Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Villa the difference as Spain beat Portugal 1-0



Villa the difference as Spain beat Portugal 1-0

CAPE TOWN, South Africa: Spain's David Villa scored off his own rebound, finally breaking down Portugal's defense in a 1-0 victory that put the European champs in the World Cup quarterfinal.

Villa took Xavi Hernandez' heel pass in the 63rd minute, but his left-footed shot was saved by Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo. He then fired the rebound with his right foot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

It was Villa's fourth goal of the tournament.

Spain will play Paraguay in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

While Villa is tied for the lead in scoring at the World Cup, it was a disappointing tournament for Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player. His only goal came late in Portugal's 7-0 rout of North Korea in group play, and he had a quiet night against Spain.

His best attempt Tuesday came from a free kick in the 28th minute when he launched the ball from 35 yards with such a dipping swerve that all Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas could do was block it with his body and see the ball bounce free.

Otherwise, Portugal could rely little on its captain. As he was pointing left and right where his teammates should go, he often walked.

This was 33rd time the Iberian neighbors have met in soccer, but the first time in the World Cup. Spain has won 16 of the matches to Portugal's five.

Portugal went out of the tournament after conceding its first goal in four games.

Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands



Ubisoft today announced that Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands video game is in development and is scheduled to be released May 2010 for consoles and handhelds.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Storm to slow US oil spill containment ramp-up

NEW YORK: High winds and large waves expected in the Gulf of Mexico as the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season passes to the west are likely to slow efforts to contain the largest oil spill in US history.

As costs associated with the spill mount, shares in London-based energy giant BP Plc(BP.L) are languishing near 14-year lows, prompting the New York Federal Reserve to investigate potential systemic risks posed by the company.

The Gulf oil crisis is in its 71st day with no firm end in sight. The economic and ecological costs -- to tourism, wildlife, fishing and other industries -- continue to mount for four states along the US Gulf coast.

Tropical Storm Alex, forecast to reach hurricane strength on Tuesday, is projected to travel well west and south of the undersea gusher about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

But plans to move a third containment vessel to the leaking well could be pushed back by about a week by high waves associated with Alex, a BP spokesman said on Monday.

US government officials estimate that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels are leaking from the blown-out well each day.

BP's current containment system can handle up to 28,000 barrels daily. The planned addition would have raised that to 53,000 bpd, said Kent Wells, a senior vice president with BP.

Deep below the ocean floor, drilling of a pair of relief wells intended to plug the leak for good by August will continue "unless, unfortunately, a storm heads directly our way," Wells said.

The first relief well is now tantalizingly close to the blown out well -- just 20 feet (6 meters). But BP said on Monday it will be drilled another 900 feet (275 meters) before an attempt is made to intercept the rogue well.

BP's market capitalization has shrunk by hundreds of billions of dollars since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sunk in 5,000 feet (1,525 meters) of water on April 22, two days after an explosion and fire killed 11 workers.

The company continues to publicly stand behind Tony Hayward, its embattled chief executive.

On Monday, sources said that the New York Federal Reserve has been monitoring firms' exposure to BP to ensure that if the oil giant buckles it will not put the global financial system at risk.

"The Fed gave banks' exposure to BP a passing grade," said one of the sources, on condition of anonymity.

Still, some of BP's trading partners, such as Credit Suisse, are tightening collateral requirements imposed on the company, CNBC reported on Monday.

Top US officials continue to beat a path to the Gulf region, responding to criticism that President Barack Obama and his administration responded too slowly to the crisis. Vice President Joe Biden heads to the region on Tuesday.

Polls have given Obama low marks for his handling of the disaster, although not as low as those given to BP.

On Monday, former president Bill Clinton told CNN that Obama was getting "a bum rap." The failed well is a "geological monster" and if efforts to cap the leak should fail, the US Navy might have to blow it up, Clinton added.

As crude oil and dispersants float on the surface of the Gulf, crews are battling to keep filth off beaches and away from wildlife breeding grounds. Rough weather created by Alex would be just the latest blow to the hard-hit region.

Parts of the Louisiana shoreline are under a coastal flood watch through Wednesday evening. High tides could be two to three feet above normal in some locations.

Skippers and deckhands at the public marina in Pointe-a-la-Hache, Louisiana, said they were worried about what impact the water's already high level will have if Alex pushes foul weather toward them.

"If a storm comes with the tide, then it's going to be an issue," said Robert Whittington, who has worked at the marina for 20 years. "We're just waiting to see what happens."

In Ocean Springs, Mississippi, residents angry about BP's slow spill clean-up took it upon themselves to pick up tar balls making landfall. After waiting hours for clean-up crews, young children and their parents began digging up large patches of the oil with sand toys and shovels.

"That is all we had to use and we were not going to sit around and wait for BP to pick this mess up. It is our home," said area resident Marty Wagoner.

PIECE of the Mary Rose is to be taken into space

During a gala dinner on board HMS Warrior, the Atlantis space shuttle crew, who are visiting Portsmouth, were presented with a wooden ball bearing from the Tudor warship which was used to hoist the yards carrying the sails up the mast.

It was fundamental to the propulsion to the warship.

It will be taken back to Houston where it will hopefully be taken on a space mission.

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: 'It is really tremendous to have the opportunity to present this little piece of the Mary Rose to the visiting shuttle crew to take back to Houston, in the hope that it will be taken into space on a future mission.

'The Mary Rose was as revolutionary in technological advances 500 years as the space shuttle.

'Both have helped pioneer exploration and advanced the sciences.'

Also on board HMS Warrior last night was astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

The purpose of the gala dinner was to raise money to send a child from Portsmouth to one of the NASA centres in Florida.

The Atlantis space crew were today rocketing around the city in a whirlwind tour to meet thousands of youngsters.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Brazil's beautiful game now has spine of steel



Johannesburg, June 29 : Brazil sent out an ominous warning to their World Cup rivals Monday with a clinical 3-0 defeat of Chile to set up a quarter-final clash with the Netherlands.

The Selecao seemed capable of scoring at will against Chile at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and coach Carlos Dunga said he would now reduce the length of training sessions so his players can continue to produce a more expansive game than seen in the group stages.

The laborious victory against North Korea in the opening game, when Dunga faced accusations of betraying Brazil's footballing heritage, seemed an age away as goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho simply blew away the Chileans.

More frighteningly for the Dutch, who face Brazil Friday in Port Elizabeth for a place in the last four, is that Brazil barely moved out of second gear, and Dunga sees considerable room for improvement.

"We've already said that in these World Cup games, that we have to play an open game, and that is what we saw," he said. "As we go along, game by game, our confidence is growing."

Dunga revealed that Brazil are leaving nothing to chance in South Africa, with nutrition, training and recovery times for his players all coming under the microscope to ensure the South Americans go home with a sixth World Cup title.

Kaka is one player who has experienced Dunga's attention to detail and is following a strict regime to ensure he is soon capable of playing a full 90 minutes, as he continues his comeback from a troublesome groin injury.

