talkSPORT’s Ian Cruise explains why Manchester United’s super Swede is proving his worth, and proving his doubters completely wrong.Diego Costa is the Premier League’s top scorer and Alexis Sanchez continues to prove why Arsenal simply have to break the bank to keep him. (Or why Arsenal have to convince Arsene Wenger he has to break the bank to keep him. Anyway, you know what I mean…).Elsewhere, Sadio Mane’s sparkling form at Liverpool marks him out as one of last summer’s best bits of transfer business, while the remarkable statistic that surfaced last week showing N’Golo Kante has amassed more points since his arrival in England, with Leicester and Chelsea, than any other TEAM bears out both his contribution and importance.But still, for me, the player of the first half of the Premier League season is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And, again for me, that has come as a surprise.I can’t have been the only one (although maybe I was?) who thought that, at the age of 35, after three years as the self-proclaimed ‘King of Paris’ bossing the less than competitive French Ligue Un, he would find the English top-flight a much tougher nut to crack and quite possibly a bridge too far.How wrong I was.Not only has he scored 13 Premier League goals so far, his all-round contribution to Manchester United has been little short of sensational.His work-rate is second to none, and the example he sets his younger team-mates surely can’t help but rub off on them. Already, despite his pre-eminence during his breakthrough season last year, you can see an improvement in Marcus Rashford, albeit in a predominantly cameo role, while Anthony Martial also seems to be rediscovering his mojo. I don’t think that’s a happy accident.Jose Mourinho clearly knew what he was getting when he signed the veteran Swede – the pair worked together at Inter Milan, of course – and his judgement in bringing him into the hurly-burly world of English football has been proven overwhelmingly correct. I don’t think any individual has been more influential on his side.His impact has been likened to that of Eric Cantona, and there’s no doubt he’s well on the way to achieving similar cult status as that attained by the mercurial but volatile Frenchman. (And if he can continue in that vein and usurp that frankly dreadful ’12 Days of Cantona’ festive terrace anthem, he will be doing us all a favour!)It’s not going to be enough for him to continue his remarkable record of winning the League title in his first season with every club he has played for, but it might just be enough to earn United a Champions League spot next season, a feat that looked highly unlikely not that many weeks ago.Mourinho has already stated publicly he intends to take up the option of keeping Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford for another year, and there’s every chance a genuine title tilt will follow next term.I certainly won’t be making the same mistake of writing him – or them – off. 1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’“We can expect the November general election will have even higher numbers requesting, and subsequently casting, absentee ballots throughout the state,” Secretary of State Bruce McPherson wrote last week. But experts warn the trend has made campaigns longer and more expensive and has raised concerns about privacy and security. “The old adage used to be, just campaign in the last 10 days because nobody paid attention,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a political analyst who publishes the California Target Book analyzing state elections. “They now start well over 30 days out, because they know a lot of voters start at least a month before the election. It’s changed the tactics.” And Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, said that while the boom in absentee ballots has made it more convenient to vote – and thereby may boost turnout – it also has an isolating effect. “In California, we don’t have a lot of civic rituals as it is,” Alexander said. “Voting at your polling place is one of the few civic rituals millions of Californians engage in. I think it would be a mistake to take that experience away.” Advocates say absentee ballots allow voters more time to think through their choices – and that is particularly critical on a ballot like this year’s where many voters will be making more than 30 choices. Still, experts say absentee voting also raises the question of whether people who vote at home may be pressured by others in the household to vote a certain way – compared with voting at a polling place, which is a truly secret ballot. Voting by mail also depends on the postal service, and McPherson recently expressed concerns about such costs this year. In at least 15 counties, McPherson said, the ballot is so big that it will cost 63 cents to mail rather than the standard 39 cent stamp. And that has McPherson concerned voters will use insufficient postage and their ballots will be kicked back to them. McPherson has asked the U.S. Postal Service to work with local county election officials to ensure heavier ballots with insufficient postage are delivered on time. The issue is not affecting Los Angeles County because its Ink-a-Vote system creates a smaller ballot, said county Registrar Conny McCormack. Los Angeles County also has traditionally had a lower absentee-voting level than other counties. In the June primary, 30 percent of L.A. County voters mailed in their votes compared with more than 55 percent in Contra Costa and Orange counties. Those counties also have encouraged residents to sign up as permanent absentee voters so they are automatically mailed absentee ballots every election. “Some counties have done that, and they believe it makes their processing easier,” McCormack said. “That wouldn’t be the case here. “If we had 30 or 40 percent of our voters \ absentee that would mean we’d be mailing out 2 million ballots. And getting 2 million ballots ready to mail out by Election Day would be extremely difficult. “If we had to, we would do it, but it’s very expensive.” “And you have to set up polling places anyway. So it really becomes running two elections.” firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 446-6723160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! For the first time in state history, more Californians are expected to vote by mail in the November election than actually going to the polls because of the growing popularity of absentee ballots. Once the domain of overseas travelers and homebound seniors, absentee voting has been made easier by changes in state laws – and busy residents have jumped at the chance to save time and still have their voices heard. “As we all get more and more hectic lives, absentee is a very attractive way to vote,” said Tim Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at Cal State Sacramento. Two decades ago, 9 percent of general-election voting was done by absentee ballot. By last year’s special election, absentee voting was up to 40 percent and in the June primary, nearly 47 percent of votes cast were absentee.
UA Museum of the North head of production Roger Topp and “Snaps.” Photo: Dan Bross/KUAC.The University of Alaska Museum of the North opens a new exhibit Saturday. “Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs” gives visitors the opportunity to experience paleontologists quest and what they’re finding in an underexplored region.Download Audio:Amid the stapling, drilling and cutting of the dinosaur exhibit going up, Museum of the North earth science curator Pat Druckenmiller reflects on the aberrant natural environment Arctic Alaska dinosaurs roamed 70 million years ago.Druckenmiller has spent the last eight years working in Alaska, looking for and finding evidence of dinosaurs in a part of the world where the creatures once walked, but few paleontologists have explored.The museum exhibit includes casts of footprints as well as fossilized bone fragments Druckenmiller and fellow scientists are using to identify and even discover dinosaur species.Druckenmiller is working with Alaska Native speakers to come up with names for the new Alaska dinosaurs. The exhibit takes visitors into what it’s to be paleontologist exploring for dinosaur evidence in Alaska’s backcountry.Roger Topp heads up production at the museum and has accompanied the paleontology team to shoot photos and video. He’s also involved in fleshing out an exhibit, which includes dinosaur models, even one that moves.Other kid friendly parts of the exhibit are a big orange tent fashioned after one paleontologists use in the field, and tubs of silt visitors can paw through to try and find fossils. Seeing it all come together, and connecting scientific field work with the public is gratifying for Druckenmiller.Druckenmiller says some of the special exhibit materials will be incorporated into the museum’s permanent dinosaur display, which hasn’t been updated in 30 years.