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SAO PAULO – Brazil’s environmental agency said Monday it will fine Chevron nearly $28 million for a continuing oil spill off the Rio de Janeiro coast, and the company could face several more similar fines in the coming days.
The agency said through its press office that it will fine the oil company the maximum 50 million reals allowed under current Brazilian law.
Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said at a press conference in Brasilia, however, that as an investigation into the leak continues, Chevron could face “five or six” other fines of the same amount if more infractions are found.
Rio de Janeiro state’s environment secretary, Carlos Minc, said the national government will also ask Chevron to pay for damages caused by the Atlantic spill.
“We believe the accident could’ve been avoided. There was an environmental crime,” Minc told Globo TV and other Brazilian media. “They hid information and their emergency team took almost 10 days to start acting.”
Teixeira and other officials said Chevron hid information about the extent of the spill from the Brazilian government, took far too long to begin clean-up operations and didn’t have the proper equipment to contain the leak.
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Chevron Corp. officials have accepted responsibility for the spill but reject accusations they did not notify local authorities quickly enough or properly manage the cleanup.
Minc said he considers the environmental agency’s fine lenient, but opened the possibility that other fines could eventually be added under Rio de Janeiro state law. In addition, Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency could even consider banning the company from operating in Brazil for a limited time.
“There was negligence,” Minc said. “Rio will not allow any kind of environmental impunity.”
He said Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, will be expected to pay about $5.6 million in reparation for the damage to the environment.
“We are still calculating the costs,” Minc said. “Part of that money we want to use to increase the monitoring of our ocean.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was expected to meet with the national environmental minister and its mines and energy minister to discuss the oil spill and determine the government’s actions.
The National Petroleum Agency said more than 110,000 gallons (416,300 litres) of crude oil may have reached the ocean floor since the lead began on Nov 7.
George Buck, chief operating officer for Chevron’s Brazilian division, said Sunday the spill occurred because Chevron underestimated the pressure in an underwater reservoir.
Chevron was drilling an appraisal well about 230 miles (370 kilometres) off the northeastern coast of Rio de Janeiro when the leak started as crude rushed upward and eventually escape into the surrounding seabed.
The oil has leaked through at least seven narrow fissures, all within 160 feet (50 metres) of the well head on the ocean floor.
Eighteen boats work on a rotating basis on the slick, with a varying number of vessels working simultaneously, Buck said.
The leak is a test for Brazil as huge offshore oil finds have been announced recently, with estimates they could hold at least 50 billion barrels of oil.
Brazil has had bigger oil spills. In 2000, crude spewed from a broken pipeline at the Reduc refinery in Rio de Janeiro’s scenic Guanabara Bay, dumping at least 344,400 gallons (1.3 million litres) into the water. Just a few months later, more than 1 million gallons (3.8 million litres) of crude burst from a pipeline operated by state-controlled oil company Petrobras into a river in southern Brazil.
Brazil’s worst oil disaster was in 1975, when an oil tanker from Iraq dumped more than 8 million gallons of crude into the bay and caused Rio’s famous beaches to be closed for nearly three weeks.
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Mexico’s Interior Secretary says Mexican intelligence agents have broken up a plot to smuggle the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his family into Mexico under false names.
Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire says the plan involved a criminal ring “of international dimensions,” but it was quashed in September before it could be carried out.
The son is named al-Saadi Gadhafi, and he is living under house arrest in the Western African country of Niger.
Global News takes a look at the fate of key members of ex-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s family:
Moammar Gadhafi – Libya’s leader of nearly 42 years was captured by revolutionary forces in his hometown of Sirte. Libyan officials initially said Gadhafi was killed in crossfire between revolutionary fighters and loyalists. However, video footage emerged showing him being beaten, taunted and abused by his captors, raising questions about how and when he died. His body was later put on public display in the nearby city of Misrata until he was buried in a secret location.
Muatassim Gadhafi – Formerly the regime’s national security adviser, Muatassim was shot to death after he was
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found hiding with his father in Sirte. His body also was put on display alongside Moammar Gadhafi and ex-Defence Minister Abu Bakr Younis. A former bodyguard has said Gadhafi and his son travelled to Sirte shortly after fleeing Tripoli when the Libyan capital fell to revolutionary forces. Mansour Dao said Muatassim led loyalist fighters in the besieged city.
Khamis Gadhafi – The former commander of one of the regime’s strongest military brigades, Gadhafi’s son
Khamis was reportedly killed in a clash in August. Military officials have said they believe he was buried in Bani Walid, which was one of the last cities to fall to revolutionary control. He was pursuing an MBA in Spain when he was expelled for his role in attacks on Libyan protesters in the months leading up to Gadhafi’s ouster.
