Tuesday, April 24, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 23 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

EU confident of trade accord with Canada
The head of the European Union council says she believes a free trade deal with Canada will be signed within six months, although problems remain. Pia Olsen Dyhr, the Danish trade minister, says about 75 per cent of the deal has been agreed to. She concedes, however, that sensitive areas like Canada's protectionist supply management system for poultry and eggs and rules of origin remain to be settled. Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast was more cautious in his predictions, saying he hoped for a successful conclusion sometime this year. Mr. Fast says a successful negotiation would result in the additionof 80,000 jobs in Canada.



Immigration hearing starts for Tunisian plutocrat
A reclusive billionaire who was a major part of Tunisia's ruling family is fighting a decision to have his permanent residency revoked. Belhassen Trabelsi's lawyer says his client didn't attend Monday's immigration hearing in Montreal because he and his family fear for their safety. Federal lawyers had demanded an immediate rejection of his appeal because of his failure to attend. That request was refused and the appeal was heard without Mr. Trabelsi being there. He arrived in Canada as the regime of his brother-in-law, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was falling in January 2011. The new Tunisian government issued an international warrant for his arrest and tried him in absentia. In September, he was sentenced to 15 years and find $500,000 for corruption.



Scientists want moratorium on Arctic commercial fishing
Hundreds of scientists from Canada and 66 other countries have made a joint call for a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Arctic pending more research. An open letter on behalf of 2,000 scientists was released by the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group to coincide with the start of a major conference in the Canadian city of Montreal, QC. They say the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up 40 per cent of the Central Arctic Ocean during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time. But they agree fishing should be prohibited until it's clear what lies in the waters and until sustainable fishing quotas can be set.



Alberta holds rare close election
Voters in Canada's western province of Alberta went to the polls Monday and for the first time in many years, it's unclear who is likely to win. Alberta Wildrose Party is challenging the Progressive Conservatives, who have been in power for more than 41 years. Surveys indicate that the Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith has a slight lead. At dissolution, the Tories had 67 seats in the 83-seat legislature compared with eight for the Liberals, four for the Wildrose, two for the New Democratic Party and one for the Alberta Party. There was also one Independent.



Ontario govt., NDP meet in middle to avoid election
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed Tuesday to a key New Democratic Party budget demand to hike taxes for the wealthy in order to stave off another election. The premier says his minority Liberals will put a surtax on those earning more than $500,000, after a 40-minute meeting with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. All the money raised by the surtax, about $470 million next year, will go towards paying down Ontario's $15.2-billion deficit and will end once the budget is balanced in 2017. The NDP wanted to use the revenue to increase welfare rates, save daycare spaces and put more money into community and home care. Mr. McGuinty agreed last week to allocate more money to child care from the existing education budget and increase the Ontario Disability Support Program by lowering the costs of the top 10 generic drugs paid by the government. The premier called his offer on the surtax a "sensible compromise," but it still flies in the face of his promise not to balance the budget by raising taxes. Mr. McGuinty also agreed to increase welfare by one per cent instead of freezing rates and creating a $20-million transition fund to help rural and northern hospitals.


Quebec govt. to meet students
Quebec's education minister, Line Beauchamp, was scheduled to meet the three main student associations of 10 week of class boycott. The minister had laid down as a condition of the meeting that they stop all pressure tactics for 48 hours. All three groups agreed to the pre-condition. The student groups are protesting against the provincial government's plan to raise tuition fees by $1,600 over five years. The provincial government wants to discuss the administration of universities and the system of loans and scholarships, but the three student groups insist the the issue of tuition hikes must also be on the agenda.




International

Dozens reported killed in Syrian city
Syrian activists say Syrian troops armed with heavy machine-guns killed dozens in the central city of Hama Monday, just a day after chanting protesters welcomed a visit by a UN team sent to observe a shaky cease-fire. The day's violence, the city's worst in months, added a dangerous new aspect to the UN team's work: that the Syrian regime might exact deadly revenge against opponents who feel empowered by the observers' presence to spill into the streets. Observance of the truce, which was supposed to begin April 12, has been spotty at best. The main manifestation has been a temporary halt to fighting between President Bashar Assad's troops and rebel forces in locations where observers are present. The UN says the Syrian government is still using heavy weapons and has failed to implement the peace plan brokered by former Secretary General Kofi Annan.


Bahraini court hears appeal for hunger striker
A Bahrain court heard appeals Monday from defence lawyers for a jailed hunger striker and other activists seeking to overturn their sentences linked to the Shiite-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy in the Gulf kingdom. The court set the next hearing for April 30 amid claims by the family of hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja that his health is in sharp decline nearly 11 weeks into his protest. Bahrain officials insist al-Khawaja faces no immediate medical risks. Mr. Al-Khawaja's case has become a centerpiece of anti-government protests while adding international pressure on Bahrain's rulers. Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected Denmark's request to take custody of al-Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen.



