Mets complete sweep of Nationals, finish season with 101 wins

San Jose Mercury - 5 min 23 sec ago

The Mets gave their fans plenty to cheer for in the regular season finale at Citi Field on Wednesday night, routing the Washington Nationals 9-2 to complete the sweep and reach 101 wins.

But the most important player of the day didn’t even get an at-bat. Jeff McNeil won the National League batting title with a league-leading average of .326. He became the first player from the Mets to lead the majors in batting average and the second to win the batting title. Jose Reyes was the last to win it for the Amazins’ in 2011.

While the Mets and Nats were delayed for rain, Freddie Freeman attempted to surpass McNeil in the Los Angeles Dodgers finale against the Colorado Rockies. He nearly did it, going 3-for-4, but that one out he made was just enough to fall short. Shortly after Freeman’s final at-bat, McNeil’s teammates began hugging him in the dugout.

Later in the game, the Mets announced the award on the scoreboard and McNeil came out of the dugout to salute the fans.

McNeil hit .378 from July 30 on to surpass Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals. Goldschmidt led the league at the time with a .334 average, Freeman was .319 and McNeil was hitting only .287. His .326 average is sixth on the Mets’ single-season list all-time and it’s the highest season-ending average since Reyes ended it with an NL-best .337.

The former Long Beach State Dirtbag who grew up on the central coast of California was extremely influential in helping the Mets secure the top NL Wild Card spot. Outside of a few high-scoring games, the team struggled offensively in August and September, but the left-handed hitting McNeil produced no matter where he was in the lineup, adding some stability during a tough stretch.

The Mets finished 101-61 on the year to record the second-best regular-season record in franchise history, second only to 1986 when the club won 108 games (108-54). For those of you having trouble remembering what happened 36 years ago, the 1986 team went on to win the World Series.

Right-hander Mychal Givens was activated during the rain delay and opened for Trevor Williams, who took Jacob deGrom’s spot in the rotation. Williams cruised through six innings, limiting the Nationals (55-107) to just two earned runs on six hits, striking out six and walking none in the win (3-5).

There were a handful of other milestones as well: Francisco Lindor played in game No. 161, rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez got his first game behind the plate (0-for-2 with two walks and two runs), Mark Canha hit a three-run home run and James McCann broke out of his September slump by going 3-for-4 with a three-run home run off of Eric Fedde (6-13).

The Mets will hold a workout at Citi Field on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Wild Card round against the San Diego Padres.

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Elon Musk Offered to Buy Twitter at a Lower Price in Recent Talks

N.Y. Times - 17 min 41 sec ago
Before Mr. Musk renewed his $44 billion proposal, he and the company haggled in discussions that ultimately did not advance.

Yankees Notebook: DJ LeMahieu says his toe injury feels better, Gleyber Torres still dealing with flu-like symptoms

San Jose Mercury - 17 min 44 sec ago

ARLINGTON — DJ LeMahieu is ready to let it rip in the playoffs. After missing 21 games with painful inflammation in his right big/second toe area, LeMahieu went 4-for-16 with two walks in the last five games. LeMahieu thinks it was enough for him to know he can be impactful in the playoffs.

Aaron Boone isn’t sure yet.

“This time in between will be important as well,” the Yankees manager said of the five days between Wednesday’s season finale and the first game of the ALDS. “I do feel like he’s still guarded against it a little bit. Even yesterday. A tribute to how good a hitter he is and throws out a couple of hits and a walk. And I feel like it is still there, to where he’s picking his spots and I do see him favor it a little bit, but we’ll see.

“He’s going to be able to get some more strategic treatments leading up to the playoffs and hopefully that’s another level of getting him in a position.”

LeMahieu said the foot felt a little better than when he went on the injured list at the beginning of September.

LeMahieu went 0-for-4 in the Yankees 4-2 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field Wednesday.

TORRES TESTS

Gleyber Torres was out of the lineup and still sick for the third straight day, missing the final four games of the season. The young infielder has been dealing with flu-like symptoms since the team arrived in Texas on Sunday night.

“A little better. He’s still under the weather. So he actually took the COVID test and was negative,” Boone said. “But he’s still dealing with it. He hasn’t had a fever which is good, but a sore throat and just body aches and that kind of thing. So hopefully he’s starting to feel a little bit better but not good enough to be in there today.”

Torres had been on a hot streak when the bug bit him.

Over his last 18 games, Torres is slashing .378/.427/.662 with 11 extra-base hits, including five homers and 23 RBI.

TRIPLE TEMPTATION

Boone had been waiting for at least two weeks to give Aaron Judge a day off as he pursued the American League single-season home run record. After the Yankees slugger hit No. 62, breaking Roger Maris’ 61-year old record on Tuesday night, he talked Judge into sitting Wednesday.

The only reason he would have started him again would have been if Judge had a realistic chance at the Triple Crown.

“That was probably the one temptation but in the end, I just felt like it was right that he was off,” Boone said.

There has been only one Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, over the last 50 years.

His .311 batting average trails Minnesota’s Luis Arraez (.316) in the AL batting race. Arraez sat out three of the last six games with a left hamstring injury, but was planning to play Wednesday. Judge could have only passed him if the Twins infielder was to go hitless in three at-bats and Judge went 3-for-3.

