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.

 


Quebec gov’t leaves door slightly ajar on holding corruption inquiry – in private

QUEBEC – The Quebec government has left open the possibility of holding a corruption inquiry after two years of steadfast refusal to do so.

The scandal-battered Charest government has stood pat in the face of widespread public outcry and persistent political pressure to call a probe.

But the provincial transport minister said Tuesday he wasn’t excluding the possibility of a closed-door inquiry.

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Pierre Moreau said he wanted to hear more about the idea from the man who first floated it – Jacques Duchesneau, head of the province’s anti-collusion unit.

“Does this work for us? I’m not excluding anything,” said Moreau, one of two cabinet ministers to discuss the possibility.

Duchesneau suggested a closed-door inquiry would be a quick, easy way to start investigating claims of rampant corruption in the construction industry.

He made the comment during an appearance on a popular weekend talk show and elaborated on the idea in a suspense-filled appearance Tuesday at the Quebec legislature.

He said a closed-door probe would be less disruptive to police investigations than a standard public inquiry.

Duchesneau produced a devastating report that alleges crime groups like the Mafia, the construction industry and a weak civil service are all responsible for inflating the price of public-works projects.

And, in perhaps the most damning part of his report, the former Montreal police chief stated that political parties receive illegal donations from the expanded profits.

Duchesneau laid out details of his vision for an inquiry during his appearance Tuesday at a legislature hearing in Quebec City.

He expressed hope that things might improve in Quebec and insisted it was not too late to heal a gangrenous construction industry.

In a half-hour introductory declaration, Duchesneau used the expression “not normal” several times to describe various aspects of the wide-ranging scheme.

Duchesneau blamed the provincial government for allowing the Transport Department to wither and lose its best experts to private industry.

He accused the department of becoming a “master of subcontracting” that abdicated oversight of construction projects to engineering firms with a vested interest.

And the construction industry, he said, has friends in low places.

His report said groups like the Mafia and bikers not only use construction companies to launder money – but also act as enforcers for favoured firms.

“It is not normal that many companies in the construction industry have ties to organized crime,” Duchesneau said Tuesday. “Organized crime is not simply a parasite but an actual state actor.”

The result, he said, is that Quebecers pay too much for too few services.

The money from public-works projects winds up switching hands and some of it ultimately gets kicked over as contributions to political parties at the municipal and provincial level.

In Quebec, donations from companies to political parties have been illegal for almost 35 years. So are donations over $1,000. But his report suggests parties make a mockery of the law through various illegal tactics.

On Tuesday, Duchesneau sought to dispel the image of drug-traffickers stuffing wads of cash into the briefcases of party bosses.

The modern Mafia has graduated to new levels of respectability, he said. Today’s Mob is run by pillars of the business community and considered respectable by general society, he said.

The people now pulling the strings are active in their communities and present at political party fundraisers – because, Duchesneau said, they’re always looking for powerful friends.

“They’ve graduated from Secondary 5 to doctorates,” Duchesneau said of how the Mafia has evolved since the 1970s.

“It’s sad, but it’s the hard reality… We’re talking about a parallel system … where money, slowly but surely, makes its way into the political world.”

The provincial elections watchdog has already met with Duchesneau and plans to investigate his claims.

Duchesneau says it won’t be easy to loosen the influence of crime in public life.

He said today’s criminals have such tremendous wealth that the state can hardly compete:”No police service will ever have the means these people have,” said Duchesneau, who once headed the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

That’s why all of society needs to rise up and speak out – with an inquiry serving as an ideal vehicle, he said.

His ideal inquiry would carry two phases: first, a private one, then possibly a public one.

The initial phase would quietly amass evidence of the problem, then the public portion would examine solutions, he said, citing Australian inquiries as a model.

He said he personally witnessed over the last year how sources will be much more forthcoming with information if they believe their identity will be protected.

“Witnesses behind closed doors will be very, very voluble,” he said. But in public, he said, “they forget names.”

He said 17 cases from his research have already been sent to police for investigation, four more than the number previously cited.

