Sunday, April 22, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 21 April 2012
Canadian International Sports Weather

Wildrose Party showing strength as Alberta prepares for election
Opinion polls show that the Canadian province of Alberta could see a change of government for the first time in about 40 years. Albertans vote in a provincial election on Monday. Polls show that the Wildrose Party is mounting a strong challenge to the Progressive Conservative Party that has governed for decades. Alberta Premier Alison Redford says that she could work with the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party in the legislature, but not with the rightwing Wildrose party. Ms. Redford says her party's values clash too much with those of the Wildrose. Alberta's NDP leader, Brian Mason, is calling on all parties to commit to do away with patronage in government appointments. Mr. Mason says the Progressive Conservative government has turned public appointments into political rewards. Mr. Mason suggests there must be open public applications for all appointments.

More arrests as protests continue in Montreal
Police in Montreal arrested between 50 and 75 people on Saturday in connection with a protest at a downtown convention centre. The centre was also the site of student protests and arrests the day before, when Premier Jean Charest was inside making a speech. Six people including four police officers were injured. Students have been staging public protests for weeks in an attempt to persuade the provincial government to drop plans to raise university tuition fees. Quebec tuition fees are among the lowest in Canada. Fees would remain comparatively low even after the increases are added.

More self-serve airport kiosks for foreign air travelers
Canada is expanding an experimental project thathelps to facilitate foreign passengers' arrivals at Canadian airports. The project at Vancouver International Airport involved self-serve kiosks that allowed passengers to scan their passports and declaration forms before moving on to a border services officer. The project has been so successful that kiosks will also be introduced at other major Canadian airports beginning with Trudeau International in Montreal in June.

Government to enforce language requirements for immigrants

Immigrants to Canada might soon have to prove they can operate in English or French if they want to become citizens. Proposed changes to citizenship rules would require prospective Canadian citizens to give written proof of language ability. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that it is unacceptable that Canadian citizens cannot express themselves in one official language even after living in Canada for many years.

Ontario human rights tribunal issues ruling on transgenders
The human rights tribunal in the province of Ontario has ruled that a person's gender should be recognized according to the person's lifestyle. The tribunal's ruling came in connection with controversy surrounding new birth certificates for citizens who changed their gender in later life. The tribunal decided that it is discriminatory to require transgender people to undergo surgery before the gender on their birth certificates may be changed. The tribunal says that those who consider themselves to be transgender should get new birth certificates without sex-change surgery.


U.N. Security Council approves large-scale monitor force for Syria

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sending a large monitoring force to Syria. Three hundred unarmed observers will be deployed. The Security Council's resolution merged rival Russian and European proposals and dropped a European threat of non-military sanctions if Syria fails to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities. The Security Council also demanded the immediate halt to violence in Syria. On the same day, a group of monitors visited Syria's city of Homs. Homs is at the centre of a 13-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Following a ceasefire arranged a little more than a week ago, the city was quiet, but activists say the shelling was stopped only during the monitors' visit to make it seem as though the government was abiding by the truce. The activists say that at least 42 people were killed on Friday. Two roadside bombs killed 15 security agents.

International Monetary Fund increases crisis fund
The International Monetary Fund is increasing its crisis fund. Another US$430 billion will be added, raising the total in the fund to about one trillion dollars. The agency released a list of specific commitments from 12 individual nations ranging from $60 billion from Japan to $2 billion from the Czech Republic. The IMF believes that the larger fund can handle any new crisis within the Euro zone. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde announced the new figure at the end of discussions among the Group of 20 finance ministers who gathered in Washington for the Spring meeting of the 188-nation world body. Among the G20 ministers was Jim Flaherty of Canada, who criticized the enlarged crisis fund. Mr. Flaherty felt that the fund was already large enough. The United States agreed with him. Finance discussions were to continue Saturday at the Spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

Violent anti-government protests threatening Bahrain

Tension is rising in Bahrain, where anti-government protesters threw gasoline bombs at police in Manama on Saturday. Police retaliated with teargas. Protesters have vowed to stage violent demonstrations as the country prepares to hold a Formula One Grand Prix race on Sunday. The opposition Wefaq party said on Saturday that one of its members was beaten to death in a clash with police. Bahrain's government says that it will investigate. Dozens of armoured vehicles and security forces in riot gear were deployed along the road to the site of the Grand Prix race and around the capital. Protesters from the majority Shi'ite Muslim community blame the Sunni ruling elite for shutting them out of opportunities, jobs and housing. The protesters hope to use the Grand Prix race to draw international attention to their grievances.

