Sunderland beat uninspired Man Utd

Sunderland boosted their Premier League survival hopes with a deserved victory over an uninspired Manchester United.

Wahbi Khazri put the strugglers ahead after three minutes with a free-kick from the left that eluded everyone.

Anthony Martial levelled after he clipped the ball over Vito Mannone, who had parried Juan Mata's shot.

But the Black Cats won it when Lamine Kone's header from Khazri's corner went in via a deflection off David de Gea to dent United's top-four bid.

Will Allardyce's signings keep Sunderland up?

Sunderland's win takes them to within one point of rivals Newcastle and safety after a game inspired by manager Sam Allardyce's January signings.

Tunisia forward Khazri made his first Premier League start in their last game, a 2-2 draw with Liverpool where he assisted Jermain Defoe's equaliser.

And the signing from Bordeaux was inspired again, scoring early on against United with a free-kick which Defoe stepped over to bamboozle United's defence and De Gea.

And their winner - while credited as a De Gea own goal - was all thanks to the powerful header from Kone, a signing from Lorient.

De Gea got a touch, with Martial appearing to hit the ball off his own keeper on the way in.

Allardyce told BBC MOTD: "The new players have been on the list before January. The problem is can you get them here and do they want to come and join the fight? They were desperate to come here."

Pressure will not ease on Van Gaal

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been frustrated this week by media reports, including from BBC Sport, saying that Jose Mourinho's representatives have spoken to the club about their client replacing the Dutchman.

Van Gaal had continued to insist that the club can finish in the top four, although the defeat keeps fifth-placed United six points behind Manchester City, who now have a game in hand.

And, after the game, Van Gaal said it will be "very difficult" for them to qualify for the Champions League. The result has done nothing either to boost his chances of keeping his job.

United dominated the final stages of the first half, but other than that they were matched or outplayed by Sunderland, who could have scored more.

Love appears on Valentine's weekend

Manchester United now have seven defenders injured after they lost Matteo Darmian to a shoulder injury during the first half.

On Saturday, the day before Valentine's Day, Van Gaal brought on the appropriately named Donald Love, a Scotland Under-21 international. The former Wigan loanee had a solid performance on his debut at right-back.

The 21-year-old joined in United's attack at will and showed he was not overawed when he screamed at captain Wayne Rooney for over-hitting the return ball of a one-two.

The stats you need to know

  • Sunderland recorded their first ever Premier League win against Manchester United at the Stadium of Light in their 14th attempt.
  • United have earned fewer points this season than in any other Premier League campaign after 26 games (41).
  • United have won none of the past seven league games where they conceded the first goal (D1 L6).
  • Sunderland attempted more shots (including blocks) versus United than in any other league game this season (21 shots).
  • The Red Devils have collected just six points from their past seven league away games (W1 D3 L3).
  • Only Wayne Rooney (18) has scored or assisted more goals in all competitions for United this season than Anthony Martial (15 - 10 goals, five assists).
  • Sunderland have gone 12 games without a clean sheet in the league, the longest current run in the division.
  • United have earned fewer points this season than in any other Premier League campaign after 26 games (41).

'We deserved to win'

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce told BBC Match of the Day: "I thought the result was right. On the balance of chances created, a 2-1 win was no more than we deserved.

"It shows the importance of set plays. We've found a lad who delivers a great ball. One, he's scored himself and the second ball for Lamine's goal was quality.

"I thought Jermain Defoe was going to make it 2-0 and then Dame N'Doye got in one-on-one. We all prayed he would score. When he missed I wondered if it would be one of those days.

"Everyone is very happy at the moment. I've sensed a commitment and a desire and will to get out of the problems."

Next up for both sides...

Sunderland have two weeks until their next game, away to West Ham, and are heading to Dubai next week for warm weather training.

United will have no such luxury, as they face Danish side Midtjylland on Thursday in the Europa League, before an FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury the following Monday and the reverse European tie three days later.

United's next league involvement is at home to Arsenal on Sunday, 28 February.

Source: bbc.com

Newcastle in drop zone after Chelsea loss

Newcastle dropped into the relegation zone on goal difference after three goals in the first 17 minutes set Chelsea on their way to an easy win.

Diego Costa opened the scoring when he slid home Willian's pass.

A mistake by Rolando Aarons let Pedro make it 2-0 and Costa played in Willian to score from close range.

Cesc Fabregas set up Pedro for his second and Bertrand Traore turned in Cesar Azpilicueta's cross, before Andros Townsend's late consolation.

Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, and his side are now unbeaten in their past 10 Premier League games.

The only thing to spoil their evening was an injury to captain John Terry that saw the centre-half limp off before half-time and leave him as a doubt for Tuesday's trip to play Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

Magpies suffer again on the road

Newcastle have only scored seven goals on their travels this season, the worst record in the top four divisions in England, but it was their defence that let them down at Stamford Bridge.

Magpies boss Steve McClaren said in his pre-match TV interview that the first 20 minutes would be crucial to the outcome of the match. He was right, but not in the way he would have wanted.

By then, his side had suffered a complete collapse at the back which was summed up by Chelsea's second goal.

That came from a Newcastle free-kick near the home side's corner flag that was cleared to the halfway line before Aarons' horrendous cross-field pass allowed Pedro to gallop clear.

McClaren's side never looked capable of a comeback as they slipped to a fifth successive away defeat.

Andros Townsend's first goal since his £12m move from Tottenham reduced the damage at the end but Newcastle's goal-difference still took a battering and at -22 it is now the worst in the top flight.

Chelsea's injury problems continue

Chelsea's own defensive problems were of a very different sort.

With Kurt Zouma out for the season, the last thing Hiddink needed before a busy fortnight was to see Terry limp off.

Terry appeared to fall awkwardly after a clash with Magpies striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and will have a scan to assess the severity of his hamstring injury.

Gary Cahill only returned to the starting line-up on Saturday because of Zouma's serious knee injury, but could end up being a key figure at the back for his side in the next few weeks.

Man of the match - Chelsea's Diego Costa

Chelsea striker Diego Costa

He was playing with a broken nose, but Chelsea's man in the mask did not miss his mark.

Along with the impressive Willian, Costa scored one goal and made another but he edged the individual accolade because of his delightful finish to give his side an early lead.

"We caused our own problems" - McClaren

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: "We got exposed on quite a few occasions in terms of defensive frailties. Rolando Aarons had to play at left-back and it was Steven Taylor's second game in six months.

"We caused our own problems. We knew Chelsea would come out quick. They wanted to win that game by half-time with the week they have ahead of them.

"You get one or two of these games a season. I've told the players don't let that derail us. It was damage limitation by half-time.

"I just wanted to make sure we scored a goal and stayed in the game."

What next?

Newcastle are out of the FA Cup and their Premier League game with Manchester City on 28 February has been postponed because City are in the Capital One Cup final.

So the Magpies do not have a game for 18 days until they travel to Stoke on 2 March, and are heading for a training camp in Spain.

In that time, Chelsea play four matches, starting with Tuesday's trip to Paris.

The stats you need to know

  • Chelsea are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League - 10 games (won four, drew six).
  • Newcastle United have won only two of their last 20 Premier League away games (drew two, lost 16).
  • Pedro has scored as many Premier League goals versus Newcastle in this match as he did in his previous 19 apps combined (two).
  • All four of Cesc Fabregas' PL assists this season have arrived at Stamford Bridge.
  • Bertrand Traore is the first player from Burkina Faso to score in the Premier League.

Source: bbc.com

GOAT AND CHICKEN EPISODE

The First Ghanaian Cartoon Series Goat and Chicken Crew  are Back Again, The

Icandy Cartoon Factory is at it again and This Time FRD

The Animator Goes A little Further to showcase Goat and Chicken in a different

manner

Episode 3 is here check it out the Valentine Special

Source: Xplusx Ghana

Chelsea lose to Paris St-Germain

Edinson Cavani came off the bench to give Paris St-Germain the advantage after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea.

The hosts went ahead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic's deflected free-kick.

But John Mikel Obi scored a precious away goal, capitalising on some terrible defending to sweep home a deserved leveller from six yards.

Chelsea's stoic defending seemed on course to secure a draw before Cavani steered home Angel di Maria's pass.

The 29-year-old Uruguay striker, who has been used primarily as back-up to Ibrahimovic this season, scored moments after substitute Oscar spurned a chance for the visitors.

But with the second leg to come at Stamford Bridge on 9 March, the Blues are still very much in contention thanks to Mikel's goal - and Thibaut Courtois' late save from Ibrahimovic.

Tie perfectly poised

Some have called this a make-or-break week for Chelsea, with this match followed by an FA Cup tie against Manchester City on Sunday.

With their Premier League title defence already over, Guus Hiddink's men will know by the end of the weekend whether they can salvage anything from a disappointing domestic season.

But whatever happens against City, they will be hopeful of progressing in this competition after a promising performance in the French capital.

This is the third successive season these teams have been drawn against each other, and both previous ties were decided on away goals. Chelsea progressed in 2014 despite losing the first leg 3-1 in Parc des Princes.

And Hiddink described Mikel's goal as "important", adding his team was "still in the race".

Blues step up to the challenge

This was Chelsea's first defeat since Hiddink took charge after Jose Mourinho's sacking in November, leading his team to a 12-match unbeaten run.

The Blues thumped Newcastle 5-1 at the weekend, but Laurent Blanc's men were a step up in class.

The Ligue 1 leaders are unbeaten in 44 league games and lead second-placed Monaco by 24 points, though before the match Hiddink questioned the quality of the French top flight.

There is no doubting the quality of players at PSG's disposal, however, with Blanc able to recall the likes of of Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura after resting them at the weekend.

The hosts were by far the superior side in the opening 17 minutes, enjoying 74% of possession, but all they had to show for it was a long-range Lucas strike.

As the visitors dragged themselves back into the match, Ibrahimovic scored against the run of play. Indeed, were it not for Kevin Trapp's fingertips diverting Diego Costa's header onto the crossbar, the Blues would have been ahead before the Swede scored his first goal against the Blues.

Ibrahimovic's free-kick struck Mikel en route to beating Courtois, but the Nigeria midfielder quickly made amends by capitalising on poor PSG defending from a corner.

Makeshift defence gives Chelsea hope

With John Terry and Kurt Zouma injured, Chelsea were without their first-choice centre-backs.

But the makeshift partnership of Gary Cahill - who blocked bravely from Blaise Matuidi - and Branislav Ivanovic withstood wave after wave of second-half PSG attacks until they were eventually breached in the closing stages.

They were ably supported by Courtois, who made a series of saves, though he was culpable for allowing Cavani to thread the ball between his legs and in at the near post.

Terry's hamstring injury resulted in a promotion for Ghana defender Baba Rahman, and the left-back played his part in the Blues' rearguard display.

Manager reaction

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink: "The result is negative but, on the other hand, an away goal is important. It hurt a bit because the team was playing decently against a team with capacity to play. But we are still in the race.

"We were not lethal enough at times but otherwise we can be relatively happy.

"We didn't moan a lot about the absence of players and the rest got the confidence and did what they were asked. Over two legs, it is important you have the away goal.

"If we can do it at Stamford Bridge then a defeat doesn't count so much."

Source: bbc.com

Poor United beaten by FC Midtjylland

Manchester United produced another underwhelming display as they lost to Danish side FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

United were without a number of injured players, including Wayne Rooney, and lost David de Gea in the warm-up.

They took the lead through Memphis Depay's shot but Sergio Romero, who stepped in for De Gea, was unable to prevent Pione Sisto equalising.

United's Jesse Lingard hit the bar before Paul Onuachu struck the winner.

After losing to Sunderland 2-1 on Saturday, the Red Devils are six points shy of the top four in the Premier League, leaving qualification for next season's Champions League very much in the balance.

Winning the Europa League could represent their best chance of reclaiming a place in Europe's elite club competition, but if they are to do that they will have to be much better than they were against opponents who had not played for 71 days because of the Danish winter break.

That includes in the second leg of this tie, which is at Old Trafford in a week's time.

Midtjylland were only formed in 1999, the year United won their famous Treble, but what they lack in history they made up for with application and ability.

De Gea injury begins bad night for UnitedMan Utd injury XI

With 13 first-team players out and facing a side whose analytical tactical approach makes them a serious threat from set-pieces, United suffered a major setback when goalkeeper De Gea injured himself in the warm-up.

That meant a first United start in four months for Romero, but the Argentine proved an able replacement with three good saves.

One was a block to deny Vaclav Kadlec, who ran through unchallenged, just 56 seconds before United broke the deadlock through Depay's close-range finish from Lingard's cross.

Romero also produced a superb one-handed diving stop to keep out a powerful goalbound header from Onuachu in the second half.

Between those two saves, he could not stop Sisto pulling the hosts level with a shot that found the net via the shin of Chris Smalling.

Romero was equally powerless to keep out Onuachu's winner - a low drive after the substitute beat Juan Mata on the edge of the box.

Life without Rooney

A knee injury means United face a six-week insight into life without captain Rooney - an absence that could become permanent if reports of a move to China prove correct.

United have refused to comment on speculation about the striker's future, but his absence allowed Depay to make his first start since Boxing Day and gave Anthony Martial the chance to start up front.

Depay, the top scorer in the Dutch league last season prior to his £31m move to Old Trafford, had scored once in his previous 20 United appearances.

And while his display in Denmark was not a notable improvement on past performances in a United shirt he was able to add a goal to his modest tally of goals for the season, which now stands at six.

But the Dutchman, like the rest of the United team, offered little in the second half as the home side came back to win.

Martial, who has operated primarily on the left since joining the club for £36m in September, was largely anonymous in his central role.

Lingard struck the bar with a volley while the score was 1-1, but United rarely threatened as the clock ticked down.

What next?

United travel to Shrewsbury for an FA Cup fifth-round tie next Monday, followed three days later by the return leg against Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

Source: bbc.com

Uganda election: Facebook and Whatsapp blocked

Social media has been blocked in Uganda on the day of presidential elections to stop people "telling lies", President Yoweri Museveni has said.

Mr Museveni, 71, is seeking to extend his 30-year rule, in a race widely seen as the tightest in the East African state's history.

His main rival Kizza Besigye was briefly detained by police.

A foreign observer group condemned the blockage of social media and lengthy delays in opening voting booths.

Uganda decides: Live updates

Uganda's election explained

Interviewed on TV about social media, Mr Museveni said: "Some people misuse those pathways. You know how they misuse them - telling lies.

"If you want a right then use it properly."

Many people found a way around the controversial restrictions, including opposition candidate Amama Mbabazi who tweeted advice on how to do it:

Amama Mbabazi tweet

A VPN - a Virtual Private Network - gets round government censorship by redirecting your internet activity to a computer in a different country.

Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and mobile money services were blocked.

Despite this, #UgandaDecides was trending on Twitter.

Commonwealth election observer mission head Olusegun Obasanjo said: "It is ill advised if anyone has blocked social media."

Condemning the failure of voting stations to open on time, he said: "Delays of three, four, five and even six hours, especially in Kampala, are absolutely inexcusable and will not inspire trust and confidence in the system and the process".

The electoral commission said difficulties in transporting electoral materials caused the delays.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, reports that crowds were angry after waiting several hours to vote and police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Voting was cancelled at at least two polling stations in the city after clashes with police and accusations of fake ballots being distributed.

Some voters in Kampala, traditionally an opposition stronghold, accused the authorities of deliberately stalling the vote, AFP news agency reports.

"People are quite angry and everybody is believing that there is something wrong behind this because of the way they are delaying things," Moses Omony, a motorbike taxi driver, is quoted as saying.

Mr Besigye was arrested for demanding access to a house in Kampala where he believed vote rigging was taking place following the closure of polling stations, said Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, spokesman for his FDC party.

He is among seven opposition candidates hoping to end Mr Museveni's 30-year rule.

A candidate needs to secure more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off with the second-ranked contender.

Ugandans also voted in parliamentary and local elections.

Official results are expected by Saturday.

Major presidential contenders:

Posters of Uganda's three main presidential candidates

  • Kizza Besigye, 59, veteran opposition leader and once personal doctor to incumbent President Museveni. He has lost the last three elections
  • Amama Mbabazi, 67, former ally of President Museveni and once prime minister and also served as defence, security and justice ministers
  • Yoweri Museveni, 71, in power since winning a five-year guerrilla war in 1986 and he is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. His final term was meant to end in 2006, but in 2005 he won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits.

Uganda election: Issues, candidates and the poll

Uganda election: Old guard tries new tactics

Source: bbc.com

EU deal gives UK special status, says PM

David Cameron says a deal struck with EU leaders will give the UK "special status" and he will campaign with his "heart and soul" to stay in the union.

The PM said the agreement, reached late on Friday after two days of talks in Brussels, would include a seven-year "emergency brake" on welfare payments.

He added the deal included changes to EU treaties and would be presented to his cabinet on Saturday at 10:00 GMT.

