Friday, August 31, 2012

If we disagree with P-noy’s choice, let’s respect Sereno as a woman

If we disagree with P-noy’s choice, let’s 
respect Sereno as a woman leader

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Plato was right when he insisted in the Republic that there is nothing that a man can do in public affairs that a woman cannot do equally well.
The classicial Greek philosopher admitted certain respects in which a woman, simply by being a woman, is inferior in political activity to a man, but he thought that the differences between individuals are more important than the difference between the sexes. In his view, an intelligent and competent woman is superior to a man who lacks these qualities, and it is waste of human capacities not to use her in the administration of the state.
Some of us may disagree with President Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III when he appointed the most junior insider or an “outsider” to the senior justices appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but like Plato, Aquino probably was convinced that among the 50 who applied for the position vacated by impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is more superior than her male rivals in many areas outside the issue of age and experience.


Aside from allegedly rushing to campaign for the post as soon as she was nominated, and quickly setting up a Facebook account named “Why Justice Sereno should be appointed as Chief Justice” and for allegedly lying in her biodata which was posted in the Supreme Court’s website that “she was co-counsel with Justice Florentino Feliciano” in the Fraport case before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, according to former Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, there are no major issues that would weigh down Sereno’s ascension as Chief Justice.  Sereno is not among the nine counsels representing the government in the Centre’s records, insisted Tiglao. “There weren’t “co-counsels” in that case.  The truth is that she was merely the personal legal researcher and documentation lawyer of the 77-year-old Feliciano, and not of the government,” Tiglao wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 30, 2012.
Sereno shouldn’t be faulted on issue that she outdid Hacienda Luisita’s lawyers in arguing for P10-billion compensation for the President’s clan. Those opposed to Sereno’s appointment should have made their assignment when the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) was still deliberating on the choice for the next Chief Justice, not now that she has taken her oath of office before the President in Malacanang.
Anything negative her critics will say post her appointment will be dismissed as sourgraping after a much ballyhooed report that nine of the 13 Supreme Court associate justices boycotted the swearing in of their unwanted Chief.


We understand the consternation of the macho men, the senior justices and other “more colorful” candidates for the post who possess Ph.D. in law from Harvard and postdoctoral degrees, but the President’s choice is always final.
The principle of male dominance in the family and the community is always based on the Western culture that originated in a patriarchal type of society. Institute for Philosophical Research Director Mortimer Adler once emphasized that the discussion of the role of women in ancient writings usually reflects this patriarchal setting, but there are notable exemptions. Even in ancient times, he explained, some thinkers came to conclusions about the status of women that clashed with the prevailing order.
I have no problem with women as leaders; I have no problem with Sereno as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Her biodata says Sereno was born in July 2, 1960 in Manila to a father native to Siasi, Sulu, and to mother who served as a public school teacher. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980, and her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law, graduating as class valedictorian in 1984. She also earned a Master of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993.
At the time of her appointment, Sereno was Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center. She was also the President of Accesslaw Inc., had taught at University of the Philippines College of Law for 19 years, and has served as a consultant for the United Nations, World Bank, and US Agency for International Development.
With her sparkling credentials, I can say that it is a waste of human capacities not to use Sereno in the administration of the state.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Declining quality of senators more alarming than declining quality of Filipino envoys

“Pasensiya na po. Pasensiya na po. Pasensya na po. Ang hatol ko sa inyo, guilty.”  SEN. LITO LAPID, in his speech during the Corona Impeachment Trial.

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- The more that he insisted he did not plagiarize his speech, the more that Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III buried himself in the quicksand. 
Apparently waiting for the hoopla on the death and state burial of DILG chief Jesse Robredo to simmer down, Sotto tried to master the art of timing by lashing at his critics and portraying himself as “a victim of cyber bullying” in a press statement issued two days after Robredo was laid to rest.
Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and sincerely apologizing to American blogger Sarah Pope, Sotto further stirred the hornet’s nest and added insult to injury by claiming the avalanche of negative feedback in social media had been waged “to kill the messenger” because his critics purportedly “could not kill the message.”
I blame Sotto’s advisers for the senator’s recalcitrance which has only further ripped his reputation to shreds. 
The least they could have done to camouflage their boss’ mea culpa was to persuade him against further adding fire to conflagration. 
Everyone commits a mistake and to admit a mistake is an honorable act, an effective damage control. 
So many great men and women of antiquity continued to live an honorable life even after a maelstrom of scandals and controversies because they knew how to admit their faults and to express willingness to amend for their lapses and trespasses.


But not Tito Sotto. His haughtiness and arrogance only further exacerbated his shenanigan and his insistence that he violated no law when his speechwriter lifted some important facts from the blog of Ms. Pope and used it to deodorize his speech underscored the general perception that the once magnificent August Hall that produced some of the country’s greatest minds and statesmen has lost its luster and is now a sanctuary of rinky-dinks and tawdries calling themselves “honorable” members of the upper chamber.
Sotto had lamented: “I am probably the first senator of the Philippines to become a victim of cyber bullying. Through the blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I became the center of a smear campaign and malicious attacks by various people” even as he reiterated that he did not commit plagiarism as alleged by Pope and the other bloggers who subsequently joined her in condemning the senator. Pope had disclosed that parts of her blog entry about the use of the pill were copied by Sotto in his turno en contra speech on the RH bill. The senator and his researcher justified later that they only lifted the blog sections that referred to the study of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, regarding the negative effects of the pill.
Sotto added further: “For those who are attacking me and judging me on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even in the newspapers, I say this: even though I appear to be less educated compared to them and not as knowledgeable as they are, what is important is what I am fighting for. My intentions are clean and it is to fight for the sanctity of life.”


