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Judge allows Jodi Arias to represent herself at death penalty trial – National

PHOENIX – A judge has ruled that Jodi Arias can represent herself in the upcoming penalty phase of her murder trial, where jurors will decide whether she is put to death for killing her ex-boyfriend.

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Arias, 34, was convicted of first-degree murder in a sensational trial last year in the 2008 killing of Travis Alexander, but jurors couldn’t reach a decision on sentencing. Under Arizona law, Arias’ murder conviction stands, and prosecutors have the option of putting on a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure a death sentence.

The case captured headlines worldwide and became a cable television staple with its tales of sex, lies and a brutal killing.

A new trial to determine the sentence is scheduled to begin Sept. 8. If the second panel fails to end in a unanimous decision, the death penalty would be removed from consideration. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.

Arias told the judge Monday of her intentions to act as her own lawyer, and Judge Sherry Stephens granted the request.

She admitted killing Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home but claimed it was self-defence. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.

©2014The Canadian Press

Foreign worker crackdown to affect local mountains

VANCOUVER — Ottawa’s crackdown on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program could be affecting the local mountains this winter.

Resorts such as Whistler rely on international ski and snowboard instructors because not enough Canadians apply for the positions, they say. But now, the higher fees and stricter rules means it will cost employers up to three times more to import the skilled ski labour.

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“We have about 1,200 ski instructors here at Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski school in Canada – one of the largest in North America. And we just can’t find enough Canadians at that level to deal with our international clientele,” Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb Chief Executive Officer, told Global News.

The resort is responsible for $1.3 billion GDP in the province, but that’s in jeopardy of diminishing since Ottawa has tripled the head tax to $1,000 per year on foreign workers. The resort requires 90 international instructors, and they say the rule change has already cost the operator $4 million.

“It’s unfortunate that some abuses (happened) by a few businesses in a different sector, well let’s deal with that, let’s not whitewash this whole thing and put all our businesses at a disadvantage who are, quite frankly, using the program very effectively,” said Brownlie, referring to abuses in the fast food industry, which helped sparked the reform.

At Kelown’a Big White Ski Resort, the number of international instructors has been scaled back from 55 to 35. “In the ski industry, it’s crippling us. It will cost our industry half a million dollars in visa expenses alone. That’s no one’s budgeted item; we don’t have that type of money,” Big White Ski Resort Vice President Michael Ballingall told Global News.

–With files from Brian Coxford.

Alberta baseball tournament honours mother battling ALS – Edmonton

EDMONTON – The provincial final of the Prairie Junior Little League tournament had a special meaning for the starting pitcher of the Confederation Cubs.

“I feel kind of nervous. I haven’t pitched against them before,” said Kai Sakaguchi.

Monday’s game was potentially the last time 14-year-old Kai would pitch with his mother looking-on in the stands.

Susann Sakaguchi, 47, was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in October 2012.

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The disease has robbed her of her independence. She is no longer able to walk or speak.

“We knew she was going to suffer for a while, but her progression was very quicker than we expected,” explained Hajime Sakaguchi, Susann’s husband.

“Losing her speech was an impact for our family. That happened two months ago.”

Organizers of the provincial tournament stepped-up to the plate by dedicating the tournament in Susann’s honour. The umpires wore purple hats and fans helped raise money for ALS research.

“I know for our club directly – because it’s a small community of players and parents – it’s been a big eye opener on how quickly the disease can basically take place,” said Andy Kaulbach, Confederation Park Cubs.

“It’s good that people are trying to help out,” said Kai.

Baseball has been an important part of the Sakaguchi family’s life, with both Kai and his brother playing the sport since they were five-years-old.

Despite losing her ability to speak Susann has continued to come to the field to support her sons.

“Susann was always the number one fan of them,” said Hajime.

On Monday afternoon, Kai and the Confederation Cubs gave his mother plenty to cheer about. The team came back in the 7th inning to beat the Medicine Hat Expo’s and capture the provincial championship, and Kai was named Player of the Game.

