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terça-feira, 21 de abril de 2009

How to Get in Shape Jihadi Style

A new pro al-Qaeda magazine for extremists is offering fitness tips to jihadists planning attacks against Americans in countries such as Afghanistan.

Photo: How to Get in Shape Jihadi Style: A New Pro Al-Qaeda Magazine for Extremists is Offering Fitness Tips to Jihadists
A new pro al-Qaeda magazine for extremists is offering fitness tips to jihadists planning attacks against Americans in countries such as Afghanistan.
(ABC Photo Illustration)

The first edition out this month offers workout tips to get buff with the aim "to train as hard as possible in order to damage the enemies of Allah as much as possible."

The English language e-zine, Jihad Recollections, is about 70 pages long and is thought to be produced by an American living in North Carolina. It claims to have articles written by Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Pull-ups, walking on your hands and crawling long distances are just some of the suggested exercises that come along with illustrations of white-robed men with scarves covering their faces…perhaps not the most comfortable of work-out clothing.

Ashleigh Prince, a fitness instructor at Virgin Active gyms in London, told ABC News.com that he wouldn't recommend exercising in loose-fitting clothing. "This just isn't very practical and I would advise against it as it could get caught, causing injury."

Readers are advised to avoid weights during training because they aren't available on the front line. They are also told to stay away from the gym because of the "un-Islamic" music and the presence of "semi-naked women," and to carry on even if they feel exhausted "for Allah's sake."

As well as cardio training, such as jogging, readers are also urged to strengthen their legs as they will need to "carry weapons and equipment."

The article explains the importance of being swift on your feet "especially during raids on the enemy" and cites examples of successful attacks where speed was essential.

So does the Jihadist work-out hold up? Fitness instructor Prince has a few problems with it. "I don't see the benefits of walking on your hands or crawling at all -- it would be much more beneficial to do other types of exercises to build strength, such as push-ups."

He added, "It's not really good enough not to use weights if you're looking to tone up but then it depends what your goals are and working out until you're exhausted is just dangerous."

What Should a Jihadist Eat?

There are also diet tips such as staying away from protein shakes. The writer points out, "Contrary to what many people believe, you really only need about 32 grams of protein."

Light foods such as dates, water and crackers are suggested and the writer warns to ignore the advice of western fitness instructors about eating more in order to gain weight for muscle.

Prince said "You do need to consume more if you want your energy levels to go up and you do need to eat if you don't feel hungry otherwise your energy levels won't carry you through the increased training."

Do I look fat in this suicide vest? Well not anymore.

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26/10/2008 free counters

Michael Carrick: The BMW, the Merc - and the supercar that nearly killed me

Michael Carrick started with a Fiesta, nearly came a cropper in an 8.0-litre Dodge Viper, then moved on to Bond's Aston Martin. But you'll never guess what the 80K-a-week England star's now got parked in his garage

By Mike Pattenden

Michael Carrick

'I am privileged, I know, but no more so than many people. Where I live now, in Cheshire, I see nice cars all the time - Mercedes, BMWs, Bentleys... They're not all being driven by footballers,' says Michael Carrick

They say you can tell a lot about a man by the car he drives. Cristiano Ronaldo piloting a Ferrari makes perfect sense, but can you imagine the stately, composed England and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick behind the wheel of an 8.0-litre V10 Dodge Viper?

Yet the Geordie happily cruised around in one of Chrysler's steroidal monsters for years.

'It's not me at all,' he admits, leaning on the one Live has borrowed for today's photo-shoot.

'I'm not the type, but when I first saw it I knew I had to have it.'

Carrick was just 20 at the time and had only recently established himself in West Ham United's first team.

'I wanted something different from all the other players, and my agent knew someone at Chrysler,' he recalls.

'I don't know what I was expecting, but this guy drove it over to my house in Romford, Essex. I heard a roar and looked out the window at this beast, and I was absolutely gobsmacked. All my mates wanted rides. I thought to myself, "This is the one!"

'I remember arriving at training in it and the staff being a bit shocked. They thought my head had gone.'

But Carrick, 27, whose first car was a more mild-mannered Fiesta, says he wasn't prepared for the brute power a little prod of the Viper's accelerator could unleash.

Michael Carrick

Like many of his Premier League colleagues, Carrick loves cars, but his life on the road seems out of sync with his career on the pitch

'On the first day I had it I was with Richard Garcia (now at Hull City) on a quiet stretch of road and I decided to put my foot down. I didn't have the wheels straight and suddenly the car was zigzagging all over the place.

'Finally I got it under control and stopped. We both sat there in silence for a while, then looked at each other. I took a deep breath and said, "We'll give that a miss then, eh?"

'For the next few weeks I don't think I made it out of third. It was left-hand drive, too, which made overtaking a bit of a challenge. I'd say "Give us a shout when it's all right to go" to whoever was with me. I scared the living daylights out of a few of them.

'The thing is, with a car like that, you think you're in control, but you're not.'

