A better runoff election

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BACKGROUND:
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a term used in the United States for a single-winner voting system where ballots allow candidates to be ranked in order of preference, and counted in a runoff process, where everyone's top choice is counted each round, and the least supported candidates are eliminated, and votes for such candidates are transfered to the next choice. It's also called "Ranked Choice voting", "Contingency vote", "Supplementary vote", and "Single transferable vote".

IRV is a simple reform over plurality system where there's no runoff process because there's no spoiler effect. It is better than a regular runoff because voters only need to vote once. But it can be considered inferior to a regular runoff because it takes more work to rank choice, and voters don't know how deep they need to rank to make sure their vote counts. In comparison a regular runoff, voters have another chance to evaluate the remaining competition.

PROBLEM
The primary problem with IRV exists also in any runoff process - cases where you have 3 strong candidates. In any runoff process, candidates advance by having "core appeal" - support by people who consider such candidates better than all others. But to win majority support in the final round, a candidate must also have "compromise appeal". The FLAW of a forced-elimination runoff is somtimes a candidate will rise to second place to make the final round, but not have the compromise appeal to win. Such supporters can't move their vote back to a compromise candidate.

ONE SOLUTION
A solution to this problem is obtained in an election method called Condorcet, named after a French Mathematician. He proposed the "true majority opinion" among 3 or more choices be obtained by performing head-to-head competition. If any choice has majority support head-to-head over every other choice, that choice is called the "Condorcet winner". An ambiguity of this approach is that there may be no such winner. Like the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game, it's possible in every pair competition to have a different winner.

It can be seen that "Plurality" is a pure "core appeal" method. It uses the "spoiler effect" to get coalitions of voters to "agree to agree" before the election to improve their chances to win. "Condorcet" is a pure "compromise appeal" method. A candidate can theoretically win by being no one's favorite but everyone's second choice.

RUNOFFS AS A COMPROMISE
Runoffs actually represent a simple hybrid of these two extremes. Runoff reward "core appeal" in the early rounds, and require "compromise appeal" in the final round.

A BETTER COMPROMISE THAN IRV
I believe two rounds of voting is good because it allows voters a chance in the second round to evaluate the remaining candidates. The first round is best seen as a "Primary" or "elimination round". Rank preference ballots can be used like IRV, but no winner is chosen. Instead the weakest candidates are eliminated one-by-one until all the remaining candidates exceed some predetermined level of support, like 20 or 25% perhaps.

Candidates who survive the elimination are all treated as equals in a Condorcet process. Voters again rank their choices, and the ballots are tallied with head-to-head competition to find a Condorcet winner.

In the rare case that no candidate passes as the Condorcet winner, then we must consider what to do, and there's no right answer. A revote might be done. My thought is that if no candidate can beat all competitors head-to-head that you have a "virtual tie", just like you could have an exact tie in a plurality system. In this case, if a single winner must be made, and the people can't decide, then there's no fair way to break the tie except by a random determination.

My reasoning for this compromise is:
1. Candidates require "core appeal" to pass the first round. These candidates have been "vetted" by a strong fraction of the voters and deserve consideration by the whole.
2. Candidates in the second round are never eliminated and voters are encouraged to look at all of them carefully to rank their choices.

The first round reduced the number of candidates to a number voters are willing to evaluate, and the second round picks the strongest majority winner (OR determines there is no majority winner in a virtual tie.)

FINAL NOTES:
Election theorists generally dislike runoffs, and IRV specifically, saying it contains a property call "Nonmonotonicity" which basically means sometimes voting against your favorite can help him win. This can be understood in a runoff process. Let's say your candidate polls around 40% against two competitors near 30%. If you believe one of your competitors has "compromise appeal" to beat your choice, you might consider voting against your 40% favorite, in favor of the weaker competitor to help eliminate your stronger competitor. This strategy is more powerful in sequential voting runoffs, while dangerous in IRV since you can't move your vote back to your real favorite there.

