As playoff push ends, Orioles savor turnaround for the ages: ‘We understand what it takes’

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:40

Brandon Hyde heard the question and paused for eight seconds. In the end, he didn’t really have an answer.

Asked what about this 2022 Orioles season didn’t surprise him, Hyde was temporarily stumped. It in many ways speaks to what his team accomplished in a campaign that had its dreams of a surprise postseason berth dashed early Saturday morning, surviving into but not lasting through the first day of October.

The Orioles were not supposed to be here. They figured to take a step, sure, because it’s hard not to improve on a 52-win season. But they did that better than anybody since the turn of the 20th century, becoming the first team since 1900 to finish .500 or better after losing 110 games the previous year.

It was not enough to join an expanded postseason field, but that it was even a conversation shows how remarkable of a year it was. The Orioles did little in the offseason. Their top starter got Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, and injuries delayed the debuts of their top two prospects. They traded away two key players — twice. Yet, their hopes of reaching the postseason lasted half an hour into October.

“From November to March, we never heard that there was any sort of chance that this team was going to have a chance to make the postseason,” Hyde said. “To be able to play the way we have and put ourselves in position, I’m really proud of our players and coaches and everybody involved. I think the city of Baltimore and a lot of people enjoyed watching our team play this year, so after three years of really hard-to-watch baseball — and I saw it also — to have our guys play the way they have this year and stay competitive and win and put themselves in the conversation of postseason, these guys deserve a lot of credit.”

With products of their rebuild scheduled to reach the majors this season, the Orioles were expected to improve but still be among the league’s worst teams. They signed three major league free agents in right-hander Jordan Lyles, infielder Rougned Odor and catcher Robinson Chirinos, with only Lyles’ deal giving him over $1 million.

Chirinos figured to serve as a backup to Adley Rutschman, the first overall pick in the 2019 draft and the game’s top prospect, but as major league spring training began after the league’s 99-day lockout, Rutschman suffered a left tricep strain, ensuring he wouldn’t break camp with the team.

Days before the season was set to start, the Orioles traded backend relievers Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott to the Miami Marlins, a deal that erased half of Hyde’s experienced bullpen options. The same happened in terms of his rotation a week into the campaign, with ace John Means lost for the season after two starts because of an elbow injury.

Rutschman at last arrived in late May, with Baltimore eight games under .500 a quarter into the year. Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, regarded as the sport’s top pitching prospect, seemed set to join Rutschman in the majors, but on the first day of June, he suffered a right lat muscle strain that has thus far prevented his debut, though he could make a start in the season’s final days.

The ascension of Rutschman, though, seemed to be a turning point. By mid-June, he was one of the game’s best players and an American League Rookie of the Year candidate, and the Orioles were one of the sport’s top teams, entering August on a 27-16 stretch. But they traded first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini to the Houston Astros on the first day of that month and All-Star closer Jorge López to the Minnesota a day later, with their only deadline addition being Brett Phillips, an outfielder the Tampa Bay Rays had designated for assignment and who the Orioles would do the same to three weeks later.

At the time, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias cited the team’s lacking playoff probabilities as a factor in the moves, which rankled some in the Orioles’ clubhouse. Yet Baltimore kept winning, posting its third straight winning month and at one point moving into a wild-card spot.

The club struggled in September. The difficulties with runners in scoring position that plagued them early in the year returned, and a bullpen that had pitched well for much of the year showed signs of wear and tear. Mancini and López have lesser numbers with their new clubs, but the shift in roles caused by their absences in Baltimore exposed holes.

Yet, a victory Friday night ensured the Orioles their first non-losing season in six years, and their next victory will make them a winning team while marking a 30-win improvement from 2021.

“It was such a fun summer this year,” outfielder Austin Hays said. “Those few months, where everything was just clicking, we were rolling, and it got us to the point where we were able to make it until five games left in the season before we were eliminated from playoff contention. I don’t think anybody would have believed you if you said that in the beginning of the year.

“It’s really disappointing that it’s not a possibility now, to think that we have to go out and play today knowing we can’t get there, but man, it was a fun ride and it was a fun season. Really looking forward to what this team can do next year.”

All of their players are contractually situated to return but those original three free agents, who Hyde and teammates have frequently credited with changing the team’s culture. Lyles has an $11 million team option for next year and said Saturday he would “love” to return.

“To see what we’ve done in the last calendar year as an organization, from what was expected of us coming into the season and the transition to be where we are right now, it’s pretty special,” Lyles said.

The trade of Scott and Sulser proved to open the door for a group of unproven and unwanted pitchers who have orchestrated the sport’s greatest pitching improvement in more than nine decades. With López dealt, Lyles is the only member of the Orioles’ pitching staff making above the league’s minimum salary. After Mancini was traded, outfielder Anthony Santander became the only position player Baltimore is paying more than $1 million.

Elias has said he expects payroll to increase this offseason, with both increased salaries internally and external additions figured to play a part in that. This team’s achievements despite the previous lack of effort to contend hints at what could be possible when, as Elias put it, “liftoff” arrives.

