souk de Marrakech
Maybe Italian athletes don't like the pasta in Canada. Italy is taking home only five medals this year, its worst winter performance since the Olympics were held in Calgary in 1988. To add insult to injury, Italy's competitors came in dead last in six different events, more than any other country besides Canada, which at least walks off with 14 gold medals.
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But as we've continued our tally of last-place finishes, awarding less-precious "metals" to athletes bringing up the rear—lead medals to those who finish last, tin for second-to-last and zinc to the third-to-last—it was Russia that clunked home with 19 total medals, more than any other nation. Sadly, this is four more than the number of real medals it earned. (In our tally we didn't count anyone who didn't finish or was disqualified, and score differential was used for team tournaments.) But at least Russia can blame a sizable delegation at the Games for its poor showings. Ukraine, Latvia and Poland have no such excuse—all three were in the top 10 in last-place finishes despite having 60 or fewer athletes each.
For some countries—especially those in warmer climates—scoring these dubious medals was still quite a feat. Iran earned two lead medals, thanks to Marjan Kalhor, who finished last in two Alpine-skiing events. And Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, nicknamed the "Snow Leopard," earned a tin medal in the men's slalom. Let's cut him some slack: He's Ghana's first-ever Winter Olympian.
Write to Hannah Karp at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the countries that had the most last-place finishes (lead), second-to-last (tin) and third-to-last (zinc).
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Piper's Opera House
Piper's Opera House
Singapore Marina Bay :Colour Of Night
No need to commets
This image is inspire to dedicate to my Great Mentor, Mr Andrew aka fiftymm link.
He is a great teacher to share n learn from. if u like my work, probably u have not seen his work yet, now's time to learn more about him.,No regret to visit his stream
Singapore iconic symbol,the Merlion vacinity will undergo some temperarily evolve to facilitate this coming ground breaking art festival event with best ever accomodation suite room by the river bay view for tourist first ever experiencing an overnight stay beside the Merlion n Singapore river .
Marina Bay is a bay near Central Area in the southern part of Singapore, and lies to the east of the Downtown Core. Marina Bay is set to be a 24/7 destination with endless opportunities for people to “explore new living and lifestyle options, exchange new ideas and information for business, and be entertained by rich leisure and cultural experiences”. It is here where the most innovative facilities and infrastructure such as the underground “common services tunnel” are built and where mega activities take place.
The URA Master Plan for Marina Bay aims to encourage a mix of uses for this area, including commercial, residential, hotel and entertainment, to ensure that the area remains vibrant round the clock. All developments in the area aim to promote the 3 premises of Explore, Exchange and Entertain:
Explore – New living options. Numerous high-end residential developments are in the pipeline, including One Shenton and Marina Bay Residences which will complement The Sail @ Marina Bay to provide a seamless work-live environment at the heart of the city.
Exchange - Hub for global business. When completed, Marina Bay will double the size of the existing financial district, further cementing Singapore’s position as one of Asia's leading financial centres. It will provide 2.82 million square metres of office space, equivalent to the office space within Hong Kong's main business district, Central.
Entertain - Kaleidoscope of activities. In 2010, the opening of Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort provided more entertainment options to the area, along with the other existing entertainment and shopping districts like Esplanade, Suntec City, Marina Square, Raffles City Shopping Centre
If you're interested in any of my photos, you can contact me through email.- email@example.com
Here's for ur most comfort, just click EASY VIEW OF MY SLIDE SHOW . to enjoy my photostream
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Australian Open 2011: how Andy Murray can beat Novak Djokovic in the final, by Boris Becker
Boris Becker discusses where Sunday's final of the Australian Open between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will be won.
Final countdown: Boris Becker says Andy Murray must mix his game up and play instinctively to beat Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Boris Becker 8:57PM GMT 28 Jan 2011
Mix it up
Djokovic is great in defence, so Murray will have to pick his shots. It is a completely different match to playing Roger Federer in terms of how you have to play. Against Djokovic it is more complicated because they play so alike – it is almost a joke. There is not a clear-cut game plan with Djokovic because it is almost like playing yourself.
It is not that he has to come in to the net all of the time, or throw in plenty of serve-and-volleys. He has to be instinctive, react to the situation, and take risks at the right times, rather than going for broke on every shot.
The most important thing for Murray is to enjoy the match, to embrace being in the final and have fun. The poor guy started crying last year after losing in the final to Federer, so you can imagine the amount of pressure he had put himself under. To get to a grand slam final is already a great achievement, the pinnacle of most tennis players’ career. So you might as well enjoy the moment, because then you relax and play better.
A tense muscle here or there can hugely affect your shots. You can pull your ground-strokes, and being tight on his serve would certainly slow it down.
In terms of groundstrokes, forehands and backhands, both Murray and Djokovic are evenly matched. Their backhands are their most natural shots, but both have worked hard to improve their forehands. Murray will certainly use his inside-out forehand to try to wrong-foot Djokovic on his backhand side.
But it will be who has the better serve on the day that will be fundamental to the outcome of this final. Both players are serving the best I have seen them. It is the new element that they have added to their games. A good serve and you get many free points. How nerves affect their accuracy and pace will be crucial.
Let it go long
Though Djokovic is hardly in bad shape, physically Murray looks a little fitter, so the longer the match goes on, the better it will be better for Murray.
