Sunday, September 11, 2011

Man Utd's Tom Cleverley faces month out with ligament damage

Tom Cleverley (left) was injured at Bolton Cleverley misses England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro in October
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley will be out for a month after suffering ligament damage in his foot during Saturday's 5-0 win at Bolton.
United feared the 22-year-old had sustained a fracture in a tackle by Bolton captain Kevin Davies.
That could have left Cleverley facing several months out, but a scan on Sunday revealed only ligament damage.
"It was unfortunate," Ferguson told BBC Sport of the injury. "We expected it, it was a bad tackle."
Cleverley was replaced in the first half of the victory and left the ground in a protective boot.
Click to play
Ferguson praises Man Utd strikers
Davies was not cautioned for the incident but shortly afterwards picked up his 100th Premier League booking after a challenge on Patrice Evra.
The injury means Cleverley will miss England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro in October in addition to club matches.
He was not the only United player to sustain an injury at the Reebok Stadium and Ferguson said he would assess his squad before they travel to Portugal for their Champions League tie against Benfica on Wednesday.

I don't think it was malicious, I just think it's very clumsy. He doesn't get a yellow card which I think he should have. Yes, Kevin is a physical player and a hard player at times, but I don't think he actually goes out to hurt people
BBC pundit Alan Shearer on Match of the Day
"Jonny Evans got a knee in the hip and it's a bit tender, Patrice Evra got a knock on the knee," added the Scot.
Despite the injuries, Ferguson's side went on to demolish Bolton to maintain their early-season form - they have scored 18 goals in four games and top the Premier League table ahead of rivals Manchester City.
Wayne Rooney notched his second hat-trick in succession, while Javier Hernandez scored twice on his first start this term, as United went 3-0 up in 25 minutes to put the game out of the hosts' reach.
Ferguson was pleased to see the pair renew their strike partnership.
"Our counter-attack with pace up front caused them a lot of bother and it was a good start, a great start in any game," Ferguson added.
"Wayne is in great form at the moment, he is absolutely 100% fit and looking very sharp. Him and Chicharito [Hernandez] were just a handful for the opponents today.
Click to play
Rooney delights in 'deserved win'
"Hernandez's first goal was absolutely fantastic, his movement and speed to get to the cross was absolutely brilliant, the kind of run that we know he's so good at and he's a real menace to defenders."
Rooney's form - he has scored 10 goals this season, including two strikes for England - has been put down to a rest over the summer.
But Ferguson dismissed that notion, saying his performances were because of a new maturity.
"He's a fit lad, he's a strong lad and he could play a game every day," Ferguson explained.
"I think he's starting to mature now. He's 25 years of age and he's in the years I always feel where a player gets better timing, better authority and he's in better control of situations now."

Sunday football

Sunday football
Peter Odemwinge
Fulham take on Blackburn in a clash of the Premier League's bottom two after West Brom see off Norwich in Sunday's early top flight game, Hibs draw with Aberdeen in the SPL and Birmingham beat Millwall in the Championship.

BBC Sport's round-up of the best reaction from Saturday's matches in the Premier League.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Six arrested after fan dies at Wembley

Police have arrested six men after a man died outside Wembley Stadium on Tuesday before a Euro 2012 qualifying match.
Police have arrested six men after a man died outside Wembley Stadium on Tuesday before a Euro 2012 qualifying match.

(CNN) -- Police in London have arrested six men for questioning in connection with death of a man outside Wembley Stadium.
The incident took place prior to the Euro 2012 qualifying match between England and Wales on Tuesday evening.
The man who died has been named as Michael Dye, 44, from Cardiff, Wales.
The six men in custody are also believed to be Welsh supporters. No England fans are thought to have been involved.
A message of sympathy was posted on the Cardiff City Football Club web site on Wednesday and fans tied scarves and replica shirts to the gates of the stadium.
Gethin Jenkins, Cardiff City's chief executive said in a statement: "Our thoughts and condolences go to Mike's family and friends at this devastating time. Mike was clearly a committed and passionate supporter of the club for many years and his passing is extremely sad to many within our community and the football family at large."
England won the game 1-0.

Prescott promising KO

Image text here
Prescott: says he'll knock out McCloskey - and Khan again

Breidis Prescott has breezed into Belfast promising to put Paul McCloskey to sleep - and set up a rematch with Amir Khan.

