Sunday, October 30, 2011

McIlroy wins Shanghai Masters in playoff

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses for photos with his trophy after winning the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses for photos with his trophy after winning the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Anthony Kim of the United State chips out of a bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Anthony Kim of the United State reacts after missing a putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament, with Anthony Kim of the United States in the back watching, in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. U.S. Open champion McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates with his caddie on the 18th green after winning the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters golf tournament in Shanghai, China, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. U.S. Open champion McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Anthony Kim of the US, with a par on the first hole of a playoff. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

SHANGHAI (AP) ? U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy won $2 million in the Shanghai Masters on Sunday, beating Anthony Kim with a par on the first hole of a playoff.

McIlroy holed a 2-foot putt for the victory after Kim missed a 3-footer.

McIlroy had a chance to win in regulation, but the 22-year-old star from Northern Ireland missed an 8-foot birdie putt. He closed with an even-par 72 to match Kim (69) at 18 under on Lake Malaren's Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters course.

"It's something that I feel like I can still get better at is winning and putting yourself in the position to win when you're not playing your best," McIlroy said.

"Even if it's scrappy golf where you grind it out, you're going to win a lot more tournaments by doing that rather than playing your best golf the whole week. I was very happy I was able to pull this one out."

The $2 million first prize is the richest in golf. The top players, staying in Shanghai another week for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International, also received appearance money and last place paid $25,000. Because the event isn't sanctioned by a major tour, there were no ranking points at stake.

Kim earned $750,000.

"It was an exciting final day and a tough finish for me personally," Kim said. "We had a lot fun out there today."

Hunter Mahan (70) and South Korea's Noh Seung-yul (73) tied for third at 13 under in the 30-man event. Second-ranked Lee Westwood aced the par-3 12th en route to a 67 that left him fifth at 12 under.

McIlroy gave up an early three-shot lead, then rallied from a stroke down on the back nine to force the playoff.

Both players drove into the bunker on the first extra hole, then blasted out to set up the deciding putts. The victory was McIlroy's first in three career playoffs.

McIlroy ran into trouble on the opening hole of the day when his ball hit the pin and bounced back into the fringe, leading to a bogey.

"I felt good standing on the first tee obviously with a three-shot lead," McIlroy said. "I thought my second shot was very good. It was just a little unfortunate to hit the pin and ricochet back off the green. To go from three ahead to one ahead after the first hole was obviously not the start I was looking for."

After McIlroy answered with a birdie on No. 7 to retake the lead, he hit his second shot into the water on the difficult par-4 ninth en route to a bogey. But Kim missed a 5-foot par putt to remain a stroke back at the turn.

McIlroy hit into the bunker on the 11th and three-putted for another bogey ? his third of the round ? to give Kim the sole lead.

After hitting into the bunker again and barely salvaging par on the 14th, McIlroy finally got a break on the 15th hole when he made a 5-footer for birdie and Kim missed from the same distance to even it.

McIlroy had a chance to take the lead on 17, but missed a birdie putt by less than inch. Then, on 18, he missed the putt that would have given him the victory.

Ian Poulter (72) was 11 under, Retief Goosen (68) and K.J. Choi (67) were another stroke back and Y.E. Yang (72), Padraig Harrington (72) and John Daly (71) were 6 under.

Associated Press


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HBT: Live blog on Game 4 of World Series

8:41: Eighth place hitter Mike Napoli. That sounds about right.

8:38: Good play by Ian Kinsler to catch up to a ground ball off the bat of Yadier Molina for the final out of the inning. At first it looked like Kinsler was going to eat it, but then he realized a Molina was running.

8:37: Holland goes to the insider corner again to get David Freese looking for the second out. Freese isn?t pleased with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.

8:34: Lance Berkman goes the opposite way for a double, the first hit of the evening for the Cardinals.

8:32:?Matt Holliday rung up on a fastball on the inside corner for the first out.

8:28: So much for that. Murphy put a charge in one, but Matt Holliday tracked it down near the warning track in left for the final out of the bottom of the first. It?s 1-0 Rangers as we move to the top of the second in Arlington.

8:27: Jackson walks Nelson Cruz to load the bases for David Murphy, who was moved up to seventh in the order tonight.

8:23: Adrian Beltre goes down swinging after being fooled badly on a slider. Runners on first and second with two away for Nelson Cruz.

8:21: Michael Young walks on four straight pitches. Just look at that classy stroll down to first base.

8:19: The Rangers strike first courtesy of an RBI double by Josh Hamilton. He turned around on a changeup from Edwin Jackson and yanked it into the right field corner. Andrus scampered home from first base.

8:17: Elvis Andrus singles to left for the first hit of the ballgame. Here comes the ailing Josh Hamilton.

8:15: Ian Kinsler breaks his bat on a groundout to begin the bottom of the first.

8:11: And Pujols is retired on a grounder to Elvis Andrus. It?s a 1-2-3 inning for Derek Holland to get us started.

8:10: Holland gets Allen Craig swinging for the second out. Oh boy, here comes Mr. Pujols.

8:08: Adrian Beltre snags a screaming liner off the bat of Furcal, robbing him of what was likely a leadoff double. One away.

8:07: And we?re off. Rafael Furcal fouls off the first pitch from Derek Holland.

8:03: Are we sure Zooey Deschanel can?t hang around and sing a few more tunes? Or just stand there for a while? Sigh. Anyway, first pitch is a minute or so away, so hang tight.

7:55 p.m. ET: The Cardinals hold a 2-1 advantage over the Rangers in the World Series going into Game 4 tonight in Arlington. We?ll have all the action covered in a live blog, beginning right around first-pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Here are tonight?s lineups and starting pitchers, as mentioned by Drew earlier this afternoon:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS             TEXAS RANGERS 1. Rafael Furcal, SS            1. Ian Kinsler, 2B 2. Allen Craig, RF              2. Elvis Andrus, SS 3. Albert Pujols, 1B            3. Josh Hamilton, CF 4. Matt Holliday, LF            4. Michael Young, DH 5. Lance Berkman, DH            5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 6. David Freese, 3B             6. Nelson Cruz, RF 7. Yadier Molina, C             7. David Murphy, LF 8. Jon Jay, CF                  8. Mike Napoli, C 9. Nick Punto, 2B               9. Mitch Moreland, 1B  SP Edwin Jackson, RHP           SP Derek Holland, LHP

Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section. Let?s do this.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GOP pitches transportation bill as jobs program (AP)

WASHINGTON ? House Republicans are pitching a six-year transportation construction plan as a major jobs bill that can win bipartisan approval before next year's election.

Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Monday the most significant obstacle to passing the bill was eliminated when GOP leaders recently agreed to keep spending on highway programs at current levels even though gas tax revenues are declining. The bill would serve as the House's major alternative to President Barack Obama's jobs plan.

Fuel taxes have historically been used to pay for transportation programs.

Mica said the bill would spend about $285 billion, but would spur far greater investment in roads, bridges, and transit systems through federal loans and loan guarantees.


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Big banks under pressure in Europe crisis (AP)

BRUSSELS ? Big banks found themselves under pressure in Europe's debt crisis Saturday, with finance chiefs pushing them to raise billions of euros in capital and accept huge losses on Greek bonds they hold.

The continent's biggest financial institutions were at the center of talks as leaders entered marathon negotiations in Brussels, at the end of which they have promised to present a comprehensive plan to take Europe out of its crippling debt crisis.

"Between now and Wednesday we have to find a solution, a structural solution, an ambitious solution and a definitive solution," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said as he arrived in Brussels. "There's no other choice."

In addition to new financing for Greece, leaders want to make the banking sector fit to sustain worsening market turmoil and turn their bailout fund into a strong safety net that will stop big economies like Italy and Spain from falling into the same debt trap that has already snapped Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

But before the final deadline on Wednesday, they have to overcome many obstacles.

On Saturday, the finance ministers of the 27-country European Union decided to force the bloc's biggest banks to substantially increase their capital buffers ? an important move to ensure that they are strong enough to withstand the panic that a steep cut to Greece's debt could trigger on financial markets.

A European official said the new capital rules would force banks to raise just over euro100 billion ($140 billion), but finance ministers did not provide details on their decision. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because it had been agreed to let leaders unveil the deal at their first summit Sunday.

"We have made real progress and have come to important decisions on strengthening European banks," George Osborne, the U.K.'s chancellor of the exchequer, said as he left Saturday's meeting.

The deal on banks was likely to be the only major breakthrough ready to announce on Sunday, leaving many important decisions and negotiations to be completed by Wednesday night.

On Friday, the first day of the marathon talks, the finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro ? and which have found themselves at the center of the crisis because of the currency they share ? agreed to demand Greece's private creditors take big losses on their bondholdings.

But they still have get the banks to come along and convince them that the cuts are the best way to ensure that Athens can eventually repay its remaining debts.

The picture in Greece, whose troubles kicked off the crisis almost two years ago, is bleaker than ever. A new report from Athens' international debt inspectors ? the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund ? proved that a preliminary deal for a second package of rescue loans reached in July is already obsolete.

That plan would have seen banks and other private investors take losses of some 21 percent on their Greek bond holdings, while the eurozone and the IMF were to provide an extra euro109 billion ($150 billion) in bailout loans.

But the report showed that in the past three months Greece's economic situation has deteriorated so dramatically that for the bank deal to remain in place, the official sector would have to provide some euro252 billion ($347 billion) in loans. Alternatively, to keep official loans at euro109 billion ($150 billion), banks would have to accept cuts of about 60 percent to the value of their Greek bonds.

"I believe we are now arriving at a more realistic view of the situation in Greece," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the country that has long been advocating a more radical solution to Athens' problems.

But Merkel and her eurozone counterpart were on for tough negotiations with the banks.

Charles Dallara, who has been representing private investors in the talks with the eurozone, said Saturday that negotiations that carried on sporadically throughout Saturday were making only slow progress.

"We're nowhere near a deal," he told The Associated Press in an interview.

Dallara, the managing director of the Institute of International Finance ? the world's biggest bank lobbying group ? said current plans to cut Greece's debt would leave the country as "a ward of Europe" for years.

He declined to say how much in losses banks would be willing to accept, saying only "we would be open to an approach that involves additional efforts from everyone."

The eurozone has been working hard to reach a voluntary agreement with banks, rather than forcing losses onto the lenders, because that could avoid triggering billions of euros on payout for bond insurance and could destabilize markets even further.

However, in recent weeks some officials have no longer insisted that the deal remain voluntary.

Agreement on arguably the most important measure in the crisis plan remained even more elusive Saturday: boosting the firepower of the currency union's euro440 billion ($600 billion) bailout.

Increasing the effectiveness of the fund ? called the European Financial Stability Facility ? is meant to help prevent larger economies like Italy and Spain from being dragged into the crisis. At the same time, the EFSF may be asked to help governments shore up their banks if they can't raise the necessary funds on financial markets.

But Germany and France still disagree over how to give the EFSF more firepower. France wants the fund to be allowed to tap the ECB's massive cash reserves ? an option that Germany rejects. Weaker economies, meanwhile, are wary of signing up to the other two parts of the grand plan ? bigger bank capital and cuts to Greece's debt ? without assurance that sufficient buffers are in place.


Sarah DiLorenzo, Elena Becatoros, Raf Casert and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this story.


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Dave Johnson: Is a Flat Tax Fair? (Huffington post)

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cowboys Top Rams 34-7: DeMarco Murray Gains 253 Yards, Sets Franchise Record

ARLINGTON, Texas ? The Dallas Cowboys finally broke their string of narrow finishes. All it took was giving the ball to rookie DeMarco Murray and letting him run over the Rams' shoddy defense.

In his first extended playing time, Murray ran for a franchise-record 253 yards, including an early 91-yard touchdown that got the Cowboys started toward a 34-7 victory on Sunday.

Murray ? a third-round pick bumped up in the rotation because of an injury to starter Felix Jones ? topped the best single-game performances by NFL rushing king Emmitt Smith and fellow Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. It's also the ninth highest total in NFL history, and the most rushing yards by anyone in the NFL this season.

Murray's TD was the second-longest in team history, topped only by an NFL-record 99-yarder by Dorsett in January 1983.

As impressive as Murray's performance was, it came against the Rams, who fell to 0-6 and came in with the NFL's worst defense against the run, allowing 163 yards per game. There were so many holes that when Murray went out with an injury, fourth-stringer Phillip Tanner finished that drive with 35 yards on four carries, including a 6-yard TD run.

For the local fans, it was a terrific start to a baseball-football doubleheader between teams from Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Louis. Game 4 of the World Series began just down the street less than an hour after this game ended. Josh Hamilton of the Rangers and Lance Berkman of the Cardinals showed up in uniform as honorary captains for the pregame coin toss.

Dallas (3-3) never trailed on its way to ending a two-game losing streak. This was the first non-nail-biter of the year, too, ending a streak of 11 straight games decided by four points or less. There also was no reason for team owner Jerry Jones to question coach Jason Garrett's play-calling ? except maybe asking why Murray hasn't gotten the ball more this season.

The 91-yard burst came on his first carry, on a drive that saw the Cowboys starting from their 2-yard line after Bryant decided to let a punt land and roll toward the end zone.