Interestingly, another blogger alleged that Sotto’s colleague, Sen. Pia Cayetano copied parts of her speech on “The Status of the Philippines in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals” and her privilege speech on the World Environment Day.
Cayetano had already denied the charges saying "I myself am a writer and a blogger. I believe that everyone is due the proper accreditation and the acknowledgment... nakalagay naman po yun sa ating Intellectual Property Code that from the moment of creation...your literary work is protected.”
What is happening to our senate? Two senators in a row accused of plagiarism is no longer a laughing matter. Something must be done to refurbish and rebuild its image. The senate is already becoming a laughing stock because of the way some of its members behave, not to mention their lackdaiscal performances and not-so-impressive achievements.
Senator Edgardo Angara was alarmed of the decline of quality of our diplomats arguing that Filipino diplomats who can’t be bothered to learn even a smidgen of the language of their host countries “have no place being in the foreign service.”


At the Senate hearing recently on the 2013 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Angara proposed the creation of a Foreign Service Institute to train envoys in the intricacies of representing the country abroad. “We get dismayed that some people receive (foreign) postings not even knowing the language used in the post,” Angara said. “I think it’s really a shame like when I meet Thai diplomats and they speak the language of Madrid and elsewhere so fluently.”
I think the decline in quality of Filipino senators is more alarming than the decline of quality of our envoys. Our envoys can always be sanitized and recalled if proven to be unfit to represent our country. Our senators are tasked to create laws. And with our decrepit electoral system, even showbiz misfits, punks, troublemakers, homewreckers and human rights violators can be ushered into that prestigious public office and enjoy the pelf and privileges that go with the position.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bell tolls too soon for a true patriot; nation is amputated

Bell tolls too soon for a true
patriot; nation is amputated

By Alex P. Vidal

“Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” JOHN DONNE

LOS ANGELES, California -- As Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, eldest daughter of the late former President Corazon Aquino and the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquno Jr. and sister of President Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino succinctly sighed, “Matagal na kaming beleb sa kanya (We have been impressed with him for a long time already).”
I have interviewed Senator Franklin Drilon several times since he was labor secretary under the Cory administration and he always put up an intrepid face even amid blitzkrieg from MAD (Movement Against Drilon) provocateurs; but when he was interviewed by Manila reporters shortly after DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s body was retrieved from the private plane at the depth of around 180 feet resting upside down in the waters off Masbate August 21, the senator from Iloilo bursts in tears like he lost his own brother.
DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas as well as the other cabinet officials of President Aquino also grieved the loss of a “very sincere, honest and hard-working colleague” who, despite his busy schedule, always had time to tutor his children and be with his family during weekends.  
So well-loved was the man who became the Philippines’ youngest city mayor at 29 in 1988 that the whole Naga city or the entire Camarines Sur for that matter grieved like a nation that wept when President Ramon Magsaysay, the best ever Philippine president, was killed in aircraft disaster on March 17, 1957.


There indeed was parallelism between Magsaysay and Robredo as public servants. Both were active stalwarts of the Liberal Party; they were highly touted and much admired by both their peers and supporters owing to their extraordinary methods in governance and their Spartan-like lifestyles that is difficult to emulate in today’s hodgepodge of modern leaders.
Those who chronicled Robredo’s eye-catching styles as mayor of a hitherto mediocre city that turned into bustling economic hub described him as a pragmatic go-getter who buckled down to work and torpedoed inefficient bureaucracy and illegal gambling as among his fast-tracked accomplishments that catapulted him into stardom when he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000, the first Filipino mayor so honored.
So colorful was Robredo’s life that he was fancied as the perfect epitome of President Aquino’s “Tuwid Na Daan” slogan in public service. For his constituents in Naga, he was a simple guy who walked in slippers and plain shirt with no bodyguard. For his subordinates in the DILG, “he was like one of us ordinary employees,” they chorused.  Robreo studied at Naga Parochial School, a private Catholic school in Naga City, for his elementary education. Robredo began to hone his talent and love for the game of chess while in elementary. Naga Parochial School was known and had established a record for winning Bicol's annual province-wide chess tournament and Robredo's brother had been among its champion competitors.
Robredo studied at Ateneo de Naga in 1970. In September 1972, when Robredo was in the middle of high school, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. Ateneo de Naga and its administration immediately called for an assembly and warned its students against getting involved in anti-government activities and efforts that this may result to the school's exposure to the risk of closure.


