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BASEBALL: An introduction to the 2010 playoffs (not by Ken Burns)

The Major League Baseball playoffs start this week. But, I’m not a stats man. I don’t care about talent. I don’t even really care about the intangibles — hustle, doping, all-American good looks. The game of baseball only comes down to one thing: team anthems, which give the ball park the pageantry of a Foghat concert with the potential of instilling shock and awe in the hearts of opposing fans.

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Officials confirm arrest of rebel leader for mass rapes in Congo

Members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda openly man a roadblock in North Kivu, Congo in 2007. Photo: AP/Themba Hadebe

Updated | 8:23 p.m. United Nations officials confirmed Wednesday that they had captured one of the men responsible for a stunning series of mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year, after initially expressing doubts over the rebel leader’s identity.

The U.N. Mission for the Stabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) said Tuesday that peacekeepers had arrested Lieutenant Colonel Sadoke Kikonda Mayele, a senior leader of the Mai-Mai militia group, and transferred him to the custody of the Congolese army. But a U.N. spokesman later told Agence France-Presse that new information suggested the suspect was “not the real” Mayele.

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The most valuable blog?

Well, we all know the Daily Need may be the most valuable in terms of content, but what about when it comes to dollars and cents?

Graphic: Win Rosenfeld

The financial blog calculated the 25 most valuable blogs in terms of cash value on the market. It seems that humor, politics, gossip and sports are really worth something in the blogosphere.  Here are a few examples that show the range of valuations:  Talking Points Memo is ranked #21 with a value of $5 million dollars, while Will Ferrell’s comedy site Funny or Die at #9 is valued at $24 million. The Drudge Report is ranked at #3 and worth $50 million, and way ahead of the pack at # 1, worth  $240 million, is the Gawker network.

But I found #5 really the most interesting. It is a blog devoted entirely to one company. Macrumors is all about Apple. That’s it. While the site is ranked #5 on the list and worth $37 million, the company it blogs about exclusively is worth about $208 billion.

Photo: Red lights of the Belle Époque

On this day in 1889, the Moulin Rouge cabaret opened its doors in Paris' Montmartre district. Patrons were treated to courtesans dancing the can-can, a huge dance floor, stage shows, galleries and a gigantic elephant in the garden, where men could climb inside for private shows. All classes of French society, from aristocrats to riffraff, passed beneath the iconic red windmill to enjoy the cabaret's many attractions. Photo: Moritz Hammer

South Korea in ferment over kimchi shortage

Photo: Flickr/Craig Nagy

In a situation that can only be described as a national emergency, South Koreans have found themselves in the grips of a kimchi shortage — thanks to unseasonably heavy rains that have ruined cabbage crops. The prices for Napa cabbage, the key ingredient in kimchi, have doubled in the past few weeks, with the price per head now averaging at about $10 to $12.

Kimchi, a dish made of fermented cabbage, chili paste and radish, is a staple of the Korean diet and is served with every meal in most households. (In a pinch, it can also double as a meal with a bowl of rice.) Many Koreans also put stock in this beloved condiment’s health benefits, which are said to include anti-aging and anti-obesity properties. (But really, we love it because it’s delicious.)

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In ‘Inside Job,’ a new doc about the financial crisis, no one looks good

Inside Job,” a documentary detailing the causes of the financial collapse of 2008 and its aftermath, is a scathing critique of U.S. policies of deregulation since the 1980s — a critique that extends to Republicans and Democrats alike. At a New York Film Festival screening of the film, director Charles Ferguson said that one of the most difficult decisions he made was to include a section deeply critical of President Obama’s handling of the crisis. Ferguson, an Obama supporter during his presidential campaign, described the lack of comprehensive financial reform under Obama as a “tragedy” for America.

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Tomorrow and tomorrow and … today!

Patrick Stewart is in the grip of destiny as Macbeth on Great Performances — a photo our designer instructed me to position "as you like it." Photo: Manuel Harlan/Illuminations TV - WNET.ORG

Shakespeare geeks across the country no doubt woke up this morning with the same thought in their heads that I did: Macbeth! Patrick Stewart! Tonight! Yay.

For those of us who clumsily managed to miss the live performance of this production in Brooklyn two years ago, its arrival on Great Performances feels like an act of grace, a second chance to see what The New York Times called a “good and nasty interpretation” of Shakespeare’s bleakest meditation on power, fate and evil. And ghosts! And witches! And floating things!

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Photo: A toxic red wave

A Hungarian soldier wearing chemical protection gear walks through a street flooded by contaminated mud in the town of Devecser, Hungary, on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. A rupture of a red sludge reservoir at an alumina plant Monday sent toxic sludge racing through nearby villages, killing four people and injuring 120. Photo: AP/Bela Szandelszky

Congo soldiers on why they rape

The widespread use of rape in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been an underreported topic during the many years that it has been occurring. But lately it has been making more headlines in the U.S, most recently with today’s New York Times story on the U.N.’s failure to prevent a “frenzy of rape” in the Congo.

Need to Know’s own interview with Anneke von Woudenberg further explored the Congo’s culture of impunity that has allowed rape to continue. The news is disturbing, but even more harrowing might be the words of the fighters in the Congo themselves, as they candidly explain why they have chosen to rape women during the conflict.

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