Living large

first_imgBOSTON At first glance, the catalog’s pitch for lawn chairs appears ordinary: A seated man and woman relax near a tree-lined lakeshore, enjoying drinks. But look closer. “Supports up to 800lbs,” reads the text next to the man’s $139.95 lawn chair. Flip deeper into the catalog, and the products get even more specialized, such as a “Big John” toilet seat with a 1,200-pound capacity – “larger than any other toilet seat in the world” – priced at $124.95. LivingXL is the new incarnation of www.SuperSizeWorld.com, a Vancouver, Wash.-based online store that Casual Male bought for $400,000 in October. Casual Male Chief Executive David Levin learned about the business while reading an article on obesity last fall during a business trip. The switch to a new name was in keeping with the company’s re-branding of its stores last year from the old name Casual Male Big & Tall to Casual Male XL – a move that dropped the word “big” to eliminate a term often seen as a code word for “fat” in the euphemism-rich world of retail branding. “We knew from our Casual Male stores that they didn’t like ‘Big & Tall,”‘ Levin said, “and they certainly wouldn’t like ‘SuperSize,’ especially with that movie ‘Super Size Me”‘ – a 2004 documentary about an independent filmmaker’s experiment eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. Levin is trim, but he claims to understand the challenges heavier people face, in part because the company used a focus group of overweight people to develop the catalog. The group helped Casual Male navigate the idiosyncrasies of marketing lifestyle products to heavy people, who often feel stigmatized about their weight even though they’re greater in number than ever before. An estimated two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, compared with 47percent from a survey done in the late 1970s, according to federal statistics. A public health advocate welcomes the marketplace’s efforts to reach out to the growing ranks of overweight people, but also cautions against instilling any sense of complacency among heavy folks. Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers. “It’s a balancing act between assisting people coping with the results of being obese, and not losing track of the public health message about being more active and eating healthier diets,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a Washington-based nonprofit. “But if we stigmatize obesity, it makes the public health challenge that much more difficult.” Many heavy people favor shopping from the privacy of their homes over searching store aisles for such hard-to-find items as oversize bath towels and seat-belt extenders to accommodate heavy people buckling up for commercial flights. “Anyone who sells in the large-size market knows how many customers are traumatized by their size,” said Bill Mabrey, president of Amplestuff, a Bearsville, N.Y.-based online and mail-order catalog that he describes as “a mom-and-pop store” with less than $200,000 in sales a year. “Often, people who need this stuff have a sense of hopelessness, and some are even afraid to go out in public because there’s no place they can go and sit down in a chair without breaking it.” Casual Male, which had $468million in revenue last year, last month mailed 350,000 catalogs nationwide in the first of seven Living-XL editions to go out this year. The company expects to send 2.5million catalogs with items ranging from 500-pound capacity bicycle seats to large-button TV remotes and extra-strong hangers. Levin said his company must closely watch consumer response to gauge which products and marketing approaches resonate. “We believe we’ve created something that doesn’t exist. I’m sure this catalog will morph into something different than what you see in its first initial edition.” For now, Casual Male is bowing to convention by using only moderately overweight catalog models. “It’s pretty much the way the world operates, for better or worse,” Levin said. He added that he would be open to using obese models if customers want it. The market opportunity for lifestyle products is a mystery compared with the more established plus-size fashion market. U.S. sales of plus-size clothing for adults and children reached nearly $76billion last year and are forecast to grow to $107billion by 2012, according to a study by Packaged Facts, a Rockville, Md.-based market research company. But that company and other research organizations haven’t published information estimating sales of plus-size lifestyle products. Thomas Filandro of Susquehanna Financial Group, an industry analyst who follows Casual Male Retail Group, expects LivingXL will ultimately pay off for the company, but not quickly. Even with LivingXL’s emergence, the market is still wide open, said Mabrey, of Ample Stuff. “My response to them is, `Welcome aboard.’ My suspicion is that between their sales and our sales, we’ll only have reached 1percent of the total market. Most fat people – excuse the term – have never heard of either of us.” Howell hopes other retailers follow Casual Male’s lead. “It is an underserved market, and one I believe more and more retailers will be taking a more serious look at. We need more than just clothing.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The products are in “LivingXL,” an online and print catalog launched in May by the parent company of Casual Male XL, the nation’s largest chain of men’s plus-size clothing and apparel stores. Casual Male Retail Group hopes to parlay the marketing know-how from its 500 stores into the largely untapped market for specialty products that make life easier for the growing population of obese men and women. The Canton, Mass.-based chain is the first large retailer to enter the niche, now served by a handful of mom-and-pop catalog and online retailers offering a limited selection of products with little marketing glitz. For Peggy Howell, a 300-pound woman who runs an online store featuring art with positive depictions of heavy people, Living XL could help her more easily find products that give her confidence. “When I’m trying to buy lawn chairs, I want to get one that’s wide and sturdy,” Howell said. “My sister and I share a home in Las Vegas, and whenever we go to a party or an event, we take our special collapsible lawn chairs. We know we’ll feel secure in them, and comfortable. “You can find these kinds of specialty things once in a while, but they’re not always easy to find,” she said. “When you do, you tell all your friends.” last_img

