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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Israeli Airstrike Collapses Gaza Apartment Tower

Israeli Airstrike Collapses Gaza Apartment Tower


Israeli Airstrike Collapses Gaza Apartment Tower

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 10:40 AM PDT

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at a 12-story apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday, collapsing the building, sending a huge fireball into the sky and wounding at least 22 people, including 11 children, witnesses and Palestinian officials said.

Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes against Gaza in nearly seven weeks of fighting with Hamas, but Saturday’s strike marked the first time an entire high-rise was toppled.

The explosion shook nearby buildings.

Gaza police say Israeli aircraft fired a warning missile at the roof of the tower at dusk, followed five minutes later by two missiles with explosives.

Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, said at least 22 people were wounded, including 11 children and five women.

The leveling of the tower was a further sign of escalation following a breakdown of Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks and the collapse of a temporary truce earlier this week.

Earlier Saturday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry urged Israel and Hamas to resume indirect talks and agree to an open-ended cease-fire.

The appeal came after Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo. Egyptian officials did not say how they expected renewed talks to produce a different outcome after repeated failures.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had no immediate comment regarding the renewed call for a cease-fire. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Gaza’s ruling Hamas, said the group would consider the Egyptian appeal, but there was no sign it would budge from longstanding demands.

Watch Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Compete in China

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 10:33 AM PDT

Mixed martial arts, or MMA as it's widely known, is a combination of boxing and Brazilian jujitsu, where almost anything goes during a fight. The sport, widely practiced in Europe and Japan, was unknown in China just a decade ago.

“I didn’t know MMA existed before, when I started fighting in the competition in 2006, I thought it was great fun because there were almost no restrictions,” Chinese fighter Wu Haotian told AFP.

Recently, an increasing number of athletes in China are turning to the sport, which is seen as a springboard out of rural poverty: Fighters can compete for prizes of up to $10,000 in fights in the United States and Hong Kong, the AFP reported.

In the video above, take a look inside a Chinese gym that has already sent several fighters to the U.S.-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Apple Is Replacing Some iPhone 5 Batteries for Free

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 09:30 AM PDT

Anyone who has had to repeatedly charge their phone throughout the day knows that battery life is a key measure of a smartphone’s quality. The iPhone 5 has a decent battery life—except, perhaps, if you happen to have bought yours at the wrong time.

Some iPhone 5 devices sold between September 2012 and January 2013 have a battery problem leading to a shorter battery life, Apple said Friday. Users experiencing battery issues may have bought one in a series of iPhone 5 devices that were affected by charging problems.

“Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently,” Apple said in a note.

Owners of the iPhone 5 who are having issues can input their phone’s serial number on Apple’s page and see if they qualify for a free battery replacement. The replacement is available in the U.S. and China as of August 22, and in other countries as of August 29.

The 25 Most Productive Ways to Spend Time on the Internet

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 08:45 AM PDT

Answered by Manas Joshi for Quora

It's easy to forget that we have access to a virtually limitless resource of information, i.e. the Internet. For a lot of us, this is even true at our fingertips, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and an ever-increasing push for online greatness by tech engineers all over the world.
As a result, there are countless websites out there that are geared to make you smarter and more brilliant for either a low or no cost. Here are just 25 killer websites that may just make you more clever than ever before.

1. Duolingo
This isn't the first time I've recommended this language-teaching website (and app), and it certainly won't be the last. Duolingo is a free version of Rosetta-Stone that delivers the same results: teaching you another language. Regular use of the site can have you speaking and writing Spanish, English, German, French, Portuguese and Italian in a matter of months depending on the diligence you put into it. Hopefully, even more languages will become available soon.

2. Kahn Academy
Have you ever wanted to pick up a subject you're not well-versed in, but you didn't have the money to invest in a college course? Khan Academy aims to provide education at the collegiate level for anyone who wants it. They provide resources for learning pretty much every subject out there, including math, science, history and more. As you learn, the platform will even assess your progress and help you gauge what you've learned.

3. Justin Guitar
Guitar is one of the few instruments out there that's actually pretty easy to learn if you're a little older, making it one of the most accessible instruments. Still, learning how to play still takes some direction, at least for most people, so a guy named Justin decided he was going to help out. His website provides hundreds of free guitar lessons that range in different styles, depending on how you want to play. His schedule for learning is pretty easy to follow, and the site is a great stepping stone for people wanting to pick the instrument up.

