Monthly Archives: January 2011

Time To Drop Rooney?

Rooney’s troubles this season, both on an off the field, have been well documented. His form was very poor in the first couple of months of the season, but when he returned from the fitness program in America, he had looked to have turned the corner somewhat. Although he wasn’t scoring, his touch and energy seemed to improving week on week. There was a general sentiment that his movement and vision was the reason for Berba’s resurgence in form, in that Rooney was creating space for the Bulgarian.

Has Wazza taken a step backwards again though? He may need game time to get sharp again but should he be starting at the moment on current form? The goals are clearly not there at the moment, with one outfield goal for the striker all season. But does his general play warrant a place in the side at the moment? I have to say, I was deeply unimpressed with Rooney’s display at Blackpool last week.

Not only was touch not there, but he had an unusual lack of energy and hunger. The was a stark and immediate improvement when he was replaced by Chicharito. Has Fergie’s attitude to Rooney changed also? It would have previously been unheard of for Rooney to be replaced after 55 minutes when we are losing.

There is no question of Berba being dropped at the moment, given his current form. It is Rooney whose place is under threat, and there is pretty intense pressure coming from Hernandez. The Mexican is in great form at the moment, scoring regularly when he plays and causing opposition defences all sorts of problems. He gives us an extra edge, in that he runs the channels really well and is always looking to get in behind the back four.

I don’t buy this theory that he is better used as a sub either and this concept is a step too far in the Solksjaer comparison. The Little Pea is more than capable of scoring when he starts the game, as he proved against Southampton yesterday. Is it time he was given a chance to start with Berba? I think so. We should be rewarding his good form and it may serve the team better, just at the moment. Rooney is clearly a quality player but just doesn’t look sharp or confident at the moment.

 

Copyright 2011 by Suffian Yans

Protest’s Old Guard Falls In Behind the Young

CAIRO — Last Thursday, a small group of Internet-savvy young political organizers gathered in the Cairo home of an associate of Mohamed ElBaradei, the diplomat and Nobel laureate.

They had come to plot a day of street protests calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, but within days, their informal clique would become the effective leaders of a decades-old opposition movement previously dominated by figures more than twice their age.

Full crowd in Tahrir square in Cairo

 

“Most of us are under 30,” said Amr Ezz, a 27-year-old lawyer who was one of the group as part of the April 6 Youth Movement, which organized an earlier day of protests last week via Facebook. They were surprised and delighted to see that more than 90,000 people signed up online to participate, emboldening others to turn out and bringing tens of thousands of mostly young people into the streets.

Surprised by the turnout, older opposition leaders from across the spectrum — including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; the liberal protest group the Egyptian Movement for Change, known by its slogan, “Enough”; and the umbrella group organized by Dr. ElBaradei — joined in, vowing to turn out their supporters for another day of protest on Friday. But the same handful of young online organizers were still calling the shots.

They decided to follow a blueprint similar to their previous protest, urging demonstrators to converge on the central Liberation Square. So they drew up a list of selected mosques around Cairo where they asked people to gather at Friday Prayer before marching together toward the square. Then they distributed the list through e-mail and text messages, which spread virally. They even told Dr. ElBaradei which mosque he should attend, people involved said.

“What we were hoping for is to have the same turnout as the 25th, so we wouldn’t lose the numbers we had already managed to mobilize,” Mr. Ezz said.

Instead, more than 100,000 people poured into the streets of the capital, pushing back for hours against battalions of riot police, until the police all but abandoned the city. The demonstrations were echoed across the country.

The huge uprising has stirred speculation about whether Egypt’s previously fractious opposition could unite to capitalize on the new momentum, and about just who would lead the nascent political movement.

The major parties and players in the Egyptian opposition met throughout the day Sunday to address those questions. They ultimately selected a committee led by Dr. ElBaradei to negotiate directly with the Egyptian military. And they settled on a strategy that some in the movement are calling “hug a soldier” to try to win the army’s rank and file over to their side. But both newcomers and veterans of the opposition movement say it is the young Internet pioneers who remain at the vanguard behind the scenes.

“The young people are still leading this,” said Ibrahim Issa, a prominent opposition intellectual who attended some of the meetings. And the older figures, most notably Dr. ElBaradei, have so far readily accepted the younger generation’s lead, people involved said. “He has been very responsive,” Mr. Issa said. “He is very keen on being the symbol, and not being a leader.”

