December 15, 2008

Tottenham 0 United 0 United were unable to secure the perfect send-off to Japan for the Club World Cup after being held to a goalless draw by Spurs a

The champions were strangely out-of-sorts for much of the game and were uncharacteristically sloppy in possession in a scrappy first half.

The game improved as a spectacle as the game wore on but the Reds found Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes in inspired form and missed out on the chance to close the gap on Liverpool at the top.

United would have been spurred on before kick-off by news of the leaders’ home draw with Hull, and a stronger-than-anticipated line-up took to the field at White Hart Lane.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s pre-match injury fears did not materialise as Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov all started, the latter two against their former club.

Berbatov was booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball and struggled to impose himself on the game, although his link-up play often threatened to open Spurs up.

Ji-sung Park, making his 100th United appearance, had an early shot which took a deflection and looped just over his former PSV team-mate Gomes’ bar.

David Bentley then tried his luck with a left-footed volley from 25 yards, but Edwin van der Sar was alert to parry the effort.

Spurs, already without injured captain Ledley King, suffered another blow after 10 minutes when Jonathan Woodgate was forced off after jarring his knee and was replaced by Tom Huddlestone.

But the home side’s depleted defence contained United well for the majority of the first half. On a lush playing surface the champions sprayed the ball around but failed to break down Spurs' cagey 4-5-1 formation and seriously test Gomes.

Indeed, it was Spurs who had the best chance on the half-hour mark as Aaron Lennon darted infield and his shot from 18 yards forced van der Sar into a superb save low down to his right.

Carlos Tevez looked determined to take advantage of a starting berth in place of the suspended Wayne Rooney, and one scampering run down the left saw the striker beat three men before firing narrowly over from an acute angle.

Seven minutes before the break Luka Modric escaped Ferdinand in the box but headed Didier Zokora’s cross wide when well placed.

At the other end neat interplay involving Tevez and Ronaldo opened Spurs up, but Gomes did well to cut out the latter’s cross from the left of the box.

Berbatov exploded into life in one second-half moment as he evaded his marker in the centre circle, charged down on goal, only to be denied by a last-ditch Michael Dawson tackle.

Ronaldo blasted the ball home from Park’s resultant corner but referee Mike Dean ruled the winger had initially controlled the ball with his hand. On this occasion it was definitely accidental. at Gomes.

Rafael picked up United’s first booking for bringing down Lennon and, from the free-kick, van der Sar was forced to scramble across goal to tip over Bentley’s effort.

Ferguson, back on the touchline following his two-game ban, made a double substitution with 20 minutes left in a bid to inject life into a game that was ebbing away. Off came Tevez and Darren Fletcher, to be replaced by veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

The move almost paid instant dividends as Nemanja Vidic got a firm header to Giggs’ whipped-in cross from the left, but Gomes held on well.

With 15 minutes left Ferdinand had a great chance to break the deadlock but headed Giggs’ cross inches over at the near post. Gomes was again called upon to tip over Park’s stinging drive as United strove for a late winner.

But the Reds were almost punished in the dying minutes as Modric drove forward and his deflected shot landed on the roof of the net, with van der Sar beaten.

The game’s final chance fell to Giggs, whose curled free-kick looked destined for the top corner but was tipped over superbly by Gomes.

Klitschko retains crown in style

Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko retained his WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles in Mannheim, Germany with a technical knockout of Hasim Rahman in round seven on Saturday.

Ukraine’s Vitali Klitschko (left) and WBC champion Samuel Peter, during a press conference in Berlin, Germany

The referee stopped the fight after Klitschko, 32, landed a series of punches to Rahman’s head and the American retreated to the ropes, barely able to stand. The Ukrainian had already knocked him down in round six.

“I thought I could land some punches earlier but it wasn’t worth it because Hasim Rahman knew he was up against the best and he was really focused, you could see that,” Klitschko, who has been dubbed ‘Dr. Steelhammer,’ told Reuters.

“He really hung in there and it wasn’t easy.” Klitschko told after improving his record to 52 wins and three defeats.

