Sunday, June 24, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Military on standby as Fraser River threatens floods
Hundreds of Canadian military personnel and forest firefighters are prepared to battle potential floods in British Columbia. The Fraser River has risen sharply over the past week as a result of heavy rain and melting snow. At least 17 homes were evacuated because of the flood threat in Abbotsford, 70 kilometres east of Vancouver. A state of emergency is in effect in the town. Evacuations were also ordered in the town of Chilliwack.

Prime Minister Harper and predecessor Brian Mulroney discuss Quebec strategy
After a breach of five years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has held discussions with former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Mr. Harper had forbidden members of his Conservative Party government from speaking with his predecessor after Mr. Mulroney was implicated in a scandal. Mr. Harper is in Quebec City this weekend to attend a party rally. In Montreal, the prime minister consulted with Mr. Mulroney about how to increase the party's popularity in Quebec. Mr. Mulroney had great success in seeking Quebec votes when he led the Conservative Party to victory in two federal elections. In the latest national election last year, Quebec largely voted for the opposition New Democratic Party. But in provincial politics, the governing Liberal Party has under fierce criticism for his handling of recent student protests and as a result of scandals linked to provincial government contracts. Mr. Harper hopes to generate more support for his party in Quebec to avoid the province from moving toward the Parti Quebecois, a party that favours Quebec's separation from Canada.

Families recall victims of Air India bombing at annual memorials
Family and friends of the victims of the Air India bombing planned on Saturday to stage memorial ceremonies in several Canadian cities. On that day 27 years ago, a terrorist bomb destroyed an Air India jetliner, which crashed off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board. Most of the passengers were Canadians. Memorial ceremonies were scheduled in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. The bombing was widely believed to be the work of Sikh extremists. Several suspects were arrested, but only one man, Indirjit Singh Rayat, was convicted.

China investing in Tibet tourism
China is going to develop tourism in southeastern Tibet. Twenty-two model villages will be built in Nyingchi county at a cost of just over $63 million. The villages will serve as family hotels. The region of mountains, valleys and rivers is about 300 kilometres from Tibet's capital, Lhasa. The aim is to create an international tourist destination. For the last few weeks, foreign tourists have been unable to visit Tibet under an unofficial travel ban. Chinese authorities close the region to foreigners during periods of unrest. This week, two more Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet and restrictions on Buddhist practices. In the past year, about 40 ethnic Tibetans have undergone self-immolation.

Results of Egypt's presidential election due on Sunday
The result of Egypt's runoff presidential election will be announced on Sunday. The news comes from a member of the committee overseeing the vote. The committee has been under public pressure to make the announcement after results were delayed earlier this week. Both runoff candidates, Islamist Mohamed Morsy and former prime minister Ahmed Shafik, had claimed victory and filed appeals to the committee. The military government declared that it would limit the powers of the president if Mr. Morsy was elected. Thousands of people have spent the last few days and nights in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand that the military drop its plan. If Mr. Morsy wins, Egypt's politics would see a dramatic shift. Many who fought last year on Tahrir Square to end President Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship are concerned that an Islamist government will discriminate against minorities, women, secular values and also jeopardize Egypt's dealings with the West.

Israeli and Palestinian forces exchanging attacks

Israeli forces have undertaken another air raid on Gaza. Two Palestinian militants were killed. Thirty other people were wounded. Palestinian militants also increased their rocket fire against Israel, wounding an Israeli man. The rocket assaults were described as the worst since violence escalated early this week. Israel launched punitive air raids on Monday after terrorists staged a cross-border raid from Egypt. Israel's military estimates that in the past week, more than 150 rockets in all were fired at Israeli territory. On Wednesday, a truce was brokered by Egypt, but it was soon broken. Israeli authorities urge about one million Israelis in southern Israel to stay indoors or close to fortified shelters.


New Greek prime minister undergoes eye surgery
Greece's new prime minister, Antonis Samaras has successfully undergone eye surgery. He had a partially severed retina. He will remain in hospital until Sunday. Mr. Samaras was sworn in on Wednesday at the head of a coalition government following an election last weekend. His government will try to renegotiate less harsh terms under which Greece can receive a multibillion-dollar bailout aimed at ending a huge debt crisis. One of his cabinet members, Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos, was also taken to hospital on Friday after fainting. Doctors say that his situation is stable and improving, but declined to say when he will be released.

Old faces predominate in new Syrian government
Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, has formed a new government as he promised after parliamentary elections last month, but key posts remain unchanged. Mr. al-Assad had promised to appoint more politicians from other parties, but he appointed a loyal party member, Riad Farid Hijab, as prime minister, and kept the same ministers in the foreign, defence and interior ministries. The reappointment of Defence Minister Daoud Rajha has silenced rumours that he was assassinated by rebels. Syria's power lies largely with President al-Assad and his closest advisors. Meanwhile, violence continues in Syria, where government forces are pursuing anti-government protesters.

