Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Two charged with mass smuggling of Sri Lankans
Two people have been charged with helping to smuggle a ship full of Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka into Canada. Lesly Jana Emmanuel and Kunarobinson Christhurajah are accused of organizing and aiding in the operation that brought 492 Tamils by boat to British Columbia's coast. The rusty MV Sun Sea landed off Victoria in August 2010 with the refugee claimants on board. The court indictment against the pair says they planned their crimes between August 2009 and August 2010 in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand. The Canadian government has launched an extradition request for a third man charged with similar offences and arrested in France. Six men from the ship remain in detention almost two years after they landed. Nineteen passengers have been issued deportation orders and six people have been accepted as refugees.

Unemployed won't be forced to relocate
The Canadian human resources minister says unemployed workers receiving EI benefits will not be forced to relocate or take jobs outside their skill set. Diane Finley says coming changes to the employment insurance program will be designed to help the unemployed get back to work quickly, and help businesses facing skills shortages. She says Canadians will not be cut off from receiving EI benefits for refusing to move or to accept inappropriate jobs. The minister fielded a stream of questions on the issue in the House of Commons after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called EI a disincentive to work and seemed to suggest any job should be acceptable to the unemployed. But Mrs. Finley's softer stance on the budget changes announced in March does not clear up the issue. Canadians won't know exactly what the government has in mind until new regulations on defining "suitable employment" are unveiled in the next few months.

G20 accused acquitted
An accused activist at the Toronto summit, Byron Sonne, has been acquitted of possessing explosives and counselling mischief. The judge said the Crown had failed to prove Mr. Sonne planned to combine chemicals he had to make bombs. The 39-year-old Mr. Sonne, 39, who spent 11 months in jail before winning bail, was arrested just days before the tumultuous June 2010 summit. Police seized numerous chemicals at his upscale home they said he planned to make into bombs. The self-described security geek claimed they were meant for his rocketry hobby, an explanation the judge said was a plausible explanation. Mr. Sonne also maintained he was trying to expose security gaps in the $1-billion summit security setup, something the judge said she accepted as a possibility.

Canadians said making excessive environmental impact
A report from the World Wildlife Fund says Canada has the eighth-largest ecological impact per person in the world. The ranking appears in the WWF's Living Planet Report and is based on demands placed on natural capital. Qatar tops the list while the United States ranks fifth. The report says biodiversity has declined globally by about 30 per cent between 1970 and 2008 while demands on natural resources have gone up. Canadians in particular are using approximately 3.5 times their share of the Earth's annual productivity. The head of WWF Canada, Gerald Butts, says the country's vast natural resources

will be lost for future generations if we don't reduce our demands on the planet.

Conservationist's lawyer shocked
The lawyer for Canadian conservation activist Paul Watson says his client is shocked over his arrest in Germany. Mr. Watson remains in custody after being arrested in Frankfurt on Saturday on an international warrant issued by Costa Rica. His arrest is the result of an alleged confrontation with his ship and a Costa Rican gun boat in 2002. He was accused of violating ship traffic during filming of a documentary in Guatemalan waters. German authorities are considering a request to have him extradited to Costa Rica. Mr. Watson heads the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It often uses confrontational tactics in its efforts to protect marine wildlife.

Alberta residents mark doleful anniversary
Residents of Slave Lake are marking the first year anniversary of the devastating wildfires that destroyed nearly one-third of the town. Alberta Premier Alison Redford says it is a celebration of rebuilding the community and also of remembering terrible days. Denny Garrett, the reeve of Lesser Slave Lake, thanked people who came from outside the area to help rebuild the town. The fires destroyed more than 500 homes and buildings, forced thousands of people to flee for their lives at an estimated cost of almost $1 billion.

Girl's killer gets life
A court in London, ON, has handed down an automatic life sentence of Michael Rafferty. He was found guilty on Friday of the first-degree murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford in April 2009. Raffterty did not testify in his own defence. The court heard testify of the crime from his former girlfriend and accomplice Terri-Lynne McClintic. In sentencing, the judge denounced Rafferty as a "monster."

Greek political leaders at loggerheads
Greek political leaders say Greece will hold a new election in June after days of talks failed to resolve the country's political deadlock. The May 6 election left no party with enough votes for a majority in parliament and repeated efforts over nine days to cobble together a coalition government proved fruitless. The protracted political uncertainty has worried Greece's international creditors, who have extended the country billions of euros in rescue loans over the past two years. The election campaign was dominated by the debate over Greek's dismal financial state and the strict austerity measures taken in return for the bailout. Anti-austerity parties on both the right and the left made huge gains in the vote.

