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Headlines: Friday, February 22, 5:25 PM
American farmers plan to plant fewer soybeans this year, after the trade war with China crashed soy prices in 2018 and left millions of bushels unsold, according to a new federal report.The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual outlook for soy and other commodities, released Friday, predicts soy production will fall by about 8 percent. That's more than 7 million acres, or 11,000 square miles."This year's outlook represents a dramatic change from prior years because of China's imposition of tariffs on U.S. soybeans," the USDA's report said.The areas most affected are states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska. Their geographical location means those states supply the lion's share of U.S. soybeans to China. Trains from that region travel directly to the Pacific Northwest, from which barges move commodities to Asia."More than 70 percent of [North Dakota's] soybeans are exported to China," said Nancy Johnson, the executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association. "We have a fabulous system for getting soybeans on trains to the Pacific Northwest. With [the China] market closed, it's been hard."The production value of soy exceeded $41 billion in 2017, according to the American Soybean Association -- in large part due to China's demand for beans. China is the world's single largest soy importer, and the country purchased about 30 percent of all the beans grown in the United States, mostly to feed livestock, before the trade war began, according to U.S. government statistics.After China placed retaliatory tariffs on soybeans over the summer, in response to tariffs levied by the Trump administration on Chinese goods, the nation all but stopped importing from the U.S.While farmers in states like Iowa and Indiana have been able to sell their beans domestically or to countries other than China, farmers in the Great Plains have had to store large portions of their 2018 crop, and wait for the trade war to end.Soy production is expected to drop more severely in those states, the report said."Because of our crop rotation, we can't just quit altogether," said Ron Van Bruggen, a farmer in Litchville, N.D. "But our plan is to grow less. We're going to cut back by about 25 percent."Like other farmers in the region, Van Bruggen plans to replace that crop by planting corn and wheat, instead.Overall, corn and wheat production is expected to increase this year, according to the report.
The father of Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who fled to Syria to join the Islamic State, sued President Donald Trump and two members of his Cabinet to allow his daughter to return to the United States.In a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday, attorneys for Ahmed Ali Muthana argued that Trump and others are acting unconstitutionally by treating his 24-year-old daughter as a non-citizen, USA Today reported.Trump said Wednesday he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prevent Hoda Muthana from returning to the United States. Pompeo said in a statement that day that she has no "legal basis" to return because she is not a citizen.Hoda Muthana was born in New Jersey. Her father had brought the family to the United States while he was a United Nations diplomat for Yemen. He left the position shortly before her birth and remained in the United States on his diplomatic visa, CNN reported.Because Hoda Muthana was born in the United States while her father had diplomatic status, she is not a U.S. citizen, Pompeo said Thursday on NBC.She left the United States in 2014 to join the Islamic State militant group while a student at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Later, Hoda Muthana married multiple Islamic State fighters, although she has since expressed remorse for joining the group, saying she was "brainwashed." She wants to return to the United States with her 18-month-old son.In addition to Trump, the lawsuit also names Pompeo and newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr as co-defendants.The suit argues that the Trump administration "has an obligation to assist in the return of its citizens from areas of armed conflict."
Former New England Patriots players and current NFL stars had a lot to say when reacting to prostitution charges against Patriots owner Robert Kraft.Jupiter, Fla., police announced the charges against Kraft on Friday.Tedy Bruschi -- who played for the Patriots from 1996 to 2008 -- reacted to the news on ESPN's NFL Live."Mr. Kraft is a very good friend of mine," Bruschi said. "Since day one, my first day there in 1996, he was a tremendous support system for myself and for my family. I would say surprised and shocked is an understatement.""Mr. Kraft is someone who I care very deeply about. So hearing this -- if this were true -- I'd be extremely disappointed. But myself, along with all of the fans of the New England Patriots, are holding onto that two sentence statement that he released saying that the Krafts categorically deny anything illegal happened."Bruschi said it is a tough and confusing time for himself and Patriots fans. He also called Kraft the leader of an organization that everyone in the region looks to as a "way things should be done the right way."Kraft was the team owner when the Bruschi was picked in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. The linebacker went on to win three Super Bowls and spend his entire career with the Patriots.Bruschi said he has exchanged text messages regarding Kraft with some of his former teammates.Former Patriots defensive back Darius Butler tweeted "and we thought 2018 was crazy."Longtime Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets defender Bart Scott called for the Patriots to lose their 2019 NFL Draft picks."I would take their whole draft from them," Scott said on his radio show on WFAN. "It has to be something that cripples them. This is a black eye."New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas retweeted a tweet that read: "I wonder if Meek Mill will visit Robert Kraft in jail." The tweet was referencing when Kraft visited the rapper while he was in prison in April.The NFL released a statement Friday saying that it is aware of the "ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments."
