Brock Lesnar suddenly retires after first-round loss at UFC 141

Brock Lesnar reacts to his first round TKO loss by Alistair Overeem, of the Netherlands, right after their UFC 141 heavyweight mixed martial arts match, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, at The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Lesnar retired after Overeem stopped him with one vicious kick to the body at 2:26 of the first round. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)LAS VEGAS — Brock Lesnar took one last kick to his stomach and crumpled at the side of the cage, unable to fight back when Alistair Overeem pounced.Lesnar had been finished by a 6-foot-5 Dutch kick boxer in the first round at UFC 141. A few minutes later, the UFC’s former heavyweight champion finished his own meteoric mixed martial arts career.Lesnar retired from the UFC after Overeem stopped him with one vicious kick to the body at 2:26 of the first round in their heavyweight bout Friday night, leaving the UFC heading into 2012 without its biggest pay-per-view star.”This is the last time you’ll see me in the octagon,” Lesnar said.Largely thanks to his fame from a career in pro wrestling, the hulking Lesnar (5-3) played a significant role in expanding the UFC’s profile and fan base over the past four years. He beat Randy Couture in 2008 to win the heavyweight title, defending it twice before losing the belt to Cain Velasquez last year.But Lesnar has fought just three times in the past 2 1/2 years while dealing with bouts of a lower-intestinal ailment that nearly killed him. The accumulation of pain and rehabilitation finally undid Lesnar, whose famed strength and stubbornness couldn’t overcome diverticulitis.”I’ve had a really difficult couple of years with my disease, and I’m going to officially say tonight is the last time,” Lesnar said.Lesnar’s return from a 14-month injury absence was a short, one-sided beating. After taking damage from two knee blows early on, he couldn’t recover from a kick to the liver from Overeem (36-11), who made a stellar UFC debut despite getting cut near his right eye by a punch from Lesnar.The 34-year-old Lesnar’s announcement stunned fans who already realized he faced a difficult matchup in the UFC’s traditional end-of-the-year event in its hometown. The matchup was a classic MMA clash of styles, with Lesnar’s brute wrestling contrasting sharply with Overeem’s vicious striking.”I had no idea he would do that, (but) am I surprised? No,” UFC President Dana White said. “Brock Lesnar has made a lot of money in his career and has achieved a lot of things. … He brought a lot of excitement to the heavyweight division. What he accomplished in a short amount of time is amazing, but I get it. It doesn’t shock me.”Overeem is three years younger but much more experienced than Lesnar, hurting the former champion at least twice earlier in the round while Lesnar failed in his attempt at a one-legged takedown.”I promised my wife and my kids if I won this fight, I would get a title shot, and that would be my last fight,” Lesnar said. “But if I lost tonight … you’ve been great.”Overeem will get the next shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, who watched from a seat near the octagon.Overeem is a champion kick boxer who has fought in multiple promotions over the past decade, winning titles in Dream and Strikeforce with nearly unbeatable striking and size. He joined the UFC in September, finally presenting his formidable skills and intimidating physique to the sport’s largest audience.”My experience in UFC was, it’s huge,” Overeem said. “I think it’s like 100 times bigger than Strikeforce. K-1 (kick boxing) is big, but this is a lot bigger. I was a little bit blown away, still am. I loved every second of it.”White might have given an immediate title shot to Overeem if the timing had been better, but Dos Santos only claimed Velasquez’s belt in early November. Overeem welcomed a debut against Lesnar, even guaranteeing a knockout in the first two rounds.”First or second round, I promised,” Overeem said.Lesnar hadn’t fought since losing his heavyweight belt to Velasquez in October 2010, cancelling a bout against Dos Santos last June in Vancouver after another flare-up of diverticulitis. The former NCAA wrestling champion and fake WWE wrestler kept his unparalleled popularity during his recovery, and Lesnar used the time off to modify both his diet and his standup game, attempting to improve his biggest weakness.As it turned out, Lesnar couldn’t improve enough to contend with the supremely skilled Overeem, who embraced Lesnar afterward.The undercard at the MGM Grand Garden featured two upsets: Lightweight Nate Diaz won a bloody unanimous decision over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone with superior boxing, and Johny Hendricks stopped welterweight star Jon Fitch with one punch just 12 seconds into their bout.In the co-main event, Diaz (15-7) backed up his tough talk and rude behavior in a fight that had the sellout crowd on its feet as he battered Cerrone, nearly a 3-to-1 favorite in the MGM Grand sportsbook, for most of the three-round standup fight.Diaz, the brother of bad-boy welterweight Nick Diaz, picked apart Cerrone’s defense for most of the fight, leaving Cerrone bloody after his first loss in seven fights since September 2010.Cerrone (17-4) knocked down Diaz at least a half-dozen times with kicks and leg-whips, but Cerrone refused to fight Diaz on the ground, repeatedly allowing Diaz to get up.The unusual strategy showed respect for Diaz’s ground skills, but also minimized the importance of those knockdown shots in the eyes of the judges, who scored the bout 30-27 twice and 29-28 once, all for Diaz.Hendricks (12-1) ascended to elite status with one sneaky left hook that caught Fitch (27-4-1) right on the button, flattening the favored San Jose fighter, whose return from a 10-month absence was stunningly brief. Hendricks, a two-time NCAA champion wrestler at Oklahoma State, completely stunned Fitch, who had lost just one fight since December 2002.Early in the pay-per-view portion of the card, Swedish light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) stopped veteran Vladimir Matyushenko with a perfect left hand midway through the first round.Unbeaten featherweight Jim Hettes got new fans’ attention with a comprehensive thrashing of veteran Nam Phan, repeatedly threatening to finish the fight with strikes and ground work.