With files from Global News’ Kendra Slugoski

‘Bromance’ and ‘mixtape’ among 5,000 additions to Scrabble dictionary – National

NEW YORK – To Scrabble fanatics, big gifts sometimes come in small packages.

The word “te” as a variant of “ti,” the seventh tone on the musical scale, is a hardworking little gem among 5,000 words added to “The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary,” out Aug. 11 from Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary’s last freshening up was a decade ago. Entries in the forthcoming book that include texter, vlog, bromance, hashtag, dubstep and selfie were mere twinkles on the racks of recreational players.

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But it’s the addition of te and three other two-letter words — da, gi and po — that has Robin Pollock Daniel excited. Daniel, a clinical psychologist in Toronto, is a champion of the North American Scrabble Players Association, which has a committee that helps Merriam-Webster track down new, playable words of two to eight letters.

“Being able to hook an ‘e’ underneath ‘t’ means that I can play far more words,” explained Daniel, who practices Scrabble two to four hours a day.

“Sometimes you play parallel to a word and you’re making two-letter words along the way. I call those the amino acids of Scrabble. The more two-letter words we have, the more possibilities a word will fit.”

One woman’s te is another man’s “qajaq,” one of Peter Sokolowski’s favourites among the new words. He’s a lexicographer and editor at large for the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster.

Qajaq, he said in a recent interview with Daniel, reflects the Inuit roots of kayak and would require a blank tile since Scrabble sets include just one Q. But it’s a rare word starting with “q” that doesn’t require a “u.”

A bonus, to a word nerd like Sokolowski: qajaq is a palindrome, though that’s inconsequential in Scrabble.

The new words add about 40 pages to the Scrabble-sanctioned dictionary, which already lists more than 100,000 playable words. Definitions are kept to a minimum but parts of speech and whether a plural is available are noted.

To be included in the 36-year-old book — this is the fifth edition — a word must be found in a standard dictionary, can’t require capitalization, can’t have hyphens or apostrophes and can’t be an abbreviation, in addition to being two to eight letters, reflecting the seven tiles players draw plus an eighth already on the board they can attach a long word to for bonus points.

Among the highest potential scorers among the new additions is “quinzhee,” a shelter made by hollowing out a pile of snow. Played on the board’s top row, ending at the top right through an existing “u,” and a player can score 401 points, including the 50-point “bingo” bonus for using all seven tiles.

Merriam-Webster didn’t identify all 5,000 new words but released a list of about 30 that also include:

beatbox
buzzkill
chillax
coqui
frenemy
funplex
jockdom
joypad
mixtape
mojito
ponzu
qigong
schmutz
sudoku
yuzu

Geocache was also added, voted into the dictionary by the public during a Facebook contest in May.

“It makes the game more accessible to younger people, which we’re always looking for,” Daniel said of the update. “All the technology words make it more attractive to them.”

Sokolowski anticipates a transitional period for some players who may need time getting used to the idea that so many new words will soon be in play.

“It is going to be a big step for a lot of people to switch to this,” he said, “but at the same time if you’re sitting at a Scrabble game after dinner and somebody plays the word selfie and somebody challenges that as not a real word, well guess what? It is.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Special needs bike stolen from backyard – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — A 10-year-old boy’s favourite hobby was robbed from him Saturday night.

A thief broke into the Reid family’s backyard in Elmwood and took Jacob’s special needs bike.

“My son is heartbroken. He loves riding his bike,” Arlene Reid, Jacob’s mom, said Monday.

Jacob’s BMX bicycle was specially fitted by the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre in Winnipeg with training wheels. The set costs $400.

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“For Jacob, it was a means of getting him out and about that he could never have experienced. I wanted a bike that could take his weight, and when it was gone, it was kind of heartbreaking,” his dad Chris said.

Jacob’s parents said Jacob is autistic and has a hard time understanding social situations, is often overwhelmed and can have meltdowns when upset.

Jacob thinks the person who stole his bike targeted him.

