Best-ever World Cup? It is shaping up nicely

first_imgStill, Russian President Vladimir Putin has lucked out. Russia’s team that seemed unlikely to progress earned itself a marquee match-up with 2010 champions Spain and the football spectacle is competing for global attention, instead of novichok, Syria, flight MH17, Crimea, east Ukraine, election interference and other issues that have chilled relations between Russia and western capitals.In a tournament as famous as the World Cup, picking the best will always be a subjective choice. But with this one: So far, so good.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding Christopher Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings author, dies aged 95 South Korea’s players celebrate a goal during the group F match between South Korea and Germany, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)KAZAN, Russia — Wow. What a start.If you’re among those who suspect this World Cup has the makings of one of the best ever, the numbers from the just-completed group stage of the football showcase suggest you may be right. Aside from a few snoozers, the essential ingredient for engrossing sporting spectacle — uncertainty — triumphed.ADVERTISEMENT Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award View comments LATEST STORIES Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Cloudy skies over Luzon due to amihan Tim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Bicol riders extend help to Taal evacuees Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Harvey Weinstein rape trial Gilas routs Taiwan 5 Games were tighter than ever. Traditionally strong teams still dominate, with the obvious exception of now dethroned ex-world champion Germany , already licking its wounds back at home. But increasingly better drilled, prepared and ambitious so-called “smaller” nations are continuing to narrow the gap. World Cup debutant Panama was the only team to look seriously out of its depth.The most common result in the 48 games was 1-0, which is how the score finished a record-equaling 13 times. That illustrates not only how close games were, but that teams, once ahead, are increasingly able to protect their leads. An example of that was Mexico 1, Germany 0. In the second half at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, Die Mannschaft took 17 shots, had six corner kicks and six shots blocked and still couldn’t cancel out Hirving Lozano’s first-half winner.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSince the World Cup expanded to 32 teams in 1998, only once before has it seen so many 1-0 games in the group stage. That was in South Africa in 2010, when teams struggled to score with the Jabulani ball. The 16 teams that advanced that year to the knockout round did so by scoring just 67 times, a record low. They did much better this year, scoring 83. That was down from 90 at the last edition in Brazil and the record-high 91 goals scored by group-stage qualifiers in 2002 but still illustrated the attacking intent shown by teams in Russia.Some other numbers: MOST READ Taal victims get help from Kalayaan town —Again illustrating the narrowing gap between winners and losers, 24 games were decided by just one goal. That is a record high. And 11 of those games saw both teams score. That reinforces the impression that this group stage offered good entertainment, with teams going at each other, aiming for goals, and often succeeding.—Further proof that teams didn’t hold back: Just nine games ended in a draw. That equaled the record low set in Brazil four years ago. At the first 32-team World Cup in 1998, exactly one third of group-stage games finished in a draw, a record-high of 16 draws not seen since. And some of the draws this time were spectacular, none more so than Portugal 3, Spain 3, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s late free-kick curling past the Spanish wall to complete his hat-trick and level the score.—Just once, at Denmark vs. France, did fans come away without seeing a goal from either team . Again, that record low of scoreless draws illustrates the ambitious mindset of teams and was a vast improvement over previous editions. There were five scoreless draws in Brazil and six — the record high in the 32-team format — in South Africa.—The group stage again saw very lopsided wins (Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0; England 6, Panama 1) but not as domineering as at previous tournaments (Portugal 7, North Korea 0 in 2010; Germany 8, Saudi Arabia 0 in 2002). Just eight of the games saw four or more goals scored. That equals the record low from South Africa and is sharply down from 2014, when there 16 four-goals-or-more matches in the group stage. Again, that reflects how smaller football nations frustrated star teams and players this time, notably the defensive master-class from Iceland that prevented Argentina’s Lionel Messi from scoring in a 1-1 draw at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium. But Messi redeemed himself with his strike against Nigeria, the tournament’s 100th goal and a contender for goal of the tournament, exquisitely controlling the ball with his left thigh and left foot in one fluid movement before scoring with his right.The group stage wasn’t without blemishes, but was without major scandal. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez managed not to bite anyone, an improvement from 2014, and the French haven’t gone on strike as they did on their way to an early exit in 2010. The record 24 penalties awarded, of which 18 were scored, are an unfortunate, game-distorting side effect of video refereeing’s debut at the World Cup, which has caught officiating mistakes but is also messing with the rhythm of matches and seen some very debatable decisions. And using yellow cards as a tie-breaker to separate Senegal, sent home, and Japan, which stays, seems unfair, given that some referees are more trigger-happy with cards than others.ADVERTISEMENT In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’last_img read more

