Belgium have edged ahead of world champions France at the top of FIFA’s world rankings.Roberto Martinez’s side were beaten 1-0 by Didier Deschamps men in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup but pulled alongside them as the joint-top ranked team according to world football’s governing body last month.Now, following a 2-1 win over Switzerland in the Nations League and a 1-1 friendly draw with neighbours Netherlands, the Red Devils have edged ahead of Les Bleus on 1733 ranking points to 1732. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! France drew 2-2 with Iceland in a friendly and beat Germany 2-1 – matching Belgium’s return from the October international break but against opponents ranked lower by FIFA.England are up to fifth after their impressive 3-2 win against Spain, who remain ninth, while Netherlands’ 3-0 victory over Germany lifted them two places to 15th.That is directly below an out-of-sorts Die Mannschaft, who fall two spots to 14th.Minnows Gibraltar are the biggest movers – up eight places to 190th after their first competitive wins over Armenia and Lichtenstein.Colombia make the largest jump in the top 20, with a three-place rise to 11th putting them above Lionel Messi’s Argentina.Elsewhere, Wales move up one spot to 18th as the rest of the Home Nations all slip.Northern Ireland sit 34th, one place behind neighbours the Republic of Ireland, while Alex McLeish’s Scotland have dropped to 40th following successive defeats.
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Samir Nasri pleased with winning West Ham debutby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveSamir Nasri was pleased with his debut for West Ham’s FA Cup win over Birmingham City.Nasri impressed during an hour-long debut.“I’m happy to get my first minutes in the West Ham shirt, but most important was the team performance and winning 2-0, keeping a clean sheet,” he said. “That was the goal today and that’s what we did.“It was important to not let Birmingham get into the game with confidence, so we pushed from the start and scoring the goal that early made everyone more comfortable on the ball and able to play our football. “The coach rotated the squad and had young players in the team, so it was important to score an early goal for everyone to be a little more free on the ball.“It was a tricky game, because they didn’t want to do anything with the ball, but when they had it they played that long ball and tried to catch us on the break.“I felt good, honestly I thought I would struggle a little more with the rhythm as my last game was 13 months ago.“I’m just relieved that everything is now behind me and happy about those first 58 minutes. It was good and I’m just looking forward to the next game.”
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Burnley manager Dyche delighted with squad competitionby Paul Vegas2 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveBurnley manager Sean Dyche is delighted with the competition within his squad.The Clarets currently have intense battles in a variety of positions, including left-back, striker and central midfield.”There is real competition,” said Dyche.”We have lost very important players but it shows we have other players who are just as important.”I thought Jeff (Hendrick) did well in midfield alongside Westy which is not easy when you play two v three. There was a tactical understanding there of when to press and when not to.”Robbie came in and he is getting back to true fitness and match sharpness that it takes which is why he came off and Jay got a start as well.”I like that competitive element to the squad.”
Book signing flyer. Photo by Jenna Morland. “This is where I live, this is where my husband works and it just seems right I guess you could say,” said Morland. “This community, when it comes to supporting the arts, has always been good at that kind of thing. There is a lot of talented people in this town.”Local Author Jenna Morland with her book Empress Unveiled. Photo by Jenna Morland.Morland added that her book was published after she entered a Twitter pitch party. A pitch party is when authors pitch their book to publishers in 150 characters or less, if the publishers like the book, they will pick it up.“The publisher I have now liked the tweet, I sent them all the stuff and then three months later there was an offer for a publishing deal.”The book launch will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on September 8th, all residents are welcome to come. Eric Clark will be a special guest performing live music while Morland will be on hand to do a reading. Residents who buy books or t-shirts will be entered into a prize draw for a 30-minute, four-person Highland Helicopters ride.Residents who would like to learn more about “Empress Unveiled” can do so by visiting Morland’s Instagram, Twitter and website. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John author Jenna Morland is set to launch her new book next weekend at Brown’s Socialhouse.The book is titled “Empress Unveiled” and is a young adult fantasy. The story is a fantasy romance that follows an ill teenager, her very human best friend and a fae sentenced to death. The main character must battle love, broken hearts, death and the crown. Morland explained that launching her book in Fort St. John just felt right.