NATO, Pakistan in rapprochement
NATO on Tuesday invited Pakistan's president to the upcoming Chicago summit on Afghanistan, the strongest sign yet that Islamabad is ready to reopen its western border to U.S. and NATO military supplies heading to the war in the neighbouring country. Pakistan blocked the routes in November after American airstrikes killed 24 of its troops on the Afghan border. The U.S. expressed regret for the airstrikes and has been quietly pressing Pakistan to reopen the routes over the last two weeks. Washington and NATO stepped up those efforts in recent days by making it clear Islamabad would not be welcome at the two-day summit beginning Sunday in Chicago unless it did so. In Islamabad, President Asif's Zardari's spokesman said the president would consider the invitation. The spokesman said it is not linked to any reopening of the supply lines.

Witness testifies against fugitive Iraqi VP
A bodyguard for Iraq's fugitive vice-president testified Tuesday that he was paid $3,000 to assassinate a government security official in one of hundreds of death squad killings that authorities link to one of the nation's highest-ranking Sunni leaders. The testimony came on the first day of the Iraqi government's terror trial against Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, who was not in court. He denies the charges that for years he ordered killings of Shi'ite pilgrims and government officials and says they are politically motivated. The case against Mr. al-Hashemi threatens to paralyze Iraq's government by fueling simmering Sunni and Kurdish resentments against the Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who critics claim is monopolizing power.

Mali Islamists block aid
Mali's Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine blocked an aid convoy with tonnes of food and medical supplies for the northern city of Timbuktu on Tuesday. The group objected to the presence of women in a reception committee set up for the aid. The convoy was the first aid deployed to Timbuktu since Mali's government lost control of the vast northern region to separatist and Islamist rebels. Tens of thousands of people have fled Mali's north since the rebel takeover. Many have fled to neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso

and Mauritania.

JP Morgan chief survives
The CEO of JPMorgan Chase survived a shareholder push Tuesday to strip him of the title of chairman of the board, five days after he disclosed a US-$2 billion trading loss by the bank. CEO Jamie Dimon also won a shareholder endorsement of his pay package from last year, which totalled $23 million. Mr. Dimon told shareholders at the JPMorgan annual meeting that the company's mistakes were "self-inflicted."

Most of the shareholder ballots were cast in the weeks before he revealed the trading loss. His pay package passed with 91 per cent of the vote. The vote to strip him of the chairman's title won only 40 per cent support. The bank did not announce separate results from before and after the loss was revealed. Mr. Dimon was confronted at the meeting by shareholders upset about the trading loss, which has rattled investor confidence in the bank and complicated JPMorgan's efforts to fight tougher regulation of Wall Street.

Europeans stage first land raid against Somali pirates
The European Union's naval force patrolling the Indian Ocean on Tuesday has carried out its first air strikes against pirates on shore. One pirate told the Associated Press that the raid destroyed speed boats, fuel depots and an arms store. The EU says helicopters took part in the attacks early in Tuesday morning. The EU is the main donor to the Somali transitional government. It is also trains Somali army troops, and is reinforcing the navies of five neighbouring countries to help them to fight piracy themselves.

Blind Chinese activist gets green light for U.S.
The U.S. State Department says U.S. visas for Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and his family are ready for them to travel to America once Beijing gives the green light. The department said Tuesday the visa processing was completed more than a week ago for Mr. Chen, his wife and two children, to allow him to study at a university in New York. Mr. Chen, a blind legal activist, has been sheltering at a Beijing hospital after his flight from house arrest to the U.S. Embassy in late April, triggering a diplomatic crisis.

Ukraine defends treatment of former prime minister
Ukraine's prime minister said Tuesday that his predecessor had been correctly convicted of abusing her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia, and invited European observers to watch her appeal. On a visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko had been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison by a judiciary that was free and independent. Mrs. Tymoshenko's appeal, however, was postponed in Ukraine on Tuesday on what her lawyers called political grounds. Mr. Azarov invited observers from the European Union nations to Ukraine to watch the appeal process. The prime minister says it is clear she falsified documents that led Ukraine to pay $8 billion a year extra for a gas contract with Russia. The 27-nation European Union has criticized her sentence as being politically motivated.

Software piracy worsening
The value of computer software piracy in Canada totalled just more than $1.1 billion last year with 40 per cent of computer users admitting they acquired software illegally. The Business Software Alliance study found that nearly one in three copies of software was unlicensed in Canada in 2011. The study also found that admitted software pirates in Canada were predominantly male between the ages of 25 and 34. Globally, the study found that piracy rates in emerging markets towered over those in mature markets, at 68 per cent, compared to 24 per cent, on average.

The Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 11,6487 - 206. Canadian dollar: US.99. Euro: $1.28. Oil: $93.11 - $1.67.


Canada's Ryder Hesjedal has lost the overall lead at the Giro d'Italia. Spanish rider Joaquin Rodriguez won the hilly 10th stage to grab the leader's pink jersey. Rodriguez is 17 seconds ahead of Hesjedal in the overall standings. The Victoria native was the first Canadian ever to lead the race.