No one should be complacent – British High Commissioner on Gitmo saga

The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin has cautioned that even though Ghana’s resolve in sheltering the two former detainees from Guantanamo bay is purely based on bilateral relations with its counterpart, the Ghanaian government should not be complacent on the security threats to its decision.

“…It only takes very few people to create complete carnage…so  no one should be complacent

“… We should be very vigilant because it’s a real threat to us all,” Benjamin told Jay Foley and Jeremie on the LBC Morning Show on Live 91.9 FM Thursday.

He said lessons should be drawn from the incident in Burkina Faso that led to the killing of some 29 people, insisting that austere measures must be taken by the Ghanaian government to forestall any untoward event in relation to the two Yemeni guests.

The opposition party’s leader, Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday told a large crowd of party faithful in Wa that President Mahama acted in breach of Section 35 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008, (Act 762).

That aside, he said the President’s decision not to consult the relevant stakeholders concerning the stay of the two in Ghana, has resulted in heightened levels of fear amongst the citizenry.

A lot of Civil Society Organizations and Faith Based Organisations in Ghana have waded into the unpopular conversation demanding that government return the ex-Gitmo detainees to their home country, as this they fear could threaten the security of the country.

However, speaking on Live 91.9 FM Thursday ,the British High Commissioner said the British government will remain completely neutral on the issue, saying he won’t be allowed to be tricked into making arguments that could have dire consequences on the volatile issue on the ground.

“This is essentially a bilateral issue between US, and Ghana. Here we are in January, the election here is 7th November , we are already in election season in some sense. What I won’t be doing is allowing anyone to drag us to make party political points on either side.”


My Fans Say I Deserve Artiste Of The Year - Bisa Kdei

Even before the nomination list of the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) is announced, highlife artiste, Bisa Kdei, has revealed his fans believe he deserves the Artiste of the Year award at this year’s event.

According to the Azonto Ghost hitmaker, he shares the views of his huge following on social media who believe he deserves to take home Artiste of the Year, because he worked hard in the year under review.

“I agree with what my fans are saying because I really worked last year. I can confidently say that I am the only artiste who had two great songs blazing at the same time. Mansa and Brother Brother are testimonies of my hard work ” he told Showbiz.

When it was pointed out to him that he could not be the only artiste whose works ruled the airwaves in the year under review, Bisa Kdei said “yes, the likes of Stonebwoy, R2Bees, E.L Shatta Wale, did very well last year, but I stand tall among them all’’.

Asked if he would be disappointed if he does not emerge Artiste of the Year 2015, Bisa said he would not be disappointed at all because he has been able to make a huge impact with his two songs—Mansa and Brother Brother.

“Having both the young and old loving my songs is beyond expectation, and that alone is an award to me. I know that I really worked hard last year, but I will be very cool with whoever wins the ultimate award at the VGMA” he said.

Touching on his plans for this year, Bisa, who is also known for songs such as Metanfo, Odo Carpenter, Give It To Baba and Over, said Ghanaians will be taken by storm with what he has in store this year.

“I don’t want to give too much away but I have loads of surprises for my fans. I have featured great artistes on my album which I intend to release at the end of the year, and I know Ghanaians will love it” he said.

Source: Daily Graphic

Man U Booed off as Saints win at Old Trafford.

Substitute Charlie Austin scored seven minutes into his Southampton debut as a lacklustre Manchester United were booed off at Old Trafford.

Austin rose to head home a free-kick in the 87th minute to win an otherwise dour game of few chances.

Southampton have now won at United in the league for the last two seasons.

United and their manager Louis van Gaal were jeered by home fans at full-time after producing just one shot on target in 90 minutes.

They have won just one of their past five home games - and have failed to score in three of those.

United's first-half record in front of goal is even worse. They have now gone eight hours and 26 minutes without scoring in the first 45 minutes of games at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal's side are now five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who won 3-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Southampton are now just four points and three league places behind United, having won their past three matches. The win also ends a four-match losing streak away from St Mary's for Ronald Koeman's team.

Manchester United half-time scores for last 11 games

Austin's dream debut

Southampton paid QPR just £4m to sign Austin on 16 January - a figure more representative of the length of time left on his contract with the Championship club than his ability.

In the 2014-15 season, the striker scored 18 Premier League goals, then added 10 in 16 Championship matches prior to his move back to the top flight.

And it took him just seven minutes to pick up where he left off as he found space in the box to meet fellow substitute James Ward-Prowse's free-kick and bury a header past David de Gea.

Prior to that, the Saints were comfortable, working hard to disrupt United's rhythm, managing possession well and looking to hit on the break.

They produced the best of what were few chances in the game, but Sadio Mane fluffed a shot from the edge of the box and Shane Long and Victor Wanyama headed wide from successive corners.

United came into the game off the back of two encouraging performances - an improved attacking display at Newcastle and a confidence-boosting win at Liverpool.

But they were unable to build on those, producing a tame 90 minutes strewn with errors and completely lacking in speed of thought or movement.

It made Southampton's containment job an easy one and left them vulnerable to the kind of late sting they had inflicted at Anfield last Sunday.

Van Gaal and his team were booed off at the end of a first half in which Saints keeper Fraser Forster was only tested once - from an optimistic 40-yard shot from Daley Blind - and Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all shot woefully wide.

The jeers and abuse were far more ferocious at the end of a second half that United began more encouragingly following the introduction of Juan Mata, but quickly faded after Southampton had seen off their initial charge.

Is this the end?

The defeat is sure to intensify the pressure on Van Gaal.

The 64-year-old had suggested last week's win at Liverpool could be "fantastic starting point" for his side in 2016, but he has now led United to their lowest ever Premier League points tally (37) after 23 games.

After the match, the Dutchman admitted that the home supporters were right to boo, adding: "In better or worse we have to stick together.

"You have to meet expectation and expectations are very high, that gives a lot of pressure for the players.

"We are working very hard but we have a lot of injuries. That you cannot change."

The stats you need to know...

  • Southampton have won back-to-back away games at Old Trafford against Man United for the first time since 1969.
  • Charlie Austin has scored four times in his last five league games. It was his first Premier League goal since the final day of last season, meaning he's scored in back-to-back Premier League games.
  • Old Trafford has seen just three first half goals scored in 11 Premier League games this season; fewer than any other stadium. Only one of those has been scored by a United player (Memphis v Sunderland).
  • United have managed just one shot on target in their last two home league games to Southampton.

What they said...

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "I had a feeling they could score only from a set-play. Our defence in set-plays was weaker because I changed Fellaini and had to change Darmian. Every change was a weakness in defence.

"I wanted to win this game and that's why I changed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson for Adnan Januzaj. That is a risk you take, it was a poor game and we didn't create so much and neither did our opponent."

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman: "We played very good. Our organisation was good, we were very compact, we had good pressing.

"We stayed in the game, controlled the game and you saw more nerves in the Man Utd team and finally we score from a corner kick.

"We showed spirit today, it was an amazing result for the second time here."

What next?

Manchester United are away at Championship side Derby in the fourth round of the FA Cup next Friday evening. Southampton's next match is in the league - a tough trip to Arsenal on Tuesday, 2 February.


Aguero double rescues Man City Point

Manchester City lost ground on Premier League leaders Leicester City as Sergio Aguero scored twice to rescue a draw at West Ham.

Enner Valencia struck from inside the area after 53 seconds for the Hammers but Aguero equalised with a penalty after he had been fouled.

The hosts retook the lead when Valencia capitalised on hesitant defending by Nicolas Otamendi to stab in.

However, Aguero struck from 10 yards late on to earn his side a point.

The result means Manchester City are second, three points behind Leicester, while West Ham are sixth.

Read about how the game unfolded

Reaction to all of Saturday's Premier League action

A good point, but City's away form a worry

Of the sides in the top three, Manchester City boast the worst away record.

They have won just four games on the road all season, while their last five away trips have seen them pick up just six points from a possible 18, a far from ideal record for a side challenging for the title.

Against West Ham, it was their inability to complete the basics of defending that was of particular concern.

They switched off in the first minute to allow West Ham to score, but their defending for the hosts' second was particularly poor.

Michail Antonio's quick throw initially caught out Otamendi, but he still had the time to be able to clear before Valencia nipped in to poke home.

Luckily for City they had Aguero to rescue them, but with away trips to struggling Sunderland and Newcastle coming up, Pellegrini's side can ill afford such lapses in those games.

Hammers to challenge for Europe?

After a strong start to last season West Ham dropped away at the turn of the year, winning just three more Premier League games.

The Hammers were similarly impressive in the first half of the current campaign but, crucially, they look capable of continuing that through the second half of the season this time.

They had won three of their four games in 2016 prior to the visit of Manchester City, and boast an impressive record against top seven sides, having lost just twice to the sides around them.

In Dimitri Payet they have one of the most exciting player in the Premier League and he tormented City throughout, with only a world-class save from Hart denying him a goal.

With West Ham six points behind fourth-place Tottenham, a top-four finish might be a tough ask, but their recent form suggests they will be prompting a few nervous glances over the shoulders of their rivals.

Toure struggles to make an impression

After a strong start to last season West Ham dropped away at the turn of the year, winning just three more Premier League games.

The Hammers were similarly impressive in the first half of the current campaign but, crucially, they look capable of continuing that through the second half of the season this time.

They had won three of their four games in 2016 prior to the visit of Manchester City, and boast an impressive record against top seven sides, having lost just twice to the sides around them.

In Dimitri Payet they have one of the most exciting player in the Premier League and he tormented City throughout, with only a world-class save from Hart denying him a goal.

With West Ham six points behind fourth-place Tottenham, a top-four finish might be a tough ask, but their recent form suggests they will be prompting a few nervous glances over the shoulders of their rivals.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure made 36 passes in the opposition half - only David Silva made more - but his accuracy was just 69.4%

There has been plenty of uncertainty about Yaya Toure's future in the newspapers this week, but City boss Manuel Pellegrini has urged the midfield to concentrate on helping his side challenge for the title.

Pellegrini clearly felt Toure is fully focused on the task at hand as he recalled him for the trip to West Ham, but was sluggish at the start.

He was left woefully wanting when Cheikhou Kouyate ghosted past inside a minute to set up Valencia for the opener.

In the end, Toure had more touches of the ball than any other City player, but struggled to make a telling impression in the opposition half, with only defenders Fernando and Otamendi having a worst passing accuracy than the midfielder.

What they said

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: "It was a great game of football. I'm so proud of our team and Man City. There was everything in it. Four goals, chances, yellow cards and a penalty.

"We were a little bit disappointed, but I said to the players they shouldn't be. But if you are disappointed after playing Man City then that's good.

"We defended well and created many chances."

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "It [a draw] was not what we wanted before the game. If you analyse the whole game we had two or three clear chances. It was a difficult game - I was not happy the way we conceded the second goal.

"It was a close game for both teams and a good game for both sets of fans. It was end to end because both teams play in an attacking way.

"Sergio Aguero played very well and scored. I think he is 100% again."

The stats you need to know

  • Valencia's opening goal was the second quickest goal (53 seconds) in the Premier League this season - Matt Ritchie's goal for Bournemouth against Spurs was timed at 49 seconds.
  • Sergio Aguero has been involved in eight goals (six goals, two assists) in his eight league appearances against West Ham.
  • All of Man City's four penalties in the Premier League this season have been taken by different players (Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony, Aleksandar Kolarov and Aguero).
  • The Hammers have scored three goals via thrown-ins in the Premier League this season - Arsenal are the only other team to score via this method (1).
  • Aguero's scored his 89th and 90th goals in his 136th Premier League appearance - the same number it took Ruud van Nistelrooy to hit the 90-goal milestone. Only Alan Shearer (90 in 113 games) has done it quicker.

What next?

West Ham are in FA Cup fourth-round action at Liverpool on 30 January while Manchester City's next game is at Sunderland in the Premier League on 2 February.



Vardy strikes as Leicester back on top of table

Leicester moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League with an impressive victory over Stoke.

Jamie Vardy struck straight at Jack Butland early on before Leicester's Danny Drinkwater lashed in from the edge of the area close to half time.

Vardy rounded Butland and slotted into an open net as Leonardo Ulloa added a third from close range late on.

Stoke struggled throughout - their best chance falling to Joselu, whose header was pushed away by Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester leaders but now comes the hard part

Leicester had won just one of their last five league games going into this fixture and there were question marks about whether they could stay in the hunt for the Premier League title.

But they answered the critics with a thumping win over Stoke - full of energy and industry, and have now conceded just one goal in their last five games.

The Foxes are patrolled at the back by a strong centre-back pairing of Wes Morgan, who made seven clearances, and partner Robert Huth. In front of them, N'Golo Kante's vigour epitomised the team's performance.

Drinkwater's effort was their first from outside the box this season, while Vardy netted his first goal in six league games, before Ulloa struck after sublime skills from Riyad Mahrez.

Leicester's record of one defeat in their last 16 league games will be firmly put to the test in their next three matches against Liverpool, title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City - games which will define whether they are title pretenders.

One eye on the cup?

Stoke's problems lie in front of goal, having not scored in nine of their 23 league games this season. Striker Bojan was kept on the bench, perhaps with their League Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Tuesday in mind.

They managed just two shots on target against the Foxes, with neither effort testing goalkeeper Schmeichel, who had an easy afternoon.

Playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri was kept quiet and things were made worse when skipper Ryan Shawcross hobbled off with an injury in the first half.

Without their leader at the back, Stoke's hopes of finishing in a European spot were dented as they drop to ninth in the table.

What they said:

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri: "Nobody can believe it. Our fans are dreaming and I want them to continue to dream. I don't know if we are a contender at this moment. February is a big month and after that month I can say something more realistic."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "We played poorly today. We didn't get our game going at any point. At no point did we look like we were going to come back after conceding. We disappointed ourselves today and our supporters."

