Friday, March 2, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 1 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Tories deny guilt in robocall scandal
Canada's governing Conservative Party says it doesn't use U.S.-based call services to get out the vote. It says that means it can't be behind allegations of harassing phone calls originating from American area codes during the last campaign. A growing number of Canadians are reporting receiving strange calls, some from American numbers, during the May election that either misled them about polling stations or came at odd hours. The party
says the onus is on the opposition Liberals to prove the calls aren't connected to the dozens of contracts that party has with its own calling firms. At least one of those firms, First Contact, is believed to use software that could produce calls coming from American numbers. The owner of First Contact wouldn't say whether his firm uses such technology but he says his workers were not involved in misleading or harassing calls.

Crashed train was speeding
Canada's Transportation Safety Board says that a passenger train that derailed while switching tracks, killing three engineers and injuring 45 passengers, was travelling more than four times the maximum authorized speed. The Board
says the train was travelling at almost 108 kilometres an hour when it derailed west of Toronto on Sunday. The speed limit while changing tracks at that particular switch is 24 kilometres an hour. The Board also says the train's black box also shows the brakes were not applied before the crash.

Canadian trade balance remains unbalanced

Canada's trade balance with the rest of the world improved slightly in the latter part of 2011, but remains in a significant deficit for the third straight year. Statistics Canada said Thursday that the country's net income position improved to a deficit of $48.3 billion in 2011. That remains not far off the record $50.9-billion shortfall set in 2010. After about a decade of surpluses, 2011 was the third consecutive year of large shortfalls and analysts don't expect a return to the positive side of the ledger any time soon.

Privacy watchdog dubious about anti-laundering changes
Canada's privacy watchdog says the government is trying to expand Canada's anti-money laundering system without proof the new powers are actually needed. Jennifer Stoddart has told a Senate committee that Canada already
has an expensive, secretive and intrusive regime for detecting dubious transactions. But she says there is no conclusive evidence of its effectiveness. Currently the federal anti-money laundering agency reviews electronic cash transfers of $10,000 or more.
The government proposes broadening the law to scrutinize all electronic funds transfers entering or leaving Canada. Miss Stoddart says this would mean examining large numbers of harmless transactions, such as parents sending money to their children studying abroad.

Voting starts in NDP leadership race
Advance voting began Thursday in the campaign to choose a new leader for Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party. Most of the more than 128,000 party members who are eligible to vote are expected to cast their ballots through the mail or online. The party picks a successor to the late Jack Layton at a convention in Toronto later this month. He died of cancer in August at the age of 61. His party won its biggest electoral victory in its history in the May 2 election.

NS premier won't intervene in Halifax strike
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says the provincial government has no plans to intervene in the month-long transit strike in Halifax. Mr. Dexter says the strike should be resolved through negotiations between management and the union. He says the municipality and its employees have a responsibility to conduct their own labour relations. City officials say their latest offer will remain open for consideration until Saturday. But that offer was already rejected by 78 per cent of the unionized workers who cast ballots in a vote last week, mainly over the issue of shift scheduling. Senior bus drivers want to maintain their right to pick shifts, but city officials say the system is too costly because many shifts have to be filled through overtime. About 750 bus drivers, ferry workers and maintenance staff went on strike Feb. 2.


Syrian rebels quit embattled Homs neighbourhood
Defeated Syrian rebels left their shattered stronghold in the city of Homs on Thursday after a bloody 26-day army siege aimed at crushing a symbol of the year-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Activists said a few fighters had stayed on in the Baba Amro district, which has endured weeks of shelling, sniper fire and privation, to cover their comrades' "tactical withdrawal". Soon afterward, the international Red Cross said Syrian authorities had finally given it permission to take aid into the district on Friday. A pro-government figure proclaimed that troops had "broken the back" of the rebellion and that the fall of Baba Amro heralded impending victory over a Western-backed insurgency. A statement in the name of the fighters urged the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian
groups to enter Baba Amro to protect and bring aid to 4,000 civilians who had stayed in their destroyed houses.

Schools burned in Nigeria
Arsonists suspected to be members of Islamist sect Boko Haram have burned down seven schools in northeastern Nigeria the past few days, authorities said on Thursday, a new twist in the group's increasingly violent insurgency.
Thousands of children have been left without schools in the middle of their term. Boko Haram, an Islamist movement styled on the Taliban, is waging a low level insurgency against the government that is radiating out from its heartland in the remote northeastern city of Maiduguri right across the north. Its name means "Western education is sinful", after the
ant-Western teachings of its early spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody in 2009.

Venezuelan leader reports recovery from new surgery
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he was recovering "rapidly" from surgery to remove a potentially cancerous lesion. He confirmed that doctors removed a new "lesion" from his pelvic area and said he already has taken his first steps since the surgery. Cuban TV said Mr. Chavez was operated on successfully on Monday in the Center for Medical-Surgical Investigations, Cuba's most modern hospital. Mr. Chavez declared himself cancer-free last October, before announcing on Feb. 21 that a small potentially malignant lesion had been discovered.

