Bill Cosby sexual assault charges 'politically motivated

Bill Cosby's defence lawyer has called the sexual assault charges brought against the comedian "politically motivated".

Monique Pressley told ABC's Good Morning America that the prosecutor in the case is not seeking justice, but making good on a campaign promise.

Over 50 women have accused Mr Cosby of plying them with drugs and alcohol and then sexually assaulting them.

On Wednesday, he was charged criminally for the first time in Pennsylvania.

Mr Cosby has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, saying the sex with the women was consensual.

The accusations span decades, and most of the cases cannot be tried in court because too much time has passed.

In the Pennsylvania case, Mr Cosby is charged with sexually assaulting Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004 at his home near Philadelphia. The charges were filed one day before the legal deadline.

Prosecutor Kevin Steele was elected in November. He campaigned against former prosecutor Bruce Castor who had declined to bring charges against Mr Cosby when Ms Constand first reported the assault in 2005.

That decision became a major issue in the campaign and the subject of advertisements. However Mr Steele never said publicly how he would handle the case.

On Wednesday, Mr Steele said his office had reopened the Constand case after "new information came to light".

After Mr Castor declined to charge Mr Cosby in 2005, Ms Constand sued Mr Cosby and settled the case out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Testimony in that civil case was made public in 2015, much of it unflattering to Mr Cosby.

Mr Cosby admitted in court that he had given women sedatives over the years, but he maintained that they had taken the drugs willingly.

A successful actor and comedian for decades, Mr Cosby shot to stardom in the 1980s with the sitcom The Cosby Show.

Since many of his accusers began to go public in early 2014, media companies and other institutions have sought to distance themselves from the once-beloved celebrity.

Source: bbc.com

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New Year: Celebrations mark start of 2016

Countries around the world are marking the New Year, with festivities under way in the US and Canada.

In New York, a million people converged on Times Square, amid tight security, to watch the famous ball descend.

In Brazil, crowds packed Rio's de Janeiro's famous Copacabana beach to watch a spectacular firework display.

Earlier, European cities ushered in 2016 - despite heightened security measures in some countries.

In Japan, people released balloons by Tokyo Tower, while South Koreans celebrated with traditional bell-ringing.

Revellers in Australia and New Zealand were among the first to welcome 2016.

Crowds counted down at Auckland's Sky Tower in New Zealand, with a laser show and fireworks display. Fireworks also lit up Sydney harbour in Australia.

People in Toronto flocked to Nathan Phillips Square

Copacabana beach in Rio's de Janeiro was packed with revellers

Celebrations were held in Paris despite the terror attacks of 2015

Celebrations in Berlin went ahead as police warned of a terror attack in Munich

In London, more than 100,000 people watched the fireworks display by the River Thames with thousands of extra police officers on duty.

In the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, the traditional Hogmanay party received a New Year message from British astronaut Tim Peake who was broadcasting live from the International Space Station.

In Berlin, fireworks were held at the Brandenburg Gate, with one million people estimated to have attended the countdown. The celebrations took place as police in Munich warned of a planned terror attack and asked people to avoid crowds.

In Paris, the traditional fireworks display was cancelled to be replaced by a five-minute video performance at the Arc de Triomphe just before midnight. The screening was relayed on screens along the Champs-Elysees.

The city's mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said the video was intended to send "the world the message that Paris is standing, proud of its lifestyle and living together''.

Earlier, President Hollande in a New Year's Eve address to the nation said that his country "has not finished with terrorism yet", six weeks after gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris.

In one of the more innovative celebrations, four divers equipped with musical instruments and breathing apparatus performed an underwater "concert" in a fish tank in Yantai, east China.

Festivities went ahead in Dubai despite a fire at the city's Address Hotel. A fireworks display was held near the Burj Khalifa skyscraper.

Egypt celebrated with fireworks staged in front of the pyramids near Cairo, as the government works to revive its tourist industry.

The pyramids were illuminated ahead of celebrations in Giza, near Cairo

Revellers in Japan released balloons in front of Tokyo Tower

Auckland marked New Year with fireworks at the Sky Tower

A special New Year artwork in Amritsar, India

Russia - the first major European city to welcome 2016 - held a fireworks display over Red Square in Moscow.

Despite security fears across the continent, many major public events are going ahead, though with heightened security restrictions.

Only 25,000 people in Madrid were allowed into the Puerta del Sol square.

Over in Sierra Leone, the declared end of Ebola was marked by a return to New Year festivities, after Freetown, the capital, was left deserted a year ago due to the disease's outbreak.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

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Protesters demand prosecutor in Tamir Rice case step down

CLEVELAND –  Protesters upset by a decision not to indict two white police officers in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who had a pellet gun, marched to the home of the prosecutor Friday and repeated calls for him to resign.

More than 100 people stood outside the home of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty during the peaceful protest, which also included demands for a federal investigation into the shooting.

A march leader told protesters not to vandalize McGinty's home, which is in a neighborhood on the west side of Cleveland. Police officers accompanied the marchers and stood in McGinty's driveway but did not intervene.

The protesters chanted, "New year, no more!" and "McGinty has got to go!"

Through a spokesman, McGinty declined to comment.

Protesters have called for McGinty's resignation since he announced Monday that the officers would not face criminal charges in Tamir's death. But criticism of him dates back months as frustration grew over the length of time it took to reach a decision concerning the November 2014 shooting.

Joseph Frolik, director of communications and public policy at the prosecutor's office, called Tamir's death "clearly a monumental tragedy caused by a series of mistakes by the Cleveland Police Department."

"But we would hope that people will also respect the decision made (by) another group of citizens — the members of the grand jury," Frolik said in a statement. "They personally see, hear and question witnesses, and they reach a decision based on their oath. If you don't trust the grand jury, you don't trust your neighbors."

Dozens of marchers lay down on the sidewalk running past McGinty's house for four minutes, the time they say it took medical responders to reach Tamir after he was shot outside a recreation center.

In announcing that charges would not be brought, McGinty said it was "indisputable" that Tamir was drawing the pistol from his waistband when he was gunned down.

The prosecutor said Tamir was trying to either hand the pellet gun over to police or show them it was not real, but the officer who shot him, Timothy Loehmann, and his partner, Frank Garmback, had no way of knowing that.

Tamir was shot by Loehmann within two seconds of the officers' police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy.

McGinty said police radio personnel contributed to the tragedy by failing to pass along the "all-important fact" that a 911 caller said the gunman was probably a juvenile and the gun probably was not real.

On Thursday, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams said that as protests continue, they plan to balance public safety with protesters' First Amendment rights.

Source: foxnews.com

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Drop in oil prices rocks producer states, triggers historic tax hike plan in Alaska

The plunge in oil prices has given a needed break to drivers this holiday season, but it’s causing some real pain in states that rely on oil revenue to fuel their economies and shore up their budgets.

Perhaps nowhere is the impact more pronounced than in Alaska, where Gov. Bill Walker is proposing a raft of new taxes, including the first personal income tax in over three decades, along with budget cuts to offset the damage from the price drop for the oil-reliant state.

“This is a major paradigm shift in how the state of Alaska conducts business,” Walker said in a statement as he announced the plan in December. “That’s because we cannot continue with business as usual and live solely off of our natural resource revenues.”

The price of Brent crude in the United States has fallen below $40 a barrel – more than $30 lower than in May of 2015.

Alaska is a state so reliant on, and accustomed to, big oil revenue that residents share in the profits. In a sign of changing times, Walker’s plan would redirect some of that money to the government itself, making for smaller dividend checks for residents.  

According to the Walker administration, the income tax component of the New Sustainable Alaska Plan could generate up to $200 million in revenue a year. Under the plan, the average Alaskan family would pay a rate of roughly 1 percent of their gross income. This would coincide with cuts for everything from obesity-focused education programs to grants for emergency communication.

“Never before has the state faced a deficit so large that we’re draining more than $9 million from savings every day,” Walker said in a statement. “Fortunately those who came before us had the wisdom to set aside money for a rainy day. Well, it’s raining now.”

Given the financial straits of the government, Walker, an independent, has garnered bipartisan support from lawmakers – but still faces reluctance on pursuing an income tax. 

In a statement, House Operating Budget Chairman Mark Neuman, a Republican, said Walker “deserves credit for proposing some difficult options for filling our income gap.” Still, he said the plan could use more budget cuts. House Capital Budget Chairman Steve Thompson, also a Republican, echoed that critique and said he doesn’t want residents to pay an income tax “unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Under the plan, taxes on the oil and other industries also would increase, as would alcohol and tobacco taxes. 

Alaska is in a more vulnerable position than a big oil state like Texas, which enjoys a more diverse economy.

Chris Bryan, a spokesman for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, told Fox News that while the state is projecting lower oil-and-gas tax revenue, “the state’s diverse economy coupled with a large beginning balance and a conservative budget from the 2015 Texas Legislature should allow the state to absorb this reduction in projected revenues.” He said the government is still predicting economic growth in Texas north of 2 percent for fiscal 2016 and 2017.

Yet in North Dakota, where an oil and gas revolution has transformed the state, the drop in prices also threatens to do significant damage.

A recent Moody’s Analytics study reportedly said the state could be nearing a “full-blown recession,” citing the $27 oil price in North Dakota, the lowest since 2008.

According to a Watchdog.org report, North Dakota’s general fund tax revenue was about $152 million, or 8.9 percent, less than forecasted by lawmakers.

“It doesn’t seem like the revenues are going to rebound in the very near term,” state Sen. Gary Lee, a Republican, told Watchdog.org.

But according to Sheila Peterson, director of the Fiscal Management Division of North Dakota’s Office of Management and Budget, the falling oil prices are not crunching the budget as much as they are in Alaska. 

“The only direct oil revenue that goes into our general fund is about $300 million out of a $6 billion budget,” Peterson told Fox News. “We still expect to get the $300 million from direct oil taxes.”

According to North Dakota’s OMB, the oil tax composes only 5 percent of North Dakota’s general fund revenue.

North Dakota runs on a 24-month budget, which will be re-evaluated for updated revenue forecasts by mid-to-late January 2016.

“Although revenues are indeed running below forecast right now, it’s not as though we’ve run out of money,” Peterson said. “Depending on what the next forecast shows, we’ll decide if we need to take action, and if so, what those actions will be.”

Source: foxnews.com

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Obama to meet Monday with AG Lynch about 'options' to tighten gun laws

President Obama said on Friday he’ll meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch next week to discuss how to use White House powers to reduce gun violence, lamenting that Congress has “done nothing” and declaring he has “unfinished business.”

“I get too many letters from parents and teachers and kids to sit around and do nothing,” said Obama, who will meet with Lynch on Monday, after he returns from his Hawaii family vacation.

Obama directed his White House team a few months ago to explore ways he could reduce gun violence. And he is now expected to focus on using executive actions to tighten regulations on small-scale gun sellers, according to Politico.

Such a change would result in more sellers having to conduct background checks but wouldn’t completely close the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows for firearm purchases at such venues without a check.

Obama on Friday pointed out his new efforts follow the third anniversary of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, in Newtown, Conn., in which a deranged gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

However, the Obama-driven effort in the aftermath of the massacre failed to get enough support for passage from Senate Democrats and Republicans.

“All across America, survivors of gun violence and those who lost a child, a parent, a spouse to gun violence are forced to mark such awful anniversaries every single day,” Obama said Friday. “Yet Congress still hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families.”  

The president’s renewed efforts also follow a recent flurry of gun violence including a June 2015 incident in which nine people were shot inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, S.C., and a Muslim husband-wife couple last month fatally shooting 14 people during a terror attack at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif.

Politico reported Obama was trying to make changes before his presidency ends in January 2017 and before the 2016 White House race further dominates the news and Americans’ attention.

The president also reportedly plans to tighten the definition of being “engaged in the business” of selling guns and impose tighter rules for reporting guns that get lost or stolen on their way to a buyer.

"President Obama failed to pass his anti-gun agenda though congress because the majority of Americans oppose more gun-control. Now he is doing what he always does when he doesn't get his way, which is defy the will of the people and issue an executive order," said NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker.

"This is nothing more than a political stunt to appease anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg and will do nothing to increase public safety. The plain truth is that President Obama's gun-control agenda will only make it harder for law-aiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to self-protection. It will not stop criminals."

Existing law states those who sell guns with the “principal objective of livelihood and profit” have to get a dealer’s license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That means they also have to conduct a background check on buyers no matter where they sell, including online or at a gun show.

In 2014, the ATF proposed that federal officials be notified about lost firearms, but the gun industry successfully argued that voluntary reporting was sufficient.

Source: foxnews.com

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Chelsea earn first win under Guus Hiddink's second spell

Chelsea secured their first victory in Guus Hiddink's second spell as boss to move six points clear of relegation with a deserved win at Crystal Palace.

Oscar put the Blues ahead against the run of play, tapping home after being put through by Diego Costa.

Once they scored Chelsea dominated, deservedly doubling their advantage with a spectacular Willian strike.

Costa sealed the win with a tap-in for a goal his performance deserved after Palace failed to clear Willian's shot.

Interim boss Hiddink, who guided Chelsea to third in the Premier League, a Champions League semi-final and the FA Cup in his first spell at the club, remains unbeaten since taking over from Jose Mourinho last month.

The Blues' four-match run without defeat is their longest this season and moves last year's champions to 14th in the league, still 12 points adrift of a Champions League spot.

Costa leads by example

John Mikel Obi heatmap

John Mikel Obi was superb for Chelsea and this heatmap shows the midfielder dominated the area in front of his own defence

Chelsea's away form in the first half of the season has been dire, with just six points collected on their travels. Only bottom two clubs Aston Villa and Sunderland have fared worse.

In beating seventh-placed Palace for their first away win since August, the Blues made a convincing case that the second half of the season might be more fruitful.

Hiddink said he needed leaders to pull the club out of relegation trouble and in Costa the Dutchman had a player in that mould, driving his team forward at Selhurst Park and playing a part in all three goals.

Like the rest of the Blues squad during this season's dreadful title defence, the Spaniard - who had missed the goalless draw at Manchester United because of suspension - has been below par, but he gave one of his best displays of the campaign.

John Mikel Obi also shone, providing much-needed ballast to the Chelsea midfield.

Injury worry for Blues

The one disappointment for Hiddink was the injury to Eden Hazard, which ended the Belgian's match after just 15 minutes.

Before the match Hiddink had said last year's player of the season was "back in shape" after suffering a hip injury against Leicester and sustaining a knock in Monday's draw at Manchester United.

Ultimately, Chelsea did not need Hazard against Palace with the impressive forward trio of Costa, Willian and Oscar creating plenty in his absence.

Palace struggling in front of goal

It was Palace's first defeat in seven matches and they clearly missed key players, although Eagles boss Alan Pardew admitted that even with the likes of suspended Yohan Cabaye in the team his men would have struggled against Chelsea in such form.

The hosts, though, are a far less formidable side without the creativity of top scorer Cabaye in midfield, the pace of Yannick Bolasie on the flanks and Connor Wickham up front.

Palace are now without a win or a goal in their past three games, with Bolasie and Wickham not having played since the goalless Boxing Day draw against Bournemouth.

