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Hacking 'fun' for British teens

One in four young Britons attempts to access the Facebook accounts of their friends, a survey claims.

The most common route of access was by working out - or "cracking" - each other's passwords.

The poll of 1,150 under-19s found that nearly half of those who accessed other accounts did so from either their own computer or one at school.

The main reason given for doing it was for fun, and a further 21% admitted they hoped to cause disruption.

The young people questioned took part in the online survey anonymously.

78% of them said that they knew that hacking was wrong and 82% said they found it difficult to do in practice.

Reuven Harrison, co-founder of Tufin Technologies which commissioned the survey, told the BBC that young people need better education in order to understand when hacking is unacceptable.

"Playing around with computers and trying to understand the system can be leveraged for good and bad purposes," he said.

"There's a fine line at which point it becomes something bad. Children don't always understand where that line is."

20% of those who admitted to hacking in the survey believed they could make money from the activity and 5% described hacking as a career option.

"Hacking into personal online accounts can be child's play if users do not protect their own passwords," said Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, president of the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace.

"Hacking is illegal and we need to ensure everyone understands that."

Posted on Sunday 21st March 2010

Man City to fight Adebayor charge

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has confirmed the club will contest the Football Association's improper conduct charge against Emmanuel Adebayor.

The charge relates to Adebayor's actions in running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal supporters after scoring.

The Togo international, 25, later apologised for his actions.

The striker has already been suspended for three matches for violent conduct during the match, which City won 4-2.

Adebayor was banned for stamping on his former teammate Robin van Persie, a challenge which left the Dutchman needing treatment on a cut to his face.

Manchester City decided against contesting Adebayor's violent conduct charge and he will now miss Sunday's trip to Manchester United and home games against Fulham - in the Carling Cup - and West Ham.

However, Hughes is adamant his £25m summer-signing from Arsenal should not be reprimanded for his goal celebration.

"He didn't leave the field of the play. He laid on his knees - it was his normal celebration," said Hughes.

After the match it emerged that a steward needed hospital treatment after being hit by a flying object as several Arsenal fans vented their fury towards Adebayor, who was booked by referee Mark Clattenburg for the celebration.

But Hughes is determined to take a stance and pointed to the large amount of abuse Adebayor was forced to endure from Arsenal fans during the game.

"It's important you don't take the emotion out of the game - it's part and parcel of what football's all about - because of the emotion," added Hughes.

"The circumstances of the game and amount of criticism and vitriol he had to take wasn't nice. It was difficult for him - it was the first time he was up against former team-mates and some of those felt they couldn't even shake his hand.

"All these things maybe affect somebody's emotional state in the game. The celebrations were an outpouring of that. I have to say he didn't leave the field of play and there are others things we can add to that and we will do.

"I think there are comparisons to be made between Ade's celebration and Van Persie's celebration when he scored."

Adebayor says sorry for goal celebration

Adebayor apologised for his behaviour immediately after the match but claimed he had been provoked by the Arsenal fans.

"The emotion took over me," said Adebayor. "Now I just have to say sorry.

"It was silly to run up in front of the Arsenal fans but these people have been insulting me all game. Even in the warm-up they were insulting me. They were saying things that are not nice to hear, personal things."

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has suggested possible points penalties for clubs as a deterrent for further behavioural breaches.

"Do we need to look at clubs losing points for serious misbehaviour?" he said.

"If a player gets banned for three games, it's easy to put someone else in there if you are a big club, though for small clubs it's more difficult.

"It's just a personal idea but football should be looking at all it can do to make sure that the image of the game.

"It's something that should be looked to make sure that clubs and players act in a responsible way."

source: bbc

Posted on Friday 18th September 2009

'Oil discovered' off Sierra Leone

A US oil firm has announced the discovery of a deepwater oil well off the coast of Sierra Leone.

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation said it confirmed the existence of an "active petroleum system" in the Sierra Leone-Liberian basin.

Two years ago, oil was discovered off Ghana by the same drillers.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and still faces the challenge of reconstruction after a brutal civil war which ended in 2002.

The country is also rich in diamonds and other minerals, but the trade in illicit gems, known as "blood diamonds" for their role in funding conflicts, perpetuated the civil war.

Anadarko Petroleum said the new well - called Venus - is one of more than 30 identified prospects across 10 blocks offshore of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

"We are optimistic that the continued success of our West African Cretaceous program will create substantial value for our stakeholders as well as the people of West Africa through continued investment and increased activity," said Bob Daniels, Andarko vice-president.

source: bbc

Posted on Friday 18th September 2009

Brazil eyes Amazon sugar cane ban

The Brazilian government has unveiled plans to ban sugar cane plantations in environmentally sensitive areas.

The proposal, which must be passed by Congress, comes amid concerns that Brazil's developing biofuels industry is increasing Amazon deforestation.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the measures would mean ethanol made from sugar cane would be "100% green".

The government agenda is becoming more environmentally friendly ahead of the 2010 presidential poll, analysts say.

The plans unveiled by Mr Minc would limit sugar cane plantations to 7.5% of Brazilian territory or 64m hectares, and prevent the clearing of new land for the crop.

 

The proposed legislation, expected to be put to Congress next year, would also prohibit the building of ethanol distillation plants in food-growing areas or in the vast wetlands of the Pantanal, on Brazil's border with Bolivia.

Brazil, the world's top producer of sugar, has long championed ethanol as an environmentally friendly source of energy but concerns have grown over its potential hazards.

Critics have said that the spread of sugar cane plantations into areas like the Amazon and the Pantanal has increased deforestation.

"This legislation is extremely welcome because it sends a clear signal to farmers and to the world that the government wants to exercise control," Paulo Moutinho from environmental group Imazon told the AFP news agency.

Green votes

The debate over the environmental credentials of ethanol has become increasingly sensitive in Brazil, raising tensions among ministers, says the BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo.

But our correspondent says that as next year's presidential election approaches, the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been stressing its green credentials with renewed vigour.

President Lula, who enjoys high approval ratings, cannot stand for a third term but is keen to see his chief of staff Dilma Rousseff succeed him.

Complicating the electoral scene, however, is the likely candidacy for the Green Party of Marina Silva, the former environment minister, who left the president's Workers Party (PT) earlier this year.

Ms Silva, a stanch defender of the Amazon rainforest, is highly unlikely to win but with her green background she could help to splinter the PT base and take some votes from Ms Rousseff.

source: bbc

Posted on Friday 18th September 2009

Brown book breaks record in hours

Dan Brown's follow-up to The Da Vinci Code has sold more copies in its first 36 hours of UK release than any other adult hardback novel, say publishers.

The Lost Symbol, which went on sale on Tuesday, has shifted more than 300,000 copies in the UK, Transworld said.

Publishers said sales in the US, Canada and the UK had already topped 1m, amid claims of record-breaking sales of the digital edition in the US.

The Lost Symbol is Brown's first book since 2003's The Da Vinci Code.

Set in Washington DC, it once again features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, this time delving into the secret world of the Freemasons.

"We are seeing historic, record-breaking sales across all types of our accounts in North America for The Lost Symbol," said Sonny Mehta, editor in chief of US publisher Knopf Doubleday.

Digital sales

Dan Brown on new novel release

In the US, both online retailer Amazon and booksellers Barnes & Noble claimed record one-day sales for adult fiction.

However, the book fell well short of sales figures of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold more than 8 million copies on its first day in the US alone.

"The biggest surprise was that, despite sustained, strong physical book sales, on Tuesday we saw the Kindle [electronic reader] edition outsell hardcover editions on the book's release day," said Amazon spokesman Andrew Hardener, referring to strong e-book sales in the US.

His calculations, however, did not include pre-orders.

Sony spokesman Kyle Austin also claimed The Lost Symbol set a single day record for e-sales, outselling other releases more than 10 times on Tuesday.

Doubleday released the digital edition of the thriller, despite industry concerns that the lower priced e-book could harm sales of the hardback.

The Da Vinci Code has sold 81 million copies around the world and is the UK's biggest-selling paperback of all time.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 17th September 2009

Google turns page on news content

Google has unveiled a service called Fast Flip to let users consume news more quickly and to boost the flagging fortunes of the news industry.

The product is designed to mirror the way readers flick through magazines and newspapers.

Google has teamed up with more than 30 providers such as the BBC to provide what it calls a new reading experience.

The search giant was recently called a parasite for making money aggregating content it did not create.

"I don't believe we are part of the problem. I believe we are part of the solution," Google's vice-president of search, Marissa Mayer, told BBC News.

"We have tried to build platforms and tools that build a healthy, rich eco-system online that is supportive of content. This is a new way of looking at content."

Earlier this year, Wall Street Journal chief Robert Thomson called the search company and other aggregators such as Yahoo "parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet".

The news industry has been struggling with how to broaden the size of its online audience and how to make money from content it has long given away free.

Last month, media mogul Rupert Murdoch said he hoped all of his major newspapers would be charging for online content by the end of June next year.

Preferences

Fast Flip imitates a conventional print publication by offering screenshots of the web pages containing relevant articles.

The stories are organised following a number of different criteria. For example, readers will be offered articles that have been popular all day, that reflect their personal preference or that have been recommended by friends.

Users who want to dig deeper into the story can click through to the publisher's website.

To make money, Fast Flip also serves up contextual adverts around the screenshots.

Publishers who have signed up to provide content to the service will share in that revenue; that was proof, said Ms Mayer, that Google was keen to help the industry at a time when it was clearly struggling.

"We are excited to team with publishers and look at a new possibility for how people might consume news online and how to monetise it," said Ms Mayer.

Google admitted that there was no "magic bullet" to quickly solve the challenges the publishing industry faced but it added that "we believe encouraging readers to read more news is a necessary part of the solution".

Ms Mayer said the science behind this was simple.

"Advertising responds well when you have engaged users.

"If you have users that stay on the site for a long time and who do a lot of page views, all of those are good measurers because you will have a better chance to engage them with the ads and learn from their behaviour what type of ads to target," explained Ms Mayer.

Hands-on control

Ms Mayer told TechCrunch 50, a conference aimed at start-up companies, that Google co-founder Larry Page had asked why the web was not more like a magazine, allowing users to flip from screen to screen seamlessly.

Delegates were told that one reason had to do with media-rich content that took time to load - five to 10 seconds.

"Imagine if it took that long to flip a magazine page," said Krishna Bharat, a distinguished engineer at Google who led the creation of the Google news service.

"We wanted to bring the advantages of print media, the speed and hands-on control you get with a newspaper or magazine, and combine that with the technical advantages of the internet. We wanted the best of both worlds," said Mr Bharat.

Ms Mayer revealed that initially they thought a solution to the problem posed by Mr Page was "a decade away".

She explained that Google had long been trying to harness increased speed, "shaving a millisecond here and another millisecond there".

But Ms Mayer said that the success of Fast Flip was down to having a specific problem to solve.

"A big part of innovation is having the right goal and asking the right question," she said.

Initially Fast Flip will concentrate on audiences in the US. The BBC is the only UK-based media outlet to have a presence on the site, due largely to its popularity in America.

Other publishers involved include Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Elle, Popular Mechanics, Slate, Salon, the New York Times, the Washington Post and ProPublica.

 source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 15th September 2009

Mugabe hails landmark EU meeting

President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabwe's first high-level talks with top EU officials in seven years went well.

After the talks, in Harare, he again called for international sanctions imposed since disputed presidential election in 2002 to be lifted.

The EU team also praised the meeting but indicated it was not appropriate yet for sanctions to end and complained about the slow pace of reforms.

The EU team later met PM Morgan Tsvangirai.

'Good rapport'

Before going into the talks with the EU team, Mr Mugabe said: "We welcome you with open arms. We hope our talks will be fruitful with a positive outcome."

 

When he reappeared after they ended, he told the BBC the talks had gone well.He said: "We established a good rapport, it was a friendly meeting. Obviously they thought the Global Political Agreement was not working well."

The General Political Agreement is the power-sharing deal that was sealed a year ago, most importantly with Mr Tsvangirai.

Mr Mugabe said that "everything we were asked to do under GPA we have done".

The EU team, led by Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht, expressed satisfaction with the talks, saying there had been "progress" in a "very open atmosphere".

But the BBC's Andrew Harding, in Harare, says the EU team also pointed out the problems it had with the current situation.

The team, which has described the visit as an attempt to reopen political dialogue with Zimbabwe, said it was not appropriate to lift sanctions at the moment or for major aid to start.

Mr de Gucht said he hoped the president realised the need for "more understanding between the three principals - himself, the prime minister and the vice-prime minister".

Our correspondent says that one year on from the announcement of power-sharing, there remain serious doubts about human rights, the stalling of political reform and the good faith of President Mugabe and his supporters.

In a speech a day before meeting the delegation, Mr Mugabe had lashed out at the Western sanctions, accusing whites of wanting to "poke their nose into own our own affairs".

"We have stood firm and we have refused to let go. Zimbabwe - sanctions or no sanctions, Zimbabwe remains ours," he told a meeting of his Zanu-PF youth wing in Harare.

Conditional removal

Last week, African leaders had called for sanctions against the country to be lifted but Mr de Gucht said the measures had "no impact on the common population".

 

Sweden's Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson and Mr de Gucht will be in the country until Sunday.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said last week that the EU was not considering lifting sanctions.

Long-time opposition leader Mr Tsvangirai wants a removal of sanctions to be conditional on how well the power-sharing deal signed a year ago has been implemented.

But last week the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) rejected that proposal.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who has criticised Mr Mugabe in the past and was expected to side with Mr Tsvangirai, said there should be no conditions placed on the removal of sanctions.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

SAS training Libya, paper claims

An SAS team has been training Libyan special forces in counter-terrorism techniques, a newspaper claims.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a team of up to 14 men have been providing training in areas including covert surveillance for six months.

An SAS source quoted by the paper suggests a possible link between the training and the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the suggestion of such a link was untrue.

The Ministry of Defence does not comment on special forces activities, and neither confirmed nor denied the Telegraph's report.

But defence sources said that if they were to undertake such training it would be for regular forces only, says BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt.

'Rolling of eyes'

The Foreign Office says there is ongoing defence co-operation with Libya.

The Telegraph quoted an SAS soldier as saying: "The IRA was our greatest adversary now we are training their backers.

"There was a weary rolling of the eyes when we were told about this."

Tripoli supplied the IRA with weaponry during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was freed on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government last month.

He had been serving a minimum of 27 years in jail for carrying out the 1988 passenger plane bombing that claimed 270 lives.

The bomber was given a hero's welcome on his return to Libya.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Facebook strips down to Lite site

The world's biggest social networking site has launched a slimmed-down version for people with slow or poor internet connections.

Facebook has said the Lite site will be faster and simpler because it offers fewer services than the main site.

Initially it is meant to support users in developing countries and where bandwidth constraints make the current version too slow to use.

At the moment it is only available in India and the US.

The company said around 70% of its more than 250 million users were from outside America. Countries in Southeast Asia and Europe are seeing a massive increase in growth where fast internet connections are more common.

News that Facebook was testing the Lite site was first leaked in August.

'Twitter-like'

The options on Facebook Lite are limited to letting users write on their wall, post photos and videos, view events and browse other people's profiles. There are no apps or special boxes.

"It appears, at a quick glance, to be a better site for Facebook newbies or for anyone who finds the current site overwhelming and noisy," said Rafe Needleman at technology website Cnet.

"The new layout feels almost Twitter-like."

Terence O'Brien at Switched.com gave the slimmed-down version of what he called "ol' blue" the thumbs-up because it "strips away distractions".

"The simple site loads noticeably faster, is easier to navigate, and is much easier on the eyes thanks to the lack of people sending you 'virtual booze' or asking you to join their 'vampire fraternity'.

"The new layout seems like a direct challenge to Twitter, which can attribute much of its success to is simplicity and portability," said Mr O'Brien.

'Worldwide rollout'

Many industry watchers said they believed that even users with good internet connections might well flock to Facebook Lite because of its new look and ease of use.

"That is what some US users are planning to do," said Eric Eldon of InsideFacebook.com

"Indeed the reaction from US users has prompted Facebook to release it intentionally for US users, something it hadn't previously planned on doing."

Mr Eldon said he believed a "worldwide rollout doesn't seem too far away".

Facebook has acknowledged this is a possibility in a statement on the site which said the firm was "working on translating Lite into other languages".

So far those who have posted comments on Facebook seem to like the company's new Lite approach.

"It's good to see Facebook listening to their users," wrote one user.

Another said: "Facebook Lite should be great for college campuses like mine that are hung up on bandwidth."

Having no third-party apps on the site also garnered a fair amount of support.

"The no-apps thing is killer. There's nothing about them I'll miss," noted one user, while another said: "Whatever you do, please, PLEASE do not allow the quizzes, games, or apps to ruin this pristine version of Facebook."

Anyone who switches to Facebook Lite and does not like it can switch back to the fuller version of the site.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Man City 4 - 2 Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor silenced the taunts of Arsenal fans as he inspired Manchester City to a fourth successive Premier League victory - but sparked fury among his former supporters inside Eastlands with a provocative solo goal celebration.

Adebayor caused chaotic scenes in the Arsenal section of support when he raced the length of the pitch to slide on his knees in front of the visiting fans after heading City's crucial third goal to wrap up the win.

The former Arsenal striker, who completed an acrimonious £25.5m move from the Emirates before the start of the season, was booked by referee Mark Clattenburg and may not have heard the last of an ill-judged reaction after the situation in the crowd briefly threatened to boil over.

Adebayor also appeared to kick out at Robin van Persie during an eventful second-half and his antics took some of the gloss off a City performance that demonstrated there is genuine substance to the expensive refit of their squad under manager Mark Hughes.

City took the lead after 20 minutes when Micah Richards' header was unluckily deflected in by Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia off an upright.

Van Persie put Arsenal back in contention with a low finish just after the hour - but City then struck three times in 10 minutes to add to the growing belief inside Eastlands that they can mount a serious challenge to the top four this season.

Craig Bellamy turned Richards' cross past Almunia before Adebayor showed the more acceptable face of his character with a towering header from Shaun Wright-Phillips' cross.

Eastlands was in pandemonium when Wright-Phillips turned home City's fourth, and Tomas Rosicky's late goal mattered little as Arsenal collapsed in alarming fashion.

If City and boss Hughes were looking for an accurate measure of their prospects this season, then this deserved win will send optimism coursing through Eastlands.

City showed attacking verve, especially in the shape of Adebayor and Bellamy - even with Carlos Tevez injured and Robinho sidelined for up to a month with a stress fracture just above his ankle - but perhaps more importantly showed the character to dig their way out of adversity when Arsenal threatened to take control.

And with a Manchester derby looming at Old Trafford next Sunday, City will travel to face their arch-rivals in great heart.

Adebayor received a predictably hostile reception from Arsenal's travelling support - and his former team-mates looked in the mood to make him regret what he had left behind in the opening exchanges.

Manchester City, with £24m new boy Joleon Lescott taking time to settle on his home debut and earning a yellow card for a foul on Van Persie, struggled to establish any control and should have fallen behind when the unmarked William Gallas headed over from Cesc Fabregas' corner.

The complexion of the game altered when City took the lead in fortuitous circumstances after 20 minutes. Richards did well to rise and head powerfully towards goal, but the final touch came off unfortunate Arsenal keeper Alumnia, who turned his effort on to an upright but then saw it bounce back in off his head.

Arsenal's early superiority evaporated in the face of that setback and City were able to exert a measure of superiority without putting the Gunners' defence under serious pressure.

Boss Arsene Wenger wasted no time in making a change after the interval, waiting only seven minutes before replacing Denilson with Rosicky after the injury-plagued star played his first competitive match for 20 months in the Czech Republic's 7-0 win against San Marino in midweek.

The effect was almost instant - even though Rosicky was not involved. Gallas again met a corner, this time from Van Persie, but City keeper Shay Given made a vital block and Nicklas Bendtner shot the rebound wildly across the face of goal.

Arsenal were turning up the tempo and playing on City's inability to keep possession, with Given forced to excel again from Thomas Vermaelen's shot.

The pressure looked certain to pay, and so it proved after 62 minutes when Van Persie's low shot flew just beyond the reach of Given and into the bottom corner.

City showed great strength of character to regain their composure, and the lead, with 16 minutes left as Bellamy swept a finish high past Almunia.

The moment Adebayor craved arrived after 80 minutes - but it was a moment of joy the striker marred with a celebration that was both foolish and highly-provocative.

He rose magnificently to head his fourth goal in successive league games past Almunia, but then sprinted the length of the field, unaccompanied by his team mates, to slide on his knees in front of enraged Arsenal fans.

It was an act that caused chaos in the Arsenal section of Eastlands as order was eventually restored - but Adebayor was rightly shown the yellow card by referee Mark Clattenburg.

Arsenal's misery deepened four minutes later when Wright-Phillips rounded off more good work from the tireless Bellamy, and Rosicky's late goal was of no consolation.

City's fans celebrated wildly and deservedly at the final whistle, but it will be the celebration of Adebayor that will also claim unwanted headlines.

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Tottenham 1 - 3 Man Utd

Manchester United produced a superb display to fight back from a goal behind and win away at Tottenham, despite Paul Scholes' sending off.

Spurs went ahead when Jermain Defoe fired in an acrobatic overhead kick only 38 seconds in, but Ryan Giggs' majestic free-kick levelled matters.

Anderson fired home his first United goal from the edge of the box, before Scholes saw red for two bookings.

Peter Crouch hit the crossbar, but Wayne Rooney's solo goal wrapped it up.

Rooney's goal was an exhibition of counter-attacking play from the 10 men and a brutal response to those wondering whether United would carry the same threat without Cristiano Ronaldo this season.

It was a thoroughly deserved victory, especially as United were forced to play for over half an hour without Scholes against a team that had won all four of their Premier League games this season.

And until Scholes' unfortunate dismissal, it was the two old stagers of the side in the former England midfielder and Giggs who brilliantly led United's renaissance, after they succumbed to the quickest goal of the campaign thus far.

With only 38 seconds on the clock and White Hart Lane still a veritable cauldron of anticipatory noise, Defoe produced a moment of sheer class to stun the champions.

Under pressure from Crouch as he tried to deal with a long ball into the United box, Nemanja Vidic could only head into the air and Defoe pounced to dispatch a magnificent overhead kick into the bottom corner from eight yards.

The occasionally unplayable Crouch went close with two long-range volleys, but as the game wore on the influence of Scholes and Giggs gradually increased and with 25 minutes on the clock, the Welsh wizard conjured up yet another memorable moment in his stellar career.

After Dimitar Berbatov had been brought down by Wilson Palacios, the 35-year-old bent a quite wonderful free-kick into Carlo Cuducini's top corner to keep up his record of scoring in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992.

United were suddenly flying and - prompted by Scholes - some of their football was an absolute joy to behold. In the space of 10 seconds, Cudicini saved from Rooney, Berbatov's shot was blocked on the line by Sebastien Bassong and the Bulgarian then fired over.

The visitors deserved to go in front, but when they did their goal came from a most unlikely source.

A corner from the United right was half-cleared to Scholes and after his shot hit Ledley King, Anderson rifled in his first competitive United goal in his 76th appearance from the edge of the box.

Spurs needed half-time to reassess and the introduction of Jermaine Jenas almost paid immediate dividends, but after he teed up Robbie Keane to shoot the striker's effort was expertly deflected over by Vidic.

Jenas himself went close when Foster tipped away his curling 25-yarder, before Crouch rose highest to power a header against the United crossbar as Spurs piled the pressure on.

United's task appeared to get harder when Scholes was dismissed by referee Andre Marriner for two fouls, the second a very harsh decision after a collision with Tom Huddlestone.

But United and Rooney in particular were proving a real menace on the break and after he saw one shot tipped against the bar by Cudicini, he settled it with their next attack.

Fletcher's long-range pass found Rooney outside the Spurs box and he easily foxed Alan Hutton before keeping his cool to slot between the legs of the advancing Cudicini.

Ominously for the rest of the league, United - so often slow starters - moved up to second in the Premier League.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Adebayor 'sorry' for celebration

Emmanuel Adebayor has apologised for baiting Arsenal fans after scoring in Manchester City's 4-2 win at Eastlands.

The former Gunners striker, who joined City in the summer, ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of visiting fans, who reacted furiously.

But after Saturday's game, the Togo international said: "The emotion took over me. Now I just have to say sorry."

He also clashed with Robin Van Persie during the game, his right boot catching the Dutchman in the face.

Adebayor, who was booked for his inflammatory celebration after making it 3-1 to the home side with 10 minutes to go, escaped punishment following the incident, which left Van Persie with a cut to the left side of his face.

Arsenal lacked sharpness - Wenger

But the Football Association may decide to act once it has reviewed television footage.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said he wanted to see a replay before deciding whether there was any intent on Adebayor's behalf.

"I didn't really see what happened," said the Frenchman.

"I have to see it again to see if it was on purpose or not. I can't say anything at the moment."

City boss Mark Hughes also said he had not seen the incident but admitted he would be disappointed if it was allowed to overshadow a thrilling victory, in which five goals were scored in an amazing half-hour blitz in the second half.

"We are hopeful that the game itself will be the shining light rather than any one incident," said Hughes.

"We do not want it to cast a shadow on an outstanding game, but we will have to see what happens."

City were leading through Manuel Almunia's bizarre own-goal when Van Persie equalised.

Craig Bellamy then put the home side in front before Adebayor got his name on the scoresheet and embarked on his ill-judged celebrations.

"When I score a goal, for two or three seconds I can't control myself," he said. "To be honest, I'm very sorry for all this.

Important win for Man City - Hughes

"Before the game, people have been saying and writing things. The emotions took over. People who love me and know me know how I behave."

Hughes preferred to concentrate on the positives rather than castigate Adebayor, who cost City £25m.

"Emmanuel was outstanding today," said the City boss.

"Amid some high quality goals, perhaps the best piece of skill was his run down the byline to set up Shaun Wright-Phillips for the chance he missed.

"If that had gone in, it would have been goal of the season. He is an outstanding talent and the best in the world at what he does."

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Liverpool 4 - 0 Burnley

A Yossi Benayoun hat-trick inspired a dominant Liverpool to a comfortable victory over Burnley at Anfield.

The midfielder cut inside Graham Alexander and slid in a shot across keeper Brian Jensen for the opener.

Jensen could only parry Benayoun's shot at the end of a swift counter-attack and Dirk Kuyt slotted in the loose ball to extend the Reds' lead.

Benayoun then twice tapped in Steven Gerrard and Andriy Voronin passes to round off an impressive display.

The creativity produced by Israeli international Benayoun showed he can help ease the pressure on Gerrard and Fernando Torres and provided a contrast to keeper Pepe Reina's forthright words ahead of the match.Benitez praises clever Benayoun

Reina claimed winning the Premier League was "not a realistic option" for the Reds as he revealed there was an air of "resignation" at the lack of funds spent on the squad.

He also cited an absence of enough players of "vision" at Liverpool compared to the Anfield side's rivals.

The lack of players to open up defences against teams like Burnley cost the Reds dearly last season as they twice drew with newly-promoted sides at home and dropped four points, which would have won them the title.

Benayoun - whether riled by Reina's words or not - appeared determined to prove his team-mate wrong.

He latched on to an angled Glen Johnson ball and cut inside Alexander before side footing in a shot across Jensen for his first.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez has always emphasised the importance of his side getting the opening goal to bring teams out of their shell and so it proved.

Burnley pushed forward more after going a goal down and were caught out as Liverpool sucked them in before going up the other end and scoring - Kuyt side footing in after Benayoun's shot was only parried by Jensen.

There were chants of 'where is Traore' from Burnley fans in reference to former Reds defender Djimi Traore's own goal for them when they knocked Liverpool out of the 2005 FA Cup.

But there was little threat of them instigating any such humiliation this time around.

Two Martin Paterson long-range strikes were Burnley's only threat but they were comfortably gathered by Reina as Liverpool rarely looked in trouble.

Burnley will stick to good football - Coyle

Gerrard, playing in a deeper midfield role with Javier Mascherano missing, still made an impact in attack as he forced his way into the Burnley box before squaring a ball for Benayoun to tap in.

An unmarked Benayoun again eased in from close range after Voronin's pass to emphasise the emphatic nature of the victory, while a clean sheet will also please Benitez after the side's recent struggles in defence.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Hamilton storms to Italian pole

Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning late lap to snatch pole position for the Italian Grand Prix in his McLaren.

The world champion stormed to a time of one minute 24.066 seconds to wrestle the position from Force India's Adrian Sutil, who was 0.195secs behind.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen followed in third ahead of Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and the Brawn cars of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.

Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber managed only ninth and 10th.

And the title hopefuls, who trail Button by 16 points in the drivers' championship, will not be comforted by the fact their fuel weights - which show the true pace of the cars with the amount of fuel on board taken into account - reveal they were 8th and 10th fastest on the day.

However, with the top 10 appearing to be split between one and two-stop strategies and a mere 0.7seconds separating the fuel-corrected pace of the top four cars, a fascinating encounter looks to be in store on Sunday.

Interview - top three drivers on grid (UK only)

Hamilton, who is to make two fuel stops compared to the Brawns' one, made the most of his lighter fuel load as he ran a late flying lap to pip Sutil - who himself had only just posted a lap of 1:24.261 - into second spot.

"That was a very close qualifying session, but the team did a great job this weekend. The car was feeling very good this weekend and I was able to put the lap together," said Hamilton.

"It's such a great feeling when you can put one lap together. We have to wait and see what the strategies are for everyone tomorrow, but we needed to be where we are.

"We're in the best position to start the race, and it's great to have Kers (power-boost) so I can boost off the line, be clear of any incident, and try to control it from there."

As expected, the McLarens and Ferrari's leading driver Raikkonen were boosted by their Kers system, with Monza boasting a full-throttle percentage of up to 70%, and the Finn gave the home fans something to cheer in securing a second-row spot ahead of compatriot Kovalainen.

But the happiest team on the grid could well be Brawn - with Button looking to have found his form again having watched his drivers' championship lead cut from a peak of 26 points in June after five races without a podium finish.

Team boss Ross Brawn said: "We are very happy with our positions, especially because of our strategy. It's a pretty perfect position to be honest."

And Button could barely hide his delight as he revealed: "We are pretty heavy. I don't know how much fuel they can get into the Red Bulls but we will see.

"The car felt good and I am happy. The tyre temperature will not be an issue - we are not having any problems getting heat into them - and all the Kers cars are in front of us as well, so all in all it's been a good session for us."

Barrichello, though, faces an anxious wait to see if his team recommend a gearbox change that would cost him a five-grid penalty.

The Brazilian first encountered the problem in Spa, when he crossed the line with his car emitting smoke, and there are doubts it can last the race on Sunday.

"It felt alright," he said, "but sometimes you are a single person fighting with 50 of them in the factory. If they tell me I cannot race with it then I cannot say no."

Webber, meanwhile, conceded the qualifying result was the best he and Vettel could have hoped for.

"It was probably pretty close to what we expected," said the Australian.

"We can't pass the Kers cars on the grid, we know that, so we will have to try something with the pit stops. That was as good as it could have got."

Elsewhere, Ferrari debutant Giancarlo Fisichella, having crashed out of final practice after locking his front-right tyre round Parabolica, was a high-profile casualty in Q2 as he had to settle for 14th on the grid.

And the contrast with his old team Force India could hardly have been more marked, with India billionaire Vijay Mallya's team getting both drivers into Q3 for the first time in Formula 1.

With Sutil second on the grid, Vitantonio Liuzzi produced an excellent qualifying performance on his Force India debut, beating Renault's Fernando Alonso into eighth with an impressive lap of 1:25.043.

The most surprising casualties of the second qualifying session, though, were the two BMWs, who had been tipped to surprise the front-runners by Red Bull boss Christian Horner on Friday morning.

Brawn and team happy with qualifying

Nick Heidfeld suffered engine trouble at the start of Q2, his seventh of the season, and shortly after the same problem struck team-mate Robert Kubica.

That leaves both with just one new engine to last them for the rest of the season given the eight-engine limit imposed upon teams in this campaign.

Williams, aware this weekend was most likely all about damage limitation from the outset given their struggles on the low downforce Monza circuit, lost both Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg in Q1 - their worst qualifying result of the season - joining Toyota's Timo Glock and the two Toro Rossos at the back of the grid.

source: bbc and link

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Stoke 1 - 2 Chelsea

Florent Malouda struck deep in stoppage time as Chelsea claimed a last-gasp victory over Stoke and maintained their 100% start to the season.

The hosts took a surprise lead when Abdoulaye Faye capitalised on Petr Cech's indecision by heading Glenn Whelan's cross into an empty net.

Chelsea replied in first-half injury time, Didier Drogba spinning Faye and smashing home Frank Lampard's pass.

They bombarded Stoke late on and Malouda drove in a 94th minute winner.

It was a dramatic end to a pulsating encounter and the result, which Chelsea deserved, keeps the Blues top of the league with five wins from as many games.

Given the number of chances they created in the second half, boss Carlo Ancelotti will wonder how his side failed to confirm the three points earlier.

But, considering the recent bad press the club have received in relation to their recruitment policy, the win provides them with a timely boost.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis might though take consolation from the way his side defended throughout and, although they drop out of the top six, their performance suggested a promising season ahead.

Attempting to guide his club to a first league win against Chelsea since 1975, Pulis opted to dispense with his trusted 4-4-2 formation in favour of a 5-3-2, which was designed to combat marauding full-backs Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole.

And, although Chelsea dominated possession in the opening stages, Stoke rarely looked in danger of conceding.

Perhaps considering Tuesday's Champions League opener against Porto, Ancelotti made four changes to the team that beat Burnley last time out and Chelsea struggled to establish any sort of rhythm early on.

Pulis desperately disappointed

They might have gone behind inside 10 minutes when Branislav Ivanovic inexplicably diverted a long ball into the path of James Beattie.

Beattie, returning from three weeks out with a knee injury, raced through on goal but dragged his shot horribly wide and, to make matters worse, fell awkwardly in the process and had to be substituted.

Chelsea had been warned and, despite enjoying a period of sustained pressure, they were soon punished.

Whelan collected possession on the right and sent in a hopeful left-footed cross which Cech came for but then withdrew, allowing Faye to head home.

Chelsea responded positively to the set-back and continued to take the game to a Stoke side who were defending ominously deep.

Cole shot straight at Thomas Sorensen from an acute angle and Jon Mikel Obi had a thumping drive bravely blocked by former Blues centre-half Robert Huth.

Injuries to Beattie, Cole and Sorensen saw eight minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the first half, and Chelsea used it as an opportunity to strike.

Ancelotti praises Chelsea strength

Lampard was able to get away from Whelan and slide a delicious ball through to Drogba, who rolled Faye and unleashed a thunderous first-time left-footed drive across substitute goalkeeper Steve Simonsen and into the top corner.

Chelsea started the second half as they finished the first and, were it not for Stoke's resilience, the Blues might have seen their dominance reflected on the scoresheet.

Salomon Kalou came within inches of connecting with a Malouda centre and Drogba blasted over the bar after Faye hesitated with his clearance.

A temporary lull ensued but Stoke almost regained the lead when Huth rose above Michael Ballack and headed just over from Whelan's corner.

But it was all Chelsea from that moment on, Lampard and Michael Essien squandered a couple of chances each before Drogba had a goal-bound effort blocked by Faye.

The visitors were flooding forward but found themselves repelled time and again until Simonsen failed to keep out a fizzing Malouda effort at the death.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:"The result is disappointing for us because we battled really hard and defended well.

"They had a lot of possession second half and got a lot of bodies forward. We have given them a game and made them work hard.

"We haven't got the quality Chelsea have. I hold my hands up to that. They are a very good side.

"But our attitude and commitment and everyone's willingness to work will take us a long way."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti:"We got what we deserved because we tried to attack all the time. I am very happy because it was a difficult game.

"We maintained good control throughout the match and that was important. We applied a lot of pressure and were rewarded for our play.

"We know all about Stoke and were not surprised by the way they play. We were ready for a physical match and knew how to deal with the long ball.

"To be top of the league is very important. We have good confidence in our play and a very good atmosphere in the dressing room."

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 12th September 2009

Capello can plot World Cup glory

Fabio Capello makes managing England look easy - and he stepped just as comfortably into the hazardous minefield of managing England's World Cup expectations.

Capello swept swiftly into Wembley's media theatre only minutes after England booked a place in South Africa next summer with a performance he ranked as the best of his reign by beating Croatia 5-1.

There was no bad news for Capello after an England display that bore all the hallmarks of a team that could make a serious impact in South Africa - except that it was of such high quality that hopes, dreams and hype could now grow out of all proportion. Again.

The question inevitably, and correctly, came and Capello's handling of it was as sure as all the moves he has made in rebuilding a broken England and piecing together a squad that can take genuine optimism with it on the plane to South Africa.

Are England contenders to win the World Cup?

The trademark Italian shrug, the response deadpan but delivered with conviction: "Yes, why not?"

And you believed him. In the same way as England's players believe in the methods of Capello, a coach who commands nothing except total respect from every member of his squad, with just a little fear thrown in for good measure.

He is comfortable with what is coming, the demand that England end the flatlining years of falling in the last eight at major tournaments, saying: "The expectation is really hard. We have to play to win because we are England. We are one of the best teams in the world. We can play against all the best teams."

So there you have it. Not building a nation's hopes up but not exactly knocking them down either. Not getting carried away but not underplaying the hand he has in front of him.

Playing it to perfection in fact.

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, wearing the sort of stunned, glassy-eyed expression worn by old cartoon characters seconds after their head has made meaningful contact with a frying pan, was unequivocal when I asked him if England could win the World Cup based on the mauling his side had just received.

"Based on this match, definitely. It is not easy to play against every team like they did here, but I was on the touchline and they didn't miss a ball in the first half hour. The balls were always dangerous - just perfect."

Of course England can win the World Cup - whether they will is another matter entirely because they have been here before at recent major tournaments. False dawns a speciality.

But they have not been here before under Capello and the coach's reputation alone will make England's rivals wary in South Africa.

Capello accepts that qualification is only the first staging post on the journey the Football Association asked him to embark upon as he navigated his way through the wreckage of the Steve McClaren era.

The image of McClaren covering his embarrassment with an umbrella as England's Euro 2008 hopes, and indeed his job, slipped away against these same opponents in November 2007 seemed an age away as Wembley basked in a glorious night.

The bonus of early qualification allows Capello valuable extra time to pore over his blueprint for success in South Africa - and he had plenty to go at after England took Croatia to the cleaners in the most comprehensive fashion.

Capello was given food for thought, with Aaron Lennon providing the most palatable after a performance that suggested he has now made the leap from infuriating under-achiever to finished article.

He was Capello's only change from the England side that laboured to victory against Slovenia. And what a change it was.

If Arsenal's Theo Walcott was the catalyst for England's 4-1 win in Zagreb with a hat-trick that suggested Capello might be on to a good thing, then the Tottenham winger took top billing here and in doing so opened up some intriguing selection possibilities.

Lennon was electrifying in the game's crucial opening phases, winning a penalty for Frank Lampard to score and showing genuine end product, a major criticism in the past, to set up Steven Gerrard's first header.

It appeared his instructions from Capello were simple - run straight at Croatia with pace and terrify them - and he carried them out to the letter. And Capello likes it when players follow his instructions.

Lennon's display was not great news for the discarded Shaun Wright-Phillips, and with Walcott on course to return for Arsenal, where does this leave David Beckham?

Beckham was afforded his usual rapturous reception at Wembley, but if the wily combination of Capello and Harry Redknapp at Spurs have pressed the right buttons with Lennon and Walcott hits form at Arsenal, the old timer may have a fight on his hands to make the plane.

Capello has also got England's midfield in good working order, a trick that escaped Sven-Goran Eriksson and McClaren. Two goals each for Lampard and Gerrard provided

Gerrard still has to win over some England supporters, but the very notion of a Capello side without the Liverpool captain is laughable.

He is now flourishing in a role which is seen as left-sided, but which in reality gives him free rein to push up alongside or just behind Wayne Rooney when England are in possession. Gerrard will be feared by England's World Cup opponents - no mistake.

It throws extra responsibility on Ashley Cole, but as the Chelsea defender is back at his best the format worked like a charm against Croatia. It may be tested by more accomplished opposition, but Capello now has time to experiment further, with Joe Cole ready to press his claims later in the season.

Capello, as expected, retained faith with Emile Heskey and the big man provided ammunition for both his admirers and detractors, working hard and keeping Croatia occupied but bungling two easy opportunities that came his way. All Heskey life was there.

The enthusiastic greeting Capello gave Heskey when he came off renders all arguments about his place in England's plans redundant. He will be in them.

Heskey is a striker, however, and it is only right that he should actually be expected to strike just occasionally, something he shows little sign of doing.

What if the one chance of a tightly contested quarter-final falls to the less-than-clinical Heskey? This is the major risk Capello is taking with his continued selection, but he is not for turning and, barring injury or catastrophic loss of form, Heskey will be in South Africa.

Capello can now go into overdrive on getting England's goalkeeping position straight - and for all the questions about Glen Johnson, he will be the right-back. He improved defensively against an admittedly poor Croatia, and showed his progressive nature by setting up a goal for Lampard.

And he will be aware of the threats from outside England. Spain currently look the most complete side in world football and gave Capello's side a lesson in their last meeting, while the hugely-gifted and powerful Ghana have been touted to lead a serious African challenge.

But if England fans are attempting to detect the greatest hope that they might actually be in at the sharp end in South Africa, it comes in the shape of their coach.

This is no Eriksson, who was horribly inert when it mattered in quarter-finals in Shizuoka, Japan, Lisbon and appeared to conduct the 2006 World Cup campaign in Germany on a wing and a prayer.

England's adversaries know they are being overseen by a coach to be reckoned with, someone with the expertise, experience and confidence to plan a campaign meticulously.

Capello will keep a lid on the hype and hope for luck with injuries - especially to the mercurial Wayne Rooney.

But a flawless qualifying campaign containing eight straight wins suggests just a little hope is justified that England might be ready to give the football world a run for its money in South Africa.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 10th September 2009

England 5-1 Croatia

England secured qualification for next summer's World Cup in South Africa in the most emphatic style as they thrashed Croatia at Wembley.

The goalless stalemate between Belarus and Ukraine left England needing only a draw to confirm their place in South Africa - but they emphasised their progress under Capello with an outstanding display to record an eighth successive win of a flawless qualifying campaign.

Croatia ended England's hopes of reaching Euro 2008 under Capello's predecessor Steve McClaren by winning at Wembley, but there was never any chance of a repeat in an encounter that was totally one-sided from the opening exchanges.

England have taken huge strides forward under Capello since that rain-soaked night in November 2007 and the end of the McClaren reign, while Croatia are a pale shadow of the side Slaven Bilic brought to Wembley for their previous visit.

And the gulf in class between the two teams was immediately obvious - even accounting for the absence of Croatia's gifted playmaker Luka Modric.

Spurs winger Aaron Lennon made an early claim for a place on England's right flank in next summer's South African showpiece with an electrifying first 45 minutes that set the platform for victory.

Lennon, jostling for position with David Beckham, Theo Walcott and Shaun-Wright Phillips, was hauled down by Josip Simunic for Frank Lampard to put England ahead from the penalty spot after seven minutes.

He then delivered the perfect cross for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to double England's lead with a firm header at the far post 11 minutes later.

England continued to create chances and only Croatia keeper Vedran Runje's defiance stopped them adding further goals before the interval.

Lampard got his second just before the hour when he headed in Glen Johnson's excellent cross and Gerrard grabbed a double of his own in similar fashion from Wayne Rooney's lofted cross seven minutes later.

Arsenal striker Eduardo - jeered constantly by the Wembley crowd as the fall-out from his alleged dive against Celtic continues - grabbed a goal back for Croatia from close range with 18 minutes left, but to even label it a form of consolation would be generous in the extreme.

Rooney deservedly got on the scoresheet himself when he took advantage of a wild sliced clearance from the unfortunate Runje to score.

After the early goals from Lampard and Gerrard, Emile Heskey - preferred to Jermain Defoe - could have boosted his own confidence with a goal, but he was twice denied by Runje when clean through.

These were minor blots on England's landscape and Heskey was given a thumping greeting of thanks from Capello when he was eventually replaced by Defoe after Lampard scored his second.

The swift double strike from Lampard and Gerrard snuffed out any hopes of a Croatia recovery, and even the muted celebrations of their colourful travelling support after Eduardo's strike were swiftly snuffed out when Rooney scored England's fifth.

Even hard-to-please Capello cracked smiles in his technical area, while Bilic cut a miserable figure yards away as the scene of one of his greatest triumphs turned into a nightmare.

And if England needed any further boost to the optimism that will travel with them to South Africa, the manner and scale of this victory will provide it.

England have scored 31 goals and conceded only five in a qualifying campaign that has done much to erase the bitter memories of the failure to reach Euro 2008.

A group that was initially regarded as potentially dangerous has been expertly and convincingly negotiated, with barely any hazards to block England's smooth progress.

Capello has rebuilt the confidence and morale of a squad shattered after that experience, and while qualification for South Africa is only the first phase of the Italian's mission, England will go to the World Cup with serious aspirations of making a major impact.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2009

Cameroon ease into top spot

Cameroon have taken another big step towards qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

They secured a 2-1 win over Gabon in Yaounde with another impressive display, although they had to resist a late revival from the visitors.

Cameroon have been refreshed since the appointment of French coach Paul Le Guen.

They now lead Group A by a point from Gabon with two matches of the qualifying campaign remaining.

Cameroon's Lyon star Jean Makoun broke the deadlock when he fired home from a free-kick in the 24th minute.

The lead was well deserved by the Indomitable Lions and they continued to put pressure on, without further success before half-time.

After the break, captain Samuel Eto'o extended the Cameroon lead when he pounced on a parried shot from Achille Webo.

It was Eto'o's eighth goal of the qualifying campaign.

A frantic finish was set-up when Gabonese substitute Daniel Cousin fired home in stoppage time to make it 2-1.

The Hull City striker then put a late free-kick just over the bar, but Cameroon held on despite the late onslaught and go top in their group.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen restored ousted former captain Rigobert Song to the starting line-up.

He had been dropped to the bench for the game between the two teams at the weekend.

His nephew Alex Song was also back in the side, returning after suspension.

But striker Samuel Eto'o kept the captain's armband.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2009

Semenya to keep World gold medal

Caster Semenya will not be stripped of her World Championships 800m gold medal whatever the outcome of her gender test results, BBC Sport understands.

The testing process is unlikely to be concluded for two weeks but the IAAF - the governing body of world athletics - says Semenya can keep her medal.

The 18-year-old South African was asked to take the test following her rapid rise to prominence in 2009.

News of it was made public hours before she took gold in Berlin in August.

Despite the leak, the teenager left her rivals trailing to win in a time of one minute, 55.45 seconds.

Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya was second, a massive 2.45 seconds adrift, with Britain's Jenny Meadows taking bronze.

The International Association of Athletics Federations says it demanded Semenya take a gender test before the World Championships amid fears she should not be able to run as a woman.

Following the findings of initial tests, the IAAF then asked the South Africans to withdraw her from their team for Germany.

Caster Semenya wins 800m gold in Berlin

However, the South African athletics federation insisted she should run and says it is certain she is female, a claim backed up by her family.

Now, given that she was ultimately allowed to compete, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said it would be "legally very difficult" to ask Semenya to hand back her medal.

Semenya burst on to the world stage when she ran 1.56.72 in Bambous, Mauritius, in July, smashing her previous personal best by more than seven seconds.

She also broke Zola Budd's long-standing South African record and arrived in Berlin as the newly crowned African junior champion.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 8th September 2009

Fifa issues warning over SA vote

Fifa has warned that elections for South Africa's Football Association (Safa) must not be allowed to disrupt preparations for the World Cup.

The two most senior members of the World Cup 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) are locked in a tussle to take over as Safa president.

The Chairman of the LOC, Irvin Khoza, is up against its CEO, Danny Jordaan.

Whoever wins will have to delay taking up the role or relinquish his responsibilities for the World Cup.

Fifa's General Secretary, Jerome Valcke, said the Safa president could not serve in an executive position on the LOC.

"We will be there, we will monitor very carefully these elections," he said.

Molefi Olifant, the current Safa President, is stepping down.

Preparations for the World Cup were on the agenda at an LOC Board meeting on Tuesday.

Danny Jordaan said stadiums were "85 to 95 percent" completed and would meet their October deadline.

Thousands of people have volunteered to help at the tournament, from 170 countries.

"That gives us the feeling that the world is beginning to feel the excitement, the momentum of the World Cup," Jordaan said.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 8th September 2009

Man Utd threaten to sue Le Havre

Manchester United say they will take legal action against Le Havre unless they stop making allegations about the transfer of 16-year-old Paul Pogba.

The French club have this week repeated claims that United offered financial inducements to Pogba's family in order to lure the teenager to Old Trafford.

But United are satisfied the transfer was completed within Fifa guidelines.

"Manchester United is ready to defend any claim brought against it by Le Havre at Fifa," said a club statement.

Fifa, world football's governing body, says it has received no complaint about United's signing of the 16-year-old French midfielder.

And the Old Trafford club wrote to Le Havre on Monday warning the French side against making further accusations.

"In response to the wholly unfounded comments widely reported in the media of Le Havre AC President, Jean-Pierre Louvel, Manchester United wish to categorically confirm that as a matter of club policy and in accordance with the applicable football regulations, we do not offer inducements to the parents of players who sign for the club such as monetary payments or the purchase of houses," added a United statement.

"Manchester United have written to Le Havre AC to put it on notice that action will be taken if such allegations are repeated in relation to the transfer of Paul Pogba.

"Manchester United is entirely satisfied that the transfer of Paul Pogba has been conducted in accordance with the regulations set down by the world governing body, Fifa.

"It is to be noted that all contractual documentation relating to the player's registration with the club has already been fully ratified by the Football Association and the Premier League."

Le Havre, though, have revealed that their legal team is preparing a case to take to Fifa.

"The matter is with our lawyers right now and it is up to them what we do in regard to Fifa. But I can assure you we fully intend to defend our club's interests," Le Havre's managing director Alain Belsoeur told BBC Sport.

Belsoeur also claims that the French Football Federation (FFF) has yet to sanction to transfer.

"All I will say now is that when things are done properly in football, transfers between clubs in different countries are cleared by both the local association and the new association," he said.

"That has not happened in this case. The French Football Federation has not granted an international clearance certificate for Paul Pogba's move to Manchester United."

One of the most highly rated teenagers in France, Pogba has captained the national team at Under-16 level.

Le Havre have an outstanding reputation in developing young players, nurturing players like Real Madrid's Lassana Diarra and Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia as well as Atletico Madrid's Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who moved from the French club to Liverpool, before going to Spain.

Players from European Union countries are able to move to Britain on academy or scholarship contracts at 16, and to sign full professional contracts at 17.

By signing a player under the age of 18, the buying club minimises the level of compensation the selling club will get.

Le Havre, who were relegated to the French second division last season, claim an agreement between the club, Pogba and his parents was in place for the player to stay until the end of the 2009/2010 season.

In August the French club released a statement on their website - under the heading 'Manchester United steal Paul Pogba from HAC (Le Havre)' - which said: "Le Havre wishes to express its indignation regarding the dealings of Manchester United's directors in relation to the young Paul Pogba.

"The player and his parents refused to keep the arrangement because Manchester United offered very high sums of money to the parents of the (player) with the aim of obtaining the transfer of their son.

"At a time when numerous parties - including at European Union level, governmental (level), or within Fifa or Uefa - are speaking out against the 'trading of minors,' Manchester United does not hesitate to uproot a 16-year-old kid."

But United officials suggested that there was no contract for the 16-year-old to break, therefore the Red Devils could not be offering inducements to do so.

Le Havre repeated those allegations in the wake of a transfer ban imposed on Chelsea last week for a similar infringement of the rules.

Chelsea have been banned from signing any new players until January 2011 after the club was found guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens in 2007.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 7th September 2009

Ghana celebrates 2010 success

There is no escaping Black Stars fever at the moment in Ghana.

For days to come Ghana's qualification for the 2010 world cup on home soil in Accra will dominate discussions in this football mad-nation.

But the players and coach are already saying it's time to move on and plan how they can improve on their showing at the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

The scenes in Accra were nothing compared to those across the country when the Black Stars reached Germany.

But the crucial 2-0 victory over Sudan was achieved before a passionate and enthusiastic crowd accompanied by constant drumming, dancing and the sounds of the now famous vuvuzelas.

That party atmosphere had begun with the news that Benin grabbed a last gasp goal to ensure a draw against Mali a few minutes before kick-off in Accra.

So after years of frustration at their inability to reach the biggest football showpiece event in the world, Ghana is heading there for a second consecutive time and the country is basking in the glory.

And they have achieved qualification in some style with two games to spare, winning all four games in the final stage of qualifying without conceding a single goal.

 The Black Stars have managed to be efficient without being spectacular under coach Milovan Rajevac.

"I am very proud because after four games we scored seven goals and didn't concede any goal," he told BBC Sport, after he had been soaked in champagne by his players.

"This is my greatest success as a coach and I hope there are going to be many more."

Ghana's qualification for the 2010 world cup was achieved on the back of a solid team effort but there is no denying that once again Michael Essien was the star of the show.

He drove the team forward with his energy in previous games and struck the second goal against Sudan that raised the noise level at the Ohene Djan to deafening levels.

The Chelsea star was carried off the pitch on the shoulders of his team-mates, but was quick to insist the real work starts now.

"We must take it easy because we have a game to play on Wednesday [against Japan in Holland]," he told BBC Sport.

"But I really feel good because we did a lot of work for this.

"We have been there before so we will go to South Africa with a lot more experience and not in fear of anyone."

Captain Stephen Appiah was singing a similar tune declaring after the frenzied celebrations that there is 'no way' the Black Stars will fear any team in South Africa.

They seem to know that the hard work is yet to come.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 7th September 2009

Russia's Obama defies racists

Some might call him brave, others naive, or even reckless, but the one thing Joachim Crima is not is ordinary. He is black, and he is Russian.

And now this watermelon seller, and former student from Guinea Bissau, is attempting to become the first black man ever to be elected to public office in Russia.

Mr Crima has become an overnight media sensation here. On the day I visited him in his home town Srednyaya Akhtuba in southern Russia, two other TV crews were with him. The next day two more were due in town.

The country's newspapers have dubbed him Russia's Barack Obama. The implication is that Russians could be ready to elect a black man, even if it is only for a local county council.

Mr Crima's optimism and exuberance are infectious. As I followed him around the local market you could see people warming to him.

Even the dour country folk found it hard to resist his warm smile and open hand as, in lilting Russian, he joked and bantered with the stall holders.

"Good for you," said one tall man leaning against his Lada car "we need new leaders in this place".

Battle ahead

"At first people thought I was joking," Mr Crima told me. "They asked me if I was doing this to promote my business. But now I am a registered candidate they take me more seriously."

 

And he is optimistic that he can win: "There is a chance of winning because I see the way people react to me," he told me.

But to do so Mr Crima has a massive mountain to climb.

In his election slogan "I will work like a negro for Russia" Mr Crima adopts a word commonly used a racial slur.

It is an acknowledgement of what everyone here knows, that racial prejudice in Russia is as common as Ladas are. Some have even joked that his election slogan should be changed to "No we can't".

It was all supposed to be very different. The Soviet Union touted itself as a friend of Africa - hundreds of thousands of African students were encouraged to come here to study, and thousands still do every year.

But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, attitudes to immigrants have soured, and a vicious neo-Nazi movement has grown among Russia's disillusioned youth.

Now Africans living in Russia's big cities, which include refugees fleeing war and economic migrants looking for a better life, live in constant fear of being attacked.

Bodyguard

In Moscow I met a Nigerian man who had fallen victim to such an attack.

As he was being examined by an American doctor I could see a series of huge grey scars running down his side and across his back, the result of a brutal knife and gun assault two months ago.

"I was on the phone to my girlfriend when they jumped on me and stabbed me in the back," he told me. "I was stabbed through the side, and then I heard a gunshot and that prompted me to run."

 

He was lucky to be found and taken to hospital, but the attack has left him in deep despair.

"We Africans in Moscow live in fear and pain," he told me. "Coming to Russia was the worst decision of my life... the worst mistake of my life."

Sadly he is not alone. Recent research by the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy suggests nearly 60% of Africans living in Moscow have been physically assaulted.

It is hard to believe, but this is actually an improvement on 10 years ago. Back then the idea of a black man standing for election in Russia would have been unthinkable.

"Sooner or later things will improve in Russia," Mr Crima told me. "I am now a pioneer on this evolutionary path. There will come a time when the racists may even stand before me and say thank you for what I have done."

In the meantime Mr Crima is not taking any chances - as he walks the streets of his home town touting for votes his bodyguard, a huge kick-boxer with vicious looking tattoos on his arms, is never far from his side.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 6th September 2009

Angola: Final frontier for fossils

In the past, most people who went to Angola were searching for oil, diamonds or landmines.

Now, the country is also proving a big draw for fossil hunters - known in the scientific community as palaeontologists - who have described Angola as a "museum in the ground".

Angola was closed off for many years because of its three-decade long civil war, which only ended in 2002, so few scientists have had the chance to visit.

Those getting the chance now are not leaving disappointed. Louis Jacobs, of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, says:

"Angola is the final frontier for palaeontology. Due to the war, there has been little research carried out... but now we are getting in finally and there is so much to find.

"In some areas there are literally fossils sticking out of the rocks, it is like a museum in the ground."