EU exit campaigners said the "hollow" deal offered only "very minor changes".

The unanimous agreement reached at the EU summit was announced by European Council president Donald Tusk, who tweeted: "Deal. Unanimous support for new settlement for #UKinEU."

The new deal includes:

  • Cuts in child benefit for the children of EU migrants living overseas - applicable immediately for new arrivals and from 2020 for the 34,000 existing claimants
  • The amending of EU treaties to state explicitly that references to the requirement to seek ever-closer union "do not apply to the United Kingdom"
  • An "emergency brake" on migrant workers' in-work benefits that will apply for seven years - less than the 13 years the PM proposed but longer than other countries had asked for
  • The ability for the UK to enact emergency safeguards to protect the City of London

German Chancellor Angela Merkel predicted the package of reforms would "elicit support in the UK for the country to remain in the EU".

'In Britons' hands'

Mr Tusk said it "strengthens Britain's special status", while EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker described it as "fair".

Mr Tusk added: "We didn't walk away from the negotiating table. We were willing to sacrifice part of our interests for the common good, to show our unity.

"I deeply believe the UK needs Europe and Europe needs the UK. But the final decision is in the hands of the British people."

Once Mr Cameron has briefed his ministers at Saturday's cabinet meeting, they will be free to campaign for either side in the referendum, which has been promised by the end of 2017 but is expected in June this year.

Mr Cameron said he would shortly announce the date of the referendum and said he was "disappointed" but not surprised that one of his key allies, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, was to campaign for the UK to leave the EU.


Analysis by Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

The ink is hardly dry on the UK's EU deal, but immediately the focus has switched to the substance of what David Cameron has achieved and - possibly an awkward question - how many of his colleagues will argue against him.

The focus will move to whether the prime minister can keep his party politely together during a period of public disagreement.

The ability to restrict benefits to migrants is an important victory for Mr Cameron - ammunition for his argument that he has achieved changes to help reduce the number of EU migrants coming to live and work in the UK.

The proposals are complicated and do not exactly match the promises he made in the Conservative Party manifesto.

But with it - and the other commitments - it becomes harder for his critics to make the case that the agreement is flimsy and will change nothing.

Read more from Laura


Mr Cameron said he had achieved the reforms he wanted, claiming they would put the UK "in the driving seat" of one of the world's biggest markets and create a "more flexible" EU.

"We have permanently protected the pound and our right to keep it," he added, saying that, for the first time, the EU "has explicitly acknowledged it has more than one currency".

"The British people must now decide whether to stay in this reformed European Union or to leave," he continued.

"This will be a once-in-a-generation moment to shape the destiny of our country."

At the same time as the EU reforms, the PM said further measures to strengthen the UK's sovereignty would be announced.

The deal reached between all 28 EU member states comes after several leaders objected to Mr Cameron's planned reforms.

The original aim had been to conclude the deal at an "English breakfast" meeting on Friday, which became an "English brunch", then an "English lunch" and eventually an "English dinner", at which point the agreement was announced.

Eurosceptics have dismissed the reforms, saying they will not allow the UK to block unwanted EU laws or reduce migration.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, said Mr Cameron "will now declare victory but it is an entirely hollow one".

He disputed the PM's claim that the deal was legally binding, saying it "can be ripped up by EU politicians and unelected EU judges".

As the EU summit was being concluded, another EU exit campaign, Grassroots Out, held a rally in Westminster.

Conservative MP David Davis said it was time for Britain "to take control of its own destiny", while UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the cross-party campaign was "absolutely united in fighting to get back our democracy".

Mr Farage unveiled former Respect MP George Galloway as a "special guest" at the rally, describing him as a "towering figure on the left of British politics".


Analysis by Laurence Peter, BBC News online

After two days of gruelling talks - and late-night haggling - EU leaders were plainly relieved to get the deal with David Cameron done.

French President Francois Hollande stressed that "no revision of the treaties is planned". Tough EU treaty change would have been politically toxic for him, as he is faced with an election next year.

But he also stressed that for France the EU "is not just a budget" - but about many policies and "the joint project". It was a pointed reminder about the EU's symbolism, contrasting with Mr Cameron's position.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the new child benefit rules could be good for Germany too - and supported Mr Cameron's drive against abuse of the welfare system.

"I don't think we gave the UK too much," she said. But she admitted that ever closer union was an emotional issue for her, so Mr Cameron's opposition to it was "not easy" to deal with.

Source: bbc.com

Uganda polls: Museveni's main rival, Besigye, arrested. Ghana is blessed

Police in Uganda say they have arrested the main opposition presidential candidate to prevent him from announcing his own election results.

Kizza Besigye was detained during a raid on his party's headquarters in the capital, Kampala, following Thursday's tightly contested elections.

Police also fired tear gas to disperse his supporters.

The US urged President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year-rule, to "rein in his police".

With official results for nearly half of the polling stations declared, Mr Museveni is leading with 62% of the vote, while Mr Besigye has 33%.

Mr Besigye's supporters say the result is being rigged to rob him of victory.

This is the third time in the space of a week that the opposition candidate has been detained.

He was released on the two previous occasions without being charged.

There is a heavy deployment of soldiers and police in parts of Kampala, says the BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the city.

There have also been reports of some clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters, she adds.

Mr Besigye was arrested because he planned to announce "purportedly final results" in breach of electoral laws, police said in a statement.

His action would have amounted to "disturbing public order", police said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Mr Museveni, and told him that the arrest "calls into question Uganda's commitment to a transparent and credible election process free from intimidation", the state department said in a statement.

The US embassy in Uganda condemned the crackdown in a post on its Twitter account.

tweet from us mission condemning raid

The US also criticised the shutdown of social media, chat apps and mobile money services in Uganda on Thursday.

President Museveni said the decision had been taken for security reasons, and to prevent people from "telling lies".

Voting was extended to a second day at a few polling stations, where election material arrived up to five hours late on Thursday.

The Commonwealth election observer mission head, Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the lengthy delay in opening polling stations was "absolutely inexcusable and will not inspire trust and confidence in the system and the process".

Ugandans also voted in parliamentary and local elections.

Final results are expected on Saturday.

Major presidential contenders:

Posters of Uganda's three main presidential candidates

  • Kizza Besigye, 59, veteran opposition leader and once personal doctor to incumbent President Museveni. He has lost the last three elections
  • Amama Mbabazi, 67, former ally of President Museveni and once prime minister and also served as defence, security and justice ministers
  • Yoweri Museveni, 71, in power since winning a five-year guerrilla war in 1986 and he is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. His final term was meant to end in 2006, but in 2005 he won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits.

Uganda election: Issues, candidates and the poll

Uganda election: Old guard tries new tactics

Source: bbc.com

Donald Trump demands Apple boycott to force it to unlock phone

US presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for a boycott of Apple until the tech giant helps unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers.

Apple has clashed with the Justice Department (DoJ) over a court order forcing the company to help break the encryption on one of its phones.

On Friday the DoJ called Apple's refusal a "marketing strategy".

Apple said it will not help break into the the phone, citing wider privacy concerns for its users.

The phone belonged to one of the two people who opened fire at an office event in San Bernardino, California, last December, killing 14

Speaking at a campaign rally, Mr Trump said: "Boycott Apple until such time as they give that information."

On Thursday, a court ordered the tech giant to help break the encryption.

The government has called the request narrow and argued it is only focused on this particular iPhone.

The DoJ filed another motion in court on Friday after Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, said Apple would continue to refuse the order.

A California court has set 22 March for the hearing.


Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

Before this goes to court, it's being played out with a war of words.

The DoJ motion today is about investigators smashing the ball back into Tim Cook's court. It disputes his claim that the security of its products would be inherently and forever compromised.

It essentially argues that Mr Cook's stance - and indeed the stance of the other technology companies that support him - is motivated by business, not ethics.

Apple has been given an extension to submit its formal response, but the real sparks are likely to fly at the hearing date set for late March.

It will take place in San Bernardino under, you'd imagine, the scrutiny of the families caught up in the tragedy.


In a letter to customers published on Apple's website, Mr Cook called the implications of the order "chilling".

"While we believe the FBI's intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."

Source: bbc.com

Islamic State militants in Libya 'threatened US interests'

Militants from the Islamic State group who were killed in a US air strike in Libya posed a threat to US and Western interests, the Pentagon says.

An IS camp was attacked in Sabratha, around 70km (43 miles) west of Tripoli.

The 38 people killed reportedly include Tunisian extremist Noureddine Chouchane, linked to two attacks in Tunisia last year, including one which killed 30 Britons.

The IS group has been active in Libya for more than a year.

The US estimates the group has up to 6,000 fighters there.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the strike was carried out "with the knowledge of Libyan authorities" but declined to confirm exactly who had been informed.

"We took this action against Sabir [Noureddine Chouchan] in the training camp after determining that both he and the ISIL [IS] fighters at these facilities were planning external attacks on US and other Western interests in the region," he was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

"We see what's happening in Iraq and Syria and we believe that these fighters in Libya posed a threat to our national security interests."

Libya remains in chaos more than four years after the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi and is being fought over by a number of groups, including IS.

Efforts to agree on a unified government have so far been unsuccessful, with different authorities governing different parts of the country.

Top IS leaders 'take refuge' in Libya

Tunisia attack: What we know

Control and crucifixions: Life in Libya under IS

Map

The Pentagon described Chouchane as an "experienced facilitator" who had helped move IS fighters across the Tunisia-Libya border.

American F-15E fighters as well as unmanned aircraft were involved in the raid, the Pentagon said.

The BBC understands that British bases were involved in the attack but no British assets, such as warplanes, were involved.

The mayor of Sabratha put the death toll at 41 and said the majority of those killed were Tunisians.

A statement on the council website said weapons such as machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades had been found at the site.

Tourists holding hands looking at tributes on beach

The Sousse attack last year left 30 Britons dead

In November, a US strike in Derna reportedly killed Iraqi IS commander Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, who was said to be the group's leader in Libya.

The US has launched several unilateral raids and operations in the country since it helped oust Gaddafi.

In June, a gun attack in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse left 38 people dead, 30 of them Britons.

Chouchane is also believed to have been behind the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis last year, which left 19 people dead.

The gunmen in both the Sousse and Bardo attacks are believed to have trained in Libya, which shares a border with Tunisia.


Islamic State militants in Libya

Map of control

  • IS jihadists seized a strip of land along Libya's coast, around the city of Sirte, last year
  • Libyan intelligence officials say foreign fighters and some IS commanders have relocated there from Iraq and Syria
  • The US estimates the number of IS foreign jihadists at 4,000-6,000
  • The largest groups are said to be from Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan and Iraq
  • Recent recruitment has focused on sub-Saharan African countries
  • It is not known how many of the jihadists are nationals of European countries
  • IS militants have attacked Libyan cities, including Tripoli and Benghazi, and oil installations

Source: bbc.com

Hannah Tetteh briefs Parliament on GTMO detainees

Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Tetteh, is currently on the floor of Parliament briefing Members in a closed door meeting over the circumstances that led to Ghana accepting the two Yemeni ex GITMO detainees into its fold.

Her invitation to the August House was spurred by concerns from Members from both sides of the legislature over the Gitmo detainees’ acceptance into the country without their knowledge.

Snippets of information picked from the meeting indicates that Madam Tetteh is not prepared to open up.

She came into the House with a prepared document and has restricted herself to that note all along.

Hannah Tetteh, kasapafmonline.com understands, has admitted that there is an agreement between Ghana and the US Government over the ex GTMO detainees but declined to give details of the said agreement.

According to her, she was and is still not privy to the discussions that have gone on between President Mahama and the US Government.

She said the matter was even not discussed at the national security level and therefore information regarding the circumstances that led to the two ex GTMO detainees are scanty.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, the Foreign Affairs Minister announced that Ghana has accepted a plea from the International Criminal Tribunal to provide shelter for two cleared terrorist suspects of Yemeni origin who were detained in Guantanamo Bay prison by US authorities.

The two were Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby and Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef.

According to Madam Hannah Tetteh, the two Gitmo detainees were unable to “return to Yemen at the moment and we have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country”.

That aside, the Ministry said it had also agreed to provide humanitarian assistance and refuge to some persons from Rwanda, Yemen and Syria.

Ever since the announcement, a cross section of the Ghanaian populace has criticized the government for putting the country’s security into jeopardy.

Concerns have also been raised as to the actual number of detainees the country has admitted into its fold.

“I have received a paper indicating that fifteen (15) more of the detainees will be following. That means Ghana is going to host 17 of these detainees. So, it is important that we get to know whether their arrival will benefit Ghana. In the context of good governance, information is very vital. We call it answerability – people need to be accountable”, argued Dr. Nana Ato Arthur, MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo.

Madam Hannah Tetteh is therefore expected to brief Members about what actually went into the discussions with the US Government before accepting the Gitmo detainees.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com

Rihanna cancels Sunderland and Cardiff tour dates

Rihanna has cancelled some dates of her UK stadium tour.

So far, Sunderland's Stadium of Light and Cardiff's Principality Stadium both been pulled from the Anti tour.

But her Coventry date at Ricoh Arena will still go ahead although it has been rescheduled from 14 June to 25 June.

It's all down to "logistical reasons beyond the tours control" according to a statement and refunds will be available.

A statement from Sunderland AFC which reads: Due to logistical reasons beyond the tours control a number of shows on Rihanna's forthcoming Anti World Tour have been cancelled. The concert scheduled for Sunderland's Stadium of Light is one of those affected and the show will no longer go ahead.

It's thought this announcement will affect as many as 100,000 fans.

The Anti tour will help promote her new album which has already gone platinum.

Ricoh Arena has apologised to fans and says they will refund those who are unable to make the new date.

Fans attending the gig at Cardiff also received a similar email from Ticketmaster, although it said that date was cancelled.

Cardiff have offered a refund or a swap to an alternative city.

It appears the gigs at London's Wembley Stadium, Glasgow's Hampden Park and Manchester's Old Trafford won't be affected by the changes.

Rihanna has also cancelled performances in America.

It's after she pulled out of the Grammy Awards due to illness.

The Anti tour was supposed to begin in San Jose, California on 26 February.

The tour will now begin on 12 March in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Brit Awards, where Rihanna is due to perform next week, say there is no change and Rihanna's performance slot is still going ahead.

For more stories like this one you can now download the BBC Newsbeat app straight to your device. For iPhone go here. For Android go here.

Source: bbc.com

Bangkok airport safety issues 'must be addressed'

The airline industry has called on the Thai government to address problems at the country's main airport in Bangkok.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) says Suvarnabhumi airport has inadequate capacity and substandard taxiways.

The criticism follows safety warnings last year from another air industry organisation about Thailand's regulation and inspection of airlines.

The government has set up two bodies to oversee airports and airlines.

However, it has asked for more time to meet international standards.

Suvarnabhumi airport was opened nearly ten years ago. It is Thailand's main international gateway but Iata says it is now operating beyond its capacity, and needs to be expanded.

Backbone of tourism

"Aviation is critical to Thailand's economic success. It is the backbone of the tourism industry and provides critical global business links," Iata's director general Tony Tyler said in Bangkok.

"It is in jeopardy, however, unless key issues of safety, capacity and costs are addressed urgently."

The organisation urged the Thai authorities to fix the problem of 'soft spots' in poor quality tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport, where airliners sometimes got stuck and had to be pulled out.

Mr Tyler said a permanent solution was needed. "There seems to be a constant resurfacing with a temporary patchwork of asphalt reinforcements. Frankly, that is not good enough.

"The runway and gate downtime that results from constantly fixing (and re-fixing) them is unacceptable.

"Moreover the situation is a safety risk. The extraordinary power that aircraft need to use around soft spots and extra-towing expose ground personnel, ground equipment and the aircraft to safety risks.

'Deeply disappointing'

He also highlighted the issue of lack of capacity at the airport. He said the Phase Two terminal expansion was badly needed and should be fast tracked.

"For runway capacity, immediate capacity increases can be achieved through addressing the "soft spots" issue which will allow existing capacity to be used fully. But a third runway will be needed eventually. So it is important that work and preparations for a three runway system continue," he added.

Thailand is already struggling to address last year's warnings from the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), about a shortage of inspectors to check safety procedures among Thai airlines.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) subsequently downgraded its safety rating of Thailand's aviation authority, finding that Thailand did not comply with the ICAO's safety standards.

Iata said it was "deeply disappointing" that the organisations had raised safety concerns about Thailand as a country.

It said the oversight concerns raised in both the ICAO and the FAA reports should be addressed by the Thai government "thoroughly and urgently".

The airport's operator, Airports of Thailand, has said it has come up with several measures to improve the runways using concrete and expand capacity. These are awaiting government approval.

