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Jim Bunning, a US Senator and Hall of Fame Pitcher, Dies at 85

Jim Bunning, who showed much of the same combativeness as a U.S. congressman as he had done during his Hall of Fame career as a hard-throwing pitcher in baseball’s major leagues, died at the age of 85, his son said on Saturday.

“Heaven got its No 1 starter today. Our lives & the nation are better off because of your love & dedication to family,” read a Twitter message from his son, David Bunning. Bunning, who became the first Hall of Famer to serve in the U.S. Congress, representing Kentucky in the U.S. Senate and a Cincinnati-area district in the House of Representatives, led a “long and storied life,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader.

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Jim Bunning, A US Senator And Hall Of Fame Pitcher, Dies At 85Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), a Hall of Fame pitcher, smiles as he talks about progress made by Major League Baseball in dealing with steroids in Washington November 15, 2005. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“From his days in the major leagues to his years as my colleague in the Senate … Jim rarely shied away from a new adventure,” McConnell, one of Kentucky’s current senators, said in a statement. A foe of abortion and gay marriage and a backer of tax cuts, gun rights and the Iraq war, the conservative Republican served in the House from 1987 to 1998, when he was first elected to the Senate.

After two terms, Bunning announced he would not seek re-election in 2010 due to difficulty raising funds. His erratic behavior by that point had made him something of an embarrassment for Republican colleagues. Bunning remained combative in his final year in office, single-handedly holding up an emergency appropriations bill for several days as a one-man protest against federal spending. In a baseball career that covered much of the 1950s and 1960s, Bunning pitched no-hitters for both the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, becoming the first pitcher to hurl such gems in each major league.

While he won plenty of headlines as a baseball standout, the broad, tall and white-haired Bunning was more of a backup in Congress. Time magazine, in April 2006, ranked Bunning as among the nation’s “five worst senators,” dubbing him “the underperformer” who was hostile to his staff and showed little interest in policy unless it involved baseball. Still, Bunning had his moments on Capitol Hill.

As a member of the ethics committee, Bunning helped lead the charge against a House banking overdraft scandal in 1992 that contributed to Democrats losing control of the chamber two years later for the first time in four decades. In 1993, five years before President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House on charges stemming from having an affair with an intern, Bunning drew attention when he denounced the then newly elected Democrat as “corrupt,” “amoral” and “despicable.”

In 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, he teamed up with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California to win passage of legislation to arm airline pilots. Bunning won re-election to the Senate in 2004 in a bitter contest that raised questions about his mental health and strange behavior.

At one point, Bunning said his opponent, Democratic state senator Daniel Mongiardo, looked like one of the sons of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and accused Mongiardo of passing on “horrible rumors” about Bunning’s health. Bunning also refused to give the news media advanced notice of his appearances, began to travel with a security guard and accused his opponent’s staffers of having physically run into his wife at a campaign event, leaving her black and blue. The Courier-Journal editorialized: “Is he, as he ages, just becoming a more concentrated version of himself: more arrogant, more prickly?”

“Or is his increased belligerence an indication of something worse? Has Senator Bunning drifted into a territory that indicates a serious health concern?”

On Election Day, Bunning, who once enjoyed a big lead in the polls, narrowly defeated Mongiardo, with 51 percent to 49 percent.

The following year, Bunning, who played baseball during an era marked by low wages and an open devotion to the game, introduced a bill to crack down on performance-enhancing drugs in pro sports. Just hours before the Senate was expected to pass the measure, Major League Baseball and its players association announced an agreement to toughen drug tests and penalties.

“This is what I had hoped for all along, for the two private parties to come to an agreement on their own without Congress having do it for them,” Bunning said, adding he hoped “they did it for the fans, parents and children, as well as the integrity of the game.”

Bunning was born on Oct. 23, 1931, in Southgate, Kentucky. He entered the minor leagues in 1950 and made it to the major leagues six years later after graduating from Xavier University. In 1957, Bunning became the only pitcher ever to strike out Ted Williams, considered one of baseball’s greatest hitters, three times in one game.

He had a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers in 1958 and in 1964 pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies. He also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. He retired in 1971 with a lifetime record of 224 wins and 184 losses and a reputation of hitting batters who challenged him with an inside fastball. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Before being elected to Congress, Bunning worked as an investment broker and agent and served in the Kentucky state Senate. He and his wife Mary had nine children.


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India gives $500 mn aid to Mauritius

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India on Saturday announced a $500 million line of credit to Mauritius as the two countries decided to firm up cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. The two sides signed a maritime security agreement after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth. In a statement, Mr. Modi said he and Mr. Jugnauth agreed that effective management of conventional and non-conventional threats in the Indian Ocean is essential to pursue economic opportunities and provide security to the people of both the countries.

We have to keep up our vigil against piracy that impacts trade and tourism, trafficking of drugs and humans, illegal fishing, and other forms of illegal exploitation of marine resources, the Prime Minister said. The bilateral maritime accord will strengthen cooperation and capacities, he said, noting that the two sides also agreed to strengthen their wide-ranging cooperation in hydrography for a secure and peaceful maritime domain.

On his part, Mr. Jugnauth said the two countries need to ensure that the sea lanes of communications are safe and secure and regular patrolling is conducted to combat illegal activities such as piracy, illegal fishing in the territorial waters and drug trafficking. A decision to extend the operational life of Coast Guard ship Guardian, that was given by India to Mauritius under a grant assistance programme, was also taken. During his visit to Mauritius in March 2015, Mr. Modi had commissioned offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Barracuda, built and financed by India, into the Mauritian Coast Guard.