What next?

Stoke face Liverpool at Anfield in the League Cup semi-final on Tuesday 26 January, looking to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit, while Leicester host the same opposition in the Premier League on Tuesday 2 February.

The stats you need to know

  • Jamie Vardy ended his personal goal drought of 10 hours and 17 minutes without a goal in the Premier League
  • All four of Danny Drinkwater's league assists this season have been for Vardy
  • Leicester City have won nine and lost just one of their last 14 Premier League home matches
  • Stoke have conceded two or more goals in four of their last five away games in the Premier League


Costa goal sinks 10-man Arsenal

Diego Costa's first-half strike earned Chelsea victory and a league double over title-chasers Arsenal who had Per Mertesacker sent off in the first half.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men in the 18th minute when the German brought down Costa, who was through on goal.

Five minutes later the Spain striker put the Blues ahead when he tucked home Branislav Ivanovic's low cross.

Costa also forced a good save from Petr Cech, and Ivanovic's header was cleared off the line by Nacho Monreal.

The home's side's best chance fell to Mathieu Flamini who fired over from close range when he attempted to convert Aaron Ramsey's through-ball with a kung-fu kick.

Victory sees the Blues move up to 28 points and 13th position - their highest placing since 26 October. Defeat for the Gunners leaves them in third, three points behind Leicester who have 47 points.

More to follow.


Swansea win at Everton as Ayew scores

Francesco Guidolin's reign as Swansea head coach began with an impressive and much-needed victory at Everton.

The Italian oversaw an improved display from the Swans, who led through Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty.

The hosts levelled when Gareth Barry's near-post flick from a corner was touched into his own net by Jack Cork but Ayew's deflected strike won it.

Everton missed a host of chances, the best of which Seamus Coleman put over from six yards with the final kick.

This was the Welsh side's first league win over Everton but, more importantly, it is the first time they have managed successive victories in the Premier League this season, adding to Monday's 1-0 home success over Watford.

They are up to 15th in the table and now have a cushion between themselves and Newcastle in 18th and a momentum that eludes their relegation rivals.

It is another disappointing result for the Toffees, who twice threw away a lead to draw at Chelsea last weekend and have now won just three of their past 14 matches at Goodison Park and one win in 10 league matches overall.

They are 12th in the table having gone into the campaign hoping to improve on last season's 11th-placed finish.

Guidolin makes instant impact

Guidolin, 61, has spent the majority of his 30-year managerial career in Italy, most recently with Udinese, who he motivated to gain results seemingly beyond their means.

If he is to perform a similar task at Swansea, who had won just once in 11 Premier League away games prior to Sunday, he has begun in the right fashion.

Last weekend, Guidolin watched from the stands as the Swans ground out a narrow win over Watford - but they were more forceful from the start at Everton, working hard to win the ball high up the pitch and moving it effectively when they did.

In the opening 15 minutes they had over 60% of possession and took their first-half chances when they came, scoring from both of their shots on target.

Both goals came with a helping hand from home defender John Stones. His under-hit back-pass allowed Ayew to nip in and draw a foul from Tim Howard for the penalty, then his sliding attempt to block the Ghana forward's shot took it past the keeper for the second.

Swansea rode their luck on occasion as Everton went in search of an equaliser after the break, but they showed discipline and determination that will stand them in good stead for a relegation battle.

Everton their own worst enemy

Everton were on the wrong end of a couple of referee decisions on Sunday - a handball by Ashley Williams to set up the move from which Ayew scored Swansea's second and a dismissed claim for a penalty when Neil Taylor blocked Coleman's cross with his arm.

They were also unlucky to suffer two injuries in the first half, which deprived them of Kevin Mirallas and Muhamed Besic, who had hit the post with the first shot of the game.

Ultimately, though, the home side have only themselves to blame for their failure to gain at least a point from the game.

Stones' error and misfortune helped the Swans score their goals, while the Toffees' own wastefulness prevented them adding to their leveller, which found the far corner of the net off Cork after Barry had flicked on a Deulofeu corner.

Spanish winger Deulofeu delivered several crosses from the right that his team-mates were unable to convert, Romelu Lukaku twice headed over and Coleman dragged a shot wide before somehow side-footing over from just a few yards out in the final minute of added time.

Andre Ayew played a key role in the goals that won this game for Swansea - showing awareness to win the penalty before scoring the second himself. He has now scored in four of the Swans' six wins this season

Manager reaction

Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "We were very slow in our performance - pedestrian - but two aspects affected our momentum which was the two injuries.

"The first half and second half performance were very contrasting.

"We created enough chances to win the game. The fearful aspect of our performance was a real shame."

Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin: "Six points in two matches is very important for us because the table was not good.

"Now it is not very good. I hope to have the possibility to go up in the table.

"In this moment I am very happy. This is the first match in Premier League for me. I dreamed of working in Premier League but I didn't dream of winning the first match.

"I must understand what happens in this day because I am surprised. It is new for me."

The stats you need to know

  • Swansea won their first ever league match against Everton, at the 22nd attempt (D8 L13).
  • Goodison Park has now seen 46 Premier League goals this season, more than any other ground.
  • Tim Howard has given away the most penalties in the Premier League since August 2013 (5, level with Jose Fonte).
  • The Swans picked up their first away win in six Premier League games (D1 L4).
  • Francesco Guidolin emulated Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk by winning his first Premier League game in charge of the Swans.
  • Four of Gylfi Sigurdsson's five Premier League goals this season have come from a set-piece situation (3 penalties, 1 direct free-kick).

What next?

Everton have a cup double next. They are in Capital Cup action, taking a 2-1 lead to Manchester City for the second leg of the semi-final on Wednesday before then going to Carlisle in the fourth round of the FA Cup next Sunday.

Swansea travel to West Brom - who are now just three points above them - for another big Premier League fixture on Tuesday, 2 February.


US blizzard 2016: New York begins clear-up after mammoth snowfall

A travel ban in New York City has ended as the eastern US begins digging out from the weekend's massive snowstorm.

New York, the most populated city in the US, saw its second-highest snowfall since records began in 1869, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

As five states saw snowfall of three feet (91cm) or more, the hazards of shovelling snow were brought home by at least six deaths.

A further 12 people have died in other snow-related incidents since Friday.

The storm, dubbed Snowmageddon and Snowzilla on social media, is weakening and heading for the Atlantic Ocean.

It has affected some 85 million people, cutting power to 200,000 people. The heaviest fall was recorded in Glengary, West Virginia, which had 42ins (107 cm).

In Washington DC, the metro is set to remain closed and air travel in the region faces further disruption.

Some 7,000 flights were cancelled this weekend and disruption is to continue into the working week, with at least 615 cancelled for Monday.

Live updates on US blizzard

In pictures: #snowmageddon2016

How New Yorkers avoided going stir crazy

Why do so many people die shovelling snow?

Why was there so much snow?

Elements often come together to create snow, but not always in the same way and to this extent - it was the perfect winter storm

  • A low pressure system was able to transport and circulate huge amounts of moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico
  • The position of the jet stream allowed a low pressure system to be picked up and drawn northwards along the eastern seaboard
  • Very warm air falling into very cold air from the north and mixing meant there was only one thing that would happen - snow
  • Very strong winds: low pressure moves in one direction and high pressure in another and, much like cogs in a wheel, they increased the wind
  • The storm moved especially slowly, leading to more snow being dumped over a long time

Many people have taken to streets and parks to enjoy the snow, with a giant snowball fight breaking out on Times Square, New York, overnight.

A resident shovels snow away from the entrance to his home in Union City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan, after the second-biggest winter storm in New York history, January 24, 2016.

Union City in New Jersey, across the water from Manhattan, saw particularly high snow drifts

By the time the snow had stopped falling after two days, late on Saturday, New York's Central Park had received 26.8in, the second-biggest fall recorded since 1869.

The total was just 0.1in (0.25cm) shy of the all-time high, 26.9in, recorded in February 2006.

However, the 26.6in that fell in the park on Saturday alone was a one-day record for the city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Long Island Rail Road would remain out of action until at least Monday as the line had suffered "significant damage".

"This one is a cautionary tale for all of us," Mr de Blasio said on Sunday. "A storm that a day before, on Friday, was still being projected at eight to 12 inches, ends up being close to 27 inches."

States of emergency were declared in 11 states and in the District of Columbia.

DC director of homeland security Chris Geller warned on Sunday that roads would turn icy overnight, and urged people not to drive.

The capital's mayor, Muriel Bowser, asked residents to help clear snow from the business district.

In Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, drivers were stranded for hours on snowbound highways.

At least five people in the New York area died while shovelling or removing snow, the New York Times reports. A sixth death was reported in Baltimore, Maryland.

Among other deaths attributed to the storm was that of a man in North Carolina who stopped to help a motorist whose car had veered off an icy road. Police said the Good Samaritan was shot by the man he had gone to help.

In Ohio, a teenager sledding behind an all-terrain vehicle was hit by a lorry and killed.


South Sudan misses deadline to form unity government

South Sudan has missed a key deadline to create a transitional government, after the president increased the number of provinces from 10 to 28.

The plan for a unity government was part of a peace deal in August to end the civil war which began in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his then-deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

The two sides blame each other for violating the terms of the agreement.

Thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since 2013.

President Kiir, who said he had "reservations" about the August peace deal, appointed 28 new governors for the new provinces, just as rebel delegates arrived in the capital Juba, to begin work on the new government.

Read more

The former president of Botswana and head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae, told Al Jazeera the move was one of the many barriers to peace.

"One important one that has occurred, unfortunate in its timing, is the creation of 28 states because it's inconsistent with what is envisaged in the [peace] agreement and, therefore, it is not acceptable," Mr Mogae said.

The United Nations released a report this week, accusing both President Kiir's forces and Mr Machar's rebels of mutual killings, including "hundreds of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, gang-rapes, sexual slavery, forced abortion, [and] massive child soldier recruitment".

Peter Schumann, former director of the UN Mission in Southern Sudan told All Africa he would have been surprised if the transitional government had been established.

"Both parties have different agendas and do not follow their agreements," Mr Schumann said. "There is no peaceful solution, because both parties are trying to control territory and oil resources."


Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Gilles Simon in last 16

Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare against Gilles Simon to reach the last eight of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Five-time champion Djokovic made 100 unforced errors but prevailed 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 4-6 6-3 after four hours and 32 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, 28, is through to his 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.

Four-time champion Roger Federer was in vintage form in beating Belgium's David Goffin 6-2 6-1 6-4.

Djokovic plays Japan's Kei Nishikori in the last eight after the seventh seed beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-2 6-4, while third seed Federer plays Tomas Berdych.

The Czech sixth seed came through a testing encounter against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6 6-4 6-3 1-6 6-3.

'Just happy to get through'

"Playing against a player like Gilles you can expect a lot of rallies," said Djokovic, who is also through to his ninth successive Australian Open quarter-final.

"He is always making you play an extra shot. I made a lot of unforced errors today but he was fighting, he was playing well, physically it was very demanding and I'm just happy to get through this one."

Two breaks were enough for Djokovic to win the first set but the 10-time major champion spurned 11 break points in the second before winning the tie-break 7-1.

Djokovic broke twice again in the third but dabbed two limp drop-shots into the net when serving to stay in the set before missing a backhand to send the contest to a decider.

But Djokovic raised his game at the decisive moment, racing into a 4-1 lead in the fifth and serving out for the victory after Simon had saved two match points.

'No more drop-shots!'

When a spectator shouted out during Djokovic's on-court interview, the defending champion asked him to repeat what he had said.

When the member of the crowd repeated "no more drop-shots", the Serb shrugged and replied: "I hate to say it, but you're absolutely right."

Djokovic's tally of unforced errors is not a record - Yevgeny Kafelnikov hit 112 in defeating Fernando Vicente at the 2000 French Open.

On the plus side, Djokovic equalled Jimmy Connors' career mark of consecutive quarter-finals - only Federer has more with 36.

Federer sublime

Roger Federer

Federer won in Melbourne in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010 but was knocked out in round three last year

Seventeen-time major champion Federer, 34, barely put a foot wrong against 15th seed Goffin in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer raced through the first two sets in 50 minutes, hitting winners on both flanks and showing some beautiful touches at the net.

Goffin did finally break Federer in the third, but the Swiss wrapped up the match in an hour and 28 minutes, finishing with 39 winners and losing only 15 points on serve.

"I'm pleased with how I played," said Federer. "David normally gives me a hard time in practice so I was surprised at how well I went."

Nishikori surprised

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori also reached the last eight in Melbourne in 2012 and 2015

Nishikori broke ninth seed Tsonga's serve five times while the Frenchman hit eight double-faults in a flat display.

"Today was one of the best matches I've had this week," said 28-year-old Nishikori, a US Open finalist in 2014.

"I'm surprised that I broke him early every set. I was returning well, so that made it tough for him to have a good serve all the time."

Nishikori, 26, has never reached the semi-finals in Melbourne and trails Djokovic 5-2 in head-to-heads.

Hewitt's final farewell

Australian Lleyton Hewitt bowed out of professional tennis when he and compatriot Sam Groth lost their men's doubles match 6-4 6-2 to American Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil of Canada.

Hewitt, who lost to Spaniard David Ferrer in the second round of the singles, bows out at the age of 34, having won two Grand Slam titles and helping Australia lift the Davis Cup twice.



Chelsea beat Arsenal once again

Ten-man Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as Diego Costa's winner gave Chelsea victory at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners never fully recovered from defender Per Mertesacker's 18th-minute red card, awarded by referee Mark Clattenburg after he hauled down Costa as the striker raced clear.

The revitalised Costa scored the decisive goal five minutes later, turning in Branislav Ivanovic's cross at the near post to make it nine Premier League games without defeat for Chelsea against Arsenal.

