Romo plays through pain to lead Cowboys past Redskins; Dallas’ points all on FGs

ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo’s broken rib hurt so much he needed a second pain-killing injection. His centre had a tendency to snap the ball too soon or to the wrong spot. And he couldn’t get into the end zone no matter what, not even with a first down on the two-yard line.

Yet Romo and the Dallas Cowboys did the only thing that mattered. They won.

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Dan Bailey kicked six field goals, including a go-ahead 40-yarder with 1:52 left, and linebacker Anthony Spencer forced a fumble that teammate Sean Lee recovered with 28 seconds left, giving the Cowboys an 18-16 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.

“It feels good right now because we won,” Romo said, smiling and wincing. “I’ll be all right.”

Romo was 22 of 36 for 255 yards. His best stat was simply lasting all four quarters.

The fact that he needed a second injection could explain the quarter-sized blotch of blood that appeared on his jersey above his left hip during the game. After the game, he joked that his new bride forced him to play, saying, “I can’t have a weak husband lying around the house.”

“I want to play,” Romo said. “We only get to go out and do this 16 times, 16 days out of 365 days a year. You want to be out there. You put so much effort, when you go, you go.”

Romo was hardly hit in the first half, then the Redskins got in several crushing blows starting just after halftime. That’s also when the snaps became an issue. He couldn’t hide his frustration with new centre Phil Costa, and clearly wasn’t happy with receiver Kevin Ogletree after an incompletion at the end of the drive that reached the two-yard line; that failure forced Dallas to settle for its fifth field goal and a 16-15 deficit instead of a go-ahead touchdown.

Rob Ryan’s re-energized Dallas defence got the ball back quickly, and Romo took advantage. Another bad snap left the Cowboys with a third-and-21, and Romo followed with a rollout to his right and a deep pass to Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain. Another 15 yards were tacked on because of a facemask penalty on the beaten defender – cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who last week said he was hoping “to put my helmet on whatever’s hurt” on Romo and all other wounded Cowboys.

Hall had plenty more to say after the game. In an expletive-filled interview, he questioned the eight-man front on Bryant’s catch and the official’s decision to flag him.

“I told the ref after that call, that might have been his worst call of the game,” Hall said. “He’s going to get demerit points for that call. Because that wasn’t no facemask.”

When Washington quarterback Rex Grossman’s fumble was recovered by Lee, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist wildly. He had good reason to celebrate: Dallas was about to be 2-1, guaranteeing no repeat of last year’s miserable 1-7 start. The Cowboys are even tied for first place in the NFC East, along with Washington (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 2005.

“We’re better than last year – already,” Dallas linebacker Bradie James said.

This was the second straight game that a Romo-Bailey tandem pulled out a victory. Against San Francisco a week ago Sunday, Bailey made a tying field goal at the end of regulation, then the winner in overtime.

Bailey’s other kicks Monday night covered 41 (twice), 32, 27 and 23 yards.

“We had good snaps, good holds, great protection. I had the easy job,” said Bailey, an undrafted rookie who was named the nation’s top kicker in college last season at Oklahoma State. “Whenever you can string a couple of kicks together, it’s a confidence booster.”

Romo wasn’t the only Dallas player who gutted it out.

Bryant missed the previous game with a thigh injury, yet had four catches for 63 yards. Felix Jones, who separated a shoulder against the 49ers, ran for a career-high 115 yards and caught three passes for 40 more. Jason Witten fought through a rib injury to catch six passes for 60 yards.

“It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but enough to win the game,” Garrett said.

The Dallas defence limited the Redskins to field goals on two of their first three drives, the latter reaching the Dallas nine-yard line.

Grossman really only had one solid drive, a 76-yarder capped by a one-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower that put Washington up 16-9. The Redskins never even crossed midfield after that, punting on three straight drives then losing the fumble.

“It feels like the waste of a week,” tight end Chris Cooley said. “We’re capable of winning a division game on the road. I’m disappointed with the way we finished.”

Grossman was 22 of 37 for 250 yards. He was sacked three times – once by DeMarcus Ware, his NFL-leading fifth – and threw an interception.

Explaining his game-deciding fumble, Grossman said, “I was trying to make a play. I felt like I could get the ball to Santana (Moss). I obviously couldn’t.”

Most of the Redskins’ points came from Graham Gano, who made field goals of 50, 46 and 27 yards. Another was blocked after a poor hold.

“We’re going to find out what type of football team we have,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “When you lose like that it hurts. We don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself.”

Notes: This was Dallas’ ninth straight game decided by three points or less. … Dallas improved to just 9-8 at Cowboys Stadium. The Redskins are 0-3. … Bailey had the most field goals for Dallas since Billy Cundiff kicked seven in 2003. … Washington’s LaRon Landry had four tackles and forced a fumble in his first game since November because of injuries. … This was the 15th Dallas-Washington game on a Monday night. The only teams that have met more are Denver-Raiders, 16 times.


