BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin knows how old the Chinese gymnasts are.

calendar   Sunday - October 02, 2005

Daily Darwin Award

The gene pool is a wee bit cleaner this morning as another dumbass is taking a dirt nap. Too bad all four didn’t become candidates for the Darwin Award ....

Man Killed in Alleged Carjacking Attempt of FBI Agents
LOS ANGELES (AP)

One man was shot to death and another wounded after they allegedly attempted a carjacking against two FBI agents who were conducting surveillance, officials said. The FBI agents apparently were targeted randomly and the incident remains under investigation.

FBI officials Friday declined to identify the slain suspect pending the notification of his relatives. The identity of the wounded suspect also was being withheld, along with the names of two others who were arrested because they are minors. Both agents were assigned to the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. The agency did not disclose their names.

The bureau said in a statement that the two agents were in a parked vehicle in Reseda during an investigation of a violation of the Hobbs Act, which concerns extortion and robbery. The agents were “accosted by four young male subjects, at least one of whom was armed’’ about midnight and an altercation ensued when the four suspects allegedly tried to take the agents’ vehicle, FBI officials said.

Authorities did not say how many shots were fired or how many individuals had guns. The wounded suspect was hospitalized in stable condition. The other two suspects were in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department. FBI officials said a special team will investigate the shooting while local officials will consider criminal charges against the suspects.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/02/2005 at 03:06 PM   
Filed Under: • Crime •  
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ARGH! Damn Yankees!

Dang it! Those rotten Yankees did it again! However, the BoSox aren’t out of it yet. They can still get in as the wild-card team in the playoffs. C’mon, Boston! Get your act together and show George Steinbrenner he can’t just keep buying World Series rings. In related news, the Cardinals capped their season yesterday with their 99th win of the season (best record in the MLB). Now it’s time for the Boys Of October to put on their game faces and get down ....

imageimageYankees Clinch AL East With Win Over Boston
BOSTON (AP)

Not their best season. Not their smoothest. And certainly not the biggest title for a franchise that has 26 World Series championships in its illustrious past. Yet somewhere in the spray of champagne in the visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway Park on Saturday was the satisfaction that these Yankees came farther to win this AL East championship than any New York team since Bucky Dent popped one into the net here in 1978. “I can’t take my glasses off. I’m crying like a baby,” manager Joe Torre said on the field after New York beat Boston 8-4 to clinch the division for the eighth consecutive year.

“This was the best of all of them,” he added in the clubhouse. “The first is always memorable. But this has to be the most special because of everything that went on this year.” Randy Johnson won his sixth straight decision and the Yankees scorched Tim Wakefield for three homers - from Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield - to win for the 16th time in 20 games. Mariano Rivera finished up, gloving Johnny Damon’s high-chopper and throwing to first baseman Tino Martinez to set off a restrained on-field celebration.

Once inside the clubhouse, the Yankees sprayed champagne that dripped from the brims of the newest AL East Champion hats in their collection. For stalwarts like Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, it is No. 9; for Robinson Cano, Aaron Small, Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon, it is a first. “I have been fortunate to be a part of this three times,” Johnson said of his time with the Mariners and Diamondbacks. “But you could see a lot of new kids in here that haven’t experienced this.” Mike Mussina taped up plastic in the clubhouse to protect the Yankees’ lockers; it’s his only responsibility in Boston since he won’t be needed in the regular season finale. Instead, he will pitch Game 1 of the playoffs on Tuesday against Cleveland or the Los Angeles Angels.

Through a quirk in baseball’s rules, the Yankees (95-66) won the division because of Cleveland’s loss to Chicago in the AL Central. The loss by the Indians (93-68) eliminated the possibility of a three-way tie - and an unprecedented two-game, three-team tiebreaker - and gave New York the East by virtue of their 10-8 record against Boston (94-67). Small watched in the clubhouse and relayed the Indians’ score to the dugout. “He wins 10 games and give you the final score, too,” Torre joked with one of his coaches. “How much better can it get?”