Robredo obtained his undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at De La Salle University. Robredo was an Edward Mason Fellow and a graduate of Masters of Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999. In 1985, Robredo finished his Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, as a scholar and was named the Graduate School and Faculty Organization awardee for scholarly excellence.
Like Magsaysay, Robredo came from a speaking engagement in Cebu representing the President and was in a hurry to fly back to Naga to attend his daughter’s swimming competition, when the Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I aircraft (registered RP-C4431) crashed on August 18 at around 4:30 in the afternoon.
Magsaysay left Manila for Cebu City on March 16, 1957 where he spoke at three educational institutions. That same night, at about one o’clock in the morning, he boarded the presidential plane "Mt. Pinatubo", a C-47, heading back to Manila. In the early morning hours of 17 March, the plane was reported missing. By late afternoon, newspapers had reported the airplane had crashed on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu, and that 36 of the 56 aboard were killed (the actual number on board was 25, including Magsaysay). Vice-President Carlos GarcĂ­a, who was on official visit to Australia at the time, assumed the presidency to serve out the last eight months of Magsaysay's term.
An estimated five million people attended Magsaysay's burial on March 31, 1957. He was posthumously referred to by the people the "Idol of the Masses".
Only newspaperman Nestor Mata survived the plane crash that killed Magsaysay. Police Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s bodyguard, was also the lone survivor.
When great public servants like Magsaysay and Robredo perish at a time when their services were needed most, the whole nation is amputated. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


‘We will miss you London’

LONDON — With a little British pomp and a lot of British pop, London brought the curtain down on a glorious Olympic Games on Sunday in a spectacular, technicolor pageant of landmarks, lightshows and lots of fun.
The closing ceremony offered a sensory blast including rock 'n' roll rickshaws, dustbin percussionists, an exploding yellow car and a marching band in red tunics and bearskin hats.
The Spice Girls staged a show-stopping reunion, and Monty Python's Eric Idle sauntered through "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" — accompanied by Roman centurions, Scottish bagpipers and a human cannonball.
It all made for a psychedelic mashup that had 80,000 fans at Olympic Stadium stomping, cheering and singing along. Organizers estimated 300 million or more were watching around the world.
What a way to end a games far more successful than many Londoners expected. Security woes were overcome, and traffic nightmares never materialized. The weather held up, more or less, and British athletes overachieved.

It all came with a price tag of $14 billion — three times the original estimate. But nobody wanted to spoil the fun with such mundane concerns, at least not on this night.
"We lit the flame, and we lit up the world," said London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe. "When our time came, Britain, we did it right."
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge declared the Olympics over with praise for the athletes.
"Through your commitment to fair play, your respect for opponents, and your grace in defeat as well as in victory, you have earned the right to be called Olympians," he said, adding: "These were happy and glorious games."
But the night was about splash more than speeches.
Festive and fast-moving, the ceremony opened with pop bands Madness, Pet Shop Boys and One Direction, a shout-out to Winston Churchill and a tribute to the Union Jack — the floor of Olympic Stadium floor arranged to resemble the British flag.
Monochrome recreations of London landmarks were covered in newsprint, from Big Ben's clock tower and Tower Bridge to the London Eye ferris wheel and the chubby highrise known as the Gherkin.

Street percussion group Stomp built the noise into a frenzy, and dancers brandished brooms, in a nod to the spontaneous popular movement to clean up London after riots shook neighborhoods not far from Olympic Stadium just a year ago.
Liam Gallagher performed "Wonderwall," a 1990s hit by his former band, Oasis, Muse rocked the house with the hard-edged Olympic anthem "Survival," and Queen guitarist Brian May was joined by singer Jessie J for a crowd-pleasing "We Will Rock You."
The headline performers were each paid a pound, a little more than $1.50.
The night ended with the extinguishing of the multi-petaled Olympic cauldron and a supercharged rendition of "My Generation" and other classics by The Who that had the crowd dancing in the aisles. Confetti rained down, and fireworks lit up the sky.
Prince William's wife, Kate, and Prince Harry took seats next to Rogge. They sang along to "God Save the Queen." There was no sign of the queen herself, who made a memorable mock parachute entrance at the July 27 opening ceremony.

Following Olympic tradition, the 10,800 athletes of the London Games marched in as one rather than with their nations, symbolizing the harmony and friendship inspired by the games.
As the crowd cheered their heroes and flashbulbs rippled through the stadium, the Olympians cheered back, some carrying national flags, others snapping photographs with smartphones and cameras.
They held hands, embraced and carried each other on their shoulders, finally forming a human mosh pit on the field.
The ceremony had something for everyone, from tween girls to 1960s hippies. The face of John Lennon appeared on the stadium floor, assembled by 101 fragments of sculpture, and just as quickly gave way to George Michael, Fatboy Slim and Annie Lennox.
Eight minutes were turned over to Brazil, host of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, which delivered an explosion of samba, sequins and Latin cool. Following tradition, the mayor of London handed the Olympic flag off to his Rio counterpart.