More supermarkets bagging do-it-yourself checkout lanes in name of customer service

MANCHESTER, Conn. – When Keith Wearne goes grocery shopping, checking out with a cashier is worth the few extra moments, rather than risking that a self-serve machine might go awry and delay him even more.

Most shoppers side with Wearne, studies show. And with that in mind, some grocery store chains nationwide are bagging the do-it-yourself option, once considered the wave of the future, in the name of customer service.

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“It’s just more interactive,” Wearne said during a recent shopping trip at Manchester’s Big Y Foods. “You get someone who says hello; you get a person to talk to if there’s a problem.”

Big Y Foods, which has 61 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, recently became one of the latest to announce it was phasing out the self-serve lanes. Some other regional chains and major players, including some Albertsons locations, have also reduced their unstaffed lanes and added more clerks to traditional lanes.

Market studies cited by the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute found only 16 per cent of supermarket transactions in 2010 were done at self-checkout lanes in stores that provided the option. That’s down from a high of 22 per cent three years ago.

Overall, people reported being much more satisfied with their supermarket experience when they used traditional cashier-staffed lanes.

Supermarket chains started introducing self-serve lanes about 10 years ago, touting them as an easy way for shoppers to scan their own items’ bar codes, pay, bag their bounty and head out on their way. Retailers also anticipated a labour savings, potentially reducing the number of cashier shifts as they encouraged shoppers to do it themselves.

The reality, though, was mixed. Some shoppers loved them and were quick converts, while other reactions ranged from disinterest to outright hatred – much of it shared on blogs or in Facebook groups.

An internal study by Big Y found delays in its self-service lines caused by customer confusion over coupons, payments and other problems; intentional and accidental theft, including misidentifying produce and baked goods as less-expensive varieties; and other problems that helped guide its decision to bag the self-serve lanes.

Wearne, 39, a Tolland resident who owns a power-washing service, reluctantly used a self-serve lane at the Manchester Big Y to ring up granola bars and a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft but had to wait while a clerk checked his identification.

If he hadn’t seen the clerk standing there immediately ready to help, he said, he would have used the traditional lanes, as he usually does.

But for time-crunched Greg Styles, a self-described “get-it-and-go type of guy,” the top priority is paying and leaving without lingering in a checkout lane.

Styles, a 47-year-old South Windsor resident, says the convenience of the self-serve lanes fits into his busy life as a college lacrosse coach and father of 7-year-old twins.

“I’m not happy about it, not at all,” Styles said of the change, ringing up baked goods and chicken breasts on a recent afternoon at Big Y’s Manchester store. “I like to get in and get out. These lanes are quick and really easy, so I use them all the time.”

He’s not the typical shopper, though, according to research.

While some chains are reducing their self-serve options, others say they’re keeping it in place along with the traditional lanes because they think giving shoppers that choice is an important part of customer service.

“Our philosophy is giving customers options. People shop in different ways and we want to accommodate their preferences,” said Suzi Robinson, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., which has self-serve lanes in about 85 per cent of its nearly 400 stores in the Northeast.

Another chain, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC, has said it’s phasing out self-service lanes. Kroger says it’s keeping the self-service option because customers like it, although one remodeled store replaced it with another quick-checkout method that uses a cashier.

Phil Lempert, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based food industry analyst, noted that supermarkets have a few other motivations to get rid of the self-serve lanes beyond customer service.

They will eventually need to replace their checkout computers to read newly emerging types of bar codes, so there’s little business sense in keeping and replacing those self-serve machines if they’re not well-used anyway, he said.

Perhaps more important, he said, the growing trend toward using bar code-reading programs on smartphones is likely to change everything in supermarket shopping over time.

Some scholars who follow the retail food industry say decisions by Big Y and others to do away with the self-serve checkout lanes aren’t necessarily the death knell of the trend. Home Depot and some other businesses, which cater to customers with a do-it-yourself mentality, report success with their self-serve lanes.

But not all supermarket shoppers share that mentality, and whether they embrace or reject the self-serve option may come down to demographics – such as whether they’re in a tech-savvy region – and other factors that the supermarkets cannot control.

“I think some of the stores are just deciding that, on the balance, it’s a negative. Other stores, because they have a different composition of shoppers, are deciding to keep it,” John Stanton, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said of the self-serve option.

“I don’t think this is as much a referendum on the technology as much as it is a match between the technology and the customer base,” he said.


Borough mayors ask AMT to reconsider fare hikes

 The mayors of Montreal’s suburbs are asking AMT to reconsider proposed fare increases of as much as 20%.

To some borough mayors the recent decision by the AMT to re-zone train stations seems completely arbitrary. For Michel Bissonnet, the city’s point man on transit, fee hikes for some train users simply because the AMT has decided to revisit zoning is unacceptable.

“Particularly in Ville Lasalle, in Lachine, in St-Laurent, in Ahuntsic, there’s 4 stations there and the tariff is class number one.”

