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South Africa ready for World Cup party

“Vuvuzela” trumpets blasted and soccer chants rang out across South Africa on the eve of the continent’s first World Cup which Africans hope will transform negative global perceptions of them.

Fans celebrate as they wait for the arrival of the South Africa’s national soccer team “Bafana Bafana” during a parade on the streets of Sandton in Johannesburg June 9, 2010.

In hotels and training grounds across the vast and beautiful nation, players and coaches of the 32 competing nations had their eyes set on an equally lofty goal – lifting the globe’s most coveted sporting prize on July 11.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma unrealistically urged the local Bafana Bafana (The Boys) team to bring him the trophy. But the more likely benefit for the hosts is a legacy of tourism, investment and greater social unity.

South Africa go into Friday’s opener against Mexico brimming with confidence after a 12-match unbeaten run.

The majority of 90,000 people in Soccer City will be backing Bafana Bafana with a cacophony of vuvuzelas that have already become a symbol of South Africa 2010.

“This is big history, I can’t believe it,” local fan Alice Satege said, shaking with tears as she cheered a team parade.

Mexican fans laughing and singing under a statue of Nelson Mandela in sunny Johannesburg on Thursday said they had no qualms about spoiling the local party. Other pockets of fans chanted in multiple languages in Nelson Mandela Square.

Uruguay face France in the second match of the 64-game tournament’s opening day. Among foreigners pouring in, none can have taken a more epic journey than a Uruguayan family which has driven 100,000 km across 41 nations in a tiny car since early 2007 before reaching the World Cup by ship.

Spain, Brazil favorites

For lowly-ranked South Africa, just reaching the second round – and not becoming the first host nation of a World Cup to go out at the start – would probably be triumph enough.

Other African nations like Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have much stronger sides, though the loss of Didier Drogba and Michael Essien respectively are blows to their chances.

Few expect an end to Europe and South America’s stranglehold on the World Cup, with Spain and Brazil everyone’s favorites.

Argentina have arguably one of the most gifted sides, though their chances could depend on the chemistry between maverick manager Diego Maradona and brilliant forward Lionel Messi.

Usual wild expectations associated with England’s team of Premier League players are tempered this time round after some unconvincing friendlies and injuries to key players. But if they win their Group C, they have a kind draw to the semifinals.

Away from speculation of what is to come on the pitch, Netherlands winger Eljero Elia sparked possibly the first major controversy of the tournament by appearing to insult Moroccans on a live streaming video.

“I want to apologize … I am not a racist,” he said.

Thieves strike again

Africans are praying the month-long tournament will counter what they see as old caricatures of hunger, AIDS and crime in world media that fails to grasp the continent’s modern face.

But robberies against foreign journalists have undercut that message for thousands of reporters covering the event, giving a reminder of crime as bad as almost anywhere outside a war-zone.

In the latest incident, Chinese journalists were robbed in their car, the embassy said on Thursday.

Another negative for the tournament is an extraordinary injury list full of big names.

The latest scare was over Switzerland captain Alex Frei, who is doubtful for their opener against Spain next week after hurting an ankle in training.

Health-permitting, former political prisoner and president, Nelson Mandela, 91, intends to make an appearance at Friday’s opening match, hoping to inspire the nation as he did for the Rugby World Cup in 1995 that South Africa won. The party was to officially start on Thursday night with a concert in South Africa’s biggest township, Soweto.

In the camp of little-fancied Slovakia, it was a family affair as coach Vladimir Weiss sought to avoid any accusations of favoritism towards his son and player of the same name. “I am very strict with him, much stricter with him than other players,” the coach said on the training pitch.