Reaction to voting machine decertification raises questions

first_imgElection officials have come to embrace touch-screen systems, said David Dill, a Stanford University computer security expert, because they provide a veneer of perfection. “Many election officials,” said Dill, founder of Verified Voting, a group that has pressed for tight controls on digital voting machines, “don’t want to believe that something bad could happen with these electronic machines.” Election officials scoff at such charges, saying their first loyalty is to voters and getting accurate results. “Is the relationship between clerks and vendors an indication of something?” asked Stephen Weir, the president of the California Association of County Elections Officers and registrar clerk for Contra Costa County. “Is it pervasive and nefarious? I don’t see it.” Still, there is little dispute that voting machine vendors have lobbied hard to gain strong allies in the battle over e-voting’s future. SACRAMENTO – When Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified touch-screen voting systems earlier this month, county election officials and voting machine manufacturers denounced the decision with such a singular voice that it has alarmed some voter rights groups. Specifically, they are again questioning whether elections officials’ primary concern is really the voters or the vendors with whom election officials have developed a cozy relationship and have come to depend on to make their jobs easier. Critics insist that election officials have become blinded in their attachment to the touch-screen systems – in part because they love the quick, seemingly clean results, but also out of loyalty to their vendors, who not only provide them vital technical support and expertise on their complex voting systems but have also sponsored conferences and even social activities such as boat trips for the clerks. “They have such a close, friendly relationship,” said Bev Harris, the president of Black Box Voting, the first group to call attention to Diebold Election Systems’ vulnerability to hacking, “that it influences their need to support vendors.” Vendors have lavished attention on election officials by sponsoring conferences, seminars, boat parties, and dinner events over the years, including events sponsored by the Election Center, a national association of election officials, which recently held its annual conference in New Orleans. Vendors have wooed former secretaries of state, election clerks and their staff to work for them, creating a revolving door for election officials who can cash in on their expertise and access, signing on with voting machine vendors as consultants, communications experts and sales representatives. “They went about selling their machines by schmoozing people into believing this would be a great American solution,” said Andrew Gumbel, the author of “Steal This Vote,” a 2005 book on America’s history of election controversies. “Now, after they bought into this, county registrars can’t tell if the system doesn’t work, because it suits them so well from a bureaucratic point of view. They spent a lot of money and don’t want to admit they were wrong.” “So, if Diebold was going to take you out to dinner and sweet talk you,” he added, “and the state and federal government is offering millions to buy systems, you think this is the answer.” Voting machine companies say the paid events and high- end cultivating of relationships is a normal course of business. “There’s nothing odd about our relations with our customers,” said Michelle Shafer, vice president of communications for Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems. “We support conferences and educational events that election officials and staffs attend. Without this support and sponsorship, it would be very hard for these organizations to conduct conferences or have meaningful programming.” Still, the problem was apparent enough to Weir, that last year he drew up new bylaws prohibiting voting machine vendors from attending the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials’ boardroom meetings. Vendors could still attend the association’s end-of-the-year general session to display their high-tech wares, but were prohibited from sponsoring seminars, underwriting social events – even buying a cup of coffee for a county registrar. “It’s been a tight-knit community for years and years and that relationship might have been too close,” Weir said. “We were seen as too chummy-chummy. There needed to be a professional distance.” Weir said, however, he and other clerks hold a “healthy skepticism” of vendors. Santa Clara Registrar Jesse Durazo said he avoids conferences or events sponsored by vendors, and says that there are enough checks and balances – including months-long screening periods conducted by county officials – to avert the influences of vendors. But, he conceded that registrars are at the mercy of a movement that took off when former Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones decertified all punch-card systems in 2003 – part of a national reaction to the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida, replete with hanging chads and butterfly ballots. “So, we fell into the clutches of what’s available,” said Durazo, who has been the registrar since 2002. “We had to go into electronic voting.” The punch card decertification followed the 2002 passage of a $200 million bond measure, Proposition 41 – whose campaign was funded largely by Sequoia and Election Systems & Software – to help counties convert to electronic voting systems. The federal Help America Vote Act poured in another $250 million into California, creating a gold rush for voting machine manufacturers – and potentially lucrative career changes for election officials. Jones himself became a paid consultant for Sequoia – one month after he sent letters to members of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors reassuring them that the Sequoia machines they wanted to buy were worth the $19 million contract they were bidding out. Jones could not be reached, but said in 2004 that he had not talked with Sequoia about a job at the time and was not writing on the company’s behalf. But perhaps the state’s most prolific patron of the revolving door system has been Deborah Seiler, currently San Diego’s county registrar. A head of the elections division under former Secretary of State March Fong Eu, Seiler wound up working for Sequoia and then Diebold from 1991 to 2004, selling election systems to more than a dozen counties. Seiler returned to government in 2004 as elections manager for Solano County – after she’d sold that county 1,200 Diebold touch-screen machines later found to be not certified – leading then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to decertify the Diebold machines. When asked why they hired her, Ira Rosenthal, Solano County’s registrar of voters, said she was the best qualified among four applicants – all of whom worked for voting machine companies. Seiler, who did not return messages, became San Diego’s registrar in May. Other county registrars may not officially work for voting machine vendors, but critics contend they act like it, nonetheless. sharmon@cctimes.com (916) 441-2101160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

