Lallana double helps Liverpool end 2014 on a high

Brendan Rodgers, whose side came so close to winning the title in May but have laboured so often since, could afford a festive smile after his side’s biggest home win of the season which at last reprised some of the best of the goal-hungry, early-2014 Liverpool.

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Alberto Moreno both started and finished off an excellent team move to score after 33 minutes before Lallana was gifted one of the strangest goals of the season after 51 minutes.

Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski took an age to make a clearance, then struck the ball straight at the England midfielder only for the ball to thump into Lallana and balloon into the empty net.

Within a minute Swansea responded through a close-range Gylfi Sigurdsson strike but Liverpool soon took complete command, Lallana scoring an authentically excellent third in the 61st minute, ghosting past two defenders and firing home after being freed by a delightful flick from Philippe Coutinho.

When Jonjo Shelvey netted a 69th minute own goal, flicking a header past his own keeper from Jordan Henderson’s corner, it completed a miserable night for the former Liverpool man.

In the first half, Shelvey could have been sent off after he lashed out with his arm and struck Emre Can in the face right in front of referee Andre Marriner, who ignored it.

Raheem Sterling also could have been in hot water late in the game after a retaliatory half-push, half-slap into the face of Federico Fernandez but Rodgers felt neither Shelvey nor Sterling deserved punishment for heat of the moment antics.

The victory, only Liverpool’s third in their last nine Premier League games at Anfield, pushed them into eighth place on 28 points, jumping above Swansea on goals scored and just five points off the top four.

Lallana felt that Liverpool had turned a corner here after all their struggles — a feeling Rodgers seemed to echo.

“It’s something we’ve been searching for all season,” said Rodgers, of the combination between Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling.

“There’s a lot of work to do but there’s a real exciting second half of the season for us.”

(Writing by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Pardew on verge of taking over at Palace

Newcastle confirmed on their official website that Palace had made a formal approach to speak to Pardew about their managerial vacancy and they had agreed.

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“Crystal Palace have offered compensation at a level whereby Alan has now been permitted to speak to them,” the statement said of the manager who joined the club in December 2010.

“As a result of this development today, Alan will not be at training on Tuesday. Training will be the responsibility of assistant manager John Carver.”

The agreement smoothes the way for Pardew’s managerial ‘transfer’ to the club where he was once a favourite as a player.

With Pardew’s Newcastle contract still having six years to run, a compensation package will need to be finalised between Palace’s co-owners and United owner Mike Ashley, who is currently on holiday in Barbados.

If the deal is confirmed, it would mean Pardew leaving a club currently lying 10th in the table for one struggling for survival in the relegation zone in 18th place, having sacked their manager Neil Warnock on Saturday.

Yet after a turbulent time at St James’ Park, where he faced various campaigns calling for his resignation or dismissal, the 53-year-old Pardew would be warmly received back at Palace, the club he helped steer to an FA Cup final as a midfielder in 1990.

Reports in the British media claim that Pardew, whose future looked particularly insecure before Newcastle rallied from their dismal start to the season, had made it clear to Ashley he wanted to go to Palace.

He played for the London club as a midfielder for four years, making 128 league appearances and scoring eight goals.

Pardew’s most celebrated goal, though, was the one that sank Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final. Palace went on to lose the final to Manchester United after a replay but it remains the Eagles’ finest achievement.

Speculation about Pardew’s future had been rife since he skipped the post-match news conference after Newcastle had beaten Everton 3-2 on Sunday.

There have also been reports that Pardew, whose family home is in Surrey, much nearer to London than Newcastle, was left frustrated by a meeting with Ashley last month where he was told he would have no money for new signings in the transfer window.

(Writing by Ian Chadband; Editing by John O’Brien)

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The problem with Facebook’s ‘Year in Review’

Facebook is currently awash with year-end collages, compilations of users’ most popular and engaging photos, packaged under the tagline, “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.

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” (These are the defaults—the text and photos can be changed.) If you look at a friend’s “Year in Review,” or just log on, you may find Facebook has generated one for these for you—ready-made and hovering in your feed until you share it.