Holding that Mauritius has strong defence and security ties with India, the visiting prime minister said the acquisition of such OPVs and fast interceptor boats from India has enhanced the operational capacities of its police and coast guard. Besides the maritime pact, three other agreements were also signed after talks between the two leaders. They were for setting up of a civil services college in Mauritius, one on cooperation in ocean research and the US dollar Credit Line Agreement between the SBM Mauritius Infrastructure Development Company and Export-Import Bank of India.

Line of credit

Mr. Modi said the agreement on the line of credit to Mauritius was a good example of the strong and continuing commitment to the development of that country. The two sides also decided to ramp up cooperation in a number of areas including trade and investment.

India is proud to participate actively in the ongoing development activities in Mauritius, Mr. Modi said.

Manchester attack: UK reduces terror threat level to ‘severe’

Manchester Attack: UK Reduces Terror Threat Level To 'severe' Manchester victims remembered at vigil

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LONDON (CNN) – Britain’s terror threat level has been reduced to “severe” from “critical,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday after meeting with security chiefs.

“The public should be clear about what this means. A threat level of ‘severe’ means an attack is highly likely — the country should remain vigilant,” May said. The decision to lower the threat rating from its highest level was made by the country’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, May said. The level had been raised to “critical” after Monday’s deadly bombing in Manchester. Investigators are continuing efforts to try to contain the network they believe is behind the suicide attack by Salman Abedi, 22, a British national of Libyan descent who targeted an Ariana Grande show.

Armed police will patrol events in Manchester, London and elsewhere as Britain marks its first holiday weekend since the Manchester bombing.

Where will people see extra security?

In Manchester, events planned around this weekend’s spring bank holiday will go ahead with additional security, including a significant number of armed officers, police said. British officers do not usually carry guns. These include the Manchester Games, the Great Manchester Run, and a stadium show by bands including The Courteeners, all of which are likely to attract big crowds. This weekend also marks the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. Among the high-profile events taking place in London are the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, a major event in the soccer calendar, and a rugby final at Twickenham. Chelsea Football Club canceled a Sunday parade to honor its Premier League victory.

Extra armed officers can patrol events this weekend because soldiers will guard key locations, such as the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace, said Chief Superintendent Jon Williams of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Officers will be present at some events and popular places that they would not normally patrol, he said.

“All of this is designed to make the policing approach unpredictable and to make London as hostile an environment as possible to terrorists,” Williams said

What’s happened in the investigation?

Two more men were arrested early Saturday and taken into custody after officers carried out a controlled explosion to enter a home in the Cheetham Hill area of central Manchester, police said in a statement. So far, 13 people have been arrested in the investigation, with 11 still in custody. Police on Saturday also evacuated an area around a property in the Moss Side neighborhood of Manchester.

Police are “making enormous progress” in the Manchester bombing investigation, “but we’ve still got some loose ends to tie up,” Britain’s top counterterror officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said Friday.

“The understanding of (the plot) is growing day by day. I think we’ve got our hands around a large part of it,” he said. “We’ve got our hands around some of the key players. We still have more to do.”

UK authorities have disrupted five plots since March 22, when a terror attack outside Parliament in London left five people dead, Security Minister Ben Wallace said.

“There are over 400 investigations currently ongoing by the security services and police into terrorist planning or people thinking about terrorist planning,” he said.

What about the Libya connection?

Abedi’s younger brother said he knew generally about the plot, but did not know where and when the blast would be, a Libyan militia spokesman told private broadcaster Libya’s Channel. Hashim Ramadan Abu Qassem al-Abedi spoke by phone with his brother Salman only 15 minutes before the blast, the spokesman said. The bomber’s brother was detained in Libya a day after the bombing by a militia nominally under the control of Libya’s interior ministry. The militia also arrested the brothers’ father, Ramadan al-Abedi.

What about the victims?

All 22 of those killed in the bomb attack at the Manchester Arena concert have now been named. Many were children, including an 8-year-old girl. Others were parents waiting to pick up their children from what for many would have been their first concert. Family and friends have paid moving tributes to those lost. Dozens more were injured, and as of Thursday, 23 survivors remained in critical care in Manchester hospitals. Many suffered “horrific” and potentially life-changing injuries, a senior doctor said. Ariana Grande posted a letter Friday to on Twitter on Friday saying she would return to Manchester to perform a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of the bombing and their families.

“The compassion, kindness, love, strength and oneness that you’ve shown one another this past week is the exact opposite of the heinous intentions it must take to pull off something as evil as what happened Monday,” she said.

What’s the mood in Manchester?

Politicians of all stripes have praised the people of Manchester for their spirit of unity and resilience in the wake of the attack. Banks of flowers and balloons have been left in a city center square in tribute to the victims and residents have joined vigils in their memory. An armed policeman was snapped blowing a kiss to a group of people holding a “free hugs” sign and street artists have painted new murals to honor the victims.

However, there is a darker side to life in the city in the wake of the bombing. Police said Friday there had been an increase in reported hate incidents, with the number rising from 28 on Monday — described as an average day — to 56 on Wednesday.

These can’t be directly linked to Monday’s bombing, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said, but police are monitoring the situation.