Monday, March 26, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 25 March 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Canada and Japan to open free-trade talks
Canada and Japan have agreed to open free-trade talks. Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls the talks a historic opportunity for creating jobs and increasing economic growth. Mr. Harper spoke on Sunday in Tokyo after meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Japan is the world's third-largest economy and Canada's fifth-biggest trading partner. Japanese trade with Canada is about 24 billion dollars a year. Mr. Harper estimates that under a free-trade deal, Canadian exports to Japan could increase by two-thirds. One of Canada's main objectives will be to gain greater access to the Japanese agriculture market. But Japan closely guards its agriculture sector and Canadian negotiators expect to face stiff opposition. Japan is interested in Canadian energy exports, especially natural gas. Mr. Harper also announced that Japan has agreed to allow Canada's military to establish a small supply base for use in emergencies. The base would be part of a joint effort to enhance defence and security. Mr. Harper's accompanying delegation had hoped that Japan would also agree to drop its restrictions on Canadian beef imports, but Japan says it's still considering the question. Restrictions were imposed several years ago after mad-cow disease was found in some Canadian cattle. On Monday, Mr. Harper will visit the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged region of Sendai. Later in the week, he will fly to South Korea to participate in a major international nuclear security conference.

Thomas Mulcair wins NDP leadership
Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party has a new leader. Thomas Mulcair was chosen on the fourth ballot at the NDP convention in Toronto on Saturday. He succeeds the late Jack Layton, who died last August after leading the party earlier in the year to its biggest election victory. Mr. Mulcair defeated six other candidates. The final ballot involved him and his main rival, Brian Topp. Mr. Mulcair is a 57-year-old lawyer who in 2007 achieved a breakthrough election victory in a riding in Montreal in the province of Quebec, where the left-wing NDP had long been unable to gain any electoral support. Before joining the NDP, he was a Liberal Party member of Quebec's provincial legislature, serving as environment minister before quiting as a result of a dispute with Premier Jean Charest. Despite his victory on Saturday, many NDP delegates at the convention fear that his policies lean too far toward the political centre rather than maintain the party's traditional left-wing slant.

Aid offered to victims of New Brunswick floods
New Brunswick's government is promising help for people whose properties were damaged by flood waters. It's estimated that floods caused about CDN$25 million in damage. Premier David Alward visited the northern village of Perth-Andover to survey the damage. Waters have started to recede in the village, where floods damaged government buildings and about 150 properties. Some 500 residents are still awaiting permission to return to their homes. Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors says residents can begin registering their flood damage and filing an assistance claim on Monday.

White supremacist rallies fizzle
Foes of racism confronted white supremacists who held rallies in the Canadian cities of London and Edmonton on Saturday. In London, both groups dispersed when police started to move in. In Edmonton, white pride demonstrators retreated into a subway station after exchanging insults with a larger group of anti-racist protesters.


Russia sees 'last chance' to avoid Syrian civil war

Russia's president, Dmitri Medvedev, says that the last chance to avoid a long, bloody civil war in Syria depends on the success of Kofi Annan's mission. Mr. Annan is a special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League who has been trying to mediate an end to the violence in Syria. In a meeting with Mr. Annan in Moscow on Sunday, Mr. Medvedev offered what he called his full support to Mr. Annan's mission. Following the meeting, Mr. Annan said that Syria has an opportunity to work with him to allow humanitarian assistance to reach citizens suffering from the government crackdown, and to embark on a political solution to the crisis. Mr. Annan will next take his mission to China. Russia and China both vetoed resolutions in the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syria's regime for using violence against anti-government protesters over the past year. The U.N. estimates that more than eight thousand people were killed.

U.S. President warns of North Korean missile launch
U.S. President Barack Obama says that China's handling of its ally, North Korea, is ineffective and should change. Mr. Obama is urging China to use its influence over North Korea more forcefully. He spoke as tension in the region is rising in anticipation of a North Korean satellite launch. The United States and South Korea believe that the launch will serve as a ballistic missile test. Both countries say the launch would violate North Korea's promise to halt long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and uranium enrichment in return for food aid. Mr. Obama spoke in Seoul, where he will attend a global summit on nuclear security. He intends to raise the issue of North Korea with China's leader, Hu Jintao, when the two meet on Monday.