Murray went through a giant hole opened in part by new starting left guard Montrae Holland, who was unemployed until signing Tuesday, cut through an attempted ankle tackle, then outran a defensive back. It was a heck of a way to score the first touchdown of his career, and it more than doubled his career rushing total of 71 coming into the game.

In the fourth quarter, Murray might've had a 70-yard TD, but fell down after 43 because of what appeared to be an injury. His form was off and he went down on his own. Still, that was the run that pushed him past Smith's record of 237 set Oct. 31, 1993, at Philadelphia.

He finished with 25 carries and an average of 10.1 yards. Dallas ran for 294 yards overall, which will spike a season average of 84.8 that had been among the league's worst.

The Rams were the perfect foe for the Cowboys to cure all that ailed them. In addition to their trouble stopping the run, they were without quarterback Sam Bradford and were averaging the fewest points in the league even with him.

A.J. Feeley made his first start since 2007 and was 20 of 33 for 196 yards with one interception and one sack. But the offense gained only 4 yards in the third quarter, and had only one two good drives. The first ended in a 6-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson that got St. Louis within 14-7. The other ended with a fourth-and-goal from the 1 that was stuffed in the final minutes.

Jackson finished with 70 yards, 46 coming on the touchdown drive.

Brandon Lloyd caught six passes for 74 yards in his St. Louis debut. He was acquired from Denver earlier this week.

St. Louis also saw right tackle Jason Smith and backup defensive tackle Darell Scott carted off with head injuries.

Dallas' Tony Romo was 14 of 24 for 166 yards, with two touchdowns. He didn't have to throw much because the running game was doing so well. However, he hit receiver Dez Bryant for four passes and a touchdown in the second half, which was significant because they'd hooked up for only two passes after halftime all season. His other TD throw went to tight end Jason Witten.

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Afghanistan to back Pakistan if wars with U.S.: Karzai (Reuters)

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) ? Afghanistan would support Pakistan in case of military conflict between Pakistan and the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an interview to a private Pakistani TV channel broadcast on Saturday.

The remarks were in sharp contrast to recent tension between the two neighbors over cross-border raids, and Afghan accusations that Pakistan was involved in killing the chief Afghan peace envoy, former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, by a suicide bomber on September 20.

"God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan," he said in the interview to Geo television.

"If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."

Such a situation is extremely unlikely, however. Despite months of tension and tough talk between Washington and Islamabad, the two allies appear to be working to ease tension.

In a two-day visit to Islamabad, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued stern warnings and asked for more cooperation in winding down the war in Afghanistan, but ruled out "boots on the ground" in North Waziristan, where Washington has been pushing Pakistan to tackle the Haqqani network.

The Haqqani are a group of militants Washington has blamed for a series of attacks in Afghanistan, using sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border.

Pakistan is seen as a critical to the U.S. drive to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

Pressure on Islamabad has been mounting since U.S. special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in May in a Pakistani garrison town, where he apparently had been living for years.

The secret bin Laden raid was the biggest blow to U.S.-Pakistan relations since Islamabad joined the U.S. "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Karzai said tensions between the United States and Pakistan did not have any impact in his country's attitude toward Pakistan.

The TV channel, Geo, did not say when the interview was conducted.

Afghans have long been suspicious of Pakistan's intentions in their country and question its promise to help bring peace. Karzai repeated that concern in his remarks.

"Please brother, stop using all methods that hurt us and that are now hurting you.

"Let's engage from a different platform, a platform in which the two brothers only progress toward a better future in peace and harmony," he said.

Following the death of Rabbani, Karzai said he would cease attempting to reach out to the Afghan Taliban and instead negotiate directly with Pakistan, saying its military and intelligence services could influence the militants to make peace.

(Reporting by Augustine Anthony; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Michael Roddy)


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Price predictions for Black Friday TV shoppers


Vizio's 55-inch "Razor" LED LCD could be among the models that see the heaviest discounts this holiday shopping season.

By Gary Merson
HD Guru?

This year continues to be slow for TV sales. Not only do economic conditions remain sour, but the roll-out of 3-D technology has been poor ??lacking necessary programming ??and so-called "smart TVs" have been marketed confusingly, or in some cases not demonstrated at all. This has led to high inventory levels. The holiday season is the last chance for retailers and set makers to improve their fiscal year.

HD Guru consulted industry contacts, surveyed the best current deals and analyzed pricing trends to come up with our Black Friday price predictions. Come Nov. 25, the biggest shopping day of the year, these are the costs of models ??grouped by size, features and brand reputation ??that you're likely to see.

If you're thinking about buy a TV anytime soon, consult this list first, so you don't unwittingly pay too much.

This year all sizes are affected. The glut of sets has already produced the lowest prices of the year and we know the holidays will mean "loss-leader" models that stores can offer in outstanding deals. In fact, the areas where we'll see the greatest price drops are in the category of TVs measuring 55 inches and above.

That segment is more competitive than ever, with more new models from brands you probably never heard of?(what we're calling "no name"). The no-name models?exert downward price pressure from the market leaders. Add in the competitively priced Vizio?s recent drop in market position, along with their own leftover 2010 models, and you have a perfect recipe for crazy closeouts.

As in recent years, the online e-tailers will be leading the charge with the hottest deals and will follow Black Friday TV deals with Cyber Monday specials.

For those of you considering a Vizio or a no-name TV, please read our disposable TV article, where we make the case for?purchasing an extended warranty.

Now, on to our predictions:

Smallest LCDs

  • 32-in. 720p no name LCD - $169
  • 32-in. 720p brand name LCD - $249

Mid-size LCD and plasma

  • 40-in. 720p no name LCD?- $288
  • 42-in. 720p?brand name Plasma - $399
  • 42-in. 720p brand name?3-D Plasma - $529
  • 40-in. 1080p?no name LCD - $339
  • 40-in. 1080p?brand name 3-D LED LCD - $689
  • 46-in. to 47-in. 1080p?no name LCD ?$399
  • 46-in. to 47-in. 1080p?brand name?LCD - $499
  • 46-in. to 47-in. 1080p?brand name LED LCD - $599
  • 50-in. 720p brand name plasma $539
  • 50-in. 1080p brand name plasma $639

Large LCD and plasma

  • 55-in. 1080p no name LCD - $639
  • 55-in. 1080p brand name?3-D LCD - $799
  • 60-in. 1080p brand name LED LCD - $1099
  • 60-in. 1080p brand name plasma - $999
  • 60-in. 1080p brand name?3-D plasma - $1099
  • 70-in. 1080p brand name LED LCD - $2399

Have a question for HD Guru? Send an email.