After signs that President Mubarak’s government might be toppling, leaders of Egypt’s opposition — old and new — met Sunday to prepare for the next steps. The first meeting was a gathering of the so-called shadow parliament, formed by older critics of the government after blatantly rigged parliamentary elections last fall. Those elections eliminated almost every one of the small minority of seats held by critics of Mr. Mubarak, including 88 occupied by Muslim Brotherhood members.

Among those present were many representatives of the Brotherhood, the former presidential candidate Ayman Nour and representatives of Dr. ElBaradei’s umbrella group, the National Association for Change, which has been working for nearly a year to unite the opposition around demands for free elections. At the end of the meeting, they had settled on a consensus list of 10 people they would delegate to manage a potential unity government if Mr. Mubarak resigned. And though the religiously conservative Brotherhood was the biggest force in the shadow parliament, the group nonetheless put Dr. ElBaradei at the top of its list. Officials of the Brotherhood said he would present an unthreatening face to the West.

A second meeting, at the headquarters of the Wafd Party, brought together four of the tiny but legally recognized opposition parties. Critics of Egypt’s authoritarian government often accuse the recognized parties of collaborating with Mr. Mubarak in sham elections that create a facade of democracy. In this case, people involved in the deliberations said, the parties could not agree on how hard to break with the president. One party, theDemocratic Front, insisted they demand that Mr. Mubarak resign immediately, like protesters were doing in the streets. The other three wanted a less confrontational statement, people briefed on the outcome said.

The third meeting took place late in the afternoon outdoors, in Liberation Square, the center of the protests for the last several days, said Mr. Issa, who participated. It was brought together mainly by the younger members, organized as the April 6 Youth Movement, after the date a textile workers’ strike was crushed three years ago, and We Are All Khalid Said, after the name of a man whose death in a brutal police beating was captured in a photograph circulated over the Internet. But the meeting also brought together about 25 older figures, including opposition intellectuals like Mr. Issa. Also present were representatives of Dr. ElBaradei’s National Association for Change, which includes officials of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr. Issa and people briefed on that meeting said the older figures offered to help the young organizers who had started it all. Those organizers, Mr. Ezz and Mr. Issa said, knew that that the uprising had now acquired a life of its own beyond their direction, spread and coordinated by television coverage instead of the Internet. And they knew that the movement needed more seasoned leaders if Mr. Mubarak resigned, Mr. Ezz said. “Leadership has to come out of the people who are already out there, because most of us are under 30,” he said. “But now they recognize that we’re in the street, and they are taking us seriously.”

The group’s goal now, Mr. Ezz said, was to guide the protesters’ demands, chief among them the resignation of Mr. Mubarak, formation of an interim government, and amendments to the Constitution to allow for free elections. The group settled more firmly on Dr. ElBaradei, consulting with a group of other opposition figures, to speak for the movement, Mr. Issa said. Specifically, he said, the group expected Dr. ElBaradei to represent the protesters to the United States, a crucial Egyptian ally and benefactor, and in negotiations with the army, which the group expected to play the pivotal role in the coming days and weeks.

Mr. Ezz said the group also discussed future tactics, including strikes, civil disobedience and a vigil for dead protesters, as well as music performances and speakers in Liberation Square.

Others briefed on the meeting said that the group had also decided to encourage protesters to adopt the “hug a soldier” strategy. With signs that the military appeared divided between support for the president and the protesters, these people said, the group decided to encourage demonstrators to emphasize their faith and trust in the soldiers.

“We are dealing with the army in a peaceful manner until it proves otherwise, and we still have faith in the army,” Mr. Ezz said. “Until now, they are neutral, and at least if we can’t bring them to our side, we don’t want to lose them.”

Then, Mr. Issa said, it was the young organizers who directed Dr. ElBaradei to appear Sunday afternoon, after the curfew, in Liberation Square, to speak for the first time as the face of their movement.

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times

 

Opposition Rallies to ElBaradei as Military Reinforces in Cairo

CAIRO — Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition banded together Sunday around a prominent government critic to negotiate for forces seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, as the army struggled to hold a capital seized by fears of chaos and buoyed by euphoria that three decades of Mr. Mubarak’s rule may be coming to an end.

The announcement that the critic,Mohamed ElBaradei, would represent a loosely unified opposition reconfigured the struggle between Mr. Mubarak’s government and a six-day-old uprising bent on driving him and his party from power.