Islamists dominate Egyptian constitutional panel

Islamists comprise the majority on a panel that will draft Egypt's new constitution. The names of the 100-member panel were released on Sunday, one day after parliamentarians chose them. Of the 50 lawmakers on the panel, 37 are Islamists. The other 50 are public figures who include enough Islamists to achieve a comfortable overall majority in the panel. A small number of Christians and women were selected, but there were only a few names from the revolutionary movement. One glaring ommission was Mohamed El Baradei, who was one of the most outspoken critics of former president Hosni Mubarek and a diplomat with an international reputation. Secular and liberal Egyptians fear that a panel dominated by Islamists will ignore minoricy concerns when drafting the constitution. The constitution will determine the balance of power between Egypt's previously president and parliament, and define the role of religion and minority rights.

France investigating possible accomplices of terrorist killer
Prosecutors in France have opened an inquiry into possible accomplices of Mohamed Merah, the confessed killer of seven people in Toulouse this month. Prosecutorsare looking at anyone who might have helped Merah plan the attacks, which killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers. Among those under investigation is Merah's brother, Abdelkader. Prosecutors are trying to determine what role Abdelkader Merah played in acquiring his younger brother's arsenal and financing his trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. The older brother's girlfriend was released early on Sunday without charge, and the Merah brothers' mother was released on Friday night, also without charge. Mohamed Merah was killed after police stormed his apartment in Toulouse earlier this week following a 32-hour standoff in which he confessed to the killings.

South Ossetia holds second leadership vote

Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia held another leadership election on Sunday, three months after a ballot ended in protests. In November, the court disqualified a candidate, Alla Dzhioyeva, who had won against a rival supported by Russia's government. In protest, Ms. Dzhioyeva led ten days of street demonstrations. Last month, she was treated in hospital for what she said were injuries from a beating by police. Ms. Dzhioyeva was not among the four candidates standing for election on Sunday. The candidates include South Ossetia's Moscow representative Dmitry Medoyev, the former head of the local KGB security service Leonid Tibilov, Communist Party leader Stanislav Kochiyev as well as human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev. Around 34,000 people are registered to vote, but Georgia claims that only 15,000 people now live in the region as a result of "ethnic cleansing" of the Georgian population during the war and because of economic migration.

United States compensates Afghan victims of shooting rampage
The United Stateshas compensated victims of a shooting rampage in Afghanistan earlier this month. Afghan officials say that 16 people were killed and scores of others were wounded when a gunman opened fire on villages in Kandahar province. Nine children and women were among those killed. Sergeant Robert Bales has been charged with 17 murders. It's not clear why the number of dead differs from the Afghan government's. Each family of those killedreceived $50,000, while those who were injured each received $10,000

Heavy security for Greek Independence Day
In an unprecedented show of force, thousands of police blocked streets across central Athens on Sunday to prevent the public from participating in the annual Independence Day parade. The public was banned from a large part of the route, including the area in front of Parliament reserved for politicians and other officials. The government feared protests by activists opposed to the government's austerity program. Wounded war veterans boycotted the parade for the first time, objecting to austerity measures that have seen salaries and pensions cut and taxes repeatedly raised. Security was also increased for parades in other cities across Greece. Some municipalities broke with tradition and provided no stands for local politicians. The parade marks Greece's uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

Facing investigation, former Irish prime minister quits party
Ireland's former prime minister, Bertie Ahern, is resigning from his Fianna Fail party to avoid being expelled. Mr. Ahern is facing an investigation into allegations that he accepted about $260,000 from businessmen while he was in office. A three-judge panel says that Mr. Ahern's explanation for how he received the money was simply unbelievable. Mr. Ahern has rejected the panel's finding and vows to vindicate his reputation.