But he said it will take a public inquiry and not just a criminal probe to restore public trust. He added that things could still change in Quebec.

“I will tell you, no, it’s not too late.”

As an example, he said a year’s negative publicity about corruption in Quebec had already appeared to scare some crooked actors into flying a little straighter.

He estimates the province has saved almost $350 million in construction costs over the last 18 months, compared with what projects had been costing previously.


Historic ski lodge that produced Olympic medallist Sara Renner gets a retrofit

MOUNT ASSINIBOINE PROVINCIAL PARK, B.C. – The stories pour out of Sara Renner at Assiniboine Lodge.

Thousands of guests have stayed at the backcountry lodge during its 83-year history. But for Renner, Assiniboine feels like her home.

Renner, 35, is a three-time Olympian and silver medallist in cross-country skiing, now retired.

Her parents Sepp and Barb have operated Assiniboine Lodge for B.C. Parks since 1983, when Renner was seven years old.

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The lodge and its outbuildings are currently under renovation. Seeing the changes in “the old gal,” as Renner calls it, sparks a flood of personal memories, but she also relishes telling colourful stories handed down to her.

Canadian singer Ian Tyson once worked at the lodge as a horse wrangler and used the bunkhouse door for target practice with his knife. His name is still carved in that door.

Renner’s father Sepp got so fed up with the martens loudly mating below their family cabin floor and disturbing their sleep, he fired a shot through the floor.

Growing up, Renner spent her summers and winter vacations playing and skiing in the shadow of Mount Assiniboine. “The ‘Boine” is also called the “Matterhorn of the Rockies” because its pinnacle peak juts 3,618 metres into the sky.

“Where is my heart? It’s here,” Renner says. “My summers, I have such great memories of playing in the woods with my siblings, flying kites in the meadows, hiking up peaks.”

Today, high winds send clouds streaming across the sky on both sides of Mount Assiniboine. The peak remains shrouded, however, with an occasional tantalizing hint of its majesty.

This environment fostered an independence in the Renner children, not to mention that it laid the foundation for Sara Renner’s athletic career.

Renner recalls hiking out to Canmore, Alta., almost 30 kilometres away, at age seven along with nine-year-old sister Natalie and brother Andre, 11. It was fall and time to go back to school.

People they met on the trail were aghast the Renners were without their parents. There was a call from social services waiting when they arrived back in town.

Renner says she stopped talking about her Assiniboine adventures at school because her classmates didn’t believe her.

“It was just so out there, that you would hike 50 kilometres and see a grizzly and it was no big deal,” she says.

Renner’s winter days at Assiniboine meant putting on her skis as soon as she stepped out the door, lest she sink up to her chin in snow. Going to the outhouse, skis on. Heading to the toboggan hill, skis on.

“Assiniboine formed me as an athlete,” she says.

Renner admits she felt uncomfortable talking about herself as a world-class skier during her career. She feels no restraint when it comes to Assiniboine. Her husband, alpine skier Thomas Grandi, proposed to her at Assiniboine and the couple was married there.

Renner’s history is tied closely to Assiniboine, but hers is just one thread among the many in this place.

Assiniboine Lodge is west of Canmore just over the Alberta-B.C. border in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.

It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, according to Renner, it’s the oldest backcountry ski lodge in the Canadian Rockies.

“It’s like you’re walking into a museum,” Renner says. “You can feel the creaks.

“It’s Canadian backcountry history. It’s Canadian ski history. It’s some of the most interesting people in this country that have had adventures here, that have had great miserable failures that have become great stories.”

There was a time when the only way in was on skis or on horseback. With no television, Renner recalls performing skits to entertain guests in the evening.

Horses once brought all supplies in and Renner was terrified of the motley crew of cowboys handling them.

“You kept a wide berth and we actually played tricks on them,” Renner said, before relating she put horse manure in their chewing tobacco. “That was our revenge and they never noticed.”

