English Premier League most challenging in World Football- Santos

channels_television-arsenal_andre_santosAndre Santos; the Arsenal defender who just returned from the injury table of the Gunners stated his belief that the English Premier League is the best in the World so far and he is also glad that his level of adaption to playing in the league has been amazing.

Signed from Turkish club Fernerbahce August 2011,Santo who is 29 years old has made his presence felt dynamically on the left flank of the club.

After three months hiatus,the Brazillain fullback launched himself back on the pitch in Arsenal’s 3-nil victory against Aston Villa as a substitute.

Santos has been out of action due a broken foot sustained three months ago in the UEFA Chapions Leaguetie against Olympiakos, although it is almost certain that he would be ending a trophyless season with Arsenal but the young lad has made a point of service to elevate the success of Arsenal time to come.

Santos expressed his joy at his acceptance by Gunners fans and club staffs as it made him relax and adapt quickly.

Santos revealed he had been inspired by the messages of support during his time on the sidelines, after being injured in the Champions League group game away to Olympiakos.

Chinese twins seek ‘sex change’

Two young Chinese women undergoing sex-change surgery at a Shanghai hospital are hoping to be the first twins in the country to change their gender.

The 25-year-old sisters from the southwestern province of Yunnan have already undergone preliminary surgery at a military hospital in the commercial hub, the Shanghai Daily, a state newspaper reported.

“The operations on both the twins are successful,” their surgeon, Zhao Yede, was quoted as saying.

“They said they would continue to save up (money) from hard work so they can return for their respective last phases of surgery,” he said.

The paper quoted one of the twins as saying they did not want any publicity, fearing they would lose their jobs.

The two sisters dress in male clothing, never wearing skirts or growing their hair long, the newspaper said. They both attended the same schools and university.

The hospital put them through medical and psychological tests before agreeing to perform the surgeries, it said.

Under Chinese law, their legal gender will remain female until they complete the surgical procedures and apply for a change to their status, the newspaper said.

Ousted Mali leader confirms safety

Mali’s ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, whose whereabouts have been unknown since he was overthrown on March 22, told AFP he was safe in Bamako and not being held by the junta.

Ousted Mali leader, Amadou Toumani Toure

The president was chased out of power just five weeks before the end of his time in office ahead of elections on April 29 which have now been suspended by the junta and no fresh poll date fixed.

“I am indeed in Bamako, and thank God my family and I are doing well. What is important to know, is that I am not being held prisoner,” Toure said in a brief telephone conversation.

“I am obviously following what is happening, I wish with all my heart that peace and democracy triumph in Mali. I have nothing else to say for the moment.”

The fate of the 63-year-old Toure has raised concern in the past six days, since renegade soldiers forced him to flee as they fired on the presidency last week in a mutiny which led to a full-blown coup.

The mutineers denounced an “incompetent” government and said they had not been equipped to deal with a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north of the west African nation.

Members of his entourage said Toure was under protection of his elite paratrooper “Red Beret” guard and coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said he was safe in a secret location, raising concerns he was being detained.

On Tuesday, France announced its ambassador Christian Rouyer had spoken to Toure who “reassured him over his fate.”

As Toure remained in hiding, the country was divided over the coup, with lawmakers and politicians demanding a return to constitutional order while others were sympathetic to the soldiers’ frustrations over the northern crisis.

Several thousand people marched in Bamako on Wednesday brandishing banners reading “Down with ATT”, “Down with France”, and “Down with the international community”, while shouting their support for Sanogo.

The putschists have been shunned by the international community and on Tuesday were suspended by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which followed the footsteps of the African Union.

A delegation of army chiefs arrived in Bamako Wednesday to prepare a venue for a mediation team of six heads of state led by regional strongman Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, expected to arrive Thursday.

In an interview with French international radio RFI, Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole said ECOWAS leaders were gunning for a transition government led by parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traore.

West African leaders have warned that the region’s troops were on standby if the junta failed to engage in dialogue.

Orlando Bloom campaigns for children in Madagascar

channels_television_orlando_bloomEnglish actor Orlando Bloom who starred as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series has taken the role of the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador given him seriously after he led the a campaign to improve the living standards of children in Madagascar.

