Friday, June 22, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition du 21 June 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Magnotta declines psychiatric evaluation
Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man accused of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student in Montreal, made his second court appearance there on Thursday. But in a somewhat surprising decision, his lawyers did not request a psychiatric evaluation for their client.

Consequently, the judge took the next step by ordering a preliminary hearing on the charges. But that hearing not be held until next March.

The 29-year-old suspect is charged with the first-degree murder of Jun Lin, along with defiling his corpse. Magnotta, who has pleaded not guilty, is also accused of harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MPs, and publishing and mailing obscene material.

Magnotta is accused of mailing Lin's body parts to such places as the Ottawa offices of the Conservative and Liberal Parties and to two Vancouver schools. He is also accused of posting a video of the gruesome events on the Internet.

Magnotta arrived in Canada on Monday, shackled and surrounded by heavy security as he was returned from Germany aboard a military plane.

Guantanamo detainee's lawyers plead for action by Canada

Lawyers for Omar Khadr are repeating their demand that the Canadian government release the 25-year-old from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In October of 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to murdering an American soldier in Afghanistan.

A diplomatic deal was reached to allow him to serve his eight-year sentence in a Canadian prison. The U.S. signed off on the transfer in April. Ottawa has yet to formally ask the U.S. for Khadr's return.

Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson, Khadr's lead U.S. military lawyer, described the frustration of American officials that he's spoken with over why Canada has not formally requested that Khadr be transferred to Canada. "There's a great deal of frustration on the U.S. side," said
Jackson. "The U.S. is basically saying: approve this transfer so we can make it happen." U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta signed off of Khadr's transfer in April, he added.

Liberal Sen. Romeo Dallaire, a longtime advocate for child soldiers, joined Khadr's lawyers in making the plea.

Khadr has spent the last decade at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Harsh penalty for Canadian immigrants convicted of serious crime

Canada is proposing a harsh penalty for immigrants who commit a serious criminal offence.

Under the proposal, any immigrant sentenced to more than six months in jail would automatically be deported. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that immigrants who want to remain in Canada should not commit serious crimes.

The penalty is among other changes that the Conservative Party government wants to make to immigration laws.

Opponents say that the changes would give the Immigration Minister too much discretionary power. They say that he could refuse to grant temporary resident status or temporary visas to foreigners simply by invoking the public interest.

Under the proposed changes, Mr. Kenney could also grant dispensation of the law at his discretion.

Canada preparing contingency plan for Syria intervention
Canada's Department of National Defence is preparing plans for its role in a possible international invervention in Syria. So far, Canada has made no commitment to any intervention.

The Defence Department says that any talk of a military mission is premature, adding that the plans consist simply of looking at all options.

Canada ended its decade-long combat mission in Afghanistan last year and also took part in NATO's military mission in Libya.

Fewer Canadians receiving unemployment insurance benefits
Fewer Canadians were receiving unemployment insurance benefits in April. Benefits were paid to 513,700 people, a drop of 28,600 from the previous month.

Statistics Canada says the number of beneficiaries fell in nine of the ten provinces. The largest percentage declines were in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

April was the third consecutive month that saw a decline in the number of unemployed people receiving insurance benefits.

Aiming at household debt, Canada's government introduces new mortgage rules
In an effort to reduce household debts, Canada's finance minister, Jim Flaherty, has announced new rules governing home mortgages.

Jim Flaherty cut the maximum time for repaying a mortgage from 30 years to 25. He also limited the maximum loan that can be borrowed for refinancing homes to 80 per cent of the home's value, a cut of five per cent.

Mr. Flaherty has often spoken of Canadians' need to reduce their household debts. In the first quarter of last year, household debt reached a record high of 152 per cent of income.

Mr. Flaherty warns that Canadians could lose their homes if low mortgage rates that have last over the last several years suddenly rise.

Bank governor backs minister on debt moves
With global storm clouds gathering, particularly in Europe, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney says Canada's recovery cannot continue to count on debt-fuelled spending.

Carney says the Canadian economy's relatively favourable performance since the recession has been largely fuelled by debt, particularly households borrowing for homes and cars and other items.

The central bank governor's stern words to a business audience in Halifax came just hours after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty moved to clamp down on household lending by reducing the amortization period on mortgages to 25 years from 30, and by limiting home equity loans.

Carney makes clear that he endorses the moves, calling them "prudent" and "timely" to support the long-term stability of the housing market and guard against financial excesses.

A sustainable recovery, he says, needs a fundamental transformation of the global economic and financial architecture.

Report cites high cost of absenteeism in Canada's public service

A confidential Canadian government report obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reveals federal workers have been taking sick days in record high numbers. Lost work hours alone are costing Canadian taxpayers more than one billion dollars a year.

On average, federal workers are sick for four weeks each year.

The rate of absenteeism in the federal public service is far highter than in the rest of the public sector, and more than double the rate in private industry.

Some employment specialists say that large staff reductions in the federal service have caused inordinate stress on workers.