More stories from HD Guru:


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

In need of THREE characters!

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Soyuz rocket places satellites into orbit

KOUROU, French Guiana | Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:59pm EDT

KOUROU, French Guiana (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully blasted off from French Guiana on Friday bearing the first two satellites in Europe's Galileo global positioning system, a much-heralded mission that will redraw commercial competition in space.

The launch from Europe's space base in South America was the first time that Soyuz, which first flew in 1966 and traces its roots back to the earliest Cold War intercontinental ballistic missiles, has taken off from outside its old Soviet Union bases.

The rocket lifted off at 7:30 am local time from the base near Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America, and the Galileo satellites separated four hours later. Heavy rain had no impact on the operation.

"A new chapter has started in Europe's history," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace chief executive.

The culmination of more than a decade of planning, the launch had to be delayed by 24 hours from Thursday after a leaky valve was detected in the rocket's fuelling system.

The EU commissioner in charge of industry and space policy, Antonio Tajani, said a new tender would be announced on Friday for six or eight satellites of the Galileo group.

He added that the commission wanted to reduce Galileo's costs by 500 million euros ($695 million).

Once fully operational later this decade, the Galileo system aims to give Europeans autonomy from the U.S. government-controlled Global Positioning System. Russia says it recently completed its own similar system.

Rather than build a new rocket from scratch, Europe decided to build a 467 million euro launch pad for Soyuz in the French Guiana base where it already launches its Ariane rocket family.

France has covered more than 80 percent of the construction costs and all of the 70 million euro cost overruns.

In return, the Russian State Space Agency (Roscomos) will receive tens of millions of euros for each rocket that is built and shipped from its Samara Space Center. "Soyuz will give us a complete range of launchers," Le Gall told Reuters.

Arianespace plans to launch at least two Soyuz rockets a year from now on in addition to its Ariane-5 heavy-lift launcher, and the rocket series will be completed by a smaller vehicle, Vega, slated for launch next year.

Contracts for 16 Galileo satellites have already been signed: four with Franco-German maker Astrium and 12 with German company OHB. The Galileo line should have 30 satellites by 2020.

"I will announce a new tender for the construction of six or eight satellites," Tajani told reporters at the Kourou spaceport. "The signature of the new contract is planned in February."

Arianespace is principally owned by the French Space Agency (CNES) with 34 percent and Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of European aerospace giant EADS, holding 30 percent.

Friday's launch follows years of discussions, delays and budget disputes over Galileo since France and Russia agreed in 2003 to co-operate on Soyuz launches.

"Soyuz is only the beginning of a cooperation that will go much further," said Russia's deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov. ($1 = 0.720 Euros)

(Additional reporting by Alexander Miles; Editing by Roger Atwood)


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Unvaccinated Kids Behind Largest U.S. Measles Outbreak in Years: Study (HealthDay)

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The largest U.S. outbreak of measles to occur in 15 years -- affecting 214 children so far -- is likely driven by travelers returning from abroad and by too many unvaccinated U.S. children, according to new research.

The finding could highlight the dangers of a trend among some U.S. parents to skip the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children, out of what many experts call misguided fears over its safety.

Dr. Andrew Pavia, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), said, "The good news is that we are seeing introductions of measles that are being contained as small outbreaks."

Pavia credits containment to high levels of vaccination and the rapid response by public health officials. However, if an outbreak occurred in a "really susceptible population the outcome could be very different," he said.

"What would happen in an area with a lot of vaccine refusers? Then you might see a much larger outbreak," he said.

Several measles-related studies were unveiled at the annual IDSA annual meeting, currently being held in Boston.

In the first report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers chronicled the nation's ongoing outbreaks in 2011.

Most of those sickened were not vaccinated against the disease, CDC researchers said.

Before the vaccine became available in the 1960s, some three to four million people contracted measles every year. Of those, 48,000 were hospitalized, 1,000 were permanently disabled and about 500 died, the CDC said.

Unfortunately, "we have experienced an increased incidence of measles this year," said Huong McLean, lead researcher and CDC epidemiologist. "Typically we see 60 to 70 cases a year, this year we have 214 as of Oct. 14."

Among those people infected, 86 percent were unvaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown. Thirteen percent were under one year old -- too young for vaccination.

Throughout the United States, 68 of the patients have been hospitalized, 12 with pneumonia.

Most of these cases occurred among people who traveled overseas to Western Europe, Africa or Asia, where vaccination rates are lower, and the disease is an ongoing problem, the researchers note.

McLean said that the vaccination coverage in the United states remains relatively high, about 90 percent. "However, measles is very contagious and can spread quickly in communities where people aren't vaccinated," she said.

"The vaccine is very safe and effective in preventing the disease," McLean said. The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles), is designed to be given to infants 12 to 15 months old with a second shot given when the child is four to six, according to the CDC.

The Minnesota Department of Health released figures on a state outbreak, which started in March with an unvaccinated child, aged two and a half , who had traveled to Kenya. The child attended a drop-in Minnesota child care center. Overall, 21 people were infected and 14 hospitalized.

"Health care providers together with public health and community leaders must address growing vaccine hesitancy to ensure high immunization rates in all communities," Pam Gahr, a senior health department epidemiologist, said in an IDSA news release.

Not only is measles highly contagious, it's also expensive to contain its spread, according a third meeting presentation.

Dr. Karyn Leniek, deputy state epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health, said an outbreak occurred when one unvaccinated high school student, who had been to Europe, brought measles back with him.

Although only nine people became infected, the cost of containing the outbreak was about $300,000. Costs included infection control in two area hospitals and intervention by local and state health departments. Costs also included physician and staff time, vaccines, immunoglobulin and blood tests, according to the study.

Containing the outbreak meant contacting 12,000 people about possible exposure and quarantining 184 people, including 51 students. Of the teens not vaccinated, including the European traveler, six were unvaccinated due to personal exemptions.

"Personal exemptions include philosophical or any other unspecified non-medical exemption," the researchers noted.

"It is always a concern to have a large number of unvaccinated people in close proximity," Leniek said in an IDSA statement. "Our goal is to have as many people vaccinated as possible to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine and who are not fully immunized."

Another Thursday presentation centered on a large measles outbreak in Quebec, Canada: the largest since 1989, with 757 cases as of October 5.

That outbreak started with 18 people who traveled abroad, most to Europe. Among those infected, 505 had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was not known, and 70 had received only one doses of the vaccine, according to the report.

"This outbreak is being fed largely on unvaccinated or undervaccinated people, but we were concerned that a significant number had received the recommended two doses of MMR vaccine," Philippe Belanger, an epidemiologist at Ministere de la Sant? et des Services Sociaux du Quebec, Montreal, said in the releases.