Though lacking deep support on his own, Dr. ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and diplomat, could serve as a consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition. It suggested, too, that the opposition was aware of the uprising’s image abroad, putting forth a candidate who might be more acceptable to the West than beloved in Egypt.

Mass demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak rule

In scenes as tumultuous as any since the uprising began, Dr. ElBaradei defied a government curfew and joined thousands of protesters in Liberation Square, a downtown landmark that has become the epicenter of the uprising and a platform, writ small, for the frustrations, ambitions and resurgent pride of a generation claiming the country’s mantle.

“Today we are proud of Egyptians,” Dr. ElBaradei told throngs who surged toward him in a square festooned with banners calling for Mr. Mubarak’s fall. “We have restored our rights, restored our freedom, and what we have begun cannot be reversed.”

Dr. ElBaradei declared it a “new era,” and as night fell there were few in Egypt who seemed to disagree.

Dr. ElBaradei also criticized the Obama administration, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the message via Sunday news programs in Washington that Mr. Mubarak should create an “orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, while she refrained from calling on him to resign. That approach, Dr. ElBaradei said, was “a failed policy” eroding American credibility.

“It’s better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, it’s time for you to go,” Dr. ElBaradei said.

The tumult Sunday seemed perched between two deepening narratives: a vision of anarchy offered by the government, and echoed by Egyptians fearing chaos, against the perspective of protesters and many others that the uprising had become what they called “a popular revolution.”

The military, Egypt’s most powerful institution and one embedded deeply in all aspects of life here, reinforced parts of the capital Sunday. It gathered as many as 100 tanks and armored carriers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the site of President Anwar el-Sadat’s assassination in 1981, which brought Mr. Mubarak to power. The Interior Ministry announced it would again deploy once-ubiquitous police forces — despised by many as the symbol of the daily humiliations of Mr. Mubarak’s government — across the country, except in Liberation Square.

In a collapse of authority, the police withdrew from major cities on Saturday, giving free rein to gangs that stole and burned cars, looted shops and ransacked a fashionable mall, where dismembered mannequins for conservative Islamic dress were strewn over broken glass and puddles of water. Thousands of inmates poured out of four prisons, including the country’s most notorious, Abu Zaabal and Wadi Natroun. Checkpoints run by the military and neighborhood groups, sometimes spaced just a block apart, proliferated across Cairo and other cities.

Many have darkly suggested that the government was behind the collapse of authority as a way to justify a crackdown or discredit protesters’ calls for change.

“Egypt challenges anarchy,” a government-owned newspaper declared Sunday.

“A Conspiracy by Security to Support the Scenario of Chaos,” replied an independent newspaper in a headline that shared space at a downtown kiosk.

The United States said it was organizing flights to evacuate its citizens on Monday, and the American Embassy urged all Americans to “consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so,” in a statement that underlined a deep sense of pessimism among Egypt’s allies over Mr. Mubarak’s fate.

Turkey, a major power in the region, said it was sending three flights to evacuate 750 of its citizens from Cairo and Alexandria.

“We’re worried about the chaos, sure,” said Selma al-Tarzi, 33, a film director who had joined friends in Liberation Square. “But everyone is aware the chaos is generated by the government. The revolution is not generating the chaos.”

Still, driven by instances of looting — and rumors fed by Egyptian television’s unrelenting coverage of lawlessness — it was clear that many feared the menace could worsen, and possibly undermine the protesters’ demands.

“At first the words were right,” said Abu Sayyid al-Sayyid, a driver. “The protests were peaceful — freedom, jobs and all that. But then the looting came and the thugs and thieves with it. Someone has to step in before there’s nothing left to step into.”

For a government that long celebrated the mantra of Arab strongmen — security and stability — Mr. Mubarak and his officials seemed to stumble in formulating a response to the most serious challenge to his rule. Mr. Mubarak appeared on state television on Sunday in a meeting with military chiefs in what was portrayed as business as usual. Through the day, the station broadcast pledges of fealty from caller after caller.

“Behind you are 80 million people, saying yes to Mubarak!” one declared.

That was the rarest of comments across Cairo, though, as anger grew at what residents described as treason and betrayal on the part of a reeling state.