Fossil-hunter heaven

Louis Jacobs is part of the "PaleoAngola" project whose biggest find to date was in 2005, when five bones from the front-left leg of a sauropod dinosaur were discovered on a cliff at Iembe, around 65 km (40 miles) north of the capital, Luanda.

 

Since then, the majority of the skulls and skeletons uncovered by the team have been from turtles, sharks, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, of which there is even an angolasauras species.

Plesiosaurs and mosasaurs are not technically terrestrial dinosaurs at all but marine reptiles related to lizards and snakes.

Yet according to Octavio Mateus, from the Lisbon's New University, the bones of the sauropod are just the beginning.

"We believe there are more dinosaurs to be found, we just need the facilities and means to dig for them," he says.

"Angola is amazing for fossils. Some of the places here are the best in the world in terms of fossil [remains], we keep finding new animals so it is always exciting to be here."

As well as unearthing interesting fossils, the study of palaeontology is also about understanding how the Earth was transformed tens of millions of years ago.

For example, when South America split from Africa and the southern Atlantic was formed.

"Fossils can date how animals migrated from one place to another and how continents moved through time," Mr Mateus says.

"From [studying] fossils we can work out when terrestrial animals were no longer able to cross from Africa to South America and when marine animals were present," he says.

Asteroid impact

The rocks are also a reference point for the time when creatures like dinosaurs were thought to have been made extinct.

 

The scientific community largely accepts the theory that a massive asteroid hit the Earth 68 million years ago, slamming into the sea somewhere near Mexico.

"You can see where lava has flown into wet sand and then to where it has flown over dry land. That gives us an indication of when different things were happening millions of years ago," Mr Mateus explains.

The PaleoAngola project, with funding from the National Geographical Society and the Petroleum Research Foundation of America, is also working in collaboration with universities in Luanda, Lubango and in Maastricht in the Netherlands.

The Angola digs have focussed on Iembe and also at the coast of Bentiaba, in the southern desert province of Namibe, on the border with Namibia.

"As well as doing this research, the idea is to train Angolan scientists so in the long-term they can run the show," Louis Jacobs, a former head of Kenya's National Palentology Museum, says.

"Angola should be able to use its own unique resources in museums to teach future generations about their country and the world.

"And who knows, in the much longer term, it could prove to be a tourist attraction."

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 6th September 2009

Togo move to the top of Group A

Togo go top of Group A with a 1-0 victory over Morocco in Lome.

Ghana's hopes of becoming the first African country to qualify for the 2010 World Cup remain alive after Mali held Benin to a 1-1 draw in Cotonou.

Egypt and Cameroon both won away from home to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Cameroon scored two quick goals to beat Gabon 2-0, in what was their first home defeat of the 2010 qualifiers.

African champions, Egypt scored in the second half to edge past Rwanda 1-0 in Kigali.

Ivory Coast moved to within one point of reaching their second successive World Cup with a crushing 5-0 win over visitors Burkina Faso.

The victory does make the Elephants the first side to qualify for next year's Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

Malawi earned their first points of the final stage of 2010 qualifying with a 2-1 win over visitors Guinea, but both sides hopes of reaching the World Cup are over.

Nigeria and Tunisia go head-to-head for the lead in Group B.

The five group winners will qualify for the World Cup in South Africa while the top three in each group advance to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

Below is a full round-up of Saturday's results and a look ahead to Sunday's matches.

 

GROUP A

 

Cameroon scored two goals in two minutes to secure a 2-0 win over Gabon in Libreville.

Achille Emana, who plays for Spanish second division side Real Betis, scored the opening goal after 66 minutes.

Samuel Eto'o, who is the new Indomitable Lions captain, made sure of the win moments later.

The goals were Cameroon's first in the final stage of qualifying and takes them to four points from three games, two behind Gabon.

The two sides meet again on 9 September in Yaounde.

The game went ahead in Libreville despite a backdrop of post-election violence in some parts of Gabon.

Ali Bongo, winner of the presidential election that triggered the civil unrest, was among the 20,000 crowd in a national stadium named after his late father and former ruler Omar Bongo.

The match was due to have been played in June but was postponed because of the funeral of Omar Bongo.

Moustapha Salifou struck early in the first half to give Togo a 1-0 lead over Morocco in Lome.

There were no other goals in that game, so Togo go top of Group A with seven points.

Morocco's Nations Cup hopes are looking very precarious as they remain stranded at the bottom of the group with only two points

 

GROUP B

There is a top of the table clash in Abuja as Nigeria play host to Tunisia on Sunday.

 

Nigeria are currently two points behind the Carthage Eagles, but striker John Utaka told the BBC's African sports programme Fast Track that they can overhaul their rivals.

"Playing on our home soil, gives us an opportunity," he said.

"I strongly believe we will beat them; we are not underestimating anybody, but when you are playing at home you know what the fans of Nigeria are like - they expect you to win."

Mozambique edged out Kenya 1-0 in Maputo on Sunday to keep alive the Mambas slim hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.

Tico-Tico scored the only goal of the game in the 67th minute and that win sees Mozambique leapfrog over Kenya into third place in the group.

But Mozambique have a tough game next up in October when they travel to play Nigeria.

 

GROUP C

Reigning African champions Egypt got their qualifying campaign back on track with a 1-0 win in Rwanda.

Al Ahly midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who had come on as a substitute, hammered an Ahmed Fathi pass into the net on 68 minutes before a near-capacity crowd at the 35,000-seat Amahoro Stadium in the Rwandan capital.

The win gives Egypt seven points from four matches and takes them level with Algeria for the time being.

Algeria can move three points clear of Egypt if they can beat Zambia in Blida in the final game of the weekend on Sunday evening.

 

GROUP D

Ghana's Black Stars will secure a place at their second successive World Cup if they can beat visitors Sudan this weekend, after Mali and Benin drew 1-1 in Cotonou.

Ghana reached the 2006 tournament in Germany under Ratomir Dujkovic and another Serb coach, Milovan Rajevac, looks set to repeat the feat.

After labouring to a 1-0 home win over Benin, a Michael Essien-inspired Ghana travelled to Mali and Sudan and returned with impressive 2-0 triumphs.

Another win over Sudan would lift Ghana to a maximum 12 points from four games.

Expectation is high in Ghana and some of the players are less comfortable playing in Accra, rather than their traditional home of Kumasi.

 

Striker Asamoah Gyan came under particular criticism during the Nations Cup in 2008, but he told BBC Fast Track that pressure is something all players have to live with.

"It's our dream to go to the World Cup - but what matters is the three points on Sunday," he said.

"Some times you hear criticism from the crowd because they are expecting more from you and maybe they don't see it.

"People can criticise you but you have to be calm about it."

Mali looked to have spoilt Ghana's World Cup celebration party when Mamadou Samassa scored on his debut in the 72nd minute.

Samassa is a former French youth international who was only cleared to play for Mali three days ago.

Benin's Mohammed Aoudou destroyed Mali's hopes of an away victory when he fired home an equaliser just three minutes from time to earn the hosts a 1-1 draw.

So Mali remains in second place in Group D with five points, while Benin is third with four.

 

GROUP E

The Ivory Coast's 5-0 win over Burkina Faso in Abidjan means the Elephants are just one point away from qualifying for their second successive World Cup.

 

The comprehensive win does mean that the Ivory Coast have qualified for the Nations Cup in Angola next year.

The first goal was an own goal from the Portugal-based Saidou Panandetiguiri after just 12 minutes.

Captain Didier Drogba scored twice in the second half with Barcelona's Yaya Toure and Turkey-based Abdel Kader Keita also finding the target to secure the emphatic win.

Malawi came from behind to beat visitors Guinea 2-1 to grab their first points of the final qualifying stage.

Oumar Kalabane scored for the Syli Nationale in the 37th minute after Malawi failed to deal with a corner.

Malawi coach Kinnah Phirri then made what proved to be an inspired substitution at half time bringing on Chiukepo Msowoya to replace David Banda.

With virtually his first touch of the ball Msowoya equalised for the Flames just two minutes into the second half as his low, hard shot beat Kemoko Camara in the Guinea goal.

Msowoya, who plays his club football in Mozambique, then headed home the winner from an in-swinging corner from Joseph Kamwendo in the 58th minute.

Malawi captain Peter Mponda was happy with the win.

"This is an exciting win as it shows we are still in contention for Angola," he said.

The results mean that neither Malawi nor Guinea can qualify for the World Cup but both are still battling for a place at the Nations Cup.

The Ivory Coast need just a single point from their last two games to earn a spot at the World Cup.

Burkina Faso's only hope is for them to win their last two qualifiers and for the Ivory Coast to lose their last two, even then the Stallions need big wins in order to overhaul the Elephants huge goal difference of plus 12.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 6th September 2009

Fisichella makes Ferrari switch

Giancarlo Fisichella will drive for Ferrari for the rest of the 2009 Formula 1 season before taking a new role as their reserve driver in 2010.

The Italian, 36, will replace Luca Badoer as stand-in for the injured Felipe Massa for the final five races.

"It has always been an ambition," said Fisichella, who has been released from his contract with Force India.

Force India are yet to name a replacement for Fisichella with reserve driver Vitantonio Liuzzi the favourite.

Fisichella, who formerly raced for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Renault and Sauber, will begin his Ferrari career on home soil at the Italian Grand Prix on 13 September.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali confirmed the appointment saying: "We considered what could be his role inside the team in the near future, also taking this year's experiences into account. He will be the reserve driver in 2010.

"We have chosen Fisichella because we can expect him to make a valuable contribution in this final part of the season.

"He has shown, throughout his long career, that he is fast and competitive and we are therefore proud to be able to run an Italian driver in our home race."

Force India team principal Mallya had insisted on Tuesday that he would turn out his regular team for Monza.

But after extensive discussions with Ferrari, Mallya has agreed to release Fisichella from his contract, which was due to expire at the end of the season.

"For any Italian driver, a Ferrari race seat is a long-held dream and for Giancarlo it was no exception," Mallya said. "No-one should stand in the way of this.

"The agreement will secure Fisichella's long-term future with Ferrari and it would be incorrect to jeopardise this.

"We would like to stress that we have not agreed any financial settlement with Ferrari and would like to thank Giancarlo for all his help over the past one-and-a-half seasons and for our first world championship points."

Fisichella's parting gift to Force India was second place at the Belgium Grand Prix, handing the team their first podium and points in their second season in F1.

Even before his impressive performance at Spa-Francorchamps, the 36-year-old had been tipped to replace Badoer, who has struggled since his promotion from Ferrari reserve driver.

Badoer was drafted in to replace Massa, who suffered serious head injuries at the Hungarian Grand Prix, after legendary seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher was forced to shelve his comeback plans.

While Massa is targeting a return in 2010, the Italian team ran out of patience with Badoer, who qualified last at both the European and Belgian GPs.

While Kimi Raikkonen claimed Ferrari's first win of 2009 in Spa, his team-mate trailed in last, nearly 48 seconds slower than the driver in front.

"We wish to thank Luca Badoer for the team spirit he demonstrated in these circumstances," added Domenicali.

"It is a shame he was unable to show his true worth in these last two races, tackled under conditions which anyone would have found difficult."

Fisichella, a veteran of more than 200 grands prix, will be expected to be much more competitive as Ferrari prepare to race in front of their enthusiastic home fans in Monza.

"I am grateful to Vijay Mallya for allowing me this opportunity," said Fisichella, a three-time race winner.

"For Vijay to have allowed it to become a reality is very generous and I hope in my turn I have helped Force India grow up and be on the right path to achieve their own ambitions."

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

Hamilton targets late-season push

Lewis Hamilton insists he can enjoy a strong end to the 2009 Formula 1 season despite a desperate first half.

The Briton's defence of his world title was effectively ended by McLaren's early-season car, which was labelled by BBC pundit Eddie Jordan as a "dog".

However, mid-season upgrades saw the 24-year-old record a first win of the season in Hungary, and he is optimistic of a late-season push for points.

"We'll be among the frontrunners in the last five races, I think," he said.

"We've got a low-downforce package for Monza and some more upgrades ahead of Singapore, so I think we'll be in the hunt."

Hamilton's victory in Hungary in July was his first since the 2008 China Grand Prix and marked a remarkable turnaround in McLaren's fortunes after an early season that had been beset by car problems.

Martin Whitmarsh's team had not managed a podium before that win, but a series of improvements to the MP4-24, including the front wing, diffuser and engine cover, has seen McLaren back among the quickest cars on the grid.

Hamilton followed victory in Hungary with second spot at the European Grand Prix, although their Belgian Grand Prix was ruined last time out when a collision saw him crash out on the first lap.

But despite that blip, the Briton, who is 45 points off drivers' leader Jenson Button with five races remaining, is confident he can challenge the likes of constructor championship leaders Brawn GP and Red Bull in the home stretch of the title race.

"I know I've been very lucky: for the past two seasons, I've been in with a shot at the championship right until the end of the last race of the season, so, obviously, this year feels a bit different," he said.

"But it's been fun to just push like crazy and try and get the maximum result from the car at each race, rather than looking at stringing together a more consistent title bid.

"It means we can keep attacking everywhere, and I think that the last five races should be good for us for a lot of different reasons.

"I might have missed out at Spa, but I really want to win Monza and see how competitive we'll be in the flyaways. The five remaining races are a great mix of circuits and I'm looking forward to all of them."

And Hamilton is refusing to give up on retaining his title, even though he needs to win all the remaining races and hope his rivals do not get enough points.

"I'll still be going for it, trying to get every single point I can.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I'm not going to put the title out of my mind until I know that it's mathematically impossible.

"(However), the most important thing is that we keep learning from this year's car so we can make next year's into a winner."

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

Arsenal set to fight Eduardo ban

Arsenal have confirmed they will appeal against the two-match ban given to striker Eduardo by Uefa for diving to win a penalty against Celtic.

The Croatia forward was found guilty of deceiving the referee as he fell under the challenge of goalkeeper Artur Boruc in the Champions League encounter.

In a statement, Arsenal called the decision by European football's governing body "deeply flawed".

Boss Arsene Wenger had already accused Uefa of conducting a "witch-hunt".

"The club is in receipt of Uefa's reasoned decision in relation to the charge against Eduardo," the statement said.

 

"We strongly believe that the decision taken is deeply flawed and not based on any forensic review of the video evidence available.

"There are obvious errors and inconsistencies in Uefa's judgment and we intend to appeal."

Arsenal are understood to have made a 19-page submission to Uefa ahead of the original hearing, which clearly made little impact on the panel.

Following the announcement of Eduardo's ban, Arsenal criticised the "arbitrary process" followed by Uefa.

In charging Eduardo, Wenger claimed Uefa had set off on a dangerous path, whereby any decision made by an official can now be contested after the match.

Should the ban be upheld, Eduardo would miss his side's opening two Champions League group matches, at Standard Liege on 16 September and at home against Olympiacos on 29 September.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

Football helps grieving Defoe'

England footballer Jermain Defoe uses the sport to help deal with his grief at the death of his half-brother, he has said.

Jade Defoe, 26, suffered head injuries during an attack in Leytonstone in April. He died in hospital days later.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Mr Defoe, 26, said the death had hit his family "really, really hard".

He said: "You can focus on football when you're on the pitch. Off it, you just think about things."

Mr Defoe said he was "close" to his half-brother, who had hoped for a career in music.

Talking about the moment he realised Jade was dying, Mr Defoe said: "I was at the training ground, the day before Manchester United away.

"Obviously I knew he was in intensive care but then my mum turned up. As soon as I saw her face, I knew."

 Mr Defoe had two hours to say goodbye to his half-brother.

"I just had to get myself to the hospital and be there for him," he said.

"It was crazy. All the family were there and his close friends. It was so strange. I looked at my brother. He was 26 years old."

He added: "You just don't expect it. The year before I lost my nan. In that situation, or someone dies when they are ill, you prepare yourself."

Mr Defoe said playing football gave him a chance to take his mind off what had happened.

"When you are playing, it is the only place you get away from everything," he said.

"The reason why you play, get on with it and do so well is because that's where you get your peace."

Christopher Farley, 33, from Leytonstone, east London, has been charged with Jade Defoe's murder.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

I'm an honest player, says Rooney

Wayne Rooney says he is an "honest player" despite analysis of the crucial penalty he won against Arsenal last weekend revealing he may have dived.

The north Londoners were denied a penalty of their own, and were leading 1-0 when Rooney converted his spot-kick, and the hosts went on to win 2-1.

Rooney said: "Everyone who watches me play knows I am an honest player.

"I play the game as honestly as I can. If the referee gives a penalty there is nothing you can do."

Amid the furore that accompanied the two-match ban Eduardo has received for "deceiving the referee" during Arsenal's victory over Celtic, Rooney's conduct at Old Trafford was questioned at the weekend.

On initial inspection, it seemed clear Manuel Almunia had put his arms in front of the Manchester United striker before he went tumbling inside the area.

However, TV replays from a certain angle showed Rooney appeared to be heading for the turf before the Arsenal keeper made contact and that the spot-kick perhaps should not have been given.

Arsenal intend to appeal against Eduardo's punishment, with Arsene Wenger particularly aggrieved because he believes the Croatian was touched by Celtic's Artur Boruc.

Rooney, 23, said it was up to the authorities to take further action if they felt it was necessary.

Rooney aims to avenge 2008 defeat

"If they want to take punishment further it is down to UEFA and the people who run the game. As players you just want to play."

And the England star says diving, technically described as "simulation", is not a rising trend.

"Diving has been in the game for years. Probably the coverage the game gets now, with all the cameras around, it gets highlighted a bit more. But it hasn't got any worse."

He feels the referee is the best person to deal with such issues, even if there are instances when he might get it wrong.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

Samassa gets Mali swap go-ahead

Former French junior international Mamadou Samassa has been given permission to play first-team football for Mali.

The 23-year-old striker was called into the Eagles squad for their 2010 World Cup qualifier against Benin before Fifa had ruled on the case.

Now football's world governing body has given its approval to the move.

It clears the way for him to take his place in the line-up in Cotonou on Sunday.

Fifa recently changed its rules - removing the age limit of 21 for players to swap nationalities.

Samassa, who plays for Valenciennes in the French league, was a French under-21 international but because his parents are from Mali he is entitled to dual nationality.

Mali must win the Group D qualifier in Cotonou to keep alive their remote hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2009

Defender Cole signs Chelsea deal

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole has signed a new four-year contract which will tie him to Stamford Bridge until 2013.

The left-back, who has won 74 England caps, has made 135 appearances for Chelsea since joining from Arsenal in August 2006.

He has started the new season in impressive form, scoring in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday.

The move comes after Blues captain John Terry signed a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

As well as Cole and Terry, Didier Drogba, John Mikel Obi and Florent Malouda have also signed extensions at Stamford Bridge recently.

A statement on the Chelsea website said the club were "delighted" Cole had signed the new deal.

Cole, who is in the England squad for Saturday's friendly against Slovenia and next week's World Cup qualifier against Croatia, has started every Chelsea game this season under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Since leaving Arsenal three years ago Cole has won the FA Cup twice and the League Cup once with Chelsea, as well as reaching the 2008 Champions League final where his side were beaten by Manchester United.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 2nd September 2009

Ivory Coast stay top in Africa

Ivory Coast continue to lead the way in Africa in the latest Fifa rankings after a month of light international action.

However, the Elephants have dropped two places in the global rankings and are the only African side in the world's top 20.

Gabon have dropped three places in the African rankings from third to sixth.

They've been replaced at number three by six-times African champions Egypt.

Democratic Republic of Congo are the biggest fallers, they dropped 22 places in the global rankings.

Hosts of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Angola have jumped 10 places.

Another side to make a significant leap is Congo-Brazzaville.

They moved up ten places to 79th in the world after a 1-1 draw with Morocco in August.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 2nd September 2009

eBay reaches deal to sell Skype

Online auction site eBay has agreed to sell the majority of internet phone company Skype for about $2bn (£1.2bn).

Skype is to be majority-owned by a group of private investors, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and private equity firms.

EBay will keep a 35% stake in the firm, which it has been trying to sell for some time. It has said that Skype had "limited synergies" with it.

The deal values Skype at $2.75bn. EBay bought Skype for $2.6bn in 2005.

The new owners are Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures - which originally invested in Skype - as well as private equity firm Silver Lake and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

They will pay $1.9bn in cash, and give a $125m note to eBay, meaning that it promises to pay that amount on demand or at an agreed time.

For sale

Earlier this year, eBay had said that it planned to spin off Skype and list its shares in the first half of 2010, an announcement many took as a signal that the firm was for sale.

Ebay wrote down the value of the firm to $1.2bn a year after it was taken over.

Including payouts to Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who founded Skype in 2003, eBay paid over $3bn for the company.

Skype's software lets computer and mobile phone users talk to each other for free and make cut-price calls to mobiles and landlines.

Unlike traditional mobile calls, which are transmitted over a cellular network, Skype turns your voice into data and sends it over the internet.

Since being acquired, the number of registered Skype users has risen to 405 million from 53 million, though free user-to-user calls still dominate the service.

The deal should be finalised by the last three months of the year.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 1st September 2009

Major win for Japan opposition

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is set for a massive election victory, exit polls suggest.

Polls indicate the DPJ has won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The DPJ says it will shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers.

Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from a bruising recession.

The DPJ leader, Yukio Hatoyama, has promised to boost welfare, reform the bureaucracy, and seek a more balanced relationship with the United States.

Japanese broadcaster NHK announced its exit polls moments after voting ended at 2000 (1200 GMT), saying they showed a major power shift in Japan.

"Our exit polls show the main opposition Democratic Party will seize more than 300 seats, way more than a majority in the lower house," said the newsreader.

"That signals a defeat for the governing coalition."

The conservative LDP, led by Prime Minister Taro Aso, has governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Life in the old dogs yet

Sir Alex Ferguson claims he may ride off into the sunset with Arsene Wenger when the curtain comes down on the Premier League's most enduring managerial rivalry.

It might be stretching reality to breaking point to describe the old stagers as the game's version of Noel and Liam Gallagher - but their turbulence, talent and creative tension may be even more sorely missed than anything Oasis had to offer when the credits finally roll.

Unlike Oasis however, Ferguson and Wenger are not going anywhere yet and on the evidence of the latest eventful instalment in this drama, football should be thankful.

Manchester United took the honours in fortuitous fashion at Old Trafford - and mixed emotions were the order of the day for Wenger as loser and even Ferguson as winner.

Wenger's mood, almost buoyant and certainly good-humoured, in the Old Trafford media theatre was easily explained after an Arsenal performance that suggests his optimism about their title hopes this season is built on increasingly solid foundations.

Arsenal were in untroubled control courtesy of Andrey Arshavin's wonderful goal until Manuel Almunia gifted Wayne Rooney a penalty - described as "Old Trafford-ish" by Wenger but undisputed in reality - and Abou Diaby decided to defy all laws of football logic and dispatch the most clinical of headers beyond his own goalkeeper.

Galling stuff for Wenger and exacerbated when he was pointlessly sent from his technical area by referee Mike Dean on the say-so of the fourth official after he kicked a plastic bottle in frustration when Robin van Persie's injury-time strike was chalked off for offside.

Wenger's reaction was human nature and his needless dismissal only created a chaotic scene that could have been avoided with only 30 seconds to go - especially as he actually had nowhere to go when he was ordered away from the touchline.

He looked as bemused by the conclusion to his evening, arms outstretched amid baying United supporters, as he was by the result of a game that should have gleaned Arsenal at least a point.

Arsenal looked a more cohesive, unified team than last season. Thomas Vermaelen is a sound defensive addition and Arshavin adds fantasy.

The tiny Russian is a wonderful footballer - and a source of much inspiration for Arsenal fans when it comes to less-than-flattering songs dedicated to Emmanuel Adebayor.

Arshavin's slight frame lurks with intent throughout, that rolling and sometimes disinterested gait disguising his lethal talent, and a world-class ability to surprise with strikes delivered with little or no backlift. It was a tribute to his ability that Old Trafford suffered collective anxiety attacks when he was anywhere near the danger zone.

Whether this is enough to sustain a serious title challenge is still open to debate - the fact remains they lost this game and Arsenal still have a habit of losing composure when all seems under control.

The return of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will add to the air of goodwill around the Emirates, but Wenger must ensure losing games they should have won does not become a damaging habit.

For all Arsenal's good work, Manchester United achieved a feat that was beyond them in the Premier League last season by overcoming the Gunners. And they showed one of the tried and trusted trademark of champions by beating a top four rival without coming within a country mile of their best.

But even in victory, and in case we forget a very important one, United have just as many questions to answer as Arsenal.

Ferguson's initial team selection was a source of much debate and not something that could be described as an unqualified success, even with three points as the reward.

Wayne Rooney shouldered huge responsibility through the middle as he was flanked on either side by Nani and Antonio Valencia. Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov were restricted to the bench.

Berbatov made an erratic appearance as substitute, and it is worth posing this question: what does it say about your £30m striker if you wave off £100m-plus worth of attacking talent in the shape of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and he is not an automatic pick for a game against a team regarded as one of your closes title rivals?

There is no mistaking the fact that United have had a major dimension of their game removed with the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, and this means Rooney is an even more pivotal figure.

Ferguson can relax safe in the knowledge that Rooney is up to the pressure of the task and it was his sheer force of will that kept United above water. He is a reassuring presence for United's manager and their supporters - how they must keep everything crossed that no misfortune befalls him.

Rooney is now Old Trafford's talisman, but the help he receives from others is likely to shape United's hopes of success this season. The season is in its infancy, but the jury remains out.

A word too for goalkeeper Ben Foster. He was at fault for Arsenal's goal, despite the velocity of Arshavin's strike, but he effectively saved the game for United with a priceless block from Robin van Persie just after the interval that prevented his side going two behind.

Ferguson used his programme notes to insist once more that he will not be buying again in this transfer window, light-heartedly suggesting the £80m raked in for Ronaldo "seems to be burning a hole in the pockets of lots of fans."

He added that it was "an insult" to suggest he could lose faith in his current crop of players overnight.

This is a man who knows, who has been over course and distance many times, so it is not a safe occupation to contradict him. The silver-lined career gives him the right to spring selection surprises - but you sense retaining the title for a fourth successive season will be tough work.

Lest this be seen as a wide-ranging questioning of United's credentials, and even their most ardent fans might just accept they may need to take step back to move forward with Ronaldo gone, the simple statistic of victory still marks them out as the team to finish above this season.

The "Pizzagate" days may be a thing of the past and the once icy relationship has thawed - but the competitive edge remains and Old Trafford witnessed compelling evidence of why Ferguson and Wenger will never go quietly while titles are up for grabs.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

2018 bid unharmed by violence

The Football Association says last week's crowd trouble at West Ham will not harm England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup - as long as it is a one-off.

Violence and pitch invasions marred the the Carling Cup match against Millwall on Tuesday, with 13 arrests made.

But FA chief executive Ian Watmore told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We have to make sure what happened is a one-off. I think if we do, it won't hurt the bid at all.

"We've done a huge amount over the last decade to put our house in order."

The fighting outside of Upton Park, images of fans repeatedly entering the field of play and reports of racist chanting in the stadium and were damaging at a time when most thought football violence was a thing of the past.

But Watmore added: "We have to get the perspective right.

"It doesn't help anybody to see those scenes being beamed around the world but, at the same time, it is a one-off and we have to keep it that way.

"Fifa and Uefa and many of the associations around the world do come to us for a lead on combating violence and hooliganism, racism and other forms of chanting, and we have to remain the best in the world at combating that and remain at the top of our game."

Watmore insisted the most important thing would be to make sure it remained an isolated incident.

"We mustn't be complacent, we have to clamp down when it happens in this country, but I think we also have to have perspective.

"This isn't now endemic in all of our games. It was, at the moment, a one-off and we need to make sure it remains so."

Both clubs have vowed to ban any individuals found to be involved, but Watmore said there could be further punishments.

He said: "We've got to do the investigation and ascertain the facts. In our rules the clubs have the ability to ban their fans and both clubs have come out and said they will do so.

"From out point of view, we have to look at whether the clubs acted with all due care and attention and, if they did, then we have to work with the clubs and with the leagues to make sure that we clamp down.

"If they didn't then they can come into our disciplinary system."

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

TP Mazembe win Etoile held

TP Mazembe secured a crucial 2-0 away win over Monomotapa of Zimbabwe in Group B of the Champions League.

The DR Congo side quickly served notice of their intent with captain Dioko Kaluyituka forcing the goalkeeper into two fine saves in the opening five minutes in Harare on Saturday.

But he was not to be denied in the 10th minute when he fired from the edge of the box to put Mazembe in the lead.

They wrapped up the win late in injury time when playmaker Mbutu Mabi struck.

The victory keeps Mazembe at the top of the group with nine points after four matches.

Meanwhile, Nigeria's Heartland kept alive their hopes of reaching the semi final after holding Etoile du Sahel to a 0-0 draw in Tunisia on Saturday.

The home side had numerous scoring chances but they were unable to convert them.

The Nigerian defence needed to be resolute late in the second half to keep Etoile at bay.

This means Heartland are second on the table with seven points while Etoile stay third on four points.

Monomotapa are bottom of the group with three points with two matches to go in the group.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Raikkonen wins exciting Spa duel

Kimi Raikkonen managed to keep Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella at bay to clinch Ferrari's first win of 2009 at an incident-packed Belgian Grand Prix.

World champion Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button crashed out early on, although the Brawn man's championship lead was cut by only two points to 16.

The incident saw the safety car come out, after which Raikkonen used his power-boost button to take the lead.

Red Bull's title-chasing Sebastian Vettel finished in third at Spa.

The German started in eighth but posted the fastest lap of the race and leapfrogged team-mate Mark Webber in the drivers' championship into third place behind Button's team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who limped over the line in seventh place with a Mercedes engine that was close to blowing up.

BMW Sauber drivers Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld finished fourth and fifth respectively ahead of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen.

Force India secured their historic first points in Formula 1 with Fisichella's second in dry, warm conditions in the Ardennes forest.

But the concertina-effect crash at the back of the chasing pack on lap one - in which Renault's Romain Grosjean appeared to clip Button causing Hamilton and Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari to also hit the tyre barriers at Les Combes - handicapped the Italian.

After the safety car went back in on lap five following the incident which is being investigated by race stewards, Raikkonen easily accelerated past Fisichella out of Eau Rouge using a quick push of his Kers (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) button.

From that point on Fisichella pushed the Finn all the way and although he was the quicker driver he could not get ahead of Raikkonen over the remaining 39 laps.

"We were probably not the fastest in lap times but we managed to keep everybody behind," said 2007 world champion Raikkonen. "And that's enough."

Fisichella said it was a "great result" for a Force India team which caused an enormous shock on Saturday by qualifying on pole, but that he felt a tinge of regret at how the race panned out.

"Actually, I was quicker than Kimi," he added. "He only took me because of Kers at the beginning and I'm a little bit sad for that because I was keeping pace and exactly same strategy race.

"It's great for second. But actually we could have won the race."

Highlights - Raikkonen wins in Belgium (UK users only)

Raikkonen started sixth but made an immediate charge, swinging past the virtually-still Barrichello off the grid before going very wide into the run-off area at La Source to give himself room to use his Kers to speed past the BMW Sauber cars and move into second behind pole-sitter Fisichella.

But then came the crash, which changed the course of the race and also caused Button's first retirement of the season.

While the stumbling championship leader - who has now not finished on the podium in the past five races - stopped short of blaming Grosjean, he did question why the rookie French driver braked so late through the corner and insisted the incident was not his fault.

"It was an avoidable accident," he said. "It's really frustrating."

"I suppose it is [relatively] good that it happened here. Hopefully we can get back on track in the next race."

Kubica was close to landing a podium place for BMW Sauber, who have announced their intention to pull out of the sport, but Germany's Vettel slipped ahead of the Pole as he came out of the pits following the second stop in his Red Bull on lap 35.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Portsmouth 0 - 1 Man City

Emmanuel Adebayor kept up his record of scoring in every league game this season to help Manchester City maintain their 100% start to the season.

The Togo striker rose above the Pompey defence to thump in a header from Gareth Barry's excellent corner.

Micah Richards had a goal ruled out for offside as City turned the screw.

After the break, John Utaka fizzed a shot narrowly wide, while fellow substitute David Nugent hit his volley straight at City goalkeeper Shay Given.

With wealthy owners at the helm of each club - Pompey's takeover by Sulaiman Al Fahim going through only on Thursday - it was a fascinating meeting between two sides who represent the new wave of the Premier League.

City, though, are 12 months into their new ownership and further down the road of realising their potential.

As a result, the big name stars they have attracted - and the team's greater cohesion - proved too strong for a much-changed Portsmouth side.

While it will take a while for Pompey to stabilise after a period of uncertainty - and to bed in new players - City are showing signs that their revolution is gaining momentum.

Adebayor was once again in excellent form, providing the fulcrum for his side's attacks, and Joleon Lescott - finally making his league debut for City after a protracted move from Everton - gave an assured performance.

Initially, however, Pompey more than held their own, despite fielding a team with five changes from their last league game.

Tommy Smith and Michael Brown had completed their moves to Fratton Park in time to make their debuts and were immediately drafted into the starting line-up.

And for a time, the hosts were the better side, passing the ball around neatly and went close through a rasping shot from Frederic Piquionne.

Yet there was always the feeling that once City settled, they would pose more of a threat.

That possibility became a reality when Barry swung in a corner from the right and Adebayor nodded home powerfully.

City thought they had doubled their lead when Richards converted a low cross from Craig Bellamy, who started ahead of Robinho, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

After the break, the imposing Adebayor continued to cause Pompey problems and one moment of magic saw him drag the ball between two defenders before forcing a fine save from Asmir Begovic.

And Stephen Ireland lashed a shot over the bar as a Portsmouth struggled to keep their opponents out.

All seemed to be going City's way but they suffered a blow when Richards limped off injured and watching England boss Fabio Capello will share City's concern, with the defender likely to be selected for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Croatia.

It signalled a change in fortunes for Pompey and they began to create a few chances - a Hayden Mullins shot was deflected wide and Younes Kaboul headed over.

Utaka went agonisingly close with a fierce drive that flew just past the post and Richard Hughes wasted a great chance when he volleyed wide from 12 yards.

Parity really should have been restored soon after but Nugent hit his shot into the ground and an upright Given saved the ball with his shoulder.

In the end, City did just enough but at times were still a little unconvincing at the back, while Pompey will hope results will pick up when their new signings are eligible and the team starts to gel.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Italy PM to meet Gaddafi in Libya

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is to go to Libya to celebrate the anniversary of a friendship pact signed last year.

But he will not attend events marking the 40th anniversary of the military coup d'etat that brought Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969.

Italy occupied the North African country between 1911 and World War II.

Mr Berlsuconi's government has agreed to pay $5bn in the next 20 years to compensate Libya for wrongs committed during its colonial occupation.

The two countries have agreed to put behind them the memories of injustices suffered by Libya in the early part of the 20th Century, and the subsequent painful expulsion of tens of thousands of Italian settlers.

Grave visits

During his one-day stay in Tripoli, Mr Berlusconi was to lay the foundation stone of a new super highway linking Tunisia to Egypt and running along the entire 2,000km (1,240 miles) of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.

Italian firms are to get valuable contracts for this and other industrial projects.

Italy's crack air-force aerobatic team will be giving two flypasts in Tripoli on Monday and Tuesday.

They will leave green vapour trails in the sky - green being Libya's national colour - instead of the normal red white and green of the Italian flag.

The Libyan government has invited some 300 Italian former settlers and their family members back to Tripoli for the celebrations, during which they will be allowed to visit family graves.

Some left-wing Italian politicians have criticised Mr Berlusconi's decision to seek ever closer relations with Libya.

The two countries already operate joint sea patrols to combat the flow of illegal migrants from Libya towards the EU, and military manoeuvres are to take place soon involving the two countries' armed forces.

Italy is Libya's biggest trading partner and gets more than a third of its energy from Libyan oil and natural gas.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Germany holds pre-election polls

Three German states are holding elections that will kick off the final month of campaigning ahead of a general election on 27 September.

Party leaders in Berlin will be closely watching poll results in the states of Saarland, Thuringia and Saxony.

All three are ruled by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party.

Opinion polls suggest Saxony's governor Stanislaw Tillich looks set to be re-elected, but the CDU could see its vote crumble in Saarland and Thuringia.

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Left Party are hoping to topple the CDU in both states.

In a radical move, the Social Democrats' leader in Saarland, Heiko Maas, has been considering forming a coalition with the post-communist Left party as a junior partner.

But at a national level, the SPD has ruled out a coalition with the Left Party - and the Social Democrats would prefer a coalition with the green party.

Chancellor Merkel's conservatives still have a comfortable lead in the polls ahead of next month's federal election.

So far, the campaign has been very dull but the regional elections may liven up the political debate and provide some indication as to whether the Social Democrats will be able to claw back any votes from Mrs Merkel's CDU.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Gabonese vote to elect new leader

Voters in Gabon have gone to the polls to elect a successor to President Omar Bongo, who died in June after leading his country for 41 years.

Favourite to succeed him is his son, Ali Ben Bongo, 50, candidate of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG).

He has promised to boost what he says is the prosperity that Gabon enjoyed during his father's years in power.

Mr Bongo's rivals include former government ministers Andre Mba Obame and Casimir Oye Mba.

They have denounced what they say is endemic corruption and favouritism in Gabon.

On Friday at least five out of 23 opposition candidates announced they were pulling out of the race and pledged their support for Mr Obame.

Wealthy leader

Omar Bongo was one of the world's richest men, with a string of properties in France.

He was an unflinching ally of France and a key element in French influence in Central Africa.

 

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says that Ali Ben Bongo is seen as less closely linked to the French elite than his father, despite being educated at the Sorbonne.

He is also somewhat detached from ordinary Gabonese, struggling to speak local languages with real fluency, our correspondent says.

Gabon is sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer and Africa's second biggest wood exporter, although most of its 1.4 million people live in poverty.

Voting, which began at 0700 (0600 GMT), will be monitored by observers from organisations including the African Union. Polls will close at 1800 (1700 GMT).

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

Hollywood to tackle Uganda rebels

A Hollywood film director says his next film is about Uganda's notorious rebels and how they kidnapped more than 100 convent schoolgirls.

Will Raee told the BBC that Girl Soldier will star Uma Thurman as the heroine nun who pursues the rebels into the bush and helps some girls escape.

It is based on a book of the same name by Grace Akallo, one of those captured from the school in Akobe in 1996.

"It's mind blowing; it's such an amazing story," said Mr Raee.

 The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have been fighting the Ugandan government for more than two decades.

Their long and brutal rebellion has driven some two million people from their homes and destabilised a swathe of central and east Africa.

Tens of thousands of children have been abducted to be fighters and sex slaves.

'Authentic'

"The film is incredibly fictionalised in certain areas," Mr Raee told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

 

"But we're basically telling the story of girls who were abducted and forced into slavery and forced into fighting a rebel war they didn't want to be a part of.

"I want people to watch this and feel that they're watching a documentary in a sense, so we're really trying to keep this as authentic as possible," he said.

Ms Akallo, who was 15 years old when she was abducted, was not one of those rescued by the nun and only managed to escape months later during a battle.

Mr Raee said the movie is in pre-production in South Africa at the moment and he hopes to shoot some scenes in Uganda.

"The child soldiers will be Ugandan actors," he said.

Earlier this week, a comic book about the LRA, featuring the WWII character Unknown Soldier, was launched by DC Comics.

"I do feel there are just an amazing amount of stories coming out of Africa that are both beautiful and tragic," said Mr Raee.

He said that Ms Thurman was keen to do the role because of her interest in Africa and her concern about violence against women.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 30th August 2009

British clubs avoid Euro giants

The five British clubs in the Champions League were handed favourable draws for the group stage of the competition.

Last season's finalists Manchester United take on CSKA Moscow, Besiktas and Wolfsburg in Group B.

Liverpool face Lyon, Fiorentina and Debrecen while Chelsea play Porto, Atletico Madrid and APOEL Nicosia.

Arsenal have been drawn against AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos and Standard Liege, while Rangers will play Sevilla, Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni.

The four English clubs were all in pot one - and avoided Real Madrid and Inter Milan in pot two.

Big-spending Real Madrid have been drawn in Group C, along with AC Milan, Marseille and Zurich.

Chelsea were defeated last season by an injury-time Andres Iniesta goal in their semi-final against eventual champions Barcelona.

"We start again and are always looking to get one step further," said Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon after Thursday's draw in Monaco.

"There are no easy games or groups but overall not too much travel and we have managed to avoid one of the big ones."

Manchester United will return to CSKA's Luzhniki Stadium, where they beat Chelsea in the 2008 final, and chief executive David Gill said: "Overall we have got to be happy with our draw.

"We are looking forward to going back to Moscow after those great scenes in 2008."

However, boss Sir Alex Ferguson played down his side's chances, telling the club's website: "These are difficult ties, especially the trips to Russia and Turkey.

"CSKA have developed strongly in the last few years, and games in Turkey are always difficult.

"We also know the quality that we're up against with Wolfsburg, with what they achieved in the Bundesliga last season."

By contrast, Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow said his club were "pretty happy" with their group.

"We have two very well-known European opponents, who will not bring us any surprises," he said.

Reds legend and club ambassador Kenny Dalglish added: "It could have been worse but it could have been easier as well.

"You never dismiss Italians - they will be well-organised and very effective, and Lyon have had great success in this competition."

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis was also wary about the opposition his side face in Group H.

"Some might look at it and see it as an automatic pass but we don't see it like that," Gazidis said.

"We think it will be very tough. But we won't lose our focus. We have a very determined group."

Rangers, in pot two, could have faced any of the English clubs but appear to have been handed a relatively favourable draw that includes the unknown quantity of Unirea Urziceni.

The Romanian side, along with Wolfsburg, Rubin Kazan, AZ Alkmaar, Standard Liege, Debrecen, APOEL Nicosia and FC Zurich, make their Champions League debut in this year's tournament.

Gers chief executive Martin Bain said: "It's a good group. Sevilla are Uefa Cup winners twice in the last five years.

"Stuttgart have now qualified for the Champions League three times and each time have been drawn to face Rangers.

"We beat them at Ibrox and lost in Germany on both occasions, so hopefully we can go one better this time."

There are 32 teams left in the competition, split into eight groups of four, with the first matches to be played on 15/16 September.

United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Rangers all reached the first round automatically, while Arsenal eased to a 5-1 aggregate victory over Celtic in qualifying to clinch their place in the lucrative stages of Europe's premier competition.

The eight group winners plus the runners-up go through to the knockout stages of the competition, while the teams finishing third go into the Europa League.

Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium will stage the Champions League final on Saturday, 22 May 2010.

 

Champions League group stage draw:

Group A

Bayern MunichJuventusBordeauxMaccabi Haifa

Group B

MANCHESTER UNITEDCSKA MoscowBesiktasWolfsburg

Group C

AC MilanReal MadridMarseille FC Zurich

Group D

CHELSEAPortoAtletico MadridAPOEL Nicosia

Group E

LIVERPOOLLyon FiorentinaDebrecen

Group F

BarcelonaInter MilanDinamo KievRubin Kazan

Group G

SevillaRANGERSStuttgartUnirea Urziceni

Group H

ARSENALAZ AlkmaarOlympiakos Standard Liege

Fixture dates:

15/16 September

29/30 September

20/21 October

3/4 November

24/25 November

8/9 December

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Am not feeling pressure - Button

Jenson Button insists his championship challenge is not under threat ahead of this weekend's Belgium Grand Prix.

Brawn GP's British driver has finished outside the podium places for four successive races and has seen his championship lead cut to 18 points.

But the 29-year-old, who was seventh in last week's European Grand Prix, said: "I'm not feeling any pressure.

"Valencia was frustrating but it's the first bad weekend we've had. I'm still in the best shape of the frontrunners."

Button has been outscored by his closest challengers in the last four races, picking up 11 points to his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello's 19 and Red Bull rivals Mark Webber's 24 and Sebastian Vettel's 18.

And the Frome-born driver also failed to take advantage of a revitalised Brawn car in Valencia after losing ground on his opening lap.

"I've just lost so many points because I've been in the wrong position and I've not been able to overtake," Button added.

"If you look at the last race, I didn't qualify very well and then, on Sunday, if I had stayed inside Vettel [off the start] I would have broken my front wing and wrecked his race as well.

"It's not a case of having a conservative approach but I think we need to do something different with strategy that doesn't put me in a position around cars that are fighting me for the championship."

Barrichello emerged as Button's closest championship challenger after he claimed his first win in five years at Valencia's marina circuit.

The Brazilian insists he will continue to fight his team-mate for the title, but Button dismissed suggestions that any internal rivalry would disrupt his focus in the final six races.

"Rubens winning the race doesn't hurt me in any way," said Button. "He did an amazing job all weekend and he deserved it.

"We've both been through some difficult times and I'm happy that he won the race. I just wish I had finished a lot closer to him.

"This is my fourth season with him and I know he is a tough competitor. He is going to be fighting for the wins but I have to make sure I finish in front of him."

The undulating Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with its famously fickle climate, is expected to suit the Red Bulls, which have stolen the march on the Brawns in cooler conditions.

But Brawn say they have largely resolved their issues with getting their tyres running at optimum temperature, and Button is confident they can match their chief rivals this weekend.

"Hopefully, we can challenge the Red Bulls on a circuit like this," he added. "If we can challenge them here then I think they will be in a difficult position (for the rest of the championship).

"I'm sure they come here a bit more positive than the last race but it's not going to be a walk in the park."

Red Bull are confident they can bounce back after failing to win any points in Valencia, where Webber finished ninth and Vettel retired with a blown engine.

The German is now running with his seventh Renault engine, with each driver only allotted eight per season.

Should Vettel use more than eight, he will drop 10 places on the starting grid at the first event during which each additional engine is used - prompting the 22-year-old to consider restricting his running during Friday practice to help conserve his remaining engines.

But despite his unreliability problems, Vettel insists he is still fighting for the title even though he is 25 points adrift of Button in fourth.

"I'm not giving up," said Vettel, who claimed victories in China and Britain earlier this season.

"Jenson hasn't been consistent and scored points in the last races, which helps us. We are still in a hunting position and we have to score big points and win races now.

"This track should suit our car because of its lay-out and the high-speed corners, but we still need to find out how fast we are.

"Our target here is to win. I don't care if it's wet, dry, or both, that's our target."

Practice for the Belgium Grand Prix starts at 0855 BST on Friday with second practice following at 1255.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Kennedy ceremonies get under way

Mourners have held a family Mass to commemorate Edward Kennedy, at the start of three days of ceremonies following the death of the US senator.

Mr Kennedy's body was then being driven to Boston, where his coffin will be placed for public viewing ahead of a memorial service and a funeral Mass.

Mr Kennedy's death from cancer on Tuesday prompted a flood of tributes from the US and around the world.

He will be buried on Saturday evening at the Arlington National Cemetery.

A large group of family members attended Thursday's private Mass at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

Later, people lined the route as a hearse carrying Mr Kennedy's coffin left in a motorcade on the 70-mile (113km) trip to Boston.

'Extraordinary good'

The motorcade was due to drive past some of the Boston sites linked to the senator's life, before delivering his coffin to the John F Kennedy presidential library and museum.

After the public have paid their respects, there will be an invitation-only memorial service at the library on Friday evening.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama is expected to address a funeral Mass for Mr Kennedy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston.

Mr Kennedy will be buried on Saturday next to his brothers, John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy, at the Arlington national cemetery in northern Virginia.

In the US, Mr Kennedy's death has been seen as the end of an era.

The charismatic senator had long been the leader of one of America's great political dynasties, following the assassinations of his brothers in 1963 and 1968.

In a televised tribute on Wednesday, Mr Obama said Mr Kennedy had achieved "extraordinary good" and was "one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy".

Succession talks

Just outside the family compound in Hyannis Port, David Nylan said people had been leaving flowers by his holiday home since Mr Kennedy's death.

"The Kennedys and Hyannis and the Cape, they just kind of go hand in hand," he said.

"They're just a great family from around here, and people respect what they've done in office, and the good things they've done.

"Of course, they've had some black marks against them, but who hasn't?"

Meanwhile, discussions have begun over how to replace Mr Kennedy in the Senate.

Under current Massachusetts law, his seat could remain vacant for several months until a special election to choose his successor.

Senate Democrats fear that if the seat remains empty for too long, the party will struggle to pass a crucial healthcare reform that President Obama is hoping to push through.

There have been calls for a change in the law that would allow the Massachusetts governor to install an interim senator to fill the seat until the special election takes place.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has said he supports the plan.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

US envoy 'in angry Karzai talks'

US special envoy to Afghanistan has had what has been described as "an explosive meeting" with President Hamid Karzai over the country's election.

Sources have revealed that Richard Holbrooke raised concerns about ballot-stuffing and fraud and said that a second-round run off could make the process more credible.

The final results in the election won't be known until next month.

A number of senior sources have confirmed the details of a meeting between Richard Holbrooke and President Karzai the day after the election.

It was described as "explosive" and "a dramatic bust-up".

Richard Holbrooke is said to have twice raised the idea of a second round run-off because of concerns about the voting process.

He is believed to have complained about the use of fraud and ballot-stuffing by some members of the president's campaign team as well as other candidates.

The sources say that President Karzai reacted very angrily and that the meeting ended shortly afterwards.

A spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Kabul denied there had been any shouting or that Richard Holbrooke had stormed out.

She refused to discuss the details of the meeting. A spokesman for the presidential palace denied the account of the conversation.

There have been many doubts raised about the Afghan presidential election; about the turnout and irregularities.

But this is the first time that a leading Western official has apparently expressed it quite so openly.

It will raise more questions about the credibility of the whole process and could well make the plan to establish a meaningful government in a stable country all the harder to achieve.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Mixed news in Xbox price changes

Microsoft is to cut the UK price of its Xbox 360 Elite gaming console by £30 to £199.99 and by $100 to $299 in the US.

It comes in the wake of Sony's decision to drop the price of its PlayStation 3 to £249 in the UK and $299 in the US.

The price of Xbox's entry-level model the Arcade will rise to £159.99 from £129.99 - although its US cost remains the same at $199.

The Xbox Pro mid-range model will be discontinued altogether. A new version of PlayStation 3 is out next week.

Recent figures suggest that overall sales of both games and consoles have slumped this year - with a drop of some 29% in the US.

However, Xbox sales are the only console in positive growth in the US this year, rising by 17%.

The new prices will come into effect on Friday, ahead of the release of the recently announced slimmed-down PlayStation 3. Its hard drive size has been increased to 120GB hard drive - the same as the Xbox 360 Elite.

"Price cuts are always a good thing," said Nik Williams, a gamer from Haselmere in Surrey.

"Obviously, Sony are worried by lowering its prices in the first place but for me Xbox has got the bigger games library, the better games and I just think it's a better console."

Others were less impressed, citing PlayStation's free online gaming and ability to play Blu-Ray discs.

"The Xbox price cut would never persuade me to get one," said Anthony Charles from east London.

"The reason I'm a PS3 man all the way is because you get all the brilliant games - and then the little extras."

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Spotify app approved for iPhone

Apple has approved the Spotify iPhone application, allowing users to stream music to their handsets.

The company submitted the application to Apple's iTunes App Store for its approval in July.

The application will be free, but will require the user to have a premium Spotify subscription, which costs £10.

The Swedish music streaming service is looked on as a rival to Apple's iTunes store because of its comprehensive, free library of millions of songs.

Apple currently dominates the digital music market, which led many to speculate that the app may not be approved.

However, many in the music also industry regard Spotfiy as an alternative, and a credible business model for an industry which has had difficulty adapting to the online world.

"We're not surprised but we're thrilled," founder Daniel Ek told BBC News. "We had a great dialogue with Apple from day one."

'Scaling up'

The application is designed to search for new music and will allow users to temporarily store playlists on their phone for use when there is no connection. It will also allow users to stream playlists.

The premium service, which currently costs £9.99 a month, allows users to run Spotify on their computers without adverts.

Mr Ek told BBC News that he was confident the app would bring a big surge in premium subscribers.

"We're scaling up the systems because response has been tremendous even before the app is available," he said.

The service, which launched last year, now has more than two million users in the UK, and more than six million across Europe.

It has not yet launched in the United States but says it intends to do so by the end of the year.

The company has already demonstrated an application for mobile phones running Google's Android software, though that has not been made available to the public.

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Apple to set Snow Leopard OS free

The latest update of the Apple Mac operating system OS X, known as Snow Leopard, goes on sale on Friday.

The software - available only as a DVD, not a download - was originally due to hit shops in September but Apple brought it forward at the last minute.

The system will go head-to-head with Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7, due for release in October.

Both will also compete with a system from Google, called Chrome OS, set for release in the second half of 2010.

Whilst both Google and Microsoft will offer entirely new operating systems, Snow Leopard is a refinement to its predecessor Leopard.

Graham Barlow, editor of MacFormat Magazine, said the update "streamlines performance"

"[It] doesn't add that many more features to the previous incarnation of OS X," he said.

The update will retail at £25 in the UK ($29 in US) for Mac users who run Leopard.

Apple recommends that owners of older Intel-based Macs that are running the older Tiger OS, should purchase an upgrade which costs £129 ($169 in the US).

The package comes bundled with various other pieces of software, such as iWork, Apple's Microsoft Office competitor.

However, initial reports suggest that Tiger users can upgrade using the cheaper package.

Apple says that its engineers have "refined 90% of the more than 1,000 projects" that make up the operating system.

Many of these changes are hidden deep inside the software's code and are aimed at making the system smaller, faster and more responsive.

The firm claim that users who install the update will free around 7GB of hard drive space on average because of the stripped-down code.

Applications should load faster and the machine should also boot up more quickly.

Tweaks will also make it easier for third-party developers to take advantage of the Mac hardware.

However, the system does have some new features.

For example, it is the first operating system to come with inbuilt support for Microsoft Exchange Server, popular email and calendar services used by many companies.

The system will also ships with a new version of the Quicktime player, which will allow users to record and trim their own movies.

Reports also suggest that the ships with anti-virus software for the first time.

"It's a sign of the times that anti-malware features are appearing in OS X," said Mr Barlow.

"The protection built into Snow Leopard appears to be very basic, but since Macs aren't under the same threat from the thousands of viruses that affect PCs, it doesn't need to be particularly advanced.

"It remains to be seen how often Apple will update the malware definitions, and it's not yet clear whether this is a technology Apple has developed itself or whether it's using information from a third party."

Apple's operating system is currently installed in around 3% of personal computers, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Microsoft still commands the market with 95% of machines running a version of Windows.

The open source software Linux trails both, with around 2% of the market.

A review of Snow Leopard will be published on the BBC News website on Monday.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 27th August 2009

Doncaster 1 - 5 Tottenham

Tottenham continued their superb start to the season as they cruised into the third round of the Carling Cup.

Tom Huddlestone slotted the opener for Spurs against the run of play before David Bentley found Jamie O'Hara who smashed in the second minutes later.

Peter Couch flicked Bentley's corner in for three and Bentley cracked a fourth.

Doncaster's Martin Woods struck a consolation penalty after Vedran Corluka's handball but Roman Pavlyuchenko struck back for Spurs

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

More signs of US economic growth

US durable goods orders and new home sales both soared last month, the latest positive indications of the state of the world's largest economy.

Orders for goods expected to last more than three years increased 4.9% in July, beating analyst expectations of a 3% gain, said the Commerce Department.

Durable goods orders were lifted by the popularity of the government's "cash for clunkers" car scrappage scheme.

This helped US car orders rise 0.9%, recovering from June and May falls.

At the same time, the annual rate of sales of new US homes rose 9.6% last month, also ahead of market targets.

This was the biggest rise in sales of new houses since September last year.

Boeing boost

The increase in durable goods orders was led by the commercial aviation sector, which pushed total transportation equipment orders up 18%.

 

July's 107% increase in demand for civilian aircraft was thanks primarily to Boeing, which saw its largest increase in monthly orders since August last year.

The 0.9% increase in car orders compared with June's 0.2% fall, and the sharp 8.4% decline in May.

July's rise in auto orders was lifted by the success of the "cash for clunkers" or Car Allowance Rebate Scheme, whereby owners of old cars were given up to $4,500 when they traded in their vehicle for a new model.

The US Transportation Department said on Wednesday that the scheme, which ran from 1 July to 25 August, created 700,000 new car sales.

It added that the total amount of rebates paid out was $2.88bn (£1.8bn).

The White House in turn estimates that the scheme will create or save 42,000 US jobs in the second half of 2009, and boost economic growth between July and September by 0.3% to 0.4%.

Upbeat figures

Durable goods orders excluding transportation items rose 0.8%, which was the third rise in the past four months, and followed a revised 1.3% fall in June.

 

Sales of new US homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 in July, up from 395,000 in June, said the Commerce Department.

Although this was a 9.6% rise from the month before, sales were still 13% lower than July 2008.

Analysts broadly welcomed the latest durable goods orders and new home sales figures, but cautioned that the US economy still faced a difficult recovery.

"Big ticket items are displaying very normal recovery patterns, signalling that the early phase of this recovery may be stronger than people are anticipating, it doesn't mean it will be sustained," said Stephen Gallagher, chief US economist at Societe Generale in New York.

The latest upbeat official figures come a day after the closely-watched Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose by more than expected this month, while a separate study said the rate of decline in US house prices slowed in July.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

Sony launches Amazon challenger

Sony has launched a wireless e-reader which allows users to download electronic books on the go.

Analysts said Sony's Reader Daily Edition is a direct challenge to Amazon's best-selling Kindle device.

The $399 (£250) touch-screen device is able to store up to 1,000 novels and can download books over a high-speed mobile network.

It also has an application that can be used to "borrow" books from local libraries for 21 days.