To keep measles at bay, Pavia said public health officials should be on the outlook for measles and the high level of vaccination needs to be maintained.

"The ongoing fear of the measles vaccine and the myths about measles vaccine and autism just won't go away -- and put us at continuous risk," Pavia said. One such myth, according to most experts, is that the shot might cause autism in children. That notion spread after a British researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, published a study in The Lancet in 1998 claiming a link. The research was later discovered to be fraudulent, however, and the journal has since retracted the article.

Pavia stressed that when parents decide against vaccinating their child, their action may affect other kids, as well.

"Your child might get measles and do well. But if you are the one who brings measles back into the community and your child infects someone else in the classroom who can't be vaccinated because of being immunocompromised, you might be responsible for the death of another child or an infant who can't be vaccinated," he said.

More information

For more information on measles, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


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Next BoSox GM likely to be Epstein aide Cherington

(AP) ? Ben Cherington will have plenty to do if, as expected, he follows Theo Epstein as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox.

He'll also have plenty to work with.

Cherington is expected to be promoted on Tuesday, when the Red Sox have scheduled a news conference to introduce Epstein's replacement. Epstein resigned from Boston to take over as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs on Friday, and the teams said they would hold off on more announcements out of respect for the teams in the World Series; Tuesday is the next off-day.

Cherington's first job will be to find a manager to replace Terry Francona, a two-time World Series winner who admitted he lost the clubhouse in his eighth season and was let go after the team's unprecedented September collapse. The coaching staff also will need to be rebuilt as pitching coach Curt Young left for the Oakland Athletics earlier Friday.

Cherington also will have to deal with the fallout from the team's 7-20 September that left it one game short of the playoffs. The pitching staff disintegrated over the final month, followed by news reports that several starters were drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

Among them was John Lackey, who was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million deal. The Red Sox are unlikely to find a taker unless they eat most of Lackey's remaining salary. Cherington also will be saddled with six more years of Carl Crawford's contract, a seven-year, $142 million deal signed by Epstein.

But the Red Sox have reason to be hopeful with the core of the team that went 81-43 over a 4?-month stretch of the season and a payroll that is among the biggest in baseball. All-Star Adrian Gonzalez just finished the first year of a seven-year, $154 million deal, Jacoby Ellsbury developed into an MVP candidate, and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis are locked up long term.

Josh Beckett was an ace for most of the year and Jon Lester remains one of the top lefties in the AL, but their performance in September was a key reason for the collapse. Clay Buchholz is expected to return from a stress fracture.

J.D. Drew's contract is up, giving the Red Sox some payroll flexibility, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is at the end of the six-year deal that brought him over from Japan for a total of $103 million.

They'll need the money to re-sign closer Jonathan Papelbon, who can file for free agency for the first time, and for designated hitter David Ortiz, who's also a free agent.

Because Epstein's move was in the works for a while, Cherington has been filling in as GM since the regular season ended.

Cherington also served as co-GM during the three-month period after the 2005 season when Epstein walked away from the Red Sox. He shared the job with Jed Hoyer. Now the San Diego Padres' GM, Hoyer is expected to be Epstein's top hire with the Cubs.

Because the teams were unable to agree to compensation for allowing Epstein out of the last year of his contract, Hoyer and Cherington will probably have to work on that, too.

Associated Press


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New book chronicles Madoff son's demise

In this undated photograph provided by Security Traders Association of New York, Mark Madoff is shown. Madoff, one of Bernard Madoff's sons, was found dead of an apparent suicide Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. A book by Stephanie Madoff Mack, Mark Madoff's widow, "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life," goes on sale, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Security Traders Association of New York, Kimberly Unger) NO SALES

In this undated photograph provided by Security Traders Association of New York, Mark Madoff is shown. Madoff, one of Bernard Madoff's sons, was found dead of an apparent suicide Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. A book by Stephanie Madoff Mack, Mark Madoff's widow, "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life," goes on sale, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Security Traders Association of New York, Kimberly Unger) NO SALES

In this Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009 file photo, Bernard L. Madoff, the accused mastermind of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, leaves Federal Court in New York. A book by Stephanie Madoff Mack, Madoff?s daughter-in-law, ?The End of Normal: A Wife?s Anguish, A Widow?s New Life? goes on sale Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson, file)

In this April 6, 2009 file photo, Ruth Madoff is escorted by private security as she leaves the Metropolitan Correctional Center after visiting her husband, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP) ? The son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff swallowed a batch of sleeping pills in a failed suicide attempt 14 months before he killed himself on the second anniversary of his father's arrest in the biggest financial fraud in American history, according to a new book by his widow.

"The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life" gives an intimate account of Mark Madoff's two years of torment over the infamous swindle that wiped out thousands of his investors and ? by his wife's account ? left him a man broken beyond repair. The book vilifies her father-in-law "Bernie" while calling her husband an innocent bystander and "hero" for turning him in.

"There are people who never knew Mark Madoff, yet who gleefully point to his suicide as proof that he must have known of or participated in his father's epic crime," Stephanie Madoff Mack writes in the book that went on sale Thursday. "Nothing could be further from the truth. His death was proof of his pain."

Stephanie Madoff says she took the name Mack to try to deflect fallout from the scandal.

"I wish I could have changed my birthday as well," she writes. "I share the date with Bernie."

Elsewhere in the book, she writes, "I hated Bernie thoroughly and deeply from the instant Mark told me what he had done."

The elder Madoff, 73, was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008 ? the morning after his two sons notified authorities through an attorney that he had confessed to them that his investment business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The following year, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges and was given a 150-year prison term.

The former Nasdaq chairman has always insisted that his family was in the dark, and Mark Madoff, his brother and uncle ? all executives for a broker-dealer operating under the same roof as the crooked private investment firm ? have never been charged. But they have come under intense scrutiny by the FBI and by a bank-appointed trustee seeking to recover funds for burned clients.

Before his death, Mark Madoff became increasingly isolated and obsessive about news coverage of the runaway scandal, his wife says. Two weeks after watching a "60 Minutes" segment on the case, he briefly vanished.

He surfaced in a fog at home several hours later. She says he told her he had just woken up after taking 30 sleeping pills inside a hotel room where he left a suicide note reading: "Bernie: Now you know how you have destroyed the lives of your sons by your life of deceit."

When Madoff appeared to stabilize after a hospital stay, she decided to take their daughter to Disney World, she writes. He stayed at home to care for their young son Nick in their Manhattan apartment.

Once away, the couple stayed in touch with a series of texts included in the book. She panicked when she read one with the subject line "Help" and the message, "Please send someone to take care of Nick."