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The AMT wants to change the zoning classification for those sectors to class two. The reason?
The stations are more than 8 kilometers away from the city. That means users who are accustomed to paying a lower rate because they’re closer to downtown could see the cost of their monthly passes increase by 21%. An increase that some borough mayors worry will be an even bigger financial burden on their citizens.

“Just realize that it’s close to $20 per month for an adult, 12 multiplied by $20. So you’re $240 just for 1 person, so a family of four its more than five, six hundred dollars per year. It’s like another tax finally,” says Lachine mayor Claude Dauphin.

The AMT announced the changes a couple of weeks ago, now the mayors of the affected boroughs, as well as a couple who don’t even have train service in their sectors yet, are speaking out.

The borough of St-Laurent, for example, has two stations in zone two and one in zone one. That zone one station is now slated to become zone two.

“It penalizes people who can least afford it,” says St-Laurent mayor Alan de Sousa, “it penalizes students it doesn’t make any sense at all that to raise the tariffs at Montepelier touches 632 thousand people.”

People, he says, who could instead take the metro from Cote Vertu and save themselves nearly $30 a month.

Lasalle is in the same situation. They’re trying to re-zone industrial land to develop housing, that would include bus and train service.

“So in this area people will be able to, you know, to use no car at all to go to work but now we are losing this incentive to move in this area because of the big increase in price,” says Lasalle mayor Manon Barbe.

The mayors hope that by challenging the rate hike, the amt will revisit its decision. They plan on presenting their motion to city council.

 


Williams Lake mom says police punched her handcuffed daughter

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is calling for an independent investigation after a mother from Williams Lake alleged an RCMP officer punched her daughter in the face while she was handcuffed in the back of a police car.

On September 10 Jamie Haller, 17, was reportedly running away from what her mother called the ‘Indian Outlaws’ when someone called the police on her behalf. In a statement from Jamie’s mom, she says she found her daughter on the ground and crying, with police cars surrounding her.

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“I saw Jamie on the ground, crying and handcuffed,” said her mother, Martina Jeff. “I got out and ran towards her. She was having a panic attack. She is very small and has never been in trouble with police before.”

She was not allowed contact with her daughter, who was then reportedly placed in the back of a police car. Jamie started to kick the windows and yell for her mom, and her mom said she heard one of the officers say “keep kicking and you’ll see what happens.”

“He put his whole upper body in the car and started punching,” said Jeff in a statement…”When I looked in the car I saw my daughter. Her face started swelling really bad. There was blood coming down on each side of her mouth. She was handcuffed, with her hands behind her back.”

The BCCLA is asking for a review from a senior officer outside the Williams Lake RCMP detachment.

Jeff says she was able to pick her daughter up from the police station the morning of September 11. She was not charged, and reportedly received no medical attention. She took her to emergency right away.

Her mother says her daughter was not able to go to school for a week due to the injury to her eye, and she could not work because her boss said her face was too marked up.

“The community needs confidence that these serious allegations will be investigated fully, promptly and as impartially as possible under our current system. If wrongs were committed, the public wants to know that they will be dealt with in accordance with the law – whether those involved are employed as law enforcement officers or are members of the public,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., president of the BCCLA. “The community needs to trust that when someone calls 911 for the police, they will be treated with respect and not end up in hospital because of injuries sustained due to police actions.”


A French onion soup that ups the onions and adds mushrooms for good measure

French onion soup is a classic well suited for fall. The dark, rich broth and cheese-encrusted top are perfect for fending off a chilly evening.

For our version, we added a few more members of the onion family (leeks and shallots), a handful of herbs, as well as the earthiness of mushrooms. If you’d like to keep it vegetarian, you can swap out the beef and chicken broths for vegetable broth.

Onion and Mushroom Soup

Start to finish: 1 hour

1 pkg (60 g/2 oz) dried porcini or similar mushrooms

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250 ml (1 cup) boiling water

75 ml (5 tbsp) butter, divided

3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

50 ml (1/4 cup) white wine

2 leeks, white parts only, cleaned and sliced

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh rosemary

45 ml (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour

500 ml (2 cups) chicken broth

500 ml (2 cups) beef broth

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

4 slices stale crusty bread

4 slices fontina cheese

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Cut or break dried mushrooms into small pieces and place in a heat-safe bowl. Pour boiling water over mushroom pieces and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the butter. Add onions and cook slowly until well browned, stirring regularly, 15 to 20 minutes. If onions begin to get too browned, add a couple teaspoons of water. When onions are browned and caramelized, add wine and stir to deglaze pan. Add leeks, shallots, garlic, thyme, rosemary and remaining 30 ml (2 tbsp) butter.

Increase heat to medium-high and cook until leeks are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat everything. Pour in chicken and beef broths, then stir well and bring to a boil. Add steeped mushrooms (including liquid), then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat broiler.

