Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lance Armstrong says Alberto Contador is "the best right now"

“I personally think riders like Menchov, Sastre and Lance came to the Giro because, psychologically, they don’t believe they can beat Contador at the Tour,” said Matt White, a race director for the Garmin-Slipstream team and Armstrong’s former teammate on the United States Postal Service team. “They’d rather get a big win here."

SHOOT: White is wrong. Armstrong is using the Giro to sharpen up for the Tour, along with numerous other races. It's part of his training and his preparation for the Tour. Anyone who thinks Lance will ride the Tour de France the way he has ridden the Giro is a nutter, and any rider who makes that assumption is taking a huge gamble.
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ANAGNI, Italy — Here and there along the Giro d’Italia route over the last three weeks, fans encouraged Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, to race harder.

On Stage 3 of this 21-stage race, one poster said in Italian, “Lance Armstrong’s collarbone may have broken, but his will to win will never be.”

Twitpics From The Giro

With one stage to go, Denis Menchov, a Russian on the Rabobank team, is in the pink leader’s jersey with a 20-second lead over Danilo Di Luca of Italy. Armstrong, who started the race as a support rider for his teammate Levi Leipheimer, is 12th, 15 minutes 4 seconds out of first place. Philippe Gilbert of Belgium won the 20th stage on Saturday.

Armstrong, 37, had made it a goal to win this Giro before he crashed and was injured two months ago. Since then, as it turns out, he has transformed into something previously unthinkable. The man once unbeatable is now an underdog.

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The thing that irks us the most about the whole Boyle phenomenon is how the show's producers (including evil genius Simon Cowell) have exploited her eccentricity and, let's face it, her homeliness, for their own gains. Sure, barring some sort of spectacular flameout in the finals, her worldwide name recognition will pretty much allow her to make millions (of which Simon and crew will undoubtedly get a substantial cut) and to do whatever she pleases for the next couple of years. Still, the cynic inside of us can't help but feel like she's been positioned as a reality-show version of a circus freak — hey, look at the dowdy frump with the mildly appealing voice!

SHOOT: If you were being exploited it would piss you off wouldn't it? Question is, can she turn it to her advantage? Can anyone?
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Leave Susan Boyle Alone!

After a shaky performance in the BGT semifinals, in which the show's producers attempted to position the Hairy Angel as a Christlike figure, Boyle apparently had a bit of a meltdown, in which she shouted profanities at both television screens and policemen (bobbies?). As you might expect, the British tabloids jumped all over the story: "SuBo Goes Loco!" shouted the Sun. "Boyling Point!" screamed the Mirror. After being assaulted by the press for days on end, frankly we're shocked that Chris Crocker hasn't come out of retirement to post a "Leave Susan Boyle alone!" rant on YouTube.

We'll be honest with you here. Frankly, we don't care if Susan Boyle wins or loses the competition; if you were to press us for an answer, we'd kinda like to see that Shaheen Jafargholi kid take home the prize. Still, that doesn't mean that we're rooting against Susan Boyle, not in the slightest.
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Chiefs offer no excuses, Matfield cites hard work in "the best two weeks of my life"

"The last two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life," Bulls captain Victor Matfield, who was an inspirational figure for his team in both their semifinal win over the Crusaders and this demolition of the Chiefs where he played his 94th Super rugby match, said.

"We started working for this in November. It showed that if you work hard you'll get the result on the field. We had no injuries in the last few weeks and that helped."

He had a word of sympathy for the Chiefs, saying: "We all know how hard it is to travel and come all this way. The Chiefs had an awesome year."
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"We weren't allowed to play by the Bulls. That was a world class performance and well done to them. They thoroughly deserved their win and title.

"They showed us how to play and we just couldn't get going. The Bulls have had a fantastic season and I wish them all the best for Springboks selection."

Muliaina also thanked his side for their season if not their final where they were beaten by 44 points: "It's been a hard few years but thanks for your efforts this year."

He even got into the mood when he thanked the massive crowd in Afrikaans for showing up: "Baie dankie."

