Nation & World News

Is It Too Early To Call Madison Bumgarner A Legend?

By Sam Sanders on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm

By the looks of the Internet today, no — it’s not too early at all. Last night, the San Francisco Giants pitcher delivered a performance that many are calling legendary, as the Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the World Series. Even NPR’s Tom Goldman said Bumgarner’s performance was “one of the greatest ever.” And the guy’s only 25; he might not have even reached his prime yet.

Head over to the MLB homepage and you’ll see the words, “The World’s greatest?” followed by Bumgarner’s nickname, MadBum.

Here’s the New York Times’ take:

Now he belongs to history, alongside Christy Mathewson and Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson. The pantheon of World Series pitching greats must welcome a new member. Madison Bumgarner burst into the club with a performance for the ages in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday.

There’s justification to this hype. Bumgarner’s 0.43 earned runs average for the Series is outrageously low. The only run he gave up was a meaningless solo homer in Game 1, when the Giants were already up by seven. Then, after tossing 117 pitches in a complete game shutout of the Royals on Sunday night, he only took two days off before delivering a masterful five innings as a reliever last night to secure the win for the Giants.

Twitter was alive with colorful commentary on just how much adoration Fox announcer Joe Buck showered upon the pitcher during the entire series.

Many commentators have compared Bumgarner’s performance to that of Randy Johnson, who pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Johnson got two wins, and then came in for a crucial inning of relief in Game 7 after having just pitched seven innings the night before.

Sports Illustrated called Bumgarner “scintillating.” Michael Rosenberg said of the pitcher that “as much as any player in a generation, Bumgarner was the reason his team won the World Series.”

The San Fransisco Chronicle called him “the man who owns the World Series.” And then there was this nugget: “Like the gunslinger in a spaghetti Western, Bumgarner unstrapped his arm from its holster and the opposition faded away into the night.”

So, what’s next for the golden boy World Series MVP? Well, his contract isn’t up until 2017, so the Giants have a few more years to enjoy one really great, really young pitcher. But Sports Illustrated doesn’t think he’s the greatest just yet. They ranked his 21 innings only number five on a list of best World Series pitching performances.

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Eric Frein, Suspected Of Killing Pennsylvania Trooper, In Custody

By Eyder Peralta on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 31, 2014 at 1:41 am

Eric Frein, the suspect wanted in the shooting death of a state trooper and the wounding of another officer at a police barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, is now in police custody, Pennsylvania State Police said on Thursday.

His capture marks the end of a month-long, intensive manhunt in the Pocono Mountains.

As we reported back in September, Frein, 31, was described by police as a “survivalist,” who had expressed interest in killing law enforcement officers and committing acts of mass murder.

CNN reports the manhunt involved as many as 1,000 law enforcement officers and cost several million dollars.

Tpr. Connie Devens, a public information officer for Pennsylvania State Police, confirmed his capture via email, adding that they would not be releasing further information at this time.

Quoting “a senior law enforcement” official, NBC News reports Frein was “captured in a hangar at Pocono Mountain Airport in Mount Pocono.”

Throughout the manhunt, NBC reports, police had found “a diary entry, his AK-47, two homemade pipe bombs and several campsites.”

NBC adds:

“In the diary, Frein — a military reenactment buff and survivalist — described how he fled in his Jeep but got only a half-mile before he encountered a roadblock.

” ‘Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it,’ he wrote in an entry dated Sept. 12. ‘He dropped. I was surprised at how quick. I took a follow-up shot on his head, neck area. He was still and quiet after that.

” ‘Another cop approached the one I just shot,’ Frein continued. ‘As he went to kneel, I took a shot at him and jumped in the door. His legs were visible and still.’ ”

Update on Oct. 31 at 1:15 a.m. ET. Details On Charges And Arrest:

In a news conference Thursday night, Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he intends to seek the death penalty.

“Among these charges, being murder in the first degree and homicide of a law enforcement officer, are capital offenses,” he said.

Authorities say Frein was found in good health, NPR’s Jeff Brady tells our Newscast Desk, “despite having lived in the woods since the shooting.”

The Pennsylvania Morning Call has more on the arrest:

“Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service captured Frein without incident in a field by an old air strip in the Poconos, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said at an 11 p.m. news conference. Authorities wrapped the handcuffs of the fallen trooper on Frein, and took him in the slain [trooper's] squad car to the Blooming Grove State Police Barracks in Pike County, site of the Sept. 12 ambush in which Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, was killed and Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was wounded.”

