Sunday, March 11, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Canadian skier dies after spill in Switzerland
Canadian racer Nick Zoricic died from head injuries after crashing heavily in a World Cup skicross event in Switzerland on Saturday. The International Ski Federation said Zoricic died as a result of "severe neurotrauma."

The 29-year-old Zoricic, who was born in Sarajevo but who moved to Toronto hen he was five, crashed directly into safety nets lining the side of the course after going wide over the final jump.

Organizers abandoned Saturday's World Cup events and then scheduled World Cup Finals races at the same venue Sunday.

Zoricic has raced on the World Cup circuit for more than three years and was competing in his 36th event Saturday.

He placed eighth in the 2011 World Championships held at Deer Valley, Utah.

In January, Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, a gold medal favourite for the 2014 Olympics, died nine days after crashing during a training run at Park City, Utah. She too was 29.

Prime Minister promises jobs measures
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promising new "measures" to kick-start the Canadian economy.

He was speaking Friday after release of a disappointing February employment report.

The fact that thousands of people stopped looking allowed the unemployment rate to drop to 7.4 per cent but the economy gave up 28-hundred jobs last month.

Mr. Harper says there will be measures in the upcoming March 29th budget to create jobs and get Canada on what he called "a long-term sustainable track."

New report on police clashes with the mentally ill


Two of every five Canadians who suffer from mental illness get arrested at some point in their life.

The figure is contained in a British Columbia study sponsored by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

It found that one in 20 police dispatches or police encounters involve people with a mental illness.

Results also suggest the mentally ill are over-represented compared to others in police shootings, stun-gun incidents and fatalities.

Big tobacco targetted
Smokers will face Canada's three biggest tobacco companies in a Montreal court starting Monday.

Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson and Hedges, and J.T.I Macdonald are named as defendants in a 22-billion-dollar lawsuit.

The class-action suit was filed by a group of Quebecers, who claim tobacco caused their health problems, including lung cancer.

Second snow death in B.C.
There's been another avalanche death in British Columbia, the second this week.

One person - believed to be a snowmobiler - is dead and three others suffered minor injuries in an avalanche near Sparwood in southeastern B.C.

It happened Friday afternoon, just hours after an avalanche warning was posted for much of B.C.

On Tuesday, a man died after he and four other snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche near Whistler.

Concordia University fined for "generosity"
A Canadian university has been fined for being too generous with high-ranking employees who haveresigned before their contracts expired.

The Quebec government assessed the $2-million fine against Montreal's Concordia University for the severance packages given to senior personnel.

The packages for six employees totalled $3.1-million.

Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp says most of the money spent by universities comes from taxes. And, she adds, there are consequences if public money is spent recklessly.

The fine comes amid an increasingly bitter strike by thousands of college and university students against proposed tuition hikes.

Stratford Festival names new director
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario has announced its next artistic director. Antoni Cimolino will take over from Des McAnuff at the end of the 2012 season. Cimolino is in his 25th season with the festival as an actor and director. He was appointed general director in 2006.

Spring ahead!
This is the weekend most Canadians will lose an hour of sleep as they switch from standard time to daylight saving time.

The major Canadian exception is most of the province of Saskatchewan, which doesn't observe daylight saving time.

Standard time - an innovation credited to Canadian railway engineer and inventor Sandford Fleming - returns to all of Canada on November 4th.


Envoy Kofi Annan pleads for end to violence in Syria


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday that his country was ready for "any honest effort" to end a year of unrest, but blamed "terrorist groups" for blocking a solution. The meeting between Mr. Annan and Mr. al-Assad came against a backdrop of fierce fighting between troops and rebel fighters, particularly in the northwestern province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, where the Free Syrian Army has been especially active. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops killed 16 rebels in an ambush in the province on Saturday while the rebels killed four soldiers and captured five. Nationwide, it said, 31 people were killed, adding to a death toll that exceeds 8,500. On Saturday, Syria warned of legal measures against media organizations who allow their reporters to sneak into the country. Three Western journalists have been killed in Syria over the past year. Two of them, veteran U.S. reporter Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, were killed in a rocket attack in the rebel city of Homs on February 22. Two others French citizen, journalist Edith Bouvier and photographer William Daniels, were wounded in the same attack.