The Chiefs lamented the way they weren't allowed back into the match as the Bulls hit back with three quick tries after Lelia Masaga had given the visitors hope with the opening try.

The final might have been disappointing because of its one-sided nature but try telling the Bulls that or their 50,000 adoring fans who packed the stadium

Matfield thanked the supporters, without you we couldn't have done this.

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Was Susan Boyle's performance good enough? [LEAVE A COMMENT]

SHOOT: Anyone see the show? I didn't but I believe she got a standing ovation. I reckon if she got a standing ovation and no one else did, that ought to clinch it for her. Comments?

Susan Boyle - a lamb headed to the slaughter?

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LONDON – The lady has sung. But has she won?

Susan Boyle faced the music for the final time Saturday, performing in the finals of "Britain's Got Talent."

The 48-year-old internet sensation and Scottish church volunteer sang "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables," and received a standing ovation from the audience and judges.

It was the song she chose for her initial audition in April.

But now she faces a public vote, and she won't know until 10 p.m. local time (5 p.m. EDT) whether she or one of the other nine competitors has triumphed.

The winner receives a 100,000 pound ($159,000) prize and the chance to perform before Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show.

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Sexy Eye Candy for a Saturday Night [PHOTOGRAPHY]

How did the Bulls manage to give the Chiefs such a mighty beating?

Just three weeks ago the tournament poopers, the Cheetahs, threatened an upset against the Bulls; they were ahead 15-7 which the Bulls closed to 15-10 at the break. Does anyone remember that the Bulls only hit the lead in the last 12 minutes of that game? They snatched victory once again due to some handy opportunism courtesy of Brian Habana.

So how could a side who was almost pummeled by log losers outplay the Chiefs? Well, a few reasons. One, the Bulls stayed at home after their last bruising game against the Crusaders. Second, the Bulls live at high altitude. Any side that plays at Loftus Park in Pretoria can expect to run out of gas after 30 minutes in the field. The air at 1500m is thin. What the Bulls learnt from the Crusaders was to expect a ferocious opening spell from the Chiefs. The Bulls tactics would be to resist this period and if possible get their noses in front. After that any side would find clawing points whilst drowning in the thin blue air of Loftus a tall order. And that's what happened.

The Bulls pulled ahead to lead 34-7 by halftime, and incredibly extended their lead to a record thrashing 61-17, earning the Bulls their 2nd Super 17 title. Amazingly, the score could have been higher, 68-17, had Jaco Pretorius not fumbled the ball as he crossed the try line.

While it was an intense performance, the Bulls were the side with greater intensity, and greater determination. While the Chiefs demonstrated some powerful runs, and resisted some hard tackling, they seemed to have the air punched out of their sails early on as the Bulls closed down all the holes on the field, and ripped open their own. Habana was at his opportunistic best, Fourie du Preez played an inspiring game as usual, scoring two tries in 3 minutes, and Pierre Spies had a brilliant 300 metre dash to score with Habana waving frantically on his inside.

The game was effectively snatched from them in the first 17 minutes despite scoring first. The Bulls capitalised on three errors to score three tries and stun Mils Muliaina's side.

When Bryan Habana produced a trademark intercept try right on halftime for a 34-7 lead with the Chiefs drowning in a sea of blue.

To their credit the brave Chiefs were more effective in the second half but a final isn't the place to play catchup as they discovered in their first appearance in the title match.

The Bulls never wavered from the game plan that got them to the final, content to kick when they were in their own half and wait for counter-attacking chances off mistakes at the other end. They got more than enough to get by.

Morne Steyn slotted a drop kick, but not all his kicks went through the uprights. Wynand Olivier, who scored a beaut of a try, was man of the match. Akona Ndungane didn't see much ball and had a few unlucky touches. Victor Matfield scored a surprising try by climbing over a small ruck in the right hand corner and planting the ball with the rest of his huge body still in the air. Danie Rossouw also stormed in a try thanks to a clever pass from Captain Matfield.

