Oscar and Diego Costa: Guus Hiddink describes Chelsea bust-up

The training ground incident between Oscar and Diego Costa was described as "two wolves bumping chests" by Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink.

The pair faced up to each other after a challenge from midfielder Oscar into the back of striker Costa on Thursday.

"Oscar apologised in front of the group and they all started laughing, jokes were made," said Hiddink.

The Premier League champions face League One side Scunthorpe in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Oscar tweet snip

Oscar laughed off the incident on Twitter

Chelsea have struggled in the league this season, lying in 14th place, and sacked manager Jose Mourinho last month after he won the title for the club in the previous season.

The Telegraph reported  the two players had to be separated following an "outrageous" challenge from Brazilian Oscar at Chelsea's Cobham training ground.

But Hiddink - who won the FA Cup in his previous spell in charge of the Blues in 2009 - played down the incident.

"It's a pity that our photographer had a day off or he could have shot beautiful pictures from the two", he said.

"They were jesting a bit after a charge from behind from the smaller of the two, Oscar. Costa took a charge from behind and it was overdone, especially when you know Oscar is not the biggest tackler of the team.

"They stumbled over the ground, stood up, as a normal reaction, they jested a bit, but we came in between them to say that there was no need to hit each other.

"Those things happen when you're close on the edge. Oscar apologised for over-reacting, then they looked at each other and started laughing. It was a normal battle."

Source: bbc.com

Okyehene: Support Mahama to transform Ghana

The Okyehene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin has urged Ghanaians to back President John Mahama's drive to transform the Ghanaian economy.

According to Osagyefo, the situation where some Ghanaians discredit government through the casting of aspersions and insinuations is inappropriate.

"We are all Ghanaians and one people, we should be law-abiding and ensure that we do away with issues that will divide the country.

“We must all support President Mahama's quest of transforming Ghana from its state to a better one,” he stated.

Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin was speaking at 5th anniversary of the installation of Effiduasehene, Okoawia Dwumoh Baabu IV in Koforidua in the Eastern region.

The Akyem-Abuakwa king advised Ghanaians to desist from attacking leadership with the use of insults when debating state and economic issues.

"The respect we don't have for our leadership is very worrying. People wake up to insult the president, chiefs, MPs have with impunity. It is just unacceptable, and the Lord will not bless us for that,” he lamented.

Okyehene further saw the need for power in the country to be decentralized. He explained that decentralization leads to massive development in all spheres of a country's economy.

The programme was attended by high profile government officials including Communications Minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, who is also an indigenes of the area, and the Eastern Regional Minister.

The Regional Minister, Antwi Bosiako Sekyere bemoaned chieftaincy disputes in some areas in the region and called on traditional authorities to preach unity and lead in resolving chieftaincy disputes in the region.

Source: ghanaweb.com

Voter roll: LMVCA to picket EC

Pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) is set to go on another demonstration to mount pressure on the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new register of voters.

The group has scheduled a meeting on Friday, January 8, 2016, to fix a date for what its leaders say will be “sustained picketing of the Electoral Commission to demand the compilation of a new register."

The EC, in a statement, rejected calls by the opposition New Patriotic Party and the LMVCA for a new electoral roll, saying their arguments were not convincing.

LMVCA’s convener, David Asante, speaking to Class News, said: “The Electoral Commission says the arguments were not convincing enough, we will stage a more convincing demonstration, and they will change their minds.”

“The LMVCA is meeting, and we are fixing the date for our demonstration. We shall stage 1001 demonstrations until the EC sees wisdom.”

“We will convince the EC to change the register. They are looking for convincing reasons to change the register, we will go to the premises of the EC, we shall convince them, and they will change the register.”

Quizzed about the police having said the EC premises was a security zone, which cannot be picketed, Mr. Asante said: “It does not lie in the mouth of the police to demarcate what a security zone is in the country.”

“It is the Interior Minister, who has the mandate, per the constitution, to determine what a security zone is. Under the current dispensation, the EC is one of the public offices,” Mr. Asante added.

“We will write to the police officially and tell them we are picketing the Electoral Commission. They want a convincing argument, we shall go there and stage one, and they will change the register,” Mr. Asante emphasised.

Meanwhile, EC boss Charlotte Osei has said the electoral body, under her tenure, would not dance to the tune of any political party or do any politician’s bidding, as far as elections were concerned.

Source: ghanaweb.com

Parliament to summon ministers over Gitmo detainees

A Member of Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Interior, Major Derek Oduro (retired) has called for the House to summon the Ministers of Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to brief it on the arrival of two detainees from Guantanano Bay In Ghana.

According to Major Oduro Parliament needs to be provided with answers from government over what he described as a sensitive issue.

He said Ghanaians were not ready for the possible implications of hosting terror suspects and therefore Parliament must intervene.

“Government should have prepared the minds of Ghanaians, now every Ghanaian is going through some mental torture, panic, fear.”

“These people what would be the security implications, should Al Qaeda, the group that they belong to attack an interest outside Ghana and within the country Ghana, what are we going to do when that thing happens,” he asked.

He argued that government should have conscientised the minds of people before bringing them in.

“So people want to know, what will be the security implications. the Minister must appear before Parliament and brief us,” he said.

Source: ghanaweb.com

EC will not be stampeded into taking decision on voters’ register

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei has said the Commission will not be pushed into taking any decision on the creation or not of a new voters’ register by any political party.

The election regulatory body recently announced it will not be reviewing the voters’ register meant for the 2016 election.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) had pushed for the creation of a new voter’s register after the party alleged that there were over 76,000 foreign names on it.

Although the NPP was vehement with its demands, coupled with series of demonstrations by pressure groups including the Let My Vote Count Alliance, the EC has been resolute in saying there will not be a new register.

The governing National Democratic Congress has also rejected the NPP calls for a new register, preferring rather for the EC to audit the existing register.

A committee of experts set up by the EC to deliberate on their concerns also rejected the calls.

The NPP has described the panel’s decision as disappointing, accusing the EC of leading Ghanaians into a ditch.

However, speaking at a press briefing in Accra Thursday, Mrs Osei said she will not allow the independence of her outfit to be toyed with.

“An electoral management body should never be stampeded into taking a decision by a political party. That is why the constitution gives you independence. People may try to stampede but you have to stand your ground and do what is right.

She added that although the EC is willing to listen and examine views from various quarters, take it on board when it has to but the right and legal thing must always be done and “in accordance with the law.”


Source: myjoyonline.com

IGP plans to disband vigilante groups ahead of 2016 elections

Acting Inspector General of Police John Kudalor has hinted of plans to disband vigilante groups aligned to some political parties ahead of the general elections this year.

According to him, the Police service has engaged the Attorney General's Office to determine the locus of these groups.

“She told us in plain language they are unlawful and illegal,” Mr. Kudalor told Joy News.

Activities of vigilante groups like Azorka Boys, Bolga Bulldogs led to aggressive clashes during a bye-election in Talensi in the Upper East region last July.

Various interest groups have expressed concern about the existence of such vigilante groups, particularly their tendency to engage in electoral violence.

Police and Military were in Talensi to keep the peace

Mr. John Kudalor told  JOYNEWS the police will be meeting with the political parties to fashion out how to ban these groups.

The Ghana Police Service last July warned it would prosecute political vigilante groups such as the Azorka Boys, Invincible Forces and Bolga Bull Dogs.

The police said they would also prosecute the leadership of such groups that have gained notoriety for engaging in acts of lawlessness during political activities.

But the Interior Minister Mark Woyongo when asked whether Azorka boys (aligned with the governing NDC) was registered security companies, the Minister responded in the affirmative, saying “of course they belong to security companies. For some time now, they have been operating as security companies.”

He announced the Ministry will soon legalise the activities of vigilante groups, Azorka boys and Bolga Bulldogs.

“From now onwards we are going to ensure that those who operate have value or credible documents to operate as security agencies. These security companies will have to be licensed.”


Source: myjoyonline.com

Acting Inspector General of Police John Kudalor has hinted of plans to disband vigilante groups aligned to some political parties ahead of the general elections this year.

According to him, the Police service has engaged the Attorney General's Office to determine the locus of these groups.

“She told us in plain language they are unlawful and illegal,” Mr. Kudalor told Joy News.

Activities of vigilante groups like Azorka Boys, Bolga Bulldogs led to aggressive clashes during a bye-election in Talensi in the Upper East region last July.

Various interest groups have expressed concern about the existence of such vigilante groups, particularly their tendency to engage in electoral violence.

- See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2016/January-8th/igp-plans-to-disband-vigilante-groups-ahead-of-2016-elections.php#sthash.jUMipJJh.dpuf

‘I feel proud’ of NDC achievements; We will win 2016 elections – President Mahama

President John Mahama has predicted a resounding victory for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the November general elections.

According to him, government’s efforts at improving the lives of the citizenry will give it more advantage in the upcoming polls than the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He made the comments while addressing government officials in Ho on Friday at a retreat.

“We have done sufficient… There are things that we have delivered. I feel very proud, sometimes I don’t know we did it. You go to a community and the Chief is praising you to high heaven for some school or some clinic I didn’t even know had been put there. But everywhere you go they say we see the development, we have a good road, we have enough water.

“In Brong Ahafo alone, there is water for more than 300,000 households in about 27 communities … There is a lot that has been done in every sector…There is a track record, there is a strong performance when it comes to development and infrastructure that we can defend. We will this election. I’m confident that we will win this election,” said the President.

The President also charged his appointees to prepare for the heavy schedule ahead in the last year of his first term and also emphasized the need for a  carefully considered SWOT analysis to determine the way forward.

“What we must do and what I am thinking must come out of here is to have an analysis of what our strengths are and what are weaknesses are and to also look at what our opportunities and what the threats are and once we do that we come up with a road map on how we can all work together to ensure that we win 2016.”

Click on the audio link at the beginning of the news to listen to the President.

Source: citifmonline.com

 

President Mahama also made reference to President Kwame Nkrumah’s situation when he was accused by elements within the UP tradition of wasting resources.

“Nkrumah had done so phenomenally when it comes to infrastructure. He had just finished the Akosombo Dam. It was months after he had switched on Akosombo and the same opposition at the time said he had run Ghana into debt and that he had borrowed so much. Exactly the same accusations we are facing now …”

The retreat which is being attended by Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State, Presidential Advisers and Staffers will offer government an opportunity to review strategies for the implementation of key policies earmarked in the 2016 Budget and other initiatives outlined for outdooring in the State of the Nation.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/01/08/i-feel-proud-of-ndc-achievements-we-will-win-2016-elections-mahama/#sthash.Duh7U4eO.dpuf

 

I will vote for NPP – Paul Afoko

Suspended National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Paul Afoko, has said he will still vote for Nana Akufo-Addo come November 2016, despite his suspension from the party.