Waltrip’s team joins cheat list

first_imgWaltrip, docked 100 points, will be allowed to participate in today’s races that determine the field for NASCAR’s biggest event of the year. David Hyder, his crew chief, was thrown out of the garage and fined $100,000. Team director Bobby Kennedy also was kicked out. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A second day of scandal hit the Daytona 500 on Wednesday when two-time winner Michael Waltrip’s crew chief and team director were thrown out of NASCAR’s biggest race for cheating. They were suspended indefinitely after an illegal substance was found during inspection for the season-opening race. “This is not the way you want to enter the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, by any means,” said Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development. “But circumstances are what they are, and we’ll support NASCAR in any way we can to help to help them find a resolution to the issue.” Five teams have been caught cheating during preparations for Sunday’s race. The crew chiefs for 2003 champion Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler all were suspended Tuesday. NASCAR officials would not reveal what they found in Waltrip’s intake manifold, but a person with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press it was a property contained in jet fuel. NASCAR competition director Robin Pemberton said only that the substance was not jet fuel itself. “We’re not going to go into any great detail, but it was a foreign substance that we feel should not have been inside the engine, and we’ll leave it at that,” Pemberton said. “I don’t think this is anything that we’ve seen in the recent past.” center_img The substance was found during the inspection of Waltrip’s new Toyota Camry before Sunday’s qualifying session. NASCAR seized the part and shipped it back to North Carolina for analysis, and spent all day Wednesday pulling parts and pieces from under the hood. The manifold is a part of the engine that supplies the fuel/air mix to the engine cylinders. Waltrip’s team coated the inside of it with an illegal substance that is believed to be a property contained in jet fuel. Waltrip’s team maintains it was oil. Adding the substance, described by NASCAR as an oxygenate, would boost the octane in the fuel, thus making the engine run better at higher horsepower. Pemberton said the substance was discovered when a NASCAR official reached his hand into the manifold to feel for loose parts. “When he brought his hand out, there was a substance on there that was unlike anything he had ever seen in the inspection line before,” Pemberton said. Some rival team members said they thought NASCAR should have taken away more points from Waltrip’s team, because in a sport where cheating is common, tampering with the fuel is a rarity. “Throughout the garage area I think everybody knows you don’t mess around with tires, you don’t mess around with the engine, the restrictor plates,” Pemberton said. “Those things are very taboo.” The last penalty NASCAR issued for a fuel-tampering violation was harsher than Waltrip’s. In May 2000, driver Jeremy Mayfield and team owner Michael Kranefuss were penalized 151 points each for a fuel-related violation found at Talladega Superspeedway. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Messi’s disappointments with Argentina

first_imgWidely considered one of the greatest players ever, the Barcelona star is still looked upon unfavourably by many in his homeland compared with Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.Messi turned 31 last week and his best chance of ending Argentina’s 25-year wait to win a major tournament may now be gone.Here, AFP Sport looks at Messi’s biggest disappointments with Argentina.World Cup 2018Messi’s World Cup got off to the worst possible start when he missed a penalty in Argentina’s opening game, which ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw with tournament debutants Iceland.He was then largely bypassed in a 3-0 thrashing by Croatia that put Argentina on the brink of an embarrassing group-stage exit.Messi did ride to their rescue with a superb opening goal to help squeeze past Nigeria 2-1 to set up the meeting with France.But despite setting up two of his side’s three goals, Messi could only watch from afar as 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe exposed Argentina’s fragile defence by scoring twice and winning a penalty in a seven-goal thriller in Kazan to announce himself as a potential successor to Messi as a global superstar.Copa America Centenario 2016Not prone to showing his emotions, Messi sobbed uncontrollably after blasting his penalty over the bar as Argentina lost a second Copa America final in as many years in a shootout to Chile.In the aftermath, with emotions running high, Messi announced his retirement from international football on the back of three final defeats in three consecutive years.“I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion,” Messi said at the time.What might have been: Lionel Messi reacts to losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany © AFP/File / ODD ANDERSENLess than two months later he reversed that decision. “We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside,” he said.Messi almost single-handedly carried Argentina through a troubled qualifying campaign, but that ultimately only delayed another bitter disappointment.World Cup 2014The first of those three final defeats came on the biggest stage of all and by the finest of margins in Brazil four years ago.Messi scored four goals and converted his spot-kick in a semi-final shootout against the Netherlands to lead Argentina to a first World Cup final in 24 years.However, at the end of a rare injury-plagued season at Barcelona, he was limited to short bursts of energy to try and change games and ultimately ran out of steam in a 1-0 extra-time defeat by Germany.Messi had one great chance that he would normally bury on his left foot that slipped just wide, but even winning the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament did little to dim the pain of getting so close to the holy grail of following in Maradona’s footsteps.World Cup 2010Fresh from being crowned as the world’s best player for the first time, Messi arrived in South Africa as the star attraction of a top-heavy Argentina under Maradona’s management.Diego Maradona consoles Lionel Messi after Argentina lost 4-0 to Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals © AFP/File / JAVIER SORIANOEarly on, the Albiceleste’s sheer firepower proved too much as they eased past Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in the group stage before beating Mexico 3-1 in the last 16.Messi failed to get on the scoresheet, but was still pulling the strings for Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.Yet, Maradona’s lack of tactical nous was finally exposed as a young Germany side that would reach its peak four years later ran riot 4-0 in the quarter-finals in Cape Town.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Another day to forget: Lionel Messi’s last chance to win a World Cup may have gone © AFP / Roman KruchininSAINT PETERSBURG, Russian Federation, Jun 30 – Five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi suffered more World Cup heartbreak with Argentina on Saturday, unable to match France’s firepower in a thrilling 4-3 World Cup last-16 tie.Messi only scored once in Russia and is still yet to net in the knockout stages of a World Cup.last_img read more