The stadium had an electric atmosphere - packed to capacity with vocal Bulls supporters. One of the television announcers said, following Miss South Africa's praise for the Bulls, "I'd love to have her on my side." A minute later she ran into the picture and planted a kiss on his cheek. The announcer then stuttered a few questions to her, obviously thrown somewhat. A thrilling game and one all South Africans would have thoroughly enjoyed. Naas Botha said afterwards that it was probably one of the finest performances he'd seen from 15 men in a long time.

More: Chiefs offer no excuses, Matfield cites hard work in "the best two weeks of my life"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Susan Boyle is a psychological lamb to the slaughter

SHOOT: Anyone who lives a life of relative obscurity takes a huge risk foisting themselves into the limelight. The media is shallow and vicious in their pursuit of a pound of your flesh for a pound of advertising. Good luck Susan.
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FILE  - In this Thursday April 16, 2009 file photo Susan Boyle, whose

Boyle's life story has also helped win over the world's media. She cared for her widowed mother for years, lives alone with her cat, Pebbles, in one of Scotland's poorest regions, and said she's never been kissed.

Psychologist David Wilson warned in the Daily Mail on Friday that a woman of Boyle's background would have difficulty coping with the intense media focus.

He said she was "a psychological lamb to the slaughter."

"This video of Susan Boyle is quickly becoming the most viewed video of all-time — and nobody's making money," Van Buskirk said.

Most hits received by videos of Boyle were unofficial uploads by fans, and none carried advertising. But the producers have built global brand recognition for the show.

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Lance Armstrong interviews Robbie Hunter [VIDEO]

Lance and Levi Speak With Robbie Hunter After the Giro -- powered by

SHOOT: This is great!

Giro: Pictures from Stage 19

SHOOT: Some great shots.

Time and real estate were running out and Di Luca knew it.  With 26-seconds to make up he had to attack or be content to sit in second place.   But not knowing the word “quit,” the tenacious Italian attacked but Menchov was quickly on his wheel.  Basso broke away again, soon followed by Sastre, while Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti-Diquigiovanni) and Garzelli attacked too.  Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Dani Navarro were all with the Maglia Rosa group, and just behind were Yaroslav Popovych and Jani Brajkovic. 

At 5km to go Sastre left Basso and headed for the home stretch, while behind them the race blew apart.  Pellizotti bridged up to teammate Basso but kept riding past in order to secure the bonus points for second place and keep his podium position ahead of Sastre.  Di Luca continued to attack over and over, but Menchov responded each and every time, patiently marking the Italian rider and finishing just behind him in 4th, the race lead still his since the time trial on stage 12.

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Tennis should have heard Michelle Larcher de Brito [aka 'The Shrieker'] coming

SHOOT: Click on the link below to listen to her abominable shrieking. Quite funny. Makes Monica Seles sound like The Horse Whisperer.
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PARIS — At age 16 in her first Grand Slam tournament, Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito walked on to the world’s most important clay court full of eagerness to play her third-round match against Aravane Rezai.

Two hours later, tennis’s latest precocious teen walked off the Philippe Chatrier court a loser amid a disapproving chorus of boos and whistles. She was soon in tears in the players lounge.

It was a poignant, unsettling and thoroughly predictable finish to a French Open match in which Larcher de Brito’s competitive fire, scrappy defense and remarkable ball-striking were overshadowed by her shrieks and bellicose body language.

Rezai’s 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory over De Brito was the match that will linger in memory as will the cursory handshake afterward in which De Brito tapped Rezai’s extended palm rather than shake it.
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Jeff Rubin on Oil and the Economy [VIDEO]

If you're looking for just a journalist or just a reporter, get lost

What makes a good story? What makes an impression? What do you read that tends to stay with you? Simple. It has to be interesting. And what separates me from Clark kent, Peter Parker and every other average-Joe reporter doing their beat, doing their job, is I write about what interests me, what I'm truly passionate about. I write to inspire, to inform and sometimes because the media lacks meaning or meaningful information in a particular area. They may not be interpretting the news, they may not be on the look out for the signal between all the noise. I am. For me it's not just another meaningless message; it's not just a job.