Mumbai: A special NIA court here on Wednesday rejected the application filed by the father of one of the victims of the 2008 Malegaon blast case seeking to bar BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha election. Malegaon blast accused Thakur, who is currently out on bail, is contesting the Lok Sabha poll from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on the BJP’s ticket. Nisar Sayyad, who lost his son in the blast, moved the court last week, urging it to bar Thakur from contesting the election after the BJP fielded her from Bhopal, where she is locked in a battle with Congress veteran Digvijay Singh. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details He also mentioned in his plea that a petition seeking cancellation of her bail was pending before the Supreme Court. Rejecting his application, Special judge for National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases V S Padalkar said lawyers were well aware that this was not the proper forum (for the plea). “This court has not granted bail…wrong forum has been chosen,” he said. Thakur’s lawyer J P Mishra submitted before the court on Wednesday that she was fighting the election for the “cause of ideology and for the “sake of the nation”. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “She is contesting the election to condemn people who say there is Hindu terrorism,” Mishra said. Sayyad, in his application, said Thakur got bail on health grounds. If she is “healthy enough to fight elections in the crippling summers heat”, then she has misled the court, the complainant alleged. Responding to it, Mishra said, “Thakur has not misled the court. After the court’s order (on bail), she underwent an operation and was unable to walk in 2016. Her condition has improved now, but she has not fully recovered.” The lawyer said Thakur is contesting the poll, attending meetings and campaigning, but a doctor is always present with her where she goes. He also submitted that Thakur did not get bail only on medical grounds, but also on merit. Six people were killed and over 100 injured in a bomb blast at Malegaon, a communally sensitive textile town in north Maharashtra’s Nashik district, on September 29, 2008. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Thakur and others in the case, alleging they were part of a Hindu extremist group which carried out the blast. The NIA later gave Thakur a clean chit, but the court did not discharge Thakur. It dropped charges against her under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), but she is still facing trial under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code sections.
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday curtailed the time period for sale of electoral bonds by the SBI in the current month to only 5 days from May 6, instead of 10 days as was announced earlier.The government, however, did not give any reason for reducing the time period for sale of electoral bonds. “The Government of India has now decided to restrict the next phase of Electoral Bonds sale to May 6, 2019 to May 10, 2019 (instead of May 6, 2019 to May 15, 2019 scheduled and notified earlier),” a finance ministry statement said. Ahead of the general elections, the government in February had announced that electoral bonds will be sold in three tranches from March 1-15, April 1-20 and May 6-15. The 7-phase general elections, which begun on April 11, will continue till May 19 and counting of vote will take place on May 23. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition by NGO ‘Association of Democratic Reforms’ which had prayed that the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or the names of donors be made public. The Supreme Court last month had asked political parties to furnish by May 30 all the details of funds received through electoral bonds to the Election Commission in a sealed cover. The government had brought in electoral bond scheme as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of its efforts to bring transparency in political funding. The State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches, in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Ranchi, and Bengaluru. The electoral bonds will be valid for 15 calendar days from the date of issue and no payment will be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after expiry of the validity period. The electoral bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account will be credited on the same day.
Darjeeling: Kalimpong lost a slice of history with a noodle factory razed to the ground in a fire on Saturday night. This was no ordinary noodle factory but the factory that had featured in the bestseller book The Noodle Maker Of Kalimpong: the Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet, an autobiography of Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.Thondup was a known face in Kalimpong but it was only after the year 2009 that people came to know that he was the elder brother of the Dalai Lama. Thondup had crafted the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet along with being granted political asylum in India. He occupies an important position in Tibetan history. Thondup was born in 1928 at Amdo in Tibet. He was the Dalai Lama’s special envoy and an interlocutor between Tibet, China and India. Later, he continued the freedom struggle for Tibet on a diplomatic level. In 1999, he retired and settled in Kalimpong looking after his noodle factory. On Saturday night, the noodle factory located on 8th Mile adjacent to St. Philomena School caught fire. “Around 9pm we got information of the fire and rushed to the location. The fire was blazing then. It took 3 fire engines to battle the flames. Around 11 pm the fire was doused. The factory is totally gutted except for some machinery partially damaged. The cause of the fire is not known,” said Mani Tamang, fire officer. However, “Takster House” the house in which Thondup lives in the same compound escaped the flames. “I had bought this 3 acre property in 1962 for Rs 7,200. In 1967 we started the factory,” said the 91-year-old to media persons. The factory had 20 employees. Kalimpong noodles is sold in different parts of the country including Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and even exported to Nepal and Bhutan.
