Monday, February 27, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 26 February 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Speculation grows of early Quebec election
Speculation increased in Quebec on Sunday that Premier Jean Charest of the governing Liberal Party might call a Spring election. The leader of a new party, the Coalition for Quebec's Future, Francois Legault, announced six new party candidates who will primarily target ridings held by the Liberals in the Montreal area. Another party, Quebec solidaire, also announced 16 new candidates, adding that it hopes to field candidates in every riding. And at an afternoon news conference, the Parti Quebecois accused the Liberals of mishandling two major transportation projects. Recent public opinion polls show a three-way race between the PQ, Liberals and Coalition.

Train derailment kills three

Three passengers aboard a Via Rail train were killed on Sunday afternoon when the train derailed near Burlington, Ontario. The train carrying 75 passengers was travelling from Niagara Falls to Toronto when two cars came off the tracks near the Aldershot station. Crews were sent to pull some passengers from the wreckage. Some minor damage was caused to nearby buildings. Via Rail halted its passenger trains on the line. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

Canada taking precautions in Afghanistan
Canada has indefinitely suspended all diplomatic meetings in Afghan ministries as a precaution following a deadly attack on the interior ministry in Kabul on Saturday. Two U.S. military officers were killed. Foreign Affairs spokesman Yohan Rodericks says all Canadian staff are safe. NATO and the British government recalled their international advisers from Afghan ministries in the capital late Saturday. Afghan authorities say that they identified a suspect. A manhunt was underway to find him.

Consensus on euro debt crisis eludes Group of 20

Finance ministers of the Group of 20 concluded their weekend meeting in Mexico City largely in support of creating a bigger global rescue fund to stop the European Union's debt crisis from spreading. G20 delegates agreed that Germany's participation in the fund is essential to encourage others to put extra money into the International Monetary Fund's rescue package. Germany will make its decision concerning the fund next month. Britain's finance minister George Osborne said there would be no additional resources committed to the IMF until euro-zone countries bolstered their own efforts to stop the crisis. The G20 ministers hope that the fund will have enough money before the G20 meets at the end of April. Canada's finance minister, Jim Flaherty, said that the European Union needed first to rely on its own resources before requesting aid from non-European countries. Mr. Flaherty was reported to have suggested that the European Union debt firewall should amount to as much as one trillion euros. Others believed that the figure was closer to two trillion euros.

Robocalls will likely top Commons agenda on Monday

The leader of Canada's Official Opposition New Democratic Party is rejecting any suggestions that only one person is behind the so-called robocall scandal. Nycole Turmel says too many ridings are involved for it to be the work of one person. During the campaign for last May's federal election, some NDP and Liberal voters got automated phone calls directing them to the wrong polling stations. A staff member for an Ontario Tory MP reportedly resigned or was sacked over the growing scandal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected Liberal Leader Bob Rae's call for an emergency debate on the issue and denied any wrongdoing by his Conservatives. On Saturday, the Conservatives saidone of their MPs was also a victim. Dean Del Mastro, who won his Ontarioriding by nearly 15,000 votes, said his supporters were targeted by deceitful and, in some cases, abusive callers before the election. Mr. Del Mastro is Mr. Harper's parliamentary secretary. Ms. Turmel says the scandal has eroded Canadians' faith in the electoral process. The New Democrats and Liberals are pledging to grill the on the matter Monday in the House of Commons.

Meeting in Quebec City to discuss mining on the moon

Canada could play a key role in a new space race to the moon -- one that might be described as an extra-terrestrial gold rush. Industry insiders will be watching closely this week as the heads of the world's five biggest space agencies are meeting in Quebec City this week. The five partners on the International Space Station--Canada, the EU, Japan, Russia and the US--will discuss the future of the orbiting space lab. They are also expected to address what's becoming a hot topic -- mining on the moon. Iain Christie is the president of the Ottawa-based Neptec Design Group which is developing a lunar rover with special drills for excavating. He notes that Canada is leader in both mining and space exploration. As such, Mr. Christie believes it could become a leader in mining on the moon and beyond. Nearly one-quarter of the world's top mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Several, including China, have expressed a desire to start mining the moon's resources. Mr. Christie says his company`s work on a lunar rover is making a contribution to what Canada`s future space program might look like.