The hard-hitting Colombian makes his third appearance on British soil in Saturday's WBA light-welterweight eliminator at the Odyssey Arena, live on Sky Sports HD.
Prescott, who took 54 seconds to demolish Khan back in 2008, is hell-bent on getting another crack at the unified champion at 140lbs.
He says he is not the same fighter that lost to Kevin Mitchell on his last visit and will have too much for the Dungiven man who was of course stopped controversially on cuts by Khan in November.
"I have seen McCloskey and he makes a lot of mistakes but I don't like to watch a lot, I'll worry about him when I get in the ring," said Prescott.
"I will expose all his mistakes, no problem. We've had a great training camp, we've worked very well on things, technical things, and I just think I'm a much better fighter than him.
"Whenever I get in the ring I want to let it all go, let my hands go and give my best.
"When I went into the ring that night against Khan, I went in with the mentality to take Amir Khan's head off and I hit him with the right punch and got him out of there.
"I thought I would break him down and then take him out but obviously he doesn't take that good a punch. Khan made the mistake of fighting with me and if McCloskey makes the same mistake I will be putting him to sleep too."
He then turned his attentions directly to Khan.
Prescott 28-year-old has long been chasing another crack at the WBA and IBF world champion and says he will fight him as early as December.
Khan has laughed off the calls and backed McCloskey to win when he appeared on Ringside last week, saying he is "awkward and too tricky to catch" - even for a renowned puncher with 19 stoppages in 23 wins.
The Bolton has also suggested that a rematch with the Irishman is likely to happen sooner rather than later, which prompted a foul-mouth outburst in which Prescott also branded him a "punk" and promised to "spit in his face".
"I bet you do have your money on McCloskey because you are a sissy," he said. "Anything that prevents you from fighting me again.
"Now if you are a man, after I beat McCloskey in his hometown and knock him dead like I did with you in your hometown - let's fight in December.
"You do all this talking but you are scared to fight."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Berlusconi has joked about how unlikely it is that a man his age would be capable of the sexual feats some have claimed.Rome (CNN) -- For the past eight months, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been engulfed in a sex scandal that has him accused of paying for sex with a minor.
He is presently on trial in Milan for allegedly paying for sex with 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer Karima El Mahroug, known as "Ruby the heart stealer."
He is charged with abuse of power because prosecutors say he phoned a police station -- where she was being held on theft charges -- to have her released.
Berlusconi has repeatedly denied all of the allegations, even joking about how unlikely it is that a man his age would be capable of the sexual feats some have claimed. "I'm 74 years old and even though I may be a bit of a rascal, 33 girls in two months seems to me too much even for a 30-year-old."
The recent scandal is not the first to emerge since Berlusconi became premier for a third time in 2008.
In 2009, his wife of 19 years, Veronica Lario, filed for divorce and publicly accused her husband of "consorting with minors" after he attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring TV actress and model called Noemi Letizia. Berlusconi said the young woman was the daughter of a friend and that he had done nothing inappropriate. Noemi Letizia and her family also said there was nothing improper.
Who is 'Ruby'?
Silvio Berlusconi on trial
That same year, Patrizia D'Addario alleged she and other girls were paid to attend parties at Berlusconi's residence. Berlusconi denied the claim, telling his weekly magazine Chi: "I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest."
Soon after the Ruby scandal broke IN 2010, he said at a public event: "It's better to be fond of beautiful girls than to be gay."
Ruby has denied having sex with the premier. Both admit that he gave her money, although they say it was an act of kindness to help the young girl.
In their 389-page document presented to the court, prosecutors allege Berlusconi paid Ruby, and scores of other young women, for taking part in "bunga bunga parties" held in Berlusconi's private residence.
Using what they say are phone interceptions of the young women as evidence, prosecutors say the women performed stripteases and erotic actions in exchange for money and gifts. Berlusconi says the parties were normal dinner gatherings, and that no one misbehaved.
This is a view shared by his supporters like Annalisa Amicucci, a lawyer. For her it is Berlusconi's right to hold whatever types of private parties he wants and "neither journalists nor magistrates should try to stop that."
"He needs to have his time off," she says, adding that if the girls attended those parties, they did it willingly. "Nobody forced them," she says. Amicucci also says the public prosecutor's allegations that the Italian premier paid for sex are "outrageous."
