Friday, February 10, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Canada urges Russia to end arms shipments to Syria
Canada is pressuring Russia to stop sending weapons to Syria. The request was made in a protest note sent to the Canadian Embassy in Moscow and delivered to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is annoyed with a veto used by Russia and China last Saturday at the United Nations Security Council. It killed a resolution that would have condemned the Assad régime for the crackdown on opposition. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says outside forces should let Syrians settle their own conflict independently. The UN estimates 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since last March, when Mr. Assad began to repress Syrians demanding democracy.

Canadian consulates in U.S. could shut
Some Canadian consulates in the United States could be closed, as Canada's government continues to seek ways to reduce spending. As many as eight consulates might be shut down. The consulates offer walk-in service for people seeking passports, visas or diplomatic help.The cost of Canada's diplomatic and trade offices in the Unites States this year will be about $90 million. A decision on the future of the consular offices will be made after Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brings down his budget expected sometime in the next few weeks.

East-west economic gap seen growing
An analysis of long-term trends suggests that Canada's East-West economic divide will only deepen in the next 10 years.

Toronto Dominion Bank economists project the next decade will see a continuation of economic power gravitating West, in large part because of the migration of labour to resource-rich Alberta and Saskatchewan. In effect, this is a continuation of a trend that's been going on for some time. But the analysis suggests that the economic divide will deepen, with the spread between have and have-not provinces increasing. That's a reversal of the convergence in economic performance that had been under way since 1990. TD says Alberta will lead average growth at 2.5 per cent, while Quebec and the four Atlantic provinces trail at less than 1.5 per cent.

Ottawa wants to sell nuclear labs
The Canadian government says it is seeking private sector proposals to oversee nuclear research laboratories and radioactive waste disposal at a state-owned atomic energy firm, in a bid to save money. The move follows the sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's sales and servicing division to SNC-Lavalin, the country's largest engineering company, for only $15 million last year. Ottawa had been looking to sell AECL after sinking $2.5 billion dollars into its failed research and development, and support for its commercial sales since 2006. The prospects for the nuclear power industry plunged worldwide after Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant was crippled by meltdowns and explosions caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March last year. Canada's Resources Minister Joe Oliver says that putting the job of overseeing the laboratories and atomic waste management out to tender would reduce "taxpayers' exposure to commercial risks in the nuclear sector." AECL's nuclear laboratories include two main sites: Chalk River Laboratories northwest of Ottawa and Whiteshell Laboratories in Pinawa, MB.

Canadian guilty of helping Tamil Tigers
A Canadian man in a New York court has admitted attempting to buy sophisticated technology for the now-defeated Tamil Tiger insurgents in Sri Lanka. Prosecutors say Ramanan Mylvaganam sought to obtain about $22,000 worth of submarine design software and night vision equipment for the separatist group. The Tamil Tigers are designated by both Canada and the U.S. as a terrorist organization. The Canadian pleaded guilty in a federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Five of his co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in connection with their support for the Tamil Tigers.


Assault against Syrian city continues
Syrian activists report that Syrian forces fired mortars and rockets that killed scores of people Thursday in the rebellious city of Homs. It's the latest strike in a weeklong assault as President Bashar Assad's regime tries to crush increasingly militarized pockets of dissent. During lulls in the onslaught, Syrians used loudspeakers to call for blood donations and medical supplies. As the violence grinds on, the international community is searching for new diplomatic approaches to stop the protracted bloodshed in Syria. The régime's crackdown on dissent has left it almost completely isolated internationally, but Mr. Assad is receiving political backing from Russia and China, which delivered a double veto over the weekend that blocked a UN resolution calling on him to leave power. A senior Arab League official said Thursday that the Cairo-based organization will discuss at a meeting Sunday whether to recognize the opposition Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of Syria and whether to allow it to open offices in Arab capitals.

Greece trumpets deal with partners
Greece says it has struck a deal with its bailout creditors on adopting harsh new austerity measures needed to avoid a

disastrous bankruptcy. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' office says negotiations with representatives of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been successfully concluded. A statement from Papademos' office Thursday said leaders of the parties in the coalition government have accepted the result of talks with the three organizations. It says that there is "a general agreement on the content" of Greece's new financing program, worth $172 billion, without which the country would be forced to default on its bond payments next month.

South Sudan would build pipeline to Djibouti
South Sudan's Minister for Information, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, says South Sudan has signed a agreement to build an oil pipeline to the port of Djibouti via neighbouring Ethiopia. South Sudan shut its only export route via former foe Sudan amid a deepening row with Khartoum over pipeline fees. The minister says a memorandum of understanding was signed during talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa earlier this month, and Chinese, American and European companies had shown interest in carrying out feasibility studies for its construction, he said. Industry experts have said that building a pipeline could take three years or more and be extremely costly to complete. Djibouti, on the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea, lies at least 1,000 kilometres from South Sudan's oil fields, and crosses remote areas rife with rebel forces. But a pipeline would free land-locked South Sudan on its dependence of exporting oil through its northern nieghbour.

