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from Left field:

Where the Ashes will be won and lost

With the furore over Cardiff being awarded the first Ashes cricket test still bubbling, here’s a run down on each venue for England v Australia and how the results might pan out.

Cardiff: Starts Wednesday, July 8th
A controversial choice for the first test, given that Trent Bridge and Old Trafford were overlooked entirely, but we’ve been told to expect the wicket to turn sideways. Don’t be surprised to see: England field two spinners, Shane Warne drooling over the pitch … from inside the commentary box, Ricky Ponting cursing the fact his only spin front-line option is Nathan Hauritz and rain.

Result: Draw – it can’t rain all the time. It can in Cardiff.

Lord’s, London: Thursday, July 16th
The home of cricket has been as a dry as a desert and as flat as a pancake in recent years and England haven’t beaten Australia at Lord’s since 1934. Expect a seam bowler, most likely Graham Onions, to replace Monty in England’s attack, but the Aussies will arrive without fear given their history on this ground.

Result: Australia win - history is on their side.

Edgbaston, Birmingham: Thursday, July 30th
In 2005, Edgbaston was a scene of carnage for Ponting’s crew as spectators witnessed one of the greatest test matches of all time. For Australia, Glenn McGrath was crocked in the warm-up, the captain then won the toss and mystifyingly chose to bowl, promptly conceding over 400 runs in under 80 overs, and lost the test that swung the series in England’s favour by 2 runs. Moral: Win the toss and bat then take advantage of the deteriorating pitch.

Should Scotland become independent?

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As Scotland prepares to celebrate 10 years of devolution on July 1, the question of whether the nation should gain full independence from the Union refuses to go away.

An opinion poll has found that 58 percent of Scots support the Scottish government’s wish to hold a referendum on independence in 2010.

Rate politicians on grassroots website

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If you are among the 51 percent of eligible voters expected not to participate in the European elections you can still cast a ballot of sorts — online and from the comfort of home.

Rate Your Politician, billed as an “e-democracy” website for users in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales by its Belfast-based founders, provides a grassroots voting platform on politicians and political topics.

Doctor? Nurse? We’d rather be socialites, say today’s youngsters

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pararazzi1.jpgNo longer do little boys and girls dream of being doctors, nurses, firefighters and solicitors — commendable jobs that command a steady income and offer a career for life. These days, it seems, being famous is far more desirable.

The most desired careers among young people include being a musician, famous singer or band member, working in the media, and being a “celebrity or socialite”, according to research by Alliance & Leicester. Its poll of 1,077 people aged 16 to 21 showed that 25 percent want to be a famous musician, 24 percent desire a job in the media and 14 percent want to be famous for, well, being famous. Being a fashion designer (13 percent) or a teacher/ lecturer (13 percent) completes the top five most popular careers.

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