Argentina makes conciliatory gesture over Falklands
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez says she is seeking to negotiate with the United Kingdom to establish three weekly flights from Buenos Aires to the Falkland Islands. No flights currently connect the U.K.-controlled islands and
Argentina. Two weekly flights travel from Chile to the islands about 1,000 kilometres off the Argentine coast. Mrs. Fernandez told her country's Congress on Thursday that she would like to establish the flights for state-owned Aerolineas Argentinas. The announcement comes in a context of increasing tension over the islands, which are claimed both by Britain and Argentina.

Russia accuses U.S. of electoral interference
Russia on Thursday accused the United States of trying to influence its election process by funding opposition groups in advance of Vladimir Putin's expected return to the Kremlin in weekend polls. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a scathing critique in which he accused the United States of following Cold War-era stereotypes and trying to talk down to Russia. The remarks echo similar accusations by Mr. Putin and follow a state-led crackdown on a private Moscow-based election monitor called Golos that openly receives funding from the West.

Stricken cruise ship reaches harbour
Hot and tired passengers disembarking from a disabled cruise ship Thursday in the Seychelles said they had prepared to abandon ship when fire broke out in the engine room three days ago. Life boats were even lowered, passengers said, but the more than 1,000 people wound up staying aboard the Costa Allegra, which then drifted in the Indian Ocean with no engine power, no air conditioning and no running water for showers or toilets. Dozens of officials flocked to the port Thursday to help passengers ashore. Tour operators lined up dozens of buses to take passengers to either the airport or a Seychelles resort. Disembarkation of the more than 1,000 people onboard was expected to take several hours.
The Costa Allegra has been at sea with and without electricity since a fire broke out in the generator room on Monday, knocking out plumbing, showers, lights and air conditioning as the huge ship went adrift in tropical heat. A French fishing vessel towed the cruise ship to the Seychelles.


Oilsands producers pool knowledge
Canada's oilsands producers say they can improve environmental performance with an alliance that will allow them to share their knowledge and resources. CEOs of 12 companies have signed the founding charter of Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. It includes such major oilsands names as Shell, Suncor, and Imperial Oil Ltd.
Shell vice-president John Abbott says the alliance is a pivotal moment for the industry. Members say it will break down barriers in funding, intellectual property enforcement and human resources that may otherwise slow progress on environmental performance. Oilsands crude is often deemed by critics as a "dirty" source of oil because of the greenhouse gases released during its production, and for its impact on land and water.

Ontario awards contracts to refit nuclear plant
Ontario has awarded a contract worth more than $600 million to SNC-Lavalin Nuclear Inc. and Aecon Construction Group Inc. to refurbish its Darlington nuclear station. Ontario Power Generation says the contract involves drafting plans and replacing major components of the four reactors at the station in Clarington. The project will involve the removal and replacement of hundreds of tubes and feeder pipes for each of the reactors. OPG says it's the first of several contracts for the refurbishment of the facility, which they say powers one out of every five homes in the province.

Romanian opposition opposes Canadian mine project
The leader of Romania's main opposition party, Victor Ponta, on Thursday pledged to block a Canadian gold mine project in the northwest of the country if he becomes prime minister. Opinion polls indicate that Mr. Ponta's Social-Democrat Party and its Liberal allies are likely to win power in the next election, expected in November. Rosia Montana Gold Corp., 80 percent owned by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources and 20 percent by the Romanian state, plans to use cyanide to extract some 300 tonnes of gold in the village of Rosia Montana, thought to hold Europe's largest single deposit.
The company still needs the go-ahead from the environment ministry to start digging. The project has been attacked by environmentalists, archaeologists, historians and international organisations who claim the mine would threaten the environment and priceless Roman-era mining galleries. The Canadian company plans to invest $1.7 billion to extract 300 tonnes of gold and 1,700 tonnes of silver over 16 years and says the mine will respect all European standards on environmental protection.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,722 + 28. Canadian dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $110.06 + $2.99.


Canadian Erik Guay was fourth in a World Cup downhill training run in Norway today. Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud led the session for the second day in a row. The downhill race goes Saturday, with super-G races on Friday and Sunday.
Christine Sinclair scored the 131st international goal of her career and Robyn Gayle added an injury-time goal to give Canada's women's soccer team a 2-1 victory over Italy at the Cyprus Cup. The Canadians are 2-and-0 in the tournament they won last year. They face the Netherlands on Sunday to wrap up round-robin action.


British Columbia on Friday: rain, high C4 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse 1, Yellowknife -18, Iqaluit -21. Alberta: snow north, sun south. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: snow. Edmonton -1, Regina -4, Winnipeg -3. Ontario: rain south, snow north. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 4, Ottawa, Montreal 2. Fredericton, Halifax: snow. Charlottetown, St. John's: mix sun cloud.

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