The Real Madrid star managed to last 81 minutes against Chile and set up the second goal for Fabiano, but Dunga admitted concern about the playmaker picking up another booking following his sending off against Ivory Coast, calling it "a problem".

But Dunga saw enough glimpses of quality from the 28-year-old to know that Kaka is on the right track, while the coach's no-nonsense attitude has even succeeded in turning the often enigmatic Robinho into a complete team player.

The Santos striker left Manchester City under a cloud but has fulfilled the role required by Dunga in South Africa, swapping positions with Kaka when needed.

"I only need to say a few words, and the players know what they should do and where they should play," Dunga said. "I have told them that they have the liberty to play. I try to give them advice to guide them, so that they put in the best performance possible."

Dunga's only concern is that Brazil must now leave their base in Johannesburg and travel to Port Elizabeth for the quarter-final tie against the Dutch before a possible semi-final match in Cape Town.

"We were very well settled in our hotel in a very favourable atmosphere, and we are now going to have to move from city to city and hotel to hotel, and this causes its own confusion," he said.

"It would be better to remain where we are."

G20 summit backs UK Budget, says David Cameron



World leaders at the G20 summit in Canada have backed the UK's "tough but fair" Budget, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister said his measures to slash spending and rein in Britain's deficit were endorsed in a communique.

Leaders of the world's major economies ended the meeting in Toronto by reaffirming an earlier commitment to halve their deficits by 2013.

Their final agreement allows countries to adopt differing economic policies to match their own priorities.

It also lets individual nations decide for themselves how to deal with the banks.

'Tough and courageous'

The communique acknowledged that countries with large budget deficits, like the UK, needed to "accelerate the pace of consolidation".

It stated: "It is clear that consolidation will need to begin in advanced economies in 2011 and earlier for countries experiencing significant fiscal challenges.

"There is also a risk that the failure to implement consolidation where necessary would undermine confidence and hamper growth."

In a reference to England's exit from the football World Cup, Mr Cameron told a press conference that it had been a "busy weekend... one which has brought many positive outcomes for Britain, if not on the football field then here at the summit".

He said the talks were designed to co-ordinate growth across the world.

"For some people, particularly countries like Britain with the biggest budget deficit in the G20, that action has to be fiscally consolidated, it has to be sorting out our debts and our deficit so we get confidence in our economy," he said.

"What the G20 has agreed is that this is not an alternative to growth, this is part of the global growth package.

"It's important that the countries with the biggest budget deficits accelerate that action... that is specific backing for the budget we have introduced."

He also said he did not expect the plans to be universally popular, and it was "tough and courageous... but necessary".

Mr Cameron came first face-to-face with US President Barack Obama at the summit for the first time since becoming prime minister.

He said: "I hope you will know what I mean when I say I thought the special relationship took off during the time we spent together."

He then played down suggestions that the US had clashed with Europe over the global economic recovery plans.

"It's a mistake to think this summit has been about a different approach between the Americans and Europeans," he said.

Chancellor George Osborne was also positive about the summit, saying there had been a "change of tone".

"People have understood the impact of the sovereign debt crisis and the necessity of countries to prove not just to international investors but to their own domestic populations that they have got serious, credible plans to live within their means," he said.

Last week the UK coalition government's first Budget announced a two-year pay freeze for public sector workers earning over £21,000 and substantial welfare savings including a three-year freeze in child benefit, a cap on housing benefit and a reduction in tax credits for families earning more than £40,000.

Mr Osborne also said the main rate of VAT would rise from 17.5% to 20% from next January, but he raised the personal income tax allowance by £1,000.

Apple Iphone 4 supply for UK gets worse



THREE WEEKS from the date of a fanbois' order seems to be the Apple online store's latest shipment delay minimum while the London Regents Street Apple Store has run out of stock and staff there tell The INQUIRER that they don't have a date for a delivery.

Continuing the supply troubles that the fruit themed company has had, the official launch date for the shiny new toy was 24 June, but even before then the UK Apple online store had July dates for shipment. Supply problems have also impacted mobile network operators wanting to offer the handset, as the launch date came and went and the companies were unable to stock any. Apple has said that delays are due to an unexpected volume of orders, with 600,000 handsets having been pre-ordered on the first day.

Fanbois queued around the block all day last Thursday to buy the Iphone 4 from the London Regents Street outlet and it sold out. The store's staff told The INQUIRER that customers will now have to register their email to go on a "priority list" and that they will be informed when a handset is available. Apple media relations was not available for comment on the online or retail supply situation.

The US company S3 Graphics has initiated legal action against Apple through the US International Trade Commission. If the ITC concludes that Apple has infringed S3 Graphics patents as the company claims then Steve Jobs' Iphones could be stopped from reaching the US market until any actual infringement is resolved.

Friday, June 25, 2010

UPDATE 2-Canada makes 3rd security-related arrest before summit



TORONTO, June 25 (Reuters) - Toronto police arrested a man near the G20 meeting site on Thursday whose car contained a chainsaw, crossbow and fuel containers, but officials said later the case did not appear to be tied to the summit.

The 53-year-old man was pulled over just a block from where tall steel fences have been erected to protect leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies who meet on Saturday and Sunday in Canada's most populous city.

The battered silver sedan had a large crate strapped to its roof. Also found in the car was the man's dog.

"We do not believe it is G20-related," G8/G20 spokeswoman Catherine Martin said on Thursday night.

Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith told local television the suspect had "no reasonable explanation for the weapons that we observed that were in physical plain view."

It was the third security-related arrest in recent days before the G20 and G8 summits. Canada is spending C$1 billion on security, deploying thousands of police from across the country to protect two summit sites surrounded by 10-foot-high (3-metre) steel fences set in concrete.

Earlier this week, police arrested a man and his wife in an upscale neighbourhood in north Toronto on explosive and firearms charges.

The Integrated Security Unit, which is overseeing security for the summits, did not say what, if any, direct threat the two may have posed, but said there was "no risk to public safety at this time."

On Friday and Saturday, leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet in Huntsville, Ontario, about two hours' drive north of Toronto. The G20 will then gather in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.

The summits will focus on the global economic crisis and are expected to attract thousands of protesters who plan to press anti-poverty and pro-environment agendas.

Police hope to avoid clashes like the 1999 "Battle of Seattle" that disrupted trade talks in that city, and protests during the Summit of the Americas in Canada in 2001 that police used tear gas to disperse.

Police have already arrested a number of protesters this week in Toronto, although marches have generally been peaceful.

Thousands of protesters demonstrating for aboriginal rights marched through the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday, flanked by police on bikes and followed by others on horseback.

"No tar sands on sovereign Native land," the group chanted in reference to the oil sands projects in the western Canadian province of Alberta.
(Additional reporting by Allan Dowd and David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)

MS Office Web Apps - office moves to the Internet



Using online services, you can handle photos, edit videos, recognize text, translate words from one language to another and perform many other operations that were previously impossible without installing special software. Online office packages have also not surprising. Web-office is at Google and Adobe, and most recently - and from Microsoft.