"We have prepared short- to medium- and long-term plans to solve the problems," said Sirote Duangratana, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Source: bbc.com

Apple apologises for iPhone 'error 53' and issues fix

Apple has said sorry to iPhone customers whose phones were disabled after third-party repairs, and issued a fix for the problem.

Some users found that their iPhone stopped working following servicing by a non-Apple technician and saw an "error 53" message in iTunes.

Previously, Apple had said the error was a "security measure" taken to prevent fraudulent transactions.

Now, the company has released a software update to fix the error.

In a statement, Apple said that "error 53" occurs when a device fails a standard security test designed to ensure that the Touch ID fingerprint scanner is working correctly.

However, the company added: "We apologise for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers.

"Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement."

A software update has now been released so that iPhone customers with disabled phones may restore their device via iTunes on a PC or Mac.

Apple 'prodded'

"To me, there was a lot of logic in what they said around the 'error 53' element," said mobile analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight.

"If you're using your fingerprint to unlock sensitive data or make payments and there was the ability for someone to replace the screen and modify the module to take control of your phone - that's not a good thing at all."

Mr Wood added that Apple faced something of a backlash over the error after it appeared "retrospectively" on repaired phones following a software update, and was not something iPhone users had expected.

Apple had even faced a class action lawsuit led by a Seattle-based firm over error 53-disabled phones.

"I think it's a sensible decision by Apple," he told the BBC.

"If they've found a way to allow people to do repairs to the phone without that error occurring, that's great news."

Some customers praised the company's decision on Apple's discussion forums.

"Perhaps my sentiment of a week ago or so (that I would not buy an iPhone 6), which generated so much complaining by people with huge numbers of posts, in its small way helped to prod Apple into fixing this," wrote one user, risandy, following news of the fix.

"Glad to see Apple have back-tracked on this one," added Jay 75.

Source: bbc.com

Manchester City will 'prioritize' Champions League over FA Cup

Manchester City will prioritise the Champions League above their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea on Sunday, according to boss Manuel Pellegrini.

City play the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, four days before the Capital One Cup final.

The Chilean said: "The priority is always the next game, but we must make an exception because of many injuries."

City's visit to Chelsea will be shown live on BBC One on Sunday at 16:00 GMT.

The 2012 FA Cup winners are still in contention to a complete an unprecedented quadruple by winning the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.

They will have to play a game in each competition in an 11-day span between 21 February and 2 March.

Man City's four competitions in 11 days
Sunday, 21 February: Chelsea in FA Cup fifth round in London
Wednesday, 24 February: Dynamo Kiev in Champions League last 16 in Kiev
Sunday, 28 February: Liverpool in the League Cup final in London*
Wednesday, 2 March: Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield
*City's league game against Newcastle was set for this date and must be rescheduled

Pellegrini added: "We have just 13 players available to play and have to play the Champions League on Wednesday. We'll see the best team we can play on Sunday.

"I always try to play with a strong team in every competition. They are all important but we must prioritise the Champions League."

Chelsea, who are currently 12th in the Premier League, played their Champions League first-leg tie away to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Interim manager Guus Hiddink, who won the FA Cup during his previous spell in charge in 2009, said: "We have a serious approach to the FA Cup."

Chelsea skipper John Terry has been ruled out of the tie.

Source: bbc.com

FA Cup: Chelsea put 5 past Man City

Chelsea swept aside a below-strength Manchester City team containing five teenage full debutants to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini warned he would select a shadow side after the game was scheduled for late on Sunday, before Wednesday's Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.

And he was true to his word as most of City's big players were missing and defender Tosin Adarabioyo and young midfielders Manu Garcia and Aleix Garcia were selected, along with Bersant Celina and David Faupala.

Faupala actually gave City hope when he scrambled in an equaliser, after Diego Costa headed Chelsea in front 10 minutes before half-time.

The leveller was met with several coins being thrown on to the pitch from the Chelsea supporters' end.

The hosts, however, over-ran City after the break with Willian scoring from close range and Gary Cahill putting the result beyond doubt with a powerful finish from Fernando's poor clearance.

The excellent Eden Hazard curled in a free-kick and Bertrand Traore's header looped over dreadful City keeper Willy Caballero to complete an emphatic win for Chelsea, who were even allowed the luxury of seeing Oscar's penalty saved.

Chelsea will travel to Everton in the quarter-finals.

There are two distinct sides to this argument - those who believe in the power of the FA Cup to such an extent that anything less than a full-strength side is abhorrent, and those who believe City have higher priorities.

Pellegrini, in his defence, has always played strong sides in domestic cup competitions and his anger (and consequently his selection) here came from this game being scheduled for 16:00 GMT on a Sunday before Wednesday's Champions League trip to the Ukraine.

A side with so many full debutants was on a hiding to nothing and so it proved as Chelsea's strength and superior class wore them down.

The eventual result will inevitably draw criticism for Pellegrini but he will insist he does respect the FA Cup, has a track record that proves it, and that his hand was forced by City's arduous schedule, which also includes the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley next Sunday.

Hazard shows signs of life

Eden Hazard's form has come under intense scrutiny this season, with many Chelsea fans blaming his lack of impact for the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho.

He was also criticised for his display in the Champions League loss to Paris St-Germain, a club who - along with Real Madrid, have been strongly linked with the Belgian.

Here, he was back to something like his mercurial best, crossing for Costa's opener, playing in Willian for the second before getting his first home goal this season with a swerving free-kick that deceived City keeper Caballero.

Hazard still has some way to go before reaching the standards that inspired Chelsea's title win last season but this was another big step forward and history shows that when he plays well Chelsea are a very potent force.

And the chants at the end suggests he is back in the good books of Chelsea's fans.

So how did City's youngsters fare?

The answer is a simple one - just about as well as could be expected in the circumstances.

And to place their efforts in context against a Chelsea side that was simply too strong and too good for them, it should be noted that keeper Caballero (34), Martin Demichelis (35) and Fernando (28) were quite comfortably among City's worst players.

Caballero was uncertain throughout and might have done better with Chelsea's last three goals, although he saved Oscar's penalty. Demichelis was desperate, fouling Bertrand Traore to concede a penalty, while it was Fernando's clearance that fell invitingly for Cahill's third.

It was certainly not the youngsters who let Pellegrini down.

Young striker Faupala, his goal apart, showed great energy and promise. The 19-year-old almost opened the scoring in the opening moments, following up two nutmegs with a shot that brought a smart save from Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois.

And young defender Adarabioyo, 18, was dealt a tough hand in dealing with the bustling Costa but stuck to his task and acquitted himself better than the vastly-experienced Demichelis.

This was a very steep learning curve for City's kids and they can now return to the junior ranks having had a taste, albeit a painful one, of life at the highest level.

What the managers said

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: "Manchester City made changes but that doesn't make it easy because the youngsters that came in were dangerous. It was key that we started well in the second half, got an early second and third goal."

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini: "We were forced to select that team, we couldn't play another day and didn't have any more fit players. We knew it was a difficult chance to carry on in the FA Cup. We cannot do anything more.

"If we play on Saturday, it is better for us, then we play in the Champions League for England. We have six players injured and cannot take any more risks. We played against a very good team and that's why they won."

The stats you need to know

  • Guus Hiddink has never lost an FA Cup match with Chelsea (played six, won six), guiding them to the trophy in 2009
  • Manchester City conceded five goals in an FA Cup game for the first time since January 2000 (2-5 v Leeds)
  • David Faupala scored on his first ever senior appearance in English football
  • Diego Costa has scored seven goals in his last seven games in all competitions at Stamford Bridge
  • Eden Hazard has scored and assisted in both of his two FA Cup appearances this season (two goals, three assists in total)
  • Hazard has assisted two goals in a game (all comps) for Chelsea for the first time since March 2014
  • Chelsea (eight) have scored more direct free-kicks than any other team in Europe's top five leagues (all comps)

What next?

Chelsea travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday and Manchester City face a trip to Ukraine on Wednesday to play Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. They then play Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

Source: bbc.com

 
 
 
 
 

EC’s actions must deepen public trust – Gyampo

A Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. Ransford Gyampoh is questioning the rationale behind the Electoral Commission’s formation of an Election Steering Committee without broad consultations.

According to him, the distrust that political parties and some Ghanaians have for the Electoral Commission will only be deepened by such actions and decisions which are not based on consensus from key political actors in the country.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Gyampo said the Electoral Commission must be seen to be actively implementing the reforms that were agreed upon in the aftermath of the 2012 elections rather than creating bodies such as the Steering Committee.

“My own issue is that, why do we need that committee? In my view, the EC may mean well in putting in place that committee, but given the feeling of distrust that many Ghanaians and political parties have in the EC and the current legitimacy deficit that the EC faces in view of the post 2012 election, it seems that everything good or initiative that the EC will put in place to an extent, brings some distrust among its key stakeholders and it is not the best. There can be no meaningful discussion of building a strong institution without public confidence in such institutions.”

He noted that, “one way to restore public confidence in the EC is for it to be proactively and publicly be seen to be implementing proposals for electoral reforms which have been submitted to it. This is the only way out, otherwise anything they do maybe seeing as the EC majoring on minor issues.”

Dr. Ransford Gyampo is also advising the Electoral Commission not to succumb to all the demands of political parties but to strike a balance in dealing with them.

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.


Source: citifmonline.com

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

“The EC is an independent organisation and it must not necessarily pander to the whims and caprices of political parties. Bu the point must also be made that over the years, if IPAC wasn’t useful then it should have been disbanded by now. Over the years the EC has executed its mandate well because it has worked with the IPAC; so it has been a good relationship between the two without the EC necessarily lording its independence over the IPAC. So there has to be a balance,” he said.

Mandate of the steering committee

The National Election Steering Committee is to ensure a smooth and peaceful 2016 elections. Apart from the 10 members, the seven Commissioners of the EC are also members with Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, being the Chairperson of the Committee, while the Director of Elections will serve as a Secretary to the Committee.

The Committee is to share ideas and harmonize activities of the Commission to ensure that there is adequate security before, during and after the 2016 election.

“…Of the 18 members, eight are from the commission and the remaining ten come from institutions that the commission decided should have representation on the committee”, Mr Owusu Parry, Public Affairs Director of the EC, recently told Citi News.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

 

 

A Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. Ransford Gyampoh is questioning the rationale behind the Electoral Commission’s formation of an Election Steering Committee without broad consultations.

According to him, the distrust that political parties and some Ghanaians have for the Electoral Commission will only be deepened by such actions and decisions which are not based on consensus from key political actors in the country.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Gyampo said the Electoral Commission must be seen to be actively implementing the reforms that were agreed upon in the aftermath of the 2012 elections rather than creating bodies such as the Steering Committee.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/ecs-actions-must-deepen-public-trust-gyampo/#sthash.q3UNEV02.dpuf

Afari Gyan much better than Charlotte Osei – NPP

Despite accusing him on several occasions of bias and dragging him to the Supreme Court in the historic 2012 election petition, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) says Dr. Afari Gyan as Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman, was far better than the  incumbent Chairperson, Charlotte Osei.

Former EC Boss Dr. Afari Gyan, retired in June 2015, having spent 22 years in office in which he oversaw 5 elections. He was replaced by Charlotte Osei, who was picked from the National Commission for Education Education (NCCE) as the first female to head the electoral body.

Madam Osei’s relationship with the political parties has got off to a rocky start, particularly with the NPP, whose petition for a new voters’ register to be created, was rejected by her.

On Saturday, the EC announced that the 18-member Steering Committee created ahead of the polls had not been suspended despite reports on Friday indicating that it had done so after an Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting.

The EC’s latest announcement has not gone down well with the NPP, who have questioned its relevance and composition of members.

The party had initially indicated their support for Madam Osei when she first assumed her role, where they called on her to “resolve the many challenges she is inheriting from Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, her predecessor”

However, according to them, the recent decisions made by the EC Chairperson shows that she is still a long way from her much-maligned predecessor.

This conclusion on Charlotte Osei comes at a time when she is yet to conduct her first major election after only overseeing two by-elections.

“As for the present EC boss, she is a pale shadow of Dr. Afari Gyan; comparatively, Dr Afari Gyan was better,” Deputy General Secretary of the NPP, Nana Obiri Boahene told Citi News.

Nana Obiri Boahene said some of the EC staff have outlived their usefulness.

“As the Electoral Commission of Ghana, if you consider the utterances and comments of some of the members, you will know that they have outlived their usefulness.”

A frustrated Boahene said the Commission can decide to handover its entire mandate to the steering committee.

“They can decide to, as it were, hand over all functions of the EC as spelt out in the constitution to the Steering Committee. Who cares?”

The General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Atik Mohammed, in commenting on the EC’s U-turn said the Commission is needlessly complicating the issues at stake.

“Having conceded that they’ve erred, it will be difficult for the Commission to say the committee should continue with its work whilst. I would like to understand what they [EC] meant by saying return to the drawing board.”


Source: citifmonline.com

Nana Obiri Boahene said some of the EC staff have outlived their usefulness.

“As the Electoral Commission of Ghana, if you consider the utterances and comments of some of the members, you will know that they have outlived their usefulness.”

A frustrated Boahene said the Commission can decide to handover its entire mandate to the steering committee.

“They can decide to, as it were, hand over all functions of the EC as spelt out in the constitution to the Steering Committee. Who cares?”

The General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Atik Mohammed, in commenting on the EC’s U-turn said the Commission is needlessly complicating the issues at stake.

“Having conceded that they’ve erred, it will be difficult for the Commission to say the committee should continue with its work whilst. I would like to understand what they [EC] meant by saying return to the drawing board.”

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2016/02/22/afari-gyan-much-better-than-charlotte-osei-npp/#sthash.G2nwdq6R.dpuf

 

Bawumia rubbishes NDC’s records

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, running mate to New Patriotic Party’s 2016 Presidential Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, has rubbished claims by the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC), that it has transformed the country by undertaking a number of projects.

He outlined six reasons why Ghanaians must reject the NDC’s attempt to hoodwink the public on claims of massive investments in projects as the reality points to the contrary.

Dr. Bawumia outlined these in a lecture on the topic “The Role of Financial Discipline and Investment In National Development”, at a National Financial Literacy and Investment Summit organised by the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), at the University for Development Studies, Wa Campus.

Where is the rest of the money and what could it have done? Bawumia asks and answers

Dr. Bawumia pointed out that the NDC had increased Ghana’s debt in seven years by GHC90 billion, from GHC9.5 billion at the end of 2009 to some GHC99 billion currently; an equivalent of some 37 billion dollars at the time of borrowing.

“First, If you sum the cost of all the loan financed projects listed in the green book (even including those with artistic impressions, it is less than $7 billion. Meanwhile, the government has borrowed the equivalent of $37 billion so where is the rest of the money? Indeed, given the resources at its disposal one should expect at least four times the quantum of investment that the NDC claims to have undertaken”, Dr. Bawumia said, as he began listing the six reasons.

He proceeded to list a number of things the over 30 billion dollars from borrowing the NDC cannot account for, could have done, which proves that contrary to the claims, the NDC has done a bad job at giving Ghanaians their due after undertaking unprecedented borrowing in the last seven years.

“The close to $30 billion of borrowing that was not used for projects could have inter alia:

  •     Developed the Rail network from Accra to Paga and transformed many parts of the country just by this investment.
  • Solved the water problems in Ghana
  • Solved the energy problem and not put the country through 4 years of dumsor at the cost of human lives and collapsing businesses and unemployment
  • Put in place at least 1000 kilometres of asphalted roads in each region. There will be no major road problem left in any region after this.
  • Transformed Agriculture in the Northern regions, Afram Plains and Ghana through investment in machinery, irrigation and dams
  • Put in place one world class hospital in each region
  • Buy at least 1000 ambulances for the Ghana Ambulance service
  • Set up factories with the private sector across the country to add value to our raw materials and create jobs. On the issue of jobs, the question is, if the government has taken a whole 4 years to solve a basic problem like Dumsor, how long will it take to address unemployment? At this pace, many of the unemployed youths will be over the pension age before the NDC finds a solution to the unemployment problem.
  • Equip our existing health and education institutions with state of the art facilities.
  • Build an additional 600 of the Senior High Schools the government is currently trying to build”, he said.

Fact: Investment to GDP has declined and affected Economic Growth

The second reason, according to Dr Bawumia, is the fact that the data shows that contrary to all the claims of the NDC, infrastructure spending as a proportion of GDP has declined from an average of 11% between 2001 and 2008, when Ghana had no oil, to 5.7% between 2009 and 2015.

“To explain this point, if a person tells you they have invested GHC 1000 in the education of their children and another tells you they have invested GHC 2000, you cannot conclude that the second person has invested more in his or her children if you do not compare it against the number of children in the family. If the first person has one child and the second has 10 children, then the investment of the person with one child will be higher (i.e. GHC1000 per child compared to GHC200 per child for the second person).

