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White Coat Rally slated for Jefferson City Wednesday

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 10:42 Published in Local News
Doctors from all over Missouri will rally in their white coats in Jefferson City on Wednesday to urge legislators to rein in lawsuits in an attempt to control medical liability insurance premiums.
Doctors will take the day to travel to the state capitol hoping lawmakers will undertake tort reform and limit non-economic damages to $350,000.
The Show Me Tort Reform Coalition is supporting legislation that would restore the state's cap on damages that could be awarded for such things as loss of enjoyment and pain and suffering.  
The cap was lifted by a deeply-divided Supreme Court in 2012.  The White Coat Rally Day will begin at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow in the rotunda of the first floor of the Missouri Capitol.

JAMES SCORES 61, SETTING CAREER-HIGH AND HEAT-BEST

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:36 Published in Sports

MIAMI (AP) -- An hour after what he called the best regular-season game he's ever played, LeBron James simply explained why this performance was like none other.

The basketball, he said, felt small as a golf ball.

The basket, to him, looked as wide as the ocean.

Best player in the game. Best game of his career. James rewrote his record book Monday night, etched his name a few different times in Miami Heat annals as well, and let the NBA know in crystal-clear terms that his MVP award won't be ceded without a fight this season. He scored 61 points, setting career- and franchise-bests, as the Heat topped the Charlotte Bobcats 124-107.

"A surreal feeling for me right now," James said.

With good reason. He made 22 of his 33 field-goal tries, becoming just the third player in the past 25 years to take that many shots and make at least two-thirds of them, with only Alex English and Shaquille O'Neal on that list. James set a career-high for field goals made, plus Heat records for points in a quarter (25) and a half (37).

And of all his feats on Monday, the most impressive might have been how he started 8 for 8 from 3-point range.

"The man above has given me some unbelievable abilities to play the game of basketball," James said before the Heat flew to Houston for a game there Tuesday. "I just try to take advantage of it every night. I got the trust of my teammates and my coaching staff to go in there and let it go."

Glen Rice scored 56 to set the Heat record on April 15, 1995, against Orlando. James' previous career best had been 56 points, on March 20, 2005, for Cleveland against Toronto.

This outing was much better, James said. Not because 61 tops 56 - but because the night he scored 56, his Cavaliers lost.

"Phenomenal, amazing, stupendous ... he reminds me of me," Heat forward Chris Bosh said afterward in an overjoyed locker room.

James had 24 points at halftime, then added 25 in the third quarter. The record-breaker came with 5:46 left, when James spun through and around three defenders for a layup that fell as he tumbled to the court.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra walked into his postgame news conference with a confession: He nearly took James out after the third quarter.

He didn't. Good call.

"He was in a great groove, obviously," Spoelstra said.

Here's how good James was on this night: Al Jefferson finished with 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, making him just the fourth player in the past six seasons to put up a stat line like that.

No one noticed.

"You take away his 61 points," Jefferson said, "and we still had a fighting chance there at the end."

Yes, even the Bobcats were marveling at James. He was hitting from everywhere, even a 3-pointer from about 30 feet - Spoelstra joked it was from 40 - late in the third quarter, as the crowd roared and the Heat bench jumped with joy.

"Yeah, that was a designed play," Spoelstra deadpanned. "We've been working on that one for a while."

That was the moment, James said, when he knew he was in the midst of a special night.

"I felt pretty good in the first half but halftime can always kind of derail things and slow things up," James said. "But I was able to get things going once again in the third quarter and I knew it could be one of those nights."

Not "one of those nights."

Even for James, this was like no other.

"Once he sniffed 60, we knew he was going for it," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "And the amazing part is the efficiency. Good Lord. Sixty-one on 33 shots, that's Wilt Chamberlain-esque. That's pretty amazing. Incredible performance."

When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as "M-V-P" chants rained down.

"If he's going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there's nobody that's going to beat them," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

Miami was without guard Dwyane Wade, who got a night off to rest. Spoelstra stressed there's been no setback for Wade, who has been on a knee-maintenance program throughout this season and is averaging 23.5 points on 62 percent shooting since the All-Star break.

Wade probably didn't mind sitting for this one. It gave him a courtside seat for the show.

James made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the quarter - he was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc at that point - and when Charlotte bit on his head fake from the top of the key, James coolly found Toney Douglas to set up another 3. A tip-in by James followed not long afterward and just like that, the lead was up to 83-63.

Charlotte scored the next six points, but any notion that the game was slipping from Miami's control was quickly extinguished.

James scored the next six himself, a pair of three-point plays to restore the 20-point edge and give him 43 points, already a season high.

All that was left to see was what he'd finish with.

The answer was history.

James has been asked plenty of times in recent weeks about the MVP race, especially with many prognosticators suggesting the trophy is likely headed to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant.

Might be time to reopen the thinking on that one.

"Every night I go on the floor I want to be the MVP, of this league, MVP of this team, MVP for me, myself and my family," James said. "I've set a high standard and I have to live by that."

On this night, he did. And more.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops said to be 16,000 strong tightened their stranglehold on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula Monday, openly defying the U.S. and the European Union and rattling world capitals and stock markets.

The West struggled to find a way to get Russia to back down, but with little beyond already threatened diplomatic and economic sanctions, global markets fell sharply over the prospect of violent upheaval in the heart of Europe.

For its part, Moscow reiterated its price for ending the crisis: restoration of a deal reached with the opposition less than two weeks ago to form a national unity government in Kiev that represents pro-Russian as well as Ukrainian interests, with new elections to be held by December.

Ukraine, meanwhile, accused Russia of piracy for blocking two of the besieged country's warships and ordering them to surrender or be seized.

