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82626
FAMILY and Home / TIME MEN GOT ON FAMILY PLANNING TRAIN
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:34:08 PM »
DON’T even bother telling Teni about pregnancies: she has had enough of them. She has five children and can’t imagine herself taking in again; not now, not ever. “I am just 35 and still has a long time to go before menopause, but I have not been able to use any modern family planning method because my husband has simply refused to get involved,” she says.

So, how has she managed to stay away from pregnancies after her last pregnancy four years ago? She replies, “Oh, we use the withdrawal method, but I have always harboured the fear that one day, it would fail us and then I would get pregnant for the sixth time! I have begged my husband on countless number of times for us to sit down to make a more reliable decision, but he keeps telling me that it is a woman’s responsibility and therefore, doesn’t want to get involved. I have tried to tell him that the two of us have to take the decision, but he wouldn’t listen. And anytime I raise the condom option – at least till we finally decide on what to do – he looks at me as though I’m a betrayer, who doesn’t want him to enjoy sex. And that is simply because of what he believes based on several half-truths or outright falsehoods he’s heard at various quarters about a man not being able to enjoy sex fully with condom. Of course, I dare not broach the issue of vasectomy; that might send me out of my matrimonial home in seconds. So I live each day in fear of pregnancy, despite the fact that I know there are very modern and effective methods of ensuring they don’t happen.”

When it comes to family planning, I must confess many people in this part of the world have refused to move ahead; they have preferred to remain in the past. And this is not just about men; the women too have allowed so many irrelevant factors to hold them back. You see many women refusing to be on any kind of family programme simply because of what some friends have said about it. In this instance, you see women who are highly educated relying on unfounded information rather than well researched information to make a decision as important as how many children they would want to have.

But even beyond that, how many of our husbands are actually involved with their wives’ family planning programme? You would be disappointed to find out that most of our men are not interested in how the women stop the children from coming. As far as such men are concerned, it is a woman’s responsibility to sort out the family planning logistics, even when it is the man who would want to put a stop to childbearing. At such times, you hear the men quite unabashedly telling the women to make all the decisions (of course, for as long as it doesn’t interfere with their sexual pleasure). Really, isn’t it ironical that the traditional head of the family would relinquish the very important role of making a family planning choice to the woman? Yes, very strange indeed, but that’s what you are much likely to get.

But this is not about blaming anyone here. Rather, it is about a man understanding that any woman would feel better knowing that her spouse is with her all the way, even when it is her body that would bear the brunt of whatever method the couple might decide to go with.

Teni is obviously crying out for many more Nigerian women out there, who have had to go for doctor’s appointments wishing that their men are right beside them. What women like Teni is asking for are for their spouses to get involved on how the family is planned. And there are quite a number of options that once a couple sits down to talk about, they would be able to make an informed decision. That way, the woman feels much safer and also happy with whatever method she would have chosen. But it doesn’t even have to be the woman who does it. Yes, the choices for the men are limited, but the man too can decide to use condom, especially if they don’t have sex often; it is a matter of the two of them taking the decision and working together. And really, vasectomy isn’t such a bad idea for a man who is through with childbearing. The only thing he needs is to bravely break himself away from those baseless myths.

82627
NEWS / GERMAN WOMAN FAILS IN BEER MUG WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:31:47 PM »
A German woman has attempted to set a new world record by carrying 21 beer mugs at once.


Anita Schwarz, from Eichenau, had to transport the mugs across a distance of 40 metres to be successful.

Wearing traditional dress, Schwarz, 48, began with all 21 mugs balanced in pyramid-fashion.

However, she soon lost control and the tower toppled, sending the contents of every mug spilling out onto the floor of the tent near Zeltingen, in Germany.

Only last month the city of Munich in Bavaria celebrated Oktoberfest, its annual sixteen-day festival, widely known for the beer served at the event.

Beginning in late September and running to early October, the festival attracts some six million people each year.

The original Oktoberfest occurred in Munich on October 12, 1810. To commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a horse race was organised. Since temperatures can be as high as 30 degrees Celsius in that part of Germany at the end of September, large quantities of beer were served to quench the thirst of all of the visitors. The tradition has continued and it is now a yearly event.

The event has now become famous around the world, although there are regular problems with festival-goers who cannot handle the copious amount of alcohol on offer.

82628
NEWS / IWU SPLITS NANS
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:28:44 PM »
A crack has emerged in the National Association of Nigerian Students leadership over a plan by the group to honour the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof.  Maurice Iwu, with the “Man of the Year Award. ”

The issue has split the ranks of the National Executive Committee of the association, some of whom paid a courtesy call on the INEC boss on Thursday in Abuja.

The National President of the association, Babale Bashir, it was gathered, strongly opposed the decision of a faction led by the National Secretary of NANS, Martins Igwe, to offer Iwu the award.


Bashir said the award did not only lack credibility, but also had no basis. 

Igwe led a faction of the association to INEC’s National Headquarters to announce plans for the award and solicited Iwu’s support for a seminar being organised by NANS. 


Iwu while responding, expressed appreciation for NANS support, saying, “I am happy that you are celebrating our country and that you are not accepting people who want to pull our country down. ”


However, NANS President who spoke to Sunday Punch said that he and other leaders were not aware of the gesture. 

He alleged that so many persons, including cultists who were rusticated by their universities but now reside in Abuja went about giving “NANS Awards” to many personalities.

Bashir said the organisation had only solicited INEC’s support for the leadership seminar scheduled for December 18. 

He expressed surprise that a group hijacked the programme and unscrupulously incorporated a special award for Iwu.

“We never discussed anything like that and we never agreed to confer such an award.  All that we wanted was for INEC to help facilitate the leadership seminar and we were surprised that a few persons went into the INEC chairman’s office, discussed and concluded on a Man Of The Year Award,” Bashir, a student of Bayero University, Kano stated. 

He added, “We have to distance ourselves from such greedy and unscrupulous practices.  It will be very sad if the INEC chairman will allow his name to be dragged in the mud with such an award especially when it is clear that we do not agree that things should be done this way,” he said.

82629
NEWS / OKIRO, OSHIOMHOLE MEET IN BENIN
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:27:29 PM »
The Inspector–General of Police, Mr.  Mike Okiro, has described the emergence of Mr.  Adams Oshiomhole, as Governor of Edo State, a victory for democracy.

Okiro said the victory of the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the Court of Appeal showed that rather than take recourse to arson and violence, aggrieved politicians protesting the outcome of elections should seek justice in court.

The appellete court, it would be recalled, last Tuesday upheld the decision of the state election petitions tribunal which had earlier quashed the election of Prof.  Oserhiemen Osunbor as governor of the state.

The IGP stated this when he visited Oshiomhole at the Edo State Government House alongside the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 5, Benin, Mr.  Suleiman Fakai.

 Also on the IG entourage were the Commissioners of Police in Edo, Delta, and Bayelsa states, Messrs Chris Dega, Joshua Oshiomiogho, and  Julian Okpaleke in that order.

 He noted that the outcome of the case only confirmed the saying that the judicary was the last hope of everybody.

 He said, “The judiciary is now the hope of everybody, and so the police would be glad if people can take their grievances to the courts instead of burning houses on the streets.  We as police officers are very glad the judiciary is helping us to solve the problems of violent elections.

 Okiro, who said he was in the state to flag off the first Inspector–General’s football competition, noted that the essence of the contest was to make youths more productive and creative.

Responding, Oshiomhole said it was a commendable move to engage in sporting activities while also thanking the IG for the choice of the state for the competition.

 He also said that his government was committed to sports development as it had decided to set up a committee to consider how best to develop the sector.

 He commended the police for maintaining peace and order in the state.

82630
Kemi Otegbade is a pack with many parts - a writer, a public relations guru, events manager, a consultant and sports enthusiast.

She was even a banker who worked with one of the defunct banks.

This is aside from the various memberships associated with her name in different social and non-governmental organisations.

Now, she is organising a beauty pageant.  Wondering how she copes? ”First, you have to see it as a problem before you start talking about coping,” says Otegbade.