“It is in this context that when we measure the impact of investment, we look at it relative to the GDP of a country. If as a country, your investment in infrastructure relative to GDP is declining, then your growth is likely to decline. This background is very important to understand what is happening in Ghana today,” he said

Overpricing of projects and resort to mediocrity

“The third reason why I say the NDC is attempting to hoodwink Ghanaians with claims of massive infrastructural investments is that most of these projects are over-priced as a result of the single source procurement method, which has become the procurement method of choice for this government, as we saw in the SADA, GYEEDA, KARPOWER, SMARTYS bus branding etc.. I would like to see for example the government explanation from the government quantity surveyors of the costing on the Kumasi airport runway for $23.8 million. However, you and I know that they would not explain because they cannot explain”, Dr. Bawumia noted.

For the fourth point, he stated that since all governments undertake infrastructural products, it is disingenuous for the NDC to claim that as unprecedented, especially when compared to resources accrued, the NDC has done far less investments in infrastructure compared to the NPP government under former President John AgyekumKufuor for example, which had less than ten times the resources the NDC has had in seven years.

“The nation’s road network increased by 18,736 km and 29,970 km during the four (4) and eight (8) years of NPP-led administration respectively. At the end of year 2008, the network size met as at the end of December 2000 had been increased about 80%. In contrast, the NDC government has thus far added only 3,772 km to Ghana’s road network.  This means that the NPP constructed 8 times more roads (km) than the NDC even though they had 10 times more money. Yet when you listen to Government propaganda, they will tell you of the massive road investments they are making. Unfortunately for them the facts completely disprove their attempt to hoodwink Ghanaians.

“Indeed, it was His Excellency President Mahama who told us that any government touting projects as achievements is conducting an exercise in mediocrity, So what has changed? The real fact is that the NDC has no real achievements to point to outside the undertaking of some projects hence their resort to mediocrity”, he said.

So-called massive investments have not translated into job creation & production

“The fifth reason why I say the NDC is attempting to hoodwink Ghanaians with claims of massive infrastructural investments is that infrastructural investment is not supposed to be for its own sake but to increase productivity and production in the economy. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. If you have indeed undertaken massive and unprecedented infrastructural investment, then why is the economy collapsing?  –      Why is the NHIS in trouble?Why is unemployment on the increase? Why are businesses collapsing? Why is agricultural growth stagnant? Why is manufacturing growth negative? Why is the government having difficulty meeting statutory payments?” he queried.

“The facts therefore show that the impact of the NDC infrastructure investments have not translated into increased output, job creation and better living conditions for the people of Ghana”, Dr. Bawumia added.

Ghanaians can relate to a worsening in social services and conditions

The sixth and final reason why the NDC’s claims of projects should be rejected, according to Dr. Bawumia, was the fact that the so called massive investments being claimed by the NDC have not translated into an improvement in social services.

Dr. Bawumia touched on vital areas like Water, Health and Education to explain that despite the huge claims of the NDC, the ordinary Ghanaian cannot relate to an improvement in services and relief.

“The NDC claims to have put in over a billion dollars in the area of water infrastructure. Yet, today many places across the country are seeing the worst shortages of water in decades. So what is the essence of the claims being made by the NDC with respect to investments in water when after seven years, the people are rather seeing worse shortages than they were before these so-called investments?” he asked

Touching on Health, Dr. Bawumia pointed out that despite the claims of huge investments, the reality for many Ghanaians was the fact that the NHIS is failing. He also noted that despite the claims of massive investments, many existing hospitals are crying for basic equipment to deliver health care to the people.

“What Ghanaians can relate to is the many illnesses and drugs which have been taken out of the NHIS care lists, the Capitation policy and the situation where patients seeking to be treated on the basis of possession of the NHIS Card are turned away in favor of patients with money. For many Ghanaians, the sad reality is that the killer Cash and Carry program, which the NPP worked to cancel, has been technically introduced back as a result of the failure of the NHIA.

“Again, despite these huge claims of investment, our Hospitals across the country, keep crying over very essential equipment and facilities. I had this sad reality hit home when a close relative passed away last year as a result of the lack of oxygen at Tamale Teaching Hospital. The recent closure of certain departments in Korle-Bu also re-emphasizes this point”, he noted

Dr. Bawumia cited the recent gory Kintampo accident as another example of how despite the huge claims of investments in Health, the Ghanaian people cannot relate to an improvement in healthcare.

“So again, what is the point in the claims of massive investment in the Health Sector when after seven years and with over 200 billion in Resources, we cannot sustain the Health Insurance Scheme which was functional when Ghana had less than 10 times the resources this government has had; and cannot provide vital logistics for our existing Hospitals and service our Ambulances to save the lives of our countrymen?”, he probed.

Is every investment necessary or prudent?

Ending his dissection of the NDC claims of massive investment, Dr. Bawumia stressed that investments must be assessed critically on the impact it makes to productivity and lives and not just on the basis of numbers that are bandied around.

“It is therefore clear that despite the huge claims of investment, the reality for many Ghanaians is that livelihoods have worsened and social services are not functioning.


Source: citifmonline.com

 

 

“Try me too” – Nana Addo begs settler communities

The flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has appealed to settler communities in the Tano South constituency of the Brong Ahafo Region, to give him a chance to lead the country in this year’s general election.

He says Ghanaians can kick him out if he fails to turn around the fortunes of the country in four years.

Nana Addo made the appeal in an address to Muslim clerics and Chiefs of settler communities in Derma, a community in the Tano South Constituency.

The NPP flagbearer, who was accompanied by national and regional party stalwarts, appealed to the communities to consider him for at least one term and promised them he would not disappoint.

“This year, try me too. Give me the chance to show you what I can do. Four years is not so far away. If I come and I don’t succeed, kick me out. God knows my heart and I can assure you that I won’t disappoint you. Progress and prosperity are what I am offering the people of Ghana.”

He explained that the NPP, traditionally, had not done well electorally in settler communities across the country, largely because of the deliberate tagging of the NPP as an “anti-Northern” party by political opponents.

Thus, the NPP, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, has now decided to aggressively campaign in all settler communities across the country, so as to dispel this false notion, with barely 8 months to the November elections.

“This talk of the NPP being anti-Northerners is simply not true. When you go into the history books, all the leaders of the tradition, from which the NPP emerged from, are Northerners. The tradition we belong to is called the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition. Dombo hailed from the North. Jato Kaleo, Abaayifa Karbo, Yakubu Tali, B.K Adama, Imoro Salifu, C.K. Tedam, were all Northerners who started our party,” he said.

Nana Akufo-Addo told the Chiefs that “this type of anti-NPP sentiments only surfaced during elections,” adding that “when there are no elections, we live in this country peacefully and harmoniously. These are done purely for electoral advantage.”

He therefore urged them to ignore this type of politicking, but rather vote for candidates and political parties whose sole aim in office will be to better the lives of Ghanaians, through the institution of effective policies.

To the people of Derma, who are predominantly cocoa and vegetable farmers, Nana Akufo-Addo urged them to consider the NPP’s track record in the run-up to the November elections.

“When given the choice of NPP and NDC, there is no way that you, as a cocoa farmer, should choose the NDC over the NPP. The NPP is the party that has looked after the welfare of cocoa farmers. It is the NPP, under President Kufuor, that raised cocoa production to levels never witnessed in Ghana’s history. ”

To this end, he urged the electorate to consider the welfare of the nation and of their families, and their conditions of living before casting their ballots on November 7.

“Would you prefer a ‘family member’ who has nothing but suffering for you, or would you prefer a ‘stranger’ who will bring you prosperity? The NPP is the party that will bring prosperity to the people of Ghana… We in the NPP, under my leadership, are going to put the country back on the road to prosperity,” he added.

Nana Akufo-Addo also made brief stops at Techimantia and Dwomo, all in the Tano South constituency, urging the electorate to vote for him as President and Benjamin Yeboah Sekyere, the NPP’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

 

Source: citifmonline.com

US-Based Ghanaian Arrested For Attempting To Smuggle Weapons To Ghana

A Charlotte man is facing federal charges after investigators said he attempted to smuggle weapons and ammunition into West Africa.

Richmond Attah, 30, was charged with one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act, one count of illegal firearms dealing, two counts of smuggling goods from the United States and four counts of making false statements to a firearms dealer, according to federal authorities.

Officials said between September 2013 and December 2015 Attah purchased approximately 63 firearms and 3,500 rounds of ammunition from various stores, Internet vendors and at gun shows. The indictment then states on Sept. 4, 2015, Attah travelled from Charlotte to Ghana.

Attah hid $30,100 in his luggage during his return trip, falsely declaring on customs paperwork that he was bringing $350 back into the United States, according to the charges.

Most recently, between November 2015 and December 2015, the indictment alleges Attah purchased 22 more firearms and ammunition from dealers in North Carolina.

Specifically, the indictment said Attah lied on his application and said the guns were for him when he purchased several of the weapons from Mount Holly Gun and Pawn.

A manager of the store told Channel 9 Attah actually bought the guns online and they simply handled the paperwork. The man added it did seem odd Attah purchased more than one of the same kind of weapon.

The court document goes on to state Attah then hid more than two dozen weapons and another 3,500 rounds of ammunition inside a washing machine and dryer and tried to have them shipped to Ghana. U.S. Customs found the weapons and ammunition before they were shipped out of the United States.

Attah was arrested from his place of employment Thursday, according his father.

Sampson Attah said federal agents came to their home looking for his son early that morning. Channel 9 spoke with him Thursday afternoon following his son’s arrest.

“Look at the door,” said Sampson Attah. “They broke through the house.”

Sampson Attah showed Channel 9 where federal agents broke through the front door of his home. The father said he came home to a slew of federal agents inside his home.

“My breakfast sandwich is still sitting on the table,” Sampson Attah pointed out. “I haven’t been able to eat all day.”

Sampson Attah said he’s shocked by the allegations and firmly denied any knowledge of the alleged gun trafficking scheme.

“If it is true, that he’s been doing this — not in this house,” said Sampson Attah.

Sampson Attah said agents searched his home but didn’t find anything.

“They took my cellphone and laptop. Everything was out and, oh, my God,” said Sampson Attah, shaking his head.

Sampson Attah said he and his family are from Ghana and that Richmond has lived with him here in Charlotte since 2003. When asked he said his son went to Ghana to visit his girlfriend. He said the couple share a child and has another one on the way.

“He’s a good man,” said Sampson Attah, again getting emotional. “He’s my son and I love him. I’m just praying God should intervene.” The father said he’s in the process of getting his son a lawyer. Richmond Attah made his first court appearance Thursday.
 

Source: peacefmonline.com

India caste unrest: Ten million without water in Delhi

More than 10 million people in India's capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.

The army took control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.

Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi's water board, told the BBC it would take "three to four days" before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.

All Delhi's schools have been closed because of the water crisis.

Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.

At the scene: Defiant India protesters stand ground in Haryana

Watch: What future for India's caste system?

Sixteen million people live in Delhi, and around three-fifths of the city's water is supplied by the canal.

Mr Chandra said that prior warnings meant that people had managed to save water, and tankers had been despatched to affected areas of the city, but that this would not be enough to make up for the shortfall.

The army took control of parts of the canal on Monday morning, but repairs are expected to take time.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, who is near Delhi's border with neighbouring Haryana state, said protesters who have set up road blocks are refusing to budge.

"We don't trust them. Let's get something in writing. Let them spell it out," one demonstrator who refused to be named told the BBC.

The damaged canal in Haryana

The Munak canal which was damaged by Jat protesters

Indian people fill up canisters and containers with water from a tanker in New Delhi, India (22 February 2016)

Millions in the Indian capital are without running water

Indian children walk with containers to collect water from the hand pump, a ground water source of water , at the Azadpur area of in north Delhi, India (22 February 2016)

Families are dependent on tankers delivering water supplies

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the army was "trying to assess in how much time water would reach Delhi and whether any damage had been done to the canal".

Protesters went on the rampage despite a curfew and the deployment of the army, which is reported to have opened fire on them in the districts of Rohtak and Jhajjar.

Why are the Jats angry?

  • The land-owning Jat community is relatively affluent and has traditionally been seen as upper caste.
  • They are mainly based in Haryana and seven other states in northern India.
  • Comprising 27% of the voters in Haryana and dominating a third of the 90 state assembly seats, they are a politically influential community. Seven of the 10 chief ministers in Haryana have been Jats.
  • The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but the demonstrators have been demanding inclusion in caste quotas for jobs and education opportunities that have been available to lower castes since 1991.
  • In March 2014 the Congress-led national government said it would re-categorise Jats as Other Backward Castes (OBC), opening the way to government job quotas.
  • But India's Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Jats were not a backward community.
  • As jobs have dried up in the private sector and farming incomes have declined, the community has demanded the reinstatement of their backward caste status to enable them to secure government jobs.

Haryana state minister Ram Bilas Sharma said the situation was returning to normal, traffic had resumed on national highways and that railway lines between Delhi and the cities of Jaipur and Chandigarh had reopened.

Mr Sharma also confirmed that the government would introduce a bill on reservations and quotas for the Jat community in the next assembly session, although he did not say when that would be.

Meanwhile, India's federal government has said it will set up a top-level committee to look into the grievances of Jats.

The violence had earlier forced the closure of several key roads and national highways, and paralysed the railway system in northern India.

Source: bbc.com

Museveni rival Kizza Besigye arrested over protest march

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been taken into police custody after vowing to lead a protest march against President Yoweri Museveni's election victory.

Mr Besigye was bundled into a police van when he tried to leave his home, where he had been under house arrest.

His wife Winnie Byanyima said it was like a "military barracks" outside their home in the capital, Kampala.

Mr Museveni won Thursday's poll by a landslide to extend his 30-year rule.

Mr Besigye said the result had been rigged, while foreign observers said the poll had been marred by fear and intimidation.

In a BBC interview, Mr Museveni rejected allegations of vote rigging, and accused Mr Besigye of planning to incite violence.

Responding to criticism from European Union observers that the electoral commission "lacked independence and transparency", Mr Museveni told the BBC's Zuhura Yunus that "those Europeans are not serious".

"Transparency is what we've been voting for," he added.

Mr Besigye had vowed to march to the headquarters of the Electoral Commission to ask for a copy of the official declaration of results.

Official results gave Mr Museveni nearly 61% of the votes, with Mr Besigye taking 35%.

It was the fourth time Mr Besigye, candidate for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, had lost to Mr Museveni.

The two men were once allies, with Mr Besigye serving as Mr Museveni's personal doctor when they were guerrilla fighters.

Mr Museveni, a key ally of the West in the campaign against militant Islamists in the region, seized power in 1986 and is credited with restoring stability to Uganda.

However, critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

On Friday, the US said Mr Museveni should "rein in" his security forces after they briefly arrested Mr Besigye, and fired tear gas to disperse his supporters in Kampala.

Source: bbc.com

CARTOON COMEDY FROM GHANA - Enam's Search

The Icandy Factory set to release a new animated cartoon entitled "Enam's Search" which evolves around a character that keeps looking for why he was sent on earth.

He keeps looking without refrain for his purpose but always gets arrested in a way or another by his arch enemy called : COTI

This series has 10 episodes per season and will start showing on youtube from Wednesday 24th February

Be sure to not miss any episode as it really gets catchy and funny at the same time.

Source: Xplusx Ghana
 

Messi puts Barca ahead in game one

Lionel Messi effectively condemned Arsenal to a sixth successive exit at the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two decisive goals at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal battled gallantly to give themselves a chance going into the second leg at the Nou Camp in three weeks' time - but suffered at the hands of Barcelona's superstar trio Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud had come close to giving Arsenal the lead, Messi scored his first goal against keeper Petr Cech at the seventh attempt when he crowned a blistering a counter-attack involving Suarez and Neymar to sweep home a finish after 71 minutes.

And further damage was inflicted seven minutes from time when Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini floored Messi with a mistimed challenge and he got up to send Cech the wrong way from the spot. It was his eighth goal against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Suarez hit the post and Cech saved from Neymar as Barcelona took control - but this tie already looks well out of Arsenal's reach.

Watch Phil McNulty's post-match Facebook Q&A here

Listen to highlights of the match on BBC Radio 5 live

Listen to Wenger's reaction to the game

All over for Arsenal

Arsenal went out to Barcelona in 2010 and 2011 and that was after a draw and a win at Emirates Stadium - so their chances can be all but written off after this defeat.

The Gunners had their chances but they came to nothing, with Oxlade-Chamberlain a culprit when he allowed Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save from a huge opportunity before Giroud saw a second-half header well saved.

Such is the ruthlessness of this Barcelona side that even half-chances (or less) have to be accepted and, if they are not, there is almost an inevitability about the outcome.

Wenger can make the usual optimistic noises about the second leg in the Nou Camp but it would be the greatest result of his reign if he managed to inspire a turnaround from this position.

It is, perhaps, on nights like these that those calls for Wenger to sign a world-class striker carry greater resonance because even the smallest opportunities have to count and Arsenal were unable to do so.

