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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Clayton Kershaw agreed Wednesday to a $215 million, seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a deal that makes the two-time Cy Young Award winner baseball's first player with a $30 million average salary.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Kershaw receives the most lucrative deal for a pitcher, breaking the mark of $180 million set by Justin Verlander last March for his seven-year contract with Detroit.

Kershaw would have been eligible for free agency after the upcoming season if the new deal hadn't been reached. He was eligible for salary arbitration, and those figures were set to be exchanged on Friday. He was coming off a two-year, $20 million deal that included $200,000 in bonuses in 2012, a $500,000 escalator to his 2013 base salary, and $300,000 in bonuses last year.

General manager Ned Colletti said last week that both sides had been negotiating.

"It's our desire to sign him here for a very long time," Colletti said.

The average salary of $30.7 million tops the previous high of $27.5 million, set by the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez as part of a 10-year agreement from December 2007. While Roger Clemens had a contract with a listed salary of $28 million with the Yankees in 2007, he joined the team in June and actually made $17.4 million.

The Dodgers had baseball's second-highest payroll at the end of the regular season last fall - more than $236 million.

Kershaw's agreement, first reported by ESPN.com, is baseball's seventh of $200 million or more. Among current contracts, it trails only the agreements of Rodriguez, Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto ($251.5 million over 12 years), Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols ($240 million over 10 years) and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano ($240 million over 10 years).

A left-hander who turns 26 in March, Kershaw won NL Cy Young Awards in 2011 and 2013. He was 16-9 for the NL West champion Dodgers last year and led the league with 232 strikeouts, and his 1.83 ERA was the best in the major leagues since Pedro Martinez's 1.74 for Boston in 2000. He has led the NL in ERA in each of the last three years.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tweeted: "Big winner today......me. I am blessed to catch best in the game for foreseeable future God willing. Congrats Kersh!"

Teammate Matt Kemp chimed in, tweeting, "Congrats 2 the best pitcher in baseball and great teammate (at)ClaytonKersh22 on his deal!"

Kershaw has been a powerful, yet low-key, presence on the team. In the offseason, the Dallas native has worked to build a charitable legacy alongside his wife, Ellen. The couple has made yearly trips to Africa, where his foundation that focuses on helping at-risk children built an orphanage.

The deal signifies further stability for a club that was in turmoil under former owner Frank McCourt, who sold the team to a group that includes Magic Johnson in 2012. The Dodgers signed manager Don Mattingly to a three-year deal last week and now have locked up their ace.

Last year, Kershaw pitched a career-high 259 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. The season ended on a sour note when he pitched a rare clunker in the Dodgers' 9-0 loss to St. Louis in the NL championship series that eliminated them.

Still up for discussion this winter is a new deal for Hanley Ramirez, who hit a team-leading .345 and played hurt during the NLCS. He has one year left on his contract.

---

AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this story.

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Thursday, 16 January 2014 08:28
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Complete list of 86th Annual Academy Award nominations announced Thursday:

1. Best Picture: "American Hustle," ''Captain Phillips," ''Dallas Buyers Club," ''Gravity," ''Her," ''Nebraska," ''Philomena," ''12 Years a Slave," ''The Wolf of Wall Street."

2. Actor: Christian Bale, "American Hustle"; Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"; Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"; Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"; Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club."

3. Actress: Amy Adams, "American Hustle"; Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"; Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"; Judi Dench, "Philomena"; Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County."

4. Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"; Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"; Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"; Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"; Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club."

5. Supporting Actress: Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"; Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"; Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"; Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"; June Squibb, "Nebraska."

6. Directing: David O. Russell, "American Hustle"; Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"; Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"; Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"; Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street."

7. Foreign Language Film: "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Belgium; "The Great Beauty," Italy; "The Hunt," Denmark; "The Missing Picture," Cambodia; "Omar," Palestine.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, "Before Midnight"; Billy Ray, "Captain Phillips"; Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, "Philomena"; John Ridley, "12 Years a Slave"; Terence Winter, "The Wolf of Wall Street."

9. Original Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, "American Hustle"; Woody Allen, "Blue Jasmine"; Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, "Dallas Buyers Club"; Spike Jonze, "Her"; Bob Nelson, "Nebraska."

10. Animated Feature Film: "The Croods"; "Despicable Me 2"; "Ernest & Celestine"; "Frozen"; "The Wind Rises."

11. Production Design: "American Hustle," ''Gravity," ''The Great Gatsby," ''Her," ''12 Years a Slave."

12. Cinematography: "The Grandmaster," ''Gravity," ''Inside Llewyn Davis," ''Nebraska," ''Prisoners."

13. Sound Mixing: "Captain Phillips," ''Gravity," ''The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," ''Inside Llewyn Davis," ''Lone Survivor."

14. Sound Editing: "All Is Lost," ''Captain Phillips," ''Gravity," ''The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," ''Lone Survivor."

15. Original Score: "The Book Thief," John Williams; "Gravity," Steven Price; "Her," William Butler and Owen Pallett; "Philomena," Alexandre Desplat; "Saving Mr. Banks," Thomas Newman.

16. Original Song: "Alone Yet Not Alone" from "Alone Yet Not Alone," Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel; "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2," Pharrell Williams; "Let It Go" from "Frozen," Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; "The Moon Song" from "Her," Karen O and Spike Jonze; "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.

