Friday, May 4, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 3 May 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Controversy over jet fighter deepens
Canada's parliamentary budget officer says the Conservative government wanted the public to believe the F-35 program was cheaper than it was actually going to be. Kevin Page took the opportunity Thursday to refresh his long-standing criticism of the proposed multi-billion dollar purchase with an appearance before the House of Commons public accounts committee. It came just weeks after the auditor general accused National Defence and Public Works of misleading Parliament over the program.
Conservative MPs took turns trying to rip apart the assumptions, economic models and research that went into Mr. Page's March, 2011 report and its startling conclusion that the plan to buy 65 stealth fighters would cost $29 billion, not the $14.7 billion reported by Defence. The auditor general pegged the total cost of the program $25 billion. Mr. Page says the guidelines on how the numbers should be presented are clearly laid out in federal Treasury Board policy and should be followed. Auditor general Michael Ferguson testified last week that cabinet knew the full $25 billion cost when it approved the project's budget in two stages in 2008 and accused the government of keeping two sets of books. A seroes of deputy ministers and officials who also appeared before the committee.



Defence dept. rejects accusation on suicides
Public service union officials say the Canadian Defence Department is cutting resources for mental health, even as suicide rates among soldiers are climbing. They say federal budget cuts are shutting down part of department's program to monitor mental health and work on suicide prevention. The Professional Institute of the Public Service says experts who focus on post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries among soldiers are among those losing their jobs. The Opposition slammed the cuts as callous in the wake of statistics released this week that show 20 soldiers died by suicide last year, up from 12 the year before. But Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the government is actually doubling the number of mental-health professionals available to workwith the troops.



Ottawa has new procedures for fishing regulation
The federal government's new budget bill sets out a controversial two-step approach to how industry should deal with fish and their habitat, with the second step more far-reaching than the first. It contains two different ways of changing protections of fish habitat. One provision will come into effect as soon as the bill is passed and maintains some protection of fish habitat, while giving Ottawa more leeway to allow exceptions. The second will come after the government holds hearings and develops regulations. It will allow industrial development as long as it does not kill fish deemed important for commercial or aboriginal use or for a sport fishery.


Fallen media king set for release
U.S. officials say Conrad Black will be taken into custody by American immigration officials as soon as he's released from a prison in Miami, which could happen as early as Friday. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says Thursday the former media baron will be picked up from the low-security jail. Black, who renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a British peerage, has been granted a one-year temporary resident permit by Canada's Citizenship and Immigration department. He's not permitted to stay in the U.S. because he does not hold American citizenship.
The one-year permit granted Black is valid from early this month until May next year. Black's controversial business dealings while at the helm of Hollinger's global media empire earned him fraud and obstruction of justice convictions in 2007 and saw him sentenced to 3 1/2 years in a Florida prison. He has said he hopes to return to Toronto, where he and wife Barbara Amiel still own a home.


Toronto elphants' fate up in air
A Toronto delegation is heading to California to check out the sanctuary that is supposed to be taking in the Toronto Zoo's aging elephants. Zoo CEO John Tracogna will be making the trip to the Performing Animals Welfare Society facility within the next two weeks, along with two city councillors and a senior veterinarian from the zoo. The visit was announced after a meeting at Toronto City Hall on Thursday failed to resolve ongoing wrangling between the zoo, the city and PAWS officials over the transfer of the three elephants. The zoo said earlier this week it had reached an impasse with the sanctuary over its failure to provide requested medical records on all wildlife at PAWS. But Mr. Tracogna said talks are continuing between lawyers for both sides and he will follow the direction of city council in moving the animals. Council voted in late October to send the three elephants to the U.S. facility after groups voiced concern about their welfare.




International

Chinese dissident wants U.S. asylum
Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng appealed on Thursday for asylum in the United States, throwing into doubt an agreement used to coax him out of hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Chen says he now fears for his and his family's safety if he stays in China as planned under a dealWashington had called a good outcome for the dissident.
China's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Mr. Chen's request to leave the country and repeated its criticism of the way the United States had handled the issue as "unacceptable". The self-taught legal activist left the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday and is now under Chinese control in a Beijing hospital. He had taken refuge at the U.S. mission for six days after escaping house arrest and left after U.S. officials assured him that Beijing had promised to improve his circumstances.


Students reported killed at Syrian school
Syrian security forces and students armed with knives stormed a protest march at Aleppo University early on Thursday, activists said, killing four and rounding up 200 demonstrators demanding President Bashar al-Assad step down. The pre-dawn raid was an unusually bloody incident for normally Syria's fairly peaceful commercial hub and marked one of many breaches of a three-week-old U.N. truce between state forces and rebels. Video posted on the Internet showed students chanting against four decades of Assad family rule but being drowned out by gunfire. Activists posted images of a dead student, his shirt drenched in blood, and what they said was a burning dormitory.