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Red Cross Responds To NPR/ProPublica Report On Storm Response Inefficiencies

By Alicia Cypress on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm

This week, NPR and ProPublica have been reporting on the Red Cross response in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Isaac and other major storms.

Multiple internal documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica along with interviews with top Red Cross officials reveal an organization that struggled to meet the basic needs of victims in the first weeks after the storm. The documents and interviews also depict an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity’s ability to provide disaster services.

But PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill reports that the Red Cross says the investigation is “distorted and inaccurate.”

In an on-air interview, Suzy DeFrancis, the Red Cross’ chief public affairs officer, says:

“We know that a disaster, by definition, something is going wrong. And you’re pulling together a whole bunch of volunteers who may not have always worked together. But you’re trying to get food and relief to people. And, of course, there are going to be problems. But the reason that you look at it is so you can find them and fix them and make sure they don’t occur again.”

Watch the full interview here or read the transcript on PBS.org.

Alicia Cypress is the digital editor for NPR’s Investigations team.

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Sweden Recognizes Palestine, Drawing Sharp Israeli Criticism

By Krishnadev Calamur on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Sweden today recognized Palestine, just weeks after incoming Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said his government would become the first major European nation to make the move.

In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry recalled Isaac Bachman, its ambassador to Sweden, for consultations. The Haaretz newspaper cited an unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying Bachman would remain in Jerusalem until further notice and that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was considering downgrading relations with Sweden.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom described the recall as a maneuver that “is part of the diplomatic tool kit.”

“I am convinced that both our countries have an interest in maintaining and strengthening our good bilateral ties,” Wallstrom said.

Her comments were reported by The Associated Press.

Lieberman called Sweden’s decision “very unfortunate,” adding: “The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from Ikea that you assemble at home, and [Sweden] should act with responsibility and sensitivity.”

Wallstrom responded to that barb with this quip: “I will be happy to send Israel FM Lieberman an Ikea flat pack to assemble. He’ll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual.”

Today’s move by Sweden places the Scandinavian nation among more than 100 others that recognize a Palestinian state. Most Western nations still don’t recognize Palestine, and many said they don’t plan to follow Sweden. EU member states — such as Hungary and Poland — that do recognize a Palestinian state did so before they joined the bloc.

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Thomas Menino, Boston’s Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies At 71

By Scott Neuman on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Boston’s longest-serving mayor, Thomas Michael Menino, who held the job for more than two decades until stepping aside earlier this year, has died. He was 71.

“At just after 9 a.m. this morning the Honorable Thomas M. Menino passed into eternal rest after a courageous battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his devoted wife Angela, loving family and friends,” Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said in a statement.

Menino, who was diagnosed with cancer just a month after leaving office, “rode the support of minority communities, labor and others to election in 1993 after serving as acting mayor, ending decades of Irish domination in city politics,” according to The Associated Press.

The Boston Globe called him “an old-school politician whose own smarts owed more to the streets than the college classroom.”

” ‘Visionaries don’t get things done,’ he once said, crisply separating himself from politicians who gaze at distant horizons and imagine what might be. Leaving to others the lofty rhetoric of Boston as the Athens of America, he took a decidedly ground-level view of the city on a hill, earning himself a nickname for his intense focus on the nuts and bolts of everyday life: the urban mechanic.”

Member station WBUR in Boston reports:

“He could be hard-nosed in pushing for what he felt was needed, including times during his last term, when he was determined to wield the power of his office, even if from a wheelchair.

“Nowhere was that more obvious than during one of the darkest weeks in Boston’s history.

“On April 15, 2013, twin explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon claimed the lives of three people, crippled and maimed dozens more, sending scores to Boston-area hospitals, including the Brigham and Women’s where Menino himself was a patient.

“Days later, after being wheeled to the podium by his son Tommy Jr., Menino valiantly stood up, joining President Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick and 2,000 other mourners at a memorial service at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross.”

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New Crash Test Dummy To Gain Pounds To Reflect Fatalities Among Obese

By Krishnadev Calamur on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 3:43 pm

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and one recent study showed that obese drivers are more likely to die in a car crash. So the world’s largest maker of dummies is making one that is obese.