According to her, Berlusconi "gives gifts to women because he is generous, he is generous with everybody. Women adore him, including myself, for the man he is, for what he has achieved and does for our country. He does not need to pay for sex."
Q&A: Silvio Berlusconi's legal woes
But not everyone agrees with loyal Berlusconi followers like Amicucci.
Nicoletta Dentico, founder of the women's movement Se Non Ora Quando (If Not Now When), says: "Nowhere else in the world would a prime minister who is enveloped in these types of scandals remain in place.
"It reflects a type of pathology that exists in this country. We have a democracy but evidently it is not properly functioning."
Psychiatrist, professor and author Massimo Fagioli says the reason Italians tolerate Berlusconi can be found in history, where absolute rulers who appeared to act above the law are a recurring theme. Berlusconi, he says, is no exception.
Fagioli says that Italians' tolerance of scandalous behavior is not just fascinating, but scary. He describes it as a "mental coma" with no clear cut explanation.
Since the scandal broke in January, there have been very few impartial polls to measure Berlusconi's approval rating. The most recent, from February, shows 44% of Italians believe the premier should resign over "Rubygate," -- as the scandal has become known in Italy -- a statistic considered low by many observers.
Fagioli, who has more than 50 years' experience analyzing human behavior, believes Italians have a tendency to shrug off these types of scandals because they say "he has the money. He can do whatever he wants."
"It's a Catholic mentality," he adds. "Sin at night and confess in the morning."
Nowhere else in the world would a prime minister who is enveloped in these types of scandals remain in place.
--Nicoletta Dentica, women's activist
Dentico believes that Berlusconi has won the tolerance of Italians through the influence of his media empire through which he has managed to "prepare the grounds before coming to power."
"He is a perfect communicator and a good seller," she says. She says she was previously one of the many tolerant Italians, but things began to change for her when the premier's scandal with Noemi broke.
"As a woman, and as a mother of an adolescent girl, I started to freak out, thinking, is this the way 'Papi' decides who goes into television, and who goes into politics?"
Dentico says many girls want to emulate the model projected by Berlusconi's TV channels, which promote a stereotypical idea of young women as dancers and TV show girls, known in Italy as "veline."
The fact that Berlusconi has rewarded some of the former "veline" by appointing them to political posts exacerbates the problem, according to Dentico. He appointed Mara Carfagna -- formerly a topless model -- to the post of Equal Opportunity Minister, a post she later resigned.
He also named Michela Vittoria Brambilla -- who hosted a television show about sexy nightclubs -- as undersecretary of tourism. And Nicole Minetti a dental hygienist-- also formerly on one of his channels -- is now a regional councillor for the Lombardy region. The women have all defended the appointments, saying they're up to the job. Berlusconi agreed, saying all the women are talented and critics are just envious.
Still, Dentico sees these promotions as a reward for those girls who choose to be the way the premier wants them. She says: "This connection between power and sex, it has always existed, but the fact that you select the political class and you actually select the gender quota through this kind of mechanism, is revolting."
Dentico and her colleagues decided to take action. In February, her movement organized a protest march which drew hundreds of thousands throughout Italy into the streets. The rallies turned out to be the biggest anti-Berlusconi demos yet to take place.
"We can't discuss these things only at dinner tables, or lunch when we are with our friends that are like minded. We had to do more than this. Enough had been spoken. We need to do something about it."
Dentico says the movement goes beyond Berlusconi-- it's a battle to change Italian culture.
"This is a much deeper movement. I can tell you that if Berlusconi were removed we would have to face many other problems for women in many other unsuspected places."
But both Nicoletta and psychiatrist Fagioli think the tide is beginning to turn against Berlusconi and that Italians are slowing waking up from the "cosi fan tutti," (so do all behave) attitude of tolerance.
Profile: Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's embattled leader
Berlusconi recently suffered political defeats both in local elections, where he lost his political core city of Milan, and in a national referendum, where he lost his government's bid for the privatization of water, the re-introduction of nuclear energy and trial immunity for government officials-- including the prime minister.
But it remains unclear if this recent turn of events is linked to his government's policies, or speculation about the premier's private habits and "Ruby the heart stealer" scandal.