Arsenal's potency suffered after manager Arsene Wenger decided to replace striker Olivier Giroud and introduce defender Gabriel to compensate for Mertesacker's dismissal.

Victory would have put Arsenal back on top but Chelsea survived in relative comfort to leave the Gunners in third place with Leicester City now holding a three-point lead over Manchester City at the Premier League summit.

Arsenal suffer pure frustration

Per Mertesacker is sent off

This was the day Arsenal were meant to lay the ghost of Chelsea, who went into this game unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against the Gunners.


Even Wenger's bogey man, Jose Mourinho, was out of the picture after his sacking. Wenger has lost five and drawn six of eleven league meetings with his old adversary.

And yet it was the same old story for Arsenal as the frustration of their players and fans inside the Emirates reached boiling point long before the final whistle.

There was no shortage of spirit and endeavour from Arsenal in the face of the numerical disadvantage inflicted on them after Mertesacker's early red card.

If anything, it was inspiration and a little self-belief Arsenal lacked against a side that looked physically stronger in a game where Wenger's side was missing a warrior who could get in and among the visitors in those exchanges.

Their best effort of the match fell to Mathieu Flamini who attempted to convert Aaron Ramsey's through-ball with a kung-fu kick, where a header might have been more appropriate.

The result is hardly a terminal blow to Arsenal's ambitions but a wound inflicted in familiar fashion. It now remains to be seen how much of an after-effect there is.

Costa revival sparks Chelsea

Diego Costa goal

Branislav Ivanovic's pinpoint cross was converted by Diego Costa


Diego Costa suffered the abuse of Chelsea's fans in the aftermath of Jose Mourinho's sacking as they regarded his poor form and attitude as a key factor in the sacking of "The Special One".

The relationship is repaired now, with Costa regaining that mixture of marksmanship and menace that made him so significant in last season's Premier League title win.

Costa's near-post finish from Ivanovic's delivery was his sixth in eight games since Mourinho left - and it was not just that quality that helped Chelsea look much more like their old selves.

He got under the skin of Arsenal's players and fans, although he could hardly be blamed for his involvement in Mertesacker's red card when he was unceremoniously bundled over as he tried to race clear.

Costa departed to the resounding jeers of Arsenal's fans and cheers of Chelsea's supporters when he was replaced by Loic Remy after 68 minutes - job done and proof Hiddink's side are so much more effective when the Premier League's pantomime villain is on song.

Sanchez key to Arsenal title hopes

Having talked about the lack of warriors in Arsenal's line-up, one look at Alexis Sanchez back in action shows how he can fit the bill.

The huge roar that swirled around the Emirates when he emerged after 57 minutes to replace Joel Campbell was not simply out of a growing desperation as Arsenal struggled against Chelsea - it was a signal that so much of the rest of the Gunners' season rests on the shoulders of the world-class Chilean.

It was his first appearance since sustaining a hamstring injury at Norwich City on 29 November and it was understandable he looked a little rusty, but the strength, perseverance and sheer force of will to influence a game were still in evidence in this cameo.

This was a major setback for Arsenal's title hopes - but the return of Sanchez confirms all is not lost if they keep him fit.

The stats you need to know

  • Arsenal have now gone nine hours and 32 minutes without a Premier League goal against Chelsea
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in nine Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W6 D3)
  • Costa has scored six goals in six games under Guus Hiddink (all competitions)
  • Chelsea have won back-to-back Premier League away games for the first time this season
  • The Blues are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (W3 D4)
  • The Gunners have failed to score in consecutive league games for the first time since August 2012

What next?

The Gunners are at home to Burnley in the FA Cup next weekend, and the Blues are away at the MK Dons in the same competition.



Oregon protest leader Ammon Bundy seized in deadly clash

US police say they have arrested the leader of an armed militia which has occupied a wildlife refuge in Oregon, with one person killed in a shoot-out.

Ammon Bundy and four others were arrested during a traffic stop. One person was injured. Three others were held in separate incidents.

The militia occupied the refuge this month to support two ranchers jailed for setting fire to federal land.

They say the government has taken land illegally from ranchers for decades.

Other members of the group were reportedly still at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, where the FBI was setting up a perimeter.

Analysis: James Cook, US West Coast correspondent, BBC News

On Oregon's snowy plains, over the past few weeks, there has been some sympathy for the leaders of the occupation. Many people in the little town of Burns said they understood the militia's message about federal government "interference."

The federal government is not popular with ranchers in Harney County who accuse it of failing to respect a distinct way of life. But there was also hostility to the tactics employed by Ammon Bundy and his followers.

Armed militiamen rumbling in and out of town to gather supplies made residents nervous. So, too, did the presence of the FBI. The community had repeatedly asked the militia to leave but law enforcement officials had come in for criticism, too, accused of passivity in the face of flagrant criminality.

In recent days the pressure had mounted, with Oregon's Governor Kate Brown writing to the White House to demand federal action to end the stand-off. But with both sides heavily armed, violence was always a possibility when, and if, that moment came.

Inside the US refuge seized by militiamen

FBI officials said in a statement that Mr Bundy, 40, was arrested in a traffic stop on Highway 395 along with his brother Ryan Bundy, 43, Bryan Cavalier, 44, Shawna Cox, 59, and Ryan Walen Payne, 32.

Two other activists connected to the group, Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, 45, and Peter Santilli, 50, were later arrested, separately, in Burns, Oregon.

Each of the defendants faces a charge of conspiracy to impede police from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, the FBI said.

Ammon Bundy arrives to address the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon in this January 5, 2016 file photo.

Ammon Bundy (centre) pictured earlier this month at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

According to the Oregonian newspaper, Mr Bundy was en route to a community meeting in John Day, Oregon, where he was scheduled to be a guest speaker, when authorities stopped his vehicle.

The newspaper said Ryan Bundy was injured in the arrest, suffering a minor gunshot wound. Authorities did not release the identity of the person killed.

However, local media named the man as Arizona native Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a regular spokesman for the group.

His daughter, Arianna Finicum Brown, told The Oregonian he was a "good, good man, through and through".

Another occupier of the refuge, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, surrendered to police in Arizona on Tuesday night.

Some 25 miles (40 km) of Highway 395 was shut in both directions following the incident, local officials said.

Map of Burns, Oregon

Mr Bundy and a right-wing militia group occupied the refuge on 2 January to protest against the imprisonment of two ranchers in rural Harney County.

Dwight and Steven Hammond had set fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006, they say to clear invasive plants and protect their land from wildfires. A federal judge in October ruled their initial sentences were too short and jailed them for about four years each.

The pair have distanced themselves from the militia movement and although many residents are sympathetic with its cause, many also oppose the occupation of the refuge.

Analysts say security forces took a low-key approach to the Oregon stand-off, fearful of a repetition of the bloody end to the siege at Waco in Texas in 1993.

My Bundy and his brother are sons of rancher Clive Bundy, who was in 2014 involved in a stand-off over grazing rights between armed anti-government activists and federal officials.

The militia includes people from many areas, including, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.


Senegal detains 900 people in security drive

Police in Senegal have detained 900 people as part of a security operation following militant attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali.

The detentions, which were not terror-related, took place over the weekend in the capital Dakar and Thies.

The assaults on a hotel in Mali and a hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso, both claimed by Islamists, have raised security fears in the region.

Senegal has been comparatively safe but is a popular tourist destination.

Last week the Senegalese government ordered hotels to improve security or face closure.

Senegalese security forces would also step up patrols, the interior minister said.

Eyewitnesses report that presence is already being felt, with police being seen in higher numbers and many vehicles searched.

Those detained over the weekend were not targeted as terror suspects but as part of the wider security alert, officials said.

Senegalese security forces guard a hotel in the capital Dakar

Senegalese hotels have been ordered to boost security, or face closure

Their offences ranged from possessing drugs to having incorrect documents for their vehicles, according to the authorities.

"Security has been reinforced on all levels,'' justice ministry spokesman Soro Diop was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it was behind the attack in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, last month that killed 30 people.

The Islamist militant group also claimed the siege on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, in November last year, that left 20 people dead.

AQIM is based in the Sahara Desert and roams between Mali, Niger and Algeria.

Senegal has so far avoided a major attack by Islamist militants, despite sharing a border with Mali.



Ghana: Sian Blake partner 'to return to UK voluntarily' after Ghanaian court hearing

The partner of an ex-EastEnders actress who was found dead with her two sons in a London garden, has told a Ghanaian court he will return to the UK.

Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, appeared at an extradition hearing in Accra.

He said he voluntarily submitted and would have returned to the UK previously had he not been arrested.

He left the UK on 19 December following the deaths of his former partner Ms Blake, 43, and their two young sons, Zachary, eight, and four year-old Amon.

Zachary, eight, and four year old Amon

Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon were last seen on 13 December with their mother

During the hearing he told the court he had not travelled to Ghana to run away and was not fleeing justice.

He was arrested at a Ghanaian beach resort on 9 January.

Ms Blake, who had motor neurone disease, and her sons died from neck and head injuries, post-mortem tests found.

She played Frankie Pierre in 56 episodes of EastEnders between 1996 and 1997.

The Metropolitan Police launched a murder investigation after Ms Blake, who was last seen in public on 13 December, was found buried in the garden of the family home in Erith, with the two children, on 5 January.

The Met has been criticised over delays in its investigation which the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is investigating.



Apple warns iPhone sales set to fall for first time

Apple has reported the slowest growth in iPhone sales since the product's 2007 launch and warned sales will fall for the first time later this year.

The US tech giant sold 74.8 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, compared with 74.5 million a year ago.

Apple said revenue for the next quarter would be between $50bn (£34bn; €46bn) and $53bn, below the $58bn it reported for the same period a year ago.

This would mark Apple's first fall in revenues since it launched the iPhone.

Despite first-quarter iPhone sales being below the 75 million expected by analysts, it was still a record quarter for the company.

Apple revenue in the three months to 26 December was $75.9bn and net profit was $18.4bn, both of which are the highest ever recorded by the company.

Sales of iPhones accounted for 68% of the company's revenue in the period.

iPhone 6

Any other company announcing record profits and revenues might expect a warm welcome from investors. But now that Apple has scaled so many peaks the worry is that the only way is down - and there's evidence in these figures to back up those concerns.

Sales of the iPhone, surely the single most profitable product any company has produced, were basically flat. What's more, the revenue outlook for the next three months indicates we can expect the first fall in sales since the iPhone's 2007 launch.

Then there's China - still growing but far more slowly. The iPhone is still an object of desire there, but at a time when Apple says it's seeing softness in the economy, the attractions of cheaper rivals from local firms like Xiaomi may grow.

Of course, the worries about "peak iPhone" have surfaced before and evaporated with the hugely successful iPhone 6. Last year's upgrade to the 6S was a minor one, and we can expect something more radical in September.

But the pressure is now mounting on Apple to deliver another blockbuster product to keep the profit engine running.

The Apple watch will not fill that role - we've still not even heard any sales figures for the product.

Perhaps the 1,000 engineers rumoured to be working on an Apple Car will come up with the exciting innovation which Apple's fans and investors await with growing impatience.

Is the mighty iPhone in decline?

Chinese 'softness not seen before'

Apple boss Tim Cook credited "all-time record sales of iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV" for the performance.

But the firm's chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, said the company was operating in "a very difficult macroeconomic environment".

He added that "iPhone units will decline in the quarter" and that the company was not projecting beyond those three months.

Mr Maestri partly blamed the strong US dollar for Apple's flat sales, estimating it had knocked $5bn off the company's revenues.

Apple's sales in Greater China - defined by the company as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - rose 14%, but that was much slower than the 70% increase a year ago.

Mr Maestri said the softness in China was "something that we have not seen before", Reuters reported.

'Mother of all balance sheets'

China accounts for almost a quarter of Apple's sales, more than all of Europe combined.

The profitability of Apple's business improved, with gross margin - or how much the company makes per product - increasing to 40.1%.

Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight, said Apple was "generating industry defying margins" and had cash of almost $216bn.

Speaking to analysts, Mr Cook said the company had "the mother of all balance sheets" and that its financial position had never been stronger.

Apple's shares were down 2.7% in after hours trading at $97.28.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at Capital Markets who owns shares in Apple, said given the "white knuckles fears" ahead of the results, he would "characterise the overall headline performance as better than feared".


NDC to suspend Klottey Korle MP Nii Armah Ashietey is reliably informed that the National Council of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is set to suspend the party’s Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Nii Armah Ashietey for engaging in acts that are causing tension and division in the constituency.

The NDC is of the view that the veteran politician’s conduct if not immediately checked, could cause the party’s defeat in the upcoming November Parliamentary elections.

Nii Armah Ashietey who is a two term MP, and another member Nii John Coleman have filed a joint suit at an Accra High Court against the Electoral Commission and the Parliamentary Candidate for the area, Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, challenging the latter’s legitimacy to contest for a parliamentary seat under the 1992 constitution.

The two who contested the NDC’s constituency Parliamentary election and lost to Dr Zanetor on November 21, 2015, are of view that her election was unlawful as she is not a registered voter in the National Voters register.

The case is expected to be heard on Friday January 29.

An Accra High Court had earlier on Friday January 15 dismissed a similar suit against Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings clearing her to contest the upcoming November Parliamentary election.

Some aggrieved members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and supporters of Nii Armah Ashietey had sued Zanetor challenging her election.

They prayed the court to nullify her election as she was not qualified to be elected as Parliamentary Candidate of the party because she is not a registered voter in Ghana.However the court dismissed the case.

When the party thought Klottey Korle was eventually going to see peace as finality had been brought to the case, the incumbent MP has quickly ran to court also challenging Dr Zanetor’s eligibility.

The NDC hierarchy understands has taken a serious view of Nii Armah Ashietey’s conduct which is causing disunity among party members in the area, and has considered taking punitive measures against the ‘troublesome’ MP.