Her stepfather discovered the body hanging from a dog leash the victim had fashioned into a noose.

Madoff "had never known anything but privilege," his widow writes, "and he lacked the basic tools to cope with any adversity, much less a monumental one."

There was no response to a message left with Bernard Madoff's attorney.

Associated Press


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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday High

Friday High

Orlando Bloom Hates Underwear?–Girls Talkin Smack President Obama to Appear on Late Night TV–Tonic Gossip Ashton Kutcher Plays Ladies’ Man in Commercial–Bitten & Bound Scotty [...]

Friday High Stupid Celebrities Gossip Stupid Celebrities Gossip News


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Cinematographer Denny Hall dies on location (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES ( ? Cinematographer Denny Hall, who had worked on TV productions since the late 1980s, died Thursday morning in New Orleans, after suffering a heart attack while on location for the upcoming USA Network drama "Common Law."

Hall experienced chest pains while in his hotel room, and an operator called paramedics, who were unable to revive him. A USA representative confirms his death to TheWrap. The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The 54-year-old member of the International Cinematographers Guild began his Hollywood career as a camera operator on shows like "Diagnosis Murder" and "Beverly Hills 90210."

In the last decade he had worked as the director of photography on "Bones," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "Big Shots," "Eli Stone," "The Cleaner," "Eastwick," "Burn Notice" and "The Lying Game."

"Common Law," which was ordered to series in July by USA, stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as police partners who bicker, and are sent by their boss to couples therapy.


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Tiny US phone company is getting iPhone (AP)

NEW YORK ? Apple Inc. said Tuesday that C Spire Wireless, the country's eighth-largest phone company, will start selling the iPhone 4S in a few weeks.

That's a major coup for the small company, which provides service in Mississippi and surrounding states. So far, only the three biggest carriers sell the iPhone in the U.S. C Spire is bypassing the rest, including T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular, in getting the right to sell it.

Neither C Spire, which was known as Cellular South until a month ago, nor Apple explained why C Spire was getting the phone rather than the No. 4 carrier, T-Mobile.

Analyst Jan Dawson of Ovum found the announcement puzzling.

"Leapfrogging T-Mobile certainly feels like a slap in the face, and you could argue that there are others that should have come first," he said.

The iPhone 4S isn't compatible with T-Mobile USA's high-speed wireless data network, so Apple would have to change its design or make a version specific to T-Mobile. But Dawson believes that's a minor hurdle to overcome. The iPhone 4 exists in two versions for different networks already. Chicago-based U.S. Cellular Corp.'s network is compatible with one of them, but it isn't selling the phone.

Sprint Nextel Corp. began selling the iPhone last week. AT&T Inc. had it exclusively for more than three years, until Verizon Wireless started selling it in February.

Verizon, the largest carrier, has more than 100 million phones and other devices on its network, which compares to 1 million at C Spire. While it's tiny in comparison to other U.S. carriers, there are several overseas iPhone carriers that have fewer subscribers.

Hu Meena, the CEO of C Spire, testified in Washington in 2009 that small companies like his were denied access to the most attractive phones, as those were tied up with exclusive arrangements with the larger carriers.

C Spire, which is based in Ridgeland, Miss., has subscribers in Mississippi as well as the Memphis, Tenn., Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. areas.


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Friday, October 21, 2011

President Obama to visit "Tonight Show" next week (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES ( ? President Obama's next West Coast trip will include a stop at "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on October 25, NBC has announced.

Obama, traveling to raise money for his re-election bid and to try to gain more support for his jobs bill, will make his fourth appearance on Leno's show, and the second since he became president.

He first appeared on the show in 2006 and again in 2007, and then became the first sitting president to appear on "The Tonight Show" with his March 19, 2009 visit.


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Fla. Bar shares more details on Baez complaints (AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. ? A Florida Bar spokeswoman says two complaints pending against attorney Jose Baez both relate to his role as lead counsel during Casey Anthony's murder trial.

Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker confirmed Tuesday that one of the complaints relates to Baez failing to turn over information to prosecutors during pretrial discovery before Anthony was tried for her 2-year-old daughter's slaying. She was acquitted.

Another is related to Baez not informing the court that Anthony was serving a year of probation for a check fraud conviction while in jail awaiting the start of her murder case. Judge Belvin Perry chastised Baez in an August order to have Anthony serve a year of traditional probation.

In an email to The Associated Press, Baez reiterated a previous statement that the complaints have no merit.


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Bullpens taking center stage this World Series (AP)

ST. LOUIS ? Mike Adams has already fielded plenty of phone calls this week, usually friends or family members wishing the Rangers reliever luck against the Cardinals in the World Series.

The boldest of them even try to score tickets to Game 1.

Adams admits that he doesn't have much experience handling all the fanfare ? this is his first playoff trip in seven big league seasons. But he certainly knows how to answer the phone.

The one in the bullpen has been ringing nonstop.

Yes, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are the homer-hitting stars. C.J. Wilson and Chris Carpenter are the staff aces in the spotlight Wednesday night. But it's the guys in the bullpens, the ones who have been called on so often to bail out Texas and St. Louis in their march through the playoffs, who could ultimately decide who wins this World Series.

"How many championships do you find where the bullpen is going to be critical to the outcome?" Adams asked, genuinely seeking an answer. "Not many."

No kidding.

Texas starters are lugging around a 5.62 ERA in the playoffs. Wilson has been hammered in each of his three starts. Yet those guys out in the bullpen have jogged in every time manager Ron Washington has dialed their number and promptly pitched out of trouble.

In knocking off the Detroit Tigers to win the AL pennant, Texas became the second team since best-of-seven series were introduced to have relievers earn all four wins. The Cardinals joined the club the very next day when they beat the Milwaukee Brewers to punch their World Series ticket.

Tony La Russa called on his bullpen 28 times in the NL championship series, and St. Louis became the first team to win a postseason series without a starter reaching the sixth inning.

"That's the thing about Tony, he's not afraid of pitching anybody in any situation," said left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. "When that phone rings, we're all ready."

It's no surprise relief pitching has been such a focus this postseason.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels learned the importance of it last year, when he watched his relief corps collapse in the World Series. They were pounded for three runs in the eighth inning of Game 1 against San Francisco, allowed seven runs in the eighth inning in Game 2, and gave up two more runs in the last three innings of Game 4.

The Giants bullpen, by comparison, allowed three runs total over five games.

So, Daniels traded for Adams and fellow right-hander Koji Uehara just before the July 31 deadline, and added left-hander Michael Gonzalez from Baltimore at the end of August.