Unstoppable MSN

The big fear before the game was that Arsenal would be unable to keep Barca's big three quiet for 90 minutes no matter how hard they tried - and so it proved.

Strange as it may seem, this was not Messi, Neymar and Suarez at their very best but they still cast a huge shadow over Arsenal and created havoc.

Suarez had two missed opportunities at the end of the first half, Cech made two magnificent saves from Neymar and Messi contributed to the two decisive goals. This on a night when even the three themselves will admit they have played much better.

All three carry a touch of genius while offering contrasting qualities. Neymar's change of pace was startling, Suarez is like a shark as he makes his way around defences spreading chaos while Messi remains peerless.

Any team hoping to take the Champions League crown from Barcelona will have to work out how to stop the great Barcelona trinity - easier said than done.

Arsenal deserve credit

Arsenal and manager Wenger will be desolate after this result effectively consigns them to yet another last 16 exit - but they deserve a measure of credit for their display.

In the first half they were hugely disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay, indeed in the first 30 minutes the holders only had two touches in Arsenal's penalty area compared to 11 from Wenger's team.

Goalkeeper Cech was immense while Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey were also excellent.

Ultimately, however, Arsenal were not good enough - no shame in that - but all that is left is for Barcelona to complete the formalities in Catalonia in three weeks.

Manager reaction

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on BT Sport: "Barcelona are a great team. We put a lot of energy in the game and technically we were very average.

"The regret I had was once we looked like we dominated the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating. When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.

"Realistically it is very, very difficult, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. We had the chances, we didn't score."

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique: "I am happy with everything. There was nothing that I didn't like. Nothing.

"The result is really good, but the tie is not over. We will have to go out to win."

'Arsenal lacked quality in final third'

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live: "I felt the Arsenal players gave a good account of themselves in parts of the game but this Barcelona side have got too much class.

"Arsenal will be thinking what could have been. They didn't capitalise on the opportunities they had. They didn't seem to have enough when Barcelona ramped it up.

"I was really happy with Arsenal's tactics for once but I don't think they had the quality in the final third."

The stats you need to know

  • Lionel Messi ended a run of 10 hours and 11 minutes without a goal against Petr Cech (seventh game against him).
  • Messi now has eight Champions League goals versus Arsenal - only against and AC Milan (eight) has he scored as often.
  • There were just 47 seconds between Mathieu Flamini coming on to the pitch and him giving away a penalty.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in 33 competitive games - their best ever run in all competitions. The record for a Spanish team is for Real Madrid with 34 games in a row without defeat back in 1987-88.
  • Arsenal failed to score for the first time in 14 Champions League matches.

What next?

Arsenal will have to raise themselves quickly after this defeat as they get back to their Premier League title chase with a game at Manchester United on Sunday, 28 February (14:05 GMT). Spanish league leaders Barcelona host Sevilla in La Liga on the same day.

Source: bbc.com

 

Juventus fightback denies Bayern

Juventus produced a remarkable second-half fightback against Bayern Munich to give themselves hope going into the Champions League last 16 second leg.

The Bundesliga leaders overwhelmed their Serie A counterparts in the first half, and took the lead when Thomas Muller slotted in before Arjen Robben curled in the second.

Juve pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Paulo Dybala tucked home.

The comeback was complete when Stefano Sturaro poked in from close range.

Juve's first-half humbling

At half-time, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri must have thought "let's keep this respectable".

His team were pummelled in the first half. The graphic shows that they were camped in their own half by wave after wave of Bayern attacks.

Juve went into the match having conceded only once in the 11 matches they had played since the start of 2016 - however, they had yet to play a team of Bayern's potency.

Arturo Vidal and Juan Bernat tested veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Muller went close, before they took the lead. It came when defender Andrea Barzagli's clearance from Douglas Costa's volleyed cross fell at the feet of Muller, who did the rest from 10 yards,

Bayern went again and this time it was a three-man break. Striker Robert Lewandowski appeared to send Robben too far wide with his pass into the area, but the Dutchman - in customary style - cut in and feigned to shoot before sending his effort past the reach of Buffon.

The Old Lady finds her teeth

Even the most adventurous punter would have hesitated putting money on Juve to turn this around.

The key to the change in fortunes were the substitutions. Hernanes, Sturaro and Alvaro Morata provided more energy to the attack, as Allegri experimented with his tactics.

There was a bit of luck with the first as Joshua Kimmich lost the ball 25 yards from goal. This allowed Mario Mandzukic to play in Dybala, who converted with a composed finish.

The Bayern defence was breached again when Morata's headed pass into the six-yard area was slammed in by fellow substitute Sturaro.

Bayern are still favourites to go through because of their two away goals, but Juve's second-half display makes this next match an intriguing prospect.

Manager reaction

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola: "Juventus made it to last year's final, not us. We're not dealing with a team from the provinces.

"I'm really happy with how we played. It's one of the matches from my career that I want to remember the most.

"You cannot really expect that your opponent will not get a single chance. That's football. Sometimes you can't look at just the result. We played with character."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri: "In the first half they pushed us hard in our own half and we just couldn't settle. We started making a lot of mistakes with our passes and didn't use the space well, but let's not forget we were playing Bayern.

"After the interval we played a lot better.

"We might have even snatched the win at the end, but we will need to make sure there's no repeat of our first half when we go to Munich."

Source: bbc.com

 

 

Paulo Dybala

 

STATEMENT: Gov't Hits Back Dr Bawumia....

Government has strongly refuted claims Dr Mahamadu Bawumia that it has wasted and cannot account for most of the loans it has contracted.

In a statement signed by Communications Minister, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, in response to calls by the running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo that Ghanaians must reject the NDC’s attempt to hoodwink the public on claims of massive investments in projects as the reality points to the contrary, governent accused the economic guru of deliberately discrediting the achievements of the current administration for “partisan gains”.

It is instructive that after years of living in denial that these projects exist, he has finally acknowledged their existence, except that he wants to tread down the path of discrediting them for partisan gain.

“Dr Bawumia’s latest untruth is only a last effort to create doubt about the unprecedented investment made in all sphere of our national life by President John Mahama’s government,” the statement said.


Read government's response to Dr Bawumia's claims below


GOVERNMENT SETS THE RECORDS STRAIGHT ON DR BAWUMIA’S FALSE AND OR MISLEADING CLAIMS

Government has noted a number of false and or misleading claims attributed to Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, the third time running mate to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer.

At a party event in Wa, Dr Bawumia among other falsehoods claimed that;

1. The NDC government had borrowed US$ 37 billion out of which it accounts for only US$ 7 billion

2. That there are six reasons why Ghanaians should reject what is contained in the “Accounting to the People” book.

We are constrained to respond as follows;

1. It is instructive that after years of living in denial that these projects exist, he has finally acknowledged their existence except that he wants to tread down the path of discrediting them for partisan gain.

Dr. Bawumia’s latest untruths is only a last-gasp effort to create doubts about the unprecedented investments made in all spheres of our national life by President John Dramani Mahama’s Government. It is borne out of a morbid fear that the overwhelming evidence provided in the 210-page book, shatters the many unsustainable falsehoods churned out by him, the NPP and their allies about the performance of President Mahama.

On the specific claim, without source, that this government has borrowed US$37 billion since 2009, we wish to put on record that this is false and a desperate attempt to find basis for the flawed conclusions he churned out at the event.

At paragraph 127 on page 36 of the 2016 Budget presented to Parliament in November,2015, the Minister for Finance clearly indicated that our total National Debt stood at GH¢92,161.84 million or US$24,285.07. This was made up of GH¢54,488.26 million (US$14,357.91million) for external debt and GH¢37,673.58 million ($9,927.16 million) for domestic debt.

This represents our entire national debt since independence and includes US$8.1 billion bequeathed President Atta Mills’ Government by Dr Bawumia’s NPP in January 2009.

Given that his claims on our debt which forms the basis of his accusations are false, it stands to reason that his weak inferences with regards to how much has been spent on the projects highlighted in the book “Accounting to the People” are problematic and unacademic. In deed Dr Bawumia cannot feign ignorance of the use to which loans contracted are put. Every external loan contracted by Government is subject to Parliamentary approval and the use to which it is put is clearly stated in the documents presented to Parliament. By constantly pretending not to know this, Dr Bawumia is casting aspersions on the competence and diligence of his NPP MPs who help to approve these loans.

2. Regarding his claim that his phantom total loan amount could have been supposedly used for six things he itemised, we wish to state as follows:

a. Claim 1: The money could have been used to develop the Rail network from Accra to Paga and Transformed many parts of our country by this Investment.

Response: A review of the NPP’s 2000 and 2004 manifestos reveals the basis for this claim.

The NPP promised at page 15 of their 2000 manifesto to ensure a “Modernization and extension of railway network and Connection to the Northern Regions”.

At page 25 of their 2004 manifesto, the NPP also promised to ensure “Preparatory work towards the expansion project to link Ghana by rail to its northern neighbours of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.”

The records show that Dr Bawumia and his NPP failed spectacularly to fulfil their promise. The records also show that the railway sector collapsed under the NPP and in some instances they sold existing rail tracks as scrap.

We entreat Dr Bawumia to peruse pages 94, 95 and 98 of “Accounting to the People” where irrefutable proof our superior performance in the Railway sector has been provided.

b) Claim 2: The money could have solved the water problems in Ghana.

Response: Once again, Dr Bawumia inadvertently sets his party up for mockery. The NPP holds the most abysmal record in the provision of water by any government in this fourth Republic. In all their 8 years in office, they increased water coverage by a paltry 2%.

We invite him again to turn to pages 58 to 65 to learn about the unmatched record of President Mahama with regards to the provision of water. The facts as presented in the book show that since the NDC came to office, water coverage has increased from 58.5% in 2009 to 76% in 2015.This is set to increase to 85% by close of this year when an additional 20 water projects are completed around the country. In absolute terms we have provided 77.5 million gallons of water per(MGD) day for 4.2 million Ghanaians as of the end of 2015. By the end of 2016 this will increase to 110million (MGD) for a total of 7 million Ghanaians. In all 52 years preceding the NDC in 2009, available water capacity could only serve 14 million people.

c) Claim 3: Solve the energy problem

Response: Between pages 69 and 78 in “Accounting to the People”, incontrovertible proof is provided on work done to increase our generation capacity which has not only ended load shedding but, made available for the first time in our history reserve capacity to take care of eventualities.

d) Claim 4: Put in place at least 1000 kilometres of asphalted roads in each region. There will be no major road problem left in any region after this.

Response: Pages 100 to 111 of the book provides pictorial proof of massive first-class road investments across the country. A regional breakdown is also provided for some of the road projects being undertaken in the country. Unlike Dr Bawumia’s dubious claims of expanding the road network by 8 times of what we have done, we have provided proof. We challenge him to list all, and we mean all, these roads and show where they are.

e) Claim 5: Put in place one world class hospital in each region.

Response: Dr Bawumia’s NPP also has the worst record in the provision of health infrastructure. The NPP has the dubious distinction of being the only party that failed to build a single Regional hospital in all 8 years of their tenure under the fourth republic. The President Rawlings Government built the Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani Regional Hospitals. President Mahama is currently providing world-class Regional hospitals at Ridge in Accra, Sewua in Kumasi, Bolgatanga in the Upper East and Wa in the Upper West Region. In addition to this he is providing two world-class teaching hospitals and 15 District Hospitals. He has already provided 5 polyclinics with another 15 about to start, over forty health centres and hundreds of CHPS compounds. Together these hospitals will deliver over 6,000 additional beds representing the biggest investment ever by any Government in health infrastructure in Ghana’s history.

It is also a fact that every Region in Ghana has benefitted or is benefiting from the provision of a world-class hospital equipment under President Mahama. Regarding the provision of equipment, President John Mahama also holds the record for best performance. In the last four years, US$ 267 million has been invested in the provision of critical diagnostic and treatment equipment for over 150 health facilities nation-wide. This also represents the biggest ever investment in health equipment by any Government. Unshakable evidence of these and facts on the robust performance of the NHIS are set out from page 22 to 39 of “Accounting to the People”.

f) Claim 6: These investments have not translated into improved services for the people.

Response: It is obvious from this claim that Dr Bawumia and the NPP are not in tune with developments in our communities. The tens of thousands of school children who now sit in comfortable classrooms after almost half of the 4,321 schools under trees the NPP bequeathed know otherwise. The millions of Ghanaians in whose taps water had not flowed for decades but who now enjoy supply of treated water know better and cannot be deceived. The many Ghanaians who can now receive quality health diagnostic care know better.

Indeed, we urge Dr Bawumia to check page 25 of “Accounting to the People” for evidence of massive improvements in critical human development and health indicators as culled from the Ghana Health and Demographic Survey of 2014. It shows that Infant, Child and under-five mortalities which were alarmingly high under the NPP have reduced significantly under President Mahama.

3. Contrary to Dr Bawumia’s claims, capital expenditures as a ratio of GDP averaged 5.6% from 2001 to 2008 and not 11% as claimed by Dr Bawumia. It is currently within the same band. The resort to “Capex/GDP” ratios is only an attempt to mask his party’s horrendously appalling record with regards to the delivery of critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, water, housing, roads, communications, energy among others.

Dr Bawumia is fully aware that a thorough analysis of the actual amounts pumped into these projects vis-à-vis the outcomes will expose the staggering mediocrity exhibited by his party when in Government between 2001 and 2008.

4. On Job creation, Dr Bawumia is encouraged to read pages 137 and 138 of “Accounting to the People” where evidence of job creation arising from several interventions is given. We wish to assure that Government will continue to do more to ensure that more jobs are created for our youth. It would be recalled however that the NPP is bereft of a sustainable track record when it comes to job creation save for the ignominious tag of deceiving Ghanaians at page 5 of their 2000 manifesto that they will “Create jobs for all persons able and willing to work and to reward each of them appropriately”.

Let Dr Bawumia disprove this horrible deception by pointing us to which jobs they created for ALL Ghanaians.

5. Dr Bawumia also repeated the discredited mantra of “inflated cost” of projects as means of chipping away at their positive impact on the lives of our people. In doing so he has placed himself firmly in the ranks of the Political Quantity Surveyors whose modus operandi is to claim without basis, logic or fact that the cost of every project is inflated. This is done for the sole purpose of undermining the projects in question for political gain. But the Danquah-Busiah tradition will no longer be allowed to undermine the interest of Ghanaians for their parochial gains- not anymore!

No amount of falsehoods however will distract Government from investing further in all sectors of the economy to enhance the wellbeing of Ghanaians.

Finally, the public is respectfully encouraged to download copies of the book, “Accounting to the People” from www.moc.gov.gh,www.ghana.gov.gh,www.presidency.gov.gh and www.greenbookghana.com

This will further shred Dr Bawumia and the NPP’S campaign of deceit which has failed on two occasions and will fail again because the people of Ghana cannot be neutral between truth and deceit.


Edward K. Omane Boamah (Dr)
(Communications Minister)

Source: Peacefmonline.com

Ghana's elections now first Monday in November

This year's crucial presidential and parliamentary elections and subsequent ones will now be held on the first Monday in November every four years if the constitution is duly amended.

The change in the traditional December 7 date, to the first Monday in November is to smoothen the transition process from one elected government to another, even if it is the same party that wins an election.

Given the December 7 date, it will take barely a month for a newly elected president to be sworn into office, something political pundits have raised issues about.

After three rounds of elections in 2008, including the crucial Tain Constituency run off, outgoing president John Kufuor had barely a week to hand over power to the late president John Mills.

A process to amend Article 112 clause 4 which sets out the procedure for the presidential elections is already underway to change the December 7 date.

On Wednesday, an elections committee made up of the Electoral Commission, Representatives from the Attorney General and the Legal and Constitutional Committee of Parliament agreed to the first Monday in November arrangement but must go through a number of processes to make it the law.

The Attorney General and government will make their input after which the instrument will then be laid in Parliament to mature.

Speaking to Joy News on the matter, the  Vice Chairman of the Legal and Constitutional Committee of Parliament, George Loh dismissed media reports that November 7 has been confirmed as the new date for future elections.

On the contrary, he said the committee settled on the first Monday in November as the most convenient day for  elections.

Why Mondays and not weekends?

George Loh explained that weekends were deemed as inappropriate because a lot of people will be going for funerals and weddings for which reason Mondays were adopted.

"Mondays are the best option," he said. He could not however say the length of time it will take for the processes to be concluded for the November date to be adopted as the new election date.

Meanwhile the Director of Communications of the NPP Nana Akomea says he would rather the Elections Committee had chosen a Saturday instead of a Monday.

One would have thought a weekend which are "natural holidays" would have been considered, he said.


Source: myjoyonline.com

Sepp Blatter & Michel Platini lose Fifa appeals but bans reduced

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter and suspended Uefa boss Michel Platini have had bans from all football-related activities upheld.