Jailed Ukrainian politician said in 'horrendous' pain
The daughter of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday accused prison authorities of

subjecting her mother to "horrendous" pain by denying her painkillers. Mrs. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year term on charges of abuse of office after a trial that the West has condemned as being politically motivated. She has been bedridden at a prison in eastern Ukraine, complaining of severe back pain and accusing authorities of denying her proper medical care. Eugenia Tymoshenko told reporters Thursday that her mother has been deprived of painkillers for several days. She claims that prison doctors are mistreating and misdiagnosing her mother, who will be examined by Canadian and German doctors next week. Mrs. Tymoshenko, who was convicted in October, accuses President Viktor Yanukovych of orchestrating the charges to get rid of a rival.

Russian leader demands tycoons cough up
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday suggested that all tycoons who made fortunes in the controversial privatisation deals of the 1990s pay a one-time fee to the state. Mr. Putin's proposal came as the prime minister seeks support for his return to the Kremlin in March 4 presidential polls. Russia's oligarchs are despised by many voters since making fortunes in tightly-arranged selloffs of Soviet-era mines and energy deposits that made billionaires out of a select group of Kremlin insiders.

Cuban activists reported still being round up
A Cuban rights group says some 631 Cubans were subjected to "arbitrary" detentions last month in the communist-ruled island, nearly a quarter of them after the death of a political prisoner. The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said the detentions reflect a rising trend of police violence toward dissidents. The commission "registered at least 631 arbitrary detentions for political motives. Almost all of them lasted for hours or days...the existing patterns of political repression continue to apply but with a clear trend, at least for the whole of 2011, of rising, unprovoked police violence against dissidents who have tried to meet or protest in a peaceful manner," the commission said. The commission noted that three political prisoners, Ivonne Malleza, Isabel Alvarez e Ignacio Martinez, were released in January "a few hours after an announcement that they had been adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International." It also expressed regret that the government had taken "no visible steps" to shed light on the death Jan. 19 of Wilman Villar. The commission said it continues to insist he died after a 50-day hunger strike in state custody. The government of President Raul Castro has denied Villar was on hunger strike or a dissident, claiming he joined "counter-revolutionary" groups after it was clear he would be tried and convicted for beating his wife.

Polish Novel laureate laid to rest
A funeral held for Nobel-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska drew more than 1,000 people to a snowy cemetery on Thursday, and Poland's president, Bronislaw Komorowski praised her for producing verse that allowed readers to see the "tiniest particles of beauty" in everyday life. Mrs. Szymborska, one of Poland's most acclaimed writers in recent decades, died last week of lung cancer at the age of 88. Freezing temperatures and falling snow at the Rakowicki Cemetery in the southern city of Krakow, where she lived, did not discourage the mourners, including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, writers and actors, from attending the ceremony.

U.S. state department rules on Keystone allegations
An internal watchdog on Thursday cleared the U.S. State Department of allegations that there were conflicts of interest between a contractor hired to review the Keystone XL oil pipeline and TransCanada. The Canadian firm is the developer of the $7 billion project. Lawmakers concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline, which President Barack Obama has put on ice for further environmental study, had requested the State Department's Inspector General take a closer look at the players involved in reviewing the project. In a 58-page report, he says he found the department "did not violate its role as an unbiased oversight agency" in reviewing the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. Mr. Obama blocked the project last month, citing the need for further review of its route as the line would have traversed sensitive lands and an aquifer in Nebraska. The absolution of alleged conflicts clears the way for Republican efforts to speed approval for the pipeline. Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives have introduced legislation to try to fast-track the stalled project, which has become a prominent issue ahead of the 2012 elections.

High court rules on Internet case
The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an appeal that sought to label Internet service providers as broadcasters.

The court sided unanimously with a Federal Court of Appeal ruling which said the service providers are not subject to the Broadcasting Act. The justices said these companies are simply providing access to the Internet and aren't involved in creating or choosing content that people see online. If, however, ISPs stopped being neutral transmitters of

information and began selecting what was sent, they could risk falling under broadcasting regulations. The CRTC referred the question to the courts in 2008. Several groups representing actors, producers, directors and writers had argued that ISPs should be required to contribute to Canadian broadcasting just as cable and satellite companies do.

Markets
Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 12,498 - 23. Canadian dollar: US1.01. Euro: $1.32. Oil: $99.74 + $1.03.


Sports
HOCKEY

The next Winter Classic will see the National Hockey League create two outdoor rinks. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings are scheduled to face off at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1, 2013. The NHL announced Thursday that the rest of the event will be based out of Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says at least 150,000 fans will take in games at Comerica Park. The baseball stadium will host an alumni game as well as games featuring teams from the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey

League and NCAA. The league is expecting a world-record crowd of more than 115,000 for the Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings at Michigan Stadium.

HOCKEY

A new report released by the Conference Board of Canada says the country could support up to nine NHL teams. Quebec City and Hamilton are the most suitable cities for the league to look at for expansion, according to the report.

The Conference Board of Canada used as criteria analysis population size, market wealth, corporate presence and

the level playing field created by a Canadian dollar that is at par with its U.S. counterpart. There are currently seven Canadian teams in the NHL.


Weather
British Columbia on Friday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon: snow. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse 1, Yellowknife -17, Iqaluit -29. Alberta: sun north, snow south. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton -11, Regina -17, Winnipeg -19. Ontario: sun north, snow south. Quebec: snow. Toronto 2, Ottawa -2. Montreal 0. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton 1, Halifax 2, Charlottetown 0, St. John's 3.