The Party is also not happy that the MP failed to exhaust the party’s laid down internal mechanism to address such issues before he proceeded to court.

The ruling party post its Parliamentary primaries in November 21, has warned that it will not hesitate to punish any member whose waywardness has a tendency of causing the NDC’s electoral defeat.


NPP fundraising: We never donated cash – Kayayei Association

The National Association of Head Potters popularly known as Kayayei, has denied making a cash donation to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during its recent fund–raising event at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi – Ashanti Region.

According to the association’s Ashanti Regional Secretary Dauda Ibrahim, the group is apolitical; hence finds it mischievous for anybody to use its name for political gains.

The largest opposition NPP, held its first national fundraising programme a fortnight ago where an undisclosed amount of money was realized. It was attended by the party’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr. Bawumia.

Among the highlights of activities that caught the attention of the media and raised eyebrows among section of the public was the announcement that some “kayayes” in the Ashanti Region; the stronghold of the opposition group, contributed GHc5, 000 to support the NPP’s campaign to unseat the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).

A lady known Adiza Zongo Pioneer, who claims to be the National President of the National Association of Head Potters aka Kayayei made the donation on behalf of the group.

Speaking to Fiiifi Banson on Kasapa FM Monday, the Ashanti Regional Secretary Dauda Ibrahim denied that Adiza Zongo Pioneer and further stated that the association could not have donated that huge amount of money as the group is not that resourceful.

He noted that this claim of a donation by the Kayayei Association to a political party has the tendency of negatively affecting the financial assistance the group gets from donor institutions.

“We don’t have that kind of money that is being reported we donated to the NPP. It is well known that we Kayayes are vulnerable and poor. We are sometimes funded by NGO’s and other faith based organizations; and now our benefactors will hear that a whopping amount of GHC 5,000 has been donated to a political party. We are neutral…not affiliated to any political party. What signals are we sending to the public, will we continue to have such financial support after this false news out there” He asked?

But Adiza Zongo Pioneer insisted that she was the President of the National Association of Head Potters and that the group willingly donated that amount to the NPP because the current government had taken them for a ride for far too long a time.

She claimed that Dauda Ibrahim, has come up to discredit her because he was being motivated by some bigwigs in the ruling party to muddy the waters.


JUJU Scare hits Black Stars as Spiritualist says he’s behind Akaminko’s 2014 injury

Malam Isaka Salia, a spiritualist based in the Western Region of Ghana has laid a wild allegation against former Black Stars defender Rashid Sumaila for the pre-World Cup injury suffered by team mate Jerry Akaminko.

Akaminko sustained a serious career threatening injury in Ghana’s pre-World Cup friendly with the Netherlands which ruled him out of the competition.

The aggrieved spiritualist who claims the Al Qadsia defender has failed to honour his part of the deal in sidelining Akaminko says Rashid came to him for spiritual assistance to gain a position in the Black Stars set up ahead of the naming of the squad for the tournament.

The 2014 injury. How it happened

“He came to me for assistance ahead of the World Cup and I promised to help him,” Malam Isaka told Takoradi-based Kyzz FM.

“I told him he could only get a position in the squad if one of the center backs is injured. He accepted and asked me to do it to Jerry Akaminko. So I made sure Akaminko was injured so that Rashid’s name will be in the squad. I am now saying this public because he has failed to pay me,”Malam Isaka added.

The troubled spiritual giant added that Rashid Sumaiala sent a delegation to him in a hotel in Kumasi who drove to him in Tahim Ayew’s salon car after the Black Stars game with Egypt at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.

The spiritualist who claims he has helped many prominent Ghanaians to achieve greater heights warned that the former Black Stars defender has just a week to pay him for what he was contracted to do or risk being exposed with text messages sent to him by the player.


Juju man wants attention…Allah will fight for me – Black Stars player Sumaila hits back

Ghana defender Rashid Sumaila has hit back at Malam Isaku Salia over claims that he is responsible for the injury suffered by Black Stars team-mate Jerry Akaminko ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The spiritualist who alleges that the Al Qadsia defender approached him ahead of the World Cup to help him spiritually to be named in the final squad for the tournament has publicly branded the former Asante Kotoko defender a bad player who uses spirituality to afflict his colleagues with injuries.

But the talented defender has denied the allegations saying the spiritualist is only using his [Sumaila] name to be famous.

“I am a staunch Muslim and I don’t engage in that. I am shocked because I don’t know what he is talking about,” Rashid told

“How would I even want to do that when we were only four defenders in the team? I believe in my prayer as my weapon and I pray five times a day. So what at all will I be seeking from a spiritualist? The troubled player questioned.

The former Sundowns defender added that he does not even know the said spiritualist who claims he is the cause of Akaminko’s predicament.

“Wallahi I don’t even know him. I just heard the news this morning and I was shocked.”

“I have never been to any spiritualist in my entire career before so he should come again.”

“This man only wants attention and is trying to pitch me and Jerry at each other. But Allah will punish him.”

The defender concluded that Malam Isaku Salia is only an attention seeker and muat not be taken serious.

“He want to make a name for himself but I think he has chosen the wrong person. He only wants attention and is just trying to use me. My Allah will fight for me,” Rashid retorted.

Jerry Akaminko’s injury laid him off for close to nine months, thwarting his World Cup dream with the Black Stars.


Ghanaian MPs fumble with tablet usage in Parliament

Some members of Ghana’s Parliament who clearly seemed handicapped in their ability to handle modern electronic gadgets, fumbled  helplessly on Tuesday in their attempt to access legislative materials which were installed on tablets for them.

Parliament in 2014 fixed digital devices on the desk of each MP to be used effectively this year.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho while welcoming the MPs to the house after they resumed sittings on Tuesday from the Christmas and new year break, explained that the devices will enable Parliament to reduce the cost of printing parliamentary materials which usually takes a toll on their budget.

"You will recall that at the end of the last meeting last year, I informed you that in order to make optimum use of the legislative software installed in the computer rooms on your respective tables which enables you access to parliamentary papers, the table office will from today produce and circulate only limited copies of the Order Paper and votes and proceedings of the house. This measure is aimed at reducing to the barest minimum the cost of stationery and printing items,” he added.

After his welcome address, the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, drew the attention of the speaker to the challenges they encountered in operating the gadgets.

“I believe today being the first day, we are experiencing some challenges, I’ve tried and they say webpage is not available,” he said.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, Majority Chief Whip of Parliament, admitted MPs clearly needed to be schooled on the usage of the devices to help the work of parliament.


MPs will soon improve using the tablets – Majority Chief whip

Majority Chief Whip in Parliament, Muntaka Mubarak has said despite the difficulty of the Members of Parliament using a newly installed digitised system for proceedings in the house, the MPs are likely to improve handling the device in the coming days.

There were scathing reports of major difficulties as the MPs tried their hands on the tablet computers fixed for usage in the chamber when parliament reconvened Tuesday, January 26.

Many have argued that this could frustrate the efforts being made to make the house paperless, as parliament complains the cost of stationery and printing is high offlate.

In an interaction with Accra-based Citi FM, the Asawase lawmaker said “ it’s not easy for the MPs to easily adopt the use of the device” the house nonetheless is pursuing it vigorously until they can be comfortable using it.

According to him, close to 80% were following it after most of them initially struggled to follow through the proceedings, which were conducted by the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho.

“Since the installation, I’ve been one of those who has been pushing for us to use these gadgets and I’m happy the speaker has accepted and is pursuing it vigorously. Our expectation is that out of the 275, we should be able to get about 150 having to use it the first day…but believe me by the time we got to public business, I could say close to 80% of the members in the chamber were following easily from the tab in front of us.”


Sweden 'to expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers'

The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister was quoted as saying.

Anders Ygeman said that charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants over several years.

"We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000," Swedish media quoted him as saying.

Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe.

Of the approximately 58,800 cases processed last year, 55% were accepted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Greece's government responded to allegations in a draft European Commission report that it had "seriously neglected" its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.

Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili accused the Commission of "blame games" and said it had failed to act on a programme agreed last year to relocate tens of thousands of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece.

Europe is struggling to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands more migrants arrive on Greek beaches, undeterred by cold wintry conditions.

The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous crossing.

Which countries are in the Schengen zone?

Schengen zone

Mr Ygeman was quoted as giving the figure of 80,000 by Swedish Public TV and Dagens Industri business newspaper (in Swedish).

He later tweeted to say he had not taken a position on how many migrants had grounds for asylum, it being a matter for the authorities and the courts.

Sweden recently introduced temporary border checks in a bid to control the influx of people. Along with Germany, the Scandinavian country is is a prime destination for refugees and other migrants entering the EU illegally.

Where Europe is failing on migrants

Map of arrivals

  • The 28 member states have not agreed on an EU-wide mechanism for relocating migrants, meant to ease the burden on Greece and Italy. Only small groups have been relocated so far - and several states in Central and Eastern Europe refuse to accept migrants
  • The Schengen agreement on freedom of movement is in jeopardy - Hungary fenced off its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia; meanwhile Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France also reimposed border controls
  • The Dublin regulation, under which refugees are required to claim asylum in the member state in which they first arrive, is not working effectively. Countries are no longer sending back migrants to their first point of entry to the EU
  • Thousands of migrants - many of them Syrian war refugees - still arrive daily from Turkey
  • Processing of asylum applications is slow and there is a big backlog - so reception centres are overcrowded
  • Germany - the main destination for migrants - is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults on women in Cologne at New Year

Sweden earlier this week became the latest of a number of European nations to see tensions over migrants heightened by violence. A 15-year-old asylum seeker was arrested in Molndal, near Gothenburg, after a 22-year-old asylum centre employee was stabbed to death.

Migration officials say 35,400 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in Sweden in 2015, five times the number in 2014.

In neighbouring Denmark, meanwhile, the government this week approved legislation to seize the valuables of refugees in the hope of limiting the influx of migrants.

Some have likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.


Laurent Gbagbo: Former Ivory Coast leader's trial to begin

The trial of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo for crimes against humanity is set to begin at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He faces charges relating to the country's civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

The trial aims to "uncover the truth", ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told reporters at The Hague.

Both Mr Gbagbo and his co-accused, former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, say they are innocent.

"The trial is an opportunity for reconciliation," Mr Gbagbo's lawyer Emmanuel Altit said. "It is for this reason that he awaits it with confidence."

A lawyer for Mr Ble Goude, who is accused of organising attacks on opposition supporters, described his client as a "man of peace".

A key test, by Anna Holligan, BBC News, the Hague

This may prove to be the most important trial in the ICC's history. The international court was established to end impunity and bring the most powerful leaders to justice. The first appearance of a former head of state is testament to the prosecutor's reach. And yet, despite casualties on both sides, not one of President Alassane Ouattara's supporters has been charged, leading to accusations of victor's justice.

During the pre-trial press briefing the victims' representative was asked how she could represent the victims when only half of those who suffered would have their voices heard.

This high-profile trial will test the ability of the ICC to obtain reliable evidence from a country in which the government has a political interest in securing a guilty verdict.

Can the suspects expect a fair trial if much of the evidence comes from their enemy?

Mr Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the civil conflict that ensued, with Mr Gbagbo holing up in the presidential palace.

He was arrested in April 2011, by forces loyal to President Ouattara backed by French troops, and later in that year extradited to The Hague.

It will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.

Mr Gbagbo is accused of four charges - murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

His supporters accuse the ICC of overlooking alleged crimes by Mr Gbagbo's opponents, many of whom are now in power.

But this was rejected by Ms Bensouda, who said investigations into the pro-Ouattara camp had been "intensified".

Gbagbo: From professor to president

  • Born in 1945, Mr Gbagbo's first career was in academia as a history professor
  • He was jailed for two years in 1971 for "subversive" teaching
  • By the 1980s, he was heavily involved in trade union activities
  • After years in exile, he returned to Ivory Coast to attend the founding congress of the Ivorian Popular Front in 1988
  • Mr Gbagbo was one of the first to challenge Ivory Coast's founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, after multi-party politics were permitted
  • Became president with the Ivorian Popular Front in 2000

Profile: Laurent Gbagbo

The ICC has been accused by some in Africa of unfairly targeting the continent.

An attempt to prosecute Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta over post-election violence failed amid allegations witnesses had been intimidated.

This week however the ICC authorised an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia - the first inquiry into a conflict outside Africa.


Sudan's Bashir orders border with South Sudan to reopen

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the opening of his country's border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011.

The move comes days after reports that South Sudan had ordered its troops to withdraw a short way from the border.

Disputes over the border remain unresolved and the two countries fought over the Heglig oilfield in 2012.

South Sudan gained independence as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended a 22-year civil war.

A shattered dream

The city that vanished

Men of dishonour

Why does South Sudan matter to the US?

Mr Bashir has asked the Sudanese authorities to "take all measures" for the reopening, state news agency Suna reported.

Last week Mr Bashir also agreed to consider lowering the fees paid by South Sudan for the use of Sudanese infrastructure to export oil.

South Sudan contains most of the oilfields that belonged to Sudan before 2011.

The new country descended into civil war in 2013 when fighting broke out between forces loyal to Mr Kiir and his then deputy Riek Machar, splitting the country down ethnic lines.

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries including Sudan.


Chibok: Deadly suicide blasts hit north-eastern Nigerian town

Suicide bombers have hit the north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok during market day, killing at least 13 people, reports said.

At least three attackers were involved, some of them female, witnesses said. More than 30 people were injured.

It is not yet known who was behind the attack.

But suspicion is likely to fall on militants from the Boko Haram Islamist group, who abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014.

A town elder warned that the death toll could rise.

"The situation is now tense and there's so much confusion. It will take some time before we can be able to have a clearer picture of the casualties," Ayuba Chibok told the AFP news agency.