June 9 the official presentation of the final version of Office Web Apps - a service that makes it possible to work with documents Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, without referring to desktop applications. Although the service has yet officially launched only in the U.S., UK, Canada and Ireland, and the presentation of a version for Russian users is scheduled for the fall, working with an online office from Microsoft can now. Simply go to the site office.live.com and logged in using an account Windows Live. If you do not have such an account, it’s very easy to create.

Office Web Apps are working within the service Skydive. Launched over two years ago, this service also owned by Microsoft, and allows you to store files online experience. Each user can store the service documents, totaling 25 gigabytes.

Service exists as an add-on to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Users can upload documents to the corporate server and a web browser to access files that were uploaded by other employees.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPhone 4: The first problems


Smartphone Apple iPhone a new generation just went on sale, as users have already started to record problems in the work.

The first thing that was discovered - the phone loses network, if you hold hands for housing in the area of the antenna. While the machine quietly on the table, with a link from him everything is fine but should take it in hand as the relationship begins to gradually disappear. Many users have reported that encountered the same problems. At the moment the exact reason is not, but most likely hands on the metal shell, change the resonant frequency of the antenna, which apparently has a narrow bandwidth and loses connection. Nevertheless, this is only speculation, in addition, after the communication devices were discovered happy owners who do not have this problem, which casts doubt on this theory.

iPhone 4 drop test broken

RBI diktat may queer FII pitch

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and banks are keeping their fingers crossed on a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rule effective July 1 that could increase capital needs, leading to higher transaction costs and temporary liquidity issues.

The central bank has said from July, the irrevocable payment commitments, or IPCs, by custodian banks to institutional funds should be treated as capital market exposure. But custodian who offer back-end services to funds maintain that their guarantees are not exposure to equities. Banks issue such payment guarantees in favour of stock exchanges on behalf of FIIs to facilitate transactions done by these clients.

"We have given our feedback and have also told RBI individually as banks that in the current format it will become difficult to confirm trades, which could cause a liquidity issue in the market," said a custodian privy to the meetings with the central bank who did not want to be identified.

Implementation of the rule first announced in 2007 has been deferred many times in the past and the latest deadline
is July 1. Some believe it may be deferred again. Deutsche Bank, Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered Bank are some who act as custodians. RBI, in its efforts to reduce the risk in the banking system, had suggested the rule after its inspection revealed that banks were not setting aside enough capital for equity risks. The probe revealed that some banks extended loans to mutual funds and issued guarantees to stock exchanges on behalf of institutional investors.

"IPCs are in the nature of non-fund based credit facility for purchase of shares and are to be treated on a par with guarantees issued for the purpose of capital market operations,’’ RBI said on December 14, 2007. ``Such exposure of banks will, therefore, form part of their Capital Market Exposure. Banks were also advised that entities such as FIIs are not permitted to avail of fund or non-fund based facilities such as IPCs from banks."

But custodians believe that there was little risk in their business and that they could recover the funds in case of a default. "In a cash equity settlement, a custodian exposure is only to the extent of the price risk of the securities,’’ said another custodian. ``If there is a default on the purchase obligation, a custodian offsets it by disposing of the security. The risk arising out of the price movement is also taken care of by the margin framework in place."

13 mln Downloads Done from Airtel App Central



Ever since Bharti Airtel launched its App Central in February, subscribers have been on a downloading spree. A solid testament to this fact is that there has been a record download of 13 million in just four months, which roughly translates to 1.2 download every second, according to a report on Fonearena.com.

While making this announcement, Atul BindalBindal, President-Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel said, "4 months since it opened Airtel App Central continues its triumphant march, transforming into Smartphones the basic devices of an increasing number of Airtel mobile customers across the country. Airtel customers have identified our Easy Single-ClickSingle-Click Purchase Mechanism as the most popular aspect of the Store. With over 32% of downloads paid for, App Central is also emerging as the preferred destination for existing and upcoming developers in India and the world over"

There are currently over 71,000 apps in the Airtel App Central, which is the highest in India according to the operator. These are divided into 25 different categories including social networking, games, news, business, sports, travel, education and health. Also, more than 780 devices are supported at present as against 550 supported initially during the launch of the store. Now, while this may be very far off from the achievements of Apple's App Store, every small step counts and also it will be like comparing apples to oranges.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Four national teams finished the speech on the FIFA World Cup



Four national teams finished the speech on the FIFA World Cup. Greece, Nigeria, France, South Africa

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dell Launches Inspiron R Laptop




Dell has introduced three Inspiron R laptops that provide easy access to photos, videos, and most commonly used applications.

The computer maker's latest notebooks include 14-, 15-, and 17-inch versions. All three include the Dell Dock, an application that gives users the option of placing their favorite content and applications at the top of the screen for quick access.

he laptops have curved edges and are available in four colors, each with chrome accents. The entertainment focus of the notebooks, along with the stylish design, is meant to appeal to students and people looking for a family PC.

The Inspiron Rs are available with the Intel Wireless Display feature as an option. The technology makes it possible to stream wirelessly what appears on the laptop display to a high-definition TV that also supports the Intel product.

Other options include Microsoft Office 2010 and a 1-GB graphics processor from Advanced Micro Devices' ATI unit. Buyers can also choose between an Intel Core i3 and Core i5 mobile processor.

Other options include up to a 640-GB hard disk drive and 8 GB of DDR3 system memory. The two larger models have a dedicated 10-key number pad. All the systems are configured to take advantage of Dell's online backup service, called DataSafeOnline.

Inspiron R laptops, released Monday, ship with Windows 7 and have a starting price of $449.

The low price point of the Inspiron R reflects Dell's continued focus on low-cost PCs for consumers and business. The company is also moving beyond the PC into new markets, such as smartphones and tablet-like computers.

Gaza decision to ensure security



PM says move negates Hamas propaganda, warns against next flotillas.

The decision to ease the civilian restrictions on the Gaza Strip enables Israel to focus on security-related issues, including the smuggling of weapons into

Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during an address to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) on Monday.

“The cabinet decision to lift the civilian blockade on Gaza and tighten the security blockade is the right decision for Israel, because it negates Hamas propaganda’s main claim,” the prime minister said.

He added that the move would enable Israel and its “friends around the world” to “address our significant demands in the security department.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself by preventing Hamas and Hizbullah – through which, he said, Iran “tries to keep Israel in its hold” – from acquiring weapons with which to attack Israel. “The cabinet decision is aimed at this, at tightening the security blockade,” he said.

The prime minister then warned that Israel was about to contend with more flotillas aiming to break the blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, asserting that Iran and Hizbullah were behind the latest such initiatives.

Also on Monday, Netanyahu told ministers and MKs that his security personnel had forbidden him from driving on Highway 443, a section of which was recently opened to Palestinian traffic.

