Thursday, May 24, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Costa Rica promises fair trial for conservationist
The president of Costa Rica promised on Wednesday a fair trial in her country for a Canadian conservationist facing possible extradition over a campaign against shark finning. Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, was arrested 10 days ago in Germany because of an arrest warrant from Costa Rica then freed on bail, pending a German ruling on the extradition request. Mr. Watson made a brief appearance in Berlin on Wednesday at a protest coinciding with a state visit by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. The charges stem from a confrontation on the high seas in 2002 between his ship and a vessel involved in illegal shark finning. The practice involves catching sharks, slicing off their fins and tossing the animals back into the sea.





SK welcomes royals
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla received a warm welcome from a few hundred people who gathered in the wind and rain to greet them at the Saskatchewan legislature Wednesday. The royal couple, each carrying an umbrella against the wet, took a few moments to shake hands and meet with some of the well-wishers. Charles and his wife then entered the building where they were accompanied to the chamber for the official greeting from Premier Brad Wall.



Quebec would reopen talks with students
The Quebec government says the door remains open to discussion with students opposed to tuition hikes and who have been staging daily protests for more than 100 days. Premier Jean Charest made his comments Wednesday in the provincial legislature amid reports that an official in the Education Department had contacted student leaders. It's unclear what the sides might possibly discuss. The government remains committed to tuition hikes, and the student groups remain staunchly opposed to them. Meanwhile, many protesters are insisting that the current unrest is about more than tuition and is actually about broader economic justice. During a heated exchange, the opposition Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois accused the premier of letting the tensions escalate.



U.S. army unit unprecedentedly wins Canadian honour
An American special forces contingent has become the first non-Canadian recipient of the country's highest citation for military units. The 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group has won the Governor General's Commander-in-Chief Commendation for its support of Canadian troops during a landmark battle in Afghanistan almost six years ago. The U.S. Army Green Berets fought to protect the flanks of a Canadian battle group as it pushed deep into the Taliban redoubt of Pashmul during Operation Medusa in 2006. The commendation was present to the Green Berets at a special ceremony in Fort Bragg, N.C., by Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, head of Canada's overseas command.



Canadian minister admits problem in North
Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says that when she criticized a United Nations right-to-food envoy last week, she never meant to imply there were no hunger problems in the North. Mrs. Aglukkaq says there are indeed serious poverty challenges in her home region. But she says she resents being told how to fix things by an outsider who has no first-hand knowledge of the North, and who comes from a country that opposes the seal hunt. She says food security is best addressed by improving prospects for jobs and the economy of the North. Last week, the UN's special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, presented his findings of a trip across Canada. He said he had severe concerns about the ability of aboriginal people and families on social assistance to afford the food they need to stay healthy.





Ottawa again readies back-to-work law
The Canadian government said on Wednesday it could introduce back-to-work legislation as early as next Monday if a strike at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. persists and harms the economy. Labor Minister Lisa Raitt did not seem to be in the same rush as she was to get Air Canada employees back to work in past disputes, partly because Canadian National Railway Co can pick up some freight from Canadian Pacific, where a strike began early on Wednesday. The opposition New Democratic Party, would likely try to slow any back-to-work bill down, meaning the strike would probably to run at least a week. Mrs. Raitt said the speed of government intervention would depend on how the work stoppage affects key industries. The minister says a prolonged strike would be expected to cost the Canadian economy $540 million a week.








Shareholders sue Facebook after IPO
Shareholders in the social network site, Facebook, are suing the company for allegedly misleading investors about the company's forecasted growth. Facebook shares went on sale on Monday in one of the most widely publicized and eagerly anticipated intial public offerings in history. In the first three days of trading, Facebook shares fell 18 per cent. Lawsuits have been filed in New York and in California against Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and banks including Morgan Stanley. One lawsuit alleges that Facebook knew of research that lowered business forecasts forFacebook during the IPO process, but concealed the information from the general public. Facebook allegedly shared the information only with preferred investors.



Sick Venezuelan leader back on TV
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reappeared on television a week and a half after returning from cancer treatment in Cuba. Mr. Chavez led a televised Cabinet meeting, seated at a table with aides Tuesday. He expressed optimism about his re-election bid in the Oct. 7 vote and said he plans to formally sign up as a candidate as required early next month. Mr. Chavez returned from Cuba on May 11 after cancer treatment, saying his latest round of radiation therapy was successful. His appearance on television Tuesday was his first since his arrival.





Mali leader flies to France for treatment
Mali's interim leader Dioncounda Traoré was flying to France on Wednesday for medical checks after he was attacked by protesters earlier this week. A tug-of-war for leadership in coup-stricken Mali has emerged between supporters of the ruling military junta and those backing Mr. Traoré, who has been guiding a transition back to democracy since April. He suffered facial injuries when hundreds of protesters broke into the presidential palace on Monday. The extent of his injuries was not clear but two diplomatic sources said the interim president was to have checks on his pacemaker.