French presidential race tightens
Socialist Francois Hollande's lead over President Nicolas Sarkozy for Sunday's election runoff narrowed to the smallest margin of any opinion poll so far in a survey conducted before and after their only televised debate. The OpinionWay-Fiducial poll put Hollande at 52.5 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from April 24, with Sarkozy on 47.5 percent, up 1.5 percent, making a margin of five points. An average of other recent polls gives Mr. Hollande a lead of between six and 10 points for the decisive second ballot against the conservative Mr. Sarkozy.
He beat the president by 1.5 points in an April 22 first round between 10 candidates. Being punished for a weak economy and an abrasive personal style, Mr. Sarkozy has been fighting an uphill battle for re-election and failed to land a game-changing blow on his rival in Wednesday's debate.



Accused bridge bombers indicted
Five men suspected of plotting to bomb an Ohio bridge were indicted Thursday on three counts each, including a new charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction to destroy property in interstate commerce. The men also were charged with conspiracy and attempted use of an explosive device to destroy property in interstate commerce. They could face life in prison if convicted of trying to bomb the soaring bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at Brecksville, south of Cleveland. The bridge also crosses a scenic railway line and a canal tow path popular with joggers and bikers. The five men, all described as anarchists, were arrested Monday night when they allegedly tried to detonate what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant.



Poland won't back boycott of Ukrainian sporting event
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk says that he does not support growing calls to boycott Ukraine during the European football championship this summer because of the country's treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Poland is co-hosting the games with Ukraine and Mr. Tusk said he does not want to see years of preparations ruined. Mr.Tusk says Poland is disturbed by Ukraine's treatment of MissTymoshenko and is urging Ukraine to observe human rights standards. But he also believes that she would not want to see preparations for the Euro 2012 to go to waste. Miss Tymoshenko is on a hunger strike to protest alleged mistreatment in a Ukraine prison . She's serving a seven-year sentence on charges of abusing her powers when she was prime minister. The West says her case is politically motivated.



Russia threatens strike against NATO
Russia's top military officer has threatened to deal a pre-emptive strike on U.S.-led NATO missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe if Washington goes ahead with its controversial missile defence plan. President Dmitry Medvedev said last year that Russia will retaliate militarily if it does not reach an agreement with the United States and NATO on the controversial missile defence system. Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov warned Thursday that talks between Moscow and Washington on the topic are close to a dead end. U.S. missile defence plans in Europe have been one of the touchiest subjects in U.S.-Russian relations for years. It says it could eventually become powerful enough to undermine Russia's nuclear deterrent.





Financial

Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,015 - 215. Canadian dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $102.53 - $2.69.


Stock exchange takeover approaches completion
The takeover of TMX Group by the Maple Group cleared another hurdle Thursday as securities regulators in Ontario and Quebec released their proposed conditions on the deal. The consortium of banks, pension funds and insurance companies said if the draft orders, which set rules governing such things as board composition and share ownership restrictions, are finalized as published, it would accept them. The provincial regulators said they would seek comment on their proposed rules and set a deadline of June 4 to hear from the public. OSC chairman and chief executive Howard Wetston said the provincial regulator will carefully consider the further input it receives on the proposed orders before making a final determination. The federal Competition Bureau remains a significant hurdle for the deal.


TransCanada cagey on pipeline refiling


TransCanada won't confirm a report in the Washington Post newspaper that it will reapply for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline as soon as Friday. CEO Russ Girling told reporters following TransCanada's annual general meeting last Friday that the new application is "imminent." The Obama administration rejected the US$7.6-billion project in its entirety earlier this year, though it left the door open for TransCanada to take another crack at it. The White House says the decision had less to do with the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline's merits than moves by Republicans in Congress to speed up the process. TransCanada has since decided to go ahead first with the southern portion of Keystone XL connecting Cushing, OK., to the U.S. Gulf Coast, which does not require a presidential approval. That $2.3-billion portion should come into service in mid- to late-2013. The reapplication would be for a portion from the Canada-U.S. border to Steele City, NB.





Sports

Sports
HOCKEY
Canada has its captain for the world hockey championship. Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf will wear the 'C' at the tournament. Canada opens the tournament Thursday against Slovakia.





Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Thursday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 7, Yellowknife 17, Iqaluit 1. Prairies: rain. Edmonton 16, Regina 14, Winnipeg 13. Ontario: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 22, Ottawa 21, Montreal 16. Maritimes: mix sun cloud. Newfoundland: rain. Fredericton 17, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 13, St. John's 15.




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