24. October 2014

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Pennsylvania high school’s football season canceled over hazing


PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A school district in suburban Philadelphia canceled a high school football team’s season and suspended its coaching staff after investigating reports of hazing.

Central Bucks School District Superintendent David Weitzel said in a statement to district parents that an investigation turned up multiple “humiliating and inappropriate acts” during pre-season team building exercises at Central Bucks West High School.

In the most serious instance, he said, one rookie player was forced to grab another player’s genitals through his clothes while other players watched.

“I want to be clear that these activities did not result in physical harm, but were not harmless,” Weitzel said in the statement.

Cancellation of the program comes on the heels of a hazing incident at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey in which seven football players were charged with sexually abusing four freshmen.

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Officials in Sayreville say they are considering suspending the program in future years.

James Donnelly, who heads the Central Bucks Police Department, said his department was aware of the district’s internal investigation but the conduct described to him by school officials failed to reach a level of criminality.

There were, he said, allegations that players participated in waterboarding.

“It consisted of a wet towel being placed over a person’s head and walking them into the shower,” Donnelly said. “That doesn’t seem to be waterboarding to me. It’s the terminology of teenagers.”

The season cancellation comes one day before the scheduled Homecoming football game for Central Bucks West, a powerhouse team that racked up multiple state championships in the 1990′s.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg)

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24. October 2014

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Manning adds to touchdown record as Broncos beat Chargers


(Reuters) – Denver quarterback Peyton Manning added three more touchdowns to his career record as the Broncos beat the San Diego Padres 35-21 in a National Football League game on Thursday.

Manning took his career touchdown total to 513, four days after overtaking Brett Favre as the leader on the all-time list.

The Broncos won their fourth successive game and improved to 6-1, the best record in the AFC and tied for the best record in the league with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Chargers fell to 5-3, second behind Denver in the AFC West.

All three of Manning’s touchdown passes were to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who caught nine passes for 120 yards.

“We’re trying to put pressure on a defense, get everybody involved and tonight was Emmanuel’s night,” said Manning, who completed 25-of-35 passes for 286 yards.

While happy with another victory, he issued a less than subtle warning to his team not to get too carried away by the result against a team that had several key players out injured.

Sanders, meanwhile, sounded like the consummate team player.

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“In this system you’ve got to wait your turn,” said Sanders, who was acquired as a free agent from Pittsburgh in the off-season.

“Everyone is going to eat eventually and tonight was just my night. At any moment, this offense can take off.”

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said he was impressed with the Broncos, particularly with the number of game-changing players on their team.

“When I think about defenses, offenses that are scary, it’s who makes game-changing plays and they’re really good.”

Rivers matched Manning’s three touchdowns, though two of them came fairly late in the game when the Chargers were in a deep hole.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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24. October 2014

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Williams guaranteed year-end number one ranking


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Serena Williams clinched the year-end world number one ranking for the fourth time without hitting a ball on Friday after Maria Sharapova, the only woman with any chance of overtaking her, was eliminated from the WTA Finals.

Needing to win in straight sets to stand any chance of advancing to the semi-finals, Sharapova lost the second set of her match against Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska at Singapore’s Indoor Stadium, ending her slim hopes of leapfrogging Williams for the top spot.

Sharapova had led 7-5 5-1 and appeared to be cruising toward victory but Radwanska dug deep to reel off five straight games and force a tiebreak, which she won 7-4 to even up the match and effectively eliminate the Russian from the tournament.

Sharapova has already lost to Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova in the White Group and even if she goes on to win against Radwanska, the victory would only be a consolation one.

Despite receiving the rankings boost, Williams, who previously finished the year ranked number one in the world in 2002, 2009 and 2013, faces an anxious wait before knowing whether she has advanced to the semi-finals.

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The reigning U.S. Open champion thrashed Eugenie Bouchard 6-1 6-1 on Thursday night to finish the round-robin phase with a 2-1 win-loss record after beating Ana Ivanovic in her opening match then losing to Simona Halep.

The only way she can miss out on the semis is if Ivanovic beats Halep in straight sets on Friday.

“Well, my fate really rests on me,” Williams said after beating Bouchard.

“If I wanted to win and be a part of the event, I should have won my match yesterday or should have done better.

