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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 01:48 AM EDT

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Murder charge against leader is ‘800-pound gorilla’ facing U.S.-Panama trade deal

Panama News
Pedro Miguel Gonzalez - The 800 Pound Gorilla
Pedro Miguel Gonzalez - The 800 Pound Gorilla
By Ian Swanson for The Hill.com September 26, 2007 - Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee said Tuesday that Panama’s election of a man wanted for murdering a U.S. soldier as head of its legislative assembly could jeopardize a trade deal with that country. “We were troubled that they would elect somebody for whom there’s a warrant for his arrest in the United States,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), who chairs the panel’s trade subcommittee. Levin spoke after Ways and Means gave its unanimous approval to a trade agreement with Peru in an informal markup. Levin said he and other Democrats, including Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), have raised the issue with the State Department, which previously had indicated the election of Pedro Miguel Gonzalez should not stand in the way of Congress approving a trade deal between the U.S. and Panama. (more)
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Syrians Who Can't Find the First Class Bathroom Make People Nervious

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's the story on the six Syrians and one Cuban who were arrested on Copa Flight #231 from Havana, Cuba this morning. There were six Syrians traveling together in a group. They were seated in the first-class section of the aircraft. The people who are in first class are given "real" silverware to eat their dinners. At some point the flight crew noticed that one knife was missing. In addition, passengers noticed that the Syrians were acting suspiciously. When one of them went to use the bathroom in the first class section he tried to open the door to the cockpit "by accident." The door was locked, and he proceeded to enter the bathroom. (more)

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Syrians Detained on Panama-Bound Plane

Crime & PunishmentBy JUAN ZAMORANO – PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) — Six Syrians were detained in Panama on Tuesday after the crew on their flight from Cuba alerted authorities to suspicious behavior. An aviation official denied police reports that the Syrians tried to open the cockpit door. "This is not a hijacking," said Victor de la Hoz, spokesman for the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority. Panama's National Police director, Rolando Mirones, said earlier that the passengers approached the cockpit "apparently with the intention of opening a door." But de la Hoz said the Copa Airlines crew simply notified authorities on the ground that a knife was missing after they served the meal in the first-class cabin, where the Syrians were sitting. He did not say whether the Syrians were suspected of taking the knife.
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Unknown man violates security at US embassy in Panama City

Crime & PunishmentDigital Journal - An unidentified man on Tuesday was arrested for violating the security of US diplomatic facilities in Panama City. The man broke into the residence of US Ambassador William Eaton. The suspect claimed he had spent all his money at a casino and in drugs and was looking for a comfortable place to rest. Panamanian security forces were investigating the man to rule out other motives.
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Official Press Release from Copa Airlines

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's the official statement from Copa Airlines:

  • This morning the cabin crew of Copa Airlines flight # 231 from Havana alerted the Air Transit Control Center at Tocumen International Airport concerning suspicious behavior of some passengers on board the flight. This notification was made as a precautionary measure and in accordance with aviation security protocol. The flight landed in Panama without incident and the persons in question are being interrogated by the appropriate authorities."

Copyright 2007 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Suspicious Syrians arrested on Panama plane

Crime & Punishment
First Class Section, Copa Flight 231 from Havana
First Class Section, Copa Flight 231 from Havana
Reuters - PANAMA - Panamanian police arrested seven people, mostly Syrians, reported to have been acting suspiciously on a Copa Airlines plane from Cuba, but civil aviation authorities said the incident was not a hijacking. Passengers on Copa flight 231 from Havana to Panama City feared the suspects were going to storm the cockpit armed with cutlery and told the crew, who alerted the Panamanian airport shortly before landing. "This happened after flight personnel checked the metal utensils in the first class section and noticed that some were missing," the civil aviation authority said. "We want to deny that this was an attempted hijack." (more)
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Richard Schueler - One More Time, With Gusto

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - OK. Since I can't respond on the Panama Forum Yahoo group because I am banned from participating there, I have no choice but to reply here. If you don't care about these (dumb-ass) games, please skip to the next article. My responses to the babble can be found below, for those with nothing to do this afternoon...