However, Pardew's side had their chances with Wilfried Zaha - making his 200th appearance for the club - shooting wide with the score goalless and scuffing another opportunity just before Willian scored.

What the managers said

Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink: "Do not go over the top, it is the first win after a worrying period with two draws so the team desperately needed the win and it was convincing.

"Everyone knows we have a lot of quality in our team, but sometimes champions have a tendency to be complacent and it can be difficult to get back and then wonder why we were champions.

"There is a long way to go, mathematically the possibility of Champions League is still there. The league is so strong but as long as we play like we did today I will be happy."

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew: "We were not at our strongest, we were missing key players and could not play our natural game.

"We will be looking at the market in case something comes through. It is important we kick into gear in the second half of the season. Things did not go our way and we have to respond and I have every confidence in this group that we will be in and around the top 10."

The stats you need to know

  • This is Chelsea's first away victory in their last eight Premier League away matches (losing four and drawing three) and the first since August when they beat West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns.
  • Crystal Palace have enjoyed just two wins in their last seven home league games (drawing two and losing three).
  • Oscar has netted two in his last four in all competitions for Chelsea after scoring just one in the 14 before that.
  • Diego Costa's assist was his first in his last 20 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea.
  • Seven of Willian's eight goals for Chelsea this season in all competitions have come from outside the box.
  • Costa has had a hand in four goals in his last two league games (three goals, one assist), the same total he managed in his previous 14 league appearances this season.
  • Chelsea registered their biggest league win in almost a year, since beating Swansea 5-0 on January 17th 2015.

Source: bbc.com

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Iran: Saudis face 'divine revenge' for executing al-Nimr

Saudi Arabia will face "divine revenge" for its execution of a prominent Shia cleric, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned.

Ayatollah Khamenei described Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a "martyr" who acted peacefully.

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police.

Several hundred people gathered outside the building again on Sunday afternoon.

The authorities have changed the name of the street on which the Saudi embassy stands, naming it after the executed Sheikh Nimr, one of 47 people executed for terrorism offences on Saturday.

But Ayatollah Khamenei said the cleric had been executed for his opposition to Saudi Arabia's Sunni rulers.

"This oppressed scholar had neither invited people to armed movement, nor was involved in covert plots," the ayatollah tweeted.

"The only act of #SheikhNimr was outspoken criticism," he added, saying the "unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians".

Sheikh Nimr had been a figurehead in the anti-government protests that erupted in the wake of the Arab Spring up to his arrest in 2012.

Fury in Iranian press, by BBC Monitoring

Newspapers in Iran have reacted with anger to the killing of the Shia cleric, warning it could bring down the Saudi ruling family but Saudi papers insist the authorities have the right to mete out punishment to those who do not obey the rules.

The killing "has brought the weak foundations of the bloodthirsty government of Saudi Arabia closer to collapse", says Iran's hard-line Vatan-e Emruz.

The authorities in Riyadh must now accept that the supporters of the cleric in the region "will take revenge", warns conservative Hemayat.

But reformist Sharq fears the "irresponsible" act could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the region and warns Tehran not to get drawn into Riyadh's "dangerous game".

In Saudi Arabia, Al-Riyadh is adamant that "the homeland's security, unity and prestige are non-negotiable" and no "incitement of harm or sedition" should be tolerated irrespective of the culprit's affiliations.

Finally, Al-Jazirah, says the "firm, strong verdict" has made the country "safer and more stable".


Iran - Saudi Arabia's main regional rival - has led condemnation among Shia communities over the execution.

The foreign ministry in Tehran said the Sunni kingdom would pay a high price for its action, and it summoned the Saudi charge d'affaires in Tehran in protest.

Some of the protesters at the Saudi embassy in Tehran hurled petrol bombs and rocks. Forty people have been arrested, officials said.

There have also been demonstrations in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, where Shia Muslims complain of marginalisation, as well as in Iraq, Bahrain and several other countries.

The top Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani described the execution as an "unjust aggression".

The leader of Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, launched his sharpest attack yet on the Saudi ruling family, accusing them of seeking to ignite a civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims across the world.

He said the blood of Sheikh Nimr would "plague the Al Saud [family] until the Day of Resurrection", prompting cries of "Death to the Al Saud!" among an audience watching his address.

For its part, Saudi Arabia complained to the Iranian envoy in Riyadh about what it called "blatant interference" in its internal affairs.

Clashes between protesters and police were also reported for a second day in Indian-administered Kashmir and in Bahrain, where a Shia majority have complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni royal family.

The execution has worsened long-running tensions between the two Middle Eastern nations, which support opposite sides in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts.

The US and UN have both called for restraint.

In a statement after the executions, US state spokesman John Kirby appealed to Saudi Arabia's government to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings.

Mr Kirby also urged the Saudi government to permit peaceful expression of dissent and, along with other leaders in the region, to redouble efforts to reduce regional tensions.

Who was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr?

  • In his 50s when he was executed, he has been a persistent critic of Saudi Arabia's Sunni royal family
  • Arrested several times over the past decade, alleging he was beaten by Saudi secret police during one detention
  • Met US officials in 2008, Wikileaks revealed, seeking to distance himself from anti-American and pro-Iranian statements
  • Said to have a particularly strong following among Saudi Shia youth

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Figurehead Shia cleric

Most of the 47 executed by Saudi Arabia were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks last decade.

Saudi Arabia carried out more than 150 executions last year, the highest figure recorded by human rights groups for 20 years.

Source: bbc.com

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Islamic State video 'shows killing of five men it says spied for UK'

Islamic State militants have released a video, featuring a man and young boy speaking with British accents, purportedly showing the killing of five men who it says were spying for the UK.

In the 10-minute film, the man threatens attacks in the UK and says this is a message for David Cameron.

A young boy wearing military fatigues also appears, talking about killing "unbelievers".

The propaganda video has not been independently verified.

IS has repeatedly used children in its videos.

'Extraordinary duress'

In the new video, the masked jihadi militant, who is holding a gun, mocks Mr Cameron for daring to "challenge the might" of the extremist group before he makes a threat to British people to "invade your land".

The five men, wearing jumpsuits, are seen purportedly being shot dead in a desert location after making what is claimed to be their confessions.

But BBC World Service Middle East editor Alan Johnston says they appear to be "speaking under the most extraordinary duress" and "may be entirely innocent".

One of the men says he had been asked to provide information about the location of IS militants, including two Britons, apparently to help target them with air strikes, he added.

Some of the five men say that they are from Raqqa in Syria while another says he is from Benghazi, Libya, but none that they are from the UK.

After the apparent killings, the young boy, who seems to be aged around six or seven years old, is seen pointing into the distance.

Our correspondent says the release of the video comes in the aftermath of a "major military setback for IS," after it recently lost control of much of the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

He adds: "It's possible this is aimed at distracting attention from that defeat - an effort to shock watching Westerners and shift their focus."

Source: bbc.com

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Donald Trump defends Muslim ban call after al-Shabab film

Donald Trump has again defended his call for a ban on Muslims entering the US after it was used in a propaganda video by Somali militant group al-Shabab.

The Republican presidential hopeful said people had praised his courage in truthfully highlighting a "problem" that others preferred to ignore.

"Now people are getting involved" in the issue, he told CBS News.

Mr Trump's call, after a shooting in the US, has been widely condemned.

Other Republicans, the White House, and the British Prime Minister David Cameron were highly critical of the comments, which followed the San Bernardino massacre, in which 14 people died.

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Mr Trump's rhetoric was turning him into the "best recruiter" for the Islamic State militant group.

A propaganda video by Al-Shabab, al-Qaeda's Somali affiliate, used a clip of Mr Trump repeating his call at a campaign rally last month.

During an appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation programme, to be shown on Sunday, Mr Trump was questioned over how his comments had been framed by al-Shabab as an incentive for Muslims to join holy war.

"Look, there's a problem," he said. "I bring it up. Other people have called and say you have guts to bring it up because frankly it's true and nobody wants to get involved.

"People that are on different persuasions than me right now are saying, you know, maybe Trump isn't wrong. We want to examine it."

The video, released by al-Shabab's media wing, also urges African-Americans to convert to Islam and take part in holy war. It says racism, police brutality and anti-Muslim sentiment are rife in the US.

In recent years, several Somali-Americans from Minnesota have gone to fight for al-Shabab in Somalia.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government and impose a strict version of Sharia (Islamic law), has carried out attacks in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Last month's campaign statement from Mr Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims" entering the US until the authorities could "figure out what is going on".

The call was issued after a deadly gun attack in San Bernardino, California, by a husband and wife who are thought to have been radicalised.

Source: bbc.com

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I'm Poised To Organise A Credible Election Come Nov. 7– Says EC Boss Charlotte Osei

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission has advised Ghanaians to “put Ghana first” in everything they do in 2016, which is an election year.

Mrs Charlotte Osei admonished Ghanaians to safeguard the peace and stability Ghana is enjoying now, and must not allow politics to derail it.

“We have only one country - Ghana - and in everything we do we must put Ghana first,” Mrs Osei, who is the first woman electoral commissioner in Ghana, told sit-in host Nana Aba Anamoah on the Morning Starr.

She emphasised her outfit is poised to organise a credible election come November 7 as incumbent President John Mahama go head to head with his main contender and opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo once again.

Mahama is eyeing a second term, having beaten the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer in the 2012 general elections.

Mrs Osei noted elections are just “a contest” hence voters and politicians must not see it as a life and death affair. Likening elections to football, she said “there will always be losers and winners” hence advised all sides to accept the outcome of the 2016 polls.

“We come to realisation that peace and stability is more important to us. We can’t separate our peace to that of the nation. We must all pray for this nation and put it first and realise that an election is just a contest and no point in throwing away our peace and stability. We have to get to that realisation and I know that when it comes to the crunch we’ll do what is right. We are committed to a peaceful election,” Mrs Osei assured Ghanaians.

She added: “Everyone has a role to play and we’ll engage everyone including women and political parties and the media. We hope to call on all to collaborate.”

Ghana is going into its seventh general polls under the Fourth Republic on November 7, 2016.

Source: Starr FM

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Nyaho Tamakloe suspended by NPP; but vows to fight pound for pound

The New Patriotic Party has begun the year 2016, pretty much the way ended 2015 with a wave of suspension of key members,  a move the party says is to instill discipline in the party.

The next to be suspended is a leading member of the party, Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe.

The decision to suspend Dr Tamakloe was taken by the Regional Chairman of the party Ishmael Ashitey following a petition brought before the party by a member in the Ayawaso Constituency.

The petitioner, Stephen Asante, accused Dr Tamakloe of conducting himself in a way that undermined the peace and unity within the party.

Dr Tamakloe is alleged to have attacked the party's flagbearer of not doing enough to resolve the crisis in the party which has led to the suspension of three national officers including the Chairman, Paul Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong.

The petition was filed at the national office but checks by Joy News' Kwakye Afreh Nuamah indicate the petition was sent to the Greater Accra Branch of the party to consider the petition and take appropriate measures.

The Regional Chairman Ishmael Ashitey wrote to Dr Tamakloe, announcing his suspension from the party. The Regional executives are however yet to hear the side of Dr Nyaho Tamakloe.

The suspension letter in part, says a committee has been set up by the Regional Executive which will investigate the matter and give Dr Tamakloe an opportunity to respond to the claims made against him.

But Nyaho Tamakloe has described the letter and its author as the work of "gaping sycophant."

In a strongly worded statement, Dr Tamakloe said he will treat the letter of suspension with all the contempt it deserves and is ready to fight any executive pound-for-pound.

" As a statesman, in recent times, I have heeded counsel not to speak on party matters. However,  I have never retreated from a fight so I will respond pound for pound," the statement said.

Dr Tamakloe referred to what he believes are selectivities in the punitive measures being meted out to some members of the party.

Ask my detractors what the party has done to members who, among other things:

a) violently disrupted party parliamentary primaries leasing to criminal prosecution;

b) advocated that only Akans are worthy of ruling Ghana;

c) falsely attacking His Excellency J. A. Kufuor and other leading members of the Party without basis;

d) violently disrupted public functions organised by other party members including senior citizens Attoh-Quarshie;

e) violently prevented elected Party officials from entering the Party headquarters;

f) have been caught on tape planning to mount dubious court cases against financial institutions to make money for their own pockets".

"all of these people want to prove their allegiance to our flag bearer by running others down. They are counting their chickens before they are hatched. Instead of focusing on the 2016 elections, they are pursuing an agenda of rumour mongering" he said.

Dr Tamakloe said he would not listen to fascist within the party but would rather heed to the call from former president JA Kufuor and other leading members of the party and these "ignoramuses."

"Even the Greater Accra Regional chairman - who knows him in Greater Accra?" he fired.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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Shift the destiny of Ghana from NDC, NPP - CPP urges

The Convention Peoples Party (CPP) has called for electoral paradigm shift as Ghana prepares to hold Presidential and Parliamentary Elections on November 7.

“The alternation of power under the forth republic between the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party has failed to dramatically transform the fortunes of the country in spite of the huge resources under their disposal.

“Elections 2016 therefore offers Ghanaians a new opportunity to shift from voting for any of these two parties and vote for both Presidential and Parliamentary candidates of the third force CPP to transform the country,” Professor Edmund N. Delle, CPP Chairman and Leader stated in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

“The CPP calls for a social-political paradigm shift in 2016, as we enter into an electoral year; we must all as Ghanaians acknowledge that we have a role to play in shaping the destiny of this nation.

“We must build on positive structures and break down old unproductive systems and mechanism which are inimical to national development.

“The CPP calls on Ghanaians to exhibit high sense of patriotism, and work hard across the national divide in the best interest of the country,” he said.

Prof Delle tasked the security agencies, public servants, media practitioners, politicians, private sector, traditional and religious leaders, as well as civil society activists to join a national campaign to ensure a peaceful, free, fair and transparent election.

“We all have a role to play in the democratic dispensation, no one should sit on the fence, we must join hands together irrespective of our political affiliations, ethnic background, religious inclinations and social-political status.”

Prof Delle noted that as we head into an election year, “I want to assure you all that a CPP Government will grow the economy, create more jobs, strengthen all class of citizens in the country, curb corruption to its maximum limit and give proper accountability to the people of Ghana”.

On CPP internal political activities, Prof Delle said the party has set in motion electoral machinery to revamp its structures and make it more visible and appealing to the teaming youth.

The party is going through internal transformation to ensure that “we offer Ghanaians dynamic, transformational and bold leadership”.

He called on the rank and file to begin the process of mobilisation to building the party structures at the ward, constituency, regional and national levels.

Prof Delle also appealed to aspiring Presidential Candidates of the party to conduct their campaign within the spirit of comradeship, respect for each other, and focus on the bigger picture of winning Elections 2016.

“Today, as Ghanaians, especially my comrades across the country and in the Diaspora gather with family and friends, I want to wish everyone a happy and a healthy New Year.

“This is always a hopeful time, as we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another,” he said.

He observed that while 2015 was difficult for many Ghanaians, “we must also look back on this year with the knowledge that brighter days are ahead of us – that although our challenges are great, each of us has the courage and determination to rise up and meet them”.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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Iran-Saudi Arabia row: Tehran envoys to leave Riyadh 'in 48 hours'

Saudi Arabia has given Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, amid a row over the Saudi execution of a top Shia Muslim cleric.