Australian Alcohol Guidelines Confusing Pregnant Women




Inconsistent guidelines for low alcohol intake or abstinence during pregnancy are confusing for pregnant women and have little effect on women’s alcohol intake during pregnancy, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ms Jennifer Powers, statistician at the University of Newcastle, NSW, and co-authors analysed data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health from women aged 22-33 years who were pregnant before October 2001, when guidelines recommended zero alcohol, or who were first pregnant after October 2001, when guidelines recommended low alcohol intake.

They found that women’s alcohol intake prior to pregnancy was the strongest determinant of alcohol intake during pregnancy, whereas guidelines for low alcohol intake or abstinence had little effect.

“Relative to women who did not drink before pregnancy, women who drank any amount of alcohol before pregnancy were about five times less likely to drink no alcohol during pregnancy,” Ms Powers said.

“Women who drank moderate or high amounts of alcohol before pregnancy were 1.5 times less likely to drink low amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.”

The study also found that about 80 per cent of women consumed alcohol during pregnancy under zero and low alcohol guidelines.

Ms Powers said the inconsistency of Australian alcohol guidelines was confusing for pregnant women and health practitioners, and there was an overwhelming need for research to clearly establish the risks associated with different levels of alcohol intake during pregnancy.

“The effects of low to moderate alcohol intake on the unborn child are unclear, which leaves most pregnant women in a “no-person’s-land” where guidelines are not backed up by clear consequences and the guidelines themselves are poorly communicated,” she said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Portugal 7-0 North Korea




A merciless Portugal tore North Korea to shreds in a 7-0 rout on Monday, putting them within reach of the knockout rounds and eliminating the Asian nation from the World Cup.

With Brazil already qualified from Group G, Portugal now have four points to Ivory Coast's one, leaving Didier Drogba's team with only an outside chance of making the round of 16.

North Korea have lost both their games and will head home after their last match against the Africans.

A Raul Meireles strike put Portugal in front with the Porto midfielder pouncing in the 29th minute. But it wasn't all one-way traffic, with North Korea creating their own chances as they powered forward on the counter-attack.

The game changed though with three quick second-half goals from Simao, Hugo Almeida and Tiago that left North Korea shellshocked before substitute Liedson banged in the fifth.

Captain Cristiano Ronaldo got the sixth, ending his two-year international goal drought, before Tiago made it seven.

North Korean coach Kim Jong Hun took responsibility for their collapse.

"In today's match, our players I think played to their full potential but tactically speaking it fell apart and we could not block their attacks and that's why they scored so many goals," he said.

"As a coach, it was my fault for not playing the right strategy.

"As they game went on, Portugal became more aggressive and after we conceded the first goal, the desire and wish to equalise led to my team's collapse."

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Ivory Coast, with Tiago replacing the injured Deco and Simao, Almeida and Miguel in for Danny, Liedson and Paulo Ferreira.

The revamped team started brightly on a slippery pitch after persistent rain.

Ronaldo signalled his intentions by unleashing a long-range strike on two minutes that goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk did well to collect.

Ricardo Carvalho also had an early chance, rattling the post with a header, as Portugal set about their task with vigour.

The opportunities were coming thick and fast as Portugal used wingers Simao on the right and Ronaldo on the left effectively

North Korea finally got a shot at goal on 10 minutes with defender Cha Jong-Hyok whipping a 30 yard piledriver just past the upright.

As the rain returned, the Koreans were starting to look handy and far more aggressive than when they lost 2-1 to Brazil, surging forward to threaten the Portgual goal.

The Cholima were certainly not intimidated and could have taken a shock lead when captain Hong Yong-Jo's shot was parried by Eduardo, only for Mun In-Guk to head the rebound over the bar.

The Portuguese came out after the break pushing hard for the second goal which inevitably came on 53 minutes with Meireles slicing open the Korean defence with a pass to Athletic Madrid's Simao who slotted the ball past Ri.

North Korea were in disarray and let their guard down again three minutes later when Fabio Coentrao beat his man on the left and sent a lovely cross to Hugo Almeida who made no mistake with a powerful header.

Portugal were rampant and the fourth goal came soon after when Ronaldo picked out Tiago in the box and he clinically side-footed home before Liedson volleyed in the fifth with nine minutes left.

Ronaldo made the most of a lucky bobble to get the sixth in the 87th minute before Tiago rubbed salt in the Korean wounds with a late deft header.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Senate approves home tax credit extension

The Senate on Wednesday approved a plan to give homebuyers an extra three months to finish qualifying for federal tax incentives that boosted home sales this spring.

The move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give buyers until Sept. 30 to complete their purchases and qualify for tax credits of up to $8,000. Under the current terms, buyers had until April 30 to get a signed sales contract and until June 30 to complete the sale.

The proposal, approved by a 60-37 vote, would only allow people who already have signed contracts to finish at the later date. About 180,000 homebuyers who already signed purchase agreements would otherwise miss the deadline.

Reid, D-Nev., added the proposal to a bill extending jobless benefits through the end of November. Nevada has the nation's highest foreclosure rate, and Reid is facing a tough re-election campaign.

The Realtors group has been pushing hard in Congress for the extension. Mortgage lenders, the trade group says, have been swamped with borrowers trying to get approved by the end of the month. Many potential borrowers are unlikely to make the deadline.

"If Congress fails to act promptly, then prospective homebuyers might not get the benefit of the homebuyer tax credit, even though they have completed contracts," the Realtors said a a letter to lawmakers.

First-time buyers were eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000. Current owners who bought and moved into another home could qualify for a credit of up to $6,500.

The $140 million cost of the measure would be financed by denying businesses the ability to deduct from their taxes punitive damages paid when losing lawsuits or judgments.

Sarah McLachlan resurfaces with new album, tour

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan is back with her first album of original music in seven years, "Laws of Illusion," and plans to hit the road again with other female musicians.

McLachlan, recently divorced and with two young daughters, said she was ready to focus again on her career and resurrect the Lilith Fair tour, an all-female traveling concert series she helped found in 1997 which ran for three consecutive summers.

"I talked to my two managers and my agent who are my partners, and every year we get together and talk about Lilith, and reminisce, and it was always like 'ugh, too much work'," McLachlan, 42, told Reuters Television.

"Then last year we got together, and we started talking about it, and we said 'you know, we could do this again, we could give it the energy that it needs, we have the time on our hands to do it, and we could make it something even more fabulous than it was last time'."

Grammy-winning McLachlan said she founded the original tour because she became fed up with the perception that female artists could not be enough of a draw for concertgoers.

She proved them wrong in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and hopes to do the same with the 2010 incarnation.

The new tour will feature a wide array of artists, from hip hop stars like Rihanna, Queen Latifah, and Mary J. Blige, to Lilith Fair veterans Sheryl Crow and Emmylou Harris, to new acts and classics like country music queen Loretta Lynn.

