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Germany vs Argentina
Take that index finger from under your nose and stop the high kicking. The war's over and Hitler isn't playing. There is no ethical reason why Brits should not support Germany. But there is a good reason why we should support Argentina in this game (the Falklands war is over too, for those who didn't get the memo). While Germany drifts to the right with Merkel, Argentina under Kirchner has shifted left, withstanding pressure from the IMF to stabilise the economy. More popular with the voters than he is with global capitalists, Kirchner is one more South American leader who's got his priorities right.
The fire last time
In a nation as hyperpatriotic as the US the routine obsession over whether to protect the flag with the constitution has always seemed odd to me. Yesterday's Senate vote was no different.
Ghana v Brazil
· Verdict: Back the boys from Brazil!
Australia vs Italy
A few months ago this would have been tricky. Both nations are similarly healthy and wealthy (unless you're an Aborigine, in which case you'll live as long as the average Bangladeshi). Both have immigrant-bashing tendencies, redneck premiers who encouraged them, and troops in Iraq.
If wanton murder is essential to the US campaign in Iraq, it's time to leave
Both logically and statistically there is only so long that we can continue to describe a regular occurrence as anomalous and still be taken seriously. To treat the consistent as aberrant not only defies common sense but prevents any intelligent assessment of the nature and scale of the problem at hand.
Nation No-Mates
Forget Chandler, Rachel, Ross and company. Never mind Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. Not only are they off the air; even at their most popular they were already out of date.
France v Togo and England v Ecuador
France v Togo
US v Ghana
This one's a slam dunk. The world development movement's website WhoshouldIcheerfor.com assesses teams according to 10 criteria ranging from health spending to carbon emissions and ranks them accordingly.
Ivory Coast v Serbia and Montenegro
In a game between a nation that no longer exists and another whose existence is in jeopardy, hope trumps failure.
The middle of what?
President George Bush, son of former President George Bush; Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, son of former Teamster's leader Jimmy Hoffa; Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader Martin Luther King III, son of former SCLC leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Former Tennessee senator Al Gore, son of former Tennessee senator Al Gore. Alaska Senator, Lisa Murkowski, daughter of former Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski. From Jesse Jackson Jr to former FCC chairman Michael Powell the list goes on.
Gary Younge's ethical World Cup
Tunisia squander their early lead courtesy of a developing world advantage (the average Tunisian earns about a third of their Spanish counterpart and lives seven years less) with a spate of wanton suppression of dissidents, including reports of torture of political prisoners. Spain pulls back with an impressive run up the left-wing. In the two years since their election, the Spanish socialists have withdrawn troops from Iraq, opened talks with ETA, legalised gay marriage, provided amnesty for 800,000 undocumented migrants and introduced a tough law against gender-based violence. A rare victory for Europe over Africa in an era of global disparity and client regimes.
Mexico v Angola
The impact of international football on nationalism is clear; it inflames it. Its impact on domestic politics is less so. Victory should favour the incumbents. But in Mexico, where the incumbent is resigning and leftwing presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador leads in the polls, it is difficult to predict whom a Mexican victory would benefit. As members of the UN security council both Mexico and Angola stood firm against US pressure to endorse the war. Safest, then, to back the Angolans, emerging from years of civil war with a life expectancy of 41 - just a year older than the tournament's oldest player.
England v Trinidad
I never sat a Tebbit test I couldn't fail. This is no exception.
Rebels With a Cause
Politically speaking, I was born in a black hole. It was January 1969. Less than a year after the student uprisings of 1968 and just six months before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Back then I’m sure anything seemed possible. But by the time I had come of age all sense of political possibility had effectively been extinguished. As a 15-year-old in Britain I broke my activist’s milk teeth on the miners’ strike. My side lost. And for the next ten years, with the exception of the struggle for majority rule in South Africa (a victory we would have to share with our parents), every major progressive battle I was involved in would end in ignominious defeat.
Who to cheer for when the football doesn't matter
South Korea is in Iraq; Togo is in a mess. Last year security forces and militia there murdered hundreds and injured thousands in the run-up to the sham presidential election. The choice between a rich nation that goes abroad to kill foreigners and a poor one that does its dirty work at home is not much of one. True, South Korea recently appointed its first female prime minister. But she will still be complicit in far more civilian deaths than Togo's hypermasculine elite ever could be.
Who to cheer for when the football doesn't matter
Should be a walkover, but the Czechs have a knack of scoring elaborate own goals. Both are in Iraq and elections show that both have an evenly and bitterly divided electorate. True, the Czechs now only provide police training in Basra, whereas the Americans are massacring civilians and covering it up. But both have blood on their hands - only the Czechs have smaller hands. Meanwhile, around 75% of Gypsy children in the Czech Republic are stuck in special schools for slow learners. Not even the US can boast that level of discrimination. Get out those stars and stripes, lefties: This one's for the Roma.
Young people's protests are easy to mock. But ignore them at your peril
When she changed her teaching plan and read a poem by the Cuban writer Nicolás Guillén, the students steered the conversation to the issue of the day. "I tried to avoid the subject of immigration but the students kept bringing me back to it," she told a local paper, the Newspaper Tree.
Who to cheer for when the football doesn't matter
Verdict: Support Costa Rica!
Baseball bat linguistics
On June 29th 2005 Nicholas Minucci repeatedly beat Glenn Moore with a baseball bat calling him a "nigger" in Howard Beach, New York. In early 2002, Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy released a book called: Nigger: The strange career of a troublesome word. The word got a whole lot more troublesome this week when Mr Kennedy testified for Mr Minucci.
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