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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jeep Liberty Limited works like a truck

Texas Truck Mama smiled as she pulled into the driveway in her little Mini Cooper. Parked in front of her was a considerably different vehicle, a 2008 Jeep Liberty Limited sport-utility vehicle. It was about two feet longer than her Mini Cooper, several inches taller and nearly 900 pounds heavier.

The four-wheel-drive Jeep Liberty, of course, had a bigger engine -- a 3.7-liter, 210-horsepower V-6, compared with the 1.6-liter, 118-horsepower in-line four-cylinder engine in her front-wheel-drive Mini.

The Jeep Liberty, wearing all-new sheet metal for 2008, looking rugged the way a Jeep should look, barely got 21 miles per gallon on the highway, drinking regular unleaded gasoline. Texas Truck Mama's Mini got 36 mpg on the highway. And with her behind the wheel, driving like the mild-mannered elementary school teacher she is, squeezing 37 or 38 mpg out of her Mini was not uncommon, although she frequently complained about the Mini's requirement for premium unleaded fuel.

I mention these things in solicitation of help in figuring out the woman to whom I've been married for nearly 40 years.

She's a little thing, barely standing five feet tall. She's painfully sensible. Had it not been for her, we could've been a part of the mortgage mess that's sinking the U.S. economy. She was an environmentalist before environmentalism was cool. And she's so cheap she has an almost religious compulsion to return an item to a store if she discovers that she could have gotten the same thing from somewhere else for 10 cents less.

But when it comes to trucks in general and Jeeps in particular, the woman is insane. Fuel economy doesn't matter. Her usual preference for small cars disappears. Bigger becomes better. Her mild demeanor is supplanted by a lust for power. Mary Anne -- the sweetly smiling schoolteacher and gentle, churchgoing wife from Marshall, Texas -- becomes Texas Truck Mama.

"It's a Jeep! A Jeep!" she exclaimed as she pulled into the driveway.

Then, for a moment, she returned to sobriety. She thought about Ria Manglapus, my associate in vehicle evaluations. "What's Ria driving?" Mary Anne asked.

"Ria's running the Infiniti M45X," I said, thankful that the Infiniti had come a few hours before the Jeep Liberty arrived.

"Oh, well, that's good," Mary Anne said. She backed her Mini out of the driveway and parked it on the street. "Where's the Jeep key?" she asked. I gave it to her. She came inside, dropped her school bags on a living room couch ... and left.

"Errands," she said.

And it went that way for several days -- Mini parked on the street, Mary Anne behind the wheel of the Jeep, until I reminded her that Ria and I weren't reviewing the Mini.

That is when I discovered something else -- that women generally seem nuts about Jeeps. For example, the women at Mary Anne's school were almost as sad as Mary Anne when we took the Jeep away. "I really love that Jeep," the school's vice principal said in a tone that hinted accusation. And, then, Ria: "I thought I wasn't going to get a chance to drive it," she said, collecting the Jeep key and turning over the key to the Infiniti M45X.

Go figure.

The Infiniti M45X is a premium luxury car -- elegant, fast and powerful. The Jeep Liberty is, well, a Jeep. Its attractive new body does not conceal its essential nature, which is that of a utilitarian truck.

The 2008 Jeep Liberty feels better on the road than older Liberty models, the first of which went on sale in the United States six years ago. But there are many sport-utility rivals that have a smoother, more car-like, on-road ride.

The Jeep Liberty beats many competitors off-road. It is a mud-loving, rock-crawling vehicle if ever there was one. But neither Mary Anne, nor Ria, nor any of the women at Mary Anne's school, nor I, drove the 2008 Jeep Liberty off-road. We used it the way most Americans use sport-utility vehicles -- as a station wagon.

My off-road experiences with Jeep Liberty SUVs were in previous versions. Judging from the mechanicals of the 2008 model -- Command-Trac four-wheel-drive (in the tested version), four-wheel-independent suspension with solid live rear axle, hill descent control, electronic high-low gear selection and automatically locking hubs -- the new Jeep Liberty has sacrificed none of its off-road prowess.

But if that prowess isn't ever used, does it matter?

"Yes," said Texas Truck Mama. "It makes you feel like you could do something if you wanted to do something. It makes you feel powerful," she said.

General Motors to sell used cars on eBay

General Motors said Friday that 3,900 auto dealers who sell GM’s Certified Used Cars will list their entire inventories on eBay Motors, according to industry publication Automotive News.

The listings will be free for dealers, the report said, and could radically alter the used-car business.

Mark Matthews, GM’s director of used-vehicle activities, told Automotive News that the certified used-vehicle inventory of dealers who sell GM Certified-brand vehicles will be listed on the third-party classified site starting in the second quarter.

GM’s brands include used Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac and Oldsmobile vehicles. Cadillac, Hummer, Saab and Saturn have separate certified used-vehicle programs, but their certified-used inventories will be listed on the site, too, Matthews told the publication.

The eBay Motors Web site has 11 million unique users and the agreement with GM allows dealers who sell GM brands to show their certified-used inventory to them. The program will become even more attractive to dealers and consumers if other manufacturers post their certified-used inventory on the site, too, Matthews told Automotive News.

GM is still working with eBay Motors to finish the site, according to the report, which also noted that GM’s certified-used vehicle inventory is already listed on more than 300 Web sites.

Fiat 500C – Sometimes A Picture Says It All

As the title suggests, sometimes I’m actually lost for words. Not often, but sometimes. This is one of those times. I’m afraid that you, like me, cannot now unsee the picture above. Granted, there was already a ‘pink’ version of the 500 available, but this one is a convertible. This means that EVEN MORE PEOPLE will stare. Make of that what you will. Anyway, here’s the extras you get:

* Special Pink colour
* 16-inch alloy wheels
* Chrome trim
* Side rubbing strip with 500 badge
* Body coloured door mirrors
* Leather steering wheel
* Leather gear knob
* Special carpet mats
* Special Pink key cover
* Split folding rear seat
* Blue&Me infotainment

Want one? This is one of those rare occasions where I’ll say you can keep it!