17. Costume: "American Hustle," ''The Grandmaster," ''The Great Gatsby," ''The Invisible Woman," ''12 Years a Slave."

18. Documentary Feature: "The Act of Killing," ''Cutie and the Boxer," ''Dirty Wars," ''The Square," ''20 Feet from Stardom."

19. Documentary (short subject): "CaveDigger," ''Facing Fear," ''Karama Has No Walls," ''The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life," ''Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall."

20. Film Editing: "American Hustle," ''Captain Phillips," ''Dallas Buyers Club," ''Gravity," ''12 Years a Slave."

21. Makeup and Hairstyling: "Dallas Buyers Club," ''Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," ''The Lone Ranger."

22. Animated Short Film: "Feral," ''Get a Horse!," ''Mr. Hublot," ''Possessions", "Room on the Broom."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)," ''Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)," ''Helium," ''Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)," ''The Voorman Problem."

24. Visual Effects: "Gravity," ''The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," ''Iron Man 3," ''The Lone Ranger," ''Star Trek Into Darkness."

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ALTON, Ill. (AP) - Members of Illinois' congressional delegation want the Army Corps of Engineers to use some of the funding included in a spending bill to fix portions of a Mississippi River levee.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, and Republican congressmen Rodney Davis and John Shimkus made the request in a letter also signed by Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart.
In correspondence to Jo-Ellen Darcy, a top Army Corps official, the delegation asks that the corps make fixing the Wood River levee northeast of St. Louis near Alton a priority.
Calling the problem "critical," the lawmakers say the river barrier was negatively affected by a design deficiency in the construction of the Melvin Price Lock and Dam near Alton.
 
Thursday, 16 January 2014 08:16
Published in Local News
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GENEVA (AP) — The Vatican came under blistering criticism from a U.N. committee Thursday for its handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal, facing its most intense public grilling to date over allegations that it protected pedophile priests at the expense of victims.

The Vatican insisted it had little jurisdiction to sanction pedophile priests around the globe, saying it was for local law enforcement to do so. But officials conceded that it needs to do more, given the scale of the problem and the role the Holy See plays in the international community.

"The Holy See gets it," Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor, told the committee. "Let's not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently."

He was responding to a grilling by the U.N. committee over the Holy See's failure to abide by terms of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which, among other things, calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to keep children from harm. Critics allege the church enabled the rape of thousands of children by encouraging a culture of cover-up to defend its reputation.

The scene inside the conference room at U.N. headquarters in Geneva was remarkable by U.N. standards, with committee members themselves marveling at how such a powerful institution as the Holy See could be hauled before a relatively obscure U.N. human rights committee to answer uncomfortable questions before a packed audience.

The committee's main human rights investigator, Sara Oviedo, was particularly tough on the Vatican delegation, pressing its members on the frequent ways abusive priests were transferred rather than turned in to police.

Given the church's "zero tolerance" policy, she asked, why were there "efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases?"

Another committee member, Maria Rita Parsi, an Italian psychologist and psychotherapist, pressed further: "If these events continue to be hidden and covered up, to what extent will children be affected?"

Committee members asked the Holy See to provide data about the scale of the problem, what it has done to address it and what Pope Francis intends to do with a new commission announced last month to find best practices to protect children from abuse and help victims heal. They also asked about specific cases currently on the Vatican's desk, including accusations that the Vatican's own ambassador to the Dominican Republic sexually abused teen-age boys.

The Holy See ratified the U.N. convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. But it didn't provide progress reports for nearly two decades. It only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond.

Victims groups and human rights organizations teamed up to press the U.N. committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse record, providing written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem.

Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the U.S., and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.

The Holy See has long insisted that it isn't responsible for abusive priests, saying they aren't employees of the Vatican but rather members of the broader 1.2-billion-strong Catholic Church over which the Vatican exercises limited control. It has maintained that bishops are responsible for the priests in their care, not the pope.

"Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican," Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, told the committee. "Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."

But victims groups and human rights organizations provided the U.N. committee with the Vatican's own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police. In one famous case, a Vatican cardinal sent a directive to Irish bishops warning them to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their internal policies.

The Irish prime minister cited that directive and accusations that the Vatican had undermined a string of investigations into sex abuse in a remarkable 2011 dressing-down of the Holy See that culminated with Ireland's decision to close its Vatican embassy.

Tomasi was also asked about the case of the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who is under investigation by Dominican prosecutors for alleged abuse. The Vatican recalled Archbishop Josef Wesolowski in August, before Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation, and he hasn't been seen since.

Tomasi dodged the committee's question about whether Wesolowski would be turned over to secular authorities for prosecution. The Vatican has said it doesn't extradite its own citizens. Rather, Tomasi said Wesolowski is being investigated by the Vatican's own prosecutors.

"It will be judged with the severity that the crimes might demand," Tomasi assured the committee.

Scicluna, a Maltese bishop, has previously said bishops who failed to discipline pedophile priests or report them to police must be held accountable.

He appeared to refer to that in saying that criminal prosecutors must go after anyone — "whoever these people are" — who obstructs justice.

Victims groups and human rights organizations were closely monitoring the hearing.

"I think it's time for the church to stop this secrecy," Teodoro Pulvirenti, who said he was abused by a priest, told The Associated Press in New York. "I believe the church puts too much its reputation before the victims and you know the pain of this abuse that we carry. That's why I was so excited when I heard about this final meeting between the Vatican representatives and the U.N."

___

Winfield reported from Rome.

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