China denies report, says it did not sell weapons to Libya

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Documents showing that China offered to sell arms to Moammar Gadhafi in the waning days of his rule are "the real deal," a senior member of Libya's transitional government said Monday.
The comment follows a report by Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper saying that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell at least $200 million worth of weapons to Gadhafi, which would have violated United Nations resolutions banning such transactions.
The Globe and Mail said one of its reporters found the documents, in Arabic, in a pile of trash in Tripoli's Bab Akkarah neighborhood, an enclave that was home to some of Gadhafi's most loyal supporters.
The documents, which were posted Sunday on the website of the Toronto-based newspaper, do not confirm whether any military assistance was delivered to Libya.
"We found several documents that showed us orders, very large orders, of arms and ammunition specifically from China, and now we do know that some of the things that were on the list are here on the ground, and they came in over the last two to six months," said Abdulrahman Busin, NTC spokesman.
He said it is unclear whether the exact list on the document was delivered, "but there were many things on that list that are here, and these are brand-new equipment, brand-new weapons, brand-new boxes of ammunition that haven't been opened yet, that were clearly delivered only in the last few months.
"Don't forget that we have many of the generals and high commanders who defected some time ago who know Gadhafi's regime very, very well, know what he has and doesn't have, and we know 100% that there was a lot of weapons and arms that were delivered to Gadhafi over the last few months -- during the war and during the sanctions," Busin said.
China says it followed U.N. Security Council resolutions that banned the export of arms to Gadhafi's government.
"The Gadhafi regime sent people to China to engage in contact with certain individuals of relevant Chinese companies in July without the knowledge of the Chinese government departments," Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN.
"Chinese companies have not signed any military trade contracts with Libya -- let alone provided military exports to Libya."
Mohamed Sayeh, a member of the NTC, said Libya's new leaders have seen the documents.
"This deal is a real deal and we have seen the official documents," he said. "It was signed by Chinese officials, and it was to send guns and artillery to Libya through Algiers to expedite the deal."
The four-page memo detailed a trip by Gadhafi's security officials to Beijing on July 16 during which they met with four state-controlled weapons manufacturers, the newspaper reported.
"The companies suggest that they make the contracts with either Algeria or South Africa, because those countries previously worked with China," the documents say.
According to the newspaper, the documents show the Chinese companies noted that many of the items wanted by Gadhafi were in Algeria and could quickly be moved across the Libyan border.
The Chinese said they would replace the Algerian arms sent to Libya, the document said.
Busin said Mustafa Abdul Jalil, NTC chairman, has "made it very, very clear that anybody who has helped and supported and stood by Gadhafi over the months would not be greeted well."
China abstained from voting on a Security Council resolution in March that authorized the protection of Libyan civilians by any means necessary, with the exception of a ground invasion.
China, however, did approve a Security Council resolution that banned military assistance, including the sale of weapons, to Gadhafi's government.
China, Algeria and South Africa have opposed the NATO bombing campaign in Libya, and the three countries were slow to recognize the authority of the National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate authority.
Sayeh said the NTC was amazed that the deal was discussed at a time when Gadhafi's forces were killing "thousands and thousands of Libyans, and it was done by two U.N. members" who signed the arms embargo.
"We will not forget but we will forgive, and we will start all over again," Sayeh told CNN.
Gadhafi's wife, two sons and other relatives fled to Algeria recently, deepening mistrust between the NTC and Libya's neighbor. Algeria said it acted on humanitarian grounds, but it angered the NTC.
The transitional council has accused Algeria of supporting the Gadhafi regime. Algerians also complained to the United Nations about damage done to their embassy soon after NTC fighters entered Tripoli.
Algeria will in the future recognize the NTC as the goverment in Libya, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told French radio network Europe 1 last week.
"The NTC has said it is going to set up a government representative of all regions, and when it has done that, we'll recognize it," Medelci said.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Monday said 23 Ukrainian citizens working at Libyan oil industry facilities were arrested.
No official charges have been filed, the ministry said in a statement, adding that because of the fighting in the Libyan capital, the NTC is looking at all foreigners in Tripoli with suspicion.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Tripoli and the ministry are rendering proper consular assistance to those arrested, the ministry said. As a result, one person was released on Sunday and the others are undergoing security checks, according to the statement.
"Embassy officials are regularly visiting our citizens, examining their conditions and pursuing active steps for their liberation and further return home," the ministry said.
Ukrainian news agencies on Monday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshin as telling reporters that those detained have food and water and there is no threat to their lives.
CNN's Eunice Yoon, Haolan Hong, Maxim Tkachenko and Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report

Are Right-Wing Libertarian Internet Trolls Getting Paid to Dumb Down Online Conversations?

There are daily attempts to control and influence content in the interests of the state and corporations: attempts in which money talks.

They are the online equivalent of enclosure riots: the rick-burning, fence-toppling protests by English peasants losing their rights to the land. When MasterCard, Visa, Paypal and Amazon tried to shut WikiLeaks out of the cyber-commons, an army of hackers responded by trying to smash their way into these great estates and pull down their fences.

In the Wikileaks punch-up the commoners appear to have the upper hand. But it’s just one battle. There’s a wider cyberwar being fought, of which you hear much less. And in most cases the landlords, with the help of a mercenary army, are winning.