The report aimed to serve as a blueprint to make changes to sick-leave policies. But a year after the report was filed, no changes are apparent.

Parliament ends latest session
Canada's Parliament rose on Thursday for its annual summer break.

The last month of the Spring session was dominated by a debate over the Conservative Party government's wide-ranging budget bill.

The Conservative Party used its majority in Parliament to pass the bill, which will become law this week.

Parliament resumes sitting on September 17.


Aung San Suu Kyi addresses Britain's parliament
Aung San Suu Kyi took advantage Thursday of a rare honour - she addressed both houses of Britain's parliament. The champion of Burmese democracy received a standing ovation on arrival, introduced as "the conscience of a country and a heroine for humanity".

In her speech, the 67-year-old Nobel laureate spoke of the opportunity to reestablish true democracy in Burma. "It is", she said, "an opportunity for which we have waited decades."

Suu Kyi, who became only the second woman after Queen Elizabeth to address both houses of Britain's parliament, is in Britain as part of a 17-day tour of Europe.

British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier on Thursday said Burmese President Thein Sein will travel to London in the coming months for talks on reform, a move Suu Kyi said she supported despite the president's background in Burma's military junta.

Tibetans stage more self-immolation protests
Two more Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against China's rule in Tibet and a clampdown on Buddhism. One man died from the flames, while the other was badly hurt. Both were in their early twenties.

The latest self-immolations occurred in west China's Qinghai province, where many ethnic Tibetans live.

Over the past year, Tibetans have staged more than 30 self-immolations. China blames Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting the self-immolations.

The Dalai Lama says the acts are the result of China's repressive policies in Tibet.

Thousands fleeing attacks in Ivory Coast
More than thirteen thousand people in southwestern Ivory Coast have fled their homes following violent attacks by armed men.

Five attacks this month killed at least 22 people, including seven United Nations peacekeepers.

U.N. peacekeepers and Ivorian soldiers say that the border with Liberia needs to be better secured to protect the population.

Ivory Coast blames the attacks on former militia loyal to Ivory Coast's former president, Laurent Gbagbo. His refusal to step down after elections two years ago led to six months of violence. Gagbo is facing war crimes charges at the international court in The Hague.

Following his arrest, many of his armed supporters fled across the border to Liberia.

Psychiatric care recommended for Norwegian mass killer
Confronted by conflicting psychiatric reports, Norweigian prosecutors asked a Norwegian court on Thursday to declare mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik insane. The prosecutors said they could not be sure that the perpetrator of Norway's worst peacetime massacre was not responsible for his actions, but had to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The final decision will rest with the two professional and three lay judges who have promised to announce a ruling by August 24th. The trial ends with closing defence arguments on Friday.

It was almost a year ago that Breivik first detonated a bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight, then systematically gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp run by the ruling Labour Party on the island of Utoeya. The youngest was just 14.

Many feared dead after refugee ship capsizes in Indian Ocean
Efforts are underway in the Indian Ocean to find survivors of a boat carrying about 200 refugees that capsized on Thursday. At least 73 survivors were rescued by ships in the region.

The boat capsized about 200 kilometres north of Australia's territory of Christmas Island. Christmas Island is a popular target for refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

The nationality of the passengers is not known, but many refugees from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka try to reach asylum aboard overcrowded fishing boats.

Australian and Indonesian navy ships are taking part in the rescue.

Russia's president promising fair, wide-ranging financial reforms
Russian President Vladimir Putin is promising financial reforms to encourage more foreign investment.

Speaking to an investment forum in St. Petersburg, Mr. Putin said that his government has a program for large-scale reforms and privitization. He said that privitization must be carried out in a fair and honest way, a reference to privitization deals in the past in which a small number of people amassed immense wealth and power.

Mr. Putin reasserted his commitment to a floating currency and the free flow of capital.

Last year, about 80 billion dollars left Russia.

Mr. Putin also lashed out against protesters, saying that he would not permit protests to develop into civil unrest.

Russia's government recently introduced heavy fines against people who stage large unauthorized demonstrations.

Russia admits sending helicopters to Syria
Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed on Thursday that a ship is transporting three Russian helicopters to Syria.

Earlier this week, Russia was accused of providing attack helicopters to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its fight against anti-government rebels.

The ship, Alaed, left the Russian port of Murmansk earlier this month under the flag of Curacao.

The ship's voyage was interrupted when a British insurance company withdrew the ship's insurance coverage because its cargo contravened United Natioons sanctions.

The ship is expected to return to Murmansk on Saturday, where it will depart again under a Russian flag.

Mr. Lavrov says that the three helicopters are being returned to Syria following repair. Russia says that the helicopters are used for defence, not attack. The ship's cargo includes air defence systems as well.

Syrian pilot defects
In what the rebels consider a triumph, an officer in the normally loyal Syrian air force has defected to Jordan.

The pilot, identified as Col. Hassan Hammadeh, kneeled on the tarmac in prayer after landing his plane at a Jordanian air base.