Paul Afoko, who is still challenging his suspension from the party, spoke on TV3’s Hot Issue programme which will be aired tomorrow [ Saturday] claiming he still remains loyal to the NPP.

“I will vote for the New Patriotic Party, it is my party” he stated.

According to him, many still accept him in the party since only a minority group approved his suspension.

“A group of 70 plus people say they’ve suspended me. Those seventy plus people never voted for me in the first place. They campaigned against me. They told lies about me,” he said.

The NPP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) unanimously voted to suspend Mr. Afoko indefinitely on October 23, 2015.

The NEC upheld the overwhelming decision by the Disciplinary Committee which decided that Mr. Afoko be suspended following a petition that alleged misconduct on his impact.


Source:citifmonline.com

Ghana’s first bond for 2016 slightly undersubscribed

Ghana failed to obtain the 500 million cedis it was expecting to raise in its first bond issued yesterday, January 7, 2016.

The Bank of Ghana on behalf of government yesterday issued a three year 500 million cedi bond.

Proceeds from the bond will be used to restructure government debt and also for maturity settlement.

But government failed to obtain the expected amount.

Total bids received amounted to 426.23 million cedis.

The auction which was open to both foreign and local investors saw international bids totaling only 20 million cedis.

Meanwhile Ghana will pay  a slightly higher yield of 24.75 percent on the bond than the last 3 year bond it issued.

A three-year bond issued in October last year had a 24.5 percent yield.

Source: citifmonline.com

Industry players had earlier warned the country’s economic woes as well as the implementation of the new income tax law which will see the bond being subjected to the 1 percent tax on interest earned by individuals will lead to a low subscription of the bond and others to be issued later.

Meanwhile government has announced it intends to borrow about 30. 4 billion cedis, in the first half of this year, through bonds, treasury bills and notes.

The move will see government borrow 4 .72 billion cedis in January 2016 alone.

- See more at: http://business.citifmonline.com/2016/01/08/ghanas-first-bond-for-2016-slightly-undersubscribed/#sthash.Bsciya57.dpuf

 

'El Chapo' recaptured after jail break

Mexico's authorities have recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, six months after he escaped from a maximum-security jail.

In a post on Twitter, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said: "Mission accomplished: We got him."

Guzman, one of the world's most-wanted drug lords, smuggled cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines to the US through the Sinaloa cartel he led.

He escaped from jail through a 1.5km (1 mile) tunnel dug in the showers.

President Pena Nieto described Guzman's arrest as a "victory against impunity" and said it showed Mexicans could have confidence in the state's ability to guarantee law and order.

"There is no group that it is impossible to confront," he said.

Guzman was apprehended following a shoot-out with Mexican marines in Los Mochis, a coastal city in his home state of Sinaloa, in north-west Mexico, the president said.

Five people are thought to have been killed in the raid, which involved the army and navy as well as police.

Katy Watson, BBC Mexico and Central America reporter

The capture of El Chapo will be a big boost to President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration.

The escape last July of Mexico's most-wanted criminal was politically embarrassing. It made the government look stupid at best and institutionally corrupt at worst - many people doubted El Chapo's escape could have happened without inside help.

It was made worse too by the fact that the president had previously said that if he escaped again it would be unforgivable.

Mr Pena Nieto has called the arrest "mission accomplished" - hopefully it is third-time lucky for the government with El Chapo remaining behind bars and the president's legacy not being that of allowing a violent criminal to escape.

The US congratulated the Mexican government but did not indicate whether prosecutors would seek Guzman's extradition.

In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Guzman had caused "significant violence, suffering and corruption on multiple continents".

Guzman's July escape was his second - he was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and escaped from Puente Grande jail in 2001, reportedly in a laundry basket after bribing officials.

He was on the run for 13 years before being held again in 2014.

CCTV footage of his 11 July escape showed Guzman pacing his cell several times before heading into the shower area and disappearing at the maximum-security Altiplano jail.

A huge manhunt followed, with flights suspended at the nearby airports. The US government had offered a $5m (£3.2m) reward for information leading to his capture.

Authorities located him several days ago based on reports that he was in the Los Mochis area.

In October, Mexican officials said they had "broken up" and arrested the group responsible for helping him escape.

Guzman's wealth is estimated at $1bn.

Despite being the leader of one of the world's most powerful and violent drug cartels, Guzman was seen by some in Sinaloa - where there are few job opportunities - as a modern-day Robin Hood figure who could offer more security to people than the government.

Following his escape, shopkeepers began selling souvenirs such as baseball caps branded with "El Chapo" (Guzman's nickname, meaning "Shorty").

Source: bbc.com

Philadelphia police officer ambushed 'in the name of Islam'

A man who shot and wounded a policeman at point blank range as he sat in his patrol car was inspired by Islamic State militants, police said.

Edward Archer, using a stolen gun, fired at least 11 shots at Jesse Hartnett in Philadelphia.

Despite being shot, Mr Hartnett left his vehicle and was able to return fire, striking the gunman three times.

Mr Archer was arrested within minutes and later confessed to police he did it for Islam, officers told reporters.

"He has confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam," Police Commissioner Richard Ross said, because he believes "police defend laws that are contrary to Islam".

The 30-year-old from Yeadon, Pennsylvania, told police he pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

But there is no evidence that he was working with anyone else, Mr Ross said.

Edward Archer

Archer was shot several times

Philadelphia court records show he was convicted of assault in March and was set to begin a prison term. He had also been convicted of forging documents in a nearby suburb.

Mr Archer's mother, Valerie Holliday, said he is mentally ill and had suffered multiple head injuries, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"He's been acting kind of strange lately. He's been talking to himself . . . laughing and mumbling," she told the newspaper.

"He's been hearing voices in his head. We asked him to get medical help."

Ms Holliday also told the Inquirer that he had been a devout Muslim "for a long time".

After the shoot-out, Mr Hartnett screamed into his radio: "I'm shot, I'm bleeding heavily." He has serious injuries and requires surgery.

"His will to live undoubtedly saved his life," Mr Ross said. "This could have easily been a police funeral."

Mr Ross said Mr Archer's gun was a police firearm that was stolen in 2013.

The shooting happened on the day two men who came to the US as refugees were charged with supporting terrorism - in Texas and California.

A month ago, attacks in San Bernardino, California, left 14 people dead, carried out by a couple inspired by Islamic State.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

Standard Life says it will vote against Shell BG tie-up

Standard Life Investment - a major investor in Royal Dutch Shell - has said it will oppose the oil company's proposed takeover of BG Group.

It said a weak outlook for oil prices plus risks for BG in Brazil could make the deal "value destructive for Shell shareholders."

Few investors or analysts have openly challenged the deal's strategic benefits for the firm.

Shell said it remained confident of winning the vote.

A Shell spokesman said: "We continue to believe we have the broad base of shareholder support we need for the deal to complete."

Shell has also won the support of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), an influential advisory firm, which recommended that Shell shareholders support the deal.

Deal opposition

The firm announced its intention to buy BG - an oil and gas exploration company - in April 2015 for £47bn.

But Standard Life said on Friday that the risk of further oil price falls and tax and operational risks connected to BG's Brazilian assets make the deal undesirable.

"We have concluded that the proposed terms of the acquisition of BG are value destructive for Shell shareholders," said David Cumming, head of equities at Standard Life Investments.

Standard Life is the 11th largest holder of Shell's B shares, with a 1.7% stake.

Shell B shares make up the share component in the cash-and-share deal that is expected to be completed on 15 February.

Standard Life is also the 16th biggest shareholder in BG, according to data from Bloomberg.

ISS, which advises around 5% of Shell's medium and small shareholders, said it supported the deal "given the compelling strategic rationale, and the significant positive economics to be realised within a relatively short time frame."

Shell will become the world's top liquefied natural gas trader after the deal.

In December Shell said it would cut 2,800 jobs as a result of restructuring the companies into one unit.

Source: bbc.com

Volkswagen branded sales drop for first time in 11 years

German carmaker Volkswagen has posted its first drop in VW brand sales in 11 years as the company continues to cope with its emissions scandal.

Sales of VW brand cars fell 4.8% in 2015 to 5.82 million cars from 6.12 million a year earlier.

Falling demand in China and US added to the losses as orders fell in December.

VW has promised it will have a fix in the coming weeks for the millions of US cars with defeat devices that disguised emission levels in diesel cars.

Sales began declining after the scandal came to light in September. Deliveries fell 5.3% in October, 2.4% in November and 7.9% in December compared with those months the previous year.

The underperformance at VW's largest division by sales and revenue pulled down annual group deliveries by 2% to 9.93 million cars, the first drop in 13 years, VW said.

However, speaking on Wednesday, Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess said he was "optimistic" the company would find a solution soon.

"We will bring a package together which satisfies our customers first and foremost and then also the regulators," said Mr Diess.

Regulators appear been less confident. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which uncovered the scandal, said on Monday that VW had not yet "not produced an acceptable way forward".

The company will meet US regulators in Washington next week to discuss its plan.

US charges

On Monday, the US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against VW for the use of the emissions devices, which involve computer software that can detect when cars are being tested.

The Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said on Friday that the company was not cooperating with the investigation.

Volkswagen has been withholding corporate emails between executive related to the emissions scandal, using German law as the basis for the refusal.

"I find it frustrating that, despite public statements professing cooperation and an expressed desire to resolve the various investigations that it faces following its calculated deception, Volkswagen is, in fact, resisting cooperation by citing German law," Mr Jepsen said in a statement.

Car industry record year

In 2015, a record 17.47 million cars were sold, according to Autodata. The car data firm has been keeping records since 1980.

General Motors, one of the biggest US car firms, had an 8% increase in sales.

Mercedes-Benz USA had its most successful year since entering the country, with sales rising 3.8%.

The UK also had a record year for car sales. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 2.63 million cars were registered, beating the previous record from 2003.

Source: bbc.com

US economy adds 292,000 jobs in December

US jobs growth remained solid in December as the economy added 292,000 jobs, beating expectations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data also showed the jobless rate held at its seven-and-a-half year low of 5%.

Professional and business services, construction, health care, and food services all saw job increases.

In addition, the figures for October and November were revised up to show 50,000 more jobs created than previously reported.

However, not all sectors saw job gains in December - mining continued to decline, dropping by 8,000, and taking the total jobs lost in the sector in 2015 to 129,000.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, US economy created an average of 284,000 jobs a month, the best three-month pace in a year.

The robust figures suggest resilience in the US economy at a time of market turmoil in China, the world's second biggest economy, and global economic uncertainty.

Robust consumer spending has encouraged employers to hire staff, offsetting a drop in US exports in response to a stronger dollar.

"It is one more sign the domestic economy continues to chug along," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

"It is not a game changer in terms of faster economic growth, but it offsets some of the other indicators that recently have suggested the economy might be slowing down."

The figures come after the first US interest rate rise in nearly 10 years in December.