5MW wind turbines on this wind farm

The natural resource of wind powers these 5MW wind turbines on this wind farm 28 km off the coast of Belgium.


The Upsala Glacier in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina is an example of a natural resource.

Kareena Kapoor: 'Marriage is just a public certificate'

March 18, 2010, (Sawf News) - Kareena Kapoor is focused on her career and has beau Saif Ali Khan to lean on, so marriage is not a priority at this point in her life..

"Marriage is just a public certificate," Kareena told HT in an interview. "It means more to society than us. It will happen, hopefully soon, but not rightaway."

The unabashed but talented Kapoor lass also hinted that she is the highest paid actress in the industry.

"I don't stick to a price but I get what I deserve. And going by the list of my mega producers and multinational brands that I have signed up with, it's not hard to figure out that I'm getting the best," she said.

Kareena is particularly excited with her first international brand promotion assignment for Sony Ericsson with tennis star Anna Kournikova.

"I've just been signed up by an international phone brand, Sony Ericsson, to promote a new product on the international platform, alongside tennis star Anna Kournikova. The launch will be in Delhi, followed by an international launch in New York," she said.

Kareena will be next seen in Milenge Milenge opposite former beau Shahid Kapoor. The much delayed film is finally expected to be released this summer.

Kareena Kapoor opts out of Race 2, waits for Padam Shri!

March 18, 2010, (Sawf News) - Kareena Kapoor says she 'so wanted to do' the crime thriller Race 2, but is wary of doing too many films with beau Saif Ali Khan!

"It's a conscious decision not to do too many films with Saif," she told HT in an interview. "He'll have to find another actress for Race 2. But I still run away whenever they start talking about the film. I so wanted to do it."

Not known for her humility, Kareena also said she expects to win a Padam Shri award "in five-seven years."

"With the support of my friends from the film industry and the media it could happen. I'm looking forward to the day," she elaborated.

Referring to the controversy surrounding the Padam Shri given to Saif, Kareena said:

"It was probably because at 40 he was one of the youngest Padma Shri winners this year. But I think the honor was richly deserved given the kind of work he's been doing. He doesn't do too many films but the ones he agrees to, he takes to another level. He is a spectacular actor who is always willing to stretch boundaries."

She clinched the argument with a profound - "If not Saif, who else deserves a Padma Shri?"

Video: Kareena Kapoor & Saif Ali Khan in Airtel Ad April 2010

Kareena Kapoor & Saif Ali Khan in Airtel Ad April 2010

Movie Tashan-Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in BIG trouble.

Best of Saif Kareena

Best of Saif Kareena


Can’t take his eyes off Kareena.

At Padma Shri Awards


President Pratibha Patil gives the badge.

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor share magical moments


After receiving an honorary award like Padma Shri, Saif Ali Khan is on cloud nine. Though his name for Padma Shri raised many eyebrows, the man remains unperturbed. Wearing an off-white sherwani and accompanied by his ladylove Kareena Kapoor, also dressed in an off-white salwar suit, Saif looked classy and handsome on Wednesday.

Now, he is Shri Saif and people have already started calling him that. Kareena, who was slightly under the weather, didn’t miss this lifetime opportunity to be with her man. The couple was clicked sharing some good moments.

Along with Saif, the beautiful Rekha, boxer Vijender Singh, sound technician and Oscar award winner Resul Pookutty of Slumdog Millionaire fame and ace car racer Narain Karthikeyan were also conferred with Padma Shri, while music composer Ilaiyaraaja received Padma Bhushan.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

lean City Partnership

Clean City Partnership
The clean city partnership is responsible for delivering part of outcome 8 and NI 195. It works to raise standards of local environmental quality, including reducing litter, detritus, graffiti and fly tipping.

Chairman: Jacqui Kennedy OBE; Director of Regulatory Services, Birmingham City Council.

Membership consists of representatives from: Birmingham City Council, CSV Environment, Keep Britain Tidy, Midland Heart, Summerfields Resident Association, West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Police.

The clean city partnership has supported these projects in 2008/09:
  • Neighbourhood Charters- working with six priority neighbourhoods in Birmingham to develop cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhood charters. For more information about the programme so far click here to view a presentation.
  • Anti Graffiti programme- Birmingham City Council and a variety of partners have developed a sustainable solution to deal with graffiti. The approach works in 4 ways: intelligence, enforcement, removal and prevention.
  • Clean Priority Neighbourhoods- this project provides cleanliness survey data from the city's 25 priority neighbourhoods to support neighbourhood managers to prioritise and focus cleaning activities. A surveyor, travelling in an electric car, measures litter, fly-tipping, fly-posting graffiti etc.
  • Secured sites- secures and regenerates fly-tipped and disused land across the city. Projects range from gating, fencing and lanscaping, to complete regeneration of sites into parks and wildlife gardens.

VW Polo Named 2010 Car Of The Year

Announced April 1st at the New York International Auto Show in New York City’s Jacob Javits Center, the annual World Car of the Year awards recognize the year’s most outstanding vehicles based on merit, value, safety, environmental impact, significance, and emotional appeal. The VW Polo surpassed 29 other cars to become the the 2010 World Car of the Year.

We’re honoured that the Volkswagen Polo was chosen by this distinguished group of jurors,” said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. “After the great triumph of the Golf last year, we are delighted to repeat this success with the new Polo. These automobiles have reaped numerous awards, winning well-nigh every prize the automotive industry has to award. This shows that Volkswagen is on the right track and is offering arguably the best range of products in its history.”