Rahman was unable to get past Klitschko’s left jab to land the kind of big punch that saw him beat world champion Lennox Lewis in 2001, when he knocked out the Briton with a right hook to record one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

Rahman, 36, had never really regained that form. He replaced Alexander Povetkin as Klitschko’s opponent in October after the Russian pulled out of the bout with a foot injury.

Miley Cyrus Hired for Law Firm's Holiday Party

Houston, you have a pop star. Well, at least a high-powered Houston lawyer does.

E! News has learned that Miley Cyrus is in Houston to perform at a private holiday party being thrown Sunday night by Houston attorney Mark Lanier.

A source in Texas says that Cyrus and her entourage arrived Saturday and she is set to perform tonight at Lanier Law Firm's "Christmas Cheers and Charity" party, an annual fete that hosts more than 7,000 guests.

Invitations went out last month featuring a pop-up Cyrus and promising "Texas Bar-B-Q, fajitas and amusements."

The source estimates that Cyrus, 16, and her team of dancers and musicians will receive "close to $1 million" to perform at tonight's exclusive bash.

The party, which benefits the charity Guatemala SANA for needy Guatemalans, is no small affair. Previous guests include Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks. It will take place at a sprawling ranch in suburban Houston.

Ajah land owners task Fashola

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has been urged to publish and implement the report of Justice Morounkeji Onalaja panel of inquiry that was set up following a protracted crisis in Ajah.
The head of the Abereoje family, Chief Mukadaisi Abereoje, who made this call at a press briefing in Lagos, said the request, if considered, would help to douse the tension in the area.

He also called on the state government to caution notable personalities in the area, whom he alleged had commenced violent activities in Ajah.

The personalities, he alleged had mobilised their men to Ajiwe, where they pulled down fences, securing properties sold to tenants by the Abereoje family.

Abereoje said the land fell within what had been excised to the family (Abereoje) by the state government, being a part of the terms of settlement entered with the family to foster peace in Ajah.

He said the family had written to the state government through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Supo Sasore, on the issue but was directed to forward the complaints to the Nigerian Police.

He said when he contacted the Nigerian Police, no meaningful headway could be achieved, as the Police claimed they could not arrest anyone on the issue.

Based on this development, Abereoje called on the Fashola-led administration to take concrete steps to address the issue.

Global financial crisis: Experts task banks over risk management

In order to avoid being negatively affected by the on-going global financial crisis, a Deputy-Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Onyebuchi Ibedu, has called on Nigerian banks and other financial institutions to exhibit professionalism in the management of the risks involved in their daily operations.

Ibedu said if the nation’s financial institutions could come out with a blue print on risk management, the rampaging global financial meltdown would be curtailed drastically and the impact would not be severe on the nation’s economy.

Ibedu, who stated this on Friday in Lagos during the Risk Management Association of Nigeria’s annual president’s dinner, explained that the financial meltdown, no matter the plan to avoid it, would have its impact on the Nigerian economy.

According to him, “The impact is here with the oil prices falling from almost $150 per barrel to a sum less than $44 per barrel within a short period of time.

“ Nigeria ’s economy can not be insulated from the rest of the world. Moreover, we are a one commodity country, so the impact is real and is being felt already, with falling oil prices and crashing stocks.”

He pointed out that 2009 and beyond might be worse because of the impact of the meltdown, adding that “growth rate will go down, things will be tighter, but the CBN is making frantic efforts to ensure that the country’s economy is not affected to the extent of a recession.”

According to him, the western economies are experiencing the meltdown, due to the failure of regulators to handle the issue with all seriousness.

Ibedu said for effective management of risk in the nation’s financial institutions, all hands must be on deck to avoid unforeseen situation.

He challenged risk managers to double their efforts, stressing that there was a need to leverage on the errors of the developed economies in building the Nigerian economy.

Executive Director, Risk Management, Equitorial Trust Bank Limited, Mr. Sridhar Kalyanasundaram, explained that different types of risks impacted on a bank’s operational continuity.

According to him, risks such as physical issues (people, premises and peripheral issues); as well as technical issues (liquidity, reputation, legal/regulatory issues); infringe seriously on the workability of any organisation.