"By going open, Sony helps compensate for its biggest weakness: its lacklustre eBookstore, which pales in comparison with Amazon.com," said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research in her blog.

Lending service

Amazon has so far dominated the e-reader market with its wireless Kindle devices.

In May of this year, the firm unveiled a new version of the gadget aimed at reading newspapers, magazines and documents.

The Kindle DX packed a screen that was double the size of previous models.

It offer 46 newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

However, it was criticised for its high price of $489 (£340).

Ms Rotman Epps said that Sony's new device - it's third so far - "makes the Kindle look like an oversized calculator."

Unlike, the Kindle, the Sony device features a 7-inch (17.8cm)touchscreen interface which can be used to read books in portrait or landscape form.

The Japanese firm has also signed a deal with US network operator AT&T to allow users to download books wirelessly.

Sony also unveiled an application which allows users to download e-books from their local libraries.

"At the end of the library's lending period, e-books simply expire, so there are never any late fees," Sony said.

Earlier this month the electronics giant also announced that it would stop using a proprietary standard for e-books in favour of the ePub open format.

"Enabling consumers to access free eBooks via the public library network and Google's public domain collection (which now tops 1 million volumes) - and letting consumers buy ePub books from other sources and read them on Sony's devices -greatly expands the value proposition of its devices," said Ms Rotman Epps.

Sony said it would announce deals with newspapers later in the year.

The device will be available in the US from December.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

Free trade zones in Africa

Across Africa, free trade zones are being set up between countries and even at individual locations.

They claim to offer a cheaper and easier way to buy and sell goods, boosting economies. But what are "free trade" or "tariff-free" zones and how do they work?

What is a free trade zone?

Free trade zones, describe an arrangement where different trading entities, usually member countries, agree to cut or scrap taxes in order to lower business costs and remove bureaucracy. They are also known as "special economic zones" and are mostly found in developing economies. The aim is to give a massive artificial boost to trade, especially between raw material producers and manufacturing based economies. These zones are also attractive to foreign investors as it's cheaper for them to do business there.

Why have they become so popular in Africa?

Economists argue that free trade zones are particularly suited to African countries which were created under colonial occupation when land was divided up, often with little regard for the economic sustainability of the newly created plot.

Plus, post-independence conflict in Africa has left much of the continent with a legacy of poor governance and a lack of political integration which free trade zones aim to address.

For example, landlocked Uganda was almost ruined by the Ugandan-Tanzanian War (1978-79). Today it remains dependent for the supply of finished goods on its wealthier neighbour Kenya, with its international seaports.

The two countries entered into the East Africa Community Customs Union, EAC, in March 2004, along with Tanzania.

However, these trading blocs are not always tariff-free. Kenya continued to pay export duties to Tanzania and Uganda for five years after the EAC union began, to compensate for the fact that it was a more prosperous, diversified economy.

Other large free trade zones in Africa include SADC, the Southern African Development Community (South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and Comesa (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Sudan), illustrating the point that these "zones" often overlap.

Free trade zones can also cover individual areas within a country. The Lekki free trade zone in Nigeria's former capital, Lagos, aims to create a new commercial hub by removing tariffs for international investors. Eritrea plans a similar arrangement at its port at Massawa on the Red Sea coast.

Last October, plans were agreed to create a "super" free trade zone encompassing 26 African countries, stretching from Libya in the north to South Africa. The GDP of this group of nations is put at $624bn (£382.9bn).

What do free trade zones claim to offer?

The hope is that free trade zones will boost both trade and Africa's economic independence.

Babatunde Raji Fashola, governor of Lagos state, told Africa Business Report: "At airports, Nigerians are the people you see with excess luggage and it comprises mainly of household goods, clothing.

"Every time we import goods, we invariably, without knowing it, export jobs because we keep those industries offshore."

World trade experts also believe in the future, more of the world's big multi national deals will be "South-to-South", ie between Southern Hemisphere nations.

A recent example is a plan by India's mobile phone giant, Bharti Airtel, to take a controlling stake in South Africa's MTN. Free trade zones can greatly boost the attraction of such deals.

Is there any evidence they work?

Some critics claim that free trade zones give an unfair advantage to multinational corporations, who are able to manufacture in a low-cost base and export around the world, rather than indigenous firms.

These companies are often given other incentives to locate in developing economies, such as grants to help with set-up costs and lax employment legislation, which trade unions and some charities claim are open to abuse.

Free trade zones can also take a long time to set up while member countries agree terms. The East African EAC bloc took six years to come into being, even though it was replacing a previous similar arrangement which collapsed in the 1980s.

The fear is that the dominant economy will set the agenda for the bloc as a whole - a criticism levelled at the SADC, which contains South Africa, the continent's only G20 member country.

But supporters say free trade zones are ultimately one of the fairest ways for developing world economies so that they can begin to compete on a global scale. They could even be extended to encompass other financial unions, such as pan-regional banks and a common currency.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

Arsenal 3 - 1 Celtic

Arsenal eased past Celtic to reach the Champions League group stage.

Eduardo's 25th-minute penalty, a contentious award after he clashed with Celtic keeper Artur Boruc, extended the Gunners' two-goal first leg lead.

Emmanuel Eboue finished a sweeping move for Arsenal's second after 53 minutes and Andriy Arshavin added another two minutes after coming on as substitute.

Massimo Donati's spectacular angled volley pulled one back for Celtic, but they now go into the Europa League.

Celtic's players accused Eduardo of diving to win the crucial penalty, but the Gunners were ultimately superior to the Scottish Premier League giants and merited the victory.

Arsenal were not at their flowing best, but demonstrated enough touches of their trademark invention to build on an impressive start to the season.

Arsene Wenger's side were without injured captain Cesc Fabregas, and Wenger also chose to leave Robin van Persie and Arshavin on the bench as they held a healthy lead from the first leg.

And they could have extended the lead inside seven minutes when the normally lethal Eduardo steered wide of an open goal from close range after Boruc had saved brilliantly from Nicklas Bendtner.

Eduardo was the central figure when Arsenal did score after 28 minutes - and he was very much the villain in the eyes of Celtic's travelling fans when he tumbled theatrically as he went around Boruc in the area.

Spanish official Mejuto Gonzalez infuriated Celtic by pointing to the spot, and Eduardo stayed cool despite the protests to send Boruc the wrong way to effectively put the tie out of the reach of Tony Mowbray's side.

Celtic thought they had given themselves a lifeline six minutes before the interval when Scott McDonald turned in Marc Antoine Fortune's cross from close range, but he was correctly ruled offside.

Arsenal ended the half in charge, with Boruc turning Eduardo's left-foot shot to safety and Bendtner heading the resulting corner from Denilson inches wide.

Aiden McGeady's ambitious effort from 25 yards flew just wide as Celtic attempted to revive the tie early in the second half - but all their hopes were snuffed out when the Gunners doubled their lead on the night after 53 minutes.

It was a goal that was typical Arsenal in creation, with Bendtner's clever flick releasing Abou Diaby. He fed Eboue, who took his time to find space and fire a low finish beyond Boruc.

With a trip to Manchester United looming on Saturday, Wenger made a double change with 19 minutes left, sending on Arshavin and Jack Wilshere for Eduardo and Eboue.

It was rewarded within two minutes when the Russian turned inside the area and slotted a composed effort past Boruc.

Donati pulled one back for Celtic with the last kick of the game, but it had no bearing on a contest that ended as a one-sided affair.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

Fifa give Adefemi the ok, for now

Nigeria international defender Olubayo Adefemi has been given permission to play for Boulogne, in France.

But the decision from football's world governing body Fifa is only provisional.

The player has been at the centre of a complicated dispute involving a club in Austria - and before that was in a row with a team in Romania.

He made his debut for Boulogne last weekend, having signed a four-year contract with them in June.

But Austrian side SC Rheindorf Altach claim Adefemi was under contract to them until 2011.

Adefemi insisted that he was free to move to France because he had agreed a deal to move with the relegated Austrian club.

Altach deny any knowledge of such a deal, forcing the authorities to make a ruling.

Now Fifa has provisionally transferred the 24-year-old's registration to Boulogne.

Adefemi's agent and representative, Ibi Ajayi said that the decision was a vindication of the player's stand.

"Adefemi is relieved that this ordeal is over and he can now concentrate on his career both for club and country," Ajayi said.

But the Fifa judgement has yet to be ratified.

Adefemi is in Nigeria's squad for next month's crunch World Cup qualifier against Tunisia in Abuja.

He is to be joined at Boulogne by Bakary Soumare of Mali, who is set to sign for Boulogne from Chicago Fire in the United States MLS.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

Eurogoals roundup

The BBC's African sports programme Fast Track brings you a weekly rundown of all the African goal scorers across the top leagues in Europe.

GERMANY

Striker Obafemi Martins may have been left out of the Nigeria line-up for their World Cup qualifier against Tunisia, but he continued his fine form in the Bundesliga. He came on as a second-half substitute to score for champions Wolfsburg, but their visitors Hamburg went on to win the game 4-2.

Elsewhere, Burkinabe Aristide Bance scored for the second consecutive weekend as he helped his side Mainz beat Bayern Munich 2-1 and Algeria's Anthar Yahia who now captains Bochum scored the only goal of the game as his side snatched all three points from Hertha Berlin.

ITALY

Samuel Eto'o announced his arrival in Serie A with the opening goal of the season for Inter Milan, who drew 1-1 with Bari. The Cameroon striker scored from the penalty spot in the 56th minute. But his Ghanaian colleague Sulley Muntari lasted only half an hour before being substituted by his coach Jose Mourinho, who was concerned about his fitness.

BELGIUM

Senegalese striker Ibrahim Sidibe scored his second goal of the season as he got the winner for St Truiden, who came from behind to beat Roulers 2-1.

Mbark Boussoufa scored his fourth of the season as Anderlecht beat Zulte-Waregem 2-0. The Moroccan was on target two minutes before half-time.

Ghana defender Abdul-Yakini Iddi opened his account in the last minute of the game to help his side beat Malines 3-1. In the same game Cameroon striker Aloys Nong scored his second of the season for Malines just before half-time.

Ibrahim Ibou Savaneh scored twice in the first 39 minutes to give Kortrijk the lead away at Bruges, but Nigerian striker Joseph Akpala responded for the host before half-time. The final result was 2-2.

FRANCE

Cameroonian Jean Makoun made it 2-0 for Lyon on the half-time whistle as his side dislodged Auxerre 3-0.

Ivorian midfielder Siaka Tiene scored for Valenciennes in the 58th minute but they lost 3-2 at home to Paris Saint-Germain.

Senegal's Mamadou Niang got his second of the season after equalising for Marseille in their draw at Rennes.

THE NETHERLANDS

Mounir El-Hamdaoui was on target again for titleholders AZ Alkmaar who beat Heerenveen 2-0. The Moroccan has scored four so far this season.

And Ivorian Sekou Cisse found the back of the net as he helped Feyenoord to a 4-0 thumping of visiting Roda JC.

PORTUGAL

Albert Ze Meyong scored the winning goal for Sporting Braga who achieved a remarkable exploit in Lisbon as they beat Sporting 2-. The Cameroon striker scored the winner with nine minutes remaining.

Burkinabe Mamadou Tall was sent--off in the last minute but his side Uniao Leiria shared the points with Olhanense after a 0-0 draw.

TURKEY

Nigeria's Isaac Promise scored the only African goal of the weekend in Turkey. His lone strike gave Manisaspor all three points against Trabzonspor.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

Free tickets for SA World Cup

Fifa has launched a fund to give away 120,000 free tickets to poor South Africans for the 2010 World Cup.

The tickets will given to people involved in social development in the country as a reward for their efforts.

"The tickets will enable people who would never have had a chance to attend the World Cup games to see the event," said Danny Jordaan, chief of the LOC.

Fifa already set low prices for South Africans, starting at US$17 compared to US$80 for international tickets.

But with more than a quarter of the work force unemployed, and many of those who do have jobs earning US$10 a day or less, even cheap seats are out of reach.

Some 40 000 tickets have been allocated to construction workers who are building stadiums to be used for the tournament but other citizens must pay to watch the matches.

"I urge those who can afford to buy tickets to go and buy them now, the free tickets are targeted at very specific people," said Jordaan.

The second phase of ticket application is closing on 16 November.

It will be the first time the Fifa World Cup is played on African soil.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

New twist in Semenya gender saga

Tests have revealed Caster Semenya's testosterone level to be three times higher than those normally expected in a female sample, BBC Sport understands.

Analysis prior to the World Athletics Championships and the 18-year-old's big improvement prompted calls for a gender test from the sport's governing body.

It was made public only hours before the South African, who has been backed by her nation, won the 800m in Berlin.

A high level of the hormone does not always equate to a failed drugs test.

But the news will only increase speculation surrounding Semenya, who arrived back in South Africa to a rapturous welcome on Tuesday.

Semenya was welcomed by hundreds of well-wishers on her return to South Africa

Hundreds turned out in Johannesburg to greet the teenager, who has stunned the athletics world with her performances this season.

She ran a time of one minute, 56.72 seconds in Bambous in July to smash her previous personal best by more than seven seconds.

She also broke Zola Budd's long-standing South African record and arrived at the World Championships as the newly crowned African junior champion.

Then in Berlin she left her rivals trailing to win gold in a time of 1:55.45.

Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei was second, a massive 2.45 seconds adrift, with Britain's Jenny Meadows taking the bronze medal.

Only hours before the race, it leaked out that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had demanded Semenya take a gender test amid fears she should not be allowed to run as a woman.

It has since emerged that news of the test only became public knowledge because a fax was sent to the wrong person.

Caster is like my child. I know where she comes from. For myself, I know Caster is a girl Semenya's uncle

It has also been revealed that following the findings of initial tests, the South Africans were asked by the IAAF to withdraw her from the team at the World Championships.

Since then, both her family and South African athletics chiefs have leapt to her defence, insisting she is 100% female.

"Caster is a girl. I am not worried about that too much," said her uncle on her arrival back in South Africa.

"Caster is like my child. I know where she comes from. For myself, I know Caster is a girl."

Leonard Chuene, president of Athletics South Africa (ASA), has resigned from his seat on the IAAF board in protest against the organisation's treatment of Semenya.

"It will not be fair for me to attack the IAAF as a council member and representative of South Africa. It is a conflict of interest," Chuene told BBC's Newshour programme.

Chuene also asked that the issue be laid to rest.

"We have not once, as ASA, doubted her," he said. "It's very simple - she's a girl.

"We took this child to Poland to the junior championship under the IAAF. Why was there no story about it? She was accepted there.

"No-one said anything there because she did not do anything special. She is the same girl."

Semenya has been humiliated - Holmes

Testosterone levels can vary widely, which makes it hard to detect possible infractions.

When analysis shows an athlete to have a raised level, they are monitored at regular intervals over a set period to establish what their underlying levels would be.

That is then used as a marker for the future, so any sharp differences immediately stand out as suspicious.

An analysis of Semenya's testosterone levels was carried out in South Africa and it is understood that this information contributed to the IAAF's decision to request the ASA carry out a detailed "gender verification" test on the athlete.

Those medical tests are said to be ongoing, with the results not expected for several weeks.

On Sunday, IAAF president Lamine Diack admitted the affair could have been treated with more sensitivity.

"It should not even have become an issue if the confidentiality had been respected," he said. "There was a leak of confidentiality at some point and this led to some insensitive reactions."

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

Wikipedia to launch page controls

The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is on the cusp of launching a major revamp to how people contribute to some pages.

The site will require that revisions to pages about living people and some organisations be approved by an editor.

This would be a radical shift for the site, which ostensibly allows anyone to make changes to almost any entry.

The two-month trial, which has proved controversial with some contributors, will start in the next "couple of weeks", according to a spokesperson.

"I'm sure it will spark some controversy," Mike Peel of Wikimedia UK, a chapter of the organisation that operates Wikipedia, told BBC News.

However, he said, the trial had been approved in an an online poll, with 80% of 259 users in favour of the trial.

"The decision to run this trial was made by the users of the English Wikipedia, rather than being imposed."

The proposal was first outlined by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in January this year. It was met by a storm of protests from Wikipedia users who claimed the system had been poorly thought out or would create extra work.

'Lock down'

The two-month trial will test a system of "flagged revisions" on the English-language Wikipedia site.

This would mean any changes made by a new or unknown user would have to be approved by one of the site's editors before the changes were published.

Whilst the changes are being mulled over, readers will be directed to earlier versions of the article.

Wikimedia said the system was "essentially a buffer, to reduce the visibility and impact of vandalism on these articles".

There have been several high-profile edits to pages that have given false or misleading information about a person.

For example, in January this year the page of US Senator Robert Byrd falsely reported that he had died.

If a page has a number of controversial edits or is repeatedly vandalised, editors can lock a page, so that it cannot be edited by everyone.

For example, following initial reports of the death of Michael Jackson, editors had to lock down two pages to stop speculation about what had caused his death.

"For these articles, flagged protection will actually make them more open," said Mr Peel.

The decision had been made to focus on the pages of living people, he said, because they were the "most high-profile pages with the highest probability of causing harm".

"[The trial] may also be extended to organisations which are currently operating," he added.

The system has already been in operation on the German version of Wikipedia for more than a year.

The changes to the English language site - which now has more than 3m pages - will be rolled out in the coming weeks, said Mr Peel.

The changes will be discussed in Buenos Aires this week at the annual Wikimania conference.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

French banks back bonus reforms

French banks have agreed to bring in a new system of performance-related pay, following controversy over the high levels of bonuses paid to traders.

France's banking federation said there would be penalties for those who lost money as well as rewards for success.

The statement came after bank officials held talks in Paris with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Sarkozy asked the banks to report to him on their bonus policies amid pressure to curb excesses.

In April, G20 leaders pledged to apply tough new policies on compensation.

Mr Sarkozy said after the meeting that he would continue to press for tougher controls on bankers' bonuses at the next G20 summit in the US city of Pittsburgh in September.

Public disquiet

Bonuses have been a source of contention, not just in France, but also in other European nations and the US.

There has been public disquiet that leading banks, which have been seen as a major cause of the financial crisis, have been receiving taxpayer funds, but are not prepared to change their traditional culture of awarding big bonuses to key staff.

The US House of Representatives recently voted in favour of laws to stop banks paying bonuses that promote excessive risk-taking.

The vote came after a report suggested that Wall Street banks that were bailed out by the government gave executives bonuses regardless of performance.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

Strictly reveals dancing line up

The star contestants for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing include boxer Joe Calzaghe, the BBC has revealed.

Actress Lynda Bellingham, Crimewatch host Rav Wilding, ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell and tennis champion Martina Hingis will also take part.

Hollyoaks' Ricky Whittle and The Bill's Ali Bastian, EastEnder Ricky Groves and Natalie Cassidy will compete with BBC Breakfast's Chris Hollins.

Ex-Footballers Wives star Zoe Lucker is also among the competitors.

Lucker will take to the dancefloor against her co-star from the ITV melodrama, actress Laila Rouass.

Contest changes

Athlete Jade Johnson and jockey Richard Dunwoody will also represent the world of sport in the series, which begins on BBC One on Friday 18 September.

Jo Wood, the estranged wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie and actor Craig Kelly - who plays factory manager Luke Strong in Coronation Street - complete the line-up.

Kelly is also well-known for playing Vince in 1990s drama Queer As Folk.

Actress Bellingham, who is a regular on ITV1's Loose Women, is the oldest celebrity dancer in the competition at 61.

Bastian previously played Becca in teen soap opera Hollyoaks.

The makers of the Saturday night show have also revealed some changes to the way the competition is run for the seventh series.

The first two weeks will see the 16 competitors split into two groups, but not into men and women as in previous outings.

There will be shows on Friday and Saturday for the opening two weeks, but the Sunday results show has been shelved in favour of an extended edition on Saturday night.

The rules have been changed so that in the event of the judges' scores resulting in a tie, any couple can be saved from the dance-off, while no pair is safe.

It was previously announced that former winner Alesha Dixon is to replace Arlene Phillips on the judging panel in the new series.

Head judge Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli will return as judges.

Former Royal Ballet star Darcey Bussell will appear as a guest judge in the last three shows of the run.

Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will return to present the programme.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 25th August 2009

Obama's dilemma over CIA tactics

Barack Obama has begun his summer holiday at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, one of those elegantly appointed seaside resorts where wealthy American liberals seek spiritual refreshment.

Facilities at the 30-acre farm rented by the first family have been exhaustively catalogued (it includes a basketball hoop and a golf hole) and ground rules have been set for the huge press corps which has migrated to the beach with the Obamas.

Essentially they boil down to a request to allow the president's daughters Sasha and Malia to enjoy themselves in peace.

We have also been furnished with Mr Obama's reading list which seems to have been put together to impress us, rather than to entertain him - it includes a biography of John Adams, America's second president and a book about the promise of the green revolution.

It does not include any of those airport thrillers about the exploits of the CIA and its agents.

The implication is that Mr Obama will be hearing more than enough of those before, during and after his holiday as the story of how the Bush administration handled terror suspects at the height of its war on terror continues to unfold.

A report by the CIA's own inspector general compiled in 2004, which had previously been published only in a heavily redacted form (so much of the text was blanked out that it was rendered incomprehensible), has now been placed in the public domain on the orders of a federal judge.

Graphic reading

It makes extraordinary reading with its descriptions of how CIA interrogators pressured 9/11 suspects - threatening that their children would be killed, or their mothers sexually assaulted in front of them.

 

It is graphic stuff - but the issue of what to do about it is presenting the Obama administration with one of its most difficult dilemmas.

The US is in recession, in the middle of an escalating war in Afghanistan and is also locked in a divisive debate about healthcare reform.

But the past - the legacy of the Bush administration's war on terror - simply will not go away.

The question is now that these startling depictions of the handling of those suspects are in the public domain is - what should happen next?

Mr Obama's own instincts on the matter are interesting.

He talks of wanting to look to the future, not the past, which is a clear enough signal that if it were up to him he might well decide on balance that it would be better not to re-open old wounds.

And there is some evidence to back that up. In May the president moved to block the release of 2,000 or so photographs which show the mistreatment of prisoners in American hands in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He does not want to inflame anti-American feelings around the world of course, but he does not want to alienate the professionals within America's own intelligence agencies on which his government depends.

The problem is that below the cautious pragmatism of the White House rages a partisan political battle over how these issues should be handled.

Bush on trial

For one thing, America's human-rights lobby wants full disclosure - the impetus for the release of the full text of that CIA report came from legal action taken by the American Civil Liberties Union.

But on the left of the Democratic Party there is a real appetite for proceeding with further investigations into these interrogations and for prosecutions.

In the eyes of many, this is an opportunity to put the Bush administration itself on trial.

For years, while George W Bush was in the White House, Democrats railed impotently against what they regarded as illegal wars, immoral detention and interrogation techniques, and a dark and secretive political atmosphere in which they sense American values were betrayed.

They have the upper hand now and they want to take advantage of this.

Conservatives, though, will argue that the harsh interrogations came at a desperate moment in American history, in the aftermath of 9/11 when the CIA was under huge pressure to establish how great the dangers were of further attacks on American soil.

The interrogators could be cast as dedicated intelligence officers, ruthless only in the cause of protecting their fellow citizens.

For the moment, the human-rights lobby appears to have the upper hand in the debate.

A report from an ethics committee within the Department of Justice called for a dozen cases to be re-opened, and Attorney General Eric Holder has now appointed one of his department's prosecutors to look into allegations of abuse.

The attorney general's announcement fell short of saying that the department lawyer charged with the task would be able to subpoena witnesses - as an independent counsel can.

Could that be a clue as to how likely it is that CIA operatives will end up in the dock?

Mr Obama's new man at the CIA, the veteran Washington insider Leon Panetta, wrote to his staff saying "in many ways [this is] an old story", and making the point that the CIA did manage to gather useful intelligence about al-Qaeda when it was in short supply.

So there are signs at least of differences of emphasis within the administration.

Mr Obama's advisers will be horrified at the idea of going into the mid-term elections at the end of next year with the impression in the air that Republicans are tough on national security issues, while they are merely tough on Republicans.

Mr Holder's new investigation will provide a measure of breathing space on the issue for the White House.

The search will now once again be on for some way to defuse the landmines left by the old administration in the path of the new.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 24th August 2009

Bolt storms through to 200m semis

Jamaica's Usain Bolt remains on track for a World Championships sprint double after easing into the 200m semi-finals in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Bolt, fresh from winning the 100m, won his second-round heat in 20.42 seconds.

Britain's Marlon Devonish and Ireland's Paul Hession also qualified after Tyson Gay pulled out with a groin injury.

In the 400m, defending champion Jeremy Wariner and Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt sauntered into the semi-finals by comfortably winning their heats.

Gay's withdrawal from the 200m before the first round had already increased Bolt's chance of repeating his Beijing double, with the semi-finals scheduled for Wednesday at 1825 BST and the final on Thursday.

Bolt looked tired in his morning heat and, despite cruising through the first 100m, the 22-year-old was forced to up his pace to ensure he qualified first in a time of in 20.70.

But he seemed far more relaxed in the second round and cruised to victory after a few hours' sleep in between races.

"I think the 100m took a lot more out of me than it did in Beijing," said Bolt. "I wasn't in the best of shape, like I was in Beijing, but a good night's sleep should make sure I'm OK.

"I got three hours sleep after my morning heat and that was enough for me."

Devonish, Britain's only representative after the withdrawals of Dwain Chambers and trials winner Toby Sandeman, won his morning heat before finishing third in his second-round run in a time of 20.66.

"I didn't execute the turn as well as I would have liked to so put more pressure on myself," the Coventry Godiva athlete told BBC Sport.

"I have to make sure I execute in the semi-finals and I should be fine. I want to get into the final and then let loose and see what happens."

Hession finished second in his morning heat and third in his round-two run with a time of 20.48.

Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist and 2008 Olympic silver medallist, looked in top form as he clocked 20.37.

Jamaica's Steve Mullings was the fastest qualifier in 20.23, while 19-year-old Alonso Edward from Panama impressed in winning his heat in 20.33.

Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya broke clear in a frantic last lap to clinch the men's 3,000 metres steeplechase gold medal.

Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong took silver with Frenchman Bouabdellah Tahri preventing a Kenyan clean sweep by finishing strongly and pipping Paul Koech on the line for bronze.

Morocco's Jamel Chatbi withdrew from the final after testing positive in a doping test after the heats.

Olympic bronze medallist Sanya Richards ran the fastest women's 400m of the year to win gold in 49 seconds.

Fellow American Kerron Clement retained his men's 400m hurdles crown with a world best for the year of 47.91 seconds.

The Olympic silver medallist beat Puerto Rico's Javier Culson who clocked 48.09, while 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson was third in 48.23.

Defending 400m champion Wariner, who was shocked by Merritt in Beijing last summer, progressed in 45.54 and Merritt impressed with a run of 45.23.

"It was a great race, I'm feeling good," Merritt told BBC Sport. "It's the semis tomorrow so I'll come out and step it up a notch.

"Last year was a good year and I plan on coming out on top again.

"Training's been going well and I had some good races. My times weren't amazing but they didn't need to be. I'm here, I'm ready and now I'll step it up."

The three British entrants - Robert Tobin, Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney - also made it through, as did Ireland's David Gillick.

"I felt really relaxed down the back straight," Tobin told BBC Sport after winning heat one in 45.50.

"I have been working very hard on my technique and could see I was in the lead so I was able to relax. It was nice and comfy.

"I've had year after year of injury and this winter was the first time I've been injury free. I'm fit and healthy and ready to run."

Rooney false started in lane one before finishing third in a quick heat with a time of 45.45 to progress to the semi-finals from 1715 BST on Wednesday.

"You've got to learn how to run from every lane," said the 22-year-old Croydon Harrier. "I'm just glad I got through.

"It's my fourth race this season so it's another one under my belt. It wasn't a great run, it was quite terrible actually. I'll take each race at a time."

Lisa Dobriskey was the only Briton to qualify for Friday's women's 1500m semi-finals as Charlene Thomas and Stephanie Twell crashed out.

Highlights - Brit runs with one shoe

"It did feel quite relaxed but in the same sense really tense," said Dobriskey. "There's not much to gain by going through to the semi-finals but there's lots to lose. I'm so, so pleased to go through."

There were high hopes for Thomas and Twell but both made tearful exits, Thomas after losing a shoe which was loosened when Shannon Rowbury fell.

"I couldn't believe it," said Thomas. "She went down and I thought I had cleared it. My shoe was half way off my foot and I had to flick it off. It stings so much running without a shoe.

"I was excited, relaxed and ready to go. I wasn't nervous - I was enjoying the experience and know I could have got in the top six."

Twell, the world junior 1500m champion, said: "I'm not 100% sure what happened. I tried to stay on the inside and lost a lot of energy trying to move forward.

"I thought it (qualification) was on but they just seemed to have another gear.

"I felt good, everything has been great leading into the championships and I can't believe it's over. I'll have to analyse the race and get it right for next time."

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 18th August 2009

Japan economy leaves recession

Japan has come out of recession after its economy grew by 0.9% in the April-to-June quarter.

The growth comes after four consecutive quarters of contraction.

Correspondents say the rise is due to a huge government stimulus package and it is unclear whether the momentum will be sustained when this is concluded.

Recent figures show other economies coming out of recession, including Germany, France and Hong Kong, a sign the global slowdown is easing.

Despite Japan exiting recession, the country's main share index, the Nikkei, fell back as the rate of growth was not as large as analysts had hoped.

If Japan's latest quarterly rate were maintained for a full year, the economy would grow 3.7%, but this was less than market expectations of 3.9%.

The Nikkei ended down 329 points or 3.1% to 10,269.

'Positive contribution'

Japan officially fell into recession last year and there was a dramatic fall in growth in the January-March period as the world economic slowdown hit Japanese exports hard.

Government stimulus measures totalling $260bn (£159bn) helped to boost the economy, including cash handouts and subsidies to buy energy-efficient cars and home appliances, the BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says.

Manufacturers also benefited from recovering demand in China and other markets, with overall exports up 6.3% during the quarter.

But Japan could still face a long road to sustainable recovery, our correspondent says, with domestic private consumption rising only 0.8% despite the stimulus measures.

Seijiro Takeshita, director of Mizuho Financial, Japan's second largest banking group, told the BBC that the Japanese economy was now staging a "true comeback".

"We are definitely getting out of the excessive pessimism that we have been seeing... however, a lot of big questions remain, namely private consumption," he said.

"We know this time it was good, but that was due to a lot of government stimulus spending."

European recovery

Japan is heavily reliant on its exports.

The slowdown in the US has hit it hard as American consumers have limited their spending.

In a recent Bank of Japan report, the central bank underlined its cautious view of the economy.

While it said conditions in the Japanese economy had stopped worsening, it warned that unemployment would stay high and consumer spending low.

Last month, the bank forecast that Japan's economy would shrink by 3.4% in the 12 months to 31 March 2010.

The French and German economies both grew by 0.3% between April and June, bringing to an end recessions in Europe's largest economies that have lasted a year.

Analysts had not expected the data, suggesting recovery could be faster than previously expected.

And Hong Kong recorded growth of 3.3% in the three months from April to June.

That data was also better than had been expected, with the government subsequently increasing its forecast for growth in the whole year

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 17th August 2009

Bolt sets record to win 100m gold

Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt set a new world record as he stormed to a stunning victory in the 100m at the World Championships in Berlin.

The 22-year-old Jamaican recorded a time of 9.58 seconds to shave 0.11 off the mark he set last year when winning gold at the Beijing Olympics.

American Tyson Gay was second in a time of 9.71, with Jamaica's Asafa Powell claiming bronze in 9.84.

Britain's Dwain Chambers came sixth in a season's best time of 10.00.

Bolt, who set three world records when winning his Olympic golds in Beijing last summer, served up another superlative display to enhance his reputation as the best sprinter of all time.

In the final, he powered out of the blocks at the first time of asking and took control of the race within the first 30m, the crowd going wild as he streaked across the line.

Bolt's time represents the biggest increase in the record since electronic timing was introduced in 1968.

"I was ready, I was feeling good after the semi-finals," Bolt told BBC Sport.

"I knew it was going to be a great race and I came out and executed it. It's a great time. I did well and I feel good in myself."

Former world record holder Powell paid tribute to his compatriot, saying: "When I saw the time I had to try and catch him, but I couldn't."

Gay, who went into the final as the reigning world champion, has been troubled by a nagging groin pain and had to cut practice on his start.

I expected a great race - Bolt

"I ran the best I could but it was not enough," he said. "I believe I put in a championship performance and I am very pleased with the national record.

"I'm happy he ran 9.5 because I knew he could do it. I'm happy for him."

Chambers, back competing at the top level after serving a two-year ban for taking the designer steroid THG in 2003, said the final was a "great experience".

"It is hard to explain what it is like to go out there and stand on the line to compete with the best in the world," said the 31-year-old. "It does not get easier as you get older but it is worth it."

Earlier, there was controversy as Britain's Tyrone Edgar was disqualified from the semi-finals.

After Bolt made the opening false start, Edgar was ruled to have transgressed the second time, although initial reaction times seemed to suggest that decision was harsh.

"I don't think it was a false start," said the 27-year-old Edgar, who was also disqualified at the London Grand Prix last month.

"To me it looked pretty good but there is nothing I can do. I am not going to argue the point. I am disappointed right now because I reckon I would have made the final."

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 16th August 2009

Blackburn 0 - 2 Man City

Emmanuel Adebayor struck after only three minutes of his debut to help Manchester City make a winning start to the new Premier League season.

The £25m summer signing lashed in an 18-yard drive to open his City account.

Chris Samba's header was superbly saved by Shay Given, who also denied Benni McCarthy as Rovers responded well.

After the break Given kept out Jason Roberts's header and Robinho's shot was saved by Paul Robinson, before Stephen Ireland slotted in to seal the points.

After City's summer spending spree that brought in five players at a cost of almost £100m, the pressure was on for them to deliver on the pitch from the first whistle.

And that was virtually what they did as Adebayor wasted no time in continuing his great run of form against Rovers that had seen him score eight times against them for his former team Arsenal.

Allardyce laments 'harsh result'

The Togo striker played the ball out wide to Shaun Wright-Phillips and when the winger cut back inside and rolled the ball square invitingly, Adebayor was there to drill home his shot that Robinson could only help into the net.

With Rovers clearly stunned, and their pre-match promise to kick lumps out of their opponents now needing a readjustment, City enjoyed a dominant 10-minute spell.

But once the dust had settled, Rovers hit back and began to run the midfield as Gareth Barry - another City debutant - struggled to cope as the only holding midfielder.

And soon it became clear that for all City's potential in attack - such apparent strength in depth that Carlos Tevez was only on the bench - their problems at the back had not been solved.

Kolo Toure, City's third new boy in their starting line-up, and his central defensive partner Richard Dunne looked less than comfortable under a number of diagonal high balls.

Rovers debutant Steven N'Zonzi had a shot hacked away and Roberts lifted a volley over the bar from 12 yards after Blackburn worked a chance via a bout of head tennis.

Frailties in City's backline were again in evidence when Given and Dunne, and then Given and Toure, just about got away with mix-ups.

Rovers, though, could not take their chances. McCarthy struck a free-kick straight at Given and Samba's header was also kept out by the keeper.

'Fighting spirit' pleases Hughes

Another well-worked move ended in McCarthy firing straight at Given as big-spending City found themselves firmly on the back foot.

The previously anonymous Robinho then announced his presence on the pitch when his drive from 18 yards was tipped over by Robinson.

Back came Rovers and when Keith Andrews' volley hit Dunne's arm there were loud shouts for a penalty but the referee waved them away.

A spell of driving rain after the break made conditions difficult and neither side could establish any rhythm or keep possession.

In fairness to City, they had also tightened up at the back and were no longer affording Rovers as much space to work in.

Oops - Hughes' early season slip-up

But one lapse of concentration almost cost the visitors when an unmarked Roberts headed through a crowd of players and it took another fine stop from Given to keep his side in front.

Shortly after, the enigmatic Robinho almost sealed it for City but his shot was brilliantly diverted by Robinson, who dived low to his right.

It was the last contribution by the Brazilian forward as he made way for Tevez to make his debut.

The Argentine, who joined for £25m in the summer, almost copied his strike partner Adebayor by notching on his debut but once again Robinson was equal to a testing shot.

Before that, Ireland ballooned over after great work by Bellamy who had launched a rapid counter attack.

And McCarthy fizzed over a 20-yard free-kick as Rovers desperately tried to salvage something from the game.

But late on, Ireland broke clear and bided his time before coolly converting at the far post to ensure City started the season - and their new era - with three points and an away victory that is already half the total they managed last season.

 

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce: "I think it was very harsh," he said. "Our failing today was in the poor quality of our finishing.

"But their goalkeeper Shay Given also made one brilliant save after another and that kept them in the game.

"We should have gone in at half-time in front. In the second half we couldn't quite manage to achieve the same tempo. It is very disappointing."

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes: "Many people might have been looking to see if we were going to fall flat on our face today and I thought we gave a great response.

"You saw great character from City today. If we continue to play with the character we showed today then we will keep progressing.

"We stood up to the challenge and we showed the qualities we will need."

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 15th August 2009

Chelsea 2 - 1 Hull

Didier Drogba's speculative injury-time strike gave new Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti a winning introduction to the Premier League - and left Hull City heartbroken after a spirited display of defensive defiance.

Ancelotti's new charges, heavily touted to end Manchester United's domestic supremacy, looked like they would have to settle for a point as time ran out in an entertaining encounter at Stamford Bridge.

New Tigers signing Stephen Hunt's close-range finish after 28 minutes even threw up the prospect of a shock, although Drogba swiftly levelled for Chelsea with a contentious free-kick from 25 yards.

But Phil Brown's side looked to have survived a Chelsea onslaught as the fourth official Phil Dowd signalled six added minutes, to Hull's obvious disbelief.

And disbelief turned to despair seconds later as Drogba's lofted finish drifted over Hull keeper Boaz Myhill and in at the far post to give Ancelotti his first three points since his summer switch from AC Milan.

Chelsea deserved the victory on pressure alone, which saw the excellent Myhill defy Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Jose Bosingwa after the break.

Hull's disappointment was obvious at the final whistle, although boss Brown and his players will take great heart from pushing one of the Premier League title favourites to the wire.

Brown gave the combative Hunt his debut after a £2.5m move from Reading - and he was a central figure in an eventful first 45 minutes of the Premier League campaign.

Hunt received a hostile reception from Chelsea fans, who recall his clash with Petr Cech at Reading that resulted in the keeper suffering a fractured skull.

Ancelotti praises players' belief

He was unmoved by the jeers and had already clashed with Frank Lampard before Drogba wasted an opportunity to give Chelsea the lead inside the first minute, flashing a right-foot volley wide from Michael Essien's cross.

The Tigers, predictably, were forced to mount a rearguard action in the opening exchanges but were soon showing attacking ambition to threaten Chelsea.

George Boateng volleyed just off target and Dean Marney headed over the top from an inviting Hunt cross as the visitors ventured out of their own territory to challenge Chelsea's early supremacy.

John Terry headed inches over the bar and Boateng was denied by Cech's legs before Hull took a surprise lead after 28 minutes.

Boateng's shot from the edge of the area took a crucial deflection before falling into the path of Hunt, who made himself even more of a villain in the eyes of Stamford Bridge by applying a simple finish with Cech stranded.

Hull's lead lasted only nine minutes before Chelsea drew level, courtesy of Drogba's wonderfully struck free-kick from 25 yards. Hull questioned the award when referee Alan Wiley penalised Seyi Olofinjana for a foul on John Mikel Obi - but there was no arguing with the delivery from Drogba as it dipped low past Myhill.

Drogba admits to lucky winner

Hull suffered another blow shortly before half-time when Marney limped off to be replaced by Nick Barmby, while Chelsea made a change of their own during the interval as Michael Ballack came on for Mikel.

Chelsea resumed in the ascendancy and Anelka should have given them the lead within seconds of the restart, hitting Myhill's legs from point-blank range after he was played in by Drogba.

Hull then somehow survived a frantic goalmouth scramble before Drogba was denied by the defiant Myhill from eight yards when he looked certain to give Chelsea the lead.

Brown's side broke the shackles after 65 minutes when Hunt's cross found Caleb Folan perfectly positioned eight yards out, but the striker chose to try and find a team-mate instead of head for goal and the chance was lost.

Brown proud of Hull performance

It was Hunt's final contribution, with Brown introducing another summer signing in former Celta Vigo striker Kamel Ghilas. Ancelotti's response was to replace the subdued Florent Malouda with Deco.

Myhill was Hull's hero in the second half, and he was in action again with 15 minutes remaining as he dropped low to his left to deny Bosingwa.

Ancelotti made his final change when Salomon Kalou replaced Anelka, and he should have been an instant hero, only to wastefully head Deco's cross over the top.

The tension around Stamford Bridge increased as the fourth official signalled that lengthy period of added time - and Hull's worst fears were confirmed when Drogba floated an angled finish over Myhill into the far corner.

Ancelotti led the Chelsea celebrations on the touchline as his first win was heavily tinged with relief.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 15th August 2009

Everton 1 - 6 Arsenal

Arsenal produced a scintillating opening-day display to hammer a woefully out-of-sorts Everton.

Denilson fired Arsenal ahead with a curling 25-yard strike before new signing Thomas Vermaelen doubled their lead with a header from a free-kick.

William Gallas headed the third before two Cesc Fabregas goals made it 5-0.

Gunners substitute Eduardo was on hand to tap in a late sixth before Louis Saha rolled in the most inconsequential of goals for Everton in injury time.

In the aftermath of this defeat for Everton, questions will inevitably be asked about the mindset of Toffees centre-back Joleon Lescott, who has made it clear he would like to join Manchester City and here formed one-quarter of a very poor home backline.

There will be no need for such soul-searching at Arsenal though as they produced a stunning display of incisive, fluent counter-attacking football to register the biggest opening-day victory in Premier League history.

For the first 25 minutes the hosts matched their visitors as the presence of 10 midfield players on the pitch, led to shared possession in a congested central third.

In pre-season, Nicklas Bendtner doubled his shirt number but in being asked to play an unfamiliar role as one-fifth of Arsenal's midfield quintet his usual work-rate was similarly increased, and it was he who fashioned the chance from which his team opened the scoring.

The tall Dane brought the ball down and fed Fabregas, who in turn found Denilson 25 yards out and his first-time shot curled away from Tim Howard's despairing dive and found the top left-hand corner.

Wenger delighted after Arsenal rout

Denilson proved equally useful at the other end minutes later when Marouane Fellaini muscled himself some room in a crowded penalty area to allow him to head Leighton Baines's right-wing corner goalwards but the Brazilian was well-placed on the line to punt clear.

It was to be a costly miss for the home side for in Arsenal's next attack Robin van Persie swung a right-wing free-kick to the far post where Vermaelen had found space round the back to double the visitors' lead with a header into the far corner.

It was a harsh lesson, but one Everton failed to heed for barely five minutes later another Van Persie free-kick, this time from the left, found Gallas unmarked in front of goal and with the simplest task to glance his header in.

Any fight David Moyes may have drummed up in his side at half-time was knocked out of them two minutes into the second half as Van Persie fed Fabregas through on goal and his shot found its way under the onrushing Howard and into the net.

No positives for Moyes after 6-1 defeat

The Spanish midfielder - the creative force at Arsenal's heart - showed just why he is so coveted by European champions Barcelona when he scampered through and struck a low drive into the bottom left corner for his second and the Gunners' fifth.

Eduardo, making his Premier League return after his lengthy absence through injury as a late substitute, got himself in on the act when he found himself in the right place to tap in a simple sixth for the Gunners.

Andrey Arshavin's toe-poke had struck a post and fallen at the Croatian's feet leaving the easiest of finishes.

Everton introduced Saha in an attempt to register a presence on the scoreline, and while the French forward did indeed side-foot in a goal after Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia had parried a shot from Steven Pienaar, it was far too late to garner any respectability for the home side.

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 15th August 2009

Man City must be patient - Hamann

Dietmar Hamann has urged Manchester City to be patient with manager Mark Hughes as the Welshman gels together the star names at the club.

Hughes has drafted in Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Roque Santa Cruz this summer.

"The pressure will be bigger than last year and you have to wait and see," ex-City midfielder Hamann told BBC Sport.

"It's important to keep faith with the manager now as they can't change him every year if they want to go forward."

Expectations are high at Eastlands after Hughes was given the funds by the club's billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan to bring some of the Premier League's biggest names to the club.

City have strengthened their attack with the signings of former Manchester United striker Tevez, Togo international Adebayor and Santa Cruz from Blackburn.

England regular Barry has also signed from Aston Villa to bolster the midfield, while Toure's arrival from Arsenal provides Hughes with some much-needed cover in defence.

The new arrivals have seen City eclipse their Premier League rivals in terms of spending in the close season, but whether the new-look side can come together as an effective unit remains to be seen.

Their first real test comes on Saturday when Hughes's 'galacticos' travel to face his former club Blackburn in their first game of the season.

"It's exciting times," added Hamann. "But they have to make sure they gradually improve and don't go from one extreme to another. If they do that then they have a great future."

Since replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson as City manager at the beginning of last season Hughes's spending is close to the £200m mark.

And, despite sounding a cautious warning over expectations, Hamann does believe his old side are in a position to push on and challenge the Premier League's elite.

"If you look at it, they probably have a squad as good as anyone now," said the 35-year-old, who played 71 games for City in three seasons before being released in the summer.

"If they do improve, and get a good team and good team spirit going, then they can challenge for a top-four position very soon."

source: bbc

Posted on Friday 14th August 2009

France and Germany exit recession

The French and German economies both grew by 0.3% between April and June, bringing to an end year-long recessions in Europe's largest economies.

Stronger exports and consumer spending, as well as government stimulus packages, contributed to the growth.

The data came as a surprise, with few analysts expecting Germany and France to start to recover so soon.

But economic activity in the eurozone fell by 0.1%, showing the region as a whole is still in recession.

It was the fifth consecutive quarter of economic contraction in the eurozone, but was a marked improvement on the 2.5% drop recorded in the first three months of the year.

UK reaction

 

Markets reacted positively to the news, with the main German and French markets up more than 1% at midday.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 1.3%, with traders anticipating a positive effect on the UK economy, which by contrast shrank by 0.8% in the second quarter.

Asked about why the UK seemed to be lagging behind, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "Different economies will show different patterns of behaviour."

"But the key point is all these economies rely on each other; 55 to 56% of our trade is with the rest of Europe. So when [they are] recovering that is good news for our manufacturers and our exports here."

France and Germany may have been less hard hit than the UK by the global economic slowdown because their financial sectors, which were at the heart of the crisis, account for a smaller proportion of their economies.

Export recovery

Germany was thrown into recession earlier in the year because its exports collapsed.

The latest figures showed German exports had grown at their fastest pace for nearly three years at 7%, with particularly strong growth in demand from rapidly-growing economies such as China.

The country's Federal Statistics Office said that household and government expenditure had also boosted growth.

It added that imports had declined "far more sharply than exports, which had a positive effect on GDP growth".

"These [GDP] figures should encourage us," said Germany's Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. "They show that the strongest decline in economic performance likely lies behind us."

Reaction among analysts to the signs of Germany's recovery, however, was mixed.

"The recession has ended, and it has ended sooner than we all thought. We expect to see growth of 1% in the third quarter, which is very strong for Germany, and I wouldn't rule out the chance of even better growth," said Andreas Rees at Unicredit.

But there are concerns that the banking system across Europe is still fragile and that the growth is reliant on government stimulus spending that will eventually have to come to an end.

BBC Europe business reporter Mark Sanders said that although the surprise news was highly welcome for those that have been suffering, there were questions about how strong and credible the economic recovery is.

"To draw a medical analogy, we've got the patient waking from a coma and talking to medical staff," he said. "They're not necessarily going to be running any marathons soon."

 

Consumer spending

In France, economy minister Christine Lagarde said: "The data is very surprising. After four negative quarters France is coming out of the red."

Ms Lagarde said that consumer spending and strong exports had helped to pull France out of recession.

 

"What we see is that consumption is holding up," she said.

Official figures showed that household consumption rose by 0.4% in the second quarter.

She said government incentive schemes for trading in old cars, together with falling prices, were helping consumers.

Foreign trade contributed 0.9% to the GDP figure - a "very strong impact", said Ms Lagarde.

"[The figures are] a positive surprise, as many people were expecting slightly negative numbers," said Marie Diron at Oxford Economics.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 13th August 2009

Schumacher calls off F1 comeback

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher has abandoned his comeback with Ferrari because of a neck injury.

The 40-year-old, who retired at the end of 2006, was set to deputise for the injured Felipe Massa at the European Grand Prix in Valencia on 23 August.

"Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello," Schumacher told his website.

Schumacher suffered the neck injury in a bike accident in February.

"The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe," he added.

"That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by F1 yet. These are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination on Monday afternoon.

"As there were no improvements after the day in Mugello, I decided at short notice on Sunday to do that thorough examination on Monday."

Schumacher won five championships with Ferrari and had been working as a consultant for the Italian team before his decision to come out of retirement to stand in for Massa.

The German, who claimed his other two drivers' crowns with Benetton, has entered 250 grands prix, winning a record 91 of them.

His return was eagerly anticipated but, despite trying everything 'medically or therapeutically' possible, he has had to admit defeat.

"I am disappointed to the core," he said. "I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me.

"I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races."

Brazilian Massa is recovering from the serious head injuries suffered during qualifying for the Hungarian GP.

And, while the rest of the F1 drivers were enjoying their mid-season break, Schumacher had embarked on a rigorous training regime, resulting in him losing more than six pounds in weight before calling off his return.

"It's hugely disappointing," said David Croft, Radio 5 live's F1 commentator. "The F1 world was very much looking forward to seeing Michael Schumacher locking horns with Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.

"But it's hardly surprising. The g-forces that your neck muscles particularly are exposed to in a modern-day F1 car can take their toll and give you severe punishment during the course of a race.

"If you are not 100% fit, there's no way you can think about driving one of these cars."

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2009

Gerrard pulls out of England game

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has pulled out of the England squad for Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands because of a groin injury.

Gerrard's withdrawal follows that of Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster on Monday.

"Steven Gerrard will not travel to Amsterdam this morning for England's friendly with Holland on Wednesday," a Football Association statement read.

"Gerrard has returned to Liverpool as a precaution due to a tight groin."

No replacement for Gerrard has been named.

Foster, 26, picked up a knock during his side's FA Community Shield defeat by Chelsea on Sunday.

Manchester City's Joe Hart - currently on loan at Birmingham City - has been called up as a replacement.

Lampard looking forward to Holland test

First-choice goalkeeper David James was left out of the England squad by coach Fabio Capello because of a knee injury.

West Ham's Robert Green and Blackburn's Paul Robinson are the other two keepers in the squad, one of whom is now likely to start at the Amsterdam Arena.

Green, who has four caps, started England's last two matches, the World Cup qualifying wins against Kazakhstan (4-0) and Andorra (6-0) in June.

Robinson won the last of his 41 caps in a 2-1 European Championship qualifying defeat by Russia in Moscow in October 2007.

Foster has played twice for England, the first in the 1-0 defeat against Spain in February 2007 and the second as a second-half substitute in the 4-0 win over Slovakia in March this year.

He is expected to be first-choice for Manchester United in the absence of regular number one Edwin Van der Sar, who will be sidelined for up to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken finger and bone in his left hand.

Foster started the Community Shield match against Chelsea on Sunday, but was unable to prevent United losing 4-1 on penalties.

Following seven successive qualifying wins, England are on the cusp of qualifying for the World Cup next summer in South Africa, while the Dutch, who have also notched up seven victories, are assured of a place in the 2010 finals.

After playing the Netherlands, Capello's England face Slovenia in a friendly on 5 September, before facing Croatia in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on 9 September.

 

England squad for 12 August friendly against the Netherlands:

Goalkeepers: Robert Green (West Ham United), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Paul Robinson (Blackburn Rovers)

Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Manchester City), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Everton), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham United)

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Aston Villa), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)

Forwards: Carlton Cole (West Ham United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2009

Angola praised on Asian oil deals

One of Africa's largest oil producers, Angola, is much tougher in negotiating deals with Asian firms than critics might suggest, a new report claims.

UK-based think-tank Chatham House says the country does not fit the stereotype of weak African states being exploited by resource-hungry Asian tigers.

Their report contrasts Angola with Nigeria, which it says has mismanaged its relations with Asian firms.

It says Nigeria has put $20bn (£12bn) of infrastructure at risk.

'Playing politics'

In Angola, President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos has been in power for almost 30 years, boosting stability and helping to create a functioning state-owned oil company, Sonangol, the report says.

 

Angola emerged as the second-largest supplier of oil to China last year, helping the African country secure at least $13bn in oil-backed loans from Beijing.

"While Nigeria was playing politics with its Asian partners, Angola was driven by economic necessity to quickly access funds to finance its reconstruction," the report said.

The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the co-operation between Angola and China reflects the fact that Beijing, unlike the West, has played a major part in rebuilding Angola after its long civil war.

Legal moves

Nigeria's dealings, on the other hand, have been bogged down by corruption and mismanagement.

Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo sought partners in China, India, South Korea and elsewhere to buy oil blocks in return for billions of dollars of infrastructure.

But not a single barrel of oil was ever produced by Asian national oil companies in Nigeria, leaving the Nigerian economy with no tangible benefit, the report said.

"The scale of the corruption, mismanagement and non-execution of projects in the Obasanjo years has sent shockwaves through Nigeria," the report said.

"His intentions were good but officials failed to spell out the full implications of the scheme. And many used the scheme for private profit."

When President Umaru Yar'Adua took power in May 2007 many deals were revoked - and a Korean firm has taken the Nigerian government to court over the issue.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2009

Facebook in challenge to Google

Facebook has turned up the heat on Google by purchasing content-sharing service FriendFeed, say industry watchers.

Many expected Google or even Twitter to buy the company, which has been praised for its "real-time" search engine.

This type of search is valuable because it lets you know what is happening right now on any given subject.

"Google look out, Facebook knows the real money is in real-time search," said respected blogger Robert Scoble.

"Google is the king of regular search. FriendFeed is the king of real-time search. This makes the coming battle over this issue much more interesting," Mr Scoble told the BBC.

Back in May, Google founder Larry Page admitted that the search giant had fallen behind other services like that of Twitter, which boasts nearly 45 million users worldwide.

"People really want to do stuff real time and I think they (Twitter) have done a great job.

"We've done a relatively poor job of doing things that work on a per second basis," Mr Page said at the time.

'Warning shot'

Many in Silicon Valley agree that this deal has changed the game.

"Facebook was unable to acquire Twitter so this is the next best option," said Ben Parr, associate editor of Mashable, a news blog covering social media.

"FriendFeed is well known for having some powerful and intelligent technology that allows users to aggregate everything they do online and do it all in real time.

"With this acquisition, Facebook is gunning directly not only at Twitter, but at Google. This is a warning shot to those two companies," Mr Parr told BBC News.

Mr Scoble noted that FriendFeed's real-time search could stretch back 18 months compared to a few days for Twitter.

Silicon Valley commentators have long regarded FriendFeed as an inspiration for many of Facebook's features.

These include the ability for users to import activities from third parties services like YouTube and Flickr to letting users comment or say they "like" something in another user's feed.

"FriendFeed has in effect been the R&D (research & development) department for Facebook for some time now," said Mr Scoble, who is one of the service's most popular users with nearly 46,000 subscribers.

"They have the best community technology out there and Facebook should continue to use them to try out new features and test them out before transferring them over to Facebook."

The deal

The purchase caught many in Silicon Valley by surprise, even though the two companies had been talking on and off for the past two years.

"This is an 11th hour deal," admitted FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor.

Industry commentators had expected Google to make a bid for the company, especially given the fact that its founders all used to work there.

"FriendFeed accepts Facebook friend request" is how Mr Taylor described the buyout, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to how Facebook users ask one another to become part of their friend network.

He continued in a similar vein in his blog post.

"As my mom explained to me, when two companies love each other very much, they form a structured investment vehicle.

"Our companies share a common vision. Now we have the opportunity to bring many of the innovations we've developed at FriendFeed to Facebook's 250 million users around the world."

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was equally praiseworthy.

"Since I first tried FriendFeed, I've admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information.

"As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use."

As part of the agreement, all FriendFeed employees will join Facebook and the company's four founders will be given senior roles on the social networking site's engineering and product teams.

FriendFeed will continue as it is for the moment independently.

"Eventually, one way or another, it's hard to see FriendFeed as it stands now, continuing on," said MG Siegler of Silicon Valley news site Tech Crunch.

"Facebook will begin to take up too much of the FriendFeeders' time, and it will languish. It's sad, but that's the web. Not every service can flourish. There simply aren't enough users with enough time to use all of them."

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2009

How to Get Along With Your Boss

At one point or another in your career, you will report to a manager, the person you fondly - or not - call boss. The relationships that you create and manage, with both your immediate boss, and other company employees, are critical for your work success and career progress.

And, face it, whether you like it or not, you're in charge of your relationship with your boss. No one will ever share as much concern as you do that the quality of the relationship helps you achieve your goals. At the same time, your boss has information that you need to succeed. He can't do his job or accomplish his goals without your help.

So, your manager shares a critical interdependence with you. If you don't accomplish your work, your manager will never shine for his or her overall responsibilities. You won't progress without the information, perspective, experience, and support of your manager.

Despite knowing this, managers do come in every size and with all possible levels of skill and effectiveness. Some managers are just plain bad bosses; others are unaware of what you need from them. Managing up is challenging, but ultimately, worth your time.