”It is not a task to me whenever I am doing what I love most.  I love to work.  I love versatility.  I love creativity and I love challenges.

”That I delved into PR and event management was by sheer destiny.  Really I must confess that I also have natural public relations stints.

”From my childhood, I‘ve known how to manage and tolerate even the most difficult personality or situation and by the time I grew up, I was able to make use of that virtue and floated Heartlink Ventures.

”As a matter of fact, I started with publishing.  Till date I have published three business directories and the fourth edition is almost out.  To me, a woman must work more than the men before she is acknowledged.  That is what I am doing. ”

Reminiscing on her first event, Otegbade, who is a member of the Lagos State Sports Council, says, ”My first event was the Be my Val Show at Protea Hotel, Lekki in February 2005.

”The success of the event got me an invitation to organise the Miss Gateway Games for the Ogun State government.

”Then there were Lobsterpot Platinum Club Launch, the Ojude Oba Nite with Kwam2 at Gateway Hotel, Ijebu Ode, Bonfire Nite for 100 couples at Eko Tourist Beach, Akodo, Nigeria-Benin first Economic Forum, Benin Republic, first Ghana-Nigeria Investment summit, Cowboy Nite at the Coliseum, Nite of Movie Stars 1 & 2 and lots more.

”In fact, I have lost count of the events but to run a successful media and PR outfit, one must be full of Integrity and possess the ability to deliver.

”There must be a high sense of responsibilities because nobody wants to work with a lazy person or an unscrupulous element. ”

Her recent pageant, Miss Precision, is a project of the Lagos State Government‘s Sport Council.

What is her attraction to pageants seeing that a chunk of the society frowns on half nude girls on the runway? ”I don‘t think so,” she says.

”There are many beauty pageants where the girls are properly dressed and no flesh revealed.  I organised the Miss Gateway Games Beauty Pageant in Abeokuta, Ogun, in July 2005.

”It was decently packaged, the best girl went home with the crown, she was also an ambassador of sports but in a different way.  The Miss Precision beauty pageant came up recently.

”As a member of the Lagos State Sports Council (Shooting Sport), I also head the publicity and marketing committee.

”The job entails creating awareness for the growth of shooting as a sport in Lagos.

”On the other hand, on my job as head consultant of Heartlink, I am a very busy person and may not be on the ground all the time, so these duties will be carried out by the eventual winner with guidance from the chairman of the sports council and other members.

”The decision to stage the Miss Precision pageant was jointly taken by the committee members, presented and approved by the Lagos State government.

”I only submitted the blueprint as my contribution since I have the experience.

”It is a public-private sector partnership.  With such a venture, you can‘t allow bias because a beauty queen must not only be pretty, she must be sharp, athletic, confident, intelligent and the age bracket must be between 18 and 25 years old.

”The eventual winner must be ready to serve for at least one year in Lagos State and will go home with a brand new car and will have female role models in government and outside to mentor her.

”It is a good package for young girls and I don‘t think any parents/society should frown on it.  Being a beauty queen is not exposing parts of the body, it is a combination of brain, brawn and beauty. ”

Born and raised in Lafiaji, Lagos, Otegbade lost her father when she was seven.  ”It was a tragic time for the family but my mother was able to bear the brunt,” she recalls.

”It was a close knitted family of six children and my mother also took the position of a father.  I must have taken after her resilience and strength. ”

At this juncture, she opens up on the Nigerian woman and her strength: ”Women especially in Nigeria should never be called weaker sex but Gibraltar rock.

”We are workers, mothers, friends, in-laws, wives, bread winners, cooks and in some cases, maids.  God has built Nigerian women with triple shock absorbers to cope naturally.

”It still amazes me how we cope but I have observed that with the right partner, it will not be too difficult to strike a balance.

”Moreover, I think God‘s grace is also the secret.  There are millions of women who work hard and still bring up Godly children and run successful homes.  It takes an inner strength and absolute resilience. ”

Unlike most society women, it is surprising that Otegbade is dark-complexioned.  Has it ever occurred to her to bleach her dark skin? Laughing, she answers, ”When I was younger, I saw some older women who bleached their skins.

”Now that I am growing older, I can see some of them who are reaping the negative results of bleaching - they have either burnt colours or a mixture.

”As kids, we used to call them cooked face.  That experience is enough warning to allow my head properly screwed on the neck.  A woman can age gracefully and still look smashing.

”Many examples abound.  There is no woman who is not beautiful.  What matters most is the beauty from within. ”

With her packages, money must mean so much to her, isn‘t it? She says, ”No, I don‘t worship money but I see it as a means to an end.  I have always said that I don‘t want to own the world.

”I am contented with basic things - you can only ride a car, live in one house and can wear one apparel at a time.  Money means nothing to me. ”

She will not be described as very fashionable but she looks good what with her model-like height.  For a workaholic like Otegbade, can she pamper herself? ”Mind you, the degree to which I work hard is the same way I play too when time permits,” she says.

”I pamper myself regularly and I have learned to relax.  For my skin, I don‘t do anything extraordinary.

”I just steam my face once in a while and I use the regular Mary Kay products.  Fashionable? I can‘t be the judge but I can recall that when I was managing Bukky Wright, an actress, she influenced my dressing and I dress to suit my profession. ”

Any dream? ”I really want my outfit to be a household name and churn out the best especially in events management.  There is nothing like second best, I want to be the best. ”

82631
NEWS / AT LAST, ENUGU LAWMAKERS MAKE LONDON TRIP
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:24:34 PM »
Members of Enugu State House of Assembly have finally travelled to London for a seminar on lawmaking which would cost the state government about N200 million. 

The lawmakers and other officials billed for the trip left the country in two batches on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The 31–member delegation would spend two weeks in London where they would have sessions with parliamentarians and experts on lawmaking as well as a guided tour of the city.

 The delegation included among others the 24–members of the Assembly, Clerk of the House, governor’s Liaison Officer to the House, Chuka Utazi and the Adviser to the governor on Special Projects and Diaspora Matters, Jude Akubuilo who is allegedly facilitating the seminar.

The lawmakers initially planned to visit the United States but were denied visa by the US  embassy in Nigeria.

Sunday Punch had earlier reported that the embassy’s refusal to grant them visa was based on the fact that the trip was not of ‘critical importance. ’ Besides that, the seminar slated for between October 28 and November 14, 2008 coincided with the US Presidential Elections held last November 4.

 The embassy had given November 26, 2008 date for the delegation to return for another interview, but the lawmakers who were irked by the decision decided to go to Britain instead. 

Investigations by our correspondent showed that each member of the delegation would get $5,200 as estacode ($400 daily for 13 days), besides air ticket, hotel accommodation, feeding allowances and transportation within London city.  The charges of the consultants could however not be ascertained, but it was expected to run into thousands of pounds.

 The trip was packaged by Akubuilo who has extensive contacts in England and US where he was residing before becoming an aide of Governor Sullivan Chime.

 Findings showed that the media reports on the initial trip which attracted scathing criticism from the public, made Akubuilo issue a statement denouncing it as “a smear campaign against the government. ”

 In the statement issued on Monday, the governor’s aide denied that the lawmakers had applied for US visa, and even insisted that they were not travelling to London.

He stressed that the state government was transparent and open in its business and was more concerned with using its resources to develop the state.   

But his claims were contradicted by the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Marcel Njeze, who informed our correspondent on Monday that the legislators were travelling the next day (Tuesday). 

He contended that it was cheaper for the lawmakers to go and experience the process of lawmaking in the British parliament than to invite the experts to Nigeria.

“We will likely go on Tuesday.  We thought of bringing the experts to Nigeria , but they convinced us that it is better for us to go there (London) so that we can experience the sitting of the parliament.  If we bring the experts to Nigeria to save cost, can we bring the British parliament sitting to Nigeria? So, we look forward to having a rich time there.  We would love to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace and other historical places, but the estacode is small.  But I am sure after our trip, many states would emulate us and go there too,” Njeze said.