The compromise above retains a "spoiler effect" in that good compromise candidates can get eliminated in the first round, AND it retains a monotonicity failure potential. But at least it has a clear "threshold for viability". Candidates are encouraged to gain the threshold percentage, and like-minded voters are encouraged to work together on one strong candidate who can make the threshold.

I don't know of any weaknesses of this system. All election methods are somewhat "subjective", containing rules that encourage voters to compromise, and finding the balance between "having choices" and "having knowledge to make good choices" can never be solved absolutely. Different elections may choose different solutions. This solution is just one solution of many that tried to balance these issues.

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NIKE ANNOUNCES 20-YEAR PARTNERSHIP WITH FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA

Nike reinforced its commitment to the future of Australian football, announcing an 11-year extension deal with Football Federation Australia (FFA), cementing a 20-year-long partnership.

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The deal not only signifies the largest single commitment of term and financial contribution between an Australian National sporting team and an apparel manufacturer, it is also the largest guaranteed sponsorship investment for the FFA since its inception in 2004.

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Nike’s partnership with the FFA kicked off in 2004 and this renewal marks the third consecutive agreement between the two organizations over nine years.

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“Nike is dedicated to the development and success of the game of football both locally and on a global scale,” said Paul Faulkner, General Manager, Nike Pacific. “This renewal solidifies Nike’s commitment to the sport in Australia and supports each and every player in the game. From the elite level with the Qantas Socceroos and Westfield Matildas, to professional via the Hyundai A-League, to our various grassroots initiatives such as Youth teams, The Chance and Manchester United Premier Cup, Nike is focused on ensuring the ongoing success of Australian Football.”

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“Today’s announcement of an 11-year sponsorship extension represents an overwhelming vote of confidence in Australian football and it’s incredibly exciting future,” said FFA CEO Ben Buckley. “It’s a powerful symbol of the emerging strength of the game in this country. I thank Nike for their unwavering commitment to Australian football and their substantial investment in the game.”

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Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement is not the "fault" of Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu

We've barely gotten over the shock of yesterday's events and already, I'm starting to see a worrisome trend of people finger-pointing at Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. This column won't help matters. And the topic is starting to come up on blogs and chat forums. The idea that Wakamatsu "forced" Griffey out of Seattle and that it's the manager's fault he is gone.

Not true. Wakamatsu had no choice. He's a second-year manager in serious trouble, given the underperformance of his team, the fact that a hitting coach on his staff has already been fired and that his dugout decisions are now being questioned daily by fans and some in the media.

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In other words, Wakamatsu has to manage, and manage well, or he, too, could find himself at home a lot sooner than he'd imagined.

I've been told that Wakamatsu and griffeys hadn't spoken to one another in over a week, at least, in a meaningful way. Whether that changed in the last 48 hours or so, I have no idea, but am told Griffey was not happy with being relegated to one pinch-hit appearance every week. He's not around now to answer questions, but when a guy up and retires and starts a cross-country drive home without so much as speaking to his manager, general manager, or addressing his teammates directly, you can assume there might be some hard feelings involved.

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But that's not Wakamatsu's problem. He has a team to manage and owes it to the other 24 players in that room to put the best club on the field that he possibly can. Griffey was given six weeks of daily playing time to recover his form and was unable to do it. Wakamatsu covered for him at every turn, telling reporters Griffey was working on using his legs more when he swung. He gave Griffey a start in his home state in Florida, even though it was clear by then that the lineup was somewhat depleted without Milton Bradley and could ill afford the presence of a sub-.500 OPS hitter in its ranks any longer.

If a player feels that communication is lacking with his manager, it's up to the player to go to that manager's office and say so. That's the way it works in baseball. Wakamatsu didn't hold a closed door meeting with Rob Johnson to tell him why he was on the bench the first few games that Josh Bard took over. He expected Johnson to know why.

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Yes, Griffey is of a greater stature than Johnson will ever be. But the same rules apply in professional baseball. You produce, you play. If you don't produce, then you can't expect to play once the team has somebody in-hand to take your place.