The latest generation of the Volkswagen Polo has quickly become a favorite in the brand’s lineup to drivers and media alike, with its uncluttered, timeless design, and exceptional versatility and efficiency. More than 230,000 customers worldwide have placed orders for the newest version of Volkswagen’s popular subcompact vehicle.

Another volcanic ash

Another volcanic ash

A new blast of chaos: Another volcanic ash cloud bound for Britain halts reopening of airports 

  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports open, Glasgow set to close again
  • No flights from London airports before 7pm
  • Met Office forecasts latest ash cloud will continue to disperse across England, Wales and Northern Ireland today
A new eruption from the Icelandic volcano today threw plans to get Britain flying again into chaos.
Passengers who were told flights would resume today had their hopes dashed after more cancellations were announced as a new ash cloud headed towards the country.
Flights later today will be limited to eastern Scotland as the volcanic ash cloud situation remains 'dynamic', air traffic control company Nats said.
All London airports remained closed today and there will be no flights before 7pm at the earliest in the rest of England, nor in Wales or Northern Ireland.. 


US trade deficit widens as imports outpace exports

The US trade deficit widened to $39.7bn (£20.8bn) in February, as import growth continued to outpace exports.
The overall trade deficit increased by $2.7bn from January, the Commerce Department said.
At $182.9bn, imports were up 20.5% on the same month a year ago, while exports of $143.2bn were up only 14.3%.
The trade figures confirm the trend of resurgent imports outpacing the rebound in exports as the US economy recovers from recession.

Compared with January on a seasonally-adjusted basis, imports were up 1.72% and exports were up 0.21%.
Export growth was dominated by manufacturing, while imports were driven by consumption.
The figures suggest that the surprise fall in the US trade deficit recorded in January may only have been a blip.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Smart Is Your City?

IBM is offering a free white paper that elaborates on the very successful webcast titled "How Smart Is Your City?"
For the first time in history, the world's population has shifted from a rural majority to an urban one. By 2050, 70 percent of people will be living in cities. Cities are systems of many complex systems. All the ways in which the world works — from transportation, to energy, to healthcare, to commerce, to education, to security, to food and water and beyond — come together in our cities. This means that cities — more than states, provinces or even nations — are the central arena for success or failure.
New tools and new models can now make cities more productive, more vibrant and more responsive. Interconnected and instrumented smart technologies offer a real-time integrated view of complex city systems, enabling administrators to monitor operations, improve performance and respond to the needs of their jurisdictions. New partnerships among businesses and the public sector means greater collaboration and opportunities to build smarter systems and smarter cities.

Do You Drive Before You Buy?

It’s a pet hate of mine – when a buyer gets in their mind that they want a particular car, despite the fact that they’ve never driven it, or even suitable alternatives that better suit their needs. Not only do they run the risk of being disappointed, but by driving before buying, they can sure the new car is exactly what they want.

An astonishing one in five Brits doesn’t test drive a car before they buy it, research from has revealed. Findings also show that more than a quarter of Brits have regretted buying a car soon after purchasing it, with almost 10% blaming the colour of their new motor for their dissatisfaction.

Research commissioned by leading used car website delved into British car buying habits, and has revealed many Brits are intimidated by the buying process and have a tendency to act before they think. Over 75% admitted feeling out of their depth, with little or no confidence when making decisions about buying a car.

Our research has revealed only a quarter of Brits feel confident with the car buying process and it’s clear that some consumers need help when they’re choosing a car,” commented Alan Hazelhurst at

That’s why at we’ve created a free car buying guide to provide consumers with simple, easy to use, jargon-free tips to consider when choosing a car. We aim to take the mystery out of the whole car buying process.”

You can download the free guide at:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Immigrants gild the Golden State

Published Monday, March 02, 2009
More than one-in-four Californians are immigrants, and nearly half are Latino or Asian, according to the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center (IPC). Those two immigrant communities form a large part of the state's economy, providing one-third of the state's purchasing power and owning more than one-quarter of all businesses in the state. Immigrants pay $5.2 billion in state income tax annually, according to IPC's "New Americans in the Golden State: Immigrants, Latinos and Asians Indispensable to California Economy." California's Latino and Asian consumers wielded $411.8 billion in purchasing power in 2008. Immigrants also provide 36% ...

The Official Ford Focus RS500 Video

Just how good is this final swan song for the final Ford Focus of this generation going to be? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be very special indeed. Just take a look at the video above and see what you think. Imagine having that following you on a B road late at night! Surely this fast Ford is going to be the dream of every hot hatch fan out there.

Weather leads to 'hesitant' start for Scottish economy

The severe winter contributed to a "hesitant" beginning to 2010 for the economy, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has said.

A survey found cold weather at the start of the year affected confidence and activity across all sectors.
The main business trends remain negative but are better than a year ago, according to the report.
It concluded signs of a sustained recovery in the Scottish economy "remain elusive".
The report, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute, found rising optimism in manufacturing during the first quarter of 2010.
Of particular concern is the apparent fall in the volume of public sector contracts
Garry Clark
Scottish Chambers of Commerce
Rising export trends led to an improvement in total orders, but the survey found demand in Scotland and the rest of the UK remained weak.
Recruitment in manufacturing was at a lower level than at the end of 2009, with only 26% of firms attempting to hire staff.
The cold weather, together with uncertainty over the forthcoming election, weakened confidence in other sectors.
Demand in tourism declined markedly during the three months to the end of March.
Average occupancy rates for visitor accommodation fell from 62% to 47%, the lowest level for a decade.
Almost half of construction firms reduced total employment levels and none reported an increase in employment.
More than half of retailers reported and expected declining sales in the six months of 2010.
'Crucial time'
Garry Clark, head of policy at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the cold weather and snow had led to a fall in demand and increased bills for businesses.
He said: "This is a crucial time for the Scottish economy.
"The emerging positive outlook in Scottish business for the second half of 2009 has given way to a more cautious optimism in the early months of this year.
"Construction remains in difficulties, and of particular concern is the apparent fall in the volume of public sector contracts."
He said the forthcoming election would remove some of the current uncertainties over the future direction of government policy.
"It will also provide an opportunity to cement a 'good government' approach to the economy at the heart of national policy," Mr Clark added.
A spokesman for the Scottish government said Scotland continued to have lower unemployment and higher employment than the UK as a whole.
He said: "The latest figures show that output in the construction sector has fallen by more in the UK as a whole than it has in Scotland, and construction employment in Scotland is also holding up better than elsewhere in the UK in these tough times."
The spokesman added a "record" £35bn of infrastructure investment is being delivered by the Scottish government in the next decade.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Computer-based testing gives public works professionals new flexibility