Britons, who had fretted for weeks that the games would become a fiasco, were buoyed by their biggest medal haul since 1908 — 29 golds and 65 medals in all.
The United States edged China in both the gold medal and total medal standings, eclipsing its best performance at an Olympics on foreign soil after the Dream Team narrowly held off Spain in basketball for the country's 46th gold.
While the games may have lacked some of the grandeur of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there were more than a few unforgettable moments.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became an Olympic legend by repeating as champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints. Michael Phelps ended his long career as the most decorated Olympian in history.
British distance runner Mo Farah became a national treasure by sweeping the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races, and favorite daughter Jessica Ennis became a global phenomenon with her victory in the heptathlon.
Female athletes took center stage in a way they never had before. American gymnast Gabby Douglas soared to gold, the U.S. soccer team made a dramatic march to the championship. Packed houses turned out to watch the new event of women's boxing. And women competed for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei for the first time.
And then there was Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee from South Africa running on carbon-fiber blades, who didn't win a medal but nonetheless left a champion. And sprinter Manteo Mitchell, who completed his leg of the 4x400 relay semifinal on a broken leg, allowing his team to qualify and win silver.

Britons seemed exhausted and exhilarated after two glorious weeks in the world's spotlight, and just months after the country celebrated the queen's 60th year on the throne with a magnificent pageant and street parties.
Some at Olympic Park acknowledged happy surprise that not much had gone wrong, and so much had gone right.
"I was a bit worried we wouldn't be able to live up to it," said Phil Akrill of Chichester. "But walking around here it's just unbelievable."
Even non-Brits were proud of their adopted homeland.
"It's just been a really nice thing to see," said Anja Ekelof, a Swede who now lives in Scotland. "The whole country has come together." AP


Kiprotich stuns the world; wins Olympic marathon gold 

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich stunned a strong Kenyan team to win the men's Olympic marathon, handing his east African nation only their second ever gold medal.
Kiprotich timed 2hr 08min 01sec on the spectacular course around the streets of central London, with two-time defending world champion Abel Kirui claiming silver in 2:08.27.
Another Kenyan, long-time leader Wilson Kipsang, took bronze in 2:09.37.
It was Uganda's second ever Olympic gold medal after John Akii-Bua won the 400m hurdles in the 1972 Games in Munich, with the east African country's only other medal a bronze from 400m runner Davis Kamonga in 1996.
"I am very happy to win a medal for my country," beamed Kiprotich. "I love my people. Ugandans are very happy because we hadn't won a medal in marathon races.
"The pace was too fast and I knew I could not run away from them so I just had to keep up with them (Kipsang and kirui).
"I tried to settle and then I had to break away because I wanted to win this medal."
Brazilian Franck De Almeida went through 10km in 30:38 in a race billed as a battle between Kenya and Ethiopia.
But the Ethiopian team's tactics were dealt an early blow with Dino Sefir falling well off the pace, as Kipsang reeled in the Brazilian pace setter.
Kipsang, the 2012 London Marathon winner then built up a lead on the peloton, going through the halfway mark in 1:03.15, 16sec ahead of the chasing pack.
The Kenyan built that lead up to 30sec on the stunning course, designed to take in as many of the British capital's main sights as possible.
By the 23km mark in sweltering conditions, a second Ethiopian, Getu Feleke, was beginning to flag and had fallen off the chasing pack's pace.
In front of thousands of spectators packed 10-deep in some places, Kiprotichset off in pursuit of Kipsang, splintering the pack in the hunt for a podium place.
Kirui and Ethiopia's Dubai marathon winner Ayele Abshero followed, and the trio cut Kipsang's lead to just 11sec, and then pulled level at 25km.
Abshero struggled to stay level and dropped 36sec by the 30km stage, Brazilian Marilson Dos Santos overtaking him into fourth.
As the leading trio went through the gilded, covered Leadenhall Market for the final time with 7km to go, the Kenyans upped the pace to shake off Kiprotich.
Japan's Kentaro Nakamoto and the sole American left in the field, Eritrean-born Meb Keflezighi, were in position to challenge for a podium should anyone hit the wall in the final few miles.
But up front, the two Kenyans were caught napping as Kiprotich showed a dramatic change of pace to surge to the front in an audacious ambush at 32km, and was quickly 200m ahead.
Kiprotich, who has moved to the famed Eldoret region of the Kenya's Rift Valley to train with former world 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge, accelerated away, a brief look back over his shoulder confirming his position at the head of the field.
Going into the final 2km, the 23-year-old Ugandan was 20sec ahead of Kirui, and he had enough time to grab an Ugandan flag on his last time entering the Mall, in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, draping it around his shoulders as he crossed the line for a convincing victory.  Moses Walubiri and Agencies

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Brazil frustrates USA for volleyball gold

Brazil frustrates USA for volleyball gold

The USA, ranked number one in the world, handed their opponents a volleyball schooling in the first set, but Brazil, who saved six match points in their quarter-final against Russia, kept their composure to turn the match on its head.
Led by Jaqueline Carvalho, who top-scored in the match with 18 points, Brazil claimed their second women's volleyball title with a 11-25 25-17 25-20 25-17 victory.
"There are no words for this emotion," said Brazil's libero Fabiana Oliveira, who broke down in floods of tears after the match. "We love this, we live this both on and off the court."
The gold medal was all the sweeter for Brazil, after they were heavily criticised in the group stages following losses to the United States and South Korea that had pushed them close to elimination.
"The critics that we had at the beginning were important for us to grow," Oliveira added. "Being second was never an option. We're gonna enjoy this a lot."
Brazil fans were rocking in the aisles of the Earls Court arena as their team completed a rousing victory that they hope will be the first part of a golden volleyball double with their men's team playing Russia in the final on Sunday.
"They started serving much more aggressively, in all honesty they were better than us. They were pressing us and we didn't really respond as well as we should have done," USA coach Hugh McCutcheon said.
Japan beat South Korea 3-0 earlier on Saturday to win bronze.