The Mine That Bird Derby in New Mexico is the only weekend race with potential impact on the Kentucky Derby picture while relative calm reigns across much of the racing landscape.Two of last year's promising 3-year-olds return from long layoffs to run at Gulfstream Park and turf-running fillies and mares slug it out at Santa Anita.Let's get right to it.The Road to the RosesWicked Indeed ships in from New Orleans to take the favorite's role in Sunday's $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico. The Tapit colt, out of the Harlan's Holiday mare Wicked Deed, won at first asking at Fair Grounds in November, finished third in an allowance event there Dec. 22 and returned to finish fourth in the Grade III Lecomte on Jan. 19, a race won by current Kentucky Derby points leader War of Will.Steve Asmussen trains Wicked Indeed for Winchell Thoroughbreds, also the breeder of the gray colt.Among the others, One Flew South won his only previous start at Turfway Park in November, trained at Fair Grounds and then at Santa Anita for Doug O'Neill. Hustle Up, an Abstraction gelding, is the highest rated of the locals with consecutive wins at Zia Park and Sunland.The Mine That Bird Derby is named for the upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, who prepped for the Run for the Roses with a second-place finish in this race, then called the Borderland Derby, and a fourth in the Sunland Derby. With Calvin Borel riding, Mine That Bird rallied along the rail through the Churchill Downs slop from last of 19 to win by 6 3/4 lengths over Pioneerof the Nile at odds of 50-1. He went on to finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont but never won another race.Turf MileTen fillies and mares are entered for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Buena Vista at Santa Anita with Vasilika coming back from a victory Jan. 21 in the Grade I Megahertz. The 5-year-old Skipshot mare would have a 10-race winning streak going but for a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar Dec. 2.Ms Bad Behavior enters the Buena Vista after four straight runner-up finishes. Fahan Mura won the Grade III Bobby Frankel at Santa Anita before finishing up the track in the soggy Pegasus World Cup Turf in January. Elysea's World won a pair of graded stakes at Monmouth Park last summer and finished second in the 2017 Frankel in her only previous visit to California.Dirt MileSir Anthony, an Illinois-bred Mineshaft ridgling, brings a four-race winning streak into Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park. The most recent was the Grade III Harlan's Holiday in December. The race also is noteworthy as the return of Quip for the first time since eighth-place finish in the 2018 Preakness. Ere that, the Distorted Humor colt was second in the Arkansas Derby winner of the Tampa Bay Derby. Todd Pletcher saddles Copper Town and Prince Lucky, the latter last seen winning the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park last June.
The Minnesota Twins have signed former Houston Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez.Sources told MLB.com on Friday that Gonzalez agreed to a two-year, $21 million pact with the franchise. Gonzalez, 29, spent his previous seven seasons with the Astros. He hit .247 with 16 home runs and 68 RBIs in 145 games last season for Houston.Gonzalez owns a .264 batting average with 76 home runs during his Major League Baseball career. He made his MLB debut in 2012 with the Astors.The signing is pending a physical.Minnesota also signed shortstop Jorge Polanco, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron this offseason.
Groups charged with protecting patients rights took big money from drug companies, a new study says.Advocacy groups in the U.S. received 74 percent of total contributions from the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in 2016, according to a study published Thursday in American Journal of Public Health. That amounted to $88 million."Patient advocacy groups have an important role when they testify in Congress, at the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other government agencies," Gerard Anderson, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University and study senior co-author, said in a news release. "It is important for policymakers to understand the funding sources for these organizations."Advocacy groups work out of nearly all industrialized countries, educating patients and caregivers on health care issues and lobbying for various support and treatment options.In all, the pharmaceutical companies gave a total of $120 million to patient advocacy funding groups in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, as well as the United Kingdom. The groups in the U.S. got $88 million of that amount.The drug companies included Pfizer, Novartis, Roche, Sanofi, Merck, AbbVie, Amgen, Gilead, Janssen and GlaxoSmithKline. Those companies raked in 41 percent of all pharmaceutical revenue in 2016."Patient advocacy groups have grown exponentially in the last 10 years, but the magnitude of pharmaceutical industry funding to them across countries has not been measured before," said So-Yeon Kang, a research associate at Johns Hopkins University and study senior author. "Patient advocacy organizations are supposed to represent their constituents' interests. Transparency is critical to avoid conflict of interests."The study points to the need for more transparency funding to these advocacy groups in order to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest.Payments from drug companies to doctors have also been linked to increased opioid prescribing."If financial support to patient advocacy organizations is really about patient education, you would expect the funding to be the same in each country," Anderson said. "This analysis shows that there's no correlation and something more than patient education influences the level of patient advocacy organization support in a country."