For two days, clashes raged at Abu Zaabal, the prison north of Cairo, and officials said the police had killed at least 12 inmates there before abandoning it. On Sunday, scores of people passed in and out of the colonnaded entrance, hauling boxes and furniture through a black iron gate. Two army tanks parked nearby declined to intervene.

The Muslim Brotherhood said 34 of its members walked out of Wadi Natroun, on the road to Alexandria, after guards abandoned their posts. All had been arrested before dawn Friday, the biggest day of the protests.

“The prisoners themselves freed us from the gang who kidnapped us, this government that has become a gang,” said Essam al-Arian, one of the Brotherhood’s leaders, who had been among those held.

Since the uprising began last week, the Brotherhood has taken part in the protests but shied away from a leadership role, though that appeared to change Sunday. Mohammed el-Beltagui, a key Brotherhood leader and former Parliament member, said an alliance of the protest’s more youthful leaders and older opposition figures had met again in an attempt to assemble a more unified front with a joint committee.

It included Dr. ElBaradei, along with other prominent figures like Ayman Nour and Osama al-Ghazali Harb, who have struggled to build a popular following. By far, the Brotherhood represents the most powerful force, but Mr. Beltagui and another Brotherhood official, Mohamed el-Katatni, said the group understood the implications of seeking leadership in a country still deeply divided over its religious program.

“We’re supporting ElBaradei to lead the path to change,” Mr. Beltagui said as he joined him in Liberation Square. “The Brotherhood realizes the sensitivities, especially in the West, towards the Islamists, and we’re not keen to be at the forefront.”

“We’re trying to build a democratic arena before we start playing in it,” he said.

Whether Dr. ElBaradei can emerge as that consensus figure remained unclear. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work leading the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Even in Liberation Square, the crowd’s reaction to Dr. ElBaradei was mixed — some were sympathetic but many more were reserved in their support for a man who has spent much time abroad.

One Brotherhood supporter, Mohammed Fayed, an engineer, said that even if Dr. ElBaradei could replace Mr. Mubarak, he should stay no longer than a year: “ElBaradei doesn’t live here and doesn’t know us. We need a leader who can understand Egyptians.”

Whatever his success, the army, long an institution shielded from criticism in the state media, was still the fulcrum of events, with a growing recognition that it would probably play the pivotal role in shaping the outcome.

In a show of authority, Mr. Mubarak was shown meeting with Defense Minister Mohammed Tantawi and Omar Suleiman, his right-hand man and the country’s intelligence chief, whom he appointed as vice president on Saturday. In slogans and actions, protesters cultivated the military, too, in a bid to turn it to their side.

Military helicopters circled Liberation Square through the day, and jets roared across a late afternoon sky. But the army took no steps against the protesters, who cheered as the helicopters passed overhead. In an unprecedented scene, some of them lofted a captain in uniform on their shoulders, marching him through a square suffused with demonstrators that cut across Egypt’s entrenched lines of class and religious devotion.

In contrast to the apprehension elsewhere in Cairo, a carnival atmosphere descended on the square, where vendors offered Egyptian dishes at discount prices and protesters posed for pictures beside tanks scrawled with slogans like, “30 years of humiliation and poverty.”

“The people and the army are one hand!” they shouted.

Across the capital, youths and some older men guarded their own neighborhoods, sometimes posting themselves at each block and alley. Several said they were in contact with the military, as well as with each other, and many residents expressed pride in the success that they had in securing their property from the threat of looters and thieves.

The sentiments captured what has become a powerful theme these days in Cairo: that Egyptians again were taking control of their destiny, against the odds.

“We know each other, we stand by each other and people respect what we’re doing,” said Ramadan Farghal, who headed one self-defense group in the poorer neighborhood of Bassateen. “This is the Egyptian people. We used to be one hand.”

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times

 

Avatar Aside, Film Characters Who Smoke in Decline

Despite the irritating presence of chain-smoking “environmental” scientist Grace Augustine in “Avatar,” the number of characters who smoke in a movies is on the decline, according to a new study.

Companies routinely pay thousands of dollars to have their products placed in movies, but Avatar cause particular outrage. Sigourney Weaver’s Grace Augustine is a tough-talking, swear-like-a-sailor scientist who also chews up Marlboros.

As an environmental scientist, no less, you would think Grace would know better. And, that’s what irked critics. The smoking scenes seem pretty gratuitous and suggests that product placement fees may have had an influence.