CAIRO – Three years after a popular uprising forced out ex-general Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s army is again pushing a commander to stand for president after he ousted the first civilian head of state.On Monday, the army endorsed its Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s candidacy for an election he is expected to win amid a strong nationalist fervour since he overthrew president Mohamed Morsi.In just over six months, Sisi has managed to win accolades from a vast section of Egyptians for leading the ouster of Morsi and crushing the Muslim Brotherhood movement to which the Islamist belongs. Morsi was toppled after one turbulent year in office following mass street protests amid allegations of grabbing power and ruining an already deteriorating economy.Announcing its backing for Sisi, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said that “the people’s trust in Sisi is a call that must be heeded as the free choice of the people”.Sisi is soon expected to resign as army chief and announce his candidacy in a presidential election scheduled to be held by mid-April.A victory for the 59-year-old would keep alive a tradition of Egyptian presidents being drawn from the armed forces.Mubarak and all of his predecessors came from the military, starting with the charismatic colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who ruled Egypt between 1954 and 1970.And after Mubarak’s ouster, it was Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who ruled Egypt until the election of Morsi in June 2012. But Tantawi’s tenure was marred by deadly street protests before Morsi was elected.Sisi is riding a wave of nationalist fervour, however, amid a heavy handed crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, which according to Amnesty International has left at least 1,400 people dead.To Sisi’s supporters, he is the best option for ending three years of political instability following the 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak’s reign.And to his critics and experts it is the military’s decades-old iron grip on Egypt that has once again brought an army man to the forefront after civilian leaders blew their shot at power.“There is definitely a political vacuum with no civilian parties able to throw up a good leadership,” said Mohamed Ghorab, an activist from a group that campaigns against military trials of civilians.“We saw this with the Muslim Brotherhood, (and) they failed. We hoped that another liberal party would come up and fill the vacuum, but that didn’t happen.“Hence given the backing from a section of the society, the military is now filling the vacuum,” he said in his personal capacity.‘Old demons of repression’ returningSince Morsi’s ouster, Sisi has emerged as a nationalist icon, but simultaneously Egypt is also witnessing the return of the feared security services which were widely hated under Mubarak.In recent months a deadly crackdown that began against Morsi’s Brotherhood has widened, with activists who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt finding themselves behind bars.Top anti-Mubarak campaigners Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Alaa Abdel Fattah have been detained for organising protests the military-installed authorities say were illegal.The authorities had defended the removal of Morsi on the back of mass street protests against his rule.“Their current policies are a betrayal of all the aspirations of bread, freedom and social justice” of the anti-Mubarak revolution, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International in a statement marking the third anniversary of the 2011 revolt.She charged the security forces had also not been held to account for using “excessive” force in dealing with protests staged by Morsi’s supporters who continue to demand his reinstatement.Analysts say the repressive old regime of Mubarak is returning to the fold, but that it is unleashing even more force on dissent than before, now that the military is clearly at the helm.“Even if the military authorities try to maintain a democratic face, it is now clear that Egypt is being overtaken by old demons of repression, authoritarianism and personal power,” said Karim Bittar of the Institute of International Strategic Relations.“The hopes aroused by the revolution of January 25, 2011 among the liberals and progressive (people of Egypt) are about to go up in smoke.”
As my colleague Neil Paine explained earlier this week, the Cincinnati Bengals now project to finish with the best record in the NFL — at least according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo ratings. The Bengals probably are not the best team in the league; Seattle ranks ahead of them in the Elo ratings, as do Denver and New England. But Cincinnati is 3-0 so far, and those other teams are 2-1. That extra win coupled with a relatively favorable schedule puts the Bengals slightly ahead of the others in projected wins.And yet, the Elo simulations have the Bengals finishing with an average record of 11-5 (11.2 wins and 4.8 losses if you want more precision). Doesn’t the best team in the NFL usually do better than that?It usually does — in fact, it always does. The NFL has completed 34 16-game seasons since it expanded its schedule in 1978 (excluding the 1982 and 1987 seasons, which were shortened by labor disputes). All of those seasons featured at least one team that won at least 12 games. And about 60 percent had at least one team that won 14 or more games.But here’s the thing: the Elo simulations do expect there to be at least one 14-2 team this year. We’re just not sure which team.The chart below depicts the distribution of possible win totals, after thousands of simulations, for the Bengals along with the five other teams with the highest projected win totals. (Those are the Seahawks, Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos). As the chart should make clear, the Bengals’ 11.2-win projection is just an average outcome. Usually, they came pretty close to that average; they won between nine and 13 