Friday, May 25, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Royals end Canada visit
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, have ended their four-day trip to Canada to promote the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. On Wednesday, the royal couple finished their visit in Regina, SK, at a concert by the Regina Symphony Orchestra. At a reception, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Prince will be named honorary commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.



Fire wanes near northern Ontario town
Kirkland Lake's mayor says a forest fire near the northeastern Ontario town appears to be almost out but dangerous hot spots remain. Mayor Bill Enouy says fires can flare up at any moment and a fly-over with infra-red cameras this morning shows many hot spots. He says firefighters are in place and while winds are high, they are from the southwest which doesn't pose an immediate threat to the town of about 9,000. The fire remains about three kilometres outside the community and residents have been told to prepare for evacuation if the blaze comes within one kilometre. About 300 Kirkland Lake residents who live on lakes outside the urban area have already been evacuated.





Ottawa tightens EI eligibility
The Canadian government is tightening Employment Insurance eligibility with new rules on what kind of work jobless Canadians will need to accept in order to receive benefits. The government says it will put strict definitions on what constitutes "suitable employment" and what the unemployed must do to find a job in order to get off EI. The changes means Canadians will be treated differently depending on how often they have collected EI benefits in the past, or how long they are currently receiving benefits.

For workers who have been mostly employed the past 10 years, they need to accept a job within their usual occupation as long as it pays at least 90 per cent of their previous hourly wage. For frequent EI claimants, the rules will be far stricter. Those who have been on the system at least three times for a total of 60 weeks over the past five years will be expected to take a similar job that pays at least 80 per cent of the previous rate. But that's only for six weeks. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says the government wants to help Canadians who want to work get back to work.





Unemployment rate steady
The number of unemployed Canadians receiving employment insurance benefits was little changed in March. Statistics Canada says that beneficiaries numbered just over 549,000. The number of unemployed rose in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, but the number fell in Alberta. Canada's immigration minister, Jason Kenney, recently raised controversy when he indicated that the government would put pressure on the unemployed to move to other parts of the country to find work and to accept jobs that were beneath their qualifications.



Quebec police arrest 500 in student protest
Scenes of mass arrests in various parts of Quebec, with over 650 people arrested in different cities for a variety of reasons, have spurred a new attempt at resolving a dispute that has catapulted the province onto international news pages. The provincial education minister, Michèle Courchêne, said Thursday that she expected to hold a "very, very important" meeting with student groups after having had positive discussions over the phone. Restoring order in time for the tourist-filled festival season, which starts in only a few weeks, appears a monumental task given the events that unfolded overnight. A peaceful evening march that began with people festively banging pots and pans ended with police using the controversial "kettling" tactic on a crowd of demonstrators and arresting 518 people in Montreal.

Heavy water spills against at NB nuclear station
About 300 litres of radioactive heavy water spilled during a test at a New Brunswick nuclear power plant, making it the second spill at the site in less than six months. NB Power said in a statement that the water spilled Monday at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, Atlantic Canada's only nuclear facility. The spill happened when a test equipment relief valve opened prematurely as officials were working on the plant's refurbishment. Heavywater then overflowed from a collection system inside the reactor building. The water is said to have been recovered for reuse and there is no risk to workers, the public or the environment. In December, four to six litres of radioactive heavy water spilled because of a leak at the plant, which prompted an evacuation. No one was hurt. Point Lepreau has been out of service since March 2008 for a major refurbishment that's meant to extend the life of the reactor by 25 years.








Syria accused of exterminating families
The UN says Syrian government forces have executed entire families in their homes as part of a crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. A report by the world body says both Assad's troops and opposition fighters were committing gross human rights violations despite a six-week-old ceasefire. But the document says the army and security forces were responsible for most of the crimes documented since March. Government abuses included heavy shelling of residential areas, executions and torture. Syrian forces routinely drew up a list of wanted persons and their families before blockading and then attacking a village or neighbourhood. But rebels have executed or tortured captured soldiers and pro-government

supporters.





Iran to discuss nuclear dispute in Moscow
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Thursday that Iran and world powers will meet in Moscow on June 18-19 for more talks to try solve a long-standing dispute about an Iranian nuclear energy program, Speaking after two days of discussions between envoys from Iran and six leading powers to try to defuse Western fears of a covert Iranian effort to develop nuclear bombs, Mrs. Ashton said it was clear both sides wanted progress and had some common ground but they also had significant differences. Mrs. Ashton, who leads the negotiations for the six-country group known as the P5+1, says the global powers wanted practical steps from Iran to address concerns over its nuclear work.