The Federal Reserve raised overnight interest rates last month by a quarter of a percent to between 0.25% and 0.50%.

US stocks opened higher after the jobs figures were released. The Dow Jones Industrial Average then lost ground, closing down 167.65 points, or 1.02%, at 16,346.45.

Source: bbc.com

Justin Bieber sets UK singles chart record

Justin Bieber has pulled off another chart coup by occupying the number one, two and three spots with his songs - a feat never accomplished before.

The Canadian singer remains in pole position in this week's singles chart with Love Yourself and also stays put at two with Sorry.

Bieber's former number one track What Do You Mean?, meanwhile, climbs one place to three.

In the album chart, Adele's 25 is number one for a seventh straight week.

Her third solo record again triumphed over Elvis Presley's If I Can Dream, her closest rival, on what would have been the legendary singer's 81st birthday.

The ubiquitous Bieber sits one place behind them with Purpose, just ahead of Jess Glynne's I Cry When I Laugh at four and James Bay's Chaos and the Calm at five.

A campaign to send Motorhead's Ace of Spades into the Top 40 following the death of lead singer Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister sees the track re-enter the singles chart at 13.

The song's previous highest position came when it was first released in 1980, when it reached 15th place.

Further down the chart, at number 33, Craig David scores his first top 40 hit in eight years with When the Bassline Drops.

UK singles chart top five
1. Justin Bieber Love Yourself
2. Justin Bieber Sorry
3. Justin Bieber What Do You Mean
4. Shawn Mendes Stitches
5. Adele Hello

 

Source: bbc.com

Newsfile exclusive with EC boss Charlotte Osei

Award winning current affairs show, Newsfile, broadcast on Joy FM and JOY News on Multi TV had an exclusive interview with chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei on Saturday January 9, 2016.

Hosted by Samson Lardy Anyenini, the EC boss opened up on a number of issues ranging from the Commission’s rejection of NPP’s call for a new voter’s register to using professionals such as lawyers and chartered accountants. Madam Charlotte Osei also spoke on her relationship with Ghana Reinsurance Company.
 

Watch video below for her interview with Samson

Source: myjoyonline.com

Charlotte Osei: If we listened to NPP, we may have an elitist voters’ register

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mrs Charlotte Osei says Ghana will end up with a “very elitist” voter’s register if the Commission gave in to the methods suggested by the opposition New Patriotic Party.
She explained the commission has resolved to audit the voters' register instead of giving in to the demand by the NPP for a new register.
The NPP says the register is bloated and therefore cannot confer credibility on the winner of the 2016 general elections. For months, the opposition NPP and others had been pushing for the compilation of a new electoral roll.

They insisted the current register is so fundamentally flawed it cannot be relied on for credible elections in November this year. It claimed that there were at least 76,000 Togolese on the country’s electoral roll.
But a five-member committee set up by the EC to look into the calls for a new voters’ register said the evidence provided by the NPP was not convincing.
Speaking to the issue again, Ms. Charlotte Osei said the NPP’s method for compiling a new voters register requires that Ghanaians show proof of citizenship using either a passport, a driver’s license or a National ID card.
“How many Ghanaians do you think have these? five million, six million?...I doubt if you can get even 10million” Charlotte argued.
“…for those who do not have a passport, driver’s license or a National ID card how are they going to be identified as a Ghanaian?” she wondered.
Old voter ID cards would be unacceptable and the Supreme Court has already barred the use of and National Health Insurance card as proof of citizenship.
Charlotte Osei also explained the commission can also not use the accepted practice of two Ghanaians testifying to the citizenship of a person who does not have any of the three IDs.
This is because the citizenship of the two can also not be proven with their old voter ID cards, Charlotte Osei said, explaining the limitations imposed by the NPP method.
 “We are going to end up with a register that is very elitist and excludes the large majority of citizens. That is not our idea of inclusive democracy and that is not where we think we should be going”, she insisted.

The Electoral Commission has maintained that the absence of a National Identification System is forcing Ghanaians to get a voter’s ID card because it is the easiest method of identification.

In countries such as Kenya and South Africa, citizens have a National ID and therefore do not need a voter ID card to determine citizenship.

This is not the case in Ghana.

A new voter’s ID will worsen fears expressed by political parities that there are minors and foreigners on the electoral roll because everybody will rush to obtain one even if they are not eligible to vote, the Electoral Commissioner stressed.

In effect “we are going to bring all the Togoleses and minors in”, she feared.

Listen to the audio link at the beginning of the news for her exact message.

Source: myjoyonline.com

 

 

 

United edged League One Sheffield United to reach the FA Cup fourth round through a late penalty

Wayne Rooney scored a last-minute penalty as a poor Manchester United edged League One Sheffield United to reach the FA Cup fourth round.

The hosts, 47 places above their opponents in the football pyramid, had only two shots on target throughout.

Substitute Memphis Depay curled just wide in the second half, but it looked like the visitors would earn a replay.

However, after Memphis was fouled inside the area, Rooney stepped up to score and send the hosts through.

Read about how the game unfolded

Reaction to Saturday's FA Cup third-round games

Van Gaal's 'Mark Robins moment'?

Just two weeks ago Louis van Gaal's future as Manchester United manager appeared to be in huge doubt.

The Red Devils had failed to win in seven games but, after surviving a 2-0 defeat at Stoke on Boxing Day, Van Gaal has overseen an improvement in both results and, in patches, performances.

After a combined 31 shots on goal in their last two games against Chelsea and Swansea, Manchester United seemed a livelier prospect, despite their plentiful possession still having no end product.

And, at Old Trafford on Saturday, Memphis fizzed an effort just wide in the second half, only for the home fans to burst into ironic cheers, rather than roar encouragement.

A drab draw against a League One side would likely have seen Van Gaal come under criticism once again, but Rooney's strike could give him some breathing space.

Back in 1990, Mark Robins scored a goal in the FA Cup for Manchester United that is said to have saved Sir Alex Ferguson from the sack.

Van Gaal may have just had his 'Robins moment'.

'I'd get rid of Van Gaal'

Sheffield United looked to have secured a lucrative replay at Bramall Lane but, as the game entered the 90th minute, Memphis broke into the area and fell as he was challenged by midfielder Dean Hammond.

His acrobatic reaction suggested the hosts may have got lucky when referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot, but replays showed there was limited contact.

"I thought it was a penalty but it was an absolute shocking performance from Manchester United," BBC Radio 5 live pundit Robbie Savage said.

"For me, Van Gaal, I'd get rid of him."

Blades caution proves costly

Two years ago Sheffield United reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and had forged a reputation as seasoned giant killers.

In recent years, they have beaten Aston Villa, West Ham and Southampton in cup competitions and, given the sense of unrest at Old Trafford, they will have fancied their chances of claiming a higher division scalp.

They had the game's first shot on target, which came in the 67th minute after Chris Basham fired straight at David De Gea, but retreated into their own half as they looked to keep Manchester United out and take the tie back to South Yorkshire.

That perhaps proved their undoing as the hosts pressed in the closing stages, leading to the moment when Memphis was brought down inside the box.

A little more conviction, and the result could have been different

'Man Utd players looked bored'

"There just seems to be an acceptance of bad performances," former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes told BT Sport.

"Every time you come to Old Trafford you see negative football."

Read more from Scholes

What they said

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "You have to see also how the opponent is playing. Everybody shall give applause to Sheffield United. They were very organised but it is much more difficult to attack than to defend.

"Again a clean sheet is also the benefit of our organisation. I'm very disappointed that we are not creating too many chances, that we have to improve."

Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins on BT Sport: "The players have worked extremely hard against superior opposition.

"The grit, desire and character gave the supporters something to cheer about. The supporters have got right behind the players and there is a togetherness at the football club."

The stats you need to know

  • Wayne Rooney has scored nine goals in his last 10 FA Cup games for Manchester United.
  • Manchester United have lost once in 37 FA Cup ties against lower-ranked sides - v Leeds United in 2010.
  • Manchester United have progressed from 29 of their last 31 third round ties in the FA Cup.

What next?

Manchester United travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Tuesday, while Sheffield United are back in League One action as they face 2013 FA Cup winners Wigan.

The draw for the FA Cup fourth round takes place on Monday and is live on The One Show on BBC One from 19:00 GMT.

Source: bbc

Bale scored a hat-trick as Real Win

Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick as Zinedine Zidane began his reign as Real Madrid boss with a comprehensive win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Karim Benzema claimed his 100th league goal for the club with an early opener in the first game since the departure of previous manager Rafa Benitez.

Bale headed the second and found the bottom corner after the break before sealing his treble with another header.

Benzema hit a fifth to leave Real two points behind league leaders Barcelona.

Zidane's side could have enjoyed a bigger winning margin, with Cristiano Ronaldo heading against the post in the first half.

Barca's comfortable 4-0 victory over Granada put added pressure on Real at the outset, and they could have been behind before Benzema opened the scoring.

Deportivo had lost just once in nine league games and started confidently, carving the Real defence wide open to create a chance for Lucas Perez, but his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Real made the most of their escape, and were two goals up inside the first quarter of the contest.

Zinedine Zidane

From Toni Kroos' 15th minute corner, Benzema flicked home a Sergio Ramos shot, despite Deportivo's justifiable claims that Bale was offside and interfering with play.

Bale doubled the advantage in the 23rd minute, heading home an inviting Dani Carvajal cross.

It was almost three before the interval as Ronaldo headed a Bale cross against a post at the culmination of another flowing team move.

Ronaldo turned provider after the break to find Bale, who coolly picked his spot from the edge of the area.

A richly deserved hat-trick arrived in the 64th minute thanks to another imperious leap to head home from close range.

It was Bale's last significant contribution before he was substituted to a standing ovation from the 70,000 crowd in the Santiago Bernabeu, while Ronaldo twice went close to making it five late on.

Benzema did just that in stoppage time, following up to find the net off the underside of the bar after Ronaldo had again been denied.

Source: bbc.com

Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona Win

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona secured a comfortable victory over Granada to return to the top of La Liga.

The Argentine scored twice in the first 15 minutes and added another after the break to take his season's tally to 18, as Barca made it 20 games unbeaten.

Messi put Barcelona in command with composed close-range finishes to Luis Suarez-inspired moves.

He followed up to add a 58th-minute third, before Neymar lobbed the fourth.

Victory increased Barcelona's advantage over Real Madrid to five points - the side from the Spanish capital host Deportivo La Coruna in Zinedine Zidane's first game in charge later on Saturday.

Barca's hold on top spot could be short-lived as they will surrender their position if Atletico win at Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Messi broke the deadlock in the eighth minute against a side who were beaten 6-0 at the Nou Camp last season.

A clever dummy from Suarez allowed league debutant Arda Turan to thread a fine ball to the Argentine to slot home.