“I did want to surprise some people this year,” Hyde said. “I wanted us to play a better brand of baseball than we have in the past, and I thought we were as we got more talented, but I think just seeing all the 0% postseason possibilities and then people discussing playoffs with our team, I think that that’s been the most enjoyable thing this year, proving people wrong.

“As a competitor, I wanted to be in the playoffs. I want to experience those things. I want our guys to, but we gave it a good run. … We understand what it takes to win now.”

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Categories: Local News

Chief Putin critic wins elections in Latvia, exit poll shows

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:36

By Aaron Eglitis | Bloomberg

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin, won a decisive victory in general elections as voters punished a party backed by ethnic Russians, an exit poll showed.

Bolstered by its vocal opposition of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Karins’s New Unity won 22.5% of Saturday’s vote, compared with 11.5% for the upstart United List party, which came in second, according to an exit poll for the public broadcasters.

Harmony, a party that won the last three elections with support of many Russians who make up about a quarter of Latvia’s 1.9 million population, for the first time failed to win enough votes to enter parliament, the poll showed. Complete results are expected on Sunday at the earliest.

“This is not an easy time for the country,” Karins told Latvian TV after voting ended. “We stuck together.”

The election underscores a growing divide among European Union and NATO countries.

In Latvia and other nations that broke from Moscow’s totalitarian embrace when communism fell last century, anger over Russia’s attack on Ukraine is further bolstering support for Euro-Atlantic solidarity.

That contrasts with populists like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban — and his right-wing allies in Italy — who have leveraged ire over inflation and immigration and fanned anti-EU sentiment to win votes this year.

“New Unity’s support is really connected with the war in Ukraine and the public’s reaction to it,” Juris Rozenvalds, a professor at the University of Latvia, said by phone. For Latvians, “NATO and the EU mean security.”

Karins, who is also a US citizen, has led a dramatic turnaround for his party, which was the smallest to enter parliament in elections four years ago.

His party’s victory margin suggested by the exit poll eclipsed forecasts from voter surveys late last month. If it’s borne out in official results, Karins may be able to create a majority-backed ruling coalition with three other like-minded parties. The exit poll showed eight political groups winning seats in parliament.

Born in Delaware to parents who fled Latvia when the country was forcibly absorbed into the Soviet Union following World War II, Karins moved to Riga in 1997 after getting a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February, Karins’s party has been one of the EU’s most vocal advocates of tightening sanctions. He has called on NATO to bolster its eastern flank, including Latvia’s 214-kilometer (132-mile) border with Russia.

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Under his administration, Latvia also toppled the 80-meter (262 foot) Soviet monument in the capital, angering Moscow, and vowed to remove others.

By contrast, Harmony saw its support fracture after Russia invaded Ukraine, with other parties vying for the same electorate gaining votes.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Categories: Local News

Evacuations lift near Bolt Creek fire, but smoke still headed to Seattle

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:30

Air quality in the Seattle air is expected to be good or moderate throughout the weekend, but could be unhealthy for sensitive groups near Highway 2.
Categories: Local News

Lawmakers Confront a Rise in Threats and Intimidation, and Fear Worse

N.Y. Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 11:00
Violent political speech has increasingly crossed into the realm of in-person confrontation for members of Congress in both parties, raising the prospect of a disastrous event.
Categories: Local News

Sonoma County: Hwy. 116 will be reduced to one lane overnight for 2 weeks starting Monday

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:48

Bay City News Foundation

Caltrans crews will begin working Monday night on a culvert replacement project on State Route 116 in Sonoma County that will reduce the road to one lane of travel overnight for the next two weeks.

The work is slated for just west of U.S. Highway 101 in Cotati between Redwood Drive and Llano Road. One-way travel under traffic control will be in effect, so Caltrans is advising motorist to expect delays through Sunday morning, Oct. 16.

Work is scheduled Mondays through Thursdays each of the next two weeks from 6 p.m. through 6 p.m. the following morning. Work on Fridays is scheduled from 7 p.m. through 8 a.m. the next morning, and on the Saturday overnights the work is from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday.

For 24/7 traffic updates, go to 511.org.

Categories: Local News

Heat’s Erik Spoelstra on so many wanting to start, ‘You need ambition’

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:23

Ask Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra about more than half his roster believing they should be starters and he smiles the wryest of smiles.

“I don’t mind it in terms of players’ ambition,” he said, with the Heat breaking camp Saturday after five days at the Baha Mar resort. “We should have a lot of players that feel like they can start. And we probably do have eight to 12 starters.

“Either they can start on this team right now or they can start on another team or at some point they’ve been starters. Or could start with a little bit more development a year or two or three years down the line.”

The givens in the first five are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. The contenders for the other two berths are Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo and perhaps even Duncan Robinson, Omer Yurtseven or Haywood Highsmith. About the only members of the 14-player standard roster not directly in the conversation are Gabe Vincent, Dewayne Dedmon, 42-year-old mentor Udonis Haslem and 19-year-old neophyte Nikola Jovic.