The Saudi government announced on Sunday that it had broken off diplomatic ties with Iran.

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of stoking tension in the region.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are the major Sunni and Shia powers in the region respectively and back opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

The US has appealed for calm, calling for continued diplomatic engagement.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on Saturday after being convicted of terror-related offences.

Sunnis and Shia: Islam's ancient schism

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Leading Saudi Shia cleric

Late on Sunday, police came under heavy gunfire in his home town of Awamiya in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, leaving one civilian dead and a child injured, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Security forces are still hunting the attackers, calling the incident a "terrorist" act, a police spokesman was quoted as saying.

Shia Muslims have complained of marginalisation in Eastern Province.

'Interference'

Saudi Arabia announced that it would sever diplomatic relations with Iran after demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. It has also recalled its diplomats from Tehran.

Analysis: Lyse Doucet, BBC chief international correspondent

A diplomatic rupture between the major Sunni and Shia powers in the region will resonate across the Middle East, where they back opposing sides in many destructive wars and simmering conflicts.

Players are already lining up along sectarian lines to support either Tehran or Riyadh.

Last year had ended with a bit of hope that talks on ending Yemen's strife had, at least, begun. Syria was to follow this month. It looks an awful lot harder now.

In October Saudi sources told me they only dropped their opposition to Iran's presence at Syria talks after the US persuaded them to test Tehran's commitment. But they doubt Iran will do a deal, and see it as key source of regional instability.

On the other side, Iranian officials don't hide their contempt for the Saudi system and its support for Islamist groups. There's been barely-concealed anger for months. Now it's boiled over.


Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would not let Iran undermine its security, accusing it of having "distributed weapons and planted terrorist cells in the region".

"Iran's history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction," he told a news conference.

US state department spokesman John Kirby said: "We will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions".

"We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential," he said.

'Martyr'

Earlier, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the Sunni Muslim kingdom would face "divine revenge" for the execution - an act which also angered Shia Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ayatollah Khamenei called Sheikh Nimr a "martyr" who had acted peacefully.

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police. The Saudi foreign ministry said none of its diplomats had been harmed in the incident.

Iran on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of using the embassy incident to provoke further regional tension, Iranian state TV reported.

It quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying: "Saudi Arabia sees its life in pursuit of crises and confrontations and attempts to resolve all of its internal problems by exporting them to the outside."

Relations between the countries have been strained over various issues in recent decades, including Iran's nuclear programme and deaths of Iranians at the Hajj pilgrimage in 1987 and again in 2015.

Diplomatic ties were severed between 1988 and 1991.

Most of the 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks over the last decade.

Sheikh Nimr was involved in anti-government protests that erupted in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Arab Spring, up to his arrest in 2012.

The execution also sparked protests in Iraq, Bahrain and several other countries.

Source: bbc.com


 

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Central African Republic ex-PM Touadera ahead after election

Early results from the Central African Republic's presidential election show ex-Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera taking a surprise lead.

Thirty candidates contested the poll, which is likely to go to a run-off between the top two on 31 January. Mr Touadera was not seen as a favourite.

He was prime minister in the government of ex-President Francois Bozize, ousted in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Voting took place on 30 December, with UN troops guarding polling stations.

Thirty candidates vied to replace interim leader Catherine Samba-Panza in the former French colony.

CAR has been torn by sectarian violence since the Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013.

A band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-Balaka, then took up arms against the Seleka.

Strong lead

Mr Touadera, 58, was a university maths lecturer before entering politics. He ran as an independent in the election.

With most votes counted in the capital Bangui, he is well ahead of his nearest rival, Anicet Georges Dologuele, another former prime minister.

Besides Bangui, many votes remain to be counted in CAR's provinces, as well as those of refugees and other CAR citizens abroad.

Mr Touadera has more than 120,000 votes, while Mr Dologuele has just over 68,500.

In third place is Desire Kolingba, son of a former president, the national electoral authority says.

Will elections end the fighting in CAR?

More about the Central African Republic

The interim government and international donors pushed for the poll, believing that an elected president and parliament would help CAR recover from years of unrest.

CAR is one of the world's poorest countries - yet it is rich in natural resources.

Elections also took place for the 149-seat National Assembly.

After seizing power, the Seleka rebels installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian country.

But under pressure from regional leaders and former colonial power France, Mr Djotodia stood down and was succeeded by Ms Samba-Panza.

About 1.8 million people were registered to vote, out of a population of roughly five million.

More than one million people fled their homes during the intercommunal fighting.

Source: bbc.com

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Ivory Coast footballer, Steve Gohouri, dies at the age of 34

Former Wigan Athletic defender Steve Gohouri has died at the age of 34.

Gohouri made 42 appearances for Wigan between 2010 and 2012 and also won 12 caps for Ivory Coast.

On 12 December, Gohouri was reported missing after attending the Christmas party of his German club TSV Steinbach. He was meant to visit his family in Paris but never arrived.

German police confirmed his body had been found in the River Rhine in the western city of Krefeld.

In a statement they also said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Gohouri's death.

Wigan Athletic tweeted: "We are saddened to hear reports of our former defender Steve Gohouri passing away. Our thoughts are with his family."

Gohouri moved from Ivory Coast to France as a five-year-old, where he was raised in the suburbs of Paris.

He began his football career in France but played for clubs in Israel, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Greece and Germany.

He signed for then Premier League Wigan from Bundesliga stalwarts Borussia Monchengladbach in January 2010.

Source: bbc.com

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Mark Zuckerberg to build AI to help at home and work

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he plans to build artificial intelligence (AI) to help him around the house and with his work.

In a Facebook post, he said his personal challenge this year would be to build a "simple AI" like Jarvis from Hollywood blockbuster film Iron Man, referring to the AI butler.

Mr Zuckerberg plans to share his progress over the course of the year.

Last month, he made headlines for plans to donate 99% of his stake in Facebook.

He had to defend his philanthropic venture -launched to celebrate the birth of his daughter- after critics argued that it could provide a way for the founder to avoid paying tax on the sale of his shares.

'Control everything'

On Monday, Mr Zuckerberg said he would start to build the AI with technology that is already out there and teach it to understand his voice to control everything in his home from music and lights to temperature.

"This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"I'll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell," he said. "I'll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max's (his daughter's) room that I need to check on when I'm not with her."

For Facebook, he added that the system would help him visualize data in virtual reality and help him build better services, as well as lead his company.

His announcement comes as Facebook is in the midst of AI initiatives such as building an assistant through its Messenger app for users.

The tech billionaire said a part of the motivation behind this year's challenge was the reward of building things yourself.

His previous personal challenges have included learning Mandarin, reading two books a month and meeting a new person everyday, he said.

Source: bbc.com

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Earthquake hits India's Manipur state

An earthquake measuring 6.7 magnitude has hit northeast India, near its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, killing at least nine people.

The quake hit at 04:35 local time (23:05 GMT Sunday) about 29km (18 miles) northwest of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Strong tremors have been felt across the region.

The earthquake was originally reported to have measured 6.8 magnitude.

India's Meteorological Department said it struck at a depth of 17km (about 10 miles).

The tremor cracked walls and a newly-built six-storey building in Imphal collapsed, police said. Other buildings were also reported to have been damaged.

At least six people have been killed in Manipur and more than 30 injured, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Map

In the neighbouring Bangladesh, three people were reported dead while dozens were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained during the quake.

The BBC's Salman Saeed in Dhaka said panicked residents fled into the streets.

A 23-year-old man died when he suffered a stroke after the quake while two others died of heart attacks, news agency AFP quoted police as saying.

A university student, who jumped from a fourth-floor balcony to escape, was among the critically wounded, the agency added.

At the scene, Paojel Chaoba, Journalist

I was woken up by a terrible jolt and felt my building shake. We ran out into the street below.

It was a complete scene of panic: people were fleeing their homes, and shouting.

Several buildings have collapsed in Imphal, and many others have suffered structural damages.

The worst affected appears to be the Mother's Market or the 'Ima Keithel' area. It is home to lots of buildings, private houses, a hospital and the city's press club.

Many of them have been damaged in the quake and the entire area has been cordoned off. A number of buildings there have been evacuated.

A number of electricity lines have been damaged and many areas are without power.

At the main regional hospital in Imphal, 37 people have been admitted with injuries.

This, in my experience, is the worst quake to hit Imphal.

Deepak Shijagurumayum, a resident of Imphal, told AFP by phone that his house was severely damaged by the quake.

"Almost everyone was asleep when it struck and were thrown out of their beds," Mr Shijagurumayum said.

"People were crying and praying in the streets and in open spaces. Hundreds remained outdoors for several hours fearing aftershocks."

Shaking was felt as far away as Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), 600km (370 miles) away. "Many people were seen coming out of their homes in panic," local resident Rabin Dev told AFP news agency.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he had spoken to the region's chief ministers and federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh "on the situation arising in the wake of the earthquake".

Casualties have not yet been reported on the Myanmar side of the border, which is sparsely populated.

The region has a history of powerful earthquakes caused by the northward collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. They are moving towards each other at a rate of 4-5cm per year.

In 2005, a magnitude 7.6 quake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir left more than 75,000 people dead.

In April 2015, Nepal suffered its worst earthquake on record with 9,000 people killed and about 900,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

Source: bbc.com

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Oregon: Armed protest at US wildlife building

Armed protesters have occupied a US government building in Oregon to support father and son ranchers who have been ordered to return to jail.

Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven, 46, were convicted of arson in 2012 but a court ruled their original sentences were too short.

They said they lit fires on federal land to combat invasive species and protect their land from wildfires.

The case has riled right-wing activists who resent government interference.

Those occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge centre in Burns say they plan to stay for years and may use violence if police try to evict them.

Local police said "outside militants" had seized the building, and that multiple agencies were working on a solution, the Oregonian reported.

'Alternative motives'

Among those there is Ammon Bundy, whose father Cliven was involved in a stand-off with the government over grazing rights in 2014.

Speaking to CNN, Mr Ammon gave no specific demands but said the action was aimed at helping locals "claim back their lands and resources".

He said that the wildlife refuge had expanded at the expense of ranchers and miners.

The incident is part of a decades-old conflict between ranchers and the federal government over the use of public land.

Critics of the federal government say it often oversteps its authority over land use.

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Ammon Bundy's brother, Ryan Bundy, said the protesters' ultimate goal was to turn the land over to local authorities so that people can use it free of federal oversight.

"I understand the land needs to be used wisely, but that's what we as stewards need to do. A rancher is going to take care of his own ranch," he added.

But despite the protest Dwight Hammond says he and his son plan to report peacefully to prison on Monday.

His lawyers told Associated Press "neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organisation speak for the Hammond Family".

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward was critical of the protesters and their motives.

"These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers, when in reality these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States," Mr Ward said in a statement.

Source: bbc.com

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2016 Polls Will Consolidate Our Democratic Credentials - Prez Mahama

President John Mahama has assured the world that Ghana will this year consolidate its democratic credentials through a peaceful poll to elect people to lead the country.

“I believe and I’m sure all of us have faith that this democratic journey that Ghana is on will continue successfully. We will have an election; there will be no violence. We will go and make our decision known,” he said.

Speaking at a 31st watch night service at the Living Streams Ministries in Accra to usher in 2016, he said Ghana continues to be an island of peace courtesy the intercessory prayers of its religious leaders.

The President said Ghana, unlike other countries in the region, has enjoyed the peace and stability; something he said the people should appreciate and thank God for.

“The fact that we sleep and wake up and we don’t have to run away from our country and be displaced because of acts of violence is something that we must appreciate and pray for,” he stated.

He added: “2016 is an election year, may God continue to grant us peace. Let’s learn to count our blessings” considering what war has done to some countries in the sub region.

President Mahama also said he believes in Ghana’s future and that the country will be great and strong, hence urged the people to shun pessimism and be pessimistic about the future.

He used the workings of ants to illustrate how the contribution of each and every Ghanaian matters in developing the nation, saying “Every single person matters. Everybody has a role in this country. From the President right down to whoever you consider the lowest denominator”.

He said often, people look at other countries and wonder why Ghana cannot be develop like those countries to the extent that some people even say, “as for Ghana, nothing can happen here. We should even have remained under the colonialists.”

To those people, the President said: “We can be like that country only if we believe that our country can be like them… If all of us believe we can do it this nation will get there.”

“All the nations that have reached where we admire and we think are advanced started from where we also started. Some of those nations are 300 years old. Ghana is 58 years. I’m sure when they were 58 years if you went and saw the conditions in those countries they will not be similar to what it is in Ghana. Ghana probably has made more progress in 58 than they made in 58 years of their lives,” he pointed out.

Source: tv3network.com

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NDC Will Win 2016 Elections -Abuja Prophet

The General Overseer of Champions Royal Assembly, Prophet Joshua Iginla, has predicted a win for the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Among a list of prophecies he released for the new year, Prophet Iginla who is one of the most popular men of God in Abuja said: "I see a robust economy and the Democrats still holding on to the seat in the election. The ruling party will retain the power. Ghana should pray against place crash. It looks like an helicopter. I see a famous footballer packing his bag and saying goodbye. He is already having a kidney problem. He needs prayers between the month of April till October. The president should watch and pray because there are more enemies than friends".

Find the rest of the prophecies below:

1-Nigeria will rise again and the future of Nigeria will be restored. And her image n dignity shall be restored. In my vision, I saw a group of young men wearing boots preparing and when I asked God he said it’s the future of the next generation that are coming to take over 2024.

2-Many politicians will go to jail in 2016 due to the anti corrupt campaign by the president. It will gain more ground and a lot of money recovered and a lot of mystery unveiled.

3-The Senate president should pray because there will be an attempt over his life. I see a strong plot to remove him and a strong plot to poison him.

4-I see a commercial bank having a major problem that will affect it’s capacity and output. The policy of the regulatory body will be too much for her and it will fold down.

5-I see the issue of Ebola resurfacing in some other African company. We should pray.

6-I see the CBN governor facing a hard time and I see him being removed..
I see a former Minister who held a sensitive position struggling for survival. We should pray for her because her candle light is almost off. It will take a miracle for her to survive. While she is battling corruption battle, I see the owner of her life knocking the door of her soul.

7-The Inspector General of Police should pray because I see a plot and an attempt to discredit him which will happen. I see his seat shaking and might not go down well.

8-I see a governor in the seat of Akwa Ibom. His seat will shake but I see him still maintaining it.

9-Bayelsa! The incumbent governor should pray well to retain it because what I see is a mystery beyond explanation.
The Lord said I should warn the powers that be to be sensitive over the issue of Bayelsa because I see blood and restlessness. The person on the seat should pray because I see three legs of a stool and two are taking away. Can you sit properly when two out of three legs are taking away?

10-Rivers State. I see strong battle and contest with Inconclusive result. I see violence and tension. I see property burnt and protest and name calling but the person on the seat shall retain it.

11-Edo. I see the ruling party still retaining power. I see a strong contest but the ruling party will swallow the opponent.

12-There will be a strong shake in the cabinet in 2016. One of the Ministers will lose his seat as a result of displeasure of the President with him

13-I see same sex marriage entering into one of the African countries and it will become very strong.