ULSTER DRAMA FINAL SUCCESS FOR DONEGAL COLLEGE

first_imgAisteoirí Choláiste Ailigh le múinteoir s’acu, Áine Ni Ghiobúin agus na duaiseanna a bhuaigh siad ag Féile Scoildramaíocht Uladh.Following their Ulster success last week in An Grianan the Coláiste Ailigh group will now travel to Mullingar for the All-Ireland Féile Scoildramaíocht.ó clé: Siún Ní hAilpín, Ban-aisteoir is fearr, Conchur o hAimsigh, Ruairí O Laifeartaigh, Mairtín Ó Cuillin, Emily Nic Fhloinn, Paula Nic Oscair, Meadhb Ní Chathail. Tosach: Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí agus Niall O hAnnaigin, duais moltora. as lathair on grianghraf: Niall Ó Conchur agus Kineshia Nic Eitigeáin.  ULSTER DRAMA FINAL SUCCESS FOR DONEGAL COLLEGE was last modified: April 2nd, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:ULSTER DRAMA FINAL SUCCESS FOR DONEGAL COLLEGElast_img read more

Pot dispensary closed by city

first_imgMONROVIA – City officials say a local business put up a smoke screen by misrepresenting the medical marijuana dispensary it opened, a claim the proprietor disputes. The store, which was located in a shopping center on the corner of Huntington Drive and Mayflower Avenue, was opened for only three days before city officials asked the owner to close down. Monrovia officials claim the business license approved was for a “vitamin and herb store” and that a medical marijuana dispensary would have required a conditional use permit. But owner Steve Leon, who called his store the Monrovia Patient Collective, said he and his lawyer were honest about the nature of his business. City Manager Scott Ochoa said two councilmembers received complaints the weekend after the store was opened that a “pot club” had sprung up at the location. So, Monday morning, Sizemore and the city’s director of development, Alice Griselle, went to the store for an inspection and asked Leon to close his doors. In a letter from Griselle to Leon dated Aug. 7, Griselle stated it is illegal to dispense medical marijuana in Monrovia without a conditional use permit from the city’s Planning Commission. While Sizemore said the landlord had returned a month’s rent of $2,500 to Leon to recoup his losses from the closed store, Leon claims he has received no money. He said he and his lawyer have left messages for city officials that have been ignored. “I heard from \ for three or four days \, but I haven’t heard back in two weeks,” Sizemore said. “We return all of our phone calls.” A special City Council meeting was called Aug. 11 in which the council enacted a 45-day moratorium on all medical marijuana dispensaries so that they are not permitted anywhere in the city. This issue will be further discussed at the Sept. 5 council meeting, Ochoa noted. molly.okeon@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4496160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Friday, Leon faxed to this newspaper a June 26 presentation he said his attorney gave to Monrovia city officials that explained his business. Steve Sizemore, the city’s planning division manager, said he recalls Leon and his attorney giving the presentation a coupleweeks before the store’s opening, which happened Aug. 3, according to Leon. However, Sizemore said, Leon did not make any connection between the medical marijuana dispensary and the store he opened. “We told him \ we didn’t have a provision in our codes for medical marijuana dispensaries,” Sizemore said Friday. “\ came in and filed a business license application for that site \ and said it was a retail store for vitamins and herbs. That’s a permitted zone so the planner signed it off.” While city officials say they were duped, Leon claims he was told by someone in the planning department that since a medical marijuana dispensary was not part of the city’s zoning codes, he should open up as a “retail sales business,” which he said he did. “In order for me to be legal, I have to say everything flat-out what I’m doing,” said Leon, who is part owner of another dispensary in Hollywood. He said he already had 125 patients in the three days the Monrovia store was open. last_img read more

Manchester United have ‘offered €60m’ for Serie A ace

first_imgManchester United have made a bid for Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar, with the Red Devils still wanting to bolster a frail defensive line that has cost them at times this season despite their revived form of late.Skriniar is a player that Jose Mourinho was interested in during his time in Manchester, and he tried to sign the 23-year old throughout the summer transfer window before the start of the 2018/19 season. Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Milan Skriniar Factfile REVEALED MONEY Name: Milan SkriniarBorn: February, 11, 1995 in Ziar Nad Hronom, SlovakiaInter career: 53 games, 4 goalsIndividual Honours: UEFA European Under-21 championship, Team of the Tournament 2017 REPLY Nothing materialised, however, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodwood not backing the move, leaving Mourinho an even more disgruntled figure at the lack of business being made.However, Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb claim that a bid has been made for Skriniar from United – though it is not clarified when the offer was submitted.The £54million (€60m) bid falls short of Inter’s £81million (€90m) valuation of the defender, however.Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge on a temporary basis, United have impressively won every game but not yet been tested against one of the big six.That will all change this Sunday as they face an in-form Tottenham team at Wembley – which we will cover with a live match-day blog available on talkSPORT.com – but are these rumours concrete and will United sign Milan, from Milan? REVEALED BEST OF RANKED Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card huge blow Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury The Baby-faced Assassin was the ‘chosen one’ to replace the Special One, Mourinho, in December, winning five games in a row (4 Premier League, 1 FA Cup) – the first time this has been done by a new manager in United’s history.Solskjaer has made it clear that despite being the caretaker manager, he wants a say with the board in transfer targets in January and potentially the summer, Skriniar is one of those individuals.“They’ve got the targets, but I have not sat down to discuss that yet.” Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ At 23, Skriniar is one of the break-out star defenders in Europe, making his way into the Inter first team early in the 2017/18 season Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade ADVICE Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move no dice Latest Transfer News Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars 1 shining Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions These targets will most likely all be defenders with Skriniar being joined by long term target Harry Maguire, of Leicester, and Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld.last_img read more

