KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The favourites going into the 2014 Canadian men’s curling championship are the favourites coming out as the round robin draws to a close with Alberta, Manitoba and B.C. sitting one, two, three.
Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton and B.C.’s John Morris won their final round-robin games Thursday night to finish the Tim Hortons Brier preliminary robin at 9-2.
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Alberta’s Kevin Koe sits at 9-1 with only one game left Friday morning, after a 9-6 win over Prince Edward Island Thursday afternoon. If he wins Friday, the final three in order will be Alberta, Manitoba and B.C.
All that’s up for grabs is the fourth and final playoff spot. Saskatchewan and Quebec, at 6-4, are leading the race but Newfoundland and New Brunswick are hanging in at 6-5. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick play Friday morning.
“There’s still some hope,” Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard said of his chances to reach the three vs. four playoff game, although he has to face Alberta.
One scenario could even see four teams needing to work through tiebreakers Friday, if both Saskatchewan and Quebec lose.
“If both of the teams lose there’s four teams at 6-5, which looks like a messy tiebreaker, so hopefully we don’t have to go through that,” Menard said.
Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock knows his path to the playoffs.
“Win our last and either get some help from Alberta or play a tiebreaker,” said Laycock.
Morris said they will be happy to get into the playoffs through the three vs. four game. He got passed by Manitoba Thursday morning when he lost 7-6 to Stoughton in an extra end.
“We’re prepared to go through the three-four game we’re prepared to go to the one-two game, it doesn’t matter,” he said after his final game at night.
“If we have to play a few extra games in this spiel, we’ll get our money’s worth.”
Stoughton noted the strange way the tiebreaker system works that could actually change the order if Alberta loses to Quebec Friday. B.C. would move into top spot leaving Alberta in second and Stoughton in third.
“Its kind of interesting, I mean Koe can actually pick who he’s going to play,” said the Manitoba skip and three-time Brier winner.
He admitted that isn’t a likely outcome, since Koe will be trying hard to win to get hammer and choice of rocks going into the page playoffs.
Manitoba gave up three in the first end to Ontario Thursday night but quickly gained control again to come back and win 8-6.
“It seems like the theme of the week but year. It was well played again, he makes what, a double raise double? There was nothing we could do about it.”
In his afternoon game, Koe had a similar experience. He started with a big four in the first end and a deuce in three but gave up a single and a three to keep the Islanders close. They even managed the rare occurrence at this Brier of a steal against Koe.
“We got up early and then I just threw one bad shot and gave up a three ender (and) after that they started making a lot of shots,” he said. “We definitely could have made it easier on ourselves.”
But with a win Friday in their final game against Quebec, he gets hammer and choice of rocks for the one vs. two playoff. It’s an experience Koe says he has never had, either in 2010 when he won the Brier or in 2012 when he came second.
“It’ll be a different feeling, not having our backs against the wall,” Koe said.
Stoughton started the Brier with four wins — though none were decisive — before losing to Alberta and Quebec. He admitted both he and third John Mead needed to pick up their game.
The Thursday morning game wasn’t mistake-free for Manitoba or B.C., but the last and most costly miss was made by the hometown favourites.
After exchanging deuces in the first two ends, it was singles until B.C.’s Jim Cotter missed a key double with his last rock in eight, letting Stoughton draw to the button for two to go ahead 6-5.
“It was a real tough double,” said Morris. “We missed it by a hair.”
Cotter was a little happier Thursday night as they beat Laycock and Saskatchewan 6-3.
“We bounced back,” he said. “We had a solid team game. We were definitely a little better than this morning.”
Greg Balsdon and Ontario were sitting at 4-6 with one game left to play friday morning after losing to Manitoba.
The Northwest Territories-Yukon team of Jamie Koe was tied with Eddie MacKenzie out of P.E.I. at 3-7 with one game left, Jeff Currie and Northern Ontario were finished at 2-9 and Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy was winless at 0-10 with their final game against Ontario Friday.
©2014The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Although most Canadians view Pope Francis and his “simpler lifestyle” in a positive light, 42 per cent don’t think the pontiff has done enough on the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, according to a recent survey.
Released on Friday, the Angus Reid Global survey asked respondents from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom their views on Pope Francis as the pontiff marks his one year of papacy on March 13.
