Monday, March 19, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 18 March 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Canada's prime minister to make three-country Asian tour

Canada's prime minister will travel to Asia next week for the second time this year. Stephen Harper will arrive on Thursday in Thailand to discuss a possible free-trade deal. He'll then travel to Japan and South Korea. In South Korea's capital, Seoul, Mr. Harper will join 52 other heads of state at the second Nuclear Security Summit. The first summit was held in Washington in 2010. Delegates will discuss how to cooperate in combating nuclear terrorism, in protecting nuclear facilities and in preventing the illegal sale of nuclear material. Mr. Harper made his second official trip to China in February. In recent months, he has promoted the need for Canada to develop new markets in Asia.

Pearson International Airport sees delays and cancellations
Some flights were cancelled on Sunday at Canada's biggest airport, Pearson International in Toronto. Most of the cancelled flights were Air Canada's. Some of the flights were cancelled because the airline's pilots called in sick for the second day. Air Canada is involved in difficult labour negotiations with its pilots as well as with its ground crews. But a malfunction at Pearson International added to the disruption. A fire in a manhole damaged electricals systems on the airfield. The systems are needed to operate runway lights. A heavy fog blanketed the airport during the morning, adding to the delays and cancellations.

British Columbia teachers continue labour strategy talks
Teachers in the Canadian province of British Columbia continued on Sunday to discuss how to react to government legislation that forbids strike action. B.C. Teachers Federation President Susan Lambert says about 700 members will likely come to a decision on Tuesday. Bill 22 bans further teacher walkouts and sends their contract dispute to a mediator. In other news related to the province's education system, B.C. Education Minister George Abbott signed a memorandum of understanding during a trip to China to set up two B.C.-certified schools in Shanghai. Mr. Abbott says Chinese students want to study in British Columbia or attend a certified school.

St Patrick's Day celebrations turn violent
St. Patricks's Day celebrations turned violent in London, Ontario late Saturday. About fifty police officers in riot gear were called out to disperse a crowd blocking a street in the city. The mob,made up primarily of young people, pelted officers with bottles and other objects and set fire to a television news truck that had been tipped over.

Rallies protesting Syrian regime held in Canadian cities

Rallies protesting the Syrian regime and calling on the Canadian government for help were held in several Canadian cities Saturday. More than one thousand people gathered in Montreal, with similar protests held in Toronto and Halifax as part of the "Global March for Syria". The event advertised on Facebook asked fellow protesters to "take a moment to remember the thousands of lives sacrificed since March 15, 2011." Mustafa Arab, with the Canadian Syrian Council, saysthe groups protesting want Canada to take a firm stand against the regime that the United Nations estimates has killed more than 8,000 in the past year.

American fraudster guilty of bilking hundreds of Canadians
An American man has been found guilty of defrauding hundreds of Canadians. Ronald L. Brekke helped nearly one thousand people falsely claim millions of dollars in tax refunds. About 630 Canadians were victimized. Brekke told his victims that the U.S. Treasury would pay tax refunds equal to their personal debt. The deception is known as 1099 OID fraud, after the form used to claim the refund. He prepared fraudulent claims worth more than US$763 million. Only $14 million worth of the claims were paid out by the U.S. government. The scam was revealed after two of Brekke's Canadian co-conspirators tried to cash refund cheques worth more than $350,000 each at a bank in Bellingham, Washington. Donald Mason and John Chung were arrested in 2009. The investigation led authorities to Brekke. Both Canadians were convicted of fraud in connection with the case. Brekke faces up to 20 years in prison. He is set for sentencing on June 15.


Car bomb explodes in northern Syrian city

A car bomb exploded on Sunday in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that three civilians were killed and more than 25 others were wounded in an attack that targeted security offices. State media reported that the attack occurred near residential buildings and a post office. The bombing came one day after two bombings killed 27 people and wounded more than 120 others in Damascus. No one has taken responsibility for those bombings, but President Bashar al-Assad's government blamed terrorists.