4. Cooking for Engineers
Founded by Michael Chu, Cooking for Engineers goes further than just providing recipes. The site is a blog that is geared toward making your food taste good. Additionally, his analytical take on ingredients and cooking recipes is interesting and will likely change the way you approach cuisine.

5. The Dating Specialist
Or Nick the Dating Specialist is a website that wants to help guys be better dates. The site is full of advice on how to approach social situations and flirt successfully with different types of people. Nick even offers personal coaching at your request, so he can help your specific situation or hurdle to successful dating.

6. Nerd Fitness
When we think of exercising and gym techniques, we typically think of bodybuilders and jocks from high school. Nerd Fitness aims to provide resources for getting in shape from a nerd's point of view. All of the guides, blogs and fitness tips on this site have a geek flavor that is intended to make anyone who feels uncomfortable at the gym feel right at home here.

7. MIT Open Courseware
As much as I would love an education at MIT, that isn't really in the cards. Thankfully, the educators at the Massachusetts Institue of Technology decided to give out information for tons of courses online through Open Courseware. Hundreds of millions of people have benefitted from the information that they can learn from these courses, starting a trend for other sites to offer free courses as well.

8. Investopedia
I don't like to admit it, but my lack of a business degree tends to make me feel easily intimidated when a conversation starts taking a turn for the financial. To solve this, Investopedia was born to provide a news blog that makes it easy to digest and really understand the financial markets. There are tons of resources like tutorials and videos that will help you keep up with the ever-changing world of money, and the news stories will keep you coming back for more.

9. Quora
And this had to come

10. Information is beautiful
I love reading, but sometimes a visual demonstration just makes information come alive. Hence, Information is Beautiful is a platform that uses gorgeous visuals to impart data. For example, if you want to find out how much money individual organizations have lost from data breaches, you can view an action visual that shows bubbles that are labeled and sized accordingly, giving you an in-depth, but easy to digest overview of the data.

11. Spreeder
According to Spreeder, a lot of us have trouble reading quickly because we can only read as fast as our "inner voice" can. Spreeder's solution is to teach you to read without an inner voice, boosting reading speed and comprehension immensely. The best part? It's totally free.

12. Project Gutenberg
Imagine a library with tons of free books that you can keep for the rest of your life. Actually, you don't have to imagine that because Project Gutenberg gives you the ability to download thousands of free e-books, and it's completely legal.

13. Codeacademy
If you haven't noticed by now, the Internet has pretty much taken over everything, which means the skill of coding and developing websites is in higher demand than ever, and that's not likely to change. With Codeacademy, you can use free tutorials that teach you the basics of coding with interactive and handy tools for helping you become an expert.

14. GeographyIQ
Imagine if Google Earth and Wikipedia decided to make it official and have a child. That would be GeographyIQ. Using the world map, you can select any country and access virtually every facet of useful information there is about that country, including history, currency, population and more.

15. Anki
It's no secret that the key to memorizing information is mastering recall. With flashcards, you can recall things faster, making Anki an ideal resource for using flashcards online. Unlike other sites that use flashcards, Anki allows you embed more than just text. You can use video, audio and images to help you start studying faster and smarter.

16. Lumosity
Using games to learn is something I've treasured since Kindergarten, making Lumosity a trusted resource for me and countless others. Using a daily schedule of games, Lumosity is literally designed to make you more clever. As you progress, the software figures out what your strengths and weaknesses (such as memory or math skills) and assigns you games accordingly. The best part is that the games are actually addicting and fun to look forward to!

17. CliffsNotes
Ideal for high school and college students, Cliffsnotes provides valuable resources like study guides and test prep for standard books and subjects you'll have to read anyway. The site also provides resources for math and science, giving you the chance to finally master the dark arts of homework.

18. TED
For years, people have been benefitting from TED talks that provide free insights from the world's smartest people. TED provides the value and learning growth of a seminar, but without the exorbitant costs and travel expenses, by providing visitors with tons of free video lectures. The app is also great for catching up on the latest talks, and you can even download some on iTunes.

19. Pinfruit
Need to memorize a lengthy number? Pinfruit analyzes the number and provides all of the options you could want as a mnemonic device. That's all there is to it, since (unfortunately) they only provide this for numbers and not words.

20. Mindtools
There are countless blogs that you can enjoy for being interesting and mildly useful, but how many of them actually help you with your career? Mindtools is a blog that teaches you what they call "practical career skills" that you can apply at your job. This is a great daily read for entry-level workers who want to make a great impression, and the variety of topics and advice provided make this is a fantastic bookmark for anyone wanting to excel.