Rose Bowl 2012: Which QB Steals the Spotlight, Russell Wilson or Darron Thomas?

The No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers (11-2) and No. 5 Oregon Ducks (11-2) will face off in the 2012 Rose Bowl, which will feature plenty of fireworks from two of the most explosive offenses in the country on Monday.This season, the Badgers are putting up an average of 44.6 points per game. It’s a mark that ranks fifth best in the country.Not to be outdone, the Ducks have managed 46.2 points per game. That’s third best in the nation.You know that points are going to be put up by both of these offenses.Both have relied heavily on their rushing attack this season for offensive success.The combination of LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner for the Ducks has been nearly unstoppable. The two have combined for 2,555 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns.Wisconsin has relied on a single running back, but that guy has been unbelievable. Montee Ball leads the nation with 1,759 rushing yards and 38 total touchdowns this season.We know both teams can run the ball. This game will come down to which can pass the ball.Actually, both can do that too. Which QB would you rather have? Which QB would you rather have? Russell Wilson 72.7% Darron Thomas 27.3% Total votes: 11 Darron Thomas and Russell Wilson may not get the national attention of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but that doesn’t mean they are short on talent.Oregon’s Thomas has thrown for 2,493 yards along with 30 touchdowns to just six interceptions this year.Wilson has been even more efficient. In fact, he leads the country in quarterback rating at 191.6. He has thrown for 2,879 yards, 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year.It’s safe to say this game will be a shootout.On paper, Wisconsin has the superior defense. Realistically, neither one of these offenses are going to be held often in this game.This game is going to come down to the wire. One of these quarterbacks will be forced to carry his team on a game winning drive late in the fourth quarter.Which quarterback would you rather have?I’d have to give the edge to N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson. This year, Wilson has done unbelievable things under center.He has the poise, confidence and athletic ability that you want in a guy with the game on the line.He led one amazing game winning drive this season before it was canceled out by a miracle Hail Mary in the first meeting between Wisconsin and Michigan State.There is something about his demeanor that just makes you think he is going to win.According to the Washington Post, Wilson will also be playing for something much more in the game.Russell’s father Harrison, who passed away last year, always told Wilson how big the Rose Bowl was.“My dad used to always tell me back in the past, ‘Man, there’s got to be some way you get to the Rose Bowl. You’ve got to get there.’ The best part is, I finally got here.”Getting there isn’t enough for Wilson. Now he has to win it.

Stuffed Tomatoes (Pomodoro Farciti al Forno)