The first set in a grand slam final is crucial in this regard, and far more important than strategy. Murray will want to start strongly. Mentally it is huge, but also, if it turns out to be a hot day — as is forecast — Murray will then be in a position to string out long rallies, make Djokovic work for every point.
Biding his time would also cut down on some of the unforced errors Murray made against David Ferrer.
The mental battle
Both Murray and Djokovic have very similar styles. They are classic counter-punchers who can rally for a long time and wait for mistakes from their opponents. So the question is who will crack first?
There are no big secrets between each other, they have played against each other a number of times, so who will cope best with playing best in a grand slam final? Who can overcome the nerves and mental instability?
On paper you would say that, because Djokovic has won here before, he is the favourite. Murray is yet to win his maiden slam. My gut is to favour Murray though.
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From what I hear the best bite is at sun up, and most of the Montauk boats are heading on a course southeast of Block Island. For those not wanting to go all the way to The Point, there are boats out of Shinnecock that are taking a nice mix of cod, pollock and ling.
If you are heading out east, call ahead, because some of the boats, especially those from Montauk, require reservations. That's pretty much it on the fishing front, except for herring being caught in NYC waters from 69th Street Pier east to Norton's Point and the Coney Island Flats.
All those boats that were docked at the Javits Center for the New York Boat Show didn't have to travel very far. Most have found a berth at the Atlantic City Convention Center for the Atlantic City Boat Show that will run Feb. 2-6.
The show offers a one-stop shop, with hundreds of the newest and best luxury motor yachts, sport fishers, performance boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, inflatables, engines, marine accessories, electronics, fishing gear and more.
Show hours are Feb. 2-4, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Feb. 5, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; and Feb. 6, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
You can get all the info on the show from the web at www.ACBoat.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/AtlanticCityInternationalPowerBoatShow.
The Long Island Boat Show was pushed back some. It will now be at Nassau Coliseum March 4-6. The Long Island Recreational Fishing Expo will be Feb. 4-6 at the Marriott Islandia. There are lots of fishing clinics and lecturers at this event.
For more info, go to www.longislandfishingexpo.com or call (516) 647-8492. The New York Sportfishing Federation Forum and Auction will be Feb. 18-20 at the Freeport Rec Center in Freeport, L.I.
This one features seminars by local experts. The auction takes place that Sunday at 2:30 p.m. For more info, call (888) 564-6732.
And if you want to look ahead to the granddaddy of expos, the World Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Rockland County will run March 3-6. Go to www.sportshows.com for more info.
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Scots face pension and savings turmoil
By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor 6:54PM GMT 25 Jan 2011
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) said a hugely complicated system must set up to ensure savers and pensioners are charged the right amount of tax on their investments.
The institute warned the administrative costs of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) collecting this information and giving it to pension and savings providers may be passed on to Holyrood.
Alternatively, the companies themselves may bear the costs and pass them onto their policyholders in the form of increased administration charges.
The changes, included in the Scotland Bill, also threaten to cause huge confusion in the benefits system as many are means-tested based on a household’s post-tax income.
If Scotland and England have different income tax rates, people with the same level of take-home pay either side of the Border will not receive the same level of benefits.
The Scotland Bill aims to make Holyrood more responsible for the money it spends by transferring a range of limited tax powers, including income tax.
But the Daily Telegraph has reported warnings from ICAS the changes could lead to a huge increase in tax evasion and a bill “significantly” in excess of £150 million to draw up a register of Scottish taxpayers.
Two of the institute’s senior directors are giving evidence to a Holyrood committee investigating the legislation, and are expected to warn of a series of “anomalies” that will create huge problems.
Pensioners and savers pay income tax on the money they receive from their investments and an ICAS submission to the committee warned the Scotland Bill’s changes will cause firms providing these products “particular problems”.
“For many taxpayers, they will not have sufficient detail to determine the residence of the holder of investments,” the institute said.
“It will be necessary to implement procedures to identify whether the Scottish or rest of the UK rate needs to be applied for each investment.”
This problem will also affect the tax relief workers receive on pension contributions, which is also based on income tax levels, the accountancy experts said.
The administrative cost could either be passed onto Scottish taxpayers “in the form of charges” or left to financial service companies. However, the latter option would have “implications for the costs borne on investments such as pensions”.
ICAS also warned that MSPs raising income tax above the English level may mean employers being forced to pay the difference to attract workers to Scotland.
The change will be particularly complex for Scots on low incomes, especially those who receive benefits such as pension credits, housing benefit and income support.
These are means tested based on post-tax income. If MSPs raise taxes, then the amount they receive will go up. For tax credits, people earning the same amount either side of the Border would be handed different amounts.
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Newbury Thwarts Carlson
WASHINGTON, DC - January 24, 2011: Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (#74) tries to fend off New York Rangers forward Kris Newbury (#45) on his way into the offensive zone during their NHL ice hockey game at Verizon Center.
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Rock the Red
Sales figures struggle to match One Hyde Park hype
The launch of Nick and Christian Candy's uber-luxury One Hyde Park development has caused much excitement.
Christian Candy, pictured with his wife Emily Crompton Photo: Rex Features
By Jonathan Russell, Dashwood Editor 10:00PM GMT 22 Jan 2011
The Candy brothers' publicity machine has been quick to point out that 60pc of the flats, around 50 of them, have already been sold. Somehow the amount of stamp duty these sales represent, £36m, also found its way into the press.