Seif al-Arab Gadhafi – Seif al-Arab was reported to be 29 when Libyan authorities said Gadhafi’s son and three of the leader’s grandchildren were killed in an April 30 NATO airstrike in Tripoli. He was a businessman who lived for some time in Germany, where he was investigated but never charged in an illegal weapons possession case.
Seif al-Islam Gadhafi – Gadhafi’s second eldest son and the first by his marriage to second wife Safiya, Seifal-Islam was captured by revolutionary forces deep in Libya’s southern desert. The British-educated 39-year-old was taken to the mountain city of Zintan where authorities promised he would be treated humanely. The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court has charged him with crimes against humanity and discussions were under way over where he should face trial.
Hannibal Gadhafi – Gadhafi’s son Hannibal was briefly arrested in 2008 for allegedly beating up two servants in
a Geneva luxury hotel, sparking a diplomatic spat that dragged on for months. In 2005, a French court convicted Hannibal of striking a pregnant companion in a Paris hotel. He was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a small fine. He fled to Algeria after Tripoli fell with his mother and several other relatives.
Al-Saadi Gadhafi – Known for his love of professional soccer, Gadhafi’s son al-Saadi reportedly had a colorful
past that included run-ins with police in Europe, drug and alcohol abuse. A man identifying himself as al-Saadi said he was ready to negotiate with the rebels to stop the bloodshed as fighting raged despite the fall of Tripoli. His conciliatory tone contrasted with a defiant statement attributed to Seif al-Islam on the same day. Al-Saadi fled to Niger in September, and the government there gave him refugee status. On December 7, 2011, Mexico’s Interior Secretary said Mexican intelligence agents have broken up a plot to smuggle the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and his family into Mexico under false names.
Mohammed Gadhafi – In his early 40s, Mohammed is the only child of Gadhafi and his first wife, Fatiha. He was
Libya’s Olympic chief and was involved in the country’s telecommunications industry. The rebels reported capturing him after they moved into Tripoli, and soon after said he had escaped from house arrest. He married in 2000. He was among Gadhafi’s children who fled to Algeria.
Aisha Gadhafi – A lawyer in her mid-30s, Aisha helped in the defence of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s toppled
dictator, in the trial that led to his hanging. During a 2000 visit to London, Aisha delivered an impromptu speech praising the Irish Republican Army at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. Gadhafi’s daughter had been a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Development Program, but the U.N. ended its agreement with her as Gadhafi cracked down on anti-government protesters. She gave birth on the border as the family members fled to Algeria.
Safiya Gadhafi – Safiya was a teenage nursing student when she met Gadhafi soon after he took power in 1969.
He ended up divorcing his first wife and marrying her. The couple had six sons and one daughter together and adopted two more children. She was among the group that fled to Algeria.
Hana Gadhafi – One of Gadhafi’s adopted children, the Libyan leader claimed she died as an infant in the 1986
U.S. airstrike that hit his Tripoli compound, Bab al-Aziziya. The airstrike was in retaliation for the Libyan-sponsored bombing of a Berlin nightclub earlier that year that killed two U.S. servicemen. At the time, Gadhafi showed American journalists a picture of a dead baby he said was Hana. But Libyan rebels who took over Bab al-Aziziya found a room in Gadhafi’s home with Hana’s birth certificate and pictures of a young woman with the name Hana written on the back, possible indications that she lived well beyond infancy. Tripoli hospital officials also say Hana worked as a surgeon. Her whereabouts is unknown.
©2011The Canadian Press
TRIPOLI, Libya – The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor was in Tripoli for talks Tuesday with Libyan authorities about their plans to put on trial Moammar Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam Gadhafi.
Revolutionary fighters captured Seif al-Islam Saturday in southern Libya, and he is being held by fighters in the mountain town of Zintan, southwest of the capital. A local spokesman for Libya’s new leadership says former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi also was captured over the weekend and is being held in the southern city of Sabha.
The ICC indicted the two men along with Gadhafi in June for unleashing a campaign of murder and torture to suppress the uprising against the Gadhafi regime that broke out in mid-February. Libya’s new leaders have said they will try Seif al-Islam at home and not hand him over to the Hague court.
The court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said in a statement Tuesday before his arrival in Tripoli that Seif al-Islam and al-Senoussi “must face justice.”
Rights groups have called on Libya to hand both men over for trial in The Hague, and Moreno-Ocampo stressed that even if Libyans want to try the two men in Libya they must still co-operate with the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.
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Libya is obliged by a Security Council resolution to work with the court, but that does not necessarily preclude a trial in Libya. If the National Transitional Council can convince judges in The Hague that the country has a functioning legal system that will give Seif al-Islam and al-Senoussi a fair trial on substantially the same charges as Moreno-Ocampo filed, then the ICC could declare Moreno-Ocampo’s case inadmissible and turn it over to Libya.