'In shock'

One of the attackers struck at a security checkpoint, while another managed to reach the busy market. A third was identified by residents before detonating explosives close to the market, the reports said.

"People I spoke to are in shock, some of them are still crying," a former town resident Malam Ayouba told the BBC Hausa service.

A map showing Chibok in Nigeria

On Monday at least 25 people died in suicide bombings in the northern Cameroonian town of Bodo.

Earlier this month, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a new investigation into the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok by Boko Haram.

The militants stormed a boarding school, abducting the girls from their dormitories.

Although the Nigerian military has freed hundreds of people held by Boko Haram in recent months, they did not include any of the Chibok girls.

Boko Haram at a glance:

  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Joined so-called Islamic State, now calls itself IS's "West African province"
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year

Why Boko Haram remains a threat


'No progress on African corruption' says watchdog

Corruption is a "serious problem" in 40 of sub-Saharan Africa's 46 states, says an anti-corruption watchdog.

Transparency International (TI) says it has seen no improvement in powerhouses Nigeria and South Africa.

Its corruption index puts Somalia at the top of the list of the world's most corrupt countries.

The annual index looks at factors such as the prevalence of bribery and the perception that government officials go unpunished for corruption.

The watchdog said the countries perceived to be the most corrupt tend to be in conflict; have weak institutions such as the police and the courts and lack independent media.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since its long-serving ruler, Siad Barre, was overthrown in 1991.

North Korea, which has been one of the world's most secretive societies, shared the spot of most corrupt with Somalia.

The "cleanest" countries, such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden, tend to show the public how money is spent and have judges that don't differentiate between rich and poor, the report says.

TI picked out Ghana - which has been rocked by an undercover film showing judges allegedly taking bribes - as a pocket of hope where activists "worked hard to drive out the corrupt".

Senegal, where the government has introduced a series of anti-corruptions laws, was one of the biggest improvers this year, TI said.

The countries where public sector corruption is perceived highest. Source: Transparency International

1. Somalia and North Korea

2. Afghanistan

3. Sudan

4. South Sudan

5. Angola

6. Libya

7. Iraq

8. Venezuela

9. Guinea-Bissau

10. Haiti

The countries where public sector corruption is perceived lowest

1. Denmark

2. Finland

3. Sweden

4. New Zealand

5. Netherlands

6. Norway

7. Switzerland

8. Singapore

9. Canada

10. Luxembourg and UK




Sepp Blatter: Whistleblower gives evidence in criminal case

A whistleblower has given evidence on Sepp Blatter that may be "very helpful" in the criminal case against the banned Fifa president, say Swiss prosecutors.

Blatter was banned from football for eight years for making a "disloyal payment" of £1.3m to Uefa president Michel Platini, and is also under investigation by Swiss state lawyers for alleged criminal mismanagement.

"The Swiss Attorney General's office received valuable information from a testimony that might be very helpful," a spokesman told BBC Sport.

Blatter, 79, is suspected of signing a contract that was "unfavourable to Fifa".

The contract is thought to refer to a 2005 TV rights deal between Fifa and Jack Warner, the former president of Concacaf, the governing body of football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Blatter, who has always denied any wrongdoing, is appealing against his ban from football. But Fifa's ethics committee hopes to increase his punishment to a lifetime ban.

He won a fifth Fifa presidential election in May, but his 17-year reign at the top of the game's global governing body is set to come to an end in February when the organisation elects a successor.

Platini, who received the money from Blatter in 2011 for work the pair say he did between 1998 and 2002, has also been suspended from football for eight years. He too is appealing against the punishment.

The Swiss criminal investigation against Blatter is ongoing, with German media reports suggesting formal proceedings may start in late 2016 or early 2017.


Migrant crisis: Germany moves to cut asylum claims

Germany has unveiled plans to add Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to its list of safe countries, as it tries to curb growing numbers of migrants.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said nationals from those countries would now be unlikely to be granted asylum.

The move is part of new measures aimed at tightening rules in a country which last year received more than 1.1 million asylum seekers.

Earlier, 26 migrants drowned off a Greek island after their boat capsized.

The migrants died near the island of Samos, near Turkey. Ten of the victims were children.

In other developments:

  • Six bodies were discovered by the Italian navy in a sinking dinghy off the Libyan coast
  • The Netherlands proposed sending migrants reaching Greece back to Turkey by ferry
  • Sweden said as many as 80,000 people who arrived to the country last year could fail in their requests for asylum and face deportation

Migrant crisis: Who does the EU send back?

Strained relations

Mr Gabriel's comments came after his Social Democrats held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union.

"The mood is good," Mr Gabriel was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Morocco has already responded to the proposal, saying it would repatriate any of its nationals who had arrived illegally in Germany.

The German coalition partners also agreed that migrants with restricted asylum status would be unable to bring relatives into the country for two years.

The deportation of failed asylum seekers would also be speeded up.

The migrant issue has been straining the coalition, with the CSU threatening to take Mrs Merkel's government to court if the party's demand to stem the flow of asylum seekers is not dealt with decisively.

The coalition proposals still need to be approved by the government and parliament.

Where Europe is failing on migrants

  • The 28 member states have not agreed on an EU-wide mechanism for relocating migrants, to ease the burden on Greece and Italy; only small groups have been relocated so far - and several states in Central and Eastern Europe refuse to accept migrants
  • The Schengen agreement on freedom of movement is in jeopardy - Hungary fenced off its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia; meanwhile Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France have also reimposed border controls
  • The Dublin regulation, under which refugees are required to claim asylum in the member state in which they first arrive, is not working effectively; countries are no longer sending back migrants to their first point of entry to the EU
  • Thousands of migrants - many of them Syrian war refugees - still arrive daily from Turkey
  • Processing of asylum applications is slow and there is a big backlog - so reception centres are overcrowded
  • Germany - the main destination for migrants - is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults on women in Cologne at New Year


Laurent Gbagbo: Ivory Coast ex-leader denies war crimes

Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as his landmark trial began at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The charges relate to the country's civil conflict that erupted after Mr Gbagbo lost elections in 2010.

Prosecutors accuse him of orchestrating a "campaign of violence".

Mr Gbagbo, 70, and ex-militia leader Charles Ble Goude, 44, deny murder, rape, attempted murder and persecution.

The trial at the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands, could last three or four years.

Day one at the ICC: By Anna Holligan, BBC News, The Hague

Inside the courtroom, Laurent Gbagbo seemed unsteady, leaning on his desk as he pleaded not guilty. His co-accused, Charles Ble Goude, gave a more defiant response, telling the judges: "I do not recognise the charges."

Prosecutors said Mr Ble Goude had acted as a spin doctor. He called himself the "street general". Archive footage played in court showed him comparing himself to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's media adviser Alastair Campbell.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda used her opening statement to focus on the victims. She spoke of one woman who was arrested during a peaceful march in Abidjan and detained for three days. During that time, Ms Bensouda said, the woman was gang-raped by police officers - the very people who were supposed to protect her.

Outside protesters playing on bongo drums complained of "victor's justice". To date none of President Alassane Ouattara's supporters have been charged by the ICC.

Mr Gbagbo sparked a crisis in Ivory Coast after he refused to step down following his loss to Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 presidential vote.

There were bloody clashes between rival forces over five months in 2010 and 2011.

Some 3,000 people were killed, with Mr Gbagbo basing himself in the presidential palace.

Gbagbo supporters at the ICC to back the former president, 28 Jan

Gbagbo supporters arrive at the ICC to back the former president at the start of the trial

Supporters of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo watch his trial in Abidjan

He also continues to have support in Ivory Coast, like here in Abidjan

A composite image showing former Ivory Coast militia leader Charles Ble Goude and ex-President Laurent Gbagbo

Former militia leader Charles Ble Goude (L) is being tried alongside Mr Gbagbo on the same charges

He was arrested in April 2011 by forces loyal to President Ouattara, backed by troops from former colonial power France, and later that year was extradited to The Hague.

It will be the highest-profile trial yet for the ICC, which has only convicted two Congolese warlords since its establishment in 2002.

Reading out the charges, prosecutors cited cases including the alleged rape of 38 women at a pro-Ouattara rally and alleged killing of 10 people by shelling at a market.

The prosecution said it currently planned to bring forward 138 witnesses.

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that when Mr Gbagbo "understood that the presidency was going to escape him... he began a campaign of violence orchestrated against those considered opponents".

"Nothing would be allowed to defeat Mr Gbagbo, and if politics failed, violence was seen as politics by other means," she said.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser said neither Ivory Coast nor its people were on trial, and that he would not allow the court to be used as a "political instrument".

Dozens of Gbagbo supporters gathered outside the ICC on Thursday to back the ex-president, sparking some scuffles with police.

"Our dream to see our president walk free starts today," said one supporter, Marius Boue. "He is truly a man of the Ivorian people."

Gbagbo: From professor to president

  • Born in 1945, Mr Gbagbo's first career was in academia as a history professor
  • He was jailed for two years in 1971 for "subversive" teaching
  • By the 1980s, he was heavily involved in trade union activities
  • After years in exile, he returned to Ivory Coast to attend the founding congress of the Ivorian Popular Front in 1988
  • Mr Gbagbo was one of the first to challenge Ivory Coast's founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, after multi-party politics were permitted
  • Became president with the Ivorian Popular Front in 2000

Campaign group Human Rights Watch warned that by only prosecuting one side of Ivory Coast's conflict the ICC gave a "perception of victor's justice".

But ahead of the trial Ms Bensouda said investigations into the pro-Ouattara camp had been "intensified".

Mr Gbagbo is the first ex-head of state to appear at the ICC, although Liberia's former President Charles Taylor also stood trial at The Hague.

Mr Taylor appeared before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and was given a 50-year jail sentence in 2012 on charges of aiding and abetting war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, which neighbours Liberia.

The ICC has been accused by some in Africa of unfairly targeting the continent.

An attempt to prosecute Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta over post-election violence failed amid allegations witnesses had been intimidated.

Why did Ivory Coast descend into civil war?

The country had been divided since 2002, with rebels in control of the mainly Muslim north. They mostly supported Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim whose family originate in neighbouring Burkina Faso. So when Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to Mr Ouattara in the 2010 election, fighting soon broke out.

Was the conflict about religion?

Not really - more about identity. Mr Gbagbo and other southern, Christian politicians portrayed themselves as "true Ivorians", in contrast to northern Muslims, many of whom had foreign origins. Under Mr Gbagbo, many northerners were not allowed to vote, while Mr Ouattara was banned from standing for election until 2010. In western Ivory Coast, the conflict also took on ethnic lines.

What happened during the conflict?

In the worst cases, Ivorian security forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo shelled areas of the main city Abidjan, where many northerners lived. The ICC also accuses pro-Gbagbo militias of attacking members of ethnic groups believed to support Mr Ouattara. But pro-Ouattara forces were also accused of similar atrocities and these have not been prosecuted.



Monies from external forces caused my defeat – Samia

The defeated Flag bearer aspirant of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) Samia Yaaba Nkrumah is blaming monies from external forces that were pumped into the party’s recent Flag bearer contest as the cause of her defeat.

According to her, the unprecedented huge amount of monies that exchanged hands at the congress grounds was mind boggling and changed certain dynamics that saw her losing the elections.

Samia, the party’s immediate past chairperson who was tipped by political watchers as the favourite among the contestants lost to Ivor Kobina Greenstreet who is the former General Secretary of the party.

Greenstreet garnered 1288 votes as against closest contender Samia Nkrumah 579.

The two other contenders Bright Akwetey and Joseph Agyapong polled 42 and 83 votes respectively.

Speaking to Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM, Samia was emphatic that the victory of Mr Greenstreet couldn’t have come if the electorates were influenced monetarily.

“There was clear vote buying, the heavy money that obviously came from external forces into the system that day changed the dynamics. GHC 1,000 per delegate has never happened in the history of our party’s internal elections. Forces against the independence of the CPP came together to ensure my defeat. It is important that we are discussing this issue because it affects our national politics”

She has nonetheless expressed her desire to serve the CPP in any capacity to ensure that the party becomes more stronger to and wins the 2016 election.



Many knew him by his official stage name Quata but others call him Ghana’s twister. In case you are one of the persons who had the perception that Quata Budukusu is done with his musical career because he went on hibernation for some time then, you have to read this piece.

In a live radio interview with Sammy Flex during the Friday’s edition of the am Pluzz show on Pluzz 89.9 FM, Quata accepted the fact that he was lost from the scene saying “yes I went on hibernation for almost six years but truth be told it is always good because as a musician it makes you follow the dynamisms in the game so you don’t fall behind”. Lamenting on the inception of the tongue twisting style of rap in Ghana, Quata told the host, Sammy Flex,

“I am the originator of tongue twisting in Ghana and nobody can beat the speed at which I can tongue twist. Everybody, both the youth and the old folks, will attest to this fact. But to be honest, I am very happy seeing other rappers doing what I introduced. Obviously the intention wasn’t to keep it to myself but to channel it to others, meanwhile I must stress on the fact that, I am not in competition with anybody because an originator is different from emulators”.

According to the baby hit maker, with the help of his management, Bakus Entertainment headed by Mr. Ernest Annoh-Dompreh - founder & C.E.O., and Mr. Tengol - his personal manager, and also based on the kind of hard work from the camp, he believes Ghana, Africa and the world at large should expect nothing but the best from him and his management as they are preparing to climax his come back with a concert and an album launch.

To prove the seriousness in his comeback, Budukusu is already out with four singles; “Wind N Go low” and “One Life to Live” produced by Diaz Qlasik, Pum Pum Shots produced by Vegas Ace, and finally, “Ohia” produced by King Joe. Expect nothing but the best from Quata and his team as he is back to stay in the game and to take his rightful place.

