DHNET.BE | Créer un Blog | Avertir le modérateur


With A.J. Burnett set to take mound, Yankees put on game face

New York – The Yankees' future in post-season play is now in the right hand of A.J. Burnett, after Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers spanked the "Bronx Bombers" 8-0 on Monday night in the third game of the American League Championship Series.

For the Yankees, that is a scary ^aEUR" almost a Halloween type of proposition ^aEUR" because Burnett has been one of the worst pitchers in the American League in the second half of the season.

He lost the last six of his regular season games and compiled a 5.83 earned run average - well above his past efforts. He is now greeted with boos when he walks to the mound in his home stadium.

Burnett says he is not paying attention to any of the adverse comments about his performance. "I don't dig into it too much, but I do go off with everyday people that I meet at breakfast and lunch and stuff and it's been nothing but positive towards me."

So far, he's getting warm and fuzzy thoughts from his manager, as well. "We all know what A.J. can dial up, and we believe in him," says Joe Girardi, the Yankee manager, who reaffirmed on Monday night that Burnett would be pitching. But with the Yankees down two games to one in the American League Championship Series, Girardi is expected to temper his belief with a quick hook if Burnett gets into trouble.

One positive thing for the Yankees on Wednesday is that they will not be facing Cliff Lee, the Texas southpaw who struck out 13 Yankee batters and gave up only two hits. Instead, they come up against Tommy Hunter, a young pitcher who does not have the same repertoire as Lee.

Lee, in a dominant performance, pitched eight shutout innings Monday night, striking out 13. He gave up only two hits, keeping the Yankees from becoming any kind of threat. He changed speeds, fooling hitters, and consistently kept his pitches away from the middle of the plate.

"Cliff was great tonight, to say the least. He was just outstanding," said Andy Pettitte, the losing pitcher for the Yankees. "I haven't seen too many games like that."

Lee says he is just doing what he has done all year. "I throw strikes, I see how they swing and make adjustments on the fly," he says. "It's a game of never ending adjustments. That's the game."

Pettitte became the losing pitcher after giving up a home run to Texas slugger Josh Hamilton with a man on base. "It was a bad pitch by me," he said.

That home run, said Lee, helped give him confidence. ^aEURoeSome runs in the first is huge. It sets the tone early,^aEUR

Most of the rest of the Texas runs came late in the game when the Yankee bullpen imploded, giving up six runs.

But it was the Yankee offense that was stifled. Their only hits were a bloop single by Jorge Posada and a solid single by Brett Gardner, who then stole second base.

Girardi says he's confident his team will resume its winning ways. "We're a good club," he said in the postgame press conference. "You play a good game tomorrow and you feel a little different."

Hitchens v. Ramadan debate: Can Islam - or any faith - be called a 'religion of peace?'

Is Islam a religion of peace? Last night, Christopher Hitchens took on Tariq Ramadan in a spirited debate at 92nd Street Y on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, 110 blocks north of the proposed mosque in Lower Manhattan that helped turned the summer of 2010 into an angry national discussion on that very topic.

Hitchens and Ramadan have met previously — you can read Hitchens’s account of a past encounter— and both of their answers to the question have been well documented. Spoiler alert: Hitchens says “no”; Ramadan says “yes.” Last night the two men sat on either side of moderator Laurie Goodstein, religion reporter at the New York Times, who gave an elegant introduction, kept everyone within some rough time limits, but otherwise mostly stayed out the debaters’ way. The event was simulcast in Colorado, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago, and West Nyack, N.Y.

Ramadan is a Swiss public intellectual and the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the radical Egyptian political group the Muslim Brotherhood. A defender of contemporary Islam, his stance is that serious Islam is not incompatible with Western civilization. In 2004, as Ramadan was preparing to become a religion professor at the University of Notre Dame, the Bush administration revoked his American visa under a section of the Patriot Act that allows the barring of foreign citizens who “use a position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.” Now a professor at Oxford and allowed to enter the U.S. as of this spring, he has remained a polarizing figure for the both the left and the right.

Hitchens, a prolific polemicist, is well known as an atheist and enemy of all religious practice, as well as a fluid writer on a stunningly wide variety of other political and cultural topics. Last night, Hitchens was completely bald from recent treatments for awith esophageal cancer, but there was no other sign of weakness in him. He has the zeal and outsize self-assurance of a convert.

For much of the night it was hard to tell if Hitchens’s target was Islam or religion as a whole. His opening statement — after a semi-sarcastic “As-salamu alaikum” and “Shalom” — swiftly rejected the debate’s primary question by announcing that “There’s no such thing as a religion of peace, by definition.” The statement ended with the crowd-pleasing conclusion that “The only way to moral or intellectual satisfaction comes to those who are willing to take the great risk of thinking for themselves” — which in Hitchens’s view can only lead to a rejection of religion.

Ramadan disputed Hitchens’s characterization of Islam as essentially authoritarian. “The problem isn’t the book,” he said. “The problem is the reader.”