Sudan crisis worsens
Sudanese warplanes bombed a market and an oil field in South Sudan, killing at least two people. The air attacks came hours after Sudanese ground forces crossed into South Sudan with tanks and artillery. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir vowed Monday to press ahead with his military campaign until all southern troops or affiliated forces are chased out of the north. The bombs fell from two MiG 29 jets onto a market in the town of Rubkona. South Sudan says two were killed in that attack and nine wounded. The South also reports that northern jets and bombers attacked the Unity State oil field.



Spanish oil firm vows retaliation
Spanish energy firm Repsol warned Monday that it would consider legal action against companies or investors that help Argentina exploit petroleum Repsol had planned to tap before its Argentine unit YPF was nationalized. Repsol discovered vast shale oil and gas deposits in Neuquen province that could dramatically increase Argentina's oil reserves. Experts say Argentina will need strategic partners to tap the world's third-largest unconventional reserves, and Argentine officials have wasted no time in lining up potential investors. They met last week with executives of French-owned Total Austral and Brazil's Petrobras, announcing afterward that both planned to expand production. Repsol YPF says the company "is reserving the rights to take legal action against any investor in YPF or its assets following the unlawful expropriation of that company." Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has infuriated Spain, Argentina's largest foreign investor, but elated many Argentines with the move. Only two months earlier, Repsol had increased its estimate for the shale oil and gas it found in Argentina to nearly 23 billion barrels, enough to double the country's output in a decade.



U.S. department reacts to Secret Service scandal
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Monday that the defence department has suspended security clearances of military personnel implicated in the Colombia prostitution scandal. U.S. Secret Service and military personnel allegedly took as
many as 21 women back to their beachfront hotel on the night of April 11-12, ahead of President Barack Obama's trip to the seaside city of Cartagena to attend the Summit of the Americas. They were discovered when one woman complained about money, leading to the involvement of the local police. Eleven U.S. military personnel have been implicated in the scandal so far, along with 12 Secret Service agents. It was not clear how many of those military personnel had security clearances, however. None of them have been charged with any crime at this point.



Norwegian mass killer denies insanity
Anxious to prove he's not insane, confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik told a court Monday that questions about his mental health are part of a racist plot to discredit his extreme anti-Muslim ideology. Breivik, who has admitted to killing 77 people in a bombing and youth camp massacre, said that no one would have asked for a psychiatric examination had he been a "bearded jihadist." He rejects criminal guilt for the rampage on July 22, saying the victims had betrayed their country by embracing immigration. Even the defence admits there is virtually no chance of an acquittal, so the key issue to be determined in the trial is whether Breivik is criminally insane. Two psychiatric examinations reached opposite conclusions on that point.



Russian president pardons selectively
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday pardoned a man on a list of 32 people whom opposition activists consider political prisoners, but gave no clue whether he might free others in his last two weeks in the Kremlin. Mr. Medvedev, who will be replaced as president by Vladimir Putin on May 7, signed a decree pardoning Sergei Mokhnatkin, 58, and 13 others. The Kremlin said on its website that the decision was "guided by the principles of humanity". None of the others pardoned was on the list of 32 "political prisoners", including former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, submitted to Mr. Medvedev in February by opposition politicians who had demanded their release during large street protests. The Kremlin gave no reason for the pardons and said nothing about the others on the list. Khodorkovsky's supporters say he is the victim of a Kremlin-driven campaign of punishment for perceived challenges to Mr. Putin.





Financial

Markets


The Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday: 11,989, down 158. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $102.98 - .90.


Viterra shareholders to vote on takeover
Viterra Inc. has called a special meeting of shareholders for late next month to vote on the proposed $6.1-billion takeover of the company by Swiss-based Glencore International. The Calgary-based grain handling, agri-products and processing company says the meeting will be held May 29 in Calgary. Glencore, through an indirect subsidiary, has agreed to acquire all of Viterra's outstanding shares at a price of $16.25 in cash per share. The institutional shareholder Alberta Investment Management Corp., together with Viterra's directors and executive officers have agreed to support the arrangement. The takeover by a foreign company has come under government scrutiny because potential effects on the Canadian market. However, much of the business would remain in Canadian hands because under the deal Calgary-based Agrium Inc. and privately held Richardson International, based in Winnipeg, would buy the majority of Viterra's Canadian assets for a combined $2.6 billion in cash. Viterra has operations across Canada, the United States,
Australia, New Zealand and China.




Sports

Sports
HOCKEY
The National Hockey League has announced the finalists for the Selke and Lady Byng trophies. St. Louis's David Backes, Boston's Patrice Bergeron and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk are up for the Selke, given to the league's top defensive player. Florida's Brian Campbell, Edmonton's Jordan Eberle and the Islanders' Matt Moulson are the nominees for the Lady Byng, which goes to the NHL's most gentlemanly player.




Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Tuesday: rain, high C13 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 5, Yellowknife -4, Iqaluit -7. Prairies: rain. Edmonton 13, Regina 26, Winnipeg 22. Ontario: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 7, Ottawa 5, Montreal 9. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 14, Halifax 13, Charlottetown 15, St. John's 7.




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