21. Learn Street
Want to take your coding skills to the next level? Learn Street helps teach you how to use advanced coding scripts such as JavaScript, Python and Ruby without making your head explode. It even provides a service for helping you teach advanced code to others.

22. HowStuffWorks
There are things we want to know about, and then there are things we didn't know we wanted to know about. HowStuffWorks addresses the latter by providing information on a variety of topics and eye-opening facts that will broaden your horizons.

23. OneLook
Finding a great dictionary is not a difficult task in a world full of search engines, but it can be tricky to define more complicated words and phrases that most dictionaries (besides UrbanDictionary) don't attempt to define. With OneLook, you can find multiple definitions from numerous dictionaries in one place, even if you're looking up a phrase that is obscure or too specific for normal dictionaries to help you out with.

24. The World Factbook
Did you know that the CIA has information on pretty much everything in the world? Okay, but did you know that they make a ton of this information open to the public? The World Factbook is your godsend for research, allowing you to cite facts and details that pertain to a seemingly endless amount of information from reputable sources.

25. Couchsurfing
Don't let the name fool you, as Couchsurfing is far from a website that will make you lazy. Couchsurfing lets you connect with travelers all over the world and is the ultimate resource for experiencing other cultures. Put simply, you can use the social network to meet locals in a new community you are visiting. You can also open up your home to fellow couchsurfers, giving you the chance to make new experiences and memories with fascinating people from all over the globe.

 

More from Quora:

How Should a 22-Year-Old Invest Time?

What are the Best Day-to-Day Time-Saving Hacks

What One Sentence Can Remind Yourself to Keep a Positive Mind

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are the most productive ways to spend time on the Internet?

 

Iceland’s Volcanic Eruptions Could Be a Huge Headache for Air Travel

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 08:37 AM PDT

A subglacial eruption is underway at Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, where there have been thousands of earthquakes in the past week, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said Saturday.

Seismic data suggests that volcanic lava is melting ice beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, said seismic vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer, Reuters reports. It’s unclear whether the eruption will break through the ice and shoot steam and ash into the atmosphere. The amount of ash produced in a larger eruption would depend on how thick the ice is, Pfeffer said, with thicker ice likely to cause a more explosive and ash-rich eruption.

Iceland indicated on Saturday that an eruption could cause “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere” and changed its aviation alert for the volcano to the highest level of red. Ash clouds can cause a massive headache for international airlines, as aircraft have to be rerouted to avoid them. More than 100,000 flights were cancelled in 2010 after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokul, an Icelandic volcano that produced a cloud so large it obstructed air travel.

[AP]

 

Iceland: Small Volcano Eruption Underway

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 07:57 AM PDT

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland’s Meteorological Office says a subglacial eruption is underway at the Bardarbunga volcano, which has been rattled by thousands of earthquakes over the past week.

Vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer says sesmic data indicates that lava is melting ice beneath the Vatnajokull glacier.

She said it was not clear when, or if, the eruption would melt the ice and send steam and ash into the air.

Iceland raised its aviation alert for the volcano to the highest level of red on Saturday, indicating an eruption that could cause “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere.”

It’s Now Illegal to Hide Ebola Patients in Sierra Leone

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 07:26 AM PDT

In a move meant to help the country more effectively combat a deadly Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone approved a measure Friday that would impose jail time on anyone caught hiding someone infected with the virus.

The law, an amendment to the country’s 1960 Public Health Act, imposes prison sentences of up to two years for violators, the Associated Press reports.

Sierra Leone has recorded at least 910 cases and 392 deaths as part of the current outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. Many cases, however, go unrecorded when families hide patients out of fear of high fatality rates and the stigma that comes with a positive diagnosis.

[AP]

4 Ways Tim Cook Has Changed Apple As CEO

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 07:11 AM PDT

When Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO on August 24, 2011, the company's future was anything but certain. The tech giant had become the most valuable company in the world just weeks before, thanks to a decade's worth of wildly successful new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The disruptive devices were credited almost exclusively to Jobs' genius, and consumers as well as Wall Street analysts wondered whether Tim Cook, his soft-spoken successor, could guide Apple even higher.