"There's a wealth of great new artists out there as well as a lot of the ones who were there last time to draw from," she said.

Stepping back onto the stage with her first studio album in seven years has been a breeze for McLachlan, who returns with a mixed collection of songs that reveal a playful and carefree woman that fans might not recognize immediately.

Her sixth album "Wintersong" was released in 2006 but that was a mixture of Christmas songs rather than her own material.

"I sort of feel like after seven years, I'm stepping out and revealing myself again," said McLachlan.

Her new album, out on June 15, has produced her new single "Loving You Is Easy."

"It just felt like the right track to go with because I am really happy, and I feel strong, and I feel like I want to grab life by the you know what's and go for it," she said.

"It's happy, and people say 'oh it's a really happy song, I miss the sad Sarah,' and I say 'well don't worry honey, it's still there'," she added .

McLachlan said she was happy to take a break from the music industry when she did, citing the sexualized, highly marketed corporate pop music trends of recent years.

"Music is always very cyclical, and I remember, it felt like the door got slammed shut, and it felt like there was this huge swell of boy-bands and girl-bands, and sort of prefabricated bubblegum pop, very heavy in marketing and sexuality," she said.

"I make the music I make, and I'm very grateful, and it's a luxurious position for me to be in, where I don't have to follow any trends. I don't have to write a song because it has to live in a certain format," she said.

The Lilith Fair tour kicks off in Calgary on June 27 and will head to 18 cities across North America before concluding on August 16 in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top seed Justine Henin wins on return to grass




Justine Henin's first match on grass since 2007 ended with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Angelique Kerber in the Unicef Open at 's-Hertogenbosch in Holland.

The 28-year-old Belgian, who ended a two-year retirement earlier this year, is the top seed for the event and easily defeated the unseeded German.

Another former world number one, Ana Ivanovic, overcame a slow start to oust Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 4-6 6-0 6-1.

The 22-year-old, unseeded for the tournament, won in one hour 12 minutes.

Henin has enjoyed previous success in this event, winning in 2001 and finishing runner-up two years later.

Her last appearance on grass was in the Wimbledon semi-finals of 2007 when she was beaten in three sets by Marion Bartoli.

Meanwhile in the men's event Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands defeated compatriot and sixth seed Thiemo de Bakker 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) and Belgian Xavier Malisse beat American lucky loser Rajeev Ram 6-3 6-2.

Asian captains kickstart World Cup preparations

The captains of the four countries participating in the Asia Cup, which begins in Dambulla on Tuesday, have said the tournament is ideal for their World Cup preparations, in terms of identifying the right blend of youth and experience and building confidence.

Unlike the last edition in Pakistan in 2008, this one features only the four Test-playing Asian nations and no Associates, making it more competitive. India and Sri Lanka have bolstered their squads with senior players, after resting them for the tour of Zimbabwe which just concluded.

Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain who was rested for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, hoped his team would take inspiration from being the defending champions in the 2008 tournament.

"The Asia Cup (2008) final was won by two exceptional performances, one was Sanath Jayasuriya's freakish hundred when we were about 60-4, and when we were defending a score of 274, Ajantha Mendis came and took 6 for 13," Sangakkara said. "Today, we don't have either of them in our squad but that gives the opportunity for the rest of the players.

"In light of the World Cup being a few months away this tournament is about building confidence and building a team towards the World Cup."

Following their disappointing performance in Zimbabwe, where they failed to qualify for the final of the tri-series, India will start the tournament under pressure. However, their captain MS Dhoni said it was a scenario his team wasn't unfamiliar with.

"We've been in situations like this more than once," Dhoni said. "We have had to cope with pressure hundreds of times. We are fresh and most of the guys have got decent time off cricket and most of the senior guys were rested for the Zimbabwe tour.

"Every tournament you play is as important as the World Cup. It's important to focus on the present. The World Cup is still ten months away so we'll concentrate on this tournament which is a big one considering the teams that are participating are the big ones from the subcontinent."

His views were shared by Pakistan's Shahid Afridi, who leads his team in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka on Tuesday. "It is a preparation for the World Cup as well," Afridi said. "Tomorrow's game is very important. We are playing against Sri Lanka which is a good team and full of talent."

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan backed his team to perform better in the one-dayers than they did in the Tests in England, where they lost 2-0. "We have been playing very good cricket, although we didn't finish well in England in the Tests," Shakib said. "We have been playing non-stop for the last 12 months. The boys are really looking forward to this tournament. It is very important for us. We know it's a very difficult task but not impossible. On our day we can beat any side."

Syed Ashraful Haq, Asian Cricket Council secretary, praised the Pakistan and Bangladesh Cricket Boards for altering their international schedules to participate in the Asia Cup. Pakistan had postponed their tour of England by about ten days and Bangladesh had agreed to split their tour of England.

Canada wins key fight against bank tax




Canada has won a key fight in its high-profile international campaign against a global bank tax as G20 finance ministers Saturday approved a plan that allows countries to manage the issue as they see fit.

Proponents of such a tax ­ including the United States and Europe ­ are free to go it alone, but the new plan allows the rest of the G20 to avoid the controversial idea and find other ways to reduce banking risks.

“The majority of the countries in the G20 do not support an ex ante bank tax, that is clear,” Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said at a news conference following a two-day meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers.

“At the end of the day, different countries will chose different ways of reaching the goal [that banks should pay for government interventions] but there is no agreement to proceed with an ex ante bank tax,” he said.

In their final communiqué, G20 finance ministers and central bankers said the financial sector must make a “fair and substantial” contribution to paying for any of the burdens associated with government intervention.

However, the statement then goes on to include wording that will allow most G20 members to avoid a bank tax, should they choose. For instance, the requirement for banks to pay back government aid is limited to those countries that actually bailed out their banks. There is also wording allowing countries to choose from a “range” of policy options in this area that take into account their own individual circumstances.

Europe and the United States are the main proponents of a bank tax – partly to recoup taxpayers’ money used to bail out banks during the recession. But the European Union and the United States have also argued that it is in the interests of all G20 countries to create a fund via a global bank tax so that governments aren’t on the hook again to cover the huge costs of protecting vulnerable banks in a downturn.

Japan’s Deputy Finance Minister Naoki Minezaki and Australian Finance Minister Wayne Swann also spoke out publicly against the tax here this weekend. The G20 leaders will receive a second International Monetary Fund report on the proposal when they meet in Toronto, but it is clear there will be no broad agreement for joint action on a bank levy.

The decision to make the bank tax voluntary for G20 members is essentially what Canada, through Mr. Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have argued in recent weeks as the two men blitzed key the world for face-to-face meetings with key G20 members including the E.U., China and India.

On the complex issue of banking reforms – including a common definition for high-quality capital and the percentage of capital banks should have on hand – the G20 has agreed that a plan will be announced in November when leaders meet in Seoul.