It also suggested that cigarette smoking would still be common long into the future, despite efforts to curb tobacco use for health reasons.

So score one for tobacco companies on that one.

But, overall, tobacco use on the silver screen peaked in 2005 and has been on the decline ever since, the study found.

Movies released last year showed about half the number of smoking incidents than films four years earlier.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released the study, which looked at tobacco use in popular films from 1991 to 2009.

Last year, about half of the 145 movies in the study didn’t show any smoking at all.

For films aimed at children or teens, the percentage was even higher at 61 percent.

However, slightly more than half of the movies rated PG-13 did show tobacco use.

Earlier this week, actor Michael Douglas, a former heavy smoker, announced that he had throat cancer. Doctors say his prognosis is good.

 

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

 

 

 

Mom, You’re One Tough Art Critic

AFTER careful consideration, Jessica Hanff has found the ideal spot for the art that her 4-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, brings home from preschool: the trash can.

“We’re getting two to four pieces of crayon drawing a day,” said Ms. Hanff, a 36-year-old operations manager for an academic research institute. On a recent Tuesday, Ms. Hanff began sorting through a few dozen of Elisabeth’s drawings, stacked in the mudroom of the family’s Washington home.

Elisabeth Hanff with a portrait from her blue period

“These are printouts off the computer, colored in,” she said. “C is for Cat! And she’s scribbled some things on it. This is Dora the Explorer.” Ms. Hanff stopped to observe the purplish rings that Elisabeth had marked around Dora’s eyes. “It looks like someone slapped her in the face. She’s got these big shiners.”

Ms. Hanff is always on the lookout for “exceptional” drawings. But this entire batch would soon be archived in the rubbish bin. “I’m not sentimental about those at all,” she said. “It’s my job to avoid raising a hoarder, and I’m leading by example.”

But Elisabeth has been known to fish her drawings out of the trash and present them to her mother. “I’ll say, ‘Oh, thank you,’ ” Ms. Hanff said. “We’ll have a discussion. I’m not callous. But once she turns away, often I’ll toss it out again.”

Elisabeth’s creative work, it should be noted, can be found all over the house. (At this point, her 2-year-old sister, Charlotte, doesn’t claim as much wall space.) Elisabeth started embroidering last year. And her grandmother gave her a grown-up watercolor set. In a vaguely Dadaist spirit, Elisabeth used a floret of broccoli to paint the pointillist color study that hangs in her bedroom.

“I do think my kids are awesome,” Ms. Hanff said. “I tell them how great they are. But we’re not going to build an addition on the back for every piece of crayon art they’ve ever done.”

We all want our children to be creative. But do they have to be so prolific? Once children enter nursery school, every day produces another masterpiece. Presidents’ Day brings a cotton ball wig; Purim means a bean-box rattle.

Forget about organizing the pieces in a storage bin. This is a job for a shipping container.

All this art may or may not tell us something about the nature of the child. But it reveals plenty about the parents. Do they lavish praise on every piece or barely glance up from the iPhone? Do they frame art for the grandparents or turn it into wrapping paper? In the plainest sense, is the parent a keeper or a chucker?

No one has quantified just how much art children create at school, said David Burton, a professor of art education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. But having worked in the field for more than 40 years, Dr. Burton refutes the notion that present-day parents have coddled and attaboy-ed their children into overproducing.

Art classrooms of the 1960s and ’70s followed “a philosophy of make and take,” Dr. Burton said. That is, at the end of every 40-minute class, an art project would be ready for Mom and Dad. Art educators today have been trained to encourage a deeper exploration of material, process and theory.

At the same time, Dr. Burton said, tots now start scribbling with ergonomic crayons by the age of 18 months: “Years and years ago, people — even art educators — believed that children would just waste materials when they were really toddlers.”

Art can be valuable to the development of even the youngest children, Dr. Burton said. Drawing, for instance, helps build cognitive and fine motor skills. And it teaches children to observe and discriminate when it comes to color, shape and form. Young children can sometimes draw emotions that go beyond their words, he added.

But how much does a 4-year-old boy really care about his 50th portrait of Thomas the Tank Engine? “Once they’re through with it, they may lose interest in it very quickly,” Dr. Burton said. “The process is more important than the product for the child.”

Still, the curator of the refrigerator door can’t be too ruthless. When Dad de-accessions a new finger painting overnight, Dr. Burton said, “the child quickly learns that this art that they’re making is very ephemeral.” In other words, worthless.

