Saturday, March 31, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 30 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Flaherty calls budget 'modest'
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is calling the Conservative government's austere federal budget "modest" compared to more severe fiscal measures taken in other countries and selling it as the way to keep Canada on track to outperform them as it did during the recent recession.The Conservative government's 2012 budget, tabled Thursday, aims to trim the country's deficit by $8.5 billion, to $24.9 billion for 2011-12 and eliminating it by 2015. It also calls for an end to production of the money-losing penny and more than $5 billion in cuts to annual federal spending by 2014-15, with 19,200 federal jobs, or 4.8 per cent of the federal workforce, to be eliminated.
As a further cost-cutting measure, eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will gradually move to 67 from 65, beginning in 2023. The minister conceded the budget will result in some net 12,000 job losses and spell the end of some government programs. But about 70 per cent of the $5.2 billion in cuts comes from within the government itself. Mr. Flaherty says Canada should be comparing itself to the strong emerging economies of China India and Brazil rather than the recessionary economies of Europe. To keep pace with those economies, the budget makes changes to increase innovation, job growth and immigration, while engaging in regulatory and pension reform.

Physicians oppose high retirement age
The Canadian Medical Association says the Canadian government's federal budget's plan to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years will hurt many low-income seniors. The CMA also says the move will increase health care costs. CMA President Dr. John Haggie says raising the age for eligibility means many seniors will be forced to choose between paying for food and paying for prescription drugs. Anyone currently older than 54 won't be affected by changes to the eligibility age for OAS. The changes won't start being phased in until April 2023 and will be done gradually over six years

Accused military spy stays detained
A Halifax navy intelligence officer accused in a rare case of espionage remained in custody Friday after being denied bail by a provincial court judge.
Judge Barbara Beach turned down Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle's application for bail, outlining her reasons in a decision that took roughly 40 minutes to read. A broad publication ban was ordered covering evidence presented at Delisle's bail hearing Wednesday. Delisle, charged with communicating information to a foreign entity that could harm national interests, has been in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility since his arrest in

Ottawa draws bead on 'charities'
The Canadian government is asking is tax collection agency Revenue Canada to take a close look at charities that get into political activities, especially if they use foreign money to do it. The majority Conservatives angry over what they see as foreign cash being used to bankroll Canadian environmentalists fighting developments such as the Northern Gateway pipeline. The budget says the Revenue Canada will get more powers to monitor political activities by charities and to require reporting of foreign financing for them. Charities are allowed to engage in limited, non-partisan politics, but the Conservative government suggested some may be overstepping the boundaries. A lobby group promoting the Canadian oil industry applauded the moves in the budget.

Quebec tells language cops to start paying attention
Facing a barrage of linguistic controversies, the Quebec government has announced it wants the provincial language watchdog to bite more often. Despite a hiring freeze across Quebec's public service, the government will hire 43 employees at the Office quebecois de la langue francaise to fill vacancies left by departures. The government is also asking language inspectors to be more proactive and take action not only after they get complaints, but also beforehand. Quebec laws allows the agency to take legal action and seek fines from commercial establishments that don't respect rules like French predominance on signs. But recent news reports have offered anecdotes of the laws being ignored in Montreal, and that has created political headaches for the Charest Liberals. The governing party, heavily supported by Anglos, has faced severe criticism from opponents who accuse it of being too weak in protecting French. Language controversies began ramping up last summer, when the Harper government announced the hiring of people who can't speak French as Supreme Court justice, auditor general, and senior government spokesman.


UN envoy expects Syria to implement peace plan
The spokesman for international envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, says he expects President Bashar al-Assad to implement his peace plan immediately. Mr. Assad has promised to work to make a success of the six-point peace plan drawn up by the UN-Arab League envoy. The plan calls for a commitment to stop all armed violence, a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, media access to all areas affected by the fighting, an inclusive Syrian-led political process, a right to demonstrate, and release of arbitrarily detained people. Mr. Annan is also working to persuade the Syrian opposition to "lay down their arms and start talking." The envoy plans to visit Iran, Syria's chief ally in the Middle East, although the date has not been fixed. Iran has provided Mr. Assad's regime with political and material support during the crackdown on protesters by Damascus, which the UN estimates has left more than 9,000 people dead since March last year.

U.S. to move ahead with new Iran sanctions
The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama is moving ahead with tough new sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's oil exports after determining there is enough crude on world markets to take the step without harming U.S. allies. Mr. Obama's move allows the U.S. to go forward with sanctions on foreign banks that continue to purchase oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Islamic Republic's oil purchases, from the global economy.
U.S. officials hope stepping up economic pressure will both push Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear program and convince Israel to give sanctions time to take hold before pursuing a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Iran denies it. The congressionally mandated sanctions target foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, barring them from operating in the U.S. to buy or sell Iranian oil. The penalties are to take effect at the end of June, around the same time Europe's embargo on Iranian oil kicks in.