Like many of his Premier League colleagues, Carrick loves cars, but his life on the road seems out of sync with his career on the pitch. He earns £80,000 a week and is close to his peak - the winner of two Premier Leagues and a Champions League - yet he drives a relatively modest Audi A6. In car terms, he probably peaked five years ago with the Mercedes SL 55 AMG that replaced the Dodge, and an Aston Martin he owned while at Spurs.

It's probably just as well that he's gone for the more sensible Audi now, as Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson frowns on players swanning around in exotic supercars.

Michael Carrick

'Sir Alex keeps the young lads in close check,' says Carrick.

'He lets them know what he thinks if they get out of hand, but to be honest, if you go into the car park at Carrington (the team training ground) it's not all sports cars anyway.

'That's a bit of a myth. Ronaldo's aside, they're mostly Range Rovers and BMWs, family cars for the most part. They're nice, but not showy.'

Michael Carrick

He takes me to the car park to see his grey Audi estate - 'the company car', as he calls it. The reason for its size is revealed by a Tigger suckered to the rear window bearing the legend 'Baby On Board'. Carrick married his long-term girlfriend Lisa in June 2007 and they have a one-year-old daughter, Louise.

'As soon as you have a baby you need something with four doors,' he says.

'You can't be leaning in all the time. My back would be all over the place.'

He knows that he's lucky to be paid handsomely for doing something he loves.

'I am privileged, I know, but no more so than many people. Where I live now, in Cheshire, I see nice cars all the time - Mercedes, BMWs, Bentleys... They're not all being driven by footballers.

'As long as there's no arrogance about it I think it's OK. Some people don't have anything like my sort of money and dream about having a nice car. As a footballer you have to be aware of that and how you go about things. It's a difficult one.

'We're just normal people who happen to play football. It doesn't make you superior. When I go back to Newcastle my mates don't care what I'm driving.'

Carrick grew up in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear. By the age of five he was training with Wallsend Boys Club. Ten years later he left to join West Ham's renowned youth academy.

'The first few months I was homesick, but the banter was fantastic. I loved being around the training ground with the lads. I'd listen to all the Essex boys and Cockneys joking away, yet we all had jobs to do: cleaning the changing rooms, picking up the kit, washing the balls, moving the gear. If someone didn't do their job properly you were all held accountable and you'd be kept behind. It helped us bond together, improve the spirit. It's a shame they don't do that with juniors any more. They were some of my best times.'

Carrick has a genuine love for his first club. At 17 he signed professionally with the Hammers and moved to a rented house in Romford.

'My wages jumped from £42.50 to £350 a week. I felt like a king, especially because I was the youngest in the year and all the others had signed their pro forms before me. That killed me, because they were getting good money and I wasn't.'

Michael Carrick

This being Essex, he had to have a set of wheels. First he needed a driving licence, but that turned out to be little more than a formality.

'The examiner who passed me was a hardcore West Ham fan who was also a steward at the ground. I passed just by turning up,' he laughs.

He bought a second-hand silver Fiesta Ghia.

'It didn't even have a CD player. I had one of those tapes with the wires that go in and I'd have my little personal stereo sitting on the passenger seat.

'The first week I had it I drove back up to Newcastle and picked up a few of my mates. That was chaotic as I'd hardly done any driving at that point, so I kept kangarooing up the road. I took a lot of stick from them.'

The Fiesta lasted nearly two years and was replaced by a second-hand BMW 328.

'I gave the Fiesta to my dad, thinking I'd done him a favour,' he says.

'He took it into the garage and got stung with a big bill because I hadn't ever had it serviced. It needed new brakes, tyres, the lot.

'After that I got into BMWs. I had the 328, then one of the first X5s. I was absolutely buzzing when I got that. It was my first really nice new car.'

Carrick took delivery of the Dodge next, but though he could indulge his passion for cars, his career was stuck in second gear. West Ham were relegated and he suffered a string of injuries. Having broken into the England squad at 19, he now found himself playing down a division while team-mates such as Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe moved back to Premier League clubs.

'It was the hardest year in football I've ever had, but I wouldn't change it,' he says.

'It was character-forming. Getting back into the England squad the second time meant so much more.'

In 2004 Carrick moved to Spurs for £2.75 million and took delivery of a Mercedes SL 55 AMG.

'I had the Dodge serviced, but it was never the same afterwards. I don't go under the bonnet. Haven't a clue. But it still took me ages to let it go. I couldn't bring myself to part with it. But I bought the Merc and drove the Dodge less and less. My missus said, "Look, it's just sitting there", so I sold it.

'The Merc was beautiful, really powerful but in a different way to the Dodge. It was classier. You couldn't wear anything nice in the Dodge; it just felt wrong. Also, the Merc was a convertible, and because I was down south you could actually put the top back occasionally. You don't get much chance to do that in Manchester.'

Michael Carrick

Carrick was at Spurs for just two seasons. He was a key figure as the team charged towards a Champions League spot, only to miss out on the final day of the season to his old club after an outbreak of food poisoning.

'I was in a terrible state for that last game. The hotel we were staying in was a disaster area. People were being sick all over; food specialists were called in, police; directors were running around panicking. It was like a scene from Dream Team.'