I am employed by a media company, but I work as a freelancer. This gives me the freedom to pursue what I like and publish what I want without being constrained or biased towards one particular brand or corporate mindset. As a result I have been published in every major newspaper in South Africa, and most of the major magazines. Look out for the July 2009 edition of Men's Health for my interview (and video) with Gavin Hood.

I have a wide variety of interests, but I'm particularly interested in alternative energy and alternative energy products. Earlier this year I interviewed Gerhard Swart, who is behind the exciting Joule Electric Car development. Watch out for my article The Heart of the Joule in the upcoming edition of Biophile magazine.
I'm also interested in economics. I've written in the past for Financial Mail on Korea, a country wired for wealth.
I'm interested in sports, [ particularly cycling, swiming and triathlon] , and health and nutrition.
I believe our attitude towards swine flu is far too complacent. This view is based on the insights provided by experts I have interviewed, including Dr. John Oxford and Professor Robert Bragg.

I'm interested in nature, so if you have a getaway somewhere in the African outback you'd like to promote, I'm your man. Botswana and the Kalahari are favorite haunts for me. I am currently putting together a photographic exhibition on haunting South African landscapes.

I also enjoy international travel, and am still very keen to visit Finland, Iceland, Alaska and Mongolia. I was one of a handful of writers invited on a Press Tour to South Korea in April 2008, and this year was invited to visit Dubai.

I also interview and photograph personalities. These are people who are hard working, respectable people with stories worth telling. In some cases they may have just started on their journey, for example, the animator Dan Barker and swimmers Jean-Marie Neethling and Roxanne Meyer. Roxanne is a model I discovered while training at Virgin Active (she is the youngest ever qualifier for senior nationals, doing so at age 11). If I see potential I am happy to help leverage your exposure into the public domain. This may include shooting a portfolio of photos, setting up a Facebook profile and a blog, and setting out a whole strategy for your search for fame and fortune.

It's been said that those who advertise in Depression's survive. Those who fail to get the market's attention will disappear quickly.
Ifyou're serious about getting your story out there, and you feel you have a story worth caring about, contact me by leaving a comment, or send me an email.

Here's a sample of my work: Miles to go before we sleep [published in Sunday Times Travel

What to do if you get the flu? [Here's what I did]

A few days ago, Monday afternoon in fact,I suddenly sensed a change in my body. I suddenly felt really lousy. I had been feeling irritable and moody over the weekend, but by Monday afternoon I could feel a birdsnest growing in my upper throat, right behind the nasal area. It was a sort of itchy and wet sensation. This was followed by my skin feeling prickly and almost painful to the touch.

On the way home from work I went to a pharmacy and asked for "something that can dry up phlegm." I was given sinumax, with paracetamol. I didn't think this was correct as I didn't think I was suffering from sinusitus. It felt like a cold, not sinusitis. Nevertheless the pharmacist said it would relieve the mucous problem. She was right.

The next day, Tuesday, I felt a lot worse, and so didn't go to work. Sinumax was effective in drying up the mucous,I was sniffing a lot less. Usually mucous builds up in the nasal area and then drips down, causing first a sore throat and then a cough. You remain sick for the duration of the period that it takes to get all the gunk that has accumulated in your lungs, out again. If this takes long enough you can get a secondary infection, which predicates the use of anti-biotics. One of the nastier secondary infections is strep-throat.

On Wednesday I felt worse than Tuesday, including symptoms of dizziness and fever. I stayed away from milk and other dairy products. Anything sugary feeds these germs in your throat passages. I gargled once with salty water, something I should have done more. I went to the doctor on Wednesday and she supported the use of Sinumax to dry up the excess mucous. She advised gargling with salt water, and prescribed Vita-Thion to bolster my immunity and Bisolvon Linctus to further dilute phlegm. She also prescribed celestamine, which is a great medication used to open up the airways (often used for bee stings). I haven't used that as I think it tends to make one very sleepy. Sinumax certainly does.