Handy. That suggests these sales have completed. A quick glance on the Land Registry would suggest otherwise. Out of the 50 flats the boys say they've sold, only one appears on the official record. It was sold back in March last year for £31m – to a certain Christian Peter Candy. Not that he stumped up all the money. Barclays provided a mortgage.
I feed this into the Candy publicity machine. "Most purchasers will have completed by mid-February," comes the firm response.
Which leaves one question. As the only registered buyer to date is Christian Candy, pictured with his wife Emily Crompton, is he a plutocrat, potentate or tech billionaire?
Or all three?
Appiness at the touch of a smartphone
We all want to be it. The Prime Minister wants to measure it. And now there's an App for it. Happiness.
I learn Mark Mason has developed an App for a Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust that will measure your mood.
Quite how the Mubaloo App works apart from asking you if you're happy and then recording the answer I'm not entirely sure. But I'm reliably informed the programme will darken your mood by telling you "a good night's sleep and a balanced diet can help maintain your mood as well as keeping you fit and healthy".
What will be the upshot of all this? Probably 7.5. As a leading economist worked out, if you measure happiness it's almost always strays from 7.5 out of 10.
Well it's a better mark than most of us got at school.
Quote of the week
“I need £1000 per month for food” – Bust banker Pierre Rolin makes a bid for income in his proposed IVA. The former Credit Suisse man also put down a request for £350 per month in personal grooming.
Beeb's band aid for redundancy
The BBC has kindly offered its staff another opportunity to venture back into the real world. In a letter to News Division staff, Auntie set out its latest voluntary redundancy scheme.
It "may be of particular interest to some people aged 55 or over", the letter stated. Odd, I thought the Beeb sacked anyone over the age of 42, well the female ones anyway.
The redundancy is open to staff in bands 2 to 11. What does that mean?
"I don't know anyone at the BBC who is band 2," my mole tells me. "They must be the people that empty the ashtrays." And band 11? "I know that. They're the ones that fill them up."
Symposium to shudder at
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Coming to a conference centre near you, the Creditflux CLO Symposium.
If that means nothing to you, allow me to spell out CLOs. They are collateralised loan obligations, the pimped-up, financial fast cars that drove the credit crisis into the heart of the economy.
And they're back.
"Structuring desks are competing aggressively, managers are pricing new deals, investors are showing renewed interest and the secondary market is booming," the blurb for the conference boasts.
More worrying still, the organisation is going to be handing out awards to the people that drove their cars – into the wall.
There will awards for best CLOs created in 2005 and 2006. Strangely no sign of a gong for anything created after 2007.
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Jake Gyllenhaal flirted with Camilla Belle -- the same girl Joe Jonas dumped Taylor Swift for! How do you handle such a horrible situation?
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Jake Gyllenhaal is being downright icy if there's truth to his latest reported conquest. The hunky Love and Other Drugs star apparently indulged in some recent heavy flirting with Camilla Belle, the arch-nemesis of ex-girlfriend Taylor Swift. betrayal! How should Taylor have reacted after hearing about such an obvious betrayal?
With his breakup from Taylor still fresh in mind, Jake reportedly made the cruelest decision possible in chatting up Camilla at a Jan. 15 party. If you'll remember right, Camilla is also the girl Taylor's ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas dumped her for and the inspiration behind her song "Better Than Revenge."
Unfortunately, there's literally nothing Taylor can do to improve the situation. She can't tell Jake how much his betrayal hurts her, and she can't confront Camilla. The only thing to do is hold her head up high and bravely pretend it's not affecting her -- which is exactly what she's doing.
If anyone asks her how she feels about the two, the best -- and easiest thing to say -- would simply be: "I think they're a good fit." Don't say it bitterly or with heavy sarcasm -- keep it vague and ambiguous, leaving others wondering how your'e really feeling.
PHOTOS: Anne Hathaway Cast As Catwoman In ‘Dark Knight Rises!’ Me-OW!
This isn't a great situation to find yourself in, but at least you'll be secure in the knowledge that your breakup WAS the right thing for you in the end. Any man that would flirt with your arch-enemy isn't a man you want to be dating!
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The Amish in Florida
While you may know that the Amish are found in about 20 states, it may surprise you to learn that there are Amish in Florida. However, the existence of the Amish community there is unlike any other. As with many other Americans, some of the Amish have made Florida their temporary home during the winter months.
Levi and Amanda Yoder
Peanut Butter Cream
Jonny Wilkinson: England - not Toulon - is my life and I am loving it
Any man would be moved by the tumult that erupted at the Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday when Toulon beat Munster, but Jonny Wilkinson feels that his decision to put his international career in jeopardy by signing for Toulon until 2013 has been entirely rational and one that does not spell the end of his days in an England shirt.
A way of life: Jonny Wilkinson releaxes in Toulon where, he says, rugby is a culture issue Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Mick Cleary 7:30AM GMT 18 Jan 2011
He has also ruled out retiring from international rugby once the Rugby World Cup has run its course in October, preferring to trust in the mood of the moment to guide him.