Ladle soup into 4 oven-safe crocks. Top each with a slice of stale bread, then a slice of the cheese. Arrange crocks on a rimmed baking sheet, then place under broiler and cook until cheese is melted and begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve topped with fresh chives.

Makes 4 servings.


We had to know: What sort of muffin could we bake if we spent $16 a pop?

So political kerfuffle aside, you have to wonder exactly what a $16 muffin would taste like.

Last week’s news that the government supposedly paid $16 apiece for breakfast muffins at a U.S. Justice Department conference set off critics of government spending.

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Hilton Worldwide, the hotel company that hosted the 2009 confab in Washington, disputes the accuracy of the claim in a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The hotel called it an accounting thing, explaining that the price included various drinks and gratuity charges, in addition to the muffins. The IG stands by the report.

Which all kind of misses the most compelling issues. If you did spend $16 on a muffin, what would it look like? How would it taste? Is it even possible?

The typical muffin baked in an institutional setting such as a hotel costs about 50 cents or less, not counting labour. If you go crazy extravagant and reach for the top-shelf organic flour, maybe some hand-harvested wild blueberries from Maine and fancy sugar, you’re still going to max out around $1 per muffin on raw ingredients.

Here in The Associated Press test kitchen, we started searching for ways to bump up the price of your basic muffin. The end result was anything but basic. We’re also pretty certain you’ll never see one of these babies served at a government conference.

Getting the price-per-muffin that high was hard. We took the obvious steps first – organic flour, sugar and milk, cultured butter, sea salt and free-range eggs. But we still weren’t even close. A rare honey imported from Zambia helped, as did a healthy amount of pricey macadamia nuts and some Tahitian vanilla beans.

But in the end, the only way to get to $16 was to reach for some old-fashioned booze and gold. That’s right, we glazed our muffins with a chocolate sauce made from organic dark chocolate cut with reduced Scotch whisky (the good stuff!) and edible gold-leaf flakes.

The result? A rather stunning and intense muffin that would cost a mere $192 per dozen (not counting labour) – or $16 each.

$16 Muffins

Start to finish: 1 hour

Muffins

625 ml (2 1/2 cups) organic all-purpose flour

15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt

90 ml (6 tbsp or 3/4 stick) unsalted cultured butter

125 ml (1/2 cup) maple sugar

125 ml (1/2 cup) imported honey (the rarer the better)

Seeds scraped from 2 Tahitian vanilla beans

2 free-range organic eggs

125 ml (1/2 cup) organic milk

500 ml (2 cups) chopped dried strawberries (soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drained)

250 ml (1 cup) chopped macadamia nuts, lightly toasted

Topping

500 ml (2 cups) top-shelf Scotch whisky

500 g (1 lb) high-end, organic dark chocolate, chopped, divided

30 ml (2 tbsp) unsalted cultured butter

30 ml (2 tbsp) imported honey (the bigger the carbon footprint, the better)

5 ml (1 tsp) canola or vegetable oil

12 fresh strawberries

250 ml (1 cup) chopped macadamia nuts, lightly toasted

50 ml (1/4 cup) gold leaf flakes, loosely packed

Heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Line 12 muffin tins with muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and sea salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, maple sugar, honey and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl between additions. Add half the flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour mixture, beating and scraping bowl between each addition.

By hand, stir in dried strawberries and macadamia nuts. Spoon mixture into lined muffin tins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

While muffins bake, prepare topping. In a skillet, heat Scotch whisky (be careful, it will flame). Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce to 125 ml (1/2 cup).

In a heat-safe bowl, place half of the chocolate, butter and honey. Pour hot reduced liquor over chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, then stir until completely smooth and glossy. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine remaining chocolate with oil. Microwave on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between, until completely melted and smooth. One at a time, dunk each strawberry into chocolate, covering about three-quarters of the berry. Set on waxed paper, then refrigerate for several minutes to harden chocolate.

Once muffins are cool, spoon chocolate glaze over top of each, spreading it to coat top surface. Sprinkle macadamia nuts around outer edge, then sprinkle gold leaf over centre surface. Top each with a chocolate-covered strawberry.

Makes 12 very over-the-top muffins.

Source: Recipe by Alison Ladman.


Woman testifies at torture case abouthorror of seeing her ex in hospital

CALGARY – Lindsay Airhart was horrified to see how her former boyfriend had deteriorated from the big, strong, carefree man she had known to the bruised, beaten and emaciated individual lying in a hospital bed looking back at her.

“He was a frail, lifeless body,” Airhart said softly from the witness stand. “He looked like he had been starved. He had burn marks inside of his legs. Every couple of inches there was a cut or a bruise. Some were infected. Some were new and some were old.”

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Airhart was the first witness Tuesday at the trial of Dustin Paxton. The Crown alleges Paxton brutalized, tortured and starved his former roommate over a period of years before dropping him off at a Regina hospital in April 2010.