Fast forward three years and Cook has proved his doubters wrong. This week, he got quite the anniversary gift when Apple's stock reached an all-time high, largely because of strong recent earnings reports and anticipation of the iPhone 6, rumored to be announced this fall. Apple’s new share price high is a sign investors are buying into Cook’s vision for the companys’ future, which looks different from Jobs’s.

Here's a look at four ways Apple has changed during the Era of Cook.

Only Cook Could Go to China

Jobs famously never visited China during his tenure as Apple CEO—that was Cook's job, who served as the company's chief operating officer before Jobs stepped down. As CEO, Cook has taken a more hands-on approach in the world's most populous country, visiting China multiple times to meet with government officials and survey Apple's factories there. Even more important than the trips is the deal Cook inked last year with China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier, to carry the iPhone. His focus on the country has paid off handsomely. China is now Apple's fastest-growing sales market by far, generating $5.9 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter.

"There is no doubt [Cook] recognizes the fact that China will become Apple's number one market," Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester, said in an email to TIME.

Goosing Apple’s Stock Through Share Buybacks

Investors have long clamored for Apple to make better use of its massive $160 billion cash hoard. Jobs ignored a suggestion by Warren Buffet to launch a share buyback program, but Cook has launched a massive share repurchase plan to reclaim $90 billion in company stock. Such programs make investors happy by putting cash in their pockets, while also improving a company's financial optics by boosting its earnings per share. The share repurchase plan, which was expanded earlier this year, has helped Apple stock rally in recent months after tumbling from an all-time high in September 2012. In fact, the company's 25% gain in stock price since purchasing $18 billion of its shares in the first quarter of the year was the best return ever following a share buyback, according to Bloomberg.

Diversifying Apple’s Core Products

Part of Apple's financial success stems from the fact that it manufactures a relatively small slate of products that sell on a massive scale. Cook has deviated somewhat from this strategy by introducing variants on the iPad (the iPad Mini) and the iPhone (the iPhone 5c) that serve as smaller cheaper alternatives to Apple’s flagship devices. Apple doesn't break out the sales of individual products within the iPad and iPhone lines, but according to mobile marketing firm Fiksu, the iPad Mini was the second most-used iPad as of April. More impressive than the sales is the fact that Cook has been able to keep Apple's margins impressively high while adding new production costs.

"Jobs did a lot of the heavy lifting developing home run products such as the iPad and iPhone," says Bill Kreher, an equity analyst at Edward Jones. "Cook has been able to extend the reach of those products, improving profitability."

Increasing Apple’s Acquisitions and Partnerships

Apple made few acquisitions in the Jobs era, and they were generally small. Cook, on the other hand, has bought up 23 companies since taking the reins, according to Crunchbase. No buyout caused more waves than Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, which was either a smart acqui-hire of Beats' music and marketing maestros or proof that Apple has lost its creative spark, depending on your perspective. The purchase mainly showed that Cook isn't afraid to seek help from outside his Cupertino headquarters. For more evidence, consider Apple’s recently announced partnership with former nemesis IBM to bring a suite of enterprise apps to iOS.

Make no mistake—investors are still clamoring for Cook to release a new product disruptive as the iPhone or the iPad. Rumors persist that Apple will eventually launch an iWatch, or perhaps a pay-TV service to compete with cable. For now, though, with iPhone sales climbing ever higher and investors' pockets being lined through a share buyback, Wall Street seems content with Apple's trajectory.

"You have Steve Jobs, who was the innovator, the visionary, says Kreher, "and you have Tim Cook, who is a good steward of the business and is an excellent executor."

Outlander Recap: Claire Discovers the Folkloric Key to Her Escape

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Things are getting intense on Outlander, and by “things,” I mean Claire Randall’s heaving bosom, which is literally begging to be unleashed all over the Highlands’ verdant pastures. Last week, Claire’s plan to go back to the future failed when she was made an official prisoner of Castle Leoch, and this week she spent most of her time finger-wagging, being wistful, and facing off against the evil demons who roam Scotland.

But before parsing through Claire’s life as a sexually charged sassenach, Outlander‘s third episode gifts us with a flash to the future, wherein Claire’s historian husband bids her farewell as she leaves for the front lines. Because yes, it’s Claire — not Frank — who occupied the trenches during World War II, and this reversal of traditional roles sets the viewer up for Claire’s insistence on challenging gender norms in 18th century Scotland. You know, where she enjoys life as a glorified witch-doctor / professional groper of shirtless man-breasts.

