Tuesday, April 17, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Canadian PM lobbies for regional membership
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hoping to use one of Canada's deepest friendships in Latin America to help secure entry into a very attractive Pacific free-trade zone. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was one of the key items on the agenda Monday as Harper met Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. Mr. Harper was warmly received in the Chilean capital with a military honour guard at the presidential palace, La Moneda. Fifteen years ago, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien signed the first free-trade deal in the region with the Chilean government. The Conservatives are now moving to enhance the deal, making it match recent agreements abroad that include more items, including procurement and financial services. Canada is already the country with the largest investment in Chile's mining industry. But even more attractive to Canada than more bilateral trade is the prospect of tapping into the proposed TPP, a zone that would include countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. The United States, Australia and New Zealand have been opposing Canada's entry into the negotiations because of the government's supply-management system protecting dairy, egg and poultry farmers.

Canada asks Iran to spare Canadian life
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, is calling on Iran to spare the life of an Iranian-Canadian who is facing execution in Tehran. He says Canada is concerned by indications that Hamid Ghassemi-Shall's execution may be carried out imminently. Mr. Baird urged the Iranian government to grant clemency to Ghassemi-Shall on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. The 42-year-old Ghassemi-Shall migrated to Canada after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. He was arrested in 2008 while visiting his family, later charged with espionage, then sentenced to death in 2009. An Iranian court rejected an appeal.

NDP accuses govt. of endangering public with cuts
The leader of Canada's official Opposition New Democratic Party, Tom Mulcair, is accusing the federal government of putting Canadians at risk by cutting public service jobs. He told New Democrats in Hamilton, ON, that it's clear the governing Conservative Party has the wrong priorities. He pointed to the government's move to cut food inspectors after people died from tainted meat. Mr. Mulcair says it's easy for governments to pick on public servants, but they should remember those workers provide services that are needed.

NS extends fracking review
The Nova Scotia government has extended its review of fracking for natural gas to mid-2014 to consider technical reviews underway in Canada and the United States. The province says no fracking will be approved during the review, but traditional oil and gas operations will continue. Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau says it's important to have the appropriate rules in place to protect the environment. The Environment Department says a draft review will be released in mid-2014. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial method of drilling for natural gas that involves forcing water and chemicals into rock to release gas.

RCMP reacts to harassment complaints


One-hundred officers of Canada's federal police force based in the province of British Columbia are going to be trained to investigate sexual harassment complaints within the force. The move comes in response to a growing number of lawsuits by female members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the province. Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens says an internal assessment has found that gender-based discrimination occurs.

Former Alberta premier intervenes in election campaign
Political experts in the western Canadian province of Alberta say former Premier Peter Lougheed's endorsement of Progressive Conservative Party leader Alison Redford shows the party is in serious trouble. Experts say they cannot recall a situation where Mr. Lougheed publicly announced his support for a premier during an election. During a television interview on Sunday, Mr. Lougheed urged Conservatives who left the party to join the Wildrose to reconsider. Wildrose is favoured to defeat the Conservatives in the April 25 election. Mr. Lougheed was premier when the Conservatives began their long hold on power in 1971.


Afghan leader blames intelligence lapse for attacks
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that a coordinated Taliban attack showed a "failure" by Afghan intelligence and especially by NATO, as

heavy street fighting between insurgents and security forces came to an end after 18 hours. Battles that broke out at midday on Sunday gripped the

city's central districts through the night, with large explosions and gunfire lighting up alleys and streets. Though the death toll was relatively low considering the scale of the assault, it highlighted the ability of militants to strike high-profile targets in the heart of the city even after more than 10 years of war.

Mr. Karzai's office said 36 insurgents were killed in the attacks, wich paralyzed Kabul's government district and also targeted three other provinces in what the Taliban called the start of a spring offensive.

World Bank chooses U.S.-favoured candidate
The World Bank on Monday chose Korean-born American health expert Jim Yong Kim as its new president, maintaining Washington's grip on the job and leaving developing countries questioning the selection process. Mr. Kim, 52, won the job over Nigeria's widely respected finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, with the support of Washington's allies in Western Europe, Japan, Canada and some emerging market economies, including Russia, Mexico and South Korea. Unlike previous World Bank elections, the decision was not unanimous. Mr. Kim, the president of Dartmouth College, will assume his new

post on July 1.

Norwegian mMass murderer claims self-defence
A right-wing fanatic admitted Monday to a bomb-and-shooting massacre that killed 77 people in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges,saying he was acting in self-defence. On the first day of his long-awaited trial, Anders Behring Breivik rejected the authority of the court as it sought to assign responsibility for the July 22 attacks that shocked Norway. Eight people were killed in Breivik's bombing of Oslo's government district and 69 were slain in his shooting massacre at the left-leaning Labor Party's youth camp on Utoya island outside the capital. Breivik has said the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.

Resident flee Guinea-Bissau capital
Frightened residents fled the capital of Guinea-Bissau on Monday and some stockpiled supplies after military chiefs shut the country's air and sea space

following their coup four days ago. Former colonial power Portugal denounced what it called an illegitimate military coup and said it had dispatched a military force in case it became necessary to evacuate its citizens. The prospect of Portuguese planes and warships appearing off the coast prompted Guinea-Bissau's military chiefs to shut the country's air and sea space to all unauthorized traffic. In last week's coup, seized the country's civilian leaders and cut short a presidential election. With Guinea-Bissau's army leaders appealing for calm, banks and government offices shut down in the coastal capital Bissau and travellers packed the bus station seeking transport to safer locations in the interior.

Argentine govt. to expropriate energy firm
Argentina's government said on Monday it would expropriate 51 percent of leading energy company YPF, a move that could lead to further economic

isolation of the country. YPF, controlled by Spain's Repsol, has been under intense pressure from the center-left government and its share price has plunged due to months of speculation about a government takeover. President Cristina Fernandez said the government would ask Congress, which she controls, to approve a bill to expropriate 51 percent of the energy company, saying energy was a "vital resource." Until recently, YPF had a relatively harmonious relationship with Mrs. Fernandez.

European court rules in Russia massacre
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday that Russia had violated the rights of relatives of Poles who were killed by the Soviet secret police in 1940, and described the Katyn massacre as a "war crime". The ruling followed a complaint by 15 descendants of 12 victims over the adequacy of Russia's enquiry into the massacre, in which some 22,000 Polish officers and intellectuals were murdered without trial, often by shooting them from behind. After initially blaming the killings on Poland's wartime Nazi occupiers, the Soviet Union accepted responsibility in 1990, beginning an investigation that was abandoned in 2004. In recent years, Russia has released some documents regarding the massacre and the later investigation, but others still remain classified and inaccessible to the Polish side.


Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 12,037.59 - 3. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $102.95 - .12.


Sports
SKATING

Two-time world figure skating champion Patrick Chan has

split with coach Christy Krall.

Krall resigned from Chan's team two weeks after he won the world

title in Nice, France.

Chan has won the last two world championships.


Weather
British Columbia on Tuesday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 8, Yellowknife -7, Iqaluit -14. Alberta, Saskatchewan: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 3, Regina 10, Winnipeg 11. Ontario, Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 10, Ottawa 11, Montreal 13. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 24, Halifax 14, Charlottetown 20. St. John's 16.