The move especially meant for the poor children in Madagascar is meant to amongst other things improve the educational standard of the children and Bloom is partnering with Sienna Miller on this project who is chairing the educational campaign for UNICEF.

The project is based on fundaing a day of school for 50 Madasgascar children.

On the on-going project,Orlando Bloom said he is very delighted working with UNICEF and Boss Orange management as it is seen as making a difference in the lives of African Children.

Orlando Bloom had his break-through roles in 2001 as the elf-prince Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and starring in 2003 as blacksmith Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

He established himself as a lead in Hollywood films, including Elizabethtown and Kingdom of Heaven after his breakthrough as he appeared in the ensemble films New York, I Love You, Sympathy for Delicious, and Main Street. Bloom made his professional stage debut in West End’s In Celebration at the Duke of York’s Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane, which ended its run on 15 September 2007.

On 12 October 2009, Bloom was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Wenger’s hope of signing Mario Gotze dashed

channels_television_mario_gotze_dotmund19 year old Mario Gotze dashed Arsene Wenger’s hope of getting him to wear the Gunners jersey even for at least a season as he decided to sign a contract extension of two years with his present club BVB until 2016.

On the club’s official website,the German said he is always comfortable in Dortmund being his hometown as he also wants to be amongst those who will complete development presently going on in the club since he is part of the players who started the recent resurgence.

Young Mario Gotze also attracted the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United as he has been tagged a hot prospect for the future by analysts.

The 19 year old joined Dortmund at age 9 and got his first appearance with the senior squad of Dortmund at age 17 which also earned him a place for his international cap for his homecountry Germany with the senior side.

Arsenal and Dortmund met in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League at the begining of the season and the two legged match marked the start of Wenger’s interest in Mario Gotze even though the youngster had little impact but was seen as a future potential by Arsene wenger.

According to Arsene Wenger ‘Mario Gotze is a very talented player with a great attitude but he is a plyer of the future’.

Wenger has started hunting for Mario’s alike in the transfer market as his hopes of signing the German ended without a passmark.

Hundreds of flights cancelled by German strikes

Airlines cancelled about 450 out of 1,300 flights scheduled at Germany’s largest airport Frankfurt on Tuesday because of warning strikes by ground handlers in a dispute over pay, operator Fraport said.

Passengers stand at a German airline Lufthansa ticket counter during a wage strike by Globe Ground ground personnel at Munich"s international airport March 27, 2012

Ground handlers at airports in Munich, Duesseldorf and Cologne also walked out. They are expected to return to their posts by early afternoon.

Deutsche Lufthansa, which operates a total of about 1,850 flights on a typical day, said it cancelled about 400 of its flights planned for Tuesday, in line with its expectations.

Smaller peer Air Berlin said 23 flights out of the several hundred scheduled would not operate – more than the expected eight cancellations.

More strikes may follow soon.

The head of German services union Verdi, Frank Bsirske, had said on Monday that if warning strikes were not sufficient to get a pay deal moving, the union could take a tougher line in coming weeks.

If the union and employers fail to agree in talks this week, the dispute could go to mediation. Should mediation fail, the union could ballot its members on a broader strike in the second half of April, Bsirske had said.

Verdi is pushing for a 6.5 percent pay rise for around 2 million federal and local public-sector workers, and at least 200 euros more per month.

More than 50 percent of Fraport’s shares are held by the regional state of Hesse and the city of Frankfurt and its ground handlers have public-sector work contracts.

Employers have offered a 3.3 percent rise over a period of 24 months and a one-off payment.


Tribal clash in Libya kills 20, injures 40

Atleast 40 were wounded while 20 people were killed on Monday in the city of Sabha in southern Libya when clashes erupted between two rival militias.

Local council member Ahmed Abdelkadir said clashes first broke out on Sunday between former rebel fighters from Sabha and gunmen from the Tibu tribe after a Sabha man was killed in a dispute over a car. He said the militias opened fire at each other on the outskirts of Sabha.

A local doctor, Ibrahim Misbah, said 20 fighters died of gunshot wounds and more than 40 people were wounded.