14-In 2016, the economy of the country will be very tasking and quite challenging. If care is not taking it will navigate into serious recession. I see strong hardship in terms of the economy.

15-I see fuel price rising and the masses helpless over it. Attempt will be made to curb the price but it will not work.

16-I see series of protests, strikes which will affect the economy.

17-The Biafra agitation will become very strong if the government don’t handle it with wisdom. It will give the government of the day a bad name before the international committee and observers. It might be stronger than the issue of Boko Haram. Wisdom is needed. That’s what the Lord says. Else, it can bring the government of the day to her kneels.

18-I see a strong agitation and people sponsoring it from all angles.

19-The military reputation under the present administration will be restored and performed brilliantly. In my vision, I see them silencing the issue of Boko Haram upto 85%. Boko Haram issue will die a natural death but I see another battle wish this present government should pray

20-I see a new party coming out of the old party. They will rebrand and become a strong opposition force challenging the government of the day and discrediting it. . This new government should pray.

21-The government of Buhari will do well but due to too much enemies than friend, it will slow the wheel of progress and tension will rise up in several areas. But that will not stop the result the government will have.

22-We should pray for one of our ex-president because I see him packing his bag and leaving us. Don’t forget I said it last year but God is giving him grace but am seeing it again.

23-The president should pray because there will be an attempt over his life. I see serious health issue. He should pray to finish his tenure.

24-There are a lot of Judases around Mr President. I see a plot to poison him. He should pray to finish it.
Take good care of yourself and spend more time to watch your enemies that are around you than those afar. That’s the message for the president. There are Judases around him and are ready to finish their assignments. Watch your house because the enemy is too close than he thinks.

25-The issue of armed robbery will increase and banks will be robbed. High way robbers will be on the rise. Ondo, Lagos, kano and Abia, in the month of July, August, October April and March the security operatives should be alert in those states.

26- I see a sitting governor whose seats becomes vacant for the vice to take over. I don’t understand of its as a result of DEATH, impeachment or court order.
27-Zambia. The economy will improve but not as expected. The election in Zambia will be will be like two lions fighting. The president should pray in terms of the election because I see betrayals from his camp and so called faithfuls. But in my vision, I see someone trying to pull him from his seat, yet he remain in the seat.

28-I see fire outbreak in sensitive government establishment. They should watch out

29-Mega churches will rise up in the nation of Zambia. God said he is raising up strong prophets in Zambia. I see a great prophet rising up in the kitwe pray against mass protest that will be sponsored by distractors against the government of the day.

30-The glory of Zambia will be restored naturally. I see the person on the seat of power retaining it.

31-Zimbabwe. There will be a great revival that will flow through out Africa – West, East and South.

32-God said I should warn some people trying to thwart the wheel of progress in Zimbabwe because their own time will come naturally. It’s not yet their time and there is nothing they can do about it.

33-I see a rain fall spiritually non stop in the nation of Zimbabwe and something like ice block in form of a star and God said it’s a sign of continuous blessing and flow of revival both economically and spiritually.

34-I see a major stampede in a major program that will be held by a major man of God in the country of Zambia. It will claim lives. The prophetic advise is that the prophet should work on his crowd control unit so that he won’t be accused of using people for rituals while his hands are clean.

35-Tanzania.. The Lord said their season has come I see the new leader maximising the resources and changing the destiny of the country. I see the economy blossoming and I see a lot of corrupt leaders and people who have been a distraction to the government being brought to book.

36-They should pray for their air space especially their aviation industry. I see a plane which is of medium size, not too big nor small, crashing and it happened during the raining season. They should watch and pray.

37-Cameroon – I see the bombing and battle against Boko Haram being conquered. I see a revolution and agitation against the current government taking place the government should be sensitive. I see restlessness among the youth. I was taking in the realm of the spirit and I see a fire outbreak in one of the major sensitive markets in Cameroon. God is raising four major prophets in Cameroon in Duala , Limbe, kumba. The president should pray for his health.
38-Ethiopia. I see the agricultural sector experiencing boom. They should pray for sufficient rainfall. They should pray against poor rainfall because I see drought. There will be strong economic challenge an important figure who has handled an important position in the nation will pack his bag and say good bye to the country. He is already struggling with his health. I see a massive revival that will spring up in the country of Ethiopia.

39-Russia I see them under pressure as a result of the policies and attack that is currently going on. And it will affect their economy strongly. I see them trying to make peace with the country they are not willing to make peace with in order to free themselves from pressure. I see a big Bird flying out of Russia defecating where they ought not to and it caused a lot of confusion. It’s like plane throwing bombs. I see the nation of Russia going to war with another nation and they have to pray to avert it.
I see America accusing Russia over the use of a particular weapon. In the midst of all types, Russia will wax stronger.

40-USA: I see an adjustment in the election time table and this will lead to accusations of the government of the day After Obama’s tenure, it will be 2044 before another black man can ascend the seat of presidency. I see terrorist attack that will be carry out. I see sporadic shooting and ISIS claiming responsibility. This will happen just like it did in France. I see three people who are at the center of this and I see them being captured while two will be killed. But lives will be lost. I see a popular celebrity that will pass on in the country of America. This person’s name has to do with O and W. I see an important personality committing suicide as a result of frustration. The election of America in 2016 will be tough. I see the Democrat holding ground stronger and stronger.

41-Ghana: I see a robust economy and the Democrats still holding on to the seat in the election. The ruling party will retain the power. Ghana should pray against place crash. It looks like an helicopter. I see a famous footballer packing his bag and saying goodbye. He is already having a kidney problem. He needs prayers between the month of April till October. The president should watch and pray because there are more enemies than friends.

42-Puerto rico. I see a major earthquake between April and September. I see a famous celebrity saying goodbye in the month of June. It a female. The ruling party will hold on to power in the election.

43-South Africa. The president will so much go through a lot of persecution m I see trials and accusations. The economy will be so much attack and won’t go well as it used to be. But the hands of God is upon them because a great revival will sail through the land. They have to pray about their water because I see scarcity of water withing the specific month. A major king will die. The church in south africa should pray because I see string attack and persecution against the church. It will be so strong.

44-The queen of England should pray for her health. I see strong challenge and should pray to see the end of the year.

45-The Catholic movement will do strongly but see the Pope being attacked. I see him doing a lot in reconciling a lot of countries that are in dispute. He will visit a lot of Islamic countries and bring peace to a lot of areas in conflicts. He should pray for his health.

46- UGANDA. I see protests and a movement led by young men. I see a coalition of political parties that will unseat the incumbent party in power. I See a major struggle and fight but at the end the country will rise up strongly.

47. Peru. The economy will grow stronger. I see a key politician being poisoned before the election. And I see the ruling power still holding on to power in the election.
 

Source: ghanapoliticsonline.com

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EC defends decision to keep names of alleged Togo nationals on voters’ register

The Electoral Commission (EC) says the New Patriotic Party’s push for removal of over 76,000 names of alleged Togolese nationals from the electoral roll would be inappropriate.

The EC says it would be “an arbitrary and discriminatory application of the law”, if the NPP's request is granted.

The EC says, “in examining the identity and status of the 76,000 Togolese alleged to be on Ghana’s Register, the EC found that they were all duly registered during the mass registration period in 2012.”

The opposition party has been courting the support of other political parties and civil societies for a new register ahead of elections later this year.

The party says the current electoral roll lacks credibility, citing a deliberate inclusion of aliens in the register.

The removal of the alleged 76,000 alleged foreign nationals was a key point in the NPP’s push for a new voters’ register.

The EC holds that the NPP did not provide any proof of the citizenship status of the alleged foreign nationals and did not show any proof that they were not entitled to be registered in Ghana.

The EC’s response was contained in 33-page document written to the NPP.

“From the document presented by the NPP, the commission was unable to confirm the authenticity of the Togolese Register used by the NPP in their analysis as the Electoral Commission of Togo declined to provide the EC with a copy of its register or confirm the authenticity of the soft copy of the register used by the NPP.

“Seeking to remove names of persons who appear on the registers of Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in the EC’s view, would be an arbitrary and discriminatory application of the law. The EC asks, would the Commission therefore be required to obtain the registers of all countries of the world and remove the names of persons who appear on such registers as well as Ghana’s?” the EC quizzed.

The opposition party also raised a Supreme Court ruling on the use of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) cards for registration and called for the removal of persons who have been registered with the card from the register.

However, the EC says the party is misinterpreting the Supreme Court ruling.

According to the EC, in the Abu Ramadan case, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of NHIA cards, in their current form, was insufficient as proof of citizenship and consequently.

The EC says it was directed to stop accepting that as proof of citizenship for voter registration exercises.

“Nowhere in the ruling did the Supreme court nullify all registrations by voters who presented NHIA cards as proof of Citizenship,” the EC says.

On NPP's claims that there were edited pictures on the current electoral register, the EC holds that claim is unfounded.

According to EC, the Biometric Register has multiple layers of data protection and integrity assurance and does not permit the possibility of pictures on the register being edited.

“The consultant’s report on the Independent Review of the Biometric Voters Register also supports the position that this is not possible and that the system has adequate integrity and has not been compromised. We would be happy to share the consultant’s report with the NPP,” the elections ombudsman said.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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LMVCA mulls court action to force EC to compile new electoral roll

Pro-NPP pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), says it may turn to the courts to compel the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter’s register.

The pressure group’s decision is in reaction to the EC’s refusal to change the current electoral roll.

National Coordinator of the pressure group, David Asante, says the group is bent on pushing their demands until they hear something favourable.

The pressure group held a huge protest last year to get the EC to change the current register.

David Asante says the courts will be the group’s next resort.

The EC rejected the call for a new register, saying the pro-NPP group has not provided enough evidence that the current register is not credible.

The EC’s decision to keep the current register is consistent with a report by a five-member committee it set up to deliberate proposals for a new voters’ register.

The committee among other things says it "finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register."

The Commission in a statement signed by Christian Owusu-Parry, Acting Director of Public Affairs at the EC, said it “accepts the recommendations of the panel and will progressively implement the recommendations made therein.”


Source: myjoyonline.com

The pressure group held a huge protest last year to get the EC to change the current register.

David Asante says the courts will be the group’s next resort.

The EC rejected the call for a new register, saying the pro-NPP group has not provided enough evidence that the current register is not credible.

The EC’s decision to keep the current register is consistent with a report by a five-member committee it set up to deliberate proposals for a new voters’ register.

The committee among other things says it "finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register."

The Commission in a statement signed by Christian Owusu-Parry, Acting Director of Public Affairs at the EC, said it “accepts the recommendations of the panel and will progressively implement the recommendations made therein.”

- See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2016/January-4th/lmvca-mulls-court-action-to-force-ec-to-compile-new-electoral-roll.php#sthash.wlfYPRsw.dpuf
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Judges bribery scandal: Sacked Magistrate challenges removal

One of the lower court judges named in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas corruption scandal is challenging his removal from office.

Samuel Ahiabor is part of 20 lower court judges who were sanctioned following a probe by a committee set up by Chief Justice, Georgina Wood.

In a letter stating his misconduct, the former Adidome District Magistrate, Samuel Ahiabor is accused of receiving GHC600 from a petitioner.

According to the document, this was to influence him to cause the arrest of a man who allegedly defrauded the said petitioner

Mr Ahiabor however says the Committees’ decision to remove him from office is a breach of his rights.

First he says he never collected, received or accepted any money although the evidence presented by Anas shows him taking the money.

Mr Ahiabor adds that, aside Anas Aremeyaw Anas, he never had the opportunity to cross examine the petitioner who purportedly bribed him at any of the disciplinary committee sittings

The former Adidome magistrate also maintains that since the matter of bribery allegation did not concern a case pending before him, he cannot be said to have misconducted himself.

Mr Samuel Ahiabor is therefore asking the high court to quash the committees verdict as quote, ‘’the decision is contrary to law, rules of natural justice and the 1992 constitution.’’

So far, 20 Magistrates and Circuit Court judges implicated in the judicial corruption scandal have been sacked.

The judges, who were part of the 32 implicated in the exposé done by ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, were dismissed for violating provisions of the 1992 Constitution, according to the Committee set up to investigate Anas's claims.

Some of them have been sacked with benefits while others got dismissed without their benefits.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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Finally: Gov’t to deal with corruption allegations by NPP

The Deputy Chief of Staff says a plan to tackle accusations of inflated figures for development projects and other perceived corruption in Government will soon be set in motion.

Johnny Osei Kofi says government has begun compiling responses to set the records straight on corruption issues raised by the opposition New Patriotic Party in 2015.

Although he would not mention the specifics, he told Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor the defence would be detailed.

“What we have not done is to take centre stage and let the people know the huge, huge positives that we have. But the little things that the opposition would pick, they want to blow it up. Even those that are untrue,” the Deputy Chief of Staff said.

He was speaking to Luv News during a cleanup exercise at Ayigya in Kumasi.

“We are cataloguing all these things and very soon would come up then show where the lies are,” he said.

Johnny Osei Kofi said although NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, falsely accused government of inflating cost for the Kasoa Interchange project the opposition leader has not come to apologise even though facts that emerged later prove he was wrong.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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Ridge Hospital staff call for probe into appointment of new Medical Director

Some senior staff of the Ridge Hospital in Accra have called on the Ghana Health Service to probe the appointment of the new Medical Director of the facility, Dr Thomas Anaba.

A senior staff who spoke to Joy News on condition of anonymity cites breach of the selection process for Dr Anaba's position as reason for their disapproval of him.

Notices posted at parts of the hospital read “imposition of Anaba is recipe for chaos”.

The anonymous senior staff told Joy News "we the staff think that somebody somewhere has manipulated the process and the right thing must be done. In the first place they should go strictly by the appointment criteria and asking certain key people to recuse themselves from the interview process."

The agigated staff believes going by the appropriate selection criteria would ensure that the appointments do oot become a family-and-friends affair.

“There is no way my intimate friend will mark me down in an interview,” the anonymous staff said.

The Ridge Hospital staff are calling on the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Health Services Council to act immediately on the matter.

They say the hospital is a very important and strategic hospital and its management should not be left in the hands of inexperienced people.

Director General of Ghana Health Service Dr Appiah Denkyira has told Joy News he has received a petition from the staff and would look into it.


Source: myjoyonline.com

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What for? Ghana needs more than 275 MPs in Parliament – Madina MP

Member of Parliament for Madina, Alhaji Amadu Sorogo has described as needless, calls for the current 275 membership of parliament to be cut to 150.

According to him, the increasing population needs to corroborate with the number of legislators.

The Ablekuma South MP, Fritz Baffour, had earlier suggested Ghana required only 150 legislators to make laws, explaining that the membership of the House is too high for a country like Ghana.

The Madina legislator, Alhaji Amadu Sorogo, however disagreed with Mr Baffour in an interview with Citi News, saying an increase in the number of seats was rather needed due to population increase.

“Ideally, one MP must be able to take care of about 50,000,” Mr Sorogo argued.

On the question of the effectiveness of MPs, Mr Sorogo said the availability of the Job 600 complex providing the MPs with offices will now help in establishing the effectiveness of parliamentarians.

He also pointed out the MPs didn’t have to be overly vocal to be perceived as doing their work.