Enjoy his new tunes below:


Bakus Radio

Zika virus infection 'through sex' reported in US

A rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the US.

A patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told the BBC.

The person had not travelled to infected areas but their partner had returned from Venezuela.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency.

The American Red Cross has meanwhile urged prospective blood donors returning from Zika-hit countries to wait at least 28 days before donating their blood.

The "self-deferral" should apply to people returning from Mexico, the Caribbean or Central or South America during the past four weeks, the Red Cross said in a statement.

In another development, two cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Australia. Officials said the two Sydney residents had recently returned from the Caribbean.

Race to understand Zika baby risk

What is the risk to unborn children?

Worried mothers' stories

Meanwhile, Brazil - the country worst hit by the outbreak - has revealed it is investigating 3,670 suspected cases of microcephaly in babies linked to the Zika virus.

Analysis by James Gallagher, health editor, BBC News website

If Zika can readily spread through sex, then it poses a risk to every country not just those with the Aedes mosquito.

So far, authorities have said sexual transmission is rare, but last year they would have said any case of Zika was rare, too.

This explosive outbreak has caught the world by surprise and many key questions remain unanswered.

Exactly how common or rare is sexual transmission? Can it be spread by the 80% of people who show no symptoms? How long does the virus persist in semen? When is it safe to have sex again?

What should men do after visiting affected countries? Can women also spread the virus through sex?

However, this is not a new HIV/Aids moment. HIV infection is incurable and dramatically shortens lives without daily medication.

Zika infections are short, mild and pose a significant threat only in pregnancy.

The ministry also said 76 infant deaths from microcephaly, either during pregnancy or just after birth, were suspected.

The case in Dallas would be the first known infection to take place in the mainland US, though Texas has seen seven other Zika cases all related to foreign travel.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for CDC, said this was the first case it had dealt with involving a "non-traveller".

"We don't believe this was spread through mosquito bites, but we do believe it was spread through a sexual contact."

A statement issued by the CDC said the best way to avoid Zika virus infection was "to prevent mosquito bites AND to avoid exposure to semen from someone who has been exposed to Zika".

The case is "significant" if it was definitely transmitted through sexual contact, Alaka Basu, a senior fellow for public health at the UN Foundation, told the BBC.

Graphic showing babies' head size

"This significance is parallel with the HIV/Aids case. It's worse in some ways, because there are two modes of transmission."

It is not the first known case of sexual transmission. There was a case in 2013 in French Polynesia, according to the CDC website.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid travel to more than two dozen countries with Zika outbreaks, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, including Venezuela.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her government was focused on eradicating the mosquito that transmits the virus.

In an address to a joint session of Congress, she said considerable funds would be set aside for the programme.

"We should all be worried about microcephaly," she said.

The alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola.

It means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.

WHO director general, Margaret Chan called Zika an "extraordinary event" that needed a co-ordinated response.

She said the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

WHO has said it could take up to nine months for experts to prove or disprove any connection between the virus and babies born with microcephaly.


US election: Winners and losers after Iowa vote

The races for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are taking shape now that Iowans have had their say.

In some cases, the results confirmed conventional wisdom.

In others, it totally reshaped it.

Here are five things we learned after a remarkable evening in America's heartland.

1. Donald Trump isn't untouchable

Donald Trump

For the past few months it seemed as though the New York real estate mogul had become an unrivalled political savant. Every move he made, no matter how questionable, only strengthened his standing among conservative voters.

That bubble, however, has burst. Despite leading in the Iowa polls for the past several weeks, Mr Trump was bested by rival Ted Cruz on caucus night. In the end Mr Trump's much-heralded cadre of new voters didn't show up in the predicted numbers and Mr Cruz's formidable ground game, backed by strong evangelical support, carried the day.

This hardly means it's the end for Mr Trump. He may well hold onto his large lead in New Hampshire, a state where the conservative voters often embrace the renegade outsider, and find success in the Southern primaries that follow. The notion that the New Yorker could steamroll his way to the Republican nomination, however, has now been firmly dispelled.

2. Marco Rubio has given the establishment hope

Marco Rubio with his family

Florida Senator Marco Rubio's speech in Iowa on Monday night sounded more like a victory celebration than the concession speech of a third-place finisher. By finishing with 23% of the vote, however - a hair's breadth from second-place Trump - Mr Rubio shattered pre-caucus expectations.

Now he's well positioned to gain new support in New Hampshire, as voters looking to stop outsider candidates Cruz and Trump rally to his side.

This is the kind of Iowa result that candidates like New Jersey's Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich were dreading. They have placed all their hopes in New Hampshire, and now they'll have to face off against a man who has the political wind at his back.

The polls for Mr Rubio in the coming states haven't looked particularly encouraging, but that could quickly change. And even if he suffers setbacks in the Southern states that follow New Hampshire, he likely will have the resources to wage a long fight for the nomination.

3. The Democrats are in a dogfight

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

At this point it comes as little surprise that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished in a virtual tie in Iowa - polls had been indicating such a result was likely.

Nevertheless, the outcome marks a significant achievement for Mr Sanders, who was polling in single digits in Iowa six months ago.

Mrs Clinton is simply not going to be able to deliver the knockout punch to her rival the way she once had hoped. Instead, she faces a likely defeat in New Hampshire - where the Vermonter is strong - and then a protracted fight across the country that could last at least through March.

She still has the greater financial resources and a much more developed campaign infrastructure, but she had those advantages in Iowa as well. The electorate will change, however - becoming more moderate and more ethnically diverse. There is more hospitable ground ahead for Mrs Clinton - but a nomination victory, if it comes, will take time to realise.

4. Ted Cruz is built to last

Ted Cruz kissing his wife

If Mr Cruz had been defeated in Iowa it would have been a devastating blow to his campaign. He had raised expectations of a victory in the caucuses and heralded it as proof that he could build a coalition of evangelical, grass-roots Tea Party and libertarian voters.

As it turns out, that coalition exists - and it will likely re-emerge after New Hampshire, as South Carolina and other Southern states hold their primary contests.

Mr Cruz has nearly $20m in campaign cash on hand and supporting political committees with even greater resources. He's built a political machine that can operate through the entire primary calendar and, if necessary, wage a two-front battle with Mr Trump and an establishment-backed candidate like Mr Rubio.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Mr Cruz credited his grass-roots organisation - as he should - but he also gave Republicans a look at a more moderate, general-election version of himself. He'll need to convince his party that he is a candidate who can beat the Democrats in November. This was his first step toward making that pitch.

5. The field is about to thin dramatically

Martin O'Malley

Democrat Martin O'Malley is gone, as is Republican Mike Huckabee and - in all likelihood, Rick Santorum.

On Monday night rumours abounded that Ben Carson was poised to exit. Although his camp quickly denied this, the retired surgeon's 9% performance in a state that once viewed him as a front-runner likely means the end is near.

Carly Fiorina's bid is on life support, and Rand Paul - at one point thought to be a contender for the nomination - garnered less than 5%, a far cry from his father's 21% in Iowa just four years ago.

New Hampshire will likely cull the herd even further, threatening the future of candidates like Mr Bush, Mr Christie and Mr Kasich if they can't slow Mr Rubio's momentum.

The Republican race for the nomination isn't likely to end anytime soon, but there are about to be a lot fewer candidates on the debate stage in the coming weeks.


Yahoo to cut its workforce by 15%

Yahoo is cutting 15% of its workforce as the company pursues an "aggressive strategic plan" to return to profitability.

The job cuts will reduce the number of its employees to about 9,000 by the end of 2016.

The announcement came as Yahoo reported a $4.3bn (£3bn) loss for the year.

In a statement, chief executive Marissa Mayer said: "This is a strong plan calling for bold shifts in products and in resources."

She added that it would "dramatically brighten our future and improve our competitiveness, and attractiveness to users, advertisers, and partners."

The head-count reduction is the latest part of Ms Mayer's attempt to turn around the troubled internet company, which is struggling to compete against the likes of Facebook and Google.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer has been chief executive at Yahoo since 2012


In December, the company announced it was reversing a plan to sell its stake in the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, and would instead look to spin off its core internet business.

Ms Mayer was forced to change course on the Alibaba sale following pressure from several activist investors.

The focus on cutting costs and raising profits is being seen as the latest sign that the company is becoming more serious about selling its core internet business.

But some analysts are sceptical.

"They can slim down to improve profitability, but they are in an industry that is growing and they're not," said Martin Pyykkonen, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities.

"If the core business was really a valuable asset someone would have come and tried to buy it already," he added.

Under pressure

As well as shedding much of its workforce, Yahoo plans to sell of some of its product lines - such as Yahoo TV and Yahoo Games - so that it can focus on its search business, email and Tumblr blogging site.

It is also closing offices in Dubai, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, and Milan.

That should lead to "modest and accelerating growth in 2017 and 2018," the company said.

Yahoo has estimated the cutting back of its product line alone could generate $1bn.

Ms Mayer has been under pressure from investors to step down as chief executive.

"We would like to see a higher stock price, and we think Marissa and her current management team have become a hindrance to that," said Eric Jackson, managing director of SpringOwl.

Yahoo's shares fell 1.4% in after hours trading.


Zimbabwe chief prosecutor charged over Mugabe bomb plot case

Zimbabwe's chief prosecutor has been charged with obstructing the course of justice after allegedly dropping charges against people accused of plotting to bomb the president's dairy.

Four army officers also appeared at the magistrates court in the capital Harare charged with treason.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana denies the charges. He was brought to court in the back of a police pick-up truck.

The milk production plant is run by President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace.

The prosecutor told the court that the four army officers were allegedly caught with firearms and sought to get bombs designed to blow up the dairy, reports the BBC's Brian Hungwe from the capital, Harare.

Our correspondent adds that the court was told the four had formed a political party called Zimbabwe People Front and had set up a military training camp.

Mr Tomana is accused of dropping charges against two of the four army officers.

Mr Mugabe has been in power since 1980.

The ruling Zanu-PF party has been hit by factionalism as rivals disagree on who will succeed 91-year-old Mr Mugabe.

One faction of the ruling party is backing Grace Mugabe to take over from her husband while another camp is backing Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa.


Kenya investigates 'barbaric' Uber attacks in Nairobi

Kenyan police have launched an investigation after a spate of attacks on Uber drivers in Nairobi.

Criminal gangs have attacked drivers for the app-based taxi service over the past two days, authorities say.

The violence has been linked to traditional taxi drivers angered at being undercut by the new service, which often charges far cheaper fares.

The company has sparked protests in many of the cities in the 68 countries where it now operates.

The Kenyan interior ministry said in its statement that "barbaric acts" should never be committed to settle business rivalries.

Police told local media that they had received reports of people ordering Uber taxis, in order to assault the drivers when they arrived.

The company acknowledged "cases of isolated intimidation towards Uber driver-partners" in a statement carried by local media.

"These cases shock and sadden us, as these driver-partners are simply using the Uber platform to earn a living for themselves and their families," it added.

Kenya's Taxi Cab Association has demanded that Uber suspend its operations in Nairobi, arguing that it has an unfair advantage because its drivers do not pay costly registration fees, Capital FM reports.

Uber, which launched in Kenya in January 2015, is thought to be the world's most valuable private company, with an estimated worth of more than $50bn (£35bn).


Somali plane lands in Mogadishu with hole in its side

A passenger plane has made an emergency landing in Somalia's capital with a gaping hole in its fuselage.

The hole in the plane's side appeared shortly after take-off from Mogadishu at 10,000ft (3,048m), a colleague of one of the passengers told the BBC.

It is not clear what caused the damage. Officials say two passengers were hurt.

The Daallo Airlines flight, bound for Djibouti, was carrying about 60 people on board, a police officer at the scene told the Bloomberg news agency.

Some reports say a fire broke out shortly after take-off.

Darren Howe, who had a colleague on the plane, took a photo of the damaged aircraft after it had landed.

"It was not an explosion but a fuselage failure at 10,000ft," he told the BBC.

Daallo Airlines flies regularly from its base in Dubai to Somalia and Djibouti.


Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Liverpool to stay three points clear

Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Liverpool to stay three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

The England striker opened the scoring with a brilliant 25-yard strike over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Riyad Mahrez's long ball forward.

And he sealed the victory when he turned home Shinji Okazaki's deflected shot from close range.

The Foxes fully deserved their victory, with Mignolet touching an Okazaki header onto the bar in the first half.

Leicester's title bid is unique in the Premier League age and with each victory, they move one game closer to winning their first ever top-flight title.

There was a feeling the next two weeks could define Leicester's season - this game against Liverpool is followed by trips to title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal.

But they came through the first of those three games in style. Vardy caught Mignolet off his line with his goal-of-the-season contender and then added a second 11 minutes later.

The Foxes had most of the game's big chances, Mignolet brilliantly denying a Mahrez curling strike as well as touching Okazaki's effort onto the crossbar. Moments before Vardy's second, the hosts should have had a penalty when Mamadou Sakho brought down Okazaki.

Foxes midfielder Danny Drinkwater said: "We're staying on the ground but if we carry on the way we are then why not have the belief [to win the league]? It would go down in history surely."

How man-of-the-match Vardy scored his goal

Vardy - who is set to sign a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the Foxes - had never scored a Premier League goal from outside the box with his first 21 top-flight attempts.

He let Mahrez's long ball bounce before smashing it over Mignolet. After the game he revealed he had seen the keeper stray off his line on previous occasions and decided to try his luck.

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

Vardy hit the ball with power after letting it bounce

Jamie Vardy

Simon Mignolet

Goal sums his season up'

Leicester midfielder Drinkwater told BBC Match of the Day: "His first goal was incredible. You think he's going to square it but he hits it top corner. It sums his season up. He can turn an average ball into a great ball."

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri said: "Amazing. The first goal was unbelievable. Jamie is very fast and can create a lot but it was unbelievable how Mahrez found him and how he had the time to see the keeper out of the goal and score a fantastic goal."