The Red Sox finished second in the division for the eighth straight year, but it’s not all bad news for them. Their magic number to clinch the AL wild-card berth is one, meaning the defending World Series champions can do no worse than a tie - news that got a medium-sized cheer when it was announced on the Fenway scoreboard. If Boston loses on Sunday and Cleveland wins, they will meet at Fenway Park on Monday to decide the AL’s last playoff berth. If Cleveland loses on Sunday, the Red Sox get the wild-card berth no matter what they do.

“It’s the most unique situation you will see,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “What are the odds of us watching the Yankees celebrate and we’re coming into the clubhouse as excited as you can be about playing the game tomorrow.” Curt Schilling (7-8) is scheduled to go against Jaret Wright (5-4) on Sunday at Fenway. If the Red Sox have a one-game playoff against Cleveland, Matt Clement (13-6) would pitch on three days’ rest.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/02/2005 at 02:47 PM   
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Message From God

Memo To All Muslims in Europe and North Africa: God is currently deciding whether you have been good or bad. Tomorrow morning He will render His verdict. If He decides you have been bad, He will blot out the Sun and darkness will descend on the Earth. Night will fall in the middle of the day and the Unholy Spawn Of Satan will come up from Hades to kidnap your children and blight your crops during the darkness ....

(Hey! If Pat Robertson can get away with spouting this kind of crap then so can I! Besides, they might actually believe it!)

imageimageRare Eclipse to Appear Over Europe, Africa
LISBON (AP)

A rare and spectacular type of eclipse will dim the morning sky across a strip of southwestern Europe and eight African countries Monday. During the event, called an annular eclipse, the moon will mask the sun like a black plate, leaving a bright, fiery rim. The moon will be too small to blot out the sun completely, as in a total eclipse, because its elliptical orbit has taken it too far from the earth. However, scientists say the daylight will fade and temperatures will drop slightly as the eclipse travels along a narrow band girdling almost half the planet.

The rim of fire that appears around the moon glows brighter than the corona which is seen during a total eclipse. “It’s quite spectacular,” said Dr. Stephen Maran, an astronomer with the American Astrological Society in Washington DC. “I wouldn’t miss it if I was over there, because it’s rare,” Maran said by telephone. The eclipse’s three-and-a-half-hour path first traverses Portugal and Spain, including the capital, Madrid. The Iberian peninsula hasn’t witnessed an annular eclipse since 1912 and won’t see another one until 2028.

The eclipse’s narrow corridor will also travel across mostly deserted parts of Africa, encompassing Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Outside that band, a partial eclipse will be visible through protective eyewear over most of Europe, the Middle East, India and a large chunk of Africa, though some cloud cover is forecast on that continent. Authorities are reminding the public to avoid looking at the sun without eye protection.

In Spain, where the event has stirred keen anticipation, opticians selling 1 million special protective glasses at $3.70 each said Friday they had virtually sold out. In Portugal, the General Directorate for Health was distributing free glasses with daily papers. The annular eclipse starts over the North Atlantic at 0841 GMT. It quickly tracks southeast, crossing the Iberian peninsula. At 0856 GMT, the eclipse will blanket Madrid for 4 minutes, 11 seconds.

It then crosses the Mediterranean into North Africa, covering the Algerian capital, Algiers. At 1031 GMT central Sudan will experience the event’s longest eclipse, lasting 4 minutes, 31 seconds. The eclipse passes over the coast of southern Somalia at 1110 GMT and concludes at sunset over the Indian Ocean at 1220 GMT.



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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/02/2005 at 02:33 PM   
Filed Under: • RoPMAScience-Technology •  
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Sunday Funnies

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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/02/2005 at 02:24 PM   
Filed Under: • Humor •  
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Roll Tide!