“He thinks we can just beat them up and get his bike back,” Arlene said.

Frustrated by the crime, Chris and Arlene took to social media. Roughly 2,500 people shared their link. Some people offered to raise money to buy the 10-year-old a new bike; others have offered to donate a bike.

But late Monday afternoon, the bike was returned to the Reid family.

“Amazing news!!! Some guy just returned the bike!! He wishes to remain anonymous,” Arlene Reid said.

He told Reid he saw the posting on Facebook and confronted the rider, who said his father had stolen the bike for him. The man who returned it took the bike from the kid and dropped it off at the Reids’.

“It definitely wasn’t returned in the same condition. The handlebars have been painted, the front brake is missing, as well as other damage, not to mention the special training wheels are absent,” Arlene said. “Jacob is quite upset about the condition of the bike and we are trying to make him understand at least the bike was returned.”

The next step is to contact the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, fix the damage and get Jacob back on the streets riding his bicycle.

WATCH: Boonstock reviews trickle in

PENTICTON, BC – Boonstock has come and gone, but reaction to the music festival is just starting.

“I thought it was amazing,” says festival-goer Milla Downing. “I definitely think there should be one next year.”

But Boonstock has not won over Penticton Councillor Katie Robinson.

She’s the liaison to the city’s protective services committee and has expressed security concerns from the very beginning.

“I thought it was a disaster looking for somewhere to happen and that’s what happened,” says Robinson.

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A 24-year-old woman from Alberta died of a suspected drug overdose early Saturday morning.

Two others remain in critical care for apparent drug overdoses.

Interior Health Authority reports there were 80 emergency room visits from Boonstockers over the three-day event – most of them drug and alcohol-related.

Robinson believes the security was almost non-existent, and as a result, about 20 more RCMP officers had to be called in to police the festival grounds.

“If it hadn’t been the RCMP and emergency personnel stepping up and taking over the security, I think we would’ve seen more deaths,” she says.

The locatee, whose family owns some of the land the festival ground is on, believes the festival went very well and there were many happy customers.

But he admits that growing pains are expected for Boonstock’s Okanagan debut.

“The second year gets better and the third year gets better than the second year,” says Pierre Kruger.

In the coming days, the local Chamber of Commerce and Boonstock organizers will have more information on the economic impact of the three-day event.

LA Kings’ Jarret Stoll visits Saskatoon with Stanley Cup – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – Hundreds of loyal hockey fans got a rare opportunity to see the Stanley Cup on the August long weekend along with one of their favourite Saskatchewan NHL stars.

Jarret Stoll, 32, paid the Bridge City a visit on Sunday and spent time with enthusiasts as part of a fundraiser.

Royal University Hospital (RUH) Foundation will benefit greatly from the visit thanks to the generosity of the Los Angeles Kings forward.

He created the now $1.1-million Jarret Stoll Patient Comfort Fund Endowment as the result of six celebrity golf classics for RUH from 2005 to 2011.

“We put a lot of time into having a successful golf tournament, and raising a lot of money, and this is exactly where the money goes. And it’s good to see that and see what they’ve done and see how happy it makes everybody,” said Stoll.

“I’m honoured to come back and spend some time with the kids and their families and that’s what the whole endowment fund that we all created here wanted to do.”

The endowment’s investment earnings have provided over $105,000 in furniture, equipment and resource rooms for local patients and their families.

Stoll also visited Kiwanis Memorial Park Sunday afternoon, giving fans the opportunity to take a photo with the NHL championship trophy and make donations.

READ MORE: 5 oddest and craziest adventures of the Stanley Cup

During his previous time holding Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2012 with the Kings, he visited southeastern Saskatchewan.

Stoll was born in Melville, Sask. and grew up playing for hockey teams in Yorkton and Saskatoon.

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WATCH: Owner denies her dogs are killers

A Joe Rich family is living in fear after their dog was attacked and killed last week.

They say their pet was fatally attacked by a pack of dogs that belong to their neighbour.

“I saw her standing right there, shacking. Blood all over her.”