Copyright 2007 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Reminder - Expats West in Coronado Tomorrow Evening

Groups & OrganizationsExPatsWest meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month. We have grown from less than 40 at our first social, to more than 150. We will be gathering on the 26th of September 2007, starting at 5:00pm or whenever you get there. Our get-together will be in Coronadoat El Rincon del Chef, as usual. Because our group is so large, Chef Fernando Paredes prepares a buffet for us. The cost is a special price of $10.00 plus tax per person for the buffet with no pensiondo visa discounts. It is a great buy featuring lots of choices plus desserts! Each month, the Chef trys something new for us. What follows is an update of an article I wrote for the Panama Guide. Remember, it is always the 4th Wednesday of the month! See you there.
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Follow-Up on the Richard Schuler Case

Expat Tales

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Richard Schuler is a young guy who made a whole lot of money in the "spam" business. I first heard about what happened to him back in April of 2007 when I was contacted by my good friend Brett Mikkelson, a private investigator and the owner of BM Investigations in Panama. Richard had hired Brett to help him in his efforts to recover some of the money that was stolen from him in Panama. At Richard's request, Brett contacted me and filled me in on some of the basics. It certainly is a sensational tale... (more)

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Panama Canal Completes Infrastructure Enhancement

Canal Daily Operation
Electric Locomotive
Electric Locomotive "Mule" of the Panama Canal
PANAMA CITY, Panama, September 24, 2007 – Locomotives play a pivotal role in the operation of the Panama Canal locks. Last week, at a ceremony at Gatun Locks, the Canal marked the completion of its project to replace all of the towing tracks on which the locomotives travel. The Panama Canal's locomotive tow tracks run parallel to each side of the Canal's lock chambers. The tow tracks enable locomotive units or "mules" as they are called, to move alongside transiting vessels, affixed by wire cables, to maintain a ship's position during passage through Canal locks. Replacing the tracks, therefore, will increase the efficiency of transits at the Canal. (more)
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Latest Link Swapper - Palmex Panama

What is PG?

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Welcome aboard to our latest link-swapper, Palmex Panama. These guys sell an interesting product - synthetic materials to build thatched-roofs. From their website - "We are the distributor and reseller of Palmex International’s innovative synthetic thatch-roofing products in the republic of Panama. This modern, robust and practical material was designed with a specific goal in mind: to revolutionize roofing by creating a permanent substitute for the majority of natural leaves used throughout the world. Endangered and fragile leaf species, such as the Pala Palas, Pandanus and Palma Cana have too short a life-span to be considered a profitable long-term investment." Why not? Obviously smart guys - smart enough to recognize the value of swapping links with us. Salud.

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Panama, Guatemala Resume Free Trade Talks

Money Matters
The Streets of Guatemala
The Streets of Guatemala
Panama, Sept 24 (Prensa Latina) Panama and Guatemala resumed free trade talks on Monday to balance and increase mutual commerce, government sources said. Total bilateral trade during the first semester of 2007 exceeded 100 million dollars, with a negative balance of trade for Panama, according to official statistics. Exports to Guatemala during the 2005-2006 period increased 35 percent, thus reducing the trade deficit with that Central American country by 14.2 percent. According to Panama's Trade and Industries Ministry, Guatemala is a major trading partner in the country's strategy to strengthen relations with the Central American bloc. These negotiations will bring Panama closer to a 13-million-consumer potential market, according to a communiqué from the ministry quoted by La Prensa. The new round of talks will be held in the tourist city of Antigua, Guatemala, the sources added.
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Panama seeks assistance from MLB

Sports Section
Mariano Rivera and Martin Torrijos in Yankee Stadium
Mariano Rivera and Martin Torrijos in Yankee Stadium
By Jesse Sanchez for MLB.com - NEW YORK -- The state of baseball in Panama has officially become a presidential matter. Seeking what has been coined as "technical assistance," Panama president Martin Torrijos and his delegation discussed the future of the sport in his country, including the possible creation of a baseball academy, exhibition games during Spring Training and inclusion in the next World Baseball Classic, with Major League Baseball officials on Monday. Torrijos, in town for the United Nations General Assembly, made a special trip to MLB's central office to discuss the potential partnership. The Panamanian president has been busy. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch to countryman and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium. He spent a few minutes speaking via cell phone with Houston left fielder Carlos Lee, one of the 86 Panamanian players in the Major and Minor Leagues, following his talk with MLB officials. (more)
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Panama Esmeralda Gains Highest Rating Ever Awarded at CoffeeCuppers.Com

