Sunday, May 6, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Another violent student protest in Quebec


Three people suffered serious injuries on Friday evening when students in the Canadian province of Quebec staged another violent demonstration to protest against the government's plan to raise college tuition fees. One of those injured faced life-threatening wounds. Hundreds of students clashed with police outside the hotel in Victoriaville where Quebec's governing Liberal Party was holding a convention. The meeting was scheduled in Montreal, but organizers moved the venue because of student demonstrations that have continued for about two months. Students in Victoriaville threw larges stones at police and damaged a bus. Police retaliated with tear gas and pepper spray. In all, 109 people were detained, many of them halted when police stopped school busses that transporting university students back to Montreal. In an effort to stop the protests, Quebec Premier Jean Charest offered to extend the tuition fee increases by an extra two years to seven years overall, but student leaders rejected the offer.

 



New evidence in robocall election scandal
More evidence has been uncovered in Canada's so-called robocall scandal. The scandal involved automated telephone calls to voters in the federal election last year. The calls directed voters to the wrong polling stations. Court documents filed by Elections Canada indicate that during the election, Conservative Party campaign workers in a Guelph, Ontario riding discussed making misleading telephone calls. A campaign worker, Michael Sona, allegedly talked about making misleading or harassing calls to supporters of other parties. The Conservative Party won a majority government last year after leading two successive minority governments.





Crusading double-lung transplant recipient released from hospital


A Canadian woman who had a double-lung transplant last month was released from hospital on Saturday. Helene Campbell of Ottawa had surgery at Toronto General Hospital for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Before surgery, she faced the risk that there might be no donor organs available to her. But Canadian singer Justin Bieber and American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres both made pleas through social media channels, and organs were delivered in time. Her case became an example of how social media could be used in helping patients with health problems. After surgery, Ms. Campbell faced the possibility that her body might reject the donated organs or she might catch an infection. Her doctors say that her transplant was performed routinely. Ms. Campbell has begun her own campaign to urge people to donate organs. Her campaign along with that of Bieber and DeGeneres has led to almost a tenfold increase in the number of new donor registrations at the Trillium Gift of Life Network, Ontario's organ and tissue donation agency.






Explosions in Syria kill five
An explosion killed at least five people in Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, while two blasts went off in Damascus. The explosion in Aleppo destroyed a car wash in a poor suburb. In an unconfirmed report, a member of the rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying that the car wash was used by members of a pro-Assad militia. In Damascus, two bombs exploded on central al-Thawra Street, destroying nine cars. Early reports did not speak of casualties. Deadly violence continues in Syria despite the presence of more United Nations ceasefire monitors. Fifty monitors out of a planned total of 300 have already arrived.



Blind activist Chen awaiting departure from China
The blind Chinese rights advocate, Chen Guangcheng, says that he might return to China some day after he finishes studying law in the United States. Mr. Chen remains under guard in Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing where he was taken earlier this week after he gave up refuge at the U.S. embassy. Under an agreement arranged by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, China's government will allow Mr. Chen and his family to travel to the United States. But in an interview with Radio Free Asia, Mr. Chen declared that he was not planning to emigrate. He said that if China's government gives him his freedom, then he would be free to return some day to his homeland. The U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Gary Locke, says that Mr. Chen confirmed his wish to study in the United States when they spoke on Friday. It remains unclear when Mr. Cheng, his wife and child will have their travel documents approved. A human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, says that both of Mr. Cheng's ears were injured when he was beaten about the head by police after he entered the hospital.



Japan closes last nuclear plant
Japan is closing its last active nuclear reactor. On Saturday, Hokkaido Electric Power Company began shutting the Tomari nuclear plant in northern Japan. Once the reactor closes, Japan will be without nuclear-powered electricity for the first time since 1970. With 50 operating nuclear plants, Japan was the world's third-largest user of atomic energy. Public confidence in nuclear power was badly shaken last year when a huge tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing radiation to leak into the sea. Some government members are seeking approval to reopen two nuclear plants as a way to ease power shortages expected this summer.



Al-Qaeda 9/11 mastermind is arraigned


The man who confessed to planning the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States appeared at an arraigment on Saturday before a military tribunal at the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is charged with killing 2,976 people in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Mohammed has confessed to the charges, as well as to killing a Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Mohammed was captured in 2003 in Pakistan. Four alleged co-conspirators were also arraigned. The defendants removed earphones used for translation, however, and refused to answer any questions. Their trial is expected to take many months to complete. The defendants appeared in public for the first time in more than three years. As in previous hearings, several people who lost family members in the attacks were selected by lottery to travel to the base to watch the proceedings.