Countries taking precautionary steps in Afghanistan
Canada, France and Germany took steps on Sunday to protect their diplomats in Afghanistan. Both nations withdrew their experts and staff working at Afghan ministries. NATO and Britain took similar steps on Saturday. German Cooperation Minister Dirk Niebel called the move a reasonable precautionary measure. The Netherlands also temporarily halted training activities of Afghan police by its 545 personnel. Security of foreign nationals was put into question on Saturday after a gunman entered the interior ministry in Kabul and killed two U.S. military officers. Afghan authorities identified a suspect and began a manhunt.

Syrians vote in referendum

Syrians on Sunday voted on a new draft constitution. Eligible voters cast ballots on whether they approve or reject the recently drafted constitution that supposedly ends the ruling Baath party's domination of politics since 1963. Most Syrian opposition groupsboycotted the vote, saying they will accept nothing less than President Bashar al-Assad abandoning power. The opposition Syrian National Council, extended a hand to Mr. al-Assad's Alawite community, warning that the regime was attempting to "drive a wedge" between religious groups, assuring the minority group they will always be an "important component of Syria."

Violence continues in Syria

A London-based human rights group says Syrian regime forces killed 16 civilians in clashes and shelling across the country Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad also died. The organization says nine civilians and four soldiers were killed in clashes between loyalist troops and rebels in the centre of the flashpoint central city of Homs. The deadly exchanges erupted in the Hamideyeh neighbourhood as Syrians were called on to vote on a new constitution. It said shelling of a number of rebel areas of Homs killed another three civilians. The Observatory said 98 people were killed, 72 of them civilians, were killed on Saturday. At least 7,000 people have died since the uprising began last March.

More sectarian violence erupts in Nigeria

The radical Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Sunday for an attack on a church in Jos that killed three people. The attack took place during the Church of Christ in Nigeria's early service, which is packed with worshippers. The car bomber died in the attack, and others were wounded. Afterwards, Christian youths rioted, killing at least three people. Jos has seen hundreds died in ethnic and religious violence in recent years.

Anti-Putin protesters form human ring around central Moscow
Thousands of Russians linked hands around Moscow on Sunday in a protest against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's expected return to the Kremlin as president in elections next weekend. There was an endless honking of horns on Moscow's 16-kilometre Garden Ring Road as drivers expressed support for the human chain of smiling and waving people who gathered in freezing snowy weather. Police estimated the protesters at 11,000. Organizers said 30,000 took part. Pedestrians of all ages joined hands and raised their linked arms in celebration.They formed a circular chain aimed at enclosing all of inner Moscow in scenes not witnessed since the days of the Soviet collapse. Smaller anti-Putin demonstrations were reported in the Siberian cities of Tomsk and Kemerovo and parts of the Ural Mountains region. On Saturday, Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny led thousands through the streets of Mr. Putin's native city of St. Petersburg. The latest polls and forecasts show Mr. Putin winning in the March 4 first round ballot with around 10 percentage points fewer than the 71 percent he secured on his re-election to a second term in 2004.

More violence in Yemen

Government shelling has killed five al-Qaida-linked militants in a southern Yemen, while one soldier has died in a landmine explosion in the same area. Officials say the bombardment in Zinjibar started on Saturday night and continued through early Sunday. During the past year of turmoil in Yemen, al-Qaida-linked militants seized control of parts of the south including Zinjibar. Government operations have failed to oust them. On Saturday, a car bomb killed at least 25 people in the south, hours after the country's new president, Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi, was formally inaugurated.

Mandela released from hospital

Nelson Mandela was given a clean bill of health and left hospital Sunday after a minor diagnostic procedure. Mr. Mandela was hospitalised Saturday for a operation to investigate persistent abdominal discomfort, raising alarms about the man revered as the symbol of South Africa's post-apartheid reconciliation. Presidency spokesman Harold Maloka said Mr. Mandela, 93, was recovering at home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. Mr. Mandela underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy, a procedure in which doctors make small incisions in the abdomen to probe it with a tiny camera.