“I will talk to the national authorities and seek information about proposed national proceedings in order to assist us in analyzing the admissibility of the case against Seif Gadhafi and Abdullah al-Senoussi and to understand their plans moving ahead,” Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. “Their arrest is a crucial step in bringing to justice those most responsible for crimes committed in Libya.”
Seif al-Islam, who was once the face of reform in Libya and who led his father’s drive to emerge from pariah status over the last decade, was captured Saturday by fighters from the small western mountain town of Zintan who had tracked him to the desert in the south of the country. He was then flown to Zintan, 85 miles (150 kilometres) southwest of Tripoli, where he remains in a secret location.
In new video footage taken the day of his capture and obtained by The Associated Press, Seif al-Islam warns his captors that Libya’s regions that united to oust Gadhafi will turn against each other “in a couple of months or maximum one year,” suggesting the country will descend into infighting.
There have been signs in recent months of growing tensions among Libya’s powerful regions, and even after Gadhafi’s fall in August and after his capture and killing in October, the country’s numerous and sometime competing revolutionary factions have refused to disarm, raising fears of new violence and instability. The regions, backed by bands of armed fighters, are able to act autonomously, even on issues of the highest national interest.
In the video, revolutionary fighters stand around Seif al-Islam, who is seated in a green chair. Three of his fingers are heavily bandaged, and he occasionally winces from the pain.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.
ROME – Italian Premier Mario Monti opened a critical first full week in office Monday, with meetings planned with key European officials to map out strategy for dealing with the country’s debt crisis.
Monti presided over his first working Cabinet meeting after his new government won parliamentary backing last week to try to rein in Italy’s high debt and boost economic growth.
On Tuesday, he heads to Brussels for a first meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. And on Thursday he is due to join German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Strasbourg for what Monti has said will be a permanent club of the eurozone’s three largest economies to confront the debt crisis.
Monti is under enormous pressure to boost Italy’s stagnant growth and bring down high debt, which at 120 per cent of GDP is among the highest in the eurozone. The aim is not only to save Italy from succumbing to the debt crisis but to prevent a catastrophic disintegration of the common euro currency.
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Monti was tapped last week to lead after Italy’s spiraling financial crisis brought down media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s 3 1/2 year-old government. Monti’s government of professors, bankers and business executives won back-to-back confidence votes in Parliament.
Yet debt worries continued to stalk the eurozone Monday, with Italy’s 10-year bond yield up 0.09 percentage points at 6.64 per cent while stocks were down 4.5 per cent on the Milan stock index.
Europe has already bailed out three small countries – Greece, Ireland and Portugal – but the Italian economy, the third-largest in the 17-nation eurozone, is too big for Europe to rescue.
The European Central Bank has been buying up Italian government bonds in a bid to keep borrowing rates down. The ECB said Monday its purchases picked up last week to nearly €8 billion ($10.8 billion), up from €4.48 billion the previous week.
The ECB doesn’t break down what countries’ bonds it buys, but traders say it focuses on Italy to keep the country’s markets stable.
No details were released from the nearly two-hour cabinet meeting Monti chaired, other than that the ministers approved a decree concerning the administrative functions of the capital, Rome.
Monti has said the ministers were due to discuss some of his key reform proposals. He has pledged to reform the pension system, re-impose a tax on homes annulled by Berlusconi’s government, fight tax evasion, streamline civil court proceedings, get more women and youth into the work force and cut political costs.
While he hasn’t given any specific timeframe, he has said the government would decide “in the coming weeks” what new austerity measures are needed.
TORONTO – Lucy Howe rides a scooter to get around but she bounces uncomfortably when the sidewalks are rough and cracked. Curb cuts that form ramps for getting across the street aren’t always wide enough for the scooter, and it’s especially difficult in winter.
“I’ve tipped mine. I’ve fallen,” said Howe, who was at the York West Active Living Centre on a recent weekday preparing to settle in for an afternoon of playing euchre. “We’ve both fallen over together – me and the scooter. My ankle went underneath it, and it was a few weeks getting that healed up.”
Howe, 68, has scoliosis and a lung condition similar to COPD, which means she’s on oxygen.
A lot of people with disabilities live in her neighbourhood and the sidewalks aren’t all wide enough for them, she said. In addition, crosswalks flash the “Don’t walk” signal too soon for people with mobility problems trying to get across several lanes on busy streets.
“Even with a scooter sometimes, you’re just making it,” she lamented.
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As the population ages, city planners in many communities across Canada are teaming up with health researchers to listen to concerns like Howe’s, and to understand more about how the physical and social environment affects health, social connectedness and mobility.