But the suspensions have been reduced from eight to six years by Fifa's appeals committee.

Both were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) "disloyal payment" to Platini.

They both deny any wrongdoing and have said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter and Platini said the payment honoured a verbal or gentleman's agreement made in 1998 for work carried out by the Frenchman when he was a technical advisor for Blatter.

Blatter, 79, added in a statement that he was "very disappointed by the appeal committee of Fifa".

Platini, 60, said it was "insulting and shameful" and a "political decision".

The committee said "activities and services rendered to Fifa, Uefa and football" was a mitigating factor.

Fifa's presidential election is due to take place on Friday to find Swiss Blatter's replacement.

Fifa boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting after reports emerged he was under investigation in the United States.

Platini had been tipped as a future leader of football's world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007.

In a statement released after the announcement, Platini said the accusations were without foundation and completely made up "beyond reality".

He said the communication of the decision was done with "an unbearable arrogance" and that Friday's congress would be remembered in history with the "mark of illegitimacy".

"I am the victim of a system which has only had one goal - to stop me standing for the president of Fifa," Platini added.

The decision not to overturn the suspensions follows a 12-year ban imposed on Jerome Valcke, who was sacked as secretary general of world football's governing body last month.

Valcke, the man responsible for running Fifa's day-to-day administration, was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

He also denies wrongdoing.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007.

In a statement released after the announcement, Platini said the accusations were without foundation and completely made up "beyond reality".

He said the communication of the decision was done with "an unbearable arrogance" and that Friday's congress would be remembered in history with the "mark of illegitimacy".

"I am the victim of a system which has only had one goal - to stop me standing for the president of Fifa," Platini added.

The decision not to overturn the suspensions follows a 12-year ban imposed on Jerome Valcke, who was sacked as secretary general of world football's governing body last month.

Valcke, the man responsible for running Fifa's day-to-day administration, was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

He also denies wrongdoing.

Source: bbc.com

City win in Kiev

A full-strength Manchester City took command of their Champions League last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev with an impressive first-leg win in Ukraine.

City dominated the first half and Sergio Aguero slotted in an opener before a slick move let David Silva side-foot in a second.

Vitaliy Buyalsky pulled one back with a deflected shot before he had another effort superbly saved by Joe Hart.

Yaya Toure curled in a superb shot late on to restore City's two-goal lead.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini fielded a weakened side in the FA Cup defeat by Chelsea on Sunday.

But the City boss made 10 changes as he restored his side's stars to the starting line-up on Wednesday and they put the club within reach of the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Follow reaction to tonight's Champions League games here.

City show return to form

City went into the game with just one win in the four matches since it was announced Pep Guardiola would be replacing Pellegrini in the summer.

Pellegrini's selection in the FA Cup also put his side under increased pressure as he clearly prioritised the club's Champions League campaign.

However, he was rewarded with a first-half display which saw his side constantly winning the ball high up the pitch and overwhelming their hosts.

Aguero put the visitors ahead and sent two further efforts wide. He also had another shot parried away by 41-year-old keeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy.

City had to withstand some pressure as the home side regrouped and improved after the break and, despite conceding a goal, Toure's finish put them in control.

"The performance was good, with a lot of high pressing, 3-1 is a good result and we are happy with it," said City captain Vincent Kompany.

"We are going into the second leg with a fairly good chance to go through, which has not been the case before. We looked like a team that was hungry for success."

The Silva & Kompany effect

Pellegrini usually plays Silva on the right wing but moved the Spanish playmaker in a central role behind striker Aguero for this game, and the move paid off handsomely.

Fernandinho was played on the right wing, with Toure dropping back to form a two-man midfield with Fernando to allow Silva to showcase the threat he poses.

Silva's movement and passing proved a constant menace in the first half, while centre-back Kompany had to come to the fore after the break.

Kompany, who was playing only his second game since returning from seven weeks out with a calf injury, gave his side a more assured look at the back when they had to deal with a more threatening home side in the second half.

Kiev off the pace

Dynamo Kiev had not played a competitive game since a Champions League group-stage win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on 9 December because of Ukrainian football's winter break - and it showed.

They lacked rhythm and looked off the pace as they struggled to deal with the intensity of City's pressing game in the first half as their star player Andriy Yarmolenko struggled to make an impact.

Yarmolenko, who had been a doubt with a knee injury, became more of a threat for a brief spell as the home side pulled one back but they could not maintain their pressure.

Dynamo did nearly equalise but Hart brilliantly kept out Buyalsky's effort and the save proved crucial as City went on to restore their two-goal advantage.

Manager reaction

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini speaking to BT Sport: "I'm very happy because it is a very good result.

"It is not finished but playing away and having a two-goal lead is very good. The team played well and had lots of chances. Maybe when it was 2-1 we had moments of doubt, but then we got the third goal.

"Is the tie settled? No, it is important in football to never think it is finished. But to have that third goal gives us more confidence for the second leg."

Dynamo Kiev boss Sergei Rebrov speaking to BT Sport: "The winter break didn't affect us, the fact is we played one of the best teams in Europe. The players were a little nervous, it was their first time in the last 16 and they felt that. When Man City scored we lost confidence.

"When we scored I hoped we could get back into it. We had chances but couldn't score."

Pundit analysis

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson: "Man City were very, very good - there was a little spell at the start of the second half when Kiev came at them, but in the end City might feel they could probably have won by another goal or so.

"City won this game comfortably. Yes, Kiev had 11 weeks off but that was not City's problem."

The stats you need to know

  • Manchester City are the first English team to win an away Champions League game against Ukrainian opposition since Manchester United versus Dynamo Kiev in October 2007.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 16 goals in his past 17 Champions League starts.
  • None of Manchester City's 35 Champions League games have ended goalless. They've kept just four clean sheets in 35 CL games.
  • Raheem Sterling has had a hand in five goals in his past four Champions League games (three goals, two assists).
  • David Silva scored in consecutive Champions League appearances for the first time.

What next?

Manchester City have a trip to Wembley to face Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, 28 February, with the game kicking off at 16:30 GMT. Dynamo Kiev restart their league challenge with a home game against Dnipro in the first of two domestic games before the return leg at City on 15 March.

Source: bbc.com

First Citizens Complaint Centre established in Accra – Mahama

President John Mahama has announced the setting up of the first of series of Citizens complaint centres in Accra.

According to him, the centre is located in room 209 of the second floor of the Public Services Commission building in the ministries area.

President John Mahama who made the disclosure while presenting the State of the Nation address in Parliament Thursday said reports by this Centre is expected to help to promote the fight against corruption, as well as improve service delivery in the public sector.

He noted that the centre apart from walk-ins also receives and processes voice complaints using hot-lines and via its website www.ghanacitizens.org.

“The Citizens Complaint Unit will collate data and will produce quarterly reports based on the type, nature and source of the complaints received. This report will also include recommended actions, resolution of complaints as well as trend analysis”.

President Mahama added that if this centre proves successful, it will be replicated in all the regional capitals across the country, with the various district assemblies being encouraged to establish their own units in the district capitals.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

We have overcome dumsor but … – Prez Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has cautioned that although the erratic power supply, known in the local language as ‘dumsor’ has improved tremendously over the last two months, a lot more work needed to be done to ensure stability.

He said about 800MW has within the last few months been added onto the national grid from power generating firms such as KTPP (220MW), TICO (110MW), Karpower (220MW), and AMERI (250MW).

However, he said additional power generation onto the national grid will ensure that the country meets the ever growing annual demand of about 12% ad ensure that it does not experience prolong power rationing again.

“Mr. Speaker, I pledged to Ghanaians that I will continue to work to ensure that we never find ourselves in such a dreadful situation ever again. To end up never being there again, we must add even more generation to keep ahead of a robust growth of almost 12% increase in demand every year”.

“A lot of work still needs to be done to give us the comfort of sustainable generation going forward”, he said.

A huge deficit in power generation resulted in prolonged power rationing in the history of the former British Colony.

For four years, businesses had spent huge amount of money in procuring generators and fuel to power their firms.

Many businesses that couldn’t cope with the situation had to fold up with a lot more cutting down employment to make ends meet.

President John Dramani Mahama delivering the State of the Nation Address, Thursday, said those were trying time and expressed the hope that the country does not go through such experience again.

“This was a time of considerable national anxiety. A huge deficit in power generation had resulted in prolonged power rationing. I was painfully aware of the difficulties this situation was posing to Ghanaians”.

“Ghanaians had to put out with long hours of darkness or spend huge sums of money on generators. Businesses face serious disruption or cost went up because of the generation”.

“I took full responsibility as President and Commander in Chief on this nation. It has never been easy. It has been a year of hard work that has made us achieve the fastest mobilization of emergency power in the history of Ghana”.

But going forward, he said a lot more measures needed to be put in place to ensure that there is sustainable energy for all.

He said a planned a power-base on MoU and Power Purchase Agreement that the country has signed unto projects that an additional power generation of about 3,500 MW “can be achieved by the year 2020”.

“If we do this, this will ensure Ghana’s power security and will position Ghana as the power hub of West Africa”

“In this term and my next term, I intend to work hard to achieve this objective. Additional power into the national grid will aim at diversifying fuel sources – from gas to crude oil, LPG and LNG. Additionally, there will be an injection of renewable energy”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

I hold no grudge against Akufo Addo – Nii Noi Nortey

The stripped winner of the New Patriotic Party(NPP) Klottey Korle elections held August 2 2015, Nii Noi Nortey has dismissed reports that he has problems with the party’s Flagbearer Nana Akufo Addo.

According to him, his detractors who are bent on scuttling his chances in the upcoming election re-run are responsible for the propagation of such false claims.

There have been reports that Nana Akufo Addo, whose lawyer and friend Philip Addison was defeated by Nii Noi Nortey in the constituency primary, once traveled with Nii Noi Nortey but refused to mention his name when doing the introduction.

Some political watchers held the view that Nana Akufo Addo’s move went to confirm his dislike for Nii Noi Nortey.

However speaking to Kweku Owusu Adjei on Si Me So on Kasapa 102.3 FM, Nii Noi Nortey explained that Nana Addo during the said incident acknowledged all present, except that he as the leader of the NPP couldn’t have taken sides at the time because there was still dispute about the elections.

“When we went to Tema, Nana Addo mentioned the names of us all the three contestants, and asked us to try and solve the problems concerning the election and the tension in the constituency. I have worked with Nana Addo before as the constituency chairman and I know he’ll not hold anything against me”.

The party is holding a rerun of the election on Saturday 27 February after the earlier one held in 2015 which was won by Nii Noi Nortey had its results challenged in court.

Nii Noi Nortey expressed confidence of winning the elections to deliver the Klottey Korle seat for the NPP come the November Parliamentary elections.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

I have stopped financing NPP – Paul Afoko

The suspended National Chairman of the NPP, Paul Afoko says he will not contribute to the funding of the party’s campaign activities in the upcoming November general elections.

According to him, he is returning vehicles he has already purchased for the party’s campaigns activities because the NPP has unfairly treated him.

As has been the tradition, the various political parties marshal resources to fund their campaign activities during elections from several sources including their own wealthy members.

Mr Afoko, an astute businessman who is known to have funded the party in previous elections was expected to be as generous to the party as he has over the years been, but the embattled former Chairman says he is not going to make such favours anymore.

He was last year suspended indefinitely by the National Executive Council of the party based on recommendation from the NPP’s disciplinary committee for acts of misconduct.

However speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat on Starr FM, Paul Afoko stated that the pickup vehicles he purchased was part of his plan for a solid campaign activities for 2016 elections but that plan could only materialize if he was fully at post as the Chairman of the party.

“I’m not buying anymore cars. It was all part of a plan; you just don’t throw money at things… you plan. The plan included tooling the party up and if that plan is thrown out of sync or out of gear then…. . Some of them have already been branded in party colours, I’m not saying I will debrand the vehicles; the jury is out and going forward we’ll see what will happen. I have halted the process of ordering for more.”

Source: kasapafmonline.com

Adams Mahama’s murder: Some NPP members will soon be tried – Afoko reveals

The suspended National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Paul Afoko has revealed that some members of the NPP will soon be hauled before court to be tried over their involvement in the killing of the Upper East Regional Chairman, Adams Mahama.

According to him, he has empirical evidence that some party members, who have not yet been fingered in the ongoing trial, were rather behind the murder of the former hardworking chairman.

Mr Afoko’s brother Gregory Afoko has been standing trial for close to one year, after police suspected him to be the main suspect of the acid bath on the late Adams Mahama, who died from severe bodily burns after the unfortunate incident.

The state claims it has enough evidence and has established Gregory Afoko’s complicity in the murder case which came as a big blow to the party’s Upper East Regional branch.

However speaking to Bola Ray on Starr Chat on Starr FM, Mr Paul Afoko stated that his brother is innocent of the crime he’s alleged to have committed, adding that the real truth in the case will be out soon.

“I’m happy that finally the Attorney General’s Department after keeping my brother in custody for close to one year has finally gotten their acts together and say they are now ready for the trial because they have evidence. There are things that will come out at the trial and I have evidence which I have handed to the police. Some members of my party should be prepared, they will enter the dock …I didn’t force them to write letters to me as the National Chairman six months before Adams died, making certain allegations. As I speak they know themselves…we are ready for the trial”.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

Rashford stars as Man U hit five

Teenager Marcus Rashford scored twice on his debut as Manchester United came from behind to thrash FC Midtjylland and reach the Europa League last 16.

The Danish champions led 2-1 from the first leg and Pione Sisto increased their advantage.

Nikolay Bodurov's own goal reduced the deficit before Rashford, who only started after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up, struck twice.

Ander Herrera's penalty and Memphis Depay's late goal completed the rout.

Juan Mata missed a penalty at 1-1, while Midtjylland finished with 10 men after Andre Romer was sent off for a second yellow card.

Relive all the drama from Old Trafford

Rashford to the rescue

While the scoreline was emphatic in the end, United were looking at an embarrassing exit before Rashford netted twice in the space of 12 second half minutes in front of the Stretford End.

Manchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa LeagueManchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa LeagueManchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa League

The 18-year-old, named as a substitute on the team sheet, was only elevated to the starting line-up after Martial damaged his hamstring in the warm-up.

Manchester-born Rashford showed confidence beyond his tender years from the start, but Sisto's tidy finish left Louis van Gaal staring at an embarrassing exit at the hands of a team formed in 1999.

Bodurov lifted the mood inside Old Trafford when he sliced Memphis' cutback into his own net before Mata's spot-kick was saved by Mikkel Andersen after Ander Herrera was clipped by Kian Hansen.

Like this? Read these...
Who is Marcus Rashford? Two key people from his development explain
Liverpool 1-0 Augsburg
Tottenham 3-0 Fiorentina

The exciting Rashford put United ahead when he tucked home from seven yards in front of the Stretford End before repeating the trick with a half-volley to make it 3-1.

Herrera added his side's fourth from the penalty spot after Hansen handled before Depay's thumping effort completed the scoring.

How's your luck

It looked like another sorry chapter in United's season of under-achievement even before a ball had been kicked.

Defender Chris Smalling was ruled out earlier on Thursday with a shoulder problem, paving the way for 19-year-old Joe Riley, a substitute in United's FA Cup win at Shrewsbury three days earlier, to make his first senior start.

Martial's injury paved the way for Rashford's debut, but after recovering from falling behind on the night, United scored four times inside the final half hour to pull away.

Analysis: BBC Sport's Simon Stone at Old Trafford:
"Manchester United are fond of talking about their 'great' European nights. The last came against Olympiakos under David Moyes two years ago when United overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to win 3-2.
"This result will be added to the list. Any doubts - and there remain plenty - amongst the United fans about manager Louis van Gaal were set aside for the good of the team.
"They stuck with them when their team went a goal down - and again when Juan Mata missed his penalty. Slight murmurings were beginning with Marcus Rashford took centre stage, and after that the decibel levels went right up.
"So young is Rashford - a product of the same Fletcher Moss club where Wes Brown and Danny Welbeck cut their teeth - he has become United's youngest goalscorer in Europe."

They could even afford to end the match with another teenage debutant on the pitch in the shape of 17-year-old Regan Poole.

Embattled manager Louis van Gaal managed a smile at the end after his side scored five in a match for the first time under his control in front of a 58,609 crowd.

United could face Gary Neville in the last 16

The draw for the last-16 stage takes place on Friday and there is a chance United could be paired with a friendly face - as well as a bitter rival.

Liverpool and Tottenham are also through and, with no country protection, teams from the same league can be drawn against one another.

Valencia, managed by former United defender Gary Neville, are also through after a 10-0 aggregate win over Rapid Vienna.

The stats you need to know

  • United have scored five goals in a European game at Old Trafford for the first time since April 2007
  • Midtjylland scored with their first shot of the match
  • United are unbeaten in 10 European home games
  • The Danish champions have lost their last three European away games, conceding 11 in the process

Next up?