Judge started 55 straight games and had a 33-game on-base streak to finish his season. He was slashing .337/.496/.707 with 30 extra-base hits including 19 homers and 44 runs scored during that 55-game span.

SHARED CELEBRATION

While everyone was watching Judge’s every at-bat, every swing and every move over the last month as he chased history, Gerrit Cole’s own record went under the radar Tuesday night. He recorded 257 strikeouts this season, beating Ron Guidry’s 248 for the Yankees single-season record.

Both honors were celebrated by the Yankees Tuesday night.

“For those two records to fall in probably five, seven minutes [apart]. It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable really,” Boone said. “I feel honored to be a part of it. And witness that,  to see what Judge has done all year.

“Gerrit, 44 years and you know that season by Gator is one of those talked about you hear about Bob Gibson’s season. Ron Guidry, [1978 season] strikeouts against the Angels. And then for Gator to call in,” Boone continued. “We had him on speakerphone with the whole team, congratulating Gerrit was really a cool moment for the team and for Gerrit after the game. So just one of those nights that you feel privileged to be a part of and I thought the guys handled it really well.”

UP NEXT

The Yankees have to wait to find out who they will face in the American League Division Series beginning on Tuesday. They are very familiar with the Tampa Bay Rays, who they went 11-8 against with a +6 run differential. They went 5-1 against the Cleveland Guardians with a +24 run differential.

“Obviously, Tampa we know really well. And they know us well. So, we’ll obviously be watching the series closely,” Boone said. “Cleveland has been one of the really good stories this year as far as to see their young roster, come of age and really just dominate the [American League Central] down stretch to win that division.

“They always pitch well, they’ve got an elite closer at the back end. Good starting pitching. A team that’s really adept at putting the ball in play and they’re athletic,” Boone continued. “They do a lot of different things. So hopefully, hopefully it goes three games and they beat each other up a little bit. You know at this point in the season, whoever you play, it’s going to be a challenge and you got to play well to win so we’ll await that hopefully, the downtime serves us well, we can strike that balance between staying sharp and getting guys rested. And hopefully that serves as well going into that series.”

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The Satanic Temple takes aim at Idaho, Indiana abortion bans

Seattle Times - 25 min 37 sec ago

The Satanic Temple sued Idaho last week, contending that the state's abortion bans infringe on the rights of members who may want to practice the temple's “abortion ritual.”

Get ready for health insurers to raise prices

Seattle Times - 29 min 59 sec ago

Health insurance companies are set to raise prices faster than medical costs are increasing, adding pressure on U.S. employers already facing severe inflation.

Mexican Fatally Shot at “Point Blank Range” to the Head in Border Patrol Custody

Motherboard (Vice) - 51 min 26 sec ago

A Mexican citizen was fatally shot in the head at point blank range on Tuesday while being detained in a U.S. Border Patrol Station in Texas, according to information obtained by VICE World News.

The man suffered from two gunshot wounds at the Ysleta Border Patrol Station in El Paso, according to documents seen by VICE World News and confirmed by another source who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The victim was identified as Manuel González Morán, 33, of Ciudad Juarez. One bullet grazed his left arm without entering. The second entered his temple, according to information provided by Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, where the man was pronounced dead, to U.S. officials investigating the killing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that its agents were involved in the shooting. The agency didn’t respond to a request for comment about the new revelation that González was shot in the head. The FBI, which is leading an investigation into the killing, also declined to comment on the new information. In an email, an FBI spokesperson said the agency will send out an “investigative update” in the coming days. The Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

González was being held in a cell with 20 other migrants when a Border Patrol agent opened the door to process him, according to information provided to VICE World News. González ran to the office area, grabbed a pair of scissors and started threatening officials.

“They intended to subdue him with an electric taser device, but failing to control him, they shot him at point blank range,” according to the documents seen by VICE World News. 

It’s unclear how many Border Patrol agents were involved in shooting González and whether they have been suspended or disciplined. González’s family could not be reached for comment.  

The killing raises troubling questions about the excessive use of force by Border Patrol agents and other officials who are tasked with processing the tens of thousands of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. Border Patrol agents are under growing pressure as they deal with unprecedented numbers of migrants crossing into the U.S. 

González was killed just days after two Mexican citizens were shot, one fatally, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Two twin brothers have been charged with manslaughter, including Michael Sheppard, the warden of a privately-operated ICE jail that houses migrants. He and his brother claimed they were out hunting and mistook the migrants for animals. They made no effort to see who they had shot before leaving the scene.

Sheppard, who served as warden at the West Texas Detention Center in Sierra Blanca, Texas since 2015, was accused as far back as 2018 of “participating in and overseeing the sadistic abuse of African migrants and asylum-seekers,” according to The Intercept.

The brothers were released on Monday after each posting a $250,000 bond.

Mayor among dead as gunmen launch attack in Mexico town

BBC World News - 55 min 18 sec ago
The Los Tequileros crime gang has been blamed for the violent attack in San Miguel Totolapan.