By Thursday the dizziness and fever was gone, but I was still very mucous-y. Friday I thought I'd be all better. I'm somewhat improved, but still feel weak and sniffy.
I think I'll be back in the gym by Monday, Sunday if I'm really feeling good. 4-5 days sickness, with only 3 really bad days - you could do worse. So if you want to get over flu, any flu, as soon as you can, here's my list of tips:

1) Catch it quickly, and begin treating it quickly. Use an over-the-counter paracetamol like Sinumax to dry up excess phlegm. You can get this immediately without a doctors prescription.
2) Stay indoors and if you live with someone, no kissing, wash hands etc. Try not to go shopping or to work while you're coughing and sniffing. It's for your benefit and their's
3) If your symptoms are getting worse, call your doctor. If your throat is very painful, almost unbearable to swallow, you should have your flu tested (a mouth swab or a blood test is done).
4) Take vitamin C via fresh fruit, and get some vitamin D from a few minutes exposure to direct sunlight (face and body).
It's well known that Vitamin D deficiency is behind our vulnerability to flu; Vitamin C can relieve the symptoms somewhat
5) Stay away from sugary foods such as chocolates, sodas, cakes, sweets, dairy products, greasy foods and spicy foods. Breads, fish and certain vegetables are fine. Drink lots of water or lemon tea. Lemons, apples and oranges are great.
6) Get plenty of rest. Sleep rest. I find the value in the medications I get not so much in the chemicals themselves, but that they make one sleepy.
7) Start building up your immunity by eating properly and getting into a good sleep pattern. Chances are, you were draining your body in one or both of these areas.

I am going to start training again only once I feel 100%. If you start sooner, you'll get sick sooner. Happy health ;-)

People die of flu anyway, we don't know what's going to happen so we're going to just wait and see and hope for the best

SHOOT: This tends to sum up the average view of people. I'll use one word to summarise this response: FUCKING LAZY. The fact is we have no natural immunity and we know that pandemic flu has the ability, beyond earthquakes, hurricanes and wars, to wipe out millions of people. All it has to do is mutate, on a whim. If you don't believe in evolution, you might want to pay attention here. It's un-fucking-believable how stupid the average man-in-the-street is.
I have had flu these past few days - ordinary flu. I can tell you, if I caught an exotic strain I would be really worried. I know of so many people in my circle of friends and co-workers that already have the flu, and yet we treat swine flu as been-there-done-that. Anyway good to see Oz are stockpiling. They are on the right track.
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PETER CAVE: Australia is bracing itself for a swine flu pandemic, pre-ordering 10-million doses of a vaccine and boosting its antiviral stockpile.
The epicentre of the virus, Victoria, watched its tally double overnight; more schools have been closed and a weekend football match has been cancelled.
And whether the virus is worthy of the hysteria it's creating continues to be debated.
RACHAEL BROWN: As the swine flu case count continues its sharp climb, the pressure on the community is starting to take its toll.
KEVIN RUDD: The stockpiling of our antivirals is probably, on a per capita basis, one of the best provisioned anywhere in the world.
ROSANNA CAPOLINGUA: There have been deaths overseas of course so the circumstances, particularly in Mexico may be different to what we experience here. Influenza can take people's lives anyway. We don't know what is going to happen. We have got at least until November, the whole winter season, to experience swine influenza here.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

There may be huge amounts of oil in the Arctic [or not]

"Based on our study, there are 40 [billion] to 160 billion barrels of oil north of the Arctic Circle," said Gautier.

SHOOT: 40 billion is enough for the world for just over 1 year. 160 billion is quite a lot. This is like a weather forecaster saying, there's a 20-80% chance of rain. is it? Hopefully there is oil at the Arctic. Unfortunately, even if there is, extraction costs will be high, which means the days of cheap oil are over. If you think oil is cheap now, imagine how cheap it is if you don't have a job. So it's an objective statement whichever way you want to inerpret it.
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A new survey finds the Arctic could hold almost double the amount of oil previously found in the region.

(CNN) -- Continental shelves beneath the retreating polar ice caps of the Arctic may hold almost double the amount of oil previously found in the region, scientists say.

In new findings, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic may be home to 30 percent of the planet's undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil.

A team of scientists at the USGS collaborated with international researchers to conduct the first-ever comprehensive assessment of undiscovered oil and gas reserves within the Arctic Circle.