Published Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Kansas City,Mo.-based American Public Works Association (APWA) now offers computer-based testing for Certified Public Fleet Professional and Certified Public Infrastructure Inspection exams. Beginning March 16, the new format will allow public works professionals to take the exam within a two-week testing block,and to receive their scores immediately. "New testing options will allow greater flexibility for fleet and infrastructure inspection professionals working to achieve certification while maintaining excellent public works services in their communities," APWA President Noel Thompson said in a statement. More than 170 testing centers across the country will offer the computer-based ...

The new BMW 5 Series Touring

This is the new BMW 5 Series Touring, which will be available and on sale from September 2010. This is the fourth generation of the range and is sure to put a grin on the faces of owners by having the best of both worlds – real world performance and real world practicality (it’ll also look better to the neighbours than going the whole hog and buying something like an X5).

Initially available in four derivatives, the new BMW 5 Series Touring offers a choice of two petrol cars, the 523i and 535i, and two diesel models, the 520d and 530d. All four are packed with innovative technology that ensures class-leading performance, fuel economy and CO2 emissions, while providing an elegant, comfortable and driver-oriented estate car.

Tim Abbott, Managing Director of BMW UK, said: “BMW can fairly claim to have created the idea to turn executive saloon cars into practical yet still fun to drive estates with its first 5 Series Touring in the UK back in 1991. Up until then most large estates were utilitarian load-luggers that eschewed both the driving capabilities of their saloon cousins as well as the style. The 5 Series Touring changed all that and its success has led to the new fourth generation being unveiled today. Since the UK is the third largest market for the 5 Series Touring, this new model is an important and exciting one for us. Offering best in class performance, fuel efficiency and emissions, I have high hopes for the new 5 Series Touring here.”

The boot capacity of the new Touring is 560 litres, 60 more than the outgoing model, and a huge 1,670 litres with all rear seats folded. A further option is Extended Storage that includes “cargo” functionality for rear seats. This allows the rear seat backrests to be fixed in a more upright position thereby increasing luggage capacity by 30 litres and minimising wasted space behind rear seats. This feature increases normal load capacity to 590 litres as well as adding lashing rails, storage nets and straps. Naturally, a ski bag is available as an option.

What do I make of it? Well, it’s hard to fault the 5 Series really and this new has lower emissions, higher power and plenty of boot space. I suppose my only gripe will be that plenty of them will be out there not being used properly and instead invested in to keep up with the Joneses, whoever they are!

Sony Ericsson reports surprise profit

Sony Ericsson has reported a surprise profit for the first three months of the year, boosted by new product launches and cost savings.
Net profit came in at 21m euros ($28m; £18m), compared with a loss of 293m euros a year earlier.
The unexpected profit came despite mobile phone sales being 28% lower from a year ago at 10.5 million phones.
Sony Ericsson is playing catch up with other mobile makers that were quicker to launch smartphones.
Falling sales
"We are pleased to see the positive impact of both the launch of new products and the business transformation programme improving the company's results," said Bert Nordberg, president of Sony Ericsson.
He picked out the company's new Experia X10 and Vivaz products as being particularly well received.
Despite the launches, sales over the quarter fell to 1.74bn euros compared with 1.41bn euros for the same period a year ago.
Improved margins and cost-cutting also helped to improve profitability.
Sony Ericsson reported a net loss of 836m euros for 2009 as a whole.
The mobile phone market has been hit by the global downturn, as consumers hold off from buying new phones.
Sony Ericsson has also been caught off guard by the switch to smartphones - the one area of the market where sales have been growing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

PTI and Rutgers University form partnership

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Washington-based PTI and the SPAA at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., are working together to help officials make better use of technology in government. PTI and SPAA will promote the development of next generation Web-based training and information systems, and will work toward achieving common strategic goals. The alliance gives SPAA a presence in Washington, and allows PTI access to the National Center for Public Performance and the Rutgers E-Governance Institute. The organizations will publish joint publications and will offer a new series of ...


KOBE Bryant, one of the biggest names in basketball, will play his first NBA game outside the US when he leads Los Angeles Lakers against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a pre-season game at the O2 Arena on October 4.
Kobe Bryant has won four NBA titles and was last year’s most valuable player in the nBA finals.

He said: “I know how passionate fans are in the UK and I look forward to putting on a show for what promises to be a great game."


SNOOKER coaching guru Del Hill is staying away from the first week of this year’s world championship – because four of his prodigies are playing against each other and he does not want divided loyalties.
This is typical of Hill, who is rated as the best coach in the game , having masterminded world titles with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott .
Hill operates from his snooker “farm” which is set in five acres of lush grounds that boast a large lake stocked with perch, carp and bream, where players can relax and fish after long spells of potting pressure.
He is also head of World Snooker’s elite coaching team, manager of England’s amateur squad and has still found time to answer business calls from Russia, Thailand, Jordan, Romania, Belgium, Malta, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
And if that is not enough, he also brokered a deal for Chelsea’s John Terry to buy The Crucible’s 2008 World Championship table – and arranged for technicians to set it up.
During his coaching career, Hill has found himself dashing from one dressing room to another before a major tournament to offer final words of advice to players squaring up to one another – something which, from a professional point of view, he finds rather embarrassing.
And that is why he will not be at The Crucible in Sheffield for the opening rounds of the tournament, which starts on Saturday, when Ebdon faces Dott and Michael Holt plays Joe Perry. Instead, Hill – 6ft 9ins and known as the Gentle Giant – will telephone each player with the words: “May the best man win. I’ll be watching you on TV – but if you’re in desperate trouble, then you’d better ring me.”
Hill recalled an incident in 2005 when Dott phoned him urgently before he played O’Sullivan in the world final, complaining that a problem had developed with his break-off shot.
“I dropped everything and rushed to Sheffield . We thought it had all been sorted out when Graeme went 5-0 in front – only for O’Sullivan to hit back and go on to win,” said Hill.