 Reports about the trip had generated criticisms from opposition groups who felt it was a waste of public funds.

They noted that the trip was a ploy by the governor to buy the loyalty of the legislators.

82632
NEWS / WHY WE FOUGHT OBASANJO – NA’ABBA
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:23:41 PM »
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na’Abba, has given an insight into the intermitent face–off between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the House during his tenure. 
 

He said disagreements bordered on the power of the National Assembly to appropriate funds. 

Na’Abba stated this in a paper he presented at the just concluded Senate Retreat in Kano . 

While admitting that the process of appropriation is often not smooth across the world, he said the case of Nigeria under the leadership of Obasanjo went beyond the passage of the Act into law. 

He said, “The appropriation process has never been smooth.  Various times in the life of the National Assembly, conflicts characterised the appropriation process from beginning to end. 

“In fact, these conflicts extended beyond the passage of the acts into law.  These dogfight were more prevalent between 1999 and 2003.  The reasons were not far–fetched. 

“The National Assembly of those years and the then President, Chief Obasanjo, had important philosophical differences. 

“Fundamental among those differences was the issue of the power of the National Assembly over appropriation and by extension, oversight. 

“While the constitution explicitly stated that all funds belonging to the federation cannot be spent except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly, former President Obasanjo had his own ideas. 

“He never believed that beyond rubber stamping his budget, the National Assembly has any role in the appropriation process. 

“Thus, the appropriation processes of 1999 and 2000 in particular were characterised by so many rancors and conflict to the extent that the supplementary appropriation bill submitted to the National Assembly in September 1999 could only be passed in February 2000, while the 2000 budget, submitted to the National Assembly in November 1999 was only passed in June, 2000. ”

Na’Abba stated that it took the intervention of a Peoples Democratic Party caucus led by Dr.  Alex Ekweme to get the process back on track. 

He admonished the present National Assembly to take steps to ensure that their constitutionally assigned powers were not usurped by the executive as that could lead to dictatorship.

82633
NEWS / OBAMA TRIGGERS GUN SALES
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:22:40 PM »
Gun sales are up across Central Florida, dealers say, part of a nationwide pattern after President-elect Barack Obama’s open support of permanently banning assault weapons. 
 
The buying spree reminds local sellers of a 1994 surge that preceded the 10-year ban on semi-automatic military-style rifles.  The trend began last summer when anti-Obama posters became marketing tools at Florida gun shows. 

“I’ve had record, record, record days,” said Gordon Schorer, owner of the Gun Shop and Gun Range in Leesburg.  “People have gone crazy. ”

For Schorer, the current record is 40 guns sold in one day.  One of those was a . 50-caliber sniper rifle that cost $10,000. 

“It’s not just assault rifles.  They’re buying 38-caliber revolvers, shotguns and hunting rifles.  Anything they can get to protect themselves,” said Schorer, who has almost sold out of high-capacity magazines for ammunition. 

“People are really afraid of the president and the economy. ”

Rising gun sales have been reported across the nation in the past week.  The trend cannot be documented because local, state and federal agencies do not track gun sales, but local dealers say it’s real. 

Concern hit fever levels last week when Obama’s transition team released a four-point agenda on addressing gun violence in U. S.  cities. 

The points released Nov.  7 called for repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, which limits public access to information collected by the federal agents who trace the history of guns used in crimes. 

Other proposals call for making guns childproof to prevent unintended injuries and deaths; closing a gun-show loophole that lets collectors sell guns without knowing whether the buyer is a felon; and restricting ownership of assault rifles, “as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets. ”

Law enforcement considers assault weapons the deadliest weapons in criminals’ hands.  A recent review by the Orlando Sentinel of 60,000 guns seized by Florida largest law-enforcement agencies showed confiscations of assault weapons in criminal cases have jumped at least 300 percent since the federal ban ended in 2004. 

Concern among cops is so high about these weapons that the state’s largest agency, the Miami-Dade Police Department, has ordered 3,100 weapons — . 223-caliber assault rifles — and plans to issue one to each officer.  MDPD Director Robert Parker said police must be as well-armed as criminals to protect themselves and the public. 

“We think that the ban should not have expired and it should be re-enacted,” Parker said in an interview before the presidential election about the attitude of top U. S.  police executives toward assault weapons, which can disintegrate a brick wall with repeated fire. 

Although the U. S.  Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that citizens have a right to own firearms, the National Rifle Association responded to Obama by advising its million-plus members to defend their Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

“More than ever before in your life or in the life of our nation, you need to send a message to every member of the U. S.  House and Senate, every federal judge, every entrenched gun-hating bureaucrat, every legislator in your home state, and every enemy of freedom,” the group said in a statement Nov.  7. 

Despite such rhetoric, one Central Florida gun dealer considers some of Obama’s goals reasonable. 

“I looked at the agenda, and I agreed with a couple of the points and a couple I don’t agree with,” said Neal Crasnow, who owns three Al’s Army Navy stores in Orlando, Altamonte Springs and Sanford. 

Crasnow and other gun dealers interviewed oppose unrestricted private sales at gun shows.  They uniformly favor aggressive prosecution and lengthy sentences for gun-related crimes instead of new restrictions on gun ownership and components, such as 30-shot magazines. 

“If you think the war on drugs didn’t work, the war on guns would be even worse,” Crasnow said. 

At Oak Ridge Gun Range off South Orange Blossom Trail, Malcom Dangler stopped in Thursday to buy a laser sight for a recently purchased 9 mm Glock pistol.  It’s one of several firearms and extra boxes of bullets he has bought for home defense since Obama’s election. 

“I voted against him, and the reason I’m purchasing a couple of guns now is the fear that he’s going to raise taxes on guns and ammunition,” said Dangler, an NRA member from Winter Springs.  “And God knows what he’s going to do to my Second Amendment rights. ”

A longtime shooter, Dangler does not own assault rifles.  He believes in “gun regulation within reason, but if you start that, where are you going to stop?”

Prices haven’t gone up, but guns cost more because dealers won’t negotiate on prices now, Dangler said.  The 17-shot Glock he bought cost him at least $50 more than it would have a year ago. 

Though sales since Obama’s election are getting attention currently, gun dealers say fear of crime has boosted gun sales for more than a year. 

Gun sales rise predictably whenever there is a social or economic crisis, dealers said.  Two of the most memorable were in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve 2000, when many feared computer glitches would destroy the economy, and in the days after the Sept.  11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 

“We’re getting lots of first-time buyers who are simply scared,” said Eileen Rieg of Rieg’s Gun Shop and Range on South Orange Blossom Trail, citing Orange County’s rising murder numbers.  The buyers are young and old, male and female, white, black and Hispanic, she said. 

The threat of violent crime combined with poor economic news in recent weeks has been filling their classes for concealed-weapon permits. 

“Our next opening is Dec.  22.  It’s usually only one to two weeks,” Larry Anderson, manager of Shoot Straight Gun Shop in Apopka, said about available seats in his twice-weekly concealed-weapon-permit classes. 

The same was true at Oak Ridge Gun Range in south Orange County and East Orange Shooting Sports in Winter Park.  Only five shops selling guns in Orange County have ranges where students can qualify for a state concealed-weapon permit. 

Source:

The Orlando Sentinel

82634
NEWS / JTF, MILITANTS IN FIVE-HOUR SHOOT-OUT
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:21:27 PM »
The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Restore Hope, and the Niger Delta militants on Friday engaged in a bloody shout-out in the creeks of Bayelsa State. 
 The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Restore Hope, and the Niger Delta militants on Friday engaged in a bloody shout-out in the creeks of Bayelsa State. 
 
File

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike

Sunday Punch gathered that three militants were killed during the bloodbath which reportedly lasted for about five hours.   

The casualty figure on the side of JTF, Op RH could not be ascertained as at press time on Saturday. 

It was further learnt that some militants sustained varying degrees of injuries during the fracas. 


Reports from 93 Battalion, Effurun, Delta State , the headquarters of JTF, Op RH, revealed that the militants had stormed Opukushi and Harbour Creeks oilfields in Bayelsa State on Friday night. 