But his passing skills had attracted the admiration of Sir Alex Ferguson, and on July 31, 2006, he moved to Old Trafford for £18.6 million.

'It was all agreed late on a Friday night. I packed a couple of suitcases and drove north in my Aston Martin DB9 on the Sunday with my girlfriend and I never went back. She sorted out everything and I never saw the house in Essex again.'

Carrick has thrived in red since, but the Aston didn't survive the upheaval.

'It looked nice, but I just couldn't warm to it. Eventually I changed it for a CL 63 AMG. I had one of the M-Class 4x4s as well, which came in handy when I did a spot of road-crewing for my brother-in-law. He's in a band called The SoundEx up in Newcastle. They're really good, but it's such a tough industry to make your way in.

'I try to help out when I can. Lug around the gear for them, that sort of thing.'

Given his need for speed, Carrick has inevitably indulged in some track days at race circuits, during which you can try out a succession of supercars.

'I did one recently with my dad and brother (Graeme, a former young professional whose career was ended by injury) up in Croft, North Yorkshire.

'We had the place pretty much to ourselves, but I managed to put one car into the barrier. I was so embarrassed. I'd already been in a Formula Ford, a Caterham and a Ferrari, then I slid off in a two-seater Ginetta G20. It wasn't bad, but I just lost it a bit and hit the front wing. Fortunately the people there were great about it. It's about the only knock I've ever had driving - although I scraped the Dodge once in an NCP because it was so low.'

With Man United chasing an unprecedented quintuple this season (FA Cup, Premier League, Champions League, Carling Cup, Fifa Club World Cup), will he treat himself to something special if they succeed?

'Perhaps. Maybe I'll get a Ferrari like the one Ronaldo had. That's probably going cheap somewhere,' he laughs, alluding to the accident in which the Portuguese player wrote off his 599 GTB.

And with that, Carrick climbs into the Audi and pulls away with a touch of wheelspin - all that's left of his boy-racer roots.

Michael Carrick is a supporter of the NSPCC and its service ChildLine.

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26/10/2008 free counters

Cosmic close-up: Sensational images of Saturn show the ringed planet in incredible detail

By Cher Thornhill
Last updated at 8:37 PM on 21st April 2009

These stunning images of Saturn taken by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft show the ringed planet, its moons and rings in the most incredible detail yet.

Extraordinary glimpses of the planet's atmosphere and surfaces add to our expanding understanding of the sixth planet in the solar system, as the Equinox mission approaches its second year.

The images show the incredible differences within the Saturn system. In one image, serene-looking rings are elegantly stacked up around its equator, making a striking contrast to the cratered appearance of its plethora of moons.



This image was taken by Cassini as it moved above the dark side of the planet. As very little light makes its way through the rings, they appear somewhat dark compared with the reflective surface of Saturn. This view combines 45 images taken over the course of about two hours


Pan, a 17-mile-wide moon coasts into view from behind Saturn (the small white dot within the black horizontal strip in the centre of the image). This photograph was captured from a distance of 1.1million miles away

The body of the planet itself cuts an even more striking contrast with its moons, with swirling vortexes revealing a seething cauldron of activity. It also shows its largest moon, Titan, to have intriguing parallels with Earth.

‘We're looking at a string of remarkable discoveries - about Saturn's magnificent rings, its amazing moons, its dynamic magnetosphere and about Titan's surface and atmosphere,’ said Dr. Linda Spilker, deputy project scientist.


Rhea, another moon, drifts in front of Saturn. The image was taken at a distance of approximately 358,000 miles away


The Cassini spacecraft looks through Saturn's translucent inner C ring to capture its yellow-blue atmosphere

‘Some of the mission highlights so far include discovering that Titan (Saturn's largest moon) has Earth-like processes and that the small moon Enceladus has a hot-spot at its southern pole - jets on the surface that spew out ice crystals and evidence of liquid water beneath its surface.’

The Cassini spacecraft first blasted off from Earth in 1999. In the first five years of its illuminating voyage, it photographed the moon, Mars and Jupiter, only approaching Saturn on June 30, 2004.

The first close-up study of the ringed planet, which ended in June last year, provided such opportunities for exploration and discovery that the space agency extended it for another two years.


One of Saturn's moons, Rhea, passes in front of the planet's largest moon, Titan (lit from behind by the Sun). The Cassini mission found Titan to have parallels with Earth.


This composite of two images shows Pan, left, and Prometheus, right, in nearby rings. Pan is trailed by a series of edge waves in the outer boundary of the gap. Prometheus just touches the inner edge of Saturn's F ring, and is followed by a series of dark channels


This image was taken during Cassini's close approach to the moon Iapetus. It was taken with a wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 2,400 miles

The extended mission has been called ‘Cassini Equinox’ in anticipation of Saturn’s approaching equinox in August this year, when its equator and planetary rings will align vertically below the sun.

Saturn’s equinox, like that of Earth, is a period of change in the planetary system.

