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Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recorded a dip in passenger activity for 2013.  The decrease was about one percent overall, or a drop off of about 112-thousand passengers.  

The airport did serve over 12.5 million passengers last year. Lambert reported a positive finish to 2013 with an increase in passenger travel of nearly 2.5 percent in December.  

That was a rebound after November saw the biggest monthly drop in passenger travel for the year.  For 2013, Southwest Airlines remained the top carrier with a nearly 49 percent market share.

American is Lambert’s second biggest carrier with about a 15-percent share of the market. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 10:50
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LONDON (AP) -- Go ahead - just try to get away with it. If you're willing to take the risk, you'll pay the price.

That's the challenge laid down to drug cheats thinking they can dope their way to success at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

International Olympic and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history, using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk.

Authorities are focusing their efforts on weeding out dopers through rigorous pre-games and pre-competition tests. Armed with an improved scientific method that can detect drug use going back months rather than days, the International Olympic Committee will conduct a record number of tests.

Urine and blood samples will be stored for eight years for retroactive testing, providing further deterrence to anyone thinking they can avoid being caught.

"I think it would be stupid to try to cheat," IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told The Associated Press. "If there are any doping cases in Sochi, some of them may be because athletes are being stupid."

The Russian doping lab, which had faced possible suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency for inadequate procedures, has been fully accredited for the games and will be analyzing samples around the clock.

The Winter Olympics have produced only a small number of positive tests over the years as they involve far fewer athletes than the Summer Games and fewer sports with a record of doping.

Olympic officials hope any cheats will have been screened out already through extensive out-of-competition testing carried out around the globe in the months, weeks and days leading up to the games.

Don't think, though, that nobody's cheating or that Sochi will be doping-free.

"You'd be foolish to write off the Winter Games as having any lesser risk," said Andy Parkinson, chief executive of Britain's national anti-doping agency.

The IOC plans to carry out 2,453 tests in Sochi, including 1,269 pre-competition controls. That's a 57 percent increase in pre-games tests from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

The majority of the 1,184 in-competition tests will be done in sports like cross-country skiing and biathlon, endurance events with a history of blood doping and EPO use. About 20 percent of the doping controls will be blood tests.

Much of the testing will be based on intelligence gathered from law-enforcement agencies, whistle-blowers and previous suspicious blood level results.

The testing program begins on Jan. 30, the day the athletes village opens. From then until the close of the games on Feb. 23, Olympic athletes can be tested at any time and at any place, including training sites anywhere in the world. The games open on Feb. 7.

About 2,000 of the 3,000 athletes competing in Sochi are expected to be tested - some of them two, three or even four times. The top five in all medal events are tested, as well as others chosen at random.

Since testing began at the Winter Olympics in 1968, only 20 doping cases have been reported by the IOC. Only one was reported at the 2010 Vancouver Games, with Polish cross-country skier Kornelia Marek disqualified after testing positive for EPO. Two hockey players were reprimanded for minor violations after testing positive for stimulants.

There was one positive test during the 2006 Turin Games, with Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva stripped of a silver medal.

However, there was a wider doping scandal in Turin. Acting on a tipoff from the IOC, Italian police raided the lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team, seizing blood doping equipment. While no Austrians tested positive at the time, four later received life bans from the IOC.

The IOC freezes and stores Olympic samples for eight years at the lab in Lausanne, Switzerland. The samples can be retested when new methods become available. The storage period will be extended to 10 years starting in 2016.

The IOC recently retested 350 samples from the Turin Olympics, but said it will wait until after the Sochi Games to announce the results.

"The rules from Torino say the IOC cannot discuss any details about that until the full doping control process is completed, and it's not completed yet," Budgett said. "What we can say is that it doesn't affect any athletes who are competing in Sochi."

While testing has improved, there remains a loophole in the system: no reliable test exists for detecting the transfusion of an athlete's own blood. Several sports federations, however, have adopted the "biological passport" program, which monitors an athlete's blood parameters over time to detect changes that could indicate doping.

The Olympics come at a sensitive time for Russia, which has a dubious record on doping. Scores of Russian athletes in various sports have tested positive in recent months. A scandal in Sochi would be a huge embarrassment for the host country.

Russia's doping lab has also come under scrutiny, with WADA threatening to suspend the Moscow-based facility late last year unless it improved its procedures. The lab has since passed inspection and has set up a satellite facility in Sochi for the Olympics.

The lab will be staffed by 90 personnel, including 18 international experts appointed by the IOC to help oversee the operations.

The main novelty is the "long-term metabolite" test for steroids, expanding the detection window by weeks or months. The WADA lab in Cologne, Germany, has found hundreds of positive cases with the new test in the past year.

Also in use will be tests for human growth hormone, which had been on hold following challenges to the system for measuring blood limits.

"You can't say there are no cheats," WADA director general David Howman said. "People are having a go where they can, but the risk is heightening and the approach is better.