He, however, said there was the need for business continuity management, stressing that it was a holistic management process that identified potential threats to an organisation and its impact on business operations.

This, he noted, provided a framework for building organisational resilience with the capability for an effective response.

He called for better policy implementation in the areas of risk management that could have a lasting positive effect on the nation’s economy.

The Anglican bishop of Pretoria, Joe Seoka, said President Mugabe ”must be viewed as the 21st century Hitler” because of the deaths and suffering of Zimbabweans under his rule.

Bishop Seoka‘s comments followed the 84-year-old‘s claim that the cholera crisis in his country ”is over”.

Mugabe‘s denial of the epidemic came as the WHO released new figures showing that 16,700 people have been infected with the disease and at least 792 have died.

Seoka urged people to gather on South Africa‘s National Day of Reconciliation on December 16 to pray for Mugabe‘s forced removal from power.

”He must be removed by all means necessary to stop further suffering of God‘s children and save lives,” he said.

The US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, said the country was now close to becoming a failed state. Speaking during a visit to Washington, he said Mugabe had ”outlived his usefulness in Zimbabwe.”

Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has suggested that South Africa and Zimbabwe‘s other neighbours seal their borders with the troubled country to increase the pressure on Mugabe.

The official said the closure of the borders would ”bring the economy to its knees” within a week.

South Africa, which has been forced to declare a disaster zone on its northern border because of the flood of Zimbabweans pouring into the country with cholera, is reluctant to sanction tougher action against Mugabe.

As the regional powerbroker, the country is still focusing on the stalled power sharing deal that would result in the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, joining a coalition government.

Under the deal, Mr Mugabe would remain as President and retain most of his powers

Menwhile, the Zimbabwean government on Saturday accused the West of deliberately starting the country‘s cholera epidemic, stepping up a war of words with the regime‘s critics as the humanitarian crisis deepened.

The state-run Herald newspaper said comments by the U.S. ambassador that the U.S. had been preparing for the outbreak raised suspicions the West had waged ”serious biological chemical war.”

Zimbabwean officials often blame their country‘s troubles on the West. Their stranglehold on most sources of news to which ordinary Zimbabweans have access makes such rhetoric an important tool for a regime struggling to hold onto power.

After the first cholera cases, U.S. and other aid workers braced for the waterborne disease to spread quickly in an economically ravaged country where the sewage system and medical care have collapsed. Zimbabwe also faces a hunger crisis, the world‘s highest inflation and shortages of both the most basic necessities and the cash to buy them.

The Herald quoted the information minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, as blaming cholera on ”serious biological chemical war ... a genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British.”

”Cholera is a calculated racist terrorist attack on Zimbabwe by the unrepentant former colonial power which has enlisted support from its American and Western allies so that they invade the country,” Ndlovu was quoted as saying.

Experts, however, blame the epidemic on Zimbabwe‘s economic collapse. The WHO said Friday the death toll was at 792 and that the number of cholera cases that have been reported since the outbreak began in August was now 16,700. The epidemic has reached a fatality rate of 4.7 percent. To be under control it would have to be less than 1 per cent, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said Friday.

Yar’Adua may lose power to appoint INEC chairman, IG

President Umaru Yar’Adua and his successors may lose some of their executive powers going by fresh facts in the report of the presidential panel on electoral reform submitted to him last week.

The panel, which was chaired by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Uwais, recommended that Nigerian Presidents be stripped of powers to appoint the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

It also suggested a modification to the way in which the Inspector-General of Police was appointed and supervised.

Yar’Adua, while receiving the report on Thursday, promised its full implementation as part of his administration’s commitment to break with the past on the conduct of elections in the country.

The panel, in the 297-page report obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, said the existing method of appointing the INEC chairman and the IG was at the heart of Nigeria’s persistent electoral crises.

It, therefore, suggested that the power to appoint the INEC boss should be vested in the National Judicial Council so as to eliminate Executive meddlesomeness in the activities of the electoral body.

The committee believes that to safeguard the independence of the electoral commission, the NJC should be empowered to advertise and shortlist candidates for the proposed 13-member INEC.