Banks generally resist higher capital requirements because it cuts into profits. But many G20 leaders say sorting out this issue is the most important way governments can prevent the kind of risky practices that were at the root of the financial meltdown.

Agreement is proving a challenge however because the United States, Europe and Asia currently have dramatically different rules on what qualifies as Tier 1 capital and how banks can leverage money.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the G20 is focused on a finding agreement in time for the November meeting of G20 leaders in Seoul in November.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Euro to hit dollar parity in 2011: Analyst



The euro is set to sink to parity with the dollar in 2011 because of the slow pace of economic recovery in Europe, if it has not broken up by then, a consultancy predicted on Friday.

In a quarterly report on global economic prospects the London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) forecast that the European single currency would fall to parity against the US greenback next year.

The CEBR predicts that the Federal Reserve Bank will start to raise US interest rates in late 2010 in response to strengthening growth.

In contrast, it says, the European Central Bank "will remain hamstrung by the weakness of the European economy and will be forced to hold rates down."

CEBR chief executive Douglas McWilliams said the report was prepared on the assumption that the embattled euro would still exist a year from now, but he was pessimistic about the long-term prospects for the currency.

"It is almost inevitable that the euro will break up at some point," McWilliams said. "It could be soon, it might be in five to 10 years time." "In the meantime, the one certainty is that the euro will be weak," McWilliams said.

"It has already fallen by 30 cents against the dollar this year and will probably fall the final 20 cents to break parity when it becomes clear that US rates are about to rise while euro rates will be held down because of the weakness of the economy."

Report author Charles Davis said the global recovery was "surprisingly robust in the emerging markets while clear risks remain in the advanced economies," highlighting two main concerns.

"Overheating in the emerging markets will require monetary policy tightening and the fear that in some of the weaker economies in the Western world that growth will slow even further when fiscal stimuli are removed."

Eurozone haunts the market again

The domino effect of the Eurozone crisis continued to haunt Dalal Street for the second consecutive day.

On Tuesday, the Indian markets saw a rise in the first half of the trade but eventually ended the session in the red with the BSE sensex down nearly 1%, or 164 points, at 16,617. On the NSE, the nifty lost 47 points to close below the psychologically important 5K mark again, at 4,987.

For the last few days Eurozone debt worries and fuel price hike in the domestic front dominated investor sentiments. Investors are now pinning their hopes on a good monsoon which may help stabilise the market situation to a certain extent, market players said.

"The day's weakness late in the session proved again that there is no conviction among investors on Dalal Street,'' said a head of a local investment advisory firm. So for Wednesday, cautious market players are expecting another volatile session with a southward bias.

Foreign funds continued to sell with the BSE data showing a net outflow of Rs 243 crore.

Domestic funds, however, remained net buyers at Rs 41 crore. In Tuesday's market, only FMCG stocks, considered one of the defensive sectors in case of any economic weakness, showed an upmove. On the other hand, real estate, metals and telecom stocks were badly hit.

Report: Germany 4-0 Australia



Germans hit ground running Germany got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start with a dominating display as they won 4-0 against 10-man Australia in Durban.

With a young squad and without injured Michael Ballack, the Germans went on a scoring rampage.

Lukas Podolski opened their account in the eighth minute before veteran Miroslav Klose doubled the lead before the half-hour mark.

Cheered by the numerous green and gold fans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Socceroos showed more determination after the re-start but saw their challenge take a fatal hit when Tim Cahill was shown a straight red card in the 56th minute following a foul on Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Thomas Muller added Germany's third in the 68th minute before substitute Cacau got an easy tap-in less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

The result lifted Joachim Low's side top of Group D alongside Ghana, who beat Serbia 1-0 earlier in the day.

The Germans, who had not lost a group game since 1994, made Australia pay for their sloppy defending.

Low handed out-of-form Klose the lone striker's role and it proved a wise move.

The men from Down Under had the better of the opening stages and came close to taking the lead in the third minute.

During a scramble in the area, Richard Garcia's close-range shot was blocked by Philipp Lahm.

The Germans responded shortly after, with an unmarked Klose surging inside the area and hitting a right-footed strike towards the centre of goal which the Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer parried away.

Podolski made no mistake seconds later.

He got behind Muller's pull back from the right and drove the ball in from 15 yards.

Schwarzer managed to get a touch on the ball but it went in.

Jason Culina could have restored parity in the 17th minute but he nodded high from Brett Emerton's cross.

Midway through the first half, Klose missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0.

The veteran got behind Podolski's cross and struck the ball wide from the heart of the area.

Klose made amends shortly after as he extended his team's lead in the 26th minute after sloppy defending by Australia.

Schwarzer came off his line and got to Klose just as the striker headed home from Lahm's cross from the right.

On the half-hour mark, captain Lucas Neill managed to clear Mesut Ozil's goalbound shot with Schwarzer already beaten.

Germany's Sami Khedira headed high over the crossbar as Germany went into the break after a near-perfect first half.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek brought in Brett Holman at half time in the hope of sparking his team into life.

Holman tried to make an immediate impact but his diagonal shot went wide of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's far post.

Australia's hopes then nose-dived when Cahill was shown a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Schweinsteiger.

With one man short, Australia struggled to stop Germany's advances and conceded shortly after the hour mark.

Muller got away from his marker before lashing home a shot in off the post.

Australia had little time to react as Germany struck again two minutes later.

Ozil surged down the left and cut it back for the Brazilian-born striker to hit it past Schwarzer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Highlights: South Africa 1-1 Mexico



Marquez dampens South Africa party Rafael Marquez denied hosts South Africa a dream start to the World Cup with his goal 11 minutes from time earning Mexico a deserved 1-1 draw at Soccer City.

After struggling through the first half, the home side came out firing after the break and took the lead through Siphiwe Tshabalala.

But after missing plenty of chances to build on their advantage, they saw their lead cancelled out by the Barcelona defender.

Katlego Mphela could have snatched victory at the death, but his strike found the base of the post as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

After an entertaining opening ceremony in Johannesburg, Bafana Bafana failed to make the most of their advantage, much to the disappointment of the 85,000 crowd.

The visitors almost stunned their hosts inside the first 120 seconds, but were thwarted by a last-ditch block by Aaron Mokoena.

It came after Paul Aguilar's cross from the right was not convincingly cleared by Itumeleng Khune and Giovani dos Santos' shot was repelled by the South Africa captain with an empty net gaping.

Steven Pienaar sent South Africa's only real early chance - a 25-yard free-kick - disappointingly over, while Efrain Juarez became the first player to be booked at the World Cup for trying to slow down play.

Dos Santos again came close when a quick counter-attack resulted in the Galatasaray forward striking a rising shot narrowly wide.

There was a slightly nervy moment for Mexico after 22 minutes when Oscar Perez fumbled and then regathered Pienaar's cross.

Fortunately for the goalkeeper, there were no attacking players close enough to capitalise.

Khune continued to be kept busy and did well to keep out Guillermo Franco after the former West Ham striker controlled well in the area only to see his shot blocked.

