December 16, 2008

Gamba Osaka: Alex Ferguson Is Only Human - We Are Not Afraid Asian Champions Gamba Osaka are not quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing Euro

The Japanese team laboured to a 1-0 win over Adelaide United on Sunday and are ready to step up a gear against the English giants.

"We have nothing to lose and we'll go all out, leave everything out there on the pitch,” Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi told reporters.

"We don't want to be thinking we should have done this and that after the match, and as long as we're playing them, we'll play to win. But we need to make sure we don't play like we did against Adelaide."

At the same stage last year, fellow J-League club Urawa Reds lost 1-0 to AC Milan.

That result gave coach Akira Nishino confidence that he can put one over on Alex Ferguson.

"Ferguson may be Ferguson, but I like to think he's also human," Nishino said. "The same goes for Man U and Gamba. We don't want to play afraid."

Inter: We're not interested in Drogba

Inter Milan do not want to sign Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, the Serie A club's sporting director said on Monday.

Inter coach and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho hinted on Sunday that misfiring Brazil striker Adriano may be allowed to leave the Italian champions, sparking speculation of a swap deal with Drogba.

"There's no dream for Drogba. Inter already has a group of strikers covering the whole range of characteristics," Marco Branca was quoted as saying on Inter's website.

"Drogba is a Chelsea player and for many years he has been doing very well in London. We have our strikers who are doing just as well."

Media reports last month said Drogba, whose season has been disrupted by injury and suspension, had held a meeting with Branca in a London restaurant.

Argentine forward Hernan Crespo has been little used by Inter this season and Branca said he may be able to leave.

"We have realised that the number of injuries has been high in recent years. We need every player and we won't be putting any player on the market," he said.

"We only will do if a player asks to leave, in which case we will try to satisfy him."

Hollywood Wiretapper Gets 15 Years in Prison

His clients' curiosity is what killed Anthony Pellicano's career.

The former investigator-to-the-stars was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after two trials led to convictions on dozens of felony conspiracy, racketeering and wiretapping charges in connection with cases that over the years ensnared Hollywood power players such as Chris Rock, Sylvester Stallone, Gary Shandling and Paramount honcho Brad Grey.

Pellicano engaged in "reprehensible conduct for many years—eagerly, maliciously and with great pride," said U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer in imposing the stiff sentence, which will end up being more along the lines of 13 years due to certain federal reductions, according to prosecutors.

Defense attorney Michael Artan promised to appeal his client's "excessive" punishment.

Pellicano has been in custody for nearly five years. While wrapping up a stretch behind bars for illegally possessing explosives, he was indicted in 2004 on more than 100 counts for going to the ends of the illegal earth for his deep-pocketed clients.

Falling naira: Marketers seek revaluation of N62bn debts

Oil marketers are poised for a confrontation with the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency over outstanding debts of N62bn on petroleum subsidy.

The marketers want the sum revalued based on the current exchange rate, as the products suppliers would have to be paid in dollars, and they would need more naira to purchase dollars.

With the current exchange rate, the marketers said the all the burden of the falling value of the naira would be borne by them alone, insisting that the PPPRA, managers of the Petroleum Support Fund, should pay interest on outstanding debts by way of revaluation.

However, PPPRA officials told our correspondent on the telephone that it was not feasible to revalue the debts, as the process for paying the outstanding sum had gone too far.

According to the Manager, Public Affairs, PPPRA, Mr. Yusuf Muazu, “It is not feasible for now because the issue now is to raise funds to pay the outstanding debts and the process has gone very far.”

He explained that for the agency to consider such an option, it would mean retrieving all the documents relating to the outstanding debts and re-computing the amount all over again before passing them for necessary approvals.

The marketers’ grouse is based on the fact that the outstanding sum was computed at N118 to $1, whereas the dollar is now above N130.

The noted that if they were paid based on the old rate, they would be unable to meet their liabilities to the suppliers, who would be paid in dollars.

Although the PPPRA based landing costs at N124.66 to $1 on the template posted on its website, industry sources hinted that the agency had agreed to review the exchange rate to N127 to $1.

But Muazu noted, “The PPPRA does not compute the exchange rate on its own, it works with the exchange rate provided by the CBN, and the new exchange rate will take effect when the CBN approves it.”

Besides, he stated that the marketers had not asked for debt revaluation, adding that the agency would not on its own initiate such a move.