  New cookbook ‘Lidia’s Italy in America’ by Lidia Bastianic focuses on Italian home cooking — but from an American perspective. Italians will stuff anything, but when it comes to a nice summer tomato this is the recipe. It is good just out of the oven and delicious at room temperature. Wonderful as an appetizer, vegetable and also a main course, this dish is, popular at Italian family gatherings and festivities and it looks great on the buffet table. Serves 8 Ingredients: 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt 2 bay leaves 3/4 cup Arborio rice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 8 firm-ripe medium tomatoes 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut in small cubes 2 ounce piece ham, cut in small cubes 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano 10 large basil leaves, chopped 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small pot, bring to boil 2 cups water with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the bay leaves. Stir in the rice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until rice is al dente and liquid is almost all gone, about 10 minutes. Scrape into a bowl to cool. 2. Slice the tops off the tomatoes, reserving the tops. Scoop out the inner flesh of the tomatoes with a spoon, leaving a thick shell. As you work, put the flesh in a strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices. Once all of the tomatoes are scooped out, season the insides of the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. 3. Chop the tomato flesh and put in the bowl with the rice. To the bowl, add the mozzarella, ham, 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, the basil, the oregano and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine. 4. Pour reserved tomato juices in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Evenly divide stuffing in tomatoes. Arrange cut-off tomato tops in the baking dish and place a stuffed tomato on each top. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, you may have a little leftover stuffing. If so, roll it into “meatballs” and place in the spaces in the baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle tops with remaining grated cheese. Bake until tomatoes are soft and juicy and stuffing is browned on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Copyright ©2011 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.) Get more Recipes » recipes

Recipes For A Football Party

By Christine HinrichsSince fall, my weekends have been filled with football games and party snacks until Super Bowl Sunday. Even my friends who are not football enthusiasts are willing to watch a game if food and drinks are part of the equation! Football games are a great opportunity to gather with friends, enjoy tasty treats, and yell mercilessly at the television. Hopefully your neighbors are accustomed to the noise!Here are a few of my tips to having the perfect football-party menu. If you are going to be cooking your own food, choose three to four dishes to make the day of the big game. I usually pick an appetizer, a dip, and either a main course or a dessert to serve at my parties. Also, when considering what you want to serve, choose things that have similar ingredients. Then you have consistency in your options and it’s easier and cheaper to shop. And pick a few items that you can buy pre-made to complement what beer cheese dip you’re cooking or to delegate out to your guests. Finally, think about the game you’re watching. Is it an early-afternoon game? Maybe you want to set up a Bloody Mary bar. If it’s an evening game, you might want to do a main course and one appetizer. But jerseys and loud cheering should always be encouraged!Here are a few of my favorite game-day appetizers to help you build the perfect menu for your own party.Beer Cheese DipMakes about 2 cups of cheese dipAdapted from The Joy of CookingIngredients1 cup of good beer (Summit Extra Pale Ale is always a great option)1 tablespoon cornstarch1 tablespoon water8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated3 ounces gruyere, grated or chopped into small pieces1 ounce cream cheese, broken into pieces¼ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce¼ tablespoon Dijon mustardDirectionsHeat the beer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Once the beer is warmed, add the cornstarch mixture and whisk together until thickened, about two minutes.Add the cheeses about a half of a cup at a time, stirring in a figure-8 pattern with a wooden spoon. Once the cheese has melted, add another half of a cup, until you have added all of the cheese. Add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard, stirring to combine. Serve the cheese dip hot with an assortment of bread cubes (Stirato is great bread for cheese dip) and vegetables. If you have a small crockpot, serve the cheese in that to keep it warm. Otherwise, put the dip in a microwave-safe bowl so you can re-heat as necessary.Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets, and reads cookbooks before bed. When not preoccupied with food, she enjoys running the lakes and trails in the Twin Cities and helps rescue stray animals from local shelters. Read about her food adventures at

UFC 141 Results: 4 Questions We Still Have About Alistair Overeem

Alistair Overeem just made big waves in the world of MMA, taking out Brock Lesnar in the first round and becoming the No. 1 contender in the UFC’s heavyweight division.It was a dominant performance in which he made quick work of Lesnar, landing strikes at will from the opening bell and finishing it off with a kick to the liver, followed by punches.Overeem’s performance tonight confirmed that he deserves to be talked about as one of the best heavyweights on the planet, but the fight didn’t answer all of the questions we have about Alistair.Here’s five questions we still have about Alistair Overeem: Can he a stuff the takedowns of a high-level wrestler?Yes, Overeem stopped one takedown from Lesnar, but it was a halfhearted single leg. For whatever reason, we didn’t see Brock explode forward and try to double leg Overeem and so we still don’t know how ‘Reem would react to that.It will likely be a while before we see this question answered, as there are not a lot of elite wrestlers at the top of the heavyweight division. Can he take a punch?Since moving to the heavyweight division, we have not seen anyone test Overeem’s chin.When he was fighting at light heavyweight, we saw him knocked out on multiple occasions, however.It’s rare that someone’s chin gets better over time, but it’s still curious to see how good a punch Overeem can take and how would react to getting tagged with a big shot. Has his cardio improved?Though cardio seems a useless commodity in the heavyweight division these days, what with so many of the fights ending early, it would still be interesting to see where Overeem’s cardio is at.In his fight with Fabricio Werdum earlier this year, Overeem’s cardio looked sub par, as he was noticeable winded in a fight that was far from grueling.Whether or not he’ll ever need his cardio remains to be seen, but with fighters like Cain Velasquez looming in the background, it is a possibility. Is his striking as good as it’s made out to be?There’s no doubt that Overeem is a fantastic striker, but is he as good as people say?Since moving to the heavyweight division, we have not seen Overeem face off against an elite MMA striker.He has done very well against kick-boxers in K-1, but striking in an MMA fight is different because there are so many more factors to be conscious of.For instance, when Overeem fought Werdum, he was worried about the fight going to the ground and it showed, as Werdum was able to land solid punches on several occasions.It will be interesting to see how Overeem fairs against a fellow elite striker, UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos, later this year.Andrew Barr is a Featured Columnist for For updates on what’s happening in the world of MMA, follow him on Twitter @AndrewBarr8.