Joanie Sims-Gould of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, located in Vancouver General Hospital, was among the researchers who got together for a symposium earlier this month called “If we build it, will they walk?” Perspectives were shared by civic planners, engineers, elected officials, seniors and experts in disciplines such as physiotherapy, geography, epidemiology, social sciences and bone health.
“What we’re looking at is how where you live influences basically what you do, how you move about in your environment – so if you live in a walkable versus a not-walkable area, how that may or may not impact physical health,” explained Sims-Gould, a lead researcher on the project.
“We’re particularly interested in how that impacts older adults and particularly those vulnerable older adults who are vulnerable either through health-related vulnerability or income-related vulnerability.”
It’s vital to consider the needs of older adults because of the demographic shift to an aging population, but it’s believed that all ages would benefit from improvements to the built environment, she said.
“If you build it for 80, it works for eight. If you build it for eight, it doesn’t work so well for 80.”
The World Health Organization developed the Age-Friendly Cities project several years ago to get planners thinking about the elements needed in a community to support healthy aging. The Public Health Agency of Canada has developed a guide for healthy aging in rural and remote communities, and its website includes a checklist of age-friendly features for outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social inclusion and participation.
This week in St. John’s, N.L., researchers will be contacting approximately 350 households for a telephone survey on the topic.
“Our research team is very much interested in systematically collecting data on the features of St. John’s. What are the impressions of residents of St. John’s, of housing and transportation and all the features, and then asking residents for suggestions, their impressions, on what could be improved and what city council could do about that,” said Wendy Young, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Healthy Aging at Memorial University.
When sidewalks are relatively smooth and bump free – and clear of wet leaves in the fall or snow in the wintertime – it contributes to making the community livable.
“If you have a sidewalk that’s well maintained, that is not only good for anybody with mobility issues, it’s also good for older adults, all older adults, it’s good for moms with strollers, it’s good for anybody in a wheelchair,” Young said.
An older adult on her research team who volunteers his time by driving people to different places is also urging that more support be given to volunteers who want to get out and remain socially active.
In Vancouver, Sims-Gould said the symposium didn’t just hear about the timing of crosswalk signals, and the quality of lighting, curb ramps and sidewalks. The absence of street furniture was also discussed.
“For example in the west end of Vancouver there are a number of seniors’ centres, but seniors may or may not be able to walk to them because there are some slopes,” she said. “But if there were some carefully placed benches, they may indeed be able to get out and walk, knowing that there’s a place where they can rest partway between.”
Having a place to go – a destination such as a community centre with interesting programs – is also key. And vibrant neighbourhoods make a difference too.
The researchers heard about a woman who lives in what would be considered a safe and affluent area.
“But she doesn’t like to go out and walk because it’s very residential and there are no eyes on the street,” said Sims-Gould. “So while the sidewalks are terrific, and it’s considered to be a safe neighbourhood there’s nobody around if she were to fall, if she were to have some kind of an issue. So that’s a real barrier for her.”
Another dominant theme had to do with nature’s call.
“Some of the women spoke quite candidly about their struggles with incontinence and the need to be nearby a bathroom, and how that’s created some social isolation for them,” said Sims-Gould.
VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver recently added washrooms throughout the park and now it’s a great place for older people to visit, she said.
Where such facilities are lacking, the symposium explored the idea of the private sector getting more involved.
“If businesses could identify themselves as a user-friendly washroom, we could almost have our washrooms mapped in the city, if you will, so older adults might know that, you know, this coffee shop here has a bathroom, you don’t have to buy a coffee, but you can go in and use it, for example.”
However, she conceded that business owners weren’t involved in this particular conversation, and the idea is somewhat controversial.
EDMONTON – The city’s first seasonal parking ban of the winter has ended, with 1,278 tickets issued, 45 vehicle tows requested, and seven vehicles being towed to the impound lot.
The parking policy was proposed by city council earlier this fall. A ban will be declared on residential bus routes in the city after a large snowfall.
The ban went into effect at 7:00 on Friday morning, on residential bus routes.
Vehicles that were not moved by the time the ban was in effect were subject to a $50 ticket, and the possibility of towing if they were not moved by the time plows and sanders arrived.
“During this first round of enforcement, we targeted those areas of the city which most often cause problems for commuters, transit operators and emergency responders,” says Erin Blaine, Parking Enforcement Coordinator, By-Law Enforcement, Community Standards. “It is also important to note that the parking restrictions remain in effect for the duration of the ban; there is no parking permitted on residential bus routes until a notification lifting the ban has been issued by the City, which has now occurred.”
The seasonal parking ban officially ended at 7:00 pm on Sunday.