Hanna Lambert recounts what she saw last week when she arrived home — her dog bleeding and mangled after being attacked. But Lambert didn’t know by what. Her mind was racing.

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“At the time, we thought it was coyotes, wolves coming onto our property but on Friday when those three dogs came on our property we knew those were the dogs that attacked her.”

Lambert says the three dogs came back the next day for another kill.

“They went after our other dog. One of them still had blood all over its chest,” says Lambert.

The fact that the three dogs came back has the Lamberts on edge.

“We’re afraid to go outside we have to carry a bat with us,” she says.

And the Lamberts are not alone. The three dogs recently paid their neighbour a visit.

Allen Pauls says his wife had a close encounter with one of the roaming dogs last week. It was aggressive. Now they too are in fear.

“My wife was watering the lawn last night and I wanted to go somewhere and she asked me if I would stay until she finished doing the watering. So it’s a little unnerving.”

Global News located the owner of the dogs. They had posted a sign on a local billboard that two of their dogs are missing — one matching the description of the dogs that were found on the Lambert’s property.

Savanna Malone lives just up the road from the Lamberts. She says she’s offended the Lamberts are pointing the finger at her dogs.

“I think it’s sort of offensive. Yeah, our dogs were on their property.”

Malone says it’s impossible that her dogs killed Lambert’s dog because they were out of town at the time. She says the dogs were with her but now they’re missing.

“At this moment our dogs are gone,” she says.

Not what the Lamberts wanted to hear. They want the dogs captured.

“I think they should be put down. If they’re capable of attacking a dog, they’re fully capable of attacking a human,” says Lambert.

The Regional District has fined Malone for letting her dogs run at large but no action will be taken for the killing because there’s no proof Malone’s dogs are responsible.

NYC hospital testing patient who visited West Africa for Ebola – National

NEW YORK – A New York City hospital says it’s performing Ebola tests on a patient who recently travelled to West Africa.

Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan says a male patient with a high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms came in Monday. The hospital says it placed him in strict isolation and he’s undergoing medical screenings.

Officials at U.S. airports are watching travellers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak there.

The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,600 people, killing nearly 900 mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It’s spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says at least three Americans have been tested in the U.S. He says all three tested negative.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan marks 100th anniversary of WWI

REGINA – The first World War changed the face of the world, Canada and Saskatchewan.

Monday marks 100 years since the start of Canada’s involvement in the Great War.

“Young and enthusiastic Canadians set out for Europe, confident that the war would end quickly and they’d be home by Christmas. They had no idea of the horrors to come,” said Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield, at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary on Saskatchewan legislative grounds.

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Over 60,000 Canadians would not return home alive, including 6,400 from Saskatchewan.

According to the commander, for all the army in western Canada, the impact from WWI is still felt today.

“A lot of the trouble that we see in the Middle East and that area is a result of the fallout of the post-war settlement,” said Brigadier-General Wayne Eyre, commander of 3 Division.

“It’s very important to understand that context, that history, but also recognize and understand our own history.”

Saskatchewan’s war memorial project began in 1988 with the names of about 5,000 Saskatchewan soldiers who passed away. On Monday, 1,200 more names were added to the list of WWI casualties.

“We thought we had everybody. But little did we know people went from Saskatchewan over to Manitoba and signed up there, or in Alberta to sign up, or home to England and signed up. So we missed a whole bunch,” said Terry Lyons, chair of the Saskatchewan war memorial committee.

The province’s war memorial on the legislative grounds is unique in Canada.

“Nowhere else in Canada is there a memorial that commemorates the province’s war dead,” said Jason Quilliam, chief of protocol for the province.

“As a man who served in the military, who went to Afghanistan, who fought for Canada, it’s all about stepping in the shoes of my forefathers.”

The ceremony also included the premiere of the “Saskatchewan March”, which was a song commissioned by a Regina composer for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“What a great community of people that we have here (in Saskatchewan) and this march celebrates that,” explained composer David L. McIntyre.