Lesnar, Overeem look to decide who’s UFC No. 1 heavyweight contender

TORONTO – UFC 141 is a coming out party for two big men, but for different reasons. Former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returns from another layoff due to diverticulitis, an intestinal disease that has twice forced him to put mixed martial arts on the backburner. Opponent Alistair Overeem makes his UFC debut in a career that has seen him excel just about everywhere else. The winner of the Dec. 30 main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena moves to the front of the contenders’ line to face newly crowned champion Junior Dos Santos. “It’s going to be a huge thing for me. Finally in the UFC, against Brock,” Overeem told The Canadian Press. “An excellent opponent for me. The best wrestler (Lesnar) versus the best striker. You’ve got two of the biggest heavyweights out there. “I’m looking forward to it and I think a lot of fans (are) too.” Added Lesnar: “I’m anxious. Ready to get in and get after it.” Overeem (35-11-1) is a slight favourite to beat Lesnar (5-2), according to bookmakers. The return of Lesnar, who has not fought since losing his title to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 in October 2010, and the arrival of Overeem, a star in Pride, Strikeforce and K-1, is welcome news for the UFC. Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, the organization’s biggest pay-per-view draw, is on the shelf after knee reconstruction surgery. Middleweight title-holder Anderson Silva is also injured and, at 37, is running out of time. Lesnar been a draw from Day 1 in the UFC. And the chiselled Overeem will be a welcome addition to the always popular heavyweight division if he lives up to past billing. But both fighters arrive with baggage. For Lesnar, it’s his medical chart. “We’ve been getting just nailed with these diverticulitis questions,” confided a handler. For Overeem, confusion over mandated drug tests by the Nevada State Athletic Commission have dominated recent headlines. Like Lesnar, the Dutch fighter was slated to take a pre-fight test. But things got complicated when Overeem left the U.S. during his training camp to visit his ailing mother in the Netherlands. Overeem eventually got a licence to fight in Nevada but the drama — and his change in body type over the years — has had people talking. “He’s been fielding nothing but steroid questions all day,” said one of his handlers. The 31-year-old Dutchman takes the complications outside the cage in stride. “For me, it’s all about attitude. I see myself as a very fortunate person being able to have made my sport, my hobby, my work. So yeah life is not perfect, there are going to be issues. There’s going to be stuff that you need to do. And I like my job, so I just put it under the same banner — this is part of the job. Chin up … and get moving.” The six-foot-five Overeem used to fight at 205 pounds as a light-heavyweight, walking around at 215-220 pounds. Now he is right at the edge of the 265-pound heavyweight limit. He attributes the weight increase to strength and conditioning training and diet. The six-foot-three 265-pound Lesnar, a former NCAA wrestling champion, was due to face Dos Santos in June at UFC 131 in Vancouver after their stint as rival coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter.” But his health issues took centre stage again. The good news is he says he made the most of the time away. “I spent some good quality time with the family, got rejuvenated. I’m ready to get back to the nitty-gritty,” said the 34-year-old Lesnar. And he says he feels ready, even if fighting over the holidays is something he hopes to avoid in the future. “I take my hat off to my family and everybody that has to cater around my schedule,” said Lesnar. “My family’s got my back. “We manage, we get through it, and have a good Christmas and give a good Christmas ass-whupping down in Las Vegas.” No stranger to New Year’s fights, Overeem went 5-0 in late December in Pride and K-1. Overeem has not fought since a unanimous decision over Fabricio Werdum in Strikeforce in June. He subsequently parted ways with Strikeforce, which is owned by the UFC, over timing of his next fight, citing a rib injury. Overeem is unbeaten in 11 fights, a stretch dating back to a September 2007 loss in K-1 to Sergei Kharitonov.

