The celebrations, the heartaches, and the sometimes gravity-defying saves and goals that made this leg of the tournament all pins-and-needles
The Americans try to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002 when they play Belgium on Tuesday.+ READ ARTICLE
(SALVADOR, Brazil) — They know the eyes of the United States will be on them from thousands of miles away, and they say they are ready.
The Americans try to reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002 when they play Belgium on Tuesday.
“For some of the guys, it’s the last opportunity, so we have to make the most of it,” U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said. “And I’m sure if we play to the best of our ability, we’ll get a positive result.”
There were two bits of news on the eve of the match. Jozy Altidore has recovered sufficiently from his left hamstring strain to be available, although it appears he is unlikely to start. The forward has not played since the Americans’ June 16 opener, when he was taken off on a stretcher during the first half.
“Just having him with us tomorrow is huge,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Monday, adding Altidore’s time on the field depends on “how much work is in his legs.”
Klinsmann created a stir by saying he isn’t happy with FIFA’s choice of referee, Algeria’s Djamel Haimoudi. His nation was eliminated by the U.S. in 2010, and Algeria played in the same first-round group as Belgium.
“Is it a good feeling? No,” Klinsmann said at a news conference.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots dismissed Klinsmann’s comments, saying: “If we start going into this, it is looking for excuses ahead of the match.”
The United States and Belgium haven’t played in the World Cup since the first tournament in 1930, a 3-0 win by the Americans.
A lot more people are following now. The U.S. averaged more than 18 million viewers on ESPN and Spanish-language Univision for its three first-round games, and viewing parties are scheduled for Tuesday ranging from Solider Field in Chicago to Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, California.
“The country is paying attention in a way that it’s never done before, and we have a chance to make some history,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.
President Barack Obama even watched last week from Air Force One.
A victory against Belgium would put the U.S. in a Saturday quarterfinal against Argentina or Switzerland. With kickoff at 4 p.m. EDT, people are expected to leave work early, take extended lunch breaks and sneak looks at online streams from their mobile phones and office desktops.
“It means a lot to us, the energy that comes from the United States,” said Klinsmann, the former German star striker who moved to California in 1998. “You see where the game is going in the United States. You can’t stop it anymore. It’s breaking through.”
The 13th-ranked Americans are in the knockout rounds of consecutive World Cups for the first time. Belgium, ranked 11th after missing the last two World Cups, has won three straight games at soccer’s showcase for the first time.
But the Red Devils are banged up. Central defender Vincent Kompany (strained left groin) is questionable and left back Thomas Vermaelen (right hamstring) is out. Midfielders Moussa Dembele and Marouane Fellaini — known for his mop of bushy dark hair — have been slowed by calf injuries.
Fellaini is a former Everton teammate of American goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played with Belgian forwards Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas last season. Howard is also familiar with Eden Hazard, who was criticized for his play during the first round despite setting up go-ahead goals against Russia and Algeria.
“Probably one of the best players in the Premier League,” Howard said. “He’s shifty. He’s crafty. He’s everything you want in a winner.”
Dempsey, 31, and 32-year-old defender DaMarcus Beasley are unlikely to be on the 2018 roster. Howard, 35, hasn’t committed to another four-year cycle.
“I’m not at all sure it’s his last World Cup,” Gulati said.
Belgium is quite familiar with Klinsmann: He scored in Germany’s 3-2 win over Belgium at Chicago’s Soldier Field in the second round of the 1994 World Cup.
Klinsmann and Wilmots are friends, too. They had scheduled a training session between the teams June 12, but Wilmots called it off because he didn’t want to get caught in Sao Paulo’s traffic jams.
Last year, Belgium overwhelmed the U.S. 4-2 in an exhibition at Cleveland. But friendlies are different.
The Americans know they have to boost their offense, which was next to last in attacks during the first round.
“It’s all about who wants it more,” Beasley said. “You can’t leave anything on the field for these type of games.”
The group Exit changed its practices to allow patients who are not terminally ill to request assisted suicide
A Swiss assistance suicide organization will now extend its services to elderly people who aren’t terminally ill but simply wish to die as old age advances.
The group Exit added “suicide due to old age” to its list of services at annual meeting over the weekend, the Guardian reports, amid criticism from Swiss doctors. Patients will now have the choice to end their life if suffering from psychological or physical problems associated with age.
The Swiss Medical Association condemned this change, saying it will encourage suicide among the elderly. “We do not support the change of statutes by Exit,” association president Dr Jürg Schlup said. “It gives us cause for concern because it cannot be ruled out that elderly healthy people could come under pressure of taking their own life.”
Exit stood by its decision, saying patients who consider that option had already been looking into assisted suicide for years.
Euthanasia has been legal in Switzerland since 1942 but organizations administering life-ending drugs only gained legal status in the 1980’s. The shift by Exit came shortly after a doctor was acquitted by a Swiss appeals court for administrating life-ending drugs to a 89-year old man without examining him first.
Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev was ordered to pay his ex-wife $4.5 billion by a Swiss court
A Swiss court ordered Russian oligarch and Monaco soccer club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife Monday.
And if what Rybolovlev’s lawyer’s saying is true, then the soon-to-be-appealed settlement amounts to the most expensive divorce in history.