Of the other 24 guys in the room, only Mike Sweeney is in a position where he's unlikely to still be playing a year from now. No other players on the team are 40 years old yet, like Griffey is.

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So, it's a no-go to say that some struggling Mariners are still being given a chance to recover their form while Griffey was not.

Some players, like Johnson and Casey Kotchman, have lost playing time when the team had a replacement in-hand. And some of the struggling players are guys who are still expected to be playing baseball for years to come.

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Griffey was in a completely different boat. And as I said, he had his chance for the entire month of April and much of May.

Wakamatsu was in a no-win situation. If he doesn't play Griffey, he looks like the bad guy. Because there was no way for Griffey to recapture his stroke while pinch-hitting once a week.

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And if he did play Griffey a few times a week, still hoping for him to do something he'd been unable to for much of the past two seasons, he'd be putting his offense at risk when there were better options available.

The situation was crystal clear. And if Griffey had doubts about it, or was concerned he and his manager were not talking, Wakamatsu's door has always been open to any player. That's something Wakamatsu made clear from Day 1 of his tenure. It's not up to him to go to the player and ask whether or not the player thinks there is enough communication between them.

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Wakamatsu has so much more to worry about, starting with the other 24 guys in the room and including his holding on to the job he uses to support his family.

Believe it or not, there is precedent in sport for this type of situation. I saw it while growing up in Montreal in the mid-1980s.

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Back then, Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, a hometown hero and every bit as big in his sport as Griffey was to baseball, was on the downside of his career. And at one point, with second-year coach Jacques Lemaire running things, Lafleur could no longer take having his ice time reduced.

Lafleur would later say that he and Lemaire barely spoke and that he felt humiliated by his lack of playing time. Those events ultimately pushed Lafleur to retire, even without anyone directly telling him to.

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The difference between that story and Griffey's? Well, Lafleur wasn't done yet. He came back four years later to play again for both the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques. His talent level when he first retired in 1984 wasn't close to being as diminished as Griffey's was as of yesterday. He just wasn't a superstar anymore and the team didn't think he was good enough to be carried on a playoff-bound club that wound up winning a championship a year later.

And, it should be noted, Lafleur and Lemaire had been friends and linemates only a few years earlier, forming one of the better combinations in hockey history.

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And even then, there was little to no communication between them at the end. But when this happened, Lemaire was still a new coach with job security that was tenuous at-best and had to do what was in the best interests of the team, not one superstar whose luster had faded.

Lemaire went on to become one of the better coaches in the modern era of the game. Lafleur later ended his rift with the Canadiens and all ended well.

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The bottom line? There is no easy way out of a situation like this. No matter how well-intentioned everyone is. No matter how delicate everyone tries to be with the feelings involved.

The Mariners are a team that was expected to contend this season and which has not been doing so. At least one job has already been lost because of it and others are now at risk if things don't get turned around.

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That's not Griffey's fault. And it's really not Wakamatsu's fault that players have not produced what they've proved capable of in the past.

It just is what it is. And Wakamatsu now gets stuck dealing with it.

And so, in a way, must Griffey. He's still driving his car across the country. Was already in Montana by mid-day yesterday, I'm told, but that still left him with many more miles to go before reaching Orlando, Fla. I'm sure, with all that spare time of looking at highway pass in front of him. he'll be doing quite a bit of thinking.

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And hopefully, in a few days, he'll have this situation in complete and proper perspective and will give his fans a chance to say goodbye in person. This situation isn't anybody's fault. There just was no easy way out. There never is.

Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. offers no apologies for sudden exit

"More than nine months after retiring in silence, Ken Griffey Jr. returned to the Mariners with something to say.