How to Develop an Effective Relationship With Your Boss

These steps will help you develop a positive, ongoing, supportive relationship with your boss - a relationship that serves you well, your manager well, and, as a consequence, your organization well.

  • The first step in managing up is to develop a positive relationship with your boss. Relationships are based on trust. Do what you say you'll do. Keep timeline commitments. Never blind side your manager with surprises that you could have predicted or prevented. Keep her informed about your projects and interactions with the rest of the organization.Tell the boss when you've made an error or one of your reporting staff has made a mistake. Cover-ups don't contribute to an effective relationship. Lies or efforts to mislead always result in further stress for you as you worry about getting "caught" or somehow slipping up in the consistency of your story. Communicate daily or weekly to build the relationship.Get to know your manager as a person - she is one, after all. She shares the human experience, just as you do, with all of its joys and sorrows.

     

  • Recognize that success at work is not all about you; put your boss's needs at the center of your universe. Identify your boss's areas of weakness or greatest challenges and ask what you can do to help. What are your boss's biggest worries; how can your contribution mitigate these concerns? Understand your boss's goals and priorities. Place emphasis in your work to match her priorities. Think in terms of the overall success of your department and company, not just about your more narrow world at work.

     

  • Look for and focus on the "best" parts of your boss; just about every boss has both good points and bad. When you're negative about your boss, the tendency is to focus on his worst traits and failings. This is neither positive for your work happiness nor your prospects for success in your organization. Instead, compliment your boss on something he does well. Provide positive recognition for contributions to your success. Make your boss feel valued. Isn't this what you want from him for you?

     

  • Your boss is unlikely to change; she can choose to change, but the person who shows up to work every day has taken years and years of effort on her part to create. And, who your boss is has worked for her in the past and reinforced her actions and beliefs. Instead of trying to change your boss, focus instead, on trying to understand your boss's work style.Identify what she values in an employee. Does she like frequent communication, autonomous employees, requests in writing in advance of meeting, or informal conversation as you pass in the hallway. Your boss's preferences are important and the better you understand them, the better you will work with her.

     

  • Learning how to read your boss's moods and reactions is also a helpful approach to communicate more effectively with him. There are times when you don't want to introduce new ideas; if he is preoccupied with making this month's numbers, your idea for a six month improvement may not be timely. Problems at home or a relative in failing health affect each of your workplace behaviors and openness to an improvement discussion. Additionally, if your boss regularly reacts in the same way to similar ideas, explore what he fundamentally likes or dislikes about your proposals.

     

  • Learn from your boss. Although some days it may not feel like it, your boss has much to teach you. Appreciate that she was promoted because your organization found aspects of her work, actions, and/or management style worthwhile. Promotions are usually the result of effective work and successful contributions. So, ask questions to learn and listen more than you speak to develop an effective relationship with your boss.

     

  • Ask your boss for feedback. Let the boss play the role of coach and mentor. Remember that your boss can't read your mind. Enable him to offer you recognition for your excellent performance. Make sure he knows what you have accomplished. Create a space in your conversation for him to praise and thank you.

     

  • Value your boss's time. Try to schedule, at least, a weekly meeting during which you are prepared with a list of what you need and your questions. This allows him to accomplish work without regular interruption.

     

  • Tie your work, your requests, and your project direction to your boss's and the company's overarching goals. When making proposals to your boss, try to see the larger picture. There are many reasons why your suggestion may not be adopted: resources, time, goals, and vision. Maintain strict confidentiality.

     

  • In your relationship with your boss you will sometimes disagree and occasionally experience an emotional reaction. Don't hold grudges. Don't make threats about leaving. Disagreement is fine; discord is not. Get over it. You need to come to terms with the fact that your boss has more authority and power than you do. You are unlikely to always get your way.

Use these tips to build a powerfully effective relationship with your boss

source: HR

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2009

Chamakh pushes for Arsenal move

Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh has made a new appeal to the French club to sanction his proposed move to Arsenal.

The Gunners' reportedly had an offer of £7.5m rejected by Bordeaux, who want £15m despite Chamakh, 25, having only one year left on his current contract.

"My priority is Arsenal, but there are other clubs," the Moroccan, who has also been linked with Sunderland, Fulham and Tottenham, told Canal Plus.

"If it's Arsenal, so much the better. I hope it'll be sorted out very quickly."

Chamakh was speaking ahead of his side's opening Ligue 1 match of the season in which he scored as Bordeaux beat Lens 4-1 at home.

He added: "I am not sleeping as well as I normally do.

"I made my wishes known to the directors at the end of last season. I expressed a wish to join another league.

"As much for Bordeaux's sake as for mine, my situation has to be clarified. I thought they (Bordeaux) would have made things easier for me."

Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud said on Wednesday that he would grant Chamakh his dream move to Arsenal if Gunners manager Arsene Wenger returned with a improved offer.

Wenger was quoted in L'Equipe on Tuesday as saying: "In five months, if he doesn't prolong his contract, Chamakh will be free to talk to any club and Bordeaux won't get anything.

"In the current context, to me, it is over. Let's say that at the moment it is terminated.

"I like Chamakh, he is a forward that attracts me, but I already have (Theo) Walcott, (Nicklas) Bendtner, (Robin) Van Persie, (Andrey) Arshavin and Eduardo. I am in no rush.

"My offer seems fair to me, taking the market into account. Chamakh would be good, but there are other options should we wish to pursue them."

Triaud accepted he would lower his initial asking price, but did not say by how much.

Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc does not want to lose Chamakh, a player the former France captain considers crucial to his side's chances of retaining the Ligue 1 title they won in May.

He scored 13 goals in 34 Ligue 1 games last season and has scored 15 times in 50 games for his country.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 10th August 2009

Your Image Is You

Successful people believe their success is attributable to a pattern of mutually beneficial interpersonal relationships, as much as it is due to technical skills or business knowledge. Your communication and the image you present create the first impression - often the lasting impression - on the people you meet. Want a more professional image? How you present yourself is the first step in building that mutually beneficial network of contacts.

Studies about people meeting reveal that most people make decisions about a new acquaintance within the first thirty seconds to two minutes of interaction. This does not give you much time to make a good impression.

Studies by Dr. Albert Mehrabian at UCLA revealed that when we try to convey meaning through our communication with others, the majority of our message is communicated nonverbally and through voice and facial expression. Approximately seven percent of the message is communicated by words.

His studies revealed that up to 37% of a first impression is based upon the speaker's tone of voice. On the telephone, that number rises to 80% or higher, according to many communication consultants.

Let's look at four areas that have a huge impact on your image and how you present yourself professionally:

  • appearance
  • interpersonal interaction,
  • written interaction, and
  • networking.

Professional Appearance Counts

The standard advice given by mentors and managers to people who want to advance their career has always been to dress for the job you want, not the job you have currently. Even in this day of more casual dressing for work, your professional image will serve you well when promotions, lateral moves, choice assignments and departmental visibility are available.

A professional appearance sets you apart from coworkers who are less concerned about projecting a successful, professional image. Here are Guidelines for Business Casual Dress and for Business Casual Dress in a Manufacturing Work Environment. These dress code guidelines will serve you well in any workplace that espouses today's casual environment.

Posted on Monday 10th August 2009

Clinton tour reaches South Africa

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in South Africa where she is urging the government to do more to bring about change in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Mrs Clinton, on the second leg of an 11-day Africa tour, has been in talks with her South African counterpart.

Later, she will meet former South African President Nelson Mandela.

In the coming days Mrs Clinton will meet President Jacob Zuma and is likely to return to the Zimbabwe situation as well as discussing business and health.

Speaking before leaving Nairobi, the first stop on her Africa tour, Mrs Clinton said she intended to ask Mr Zuma "about what more South Africa believes can be done to strengthen the reform movement inside Zimbabwe".

Correspondents say she will ask Mr Zuma in their meeting on Saturday to use his influence to combat what she has called "negative effects of the continuing presidency of President [Robert] Mugabe" in Zimbabwe.

The US is concerned that although its economy has improved, many of the political and social reforms promised by Mr Mugabe following the power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have not yet been implemented.

Mrs Clinton raised the issue of Zimbabwe during a meeting in the capital Pretoria with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

 

Ms Nkoana-Mashabane told the BBC earlier she believed the Obama administration would work alongside the African Union in helping to bring peace to parts of Africa.

"We see this administration and the government of the USA as a strategic partner on the political front, as we work with them to look at the mechanisms to resolve areas of conflict working together with the African Union," she said.

Mrs Clinton is also scheduled to meet Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Later, she will meet Mr Mandela, South Africa's first black president, and attend a conference with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi before attending National Women's Day events in the capital, Pretoria.

Relations between the US and South Africa were warm during the 1990s under Presidents Mandela and Bill Clinton, says the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg.

A commission was established to prioritise areas of co-operation but when Mr Clinton left the White House this was quietly forgotten.

South African officials hope that the visit by Mrs Clinton, the former US president's wife, will signal a new period of co-operation to support the already strong business links, says our correspondent.

African potential

Hillary Clinton spoke about Somalia at the University of Nairobi

Mrs Clinton began her seven-nation African tour in Kenya on Wednesday where she held talks in Nairobi with Kenya's president and prime minister.

Addressing African leaders at an economic summit, Mrs Clinton said the continent had "enormous potential for progress".

But she stressed that harnessing that potential would require democracy and good governance.

Before Mrs Clinton arrived in Kenya, the US embassy in Nairobi had issued a statement scolding Kenya for its decision not to set up a local court to seek justice for the victims of the deadly clashes which followed the 2007 election.

On Thursday, Mrs Clinton met the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in the Kenyan capital.

She offered to increase US support for his unity government and to "take action" against neighbouring Eritrea if it does not stop supporting militants in Somalia.

Eritrea denies supporting Somalia's al-Shabab militants, who are trying to overthrow Somalia's government.

The Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu told the BBC Mrs Clinton's comments were "very disappointing" and that the White House had "failed to learn mistakes of the previous US administration".

Mrs Clinton's 11-day trip will take her to Angola on Sunday before she heads to Nigeria, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cape Verde.

source: bbc

Posted on Friday 7th August 2009

Liverpool agree fee for Aquilani

Liverpool have confirmed they have agreed a fee with Roma for Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

The transfer is reported to be worth £20m and is subject to a medical being completed later in the week.

"Alberto has a winning mentality and great experience in both Serie A and the Champions League," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

The move comes just hours after the Reds sold Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid for £30m.

Aquilani, 25, has played 11 times for Italy and has been with Roma, the club he supported as a child, since he was 16, making his debut as an 18-year-old under now England boss Fabio Capello.

"Aquilani has long been recognised as a top class talent in Italy, captaining his country at both Under 19 and Under 21 levels before establishing himself in the senior national side," said Benitez.

A statement on the Liverpool website added: "Liverpool concluded their discussions with Roma once the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was finally agreed."

The midfielder has not played since March due to an injury to his right ankle, which he had surgery on in May.

This restricted him to just 14 appearances for Roma last season.

Aquilani is set to be Liverpool's second major signing of the close season after England right back Glen Johnson joined from Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee in June.

Earlier on Wednesday, Benitez had stated that Liverpool would seek "the best replacement" for Spanish international Alonso after he completed his move to the Bernabeu.

"As soon as he told us that he wanted to leave we started working, looking for players," said Benitez.

The Reds had also been linked with Wigan's Lee Catermole and Valencia's David Silva.

Last summer a move for then Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry - now at Manchester City following a £12m summer transfer - fell through after Benitez was unable to sell Alonso to raise the sufficient funds for the deal.

 source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 6th August 2009

Thinking Strategically First Makes Strategic Planning Work

Strategic planning for organizations is not considered fun. Strategic planning is often done under duress because it is required. Strategic planning is important yet many such plans are found on bookcases, not on the desktops being used.

Done well, a strategic plan provides a useful focus that energizes and moves the organization toward its mission goals, plus it provides a document to recruit others to the mission. In short, a strategic plan is a valuable guide to focus time, talent, and resources in running a successful enterprise.

A Better Way to Accomplish Strategic Planning

How do we plan vacations? We read travel brochures and magazines to imagine fun places to visit. We invest energy in the process in planning a vacation. Where's the energy in strategic planning? The creative step that envisions possibilities and generates energy is generally missing. To think before planning is a logical one, yet most strategic planning processes devote insufficient think time prior to planning. The desire to get a strategic plan completed quickly relegates thinking to filling in blanks on work sheets.

Instead, when key stakeholders are invited to a creative thinking step, it engages and energizes all participants. This is where new ideas are generated, where innovative possibilities are visualized, and where the stage is set for implementation success. The more stakeholders are involved in the thinking and exploration, the more emotional and intellectual energy they have invested, and the higher the probability that implementation will occur successfully.

Strategic Thinking and Exploration

A strategic plan should not be solely an incremental list of current activities, but have at least a 20% 'ah ha' factor of new ideas. Otherwise, a linear, incremental plan will do little more than maintain the status quo, like treading water. With this premise, the pre-strategic planning stages need to include creative and innovative thinking. This stage should be one of exploring possibilities without constraint, a stimulating and enjoyable part of planning. Thus, think new ideas, explore them, and align them with the purpose of the organization.

Think: Questions at this first stage of strategic thinking should be expansive, akin to brainstorming ideas, yet focused around the following: Where is the industry or business heading? What do customers want or need next year and beyond? Using creative thinking methods, the team should consider all manner of ideas, including crazy ones.

Here is one sequence of questions to ask:

  1. What are the trends in the industry or business sector?
  2. Given the trends, what are three new ideas you can add to your best product/services?
  3. Given the trends, what products or services should you change or eliminate?
  4. Given the trends, what new products or services should you consider?

Explore: For each set of ideas, expand them and explore their potential to position your organization at a new plateau of success. During this stage, it is important to avoid discussing the feasibility or cost of an idea. Continue the brainstorming mode. Constraints will be considered in the planning stage.

Here are some questions for exploring ideas:

  1. What criteria should you use to decide a good from a great idea?
  2. If implemented, which ideas will distinguish yours from other businesses?
  3. If you take action on any specific idea, what will be the impact (both positive and negative) for taking action? What if no action is taken? Any impact? What could add at least 20% more value to one's current products and services? The 20% is somewhat arbitrary. Pick a number. How much change is expected in the business environment the next 12 months? The goal is to continue to grow to at least keep up with the shifting competitive environment.

Strategic Planning: The Tactical Segment

Thinking and exploration might be considered the strategic segment while the planning stage is the tactical segment. During the planning stage the realities of funding and resource constraints are brought to bear in selecting the best ideas for the plan. It is here that decision making tools, based on desired criteria, are used to select options for the final strategic plan.

For example, criteria can be:

  • cost to set up,
  • time required to complete the new service offering,
  • fit with current products and services, and
  • potential for growth and profitability.

In planning, the traditional steps come into play, to include analyzing strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), competition, and available resources. These latter aspects further guide the decision making, providing a different set of constraints. Note that many of the opportunities in the SWOT will have been considered in the think and explore stage. Here are some questions for this stage:

  1. Which of the ideas fit your mission immediately, short term, and long term?
  2. What are the time, talent, and resource requirements for the ideas?
  3. Which of the ideas have the highest return-on-investment once implemented?
  4. What does one have to do to implement the plan, as it pertains to people, skills, technology, and funds?

Final Useful Thoughts About Strategic Planning and Strategic Plans

Consider three interlocking rings of who you are (strengths and weaknesses), what the customer wants (opportunities and threats), and what you stand for (purpose and mission). The central intersection created by these three rings will reveal the unique opportunities that only your circumstance can offer. This distinctive intersection might be called your fit, where no other organization has the same conditions.

Don't lose this potential to differentiate from the competition. In reality, strategic planning is a means to find your unique fit. If you consider a strategic plan merely a working guide, and not a formal document for presentation requiring perfected details, then there is a higher probability for successful implementation.

Thanks to Human Resources

Posted on Thursday 6th August 2009

ECB sees global growth next year

The European Central Bank (ECB) has said it expects to see growth returning to the global economy next year as it kept interest rates on hold at 1%.

The bank said that economic activity is likely to remain weak this year.

But while the outlook was uncertain, it said that there were signs the recession was "bottoming out" and that "positive growth" would return in 2010.

Eurozone interest rates are among the highest for developed economies. The Bank of England kept rates at 0.5%.

'Uncertainty'

"Economic activity over the remainder of this year is likely to remain weak, although the pace of contraction is clearly slowing down," said ECB president Jean Claude Trichet.

"While uncertainty is still high... and we have to be prepared for ongoing volatility in incoming data, there are increasing signs the global recession is bottoming out.

"Looking ahead into next year, after a phase of stabilisation, a gradual recovery with positive growth rates is expected," he added.

The ECB last cut rates in May, when they were reduced to 1% from 1.25%. It has reduced rates seven times since last October, when rates stood at 4.25%.

As part of efforts to boost business lending and spur economic growth, the central bank has also supplied cash to the banking system and previously pledged to buy 60bn euros (£50bn) of low-risk corporate bonds.

The ECB's vice president Lucas Papademos described the programme to buy bonds as "very successful".

Unemployment in the countries which share the euro is at a record high. Consumer demand is also weak, with retail sales falling in June.

source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 6th August 2009

Man Utd suffer Van der Sar blow

Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar will miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a broken finger and bone in his left hand.

The Dutchman, 38, is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks.

Van der Sar was hurt saving a penalty in the pre-season 7-6 penalty shoot-out defeat by Bayern Munich last week.

Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak will bid to start Sunday's Community Shield game with Chelsea and the Premier League opener against Birmingham on 16 August.

Van der Sar's misfortune could pave the way for Foster to stake his claim for a regular starting spot for United and England, who are on the verge of rubber-stamping qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals.

Foster, 26, signed a new contract in July and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said at the time: "He is seen as one of the best young goalkeepers in England and we genuinely see him as a successor to Edwin."

Foster only played nine games for United last season, the majority of which were in cup competitions.

However, he was given the second of his England caps by coach Fabio Capello in the 4-0 friendly win over Slovakia in March, two years after making his debut in a 1-0 defeat by Spain.

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 5th August 2009

The Darker Side of Goal Setting: Why Goal Setting Fails

Why don't most people set and achieve personal goals, career goals and business goals? Goal setting is a positive, powerful practice when it ignites enthusiasm and provides clear direction.

When practiced poorly, however, goal setting also has a serious downside which can undermine your success. Poor goal setting makes people cynical, wastes their time and fosters confusion about where to concentrate actions and energy. How does such a potentially successful practice as goal setting, go wrong, so often?

If you've read my work for any length of time, you know that I am a proponent of setting goals and measuring your progress in achieving them. A recent exchange with William Hamilton, President of TechSmith Corporation, and several other executive managers (who wish to remain anonymous) reminded me that goal setting, executed poorly, thoughtlessly, or for the wrong reasons, can have a significant negative impact on both people and your organization business plan.

Avoid these five misuses of a potentially positive, powerful practice: goal setting for personal goals, career goals and business goals.

Just Do It: The Art of Intimidation

Organizations often fail to achieve goals and strategic planning targets that are set top down, by executives who lack crucial information and are out of touch with staff challenges. The goals are unrealistic and they fail to consider organization resources and capabilities. Staff members don't believe that the rewards they will receive for goal accomplishment will equal the energy they invest to achieve them. Frequently, managers are intimidated when they fear job loss for failure.

A former Siebel Systems executive says, "My favorite goal setting story of all time was how Siebel set sales goals for its District Managers: everyone's quota was $3.5 million. There, no more thought needed to go into it, no discussion - just do it or you're fired! So the District Manager calling on Citibank had the same quota as the District Manager calling on the States of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Guess which guy got fired?

"I also remember how I used to spend the last day of every sales quarter at Siebel performing unnatural acts to close business and save my job. At the end of the year, I had to work until 10:00 p.m. on the last day of the sales quarter (while we had company over at home) to get one last deal closed. This deal saved my job. I was one of two state and local district managers that avoided the axe two weeks later."

Goals Intended to Impress, Not Guide Efforts

William Hamilton says, "During the roaring, crazy days of the dot.com nineties, using goals to impress was common place, although organizations also utilized this technique long before the Internet arrived. In this process, management creates goals based on the desire to impress or mislead outside groups."

According to Hamilton, this process is, "also used to avoid serious analysis of the company and the marketplace. At the end of the time period, these goals can then be used by senior management to pass the buck and the blame for the failure to meet the goals.

"To internal staff members, who were often unconvinced and unmoved by the unrealistic, 'show goals,' senior management's actions produced serious morale and competency-questioning issues. To staff members who bought into the euphoria, failure to achieve the goals was a deadly downward spiral."

The first part of this article (see below) emphasized several problems with how organizations set goals. Additional potential problems with setting personal goals, career goals and business goals include the following.

We Had to Destroy the Village

In an effort to meet the current period's goals, the long-term viability of the organization is put at risk. Hamilton gives these examples of negative actions people take to meet unrealistic goals. "They:

  • Focus development efforts on the next sale.
  • Offer deep discounts on products to move future sales into the current period.
  • Push expenses into the future, rather than accounting for them when incurred.
  • Use expensive promotions that actually generate less in sales than they cost.
  • Fail to carefully develop long term strategic efforts, when 'strategic' means the payoff is not within the next goal time period."

A former IBM manager illustrates this point with this story. "One ridiculous process was the way IBM used to set sales quotas. In the later years there, when the company was showing very slow growth, you could count on a 25-30 percent increase in quota. It didn't matter that most IT (Information Technology) budgets were stagnant, so the quota process was demoralizing in a big way. The way to make dollars there, was to find a job where they weren't sure how to set the quota - some kind of new area - and clean up and move on. Some people specialized in this sort of behavior."

Goal Setting Becomes About the Plan, Not the Execution

Hamilton says a potential serious downside occurs when "the ratio of energy, time and creativity that goes into creating the goal outstrips (and comes out of the hide) of actually managing the product."

In one small manufacturing company, a management group decided to use gantt charts to track goal accomplishment. After starting with a huge investment of time in making the charts for all of their goals, the management group soon abandoned the charting. When questioned later, they affirmed that the charting was taking too much of the time they needed to accomplish the goals. But, they had awesome charts while they were keeping them up.

Another example of this is when an organization spends time and energy to develop a comprehensive business plan, and then the plan sits in a drawer. While the act of making the plan was important, the follow-up is the critical piece. Regular review and follow-up make a plan live - and serve.

Too Many Goals Make Nothing a Priority

In my work with small and mid-sized manufacturing companies, I often find that people wear so many hats, they are overwhelmed with the sheer number of goals they are expected to meet. I once facilitated a strategic planning session during which people analyzed and established priorities. They moved non-priority items to a "B" list and believed they had successfully created an "A" list of the most important, achievable goals.

You can imagine my consternation when, at the end of the session, the senior manager looked at the list of goals on the "B" list and said, "These are all givens. We have to accomplish these anyway."

People with too many goals experience these issues.

  • They never feel as if they accomplish a complete task.
  • It is difficult to tie their goal accomplishment to a reward and recognition system that recognizes their accomplishments.
  • They don't know what is most important to accomplish next.
  • They fall prey to the "check it off the list" syndrome in which they check tasks off their list before the actions have been integrated by the organization.

Goal setting is a positive, powerful, business practice when it tells your staff where you are going. Effective goal setting also demonstrates what success will look like during the journey and upon arrival. When practiced poorly, however, goal setting can negatively impact your organization in all the ways described, and more.

Thanks to HR

Posted on Wednesday 5th August 2009

Pattison reveals World Cup dream

Matty Pattison has revealed that it was the dream of representing South Africa at next year's World Cup that led him to leave Norwich City and return home.

The 24-year-old midfielder this week signed for PSL side Mamelodi Sundowns after finding himself out of favour at Norwich City.

The former Newcastle United player is now hoping his decision to return home will help to attract the attention of Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully it'll mean I can get a place in the World Cup squad," Pattison told BBC Sport.

"I don't look at it as a step down because it means that I'll be seen by the people who pick the Bafana squad, which wasn't happening when I was playing in England.

"I'm very proud to be South African so it would mean everything to play for them."

Born in Johannesburg, Pattison moved to England at the age of 11 and rose through the youth team ranks at Newcastle, eventually making 10 appearances for the club.

He signed for Norwich last January but the combative midfielder failed to hold down a regular starting spot as the club were relegated to League One - the third tier of English football - last season.

"I'll miss playing in England but I'm not going to rule out going back one day," said Pattison.

"I just wanted to give myself the best chance possible of playing in the World Cup and I think coming to South Africa is the way to achieve that."

He will join an experienced squad under new manager Hristo Stoichkov, with the Bulgarian legend appointed by the Sundowns' billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe to replace Henri Michel back in June.

They could only finish ninth in the PSL last season despite the presence of several international stars but Pattison is confident they can improve on that showing as the new season kicks off this weekend.

"They've got the potential to be one of the top teams in the league and it didn't take long for me to decide this was where I wanted to come," he said.

"I've watched some of the football in South Africa and it's a very good standard - I didn't expect it to be so quick but that should suit my game having played in England.

"Sundowns have seven or eight players in the national squad so I'm hoping that I can add to that very soon."

source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 5th August 2009

Everton in talks to sign Senderos

Everton have confirmed they are in talks with Arsenal over the signing of Swiss defender Philippe Senderos.

Senderos, 24, joined the Gunners in 2003 and made over 100 appearances before spending the 2008-09 campaign on loan at AC Milan.

"We have been negotiating with Arsenal for the transfer of Philippe," Everton chairman Bill Kenwright told his club's official website.

"Nothing has been concluded yet but talks are ongoing."

A fee of about £6m is thought to have been discussed for the Switzerland international but an Everton club source claimed the centre-back was not being signed as a direct replacement for Joleon Lescott.

Everton have rejected two bids, of £15m and £18m, for England defender Lescott, who reportedly held talks with Toffees manager David Moyes on Monday but did not submit a formal transfer request.

Lescott, who is ruled out of Tuesday's friendly at Blackpool with a hip injury, has been told by Moyes he will not be sold and City have yet to put in a third bid.

Senderos would at the very least provide Everton with cover at the back, where Phil Jagielka is not due to return from a knee injury until November at the earliest.

The former Servette player trained with his Arsenal team-mates during a Members Day at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 4th August 2009

Mido completes move back to Egypt

Middlesbrough striker Mido has returned to his native Egypt after signing a year-long loan deal with Zamalek.

The 26-year-old began his career with Zamalek before moving to Dutch giants Ajax, one of seven clubs he has played for in Europe.

Boro manager Gareth Southgate had admitted it was likely Mido would leave Teesside following the club's relegation to the Championship.

Mido signed for Boro from Tottenham in a £6m transfer in August 2007.

Southgate has already moved to replace the Egyptian by signing Leroy Lita, who was available on a free transfer after leaving Reading.

Earlier this week, Southgate told Middlesbrough's official website a deal for Mido to leave the club was close.

"We've agreed a one-year loan deal with Zamalek for Mido.

"We hope that will go through soon. We need another striker in the squad," he said.

Following Boro's relegation from the Premier League in May, the former Roma and Tottenham striker failed to turn up for the first two weeks of pre-season training and was disciplined by the club.

Mido, who has scored seven goals in 32 games for Boro, spent the end of last season on loan at Wigan, where he scored two goals in 12 games.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 4th August 2009

Hillary Clinton heads to Africa

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on her way Kenya, to begin an 11-day tour of the African continent.

Her trip will include South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia and Angola and she will meet Somali leaders in Kenya.

The visit, her longest overseas journey in her post to date, is part of an attempt by the US to show that Africa remains a key foreign policy priority.

Development issues - including food security, health and gender concerns - are expected to be high on the agenda.

Mrs Clinton's trip comes less than a month after US President Barack Obama travelled to Ghana.

Somali hopes

Ahead of her arrival on Tuesday, the US embassy in Nairobi issued a statement scolding Kenya for its decision not to set up a local court to seek justice for the victims of the country's post-election violence.

At least 1,300 people died during clashes following the disputed December 2007 poll.

Meanwhile Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said the meeting with Mrs Clinton in Kenya would be "a golden chance for the Somali people and government".

"It signals how the American government, the Obama administration and the international community are willing to support Somalia this time," he said, referring to earlier failed peacekeeping missions to the country.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 4th August 2009

Liverpool agree to sale of Alonso

Liverpool have reached an agreement to sell midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject to a medical.

The fee for the Spanish international is reported to be in the region of £30m but Liverpool said the terms of the deal would remain confidential.

The 27-year-old joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in August 2004.

A statement on Real's website confirmed the news and added that Alonso will arrive in Madrid on Wednesday "to undergo the required medical".

If the deal goes through Alonso will become the second Liverpool player to join the Spanish giants after full-back Alvaro Arbeloa's switch to the Bernabeu last week.

Real, under the guidance of returning president Florentino Perez, have embarked on an ambitious rebuilding programme this summer and Alonso's arrival will push their spending beyond the £200m mark.

Cristiano Ronaldo arrived from Manchester United in a world record £80m deal, Brazilian playmaker Kaka was bought from AC Milan for £56m and they have also spent £30m to sign France striker Karim Benzema from Lyon.

In addition defender Raul Albiol was signed from Valencia as Real looked to build a squad capable of challenging for honours at both home and abroad.

Rivals Barcelona completed a clean-sweep of domestic trophies in Spain last season, while Real have failed to progress beyond the last 16 of the Champions League for the past five seasons.

When the deal for Alonso is completed it will bring to an end Real's long pursuit of the Spanish international.

In July Real sporting director Miguel Pardeza was quoted as saying "Madrid don't discard an option until it is truly impossible", after reports suggested Liverpool wanted £50m for the midfielder.

It is believed Real returned with an offer of £30m that could rise to £34m depending on Alonso's success in Spain.

He will join former Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek at the Bernabeu, leaving only Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher from Liverpool's 18-man squad that won the Champions League in 2005.

Alonso and Dudek were both part of the side that dramatically fought back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to win the trophy in a penalty shoot-out, Alonso scoring Liverpool's third and equalising goal on 59 minutes.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had tried to sell the Spanish international last summer as he looked to fund a move for midfielder Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.

However, Alonso did not want to move and a deal for Barry eventually fell through, with Alonso going on to play a key role as Liverpool finished second in the Premier League.

source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 4th August 2009

'First' swine-flu death in Africa

South Africa has confirmed its first death from swine flu, believed to be the first documented fatality from the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.

Health officials said a 22-year-old student had died on 28 July, and tests had confirmed the cause of death as the H1N1 influenza virus.

The country has had at least 150 confirmed swine flu cases - easily the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa.

The illness has caused hundreds of deaths in North and South America.

Dozens more have died in Asia and Europe.

Africa was the last continent to be hit by the virus and has so far escaped relatively lightly.

South Africa confirmed its first case of the disease on 18 June and according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has had 151 cases in total.

The health ministry called the student's death "unfortunate and deeply regretted".

A statement from the ministry said he had been ill for about a week before going to a Western Cape hospital, where he was treated with antibiotics for pneumonia.

He died two days later.

The ministry's statement added: "We are encouraged by the fact that the majority of cases in South Africa have so far been mild and we hope that this will remain so despite this unfortunate death."

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

Google chief leaves Apple board

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has quit Apple's board of directors because the search giant's business is increasingly competing with Apple's.

Apple boss Steve Jobs said that had Mr Schmidt stayed on, crossovers between the two firms' projects mean he would have to leave chunks of meetings.

Google's Android operating system is used in mobile devices that compete with Apple's iPhone.

Google is also developing an operating system based on its Chrome web browser.

The Federal Trade Commission has been examining whether Google's common ties with Apple might discourage competition.

In May, Mr Schmidt said that he had not contemplated stepping down as an Apple director because he did not see the company as a "primary competitor".

The decision for him to depart was a mutual one, Mr Jobs said.

"Unfortunately...Eric's effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest."

Google is beginning to promote its Google Voice service - which assigns a phone number to users, who can let the user divert calls to that number to other phone lines.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission wrote to Apple and Google seeking more information about Apple's rejection of a Google Voice application for the iPhone.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

Pound and FTSE hit 10-month highs

The pound and the FTSE 100 index of top UK-listed shares have hit their highest levels since October on growing hopes for an economic recovery.

Markets took heart after brighter UK economic data and a rally in financial stocks following profits from banking giants HSBC and Barclays.

Sterling rose as high as $1.6925 against the dollar and also hit a one-month high against the euro.

The FTSE 100 index rose as high as 4,710.23 points.

Shares in Barclays climbed 7.3% after reporting an 8% rise in half-year profits, while HSBC rose 5.7% after it made better-than-expected profits of $5bn.

 

In afternoon trade, the FTSE 100 was up 1.8%, or 85.02 points, at 4,693.38 points.

Oil prices also rose to a one-month high above $71 a barrel, as an economic recovery should lead to greater demand for crude.

Lift for pound

The pound got a lift after data showed the UK manufacturing sector expanded for the first time in more than a year.

Manufacturing activity rose last month for the first time since March 2008, as new orders came in, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and Markit.

"The manufacturing sector has clearly pulled out of the nosedive it was in earlier this year and is no longer plummeting," said David Noble, chief executive of CIPS.

While still a long way below the $2 levels seen in July last year, the pound has rebounded 25% from the 23-year low of $1.35 it hit in January this year.

"Over the medium-term we are forecasting for sterling to continue to gain against the greenback, particularly if banks and blue-chip stocks show renewed strength, as Barclays did today," said David Clements, senior analyst at Caxton FX.

The UK economy is viewed as being particularly reliant on the banking sector so evidence of any upturn benefits sterling.

The pound has also benefited from recent weakness in the dollar.

The US currency has suffered as signs of a global economic recovery have encouraged investors to move their money out of dollars and into riskier assets.

The dollar is trading near its lowest levels this year when measured against a group of major currencies.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

Barclays profit up to almost ã3bn

Barclays has announced an 8% rise in first-half profits, boosted by its investment banking division.

Pre-tax profits for the first six months came in at £2.98bn ($5bn), although this was slightly below analysts' forecasts.

Profits at its investment bank Barclays Capital doubled, but those at its UK retail banking arm more than halved.

HSBC reported half-year profits of $5bn, although this was about half what it made in the same period a year ago.

By midday, shares in Barclays were up 9%, while HSBC had climbed 6.7%.

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston says the most resonant measure of how Barclays has performed can be seen in the average pay of staff at its investment bank, which was almost exactly £100,000 for just the first six months of the year.

Decisions about the sensitive issue of bonuses would not be made until the end of the year, however.

Rising bad debts

Total bad debts, across all parts of Barclays' international businesses, rose from £2.45bn to £4.56bn.

HSBC was also hit by rising bad debts in the US, Europe and Asia, forcing it to write-off $13.9bn - 39% more than the same period in 2008.

HSBC is currently in the process of closing its US consumer lending business, which suffered heavy losses from mortgages which went unpaid.

Barclays and HSBC are the first major UK banks to report half-year figures, with Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland reporting later in the week.

Investment banking 'back'

Profits at its UK retail banking division fell 61% to £268m, from £690m a year ago.

But profits at Barclays Capital rose to £1.05bn, from £524m a year ago.

Ralph Silva, banking analyst at Tower Group, said that not accepting government money would have contributed to Barclays Capital doing so well.

"Investment banking is back. If you are a big company you are going to gravitate towards the banks that have not received government funds," he said.

But, although Barclays has not received a direct injection of capital by taxpayers, it has received significant guarantees from the public sector.

It benefits from a promise that taxpayers will never let it fail, because it would be too damaging to the economy.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Vince Cable said: "The worry from the British taxpayers' point of view is that ultimately these [investment banking] operations are underwritten by the taxpayer."

"Its fine when they make money. But when they lose money they lose big-time and the taxpayer picks up the bill as we did last year."

'Strong performance'

Barclays said it had gained more investment banking clients thanks to the acquisition of some Lehman Brothers businesses in 2008.

The addition of some of the Lehman businesses also "increased significantly" Barclays' presence in the US, the bank said.

The US now accounts for about 40% of its income.

Conservative MP Michael Fallon, who is also on the Treasury Select Committee, told the BBC: "It is disappointing to see that so much of Barclays' effort now is overseas".

He said banks delivered well in good times, boosting tax revenues for the government and providing jobs adding, "there is nothing wrong with paying the right money to attract the right talent."

"But the difficulty is when these banks get into trouble ...they are bailed out effectively and don't suffer the pain other businesses suffer in the bad times," he said.

Barclays chief executive John Varley was upbeat on the bank's prospects for the rest of the year.

"The investments we have made, particularly in our international businesses, are driving very strong income performance and allowing us to absorb the consequences of the economic downturn," he said.

"Our goal for 2009 is very clear: we seek to deliver another year of solid profitability. Our first half performance is a good start to this."

Richard Hunter, head of UK equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the figures represent "a profitable performance against a difficult economic backdrop".

"Investors are beginning to appreciate the progress Barclays has made and the consensus is that the shares are a cautious buy," he said.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

SA policeman moves into station

A senior South African police officer has set up home in his police station after payments were stopped for his accommodation at a local guest house.

The Beeld newspaper reports that he washes in the station's kitchen and holds meetings in his pyjamas.

Superintendent David Matlahola has been living at Ratanga police station, east of Johannesburg for the past two weeks.

A local official told the BBC the situation had led to tensions between staff members.

Johan Bester, chairman of the local police liaison forum, said the police had agreed to pay his accommodation of 2,000 rand ($258; £152) a month boarding as a perk for relocating the station commander from Limpopo Province to Gauteng.

"The arrangement came to an end last month. He demanded to be moved into a state home but the police refused."

He said the matter had been brought to his attention by officers at the Ratanga police station.

"Mr Matlahola was told that he doesn't qualify for a state home because he is a high-ranking officer. I find this difficult to believe because I personally know of officers where I work, who have a similar ranking who live in state homes," he said.

Mattress

Police at the Ratanga station refused to comment on the record when contacted for comment by the BBC but they did confirm the story was true.

South Africa's Beeld newspaper, which says its journalists visited the police station, reports that Mr Matlahola has moved some of his furniture, including a lounge suite and a mattress, into his office.

Mr Bester told BBC that he has received a number of calls from community members concerned about the situation at the police station.

The Sapa news agency reports that the police have refused to comment on matter.

"It is an internal matter and will be handled internally," said Gauteng police spokesman Superintendent Eugene Opperman, Sapa reports.

The BBC's efforts to reach Mr Opperman were unsuccessful.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

Aston Villa agree fee for Delph

Aston Villa have agreed a fee with Leeds United for Fabian Delph.

Villa released a statement confirming they have been given permission by Leeds to talk to the midfielder.

The highly rated 19-year-old has risen through the ranks at Elland Road and was a regular for United in League One last season.

Manchester City and Everton have also been linked with the player and United confirmed they have rejected bids from Premier League clubs.

A Leeds statement added: "Leeds United wish to place on record our appreciation for the honourable manner in which Aston Villa have conducted their interest in the player.

"The club has resisted approaches from other FA Premier League clubs since agreeing terms with Aston Villa.

"Having given Villa our commitment to transfer the player (subject to a medical), we had no intention of going back."

Delph, who was the Football League's Young Player of the Year last season, signed a new four-year deal with Leeds in September but he has continued to attract interest from Premier League clubs.

He was withdrawn from United's pre-season friendly with Burnley on Saturday.

Last week, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes confirmed his side's interest in the England Under-21 international, saying he was "a young player who has been brought to our attention".

In June, Leeds denied Everton had made an approach for the youngster.

source: bbc

Posted on Monday 3rd August 2009

Man City move for Leeds teenager

Manchester City have entered the race to sign Leeds United's highly rated midfielder Fabian Delph.

Aston Villa and Everton have also been linked with the 19-year-old left-sided player, who was withdrawn from Leeds' friendly with Burnley on Saturday.

"We have an interest in the situation," said City boss Mark Hughes after their 1-1 friendly away draw with Barnsley.

City's interest in Delph is a surprise given their summer spending spree has targeted experienced internationals.

During the summer transfer window City have spent close to £100m in signing the likes of Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz, Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor.

"He is a young player who has been brought to our attention," said Hughes of City's interest in Delph, who is likely to command a transfer fee of in excess of £6m.

"I'm not sure where we are up to with that because obviously I have been busy with the game."

Delph won the Football League's Young Player of the Year award last season.

His form, which secured an England Under-21s debut in November, established him as one of the stars of a League One campaign that ended in play-off semi-final defeat to Millwall.

Although he signed a four-year deal at Elland Road in September, speculation linking him with a move to the top flight has continued with Leeds denying in June that Everton had made a bid.

news source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 1st August 2009

New deal ends F1 breakaway fears

The future of Formula 1 has been secured after the sport's governing body and 12 teams put pen to paper on a new Concorde Agreement.

The agreement, which runs until the end of 2012, brings to a close months of wrangling between the FIA and the Formula 1 Teams' Association (Fota).

The FIA said the signing heralds "a renewed period of stability" for F1.

It added that the document features a "slightly revised set of stable sporting and technical regulations."

The lack of a new Concorde deal - the document that sets out how F1 is run and its revenues distributed - had been a key sticking point during disagreements between the FIA and Fota earlier this season.

However, the signing of the new agreement heralds a final resolution to the political rows that have destabilised the sport throughout 2009.

An FIA statement on Saturday read: "Following approval by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC), late last night FIA President Max Mosley signed the 2009 Concorde Agreement, heralding a renewed period of stability for the FIA Formula One World Championship.

"The WMSC has also approved a slightly revised set of stable Sporting and Technical Regulations (to apply from the 2010 Championship onwards), which have been agreed by the FIA and the Teams and which will be published on the FIA's website.

"The new Concorde Agreement, which runs until 31 December 2012, provides for a continuation of the procedures in the 1998 Concorde Agreement, with decisions taken by working groups and commissions, upon which all teams have voting rights, before going to the WMSC for ratification.

The FIA statement also confirmed that a final agreement had been reached over the issue of cost-cutting along lines previously agreed.

"In addition, as agreed in Paris on 24 June 2009, the Teams have entered into a resource restriction agreement, which aims to return expenditure to the levels that prevailed in the early 1990s," read the statement.

BMW Sauber, who this week confirmed they would pull out of F1 at the end of the season, are the only current team to have not signed the document, with new grand prix teams USF1, Campos Meta and Manor GP all doing so.

It is understood BMW's bosses have until Wednesday 5 August to sign the document should they elect to stay in F1 in 2010 and beyond.

F1 was thrown into confusion in July when the eight teams in the rebel umbrella group Fota were told they were not entered in the 2010 championship.

This contradicted an announcement by the FIA's world council on 24 June which listed McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, BMW, Toyota, Brawn, Red Bull and Toro Rosso as confirmed entries after Max Mosley, president of F1's governing body the FIA, had reached a compromise deal with Fota chairman and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.

As part of that agreement, the outline of next year's rules was set, the teams agreed to commit to F1 until 2012, Mosley's plan for a £40m budget cap was replaced with an agreement to reduce costs to "mid-1990s levels" by Fota's methods and the FIA president agreed not to stand again for the governing body's presidence in October's elections.

news source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 1st August 2009

Hilal Pillars win in Group A

Nigeria's Kano Pillars moved to the top of Group A in the African Champions League on goal difference with a 3-1 win over Al Merreikh of Sudan.

Victor Namo scored twice in the first half for Kano Pillars.

The Sudanese side were reduced to ten men after 53 minutes when Moussa El Tayeb was red carded for elbowing Namo.

Merriekh's caretaker coach Mohamed Abdullah was also sent off for protesting against El Tayeb's dimissal.

Nigerian striker Endurance Idahor gave the Sudanese side some hope when he pulled a goal back for Merreikh after 59 minutes.

Mosese Ogada made certain of the three points for Pillars with a strike in the 89th minute.

Sudan's Al Hilal are level on points with Kano at the top of Group A after a 1-0 victory over Zesco United of Zambia in Khartoum.

Al Hilal's Osama Altaewon scored the lone goal of Friday's game after nine minutes.

Despite the victory Hilal's Brazilian coach Paulo Campos was unhappy with his team's performance.

"I'm very satisfied with the victory, the three points were very important," he told BBC Sport.

"What I am not satisfied about is the performance I was expecting more and I'm sure the spectators were expecting more too.

"A lot of work has to be done, I've only been here two months and only time helps the players co-ordinate."

Zesco's technical director, Andre Mtine, felt his side improved as the game improved.

"In the first half we were a little nervous and we could have played a lot better," he said.

"We played much better in the second half but I also thought the officiating played a part.

"The goal they scored was a goal-kick but they were awarded a corner instead and from that we conceded the goal."

source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 1st August 2009

Firefox passes billion milestone

The open-source browser Firefox passed its billionth download on Friday, ahead of the release of its fourth iteration.

The milestone includes downloads of all versions of the web software since its first release in 2004.

Figures suggest that Firefox now has nearly one third of the browser market worldwide, at 31%.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer still dominates the field with around 60%, whilst Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari and Opera are all less than 5%.

Microsoft is currently in talks with the European competition regulators, which ruled in January that pre-bundling Internet Explorer with the company's Windows operating system hurt competition.

The firm recently made a proposal that would offer European buyers of its new Windows 7 operating system a list of potential browsers when they first install the software.

Regulators in Brussels said they "welcomed" the proposal but have yet to make a decision.

Firefox would be among the browsers on offer.

Record run

The browser, developed by the Mozilla Foundation, has quickly become a favourite with web surfers since its launch in 2004.

Last year, the foundation set a new Guinness world record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours when the third version of Firefox was downloaded more than eight million times.

The billionth download figure includes all versions of Firefox released since 2004 and includes single users downloading multiple copies for different computers.

In addition, the figure includes anyone manually updating their software to the latest version, rather than waiting for the automatic download.

Automatic updates are not included in the total.

The total number of downloads can be tracked on the Mozilla website. The foundation plans to launch a new website, OneBillionPlusYou.com, to celebrate the milestone.

Mozilla developers are currently working on the fourth iteration of the software.

Earlier this week, it showed off screenshots of the next version of the browser, Firefox 4.0.

The images showed a browser with a similar look to Google's Chrome software.

news source: bbc

Posted on Friday 31st July 2009

Hamilton joy at Schumacher return

Reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says it will be "an honour and a privilege" to race against seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

The German is coming out of retirement to drive for Ferrari while Felipe Massa recovers from a crash and will return to racing at the European Grand Prix.

"He is one of the sport's greatest competitors, a legend - it'd be great to compete against him," said Hamilton.

"The whole world will be watching his return to the cockpit in Valencia."

Schumacher, 40, retired at the end of 2006 but has remained closely involved with Ferrari.

The German will now cover for his former team-mate Massa while the Brazilian recovers from the serious injuries he suffered when he crashed in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, which was won by Hamilton.

The English driver has previously spoken of his regret at never having had an opportunity to go head to head with Schumacher, but at the next grand prix, on the street circuit in Valencia, he will finally get his chance.

"It will not only be fascinating to see how he readies himself for his grand prix comeback, but also an honour and a privilege to race against him for the very first time. I wish him well," added Hamilton.

This season's championship leader Jenson Button also said he was pleased at Schumacher's return.

"Everyone is saying he can only lose because if he wins it will be expected, and if he doesn't, they'll say he's lost it," said Button.

"It's a tough position for him to be in but I'm happy he's taken up the challenge and it's very brave of him.

"He's still young - 40 is not old and he'll still be competitive.

Button's mixed feelings over Schumacher return

Brawn driver Button leads the championship by 18.5 points after a sensational start to the season, winning six of the first seven races.

But he has gone off the boil recently, without a podium place in the last three races, and at the next race he will also have Schumacher to contend with.

And Button does not expect the man who has already won 91 grands prix to just to make up the numbers.

"His reactions will still be there and I'm sure he's fit enough," he said.

"He tested in winter and was quick, he jumped in and on the first run he was competitive."

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen said he is looking forward to working alongside Schumacher.

"If it really happens I will be happy to partner him, even though it may not have much effect on my own performance," said the 30-year-old Finn, who was the 2007 Formula One world champion.

Since retiring from racing, Schumacher has remained in touch with the sport as well as taking part in motorcycle racing.

However, he suffered neck and back injuries in a bike accident in February and must now go through a rigorous training regime to prove his fitness.

"I hope he's up to it physically and he can pass the tests that must be administered for the neck muscles, which he hasn't used in a while," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

"But already, the entire team is working to prepare him. On Friday, he'll have his first tests on the track."

The Valencia circuit has been modified since Schumacher retired, while the ban on in-season testing could also count against the F1 legend, who must rely on Ferrari's simulators to prepare him for his first drive in a 2009 specification Ferrari.

"This will be a big problem, at least for the first race, because he's going to find himself on a circuit he's never driven on, with a car he's never driven, and with technology he doesn't know," Montezemolo said.

"But, unfortunately, this is the price we have to pay."

news source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 30th July 2009

Reds and Real agree Arbeloa fee

Liverpool have agreed a fee with Real Madrid to sell right-back Alvaro Arbeloa to the Spanish club.

The move is subject to a medical and worth about £3.5m to the Reds, who signed the 26-year-old for £2.6m from Deportivo La Coruna in January 2007.

Spain international Arbeloa had one year left on his Anfield deal so could have left for free next summer.

Defender Glen Johnson's June arrival from Portsmouth paved the way for Reds manager Rafael Benitez to sell Arbeloa.

Switzerland international Philipp Degen is fit again after rib and lung injuries so is another option for Benitez at right-back, while Jamie Carragher can also play in that position.

Arbeloa, who began his career at the Bernabeu, scored two goals in 98 games for Liverpool and speculation had suggested he could join Real in a joint deal that would result in Xabi Alonso also leaving the Merseysiders.

However, a question mark over midfielder Alonso's future still remains as the club's players enjoy a three-day break before returning on Thursday.

Benitez has spoken to Alonso and urged him to stay at Anfield.

"I talked to Xabi and told him, as he can see here, that the fans love him and said to him 'Maybe you have to stay," said Benitez recently.

"You can see he is a really good player and I'll be really pleased if he stays. All the players and his team-mates want him to stay. If we keep Xabi I will be very pleased."

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is also keen for his Spanish international team-mate to stay at Anfield.

"It would be a bad piece of work if Xabi left - he plays his cards close to his chest so I don't know what is going to happen," Torres told The Sun.

"I'd put Xabi's own wishes ahead of everything else, of course, but he's got three years left on his contract with us and I'd love it if he stays.

"It would be a serious loss for Liverpool if he left this summer."

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Clinton to go on tour of Africa

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to tour seven African countries, starting on 5 August.

The visit is to highlight President Barack Obama's commitment to making Africa a US foreign policy priority.

While in Africa, Mrs Clinton is set to speak at the Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA) in Kenya.

Her office in Washington says this is the earliest in any US administration that both the US president and secretary of state have visited Africa.

Global hunger and agricultural issues will also feature highly in her discussions with African leaders.

Kenya is her first stop, where she is set to address the AGOA forum on new approaches to development, investment and broad-based economic growth.

Kenya is also the birthplace of the US president's father.

Mr Obama visited Ghana earlier this month - his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since being elected president.

Mrs Clinton will also visit South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde.

She will also meet Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, president of Somalia, whose forces are battling Islamist insurgents.

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Ghana line up Zambia friendly

Ghana have lined up a friendly against Zambia next month as part of their build-up for the World Cup qualifiers.

The Black Stars will clash with the Chipolopolo in London at Brisbane Road on 12 August.

The West Africans quickly arranged the game after Morocco pulled out of a proposed friendly scheduled for the same day in France.

"We have now agreed to play Zambia in London," Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi said.

"Only some few days ago we had Morocco in the picture but they had to withdraw because they were afraid they will lose.

"Teams are afraid to play the Black Stars because of the fear of losing their positions on the Fifa ranking."

The game forms part of the Black Stars warm-up for September's World Cup qualifier against Sudan in Accra.

Ghana are in pole position in Group Five and they will strengthen their grip on top of the table if they secure a win over the Nile Crocodiles.

Zambia are also in contention for a World Cup ticket in Group Three are they are only three points adrift of leaders Algeria.

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Schumacher makes shock F1 return

Michael Schumacher will make a shock return to Formula 1 to replace injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

The seven-time world champion retired at the end of 2006 but will drive at the European Grand Prix on 23 August.

Ferrari said the 40-year-old will stand in for as long as Massa is sidelined by the serious head injuries he sustained in the Hungarian Grand Prix last week.

"For team loyalty reasons I can't ignore this unfortunate situation," said the former Ferrari driver.

His spokesman Sabine Kehm had told the BBC on Tuesday that although Schumacher - who was working as an advisor for Ferrari - was not willing to make a full-time return to F1, he would not rule out standing in for Massa.

And the German racing legend has now decided to come out of retirement and make a sensational return to the sport.

"It is true that the Formula 1 chapter has long been closed for me," said Schumacher, who won five world titles for Ferrari.

"The most important thing first: thank God, all news concerning Felipe is positive, and I wish him all the best again.

"This afternoon I met with team principal Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe.

"As the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge."

Schumacher has not driven an F1 car since April 2008 and competed in the last of his 249 grands prix in October 2006.

And the most successful F1 driver of all time now has slightly more than three weeks to prepare himself for the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

The ban on in-season testing means Schumacher will not be able to turn a wheel of the 2009 specification Ferrari before first practice on Friday 21 August.

Nevertheless, the team have chosen Schumacher - who won 91 grands prix in a glittering career - ahead of reserve drivers Marc Gene and Luca Badoer.

"Ferrari intends to entrust Michael Schumacher with Felipe Massa's car for as long as the Brazilian driver is not able to race," read a team statement.

"Michael Schumacher has shown his willingness and in the next few days he will undergo a specific programme of preparation at the end of which it will be possible to confirm his participation in the championship starting with the European Grand Prix."

There are six more races to go after Valencia, including trips to Belgium, Italy, Singapore and Japan.

Schumacher will undergo an intensive training programme to determine whether he is fit enough to return to the rigours of F1 racing.

Since retiring from the sport, Schumacher has occasionally taken part in motorcycle events but in February he suffered neck and back injuries in a bike accident.

Those injuries could affect his ability to drive an F1 car which places huge pressures on the neck because of the varying G-forces.

Massa could be out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a fractured skull sustained when a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn hit him on the helmet when he was travelling at more than 160mph during qualifying in Hungary on Saturday.

The Brazilian is set to leave intensive care and is making progress, though there is also concern about damage to his left eye.

Schumacher is close to Massa, who was his team-mate in his final season, and has taken a close interest in the Brazilian's career.

BBC Radio 5 Live F1 commentator David Croft believes Schumacher is coming back partly because of that close relationship.

"I think he's coming back because it is to replace Felipe Massa, temporarily. He is very close to Felipe, they've had a great relationship over the years," said Croft.

"I think it's his way of doing something to help Felipe, and doing something to help Ferrari at the same time, because if you look at the alternatives Ferrari had, they weren't really alternatives.

"Who else is there who could come into Ferrari and hit the ground running, who knows the car, who knows the team, who could give them a podium?

"The European Grand Prix, which was not one we were looking forward to at the start of this year, has now got a real spice to it.

"Lewis Hamilton against Michael Schumacher for the first time ever? Jenson Button up against Michael Schumacher? How will Kimi Raikkonen respond? It's going to be fascinating."

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Toure completes Man City switch

Manchester City have signed central defender Kolo Toure from Arsenal for a reported £16m on a four-year contract.

Toure, who had seven years at Arsenal, passed a medical on Wednesday and is City's sixth signing of the summer.

Boss Mark Hughes said: "It is no secret that we have been looking to strengthen our defence and in Kolo I feel we have recruited a world class player."

Toure told City's website: "I am still at an age, 28, where I feel I am at my peak and will play my best football."

Hughes, who recently failed to lure Chelsea centre-back John Terry to Eastlands, added: "Kolo has been a central figure in a strong Arsenal team for many years, and I have been an admirer of him for a long time.

"He is strong, quick, reads the game well and will be an influential figure in the dressing room."

Toure was linked to City in January and although Arsenal said then he was not for sale, the London club have now decided it is time to let him leave.

"For me it was time to move but only for the right club and I feel that Manchester City is that club," added Toure.

"The ambition here is clear to see and is big. Everyone knows this club is moving and that is really, really important.

"I still want to achieve things and I feel as though I can bring something to City and that is what I will be striving to do. It is not just about quality on the pitch it is about blending as a team and with my experience I think I can help City do just that."

Toure had been with Arsenal since 2002 but failed to hold down a regular starting place last season. He handed in a transfer request in January, which was rejected by the Arsenal board.

The Ivory Coast defender played for Arsenal on Monday night in a pre-season friendly in Hungary and in all he played 326 games for the Gunners, scoring 14 goals, and had two years left on his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

As well as missing out on Terry, Hughes had a £15m bid for Everton defender Joleon Lescott rejected earlier this month.

But the Gunners, who have already sold striker Emmanuel Adebayor to City for £25m this summer, have been more receptive to offers from the oil-rich Eastlands club.

On top of capturing Adebayor, City have already brought in former Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez, midfielder Gareth Barry from Aston Villa and striker Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn for a total of about £55m this summer.

Meanwhile, defender Nedum Onuoha has ended speculation over his future by signing a new five-year contract at Eastlands.

The 22-year-old, who came through City's academy, had been rumoured to be on his way out of the club due to the number of high-profile additions to the squad, but he has pledged to fight for his place in the team.

"Unless you are continuously improving you shouldn't expect to be in the team," said Onuoha. "I want to improve on last season and I am raring to go."

Onuoha broke into City's back four midway through last season and never relinquished his place with a series of composed performances.

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Fans still hope to buy Liverpool

ShareLiverpoolFC founder Rogan Taylor has not given up hope of buying Liverpool in a joint venture with fans' group the Spirit of Shankly.