“I think you need talent in this league, you need ambition,” Spoelstra said. “I want to leverage all of that.

“At some point, to be a part of something special, you have to embrace that concept of sacrificing and sharing in the game.”

So, yes, sacrifice is back as a core tenet.

“It’ll be really important for this team to understand that each guy will have to sacrifice a little bit to be able to unlock the talent that we have,” Spoelstra said. “Once you embrace that, all of this is bigger than each one of us, and you can really connect the dots on the concept, you can find more purpose and gratification out of great team basketball. So we’re laying that foundation right now.

“The magic happens when everybody can get to a place where you’re vulnerable and giving up something for the betterment of the team. We have a lot of firepower, have a lot of talent, have a lot of defensive versatility. There’s a lot of encouraging things about our roster makeup and our depth. And we fully intend on using all of that. How that’s going to play out right now? I don’t know, but I do like the possibilities.”

Closing time

With the Heat wrapping up their stay in New Providence, with Saturday including a youth clinic at the makeshift courts at the resort’s convention center, Haslem summed up the experience.

“A great way to finish my last training camp, in paradise,” said the veteran power forward who is retiring after this 20th Heat season. “Well loved, always much love when I come here in the Bahamas. Just like being in Miami for me. The love is unmatched and I appreciate it a lot.”

Haslem said camp had a different feel, with 14 players returning from last season.

“We’re ahead of the game, because we had so much time last year. We didn’t lose very much,” he said, with only P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris departing. “We pretty much know everybody. Health is always a major concern, but we’re bonding, we’re enjoying it, we’re here in the Bahamas, paradise, so it’s been a great trip.”

Haslem said he made an effort to leave the resort to sample local fare, and appreciated that teammates were able to take their minds off the game.

“Great week,” he said. “A little bit of rain, but it held on pretty good. So the young guys were able to go on the water slides, some of the older guys able to get some golf. It was a good balance of hard work and a mental break and getting away.”

But that doesn’t mean there also wasn’t a physical toll.

“This week was a crash course for the body,” he said. “Next week, I’ll be better.”

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Categories: Local News

Mets bats need to wake up in order to clinch NL East crown

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:19

ATLANTA — The Mets bats have gone cold and they’re running out of time to heat them up.

They failed to capitalize on a late rally Friday night in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They needed a late rally to beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday and they got no rallies in the first game of that series.

But this trend goes back even further. A shutout in Milwaukee last week. A sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs earlier in September and only five runs over three games against the Washington Nationals.

Overall, the numbers haven’t been terrible. The Mets actually own the second-highest OPS in the league over the month of September (.770). But there have been some key losses in which the offense didn’t really show up, much like the one Friday night at Truist Park.

The question is whether or not this is indicative of what’s to come in the last five games of the season and in the postseason. Will it cost them the NL East and force them into a Wild Card round?

The problems started when Starling Marte was injured earlier this month. The All-Star outfielder was hitting .292 this season with an .814 OPS and 16 home runs before he got hurt. But Marte is not exactly the engine that makes the Mets offense go. Missing one player like that shouldn’t crater the rest of the offense.

“Without Starling here, we have to force some things we might not normally have to,” manager Buck Showalter said.

The lack of production at the DH position doesn’t help either. With the Mets facing two right-handers this weekend we can probably expect to see Daniel Vogelbach back in the lineup, but he’s had some questionable at-bats as of late. Darin Ruf was placed on the injured list with a neck strain Friday and his struggles have been magnified as the team’s offensive woes have continued.

The Mets don’t seem to have an answer as to why Ruf, who was brought in to hit against left-handed pitching, has been so bad in New York (.152 with a .413 OPS).

“Could be a number of variables,” general manager Billy Eppler said Friday at Truist Park. “Could be timing, could be something material in the swing. Could be a small sample, could be a number of things. So it’s up to us to uncover and that’s some of the questions that we are asking.”

Francisco Alvarez was called up to take Ruf’s spot on the roster. The 20-year-old catcher is one of the top prospects in baseball, even ranked No. 1 overall by MLB Pipeline, and has been absolutely crushing left-handed pitching in Triple-A. He wasn’t the hero the Mets needed Friday night, but they needed much more than a rookie making his debut to come through with so much on the line.

Alvarez faced Kenley Jansen in a key moment in the ninth, with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out on three pitches — all cutters — fouling one off and swinging through two of them. This might not be the same Jansen as five years ago, but that cutter still cuts.

Eppler and Showalter talked about not overwhelming him in his major league debut, but they kept him in because they liked the matchup against Jansen. Showalter called Jansen a “neutral split,” meaning the right-hander has similar results against right- and left-handed hitters, but lefties have had a better results against him this season (left-handed hitters have a .725 OPS against Jansen, while right-handers have a .550 OPS).

“He’s getting close, we thought, on some balls and he’ll learn from it,” Showalter said. “He’s an impressive young man we’re glad he’s on our side.”

So, the Mets need a hero. Who will it be?