One thing is for certain, however, his love affair with France is profound. His 18 months in the south of France have made him ‘‘a better player as well as person’’. Wilkinson has not quite turned native for he professes to ‘‘love England to bits’’, but even with the threat of players based outside England being excluded from selection following this year’s Rugby World Cup, Wilkinson had no hesitation in agreeing to a two-year extension on his contract.
He said yesterday that has had no specific discussions with Martin Johnson on the matter. “There have been no lengthy talks, more of a day-to-day thing really,” said Wilkinson, who will join up with the England squad next Sunday for a five-day training camp in Portugal. He is unsure if he is to be released for Toulon’s Top 14 game against La Rochelle the following Wednesday but there is no friction either way over the matter.
The risk to his international future did not register high on his list of priorities when it came to agreeing his new contract. Not that Wilkinson is presumptuous about England’s need of him, nor dismissive of the honour of wearing the jersey. It is just that his priorities have changed. Rugby in Toulon is more than something he does on a Saturday afternoon.
“Rugby is lived here, it becomes a very special part of you, almost as if it’s part of your family,” said Wilkinson, who was the last, as ever, to finish at training yesterday morning despite still feeling the labours of the previous day’s momentous Heineken Cup win to which he contributed 22 points.
“I didn’t quite expect it to be like this. It was like football was in Newcastle. It’s been an opportunity to start a brand new life. It would be very unnatural to think you might want to get rid of it. You have to live it daily or not at all. This is me now.’’
The fact that his presence here might impact on his England fortunes cuts little ice with Wilkinson. He commits wholly to projects and to people, or not at all. Toulon is a fixed point in his existence, unlike international rugby, which comes about only at the whim of selectors or the gods. The delight of the 2003 World Cup win turned quickly to despair as injuries assailed Wilkinson, effectively removing him from the game for several years and bringing him to a low point.
“I’ve got something here I can rely on, measure myself and my goals against,” said Wilkinson. “My ambition to be the best player I possibly could be was no longer there as I couldn’t get on a rugby field. That steady upward curve was taken away from me. My injuries became a soap opera. But no player has the right to assume anything about playing for England. That’s not me.
“Toulon has become a new life for me. I’ve had to go out and prove myself from scratch and that’s been fantastic. You’re not just playing for a team, you’re playing for a region, a way of life. You’ve got to buy into that. You can’t just flick a switch and trot out on a Saturday. It’s all or nothing.
“You might have thought that would be the way at every club. But it’s not. And that’s given me real fulfilment and pleasure. It’s made my life quite exceptional. Of course I’ll always give what I can to the England cause. But my place there needs to be merited. And for that to be the case then I have to be doing what I’m doing here because it makes me the person and the player I am. If England fits, it will be.’’
The holistic approach to life has always been the Wilkinson way. The spiritual is as important as the sporting. It is evident from the way he conducts himself and from the adulation he receives from the terraces at the Mayol that the love affair is most certainly requited.
It has always been a curious part of Wilkinson’s understated existence that the more he shuns the limelight the more it seeks him out. At least, though, he is feted throughout Toulon and the Var region for being a top-class rugby player and not for being a celebrity.
“Nobody measures me against my profile or history,” said Wilkinson, who lives in the hills above the city. “It’s all about the rugby. That’s been great. I’ve had to refresh how I do things, break them down, learn to link quickly with new players and take myself out of the fixed and certain. That’s put me under stress and I’m the better for it.
“I’ve had to dig deeper. I always liked to be 100 per cent certain of what I was doing. Here you can’t be. Even the match balls change. So you’ve got to adapt and take responsibility. I used to want to know where precisely the next meal was coming from. Now I have to live more in the unknown, think on my feet. It’s been a real adventure.”
Wilkinson, 32 this May, missed England’s autumn series because of a shoulder injury. He had lost his starting place to his former Newcastle team-mate, Leicester’s Toby Flood, at the end of last season’s Six Nations Championship. The understudy role was an unfamiliar one. Did it cause him any great angst or any feeling that it might be time to give it all away?
“In a competitive sense, of course you’re not comfortable with it,” said Wilkinson. “But I would question anyone who would be comfortable. I was never into this thing about people supposedly keeping the England shirt warm when I was injured. Whoever is playing is playing because they’ve earned the right to.
“My ethos has always been to give a team-mate the greatest opportunity to do well. I want to see Toby play to the best of his ability. If he’s not at his best, then it’s a waste. Of course, it’s a constant battle with your own competitive feelings because you want to be out there in control and making a difference. But it’s about the team succeeding. If you’re not doing your best for someone else, then you’re doing the opposite and hurting the team.”
The ultimate individual in a team sport, Wilkinson admits that he would suffer on a golf course if that were to be his chosen sport. He is supporting France’s bid to stage the 2018 Ryder Cup but admits his perfectionist bent would only cause him harm in golf.
“I’d be a shocker, an absolute shocker,” said Wilkinson, who once played to a handicap of 10 until neck, knee, shoulder, ankle and sundry other injuries intervened. “I’m delighted, though, that France is aiming to host the Ryder Cup. As I know, there’s an energy and enthusiasm for sport in France which is something else. I’m a better person for being here, that’s for sure.”
Wilkinson, il ne regrette rien.
Jonny's ticket to Ryder
Jonny Wilkinson is a supporter of the France bid to stage the Ryder Cup in 2018 at Golf National in Paris. Golfers there have agreed to a €3 levy on membership fees to help finance the bid, which is also supported by President Sarkozy.
