Mariners' Roenis Elias solid on Thursday but takes loss vs. Sox

This article, Mariners’ Roenis Elias solid on Thursday but takes loss vs. Sox, originally appeared on Fantasy News at CBSSports.com.

Making a spot start for the Mariners, left-hander Roenis Elias pitched fairly well against the White Sox on Thursday. Elias allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter, but the Mariners lost the game 4-2.

Elias (4-7, 4.20 ERA) surrendered an unearned run in the first inning, but then he gave up two runs in the third and another in the fifth. All-in-all, it was a strong showing for Elias. But the Mariners did not give him much run support to work with, as they were held off the scoreboard through the first six innings.

This was Elias’ first big-league outing since the beginning of July, as he had been toiling in the minor leagues for the last six weeks or so. 

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Dollar General sales rise 7.9 pct

Aug 27 (Reuters) - Discount retailer Dollar General Corp reported a 7.9 percent rise in quarterly sales, helped by increased customer traffic in its stores.

Net income rose to $282.3 million, or 95 cents per share, in the second quarter ended July 31 from $251.3 million, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales rose to $5.10 billion from $4.72 billion, while same-store sales rose 2.8 percent.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

Ag secretary promises more sage grouse spending across West

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The federal government plans to spend more than $200 million over the next three years on programs to protect greater sage grouse in Western states — regardless of whether the bird receives federal protections, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Vilsack told The Associated Press that he wants to almost double protected habitat for the elegant chicken-sized bird, to 8 million acres by 2018. He also promised more will be done to limit residential development in sage grouse habitat and to restore wetlands used by the birds.

Nearly half of the roughly $211 million the government plans to invest over the next three years will go toward buying conservation easements, Vilsack said at a formal announcement of the program in Portland, Oregon. Land under easement can only be used for grazing, but can’t be developed for other purposes.

Another $93 million is slated for habitat restoration, he said, and $18 million will pay for technical assistance to landowners.

“Landowners are stepping up, they’re doing their part, and we’re already seeing the benefits,” Vilsack said. More than 1,100 private landowners have signed up thus far for the program across 11 states, he said.

The effort is part of an ongoing campaign by the Obama administration to demonstrate its commitment to staving off further declines in grouse populations and to avoid a proposal to list the bird as endangered.

The bird’s fate has become a potential political liability heading into the 2016 election. Federal protections could prompt limits on energy drilling, grazing and other activities across the grouse’s 11-state range.

Republicans have seized on the issue as supposed evidence of wildlife protection laws run amok. They say it underscores the urgent need to scale back the federal Endangered Species Act.

Sage grouse were proposed for protections under the act in 2010, but they were not put in place because of other priorities.

Estimates of number of sage grouse have varied widely, from 200,000 to 500,000 birds throughout the U.S. The birds once numbered in the millions.

Vilsack said the administration was seeking to balance concerns over the bird’s future with economic reality.

“Diversity of wildlife is important. Diversity of economy is important as well,” he said in an interview. “We want our working lands to be productive, and we also want to make sure we maintain what’s unique to the value of that terrain.”

Under a court settlement with environmentalists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a September 30 deadline to decide if protections are needed.

The future spending Vilsack described is in addition to more than $400 million spent on sage grouse conservation since 2010. Future spending pledges — and additional money from states, conservation groups and others — would bump the overall tally to more than $750 million for sage grouse through 2018, according to federal officials.

In Oregon, more than $18 million has been spent on 178 sage grouse-related projects, officials said. Participating landowners have received assurances from the government that if they participate and invest in sage grouse conservation now, they won’t have to face new restrictions if the bird is listed as endangered.

Roaring Springs Ranch in southeastern Oregon has gone a step further. The ranch hired a wildlife biologist and is conducting its own research to figure out which parts of the ranch provide good habitat for the sage grouse.

The ranch also cuts down juniper trees to improve habitat, and uses prescribed burns and fire breaks to stop wildfires that can be devastating to the birds, said biologist Andrew Shields. This year, the ranch saw a 25 percent increase in sage grouse on 250,000 acres of its private land.

“Doing these initiatives from the ground up is a lot more effective,” Shields said. “This could be a new way of doing conservation.”

Contre l'islamophobie, «les musulmans de France ont un devoir de pédagogie»
INTERVIEW - Le président du Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM), Anouar Kbibech, qui condamne l'attentat avorté du Thalys et l'incendie volontaire de la mosquée d'Auch, prône un dialogue constructif entre musulmans et non-musulmans.