Video: The England highlights you didn’t see!

first_img England striker Wayne Rooney 1 England are another step closer to qualifying for the 2016 European Championship in France after they beat Lithuania 4-0 at Wembley on Friday night.Roy Hodgson’s men dispatched their opponents with ease as Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane all scored.And you can relive the game with these brilliant highlights, provided by the Football Association, which give us a brilliant new angle on the match.Check out the video above…last_img

WATCH! Paulinho scores stunning for Flamengo

first_imgCheck out this stunning volley from Paulinho [not the former Tottenham one] during Flamengo’s clash with Chapecoense over the weekend.last_img

Chaffey, SBVC to battle for early Foothill lead

first_imgChaffey’s guard play vs. San Bernardino Valley’s front line. Neither side is making any secret of what an early Foothill Conference showdown between fierce rivals will amount to when the Wolverines hit the road tonight at 7 at Chaffey College. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Both programs are ranked among the top 20 in the state, are off to 2-0 starts in conference and have enough weapons to put a scare into anyone. Jerome Habel, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a game for No. 16 San Bernardino Valley (14-7, 2-0). Chris Adams (6-7, 10.9 points per game) is emerging as a quiet inside force and small forward Jamar Smith (22.3 ppg) showed he’s healthy after a high ankle sprain with 22- and 24-point performances in victories over Rio Hondo and Desert last week. “It’s going to be a war; it’s a rivalry game,” Chaffey coach Jeff Klein said. “They are the defending conference champions … and they have great size and great athleticism. When you have that combination, it’s scary.” No. 17 Chaffey (17-4, 2-0), without a lot of size, counters with the state’s most potent offense, a run-and-gun shooting show that averages 104 points a game four better than No. 6 Fresno (19-4). Point guard T.J. Smith (17.9 ppg) usually leads that assault. But Chris Brown (14.8 ppg), Larry Dew (12.1) and Vince Alvarado (11.2) all average double figures in scoring, and any number of Panthers can score double figures when Chaffey is running on all cylinders. “I don’t think Chaffey can match our big men, and we can’t match their guard play,” San Bernardino Valley coach Phil Mathews said. “It’s their guard play against our front line play. They have a nice guard tandem, and we have a pretty good front line. That’s how it’s going to break down.” But who breaks down is anyone’s guess this early in conference play. center_img That wasn’t the case at least not early during a 77-76 win over No. 18 Mt. San Jacinto (13-8, 1-1) on Saturday. But Chaffey continued to trap and press and shoot, and the Panthers turned a halftime deficit into what they hope is a momentum-building victory heading into a home game against a Wolverine team picked to win the Foothill Conference. Favorites, though, can change dramatically after today. “We’re looking super forward to the challenge,” Chaffey sophomore Ronnie Bullock said. “This is what you play for. You hope the preseason gets you ready for games like this, gets you ready to contend.” SBVC PLAYERS MOVE ON Eight more San Bernardino Valley College football players are off to four-year institutions, giving the school nine who have moved on between semesters. The group is headed by tight end Jason Hawkins (Mississippi) and defensive backs Mike McCoy (Kansas) and Mombroso Washington (Utah). Rounding out the group are linebacker Foaki Fifita (Texas A&M-Kingsville), offensive lineman Rodney Patterson (Fort Valley State, Ga.), defensive lineman Devin McCrory (Southwest Oklahoma), defensive back Wes Montgomery (Texas Southern) and wide receiver Marquis Smith (Henderson State, Ark.). Earlier, defensive back Brett Bankus decided on Idaho State. The players will have an early advantage over newcomers at their respective schools since enrolling in January makes them eligible to participate in spring drills. “We try to stress the importance