Reds look out of form

Liverpool, who are now eighth and 16 points off top, look a long way from the side who beat Manchester City 4-1 and Southampton 6-1 in November and December.

With Daniel Sturridge frequently injured and Christian Benteke out of favour, the Reds started with Roberto Firmino as their central forward but the Brazilian only had two efforts, one blocked and one off target.

When BBC Match of the Day's Jonathan Pearce praised Liverpool's work ethic to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, the German replied: "It's rare a journalist says something more positive than the manager.

"I'm not too fine with our game today. We could have played much better. We had a few shots where we could pass and a few passes where we could shoot. We created half chances but not real chances. Today would have been a good day to show we are ready for this. I need a few more seconds to calm down. I have to watch it again."

What's up next?

Leicester's next game is their biggest of the season to date. They visit second-placed Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, knowing they could either be knocked off top - or go six points clear.

"The team is in good condition," said Ranieri. "Now it is important to recover the energy because we have to run a lot against Manchester City. We are free of pressure. The players have a good feeling."

Liverpool are at home to second-from-bottom Sunderland.

The stats you need to know

  • Liverpool prevented the opposition scoring with their first shot on target for the first time in 2016 in the Premier League.
  • Mahrez and Vardy have combined for seven Premier League goals this season - the joint most with Ozil/Giroud and Ighalo/Deeney.
  • Vardy has 18 league goals for the season, only one fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
  • Leicester have 50 points, only five short of their all-time top-flight record total (55 in 1999-2000).
  • Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in their past six Premier League away games.



Alli & Kane SendTottenham 3rd

England striker Harry Kane scored twice as Tottenham kept up the chase at the top with an easy win at Norwich.

Dele Alli tapped in inside the first two minutes after Christian Eriksen's low shot had been blocked.

Kane then stroked in the second from the spot after Alli, who came off with an illness at half-time, was fouled in trying to follow up Kane's saved shot.

He then fired his second of the night from 15 yards after Eriksen had dispossessed Martin Olsson.

The victory lifts Spurs up to third, above Arsenal on goal difference. Norwich could find themselves in the bottom three on Wednesday if Newcastle defeat Everton.

Re-live the action from Carrow Road

All the action from Tuesday's Premier League matches

The Kane and Alli show on extended run

Keegan-Toshack, Cole-Beardsley, Shearer-Sheringham - Kane and Alli just seem to have an understanding that some of the game's legendary link-ups possessed.

The wholesome twosome have formed a formidable attack at Spurs. Alli has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 13 Premier League games for Spurs, and Kane has scored eight in his last eight. They are a fantasy football player's dream combo.

Kane was his usual hungry self - snapping at the heels of the last defender. He should have got his reward for his doggedness when late in the game he stole the ball from Youssouf Mulumbu, surged towards goal but saw his shot rebound off the post.

However, with seconds remaining he did grab his second when he pounced on the loose ball after good work from Eriksen and fired past Declan Rudd.

As for Alli, he only played a cameo today, but it was a memorable one. The 19-year-old is both a threat outside the area and inside, as proved today. He anticipated brilliantly for the first, and repeated the trick when he won the penalty, which was conceded by Sebastian Bassong.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was brought off at half-time because he felt unwell. Spurs fans will be praying he is fit for Saturday's home clash against Watford.

Where do Norwich go from here?

The Canaries were the most active team in the transfer window, but have they made the right purchases?

One of their buys was Portuguese right-back Ivo Pinto. He made his debut in the 5-4 defeat against Liverpool, and followed that up with a truly awful first-half display against Spurs.

He allowed Christian Eriksen far too much space down that flank and was then put into a spin by Kane, who forced a good save from the impressive Declan Rudd.

At the other end, there was little bite. Tall forward Dieumerci Mbokani looked the most potent, and had his side's best chance - a low drive that keeper Hugo Lloris was equal to.

Another new signing Steven Naismith had a relatively quiet game, but perhaps the Scot, his team-mates and manager Alex Neil will have been slightly aggrieved that a penalty was not awarded when he fell under the challenge of defender Kevin Wimmer.

What the managers said

Norwich manager Alex Neil: "Once you concede in the first minute and a half, we make it difficult for ourselves.

"The Spurs penalty is the softest penalty I've seen all season. We didn't get the fair share of the decisions and that cost us.

"If it was a clear penalty, I'd be the first to hold my hands up. The next game becomes huge for us now."

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino: "The performance was very good. I'm happy with three points. The first half was fantastic.

"Dele felt unwell, but he's OK now.

"Harry is still very young and has big potential to improve."

The stats you need to know

  • Alli has scored in consecutive games for the first time since April 2015 (in all comps), when he netted for MK Dons against Fleetwood and then Leyton Orient.
  • Alli's goal was the fourth quickest in the Premier League this season (1:36) and Tottenham's quickest in the Premier League since Boxing Day 2014 (Kane v Leicester, 0:57).
  • Tottenham have gone 11 games unbeaten away from home in the league for the first time since a run of 16 in 1985.
  • Norwich City failed to score at home in the league for the only the second time in their last 12 fixtures at Carrow Road.

What next?

Norwich face what you can call a relegation six-pointer against Villa at home on Saturday. Spurs are at home to Watford on the same day.



Man U Beat Stoke as they hit scoring form

Manchester United kept in contention for a top-four Premier League place and gave manager Louis van Gaal a rare night of relaxation as Stoke City were outclassed at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal and his players were jeered after defeat by Southampton in their previous home game - but it was all a sharp contrast here as United, inspired by youngster Antony Martial, won at a canter.

Jesse Lingard headed in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson's perfect delivery after 14 minutes to end a shocking sequence of 11 matches without a first-half goal at home stretching over a period of eight hours 40 minutes.

Martial scored the goal his performance merited with a fine curled finish shortly after before setting up the third for Wayne Rooney from close range eight minutes after the break.

It was a win United's performance fully deserved and the victory margin could have been even greater, leaving them in fifth place, five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

Magnificent Martial

As Manchester United have struggled through this colourless, painful season there has been one shaft of light offering real hope for the present and the future.

Anthony Martial's £36.5m signing from Monaco, when he was only 19, in September was regarded as a gamble by Van Gaal.

On this night of rejuvenation at Old Trafford it looks even more like money well spent.

The wisdom is that the rangy youngster will end up playing as a central striker, but Van Gaal has used him regularly from wide positions and, stationed on the left flank here, he tortured Stoke's defence and made former England defender Glen Johnson's night a misery.

He showed all the pace and athleticism that will be an asset to United for years to come as he was a threat all night, showing wonderful technique and composure to curl in a right-foot shot for the second goal then showed calmness and vision to lay the third on a plate for Rooney.

It was his sixth goal and third assist in the league, with the promise of plenty more to come. He departed to a deserved standing ovation with 11 minutes left.

Some of United's work in the transfer market since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson has been justifiably criticised - not a bit of it with Martial.

Relief at last for Van Gaal

Manchester United's 64-year-old manager has been a besieged figure this season, seemingly facing a crisis and an uncertain future on a weekly basis, scrutinised once more on Monday when neighbours Manchester City announced the world's most coveted coach, Pep Guardiola, would be joining them in the summer.

He received a subdued welcome as he made his way down the Old Trafford touchline to his technical area before kick-off, acknowledging a smattering of applause with a couple of waves.

Van Gaal was able to make the return journey at the final whistle with cheers ringing around Old Trafford after their most impressive performance in months, a display designed to support his theory that things will eventually get better.

It has been a good few days for Van Gaal, with a potentially hazardous FA Cup fourth-round trip to Derby County safely negotiated last Friday and now this convincing victory.

Old Trafford elated

When Lingard stooped to head in Borthwick-Jackson's superb cross after 14 minutes, the roar that went around Old Trafford was tinged with relief and delight.

How United and Van Gaal needed that. The first groans of frustration had surfaced moments earlier when Chris Smalling drove into Stoke City's half but lost momentum because of lack of movement from his team-mates - but the pressure valve was released by Lingard's goal.

Old Trafford was in buoyant mood for the rest of game, United's supporters able to sit back and enjoy their team exerting total control and playing with a fluency rarely seen this season.

What they said:

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: "I think we have played in the first half attacking- wise very good. In the second half we were more controlling and we didn't give any chances away against a team like Stoke. That is remarkable because they always make it difficult."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "We didn't start in the right manner. We conceded early on, were too passive and for the first goal we didn't get close enough to people. Avoiding going 1-0 down early on is what you talk about before coming to Old Trafford, and unfortunately we conceded another poor goal for the second."

What's next?

Manchester United travel to Chelsea on Sunday (16:00 kick-off), while Stoke host Everton on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

The stats you need to know:

  • Jesse Lingard scored Manchester United's first first-half goal at Old Trafford since they netted one against Wolfsburg in the Champions League in September 2015
  • It was the first time since April 2015 against Manchester City that the Red Devils had scored twice in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game at home
  • Wayne Rooney scored his 99th Premier League goal at Old Trafford
  • Rooney scored and provided an assist at Old Trafford in a Premier League game for the first time since Boxing Day 2014 against Newcastle


Arsenal playing catch up in the Premier League - Arsene Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his side are now playing catch-up in the Premier League title race after their goalless home draw with Southampton.

The Gunners are without a win in four league games and have failed to score in the past three.

They are fourth in table, five points behind leaders Leicester.

"We have to catch that back and we have a difficult programme, especially away from home," Wenger told the club's official website.

"We need to respond quickly away from home now."

Arsenal's tricky away days
Bournemouth v Arsenal (Premier League, 7 February)
Man Utd v Arsenal (Premier League 28 February)
Tottenham v Arsenal (Premier League 5 March)
Barcelona (Champions League last 16 second leg, 16 March)
Everton v Arsenal (Premier League, 19 March)

Arsenal have only won once in the league this year, drawing 3-3 at Liverpool and 0-0 at Stoke, and losing 1-0 at home to Chelsea prior to Tuesday's match.

When asked if he was worried that Arsenal's season would tail off, Wenger replied: "It's too early to say that. It's true that we've had a stuttering start in 2016.

"Our January was bad, starting from the last minute at Liverpool, and then at Stoke.

"Where we especially have a big deficit is in our two home games. We played with 10 men for the whole game against Chelsea and today we created 10 chances and didn't score."

Leicester's 2-0 win over Liverpool means they retain top spot in the division, but Arsenal have now dropped below Manchester City and Tottenham, who won at Sunderland and Norwich respectively on Tuesday.

"Leicester won again and now I am sure that everybody will take them very seriously, especially in the media, so they will be under pressure as well," said Wenger.

"But we have not to look too much at Leicester or Man City, we have to win football games. We have to focus on how to respond quickly and win our next game, that's all we can do."

Arsenal's 'bad' January
Arsenal 2-1 Burnley (FA Cup third round, 30 January)
Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea (Premier League, 24 January)
Stoke 0-0 Arsenal (Premier League, 17 January)
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (Premier League, 13 January

The Gunners created a number of good chances against Southampton but were unable to convert them, with Fraser Forster excelling in the Saints goal.

"The quality of the chances we created today, considering it's a Premier League game, was high," added Wenger. "The quality of the finishing was poor.

"Our finishing is very bad at the moment - we have played three [league] games now without scoring a goal. In all those three games we had chances that we didn't take. At that level it's important."



US election: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in first showdown

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are preparing to go head-to-head for the first time, as they vie to be the Democratic presidential pick.

The TV debate in New Hampshire is their first since the Democratic race was whittled down to two this week.

The first state-by-state contest, in Iowa on Monday, was won narrowly by Mrs Clinton ahead of Mr Sanders.

Since that vote, they have been exchanging barbs over who boasts the stronger liberal credentials.

Their arguments centre on who can best deliver on policies dear to the left-wing of the party, such as providing universal healthcare access, improving income equality and protecting worker rights.

At a town hall event on Wednesday in which they appeared on stage separately, Vermont Senator Mr Sanders accused his rival of being a part-time liberal.

Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, New Hampshire

Just days before the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton finds herself in a new role - that of the underdog. She's trailed Bernie Sanders, senator from neighbouring Vermont, by double-digits in the state's polls for more than a month.

Now, thanks to former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's withdrawal from the Democratic race for president, she's alone on the debate stage with the upstart rival who came fractions of a percentage point from beating her earlier this week in the Iowa caucuses.

Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was reeling after a sound beating in Iowa at the hands of Barack Obama, and a surprise win in New Hampshire gave her new life - at least temporarily. It was the start of what would be a drawn-out battle for the nomination that lasted for months.

Although Mrs Clinton's nationwide standing is stronger than it was in 2008, a defeat in New Hampshire could mark the start of another long nomination fight.

Consequently the former secretary of state is committing time and resources in New Hampshire to stave off such an embarrassment. Will the Granite State give her yet another boost? A strong performance in tonight's debate could be her best chance for a last-minute reversal of fortune.

He pointed to her vote as a senator to authorise the war in Iraq and the money her campaign receives from Wall Street as evidence.

But she hit back by saying she was a progressive politician who delivered results, and argued she had been fighting liberal causes for decades.

"Good ideas on paper are important, but you've got to be able to translate them into action," she declared.

The debate will be their first without the presence of the former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, who quit the race on Monday night.

And it is the last before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary vote, the second state to make its choice.

Mr Sanders holds a big lead in polls in the state - one on Thursday put him 20 percentage points ahead.

Both Republican and Democratic parties will formally name their presidential candidates at conventions in July.

Americans will finally go to the polls to choose the new occupant of the White House in November.


Central African Republic peacekeepers to be sent home over 'sex abuse'

More than 100 UN peacekeepers will be sent home from the Central African Republic after an investigation into sex abuse allegations, the UN says.

The UN says it is investigating eight new reports of sex abuse, following more than 20 previous allegations.