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times

 

 

Mandela’s still rising in the sun

Nelson Mandela, the beloved but increasingly frail hero of South African democracy, remained hospitalized for a second day here on Thursday for what his foundation called “routine tests.”

As friends and family filed into Milpark Hospital to visit Mr. Mandela, 92, the nation’s current president and leaders of the governing party, the African National Congress, sought to calm an anxious public. They also scolded the press for what a party spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, called “unwarranted speculation” about Mr. Mandela’s health.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a brief statement Wednesday, “He is in no danger and is in good spirits.” And President Jacob Zuma’s office said Thursday that Mr. Mandela “is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists.”

But neither the foundation nor the government has released specific information about the reason for Mr. Mandela’s hospitalization, or why he remained there overnight. Instead, they have issued pleas to the public to respect Mr. Mandela’s privacy.

Mr. Zuma, who was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was being kept fully briefed on Mr. Mandela’s care, his office said.

“We urge the media to afford him the dignity and respect that he is entitled to as the country’s founding democratic president, as a national hero and also as a citizen of the republic,” the office said.

But even as officials tried to quiet the feverish news coverage of Mr. Mandela’s hospitalization, the sight of his grandchildren, senior politicians and former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, coming to his bedside stirred speculation that his condition might be more serious than officials were willing to confirm. Ms. Madikizela-Mandela wiped tears from her eyes as she left the hospital Thursday afternoon, according to a report by the South African Press Association.

For years, rumors have swirled about Mr. Mandela’s health. His public appearances have become less and less frequent, and friends say he is thin, tires easily and has little appetite. He last appeared in July at the closing ceremony of the World Cup soccer tournament. His foundation regularly pleads with the public to leave him in peace.

But the curiosity about his medical condition persists. Last month, the African National Congress denounced a report on Twitter that Mr. Mandela had died. “It is only people without a soul who would spread such lies about our living icon,” Mr. Mthembu said at the time.

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times

Goodbye… Van der Sar sets retirement date

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar will retire from football at the end of the season.

The 40-year-old former Holland international moved to Old Trafford from Fulham in 2005 and helped the Red Devils to three Premier League titles and Champions League glory in 2008.

Making the announcement he said: “It is now time to pay attention to my family.”

Van der Sar has been contemplating retirement since his wife Annemarie collapsed with a brain haemorrhage in December 2009.

“I cannot really identify a time when it [the decision] happened,” said the former Ajax man. “Let’s just say that it was playing on my mind from the moment Annemarie had her stroke.

“She has fought back from it. We decided on another year in England and thus to stay at Manchester United. But, once engaged in the season, the thought of saying goodbye started to gnaw a bit more emphatically.”

DIFFICULT PROCESS

Van der Sar admitted it had not been an easy decision but he feels the time is right.

He added: “One minute you’re out. The next, you question it again. I thought about stopping, maybe a year ago. It is a difficult process. After a defeat, I thought differently than after playing a few good games in a row.

“My age played no role. I am 40 years old, but I still feel fit.

“And then the decision came suddenly. Do not ask me how or why, but suddenly you know. That was sufficient.

“The time has come to devote greater attention to my family – although they have never complained. Everyone in the family has indeed always had to focus on me, but we have also had a lot in return.”

FANTASTIC SERVANT

United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele believes Van der Sar will go down alongside former Red Devil Peter Schmeichel as one of the club’s greats following his decisive penalty save from Nicolas Anelka in the Champions League final shootout against Chelsea in May 2008.

Steele said: “Edwin will retire at the end of the season. It has been a mutual decision between the manager, the team and Edwin.

“He has been a fantastic servant. I was very lucky. I worked alongside Peter Schmeichel at Villa and I worked with Edwin for two and a half years.

“That penalty save in Moscow has elevated Edwin alongside Peter.”

 

Copyright 2011 by Barclays Premier League

Volkswagen unveils sleek new car that does an incredible 313 miles to the gallon

It promises to be the answer to every hard-up motorist’s dreams.

Volkswagen has unveiled the world’s most economical car that it says can travel 313 miles on a gallon of diesel.

Emitting just 38 grammes of carbon dioxide per mile travelled, the XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle is also likely to be the vehicle of choice for green enthusiasts.

Formally unveiled at the Qatar motor show last night, the XL1 is powered by an 800cc TDI two-cylinder diesel engine linked to an electric motor.