Security sources stated that the militants invaded the oil locations in 15 speed boats.   

Findings by Sunday Punch revealed that the armed militants, who allegedly planned to dispossess the troops of their arms and ammunition as well as vandalise oil platforms located in the area, were repelled by the security operatives. 

A gun battle, in which the combatants from both sides wielded sophisticated weapons, later ensued. 

The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre of JTF, Op RH, Lt.  Col.  Rabe Abubakar, who confirmed the report in a telephone interview on Saturday, however, said there was no casualty on the part of the security outfit in the encounter. 

Abubakar said unspecified quantities of arms and ammunition as well as dynamites, were recovered from the youths. 

Abubakar said, “The militants attacked our locations in Opukushi and Harbour Creeks in Bayelsa State on Friday.  They were probably looking for arms and ammunition.  And may be they planned to attack some oil installations in the area. 



They probably thought that it would be easy for them because our men are new in the areas.   

“But the gallant soldiers repelled them and in self-defence two of the miscreants were killed while others sustained injuries.  It would interest you to know that our troops escaped unhurt. ” 

Meanwhile, the JTF, Op RH, has placed its troops on alert following recent threats to its units and oil platforms by the militants. 

Already, the Commander of the security agency, Brig. -Gen.  Wuyep Rimtip, has directed his lieutenants, especially the Task Group Commanders of the Army, Navy, Air force, Police and State Security Service, to employ maximum force to crush any rebellious act in any part of Bayelsa and Delta States. 

The JTF, Op RH oversees the security exigencies in the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa and Delta.


Rimtip, it was learnt, handed down the fresh order to the TGCs and heads of the various units in the creeks and oil locations in the region following renewed attacks by the militants.

Rimtip reportedly asked his subordinates to brace up to the challenges of arresting the growing tide of violent activities, adding that the era of treating criminals masquerading as freedom fighters in the region with kid gloves was over. 

Consequently, Sunday Punch learnt that more troops and military equipment were moved into the creeks and oil locations of the two states within the week. 

The action, described as “a show of force”, by a source at 93 Battalion, Effurun, Delta State , the headquarters of JTF, Op RH, was meant to send a clear message to the militants that the threat to confront them was not an empty boast.

It would be recalled that the JTF, Op RH in a statement on Thursday, warned the militants against further attacks and criminal activities in the region. 

The security outfit in the statement titled, “Enough is enough” issued by Abubakar, said it was ready to confront the militants with the might at its disposal.   

It warned the militants not to mistake its peaceful gesture for weakness, adding that it had enough human and material resources to tackle them. 

The agency accused the militants of launching premeditated attacks on its locations and the nation’s economic assets in the Niger Delta in recent times, adding that such actions violated the agreement reached in the ongoing peace process in the area. 

Abubakar said, “The JTF is by this release, warning all militants and their cohorts  to stop forthwith, their unprovoked attacks and unpatriotic activities as it is prepared and ready more than ever before to respond to anybody or group that may attack its locations again.   

“Attack on any JTF locations or the destruction of Federal Government assets or property of law abiding citizens, would not just be resisted, but the consequences would be grevious and disastrous on the attackers.  Enough is enough, as a word is enough for the wise. ”

Abubakar, who spoke to one of our correspondents attributed the success of JTF in the Friday’s incident to the alertness of the troops, adding that the agency would not be taken unawares in any part of the region. 

“We have put eyes on them (militants) and we are ready to pay back any attack on our units and oil platforms.  We are serious on that and we hope they would understand and turn a new leaf,” Abubakar added.

Sunday Punch gathered that three militants were killed during the bloodbath which reportedly lasted for about five hours.   

The casualty figure on the side of JTF, Op RH could not be ascertained as at press time on Saturday. 

It was further learnt that some militants sustained varying degrees of injuries during the fracas. 


Reports from 93 Battalion, Effurun, Delta State , the headquarters of JTF, Op RH, revealed that the militants had stormed Opukushi and Harbour Creeks oilfields in Bayelsa State on Friday night. 

Security sources stated that the militants invaded the oil locations in 15 speed boats.   

Findings by Sunday Punch revealed that the armed militants, who allegedly planned to dispossess the troops of their arms and ammunition as well as vandalise oil platforms located in the area, were repelled by the security operatives. 

A gun battle, in which the combatants from both sides wielded sophisticated weapons, later ensued. 

The Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre of JTF, Op RH, Lt.  Col.  Rabe Abubakar, who confirmed the report in a telephone interview on Saturday, however, said there was no casualty on the part of the security outfit in the encounter. 

Abubakar said unspecified quantities of arms and ammunition as well as dynamites, were recovered from the youths. 

Abubakar said, “The militants attacked our locations in Opukushi and Harbour Creeks in Bayelsa State on Friday.  They were probably looking for arms and ammunition.  And may be they planned to attack some oil installations in the area. 

They probably thought that it would be easy for them because our men are new in the areas.   

“But the gallant soldiers repelled them and in self-defence two of the miscreants were killed while others sustained injuries.  It would interest you to know that our troops escaped unhurt. ” 

Meanwhile, the JTF, Op RH, has placed its troops on alert following recent threats to its units and oil platforms by the militants. 

Already, the Commander of the security agency, Brig. -Gen.  Wuyep Rimtip, has directed his lieutenants, especially the Task Group Commanders of the Army, Navy, Air force, Police and State Security Service, to employ maximum force to crush any rebellious act in any part of Bayelsa and Delta States. 

The JTF, Op RH oversees the security exigencies in the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa and Delta.


Rimtip, it was learnt, handed down the fresh order to the TGCs and heads of the various units in the creeks and oil locations in the region following renewed attacks by the militants.

Rimtip reportedly asked his subordinates to brace up to the challenges of arresting the growing tide of violent activities, adding that the era of treating criminals masquerading as freedom fighters in the region with kid gloves was over. 

Consequently, Sunday Punch learnt that more troops and military equipment were moved into the creeks and oil locations of the two states within the week. 

The action, described as “a show of force”, by a source at 93 Battalion, Effurun, Delta State , the headquarters of JTF, Op RH, was meant to send a clear message to the militants that the threat to confront them was not an empty boast.

It would be recalled that the JTF, Op RH in a statement on Thursday, warned the militants against further attacks and criminal activities in the region. 

The security outfit in the statement titled, “Enough is enough” issued by Abubakar, said it was ready to confront the militants with the might at its disposal.   

It warned the militants not to mistake its peaceful gesture for weakness, adding that it had enough human and material resources to tackle them. 

The agency accused the militants of launching premeditated attacks on its locations and the nation’s economic assets in the Niger Delta in recent times, adding that such actions violated the agreement reached in the ongoing peace process in the area. 

Abubakar said, “The JTF is by this release, warning all militants and their cohorts  to stop forthwith, their unprovoked attacks and unpatriotic activities as it is prepared and ready more than ever before to respond to anybody or group that may attack its locations again.   

“Attack on any JTF locations or the destruction of Federal Government assets or property of law abiding citizens, would not just be resisted, but the consequences would be grevious and disastrous on the attackers.  Enough is enough, as a word is enough for the wise. ”

Abubakar, who spoke to one of our correspondents attributed the success of JTF in the Friday’s incident to the alertness of the troops, adding that the agency would not be taken unawares in any part of the region. 

“We have put eyes on them (militants) and we are ready to pay back any attack on our units and oil platforms.  We are serious on that and we hope they would understand and turn a new leaf,” Abubakar added.

82635
NEWS / DANIEL, OBASANJO-BELLO CLASH AT AKALA’S DAUGHTER’S WEDDING
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:19:36 PM »
The timely intervention of Oyo State Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, prevented a major clash between his counterpart in Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Senator Iyabo-Obasanjo Bello, at Ogbomoso, on Saturday.

Both Daniel and the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo were among the hundreds of dignitaries who graced the state wedding organised by Alao-Akala for his daughter, Subulade Olamide and her husband, Mr.  Olayode Alabi.

The governors of Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Kwara states were also at the ceremony while that of Rivers State was represented by his deputy.