Uehara has struggled in the postseason, but Adams has been excellent, and all Gonzalez did in the AL championship series against Detroit was allow one run over 7 2-3 innings. He wound up earning two wins, becoming only the fifth reliever to accomplish that in an ALCS.

"You know, it was obvious that we had some weakness in the bullpen as the season started and progressed until the trading deadline," Washington said, "and then it got us two pieces to help settle down the bullpen, and put people in position where they always knew where they would pitch when an opportunity presented itself in a ballgame. And from that point on, we began playing the type of game we knew we were capable of playing."

If those late acquisitions were the turning point for the Rangers bullpen, the Cardinals' success can be traced to an Aug. 24 team meeting.

St. Louis was floundering back then, well out of playoff contention, when it gathered behind closed doors and decided to start playing every game like it was a one-game playoff. That meant using the bullpen as much as necessary, whenever necessary, even at the risk of burning it out.

Not even a baseball lifer such as La Russa could imagine how they would respond.

The bullpen was responsible for just six losses from Aug. 1 on, five coming in extra innings. St. Louis put together the NL's best record over the final month of the season as it chased down Atlanta in a dramatic wild-card race, with only three losses credited to all its relief pitchers.

The Cardinals' starters are averaging about five innings per postseason outing, roughly the same as their Texas counterparts, which means La Russa has been on the phone just as much as Washington.

"That's the thing that I'll probably remember the most about this season," La Russa said. "It's the most interesting story on our team, except for the heart we showed coming back, as to how much of a weapon the bullpen has become."

Especially considering where it came from.

The Cardinals blew the second-most saves in the majors this year, but most of those came with a vastly different set of guys. Nobody seemed able to nail down the ninth inning early in the year, and it took a while for everyone to finally grow comfortable in their roles.

That includes Jason Motte, who has grown nicely into the closer job. He has a 1.47 ERA since the All-Star break, and just four of the 32 runners he's inherited this season have scored.

"It doesn't matter what inning it is, we go out there and do our job," Motte said. "The last month and a half of the season, we've had to win. And we went out there with the attitude, not to freak out, not to tense out. And it's worked."


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Jon Huntsman will boycott the GOP debate tonight

The GOP debate is in Las Vegas tonight. Jon Huntsman and other Republican candidates are worried that the Nevada caucuses will upstage the New Hampshire primary in January.

Tired of waiting for New Hampshire to make a decision, the Iowa Republican Party has gone ahead and set a date: The 2012 Iowa GOP caucuses will be held on January 3.

Skip to next paragraph

That leaves open the possibility (unlikely as we believe it to be) that New Hampshire could actually usurp Iowa?s customary first-in-the-nation status.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has been threatening to set a mid-December date for the New Hampshire primary ever since Nevada moved its caucuses up to January 14. (Nevada, for its part, moved after Florida moved its date up to January 31, which then prompted South Carolina to reschedule its primary for January 28. Got all that?)

Here?s why. With Iowa?s caucuses now officially scheduled (as expected) for January 3, New Hampshire would have to hold its primary just one week later on January 10, only to be abruptly followed just four days after that by Nevada. New Hampshirites apparently feel that this might rob the Granite State of some of its stand-alone importance - and so the state is threatening to upend the whole process and move its primary to mid-December.

In a massive show of sucking up support for New Hampshire, several GOP candidates - Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain - have threatened to boycott the Nevada caucuses if the state doesn?t change its date. Huntsman and Santorum went so far as to pull out of tonight?s CNN debate, held in Las Vegas. (Of course, none of these candidates are believed to have much of a shot in Nevada, anyway.) And New Hampshire Republicans are pressuring Mitt Romney - who has a lead in the Silver State, which he won in 2008 and which is home to a sizeable Mormon population - to boycott Nevada as well. So far Romney has resisted.

But even if Nevada stays put, we are skeptical about the likelihood that New Hampshire will really follow through on its pre-Christmas-voting threat. For one thing, there?s big money at stake. Every four years, when thousands of reporters, campaign staffers, and other related parties descend on tiny places like Nashua, N.H., they bring a flood of cash to local businesses - from hotels to restaurants to gas stations. Why would the state want to deny itself a few extra weeks of good revenue?

Plus, there?s the fact that this happens every electoral cycle. Seriously - even as we write this post, we can hear the strains of ?I?ve got you, babe,? since we?re pretty sure we wrote something exactly like this four and even eight years ago. (How, exactly, is this different from 2008 - when, after a comparable amount of moving dates and one-upmanship, the Iowa caucuses were eventually held on January 3, the New Hampshire primary on January 8, the Michigan primary on January 15, Nevada and South Carolina on January 19, Hawaii on January 25, and Florida on January 29?)

Calendar chaos has become a standard feature of the election process - and while there?s always plenty of hand-wringing and lamenting about the downsides of a frontloaded process, no one has figured out a way to change it.

Want to get involved?

  • If you don't live in one of the early-voting states, but do live within driving distance of one - particularly Iowa or New Hampshire - consider a weekend road trip. Plenty of out-of-staters do this, as we?ve discovered over the years. With some planning, you can usually manage to hit a couple different town hall/meet-and-greet type events over the course of a day or two (candidates usually post their schedules on their websites). There?s no better way to get an authentic feel for what the candidates are really like.

Like your politics unscrambled - with a side of good humor? Check out


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Okla. judge blocks abortion law from taking effect (AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY ? An Oklahoma judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked from taking effect a new law designed to reduce the number of abortions performed in the state by restricting the ways in which doctors can treat women with abortion-inducing drugs.

Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens issued the ruling after a conference call with attorneys for both sides.

The temporary injunction prevents the bill from going into effect on Nov. 1. Passed earlier this year by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin, the measure requires doctors to follow the strict guidelines and protocols authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and prohibits off-label uses of the drugs. It also requires doctors to examine the women, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.

Opponents of the measure say the off-label use of drugs ? such as changing a recommended dosage or prescribing it for different symptoms than the drug was initially approved for ? is common, and that the measure would prevent doctors from using their best medical judgment.

"We're thrilled that women in Oklahoma will continue to be able to access medical care that accounts for scientific evidence, sound medical judgment and advancements in medicine," said Michelle Movahed, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, a Tulsa-based abortion provider, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a nonprofit abortion-rights group.

Similar laws approved in North Dakota and Ohio have been delayed pending legal challenges, Movahed said. The North Dakota lawsuit says that state's law would prevent doctors from using the drug misoprostol because it's labeled for treatment of stomach ulcers. It's one of two drugs that are administered in combination to induce abortions.

Attorneys for Oklahoma contend that the drugs are dangerous and should be used only in strict accordance with FDA guidelines.