“That was a tricky situation [giving coaching advice to Dott] because I had won more than 20 tournaments with O’Sullivan. But to be fair, Dott had driven six hours to my farm just before the championships, so there was no way I could turn him down.
“Then he won the title the following year, beating O’Sullivan in the semis and Ebdon in the final. Coaching Graeme to be world champion in 2006 – a 500-1 outsider – is undoubtedly my biggest achievement and something I’m really proud of.
“But even that wasn’t straightforward because I was in and out of Graeme’s dressing room just as I had been with Ebdon when he won in 2002.
“Peter Ebdon is a great guy . He came up to me at the end of that final and said, ‘Graeme wouldn’t have won it without you’. I had worked with Peter earlier in 2006, but he sensibly accepted that I was with Dott .
“And during the Masters one year, I kept nipping from Stephen Lee’s dressing room to Dott’s and all I could say was, ‘Best of luck, mate’.
“I don’t like doing it but it happens a lot. If I’m summoned, I have to go. It’s the price I pay for being popular.” Hill has coached 11 of the 32 players competing in this year’s championship and said: “I ask all my professionals to come to the farm twice a year for an ‘MOT’ when problems with their game can be rectified.
“I have worked with half of the world’s top 64 players and know them really well. To reach the top, a player must have application, motivation and also be willing to work hard.”
And many of those he has coached have reached the top so, understandably, compliments flow .
O’Sullivan said: “Del is a top man and a top coach. I’ve known him a long time – and he knows me better than anyone.”
Dott said: “Del helped me to reconstruct my game to such an extent that I won the World Championship.”
Ebdon added: “I visited the farm during my run-up to winning the World Championship and Del gave me some really useful practice routines to work on.”‘If I’m summoned, I must go to their dressing room’

How do the vehicles stack up?

While the retail price of the two vehicles will be enough to persuade or deter many customers from being among the first to drive a mass produced electric car, there are other factors to be taken into account. Here is how each vehicle stacks up over some key criteria:

Vital statistics of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV:

  • Zero CO2 exhaust emissions.
  • Top speed: 81 mph.
  • Range: 80 miles (EU combined mode, estimated).
  • Charging time: Seven hours with a 220V system.
  • Seating capacity: Four adults, plus luggage.
  • Kerb weight: 1,105kg.
  • Dimensions: 3,475 (l) x 1,475 (w) x 1,610 (h).

Vital statistics of the Nissan LEAF:

  • Zero CO2 exhaust emissions.
  • Top speed: 90mph.
  • Range: 100 miles (based on an urban driving cycle).
  • Charging time: Eight hours with a 220V system.
  • Seating capacity: Four adults, plus luggage.
  • Kerb weight: 1,545kg.
  • Dimensions: 4,445 (l) x 1,770 (w) x 1,550 (h).

The Nissan LEAF has the slight edge in terms of range and performance capabilities, but the statistics are close enough to suggest that the initial price tag may be the key in swinging consumers one way or the other.

Rendezvous Sports World threatens to sue Modi

The Indian Premier League's new franchise Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) has threatened to sue IPL commissioner Lalit Modi for breaking the confidentiality terms.
Modi, who is an avid user of the micro-blogging website Twitter, disclosed the details of the stakeholders in the new Kochi team through his tweets.
Modi disclosed the names of the free equity holders in Rendezvous, a move which put Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor [ Images ] in a fix, as Sunanda Pushkar, the lady whom he is reportedly planning to marry, figured in the list.
Rendezvous coughed up approximately Rs 1533 crore to bag the Kochi franchise.
Modi wrote on his Twitter page that the free equity holders in RSW include Kisan, Shailender and Pushpa Gaikwad, Sunanda Pushkar, Puja Gulati, Jayant Kotalwar, Vishnu [ Images ] Prasad and Sundip Agarwal.
"A lot of you are asking about shareholders and events surrounding the Kochi team. I am compiling a note shortly and will put an official release soon," Modi wrote.
Irked by Modi's revelations, Rendezvous has threatened to send a legal notice to Modi and accused him of breaking the confidentiality terms.
A complaint has also been made to BCCI president Shashank Manohar in this regard.

Google profits beat expectations

Internet giant Google has reported a 37% rise in first-quarter net profit, beating analysts' expectations.Profit for the three months to March came in at $1.96bn (£1.26bn) compared with the $1.42bn it made a year ago.Revenue climbed 23% to $6.78bn, helped by an increase in online spending by advertisers.
"Going forward, we remain committed to heavy investment in innovation," Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said. 