The space agency believes monitoring seasonal shifts in the atmosphere, oceans and land at that time is critical to gain the most insight into the planet’s workings.


Cassini tracks the moon Prometheus as it orbits Saturn. Prometheus is just about to pass behind the planet, and a faint streamer of ring material lies below and to the right of it, in the faint, inner strand of the F ring


Saturn's high north is a seething cauldron of rolling cloud bands and swirling vortices. This image was taken at a distance of approximately 336,000 miles

During the extended mission, the spacecraft will orbit Saturn a further 60 times, fly past Saturn's moon Titan 26 more times, Eleceladus seven, and once past each of the moons Dione, Rhea and Helene.

Using a collection of powerful instruments, Cassini scientists will focus on seasonal changes in particular on Titan and Saturn, and unique ring events during the passing of the equinox, including the shadows seen in the rings as the sun passes.

The complex Saturn system has 61 known moons plus hundreds of ‘moonlets’ concealed within its rings.


Small, battered Epimetheus before Saturn's A and F rings, and and smog-enshrouded Titan beyond. The colours here are artificial in order to approximate the scene as it might appear to human eyes


This bizarre scene shows the cloud-streaked area of Saturn in front of the planet's B ring. The ring's image is warped by the diffuse gas in Saturn's upper atmosphere

Observations of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, have shed new light on the likely appearance of Earth before life evolved, Nasa believes.

Experts claim the many parallels can be seen in its land formations, which include lakes, rivers, dunes, mountains and possibly volcanoes.

Weather patterns also show striking similarity to those on our own planet, with clouds, rain and snow.


This image shows Saturn's rings and the shadow of nearby Mimas. They are now nearly edge-on toward the Sun, and long moon shadows drape across them. Scientists are now studying the clumpy, disturbed ring material, stretching up to two miles above the ring plane - contrasted with an estimated normal ring thickness of only six feet


This image shows Saturn through the thick smoggy haze of the upper atmosphere from its largest moon, Titan


The shadow of Tethys drifts across the face of Saturn. Nearby, shadows of the planet's rings form a darkened band above the equator


Saturn's northern hemisphere is seen here against its nested rings. The rings have been brightened relative to the planet to enhance visibility


Stars provide a serene background in this view of Enceladus while it was in eclipse, with Saturn's shadow moving over it. The view shows the moon's south pole


In this image of Saturn's F ring, taken shortly after its ring particles encountered the shepherd moon Prometheus, the disruption to the ring caused by the moon is evident. The bright core of the ring and its neighbouring faint strands show kinks where the moon's gravity has altered the orbits of the ring particles


Cassini looks toward Rhea's cratered, icy landscape with the dark line of Saturn's ringplane and the planet's murky atmosphere as a background. Rhea is Saturn's second-largest moon


The spacecraft Cassini looks through the fine, smoke-sized ice particles of Saturn's F ring toward the cratered face of Mimas


Mimas appears to hover above the colourful rings. The large crater seen on the right side of the moon is named after William Herschel, who discovered Mimas in 1789

Watch video here

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26/10/2008 free counters

Meet Nicole's younger sister: Is this what Ms Kidman would look like without the Hollywood treatment?

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:22 PM on 21st April 2009

If you want proof of the difference a Hollywood lifestyle can make, take a look at Nicole Kidman and her sister.

As she posed at an Australian awards ceremony last night, Antonia Kidman looked older than her famous film star sibling.

But at 38, Antonia is actually three years younger than 41-year-old Nicole.

Difference: Antonia Kidman, 38, left, poses at an awards ceremony in Australia. She looks a few years older than smooth-skinned Nicole, 41, but is in fact the younger sibling

The Moulin Rouge! actress, whose ivory complexion always looks smooth and unlined, has denied persistent rumours that she has had surgery to stay looking so remarkably youthful.

Antonia, a journalist and TV presenter in Australia, showed off her slim figure in a short black dress and killer heels.

The mother-of-four didn't take home any gongs, despite winning favourite female at last year's ASTRA awards.

Antonia Kidman

The TV presenter and journalist didn't take home any gongs at yesterday's ASTRA awards, despite winning 'favourite female' last year

Nicole, who wasn't at the ceremony in Sydney, has spoken about how having fair skin shaped her personality, and stressed that she can't stand being in the sun.

She said: 'When you're in Australia, you spend a lot of time inside if you're fair-skinned because you burn.

'My mum would keep me indoors, and I would read books as I wasn't able to go to the beach very often. I always felt like I wasn't the cool girl at school.'

Antonia Kidman
Nicole Kidman

Red carpet glamour: Antonia at yesterday's awards, left, and her sister at the Oscars in February, right. Nicole has denied having surgery to stay youthful

She has also declared that she would never resort to Botox or 'go down the plastic route', saying: 'For an actor, facial expressions and emotions are really important.

'That's why I'll never have Botox. I've always been against that and seeing Botox on TV with all the swelling and pain put me off it anyway.

'The directors always allow actors with Botox but I just say. "No way, not for me".

'Drinking lots of water, eating fruit and doing yoga is what keeps me looking young naturally. I swear by it.