Trouble started at the First Baptist Church, Okelerin, Ogbomoso venue of the wedding when the dignitaries joined Alao-Akala for a thanksgiving dance after the couple’s solemnization.

The governors were already on the dancing floor when Obasanjo-Bello, who sat behind the governors at the church, stood up and was dancing towards the altar to drop her offering but was stopped by an aide of Daniel.


Daniel’s security man insisted that she had no right to pass through the dignitaries and that her style of dancing would disturb his boss.

Attempts by Obasanjo-Bello to break the blockade were vehemently resisted by the security man who pushed her away from the scene.

The Senator, who was obviously enraged by the treatment meted out to her by the security man, slapped the man on the chest.  The man, however, moved back to his position.

When she could no longer contain the embarrassing situation, Obasanjo-Bello furiously returned to her seat to watch further proceedings at the wedding service in anger. 

The situation drew the attention of everybody including Alao-Akala, who signaled to the officiating ministers to fast track the event to a close. 

At a point, the Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had to plead with Obasanjo-Bello to come and sit near him when he saw the anger visibly written on her face.

The gesture notwithstanding, Obasanjo-Bello wore a long face through out the occasion.

But Alao-Akala, while reacting to the development through his Special Adviser on Public Communication, Mr.  Dotun Oyelade, described the incident as a little skirmish.

He said, “It was an importation of local politics that would not distract him from the sublime and profound joy that brought the people together at the blessed occasion”.

There was also another drama at the gate of the church when security details of the host governor and one of the governors almost clashed over the right of passage of their principals, after the church service. 

Akala’s security details had allegedly, violently confronted the Chief Security Officer of the governor of one of the neighbouring states who had insisted on his principal leaving the church before the host governor. 

A Chief Security Officer of one of the invited governor’s was manhandled by the security officers of the host governor because the CSO had insisted on clearing the way for his boss. 

Senior security personnel on the occasion had to step in to ensure that peace prevailed. 

Security details at the reception held at Recreation Club, Ogbomoso, were sighted horsewhipping and assaulting guests not withstanding their status for attempting to enter the air-conditioned tent reserved for the VIPs.

Some important dignitaries who could not stomach the insult, had to, out of frustration, leave the scene in anger.

The Grandmaster of Juju Music, Chief Sunday Adeniyi-Adegeye, however, had the shock of his life when the couple rejected his music as they openly expressed their preference for the hip-hop star, 9ice.

82636
NEWS / EFCC CLOSES IN ON RIVERS OFFICIALS
« on: November 16, 2008, 03:18:04 PM »
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is stepping up investigation into allegations of fraud against some top government functionaries in Rivers State.

The EFCC and the state had earlier traded accusations over the N3. 7b scam, following a threat by the former to declare four government officials wanted.

The commission said it was determined to ensure that all those involved in the scam in the state were brought to justice.

The spokesman of the commission, Mr.  Femi Babafemi, told our correspondent in Abuja that EFCC operatives were still trailing the government officials who were allegedly linked with the looting of the state treasury.

Although he declined to give details about EFCC’s next move on the matter, he said the commission was making effort quietly to ensure further investigation of a former governor of the state, Dr.  Peter Odili.

He stated that all appropriate legal means would be explored to ensure that Odili was brought to book very soon.

“I cannot give you details of our operations, but I can assure you that EFCC is taking the matter in Rivers State very seriously.  It is only a matter of time, but we are sure of making a success of the assignment,” he said.

On the volume of case before the commission, Babafemi said it was not possible to give the actual number of such cases, especially the high profile ones.

“The number keeps changing because even right now as we are talking, one cannot determine how many additional cases that have been added.

“Besides, EFCC’s operations cover the country, and a lot is happening in Lagos, Abuja , Port–Harcourt and other operation areas,” he stated.

The commission, he said, could only beam its searchlight on additional cases of corruption  when it received petitions.

He added that a new scheme aimed at equipping the ordinary citizens with skills and confidence to report cases of corruption would soon be implemented by the EFCC.

“We want to reinforce the nation’s collective will to fight corruption.  Under the arrangement, we want to inspire and strengthen thousands of whistle-blowers who can volunteer information that may lead to the investigation and trial of corrupt persons across the country,” he said.

Following the threat by the EFCC to declare officials of the Rivers State wanted, the Accountant-General of the state, Mr.  Ben Goodlife and the Commissioner for Finance Mr Osinachukwu Ideozu last October 16 submitted themselves to the commission for interrogation.

The state governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, had alleged that some politicians in the state wanted him to share out N115billion currently in the state’s treasury.

According to him, the “political gladiators” who had laid some complaints against him before President Umaru Yar’Adua were bent on “bringing down” his government in order to spend the money.

Amaechi’s allegation came after the EFCC detained his Chief of Staff, Mr.  Nyeson Wike and Secretary to the State Government, Magnus Abbe.

Their detention followed the lingering crisis that culmminated in the EFCC freezing two accounts belonging to the state government and another personal account of Wike.  Abbe was later released on bail.

He was eventually arraigned before an Abuja High court for allegedly converting N5billion to his personal account.

82637
SPORTS / PORTSMOUTH EARN LACKLUSTRE POINT AT HAMMERS
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:52:46 PM »
It was tight affair with neither side containing the quality to grab a victory at Upton Park.  The game looked destined for a draw early on and that's how it finished between West Ham United and Portsmouth, 0-0. . . .

Team News

West Ham United
West Ham were able to welcome Valon Behrami back to the team after he missed their last two games with a calf injury.  Jack Collison kept his place after scoring last week against Everton last week.

The only other change for Gianfranco Zola was that he was able to welcome Carlton Cole back to his attack after missing last week’s game through suspension.

Portsmouth
Sol Campbell missed out with a toe injury, which meant to Younes Kaboul started alongside Sylvain Distin.
And Glen Johnson returned and Nadir Belhadj started instead of Niko Krancjar who was dropped to the bench.

First Half
The game started slowly with neither side flying out of the traps.  But Portsmouth soon began to take control of the game as West Ham’s defence found it very hard to keep up with their opponents.

Jermaine Defoe, playing against the side he started at, came closest to take the lead and was a thorn in West Ham’s side for most of the first half.  With 9 minutes gone he had a good chance to score but he put it right and wide.

Armand Traore was an early substitute coming on for Lassana Diarra with just 17 minutes played.  But that didn’t seem to break Portsmouth stride at all who continued to pile pressure on the West Ham backline.

Defoe and Peter Crouch were both proving a handful for West Ham, and both had a couple of half chances which went close to the goal.

Jack Collison and Scott Parker forced saves out of David James, but with both sides were unable to create any magic and the first half fizzled out without either side looking miles ahead of the other, and without either side looking as if they would at any point in the game.

Second Half

As the teams came out for the second half there was one change for West Ham with Matthew Etherington coming on for Fred Sears.

But the change looked to make little difference as Portsmouth continued to put the Hammers under pressure.  Defoe nearly took the lead after he controlled a long ball and tried to lob Robert Green.  It was great thinking by the English striker but it lacked weight and Green was able to touch it over for a corner.

West Ham did start to get more into the game as it progressed but neither side looked like getting a goal with no one able to make something happen to change the game.

Defoe looked dangerous throughout but was unable to beat Green in goal.  The game was played at a high tempo but lacked the quality to get goals.

West Ham pushed on the stronger in the latter stages but were unable to create any chance of great significance, and they couldn’t break down a stubborn Pompey defence.

It finished 0-0, it was destined to end goalless.  Both sides tried to break their opponents down by no one was able to get the vital goal to win the game.


Teams

West Ham United: Robert Green, Herita Ilunga (Julien Faubert 61’), Lucas Neill, Matthew Upson, James Collins, Valon Behrami, Jack Collison, Scott Parker (Hayden Mullins 75’), Fred Sears (Matthew Etherington 46’), Craig Bellamy, Carlton Cole.