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Categories: Local News

Chicago Bears sign kicker Michael Badgley with Cairo Santos still questionable for the Week 4 road game

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:19

The Chicago Bears will have a new kicker for Sunday’s Week 4 road game against the New York Giants.

The team announced it signed Michael Badgley to the practice squad Saturday morning and he will be elevated to the gameday roster as Cairo Santos did not travel with the team.

Santos missed practices Thursday and Friday for personal reasons and the team designated him as questionable for the game. He was ruled out before the team’s early-afternoon flight to New Jersey.

The Bears were prepared for the possibility, holding a tryout Friday afternoon at Halas Hall that Badgley won. He beat out Brian Johnson and Josh Lambo.

The team announced more roster moves as well. Running back Darrynton Evans has been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster, while defensive end Andre Anthony goes on practice squad reserve/injured.

Santos made field goals from 47 and 50 yards before hitting the 30-yarder on the final play of a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans last Sunday at Soldier Field. He’s 4-for-4 on field goals for the season and rebounded from two missed extra points during a driving rainstorm in the Week 1 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

He set a franchise record in 2020 when he made 30-of-32 field goal attempts (93.8%), earning a $9 million, three-year contract. Santos followed it up by going 26-of-30 on field goals in 2021, and has connected on 89.7% of his field goals since taking over for Eddy Pineiro at the start of 2020.

Badgley, 27, was most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars in August. He had a tryout earlier this week for the Kansas City Chiefs. He made 18 of 22 field goals in 12 games with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Tennessee Titans last season.

He spent the first three years of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers but left after the 2020 season when he made 24 of 33 field goals.

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Categories: Local News

Pedestrian hit, killed near shooting scene in U District

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:00

A driver police think was leaving the scene of a nearby shooting hit and killed a 21-year-old pedestrian in the University District, according to Seattle police.
Categories: Local News

Nick Holonyak Jr., pioneer of LED lighting, is dead at 93

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 10:00

Nick Holonyak Jr. invented a visible red-light diode. His 41 patents also included lasers that enabled DVD and CD players. The godfather of LED has died. He was 93.
Categories: Local News

Zack Britton can’t make it all the way back to help Yankees in the playoffs

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:56

Zack Britton’s comeback has fallen short. The left-hander who exited Friday night’s game with “arm fatigue” was placed on the injured list Saturday and likely will not pitch for the Yankees again. The 34-year-old had hoped to come back from 2021 Tommy John surgery to pitch in the postseason.

“I think basically it’s just something that we’re kind of running out of time here,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “and having a little bit of fatigue last night, it’s like one of those things you don’t want to power through and reach for more and then do some damage as you’re coming back.

“But he’s in a good spot heading into the offseason.”

Britton had the updated version of Tommy John surgery, which places a protective brace or sleeve around the ulnar collateral ligament. That had him and the Yankees hoping he could make a faster comeback. He made his big league debut this season on Sept. 24, just 12 and a half months after the surgery.

‘I’m just appreciative of how hard he’s worked to get to this point and to give himself a chance,” Boone said. “The rehab is going really well. I feel like a lot of things are  lined up. It’s just that final sharpness and at this point in the season just got up against it there. But, yeah, he worked his tail off to put himself in this position and give himself an opportunity and certainly admire that.”

Britton is in the final year of his four-year, $53 million deal with the Yankees. An elite closer with the Orioles, the Yankees acquired him at the trade deadline in 2018. Britton made 136 appearances for the Bombers, mostly setting up for Aroldis Chapman, and pitched to a 2.75 ERA with 15 saves.

Britton made it very clear when he returned that he was not worried about pitching to prove he was healthy for another contract.

“I mean it doesn’t impact my future. I’m healthy. I know if I’m healthy, the future for me will be fine. The reason why I kind of push things is because I want to pitch this year for this team to help them win and for no other reason,” Britton said when he returned. “So there’s no benefit for me personally, other than the fact that maybe I can have an impact on a World Series championship team. That’s really the only goal for me at this stage of my career. I’ve gotten my contract. I am 34 years old. My reasons are much different now than when I was younger. I want [a] ring, that’s why I pushed this hard to come back and be an option for the team.”

With Clay Holmes down because of rotator cuff inflammation, a doubleheader on Tuesday and rain putting the Yankees final two games of the regular season at Yankee Stadium in doubt, the Bombers just needed an arm. They called up Jacob Barnes, a veteran of parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers, Royals, Mets, Angels and Tigers and a 6.10 ERA this season.

“He’s got good stuff. Good arm,” Boone said. “We  just wanted that coverage today, with what we’re entering into as far as doubleheaders coming up and some roster situations.”

MONTAS MOVES

Frankie Montas was on the field throwing for the first time since he was shut down earlier this month. The right-hander played a very limited catch at about 25 to 40 feet, another indication that he will not be pitching at least in the first round of the playoffs.

And when he does pitch in the playoffs, it very well could be out of the bullpen, Boone confirmed Saturday.

“I don’t know about the Division Series. I don’t know if that’s gonna be in play,” Boone said when asked if there was enough time to ramp him back up.  “We feel like there’s time to where he could get to a point where he could be an option for us. Maybe not in the Division Series, but more likely beyond.”