Pakistani gets long sentence for helping U.S.
Pakistan has sentenced a doctor to 33 years in prison for helping U.S. spies to find the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces last year in a raid on his home in a Pakistani town. Dr. Shakil Afridi was found guilty of treason by operating a phoney vaccination campaign that apparently helped to locate bin Laden. Dr. Afridi was arrested following bin Laden's death. U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledges the doctor's help, but insists that the doctor did not commit treason or harm Pakistan's interests. The United States has tried in vain to persuade Pakistan to release Dr. Afridi. His arrest strained Pakistan's relations with the United States, whose government gives billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.





Yemeni clash with Islamists
Yemeni government troops battled Islamist militants in two southern cities on Wednesday as international donors met in Saudi Arabia to pledge $4 billion to help stabilize a state that has become a base for al-Qaeda. Government forces recaptured parts of the strategically important city of Zinjibar and fought militants in the city of Jaar. Officials says 33 militants and nine soldiers died. The militants, who seized large swathes of southern Yemen last year, have given shelter and support to al-Qaeda's local wing, which on Monday killed 100 soldiers in a suicide bombing at a military parade in the capital Sanaa. The meeting in Riyadh was the first to be held by the Friends of Yemen donor group since Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down as president after 33 years in February, allowing the election of a new transitional head of state.





Egyptians vote in first free presidential election
Egyptian voters of many ages, occupations and beliefs stood in line for hours Wednesday to cast their ballots for a new president. The winner will replace Hosni Mubarak, deposed in a popular uprising last year. He was voted in several times, but those elections were generally regarded as blatantly rigged, and turnout was low. Wednesday's election the first free ballot for president in the Arab world. The main candidates among the 13 running for office were Islamists or officials who served in Mubarak's government at one time or another. Absent were prominent candidates representing the young, secular liberals who led last year's uprising, and some voters expressed disappointment over that.






Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday: 11,565 + 113. Canadian dollar: US.97 - 0.57. Euro: $1.29. Oil: $90.28 - $1.57.



Halifax market throws in towel
A multimillion-dollar debt has proven too much for operators of the market on the Halifax waterfront. The City Market of Halifax Co-operative voted overwhelm-ingly Tuesday to turn the management of the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market over to its landlord. Co-op chairman Chris de Waal says the decision will ensure business as usual for customers and vendors at the waterfront venue, with no immediate changes. Mr. De Wall says of the 54 members who attended the meeting, 48 voted in favour of beginning negotiations to surrender the lease to the Halifax Port Authority while the other six voted to seek protection from creditors. The co-op faced a $12-million debt and a $220,000 lawsuit filed this month by RCS Retail Construction Specialists Inc. The company, which was the main contractor in building the market, alleges unpaid fees and interest.



NDP leader takes more heat over oilsands criticism
The Canadian Treasury Board president says the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party's view of Canada's energy sector is reckless and irresponsible. Tony Clement referred before the Calgary Chamber of Commerce to Tom Mulcair's recent comments that the country's resource sector and oilsands are driving up the value of the dollar and killing manufacturing jobs. Mr. Clement says Mr. Mulcair's suggestion that energy companies pay for their pollution would cripple an important and growing sector and jeopardize thousands of jobs across the country.





SNC finalizes Ontario highway deal
A new SNC-Lavalin joint venture recently selected as preferred bidder by the Ontario government has finalized a $1-billion contract to extend the Highway 407 toll road east. The 407 East Development Group General Partnership, a 50/50 joint venture between SNC-Lavalin and Cintra Infraestructuras, will design, build, finance and maintain Phase 1 of the new Highway 407 East. The formal contract was announced a month after Cintra parent company Ferrovial said the partnership had been selected by Ontario as the preferred bidder. Spanish-based Ferrovial is a 43.23 per cent partner in the 407 highway concession, while the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board owns 40 per cent and SNC-Lavalin 16.77 per cent. The contract will extend the highway 22 kilometres

east from Pickering to Oshawa.








Sports
HOCKEY

The Vancouver Canucks have signed head coach Alain Vigneault to a contract extension. The Canucks have posted the NHL's best regular-season record for the last two seasons under Vigneault. But his job status was unclear after Vancouver was bounced from the first round of the playoffs by Los Angeles. Vigneault guided the Canucks to the Stanley Cup final last season.

CYCLING

Joaquin Rodriguez continues to hold onto his overall lead at the Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard won the 17th stage for his second stage victory of the race. Canada's Ryder Hesjedal finished third and trails Rodriguez by 30 seconds in the overall standings.








CANADA WEATHER
Here is Canada's weather for Thursday, May 24. British Columbia will be parly sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver and Victoria,16 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: cloudy. Whitehorse, 21. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 13. Nunavut: overcast. Iqaluit, minus 2. Alberta: mainly cloudy. Edmonton, 12. Saskatchewan: showers. Regina, 7. Manitoba: cloudy. Winnipeg, 19. Ontario: sunny. Toronto: 27. Ottawa, 29. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 28. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, 23. Nova Scotia: sunny. Halifax, 19. Prince Edward Island: sunny. Charlottetown, 15. Newfoundland and Labrador: cloudy. St. John's, 12.Happy Valley-Goose Bay, 14.