Monday, March 12, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 11 March 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Demonstrations call for inquiry into election robocalls

Demonstrations were held in several Canadian cities on Sunday to call for a public inquiry into the robocall scandal. The scandal broke last month when it was revealed that thousands of voters received recorded phone calls that sent them to the wrong polling stations in the federal election last year. The opposition Liberal Party and New Democratic Party suspect that the calls are linked to the governing Conservative Party, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper denies the allegations. The demonstrations on Sunday saw only a few dozen people turn out in Halifax, while less than 100 people marched in downtown Montreal. Protests were also planned in Toronto, Calgary and Victoria. About 42,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a public inquiry into the robocalls.

Canadians mark anniversary of Japan disaster
A crowd gathered at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto on Sunday to honour those killed or displaced by the devastating earthquake in Japan last year. They bowed their heads in silence at precisely 2:46 p.m., the moment that the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011.

NDP leadership candidates hold final debate

The seven candidates seeking the leadership of Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party met in Vancouver on Sunday for their final debate before the party chooses the new leader. New Democrats will meet in TorontoonMarch 23-24to pick a successor to Jack Layton, who died last August. Many party members have already marked their ballots and mailed them in.

Conservatives end annual meeting with call for higher ethical standards
Canada's ruling Conservative party has concluded a two-day meeting with a call for a higher degree of ethics in politics. Former Reform party leader Preston Manning, who oversees the annual Tory conference, points to the sponsorship scandal and the more recent robo-calling affair as two examples of unethical conduct. Mr. Manning cites a poll conducted for the Manning Centre which suggests that Canadians' confidence in politics and their policians is at historic lows. Mr Manning says that judgment is reinforced everytime unethical conduct in the political world makes the headlines.

Canadian foreign aid agency seeking thief
Canada's foreign aid agency is seeking an African man who stole money from a fund to help villagers in Mali. The Canadian International Development Agency identified the man only as Mr. Bartururimi, a citizen of Burundi who led a non-governmental organization. The agency says that he took $30,000 from a fund designed to improve sanitation in the village of Sanankoroba, about 30 kilometres south of Mali's capital, Bamako. The money came from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, which provides small-scale, short-term support for community projects through local NGOs and village councils, co-operatives and women's groups. A report on the project found that only part of the work was complete even though most of the money had been paid. The Canadian embassy demanded its money back. The Canadian ambassador to Mali, Virginie Saint-Louis, sent a letter to Mr. Bartururimi in 2009, threatening legal action if he failed to return the money. He never replied. The embassy went to court in 2010, but Mr. Bartururimi did not show up. It's believed that he fled Mali. He faces arrest. Mr. Bartururimi has permanent resident status in Canada.

Canadian fugitive reported arrested in Panama
A Canadian fugitive accused of multiple murders is reported to have been arrested in Panama. Michel Smith is a member of the South Chapter of the Hells Angels, where he's known as Animal. He faces 29 criminal charges, including 22 murder charges. Media in Panama reported that police detained him on Friday in the Playa Coronado region. Quebec police have sought him since 2009. He is linked to murder, gangsterism, drug trafficking and related conspiracy charges.

Canada switches to Daylight Saving Time

Most Canadians switched from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time early on Sunday morning. Clocks were set ahead one hour. Most of Saskatchewan remained on Standard Time. Standard Time returns to all of Canada on November 4.


U.S. soldier goes on shooting rampage in Afghanistan

An American soldier in Afghanistan went on a crazed shooting spree on Sunday, killing 16 people in their homes in southern Kandahar. Among the victims were nine children and three women. Five others were wounded. The soldier later returned to his base and surrendered. It's not clear what caused the soldier to start shooting. The U.S. State Department expressed its condolences to victims' families, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the slaughter, calling it "unforgivable." The rampage was the latest in a series of incidents that have badly strained U.S.-Afghan relations. Most recently, Muslims were outraged when American soldiers inadvertently burned copies of the Islamic holy book, the Koran. There are fears that the soldier's rampage could lead Afghans to make violent reprisals. General John Allen, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, vowed to bring the shooter to account. U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan end in 2014.

Japan marks first anniversary of earthquake, tsunami
Japan observed a moment of silence on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of a devastating earhquake and tsunami. Solemn ceremonies were held at 2:46 p-m local time to honour the more than 19-thousand people who were killed in the massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake of one year ago, in the tsunami that followed and the nuclear accident it unleashed. In a coastal town not far from the epicentre, a siren sounded Sunday morning.A Buddhist priest rang a huge bell at a damaged temple overlooking a barren area where houses once stood.

Anti-nuclear protesters stage worldwide demonstrations
Anti-nuclear protesters around the globe staged demonstrations on Sunday, the first anniversary of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. In Japan, about sixteen thousand rallied near the crippled plant, demanding an end to nuclear power. In France, demonstrators in the Rhone valley formed a human chain more than 200 kilometres long. The region has a high concentration of nuclear reactors. Nuclear energy generates about 75 per cent of the France's electricity. Large protests were also held in Germany. In Australia, hundreds of demonstrators assembled at the Australian headquarters of global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the companies that supplied uranium to Fukushima. Australia is the world's third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada. Demonstrations were also held in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, in Spain and in Switzerland.

Kofi Annan ends peace mission to Syria

The United Nations envoy, Kofi Annan, expressed optimism in Damascus on Sunday after his second meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On behalf of the U.N. and the Arab League, Mr. Annan transmitted an appeal for a ceasefire in Syria's violent offensive against anti-government activists. The U.N. estimates that 8,500 people were killed in the offensive over the past 11 months. Many victims were unarmed civilians caught in barrages. More deaths were reported in heavy fighting in northern Syria even as Mr. Annan was making his ceasefire appeal. Thirty-two civilians were among the 91 people killed nationwide on Saturday. On Sunday, at least 34 were killed. Speaking after his talks, Mr. Annan said that the crisis should not be allowed to degenerate further. He said that he left some concrete proposals with the president for ending the conflict, saying that a political settlement could come only after first stopping the violence and abuses. President al-Assad supported his army's actions, saying that he was defending the country against armed rebels.