Liverpool's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett received a 12-month extension on £350m worth of bank loans secured against the club last week.

But Taylor told BBC Radio Merseyside: "It's another season and it will have to be restructured again.

"It costs you a lot of money when banks do this for you."

Taylor, a football academic at the University of Liverpool, is not convinced the renegotiation of debt between the American owners, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia is a good thing.

"Debt is being added to debt and that's a deeply depressing situation for Liverpool fans," said Taylor.

Taylor believes the concept of ShareLiverpoolFC, where fans would pay £500 for one share and run the club along the lines of FC Barcelona, is a viable alternative.

"The ShareLiverpoolFC - Spirit of Shankly proposal offers an opportunity to get the club on a firm basis.

"If the club was considerably less in debt and had a firm, long-term basis for paying back what debt there was in it, borrowing the money to build the stadium wouldn't be a particularly difficult issue."

Taylor's initial proposal sought Liverpool fans willing to pay £5,000 for a single share, which has since been reduced to 10% of that figure.

Questions have been raised about the viability of a fans' takeover on such a large scale but despite the doubters, Taylor is adamant it can be done.

"It's a one-off piece of Liverpool FC through ShareLiverpoolFC," he said.

"Nobody will ever own more of it than you do, now that's got intrinsic value hasn't it?

"Because these are not simple issues it's sometimes difficult for people to grasp," said Taylor.

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 29th July 2009

Schumacher would consider return

Michael Schumacher is not ruling out the possibility of standing in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

The Brazilian fractured his skull in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying and may be out for the rest of the year, while Schumacher, 40, is a Ferrari adviser.

"The whole thing will be considered by Ferrari. If they approach Michael, then he will consider it," the seven-time champion's spokeswoman told BBC Sport.

"But there is no reason for him to step into their discussion."

Schumacher, who retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season, told the BBC in an interview at the German Grand Prix two weeks ago that he was not interested in returning to F1.

However, his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said that was a reference to a permanent return.

"Usually, I would say he's not interested because he's fine with his life and he doesn't miss anything but now the situation is so different - it's very hypothetical - and Michael doesn't want to step into that [discussion]," she stated.

In-depth interview - Michael Schumacher (UK users only)

She added that Schumacher still trained every day but that she did not know whether he was fit enough to race an F1 car again.

"Michael had a motorcycle accident in February when he had a neck problem - and I really can't tell you if his neck would be fine to drive an F1 race," she said.

"If Ferrari asked him whether he would consider driving, he would have it checked - and remember he is a 40-year-old man, too."

Schumacher's manager Willi Weber insists the German will not drive for Ferrari in the next race - the European Grand Prix in Valencia in Spain on 23 August.

"Michael will not sit in a car in Valencia, this is out of the question," Weber told Germany's SID news agency.

"What would we expect from Schumacher if he stepped into a Formula One car? To win. The expectations from both sides would be too high."

Massa has had surgery on a fractured skull sustained when a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn hit him on the helmet at more than 160mph during qualifying in Hungary on Saturday.

He is in a "severe but not critical" condition, according to the hospital that is treating him in Budapest and there is also concern about damage to his left eye.

The surgeon treating him, Robert Veres, revealed it was "too early to say" whether Massa would be able to compete again.

But he will almost certainly not be able to drive at the next race in Valencia and probably not for the rest of the year either.

That means Ferrari need to find a team-mate for Kimi Raikkonen for the Valencia race.

Schumacher, who won a record 91 grands prix in his career, is under contract to the team after taking on a consultancy role following his retirement.

The German is close to Massa, who was his team-mate in his final season, and has taken a close interest in the Brazilian's career.

But he has not driven an F1 car since April 2008 and may consider that he has nothing to gain from a temporary return.

A number of other drivers have been mentioned as possible replacements for Massa.

Among them is Renault's Fernando Alonso, who is expected to move to Ferrari in 2010 anyway - although the team have not confirmed that report and the Spaniard has denied it.

Renault have been banned from the Valencia race after allowing Alonso to return to the track with a loose wheel following a pit stop.

The wheel and its fairing both became detached from the car as he toured slowly back to the pits - an alarming sight only 24 hours after Massa's accident.

Renault have appealed against the decision to suspend them and a hearing of the court of appeal of governing body the FIA is expected in the next couple of weeks.

It has been speculated that Alonso's move to Ferrari may simply be brought forward - but that would leave Renault without a recognised top driver for the rest of the season.

The team were on the verge of sacking Alonso's team-mate Nelson Piquet before the Hungarian race and while Alonso, a two-time world champion, qualified on pole in Hungary, Piquet qualified 15th and finished 12th in a similar car.

Ferrari have two reserve drivers, the Spaniard Marc Gene and the veteran Italian Luca Badoer.

Spaniard Gene - who raced intermittently for Williams as a stand-in during 2003/2004 and has competed in 36 races with a best result of sixth - is the more likely to be given the drive.

Badoer has been a test driver for Ferrari but has not raced since 1999 and has never scored a world championship point.

A number of other drivers have been mentioned as possible stand-ins.

The most qualified, Schumacher aside, is BBC F1 pundit David Coulthard, who won 13 grands prix before retiring at the end of last season. He is under contract to Red Bull, who would need to give him permission to race if Ferrari approached him.

Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, who was sacked by the Toro Rosso team before the Hungarian Grand Prix, has been mentioned as he has the same manager as Massa - Frenchman Nicolas Todt.

And last winter, Italian Formula Three champion Mirko Bortolotti reportedly impressed Ferrari in a test. The 19-year-old is racing in Formula Two this season.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 28th July 2009

Man City in talks over Toure deal

Manchester City are close to signing Arsenal defender Kolo Toure for about £15m, BBC Sport understands.

City boss Mark Hughes, who failed to lure Chelsea centre-back John Terry to Eastlands last week, has long admired the Ivory Coast international.

Toure was first linked to a move to City in January but the Gunners insisted then that he was not for sale.

The 28-year-old has been with Arsenal since 2002 but failed to hold down a regular starting place last season.

Newspaper reports that Toure has agreed personal terms with City are premature but the deal is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

Toure played for Arsenal on Monday night in a pre-season friendly in Hungary, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: "We will see what's happening in the next 24 hours, nothing is decided yet.

"We have seven centre-backs and I am in the position where I have to play some in midfield but of course Kolo is a very good player and we will see what will happen in the next 24 hours."

Toure has played 326 games for the Gunners, scoring 14 goals, and has two years left on his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

He handed in a transfer request in January, which was rejected by the Arsenal board.

As well as missing out on Terry, Hughes had a £15m bid for Everton defender Joleon Lescott rejected earlier this month.

But the Gunners, who have already sold striker Emmanuel Adebayor to City for £25m this summer, have been more receptive to offers from the oil-rich Eastlands club.

On top of capturing Adebayor, City have already brought in former Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez, midfielder Gareth Barry from Aston Villa and striker Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn for a total of about £55m this summer.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 28th July 2009

Hearts win Ghana title

Hearts of Oak captured the Ghana Premier League title on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over relegated St Mirren in the last game of the season.

Striker Samuel Affum scored both goals in the victory which that ensured Hearts finished three points clear of their arch-rivals Asante Kotoko.

Kumasi-based Kotoko could only manage a 2-2 draw in their derby match with King Faisal Babes.

Both Hearts and Kotoko will now play in next year's African Champions League.

It was an amazing comeback by Hearts who were 16 points ahead Kotoko at the halfway stage of the league.

But they slipped in the second round, allowing Kotoko the gap until the last day of the season.

Hearts, who only finished eighth in the league last season, now have 19 league titles, two fewer than Kotoko.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 27th July 2009

Gandhi S Africa house up for sale

A house in South Africa where Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi lived in the early 1900s has been put up for sale.

The house's owner says she has failed to find an institution interested in preserving the building's legacy, so she is selling it on the open market.

Gandhi is thought to have lived there for three years from 1907 - when he began to formulate his philosophy of non-violent resistance.

He lived in South Africa for 21 years, working as a lawyer and activist.

He fought for the right of Indians in the country to be treated as citizens - a feat he eventually achieved before returning to his homeland.

American artist Nancy Ball has lived in Gandhi's Johannesburg house for 25 years, but is now moving away.

She told South African paper the Times that Indians who had visited the house had always found it an interesting experience.

"We believe he left a lot of his peace here. It's a very special place," she said.

She attempted to drum up interest in the house among academics and the Indian community in South Africa, but says she has failed and will now sell on the private market.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 27th July 2009

Sharp jump in US new home sales

The annual rate of US new home sales jumped 11% in June, government figures have shown, a further indication that the housing sector is over the worst.

The Commerce Department said sales hit a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 384,000 in June, against an upwardly-adjusted rate of 346,000 in May.

June's sales figure was the strongest pace seen since November 2008.

However, the median sale price was $206,200 (£125,000), down 5.8% from May and 12% lower than a year ago.

Growth hopes

New home sales have now risen for three months in a row.

"The data will reinforce the developing thinking that housing market has bottomed and that economy has stabilised and will grow in the third quarter," Jim Awad, managing director at Zephyr Management in New York, told Reuters.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said that sales of previously-owned US homes had risen for the third month in a row in June, and at a quicker rate than expected.

However, it also found that prices remained depressed, with prices still down 15.4% on a year ago with the average sale price at $181,000.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 27th July 2009

Hamilton seals first win of 2009

Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix to take his first victory since October last year and complete a remarkable turnaround for McLaren.

The Englishman took the lead after pole-sitter Fernando Alonso's Renault made an early pit stop and dominated ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was third with Brawn's Jenson Button down in seventh.

The Australian replaces team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who retired, in second place in the world championship.

Vettel, who suffered a front suspension failure while running eighth on lap 27 of 70, slips to 23 points behind the Englishman with seven races remaining and a maximum of 70 points available.

Nico Rosberg was fourth for Williams ahead of Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, Toyota's Timo Glock, Button and the second Toyota of Jarno Trulli.

Raikkonen's second place was a big boost for Ferrari who had gone into the race with only one driver following Felipe Massa's high-speed crash in qualifying, which resulted in the Brazilian undergoing emergency surgery in Hungary.

"Maybe I can speak for all of us, but today was a sad day given what happened with Felipe," said Hamilton.

"We miss him, wish him well and we all wish him a speedy recovery."

Raikkonen is being investigated by race stewards following a coming together with Vettel at the start of the race.

 

Our car is not what it was to drive a few races ago. It's not like it was at the start of the season, there is obviously an issue. Brawn's Jenson Button

Red Bull, who dominated the last two races in Britain and Germany, put in a surprisingly uncompetitive performance but they were in much better shape than Button.

The Englishman qualified eighth, but was starting on a heavy fuel load and was optimistic he would have a strong race. Instead, he was unable to make any impression on the cars at the front.

For the first time this season, that meant McLaren, whose form here confirmed that the revised aerodynamics they introduced in Germany two weeks ago have transformed the car.

"It's an incredible feeling to be back here after what feels like such a long time away, and such a struggle with me and my team. I'm just so proud of the guys," said Hamilton.

Alonso loses his front wheel

"Everyone's pushing and wants to win as much as I do, which is pretty rare with such a large group of people. But we didn't expect to win this weekend.

"Undoubtedly we have caught up [with other teams], but we didn't think we could win."

McLaren started the season with an uncompetitive car, struggling in most races to even get into the points. Hamilton, the reigning world champion, had not even managed to finish on the podium until winning this race.

But a new front wing, diffuser and engine cover introduced at the last race have improved the car's pace by about 0.8 seconds a lap

Having qualified fourth, Hamilton used his Kers energy storage and power-boost system to challenge the leaders at the start.

Button was not happy with his car after seeing his drivers' championship lead cut to 18.5 points.

After four laps my tyres were destroyed. I had rear graining and couldn't keep up with the cars in front.

"Our car is not what it was to drive a few races ago. It's not like it was at the start of the season, there is obviously an issue."

Alonso got a good start from pole position and retained first place but Hamilton briefly got up into second place at the first corner before being re-passed by Webber.

The Red Bull was expected to be the strongest car in the race but, while Alonso initially built a small gap, Webber found himself under pressure from Hamilton, who passed him on lap five and proceeded to pull away and close on the Renault.

Alonso, who had planned to do a three-stop strategy in contrast to the two stops of most of the rest of the field, pulled in for his pit stop on lap 11.

He was released a fraction too early before the right front wheel was fully attached and it parted company with the car part way around the lap and was forced to retire with the consequent damage and a fuel pump problem.

By the time all the front-runners had done their stops, Hamilton had a six-second lead over Raikkonen and he was able to control the race from the front.

Webber slipped behind Raikkonen after a problem with a front wheel at his pit stop and he was also passed by Toyota's Timo Glock as he rejoined.

The Red Bulls lacked their recent pace but Webber drove consistently well to the final podium position and make it a good race for him from a championship point of view.

By contrast, his team-mate Vettel had a disastrous weekend, making a poor start from second on the grid and running eighth in the early laps.

He was running behind Rosberg when he suffered a front suspension failure on lap 27 and was forced to retire.

Toyota, both of whose drivers qualified outside the top 10, used a long first stint to put themselves in contention for the minor points places.

Button finally showed some pace in the closing laps once the track was coated in rubber and he was back on the softer tyres after using the harder ones in the middle stint.

That lifted him to seventh from eighth, but he will still be concerned at a third consecutive uncompetitive race.

news source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 26th July 2009

Hamilton top as McLaren set pace

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIXVenue: Hungaroring Dates: 24-26 July 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms.

Lewis Hamilton clocked the quickest lap of the day during the second practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

McLaren's world champion left it late with a lap 0.047 seconds faster than team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who had topped the morning timesheets.

A low-key day for Brawn's Jenson Button ended with the championship leader posting the 13th fastest time.

Red Bull's championship-chasing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and sixth fastest respectively.

Williams put in another solid practice performance as Nico Rosberg recorded the third fastest time with team-mate Kazuki Nakajima fifth quickest in the second practice session.

Brawn's Ruben's Barrichello was seventh while Toro Rosso's Formula 1 debutant Jaime Alguersuari avoided any major incidents in 20th.

Less than two seconds separated all 20 drivers in bright and sunny conditions at the Hungaroring just outside Budapest.

Kovalainen was running with a new diffuser and front wing in Hungary and he was quick to make the most of the updates which had helped Hamilton to top two practice sessions in Germany.

McLaren have now set the pace in the the last four practice sessions and will be aiming to end a barren spell of 10 races without a podium finish on Sunday.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was asked after the sessions if he thought McLaren were as competitive as their practice performances suggested. "Yes" was the reply.

"It's not just McLaren though, it's Brawn, Ferrari, Toyota. There's loads of guys. It's a short track and it's very repetitive in terms of corners. It won't be this tight in Suzuka where the good cars have a chance to use their aerodynamics.

"We're in the hunt, for sure. I don't think we're off the pace. We're part of the pace. But as expected here it looks like there's a few more boys coming to the party."

Track temperatures climbed to 44 degrees in the afternoon session and several drivers appeared to struggle for grip.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa lost control on a couple of occasions and ended up deep in the gravel at Turn Nine, before cutting along the grass to rejoin the action.

In the first session Vettel - who has won races in China and Great Britain this season - was heard on Red Bull team radio team saying: "The temperature of the tyres is sky high and there is no grip at all."

Webber admitted that tyre wear was an issue but said the Red Bulls were coping better with it in Hungary than they had earlier in the season in Monaco.

"It went OK on the soft tyre. I would like to have done a few more laps, but we had a hydraulic problem. Looks a bit more difficult on Sebastian's car and maybe it would have got to that point if I had done more laps. So wear is not trivial. It's there for sure."

Championship leaders Brawn arrived in Budapest with a major upgrade package which includes a new diffuser, rear wing and bodywork and they used Friday's first session to test their new parts with race fuel loads.

The high temperatures which have hampered Red Bull at the Hungaroring could play into the hands of title rivals Brawn, who have struggled to get optimum tyre temperature in the cool conditions of the last two races.

Practice performances are rarely the most reliable guide to race results as most teams use Friday's sessions to analyse and assess any developments and modifications they have made to their cars.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was running with the new front wing that helped team-mate Felipe Massa get onto the podium at the Nurburgring.

All eyes were on Toro Rosso rookie Jaime Alguersuari at the start of Friday's first practice session as the 19-year-old debutant put in his first tentative laps in an F1 car.

The Spaniard traded fastest lap times with team-mate Sebastien Buemi in a quiet opening half hour and improved his lap time by over six seconds, but he still finished the session in 20th position, one place behind his team-mate.

Both drivers were looking to benefit from a major overhaul of the Toro Rosso as the team ran with the new diffuser, front wing, nose and top bodywork that has served sister team Red Bull so well since Silverstone.

news source: bbc

Posted on Friday 24th July 2009

Haye to fight WBA champion Valuev

Britain's former world cruiserweight champion David Haye will take on Russia's WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev on 7 November.

The announcement ends speculation about who Haye's next opponent would be, following reports the Londoner had agreed a bout with Vitali Klitschko.

Haye, 28, is eight stones lighter and nine inches shorter than Valuev.

He said: "David only needed a slingshot and stone to flatten Goliath, my right hand generates more power than that."

Valuev, who is 7ft tall, has yet to be floored or knocked out in his 16-year professional career and has lost just once in 50 fights.

But Haye, who has also lost just once in his career, said: "I am thrilled to announce that my dream of becoming world heavyweight champion will be realised on 7 November, when I challenge the tallest and heaviest champion of all time.

"I can't wait to step into the ring and prove that size doesn't matter. Mark my words: I will be the first man to knock Nikolai Valuev out."

Haye revealed how he first saw Valuev fight when he was 16 at the Battersea Hall in London and recalled thinking at the time how difficult it would be to fight someone so big.

The 28-year-old has also admitted that it will be difficult to find sparring partners the same size as Valuev, making preparation for the fight even harder.

A venue for the contest has yet to be announced but the 02 Arena in London is rumoured to be in contention to stage the fight.

Haye had been scheduled to fight Klitschko's brother Wladimir in June but withdrew from the fight against the WBO and IBF champion because of a back injury.

That back injury has now healed and negotiations were underway with Wladimir's brother Vitali, the WBC champion, and Haye.

But Haye has decided to face Valuev, explaining that the conditions of the contract were more favourable.

"There were reports in the German press that I had signed to fight Vitali Klitschko in September, but those reports were never true," he added.

"There have been long and exhausting discussions about the clash, but unfortunately I could never put my name to the fight contract the Klitschkos offered.

"The level of disrespect they have shown me throughout has left me feeling insulted."

Having decided to fight Valuev instead of either of the Klitschko brothers, Haye has now been told he has burned his bridges with the the Ukrainian champions.

According to Bernd Bonte, the Klitschkos' manager, a deal was agreed and set to be signed for Haye and Vitali to meet - only for him to learn in the English media that the Londoner had changed his mind.

It now appears unlikely that Haye will meet either of the Klitschko brothers, even if he wins Valuev's WBA title.

"At the moment I would say there is zero chance," said Bonte, when asked whether the brothers would negotiate with Haye in the future.

"We discussed twice with the guy and he pulled out twice so why should we do it a third time? I would say, at the moment, no.

"We would be very reluctant to deal with Haye and [his manager Adam] Booth. Not again. Not a third time."

The only potential stumbling block to Haye fighting Valuev is a claim by John Ruiz - who has twice lost to the Russian - that he is the mandatory challenger.

In a letter to the WBA, the American's team said: "John Ruiz will not sit by and permit another delay so Valuev can have another interim fight, especially against an opponent who is not even rated by the WBA.

"John Ruiz has not agreed to permit any bout for the WBA heavyweight championship unless he is one of the participants, and he will take any and all legal action necessary to protect his interests."

Valuev's team believe they have already fulfilled their mandatory commitments by agreeing to face former champion Ruslan Chagaev.

However that fight was cancelled when Chagaev was declared medically unfit.

news source: bbc

Posted on Friday 24th July 2009

East Africa gets high-speed web

The first undersea cable to bring high-speed internet access to East Africa has gone live.

The fibre-optic cable, operated by African-owned firm Seacom, connects South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.

The firm says the cable will help to boost the prospects of the region's industry and commerce.

The cable - which is 17,000km long - took two years to lay and cost more than $650m.

Seacom said in a statement the launch of the cable marked the "dawn of a new era for communications" between Africa and the rest of the world.

The services were unveiled in ceremonies in the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam.

School benefits

The cable was due to be launched in June but was delayed by pirate activity off the coast of Somalia.

The BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi says the internet revolution trumpeted by Seacom largely depends on how well the service is rolled out across the region.

To the disappointment of many consumers, our correspondent says some ISPs (internet service providers) are not planning to lower the cost of the internet, but instead will offer increased bandwidth.

But businesses, which have been paying around $3,000 a month for 1MB through a satellite link, will now pay considerably less - about $600 a month.

The Kenyan government has been laying a network of cables to all of the country's major towns and says the fibre-optic links will also enable schools nationwide to link into high quality educational resources.

But our correspondent says it is not clear whether the internet revolution will reach the villages, many of which still struggle to access reliable electricity.

news source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 23rd July 2009

Man City line up Barca friendly

Manchester City will play European champions Barcelona in a friendly at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, 19 August.

City were originally due to play Everton in the Premier League, but the fixture has been rearranged because of the Toffees' Europa League qualifier.

The sides have met five times before, all friendlies, with the last meeting when the Catalan giants helped to open the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.

City won that game 2-1 with goals from Nicolas Anelka and Trevor Sinclair.

 

The English Premier League season begins on Saturday, 15 August, while the Spanish La Liga competition starts on 31 August.

Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0 in May to win the Champions League final.

news source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 23rd July 2009

Eto'o 'agrees' Inter Milan switch

Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o's has reached an agreement with Inter Milan to join the Italian champions, according to his agent.

Barca have had an offer of about £38m plus Eto'o, in exchange for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, accepted while Alexander Hleb will also join Inter on loan.

"The deal is sealed, next week he will start working with Inter," said the 28-year-old's agent Josep Maria Mesalles.

"When he signs the contract he will be at (coach) Jose Mourinho's disposal."

Reports suggest Eto'o has agreed a five-year deal with Inter and will earn about £9.6 a season. It brings an end to his five-year stay at the Nou Camp.

"It's done," said Mesalles. "We have reached an agreement with Inter. Samuel talked to Mourinho and is very happy to be wearing the Nerazzurri shirt. All the details have been filed.

"It's complete harmony with us and the Nerazzurri club. We are very happy and satisfied. The deal's sealed, next week he will start working with Inter.

The agreement should give the green light for Ibrahimovic's move in the opposite direction, despite the 27-year-old Sweden striker picking up a wrist injury during Inter's friendly defeat by Chelsea on Tuesday.

Inter and Barca have yet to confirm the news but the Italians announced on Thursday that Ibrahimovic's injury is not as serious as first feared.

Inter president Massimo Moratti said on Tuesday: "Until things are wrapped up, there's nothing to say but I am confident.

"Eto'o is one of the most important players on the market. Along with Ibra, he's one of the most wanted. It's a good chance for us to have another champion."

Ibrahimovic was the top scorer in Serie A last season and Moratti had nothing but praise for the 27-year-old.

"He's a very serious professional," he said of the Swedish international. "He has always behaved well with us.

"He helped us win the championship and he was top scorer last year."

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who transfer-listed Eto'o last year, has said he believes the Cameroon striker should leave the club.

"I am convinced that the best thing for Barca is for Eto'o to leave," stated Guardiola. "Could I be mistaken? Maybe so. But I am here to make these decisions."

Guardiola added Eto'o's departure would be good for the team.

"I feel that it is best for the club and the team. It's a question of feelings," said Guardiola. "I am not here to change anyone's character, but I can decide on which players I want to count on for the season.

"After what we won, we had to change the dressing room. I took this decision from my experience as a footballer."

Eto'o had been on the verge of a deal with Manchester City but Mark Hughes's side withdrew their interest last week.

The forward signed for Barcelona from Mallorca for £16m in 2004.

news source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 23rd July 2009

Human Capital Innovation in Oil, Gas & Petrochem

Having a series of successful HR conferences dedicated to the Middle East market, Jacob Fleming presents Human Capital Innovation in Oil, Gas & Petrochem held in Cairo- Egypt on 11- 13 October 2009, a three-day Conference & workshop programme, featuring regional and international leaders in the HR profession from African region.

Enriched speaker panel (leading industrial figures from renowned organisations like : BP Egypt & Middle East, Shell International, SatoilHydro, Petrobras, National Oil Corporation Libya, SAMREF, Saudi Aramco, Pertamina, SINOPEC, SEGAS, etc  will come together to discuss the current issues on how to reinvent the Human Resources function to meet the stressful challenges arising in resourcing, retention, organization and leadership development.

       Date: 11- 13 October 2009, Egypt

       Phone:  971 4 60 91 575

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       Visit Our Website

Posted on Thursday 23rd July 2009

Owen hits winner on Man Utd debut

Michael Owen marked his first appearance for Manchester United with an 84th-minute winner in a 3-2 victory over a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur.

Owen, who came on as a second-half substitute, reacted smartly to slot home a loose ball after Zoran Tosic had been upended in the penalty area.

A predatory Wayne Rooney strike opened the scoring before Nani's composed finish doubled United's advantage.

A Mohammed Amri Yahyah brace then gave the hosts hope before Owen pounced.

Owen, who also scored on his Liverpool debut as a 17-year-old, sent a miscued volley bobbling harmlessly across the face of the goal before finding the net in trademark fashion.

The 29-year-old said: "It's just nice to play with players who are on your wavelength, spotting your runs - they are just class players.

"It's nice to play a game in the red shirt. Just to get off the mark for the season is nice and it's probably doubly good for me as it's my first game as well."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with Owen's contribution.

"He's different from our other players, he's always searching for space, he's always in and around the box. He reacted well for his goal," he stated.

In a United side shorn of summer departures Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Rooney was the man of the match, scoring the opener, setting up the second and going close several times.

Almost 100,000 fans packed the Bukit Jalil Stadium to watch the famous visitors.

United were set to travel to Indonesia for the second match of their Far East tour but have cancelled the trip following Friday's bomb attacks in Jakarta.

Instead, United will have a rematch against the Malaysia XI team on Monday.

The Football Federation of Australia had offered to arrange a game on Monday but United declined the invitation.

The extra travel would have meant a nine-hour flight to Sydney and then an 11-hour trip to Seoul, where United are set to play on Friday.

United will head back to Europe straight after a game in China next Sunday.

news source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 18th July 2009

Orlando Pirates 2-0 Man City

Orlando Pirates beat Manchester City 2-0 in the first game of the Vodacom Challenge in the South African town of Polokwane on Saturday.

Lucas Thwala put Pirates ahead on 36 minutes from the penalty spot and Botswana midfielder Phenyo Mongala scored the second on 56 minutes.

City's new signing Carlos Tevez watched from the sidelines.

Manager Mark Hughes said it was "too dangerous" to field Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz as they lacked fitness.

Zimbabwean Benjani Mwaruwari came on as a substitute for City, who never threatened to take the initiative in the match.

The English club face Kaizer Chiefs on Tuesday in Durban before meeting the winners of a play-off between Chiefs and Pirates in the final next Saturday in Pretoria.

Posted on Saturday 18th July 2009

Adebayor completes Man City move

Manchester City have added to their collection of strikers by signing Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor on a five-year deal for a fee of around £25m.

The 25-year-old joins fellow new signings Roque Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez at Eastlands.

And with Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Valeri Bojinov and Benjani also on their books, City have an embarrassment of riches up front.

"I can't wait to play for City's fans and show them what I can do," he said.

"I was born to play football and that is what I want to do. I have come here to make history for this club and those supporters.

"It what the chairman and the manager told me that they want too and I can't wait to get started."

The Togo striker, who takes City's summer spending to around £80m, passed a medical on Saturday and had already been successful in arranging a work permit.

Adebayor, who was also linked with linked to AC Milan and Chelsea, spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Gunners after joining them from Monaco for £7m, scoring 62 goals in 142 games.

He scored 30 goals in the 2007-08 season but struggled with injuries in the last campaign and also incurred the wrath of some Arsenal fans, who felt the striker lacked commitment.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said he was sorry to see Adebayor leave, but insisted he had no immediate plans to replace him.

"We're not on the verge of signing anybody but I'm able to spend the money if we find the right players," he said,

"We have Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo back so we've lost a big striker but have gained two offensive players who were absent last season.

"We also have Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott who can play striker. We have top players we can use as strikers.

"But we'll miss Emmanuel - he's a great player. I'm sure he'll give something special to Man City.

 

"If you consider the money we paid for him it was good business, but that was not our main target."

City boss Mark Hughes said Adebayor's arrival was a major step forward for the club.

"Emmanuel has been one of the top forwards in the Premier League since he arrived from France and we are delighted he has agreed to come and join us," he said.

"Along with the other signings we have made in the last two windows he will greatly enhance our ability to compete with the top sides.

"His arrival is another clear indication that we are determined to augment the players we have here with the best of international talent.

"He adds vital balance and power to our attack. He has everything a top forward needs. He is versatile, powerful, quick and agile on the ball.

"I am looking forward to working with him as are the rest of the staff. He will definitely add a new dimension to our play. I have been a great admirer for a long time."

City, backed up the huge financial wealth of their owners, the Abu Dhabi United group, are eager to break into the Premier League's top four this coming season and have shown their determination with their close-season spending.

Midfielder Gareth Barry was bought from Aston Villa for £12m and City paid Blackburn about £18m for Paraguay international Santa Cruz.

City completed a deal for Tevez on Tuesday, with the Argentine joining after City paid a fee of about £25m to secure his registration from third party ownership after his contract with Premier League champions Manchester United expired.

news source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 18th July 2009

Ghana secures $600m loan from IMF

Ghana is to get a $600m three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), amid concerns about the impact of the recession on poorer countries.

It will also be able to draw up to $450m from the IMF through a special facility - expanded after the G20 summit - to help poor countries.

Ghana needs funds to reduce its budget deficit and support its currency.

It has been hit by high food and fuel prices, an energy crisis and heavy spending before last year's elections.

But the Ghanaian economy has proved "relatively resilient," the IMF said, supported by the high prices of cocoa and gold.

The extra $450m will come from the money that Ghana and others have deposited in the fund. These are held as special drawing rights, a basket of currencies composed of the dollar, euro, yen and pound.

Ghana is the world's second-biggest cocoa producer, Africa's second-biggest gold exporter, and is also set to become the continent's newest oil producer.

Spending control

The IMF funds should help the country reduce its budget deficit from 14.5% in 2008 to 9.4% in 2009.

 

Spending has risen in recent years. In 2006/07, poor rains meant that Ghana, which relies mostly on hydropower, had to rely on more expensive oil-fired power.

Rising fuel and food prices also hit Ghana hard. In the run up to last year's fiercely-contested election, the government also spent heavily.

If Ghana is to reach its budget deficit target of 4.5% of GDP in 2011, much more needs to be done to control spending, the IMF said.

It needs to strengthen tax collection, keep the public sector wage bill under control and avoid large subsidies for petrol and utility bills, it said. If this advice is followed, this will likely mean higher electricity and fuel bills for Ghanaians.

Oil hopes

But Ghana's economy should receive a welcome boost from oil. In 2007, Tullow Oil announced that it had discovered 600 million barrels of oil offshore.

Oil revenues, expected to start in 2011, could potentially bring Ghana into middle income status, Takatoshi Kato, the IMF's deputy managing director, said.

But he added: "The horizon for oil production could prove relatively short, and it will be important that the new revenues be used wisely."

Mr Kato's views echo analysts' fears that Ghana may fall prey to the resource curse. An influx of oil dollars can deter countries from diversifying into other economic sectors.

In countries where institutions are weak and governance poor, oil riches can also exacerbate corruption. Poverty and corruption are rife in oil producers such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola.

The IMF has calculated that oil income to the budget will be worth about $40 per person in 2011, less than $1 a week.

"That will make some differences to living standards in Ghana but not of a magnitude that you can afford to use it imprudently, and you need very strong budget mechanisms to make sure that money ends up in programmes where money is needed," Peter Allum, the IMF's mission chief to Ghana, said.

news source: bbc

Posted on Friday 17th July 2009

Goldman Sachs sees bumper profit

US bank Goldman Sachs reported a net profit of $3.44bn (£2.1bn) for April to June, beating analysts' forecasts.

Less volatility in stock markets, rises in global share prices and involvement in many firms' rights issues and takeovers had boosted profits, it said.

The bank said it had set aside $6.65bn for pay and bonuses in the quarter - an average of $226,000 per employee.

Goldman has recently paid off $10bn of government loans it had taken as part of a government bail-out programme.

Its results include a one-off charge of $426m related to the repayment of its government loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp).

Record revenues

Some have raised questions over whether it is right that a bank make such profits and pay hefty bonuses so soon after receiving government loans.

But analyst William Smith, of Smith Asset Management said: "Goldman should be celebrated, not demonised."

"Things are very fragile but they manage to make money in all environments, which is what you're supposed to do," he added.

Goldman reported record net revenues of $13.8bn - about 47% higher than it generated in the preceding three months.

Meanwhile, staff remuneration figures takes the bank's average payout per employee for the first half of the year to $384,000.

However, bonuses are not actually finalised until the end of the year - and the figure which is paid out reflects performance over 12 months, it said.

Analysts had already predicted that the annual payout in 2009 for its staff could be nearly $18bn - or an average of more than $600,000 per person.

Share rises

Six months ago, Goldman reported its first quarterly loss since going public in 1999, after being battered by the economic crisis.

But it then surprised Wall Street by reporting a $1.8bn profit for the first three months of the year, despite the financial crisis.

And the bank said it had benefitted from higher volumes of trading in shares, while seeing record revenues from currency and commodities trading during the second quarter.

 It also gained from several firms raising funds from shareholders through rights issues. Revenues from underwriting - where the bank agrees to buy any shares not taken up by investors in return for a fee - rose 21%.

And its lack of exposure to the weak consumer retail markets, had also helped.

"While markets remain fragile and we recognise the challenges the broader economy faces, our second quarter results reflected the combination of improving financial market conditions and a deep and diverse client franchise," said chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

Its share price, while still well off its highs, has gained about 75% in 2009.

Goldman paid $771m in dividends to holders of its preferential shares.

The $3.44bn net profit compares with $2.1bn in the three months to May 2008, when it had a different reporting schedule.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2009

Microsoft Office takes to the web

Microsoft has fired its latest salvo at Google, announcing a free web-based version of its Office software.

Office 2010 will include lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote when it ships next year.

The new web offering will compete with Google's free online Docs suite launched three years ago.

Last week Google took aim at Windows with news of a free operating system while in June Microsoft introduced a new search engine called Bing.

"We believe the web has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity," Microsoft's group product manager for Office told the BBC.

"We have over a half a billion customers world-wide and what we hear from them is that they really want the power of the web without compromise. They want collaboration without compromise.

"And what they tell us today is that going to the web often means they sacrifice fidelity, functionality and the quality of the content they care about. We knew that if and when we were ever going to bring applications into a web environment, we needed to do the hard work first because we hold such a high bar," said Mr Bryant.

Microsoft said that 400 million customers who are Windows Live consumers will have access to the Office web applications at no cost.

At a conference for business partners in New Orleans, Microsoft announced an early release of web-apps to thousands of testers later this year.

At the end of the year the company expects to release a proper public beta for the software and ship a final version off to PC makers in the first half of 2010.

'Conversion'

Analysts have mostly given the thumbs up to Microsoft for moving some of its applications to the web, even if it might cost them dearly.

The Wall Street Journal has estimated that offering free online software could "put at risk as much at $4bn (£2.46bn) in revenue".

One analyst told the paper that despite such losses, it could be a canny move.

"Making sure people are still using Microsoft products is more important" in the short term than risking revenue, explained Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

"They need to keep people using Office," he said.

"Microsoft is finally making the conversion through the web-based world. First, we saw that through Bing. Now we are seeing that through Office, " said Jeffries & Co analyst Katherine Egbert.

"The software giant has woken up, " wrote Emil Protalinksi of online blog Arcs Technica.

"It is promising to know that such a traditional software company is responding to the 'threat of the cloud' to its core business by embracing it."

Investors appeared to like Microsoft's move and boosted shares by almost 3.8% higher to close at $23.23 (£14.33).

Rivalry

Microsoft's announcement is being seen as the latest move in a tit-for-tat rivalry between two tech giants as it and Google increasingly make efforts to encroach on one another's turf.

When Google announced its Chrome operating system last week, the blogosphere watched and waited for Microsoft to react.

Mr Bryant stuck to the company line when he spoke to BBC News.

"I haven't seen the product. I think it's not a trivial engineering investment to go and build an operating system," he said. "Of course it is interesting and there is a lot of talk but until we see the product, it's hard to say what kind of impact it will have.

"We can't afford to get wrapped up in hype or buzz or noise because really our customers depend on us every single day."

Microsoft's business software division, which includes Office, made $9.3 bn (£5.74bn) in profit from $14.3 bn(£8.82bn) in sales during the first three-quarters of its 2009 fiscal year.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2009

Tevez completes move to Man City

Manchester City have completed the signing of ex-Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez for a fee believed to be £25.5m and on a five-year deal.

The Argentine, 25, left Old Trafford last month after rejecting their offer of turning his loan spell with them into a permanent switch.

Tevez said: "City came with a very good proposal and ambition to become one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"It was an easy decision and I am happy to be here."

Tevez was mobbed by joyous City fans on his arrival at Eastlands.

"It's terrific news," said City boss Mark Hughes. "He's an international of the highest class who possesses all the attributes to help drive us forward.

"This is yet another deal that shows the commitment of the owner to make this club the very best it can be."

Tevez, who will wear the number 32 shirt at Eastlands, spent a season with West Ham before joining Manchester United on an extended loan deal in 2007.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson claimed he had texted Tevez and attempted to speak to the Argentine about staying at Old Trafford but had received no response.

"I was there for two years and Sir Alex never called or sent any text messages in that time," countered Tevez, who also denied any deal with City had been agreed in January 2009.

"The only time he talked to me was after a match against Roma to discuss a situation about going to play for Argentina.

"It doesn't seem that this is the way to treat a player in two years at the club. It doesn't seem there is a line of communication."

But Tevez added: "I would like to thank David Gill (United chief executive), Alex Ferguson and the club's fan base, but this is a new life for me and I am happy to be at Manchester City.

His move to Old Trafford ended a long-running saga following complications with West Ham's registration of the player.

The Premier League has ratified all the paperwork regarding his move to Eastlands having been assured City have sole registration of the striker.

"Money was not the most important thing about my move," continued Tevez.

"I have a coach who wants me and a good fan-base and environment around me. I'm excited about working with Mark Hughes and building a good relationship with him."

Tevez, the only player to win the South American player of the year award three seasons running, won the Olympic gold medal with Argentina in Athens in 2004.

He helped United win successive Premier League titles, becoming a crowd favourite as he scored 34 goals in 99 league and cup starts, and has now targeted helping bring the title to Eastlands.

"The objective is to win the league, that is what we have talked about and I'm here to make my contribution to the cause on a daily basis," he said.

"I'm here to win things and I make that pledge now to my team-mates and our fans.

"I will give everything to help City become one of the biggest and most important clubs in England - and win some trophies.

"But it is very important to remember that I am just one more player to add to the strength of the squad, one more player working with the coach and my new team-mates to help us win trophies for City."

Tevez will become one of a select band to have joined both Manchester clubs and he could re-visit his former club at the Old Trafford derby on 19 September.

"He is not only outstanding technically but he is a reliable goal scorer and someone who will contribute fully to the team ethic," Hughes added.

"He gives us another exciting, attacking dimension."

Tevez scored 15 goals last season but was often on the bench for key games and was wary of not getting enough first-team football ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

However, he rejected suggestions that he had been given guarantees of first-team football at City.

"This will be a very challenging season for me," he said. "I have no assurances about my place and must win the respect of my team-mates as I fight to be first choice.

"Then it is the World Cup next summer. I will work hard to achieve these goals."

Manchester City's summer spending so far has seen them sign striker Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn for £18m and Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry for £12m.

Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor is also in talks over a move to Eastlands.

But a proposed bid for Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o fell through - even though reports suggested the club was willing to make the Cameroon international the highest-paid player in the world, earning £250,000 per week.

There have also been rumours that Chelsea captain John Terry is on Manchester City's wish-list, although Stamford Bridge boss Carlo Ancelotti insists the England defender is not for sale at any price.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2009

Man City confirm Adebayor talks

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes says the club are in negotiations to sign Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

"There have been discussions and there is possibly a deal to be done but nothing has been concluded," Hughes said at the unveiling of Carlos Tevez.

Togo international Adebayor is believed to be on sale for about £25m after three-and-a-half seasons at Arsenal.

The 25-year-old, who scored 16 times for the Gunners last season, has also been linked to AC Milan and Chelsea.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the signing of the Argentian striker, Hughes admitted that there could be more arrivals at the big-spending club before the start of the season.

"It may well be that opportunities will present themselves. We still have areas we want to strengthen," he said.

Hughes also refused to rule out a possible move for Chelsea captain John Terry.

"I have fantastic respect for John Terry, ever since I saw him as a young player when I was at Chelsea as a player myself.

"He's a great player and an outstanding captain. But he's very much a Chelsea player at this moment in time.

"I have huge respect for him. I think any manager would covet a player of the type of John Terry, but at this moment in time he's a player for Chelsea so we have to respect that."

City are intent on building a new-look attack and as well as Tevez have also added Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz to their ranks this summer, having signed Craig Bellamy last season.

The Eastlands club are eager to break into the Premier League's top four this coming season and have shown their determination with their close-season spending.

Midfielder Gareth Barry was bought from Aston Villa, and from under the noses of last season's Premier League runners-up Liverpool, for £12m and City paid Blackburn about £18m for Paraguay international forward Santa Cruz.

City completed a deal for Tevez on Tuesday - the Argentine joining after City paid a fee of around £25m to secure his registration from third party ownership after his contract with Premier League champions Manchester United expired.

And if Adebayor also makes the switch to Eastlands, City will have captured players from three of the top six clubs in the top flight last season.

In Adebayor, City would be buying a player who has scored 62 goals in 142 appearances for Arsenal since he joined from Monaco for £7m.

He hit 30 goals in the 2007/08 season but struggled with injuries in the last campaign and also incurred the wrath of some Arsenal fans who felt the striker lacked commitment.

With the influx of big-name players at Eastlands comes a new challenge for manager Mark Hughes, according to former Manchester City player Dennis Tueart.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The big challenge for managers now is to manage extremely wealthy young men, who do not need to work beyond their football careers.

"How does that affect their psyche and professionalism? These are things that the manager has got to sort out."

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 14th July 2009

Ferguson rules out more signings

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he will not make any further signings during the summer.

United have brought in Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia and Bordeaux's Gabriel Obertan to replace departed forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

Ferguson revealed he had bid for Karim Benzema, who joined Real Madrid, but insisted he had no further targets.

"It is the end of our business," he said. "Stories about who we are supposed to be getting - forget it."

United pocketed £80m from Ronaldo's world record transfer to Real Madrid and the Old Trafford club had been expected to spend a sizeable proportion of the funds on new players.

Transfer market has caught fire - Ferguson

Among those to be linked with a move to the Premier League champions are Brazilian forward Douglas Costa, French playmaker Franck Ribery, and Spain striker David Villa.

But Ferguson feels the market is now over-inflated and he does not want to pay over the odds for players.

Real Madrid, for example, have spent in excess of £170m this summer in capturing Kaka from AC Milan, Benzema from Lyon and Ronaldo.

And Ferguson added: "There are some amazing numbers being talked about, not all of them realistic. It is very difficult to get value now.

"In a way we benefited through the sale of Cristiano, although that figure was non-negotiable.

"But I feel we have a good squad, which meant there was no need for knee-jerk reactions.

"We asked about Benzema and we had a value for him. Lyon have done well because they got 42m euros but I think we took a sensible view."

Instead, Valencia has arrived from Wigan, 20-year-old winger Obertan has been recruited and Owen was signed on a free transfer after his contract with Newcastle expired.

And the England striker has been handed the number seven shirt - the shirt vacated by Ronaldo.

Owen hungry to succeed at Old Trafford

Owen will add extra experience to an attack that still boasts plenty of established talent in Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, plus youngsters Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda.

Ferguson hinted that Welbeck and Macheda, who scored vital goals at the end of last season, will be given opportunities to play their part.

"They are both young players - but young players with ability always get a chance here," added Ferguson.

Owen, meanwhile, has vowed to recapture his best form and show he will be an important part of the United team.

"I am hungry to do well and if this challenge doesn't create a hunger and put a spring in your step and a smile on your face then nothing will," he said.

"I honestly believe I can still do well in a top team like Manchester United."

Ferguson praised the desire of Owen to prove his critics wrong and is confident the 28-year-old can rediscover the scoring touch that made him one of Europe's most feared strikers.

"His experience is vital and with Michael you will see the experience he will give us in the penalty box," commented Ferguson.

"There is no question that he will score a lot of goals for us and he has been great for years and years.

"You always have to be aware of him in the last third."

Ferguson added that he had expected to lose Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, who looks set to join local rivals Manchester City, for several months.

"I half expected Tevez would be going a long time back," said the Scot

"I spoke to him and gave him an offer on the night we played Inter Milan (in March) and he never came back to me.

"I phoned him on holiday and he never got back to me and I texted him twice and he never got back to me then either, so obviously he had made his mind up a long time ago.

"He was a good player and did well for us. But he obviously assessed the situation and wanted to go somewhere else."

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 13th July 2009

Tevez set to seal Man City switch

Manchester City have agreed a deal to sign former West Ham and Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez.

The 25-year-old Argentine forward, who left Old Trafford last month, will sign a five-year deal subject to a medical.

"It's terrific news," City boss Mark Hughes said. "He is an international of the highest class who possesses all the attributes to help drive us forward.

"This is yet another deal that shows the commitment of the owner to make this club the very best it can be."

Tevez, who will wear the number 32 shirt at Eastlands, spent a season with West Ham before joining Manchester United on an extended loan deal in 2007.

His move to Old Trafford ended a long-running saga following complications with West Ham's registration of the player.

The Premier League has ratified all the paperwork regarding his move to Eastlands having been assured City have sole registration of the striker.

Tevez, the only player to win the South American player of the year award three seasons running, won the Olympic gold medal with Argentina in Athens in 2004.

He was at Old Trafford as Sir Alex Ferguson's side lifted successive Premier League titles, becoming a crowd favourite as he scored 34 goals in 99 league and cup starts.

Tevez will become one of a select band to have joined both Manchester clubs and he could re-visit his former club at the Old Trafford derby on 19 September.

United said in June that they were willing to pay the £25.5m to turn the striker's two-year loan move into a permanent five-year deal but Tevez decided to move on.

Speaking after Tevez's decision to leave Manchester United, the player's advisor Kia Joorabchian said: "He has to sign the next five years with a club he believes has got ambition to go forward in the Premier League, a club with history and one that really wants to achieve things."

Argentine international Tevez scored 15 goals last season but was often on the bench for key games and was wary of not getting enough first-team football ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Manchester City's summer spending so far has seen them sign striker Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn for £18m and Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry for £12m.

But a proposed bid for Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o fell through - even though reports suggested the club was willing to make the Cameroon international the highest-paid player in the world, earning £250,000 per week.

There have also been rumours that Chelsea captain John Terry is on Manchester City's wish-list, although Stamford Bridge boss Carlo Ancelotti insists the England defender is not for sale at any price.

Rumours also abound that Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be offered a lucrative five-year contract.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 13th July 2009

Historic African trip for Obama

Barack Obama is in Ghana on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since becoming US president.

Ghana was chosen because of its democratic track record and Mr Obama is expected to use the trip to promote good governance across the continent.

He will hold talks with President John Atta Mills and address the country's parliament on the subject of democracy.

He is due to visit a former slave fort and a health centre in the capital, Accra, as part of his 24-hour visit.

The BBC's Will Ross says President Obama will find it a challenge in the current economic climate to match some of the achievements of his predecessor, George W Bush, when it comes to health care in Africa, especially in the fight against HIV.

The visit to the slave fort at Cape Coast Castle will be a poignant moment for the country's first African-American president and for his wife Michelle, whose ancestors are believed to have come from West Africa, our correspondent says.

Tight security

Posters of Barack and Michelle Obama are to be seen throughout Accra, where their arrival was eagerly awaited.

On arrival, President Obama and his family were met by President Atta Mills, and treated to a colourful welcome featuring drummers and traditional dancers.

Ghanaian musicians have written songs to mark the visit and it is clear that millions of Ghanaians would love to see Mr Obama, our correspondent says.

However, there will be few opportunities for them to do so during his 24-hour stay.

When former President Bill Clinton came more than a decade ago, he addressed hundreds of thousands of cheering Ghanaians.

But post-9/11, security is tighter and all events are for invited guests only, our correspondent notes.

Key rings and umbrellas

Barack Obama visited sub-Saharan Africa while a US senator, making a trip to Kenya - his father's homeland - in August 2006.

Mr Obama's official business on Saturday includes talks with Ghana's president and a speech to parliament.

Ahead of the president's arrival late on Friday, people were already out celebrating, dancing and drumming in the seaside city's streets.

Memorabilia being sold by vendors ranged from key rings and coffee mugs to handkerchiefs and umbrellas bearing portraits of Mr Obama and Mr Atta-Mills.

Thousands of police have been deployed for the visit and a number of city roads were closed on Friday.

Cape Coast, a town about 160km (100 miles) west of Accra, has even suspended funerals on account of Mr Obama's impending visit to its old slave fort.

"We banned all funeral activities in Cape Coast because we want to give a befitting welcome to the US president," Ghana's central regional minister, Ama Benyiwaa Doe, told AFP news agency.

"The dead can be buried later but Obama is here for once and we must pay all attention to him."

Squeeze on aid

Across the African continent, people are pinning a lot of hope on Barack Obama partly because of his African roots but also because of his election slogan, Yes We Can, our correspondent reports.

He arrived in Ghana hours after leaders of the G8 industrialised countries pledged billions of dollars to boost agriculture - the main source of income for many sub-Saharan Africans.

But the financial climate is different from when former President Bush was in office and American-funded programmes, such as the provision of medicine for people living with HIV, are facing new challenges.

Posted on Saturday 11th July 2009

Obama speaks of hopes for Africa

US President Barack Obama, on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office, has said Africa must take charge of its own destiny in the world.

Mr Obama told parliament in Ghana during a one-day stay that good governance was vital for development.

Major challenges awaited Africans in the new century, he said, but vowed that the US would help the continent.

The US president's trip came at the end of a summit of eight of the world's most powerful nations, held in Italy.

Ghana was chosen as the destination for the president's visit because of its strong democratic record.

After his speech, Mr Obama headed to Cape Coast Castle, a seaside fortress converted to the slave trade by the British in the 17th Century. He was accompanied by his wife, Michelle, a descendant of African slaves, and both of his young daughters.

People crowded into a public area outside the fort to greet Mr Obama, with those unable to get a place in the throng climbing onto nearby roofs and filling balconies just to catch a glimpse of the US leader.

Speaking after a tour of the fort, Mr Obama said the fort should be a source of hope as well as repository of painful memories.

"It reminds us that as bad as history can be, it's always possible to overcome," he said.

Africa's choice

Earlier in the day, Mr Obama spoke to members of parliament after a breakfast meeting with Ghanaian President John Atta Mills.

He wore a broad grin as he was greeted at the podium by a series of rousing horn blasts from within the hall.

"Congress needs one of them," Mr Obama joked, before turning to more serious matters.

"I have come here to Ghana for a simple reason," the US president said: "The 21st Century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Ghana as well."

Delivering a message that "Africa's future is up to Africans", Mr Obama conceded that the legacy of colonialism had helped breed conflict on the continent.

"But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants," he added.

He praised Ghana's own progress, governance and economic growth, saying Ghana's achievements were less dramatic than the liberation struggles of the 20th Century but would ultimately be more significant.

"Development depends upon good governance," Mr Obama told legislators. "That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long.

"And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

'Yes you can'

Expanding on his message, Mr Obama said four key areas were critical to the future of Africa and of the entire developing world, citing democracy, opportunity, health and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

He hailed Ghana's democratic society, calling for strong parliaments, honest police, independent judges and a free press across Africa.

However, there were some blunt words directed at other countries, many of which have been undermined by despotic leaders and corrupt politicians.

"Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions," Mr Obama told his audience.

"No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny."

He pledged to continue strong US support for public healthcare initiatives in Africa, and called for sensible use of natural resources such as oil in the face of the threat of climate change.

"Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war," Mr Obama added. "But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. He described wars as a "millstone around Africa's neck".

"You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people," Mr Obama said, describing freedom as Africa's "inheritance" and urging the continent to beat disease, end conflict and bring long-lasting change.

In an echo of his presidential election campaign, he drew his speech to a close with a version of his trademark slogan: "Yes you can," he told the gathered legislators.

Speaking to the BBC, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga welcomed the speech.

"We should stop blaming colonialism for our under-development. We really need to address issues of governance, because I believe it is the mediocrity with which Africa has been governed that is responsible for our backwardness today."

Mr Obama arrived in the capital late on Friday, fresh from the G8 summit in Italy where heads of state agreed on a $20bn (£12.3bn) fund to bolster agriculture - the main source of income for many sub-Saharan Africans.

He left after dark on Saturday, offering a final thanks for his welcome.

"As somebody whose father comes from Africa I am pleased this visit has been particularly meaningful for me," Mr Obama said.

news source: bbc

Posted on Saturday 11th July 2009

Ghana excitement builds for Obama

As US President Barack Obama touches down on Ghanaian soil, there is no doubt about the feeling of pride over the visit - his first to sub-Saharan Africa as leader.

Accra's international airport has received a brisk makeover - shiny new flags adorn lamp posts along major routes and large billboards have been erected depicting Ghanaian President John Atta Mills alongside Mr Obama, with the proclamation "Partnership for Change" and the Akan phrase "Akwaaba" meaning welcome home.

The presence of Obama merchandise and paraphernalia is nowhere near the volume which accompanied other recent events such as the December 2008 election, or the 50th anniversary celebrations in March 2007.

But it has been growing daily.

Local hawker Suleiman Ibrahim was beaming smiles and proudly displaying T-shirts, flags, wristbands, and Obama fabrics made in Ghana on a route in the capital Accra popularly known as Oxford Street.

"I'm making 30 cedis ($20) profit a day," he said.

"Before Obama, some days I would sell nothing at all.

"It is the will of God that brought the 44th US president here but if there is anything that Obama can bring to Ghana it should be to support education."

Inspired artwork

The coming of President Obama has also inspired artists around the capital.

Gilbert Forsen displays a giant wooden model television near the ultra-modern shopping centre in north Accra.

 

It cost him around $80 to make.

"I like Obama so much, that's why I made this television. One day I saw him on television, I captured him in my eyes and did this design from memory."

The image is remarkable. Mr Forsen says about 200 people have shown interest in buying the work - but he is keeping it.

"I won't sell before Obama leaves because I want people to see this television, but if only I could get a chance to see Obama, I would give it to him for free."

Invisible homecoming?

And yet elsewhere on the streets of Accra there is also a mood of laissez-faire.

There is something low-key about the event when compared with previous visits by US President George W Bush in February 2008, and especially that of Bill Clinton in 1998.

 

Tens of thousands of adoring Ghanaians overwhelmed security during Mr Clinton's visit.

Perhaps it is the realisation that what is being billed as Mr Obama's "homecoming" - publicised as a two-day visit, will actually last for less than 24 hours.

And given security considerations post-9/11, very few people will get to see him in the flesh.

Thousands of people will turn up at Independence Square in Accra expecting a large public address but they are likely to be disappointed.

With the exception of the visit to the former slave castle at Cape Coast, President Obama's presence in Ghana will be largely invisible except through the privileged lenses of television cameras.

There are other factors too - the rising costs of living has dampened optimism and a fuel shortage this week has increased misery for road users.

And the rainy season has brought predictable and inevitable flooding, displacing scores of residents, affecting economic activity, causing havoc on the roads, and reminding Ghanaians that the quality of their infrastructure cannot match the quality of international praise received for the nation's progress in democratic development.

Realistic expectations

While many people on the streets and callers to local radio programmes have expressed excitement at the coming of the first American leader with African roots, there is also a competing amount of scepticism, even cynicism.

 

As one clothing trader in an Accra market put it: "What President Bush brought to us last year, we didn't see anything, nothing, even those mosquito nets, that's why people are not making much noise about Obama."

Another added: "Obama can raise some money for us, but our leaders will take the money and divide it in three, leaving just one slice for implementation."

There has also been a certain shift in attitude, a lowering of the clear-our-drains type expectation which accompanied the visit of Mr Bush.

And there is a widespread acknowledgement that the first black president of the US will look after US interests first and foremost.

One shopper in Accra's Kimbu market expressed a common sentiment among Ghanaians: "I don't think Obama is here to redeem Ghana, we have to help ourselves."

'Unifying force'

Despite having hosted several major international events over the past two years, Ghana has once again been slow off the starting line.

The visit was announced in mid-May, however dissemination of information, public promotions and the organisation of accreditation for hundreds of visitors and media houses have gathered pace only in the past week.

"It's typical Ghanaian nature," says deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

"We always want to do it in the last moment and that's not surprising but this week everyone is talking about Obama - in the shops, offices, churches, mosques, our street hawkers are flying Obama paraphernalia," he said.

"It's exciting and is also unifying our country, it puts recent election campaign tensions behind us, we have been given a rare privilege and nobody wants to spoil the party."