Climate change made summer hotter and drier worldwide, study finds

Seattle Times - 57 min 51 sec ago

Human-caused global warming has made severe droughts like the ones this summer in at least 20 times as likely to occur as they would have been more than a century ago.

Former Uber CSO convicted of covering up massive 2016 data theft

The Register - 1 hour 8 min ago
Passing off a ransom payment as a bug bounty? That's obstruction of justice

Joe Sullivan, Uber's former chief security officer, has been found guilty of illegally covering up the theft of Uber drivers and customers' personal information.…

Sale closed in Saratoga $5.5 million for a six-bedroom home

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 11 min ago
20689 Verde Vista Lane – Google Street View

A spacious house built in 2003 located in the 20600 block of Verde Vista Lane in Saratoga has a new owner. The 3,674-square-foot property was sold on Aug. 31, 2022 for $5,500,000, or $1,497 per square foot. The property features six bedrooms, six baths, a garage, and two parking spaces. It sits on a 0.5-acre lot, which also has a pool.

Alaska governor urges readiness ahead of storm

Seattle Times - 1 hour 14 min ago

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is urging residents throughout a huge swath of rural western Alaska to prepare for what forecasters called a strong storm that is expected to pack high winds and could result in areas of coastal flooding.

Roblox, Discord sued over girl’s sexual, financial exploitation

Seattle Times - 1 hour 21 min ago

Roblox and Discord are the latest targets in a wave of lawsuits over social media addiction.

10 takeaways from a ‘very frustrating’ 2022 season for the Chicago White Sox, who finished 81-81 after high expectations

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 22 min ago

José Abreu perfectly summed up 2022 for the Chicago White Sox.

“Very frustrating,” Abreu said through an interpreter Tuesday. “We didn’t make the playoffs; that was our goal.”

The Sox wrapped up the season Wednesday with a 10-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“When you have this level of talent, it’s hard to be happy with not making the playoffs,” starting pitcher Dylan Cease said Saturday in San Diego. “But all we can do is retool in the offseason, work hard and come back next year.”

Here are 10 takeaways from 2022.

1. Predictions don’t always pan out.

The Sox were the popular preseason pick to win the American League Central.

A year that began with promise remained stuck mostly in neutral as the Sox hovered around .500 while the Cleveland Guardians pulled away with the division title. The Sox finished 81-81 — 11 games out of first place.

“There (are) always individual spots where you can improve upon,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday. “Fundamentally, we lost our offensive approach. We need to balance out that offense a little bit better.

“You can say ‘baseball players’ or guys who grind at-bats more — I think a portion of it is getting some of these guys back to the approaches they had before. In the last couple of years, we had a pretty decent offense running from these guys. As well as improvements defensively and running the bases. There (are) areas to improve.”

2. Tony La Russa’s return didn’t end as he envisioned.

La Russa’s hiring was a surprise after the 2020 season, in large part because he hadn’t managed since 2011.

The goal in hiring the three-time World Series champion was to win big. It didn’t happen.

Health issues sidelined La Russa in late August, and he announced Monday he won’t return to the Sox in 2023.

“I am sincerely disappointed that I am leaving without the opportunity to finish what I was brought in to do,” La Russa read from a statement Monday. “I still appreciate the chance to come back home to the White Sox and leave today with many more good memories than disappointments.”

3. Patience at the plate is needed.

The Sox ranked third in the AL with a .256 batting average but were 10th in slugging (.387).

They didn’t walk enough, either, placing 14th in the AL with 388.

“The message was the same, if not very similar, to what was delivered in the past,” Hahn said Monday. “Frankie (Menechino) was hitting coach when we had three Silver Sluggers in 2020 and (ranked) fourth in the league in weighted runs created last year. There’s been success with this group, including these coaches.

“Why things deviated is something we’re going to have to spend a little more time talking through individually with the players, with the coaches and trying to get as objective a read as we can as to why we fell short. We’ve seen the talent perform at an elite level. It’s a matter of getting it back to that level.”

4. Injuries continued to pile up.

The Sox overcame numerous injuries to win the division last season.

They were hit hard by injuries again this year, but they were too much to overcome.

“I do think the odd offseason and short spring (due to the lockout) created a lot of problems for us,” Hahn said. “It created challenges for all 30 clubs, and we did not respond as well as others did and that’s part of the reason we’re here.”

Reliever Garrett Crochet was out the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in spring training. Aaron Bummer, Joe Kelly and closer Liam Hendriks were among the relievers to spend time on the injured list. The Sox began the season without starter Lance Lynn. Lucas Giolito got injured in the opener and missed a couple of starts. And Michael Kopech missed the final five weeks of the season.

Shortstop Tim Anderson, third baseman Yoán Moncada, catcher Yasmani Grandal and outfielders Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez were among the regulars to miss extended time. The injuries played a role in down years for Grandal and Moncada.

“You almost have to go player by player and injury by injury and decide what are we dealing with,” Hahn said. “Is this something that’s potentially chronic or going to influence their career going forward? And what can we do internally to prevent these kinds of things?”

5. The defense has to improve.

The Sox entered Wednesday’s finale ranked 28th in the majors with a .982 fielding percentage. Their 101 errors were the most in the AL.