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“I want to thank the citizens who took the time to make alternate parking arrangements while our equipment was working on residential bus routes. We understand it was an inconvenience for those people, but their cooperation it really made a difference. The faster we can get the residential bus routes done, the more quickly we can lift the parking ban,” says Bob Dunford, Director of Roadway Maintenance, Transportation Services. “It is our goal to avoid the issues that arose last year over the build-up of snow on city streets, and citizens have to be committed to helping us achieve that result. It is in everyone’s best interests to keep roads in good winter driving condition.”
Residential blading on non-bus routes began Sunday, with blading trucks working to create a level snow pack.
“Although there is more snow on some neighbourhood roads than others, it’s important to keep that level down from the very beginning,” adds Dunford. “When we receive more snow, it will be much easier to maintain an even driving surface if the layers beneath are already packed down.”
The city has said that eight hours notice will be given before a seasonal parking ban is in effect.
You can sign up to be notified about seasonal parking bans by email.
The best defence in the east is about to meet the best defence in the west. But now is not the time to argue over who is No. 1 in the CFL.
“At this point, it doesn’t really matter,” said Blue Bombers defensive back Jovon Johnson, a big reason why Winnipeg‘s secondary was such a force this season and why the team is heading to Vancouver to play the B.C. Lions in the Grey Cup.
“We’re going into a game against them in the championship,” added Johnson. “Maybe they were the best defence in the west, we were the best defence in the east. Two great defences going against each other in a big game, that’s what we look forward to.”
For coach Paul LaPolice, who guided the Bombers to the playoffs after finishing 2010 at 4-14, the work ethic that got them to Vancouver is what really counts. And he isn’t terribly concerned that they are viewed as underdogs after beating Hamilton 19-3 in the East Final.
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“It doesn’t really matter,” LaPolice said Monday at the team offices next to Canad Inns Stadium, which saw it’s last CFL game Sunday. The Bombers move to their new facility on the grounds of the University of Manitoba next season.
“These guys … they’re going to be excited just to be playing in the game, whether they’re favourites or underdogs. Certainly B.C. being at home is going to put them in a position of a lot more comfort for them but we’ve certainly done well on the road this year.”
In fact, they already have one win in Vancouver this year and went on to beat the Lions in both their regular-season encounters.
The Bombers finished the regular season at 10-8 while the Lions were at 11-7, both atop their respective divisions.
One of the things LaPolice says he likes about the team is the lack of grumbling – publicly at least – as he moved players around this season to find the right mix.
There’s no question quarterback Buck Pierce is anxious to win the final game of the season in Vancouver, where he started his CFL career in 2005. He joined the Bombers after getting released by the Lions in 2009.
“Really, there’s no motivation needed right now,” said Pierce. “It’s one game away and one shot. We’re going out there with a purpose. It’s a business trip for us. We’re excited where we are but it’s not done yet.”
Win or lose on Sunday, the Bombers have gone through a major turnaround in one year. That can be seen in the demand for tickets as Winnipeg set a new all-time record for season sales as they prepare to move to their new, larger home.
The Bombers continue to surprise.
The most potent weapon fielded by the Winnipeg offence in their rout of Hamilton was running back Chris Garrett, who was released after training camp this season only to be picked up again and get real playing time after injuries sidelined top running back Fred Reid and backup Carl Volny.
“I don’t think that you could write a better story for me or for anyone for that matter,” said Garrett, who rated his 190-yard performance on 29 carries Sunday, plus one dramatic final touchdown on the last play of the game, as one of the best games of his career.
“To me it didn’t feel like 29 carries … I’m willing to do more, it was fun.”
PITTSBURGH – There were lofty expectations surrounding Sidney Crosby’s long-awaited return to NHL action, and the Pittsburgh Penguins captain delivered almost immediately with a goal fit for a superstar.
Crosby scored on his first shot of the season, opening the scoring of Pittsburgh’s game against the New York Islanders on Monday. He collected the puck near centre ice, carried it into the Islanders’ zone, muscled his way past Islanders defenceman Andrew MacDonald and flipped a backhand over goaltender Anders Nillson.
The goal, at 5:24 of the first period, came on Pittsburgh’s first shot of the game.
Crosby wasn’t done there. He scored on a backhand from a sharp angle in the third period, ringing the puck off the post and past Nillson, and added a pair of assists.
For the Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist, this was more proof that Crosby knows how to deal with the burden of great expectations.
He’s experienced the pressure to perform at an elite level since he was a 13-year-old whose immeasurable talent made him a household name throughout Canada. The same pressure he felt as an 18-year-old debuting in the NHL in 2005, and as a 22-year-old carrying the weight of an entire nation at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
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What figured to be the most routine of November regular-season games, a Monday night Islanders-Pittsburgh matchup, was transformed into perhaps the NHL’s most anticipated when the Penguins revealed Sunday that Crosby would play following a 10 months-plus concussion layoff.