The 31-year-old is charged with aggravated assault, unlawful confinement and sexual assault. The roommate, who just turned 28, can’t be named because of a court-ordered publication ban. Paxton has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Airhart, 29, testified that she and the alleged victim had had a relationship and even though they eventually split up, they remained good friends.

She described her former boyfriend as being about five-foot-eight and weighing 220 pounds – slightly overweight, but a happy and healthy individual.

Airhart told court that after the two broke up, her former boyfriend and Paxton became good friends. When Paxton moved to Calgary, she wasn’t surprised that her ex-boyfriend went with him from Winnipeg, she said.

Airhart kept in touch with the man, but that contact eventually stopped and she got worried. She said she reached out to Paxton and was told there had been an accident – her former boyfriend was in hospital after having an industrial freezer fall on him at work.

Airhart said she went to Calgary to visit him after he got out of the hospital.

She noticed Paxton’s mood had changed for the worst.

“He was grumpy. You could tell in his voice and physical attitude he just wasn’t happy,” she said.

What’s worse, she said, the two men didn’t appear to be friends any more.

“(Paxton) treated him like a piece of crap,” said Airhart. “At one point he got angry and sent him to his room.”

Her concerns magnified when she caught up with her former boyfriend again on another visit to Calgary.

“He looked sick,” she said. “He was tiny. His skin was yellow. He said everything was OK and it was his job that was taking its toll.

“The next time I saw him was when he was dropped off at the hospital in Regina.”

The man was down to less than 90 pounds when he was admitted. Crown prosecutor Joe Mercier said the victim was a mere shadow of his former self.

“He was dropped off at the Regina General Hospital in critical condition,” the prosecutor said. “He was severely malnourished, he had wounds over his entire body and his lips were severely damaged.”

Mercier said he intends to call 50 witnesses during the trial, which is scheduled to run five weeks, who will testify that Paxton dominated his roommate. Mercier said he will be calling an expert witness who deals with human captivity and who will explain the extent of the containment and domination suffered by the victim.

“I expect the evidence to show that Mr. Paxton began to mentally and then physically dominate,” said Mercier.

“They will also testify to the steady degradation of his mental and physical state. He began to lose weight and constantly had injuries to his face and ears and was totally submissive to Mr. Paxton.

” Mr. Paxton controlled his movements.”


Container-grown perennials can quickly go to pot if not overwintered properly

Perennials and containers make a great gardening combination, but they will quickly go to pot if overlooked in the winter.

Plant roots are vulnerable to freezing in containers, where the soil hardens more than it would in the ground. Stems and branches – particularly those on small trees and shrubs – need protection from the deep chill as well as from snow and icy buildups. Containers should be cared for to prevent splintering and crumbling.

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“The most important thing you can do when overwintering container plants is ensure that they’re vigorous and established,” said Leonard Perry, an extension horticulturist with the University of Vermont.

“Young plants that you just pop into a pot and haven’t rooted yet may not do so well,” Perry said. “The healthier they are going in, the better their chances.”

Perennials should survive long periods of extreme cold if given pre-season care. That includes:

– Feeding. Slow-release fertilizers applied before the first killing frosts arrive boost plant hardiness. Feeding should end once the plants go dormant. “With good fertility, you don’t have as many overwintering problems,” Perry said.

– Watering. Soils must be moist when the perennials are stored to help protect the roots.

– Pruning. Trim and dispose of all foliage after the plants go completely dormant. That keeps slugs and other insects from laying eggs in the residue, according to a “Simple Sensible Solutions” brochure from Walters Gardens Inc. at Zeeland, Mich., North America’s largest grower of wholesale perennials.

– Trenching. Bury pots – plants and all – for improved insulation. Add a layer of mulch. Unearth and return them to their usual sites the following spring.

– Covering. Anything from evergreen boughs to blankets, straw to shredded bark can be used to safeguard pots and their contents. Securing a piece of bubble wrap or burlap around the pots also helps. Be quick to remove them once the weather warms.

– Storing indoors. Move potted plants into an unheated garage, basement, greenhouse, cold frame or similar site that matches their hardiness zone. Make sure it’s a place where the temperature stays above freezing.

Protecting the containers can pay off with additional seasons of service. “I raise my container plants off the ground in winter so they don’t freeze to the surface,” said Peter Cilio, creative director for Campania International, a designer and manufacturer of cast-stone garden accessories in Pennsburg, Pa.

“Some of the containers have feet for that purpose, or you can use pieces of wood,” he said. “A little height lets water escape through the drain holes and keeps the containers from splitting or cracking in freeze-thaw cycles.”

Large pots seem to last longer, Cilio said. More soil means better insulation. “Smaller pots constrict plant roots, hindering drainage.”

Choose your perennials well, especially for proven longevity in northerly climates. Potted perennials that are tough enough to endure at least a couple of hardiness zones colder than where you live are likely to survive extended exposure. That would mean using, say, Zone 4 plants in Zone 6.