An Post slammed as 100% of Donegal closure appeals rejected

first_imgDeputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has slammed the appeals process set up by An Post regarding the closure of post offices as “a waste of effort and time.”Deputy Gallagher raised the issue in the Dail last night.It comes as ALL post offices earmarked for closure in Donegal had their appeals rejected to date. The Fianna Fail TD said he was extremely disappointed that the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton failed to turn up for the debate, instead deputising Minister of State Sean Canney to attend.He said this is a further indictment of just how serious the Government are really treating this issue and a demonstration of just how genuine their approach rural Ireland is.He fumed “The entire appeals process was deceitful from the outset; it was a cynical exercise endorsed by the Government to tick a box whereby an impression of an appeals mechanism was given by An Post. But, the appeals process thus far has recorded a 100% rejection rate of appeals lodged in Donegal stated Pat the Cope.“Hundreds if not thousands of people across the various communities affected by Post Office closures attended public meetings in an effort to maintain their Post Offices but this was an empty formula and a complete non process – a waste of effort and time. Trojan efforts were made to save Post Offices by these communities but to no avail,” added Pat the Cope. The Minister of State Canney in his reply state it was the decision of An Post to close the various post offices based on the package scheme which was agreed with the Union and made available to all Post Masters or Mistresses.Pat the Cope added during the debate that no rural proofing of the Post Office closures policy was undertaken by the Government and there was a complete failure to defend rural based services.“I am extremely critical of the appeals process which was set up to adjudicate on the appeals which were lodged by the various communities – it was nothing short of misleading and created a false expectation in the eyes of the general public.“I am calling on the Minister to meet with a cross-party delegation to discuss the ongoing closures of Post Offices – and to give this issue the serious consideration that it deserves. It is not right that different criteria apply to urban areas as does to rural areas.“In cities, you can live 2 km from a post office but in rural areas the distance is set at 15 km, despite urban areas having excellent public transport and rural areas having very limited access to public transport stated Pat the Cope. “Numerous communities have been left badly scarred by this process, as thousands of submissions have been sent into An Post – the Government need to start listening to the concerns of rural Ireland and the respective communities and take the necessary action to support our struggling rural communities.“The long term effect of this policy will have lasting negative impacts on our towns and villages throughout Donegal and elsewhere in rural Ireland.”An Post slammed as 100% of Donegal closure appeals rejected was last modified: November 23rd, 2018 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:An PostAppealsdonegalpost officeslast_img read more

Severe Weather Preparedness