I’m not talking here about threats to net neutrality and the danger of a two-tier internet developing, though these are real. I’m talking about the daily attempts to control and influence content in the interests of the state and corporations: attempts in which money talks.

The weapon used by both state and corporate players is a technique known as astroturfing. An astroturf campaign is one that mimics spontaneous grassroots mobilizations, but which has in reality been organized. Anyone writing a comment piece in Mandarin critical of the Chinese government, for example, is likely to be bombarded with abuse by people purporting to be ordinary citizens, upset by the slurs against their country.

But many of them aren’t upset: they are members of the 50 Cent Party, so-called because one Chinese government agency pays 5 mao (half a yuan) for every post its tame commenters write. Teams of these sock-puppets are hired by party leaders to drown out critical voices and derail intelligent debates.

I first came across online astroturfing in 2002, when the investigators Andy Rowell and Jonathan Matthews looked into a series of comments made by two people calling themselves Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek. They had launched ferocious attacks, across several internet forums, against a scientist whose research suggested that Mexican corn had been widely contaminated by GM pollen.

Rowell and Matthews found that one of the messages Mary Murphy had sent came from a domain owned by the Bivings Group, a PR company specializing in internet lobbying. An article on the Bivings website explained that “there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organization is directly involved … Message boards, chat rooms, and listservs are a great way to anonymously monitor what is being said. Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party."

The Bivings site also quoted a senior executive from the biotech corporation Monsanto, thanking the PR firm for its “outstanding work”. When a Bivings executive was challenged by Newsnight, he admitted that the “Mary Murphy” email was sent by someone “working for Bivings” or “clients using our services”. Rowell and Matthews then discovered that the IP address on Andura Smetacek’s messages was assigned to Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri(9). There’s a nice twist to this story. AstroTurf TM - real fake grass - was developed and patented by Monsanto.

Reading comment threads on the Guardian’s sites and elsewhere on the web, two patterns jump out at me. The first is that discussions of issues in which there’s little money at stake tend to be a lot more civilized than debates about issues where companies stand to lose or gain billions: such as climate change, public health and corporate tax avoidance. These are often characterized by amazing levels of abuse and disruption.

Articles about the environment are hit harder by such tactics than any others. I love debate, and I often wade into the threads beneath my columns. But it’s a depressing experience, as instead of contesting the issues I raise, many of those who disagree bombard me with infantile abuse, or just keep repeating a fiction, however often you discredit it. This ensures that an intelligent discussion is almost impossible - which appears to be the point.

The second pattern is the strong association between this tactic and a certain set of views: pro-corporate, anti-tax, anti-regulation. Both traditional conservatives and traditional progressives tend be more willing to discuss an issue than these right-wing libertarians, many of whom seek instead to shut down debate.

So what’s going on? I’m not suggesting that most of the people trying to derail these discussions are paid to do so, though I would be surprised if none were. I’m suggesting that some of the efforts to prevent intelligence from blooming seem to be organized, and that neither website hosts nor other commenters know how to respond.

For his film (Astro)Turf Wars, Taki Oldham secretly recorded a training session organized by a rightwing libertarian group called American Majority. The trainer, Austin James, was instructing Tea Party members on how to “manipulate the medium”. This is what he told them:

“Here’s what I do. I get on Amazon; I type in “Liberal Books”. I go through and I say “one star, one star, one star”. The flipside is you go to a conservative/ libertarian whatever, go to their products and give them five stars. … This is where your kids get information: Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster. These are places where you can rate movies. So when you type in “Movies on Healthcare”, I don’t want Michael Moore’s to come up, so I always give it bad ratings. I spend about 30 minutes a day, just click, click, click, click. … If there’s a place to comment, a place to rate, a place to share information, you have to do it. That’s how you control the online dialogue and give our ideas a fighting chance.”

Over 75% of the funding for American Majority, which hosted this training session, comes from the Sam Adams Alliance. In 2008, the year in which American Majority was founded, 88% of the alliance’s money came from a single donation, of $3.7m(13). A group which trains rightwing libertarians to distort online democratic processes, in other words, was set up with funding from a person or company with a very large wallet.

The internet is a remarkable gift, which has granted us one of the greatest democratic opportunities since universal suffrage. We’re in danger of losing this global commons as it comes under assault from an army of trolls and flacks, many of them covertly organised or trained. The question for all of us - the Guardian, other websites, everyone who benefits from this resource - is what we intend to do about it. It’s time we fought back and reclaimed the internet for what it does best: exploring issues, testing ideas, opening the debate.