Turkey vowing action against Syria following jet fighter crash
A search is underway for two Turkish military pilots whose jet fighter crashed near Syria's air space on Friday. Syria claims that its forces shot down the plane by accident after it entered Syrian territory. Turkey is vowing action against Syria if the claim is true. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has held a meeting with commanders from Turkey's military and the head of the intelligence service to discuss which steps to take. Turkish President Abdullah Gul says that jets traveling at high speeds routinely cross borders for a short distance. Turkey will investigate whether its plane was actually downed over Turkish air space. Turkey has been critical of Syria's violent handling of anti-government protests over the past year.

South American nations object as Paraguay impeaches president
South American states are reacting negatively to the impeachment of Paraguay's president, Fernando Lugo. He was removed from office on Friday by a vote in both Houses of Congress. He was found guilty of mishandling the police eviction of farmers from their land last week during which 17 police and peasant farmers were killed. His impeachment is being considered an illegal coup by a number of South American nations including Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia. In an address on national television, Mr. Lugo accepted his impeachment, but said that he always acted within the law. Mr. Lugo's vice-president and political opponent, Federico Franco, was sworn in as president to complete the last year of Mr. Lugo's term. Paraguay's constitution allows only one presidential term, so Mr. Lugo will have to step down in just over a year.

Progress slight as Rio environmental summit ends

The Rio environmental summit ended on Friday with virtually no progress in coming to a consensus about how to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental challenges. Canada's Environment Minister, Peter Kent, and his delegation were among the negotiators from 188 countries who met for three days in Rio de Janiero, 20 years after the initial Rio summit sounded warnings about growing damage to the world's environment. The premier of the Canadian province of Quebec, Jean Charest, also attended at the head of a small Quebec delegation. In its final document, the latest Rio summit reaffirmed much of the goals of the initial summit, but gave little or no explanation about how to achieve them. Delegates produced, however, nearly 700 promises and advances made by individual countries, companies and other organizations. The question remained whether they would fulfill their promises. The Group of 77 that represents the world's poorest nations repeated their demand that richer nations in Europe and the U.S. who have exploited the world's resources for centuries should therefore pay for environmental improvements in poor countries. The United States countered that the past is no longer a measuring stick because poorer nations are becoming more wealthy.


Bombardier workers to vote on contract
About 1,800 workers at the Canadian aerospace company, Bombardier, will vote on a tentative new contract on Sunday. The Canadian Auto Workers union says that it reached tentative agreements for Bombardier Aerospace workers in Toronto late on Friday night. The deals came just before a midnight strike deadline. No details of the agreements have been released.

Workers at Newfoundland's last paper mill accept new contract
Unionized workers at Newfoundland's last paper mill accepted a new contract on Friday night. Most of the 300 workers at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper accepted the deal from the mill's owner, Montreal-based Kruger. The agreement involves wage cuts. One stumbling block in negotiations was a demand to restructure the company's pension plan. Workers still need to vote on pension changes. But Premier Kathy Dunderdale says that much work remains to be done to secure the mill's future. The mill is the last paper mill standing in the province after two other plants in Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville shut down in the last seven years. Global demand for newsprint has steadily fallen in recent years. The province says that it will support the mill if a long-term sustainable plan is reached.

Toronto Stock Exchange
On the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday, June 22, the composite index closed up 27.23 points to 11,435.54.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 12,640.78, up 67.21 points.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 33.33 points at 2,892.42.

The Canadian dollar closed at 97.6 cents US on Friday, up 0.45 of a cent from Thursday's close.

The U.S. dollar stood at 102.46 cents Cdn, down 0.47 cents.

Pound sterling closed at C$1.5967, down 0.78 of a cent, and US$1.5584, down 0.04 of a cent.

The Euro was worth C$1.2818, down 0.93 of a cent.


Jose Bautista homered and drove in three runs as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Miami Marlins, 12-5, on Friday. Miami has lost five straight games and 14 of 16 overall so far this season.


The Calgary Stampeders wrapped up their Canadian Football League pre-season with a 33-31 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday.


The Edmonton Oilers selected Russian winger Nail Yakupov as NHL draft's number one pick on Friday. It was the third straight year that the Oilers owned the first overall pick. The 18-year-old scored 31 goals in 42 games last season for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. Yakupov is the first Russian-born player to be taken with the top pick since the Washington Capitals chose Alex Ovechkin in 2004. The Montreal Canadiens chose third and took centre Alex Galchenyuk, Yakupov's teammate at Sarnia.


Here is Canada's weather forecast for Sunday, June 24. British Columbia will be overcast. The high temperature in Vancouver will be 17 degrees Celsius. The Yukon: sunny. Whitehorse, 25. Northwest Territories: sunny. Yellowknife, 23. Nunavut: mainly sunny. Iqaluit, nine. Alberta: overcast. Edmonton, 22. Saskatchewan: clearing skies. Regina, 25. Manitoba: sunny. Winnipeg, 23. Ontario: increasing cloudiness. Toronto: 26. Ottawa, 26. Quebec: mainly sunny. Montreal, 27. New Brunswick: showers. Fredericton, 25. Nova Scotia: showers. Halifax, 22. Prince Edward Island: rain. Charlottetown, 18. Newfoundland: variable cloudiness. St. John's, 14.