LONDON OLYMPICS: Mexico downs Brazil for Olympic soccer gold!

Mexico downs Brazil for 
Olympic soccer gold!

WEMBLEY, England -- Mexico is celebrating its first Olympic gold medal in men's soccer, and Brazil is wondering if it will ever be able to add the title to its long list of triumphs.
Oribe Peralta scored only 29 seconds into the Olympic final at Wembley Stadium and added another goal in the second half to help Mexico upset Brazil 2-1 Saturday.
Peralta took advantage of a mistake by the Brazilian defense in one of the game's first plays and sent a low right-footed shot inside the near post. It was fastest Olympic goal since FIFA began keeping records of the competition in 1976.
The striker added the second with a firm header off a free kick in the 75th. Hulk scored for Brazil in injury time, but Oscar missed a header in the final seconds to waste the last chance for a comeback in front of 86,162 fans.
Brazil was also trying to win its first Olympic gold, which is the only significant trophy the five-time World Cup champions haven't won in soccer. The Brazilians established the London Games as the team's priority this year and arrived as the big favorite after bringing most of its top players for the competition.
As Mexican players jumped up and down at midfield in celebration, the Brazilians dropped to the ground in despair. Neymar, touted as the future of Brazilian soccer, was one of them, sitting stoned-faced. Real Madrid left back Marcelo dropped his head and cried as his teammates came to console him.
Peralta gave Mexico the early lead after Manchester United right back Rafael tried to make a backward pass. Mexico midfielder Javier Aquino intercepted the ball, sending it forward to Peralta just outside the area. With no defenders near him, he calmly sent his shot into the left corner.
FIFA said Peralta's goal was the fastest since the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when football's governing body began keeping records of the competition. The fastest goal in a senior competition was scored by Turkey's Hakan Sukur 11 seconds into a match at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
FIFA said the fastest goal in all competitions came from Brazil's Fabinho, who scored in nine seconds in the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea.
Peralta's second goal came off a firm header from near the penalty spot after a free kick cross by Marco Fabian.
The Mexicans also had a goal by Peralta disallowed for offside in the 69th, and Fabian missed the open net with his header off a corner in the 72nd.
Brazil appeared to be shaken by the early goal and struggled to create scoring opportunities. Neymar started playing better in the second half and helped Brazil push forward, but struggled to get his efforts on target.
Hulk scored the team's only goal with a low shot from inside the area in the first minute of injury time.
Brazil knew that anything but the gold was going to be considered a huge failure. The expectations back home were high and the Olympics were seen as an important test because the majority of the players in London will also likely be in the team trying to lead Brazil to the 2014 World Cup title at home.
It was the team's first Olympic final in men's football since the 1988 Seoul Games, when youngsters Romario and Bebeto ended with the silver. Brazil also lost the final four years earlier at the Los Angeles Games.By TALES AZZONI — AP Sports Writer

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Usain Bolt captures 200m 
gold in Jamaican sweep

Usain Bolt proved once again that no track athlete can touch him at the Olympic Games.
Bolt won the men's 200-metre event on Thursday, clocking in a time of 19.32 seconds to lead a Jamaican sweep.
It wasn't just another gold medal for Bolt. The 25-year-old star set two historic marks en route to his fifth career gold.
He becomes the first man to ever win the 200 at consecutive Olympics, and is the only athlete to sweep the 100 and 200 events at back-to-back Games.
Two other Jamaicans joined Bolt in the top three. Yohan Blake finished second in 19.44, with Warren Weir taking bronze at 19.84.
Bolt, the 200 world-record holder, has never tasted defeat at the Olympics, going a perfect five-for-five in all of his events — a number he celebrated by performing five push-ups a few metres past the finish line.
He defended his 100-metre title on Sunday in an Olympic record 9.63.
"The guy is just on another planet right now," said American Wallace Spearmon, who finished fourth in 19.90.