He added that the investment would both "spur future growth in our core and emerging businesses as well as to help build the future of the open web".
Google also said it had taken on nearly 800 employees in the quarter, its biggest increase in staff since the first quarter of 2008.
Its global headcount now stands at 20,621.
'Solid quarter'
The amount of money the company made from pay-per-click online advertising rose 15% from the same quarter last year, as the internet advertising market continues its recovery from the recession.
"They had a very solid quarter, which we expected," commented Laxmi Poruri, analyst at Primary Global Research.
"Search advertising bounced back strongly relative to other forms of media."
Despite the results coming in ahead of forecasts, Google shares fell 4.6% to $568 in after-hours trading.
"The stock may be reacting to uncertainty going forward in terms of currency fluctuations overseas and investors seeking more clarity on China," Ms Poruri said.
Last month Google decided to stop filtering results from its search service in China, redirecting all its mainland China customers to an uncensored Hong Kong-based site instead.
The Chinese government responded angrily to the move, saying it was in violation of a written promise that the company would abide by China's laws requiring it to filter results.
Google dominates the search engine market. It has about a 65% share of the US market and about 90% in Europe.
But it is a distant number two in the Chinese market, which is dominated by Baidu.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Local government leaders struggle to keep employees on the payroll without drastic pay cuts

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Public sector employees already are underpaid, according to the Washington-based AFT's ninth annual Public Employees Compensation Survey, released in September. But, with California’s decision Tuesday to lay off at least 10,000 state workers by July 1, state and local government employees are more concerned with simply holding on to the jobs they have. The California legislature still was working on resolving a $42 billion budget deficit on Wednesday to avoid laying off another 10,000 employees, according to the Los Angeles Times. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued 10,000 layoff notices ...

How much does each vehicle cost?

Nissan has confirmed a starting price of Y3.76million in Japan with the LEAF to also benefit from up to Y770,000 in government incentives and be free from car acquisition and weight tax – the vehicle will be available to order from April 1. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi countered by making its vehicle available to individuals on the same date and with government subsidies it could be picked up for as little as Y2,840,000.

In the US, the Nissan LEAF is expected to cost around $25,280 after a Federal tax credit of $7,500 has been deducted – before the deduction, the model costs $32,780 (see article). Orders for the model in the States open on April 20, with deliveries in select markets to begin by December. By contrast, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is expected to go on sale in the US in April 2011 and Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Maurice Durand told reporters at the New York International Auto Show that a sub $30,000 price tag would be targeted even before tax credits are taken into account.

Here in the UK, Mitsubishi has already announced that its i-MiEV model will cost just under £39,000 (see article) although customers will be able to benefit from a £5,000 reduction thanks to the Government’s Plug-in Car Grants which begin next year. We have an in-depth analysis of how the cost of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV stacks up compared to a petrol car here – the vehicle is also expected to be marketed as the Peugeot i0n and the Citroen C-ZERO before the end of the year. Nissan is yet to confirm the official price tag of the LEAF in the UK, but it is expected to be along the lines of its US retail price, which would make it significantly cheaper than the i-MiEV.

Icelandic volcanic ash alert grounds UK flights

Raw Video: Icelandic Volcano Erupts for 2nd Time

Volcanic ash disrupts N European flights

Airline passengers are facing massive disruption across the UK after an ash cloud from a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded planes.

The Air Traffic Control Service (Nats) said no flights would be allowed in or out of UK airspace until 1800BST amid fears of engine damage.

The restrictions were imposed after the Met Office warned the ash was sufficient to clog engines.

Passengers were also affected in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Passengers were advised to contact their carriers prior to travel.

Experts have warned that the tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud would be sufficient to jam aircraft engines.

These are some of the main knock-on effects:

  • Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports shut
  • Disruptions to and from Liverpool's John Lennon, Manchester and Newcastle airports
  • Severe delays at Birmingham airport with problems reported at East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Cardiff International and Bristol airports
  • London's Gatwick, Heathrow and City airports hit
  • British Airways cancels all domestic flights on Thursday and offers refunds or an option to rebook
  • Flights suspended at Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport
  • RAF Sea King helicopter flies a critically ill patient from Scotland to London
  • Ash threat forces Great North Air Ambulance to be grounded

One passenger at Glasgow told the BBC: "I'm meant to be going to Lanzarote. We've travelled from Oban, leaving at 3am. Now we've decided we might as well just go home and do a bit of gardening."

Others switched form plane to train, with the East Coast line extending its 1830BST London to Newcastle service through to Edinburgh.

Budget airline Ryanair said no flights were operating to or from the UK on Thursday and it expected cancellations and delays on Friday.

A Nats spokesman said: "The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre has issued a forecast that the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption in Iceland will track over Europe tonight.

"Nats is working with Eurocontrol and our colleagues in Europe's other air navigation service providers to take the appropriate action to ensure safety in accordance with international aviation policy."

The European air safety body, Eurocontrol, said the cloud of ash had reached 55,000ft and was expected to move through northern UK and Scotland.

Brian Flynn, assistant head of operations of its central flow management unit, told the BBC: "As it moves toward the Netherlands and Belgium it will dissipate and lose intensity, like any weather phenomenon. But we don't know what the extent of it will be."

Met Office forecaster Philip Avery said the ash could take several days to clear.

He said: "It is showing up on imagery at the moment, extending down as far as the Faroes but it looks as though the wind will drag it a good deal further south.

"Nats has good cause to be very cautious about this because in about 1982 a British Airways jumbo had the unnerving experience of having all four engines shut down as it flew through a plume of volcanic ash."

There was a nearly identical incident on 15 December 1989 when KLM Flight 867, a B747-400 from Amsterdam to Anchorage, Alaska, flew into the plume of the erupting Mount Redoubt, causing all four engines to fail.

Once the flight cleared the ash cloud, the crew was able to restart each engine and then make a safe landing at Anchorage, but the aircraft was substantially damaged.

A BAA spokesman said: "Passengers intending to fly today are asked to contact their airline for further information."

The eruption under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area of Iceland is the second in the country in less than a month.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Group offers $500,000 for creation of energy alliance

Published Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Atlanta-based Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) is offering $500,000 to the Southeastern city that makes the best proposal for forming a community energy alliance. The goal of the alliance is to retrofit homes and buildings in ways that save residents money on energy and water bills. Cities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia may submit proposals for the program. "We are creating a five- to seven-year campaign to achieve unprecedented gas, electricity and water savings by retrofitting homes and other buildings and installing efficient and renewable ...