Libya's former spy chief wanted in several countries
There's an argument developing over who will control the fate of Libya's former chief of intelligence. Abdullah al-Senussi was arrested in Mauritainia Saturday. The government of Libya wants him returned to face justice in that country. He is already charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He was also convicted in absentia in France for involvement in an attack on a French jetliner in 1989 that killed 170 people. France is seeking his extradition from Mauritania. Senussi was a brother-in-law to Libya's late leader, Moammar Gaddafi, and served as a senior government adviser.

U.S. soldier accused of Afghan shootings to face trial in United States

A U.S. military legal expert says that an American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians will be tried in the United States. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was transported from Afghanistan this week to the U.S. military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The legal expert, who requested anonymity, expects that charges will be filed against Bales within a week. Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, wanted Bales charged in Afghanistan. Bales is accused of going on a shooting spree in Kabul in which 16 civilians, including children, were killed in their homes. Bales was a veteran soldier. There is speculation that he was under stress related to his combat duties.

Protesters arrested in Moscow

Police have detained dozens of people protesting outside the NTV television station in Moscow after it aired a documentary that portrayed the Russian opposition as paid agents of the United States. Among those detained was Sergei Udaltsov, an opposition leader who had already been detained twice this month at protests that have followed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's victory in a presidential election. At Sunday's protest, hundreds of demonstrators chanted "Shame on NTV" and "Russia without Putin." After Putin came to power in 2000, he engineered the takeover of the private NTV network by the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom.

Iraqi miltants release American soldier
A militant Shia group in Iraq says it has released a former United States soldier it kidnapped last year.The group loyal to the Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr produced the man in American military uniform, at a news conference in Baghdad. His name is Randy Michael Hultz. The case is unusual since the U. S. embassy in Baghdad didn't know an American had been kidnapped. There are reports that Hultz had been working for a civilian contractor when he was captured nine months ago.

Thousands gather at Tibetan funeral
Activists say thousands of Tibetans gathered for the funeral of a farmer who burned himself to death in China last week. Sonam Thargyal, was the second person to set himself on fire in the past week in Rebkong county, Qinghai province . Rights groups said armed police in trucks arrived in Rebkong, but withdrew after a confrontation with mourners. The international FreeTibet groups claims it was one of the largest protests by Tibetans since 2008. A report by Radio Free Asia quoted a Tibetan source as saying 7,000 people gathered at the funeral in Rebkong.

East Timor to stage presidential runoff vote
With most votes counted on Sunday in East Timor's presidential election one day earlier, results pointed to a runoff vote. The second round will pit the opposition Fretilin party's Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres against a former guerrilla leader, Taur Matan Ruak. The incumbent president, Jose Ramos-Horta, lagged behind his rivals and was out of the race. Election officials noted some irregularities during the election, and heavy rain had apparently prevented ballot boxes from reaching some cities and also dissuaded some people from voting. But the voting was organized and peaceful in contrast to the deadly pre-election violence in 2006, when East Timor came to the brink of civil war. East Timor is still recovering from Indonesia's brutal 24-year occupation. East Timor voted for independence in 1999. Citizens will choose a new government in a general election in June.

Pastor is elected Germany's president
For the first time, a candidate from the former East Germany will be Germany's president. Joachim Gauck was chosen over two other candidates by a special assembly of parliamentarians and other dignitaries. It was Germany's third presidential election in three years. Two previous presidents resigned abruptly. In an acceptance speech, Mr. Gauck, a Lutheran pastor, noted that his election fell on the 22nd anniversary of the first free elections in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The largely ceremonial presidential office is considered a kind of moral compass for the nation.

