Friday, February 3, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Canadian leader told to raise rights issue in China
Amnesty International Canada says China's hunger for natural resources gives Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper the leverage he needs to publicly raise the issue of human rights with his Communist hosts next week. The organization wants the prime minister to speak out about the deteriorating rights situation in China. Amnesty head Alex Neve says Canada no longer needs to be reluctant about questioning China about jailed dissidents and the continuing crackdown on Tibet because it won't hurt trade. Mr. Harper travels to China next week at a time when Communist leaders have stepped up pressure on dissidents and are taking a hard line on Tibet.

Finance minister frets over pensions
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he considers it imperative that the government restrain the growth of public pensions. The minister says the costs of Old Age Security will start pinching government books in the longer term, so something must be done.

Mr. Flaherty has made clear that the upcoming budget will include changes to the OAS program that pays about $500 a month on average

to lower-income Canadians upon turning 65. But he would not say whether he will announce a review of the programs or specific changes to OAS. He reiterates that any measures in the expected March budget will not impact anyone currently receiving OAS or about to start

receiving the benefits.

Ontario premier sticks to deficit forecast
Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty is disputing a Conference Board of Canada prediction his province will be unable to balance its budget for a decade as economic growth slows and government revenues drop. The Ottawa-based economic think-tank said Thursday its analysis suggests Ontario will need to rein in health-care cost increases if it wants to balance the books by 2022, because potential sustainable economic growth for Ontario is dropping to 1.9 per cent a year. The Ontario government has said it plans to eliminate its annual fiscal deficit, projected to hit $16 billion this year, by 2017-18, based on program spending growth of 1.7 per cent per year over the next seven years. Mr. McGuinty says the Liberals are still on track. "I can tell you now we will balance our budget by 2017, and we

will not raise taxes," the premier said. But the Conference Board says even with planned spending cuts,

meeting fiscal targets will be delayed due to slower projected revenue growth.

Ontario cops in huge kiddie porn raid
Police from across Ontario have rounded up 60 male suspects and laid 213 charges in a child pornography sweep

being described as one of the largest in the province's history. Acting Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Scott Tod says officers from 24 forces arrested men and teenagers of all walks of life, including a child care worker.

Det.-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt says 22 victims were identified during the probe, and more arrests are expected.

The suspects are facing charges that include Internet child luring, possession, accessing and making child pornography. From August 2006 to Feb. 1, 2012 in Ontario, there have been 16,131 child porn investigations resulting in 5,837 charges against 1,867 people.

Halifax commuters have tough day
Thousands of people who use buses and ferries in Halifax had to find other ways of getting around on Thursday after

transit workers hit the picket lines following failed talks with the city. Ken Wilson of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 said the city's bargaining team called union negotiators back to the table around midnight with an offer.

But Wilson said municipal officials weren't interested in bargaining on about 70 outstanding issues. The transit system in the city was last shut down by a strike in 1998. The city says about 96,000 people use the transit service everyday.

Beaten Canadian tourist recuperating
The husband of a Calgary woman severely beaten in Mexico says his wife is slowly recovering after extensive facial

reconstruction surgery. It was Andrew Nabb's first comment since his wife, Sheila, was found lying in a pool of blood in the elevator of a resort in Mazatlan. He says the past few weeks have been difficult for Sheila and the

family and he is grateful for the support it has received from coast-to-coast. He says the reconstruction surgery was a success, but his wife faces a long road to recovery. She remains sedated in intensive care, but has been responsive and is showing small improvements every day. Authorities have charged a Mexican man, Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, with attempted murder.

Senate weighs crime bill
Canada's Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, has begun Senate committee hearings in Ottawa on the government's massive new crime bill that passed the House of Commons late last year. Mr. Nicholson told the hearing on Wednesday that Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes and violent criminals need to be off the streets. The legislation creates new mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and child sex crimes. It also toughens the treatment of young offenders. But critics say the cost of increased imprisonment will be expensive, while rehabilitation and reintegration of convicts is ignored. Meanwhile, the northern territory of Nunavut's justice minister has delivered a stinging rebuke to the Conservative government's massive new crime bill. Daniel Shewchuk told a Senate committee that new mandatory minimum sentences will overburden the territory's courts and corrections system and run counter to Criminal Code provisions on the treatment of aboriginal offenders.

Egyptians blame authorities police for deadly riot
Egyptian police fired tear gas Thursday at thousands of demonstrators outside the Interior Ministry protesting the security forces' failure to prevent a soccer riot that killed more than 70 people. Anger has been building as the public and lawmakers blamed the country's military rulers for the bloodshed, the latest to signal rapidly deteriorating security in the country since Hosni Mubarak's fall nearly a year ago. The protests started as a peaceful march by Egyptians angry over the police inaction from the headquarters of Al-Ahly, one of Egypt's most popular soccer clubs, to the area outside the ministry building near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of last year's popular uprising that ousted Mubarak. Security forces guarding the area were separated from the more

than 10,000 protesters by concrete blocs and barbed wire, but

tensions rose as protesters advanced toward them, cursing and

removing some of the barriers.