F1 – Race 3 – Malaysia

Another great race, most of the excitement being in the qualifying laps on Saturday.

The rain started just before qualifying. Sebastian Vettel was out early whilst his team mate Mark Webber, the Ferrari’s, McLaren’s and Mercedes’ remained in the pits. The rain, wrong decisions on tyres and not getting onto the track early meant that Fernando Alonso spun and was out in Q1. Also out in Q1 was Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Lucas di Grassi, Jarno Trulli and Bruno Senna. Jensen Button ended up in the gravel early in Q2 for a grid start of 17th. Mark Webber was in trouble with two minutes to go, in position 12, but managed to pull back to 7th by the end of the session. Pedro de la Rosa Sebastian Buemi, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock and Vitaly Petrov all fail to make Q3. With all the cars in Q3 on wet tyres, with the exception of Mark Webber, and Sebastian Vettel sitting on pole, it was going to be interesting. Webber’s choice of tyres meant he got pole position with Nico Roseberg 2nd and Sebastian Vettel 3rd.

The race itself got off to a good start, in the dry, with Vettel passing Rosberg and Webber on turn one. Hamilton managed to sneak up on the inside from 20th to 12th. By lap 4 Hamilton was 10th with Vettel still leading, Webber 2nd and Rosberg 3rd. Lap 7 and Hamilton got a little carried away and was warned about weaving in front of Petrov to keep him back. Lap 10 and Michael Schumacher was out with a rear suspension problem (turns out he lost a wheel nut) and Button was first to make a pit stop going from soft to hard tyres hoping that the rain did not return.

Hamilton was up to 7th by lap 13, 5th by lap 21 and 2nd by lap 25: an amazing feat from starting 20th on the grid. Lap 34 saw Vitaly Petrov retire with gearbox problems and Hamilton (now 7th after a pit stop in lap 31) still unable to pass Adrian Sutil. By lap 39 Vettel was 3.8 seconds ahead of Webber who was 12.6 seconds ahead of 3rd place Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso made up ground despite a downshift problem but just couldn’t get past Felipe Massa (8th). Massa managed to pass Button in lap 44 but Button retaliated two laps later to regain 8th position.

Lap 51 and the top 8 were pretty much set for the last 5 laps: Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Kubica, Sutil, Hamilton, Massa and Button. Alonso passed Button on the penultimate lap only to watch him fly past again as he limped onto the grass verge in a puff of smoke! After the reliability problems of the last two races Red Bull get it right finishing first and second. Virgin managed their first finish of the season whilst it was another disappointing race for the Lotus team.

So, on to China (Shanghai) on 18th April. Last year saw Vettel and Webber do the same double as they did in Malaysia this year. Can they do it again, and will the rain stay away for race this year? I think Red Bull have a very good good chance of getting two podium places again in China. What do you think?

Driver Team Time
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:57:43:485
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault +00:04.849
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP +00:13.504
4. Robert Kubica Renault +00:18.589
5. Adrian Sutil Force-India-Mercedes +00:21.059
6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +00:23.471
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari +00:27.068
8. Jensen Button McLaren-Mercedes +00:37.918
9. Jaime Alguersuari Torro Rosso-Ferrari +01:10.602
10. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth +01:13.399

Drivers Championship Table

Driver Team Points
1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 39
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 37
3.Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 37
4. Jensen Button McLaren-Mercedes 35
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 35
6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 31
7. Robert Kubica Renault 30
8. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 24
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 10
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 9

Enjoy Perth at its Best

erth is the largest city on Australia’s western coast. It ranks eighth in the World’s most liveable cities and is widely known as “The City of Lights”. This is because the residents of Perth lit up their homes as the American Astronaut John Glenn passed the city in space in 1962; and then again in 1998. There are some wonderful experiences to be had in Perth and with temperatures ranging from 7 – 31 degrees, you are bound to enjoy your time here any time of year.

The city lies on the banks of Swan River, which is absolutely beautiful. There are over 80kms of white sandy beaches, unspoilt and clean for you to relax and unwind, or if you fancy, go swimming or surfing! Visit Kings Park and Botanic Garden, which is the green heart of the city. Being the most popular visitor destination in Perth, you won’t want to miss being able to hire a BBQ and enjoying the great outdoors, in a city! It also houses a beautiful collection of flora with 319 native plants and 80 species of bird. If you fancy something really different, why not watch a movie in the outdoor cinema? Or just sit in the café and have some coffee and cake.

Perth’s Mint is a multi award winning attraction! It is one of the world’s oldest mints that is still in operation from it’s original premises. For over 90 years the gates were locked to the public, but it is now open as a popular tourist attraction You can experience the gold rush, handle over AUD400,000 worth of gold bullion, find out the value of your weight in gold and even create your own personalised gold medallion.

The Bell Tower is one of the largest musical instruments on the planet which was custom built for housing the bells of Saint Martin in the Fields Church, the parish church of Buckingham Palace in Trafalgar Square in London. They date back to before the 14th century and is the only place where you can sit and view bell ringing in action, or even have a go yourself!

There is so much more to enjoy in Perth such as the Art Gallery or if you want to enjoy the night life, head to Northbridge or Subiaco. If you are looking for something little more relaxed go to Scarborough or Cottesloe.

There is anything and everything to do in Perth, if you want to relax or take part in extreme sports they will have it! If you are travelling, it is a great place to experience. Have you been to Perth? What have you done while you have been over there?

CAT envisages fossil-free Britain in 20 years

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is drawing up plans which could help Britain to banish fossil fuel use in just twenty years.

The report which details measure designed to slash carbon emissions and eliminate oil use in Britain is set to be published in June, the BBC reports.

Entitled ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ the report’s authors say that through proper use of renewable energy sources, using more energy efficient buildings and by making a switch to electric cars Britain can cut energy demands in half.

