Maurice Pochettino has spoken out following claims that he is next for the Manchester United job following the sack of Jose Mourinho.

The Tottenham manager insists he is focused on doing his best for Spurs amid reports he is the leading candidate to replace Mourinho as head coach of the Red Devils.

Pochettino was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to take charge at Old Trafford after Mourinho was sacked by United on Tuesday.

United are expected to appoint a caretaker manager this week to lead the troubled team for the rest of the season.

That would give them time to tempt Pochettino to leave Tottenham, where he has established a reputation as one of the brightest young managers in Europe during his four-year reign.

Pochettino refused to completely rule out any interest in the United job, which might appeal to him given the club’s vast resources in contrast to Tottenham, who failed to sign a single player in the summer transfer window.

But the 46-year-old, whose has led Tottenham to third in the Premier League and a place in the Champions League last 16 this season, insists he is only concerned with his current team at present.

“After nearly five years there is a lot of rumours about my position as manager at Tottenham,” Pochettino told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final at Arsenal.

“I cannot answer this type of question because rumours happen. I want to deliver my best at this football club.”

Although Pochettino is yet to win a trophy with Tottenham, he has caught the eye by establishing a stylish side made up of flourishing youngsters and astute signings.

His commitment to an attacking game-plan and his friendly relationship with his players is a stark contrast to Mourinho’s acerbic personality and dour tactics.

Pochettino wouldn’t comment on the reasons for Mourinho’s downfall but admitted he felt sorry to see his friend sacked after just two-and-a-half years in charge of United.

“First of all, I want to send my best wishes to him. I feel so sorry,” Pochettino said.

“I have a very good relationship with Jose, he is a good friend, it is sad news.

“It is not my business what has happened in another club. I send my best wishes to Jose

AFP

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, says the Federal Government lacks the capacity to address the security challenges confronting the nation.

He said this in a statement by his communication adviser, Phrank Shaibu, on Tuesday while reacting to the latest report by Amnesty International which accused the government of impunity.

The former vice president decried that thousands of people have been either killed or injured, a situation he said has discouraged foreign investors.

“It is now very clear, like Amnesty International said in its report, that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has displayed gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population, which has witnessed many preventable deaths and lost many good hands,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The global human rights organisation had indicated in its report that the herdsmen and farmers crisis has claimed about 3,641 lives in the last three years and 57 per cent of the deaths were recorded in 2018.

In its response, the government said the operations of Amnesty International in the country appeared to be aimed at frustrating the efforts of the military.

Why Atiku Was Absent At Signing Of Peace Accord – PDP
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (file)

Atiku, on his part, described the government’s response as “tepid”.

He then called on Nigerians to vote out the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in 2019, as a means of addressing the security challenges.

The PDP candidate said, “After every attack, either by herdsmen or by kidnappers, the government will vow to get the culprits and punish them. Then more deaths will occur, and the government will repeat its vow.”

“This is not reassuring to the people of Nigeria as well as foreigners who may want to do business in the country. Therefore, it is now clear that, in spite of its best efforts, the Buhari and his party, the APC cannot stop the herdsmen and other criminal elements currently terrorising the country,” he alleged.

Atiku further accused the present administration of “not doing anything” even in the face of a purported report which condemned the rate of under-age deaths in the country.

According to him, the herdsmen-farmers crisis has recently been concentrated in some parts of the country and can lead to ethno-religious conflicts there.

The former vice president, however, assured Nigerians that he would apply proven and tested strategies to insecurity if voted into office.

He also vowed to pursue quality collaborative measures with local and international partners in a bid to completely wipe out insurgency from the country.

Atiku hinted at his policy document which he said has a detailed plan on how to ensure the security of lives and property as well as promote businesses, improved power generation, transmission and distribution, among others

Source channels

Donald Trump has agreed to shut down his personal charity, the Trump Foundation.

Trump’s charity has been accused of engaging in “persistently illegal conduct,” the New York attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood said the Foundation would be dissolved and its remaining assets distributed to other charities.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood said in a statement

AFP

Trump Accuses Facebook, Twitter, Google Of Supporting Democrats

Trump accused the companies of blocking his followers and making it harder for people to follow him. The companies have said in recent months that they have removed suspicious accounts after the networks were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections.

