Tuesday, February 7, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Energy tops agenda for PM in China
Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew to China Monday, and

in addition to a political entourage, he's bringing along a

who's-who of Canada's energy sector.

Mr. Harper is travelling with the presidents of several oil and gas

companies, including those involved in major pipeline projects.

One of those projects, the Northern Gateway, is considered key

to helping Canada export more oil to China.

But it's not just the energy business fuelling Mr. Harper's four-day visit.

He's also bringing along leadership from the agricultural,

transportation and education sectors, hoping to beef up Canada-China

relations in those fields.

Canada to keep envoy in Damascus
The official Opposition wants Canada's ambassador recalled from Syria, but the government says he will stay in the besieged country to blast President Bashar Assad for his attacks on domestic dissenters. NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdière urged the government to recall the envoy because she said it would send a strong message to Assad, who has waged a bloody 11-month crackdown on dissent in his country that has left thousands dead. The Obama administration closed the U.S. embassy in Damascus on Monday and recalled all diplomatic staff. A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird indicated Monday that Canada had no plans to further draw down its

diplomatic staff after calling home several diplomats last week. Last week, the government closed the visa and immigration sections of the Damascus mission. The diplomatic moves follow a veto by Russia and China that killed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime. Mrs. Laverdière also urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to raise the matter with his hosts in China, given its veto over the weekend.

Canada backs Israel against Iran
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, has expressed his support for Israel's right to defend itself against Iranian threats. Mr. Baird says Israel is right to feel threatened following recent comments by Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Ayatollah vowed to remove what he called a cancer in the Middle East, and offered Iran's help to nations or groups that are prepared to challenge Israel. In recent weeks, U.S. diplomats have speculated that Israel is considering an air strike on Iranian nuclear installations that are suspected of developing nuclear weapons. Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, has called Iran a threat to peace and security.

Eastern premiers trying to drum up business in U.S.
The premiers of Canada's four Atlantic Provinces travelled to the U.S. state of Georgia Monday to boost trade. David Alward of New Brunswick, Darrell Dexter of Nova Scotia, Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador and Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island are accompanied by more than 20 business leaders for the three-day trip. They want new business in such areas as aerospace, defence, information technology, and the oceans sectors.

Canada launches festivities for sovereign
Canada kicked off four months of festivities celebrating

the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Monday, and royal watchers predict the

Canadian celebrations will be among the most enthusiastic in the

world. Monday marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen's ascension to the

British throne, which took place automatically with the death of her

father King George.

Ottawa mulls higher retirement age
The Canadian government is trying to find the best way to bring in a higher qualifying age for Old Age Security benefits. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says Canada is one of the few countries in the 34-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that has not raised the retirement age. The government is considering raising it from 65 to 67. The opposition New Democratic Party has been highly critical of any such development.


Syria slaughter rages on
Syrian activists report that at least 34 civilians were killed across Syria on Monday and scores were injured as regime troops pounded the city of Homs with mortars and launched an assault on Zabadani, near the capital. State media said three soldiers were also killed by what it said was an "armed terrorist gang" in the northwest province of Idlib. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 24 civilians were killed in the central city of Homs, but added that the death toll was likely to rise because many of the wounded had suffered critical injuries. Elsewhere, two civilians, including a child, were killed when their car came under fire from security forces at Sarghaya, near Damascus.

Palestinians reach accommodation
After months of wavering, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took a decisive step Monday toward reconciliation with the Islamic militant group Hamas, a move Israel promptly warned would close the door to any future peace talks. In a deal brokered by Qatar, Abbas will head an interim unity government to prepare for general elections in the Palestinian territories in the coming months. The agreement appeared to bring reconciliation, key to any statehood ambitions, within reach for the first time since the two sides set up rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007. Monday's deal, signed in the Qatari capital of Doha by Mr. Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, put an end to recent efforts by the international community to revive long-stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on the terms of Palestinian statehood. Mr. Abbas appears to have concluded that he has a better chance of repairing relations with Hamas, shunned by the West as a terror group, than reaching an agreement with Israel's hardline prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu quickly condemned the Doha deal.

Sudan currency plunges
Sudan's currency fell to a record low on the black market on Monday as people rushed to convert their savings into dollars, fearing a dispute with South Sudan over oil revenues could worsen the country's economic crisis. Sudan's economy was thrown into turmoil when South Sudan declared independence in July under a 2005 peace deal, taking with it three-quarters of the oil production, the lifeline of both economies. The landlocked South needs to export its crude through northern pipelines but both sides have failed to agree on a transit fee. Last week, Juba shut down its oil output to protest against Khartoum seizing some of its oil. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir warned on Friday tensions could lead to war.

Mexico has female presidential candidate
Mexico's governing conservative party on Sunday chose Josefina Vazquez Mota, a 51-year-old economist and former minister, as its candidate for presidential elections on July 1. Mrs. Vazquez Mota was elected late Sunday with 55 percent of votes from National Action Party (PAN) members, with 86.7 percent of votes counted, meaning she had a large enough lead to avoid a second round run-off. She is the first female to stand for president from one of the three main parties. The former lawmaker and ex-minister of both education and social development is seeking to take over from President Felipe Calderon, who can only serve one six-year term under the constitution.

Norwegian killer wants medal
The right-wing extremist who has admitted killing 77 people in the worst peacetime massacre that Norway has ever seen told a court Monday that he deserves a medal of honour for the bloodshed and demanded to be set free. Anders Behring Breivik smirked as he was led in to the Oslo district court, handcuffed and dressed in a dark suit, for his last scheduled detention hearing before the trial starts in April. The 32-year-old Norwegian told the court that the July 22 massacre, carried out with a bomb, a rifle and a handgun, was a strike against "traitors" he said are embracing immigration to promote "an Islamic colonization of Norway." Mr. Breivik admitted to setting off the bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo and opening fire at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya island, outside the capital, but denied criminal responsibility.


Norwegian mass murderer wants medal
The right-wing extremist who has admitted killing 77 people in the worst peacetime massacre that Norway has ever seen told a court Monday that he deserves a medal of honour for the bloodshed and demanded to be set free. Anders Behring Breivik smirked as he was led in to the Oslo district court, handcuffed and dressed in a dark suit, for his last scheduled detention hearing before the trial starts in April. The 32-year-old Norwegian told the court that the July 22 massacre, carried out with a bomb, a rifle and a handgun, was a strike against "traitors" he said are embracing immigration to promote "an Islamic colonization of Norway." Mr. Breivik admitted to setting off the bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo and opening fire at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya island, outside the capital, but denied criminal responsibility.

Markets


Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 12,600 + 17. Canadian dollar: US1.00. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $97.14 - .70.

 

Ontario blames Ottawa for plant closing

Sports


HOCKEY

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is taking part in full practices with his teammates again. However, there is still no timeframe for his return. Crosby has missed most of the National Hockey League season with a concussion and neck injury. He took part in every drill with his teammates today in Montreal. Crosby says the last week has been good but he is still not symptom-free.


Weather
British Columbia on Tuesday: sun, high C7 Vancouver. Yukon: snow. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse -6, Yellowknife -14, Iqaluit -23. Prairies: sun. Edmonton 0, Regina -5, Winnipeg -6. Ontario: snow south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto -1, Ottawa -8, Montreal -5. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton -2, Halifax 3, Charlottetown -5, St. John's 0.