Sunday, March 25, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Canada presses Thailand to combat human smuggling


Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, says Thailand is an important partner in Canadian efforts to stop human smuggling. Mr. Harper spoke on Saturday in Bangkok, where he toured the local police force's main marine dock. His government is spending $12 million over two years to help detect and prevent human smuggling operations. About $7 million is aimed at anti-smuggling efforts in

southeast Asia. Most of the funds will be spent in Thailand on new communications and navigation equipment for the Thai police force's marine unit. Canada sees Thailand as a source and transit point for illegal migrants seeking to come to Canada. Two years ago, a boat arrived off Canada's west coast with about 500 Sri Lankan Tamil migrants abroad. Mr. Harper said that several illegal operations have been blocked and boats have been stopped before they can sail for Canada's shores. Mr. Harper was on the final day of his first official visit to Thailand. Earlier, he announced an agreement to begin free-trade talks. Later on Saturday, he flew to Japan, where he and Prime Minister Yoshihiko are expected formally to launch free-trade negotiations. Japan is also expected to relax restrictions on Canadian beef imports. Japan imposed restrictions several years ago when cases of mad-cow disease were found in Canadian cattle. Mr. Harper will end his latest Asian tour in South Korea, where he'll participate in an international security conference.

 

After two ballots, three contenders remain at New Democratic Party leadership convention


Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party voted for a new leader at its convention in Toronto on Saturday. Four candidates remained after the first round of voting, while three candidates dropped out. After the second round, Thomas Mulcair was leading with 38 per cent of the vote, followed by Brian Topp with 25 per cent. In third place was Nathan Cullen with 20 per cent. The last-place finisher Peggy Nash was forced to drop out. The remaining contenders hoped to succeed the late popular leader of the left-wing party, Jack Layton, who died last August after leading the NDP to its best election result in history.

 

Swept by tsunami, Japanese boat reaches Canadian shores
A fishing trawler that was part of the debris from the tsunami in Japan last year has arrived off the Pacific coast of Canada. The rusting trawler was seen within 200 kilometres of the coast. No one is on board. Canadian maritime officials consider the ship to be a danger to maritime traffic. The massive earthquake that struck northeastern Japan sent hundreds of millions of tonnes of debris into the ocean. Small pieces of debris began to arrive off North America's Pacific coast early this year.

Flooding in New Brunswick forces evacuation


Hundreds of people in northern New Brunswick were still waiting on Saturday to learn when they might return home after flooding forced them to flee. Water levels began to decline along the St. John River, but the province's Emergency Measures Organization says there is no timeline for residents' return. About 500 people in the village of Perth-Andover fled on Friday morning after the river spilled its banks. About 50 people also left their homes on the nearby Tobique First Nation overnight. The flooding is blamed on unseasonably warm weather that caused snow to melt rapidly and ice to jam downriver.


Egypt takes step toward new constitution
Egypt's parliament began on Saturday to pick 100 members who will draft a new constitution. The new document could decide which branch of state will rule the country. The constitution will define the balance of power between parliament and president, the role of Islamic sharia law, and also the political role of the military. The military has been in power since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year. Egypt's parliament is dominated by Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which controls most seats in both chambers of the parliament. The party says that it wants to include all sectors of society, including youth, women and Copts. But some Egyptians fear that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to eliminate alternative political views. Under Egypt's interim constitution, the new assembly must draft a new constitution within six months.

U.N. envoy continues peace mission in Russia, China
The United Nations special envoy, Kofi Annan, arrived in Russia on Saturday to continue his efforts to end civil violence in Syria. He will meet President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On Tuesday, Mr. Annan will continue his mediation efforts in Beijing. Both Russia and China have vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning President Bashir al-Assad's regime and its brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says that Mr. Annan will meet Chinese leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday, but provided no names. The U.N. estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed since an uprising began in Syria a year ago.

Rebel Syrian forces announce joint council


The head of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Riad al-Asaad, has announced that all rebel chiefs have formed a joint military council. The group includes Syria's most senior army deserter, General Mustafa al-Sheikh. Meanwhile on Saturday, Syrian troops were making their latest pushagainst rebel-held territory in the north. Ground forces and tanks stormed the town of Saraqeb near Turkey, conducting raids and detaining residents. Saraqeb had been held by army deserters. The British-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least one civilian was killed. The attack came 11 days after troops retook Idlib city, the provincial capital, which had been under rebel control. International condemnation and diplomacy have failed to stop Syria's crisis in which more than 8,000 people are thought to have been killed over the past year.