The second came six minutes later, as Neymar eased through before passing to Suarez, who knocked the ball down for Messi to finish.

Granada came into the contest more in the second half, with striker Isaac Success posing a threat, and David Lomban hooking a chance over the bar.

Normal service was soon resumed however, as Messi claimed his third - and 11th goal in eight La Liga appearances against Granada - following up after a dummy by Turan let in Neymar to shoot against the frame of the goal.

Neymar capped another impressive individual display by adding a fourth goal with seven minutes left thanks to a precise lob after good work by Messi and Suarez.

Source: bbc.com

Sian Blake: Partner held in Ghana over EastEnders actress's murder

The partner of a former EastEnders actress who was murdered alongside her two young sons has been arrested in Ghana.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, was detained earlier, two days after the Ghanaian police began their hunt for him.

The bodies of Sian Blake, 43, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, were discovered in the garden of their London home on Tuesday.

The family had been reported missing on 16 December.

Sian Blake

The Met Police said it had been "made aware of an arrest in Ghana" and was "working alongside the Ghanaian authorities but is not in a position to discuss further at this time".

BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead, who is in Ghana, said Mr Simpson-Kent was arrested in a coastal area popular with tourists.

"Around 10 police officers went down to the beach where he was spotted hiding amongst some rocks and the police, who were all armed, called out to him," he said.

Mr Simpson-Kent, the children's father, arrived in Ghana on 19 December, with the country's police force becoming involved in the hunt for him on Thursday.

Ghanaian Police had initially been sent to the Cape Coast in the south of the country - where the extended Simpson family is from - as well as to other parts of the Atlantic shoreline.

Ms Blake and the couple's sons had not been not seen at their south-east London home since 13 December and a missing persons inquiry launched on 16 December, after the NSPCC had raised concerns about their welfare.

Timeline

  • 13 December: Sian Blake is last seen in Waltham Forest, east London, with her sons Zachary, eight, and Amon, four.
  • 16 December: Police visit her home in Erith and speak to Mr Simpson-Kent. This is the last time he is seen.
  • 3 January: Miss Blake's car is found in Bethnal Green, east London
  • 5 January: Bodies found at her home in Erith, south east London
  • 6 January: Police announce Mr Simpson-Kent is thought to have travelled to Ghana
  • 8 January: Sian Blake and her two sons are confirmed dead

The Met Police spoke to Mr Simpson-Kent on 16 December, but that was the last time he was seen.

A subsequent search of the family home in Erith, south east London, on 5 January uncovered three bodies in the garden.

The actress and her two sons had died from neck and head injuries, post-mortem tests revealed.

Ms Blake's sister Ava Blake spoke last week about how she believed the actress had wanted to leave her boyfriend.

She said: "It's my nephews more than anything. My brother is angry. My cousins are angry.

"They are angry about Sian, but the boys have devastated us. We have lost a generation. We can never replace them."

She said her sister had been "a lot more quiet" over the past year and had asked to move back home.

"In our opinion the relationship had already come to an end but she hadn't quite made that break or that decision to leave Arthur," she said.

Ms Blake, who had motor neurone disease, had played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997.

The Met has been criticised over delays in its investigation and is being investigated by the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Source: bbc.com

'El Chapo': Mexico signals extradition to US

The Mexican attorney general's office says it will begin the process of extraditing recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the US.

It said the move was in line with US extradition requests from 2014.

On Friday Guzman was detained and sent back to the maximum-security prison he escaped from six months ago.

Guzman, who was one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers, escaped from there in July through a tunnel dug in the showers.

That was his second escape - he was first arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and escaped from Puente Grande jail in 2001, reportedly in a laundry basket after bribing officials.

He was on the run for 13 years before being held again in 2014. Previous requests from the US have been turned down.

Late on Saturday, Rolling Stone magazine published an article by US actor Sean Penn based on a meeting he had with Guzman at his secret hideout before his capture.

The two men discuss various topics, including drug trafficking. Guzman is quoted as saying: "If there was no consumption, there would be no sales.''

Katy Watson, BBC news, Mexico City

The extradition of "El Chapo" to the US is by no means a foregone conclusion. The two countries have an extradition treaty but there are many steps that need to be taken and officials that need to approve the request.

Many people believe that he should face justice in Mexico first. But the case goes beyond sovereignty and national pride.

Those CCTV images of Guzman slipping down from his prison-cell shower into a mile-long tunnel last year still haunt authorities. He has escaped not just once but twice from high-security prisons and there is concern his influence and financial clout could allow him to do it again.

With the headaches that Guzman has given President Pena Nieto, whose reputation was severely bruised by the escape, perhaps extradition is the safer bet.

Who is 'El Chapo' Guzman?

No detail was given about the time frame for an extradition but experts say the process could take months, the BBC's Katy Watson in Mexico City reports.

The attorney general's office said that lawyers for Guzman would have three days to file objections and 20 more days to prove them, though that timeframe could be extended, AFP news agency reports.

A journalist enters a manhole of the sewer system through which drug kingpin Joaquin

Journalists went to see the manhole through which Guzman tried to escape during the operation on Friday

In a statement welcoming Guzman's recapture, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Guzman had caused "significant violence, suffering and corruption on multiple continents".

The US filed requests in 2014 for his extradition so he could face charges of smuggling vast amounts of drugs into the country.

Guzman, who was named Public Enemy Number One by the Chicago Crime Commission in 2013, has been indicted by at least seven US federal district courts.

Guzman was arrested on Friday in the north-western city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa - which he had come to dominate through his drugs cartel.

During the raid, he managed to flee through a drain but was later caught by marines in a shootout.

Five suspects were killed in the operation and one marine wounded.

Source: bbc.com

Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to win Qatar Open title

World number one Novak Djokovic claimed his first title of the year with an impressive 6-1 6-2 win over Rafael Nadal in the Qatar Open.

The Serb continued his recent dominance of the 14-time Grand Slam winner with a ninth victory in 10 meetings - the last five in straight sets.

The 28-year-old broke twice in both sets as Nadal, 29, had no answer to the pace and power of his groundstrokes.

Djokovic is preparing to defend his Australian Open title from 18 January.

Djokovic - a class apart

This was Djokovic's most convincing victory against Nadal in their 47 meetings, a head-to-head he leads for the first time.

Nadal made just 13 unforced errors but was bullied off the court by an inspired opponent who gave him perhaps the most uncomfortable 73 minutes he has faced on court.

Djokovic, who has reached the final of every event he has entered since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-finals of last year's Qatar Open, lost just nine points on his own serve.

Nadal, meanwhile, won only 48% of points on his own first serve and made nine winning returns compared to 30 from Djokovic.

'Perfect tennis'

Djokovic, for whom this was a first Qatar Open title, said: "I played very much perfect tennis.

"From the beginning, I hit every shot the way I imagined I would hit it. Those two sets give me a great feeling.

"It gives me a lot of confidence and satisfaction, particularly against Rafa."

Source: bbc.com

FA Cup holders Arsenal beat Sunderland at Emirates Stadium.

FA Cup holders Arsenal came from behind to record a comfortable third-round win against Premier League strugglers Sunderland at Emirates Stadium.

The visitors took a surprise lead when Jeremain Lens struck inside the box.

Arsenal equalised through Joel Campbell's half-volley, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the woodwork.

Substitute Aaron Ramsey tapped in late on to put Arsenal ahead before Olivier Giroud's close-range finish wrapped up a 13th consecutive win in the FA Cup.

Reaction to Saturday's FA Cup third-round games

Wenger has his eye on the prize

Arsenal, who beat Aston Villa 4-0 in last season's final, have won the FA Cup 12 times - more than any other side.

Six of those have come under Arsene Wenger, who will become the competition's most successful manager with one more victory.

Arsenal may be top of the Premier League, but Wenger underlined his intention to take the FA Cup seriously by naming a strong side, with first-team regulars Petr Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud and Theo Walcott all included.

It was a decision that paid off. After Sunderland's unexpected opener, Walcott provided the assist for Arsenal's equaliser and Hector Bellerin played a key role in their next two goals as the hosts' experienced men carried them forward while the visitors' mix of fringe and youth players wilted.

A defeat, but some positives for Sunderland

Sunderland's priority is clear - Premier League survival - and that was reflected in Sam Allardyce's team selection, with the Black Cats showing seven changes.

After five successive defeats, Sunderland secured a morale-boosting 3-1 win against Aston Villa last time out.

They looked to have continued their momentum when they stunned Arsenal to take the lead, Lens taking advantage of some uncharacteristic hesitancy in the Gunners' defence to score.

That was only Lens' third goal in 17 appearances for Sunderland, but his overall play will have been encouraging for Black Cats fans as his pace and physical presence caused the hosts a number of problems.

He possesses the ability to be an important player for Sunderland in their battle against relegation. The question is, can he perform like he did against Arsenal on a consistent basis?

What they said

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "It was a test for us to come from behind. There was a great mental response and there is a special solidarity in the team.

"You always worry because, no matter how long you are in this job, you never know what is next. The experience we had up front today helped. I am very happy overall."

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce: "In the end they had better finishers than we had today. We were fine for 70 minutes and I am just a little sad at the goals we allowed Arsenal to score. We made it easy for them in the end.

"We move on. The squad has shown they can play at this level. Lens is strong on the ball as well as talented. Hopefully we can push on and see a bit more from him."

The stats you need to know

  • Arsenal have not lost an FA Cup tie in 13 games since Blackburn beat them 1-0 in February 2013 at the Emirates in the fifth round.
  • No manager has won the FA Cup more times than Arsene Wenger (six). His first game in the competition was against Sunderland in the third round in 1997.
  • Arsenal have not been defeated in the third round since losing a replay to Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane in January 1996 (W18 D5).

What next?

Arsenal travel to Liverpool in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Sunderland are at Swansea on the same day.

The FA Cup fourth-round draw takes place on Monday and is live on The One Show on BBC One from 19:00 GMT.

Source: bbc.com

US lottery fever as Powerball jackpot reaches $900m

The largest jackpot in American history is on offer to US lottery players, with a payout of about $900m (£620m) possible after Saturday night's draw.

Lottery fever in the US had resulted in long queues outside lottery-ticket vendors, driving up the jackpot value.

The rise means that an individual could take home about $558m (£384m) if they choose a lump-sum prize.

The winning numbers for the jackpot are 32, 16, 19, 57 and 34, and the Powerball number is 13.

The lottery is known as Powerball and is played in 44 of 50 states and three American territories. It takes place each Wednesday and Saturday at 22:59 PM (03:59 GMT).

Lottery officials quoted in US media say the odds of winning are one in 292 million.

If there is no winner, the prize will be rolled over to Wednesday when the jackpot could reach $1.3bn.

Source: bbc.com

Two Argentina fugitives escape manhunt

A huge manhunt in Argentina netted only one of three fugitives convicted of a triple murder, officials said hours after claiming all had been caught.