More deadly attacks on Gaza border

Israeli and Palestinian forces continued a tense exchange in Gaza on Sunday. For the third day, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza, bringing the number of people killed since Friday to 18. Four strikes on Sunday morning killed three people, one of them a school boy. Palestinian militants of Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, fired more than 100 rockets at southern Israel, wounding four people and prompting Israeli officials to cancel school classes and to ban large gatherings in the region. Egyptian government officials were trying to broker a ceasefire. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed for calm, making phone calls to Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah. The latest round of violence apparently began on Friday afternoon when an Israeli air strike killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group.

Suicide attack kills ten in Nigeria
At least ten people were killed on Sunday morning as a result of a suicide car bombing at a Roman Catholic church in central Nigeria. A government spokesman said that the dead included seven parishioners and three onlookers who were killed by soldiers. The attack occurred at St. Finbar's Catholic Church in the city of Jos. The assailant was stopped at the church's gate by security, but the powerful blast damaged the church. Soon afterwards, Christian youths killed at least ten people in revenge. The radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has attacked churches in the past. On February 26, an attack claimed by Boko Haram killed three people and injured 50 as they attended a Sunday service in Jos.

China details rescues of human-trafficking victims
Chinese authorities say more than 24,000 women and children were rescued across the country last year, as police broke up nearly 3,200 human trafficking rings. While there is a thriving market for baby boys in China because of the country's strict one-child policy, girls and women are also abducted and used as labourers or as brides for unmarried sons. China's Public Security Ministry says there were also cases of abductions outside of China. It says police were dispatched to Angola where they helped dismantle a gang trafficking Chinese women for prostitution. Nineteen Chinese women were rescued there and 16 suspects taken into custody. The Ministry says Chinese police also broke up a crime ring where Vietnamese suspects were abducting children in the southern Chinese provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong. There's no word on the exact number of abductions in China. Keeping track of victims is difficult due to China's sheer size, rural poverty and its population of 1.3 billion people. Many such kidnappings never get reported beyond local areas.

Suicide attack on Pakistan funeral
A funeral in northwestern Pakistan turned into a bloodbath after a sucide bombing killed at least 15 mourners. Thirty others were wounded. The funeral was being attended by an anti-Taliban politician, who escaped the attack unharmed. Islamist militants have been engaged in an ongoing battle against Pakistani security forces in the region near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

French president threatens withdrawal from Schengen zone
France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is threatening to withdraw France from the Schengen zone unless the zone's members strengthen their rules against illegal immigrants. Some 400 million citizens in 25 Schengen zone countries are allowed to travel within the zone without a passport. Once inside the zone, illegal immigrants can move more easily between participating states. Mr. Sarkozy recently declared that France has too many immigrants. If the Schengen zone fails to make progress in revising its immigration laws and tighten borders, he'll order France to withdraw from the zone. Mr. Sarkozy spoke at a rally near Paris held as part of his campaign for re-election later this year.

Slovakia elects majority government
For the first time since gaining independence in 1993, Slovakia has a majority government. Robert Fico led his Smer-SD Party to victory on Saturday, winning 83 seats in the 150-seat parliament. Voters responded to his appeal to fight corruption. Mr. Fico said that his plans to tax the rich and boost social welfare would not conflict with the eurozone's drive to end the European Union's debt crisis. He pledged to defend the euro. Slovakia is the E.U.'s second-poorest member after Estonia.



Canada's Christine Nesbitt won the 1,000 metres in Berlin on Sunday to take her second overall World Cup title in two days and clinch the women's Grand World Cup and its US$20,000 prize for the season's best skater. Heather Richardson of the United States was second and Zhang Hong of China was third. Nesbitt won the 1,500 World Cup title on Saturday. On the final day of the world short-track speedskating championship in Shanghai on Sunday, Canadian Valerie Maltais won gold in the 3,000 metres, bronze in the 1,000 and silver in the women's overall competition. In the men's relay, Canadians Olivier Jean, Liam McFarlane, Francois-Louis Tremblay and Guillaume Bastille of won the gold medal. Canadian Charles Hamelin won bronze in the men's 1,000 despite suffering an injury after making contact with a Chinese skater.

Canada's Brendan Bottcher won the world men's junior curling championship title on Sunday, needing only eight ends to complete a 10-4 rout of Sweden in the final at Ostersund, Sweden. The Edmonton skip teamed with Evan Asmussen and twins Landon and Bryce Bucholz.

In the National Hockey Leauge on Saturday, Erik Cole scored twice and Carey Price made 32 saves as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Avalanche beat the Oilers 3-2 in Denver, while Buffalo came back from three one-goal deficits before beating the Senators 4-3 .The Flyers got past the Maple Leafs 1-0.



Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, March 11. British Columbia will have rain. The high temperature in Vancouver will be eight degrees Celsius. The Yukon: snow flurries. Whitehorse, minus six. Northwest Territories: snow. Yellowknife, minus ten. Nunavut: cloudy periods. Iqaluit, minus 14. Alberta: mainly sunny. Edmonton, seven. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, seven. Manitoba: clearing skies. Winnipeg, nine. Ontario: increasing cloudiness. Toronto: 12. Ottawa, 11. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 11. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, 12. Nova Scotia: mainly sunny. Halifax, ten. Prince Edward Island: variable cloudiness. Charlottetown, five. Newfoundland: overcast. St. John's, two.


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