Yemeni military maintains assaults against al-Qaeda
Yemen's defence ministry says the military launched an attack Thursday on an al-Qaida hideout in the country's south as part of a wider offensive, killing 35 militants. The attack came four days after al-Qaida claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a military parade rehearsal in the capital, Sanaa. The bombing killed 96 Yemeni soldiers. Funerals for 67 of the soldiers were held on Thursday. The ministry says that in its attack, the Yemeni military took control of Wadi Banaa Arab, near the town of Jaar, an al-Qaida stronghold. Since May 12, Yemen's military has been pushing an offensive against al-Qaida, aiming to uproot the militants from territory they overran during more than a year of internal political turmoil in Yemen. Troops backed by warplanes and artillery, as well as armed tribesmen, battled al-Qaida militants, mainly in Abyan province in the south, aiming at regaining control over the provincial capital, Zinjibar.







African migrants at centre of conflict in Israel


Surging street violence against African migrants in Israel drew statements of empathy for the rioters as well as censure from the government on Thursday. Waving Israeli flags and chanting "Deport the Sudanese," residents of a low-income Tel Aviv neighbourhood where many of the border-jumpers from Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan live held a march late Wednesday that turned violent. Police said 20 people were arrested for assault and vandalism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Wednesday's violence, saying there was no room for such action and that the issue must be resolved "responsibly". But his interior minister, Eli Yishai, cited police findings that Sudanese and Eritrean migrants were a crime risk. Some 60,000 Africans have crossed illegally into Israel through the porous desert border with Egypt in recent years.





U.S. legislators outraged with Pakistan
U.S. senators scandalized by Pakistan's jailing of a doctor for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden voted on Thursday to cut aid to Islamabad by $33 million, one million for each year in the doctor's sentence. The measure was offered by Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat. Earlier in the week an appropriations subcommittee slashed aid to Islamabad and warned it would withhold more if Pakistan does not reopen supply routes for NATO soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan. The Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, was sentenced to 33 years in jail Wednesday on charges of treason. He was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign, in which he collected DNA samples, that is believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down bin Laden in a Pakistani town.





Russian dissidents freed


Two prominent Russian opposition leaders were released from detention Thursday after spending 15 days in a Moscow jail for disobeying police. Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny and left-wing politician Sergei Udaltsov were arrested on May 9 as they protested President Vladimir Putin's inauguration. In what is seen as an attempt to crackdown on dissent, Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill increasing 200-fold fines for those taking part in unsanctioned protests. The Russian Duma is dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia party. United Russia's win in the December election marred by allegation of wide-spread vote-rigging was the initial trigger of street protests in Russia this winter.








Astral shareholders give green light to takeover
Shareholders of Astral Media Inc. have given their approval for a $3.4-billion acquisition of the TV, radio and billboard company by telecommunications giant BCE Inc. The purchase was approved by shareholders representing more than 99 per cent of Astral's shares. BCE's takeover of Astral must also receive approval from the Quebec Superior Court at a hearing scheduled for Friday. BCE expects the purchase of Astral to be completed in the second half of the year, pending usual court and regulator approvals.





Western province wants action to stop rail strike
Saskatchewan says it wants to see the federal government move quickly with back to work legislation if there are no successful negotiations at Canadian Pacific Railway within hours. A strike by 4,800 Canadian Pacific Railway is into its second day. Saskatchewan Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd says each day the strike drags on will have a significant impact. Mr. Boyd says agriculture producers need the rail to move crops. He says a prolonged strike could hurt potash sales dramatically because the rail is needed to export product around the world. The minister says it's important to get workers back on the job as soon as possible








Sports
BOBSLEIGH

Pierre Lueders is walking away from bobsleigh. The Canadian Olympian is leaving his job as development coach for the national team. Lueders won gold in 1998 and silver in 2006. He says he wants a break from the sport.

SOCCER

Former Italy and Bologna forward Marco Di Vaio has agreed to join Major League Soccer's Montreal Impact and will link up with the team next month.

The 35-year-old has scored 142 goals in 342 games in Serie A and spent the last four years with Bologna after a career which also saw him feature for Juventus, Parma, Genoa and Lazio among others.








CANADA WEATHER
Here is Canada's weather for Friday, May 25th. British Columbia will be sunny. The high temperature in Vancouver,20 degrees Celsius and Victoria, 22. The Yukon: sunny. Whitehorse, 16. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 12. Nunavut: cloudy. Iqaluit, minus 1. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, 17. Saskatchewan: sunny. Regina, 12. Manitoba: showers. Winnipeg, 11. Ontario: cloudy. Toronto and Ottawa, 28. Quebec: cloudy. Montreal, 26. New Brunswick: cloudy. Fredericton, 24. Nova Scotia: sunny. Halifax, 17. Prince Edward Island: sunny. Charlottetown, 20. Newfoundland and Labrador: cloudy. St. John's, 17.Happy Valley-Goose Bay, 27.