May 20, 2005 | 5:35 a.m. ET

Rave: Perfect Game (Ron Reagan)

Everybody knows that baseball - and I mean the real game, you know, fast pitch, hardball - that baseball is for boys. Only the male of our species has the strength, the competitiveness, the bat speed and the arm to truly excel at our national pastime. Right. Try telling that to 11-year-old Katie Brownell.

Katie is the only girl on her little league team. In fact, she's the only girl in the entire upstate New York little league. Now, you may be thinking, oh sure, one of these title 9, affirmative action, politically correct, throw 'em a bone deals. Uh uh. Katie's good. Real good. She's been an all-star for two years. Between the towns of Rochester and buffalo, she's just about the best there is in her age group.

This past Saturday, Katie proved it. She pitched her Oakfield Dodgers team to an 11-0 shutout. Not just any shutout, no, she threw a perfect game. And over six innings, not only did none of the 18 opposing batters reach base, Katie struck all of them out.

"I can't remember this ever happening", said team manager Jeff sage. In fact, it seems this may be the only perfect game ever pitched in Katie’s league, which means Katie’s in a league of her own.

Fluke? Nope. In her last two games, Katie has struck out 32 of the 33 batters she's faced.

Fine, you say, so this little girl has an arm. But the game is all about hitting. Wait till she has to face some real man-style pitching herself. Then we'll see what kind of player she really is. Yes, we will. 'Cause Katie is batting .714 - you heard me, .714. Paging George Steinbrenner

E-mail RReagan@msnbc.com

May 20, 2005 | 11:41 p.m. ET

Steve Malzberg fils in for Monica Crowley on 'Connected' today. Malzberg is a conservative radio talk show host on WWRL in New York.

"Tyrant in his pants" photos

Photos of Saddam Hussein in his underwear were published today in the British tabloid The Sun. The photos were of the one-time dictator sleeping, walking, and even undressing while in coalition custody.

These pics have sparked a firestorm of controversy around the world today. Even the U.S. military admits this could be a violation of Geneva convention standards. And this morning, Hussein’s lawyer told the “Today” show: “Of course all of us are outraged and the situation is regrettable— I am more outraged that he is in jail for 19 months and still doesn’t have a charge...in his underwear.”

What do you think?

Does anyone honestly believe someone could take pictures, of the most heavily-guarded prisoner in Iraq, Saddam, and release them to the press, without the military's permission? If you believe that then I got a bridge I'll sell you. And if you believe it, you should immediately have someone drive you to the nearest hospital to see if there is any living tissue in your brain.
--Patrick McKenzie, Kansas City, Miss.

The "Sun" pictures of Saddam are a violation of common decency if not his rights. President Bush talks of his opposition to abuse and unethical behavior. Yet every day seems to bring yet another issue involving the mistreatment of prisoners with no accountability by those at the policy level. Perhaps it is time for America to reflect on the realities of this Administrations conduct and less on the rhetoric they portray.
--Anthony Mastrangelo, Prescott, Ariz.

Re Saddam's video-- have we lost all sense of privacy? It's tacky and unethical. over the heads of parents.
--Cindy Smith, Sacramento, Calif.

I think your network should be ashamed of displaying the photo of Saddam in his underwear.  What has this country become?  This type of behavior only goes to reinforce the current world view of the United States as a bunch of no-class, cretinous cowboys.  There is no love lost for Sadam, but the publication of this photo says much more about us than it does him.  No wonder no one respects our county anymore.
--Becky, New Haven, Conn.

I support the president 100 percent when it comes to our efforts in Iraq. But I'm sure he'll agree this photo is unacceptable. Even though Saddam was a monster, more wrongs don't improve the situation.
--Kelly, Newark, Del.

Isn't the Sun owned by Rupert Murdoch? Even if the Sun has these pictures why should the U.S. publish these? If they had published pictures of George Bush in his briefs and Laura Bush in her bra and panties, would the U.S. press show it? There is such a thing as restraint. Please excercise these options and not put them on display.
--Marci

Share your thoughts on Connected@MSNBC.com

May 19, 2005 | 5:59 p.m. ET

The First Lady's travel plans

Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to Europe in the fall of 1943 looking to boost morale for troops fighting in World War II. Jacqueline Kennedy accompanied JFK to Europe in 1961 and ended up stealing the show.