 

Russians accused of soft-pedalling situation in Syria
Arab and Russian foreign ministers met in Cairo on Saturday over Syria, amid splits over how to move forward to resolve a crisis that has left thousands dead in a year.

The meetings come as the West and the Arab world pile pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's regime to end a year-old uprising spiralling into all-out civil war. Beijing and Moscow have used their veto powers as permanent members of the UN Security Council to block resolutions condemning the crackdown, because they singled out Assad for blame.

"Today, the most urgent is to end all violence irrespective of where it came from," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Arab counterparts. He said both the government and the armed groups had to vacate Syrian cities and towns.

But Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, said the killings of civilians in Syria amounted to "genocide" and that a ceasefire was "not enough."

Air strikes in Yemen target terrorists
U.S. drone attacks have killed at least 25 al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen. One of those killed was reported to be a leader. A Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more fighters. The air strikes were the biggest since Yemen's new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office early this year, unseating former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Local residents in Jaar, a southern town seized by militants last year, said Yemen's air force had killed 20 al-Qaeda-linked fighters. But a spokesman for Partisans of Islamic Law denied its fighters were killed.

Russian protesters back on streets
Russians are marching by the thousands in Moscow to protest Vladimir Putin's win in last Sunday's presidential election.

The protesters claim the election was riddled with fraud, allowing Putin to re-gain the post he held from 2000 to 2008.

A similar rally in Moscow last Monday resulted in 250 arrests.

However, in a sign that the opposition is struggling to maintain its momentum, the rally gathered only a fraction of previous rallies in Moscow.

One of the protest leaders, liberal politician Vladimir Ryzhkov, told the rally that 25,000 people had come, but western journalists say the figure appeared to be well below this.

Tibetan leader blames China for suicides
The head of Tibet's government in exile has blamed China for a recent wave of self-immolations by Tibetans, saying they have been denied the right to hold conventional protests.

Lobsang Sangay says Tibetans were left with no choice but to take extreme action by setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule.

He says there have been 14 cases of self-immolations reported in the past 2-1/2 months to protest what he called China's suppression of Tibetans' religion and culture.

Sangay's statement came Saturday as Tibetans observed two significant anniversaries: the unsuccessful 1959 revolt that caused their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to flee Tibet to India, and deadly anti-government riots that rocked the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in 2008.

Japan poised to remember
Solemn commemorations are planned in Japan on Sundayto mark the first anniversary ofthe devastating earthquake and tsunami.

There'll be a moment of silence at 2:46 pm local time, the moment the magnitude-nine tremor hit, spawning a seven-metre tsunami.

The twin disasters left about 20-thousand people dead or missing, and triggered Japan's worst-ever nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. One year later, 80-thousand people remain displaced from their homes.

A formal ceremony in the capital will be the centrepiece of the official remembrance, with speeches from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Emperor Akihito.

The 78-year-old emperor, who underwent heart surgery three weeks ago, will attend 20 minutes of the hour-long ceremony with Empress Michiko, the royal household said Saturday.

Some trains in and around Tokyo will be stopped to observe the silence.

Anti-nuclear protests were scheduled in Tokyo and Fukushima, as well as other parts of the country, while candle-lighting ceremonies were expected to commemorate the victims of the natural disaster.

Violence erupts in Gaza
In the deadliest 24 hours in the border area in more than three years, Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed 15 Palestinians, including a militant group chief.

A Palestinian riding a motorcycle was killed and two others were wounded in an Israeli air raid close to the southern town of Rafah near the border with Egypt on Saturday afternoon.

Two men also on a motorbike were killed earlier the same day in another raid on the town of Khan Yunis, according to Palestinian medics.

After that report the Israeli military said an aircraft had attacked "a terrorist squad" planning to fire rockets.