Food & Drink
Panamanian Coffee - Back in the news
Panamanian Coffee - Back in the news
(PRLog.Org) – Sep 25, 2007 – Ramsey, Minnesota — A major success story has emerged at the headquarters of Paradise Roasters, a boutique gourmet coffee roaster just outside of Minneapolis, MN. Having already obtained the two highest scores ever awarded by another respected coffee review site, Paradise Roasters has now scaled the heights of CoffeeCuppers.com. CoffeeCuppers.Com, the brainchild of Bob Yellin and Jim Schulman, is the industry’s other highly regarded and respected independent coffee review site. The achievement by Paradise Roasters constitutes a “clean sweep” and a unique record of coffee roasting excellence untouched by other roasters of any size. (more)
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On A Day Like Today in 1513

History & Reference
Vasco Núñez De Balboa
Vasco Núñez De Balboa

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - In 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez De Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and became the first known European to see the Pacific Ocean. From Wikiepdia - "The few men that continued the journey with Balboa entered the mountain range along the Chucunaque River the next day. According to information from the natives, the South Sea could be seen from the summit of this range. Balboa went ahead and, before noon that day, September 25, he reached the summit and saw, far away in the horizon, the waters of the undiscovered sea. The emotions were such that the others eagerly joined in to show their joy at Balboa's discovery. Andrés de Vera, the expedition's chaplain, intoned the Te Deum, while the men erected stone pyramids, and engraved crosses on the barks of trees with their swords, to mark the place where the discovery of the South Sea was made."

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Complaint Filed Against Winston Spadafora

Law & Lawyers
Winston Spadafora - In Hot Water Again
Winston Spadafora - In Hot Water Again
By Santiago Fascetto for La Prensa - All told there are seven, perhaps the most controversial and divine number of history. That is the number of lawsuits filed by the Panamanian government against businessman Jean Figali over the construction of his controversial marina next to the Amador causeway. And all seven complaints turned into monologues in favor of Figali upon arriving at the Supreme Court. The Secretary of the Panama Maritime Administration (AMP) Carlos González De La Lastra, thinks he has identified the problem. Yesterday he presented to the National Assembly, and acting on his own behalf, a complaint against Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora and his second Jacinto Cárdenas. (more)
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Off To See the Triple-D - Daniel Delgado Diamante

Crime & Punishment
The Rod Spiller House of Cards is Coming Down
The Rod Spiller House of Cards is Coming Down

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Like a house of cards, the Rod Spiller organization is apparently coming down. Since this morning I've had a series of very interesting conversations from people who are (basically) victims of the Rod Spiller and Udachu scheme. There are somewhere between 3,000 to 5,000 victims total, most of them from the United States, and millions of dollars in play. Many of the victims I've spoken to this morning are trying to play the same game. They want their money back and are hoping to scare Rod Spiller into paying them or else they will go to the authorities. But others are not as patient. Apparently legal complaints are about to be filed in both the United States and Panama, and I expect this whole thing will spin-up very quickly. I am now leaving my office to go speak with the Panama's Minister of Government and Justice, Daniel Delgado Diamante. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2007 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Ernesto Perez Balladares - Fighting to Stay Relevant

Politics
Ernesto
Ernesto "El Toro" Perez Balladares
By Jilma Aguilar for El Siglo - The mixture that currently exists within the leadership of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) has not come through with the results hoped for by many people within the organization, according to ex-President Ernesto Perez Balladares in an interview given to the program Enfoque and transmitted on Channel 21. Perez Balladares, while reiterating his intention to compete as a Presidential candidate in the party primaries for the 2009 election as well as a position within the leadership of the party, said that the internal organs of the PRD are not functioning and that if people want things to continue as they are then people should reelect the people who have contributed to the situation, including Housing Minister Balbina Herrera.
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Politicians Looking for Crowds Already

Politics
Alberto Vallarino climbed down from a balcony to give an interview to a journalist.
Alberto Vallarino climbed down from a balcony to give an interview to a journalist.
By Julio Villalobos for La Estrella de Panama - On Sunday this years National Festival of the Mejorana in Guararé turned into a political event. Among the political figures that participated in the folkloric festivities were the Mayor of Panama City Juan Carlos Navarro; Panameñistas Alberto Vallarino and Carlos Raúl Piad; ex-president Guillermo Endara Galimany; the President of the Union Patriótica political party Guillermo “Billy” Ford; the President of the Cambio Democrático political party Ricardo Martinelli; and National Assembly deputies Elías Castillo and Carlos “Tito” Afú.
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Balbina Herrera - Popular and Breaking Records