of getting it done to our kids,” SBVC coach Pat Meech said. “These were the guys that took it upon themselves to do that. It is one of the things that makes you a more attractive recruit to colleges.” HULL HAS HOT HAND If freshman Ted Hull contributes like he had recently, the Redlands men might make a run at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title. He was the pivotal player in a 126-123 win over Wheaton with 31 points on the strength of 11-for-17 shooting from the field. What makes that all the more impressive is that most of those shots were tough ones. He was 8-for-13 from three-point range. “He happened to have the hot hand that night,” coach Gary Smith said. “Our guys recognized that and passed up shots to get him the ball.” Redlands (4-6) opens SCIAC conference play at 7:30 tonight with Claremont-Mudd-Scipps (6-5) being the guest at Currier Gymnasium. HARRIS TO REDHSIRT Tests performed last week revealed a stress fracture in his foot that will sideline Cal State San Bernardino’s Prentice Harris (Upland),at least a month. He played in six of the Coyotes’ scheduled 26 games, which puts him just under the limit of games an athlete can play before exhausting a year of eligibility. Harris is on track to finish his degree in the spring but said he would like to play next year while working on a graduate degree. JOHNSON LEADS COYOTES Junior forward Chet Johnson of Compton has been named Wilson/California Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the week for consecutive double-doubles in wins over Chico State and Stanislaus. Johnson, a transfer from Saddleback, totaled 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in a 67-59 win over the Wildcats. Then the next night he collected 11 points, 11 rebounds, six steals, four assists and three blocks in an 88-75 win over the Warriors. “He has done a lot of the little things that don’t show up in a box score, diving for a loose ball, getting the key rebound,” coach Jeff Oliver said. “He has done all the intangible things you can ask of a player.” Johnson is the second men’s player to earn the honor. Jason Breland was named back in November for his showing in the first week of the season. WATER POLO PLAYERS HONORED Three water polo players from SCIAC champion Redlands have earned All-America honors by the American Water Polo Coaches Association. Senior goalkeeper Casey Finfrock (Riverside) and sophomore two-meter standout Ryan Hall were named to the first team, while junior two-meter Ian Calpin made the second team. It was the second straight honor for Finfrock and Hall and the first for Calpin. Finfrock, the SCIAC player of the year, had 308 saves, 43 steals and 13 assists with a save percentage of 59.92. Hall was the team’s leading scorer with 50. He also had 49 steals, 51 ejections drawn and 21 blocks. Calpin had 43 goals, 33 steals, 13 blocks and 13 assists. UCR PLAYER LAUDED UC Riverside senior guard Rickey Porter was named the Big West player of the week. Porter poured in a career-high 40 points in an 83-71 win over Pacific for the second-highest single-game total in school history. The only better effort was turned in by Dick Barton, who netted 42 in 1969. Porter also set personal bests for field goals (13), field-goal percentage (68.4) and minutes played (38) in helping the Highlanders snap Pacific’s 31-game conference win streak. NOTABLE Cal State San Bernardino baseball playersAaron Rice and Billy Ermert were honored during halftime of Saturday’s game against Stanislaus. Coach Don Parnell presented the two with their All-America awards earned last spring. … Redlands soccer player David Epstein has landed a spot on the 2005 Men’s All-American team for NCAA Division II and III schools by the Jewish Sports Review … Melinda Eberhardt has been hired as an assistant athletic trainer at the University of Redlands, making her the third full-time trainer to join the staff. Most recently she worked as head trainer at Dominican University in Illinois. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Controversial sugar tax set to add 10c to can of fizzy drink