Enlarge Nicole and Antonia Kidman

Close: The sisters out shopping in 2002

'I also use creams with natural ingredients to make wrinkles less visible. Everybody should try these things rather than going the plastic route, which I just hate.'

Some cosmetic surgeons have expressed doubt over her denials, however, with Dr Martin Braun last year saying he believed she was an 'enthusiastic user' of Botox.

The sisters have no other siblings and are very close to each other.

Antonia was a bridesmaid at Nicole's wedding to country singer Keith Urban in 2006, and later that year flew from her home to Sydney to be by Nicole's side to help her cope with her husband's alcoholism.

She also comforted her through her split with Tom Cruise in 2001.

In turn, Nicole helped Antonia through her own break-up with husband Angus Hawley in 2007, and is godmother to all four of her children.

The painful split occurred shortly after the birth of Antonia's fourth child, Sybella.

Angus did a stint in rehab for drug addiction and depression that same year.

Nicole told USA Today: '[Antonia] has been through a tough time recently, so I've been really blessed to be able to be there and help raise her kids, help with her children.'

The sisters also spent Easter together, along with other family members, in Nicole's £3million retreat in New South Wales, Australia.

The movie star has said of Antonia in the past: 'She's my best friend.

'I always say to her that I'm always there for her. We've been through a lot together, she and I.

'For a long time, we were each other's sole source of comfort.'

Although a celebrity in her own right, Antonia is less famous than her older sibling, but has said she has made peace with critics who accuse her of using Nicole's name to further her career.

In 2002 she said: 'While there are some parts of having Nic as a sister that have a downside - like people criticising me - there's so much upside that you just have to accept it.'

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26/10/2008 free counters

PICTURE SPECIAL: Wimbledon raises roof and prize money as new Centre Court is unveiled at SW19

By Sportsmail Reporter Last updated at 5:45 PM on 21st April 2009

Defending champions Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams cannot fail to be impressed when they walk on to Centre Court to defend their Wimbledon titles in eight weeks' time.

For a start, they will receive a bumper pay rise of £100,000 - taking home £850,000 each, a 13.3per cent increase on 2008 - if they can lift the singles crowns for a second year running.

And they will find a Wimbledon championship and a refurbished Centre Court arena, with its new state-of-the-art roof, that is defying the deepest recession in a century.

Enlarge Chief groundsman Eddie Seaward admires the new roof on Centre Court

Raising the roof: Chief groundsman Eddie Seaward admires the new roof on Centre Court

Wimbledon will not put a figure on the cost of the new retractable roof, which was unveiled in a closed position for the first time, revealing a surprisingly light, plush and airy arena, even if the white metal trusses and the fabric concertina do not exactly conform to tradition.


  • The roof takes 10 minutes to close
  • It is 16 metres above the court surface
  • The maximum time before play can start or continue after the roof is closed and the internal environment stabilised is 30 minutes
  • 43 miles per hour - the wind speed up to which the roof can be deployed/retracted
  • The span of the moving roof trusses is 77 metres
  • And the weight of each of the 10 trusses is 100 tonnes
  • 1,200 extra seats have been installed
  • The combined weight of the roof is 3,000 tonnes
  • It would take 7,500 Wimbledon umbrellas to cover the same area as the roof
  • 290 million tennis balls could fit in Centre Court with the roof closed

Tennis fans, however, have already voted with their wallets. Applications for Wimbledon's public ballot are 20per cent up on last year, while all 15,000 tickets sold out within five minutes for the May 17 test event when the roof will be closed and air-conditioning tested in a mini-tournament involving Tim Henman, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters, which will be screened on BBC2.

The roof is bound to be the subject of most attention, although Wimbledon have no plans to play night matches, as in New York and Melbourne, nor to shut the roof unless entirely necessary.

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, said: "We'd prefer to play outdoors. If we can, we would prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible.

"But, if we start with it shut, we will finish with it shut. The opening and closing is at the discretion of the referee, as at other grand slams."

The structure takes around 10 minutes to close but it takes 40 minutes or so to stabilise the crucial airflow system, which means some potentially tricky decisions for tournament referee Andrew Jarrett. Such as whether to start with the roof closed if rain is forecast for later in the afternoon.

The revamped arena stands next to Court 1 (left)

Spectacular: The revamped arena stands next to Court 1 (left)

And whether to pull on the covers and sit out a potentially minor delay, or close the roof immediately if light rain interferes with a match. Ritchie, however, is confident Jarrett, a former Davis Cup player, can cope.

'It's Andy's fourth year and we are absolutely confident in him,' said Ritchie. 'We have the bodies with more than enough experience when it comes to closing the roof. Now we've got it, it's a racing certainty we'll have 13 days of sunshine this year anyway.'

A Wimbledon official admires the renovated Centre Court at SW19

Standing guard: A Wimbledon official admires the renovated Centre Court at SW19

The roof will allow all Centre Court matches to be completed on the day and there is no restriction on what time play can finish. So, theoretically, a five-set men's singles starting at 7pm could go on past 11pm.