Chinese shares slumped to drag Asian markets lower on Monday as concerns that Beijing may use monetary policy tools to restrict bank lending triggered a selloff in real estate and financial stocks.
The fall in Shanghai and elsewhere came after the People's Bank of China Friday raised banks' required reserve ratio for the seventh time since the beginning of 2009, by half of a percentage point.
"The consumer-price index is likely to rebound in January due to strong holiday demand after an expected slower growth in December, so the likelihood of another interest-rate hike is still high," said Zhang Yanbin, an analyst at Zheshang Securities.
The Shanghai Composite index slid 3% for its biggest percentage fall since Nov. 16.
The tumble caused a 1.6% fall in the Hang Seng China Enterprises index—an index of several large-capital Chinese stocks traded in Hong Kong. The benchmark Hang Seng index slid 0.5%.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average ended little changed, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.8%, South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4% and Taiwan's Taiex gave up 0.5%.
India's Sensex, one of the worst performing Asian markets so far this year, fared better than most regional peers, rising 0.1%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 11 points in screen trade. U.S. markets will be shut Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.
Leading the decliners on mainland bourses, shares of Poly Real Estate Group Co. crumbled 8.7% and China Vanke Co. shed 7%. Qingdao Haier Co. was down 9%, China Oilfield Services fell 8% and Cosco Shipping Co. was down 6.3%.
China Everbright Bank lost 5.3%, China Construction Bank lost 4.1% and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China fell 2.8% amid concerns the PBOC might increasingly use the reserve ratio as a tool to adjust banks' pace of lending. In Hong Kong, the three banks fell 1.9%, 2.1% and 1.3%, respectively.
"The People's Bank of China is shifting toward using reserve requirements as a primary tool to limit credit growth," Mark Williams, senior China economist at Capital Economics wrote in a note to clients, adding that they expect six additional reserve ratio hikes in 2011.
In Tokyo, construction-machinery makers linked to Chinese demand were also dragged down by Beijing's reserve-requirement ratio hike Friday.
Komatsu fell 1% and Hitachi Construction Machinery slid 1.3%.
Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities, said that investors will be looking to U.S. corporate earnings this week, but since a solid outcome has mostly been priced in, New York and Japan shares may fall.
In Mumbai, technology and consumer stocks helped the market recover some of its sharp recent losses.
Infosys, which fell sharply in the wake of disappointing results last week, rose 1.7%, while Tata Consultancy Services also gained 2.2% in afternoon trade. Cigarette and consumer-goods maker ITC climbed 2%.
In Sydney, weakness in mining stocks offset strength in the consumer-staples sector, though trading was quiet due to the long weekend in the U.S.
"We have definitely underperformed Wall Street, but the issue is that the U.S. market is predominantly being lifted by non-commodity-based stocks, but in Australia, any doubt about the performance of commodity prices, going forward, sees our market sell commodity-based stocks," said Macquarie Private Wealth's Marcus Droga. "There's just a bit of short-term skepticism in the market."
BHP Billiton fell 1.2% and Newcrest Mining shed 1.3%, while Woolworths gained 0.5% and Wesfarmers added 0.2%.
Gloucester Coal jumped 4.1% to $13.60 Australian dollars ($13.44), up sharply from A$10.16 on Dec. 3, when Bowen Basin coal miners declared force majeure.
In Seoul, the technology sector was lifted by investor optimism over the U.S. economic recovery and demand for electronic goods after U.S. retail-sales data showed a slight increase in December. Samsung Electronics rose 1.7% and LG Electronics gained 1.3%.
However, car and chemical makers declined on profit taking, with Hyundai Motor dropping 1.3% and LG Chem shedding 1.7%.
Taiwanese construction stocks fell on concern the government may launch more measures to cool the property market. Taiwan?s central bank lowered the loan-to-value ratio for mortgages on second homes to 60% from 70% after raising interest rates at its Dec. 30 policy meeting. Cathay Real Estate Development dropped 3.3%.
Elsewhere, New Zealand's NZX 50 fell 0.5% and Philippine stocks finished 0.4% higher.
In afternoon trading, Singapore's Straits Times index slid 0.3%, Indonesian shares lost 1.3% and Thailand's SET gave up 0.9%.
In foreign-exchange markets, the euro fell against the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen. Trade was subdued with many investors sidelined because U.S. markets were shut Monday, and many were looking to the euro-zone finance ministers? meeting as well as Chinese economic data this week for cues.
The euro was at $1.3295 compared with $1.3387 in late New York trade Friday, and at 110.19 yen, compared with 110.95 yen. The dollar was at 82.87 yen from 82.85 yen.
Lead Japanese government bond futures were down 0.17 at 139.88 points, tracking the weakness in U.S. Treasurys Friday. The benchmark 10-year yield was up 1.5 basis points at 1.210%.
Tetsuya Miura, chief market analyst at Mizuho Securities, said the benchmark 10-year JGB yield could rise to 1.230% this week from 1.200% Friday. "When you look at the external factors, the pattern of expectations for economic recovery and strong stocks have weighed considerably on considerations among (JGB) market participants," Miura said.
Spot gold was at $1,362.50 per troy ounce, up 70 cents from its New York close Friday.
February crude-oil futures were down 40 cents at $91.14 per barrel on Globex.