More violence between Sudan and South Sudan

South Sudan is accusing Sudan of attacking its troops during their withdrawal from the disputed oil region of Heglig. South Sudanese forces seized Heglig last week, raising fears that another civil war might break out. In reply, Sudan's army said that it had liberated Heglig by force. Tensions between the two neighbours have been rising since South Sudan split away from Sudan as an independent country in July following a 2005 peace agreement. Most of the country's known oil reserves are in South Sudan. The two neighbours are still arguing overtheir shared border.

Former Ukrainian prime minister, Tymoshenko, moved to hospital

Ukraine's former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has been moved from her prison cell to a hospital to receive treatment for back pain. The hospital is near her prison in Kharkiv. Her lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko he believes that she was moved to the clinic against her will. The European Court for Human Rights has urged Ukraine to ensure that Ms. Tymoshenko receives proper medical treatment. Ms. Tymoshenko was sentenced last year to six years in prison on charges of abusing her office. The European Union expressed doubts about her conviction, saying that it might have been politically motivated. She has appealed her conviction. She is again on trial on new charges of tax evasion and attempted embezzlement. If convicted, she could receive a sentence of up to 12 years. The European Union has warned Ukraine that its members would not ratify key bilateral agreements on political association and free trade while Ms. Tymoshenko remains in prison.

Pakistan promising full probe into jetliner crash
Pakistan is promising a full investigation into the crash of a domestic jetliner on Friday in which all 127 people on board were killed. The airplane's black box flight recorder has been recovered. Investigators are examining all possibilities, from a technical fault to the age of the Boeing 737. The owner of Bhoja Air, Farooq Bhoja, has been barred from leaving the country to ensure his cooperation with the investigation. Relatives of the victims expressed grief and anger over the crash. The airplane went down in a storm as the plane approached Islamabad on a flight from Karachi.

International dispute intensifying in South China Sea
China's military has sent a strong warning related to its dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea. Both nations have sent ships to assert their claims around the Scarborough Shoal. The shoal is about 200 kilometres off the main Philippine island of Luzon. This week, Filipino and American troops launched two weeks of naval drills in the region. The drills will reach the South China Sea on Monday. Accusing the United States of meddling and intervention, China warns that the naval exercises have raised the risk of armed confrontation in the region's waters.

Thousands stage anti-government protest in Czech capital
A huge crowd rallied in the Czech capital, Prague, on Saturday to protest government reforms and austerity cuts. The loud demonstration was one of the biggest anti-government rallies since the collapse of communism almost 23 years ago. The crowd estimated to number as many as one hundred thousand also demanded early parliamentary elections. Jaroslav Zavadil, head of the country's major umbrella organization of unions, the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, called for the government to resign. Labour unions are threatening to stage a nationwide strike. The Czech Republic's centre-right government says the budget cuts and reforms of pension and health care plans are needed to bring the budget deficit back below three per cent of gross domestic product and maintain market reliability. Prime Minister Petr Necas said in a statement on Saturday that he respects the people's right to express their view but defended the measures. There have also been increased public denouncements of alleged corruption in the government.

Queen Elizabeth marks 65th birthday amid gun salutes
Britain gave a series of gun salutes on Saturday to mark Queen Elizabeth's 86th birthday. The largest was a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London. The Queen celebrates her birthday twice. The official public birthday celebrations will take place on June 16. This year, the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee marking 60 years on the throne. Nationwide festivities will be held on the weekend of June 2.



Canada's Daniel Nestor and partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus reached the final of the Monte Carlo Masters on Saturday with a 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 win over Nenad Zimonjic and Michael Llodra. Nestor and Mirnyi will take on top-seeded Americans Bob and Mike Bryan on Sunday in the final.

The Toronto Blue Jays beat Kansas City, 4-3, on Friday with the help of a rare triple play. It was the Blue Jays' first triple play in 33 years.




Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, April 22. British Columbia will have showers. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 14 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: variable cloudiness. Whitehorse, nine. Northwest Territories: mainly cloudy. Yellowknife, minus two. Nunavut: sunny periods. Iqaluit, minus ten. Alberta: increasing cloudiness. Edmonton, minus 19. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, 18. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, 18. Ontario: variable cloudiness. Toronto: 12. Ottawa, 11. Quebec: increasing cloudiness. Montreal, 11. New Brunswick: rain. Fredericton, 12. Nova Scotia: overcast. Halifax, 14. Prince Edward Island: overcast. Charlottetown, 17. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, three.


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