Assiniboine’s horse operations ceased several years ago. Guests now arrive by helicopter, in hiking boots or on skis. Hiking or skiing in usually means overnighting on the trail. Getting there in one day on foot requires exceptional fitness.

Guests stay either at the lodge and its cabins, the adjacent Naiset Huts or camp at the campground at nearby Lake Magog.

When the operating lease for Assiniboine Lodge came up for tender every five years, the Renner family held their breath in fear they would lose it. But the Renners have and will continue to run Assiniboine.

Sepp and Barb are easing themselves out of the lodge’s operations, but brother Andre and his business partner Claude Duchesne have won the bid to oversee the lodge for the next 20 years.

The lodge is currently undergoing a delicate and unique renovation. The foundation was failing badly and B.C. Parks has invested about $1.5 million in restoring it while also expanding the basement, kitchen and breezeway.

In order to preserve the rustic facade, the main lodge was rolled onto the meadow in front of its original location in order to rebuild the foundation.

Helicopters flew in building supplies, but a cement mixer was out of the question. So hundreds of bags of concrete mix came by air.

“All of that was hand-mixed,” said Glen Campbell of B.C. Parks. “The foundations, the basement, the floor, were mixed by the construction crew. Not easy to find crews who are capable of doing that.”

The isolation and harsh conditions attracted work crews and project managers who embrace adventure. An engineer who worked on P.E.I.’s Confederation Bridge volunteered a few weeks of his time on the project.

The renovation, which began in May, is a race against Mother Nature. Crew were making the most of the recent warm weather to complete the exterior before the snows come. The lodge is scheduled to be fully operational again by June 2012.

“There’s the unique challenges of operating at this elevation, in this environment and dealing with trying to preserve the integrity of the buildings at the same time,” Campbell said.

Erling Strom, a Norwegian, worked with the Canadian Pacific Railway to build Assiniboine Lodge in 1928 and was its operator for the first 47 years.

When Renner and teammate Becki Scott won silver in team pursuit at the 2006 Olympics, Renner broke her ski pole during the race and was rescued by a Norwegian coach, who quickly handed a replacement.

On Renner’s next trip into Assiniboine, she was astounded when she realized that a broken ski pole had always been the emblem of the lodge.

“I came back in the summer and I noticed that the brand of Assiniboine was a broken ski pole,” Renner said. “On the back of furniture, engraved in walls, was this emblem of the broken ski pole.

“It was an incredible coincidence that this place that is such a part of me followed me through my ski career and the story of my career was this broken ski pole.”

Seeing the renovation near completion, Renner is confident Assiniboine will retain its colourful history and authenticity.

“At the beginning I was worried, because we wanted our old gal taken care of,” Renner says. “The important part is that it looks and it feels the same.

“You know it’s going to be good for the next 100 years. So I come back here and my heart soars.”


Advocates for US atomic workers aghast at fake names in manual; ‘Nightmare’s’ Krueger appears

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CINCINNATI – Advocates for U.S. atomic workers sickened by radiation exposure say they’re stunned that a federal claims training manual uses fictional characters’ names, including an apparent reference to the disfigured villain of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” horror movies.

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Deborah Jerison said she recently received the Labor Department manual in response to a Freedom of Information request made months earlier. Her late father worked at a now-defunct nuclear weapons plant in Miamisburg, Ohio. She heads a group that helps former atomic workers and their families pursue federal occupational illness compensation claims.

The manual she says she received uses case names derived from TV and movies, such as claimant “Freddie Krueger,” spelled slightly different than the Freddy in the “Nightmare” series. The Krueger in the manual is reported as dying on Oct. 31 – Halloween. The example suffered from “depression, dementia and skin cancer.”

Jerison, whose physicist father James Goode died in 1960, said she didn’t like seeing someone in a situation similar to his being depicted that way.

“This is a very dark subject and I can see where people would use humour to get through it, but this is bad,” she said.

Messages were left seeking a Labor Department response.