That won’t cut it in terms of sustaining success.

“There wasn’t a lack of effort,” Hendriks said. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I think we ran into some bad situations that have cost us in those rankings.”

6. Dylan Cease elevated his game.

Dylan Cease’s slider was one of the best pitches in baseball.

“I was able to throw it multiple pitches in a row and multiple times through the order and it still held up,” Cease said. “For it to play like that, it’s really all I can ask for.”

Cease likely will be a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award after finishing in the top five in the league in several categories, including ERA and strikeouts. He had a record stretch of 14 consecutive starts allowing one or no earned runs and came within one out of a no-hitter Sept. 3 against the Minnesota Twins.

“Definitely a lot of improvements,” he said. “Got to give huge credit to (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz), (catchers) Seby (Zavala) and Yaz (Grandal). It was a good year.”

7. Some additions worked out, others didn’t.

Johnny Cueto far exceeded expectations after signing a minor-league deal near the end of spring training, finishing with a 3.35 ERA in 25 games (24 starts).

“It was the first time in the last couple of years that I was pitching pain-free, and that was a huge difference,” Cueto said Monday through an interpreter.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus arrived shortly after Anderson went on the IL and provided a spark at the top of the lineup.

There were mixed results in the bullpen, which was a focal point in free agency. Kendall Graveman had a 3.18 ERA, Joe Kelly had a 6.08 ERA and Jake Diekman, the only addition near the trade deadline, had a 6.52 ERA with the Sox. Hahn said the Sox were “disappointed” after not completing more moves at the deadline.

8. José Abreu found other ways to make an impact.

Abreu’s 15 homers were a career low. But he found other ways to aid the offense, finishing second in the AL with 183 hits and fifth in batting average at .304.

The 35-year-old is now a free agent.

“I’m hungry,” Abreu said. “I’m hungry for more baseball.”

9. Miguel Cairo made an impression.

The Sox went 18-16 after Cairo took over as acting manager on Aug. 30.

According to Elias, after Monday’s announcement of La Russa not returning in 2023, all the wins and losses since he left the team are credited to Cairo.

Hahn said Cairo will be among those interviewed for the opening.

“I feel really honored that they’re going to give me the chance to interview for the job,” Cairo said Monday. “We’ve got a great group of guys in there and I’m going to see what happens and go through the process.”

10. It will be an intriguing offseason.

After a year when a lot went wrong, the Sox have to figure out the best path back to the playoffs.

The focus begins with the managerial search. It also will be interesting to see the top priorities from a roster perspective.

“It was a disappointing year,” Hahn said. “We all need to get better in multiple facets. There needs to be operational and process /(improvements)/. Obviously manager and staff changes and personnel changes, we know that. My only point is, and it’s easy at the end of a disappointing season to say you’ve got to burn it to the ground. I think that’s not where we’re at as an organization.

“There’s a good amount of talent there. There’s talent that’s performed at an elite level. We’ve got to figure out a way to get them back to that level and augment accordingly.”

()

Herschel Walker’s Son Is No Hero

N.Y. Times - 1 hour 24 min ago
Christian Walker wants credit for calling out a sham campaign that he had participated in. But there are no laurels for him.

Bay Area arts: 7 shows and festivals to enjoy this weekend

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 31 min ago

There are a lot of amazing festivals and shows to see in the Bay Area this weekend. Here are a few that should be on your radar.

Lots to love at Litquake

Litquake, San Francisco’s popular annual literary festival, returns this week and the schedule, as always, looks spectacular.

The event’s gatherings, panel discussions and author appearances range from an evening with Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, the first woman mountaineer to conquer the legendary Eight Summits, and who has a new memoir out (Friday); a reading by Oakland novelist Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, whose new work “On the Rooftop” is set in the 1950s San Francisco Fillmore jazz scene (Friday); and an appearance by author, activist, educator and former Black Panther Party member Ericka Huggins (Wednesday).

Other events include Litquake Out Loud a celebration of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ writers’ scene; the always popular Poetry World Series, and a the iconic closing night Lit Crawl, a series of events staged at drinking establishments throughout the Mission.

In all, there are more than 100-plus events at notable and historic stages all around San Francisco, including the Valencia Room, Yerba Buena Gardens, Page Street Writers Cafe, the Italian Cultural Institute, Cafe Du Nord, Mothership, the S.F. Botanical Gardens, the Verdi Club, and many more.

Details: Tonight through Oct. 18; various times and locations in San Francisco; most events are free; tickets, a complete schedule and more information is at Litquake.org.

— Brittany Delay, Staff

Classical picks: SF Music Day, ‘Firebird’

Dozens of performances under one roof on a single day? That’s SF Music Day, returning this weekend. It tops the highlights of this week’s classical music calendar.

All in one place: There’s no other event quite like SF Music Day, which brings together artists throughout the region for a day of free performances in a single venue. This year’s installment — the organization’s 15th — features more than 25 local ensembles, including the Del Sol Quartet, Ninth Planet, the John Schott and William Winant Percussion Group, the Dynamic Miss Faye Carol and her Sextet, the Terrence Brewer and Marcus Shelby Duo, and Ensemble for These Times. Details: Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday; San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center; free; www.intermusicsf.org.