Montas is on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, the same issue that had him miss time in Oakland before the Yankees traded for him. The Bombers targeted Montas specifically for the playoff with his past success against potential playoff foes the Astros and Rays. He struggled once he got here, however. Montas has a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Bombers.

The Yankees dealt minor league pitching prospects Luis Medina and Ken Waldichuk along with J.P. Sears, who had already contributed to the big league club, for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino (who coincidentally is the only one of the Yankees’ deadline acquisitions who has not been injured).

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Categories: Local News

S.F.: Police arrest 2 suspects in Sept. 18 fatal stabbing

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:55

Bay City News Foundation

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco police arrested two men this week in connection with the Sept. 18 stabbing of two people, one of whom died.

Joshua Burnham, 51, and Jay Bucy, 52, both of San Francisco, were arrested, respectively, Tuesday and Wednesday on suspicion of multiple felonies, including homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and criminal conspiracy.

The arrests come following an investigation into the stabbing of two people on the evening of Sept. 18, when officers responded to a 10:10 p.m. report of the incident in the 900 block of Geary Street.

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Upon arrival, officers found two men with apparent stab wounds and began providing medical aid to the victims before they were taken to a local hospital, where one of them died of his injuries.

Police said that although an arrest has been made, this remains an open and active investigation. They urge anyone with information is asked to call the tip line at 1-415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Callers may remain anonymous.

Categories: Local News

Russia withdraws troops after Ukraine encircles key city

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:45

By JON GAMBRELL and ADAM SCHRECK

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — After being encircled by Ukrainian forces, Russia pulled troops out Saturday from an eastern Ukrainian city that it had been using as a front-line hub. It was the latest victory for the Ukrainian counteroffensive that has humiliated and angered the Kremlin.

Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman complicates its internationally vilified declaration just a day earlier that it had annexed four regions of Ukraine — an area that includes Lyman. Taking the city paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push further into land that Moscow now illegally claims as its own.

The fighting comes at a pivotal moment in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Facing Ukrainian gains on the battlefield — which he frames as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to destroy Russia — Putin this week heightened threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed to have inflicted damage on Ukrainian forces in battling to hold Lyman, but said outnumbered Russian troops were withdrawn to more favorable positions. Kyiv’s air force said it moved into Lyman, and the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff posted photos of a Ukrainian flag being hoisted on the town’s outskirts.

Lyman had been an important link in the Russian front line for both ground communications and logistics. Located 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, it is in the Donetsk region near the border with Luhansk region, both of which Russia annexed Friday after a local “referendum” was held at gunpoint.

Ukrainian forces have retaken vast swaths of territory in a counteroffensive that started in September. They have pushed Russian forces out of the Kharkiv area and moved east across the Oskil River.

Moscow’s withdrawal from Lyman prompted immediate criticism from some Russian officials.

The leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, blamed the retreat, without evidence, on one general being “covered up for by higher-up leaders in the General Staff.” He called for “more drastic measures.”

Meanwhile, on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula, the governor of the city of Sevastopol announced an emergency situation at an airfield there. Explosions and huge billows of smoke could be seen from a distance by beachgoers in the Russian-held resort. Authorities said a plane rolled off the runway at the Belbek airfield and ammunition that was reportedly on board caught fire.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in violation of international law.

Russian bombardments have intensified in recent days as Moscow moved swiftly with its latest annexation and ordered a mass mobilization at home to bolster its forces. The Russian call-up has proven unpopular at home, prompting tens of thousands of Russian men to flee the country.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his military have vowed to keep fighting to liberate the regions Putin claimed to have annexed Friday, and other Russian-occupied areas.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russian forces of targeting two humanitarian convoys in recent days, killing dozens of civilians.

The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, said 24 civilians were killed in an attack this week on a convoy trying to flee the Kupiansk district. He called it “сruelty that can’t be justified.” He said 13 children and a pregnant woman were among the dead.

“The Russians fired at civilians almost at point-blank range,” Syniehubov wrote on Telegram.

The Security Service of Ukraine, the secret police force known by the acronym SBU, posted photographs of the attacked convoy. At least one truck appeared to have been blown up, with burned corpses in what remained of its truck bed. Another vehicle at the front of the convoy also had been ablaze. Bodies lay on the side of the road or still inside vehicles, which appeared pockmarked with bullet holes.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said its rockets destroyed Ukrainian military targets in the area but has not commented on accusations that it targeted fleeing civilians. Russian troops have retreated from much of the Kharkiv region but they have continued to shell the area.

And a Russian strike in the Zaporizhzhia region’s capital killed 30 people and wounded 88, Ukrainian officials said. The British Defense Ministry said the Russians “almost certainly” struck a humanitarian convoy there with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Russian-installed officials in Zaporizhzhia blamed Ukrainian forces, but gave no evidence.

In other developments, in an apparent attempt to secure Moscow’s hold on the newly annexed territory, Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, on Friday, according to the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom.

Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and took him to an undisclosed location.

Russia did not publicly comment on the report. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Russia told it that “the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was temporarily detained to answer questions.”

The Vienna-based IAEA said it “has been actively seeking clarifications and hopes for a prompt and satisfactory resolution of this matter.”

The power plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war. Ukrainian technicians continued running it after Russian troops seized the power station, and its last reactor was shut down in September as a precautionary measure amid ongoing shelling nearby.

In other fighting reported Saturday, four people were killed by Russian shelling Friday in the Donetsk region, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. The Russian army struck the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv twice overnight, once with drones and the second time with missiles, according to regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim.

After Friday’s land grab, Russia now claims sovereignty over 15% of Ukraine, in what NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called “the largest attempted annexation of European territory by force since the Second World War.”

Zelenskyy on Friday formally applied for NATO membership, upping the pressure on Western allies to defend Ukraine.

In Washington, President Joe Biden signed a bill Friday that provides another infusion — more than $12.3 billion — in military and economic aid linked to the war Ukraine.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Categories: Local News

Stanford-Oregon: What to know before kickoff in Eugene

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:45

STANFORD AT NO. 13 OREGON

Records: Stanford 1-2, 0-2 in the Pac-12; Oregon 3-1, 1-0.

Kickoff: 8 p.m., Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

Radio: KNBR 1050 AM

Television: FS1

Series history: Stanford leads 50-34-1. David Shaw is 6-5 against Oregon, including three wins when the Ducks have been ranked in the AP’s top 3.

Stanford storylines: Stanford is facing its third straight top-20 opponent after losing to No. 6 USC (41-28) and No. 15 Washington (40-22) … The Cardinal has lost nine straight against FBS competition dating back to last year’s overtime upset of No. 3 Oregon … In order to pull another huge upset over the Ducks, it needs to hold on to the ball (it has an FBS-worst 11 turnovers in three games) and get some pressure against an Oregon offensive line that has not allowed a sack all season.

Oregon storylines: After getting blown out by No. 1 Georgia to open the season, Oregon has rebounded with wins over BYU and Washington State … It scored 29 points in the fourth quarter against the Cougars, with senior QB and Auburn transfer Bo Nix throwing for a career-high 428 passing yards.

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Matchup to watch: Stanford offensive line vs. Oregon defensive line … The Cardinal allowed eight sacks, leading to two lost fumbles, last week against Washington …. Tackle Myles Hinton didn’t travel to Seattle and left tackle Walter Rouse was injured in the first half – both players were questionable to return this week … The Ducks had four sacks and 11 tackles for loss last week against Washington State.

Stats that matter: Oregon has 21 straight home wins, the third-longest active streak in FBS (Clemson has 36 and Cincinnati has 29). The last road team to win a game at Oregon was Stanford, who won 38-31 in overtime in September 2018. … Stanford senior Michael Wilson had a career-high 176 receiving yards last week and has multiple receiving TDs in two of the three games this season. … Nix has 10 TD passes, one less than he had in 10 games at Auburn last season. … Oregon is the only FBS team that hasn’t allowed a sack. … The last time Stanford faced three straight top-20 opponents in the regular season was November 2012 (No. 13 Oregon State, No. 1 Oregon, No. 15 UCLA).

Categories: Local News

S.F.: Brothers plead guilty to selling fentanyl in Tenderloin

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:39

Bay City News Foundation

A pair of Berkeley brothers have pleaded guilty in a San Francisco federal court to charges they sold fentanyl in the city’s Tenderloin District.

Juan Carlos Hernandez-Ordonez, 18, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl.

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David Ordonez, 20, pleaded guilty in the same case on Sept. 15 to two charges, including conspiring with Hernandez-Ordonez to distribute fentanyl.

Both defendants remain in custody pending their sentencing hearings. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment.

Categories: Local News

In Washington, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Stir Growing Alarm

N.Y. Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:30
In a gathering Cold War atmosphere, American officials are gaming out responses should Russia resort to battlefield nuclear weapons.
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Poland adds pregnancy to patients’ medical data

Seattle Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:28

A new regulation coming into force in Poland that requires pregnancy information to be uploaded to the national digital system has women's organizations concerned that it will be another way for the conservative government to control women's lives.
Categories: Local News

Uganda Races to Contain a Deadly Ebola Outbreak

N.Y. Times - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:27
The outbreak was caused by the Sudan strain of the virus, which has no approved vaccine or drug treatment. Scientists are now rushing to begin clinical trials in the coming weeks.
Categories: Local News

Pat Leonard: NFL, players’ union, Dolphins medical staff all failed Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:21

Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t have been on the field Thursday night. Loopholes in the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and players’ union allowed the Miami Dolphins’ medical staff to clear him and create the frightening situation that unfolded in front of the entire nation.

“The problem isn’t necessarily that the protocol wasn’t being followed,” said Miami-based attorney Brad Sohn, a candidate with some player support to become the NFLPA’s next executive director. “It’s that they have these toothless rules and no one’s being held accountable. The league and P.A. codified a protocol that has loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.”