But algorithm-generated bonhomie can be problematic. What if you haven’t had a great year? What if Facebook is resurfacing an unhappy memory, and surrounding it with party images?

That’s what happened to web consultant and author Eric Meyer, he wrote on his blog:

““Eric, here’s what your year looked like!”

A picture of my daughter, who is dead. Who died this year.

Yes, my year looked like that. True enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully.”

Meyer explains that what happened to him was an “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty.” In a follow-up post, he writes that he does not blame designers for the code’s lack of empathy. He points out that the Twitter analytics app ThinkUp made a similar mistake: it described the link he tweeted to his daughter’s obituary as his “most popular shared link.” It was accompanied by an exhortation along the lines of “you must be doing something right—people loved what you had to say!”

(Facebook did not respond to a weekend request for comment; we will update this post when the company does.)

Facebook has apologized to Meyer, according to his recent blog post. Jonathan Gheller, the “Year in Review” app product manager, told the Washington Post he had apologized, and that the team would work to improve the app, though he didn’t offer specifics.”It’s valuable feedback,” Gheller said. “We can do better—I’m very grateful he took the time in his grief to write the blog post,” he told the Post.

This article was originally published on Quartz. Click here to view the original. © All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

 

 

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NATO changes role in Afghanistan

US General John Campbell made the comments at a ceremony in Kabul to mark the end of NATO’s combat mission.

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From New Year’s Day, the US led International Security and Assistance Force will be replaced by a training and support mission, called Resolute Support.

 

The ISAF Commander, United States General John Campbell, describes the moment as the end of one era, and the start of a new one.

 

“A 13-year endeavour filled with significant achievements and tremendous sacrifice, especially by the thousands of coalition and Afghan army and police wounded and fallen who gave so much to build a brighter future for this war-torn land.”

 

Afghan National Security Advisor, Mohammad Anif Atmar paid tribute to the sacrifices made since 2001.

 

“On behalf of President Ghani and the people of Afghanistan, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for the NATO coalition’s efforts and sacrifices in Afghanistan since 2001. The costs of our struggle have been enormous.”

 

The NATO Afghan deployment began after the September 11 attacks in the US and, at its peak, involved more than 130,000 people from 50 countries.

 

Since 2002, 42 Australians have been killed while serving in the country; 41 with Australian Defence Forces and one with the British Armed Forces.

 

And after more than a decade of fighting, the Taliban is still active and appears to be gaining in strength.

 

The past 12 months has been the bloodiest since 2001.

 

They’re facts the ISAF commanders are well aware of as the mission ends its combat role and begins a new training and support mission, with about 12,000 troops staying in the country.

 

Lieutenant General Carsten Jacobson is ISAF’s Deputy Commander says the new mission isn’t a straightforward one.

 

“It is a non-combat mission in a combat environment. A combat environment means that we are still facing an insurgency that is fighting against our Afghan friends and brothers in arms and that will also put challenges against us so we have to be prepared to defend ourselves but it is a non-combat mission.”

 

 

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Police say people should be alert on NYE

Revellers should be alert, but not alarmed as they come in to Sydney this New Year’s Eve, police say.

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About 1.6 million people are expected to descend upon the city to watch the fireworks and partake in the festivities.

In light of the recent Sydney siege and heightened terror alerts, police say they are prepared and will be out in force to make sure people feel safe in the city during the celebrations.

“We’ve worked hard in relation to counterterrorism issues at a national level and even at an international level and we understand the environment we live in, we’re not blind to that,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy said on Tuesday.

There will be more than 3000 officers working in the city on New Year’s Eve which a police spokeswoman said is an increase of about 100 on last year.

This is based on reviews following last year’s event on how best to manage the evening.

While police say the number one risk to community safety over new year is alcohol-related violence, they are asking that people be vigilant on the night.

“We’re not oblivious to the risks at hand and we’re asking people to be alert and not alarmed and to come in and enjoy the night,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy said.

