What do Liu Wen, Aki Hoshino, Eunice Olsen, Aishwarya Rai, Shin Min Ah, Nadine Ann Thomas, Sonia Sui, Jessica Cambensy, Dominique Agisca Diyose, Aung San Suu Kyi and Cherman Ploy Boonyasak have in common?

They are all listed in Esquire magazine’s “atlas” of sexiest women alive 2010.

US actress Minka Kelly is at the top of the heap as the Sexiest Woman Alive, and was made Esquire’s cover girl for its November 2010 issue.

Minka Kelly on the cover of Esquire Magazine November 2010

A total of 195 women were singled out by editors of Esquire’s 17 international editions. They were picked for representing “something different, something beautiful, something that reveals a little bit more about who we are.”

Read the rest of this entry…

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The decision on the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup tournaments will be revealed in Zurich in less than an hour from now.

America’s final pitch to host to the 2022 World Cup was left to a former president and an Oscar-winning actor, who talked of diversity and outlined an aggressive economic plan in a 30-minute presentation with hopes of sweeping past Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea in today’s vote.

While Clinton’s speech veered into highlights of his own foundation’s achievements, Freeman invoked the name of Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who helped bring the 2010 World Cup to that nation. Freeman portrayed Mandela in the movie “Invictus,” based on the former political prisoner’s role in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and using it to unite a country separated by apartheid.

“We are now the most diverse nation on earth,” Freeman said. “And our patchwork heritage is our greatest strength.”

Freeman later introduced the video of Obama, who delivered a similar message of inclusion.

“Ours has always been a nation of great diversity and great promise,” Obama said. “Anything is possible.”

The World Cup bid team noted that no infrastructure needs to be built to host the tournament in the U.S. The Americans also highlighted the growth of soccer in the country since it hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1994.

The single item that could sway voters toward the American bid is its moneymaking potential. Among the 18 proposed game sites are the new, suite-filled stadiums of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants and Jets.

The vote for the 2018 World Cup site will also be announced in less than an hour from now, with England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands competing for the honor.

The bid process has been by far the most controversial that FIFA has ever overseen. Its decision to decide the fate of both the 2018 and 2022 bids at the same time has been widely criticized for encouraging vote collusion between bids — an accusation FIFA deny.

But it was the revelations by the British newspaper the Sunday Times that has marred the process. Undercover journalists secretly filmed two members of FIFA’s then 24-strong executive committee allegedly offering to sell their votes. The accusations of corruption resulted in the suspension of two voters, leaving 22.

The corruption allegations didn’t stop England from pushing ahead in its bid, with David Beckham, Prince Williams and British Prime Minister David Cameron all schmoozing with FIFA voters in Zurich.

The other 2022 presenters did their best to highlight their nations’ strongest qualities:

Australia used supermodel Elle Macpherson and an animated kangaroo to back up its catchphrase of being the “world’s greatest playground.”

Australia is pinning their hopes on the body of Elle Macpherson.

Qatar, which may have had the slickest show, relied mainly on proving it can keep the country cool during the blazing hot summer months.

South Korea played the political angle, saying a World Cup on its soil could foster peace relations on the divided peninsula.

“We saw that football has the power to bring people together, to end enmity and to spur reconciliation,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said. “It gave us a vision that the World Cup in 2022 can be a celebration of peace for Korea and the world.”

Japan appears to have very little support for the bid within FIFA.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, will announce the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 competitions in less than an hour from now. Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the prime ministers of South Korea, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium have flown to Zurich to push their countries bids. Hosting the tournament is worth about $5 billion, according to American estimates.

The results will be known any time now. Stay tuned!

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The 2010 FIFA World Cup is all set to kick off tomorrow in South Africa. This will be the 19th FIFA World Cup and this is the first time that the tournament will be hosted by an African nation, after South Africa defeated Morocco and Egypt in an all-African bidding process. The tournament is scheduled to take place between June 11 and July 11.

2010 FIFA World Cup

This is the first World Cup that does not include any teams that are qualifying for the first time, although two of the qualifiers (Slovakia and Serbia) have previously appeared only as parts of former competing nations. Slovakia was previously part of Czechoslovakia, and Serbia has competed as part of Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro. In both cases FIFA considers these teams to have retained the earlier nations’ records.

The 32 qualifiers are South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England, Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, United States, New Zealand, Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The tournament will be held at the following 10 venues in South Africa.

Cape Town Stadium, Capetown

Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

Mbombela Stadium, Nelsprint

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane

Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Soccer City, Johannesburg

Soccer City, Johannesburg

Zakumi, an anthropomorphized leopard with green hair, is the official mascot of the tournament. “Za” is the international abbreviation for South Africa and “kumi” is an African word that means “ten”. So Zakumi stands for South Africa 2010.

Zakumi...official mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The official song for 2010 FIFA World Cup is “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”, in English, and “Waka Waka (Esto es Africa)” in Spanish. Waka means do it. It will be performed by Shakira and South African group Freshlyground at the closing ceremony before the World Cup final on Juy 11 in Johannesburg Soccer City Stadium.

Shakira

Who will win the coveted World Cup? Being a fan of English Premier League, I would be ecstatic if England wins it. But I seriously doubt England can pull it off as England always seems to falter at World Cup tournaments. I am putting my money on Brazil and Spain.

Let the world cup begin……Waka Waka!

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In Japan, farmers have been creating stunning giant living works of crop art made by the careful planting of different varieties of rice. Although the images may look as if they have been digitally created in an image manipulation program, they are in fact real and are indeed created from rice plants. Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields. As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.

The rice field art tradition began in the Japanese village of Inakadate in 1993 but has now spread to other areas of Japan. Villagers and volunteers help plant four varieties of rice that grow in different colours. The farmers use computers to plan their art before planting so that they know exactly where to place the different coloured rice plants in order to create the giant images. Planting generally takes place in May and the images look their best by September. Each year a different design is on show and more than 15,000 visitors travel to see the creation.

These Japanese farmers are truly astonishing for creating such stunning and unique work of art. Hmmm……maybe our Malaysian rice farmers can learn from them…but I am probably just dreaming….Malaysian farmers using computers? Boleh kah? Nay, our Malaysian farmers know only one type of mouse…the type that eat their crops!

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