"We tried to put some boundaries on the range of possibilities and resources available in the Arctic," said geologist Donald Gautier, lead author of the survey, which is published this week in the journal Science.

Undiscovered oil in the Arctic may account for almost 4 percent of the world's remaining conventionally recoverable oil resources, USGS scientists say.

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Warning: Facile Market suffers from Schizophrenia

SHOOT: So at the same time, the media reports that GDP growth is ratcheting downward at a record rate, but oil prices are shooting up. That just doesn't compute. If GDP increases, demand increases, and so oil prices increases. But GDP is worsening at a rapid rate and oil prices are still increasing?
GDP losses are based on reality - job losses, porperty markets crashing, inflation. Oil price gains are based entirely on sentimental fiction. Hopes based on nothing that 'recovery' is likely. It's not. Hoping so may change things until reality catches up. This is the market grasping at straws and demonstrating how facile the market [thinks it] is.
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WASHINGTON – The economy sank at a 5.7 percent pace in the first quarter as the brute force of the recession carried over into this year. However, many analysts believe activity isn't shrinking nearly as much now as the downturn flashes signs of letting up.

FILE - In this file photo taken March 22, 2009, the container ship Cap San

It was a grim first-quarter performance despite the small upgrade. It marked the second straight quarter where the economy took a huge tumble. At the end of last year, the economy shrank at a staggering 6.3 percent pace, the most in a quarter-century.

Economy sinks at a 5.7 percent pace in 1Q

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Oil price surges above $66

LONDON – Oil prices extended a rally to above $66 a barrel Friday to hit a fresh six-month high, after the U.S. reported a fall in oil inventories and further signs of an improving economy.

"The market is factoring in a recovery in demand by the end of the year."

"But there's no real evidence that demand is picking up at this point."

In London, Brent prices rose 92 cents to $65.31 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

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Swine flu - an invisible pandemic sneaking up on an unsuspecting world

SHOOT: I believe history will show that too many were complacent, including scientists, the media, and health authorities. We live in a world with too much noise clouding out the signals. Of course, this is no excuse. Failure to discern reality is an expensive lesson to learn.
Russian scientists are trying to create a vaccine against swine flu in the Flu Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in St Petersburg (Image: KPA / Zuma / Rex Features)

Hospitals in Greece have identified H1N1 swine flu in two students who had no contact with known cases of the virus and had not been in countries with widespread infection. The infections were discovered even though the students should not have been tested for swine flu under European rules. The Greek authorities say this shows the rules must change.

Indeed, an investigation by New Scientist earlier this month showed that the EU rules would exclude exactly such cases and could make H1N1 appear much less widespread in Europe than it is.

Takis Panagiotopoulos of the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Athens and colleagues reported on 28 May in Eurosurveillance, a weekly bulletin published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, Sweden, that two Greek men returning home from Scotland had tested positive this week for H1N1 swine flu.

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Giro d'Italia - Stage 16 Results - Sastre wins, Popo blows, Leipheimer loses Giro in crucial climb

SHOOT: Looks like an interesting stage. Popovych was stirring but ran out of steam, and the Astana had some bad luck with Poppy breaking away just as Leipheimer had a puncture. Ivan Basso attacked to claw back Popo, which got Lance Armstrong and Carlos Sastre to make a crucial and bold and ultimately successful move. Satre was awesome today.

1755 CEST Ivan caught, but Sastre looks unstoppable in the lead.

There he goes, only a few hundred metres left for the upcoming stage winner...

100m ... 50 ... 20 ... CARLOS SASTREEEEEEE is the winner.

Menchov prevailed in the battle for 2nd place at 25"; Di Luca was 3rd at 26", and Basso 4th at 29".

Garzelli (5th at 01'19"), young talent Masciarelli (6th at 01'21") and Pellizotti (7th at 01'21") came in next. Valjavec made the stage top eight complete.

Levi and Lance have not crossed the line yet.

Here they are, finishing the stage 02 minutes and 50 seconds behind today's winner. Popovych apparently finished behind them. The Ukrainian just ran out of steam in the last few miles.

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