“There fact that a lot of parliamentarians are in parliament and you don’t hear them talk does not mean they are not working because the work of parliament does not lie only on the floor of the house.”

Mr Sorogo further stated, “Now that we now have offices, you can now measure the effectiveness of the members of parliament. Formerly you could hind behind ad say there were no offices… but now we have office so let us move ahead and with time it will become clear I we have to reduce it or we still maintain it.”


Source: citifmonline.com

Member of Parliament for Madina, Alhaji Amadu Sorogo has described as needless, calls for the current 275 membership of parliament to be cut to 150.

According to him, the increasing population needs to corroborate with the number of legislators.

The Ablekuma South MP, Fritz Baffour, had earlier suggested Ghana required only 150 legislators to make laws, explaining that the membership of the House is too high for a country like Ghana.

The Madina legislator, Alhaji Amadu Sorogo, however disagreed with Mr Baffour in an interview with Citi News, saying an increase in the number of seats was rather needed due to population increase.

“Ideally, one MP must be able to take care of about 50,000,” Mr Sorogo argued.

On the question of the effectiveness of MPs, Mr Sorogo said the availability of the Job 600 complex providing the MPs with offices will now help in establishing the effectiveness of parliamentarians.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/01/02/ghana-needs-more-than-275-mps-in-parliament-madina-mp/#sthash.uYSSm4nX.dpuf
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Singer Chris Brown investigated for alleged battery

US singer Chris Brown is being investigated by Las Vegas police over an allegation of battery.

Officers were contacted at 10:30 local time (18:30 GMT) on Saturday about the alleged incident at the Palms Casino resort, according to Lt Jeff Goodwin.

A police statement said an altercation took place in a room when a woman went to take a picture of Brown and was struck by him before he took her phone.

His publicist Nicole Perna called the woman’s charges “unequivocally untrue”.

Police officers were unable to speak to Brown at his hotel room as he had left before they arrived.

They said a crime report has been taken, listing Brown for for misdemeanour theft and misdemeanour battery.

Ms Perna said the woman’s allegations were “a complete fabrication”.

Grammy winner Brown, whose hits include Run It! and Kiss Kiss, had performed on Friday at a Las Vegas nightclub where he appears regularly.


Source: bbc.com

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Fast Tongue Twisting Rapper Quata Releases “One Life To Live” – Download & Listen

When it comes to tongue twisting rap, rapper Quata cannot be forgotten since he has been crowned as the best in that arena. For some years now, Quata has been silent in the music industry but he is back with a great song.

For 2016 and beyond, the rapper known in real life as Jacob Kwame Etroo has released “One Life To Live” which shows his rap dexterity. Before Quata Budukusu  released this new one “One Life to Live”, he gave his fans “Ohia“, “Pum Pum Shots” and “Wind n Go low” in 2015 when he made a major comeback into the industry.

Quata is currently signed to Bakus Entertainment, after six years break from active music. Over hundred songs recorded for his new release comes in all genres. It is the most versatile masterpiece yet to hit the world.

In Twi, English and Jamaican Patois, Quata brings words to life with his rhymes, rhythms, melodies and tongue twisting rap skill and deep composition, the one word for Quata is MUSIC

Download and listen to Quata’s 2016 newly released “One Life To Live” below:

http://bit.ly/1mvLnV7

Source: zionfelix.com

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FAST TONGUE TWISTING RAPPER QUATA RELEASES “ONE LIFE TO LIVE”

When it comes to tongue twisting rap, rapper Quata cannot be forgotten since he has been crowned as the best in that arena. For some years now, Quata has been silent in the music industry but he is back with a great song.

For 2016 and beyond, the rapper known in real life as Jacob Kwame Etroo has released “One Life To Live” which shows his rap dexterity. Before Quata Budukusu  released this new one “One Life to Live”, he gave his fans “Ohia“, “Pum Pum Shots” and “Wind n Go low” in 2015 when he made a major comeback into the industry.

Quata is currently signed to Bakus Entertainment, after six years break from active music. Over hundred songs recorded for his new release comes in all genres. It is the most versatile masterpiece yet to hit the world.

In Twi, English and Jamaican Patois, Quata brings words to life with his rhymes, rhythms, melodies and tongue twisting rap skill and deep composition, the one word for Quata is MUSIC

Download and listen to Quata’s 2016 newly released “One Life To Live” below:

http://bit.ly/1mvLnV7

Source: zionfelix.com

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Barack Obama takes action over US gun laws

US President Barack Obama is to widen background checks on buyers of firearms, in a series of measures to address gun violence.

The plans will be announced on Tuesday by the president, despite opposition from Congress to new gun laws.

All sellers who operate online or at gun shows will be forced to conduct background checks on potential buyers.

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said he would fight the executive actions "tooth and nail".

But Mr Obama says his new measures will be within his legal authority and consistent with the Second Amendment, which grants Americans the right to bear arms.

And while they will not solve every violent crime in the US, he said they will potentially "save lives and spare families the pain" of loss.

Under the plan announced on Monday evening by the White House:

  • All sellers must be licensed and conduct background checks, overturning current exemptions to some online and gun show sellers
  • States must provide information on people disqualified due to mental illness or domestic violence
  • FBI will increase workforce processing background checks by 50%, hiring more than 230 new examiners
  • Congress will be asked to invest $500m (£339m) to improve access to mental healthcare
  • The departments of defence, justice and homeland security will explore "smart gun technology" to improve gun safety

Earlier on Monday, the president heard recommendations from Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and other top law enforcement officials.

He told the BBC last year his failure to pass effective gun laws was his biggest regret.


At a gun show - North America editor Jon Sopel

One charming man I spoke to had a stall of fine old pieces, including a Remington rifle from the 1970s. Because he wasn't registered, all I had to do was show him a driver's licence - and answer this question: am I a felon or mad?

Say no to that, and all I had to do was hand over the cash and the gun was mine with as much ammunition as I could carry. And as he pointed out to me, if I lied, how would he know?

There were also individuals walking around the show carrying rifles and revolvers, with flags coming out of the muzzle saying "for sale" - again no restrictions at all for people who just wanted to flog their old firearm.

These are some of the issues that the president wants to address with his executive action.

Read Jon's piece in full


More on US gun debate

Why Obama is powerless - the roadblock at Congress

Are you mad or criminal? - the question a gun seller asks

Texas women and their firearms - a photographer taught to shoot at an early age

Do tighter gun laws work? - a state where guns are a way of life

Guns at home - the question parents hate to ask before a playdate

Source: bbc.com

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Turkey urges calm in Saudi-Iran dispute

Turkey's government has urged Saudi Arabia and Iran to calm their diplomatic row, saying the dispute will only worsen regional tensions.

Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus said the Middle East was "already a powder keg".

He criticised attacks on Saudi missions in Iran but also Saudi Arabia's execution of a Shia Muslim cleric, which triggered the dispute.

Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic relations with Iran and is cutting trade and air links.

On Monday, some of Riyadh's allies joined diplomatic action against Iran.

The US has also called on both countries to calm the escalating row.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are respectively the key Sunni Muslim and Shia powers in the region and back opposing sides in Syria and Yemen.

Great rivalry explained: Why don't Iran and Saudi Arabia get along?

Spiralling tensions: Why crisis is 'most dangerous for decades'

How row is playing out: Iran and Saudi media reaction

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Who was leading Saudi Shia cleric?

"We want both countries to immediately move away from the situation of tension that will obviously only add to the already severe tensions existing in the Middle East," Mr Kurtulmus was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

"The region is already a powder keg. Enough is enough. We need peace in the region."

He called on Iran to protect all diplomatic missions and said that Turkey was against "all instances of capital punishment especially when it is politically motivated".

"For us it is not possible to support capital punishment by any country," he added.

"Saudi Arabia and Iran are our friends and we don't want them fighting because that's the last thing this region needs."


Sunni-Shia divide

  • The split arises from a dispute soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 over who should lead the Muslim community
  • Sunnis are estimated to make up between 85% and 90% of Muslims
  • Though the two branches have co-existed for centuries and share many fundamental beliefs and practices, differences lie in the fields of doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation

Sunnis and Shia: Islam's ancient schism


On Saturday, Saudi Arabia executed cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others after they were convicted of terror-related offences.

The move prompted an angry reaction from Iran. Protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the city of Mashhad before being driven back by police.

Riot police outside Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 3 Jan 2016

Saudi Arabia announced late on Sunday that it was cutting diplomatic relations with Iran after the storming of the embassy in Tehran.

It said all commercial and air traffic links were being cut and that Saudi citizens were banned from travelling to Iran.

Saudi UN ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said on Monday that the dispute could be resolved if Iran stopped "interfering in the affairs of other countries, including our own".

Riyadh has previously accused Iran of interfering in Arab affairs.

Speaking in New York, Mr Mouallimi said peace efforts in Syria and Yemen should not be affected by the spat but criticised Iran's contribution to the process.

"The Iranians even before the break of diplomatic relations have not been very supportive, not very positive in these peace efforts," he said.

"They have been taking provocative and negative positions... and I don't think the break in relations is going to dissuade them from such behaviour."

Bahrain and Sudan also severed relations with Iran on Monday, and the UAE has downgraded its diplomatic team.

Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy but has a majority Shia population, gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.

Youths in western Shia village of Karzakan, Bahrain. block streets during protests against Saudi Arabia's execution of Shia cleric. 4 Jan 2016

The Sudanese foreign ministry said its action was on response to "the barbaric attacks on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad".

On Monday, a White House spokesman called on both countries to "show some restraint and to not further inflame tensions that are on quite vivid display in the region".

But Iran's foreign ministry accused the Saudis of "continuing the policy of increasing tension and clashes in the region".

The row also affected global markets, sending oil and gold prices higher on Monday.

Source: bbc.com

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VW sued by US justice department

The US justice department is suing Volkswagen over the emissions scandal that saw the German car giant fit software in millions of cars to cheat emissions tests.

In September last year, following an investigation by US regulators, VW admitted fitting the so-called defeat device on 11 million vehicles globally.

The scandal has hit sales of VWs worldwide.

The company has put aside billions of euros to deal with the fallout.

The lawsuit, on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was filed on Monday in a federal court in Detroit, Michigan.

"The complaint alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles had illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA's standards, resulting in harmful air pollution," the filing said.

It also alleges that VW "violated" clean air laws by selling cars that were different in design from those originally cleared for sale by the EPA.

"With today's filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution," said assistant administrator Cynthia Giles for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action."

The department said the filing was just the first step in "bringing Volkswagen to justice".

The carmaker is also facing separate criminal charges, and a raft of class-action lawsuits filed by VW owners.

'Screwed up'

The EPA says that VW fitted many of its cars with a device that was able to recognise test conditions and adjust the engine settings accordingly, with the express purpose of giving distorted readings on nitrogen oxide emissions.

The company admitted to "totally screwing up", and there has been a shake-up in the management structure and personnel as a result. Martin Winterkorn resigned as chief executive and was replaced with Matthias Mueller, the former boss of Porsche.

The carmaker is currently conducting an internal investigation that it says will "leave no stone unturned".

The scandal has hit VW hard. It will begin recalling millions of cars worldwide soon, and has set aside €6.7bn (£4.6bn) to cover costs. That resulted in the company posting its first quarterly loss for 15 years, of €2.5bn in late October.

With the lawsuits piling up, experts say the final costs are likely to be much higher than that.

Source: bbc.com

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Libyan oil port of Sidra attacked by Islamic State

Islamic State (IS) fighters have clashed with guards as they tried to enter Libya's oil port of Sidra.

Two members of the Petrol Facilities Guard militia, which is defending Sidra, were reportedly killed.

The militants are said to have been pushed back, but IS says it now controls Bin Jawad, 30km (19 miles) west of Sidra on the road from its stronghold in Sirte.

In December, France said IS was aiming to control Libya's oil wells.

IS, which has been operating in Libya for about a year, failed to take Sidra in an attack last October.

Suicide attack

In Monday's attack, IS fighters first launched a suicide bomb attack at a checkpoint at the entrance to the town, the AFP news agency reports, and that was when the guards were killed.

AFP quotes a colonel from the Libyan army saying that the port entrance was then attacked by a convoy of 12 vehicles.

Libyan news website Libya's Channel is tweeting that seven people have been killed in all: The two guards, four IS members and one civilian.

Libya has descended into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In December, Libya's rival politicians signed a UN-brokered deal to form a unity government, but that has not yet been implemented.


Libya's rival power bases (as of August 2015)

map

Source: bbc.com

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South African Facebook post sparks #RacistsMustFall outrage

Comments by a white South African woman calling black people "monkeys" have sparked widespread outrage.

On Facebook, Penny Sparrow used the word to describe New Year's revellers on Durban's beach because of the mess she said they made.

She was condemned by many on social media and the hashtag #RacistsMustFall was trending on Twitter.

The South African Human Rights Commission is now investigating the comments, the News24 website reports.

Ms Sparrow took down the original post and replaced it with an apology saying that "everyone makes mistakes".

She tried to clarify her remarks in an interview with News24 saying: "I made the mistake of comparing them [black people] with monkeys. Monkeys are cute and they're naughty, but they [black people] don't see it that way, but I do because I love animals."

Leading politicians have also got involved in the row.

It emerged that Ms Sparrow is a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and its leader Mmusi Maimane tweeted that the "comments are racist. They are an insult to me and to our party."

The DA said in a statement that it has laid criminal charges against her "for infringing the dignity of all South Africans and for dehumanising black South Africans".

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula tweeted that Ms Sparrow was "an unrepentant racist".

An apartheid notice on a beach near Capetown, denoting the area for whites only

Spokesperson for the South African Human Rights Commission Isaac Mangena said that its own investigation could lead to legal steps, News24 reports.

"It is very concerning to the Commission that 22 years into democracy there are still comments and actions that incite and promote racism.

"These utterances have gone viral and angered many. They open the wounds of millions who were formerly oppressed by the apartheid government."

Apartheid, which legally enforced a racial hierarchy privileging white South Africans, ended in 1994 with the election of the country's first democratic government.

Source: bbc.com

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Ghana to get 'sin-free' Facebook alternative

A Ghanaian Christian group is to launch a "holy" social network alternative to Facebook which will be free of "un-Christian" content. 

"Social networks these days are filled with nude content and violence," the group LoveRealm said in a statement. 

"The site will be launched on 9 January and will ensure a holy social network experience by censoring and removing "un-Christian content," its CEO Yaw Ansong Jnr said.

Hundreds of Christians are being invited to use the app in a pre-launch event at the Pentecost Convention Center in the capital, Accra, to enable them make inputs and accommodate necessary modifications, the statement added.

Founders of the site hope that it will allow those struggling to keep the Christian faith to share weaknesses and confess their sins to one another.

Source: bbc.com

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Zinedine Zidane replaces Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid coach

Rafael Benitez has been sacked as manager of Real Madrid after just seven months in charge, with club legend Zinedine Zidane replacing him.

Spaniard Benitez, 55, was relieved of his duties following a meeting of the club's board on Monday.

Real B team coach Zidane, 43, has been promoted to first-team boss.

The Frenchman, a former Real player and World Cup winner, said: "I am going to put my heart and soul into this job so that everything works out well."