The Crimson Tide is back ... with a vengeance! After nearly a decade of coaching changes, probations, etc. Coach Mike Shula has my boys back on track as evidenced by an old fashioned butt-whuppin’ the Tide put on Forida yesterday. Alabama went into the game as a five-to-one underdog and spanked the #5 ranked Gators severely. Florida never saw the endzone and barely managed a single field goal the entire game. This is the first time since 1992 that the Gators haven’t been able to score at least one touchdown in a game. Needless to say, there was a lot of beer-drinkin’, potato chip crunchin’, and whoopin’ and hollerin’ in the Skipper’s cabin yesterday afternoon. I have just now recovered from the party and post-game celebration. My head hurts but I’m as happy as a pig in slop (apologies to Oink) ...

imageimage(15) Alabama 31, (5) Florida 3
TUSCALOOSA (AP)

Alabama produced everything from long touchdown passes to a goal line stand in its biggest game in nearly 6 years. Then, the Crimson Tide players wondered why people seemed so surprised at their 31-3 rout of No. 5 Florida on Saturday. “This is exactly where we thought we’d be,’’ quarterback Brodie Croyle said. Few others were expecting such a dominant performance from No. 15 Alabama (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), which proclaimed itself perhaps the league’s team to beat with the victory.

Croyle threw for three TDs, including an 87-yarder to Tyrone Prothro and a 65-yarder to Keith Brown, and the defense was even more impressive in shutting down Urban Meyer’s offense. A Meyer-coached team had never been held without a touchdown, and the Gators (4-1, 2-1) hadn’t been kept out of the end zone since 1992. “Tell him not to feel so bad, because he played a very good defense,’’ Tide defensive back Charlie Peprah said.

Alabama, which had lost its last five games against top-five teams at Bryant-Denny Stadium, got its biggest win since a 34-7 victory over Florida in the 1999 SEC championship game. Tide fans, who had been hungry for just such a victory, mostly remained in the stands well after the game’s conclusion, celebrating as the players lingered on the field.

“That’s all we talked about all week, that we could make history,’’ said Croyle, who was 15-for-18 for 286 yards. The Gators had the league’s top defense overall and against the pass, but left having failed to even slow down Croyle when it counted. Coming into the game, Croyle hadn’t completed a pass longer than 52 yards all season. “We are a man-coverage team and we were exposed,’’ Meyer said. “We lost a lot of one-on-one battles. They are a very fast team. They looked a lot faster than we did today.’’

Chris Leak, meanwhile, was harassed into a 5-of-16 performance in the first half and his first two interceptions of the season, leaving him three passes shy of Danny Wuerffel’s school record streak of 121 without a pick. It was the Gators’ worst defeat since losing 36-7 to LSU in 2002 and ended Meyer’s personal 20-game winning streak at Utah and Florida. “Our back was against the wall the whole game,’’ defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “They took advantage of that. They’re a talented team but we could have and should have won.’’

There was one downer for Alabama on its best day under coach Mike Shula. Prothro was carted off the field with a splint on his lower left leg after landing awkwardly trying to catch a fourth-down pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Shula said the do-it-all receiver broke his leg in two places and was likely out for the season. “There were a lot of questions about how we could match up against a talented team,’’ Shula said. “Hopefully we answered some of those.’’

The Gators trailed 24-3 at halftime and couldn’t capitalize on Alabama’s one big mistake. Prothro fumbled away the punt after Alabama’s defense pinned Florida at its own 7 on the opening drive. After the Gators again failed to gain a yard before punting, Croyle hit Prothro in stride just across midfield for the long touchdown on the next play. It was just the beginning. Alabama’s defense set up another TD when Chris Harris intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 14 yards to Florida’s 2. The Tide added Croyle’s 65-yarder to Keith Brown midway through the second quarter on a slant pattern.

Prothro caught five passes for 134 yards and added a 15-yard touchdown in the third. Kenneth Darby rushed 15 times for 101 yards for the Tide. Croyle broke Alabama’s career record held by Andrew Zow and current coach Mike Shula’s career record of 35 touchdown passes with his 15-yarder to Prothro in the third quarter.

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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/02/2005 at 01:35 PM   
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calendar   Saturday - October 01, 2005

What Would You Pay?

imageimageHurricane Brings Miss. Real Estate Frenzy
MyWay AP

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Rubble piles bear “For Sale” signs. Homes without roofs are being sold as-is. Placards announcing “We Buy Houses, Cash!,” are posted on corners throughout middle-class neighborhoods.

