Thursday, May 15, 2008


Weeping mother urges Taser moratorium in Canada
A mother whose son's death at a Canadian airport ignited debate over the safety of Taser stun guns wept on Thursday as she called for a moratorium on their use.
"I know my son would not (have) died if he was not Tasered," Zofia Ciscowski told a public inquiry launched into the death of her son, Robert Dziekanski, during a confrontation with police after he arrived at Vancouver's airport as a new immigrant from Poland.
Ciscowski's lawyer said too many questions have been raised about the weapon's safety and the adequacy of police training on using the Taser to allow it to be used until Canada completes an independent safety investigation.
"It's time to put the genie back in the bottle and to start from square one," lawyer Walter Kosteckyj told the public inquiry, which is looking at both the airport incident and the broader issue of the weapon's use.
The stun guns made by TASER International Inc. (TASR.O: Quote, Profile, Research) have become popular with police internationally as a means of subduing people. They use a 50,000-volt jolt of electricity that causes muscle spasms and incapacitates a person.
The stun gun's supporters say it is much safer for both the person being arrested and police officers than other weapons such as firearms and batons.
Critics have accused Arizona-based Taser of pushing the product into the market without adequate independent testing of health risks such as heart failure.
GM Canada reaches labor deal
An end to the drawn out American Axle strike continues to elude U.S. bargainers, but the threat of a walkout in Canada at General Motors Corp. plants has faded.
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union announced Thursday that an all-night bargaining session had reached a tentative contract with GM.
The agreement is welcome news to General Motors in the United States and its employees, including about 1,800 at the Tonawanda engine plant.
An Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant is one of 20 GM locations supplied by the local facility.
In the United States, GM has had to deal with the impact of the United Auto Workers strike against American Axle, now in its 12th week.
The walkout has interrupted production at more than two dozen U.S. plants of General Motors and forced the temporary layoff of thousands of workers.
In Canada, CAW President Buzz Hargrove had said that he expected to reach new contract agreements with GM and Chrysler by May 15 that would follow the pattern set by a now-ratified three-year deal with Ford Motor Co.
Terms of the General Motors agreement were not immediately disclosed but in the past, Hargrove said his union would not accept a two-tier wage system.
The CAW's current contracts with GM and Chrysler do not expire until Sept. 16.
Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland advance to semifinals
Derek Roy scored three goals and added an assist to give defending champion Canada an 8-2 win over Norway and a berth in the semifinals of the ice hockey World Championships.
Finland edged the United States 3-2 in overtime to book a meeting with Russia, which trounced Switzerland 6-0 to advance. Host Canada meets Sweden in Friday's semifinals for the second straight year after the Scandinavians pulled out a 3-2 overtime win over the Czech Republic.
Rick Nash added two goals, while Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews added one apiece for Canada, which won for the 16th straight time at the championships.
Morten Ask and Mathis Olimb replied for the Norwegians, who were making a quarterfinal appearance for the first time ever at this level.
Also at Halifax, Sami Lepisto scored 3:59 into overtime to lead Finland over the United States.
Lepisto took a pass from Saku Koivu at the point and fired the puck through a crowd and underneath U.S. goalie Robert Esche for the win.
"It's hard to lose like this, especially the way we played the third period," U.S. coach John Tortorella said. "We lost a tied faceoff. Really, we won it, but we didn't come up with the loose puck and it ends up going in the net."
Tuomo Ruutu and Anssi Salmela also scored for Finland, which held a 2-0 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Americans rallied with goals by Phil Kessel and Drew Stafford 37 seconds apart to force overtime. The loss marked the seventh time in the last nine years the U.S. team failed to advance past the quarterfinals.
Switzerland put two pucks into its own net in the opening minutes at Quebec City to help Russia to an easy victory.
Maxim Afinogenov had two goals for Russia, seeking its first world championship title since 1993.
Alexander Semin opened the scoring 1:14 into the game as Alexander Ovechkin screened goalie Martin Gerber.
Then, the costly mistakes came for the Swiss. Afinogenov got credit for a goal when Swiss defenseman Raphael Diaz pushed the puck into his own net with his hand at 2:18. He was in the crease after Afinogenov's drive to the net and tried to push the puck under Gerber to freeze it.
Danis Zaripov was also given a goal that defenseman Philippe Furrer mistakenly shot into his own net 6:23 in. Furrer was attempting to clear the puck around the boards while killing a penalty, but his blast from the left circle went straight into the net.
A scary moment came with 6:47 left the game, when Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk took a major penalty and a game misconduct - earning an automatic suspension for the semifinal - after a charge on Julien Vauclair. The Swiss defenseman was down for several minutes and attended to by trainers on the ice before refusing a stretcher and skating off the ice under his own power.
Afinogenov scored his second of the game, and Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov had goals in the second period to make it 6-0. Evgeny Nabokov made 22 saves for the shutout.
Earlier at Quebec City, Mattias Weinhandl scored 3:15 into overtime to give Sweden the win over the Czech Republic.
The Czechs had just killed a penalty when Weinhandl slipped a backhand shot through heavy traffic to the net, where it slid just inside the post.
Radim Vrbata gave the Czechs a 2-1 lead on a penalty shot 8:19 into the third period after he was tripped on a breakaway, but Sweden got it back on a disputed goal by Marcus Nilson at 16:22 to set up the 10-minute 4-on-4 overtime period.
Rickard Wallin backed into Milan Hnilicka and knocked him over, and the Czech goaltender was unable to get up and get set in time to stop Nilson's shot. The Czechs complained vehemently to the referees to no avail.
Sweden's Patric Hornqvist and Czech Tomas Rolinek exchanged goals in the second period.

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