Le nouveau président du Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM), Anouar Kbibech, dénonce la destruction de la mosquée d'Auch, intervenue le week-end dernier, et l'attentat dans le Thalys perpétré par un islamiste radicalisé. Il craint «une stigmatisation des citoyens français de confession musulmane» et appelle les musulmans de France au dialogue et à une ouverture avec les non-musulmans.

LE FIGARO. - Quelle est la réaction des musulmans de France après l'incendie de la mosquée d'Auch, qualifié «d'acte volontaire et réfléchi» par le procureur?

Anouar KBIBECH. - Aujourd'hui, les musulmans de France sont sous le choc. La destruction presque intégrale de la mosquée d'Auch est un évènement d'une gravité sans nom. C'est une première en France. Ceci est d'autant plus inquiétant que nous assistons à une hausse alarmante du nombre d'actes islamophobes depuis les attentats tragiques du mois de janvier.

Déjà la mosquée d'Auch avait été offensée au lendemain de l'attaque contre Charlie Hebdo : des lardons avaient été jetés contre la façade. L'incendie de la mosquée intervient cette fois au lendemain de l'attentat dans le Thalys…Je crains un lien de cause à effet.

Le Conseil français du culte musulman et les musulmans de France rejettent tout acte de violence ou de terrorisme, d'où qu'il vienne, commis au nom de l'islam. Ils rejettent tout amalgame et toute stigmatisation qui les viserait en tant que citoyens français de confession musulmane. Cet amalgame met (…) Lire la suite sur Figaro.fr

Incendie criminel de la mosquée d'Auch: l'unité dans l'indignation 
Indignation et action: le décalage de l'Occident face à l'État islamique 
Théologie du viol: ce que dit vraiment le Coran 
Pour la reine de Jordanie, les musulmans modérés ne font «pas assez» contre Daech 
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React Demolishes Engineering Silos So Facebook Can Reuse Code For Web, iOS, And Android

It was supposed to take 18 months. But with React Native, Facebook built its iOS Ads Manager app in 5 months, and then ported it to Android in just 3 more months. That’s because React Native let Facebook’s engineers work faster and reuse the JavaScript backend.
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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - Launch Trailer

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Will North and South Korea Ever Reunite?

For 62 years, North Korea and South Korea have been divided by the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a buffer zone that runs along the 38th parallel line and serves as the site of many skirmishes between the countries. The latest salvo? In August 2015, South Korea, angered by land mines that injured two of their soldiers, began blasting high-volume K-Pop music and pro-democracy messages towards the North. 

Despite thousands of years of common heritage, North and South Korea are not just divided geographically. Overly nearly six decades of separation, their economies and social structures have diverged and relations between the two nations are heated, often seeming only a few diplomatic missteps away from war (read more in  North Korean Vs. South Korean Economies). Today, roughly 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter such an outcome (read more in  Why North Korea Hates The U.S). U.S. military forces regularly take part in war games in the region. Despite all the public acrimony, North and South Korea have been meeting for decades to try to negotiate a peaceful reunification of their countries. But is such a thing even possible anymore?

Some politicians and investors have speculated that reunification between the two nations could happen in the next decade. In 2014, famed commodity investor Jim Rogers predicted in an interview with Futures Magazine that the two nations would be unified by the end of the decade and said that a unified Korea, “will be the most exciting country in the world for a decade or two.”

North and South

North Korea and South Korea have been divided since the end of the Korean War (read more in Why North Korea & South Korea Are Separated). In 1948, North Korea founded a communist government. Today, it is headed by Supreme Leader Kim-Jong un, the grandson of Supreme Leader Kim Il-sung, who ran North Korea from 1948 until his death in 1994. In contrast, South Korea has a democratic political system that peacefully elects a new president every five years. (Read more in Kim Jong-un: His Past, Present & Future.)

North Korea relies heavily on foreign aid and has a horrendous human rights record, according to Human Rights Watch. The secretive nation also does not provide accurate economic data and has not offered official macroeconomic figures since 1965. Meanwhile, South Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) is valued north of $1.3 trillion annually.

Attempts to Reunify

In 1972, the two nations met secretly to outline an agreement for a possible reunification. However, the coalition disbanded in the following year. The two countries again met in 1990, 2000 and 2007 but each time failed to reach a resolution. In 2000, 2004 and 2006, the international community gained hope about future reunification efforts after a reunified Korean team marched in the Olympics (though the nations competed separately).

In recent years, South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has pushed for reunification, and has argued that a long-desired merger would be a boon to South Korea’s financial and technology sectors due to North Korea’s wealth of human and natural resources. In July 2014, South Korea’s president appointed a special committee to prepare for possible unification between the two nations. Despite the potential economic benefits, a number of political, financial and social costs must be overcome to make reunification possible.