The central question — and the reason the union launched an investigation for a potential protocol violation immediately — is why Tagovailoa was cleared mid-game from the concussion protocol the previous Sunday during a win over the Buffalo Bills.

The quarterback’s head hit the turf after taking a hit from a Bills defender. Tagovailoa immediately raised his hands towards his head, with the fingers on his left hand looking a bit strange.

Then he stood up and tried to shake it off, he stumbled, lost his balance, and had his knees buckle underneath him. Teammates had to hold him up on his feet until trainers came out.

Tagovailoa was taken to the locker room and announced as questionable to return with a “head” injury. But he later returned to the game, and the team clarified he had injuries to his “back” and “ankle.”

“Ninety-nine percent of doctors who don’t work for the team see Tua shake off the cobwebs, wobble, have to be held up, and that player never goes back in,” neuroscientist Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., the founding CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told the Daily News Saturday.

So how was it possible to bring him back into the game, especially with an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) involved?

Well, the NFL’s concussion game checklist says in the fine print that a players’ “gross motor instability” is “determined by [the] team physician, in consultation with the UNC, to be neurologically caused.”

In other words, Sohn said, “a team doctor can make the finding that an injury wasn’t neurologically caused, that it’s a player’s knee and not his head, and the independent neurologist no longer needs to be consulted. And the PA agreed to that.”

Indeed, the full CBA language says that “the decision to return a player to participation remains within the professional judgment of the head team physician or team physician designated for concussion evaluation and treatment, performed in accordance with these protocols.” And all return participation decisions only need to be “confirmed” by the independent neurologist.

The investigation hopefully will reveal the facts about how this decision was made. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills promised all findings would be released to the public.

But when NFL executive VP of communications Jeff Miller said Wednesday that “every indication from our perspective is that [the protocol] was” followed, unaffiliated professionals weren’t buying it.

“It was a series of bad choices that gave Tua a serious brain injury,” Nowinski said. “I could accept if last Sunday was a mistake in the game. But to pretend it wasn’t a mistake the rest of the week shows a callousness with player health that I feel like I haven’t seen in a while.”

“Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime,” Nowinski added. “But I feel like the crime is very bad and the cover-up is becoming worse.”

The fact is that Tagovailoa demonstrated at least three “potential concussion signs,” as defined in the CBA, after that Bills hit:

1. Slow to get up following a hit to the head (‘hit to the head’ may include secondary contact with the playing surface)

2. Motor coordinator/balance problems (stumbles, trips/falls, slow/labored movement)

3. Clutching of head after contact

If Tagovailoa’s left hand indicates upon review that he was also in a brief “fencing” posture, that would make it four potential concussion signs. “Balance or coordination difficulties” are also listed as a “potential concussion symptom.”

The difference between signs and symptoms are signs are things you can observe with your eyes, and symptoms are what a player reports to the doctors or tests reveal.

The Dolphins QB was administered the required tests before being cleared to return to the Bills game, according to Sills, and subsequently tested throughout the week. But Nowinski said the league’s preference to lean on these back-room tests is part of the problem, too.

“This is a tactic the NFL has used for years,” he said. “The NFL is trying to make concussion evaluation about the locker room protocol or blue tent protocol. And what trumps those things is on-field signs. But the NFL doesn’t want that because they want the wiggle room of ‘he sobered up and passed the known-to-be-not-fully-accurate concussion test.’”

Returning Tagovailoa to play after unquestionably demonstrating those signs and that symptom was egregious. Thankfully, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh stood up and blasted the Dolphins on Friday to make clear that people in the clear do not believe this is OK.

“Like probably most people, I couldn’t believe what I saw [Thursday] night. I couldn’t believe what I saw last Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “It was just something that was astonishing to see. I’ve been coaching for almost 40 years in college and the NFL, and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Harbaugh said the Ravens exercise extreme caution. A couple weeks ago, wide receiver Devin Duvernay didn’t have any symptoms at all but Baltimore held him out for the following game and most of the week’s practice.

“I appreciate our docs,” he said. “I think they probably would call themselves conservative, but that’s what they should be. The other part of it, [Thursday] night, was not something you want to see.”

Giants tackle Evan Neal, Tagovailoa’s Alabama teammate in 2019, told The News he turned the Dolphins-Bengals game off after seeing Tagovailoa go into the “fencing” posture with his hands up in front of his face and his fingers twisted.

“I couldn’t watch it anymore,” Neal said. “It was tough to see him carted off like that. It was scary. At first I thought he broke his fingers or something. But I watched the play more and saw that he hit his head. That’s scary. Thankfully he’s responsive, he’s conscious, he can move his limbs.”

Giants coach Brian Daboll, Tagovailoa’s 2017 offensive coordinator at Alabama, started to tear up on Friday when asked about the Dolphins QB.

“He means a lot to me,” Daboll said. “It was tough … I don’t really think about them as players. They’re not too far off from my kids [in age].”