Bongani Khumalo then diverted another Dos Santos shot away for a corner, before there was a lucky off-side escape when Khune flapped at a corner - but came so far he played Carlos Vela offside as the Arsenal forward latched on to a flick-on and tapped in.

The home side finally came out of their shell in the closing moments of the half - Mphela failing to connect with Tshabalala's well-floated cross and Kagisho Dikgacoi heading a corner wide.

Lucas Thwala, who was stretched down the left in the opening 45 minutes, was replaced by Tsepo Masilela at half time as Carlos Alberto Parreira looked to shore up in defence.

But it was in attack where they prospered, taking the lead through a fine Tshabalala effort after 55 minutes.

The Kaizer Chiefs midfielder was put through on the left by an excellent ball from Teko Modise and unleashed a powerful cross-goal shot that gave Perez no chance.

Mexican coach Javier Aguirre responded by throwing on Andres Guardado for Aguilar.

It was Dos Santos, though, who continued to torment the home defence and he again drew a fine save from Khune with a strike from the right that was turned away for a corner.

The home side were clearly lifted by the goal and Modise should have doubled the advantage after the hour mark when Mphela's shot was deflected into his path six yards out - but he struck his effort wide.

Veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco was thrown into the mix in place of Vela, but again it was the home side through Modise who engineered a good chance.

However, he took too long to pull the trigger and Francisco Rodriguez cleared away the danger.

Javier Hernandez also entered the fray but it was another substitute that set up the equaliser - Guardado's cross from the left looping over the head of Mokoena and Marquez took a touch before firing in.

Mphela showed good pace minutes from time when he outpaced Rodriguez, but his shot could not beat the post.

Friday, June 11, 2010

10 must-see group stage matches



Brazil vs. Ivory Coast, June 20, 2:30 p.m.
England vs.United States, June 12, 2:30 p.m.
South Africa vs. Mexico, June 11, 10:00 a.m.
Portugal vs. Brazil, June 25, 10:00 a.m.
Serbia vs. Germany, June 13, 10:00 a.m.
Cameroon vs. Netherlands, June 24, 2:30 p.m.
Ivory Coast vs. Portugal, June 15, 10:00 a.m.
Nigeria vs. Argentina, June 12, 10:00 a.m.
Paraguay vs. Italy, June 14, 2:30 p.m.
Chile vs. Spain, June 25, 2:30 p.m. ET

10 teams who can win the World Cup



Spain

Spain is the most talented team in the world. That's just the way it is. Cesc Fabregas comes off the bench, for crying out loud. There is not a single weakness in the squad. Iker Casillas in net is one of the world's three best 'keepers, maybe the best. Pique, Puyol and Sergio Ramos lead an incredibly stingy defense. Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso and Busquets are dynamic in the midfield. Torres and Villa are electric playing off each other up top. If the team with the most talent wins, Spain will be hoisting its first ever World Cup trophy next month.

Brazil

Normally, Brazil has more playmakers than can take the field, but defense and 'keeper are question marks. Not this year. Julio Cesar (who, admittedly, has been battling a back injury) is the most in-form goalkeeper in the world, and Lucio and Maicon are the backbone of possibly the strongest defensive unit in the tournament (with a nod to Serbia as a fellow vote-getter). The midfield and attacking corps will have their usual flair and creativity, with a supposedly healthy Kaka running the show in the middle. Title No. 6 is a very real possibility.

Netherlands

From the back line on up, Holland is as dangerous as any team in the tournament. Arjen Robben, if the leg injury he picked up last week isn't serious, is one of the most explosive players in the world off the right wing. Wesley Sneijder is world class in the midfield, as is Rafael Van der Vaart. Van Bommel and Van Bronckhorst provide strength and leadership in their respective defensive roles, while Robin Van Persie has a nose for goal up top. There are two question marks. The first is in net, where the Dutch will rely on Maarten Stekelenburg, since Edwin Van der Sar has retired from international play. The other is the intangibles. The Dutch always bring a strong squad to the World Cup, but they usually disappoint. Runners-up is as well they've ever done, and they haven't reached the finals in 32 years.

England

England are strong, deep and experienced. If the country is going to win a World Cup in the next decade, this is the year. Many of the Three Lions' best players (Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, both Coles) are in their prime, and the young players coming up behind them are not as talented. Wayne Rooney is the game-changer up top, and he will be the key for England. If he shows his midseason form from this past club year, England can hang with anyone. If he's in a rut, they could struggle to score. The biggest questions will be in central defense, where Ledley King must try to replace injured captain Rio Ferdinad, and in net, where David James has the most experience, but he's also earned the nickname Calamity James. Rob Green could end up starting over James.

Argentina

The goal-scoring potential of this Argentina squad borders on being unfair. Messi, Higuain, Milito, Tevez, Aguero, di Maria. It's crazy. All six of these guys would start on practically any other team, but coach Diego Maradona will have to do some serious juggling to find playing time for all of them. The biggest weakness for Los Albicelestes will be on the back line and in net. Inexperience on the international stage could lead to some sloppy goals allowed. That being said, a 4-3 win is still a win.

Germany

Perhaps because so many of their players are concentrated on just a few club teams, the Germans have an unparalleled ability to play together as a team. It's the classic case of the whole being greater than the sums of its parts. That's why the Germans are in a better position to handle key injuries than other nations. Despite captain Michael Ballack and No. 1 'keeper Rene Adler being ruled out, Germany is still the favorite to top a highly competitive Group D. And there is still plenty of talent on the roster -- Lahm, Boateng, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Podolski, Klose, just to name a few. If Germany can win Group D, a possible Round of 16 matchup with the Americans awaits.

Italy

The defending World Cup champs have a real chance to repeat, but they'll have to hope experience counts as this version of the Azzurri is an aging bunch. Think about these players who are all over 30: Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Camoranesi, Gattuso and Iaquinta. That's not to say those players are no longer world class; many of them still are. But they may get worn down as the tournament goes on. If Italy is going to defend its title, they will need some of their younger stars to emerge on the international stage. We're talking about Chiellini, De Rossi, Gilardino and Pazzini. If that happens, we could be in for a repeat.

France

In terms of pure individual talent, there are few teams in the world that can match up with France. The squad has stars all over the pitch: Lloris in net, Evra on defense, Ribery and Gourcuff in the midfield, Anelka at striker. But this version of Les Bleus has problems. France barely qualified for the World Cup, needing the referee to turn a blind eye on Thierry Henry's handball to help them squeak past Ireland. On Friday, the French lost to China, 1-0, in a warmup match. If the team can pull together as they have in World Cups past, there's no reason they can't make a deep run. If the trend that they started in qualifying continues, they won't make it out of an unpredictable Group A.