Another claimant is called Jack Bauer, the hero of TV’s “24” drama. A pathologist is called Hannibal Lechter, an apparent reference to the cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter of books and movies. TV doctors treating patients in the case studies include Dr. Amanda Bentley, a character on the series “Diagnosis: Murder, and Dr. Marcus Welby, who was a genial family practitioner on an ABC drama.

David Manuta wrote to the Labor Department as a member of the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups, saying the references are examples of continued disrespect for claimants. The chemist worked at a Cold War-era uranium enrichment plant in southern Ohio.

He said Tuesday that he knows that “the younger generations” like to use humour, but he said it was out of place.

“It’s absolutely offensive for those of us who have handled those nuclear materials,” he said.

Jerison’s father worked at The Mound plant that made triggers and detonators for nuclear weapons. She said she helped her mother pursue a claim for years, but the $175,000 in compensation didn’t arrive until after her mother’s death. About three years ago, she used part of that money that had been divided among Goode’s children to start the non-profit Energy Employees Claimant Assistance Project.

She had requested the claims training manual to gain information about the process from the government side. The compensation program was established in 2001, but it’s unclear when the manual was published; its 24 chapters take trainees from the history of the nuclear energy to step-by-step instruction in conducting a claims hearing.

The manual’s use of fictional names was first reported by the Dayton Daily News.

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Lawyer for Ukraine’s ex-prime minister Tymoshenko asks court to acquit, calls charges absurd

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KIEV, Ukraine – The abuse of office charges against former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are unfounded and absurd, her lawyers declared Wednesday, asking the court to acquit her and release her from jail.

Tymoshenko, now the country’s top opposition leader, is accused of violating legal procedures in the signing of a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence her to seven years in prison and bar her from occupying government posts for three years.

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Tymoshenko maintains her innocence and says the trial has been orchestrated by her archenemy, President Viktor Yanukovych, in order to bar her from future elections as a convicted felon.

The United States and the European Union have also sharply criticized the trial as politically motivated and officials in Brussels have warned that jailing Tymoshenko may cost Ukraine a landmark partnership agreement with the European Union.

Tymoshenko, 50, a charismatic but divisive figure, maintains her innocence and says as prime minister, she didn’t need any special permission for the deal. She has been in custody since her arrest nearly two months ago on charges of contempt of court.

Tymoshenko’s defence lawyer Yuri Sukhov said in his closing speech at the trial that prosecutors have failed to prove her guilt.

Prosecutors have also asked the court to fine Tymoshenko an equivalent of $190,000 (€140,000) for the damages she allegedly caused the state by signing the contract at a price they believe to be inflated. Another Tymoshenko attorney, Olexandr Plakhotnyuk, dismissed that request as absurd, saying prosecutors have failed to provide evidence for the alleged damages.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, issued yet another warning to Kyiv over the case Wednesday.

“We underline to Ukrainian authorities the need for respect for the rule of law incorporating fair, impartial and independent legal process,” she said. “We also know the danger of provoking any perception that judicial measures are used selectively and we stress the importance of assuring the maximum transparency of investigations, prosecutions and trials.”

Hopes for Tymoshenko’s release were dimmed Wednesday after it became clear that legal reforms proposed by Yanukovych apparently would not affect Tymoshenko’s case. Yanukovych had floated the idea of decriminalizing certain economic crimes, but the text of his bill posted on parliament’s website Wednesday contained no mention of Tymoshenko’s charge.

Yanukovych’s spokeswoman Darka Chepak confirmed to The Associated Press that Tymoshenko’s case will not be affected by the proposed change.

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Raf Casert contributed to this report from Brussels.