Salonen’s “Firebird”: Following his dazzling journey through San Francisco Symphony’s opening weekend and subsequent Mahler 2 performances, music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and the orchestra return with “The Firebird.” Stravinsky’s masterwork shares this weekend’s program with the U.S. premiere of Daniel Kidane’s “Sun Poem” (a S.F. Symphony commission), and Sibelius’ “Luonnotar,” with soprano Golda Schultz as soloist. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco; $20-$165; www.sfsymphony.org.

“Changing Tides” in Saratoga: The San Jose Wind Symphony returns this weekend with “Changing Tides,” a program featuring guest conductor Craig McKenzie leading a program of works by Holst, Vaughan Williams and others. Details: 3 p.m. Sunday; McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga; $17-$22; www.sjws.org.

— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent

sjDANCEco wraps up milestone season

For the final performances of its 20th anniversary season, sjDANCEco is getting by with a little help from its friends. Among the works in a program titled “Onward” being performed this weekend are those by three guest choreographers — Nhan Ho, Dominic Duong and Gabriel Mata — who are all former sjDANCEco members.

Those works include the world premiere of Ho’s “Threads,” set to music by  Michael Wall; Duong’s “Written in Calligraphy,” set to music by Eddie and Kiyoshi Yoshida, which the company debuted in 2016; and the company premiere of “Off White,” by Mata and Gary Chamip, set to music by Michael Wall.

The recital also includes the company premiere of Fred Matthews’ “Lunaris,” set to an electronic score by Ivo Malec and Bernard Parmegiani; a revival of Maria Basile’s “Path Reset,” set to music by David Crowell; an encore performance of “Between Tomorrow and Yesterday” by Gary Masters, set to music by Bay Area composer Anica Galindo; and the company premiere of an untitled work by Fred Strickler, set to Ravel’s “Sonatine.”

Details: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; California Theatre, San Jose; $25-$100; www.sjDANCEco.

— Randy McMullen, Staff

An ‘Indecent’ opener

San Francisco Playhouse is kicking off its new season by recalling a 1920s controversy that shook Broadway to its core.

We’re talking about Paula Vogel’s 2015 play “Indecent,” which recounts the furor that shook New York in 1923 when playwright Sholem Asch’s play “God of Vengeance” opened on Broadway. The play is about a Jewish brothel owner attempting to whitewash his business by feigning respectability within the Jewish faith. Although many warned Asch that the play, which included scenes dealing with prostitution and lesbianism, was inviting trouble, he kept promoting the work until it opened on Broadway. Soon after the entire cast, management team and owners of the theater were indicted on obscenity charges.

“Indecent,” by award-winning playwright Paula Vogel (who touched on other hot-button issues with “How I Learned to Drive”), recalls the Broadway controversy that erupted over the play, the artists who risked their careers (and lives) to perform it and the combination of money and politics that help govern what is considered fit for public entertainment. S.F. Playhouse, in collaboration with the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble, is presenting the Bay Area premiere of the play, directed by Susi Damilano and featuring a klezmer-fueled score performed live.

Details: Through Nov. 5; 450 Post St., San Francisco; $15-$100; www.sfplayhouse.org.

— Bay Area News Foundation

Happy birthday, Mr. Wainwright

With anyone else, releasing an album titled “Lifetime Achievement” might seem either egotistical or full of bitter self-mockery. But with Loudon Wainwright III it’s a matter-of-fact taking stock of his life, something he has done consistently during a storied career as one world’s top folk/Americana artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The inspiration of “Lifetime Achievement,” released earlier this year, was Wainwright turning 75 (he’s actually 76 now). As he is quoted in his Shore Fire Media biography: “I’ve kind of been obsessed with my numbers all the way along the line … I had ‘Watch Me Rock, I’m Over Thirty.’ I had a song, ‘The Birthday Present,’ that I sang a capella in a shower about hitting age 50. So 75 is a new number, but it’s just another number.”

Here are a few other numbers. He’s released 26 albums during his career, fathered three kids who are well-known musicians in their own right – Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche – and appeared in some 20 films and movies, ranging from “Ally McBeal” to the “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” (for which he also co-wrote the soundtrack), and was one of a gazillion young folkies in the 1970s to be dubbed “the new Bob Dylan” (but perhaps the only one to write a song making fun of it). Wainwright’s ample wit, songwriting ability and storytelling prowess will be on full display Friday when he brings his “Lifetime Achievement” tour to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Details: 8 p.m.; $30-$34; go to thefreight.org

Hans Niemann: Chess player accused of cheating 'not backing down'

BBC World News - 1 hour 34 min ago
After winning his US Championship match, Hans Niemann said his victory was "a message to everyone".

Facebook aided genocide in 2017 and fails to stop hate speech around the world: reports

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 36 min ago

A new human rights report accuses Facebook of aiding the 2017 genocide against Muslims in Myanmar, while other reports allege the Menlo Park company continues to allow its platform to spread dangerous disinformation and hate speech in other countries.