The three broke out of a maximum-security prison almost two weeks ago.

President Mauricio Macri's office initially said they are been captured north-west of Buenos Aires, but police later said that two remained at large.

The latest twist is a major embarrassment to the new president, correspondents say.

The police manhunt - shown on live television - has gripped the country.

Police say the man they captured, Martin Lanetta, was caught after the car the men were travelling in rolled over in the chase in Santa Fe province, about 500km (300 miles) from the capital.

The other two escaped on foot.

Victor Shellac and brothers Christian and Martin Lanatta were serving life in prison for kidnapping and murdering three men allegedly connected to an drug trafficking ring.

President Macri - a conservative who replaced Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner after elections in December - had accused the previous administration of not doing enough to crack down on drug crime.

Last month the men escaped from one of the country's most secure prisons using a fake gun to threaten one of the guards.

Martin Lanatta, had leapt into the political limelight last year when he accused the presidential chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, of complicity in the killings.

Mr Fernandez denied the accusation but it damaged his campaign last October to become the new governor of Buenos Aires province.

The candidate who won, María Eugenia Vidal, dismissed the intrigue and said the jail-break had been an inside job.

She sacked the head of the prison service.

Source: bbc.com

Taxi driver knocks down armed robbers on motorbike

The bravery of a taxi driver on Saturday morning led to the arrest of two armed robbers who were escaping from a robbery scene.

The robbers were said to have attacked their victim, a lady around the Lands Commission area of Cantonments in Accra and shot her.

The Good Samaritan taxi driver managed to knock down the robbers' motorbike as they tried to get away and they ended up in a gutter with broken legs but still shooting from their seated position.

An eyewitness said it took a military man, driving by, to jump out of his car with a gun to stop the robbers.

The entire incident was said to have happened at the prime residential area around 8am on Saturday.

The lady who was said to have survived but sustained leg wounds was recovering at the 37 Military Hospital.

The police later arrived at the scene to arrest the suspects.

Watch the video below.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

The bravery of a taxi driver on Saturday morning led to the arrest of two armed robbers who were escaping from a robbery scene.

The robbers were said to have attacked their victim, a lady around the Lands Commission area of Cantonments in Accra and shot her.

The Good Samaritan taxi driver managed to knock down the robbers' motorbike as they tried to get away and they ended up in a gutter with broken legs but still shooting from their seated position.

An eyewitness said it took a military man, driving by, to jump out of his car with a gun to stop the robbers.

The entire incident was said to have happened at the prime residential area around 8am on Saturday.

The lady who was said to have survived but sustained leg wounds was recovering at the 37 Military Hospital.

The police later arrived at the scene to arrest the suspects.

- See more at: http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/55997-taxi-driver-knocks-down-armed-robbers-on-motorbike-video.html#sthash.7sfroDLx.1qVlTSEM.dpuf

Ghana-US Guantanamo deal lacks transparency – CCG

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has challenged the government to come clean on the Guantanamo Bay ex-detainees transfer deal with the US.

The John Mahama-led administration has brokered a deal with the Obama government to house two ‘high risk’ ex-detainees of the dreaded prison camp in the West African country over a period of two years.

The Council has expressed worry over the pact which has been shrouded in secrecy.

“The whole process lacks transparency,” the CCG pointed out in a statement.

According to the General Secretary of the Council Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, the general public is at risk because the government failed to consult.

“The non-engagement of civil society and other stakeholders on such sensitive security issue that affects the common good of the nation has put all of us at risk as the ordinary people don’t know what is required of them in the current potential security threat. Infact the whole process lacks transparency.”

It has therefore advised the government to “consider immediate recession of the decision and relocate the inmates outside the country.”

“It will be recalled that, in 2007, the United States (US) government wanted to establish its African Command (AFRICOM) in Ghana and most Ghanaians and African countries kicked against it.

“The admission of the Guantanamo inmates into Ghana is no different from setting up an AFRICOM in Ghana.

“We are of the strongest view that, the inadequate public consultation and broader consensus building by government is exposing our nation and the entire sub-region to terrorist attack, and must be reversed,” the Council noted.
“According to FoxNews, one of the two prisoners brought from Guantanamo Bay to Ghana, in the person of Bin Atef “is an admitted member of the Taliban and fought for Usama bin Laden, while [the other] Al-Dhuby trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

“The website adds; “the two inmates [who have spent close to 14 years in prison] are the first of a group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay that includes “multiple bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers.”

“There are enough evidences for us to believe that these inmates have Al Qaeda ties and put all of us at risk.

“Government must answer the following questions and give further information about the whole thing;

1. Who is funding their stay in Ghana?
2. Will their families be allowed to visit them in Ghana?
3. Are they going to have any public interactions?
4. Are they going to be camped, restricted or reintegrated into the society as refugees?
5. Have Ghanaians been properly educated on public safety and security consciousness in the wake of terrorism?
6. Do we have what it takes to detect and deal with any threat of terrorism?

“We are very much aware that Ghana belongs to a community of nations which requires her to support international humanitarian efforts such as the provision of assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.

“However, the case of the Guantanamo inmates is entirely different and is not in our national interest.

“It is our hope and prayer that the President will listen to the lamentations of Ghanaians and quickly relocate the inmates,” the statement concluded.

Source: starrfmonline.com

Voters' register: EC boss slams Christian Council chair

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei has taken a swipe at the chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana Reverend Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frempong over his comments on the voters register.

Dr. Opuni-Frempong in a recent media interview asked the EC not to take Ghanaians for granted following its rejection of calls for a new voters register for the November polls.

“EC should not take us for granted because Ghanaians are perceived to be timid; it must reconsider its decision,” he told Accra-based Asempa FM.

But responding to the charge, Mrs. Osei said the Commission is not taking Ghanaians for granted, adding its basis for rejecting proposals for a fresh register is rooted on solid grounds.

“I do not believe for a minute the EC is taking Ghanaians for ride and I do not also believe that Ghanaians are timid- I should think that as a people especially our leaders like Dr Opuni should help us show respect for the law.

“The panel took their time to listen to all the views; they called the political parties one after the other and had quiet engagement with them .They did a thorough job.

“But when people say we are taking Ghanaians for a ride and we must heed the calls for a new register, we should all remember that every action that we take should be in the ambit of the law,” she noted.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

We’re not taking Ghanaians for granted – EC

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission Charlotte Osei has dismissed claims that the electoral body is taking Ghanaians for granted ahead of this year’s general elections.

The claims were first made by the General Secretary of the Christian Council, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong who cautioned the EC not to take an entrenched position on its decision not to change the voters' register ahead of the polls.

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

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

But the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other pressure groups have expressed grave displeasure in the Commission’s position.

Pro-NPP group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) is threatening court action if the EC decides to go ahead with its decision.

Speaking on Newsfile Saturday, Mrs. Osei stated categorically that the EC would only take decisions that are in the best interest of Ghanaians and would not kowtow to the whims of a political party or a pressure group.

According to her, the EC is undertaking several reforms to improve the current register ahead of the polls scheduled to take place in November

Starrfmonline.com

EC rejects legalization of IPAC

The electoral commission of Ghana has objected to suggestions to give legal backing to the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).

The chairperson of the electoral management body (EMB) Charlotte Osei said giving legal backing to IPAC will give political parties the powers to dictate to the EC, which will be inimical to the functions of the independent establishment.

“Consensus doesn’t mean sitting on top and taking decisions. EMBs should never be controlled by political parties because political parties have their own agenda; legitimately so and that is why they are organized,” the first woman chairperson of the EC told Accra-based Joy FM on their News File programme, Saturday.

“EMBs have their constitutional duties to the people. So we should never have a situation where the authority of the EMB or the decision making powers of the EMB can be overruled by political parties.”

However, the former boss of the National Commission on Civic Education said political parties can be involved in decision making of the EC as it pertains “in other jurisdictions” but they should never “take decisions above the EMB.”

IPAC was formed in March 1994 to bring together representatives of the political parties on a monthly basis with members of EC to discuss and try to build a consensus on electoral issues.

Representatives of the international donor community that have assisted the electoral process are also invited to observe proceedings at IPAC. However, IPAC is not open to the general public or the media.

Ghana will be heading to the polls on November 7 to elect a president and parliamentarians.

Source: starrfmonline.com

NPP gags party communicators over Afoko comments

The New Patriotic Party has warned all its communicators to avoid commenting on issues raised by suspended National Chairman Paul Afoko.

Mr. Afoko in an interview on TV3’s Hot Issues on Saturday rejected allegations of gross disrespect against the party Council of Elders.

He also stated that he is not certain NPP can win the November polls.

“[victory] is still there, it is possible but for me to say that; based on the confidence with which I walked off that stadium in Tamale after my victory telling everybody that by March, end of first quarter of 2016 even NDC would have hands up and say it’s gone; we don’t have it any longer, that certainty is gone,” he lamented”.

But a statement signed by NPP Deputy Communications Director, Perry Okudzeto, stated that Mr. Afoko’s comments are only a distraction and party members should resist the temptation of responding to him.

Read the full statement below.

NO COMMENT ON MR PAUL AFOKO

The communication Directorate has taken note of the desire of many communicators to respond forcefully to comments made by Mr. Paul Afoko in a television interview on Saturday.

The directorate however cautions all communicator not to be distracted by Mr Afoko’s comments, Mr. Afoko himself has taken his grievances to court. The party will respond to him in court.

In the meantime, NO COMMENT, on the matters he has raised, there are grave issues of national importance including the relocation of suspected terrorists into Ghana, the imposition of crippling utility and petroleum tariffs and prices, corruption within the NDC government, Electoral Commission and the voters register among others, that should engage our attention.

Communicators and party members should focus on these and not allow themselves to be distracted, no matter how contentious.
Thank you and happy new year to all

More importantly, NO COMMENT.

Signed by Curtis Perry Kwabla Okudzeto (Deputy Communications Director)

Source: Starrfmonline.com

I'm not sure of NPP victory in November – Afoko

The suspended chairman of the New Patriotic Party Paul Afoko has said he is not certain the party can win the November polls.

According to him, the strategies needed to annex victory for the party appear to have been lost on them.

In an interview with renowned journalist Kwesi Pratt Junior in a yet to be broadcast television interview, the business magnate said the party is watching potential victory slip away from it hands.

“All that we need to do is already there, it is starring us in the face. Let’s go back to the Supreme Court and we get told by Afari Gyan; the message he was giving us at the time, we didn’t want to hear; polling stations, that is where victory lies…in those polling stations that is where we win or lose.

“…It (victory) is still there, it is possible but for me to say that; based on the confidence with which I walked off that stadium in Tamale after my victory telling everybody that by March, end of first quarter of 2016 even NDC would have hands up and say it’s gone; we don’t have it any longer, that certainty is gone,” he lamented.