As usual, Bolt was in a joyful mood before the competitors entered the starting block. A fist pump with a track official was followed by a slow wave to the crowd, a playful gesture in mimicking the Queen of England.
Once in the block, Bolt set the pace after the sprinters rounded the curve.
Blake, who ran the second fastest 200 ever last year, appeared to be gaining in the final 50 metres, but that’s when Bolt turned it on, leaving no doubt who the gold medallist would be.
With victory in hand, Bolt let up in the last few metres, putting his index finger to his mouth in celebration.
Bolt admitted to feeling stress on his back and didn’t want to push through all the way to the line. Instead, he was simply content to cement his legend status.
In Beijing Bolt set the world records in the 100 (9.68) and 200 (19.30) events. He lowered both marks — 9.59 and 19.19, respectively — during the 2009 world championships in Berlin.
Overall, Bolt has won seven of the last eight major individual sprint titles in the 100 and 200 at Olympics and world championships — setting a four-year streak of unprecedented dominance. The only exception was a race he never got to run when Bolt was disqualified for a false start in the 100 final at last year's world championships, a race Blake won.
Bolt didn’t come into these Games with much momentum. During the last two years he’s endured injuries, the disqualification, and even a car crash.
In the lead-up to London, Bolt — admitting to being at 95 per cent a week ago — a bad back caused his hamstring problems.
As with American swimming great Michael Phelps, who broke the all-time record with 22 career Olympic medals, many questioned whether Bolt would be upstaged by his rivals, specifically Blake.
Like Phelps, the Jamaican answered his critics by remaining the best athlete his sport has ever produced.
Bolt will try for another sweep when the Jamaicans will take part in the 4x100 relay, which starts Friday.

With files from The Associated Press

LONDON OLYMPICS: U.S. women's soccer sinks Japan, 2-1

U.S. women's soccer sinks Japan, 2-1

By Jon Schuppe

The U.S. women’s soccer team won its third consecutive Olympic gold medal Thursday, beating Japan 2-1 in a frenetic nail-biter before a record crowd of 80,203 at London's Wembley Stadium.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored both of Team USA's goals, avenging the upset loss to Japan in last year's World Cup final.
The Americans have now won all but one Olympic championship since women's soccer was introduced in 1996.
Japan, meanwhile, won its first Olympic medal and can no longer count itself an underdog.
The Americans scored first, in the eighth minute, when Lloyd headed in a cross by Alex Morgan.
Another U.S. goal followed in the 53rd minute, when Lloyd danced through two Japanese defenders on a breakaway and rocketed the ball from the top of the penalty box into the left corner of the net.
Lloyd, who had the game-winner in the gold medal match at the Beijing Olympics, lost her starting job just before the London games but won it back when Shannon Boxx was hurt in the tournament's opening game. She started every match after, and finished with four goals.
The Japanese answered in the 62nd minute, when forward Yuki Ogimi knocked in a rebound that got caught up among the American defenders.
The Japanese continued to pressure the Americans for the rest of the game, and even dominated possession with their disciplined playing style, but were repeatedly turned away by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who made several stellar saves, including a diving block of a one-on-one shot by Japanese forward Mana Iwabuchi with under 7 minutes left to play.
While the Americans were playing for vengeance, Japan was trying to prove its World Cup triumph was not a fluke. Back then, the team won while shouldering the burden of a nation recovering from an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
Both teams were undefeated going into the final, but the Americans were considered the favorites from the start of the tournament.
They nearly escaped elimination Monday, with a controversial last-minute 4-3 win over Canada in the semifinals.
Canada defeated France in the bronze medal match, 1-0.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