Reunification Will Be Expensive 

North Korea has the least free economy in the world, according to the Economic Freedom Index. Advancing North Korea from a state-run economy under a dictatorship to a globalized 21st-century free economy will require immense time and resources. 

Just how much resources? According to South Korean Financial Services Commission Chairman Shin Je-yoon, modernizing North Korea’s economy could cost South Korea at least $500 billion. Shin has estimated that it will require five years, or 20 consecutive quarters, of growth to raise per capita GDP in North Korea from roughly $1,250 (as it stands today) to just $10,000. In comparison, South Korea’s per capita GDP is already at $33,062, according to the World Bank.

Paying for this effort will require tax revenue from South Korean citizens and financing from the nation’s commercial banks. Although reunification is popular in South Korea, citizens do not want to pay for it. According to a 2014 survey by Seoul National University’s Center for International Studies to the Ministry of Unification and the Korean Political Science Association, 44.3% polled said they would not pay when asked, “Are you willing to pay additional costs associated with reunification?”

South Koreans Citizens Tepid

In the same survey, South Koreans did not appear to have a sense of urgency about reunification. Just 25.8% of respondents said “We need to have reunification as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, 45.8% said that “While reunification is necessary, there’s no need to rush.” Approximately 30% surveyed had negative or indifferent feelings about reunification. According to the survey, 18% said, “Reunification is not absolutely necessary,” and 10.2% said, “I’m indifferent towards reunification.”

Meanwhile, reunification is buoyed by the hope that younger generations of South Koreans consider it an important step in their future. However, in the same survey, of South Koreans between the ages of 19 and 29, just 28.5% said that “Reunification is very important.” Another 24.5% said that “It’s not that important,” while 7.1% reported that “Reunification is not important at all.”

Finally, academics worry about the effect of reunification on South Korea’s democracy. Kathy Moon, the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at the Brookings Institute, worries that adding 50 million North Koreans, who have only lived under communism, to a Western-style nation could test the limits of the unified nation’s culture and politics.

“South Korea’s democracy is very young,” Moon said during one of the think tank’s podcasts in March 2015. “It has only been one generation where people have been living in a democratic system. And South Korea’s democracy is still fragile and vulnerable in many, many ways. So when I think about adding 25 million people from the North and the 50 million people from the South together and mixing them up politically, I begin to wonder what kind of a political system can manage this kind of ‘integration.’”

What if North Korea Collapses?

If North Korea suffers a total political, economic, or social collapse, unification may be forced on the nations regardless of public opinion polls or levels of preparedness. A collapse in North Korea could also trigger a humanitarian crisis affecting not only South Korea, but also the bordering nations of China and Russia.

North Korea’s continued pursuit of a nuclear program has the potential to alienate its largest trade partner, China. China accounts for roughly 90% of all North Korea’s energy imports and most of the food that feeds its military. China could reduce aid if it perceived North Korea’s continued nuclear development as a threat against its interests.

Jamie Metzl, a former member of the U.S. National Security Council staff, predicts that North Korea could collapse in the next decade due to broader geopolitical forces in the region. As Metzl explains in a column in The National Interest, badly needed economic reforms are underway, but the full economic liberalization cannot occur without dramatic political reform. However, Pyongyang may ultimately be forced to choose between maintaining its totalitarian regime by shutting down economic progress or allowing its citizens to grow more used to economic freedoms that could ultimately spark potential political upheaval and regime change.

Under a political, social, or economic collapse, Metzl argues that North Korea would likely be unified under South Korean law, with the United Nations overseeing a referendum. In addition, China would seek to boost its trade and influence of the region.

The Bottom Line

The possibility of a reunification between North Korea and South Korea has been a source of interest for both nations and the world since their permanent separation more than 60 years ago. However, cultural, political and economic barriers exist and there are few opportunities for American investors at this time. A potential collapse of North Korea’s political, economic or social fabric could suddenly expedite reunification.

Ag secretary promises more sage grouse spending across West

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency plans to spend more than $200 million over the next three years on programs to protect greater sage grouse — regardless of whether the bird receives federal protections.

Vilsack told The Associated Press he wants to almost double protected habitat for the chicken-sized bird to 8 million acres across the West.

A formal announcement was planned Thursday.

It’s part of a campaign by the Obama administration to demonstrate its commitment to staving off further declines in grouse populations.

The bird’s fate has become a potential political liability heading into the 2016 election.

Federal protections could prompt limits on energy drilling, grazing and other activities across its 11-state range.

Republicans have seized on the issue as evidence of wildlife protection laws run amuck.