first_imgAs North Carolina is now in the time of year when severe weather occurs, it’s important to be ready.As part of severe weather preparedness week, people should remember these tips to stay safe when driving:•    State law requires that vehicle headlights be on when using windshield wipers;•    If a tornado hits while driving, drivers shouldn’t seek shelter under a highway overpass. Instead, they should move into a sturdy building nearby or stay in the car and bend low, covering their head with their hands; and•    Never drive through standing water – turn around. It’s difficult to know how deep the water is and a vehicle can be swept away in just one foot of water.Additional information on tornadoes, emergency kits and overall severe weather readiness is available at ReadyNC.org or in the ReadyNC mobile app.last_img read more

Custom CSS with Jetpack: Images

first_imgThe Custom CSS module in Jetpack offers an easy way to edit the styles in your WordPress theme. Sure, you can edit your stylesheet and upload it to your site. But I know a lot of people have turned to using the Custom CSS module for updating their stylesheets simply because it’s so quick. Once you’re installed Jetpack, go to Appearance > Edit CSS on your dashboard and you can start adding/modifying CSS.Whenever anyone from our Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup group asks questions about how to use Jetpack’s Custom CSS, I point them to my friend Marcy’s post Custom CSS with Jetpack for WordPress Website Design. Marcy walks you through adding custom fonts, link colors, and adding CSS for post and blog titles using Jetpack’s Custom CSS module. She includes sample code snippets for each CSS change. Last week one of our meetup members contacted me about images in the Custom CSS module. He read Marcy’s post, but was running into some issues when he added a background image. The image wasn’t displaying. He’s been working with CSS for a while, but this was the first time he had used the Custom CSS module to change his stylesheet.Any tips you can share? he asked.How Jetpack Adds CSS ChangesJetpack’s Custom CSS inserts CSS changes differently than your theme stylesheet. Jetpack’s CSS editor adds the CSS changes relative to the root of your site. Your theme stylesheet adds CSS changes based on relative file names within the theme folder.In your stylesheet, you would typically add: url(images/my-image.jpg).However, when you’re adding images in Jetpack’s Custom CSS, you have two options: Add an absolute URL (e.g. http://www.yoursite.com/wp-content/themes/yourtheme/images/my-image.jpg)Add the relative URL from your domain root (e.g. wp-content/themes/yourtheme/images/my-image.jpg)My recommendation was to use the relative URL. He was thrilled to hear the solution was so simple. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading…RelatedShare Your Favorite Plugin: SlimpackWhen you want to use the Jetpack WordPress plugin, but the site(s) you’re creating can’t connect to WordPress.com, take a look at the Slimpack – Lightweight Jetpack plugin. Slimpack is a lighter version of Jetpack, with no requirement for a WordPress.com account. I learned about Slimpack at our November 2016 Metro…In “WordPress”Slimpack WordPress Plugin Security VulnerabilitySlimpack, a popular WordPress plugin that duplicates many of the Jetpack plugin modules, has a security vulnerability. The vulnerability exploits the sharing function to mass email with links using Baidu. At this time (June 2017), there is no fix for the vulnerability. The Slimpack plugin has been removed from the…In “WordPress”Weekly Roundup of Web Design and Development News: May 5, 2017In this week’s web design and development resources roundup, you’ll learn the importance of informed consent for your user research, find a one-day virtual web accessibility conference, discover how to design a custom apartment and have a 3D printer create it, and more. If you’re new to my blog, each…In “Web design & development links”last_img read more