The current First Lady is no stranger to difficult missions. Mrs. Bush charmed French President Jacques Chirac and warmed a chilly french –U.S. relationship during a September 2003 visit to Paris. She also received high marks for a march trip to Afghanistan to talk about women's rights.

But the background leading up to this trip is remarkably different. The First Lady will be visiting three countries— Jordan, Israel and Egypt at a time when anti-American sentiment has been heightened by a Newsweek story retracted earlier this week. The report of the desecration of the Quran at Guantanamo prison is blamed for sparking deadly riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House is keeping expectations for the trip low. They say its a trip with limited goals, mainly to focus on women's issues.

There's no denying the First Lady's popularity and charm.  But she's traveling to a region where women's rights have often been problematic at best. The question remains whether anyone—particularly a woman— has enough star power to put a different, less aggressive face on America.

Your e-mails

Sending Laura Bush to the MidEast would make all the sense in the world if "wounds were recently healed" in terms of our adverse relationship with the Muslim world; however, with tensions escalating on a daily basis, sending the president's wife sends the message that we are interested, not in trying to heal wounds but rather in trying to soothe the hurt prior to amputation.
--Anonymous

I don't think sending Laura Bush will be very effective— since she's the wife of one of the most hated American people.  President Bush is the "face" of America, and so, by association,  is Mrs. Bush. She might be more effective in a few months, after the effect of the Newsweek story dies down, but she is not a good representative at the moment.
--Katie, New Haven, Conn.  

Sending the First Lady will not improve our image there. Getting us out of the Middle East will do wonders.
--Joe, Norwalk,  Conn.

May 19, 2005 | 12:54 p.m. ET

Harboring a terrorist?

Some say Luis Posada Carriles is a terrorist . Others call him a freedom fighter. Decades ago, he was a CIA operative and an army soldier. He fought against Castro and for the United states during the bay of pigs. 

But he's also a suspect in the 1976 bombing of a Venezuelan commercial airliner that killed 73-people. Posada was awaiting retrial in Venezuela when he escaped from prison. On Tuesday, he popped-up in Florida, asking for asylum.

The United States now has a decision to make and it's expected today: Send him to Cuba, back to Venezuela, or let him stay. Cuban-Americans want him back in Miami. But allowing him to stay would raise all sorts of new questions about the U.S.-led war on terror—and doubts about the president's resolve against it.

Your e-mails

This will become another Bush backstep dance. It is just the same old story all over again. Bush opens his mouth and double talk comes out.
--Mike Flick Sr., Heber Springs, Ark.

It appears somewhat that the American Government has always maintained a "two-faced" attitude when it comes to our dealings with third world countries. As an example, who remembers that the Government policies of the day placed Manuel Noriega into power until it fit our best interests to invade Panama and oust him and place him into prison.
--Richard Palmer, Lewistown, Pa.

Is it any surprise that a terroist can stay here in luxury? There is a strong hypocrisy here concerning terrorism. Israel is country totally founded on terrorism. They have had three Prime Ministers including the current one, Sharon, who were terrorists that killed many innocent women and children.To say our government is against all terrorists is simply a lie.
--Rick, Charleston, W.V.

In regards to the Criminal Posada. If the Bush Administration makes an exception to this terrorist, then the Bush administration proves the reason we have launched 2 wars as a source not to stop terrorism but for the control of the world's natural resources. We are viewed as liars and that terrorists like Osama Bin laden are not that important. My opinion about our policy is that there is no real policy. We have helped terrorists in the past, we have been involved in terrorism in the past, and we are just using the so called march for freedom as a smoke screen for our real agenda, The U.S New World Order. We need to remember, the Romans , Trojans, Alexander the Great, Egyptians, etc,etc. All those systems of governing did not last and the U.S policy will have the same fate because the American People will not stand for the lies anymore. American will only sleep for so long.
--Jennifer, Miami Beach, Fla.

It seems that you have failed to mention that Mr. Posada-Carriles has been acquited not once, but twice of the airline bombing.  The Venezuelan government continued to pursue the case against Mr. Posada Carriles because of the pressure that the communist Cuban government placed on Venezuela. Furthermore, with regards to the Panama case, he was acquited of the conspiracy charge and convicted of the possession of explosives, of which the Panamanian president pardoned him. 
--Erick Cruz. Miami, FL.