Portsmouth: David James, Glen Johnson, Younes Kaboul, Noe Pamarot, Slyvain Distin, Sean Davis, Papa Bouba Diop, Nadir Belhadj, Lassana Diarra (Armand Traore 19’), Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch (Nwanko Kanu 75’).

Referee: Martin Atkinson

West Ham United 0 - 0 Portsmouth

Booked
Portsmouth: Noe Parmarot 38’

82638
SPORTS / I DESERVE BALLON D'OR TOO - IBRAHIMOVIC
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:51:24 PM »
Inter star Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he has nothing less than the likes of Kak? and Ronaldinho and thinks he would deserve to win the Ballon D'Or, though he admits he has to win the Champions League first.

Inter front man Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he is fully deserving of the Ballon D'Or award and that he has nothing less going for him than Ronaldinho or Kak?.

The favorites for this year's award are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but Inter president Massimo Moratti has stated many times that 'Ibra' would be just as deserving to win the coveted individual prize.

"I am certainly worthy of the Ballon D'Or," he told French newspaper L'Equipe.  "I think that Kak? and Ronaldinho have nothing more than me.  I'm at their level and would not look bad alongside them. 

"Unfortunately, to win the Ballon D'Or you need to have won the Champions League, it is a necessary requirement. "

On who he thinks should win the award this year, Ibra said: "I'd give it to Cristiano Ronaldo, although he did not play well at the Euros.  If we were to focus entirely on Euro 2008, then the trophy should go to Iker Casillas. "

82639
SPORTS / TOON SNAGGED BY BRAMBLE
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:50:23 PM »
After the first half, it looked to be Wigan's game, but Emerson Boyce's sending off early in the second half flipped the game on its head; Newcastle managed to go ahead only for Titus Bramble to grab a late goal against his former club to make it 2-2 at the final whistle. . . 

Newcastle United 2-2 Wigan Athletic

Team News

Newcastle United
Joe Kinnear was without influential defender Steven Taylor, which meant a start for Frenchman Sebastien Bassong at centre back alongside Fabricio Coloccini.

Michael Owen was left on the bench again with Shola Ameobi and Obafemi Martins continuing their partnership up front.

Wigan Athletic
Emile Heskey was still out with a hamstring injury, and Amr Zaki wasn’t named in the squad which meant Henri Camara started on his own in attack.   

Paul Scharner returned to the side after coming back from injury.  Ryan Taylor replaced Mario Melchiot at right back, and Oliver Kapo also returned to the team.

First Half
Both sides were looking for redemption after defeats in their last games; Newcastle lost 2-1 to Fulham last weekend in the league and Wigan were looking to gain face back after being outplayed midweek by Arsenal’s young stars.

And it was Wigan who got off to a dream start, taking a 1-0 lead with just two minutes gone in the game.  And it was Ryan Taylor who siezed the initiative with an absolutely stunning finish.  He fired the ball into the top right corner from long range leaving Shay Given stranded on the goalline.

From that point on Wigan looked comfortable, while Newcastle already started looked worn out and lacking invention.

Danny Guthrie came on for Joey Barton 15 minutes in but they made little or no difference.  Newcastle simply couldn’t live with Wigan.  They were unable to gain possession and make anything happen.

Taylor was a constant threat to Newcastle, pushing up at every chance, and Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia had a couple of chances at goal which made Newcastle think.

For Newcastle Damien Duff looked to be the only player who would be able to make something happen.  Just before the half hour, his cross provided an opportunity for the Geordies but Ameobi headed harmlessly over.

Then in injury time the home side had a good chance to level it but Obafemi Martins' shot from close range was well saved by Kirkland, and Nicky Butt’s follow up flew over the bar. 

Second Half
The break seemed to make little difference to the game as Wigan again came out strong and going forward. 

But then, disaster for the visitors when Emerson Boyce got sent off.   He fouled Shola Ameobi to pick up his second booking but replays showed that it wasn’t the best call by the referee.

Newcastle did pick up slight momentum with their player advantage, but failed to create any clear chances, while Wigan still looked dangerous on the counter.

Just after the hour mark Newcastle came close twice.  Duff brought a save out of Kirkland and then hit in a corner which Martins headed over.

Michael Owen then came on and could have made a huge impact straight away.  Obafemi Martins did brilliantly down the left and laid it back perfectly but somehow Owen managed to put the ball wide and waste an easy chance.

Kirkland then had to prevent Owen moments later.  Once again Martins did some good work on the left and Owen managed to head the ball on target only for Kirkland to recover to tip it over.

And then after coming so close twice Owen struck.  Kirkland was unable to hold the first shot coming at him and it spilled out and it was Owen who got to it first to tap it into an open net.   It started to look as if Newcastle could steal this one.

And it was 2-1 with less than five minutes left.  Obafemi Martins had caused Wigan big problems in the second half and he got the goal he deserved when he directed a left footed effort across Kirkland and into the far corner of the goal.

But before Newcastle could settle, Titus Bramble shot down his old club by scoring to make it 2-2.  It was a Wigan corner and Bramble rose above the crowd to direct his header towards goal.  Damien Duff was on the line but the ball could only hit his knee and go into the back of the net.

Danny Guthrie tried his luck from 25 yards out but Kirkland was equal to it and saved it comfortably.  But that was the end of the action, a tremendous second half were anything seemed possible.  Boyce’s sending off had a huge impact but Newcastle deserve praise for the fighting spirit they showed. 


Teams

Newcastle United: Shay Given, Habib Beye, Sebastien Bassong, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique (Charles N’Zogbia 68’), Jonas Gutierrez (Michael Owen 68’), Joey Barton (Danny Guthrie 16’), Nicky Butt, Damien Duff, Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins.

Wigan Atheltic: Chris Kirkland, Ryan Taylor, Titus Bramble, Emmerson Boyce, Maynor Figueroa, Paul Scharner, Oliver Kapo, Daniel De Ridder, Lee Cattermole, Wilson Palacios, Antonio Valencia, Henri Camara.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Newcastle United 2 - 2 Wigan Athletic

Goals

Newcastle United: Michael Owen 80’
                               Obafemi Martins 86’

Wigan Athletic: Ryan Taylor 3’
                          Titus Bramble 88’

Booked

Newcastle United: Habib Beye 49’

Wigan Athletic: Emmerson Boyce 15’
                          Titus Bramble 51’
                          Wilson Palacios 57’

Sent Off
Wigan Atheltic: Emerson Boyce 54’ 

82640
SPORTS / LOTITO: WE ARE NOT SCARED OF ROMA
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:49:14 PM »
Lazio president Claudio Lotito has warned his side not to take notice of being favourites in the Derby Della Capitale as he is not afraid of Roma. . .

The Aquile clash with bitter city rivals Roma tomorrow night in what promises to be one of the best ever Roman derbies.

Although the chief has faith in his sides abilities, he is not taking anything for granted.

Lotito believes that going into the game with the wrong attitude could back-fire.

"All these predictions of being favourites will only serve to lower our guard," Lotito told Radio Radio.

"The derby is a game in itself, a league within a league.  We have to go on that pitch with the knife in between our teeth and fight until the end without giving up.

"We are not scared of anyone and we know how to play a difficult team.  I am confident in Lazio. "

The Biancocelesti will be hoping to continue flying high in Serie A.

It will not be easy though as Roma will want to avoid losing at all costs because anything less than a win could see the Giallorossi drop into the mire.

82641
SPORTS / PLAYER RATINGS: MANCHESTER UNITED 5-0 STOKE CITY
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:47:21 PM »
Manchester United thumped Stoke City 5-0 at Old Trafford this afternoon.  Goal. com rates the participants. . .

MANCHESTER UNITED   

Van der Sar: 6. 0-
Did not look convincing coming off his line but really had nothing to do between the posts today.   

Evra: 6. 5-
Gave away possession far too easily in the first half but rebounded with a good showing in the last 45 minutes.   

Vidic: 6. 5-
Could have had an undisturbed picnic at the back today in what was a relaxing afternoon.   

Evans: 6. 5-
The youngster made his second start of the season and looks like a keeper with his solid, steady play.   