Wimbledon chairman Tim Phillips also insisted there were no plans to use Wimbledon for other events such as concerts, which have been blamed partly for the problems encountered with the pitch at Wembley.

The new roof will save spectators and players from the elements at this year's Championships in June

All covered: The new roof will save spectators and players from the elements at this year's Championships in June

Head Wimbledon groundsman Eddie Seaward

Vested interest: Head Wimbledon groundsman Eddie Seaward

Lights to promote grass growth are located on Centre Court, and Phillips said: "It is difficult to say never but the Centre Court is unique in the sporting world and our intention is to go on using it just for tennis."

The chairman also denied there were any plans to rip up the famous Wimbledon grass to fall in line with other grand slam surfaces.

He said: "The game is lawn tennis. It was invented as lawn tennis. We have got the inclination, the time and the resources to prepare the grass properly. "In this day and age, when players are complaining about the wear and tear of hard courts and there are already a load of tournaments on clay, it is important to continue to remember our heritage and support grass."

He also defended the hike in prize money, which sees the total pot increase by 6.2per cent to £12.55million, with the biggest increases of 13.3per cent going to those who reach the last eight, but even first-round singles losers taking home £10,750.

Phillips said: "It is the name players who drive interest in Wimbledon and in tennis. We are an international tournament and tennis is an international sport. "We have to be mindful that this time last year the exchange rate was two (US) dollars to the pound and now it is under one and a half to the pound."

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26/10/2008 free counters

New report finds Latinos in South frequently victims of abuses, discrimination

Posted by Erin Stock -- Birmingham News April 21, 2009 12:53 PM

Children at Birmingham'sCentral Park Elementary School put on a celebration of Hispanic culture, shown in this 2008 file photo.
Poor Latinos in the South routinely experience wage theft, racial profiling, and other discrimination, a report released today from the Southern Poverty Law Center says.

The Montgomery, Alabama-based, civil rights nonprofit surveyed 500 Latinos in five communities, including more than 100 people in Alabama. Respondents included legal residents, illegal immigrants and U.S. citizens.

Findings include:

• Nearly 50 percent of respondents knew someone who had been treated unfairly by police.

• 77 percent of the women who responded said sexual harassment was a major workplace problem.

• 41 percent surveyed had not been paid for work, a figure that climbed to 80 percent in New Orleans.

• Two-thirds of respondents said they had been made to feel unwelcome by others in the community, while 68 percent said they encountered on a regular basis what they perceived as racism -- from "looks" to physical abuse.

• 46 percent of those reporting a court experience said there was no interpreter.

The report, "Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South," called north Alabama an example of how local laws erode Latinos' trust in law enforcement.

In Alabama, 55 percent of respondents said there are police checkpoints where they live. Municipalities in the region have ordinances that allow law enforcement to impound vehicles when a driver cannot prove his or her legal status.

"Road blocks are set up in a way where particular communities are targeted so people feel like they can't even leave the house," said Mary Bauer, the director of SPLC's Immigrant Justice Project and the author of the report.

The report details cases that include police jailing a Tennessee mother when she asked to be paid for her work in a cheese factory, police in Alabama confiscating a migrant bean picker's life savings during a traffic stop, and a rapist in Georgia going unpunished when the 13-year-old victim's family was afraid to report the crime because she was in the country illegally.

"So long as we have this kind of large underclass living in the shadows, this kind of abuse will flourish," Bauer said.

SPLC researchers in the state interviewed people in Hoover, Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence, Russellville and Albertville. They also surveyed people in Nashville, Charlotte, New Orleans and rural southern Georgia.

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26/10/2008 free counters

Earthquake reported in Alabama near Alabaster

Posted by Staff reports April 21, 2009 6:58 AM

Categories: Breaking News
ALABASTER, AL. -- A magnitude 3.8 earthquake has struck near Alabaster today according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck around 5:25 a.m. today and could be felt all around Birmingham.

The quake's epiccenter was 7 miles north of Centreville near the intersection of highways 5 and 219. The depth was 8.8 miles below the earth's surface.

The earthquake was 25 miles southwest of Alabaster, 30 miles east southeast of Tuscaloosa and 40 miles south southwest of Birmingham.

No damage has been reported.

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26/10/2008 free counters

Stripper Impersonates High School Alum: Classmates Learn About Reunion Prank on YouTube

Andrea Wachner Asked a Pole Dancer to Impersonate Her at Her 10-Year Reunion

When the invitation arrived in the mail, Andrea Wachner said she was "aghast." Attend her 10-year high school reunion? Never.

Photo: Classmates Punked at High School Reunion: Andrea Wachner Asked a Pole Dancer to Impersonate Her at the 10-Year Reunion
Andrea Wachner, left, asked a pole dancer named Cricket, right, to impersonate her at a 10-year high school reunion.
(Christina Von Messling)

Walking into a roomful of past acquaintances can elicit nail-biting anxiety, especially when the No. 1 question on everyone's lips is: "What do you do?" Wachner, a freelance comedy writer, was no exception.