Colombian rebels to release last captives
The main rebel group in Colombia says that it will release the last of its government captives. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC says that only ten people remain in their control. The government puts the number at 12. The freeing of the last captives could help to advance negotiations to end Colombia's long civil conflict. But FARC declined to say that it was ending hostilities. FARC was founded in 1964.

Chinese flood Obama Internet site

Chinese are flooding a Web page of U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election campaign on Google's social media service with comments, after China seemingly lifted long-standing blocks. The comments began trickling in early last week when Chinese Internet surfers noticed that Google's Plus service was widely accessible and have become a torrent in the last few days. Most of the comments seem purely for fun, though many are overtly political. Some urge the U.S. to come liberate China. Others call for the release of dissidents. Some ask for green cards. The Internet offers the liveliest platform for communication in China, but the government routinely blocks overseas sites deemed subversive and social media services like Facebook and Twitter. Google Plus, the US Internet giant's social networking site, has been unavailable in China since it was launched last year, apparently blocked by the nation's strict censorship system, dubbed "the Great Firewall of China."

Tense election in Senegal
Senegalesecast ballots on Sunday in a tense election that threatens the country's reputation as one of the oldest democracies in Africa.Senegal has been rocked by protests following the decision of its 85-year-old leader to seek a third term. In doing so, President Abdoulaye Wade is violating the term limits he himself introduced into the constitution. He argues the restriction should not apply to him, since he was elected under an earlier constitution which did not have term limits. For days before the vote, the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, shuttled between the president and the 13 opposition candidates in an effort to find a solution. His proposal suggesting that Mr. Wade should stay for two more years was rejected by the opposition.

Demolition of bin Laden's house continues

Pakistan is more than halfway done demolishing the three-story compound where Osama bin Laden lived for years and was killed by U.S. commandos last May. Reporters could see heavy machines continuing their work for a second day Sunday in the northwest town of Abbottabad. The backhoes have torn down the tall walls ringing the compound and more than half the main building where the al-Qaida chief lived. Security has been tight, with rings of police and army soldiers to keep out spectators and journalists. Pakistan began to raze the compound Saturday night without giving prior notice. Pakistan was outraged and embarrassed by the U.S. raid because it didn't know about it beforehand and couldn't stop it.

Record set for world's shortest person

A 72-year-old Nepalese man has been declared the world's shortest person. A doctor and Guinness World Records official measured Chandra Bahadur Dangi to confirm his height of 54.6 centimetres (21.5 inches). On Sunday, Guinness presented Mr. Dangi with two certificates for being the world's shortest living man and the world's shortest person ever recorded in Guinness' 57-year history. Mr. Dangi lives in a remote mountain village in Nepal and says he now wants to travel across the country and abroad. The previous shortest man was Junrey Balawing of the Philippines, who is 60 centimetres (23.5 inches) tall.



Saturday's results: Boston defeated Ottawa 5-3, Washington defeated Toronto 4-2, St. Louis defeated Winnipeg 3-2 in the shootout and Philadelphia defeated Calgary 5-4 in the shootout.

Canadian Daniel Nestor and his partner, Max Mirnyi of Belarus, beat Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil to win the doubles event at a ATP tournament in Memphis, Tennessee on Sunday. In the men's singles final, Juergen Meltzer of Austria beat Canadian Milos Raonic in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6.

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.

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.

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.


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, February 27. British Columbia will be sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver will be four degrees Celsius. The Yukon: mainly cloudy. Whitehorse, one. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, minus 15. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 31. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, minus 16. Saskatchewan: sunny periods. Regina, minus nine. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, minus 12. Ontario: cloudy. Toronto: six. Ottawa, minus two. Quebec: snow. Montreal, minus two. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, minus four. Nova Scotia: sunny. Halifax, minus two. Prince Edward Island: mainly sunny. Charlottetown, minus nine. Newfoundland: snow flurries. St. John's, minus two.

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