"We keep saying: `You'd be stupid if you tried to cheat at the Olympics because you're going to be found out.'"

---

Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: HTTP://TWITTER.COM/STEVEWILSONAP

--

AP Sports Writer John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:16
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Challenging lawmakers to help him create greater economic opportunity, President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address Tuesday to announce he's raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour, underscoring a go-it-alone strategy in an election year critical to Democrats' hopes for retaining Senate control.

Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress will be wrapped in a unifying theme: The federal government can play a key role in increasing opportunities for Americans who have been left behind, unable to benefit from a recovering economy.

Yet the president will deliver a split message, pressing issues that will distinguish him and Democrats from Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections.

Illustrating his willingness to act on his own, the White House says Obama will announce that he will sign an executive order increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 for new federal contracts. The measure affects only future contracts, not existing ones, and would only apply to contract renewals if other terms of the agreement changed. As a result, the order would benefit far fewer workers than the number foreseen by advocates of federal contract employees.

Still, the issue dovetails with what will be Obama's broader call for an increase in the national minimum wage to $10.10 and for future increases to be tied to inflation. Obama last year had called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9.

Even as he argues that low income Americans and many in the middle class lack the means to achieve upward mobility, Obama will also feel compelled to take credit for an economy that by many indicators is gaining strength under his watch. As a result, he will talk positively about a recovery that remains elusive to many Americans.

Some Democrats are warning Obama to tread carefully.

"We hope that he does not dwell on the successes of the economy, which may be apparent in employment statistics, the GDP and stock market gains, but which are not felt by folks at the grocery store," Democratic political analysts James Carville and Stan Greenberg wrote in a recent strategy memo.

The president will present Congress with an agenda largely unchanged from what he called for a year ago, but one that nevertheless fits neatly into this year's economic opportunity theme. He will continue to seek an overhaul of immigration laws, an increase in the minimum wage and expanded pre-school education.

But after a year in which those proposals languished and gun control failed, the White House is eager to avoid letting Obama be defined by quixotic ambitions. As a result, he will stress success through executive actions, though their reach would be far more modest than what he could achieve through legislation.

"Congress is slow to action and we're not going to wait for that," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in an interview on "CBS This Morning." He told NBC's "Today" show that Obama is not concerned about his public approval ratings as he enters the sixth year of his presidency: "The president doesn't come down to work every day or go up to the residence every night worried about poll numbers."

Obama's biggest and most lasting accomplishment of his second term could be immigration legislation. House Republican leaders lately have sent signals that they are willing to act on piecemeal legislation, and Obama has given them room to work without prodding.

How immigration gets resolved will depend much on what the House is able to pass and if and how it can be reconciled with bipartisan Senate legislation that passed last year. Conservatives are pushing back against any bill that gives legal status to immigrants who are in the country illegally. And some Democrats would prefer to use the unresolved issue to mobilize Hispanic voters for this year's midterm elections.

Eager not to be limited by legislative gridlock, Obama on Tuesday is also expected to announce executive actions on job training, retirement security and help for the long-term unemployed in finding work.

Among them is a new retirement savings plan geared toward workers whose employers don't currently offer such plans. The program would allow first-time savers to start building up savings in Treasury bonds that eventually could be converted into a traditional IRAs, according to two people who have discussed the proposal with the administration. Those people weren't authorized to discuss it ahead of the announcement and insisted on anonymity.

"Tomorrow night, it's time to restore opportunity for all," Obama said Monday on the video-sharing site Vine, part of the White House's broad social media promotion of the speech.

The White House says the hike in minimum pay for federal contract workers would most benefit janitors and construction workers working under new federal contracts, as well as military base workers who wash dishes, serve food and do laundry. The White House says contractors will have time to take the higher minimum wage into account when pricing their bids.

Obama's go-it-alone approach has already irritated Republicans, some of whom claim he is pushing the limits of the Constitution.

"We have a minimum wage. Congress has set it. For the president to simply declare I'm going to change this law that has passed is unconstitutional," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Tuesday on CNN.

"He can work with us to create opportunity and prosperity," wrote Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Or he can issue press releases."

The approach, some Republicans say, could also backfire by angering GOP leaders who already don't trust Obama's administration.

"The more he tries to do it alone and do confrontation, the less he's going to be able to get cooperation," said John Feehery, a former top House Republican aide.

Obama will follow his State of the Union address with a quick trip Wednesday and Thursday to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee to promote his proposals. On Friday, Obama will hold an event at the White House where he'll announce commitments from several companies to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed during hiring.

Following tradition, the White House has invited several people to sit with first lady Michelle Obama during Tuesday night's address. Among them are General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Cristian Avila of Phoenix, an immigrant who with two younger siblings was brought to the U.S. illegally when Avila was 9. Now 23, Avila is one of the so-called Dreamers who have benefited from an Obama policy allowing young people who immigrated illegally with their parents to avoid deportation. Other guests include two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and Jason Collins, an openly gay former NBA player.

___

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014 08:49
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