“The numbers are from the Sabha side only. The Tibu wounded are being taken to a different hospital,” he said by phone.

Sabha fighter Oweidat al-Hifnawi said the fighting centered around the airport road and that at one point Tibu fighters controlled the entrance of the airport.

“The airport is now under our control but it is not functioning at the moment,” Hifnawi said.

The clashes come as the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) struggles to assert its authority across Libya, where rival militias and tribal groups are jostling for power and resources following the fall of Gaddafi.

“The situation is very dangerous and sensitive. We are following the situation and the army chief is working on sending a defence team to Sabha,” deputy interior minister Omar al-Khadrawi said.

The NTC is hampered by the lack of a coherent national army and has struggled to persuade the myriad militias who fought Gaddafi to put down their guns and join the armed forces and police.

Last month dozens of people were killed in days of clashes between tribes in the far southeastern province of Al Kufra. Armed forces eventually intervened to stop the fighting in a rare example of the Tripoli government imposing its authority.

Members of the Tibu ethnic group, who were also involved in fighting Kufra, are mainly found in Chad but also inhabit parts of southern Libya.

Jim Yong Kim to begin world tour to seek support for his World Bank candidacy

Jim Yong Kim, the U.S. pick to take over as head of the World Bank, launches a world tour on Tuesday to seek support for his candidacy.

Kim, a Korean-American, will be contesting two nominees from emerging market countries – Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo – for the World Bank’s top job.

The Treasury Department said Kim will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi, Brasilia and Mexico City between March 27 and April 9 to meet heads of state, finance ministers and others to talk about priorities for the World Bank.

Kim, president of Ivy League university Dartmouth College, was born in South Korea, but moved to the United States as a boy.

Treasury calls the trip a “listening tour” by Kim, the physician and anthropologist named by the Obama administration last Friday as the U.S. pick to succeed Robert Zoellick when he steps down in June.

By tradition, an American has headed the World Bank since its founding after World War Two, but emerging economies are increasingly open about challenging that convention.

Okonjo-Iweala was nominated by African powerhouses Nigeria, South Africa and Angola and could garner more support for her candidacy from the emerging markets bloc. On Monday, African Union finance leaders unanimously endorsed her candidacy.

The United States is a major contributor to the World Bank and can likely count on backing from several European countries for its nominee Kim, which could make it an uphill battle for Okonjo-Iweala.

In an interview with Reuters, however, Okonjo-Iweala expressed hope the World Bank’s 187 member nations would hold to their pledge for an open, merit-based process.

A decision on a new leader for the poverty-fighting organization is expected to be announced by the time the World Bank and its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund, hold semiannual meetings in Washington on April 20-22.


Former U.S lawmaker loses appeal on bribery and money laundering charge

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld most of the convictions against former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson on multiple charges of bribery and money laundering.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld all but one of 11 guilty counts against the former Democratic congressman from New Orleans, who used his home freezer to store $90,000 in cash.

Jefferson was accused in 2007 of soliciting millions of dollars in bribes from companies while using his office to broker business deals in Africa. The business ventures included telecommunications deals in Nigeria and Ghana; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo; and investments in a Nigerian sugar plant.

The case gained notoriety when FBI agents, in a search of Jefferson’s residence, found $90,000 neatly wrapped in foil and stashed in freezer of his home.

A federal jury in 2009 found Jefferson guilty of 11 of 16 charges, including soliciting bribes, depriving citizens of his honest services, money laundering and participating in a racketeering enterprise. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison but remained free pending his appeal.

Seeking to overturn his convictions, Jefferson argued that he never performed official acts in exchange for payment. He claimed the trial judge erred by instructing the jury that an “official act” could include the customary practices of public officials rather than the specific legislative duties of Congress members, such as voting or introducing legislation. But the appeals court rejected that argument.

“There was, in this case, an ongoing course of illicit and repugnant conduct by Jefferson – conduct for which he was compensated considerably by those on whose behalf he was acting,” Judge Robert King wrote for the panel.

The court did overturn one wire fraud conviction, ruling the charge should not have been prosecuted in Virginia federal court because it involved a phone call from Africa to Kentucky.