United have just two full days to recover before they entertain Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday (14:05 GMT). The Gunners are seeking to do the double over Van Gaal's side having defeated the Red Devils 3-0 at the Emirates on 4 October.

Marcus Rashford tweetSource: bbc.com

Liverpool edge past Augsburg in Europa League

Liverpool warmed up for the Capital One Cup final on Sunday by reaching the last 16 of the Europa League with a tense win over Augsburg at Anfield.

Following a goalless first leg, James Milner scored a penalty after Dominik Kohr's handball to put the Reds ahead.

Liverpool failed to take their chances and a Lucas Leiva back-pass released Augsburg's Caiuby but he shot wide.

An away goal would have put the Germans through and Reds keeper Simon Mignolet had to save from Tobias Werner late on.

Liverpool ended up hanging on as they made it into Friday's draw in which there are no seedings or restrictions on facing teams from your own country.

Follow Thursday's Europa League action here

Liverpool lack cutting edge

The Reds would have wanted to put this tie to bed as quickly as possible with the Wembley showpiece against Manchester City on Sunday and they were aided by the early penalty.

Liverpool pressed high up the pitch and played some stylish football but, with six goals in seven previous Europa League outings this season, they again struggled in front of goal and failed to turn their superiority into a bigger lead.

Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho had a promising chance when he was set up by the impressive Daniel Sturridge, only to see his stabbed shot from eight yards saved by keeper Marwin Hitz.

England international Sturridge had a shot palmed on to a post after a Coutinho pull-back and the striker also sent a shot just wide when he was not flagged after appearing offside.

The anxiety for the home side increased as the game went on - and Reds captain Jordan Henderson had a close-range shot saved before the relief of the final whistle.

"It is frustrating. We should be scoring two or three and killing the game off and it makes it tough second half as you know if they score they go through," England midfielder Henderson told BT Sport.

"We have to give credit to Augsburg as well. They are a quality team and put us under pressure."

Were Liverpool lucky?

The hosts were the better team but Augsburg, who are 13th in the Bundesliga, had their chances as they almost capitalised on Liverpool's lack of ruthlessness.

Kostas Stafylidis had a well-struck shot parried away by Reds keeper Mignolet and Caiuby missed after Lucas' back-pass.

Mignolet also rescued his side when he quickly came of his line to block a Werrner shot when he had been put clean through on goal.

A late 20-yard free-kick from Stafylidis also curled just the wrong side of the post as the German side's debut season in European competition came to an end.

What shape are the Reds in for Sunday's final?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp chose to play a strong line-up, despite the game being just three days before the trip to Wembley.

Sturridge and Coutinho had only recently returned from hamstring injuries but both played, with the former being taken off after 66 minutes and the Brazilian playmaker being substituted after 80 minutes.

Milner did go down at one point following an accidental clash with Stafylidis, but there did not appear to be any other injury worries for Klopp.

"Phil had one or two situations after challenges but we need to find new faith or trust in the body of the players," said the 48-year-old German.

"They (Sturridge and Coutinho) are very important for us but we need them in their best shape and you can only get this from training and matches."

Manager reaction

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was absolutely deserved. We were the better team, we created chances but we had one problem in that we didn't use them.

"We couldn't control the game in the last 20 minutes and it was hard, that is how it should be, but we are in the next round."

Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl: "I think we were a little unlucky with the penalty but we kept it going right till the end and that says a lot for our team and I am very proud of the players and the club."

The stats you need to know

  • Two of Liverpool's three fastest goals in all competitions this season have been scored in the Europa League - Adam Lallana v FC Sion (3:47) and Milner v Augsburg tonight (4:29).
  • This was Liverpool's first clean sheet at Anfield in Europe since last season's last-32 Europa League game against Besiktas, also a 1-0 win.
  • Augsburg scored against all three of their other opponents (Athletic Club, Partizan Belgrade and AZ) in their maiden European season but failed to do so in two games against Liverpool.
  • Liverpool have reached the last 16 of a European competition for the first time since the 2010-11 season when they did so in the Europa League.

What next?

As mentioned, Liverpool are back in action on Sunday as they face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final as the Premier League rivals compete for the first piece of major silverware of the English domestic season.

Source: bbc.com

Remi Garde: Aston Villa players not giving everything

Aston Villa manager Remi Garde says not all of his players are giving everything in the club's bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Villa are seven points adrift at the bottom of the table after just three league wins all season.

They lost 6-0 to Liverpool 11 days ago, a heaviest home defeat for 81 years.

"I don't see the commitment from all the players every day in training sessions," said Garde, whose side play at Stoke on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

Former Lyon boss Garde, appointed at the start of November, was unable to make any signings during the January transfer window.

The 49-year-old Frenchman added: "If I had the choice of other players I would like to select, I would like to - but I don't have the possibility.

"Sometimes it's about fighting and commitment. It's the first thing professional players should have on the pitch. How can you be confident if you're not fighting?"

Meanwhile, Garde confirmed he had spoken to Joleon Lescott about the defender posting a picture on social media of an expensive car just an hour after the defeat by Liverpool.

Lescott, who was widely criticised by supporters, has apologised and said the message had been sent accidentally from his pocket.

Garde said: "He told me the same thing that he said to the press. He told me it was an accident. I have no reason not to believe Joleon.

"We were together speaking face to face. I believe what he said. I just said to him that I was not expecting from an experienced player such an accident."

Source: bbc.com

Apple asks court to reverse FBI iPhone order

Apple has asked a US court to overturn an earlier ruling ordering the company to help the FBI break into a phone used by one of the San Bernardino killers.

In court papers Apple says law enforcement authorities are seeking "dangerous powers" and the move violates its constitutional rights.

The FBI and White House have said the request is limited to one iPhone.

But Apple says the software needed to comply with the FBI's request "simply does not exist".

Instead Apple says it would have to create a new version on the iPhone operating software, containing a back door to the device's encrypted data.

It argues that the lower court did not have the authority to force Apple to do that.

Apple also says no court had ever forced a company to weaken the security of its products to gain access to personal individual information.

"This case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld," the filing said.

Analysis - Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

In appealing to the American public, there are numerous boxes you can tick to quickly gain support; strings that tug at the mind of almost every person living in this country.

In this case, the FBI went with fighting against terror, and the need to beat the so-called Islamic State. Few would disagree with that motive, and even Tim Cook has acknowledged the compelling moral argument for unlocking the phone.

But if there's one things Americans worry about more than terrorists, it's the erosion of their constitutional rights. In Apple's court motion on Thursday, the company ticked the biggest box of all: freedom of speech.

The code it writes, the company argues, is the company's speech, it's expression.

Forcing it to write code and create a "GovtOS" - a play on iOS, the software that powers the iPhone - would be forcing Apple to write code it disagreed with, the company says.

It may be the argument that tips the balance in the court of public opinion.

Apple's boss hits back at FBI conduct

Bill Gates calls for terror data debate

Apple v the FBI - a plain English guide


'Hardest question'

On Thursday FBI director James Comey, said the government's dispute with Apple was, "the hardest" he had faced in government.

Testifying before congress Mr Comey said: "This is the hardest question I have seen in government and it's going to require negotiation and conversation."

The row between Apple and the FBI blew up last week when the bureau asked the electronics firm for help to unlock the smartphone of Syed Rizwan Farook - who along with his wife killed 14 people in December 2015.

So far, Apple has refused to unlock the phone.

In an interview aired yesterday with US TV network ABC, Apple boss Tim Cook said the FBI was asking it to make "the software equivalent of cancer".

He added: "Some things are hard and some things are right. And some things are both. This is one of those things."

Constitutional questions

Apple has argued that the FBI's request violates its constitutional right to freedom of speech, because a 1999 court case ruled that computer code is considered speech.

By forcing Apple to create a new code the FBI was violating a constitutional right, the company said.

Apple's attorney, Bruce Sewell will testify before Congress on 1 March about the encryption case.

Tech leaders, including Google's boss, and Apple customers have praised the company for standing up to the FBI.

Apple supporters rallied in front of the company's stores on Tuesday to show their support.

A Department of Justice court filing from February accused Apple of refusing to help to boost its "marketing strategy".

Source: bbc.com

Uhuru Kenyatta: Kenyans are 'experienced thieves'

Kenyans are "experienced in stealing and perpetuating other crimes", the president has said, during a state visit to Israel.

Uhuru Kenyatta added that Kenya was "20 times more wonderful" than Israel, but "all we ever do is complain".

Kenyans were also abusers, and promoted tribalism, he said, in an address to Kenyans living in Israel.

Mr Kenyatta has been accused of failing to do enough to curb corruption and of stirring up ethnic violence.

His comments were seen as an attempt to encourage Kenyans to develop their country, like Israel, says the BBC's Wanyama Chebusiri in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

He seemed to question why Kenya was lagging behind, and had to even learn about irrigation from a desert country, our correspondent adds.

However, many Kenyans believe that the president's speech was just rhetoric, and he was not serious about tackling corruption or ethnic divisions in the East African state, our reporter says.

They complain that ethnicity determines whether they get government jobs, and bribery and corruption are endemic in government, he adds.

Mr Kenyatta was accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of crimes against humanity for allegedly inciting ethnic violence after elections in 2007, in which more than 1,200 Kenyans were killed.

But the case was dropped in 2014 after the prosecutor's office said it did not have enough evidence against him.

He always denied the charges.

Source: bbc.com

Somalia's al-Shabab killed '180 Kenyan troops' in el-Ade

At least 180 Kenyan troops were killed when al-Shabab attacked their base last month, Somalia's president has said.

Kenya's army said the number was untrue, but again refused to give its own casualty figures for the assault in the southern Somali base of el-Ade.

The Islamist militant group said it had killed about 100 Kenyan troops.

If it is confirmed that 180 troops were killed, it would be al-Shabab's deadliest assault since it was formed nearly a decade ago.

Its previous most deadly attack was the killing of 148 people in the day-long assault on Garissa University College in north-eastern Kenya last April.

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gave the death toll of 180 in an interview with a Somali television station, while defending his attendance at a memorial for the soldiers in Kenya.

Some Somalis accused him on social media of showing greater concern for the killing of Kenyans than his own nationals.

President Mohamud said it was important to pay tribute to the troops killed in el-Ade, which is in Somalia's south-western region of Gedo.

Map of Somalia

"When 180 or close to 200 soldiers who were sent to us are killed in one day in Somalia, it's not easy," he told Somali Cable TV.

"The soldiers have been sent to Somalia to help us get peace in our country, and their families are convinced that they died while on duty," he added.

'Counted bodies'

Kenyan army spokesman David Obonyo said the Somali president's information was untrue.

"Ask the source of the information to clarify it. Maybe he knows his sources," he told the BBC.

"Secondly, we should stop trivializing the dead. They are not mere statistics. They ought to be treated with honour and respect," Col Obonyo added.


Analysis: Tomi Oladipo, BBC Africa security correspondent

The el-Ade attack was hugely embarrassing for Kenya, and it is not surprising that it has rejected the Somali president's figure without giving its own. Kenya's government possibly fears that confirming a high death toll would fuel doubts among Kenyans about its military presence in Somalia.

It is unclear where Mr Mohamud got the figure from, and whether he had had intentionally disclosed it, something that could strain diplomatic relations with Kenya.

Kenya's military is clearly upset with him, but it has previously said that a company-sized battalion, usually made up of 100 to 250 men, was targeted by the militants.

And there is no doubt that this was the bloodiest attack on Kenyan troops since they crossed into Somalia in 2011, even if the exact death toll remains unclear.

The Kenyan army has sought revenge for the attack, carrying out a series of air strikes against suspected al-Shabab bases in southern Somalia, even saying that it has killed the group's intelligence chief, a claim the militants deny.


Mr Mohamud's figure is similar to that a community leader in el-Ade gave to the BBC Somali service after the attack on 15 January.

He had counted about 190 bodies, he said.

It is unclear why al-Shabab put the number of killed at about 100, but one possibility is that it excluded ethnic Somalis who were Kenyan soldiers, correspondents say.

After the attack, Kenya said the bombs used by al-Shabab were three times more powerful than those used by al-Qaeda in the 1998 US embassy attack in the capital, Nairobi, which left 224 people dead.

Its troops withdrew from el-Ade 11 days after the attack.

Kenya has about 4,000 troops in the 22,000-strong African Union force battling al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda, in Somalia.

Source: bbc.com

Minority Describes Prez Mahama’s Address As "Theatrical"

Hon Isaac Osei, Member of Parliament for Subin Constituency in the Ashanti Region has bemoaned the number of hours the President spent in delivering his "theatrical" State of the Nation’s Address (SoNA).

According to him, “the last time I was in the UK, the Queen’s speech lasted 25 minutes; what do we have here that we are talking so much.”

President John Mahama on Thursday addressed Parliament in his last SoNA in his First Term. He touched on a number of issues including education, health, finance, sports, energy and the upcoming November polls.

Speaking to MetroTV moments after the president's address, Hon Isaac Osei, who is also the Ranking Member on Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said he could not identify the ‘"running theme in the President’s message".

“Three hours plus; a lot of theatre. At the end of the day, I don’t know one running theme in it…if you ask me what was the running theme in the President’s message, I don’t think I can tell you. It was theatre; a lot of theater; three hours State of the Nation’s Address?" he asked in a voice filled with disbelief.

Mahama Was Modest

However, Hon Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy and Member of Parliament for Ellembelle constituency in the Western Region had a vastly contrary view.

To him, the level of development and improvement occurring in the lives of Ghanaians cannot be considered as theatrical.

“Even though he (Prez Mahama) should have hit his chest with what he has done, he was so modest…tell those communities that have 35,000 kilometres of good road that it is theatre…what the NPP is running away from is that when we were working hard; led by His Excellency President Mahama; so determined, working, focused addressing the energy sector, road, health, educational infrastructure, all they did was making noise…now they are running for cover,” he fired back.

Source: peacefmonline.com

Manchester United draw Liverpool in Europa League

Liverpool will face rivals Manchester United in the Europa League last 16, while Tottenham have been drawn against Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

The games will be played on Thursday, 10 and 17 March.

Liverpool's home leg will kick-off at 20:05 GMT with the second game at Old Trafford starting at 18:00 GMT.

Valencia, managed by Gary Neville, face fellow Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, while Sevilla - the winners of the last two Europa League titles - play Basel.

The Swiss side's St Jakob-Park ground will host the final.

The winners of the tournament qualify for next season's Champions League.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: "You can ask my staff but when they asked me yesterday who I wanted, I said 'Man United'.

"I think we have to clear something. We had a good game when we lost 1-0 (in the Premier League in January) but it was not what we deserved.

"It gives us a chance to make it better and that is what we will try to do."

United, who have never won the tournament, beat FC Midtjylland 6-3 on aggregate with Marcus Rashford scoring twice on his debut as United won the second leg 5-1.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool beat Augsburg 1-0 on aggregate with James Milner scoring the only goal of the tie on Thursday. The Reds won the old Uefa Cup three times, in 1973, 1976 and 2001.

It will be the first time United and Liverpool have faced each other in European competition.

The last all-English match in the Uefa Cup or Europa League was Liverpool v Tottenham in April 1973.

Spurs, who beat Fiorentina 3-0 on Thursday to seal their tie 4-1 on aggregate, won the 1972 and 1984 Uefa Cups.

Sevilla - who have won the tournament a record four times - are bidding to become the first side to win it three years in a row.

Europa League round of 16 draw

Shakhtar Donetsk v Anderlecht

Basel v Sevilla

Villarreal v Bayer Leverkusen

Athletic Bilbao v Valencia

Liverpool v Manchester United

Sparta Prague v Lazio

Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham

Fenerbahce v Braga

Source: bbc.com

Fifa presidential election: No winner after first round of voting

Gianni Infantino caused a surprise by polling the most votes in round one of voting in Friday's election to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president.

The Uefa secretary general failed to get enough to seal outright victory, claiming 88 of the 207 votes available at an extraordinary congress in Zurich.

Pre-vote favourite Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa won 85.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein was next with 27, followed by Jerome Champagne on seven. Tokyo Sexwale withdrew earlier.

It is the first time voting for the presidential election had reached a second round since 1974, when Joao Havelange of Brazil became the first non-European president ahead of England's Sir Stanley Rous.

Blatter, who led world football's governing body since 1998, stood down last year and was later banned from football for six years.

Analysis

"Infantino's camp has consistently maintained an air of optimism throughout the final days of this election campaign," said BBC Radio 5 live's sports news correspondent Richard Conway.

"They were not surprised at how well he performed in round one.

"What was surprising according to those close to Shaikh Salman is that pledges of support from Asia and Africa failed to materialise for the Bahraini."

What happens now?

To become president after the first round of voting, a candidate needed to secure two-thirds of the available votes, which equated to 138.