“So whatever happens, happens at this time. I did the best that I could do this week. I should have thought about that sooner.”

(Editing by Julian Linden)

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24. October 2014

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Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy wins first trial over Pinnacle hips


NEW YORK/DALLAS (Reuters) – Johnson Johnson was found not liable by a Texas jury on Thursday in the first case to go to trial over whether Pinnacle hip implants made by the company’s DePuy Orthopedics unit were defective.

The test case had high stakes for the pharmaceutical giant, which is hoping to avoid a replay of a $2.5 billion settlement it agreed to last year for a different metal-on-metal hip device.

The Dallas federal jury ruled unanimously against the plaintiff Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, who said the two metal-on-metal Pinnacle hips she received in 2009 were faulty and that the company failed to warn patients and doctors about the device’s risks.

DePuy had said the implants were improperly positioned, and not to blame for her injuries. Jurors needed about two days to deliberate, after a seven-week trial.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers selected Herlihy-Paoli’s lawsuit to be among the first to go to trial out of more than 6,600 lawsuits over the Pinnacle hips. The unanimous win for DePuy is expected to affect its approach to the rest of the lawsuits, which are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade.

DePuy spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley said the company was pleased with the verdict and was committed to the “long-term and vigorous defense” of the litigation.

The metal-on-metal device “was appropriately developed, thoroughly tested and responsibly marketed,” she said in a statement.

A lawyer for Herlihy-Paoli, Mark Lanier, called the case “the first skirmish in what is likely to be a long war.”

“We still plan to press on with fierce dedication to clients we believe have been tragically wronged,” he said.

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Herlihy-Paoli said she required multiple surgeries to fix and replace her implants after the surrounding tissue became infected and the level of the metal cobalt in her blood soared to 85 times the normal level.

Her 2012 lawsuit said the device’s metal components rubbed together, shedding metal ions.

At trial, lawyers for Herlihy-Paoli accused DePuy of aggressively marketing the devices to more active people, while concealing abnormally high failure rates.

DePuy’s lawyers countered that the devices were safe when used and implanted properly. They also said Herlihy-Paoli unfairly targeted DePuy for problems linked to different metal-on-metal hips, such as the company’s ASR devices.

Last year, DePuy agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits over the ASR devices, which it recalled in 2010.

DePuy stopped selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices in 2013.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, called the verdict surprising and said jurors may have responded to DePuy’s argument that the hips may have been improperly positioned.

“They can take some comfort in this verdict,” he said, referring to DePuy. “But I’m sure there will be more.”

The case is Herlihy-Paoli v. Pinnacle, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, No. 12-4975.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Chris Reese, Bernard Orr and David Ingram)

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24. October 2014

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Mali becomes sixth West African nation hit by Ebola


BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali confirmed its first case of Ebola on Thursday, becoming the sixth West African country to be touched by the worst outbreak on record of the hemorrhagic fever, which has killed nearly 4,900 people.

Mali’s Health Minister Ousmane Kone told state television that the patient in the western town of Kayes was a two-year-old girl who had recently arrived from neighboring Guinea, where the outbreak began.

“The condition of the girl, according to our services, is improving thanks to her rapid treatment,” the minister told state television.

A health ministry official, who asked not to be identified, said the girl’s mother died in Guinea a few weeks ago and the baby was brought by relatives to the Malian capital Bamako, where she stayed for 10 days in the Bagadadji neighborhood before heading to Kayes.

A ministry statement said the girl, who came from the Guinean town of Kissidougou, was admitted at the Fousseyni Daou hospital in Kayes on Wednesday night, where she was promptly tested for Ebola.

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People who came into contact with the patient in Kayes have been identified and placed under watch, the minister said, but he appealed to any person who believed they may have had contact with the girl to step forward.

The vast majority of the deaths and nearly 10,000 cases of the disease have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Small outbreaks also spread to Senegal and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, but they have since been declared Ebola-free by the WHO.

The official numbers are known to be under-reported and the true death toll may be three times as much, the WHO said this week.

A completely separate outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa also appears to have been contained.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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24. October 2014

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Hikma Pharma says US FDA issues warning on Portugal plant


(Reuters) – Drugmaker Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc said the U.S. health regulator had raised issues related to investigations and environmental monitoring at its plant in Portugal.