The lockout laws will also be relaxed on the night with the 1.30am lockout extended until 3am, which Commissioner Loy said was to keep crowds moving.

“We are very concerned about the public safety … in relation to trampling in the rush to get to venues, ” he said.

NSW Ambulance has also increased its manpower for what it says is the busiest night of the year, with more than 1000 calls expected.

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West Brom axe coach Irvine after poor start

Irvine becomes the second managerial casualty in three days after relegation-threatened Crystal Palace dumped Neil Warnock on Saturday.

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And with Alan Pardew in line to swap Newcastle for Palace, the Premier League managerial merry-go-round has suddenly gathered pace after an unusually quiet start to the season in which nobody was fired for the first four months.

Irvine is the third head coach dismissed by West Brom in little over 12 months, following the short reigns of Steve Clarke and Pepe Mel.

His fate was sealed after a 2-0 away defeat against Stoke on Sunday, which followed a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City two days earlier.

“Securing a sixth season in the Premier League is the over-riding target and sometimes unpleasant decisions have to be taken to serve that imperative,” Albion technical director Terry Burton says on the club’s website.

“Alan has impressed everyone with his manner, dedication and diligence but he knows that results have simply not been good enough.”

Irvine was surprise choice when he was hired as West Brom manager in June this year after the 56-year-old Scot had spent the previous three seasons as youth team coach at Everton.

Bookmakers have installed former Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood as favourite to succeed Irvine with ex-Stoke and Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis close behind in the betting.

West Brom travel to West Ham on New Year’s Day with Rob Kelly, helped by fellow assistant head coach Keith Downing, in caretaker charge.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Torres back with Atletico ‘in pursuit of happiness’

The Spain striker, who has agreed to rejoin Atletico on loan from Milan until the end of next season, added that it was a dream to go back to the boyhood team he left seven years ago.

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Thrilled about his return to the Vicente Calderon stadium where he was an idol, scoring 91 goals after making his debut at 17, the 30-year-old told the club website(en.clubatleticodemadrid广西桑拿,): “I’m going to Atletico in pursuit of my happiness.

“When I was a child my dream was to play for Atletico. I achieved that and to come back now is another dream I get to accomplish again. I’ve been fine with other teams but there isn’t one like Atleti.

“Nobody can doubt how I’ll feel wearing that shirt again. Atletico appeared and I had no doubts. Atleti fans always demand your all on the field and I guarantee that I will give them that and more.”

Torres, who left Madrid for Liverpool in 2007 before moving on to Chelsea for a British record fee of 50 million pounds in 2011, will be presented to the fans on Sunday providing he passes a medical before then.

Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin said it was not a piece of business for the Spanish champions based on sentiment.

“To sign Torres we followed pure sporting criteria,” said Marin. “We want to continue to compete at the same level as in recent years and Fernando will help us stay there.

“All social, economic and club brand parameters were looked at after. The sporting aspect has always come first.”

Recalling why Torres originally left Atletico, Marin said: “In 2007 the economic crisis in Spain began and Fernando and ourselves decided to go our separate ways, to grow on our own, and that’s what we did.

“Now, in 2014, we meet again. We both did well individually and history brings us together once more.”

Torres, one of the world’s deadliest strikers during his first spell with Atletico and at Liverpool, struggled badly for goals at Chelsea and Milan.

(Writing by Ian Chadband, editing by Tony Jimenez)

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New Zealand seek to continue success in Wellington

Brendon McCullum’s side are seventh in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) rankings, two places below Sri Lanka, though are playing at a standard that belies that position.

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They have played nine tests in 2014 and won five of them, a national record for test victories in a year, lost two and drawn two. They are also unbeaten in six successive series at home and away since they were hammered 2-0 in England in May, 2013.

While McCullum has garnered the headlines with two double centuries, New Zealand’s first test triple century and a 134-ball innings of 195 at Hagley Oval that changed the complexion of the game, the team has become settled and balanced.

Bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult have blossomed into one of the best new ball combinations in the world with both now ranked inside the top-10, while batsman Kane Williamson has come of age in the past 12 months.