The Mississippi coast, wracked by Hurricane Katrina, is caught up in a real estate rush, as speculators and those looking to replace their own wrecked homes pinpoint broken and battered waterfront neighborhoods. In the weeks since the hurricane, prices of many homes - even damaged properties - have jumped 10 to 20 percent.

But what Katrina spared, the real estate rush now imperils. The arrival of speculators threatens what’s left of bungalow neighborhoods that are among the Gulf’s oldest communities, close-knit places of modest means where casino workers, fishermen and their families could still afford to live near the water.

Many, underinsured and with few alternatives, see no choice but to sell.

People are paying 10%-20% or more for piles of rubble than they would have a month ago for the house that was there.  Incredible.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 09:08 PM   
Filed Under: • News-Briefs •  
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Scaring The Tourists In Florida

Two things to note here: (1) this piece comes from a French news source (Agence France Presse) and (2) the French are warning tourists coming to Florida to mind their manners and don’t rile the natives. That speaks volumes about the French who are obnoxious as hell to tourists in their country. Maybe the Frogs need to let us carry when we visit them. Who knows, it just might improve Franco-American relations.

Personally, I think this ad by the Brady Campaign really sucks badly but it may have one unintended purpose: the tourists will act reasonably, have a good time and most importantly, won’t offend anyone while they’re in the Sunshine State. And no one will get shot fer crying out loud. Like in the Old West, just knowing everyone had guns made folks act real friendly and polite. Something we could use more of nowadays (especially from our Frog friends) ....

imageimageAttention: Testy Visitors Risk Being Shot in Florida
MIAMI (AFP)

Welcome to Florida, but avoid arguments or thanks to a new law you run the risk of getting shot, according to an ad campaign launched by a gun-control group. The campaign coincides with a state law that enters into effect authorizing gun owners to shoot anyone in a public area who they believe threaten their safety.

The law, supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), was approved by the state legislature in April. Governor Jeb Bush described it as a “good, common sense, anti-crime issue” when he signed it into law. His is a brother of US President George W. Bush.

Supporters call it the “Stand Your Ground” law, while opponents call it the “Shoot First” law. Under the previous law gun owners had first to attempt to withdraw and avoid a confrontation, and were authorized to shoot the threatening individual inside their home or property. Critics say the current law allows gun owners to shoot if they engage in a simple argument. Supporters say that criminals will think twice when they try to attack someone in public.

Before the law was “on the side of the criminal,” said Marion Hammer, head of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former NRA president. “The new law is on the side of the law-abiding victim,” Hammer said. Enter the Washington DC-based Brady Campaign to Control Gun Violence. The group will run ads in US and British newspapers warning tourists planning to visit Florida that a “nervous and frightened” Florida resident could shoot to kill. “Warning: Florida residents can use deadly force,” the ad states.

“If you are involved in a traffic accident or near-miss, remain in your car and keep your hands in plain sight. If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude, and do not shout or make threatening gestures,” the ad reads. The Brady Campaign promises to also run ads in French, German and Japanese newspapers if they can stretch their budget. They also plan to hand out fliers and post signs on the Florida highways with the warnings.

“It is reasonable to make people know that while they’re visiting Florida they should take the right precautions to avoid potentially being victims of violence,” Brady Campaign spokesman Peter Hamm told AFP. The group is named after Jim Brady, spokesman for president Ronald Reagan. Brady received a gunshot that paralyzed him when a mentally disturbed man shot Reagan in 1981.

Florida tourist authorities are hardly amused by the campaign. “The Brady Campaign is one group’s political agenda and not a safety and education issue,” fumed Bud Nocera, executive director of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism office, who described it as a “scare tactic” campaign. “It is sad that such an organization would hold the 900,000 men and women who work in the Florida tourism industry, and whose lives depend on it, hostage, to their political agenda,” he added.

