Crystal Awards
Gifts delivered for kids of locked-out American Crystal workers
Article publié le 21/12/2012
As the lockout’s second Christmas approaches, food and toys and financial contributions have been coming in to the Red River Valley in support of locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers and their families.

    This week, Teamsters and Laborers union semis have been delivering donated toys and food in Fargo, Grand Forks, Hillsboro, Crookston, and Drayton.  A delivery was also made to locked-out Crystal workers in Mason City, Iowa. The food and toys were collected by Operation Christmas Solidarity, sponsored by the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and American Income Life.
    Union volunteers are unloading the trucks at each stop, including Tuesday at union headquarters in downtown Crookston.

    “We started the Christmas food drive in November,” said Deb Kostrzewski, food and toy drive coordinator for BCTGM Local 167G and herself a locked-out worker. “And we’ve received so many generous donations from people, unions and other organizations up and down the Valley – all over the country, really. We truly appreciate what American Income Life and the St. Paul Labor Federation and the Laborers and Teamsters are doing this week, and what our own national union, other BCTGM locals, the AFL-CIO and unions like the United Steelworkers, letter carriers, AFSCME and the teachers and so many others keep on doing to help us keep up our fight for dignity and justice.”

    Erica Dalager, an American Income Life representative who helped with the deliveries said, “These workers are people. They have families, children, and real needs. American Income Life and The St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, Laborers District Council, Teamsters Joint Council and several other labor unions, are committed to brightening the holidays for the locked out workers and their families.”
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Weird, wacky and not-so-wonderful gifts for Christmas
Article publié le 21/12/2012
Christmas is all about the spirit of giving, but some people take this opportunity to go beyond the conventional gifts, such as chocolate or clothing, to get something a little more out of the norm for their loved ones.

McKayla Shelbie Jotem, 17, is one of the many who have had the “honour” of receiving an unconventional gift.

“One Christmas, I received a cookie in a mug wrapped in some fake bloodstained clothes which said Happy Halloween' and plasticine moulded in the shape of a guy,” she said, adding that she felt it was a gift meant for Halloween.

One Penangite, who wished to remain anonymous, has been both the sender and recipient of unconventional gifts.

“I once had a gift exchange and everyone there had prepared really weird gifts.

The 17-year-old, however, was in for a shock when she received her gift.

“I got a huge potato chip can which had cabbages inside; I thought I'd prepared the worst gift, but I ended up getting the worst instead!”

Clarissa Kor was also a “victim” of a gift swap, receiving not a pair, but one sock for Christmas.

Xuan Lee tells the story of her sister Lee Wei, 28, who gave a packet of jelly and instant noodles for a Christmas party held in her office,

“We wrapped it up in a big box and stuck expensive brand names onto the box!”
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Pondering the Christian Ponder Situation
Article publié le 14/12/2012

First, let me state up front that I am not a front-office guy or a coach for the Minnesota Vikings, nor do I have the privilege to sit and watch game film, so this is based on observing every game the Vikings have played this year. I would assume that most, if not all, of you are in a similar situation.

There seems to be much ballyhoo over Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. As of this article, the Vikings are 7-6 and Ponder has 23 starts. He has not been stellar, nor has he been awful, as some have suggested in their colorful comments. And let me address that. All the disparaging comments out there regarding Ponder influenced me to write this article, because I not only found many of the comments to be amusing, but also insidious. It's amazing how little thought people will put into comments. Imagine if they were actually held accountable for irresponsible comments?

At that same time, I have read some great comments, as opposed to those that are just plain, well, you know, “out there.” The goal of this article is to lay out an argument for and against Ponder.

Without boring you with all the background—No. 12 selection of the first round, arm strength, etc.—let’s just get to it.

The coaches and the organization evaluating this kid are the best ones to assess his performance up to this point. As fans, we can second-guess, affirm or otherwise comment, because that is our Constitutional right, but we should also be fair in our analysis, not the foaming dogs waiting at the gate for the next meal.

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Crystal City’s Synetic Theater has Georgia trip on its mind
Article publié le 07/12/2012
Just in case Synetic Theater’s home in Crystal City wasn’t far enough from the center of the city for you, it is about to take a field trip to a truly faraway place: The troupe says it will be the first American theater company to tour in the Republic of Georgia.

It’s a long-time-coming homecoming for Irina and Paata Tsikurishvili, Synetic’s founders. Irina hasn’t been back to Georgia, where she was born, in 17 years. For her husband and fellow Georgia native, Paata, it’s been 22 years. “Once we started to create theater, we never had time,” Irina explained.

“It was a long process,” she said. “We really wanted to go to Georgia, but financially it was so difficult.” The tour has been made possible by funding from the State Department, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

“I remember when I started at Synetic, seven years ago, there were whispers of taking shows to Georgia,” said Ben Cunis, Synetic’s resident fight choreographer. “It’s a really exciting thing. It’s amazing that it’s happening now.”

The American-born Cunis has never been to Georgia. “Georgian is a tough language. It sits in the back of your throat,” he said, admitting that his Georgian “is not great.” However, he has clearly done the most important pre-trip research. “It’s supposed to [have] some of the best wine in the world.”

Synetic will have an almost-Odyssean trek to get to its destination: It’s almost 10 hours to Istanbul, plus “a layover there for some ungodly amount of time,” said Cunis, and then a quick flight to Georgia. The following day, Cunis said, “we are jumping into tech. It’s going to be intense. And we like it that way.”
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Firefighter Hurt in Tanker Wreck Sues Dept
Article publié le 07/12/2012

Police found open cans of beer rolling around the cab of an overturned North Bangor Fire Co. truck and charged a 20-year-old assistant fire chief with being drunk behind the wheel as he drove the rig home after a parade.

Now, one of the volunteer firefighters injured in the July 2010 crash has sued his colleagues, the fire company and Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Stuart Mintz and his wife, Paula, allege it had become a custom for firefighters to drink while operating fire company equipment and that township and fire company officials did nothing for years to stop it.

In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District court in Allentown, Mintz claims he suffered severe and permanent injuries in the crash. He alleges the township's failure to adopt policies that would have prevented the wreck violated his constitutional rights.

The suit, which seeks more than $150,000 in damages, was originally filed in Northampton County Court, but was moved to federal court at the request of the township's attorney because it involves civil rights issues. Mintz is represented by attorneys James Pfeiffer, Travis Savoia and Andrew Gould of Easton.

In addition to the township and fire company, Chief Frederick Farleigh, President Christopher Louszko, Assistant Chief Zachary Romano and township Supervisor Chairman Edward Nelson are named as defendants. Their attorneys did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

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