LONDON OLYMPICS: Sweet revenge for crying boy Murray


Sweet revenge for crying boy Murray

WIMBLEDON, England - Andy Murray stood with the Union Jack draped over his shoulders, an Olympic gold medal around his neck, flanked by the man he had just beaten, Roger Federer, and basking in the roar of the Centre Court crowd.
No wonder the often dour Scotsman was grinning.
Murray won one for the home team Sunday, beating Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the tennis final at Wimbledon.
The victory marked a career breakthrough for Murray. He has lost all four of his Grand Slam finals, three against Federer, including Wimbledon a month ago.
"I've had a lot of tough losses in my career," he said. "This is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I'll never forget it."
For Federer, the drubbing marked another Olympic disappointment. Playing in the games for the fourth time, he sought a victory to complete a career Golden Slam but settled for silver — his first singles medal.
"Don't feel too bad for me," Federer said. "I felt like I won my silver, I didn't lose it. So I feel really happy."
Murray swept nine consecutive games to take control, breaking Federer's serve four times in a row, his inspired play a reflection of raucous crowd support. He erased all nine break points he faced.
"He never looked back," Federer said. "His credit for getting in the lead and using the crowd to come through. He did an unbelievable job."
The match capped the most memorable Olympics for tennis since it returned to the games in 1988 after a 64-year absence. The event transformed staid Wimbledon into a more festive place.
Murray became the first British man to win the gold in singles since Josiah Ritchie in 1908. Those games took place at Wimbledon, too.
In the day's first match on Centre Court, women's singles champion Serena Williams teamed with sister Venus to win their third career doubles gold medal. They defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the retractable roof.
Murray settled for a silver in mixed doubles with teammate Laura Robson. They lost to Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus, 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (8).
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina won the bronze in men's singles, beating Novak Djokovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-4. Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova of Russia won the bronze in women's doubles.
The roof opened shortly before the men's final, and the beloved Federer — winner of seven Wimbledon titles — walked onto the sun-splashed grass to a standing ovation. Then Murray entered, and an ovation became a the roar.
At the far end of the All England Club, thousands of fans with grounds passes enjoyed a carnival atmosphere on the picnic hill known as Murray Mount while watching the match on a huge video screen.
Federer wore red and Murray blue in the most colorful tournament ever held at Wimbledon. Their tactics were also in sharp contrast.
Murray returned aggressively to repeatedly put Federer on the defensive when serving. Federer tried to come forward more than in any match this summer, but Murray answered with a succession of crisp passing shots for winners.
"Andy looked like he was never doubting himself," Federer said. "He had a clear plan."
The fans loved it, waving British flags of all sizes. "An-dy! An-dy" they chanted. They applauded when Federer won a point, but they boomed when Murray won one.
And the bounces seemed to go Murray's way. One of his service breaks came when he hit winners that clipped the net cord on successive points. But then the net, after all, was British.
Altogether Federer dropped serve five times, surprising anywhere but especially on grass. He also lost 15 of 33 points when he went to the net, often watching groundstrokes by Murray whiz past out of reach.
"That's the best part of his game," Federer said. "If he doesn't do those passing shots, he's not going to win gold."
The impassive Swiss showed little frustration as the match slipped away. Instead, it was Murray tossing his racket in the second set when he made a rare error.
Otherwise, Murray had little to get upset about. When he netted an easy forehand on break point early in the match, he laughed at his mistake.
"I felt so fresh," he said. "I didn't feel nervous really at all, apart from at the beginning of the match."
He won with plenty of flair and a succession of spectacular shots. A lunging backhand pass in the corner had fans on their feet. And he erased a break point with an acrobatic leaping overhead, followed by an improbable reflex volley winner after Federer fired at him from point-blank range.
Murray fell behind 15-40 serving in the opening game but rallied to hold, and from 2-all he took charge, winning every game until 5-0 in the second set.
Federer struggled to hold but had many chances to break, including in the third game of the second set. He held six break points but Murray erased them all and won the game on the 20th point on an errant Federer backhand, one of many.
Federer, taxed by his 19-17 third-set semifinal win Friday, couldn't summon a comeback. Murray hurried to the finish line, winning the final set in 33 minutes.
He reached match point with an ace, then hit another at 131 mph to seal the win. He briefly sank toward the turf, then rose to share a warm embrace with a smiling Federer.
"I was very happy for him," Federer said. "It's a long time coming for him, and he did great."
Murray climbed into the player box to share hugs with friends and family. He then leaped back onto the court, and when he threw a final knockout punch, the crowd roared one more time.

Curiosity rover survives ‘7 minutes of terror,’ lands in Mars

Curiosity rover survives ‘7 minutes of terror,’ lands in Mars
By Alan Boyle, Science editor, NBC News

PASADENA, Calif. — After eight years of planning and eight months of interplanetary travel, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory pulled off a touchdown of Super Bowl proportions, all by itself. It even sent pictures from the goal line.
The spacecraft plunged through Mars' atmosphere, fired up a rocket-powered platform and lowered the car-sized, 1-ton Curiosity rover to its landing spot in 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) Gale Crater. Then the platform flew off to its own crash landing, while Curiosity sent out a text message basically saying, "I made it!"
That message was relayed by the orbiting Mars Odyssey satellite back to Earth. A radio telescope in Australia picked up the message and sent it here to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. When the blips of data appeared on the screens at JPL's mission control, the room erupted in cheers and hugs.
Because of the light-travel time between Mars and Earth, throngs of scientists and engineers — along with millions who were monitoring the action via television and the Internet — celebrated Curiosity's landing 14 minutes after it actually occurred.
Even the engineers who drew up the unprecedented plan for the landing admitted that it looked crazy. But the plan actually worked.
Minutes after the news of the landing broke, commentator Allen Chen brought more good news: "We have thumbnails!" Odyssey delivered two pictures showing the view from hazard avoidance cameras mounted on the rover.
The touchdown marked a $2.5 billion triumph for what Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, called "the Super Bowl of planetary exploration." Curiosity's primary mission is scheduled to last one full Martian year, or almost two Earth years — but scientists hope the nuclear-powered rover will keep going for years longer than that.
Curiosity is the biggest and most capable robotic laboratory ever sent to another celestial body: Its 10 scientific instruments are designed to study the chemistry of Mars' rocks, soil and atmosphere and determine whether the Red Planet had the right stuff to be habitable in ancient times.
The rover's prime target is a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain inside the crater, known as Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp. The mountain's layers of rock could preserve billions of years' worth of geological history, shedding light on the planet's transition from its warmer, wetter past to its current cold, dry climate.
Some scientists think Curiosity could even detect the signs of present-day life, although NASA doesn't go that far.