With a hushed voice and subdued look, Griffey explained Wednesday why he drove off into retirement last June without telling his teammates, manager or general manager beforehand. Griffey is in Mariners camp in his new role as a special consultant to a team that hopes he'll make his voice heard to younger players.at www.griffeys24online.com

But before he could speak to them about the future, Griffey knew he had to address the past. His explanation to reporters at the Peoria Sports Complex was brief, and he insisted he wouldn't talk again about the topic that shocked Seattle during a disastrous 2010 season.

griffeys said he told team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln "that if I become a distraction or feel that I would be a distraction, then I would retire, because that's the one thing that I didn't want.for www.kengriffeyshoes24online.com

"Second, I gave myself a little bit of a head start. There are a lot of people that are friends of mine that would have tried to talk me out of it. And I just felt that it was best for me and the organization to retire. Through no fault of its own. Things happen. I'm not upset. I think people thought I was upset about certain things, but that's not the case.www.griffeys2012usa.com

Still, Griffey has yet to speak to former manager Don Wakamatsu, despite the close relationship the two shared during the 2009 season. When asked why he still hasn't contacted Wakamatsu, his reply was blunt.to www.griffeysusaonline.com

"My phone rings," he said. After pausing several seconds, he added: "That's just the way it is."

Several players, sources and Wakamatsu himself have said that the two stopped speaking in the weeks before griffeys retirement."

MLB honors Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was presented Sunday with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.

Griffey was a 13-time All-Star in his 22 major league seasons for the Mariners (1989-99, 2009-10), Reds (2000-08) and White Sox (2008). He hit 630 career home runs, won 10 Gold Gloves and was the 1997 AL MVP.

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It was also Griffey who initially had the idea to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.

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"He asked my permission to do that, and I of course granted it. It told me a lot, however, about Ken, about how much he understood the history, how much he understood the impact of Jackie Robinson," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "I've often gotten credit for something, but really he made a phone call to me on a Sunday night at home that I'll never forget. So with Ken leading the way, it began to catch on with other players."

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Now all on-field personnel in baseball wear No. 42 once a season, a tradition Selig said will continue "at least as long as I'm around."

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The Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award was last given in 2007, when Rachel Robinson was honored for her work to preserve the legacy of her late husband, Jackie.

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She's always had a head for figures - and now Carol Vorderman seems keen to show off her own at every opportunity at the moment.

The former Countdown star has been seen out in a series of incredibly curve-hugging dresses over the past few days, including this latest silver Herve Leger Bandage creation - a style favoured by the similarly hourglass Kim Kardashian.

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The star, 49, was leaving BBC's Television Centre in London last night when she was snapped in the attention-grabbing outfit.

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Passerby Michael Parkinson was so taken with her look he even tried to waltz her into the Galaxy Book Awards, which took place last night.

The former chat show host gallanty kissed her hand after getting to grips with his shapely friend in in a big bear hug.

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Yesterday, Carol stepped out in an equally unforgiving Victoria Beckham frock that many stars half her age would baulk at wearing.

And at the Pride Of Britain Awards, which she presented on Monday night, she was wearing a revealing black bustier Suzanne Neville dress with Swarovski stones.

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At the Galaxy Book Awards meanwhile, Stephen Fry triumphed over tomes by Tony Blair and Lord Sugar to land the biography of the year titles.

He was honoured for his second volume of memoirs, The Fry Chronicles, at a ceremony attended by stars and figures from the publishing world.

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Literary veterans Terry Pratchett and Martin Amis were given awards for outstanding achievement in recognition of their contribution to the publishing industry.

Amis, famed for books such as Money and London Fields, said he was 'delighted' with the gong, adding: 'I take this is as a boost for the so-called comic novel. I say so-called, because in fact nearly all novels are comic novels.'

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Pratchett - the Discworld novelist who has been battling Alzheimer's - said of his win: 'I'm amazed. You find something that you like doing and do well and keep on doing it and suddenly they give you an award, when all I was really doing was having a lot of fun.'

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Political broadcaster Andrew Marr landed the non-fiction prize for The Making Of Modern Britain, beating fellow nominees including Lady Antonia Fraser and Bill Bryson.

Popular fiction book of the year went to David Nicholls' One Day, beating the likes of Jilly Cooper, while Hilary Mantel picked up the UK author of the year prize, seeing off competition from Maggie O'Farrell and Kate Atkinson.

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Yotam Ottolenghi outperformed Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater meanwhile to food and drink book prize for Plenty.