The Jordanian company said it had received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday following an inspection of the plant in March.

Shares in the company, which makes and markets branded and non-branded generics and injectibles, fell 3.5 percent in early trading on the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

Hikma produces powder, liquid and lyophilized injectible drugs at the Portugal plant. The injectibles business accounted for 39 percent of the company’s revenue in 2013.

Hikma said it would work with the FDA to resolve all outstanding issues and did not anticipate any impact on manufacturing or distribution of products from the plant.

The company also said that it did not believe the warning would impact its financial guidance for the year.

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“The fact that it took seven months for the FDA to issue this warning letter … suggests that the FDA does not consider this issue as posing an immediate threat to public health and is therefore unlikely to request the plant to be closed,” UBS analysts wrote in a note.

Hikma had received an FDA warning letter on its Eatontown facility in New Jersey in February 2012 and suspended manufacturing at the plant.

The facility underwent extensive remediation work last year before receiving the go-ahead to restart operations in April.

“Although on the face of it this letter is not a particular worry, it will remind investors that pharmaceutical manufacturing is not without risk and in fact Hikma itself has benefited in recent years from manufacturing constraints of competitor Hospira Inc,” Panmure Gordon analyst Savvas Neophytou said in a note to clients.

Hikma shares were down 3.2 percent at 1839 pence at 0729 GMT.

(Reporting by Roshni Menon in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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24. October 2014

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Three major nations absent as China launches World Bank rival in Asia


SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Australia, Indonesia and South Korea skipped the launch of a China-backed Asian infrastructure bank on Friday as the United States said it had concerns about the new rival to Western-dominated multilateral lenders.

China’s $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, both of which count Washington and its allies as their biggest financial backers.

China, which is keen to extend its influence and soft power in the region, has limited voting rights in these existing banks despite being the world’s second-largest economy.

The AIIB, launched in Beijing at a ceremony attended by Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei and delegates from 21 countries including India, Thailand and Malaysia, aims to give project loans to developing nations. China is set to be its largest shareholder with a stake of up to 50 percent.

Indonesia was not present and neither were South Korea and Australia, according to a pool report.

Japan, China’s main rival in Asia and which dominates the $175 billion Asian Development Bank along with the United States, was also not present, but it was not expected to be.

Media reports said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put pressure on Australia to stay out of the AIIB.

However, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Secretary Kerry has made clear directly to the Chinese as well as to other partners that we ?welcome the idea of an infrastructure bank for Asia but we strongly urge that it meet international standards of governance and transparency.

“We have concerns about the ambiguous nature of the AIIB proposal as it currently stands, that we have also expressed publicly.”

In a speech to delegates after the inauguration, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the new bank would use the best practices of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

“For the AIIB, its operation needs to follow multilateral rules and procedures,” Xi said. “We have also to learn from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and other existing multilateral development institutions in their good practices and useful experiences.”

PERSONAL LOBBYING

The Australian Financial Review said Kerry had personally asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep Australia out of the AIIB.

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“Australia has been under pressure from the U.S. for some time to not become a founding member of the bank and it is understood Mr Kerry put the case directly to the prime minister when the pair met in Jakarta on Monday ­following the inauguration of Indonesian President Joko Widodo,” the paper said.

South Korea, one of Washington’s strongest diplomatic allies in Asia, has yet to say it will formally participate in the bank. Its finance ministry said last week it has been speaking with China to request more consideration over details such as the AIIB’s governance and operational principles.

“We have continued to demand rationality in areas such as governance and safeguard issues, and there’s no reason (for Korea) not to join it,” South Korean Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said in Beijing on Thursday after attending a separate regional meeting.

The Seoul-based JoongAng Daily quoted a South Korean diplomatic source as saying: “While Korea has been dropped from the list of founding members of the AIIB this time around, it is still in a deep dilemma on what sort of strategic choices it has to make as China challenges the U.S.-led international order.”

The AIIB is expected to begin operations in 2015 with senior Chinese banker Jin Liqun, ex-chairman of investment bank China International Capital Corp, expected to take a leading role.

The memorandum of understanding signed on Friday said authorized capital of the bank would be $100 billion and that the AIIB would be formally established by the end of 2015 with its headquarters in Beijing, state news agency Xinhua said.