Stephen Lawrence: Gary Dobson and David Norris to be sentenced

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence.
They will be sentenced as juveniles because they were under 18 at the time of the attack, which happened in south-east London in April 1993.Police say the investigation could be reopened if new evidence emerges.
Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, can expect to receive sentences considerably shorter than would an adult convicted of the same crime under today’s laws.The BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent Matt Prodger says they could serve minimum prison terms of around 12 years each.
Scientists found a tiny bloodstain on Dobson’s jacket that could only have come from Mr Lawrence. They also found a single hair belonging to the teenager on Norris’s jeans.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, who ordered the 2006 cold case review that led to the convictions, acknowledged that police believe there were five people involved in the murder, but there are currently no “live” lines of inquiry.
“If there was an opportunity to bring the other people who were involved in that night to justice, we would do so,” she said.
Give up others’
In a statement read by his lawyer outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Stephen’s father, Neville Lawrence, said the convictions were a moment of joy and relief – but he could not rest until all of those who killed his son were brought to justice. He described the investigation and preparation of the case as “faultless”.
He later told Channel 4 News: “I’m praying that these people now realise that they’ve been found out and say to themselves, ‘yes I did this awful deed, but I wasn’t alone in that action that night and there are other people also guilty of what I’ve done’ and name them.
“I hope before the sentence is passed, they will talk and give the rest of these people that killed my son up.”In an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Panorama, Stephen’s mother Doreen Lawrence said: “I don’t forgive the boys who killed Stephen. They don’t think they have done anything wrong.
“They took away Stephen’s life and there is nothing in their behaviour or anything to show they regret what their actions have done and the pain it has caused us as a family.”Prime suspects’
The original failed investigation into the murder led to the Metropolitan Police being branded as institutionally racist.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.
Police identified five men who were later named in a damning public inquiry as the “prime suspects”.
By that time, there had already been a catalogue of police errors and two failed prosecutions, one brought by Stephen’s parents.

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Dominick Dunne, Author of Crime Stories Dies

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Dominick Dunne, Author of Crime Stories Dies

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Best-selling author and journalist Dominick Dunne has died at his Manhattan home at age 83. (Aug. 26).

Dominick Dunne

Dominick John Dunne (October 29, 1925 – August 26, 2009) was an American writer and investigative journalist whose subjects frequently hinged on the ways high society interacts with the judicial system. He was a producer in Hollywood and was also known from his frequent appearances on television.

He was the brother of author John Gregory Dunne and the writer Joan Didion was his sister-in-law. He was the father of Alexander Dunne and actors Griffin Dunne and his murdered daughter Dominique Dunne.

In September 2008, Dunne disclosed that he was undergoing treatment for bladder cancer. He was working on Too Much Money, his final book, at the time of his death.

Novels

  • The Winners (1982)
  • The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985)
  • People Like Us (1988)
  • An Inconvenient Woman (1990)
  • A Season in Purgatory (1993)
  • Another City, Not My Own (1997)

Nonfiction books

  • The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-known Name Dropper (1999)
  • Justice: Crimes, Trials, And Punishments (2001)

Collections

  • Fatal Charms: And Other Tales of Today (1987)
  • The Mansions of Limbo

Films (as producer)

  • The Boys in the Band
  • The Panic in Needle Park
  • Play It as It Lays
  • Ash Wednesday

TV series

  • Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice

Biographical film

Dunne’s adventures in Hollywood as an outcast, top-selling author and reporter, were catalogued in the release of Dominick Dunne: After the Party.

This film documents his successes and tribulations as a big name in the entertainment industry. In the film, Dunne reflects on his past as a World War II veteran, falling in love and raising a family, his climb and fall as a Hollywood producer, and his epic comeback as a writer.

Celebrity journalism and photographs

Dunne has frequently socialized with, written about, and been photographed with celebrities. A Salon.com review of his memoir, The Way We Lived Then, recounted how Dunne appeared at a wedding reception for Dennis Hopper.

Sean Elder, the author of the review, wrote: “But in the midst of it all there was one man who was getting what ceramic artist Ron Nagle would call ‘the full cheese,’ one guy everyone gravitated toward and paid obeisance to.” That individual was Dunne, who mixed easily with artists, actors and writers present at the function. The final line of the review about Dunne quoted Dennis Hopper wishing he “had a picture of myself with Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer.”

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