Saturday, March 10, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 9 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Had to prevent Air Canada strike: PM
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it was necessary for his government to get involved with Air Canada's labour disputes because it's a special case. Mr. Harper says a shutdown at the country's largest airline would have a significant impact on travellers, the country's transportation system and potentially the economy. The prime minister says his government doesn't want to intervene, but that it is essential to keep the airline flying, especially during the busy March Break travel period. He says the parties need to find a way to resolve their disputes without harming the Canadian public. That message was also delivered by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on Thursday when she blocked actions by the airline and two of its unions.

Trade surplus dips
Canada's trade surplus plunged to $2.1 billion in January as a slight increase in exports to the United States was more than offset by declines to the rest of the world. Statistics Canada reports that the overall surplus, mainly due to trade between Canada and the United States, fell 28 per cent from $2.9 billion in December as merchandise exports declined 2.3 per cent and imports edged down 0.6 per cent. Overall, Canadian exports decreased to $41.4 billion in January, as prices fell 2.2 per cent, while imports decreased to $39.3 billion, with industrial goods and materials and energy products contributing the most to the decline.

Job market tough for young Canadians
Unemployed Canadians continued to struggle with a tough job market last month as the slow-moving economy laid an egg in February, unexpectedly shedding 2,800 jobs. The national unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 per cent, but that was because close to a net 38,000 frustrated job seekers simply gave up the search. The news was particularly grim for young Canadians. Employment among the 15-24 age cohort fell another 26,800 in February and now is down almost 300,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession in 2008. Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the Statistics Canada report "disappointing," but stressed some positives, including increased full-time employment, continuing a trend, and a brightening outlook
in the United States. Liberal critic Scott Brison berated the government's record, particularly on youth employment, saying "an entire generation of Canadians is losing hope."

Manning deplores U.S. influence on political morals
The patriarch of the modern-day conservative movement in Canada is calling for better ethical training for campaign workers in the wake of the robocall scandal. But one-time Reform party leader Preston Manning also cautions against pointing the finger for the scandal at the Tories, saying the problem is much broader. Mr. Manning condemns the idea of campaigns using robocalls to harass voters or divert them to the wrong polls. Elections Canada is investigating instances of voters being directed to non-existent polls in the riding of Guelph, ON. A Conservative party worker connected to the campaign there has since resigned. The election agency has received 31,000 calls, faxes and emails from Canadians reporting other suspected instances of interference with the voting process. The opposition blames the Conservatives. Mr. Manning says all parties should be worried, adding that part of the problem lies in the fact that young Canadians are sent to political training schools in the United States where politics is far more aggressive.

Body of missing teen finally found
They searched for Mariam Makhniashvili across the country and eventually found her body less than an hour away from where she was last seen. A case that baffled authorities for two-and-a-half years came to a grim resolution Friday as Toronto police announced that remains found in the city's north end were those of the missing teen, who was killed in an apparent fall from a highway overpass. While they wouldn't go as far as labelling her death a suicide, police suggested Mariam may have been depressed and firmly stated foul play was not suspected. When asked if Mariam took her own life, Staff Inspector McLane said the post-mortem results "could be consistent with that conclusion." Mariam was 17 when she was last seen on Sept. 14, 2009 as she arrived at school with her younger brother. She had been attending Forest Hill Collegiate for just four days before she went missing.


Bahrainis again take to streets
Tens of thousands of Bahrainis demonstrated on Friday to demand democratic reforms, stepping up pressure on the U.S.-allied government with the biggest protest yet in a year of unrest. They began marching along a highway near Manama in response to a call from leading Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim. He urged people to renew their calls for greater democracy. Qassim and other Shi'ite clerics led the march. Later hundreds of protesters broke away from the march to walk down the main highway into Manama in an attempt to return to a traffic intersection that protesters occupied for a month during last year's uprising.

Bondholders support Greece rescue
Greece took a critical step toward staving off an imminent bankruptcy after securing the support of the vast majority of its bondholders to accept steep losses on their holdings of Greek debt, a move that should pave the way for the country's second massive international bailout. Following weeks of intense discussions, Greece's Finance Ministry said Friday that 85.8 per cent of private investors holding its Greek-law bonds had signed up to the deal, and that it aimed to use legislation forcing the holdouts to participate. The deal aimed to slash the country's national debt by$140 billion, with private bond holders accepting a face-value loss of 53.5 per cent in exchange for new bonds with more favourable repayment terms.