Takehiko Nakao, the president of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), said the AIIB should function in line with international governance, labor and environmental standards.

“I hope the new bank will adhere to these standards,” Nakao told Reuters in a phone interview.

He backed away from earlier comments that he did not welcome the AIIB but said there was an overlap of its role with that of the ADB.

“But again, because of very big financing needs of the region it is understandable to have a new idea of establishing a bank,” Nakao said, adding: “We will consider the appropriate collaboration after it is really established.”

The ADB, created in 1966, offers grants and below-market interest rates on loans to lower to middle-income countries. At the end of 2013, its lending amounted to $21.02 billion, including co-financing with other development partners.

China has a 6.5 percent stake in the ADB, while the United States and Japan have about 15.6 percent each.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Sonali Paul, Jake Spring, Choonsik Yoo and Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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24. October 2014

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Asia economic growth to languish as China slows: poll


BANGALORE (Reuters) – Emerging Asia will contribute less to the global economy in 2015 than was expected just months ago as a slowdown in China drags on growth in the region, partially offset by acceleration in the United States, Reuters polls showed.

Until recently the primary engine of global growth, most Asian economies have slowed, hamstrung by erratic exports, sluggish domestic demand, capital outflows and political and policy uncertainty.

At the same time, many of Asia’s major trading partners in the West are grappling with disinflation and weak demand, making it difficult for central banks there to move away from aggressive monetary stimulus.

Estimates for 2015 GDP growth were either cut or left unchanged for nine Asian countries in the latest poll of over 200 economists conducted over the past week, with Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore bearing the brunt of the downgrades.

India, Malaysia and Thailand were the few economies for which economists made slight upgrades to growth projections.

These latest lacklustre forecasts follow a similarly tepid performance this year, during which China’s economy slumped to its slowest pace of growth since the global financial crisis.

“The Chinese economy is unbalanced at present with an excess of investment, much of which has been financed via debt,” said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo.

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“The slowdown that is under way in China is partially policy-induced, and the days of double-digit Chinese economic growth appear to be a thing of the past.”

China’s economy is expected to expand 7.4 percent this year, narrowly missing the government’s 7.5 percent annual target, as Beijing tries to derive more future growth from consumer demand rather than exports. In 2015, economists predict growth to slow further to 7.1 percent. [ECILT/CN]

Also among the primary reasons for the protracted slowdown is the risk that China’s overheated property market might crash, triggering ripple effects through a highly leveraged economy and further dragging on consumer demand.

While Beijing has undertaken targeted stimulus to ease business lending, liquidity and housing regulations, economists do not expect a major shift in policy or lower interest rates from the People’s Bank of China.

Effects from a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy have trickled through to South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia, with growth estimates downgraded in the latest survey.

India, Asia’s third largest economy, was among the few bright spots. Growth there is expected to pick up to its fastest pace this fiscal year since 2010-11 on the view that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil much needed reforms to attract investment. [ECILT/IN]

(Polling by bureaus across Asia; Additional reporting Shaloo Shrivastava in Bangalore; Editing by Ross Finley Kim Coghill)

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24. October 2014

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Stress tests, Ebola cool global stocks after best week of year


LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks dipped on Friday, as European bank stress test results due at the weekend and New York City’s first case of Ebola prompted investors to lock in profits after the best week for shares in well over a year.

A doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa became the first person to test positive for the virus in America’s largest city, raising fresh fears about its spread.

Europe’s main bourses in London, Frankfurt and Paris all opened 0.5 percent in the red and U.S. stock futures were down as investors moved to safe-haven assets such as the yen and U.S. and European government bonds.

“It’s down to a combination of profit taking and a bit of uncertainty about the weekend’s stress test results,” said David Madden, a market analyst at IG index.

“We have already seen a spike up in Greek government bond yields recently so the euro zone crisis has not gone away, and after this week we are back on a 9,000 level for the DAX so people are happy to take a bit of money off the table.”

The euro also slipped on caution about the banking tests. It hit $1.2638, having fallen for much of the week after European Central Bank insiders told Reuters the ECB was drawing up plans for a corporate bond purchase program.