When football became Africa’s game

first_imgAfricans and their colonisers became equals once they stepped onto the football pitch, and it even gave the former the chance to show their superiority over their oppressors. Here, Ghana’s football team of the 1960s pose with the international trophies they had won. The Black Stars, as they are still known, were handpicked by Ghana’s leader Kwame Nkrumah. (Image: Yenkassa, Flickr) • Africa Cup of Nations: some facts and figures• Bafana at Afcon 2015: the full squad• African footballers call on their juju men• Who will become a star at Afcon 2015?• Beefy Cameroon gives South Africa a taste of Afcon Shamin ChibbaZambia’s late and great football commentator Dennis Liwewe once said that when David Livingstone arrived in the country, he brought three things with him in his bag: his medical kit, his Bible and a football.Whether this was true or not did not matter, said football historian David Goldblatt, but it was the one good thing the colonialists had brought to the continent. Goldblatt calls the arrival of football in Africa an “epoch-making event” on par with the arrival of the cocoa bush on the Gold Coast, saying that it is “without competitor Africa’s game”.The game had come a long way from the days when British sailors would disembark with a ball in tow and enjoy a kickabout on the quayside, wrote Goldblatt in his substantial history of the game, The Ball is Round. However, it was soldiers and colonial administrators who brought the sporting code with them.The first recorded game in South Africa was played in 1866 in Pietermaritzburg, Goldblatt wrote, but he did not reveal the teams or score. “In South Africa the British Army played African scratch teams at the siege of Mafeking, while in Cape Town military regiments were setting up their own football association and playing a regular football competition as early as 1891.”Jack Lord, a writer for the blog Pitch Invasion, said in his history of African football that European teams and coaches started appearing in various parts of the continent in the early to mid-1900s, which helped to transform the game. Scottish club Motherwell toured South Africa in the 1930s and brought with them the tight passing and collective ethos that “inspired a tactical revolution among local teams”.Lord added that in 1950s Brazzaville, Congo, a French coach rebelled against the prevailing British style by introducing short passes and man-marking. His tactics helped his team dominate the league in which they participated. “An upstart team in Ghana during WWII promised more vaguely that its ‘tactics’ would defeat the ‘dribbling’ of their rivals,” said Lord.Football adopted quickly and intenselyDespite being a colonialist’s game, Africans adopted the sport quickly and intensely. But just why they did so remains a mystery. Goldblatt gave two suggestions. The first is the marriage of both Western and African cultures. By adding a ball to Africa’s rich dance traditions, a “universe of playful possibilities” opened up. While this may be an irresistible notion, Goldblatt said it was unprovable.His second suggestion is more political. Quoting Ferhat Abbas, the Algerian political leader in the early 20th century, Goldblatt suggested that for Africans the game could have been used as an equaliser – or even a show of superiority – between the colonialists and the colonised. Abbas once said: “They rule us with guns and machines. On a man-to-man basis, on the field of football, we can show them who is really superior.”Lord said the game was a “useful supplementary income for players”, which was yet another reason Africans took to it. “Teams negotiated hard over appearance fees, transport allowances and prize money. In friendly matches it was common for the winning side to take 60% of the prize fund, and the losers 40%.”However, playing for money had its downside; Lord gave an example from Northern Rhodesia in the late 1930s. A missionary complained that all the star teams played for money. “The same missionary also witnessed a match in which the visitors bet on themselves to win and confidently spent their stake in the local beer hall: ‘Unfortunately they lost and the match ended in a free fight in which spectators joined,’” wrote Lord.He added that in urban areas, football played a social role, especially for migrant workers who used the game to replace the social support they had in their rural homes.WATCH: George Weah highlights during his time at A.C. MilanDiscriminationDespite being a force for good, football was used as a tool by political authorities to divide society along racial and cultural lines. In South Africa, for example, teams and associations were separated according to the four major racial groups.Lord said that because the game was popular among children, it exposed Africans to inequality from an early age. One such person was the first president of independent Algeria, Ahmed Ben Bella, whose school had two football teams: one French and the other Arab.Racial division was not the only form of discrimination in football. Lord said teams often reflected identities based on religion and class. “In Obuasi, Ghana, Muslims played in a separate Mahommedans team. In Congo-Brazzaville, there were separate football teams for the clerks and manual workers of colonial enterprises. And football also reflected growing ethnic rivalries within multi-ethnic states.”Yet at the same time, the game brought together people from different backgrounds and individuals often found ways of bridging the divide. Football coach Craig Hepburn