Oxfam sounds alarm bell for West Africa
An international aid group warned Friday of a growing famine risk in West Africa, amid reports of villagers raiding ant hills to take food from the insects. Oxfam says a lethal mix of drought, high food prices, entrenched poverty and regional conflict is behind the crisis hitting Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal. It says 13 million people were at risk in the Sahel region unless action is taken. The United Nations has made an international appeal for $720 million for the Sahel countries and Oxfam said it needs $38 million to feed one million people most at risk. Oxfam also says more than one million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

Former Slovak leader seeks comeback
Slovakia's former Prime Minister Robert Fico looks set for a political comeback in an election on Saturday, after campaigning on promises to build a strong social safety net in turbulent economic times. Polls show the 47-year-old lawyer will win around 40 percent of the vote, a record mandate in Slovakia's 20 years of independence that would knock his centre-right rival Mikulas Dzurinda out of power and possibly even from parliament. Mr. Fico, who served one term as the central European country's prime minister in 2006-2010, has pledged to dump Mr. Dzurinda'smajor reform, a 19 percent flat income tax, and collect taxes more from the rich, banks and other firms.

Pressure continues on behalf of jailed former Ukrainian leader
The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly on Friday appealed for the release by Ukraine of former government officials, including ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Mrs. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year term after being convicted in October of abuse of power. Former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, one of her allies in the 2004 Orange Revolution, was also found guilty of abusing his powers by helping grant an illegal pension to his driver and allowing him accommodation. The Council further called on the authorities of Ukraine to urgently "consider all legal means available to them to release these former government members and allow them to compete in the forthcoming parliamentary elections." Ukraine has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1995. The Council, which has 47 member states, seeks to develop common democratic practices.

Russian police brace for protest
Moscow authorities say thousands of police and troops will be on duty at a Saturday protest rally that is likely to be a key test of opposition forces' staying power following the election of Vladimir Putin to a new term as Russian president. The protest on Novy Arbat, one of the city's most important avenues, comes less than a week after the election, which Putin won handily but that opponents say was riddled with fraud. Huge and unprecedented protests that attracted crowds as big as 100,000 in Moscow over the past three months had called for preventing Mr. Putin's election. Saturday's rally may indicate if such turnouts can continue now that he's headed back to the Kremlin.


Algonquin buys wind parks in U.S.
Spain's Gamesa said on Friday it had agreed to sell four wind parks in the United States to Canada's Algonquin Power & Utilities for about $900 million. Gamesa, one of the world's top wind turbine groups, will develop and build the wind parks which will have a combined capacity of 480 megawatts. The wind farms will be equipped with 240 of Gamesa's G9X-2.0 MW turbines and will be located in the U.S. states of Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Texas. Under the deal Gamesa will provide operations, warranty and maintenance services for the wind turbines for 20 years. Gamesa and Algonquin Power & Utilities also agreed to pursue further wind power opportunities in the United States and Canada.
Algonquin Power & Utilities is a utility company with assets worth more than $1.2 billion across North America.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,503 + 41. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. cents up 0.72 of a cent. Euro: $1.29. Oil: $107.53 + .95.


In the National Hockey League, there's still no timeline on Sidney Crosby's return to action. The Pittsburgh Penguins star says he's been symptom-free since being cleared for contact. But Crosby added he is in no rush to return from the concussion that has kept him out of action for the majority of the last year.
Canada won it's first medal in the women's 1,500-metre race at the world short-track speedskating championships in eight years. Marie-Eve Drolet won bronze at the event just behind two Chinese skaters in Shanghai. Meanwhile, Edmonton's Jamie Gregg won a men's 500-metre sprint at a long-track World Cup event in Berlin.
Canada's Philippe Marquis has his first World Cup freestyle skiing victory. The Quebec City skier finished first in men's moguls at an event in Sweden to edge teammate Mikael Kingsbury. Canada's Chloé Dufour-Lapointe added a silver medal in the women's competition.


British Columbia on Saturday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon: snow. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse 1, Yellowknife -12, Iqaluit -25. Alberta: mix sun cloud rain. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 4, Regina 6, Winnipeg 5. Ontario: snow north, mix sun cloud south. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 2, Ottawa, Montreal -3. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton -1, Halifax 0, Charlottetown, St. John's -4.

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