And don’t forget rodent control. Mice like to cosy up to container plants in cold weather, especially those that include grasses.

“Begin baiting for mice about a month before covering your perennials,” the Walters Gardens horticulturists write. “This will help reduce their populations going into winter.”

Online:

For more about overwintering containerized perennials, see this University of Massachusetts Amherst factsheet:

杭州桑拿按摩论坛extension.umass.edu/floriculture/fact-sheets/overwintering-containerized-perennials

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape杭州夜网


30 dogs rescued from Paws ‘R’ Us kennel expecting puppies

MONTREAL – Thirty of the 527 dogs rescued 10 days ago in western Quebec are pregnant and will likely add 100 or more dogs to the mix within days.

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International Canada, which along with Quebec government officials removed the dogs Sept. 16-17 from the Paws “R” Us kennel, about 80 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, said the unborn puppies’ ownership is uncertain since a judge has yet to rule on whether the seized dogs will go back to their owner.

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It took animal rights workers about 24 hours to remove the dogs from the site, in what has been described as the largest puppy-mill bust in Canadian history.

The operator of the kennel, on a former pig farm in Quebec’s Clarendon Township, has denied abusing the dogs and wants them back. A judge is to render a decision in three to six weeks.

“Anybody who cares about how dogs are treated should realize these puppies should not go back there,” Aldworth said on Monday.

The dogs are in the late stages of pregnancy and “are about to give birth any day now. I saw two being born yesterday.”

The seized dogs are of all sizes and shapes, about 30 breeds in total. About one-third are under daily treatment by veterinarians. They are being cared for in new cages in what was a vacant government building in Lachute.

Aldworth said a network of animal shelters and pet-rescue groups in Quebec and Ontario is expected to help if and when the dogs’ ownership is permanently taken away from the kennel operator.

To volunteer or offer to adopt a dog, contact Humane Society International Canada at [email protected] or 514-395-2914.

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Showing up everywhere this fall, poufs are ottomans’ squishier sisters

Shelter magazines, catalogues, stores – everywhere we look this season, there’s some sort of pouf.

While ottomans tend to be more structured, with a solid form and usually some legs, poufs or hassocks are actually just big upholstered cushions, and aren’t usually used as tables the way ottomans often are.

But poufs are the perfect squishy footrest, and thus suit family rooms or relaxed living rooms. Easily moved about, they make great extra seating.

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With a versatile, portable accessory like this, you can afford to play a little. Look for unusual designs, colourful hues and interesting shapes; poufs add a nice punch to a space for not a lot of money, unless you choose something by a designer.

If you want the genuine Moroccan-made article, check out Tazi Designs and Living Morocco. Tazi has an array of colourful leather poufs with a Moorish motif. A black leather one features white silk stitching; a bronze leather one is equally dramatic. Living Morocco has several striking models in black and red, or green and white. From Morocco With Love has several affordable versions in supple rainbow hues; check out their website for an interesting film showing Fez artisans at work.

Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola has created a beautiful, albeit pricey collection of sprawl-worthy giant poufs covered in her popular Mangas pattern; the word means “sweater,” and with their nubby knitted wool texture, the pieces do look cosy.

Janet Shea, an interior designer in Hanover, Mass., likes the versatility and user-friendliness of poufs. She likes them in a living room, but loves putting them in kids’ spaces.

“I’ve used them in a couple of preteen girls’ rooms I’ve worked on. They’re great for lounging, watching TV and playing video games,” Shea said. “So much better than sitting on the bed or floor.”

Design firm FiveTimesOne has a cool group of felted Merino wool poufs that look like polished travertine, marble, and stone pebbles and boulders; in a contemporary space, they’d be standout pieces.

Poufs are great if you have toddlers – they’re cruising-friendly, and fun to flop over. John Derian offers Moroccan poufs in bright hues such as turquoise, sunshine and violet. Homegoods offers a big comfy marshmallow pouf that’s covered in soft candy pink loops – perfect for a girl’s room. They’ve got some snazzy embellished Indian sari-style poufs, too, that any college girl would love.

Restoration Hardware has a Union Jack upholstered cube pouf that packs a mod graphic punch but would also be at home in a traditional setting.

Some poufs come filled, but you can use just about anything to fill the cover – old clothing, sheets, newspaper or purchased foam trimmed to size.

If you’re at all crafty, consider sewing your own. Better Homes & Gardens’ website offers step-by-step instructions with material costs of about $50. They used burlap to make the example, which gives the pouf a great textured look. It’s not a complex project, so you could have some fun with a few metres of interesting material. Just be sure to use something fairly hard-wearing if your poufs are going to be played with.