Confirming the outstanding debts, the PPPRA said efforts to pay off the N62bn had gone very far such that “marketers would be paid any moment from now.”

Nonetheless, the marketers insist that even if the amount was not revalued, they should be paid interest on the sum, as this was the practice set by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which paid interests to contractors whenever it defaulted in payment.

While waiting to sort out the issues with the PPPRA, the marketers have asked for permission to purchase dollars directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable them continue to import petroleum products and to avert possible scarcity.

The request is coming on the heels of the continued fall of the naira to the dollar at the money market.

Making the appeal on Monday in Lagos, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, told journalists that this was the only way the marketers could sustain products supply in the system.

He said, “We (importers) are owing the suppliers and have to pay for the products in dollars, whereas we are being paid at an old rate of N118 to $1, who bears the burden of the difference between the old and the new exchange rates?

“That is why we are asking the PPPRA to pay us interest on the outstanding debts or do a revaluation of the amount owed.”

Speaking on the over N300m to be refunded by the marketers in view of the falling price of crude at the international oil market and the possibility of the PPPRA netting it off from the outstanding debts, Olawore said marketers were ready to pay back.

He said, “We are ready to pay back, but the PPPRA should calculate the interest on the over-due debts.”

Baby abandoned in Oyo becomes US citizen

A one day-old baby who was abandoned by an unknown person about four years ago at the Molete area of Ibadan, Oyo State, has been adopted by a couple based in the United States of America.

The baby, was later named Ona-Ara by the officials of the Care People Foundation who put him at the Motherless Babies Home run by the Bible Way Christian Church near the toll gate end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The General Overseer of the church, Rev. Tunde Toluwani Oginni, disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Monday during the All Oyo State Carnival for the Disabled, Motherless and the Less Privileged, sponsored by him.

Oginni explained that Ona-Ara was picked up in the early hours of the fateful day, a few hours after his birth.

He was then taken to the motherless babies’ home where he grew up to become a good looking young boy.

The cleric said a bishop who is based in the USA and had been married for 20 years without a baby, came to Nigeria in August this year with his wife and developed interest in Baby Ona-Ara.

According to him, the couple was in the country on the invitation of the church and they fell in love with the baby the moment they sighted him.

He said, “They discussed with the management of the home and necessary legal and constitutional documents were perfected. As am talking to you now, the baby is comfortably living abroad with his new parents.

“One interesting thing is that the Home did not collect money from the US based couple. If it were to be at other homes being run by government, they could pay up to N1m to adopt the baby,” he said.

Oginni, therefore, called on wealthy Nigerians and captains of industries to develop interest in the plights of the Motherless and less privileged children in the society.

He also supported the call for the establishment of a university that would be dedicated for children with special needs.

Russia's Sukhinova wins Miss World 2008 title

JOHANNESBURG (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Kseniya Sukhinova has won the Miss World 2008 title at the international beauties competition in South Africa after beating 108 contestants.

The top five finalists also included Miss India, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Gabrielle Walcott, Miss Angola, Brigith dos Santos, and Miss South Africa, Tansey Coetzee.

Tutors at the university in northwest Siberia where the new Miss World studies praised her academic record on Monday, happily complaining that the news of her victory almost disrupted classes.

Sukhinova is a fifth-year student studying cybernetic systems in the Oil and Gas University in Tyumen, a center of the region's oil and gas industry located over 2,000 kilometers from Moscow. She is one of only five women in the 27-student group.

"It is a very difficult discipline, but Sukhinova's grades are all A's and B's," university deputy president Veronika Yefremova said.

Yefremova said Sukhinova has had her course schedule tailored to her needs since winning the Miss Russia crown last year.

"Ksenia is an aspiring girl. She demonstrated excellent knowledge at [the latest] exams," the head of the university's cybernetic systems department, Oleg Kuzyakov, said. "We are very glad she won. Her group and the whole university will congratulate Ksenia, when she is in Tyumen."

The professor said reporters have virtually besieged the university, which is adorned with Ksenia's photographs and posters with congratulations, complicating classes on Monday.

"This is a pleasant diversion from work, with journalists asking questions of professors and Ksenia's fellow students. Such things do not happen every day," Kuzyakov said.

Sukhinova will return to Russia late this week, the organizers of the Miss Russia contest said on Monday. She first has to be the guest of honor at a series of events in South Africa.

The only previous Russian winner of the international beauty festival was Yulia Kurochkina in 1992.