So, rather than attend her reunion, Wachner, 31, sent someone else in her place, a stripper, and made a documentary about it.

"I Remember Andrea" wasn't picked up by the film festivals this go-around, but Wachner did find a manager who took interest in her project. They are shopping it around as a reality TV show or a narrative feature.

Now, Wachner's memories of her hometown, Palos Verdes, will be forever associated with the launch of her filmmaking career -- and a scantily dressed woman named Cricket. High school may have been, as Wachner said, "brutal," but her first film was born out of those awkward memories. Already, she's begun inching her way past Hollywood's notoriously difficult barriers.

'There Was Just an Incredible Amount of Pressure'

Her decision to make the film surprised family and friends, initially.

"I thought it was a little out there. A little odd," Wachner's mother said of her daughter's project when she was interviewed for the film.

Wachner's prank generated an outcry from other '95 alums when she posted clips on YouTube from her 40-minute documentary.

"There's definitely a contingency of people who hate me because of this," she said.

Raised in swanky Palos Verdes, a bedroom community for Los Angeles' professional set, Wachner acknowledged having been fortunate enough to grow up someplace "beautiful and safe," even if it could be "pretty sheltered and homogenous."

Surrounded by high-achieving, well-to-do students, Wachner found her niche in the drama clique.

"It was enormous, competition was fierce, there was just an incredible amount of pressure -- for grades, for everything," Wachner said. "I can't think of one thing you could do there where you weren't competing against hundreds of other kids. I didn't really relate to a lot of what the others accepted as the norm, and I was OK with that -- it just didn't make it great. Most of the girls I knew had eating disorders. A huge percentage.

"I'm not scarred by it. It wasn't torture. It was not a miserable experience. But I think high school in and of itself is kind of awful," she said.

Stripper Scouting: A Crazy Night

On the day of the reunion, Wachner brought a crew, two cameramen and a sound technician to the Marriott Hotel in Torrance, Calif., and set up near the festivities. She also brought her yearbook to aid in identifying the attendees.

In the film, Wachner's mom left her with this advice, "If you get arrested, don't call me."

Photo: Classmates Punked at High School Reunion: Andrea Wachner Asked a Pole Dancer to Impersonate Her at the 10-Year Reunion
As the events of the night unfolded Andrea Wachner watched the ups and downs on a small monitor in a... Expand
(Courtesy Andrea Wachner)

Cricket showed up in a burlesque outfit: fishnets, a tight black dress that resembled a slip, and tall black spike-heeled boots. Her visible tattoos and short jet-black hair, accented with a purple flower, only added to her look, which differed markedly from the formal attire of the other reunion attendees.

Cricket and Andrea had met in Jumbo's Clown Room in Hollywood, Calif., a night Andrea described as one of the craziest of her life.

Wachner and a friend watched the dancers perform one by one, but the older, African-American and Asian women who came on the stage did not in any way remotely resemble the actual Andrea Wachner, a petite olive-skinned brunette with thick, black-rimmed glasses.

Then she saw Cricket, 30, whose birth name is Amy Bernadette Russell. Cricket wasn't a stripper, but she was known for being a "little daredevil." At Jumbo's Cricket consistently wowed audiences with elaborate pole tricks and balancing acts.

Right away, Wachner knew she'd found her girl.

Reconstructive Surgery?

The camera crew that followed Cricket to the reunion also drew stares from the crowd. She told the curious alums that they were filming a documentary about artists called "Work to Live, Live to Work."

As Cricket surveyed the scene, she communicated with Wachner through an earpiece.

"She was coaching me the whole time -- and every time she said, 'That's great,' it just made me feel stronger," Cricket said. "No one could question me. What could they do, take a DNA sample?"

Cricket told the reunion attendees that she'd had reconstructive surgery and also suffered from amnesia. It wasn't completely unbelievable, because some had already heard that the real-life Wachner was in an accident after high school -- her car was totaled and she had been injured, but she had never suffered from amnesia.

Most of them had not seen or talked to Wachner since high school, but many found her new profession suspect: Cricket as Andrea said she was working as a stripper to help pay her graduate school tuition.

Daniel Wolowicz, 32, who had been an acquaintance of Wachner's in high school, said he was immediately suspicious.

"She was just so different. You have to understand the community we had come from," he said. "Everyone was questioning who this person was.

"I had asked her a very specific question about seeing her at a bat mitzvah when I was 15 years old," he said. When Cricket answered his question correctly, Wolowicz said he assumed it was Andrea or "someone else who had been given a lot of information."

It would be awhile, however, before he learned the full truth.

'That Is Not Normal'

As the night progressed the drinks flowed, and Cricket, always outgoing, was getting ready for the climax of the evening: a striptease performed to what Cricket described as "one of the worst songs of the '90s," Lisa Loeb's "Stay."

Barry Smith, 31, a math professor from San Diego, was eating dinner at the same table with Cricket.

"She was talking to my wife for a little bit and tried to get her to go on the dance floor to try to do some sort of joint voyeuristic dance-type thing," he said. "But my wife wasn't up for it."