Sourcebook:

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活tazidesigns杭州龙凤 – bronze leather pouf, $240; black and white Kasbah, $375;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活homegoods杭州龙凤 – pink looped pouf, $59.99;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活living-morocco-online杭州龙凤 – red/black leather pouf, $175;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活frommoroccowithlove杭州龙凤 – film on the making of poufs;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活restorationhardware杭州龙凤 – Union Jack ottoman, $169;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活bhg杭州龙凤 – Better Homes & Gardens, patterns and instructions to make a pouf;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活jsheainteriors杭州龙凤

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活unicahome杭州龙凤 – Mangas poufs, $1,615-$2,475;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活johnderian杭州龙凤 – poufs in a candy box of colours, $295;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活fivetimesoneusa杭州龙凤 – stone shaped poufs, price on inquiry.


Merkel pledges ‘all necessary assistance’ to Greece as Athens votes new tax to avoid default

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BERLIN – Stock markets soared around the world Tuesday amid hopes that Europe is finally finding a way out of its debt crisis. Greece passed an unpopular property tax and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to offer the struggling country “all necessary assistance.”

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It’s unclear whether that will be enough to satisfy investors for long. Stocks improved following last week’s turmoil as speculation grew that Greece’s bailout creditors will look to impose bigger losses on Greece’s private bondholders as well as recapitalize Europe’s banks and expand the eurozone’s rescue fund. So far, there’s been no confirmation from Europe’s capitals that such a comprehensive solution is being planned.

Financial markets closely watched a meeting between Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, but neither announced any new measures ahead of their private dinner at Berlin’s chancellery on Tuesday evening.

“Through the euro, we are closely bound together, and the weakness of one affects us all,” Merkel said at a news conference.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is seen as a key player in resolving the 17-nation eurozone’s debt crisis, but Merkel’s government has repeatedly been accused over the past 18 months of being a reluctant leader of the rescue efforts. Speaking earlier Tuesday alongside her economy minister, Philip Roesler, Merkel reiterated her conviction that there is no quick solution, saying the crisis must be dealt with “step by step.”

Greece must receive an €8 billion ($11 billion) rescue loan before mid-October to stave off bankruptcy, a collapse that would send shock waves through markets around the world. But creditors have demanded more efforts to raise revenue.

In response, Greek lawmakers approved a controversial new property tax Tuesday evening, passing it 154-143 in the 300-member parliament. The levy, in addition to public-sector reforms announced earlier, is expected to make up for lagging revenues this year by providing more than €2 billion ($2.76 billion), or about 1 per cent of Greece’s annual gross domestic product.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said his country will get the money. “The disbursement will be decided in time, in line with the course of our funding needs,” he said.

Greeks have been outraged by tax and other austerity measures, and unions have responded with strikes and protests. Even as Venizelos spoke, protesting ministry employees and tax office workers chanted outside his department in Athens.

Venizelos said Greece had made great efforts to achieve its fiscal targets, but that a “hyper-effort” is necessary to fully meet its commitments.

Venizelos said representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will return to Athens this week. The so-called troika suspended its review in early September amid talk of missed targets and budget shortfalls.

The current plan is to have Greece implement painful debt-reduction measures in exchange for rescue loans. Greece relies on funds from last year’s €110 billion ($149 billion) package, and European leaders also have agreed on a second €109 billion bailout, although some details of that remain to be worked out.

“We want a strong Greece within the eurozone, and Germany is prepared to offer all necessary assistance,” Merkel said in Berlin.

Papandreou, in return, pledged to implement the reforms demanded by Greece’s international creditors. Speaking through a translator, he said this is a time “of great sacrifices for the Greek people. Therefore it is of great importance to receive signals of support from our European partners.”

Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, Merkel’s government downplayed speculation of bold new moves to tackle Europe’s sprawling sovereign debt crisis.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble ruled out increasing the eurozone’s new €440 billion ($595 billion) rescue fund, calling it “a silly idea” that could ultimately endanger the AAA ratings of the main creditor countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.

Greece’s new property tax will range from €4.00 to €20.00 ($5.50-$27.50) for every square meter (10.7 square feet). It will be charged through electricity bills to make it easier for the state to collect, instead of going through Greece’s unwieldy and inefficient tax system. Those who refuse to pay will risk having their power cut off.

The extra charge has deeply angered Greeks, who have already been through more than a year of sharp austerity measures, including salary and pension cuts and higher taxes.

State electricity company unionists have threatened not to collect the tax. Public transport workers walked off the job Tuesday for two days, and were to be joined by taxi drivers on Wednesday. Tax office and customs workers also were on strike.

Police briefly scuffled with protesters outside parliament shortly after Tuesday’s vote there and used pepper spray to disperse one group of youths.

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Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopulos in Athens contributed.


Youth unemployment risk to global economy recovery, G20 ministers say

OTTAWA – Canada’s human resources minister says there’s a global sense of urgency around the need to create jobs to stave off future economic crisis.

Diane Finley wrapped up two days of meetings with her G20 counterparts in Paris on Tuesday and said the feeling around the table is that job creation must be front-and-centre in economic recovery plans.