September 27 on the Global Edmonton Morning News

Tuesday, September 27, 2011  
  

Live on location: 

Shaw Conference Centre
Syncrude presents Fashion With Compassion
October 13
11:00 am Luncheon
6:00 pm Dinner
780-418-6996  

 

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Studio Guests:

John Connolly – Publisher, Edmonton Journal
Raise-a-Reader
Tomorrow, 6:45 am – 8:45 am
various locations throughout the downtown core 
 

  

 

 

Steven Sandor – Editor
Avenue Magazine
 

 

 

 

Karen Platten – Chair, Willpower Wills Week
Kathy Hawkesworth – Director, Donor Services
Edmonton Community Foundation
Willpower Wills Week
October 1st – 7th
780-426-0015

 

 


Oilsands Quest to sell Wallace Creek, focus on developing Axe Lake

CALGARY – Junior oil company Oilsands Quest Inc. (NYSE:BQI) has agreed to sell its Wallace Creek property in Alberta for up to $60 million to an unnamed buyer. 

Calgary-based Oilsands Quest said it will be paid $40 million cash at closing and an addition $20 million, “subject to certain future events,” which the company did not outline. 

Proceeds of the sale will be used to develop its Axe Lake property in Saskatchewan toward commercial development. 

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“It will provide us much of the capital we need to complete the Axe Lake pilot and prove the commercial recoverability of our highest priority core asset,” CEO Garth Wong said in a statement. 

“While Wallace Creek has shown considerable potential, it is not yet as well delineated as Axe Lake and is therefore considerably further away from commercial development.” 

The company expects the sale agreement of its Wallace Creek property to be concluded by the end of October with the final transaction of the sale completed by the end of the year. 

This past July, the company received approval from the provincial government to convert portions of its Axe Lake permits to 15-year leases, the first oil sands leases in Saskatchewan. 

Oilsands Quest says those leases are one of the key elements it needs to proceed with the development of a commercial oil sands production facility. 

Last year, Oilsands Quest filed an application to the Saskatchewan government to start a pilot project at Axe Lake that would become the first stage of a 30-thousand barrel-per-day commercial oil sands development. 

Those plans were put on hold late in 2010 while the company searched for a partner or other strategic alternative to assist with the capital expenditures to build the facility. 

Axe Lake is located north of Clearwater River Provincial Park along the Alberta border and is the first major oil sands exploration in Saskatchewan. 

With files from The Canadian Press 


Winnipeg mayor wades into provincial election campaign

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is making his voice heard in Manitoba’s provincial election. 

 

The right-leaning mayor has not endorsed any side in the campaign and took aim Tuesday at all parties over infrastructure spending.  

 

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In a news conference with Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Doug Dobrowolski at a street corner in a commercial area notorious for road congestion, Katz expressed disappointment at the lack of promises to upgrade crumbling roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure. 

 

“We’ve seen millions of dollars being promised for a variety of interests from those seeking office this election, but if you actually want to do something positive to improve the quality of life for our citizens, then step up and do what’s right and provide municipalities with a real funding source to address the priorities of the people who are electing you,” Katz is quoted in a news release. “What’s the point of investing more money into health care if ambulances can’t navigate our roads? Why pledge more money for community centres if we can’t even walk on our sidewalks? Although there are many laudable priorities, we need to take care of the basics and first address our infrastructure needs to have a lasting impact and make a positive difference.” 

 

Tory leader Hugh McFadyen has promised a $375 million infrastructure fund for municipalities over 5 years, and $40 million to pave hundreds of back lanes in Winnipeg. The NDP has boasted of it’s five year highway renewal plan and commitment to Manitoba Hydro building projects. 

 

Katz did take a swipe at the province’s NDP, reviving a complaint that the Selinger government falsely claimed in its last budget that it would commit a portion of the Provincial Sales Tax to infrastructure. 


TV’s Ricki Lake finishes first and Chaz Bono lands in last place on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – TV talk show host Ricki Lake celebrated her top-scoring 23 points and 12 inches (30.5 centimetres) of weight loss; TV news commentator Nancy Grace celebrated some quick thinking in the control room; and Chaz Bono celebrated just getting through his routine on “Dancing With the Stars.”

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“My knees just hurt so much,” Bono said before landing in last place Monday night. The activist and only child of the musical duo Sonny and Cher is counting on viewer votes to carry him through Tuesday’s episode, when a second celebrity will be eliminated from the hit ABC show.

Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine who is ousted each week. Basketball star Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace, was the first contestant to go.

Judges said Monday that Bono’s quickstep was just too slow and gave him 17 points out of 30.

“The bottom line is it’s a quickstep and I’ve moved faster through the car wash,” judge Len Goodman said.

Grace was perhaps moving a little too fast. She suffered a wardrobe malfunction during a bouncy number danced to “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing”). Grace had a little too much swing in partner Tristan MacManus’ arms and her breast spilled out of her dress.

Viewers saw little if nothing of the mishap, however, thanks to a quick cut-away to the studio audience. After the number, host Tom Bergeron consoled the flustered Grace.

“On the European version,” he said with a laugh, “that would be perfectly fine.”

The 42-year-old Bono blamed his aching knees for forcing him to “(take) out some of the flashier stuff that was just really hurting my body,” but said he’ll push himself to the limit to stay on the show.

Lake’s flashy moves during the jive earned her and partner Derek Hough the highest score of the night, and she’s as happy about that as she is about her shrinking body. Lake, who said last week that she was inspired by former contestant Kirstie Alley’s “Dancing” weight loss, has dropped 4 inches (10 centimetres) from her hips, 4 (10 centimetres) from her waist and another 4 (10 centimetres) from the rest of her after three weeks of rehearsals.

“I’m really getting in great shape,” she said after the show. “I’ll be wearing less and less clothing. The smaller I get, the less will be covered.”

Rob Kardashian revealed his own weight woes before collecting 21 points for what judges called a “confident” jive.

“It’s official. Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than (sister) Kim Kardashian!” judge Carrie Ann Inaba said Monday. (Kim lasted just three weeks when she was part of the show’s 2008 cast.)

“You have the dancing gene,” Inaba said.

Kardashian’s 21 points were good for third place, where he tied with Grace, singer Chynna Phillips and Italian actress (and Clooney ex) Elisabetta Canalis.

Actor J.R. Martinez and reality star Kristin Cavallari both finished second with 22 points.

Joining Bono near the bottom of the scoreboard were actor David Arquette and TV personality Carson Kressley, who each earned 18 points.

Arquette said before his performance that he wanted to “blow people’s minds,” but the judges slammed his routine.

“Any connection that had with the jive was a coincidence,” Goodman said. “The technique wasn’t there.”

Kressley turned in hours of extra rehearsal time, but his quickstep was still “a little wobbly,” Inaba said.

Soccer pro Hope Solo scored 19 points for a jive that earned a mixed response from the judges.

The new “Dancing” set, however, which made its debut last week, is winning unanimous raves from the cast of pros. The revamped ballroom features a three-tier balcony, cocktail-table seating and a grand staircase that splits to reveal the orchestra.

“It’s so epic. It’s an honour to dance on it,” said Mark Ballas, Cavallari’s professional partner. “It’s got a cool energy. You step out into it. It feels like a Roman coliseum.”

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.

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Online:

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州夜网/APSandy.


Doer top pick for Manitoba premier – Winnipeg

Gary Doer remains a powerful presence in Manitoba politics: much to the chagrin of current contenders for the province’s top job. 

 

The former NDP premier – who quit politics in 2009 to become Canadian ambassador the United States – remains the favourite among Manitoba voters to win the premier’s chair in the province’s October 4th election, according to Global’s Canada’s Pulse Poll released Monday. 

 

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The survey conducted by Ipsos Reid asked Manitobans, “who do you think would be the best premier of Manitoba” – but included a number of potential “candidates” who aren’t even on the list. Doer scored highest, with 38% support, compared to 22% for Progressive Conservate Leader Hugh McFadyen and 17% for New Democratic Party leader Greg Selinger, who won the leadership to replace the charismatic Doer. Liberal leader Jon Gerrard scored only 5 %, behind two other men are not even part of the provincial election campaign: Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz (10%) and Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman (8%). 