Follow an intense, year-long review, the euro zone’s 130 biggest banks received the ECB’s final verdict on their finances on Thursday, with official results to be published on Sunday.

Juergen Fitschen, co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank and president of the BdB association of German banks, offered a hint on Thursday, saying the results probably gave his country’s banks a clean bill of health. Ireland’s permanent tsb is so far the only failure that has been exposed.

BEST WEEK OF YEAR

The Ebola fears saw SP 500 mini futures fall as much as 0.7 percent, slipping from two-week highs hit on Thursday on budding optimism from corporate earnings and the global economy.

With 177 of the SP 500 companies having posted third-quarter results, 69.5 percent have beaten expectations, better than the 67 percent beat rate over the past four quarters, and higher than the 20-year average of 63 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed.

MSCI’s All-World index which spans bourses in 45 countries, is up over 2.6 percent for the week, its strongest performance since July last year. Gains in Europe were slightly less but still the best this year.

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There was also focus on Russia and Ukraine, with Russia facing a rating review from Standard Poor’s later and elections taking place in Ukraine on Sunday.

The rouble was at a new record low and stocks were in the red ahead of the SP review, which could Russia’s credit rating cut to ‘junk’. Moscow will be hoping its solid finances prevent a second downgrade from a major rating agency in as many weeks.

“I would assume that it is too early to revisit the ratings. But this is my personal opinion. The rating agencies work according to their methodologies,” influential former Russian finance minister and outspoken policy critic, Alexei Kudrin, told Reuters at an event in London this week.

Meanwhile more political stability in Ukraine could aid the European economy, which has suffered from the fall in trade with Russia on tit-for-tat sanctions between the West and Moscow.

“I suspect one often overlooked reason for the market’s rebound since the middle of this week was signs of easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine,” said Soichiro Monji, chief strategist at Daiwa SB Investments.

President Petro Poroshenko’s bloc holds a big lead ahead of Sunday’s poll in Ukraine, but populist Oleh Lyashko’s Radical party could also make a strong showing.

If so, Poroshenko may have the awkward task of seeking support from a politician who has been sharply critical of his peace plan and contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An election that pro-Russian separatists will hold early next month must also be navigated.

Commodities have also enjoyed a small rebound this week following a wretched recent run on fears about slowing global growth and oversupply in individual markets.

Brent oil was slightly softer at $86 a barrel on Friday as risk appetite took a hit from the news of Ebola in New York but it was set for its first gain in five weeks. Copper was heading for only its second rise in nine weeks.

Oil markets had risen sharply on news that crude supplies to the market from Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, fell to 9.36 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, down 328,000 bpd from August, according to an industry source.

(Editing by Catherine Evans)

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24. October 2014

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Home comfort helps Harman fly high at Sea Island


(Reuters) – Brian Harman took advantage of home comforts, ideal weather and a red-hot putter as he charged into a share of the lead in Thursday’s opening round of the $5.6 million McGladrey Classic at Sea Island in Georgia.

The diminutive American left-hander, who won his first PGA Tour title at the John Deere Classic in July, mixed six birdies with a lone bogey on the way to a sparkling five-under-par 65 in the third event of the 2014-15 season.

Harman birdied four of his last seven holes on the Seaside Course to end the day level with compatriots Michael Thompson, Will MacKenzie and double heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton.

Pencil-slim American Chesson Hadley, the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year for the 2013-14 season, was among a group of eight players who opened with 66s.

Harman, born in nearby Savannah and a resident at Sea Island, rebounded strongly from a bogey on his fifth hole of the day, the par-four 14th, to surge into a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.

“I got off to a little bit of a shaky start but finally figured it out and made some good swings, made some putts and felt really good,” the 27-year-old told Golf Channel.

The short five-minute commute from his home to the golf course was another huge bonus for Harman.

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“It’s great,” he smiled. “It’s the only tournament of the year I get to sleep in my own bed. I’m fortunate to be lucky enough to live down here and even more fortunate to have a tournament in my back yard.”

Thompson, like Harman, flourished on the ultra-smooth greens at Sea Island.

“My putter was hot today,” said the 29-year-old from Arizona whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2013 Honda Classic. “I put in some good work the past couple of days on the green … and my speed was awesome today.