first_imgA controversial tax aimed at tackling childhood obesity will see the price of fizzy drinks increase following a proposal tabled by the Department of Health. The ‘sugar tax’ has been widely criticized in some quarters, while others say it is necessary in terms of combating child obesity figures which are continuing to surge every year.A ‘sugar tax’ system will be adopted in the UK – and Ireland will follow similar guidelines that has been proposed by Government officials in Westminster. A spokesman for the Department of Health confirmed that the tax is likely to be introduced in 2018 – which is the same date the UK has pencilled in the introduction of the tax.While the method of calculating the tax, confined to soft drinks, has yet to be revealed, it is expected to be in line with the system already outlined in the UK which will see it based on the amount of sugar in the product.Under the UK proposal guidelines, manufacturers of fizzy drinks would be subject to two bands: one for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml; and a second, higher band for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.Fruit juices and milk-based drinks would not be included.The ‘sugar tax’ is just one of a number of initiatives by the Department of Health to reduced obesity levels in the country, with PE set to be introduced as a Leaving Cert subject to increase levels of activity in schools. Controversial sugar tax set to add 10c to can of fizzy drink was last modified: September 15th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:10cCansCokeDepartment of HealthFeaturesGovernmenthealthnewsSugar taxlast_img read more

Ex-Arsenal man given temporary England U-21 role and could get permanent job

first_img no dice Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ REPLY Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move 1 huge blow Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions ADVICE BEST OF Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade Former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has joined the coaching staff of England’s Under-21s ahead of friendlies against Italy and Denmark.Campbell, who has often complained about his inability to get managerial roles, could earn a spot on head coach Aidy Boothroyd’s backroom staff for the summer’s European Under-21 Championhip should he impress, according to the Times. Latest Football Storiescenter_img RANKED REVEALED Sol Campbell is coaching England’s Under-21s during the current international break. England’s Under-21s are depleted for the fixtures with Italy and Denmark with Harvey Barnes, Josh Onomah, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Dael Fry all out due to injury. MONEY REVEALED Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade shining Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Campbell’s appointment is part of an FA scheme to promote black, Asian, and minority ethnic coaches and he will work alongside Boothroyd and Lee Carsley during the current international break.The 44-year-old has previously been the Trinidad and Tobago assistant manager but is yet to have have a high profile role in Europe.Campbell previously tried to earn a nomination to be the Conservative Party’s London mayoral candidate for 2016 but failed.last_img read more

Bush plants seeds of democracy

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake A Dec. 15 Associated Press story reported that several rocket explosions were heard in Baghdad on election day; a mortar shell hit near a polling station in the northern city of Tal Afar; a bomb exploded in Ramadi; another bomb was detonated at a voting site in Fallujah; a mortar round struck about 200 yards from a polling place in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit; and a grenade killed a school guard near a voting site in Mosul. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police guarded polling centers. Bomb-sniffing dogs searched everywhere. And Iraqis walked miles to vote, as vehicles were banned because of threats of car bombs. Not only did Iraqis persevere, but they did so in droves. Election officials were forced to extend voting for one hour due to long lines. The press accounts remind me of those from January, when Iraqis voted for a national assembly. I vividly recall stories of maintenance workers sweeping up charred chunks of human flesh from around the feet of Iraqis who refused to leave their spots in line as they waited to cast ballots. In another incident, Iraqi terrorists suited up a man who had Down syndrome with a suicide vest; anything to halt what Al-Qaida ringleader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi deemed “the evil principle of democracy.” In all, 44 people in Iraq literally died to vote in January’s election, the victims of 38 separate bomb attacks on polling stations, in a voter turnout that exceeded America’s presidential election two months earlier. So, how did that simpleton in the Oval Office – the Idiot-in-Chief, as Michael Moore dubs him – get this one right? What’s his secret? When President George W. Bush insisted that Iraqis, like Afghans before them, would go to the polls to elect their leaders, many of us were skeptical, and not unreasonably. After all, the term “Muslim democracy” has seemed an oxymoron. Of all the areas in the world, the Arab-Muslim Middle East has been the least democratic. A 1999-2000 survey by Freedom House – done, importantly, before September 11, 2001 – found that while 63 percent of nations are technically democracies, an astonishing zero of the 16 Arab countries in the Middle East were democratic, the worst rate on the planet. Against those odds, George W. Bush has attempted to lay the groundwork for Middle East democracy in the two most unlikely, despotic places: the one-time Taliban’s Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Now, after free elections first in Afghanistan, and then repeatedly in Iraq, it looks like the so-called dummy in the White House knew something. Not only did they vote, they voted in huge numbers, with high turnouts, and under threat of horrible violence. The answer: The aspect of his character that, to many on the political left, makes him simple-minded – his religious faith. George W. Bush is convinced that Iraqis, like Afghans, will vote because of an inherent yearning for freedom placed in their hearts by a loving God. It’s actually not a radical idea. Even Thomas Jefferson, the secular saint of modern liberalism, wrote that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is liberty. Iraqis would choose freedom, said Bush, because God had implanted the desire into their DNA. “I have said many times,” Bush reminded journalists in 2003, “that freedom … is the almighty God’s gift to each and every individual. I firmly believe that.” Of course, when Bush made this claim, those who despise him reacted as if he were enunciating some kind of foreign, even fascistic, idea. In fact, Bush said nothing different than what had been said previously by the likes of Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy and so on. There’s more to the Bush vision: In that speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush concluded: “The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. … We (Americans) believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. … This is, above all, the age of liberty.” The president made a mistake there: He should have used the singular first person “I,” not “we,” since millions of Americans did not share his optimism for the Middle East. Now, millions of us marvel at how he got it right, and under enormous pressure to reverse course. Paul Kengor is author of “God and George W. Bush.” He is also executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College and a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Brown Signs Professional Contract To Play Volleyball Overseas