The Harper government has promised to make jobs the priority during this fall session of Parliament by forging ahead with programs announced in the June budget.

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Officials say the economy has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but Finley says Canada’s youth unemployment rate remains too high.

The current rate for youth sits at 14 per cent, virtually unchanged over the last year.

And students are finding it even harder to get jobs. The most recent Statistics Canada data pegged the student unemployment rate at 17.2 per cent this summer, up from last year.

“There is an urgent need to link recovery with jobs and particularly with jobs for young people,” Finley said in an interview.

“And that’s going to take a lot of partnerships between government, employers and post-secondary institutions to make that happen.”

A report released on the eve of the Paris meeting suggests that 200 million people are unemployed around the world.

And the OECD and the International Labour Organization say that number is growing.

The report on job-creation policies across the G20 complimented the targeted job programs put in place by the Canadian government.

“At the same time, the inherent difficulties in fully evaluating the cost effectiveness of such initiatives suggest that a prudent approach should be adopted to their scaling up,” the report said.

It also suggested there is a sharp increase in long-term unemployment in Canada, which the report says can be associated with greater risks of poverty, health problems and school failure for children.

But creating jobs while keeping government budgets in check is a challenge faced by all G20 countries, the two groups acknowledged.

The G20 ministers emerged from their meetings pledging to ensure workers continue to have basic rights. The ministers also agreed to form a task force that would focus on youth unemployment.

The Paris talks were in advance of the G20 leaders’ meetings scheduled for November in France.


Dead air for CRTC chairman as Harper government won’t renew appointment

OTTAWA – The head of Canada’s telecommunications regulator is joining the list of agency bosses who’ve lost their jobs after butting heads with the Harper government.

CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s five-year term expires in January, and he confirmed to his staff Tuesday he won’t be returning.

Though appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007, the two have clashed several times over the last five years and there was growing concern in Tory circles that von Finckenstein was standing in their way.

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The majority Tories are expected to relax restrictions on foreign ownership of telecom companies, something Von Finckenstein has already resisted.

The former judge presided over the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during a time of rapidly evolving consumer technology that has put cellphones in the hands of most consumers, made the Internet mainstream and wireless networks common.

Last spring, a feud erupted over a CRTC decision on how Internet companies bill their subscribers. Known as “usage-based billing,” it would have allowed wholesalers such as Bell and Rogers to charge smaller resellers based on how much data they use.

The decision sparked a social media campaign that even had then-industry minister Tony Clement weighing in online. Von Finckenstein backed down and ordered a review.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said von Finckenstein will serve the remainder of his term and a process for selecting his replacement will be announced shortly.

“We thank Mr. von Finckenstein for his service as chair of the CRTC,” James Maunder wrote in an email.

Over the last five years, the Harper government has declined to renew the mandate of ombudsmen and chairmen of arm’s-length agencies who clashed with policy approaches.

Pat Stogran, the former veterans’ ombudsman, was dumped after sounding an alarm about the treatment of soldiers.

The ombudsman for victims of crimes and the head of the nuclear safety commission were also unceremoniously let go.

Von Finckenstein was a staunch defender of the independence of the CRTC.

He fired back at a report last year suggesting he was under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to approve a broadcasting licence for a new television channel whose vice-president was a former PMO staffer.

“I would like to categorically state that no one at any level of government has approached me about the Sun TV application, the appointment of the CRTC’s vice-chair of broadcasting, or my own mandate,” he wrote in a letter published in the Globe and Mail.

The appointment of the regulator’s vice-chair for broadcasting had raised eyebrows when the Tories announced their candidate was Tom Pentefountas, a former president of Quebec’s conservative ADQ party and friend of Dimitri Soudas, the former director of communications for Harper.

Pentefountas was accused of lacking qualifications, other than political connections, for the job.

The Tories dismissed the criticism, saying he’d bring an outside perspective to the 13-member board.

But the Opposition is worried that whoever replaces von Finckenstein will be cut from similar cloth.

Heritage critic Charlie Angus said he may have often disagreed with the outgoing chairman but at least he was independent.

“I’m sending a message to Stephen Harper: in your attempt to control almost every aspect of public life in Canada, do not monkey with the chair of the CRTC.”

In a letter to his staff circulated on Tuesday, von Finckenstein outlined his own priorities for the remaining months of his term.

They include making final a decision on usage-based billing and holding a public hearing to develop a framework for the French-language television market.

“Although this is an ambitious list, we work in a rapidly changing environment that requires our constant attention,” he wrote.

“It is important for Canadian consumers and businesses that we continue to step up to the plate and fulfil our mandate as best we can.”

The CRTC issued a landmark decision this month when it gave Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor, which also own broadcast assets, until April 1 to come up with a plan to give consumers more flexibility when it comes to picking their television channels.

“I’m pleased that we were able to establish a policy that will serve both consumers and the broadcasting system in the years to come,” von Finckenstein wrote.