The owner of an Alabama farm said an escaped emu was safely recaptured in a horse pasture after 12 days on the loose.Mark Bagley said Harriot the emu escaped from the Serenity Animal Farm, on the outskirts of Clanton, Feb. 9, and was sighted numerous times but repeatedly evaded being recaptured.Bagley said neighbor Tim Jones received word that Harriot had been spotted in a horse pasture and he rushed to the location Thursday.Jones was able to calm Harriot by placing a sock over her head."I have been carrying a sock around with me in my truck this whole time just in case I needed it," Jones told the Clanton Advertiser.Bagley said he had been worried not just for Harriot's safety but for her mate, who has been sitting on the eggs she recently laid. He said male emus sit on the eggs until they hatch, and the mother then tends to the chicks while the father goes off to eat.He said Harriot was luckily returned to her mate before the eggs hatched.
International Thoroughbred action focuses on the Middle East this weekend, centering on The H H The Amir's Sword Festival in Doha, Qatar.World Cup preparations continued Thursday evening in Dubai and we've got the results, including a filly who could contest the UAE Derby. And Lingfield Park hosts the Winter Derby in England.QatarA quality field of 15 lines up for Saturday's $1 million Group 1 H H The Amir Trophy at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha, including horses who have competed at the top level in the United States and Europe, as well as locally. The race is the Thoroughbred highlight of the three-day affair, which also includes top-level racing for Purebred Arabians.Among the 15 in the Trophy are American-trained Liam the Charmer, Hunting Horn from the Irish Coolmore combine and Raymond Tusk, trained by Richard Hannon.The local field in topped by The Blue Eye, winner of the Trophy in 2016 and 2018; the 2018 runner-up, Noor Al Hawa, and the 2018 Qatar Derby winner, Alhazm.The race also drew some of the world's top riders, among them Ryan Moore, making his first stop in Doha, Tyler Gaffalione, Jamie Spencer, Maxime Guyon, Olivier Peslier and Gerald Mosse.Liam the Charmer, a 6-year-old Smart Strike gelding, won the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) at Santa Anita Sept. 30. After a 12th-place finish in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on a rain-soaked Churchill Downs course, he returned to finish third in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita in his most recent start.Exercise rider Nikki Diodoro said Liam the Charmer is in good form and likes the Al Rayyan turf. "It's great," Diodoro said after drawing gate No. 5 for Liam the Charmer at the Feb. 21 ceremony. "He likes it and he took to the right-hand turning real well."Hunting Horn, a 4-year-old Camelot colt, has only two wins for the Irish Coolmore combine. But he has been racing in top company, contesting the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. In January, he finished third in the Grade III W.L. McKnight at Gulfstream Park.Raymond Tusk, a well-bred 4-year-old colt by High Chaparral, posted three wins from six starts in 2018 but a mis-timed ride in the Group 1 William Hill St Leger at Doncaster in September. He rebounded to win the Group 2 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italiano at San Siro Oct. 21.The Blue Eye, a 7-year-old entire son of Dubawi, won the H H The Amir Trophy in 2016 and again in 2018. After the 2016 victory, he finished last in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.DubaiThe Godolphin blue and trainer Charlie Appleby swept all before them in a stakes triple -- and then some -- at Meydan on Thursday night.Spotify led from the early jumps in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes at 2,000 meters on the turf, then just did hold off Racing History by a short head in the final jumps. The race was essentially a group training session for Godolphin, which fielded six of the eight starts, including the top five finishers. James Doyle rode Spotify for Charlie Appleby while Christophe Soumillon was aboard Racing History. Spotify, a French-bred son of Redoubt's Choice, now has two wins from as many starts during the Carnival."That might be his Carnival wrapped up for him," Appleby said of Spotify. "We will point him to a European campaign. As always, we'll get them back and see how they are and regroup. We had a strong team of horses in there and it was always going to be a tactical race and James got his fractions right on the front end."Godolphin finished 1-2 in the Group 3 UAE Oaks as Divine Image made up a lot of ground in the final 300 meters and caught Swift Rose in the shadow of the wire, winning by a neck. Doug Watson saddled Razeena and Habah to finish third and fourth. Jockey William Buick kept Divine image in mid-pack through the turn in the 1,900-meters race, swung to the outside once in the stretch and made steady progress thereafter. She finished second in the Guineas Trial in her first Dubai run after winning her career debut on the Chelmsford all-weather course in December."She's a filly who's definitely got the talent," Appleby said. "We just need to make sure we take it in the right direction. The [UAE Derby] is certainly under consideration. She has experience on this [distance] and surface and it'll definitely