Best children's book was Zog by the celebrated creators of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Their tale about an accident-prone dragon beat comedian David Walliams's book Mr Stink.

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American author Jonathan Franzen - who became a worldwide sensation for his book The Corrections - collected the International Author of the Year trophy for Freedom.

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Also on the red carpet were former Coronation Street star Hayley Tamaddon, Alan Davies and his wife Katie Maskell, and Strictly and Film 2010 presenter Claudia Winkleman.

Trey Griffey, son of Ken Griffey, Jr., commits to Arizona

Trey Griffey, the son of baseball great Ken Griffey Jr., has committed to play football for Arizona and new coach Rich Rodriguez.

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The younger Griffey confirmed his decision Monday night to the Orlando Sentinel, after his father told www.kengriffeyshoes24online.com

“My parents said, ‘It’s up to you, you got to do what you want to do ... what you feel is right,' ” Griffey said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m going to the University of Arizona. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

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Trey Griffey is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. He caught 72 passes for 970 yards as a senior, breaking records set by Florida State standout Kenny Shaw.

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Most recruiting websites consider Trey Griffey a three-star recruit, though his senior season thrust him further into the national scene. Evidence of his rise in status came recently when he was chosen to play in the Under Armour All-American Game. Griffey was one of 92 seniors selected for the game.

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Trey Griffey is characterized as an elite athlete with great hands. He said it was easy to decide Arizona was the place to take those talents.

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“I feel great … it was basically just the atmosphere and I loved everything about it,” Trey Griffey said to the Orlando Sentinel. “It was just a great, enjoyable trip to Tucson.”

Ken Griffey Jr. back at Mariners' camp with new job

Ken Griffey Jr. says he was only thinking of his teammates when he retired abruptly last June, and he's returning to Seattle for a similar reason: to help the organization that gave him his start.

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Griffey arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Mariners' spring training headquarters to begin his job as a special consultant. In his new role, Griffey will work with minor leaguers and might make an occasional appearance in the TV booth.

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For his first task, the 13-time All-Star sought to make clear that his sudden retirement was because he didn't want to be a distraction to the team.

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"I'm not upset. I think people thought I was upset at certain things," Griffey said. "I just felt that it was more important for me to retire and instead of being a distraction, it no longer became the Seattle Mariners, it became, 'When is Ken doing this? When is Ken doing that?' and that's something I didn't want to have my teammates, who I truly cared about, having to answer these types of questions day in and day out."

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Griffey wouldn't go into much more detail, even though he was asked if he could have kept playing until the end of the season and whether he could have been talked out of retiring.

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"That's not important. The important thing is it was time. That's all that needs to be said," Griffey said. "Those are what-if questions. I thought I did what was best for myself and for the team."

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Griffey, often referred to as "The Kid" for his youthful exuberance, spent his first 11 major league seasons in Seattle and rejoined the club in 2009. He reflected on his decision to walk away without fanfare, saying he never wanted a major press conference and that he retired on his own terms, regardless of how Mariners fans felt.

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"You want me to apologize for something that I felt was right? I felt that it was right for me to leave? I'm not going to do that," Griffey said. "It's not intended to hurt people, it was a decision that I made.

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"I had to worry about doing what was best for me," he added.

Griffey had a strained relationship with manager Don Wakamatsu, who was fired two months after Griffey left, and he said they haven't spoken.

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"My phone rings," Griffey said. "That's just the way it is."

Griffey ruled out any comeback and said he doesn't regret returning to Seattle for what would be a shortened 2010 season.

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Now, he's willing to do whatever the organization meeds.

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"This is the organization I grew up in, so if there was going to be an opportunity for me to be in baseball it was going to be here," he said. "It's a lot of learning. ... I'm still going to be the same person, I'm not going to change. You're going to know exactly how I feel. It's a chance to help kids get better."

Ken Griffey Sr. urges prostate testing to save lives

Ken Griffey Sr. wasn't entirely surprised when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006. He knew that it ran in the family, with four uncles succumbing to the disease.