O’Shea: 6. 0-
Looked shaky deputising for Gary Neville this afternoon as he almost headed Delap’s throw into his own net in the 11th minute.   

Park: 7. 0-
He was a bundle of energy down the flanks today was dangerous whenever he touched the ball.   

Carrick: 8. 0-
Took his goal extremely well as he blasted the ball past a helpless Sorensen in the 45th minute.   

Fletcher: 7. 0-
Flexed his muscles in the midfield and controlled the lanes in which Manchester United attacked through.   

Ronaldo: 8. 5-
Was fortunate that his first goal inexplicably went straight through Sorensen’s grasp to open up the scoring but his second was a real beauty.  He was absolutely devastating from set pieces today.   

Tevez: 7. 0-
Failed to find a goal today although not through any lack of effort but his goal drought extends to seven matches.   

Berbatov: 7. 5-
A hint of handball on his goal in the 49th minute but did well to beat Sorensen at the near post.   

SUBS: Welbeck (63”) 7. 0, Gibson (63”) 6. 0, Manucho (75”) 6. 0

STOKE CITY   

Sorenson: 4. 0-
A howler by the Stoke City goalkeeper gifted Man Utd’s first goal of the match and he never looked comfortable after that.   

Abdoulaye Faye: 4. 0-
His needless foul on Tevez led to Ronaldo’s goal early in the match and set the stage for United’s onslaught.   

Shawcross: 5. 0-
Was overrun by Berbatov and Tevez and was caught out of position on a regular basis.   

Higginbotham: 5. 0-
The former Man Utd trainee was second best all evening and had no answer for the Red Devils quick fire attack.   

Griffin 5. 0-
The captain was run ragged by Ronaldo all afternoon and failed to inspire his team when they fell a goal behind early in the game.   

Amdy Faye: 5. 0-
Lost the midfield battle to Fletcher and Carrick and will not be pleased with his performance.   

Diao: 4. 0- 
Ballooned a shot over the crossbar from just outside of the area in the 10th minute when the match was still in reach.   

Delap: 5. 0-
A one trick pony who caused a problem or two in the first half but really is a below average midfielder at best.   

Olofinjana: 5. 0-
He never really got into the match and was substituted off in the 31st minute due to an injury.   

Sidibe: 5. 0-
He was anonymous for long stretches of the match and made no impression whatsoever.   

Fuller: 5. 0-
The Jamaican international was starved of service upfront and never really threatened the United goal.   

SUBS: Cresswell (31”) 5. 0, Kitson (68”) 5. 0, Wilkenson (79”) 5. 0

82642
SPORTS / WE SHOULD HAVE KILLED THEM OFF - RANGERS BOSS SMITH
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:45:49 PM »
Rangers boss Walter Smith was again left to rue missed chances after his side almost let St Mirren away from Ibrox with a point. . .

Rangers were two-up within ten minutes through Kris Boyd and Steven Davis, but couldn't finish off the Buddies, who eventually got one back thanks to Franco Miranda.

A stunning Allan McGregor save kept the resurgent Saints at bay at the death, but boss Walter Smith was far from pleased.

“We started well with a couple of good finishes, but we didn't take our opportunities thereafter,” he told BBC Scotland after the game.  “We've had too many games like this.

“At the start of the second half we should have scored – we had the chances – and the concern is that we're not killing off teams.

“Then they came back at us, which is always the danger. ”

Indeed, Kenny Miller and Barry Ferguson missed near-sitters when Boyd was better placed in the middle, with Nacho Novo also wasting a good chance.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson added: “'Like Walter said, when they missed the chances we took confidence from that.  We'd had visions of six goals after the opening. . . what can you do when you start like that?”

Rangers have nevertheless closed Celtic's advantage at the top of the SPL table to a single point, although the Hoops will play their game in hand against lowly Hamilton on Sunday.

82643
SPORTS / GOAL.COM SPECIAL: OLYMPIAKOS VS PAOK PREVIEW
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:43:53 PM »
It is one of the fiercest rivalries in Greek football, arguably eclipsing all but the Olympiakos-Panathinaikos clash for the sheer interest and passion that it generates.  As Piraeus giants Olympiakos and Thessaloniki powerhouse PAOK prepare to face each other on Sunday, Goal. com’s Chris Paraskevas delivers for you a special preview…

It is perhaps ironic that the geography that distinguishes these two clubs is the source – and barrier – of what is considered to be one of the biggest encounters on the Hellenic football calendar.

Whilst the two clubs find themselves just over 300 miles apart, it is a geographical divide that is reflective of the subsequent socio-cultural clash between the two cities of Athens and Thessaloniki.

The football pitch is one medium through which such a rivalry has manifested itself through years of on and off-pitch history.

Fans from northern Greece might point to a perceived superiority complex within the Athenian football sphere, with the roots of arguments about “marginalization” of teams outside the capital stretching back as far as 1927, when AEK, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos all pulled out of the Greek championship apparently due to its lack of financial strength.

All three clubs have gone on to dominate the Greek football landscape, none more so than Olympiakos, whose failed attempt to sign PAOK legend and Greece international Giorgos Koudas during the 1960s added fuel to a fiery relationship.

Such antagonism is undoubtedly reciprocated, given contextual richness by the success-laden history of the Piraeus club.

The fact that PAOK – widely seen as the only legitimate challengers to the perpetual dominance of football through the nation’s capital – are not without a rich domestic culture and European pedigree of their own, assures this inter-city rivalry of a constant source of intrigue…

Winning Formula

October 16, 2005 was the last time that PAOK beat Olympiakos at the Giorgios Karaiskakis Stadium – their first victory there in 29 years.

It is not so much the statistical record but a psychological burden that makes the Karaiskaki such a difficult place for any side to travel to: like so many of the world’s greatest football theatres – whilst it is not impossible to get a positive result within its intimidating confines, it is a rare occasion when a fellow Greek side walks into it genuinely believing that they can extract from it a positive result.

Whilst Olympiakos have not been in particularly convincing form this season and have largely struggled in Europe and relied on patches of quality domestically, there is an air of inevitability that they will secure their 12th league championship in 13 years on the back of their sheer squad depth and quality.

It is a formula which has served them well in recent years whilst they have exuded more energy on the lucrative European stage, and given the absence of Champions League football and its associated anxieties this season, there is no logical reason to suggest that Valverde won’t end up with at least one trophy during his first season in the port city of Piraeus.

Their utterly disjointed and at times cynical performance should have seen them beaten comprehensively by a resurgent Panathinaikos last week but one of their worst performances of the season – in one of their most important games of the season – was good enough for a scoreless draw away from home.

And in Ernesto Valverde, they have a discerning manager whose experiences at the highest level of Spanish football should give them the edge in the more demanding of domestic encounters.

Rebirth

By the standards of their proud history, PAOK’s recent existence as a football club has not done justice to their fanatical fan-base and sheer size.

Their barren financial and on-pitch fortunes have been forgotten, however, in the wake of an administrative resurgence lead by former PAOK legend and Euro 2004-winning captain Theodoros Zagorakis, whose takeover of the club has seen it transformed into a genuine contender for European football and, given time, domestic silverware.

His Euro 2004 teammate Zisis Vryzas has spearheaded the most astute recruitment drive of all of the Greek clubs during the summer, with the capture of a host of top-class footballers galvanizing Fernando Santos’ side.

The Portuguese manager worked wonders with AEK before his failed tenure at Benfica and his brand of pragmatic, disciplined football has served PAOK well so far.

Currently sitting in second-place and sharing the league’s best defensive record with only three goals conceded after nine games, an uncompromising and mistake-free display will be the likely approach by Santos’ men as they prepare for their toughest test of the season so far – it might also be worth noting that they have failed to beat both Panathinaikos and AEK Athens at home this season, drawing on both occasions.


