombe state. Authorities repelled another attack at a prison service office. No arrests made and no on has claimed responsibility for the attack Friday night. However, a sect known as Boko Haram has assaulted the city before.

Uncertainty hits Senegal on eve of presidential vote


Senegal was gripped by uncertainty Saturday on the eve of its most troubled election since independence in which 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a controversial third term in office. No clear frontrunners have emerged out of 14 candidates after an election campaign marred by violent protests which left six dead and shook the west African nation long seen as a beacon of stability and democracy. The national elections commission has said it is ready for the election, however concerns remain over more than 450,000 voters cards which have not been collected by some of the nation's 5.3 million registered voters. After weeks of opposition protests against Wade's candidacy, the rapper-led youth movement "Fed Up" urged voters not to boycott the poll, but to go fetch their voters cards and vote massively against the incumbent.

Washington urges Burmese junta to keep on with reforms


The United States on Friday urged Burma, also known as Myanmar, to lift all conditions placed on recently released political prisoners as authorities planned a fresh trial of a leading dissident monk. The long-closed country won wide international praise last month for freeing hundreds of political prisoners. But rights campaigners say Myanmar did not release inmates unconditionally and instead suspended sentences under a section of the legal code that allows the president to put them back behind bars at his discretion. Myanmar state media reported that freed monk Gambira will face charges of squatting in a monastery and breaking into two others. Gambira, who goes by one name, was freed in January, cutting short a 68-year jail term imposed for his key role in 2007 mass protests known as the "Saffron Revolution," which were brutally crushed by the former junta. The monk remains out of prison but was detained by authorities for one day on February 10, also leading to US condemnation.

Polio in India is removed from WHO list


India has marked a major success in its battle against polio by being removed from the World Health Organization's list of countries plagued by the crippling disease. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad says the WHO removed India from the list Saturday after the country passed one year without registering any new cases. The milestone is a major victory in the global effort to eradicate polio and leaves only three countries with endemic polio -- Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. India must pass another two years without new cases to be declared polio-free. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised some 230,000 volunteers who travelled across India to vaccinate children and said India's success against polio "shows that teamwork pays."

Nelson Mandela admitted to hospital


Nelson Mandela has been admitted to hospital in South Africa with what officials will only say is a long-standing stomach ailment. The anti-apartheid icon is 93 years old. The government is asking that the former president's privacy be respected, while also promising to issue regular updates on his condition.


SPORTS


SKI CROSS

Canadian Tristan Tafel won the gold medal at a World Cup meet in Bischofswiesen, Germany, on Saturday. His compatriot, Christopher Del Bosco, won the bronze. American John Teller won the silver medal.

AERIAL SKIING

Canadian Olivier Rochon finished fourth at a freestyle aerials World Cup event in Raubichi, Belarus on Saturday. Rochon remains atop the leaderboard after eight of 10 events. Stanislav Kravchuk was first and his Ukrainian teammate Oleksandr Abramenko was second. Thomas Lambert of Switzerland was third.

HOCKEY

David Perron scored the winner in a shootout on Saturday as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Winnipeg Jets, 3-2.

DIVING

Canada's Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel won the silver medal in the three-metre synchronized event at a diving World Cup in London on Saturday. The event took place at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, the new diving venue built for the London Olympic Games later this year. China won the gold while Italy won bronze.

SKELETON

Canada's Melissa Hollingsworth captured a silver medal in the women's world skeleton competition in Lake Placid on Friday.

DOWNHILL SKIING

Canadian skier Jan Hudec finished second in a World Cup men's super-giant slalom event in Switzerland on Friday, the fifth straight race a member of the men's team has posted a podium finish.


CANADA WEATHER


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, February 26. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be five degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, minus three. Northwest Territories: variable cloudiness. Yellowknife, minus 18. Nunavut: sunny periods. Iqaluit, minus 18. Alberta: overcast. Edmonton, minus 13. Saskatchewan: light snow. Regina, minus 13. Manitoba: light snow. Winnipeg, minus eight. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: minus one. Ottawa, minus four. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, minus four. New Brunswick: variable cloudiness. Fredericton, minus two. Nova Scotia: snow flurries. Halifax, one. Prince Edward Island: snow flurries. Charlottetown, minus one. Newfoundland: snow flurries. St. John's, one.