Early detection and surgery saved Griffey's life. Now, he's urging men to get past their unease and get tested for it.

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The former Big Red Machine outfielder has joined a campaign against prostate cancer sponsored by Kimberly-Clark's Depend brand. Now 60 years old, he has been cancer-free for several years. He's also back in uniform, working as the Reds' batting coach at Class A Dayton for the first time.

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His son, Ken Griffey Jr., recently retired from the Seattle Mariners.

Griffey acknowledged during a phone interview Thursday that it's taken awhile to get over the operation that saved his life.

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"The first year was a really tough situation for me because I couldn't do anything," he said. "Nothing was going right. I was having problems all around. The doctor explained to me that over time it would get better. I'm in my fourth year now. Everything has gotten real good since then. My family has been behind me the whole time."

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Griffey played right field on the Reds teams that won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975-76. He was a three-time All-Star, winning the game's MVP honors. He ended his career in Seattle in 1991 playing with his son.

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He had only two major health issues during his 19-year career. He broke a kneecap in 1979 and had two vertebra in his neck fused in 1991, ending his playing career.

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Because of the history of prostate cancer in his family, Griffey went for regular checkups. A test in August 2006 indicated he might have the disease. The same week, his ex-wife, Birdie, was diagnosed with colon cancer. A biopsy later confirmed his cancer.

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"It was a depressing situation, but at the same time I was up because we had discovered it," Griffey said. "The doctor told me it wasn't life-threatening. That was the big thing."

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Griffey had been a special assistant to the Reds since 2002. He had to take it easy after the operation and deal with the side-effects, letting his body heal.

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"The first year is a monster," he said. "You don't know what to expect, all the changes you go through. And to be honest, you don't think things are going to get better. But over the last year, everything has gotten three times better."

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Griffey and his ex-wife are both cancer-free four years after they were diagnosed. Griffey's experience prompted him to get involved in the Depend campaign, encouraging others to get tested. He knows it's not a comfortable subject.

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"Men are totally shy," he said. "They won't talk about it at all. They don't want to admit they have that kind of a problem."

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Griffey is looking forward to another Father's Day, a chance to continue a family tradition. Since Junior was a youth, he has given his father a bottle of Old Spice and underwear every year.

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"Now he has the grandkids doing it," Griffey said.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo in the Race for 2012 Ballon d'Or

Spain's La Liga dominated the nominations for FIFA's coveted Ballon d'Or award recognizing the World Player of the Year.

Argentine Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and seven members of Spain's national squad are among the 23 soccer standouts in contention for the award, France Football magazine said Monday.

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The Spanish La Liga account for over half of the nominations with 12 Ballon d'Or hopefuls.

Of these 12 nominees, 11 come from Spain's top two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, including Messi, Ronaldo, France's Karim Benzema and Mesut ?zil of Germany.

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The Spanish contingent comprises Iker Casillas, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez.

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Besides Messi, Latin America is represented by Neymar of Brazil, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao and Sergio "Kun" Agüero, another Argentine.

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Five other contenders play for clubs in the English Premier League, among them Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, Robin van Persie - traded over the summer from Arsenal to Manchester United - and Man United stalwart Wayne Rooney.

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The three finalists for the 2012 Ballon d'Or will be announced Nov. 29 and the prize will be awarded at a Jan. 7 gala in Zürich.

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Just earlier this week, Messi was presented with his second Golden Boot award in recognition for scoring the most goals in Europe's domestic leagues last season.

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The 25-year-old Messi scored a Spanish-league record 50 goals for Barcelona, beating fellow Spanish league star Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid by four goals.

Messi dedicated the award to his teammates, saying "it is a prize for scoring goals, but without my teammates I couldn't have scored them."

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The Argentina international won his first Golden Boot in 2010 for his 34 goals that helped Barcelona win the league title.

Messi wins Golden Boot award, will he win FIFA Ballon d'Or?