“Obese occupants are up to 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash than an average weight driver,” Humanetics President and CEO Christopher O’Connor told Crash Test Technology International, a trade publication. “Having a body mass index of 35-39.9 percent increases your risk of death by 51 percent.”

O’Connor said Humanetics is making an obese crash test dummy that weighs about 271 pounds and has a BMI of 35 that can measure belt and airbag loads generated during crashes. He said a prototype dummy was used in August to evaluate sleds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as obese a person who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 203 pounds or more, with a BMI of 30 or higher.

In an interview with CNN, O’Connor said the reason for the increased fatality rate is the way we get fat.

“We get fat in our middle range,” he said. “And we get out of position in a typical seat.”

Traditional crash test dummies weigh about 167 pounds, and automakers must use the dummies to prove their vehicles are safe before being sold in the U.S. and Europe.

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GDP Posts Strong 3.5 Percent Growth Rate In 3rd Quarter

By Scott Neuman on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

The U.S. economy grew at the solid pace of 3.5 percent for the third quarter, helped along by gains in business investment, exports and a big jump in military spending, the Commerce Department says.

The latest GDP number for the July-to-September period was better than economists had expected. It follows a 4.6 percent jump for the April-to-June quarter (originally reported as a 4 percent rate increase but later revised upward.)

By contrast, the economy shrank at a 2.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year as a result of a harsh winter.

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said in a statement:

“The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.”

According to The Associated Press:

“Analysts believe the economy is maintaining momentum in the current quarter, with a big fall in gas prices expected to bolster consumer spending. After the roller-coaster first- and second-quarter gyrations, the economy is poised to achieve consistently stronger growth for the rest of this year and all of 2015.”

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Palestinians Condemn Closure Of Disputed Religious Site In Jerusalem

By Krishnadev Calamur on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Updated at 2:55 p.m.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the closing of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount for the first time since 2000, calling it a “declaration of war” on the Palestinians.

“Harming the places sacred to Muslims and Christians is a red line,” Abbas’ spokesman said. The spokesman added that Abbas would “not permit this line to be crossed.” The comments were reported by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

Israel closed the compound, which houses Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, after an assassination attempt late Wednesday against Yehuda Glick, a right-wing activist who wants Jews to be able to pray there. Glick was seriously wounded. The suspected gunman, a Palestinian identified as Moataz Hijazi, was shot dead Thursday.

Israeli police said late Thursday that the complex would reopen Friday, which Palestinians have called a “day of rage.” Israeli police said the prayers would be restricted to men over the age of 50 and women of all ages, Haaretz reported.

Jews consider the Temple Mount sacred because it once housed the First and Second Temples. Jews can visit the site but cannot pray there.

The Associated Press provides background:

“The Temple Mount has been a flashpoint for violence in recent months and has been fraught lately with clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police. … Israel maintains that it allows free prayer to all, but Palestinians claim it [Israel] is unilaterally widening access to accommodate larger numbers of Jewish worshippers. The Palestinians see this as Jewish encroachment on the site, the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, while Jewish activists like Glick say they are being discriminated against by limiting their chances to pray atop the mount.”

The Temple Mount was last closed to all visitors following a visit in 2000 by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The violence that followed led to the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted until 2005. Before that, it was previously closed completely in 1967.

Haaretz reported that Jerusalem was on high alert following Wednesday’s attack, and hundreds of police were sent into the city as reinforcements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm.

“First of all, the flames must be lowered,” he said. “No one on either side should take the law into his own hands. We need to act now with cool heads, responsibility and determination, and that is what we shall do.”

The Israeli leader also criticized Abbas, the Palestinian president, saying: “We’re facing a wave of incitement by radical Islamic elements as well as by the Palestinian Authority chairman … who said that Jews must absolutely be prevented from going onto the Temple Mount.” The AP adds that Abbas recently called for Jews to be prevented from entering the site, calling them “a herd of cattle.”

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Book News: Remembering Poet Galway Kinnell, Whose Song Said Everything

By Colin Dwyer on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

When Galway Kinnell accepted the post of Vermont’s State Poet in 1989, the honor didn’t come without a bit of polite disagreement. No writer had occupied the post since Robert Frost more than 25 years earlier, and with the revival came also a desire among some to change its name — from “state poet” to something more august, something along the lines of, say, laureate.