Hummingbird on Red Salvia_RGB3914
Ruby Throated Hummingbird feeding on Red Salvia.
Ruby Throated Hummingbird
ATLANTA -- The past two weeks, the Packers had to deal with Devin Hester and DeSean Jackson, perhaps the two most dangerous return men in the league. They limited both of them but tonight cannot sleep on Eric Weems of the Falcons.
Weems was the difference back on Nov. 28, when the Packers and Falcons appeared to be headed for overtime after Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds remaining to tie the game at 17. It never got to overtime, as Weems returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards before he was hauled down by the facemask by Green Bay's Matt Wilhelm for a 15-yard penalty. The Falcons took over on the Packers 49-yard line, Rodgers completed four short passes and Matt Bryant kicked the game-winning 47-yard field goal with nine seconds left for a 20-17 Falcons victory.
It was no accident. The diminutive Weems led the NFC (he was third in the NFL) with a kickoff return average of 27.5 yards, including a 102-yard touchdown return against the Buccaneers in Week 13. Weems this season has also had a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Panthers in the final regular-season game.
This is not a one-sided deal for the Falcons. They also cover on kickoffs, as they lead the NFL in starting position for opponents, who on average make it only to the 22.2-yard line.
Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, the No. 1 seed in the NFC is 18-2 in the divisional round. The top seed in the NFC has lost in this round two of the last three years, though. ... Rodgers has seven touchdown passes in his first two career playoff games, the most in NFL history. If he gets three TD passes tonight, Rodgers surpasses Dan Marino, Jeff George and Daryle Lamonica, who all threw nine TD passes in their first three post-season games.
The Falcons are 2-0 in playoff games at the Georgia Dome, beating the Rams 47-14 in 2004 and the 49ers 20-18 in 1998. . . . Tim Lewis, Giants coach Tom Coughlin's hand-picked first defensive coordinator with the Giants in 2004, is the Falcons defensive backs coach. . . . Packers DE Cullen Jenkins missed four straight games with a calf injury before returning for the playoffs last week but his 31 plays against the Eagles were not up to his usual standards. The Packers expect him to be much closer to form in this game. Jenkins was second on the team with seven sacks.
Youngsters cast off by the Giants can find work elsewhere. Charlie Peprah, a 2006 fifth-round draft pick of the Giants out of Alabama, never made it past training camp but he will start tonight at strong safety for the Packers. Peprah, a backup in Green Bay from 2006-08, actually spent nine weeks last season with the Falcons before returning to the Packers this season.
coach tom coughlin, yard punt return, devin hester, yard touchdown return, daryle lamonica, eric weems, matt wilhelm, jordy nelson, kickoff return, yard field goal, desean jackson, touchdown pass, nfl history, return men, matt bryant, playoff format, tim lewis, jeff george, aaron rodgers, falc
By Dennis Moore, USA TODAY
Six Oscar nominations, including a best-actress trophy.
Isn't that enough to turn an accomplished actress into a red-carpet diva? Not Sissy Spacek. She would rather reminisce about childhood summers in the hills of Northeast Texas.
She will share her stories in her first book, a memoir titled Barefoot Stories, to be published in spring 2012 by Hyperion.
PHOTOS: A Sissy Spacek gallery
"I hope it's going to be a little different from the usual celebrity memoir," she says. "I want it to be a collection of non-fiction short stories, so it's not linear. You can pick it up just anywhere and read a story about some part of my life with images and photographs and artwork and things that I have done and collected and mean something to me."
Don't expect Spacek, 61, to ignore her acting career, which ranges from 1976's supernatural thriller Carrie to the civil-rights-era drama The Help, slated for summer release.
But during her first interview about the book, it is clear that the stories that mean the most are those from her 17 years in Quitman, Texas, before she left for New York to pursue singing and acting.
She tells tales that are amusing, charming and leave the listener yearning for simpler times. Like her story about a family ritual.
"Before my dad would let us go barefoot, he would have to decide that it was warm enough for us to take our shoes off. All of the other kids in town would be running around barefoot from Easter time. Every day my (two older) brothers and I would look at each other and think maybe today's going to be the day.
"We'd go out into the backyard and Dad, he'd be real serious. He'd kneel down and feel the ground and we'd wait with bated breath to see if that was the day. Most days it wasn't the day, but finally he would give us the sign that we could take our shoes off.
"I learned that sometimes waiting for things and wanting things is even better than getting them."
She says she learned all the truths that are most important to her before she left that little town in Texas.
"There certainly have been a lot of funny things that have happened to me along the way" — such as surreptitiously riding a cow before getting the horses she so badly wanted — "but I have always felt so rooted in my childhood. And it really helped me face the challenges and the adventures that we all face during our lifetime. And I hope that when people read it, they will think about their life and their childhood."
Spacek doesn't know what all of her stories will be, but she does know they are not intended to be instructive. "I don't want to teach any lessons, because I don't know that I know more than anybody else."
Spacek says she always has been fascinated by books: novels, books about art, poetry, even self-help. She has started reading Jeannette Walls' Half Broke Horses. And she just got her friend Rodney Crowell's memoir about growing up in Texas, Chinaberry Sidewalks. Crowell is a singer/ songwriter who produced a record that Spacek made after her Oscar-winning turn as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, released in 1980.