May 18, 2005 | 5:27 p.m. ET

Stem cell support (Ron Reagan)

A group of Democrats and Republicans seem to be coming together—on another very controversial issue: stem cell research. It's a joining of interests that could leave President Bush with a difficult political decision.

In one of the earliest decisions of his young presidency, in August of 2001, George W. Bush announced an executive order on the controversial issue of stem cell research.

It allowed federal funding of embryonic stem cell research— but only on cell lines that were already in existence as of that date.

The president later told reporters that he wasn't going to change his mind. But there are signs now that the once solid ground on which mister bush imagined he stood is shifting.
Within the next few days—the house is expected to take up a measure that would relax the limits set by the president. The bi-partisan bill would expand the number of stem-cell lines available for federally funded research.

That bill is expected to pass in the house and then go to the senate --- where it will receive some critical support by a senator closely associated with the pro-life movement—Utah Senator Orin Hatch. Hatch says there is too much at stake to fight the stem-cell research battle along party lines.

Any vote in favor of stem cells is certain to cause a backlash among “right-to-life” groups.
And it will leave Mr. Bush with a tough decision: Reconsider his position or issue the first veto of his presidency.

Your e-mails

If Congress should block funding by the federal government based on the objection of large numbers of the American public as the criterion as the Republican congressman stated… Then we should withhold funding for President Bushes wars!
--George

I can live with no tax dollars used for stem cell research, as long as no tax dollars are used for either executions or war. All take lives and should not use my tax dollars.
--Kitty Conley, Crown Point, Ind.

I'm interested that the representative against federal funding feels that way because some people don't think stem cell research is ethical. How does he feel about taxpayers withholding permission to use our money for other things the taxpayer disagrees with like energy policy and the Iraq war?
--Barry Davis, Agoura Hills, Calif.

I've been a diabetic for 41 yrs since I was 14, I also have scarcadosis of the lung's and am on disability. It seems if the congress can't give us hope, they could at least give us a responsible care system.
--Gabe Quinn, Seattle Wash.

May 17, 2005 | 5:35 p.m. ET

More on the Newsweek fallout: Your e-mails

Newsweek item was just that and now its a smoke screen for the real problem. Arab World does NOT trust America or its government leaders. Wake up America - We need a total make-over of our image in the world. This administration is not capable of doing that. They continue to deceive for their own political gain. Only True American's are losing their lives in combat - WHY?
--Bill Moore, . Pasadena, Fla.

While we all bemoan the state of journalistic standards in America, that the pressure to get the story first in a 24/7 news cycle trumps the need to get it right, and while we also recognize the inherent danger in self-censorship of accurate stories because they might have consequences, let's not forget the bigger picture.  This seems to me yet another self-inflicted propaganda wound, right up there with Abu Ghraib, in the battle to win "hearts and minds" on the world stage - and not just the Muslim world. I don't think we'll ever begin to sway opinion our way as long as we remain so grotesquely insensitive to their culture and beliefs. The generals and reporters are equally guilty in this conceit and once again lives have been lost through their hubris.
--R.C., Palmdale, Calif.

This Newsweek debacle is a diversion--it is Gonzalez, Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld who are responsible for ALL the abuses at Abu Ghraib!!  It not NOT Newsweek's fault that they report them, that is their job! General Myers also said today that the riots in Afghanistan were NOT related to the Newsweek article, but due to political arrangements within the country.
--Linda Cecsarini, Chicago area

Of course unnamed sources can be valuable. How else does the truth really surface, what with the possibility of retribution. Do you young folk remember the unnamed source "Deep Throat"? Thank goodness for him/her. The Watergate hearings were quite a lesson for those of us who were politically naive.
--Lorraine, New York City

Let's get this right.  We are in Afghanistan and Iraq to deliver democracy to countries dominated by fanatic Muslims.  Newsweek's story has caused riots and the deaths of dozens of fanatic Muslims.  So what's the problem?
--Bill Raymond, Nashville, Tenn.

It is almost laughable, the U.S. government telling someone else they should be more responsible about their sources and what they report, didn't the US government go to war using unvetted sources and unconfirmed intelligence?? Have they apologized?? Anybody paid for their mistake? How many people have died total so far?
--Bob D., Mo.