They had met up with Cricket in the lobby earlier that evening. Aided by her earpiece, Cricket pretended to recognize Smith.

"She said, 'Oh, I remember you, you're friends with Jennifer Taylor,'" Smith recalled.

Smith, who couldn't remember what the real-life Wachner looked like, never suspected that he was dining with an imposter, even when Cricket took a chair to the dance floor and began stripping.

As she pulled off her top, and then her skirt, revealing her underwear, several of the alums clapped, screamed and laughed. One woman ran up to Cricket and stuffed a bill in her panties. Some just gaped in amazement.

"People were like, that is not normal," Cricket said.

But, she added, "That's probably what I would do at my reunion if I didn't go to private Christian school."

'I Like You Better'

During the dance her earpiece fell out -- but nobody seemed to notice.

After Cricket stripped, an alum asked her to go home with him, saying there was plenty of room for her to dance at his place.

"Let's dance right now!" Cricket suggested quickly.

As "Push It" blared over the speakers, he asked where the real Andrea was.

Cricket feigned ignorance.

"I like you better," he said.

But the night came to an abrupt end for Cricket -- and Wachner -- when hotel security intervened. It turned out the hotel hosting the reunion hadn't wanted footage of someone dancing scandalously in its ballroom.

When Wachner posted the trailer on YouTube, it attracted both huge fans and angry critics, igniting a kind of class warfare.
Yellowmxwheels wrote, "I went to a school in San Diego that was just like that (Valhalla). The school had a nickname that other schools used,(Snobhalla.) All the nice cars, we even had a kid that drove a friggin Ferrari our senior year. I mean I had a nice car too but I paid for mine it wasn't given to me. …"

But others, who claimed to have attended Wachner's high school, seemed incensed. Nacalaca wrote, "Yeah there were spoiled kids, but definitely the minority. Andrea, thanks for perpetuating the myth that ALL of PV was snobby kids. This video makes you look like the biggest snob of all."

Dorisdrive said, "Husband & I bought flight, ticket, etc, & night was hijacked by wanna-be reality star. It was tacky & distracting & turned night commercial even though we paid to be there."

Whether they loved it or hated it, one thing is clear: Wachner will never again be just another face in the crowd.

"I can appreciate what she was trying to do in the sense of making an interesting documentary -- and why not? Most of the reunions are predictable so why not do something that was different," said Wolowicz, who had been a school acquaintance. "The one person I'll remember most from the reunion was that fictitious character

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"This girl really ruined my life... Every time I think about it, I get chills... Someone just comes in and ruins your special day" - Bride Sandina Purdum
"This girl really ruined my life... Every time I think about it, I get chills... Someone just comes in and ruins your special day" - Bride Sandina Purdum


Last updated: 9:08 am
April 21, 2009
Posted: 4:11 am
April 21, 2009

A Queens woman charges that a wedding guest from hell turned her dream nuptials into a sordid affair she can never forget by screaming, tossing a drink at another guest -- and, worst of all, declaring she was sleeping with the groom.

Sandrina Purdum, 31, says that at the ceremony last Sept. 19, Jennifer Angevine accused her of "f- - -ing up" the life of groom Harold Purdum, who was then working for Angevine.

"Me and Harry were good together. You had to ruin everything by marrying him. You f- - -ed everything up," the wife quotes Angevine, also 31, as saying in a civil suit filed in Queens Supreme Court.

After the outburst, things got so raucous that the 70 guests were ordered to leave the reception at the Naresa Palace catering hall in South Ozone Park, the suit says.

Sandrina and Harry did not even spend their wedding night together -- she went to her parents' house; he slept at the home of his best man.

Now, Sandrina says, she would like to have a baby, but can't, "because I don't trust my husband."

Sandrina said that if she finds out that Harry did have an affair with his boss, "I will leave him. If he put me through all this suffering and hell, I will get a divorce.

"This girl really ruined my life. Nobody should go through what I went through. Every time I talk about it, I get chills," Sandrina told The Post yesterday in the Midtown office of her lawyer, Michael Rublowsky.

"I'm so hurt," she added. "What happened to me shouldn't have happened to anyone. Someone just comes in and ruins your special day. I would like to see her go to jail for this.

"Harry, also 31, denied sleeping with Angevine, who owns Gold Coast Pools in Glen Cove, LI.

"I never did," he said. "I never had a feeling she wanted anything like that."Harry said that the day after her outburst, Angevine called him and apologized. "You're life must be a living hell right now," she said, according to Harry. "I'm sorry, so sorry."

The following Monday, he said, he went in and quit his job as a pool installer and carpenter, even though Angevine offered him a raise and health benefits. He has been unemployed ever since.

Sandrina said she and her husband, who have been together for three years and live in Forest Hills, are now thinking of leaving New York.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses Angevine of slander, inflicting emotional distress and battery -- for allegedly poking Sandrina in the chest while telling her of the supposed hookup with Harry.

Neither Angevine nor her lawyer, Tom Larounis, would comment.

Additional reporting by Kavita Mokhaandy.geller@nypost.com

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