Furthermore, the panel said Section 84 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to read, “The election expenditure and the recurrent expenditure of INEC officers (in addition to the salaries and allowances of the chairman and other members) shall be First Charge on the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.”

Under the constitution, the INEC chairman is appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate, while the IG is also appointed by the President based on the advice of the Nigerian Police Council.

By the new membership composition proposed by the panel, the electoral commission would comprise a chairman and deputy chairman (one of which must be a woman) nominated by the general public but shortlisted by the NJC and six commissioners representing the six geo-political zones but shortlisted by the NJC after nominations by the public.

Others are one nominee of civil society organisations working in the area of elections, one nominee of labour organisations, one nominee of the Nigerian Bar Association, one nominee of women organisations and one nominee of the media.

The report added that once appointed, no organisation shall have the power to recall its nominee.

The NJC, according to the panel, should be made to advertise the positions of the INEC chairman, his deputy and those of six other commissioners whom, it said, should come from the each of the six geo-political zones.

In detailing the nomination and appointment process of the INEC boss and other members of the commission, the committe stated as follows:

“ For the INEC chairman, vice-chairman and six commissioners representing each of the six geopolitical zones, the National Judicial Council should:

- Advertise all the positions, spelling out requisite qualifications;

- Receive applications/nominations from the general public;

- Shortlist three persons for each position; and

- Send nomination to the National Council of State to select one from the shortlist and forward the name to the Senate for clearance.

“For the nominee of civil society working in the area of elections, one nominee of labour organisations, one nominee of the NBA, one nominee of women organisations and one nominee of the media.

“Each of the professional bodies should send three nominations to the NJC which shall screen them and make appropriate recommendations to the NCS. The council of state shall further screen and recommend one name for each category to the Senate for confirmation.

“The chairman and member of the board of INEC may only be removed by the Senate on the recommendation of the NJC by two-thirds majority of the Senate, which shall include 10 members of the minority parties in the Senate,” the report added.

On IG’s appointment, the panel recommended that he or she “should be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Police Service Commission to the National Police Council, which in turn shall forward the nomination to the Senate for confirmation.

It said, “His or her removal from office should also be by two-thirds votes of the Senate after investigation establishing his or her misconduct.

“The independence of the Police Force should be guaranteed by strengthening its autonomy from control of government of the day. The security of tenure of top police officers and prevention of harassment of police officers on account of professional discharge of their duties should also be guaranteed.

“Provisions of the Police Act which vests the operational control of the Police in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are in contravention of the 1999 Constitution. They should, therefore, be amended.”

The 22-man committee had, while submitting the report to Yar’Adua, recommended the adoption of proportional representation, the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission, Political Parties Registration and Regulation Commission and Constituency Delimitation Commission, and the introduction of independent candidacy, among others.

Gunmen kill NYSC member at viewing centre

The peace of Awka, the Anambra State capital, was shattered on Saturday night when two young men walked into a television viewing centre at Amaenyi and shot dead a young man, said to be a member of the National Youth Service Corps.

Events at the centre seemed to be normal until the incident after the live screening of the match between Tottenham and Hotspurs that ended in a goalless draw, before the incident occurred.

The scores of young people, mainly students and football enthusiasts, were leaving the centre in trickles, when two unidentified boys walked into the centre and shot their victim.

Unsure that the first shot could be fatal enough, the gunmen shot repeatedly at the young man in the head before running out of the place.

Some of the people at the centre, who had scampered for safety after the invasion by the gunmen, later returned to the spot to carry the deceased to hospital.

But their effort proved futile as he died before they could get medical attention. They returned the corpse to the centre, where it was till the following morning.

Plainclothes officers from the State Homicide Department came in about 11am on Sunday to examine the corpse before taking it away.

They were accompanied by some relatives of the deceased, who broke down in tears intermittently.

Saturday’s night incident came barely two days after suspected campus cultists shot and seriously wounded a student of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, believed to be the leader of the Vikings, a campus cult group.

It could not be confirmed if Saturday night’s incident was a reaction to Thursday’s attack.