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Pope Francis vs. wind: Pontiff battles strong breeze during address
Overall, from the three countries surveyed, Canadians identified themselves as having the strongest ties to the Catholic Church.
According to the findings, a majority of the respondents—both Catholic and non-Catholic Canadians—view the Pope as having a positive effect on the church. While nearly two in five of Canadians said that while Francis has improved their view of the Catholic Church, only 14 per cent of non-practicing or “lapsed” Catholic Canadians said they would explore coming back to the church.
Less focus on sexuality, more focus on poverty
Canadians are the most enthusiastic about Francis’ desire to move the church’s focus away from issues of homosexuality and reproduction by putting more emphasis on poverty. Over 56 per cent of non-Catholics and 72 per cent of Catholics viewed Francis’ comments in a positive view.
Action still needed on sexual abuse
When it came to dealing with sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the survey found that 42 per cent of Canadians say Pope Francis did not do enough in his first year. This number drops to 32 per cent among practicing Catholics.
Americans are most forgiving on this issue with 33 per cent of those surveyed saying they believe Francis has done enough.
READ MORE: Vatican comes under sharp criticism for sex abuse
Francis is coming under increasing criticism from victims’ advocates who say the pontiff simply needs to do more when it comes to dealing with the issue of sex abuse.
Three months after the Vatican announced a commission of experts to study best practices on protecting children, no action has been taken, no members appointed, no statute outlining the commission’s scope approved.
Living a simpler, less luxurious life
Eighty-two per cent of Canadians said they have “positive feelings” about the pontiff giving up the “the trappings of luxury in his daily life.”
READ MORE: Pope offended by his own myth, mystique
In an interview on Wednesday, Francis said he found the hype that is increasingly surrounding him “offensive.”
“The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person,” he said.
– With files from The Associated Press
OTTAWA – Canada’s jobs market continues to sputter as the economy gave back some of January’s gains by shedding 7,000 workers overall in February, a disappointment to those hoping for a strong start to the year.
The loss was tiny in relative terms and insufficient to alter the 7.0 per cent unemployment rate.
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But after last week’s news of stronger fourth quarter economic growth than forecasted, and an encouraging 29,000 employment increase in January, economists had expected that February would also see gains in the order of about 15,000 jobs.
The setback in February continues a pattern of up and down months in the Canadian labour market, which has been virtually stalled since last August.
While the last 12 months has seen a pick-up of 95,000 workers – a weak number – Statistics Canada notes that “there has been little overall employment growth in Canada since August 2013.”
The softness was reflected in the employment rate, which held steady at 61.6 per cent, still about two percentage points below the pre-recession highs.
There were 15,500 fewer people classified as employees but 8,600 more people became self-employed.
There were some bright spots in the employment report, which is one of the most important barometers of how the economy is doing.
Despite the overall loss of jobs as 25,900 fewer people were in part-time work, as full-time employment rose by 18,900.
As well, the weakness came in the public sector, as declines in health care and social assistance, education services as well as transportation and warehousing contributed to a 51,000 dip in the labour pool. Private sector employment rose by 35,200.
Regionally, Quebec and British Columbia both had off employment months of 25,500 and 10,400 respectively, while Alberta and Nova Scotia saw gains of 19,000 and 2,900.
By industry, there were 9,000 more workers in natural resources and 7,900 more in agriculture in February, but 25,000 fewer in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Manufacturing saw a small pick-up of about 5,000, while construction lost 3,600.
In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the country’s trade deficit had significantly narrowed to $177 million in January from $922 million the previous month, although most of the improvement had little to do with jobs generating exports. In fact, in volume terms, exports fell 5.3 per cent, while a sharp decline in imports and better prices helped the bottom line.
©2014The Canadian Press
TORONTO – A Michigan boy received quite the birthday surprise Friday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Colin, who will turn 11 on March 9, has been diagnosed with issues similar to Asperger’s Syndrome. In February, Colin’s mother Jennifer set up a Facebook page for her son, which quickly went viral with people sending well wishes from all around the world.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 7, 2014
Thinking he was on “Good Morning America” (GMA) to help with a video game segment, the birthday boy was all smiles to learn that he and his family were on the show to celebrate his birthday. Surrounded by dozens of balloons and a birthday cake, the GMA hosts also announced that Colin and his family were leaving to Walt Disney World that afternoon to celebrate his birthday.