Kinnell would have none of it. If “state poet” had been good enough for Robert Frost, it was good enough for him, he contended at the time. And besides, Kinnell said, he regarded the post as being much like that of the state bird: as an honor that obliged them both to sing.

Kinnell died Tuesday at age 87 in his home in Sheffield, Vt., and he leaves behind a legacy of song — some five decades of verse that appealed to a range of readers who had been put off by the modernist movements that came before him.

During a career that spanned more than a dozen books, a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, Kinnell devoted his lines to difficult questions of death and family, dwelling as often on the ugly as on the beautiful. Yet he did so always in everyday language that belied the dexterity of the writer behind it.

In his public life, Kinnell never shied from political activism. In the 1960s, he was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and a field worker for the Congress of Racial Equality. More recently, he protested against U.S. military involvement in Iraq. Along the way, he was a near-constant presence at poetry readings throughout Vermont and in Manhattan, where he taught at New York University.

“He was a giant in many ways; his power to reach deep into the human condition was equaled by his ability to see beyond it,” said Bruce Nichols, Kinnell’s publisher at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “His mission to write poetry that could be understood by and connect to a broader readership created and lifted up generations of poetry readers and, without question, will continue to do so through the ages.”

It is perhaps inevitable that Kinnell’s poetry should be compared with that of Walt Whitman. Kinnell edited a collection of Whitman’s poetry, after all, and occasionally invoked some of the poet’s best-known lines in poems of his own. But beyond these explicit connections, Kinnell’s work often carried the tune of Whitman’s “Song of Myself” — a song that, in its frank simplicity, aspires to be sung by everyone.

Speaking to NPR, his friend and fellow poet Carolyn Forche recalled not just Kinnell’s talent but also his generosity. She said Kinnell encouraged her writing back when she was a student, and that he later read the Biblical “Song of Songs” at her wedding.

“He taught me both silence and to say everything,” Forche said. “His poems led me to mine. He was a great poet, yes, but also a kind and gentle human being who knew, as he wrote in his poem ‘Another Night in the Ruins,’ ‘that for us / as we go up in flames, our own work/ is / to open ourselves, to be / the flames.’ ”

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Maine’s Gov. Threatens Legal Action To Force Nurse Into Quarantine

By Scott Neuman on October 30th, 2014 | Last updated: October 30, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Hours after Kaci Hickox defiantly breached a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola by going on a bike ride, Gov. Paul LePage threatened to use “the full extent” of his authority to compel the nurse to remain in isolation.

“I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of healthcare workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected,” LePage said in a statement.

The statement added: “As a result of the failed effort to reach an agreement, the Governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law.
Maine statutes provide robust authority to the State to use legal measures to address threats to public health.”

Hickox, 33, has repeatedly refused to go into isolation since returning to the U.S. from Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, where she was working for the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders. She has tested negative for the virus and says she is asymptomatic.

Early this morning, she and her boyfriend, Theodore Wilbur, pedaled down a rural road near their home in Fort Kent.

“This could be resolved today,” the governor said on ABC News this morning. “She has been exposed and she’s not cooperative, so force her to take a test. It’s so simple.”

LePage told ABC that he has stationed a state police car outside the home where Hickox is staying. He said the nurse has the town “scared to death.”

The Associated Press writes:

“Police were monitoring her movements and public interactions but couldn’t detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

“Hickox contends there’s no need for quarantine because she’s showing no symptoms. She’s also tested negative for the deadly disease.

” ‘I really hope that we can work things out amicably and continue to negotiate,’ she said Thursday morning while riding on a dirt trail.”

After returning to the U.S. over the weekend, she blasted New Jersey officials for confining her. When they discharged her earlier this week, she returned to Maine, where she was asked to self-quarantine.

In television interviews Wednesday, she vowed not to stick to guidelines.

In a statement on Thursday, the president of the American Nurses Association, Pamela Cipriano, defended Hickox, saying that “based on the best available scientific evidence” she “poses no public threat” and should not be confined to her home.

“ANA supports a policy of appropriate monitoring for health care workers who have cared for or been in contact with patients with Ebola. Those who are not exhibiting symptoms of illness consistent with Ebola do not require quarantine,” Cipriano said.

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