FORM GUIDE

Olympiakos

Oct 19    Olympiakos    2 - 0    Panthrakikos (Greek Super League)
Oct 23    Galatasaray    1 - 0    Olympiakos (UEFA Cup)
Oct 26    Aris                1 - 0    Olympiakos (Greek Super League)
Nov 2     Olympiakos    2 - 0    Ergotelis (Greek Super League)
Nov 9     Panathinaikos    0 – 0    Olympiakos (Greek Super League)

PAOK

Oct 4    Ergotelis    0 – 0    PAOK (Greek Super League)
Oct 19  PAOK    0-0    Panathinaikos (Greek Super League)
Oct 25  PAOK    3 - 1    Levadiakos (Greek Super League)
Nov 2   Iraklis    1 - 1    PAOK (Greek Super League)
Nov 8   PAOK    2 – 0    Panionios (Greek Super League)


TEAM NEWS

Olympiakos

Euro 2004-winning goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis and current Greece international Vasilis Torosidis appear to have overcome their respective injury concerns but the news is not so good for veteran Ieroklis Stoltidis; he looks set to miss the Sunday clash along with injured trio Michal Zewlakow, Leonardo and Konstantinos Mitroglou.

PAOK

Fernando Santos has the luxury of choosing from a full-strength squad, with the only notable absentee Vieirinha, who picked up an injury during a home win over Aris in Round 4.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Olympiakos

Brazilian striker Diogo certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded his summer move from Portuguesa, though he has shown sporadic flashes of quality in front of goal.  The persistent rumours about European scouts might spur the 21 year-old on to a more influential performance, the type of which has been sorely missing during his first season at the Giorgios Karaiskakis Stadium.  He certainly has something to prove.

PAOK

Zlatan Muslimovic has arguably been the buy of the Greek Super League season, with his five goals propelling PAOK to an unprecedented second place and a realistic hope of European football.  Consistently his side’s most potent attacking threat, his style of finishing is reflective of the fact that he has played Serie A football, giving his side a quality in the final third of the pitch that is a pre-requisite for success on the Greek domestic scene.


PREDICTION

One can’t shake the feeling that Olympiakos simply don’t lose these types of matches very often, particularly not in recent years and particularly not at home (sentiments would change significantly if the setting for Sunday’s match was the Toumba Stadium).

It should be a tight encounter and if PAOK can produce their best performance of the season against an out-of-sorts Olympiakos, they might be able to snatch a draw in Piraeus.

Otherwise, this should be a typical derby win for Valverde’s men, with a two-goal margin likely to decide an essentially tactical affair.

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SPORTS / TOTTI AND DE ROSSI MAKE DERBY SQUAD
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:42:22 PM »
Roma legend Francesco Totti is likely to feature at some point during tomorrow night's Derby against Lazio, even though he is struggling with an injury. . .

Roma captain Francesco Totti had to abandon the training pitch on Friday after he went down with a knee problem.

Totti has been suffering from the same on-going injury all season and there were fears he would be forced to skip the game of the season thus far.

However, after a number of tests and exercises, the captain has been included in Luciano Spalletti's squad list.

The former Italian international trained as normal with the rest of the team during Saturday afternoon and no problems were reported.

Daniele De Rossi has also been given the nod.  His wrist injury is not as bad as at first thought, and he may feature.

Rodrigo Taddei has also been struggling to make the grade. 

However, Alberto Aquilani will have to watch from the stands as he has not been able to shake off a muscular problem.

Spalletti is likely to put together a makeshift side for the game.  Roma are desperate for points as well as some pride.

A win is neccessary in order to stop them falling into the drop zone - and to restore some confidence in the team.

They are currently 14 points behind Lazio.

Mirko Vucinic has said that his side's ambition was to finish second in Serie A but that will seem unlikely if they fail to do the business.

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SPORTS / CENTRAL COAST COACH MCKINNA RELISHING MELBOURNE CLASH
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:40:48 PM »
Central Coast Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna is relishing next Friday’s top of the table clash with Melbourne Victory following his side’s 3-0 home win over Adelaide United.

After a somewhat tepid start to the A League season, the Central Coast Mariners look to be hitting their stride and have now moved up to second in the table, three points behind current leaders Melbourne.   

Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Asian Champions League finalists Adelaide at the Bluetongue stadium has given the New South Wales side renewed confidence ahead of next Friday’s clash at the Telstra Dome.   

"We love playing down there, it’s a huge game," McKinna said.   "We’re going down knowing what to expect.  We can get a result. "

The Mariners' head coach was also full of praise for his side following their win over Adelaide in Gosford, which was secured thanks to goals from Matt Simon, Sasho Petrovski and Adrian Caceres.   

"Our front three were outstanding," he said.   "They do a lot of defensive work, it gives us great options.   Defenders hate playing guys with huge workrates. "

His Adelaide counterpart Aurelio Vidmar on the other hand admitted that his side needed to regroup quickly following the disappointment of the past two weeks.   

"We’re back to a semi-normal routine now, the next few weeks are crucial for us," he said. 

"There’s been a lot of pressure on the players but I can’t complain with the effort.  We’ve always struggled with Central Coast.  They came out and tried to hit us hard. "

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SPORTS / FERGUSON: RONALDO BACK TO HIS BEST
« on: November 15, 2008, 07:39:16 PM »

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he believes Cristiano Ronaldo is back to his best after watching him net a brace against Stoke City this afternoon.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a trademark free-kick only three minutes into the game at Old Trafford as Manchester United cruised to a five-goal victory.

Ronaldo was also on target with another free-kick at the end of the game to grab his ninth goal of the season.

According to the club’s official website, manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he feels Ronaldo is back to the sort of form that saw him score 42 goals for the Red Devils last season. 

“You saw his celebration, he was very pleased and the crowd were delighted,” said the Scot before adding, “"He's on fire now, he's back.  He's overcome his operation and he is getting quicker with every game.  His fitness levels are fantastic.  The boy is back. ”

Goals from Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and a debut goal by Danny Welbeck sealed the win against a Stoke City that had previously beaten Arsenal and secured a draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

The champions coped well with the physical threat offered by the Potters and Ferguson admitted his side had prepared well for the threat of Rory Delap’s infamous throw-ins.  He said: “We did some work on it during the week.  We handled the throw-ins very well - I think the crowd helped us there!”

The result sees United leapfrog Arsenal into third in the table and next up for the Red Devils is a trip to Villa Park to face Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa.

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GAMES / Re: POST ANY WORD THAT END WITH "RY"
« on: November 13, 2008, 05:46:23 PM »
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GAMES / Re: POST ANY WORD THAT END WITH "RY"
« on: November 13, 2008, 05:42:06 PM »
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GAMES / Re: POST ANY WORD THAT END WITH "RY"
« on: November 13, 2008, 05:40:35 PM »
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SPORTS / JUDO STAR NEEDS DALAI LAMA’S HELP
« on: November 09, 2008, 08:41:51 PM »
Even Olympic gold medallists sometimes need a little spiritual guidance.

AFP reports that Japanese judo star Satoshi Ishii made a surprise appearance at a speech by the Dalai Lama, asking Tibet‘s exiled spiritual leader for clues on how to achieve peace of mind.

”Hello, I am Ishii,” he told the Dalai Lama after joining a queue of people waiting to ask the Nobel laureate questions.

”I had a big turning point, and now I don‘t know what to do.  So I have received advice from many people,” said the star, who announced this week that he would switch to the cash-rich world of mixed martial arts.

”After listening to advice, I wonder whether I should make a decision for myself, or I should sometimes yield to the powerful.  Please tell me,” he asked.

The Dalai Lama replied, ”Ultimately, your own investigation – that‘s most important. ”

”Yes, you can dig ideas with people, but finally, you must base your decision on experiments, then decide,” said the Dalai Lama, who was on a one-week trip to Japan.

Ishii was one of only two Japanese who made the podium in men‘s Judo at the August Beijing Olympics, where he competed at the top level for the first time.

His decision to switch to mixed martial arts – which is still widely seen as a make-believe sport designed largely for television – disappointed many in the homeland of tradition-bound judo.

Japan‘s judo establishment bans professionals in any other combat sport from competing under its auspices, making it impossible for Ishii to go for another gold at the 2012 London Olympics if he makes the switch.

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