 



Explosion injures four police officers in Bahrain Shi'ite protests
A police officer in Bahrain suffered serious injury on Saturday when an improvised bomb exploded during a confrontation with protesters demanding the release of a rights activist. Three other officers were also wounded. The clash occurred in the viallge of Bani Jamra, west of the capital, Manama. Protesters have staged daily rallies in defence of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on a hunger strike for the past three months. He and his supporters have demanded more political influence for Bahrain's Shi'ite majority, claiming that the Sunni rulers are discriminating against Shi'ites. Western human rights groups say that Mr. Khawaja and 13 other imprisoned opposition figures are prisoners of conscience and should be freed. Bahrain's main opposition party has denounced the constitutional reforms that the king ratified on Thursday as inadequate.





Flaming balloons injure scores at Armenia election rally


An accident involving flaming balloons injured more than 140 people at a political campaign rally in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on Friday. Hundreds of small gas-filled balloons went up in flames apparently after one of them was accidentally touched by a lit cigarette. Nearby people in a crowd gathered in a city square fled in panic. Armenia's health minister says that victims are in satisfactory condition. Opinion polls show the Republican Party and its coalition ally, Prosperous Armenia, could win more than 60 per cent of the votes in Sunday's parliamentary election.



Prison sentences for trio who tortured Afghan child bride
The case of a child bride in Afghanistan who was tortured and abused has ended in a prison sentence for her husband, his mother and sister. Sahar Gul was forcibly kept in a basement for six months after her arranged marriage. The three accused were found guilty of breaking her fingers, torturing her with hot irons and other abuses in an attempt to force her to work as a prostitute. She was rescued by police in northeastern Baghlan province in December after an uncle alerted authorities. A court in Kabul on Tuesday sentenced the defendants to ten years in prison. News of the sentence was reported on Saturday. Ms. Gul was in the courtroom. She and a rights group, Women for Afghan Women, are appealing for a longer prison sentence. Afghanistan's patriarchal society continues to practice child marriage and giving girls away to settle debts or pay for their relatives' crimes.



France could have new president on Sunday
Voters in France's overseas territories began to cast ballots on Saturday in the second round of a national election that could see the fall of President Nicolas Sarkozy. The election is on Sunday, but voting was permitted on Saturday in French embassies and overseas holdings such as the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon near the Canadian Atlantic province of Newfoundland. Mr. Sarkozy is facing a strong challenge from the winner of the first round, Francois Hollande. Voters have witnessed a bitter electoral campaign whose major issues were employment, immigration and the future of France's economy.



Greece faces uncertain election
Political pollsters were unable to predict who might win an election in Greece on Sunday, described as one of the most important since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974. Greece is in an economic crisis brought on by years of extravagant social programs. Many Greeks have vigorously opposed the government's proposed austerity program. There are fears that further political chaos in Greece could aggravate the debt crisis in the euro zone. The latest opinion polls before a blackout on polls two weeks ago suggested that the conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK parties would come first and second in the election.



Polish opposition leader urging change of Euro 2012 soccer venue
An opposition leader in Poland is calling on Ukraine to move the Euro 2012 soccer championships from Kiev to Warsaw. Jaroslaw Kaczynski is leader of the conservative Law and Justice party. He made his appeal to protest against Ukraine's alleged mistreatment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in prison. Ms. Tymoshenko was found guilty of misuse of power in a trial last year that some Western governments say was politically motivated. Poland has criticized Ukraine for its treatment of Ms. Tymoshenko, but Mr. Kaczynski is the first leading politician to call for a change of the soccer tournament's venue. Poland and Ukraine are co-hosts of the month-long soccer tournament that begins on June 9. The final will be played in Kiev on July 1.






SPORTS


HOCKEY

Canada suffered a rare loss to the United States at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Helsinki on Saturday. Jack Johnson scored his second goal of the game in overtime to edge Canada 5-4. It was the first time the United States beat Canada at this event since 2001.



BASEBALL

For the first time since 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays pitchers have put together back-to-back complete game shutouts. Henderson Alvarez followed in the footsteps of Brandon Morrow with a six-hitter as the Blue Jays beat the Los Angeles Angels, 4-0, on Friday.



 






CANADA WEATHER


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, May 6. British Columbia will have variable cloudiness. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 12 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: mainly cloudy. Whitehorse, six. Northwest Territories: cloudy. Yellowknife, ten. Nunavut: overcast. Iqaluit, one. Alberta: sunny. Edmonton, minus 15. Saskatchewan: showers. Regina, nine. Manitoba: rain. Winnipeg, 13. Ontario: mainly sunny. Toronto: 16. Ottawa, 18. Quebec: sunny. Montreal, 16. New Brunswick: sunny. Fredericton, 15. Nova Scotia: variable cloudiness. Halifax, 13. Prince Edward Island: sunny. Charlottetown, eight. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, seven.