Williamson has scored 929 runs in 2014 with four centuries and coupled with Ross Taylor’s continued maturation and development, the heart of the batting lineup has no concerns going forward.

Finding a settled opening partnership continues to be an issue, though opener Hamish Rutherford will play the second test in Wellington this week.

New Zealand’s only change has been to bring Corey Anderson back into the match-day 13 for Dean Brownlie.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said he had seen enough in the team’s seconds innings batting, when Dimuth Karunaratne scored a maiden test century, and in their bowling to have hope at the Basin Reserve.

“We showed a lot of fight and a lot of character in the second innings,” Mathews said.

“I thought the bowlers bowled pretty well. We got the lines and lengths right. That’s a positive we can take to Wellington.

Mathews said he hoped left-arm spinner Rangana Herath would be available for the second test, though he doubted there would be many changes to his side.

“We will give it some thought over the next few days,” he added. “We have the batters and have the bowlers.

“There won’t be too many changes. It was just one game that we lost. We have been playing pretty good cricket.”

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Aussie among 3 climbers missing on Mt Cook

An Australian man and two Germans are missing in bad weather on New Zealand’s Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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The trio are overdue from an attempt on the summit of the country’s tallest peak and searchers fear the weather won’t clear until New Year’s Day to attempt an aerial search.

The Australian is Michael Bishop, believed to be about 40 years old, and police want to talk to anyone who knows him.

Police have not named the German pair while they contact next of kin.

Roped together, the trio left Plateau Hut at 1.30am on Monday to climb to the 3724m summit via the Linda Glacier route and were last seen on the glacier’s Teichelmann’s Corner at 4am on Monday.

An aircraft was sent up on Tuesday morning, but found no sign of them and was turned back by bad weather.

“Conditions were quite rough for flying, and the weather forecast is for deteriorating weather,” said Senior Constable Brent Swanson.

The guide who last saw them said Monday’s climbing conditions were reasonably good, but crevasses are an issue at the moment, with quite high freezing levels and unstable snow bridges.

“At this stage, we are making further inquiries as to the missing party’s intentions and plans, and closely tracking the weather,” Sen Const Swanson said.

“It doesn’t look like there will be a good clearance until New Year’s Day.”

A guided climbing group on the mountain is providing information on weather and visibility, and will report back on any sightings of the missing party.

In July, a 44-year-old Australian soldier was killed on Mt Cook after falling down a 30-40 metre crevasse during a winter exercise.

Earlier this month, experienced mountaineer Stuart Haslett, 28, died in a climbing accident on the mountain.

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Mutilation ‘impossible’ to prevent: Bishop

Foreign minister Julie Bishop has urged relatives or friends to blow the whistle on anyone taking children abroad to undergo female genital mutilation.

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The Australian Federal Police is investigating reports of a Brisbane girl being taken from her home to undergo genital mutilation in Africa.

Female genital mutilation is illegal in Australia, as is removing children to undergo the procedure.

But it is virtually impossible for authorities to step in without evidence of somebody’s intentions, Ms Bishop says.

“If somebody just presents with a passport and they’re heading off overseas and we have no evidence to provide us with any cause to prevent the person leaving, then of course that happens,” she told Fairfax radio on Tuesday.

“People are free to travel on an Australian passport if they have a valid passport.”

Ms Bishop said it was vital that family members or friends who were in the know about such plans let authorities know.

“This equally applies to foreign terrorist fighters,” she said.

“It’s the families that we need to hear from if there are such matters occurring.”

Relatives were the ones most likely to notice changes in behaviour or the beginning of radicalisation, Ms Bishop said.

“(Whether it’s) a girl leaving for overseas for this brutal, barbaric practice, or whether it’s people leaving for overseas to take up with terrorist organisations.”

An AFP spokeswoman said they were unable to reveal details of the case at this stage.

They could not confirm reports from The Guardian Australia that the girl was believed to have travelled to Gambia with her father to undergo the procedure.

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