New leader chosen in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a new leader. Leung Chun-ying was chosen as chief executive on Sunday by a majority of 1,200 business leaders and elite members of acommittee largely loyal to Beijing. Ordinary Hong Kong residents were not allowed to vote. Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters demonstrated at the convention centre where the vote was held. They waved banners and chanted slogans calling for a democratic election of the chief executive. Police used pepper spray to stop demonstrators who tried to push past barricades. Mr. Leung is a real-estate surveyor. He defeated Henry Tang, who was initially the front-runner who had the support of Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-Ching. But Mr. Tang lost support as a result of gaffes and scandals. A third candidate, Albert Ho, had no chance of winning. Mr. Leung will take office on July 1, succeeding Donald Tsang, who is barred from another term.

Huge crowd joins Pope for Mass in Mexico

Tens of thousands of Mexicans gathered in Salao on Sunday to attend an open-air Mass led by Pope Benedict XVI. The mass was set in the shadow of the Christ the King monument, an important symbol of Mexican Catholicism. The Pope flew over the monument in a helicopter on his way to the Mass in nearby Bicentennial Park. A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Benedict wanted to bless the statue, which Pope John Paul II had always wanted to visit. The bronze monument of Christ is a reminder of the 1926-1929 Roman Catholic uprising against the government and its anti-clerical laws that prohibited public Masses. On Saturday, Pope Benedict met with President Felipe Calderon in Guanajuato city. But the Pope's visit dissatisfied activists concerned about the church's treatment of children and sexual abuse. Victims of a Roman Catholic clergyman, Marcial Maciel, launched a book on Saturday containing documents from the
Vatican archives showing that Holy See officials knew for decades that Maciel was a drug addict who sexually abused his seminarians. The pope will go to Cuba on Monday.

Israeli charged in human trafficking operation
An Israeli man is facing criminal charges of helping to capture African migrants as part of a human trafficking ring. The suspect is a Bedouin who allegedly collected thousands of dollars in ransom for captives held by Bedouin tribesmen in Egypt's neighbouring Sinai desert. The traffickers threatened to kill the captives or remove their kidneys for sale if their relatives in Israel failed to pay. Some 50,000 Africans have entered Israel in recent years, fleeing conflict and poverty in search of safety and jobs. Smugglers offer to help them to navigate the Sinai desert, reach Israel's border and sneak across. Israel is building an electronic barrier along the 230-kilometre
border with Egypt to keep out militants and migrants. The Sinai has become increasingly lawless since Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year.



Canada's Heather Nedohin won the bronze medal at the women's world curing championship on Sunday in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her team defeated South Korea's Ji-Sun Kim, 9-6. South Korea had knocked Canada out of contention for the gold medal on Saturday, but the Canadian team won the rematch.

In the National Hockey League on Saturday, Vancouver beat Colorado,3-2 in overtime, Ottawa defeated Pittsburgh, 8-4, Philadelphia beat Montreal, 4-1, Dallas defeated Calgary, 4-1, the N.Y. Rangers beat Toronto, 4-3 in a shootout and Nashville defeated Winnipeg, 3-1. On Sunday, Quebec City announced that construction on a new NHL-style arena would begin this September. The $400-million arena will hold about 18,000 people. Construction is expected to be complete by September 2015. But the city is still looking for an NHL hockey team to use the arena.

Canadian Milos Raonic withdrew from the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, on Sunday, because of an ankle injury suffered during training. Raonic was supposed to play fourth seed Andy Murray in a third-round match. Raonic and his doubles partner Kevin Anderson quit their Saturday doubles match after three games when the Canadian could not go continue playing against third seeds Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic.




Here is Canada's weather forecast for Monday, March 26. British Columbia will have showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be eight degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny. Whitehorse, one. Northwest Territories: variable cloudiness. Yellowknife, minus three. Nunavut: sunny. Iqaluit, minus 20. Alberta: overcast. Edmonton, four. Saskatchewan: variable cloudiness. Regina, 15. Manitoba: rain. Winnipeg, six. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: five. Ottawa, three. Quebec: drizzle. Montreal, three. New Brunswick: rain. Fredericton, three. Nova Scotia: overcast. Halifax, four. Prince Edward Island: flurries. Charlottetown, four. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, zero.


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