The compact two-seater weighs just 795kg as it is built around a carbon fibre reinforced polymer exterior.

It can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 11.9 seconds and has a top speed of 99mph.

Due to go on sale in 2013, the car is just under four metres long – the same size as a Volkswagen Polo – and sits lower off the ground than a Lamborghini sports car at 1.18m tall.

What’s more, Volkswagen chairman Dr Martin Winterhorn has said the XL1 will go on sale in Britain and Germany first at an affordable price.

In order to develop the car’s innovative exterior, Volkswagen patented a new system for the manufacture of the Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) parts on the car called the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process.

Further savings, which it is promised will be passed onto the customer, were made through the extensive use of lightweight materials including magnesium for the wheels; ceramics for brake discs; and aluminium for dampers, steering system and brake calipers.

 

Copyright 2011 by Daily Mail

How to Talk with a Scottish Accent

Instructions

  • Step 1:

    Familiarize yourself with Scottish slang and vocabulary. Always use the word “wee” when describing something small or young. “Aye,” “bonny” and “lassie” are also commonly used and makes your accent seem authentic. Pick up a book of words that are distinctive to the Scottish dialect.

  • Step 2:

    Learn to roll your Rs. Scots are the only English speakers to employ the rolled R sound and do it regularly, particularly following the letters D, G and T.

  • Step 3:

    Pay attention to your vowels. Analyses have shown that Scottish English speakers use five fewer vowel sounds than any other English speakers. Use the shortened version of vowels. The words “cot” and “caught” should sound the same. Pronounce E as though it has been cut off in the middle, creating an “eh” sound. Use only one form of the letter I, so everything rhymes with “might.”

  • Step 4:

    Collapse words into as few syllables as possible and drop the G from words ending in “-ing.” Replace “not” with “nee.” When you are speaking with a Scottish accent, tell someone that you “didnee do anythin’ in Ednbrah” instead of saying you “didn’t do anything in Edinburgh.”

  • Step 5:

    Listen to Scottish accents. Watch Scottish films like “Trainspotting” or films that prominently feature Scottish actors using their native accent. Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, Billy Boyd and John Hannah are distinctly Scottish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Visit Scotland for at least a few weeks and talk to the locals.

 

Copyright 2011 by Answerbag

Twitter Still Seeks Cooperation From Facebook

Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder, said Wednesday that it is frustrating that Facebook will not let Twitter users look up friends on Facebook or send Facebook posts to Twitter.

Mr. Williams was responding to a question from John Battelle, co-founder of the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco where Mr. Williams was a guest speaker. A recurring theme during the conference has been the lack of cooperation between Web companies, particularly over sharing social information between sites.

“Sure,” Mr. Williams said in response to a question about whether he was frustrated. “We like our users to be able to tap into Facebook to make their Twitter experience better.”

But he said he understands Facebook’s reluctance and that the two companies are talking.

“They see their social graph as their core asset, and they want to make sure there’s a win-win relationship with anybody who accesses it,” he said. “We’re talking to them often to see if there is a way to work together, but so far neither side has found out a way to do that other than what we’ve done already.”

Mr. Williams also said that Twitter calculates a reputation score for all its users. Asked whether Twitter would make the scores public, he compared it to Google’s secret PageRank scores, which inform its search results.

“I think it’d be really cool to make it public,” he said. “The problem is it’s kind of like making PageRank public — it would be gamed.”

As for new Twitter products coming soon, he said the company is very focused on surfacing the most relevant posts among the ever-growing sea of posts.

“We have this treasure of too much information, and that’s very empowering and helps us all, but it’s clearly becoming more and more of a problem,” he said.

“There’s a hundred million tweets a day,” he said, and Twitter is trying to answer the question: “Which ones matter to you?”

Mr. Williams also spoke about Twitter’s partnership, announced Wednesday, with Gnip, a social media analytics company. Gnip will license half the Twitter posts in the live Twitter stream to companies that want to use them for analysis, but not to display the posts.

Twitter already licenses the stream to companies that display it, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

“We’ve gotten demand from companies that want to look at this data to learn about trends and analytics for marketers and other companies,” Mr. Williams said. “There’s a million ways to slice and dice this data and a lot of companies in that business and we’re not really in that business,” which is why Twitter is working with Gnip.

 

Copyright 2011 by The New York Times