Ivory Coast

The key here, of course, is Didier Drogba's health. With just a week to go until Cote d'Ivoire's first game, it remains unclear whether the great striker will be able to play, and if he can, how effective he will be. With a healthy Drogba, the Ivorians are a threat to not only get out of the Group of Death, but to advance deep into the tournament. Without him, they will be hard-pressed to finish ahead of Portugal in the brutal Group D. Rarely in the history of this event have the hopes of one nation rested so squarely on one man.

Portugal

Portugal's strength is on the wings, where they have one of the world's best players in Cristiano Ronaldo. The return of a healthy Pepe helps plug a hole, and Carvalho provides key defensive leadership. This is not a team without flaws, by any stretch. And with Brazil and Ivory Coast in their group, there's no guarantee Portugal makes it out of group play. But the individual creativity in the midfield is undeniable for the Iberians, and no one will want to play them in the knockout round, knowing a few moments of brilliance from Ronaldo is all they need.

Moms' full-time work tied to childhood obesity

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The growing number of full-time working moms in the past few decades could be one of the factors contributing to the concurrent rise in childhood obesity, new research hints.

In a study of more than 8,500 UK adults followed since their birth in 1958, researchers found that the study participants' young children were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than they themselves had been back in the 1960s.

When the researchers looked at factors that could be associated with the trend, they found that mothers' full-time employment, which was more common in the younger generation, appeared to be one.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, do not prove that moms' full-time work, per se, contributes to the risk of childhood obesity.

One possibility, according to the researchers, is that children of full-time working moms have fewer family meals or less-healthy diets in general.

So the trend in mothers' employment over the past few decades may be one of the variables contributing to a general erosion in children's diets; the explosion in sugary junk foods on the market, food advertising aimed at kids, and the increasing availability of high- fat, high-sugar fare in schools are among the other factors that have been blamed.

The current study lacked information on the children's diets and exercise habits, so it is not known whether kids of working moms did in fact have poorer-quality diets or were less active.

For the study, Dr. Leah Li and colleagues at the University College London analyzed data from a project that has followed a large group of Britons since their birth in 1958. They focused on 8,552 participants who, in 1991, had a total of 1,889 children between the ages of 4 and 9.

Overall, the children were more likely to be overweight or obese than their parents had been back in 1965: 12 percent of boys were overweight or obese, versus 8 percent of their fathers in childhood; and 18 percent of girls were heavy, versus of 11 percent in their mothers' generation.

Li's team found that both parents' current weight and mothers' employment status were associated with the risk of their children being overweight.

Children of mothers who worked full-time were 48 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than children of non-working mothers. That was with factors such as socioeconomics, parents' weight and breastfeeding (which some studies have linked to a lower risk of childhood obesity) taken into account.

When parents were obese, the odds of the child being overweight were three to six times greater than when parents were normal-weight.

Rates of both parental obesity and full-time work among mothers increased between the two generations. In 1991, 60 percent of mothers worked, including 15 percent who were full-time; that compared with 45 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 1965.

Similarly, about 12 percent of parents were obese in 1991, versus 5 to 7 percent of the first generation's parents in 1965.

So it's possible, according to Li and her colleagues, that both factors (parents' weight, in particular) contributed to the intergeneration increase in childhood weight.

However, even if mothers' employment is a factor in the rise of childhood obesity, it would only account for a small portion of that increase, the current findings suggest.

Based on their data, the researchers estimate that in 1991, less than 8 percent of cases of childhood overweight or obesity could be attributable to mothers' employment.

In general, experts believe that a complex mix of societal factors -- from shifts in eating habits, to greater reliance on cars and increasing hours logged in front of the TV or computer -- has been behind the rise in childhood weight problems in recent decades.

When Mom Is Abused, Child's Obesity Risk May Rise

TUESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Children of abused women are at increased risk of being obese by age 5, new research suggests.

The study included almost 1,600 children born between 1998 and 2000. Their mothers were interviewed when the children were born and again after one-, three- and five years of age. Height and weight measurements were taken when the children were 3 and 5 years old.

Some form of intimate partner violence was reported by more than 49 percent of the women and 16.5 percent of the children were obese by age 5, the researchers found. Children whose mothers were victims of abuse were more likely to be obese by age 5 than children of mothers who didn't experience such violence. The link between obesity and an abused mother was stronger in girls than in boys, and also among children whose mothers said they lived in unsafe neighborhoods.

There may be a number of reasons for this association, the study authors noted in their report, which is published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"First, if intimate partner violence influences maternal responsiveness to the socioemotional needs of the child, then feeding practices may be influenced," wrote Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues. "Second, witnessing family violence may be associated with emotional distress and emotion-focused coping using food to self-soothe and address negative emotions."

It's also possible that early-childhood disruption of the body's neuroendocrine system, which affects hormones and the nervous system, could increase the risk for disordered eating and changes in how the body stores and distributes fat, the study authors suggested.

"Medical and public health practitioners must consider the impact of family violence on obesity risk when designing and implementing primary obesity prevention interventions," the researchers concluded.

"Interventions to prevent intimate partner violence, particularly those aimed at educating adolescents about healthy relationships prior to childbearing, may play a crucial role in prevention of early childhood obesity. Moreover, interventions aimed at improving neighborhood safety may have a benefit on reducing obesity risk, even among those exposed to family violence," the authors wrote.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about domestic violence.


SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 7, 2010

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Australia pull out of 2018 WC bid

Australia bowed to the inevitable by pulling the plug on its bid for the 2018 World Cup.

But the good news is Australia remains a strong chance to host the 2022 World Cup, with many observers painting it as a two-horse race between Australia and the United States.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) boss Frank Lowy made the about-face and publicly dropped the 2018 bid just a day after he had insisted the 2018 and 2022 bids were both live.

This was despite a controversial statement from his Asian confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam that Asia was throwing its support behind Europe for 2018.

But Lowy said on Thursday (Friday AEST) that Australia had now decided to leave the 2018 field to European contenders.

The football world generally had long tipped Europe for the 2018 cup, as it would be unlikely to miss hosting three tournaments since Germany 2006.

"We have been in discussion with FIFA for months and it is that trusting relationship that has caused us to focus on 2022," Lowy said in a statement.

Australia's decision to withdraw its candidacy leaves the Holland-Belgium, Spain-Portugal joint bids as well as the United States, England and Russia as the 2018 contenders.

For the 2022 tournament, Australia will compete with Qatar, USA, Japan and South Korea.

FIFA welcomed Australia's move, which followed months of close dialogue.

"The FFA have displayed an exemplary level of solidarity with Europe, and were among the very first to enter into an open and constructive dialogue with me after it became apparent there was a growing movement to stage the 2018 World Cup in Europe," said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

The FFA gesture was "much appreciated" by FIFA's leadership, he said.

A day earlier, Lowy said he was unconcerned by Bin Hammam's support for Europe.

"Who cares? So he's not supporting us for 2018 but he's supporting us for 2022," Lowy said.

"This is the AFC's choice. We are bidding for both."

That is no longer the case, and Australia can now concentrate on mounting a serious challenge for 2022 alone.