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James eligible for parole

WINNIPEG -- Disgraced junior hockey coach Graham James is eligible to apply for full parole, but has not yet made a request.

Last March, James was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing retired NHL star Theo Fleury and his cousin, Todd Holt, when they were teenage players in the Western Hockey League.

James became eligible for day parole in September and for full parole this week, but the National Parole Board says it has not received any applications from him. The Crown is appealing the two-year sentence in a hearing set for Dec. 3.

The Crown had asked for a six-year term and, in its appeal, says the judge erred by placing too much emphasis on James's previous time behind bars.

James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in 1997 for molesting former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and two other players.

He got out of jail in 2000 and dropped out of public view.

If the Crown is not successful in its appeal, James is eligible for statutory release next July.

Congo rebels advance

GOMA, Congo -- Pressing ahead with their seizure of cities in mineral-rich eastern Congo, the M23 rebels said Wednesday they are fighting to control all of this sprawling country and to topple President Joseph Kabila's government.

Following their capture of the strategic city of Goma a day earlier, the rebels took the nearby town of Sake on Wednesday as they moved toward the provincial capital of Bukavu.

"Kabila has to go. We want our country back," said M23 Col. Vianney Kazarama to cheers from thousands gathered at the Goma stadium. "We are now going to Kinshasa. No one will divide this country."

Nearly 3,000 Congolese army soldiers and police defected to the rebels in Goma on Wednesday and turned in their weapons at the stadium rally.

Liberal critic resigns post

OTTAWA -- Ottawa MP David McGuinty abruptly resigned as the Liberal party's natural resources critic Wednesday after suggesting Conservative MPs from Alberta are shills for the oil industry and should go home.

His written statement capped a day in which Liberals had been scrambling to contain the damage from his ill-timed remarks, which came just days before a byelection in Calgary, where the Liberals have high hopes for an upset.

"I would like to unreservedly and unequivocally apologize for comments which I made with respect to parliamentary colleagues from the province of Alberta," said McGuinty, whose brother Dalton is premier of Ontario.

Warplanes bomb suburbs

BEIRUT -- Syrian warplanes bombed Damascus suburbs and rebel-held areas in the country's north Wednesday as the government blasted the European Union for endorsing a newly formed opposition coalition.

The raids struck several eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital and the strategic northern city of Maaret al-Numan, a key supply route linking Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo, said two activist groups. Both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees also reported violence elsewhere in Syria.

Bank drops expiry dates

TORONTO -- With an eye to the holiday shopping season, the Royal Bank has become the first major financial institution to move on upcoming regulations to make the fees and conditions for prepaid plastic cards more transparent.

RBC (TSX:RY) said it is dropping expiry dates on its prepaid Visa gift cards, which run in value from $25 to $500, and all fees beyond the initial $3.95 activation charge.

"The (government) regulations are proposed regulations at this point, but we decided we needed to go in advance and go over and above, particularly in the run-up to Christmas," said Anne Koski, head of RBC's pre-paid card division.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2012 A13

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