In reality hundreds of Accra's hawkers have been cleared from the streets in a "decongestion" exercise which began in June, and the excitement cannot accurately be described as fever pitch.

However, come rain or sunshine on Saturday, thousands, or possibly hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians will utilise their last-minute merchandise and come out on the streets to celebrate and cherish the day they caught a glimpse of Barack Obama and the first family of the US.

news source: bbc

Posted on Friday 10th July 2009

Africa texts Obama before visit

US President Barack Obama has received thousands of text messages about Africa after he asked people to send questions before his trip to Ghana on Friday.

Mr Obama will answer a number of texts - which will be selected by journalists from Senegal, Kenya and South Africa.

The White House says there have been messages of support and criticism.

Before his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president, he warned the continent there would be no investment without good governance.

The president's media adviser, Macon Phillips, told the BBC's Network Africa programme he wanted the messages to be part of a "continental conversation".

Mr Phillips said people could text whatever they wanted - questions, criticism or just general comment.

 

"What we can do is look at all these responses and find trends and popular issues and it gives us a better understanding of what people are thinking about," he said.

"There's much greater value than just question and answer - it's yet another way for us to see what's happening on the ground."

The White House has set up local SMS short codes for people to send their messages:

Elsewhere, the numbers are: 61418601934 and 45609910343.

It has also set up Twitter feeds and blogs on a special page.

Mr Obama's decision to visit Ghana has annoyed some in Nigeria - by far the most populous country in Africa.

The BBC's Caroline Duffield, in Abuja, says opposition groups see it as America's judgement on the health of the country's democracy.

Jibril Aminu, who chairs Nigeria's foreign relations committee, said that if Mr Obama had concerns about the country he should have voiced them in Nigeria.

"There's no reason to send goodwill with a catapault," he said.

"If he's seeking to send a message, I'm afraid that with all respect, he's not been successful."

But Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka praised Mr Obama's "wise decision" to avoid Nigeria, saying it should be a pariah state because it had abused the principles of democracy.

news source: bbc

Posted on Thursday 9th July 2009

Google to launch operating system

is developing an operating system (OS) for personal computers, in a direct challenge to market leader Microsoft and its Windows system.

Google Chrome OS will be aimed initially at small, low-cost netbooks, but will eventually be used on PCs as well.

Google said netbooks with Chrome OS could be on sale by the middle of 2010.

"Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS," the firm said in its official blog.

The operating system, which will run on an open source licence, was a "natural extension" of its Chrome browser, the firm said.

The news comes just months before Microsoft launches the latest version of its operating system, called Windows 7.

'Back to basics'

"We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you on to the web in a few seconds," said the blog post written by Sundar Pichai, vice-president of product management, and Google's engineering director Linus Upson.

Both men said that "the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web" and that this OS was "our attempt to rethink what operating systems should be".

To that end, the search giant said the new OS would go back to basics.

"We are completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates.

"It should just work," said Google.

Google already has an operating system for mobile phones called Android which can also be used to run on netbooks. Google Chrome OS will be aimed not just at laptops but also at desktops for those who spend a lot of time on the web.

'Truly competitive'

The announcement could dramatically change the market for operating systems, especially for Microsoft, the biggest player with around 90% share.

"This announcement is huge," said Rob Enderle, industry watcher and president of the Enderle Group.

"This is the first time we have had a truly competitive OS on the market in years. This is potentially disruptive and is the first real attempt by anyone to go after Microsoft.

"Google is coming at this fresh and, because it is based on a set of services that reside on the web, it is the first really post-web operating system, designed from the ground up, and reconceived for a web world," Mr Enderle told the BBC.

 

Last year Google launched the Chrome browser, which it said was designed for "people who live on the web - searching for information, checking e-mail, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends".

Stephen Shankland at CNET said the move had widespread implications.

"One is that it shows just how serious Google is about making the web into a foundation not just for static pages but for active applications, notably its own such as Google Docs and G-mail.

"Another, it opens new competition with Microsoft and, potentially, a new reason for anti-trust regulators to pay close attention to Google's moves."

Some commentators said Google's motivation in all this was pretty clear.

"One of Google's major goals is to take Microsoft out, to systematically destroy their hold on the market," said Mr Enderle.

"Google wants to eliminate Microsoft and it's a unique battle. The strategy is good. The big question is, will it work?"

At the popular blog, TechCrunch, MG Siegler said: "Let's be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of all bombs on its rival, Microsoft."

Microsoft releases Windows 7 later this year to replace Windows Vista and Windows XP, which is eight years old.

The Redmond-based company claims that 96% of netbooks run Windows to date.

Out of beta

In a separate announcement Google also revealed that many of its most popular applications had finally moved out of trial, or beta, phase.

Gmail, for example, has worn the beta tag for five years.

"We realise this situation puzzles some people, particularly those who subscribe to the traditional definition of beta software as being not yet ready for prime time," wrote Matthew Glotzbach, the director of product management in the official Google blog.

The decision to ditch the beta tag was taken because the apps had finally reached the "high bar" mark, he wrote.

More than 1.75 million companies use Google apps, according to the firm.

news source: bbc

Posted on Wednesday 8th July 2009

Sahara gas pipeline gets go-ahead

Nigeria, Niger and Algeria have signed an agreement to build a multi-billion dollar pipeline to take Nigerian gas across the Sahara to the Mediterranean.

The giant project, which will cost an estimated $13bn (£8bn), aims to deliver up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas per year for the European market.

France's Total, Anglo-Dutch firm Shell, and Russia's Gazprom have all expressed an interest in investing in the scheme.

The pipeline will run for 2,580 miles (4,128km) through the three countries.

BBC Africa analyst Richard Hamilton says that when built, it will be one of the great feats of engineering in the world and dwarf several existing pipelines, such as the one beneath the North Sea.

He says one concern is security, as a pipeline could be a target for Tuareg rebels or al-Qaeda in North Africa, both of whom are active among the unpatrolled expanses and porous borders of the Sahara.

Russian concerns

Energy analysts say there has been interest in this project for many years, but lack of investment and an unclear regulatory environment in Nigeria meant that the plans stayed firmly on the drawing board.

 

European Union nations now hope it will enable them to diversify their gas supplies - and most pressingly, reduce their reliance upon Russian gas - but many analysts say Gazprom may have a head start in participating in the scheme.

This is because only last week, Gazprom signed a separate $2.5bn deal with Nigeria's state-owned gas firm NNPC to build new gas refineries, pipelines and power stations in Nigeria.

European Union states are keen to reduce their reliance upon Russian gas because of Gazprom's numerous price disputes in recent years with Ukraine.

These rows have seen Gazprom temporarily cut supplies to Ukraine, which in turn has reduced Russian gas deliveries to western Europe that are piped through Russia's neighbour.

"We have the expertise and I don't think there is a problem with finance in this project," said Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil.

Nigeria has estimated natural gas reserves of 180 trillion cubic feet, the seventh-largest in the world.

news source: bbc

Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2009

Wanted: jobs for Africa young people

African leaders are expressing a renewed sense of urgency about tackling unemployment among young people and are beginning to develop and implement plans to create jobs in the region. "In Africa, the problem of youth unemployment is more complex than in some other parts of the world," says Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

"Slow-growing economies are unable to generate enough job opportunities to absorb the large number of young people qualifying from institutions of learning every year," he told delegates to the Youth Employment Summit (YES) in Nairobi, Kenya, in September, organized by a network of non-profit organizations operating in 60 countries around the world.

"The evidence stares us in the face on the streets of our major cities," says Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who until recently was Nigeria's finance minister. "Young men and women [are] roaming the streets with little to do, operating motorcycle taxis . . . and in some cases engaging in criminal activities."

Reducing the world's rate of youth unemployment by half could add $2,200 bn - $3,500 bn to the global economy, estimates the International Labour Organization (ILO). About 20 per cent of that gain would go to sub-Saharan Africa. But in order to benefit, it is critical for African countries to come up with specific plans that target youth, says President Kibaki.

Most employment policies fail to take into account the particular needs of young people or the fact that creating employment for women often poses its own challenges. There is a realization in many countries that young people, both men and women, are at a disadvantage when they look for jobs. Even if they have had some schooling, many lack skills and job experience.

Those who want to set up their own businesses do not have money. In many companies, "last-in and first-out" hiring policies mean that young people are the first to lose their jobs when a company is in distress. Young people (between 15 and 24 years old) made up 63 per cent of the jobless in sub-Saharan Africa in 2003, even though they constituted just 33 per cent of the labour market.

Officially, unemployment in Africa averages 10 per cent, but most people realize that the figures are much higher. A review by Africa Renewal found that actual rates of unemployment exceed 40 per cent in some countries.

Time to act

A complex mix of factors contributes to unemployment in Africa. Stagnant or sluggish economies do not grow fast enough to produce jobs for a growing population. Development experts say that Africa's economy needs to grow by 7 per cent annually in order to cut in half by 2015 the percentage of people living in poverty, a target agreed upon by the international community. Instead it has grown from an annual rate of less than 3 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2005.

A number of long-term national policy options to deal with unemployment have been proposed - with limited results. In September 2004, leaders attending an African Union (AU) employment summit adopted a regional strategy, known as the Ouagadougou Plan of Action. The plan calls on countries to diversify their economies into labour-intensive industries, adopt laws that attract investors and create opportunities for women and young workers.

"The Plan of Action is a fine blueprint," says UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary Abdoulie Janneh. "But we must go beyond the planning stage," he told the annual conference of African ministers of finance, economic planning and development in Burkina Faso in May 2006. "More than ever, it is up to us to act on our words, embedding the Plan of Action into national development programmes."

The AU reports that some progress has been made. The 2004 summit led to a number of activities, says AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Maxwell Mkwezalamba. Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré declared youth employment his first national priority, Ghana set aside $110 mn in its 2006 budget for a National Youth Employment Programme and, with World Bank assistance, Ethiopia is designing labour market policies to make job creation a core element.

Mr. Mkwezalamba says Chad and Madagascar, among other countries, have prepared national employment plans, while Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has directed the labour ministry to identify sectors that could potentially hasten the creation of more than a million jobs annually.

Anti-poverty strategy

However, most countries have not yet incorporated job creation plans into their national development frameworks and anti-poverty programmes, commonly based on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). These are documents developed with assistance from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to set national priorities, direct spending of debt-relief funds and coordinate donor programmes.

"In view of their centrality in the development of low-income countries, PRSPs could be a major instrument for promoting youth employment," comments Mr. Makha Dado Sarr, a former deputy executive secretary of ECA. "PRSPs have become major development programmes of the countries concerned, since they presently constitute the basis of the assistance provided by international financial institutions" and by most other multinational and bilateral development partners.

The ECA and AU are leading a drive to encourage African countries to incorporate job plans into their PRSPs. In March 2006, ECA convened a PRSP review conference in Cairo, Egypt, which examined 21 poverty reduction strategies. It found that two-thirds now contain basic job-creation measures, a significant improvement over the first generation of PRSPs, which barely covered employment issues.

Some of these measures include plans to widen access to education, training and credit and to build infrastructure and attract investors. But, judged ECA, none of the 21 PRSPs "substantially and explicitly confronted employment issues and challenges." Most did not contain measurable goals or specific targets and time periods by which job plans would be carried out.

"In part, the weakness of the employment policy dimension of PRSPs probably reflects the relative absence of labour ministries and their social partners from the consultation processes for the drafting of the first papers," notes ILO. Larger questions, such as how to translate economic growth into jobs, are yet to be fully integrated into poverty reduction strategies, but "this is likely to change as PRSPs evolve."

news source: un

Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2009

Egypt revive their World Cup hopes

Six-times African champions Egypt have kept their World Cup hopes alive with a stirring victory over Rwanda in Cairo.

The Pharaohs beat the Amavubi 3-0 on Sunday night, with Mohammed Aboutrika scoring a brace.

Egypt desperately needed to win this match, after securing just one point from their previous two matches in Group C.

There was no sense of urgency by the Egypt side during a lacklustre first half.

After a stirring half-time talk from the Egypt coach, Hassan Shehata, the African champions showed their mettle as 2008 BBC African Footballer of the year Aboutrika opened the scoring.

Hosny Abdrabou made it 2-0 in the 76th minute when he scored from a penalty.

Deep into injury time, Aboutrika gave the fans something extra to cheer as he made the score 3-0.

Egypt now lie in second place in Group C with four points.

Their North African rivals Algeria top the group with seven.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 6th July 2009

Worst of the recession is over

The worst of the UK's recession is over, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) business group, but talk of a recovery is premature.

Its report, based on a survey of 5,600 companies, found there had been "welcome progress" in confidence levels between April and June.

Nurture confidence

The BCC said that, although its survey had found that manufacturing had seen greater improvement than services, the sector still remained in "a worse condition overall". It also warned that the increase in confidence was fragile.

Last week, the ONS sharply revised its GDP data for the UK, saying the economy shrank by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2009, compared with its earlier estimate of a contraction of 1.9%. With these heavy revisions, the BCC said it was far too early to say that recovery is secure.

It added that without continued focus on limiting the impact of the recession, there was still a risk that the economy could "drop off suddenly" and the UK could be heading towards a "W-shaped" recession.

"It is absolutely vital that the improvement in business confidence is nurtured," said BCC director general David Frost.

 

 

David Frost, British Chambers of Commerce: "A marked upturn in confidence"

"Our economy is based on confidence, and wealth-creating businesses need to know they will be given the freedom and flexibility to drive the UK out of recession and into a sustainable recovery."

He added that the proposed increase in National Insurance contributions in 2011 was a "tax on jobs" which should be scrapped.

He also called for banks to continue lending and said that businesses expect the government to sort out "the appalling state of the public finances".

Signs of recovery?

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has estimated that the UK economy resumed growth in April and May after a sharp decline of 1.9% in the three months to March.

Martin Weale, director of NIESR, has said that he expects the official figures to show "either that the recession is over or that it is close to over" in the second quarter of 2009.

And the CBI has predicted that the economy will see a return to growth of 0.7% next year.

The government has forecast the economy to grow by 1.25% in 2010.

news source: bbc

Posted on Monday 6th July 2009

Mourinho arrives in Nigeria

The Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho caused a major frenzy among Nigerian fans as he arrived in the country for a three-day visit.

Mourinho arrived in Lagos on Friday as a guest of the Kwara Football Academy (KFA).

Mourinho will be in the West African country from 3 - 5 July, as he seeks to encourage coaches and officials of the project run by the Kwara state government.

The fans turned up to greet the former Chelsea boss and the rest of the delegation despite the fact that he arrived two hours later than announced.

"It is a great landmark in the history of Nigerian football as well as the KFA," Nkechi Obi, CEO of Premium Sports Marketing Services told BBC Sport.

"He is here with other coaches and trainers to conduct seminars and coaching clinics for indigenous coaches.

"We are positive that his presence will benefit the talented players in the academy and hopefully attract interest from international clubs throughout the world.

"Football fans, media and everyone involved with football will enjoy photograph and autograph sessions with the 'Special One' on this trip."

The trip facilitated by DanJan Sports is widely seen as an opportunity to expose the Kwara Football Academy (KFA) to the rest of the world.

"The KFA epitomises what a perfect football academy truly is and Gestafute are happy to be associated with them," David Omigie of DanJan Sports explained.

"We have seen what the visit of Manchester United and Portsmouth gave to Nigeria as a country in the past.

"The coming of Mourinho and KFA will bring a lot of positive attention to football in the country once again.

Former Nigeria coach Clemence Westerhof is the director of the Kwara Football Academy which is in Ilorin, the capital of Nigeria's Kwara State.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Saturday 4th July 2009

Africa leaders edge towards unity

African Union (AU) members have agreed a plan to give its executive arm enhanced powers to co-ordinate common-interest policies, officials say.

But the African Authority will not be able to act internationally unless it has a mandate from heads of state.

The compromise on the draft came after hours of heated debate in a closed session in the Libyan town of Sirte.

Correspondents say its creation is regarded as a stepping stone towards a federal government for the continent.

This is of the ambition of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who wants a United States of Africa.

The African Authority proposal had been resisted by South Africa and Nigeria, among others, who objected to giving the body too much power.

It aims to simplify the AU's structure, allowing more control over diplomatic, trade and defence matters.

The African Authority will "represent the common interests of the member states of the union and speak in their name in international forums on international trade", Reuters news agency quoted the draft agreement as saying.

Sovereignty fears

The structure will create a president, a vice-president, and a secretary of peace and security and common defence. Other secretaries will replace the current union's commissioners.

 

But the BBC's Rana Jawad in Sirte says the powers of the Authority focus on co-ordination rather than unilateral implementation.

While it will co-ordinate key policies, it will only be able to act with the consent of members, rather than exercising power over them.

Benin's Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou said the final text "reflects everybody's position".

"The states are ready to cede a little bit a part of their sovereignty for the benefit of the [union]," he said.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, also the current AU chairman, had pushed hard for the grouping to be given wider regional and defence powers.

But supporters of Col Gaddafi's proposal faced opposition from the continent's largest economy, South Africa, and oil-producing nations like Angola and Nigeria.

They were concerned about losing sovereignty over their own defence and foreign policy issues.

One Libyan diplomat criticised the limits placed on the Authority by the final agreement.

"They have introduced the concept of a union government, but the Authority was not meant for that," he said.

"It was meant to be an inter-governmental organisation."

The changes to the AU have yet to be ratified by member states, who have also agreed to discuss the financing of the plan at a later date.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 3rd July 2009

Chelsea bring in keeper Turnbull

Chelsea have boosted their squad's goalkeeping strength by signing Middlesbrough keeper Ross Turnbull.

The 24-year-old has signed a four-year deal after joining on a free transfer.

Along with the 33-year-old Portuguese goalkeeper Hilario, Turnbull will act as an understudy to the club's first-choice keeper Petr Cech.

While Turnbull finalised his move to London, Hilario has signed a new two-year contract with the Blues, a deal that runs until 2011.

Turnbull made his debut for Boro in May 2006 in the 1-1 draw against Bolton, going on to make 29 appearances for the club.

During his time with Boro, Turnbull went out on loan to Darlington, Barnsley, Bradford, Crewe and Cardiff.

His chance to stake a claim for a regular place came after Mark Schwarzer's move to Fulham last summer, but Turnbull was eventually displaced by Brad Jones.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 2nd July 2009

Kader Keita on the move to Turkey

Ivory Coast striker Abdel Kader Keita has left Lyon for Turkish giants Galatasaray.

He moves for US$12m on a three-year contract.

He had been at Lyon since June 2007, when he moved to the then French champions from Lille in a $24m deal.

Keita played 72 games but did not settle at the club, and last season Lyon lost the league title after winning seven successive championships.

He is moving to join Frank Rijkaard at Galatasaray.

The former Barcelona coach has recently joined the Turkish side and is rebuilding the squad there.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 2nd July 2009

Venus and Serena through to final

Serena Williams will face sister Venus in Saturday's Wimbledon final after prevailing in a marathon tussle with Russian Elena Dementieva.

Second seed Serena saved a match point before coming through 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 8-6 in two hours and 48 minutes.

The match was the longest women's semi-final in recent Wimbledon history.

Venus's encounter with top seed Dinara Safina was in complete contrast, the defending champion completing an embarrassingly one-sided 6-1 6-0 win.

That match all but undid the good work of the first semi-final, a pulsating encounter which had provided a much-needed fillip for women's tennis.

One criticism directed at the women's game is that Safina has risen to the top of the women's rankings without winning a Grand Slam title.

That record remains after a miserable first appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals, the Russian completely outclassed by Venus in 51 minutes.

"This is my eighth final," Venus told BBC Sport.

 

Final spot 'dream come true' for Venus

"It's a dream come true to be here again and to have the opportunity to hold the plate up.

"Dinara is so talented and she's played so consistently in the last year. I went out there and was able to stay focused. I have so much experience on that court, it helps a lot."

Venus would have been forgiven for losing her focus after watching her younger sister come through a thrilling battle with Dementieva.

"It was so hard to watch that drama," she admitted. "But the hardest part is yet to come: to play Serena Williams."

The pair will meet on Saturday in their fourth Wimbledon final when Venus will seek her sixth title, and Serena her third.

The younger sister teetered on the brink of defeat against Dementieva, saving a match point at 5-4 in a tense third set with a brave volley.

 

Serena delighted to beat 'tough' Dementieva

"It was really, really tough," a relieved Williams told BBC Sport.

"Elena's been playing really well and she's beaten me a few times. We gave the crowd a wonderful match so it was great."

Asked what she thought at match point down, she replied: "I thought 'ace'. I thought if I can just stay calm and think positive..."

A packed Centre Court crowd were treated to an encounter featuring 72 winners and a series of dizzying baseline exchanges.

For Dementieva, though, it was a potentially crushing experience.

"The only regret I have is to take a little bit more risk on the match point," said the 27-year-old.

"For sure I feel disappointed because it was a very close match but I think the way I was playing is more important than the result. It was definitely my best match on grass."

The Russian, looking to reach her first Wimbledon final, held her nerve to come through the first-set tie-break, despite double-faulting on her first set point.

 

Dementieva rues match-point miss

However, when Dementieva's mental strength came under scrutiny in the second set, it failed her.

Williams broke to lead 6-5 but Dementieva had four opportunities to level the set, the last a relatively simple backhand which she managed to put wide.

The Russian's response was to crouch with her head in her hands, and Williams compounded her misery by clinching the set with an ace.

Dementieva still refused to crumble, while Williams' renowned fighting qualities came to the fore in an absorbing deciding set.

At 5-4, Williams faced a match point, and missed her first serve, but the American boldly ventured to the net, her forehand volley brushing the top of the net before landing in the open court.

606: DEBATE Safina needs to hand in the the number one position herself; this is just not acceptable anymore KidCharlemage

Dementieva had more chances at 6-5, twice pegging Williams back to deuce, but the world number two clinched it with a forehand passing shot which had her screaming towards her support camp and punching the air in delight - and, no doubt, relief.

That proved to be the turning point.

Williams broke in the next game, and reached the final for the fifth time when Dementieva was forced wide.

Centre Court was half-empty as Venus and Safina entered the arena, the crowd taking a break after the drama of the first semi-final.

Many may not have returned in time to catch a glimpse of five-times champion Venus, who made just one unforced error in a near-flawless display.

Safina lost the first eight points and won only eight points in total in the second set.

"She's just too good on grass," said the Russian.

"It's not my favourite surface, and it's her favourite surface. I think she gave me a pretty good lesson today."

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 2nd July 2009

Ivory Coast go top in Africa

Ivory Coast have overtaken Cameroon as the top team in Africa, matching their highest ever position in the Fifa world rankings.

The Elephants are now 18th in the world, up 20 places on last month.

Elsewhere, African champions Egypt and World Cup hosts South Africa have both moved up two spots.

Ivory Coast's two wins in 2010 World Cup qualifying in the last month have helped them move into the number one position in Africa.

They were also aided by Cameroon's poor performance in the same campaign so far.

The Indomitable Lions suffered a disappointing draw with Morocco and are second in Africa and 29th in the world.

Good performances at the Confederations Cup have seen both Egypt and South Africa improve their rankings.

The Pharaohs may have dropped out of the tournament at the group stage but their win over the reigning world champions Italy gave them plenty of points - they are now 38th in the world and 6th in Africa.

South Africa have moved into 70th position after strong losing performances against Spain and Brazil.

Gabon are also big climbers this month - going up to third in the African rankings and 30th overall, thanks to their big win over Togo in 2010 qualifying.

Sierra Leone are the biggest fallers - dropping 40 places to 125th in the world.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2009

Ronaldo completes 80million pounds Real move

Cristiano Ronaldo has completed his world record £80m move from Manchester United to Real Madrid after agreeing a six-year deal.

United, who accepted Real's offer for the winger on 11 June, have confirmed the move has been finalised and he will be presented to the fans on Monday.

The £80m fee for the 24-year-old has been paid in full.

"Everyone here wishes him well in his future career," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the club's website.

A statement on Real's website read: "The player will be tied to Real Madrid for the next six seasons. He will be presented on 6 July at the Santiago Bernabeu."

Ferguson paid tribute to a player whose goals have played a large part in bringing three successive titles to Old Trafford.

606: DEBATE What do you think about the length of Ronaldo's deal with Real?

"Cristiano has been a marvellous player for Manchester United," he said.

"His six years at Old Trafford have seen him develop into the best footballer in the world."

"His contribution has been a major factor in the club's success in that time and his talent, his ability to entertain and his infectious personality have enthralled fans the world over."

Ronaldo was on holiday in the United States at the time the offer was made by Real on 10 June.

During that time, United stated that the decision came at the Portugal international's request after he "again expressed his desire to leave".

The addition of Ronaldo to the Real ranks is part of a remarkable spending spree by the Spanish giants since Florentino Perez returned as club president on 1 June.

He brought in Brazil playmaker Kaka for a then world record £56m, Ronaldo was then lined up for £80m before centre-back Raul Albiol was signed from Valencia for £12m, to bring Real's total summer spend, so far, to £148m.

Perez appointed Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini as Real's new coach and had previously made it clear he would do "everything possible" to sign Ronaldo.

Reports have suggested that the midfielder will earn about £11m per year, which will make him the highest paid footballer in the world. He was on about £6.38m at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo spent six years at Old Trafford

The current top earner in the world is understood to be Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is on about £10m per year.

Despite the vast outgoings, Real have also been linked with Liverpool's Xabi Alonso, Valencia's David Villa and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery.

Ronaldo joined United in 2003 from Sporting Lisbon for £12.2m but was strongly linked with a move to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2008.

United lodged a complaint with world governing body Fifa in June 2008 over what they believed was a deliberate attempt by Real to unsettle the player.

After a long, drawn-out saga that ran through the summer months, Ronaldo insisted he was happy at Old Trafford and remained at United for the 2008-2009 campaign.

But despite Ronaldo's claim that he wanted to remain at Old Trafford, he was the subject of constant speculation last season and often issued mixed messages about his future.

It took time for Ronaldo to find his best form after arriving in England but he became a pivotal player for United, who have won the last three Premier League titles.

In 2007-08, he scored 42 goals, which topped the previous club record for a midfielder held by George Best and was on the scoresheet as United defeated Chelsea in the Champions League final.

His form through 2008 resulted in him being named Fifa World Player of the Year in January - only a month after he won the Ballon d'Or as the European Player of the Year.

Ronaldo was the top scorer for his club last season, with 26 goals, taking his total for United to 118 in 292 appearances.

 news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2009

Man City still keen to land Eto'o

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes still wants to sign Samuel Eto'o, despite Barcelona offering the £25m-rated Cameroon striker a new contract.

Barcelona had initially told the 28-year-old he did not figure in their plans for next season.

Hughes said: "There appears to be a situation between the player and his club that we cannot be part of.

"We have to sit back and see what develops. Patience is a word that has been mentioned - we may need some."

Eto'o, who has been at the Nou Camp since 2004, can leave on a free transfer next summer, and agent Josep Maria Mesalles said it is only fair that they let the player know where he figures in their future plans.

 

Hughes prepared to wait for Eto'o

"The player wants to stay and complete the last year of his contract - if Barca don't want him they should say so, so we can pursue the player's future in a professional manner," he said.

"The club said coach Pep Guardiola did not want him. Guardiola has not told the player he is not required."

"If they have a serious offer from Manchester City, and if they want to continue with this negotiation we could be interested.

"We haven't spoken to City but if Barca have reached an agreement it shouldn't be that difficult to reach a deal."

The Spanish club's president Joan Laporta claimed City have made Eto'o a "stratospheric offer" to join them.

Reports have suggested the Eastlands club have told Eto'o he could earn wages of up to £250,000 per week, which would make him the highest-paid player in the world.

Eto'o cost Barcelona £16m when he signed from Mallorca in 2004 and has since scored more than 100 goals in his five seasons with the club.

He helped the Catalan side win a treble trophy haul of the Spanish league title, domestic cup and Champions League in the 2008-2009 campaign.

Eto'o scored the opening goal in the Champions League final in Rome as Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0.

In doing so he became only the second player, after Raul, to score in two Champions League finals because Eto'o was also on target in Barcelona's 2-1 victory against Arsenal in 2006.

Already this summer City have signed striker Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn for £18m and Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry for £12m.

Carlos Tevez has also been linked with a move to Eastlands following the end of his loan spell at Manchester United but Hughes refused to be drawn over the possibility of adding the Argentine to his squad.

"I am a huge admirer of Carlos," he said. "Everyone is aware of his situation and we are interested, as we are in all top quality players. We will have to see what happens but these are very early days."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_city/8129076.stm

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2009

Real Madrid close in on Benzema

Real Madrid have agreed a deal to sign striker Karim Benzema from Lyon, according to the French club.

The fee is believed to £30m for the 21-year-old France international and could rise to £35m.

Benzema had also been linked with Manchester United but now looks set for a switch to the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid have already signed forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka as well as defender Raul Albiol for a combined £148m so far this summer.

Former France and Real Madrid great Zinedine Zidane, who is now a senior advisor at the Spanish club, is believed to have recommended Benzema to club president Florentino Perez after negotiations to sign David Villa from Valencia broke down.

"Lyon announce they have reached an agreement with Real Madrid on the details of the transfer of their international attacker Karim Benzema," said a statement on the French side's website.

 

"A few days ago Karim Benzema informed the club president Jean Michel Aulas of his desire to move to the Madrid club, which had always been his favourite club after Lyon, earlier than he had foreseen.

"The player wanted to seize the opportunity which Real Madrid offered him to be one of the major elements in their new ambitious project based around the greatest players of the world.

"Lyon accepted Karim Benzema's decision and negotiated the conditions of a transfer which satisfies all the different parties.

"The club wishes Karim the greatest success with Real Madrid."

Benzema joined Lyon's youth academy at the age of nine and progressed through club's ranks before making his first-team debut when 17.

He scored 31 goals in 51 games during the 2007-08 season to finish top scorer in Ligue 1.

Benzema scored 23 goals in all competitions last season but could not prevent Lyon ending the season without league title for the first time in eight years.

The striker is now expected to sign a six-year contract when he completes his move top Real Madrid.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 1st July 2009

Spain 3-2 South Africa

Spain secured victory over hosts South Africa in the Confederations Cup third-place play-off courtesy of a Xabi Alonso extra-time free-kick.

South African substitute Katlego Mphela opened the scoring in the second half, lashing in a Siphiwe Tshabalala cross.

Two goals in two minutes from Daniel Guiza seemed to have won it for Spain until Mphela crashed home an injury-time free-kick to force extra-time.

Alonso curled in a set-piece in the second period of extra-time to win it.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Sunday 28th June 2009

USA 2-3 Brazil

Brazil denied the USA another shock victory by coming back from two goals down to win the Confederations Cup.

A Clint Dempsey flick and a Landon Donovan goal on the counter put the USA into a surprise 2-0 first half lead.

Luis Fabiano pulled one back for Brazil before Kaka was denied an equaliser when his header was wrongly decreed not to have crossed the line.

Luis Fabiano's headed second levelled matters before, five minutes from time, Lucio nodded in a corner to win it.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Sunday 28th June 2009

President Obama's visit to boost economic growth- Information Minister for Ghana

Cape Coast, June 27, GNA - The Minister of Information, Mrs Zita Okaikoi on Friday called on Ghanaians, especially residents of Cape Coast to do away with their differences and unite for the visit of the US President, Barrack Obama.

She reiterated that Ghana is privileged to have the first Black-American President visiting, stressing that the event would have a long term impact on the country and the region in particular.Mrs Okaikoi made the call, when she visited Cape Coast to ascertain preparations for the visit of the President, slated for July.

She said the visit of the US President, would go a long way to boost the tourism industry and the economy in general, adding that Mr Obama is expected to make a major policy statement on Africa.Mrs Okaikoi asked players in the tourist industry to endeavour to improve upon their services to attract more tourists and investors to the country, adding "we cannot compromise on quality."She called on the people to keep their surroundings clean.Mrs Okaikoi said a number of committees were in place to prepare for the visit.

The minister also visited the various media houses in Cape Coast including the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Information Services Department, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Yes FM, and Coastal Television, a community television station.She commended staff of the GNA for their hard work, despite working with obsolete equipment and poor working conditions.Mrs Okaikoi expressed concern that the agency, which is supposed to feed other media houses with news items, had only one computer and currently had to depend on other organisations to have their news transmitted to Accra.

At Radio Central, a GBC FM station, the minister, urged the staff to work hard and be dedicated to their duties, adding that government is doing everything possible to provide the state-owned media with their needs to enable them to give of their best.She said for instance, before the end of the year, GBC Head office would be provided with the latest news studio to boost its news coverage, which would be duplicated in the regions.

Mrs Okaikoi said GBC was sitting on a "gold mine" and urged the management to make use of the facilities available and endeavour "to do away with waste and corrupt practices".She urged the media house to intensify public education on the visit of President Obama.

news source: modernghana.com

Posted on Saturday 27th June 2009

Brazil 1-0 South Africa

An 88th minute free-kick from Daniel Alves sent an unconvincing Brazil into the Confederations Cup final and left hosts South Africa heartbroken.

Alves came on late in the game and powered a strike into the far corner after Aaron Mokoena conceded the set piece with a foul on Ramirez.

Mokoena had earlier sent a far post header from close range over.

Steven Pienaar also came close for the hosts when his 25-yard shot was palmed wide by keeper Julio Cesar.

Brazil had struggled to produce their fluent passing game and, until the winner from Alves, gave South Africa the scent of creating a similar upset to the other semi-final which saw the United States beat Spain.

 

606: DEBATE What are your thoughts on the game?

A mixture of Brazil's own lethargy and South Africa's industry and passion saw the South American team fail to create any concerted pressure on the hosts.

When they did produce a threat, Ramirez had a shot easily saved while the forward's control let him down when Kaka tried to put him through.

South Africa should have punished Brazil for a lacklustre display but Mokoena put a free header over from six yards.

A Siphiwe Tshabalala left-foot free-kick was blocked by keeper Cesar before Brazil briefly raised themselves from their stupor to almost punish South Africa.

 

Mokoena should have done better than to put this header high

Andre Santos chested down a ball and his half-volley was saved, while Kaka cut inside and curled an 18-yard shot just wide.

South Africa midfielder Pienaar's energy and determination is vital to his side and he would have added the vital ingredient of goal if a full-stretch Cesar had not tipped his long range strike wide.

Cesar again saved his side when Teko Modise's deflected strike looked set to spin into goal only for the keeper to palm the effort wide.

The vuvuzela's were getting louder with each minute as the potential for a huge upset grew stronger as South Africa's work-rate stifled Brazil.

But Alves and Brazil had the final say as a display more of a battling nature than samba style booked the South American side's place in Sunday's final against the United States.

 

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos (Dani Alves 82), Silva, Felipe Melo, Ramires, Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano (Kleberson 90).Subs Not Used: Victor, Kleber, Elano, Miranda, Josue, Julio Baptista, Alexandre Pato, Nilmar, Gomes.

Booked: Felipe Melo, Andre Santos, Dani Alves.

Goals: Dani Alves 88.

South Africa: Khune, Gaxa, Booth, Mokoena, Masilela, Pienaar (Van Heerden 90), Dikgacoi, Mhlongo, Modise (Mashego 90), Tshabalala (Mphela 90), Parker.Subs Not Used: Fernandez, Davids, Mdledle, Fanteni, Moon, Khumalo, Gould, Baloyi.

Booked: Masilela.

Att: 60,000

Ref: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland).

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 25th June 2009

Ethiopia looks to revive past railway glories

A major project is under way to restore Ethiopia's 100-year-old imperial railway, and there are even plans to build a new national network.

The French built it for the Emperor Menelik in the early 1900s, and French influences are everywhere, from the glazed canopies of the Addis Ababa railway station to the startling sight of the Ethiopian station staff in Dire Dawa talking to each other in French as they dispatch a night goods train down the line to Djibouti.

Like so many rail systems, the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway was neglected for years in favour of road transport, but the loss of its main ports when Eritrea gained independence left Ethiopia totally dependent on Djibouti for an outlet to the sea.

The country needed the railway more than ever, but the line was in no fit state for intensive use.

The system is narrow, one metre gauge, with steep gradients on the long haul up from sea level to the Ethiopian highlands.

Some stretches of track are more than a century old; crumbling embankments and decaying bridges limit the weight and speed of the trains.

Recently it has been averaging one derailment a week, and attracting so little traffic that for a time staff frequently went unpaid.

But now, with European Union support, a major restoration project is under way.

Spectacular scenery

Almost a third of the track is being re-laid, using heavier weight rails - 40kg per metre instead of the 20kg rails still in use on some stretches of the line.

The section from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa has been closed while the work is going on.

 The railway to nowhere?

A spectacular stretch of line, near the town of Metahara, where the track runs on a narrow causeway across a volcanic lake, has already been completed.

Workers are strengthening bridges, consolidating embankments, and casting 25,000 concrete sleepers to replace the lightweight metal sleepers which were there before.

Meanwhile, a little desultory traffic still runs on the lower stretch of the line from Dire Dawa to Djibouti - a trainload of fruit and vegetables once a week for sale in Djibouti, coffee for export, trainloads of live camels destined for the meat markets of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

Coming the other way are all the construction materials needed for the project itself.

When the work is finished, in perhaps 18 months time, the system will still be narrow gauge, but much safer and more robust, able to take heavier trains at faster speeds.

'Pro-poor'

The railway's general manager, To'om Terie, who now sits in his comfortable office in Addis Ababa above a silent, deserted station, says he expects a volume of something like 10 trains a day and a comfortable operating profit.

Mr To'om, who has worked for the railway for more than 30 years, is happy about the prospects for his own railway, but excited too that national policy now officially embraces rail transport.

The government is starting to plan a completely new rail system, with a further 5,000 km (3,100 miles) of lines.

It is early days yet, and Ethiopia is still looking for partners to build such a network.

But the man in charge of the project, Getachew Betru, confirmed that this would be a standard gauge railway, electrified to take advantage of the abundant, cheap electricity expected to be produced by ambitious new hydro-electric schemes soon to come into operation.

It would be primarily designed to carry freight, and although the proposed routes are still confidential, it might - for instance - serve the coffee-producing areas of western Ethiopia, the light industries of the north, the commercial food producing areas south of Addis Ababa, and the fertile, but as yet undeveloped farmlands near the Sudan border.

Mr Getachew talks with enthusiasm about rail transport as the engine of development, and of his conviction that railways are inherently more "pro-poor" than any other transport system - of much more use to Ethiopia's rural dwellers than an expensive network of tarmac road, driven on mostly by tourists and aid workers.

At the moment the new network is still a dream, but given Ethiopia's dramatically-rugged terrain, if it does get built, then it will surely be one of the outstanding railway engineering feats of the 21st Century

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 25th June 2009

Medvedev seeks closer Africa links

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev leads a large trade delegation to Africa this week.

It is Mr Medvedev's first official visit to Africa, and the first by a Russian head of state for more than three years.

The president arrives in Egypt on Tuesday, and then goes on to Nigeria, Angola and Namibia.

The focus is on key Russian export strengths, especially energy resources and nuclear power.

His visit comes at a time when Russia is trying to strengthen its global, strategic role.

Gas and diamonds

President Medvedev heads for Africa aware that Russia is far behind Western and Chinese companies when it comes to securing a share of the continent's natural wealth.

In Egypt, which is Russia's top trading partner in Africa, Mr Medvedev will sign a deal on nuclear energy.

 

Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's atomic energy authority, is one of a delegation of several hundred Russian trade representatives and businessmen travelling with the president.

Russia and Egypt have already signed an accord on nuclear co-operation, possibly opening the way for Russia to construct nuclear power stations in the country.

President Medvedev then heads to Nigeria, where Russia's powerful gas giant, Gazprom, wants to secure contracts to build new gas pipelines.

In particular, Gazprom has its eyes on the proposed Trans-Saharan pipeline, which would deliver Nigerian gas to Europe.

Russia says it is willing to help Nigeria develop a civilian nuclear infrastructure. Some Nigerian commentators have suggested there is no need, however, given the country's huge oil and gas reserves.

Rosneft, the largest Russian oil company, whose chief is joining the delegation accompanying Mr Medvedev, has announced its intention to expand its African operations.

Namibia and Angola, the final two countries on Mr Medvedev's itinerary, present new opportunities for Russian corporations in the spheres of diamonds, metals, hydrocarbons and uranium.

Alrosa, Russia's state diamond corporation, has worked in Angola for almost two decades. It has stakes in two existing joint ventures, and wants to explore for diamonds and diversify its holdings in energy.

Russian companies have technical licences to prospect for uranium in Namibia, where, they say, energy, uranium reserves and tourism present potentially rich pickings.

The Namibia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation is overseeing the new business partnership.

Global role

The Soviet Union's ties with Africa were political and ideological.

 

The continent was a key battleground in the stand-off between East and West, the battles fought most often by proxy.

This explains why Russia's relations with Africa declined so quickly when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Now a newly assertive Russia is trying to bolster a global role, often in regions far from its own borders.

Just last week, Mr Medvedev chaired three international summits, including the first meeting of the leaders of the so-called Bric developing countries involving Brazil, Russia, India and China.

It is all part of what the Kremlin believes should be a truly global role for Russia, in keeping with what Moscow calls a multi-polar world, with several strong regional spheres of influence.

The political dimension of Mr Medvedev's trip has not been stressed by Moscow. Instead, Russian businessmen have accentuated the potential for making money.

They acknowledge just how far Russia has fallen behind the major investors in Africa, particularly China.

The volume of trade between Russia and the African countries remains paltry.

For example, the Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that trade with Nigeria is worth $300m annually - as opposed to China's $11bn.

Some Russian analysts have warned, however, that Moscow will find it difficult, or indeed impossible, to stop China's march across Africa.

But it is not all business for President Medvedev.

On the agenda are meetings with well-known African figures, including Namibia's founding father, Sam Nujoma, as well as a safari trip.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 25th June 2009

Gazprom seals $2.5bn Nigeria deal

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Analysts say the move could further strengthen Russia's role in supplying natural gas to Europe.

The agreement comes during a four-day African tour by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

As well as forming Nigaz, Russia is keen on developing a trans-African pipeline to transport Nigerian gas to Europe.

This could further reinforce Gazprom's already-strong influence over Europe's energy supplies.

'Commodity-rich'

"Russia has a number of goals [in Africa], one of which would be to take part in a growing competition for resources and markets on the continent - mainly with China," said Yaroslav Lissovolik, head economist with Deutsche Bank in Moscow.

Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, Russia's state-run civil nuclear energy agency, said the Nigaz deal would lay the foundations for building nuclear power reactors in Nigeria.

Nigeria has previously said it would like to develop a nuclear power plant to address its energy shortages.

Before visiting Nigeria, Mr Medvedev spent time in Egypt.

He is also visiting Namibia and Angola - which are rich in natural resources - during his trip, as he seeks to promote Russian business interests.

"Part of the agenda is to push Russia's credentials as a representative of commodity-rich developing countries with such forums as the G8 and the G20," said Ural Sib bank's chief strategist Chris Weafer said in a note to investors.

Chinese deal

Russia is not alone in seeking to secure energy deals overseas with commodity-rich nations.

Separately on Thursday, Chinese oil refiner Sinopec has made a $7.2bn bid to acquire oil exploration and producing firm Addax, which focuses on Africa and the Middle East.

If the deal is approved by regulators it would be the biggest foreign takeover by a Chinese firm.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 25th June 2009

Microsoft to partner Ghana in ICT development

Accra, June 17, GNA - The Ministry of Education and the US-based Microsoft Corporation, on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to build the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) capacity of teacher trainees in Ghana.The MOU will also enable Microsoft to develop a software to support teaching and learning in all schools.

The signing was in recognition of the importance of ICT in school development and teaching and learning. The MOU is a renewal of the 2004 agreement between the two entities, which resulted in the establishment of three Information Technology academies at the universities of Cape Coast, Education and Development Studies, The programme had led to the training of 300 teachers at all levels of basic education.

Dr Joseph Annan, Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, signed on behalf of the Ministry, whilst Mr Ali Faramawy, Vice President, Middle East and Africa of Microsoft Corporation, initialled on behalf of his organisationDr Annan said support for the development of ICT benchmarks for teachers and students was a challenge facing the country's educational sector.

He said the Ministry was committed to ensuring that all educational institutions used common licensed software to facilitate easy access to the software industry to impact on development.

Dr Annan called on Microsoft to consider developing a special ICT software package for the special needs of students in Ghana to enhance teaching and learning.GNA

news source: modernghana.com

Posted on Wednesday 24th June 2009

Google Jobs Africa

"Google is busy setting up a presence in Africa, building an adventurous team to embark on a Safari to tackle the worlds' second largest landmass. If you love adventure and making a difference, Google Africa is the place to be!"

- Joseph Mucheru, Office Lead, East Africa

With more than 900 million people living across 54 countries (including island nations), Africa is the second-largest and second-most-populous continent. In many African countries, there is immediate opportunity to build the next generation of web technology while also satisfying the growing thirst for global investment.

Africa boasts one of the fastest-growing demographics for young people, youth who are anxious to gain access to global resources and help develop new, locally relevant, cutting-edge technologies.

Google hopes to engage the well-educated, technically savvy student populace in Africa, as well as African academia more broadly. We seek to identify strategic, win-win initiatives that will help us to give African populations unprecedented access to cutting-edge web technologies.

There are many exciting opportunities at Google in Africa. You'll work on challenging initiatives, on your own schedule and in an environment that lets you be yourself. What we want to know is, what do you want to do?

Help us make a difference to the lives of millions of people!

Africa offices

Cairo

19 El Shahid Helmy El Masry St.Almaza Area - P.O. Box 150Heliopolis, CairoEgypt

Johannesburg

Bryanston, Johannesburg02021 South Africa

Nairobi

7th FloorPurshottam PlaceWestlands Road00800 WestlandsNairobiKenya

news source: google.com 

Posted on Wednesday 24th June 2009

Spain 0-2 USA

USA caused one of the biggest surprises in Confederations Cup history by beating European champions Spain to reach Sunday's final.

Jozy Altidore scored the opener when he turned his marker Joan Capdevila to fire in from 15 yards.

Fulham's Clint Dempsey doubled the lead in the second half when he converted Landon Donovan's pass from close range.

Tim Howard saved from Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas before USA's Michael Bradley saw red for a foul on Xavi.

Many would have predicted Spain to win this match with a lot to spare, judging by the ease with which they won their group games.

606: DEBATE How highly do you rate USA's victory?

But Vicente del Bosque's men had only faced New Zealand, Iraq and South Africa in the lead up, and with all respect to those teams, the Americans were always going to be a tougher proposition.

Time and time again in the first half, the USA managed to read Spain's trademark killer passes by sticking tight to potent forwards David Villa and Fernando Torres.

In fact, prior to USA's goal, Spain's best opportunity fell to Liverpool hot-shot Torres whose attempt at a volley from six yards was superbly scuppered by Watford's Jay DeMerit.

What was starkly apparent on the Free State Stadium pitch, was the superior athleticism of the Americans.

On occasions during the opening 45 minutes, they had as many people in their attacking third as they did in their own box.

They went close on a couple of occasions before taking the shock lead, with Charlie Davies sending his bicycle-kick two yards wide before Dempsey missed by the same margin with a low 20 yard drive.

The goal came as a result of a one-two between Carlos Bocanegra and club team-mate Dempsey who found well-built forward Altidore.

The Villarreal striker turned Capdevila far too easily before smacking his drive, which Iker Casillas only managed to get a weak hand to en route, into the back of the net.

Embarrassment was not in Spain's script, so they upped their game and came close to equalising just before the break when Howard was forced to save low with his feet after Torres sold Bocanegra the sweetest of dummies from six yards.

The pressure on the USA defence increased tenfold after the interval with Everton number one Howard forced to make quality saves from Fabregas, twice from long range, and Ramos, who rifled in an angled drive at the near post.

Despite using up masses of energy in defence, the USA made the most of their one and only break forward in the second half.

Donovan found himself free on the right, surged to the edge of the area before playing in a square ball that Ramos, oblivious to who was behind him, could only touch on to Dempsey who fired in from six yards.

Spain surged forward but could not find a way past the solid American defence.

Bradley, who exemplified his side's tenacity, was sent off for a late challenge on Xavi, but by that point the USA had all but cemented their place in the final.

But perhaps most significant was that they prevented Spain from setting a new world record of 36 matches without defeat.

 

Spain: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Capdevila, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Fabregas (Santi Cazorla 68), Alonso, Riera (Mata 78), Torres, Villa.Subs Not Used: Diego Lopez, Albiol, Arbeloa, Marchena, Pablo, Busquets, Silva, Llorente, Guiza, Reina.

Booked: Capdevila, Pique.

USA: Howard, DeMerit, Spector, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Clark, Dempsey (Bornstein 88), Davies (Feilhaber 69), Donovan, Bradley, Altidore (Casey 84).Subs Not Used: Guzan, Pearce, Califf, Wynne, Beasley, Kljestan, Adu, Torres, Robles.

Sent Off: Bradley (87).

Booked: Donovan, Altidore.

Goals: Altidore 27, Dempsey 74.

Att: 40,000

Ref: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 24th June 2009

Anglo shares jump on merger talk

Shares in mining group Anglo-American rose by almost 10% on Monday after it was approached by Swiss-based rival Xstrata about a possible merger.

Xstrata had said a union "of equals" between "these two world-class companies" was "highly compelling".

Anglo confirmed the approach but said nothing had been agreed.

Xstrata's shares were down by 4%, or 27.50p, at 653.50 pence. Meanwhile Anglo's shares slipped back from highs but were still 6% ahead at 1721 pence.

'Run for their money'

Industry observers suggest a merger would make sense because of the vast cost savings that could be made.

This would help compete against the Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, who have agreed a joint venture.

 

That deal was struck after Rio scrapped a planned tie-up with Chinalco, a state-controlled Chinese company.

Consolidation within the mining industry had "just ramped up a notch" following Xstrata's approach, said Manoj Ladwa, senior trader at ETX Capital in London.

Anglo and Xstrata both have coal mines and infrastructure in Australia and South Africa, while analysts say there was also potential for saving money in their copper mining operations.

Cost synergies of such a deal were likely to be about $700m (£426m) per year, added Mr Ladwa, saying "the creation of a mining powerhouse will give Rio Tinto and Billiton a run for their money".

The combined firm would be worth about £41bn based on their stock market value on Friday.

'Respond positively'

Mining firms have been hit by falling demand for metals amid the downturn.

 

They have also had problems raising cash because of the credit crunch, which last year led Xstrata to abandon its £5bn bid for its rival Lonmin.

And Anglo-American is cutting 19,000 jobs this year after a 29% fall in 2008 net earnings because of sliding demand for raw materials.

"A potential merger is at a very preliminary stage but we think Anglo's beleaguered management-board will respond positively and engage with Xstrata," said Kieran Daly, an analyst at Investec Securities, in a note to investors.

"We think a merger is much more likely than ever before."

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 23rd June 2009

Mobiles boost Africa climate data

Gaping gaps in weather and climate data across Africa may be filled by a partnership between humanitarian groups and mobile phone companies.

The project aims to deploy 5,000 automatic weather stations across the continent mounted on phone masts.

They will gather data on aspects of weather such as rainfall and wind, and send it to national weather agencies.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan says the project could help save lives of people on "the frontlines of climate change".

"The world's poorest are also the world's most vulnerable when it comes to the impact of climate change, and the least equipped to deal with its consequences," he said.

"Today you find cell phone towers in almost every part of Africa. We have never been able to establish weather monitoring on that scale, until now."

Mr Annan now serves as president of the Global Humanitarian Forum, which is formally launching the programme, named Weather Info for All, at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction meeting in Geneva.

Global conversation

More than 70% of Africans make a living from farming, and the vast majority of the continent's agriculture is rain-fed, making it highly vulnerable to variability in weather and climate.

Yet report after report has concluded that weather data - needed to make accurate projections of climate change - is in woefully short supply.

Africa has less than 200 weather stations meeting World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards. Europe, by comparison, has several thousand.

Mr Annan now devotes a lot of time to African science and technology issues

"We see the Weather Info for All initiative as a major pan-African effort to empower our 188 (nation) members to provide enhanced weather information and services," said Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general.

"For food production, almost every decision is linked to weather, climate and water parameters."

The success or failure of the initiative will largely hinge on the willingness of Africa's mobile phone companies to take part, according to Carl-Henric Svanberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, who conceived the project during conversations with Mr Annan and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chief Rajendra Pachauri.

"This initiative presents a unique opportunity to simultaneously help mitigate the impact of climate change for those most affected and to strengthen weather networks and systems across the continent," commented Mr Svanberg.

So far the project's pilot phase has seen 19 stations established around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Organisers acknowledge more funding will be needed to attain the final goal of 5,000 stations.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 18th June 2009

Blakk Rasta to Perform for Obama in Ghana

In the next few weeks Ghana will play host to America's first black President Barrack Hussein Obama. It will be recalled that during his campaign for the Democratic Party candidature ticket and his race for the president one of the Songs that ruled our airwaves was the song Barrack Obama by Radio resenter/Artistes, Blakk Rasta.

The song Barrack Obama was one of the most popular songs during the American electioneering. It became even more popular following Obama's victory.The song stole the headlines again during the period's preceding the 10th Ghana Music Awards Festival; this time not because of Barrack Obama but Because Blakk Rasta believed that the song had become so popular that it deserved a nomination for the Most popular Song of the Year besides the Reggea Song of the year it had been nominated for.

Eventually, the organisers disqualified Blakk Rasta and the song from competing for the Award claiming he had said deformatory things about the Award and members on the Award's committee. Prior to these events Blakk Rasta had also been rumoured to have been refused a Visa to the United States of America.

Amidst all the controversies surrounding the song Barrack Obama and the seemingly controversial nature of Blakk Rasta, the song recieved wide play in several countries other than Ghana. Some of the notable stations that played the song include the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Canal News Network (CNN).

In recent times the song has probably done well in terms of airplay than any other song to have come out of Ghana.http://www.pinnaclegh.com had a chat with Blakk Rasta on the 17th June, following rumours that he was going to perform when the American President visits Ghana.

The Artiste said all though he did not have a written confirmation of his performance, he had received verbal confirmation that he will be meeting the President of the United States of America and will also be performing.

He was however quick to add that for him only a written confirmation constituted a booking. He said he was in touch very several top officials from the Government and from the office of the President and Vice President.

He said he had recieved at least 17 calls in connection with his performance and was due to meet the Information Minister in the days coming.

There are others who feel that despite the songs popularity and the Artiste's public campaign and support for Obama, his song preached racism and corruption and thus should not be made to perform.Source: Richmond Adu-Poku - pinnaclegh.com

Posted on Thursday 18th June 2009

Tax cuts to boost Kenya broadband

Tax cuts and incentives have been announced in Kenya intended to boost broadband and mobile take-up as a new fibre optic cable is launched.

Kenya's Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta cut the 16% VAT on new phone handsets.

He also allowed internet providers to offset the cost of purchasing new fibre optic bandwidth for 20 years.

The first of three submarine cables connecting Mombasa port to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates has been inaugurated by the president.

Kenyans rely on slow and expensive satellite connections to the internet, but will not benefit from high-speed access until all three of The East African Marine Systems (Teams) cables are in place.

 

The project is a joint venture between the Kenyan government, Emirates Telecommunication Technology and a consortium of local investors.

It costs one Kenyan shilling (one cent) a minute to surf the net in internet cafes in the capital, Nairobi.

"It's not good, it's hanging and it keeps wasting time," a man in an internet cafe in the city told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"It's frustrating, I've spent more than 16 minutes instead of [my usual] 10 minutes," he said.

Correspondents say Mr Kenyatta's concession to Internet Service Providers is intended to cut the cost of bandwidth for consumers drastically.

The finance minister also wants to make it more affordable for people to buy mobile phones.

"Mobile telephones have become essential aspects of our daily communication and transaction system and I do hope the dealers in these products will pass this benefit to ordinary wananchi (people) by lowering prices," he said, the Daily Nation reports.

According to the paper, some 17.5m people own a mobile handset, a sharp rise from 200,000 in 2000.

But a 10% tax on airtime vouchers remains in place, so the calls themselves remain the same price.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 16th June 2009

Facebook Swahili version launched

The social-networking website Facebook has launched in Swahili, targeting more than 110m speakers of the language.

A group of Swahili scholars launched the new version with the permission of the California-based internet firm.

Facebook use has spread over the past five years in East and Central Africa, where most Swahili-speakers live.

Analysts say a Hausa version could be launched next in West Africa and Zulu for southern Africa. Facebook already exists in Afrikaans.

Symon Wanda, one of the project's initiators, said they wanted to launch a Swahili version to safeguard the future of the language.

"The youth, the future generation, if you look at the biggest percentage of users on Facebook, they are the youth," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"They can easily navigate through when it's maybe a language they understand, which makes it easier to use the Swahili than to use the English."

The BBC's Ruth Nesoba, in Nairobi, says the Swahili site has already been on trial for some time and word has spread quickly.

Facebook's Simon Wanda says they have been monitoring the take-up and says more than 60% of Facebook users in East Africa are already using the Swahili version.

The bulk of Swahili-speakers live in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, parts of the Horn of Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands.

Facebook already exists in some 50 language versions.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 16th June 2009

Will Africa join broadband revolution ?

A way may be emerging for East African countries to circumvent the mess in telecommunications in the region - and it is rising out of the sea.

From having no undersea cable links to the rest of the world, East Africa is now poised to have three.

As a result, many businesses are investing in finger-sized underwater fibre-optic cables that will open doors to the rest of the world.

It could not come too soon. Currently, many African countries rely heavily on satellite connections for internet and telephone calls.

Developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia embraced fibre-optic technology several years ago, and now boast over 500 cables. But the developing world is far behind; Bangladesh - with a population of over 150 million people - has three fibre-optic cables, while the whole of Africa has just 10.

Monopolised benefits

The privately funded Seacom cable - which is expected to be fully operational by June - will be the first to launch, followed by the East African Marine Cable System (EASSy) - which is being funded by the private-sector arm of the World Bank as well as by regional telecommunications companies.

It is expected to be ready in time for the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. See map of Africa's new fibre-optic cables

 

The third cable being laid is The East African Marine System (Teams).

It is being spearheaded by the Kenyan government as a response to the EASSy cable, and what it sees as terms in that project that are too favourable to South Africa.

All in all, these projects mean that within the next year the Kenyan port of Mombasa, among others on the east coast, will be well connected to economic hot-spots in the Middle East as well as South Africa, India and Europe.

But Africa has been here before.

South Africa is currently connected to Europe and Spain through a single fibre-optic cable, the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT-3/Safe), that runs up West Africa. But capacity here has been insufficient to offer fast broadband - in fact, it is 10 times slower than Seacom is supposed to offer.

Also, the ownership structure of the SAT-3/Safe cable has resulted in a few telecommunication companies monopolising its benefits - which keeps prices high and so out of reach of many.

While other cables are in the pipeline for West Africa, East Africa is a blank canvas.

Much like a rural town disconnected from a railway line, the region has never had intra-African or international cable connections before. As a result, it has been reliant on satellite connection.

Fibre-optic cables seem a much better proposition.

They are cheaper than satellites and transform signals into light, and so can transmit over long distances at high speeds.

This means not only that broadband will be much more easily available at a cheaper cost - bringing with it access to telephone services , film and audio downloads - but that online services such as mobile banking can grow.

In preparation for the launch of Seacom, major internet service providers in Kenya have already rolled out cables along the country's highways, which will link inland stations to the coastline cables.

Promises

So how much of a difference will this all make to the average consumer in Kenya?

While for the past several years it has been possible to use the internet to make long-distance telephone calls in Kenya, the costs and the speeds of connection have not met many people's expectations.

Kenyan entrepreneurs like Sammy Macharia - who owns an internet cafe in Nairobi - have high hopes that business-operating costs will come down once Seacom is working - potentially from $250 (£170) to $100 (£68) per month for an internet service provider subscription.

 

However Mr Macharia is concerned that the market is regulated by the "invisible hand" of the government.

"The prices might go down, but the industry is regulated by the government, which can easily determine the market prices," he says.

"They have promised cheaper bandwidth, so we are waiting."

Security is another concern. Experts warn that the project is prone to risks from even subtle changes in the light travelling through the fibre-optic cables - making them especially vulnerable to vandals.

"Systems security can no longer be about e-mail protection, network anti-malicious software and an odd denial of service protection," says Bernard Ajwang, a Kenyan expert based at the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.

And some analysts say that the three competing cables due to land shortly may actually create an over-supply of bandwidth in the East African market.

Very few Kenyan households even have an internet connection and not many own a personal computer - indeed, there are just three million internet users in the whole country, out of a total population of close on 40 million.

The statistics for the rest of Africa tell a similar story - of the 945 million people living on the continent, just 54 million use the internet.

For all the talk of opening up access to broadband, this could end up being one big white elephant.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 15th June 2009

Africa pioneers mobile bank push

Mobile financial services in the developing world could be worth $5bn by 2012, say analysts.

CGAP - a consortium that works to expand financial services in developing countries - said the growth in mobile coverage was helping to fuel growth.

More than one billion people in the developing world have access to a mobile phone, but no bank account.

In February 2009, Bill Gates pledged $12.5m (£8.6m) to help the world's poor access banking services.

 

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) said it thought the number of people with access to a mobile phone, but no bank account, would to rise to 1.7 billion in 2012.

It also expected more than one in five to use their mobile to access banking services, creating a market worth up to $5bn (£3.05bn).

"There's a lot of excitement, but very little understanding what's going on," said Mark Pickens, microfinance analyst at CGAP.

He said that mobile operators were ideally placed to launch mobile banking services in the developing world as banks were unlikely to put in the huge investment required to set up branches across a country.

"Customers have already purchased point of sale - it's in their pocket," he said.

One of Africa's first mobile banking system, M-Pesa, launched in Kenya in March 2007.

A network of more than 7,000 agents - mostly shopkeepers - was set up to take deposits and issue cash, with users authorising payments on their mobile phone using a Pin code.

That service has now expanded to include Tanzania and Afghanistan with plans to launch in India, Egypt and South Africa.

Safaricom, East Africa's biggest mobile operator, said it expected M-Pesa to generate a profit this year. Other firms, such as South Africa's MTN and Kuwait's Zain are piloting services similar to M-Pesa.

A similar service has also launched in the northern Somali region of Somaliland.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 15th June 2009

Are you up for the World Cup?

Thursday, 11 June marks exactly one year until the 2010 football World Cup kicks off in South Africa. How are you preparing for the big event?

Football fanatics across the globe are already making plans to follow their nation to the tournament next June.

For many in Africa, it will be their first and only chance to take part in one of the world's greatest sporting celebrations.

Thousands are already saving their cents to make the epic journey to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or one of the other venues to sample the festival atmosphere.

In South Africa itself, World Cup fever is building. Hotels are opening, stadiums are being completed and parties are being planned.

Are you gearing up for the World Cup? Will you be there, a year from today? Are you a South African, making preparations for the party of a lifetime? Or are you a football fan from elsewhere planning to make the trip? How is the atmosphere building where you live? Have you noticed any changes in your town or city?

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 10th June 2009

Barcelona confirm Eto'o offers

President of Spanish champions Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has confirmed the club have had several offers for Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o.

Laporta added that club officials would be meeting the player's agent this week to discuss his future.

The European champions have been linked with a bid for Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Eto'o possibly moving the other way as part of the deal.

Eto'o - currently on international duty - scored 30 league goals last season.

Laporta added that the treble winners are planning to sign three or four top players to strengthen the squad for next season.

"We anticipate signing three or four high-level names to occupy the positions that the technical staff think need reinforcing," Laporta said on Barcelona's website.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 8th June 2009

First new 2010 stadium opened

South Africa's first newly-built 2010 World Cup stadium officially opened on Sunday in Port Elizabeth a year before kick-off next June.

"For us today's first opening of a newly-built 2010 World Cup stadium is a huge boost," said local organising committee chief Danny Jordaan.

Eight 2010 games will be played at 48,000 seat Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

But the first game in the stadium will be a rugby match between the British and Irish Lions and the Southern Kings.

"It demonstrates the capacity of South Africa's construction industry and our commitment to deliver on all our 2010 Fifa World Cup promises," Jordaan added.

The Confederations Cup, seen as a test event for the World Cup, starts on Sunday at four refurbished stadiums in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Rustenburg.

The five additional new stadiums that will also be used in Africa's first World Cup were "shaping up nicely" to be ready ahead of 2010, Jordaan said.

news source: bbc.co.uk or bbc linkin

Posted on Monday 8th June 2009

Egypt thrashed in 2010 qualifier

Egypt face a struggle to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after an away defeat to Algeria leaves them stranded at the bottom of their group.

Cameroon are another Africa giant propping up their group after a goalless draw with Morocco.

But Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Ghana all won over the weekend to maintain their 100% starts to the final round of 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

 

Group A

 

Alain Giresse's side are dominating Group A with two victories so far

Gabon made it two wins out of two as they easily beat 10-man Togo 3-0 in Libreville.

Togo were a goal down after just 11 minutes with Bruno Ecuele scoring and the Hawks were a man down after 40 minutes following the dismissal of Thomas Dossevi.

Roguy Meye and Moise Brou Apanga scored in the second half to complete a comfortable win for Gabon.

In the group's other game, Cameroon could only draw 0-0 against Morocco in Yaounde on Sunday.

The Indomitable Lions have failed to score so far in the second phase of qualifying.

Cameroon wasted several good scoring chances against the Atlas Lions.

Gabon take control of Group A, they top the group with six points.

Togo are on three, thanks to their win over Cameroon last time out.

Morocco are also struggling in Group A.

They are in third with one point, ahead of the Indomitable Lions who are bottom also with one point.

The next matches take place in two weeks time when Morocco host Togo and Cameroon travel to Gabon.

 

Group B

 

Alaeddine Yahia scored from the penalty spot against Mozambique

Tunisia beat Mozambique 2-0 in Rades in their Group B encounter.

Lens defender Alaeddine Yahia scored from the penalty spot after 21 minutes.

Oussama Darragi, from Tunisian champions Esperance, was then on target for the Carthage Eagles with their second goal in injury time at the end of the match.

Victor Obinna Nsofor scored a brace as Nigeria beat Kenya 3-0 in Abuja.

Ikechukwu Uche took advantage of a defensive slip to open the scoring for the Supereagles in only the second minute of the game.

Kenya had several chances to get into the game, but failed to convert any of them.

Obinna Nsofor scored twice in the second half to ensure the Supereagles wrapped up a comfortable home victory.

Tunisia remain top of the group with six points, Nigeria are second with four.

Mozambique stay in third with a point, Kenya are last and are yet to earn any points.

Tunisia go head-to-head with Nigeria in two weeks time, while Mozambique travel to Kenya.

 

Group C

Mbesuma failed to increase Zambia's advantage from the penalty spot

Zambia edged past visitors Rwanda with a 1-0 win in Group C.

Rainford Kalaba headed home the only goal of the game in the 79th minute.

The margin of victory should have been larger for the Chipolopolo but Collins Mbesuma shot wide from the penalty spot late in the first half after Emmanuel Mbola was fouled.

The victory takes Zambia to four points, after they drew 1-1 with Egypt in the opening game of the final round of qualifiers.

Rwanda remain on just a single point from their two games.

Algeria shocked their North African rivals Egypt with a 3-1 triumph in Blida on Sunday.

Karim Matmour opened the scoring for the hosts in the 60th minute.

Goals from Abdelkader Ghezzal and Rafik Djebbour soon followed as the Desert Foxes opened a 3-0 lead over the six-times African champions.

Mohammed Aboutraika clawed one back from the visitors with three minutes to go, but it was nowhere near enough.

Algeria go top of the table with four points ahead of Zambia.

Egypt lie bottom, below Rwanda, with a solitary point.

The Pharoahs will hope to restore a semblance of hope to their 2010 World Cup campaign when they host Rwanda in a fortnight.

Algeria meanwhile travel to Zambia.

 

Group D

 

Razak Omotoyossi hit their target for Benin's victory over Sudan

Benin were narrow 1-0 victors over Sudan in Cotonou.

Razak Omotoyossi's strike after 19 minutes proved to be the difference between the sides.

In the group's other tie, Ghana secured a 2-0 away victory over Mali.

Kwadwo Asamoah and Matthew Amoah were scorers of the two second half goals.

The Black Stars go back on top of Group D with six points, while Benin lie in second place with three points.

Sudan and Mali have one point each.

Next up for group leaders Ghana is a trip to Sudan, while Mali host Benin.

 

Group E

Moumouni Dagano was again on target for Burkina Faso in the 2010 qualifiers

Burkina Faso kept up their 100% start to the final round of qualifiers with a 1-0 win over hosts Malawi.

Moumouni Dagano, who plays in Qatar, grabbed the only goal of the game in the 70th minute with a well-taken close-range volley past stranded goalkeeper, Swadik Sanudi.

It was Dagano's 10th goal in the World Cup campaign so far making him the top scorer on the continent for the 2010 qualifiers.

Malawi failed to create any clear chances while the Stallions played a better, more organised game and in the end were worthy winners.

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri blamed the loss on lack of thorough preparation.

"I always say we need strength-testing matches by real teams but we only played against Rwanda last week," he said.

"If we have to advance we need to prepare thoroughly."

The result gives the Stallions a maximum six points while Malawi are still to get their first point or even score their first goal.

Ivory Coast also made it two wins out of two when they beat Guinea 2-1 in Conakry.

Bakary Kone opened the scoring for the Elephants on the stroke of half time.

Sambegou Bangoura struck an equaliser for the home side halfway through the second half.

But Romaric scored what proved to be the winner seven minutes later and Ivory Coast top Group E with six points on goal difference.

Burkina Faso lie in second and the group's top two teams will face each other in Ouagadougou in a fortnight.

Guinea and Malawi prop up the group.

Both are yet to win a point.

That could change when Malawi travels to Conakry for the next round of matches.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 8th June 2009

Vodafone creates 7,000 jobs in nine months

Vodafone Ghana (VF) has created more than 7,000 jobs within its sales and distribution system since August last year and projected a rise in its customer base to five million by the end of the next fiscal year.

 "The number also represents contract staff, distributors and direct vendors throughout the country," Mr Amon Jere, Head, Sales and Distribution at Vodafone Ghana has said.

The company has also projected a 200 per cent increase in revenue over current figures. Mr. Jere admitted that the projections were "ambitious but achievable. " "The fact is, we have achieved similar targets in other countries using a similar transformational module, we are optimistic that we can achieve same in Ghana.

It is not the first time."He admitted that the industry­ dynamics was "very competitive" but stressed that it is Vodafone's nature to be in the frontline and lead in the industry, "and this we do with our people, distributors and customers service delivery." Asked if the figures he mentioned were possible to reach, Amon noted that, "the job here is highly performance-driven and we have high performers and achievers to reach that goal." Amon said the sales department though new, has a core of tough and experienced staff that have what it takes to effect the needed turnaround required.

He explained that Vodafone has recruited 14 distributing companies spread across the country. He expressed satisfaction at the output of the team so far stressing that it was important to know that the strategy being adopted is new to Ghana and, "that the terrain was one which was most congenial for the kind of end result we are looking for." Amon also noted that a new strategy that would boost capacity base for further recruitment programmes that will ensure that those being recruited are fully integrated into the Vodafone strategy long before they become full time staff.

When contacted on the recruitment exercise for her comments, Mrs. Stella Appiah ­Nkansah, Chief Officer, Human Resource Management said "We are in the business of recruiting fresh and goal-driven staff to meet the new business direction of the company." She said the company has so far employed 207 permanent staff and still recruiting.

On the issue of the recent Exit Package, she had this say, "We gave our staff the opportunity to decide for themselves to either continue working for Vodafone or move onto other ventures and businesses.

Handsome packages were put on offer and 860 persons decided to move on to other jobs or into retirement." She said new people have been recruited and are still being recruited to fill vacant roles and positions. "We are currently encouraging employees to use their initiative, while running a number of customer care and training workshops to keep pace with customer relations and management requirements.

Since Augl,lst 2008 almost 2,000 staff members have been trained and many are being re-trained both locally and· in other Vodafone establishments across the world.

news source: modernghana.com

Posted on Sunday 7th June 2009

Zuma promises half a million jobs

New South African President Jacob Zuma has promised to create half a million jobs this year in his first state of the nation address.

He said fighting poverty was his priority, a week after South Africa officially announced it was facing its worst recession in 17 years.

"We must act now to minimise the impact of this downturn on those most vulnerable," he said in Cape Town.

But he also told parliament the government had to spend wisely.

Mandela cheers

The BBC's Karen Allen in Cape Town says Mr Zuma, in power for less than a month, has had to perform a delicate balancing act to appease his unions allies, currently staging strike action, and avoid scaring off investors.

 

Karen Allen, BBC News, Cape Town In vintage Zuma style, the new president sought to be all things to all people.

By delivering some of his speech in Afrikaans, he adopted an inclusive posture - very different to former President Thabo Mbeki who spoke in English, and whose critics dubbed him "aloof" and "out of touch with the common man".

Jacob Zuma has been more vague than his predecessor Mbeki - who during his time as president set out clear goals, objectives and targets as part of his south African vision. Jacob Zuma may have sought to build bridges with poorer south africans - some of whom who feel neglected - but he has yet to demonstrate that he is capable of facing up to the hard choices that lie ahead.Zuma speech: Your comments

 

"Between now and December 2009, we plan to create about 500,000 job opportunities," he told MPs.

He promised his government would create a further four million jobs by 2014, but did not explain how.

Mr Zuma also:

  • announced an annual national holiday, Mandela Day, on 18 July, prompting cheers from the audience and a wave from the watching anti-apartheid icon himself
  • promised to deliver "the best World Cup ever" when South Africa hosts the football tournament in June 2010
  • promised to provide anti-retroviral HIV drugs for 80% of those in need by 2011, as part of efforts to halve the rate of new HIV infections within that period
  • stuck by pledges to cut violent crime by between 7%-10% a year (in a country where 50 people are killed every day)

Mr Zuma, whose African National Congress Party (ANC) swept into power in April elections on the back of strong support from unions and the poor, cautioned against expectations of a quick fix to the financial slump.

"The economic downturn will affect the pace at which our country is able to address the social and economic challenges it faces. But it will not alter the direction of our development," he said.

 

Ninety-year-old Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela was in the audience

Fifteen years after the end of apartheid, about 40% of South Africans live in poverty - more than half of that number surviving on less than one dollar a day, according to government data.

Its economy shrunk by 6.4% during the first quarter of this year and almost one in four South Africans is unemployed.

Mr Zuma said a three-year 787bn rand ($98bn; £60bn) spending programme announced in this year's budget - and including funds for schools, transport, housing and sanitation - must be properly planned.

"In the face of the economic downturn, we will have to act prudently - no wastage, no rollovers of funds - every cent must be spent wisely and fruitfully," he said.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 5th June 2009

2010 World Cup tables

The 5 group winners go through to join the world's best at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The top three in each group will go to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

GROUP A

  P W D L GF GA Pts Gabon 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 Togo 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 Morocco 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 Cameroon 1 0 0 1 0 1 0

28/03/09 Morocco 1-2 Gabon 28/03/09 Togo 1-0 Cameroon

06/06/09 Cameroon v Morocco 06/06/09 Gabon v Togo

20/06/09 Morocco v Togo 20/06/09 Gabon v Cameroon

05/09/09 Togo v Morocco 05/09/09 Cameroon v Gabon

10/10/09 Gabon v Morocco 10/10/09 Cameroon v Togo

14/11/09 Togo v Gabon 14/11/09 Morocco v Cameroon

GROUP B

 

P W D L GF GA Pts Tunisia 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 Mozambique 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 Nigeria 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 Kenya 1 0 0 1 1 2 0

28/03/09 Kenya 1-2 Tunisia 28/03/09 Mozambique 0-0 Nigeria

06/06/09 Tunisia v Mozambique 06/06/09 Nigeria v Kenya

20/06/09 Kenya v Mozambique 20/06/09 Tunisia v Nigeria

05/09/09 Mozambique v Kenya 05/09/09 Nigeria v Tunisia

10/10/09 Tunisia v Kenya 10/10/09 Nigeria v Mozambique

14/11/09 Mozambique v Tunisia 14/11/09 Kenya v Nigeria

GROUP C

P W D L GF GA Pts Egypt 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 Zambia 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 Algeria 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 Rwanda 1 0 1 0 0 0 1

28/03/09 Rwanda 0-0 Algeria 28/03/09 Egypt 1-1 Zambia

06/06/09 Zambia v Rwanda 06/06/09 Algeria v Egypt

05/07/09 Egypt v Rwanda 20/06/09 Zambia v Algeria

05/09/09 Rwanda v Egypt 05/09/09 Algeria v Zambia

10/10/09 Zambia v Egypt 10/10/09 Algeria v Rwanda

14/11/09 Rwanda v Zambia 14/11/09 Egypt v Algeria

GROUP D

 

P W D L GF GA Pts Ghana 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 Mali 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 Sudan 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 Benin 1 0 0 1 0 1 0

28/03/09 Sudan 1-1 Mali 28/03/09 Ghana 1-0 Benin

06/06/09 Mali v Ghana 06/06/09 Benin v Sudan

20/06/09 Mali v Benin 20/06/09 Sudan v Ghana

05/09/09 Ghana v Sudan 05/09/09 Benin v Mali

10/10/09 Mali v Sudan 10/10/09 Benin v Ghana

14/11/09 Ghana v Mali 14/11/09 Sudan v Benin

GROUP E

 

P W D L GF GA Pts Ivory Coast 1 1 0 0 5 0 3 B Faso 1 1 0 0 4 2 3 Guinea 1 0 0 1 2 4 0 Malawi 1 0 0 1 0 5 0

28/03/09 Burkina Faso 4-2 Guinea 28/03/09 Ivory Coast 5-0 Malawi

06/06/09 Guinea v Ivory Coast 06/06/09 Malawi v Burkina Faso

20/06/09 Burkina Faso v Ivory Coast 20/06/09 Guinea v Malawi

05/09/09 Malawiv Guinea 05/09/09 Ivory Coast v Burkina Faso

10/10/09 Guinea v Burkina Faso 10/10/09 Malawi v Ivory Coast

14/11/09 Ivory Coast v Guinea 14/11/09 Burkina Faso v Malawi

new source: bbc.com

Posted on Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Jacob Zuma promises 500,000 jobs as recession hits South Africa

South Africa's president opened his first state of the nation address, having been sworn in as president last month, by saying the global economy was in "a period of crisis".

Gross domestic product slumped by an annualised 6.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, it emerged last week,

 Mr Zuma said: "Its effects are now being clearly seen in our economy.

"We have entered a recession. We must act now to minimise the impact of this downturn on those most vulnerable."

Having been elected with the support of Left-wingers and on the back of a raft of promises to improve the lot of ordinary South Africans, many of whom remain deeply poor 15 years after the end of apartheid, Mr Zuma is already facing demands to deliver on his pledges.

He spoke as his predecessors Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki looked on.

South Africa already has a major £60 billion infrastructure investment programme in place, and he said it would be fast-tracked to create 500,000 jobs by the end of the year, and four million by 2014.

Mr Zuma also promised better health services and education along with measures to combat corruption and crime, urging South Africans not to buy stolen goods.

But the economic downturn is inevitably reducing government revenues just as the task facing it is becoming more urgent, and Mr Zuma did not give any details on how his programmes would be paid for.

One television commentator said: "I want to live in the South Africa Jacob Zuma describes, but I'm still not sure how we're getting there."

Athol Trollip, the leader in parliament of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said there was "very real concern that this government will not be able to properly finance its programme of action and that, among other things, our budget deficit will grow significantly".

He said: "His speech lacked detail and specificity and failed to properly identify how many of these well-meaning but generic sentiments would be realised in practical terms."

Mr Trollip added that it was "marked by a very particular and distinct ideological shift towards a socialist agenda".

new source: telegraph.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Ancelotti leaves job at AC Milan

Carlo Ancelotti took a step closer to becoming Chelsea's new manager after he announced his contract at AC Milan has been terminated by mutual consent.

But the Italian, who guided Milan to third in Serie A, said a move to Stamford Bridge has yet to be agreed.

He said: "I have agreed to leave Milan. The decision was by mutual consent. But a move to London is not certain yet."

Milan announced technical director Leonardo will replace Ancelotti as manager for next season.

Ancelotti signed off his eight-year reign at the San Siro with a 2-0 away victory over Fiorentina, a result which secures automatic qualification for next season's Champions League group stages.

Although he refused to confirm his future with Chelsea, the 49-year-old did say he will not be joining another club in Italy.

"In agreement with the club, we have decided to bring forward the expiry of my contract," he said. "This beautiful adventure at Milan is over.

"I can't say anything else official. I have not made any agreement with any other club. I am certainly not staying in Italy."

He will always be welcome back at Chelsea as a friend, and in any other football capacity Chelsea statement on Guus Hiddink

Milan's England midfielder David Beckham paid tribute to the departing coach.

"With Carlo Ancelotti leaving AC Milan, it is the end of an era, the end of some extraordinary years," Beckham said on the club's website. "But wherever he goes, they will be a fortunate club to have him as their coach."

Brazil star Kaka also thanked Ancelotti for the impact he has had on his own career.

The 2007 World Footballer of the Year said: "He is a person I have a very strong bond with thanks to these six years that I have spent here with him as my coach at Milan.

"I am grateful for what he has done for me and for what he has taught me.

"He gave me the opportunity to be known as a footballer across the world and I have won a lot with him. I wish him all the best in everything."

Although not explicitly naming him, Ancelotti hinted he would love to sign Kaka for whichever club he ends up at next.

"There is one player I would like to take, but I cannot take him with me," he said.

Chelsea have been searching for a replacement for Guus Hiddink, who is returning to his full-time role with Russia.

The Dutchman, who guided the west London club to victory in the FA Cup final on Saturday, was drafted in when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked in February, but resisted the clamour to remain in charge next season.

"Guus Hiddink has done a fantastic job as temporary first team coach," read a Chelsea statement.

"Winning the FA Cup was a fitting tribute to his management and coaching skills, and a perfect send-off for him.

"He will always be welcome back at Chelsea as a friend, and in any other football capacity."

Ancelotti, who had been the longest-serving manager in Italy's top flight, having joined the Rossoneri from Juventus in 2001, has previously confirmed he has been learning English.

He previously refused to rule out the possibility of taking the reins at Stamford Bridge, despite reaffirming his commitment to the Serie A giants.

Ancelotti, speaking before the 3-2 defeat by Roma on 24 May, had said: "It's 100% certain I will still be at Milan next year."

MIHIR BOSE BLOG Chelsea are focused on making Ancelotti their next boss Mihir Bose - BBC sports editor

But he added: "I am open to anything. It's obvious I would say yes if you ask me if I would love to coach Chelsea."

And in his autobiography, 'Preferisco La Coppa' (I Prefer The Cup), which was released in Italy on Tuesday, Ancelotti describes two meetings he claims to have held with Blues owner Roman Abramovich last year in Geneva and Paris.

Ancelotti told the Russian about two players he thought would help turn Chelsea into the attractive, winning side Abramovich craves.

"President, your team is very physical, you have to put more quality in the middle of the pitch," Ancelotti claims to have told Abramovich.

"I gave him two names, (Bayern Munich winger) Franck Ribery and (Liverpool midfielder) Xabi Alonso."

Chelsea have refused to comment on the claims in Ancelotti's book.

Leonardo will be officially named as Milan's new coach on Monday.

The 39-year-old former Brazil international was appointed as the club's technical director in 2008.

news source: bbc.com

Posted on Sunday 31st May 2009

Barca were better side - Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson graciously admitted his Manchester United side simply lost to a better team after Barcelona won the Champions League final.

Defending champions United lost 2-0 in Rome and were outplayed for much of the night by the Spanish champions.

"We didn't play as well as we can but you have to give Barcelona credit," said the United manager.

"Lionel Messi wasn't the problem, Xavi and Andres Iniesta kept the ball all night and made it difficult for us."

Ferguson, who has led United to two previous Champions League triumphs, added: "We started brightly and confidently and could have been in front in the first 10 minutes but the goal was a killer.

 

Barcelona were the better team - Ferguson

"We didn't plan to lose a goal as early as that. We didn't deal with it well enough, it gave them the opportunity to keep possession.

"We knew what a good football team they were. We had difficulty in defending against them. Messi dropped into midfield and they kept possession and made it difficult for us.

"The disappointment was the use of the ball when we got possession. You have to wait minutes to get it back off them. Could be it was an off night. Could be it was a mountain too big to climb.

"But we've done well, it's been a long season, we've had 66 games and you've got to give the players credit for their courage and resilience. Next season we'll be better.

"The better team won and there's nothing we can do about that now."

Ferguson also explained his decision to bring on striker Carlos Tevez for the ineffective Anderson at half-time.

"I brought on Tevez simply because I took the gamble of playing two through the middle," revealed the Scot, whose side clinched their 18th English top-flight title this season.

FOOTBALL BLOG United will regroup... but Barcelona are the best team in Europe. And, on this compelling evidence, by some distance Phil McNulty

"Ryan Giggs, in the first half, provided something and some parts of his game were good but what we needed was someone to be there all the time but they defended quite well.

"We had plenty of time and we had some half-chances, which we maybe should have done better with.

"It was a disappointing performance and some individuals will feel it themselves. It's very difficult to put a finger on every part of the game."

Ferguson also conceded United missed the protective presence of Darren Fletcher in midfield - the Scot was suspended after being harshly sent off against Arsenal in the semi-final.

"He is one big-game player," said Ferguson. "It was a loss but they had losses also and it is difficult to measure how big a loss it was."

On Guardiola, who has guided Barcelona to a treble trophy haul of the Spanish league title, domestic cup and Champions League, Ferguson added: "It is a great achievement as a coach in his first year. Well done. Fantastic. Everybody enjoys their football and it is great credit to him."

 

We controlled the game - Guardiola

Centre-back Rio Ferdinand agreed with Ferguson that the Catalan giants were the better side, saying United did not "play well individually or collectively".

Ferdinand commented: "You've got to give credit to Barcelona, they played well. We needed to play our best football and we didn't produce it.

"The first goal was a sucker punch, we'd had some good chances. They were two soft goals and we could have done better leading up to them and I could have done better with my positioning but we've got no excuses, they were a better team."

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar conceded Samuel Eto'o's 10th-minute goal gave Barcelona the confidence to retain the ball and dictate the tempo of the match.

"We have come from behind plenty of times before, so the goal itself was not an issue," said the Dutchman.

"But what it did was to allow them to start playing a little bit. In situations like that you have to try and keep possession but at times I felt we lost it a little bit too easily."

United winger Cristiano Ronaldo described the defeat as "one of the biggest disappointments of my career".

 

Everything went wrong - Ronaldo

"We were always confident before the game but unfortunately we couldn't do it," said the Portugal international. "It is always bad when you lose a final but we didn't play well.

"We did OK in the first 10 minutes but you have to say Barcelona deserved to win."

Striker Wayne Rooney was equally distressed at United's first European Cup final defeat, adding that Iniesta was the key to Barcelona's victory.

"Barcelona scored two good goals and, unfortunately for us, they came at good times," said the Englishman. "That made it very difficult for us.

"Barcelona are a brilliant team. Andres Iniesta is the best player in the world in my opinion. If you don't take your chances against them, they will punish you and that is what has happened.

"It is very disappointing and the feeling at the moment is not a good one. We are hurting but we have to forget it and look forward to next season."

They turned up and played some great football - we didn't really Ryan Giggs

United captain Ryan Giggs thought his side "probably had more chances than Barcelona" but that their rivals were well worth the victory.

"At times Barcelona can make you look silly because they keep the ball so well," said the veteran midfielder, who was playing in his third Champions League final.

"At times we maybe chased it and didn't keep our shape as well as we should have but, still, we created chances - and probably more chances than Barcelona.

"We said whoever turned up on the night would win and that proved to be the case. They turned up and played some great football - we didn't really.

"I think if we had gone a goal ahead, we're capable of keeping the ball like they are but credit to them, they deserved it."

news source: bbc.com

Posted on Thursday 28th May 2009

Accra Mayor urges staff to eschew negative attitudes

Accra, May 28, GNA - Dr Alfred Nii Okoe Vanderpuije, Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), on Thursday chided staff of the Assembly for their negative attitudes that had brought the name of the Assembly into disrepute."The attitudes of some of our staff members to their assignments and responsibilities leave much to be desired. Some of us fall prey to temptations and thereby compromise our positions for personal gains and considerations," he said.

Addressing his first meeting with staff of the AMA, he bemoaned instances where people in the Metropolis erected illegal structures and broke the byelaws of the Assembly in connivance with some staff of the Assembly.

He noted that the challenges plaguing the Assembly were enormous and urged all the staff to come on board to find solutions to them.

Dr Vanderpuije attributed the unsanitary condition in the Metropolis to the erection of unauthorized structures and some unacceptable human activities and the failure on the part of the Assembly to perform its expected duties.

The Mayor appealed to the staff to work to make Accra play the frontline role in the modernization of capital cities.

He called on the staff to avoid financial misconduct, indiscipline and malingering in order to give the city of Accra a new face.In an open forum, the staff appealed for higher salary, a website for the Assembly, the political will to rid the city of hawkers and the holding of frequent staff durbars.

new source: modernghana.com

Posted on Thursday 28th May 2009

From Wall Street to Accra

Last year Nnaana Adjei, 23, was working for a major investment bank on Wall Street.

Now she's selling washing powder around the streets of Accra from a van owned by her father.

Having been to college and worked in the US, Ms Adjei has rejected the traditional path of many young, ambitious Africans and returned to work at home.

Ms Adjei is typical of a new wave of Ghanaians who are returning home from the recession-blighted streets of the West to what they see as a new dawn in their home country.

Shopping malls

At first, the contrast between working in New York and Accra could not be more stark.

Instead of working in a large air conditioned office, Ms Adjei now works from a van that blares out an advert for her company's products on the sweltering streets of Ghana's capital.

"I wanted to come back and share what I have learned and also be part of the exciting things that are happening here," Ms Adjei says.

And with the opening of a huge new shopping mall in the city, full of designer clothes shops, Accra does not seem that different from the US.

"When I came back on vacation I found that I could get everything I bought regularly in New York just as easily here in Accra," she says.

Hugh Pym looks at the story behind West Africa's largest shopping mall

Record breaking stock market

Ms Adjei's story is typical of a generation of young Africans who have been both pushed by the recession in the developed world and pulled by the potential in the developing world.

 

My ambition is to create a world class Ghanaian Bank, run by Ghanain professionals Edward Effash, Fidelity Bank Timeline: Ghana

Unlike many world economies, Ghana's has held up relatively well, despite the turbulence of the global recession.

The Ghana stock market was up more than 58% last year while the market in London was down 31.3% and the Dow Jones index of leading US shares was down 34%.

The country has also recently found large reserves of offshore oil, reinforcing the conviction of many young Ghanaians that the country is set for strong growth.

Growing banks

"My ambition is to create a world class Ghanaian Bank, run by Ghanaian professionals," says Edward Effah, a sharply dressed banker in the financial district of Accra.

After a long career in the city of London, Mr Effah returned home to start Fidelity bank in 2006.

With its bustling branches and promises to provide a wide range of consumer credit, it could not feel further away from banks in the rest of the world.

The past year has seen a financial crisis that started in the US spread to all parts of the globe.

But Mr Effah believes that the simplicity of the African banking system has insulated it from the full impact of the credit crisis.

"I think that what we can show the rest of the world is that traditional, old fashioned ideas in banking are the best," he says.

Mr Effah is also proud of the fact that banks such as his are actually pioneering new ways for customers to deal with their bank.

Fidelity is introducing technology that will allow its customers to use their mobile phones to check their bank balances and eventually pay for goods.

Bumps in the road

Despite the peaceful recent election and all the enthusiasm for growth in the country, Ghana still has some big economic obstacles to hurdle.

Economic growth could make life easier for Ghana's next generation.

The government is dealing with a fiscal deficit of 14% of GDP and inflation is running at 18%.

The country is also heavily dependent on the amount of money sent back by Ghanaians working abroad.

While the flow of cash back has held up so far, there are fears that unemployment in other parts of the world may harm this vital source of money.

Financiers and farmers

On a rural farm north of the country's second city, Kumasi, a group of British investors are looking at the potential for growth in the country.

The trip has been organised by the charity Concern Universal and is being led by Richard Harvey, the former chief executive of insurance company, Aviva.

In the sweltering heat, they are learning how cocoa farmers have benefitted from foreign investment in the form of technical and financial support.

It seems a long way from the shopping malls and Mercedes Benz dealerships of Accra and demonstrates the disparity in wealth in different parts of the country.

According to MaDuff Phiri, the head of Concern Universal in Ghana, it is essential that foreign support gets to all part of the country.

"Great progress has been made here, especially in the south of the country," he says. "But there are still big pockets of poverty in the North and so there's much work still to be done."

Potential to tap

As the group of UK investors head off in their convoy of mud-splattered 4x4s, they leave with a feeling that there is a bright future ahead for Ghana.

"What's struck me about Ghana is the entrepreneurial approach of people here," says Caroline Silver, vice chairman of investment banking at Merrill Lynch Bank of America.

"And having escaped the worst of the credit crunch, I think there's a real opportunity for the country."

And while foreign aid may still be necessary to keep many parts of the country functioning, some investors believe that countries such as Ghana could eventually contribute strongly to world growth.

"The economies of Asia, the Middle East and Africa will come out of the recession faster than the rest of the world," says John Paynter, a non-executive director at Standard Chartered bank.

"Therefore I think it's crucial that people start concentrating on countries like Ghana as conditions improve."

"Proud to be part of it"

Back at the mall, the unloading of the huge sacks of washing powder is coming to an end and Ms Adjei is reflecting on her decision to move back.

"I thought that it was the right time to come back and be part of the success of Ghana," she says.

It's exactly this sort of belief and enthusiasm that gives people such belief about the future of Ghana.

new source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 20th May 2009

African viewpoint: Nigerian legends

In the first of a series of weekly viewpoints from African journalists, Sola Odunfa considers living legends and sleeping presidents in a letter from Lagos:

If you were requested to name the five greatest living legends in your country, who would be your choice?

This is the task given to Nigerians in a contest jointly organised by a national newspaper and a radio and television company, both based in Lagos.

The votes are still being counted but the preliminary result is interesting.

 

Footballer Nwankwo Kanu is trailing in second place

If the trend continues Nigeria's greatest living legend, by overwhelming popular choice in this competition, will be a Pentecostal church leader.

The choice may not be as surprising as it seems, given that Nigerians are flocking to God in huge numbers to seek succour from the very harsh economic realities of the times.

In a country where the major evidence of government is the siren which shoos people off the road to make way for officials' bullet-proof Jeeps, the only hope for survival by the common man lies in Pentecostal churches which promise instant miracles for prosperity and for healing from diseases.

Traditional institutions like the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have long lost out in the contest for patronage by the jobless and hungry young generation.

Today Christian miracle preaching is the shortest path to wealth in Nigeria.

It is therefore no surprise that the pastor has become the most visible and, arguably, the most flamboyant person in the public eye.

'Humility and devotion'

And most of them make no pretences about their lifestyle or morality.

 

VANGUARD'S LIVING LEGENDS Chinua Achebe Writer King Sunny Ade Musician Enoch Adeboye Pastor Dora Akunyili Minister of Information Chief Emeka Anyaoku Former Commonwealth Secretary General David Dafinone Accountant Aliko Dangote Industrialist Philip Emeagwali Computer scientist Anthony Enahoro Democracy activist Gani Fawehinmi Human rights lawyer Yakubu Gowon Former military head of state Nwankwo Kanu Footballer Balarabe Musa Politician Olusegun Obasanjo Former president Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Biafran leader Anthony Okogie Cardinal of Mt Carmel of Mostacciano Hakeem Olajuwon Basketballer Wole Soyinka Nobel Laureate Pat Utomi Economist Akintola Williams Accountant

A bishop in one Pentecostal church is awaiting the hangman at Lagos prison on conviction for killing a stubborn female member of his flock; another has been exposed for faking healing miracles in Nigeria and in South Africa, where he has a branch; yet another founder/pastor is embroiled in a battle with jealous Ghanaians who want to seize control of his money-spinning branch in their country.

However, the "Greatest Living Legend" chosen by readers of Vanguard newspapers and audiences of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM radio is not like the other men of the cloth mentioned here.

He is noted for humility and devotion.

Despite its wealth, his Redeemed Christian Church of God bought for him a jet aircraft to ease his travels in the cause of evangelism only recently.

In a field of 20 nominees - which includes Nobel Laureate and rights activist Wole Soyinka, famed computer scientist Phillip Emeagwali, Super Eagles and Portsmouth of England premiership football star Nwankwo Kanu, dollar billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote and two former heads of state - Pastor Enoch Adeboye has so far drawn more than a third of all votes cast.

The closest person to him is Kanu, but he trails far behind, followed by Mr Soyinka.

Endless vigils

Before shouts of "halleluia!" start ringing out though, some Nigerians may need to be convinced that the votes were not contrived by nudging members of the church to vote en bloc for their leader.

 

The black market is thriving as never before

But with their shepherd's seeming popularity rating, the Redeemed flock can now afford to ignore public protests when they block one of Nigeria's arterial highways during their monthly night vigil.

Who is travelling now, anyway?

For the past two weeks Nigeria has been in the grip of a serious fuel scarcity.

We are told it is because of a dispute over pricing between the government and major oil marketers.

There are more cars keeping endless vigils at filling stations than speeding on roads.

The black market is thriving as never before.

Artisans who operate small generators to keep their businesses afloat have closed shop because the public power supply has collapsed.

More and more Nigerians are convincing themselves that the president has gone to sleep. So, to the pastors they rush for respite!

 

If you would like to comment on this column, send us your views using the form below.

The views posted reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

I am not a member of his Pentecostal church and did not cast any vote but I think Pastor Enoch Adeboye deserve to be the or among the three greatest living legends in Nigeria. I watch and listen to his programs and will testify that he has touched and saved so many souls through his messages. I am telling you the truth, if not for divine messages from pastors like him (Not the abracadabra miracle pastors) many Nigerians would have gone to the beyond as a result of high blood pressure and heart attack resulting from joblessness, imposition of political office holders against the wish of the masses, looting of public funds by those we are looking up to. Have you heard, they no longer loot millions again rather billions or in foreign currency dollars, pounds and euros. Erratic power supply, the list so much. I did not mention the fuel scarcity monster. In fact let me go see where I can get PMS or fuel for my generator.Uzoma Nkem Nwachkwu, Abuja Nigeria

I agree 100% with your last paragraph. It Sums it all about Nigeria MR.PRESIDENT HAS GONE TO SLEEP or better still, was never awake.Its the clear truth. ThanksVictor, Lagos

Is Sola Odunfa a man that believes in God, or just trying to do is job? I think the people of Nigeria has the right to vote for whom they think is a real Legend. And i believe they made the right choice by voting a Man of God. We Africans should change our attitude for each others, instead of always finding excuses to our pathetic and molested economy.Ishmaila Bangura, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I agree totally with the votes so far cast. Baba Adeboye deserve No:1. He is the Moses of our generation helping to lead Nigerans out of a depression that would have caused millions to commit suicide. Other spiritual leaders and motivational speakers who have helped keep up the spirit of Nigerians to have courage also deserve commendation.Odusote Oluwakayode Adeleke, Abuja, Nigeria

A man of God indeed. The fact of the matter is that most SELF ANOINTED Pastors in Nigeria are no better than the incompetent politicians they cry about. Religion is important but many Nigerians deceive themselves in thinking that God will some how suddenly say "let there be light and prosperity in Nigeria" and like 1 2 3 everything becomes great. What errant nonsens!!!! The real heroes are unsung Nigerian men and women home and abroad who give themselves selflessly to help fellow Nigerians. Governor Fahsola of Lagos is also a living legend. The Pentecostal cancer in Nigeria needs to be eradicated in my view.Nigeria will get better one day.Simon stevens, Asaba,Nigeria

I have to agree with the last comment; while I do contend that religion is wrong, I am very uneasy with the rise of pentecostalism in Nigeria which seems to have made people blind and numb to the real problem. Instead of holding the government to task for poor economic management, children are abused and abandoned because they are the 'witches' and 'wizards' in the way of their parent's prosperity. Instead of voicing discontent against governmental largess, we look for the devil in common man. And instead of helping ourselves, we wait for God to do every thing while we spend our lives and energy in church screaming "there shall be miracles! holy ghost fire." This in stark contrast to active protests of the labor movement, makes it evident that political apathy only perpetuates tyranny. In short, to recompose Karl Marx's assertion: pentecostalism is the opium of the people!Adedayo Bolaji-Adio, Washington DC, USA

My question is if Nigerians don't turn to God who then should they turn to? I did not cast a vote and sincerely speaking the five greatest legends is a waste of time and resources just like the ongoing "rebranding". The image of our nation can only be improved if the "rebranding" starts in our homes. Where parents instill lasting values such as honesty, love, dignity of labour and above all the fear of God in their homes. On Pastor Adeboye, I do not go to Redeem but I believe I know enough to say he is a man of God who really is not interested in wether he is Nigeria's top living legend or not. The orientation and general attitude to life of each Nigerian is what needs to be changed.Enitan Beckley, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian legends are the common man who has endure mismanagements, maladministration, corruption and economic Tsunami that has plagued Nigeria since independence.Adekunle Adeniran, Dallas, TX

I agree with Simon Stevens writing in from Asaba. The real legends in Nigeria today are those millions who on a daily basis carry out their duties without fail. I will like to mention one traffic warden in Ikeja, along Mobolaji Bank-Anthony way by Toyin street junction. Come rain or shine, he stands at hhis duty post. Even after losing his entire family in a fire outbreak, he still continued to mount his duty post. That man,to me is a legend. We should stop glorifying public figures with enough money to manipulate the media. Let us celebrate the REAL legends. Patrick Thorpe, Lagos, Nigeria

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 19th May 2009

Vodacom is listed despite protest

South Africa's largest mobile phone firm, Vodacom, has made its debut on the Johannesburg stock market.

It came a day after a court threw out an attempt by trade union federation Cosatu to block the listing.

The shares opened at 59.50 rand each ($6.90; £4.51) and climbed to 63.10 rand, before dropping back to 59.30.

The listing is part of a wider deal that increases UK firm Vodafone's stake in the company from 50% to 65%, at a cost of 22.5bn rand (£1.4bn; $2.1bn).

Vodafone bought the 15% stake from government-controlled Telkom, which has now offered the remaining 35% of its shares to investors.

Half of the Telkom shares on the market are being freely traded and the other portion is being held by fund managers.

Political symbol

The BBC's Karen Allen in Johannesburg says the Vodacom sell-off had become a symbol of the political challenges faced by President Jacob Zuma, whose allies in the trade unions and the Communist Party had opposed the deal.

Cosatu had objected to a foreign firm taking a majority stake in one of the country's biggest companies and had argued that jobs would be at risk.

But after just two weeks in power and with a new finance minister at the helm, Mr Zuma is eager not to frighten off international investors, our correspondent says.

Vodacom runs mobile networks in five African countries.

Russell Loubser of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) said it was a "highly respected company" for investors to add to their portfolios.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 18th May 2009

Zuma elected South African leader

The leader of South Africa's African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has been officially elected the country's president by members of parliament.

He will be inaugurated on Saturday. The ANC won the general election in South Africa two weeks ago.

Mr Zuma's government is expected to focus on the faltering economy, fighting crime, poverty and HIV/Aids.

He faced corruption charges, dropped on a technicality just before the polls. He always denied any wrongdoing.

Pro-poor populist

Mr Zuma, 67, was challenged in the vote by Mvume Dandala of the opposition Congress of the People (Cope), which broke away from the ANC last year.

Mr Zuma received 277 votes compared to 47 for Mr Dandala.

South Africa's fourth democratic parliament, seated in Cape Town, began by swearing in 400 MPs when it convened for the first time on Wednesday.

The BBC's Mohammed Allie in Cape Town says the MPs then elected the speaker and deputy speaker before voting for Mr Zuma.

Tens of thousands of people and some 5,000 dignitaries are expected on Saturday to attend what is considered to be the main event: Mr Zuma's inauguration in Pretoria. His new cabinet will be announced by Sunday.

Mr Zuma won over voters on a pro-poor populist ticket and the ANC gained 264 seats in parliament.

But the party which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994 fell just short of its previous two-thirds majority, which had enabled it to pass constitutional changes.

It lost ground to the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, which has swelled to 67 seats and Cope (third place with 30 seats).

Our correspondent says former President Thabo Mbeki was criticised for not spending enough time in parliament but many analysts believe Mr Zuma will have a different approach.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 6th May 2009

Zombie computers 'on the rise'

 

20,000 plus new samples of malware are detected every day, say experts

Twelve million computers have been hijacked by cyber-criminals and detected by security vendor McAfee since January, the firm has said.

It reports there has been a 50% increase in the number of detected so-called "zombie" computers since 2008.

The true number of newly hijacked PCs is likely to be higher than those detected by McAfee alone.

The figures come as a report from Deloitte said a global approach to cyber-security was needed.

"Doing nothing is not an option," said Deloitte's Greg Pellegrino.

Everything that depended on cyberspace face unprecedented risks, said Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT).

"This issue is moving so quickly, and with so much at stake economically and in terms of safety and security for people, we don't have 100 years to figure this out," explained Mr Pellegrino, who is a global public sector industry leader at DTT.

McAfee also revealed that the United States now hosted the world's largest percentage of infected computers at 18% with China a not too distant second with just over 13%.

"The massive expansion of these botnets provides cyber-criminals with the infrastructure they need to flood the web with malware," said Jeff Green, senior vice-president of McAfee.

"Essentially, this is cyber-crime enablement."

"Daily living"

The DTT findings revealed a growing awareness of the role the internet plays in so many different aspects of our lives from security to commerce and from transportation to communication.

Better cyber-security measures will benefit global commerce, says the report

"We are seeing this change from protecting the internet to a conversation about how we succeed and prosper in cyberspace," Mr Pellegrino told the BBC.

"Security spending is growing at a rate never seen before while the threat environment is growing at a pace of 40% a year.

"In terms of volume and severity of incidents, the math doesn't work and we have to come up with a different approach that requires public and private sectors working together," Mr Pellegrino said.

"We are talking about daily living," said fellow author Gary McAlum, who is a retired US Air Force colonel and senior manager of security and privacy services at Deloitte.

"There is a lot of discussion about the economy and the military and the public and private sector, but we have now reached a sense of urgency about the interconnectedness of all these areas."

That view was echoed by a member of the US military top brass who just gave evidence to a branch of the House Armed Services Committee.

"Our economy, the nation's critical infrastructure, and many of our military operations depend on unfettered access to cyberspace," said Lt Gen Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) who also heads the Pentagon's new Cyber Command.

"Maintaining freedom of action in cyberspace in the 21st Century is as inherent to US interests as freedom of the seas was in the 19th Century, and access to air and space in the 20th Century."

He has called for the creation of a digital warfare force for the future and has stated that the US needs to reorganise its offensive and defensive cyber-operations.

Prominence

The Deloitte study included interviews conducted with government officials and industry experts from around the world.

While it revealed a patchwork approach to the problem it also showed it was one that was gaining prominence.

There are 32,000 suspected cyber-attacks every 24 hours, says the NSA

"We were very pleased that there was a similar tone and awareness and leadership effort coming from different countries across the world," Mr Pellegrino said.

"Clearly this particular issue has a different context depending on where you are in the world. We cannot afford to go backwards."

In America, President Obama has made the issue of cyber-security a priority. Shortly after taking office he ordered a 60-day review that has now been delivered to his desk.

It is understood the release of the review has been delayed by the ongoing H1N1 swine flu crisis. When the report is made public, it is expected that the president will also announce his choice for cyber-security tsar to lead the charge.

While the Deloitte research said security in Asia-Pacific needed to "catch up" it noted that the United Kingdom was in the process of writing a national cyber strategy with an emphasis on public-private partnership.

On the continent, the European Commission has urged member states to co-ordinate on cyber-security measures, while in Latin America the report authors conclude that there is a "diversity of approaches".

Canada has completed its own cyber-security review and this year will be implementing the National Cyber-Security Strategy as well as creating a new Directorate of Cyber-Security with a mandate to engage closely with the private sector.

Despite all these efforts, the Deloitte authors point out that time is of the essence.

"Not only do we have to take action, we don't have enough time," warned Mr Pellegrino.

Mr McAlum agreed and said mapping a clear strategy was crucial.

"We need to get our house in order first so that we can interact with the rest of the world with one voice, with clear roles and responsibilities aligned."

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 6th May 2009

Robot to create Facebook profile

The Ibn Sina robot will soon get a Facebook profile page

Facebook could soon be helping bridge the divide between humans and robots.

Researchers are giving a robot its own Facebook profile page to help foster meaningful relationships with people.

The page will be populated with interactions the robot has with people as well as photos of the time it spends in human company.

Its creators hope that embedding it in a social web will give rise to a sustainable friendship can grow up between man and machine.

Ancient scholar

The coupling of robot and social network is the idea of Dr Nikolaus Mavridis and co-researchers as they look into ways of overcoming the reluctance of people to stay in touch with robots.

While robots that can engage people have been produced before now, research suggests that humans lose interest at most a few weeks after being introduced as the behavioural repertoire of the machine is exhausted.

In a paper on the pre-print website Archive.org server, the researchers say they want to find out if this can be thwarted by giving humans and robots a pool of shared memories and if they are part of the same social circle of friends.

The platform for exploring the problem is a robot that can recognise faces created by Dr Mavridis and colleagues from the Interactive Robots and Media Lab (IRML) at the University of the United Arab Emirates plus co-workers in Germany and Greece

The prototype is based around a PeopleBot machine from ActivRobots to which they have added a range finder, touch screen and stereo camera. The current prototype is called "Sarah" but when the project begins this will be swapped for a machine with the face of Arabic scholar Ibn Sina aka Avicenna.

Under the hood the machine has three software modules to help it interact with people it meets at IRML. One module recognises the faces of real people or the images they place of themselves on Facebook.

It also has a language module so the machine can carry on real-time conversations and it will maintain a database of its friends and their social relationships based on information in Facebook. This social database will also keep its own Facebook profile up to date.

In a month-long trial, Dr Mavridis aims to let Ibn Sina wander around IRML talking to people it meets and trying to get to know those that it does not. When it meets anyone for the first time it will check on Facebook to see if they have a profile page and use what it finds there as the starting point for a conversation.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 6th May 2009

Work begins on Niger uranium mine

Work on what will become the world's second largest uranium mine has begun in the west African state of Niger.

After it opens in three years' time the $1.5bn (£1bn) mine is expected to yield 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year.

French nuclear energy company Areva is building the mine and will take a majority share in it.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and the export of uranium provides one of its few sources of foreign currency.

The open pit mine at Imouraren will employ 1,400 people and more than double Niger's current uranium exports.

The mine is in the north of Niger, home to the semi-nomadic Tuareg people.

Rebel groups

For the past two years armed rebel groups from the region have been fighting the government for a greater share of Niger's uranium wealth.

Niger's President Mamadou Tandja made his first trip to the north since the rebellion started to lay the first stone at the mine, and on Sunday evening he met rebel leaders in the town of Agadez.

The president promised an amnesty to those who laid down their weapons.

Activists from the local branch of the Greenpeace lobby group have been complaining about potential pollution from the mine and what they call the forced displacement of local people.

But the BBC's Idy Barou in Agadez says both the government and Areva have promised to deal with such complaints

Areva director Anne Lauvergnon and France's junior Minister for Co-operation Alain Joyandet also attended the inauguration.

Areva and Niger signed an agreement in January for the firm to operate the mine, describing it as "the biggest in Africa and the second largest in the world".

France keeps close ties with its former colony and uranium from Niger is vital to its nuclear energy programme.

Areva already has other mines in the landlocked sub-Saharan country.

Other than uranium mining, Niger's population relies on subsistence farming and livestock production.

But the fluctuating world price in uranium has brought repeated instability to the country's economy.

Niger is the world's fourth biggest producer of uranium after Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan, according to the British Geological Survey.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 4th May 2009

ANC gains over two-thirds of vote

The African National Congress (ANC) is heading for a decisive victory in South Africa's general election, taking more than two-thirds of the vote so far.

With more than 12 million votes counted, the ANC has 67%.

The major opposition parties are trailing well behind - the Democratic Alliance with 16% and the newly formed Congress of the People (Cope) has 7.6%.

"We know that counting is still going on, but we can smell a 70%," ANC leader Jacob Zuma told jubilant supporters.

The BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg says so far the ANC's percentage of the national vote gives the party a fraction more than a two-thirds majority needed to push through constitutional changes.

The ANC is ahead in eight of the country's nine provinces.

Results from some big metropolitan areas, including Soweto, are still awaited. The final results will be declared on Saturday.

The turnout has been extremely high, as much as 80% in some places, in the country's fourth poll and most competitive since the end of apartheid 15 years ago.

Enigma

In Johannesburg, crowds of ANC supporters dressed in the party's black, yellow and green attended a celebration rally on Thursday evening.

I would like to thank you for tonight," Jacob Zuma told the crowd, after dancing on stage.

"We went to the voters of this country, talked to them and put across our polices - and they have understood what we are saying," he said.

Parliament will elect South Africa's next president by a simple majority, putting Mr Zuma in line for the post when the new assembly votes in May.

Mr Zuma, a populist who spent 10 years in prison during the apartheid era for ANC membership, faces challenges including a struggling economy and soaring violent crime.

Charges of corruption against the 67-year-old were dropped just two weeks before the poll after state prosecutors said there had been political interference in the case.

The BBC's Africa analyst Martin Plaut says the ANC leader is still something of an enigma - part Zulu traditionalist, part international leader who jets around the world.

During the fight against apartheid Mr Zuma was head of internal security for the ANC, when some people were killed and some tortured.

It is not clear how much he knew or sanctioned, he says.

But Mr Zuma is also a skilled conciliator, credited with ending the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and helping to bring peace to Burundi.

'Not a rejection'

The election commission said it was pleased with the peaceful way in which the poll was conducted.

The Cope leader, former Bishop Mvume Dandala, told the BBC that the party did not see the result as a rejection. "We are saying that we have been given a critical mass upon which to build," he said.

Cope was formed by ANC dissidents who supported former President Thabo Mbeki, who resigned last year after losing a power struggle with Mr Zuma.

Analysts say Cope's emergence energised the early stages of the election campaign but the party's popularity seems to have diminished in recent weeks.

It is thought that Cope and the DA could enter into a coalition after the election, presenting a real threat to the ANC's continued dominance of South Africa.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 24th April 2009

ANC takes lead in election count

Early results have given South Africa's ANC a big lead in the general election but it is too soon to say if it has retained its two-thirds majority.

Voting at some polling stations was allowed to go on late into the night because of an earlier shortage of ballot papers and boxes.

A leader of the opposition Cope party was shot dead in Eastern Cape but the vote appeared otherwise peaceful.