Benitez's final game was Sunday's 2-2 draw with Valencia, which left them third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.

Zidane is the 11th coach to be appointed in Florentino Perez's 12 years as club president across two spells. The length of his contract has not been made public.

His first match in charge will be Saturday's home La Liga game against Deportivo la Coruna.

Benitez's Real Madrid record

Season Managed Won Drew Lost Win %

 2015-16

   25

  17

  5

  3

  68

Why sack Benitez?

Perez is yet to explain why the board of directors took the "difficult" decision to dismiss Benitez, who once coached the club's youth teams.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, he said: "Let me make clear that this is a great professional and a great person.

"I want to acknowledge the dedication of Benitez during his time as coach of Real Madrid."

Benitez lost only three of his 25 games in charge of Los Blancos and also took them into the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare.

An 8-0 home win over Malmo and a 10-2 victory against nine-man Rayo Vallecano - the first time Real had reached double figures since 1960 - were amongst his most notable successes, but it would seem a combination of factors both on and off the pitch led to his downfall.

One was the 4-0 home defeat by Barcelona in the first El Clasico of the season in November. His defensive tactics were also criticised,  while there were reports of a rift with star forward Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez

Benitez managed Real Madrid's second team for two years from 1993

The right replacement?

For a man with no experience of managing at the top level, Zidane's appointment could be considered a risk - but he has long been seen as a future Real boss.

Zidane has been coach of the club's B team - who are second in the Spanish third tier - since 2014. Prior to that he was an integral member of the backroom staff under then Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, who led the team to 'La Decima' - the club's 10th European Cup.

During his playing career, the Frenchman was one of Real's key 'Galacticos' - a label given to the expensive players signed by Perez during his first spell as president in the early to mid-2000s.

In 2001, Real paid Juventus a then world record fee of £45.8m for the midfielder, who had already won the World Cup and European Championship.

At the Bernabeu, he played alongside players such as Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo, and also featured in the same midfield as England captain David Beckham.

In the five years before his retirement, he helped Real win the league in 2003 and was named Fifa world player of the year for a third time.

But perhaps his defining moment came during the 2002 Champions League final, when he scored a stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park.

Source: bbc.com

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Neymar: Barcelona star says he did not hear alleged racist abuse

Barcelona forward Neymar said he was not aware of the racist chanting allegedly aimed at him during Saturday's derby at Espanyol.

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta told Spanish media  after the 0-0 draw that the 23-year-old Brazilian was subjected to abuse from a supporter.

Neymar is reported to have told TV station La Sexta:  "I did not hear anything.

"It is difficult for things to bother me, I just play football."

Espanyol president Joan Collet said: "I was there, just like 30,000 people and nothing happened.

"The whole thing blows up for one shout, but there was nothing generalised, it's a lie."

Source: bbc.com

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Denmark responds to Swedish border checks with own controls

Denmark has tightened its border controls with Germany, hours after Sweden imposed similar measures to deter migrants entering from Denmark.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said the decision was "not a happy moment" but Denmark "must respond" to Sweden's restrictions.

Danish police will carry out border spot checks for the next 10 days.

The two countries are the latest to impose controls in Europe's Schengen passport-free travel area.

In a letter to the European Commission, Inger Stojberg, Denmark's integration minister, said the controls would focus initially on the border with Germany but may be extended to all of Denmark's borders.

She said the measures taken by Sweden meant Denmark was "faced with a serious risk to public order and internal security because a very large number of illegal immigrants may be stranded in the Copenhagen area".

The new controls would not cause a problem for "ordinary" Danes and Germans, Mr Rasmussen said.

"We are introducing temporary border controls, but in a balanced way," he said. "If the European Union cannot protect the external border you will see more and more countries forced to introduce temporary border controls."

Sweden's decision means all travellers wanting to cross the Oresund bridge from Denmark will be refused entry without the necessary documents.

Rail commuters heading to Sweden will have to change trains at Copenhagen Airport and go through ID checkpoints. The move is expected to cause serious disruption to traffic flows from Denmark.

Oresund Bridge

An estimated 20,000 commuters daily cross the Oresund bridge, which connects the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund with the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

Direct journeys from Copenhagen's main railway station to Sweden will no longer be available and the changes are expected to add around 30 minutes to the current 40-minute commute.

Danish Transport Minister Hans Christian Schmidt called the checks "extremely annoying".

'Not a deterrent'

Holly Snaith, a British academic who commutes from Malmo to her job at Copenhagen University, told the BBC that the changes had added at least half an hour to her journey.

"We are all on tenterhooks hoping that the Swedish government will resolve things soon," she said.

Nicholas Bean, who commutes from Malmo to his marketing job in Copenhagen, said: "Travellers aren't happy about the Swedish government's action. There has to be a better way to handle the problem."

Sweden is trying to reduce the number of migrants entering the country. Some 160,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden last year, the highest number in Europe except for Germany. Most were from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Responding to the developments, Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for Germany's foreign ministry told the AFP news agency: "Freedom of movement is an important principle, one of the biggest achievements [in the EU] in recent years. Schengen is very important but it is in danger."

Germany introduced border controls of its own on the Austrian frontier in September, and last week Norway, which is not an EU member but belongs to the Schengen area, said refugees coming from other Schengen countries without visas would be turned back.

A similar set of border closures in eastern Europe in October left thousands of migrants stranded in poor weather conditions.

Source: bbc.com

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Health: Diet debate: Low-fat or high-fat - does it matter?

Is fat the great evil of our time responsible for seducing us into an early, extra-wide, grave with its delicious succulence?

Or is it as misunderstood as it is mouth-watering? And in need of a welcome return to our plates?

As the campaign against sugar has ratcheted up over the past year or two, there have been growing voices trying to redeem fat.

For decades it has been labelled public enemy number one and a "low-fat" food label is used to convince us that what we're buying is healthy.

The problem is low-fat can mean vegetables or just clever marketing for "we took out all the fat and then pumped it full of sugar".

So there I was having a moment in the supermarket - a tub of low-fat yoghurt in one hand and a full-fat one in other - pondering which was actually better for me.

If I had a third hand, it would have been scratching my head. And I'm not alone.

What to buy?

"When there's a huge wall of yoghurt, even I find it paralysing," said Susan Jebb, a nutrition professor at the University of Oxford.

When you take the fat out of products, particularly dry ones like cake or biscuits, then something has to replace it.

"It tends to be sugar - the calories in digestives and low-fat digestives are almost the same," Prof Jebb continued.

"Lots of yoghurts are rammed with sugar, that is the thing that annoys me about yoghurt."

There is a simple answer with yoghurt - a few brands are both low in fat and sugar, although I need to chuck in a bit of fruit to make it palatable.

But what about the case that we should be eating more fat?

Some have argued that the message about cutting all fats when discussing bad saturated fats from processed foods was oversimplified.

While others have made the case that favouring carbohydrates in our diet - particularly refined carbs like white bread and pasta, is playing havoc with our hormones to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and making us pile on the pounds.


More from our Diet Debate series:

Read: Is breakfast a waste of time?

Watch: How healthy is your breakfast?


Fatty joy?

We do all need fat in our diet - it contains essential fatty acids and is important for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E.

The question has always been: "How much fat should we eat?" And the mantra has been low-fat, high-carb.

The World Health Organization advises that between 30% and 35% of our calories should come from fat arguing there is "no probable or convincing evidence" that the total amount of fat in our diet is altering the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

So when it comes to the total amount of fat (and there is a separate argument when we come to consider different types of fat) it's really a question of how it affects our waistlines.

And fat is certainly calorific.

A gram of fat is worth around nine calories - twice the amount as carbohydrate or protein at four calories per gram.

Too much fat, like too much of anything, will make you put on weight and it is incredibly easy to overeat calorie dense foods.

So it appears to be an easy target for people trying to lose weight.

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/140CB/production/_87332128_thinkstockphotos-180258510.jpg

"There is very good evidence that if you cut down on total fat it causes a small reduction in weight, but it's not big," said Dr Lee Hooper from the University of East Anglia in the UK.

She conducted a large review of 32 separate trials, involving around 54,000 people.

It showed people who shifted between 5% and 10% of their calories away from fats lost around 2kg during the studies.

However, she is not convinced the weight-loss is actually down to fat but more a result of people thinking more about what they eat and avoiding burgers, ready meals and other processed foods.

"I suspect they'd do exactly the same thing if they targeted sugar," she concluded.

So how do diets compare when we target carbs?

Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States reviewed 53 weight loss trials involving 68,128 people.

The results, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed that both low-carb and low-fat approaches led to decent weight-loss.

But those eating relatively more fat actually lost marginally more weight.

Fatty foods

Dr Deirdre Tobias, who led that study, told me: "If you're trying to reduce your calories and you take out the fat then you get a lot of bang for your buck, but that strategy clearly doesn't play out.

"Fat has been villainised because there's a mentality that 'fat makes you fat'. I think our evidence pretty much puts a nail in that coffin."

She is not saying that carbs are the villain instead, but that the best diet is the one you can actually stick to - some people would find it pretty easy to give up on white bread and pasta while others would find it impossible.

But she did warn that focusing on simply avoiding fat risked missing out on known beneficial foods - such as nuts, oily fish and olive oil - or convincing yourself that a low-fat muffin is healthy.

Cutting carbohydrates rather than the fat has also shown some benefit in patients with type-2 diabetes, at least for a short while.

When refined carbs are digested they rapidly lead to a spike in blood sugar levels and in turn of the hormone insulin. People with type 2 have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels so preventing the spike could help in theory.

Although studies show the advantage of cutting carbs was not sustained in the long-term.

Rethink required?

In the UK the total amount of fat being eaten is broadly in line with recommendations, but with slightly more saturated fat than advised.

Dr Hooper concluded: "I would be saying we don't need to be cutting down on fat, but we do need to think of the type of fat."

That's an issue we'll consider on Wednesday when we ask: "Is butter back?"

But clearly there is never going to be health advice to just pour cream down our throats and polish off all the pies and biscuits we can.

Even drowning a salad in olive oil could lead to weight gain.

Going overboard on fat, just as having too much sugar or refined carbohydrate, is a bad thing. Sugar is just stealing the headlines at the moment.

"The reality is that nutrition comes and goes in waves, we've had a fat wave and we're for sure in a sugar frenzy," says Prof Jebb.

She says she worries "enormously" when people reduce all the nation's health problems to being "all about fat or all about sugar".

We need to think about both.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Let Ghanaians Know What EC Told You – Ben Ephson Uges NPP

Pollster Ben Ephson has commended the Electoral Commission(EC) for duly replying the opposition New Patriotic Party in its 25 page report to the party regarding the contention on the current voters register.

Ephson said the commission did a good job by handing such document that contains detailed response of why a decision that dismisses the call for a new voters roll was taken at the long run.

The EC has announced that arguments for a new register were unconvincing, and cannot be accepted.

 
The committee set up by the Electoral Commission to look into proposals for a new voters’ register shot down the arguments for a new register, and emphasised that such arguments does not sound convincing and won’t be a better course for the country.

Commenting on the EC’s position taken on the voters register in an interaction with Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM Monday, Ephson believes due diligence was done in the decision taken on the voters register.

“I’m not surprised at all the decision taken by the EC on the voters register. And even more revealing is the 25 page report to the NPP by the EC. The EC did a professional job by replying to the NPP, along side the press release to the public.

“I’m just hoping the NPP will be fair to all Ghanaians and those who supported their decision, and disseminate the reply with the same vigour and alacrity it has had in its campaign for a new voters register.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

 

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Political Parties Divided Over EC's Decision Not To Compile New Voters' Register

Political parties are divided over the EC's decision not to compile a new voters' register following the recommendations of the five member Committee headed by Justice VCRAC Crabbe to look into allegations of a bloated register.

The NPP had alleged that there are over 75,000 foreign names in the Voters' register and called for a new one to be compiled for this year’s elections.

This prompted the Electoral Commission to set up a five member Committee to receive and compile submissions by political parties, Civil Society groups and individuals.

According to the Electoral Commission, the Committee found the arguments for a new voters' register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters' register.

The Commission says it accepts the five member committee recommendations and will engage stakeholders to rather audit the voters' register.

According to the NDC who were against getting a new voters’ register, they have been vindicated.

But the Progressive Peoples Party's General Secretary, Kofi Asamoah Siaw says the decision by the EC may affect the credibility of this year's elections.

The Flagbearer of the PNC, Dr Edward Mahama says the PNC will meet to take a decision on the outcome of the EC's position to come out with an audited voters' register.

Dr Mahama told Radio Ghana that he thought the EC would have come out with a new voters' register which would be acceptable to all parties involved in the 2016 general elections.

On what he is doing to bring party faithful together, Dr Mahama said a general meeting is being planned to discuss how to unite the party.

Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee of the NPP is meeting on the EC's decision not to compile a new voter's register for this year's elections.

A source at the party's headquarters told Radio Ghana that the NPP will soon organize a media briefing or issue a statement on its position after Monday's meeting.

The EC last year issued a statement that was based on the recommendation of the five member committee that supervised the public forum on the call for a new voters' register.

The EC says it is not going to compile a new one but rather audit the old register.

In a related development, Pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance says it rejects the five member committee report that recommended that the EC should not compile a new voters’ register but to audit the old one.

The convener and leader of the Let My Vote Count Alliance, David Asante says the group is going to stage a number of protests and finally head to the court to compel the EC to rescind its decision.

Source: GBC

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The Noise Makers Should Shut Up - Says Wereko-Brobby

Suspended member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby has described as 'needless' the decision by some political parties and pressure groups to compel the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter’s register for this year’s general elections.

According to him, any attempt to resort to the law court to force the Commission to compile a new electoral roll will be an exercise in futility.

Dr. Wereko-Brobby's comment is in reaction to a threat by pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) to seek legal redress if the Commission fails to heed to their call.

The EC’s decision to keep the current register is consistent with a report by a five-member committee it set up to deliberate proposals for a new voters’ register.

The committee among other things says it "finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register."

But National Coordinator of the pressure group, David Asante insists the current register is flawed hence will use all legal means to have it changed.

Speaking on Asempa FM Monday, Dr. Wereko-Brobby said the pressure group has no locus to demand the EC change the register.

In his view, the Commission is an independent body therefore no group or political party can compel it to do its bidden.

“All the people making noise for a new voters register have no locus; they should shut up” he fumed.

Tarzan as he is popularly called opined that not even the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) can put pressure on the EC to change the register.

Dr. Wereko-Brobby urged pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) pressure groups like Let My Vote Count Alliance to stop the "empty noise" and concentrate on helping the party win power.

Source: adomonline.com

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NPP Adopts Room-To-Room Campaign At Manhyia South

Executives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Manhyia South Constituency in Kumasi have launched an election campaign dubbed, ‘Room-to-Room geared towards increasing the party’s votes in the area.

Announcing the new campaign, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the NPP MP for Manhyia South, said the ‘house-to-house’ campaign of the party in his constituency during the 2012 electioneering season could not help the NPP to win the polls.

He stated that the NPP therefore decided to launch the ‘room-to-room’ campaign in 2016 because it has the potential of helping the party to attract more votes for Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP presidential candidate, to become president of Ghana in this year’s general elections.