Torrie Wilson Photos: Hottest Pics of Alex Rodriguez’ Playboy Bombshell

New York Yankees superstar slugger Alex Rodriguez may have landed him the bombshell of the century in former WWE Diva and Playboy centerfold Torrie Wilson. According to NY Daily News’ Bill Hutchinson, For the third time this month, A-Rod has been spotted with blond bombshell Torrie Wilson, this time in her hometown of Boise, Idaho, over the Christmas weekend… Rodriguez and Wilson, both 36, born three days apart in 1975, were photographed earlier this month riding bicycles in Miami. Right before Christmas, they were spotted in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, vacationing with actor George Clooney and his new squeeze Stacey Keibler, also an ex-World Wrestling Entertainment star and Wilson’s friend.Lucky guy.Lucky girl, too. Could this be the most spectacular couple ever assembled?Not unless Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen split.But hey, A-Rod is used to playing second fiddle to Derek Jeter and Wilson was used to playing second fiddle to the likes of Trish Stratus, Sable and Stacy Keibler in her sports-entertainment universe. Still, these are two of the most recognizable and talented performers of their respective professions. If these two are cuddling and canoodling, good for them—you certainly have my blessing. We’re all familiar with A-Rod, who can’t escape the spotlight.Yet this is Wilson’s renaissance. So for those who have forgotten just how special and glorious she is, here’s a quick reminder. 

As league comes to pass, Vikings become airsick

It’s been 541 minutes, 9 seconds … and 9/14ths of one incredibly lousy season since the Vikings last intercepted a pass."Ooohwee," said cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has been sidelined by injuries for all but a handful of those minutes in one game.Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, no team had gone nine consecutive games without an interception until the Vikings reached that point after Sunday’s 42-20 loss to the Saints."Man!" said Winfield, shaking his head on that one.Wait, ‘Toine. There’s more.Since safety Jamarca Sanford picked off Cardinals backup quarterback Richard Bartel with 1:09 left in Week 5, the Vikings pass defense has given up 2,447 yards and 25 touchdowns on 73.6 percent passing (243-for-330)."Wow," said Winfield, mentally dropping to one knee with that verbal body blow.And here comes the knockout number:110.8.That’s the NFL record for the highest passer rating ever allowed for a season. It was set by the 2008 Lions en route to the league’s only 0-16 season. It also happens to be the exact number for the combined passer rating against this year’s 2-12 Vikings."Well," said Winfield, "it’s just been that kind of season. A season to forget, for sure."The staggering numbers help explain why it appears defensive coordinator Fred Pagac is a virtual lock to be replaced. It also explains why coach Leslie Frazier is open to anything from tweaking to overhauling his defensive personnel and schematics.Frazier, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to a run-first offense in a pass-first league. And all indications are that will continue with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave building a more conservative, ball-control attack around Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the league, if not a generation.But as good as Peterson is, can it really work in today’s game?If anyone should know the value of having to throw the ball a lot and very well to keep up and succeed in today’s game, it’s the Vikings.They’ve faced five of the 11 top-ranked quarterbacks a combined seven times this season. They’re 0-7 and have been outscored 228-136. That’s an average spanking of 32.6-19.4.The Vikings also have faced the top two ranked quarterbacks — MVP co-front-runners Aaron Rod- gers and Drew Brees — a combined three times. They’ve been outscored by an average score of 40-18 while Rodgers and Brees have completed 79 of 100 passes (79 percent) for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns with, of course, no interceptions.Granted, the Vikings defense is a depleted disaster right now. But even if the Vikings had a respectable defense, doesn’t Frazier hesitate when it comes to building an offense around the running game when he looks across the field and sees highly-successful, pass-first offenses in places such as Green Bay (13-1), New Orleans (11-3) and Detroit (9-5)?"I really don’t," Frazier said. "I know we have the best running back in the game, and we’ll get to the point where we’ll be a team that can compete with New Orleans and Green Bay better than we have this season."Very, very happy that we have Adrian Peterson as our running back and that we can build our offense around Adrian. It’s going to be good for our team, good for our defense, offense, our special teams, the fact that we have Adrian as our guy, and it should help our quarterback."There’s no disputing that Peterson is good for any team and any quarterback. And, yes, a run-first team that plays great defense can be successful, as evidenced by how the 49ers (11-3) and Texans (10-4) have clinched their divisions this season.But even if the Vikings stay committed to a run-first, stop-the-run mentality, they mustn’t let it consume them to the point where they ignore their receiving corps again. This is still a passing league. And in this aerial circus, the Vikings are stuck sweeping up after the elephants in part because they rank 28th in passing and, of course, 30th in defending the pass.Mark Craig •