Suddenly, tickets that were selling online for US$150 doubled and tripled in price.
“It’s been long,” Crosby said as dozens of reporters created a logjam around him after Monday’s morning skate. “I’ve never been away from hockey for that long, so I’m just excited to play again.”
Even with so little advance warning, TV crews and reporters from two countries poured into the Consol Energy Center on Monday, eager to hear every one of Crosby’s words, analyze each one of his shots and shifts. The ABCs of hockey – CBC, RDS, TSN, and ESPN, USA Today among them – all were there among many, many others.
The crowd roared as Crosby’s name was announced during the pre-game skate, and fans held up signs that read “Welcome back Sid.” A loud chant of “Crosby” lasted until just before the U.S. national anthem.
The Ringling Brothers circus appeared at Consol Energy Center only two weeks ago, but this was an even bigger attraction than that: the Sidney Crosby media circus.
Everyone wanted to see Crosby again. On the ice. For real, and not just in practice. Even the opposing team.
“It’s obvious we realize the magnitude of this,” said Islanders centre Josh Bailey. “It’s huge. It’s great for the game when you’re getting your best player back. It’s been a long time coming and you never like to see anyone go through what he’s gone through. We know how hard he’s worked to get back. It’s exciting for everyone.”
Make that a nervous excitement.
While the hockey world waited to again see the player who was dominating the NHL scoring race at this time last year – when Crosby was on a 25-game scoring streak – there also was a bit of anxious anticipation.
Everyone also wanted to see how he would respond to getting hit in or near the head.
“We’re all going to hold our breath the first time he gets hit,” Penguins forward Steve Sullivan said. “That’s without a doubt. Everyone is going to kind of wait. Everyone wants to see. Everyone wanted to wait to see (when he was coming) back, now it’s wait until he gets hit for the first time.”
Crosby has talked about what he went through during a layoff that began following successive hard hits to the head levelled by Washington’s David Steckel on Jan. 1 in the NHL Winter Classic and again four days later by the Lightning’s Victor Hedman. He played that Tampa Bay game because there was no indicated following the Washington game that he was concussed.
He returns to the game having made no equipment changes. And he’s ready to be bodychecked.
“I think anybody that has gone through this and missed this amount of time you’ve got to make sure you get involved early and get that first hit under your belt,” he said. “Maybe that means having to initiate that more myself in order to do that. But anybody that has gone through this realizes that, yeah, there is a feeling-out process to get back into it.”
Crosby said the concussion prevented him, for months, from watching TV or listening to music, and it affected his stability and ability to move freely in crowds. Most of all, it prevented him from playing the sport he loves, the sport he dominates like no other, the sport that needs him out front as a gate attraction and TV draw.
“I’ve tried not to think about how long it was going to be, but the months kept adding up,” Crosby said. “It’s all behind me now and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
While his Penguins teammates, until now, have been reluctant to explain what Crosby went through during the weeks and months in which he couldn’t play, Sullivan offered some candid insight.
“He could do everything on the ice, but mentally, in his head, he would get a little bit foggy,” said Sullivan. “But he could skate and work and do everything on the ice. How he felt afterwards was what was stopping him from coming back.”
Now, more than two months since training camp began and a month since he was cleared for contact during practice, Crosby is ready to play games again. It will be a busy week, too, with home games Wednesday (Blues) and Friday (Senators) and a Saturday night game in Montreal.
Not exactly the best way for Crosby to ease himself back, especially since he knows it will take some time for him to return to top speed, to totally regain what linemate Chris Kunitz calls his unmatched skill set.
Sullivan, who missed a season and a half with a back injury from 2007-09, has an idea what Crosby will be going through.
“The first couple of games are adrenaline, you get through it on adrenaline, and then there’s that little lull where the wear and tear of a regular season kicks in,” he said. “For him, (after) having that huge high of coming back, there’s going to be a dip. But he’s extremely strong mentally and prepares himself like no one other, so his play might not dip as far.”
When Mario Lemieux ended his 44-month retirement on Dec. 27, 2000, scoring in his first half-minute on the ice against Toronto in another highly anticipated game, the Maple Leafs talked afterwards of spending too much time standing and watching.
The Islanders, losers of 11 of 13, know they can’t do that against a player who has 18 goals and 62 points in 33 career games against them.
“If you’re not playing him hard, if you’re not finishing your check on him, he can make you look stupid,” Islanders forward Matt Moulson said.
And that might have been the smartest thing anyone in either dressing room said.