Afoko leads a group of three key executives of the elephant family, including its general secretary who have been suspended indefinitely for various acts of misconduct. The party says their actions were inimical to the electoral fortunes of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition. The NPP faces off with the ruling National Democratic Congress on November 7.

Source: StarrFMonline.com

UN aid convoy to leave for besieged Syrian town

An aid convoy is expected to leave for Madaya, a Syrian town under government siege, where people are reported to have been starving to death.

"We are pretty confident," UN refugee agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming told the BBC.

A convoy which had been due to reach the rebel-held town on Sunday was delayed by last-minute hitches.

Some 40,000 people are in Madaya, near Lebanon's border, with residents said to be eating pets and grass to survive.

Syria: The story of the conflict

Where key countries stand on Syria

"I have just got confirmation that our humanitarian convoy will leave tomorrow (Monday) morning," Ms Fleming said.

"This is typical that it takes a while - the administrative hurdles are constant," she added.

Meanwhile, Brice de la Vigne from the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity described the situation in the town as "quite horrific".

Mr de la Vigne, whose organisation has been in contact with doctors inside Madaya, told the BBC that more than 250 people there had "acute malnutrition".

He added that "10 of them need immediate medical evacuation" or they would die.

The World Food Programme (WFP) earlier had hoped to take a first shipment of food and medicine to Madaya.

It was not clear what caused the delay but the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says negotiating access across battlefronts in a siege situation has always been a tricky business.

It involves agreement at the top political level on both sides of the conflict, as well as individual fighters on the ground.

A similar operation for two government-held villages in the north - Kefraya and Foah - has also been discussed.

Blockades have been a feature of Syria's civil war but the plight of Madaya has drawn international attention, partly due to images emerging of severely malnourished residents.

Up to 4.5 million people in Syria live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to life-saving aid.

Madaya has been besieged since early July by government forces and their allies in Lebanon's Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement.

The situation in Foah and Kefraya, under siege from rebels, is also reported to be worsening, with an estimated 30,000 people trapped.

What's happening in Syria?

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in almost five years of conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a brutal civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels opposed to his rule battle each other - as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State.

Why are civilians under siege?

All parties to the conflict are using siege warfare, encircling populated areas, preventing civilians from leaving and blocking humanitarian access in an attempt to force opponents to surrender. Shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel have led to malnutrition and deaths among vulnerable groups.

Where are the sieges?

Government forces are besieging various locations in the eastern Ghouta area, outside Damascus, as well as the capital's western suburb of Darayya and the nearby mountain towns of Zabadani and Madaya. Rebel forces have encircled the villages of Foah and Kefraya in the northern province of Idlib, while IS militants are besieging government-held areas in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

Source: bbc.com

Minnesota Vikings beaten by Seattle Seahawks in -21C

Fans, players and officials braved one of the coldest NFL games in history as Minnesota Vikings lost to Seattle Seahawks in an NFC Wild Card game.

Sunday's temperatures were -21C (-31C wind chill) at kick-off, making it the joint third coldest game in history.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a last-gasp field goal as the Seahawks won 10-9 to set up a play-off game with the Carolina Panthers.

Free hand warmers and coffee were handed out to fans before the game.

Walsh said he "didn't do my job".

He added: "It's my fault. I don't care if you give me a watermelon, I should be able to put that through."

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer agreed: "It's a chip shot, he's gotta make it."

In Sunday's other game, Green Bay came from 11-0 down to beat Washington 35-18 and will play Arizona Cardinals.

Kansas City and Pittsburgh both won on Saturday.

Who plays who now?

Saturday, 16 January:

AFC: Kansas City at New England

NFC: Green Bay at Arizona

Sunday, 17 January:

AFC: Pittsburgh at Denver

NFC: Seattle at Carolina

How cold was it?

The coldest NFL game in terms of air temperature was 1967's 'Ice Bowl' between Green Bay and Dallas, which at kick off was -25C (-44C wind chill).

Supporters were encouraged to bring blankets and "styrofoam, cardboard or newspapers to place under their feet" to prevent prolonged contact with the concrete floor in the stands.

The Vikings said it was the coldest game in their history, beating the previous record from 3 December 1972, when the air temperature was -18C and the wind chill was -28C.

The Vikings are currently playing at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota's football team, while a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome, their home from 1982 to 2013, is under construction.

NFL UK

A security guard keeps warm

A security guard keeps warm

Source: bbc.com

 

Egypt holds first parliament in three years

Egypt's parliament has opened for the first time in more than three years, packed with supporters of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The previous Islamist-dominated legislature was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012.

The following year, the then General Sisi ousted President Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against him and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

Egypt's new parliament has just 15 days to ratify over 300 new laws issued.

Newly elected MPs were sworn in on the first day. They were then due to elect a speaker and two deputies.

Parliament comprises 568 elected members and is dominated by an alliance loyal to President Sisi.

Sunday's session was supposed to be mostly procedural but it was disrupted by one outspoken member.

Murtada Mansour, a President Sisi supporter, at first refused to read the official text of the MPs' oath, before relenting and "hurriedly and casually" reciting it, the Associated Press reported.

Mr Mansour was angry at parts of the text endorsing the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which some pro-government figures now see as a mistake, according to the agency.

Source: bbc.com

Ghana's Otto Addo takes up coaching role in Denmark

Former Ghana international Otto Addo has been appointed assistant coach of Danish Superliga club FC Nordsjælland.

The 40-year-old has previously worked as a scout for the Black Stars as well as an assistant at German side Hamburger.

"We have been looking for an addition to the team and with Otto on board we have a coach who understands the European and African mentality," Head of Football Carsten Jensen told the club website.  

Addo played for Ghana between 1999 and 2006, when he featured at that year's World Cup in Germany.

One of a small but increasing number of Africans working as a coach in European football, he has welcomed his appointment.

"I'm really thrilled for this new opportunity and I'm looking forward to meeting the other coaches and players," Addo told the club website.

"I'm really excited with the big Danish talent here that can be supplemented by players from Right to Dream, this will give us an unique chance of developing people to the highest level."

Right to Dream is a football academy that started in Ghana and which now has bases in seven different African countries.

A former Bundesliga player with Hannover and Borussia Dortmund among others, Nordsjælland are hoping that Addo can pass on his experience to the club's next generation.

Addo won the German league with Dortmund in 2002, the same year that the team were beaten by Dutch side Feyenoord in the Uefa Cup final, with Addo a second-half substitute.

"Otto brings valuable experience with the German-mentality with more than 300 games in the Bundesliga and playing in the World Cup," added Jensen.

"This mentality should help all our players to understand what it takes to play at the top level."

The Danish Superliga is currently on a winter break but resumes in late February.

Nordsjælland, whose sole title came in 2012, currently sit eighth in the 12-team league.

Source: bbc.com

Koala supervisor, three others arrested in a botched robbery

Police have arrested a supervisor at the Cantonments branch of Koala Shopping Mall in Accra after his alleged role in a foiled robbery attempt Saturday.
Greater Accra Region Police Public Relations Officer ASP Afia Tenge told Joy News, Gilbert Osabutey allegedly gave information to two armed robbers leading to an attack on a colleague who was on her way to deposit money at the bank.
The incident occured at about 10am and involved two robbers including a Nigerian and an accomplice, Doe Ahiagbeku 28, alias 'Old Soldier' who is a security man at ACACIA Construction firm. They have been arrested and are assisting the police in their investigations.
The robbers - Abaliku Sannie 35 and Oko Quaicoo 30 - who were on a motor bike shot at the lady in an attempt to take the company's money she was carrying.
Apparently, she had been sent by her office, Koala Shopping Mall, to deposit the undisclosed amount at the bank.
A taxi driver who witnessed the incident, gave the two a chase and knocked them down. They were arrested by passers-by.
“The police preliminary investigations indicate that the entire robbery was masterminded by the supervisor of the Koala Shopping Mall,” ASP Afia Tenge said.
Extracts of a video of the arrest of the two robbers circulating on social media show angry eyewitnesses pouncing on them to ensure they don’t run away.
The victim who sustained gunshot wounds in her thigh and calf is receiving medical attention.
The robbers are also responding to treatment.
ASP Afia Tenge indicated that the taxi driver whose effort helped in arresting the robbers would be rewarded by the police administration and including repairing his damaged vechilce.


Source: myjoyonline.com

Togo's opposition leader: 'I did not comment on Ghana's register'

The President of Togo’s opposition political party, Alliance Nationale pour le Changement (ANC), Mr Jean-Pierre Fabre has denied making any statements about a refusal by the Togolese Electoral Commission to provide its counterpart in Ghana with a copy of its voters register.

Last week Mr Masseme Esse, claiming to be an Advisor to Mr Fabre granted an interview to some Ghanaian radio stations and purporting to be speaking for the leader of the largest opposition political party in Togo, he said the ANC was “bemused” by reports that the Togolese Electoral Commission declined to provide its counterpart in Ghana with a copy of its register for verification of the soft copy of the register used by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its analysis to back calls for a new voters register.

In a communique signed by Jean-Pierre Fabre and issued in Lome on January 7, 2016, the ANC said Mr Masseme’s presentation in the Ghanaian media as an Advisor and speaking in their leader’s name was false.

Rather, the party said it was aware Mr Masseme lives and works in Germany and even though he was a supporter of the party, he was not an Advisor and does not occupy any position or place in the ANC.

It said Mr Masseme, therefore, does not have any right to speak on behalf of the ANC, as a party, let alone in the name of the President on any subject whatsoever.

It said whatever he has said was therefore only his personal opinion.

Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC

 

Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC
Below is a copy of  the statement from the ANC

Togo ANC letter

source: ghanaweb.com

Messi wins fifth Ballon d'Or award

Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or over Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player for the fifth time.

The 28-year-old Argentine had 41.33% of the vote, with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo (27.76%) second and Barca's Neymar (7.86%) third.

Either Messi or Ronaldo, who became a three-time winner last year, have won the past eight awards.

United States midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final, won the women's award.

England coach Mark Sampson was beaten to the women's football coach of the year award by USA boss Jill Ellis.

Messi's 2015 in numbers

  • 61 games, 52 goals and 26 assists.
  • A goal every 101 minutes and an assist every 202 minutes.
  • Best minutes-per-goal rate - 80 - of anyone scoring a minimum of 10 goals across Europe's top five leagues during 2015.
  • Directly involved in 49 goals in La Liga - 34 scored and 15 assists - which was the joint-most with Ronaldo in 2015 across the top five European leagues.
  • Scored in all six club tournaments in 2015, as Barcelona won five of them.

Lionel Messi extended his record haul of world player of the year awards with his fifth after winning the treble - La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League - with Barcelona in 2014-15.

Portugal captain Ronaldo, 30, scored 57 goals in as many games in 2015 - including a record 16 in the Champions League - but that was not enough to win him Ballon d'Or number four.