"To date, at least eight American women have died from mifepristone abortions," Assistant Attorney General Victoria Tindall wrote in the state's response to the center's lawsuit. "The dangerous risks of mifepristone demand strict adherence to the FDA-approved protocol."

Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement that the judge's decision "is unfortunate for the state and our public health, but it is not a surprise with new legislative provisions being tested."

Movahed said as many as 21 percent of all drugs are prescribed for off-label use. In the case of drug-induced abortions, she said a common regimen is to use one-third of the FDA-recommended amount of the abortion drug mifepristone in conjunction with misoprostol, which has been determined to be effective for a variety of other purposes than gastric ulcers. She said in the decade since the mifepristone FDA label was approved, numerous studies have shown the combination is safer and more effective.

"The evidence supporting these alternative regimens are of such high quality that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists gave these alternative regiments their highest possible recommendation," Movahed said.

Movahed also disputed the state's assertion that abortion drugs caused the deaths of women.

"Those cases were investigated by both the FDA and the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and there was absolutely no causal relationship found between those unfortunate deaths and the medications that had been used," she said.

The author of the Oklahoma measure, Republican Rep. Randy Grau of Edmond, said he was disappointed with the judge's decision.

"It's the wrong decision. It's one that I think puts Oklahomans at risk," Grau said. "This bill is about patient protection and safety, and the judge has put a stop to those protective measures that the Legislature overwhelmingly supported.

"If they believe the FDA protocol needs to be changed, then go to the FDA and get it changed."

Oklahoma also passed a law last year that would require women seeking abortions to first have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus. The Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging that law as well, and it also has been temporarily suspended while the case is ongoing.

"What we see is a Legislature that has time and again said that they want to score political points off of a very difficult and emotionally charged issue," said Ryan Kiesel, a former state lawmaker and now the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "And they're willing to do so at the expense of women's health and at the expense of taxpayers, who are on the hook to fund the defense of these pieces of legislation."


Sean Murphy can be reached at


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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Raiders acquire Carson Palmer from Bengals (AP)

ALAMEDA, Calif. ? Carson Palmer went to bed a retired football player resigned to the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals would never grant his wish to be traded.

He woke up to a text message early Tuesday morning telling him to fly to Oakland to complete a trade with the Raiders, who are counting on Palmer to replace the injured Jason Campbell and lead the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

"It's been a whirlwind," Palmer said. "I understand what's expected of me. I know what playing quarterback is about, and it's about winning. I want to come in a contribute and do whatever I can to help this team."

The Raiders are hoping he can do a lot, having traded a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional second-rounder in 2013 that can become another first if Oakland makes it to the AFC title game in either of the next two years.

Coach Hue Jackson believes Palmer is the ideal fit, having recruited and coached him at Southern California and been an assistant in Cincinnati with Palmer.

Jackson said Palmer has the strong arm and athleticism that late Raiders owner Al Davis always wanted in a quarterback.

"This guy can play and he knows how to play the game and he knows how to elevate the players around him," Jackson said.

"There's no question you go on offense as good as your quarterback is. I think he's one of the best and that's why he's on this football team now. I didn't bring him here because he was just a guy sitting out there. I brought him here because I think he can help this team win a championship."

The Bengals had been adamant about not trading Palmer, who wanted to be dealt from a team that has had only two winning records in the past 20 years.

Owner Mike Brown repeatedly insisted he wouldn't consider Palmer's request for a trade because he didn't want to reward him for holding out. He changed his mind after getting the big offer from the Raiders.

Brown said the play of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton made it easier to trade Palmer.

"We also find ourselves rather suddenly in position of being able to receive real value for Carson that can measurably improve our team, which is performing well and is showing real promise for this year and years to come," he said in a statement.

"When this opportunity arose, we felt we could not let it pass and needed to take a step forward with the football team if we could."

The Raiders (4-2) became desperate for a quarterback after Campbell broke his collarbone during a win over the Browns on Sunday.

Campbell had surgery Monday and was expected to miss at least six weeks, leaving the Raiders with only Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor on the roster.

Jackson's mantra all season has been "the time is now," and he backed that up by dealing for Palmer.

The Raiders also renegotiated Palmer's contract, giving him a $2.5 million guaranteed deal for the rest of this season, $12.5 million with $5 million guaranteed in 2012, $13 million in 2013 and $15 million in 2014.

Palmer had been working out in Southern California, trying to stay in shape and throwing to former teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh and high school players.

He hoped the work would pay off with another chance in the NFL, but he did not know.

"There was a number of times that there were teams approaching the Bengals and it didn't work out, so it was a very difficult time," Palmer said.

"I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know what was around the next turn, the next week, the next month. So there was a lot of confusion and I really didn't know what was next."

Palmer said it will take some time to learn the offense, build chemistry with his receivers and get back into football shape. Oakland hosts Kansas City on Sunday but Jackson would not say whether Palmer would start.

While Palmer has not played or practiced since last season, he has a history with Jackson, who was his offensive coordinator for two years at USC and the wide receivers coach for three seasons in Cincinnati.

Jackson was with the Bengals when Palmer had his best season in 2005 when he threw for 3,836 yards with 32 touchdown passes and a 101.1 rating while leading the team to an AFC North title. Palmer tore up his left knee during a playoff loss to Pittsburgh that season.

He came back and had two solid seasons before partially tearing a ligament and tendon in his passing elbow during the 2008 season.

He has not been an elite quarterback since, despite getting back to the playoffs in 2009. Palmer said he is completely healthy now.

Over the past two years, Palmer completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 7,064 yards, 47 touchdowns, 33 interceptions and a passer rating of 82.9 while posting a 14-18 record.

Those numbers are comparable to what Campbell has done since the start of the 2009 season.

But the Raiders were not willing to trust their playoff chances with Boller, who had not started a game since 2009 and had lost his previous 10 starts since October 2007, or Pryor, a project who will need time before he can be an NFL quarterback.

This is the second trade the Raiders have made since Davis' death. They dealt last week for former No. 4 overall pick in 2009, linebacker Aaron Curry from Seattle.

The trade leaves the Raiders with picks only in the fifth and sixth rounds in next year's draft. They traded their second-rounder during April's draft to New England for the picks to draft offensive lineman Joe Barksdale and running back Taiwan Jones.

They used their third-rounder to take Pryor in the supplemental draft in August. They traded their fourth-rounder in 2010 to get Campbell and the seventh-rounder for Curry.

"I know a lot of people think we've mortgaged the future of the organization," Jackson said. "I don't see it that way. I mean, I don't think you ever mortgage the future of an organization when you're putting a real big-time franchise quarterback on your team."

Oakland is expecting to get compensatory picks after losing Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery, Thomas Howard and Bruce Gradkowski in free agency.


AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.


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