As part of the new campaign strategy, the Manhyia South MP, popularly known as ‘Napo’, said the constituency executives would be divided into groups and assigned various areas.

According to him, each group would be given a number of households where they would enter rooms of the inhabitants and thoroughly explain the plans of Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP to transform Ghana in the coming years.

“In 2012, we adopted house-to-house campaign and even though it was effective then, the NPP could not win the presidential elections to implement better programmes to expedite Ghana’s development.

“In 2016, we are going for what I term as ‘room-to-room’ campaign, whereby party executives, including myself, are supposed to enter rooms of individuals to market the NPP to the electorate so that we will win the elections massively.”

Napo made the statement at Dichemso Electoral Area during his famous ‘Meet Your MP’, programme, which has so far led him to most electoral areas in Manhyia South Constituency to interact with his constituents.

Ghana is on its way into the abyss due to bad governing style of the NDC administration and NPP members across the country should take the impending election very seriously by campaigning vigorously for Nana Akufo-Addo.

According to him, Nana Akufo-Addo is the only hope for Ghana therefore the citizenry, notably NPP members, should support Nana Addo with their resources, energy and time so that he would win the polls and restore hope to Ghanaians.

Source: Daily Guide

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I would have kicked against Nyaho Tamakloe’s suspension if …- John Boadu

The Acting National Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) John Boadu has said the suspension of Dr Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, a founding member of the party, came to him as a surprise.

According to him, he would have kicked against the suspension if he had earlier gotten wind of the intended punitive measure.

The decision to suspend Dr Tamakloe was taken by the Regional Chairman of the party Ishmael Ashitey following a petition brought before the party by a member in the Ayawaso Constituency.

The petitioner, Stephen Asante, accused Dr Tamakloe of conducting himself in a way that undermined the peace and unity within the party.

Dr Tamakloe is alleged to have attacked the party’s flagbearer of not doing enough to resolve the crisis in the party which has led to the suspension of three national officers including the Chairman, Paul Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong.

The Regional Chairman Ishmael Ashitey wrote to Dr Tamakloe, announcing his suspension from the party. The Regional executives are however yet to hear the side of Dr Nyaho Tamakloe.

The suspension letter in part, says a committee has been set up by the Regional Executive which will investigate the matter and give Dr Tamakloe an opportunity to respond to the claims made against him.

But speaking to Fiifi Banson on Kasapa FM, Mr John Boadu stated that though he supports maintaining discipline in the party at all times, it is important that the party takes a look at the punitive measures being taken against indisciplined members of the party.

“The suspension of Nyaho Tamakloe took me by surprise, if I had known about it earlier; I wouldn’t have advised that considering the timing. We had taken some of these disciplinary measures against some members who misconducted themselves just before last year ended.”

He added: “I have asked all the regional executives across the country to furnish us with the status of all disciplinary cases before them so that going forward the party will know how handle these  matters.”

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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FULL TEXT: What the NPP wrote to the EC on Voters Register & Their Reply

December 30, 2015
The General-Secretary
The New Patriotic Party
Head office, Accra.

Dear Sir,

REQUESTS FROM THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY FOR A NEW REGISTER

Please find below a recap of the main points made in your letters and submissions; the chronology of relevant events since the receipt of the first letter; and the responses of the Electoral Commission to each of the issues raised by your Party. On the 25th of July, 2015 your Party supported her request for a new voters’ register with the following allegations:

1. That the case of Abu Ramadan and Another vs Electoral Commission and Attorney General disallowed the use of National Health
Insurance Authority (NHIA) Identification Cards as proof of qualification to register, making the use of same for that purpose unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
2. That the EC has refused to undertake proper auditing and comprehensive de-duplication of the 2012 biometric register with the required transparency which stakeholders demanded.

3. That there is disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle.
4. That analysis of the 2010 population census and the 2012 biometric registration reveal several districts where the number of registered voters is in excess of the total population census figure for those districts.

5. That the 2012 register has a voter population that is 56.2% of the total population of Ghana, which is exceedingly high and unrealistic compared to other African countries.
6. That there are several calls by CSOs and FBOs raising doubts about the credibility of the register used for the 2012 national polls.
A further Petition received on August 18, 2015 contained the
following additional allegations:

1. That there are 76,000 Togolese nationals onGhana’s voters’ register.
2. That the Register contains pictures that have been edited.
3. That about 900 names on an entire polling station contain pictures scanned into system as evidenced by staple marks.
At an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting held on August 21, 2015, it was agreed by all parties that due to District Level Elections scheduled for September 1, 2015 and the need to hear all stakeholders on the voters’ Register, all interested Parties were to submit their position on the Register by September 22, 2015. Petitions were received from thirty-four stakeholders (including sixteen political parties and many CSOs and citizens of Ghana) and were duly considered and circulated subsequently at the Forum.
On the September 22, 2015 another petition was received from your Party with the following further and additional
allegations:
1. That there are 2096 multiple registrations on the Register, involving:
a. cases of double and multiple registrations with multiple photographs;
b. double and multiple registrations with multiple voter ID numbers;
c. same registration details and photographs in different Polling Stations. On September 22, 2015 the EC announced the setting up of an Independent Panel of Eminent Ghanaians to evaluate all submissions received and examine all allegations arising
therefrom.

On September 30, 2015 the IPAC meeting agreed to hold a public forum on the 29th and 30th October, 2015 in order to
publicly address the issues concerning the Register. The Public Forum, held in the form of a public hearing, was successfully undertaken on those dates.
At the Forum, and on October 29, 2015, your Party made the following additional allegations:
1. That there are Minors, with age zero on the Register; and
2. That there are no residential addresses provided on the Register.
In addition, on October 3, 2015, with donor support, the Electoral Commission procured the services of an independent consultant to examine the Biometric Voters Register. October 19, 2015 the Commission wrote to the NPP to request for a copy of the Togolese register and the Shikakope Register used in the analysis contained in their petition of August 18,2015.
Again, on 6 November 2015, the Commission received a response from the NPP submitting a soft copy of the Togo register and the Shikakope register dated September 1, 2015. The Commission again wrote to the Togolese EC on November 10, 2015, requesting a copy of the Togolese register for examination.

The Commission again on November 11, 2015 wrote to the NPP seeking clarification from the NPP on the Shikakope Register dated September 1, 2015 which was the basis for the petition of 18 August, 2015 and further requested for an update on the analysis of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso registers as stated in the NPP petition of August 18, 2015. In a meeting on November 18, 2015 with officials of the NPP, the party clarified the register used for the Shikakope analysis and further confirmed that there was no further update on theanalysis on the Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire registers.

On November 21, 2015, a second version of the Shikakope register was submitted by the NPP. The EC on November 24, 2015 submitted another request to the Togolese EC for verification of the Togolese register
provided by the NPP.

On November 27, 2015, the EC received a response from the Togo EC stating that they were unable to confirm the authenticity of the register submitted by the NPP as the Togolese register is a security document containing the private
information of Togolese citizens. Finally, on December 15, 2015, the EC received the final report from the Consultant on the Independent Review of the Biometric Voters’ Register and on December 21, 2015, the final report from the independent panel of Eminent Ghanaians set up to look into the issue.
Following the receipt of the report of the Panel, the EC informed IPAC on December 22, 2015 of the receipt of the
report and requested time to study the report and revert to IPAC and the general public on the Commission’s position
and the contents of the Panel’s report.

EC RESPONSE AND OUTCOME OF INVESTIGATIONS INTO CLAIMS AND ALLEGATIONS MADE BY THE NPP
Allegation 1: Abu Ramadan and Anor vs Electoral Commission & Attorney General disallowed the use of NHIA cards as proof of qualification to register making the use of same for that purpose unconstitutional, void and of no effect.
EC position:
In the Abu Ramadan case, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of NHIA cards, in their current form, was insufficient as proof of citizenship and consequently, the Electoral Commission (EC) was directed to stop accepting same as proof of citizenship for voter registration exercises. Nowhere in the ruling did the Supreme court nullify all registrations by voters who presented NHIA cards as proof of citizenship. The Court in the course of the proceedings, declined the plaintiff’s request to cancel all such registrations. The EC shares the view of the SC that it would be fair and proper for all such persons to also be heard prior to the invalidation of their registration. The view of the EC is therefore that the Abu Ramadan ruling cannot be the basis for the creation of a new register. The
current challenge procedures under CI 72 are sufficient to deal with all registered voters who presented NHIA cards as proof of citizenship. Such voters must also be given the opportunity to present additional proof of citizenship if available, before
they are struck off the register.

Allegation 2: EC has refused to undertake proper auditing and comprehensive de-duplication of the 2012 biometric register with the required transparency which stakeholders demanded.
EC position:
Guided by the need for stakeholder cooperation and support, the EC compiled the Biometric Register with extensive interactions with the political parties. Discussions covered issues of procurement, field operations and the exhibition of the register throughout 2011 and 2012. Political parties provided representation on the technical and legal committees that considered and drafted the appropriate laws for the registration and the verification of voters. The EC displayed the Provisional Voters Register (PVR) in all registration centers after the mass registration in 2012 and in 2014 after the limited registration, to offer voters and persons qualified to be registered the opportunity to:
• Verify particulars
• Object to ineligible names in the PVR.
Additional to the verification of voters, Stakeholders (Politica lParties)
• participated in adjudication of registration challenges through the district registration review committee
• participated in adjudication of suspected cases of multiple registrations after de-duplication
• objected against inclusion of names in the register during exhibition of the PVR.
After the 2012 elections, the software has also been upgraded to ensure de-duplication using the biometric data as well as biographic data of voters. Accordingly, it is the view of the EC, that working with the political parties, the register has been progressively updated and de-duplicated since 2012. Over 150,000 names have been removed and the EC will continue to work with the political parties and all stakeholders to clean the register and undertake further de-duplication. The allegation by the NPP is therefore inaccurate.
Allegation 3: Disparity in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle.
EC position:

The process of compiling the voters’ register is divided into 4 stages;
• Stage 1: Collection of biographic data (using polling stations as registration centers)
• Stage 2: Compilation of the Provisional Voters Register (PVR) from collected data
• Stage 3: Exhibition of the PVR (for scrutiny, correction of personal details, inclusions and objections)
• Stage 4: Production of the Final Voters Register (after corrections arising from the exhibition). This clearly means that until all the stages have been completed, all figures related to the register are provisional. In many cases the stages overlap due to the duration of adjudication of challenges and objections after registration (stage 1) and Exhibition (stage3). Indeed in a few cases requests are made for inclusion just before the production of the PVR and being mindful of the ruling of the Tehn Addy case, the Commission usually takes action on requests when possible. The practice is to provide information on the voter numbers, as the EC goes through the various stages, to the political parties. In the case of the compilation of the 2012 Biometric Voter Register the process was as follows;
Stage 1:
In a briefing to Parliament after collecting the biographic data of applicants’ in the mass registration, the Chairman of the EC reported the results of the registration as follows;
i) Mass registration (4 phases) 24th March – 5th
May 2012
PHASE TOTAL
1 4,817,561
2 3,710,076
3 2,871,530
4 2,229,650
Total 13,628,817
ii) Registration of Prisoners
REGION      # of INMATES               REGISTERED
Western          1,268                              28
Central              1,687                           35
Greater Accra      352                            36
Volta                 879                              2
Eastern             4415                            201
Ashanti             2612                            88
Brong Ahafo     1093                             24
Northern          497                               30
Upper East       229                               28
Upper West        199                             4
Total               13,231                         476
iii) Mop –up Registration
REGION                                   CENTERS VOTERS
Western                                        4,660
Greater Accra                                1,555
Volta                                             237
Eastern                                         149
Ashanti                                         1,185
Northern                                       6,178
Upper East                                    2,506
Upper West                                   342
Total                                           16,812
He further stated that he expected the total figures to go up because of wrongly coded entries and planned late
registrations that was to cover:
• Ghanaians abroad who were eligible for registration (Security Personnel on peace-keeping duties, diplomats and students on government scholarship)
• Persons whose registrations were challenged and were under review

Stages 2 and 3

Following de-duplication and correction of the several wrongly coded entries recorded during registration, a PVR with total registered Voters of14,060,573 was displayed at all
registration centers. During the Exhibition 8,955,882 voters representing63.7% visited their centers to check their personal details in the register. The addition of late registrations and receipt of substantial returns from the adjudication of registration challenges and exhibition objections increased the number of registered voters on the PVR to 14,158,890.
Stage 4;
The total number of registered Voters for the FVR was 14,031,793. This outcome was as a result of the final decisions to recommend inclusions/deletions from the various adjudication committees across the country. Consequently, only one register was used by the EC for the 2012 elections and the EC did not present different registers to political parties during the election cycle.
Allegation 4: Analysis of the 2010 population census and the 2012 biometric registration reveal several districts where number of registered voters are in excess of the total population census figure for those districts.
EC position:
The general connection of a Population Census to Biometric Voters’ Registration is the usefulness of the census results in providing a basis for the planning decisions in a voter registration exercise.
Questions such as:
• Where to locate registration centers?
• What are the number of applicants to expect at the various centers?
• What quantity of materials to distribute to the various centers? are usually answered by checking with the latest Housing and Population census figures. The projections calculated from these base figures help in the planning effort. A simple comparison of registration numbers and census figures at the district and constituency level even in the same year may not result in the same outcomes. In the case of the 2010 Census and the 2012 Biometric Registration, the difference in figures in all the districts in Ghana may be on account of the following;
• Population growth (estimated annual growth rate for Ghana is 2.5%)
• Tendency of voters and candidates to go to their home towns and districts to register
• Draw of new economic activities
• Non-comprehensive nature of census (based on estimates)
• Transfers and postings of Public Officers, teachers, security personnel, etc.

The EC is therefore of the view that this allegation cannot be the basis for the creation of a new register.

 

Allegation 5: 2012 register has a voter population that is 56.2% of the total population of Ghana, which is
exceedingly high and unrealistic compared to other African countries

EC position:
The measure of Voter Population of a country depends usually on the following factors; voting age, demography of country,
political environment and coverage, laws guiding Voter registration exercises and other socio-economic factors. These determinants differ from country to country and as such simply comparing voter populations without situating the figures properly within context, does not provide a clear picture of the situation.
In comparing 2015 figures from Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, the voter populations of the countries were measured
as follows:

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx
The reasons for Ghana’s relatively high score are:
• Processes for challenging registration of prospective voters in other jurisdictions are more effective.
• The voter ID card is the de-facto national ID card in Ghana, hence the higher numbers due to enhanced demand for it as a means of identification.
• The existence of a compulsory national ID system in most comparative countries.
• No automatic linkages of voter registration to the births and deaths registry in Ghana, hence a high number of deceased persons still on the register. Consequently, an alleged high percentage of voters on Ghana’s register simpliciter cannot be the basis for the creation of a new register.
Allegation 6: Calls by CSOs and FBOs for a new Register raising doubts about the credibility of the Register used for the 2012 polls.
EC position:
CSOs and FBOs who raised doubts about the register, based their calls largely on the submissions and allegations made in the media by the NPP and other affiliate groups. Indeed at the Voters’ Register Forum, most of the political parties and CSOs were inclined towards a cleaning of the current register rather than the creation of a new register. Further, whilst acknowledging the immense contribution of CSOs and FBOs to our national governance, the Commission is of the view that critical decisions to be made by the Commission should be based on the national interest and sound bases and not merely public calls by CSOs and FBOs
for particular outcomes, however well intentioned they may be. It is the considered view of the Commission, that allegations made by all stakeholders must be examined and subjected to requisite analysis, and so mere allegations and doubts on the credibility of the Register should not be the basis for the creation of a new register.
Allegation 7: 76,000 Togolese on Ghana’s voter register
EC position:
In examining the identity and status of the 76,000 Togolese alleged to be on Ghana’s Register, the EC found that they were all duly registered during the mass registration period in 2012. Most of the voters were registered in districts in the Volta and Northern Regions. These districts include Keta, Ketu South, Ketu North, Akatsi South, Akatsi North, Adaklu, Agotime Ziope, Ho Municipality, Kpando Municipality and Tatale/Sanguli. Our conclusion from this examination is that the voters are duly qualified under the laws of Ghana to be on Ghana’s Register. The NPP did not provide any proof of the citizenship status of these persons and did not show any proof that they were not entitled to be registered in Ghana. Registration on the register of another country, under the current laws of Ghana, does not take away one’s eligibility to be on the Ghanaian Register.