Barcelona striker Neymar, 23, was the first Brazilian to finish in the top three since Kaka won the 2007 award. He scored 45 goals in 62 games and is joint top scorer in this season's La Liga with 15, level with team-mate Luis Suarez.

"It's a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage, winning again another Ballon d'Or after seeing Cristiano win it," Messi said.

"It's incredible that it's my fifth. Much more than anything I would have dreamed of as a kid."

Women's world player of the year

Carli Lloyd

USA's World Cup-winning midfielder Carli Lloyd, 33, won the women's world player of the year award after scoring a hat-trick in the final against Japan, including a sensational strike from the halfway line. She earned the Golden Ball for best player in the tournament.

Former Germany striker Celia Sasic finished second despite retiring halfway through 2015 at the age of 27. In the first half of the year she was top scorer in the World Cup with six goals and won the Champions League with Frankfurt.

Japan midfielder Aya Miyama, 30, captained her country to the World Cup final, where they lost to the USA. She was third.

None of the shortlisted trio had won the award before.

Lloyd said: "It has been a dream ever since I started with the national team. Keep your dreams and just go after them."

Fifa/Fifpro World XI

Real Madrid had as many players as Barcelona, four, in the world team of the year despite not winning a trophy.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was German champions Bayern Munich's only representative. The Premier League was the only of Europe's top five leagues to not have anyone in the team.

Fifa/Fifpro World XI

World coach of the year - men's football

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique won the world coach of the year award after leading his side to five of the six trophies on offer in 2015, including the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

He beat Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola, who was second, and Chile's Copa America-winning coach Jorge Sampaoli to the award.

World coach of the year - women's football

United States coach Jill Ellis was named women's football world coach of the year after leading her country to World Cup glory in the summer.

England coach Mark Sampson finished third with 10.68% of the vote after their third-place finish in Canada. Second was Japan coach Norio Sasaki, whose side beat England in the semi-finals, but lost to USA in the final.

"It is a true honour," said Ellis. "To Fifa, to our own federation, thank you for your belief, your vision and your investment in women's football."

Puskas award - goal of the year

Atletico Goianiense's Wendell Lira won the goal of the year award for a spectacular overhead kick in Brazil's Goiano state league game against Goianesia.

Messi's run from halfway and finish in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao was second, with Roma full-back Alessandro Florenzi's 55-yard goal against Barca third.

Fair play award

Former Leeds and South Africa captain Lucas Radebe announced the winner of this year's fair play award - all football clubs and organisations supporting refugees.

There was no shortlist for this award.

How does voting work?

Journalists, national team coaches and captains vote for their top three in all categories, apart from the Puskas and fair play ones.

They select their first, second and third choice for each award, with five, three and one points given to each place respectively.

The winner is the person with the most points. In the event of a tie, it goes to the player or coach with the most first places.

The Puskas award, for the "most beautiful goal" of 2015, is voted for by users of the Fifa and France Football websites.

Source: bbc.com

Louis van Gaal: Some Man Utd games have bored me

Louis van Gaal admits he has been "very bored or angry" during some Manchester United games this season.

The Old Trafford boss said he had "enjoyed" some matches during a campaign defined by the Dutchman's possession-based tactics.

United are out of the Champions League and fifth in the Premier League.

Home supporters booed Van Gaal's team off at half-time in Saturday's FA Cup tie against Sheffield United, with thousands leaving early.

Asked why many fans had gone before Wayne Rooney's 93rd-minute penalty secured a 1-0 third-round win, Van Gaal replied: "'They are not thinking that we would score, I think, and maybe also because of the traffic."

Van Gaal suggested United fans should be "happy" with their team's current form, despite the home side not managing a shot on target until the 69th minute against their League One opponents.

Van Gaal refused to react to former United midfielder Paul Scholes, who said both the players and manager looked "bored" and there was "no spirit".

But the 64-year-old later admitted: "There are matches that I have enjoyed. And there are also matches where I'm very bored or angry because we are not disorganising our opponent's defence, but that is football."

United travel to the Championship's second-placed side Derby County in the fifth round.

'I don't believe in yelling from the sidelines'

Scholes is one of several ex-United players to be very critical of United's style of play.

"There's nobody having a go at each other, there's no smiling, there's no entertainment," the 11-time Premier League winner said. "I think even Van Gaal on the bench looks bored, but he'll come out and say he's happy."

Van Gaal said he never discusses such comments with assistant manager Ryan Giggs - an ex team-mate of Scholes - and defended his absence form the touchline during matches.

"I'm not Sir Alex, as you know," said Van Gaal. "Everybody is different and I don't believe in yelling from the sidelines. I believe in communication during the week, during the preparation and I believe in my players who have to perform.

"A lot of managers are [yelling from the sidelines] but I doubt if they have real influence."

Source: bbc.com

Evacuation call at starving Syrian town

Some 400 people in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya need to be urgently evacuated for medical treatment, says UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien.

After briefing the UN Security Council on the crisis in the rebel-held town near Damascus, he warned that those people could die.

Earlier, an aid convoy brought food to 40,000 town residents who have been under government siege for six months.

The UN says it has received credible reports of people dying of starvation.

Simultaneously, aid lorries entered two towns besieged by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib under a deal between the warring parties.

The situation in Foah and Kefraya is also said to be extremely dire, with an estimated 20,000 people trapped there since March.

The arrival of the aid was delayed until both sets of lorries were ready to enter the towns.

Siege warfare in Syria

Syria's civilians living a 'life worse than death'

'Simply too weak'

Mr O'Brien was speaking at the UN headquarters in New York after the Security Council held an urgent meeting to discuss the crisis.

"I've just been told by the humanitarian co-ordinator, Yacoub El Hillo, that whilst he was at the hospital in Madaya he saw that there were around 400 people who must be evacuated immediately.

"We must seek to do this and put the arrangements in place as soon as possible for medical treatment. Or they are in grave peril of losing their lives and dying with either the causes being from malnutrition or for complications for other medical reasons," Mr O'Brien said.

A few town residents were given permission to leave and could be seen with belongings awaiting evacuation.

In total, some 44 lorries operated by the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Syrian Red Crescent and the World Food Programme (WFP) reached Madaya from Damascus on Monday.

The convoy brought in food and medicines, as well as blankets, shelter materials and soap.

The distribution of supplies was expected to continue through the night.

Pawel Krzysiek, who is with the ICRC in Madaya, said after arriving: "The people... were coming every five minutes asking, 'Listen, did you bring food, did you bring medicine?'

"Some are smiling and waving at us but many are just simply too weak, with a very bleak expression, too tired."

Mr El Hillo told the BBC that UN staff saw starving children in the town.

One resident, Hiba Abdel Rahman, 17, told the AFP: "For 15 days we have been eating only soup.

"I saw a young man killing cats and presenting the meat to members of his family as rabbit. Some people went through garbage bins, others ate grass. We sought food from the fighters but they refused to give it to us."

Madaya, which is about 25km (15 miles) north-west of Damascus and 11km from the border with Lebanon, been besieged since early July by government forces and their allies in Lebanon's Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement.

Meanwhile, 21 lorries on Monday entered Another entered Foah and Kefraya.

They were carrying basic food items - including rice, vegetable oil, flour, sugar and salt - as well as water, infant formula, blankets, medicines and surgical supplies.

Map showing besieged parts of Syria

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Sunday that a total of 28 people - including six children less than one year old - had died of starvation in Madaya since 1 December.

However, Syrian officials and Hezbollah have denied that there have been any deaths in the town.

"The Syrian government is not and will not exert any policy of starvation against its own people," Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Ja'afari was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Rebel leaders were also accused of selling food to Madaya residents at exorbitant prices.

Blockades have been a feature of Syria's civil war. Up to 4.5 million people live in hard-to-reach areas, including nearly 400,000 people in 15 besieged locations who do not have access to life-saving aid.


What's happening in Syria?

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in almost five years of conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a brutal civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels opposed to his rule battle each other - as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State.

Why are civilians under siege?

All parties to the conflict are using siege warfare, encircling populated areas, preventing civilians from leaving and blocking humanitarian access in an attempt to force opponents to surrender. Shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel have led to malnutrition and deaths among vulnerable groups.

Where are the sieges?

Government forces are besieging various locations in the eastern Ghouta area, outside Damascus, as well as the capital's western suburb of Darayya and the nearby mountain towns of Zabadani and Madaya. Rebel forces have encircled the villages of Foah and Kefraya in the northern province of Idlib, while IS militants are besieging government-held areas in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

Source: bbc.com

Pistorius seeks to appeal against murder conviction

The South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is to seek an appeal against his conviction for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp in February 2013 after firing four times through a locked toilet door.

A manslaughter verdict was overturned last month and a murder verdict introduced in its place.

The athlete's defence has lodged papers at the Constitutional Court, urging a review of his murder conviction.

He is currently under house arrest after spending one year of his original five-year sentence in jail.

South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in December that the lower court had not applied correctly the rule of dolus eventualis - whether Pistorius knew that a death would be a likely result of his actions.

The making and unmaking of Oscar Pistorius

Last month, Justice Eric Leach said that having armed himself with a high-calibre weapon, Pistorius must have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might die, especially given his firearms training.

Pistorius has always maintained he believed he was shooting at an intruder.

His lawyers say the appeals court made fundamental errors, claiming in appeal papers that the court "acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it rejected the factual finding of the Trial Court and replaced it with a contrary factual finding of its own".

Pistorius's lawyer, Andrew Fawcett, says the appeal is now in the hands of the director of public prosecutions, who must decide whether there are grounds for appeal. If so, the case will go before the Constitutional Court.

The South African made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, in London in 2012. He competed in the 400m, wearing carbon-fibre blades to run against able-bodied athletes.

Source: bbc.com

Former China deputy security chief Li Dongsheng jailed

China's former deputy national police chief Li Dongsheng has been jailed for 15 years for corruption offences, according to state media.

Li had ties to Zhou Yongkang, jailed for life in June in one of China's biggest ever corruption scandals.

The sentence was reported on an official China Central Television social media account.

The former deputy security minister stood accused of taking nearly 22m yuan ($3.3m; £2.3m) in bribes.

He was also accused of abuse of power in positions he held between 1996 and 2013, according to state media reports at the time.

Li was formally sacked in February last year, after coming under investigation, along with several other former associates of Zhou Yongkang.

Zhou served as China's security chief before retiring in 2012.

The former politician - one of the most senior in China - was convicted of a series of corruption charges, including bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

Source: bbc.com

EC not a detective institution – Prof. Oquaye

Chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, is not happy about the path that was chosen by the Electoral Commission to investigate the over bloated electoral register petition Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia submitted to it.

In his view, it was diplomatically incorrect for the EC to have written to its counterpart institution in Togo to verify if the claims submitted to its outfit by the NPP were authentic or not.