JC Tretter, the NFLPA’s recently-retired player president, said players are “outraged” and “scared for the safety of one of our brothers” after seeing a player cleared from the protocol despite clear demonstration of “no-go” symptoms.

Like Sohn, Tretter advocated for amending protocols, not just reviewing this case.

“Until we have an objective and validated method of diagnosing brain injury, we have to do everything possible, including amending protocols, to further reduce the potential of human error,” Tretter wrote. “A failure in medical judgment is a failure of the protocols when it comes to the well being of our players.”

Unfortunately, the union is part of the problem because there aren’t enough checks and balances to protect the players in the CBA the union signed off on.

Nowinski said in the union’s defense, though, the sad reality for players is that they’re also afraid of concussion diagnoses because it attaches a stigma. And plenty of players have had their careers ended because they were deemed untouchable by teams due to concussion histories.

“It can be worse to be out when you’re healthy than to play when you’re concussed,” Nowinski said of the mindset unfortunately adopted by plenty of players fighting for jobs.

Sohn boiled down the need for reform this way: “There are so many short-term interests that run the risk of being prioritized over health. Tua to his credit is probably a tough kid who wants to get out there and play football. But you need to police guys from making bad short-term decisions. The same is true with the team doctor. The same is true with the league.”

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Categories: Local News

Jeremy Lin’s stereotype-busting run with Knicks the focus of new HBO doc ‘38 at the Garden’

San Jose Mercury - Sat, 10/01/2022 - 09:00

Frank Chi had trekked from Washington D.C. to witness Linsanity, the basketball phenomena that connected deeply with the Asian-American filmmaker.

Scalpers outside Madison Square Garden had other ideas.

“They were trying to charge $700 at the door,” Chi recalled. “It was not happening.”

So Chi wandered to a karaoke bar in nearby Koreatown, where he discovered a crowd with similar enthusiasm for Jeremy Lin. Together, as a culture suppressed by stereotypes that should’ve rendered Lin’s confidence and athleticism impossible, they saw the Knicks guard drop 38 points against the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

“I’m surrounded by people who look like me and it was just two hours of us just losing it. People are crying in their beer. They’re screaming their lungs out. I’m doing all those things too,” Chi said. “And I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ Maybe it’s the wall of stereotypes Asian people feel following them around and then suddenly there’s a cathartic reaction when they see somebody break it on the world stage.”

Chi’s film on Linsanity, “38 at the Garden,” will debut Oct. 18 on HBO as a celebration of those special weeks and an education into the stereotypes that still follow Asian-Americans. Lin recounts his experience as an overlooked D-Leaguer turned overnight sensation, including his humble living arrangements on the tiny couch of teammate Landry Fields. There’s also an anecdote of an unnamed Knicks assistant coach dismissing Lin’s game as that of a “Japanese cartoon character.” But the implications of Linsanity to other Asian-Americans are the meat of the 38-minute documentary, with comedian Hasan Minhaj providing the most poignant and colorful analysis.

“Jeremy was not going to do a movie about Linsanity just recounting it and what happened on the court, even if it’s 10 year later. That’s not something I was interested in making and neither was Jeremy,” said Chi, who also worked on the 2018 documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “We wanted to make something that took the story and put it in the context of the people who freaked out about it the most.”

It’s also heavier a decade later. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified anti-Asian sentiment in the United States, with former President Donald Trump stoking the hatred with his “Chinese Flu” and “Kung Flu” references. It fed into a rise in violence against Asian-Americans, including a mass shooting last year at a spa in Atlanta.

“We get to stereotypes that follow Asian people all the time, especially when you’re weak and submissive,” Chi said. “What happens when all those stereotypes get weaponized like during COVID? That’s anti-Asian violence.”

Lin’s story is not only about overcoming the emasculating stereotypes attached to Asians, but also how they almost kept him out of the NBA. He was a star in high school but received zero recruiting letters. He was a star at Harvard but never close to getting drafted. Chi said the pre-draft scouting reports on Lin “read like a lintany of anti-Asian stereotypes: passes the ball too much, lacks confidence in his shot.”

“Linsanity is a product of people underestimating him his whole life,” added Chi. “Jeremy is the greatest example Asian Americans have of someone who has this wall of stereotypes and is trying to crush them. He found every single crack in that wall and kept pushing, and pushing and pushing.”

The peak of Linsanity only lasted 10 days in 2012, with the Lakers game neatly situated in the middle. The ensuing months were a mess with accusations of Carmelo Anthony’s jealousy to questions about the severity of Lin’s knee injury to James Dolan’s refusal to match the Rockets’ contract offer. But that aftermath isn’t explored in “38 at the Garden,” which is more interested in contextualizing the gravity of Linsanity through the people it inspired.

Chi said the idea started through a conversation with fellow producer Travon Free. They were trying to find comparisons to Barack Obama’s election as the first Black president, “when society at large assigns a stereotype to a group of people saying you can’t do something. And someone comes out of nowhere and shatters it.

“So we were like what other moments feel like that,” Chi said, “and I said, ‘Look, I’m Asian, and I only have one answer for that — Linsanity.’”

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