played as a goalkeeper for an almost all-black Orlando Pirates team in the late 1980s. Being a white man in South Africa, he was conscripted into the South African Defence Force. Often after a game for Pirates, he would have to change into his army uniform and rush back to military duty, guarding against the same men he called his teammates.At other times, he did not even get to play. “The army stopped me from playing. At one Kaizer Chiefs-Orlando Pirates derby I went to the stadium and the sergeant major told me I couldn’t play but could stand guard. So I did.”WATCH: CNN interview with Ghanaian football legend Abedi PeleModern timesMany African players came from underprivileged or war-ravaged countries, yet they still had the mettle to reach the heights of world football. In the 1990s, George Weah from Liberia and Ghanaian Abedi Pele rocked world football, with the former voted Fifa’s Player of the Year in 1995. They were part of a small African contingent plying their trade in Europe.The current generation of African players, however, are a much larger group and several of them are on par with or even better than their European and South American counterparts.Ivorians Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba, and Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o are some of the finest Africa has produced. They are also the three richest African footballers, with Toure worth $65-million (R753-million), Drogba $70-million (R811-million) and Eto’o around $90-million (R1-billion).Toure plays for English Premier League champions Manchester City and was voted the league’s best player last season. He received his fourth consecutive CAF African Player of the Year award on 8 January. Toure has enjoyed spells at Greek club Olympiakos and at FC Barcelona. At all three European clubs he has represented, Toure has helped them to win five league trophies, three cups, one Uefa Champions League and one Fifa Club World Cup.WATCH: Yaya Toure highlights at Manchester CityDuring his first spell at Chelsea, which lasted eight years, Drogba was instrumental in helping the club win Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Uefa Champions League. Eto’o was even more impressive during his years at FC Barcelona and Inter Milan. He helped both teams to win four league titles, three cups, three Uefa Champions League trophies and one Fifa World Club Cup.WATCH: Didier Drogba’s top 10 goalsAlgeria have also produced some of the world’ best players in recent years. At the moment they are considered the continent’s best football nation and are 18th on the Fifa World Rankings.On that list of great talents are BBC African Footballer of the Year for 2014, Yacine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli, and Nabil Bentaleb, all of whom play for major clubs in Europe. Football legend Zinedine Zidane, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema may all have been born in France and played for that national team, but they are all of Algerian descent.African teamsAlthough the continent produces some outstanding individuals, its national teams continue to struggle on the world stage. Toure, Drogba and Eto’o have been highly successful at club level, but less so in national colours, and the furthest any African team has gone in a World Cup is the quarter-finals. Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria share this record.Some football pundits believe African teams lack the collective ethos, team tactics and support structures needed to become world beaters.Despite these setbacks, this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Equatorial Guinea, which kicks off on Saturday, 17 January, still promises to be spectacular, with at least four teams capable of winning it.Ivory Coast may not have been a powerhouse since last winning the tournament in 1992, but their current side can certainly challenge even some of the best European sides. They have featured in the previous two World Cups and Afcon tournaments. And with Toure captaining the team, they have a stellar leader.Ghana have also become a force within the continent, with Andre Ayew, Asamoah Gyan and Michael Essien being the outstanding performers in the side. Algeria and current Afcon holders Zambia make up the rest of the contenders.The more traditional powerhouses of African football – Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria, which respectively have seven, four and three Afcon titles – have been on the wane in recent times. Cameroon had a terrible campaign at the 2014 World Cup, what with infighting and unimaginative play. They were knocked out of the first round. Nigeria and Egypt have not even qualified for this year’s Afcon.Football crazyMore than a century of African football culminated in the continent’s first ever Fifa World Cup in 2010. With South Africa as hosts, the world got to see just how football crazy Africans are. The event forced the world to see Africa as a serious football continent and not just a place where boys ran around barefoot kicking a rag ball on a dusty field, as was the common image, according to Lord.Football in Africa is not and was never just a game. It is a way out of poverty, a tool for reconciliation or division, a brief escape from the harshness of life, and a part of one’s identity.As Goldblatt said: unlike the Western medicine and the religion that Livingstone brought to the continent, the football became an “emblem of pride and independence and thus inevitable and instrument of political and social struggle”. It is truly Africa’s game.last_img read more