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi is a firm favourite among 23-strong contenders to win his fourth straight FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

Messi, 25, scored his 300th career goal during the 5-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano and is already celebrating after winning the Golden Boot award on Monday, for scoring the highest number of goals in Europe's domestic league last season.

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The Argentinian, who won the FIFA World Player award thrice in a row, has scored 73 goals for Barcelona in all competitions this year, just short of Pele's 75 for Santos and Brazil in 1959 and nearing Germany and Bayern Munich legend Gerd Mueller's record of 85 in 1972.

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Messi's closest rival to the award is Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2008, along with teammates Iker Casillas Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso.

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However, Barcelona have their own candidates in Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, European player of the year Andres Iniesta and midfielder Xavi Hernandez.

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Meanwhile, only five players have been shortlisted from the Barclays Premier League, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure along with rivals Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, the only English player on the list.

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Champions League winner with Chelsea Didier Drogba, who currently plays for Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, is also nominated.

For the FIFA Coach of the Year award, 10-strong list of managers including Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Pep Guardiola (Barcelona), Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Loew (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) and Cesare Prandelli (Italy) and Premier League's Roberto Mancini (Chelsea), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Roberto Mancini (Manchester City) are shortlisted.

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Three finalists will be unveiled on Nov 29 while the winner will be announced at the FIFA Gala in Zurich on Jan 7 next year.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo in the Race for 2012 Ballon d'Or

Spain's La Liga dominated the nominations for FIFA's coveted Ballon d'Or award recognizing the World Player of the Year.

Argentine Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and seven members of Spain's national squad are among the 23 soccer standouts in contention for the award, France Football magazine said Monday.

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The Spanish La Liga account for over half of the nominations with 12 Ballon d'Or hopefuls.

Of these 12 nominees, 11 come from Spain's top two clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, including Messi, Ronaldo, France's Karim Benzema and Mesut ?zil of Germany.

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The Spanish contingent comprises Iker Casillas, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez.

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Besides Messi, Latin America is represented by Neymar of Brazil, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao and Sergio "Kun" Agüero, another Argentine.

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Five other contenders play for clubs in the English Premier League, among them Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, Robin van Persie - traded over the summer from Arsenal to Manchester United - and Man United stalwart Wayne Rooney.

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The three finalists for the 2012 Ballon d'Or will be announced Nov. 29 and the prize will be awarded at a Jan. 7 gala in Zürich.

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Just earlier this week, Messi was presented with his second Golden Boot award in recognition for scoring the most goals in Europe's domestic leagues last season.

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The 25-year-old Messi scored a Spanish-league record 50 goals for Barcelona, beating fellow Spanish league star Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid by four goals.

Messi dedicated the award to his teammates, saying "it is a prize for scoring goals, but without my teammates I couldn't have scored them."

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The Argentina international won his first Golden Boot in 2010 for his 34 goals that helped Barcelona win the league title.

Haven't we seen that before? Rachel Weisz brings out bandage dress again

Rachel Weisz was certainly going green by wearing this grey Herve Leger bodycon dress for her appearance on hit US TV show Tonight With Jay Leno - it's a dress she recycled from two years ago.

The stunning 40-year-old actress initially wore the skin-tight frock to the 2008 Canadian premiere of her movie The Brothers Bloom.

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But she wore it again for her interview on Friday night with Mr Leno - and he appeared to heartily approve, greeting her with: 'You look terrific! What a great dress!'

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The ?1,500 bandage dress and contrasting strappy sandals is clearly a favourite outfit, so Ms Weisz brought it out of mothballs once more - even though some fashionistas wouldn't be seen dead on the red carpet in the same ensemble twice.

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But the British beauty, who shot to global fame in The Mummy and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2005's The Constant Gardener, has a proven interest in saving the planet and presented at the American leg of Live Earth back in 2007.

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Ms Weisz, who starred in both The Lovely Bones and Agora last year, knows what she's doing when it comes to fashion too, being the muse of designer Narciso Rodriguez, so she is clearly sending out a message to her fans that wearing the same outfit more than once is the eco-friendly thing to do, no matter how famous you are.