Politics
Balbina Herrera, Panama's Housing Minister
Balbina Herrera, Panama's Housing Minister
Panama America - Balbina Herrera is perhaps the most popular political figure of recent times, according to a poll conducted by CID-Gallup on behalf of the Panama America newspaper. The Panama America will be including the full results of their poll in a supplement called the "Monitor" today. Balbina Herrera, Panama's Housing Minister, has an 83% acceptance rate among the 1,206 people who were polled from around the country. The next most popular politician is Panama City Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro with 70%. The two most unpopular political figures are the ex-minister of Labor Reynaldo Rivera and the ex-minister of Health Camilo Alleyne. Among the rest of the pack are Ernesto Perez Balladares with 23%, Samuel Lewis Navarro with 27%, Marco Ameglio with 28%, and Alberto Vallarino with 33%. The poll was taken between 1 - 6 September 2007.
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Don't Forget - Charity Expat Social Tonight at Rino's

Groups & OrganizationsJust a reminder for the Charity Ex-Pat Socials to benefit the San Jose de Malambo Orphanage, will be held at Rino's Restaurant tonight Monday 24th September 2007 from 6.30pm. The restaurant is located on Via Federico Boyd at the junction with Calle 50. Everyone is welcome, there is never an admission charge. For your minimum donation of $10 you will enjoy a great buffet style dinner. There will be a cash bar. Smoking is permitted on one of the restaurants balconies. All donations and gifts for the children will be presented to the Nuns tonight at the buffet. Thank you to Rino who has made the evening possible by his added generosity. Come along and meet new friends, enjoy the delicious food, and help the orphanage. We look forward to seeing you and thank you for your continued support and generosity. Best wishes to all - Linda Oleary.
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Have You Been Ripped Off By Rod Spiller and Udachu?

Crime & Punishment
Rod Spiller's Diamonds -
Rod Spiller's Diamonds - "Udachu" Falling Apart

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - It has come to my attention that apparently the "investment" organization headed by Rod Spiller and based in Panama is starting to come apart. Rod Spiller was the guy who was caught trying to smuggle 45 diamonds into Panama in a DHL pouch last year. Someone tipped off customs, who found the diamonds and confiscated them. Since then Panamanian authorities have laid a huge fine on Spiller and have seized the diamonds definitely (meaning, they will never be returned to Spiller.) (more)

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Graciela Dixon - Lobbying for a New Job

Law & Lawyers
Graciela Dixon, looking for a job
Graciela Dixon, looking for a job
By Rafael Pérez G. for La Prensa - The President of Panama's Supreme Court of Justice Graciela Dixon set out this weekend on a 15-day tour of the Netherlands in the northwest of Europe in search of support for her aspirations to hold a position on the International Criminal Court. Dixon, whose candidacy has been questioned by local human rights organizations, given her track record of throwing out cases of forced disappearances, asked for paid time off effective last Saturday 22 September 2007 and will last until next Friday 5 October 2007, according to sources in the Palace of Justice. On her trip to the Netherlands Dixon is accompanied by her assistant Digna Atencio Binolla and an escort. The vacationing judge expects to return to work on Monday 8 October. The International Criminal Court has its seat in Holland. Its mission is to judge those who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as mass murders and forced disappearances, tortures and kidnappings. Before her departure Dixon scored a partial triumph by obtaining that the organization Citizen's Pro Justice Alliance decided not to issue an official statement rejecting her candidacy.
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The Rest of the Richard James Schuler Story

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - You might have heard about a gringo in Panama named Richard James Schuler, who was supposedly ripped off for large sums of money by bad Panamanian people. I looked into this situation and spoke to Richard Schuler on the phone at length. He told me that part of his plan was to establish a kind of offshore money laundering operation, with the specific goal of creating a way for multinational companies to pay huge bribes to Panamanian government officials in exchange for favorable consideration on Panama Canal expansion contracts. (more)

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Colombian Executed in Punta del Este

Crime & PunishmentBy Luis Batista for La Critica - A single gunshot wound that cut through his jugular vein and passed through his right lung ended the life of Carlos Humberto Córdova, 41 years-old. Córdova, of Colombian nationality, was executed as he was walking with his wife towards the front door of his home located on 4th Street in Punta del Este in the area of the 24 de Diciembre. An unknown subject, who was hiding near one of the corners of the house, shot Córdova at 8:30 pm on Friday evening and escaped in a gray Nissan that was being driven by an accomplice. Córdova's wife and another family member took him to the JJ Vallarino clinic but he died en route. Authorities are investigating the shooting.
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Fourteen Children Have Died Recently in Remote Areas

