September 25, 2010

Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints: NFL Free Picks



Atlanta Falcons
(1-1, 1-1 ATS)

New Orleans Saints
(2-0, 1-1 ATS)

The New Orleans Saints will play its second NFL betting battle at home this season in what might be the most important duel of the year against the Atlanta Falcons. Both of these teams are vying for first place in the crowded NFC South, and the winner of this season series figures to have a significant upper hand to try to host a playoff game.

The Falcons were the one of just two teams in Week 1 that didn’t score a touchdown. They certainly made up for it last week. Amazingly, after scoring just nine points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, the Falcons are now seventh in the NFL in scoring at 25.0 points per game and sixth in total offense at 369.5 yards per game. The defense has been great as well, as the unit has only allowed two TDs and three field goals in two games. The question mark this week is going to be the health of RB Michael Turner. Turner suffered a groin injury last week and was replaced in the lineup by RB Jason Snelling, who ended up rushing for over 100 yards. Either way, the running game is going to have its work cut out for it. QB Matt Ryan and WR Roddy White have certainly done a lot of work together this year. Ryan has thrown for 477 yards and three TDs, while White has been on the receiving end of 20 passes for 189 yards and one of those touchdowns.

The Saints have a major problem in their rushing game right now. With RB Mike Bell leaving in the offseason, RB Lynell Hamilton getting injured for the year before training camp, RB PJ Hill losing his season early in the preseason, and now RB Reggie Bush fracturing his leg and missing at least the next month and a half, the ball really rests on the legs of RB Pierre Thomas. Thomas is leading the team in rushing with 117 yards, and he has contributed as the second leading receiver with 72 yards on a team high 11 catches, but this isn’t a good situation to be in. The good news is that QB Drew Brees would have no problem throwing the ball 50 times in a game if need be, and he might want to this week knowing how porous Atlanta’s secondary was last season. So far this year, Brees has done well, but he isn’t putting up those MVP type numbers as of yet. The former Purdue Boilermaker is completing 74.3 percent of his passes for 491 yards with three TDs and no picks. New Orleans has come up with two fairly strong defensive outings this year, which is going to be the key to this game and to the season. The team is averaging allowing just 15.5 points per game.

The Saints are still a significantly better team than Atlanta is, and it is going to show in this game. New Orleans won both games in this series last year, which really killed the Falcons come the push for the playoffs, and though this team in black and red is stronger than last year’s bunch, there isn’t going to be enough ammo to try to stop this passing attack of Brees and company. Go with the hosts for your NFL free picks in Week 3.

Selection: New Orleans Saints -4

In Italy, a startling new kind of trade fair

International Herald Tribune May 10, 2010 | ELISABETTA POVOLEDO

ELISABETTA POVOLEDO International Herald Tribune 05-10-2010 In Italy, a startling new kind of trade fair Byline: ELISABETTA POVOLEDO Type: News

What was billed as Italy’s first divorce trade fair was held in Milan over the weekend. this web site goodbye in italian

The exhibitors at what was billed as Italy’s first divorce trade fair were a predictable mishmash of lawyers, real estate agents, divorce planners, paternity testing centers and dating agencies.

No less predictable was the media scrum to record the latest seismic transformation of society in Italy, a mostly Roman Catholic nation traditionally centered on the family.

That stereotype is fading fast. In 2007, according to the most recent statistics available, more than 81,000 of Italy’s 59 million residents at the time separated and about 50,000 divorced. Thirty years ago, divorces did not break the 12,000 mark.

Lifelong marriages and close-knit family “values are great, but women have begun to live a different reality,” said Lorenza Lucianer, a twice-separated office worker who came to the fair with two friends. “We’ve turned into America. Everyone is on their second marriage. It happened later here, but it happened.”

But it’s not quite like America.

For antsy Italian singles-in-waiting, U.S. divorce laws — at least of the cinematic variety, where marriages are dissolved in the time it takes for ink to dry — are the stuff dreams are made of.

In Italy, a divorce takes around five years from the first separation hearing, said Claudio De Filippi, a lawyer who had a stand at the fair over the weekend.

His studio, he said, was challenging Italy’s divorce laws at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, because in most European countries divorce takes around one year. “But, of course, we have the Vatican here,” he said. “Divorce has tended to be viewed as an extreme measure.”

Italy approved divorce, in a referendum, only in 1974 and critics complain that Italian legislators have not kept up with changing times.

For example, Italy fine-tuned its joint custody legislation in 2006, but “la mamma” still ends up doing most of the child-rearing, said Umberto Vaghi of I Love Papa, an association that organizes an annual Daddy’s Pride Parade in Rome and fights for the rights of fathers and minors.

He said his association has been “battling a cultural problem that discriminates against men and women” because it “presupposes that children will stay with their mothers.”

“And that forces mothers into a role that might not let them do other things in life,” he said.

The growing divorce rate is what led Milena Stojkovic two years ago to open what she claims to be Italy’s first divorce planning agency, Ciao Amore. “Ciao means both hello and goodbye in Italian,” she said, adding that she “wanted to give the idea of ‘I never want to see you again’ and ‘this isn’t necessarily a goodbye.”‘

With offices in Rome and Trieste, a branch is expected to open here soon, she said. “Divorce planning was a very new concept in Italy,” she said, but the business has been satisfying. see here goodbye in italian

And now, a trade fair.

It was held in the basement of a large business hotel, not the sort of lodging where people find themselves in situations that lead to divorce.

According to Franco Zanetti, the journalist turned impresario behind the event, Vienna was the first European capital to hold a divorce fair two years ago.

“It was also in a hotel,” he said. “Really Viennese, everything behind closed doors.”

A Parisian version last December “was too sociological and ideological” and open to widows and widowers, which he thought would not have gone down as well in Italy, he said.

So his fair had a bit of everything, including a self-proclaimed seduction expert who gave tips on how to pick up women in a discotheque and mimed a male orgasm during his public pep talk.

Mr. Zanetti said he had “no ideological vocation” toward divorce – - in his late 50s, he married only four years ago — but he has experience in designing trade fairs for the public.

In 1994, he said, he was one of the organizers of Italy’s first sex fair, Mi-Sex, which drew 62,000 visitors in three days. His ambitions this time were more modest. “A thousand visitors would be great, but it’s a small place,” he said.

The potential economic implications of a growing divorce rate were not lost on the Slovenian Tourist Board, which, especially for the fair, quickly put together “regenerative weekends” that could — but need not — include cosmetic treatments for “fresh divorcees,” at several spas, said Maja Slivnjak, a tourist board representative. Slovenia, she added, is “the only country that has love in its name.”

Slovenia is a short drive from many major Italian cities. “We used to focus on couples and families,” but divorce is “a very interesting market,” she said.

Divorcees were not out in big numbers on Saturday afternoon, but those who came had specific agendas.

Virna Modena, a wedding planner from Modena who is divorced, said she had come to the fair “to see the other side of the coin.”

And to check out its commercial potential. “Perhaps it’s a better business to be in,” she said.

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