"Of course (writing) is something that is very new for me, so at this point I know everything," Spacek says, laughing. "Talk to me in eight or nine months and I will be humbled and brought to my knees."
Spacek lives in the Virginia countryside and is married to film director and production designer Jack Fisk. They have two daughters, Schuyler, 28, and Madison, 22.
Spacek stays rooted in the South in her latest film, an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel The Help. She plays Missus Walters, the surprising sly mother of the overbearing, racially insensitive Hilly Holbrook in 1960s Jackson, Miss. Spacek calls Missus Walters "the conscience of the story. She represents the audience in dealing with Hilly."
And now the actress becomes the author. "It's just another creative medium," she says about telling stories about her life. "We all should do this for our children — just so they know we weren't perfect."qtdz
La Place Djema El-Fna
Marrakech la ville impriale du sud du Maroc en cette magnifique soire du mois de juillet 2010. Voici une nuit bien douce, de quoi faire de belles photos de la Place Djema El-Fna (la magnifique place) classe au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO en tant que patrimoine oral mondial (le premier du genre).
Ce haut-lieu touristique attire sans cesse plus d'un million de visiteurs venus pour assister aux spectacles anims par les charmeurs de serpents, les dresseurs de singes, les conteurs, les musiciens et d’autres artistes populaires (jeux, dessin au henn, etc...) du dbut de soire jusqu' l'appel de la prire de l'aube.
- Traitement photo (normal et traitement noir et blanc). Pas de photos en HDR (High dynamic range) cette fois-ci.
La Place Djema El-Fna
Place Djema El-Fna
FRANKFURT—German bank Commerzbank AG on Thursday said it will raise up to €650 million ($853.6 million) in new capital by exchanging hybrid bonds for new shares, resulting in a capital gain and an increase to its core Tier 1 ratio.
The move is the latest by a European bank to boost its capital ratios in advance of stricter regulatory requirements. The bank has been considering a capital increase for about a year, but hadn't been able to make an outright sale of new shares because of its depressed share price.
"We may, however, consider implementing further capital measures in the future," the spokesman said.
In a complicated transaction announced Thursday, Credit Suisse will buy Commerzbank preferred securities, a type of hybrid capital, on the market from investors at prices above current trading but below par value. Once the tender closes Jan. 21, Credit Suisse will hand over the tendered instruments to Commerzbank and receive shares in return that it will place with investors.
Under new capital requirements that will be introduced as Basel III, hybrid instruments can't contribute to a company's core Tier 1 capital, so by swapping the hybrid capital for new shares, Commerzbank's core Tier 1 capital can be improved.
The transaction will increase Commerzbank's roughly €6.5 billion share capital by up to 10%, minus one share, the bank said. The German government, through its German Financial Market Stabilization fund, SoFFin, has committed to maintain its 25% plus one share stake by converting silent participations it holds into shares. SoFFin plans to keep a blocking minority in Commerzbank.
People familiar with the matter said the transaction will result in an estimated capital gain of at least €300 million from buying the hybrid bonds back at a discount. They said it will add about 0.36 percentage point to the bank's core Tier 1 ratio, lifting to it around 10.25% from 9.89%.
The transaction will take some €1 billion worth of hybrid debt issued by Commerzbank off the market and replace it with 10% minus one share of equity capital, one person familiar with the matter said.
The transaction highlights the steps banks are taking to improve their capital structures before Basel III regulations crafted by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision come into effect over the next several years.
The new shares are being offered at between €5.25 and €5.35 each, one person familiar with the matter said. Earlier Thursday, the range was between €5.15 and €5.35 each, according to people in the market. Analysts said the shares fell due to concerns that future earnings-per-share will be diluted by the capital raising measures.
One analyst estimated that the bank's number of shares will be diluted by 12.5%. That is because SoFFin plans to keep a blocking minority after the capital increase and, to that end, will convert part of the silent participation it holds into equity, on top of outstanding hybrid debt that will be used as an in-kind contribution for the capital increase.
Several analysts noted that the transaction, albeit small, makes economic sense, as hybrid debt will be bought back substantially below par value while new shares are being issued at par value. However, Commerzbank's actual challenge of a substantial capital increase with fresh capital and a repayment of government debt "is still far away," said one analyst.
— Olaf Ridder in Frankfurt contributed to this article.
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224 Haithabu WHH 19-12-2010
19. Dezember 2010
Inflation is spreading across the world's largest emerging nations, leaving a noisy rattle in what have been the engines of global growth in recent years.
Central banks in Brazil, Russia, India and China, the fast-growing so-called BRIC nations now responsible for nearly a fifth of global economic activity, have all raised interest rates in recent weeks, and are testing more exotic measures to stanch rising prices, especially for food: India and Russia banned exports of onions and wheat, respectively, while China has promised price controls on items such as cooking oil.
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A farmer transports vegetables on an improvised tricycle toward a market in Kolkata Thursday. India's food inflation has picked up recently.
Brazil said Friday that its 2010 inflation rate had risen to 5.9%, its fastest rate in six years, raising the chances the nation will push its already sky-high interest rates even higher, potentially hampering growth.
To be sure, Brazil's single-digit inflation rate is a universe away from the hyperinflation it suffered in the early 1990s. And some analysts say fears of an emerging-market inflation spiral are overstated, with current inflation rates still below where they were when prices peaked before the financial crisis in 2008.