According to Jennifer, Colin’s condition affects his social skills and “makes it difficult for him to maintain friendships at school.”
READ MORE: ‘Secret’ Facebook page for Michigan boy with ‘no friends’ goes viral
Jennifer says when she asked her son if he wanted a party for his birthday he told her there wasn’t a point because “he has no friends.”
“He eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone to be unhappy with his presence, he sits alone in the office,” reads a Facebook post from Feb. 2.
“So I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party. Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day.”
The Facebook page “Happy Birthday Colin” has over 2.1 million ‘likes’ and countless video messages and posts from people worldwide.
On 桑拿会所, people used the hashtag #HappyBirthdayColin to send Colin birthday well-wishes:
#Happybirthdaycolin: Colin is turning 11 on March 9th. Join TACA in wishing him happy day! 杭州桑拿按摩论坛t.co/YTUZ88mF4b pic.twitter杭州夜网/ZJJb1pOetS
— TACA (@TACAfoundation) February 26, 2014
Jennifer says she asked people who knew him not to reveal the surprise prior to his birthday and says, before today, her son was unaware of the overwhelming social media campaign surrounding him for his birthday, even though children told Colin they saw his story on TV.
Colin’s mom says her son has also received over 40,000 letters, packages and cards from people around the world.
The 4th round of bday cards for the boy who said he had no friends. #happybirthdaycolin 杭州桑拿按摩论坛t.co/Oh8UO7qmaU pic.twitter杭州夜网/tpIDZf1yFj
— JONATHAN GARCIA (@jonathangarcia) February 15, 2014
SEND COLIN A BIRTHDAY WISH: To wish Colin a happy birthday on his Facebook page, click here.
Here’s a look at some of the well-wishes Colin has received:
The Ladies of Alpha Xi Delta at Indiana University wish Colin a ‘Happy Birthday.’
The Rosenberg Police Department in Texas also sent a message:
When asked about her son, Jennifer says he is a kid who loves his Nintendo 3DS, and Pokemon and is “obsessed” with Doctor Who.
“He loves his family, especially his little sister. He’s loving and caring to everyone. He gets picked on at school a lot, but despite his Momma’s requests not to, he always asks the principal to not punish the offenders, because everyone deserves forgiveness,” she wrote. “He’s an amazing boy, and I swear I’m not just saying that because he’s my baby.”
‘Secret’ Facebook page for Michigan boy with ‘no friends’ goes viral
SOCHI, Russia – Ukraine will compete in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi despite Russia’s military moves in Crimea.
The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee decided against boycotting the games, announcing a few hours before Friday’s opening ceremony that its athletes would stay.
The decision came after discussions between Ukrainian officials and athletes over whether to pull out in light of the crisis back home and Russia’s military takeover of the Crimean peninsula.
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“We are staying at the Paralympics,” Valeriy Sushkevich, president of the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine, said at a news conference.
However, he added that the circumstances were far from ideal.
“I don’t remember a situation when the organizing country during a Paralympics started an intervention on the territory of a country taking part,” Sushkevich said, according to the R-Sport agency. “I don’t know what to extent the team can focus on the result now.”
The Ukrainian official said the team would leave Sochi if there is any escalation of military conflict.
“I declare should this happen we will leave the games,” Sushkevich said. “We cannot possibly stay here in this case.”
He said he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday night to discuss the situation and request peace during the games.
Suskevich said he did not receive any guarantees but it was important that Putin agreed to listen.
Putin and IOC President Thomas Bach are expected to attend Friday’s opening ceremony. Several countries have decided not to send political leaders or dignitaries to the ceremony in protest of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s decision to compete in Sochi was welcomed by the International Paralympic Committee.
“We want sport to prevail and a full complement of teams to compete in what we are confident will be a fantastic Paralympic Winter Games,” IPC President Phillip Craven said.
“All week the IPC has been working closely with the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee in an effort to keep them here in Sochi. The talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes, not global politics.”
The IPC has appealed for Russia to recognize the U.N.’s Olympic Truce, which asks warring parties to cease hostilities during the Olympics and Paralympics.
About 575 athletes from 45 countries are due to compete in the 10-day Paralympics. Five sports are on the program – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.
©2014The Canadian Press