According to him, the best thing the Electoral Commission could have done to assuage the fears of Ghanaians since it is not a detective institution was to have sought the assistance of Interpol, Ghana Office, to use their advance forensic equipment to authenticate the claims of the NPP.

“There are certain things that you will need the Police to help investigate. The Electoral Commission is not detective institution. They don’t have forensic equipment to authenticate finger prints and pictures among other things. They just don’t have them because that is not their work”.

“So, on matters of such nature, you have to go to the Police CID for assistance. They have the forensic department to deal with issues of such magnitude”, he said in an interview on Accra-based Okay FM Monday.

In August, 2015, Dr. Bawumia, described the country’s electoral roll as terminally faulty and which cannot be relied on for the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

“The current voters’ register is incurably flawed, and cannot be relied on for the 2016 elections, and as a matter of urgency, we have submitted a petition to the Electoral Commission (EC), to register our displeasure”, he told journalists at a press conference held in Accra.

He revealed that the NPP had identified 76,286 persons with the same data in both Ghana and Togo’s voters’, a figure he said represents 10% of the work in progress.

The affected persons, he argued, were mostly found in the Volta Region, with Ketu South as one of the constituencies where the anomalies took place.

Some other African nationals from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, according to Dr. Bawumia, were also on the country’s electoral register.

Worried about the flawed document, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP then called for a new register ahead of the November 7, 2016 polls.

EC shoots down call for a new voters’ register

But the Electoral Commission under the tutelage from its Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, on the eve of the New Year, shot down the call for a new voters’ register.

It said the argument for the call for the new voters’ roll was not convincing and therefore, does not recommend the replacement of the current register.

Instead, the Commission said it “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.”

Arrest Dr. Bawumia

Following the EC’s pronouncement, the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called for the arrest of Dr. Bawumia for allegedly presenting falsified documents to the EC to deceive them.

General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah said the EC’s preliminary report on calls for new voters’ register suggests that the NPP Vice-Presidential candidate peddled falsehood that had the potential to destabilize the country, hence, the need to arrest him for questioning.

Interpol

But Prof. Oquaye commenting further said the report by the EC and the calls for the arrest of Dr. Bawumia lacked merit.

He said since the matter that was presented to the EC had an international dimension, the electoral body ought to have sought the assistance of Interpol to deal with it.

“Because the matter has that international dimension, there was the need to have invited Interpol. Togo is a signatory to the International Convention on Interpol likewise Ghana. So, the Interpol office in Ghana would have written to the Interpol office in Togo to assist in investigating the forensic aspect of the case brought before them (EC). Being a signatory to Interpol, Togo would then be obliged to make inquiry to the matter whether you like it or not.”
“They (EC) knew all these but wanted Asiedu Nketiah to do the propaganda for them but it won’t work”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

We are not part or against any terrorist group - Terror suspects break silence

The terror suspects and former detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are now in Ghana say they are not a part or against any terrorist group.

The two, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby are gracious to Ghana's president for providing them a new home in Ghana and have promised to lead peaceful lives.

They insist they are innocent people who were unjustifiably detained by the United States for 14 years but they were quick to add that they are not a threat to Ghana.

The admission into Ghana of the two detainees have been a raging controversy in the country with many Ghanaians accusing the government of risking the security of its citizenry.

Political parties, civil society groups, including the Christian Council of Ghana have all kicked against government's decision to accept the two. But the government says it accepted to admit the two as part of an obligation to the international community.

In the midst of the controversy, the two suspects have for the first time broken their silence.

Speaking in an interview on Uniq Fm, the  detainees assured Ghanaians they are not a threat.

"We want to thank the president and the good people of Ghana for the decision they made to accept us.

"We are not a part or against any group like Al qaeda or other things. We  do not belong to any part of them.

"We are here and want to live a normal life. We have been wrongly arrested for 14 years without any charge against us.

"We want to live in Ghana quietly and peacefully. We are happy for the warm reception accorded to us," one of them stated.

Source: http://myjoyonline.com

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Security Analyst refutes claims by Gitmo detainees they are innocent

Security Expert, Dr Kwesi Aning, wants claims by the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees that they are not a part or against any terrorist group to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Centre says the claims by the two detainees during an interview on Accra-based Uniq FM Monday could be a ruse.

"The nature of terrorist recruitment strategies and the brainwashing that takes place means that these guys are highly-trained operatives, they know how to tell stories that seem convincing and they will continue to do what they've done," Dr Aning told Joy News' Kwabena Owusu-Ampratwum.

The two former terror suspects, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby said they are grateful to President John Mahama for providing them a new home in Ghana and have reolved to lead peaceful lives.

They say they are innocent people who were unjustifiably detained by the United States government for 14 years.

They insist they are not a threat to Ghana.

"We are not a part or against any group like Al qaeda or other things. We  do not belong to any part of them.

"We are here and want to live a normal life. We have been wrongly arrested for 14 years without any charge against us.

"We want to live in Ghana quietly and peacefully. We are happy for the warm reception accorded to us," one of the detainees said during the interview.

The Uniq FM interview is seen by many as a strategy to quell public fear of a possible terror attack  as Ghana accepts the detainees from the US government.

However, Dr Aning thinks the interview on Monday evening was unnecessary and a deception.

"If the US, with all its enhanced interrogation techniques could not break these people down and they now have the perception that these people are safe, I am worried and disturbed that we are giving such  platform to these individuals to try and convince a nation of 24 million people that they are peaceful," he stated.

Dr Aning cited a US Department of Defence report in 2009 that described Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef as posing a high risk to the United States, its interest and allies to drum home his point that the two detainees pose a threat to the country's security.

"They [the US] are telling us seven years down the line that their assessment has changed. That raises even more questions.

"If those assessments are now perceived to be wrong,  what assessments were made in terms of the way in which their supporters and those groups that they belong to will react to their being brought to Ghana. What will be the perception of Islamic State in West Africa, that is the previous Boko Haram and Al qaeda " he demanded.


Source: myjoyonline.com

I will accept Gitmo detainees in my constituency

Member of Parliament for Amenfi Central in the Western region is offering to accommodate the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees as refugees in his constituency.

According to George Kofi Arthur, there is nothing wrong with government’s decision to accept the Yemeni nationals in Ghana.

Ghana is expected to provide shelter for the two Yemini terror suspects Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby.

The two have been in detention for 14 years after being picked up in Afghanistan and suspected to have been linked to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

Government's decision to accommodate the former Guantanamo Bay detainees has generated a lot of public uproar with political parties and the Christian Council of Ghana demanding the two suspects be sent out of the country.

But the Amenfi Central MP on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem says that the noise being made is much ado about nothing.

In his view, the security agencies have done due diligence thus the two terror suspects don’t pose any threat to Ghana.

“We don’t have to make a lot of noise about these people. If Ghana was not to be a peaceful country, America would not have brought their people here,” he said.

Kofi Arthur could not fathom why people were making a lot of noise about the issue when in fact most Chinese nationals in Ghana are ex-convicts.

He blamed the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for creating fear and panic on the issue just for cheap political points.

“The NPP is making a mountain out of a molehill because they have nothing to say. I’m willing to accept them at my house in my constituency and we will live peacefully” he stressed.

Kofi Arthur urged Ghanaians to ignore the ugly noises by the NPP and trust the government.


Source: myjoyonline.com

Quata out with “Take U Home” featuring Sarkodie

Barely a week after he released his first single in 2016, "One Life to Live", Quata is out again with another mind blowing and dope song. He calls it “Take U Home” which features the best rapper in Africa, Sarkodie. The tune is made up of fast paced rap and tongue twisting that Ghana has never experienced. It comes with some heavy weight flows and extreme twists making it very unique in today’s modern showbiz.

Singer, songwriter and rapper Quata Budukusu is a maverick in the hip-life music world. He defies any easy pigeonholing where rap music in Ghana is concerned.

By turns, Quata sings a witty song about modern life of a man trying to “con” a lady with added melody on the guitar which reaches deep for a soulful expression of values in a troubled girl’s world. Sarkodie tops it all off with a great rap verse, all skillfully blended into a seamless flow.

Design for Take U Home

One female fan who listened to this tune produced by Ragoon Beatz before its release said, “It is a song that hits you right between the eyes and the added melody on the guitar alone produces a soulful expression of soothingness.”

It is not just a wealth of musical styles, but the blend of his smooth and expressive voice that makes Quata such a fine artiste who was missed during his absence in Ghana music. His songs, which range from thoughtful to trivial, with poetic expression show that he knows his way around the Ghanaian culture just as well as his mastery of music engineering and what his fans and Ghanaians want.

Sit back, download, listen, enjoy and share with family and friends. Don’t forget to let them know Quata Budukusu, the only tongue twister in Ghana, is back with great tunes.

 

Quata ft Sarkodie - Take U Home https://soundcloud.com/bakusgrp/quata-ft-sarkodie-take-u-home

 

Below are links to other songs announcing his comeback:

 

Quata - One life to live

Quata - Pum Pum Shots

Quata - Ohia

Quata - Wind N Go Low

 

By: www.bakusradio.com, USA

Gitmo duo: 'No need to panic' – Hanna Tetteh

Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh, has said Ghanaians must not panic about the relocation of two Guantanamo Bay ex-convicts to Ghana, since, according to her, they posed no threat to the security of the country.

Speaking on Accra-based Radio XYZ Monday, January 11, 2016, Ms. Tetteh said: “We indicated to them that we will be ready to take two. These are the ones that are known and can be managed. There is no need to panic.”

“Our security forces and agencies are capable of handling it. These people are not going to be a threat to the people of Ghana.

“They asked us for assistance. This assistance is not beyond our capacity to give. It is not putting Ghanaians at risk.

“It is not going to create a situation where we are attracting hordes of terrorists that these people don’t even know into the country.

“Throughout the period they are here, they are going to be continuously under surveillance.

“They know that they being able to leave after two years is dependent on their good behaviour.

“They were not compelled to come to Ghana. They understand the terms of their arrest. We understand our responsibility. We have the capacity to manage,” Ms. Tetteh added.

There has been public outcry about the government of Ghana’s decision to accommodate the two terror suspects who have ties to terrorist groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The National Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah, has said government’s decision to accept the suspected terrorists is a continuation of the injustice the United States of America is perpetrating across the world.

International relations expert Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso has also said it could open up the country to security threats.

Also, a former presidential advisor in the Kufuor administration, Vicky Bright, has said Ghana, by accepting the detainees, was importing trouble to its shores.

Former Deputy Minister for the Interior, K.T. Hammond has said the two should be sent back to Guantanamo Bay.

The Minority in Parliament has also raised concerns about the failure of the presidency to consult the House on the matter.

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has also expressed similar concerns. The Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council has also kicked against the move.

Source: ghanaweb.com