Still, the inflation trend is creating tricky policy headaches for officials from Beijing to New Delhi, including fears that rising food prices in these mostly poor nations may jeopardize social stability.
"Inflation is one of the major risks for this year," says Nicholas Kwan, economist for Standard Chartered in Hong Kong.
The accelerating price gains in the developing world contrast sharply with low inflation rates in Europe and the U.S. and persistent price declines in Japan. The divergence is partly a byproduct of the stronger economic recoveries achieved by emerging nations compared with sluggish growth in the West.
Such diverging economic fortunes are complicating inflation-fighting efforts in the developing world, economists say.
Leaders in Brazil and other countries complain that the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to pump $600 billion into the economy promotes commodity inflation and asset bubbles by weakening the dollar. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday the stimulus measure wasn't adding to inflation.
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A better-than-expected recovery in the U.S. could fuel inflation by sending a jolt of demand through the global supply chain, causing economies already running at full capacity to overheat, economists say.
"We are arriving at a juncture where policy requirements in emerging economies will be overwhelmed by advanced-economy policies," said Cornell University economist Eswar Shanker Prasad a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Brazil illustrates the case. The South American giant has set some of the world's highest interest rates in order to keep a lid on inflation as economic growth nears 7% and amid rising government spending to lift the poor.
The 10.75% rate has attracted a flood of speculative investment from the U.S. and Japan, where monetary policy is loose in order to spur growth.
As a result, the Brazilian real has soared more than 35% since 2009 against the U.S. dollar, making exports less competitive and making domestic manufacturers vulnerable to less expensive imports. To avoid raising rates further, Brazil is trying other measures such as restricting credit by raising bank reserve requirements.
The issue is a major test for the brand-new government of Dilma Rousseff. Though Ms. Rousseff campaigned on expanded welfare spending, she is now contemplating politically risky spending restraints to shrink deficits and cool the economy.
In developing countries, price rises, especially for food, can have a big impact. Because incomes are lower than in the developed world, food and energy make up substantial part of household spending—and most emerging-market inflation measures. Food prices globally hit an all-time high in December, according to a United Nations index.
And there are signs that the increase in food prices is not abating as some had expected, and that price increases are creeping into the broader part of some economies. China's 5.1% consumer-price inflation rate in November was driven mostly by food prices, which rose 11.7%. But the so-called core inflation rate, which excludes energy and food, rose as well, up 1.9% from a year earlier
China has introduced a raft of measures to tamp prices, including two interest-rate increases, a slightly stronger currency, tighter bank lending, price controls, and efforts to clamp down on illegal speculation in food. Chinese officials have signaled they will continue to tighten to tame inflation.
Kong Ong, Hong Kong owner of Headquarters Industrial Ltd., which makes more than a million hats a year on the mainland for export to the U.S. and Germany, says rising prices material prices and wages are concerns. Cotton, which is 30-40% of his costs, hit record highs last year. Prevailing wages have risen and he expects them to go up again this year. And living costs are keeping migrant workers closer to home.
"When the inflation rate is too high, workers don't want to come to the big cities because the big cities the living cost is too high," he says. In India, where high food prices drove inflation for much of 2010, expectations had been that a solid harvest for rice and other staples would ease the pressure. But the latest government data show the food situation hasn't been resolved and food-price inflation has jumped in India of late, reaching 18% in the week ended Dec. 25, according to figures released this week. Economists say the Reserve Bank of India, after raising interest rates six times in 2010, will almost certainly tighten again when it meets Jan. 25 for a regular policy meeting.
India's economy is expected to grow by 8.75% in the year ending March 31, according to an International Monetary Fund report issued Thursday. But inflation is threatening to undermine the economic gains for hundreds of millions of poor and less well-off Indians.The government has scrambled to take measures to alleviate the food-price increases, for instance banning the export of onions.
What's more, officials across emerging markets are concerned that price increases may erode the hard-won credibility of central banks and lead to increased inflation expectations among locals.
Amrith Mathur, a 36-year-old software engineer buying vegetables at a wholesale market in New Delhi Friday morning, says the price rises have virtually canceled out salary increases.
"I got a paltry increment of 5% in salary after a gap of two years this year, but thanks to the prices of essential commodities which have skyrocketed, the rise is as good as nil," he said. "How can the government achieve their tall growth target of 9%-10% if the people's spending power is getting lesser and lesser by the day," he said.
In Russia, summer droughts sent wheat prices skyrocketing and undermined the government's goal of keeping inflation in the 6%-7% range in 2010. Russia reported this week that consumer prices rose a faster-than-expected 1% in December from November and 8.7% over the past year, raising expectations for interest-rate increases in the coming months.
Other large emerging economies also have seen prices rise faster than expected in recent months. Peru surprised with a rate increase this week, and Mexico reported faster-than-expected inflation of 4.4%. Thailand is expected to raise interest rates next week. South Korea has also said it will unveil a package of policies to tackle rising prices next week.
Indonesia's consumer-inflation rate hit 7% in December, a 20-month high and the fourth time in six months prices outpaced the central bank's 4%-6% target. The central bank has yet to raise interest rates since the recovery began in 2009, figuring higher rates will have little effect on food prices.
—Ira Iosebashvili and Robb Stewart contributed to this article.