 

Pope condemns Mexican drug gangs
Pope Benedict is condemning drug gangs operating in Mexico as evil. The pope made the declaration as he arrived in Mexico's central city of Leon on Friday to begin a three-day trip to the country. Cheering crowds greeted him along the route from the airport. Mexican authorities haved deployed 5,400 security forces to protect the Pope. The archbishop of Leon has even called on local drug gangs to agree to a truce. On Saturday, the Pope will meet with President Felipe Calderon and the Roman Catholic faithful. Mexican victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen were disappointed that he had no plans to meet them. The Vatican has been criticized for its management of Mexico's most notorious sex offender, Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ order who died in 2008. Eight out of ten Mexicans have been baptized, but Catholic numbers have dropped in recent years, partly due to the rise of rival religious movements.

North Korea's leader awaits new titles, powers
North Korea's young new leader, Kim Jong-il, could be appointed next month to two powerful posts. The appointments could be announced at a special parliamentary session to mark the centenary of the birth of the state's founder, Kim Il-sung. It's expected that Kim Jong-il will be named secretary general of the party and chairman of the defence commission. The appointments would consolidate his power base. North Korea could also proceed to launch a ballistic rocket carrying a satellite. The United Nations has objected that launching a ballistic rocket contravenes agreements that North Korea made in exchange for food aid.

Coup leaders in Mali seek to consolidate control
Sporadic gunfire was heard in Mali's capital, Bamako, on Saturday, as mutinous soldiers tried to assert their control following their coup on Thursday. A prominent opposition party leader, Kassoum Tapo, was briefly arrested at his home after he criticized the coup plotters. Sporadic looting was reported along with shortages of gasoline and low reserves at cash machines. Mali's borders have been closed since the coup. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure remain unknown, but a member of his entourage and the coup leaders say that the president is safe. European countries have protested the coup by cutting aid to Mali, and the African Union has withdrawn Mali's membership. Canada cut its aid to Mali as well. Mali was one of Canada's biggest aid recipients, receiving CDN$109 million last year. The leader of the coup justified the military's actions, saying that the appalling circumstances under which soldiers had to defend their territory against rebel Tuaregs in the north had sparked the coup.

Roadside bomb kills former Afghan senator
A roadside bomb killed at least five people, including a former senator, in southern Afghanistan on Saturday. The blast struck in Uruzgan province, destroying a pickup truck and killing former senator Haaji Khairo. No one has so far claimed responsibility. Roadside bombs are a main weapon used by Taliban militants.

Dalai Lama rejects China government's accusations
Two media sites controlled by China's government are severely criticizing Tibet's spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama. The Web site, China Tibet Online, and the Xinhua news agency both accused him of what they called Nazi-style racial policies. The media said that the Dalai Lama is advocating segregation along racial lines. The media also blamed him for inciting Tibetans to protest against China's control of Tibet by setting themselves on fire. About 30 Tibetan monks, nuns and ordinary citizens have set themselves on fire in the past year. An official of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharmsala, India, expressed concern that China is using the Dalai Lama as a scapegoat rather than correcting what he called repressive policies. The spokesman, Dicki Choyang, said that the Dalai Lama does not support self-immolation.


SPORTS


TENNIS

Canadian Milos Raonic beat Arnaud Clement of France, 7-6(7), 6-2, on Friday to gain the third round of the Sony-Ericsson Miami Open.

SPEED SKATING

Canada's Christine Nesbitt won her second straight gold medal at the speed skating single-distance world championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Saturday. She won in the 1,000 metres after winning the 1,500-metre title on Friday. Jing Yu of China was second and Margot Boer of the Netherlands was third.

HOCKEY

The Winnipeg Jets rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Washington 4-3 in overtime on Friday. Montreal Canadiens beat Ottawa, 5-1. Toronto Maple Leafs beat New Jersey 4-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of a shootout to give Edmonton a 2-1 victory over Florida.

BASKETBALL

The Toronto Raptors ended New York's five-game winning streak on Friday, beating the Knicks 96-79.

 


CANADA WEATHER
Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, March 25. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 11 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, two. Northwest Territories: variable cloudiness. Yellowknife, minus four. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 23. Alberta: mainly sunny. Edmonton, three. Saskatchewan: mainly cloudy. Regina, five. Manitoba: mainly sunny. Winnipeg, one. Ontario: clearing skies. Toronto: 18. Ottawa, 15. Quebec: mainly cloudy. Montreal, 13. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, 11. Nova Scotia: mainly sunny. Halifax, nine. Prince Edward Island: mainly sunny. Charlottetown, two. Newfoundland: snow flurries. St. John's, minus three.