Nocera said the campaign would have no impact on the millions of tourists that visit Florida, numbering 80 million in 2004. “I can’t understand why anybody would be opposed to telling visitors what the law is,” said Hamm. “No state in America has ever passed a law like this one.” The Brady Campaign is “not telling anybody that they shouldn’t visit Florida. My family and I vacation in Florida every Easter and were intending to do so. But I’m going to make sure that none of the people in my family get into a loud argument while we are there,” he said.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 05:55 PM   
Filed Under: • EUro-peons •  
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Euro Envy

The US military built it, the citizens of the US made it into a worldwide community, now the Euro-Weenies want to take it away from us. The UN is also salivating at the thought of controlling the internet. My reply to both is ”go pound sand”. They can have my internet when they pry it from my cold, dead mouse ....

EU Wants Shared Control of Internet
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP)

The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance. A senior U.S. official reiterated Thursday that the country wants to remain the Internet’s ultimate authority, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting in Geneva for a U.N. body to take over.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said a new cooperation model was important “because the Internet is a global resource.” “The EU ... is very firm on this position,” he added. The Geneva talks were the last preparatory meeting before November’s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia. A stalemate over who should serve as the principal traffic cops for Internet routing and addressing could derail the summit, which aims to ensure a fair sharing of the Internet for the benefit of the whole world.

At issue is who would have ultimate authority over the Internet’s master directories, which tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic. That role has historically gone to the United States, which created the Internet as a Pentagon project and funded much of its early development. The U.S. Commerce Department has delegated much of that responsibility to a U.S.-based private organization with international board members, but Commerce ultimately retains veto power.

Some countries have been frustrated that the United States and European countries that got on the Internet first gobbled up most of the available addresses required for computers to connect, leaving developing nations with a limited supply to share. They also want greater assurance that as they come to rely on the Internet more for governmental and other services, their plans won’t get derailed by some future U.S. policy. Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable. Other decisions could affect the availability of domain names in non-English characters or ones dedicated to special interests such as pornography.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 12:37 PM   
Filed Under: • EUro-peons •  
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WTF-Mobile

imageimageNo More Backing Up With Nissan’s New Egg Shaped Car
TOKYO (AP)

Nissan has come up with a way to help drivers back out of tight parking spots.

The Japanese automaker has developed an egg-shaped car whose body pivots 360 degrees so that its rear end becomes the front.

The Pivo was shown Friday at a Tokyo Nissan showroom and is an experimental model that probably won’t go on sale for several years.

It’s a three-seater electric car that looks like a big egg on wheels. Its body revolves in a complete circle while its wheels stay put.

Such moves are possible because Pivo’s steering, wheels and other parts are controlled electronically by wireless signals, not mechanical links.

Frank adds: And if this thing ever makes it to market, some punks will start learning how to drive it while the cab spins.  There will be entries in the X-Games for “Extreme Egging”.  Someone will put a .50 cal gun mount on top and the cab will become a turret.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 04:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Odd-Strange •  
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No Looting

Ever wonder why there was so much looting and shooting going on in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina but there was none in Texas during Hurricane Rita? Oink has the answer. The picture below came to him from a Marine buddy in Texas. I think it’s self-explanatory ....

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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 03:35 AM   
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Photo Finish

It’s no secret that I only root for two baseball teams ... the Chicago Cubs and whoever is playing the Yankees. The BoSox broke their curse last year and won the World Series. The Cubbies are still waiting for that damn goat to forgive us. I hope Boston beats the socks off the Yankees but of course whoever wins the American League championship will have to lose to the best team in baseball this year ... the St. Louis Cardinals. This year the Cards will take the Big Prize. Why? Because I freakin’ said so. Wanna bet on it?

imageimageBoSox Beat Yankees to Tie for AL East Lead
BOSTON (AP)

It’s all tied up in the AL East. Boston and New York. Two games to play. Jason Varitek homered, David Ortiz drove in another big run and David Wells pitched seven strong innings on Friday night to give the Red Sox a 5-3 victory over the Yankees, knotting the division on the season’s final weekend. Boston’s victory left both teams at 94-66 and guarantees that the AL East title won’t be decided until Sunday, what’s scheduled to be the final day of the regular season.