“When that happens, it’s fun to play golf because you’re making putts. I just had a few lucky breaks which kept me in it, because I hit some wayward shots today but it was a good day of golf.”

American world number nine Matt Kuchar, the highest-ranked player in the field, opened with a 67 while tournament host Davis Love III, who has won 20 times on the PGA Tour, carded a 71.

Fellow American Chris Kirk, who won last year’s McGladrey Classic by one shot, launched his title defense with a bogey-free 68.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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24. October 2014

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Lakers’ Nash out for season with back injury


(Reuters) – Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season, the National Basketball Association team said on Thursday.

Nash, 40, has battled a bad back and other injuries for years and the latest setback suggests the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player may have played his final game, though he has not announced his retirement.

“Being on the court this season has been my top priority and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now,” the Canadian said in a statement.

“I work very hard to stay healthy and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult.

“I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health.”

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Nash recently re-injured his back carrying his bags.

He has been severely hampered by injuries since joining the Lakers and played just 15 games last season and averaged 6.8 points and 5.7 assists.

He has averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 assists in his 65 games for the Lakers since joining them in 2012.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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24. October 2014

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Royals outfield defenders cram for quirky AT&T test


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The irresistible talents of the Kansas City Royals’ outfielders may be tested by the inscrutable elements of San Francisco’s quirky right field when the World Series resumes on Friday.

Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and Nori Aoki all had a cram course on Thursday’s off-day in gauging caroms off the ATT Park wall ahead of a Game Three that will snap a 1-1 tie in the best-of-seven championship.

“It’s tough,” said center fielder Cain, who has been filling up a highlight reel with an array of diving catches this postseason. “Rusty Kuntz, our outfield coach, was hitting balls off the wall for us today and I mean the ball was going all over the place.”

The 24-foot-high brick wall begins 309 feet (94.18 meters)from home plate at the foul pole but angles out steeply in two stages to 421 feet as it nears center field, with padding alternating with chain link across the bottom.

“You try to read it as best as possible,” said Cain. “But the way the brick is built and the chain-link fence, it’s possible the ball can go any which way.”

Speedy outfielder Dyson, who frequently comes into a game as a late-inning defensive replacement, said the angle often shoots a ball away from the right-field line.

“It kicks away from you, everything goes towards right-center,” Dyson told Reuters after practice.

That is, unless it hits the softer, lower part of the wall and drops with a thud.

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“There’s a lot of ground to cover, which is in our favor,” Dyson suggested, referencing the Royals’ speed in the spacious outfield.

“Hopefully (batted balls) don’t get above, where we can’t catch it, and have to play it off the wall. If we do, just try to make sure we don’t look crazy out there.”

And then there is the wind, often blowing in hard off China Basin, the section of San Francisco Bay directly behind the wall.

In the National League Championship Series both the Giants and Cardinals misjudged fly balls they thought would hit high off the wall or over it for home runs only to see them knocked down by wind for what should have been potential catches.

“You have to be careful. There’s a lot of uneven surfaces out there,” said Aoki, who has previously played in San Francisco’s stadium from when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“We have to back each other up as best as we can.

“It might be better to have the mental image that two people are going after the ball,” he said, stressing the importance of backing one another up.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/sportsNews/~3/d6yeDhmkKCM/story01.htm

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24. October 2014

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EU names coordinator to step up response to Ebola

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union appointed a coordinator on Thursday to lead its drive to fight Ebola in West Africa following criticism that European efforts so far to contain the world’s worst recorded outbreak of the disease have been inadequate. Christos Stylianides, who takes over on Nov. 1 as the EU’s commissioner for humanitarian […]

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24. October 2014

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New York tests doctor who was in West Africa for Ebola

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A physician with Doctors without Borders who returned from West Africa recently and developed potential symptoms was being tested for Ebola at a New York City hospital, health officials said on Thursday, setting off fresh fears about the spread of the virus. The doctor was identified as Craig Spencer, who was […]

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24. October 2014

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U.S. security agency ill-prepared to deal with pandemic: audit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which protects sites ranging from land borders and airports to the White House, may not be able to maintain operations in a pandemic due to inadequate supplies of protective gear and drugs for its staff, according to a government report on Thursday. An audit, conducted […]

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