Boston’s First Night 2011 celebrations to bring in the new year

By Derek J. Anderson, Globe Correspondent As anticipation builds for 2012’s midnight arrival, tens of thousands were preparing to ring in the new year at Boston’s 36th Annual First Night celebration today.The festivities are a collaboration between Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city officials, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and the First Night organization. Highlights this year include a performance from soul singer Mavis Staples, two firework shows, and a festival of International Short Films. The unseasonably warm weather is likely to add to the turnout, organizers said.“It’s expected to be about 40 degrees at midnight on Copley Square,” said Joyce Linehan, director of media relations for First night. “I, for one, am thrilled about it.” Last year the temperature hit 60 degrees at the stroke of midnight. The warm weather may be hard on the ice sculptures on Boston Common and Copley Square, but it draws more people outside for the festivities, Linehan said. The National Weather Service. Showers predicted a chance of showers to occur today before 7 p.m., but skies are expected to clear as night approaches, said the National Weather Service. A sunny New Year’s Day, is around the corner, however, with a high of 49 degrees expected.“Boston’s First Night celebration is one of our city’s greatest traditions. It’s a fun event for families and an opportunity to gather with friends and neighbors to celebrate our diverse cultures and ring in the new year,” Menino said earlier this week in a statement. “I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of all the city has to offer.”As the events progress through the day and into the night, the Boston Transportation Department highly advises attendees to utilize public transportation. The MBTA will be free after 8 p.m. and run extended hours until 2 a.m. “Parking and traffic restrictions will be implemented in Downtown Boston,” according to a city traffic advisory for the First Night events. Detours will also be in place due to the fireworks and Metro Boston Grand Procession on Boylston Street, from Dalton Street to Charles Street and will be closed to traffic from 4 to 8 p.m., said the advisory. Charles Street, from Boylston to Beacon Streets, will be closed from 5 to 8 p.m. as well. Menino held a public safety press conference yesterday to provide residents and attendees of the celebrations with tips on how to stay safe and what to expect throughout the night. City officials said that traffic delays should be expected in certain areas of the city, public drinking will not be tolerated, and not to drink and drive.First Night, the “oldest and largest New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts in North America,” is named after looking forward to the future, said the First Night organization in a release. Going onto its 36th year, First Night was created by artists and community activists “seeking to create an alternative, arts-oriented event for New Year’s Eve,” said the organization. The Grand Procession, a parade usually lead by Menino and the First Night Executive Director Geri Guardino, will start at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Hynes Convention Center, traveling down Boylston Street and ending at Beacon and Charles Streets, said the First Night organization. About 1,000 people in 45 various groups are expected to march in the Procession today, they said. Five ice sculptures will also be on display, three in the Common and two in Copley Square, according to the First Night organization. Each sculpture, weighing approximately 30 to 45 tons, will be illuminated tonight, they said. Two fireworks shows will also take place, one in the Common starting at 6:45 p.m. “to allow for young families to enjoy the First Night activities,” said the mayor’s office. The second show will be the midnight showing over Boston Harbor, where good viewing spots include the Waterfront from South Boston to Charlestown and parts of East Boston, said the First Night organization. Admission to First Night indoor events is by button, an $18-cost that can be purchased on-line or at multiple supermarkets and convenience stores listed on the First Night organization’s website. Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Derek J. Anderson can be reached at .

Cyprus President optimistic about 2012

FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE • PRESIDENT Christofias has called on Turkey to work in a tangible way towards the solution of the Cyprus problem, reiterating that Cyprus is fully ready for a proper solution of the Cyprus issue. Addressing the people of Cyprus on the occasion of the advent of the New Year, President Christofias expresses the view that Cyprus will manage to address the problems and boost development in 2012. The President describes the world financial crisis as a deep and a systemic one, with an adverse impact on Cyprus and its economy. He adds that under these conditions, Cyprus adopted new measures to restrain public expenditures, increase state revenues, bolster development, support the welfare state and resolve structural problems that have accumulated for decades. The Government