True enough, Hitchens parried. When he reads holy books, he said, “I can’t tell if this book is the word of God, but I can hope that today was a bad day for God.” When the audience laughed and clapped, he congratulated them for living in a country in which such a jest would be greeted with laughter and clapping rather than violence. This could have kicked off an endless loop of self-congratulatory laughter and clapping, but the moment faded.

Instead he breezed through a litany of offenses perpetrated on Western society by Islamist radicals, including the fact that Yale University Press declined to publish the controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed for fear of a violent reaction. He mentioned the Hamas’s publication of the vile “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” on its website, the destruction of the Golden Dome in Iraq, and American fears of Muslim blow-back against the planned Koran-burning held by a “Christian nutbag” in Florida last month.

While Hitchens wants to toss Islam (and other organized religion) into the dustbin of history, Ramadan said he wants to preserve it by pressing for reform from within. The problem is not Islam, he reiterated, but some of its practitioners. “Islam is dealing with human beings,” he said, “and if you deal with human beings you deal with violence.” Thus he defends the Palestinian “resistance” while condemning violence. When he mentioned a European cleric with 40 million followers who regularly condones suicide bombing of targets including Israeli women and children, he again condemned the violence but insisted on being able to engage with the cleric on other topics. His response to Hitchens’s damning list of violent acts was that those incidences are not about religion, but about the “political instrumentalization” of ill will harbored against the west.

Though Ramadan is right that it’s nearly impossible to separate some essential nature of a religion from the politically and culturally driven actions of its current followers, two things were going on during the debate that made his response feel unsatisfactory. During the whole event, two NYPD policemen stood silently in uniform in the back of the room; a security guard told me as the audience trickled from the theater that it was a “precautionary measure.” And meanwhile on television, at the exact hour of the debate, millions of Americans watching the Fox musical comedy “Glee” saw a high-school quarterback bite into a grilled cheese sandwich emblazoned with an image of Jesus and pronounce it “super delicious.” This morning, the streets are calm.

Read more stories from The Daily Caller


Rockers blasted over Indonesia tobacco deal

JAKARTA (AFP) – Australian, British and US rock bands including The Smashing Pumpkins and Stereophonics have been urged to withdraw from a music festival in Indonesia because of its tobacco sponsorship.

Anti-tobacco activists and health experts from Australia, the United States and Wales have expressed their concern that the bands' actions will encourage youths to smoke in a country with high and rising addiction rates.

The country of some 240 million people is one of the last lightly-regulated major tobacco markets in the world and is paying the price in terms of growing rates of addiction, especially among women and children.

Its reputation as the wild west of tobacco control was graphically illustrated earlier this year with the release of a video on the Internet of a two-year-old Javanese boy with a 40-cigarette-a-day habit.

The Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said it had written to US bands The Smashing Pumpkins, MUTEMATH and Dashboard Confessional asking them to cancel their appearances at the Java Rockin'Land festival next month.

"As long as this event is sponsored by a tobacco company, any band that participates should know that it is helping market cigarettes to children," Campaign president Matthew L. Myers said.

"If these bands reject tobacco sponsorship, they can send a powerful message that they care about the health of the world?s children and will not allow their name and talent to be used to market deadly tobacco products."

In Australia, health experts have accused local bands The Vines and Wolfmother of ignoring the connection between tobacco marketing and smoking-related deaths.

"Tobacco industry marketing is a key factor in what is killing people from tobacco-caused disease -- about six million a year in fact," Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman of the University of Sydney's School of Public Health wrote in an article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's website.

Indonesia has "virtually no tobacco control policies", making it a "tobacco industry paradise where publicity for music festivals like the one Wolfmother and The Vines will participate in wallpaper the country's media," they said.

In Britain, anti-smoking group Ash Wales has similarly condemned Welsh band Stereophonics for agreeing to play at the October 8 to 10 festival in Jakarta.

"We urge the Stereophonics to demand the withdrawal of tobacco sponsorship and any associated branding from the festival or alternatively to pull out," Ash Wales chief executive Tanya Buchanan told Wales Online website Tuesday.

"If the Stereophonics go ahead with a tobacco-sponsored concert they are, by choice, being spokespeople for the tobacco industry and helping them to market to children."

In all, 14 foreign bands are scheduled to play at the festival, along with a host of local acts. Advertising for the event includes cigarette branding and tickets are being sold at a discount to students.

The festival, billed as the biggest in Southeast Asia, is being sponsored by Gudang Garam, a major Indonesian producer of clove cigarettes.

The company regularly sponsor music events targeted at young people, saying it wants to promote Indonesian bands and associate its product with rock'n'roll values.

Wolfmother has responded to the criticism by issuing a statement on its website saying it does not "support or condemn the sponsors" and will play the gig for the fans who have "parted with their very own cold hard cash".

In the past two years, US artists Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson refused to play in Indonesia until their promoters dropped tobacco sponsorships.

But several other Western musicians -- most recently former Guns'n'Roses guitarist Slash -- have played with the backing of the tobacco industry.

Indonesia earns billions of dollars a year in tax revenues from tobacco companies, which employ millions of people across the country.

Cigarette consumption in the Southeast Asian archipelago soared 47 percent in the 1990s, according to the World Health Organisation.