One does not temper their behavior due to the actions of criminals.  I think the “apologists” that seem to give justificiation to violent outrage at any rumor regarding the Quran or treatment of Muslims is sickening.  In my opinion the action of Muslims does more damage to the view and credibility of the Islamic faith than anything America has done. Newsweek simply thought they had a scoop and went to press quicker than they should have.  The fact that they believed they had “buy-off” from government officials gave their report credence. Quite simply, the only ones making this a religious war are ALL Muslims.  The fact that they do not work tirelessly to vet out terrorists and do not immediately decry their actions as criminal is tantamount to support.  The reason for this is fellow Muslims first, everyone else next.  Even the criminals are accepted first above everyone else.
--Tim Manley

Magazines don't kill people. People kill people.
--Greg Kanaskie, West Chester, Pa.

My son is serving in Afghanistan.  If he was captured and they tortured him by flushing a Bible down the toilet I would not run out of my house with a kalishnikov and start shooting people.  But their culture is different.  And because of this irresponsible article my son and all the other armed forces are in more danger.  I'm sorry isn't good enough.
--Linda Dakota, Glocester, R.I.

Only the Republicans have problems with Newsweek. Bias media is just a myth cause by the Conservatives because they do not like what the liberals have to say.
-RD, Paterson

May 16, 2005 | 5:59 p.m. ET

Thank you to 'Everybody Loves Raymond' (Monica Crowley)

MSNBC TV
Tonight on CBS, the end of an era: The hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” will have its series finale , bringing to a close nine years of raucous laughs for all of us. With writing and simple but genius storylines, the show has earned its place alongside “I Love Lucy” and “The Cosby Show” as one of the all-time best, family-centered comedies.  Its genre was the situation comedy, and what made “Everybody Loves Raymond” so special was that the situations that drove the comedy were so real.

Every married couple could relate to the relationship between Ray and Debra Barone: the arguments over small things (like a suitcase left on a stair); the frustration over bigger things (like omnipresent and intrusive in-laws), to the disagreements over how to raise their children (especially when one of them was bullying a classmate or had a beloved hamster die). 

Single folks could relate to Ray's long-suffering single brother, Robert, who went through an endless round of bad dates until he found his true love.  And everybody could relate to Frank and Marie, the parents and grandparents, who were always around, ready with their two cents, even when the two cents weren't asked for.

But despite all of the comedy driven by the family friction, at the heart of “Everybody Loves Raymond” was, well, heart. Sure, they argued. Sure, they drove each other crazy. But at the core of every episode was love. 

Richard Cartright  /  CBS via AP
The cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" applauds at the taping of the final episode of the show. Cast members from left are Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Doris Roberts, Peter Boyle, Brad Garrett with his two children, Sullivan Sweeten, Madylin Sweeten and Monica Horan.
You always knew that this fictional family loved and cared for each other, that they were always there for each other, that goodness was at the center of every character. That seems to be the key ingredient for every successful family-based sitcom. Real life is hard enough. When we watch our sitcoms, we want to see reality reflected, sure. But we also want to see genuine care and love, because that's what we strive for in our own families, or should.

So, thanks for nine wonderful years, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  you belong in the pantheon with other sitcom classics, but we will always have a special place in our hearts for you— because of the heart you showed all of these years.

E-mail: MCrowley@MSNBC.com

May 16, 2005 | 5:11 p.m. ET

The firestorm of anger continued Monday over Newsweek's handling of a story that alleged U.S. interrogators desecrated the Quran as Muslim leaders and the Bush administration both blasted the magazine's partial retraction of the piece.

Your e-mails on the Newsweek article, fallout, and apology

True, what Newsweek has reported is tragic... but at least they admit it was a mistake. What about the true motive and results of the war in Iraq? I find it amusing the White House is so incensed about this.  Iraq is simply another Vietnam, but even more tragic and the troops and the American public are paying the price while the administration rolls on.
--A Kraft, Naples, Fla.