The final phase of the Mars Science Laboratory's journey from Earth to Mars relied on technologies that had never been tried before in outer space — which is why it was called the "seven minutes of terror."
Seven minutes before landing, Mars Science Laboratory threw off its cruise stage and began its plunge through the planet's atmosphere at a speed of 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second). It jettisoned two solid-tungsten weights, shifting the spacecraft's balance to become more like a wing. Small thrusters fired to put the craft through a series of "S" turns to adjust the trajectory.
The heat shield weathered temperatures ranging up to 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit (2,100 degrees Celsius). At an altitude of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the spacecraft deployed its parachute, even while it was traveling at supersonic speeds.
First the heat shield dropped away. Then the parachute and the back shell flew off, leaving behind the rover and its rocket-powered "sky crane."
The sky crane handled the final phase of the slowdown by firing eight retro rockets. It descended to a height of about 65 feet (20 meters) and lowered the rover to the surface on the end of three cables. When the rover hit the ground, the cables were cut loose, and the sky crane blasted itself away from the landing site.
Adam Steltzner, the engineer in charge of drawing up the landing plan, said 79 explosive devices had to go off in just the right sequence — otherwise, the landing would have almost certainly failed.
NASA went with the seemingly crazy system because the 1-ton Curiosity is the heaviest payload ever delivered to the Martian surface. That weight is too heavy for the airbag-cushioned system that was used for previous Mars rovers, and too unstable to put on a lander with legs, Steltzner said.
Before the landing, Steltzner said he and his team were "rationally confident" and "emotionally terrified."


When Curiosity touched down, it was out of Earth's direct line of sight, so three orbiting probes — NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as well as the European Space Agency's Mars Express — monitored the data being sent out by the spacecraft. However, only Odyssey was capable of relaying the data back immediately, using what's called a "bent pipe" communication mode.
The telemetry was picked up by a radio telescope in Canberra, Australia, that's part of NASA's Deep Space Network, and relayed to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mission controllers had broken out their jars of good-luck peanuts and anxiously awaited the arrival of the signal at the appointed time, 10:31 p.m. PT Sunday (1:31 a.m. ET Monday).
TV cameras monitored the action as the data came in — allowing the whole world to see the wave of relief and celebration roll through the room. More than a dozen VIPs were among those watching from JPL's campus in Pasadena.
The guest list included Black Eyed Peas musician Will.I.Am and actors Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek"), Morgan Freeman (from "Deep Impact" and "Through the Wormhole"), Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: Next Generation") and June Lockhart (from "Lost in Space" and "Lassie).
"What jollies!" Lockhart, 87, exclaimed during a quick visit to the JPL newsroom.

Olympic doubles gold goes to Williams sisters anew

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams relishes her role as copycat little sister. Even if it takes her 12 years. Now, she has that remarkable Olympic double — just like Venus.
The overpowering American pair teamed to win the women's doubles title at the Olympics today, with Serena adding to the singles gold she won on Centre Court at Wimbledon a day earlier.
"Crazy," Serena said. "I'm always copying her. I forgot that she did it in Sydney and I do it here. We're the same doubles team, we just split this to singles, so it's cool."
The sisters beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the roof on a rainy afternoon at the All England Club. Venus — with her red, white and blue braids pulled back into a bun — closed out the match on the very grass she has long loved with a backhand volley winner after the Czechs saved a pair of match points.
"We all talk about this, 'We have so many medals,' but to be able to add to that, it's like an unbelievable feeling," Venus said. "You know that in that count, there you are. It feels amazing."
On Saturday, Serena beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the singles gold. She joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam — winning the Olympics and the four majors.
When the Americans in the crowd at Centre Court broke into a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" as the players left the court, the sisters each pumped their fists, turned around to wave, then slapped a high-five. The medal ceremony had to wait for the outdoor bronze-medal match, which was delayed by rain.
With Bob and Mike Bryan capturing gold in men's doubles Saturday, make it three golds for U.S. tennis in two days.
"It's great because America's added three gold medals to our medal count just in the tennis," Venus said. "I feel great to be a part of this U.S. team this year."
Serena became tennis' first double gold medalist at an Olympics since Venus won singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games. The sisters also won the doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
With Sunday's victory, they each have a record four Olympic tennis gold medals, and the sisters didn't drop a set through their five matches at the London Games.

While Serena was thrilled to win on her own Saturday, with Venus rooting her on from the family box, the doubles is what she most cared about coming to the London Games.
Especially considering all the emotional and physical struggles for Venus, who was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue.
"This is all I wanted," said Venus, who had all of about two months to raise her ranking and qualify for the Olympics. "Boy, was that a battle. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I really feel proud of what happened here at the Olympics."
But for years Venus has been comfortable on the lawn at Wimbledon, where she has won five of her seven Grand Slam titles.
"Venus has been going through so much and she's so strong and so she's so amazing," Serena said. "And to win this was my goal."
The Williamses also became the first tennis players to win Olympic gold indoors since the 1912 Stockholm Games, a match played in a pavilion on wood courts painted black.
On Sunday, they won the fourth game of the second set at love on Venus' ace, the first of three straight games in which they didn't lose a point.
Serena overcame two break points trailing 1-0 in the second set. She pumped her fist and cheered after a forehand winner down the alley past a poaching Hradecka, who was aggressive at the net all afternoon.
The Czechs held in four of their first five service games, including Hlavackova's first that went to deuce four times.
Venus Williams joins Conchita Martinez of Spain as the only tennis players to win medals at three different Olympics. Martinez's medals all came in doubles — silver in Barcelona in 1992, bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games and silver in Athens in 2004.
Gigi Fernandez and current U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez are the only others to win back-to-back Olympic tennis gold medals after they teamed for doubles titles in 1992 and 1996.
And the sisters insist they're not done yet.
"We're looking forward to Rio," Serena said, "and trying to get some sort of medal there."