Germany 1 – 0 Argentina

Mario Goetze scores the winning goal, 111th minute, 2nd of double overtime

I’m exhausted. The end of one of the best World Cups I’ve watched since [I’d say] 1982. Plenty of real sports columnists, proper football fans will write pages of stuff I’ll appreciate as much as you may.

Let me congratulate the German team, their coach, the national coaching scheme that brought them to this victory.

Political animal I am, let me note in passing a completely unremarkable moment in the stands photographed at the beginning of the match. Vladimir Putin sits next to Sep Blatter, Dilma Rousseff next to Angela Merkel. With the exception of Blatter all leaders in their own nations, all preparing for the BRICS Summit which starts tomorrow morning in Brazil.

The agenda ranges from trade to the establishment of a $100 billion commercial bank for the BRICS nations. Xi Jinping will probably kick in the lion’s share from China.

The folks in the photo below realize they all have something to gain in sorting economic and political futures together. Most educated adults in the world outside the United States are aware of the same. Our government, our nation continues down the primrose path of a dying imperial nation, a standard we took up from the Brits after World War 2. Our nation, our people, the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb parties that represent our wishes, our “style”, haven’t any more clue about what’s going on in this crowd than Fox & Friends or some Tea Party candidate in Texas. Football, economics or foreign policy.

The folks in the photo – know that.

US soldier admits killing unarmed Afghans for sport – WTF?

An American soldier has pleaded guilty to being part of a “kill team” who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year.

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. “The plan was to kill people, sir,” he told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, after his plea.

The case has caused outraged headlines around the world. In a series of videotaped confessions to investigators, some of which have been broadcast on American television, Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents.

The case is a PR disaster for America’s military and has been compared to the notorious incidents of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This week the German magazine Der Spiegel published three pictures that showed American soldiers, including Morlock, posing with the corpse of a young Afghan boy as if it were a hunting trophy.

Some soldiers apparently kept body parts of their victims, including a skull, as souvenirs. In a statement issued in response to the publication of the photos the US army apologised to the families of the dead. “[The photos are] repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army,” the statement said.

Violent criminal behavior is repugnant to civilized people the world over. Taking murder to the level of sport is not only reprehensible – you have to wonder, to question, the “values” that this thug learned in his young years.

And where they came from?

Secrets of life from the world’s oldest twins

The world’s oldest twins, a pair of French sisters who turned 98 on Thursday, put their longevity down to joie de vivre, or quite simply enjoying life.

Raymonde and Lucienne Wattelade, who are officially recognised as the world’s oldest twins by the Guiness World Records, said the other secret to long life was regular sport.

Both were in the French gymnastics team in the 1930s and continue to dance waltzes as the local casino in Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, south-western France.

The pair, in perfect health, have lived together in a family home for the past five years and are partial to tarot card reading and their favourite tipples: pastis for Raymonde and whisky for Lucienne…

“We live in the present, it’s pointless thinking about the past or the future – we’re still 20 (in our heads),” said Lucienne, who is ten minutes younger than her sister.

Above all, laughter was the key to a good life, she added. “If you don’t laugh, you don’t live.”

My kind of existentialism. Save morosité for the types who wish their non-conformity didn’t keep them from being insiders.

Stand up straight and laugh at the idiots in charge of the asylum.

Somalis murdered for watching the World Cup

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Somali fighters from the Hizbul Islam group have killed two people and arrested dozens for violating a ban on watching World Cup football matches on television.

Eyewitnesses said masked men from the group raided houses on Sunday and Monday in the Afgoi district, 30 km south of the capital Mogadishu, to make sure their ban stands.

“Hizbul Islam killed two people and arrested 35 others, all World Cup fans,” Ali Yasin Gedi, vice-chairman of the Elman rights group, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“Islamists unexpectedly entered houses in Afgoi district and then fired (at) some people who tried to jump over the wall to escape” he said.

Hizbul Islam and another group al-Shabaab, which are widely seen as al-Qaeda’s proxy in the region, control large swathes of the country and much of the capital.

The groups enforce their own strict interpretation of Islam, routinely banning sport, music and dancing…

Three years of fighting in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation has left 21,000 people dead and forced 1.5 million from their homes. Only small pockets of the capital remain in the hands of a Western-backed government and African Union peacekeepers.

My only suggestions for sorting out gangsters like this – and their pathetic masquerade as religious leaders – comes down to firearms and explosives.

They only achieve recognition as representing Islam among two kinds of idiots: Equally depraved thugs seeking political power – and the teabaggers and other right-wing nutballs who are willing to believe in any ideology that gives them a chance to hate furriners.

Armenia and Turkey – football diplomacy

Thousands of Armenians lined the streets of the capital Yerevan Saturday, protesting the Turkish president who drove past in the first ever visit by a Turkish leader. Many held placards demanding justice for massacres that took place nearly 100 years ago.

Abdullah Gul arrived in Armenia to watch a Turkey vs. Armenia football World Cup qualifier game with President Serge Sarkisian that many hope will help the two countries overcome decades of antagonism rooted in Ottoman-era massacres of Armenians.

Gul is the first Turkish leader to set foot in Armenia since the ex-Soviet nation declared independence in 1991. The two neighbors have no diplomatic ties and their border has been closed since 1993.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Still, the visit is a sign of a diplomatic thaw.

Armenia 0 – 2 Turkey