first_imgRebecca Brown, a recent Drake University graduate and four-year letter winner in volleyball has signed a professional contract in Denmark and will continue her athletic career overseas starting in August.Brown will join Amager Volleyball Club, located in the capital city of Copenhagen as the team’s setter in the first division of Denmark’s Volleyliagaen. A native of Bentonville, Ark., Brown recently received her Drake degree in public relations after leading the Bulldogs in assists in 2015 and 2013. “I’m very excited, and nervous, but excited for this opportunity and the doors it will open for me,” Brown said of beginning her professional career.However, playing overseas was not something Brown had considered prior to a trip to Thailand in the summer of 2015 as part of Athletes in Action. “Before that, I had never thought about playing overseas,” Brown said. “But in talking with some of the other girls there, I realized it was a possibility. I’m so thankful for that trip. If [Drake head coach] Darrin [McBroom] hadn’t mentioned it, I never would have been a part of that experience. It opened my eyes and gave me confidence. That opened the biggest door for me, and I’m thankful Darrin gave me that opportunity.”McBroom also participated in that two-week trip that included a match against the Thai national team.Once Brown returned to campus, she began to consider the possibility of continuing to play volleyball professionally overseas following graduation. At the end of her senior season, she began to more seriously pursue those opportunities and took part in an exposure tour through Europe in January that gave her insight into the demands and needs of European clubs and the necessary skills to thrive overseas while showcasing her abilities to coaches and scouts. Despite making numerous contacts during those weeks, her path to a professional contract was actually on the Drake campus.Jacob Enevold, a member of the men’s basketball team and native of Denmark, knew of a few contacts in his homeland and quickly arranged to introduce Brown to the staff at Amager.”It’s amazing I traveled all that way and it turned out I’m joining a team that Jacob put me in contact with,” Brown said. “A lot of pieces had to fall into place and I feel very blessed.”Once united with her new teammates, Brown expects to face her biggest challenge, competing as the only American on a team full of Danes at a position where communication is paramount. While English is spoken commonly in Denmark, Brown is prepared for the challenges that competing outside of her native tongue may present.”I know the language will be a barrier, but I talked to their previous setter and she said the girls are great,” Brown said. “I have to be open and I can’t get frustrated when I don’t know what’s going on or don’t understand what the coach is saying. I need to stay patient and open. The biggest challenge will be not being overwhelmed by that.”To aid in that transition Brown plans to live with a host family in Copenhagen. In doing so, she’ll experience Danish family life and culture on a daily basis to help her adapt to the language and life in a foreign country. Having that type of experience and full immersion into the culture was important to Brown during the process of identifying professional clubs and opportunities.”You come here [Drake]  for four years and get in a little bubble where you’re comfortable,” Brown said. “I’m excited to take this new path and it’s time to just put myself out there and see where this takes me.”Where this opportunity may take her is a mystery to Brown. Her current contract runs from August 2016 to April 2017 and during that time she will also have to chance to gain additional exposure and contacts on the professional circuit to further her professional opportunities if she desires. All of those options are being approached by Brown with an open mind.”I think eight months is perfect and gives me time to figure out if playing overseas is for me,” Brown said. “I’m at a point where I don’t have any responsibilities right now and thanks to volleyball I’m debt free. So I’m going to ride this train and have the rest of my life to worry about those things. I’m going to experience everything I can while I’m there. I’m still healthy, I can still play, so why not?”Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more