A Jordanian security official said officials were questioning the defector, but he will be allowed to stay in the country on "humanitarian grounds."

The Syrian regime has been hit with defections before, although none as dramatic as the fighter pilot's.

Facing crisis, Greece's new prime minister and cabinet are sworn in

The leader of Greece's conservative New Democracy Party, Antonis Samaras, was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday as Greece faces its biggest crisis since the Second World War.

Mr. Samaras leads a coalition government that includes PASOK, the socialist party that dominated Greek politics for almost 40 years. His new cabinet includes members of all three coalition parties.

Mr. Samaras is promising to seek less harsh terms for Greece's multi-billion-dollar international bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is warning of a big battle with the E.U. to achieve a new bailout deal that would promote growth and contain unemployment. But Mr. Samaras vows not to jeopardize Greece's membership in the euro zone.


Markets take a dive
The Toronto stock market plummeted three per cent, closing 350 points lower in its biggest one-day drop since November.

The S&P/TSX fell 351.03 points to 11,408.32 with all sectors in negative territory. The index was dragged down by resource stocks as commodity prices tumbled amid separate reports that showed a manufacturing slowdown in three of the world's largest economies.

The bad news also took a toll on Wall Street markets, with the Dow Jones losing 250.82 points to 12,573.57, the S&P 500 down 30.18 points to 1,325.51 and the Nasdaq shedding 60.72 points to 2,859.09.

The Canadian dollar closed at 97.15 cents US on Thursday, down 0.97 of a cent from Wednesday's close.

The U.S. dollar stood at 102.93 cents Cdn, up 1.01 cents.

Pound sterling closed at C$1.6045, up 0.34 of a cent, and US$1.5588, down 1.21 cents.

The Euro was worth C$1.2911, down 0.18 of a cent.

RBC downgraded

The Royal Bank of Canada and 14 non-Canadian banks with global operations saw their credit ratings downgraded Thursday by ratings agency Moody's Investor Service.

Moody's cut RBC's long-term deposit rating by two notches to Aa3, saying it faces a high probability of needing government support because of the exposure of its global investment banking operations to a possible financial crisis.

The Royal Bank, Canada's largest, downplayed the downgrade, insisting it will not affect its clients and will have a minimal impact on its business.

"RBC remains one of the strongest and highest rated banks in the world. That category crosses a number of classifications in terms of credit ratings, in terms of capital base and in terms of balance sheet," the bank said in a statement.

"While Moody's has changed their overall view of the capital markets industry, RBC Capital Markets has been consistently profitable, thanks to a strategic and measured approach to growth and prudent risk management," RBC said in a statement.

The announcement came after the close of markets on Thursday.

Retail sales
Retail sales in Canada slipped 0.5 per cent in April to 38.9-billion, more than offsetting the gain in March.

Statistics Canada says lower sales were reported in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 78 per cent of retail sales.

In volume terms, retail sales were down 0.8 per cent, the third decline in four months.


The Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-3, on Wednesday. The Blue Jays lost two out of three games to Milwaukee.

In Canadian Football League pre-season play, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats edged the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 26-25, on Wednesday. Ticats quarterback Henry Burris passed for 188 yards and ran in a touchdown.

Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins centre, won the Hart Trophy as the National Hockey League's most valuable player on Wednesday. He also collected the Art Ross Trophy as the league scoring champ and the Ted Lindsay Award from his peers as the League's best player. New York Ranger Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the League's best goalie while Ottawa's Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy as the top defenceman. Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie. Ken Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Trophy as the top coach for the first time in his lengthy career.


Friday June 22, 2012
VANCOUVER: Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers in the morning. Periods of rain beginning late in the morning. High 17.
EDMONTON: Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 25.
CALGARY: A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers early in the evening. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h near noon. High 21.
SASKATOON: Sunny. High 24.
REGINA: Sunny. High 24.
WINNIPEG: Sunny. High 24.
THUNDER BAY: Sunny early in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 40 percent chance of showers in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High 23.
TORONTO: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the morning. High 25.
OTTAWA: A mix of sun and cloud. High 28.
MONTREAL: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. High 28.
FREDERICTON: Mainly cloudy. A few showers beginning in the morning and ending in the afternoon then 60 percent chance of showers in the evening. Risk of thundershowers in the morning and afternoon. Amount 5 to 10 mm. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 23.
HALIFAX: Mainly cloudy. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. High 20 except 16 along parts of the coast.
CHARLOTTETOWN: A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy in the evening. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind becoming south 20 km/h in the evening. High 23.
ST. JOHN'S: Cloudy with 60 percent chance of drizzle in the morning. Clearing in the morning. Fog retreating to the coast. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 17 except 13 in onshore winds.
HAPPY VALLEY - GOOSE BAY: Mainly sunny. High 26
WHITEHORSE: Mainly sunny. High 25.
YELLOWKNIFE: Sunny. High 22.
IQALUIT: Periods of rain or drizzle. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the morning then increasing to 40 gusting to 60 late in the evening. Temperature steady near plus 5.

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