“It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the last 10 months, so it’s pretty exciting,” Crosby said of his
much-anticipated return. “You don’t always get this anxious for games. This is one I can definitely say I’m anxious and excited for.”
The hard part? That’s all in the past, Crosby insisted. All those months of concussion testing, of doctors’ meetings, of working out, of dealing with setbacks and symptoms, of practising with no hope of playing that week or that night, are over.
“Now is the easy part. Now you just have to go play,” Crosby said.
NEW YORK – U.S. authorities declined to pursue a case against an “al-Qaida sympathizer” accused of plotting to bomb police stations and post offices in the New York area because they believed he was mentally unstable and incapable of pulling it off, two law enforcement officials said Monday.
New York Police Department investigators sought to get the FBI involved at least twice as their undercover investigation of Jose Pimentel unfolded, the officials said. Both times, the FBI concluded that he wasn’t a serious threat, they said.
The FBI concluded that the 27-year-old Pimentel “didn’t have the predisposition or the ability to do anything on his own,” one of the officials said.
The officials were not authorized to speak about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity. The FBI’s New York office declined to comment Monday.
New York authorities said Pimentel is an “al-Qaida sympathizer” motivated by terrorist propaganda and resentment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police had to move quickly to arrest Pimentel on Saturday because he was ready to carry out his plan.
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“He was in fact putting this bomb together,” Kelly said. “He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb.”
His lawyer Joseph Zablocki said his client’s behaviour leading up to the arrest was not that of a conspirator trying to conceal some violent scheme. Zablocki said Pimentel was public about his activities and was not trying to hide anything.
“I don’t believe that this case is nearly as strong as the people believe,” Zablocki said. “He (Pimentel) has this very public online profile. … This is not the way you go about committing a terrorist attack.”
Authorities characterized him in a different way. The unemployed U.S. citizen was born in the Dominican Republic and later converted to Islam. They said he was energized and motivated to carry out his plan by the Sept. 30 killing of al-Qaida’s U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
“He decided to build the bomb August of this year, but clearly he jacked up his speed after the elimination of al-Awlaki,” Kelly said.
He plotted to bomb police patrol cars and postal facilities, targeted soldiers returning home from abroad, and also talked of bombing a police station in New Jersey, authorizes said.
New York police had him under surveillance for at least a year and were working with a confidential informant; no injury to anyone or damage to property is suspected, Kelly said. In addition, authorities have no evidence that Pimentel was working with anyone else.
“He appears to be a total lone wolf,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”
Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, was denied bail. The bearded, bespectacled man smiled at times during the proceeding. His mother and brother attended the arraignment, his lawyer said.
Pimentel was accused of having an explosive device Saturday when he was arrested, one he planned to use against others and property. The charges accuse him of conspiracy going back at least to October 2010 and include first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, and soliciting support for a terrorist act.
Kelly said a confidential informant had numerous conversations with Pimentel on Sept. 7 in which he expressed interest in building small bombs and targeting banks, government and police buildings.
Pimentel also posted on his website trueislam1杭州夜网 and on blogs his support of al-Qaida and belief in jihad, and promoted an online magazine article that described in detail how to make a bomb, Kelly said.
Among his Internet postings, the commissioner said, was an article that states: “People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare.”
New York City remains a prime terrorist target a decade after the Sept. 11 attack. Bloomberg said there have been at least 14 foiled plots against the city, including the latest suspected scheme. The most serious threats came from Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad who tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in 2010 and is now serving a life sentence, and Najibullah Zazi, who targeted the subway system a year earlier. Zazi pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Asked why federal authorities were not involved in the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said there was communication with them but his office felt that given the timeline “it was appropriate to proceed under state charges.”
Alexis Smith, 22, who lives in an apartment in the same building as Pimentel, said she was shocked that he was a suspect in a terrorist plot. “He was always very courteous to us,” she said, adding that Pimentel helped her carry groceries and luggage into the building.
“It’s nice to know he was only working alone,” she said.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz, Tom McElroy and Samantha Gross AP video journalist David R. Martin contributed to this report from New York.
Women in Canada can be screened less frequently for breast cancer and doctors should stop performing routine breast examinations altogether in women without symptoms of the disease, according to new Canadian breast cancer screening recommendations.
The guidelines for average-risk women – updated for the first time in a decade – recommend no routine mammography screening for women aged 40 to 49 and lengthen the screening window for women ages 50 to 74 from every other year, to every two to three years.
Women have been told for years that regular mammograms save lives.
But in what could become a flash point in the debate about the benefits of the breast X-rays, the authors state that the absolute benefits of screening women aged 50 to 69 “remain small” and that a substantial portion will have false positive results – leading to “unnecessary and invasive investigation,” they said. In some cases it can lead to women having part or all of their breasts removed when, in fact, they do not have cancer.