Israeli security forces fire on Palestinian demonstrators
Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian stone-throwers on Friday as annual Land Day rallies turned violent. Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to Jerusalem" to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against government policies that they say has stripped them of land. Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of any protesters nearing the border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were killed there in Land Day protests.
However, violence flared at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Witnesses also reported disturbances at gates leading into the Old City, with police looking to limit access to the revered al-Aqsa Mosque. Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict, as Palestinians want the city's eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as capital of a future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and insists the city remain united.

Mali revolt deepens
Separatist rebels in northern Mali have taken control of the strategic town of Kidal in the latest threat to the country's stability. The rebels are Tuaregs who've been waging violence for months. There are signs that the rebels are preparing further offensives. Members of Mali's military staged a coup earlier this month to protest against President Amadou Toumani Touré's handling of the rebels. But military observers say that Mali's forces are too small and ineffective. Coup leaders are appealing for outside help. There's little chance of receiving any. The African Union has expelled Mali in protest against the coup, and some countries, including Canada, have cut their aid. Mali's neighbours are threatening to close their borders unless the coup leaders give up power.

Euro zone ministers build up financial firewall
Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Friday to increase their financial firewall to 700 billion euros to ward off a new flare-up of Europe's national debt crisis, drawing a positive initial reaction from markets and G20 partners. The 17-nation currency area agreed to combine two rescue funds to make 500 billion euros of new funds available in case of emergency until mid-2013, on top of 200 billion euros already committed to bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The executive European Commission had proposed raising the total to 940 billion euros, with 740 billion in new money, but EU paymaster Germany resisted a bigger increase. International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde welcomed the decision, saying it would help the global lender raise more resources to fight contagion from the European crisis if needed. The euro rose and Spanish bond yields fell as investors weighed the firewall move and a draconian Spanish austerity budget.

Myanmar opposition leader deprecates fairness of election
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday that elections in Myanmar would not be "genuinely free and fair", sounding a note of caution over her landmark bid for a seat in parliament. The Nobel laureate, who spent most of the past 22 years as a political prisoner, complained of a series of problems, including "many, many cases of intimidation" as well as the vandalism of signboards. The National League for Democracy leader said the polls were boosting people's interest in politics in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year. The polls mark the first time that Suu Kyi is standing for a seat in parliament, and she has drawn huge crowds on the campaign trail. The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 but was never allowed to take office.

Japan would intercept North Korean rocket
Japan's defence minister on Friday issued orders to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea next month if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan. The order from Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan's national security council. It followed instructions issued earlier in the week for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory. North Korea has said the aim of the launch is to send a satellite into orbit. Japan, the United States and other countries claim it is also seeking to test the capabilities of its long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.

Venezuelan leader brandishes threat of more nationalization
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to nationalize banks and private companies that support the opposition ahead of October elections. Mr. Chavez spoke at a rally Thursday after returning from Cuba, where he had received follow-up cancer treatment after a surgery there last month to remove a malignant tumor. His recent health woes have cast a shadow over his bid for a third presidential term, in which he will face off against unified opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, 39, in the Oct. 7 vote. During his 13 years in power Mr. Chavez has nationalized several major industries and threatened to take control of private firms. He underwent surgery in Havana on Feb. 26 to remove a cancerous tumor around his pelvis, the same area where Cuban surgeons extracted a malignant, baseball-sized tumor in June.


NS has bonbon for Irving
The government of the east coast province of Nova Scotia is giving more than $300 million to Irving Shipbuilding to help it prepare for the construction of the Royal Canadian Navy's next fleet of vessels. Irving Shipbuilding says it will spend between $5 million and $10 million annually on improving its operations over the next 30 years. The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard in Nova Scotia was the successful bidder for a $25-billion contract to build 21 combat vessels. The contract is expected to maintain a steady flow of work at the shipyard over the next 20 to 30 years.



Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,392 + 53. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.33. Oil: $103.07 - .29.


Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave a big thumbs up on Friday to the new team figure skating competition that will be introduced at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Less than 24 hours after capturing their second ice dance gold medal at the world championships, the couple's eyes lit up at the thought of winning two Olympic titles in Russia. Ten nations, with each featuring a male and female single skater, a pairs team and an ice dance couple, will compete over three days to win the first gold medal of the figure skating event in the Russian Black Sea resort.


British Columbia on Saturday: rain south, sun north, high C9 Vancouver. Yukon: sun. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse 5, Yellowknife 2, Iqaluit -5. Alberta: mix sun cloud north, rain south. Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 10, Regina, Winnipeg 16. Ontario: rain north, snow south. Quebec: sun. Toronto 8, Ottawa 9, Montreal 7. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: mix sun cloud. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton, Halifax 7, Charlottetown, St. John's -1.

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