Israel still worried about Iran threat
Israel's defence minister says there is growing international awareness that military action against Iran's nuclear program will have to be considered. Ehud Barak told a security conference on Thursday that he senses a change in international thinking. He says world leaders are increasingly realizing that if sanctions don't stop Iran's nuclear program, "there will be a need to consider action." Israel, like the West, believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Israel has been a leading voice in calls to curb the Iranian program. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful. Israel has repeatedly hinted it is ready to attack Iran, saying that while it prefers a diplomatic solution, "all options are on

the table."

Europeans agree on new Greece rescue
Euro zone finance ministers aim to agree a second financing package for Greece on Monday, a decision they hope will boost market confidence in euro zone public finances and help contain the two-year-old national debt crisis. A deal for Greece would include agreement on official new financing, the size of voluntary losses banks and other private bondholders are willing to accept and new reforms Athens must undertake. This would end months of uncertainty over private sector losses on Greek bonds and over the sustainability of the country's debt, now at 160 percent of GDP, which have increased costs of borrowing in many other euro zone countries.

France investigating cruise ship disaster
The Paris prosecutor has opened a preliminary

investigation into the grounding off the Italian coast of the Costa

Concordia cruise ship that killed at least 17 people.

The prosecutor's office said Thursday it has asked police to

investigate claims filed in France. The Ministry of Justice had

already asked the Paris office to handle all of the complaints,

regardless of where they were originally filed.

More than 450 French citizens were aboard the Concordia when it

ran aground Jan. 13 off the Tuscan island of Giglio after the

captain deviated from his planned route and struck a reef. The

captain risks being charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck

and abandoning the ship before all those aboard were evacuated.

Top terrorist eliminated in Philippines
The Philippine military says it killed Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorist and two other senior militants Thursday in a U.S.-backed airstrike marking one of the region's biggest anti-terrorism successes in recent years. The dawn strike targeting a militant camp on a southern Philippine island killed Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as

Marwan, a top leader of the regional, al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network. The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a U.S.-trained engineer accused of involvement in a number of deadly bombings in the Philippines and in training new militants. A U.S. official confirmed Thursday that the Pentagon had assisted in the strike.

Pakistani leader to be charged in long-running corruption case
Pakistan's Supreme Court vowed Thursday to charge the prime minister with contempt for his failure to reopen an

old corruption case against the president, worsening up a destabilizing political crisis just as Washington seeks to rebuild a troubled anti-terror alliance with the country. If convicted, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani could face six

months in prison and the loss of his job. Mr. Gilani told parliament Thursday that he will honour a summons to

appear before the court on Feb. 13, when he is scheduled to be charged. The announcement was a major escalation in a case that has dogged the democratically elected government since 2009, when the Supreme

Court ordered it write to Swiss authorities requesting they reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari that dates to the late 1990s. The government has refused, claiming the president enjoys

immunity from prosecution while in office.

South Sudan in serious humanitarian straits
A top UN official says South Sudan may need more than the $760 million the agency predicted they would need to cope with the new country's myriad humanitarian crises. UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos visited South Sudan Thursday to tour humanitarian efforts in volatile Jonglei state, where the world body estimates that 120,000 people have been affected by ethnic clashes. She says an ongoing oil dispute between Sudan and South Sudan will only make matters worse after South Sudan recently stopped oil production. South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July and is struggling to

contain internal violence that has plagued the region for years.

WestJet's subsidiary to be independent
CEO Gregg Saretsky said Thursday that the new short-haul carrier WestJet Airlines Ltd. is considering would operate separately from the main airline, but help draw more traffic into its network, He says the move would benefit the main network, as it would draw more passengers from smaller destinations into major hubs, such as Calgary. The Calgary-based company announced last month it is

considering a regional carrier that would give it a presence in smaller markets where competitor Air Canada is currently the only game in town. Air Canada Jazz provides regional flights across the country for the Montreal carrier under a contract with Jazz Aviation LP, a former Air Canada company now owned by Halifax-based Chorus Aviation.

Canadian pipeline project in U.S. said still alive
Alberta's trade envoy to Washington says there is still hope for the proposed $7-billion Keystone XL oilsands pipeline. But Dave Bronconnier says the fate of the stalled project won't change until after the November U.S. federal elections. Speaking on a radio show, the former Calgary mayor said Americans remain divided over the plan to ship oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Mr. Bronconnier says he continues to sell the point that the pipeline would provide the U.S. with a secure supply of oil and spur its

economy and create needed jobs. But he says there are still lots of people who fear the pipeline would cause environmental harm and want the U.S. to wean itself off fossil fuels.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 12,553, + 36. Canadian dollar: US100. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $96.60 - $1.01.


Vancouver Canucks centre Cody Hodgson has been named the National Hockey League's rookie of the month for January.

The 21-year-old led all rookies in scoring with 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 11 games.


Wednesday was an historic night for Steve Nash of Victoria, BC. The Phoenix point guard had a season-high 30 points and 10 assists to help the Suns defeat the New Orleans Hornets, 120-103. Nash became the Suns' all-time assists leader with 6,522, surpassing Kevin Johnson's mark of 6,518.

British Columbia on Friday: mix sun cloud. high C7 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse 6, Yellowknife 0, Iqaluit -20. Alberta, Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: snow. Edmonton 4, Regina -2, Winnipeg 0. Ontario: mix sun cloud. Quebec: snow. Toronto 4, Ottawa -1, Montreal -4. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: mix sun cloud. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton, Charlottetown -6, Halifax, St. John's -5.