At present, the UK government has pledged to reduce emissions by 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050. However CAT is much more ambitious:

"We are saying 100 per cent by 2030," Cat researcher Alex Randall told the broadcaster, adding: "We can’t keep burning fossil fuels."

As oil shortages are predicted to hit as early as 2015 , such targets may be needed to prevent an energy crisis in the UK.

The centre based in Machynlleth, Powys in Wales was opened in 1974 and promotes sustainable living solutions.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hatching new ideas

sending checks to some newly retired public employees that amounted to 100 percent or greater of their salary, and unfunded costs mounting, the state legislature in 2000 decided the retirement system had to change. In 2003, it created a hybrid pension system that combines guaranteed but limited retirement benefits with a market-based contributory plan. With the changes, the state's liability today has been reduced from 12 percent of the previous year's liability to 3 percent, and retirees are receiving about 80 percent of their employment salary.
“I can't imagine going back to the old system,” says David Crosley, communication officer for the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System. “Now we have our liabilities under control. This is more in line with what the legislature originally intended.”
With pension plans again facing a difficult environment after the severe turbulence in financial markets over the last two years, governments are looking for retirement plan models that will reduce their financial burdens. Fortunately, there are states and local governments that adjusted their pension plans years ago, and have notable results that could be instructive for others considering a change.

World Rainforest Movement

Peru: Government intent on privatizing the Amazon for implementing tree plantations

Alan Garcia’s government is promoting a bill (draft law 840) also known as the “Forest Law.” It is a law concerning the promotion of private investment in reforestation and agro-forestry, whereby land with no forest cover in the Peruvian Amazon – erroneously classed as deforested wastelands, meaning there are no acquired rights over them – could be allocated, not as concessions, but as private property. This would open the door to major capital to establish large-scale tree plantations, under the guise of “reforestation.”

The argument used is that in order to promote reforestation, private investment needs to be attracted and security must be given to the investors. For this purpose, it is not enough to give them a 40-year, renewable concession as established in the present Forestry Law, but allocate them land as “owners” that is to say, for ever. Furthermore, when the State allocates land under ownership it can no longer control or make demands in the same way as if it were under concession.

There is strong resistance to the bill, among other things because it is contrary to article 66 of the Constitution, which establishes the public nature of renewable and non-renewable natural resources. It has also been denounced that no preliminary land survey has been made to delimit the extension of deforested lands that could be invested in, or their location. This fact would enable the new law to become a perverse incentive to encourage deforestation and lay waste the Amazon.

Furthermore, in Loreto (as in Ucayali or in Madre de Dios) there are no large areas of free deforested wasteland areas according to an article published by Servindi (1). The article points out that “the traditional slash and burn agricultural model used by the peasants implies leaving fallow for 10 to 20 years land that is “tired”, to enable a process of secondary forest regeneration and to recover soil nutrients. Most of the secondary forests in regeneration in Loreto have owners, although these may not have deeds.” Another factor is that “out of the almost 2,500 indigenous and peasant communities existing in Loreto, less than 500 have deeds and the rest has no documentation whatsoever certifying their ownership rights over farms and forests they use and have used for hundreds of years for their subsistence.”

The First Amazon Summit meeting was held on 17 February in Pichanaki, Junín, where, among other things, the rights of native communities over lands in the Central Forest and in the Amazon were proclaimed and the “intention of Alan Garcia’s Government to auction off our Amazon in favour of large foreign capitals” was rejected (2).

The Second Amazon Summit was held in Pucallpa, Ucayali region on 12 and 13 March. On this occasion the “Platform of the originating Amazon peoples before the Peruvian State and the international community against a single centred world” was re-launched (3). Among the items on their action plan is the demand to “definitively shelve the Legislative package that contains the Draft Forest Law,” because “with this Bill the intention is to dispossess us of our territories and the natural resources of the Amazon. We therefore demand that our own initiative of community development as a people is taken into account, and not to discriminate against us in favour of big capital.”

Many demonstrations and strikes took place in the central forest zone, in rejection of law 840. In March this year, in the web page of “Con nuestro Perú” (with our Peru) it was reported that “several thousand indigenous people from the Shipibo, Konibo, Ashaninka, Yine and Cocama peoples marched through the main streets of the city of Pucallpa to ask the Peruvian State to shelve the 840 Bill and the 2133 Bill or Forestry Law. This peaceful march, that was considered to be one of the largest indigenous demonstrations that had taken place in the region, was joined by students, professional people and indigenous mayors.”(4).

Servindi reports that (5), the Romero group is behind the government’s initiative and has ten million dollars to purchase 2 million hectares of land in the Amazon as soon as the Bill is adopted. Part of the two million hectares would be dedicated to carbon sink plantations with the aim of trading carbon on the New York stock-market under the Kyoto Protocol Mechanism. Some of the beneficiaries would be pension fund administrators, specific power groups and high officials of the present government.

As stated at the First Amazon Summit, “We declare the Amazon to be in a state of emergency because of the danger hanging over our peoples and we call on each one of the Amazon Regions to prevent the consummation of the violation of our human and constitutional rights, the right to life and to the environment, to the biodiversity of our water and energy resources.”

Article based on information provided by Alain A. Salas Dávila, ONG INCODES, e-mail:,; (1) “Ley de la Selva y Desarrollo Regional” (Forest Law and Regional Development), José Álvarez Alonso, Servindi,; (2) First Amazon Summit, 16 and 17 February 2008.; (3) Platform of the originating Amazon peoples before the Peruvian State and the international community against a single centred world.; (4) Ucayali Indigenous peoples march against the Forest Law, 20 March 2008.
; (5) Peru: ¿Por qué es criticado el Proyecto 840, “Ley de la Selva”?(Why is Bill 840 “Forest Law” criticised?) , January 2008, Servindi,

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