The Commission was also unable to confirm the authenticity of the Togolese Register used by the NPP in their analysis as the Electoral Commission of Togo declined to provide the EC with a copy of its register or confirm the authenticity of the soft copy of the register used by the NPP. It is important to observe that in the petition of the NPP dated August 18, 2015, the party claimed to have based its analysis on copies of the register displayed in Togo prior to their elections. However, upon request from the EC for the register used in the analysis, the NPP presented a soft copy of the Togo Register which the Togolese Electoral Commission says it had not given out to any third parties.
Finally, Ghana’s Constitution permits dual nationality and admits the possibility of acquiring citizenship through many modes such as naturalization, adoption, and marriage. It would therefore be improper and unconstitutional to simply remove the names of persons on the register on the mere allegation that they appear on the register of another country without giving them the opportunity to provide proof of their citizenship of Ghana. Seeking to remove names of persons who appear on the registers of Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in our view, would be an arbitrary and discriminatory application of the law. Would the Commission therefore be required to obtain the registers of all countries of the world and remove the names of persons who appear on such registers as well as Ghana’s? Further, at a subsequent meeting between the Commission and the NPP on November 18 2015, the NPP stated that it could not provide an update on the analysis of the Togolese register (which in the party’s petition of August 18, 2015 the party claimed only ten percent of the analysis had been completed). At the said meeting, the NPP also informed the Commission that it had discontinued the analyses of the Burkinabe and Ivorian Voter Registers. It is the view of the EC that the allegation by the NPP regarding the presence of 76,000 Togolese on Ghana’s Register is therefore unsubstantiated and not supported by the citizenship laws of Ghana.
Allegation 8: Edited pictures on register
EC position:
The Biometric Register has multiple layers of data protection and integrity assurance and does not permit the possibility of pictures on the register being edited. The consultant’s report on the Independent Review of the Biometric Voters Register also supports the position that this is not possible and that the system has adequate integrity and has not been compromised. We would be happy to share the Consultant’s report with the NPP.

Allegation 9: About 900 names on an entire polling station with pictures scanned into system as evidenced by staple marks .
EC position:
It is untrue that all the registrations at the Shikakope- Apekuitome Polling Station are fictitious. It is further untrue that there are staple marks on the pictures and that these pictures were scanned into the system. Two holes in the Red background cloth used for capturing photos during the mass registration period in 2012 have been mistaken or alleged by the NPP to be staple pin marks
observed in the register of Shikakope- Apekuitome Polling Station(D020902) in the Ketu South district. An enlargement of the pictures clearly shows the holes in the red cloth used as background for the photos during the registration exercise. Further checks in the voter registration database confirm the voters were properly and legally registered. Their forms 1A and 1C are available for inspection. The NPP also had agents at the registration centres during the registration exercise. Further, their full biometric and biographic information are available on the system, as well as the dates and times of registration. A few samples from the register are inserted below (names have been removed to protect privacy of voters).
In addition, the independent BVR expert brought in by theCommission has confirmed the validity of these registrations, the integrity of the BVR system and that further, photos cannot be scanned into the system to create a voter registration. All registrations must be generated via the BVR kits, with live pictures.

 

Voter ID: 9592014428
REGISTRATION DATE: 05-05-2012 7:49:17 AM
Full Name: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Polling Station Code : D020902

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx

Allegation 10: Cases of double and multiple registrations with multiple photographs.
EC position:
It has been demonstrated that the system was capable of removing over 150,000 multiple registrations from the register. It was further demonstrated that there is a clear, multi-level transparent procedure of Adjudication when humans check the machines’ findings. It was also demonstrated that there are very few cases of multiple registrations which resulted from either: Human error, system allowed error margin or insufficient biometric data (no fingerprints were captured or low quality fingerprints). The magnitude of multiple registrations in the current Register is very acceptable by any standard (estimated at hundreds in the entire register of 14.8 million people). The register does not have the multiple registration challenge that is being alleged. As stated in several fora by the Commission, there are a few cases of multiple registrations still in the register. These duplicates are in the register for the following reasons:
• Accuracy level of AFIS (the biometric software) engine is 99.98% (as per specifications)
• Insufficient Biometric data (Voters who registered with less than 6 fingers)
• Low quality fingerprints
• Human error during Adjudication processes The EC has introduced programmes to eliminate these multiple registrations. These include:
• Installation of a De-duplication system that matches biometric and biographic data. This ensures that duplicates of Voters with no (or insufficient) biometric data are detected during exhibition of the register.
• Upgrading of AFIS (software) and Voter Registration systems
• Establishing a better adjudication process with the assistance of political parties at IPAC. In our view, 2,096 alleged multiple registrations out of over 14 million entries are in line with duplicates expected to pass through the system. A percentage of less than 0.02% should not be the basis for the replacement of the entire Register.
Allegation 11: Double and multiple registrations with multiple voter ID numbers;
EC position:
This is a false allegation as shown below. And cases of multiple registrations, have been explained in the preceding Allegation.

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx

 

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx

Allegation 12: Same registration details and photographs in different Polling Stations.
EC position:
This is a clear case of multiple registration with systems in place and appropriate facilities to detect and expunge

.
Allegation 13: Minors with age zero on register
EC position:
A software bug in the voter registration program caused the system to produce these incorrect entries. The error affected 120 entries. The bug has been found and fixed. A software bug affecting 120 entries in a register with over 14 million entries cannot in our view be the basis for the creation of a new register.
Allegation 14: No residential addresses on register
EC position:
The EC collects residential addresses of all applicants during registration. The aim for collecting this data is to make it available to political parties and the public for purposes of campaigning and cleaning of the roll. Concerns about handing over addresses of every adult Ghanaian to third parties have stalled its publication. The Commission is studying the issues of privacy as against its desire to have it published as expressed in law to make a

EC npp response-31-12-15.docx

determination that will be satisfactory to all parties.
CONCLUSION
It is the considered view of the Electoral Commission that a good case for the need for a new Register has not been made
by the NPP. The Commission further wishes to point out that the 2012 Register was created with the active collaboration of all political stakeholders in Ghana. Indeed, the NPP contested the 2012 general elections on the basis of the same register and filed a Supreme Court petition against the outcome of the presidential election as declared by the EC. In that petition, the NPP sought for its candidate be declared the winner of the 2012 presidential elections contested on the very same Register. The NPP as well as other political parties collaborated with the EC in the process of updating the Register during the 2014 limited registration and exhibition process. That process essentially updated the 2012 Biometric register which the NPP now alleges to be flawed. In addition, the NPP and other political parties contested the recent Talensi and Amenfi-West by-elections and expressed confidence in the outcomes of both elections, based on the current Register. Further, 19,527 citizens of Ghana contested the 2015 district assembly elections, and 39,682 candidates contested the 2015 unit committee elections based on the current register. The Commission received no complaints on the quality of the Register during these by-elections and the District Assembly Elections.
Finally, the request for a new Register makes no recommendations on the process to be adopted in creating a new Register to ensure that the results to be produced would be different from the current Register. In addition, preparing a new register implies that the existing Voters ID and the attestation of new registers by existing voters would be unacceptable as this would essentially import
the alleged flaws of the existing register on to the new Register. It would therefore be important to ensure that citizens who intend to register and do not have valid Ghanaian passports, drivers’ licenses and National Identity cards have a means of identifying themselves. The NPP has not made any recommendations that would ensure that many citizens of Ghana are not unduly disenfranchised in the process of creating a new Register. From all the foregoing, the Electoral Commission is of the view that the current Biometric cannot therefore by any measure be said to be “incurably flawed” and not fit for purpose. The Commission posits further that a case for the need for a new Register has not been convincingly made. The Commission welcomes the opportunity to work with all stakeholders, including the NPP, to ensure that an even more credible Register is available for the 2016 elections and
towards a peaceful, transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016.
DATED IN ACCRA, 30th DECEMBER, 2015

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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Voter’s Register: EC leading Ghana into a ditch – NPP

The Director of Elections of the New Patriotic Party Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah has accused the Electoral Commission of leading Ghana into a ditch following its decision on the voters register.

He said though the EC has rejected suggestions for a new register and instead opted for an audit, the electoral body has no idea how to clean the register.

The Electoral Commission has declined requests for a new voters’ register based on the recommendations of a five-member panel put together to review concerns raised against the register the New Patriotic Party.

However speaking to Fiifi Banson on Kasapa FM Monday in response to the matter, Martin Agyei Mensah Korsah stated that the EC by its actions may foment trouble going into the elections.

“If we are not careful they (EC) will take us into a ditch where we cannot return…whatever they want, they will have it”.

“They are claiming that we rather clean the register but did not indicate how to go about it. Clearly, they have no idea how that cleaning is going to be done. I challenge Charlotte Osei to tell Ghanaians how they’re going to do this. We’re not surprised about the stance taken by the EC as we knew they were not going to do differently from what they have done.”

He, nonetheless, noted that the NPP will come out with its official position on the matter as the party is still studying the response submitted by the EC.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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Voters’ register: NPP must accept EC decision – NDC

The Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress Koku Anyidoho has urged the largest opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to accept the decision of the Electoral Commission on the call for a new voters’ register.

The NPP has led the course for the compilation of a new voters’ register claiming that the register used for the 2012 election was fraught with anomalies which renders the electoral roll not credible.

The EC constituted an Independent Panel to look into the concerns of the NPP and other like-minded groups on the Voters’ Register but the panel shot down the NPP’s proposal.

In a statement the EC said “The Electoral Commission will continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.”

“The Panel finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register,” the statement added.

Speaking to Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa Monday, Koku Anyidoho commended the EC for making such a bold decision to decline calls for a new voters’ register.

“We all know that what the NPP were doing was much ado about nothing… the EC has spoken and we respect the decision. We all saw Mac Manu at the EC forum, he failed to make a convincing presentation on why there should be a new register. We thank God that this decision has come very early in the year, it will allow us to focus on other issues”

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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NPP’s claims on voters register untenable – CODEC

Pressure group, Coalition for the Defence of Equal Citizenship (CODEC) has hailed the Electoral Commission for its decision not to compile a fresh voters register ahead of the 2016 elections.

A statement issued and signed by Godwin Edudzi Tameklo, Convener of CODEC said “we at CODEC were very convinced from the very beginning that the allegations made by the NPP through its surrogates groups and other civil society groups definitely did not warrant the complete overhaul of the electoral register.”

It said: “the NPP was fraudulent in its attempt at presenting what it calls evidence to the Electoral Commission. Information reaching us indicates that Burkina Faso’s Electoral Register had no photos and therefore it is impossible to use any facial recognition software to cross-reference subjects.”

It commended the EC for remaining resolute in the pressure by the opposition NPP regarding the voter register brouhaha, and ensuring that facts and proper logical thinking were made to stand at the long run.

The Electoral Commission last week shot down the NPP’s demand for a new voters register ahead of the 2016 general elections, describing as unconvincing the arguments put for the claim of a fresh register.

It said given the problems highlighted by the opposition NPP regarding the current register,it will be preferable to continue engaging stakeholders to ensure a clean and credible voters’ register is in place for the 2016 general elections through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.

Read the full statement by CODEC

CODEC CONGRATULATES THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR ITS CONDUCT IN THE YEAR 2015 AND CALLS FOR THE SUPPORT OF NATIONAL INTEREST OVER PAROCHIAL POLITICAL POLEMICS

CODEC will like to take this unique occasion of the celebration of the New Year to congratulate the Electoral Commission for a good job done in the year 2015 and to wish all Ghanaians a Happy and Prosperous 2016.

On the democratic front, the rash and unjustified attempt to undermine the democratic institutions that form the pillars of the 1992 constitution increased its crescendo to a very alarming degree in the year 2015 and that is quite worrying.

This manifested in hasty attempts by some political activists and civil society groups to literally wash away the reputation of our Electoral Commission and its commitment towards organizing free and fair elections.

From unjustified attacks of the Commission’s performance right down to our current Electoral Register which was biometrically generated we saw the dark hand of destruction at work.

An attempt was made to hoodwink the Electoral Commission and swindle a good number of Ghanaians in the court of public opinion but once again just as the electoral petition presented to the Supreme Court in 2013, the arguments were finally deemed as baseless and highly untenable.

In all these the EC had stayed resolute ensuring that facts and proper logical thinking reigned supreme over emotional outbursts and illogical conclusions which could derail our democratic process and lead to needless expenditure on the limited resourced obtained from the taxpayer.

We at CODEC were very convinced from the very beginning that the allegations made by the NPP through its surrogates groups and other civil society groups definitely did not warrant the complete overhaul of the electoral register.

We also believe as many other Ghanaians and right-thinking civil society groups that the mechanisms inherent within the provisions of the Electoral Law and operations of the EC has the cleansing effect to continuously clean our register.

We would also like to posit that the NPP was fraudulent in its attempt at presenting what it calls evidence to the Electoral Commission. Information reaching us indicates that Burkina Faso’s Electoral Register had no photos and therefore it is impossible to use any facial recognition software to cross-reference subjects.

Their Togo register argument was also very erroneous. We would therefore want to ask the EC to publish copies of their petition with its addenda to prove otherwise.

We would however want to advice those who have made it their duty to attack the EC and weaken its resolve to be independent to remember that our national interest must not be made to pander to the parochial interest of one group or another.

With these few words we will like to set the tone in 2016 towards ensuring our National Security is made steadfast in the year 2016. We will also want to call on all other institutions to perform their mandated constitutional roles even as we approach the crucial time of the 2016 General Elections.

There is no need to fear, or panic; Ghana truly being the shining example on the African continent will definitely have a very uneventful political campaigning period and peaceful elections. We just have to do our part as citizens and governing institutions.

May the new year bring in its wake a sense of national pride and commitment towards protecting our democratic institutions and may all Ghanaians put Ghana first before everything else.
Happy New Year.

Signed.
Godwin Edudzi Kudzo Tameklo
(Convener –
4th January, 2016.

Ali Dawud
(Director of Operations

Jude Atuahene
(Education Coordinator –

 

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Ghana

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