Mind you, we reckon more stars would give outfits repeat runs on the red carpet if they looked as good as Rachel does.

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The super-toned but still curvy thesp looks incredible in a garment that would be too unforgiving for anyone with an ounce of excess body fat.

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Rachel, who also won the coveted Best Actress Olivier Award for her work in the theatre revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, returns to our screens later this year in The Whistleblower.

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A true story, Ms Weisz stars as Kathryn Bolkovac, an American UN peacekeeper who risks her job and her life to uncover a scandal involving American contractors and the United Nations in postwar Bosnia.

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It also stars Monica Bellucci and Vanessa Redgrave.

London-born star Ms Weisz, who has previously dated Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey, has been with award-winning American film director Darren Aronovfsky, 41, for the past nine years.

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Now engaged, they have a four-year old son Henry Chance and live in Manhattan.

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Mr Aronovsky recently relaunched the career of Mickey Rourke by directing him in the Golden Globe-winning The Wrestler.

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Rachel was voted most marriageable woman in a poll carried out by Esquire magazine earlier this year.

Griffey receives Historic Achievement Award

"Ken Griffey Jr., whose superior performance and effervescent demeanor thrilled legions of fans throughout his 22-year career, received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, which recognizes achievements and contributions of historical significance.for www.kengriffeyshoes2013.com

Griffey was recognized at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during a news conference Sunday preceding Game 4 of the World Series.at www.hervelegers2012.com

He became only the 12th recipient of the award, which was created in 2011, and the first since 2012, when Rachel Robinson was honored for sustaining the legacy of her late husband, Jackie Robinson, and for her service to Major League Baseball."from www.kinggriffeyshoes2013.com

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Raymond BaFenEr: ?mini uggs?"how wear, really warriors dare to face gloomy life, dare to face bathed blood. A three platoon leader - hey!"
The classmates laugh, laugh has obvious friendly and admire.
Raymond feel this kind of admiration, more RenLaiFeng ground: "is not a few hours JunZi? That year I climb mount tai, taian hotel to YuHuangDing, breath to take down, down the hill after the way and temple temple to stroll, a total of seven hours will spend more than a little!"
GaoXiaoFeng excitedly: ?,?ugg roxy tall?,"enough cow!"
LuoYang turned to see JianNing take stationery to go and ask: "JianNing, what are you doing?"
JianNing smiled: "reading." Impact Raymond: "you go to eat!" Say to turn round and then walk.
LuoYang impact JianNing shouted a sentence: "not?" JianNing didn't answer, and walked away, LuoYang a little embarrassed.
Raymond: "several elder brother, who want to play basketball?"

The dormitory door,
The boys ugg boots saleback to the dormitory, Raymond is still in the meticulously JunZi pull.
LuoYang beat step walk to Raymond side: "okay, don't stand, you go and eat!"
Raymond: "side."
JianNing walk past: "really, platoon leader that you go to eat."
Raymond slack off.
LuoYang: louboutin shoes uk"Raymond, not I say you, yourself for trouble, when platoon leader surface said tired."
GaoXiaoFeng: "also said other people hypocrisy."
Raymond BaFenEr: ?mini uggs?"how wear, really warriors dare to face gloomy life, dare to face bathed blood. A three platoon leader - hey!"
The classmates laugh, laugh has obvious friendly and admire.
Raymond feel this kind of admiration, more RenLaiFeng ground: "is not a few hours JunZi? That year I climb mount tai, taian hotel to YuHuangDing, breath to take down, down the hill after the way and temple temple to stroll, a total of seven hours will spend more than a little!"
GaoXiaoFeng excitedly: ?,?ugg roxy tall?,"enough cow!"
LuoYang turned to see JianNing take stationery to go and ask: "JianNing, what are you doing?"
JianNing smiled: "reading." Impact Raymond: "you go to eat!" Say to turn round and then walk.
LuoYang impact JianNing shouted a sentence: "not?" JianNing didn't answer, and walked away, LuoYang a little embarrassed.
Raymond: "several elder brother, who want to play basketball?"

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