Healthcare
Fourteen children have died recently in remote areas.
Fourteen children have died recently in remote areas.
By Mitzila De León for El Siglo - COMARCA NGÄBE BUGLE - Cases of infant deaths are increasing in the area of Agua de Salud in the district of Ñurum which is part of the Ngäbe Bugle comarca. The number of deaths rose to fourteen this week. One died of severe vomiting and diarrhea, and another died of respiratory problems. Both of these cases occurred in the communities near Alto Batata and Mojarraz in the area of Agua de Salud. The infant was buried last Thursday. According to Pablo Ruiz, the Representative of the area, his grandson died just two months after being born due to respiratory problems. He added that the weather and constant rain influences disease in the area. (more)
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SMN Busts 241 Kilos of Cocaine Worth $6 Million (Street)

Crime & Punishment
241 Kilos of Cocaine worth $300,000 Busted Near Isla Grande
241 Kilos of Cocaine worth $300,000 Busted Near Isla Grande
By Ana Bolena Ayarza for La Estrella de Panama - Panama's National Maritime Service (SMN) seized 241 kilos of cocaine, valued at $300,000 dollars, near Naranjo Island in the area of the Costa Arriba in Colon. The drugs were wrapped in ten bundles and were being transported aboard a "go-fast" boat which ran aground in the area. Jorge Yanis, the Chief of the Cristobal Colon SMN Base said they detected the boat at 5:40 am and gave chase, which ended when the boat ran aground between Isla Grande and Portobelo. The people in the boat jumped overboard and escaped capture. (Photo Credit: Ana Bolena Ayarza)
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Martin Torrijos Throws Out the First Pitch to Mariano Rivera

Sports Section
Martin Torrijos and Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium
Martin Torrijos and Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium
By Santiago Cumbrera for the Panama America - The Presidency rented a satellite yesterday to make sure Panamanians could see their Chief Executive Martín Torrijos throw out the first ceremonial pitch yesterday in a game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays, which finished in a with the Yankees winning 12 - 11 in extra innings. The President's debut was dissapointing. His pitch was wild. The Presidency did not report the cost of the satellite, but said they rented it from the company Antennas and Systems. The employees who manage the signal traveled with Torrijos to Yankee Stadium. The act was organized by Major League Baseball as part of Hispanic Heritage month celebrations in the United States. Torrijos will also participate in the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations.
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La Prensa Governmental Corruption Survey

Corruption
Panama Corruption Survey (click for full view)
Panama Corruption Survey (click for full view)
By Leonardo Flores for La Prensa - All three branches of the Panamanian government are perceived as being highly corrupt, according to a survey conducted by Dichter & Neira Latin Research Network for La Prensa. The poll was taken between 14 - 16 September 2007, fifteen days after the administration of Martin Torrijos celebrated their third year in office. The survey, which will be published tomorrow in the Pulse of the Nation supplement, shows that most of the 1,238 people interviewed rank governmental corruption as either a four or five. A 1 to 5 scale was used, in which zero means no corruption at all and a 5 means there is much corruption. The National Assembly ranked worst at 71% 4's and 5's, followed by the Supreme Court (65.4%) and the Executive branch (58.6%). In the past three years attention has been focused on the National Assembly over the privileges of the deputies; the Supreme Court for controversial decisions, and the Executive branch for failing to follow through on campaign promises, particularly in the area of public security.
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Clemens pushed to Monday by tight left hamstring

Sports Section BY ANTHONY RIEBER for newsday.com - Yankees fans who didn't get the late editions of their newspapers yesterday may have been surprised when they saw Phil Hughes on the mound against the Blue Jays instead of Roger Clemens. Clemens was scratched because of a tight left hamstring. Manager Joe Torre announced it at about 12:30 a.m. yesterday after Friday night's 14-inning loss. Clemens said he felt "a little stinger in the back of my left leg" when he was working out Thursday in preparation for a start that had been moved up a day because of the strained back muscle of rookie Ian Kennedy. Now Clemens is penciled in to start tomorrow. But if he feels anything at all, he'll be scratched again and the Yankees will go with Andy Pettitte. No reason to risk a longer absence with the team on the cusp of the postseason. (more)
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