Robert Trout, a lawyer for Jefferson, declined to comment.

“The American people expect and deserve corrupt public officials to be held accountable, and that is exactly what has happened in this case,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.

Jefferson, 65, had served as a member of Congress since 1991. When he was first charged, he acknowledged he had made mistakes in judgment, but denied selling his office or trading official acts for money.




Japan shuts down nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima power plant, shut its last operating nuclear reactor today for regular maintenance, leaving just one running reactor supplying Japan’s creaking power sector.

Japan has 54 reactors, but since the tsunami last March triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima plant, it has been unable to restart any reactors that have undergone maintenance due to public safety concerns.

Tepco said it shutdown the number six reactor at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, the world’s biggest nuclear power plant, raising concerns about a power crunch this summer when electricity demand peaks due to hot weather.

“We are likely to be able to provide stable electricity supply at the moment, but we would like to ask customers to continue conserving power,” Tepco president Toshio Nishizawa said in a statement released yesterday.

“We are currently closely studying the summer power supply situation. We will do our utmost to operate in a stable way and maintain our facilities,” he added.

Out of the 17 reactors owned by Tepco, which provides electricity to some 45 million people in the Tokyo area, all six at its devastated Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240km northeast of Tokyo, are off line, as well as four at its neighbouring Fukushima Daini plant.

At its Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, 230km northwest of Tokyo, three remain offline after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the area in July 2007 and small fires followed. Four others are under maintenance.

Japan’s last running reactor, Hokkaido Electric’s Tomari number three, is set to go off line on May 5th for maintenance.

Greenpeace Japan’s executive director Junichi Sato said that the country could survive without rushing to restart its nuclear sector. “Japan is practically nuclear free, and the impact on daily life is invisible,” Mr Sato said in a statement. “With proper demand management, energy efficiency measures, and more than sufficient backup generation in place, there is no excuse for shortages in the coming months, and absolutely no need to rush restarts of nuclear plants.”

To avoid blackouts, utilities have restarted old fossil fuel plants and have called for power conservation, but some analysts warn of power shortages in the summer, especially given ageing fossil fuel plants could be less reliable.

The process to restart halted reactors is unclear. Japan’s nuclear safety watchdog and another experts’ panel are currently reviewing stress test results submitted by utilities that gauge how reactors can withstand extreme events like a huge tsunami.

Once they give approval, ministers including prime minister Yoshihiko Noda can give the green-light for the restarts, but only after they deem there is enough local and public support, and surveys show this may not be easy.


Car bomb explodes in Somali capital, injures two

A car bomb exploded in the heart of the Somalian capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, wounding two people and triggering bursts of gunfire from police, witnesses said.

The blast adds pressure on the embattled U.N.-backed government struggling to secure the city against al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels, even with the help of nearly 10,000 African troops.

The blast happened in Mogadishu’s busy administrative district. The police said four suspects had been detained.

“A car bomb has just exploded in Maka al Mukarram road. Then the police opened fire,” resident Hussein Omar told Reuters.

Witnesses told Reuters the car had been parked on the street, arousing the suspicions of security forces who blocked off traffic.

“We got a man with the remote control seconds after he detonated the car. We also arrested three other suspects,” police spokesman Abdullahi Barise said.

A Reuters photographer who saw the wreckage of the car, said one of the victims had been taking photos of the 4×4 vehicle at the time of the explosion.

The man who was bleeding heavily cried out in pain as onlookers helped him. One family had fled their house just meters away moments before the bomb blew up.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. However, suspicion is likely to fall on Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants, who are fighting a five-year long insurgency and control big chunks of central and southern Somalia.

There has been a surge in suicide bombings and remotely detonated blasts in Mogadishu since al Shabaab pulled most of its fighters out of the coastal city, vowing to turn increasingly to al Qaeda-inspired tactics.

Al Shabaab carried out a truck bombing in October which killed more than 70 people, the group’s most deadly attack since launching their rebellion in 2007.

The militants have been weakened in past months, on the back foot against African Union soldiers in Mogadishu and losing territory to Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in the south. There are also signs of growing internal divisions within the rebel ranks.