The final, official results will not be known for days.

With almost a quarter of votes counted, partial results showed the ruling ANC of Jacob Zuma had some 64% of the vote and the opposition Democratic Alliance around 21%.

Cope (Congress of the People), formed last year by a group which split from the ANC after ex-President Thabo Mbeki was replaced as leader, garnered around 8% of the vote.

Charges of corruption against Mr Zuma were dropped just two weeks before the poll after state prosecutors said there had been political interference in the case.

High turnout

Monday's poll was the country's fourth general election since the end of apartheid 15 years ago.

Turnout was comparable to the last general election in 2004, when it was 76% and the ANC won 70% of the vote.

Results are still expected from many big townships, where the ANC is expected to do well.

In contrast, Cope seems not to have done as well as it had hoped in the Eastern Cape province, where it had been expected to do well.

Braving wintry weather on Wednesday, long queues of voters formed outside many of the 20,000 polling stations catering for 23 million registered voters around the country.

Later in the day reports began to emerge of a surge in demand for ballot papers and long queues at polling stations.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has threatened to take the IEC to court over the shortage of ballot papers, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reports.

She said 24 voting stations had run out of ballot papers in parts of Gauteng and Cape Town - areas where her party has a strong following, according to the SABC.

In Eastern Cape Province, Cope official Gerlad Yona was shot and mortally wounded when three armed men attacked his home, a party spokesman said.

Nkosifikile Gqomo said the party believed the attack was linked to politics.

Second place fight

Many of the new voters were young people who had little memory of the struggle to end white minority rule, which brought the ANC to power.

Analysts say Cope's emergence energised the early stages of the election campaign but the party's popularity seems to have diminished in recent weeks.

Cope fielded a relatively unknown presidential candidate, former Bishop Mvume Dandala who, analysts say, has struggled to make an impact.

Some say the real battle is between Cope and the Democratic Alliance for second place.

Neither party has ruled out entering into a coalition after the election.

news source: bbc.co.uk

 

Posted on Thursday 23rd April 2009

Zuma calls for 'massive' turnout

Jacob Zuma has said his party expects a "massive" turnout in South African elections to be held on Wednesday.

The African National Congress (ANC) leader encouraged supporters to make this the biggest turnout in the country's history.

He said the emergence of the opposition Congress of the People (Cope) had "re-energised" the ANC.

These elections are the "most exciting" the ANC has had to fight since coming to power in 1994, he said.

The party split last year with disaffected members forming Cope.

Mr Zuma has also faced corruption charges which were dismissed by a court with just weeks to go before voting.

"There is no cloud above my head, there is not even a mist," he told journalists in his final press briefing before polls open.

The ANC is widely expected to win by a big margin, which would lead to Mr Zuma being elected by the members of parliament.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 21st April 2009

Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal

Arsenal's Andrey Arshavin grabbed four goals as his side dealt Liverpool's title hopes a blow in a pulsating game.

Arshavin slotted in a low Cesc Fabregas cross before Fernando Torres' precise header hauled the Reds level.

Yossi Benayoun nodded in for Liverpool only for Arshavin to power in a strike and then fire home from close range.

Torres swivelled and shot to again level and, even though Arshavin lashed in another, Benayoun salvaged a point late on for Liverpool.

More to follow.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 21st April 2009

Darling 15bn pounds spending cuts due

Alistair Darling is set to announce £15bn of Whitehall spending cuts over the next few years in his Budget.

Treasury sources said the chancellor would unveil £10bn of annual Whitehall efficiency savings from 2011/12, on top of £5bn already pledged from 2010/11.

Mr Darling will also reveal the extent of the rise in public borrowing this year, possibly up to £160bn.

Experts expect predictions for the economy to be revised down to make it the worst recession since 1945.

Treasury sources said the extra £10bn in spending cuts would not mean reductions in services and personnel.

'Day of reckoning'

They added that Mr Darling believed such efficiency savings should be possible in the context of overall government spending of more than £500bn.

But the Conservatives predicted Wednesday's Budget would be a "day of reckoning".

A decision on including the car scrappage scheme - aimed at helping the ailing automobile industry - in the Budget has still not been finalised by the Treasury.

This could see motorists receive a payment of £2,000 to trade in cars that are more than a certain number of years old.

Officials are still studying the detail of how such a scheme might work, but it is expected that a plan of some description will feature in Wednesday's announcement.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne has said the Budget, expected to confirm a likely 3% fall in the economy's size in 2009, will "lay bare" Labour's economic failings.

"It will be a day of reckoning and I think you are going to see the chancellor forecast the longest recession that Britain has had since World War II," he said.

In last autumn's pre-Budget report, the chancellor forecast the economy would contract by between 0.75% and 1.25% in 2009.

'Unsustainable'

Experts believe he could now revise this to a projected drop of between 3% and 3.5% - which would be the worst recession since 1945.

However, Mr Darling is expected to say the economy will return to growth next year and gain further strength in 2011.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

Darling cannot afford to be generous although he will try to make it appear he is being

Conservative MP Mark Field called Labour's figures "unsustainable".

"Even by Labour's own figures it now looks as though, for the year ahead, they will be saying for every £4 they're spending, they're only going to be able to raise £3 in tax.

"And that's a huge thing. Think of everybody earning £30,000 a year spending £40,000 a year - well, it's simply not going to be sustainable".

Mr Brown told the Building Britain's Future conference at Loughborough University that unskilled workers could face difficulty in finding a job in future, given the nature of the changes to the economy, with the UK creating "value-added" products.

'Above the parapet'

The UK had to "build on our inherent strengths", the prime minister said: "We have, in Britain, an open economy. We are one of the greatest free-trade economies of the world.

"We have also got a scientific, intellectual and cultural genius. I believe we can harness these strengths.

"We have difficulties that we are overcoming, but we have also got enormous opportunities and challenges ahead."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg meanwhile unveiled a shake-up of his party's tax plans, including raising the income tax threshold to earnings of £10,000 a year.

This would represent an annual saving of £705 for most workers, he added.

Mr Clegg said it was "nonsense" to say tax cuts could not be brought in during a recession because a "tax switch" was affordable", he said.

Jobs market

The Confederation of British Industry predicted a "slow and fragile" return to growth in spring next year.

Director-general Richard Lambert told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he thought the chancellor should do very little in the short term.

He said: "We don't think he's got room for a big fiscal boost. We think he should be doing things to help jobs, particularly [for] young people, who face a tough jobs market in the next year."

Mr Lambert added: "The big question is what's he going to say about the medium term and how are we going to plug this big borrowing gap that's now building up?"

Meanwhile, the Ernst & Young Item Club predicted that the UK economy would shrink by 3.5% this year, but only by 0.1% in 2010.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 20th April 2009

FA to address Wembley pitch issue

The Football Association has admitted improvements are needed to the Wembley pitch after criticism of the surface.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes were unhappy with the pitch for last weekend's FA Cup semi-finals.

In a statement the FA said: "The stadium's unique environment continues to prove challenging.

"Whilst recent changes to the surface have seen improvements in player traction, we accept there are still further improvements to be made."

Arsenal manager Wenger called the surface "a disaster" and "laughable" after his side's defeat by Chelsea on Saturday.

Ferguson said his worries over the pitch were the reason why he fielded a weakened Manchester United team, who were beaten by Everton in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday.

Wembley took seven years to build and cost £750m but the surface appeared to cut up severely throughout both matches at the weekend, which were played in dry conditions.

The grass has been re-laid five times since the stadium re-opened in 2007 and will be re-laid again in the summer, ahead of the Community Shield.

By then, eight games will have been played on it including the three Football League play-offs, the FA Cup final and England's World Cup qualifier against Andorra.

Wembley is also set to host the 2011 Champions League finals.

"I don't think we lost because of the pitch," said Wenger. "But it is really embarrassing. When you see how much this stadium has cost and you still can't get a proper football pitch. Somebody must give an explanation.

I am not sure the pop concerts (held at Wembley) are an answer (for the pitch's condition). This pitch was never good since the start."

After watching Saturday's match, Ferguson says he took the decision to pull Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra from his starting line-up, although all three came on as substitutes.

"When I saw the pitch what I didn't want was to go into extra-time with my strongest squad," said the Scot after his side were beaten 4-2 on spot-kicks following a 0-0 draw.

"They've got all these lights around the perimeter to help the growth and the standard of the soil but it looks dead to me.

"Yesterday it looked spongy and dead and difficult to move the ball quickly around it. So we had to go with the bold decision of playing the younger ones.

After all, our club is built on giving young players opportunities and they didn't disappoint.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Moyes added: "I thought it looked very spongy and a poor playing surface - not in a way that it was all bobbles and divots but it just looked as if it was very soft, spongy and quite slow at times."

But Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink was not critical of the playing conditions at Britain's premier sporting arena.

"If you go to a lot of places in Europe and Africa you get pitches that are a lot worse than that," he insisted. "I don't think you should start talking about the pitch, whether you win or lose. It was fine to play on."

However, the FA is not happy with the current surface and will re-lay it.

"This new pitch will be of a different composition and from a different turf nursery.

"It is believed this composition will better suit the unique Wembley Stadium environment and make it possible to deliver both a quality playing surface and a quality event calendar," the statement added.

Australia's rugby union authorities launched an investigation into whether it contributed to two Wallaby players being injured in an international against the Barbarians in December 2008.

England's 3-2 defeat at home to Croatia in November 2007 - a result that cost them a place at Euro 2008 - was played out in treacherous conditions as heavy rain failed to drain away from the field of play.

Croatia manager Slaven Bilic criticised the state of the pitch, which only weeks earlier had hosted an American football game.

The stadium has also hosted the Race of Champions rally event, where it was covered in tarmac, as well as a number of music concerts and rugby league's Challenge Cup final.

new source: bbc.com

Posted on Monday 20th April 2009

New buys boost Bank of America

Bank of America saw net income soar to $4.2bn (£2.9bn) in the first three months of 2009 from $1.2bn a year earlier, beating analysts expectations.

But its results were inflated by its purchases of Merrill Lynch, which added $3.7bn in net income, and Countrywide, which boosted its mortgage arm.

And the biggest US bank also had to set aside $13.38bn to cover credit losses, up from the fourth quarter's $8.54bn.

Its shares fell 12.5% to $9.28 in the first hour of Wall Street trading.

Analysts said the fall followed investors looking beyond the bank's profit to the continuing concerns about the impact of the financial crisis on the banking system.

'Healthy number'

Bank of America has received $45bn in government funds as part of the Treasury Department's $700bn financial rescue package.

"We understand that we continue to face extremely difficult challenges," said Bank of America's chief executive Ken Lewis.

Mr Lewis has been under intense pressure over the purchase of Merrill - which was approved before shareholders learned of huge losses at the investment bank, and before billions of dollars worth of bonuses were paid to Merrill employees.

Bank of America also said that Countrywide and Merrill had contributed "outstanding performances".

Analyst Michael Holland of Holland and Company in New York said the headline figure was "a really really healthy number given where expectations were just a few months ago".

Improving reports

The results beat analysts' forecasts and add to signs that the banking sector might be improving.

Last week rival Citigroup reported its first quarterly net profit in nearly two years.

Citi's results came soon after positive earnings reports from Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

In January Bank of America was granted $20bn in fresh US government aid and $118bn worth of guarantees against bad assets.

It has also benefitted from selling shares it held in China Construction Bank.

news source: ww.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 20th April 2009

Oracle in $7.4bn deal to buy Sun

Business software manufacturer Oracle has said it is to acquire computer hardware and software maker Sun Microsystems for $7.4bn (£5.1bn).

Oracle is to pay $9.50 in cash for each Sun share, it said.

Oracle said the buy "transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems".

Oracle shares were down 5.56% and Sun's were up 27% in trading before the open of the New York Stock Exchange.

The offer of $9.50 per share represents a 42% premium over Sun's closing stock price on Friday.

'Natural evolution'

The deal comes a month after IBM abandoned its bid to buy Sun.

"Oracle and Sun have been industry pioneers and close partners for more than 20 years," said Sun chairman Scott McNealy.

"This combination is a natural evolution of our relationship and will be an industry-defining event."

Sun said its board of directors had unanimously agreed the deal, which is expected to be completed this summer after approval from shareholders and government regulators.

'Interesting acquisition'

Computer industry analyst Robert Jakobsen said he was initially "a little bit surprised".

"It could make sense," he added.

"The deal would strengthen Oracle's position against IBM. Oracle has done a good job on acquisitions it has done earlier."

Oracle said the takeover of Sun would boost its profits by more than $1.5bn in the first year, and by $2bn in the second.

However, Sun made a loss of $1.9bn over the past 12 months, despite sales totalling $13.3bn.

Fellow computer industry analyst Shannon Cross, said it was "a very interesting acquisition".

"It gives Oracle a very strong operating system. It gets hardware, which should be interesting to see since Oracle doesn't make things.

"It's going to give them access to customers who weren't using the Oracle database."

Job cuts?

Although best known for its computer servers, Sun was also the developer of the Java programming language, and created the Solaris operating system.

Sun currently employs 33,000 people, while Oracle's workforce totals 86,000.

The firms have yet to comment on whether any redundancies will be made following the completion of the takeover.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 20th April 2009

Slow, fragile recovery predicted

The UK economy is likely to stage a recovery next spring, a forecast by a leading business group has said.

The employers' group, the CBI, has predicted that there will be economic growth in spring next year but said any recovery would be "slow and fragile".

It predicted the economy would shrink 3.9% this year but grow 0.2% in the second quarter of 2010.

Separately, a report from the Ernst & Young Item Club has predicted that the economy will shrink by 3.5% this year.

It forecast the economy would shrink by 0.1% in the whole of 2010.

Return to growth?

The CBI also said that the first quarter of this year had been "tougher than expected", leading it to revise its outlook.

Its prediction of a 3.9% contraction in the economy this year is significantly worse than the 3.3% it predicted in February.

"There are a few tentative signs that the steepest phase of the recession is now behind us, and that the banking packages, aggressive monetary policy and fiscal support will steady the pace of decline from here on," said Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI.

Budget forecasts

In Wednesday's Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to predict economic contraction of about 3% of GDP this year - up from his earlier forecast in November of between 0.75% to 1.25%.

The Item Club believes that the revival of the bond market in January has enabled the UK's strongest companies to gain access to credit.

"This recession is unusual in terms of the degree of monetary and financial stimulus that has been applied," said Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to the Item Club.

"That is why I believe the hopeful signs seen in recent weeks mark a turning point rather than the false dawn that appeared so cruelly in 1931."

The Item Club's forecast was also encouraged by improved sentiment emerging in business surveys in the US, China and the UK, it said.

However, it also said that the backdrop to the Budget is "bleak" and warned that the chancellor has "limited options" in his spending plans.

Job losses

Mr Spencer warned that the UK was not out of the woods yet.

"We face another 12 to 18 months of serious grief. Around 900,000 jobs will be lost this year and half a million next," he said.

He also predicted a gloomy next 12 months for the housing market and the high street.

World trade is expected to decline by 9% in 2009, he added.

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce has called for the chancellor to provide more support for private industry in the Budget.

The business group wants a freeze on the minimum wage and a cut in small businesses' corporation tax.

news source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 20th April 2009

Liverpool 4-0 Blackburn

Liverpool kept up the pressure on title rivals Manchester United with a commanding home win over Blackburn.

Fernando Torres put them ahead with a brilliant swivel and volley into the corner after controlling on his chest.

Torres was in irresistible mood and headed in a Xabi Alonso free-kick as the home side dominated proceedings.

Daniel Agger fired in a ferocious 30-yard strike late on before David Ngog nodded in from point-blank range to round off the impressive win.

There had been a poignant build up to the last match at Anfield ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 fans died during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

A minute's silence was impeccably observed and it was a significant occasion as well as a significant game - one which Jamie Carragher had called the most important league match of his career as Liverpool chase a first title since 1990.

Carragher gathered the Reds players in a huddle before kick-off to deliver a rallying call and duly backed up his words with actions.

He flighted a ball to Torres, who controlled it with his back to goal before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the far corner past keeper Paul Robinson's despairing dive.

It was a goal of the highest quality and one which Javier Mascherano should have added to after a swift counter attack.

The Argentine had a one-on-one after being played in by Dirk Kuyt only to sidefoot too close to keeper Paul Robinson, who blocked the ball away.

Torres blazed the rebound high but the Reds were in inspired form and were zipping the ball about with confidence and purpose.

Emiliano Insua and Albert Riera, in particular, were combining to penetrative effect down the left flank as Blackburn were left chasing shadows.

Insua whipped in an inviting cross for an unmarked Kuyt, who failed to capitalise on the chance by heading straight at Robinson.

But Liverpool did not have to wait long to double their lead as Torres again showed his finishing prowess by nodding in Alonso's free-kick.

Blackburn afforded the hosts far too much time and space, which was a surprise considering their precarious position in the table, although injuries to a number of key players did not help.

Riera went close with a couple of shots as Liverpool continued to cruise, although Blackburn centre-back Christopher Samba nearly made the home side pay for not being as ruthless in the final third during the second half.

The ball fell to him at the far post but the makeshift striker slipped as he got his shot away and Jose Reina saved in a rare moment of action on his 200th appearance for Liverpool.

The home side eventually increased their lead when Agger delivered a piledriver into the top corner and Ngog added the fourth in injury time after Lucas headed across goal as the Reds moved top of the table before Manchester United's game against Sunderland at 1500 BST

Source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Saturday 11th April 2009

Algerians vote in poll 'charade'

Algerians are voting in a presidential election which opposition groups have described as a charade.

The incumbent, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is standing for a third term in office against five little-known opponents.

Observers say the 72-year-old is almost certain to be re-elected and many voters are likely to boycott the poll.

Opposition candidates include two nationalists, two moderate Islamists and a woman veteran left-winger.

But their posters are invisible in the capital, where the face of the incumbent adorns every available space, correspondents say.

Mr Bouteflika has promised to spend $150bn (£102bn) on development projects and create three million jobs, and stresses the fact that he has restored stability in Algeria.

His critics say he is using the threat of renewed violence from Islamic militants to mask the country's deeper problems of poverty, high unemployment and corruption.

The president voted in the morning in the upmarket Algiers heights neighbourhood el-Biar.

He has urged Algeria's 20 million registered voters to make the trip to polling stations, eager to enhance his authority by a high turnout.

Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyhaia cast his vote elsewhere in the capital and was quoted by local media as saying: "I'm not giving any predictions, but I think the turnout will be high."

But the BBC's Rana Jawad in Algiers says many people are simply sitting out the vote in the overwhelming conviction that Mr Bouteflika will win regardless of their ballot. Some have said they will cast blank ballots in protest.

One voter, 26-year-old sport teacher Abdeljaleel Saad, told the BBC: "I will not vote. We already know the result, so what is the point?"

'Shadowy figures'

For those who are taking part in the poll, however, the incumbent is the clear favourite, adds our correspondent.

Nacer Djabi, a political analyst, told the Reuters news agency: "Voting or not will make no difference as Bouteflika will win anyway. This is why poor turnout is likely."

In November, the Algerian parliament rubber-stamped an amendment that would change the constitution, meaning Mr Bouteflika can now run an unlimited number of times - which analysts say virtually makes him president for life.

Mr Bouteflika wants to be seen as a leader above the political fray, a man who can unite all Algerians, says BBC Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi.

Many do credit him with ending the civil war between the military-backed government and Islamic insurgents which lasted throughout the 1990s, adds our correspondent.

The conflict was triggered when the military intervened in a parliamentary poll in 1991 to stop an Islamist victory. Up to 150,000 people died in the violence.

"I continue to regard the restoration of civil peace as a national priority, as long as hotbeds of tension and pockets of subversion survive," Mr Bouteflika said in his final campaign speech on Monday.

But critics of the post-colonial order in Algeria say real power does not come from the ballot box but from the military and security services who anoint the man they want to be president.

Mr Bouteflika is said to have curbed some of their influence although many still believe the levers of power remain in the hands of shadowy figures who are the de facto rulers of this vast and oil-rich country, our correspondent says, and that is why the opposition says the election is a charade.

News Source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 9th April 2009

Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea

Chelsea took command of the Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool as Guus Hiddink's side stunned Anfield with an exhilarating attacking exhibition.

Fernando Torres looked to have put Liverpool on course for another glorious night when he fired Rafael Benitez's in-form European specialists ahead after only six minutes.

But Chelsea responded in style to run out emphatic winners of an enthralling encounter, in which Liverpool played a full part until they were eventually overpowered.

Branislav Ivanovic was Chelsea's unlikely hero, heading goals either side of the interval to put Chelsea ahead - twice taking advantage of Liverpool's familiar Achilles heel, wretched marking at corners.

Didier Drogba, who wasted two excellent opportunities to score before Ivanovic levelled six minutes before the interval, was on target after 67 minutes when he turned in Florent Malouda's left-wing cross from eight yards as Liverpool suddenly collapsed under the weight of Chelsea's pressure.

The only black mark on Chelsea's night was a second-half booking for captain John Terry for a challenge on Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina that rules him out of next week's second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool have specialised in comebacks against the odds in the past, but it is hard to see how Benitez - who will have been left exasperated by his side's defending - can navigate a route out of this one against a Chelsea side who have been rejuvenated by the veteran Hiddink.

In the previous Champions League meetings between the sides it has been almost impossible to separate them, but Chelsea have never adopted such a positive approach before and Hiddink reaped a rich reward.

Anfield was left subdued apart from a defiant rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the final whistle - all Liverpool's hopes dashed by Chelsea after the optimism sparked by Torres' early goal.

Chelsea's fans, in contrast, celebrated wildly after a victory that was almost beyond their wildest expectations.

Liverpool's recent resurgence has been characterised by high-tempo openings that have put opponents under instant pressure - and they were at it again in the early stages at a vibrant Anfield.

Dirk Kuyt almost gave Liverpool the perfect start after two minutes when his powerful shot on the turn was deflected inches wide off Ivanovic, but the Kop did not have long to wait to celebrate.

This time Kuyt was the creator with a clever flick that released Alvaro Arbeloa on the right-flank, and when he delivered an inviting cross Torres was on hand to sweep a comprehensive finish low past Petr Cech.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 8th April 2009

Cash for key African trade routes

More than $1bn (£675m) has been pledged by international donors for the upgrade of transport links across East and Southern Africa.

The North-South Corridor initiative aims to get goods to market faster and cheaper with improved infrastructure and more efficient border crossings.

The project aims to raise the living standard of millions of people.

The money will come from the World Bank, international development agencies and the private sector.

The UK has also committed £100m to the project at a conference in Zambia.

Long wait

In order to speed up the transportation of goods from Tanzania, via Zambia to the ports of South Africa, the project will remove red tape and oversee the upgrade of 8000 km of road and 600 km of rail track.

The BBC's reporter Jo Fidgen, reporting from Zambia's busiest border post, Chirundu, says truckers currently have to wait three or four days before they can enter Zimbabwe.

The project aims to cut waiting times to two hours by streamlining procedures, she says, which should also reduce HIV transmission rates as truckers will have less time to spend with sex workers at the border.

The estimated total cost of improving transport and trade links in the region is $12bn to be spent over two decades.

The cooperation of eight African countries - Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa - is needed for the project to be successful.

Source: bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 6th April 2009

Vale in Mozambique coal project

Brazilian mining company Vale has launched a $1.3bn (£908.5m) coal mining project in Mozambique.

The new plant is expected to produce 11 million tonnes of coal a year, to be exported to Brazil, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

It is thought Mozambique will now become the continent's second-largest coal producer behind South Africa, which holds most of Africa's reserves.

Mozambique has attracted increasing numbers of foreign investors recently.

In total, the project is expected to generate 8.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal, which is used for the production of steel. It will also produce 2.5 million tonnes of thermal coal, which is used for electricity generation, every year.

Speaking at the inauguration of the project, Mozambique's president Armando Guebuza said he hoped it would better the situation of the country's people.

"We want these resources to continue contributing in a sustainable way to the improvement of the living conditions of our marvellous people," said President Guebuza.

Mozambique, which traditionally relies on agriculture, is one of the Africa's poorest countries.

Vale is the world's second-largest mining company and the largest producer of iron ore.

Losing confidence

The news is a boost for African commodities, which have been hit hard as consumers abroad continue to shun high-end purchases in the economic downturn.

Commodity prices have also been badly affected by the reduction in demand from China, which once had an insatiable appetite for buying raw materials in order to fuel its now-fading economic boom.

Countries such as South Africa, Congo and Botswana have particularly felt the effects of cooling trade in raw materials.

Last month, Debswana, a diamond producing firm jointly owned by Botswana's government and luxury jewellery company De Beers, closed two mines for the rest of the year as demand continued to fall.

Meanwhile, Anglo American's South African unit, Anglo Platinum, announced some 10,000 job cuts in February.

Scaling back

Because of soaring mineral prices, Congo's economy had been projected to grow by up to 12% last year, a target which now seems unlikely.

In Congo's Katanga province, the authorities estimate that 300,000 people have lost their jobs virtually overnight as several miners, including BHP Billiton, close down mines or scale back their activities in the country.

Zambia, which garners some two-thirds of its export revenue from copper, has also felt the effects of a slowdown for commodities.

Having enjoyed the benefits of copper trading at more than $8,000 (£5,584) a tonne only last summer, it is now asking for a $200m (£139.6m) loan from the International Monetary Fund after prices plummeted to about $3,900 a tonne.

Source: www.bbc.com

Posted on Thursday 2nd April 2009

South Africa's cricket scoop

It was not too long ago that rumours were doing the rounds that Fifa, football's world governing body, had a Plan B should South Africa not be ready to host the 2010 World Cup.

How ironic, then, that at a time when those rumours have dissipated, South Africa is now very much the Plan B for international cricket.

Just a week after the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that the country would replace Pakistan as hosts of the Champions Trophy in September, the Indian Premier League (IPL) have now turned to South Africa to host the second season of their lucrative tournament.

Faced with the choice of cancelling the tournament due to security concerns in India or moving it to a different country, the IPL bosses opted for South Africa over England.

Factors which counted in South Africa's favour included the more favourable weather during April and May when the 59 games will be played, the lower costs of running the tournament and the more convenient time difference for the Indian television audience.

Source: www.bbc.com

Posted on Wednesday 25th March 2009

Africa 'loses out on mining cash'

Mineral-rich African states have been deprived of huge sums of royalties and taxes by mining firms, a report says.

The report, by prominent development charities, blames a lack of legislative oversight and excessively generous tax concessions agreed with the firms.

It says some mining companies have also avoided paying tax through secret contracts with African governments.

The study covers South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

Commissioned by development charities including Christian Aid and ActionAid, the Breaking the Curse report calls for reform of the institutional framework that negotiates mining concessions and monitors the royalties paid.

Even in the boom times, African nations failed to profit as much as they should have done from natural resources thanks to inadequate tax rules and lack of ability to enforce the rules that did apply, the report says.

Ghana, a top African gold producer, is losing $68m (£46.7m) annually because it is receiving low royalties, the report's authors estimate.

They believe Tanzania, the continent's third largest producer of gold, could be losing $30m (£20.6m) a year in potential revenues.

And low royalty rates could be costing South Africa, the continent's biggest gold producer, up to $359m (£246m) a year, the report says.

However, in South Africa, where the government has decided to defer royalty payments this year to help secure jobs in the mining sector, finance minister Trevor Manuel questioned the researchers' figures.

Mr Manuel said his country would lose $195m (£133.9m) in deferred royalties this year.

The report says African countries have been encouraged by agencies such as the World Bank to offer more generous terms to attract mining investment.

Essentially, the BBC's business reporter Mark Gregory says, it argues the costs of this approach have outweighed the benefits.

source: www.bbc.com

Posted on Wednesday 25th March 2009

Ghana's juicy economic lesson

What do you do when your buyers in Europe start cutting their orders?

Target the local market.

That is the strategy being used by Blue Skies - which exports pre-packed fruit salads and juices to Europe but has now realised their products can also tickle the taste buds of Ghana's more affluent customers.

Most businesses in Ghana have been relatively unscathed by the global economic downturn. Despite the warnings that the storm is approaching, there are few visible signs yet.

Poverty is still rife but that cannot be pinned on the recent global crisis.

Tight squeeze

But Blue Skies is definitely an operation which has taken a hit

By Will Ross BBC News, Ghana

Posted on Thursday 19th March 2009

Brown set to meet African leaders

Gordon Brown is to meet African leaders on Monday to discuss their concerns over how their economies have been affected by the global downturn.

The Prime Minister will chair the G20 global summit in April which aims to tackle the world slowdown.

Only one African country, South Africa, is taking part in the leaders' summit.

The news was announced as African finance ministers met in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to discuss how Africa should respond to the crisis.

Nemat Sharik, the permanent secretary of the UK's department for international development, told the BBC at the meeting that Mr Brown would meet African leaders on 16 March "to discuss the developing world's concern over the effects of the recession" ahead of the G20 summit.

Posted on Thursday 19th March 2009

Ghana Sheds Light on Oil Contracts

The Revenue Watch Institute congratulates the Government of Ghana on its decision to publicly disclose all present and future contracts with oil companies. While citizen groups and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the International Finance Corporation have called upon countries to disclose these contracts, very few countries actually do.

"Ghana stands poised to become an important player in Africa's oil industry," said Karin Lissakers, executive director of the Revenue Watch Institute.

"This plan for increased transparency helps secure Ghana's stability amid the current financial crisis. We applaud the government for its leadership and its commitment to strengthening public oversight."

In 2007, British and American companies discovered an offshore oil reserve in Ghana estimated at between 600 million and one billion barrels. The finding of the Jubilee Field has driven the country into an "oil fever." However, Ghana's excitement remains tempered by the experience of its oil-rich neighbor Nigeria, which continues to labor under the corruption, conflict, and poverty too often associated with the "resource curse" of abundant oil and mineral wealth.

"West African countries have struggled to harness natural resources for broad-based economic development," said Lissakers. "Transparency is an essential tool in that effort, and this new policy has tremendous power to ensure the effective use of Ghana's oil revenues."

With a history of successful democratic elections and sound economic development, Ghana may be in a better position than Nigeria and other African neighbors to turn its newfound oil wealth into lasting prosperity. Ghana's leaders have already demonstrated a commitment to transparency in the nation's more mature mining sector with their decision to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It is also one of the few countries making significant strides towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015.The Revenue Watch Institute hopes that Ghana will extend the new transparency policy to mining contracts and add the oil sector to the Ghana EITI process already underway.The Revenue Watch Institute (www.revenuewatch.org) is a non-profit policy institute and grantmaking organization that promotes the responsible management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. With effective revenue management, citizen engagement and real government accountability, natural resource wealth can drive development and national growth. RWI provides the expertise, funding and technical assistance to help countries realize these benefits.

News source: www.ghanaweb.com

Posted on Tuesday 10th March 2009

$200m Fibre Optic Cable Project Underway

Work has begun on a 200-million dollar undersea fibre optic cable, which aims to provide reliable internet and telecommunication services to industry stakeholders across Ghana and Nigeria.The project being undertaken by Main One Cable Company will help to minimize the difficulties of switching traffic between African countries and eliminate the inconveniences and added cost of first routing traffic to Europe. It is in line with the continent's quest to participate fully in the Information and Communication Technology through digital connection with the rest of the world.

This news is from www.myjoyonline.com

 

Posted on Wednesday 18th February 2009

Nigeria loses oil investments to Angola, Ghana

There are strong indications that investment inflow to the upstream sub-sector of the Nigerian oil industry has started dwindling as foreign investors now choose Angola and Ghana as preferred destinations over Nigeria.This, by implication, of course, would threaten Nigeria's capacity to grow its crude oil reserves as planned and there might also be job cuts in the industry. Nigeria is targeting 40 billion barrels proven reserves by 2010.Analysts have identified insecurity in the Niger Delta and unstable fiscal policy as key reasons while investors are gradually leaving Nigeria for more stable business climes. BusinessDay gathered that international oil companies are beginning to see insecurity in the Niger Delta as a key threat to investments, especially with the experience that a major oil company like Shell has had, with its production dropping from one million barrels per day to about 380,000 barrels per day.The concern, "essentially, is about militancy in the Niger Delta, and the failure of the government to even begin to resolve the Niger Delta crisis," a senior executive in a big oil firm told BusinessDay."For two years now, this government has told us it wants to resolve the Niger Delta crisis, but as it is today, not a single shovel of sand has been moved to the area, and so far, its been merely promises," the source lamented.Oil companies, consequently, are becoming stricter with their investments as low crude oil prices persist, even as they keep moving strategically from high risk centers to low risk environments.Furthermore, revocation of licenses earlier awarded is also said to be creating an impression of an unstable fiscal climate in the minds of foreign investors. Analysts cited the revocation of oil bloc licenses earlier awarded to Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) and ONGC of India, OPLs 321 and 323, after Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) had been signed, as key indicators of an unstable fiscal environment.Also, the Liquefied Natural Gas projects like Brass, NLNG 7, and Olokola, sources added, are being slowly implemented, as investors continue to weigh their investment options in the face of fast thinning purses resulting from low crude prices.Oladiran Fawibe, chairman, International Energy Services Limited, said government's recent policy as regards some international companies whose oil blocs were revoked would naturally give a wrong signal to the international community. "They may be forced to think twice before bringing in their money. Investors who are daily bombarded about the security problem in the Niger Delta, the issue of crude oil theft and other criminal activities would not want to make any investment in Nigeria, as these things do not give confidence to foreign investors. The situation in the Niger Delta is no longer political, but criminal."In the same vein, Austin Avuru, managing director of Platform Energy, said insecurity of investments remain one of the major factors foreign investors are now looking towards Ghana and Angola. He warned that "with the way things are going now, Nigeria may not be able to meet its OPEC production quota as a good number of companies are pulling out."Already, Angola has begun to attract more investments from oil companies as IOCs are making long term expenditure commitments in the southern African nation.Total, for instance, said last week that it would go ahead with a $9 billion investment to raise production in Angola, despite a $100 fall in oil prices since July last year, occasioned by the global economic slowdown. Total plans to stick to its major investments in Angola, even as it expects crude prices to recover, the company's top official in Angola said."We are living through a crisis that has pushed oil prices to very low levels. Therefore, we are being extremely strict with all our investments," Olivier Langavant, its director general in Angola, was quoted as saying in an interview with Reuters."But the big projects (in Angola) like the Pazflor, which is a $9 billion investment, will be maintained."Pazflor, Total's third production hub in Angola's offshore Bloc 17, is expected to begin pumping oil in 2011 from water depths of up to 1,200 metres, according to the company's website. It is the firm's biggest investment in Angola.

Source of this news is from www.myjoyonline.com

 

Posted on Wednesday 18th February 2009

Marley for sale as family cash in

Bob Marley drinks, luggage, stationery, hotels and video games could soon appear after the late reggae star's family struck a merchandise deal.

"We're open to licensing just about anything," said the late reggae icon's daughter Cedella. But she added: "If it is not right, we will not do it."

The family has teamed up with private equity firm Hilco to capitalise on his name and songs and to stop bootleggers.

A Bob Marley lager and coffee will be among the first items on the market.

Headphones, snowboards, shoes, musical instruments and electronics are on a list of other products that will be developed in a major expansion of Marley's official merchandise range.

Some will bear the music legend's name and image, while others will be tied in to song titles or lyrics from his best-known tunes.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 11th February 2009

Hamilton happy with track return

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton got his first taste of McLaren's 2009 car when he completed 81 laps in testing in Portugal.

The 23-year-old was third fastest overall after a minor engine problem.

It was his first drive since winning the Formula One title in dramatic fashion at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"It was good to be back working with the team. It felt like I'd hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine," said Hamilton.

"This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers - it wasn't about setting a fast time.

"I'm pleased to report that the car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"It's going to be an extremely busy winter. I've only been in the car for one day and our usual job list for the weeks ahead is already enormous.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 22nd January 2009

Economy and war on Obama's agenda

Barack Obama is beginning his first working day as president of the United States by meeting his economic advisers and top military commanders.

The financial crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq top the agenda of the man inaugurated as America's 44th president on Tuesday.

Most of his cabinet is in place but several are still to be confirmed.

His administration has announced it is seeking a temporary halt to trials of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Late on Tuesday President Obama and his Secretary of Defence Robert Gates issued the request, which will be presented by prosecution lawyers to military judges.

Hearings had been due to take place on Wednesday in the case of the five men accused of plotting the 11 September attacks.

A delay of 120 days is being sought "in the interests of justice", the administration request says.

Ready to lead

In his inaugural address, President Obama promised a "new era of responsibility" in a time of crisis at home and abroad.

He also spoke of his desire to usher in a new era of   It will be these tonal changes that make Obama's America much more palatable to Europeans

Justin WebbBBC North America editor

Justin Webb's America peace and of America's readiness to lead once more.

After a parade through Washington, Mr Obama and his wife Michelle attended official balls around the city on Tuesday evening, dancing before delighted guests.

Stars such as Rihanna, Mary J Blige and Queen Latifah were billed to perform at various venues.

Correspondents say the whole capital seems to have been partying with at least a dozen unofficial balls.

Outside America, Antigua announced it would rename its highest peak after Mr Obama while a village in the Irish Republic with ancestral links to the mixed-race new president was turning out commemorative cakes.

 Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Wednesday 21st January 2009

Tapping deep into America's past

There really is nothing like it. A few other countries, such as Ireland, inaugurate their presidents in pomp and circumstance but the United States tops the lot. And the Obama inauguration is going to go down as one of the glitziest.

You might think it strange that a country that seems so anti-traditional should be enthralled by this four-year ritual but the inauguration is America's version of a coronation - a democratic crowning, of a leader chosen by the votes of the people.

You can see this in the very first inauguration, of George Washington, in April 1789.

The infant United States didn't yet have its own capital, so the event took place in New York City on the balcony of Federal Hall in the heart of Wall Street.

 LISTEN TO THE PROGRAMME  America, Empire of LibertyThe series charting the history of the United States of America returns to BBC Radio 4 on Monday, 19 January 2009Listen daily at 15.45GMT or catch up with the omnibus edition every Sunday at 21.00GMT Washington, America's victorious general in the War of Independence, was rowed across the Hudson River in a 50-foot barge, manned by 13 oarsmen in white smocks - symbolising the 13 states of the new nation.

Cannon fired a 13-gun salute and the band played God Save the King.

Yet the words were very different from Britain's national anthem: "Thrice welcome to this shore, Our Leader now no more, But Ruler thou..."

And Washington was dressed not in sumptuous robes but in "superfine American broad cloths" that had been made up into a suit for the occasion.

Clothed in New World simplicity he took the oath of office to support and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, whereupon New York dissolved in a week of parties, festivities and crass commercialism - with every huckster cashing on the market for GW souvenirs.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 20th January 2009

UK oil explorers in Ugandan find

UK oil explorer Heritage Oil and its partner Tullow Oil have made a "world class" oil discovery in Uganda.

The finding by the Giraffe exploration well could be the largest discovery in the Lake Albert Rift Basin to date.

Reserves in the well and a linked discovery known as Buffalo, which was discovered in December, may come to more than 400 million barrels of oil.

Heritage has a 50% equity stake in the exploration licences, with Tullow Oil holding the other 50%.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 13th January 2009

Areva wins Niger uranium licence

The French nuclear energy group Areva has been awarded a licence to build and operate the Imouraren mine in Niger.

Areva says it expects it to become Africa's biggest uranium mine and the second biggest in the world.

Mining will begin on the site in 2012, with 1,400 staff producing 5,000 tonnes a year.

The investment will go ahead despite the fall in uranium prices, which have almost halved while negotiations have been taking place.

"Prices now are not what they were when negotiations started, but nevertheless the conditions we defined together allow us to open this deposit," said Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon at a signing ceremony in Niger's capital Niamey.

Areva will have a 66.65% stake in the mine, with Niger holding the rest.

The French company will provide two-thirds of the initial investment of 1.12bn euros ($1.51bn; £1.02bn).

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 9th January 2009

Opposition leader wins Ghana poll

Opposition candidate John Atta Mills has won a tight presidential run-off in Ghana, electoral officials have said.

The announcement came after results from the last constituency to vote showed him extending his lead over his rival, Nana Akufo-Addo.

Mr Akufo-Addo's ruling party boycotted Friday's vote, in Tain constituency.

Both sides have alleged vote-rigging in the poll. The run-off was closely watched as Ghana remains a rare example of democracy in West Africa.

The electoral commission said the results of the run-off showed Mr Atta Mills had won narrowly with 50.23% of the votes, against 49.77% for Mr Akufo-Addo.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Saturday 3rd January 2009

Ghana vote despite party boycott

Voting has begun in a remote Ghana district that could decide the outcome of a knife-edge presidential election, despite a ruling party boycott.

The governing New Patriotic Front (NPP) had sought an injunction to delay Friday's voting in Tain constituency.

NPP officials said the atmosphere in the rural, western district was not conducive to a free and fair election.

Tain constituency did not vote with the rest of the country last Sunday because of a problem distributing ballots.

Opposition candidate John Atta Mills has a narrow lead over the ruling party's Nana Akufo-Addo.

"We are trying to stop the election because we think the security situation on the ground is not conducive for a free and fair election," NPP spokesman Arthur Kennedy told AFP news agency.

Soldiers and police have been deployed across the district - the last of Ghana's 230 constituencies to vote.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 2nd January 2009

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Posted on Thursday 1st January 2009

Cocoa prices hit a 23-year-high

London cocoa futures have hit a 23-year-high as cocoa turned out to be the most lucrative commodity in 2008.

Cocoa for delivery in May peaked at £1,820 per tonne in London, which was its highest price since October 1985.

Cocoa traded in the US has also been rising, although not as strongly because of the strength of the dollar.

Most commodities are priced in dollars, even in London trading, but London cocoa is priced in sterling, so traders can benefit from the weaker currency.

"Cocoa is on fire," said Sterling Smith from FuturesOne in Chicago.

"We have supply concerns continuing. The market is plenty bullish and we have plenty of room to go on the upside," he added.

There are concerns about falling cocoa production in Africa, while demand for cocoa is holding up much better than other commodities in the downturn.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Tuesday 30th December 2008

Nigeria gets first oil minister

Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has named a new minister in charge of the country's troubled oil sector.

Rilwanu Lukman, former secretary general of the oil cartel Opec, will now head the petroleum ministry.

Until now it was a post the president had kept for himself, as did his predecessor Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Lukman is widely respected and regarded as the architect of planned wholesale reforms of the country's oil and gas sector.

The country's main earner, the oil industry, is beset by a violent conflict in the southern region which has cut output by a fifth.

The industry has also been damaged by the government's failure to keep up its part of the funding deals it made with the oil companies.

Mr Lukman has advised sweeping reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 19th December 2008

Race tight in Ghana's vote count

Ghana's two main presidential candidates are running neck-and-neck as votes continue to be counted a day after the country's peaceful elections.

It is a public holiday and people are glued to their radios and television sets as the results trickle in.

A number of ministers have lost their seats in the parliamentary elections.

Poll officials reported a huge voter turnout and monitors hailed the exercise as a shining example of democracy in action for Africa.

President John Kufuor is stepping down in January after serving the maximum two terms.

The main contest is between Mr Kufuor's governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of former ruler Jerry Rawlings, which was in power until eight years ago.

The leading contenders are ex-Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo and the opposition's John Atta Mills, of the NDC, who is a presidential candidate for the third time. The winner is expected to be named later on Monday.

Delays

Seven presidential candidates were in the race but the BBC's Will Ross in the capital Accra says that the other candidates failed to attract much support.

He says the winner could get more than 50% of the vote, making a second round run-off on 28 December unnecessary.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 8th December 2008

'Turnout high' in Ghana elections

Presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana have attracted a huge turnout with few reported problems, poll officials say.

President John Kufuor, stepping down after serving the maximum two terms, urged participants to accept the result peacefully and in good faith.

The race to succeed him is considered to be a tight one.

The main contenders are ex-foreign minister Nana Akufo-Addo and the opposition's John Atta Mills.

Mr Atta Mills, of the National Democratic Congress, is a candidate for the top office for a third time.

Delays

Many arrived at polling stations early, waiting for their chance to vote as the day's temperatures rose. There were delays of about an hour in some areas as voting materials arrived late, reports say.

"Voter turnout is going to be very high. I should expect a higher number than we saw in the last elections because I could see this one is very competitive," Electoral Commission Chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan said. Turnout in 2004 was a record 85%.

Polls were due to close at 1700 GMT but officials said those still queuing would be allowed to vote.

Ghana is often held up as an example of good government in Africa and the continent is said to be watching how the vote unfolds.

Mr Kufuor said he wanted to see decorum.

Mr Atta Mills, who served as vice-president under Ghana's former leader Jerry Rawlings, said he expected it would be peaceful.

"In any contest you expect a winner and a loser, and parties are likely to accept the results if indeed the conduct of the process is free, fair and transparent," he said.

The New Patriotic Party's Mr Akufo-Addo, a British-trained lawyer, said: "We have battled a long, arduous struggle to turn our nation into a democratic state, so an occasion like this, the fifth successive election that we have had in the last 20 years, is an extremely significant and important day in the evolution of our democracy and its consolidation."

There is little love lost between the two main political parties, the BBC's Will Ross says, and both are looking for victory.

Leadership hopes

At one polling station, business student Sarah Walker said she was worried about unemployment levels and had lots of friends who had "finished school and are roaming the streets". But she also hoped for a peaceful transition.

 

"In as much as we need change, we must maintain the peace we enjoy," she said. "We are very scared of what has happened in countries around us, like Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone."

The Convention People's Party, which ushered in Ghana's independence, has picked up support from people disillusioned with the two main parties.

Its candidate, Paa Kwesi Nduom, may secure enough votes to prevent the other leading candidates from achieving a first-round victory, says our correspondent.

This election is important not just for Ghana, but also for the continent, he says.

The fact that the hallmark for a successful election is that it is peaceful is seen by some as a worrying sign of just how low the bar has been set when it comes to judging democracy in Africa, says our correspondent.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Sunday 7th December 2008

Ghana rivals hold final rallies

Political parties in Ghana are to hold their final rallies ahead of Sunday's presidential and parliamentary polls.

The main contenders for the presidency are Nana Akufo-Addo for the ruling NPP party and John Atta Mills for the main opposition NDC.

Whoever wins will be in power when money starts coming in from the oil discovered off Ghana's coast.

The race is seen as being close and many Ghanaians expect it to go to a second round run-off on 28 December.

To win, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the votes.

President John Kufuor is to step down in January after serving two terms in office, the maximum he is allowed by the constitution.

Giant billboards

There are gigantic billboards throughout Accra, the capital, trumpeting the achievements and promises of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Mr Akufo-Addo.

Some declare that the British-trained lawyer is "The Best Man for Ghana" and he "believes in Ghana" .

Posters for his rival, John Atta Mills, say he is a president "you can trust" and "a better man for Ghana".

Mr Atta Mills, a former vice-president, has twice before stood for election and lost both times.

Mr Atta Mills represents the National Democratic Congress (NDC), founded by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who took power in a coup and was president for nearly 20 years.

Paa Kwesi Nduom is standing for the Convention People's Party (CPP), the party of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, seen as the founding father of African independence.

Success story?

Correspondents say that since the early 1990s, democratic and economic reforms have underlined Ghana's status as a success story in the region, as neighbouring Ivory Coast, once perceived as an "African miracle" descended into war.

The world's second-biggest cocoa producer and Africa's biggest gold exporter after South Africa, Ghana is now set to profit from the discovery of oil off its shores.

But oil wealth has not benefited many of Africa's poor and many in Ghana fear the discovery will not transform its economy, but exacerbate corruption.

Uneven wealth

Plenty of new buildings are going up in Accra, including banks and hotels.

Its stock exchange was one of the top-performing markets this year and economic growth is forecast at 6.5% for 2008.

But for many, the fruits of this growth remain elusive.

In Accra, hawkers ply their trade on the city's busy roads, with many of its dusty streets are lined with open sewers.

Much of the development has been concentrated in the south, with the the country's north far poorer.

The uneven spread of wealth is one of the reasons why many analysts say Sunday's election is too close to call, and a run-off is likely.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 5th December 2008

Dubai shares hit despite promises

Dubai's stock market has fallen 5% to the lowest in four years, despite the emirate's efforts to assure investors that it can meet debt obligations.

The head of Dubai's economic taskforce, Mohammed al-Abbar, said the government owed $10bn (£6.6bn), while state-affiliated firms were $70bn in debt.

However, he said both the government and state companies had assets worth much more than their debts.

Dubai's government recently bailed out two lenders hit by the credit crisis.

"We are rationalising our expenditure and consolidating our activities", said Mohammed al-Abbar.

Turbulence

Emaar, the state-controlled property firm of which Mohammed al-Abbar is also chairman, was one of the biggest losers on Monday, dropping another 9% to its lowest level since being listed eight years ago.

Dubai, unlike other Arab regions, does not have strong oil resources. Instead it has tried to become a regional trade and tourism hub, but its efforts have been hit by the global financial crisis.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia cut a key interest rate and took steps to boost banks' liquidity.

The entire Gulf region has been affected by the economic downturn and a huge fall in oil prices, a key export.

Oil prices are around two thirds lower than they were in July when they hit a record above $147 a barrel.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 4th December 2008

Pound volatile after interest cut

The British pound has regained some ground after a one percentage point cut in UK interest rates.

In the run-up to the decision, it fell to a historic low of 1.1499 euros, but later moved slightly up to 1.1561.

The UK currency also dropped against the dollar to $1.4466, the lowest level in almost seven years, before rising to $1.4588.

In July, the pound was trading at more than $2, but it lost ground as the downturn hit the UK economy.

On Thursday, the pound also hit a new low in more than 13 years against the Japanese yen, trading at 134.07 yen.

At the same time, the euro declined against the dollar, to $1.2574.

The Bank of England slashed UK interest rates to 2% on Thursday, the lowest level since 1951.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 4th December 2008

S.Africa's Zuma pledges faster change, decent jobs

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling party on Saturday called for faster change in the light of the global crisis to create decent jobs, improve education and health, and fight against crime ahead of elections next year.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma told party delegates at a manifesto policy conference in Johannesburg that the global credit crisis would affect the country's economic growth and in turn have an impact on job growth and poverty reduction.

"We must be prepared for this reality, comrades, and plan accordingly," Zuma said in an emailed copy of his speech.

The ANC leader has in the past pushed for a stronger government role in fighting poverty and unemployment, but has also said that there will be no dramatic changes in the country's pro-business fiscal policies.

But ANC leftist allies -- the powerful labour federation COSATU and the South African Communist Party -- are pushing for an overhaul of policies including the focus on inflation targeting, and want an increase in government spending.

The ANC said its election manifesto would focus on five priority areas to bring faster change: creation of decent jobs, health and education transformation, the fight against crime, rural development and youth development.

"Our trade and industrial policies, our macro-economic policy stance and other policies must be aligned to achieve decent work outcomes," Zuma said.

"We must work harder to bring about faster change. That is our message," added Zuma, who is likely to become president after next year's elections.

The manifesto of the ANC, which has ruled since the end of apartheid and white minority rule in 1994, sets out the party's vision over the next five years and, if it is re-elected, will serve as a blueprint for the country's future policies.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Sunday 30th November 2008

SA 'heroes' save Mumbai hostages

A team of South African bodyguards have been explaining how they led 120 hostages to safety from a hotel seized by gunmen in the Indian city, Mumbai.The guards, armed only with knives and meat cleavers, helped other hotel guests to safety down a fire escape.

They carried a traumatised old woman in a chair down 25 flights of stairs.

"Everybody was calm and no-one became hysterical," said Bob Nicholls, director of the security company in Mumbai for a cricket tournament.

Mr Nicholls said he and his employees were eating in the restaurant and were planning to get an early night when they heard shooting in another part of the five-star Taj Mahal hotel.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 28th November 2008

Forces fight through siege hotels

Commandos are fighting to clear the last gunmen from two luxury hotels in Mumbai, more than 24 hours after a series of attacks across the city.

The Taj Mahal hotel was nearly free of gunmen, officials said, but operations continued at the Oberoi-Trident hotel.At a third stand-off, at a Jewish centre, seven hostages were freed, a security official said.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh vowed to track down the attackers, who have killed at least 119 people and injured 300.

Gunmen targeted at least seven sites in Mumbai late on Wednesday, opening fire indiscriminately on crowds at a major railway station, the two hotels, the Jewish centre and a cafe frequented by foreigners.

The attacks are the worst in the city since 260 people were killed in a series of bombings.A security official said one gunman remained in the Taj Mahal hotel and that the military was in control of the situation.

Commandos were continuing their sweep of the Oberoi-Trident, where a number of guests were trapped in their rooms or being held hostage, said JK Dutt, of the National Security Guards.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 27th November 2008

Downturn threat to SA World Cup

Drive from Johannesburg's main international airport into the city during rush hour, and the silver lining to the slow-moving traffic is that you get to study the hoardings advertising the forthcoming Gautrain.

The 80 kilometre railway system is a much-needed transport link, which, it is hoped, should be built in time to whisk World Cup 2010 visitors who have just touched down into town.

And, although it may be a tight squeeze to be ready in 18 months for the tournament kick-off - "blasting work here" signs still feature on the roadside - at least the 2010 organising committee has the power to influence the government on this.

It is a similar issue with stadiums, with well-publicised problems at Cape Town, and at some other venues which are facing looming deadlines and rising budgets.

But, again, the issues are tangible, and world football body Fifa and the South African organisers are in agreement they will work together to do whatever physically needs to be done.

Global slowdown

Of more concern, and less visible, is the potential effect of the global economic downturn, which has left South Africa facing a possible recession.

The rand has been sliding and South Africa's benchmark stock index has been close to its lowest level in almost three years.

  We will just have to wait and see

Danny Jordaan, chief executive, 2010 World Cup organising committee

All this comes just as the country is launching a publicity drive for its hosting of the 2009 Confederations Cup, a preamble to the World Cup.

"Will it [the global downturn] have an impact on the Confederations Cup? No," says Dr Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 World Cup organising committee.

"We are using existing stadiums, we are talking about meeting specific event requirements."

 South Africa's railway system is overcrowded The Confederations Cup is a eight-country tournament, held in the year before a World Cup in the host nation, to enable it to have a 'dry-run' for the big event as much as possible.

But in one regard it is different. In terms of audience the 2009 event is not expected to draw many overseas visitors to Africa

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Friday 21st November 2008

Rwandan growth could reach 10%

Rwanda's booming manufacturing and farming sectors could push growth in the country to 10% this year, according to the Rwandan central bank governor.Agriculture is particularly strong and is growing at a minimum rate of 10%, said Francois Kanimba.

But Rwanda's growth rate is likely to fall to 6-7% next year because of the global financial crises.Several African countries are feeling the fallout of the financial crisis and are readjusting their growth forecasts.

"The current assumption we have [for 2009] is a growth rate of 6-7%, not more," Mr Kanimba told Reuters news agency.

He also said that the drop in commodity prices, a slowdown in the growth of manufacturing and services and a decrease in the amount of remittances Rwanda received would contribute to the lower figure.

Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Thursday 20th November 2008

African free trade zone is agreed

The leaders of three African trading blocs on Wednesday agreed to create a free trade zone of 26 countries with a GDP of an estimated $624bn (£382.9bn).

It is hoped the deal will ease access to markets within the region and end problems arising from the fact several countries belong to multiple groups.The deal also aims to strengthen the bloc's bargaining power when negotiating international deals.Analysts say the agreement will help intra-regional trade and boost growth.

The three blocs which struck the deal were the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

"The greatest enemy of Africa, the greatest source of weakness has been disunity and a low level of political and economic integration," said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at a meeting with the heads of state who chair the three trade blocs.The agreement will also lend its backing to joint infrastructure and energy projects in the zone.

Redressing imbalance

Six heads of state from 26 countries in Comesa, SADC and the EAC attended the meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to sign the agreement.Many of the leaders and representatives consider the new pact a way of giving Africa a greater voice on the world stage.

"By coming together, the member states will have a strong voice in advancing our interests on the international scene," said South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.Meanwhile, President Museveni said that it was a step in the right direction for a continent that suffered unfairly when it came to global trade.

President Motlanthe also called for developing countries to have positions within global institutions.

""While Africa and other developing countries had marginal influence over the decisions that have brought the international finance systems to the brink of collapse, unjustifiably, African countries will bear the brunt," he said.

"Development countries must be included in the governance of all international financing institutions to mitigate adverse effects on them," Mr Motlanthe added.

Groupings

The three blocs are already well-established in their own right but cover varying swathes of land and numbers of people.

The SADC was first established as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference in 1980 in order to reduce independence on apartheid South Africa.

It was reincarnated as the SADC in 1992. It covers a population of some 248 million people and a zone whose cumulative GDP is $379bn in 2006.

The SADC's members include South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Comesa was established in 1994 and replaced the Preferential Trade Area. It includes 398 million people and the area has a combined GDP of $286.7bn in 2006. Among its members are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Sudan.

EAC is the smallest of the group in terms of GDP, and had a GDP of $46.6bn in 2006. Set up in 1967, disagreements between founding members Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania led to its collapse.

A treaty was signed for its re-establishment in 1999 and the new EAC was formed in 2000.

 Source of this news is from bbc website  www.bbc.co.uk

Posted on Monday 20th October 2008

The New Job Serve Africa Website is now Live!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Website. Job Serve Africa was designed with you, the visitor, in mind with ease of navigation and quick download times to ensure that you enjoy your surfing experience.

Please take a good look around our site. We welcome your feedback and comments. Please bookmark our site (by using Ctrl + B ) and come back to view information about our services.

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Posted on Saturday 20th September 2008

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