In the months and years leading up to what the U.S. has called a genocide by Myanmar’s military against Rohingya Muslims — that saw 9,000 killed and hundreds of thousands forced from the country — Facebook “became an echo chamber of virulent anti-Rohingya content,” Amnesty International alleged in a report last week.

“Actors linked to the Myanmar military and radical Buddhist nationalist groups systematically flooded the Facebook platform with incitement targeting the Rohingya, sowing disinformation regarding an impending Muslim takeover of the country and seeking to portray the Rohingya as sub-human invaders,” the report said, attacking the social media firm’s “wholly inadequate staffing of its Myanmar operations prior to 2017.”

Amnesty called those purported failures “symptomatic” of Facebook’s “broader failure” to adequately invest in content moderation in the developing world. Critics have for years lambasted Facebook, which according to the company’s most recent quarterly report had nearly 3 billion users worldwide, for its inability to effectively police content and enforce its own policies. In the U.S., Facebook has been criticized for allowing the spread of false news reports and disinformation in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election of former President Donald Trump.

Facebook, now overseen by parent company Meta, said it has made “voluntary, lawful data disclosures” for the United Nations’ investigation into the Myanmar atrocities and for The Gambia’s case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice.

“Our safety and integrity work in Myanmar remains guided by feedback from local civil society organizations and international institutions … as well as our ongoing human rights risk management,” said Rafael Frankel, a public policy director for Meta.

In three recent reports, Global Witness, a rights group headquartered in London, has taken aim at Facebook’s operations in other countries. Facebook did not immediately provide answers to questions about the Global Witness allegations.

In August, Global Witness alleged that Facebook “appallingly failed to detect election-related disinformation in ads” as the Oct. 2 Brazilian presidential election approached. Global Witness submitted 10 ads to Facebook, half with false election information including when and where to vote, and half “aiming to delegitimize the electoral process” through means such as casting doubt on electronic voting machines, it said.

The group deliberately violated several of Facebook’s election-integrity safeguards, including by failing to verify the account it used to place the ads, the group said. Facebook approved all of the ads, according to Global Witness, adding that it cancelled the ads before publication.

The election gave 48% of the votes to center-left former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and 43% to far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who had publicly questioned the country’s electoral system and the integrity of voting machines. A runoff is expected Oct. 30.

In Ethiopia, Global Witness found a dozen of the “worst examples” of hate speech posted on Facebook in the dominant Amharic language, it said in a June report. All had been reported previously to Facebook as violating policies, and the company had removed most of them, the group said. Global Witness submitted the 12 examples as ads, with four ads each targeting the country’s three main ethnic groups.

“The sentences used included violent speech that directly calls for people to be killed, starved or ‘cleansed’ from an area,” the group said in a report. “Several of them amount to a call for genocide.” All were approved, Global Witness alleged, adding that it cancelled them so they never appeared.

The group said it presented its findings to Facebook, which responded “that the ads shouldn’t have been approved and that they’ve invested heavily in safety measures in Ethiopia, adding more staff with local expertise and building their capacity to catch hateful and inflammatory content,” Global Witness said. The group then submitted another two hate-speech ads a week later. Both, according to the group, were accepted for publication “within a matter of hours.”

Since the conflict started in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, hundreds of thousands of people have died, millions have been displaced, and all sides have been accused of rape and torture.

Global Witness also ran an experiment this summer in Kenya, which has seen deadly violence around several elections. The group found 10 examples of hate speech and calls to ethnic violence used in Kenya since more than 1,000 people died in 2007 election-related violence, much of it ethnic based. With Kenya’s national elections approaching in early August, Global Witness submitted the hate speech as 20 ads, half in English and half in Swahili, including material “comparing specific tribal groups to animals and calling for rape, slaughter and beheading,” the group said. The Swahili ads were approved promptly, but the English ads were initially rejected for not complying with Facebook’s grammar and profanity policy, Global Witness said.

“Facebook invited us to update the ads, and after making minor corrections they were similarly accepted,” the group alleged.

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Global Witness informed Facebook of its findings, and Facebook put out a statement highlighting its work to remove harmful content ahead of the election. The group said it submitted another two hate-speech ads, and Facebook approved them.

Kenya’s human-rights commission chair Roseline Odede said last week there had been fewer human rights violations around the August elections, but that there had been four deaths and 49 cases of assault, harassment and intimidation.

Jeff McNeil beats Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman to win batting title

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 41 min ago

With Jeff McNeil leading the National League and the entire league with a .326 average, the Mets opted not to play their infielder/outfielder, instead letting him rest ahead of the postseason matchup against the San Diego Padres. As it turns out, he won the batting title anyway.

Freddie Freeman of the Los Angeles Dodgers went 3-for-4 on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies to finish just one point behind him in the NL and the overall MLB standings. The Mets took a gamble on the numbers knowing Freeman would need to go 4-for-4 at minimum and it paid off.

Mets manager Buck Showalter said before Wednesday’s game against the Nationals that sitting McNeil was own his decision and didn’t want to leave the decision on to the player.