One 14 year-old says she was raped by an armed soldier near the airport.

The 120 soldiers who will be repatriated are from Congo-Brazzaville. During the investigation, they will be confined to barracks.

Living under a shadow of fear

Road to anarchy

Last week the UN said European troops were implicated in child sex abuse allegations.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the UN envoy for CAR, travelled to Bambari, the country's second biggest city where the latest abuse allegedly occurred, on Thursday.

He expressed outrage and shame.

There is "sufficient initial evidence" that five of the alleged victims are minors and one adult has been sexually exploited, according to a fact-finding expert sent to the city.

The NGO Human Rights Watch said most of the abuse occurred while the Congolese peacekeepers were temporarily deployed to protect the city's airport.

UN assistant secretary-general Anthony Banbury said there are likely to be 22 confirmed allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in the UN's peacekeeping mission in CAR. That may rise as a result of the latest allegations.

Last week, the UN said a number of girls aged between 14 and 16 alleged they had been raped by Georgian members of the EU's operation Eufor in CAR.

A seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy said they were abused by French troops.

The troops were sent to stem violence between Christian militias and largely Muslim rebels.

'Gross institutional failure'

The rebels seized power in March 2013 - in response, the militias took up arms against them.

Last December an independent panel criticised the UN's handling of abuse allegations in the CAR, calling it "seriously flawed" and a "gross institutional failure".

It accused senior UN officials of abusing their authority by failing to take action over allegations of abuse by soldiers from France, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.

A 10,000-strong UN force took over a peacekeeping mission in September 2014.


Somalia plane: Daallo Airlines confirms passenger missing

A passenger on the flight forced to land at Somalia's Mogadishu airport after a large hole appeared in the fuselage has been confirmed missing by the airline.

Daallo Airlines had previously said that all the passengers had been accounted for.

It is thought that the man fell out of the hole, which appeared shortly after take-off from Mogadishu on Tuesday.

There have been fears that the damage to the flight was caused by a bomb.

But the exact cause is still not clear and Somalia is currently investigating what led the hole to appear on the Djibouti-bound Airbus 321.

No militant group has said it was behind the explosion.

Daallo Airlines head Mohamed Ibrahim Yasin Olad told the BBC Somali service that he hoped the investigation would be over soon so that his flights could resume but with tighter security at Mogadishu's airport.

In a statement, the airline said the incident was being investigated by Somalia's Civil Aviation Authority, as well as a technical team from the aircraft's owners and its manufacturers, Airbus.

Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Balad, an agricultural town 30km (18 miles) north of Mogadishu, said residents had found the body of a man who might have fallen from the plane.

Security officials say two passengers were also hurt in the incident.

Daallo Airlines

The airlines says all passengers have been accounted for

A plane in Somalia with a hole in its fuselage

The plane landed safely

Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec said he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb, though civil aviation authority officials said they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act.

"It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last,'' Mr Vodopivec said. He said the blast happened when the plane was at around 11,000ft (3,350m).

"It would have been much worse if we were higher," he added.

Daallo Airlines flies regularly from its base in Dubai to Somalia and Djibouti.

Somalia is battling militant Islamist group al-Shabab that has been carrying out deadly attacks in its quest to establish an Islamic state.


Aids in Zimbabwe: Making decent burials affordable

The atmosphere in John Mutau's coffin-making workshop feels sombre.

Coffins ready for the market are lined up across the room, leaving little space for his workbench.

But even in this environment, the young coffin-maker still affords an infectious smile.

Based in the city of Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, he is quick to say that coffin-makers are not as heartless as many people in the country think they are.

Instead, he says, with an air of importance in his voice: "We actually want to make decent burials affordable."

The 28-year-old is one of a number of young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs who in recent years have gone into coffin-making, after recognising that it remains a lucrative industry because of Zimbabwe's continuing high rate of Aids-related deaths.

While this may seem exploitative to some people, the new entrants say they are simply helping to meet a need, especially - they add - because their coffin prices are usually much cheaper than the country's established big funeral parlours.

Discarded wood

Despite Aids-related deaths having fallen by more than two thirds in Zimbabwe since 2001, as a result of education campaigns and the increased availability of free antiretroviral drugs, more than 60,000 people a year still die because of the virus, according to the country's National Aids Council.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says that Zimbabwe has the fifth highest prevalence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, with an infection rate of 15%. This equates to 1.4 million people, and 15% of adults.

Currently only 618,000 of these infected Zimbabweans - less than one third - have access to the antiretroviral treatments.

To keep his costs down, Mr Mutau makes his coffins predominantly from wood discarded by local timber companies.

This means that his coffins can cost as little as $40, compared with between $200 and $2,000 at the large, decades-old funeral director businesses.

Still, Mr Mutau admits that he, and the other new entrants, have their critics.

Many people think we celebrate death but we don't," he says.

"We are here to provide cheap coffins to the bereaved families."

Mr Mutau ventured into coffin making in 2005, but he admits that it was his business of last resort.

"I never dreamed of becoming a coffin-maker, but I need to feed my family," he says.

"There are no jobs out there. I get up to $500 per month selling coffins."

While Mr Mutau mostly works alone, if business is busy he brings in extra workers.

Another coffin-maker plying his trade in Mutare is 30-year-old Gift Olesi.

He went into the industry back in 2005 after he lost his job at a local timber company that was scaling down its operations due to falling sales.

Despite complaints from some people that he charges too much, Mr Olesi says he made a conscious decision to target the middle class, and so only makes coffins for more than $250.

"I get at least $900 a month, and I am able to feed my family," he says.

'Good nutrition'

While the new breed of coffin-makers is assisting the bereaved families of people who have died from Aids, other businesses are trying to help people with HIV or early stage Aids while they are still alive.

Green World Zimbabwe, a Harare-based company that manufactures herbal medicines and nutrition supplements, helps people with HIV start their own businesses selling its products.

It also markets its supplements to people with HIV.

Osmond Tafadzwa Chakauya, the company's senior consultant, says: "Yes some people living with HIV are getting antiretroviral drugs, but for the drugs to work they need good nutrition. Hence we provide such supplements."

So far the business has helped train up to 3,000 independent sales people, of which 1,000 have HIV.

Yet Phyllis Muloyi, who has been living with HIV for 18 years thanks to her antiretroviral drugs, cautions that such business support schemes mean little if people with HIV cannot get funding from a bank, something she says can be very difficult indeed.

Jephias Mundondo, an independent HIV/Aids campaigner, says that due to the increased availability of the drugs, banks should only be looking at the likely strength of someone's business, and his or her ability to run and grow it, not the fact that they have the virus.


Lazio: Serie A club fined for racist chanting against Napoli

Lazio have been fined 50,000 euros (£38,250) after their match against Napoli on Wednesday was temporarily halted following racist chants.

The Rome club will also have to close three sections of the Stadio Olimpico ground for their next two Serie A home games.

The match was stopped for three minutes in the second half after some fans aimed racist chants at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

League leaders Napoli won 2-0.

Senegal international Koulibaly, 24, praised referee Massimiliano Irrati for stopping the match.

After the match, Lazio manager Stefano Pioli said: "I would not have stopped the match. It was chanting from the minority, but I don't think they were racist. We also have players of colour and they are treated well."

The club have frequently been punished in the past for similar offences.

A spokesman for Serie A's disciplinary office said the club's North End, Tevere North End and Monte Mario North End must be closed for two matches.

This includes a one-match sanction which had been suspended for a year after racist chants from some fans in their home match against Genoa on 10 February 2015.


More money for you this year – Mahama to Ghanaians

“Currently, in all the road construction that’s going on in this country, 95% of the contractors are Ghanaians and not foreigners. And so by doing this, we are expanding the road construction industry and making Ghanaians take advantage of the commanding heights of that particular industry.

“In 2012 when I became President, there were six foreign companies that had asphalt plants to be able to do asphalt roads. Today, 22 Ghanaian companies have their own asphalt plants and these are the gains that we are making in this country.

“I can understand when people say things are tight. During Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s time, they said things were right and that there was no milk and cornered beef among others; but at the time he was building Akosombo, he was building Valco, Tema Steelworks, the shoe factories, GIHOC Distilleries to create jobs; and so we drove him away in a coup.

“The same people complaining today that things are hard drove Nkrumah away. And Nkrumah said if I knew it was milk you wanted, I would have connected it through a tap for you to drink.

“In everybody’s life, you make sacrifices for things that are important. Times come when we have to squeeze ourselves a bit to do the precious things that we need in life. We can’t have money in our pockets when the roads are not good?”

“What is the use of money when you are sick and can’t get a hospital to be cured? And so sometimes when we are squeezing ourselves, it is to do the things that are essential; to put in place the social and economic infrastructure after which you can begin to put money in your pocket.

“And so it’s good politics to say things are hard; but the money that we are raising we are using for things that will benefit this country. We have spent these last four years investing in bringing the social infrastructure back to scratch and when I win the second term, then we will start putting money in your pocket. And I wish to pledge that we will continue working in the interest of the people of Ghana.”

  • President Mahama was speaking at the inauguration of a Community Day Senior High School at Kwaobaah Nyanoa in the Eastern Region on Thursday


30 new goverment ambulances gone waste?

Thirty (30) out of two hundred (200) ambulances procured by the government of Ghana did not meet specifications of the Ministry of Health.

Because of the situation, the ambulances have not been distributed to government hospitals that are in dire need of them. The ambulances are currently parked at the car park of the Parliament of Ghana.

Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia who disclosed this on the floor of Parliament on Thursday said experts will be dispatched to the manufacturing company to inspect the rest of the ambulances before they are shipped into Ghana.

“Mr Speaker, at the moment they are 30 in the country. The content of the ambulances is the issue, various things have to be in the ambulance to ensure that they are fit for purpose. What we have are not fit for purpose so at the moment we have refused to say that this can be ambulances that could be used for the purposes we bought them. We have specifications, and the specification in these ambulances don’t appear to be met. It is the duty of the Ministry to ensure that we do not not take what we haven’t asked for. So we’re ensuring we have what we asked for, that is why we haven’t distributed the ambulances” Hon. Alex Segbefia noted.

His comment was in response to a question posed by the Member of Parliament for Atebubu Amantin, Sanja Nanja. The legislator had asked when the Atebubu /Amantin District Hospital will be allocated an ambulance.

Meanwhile a report carried by Thursday Feb. 4th edition of the Ghanaian Times states that about 40 of the 130 ambulances procured for the National Ambulance Service in 2010, have been grounded at its workshop.

Although the vehicles have outlived their usefulness, the service is compelled to repair them for use but that too is constrained by lack of funds.

The remaining 90 ambulances are woefully inadequate for effective health care delivery in the country.

The Chief Executive officer of the NAS, Professor Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah said some of the ambulances were parked at the workshop because they had exceeded their lifespan while others have developed major faults.

“The lifespan, of every emergency vehicle is normally five years, which means that the NAS needs to get a new fleet of vehicles, but we are compelled to use the old ones since we don’t have that luxury,” he said.

“The reality is that if the major faults on emergency vehicles are not fixed before use again, it may be causing more harm than good; that is why it’s better to book it out of commission rather than use it in a bad state,” he added.


MUSIGA to announce minimum wage standards for the Music Industry

The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) says it is working on announcing minimum wage standards for the music industry. To this end, MUSIGA will engage with the various stakeholders in the music industry to arrive at the minimum wage standards.  The Union is also working on an insurance and pension plan for its members. These were some of the issues considered at the annual retreat organized by MUSIGA for its national executives and directors.

The President of MUSIGA, Bice Osei Kuffour tasked the newly appointed Directors to work assiduously to ensure that the interests and needs of the various genres and departments they represent are adequately catered for over the four year term of the National Executive Committee.

The meeting reviewed the annual plan of the Union which covers the entire operations of the Union from the national to regional levels as well as the functioning of the various Directors of the genres and departments.

Present at the retreat were the 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents Bessa Simons and Rev. Dr. Thomas Yawson; National Organizer, Chizzy Wailer; National Treasurer, Samuel Agyeman and National Welfare Officer, Benedict Kolan. Directors present were Talent Discovery and Development Director, AppiahDanquah aka Appietus; Highlife Director, Smart Nkansah; Reggae Director, KwabenaOfeiNyarko aka Root I; Gospel Director and assistant, Rev Dr Mary Ghansah and Dan Agyin Goldman and the Director of Traditional Music and his assistant Emmanuel and DelaBoutri.

Also present were the Special Projects and Communications Director, AhumaBOscoOcansey and the Administrator, Rev Fiifi Khan Agyarkwah.


There are lunatics in Parliament – Koku Anyidoho

Deputy General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Koku Anyidoho has called on the security agencies to be decisive in dealing with criminals who clothe themselves with political colours.

According to him, the police and other security agencies must be able to single out individuals and punish them for their crimes rather than lumping them together with their perceived political associations.

Speaking at Starr 103.5FM’s ‘Thought Leadership Summit” on security titled : “Securing Ghana 2016: Fending off threats and safeguarding the peace,” at the Alisa Hotel Thursday, the former presidential spokesperson said politicians who make inflammatory statements must be arrested regardless of their status in society.

“There are so many lunatics and outright idiots around, and they believe that so long as they hide under political colours, they can say anything and go free. In this Agogo issue, people are playing politics with it. People think it is an election year so they must blow that matter up.

“...There are lunatics everywhere, they are not just in the asylum houses or mad houses; they are everywhere even in parliament, they are there.

“People who make inflammatory comments should be dealt with regardless of their political coloration,” Koku fumed.

Other thematic areas including the state of Ghana’s preparedness to respond to emerging national and sub-regional security threats in a globalized world, understanding Government’s position, media, and religious leaders: what role can they play in emerging security environment and is the security ready for emerging threats, were also discussed at the summit.