The editor and every reporter responsible for Guantanamo toilet story should
resign or be terminated.
--Tim McPike

Frankly I think Newsweek should be held liable for the deaths that followed the printing of their fallacious article. The families should sue them for negligence and for incitement to commit a felony. It was absolutely predictable that Muslims would react with rioting and violence, although it is also inconceivable that Christians or Jews would have behaved that way.
--Anonymous

Newsweek was being irresponsible when they printed that article. I think they did it to sell magazines.  Lives have been lost.  They may have "apologized" but they appear to be sticking by the story.  I think they apologized to get the heat off them & they hoped that controversy over this would die down.  This sounds too much like the CBS disaster with Dan Rather.
--Robin Smith, Oceanside, Calif.

Who cares about the Newsweek story? The real story here is the same people who burn our flag at every one of their protests over dozens of years are now angry at the possibility that someone flushed a Quran down the toilet? Gimme a break... get over it.
--Rick, N.H.

So let me see if this is correct: Newsweek prints a story that has little supporting evidence (third hand from one source) and this story results in the deaths of many Afghanis and the loss of face for America in the Muslim world.  Newsweek's editor decides to print a retraction that really just amounts to a, "Whoops!  My bad." The limits on our First Amendment rights have been defined through Supreme
Court case law. One restriction that is commonly used is the prohibition on
using inflammatory speech that creates a public danger.  Newsweek shouted
"Fire!" in a crowded theatre and people died as a direct result. I hope the
families of the dead can find a court willing to accept jurisdiction. I also hope they sue until the egos responsible for this mistake have been deflated.
--James Harney, Pulaski, Tenn.

Damn those people at Newsweek, that they should say such things! I certainly believe everything coming out of the White House, their record is spotless.
-–Danny boy San Francisco, Calif.

YES, the Newsweek apology is enough -- for now. To retract the story without
further investigation would be to commit a journalistic "sin" just as bad as printing an unsubstantiated story. Journalists can't deny or ignore the truth, whatever it may be. A better question might be, was the violent response proportional to the story if it were true? Clearly not. Any rational Muslim (i.e., the majority) would agree that one Koran does not equal 15 lives. Clearly these protests were orchestrated by parties
interested in putting the largest number of average citizens in harm's way
in order to vilify the U.S.
--Susan, Conn.

I'm still waiting for an apology from the White House on their wrong assumption of WMDs. Wouldn't that be nice to hear along with Newsweek's apology?
--Connie, Indiana

The entertainment and advertisement industry constantly treat Muslims with disrespect on a daily basis.  Rap videos, Britney Spears videos, Victoria Secret commercials and Levitra ads that are uploaded to satellite transceivers are extremely offensive towards Muslims when they receive those images when they are downloaded to their satellite receivers that are connected to their television sets. This country learned absolutely nothing from the hard learn lesson that we were taught on September 11th.  Americans need to drop the "ugly American" mentality and learn about Islam posthaste and put what they learn to into practice.
--Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, Wash.

Are you serious? They can behead our people at will, but if we say one thing about their stupid religion they go ape!
--P.Tex, Texas

I wonder why Monica wasn't this outraged by the Bush Administration's lack of an apology for the weapons of mass destruction lies. It is obvious that the Newsweek story is true, and the Pentagon (which can't be trusted to investigate anything, much less itself) has put pressure on the source of the story to retract his statement.
--D. Bostic, Downingtown, Pa.

It is ridiculous for anyone to think that a book can be flushed down any toilet. On the other hand, the USA have been accused, judged and convicted based on gossip. How unfair!!!!
--Alfred Heller, New York City, N.Y.

This bespeaks to the issues with the mainstream media period. We are in a war because the media chose to except the rhetoric for a conflict instead of verifying if the information was correct. That set the precedence for what has happened now. You are being very hypocritical for pretending to be outraged now!
--Wilberta Berry, Pittsburgh, Pa.

This mistake should serve as a reminder to the media on how powerful of an influence they have on the safety of our soldiers.  They should be the main concern when reporting such sensitive issues. 
-- Amy, San Diego

The WH wants government control of the media. That is why they are "punishing" Newsweek. Newsweek told the truth. This has already been reported from prisoners AFTER they were released from Gitmo. Newsweek's article did not FIT the WH world view.
--Anonymous

This latest mess that Newsweek has gotten itself into is on the same level as what CBS did during the Presidential elections.  This is a clear indication that our press engages in propaganda.
--Ken Brooks, Fla.

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