In round two, a simple majority is required, which means Infantino needs another 16 votes to become Fifa's ninth president.

"This election is being fought on the floor of the congress hall right now, with supporters of both Shaikh Salman, Gianni Infantino and Prince Ali talking to voterw," added Conway. "We could be in for a long night."

What else has happened?

Before voting began, reforms were passed to help make Fifa a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

Greg Dyke, who will cast a vote as chairman of the English Football Association, says the reforms are "more important" than the new leader as it will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

Before voting began, reforms were passed to help make Fifa a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

Greg Dyke, who will cast a vote as chairman of the English Football Association, says the reforms are "more important" than the new leader as it will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

How does voting work?

There are 209 Fifa nations but Kuwait and Indonesia are currently barred from taking part, meaning there are 207 eligible voters.

To become president after the first round of voting, a candidate must secure two-thirds of the available votes. If no candidate achieves that mark, a simple majority is required in the second round.

If there is still no winner, a third round will take place, minus the candidate with the fewest votes in round two.

Fifa says a winner must be declared on Friday because an ice hockey rink is due to be installed at the Hallenstadion venue at midnight.

Fifa votes

How significant is Friday's election?

Given everything that has happened to Fifa, this is seen as a pivotal moment for an organisation which has been heavily criticised for its lack of transparency and for failing to clamp down on corruption within it.

A new leader, together with a raft of reform measures, is seen as a chance to start afresh.

Acting president Issa Hayatou said Friday can "signal a new dawn", adding: "This is our opportunity to show we are united in building a stronger Fifa."

How bad has it got for Fifa?

There have been widespread allegations of corruption, the arrest of leading officials, the banning of its president and the sight of big-name sponsors deserting the organisation.

Numerous Fifa officials have been indicted in the United States, while Swiss authorities are also investigating the organisation.

Blatter has also been banned from all football activity for six years after being found guilty of breaching Fifa's ethics rules over a $2m (£1.3m) "disloyal payment" to the head of European football's governing body Uefa, Michel Platini, who had been favourite to succeed the Swiss.

Former France captain Platini was also suspended. Both men deny any wrongdoing and are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Furthermore, Jerome Valcke, Fifa's secretary general and formerly Blatter's right-hand man, was banned for 12 years following allegations - which he denies - of misconduct while in office.

How important is the president?

Fifa's leader is the figurehead for world football, often seen in public alongside presidents, prime ministers and royalty.

There have been eight of them so far, presiding over the organisation's executive committee, which is where the real decision-making power lies.

Fifa organises World Cups and other international tournaments, distributes broadcasting rights and should both protect and develop the world's most popular sport.

The president also "legally represents" the organisation, "maintains relations between Fifa and the confederations, members, political bodies and international organisations", and "implements the decisions passed by the congress and the executive committee".

Who wants to take over?

There are four candidates following Sexwale's withdrawal. They are:

  • Prince Ali bin al-Hussein: Aged 40, president of the Jordanian Football Association
  • Jerome Champagne: Aged 57, a former Fifa executive from France
  • Gianni Infantino: Aged 45, the Swiss is Uefa's general secretary
  • Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa: Aged 50, the Bahraini is Asian Football Confederation president

Read more: the five candidates profiled

What do they say?

Prince Ali: "I'm a candidate beholden to no one. I wouldn't apply political pressure or coercion. I'm the only candidate from a national association."

Infantino: "I'm not a politician, I'm football person and I'm a worker. If we stop doing politics and start doing football, the world will admire us."

Sheikh Salman: "My past and my track record speaks for itself. We want someone who is responsible and can deliver the promises he says."

Champagne: "I want a Fifa that serves football, that serves you. The Fifa I dream of is one which correct the inequalities."

What do they stand for?

Prince Ali wants to quadruple the amount Fifa's member associations receive - believing it will increase their sustainability - but wants the money properly accounted for.

Infantino would expand the World Cup to 40 teams to ensure more smaller nations can participate. He also wants to hugely expand Fifa's development plan by investing £860m of its revenues and giving £3.6m to each member association.

Sheikh Salman's big idea is to split Fifa in two with a business side handling commercial issues and the football side organising World Cups and developing the game. He believes this would stop executives making self-interested decisions.

Champagne's most recent manifesto emphasised "rebalancing" the inequality in football and "reconciling" the game's "protagonists". He wants to introduce technology to help referees and appoint women to key Fifa roles. He also wants Fifa to be run like a public sector organisation.

Will it really be a new era?

BBC sports editor Dan Roan in Zurich:

"Few fans or players would recognise these individuals, let alone know about their policies or have trust in their leadership.

"The selection of Sepp Blatter's successor should be the moment the governing body finally consigns the tainted tenure of their former president to history and symbolically moves on from the stranglehold he held over the organisation for so long. Except to many, it simply does not feel like that.

"All of the men running for president are members of the football establishment. Four of them have spoken to Blatter in the build up to the election, presumably to ask for advice. All are loathe to condemn the disgraced former president.

"The next 24 hours matters a great deal, and much is at stake. But do not assume that it represents the end of this great scandal, or the solution to FIFA's troubles. We should all know better by now."

Source: bbc.com

 

Fifa presidential election: Gianni Infantino succeeds Sepp Blatter

Gianni Infantino has succeeded fellow Swiss Sepp Blatter as president of world football's governing body Fifa.

The Uefa secretary general polled 115 votes, 27 more than closest rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein (4 votes) and Jerome Champagne (0) were third and fourth respectively.

Blatter, who had led Fifa since 1998, stood down last year and was later banned from football for six years for breaching ethics guidelines.

Infantino is a 45-year-old lawyer from Brig in the Valais region of Switzerland, less than six miles from Blatter's hometown of Visp.

He only entered the presidential race when it became clear that Michael Platini, boss of European football's governing body Uefa, would not be allowed to stand.

The election was due to be fought between five candidates, but South African Tokyo Sexwale withdrew before voting began in Zurich.

The first round of voting failed to determine an outright winner, though Infantino led with 88, three more than pre-vote favourite Sheikh Salman.

A simple majority of more than 50% - 104 of 207 available votes - was sufficient for victory in round two.

Not since 1974, when Joao Havelange of Brazil beat 13-year incumbent Stanley Rous of England, has a second round been needed.

What will Infantino do now?

An emotional Infantino told delegates that he was finding it hard to "express my feelings in this moment".

But he told delegates that together they would "restore the image of Fifa and the respect of Fifa".

He added: "I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of Fifa where we can put again football at the centre of the stage.

"Fifa has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and implement good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect.

"We're going to win back this respect through hard work, commitment and we're going to make sure we can finally focus on this wonderful game."

How has his election been received?

Gary Lineker, an outspoken critic of Fifa and former president Blatter, wished Infantino "all the best" following his appointment.

The former England striker added on Twitter: "He's got one hell of a job on his hands but seems a decent chap. Needs a sizeable new broom."

The television presenter then joked: "Have this weird feeling that Gianni Infantino will pull off his mask to reveal Sepp Blatter."

Portuguese great Luis Figo added his congratulations, tweeting: "Finally the change arrived. It's time for a new era in Fifa."

Russian sports minister Vitaly said: "I am happy. We supported him from the start. World football needs such a pragmatist."

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said he was looking forward to working with Infantino for "the sake of sport".

Has Blatter reacted?

Yes, the 79-year-old issued a statement following the election.

It read: "I congratulate Gianni Infantino sincerely and warmly on his election as the new president.

"With his experience, expertise, strategic and diplomatic skills he has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilize Fifa again."

What now for Fifa?

Infantino has a hard job resurrecting he fortunes after a number of damaging episode's in the organisation's history.

Criminal investigations in the United States and Switzerland have resulted in the indictment of dozens of football officials and other entities for corruption, many of them serving or former presidents of national or continental associations.

In addition, Fifa has been forced to investigate the awarding of several World Cup finals, especially the decision to grant the 2018 tournament to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar.

Swiss authorities are reviewing more than 150 reports of suspicious financial activity linked to those awards and said they had sent more documents, including an internal Fifa report to US investigators.

What else happened in Zurich?

To help the new president tackle the crisis that has enveloped Fifa, key reforms were passed to help make it a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries of Fifa officials will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said the reforms were "more important" than the new leader as they will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

Ivanovic heads late Chelsea winner

Chelsea moved up to 11th after coming back from a goal down to beat Southampton with a late Branislav Ivanovic header.

Shane Long headed high for the home side but atoned when he pounced on a Baba Rahman blunder before clipping a shot over keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Diego Costa volleyed wide for Chelsea but the visitors equalised when a Cesc Fabregas cross crept in.

Chelsea finished strongly and Ivanovic headed in from a Willian corner.

Follow reaction to Saturday's games here

Hiddink comes out on top against Koeman

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink managed Southampton counterpart Ronald Koeman when the pair won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven in 1988.

They later fell out over Hiddink's appointment as Netherlands manager in 2014, although both have said there were no hard feelings.

They shared a handshake and a few words before their teams competed in a fascinating match.

Southampton were initially on top but Chelsea showed they had the greater stamina and capitalised on the home side dropping back too much after the break.

Hiddink will not only be pleased with his side's desire and commitment but the fact they recovered from conceding against a team who had not let in a goal in six games.

The Blues remain unbeaten in the Dutchman's 11 league games since he took over from Jose Mourinho.

Do Southampton have cause for complaint?

Southampton had been unbeaten in six league games, including five wins, before this match.

Keeper Fraser Forster set a top-flight league record of going 667 minutes without being beaten when the clock reached 34 minutes at St Mary's and, when he did eventually let a goal in, it was in bizarre circumstances.

The assistant was flagging for a foul by Chelsea's Kenedy on Cedric Soares but referee Martin Atkinson overruled and Fabregas sent in a low curling cross, which Forster misjudged as it went across him and in at the far post.

"I don't understand that. The linesman is the closest to the situation. If it is a fault by Kenedy then you have to listen to the linesman. That's why you have linesmen - to help you," Koeman said.

When asked about his view, Hiddink said: "There are many duels and referees in England usually let a lot of duels go."

Manager reaction:

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: "I think it was a deserved win for us. They haven't conceded in the last six, seven games so it was successful for us.

"We had a setback when we went 1-0 down - it was a present from our defence - but we did very well in the second half. We were well organised and then got the goals."

On replacing Baba Rahman, whose mistake led to Southampton's goal, at half-time: "I don't want to make a fake injury. I took him off because of the error. He has to cope with that. He was very down in the locker room about his mistake, but we have to make decisions like we did."

The stats you need to know

  • Shane Long has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since he did so for Hull City in February 2014.
  • Southampton have led in 10 Premier League home games this season, the joint-most along with Chelsea.
  • Fraser Forster conceded his first goal in 708 minutes of Premier League action.
  • Cesc Fabregas scored just his third goal in his 40th appearance this season and his first away from Stamford Bridge since scoring at QPR in April 2015.
  • Reigning champions Chelsea have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and the first time since May 2015.

What next?

Chelsea face another away trip as they travel to Norwich for a top-flight game on Tuesday (19:45 GMT), while Southampton are at Bournemouth the same evening.

Source: bbc.com

Leicester strike late against Norwich

Leonardo Ulloa's 89th-minute goal extended Leicester's lead at the top of the Premier League to five points and denied Norwich a deserved draw.

Ulloa slid in at the far post to convert Marc Albrighton's cross at the end of an otherwise limp Foxes display.

Norwich earlier had the better chances, Cameron Jerome heading wide and Nathan Redmond off target from distance.

Leicester had largely been restricted to shots from distance until substitute Ulloa had the final say.

Until the Argentine's intervention, the Foxes were facing the prospect of losing top spot if either of Arsenal or Tottenham win on Sunday - instead they are guaranteed to remain at the summit with 11 games remaining.

Norwich are still outside the relegation places, but level on points with Newcastle, who have a game in hand.

Stuff of champions?

For so long, Leicester looked likely to be frustrated into a stalemate by a tactically sound Norwich performance and their own lack of guile.

As the Canaries dropped deep, forming a five-man defence when they did not have the ball, Leicester looked to the trickery of Riyad Mahrez. As the clock ticked down, the hosts had only managed two shots on target - both from distance, both dealt with by John Ruddy.

Enter Ulloa, who arrived at the back post to convert into an empty net after Albrighton's low cross had crucially been poked past Ruddy by Jamie Vardy.

If champions find a way to win when they are not at their best, then Leicester have hinted at another reason why the Premier League title could be coming their way.

Cruel on the Canaries

It was so cruel on Norwich, who arrived at the King Power with the perfect plan to prevent Leicester from the sort of pacy counter-attacks that have carried them to the top of the league.

Vardy was given no space behind the defence and was largely anonymous, while the tricky Mahrez, bar a couple of jinking runs, was often crowded out.

But Norwich did not only defend - they had opportunities to win it.

Jerome should have scored when he climbed highest to meet a first-half corner, while Redmond fizzed a shot past the post from long range with home goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel beaten.

More of the same?

While Leicester can revel in a dramatic win that keeps their unlikely title bid on track, they must also consider how to better cope when teams set up in the same manner as the Canaries.

This was only the third time this season that Leicester had the most possession in a Premier League match as Norwich were happy to concede the ball in order to not leave the sort of space in which Vardy and Mahrez have thrived.

In their final 11 fixtures, Leicester will face only three clubs in the current top nine, and perhaps plenty of others willing to follow the template set by the Canaries.

Ulloa's late winner was further evidence of the momentum and belief that has carried Claudio Ranieri's men this far in a remarkable story, but problems that the Foxes may yet encounter had already been revealed.

What they said

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: "It was a difficult match. Norwich played well and closed the space, but we believed until the end. This victory was very important to restart after the Arsenal defeat.

"I said before the Arsenal match that Norwich would be more difficult. Both teams could have scored a goal in the final 20 minutes.

"The conclusion I have drawn from this is that my players believe until the end. That, for me, is very important. If the other teams start to win, they can win all the matches. But for us, the next match is always the final match. That is our mentality."

Norwich manager Alex Neil: "I don't think we deserved that. In the game we had good chances and defensively we were solid.

"We kept Vardy and Mahrez quiet and we certainly deserved something. There are a lot of things to take from it.

"We have a game on Tuesday and we'll get it out of our system before then."

The stats

  • Leicester did not record a shot on target until the 58th minute
  • Norwich's only shot on target in this game came in the 43rd minute
  • Leicester have won four of their last five games
  • Two of Leonardo Ulloa's three Premier League goals this season have come as a sub
  • Norwich have taken one point from their last seven Premier League games
  • The Canaries have gone 14 Premier League games on the road without a clean sheet
  • Leicester have conceded only four goals in their last nine Premier League games

What next?

Leicester welcome West Brom to the King Power on Tuesday, while Norwich entertain Chelsea on the same night.

Source: bbc.com

Atletico Madrid win derby against Real

Atletico Madrid won a third consecutive La Liga Bernabeu derby to practically end Real Madrid's title hopes.

Diego Simeone's visitors are now five points off leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand, while Real are nine points below the champions.

Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal, early in the second half, when he steered Filipe Luis' pass home.

Real, who were two points off Barca when Zinedine Zidane took over, had not lost in his first eight games as boss.

The result means Atletico are the first side in La Liga history to win three times in a row at the Bernabeu, as Real fans called for club president Florentino Perez to resign.

Source: bbc.com

Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid forward appears unhappy with team-mates

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo said "if we were all at my level maybe we would be leaders" after his side's 1-0 derby defeat by Atletico Madrid.

A first defeat under Zinedine Zidane leaves Real nine points off leaders Barcelona, and four below Atletico.

Real were missing Gareth Bale and Marcelo through injury, while Karim Benzema was replaced at half-time.

"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win," Ronaldo said.

"I like to play with Karim, with Bale, with Marcelo.

"I'm not saying the others like Lucas Vazquez, Jese and Mateo Kovacic are not good players - they are very good players - but it's not the same."

Afterwards he sought to clarify his quotes, telling Marca: "When I say that, I am talking about my fitness level, not my level as a player. I am no better than any of my team-mates".

Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the derby as Atletico became the first team to win in three consecutive La Liga trips to the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo used an expletive to describe how he feels the media describe him and added "but I don't listen to what the press say. The statistics and numbers don't lie".

Zidane had been unbeaten in his first eight La Liga games, although they have dropped from two points behind Barca to nine.

Atletico played in the Champions League away to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, drawing 0-0, while Real had not played since last weekend.

Zidane said: "We were not as ready for the game as we thought we were. All I can say is that it's not just about our fitness.

"The players are not unfit, it's a question of everything. We didn't play the game we had prepared.

"They played on Wednesday and had less time to recover, and look at the game they played. So it is a mental question. We lacked a bit of everything.

"I told the players that we have to keep on going, I can't be happy with this performance and neither are they, but we can't give up. I have a clear idea of what went wrong today."

Source: bbc.com