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Women need to weigh the benefits and harms of mammography, the authors state, adding that women aged 50 to 69 “who do not place a high value on a small reduction in mortality and who are concerned about false-positive results, unnecessary diagnostic testing and potential over diagnosis of breast cancer are likely to decline screening.”
“We’re not trying to come across as saying that breast cancer screening with mammography is not useful,” said Dr. Marcello Tonelli, chair of The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and associate professor in the department of medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“We think it is a potentially useful tool in the fight against cancer. But it’s important for women to be informed about the risks and benefits – to know that both are present, that it’s not all benefit and to realize, when they make that assessment, the magnitude of what they’re talking about.”
“If you look at the numbers, you are much more likely to have a false positive result than you are to have your life saved by screening,” Tonelli said. “It’s a real benefit, but compared with the risk of false positives, it’s relatively small.”
Appearing in this week’s issue of Canada’s top medical journal, the guidelines also recommend against doctors routinely performing breast examinations to screen for cancer – a change from the previous guidelines.
They also recommend against women checking their breasts monthly for signs of cancer, a hold over from the 2001 guidelines.
The authors state that no case can be made for screening all women for breast cancer beginning at age 40 – a controversial practice not followed in most of Canada but which had until recently been the recommendation in the U.S.
Only Prince Edward Island actively recruits women aged 40 to 49 for mammography screening. Overwhelmingly the provinces require a doctor’s referral for younger women.
In the 50 to 69 age group, the standard is screening every two years.
The new guidelines, published in this week’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, challenge the view that women who choose not to be screened are somehow “irresponsible,” according to a related commentary.
Dr. Peter Gotzsche, director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark says that any possible effect of screening on breast cancer deaths is “marginal” and that women have not been informed of the potential harms.
“There is massive over diagnosis,” he said in an interview with Postmedia News. “It is a disaster to be healthy one day and the next day become a breast-cancer patient.”
The tests can detect tumours that never would have threatened a woman’s life, he said, exposing women to unnecessary treatment that in itself can be life-shortening, as well as unnecessary lumpectomies or mastectomies.
Many women harbour harmless cell changes or cancers in their breast, Gotzsche said.
“If (mammography) had been a drug it would have been removed from the market immediately,” he said. “You cannot have a drug that harms the healthy population on such a grand scale and with a doubtful effect.”
The guidelines are intended for average-risk women – meaning women who do not have a previous history of the disease, who do not have a known genetic mutation or other risk factors for breast cancer.
According to the new guidelines, the absolute benefit of screening is lower among women aged 40 to 49, because of their lower risk of breast cancer to begin with. Screening about 2,100 women aged 40 to 49 once every two to three years for about 11 years would prevent a single death from breast cancer, the task force says. But about 690 women would have a false positive result, leading to unnecessary followup testing; 75 women would have an unnecessary biopsy of their breast.
For women aged 50 to 69, screening about 720 women once every two to three years for about 11 years would prevent one death from breast cancer, but it would also result in about 204 women having a false-positive result and 26 women undergoing a breast biopsy.
Tonelli said screening older women every three years “seems to preserve the benefits associated with screening more frequently” but might reduce the harms. He said the costs of testing did not influence the group’s recommendations.
Mammography can detect tumours when they’re smaller and more responsive to treatment, Tonelli said.
But some tumours are so aggressive that it makes no difference when they’ve been detected, he said. Others are so slow-growing they would not affect a woman’s health or life-expectancy.
No evidence was found to show that routine breast examinations by doctors in women who have no symptoms of disease prevent deaths from breast cancer. If anything, it can lead to unnecessary biopsies and procedures.
“When doctors examine the breasts of women who have no complaints, sometimes they find a mass – and more often than not those masses are benign,” Tonelli said.
His group also says doctors shouldn’t be teaching the kind of structured breast self-examination long taught to women. Large randomized trials show that it doesn’t reduce mortality from breast cancer and significantly increases the number of unnecessary interventions.
“If you go regularly looking (for breast cancer), most of those lumps and masses that are found are not cancer,” Tonelli said.
“We’re not saying that if a woman notices something with her breast that it should be ignored,” he stressed. A mass, lump, discharge or any change is reason to see a doctor.
Tonelli said individual women should discuss the risks and benefits of mammography screening with their doctors.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada has endorsed the guidelines.
Here are the key recommendations for breast cancer screening from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care:
– No routine mammography for women aged 40 to 49. The absolute benefit is lower for this age group than for older women because of their lower risk of cancer.
– For women aged 50 to 74, routine screening with mammography every two to three years.
– No screening of average-risk women using MRI.
– No routine clinical breast exams or breast self-exams to screen for breast cancer.