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Halak, Blues shut out Flames 5-0, win 7th straight

Thursday, 09 January 2014 23:19 Published in Sports
 
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Jaroslav Halak made 33 saves for his 28th career shutout and third this season to lead the St. Louis Blues to their seventh straight victory with a 5-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
 
Chris Stewart, Vladimir Sobotka, Ian Cole, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored goal for St. Louis, which hasn't been defeated since losing in a shootout to the Flames on Dec. 23.
 
Calgary has lost six of seven since, and it's also the fifth time in seven games the Flames have been shut out.
 
The Blues pulled even in points with Chicago atop the Central Division - although St. Louis has three games in hand.
 
Calgary has lost five home games in a row in regulation for the first time since March 7-31, 2000.
 

CHRISTIE FIRES AIDE, APOLOGIZES FOR TRAFFIC JAMS

Thursday, 09 January 2014 11:38 Published in National News

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday apologized for highway lane closures apparently ordered by his aides as political retribution, said he had "no knowledge or involvement" in what happened and sought to assure New Jerseyans the actions are not typical of the way his administration does business.

"This is the exception, not the rule," he told a news conference.

Christie, who had previously assured the public his staff had no involvement in the road closings, said he had fired Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly "because she lied to me."

Kelly was the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election.

The revelations thrust a regional transportation issue into a national conversation raising new questions about the ambitious governor's leadership on the eve of a second term designed to jumpstart his road to the White House.

The U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Paul Fishman, said he was "reviewing the matter to determine whether a federal law was implicated." The legislature is also investigating.

Christie on Thursday focused repeatedly not on the closures themselves but on how upset he was that his staff didn't tell him the truth when asked about the closures.

"What did I do wrong to have these folks think it was OK to lie to me?" he asked.

Email and text messages obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press and other news organizations indicated that the lane closings were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Kelly wrote in August in a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily-traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City. He also told him he didn't want him working any longe3r as a consultant to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie heads this year.

The messages do not directly implicate Christie, but they contradicted his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved.

Christie acknowledged Thursday that was a lie, because his staff didn't tell him what they had done.

He also said he had "no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or execution" and was stunned by the "abject stupidity that was shown." He said he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by his staff. At the same time, he said he accepted responsibility.

"I am responsible for what happened. I am sad to report to the people of New Jersey that we fell short," he said.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich called it "appalling" that the traffic jams appear to have been deliberately created.

Christie said he would go to Fort Lee on Thursday to apologize to Sokolich.

Kelly hasn't commented, and Christie said he hadn't spoken to her since the emails were released.

Besides firing Kelly, the governor asked a second trusted aide, former campaign manager Bill Stepien, to withdraw from a bid to become the next state GOP chairman. He said he was disturbed by the "callous indifference" displayed by Stepien in the emails released Wednesday.

Beyond the specifics of the lane closures, critics suggest the incident reflects a darker side of Christie's brand of politics that contradicts the image he'd like to project as he eyes the presidency.

The governor repeatedly sidestepped criticism that he bullied adversaries in an overwhelming re-election victory in November.

"I am not a bully," he said.

Facing a little-known and underfunded opponent, he cast himself as a different kind of Republican: a compromising, consensus builder who ultimately earned strong support from minorities, union members and even many Democrats.

It was described as the opening argument for Christie's prospective White House run. That argument is now clouded, at least temporarily, during one of the most important transitions of his political career.

In less than two weeks, he is scheduled to celebrate his second inauguration in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on historic Ellis Island, a symbolic beginning to a second term designed to expand Christie's bipartisan appeal. He also is expected to unveil his second-term priorities — solidifying his presidential resume — in a state-of-the-state address later this month, while beginning an aggressive national travel schedule as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, is scheduled to testify later Thursday before a state Assembly committee. He asked a judge Thursday to squash the subpoena, but the judge refused to do so.

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said the "revelations are troubling for any public official." But she said: "They also indicate what we've come to expect from Gov. Christie — when people oppose him, he exacts retribution. When people question him, he belittles and snidely jokes. And when anyone dares to look into his administration, he bullies and attacks."

___

Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.

Weather causes blood donation shortage

Thursday, 09 January 2014 11:14 Published in Local News
As severe winter weather begins to subside, the American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.
Approximately 300 blood drives in 25 states across the U.S. were canceled due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 88-hundred blood and platelet donations since
January 2.
In the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of nearly 30 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 900 fewer than expected blood donations over the past five days.
“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Scott Caswell, CEO of the Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions despite the weather. Now we invite those previously ‘frozen out’ from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”
Platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types — O positive and negative, A negative and B negative — are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
 
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. 
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
 

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