Or possibly Monday. If the teams split the last two games, there could be a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium. If Cleveland also is tied at 95 wins, the loser of the Boston-New York game would play the Indians Tuesday for the AL wild-card berth. For now, the schedule has Tim Wakefield (16-11) facing Randy Johnson (16-8) on Saturday, with Curt Schilling (7-8) going against Mike Mussina (13-8) on Sunday.

Wells (15-7) won for the sixth time in seven decisions, with the only loss coming at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 9. But returning to Boston, where he’s now 8-1, served the former Yankee well; he allowed three runs, six hits and two walks, striking out five. Mike Timlin got the last four outs for his 12th save in 19 chances. It was his 80th appearance of the season, a career-high that matches the franchise record.

Rookie Chien-Ming Wang (8-5) gave up five runs — just three earned — on four hits and six walks. He struck out four in 6 2-3 innings. The voluble and voluminous Wells had demonstrated control this year — with his pitching, not with the mouth that earned him a suspension and a dressing down from the commissioner’s office. He allowed just 19 walks in his first 29 starts, but started off with two walks and a hit batter, loading the bases with one out in the first inning.

Still, the Yankees scored just once, when Hideki Matsui singled — his first of three hits — to score Alex Rodriguez. Jorge Posada struck out with the bases loaded and stranded six runners in his first three at-bats. Rodriguez, the Yankees’ Most Valuable Player front-runner, walked and scored to give New York a 1-0 lead in the first, but Boston promptly tied it. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the Boston first, stole second and scored when Ortiz singled for his major league-leading 147th RBI. Varitek homered to lead off the second, then Boston scored three more in the sixth to make it 5-1.

Damon singled and stole second and, one out later, Ortiz was intentionally walked — giving some words of encouragement to Manny Ramirez on deck. Ramirez singled, but too sharply for Damon to score, and the bases were loaded when Wang forced in a run by walking Trot Nixon. Varitek hit a grounder to first baseman Jason Giambi, whose throw home was in the dirt and everyone was safe. John Olerud hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Ramirez, then Giambi made a nice unassisted play on Bill Mueller’s hard grounder to end the inning.

Derek Jeter hit a two-run homer in the seventh, closing the Yankees within two runs. It’s the closest race between the longtime rivals since 1978, when Bucky Dent’s popup over the Green Monster won a one-game playoff and gave the division to the Yankees. They also faced each other in the AL championship series in 1999 and each of the last two years, with Boston finally breaking through in 2004 for its first World Series title since 1918. As if the series didn’t offer enough drama, Rodriguez and Ortiz entered as the AL’s two leading MVP candidates. The hometown crowd gives the edge to Big Papi and his penchant for game-saving hits — like the ones that tied and then won the game on Thursday night against Toronto.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 02:47 AM   
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Oil Trumps God?

Freedom of religion in the Kingdom Of Oil? Never happen as long as you keep driving those gas-guzzling SUV’s. All we need to do is wait until they sell all the oil over there to us and then we’ll turn around and sell them water .... provided they allow the Pope to visit ....

US Waives Sanctions on Saudis Over Religious Rights
WASHINGTON (Reuters)

The United States has postponed punishing Saudi Arabia, its close ally and key oil supplier, for restricting religious freedom—the first time Washington has waived punishing a blacklisted country under a 1998 law targeting violators of religious rights. U.S. officials said on Friday the Bush administration had decided to delay imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia for six months. The decision reflects the delicate balance the United States has sought to strike with Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia as it promotes expanding freedoms at the risk of irking governments needed to support its oil and terrorism policies.

In a rare official rebuke a year ago, Washington designated Saudi Arabia as one of only eight countries worldwide that could be sanctioned. The blacklisting in an annual report said religious freedom did not exist in the kingdom. With this year’s report due out next month, the Bush administration needed to decide on sanctioning Saudi Arabia and chose to give the kingdom a further six months to negotiate how it might improve its record. “We have not seen strong progress in the area of legal protection for religious freedom,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said. “(But) we welcome Saudi recognition of the need to make improvements and create a more tolerant society.”