The raids came, the army said, as Palestinian militants fired more than 90 rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel since Friday morning.

Israeli military sources say the Palestinian barrage wounded four people, one of them seriously.

Nigeria probes murder of two foreigners
Nigeria security on Saturday interrogated the alleged kidnappers of two Westerners killed during a failed British-Nigerian rescue bid. Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and his British colleague Chris McManus, died on Thursday during the failed rescue. They had been held in captivity for almost a year. An autopsy was made after Mr. Lamolinara's body was returned to Rome on Saturday. The examination established that he died from a shot in his head. The body showed three other bullet wounds. The radical Islamist Boko Haram sect has denied responsibility for the kidnappings. Eight suspects were flown to the capital Abuja following the joint military operation in the northern town of Sokoto. A security agent said that one of the suspects had confessed. Italy has criticizing Britain for authorizing the raid without first informing Italy's government.

Female students stage rare protest in Saudi Arabia


In a rare display of dissent by women in Saudi Arabia, thousands of students at an all-female university boycotted classes on Saturday. They were protesting against poor services. The university had cancelled cleaning services, which led to trash accumulating and consequently causing an odour. It was the second protest at King Khalid university in the town of Abha. On Wednesday, security forces broke up a demonstration there. Unconfirmed reports say that dozens were injured.

Slovakia's former prime minister to return to power
Unofficial exit polls following Slovakia's election on Saturday showed that the centre-left Smer party had won a parliamentary election with almost 40 per cent of the vote. Former prime minister Robert Fico, leader of Smer, will need the support of another party to govern. The Christian Democrats (KDH) were second with about ten per cent. Mr. Fico could decide to form a strong, stable coalition with just one party, which would give the Christian Democrats or ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid party considerable influence. Or he could form a coalition with several parties that would be unlikely to survive more than a year.


SPORTS
SPEED SKATING

Canada's Christine Nesbitt won a gold medal in the 1500 metresat the final World Cup speedskating event of the season in Berlin. The win gave her the overall 1500-metre World Cup title. Nesbitt also won a bronze in the 500 metres, finishing behind winner Yu Jing of China, who claimed the overalltitle. Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea was second. Canadian Olivier Jean captured gold at the men's short-track world championships in Shanghai. He was followed closely in the 500 metres by teammate Charles Hamelin in second.

SKIING

Maria Hoefl-Riesch won a women's World Cup slalom on Saturday, beating Slovakian Veronika Zuzulova by just one hundredth of a second. Hoefl-Riesch finished her two runs in a combined time of 1 minute, 49.85 seconds to win the 23rd World Cup race of her career. Zuzulova led after the first run. Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon was third, 0.11 behind Hoefl-Riesch.

CURLING

Canadian Brendan Bottcher gained the world junior men's curling final on Saturday after he advanced with a 9-3 win in eight ends over Sweden in the Page 1 versus 2 playoff game. Canada and Sweden will stage a rematch for the gold medal. The Swedes defeated Norway 8-4 in the semifinal contest later Saturday.

HOCKEY

The Calgary Flames made sure the Western Conference playoff race got even tighter on Friday. Miikka Kiprusoff made 42 saves as the Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots and was perfect in the shootout for his 36th victory of the season as the Penguins got past Florida 2-1.


CANADA WEATHER
Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, March 10. British Columbia will have showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be seven degrees Celsius. The Yukon: light snow. Whitehorse, minus three. Northwest Territories: mainly sunny. Yellowknife, minus nine. Nunavut: mainly cloudy. Iqaluit, minus 20. Alberta: increasing cloudiness. Edmonton, six. Saskatchewan: variable cloudiness. Regina, ten. Manitoba: mainly sunny. Winnipeg, six. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: 14. Ottawa, 11. Quebec: mainly sunny. Montreal, 11. New Brunswick: snow flurries. Fredericton, five. Nova Scotia: mainly cloudy. Halifax, four. Prince Edward Island: snow flurries. Charlottetown, two. Newfoundland: snow flurries. St. John's, minus five.