games in about 70 percent of simulations. But they also won 14 or more games 16 percent of the time. In about 6 percent of simulations, meanwhile, the Bengals wound up with a losing record.And the Bengals are not alone in having a chance to win 14 games. The Seahawks have a 10 percent chance. The Patriots have an 8 percent chance. The Cardinals, Chargers and Broncos are somewhere in the same ballpark, as are other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers.Overall, at least one team won 14 or more games in 62 percent of our simulations, which is right in line with the historical average.Is this just a matter of one team getting hot? That’s a big part of it — it’s not so hard for a team to get lucky over a 16-game schedule. But it’s not the whole story. It’s early in the season, and it could also be that we’re underestimating how strong some of the teams are. Our simulations account for this possibility.Take the Detroit Lions, for example. They’re certainly not among the more likely teams to win 14 games; they rate as almost exactly league average, according to Elo, and already have one loss. They’d need to win at least 12 of their remaining 13 games.If you assume the Lions have a 50 percent chance of winning each remaining game, they’d need to do the equivalent of coming up with heads 12 or 13 times in 13 coin tosses. The probability of that is only 0.17 percent, or about one chance in 600, according to a binomial distribution.But that isn’t the right assumption. It assumes that our projection of how the Lions will perform in one game should be independent from how they perform in the next. But this isn’t the case. Let’s put it this way: If the Lions are 7-1 by the time they reach their bye week in Week 9, would you still give them just a 50 percent chance of winning their remaining games? You wouldn’t — and neither does our Elo simulator.Instead, the simulations are dynamic. We play out the rest of the season one week at a time, and a team’s Elo rating is affected by how it did in the previous week. If the Lions happen to win their game Sunday against the New York Jets in one simulation, for example, it will boost their Elo rating when the simulation gets to Week 5, making them more likely to win that game as well. And if they win that game too, they’ll be still more likely to win their Week 6 game.This might seem like a trivial detail, but it isn’t. It reflects the fact that there’s considerable uncertainty about how strong each team is. And it has a meaningful effect on the odds. Because they’re dynamic, our simulations give the Lions about 1-in-75 chance of winning at least 14 games. Those are still very long odds, but you’d make a huge amount of money over the long run if you got paid out 600 times your wager on bets that actually had a 1-in-75 chance of coming through.Accounting for this properly helps our simulations closely match the historical distribution of NFL win totals. In the chart below, I’ve compared how many teams won a given number of games in an average Elo simulation against the historical figures for 16-game NFL seasons. (The historical average in the chart is adjusted for the fact that there were formerly fewer than 32 NFL teams.) For instance, an average of 1.3 teams per season finished with 13 wins in our simulations, which almost perfectly matches the historical figure.If we didn’t account for this properly, there would be too many teams bunched in the middle with records like 10-6 and 7-9 and too few with records like 14-2 and 1-15. That still doesn’t mean you should bet on any particular team to go 14-2. But the odds are that at least one of them will get there.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire is how the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team might be feeling this preseason. After traveling to powerhouse No. 5 Johns Hopkins for a scrimmage last weekend, the team is set to host a doubleheader Saturday against two more nationally respected programs, No. 12 Syracuse and Robert Morris. The upcoming doubleheader and the regular season have seen ramped-up practices for the Buckeyes, which will be looking to test out some fringe first team players in the matchups this weekend. Coach Nick Myers said he is encouraged by the team’s work ethic so far but said he wants to make sure playing time doesn’t go to some of the players’ heads. “Our motto is ‘Don’t count your reps, make your reps count,’” Myers said. “Guys who may not have got as many reps in the Hopkins game … are going to get more of a chance this weekend.” As was the case with a Jan. 20 match against Team Canada, this weekend’s doubleheader at Woody Hayes Athletic Center has sold out. The wealth of support for the team has been noticed in the locker room, too. OSU assistant coach Dave Dobbins said he thinks OSU students’ enthusiasm is going to help motivate the Buckeyes toward their lofty goal of an NCAA Tournament bid. “It’s great to have that support from the local community. It’s exciting for the guys playing in front of a home crowd,” Dobbins said. Some members of the team said they are excited to test their skills against, historically, some of the sport’s best. Senior midfielder Kevin Mack sees the matchups as a chance for the team to find out where they stand before next week’s season opener. “Syracuse is a top 10 program traditionally and Robert Morris always has a potent offense,” Mack said. “It’s just going to be a good test for us.” Like Mack, Myers said he understands even though it’s still the preseason, this match could be a good sample of what this OSU team can do. “It’s still an exhibition, but it’s an outstanding opportunity with Syracuse and Robert Morris, two very different styles of play that will really test us defensively,” Myers said. OSU starts the regular season at home against Detroit on Feb. 9. Dobbins said he can already sense the team’s excitement to start the year. “They’ve handled it well but are looking forward to the end of the preseason,” Dobbins said. “They have to strive for the season but they’ve done a nice job of it.”