McNeil, a two-time All-Star, becomes just the second player from the Mets to win a batting title and the first since Jose Reyes in 2011. When Reyes won the award, he slashed .337/.384/.493.

A left-handed hitter who moves up and down the lineup, McNeil will finish the regular season with a slashline of .326/.382/.454 with nine home runs.

The player they call “Squirrel” ended the season on a tear, riding a 10-game hitting streak. He’s gone 20-for-43 (.465) in that span, with two doubles, two home runs, four RBI and nine runs scored.

McNeil also made his second All-Star Game appearance this season. He represented the Mets for the first time at the game in 2019.

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Drought brings famine, death and fear to Somalia

San Jose Mercury - 1 hour 54 min ago

By Cara Anna | Associated Press

DOLLOW, Somalia — A man in a donkey cart comes wheeling through the dust, carrying two small, silent boys. The sky is overcast. It could rain. It won’t. It hasn’t for a very long time.

Mohamed Ahmed Diriye is 60 years old, and he’s completing the grimmest journey of his life. He set off from a seaside city on the northern edge of Somalia two weeks ago. People were dying. Livestock were dying. He decided to abandon work as a day laborer and flee to the other end of the country, crossing a landscape of carcasses and Islamic extremist-held territory along the way.

Seven hundred miles later, he is exhausted. The food has run out. He clutches a battered stick in one hand, the nearly empty cart in the other. His boys are just 4 and 5.

They had tried to escape, Diriye says. “But we came across the same drought here.”

More than 1 million Somalis have fled and discovered that, too.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

In Somalia, a nation of poets, droughts are named for the kind of pain they bring. There was Prolonged in the 1970s, Cattle Killer in the 1980s, Equal five years ago for its reach across the country. A decade ago, there was Famine, which killed a quarter-million people.

Somalis say the current drought is worse than any they can remember. It doesn’t yet have a name. Diriye, who believes no one can survive in some of the places he traveled, suggests one without hesitation: White Bone.

This drought has astonished resilient herders and farmers by lasting four failed rainy seasons, starting two years ago. The fifth season is underway and likely will fail too, along with the sixth early next year.

A rare famine declaration could be made as soon as this month, the first significant one anywhere in the world since Somalia’s famine a decade ago. Thousands of people have died, including nearly 900 children under 5 being treated for malnutrition, according to United Nations data. The U.N. says half a million such children are at risk of death, “a number, a pending nightmare, we have not seen this century.”

As the world is gripped by food insecurity, Somalia, a country of 15 million people shaking off its past as a failed state, can be considered the end of the line. The nation of proud pastoralists that has survived generations of drought now stumbles amid several global crises descending at once.

They include climate change, with some of the harshest effects of warming felt in Africa. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which stalled ships carrying enough grain to feed hundreds of millions of people. A drop in humanitarian donations, as the world shifted focus to the war in Ukraine. One of the world’s deadliest Islamic extremist groups, which limits the delivery of aid.

The Associated Press spoke with a dozen people in rapidly growing displacement camps during a visit to southern Somalia in late September. All say they’ve received little aid, or none. A day’s meal might be plain rice or just black tea. Many camp residents, overwhelmingly women and children, beg from neighbors, or go to sleep hungry.

Mothers walk for days or weeks through bare landscapes in search of help, at times finding that the withered, feverish child strapped to them has died along the way.

“We’d grieve, stop for a while, pray,” Adego Abdinur says. “We’d bury them beside the road.”

She holds her naked 1-year-old in front of her new home, a fragile hut of plastic sacks and fabric lashed together with cord and stripped branches. It’s one of hundreds scattered over the dry land. Behind a thorn barrier marking her hut from another, giggling children pour cherished water from a plastic jug into their hands, sipping and spitting in delight.

The home the 28-year-old Abdinur left was far superior — a farm of maize and dozens of livestock in the community where she was born and raised. The family was self-sufficient. Then the water dried up, and their four-legged wealth began to die.

“When we lost the last goat, we realized there was no way to survive,” Abdinur says. She and her six children walked 300 kilometers (186 miles) here, following rumors of assistance along with thousands of other people on the move.

“We have seen so many children dying because of hunger,” she says.

At the heart of this crisis, in areas where famine likely will be declared, is an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaida. An estimated 740,000 of the drought’s most desperate people live in areas under the control of the al-Shabab extremists. To survive, they must escape.

Al-Shabab’s grip on large parts of southern and central Somalia was a major contributor to deaths in the 2011 famine. Much aid wasn’t let into its areas, and many starving people weren’t let out. Somalia’s president, who has survived three al-Shabab attempts on his life, has described the group as “mafia shrouded with Islam.” But his government has urged it to have mercy now.

In a surprise comment on the drought in late September, al-Shabab called it a test from Allah, “a result of our sins and wrongdoings.” Spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage claimed that the extremists had offered food, water and free medical treatment to more than 47,000 drought-affected people since last year.

But in rare accounts of life inside al-Shabab-held areas, several people who fled told the AP they had seen no such aid. Instead, they said, the extremists continue their harsh taxation of families’ crops and livestock even as they withered and died. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

One woman says al-Shabab taxed up to 50% of her family’s meager harvest: “They don’t care whether people are left with anything.”