 

“It’s not a surprise at all,” Selinger said Monday when asked about the continuing popularity of the man who’s electoral success he’s trying to replicate. Doer won three straight majority governments in 1999, 2003 and 2007. 

 

“He was premier at a time when Manitobans were going through a lot of infrastructure,” University of Winnipeg political scientist says of Doer, who spearheaded big building projects like the MTS Centre, Floodway expansion and others. “But again, likeability matters.” 

 

When the non-candidates are removed from the question, Selinger leads with 46%, McFadyen trails at 37% and Gerrard is at 17%. 


Deer cull key issue at Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting

 Oh, deer, what can the matter be?

It’s an explosive issue, as deer suddenly have lost their fear of humans and have been attacking pets and even people in rural B.C.

Cranbrook is the first B.C. community to receive provincial approval to cull problem deer in its downtown area, and Kimberley and other B.C. towns are lining up for the right to curb the huge increase in the deer population.

It’s an emotional issue, and one that civic officials from across the province will tackle Tuesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

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“At the end of the day, it’s public safety,” said Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak, who said the city intends to put down ‘15 to 25 problem deer’ that pose a threat. “These are wild animals.

“Our rural deer population is exploding.

“Kimberley is working through the same process, and Grand Forks, Invermere and Sparwood are looking at it, too.”

The thought of deer being shot is repulsive to many, but Manjak said public attitudes changed in part when a Kimberley woman was hospitalized after a deer attack in June.

“We did a community survey, and we got over 1,100 responses, which is amazing,” said Manjak.

The mayor said the “majority” support the cull, but admitted “certainly there are people who don’t support the direction that we’re going.”

Kimberley officials are trying a three-pronged strategy – they’ve applied to cull up to 100 problem deer, but are weighing two other optionsj. They’re looking at relocating the deer out of town, and also bringing in border collies to keep the nuisance deer out of the community during the two dangerous periods of the year for deer – spring fawning season, when mothers aggressively defend their young, and fall rutting season, when amped-up males will sometimes charge unexpectedly.

“We have more problem deer than Cranbrook,” said Al Mulholland, the city’s chief administrative officer. “We’re trying to limit the human-deer contact.

“We’ve applied to bring in border collies in the spring when the mothers are protecting their young, to keep them out of town.

“The collies have been effective keeping deer out of Waterton and elk out of Banff.”

Mulholland said the benefit of the temporary relocation is that during tourist season visitors still are enchanted by urban deer, which don’t pose a threat at that time of year..

“The tourists come to town, and they want to take photos with the deer.”

Kimberley’s other plan would see the deer relocated to fertile Crown land about 20 km out of town, and hope they don’t return.

“There’s lot of grass and vegetation there – we hope they’ll like it.”

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Coulson will moderate a UBCM discussion Tuesday entitled, ‘Management of Urban Wildlife’.

“They’re scaring people, and there is going to be loss of life,” said Coulson, who said deer are a multi- community issue on the island – fearless animals travel from one community to another. “We’re going to look at how a community can deal with it, and how a community in a region can do it.”

Coulson said deer are losing their fear of humans, and predators are disappearing.

“If a cougar comes into the capital regions, it’s surrounded, caught, and shot,” said Coulson. “So the deer have no natural predators.

“Their natural predators are a danger to humans, and now the deer are a danger to humans.”

Rebecca Gindin-Clark, of the animal-rights group Liberation B.C. said shooting the deer is not the answer.

“Killing the current population is not going to solve the problem – other deer will just move in,” she said. “We’ve created a habitat that is very attractive.

“If we get caught in this trap, we’re going to be caught in a cycle of destruction.

“It’s not a long-term solution.”

B.C. cabinet minister Blair Lekstrom – the province must approve any proposed deer culls – admits it’s a contentious issue.

“It’s a difficult one,” said the transportation minister, who’s attending the UBCM this week. “If you’re looking to cull a deer, you have to first ask, ‘Are there other options out there?’

“Let’s explore all the other options.

“If we are going to go through with it, let’s make sure we make the best of it – you can use the meat, you can feed people who are hungry.”