Argentine scientists rally behind favorite in Sunday’s presidential election

first_img By Lindzi WesselOct. 25, 2019 , 9:00 AM Argentine scientists rally behind favorite in Sunday’s presidential election Alberto Fernández Thousands of Argentine scientists are hoping the man expected to be the country’s next president will reverse deep cuts to research imposed by the conservative government of President Mauricio Macri. But the first priority for Alberto Fernández, the front-runner in Sunday’s election, will almost certainly be Argentina’s crumbling economy. And it’s not clear when—or how effectively—the concerns of scientists will be addressed.Fernández, a 60-year-old lawyer and political insider, worked for former President Nestor Kirchner and, for a short time, under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner after she succeeded her husband in 2007. Despite a decadeslong rift between Fernández and Cristina Kirchner, she is now his running mate, and the presidential candidate is expected to continue her brand of populism, whose roots go back almost 70 years to the rule of Juan Peron. Polls show Fernández leading Macri by a wide margin; Fernández will gain the presidency if he captures more than 45% of the vote in a six-person field, or wins 40% of the vote and leads by at least 10 percentage points.Kirchner won the support of many scientists by creating Argentina’s first Ministry of Science. She also increased the number of student scholarships and pledged to create more jobs within the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET). Elected in November 2015, Macri eliminated the science ministry and cut new CONICET jobs to less than one-third the level that Kirchner had targeted by this year. Other cuts have left research labs struggling to cover basic services such as routine maintenance and the cost of electricity and security.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)center_img Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo Almost 11,000 self-identified members of the scientific community have signed their names to a pro-Fernández statement of support created by Science and Technology Argentina (CyTA), an advocacy group formed in 2016 to oppose Macri’s policies pertaining to science and research.“Four years of cuts combined with a very, very aggressive discourse against scientific work—especially against the social sciences—would be stopped with the government change,” says Rolando González-José, a biologist at the National Patagonian Center in Puerto Madryn and a member of CyTA.But although Fernández and Kirchner have voiced strong support for “the development of knowledge” and increased funding for research, the ticket is not without its problems. Kirchner faces corruption charges, including accusations that she solicited bribes and manipulated financial data during her time in office. And voters are split on which leader—Macri or Kirchner—deserves more blame for Argentina’s current economic crisis, which has sent the value of the peso plunging and inflation soaring.Argentine biologist Marina Simian was so desperate under Macri’s cuts that she famously turned to a local version of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire to buy reagents for her lab’s cancer research at the National University of San Martin. Still, she plans to vote for Macri because she worries that a Fernández-Kirchner victory would mean a more authoritarian and less transparent government. And although Simian has criticized Macri’s view of science, she says scientists were protesting low salaries and a dearth of grants long before Macri took office.“We didn’t go from heaven to hell in 4 years,” she says. “We were in hell, and then we fell into a worse hell.”Mario Pecheny, a political science researcher at the University of Buenos Aires and vice president of scientific affairs at CONICET, expects Fernández will be hard-pressed to deliver on his promises, given the country’s economic woes. But he thinks a Fernández victory will be a positive step for research.“I’m not completely sure that the new government will do whatever we want them to,” he says. “But I think it will be much more friendly to science.”last_img read more