Lawyers for Rybolovlev’s ex-wife Elena, on the other hand, released a statement that the ruling was a “complete victory.” On top of the settlement money, which amounted to half of Dmitry’s fortune, Elena will receive three different properties—one of which is worth $146 million—and custody of their 13-year-old daughter Anna.
The former couple, both of whom are 47, met in a Russian university and were married in 1987. Divorce proceedings began in 2008. Forbes once estimated Rybolovlev was the 78th richest man on earth thanks to his success in the fertilizer business. He’s now number 147.
Ryobolovlev’s settlement figure puts even other notoriously pricey divorces in the shade. Art dealer Alec Wildenstein paid his ex-wife a $2.5 billion settlement on top of a yearly $100 million sum for 13 years following his 1999 divorce. That same year, Rupert Murdoch reached a settlement with his wife of 31 years, Anna, for $1.7 billion.
The country showed that minimum wage hikes, while generally popular, do have their outer limits
Swiss voters resoundingly rejected a bill on Sunday that would have vaulted the nation’s minimum wage to $25 an hour, the highest wage floor in the world.
The Minimum Wage Initiative, advocated by the Swiss Trades Union Confederation, suffered an overwhelming defeat at the polls, with 76% of Swiss voters opposing the bill. It marks an unusual defeat for a policy that typically polls well the world over.
But the scale of Switzerland’s proposed hike, vaulting it two times ahead of the most generous minimum wage rate in the world ($10.66 an hour, compliments of Luxembourg), clearly had Swiss voters on edge.
The referendum offers an interesting test case of where in the voters’ mind a wage hike leaves the realm of economic reality and soars into Alpine-high levels of wishful thinking. After all, if the Swiss bill became U.S. law tomorrow, it would require instant wage renegotiations for 620 occupations across the country, all of which pay less than $25 an hour on average. A sampling of those occupations is below.
Workers in jobs ranging from flipping burgers to preparing taxes to writing articles like this one would be vaulted up the pay ladder, but would they be able to keep their jobs along the way?
Swiss voters registered their doubts at the polls on Sunday, effectively setting an outer boundary for public debates on wage floors – $10, yes, but $25? Come back down to earth.
The co-founders behind the newly unveiled Solar Impulse 2 say the jet will be able to circle the planet in a three-month trip planned for next year using only solar power, but now they just need to "develop a sustainable pilot"
A new airplane was unveiled in Switzerland on Wednesday that its builder hopes will fly all the way around the earth using only solar power in 2015.
The Solar Impulse 2 has a 236-foot wingspan—longer than a Boeing 747—covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors, which in turn drive the plane’s propellers.
Weighing in at 5,000 pounds, the Solar Impulse will ferry just one pilot at a time and not much else at a top speed of 87 mph. To cross the vast Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the plane will have to stay airborne for at least five days at a time, gaining altitude during the day when the sun is out and slowly descending about 5,000 feet in the evening when it’s dark.
The plane will be piloted in shifts by the two founders of the Solar Impulse project, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. Though the plane, they say, could theoretically fly indefinitely, the pilots cannot.
“So we have a sustainable airplane in terms of energy,” Borschberg told the Associated Press. “We need to develop a sustainable pilot now.”
The flight will take place in 20 airborne days over the course of three months in 2015. It will be grounded on the remaining days to allow the two pilots to switch off. The plane will be tested in May and June this year.
Without multiculturalism, the Swiss would not be at the World Cup
By the smallest of margins, Swiss voters passed a controversial anti-immigration law by referendum on Sunday, which returns strict quotas on migration from the European Union in spite of existing trade and labor agreements with Brussels. The verdict has been met with dismay by the Swiss government and business leaders, as well as E.U. officials who may now seek reciprocal, punitive measures that affect the importation of Swiss goods into the European market. “It means that Switzerland wants to withdraw into itself,” lamented French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Migrants make up roughly a quarter of Switzerland’s population and increasing fears over overcrowding and cultural dilution have led right-wing groups to push back using the country’s unique system of direct democracy. The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has spearheaded earlier initiatives to ban burqas and the construction of minarets in the country; it championed the yes vote in this referendum. The SVP’s thinly veiled racial prejudice has raised eyebrows before, but its current success may embolden other ideologically similar Euroskeptic parties across the continent.
Still, many are not impressed. Not long after news of the referendum’s verdict emerged, a satirical German news site released this image in a blog post, which soon spread across social media. It shows what the highly regarded Swiss national soccer team would look like were it unable to select players from immigrant backgrounds.
The Swiss team qualified first in its group for the 2014 World Cup and ranked, surprisingly, as one of the top seeds going into the tournament. Its triumphant form is in large part due to a new generation of young, immigrant talent — including the ethnically Turkish midfield general Gökhan Inler and Xherdan Shaqiri, a budding superstar of Albanian descent born in the former Yugoslavia. The dynamic core of Swiss football is a direct product of outward-looking policies that accepted migrants and embraced the refugees of the 1990s Balkan wars. A thin majority of the country may resent the inroads made by traditionally non-Swiss groups in their society, but you’ll find few complaining when Shaqiri, Inler et al line up in their nation’s colors.