Some flee their communities at night to escape the fighters’ attention, with men and even young boys often being forbidden to leave. One woman says no one from her community was allowed to leave, and people who received assistance from the outside would be attacked. Weeks ago, she says, al-Shabab killed a relative who had managed to take a sick parent to a government-held city and then returned.

Those who escaped al-Shabab now cling to a bare existence. As what should be the rainy season arrives, they wake in camps under a purple sky, or a gray one offering the tiniest specks of moisture.

Children send up kites, adults their prayers. Black smoke rises in the distance as some farmers clear land just in case.

In the only treatment center for the most severely malnourished in the immediate region, 1-year-old Hamdi Yusuf is another sign of hope.

She was little more than bones and skin when her mother found her unconscious, two months after arriving in the camps and living on scraps of food offered by neighbors. “The child was not even alive,” recalls Abdikadir Ali Abdi, acting nutrition officer with the aid group Trocaire, which runs the center of 16 beds and has more patients than they can hold.

Now the girl is revived, slumped over her mother’s arm but blinking. Her tiny toes twitch. A wrist is bandaged to stop her from pulling out the port for a feeding tube.

The ready-to-use therapeutic food so crucial to the recovery of children like her could run out in the coming weeks, Abdi says. Humanitarian workers describe having to take limited resources from the hungry in Somalia to treat the starving, complicating efforts to get ahead of the drought.

The girl’s mother, 18-year-old Muslima Ibrahim, anxiously rubs her daughter’s tiny fingers. She has saved her only child, but survival will require the kind of support she still hasn’t seen.
“We received a food distribution yesterday,” Ibrahim says. “It was the first since we arrived.”

Food is hard to come by everywhere. At midday, dozens of hungry children from the camps try to slip into a local primary school where the World Food Program offers a rare lunch program for students. They are almost always turned away by school workers.

Mothers recall having to eat their stockpiles of grain and selling their few remaining goats to afford the journey from the homes and lives they loved. Many had never left until now.

“I miss fresh camel milk. We love it,” says 29-year-old Nimco Abdi Adan, smiling at the memory. She hasn’t tasted it for two years.

Residents outside the camps feel the growing desperation. Shopkeeper Khadija Abdi Ibrahim, 60, now keeps her goats, sheep and cattle alive by buying precious grain, grinding it and using it as fodder. She says the price of cooking oil and other items has doubled since last year, making it more difficult for displaced people to obtain food with vouchers handed out by WFP.

Hundreds of families continue to emerge from the empty horizon across Somalia, bringing little but grief. The true toll of dead is unknown, but people at two of the country’s many displacement camps in the hardest hit city, Baidoa, say over 300 children have died in the last three months in rural areas, according to aid organization Islamic Relief.

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One day in mid-September, 29-year-old Fartum Issack and her husband carried a small body along a dusty track to a graveyard. Their 1-year-old daughter had arrived at camp sick and hungry. She was rushed for treatment, but it was too late.

The graveyard opened in April especially for the newly displaced people. It already had 13 graves, seven of them for children. There’s easily room for hundreds more.

Issack and her husband chose to bury their daughter in the middle of the empty ground.

“We wanted to easily recognize her,” Issack says.

At the camp, eight other hungry daughters are waiting.

Associated Press writer Omar Faruk in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed.

Jerry Vainisi, general manager of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX championship team, dies at 80

San Jose Mercury - 2 hours 26 sec ago

Former Chicago Bears executive Jerry Vainisi, the general manager when the team won Super Bowl XX in January 1986, died Tuesday at age 80.

Vainisi served as Bears GM for four seasons, promoted to that post by franchise founder and owner George Halas in summer 1983. The team confirmed Vainisi’s death Wednesday evening.

Vainisi remained in that role through the end of the 1986 season, and during that span, under the guidance of coach Mike Ditka, the Bears won 52 games and four NFC Central championships and put together an iconic season in 1985. They went 15-1 during the regular season, then steamrolled three opponents in the postseason by a combined score of 91-10 en route to their only Super Bowl title and first NFL championship since 1963.

Vainisi’s exit from Halas Hall came after the Bears suffered a 27-13 home loss to the Washington Redskins in their playoff opener after the 1986 season. After a 14-2 regular season, the Bears started Doug Flutie at quarterback in the playoff game. That became a hot-button issue at Halas Hall and was partly behind then-President Michael McCaskey’s push to replace Vainisi.

Flutie, whom the team traded for just 12 weeks earlier, had started only one game for the Bears before that playoff game and went 11-for-31 for 134 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions in the season-ending loss to the Redskins.

Before his tenure as GM, Vainisi was with the Bears for 11 years, serving on the team’s board of directors in addition to serving as controller, treasurer and in-house counsel.

After leaving the Bears, Vainisi spent three seasons as vice president of player personnel for the Detroit Lions before working in operations for what started as the World League of American Football and later was retagged NFL Europe. Vainisi was with the Lions in 1989 when they used the No. 3 pick to draft Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

In 2010, Vainisi was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. In 1999 he became president and sole owner of Forest Park Bank and also served as its chairman and CEO.

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