The U.S. originally estimated that 6,000 Russian troops were dispatched to Crimea, but Ukraine's mission to the United Nations said Monday that 16,000 had been deployed. That stoked fears that the Kremlin might carry out more land grabs in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was headed to Kiev in an expression of support for Ukraine's sovereignty, and the EU threatened a raft of punitive measures as it called an emergency summit for Thursday. The Pentagon said it was suspending exercises and other activities with the Russian military, and a senior U.S. officialsaid the U.S. would not move forward with meetings designed to deepen the trade relationship between the two countries. Lacking authorization to speak publicly about the trade meetings, the official requested anoymity.

But it was Russia that appeared to be driving the agenda.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva that Ukraine should return to an agreement signed last month by pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych — but not Moscow — to hold early elections and surrender some powers. Yanukovych fled the country after sealing the pact with the opposition and foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland.

"Instead of a promised national unity government," Lavrov said of the fledgling new administration in Kiev, "a government of the victors has been created."

The latest flashpoint came when Ukrainian authorities said Russian troops had issued an ultimatum for two of the besieged country's warships to surrender or be seized.

"I call on the leadership of the Russian Federation. Stop the aggression, stop the provocations, stop the piracy! These are crimes, and you will be called to account for them," said acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov.

"The commanders and crews are ready to defend their ships. They are defending Ukraine," Turchynov said in a televised address to the nation after a military spokesman said Ukraine's corvette Ternopil and command ship Slavutych were being blocked by four Russian navy ships in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

Vladimir Anikin, a Russian defense ministry spokesman, dismissed the accusation as nonsense but refused to elaborate.

In Washington, the State Department warned of a "dangerous escalation" and said the U.S. would hold Moscow directly accountable for any threat to Ukraine's navy.

Russia is "on the wrong side of history" in Ukraine, President Barack Obama said, adding that continued military action would be "a costly proposition for Russia." Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said the U.S. was considering economic and diplomatic options that will isolate Russia, and called on Congress to work on an aid package for Ukraine.

Still, it was not clear what the West could do to make Russia retreat. The clearest weapon at the disposal of the U.S. and the EU appeared to be economic sanctions that would freeze Russian assets and pull the plug on multibillion dollar deals with Russia. Late Monday, the EU threatened to freeze visa liberalization and economic cooperation talks and boycott the G-8 summit in Russia later this year.

Already the economic fallout for Russia was being intensely felt. Russia's stock market dropped about 10 percent Monday and its currency fell to its lowest point ever against the dollar. But the economic consequences of antagonizing Russia were also acute for Western Europe. The EU relies heavily on Russian natural gas flowing through a network of Ukrainian and other pipelines.

Global market reaction to the Russian seizure was furious. On Wall Street, both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite closed sharply down, while oil prices rose on fears that Russia, a major oil exporter, might face sanctions. In European trading, gold rose while the euro and stock markets fell.

The greatest impact, however, was felt in Moscow, where the main RTS index was down 12 percent at 1,115 and the dollar spiked to an all-time high of 37 rubles. Russia's central bank hiked its main interest rate 1.5 percentage points to 7 percent, trying to stem financial outflows.

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, was also a big loser, its share price down 13 percent as investors worried how it would get its gas to Europe if hostilities kept up, since much of it goes through Ukrainian pipelines.

Moscow has justified its military moves in Crimea as necessary to protect its country's citizens living there. At an emergency session of the Security Council on Monday, Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, told council members Russian troops were deployed at the request of Yanukovych.

Reading a statement he said was from the fugitive president, Churkin said the request came because, "as the legitimately elected representative," Yanukovych believes "Ukraine is on the brink of civil war."

Churkin quoted Yanukovych as saying "the life and security and the rights of people, particularly in the southeast part in Crimea, are being threatened" and there were "open acts of terror and violence."

By Monday, it was clear that Russia had complete operational control of Crimea.

Russian soldiers controlled all Crimean border posts, as well as all military facilities in the territory. Troops also controlled a ferry terminal in the Crimean city of Kerch, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) across the water from Russia. That intensified fears in Kiev that Moscow would send even more troops into the peninsula via that route.

Border guard spokesman Sergei Astakhov said the Russians were demanding that Ukrainian soldiers and guards transfer their allegiance to Crimea's new pro-Russian local government.

"The Russians are behaving very aggressively," he said. "They came in by breaking down doors, knocking out windows, cutting off every communication."

He said four Russian military ships, 13 helicopters and eight transport planes had arrived in Crimea in violation of agreements that permit Russia to keep its Black Sea fleet at the naval base in Sevastopol but limits the deployment of additional forces at the base.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk admitted his country had "no military options on the table" to reverse Russia's military moves into Crimea.

He appealed for outside help and said Crimea remained part of his country.

"Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time," he said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Hague said "the world cannot just allow this to happen." But he, like other Western diplomats, ruled out any military action. "The U.K is not discussing military options. Our concentration is on diplomatic and economic pressure."

Tension between Ukraine and Moscow rose sharply after Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement among people who wanted closer ties with the EU. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 people were killed near Kiev's central square. He insists he is still president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's confidence in his Ukraine strategy is underpinned by the knowledge that the nation's 46 million people have divided loyalties. While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.

Crimea is where Russia feels most at home in Ukraine: It is home to 2 million mostly Russian-speaking people and landlord for Russia's critical Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

___

Bennett reported from Kerch, Ukraine. Associated Press writers Lara Jakes in Washington, Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Raf Casert and Juergen Baetz in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin, John Heilprin in Geneva, Volodya Isachenkov and Laura Mills in Moscow and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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