Belarus confirms executions of convicted bombers
Belarus has confirmed the execution of two men found guilty of detonating a bomb in a subway station in Minsk last year. Vladislav Kovalyov and Dmitry Konovalov were executed according to law by a shot to the back of the head. The men were convicted in November. The hastiness of their execution brought renewed criticism of the manner in which prosecutors presented evidence in court. Suspicion was also raised that the government had concealed information about the crime. The subway bombing in April killed 15 people and wounded more than 300. Konovalov acknowledged his guilt but Kovalyov insisted that he did not take part in the actual bombing and pleaded not guilty. Belarus is the last European country to have the death penalty. The latest executions have brought new pleas for Belarus to abolish executions.

Guinea-Bissau holds presidential election
People in Guinea-Bissau began on voting on Sunday for a new president. The latest president, Malam Bacai Sanha, died in January following a long illness. Nine candidates were vying to succeed him. A mutiny by renegade soldiers in 2010 led the European Union and the United States to suspend support for reforms, leaving future support to depend on a smooth election and post-poll reforms. Despite a peaceful three-week election campaign, there are fears of violence or military intervention if the army does not approve of the winning candidate. The military's budget is larger than the budget for health or education.

American teacher killed in Yemen
Gunmen have shot and killed an American teacher in Yemen. Police say that the victim, Joel Shrun, was shot by two men riding a motorcycle in the city of Taiz, where the victim taught English and served as deputy director of a language school, the Swedish Institute. A group linked to al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility, saying that the victim was shot for proselytizing Christianity. Islamic militants often accuse Western aid groups of covert religious missionary work. The United States and Yemen's neighbour, Saudi Arabia, are concerned about al-Qaeda's expansion in Yemen where it has regrouped after suffering reverses in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Tonga's king is dead
The king of Tonga, George Tupou V, died on Sunday at the age of 63. He died at a hospital in Hong Kong. King Tupou was crowned in 2008, two years after the death of his father, one of the world's last absolute monarchs. King Tupou is credited with introducing democracy to Tonga. People of Tonga voted in their first popularly elected parliament in 2010, ending 165 years of feudal rule. His brother is heir to the throne.



Canadian Devon Kershaw has finished second in the World Cup four-event finals in Falun, Sweden. Overall World Cup champion Dario Cologna was first and Norway's Niklas Dyrhaug was third. The finals began with the Royal Palace Sprint in Stockholm's Old Town on Wednesday.

Canada's Mikael Kingsbury was second at a dual moguls World Cup event in Megeve, France on Sunday. American Patrick Deneen was first and Canadian Marc-Antoine Gagnon was third. Kingsbury remains the leader in the overall standings. In the women's event, Justine Dufour-Lapointe won the gold medal for her first victory of the season. Japan's Miki Ito was second and Justine's older sister, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, was third.

The coach who will lead Canada's under-18 men's hockey team at the world championship was named on Sunday. Jesse Wallin is the head coach and GM of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Gordie Dwyer of the QMJHL's P.E.I. Rocket and Todd Gill of the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs were named assistant coaches. The under-18 world championship will be held April 12-22 in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic. In the National Hockey League on Saturday, Toronto beat Ottawa, 3-1, the New York Islanders defeated Montreal, 3-2, and Vancouver beat Columbus, 4-3.

In the National Basketball Association, D.J. Augustin scored 23 points and had 11 assists as the Charlotte Bobcats held off the Toronto Raptors, 107-103.

Canada's Heather Nedohin opened the women's world curling championship on Saturday with a 8-7 win over Allison Pottinger of the United States. Nedohin scored two points in the seventh end and stole three in the eighth to lead 8-4.



Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, March 19. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be seven degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, minus one. Northwest Territories: snow flurries. Yellowknife, minus 13. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 26. Alberta: snow. Edmonton, minus three. Saskatchewan: mainly sunny. Regina, 14. Manitoba: showers. Winnipeg, 25. Ontario: cloudy. Toronto: 19. Ottawa, 24. Quebec: sunny periods. Montreal, 15. New Brunswick: showers. Fredericton, eight. Nova Scotia: showers. Halifax, seven. Prince Edward Island: mainly sunny. Charlottetown, three. Newfoundland: sunny periods. St. John's, minus one.


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