With high oil prices affecting the U.S. economy and dragging on President George W. Bush’s popularity, Democrats have charged he has largely ignored Saudi Arabia’s rights record for fear of causing any backlash from the oil supplier. Prominent Saudis dismiss as politically motivated U.S. criticism of the country’s strict Wahhabi brand of Islam. In contrast to its decision on Saudi Arabia, the United States decided to sanction Eritrea by banning military exports to the Horn of Africa country, the officials said.

Vietnam, the third country added to the blacklist last year, has avoided sanctions after agreeing to improve its record, they added. The other countries the United States considers serious violators of religious freedom are North Korea, Myanmar, Sudan, Iran and China. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an agency established by Congress to promote religious freedom, has recommended this year that three allies should be added to the blacklist: Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 02:29 AM   
Filed Under: • Religion •  
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Kentucky Bats

Todays “All In The Family” moment is brought to you by horseshoe bats. Key quote: “… they smell out who their relatives are”. Oddly enough, that’s the same method used by Leftist anti-war protestors to keep track of each other ....

imageimageKinky Female Bats Share Mates With Their Mothers, Avoid Incest
(LIVE SCIENCE)

Female greater horseshoe bats like to keep it all in the family – they share mates with their mothers and even their grandmothers – but, somehow they avoid incest, a new study reports. “She won’t mate with her father. But she will mate with her mother’s partner – but only when her mother has switched partners,” said study leader Stephen Rossiter of the Queen Mary, University of London of the female bats. Although this behavior sounds strange – and leads to some very confusing family trees – Rossiter suggests that it evolved to tighten relationships within the colony.

“One possibility is that by increasing kinship, sharing sexual partners strengthens social ties and promotes greater levels of cooperation within the colony,” Rossiter said. In some cases a female and her maternal half-aunt were also half-sisters on their father’s side. It’s pretty confusing, but think of it like this: Female 1 mates with male 1, producing female 2. Later on, female 1 ditches male 1 and mates with male 2, producing female 3. Meanwhile, female 2 gets in on the action and also mates with male 2, producing female 3a. Females 3 and 3a are in related two ways now – female 3 is 3a’s half aunt on their maternal side, but they’re sisters on their dad’s side. And, since horseshoe bats have a life span of about 30 years, it only gets more complicated down the road.

This study was part of one of the world’s longest-running wild animal population studies. The researchers used genetic analysis techniques to draw up the family trees for over 450 bats in the attics of Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire, UK. This research is detailed in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Nature. For most of the year, female horseshoe bats live in a colony separate from the males, which generally live off on their own. The females raise the young together in a large group, presumably to keep warm and for safety reasons.

But once a year the females and males all get together for a wild mating season during which one male may be shared by several generations of females. So how did these bats start this kinky behavior? One answer could be that generations ago the female colony all made the trip to the same mating site. Once there, the females may have shared information with each other about which of the males were good mates. “The consequence is that the levels of relatedness increase dramatically in the colony,” Rossiter said. Somehow in all the confusion of hundreds of bats all trying to find a mate, the females manage to avoid mating with their fathers.

“We don’t actually know how, but we have some suspicions,” Rossiter said. “Presumably it’s through some sort of olfactory sense – they smell out who their relatives are.” Animals in the wild generally tend to avoid inbreeding, although researchers aren’t entirely sure they know how this works. One thing they do know is that incest can cause the expression of harmful genetic information. Each gene is made up of two alleles, which come in dominant and recessive versions. If an individual has a combination of the two versions, they’re heterozygous for this gene. If they have either two copies of the dominant, or two copies of the recessive, they’re homozygous for the gene.

If an individual is heterozygous, the dominant allele wins out and gets expressed. This is good for the individual if the recessive allele is harmful. Incest creates an increase of homozygous parings in a population, making it more likely that a harmful recessive-recessive could occur. “The expression of these harmful alleles can lead to lowered reproduction and survival, known as inbreeding depression,” Rossiter said.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 10/01/2005 at 02:07 AM   
Filed Under: • Science-Technology •  
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