While Claire spends much of this episode diligently asserting her feminist beliefs (and getting to know an entirely different brand of feminism), we’re also re-introduced to the omnipresent supernatural, which — unlike almost every male on this show — might be an adversary that Claire can’t outwit. With that in mind, let’s take another trip to the rippling moors of Outlander, shall we?

Claire Experiences The Real-Life Version of Drunk History

Thanks to Claire humble-bragging about the fact that she’s a nurse every five seconds, she spends most of her time in a dank infirmary — the very same infirmary where Future Frank performed oral sex on her just days earlier. But rather than bemoan her new role as Castle Leoch’s doctor, Claire partakes in a cheerful montage of wound-tending (set to a Celtic jig), and happily conducts the unfortunate task of massaging Colum MacKenzie’s naked backside to ease the pain of his pycnodysostosis. Though the job is fifty shades of horrifying, it should be noted that Claire in a position of physical control over Colum. He might be her captor, but even his most demeaning treatment of Claire renders him physically vulnerable.

As a reward for Claire’s compliance, Colum invites her to a concert, which is essentially an opportunity for her to dive into yet another love triangle — this time between Jamie and Laoghaire Mackenzie, the damsel in distress whom he valiantly saved from a public beating last week. Laoghaire is obviously in love with Jamie (get in line, friend), but instead of Claire following through with her promise to set them up, she and Jamie get drunk and wander off to “dress his wound.” By now we know this is just an excuse for Jamie to muse about flogging while Claire strokes his shoulder, but the highlight of this particular bonding session is Jamie staring deeply into Claire’s eyes. They’re the windows to her soul, after all, and as a flag-waving feminist, Jamie knows that beauty is only skin deep. He’s so wise, despite his floggy malaise!

Claire Denounces Demons, Comes Down With An Acute Case of Love Sickness

Turns out everyone in the 18th century is full-on obsessed with demons, especially those that reside at the ruins near Castle Leoch. Apparently, this place is swarming with supernatural townies who love nothing more than possessing children, and Claire decides to protest an exorcism that’s being performed on one such child — the nephew of her friendly maid, Mrs. Fitz. Unfortunately, Claire’s attempt to save this bonny lad is thwarted by woman-hating Father Bain, and she fails to overcome the confines of her gender and seize control of the situation as she’d hoped. But is her failure really Father Bain’s gain? Or is Claire’s real foe in this situation the ever-intangible supernatural forces at play? Surely, if she can find a logical answer to Castle Leoch’s demon problem, she can find a logical answer to her own time travel conundrum.

More on that later, because important things are afoot: Claire catches Jamie kissing Laoghaire in a hallway. The good news? Jamie probably isn’t a virgin (I was worried). The bad news? He’s betraying his core belief system. Laoghaire obviously represents everything Claire doesn’t: she’s innocent, naive, definitely hasn’t read anything by Virginia Woolf, and most importantly, she’s all wrong for Scotland’s resident dreamboat. And considering that this semi-mulleted hero spent last week being the world’s best feminist, I’m slightly surprised that he’d so quickly fall into caricature by philandering with Laoghaire solely because she’s attractive. What about her personality, Jamie? WWBFD (What Would Betty Friedan Do)?

Claire Bests the Paranormal, Forms Cunning Plan

After mooning over Jamie atop yet another buttress, Claire visits her friend Geillis and meets Arthur, a flatulent fellow who dispenses justice among the locals. This is a learning moment for Claire, as she’s introduced to a conflicting brand of feminism when Geillis uses her “wiles” to convince Arthur not to chop off a little boy’s hand as punishment for stealing. While Claire attempts to reason with Arthur as one intelligent person to another, Geilles uses prototypical gender roles to her advantage and succeeds in changing his mind (though the poor boy still gets his ear nailed to a post). The question is, will Claire abandon her scruples and embrace new-wave feminism?

Claire doesn’t have to ponder this issue for too long, because Jamie wanders in and (after releasing the boy’s ear) whisks her off to the possessed ruins near Castle Leoch so they can discuss demons. (Not to be confused with flogging, which was shockingly not discussed.) It only takes Claire about five minutes to realize that Scottish children are being “possessed” thanks to their consumption of lily of the valley, which they binge-eat like it’s going out of style. Claire’s discovery not only shows that she’s smarter than her haters, but also that she’s rationalized the pervasive supernatural element in this episode. She’s found an explanation for demons, and now she’s free to find one for her own inexplicable journey through time.