be something that's put in the melting pot."The Group 2 UAE Derby on World Cup night March 30 carries 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.Mythical Magic had things his own way in the stretch run of the Group 2 Zabeel Mile on the Meydan turf, drawing off smartly to win by 3 lengths as Appleby runners finished first, third and fourth. Century Dream, trained by Simon Crisford, interrupted the Godolphin parade.Mythical Magic, a 4-year-old Iffraaj gelding, bettered his second-place finish behind yet another stablemate, D'bai, in the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort, on Jan. 24 and Appleby said he future might include Australia"We'll have a chat" about the Dubai Turf on World Cup night, Appleby said. "He could maybe go to Australia for the Doncaster, but obviously we'll get back and regroup and see where we are."Very pleasing night," said the trainer, who only scored his first World Cup night victory 11 months ago.EnglandDeep Intrigue earned a spot in the Ladbrokes Three-Year-Old Championship on Good Friday with a win in Wednesday's Ladbrokes Home of the Odds Boost Conditions Race at Newcastle. The Dark Angel colt raced close to the lead in a tightly contested race, took the lead inside the final furlong and held on to win by 1/2 length from Call Me Ginger. It was the third win of the season at the 6-furlongs trip for the Mark Johnston trainee."He won well around Lingfield on his latest start and is a lovely horse with a good future," said winning rider Daniel Tudhope. "He is in good hands and I wouldn't be surprised to see him step up in trip in time as well."I think not going round a bend today probably helped, but he will go back to Lingfield for Finals Day now and he likes it there, so I wish him all the best," Tudhope added.Wissahickon is the heavy favorite in a field of seven for Saturday's Group 3 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield. The 10-furlongs event is the final Fast-Track Qualifier in the middle-distance division of the All-Weather Championships with the winner earning an automatic berth in the Betway Easter Classic over the course and distance on Good Friday.Frankie Dettori is booked to ride the 4-year-old for trainer John Gosden. Wissahickon earned the favorite's role with victories in the Quebec Stakes and the Winter Derby Trial earlier in the season.The 2018 Winter Derby winner Master The World would become the first two-time winner should he stage an upset. He has not raced since Nov. 17.
A Florida golfer said she was able to avoid a penalty thanks to a confused alligator that snatched her ball out of the air.Joanne Sadowsky said she was playing with her husband, Len, in a couple's tournament at the Bonita National Golf Club when she had a bad tee-off on hole 2."I shanked the ball to the right, and it was heading to the water," she told the Naples Daily News. "It was close to the gator's head. He saw it, jumped up and caught it."The hungry gator's mistake earned Sadowsky a free drop."It saved me from a hazard penalty," she said.She said the free drop unfortunately wasn't enough to win the tournament."We came close but were just out of the money," Sadowsky said.Alligators in the Bonita Springs area have been known to display unusual behaviors in the past -- one of the reptiles was caught on video last June taking a rare swim in the ocean.
Virgin Galactic's space plane carried three people to the edge of space and back for the first time on Friday.According to NASA, space begins 50 miles from Earth's surface. During Friday's test flight, VSS Unity reached an altitude of 56 miles. In December, the plane reached an apex of just more than 51 miles above Earth's surface.In addition to spending a bit more time in suborbital space, Friday's flight featured a test passenger for the first time. Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci were joined by Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor."Beth Moses, experienced zero-g float time as SpaceShipTwo reached apogee today," Virgin Galactic tweeted.Moses is the first woman to enter space aboard a commercial vehicle.VSS Unity is Virgin Galactic's newest version of SpaceShip Two. The company hopes the plane will soon carry tourists on brief trips to space.The spaceplane doesn't launch from the ground. Instead, it is carried to 45,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert by the company's carrier aircraft WhiteKnight Two. VSS Unity launches midair, separating from its carrier and climbing to just beyond Earth's atmosphere at Mach 3 speeds, three times the speed of sound.Moses' presence in the cabin allowed Virgin Galactic engineers to more closely replicate the craft's weight distribution during flights carrying the first space tourists."Although we passed a major milestone in December, we still have a way to go in testing the many factors that can affect a flight," the company announced in a press release prior to Friday's flight. "So, for this flight, we will be expanding the envelope to gather new and vital data essential to future tests and operations, including vehicle center of gravity."In addition to Moses, VSS Unity also carried four experimental payloads provided by NASA. The payloads will help NASA scientists better understand the effects of microgravity on different types of liquids, gases and other materials.