Claire stumbles upon the answers she’s looking for after saving Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, and though she initially fears that she’ll forever be Castle Leoch’s “miracle worker,” she comes to an epiphany while listening to a folk song about — you guessed it — time travel. The key to Claire’s escape according to folklore? Returning to Craigh na Dun at night and touching the stone that whisked her to the 18th century. Claire might not know what she’s up against, but she’s ditching Castle Leoch with or without permission from her captors. Way to reclaim your agency, Claire, but I can’t be alone in hoping you stay long enough to educate Jamie in the ways of 20th century sex. Who’s with me?

Chicago Team Could Be First All African-American Squad to Win Little League World Series

Posted: 23 Aug 2014 06:00 AM PDT

Updated 11:15 a.m. ET

Mo’ne Davis is gone from this year’s Little League World Series. So now let’s talk a bit about a kid named Pierce Jones.

In any other year, when a girl isn’t throwing the first shutout in the history of the Little League World Series, or when she’s not becoming the first Little Leaguer to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Jones’ name would be much more familiar. In the opening game for Jackie Robinson West Little League, hailing from Chicago’s South Side, Jones smacked three home runs and a triple. He led off another game with a long ball a few days later. Jones’ Jackie Robinson team defeated Davis’ Taney squad 6-5 on Thursday, to put the kids from the Windy City in the U.S. Championship Game on Saturday. They will face the undefeated Mountain Ridge team from Las Vegas.

Jackie Robinson is trying to make a little bit of baseball history too. If the Chicago squad can get by Las Vegas and win the championship game on Sunday, it would become the first all-African American team to win the Little League World Series. “I don’t know anyone here,” says Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams, “who hasn’t been watching them.” In fact, last Monday more than five times any many Chicagoans watched the Little League team on ESPN than watched the White Sox play the Baltimore Orioles on Comcast Sports Net.

The kids have given their city a nice psychic lift. “Unfortunately, we’ve woken up to bad news far too often,” says Williams. “Everyone is aware of the murder rate in Chicago, particularly in western and southern parts of the city. Yes, these things are happening, but there are so many superstar people in these communities doing so many positive things. People volunteering to help at-risk youth, kids playing and learning from sports. And these kids, playing baseball, have helped show this city in such a different light. They are changing perceptions.”

And they could give baseball a boost. “This is so great for baseball in so many different ways,” says Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig. “It’s really been a thrill to watch.”

It’s no secret that the percentage of African-American players in the big leagues has drastically declined: 8.3% of players on this year’s opening day rosters were African-American. Back in 1975, 27% of all players were African-American. (Though one baseball researcher, Mark Amour, says the highest percentage of African-Americans in the major leagues was 19% in 1986; Amour argues the 1975 number included all dark-skinned players, including Latino-Americans.) Though a single Little League team can’t singlehandedly reverse this trend, “everything that has happened, having these kids play in prime-time on national television, and getting exposure in different media outlets, is surely raising awareness about baseball in African-American communities,” says New York Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson, who grew up in the Chicago area and donated $5 million to build a baseball stadium at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. Curtis Granderson Stadium also hosts events for 38 youth baseball organizations in the area. “It gets kids’ attention,” says Granderson, who is African-American. ”Wow, there’s an all-black baseball team? I haven’t seen that before.'”

Baseball’s fight for the attention of African-American athletes — and fans — faces serious hurdles. Travel baseball, which is more important than ever on the youth level, is prohibitively expensive, and doesn’t have the same level of grassroots investments — read, sneaker company — as a sport like basketball to offset some of these costs. Then, there’s the “cool/marketing factor,” as Granderson puts it. Granderson points to social media: LeBron James has 14.2 million Twitter followers. Dwayne Wade has 4.38 million. At cafeterias across the country, young African-Americans are talking about LeBron and D-Wade, not Clayton Kershaw (202,000 Twitter followers) and Mike Trout (520,000). So as kids start specializing in a single sport at younger and younger ages, African-Americans are bound to pick basketball or football, both of which offer a quicker, more glamorous path to the pros. Play a little college ball in front of millions, and skip all the bus rides in the minors, which weed out tons of prospects.

If African-Americans no longer feels a connection to baseball, “you’ve got to put a question mark on the game’s status as the national pastime,” says Granderson. “I’m just very excited for these Chicago kids, it’s been amazing how they’ve showcased their skills. And hopefully, the conversation about African-Americans and baseball continues, and some positives for our sport will come out of it.”

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