An analysis for the Senate Intelligence Committee released Monday described an organized campaign by the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) to hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, by inflaming right-wing conspiracy theories and suppressing the vote of traditionally liberal groups such as African Americans.

The IRA-created account “Blacktivist” sent out messages such as: “No lives matter to Hillary Clinton. Only votes matter to Hillary Clinton.”Separately, a portion of the 3,841 IRA accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube studied by the researchers sought to provoke Republican-leaning white Americans to get out and vote.

And after Trump took office Moscow’s operatives took aim at Special Counsel Robert Mueller, head of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Trump is a regular critic of social media and accused Twitter as recently as October of stifling the growth of his account by making it harder for users to follow him.

Marketing software firm SparkToro revealed in October that its analysis of his 55 million-plus followers had revealed that more than 60 percent were fake.

Around three-quarters of accounts that followed Trump had been in action for at least 120 days while 36 percent used Twitter’s default profile image

AFP

The French government was on Sunday hoping the sharp drop in “yellow vest” demonstrators signalled an end to the biggest crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, but conceded “mistakes” had been made.

Around 66,000 people turned out again on Saturday across France for the fifth round of protests which sprung up over fuel tax hikes last month before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron — half the number of the previous weekend.

In an interview with Les Echos newspaper published online Sunday evening, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had “made mistakes” and “not listened enough to the French people”.

He added that there would be a debate on the holding of referendums to help decide government policy — one of the protesters’ key demands — saying they could be a “good tool of democracy”.

“One stage is behind us, certainly,” added Education Minister Michel Blanquer. “And I think that that is in everybody’s interest, including the yellow vests.”

Although the drop in protesters suggested the momentum of the “yellow vest” movement was waning, sociologist Herve Le Bras from the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) warned they would leave a bitter legacy.

“It is calming down but what remains of it all is a strong feeling of hatred towards Macron,” he said.

Many of the protesters have targeted Macron personally, calling on him to resign or attacking his background as an investment banker.

Le Bras said the protests had underlined the depth of dislike for the president’s personality and style of governing, which critics see as arrogant and too distant.

A major poll by the Ifop group published in Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed Macron’s approval rating had slipped another two points in the last month, to 23 per cent.

The proportion of people who declared themselves “very dissatisfied” by his leadership jumped by six points to 45 per cent.

An Opinionway poll for LCI television, however, registered a two-point increase to 31 per cent overall. The poll was carried out in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market.

‘Context has changed’

Until last week, a clear majority of French people backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes before snowballing into broader opposition to Macron.

In a bid to end the standoff, he announced a package of measures for low-income workers on Monday in a televised address, estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

The 40-year-old also acknowledged widespread animosity towards him and came close to apologising for a series of verbal gaffes seen as dismissive of the poor or jobless.

Two polls published last Tuesday — in the wake of Macron’s concessions — suggested the country was now split broadly 50-50 on whether the protests should continue.

“It’s a movement that has succeeded in forcing back what looked like a strong government,” Pollingvox’s Sainte-Marie said.

“People have confidence in themselves now, so things won’t return to how they were on November 15” before the protests started, he said.

“The context in which Emmanuel Macron holds power has changed.”

The president had until now styled himself as a determined pro-business reformer who would not yield to pressure from protests like his predecessors.

The government has announced however a six-month consultation with civil society groups, mayors, businesses and the “yellow vests” to discuss tax and other economic reforms.

Hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, as well as tougher emissions controls on old vehicles — justified on the grounds of environmental protection — were what initially sparked the “yellow vest” movement.

Calls for calm

Premier Philippe said in Sunday’s interview that the deficit was expected to increase slightly in 2018 to reach 3.2 per cent of GDP, taking into account the measures taken in the face of the crisis.

To mitigate this, the government would limit the reduction in the corporate income tax rate to companies with a turnover of fewer than 250 million euros ($226 million) next year, he added.

Eight people have died since the start of the protests, the authorities said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner earlier called on protesters to halt their blockades across the country which have disrupted traffic and businesses.

“Everyone’s safety has to become the rule again,” he tweeted.

“Dialogue now needs to unite all those who want to transform France.”

Around 69,000 security forces were mobilised across France on Saturday, down from 89,000 the previous weekend, when 2,000 people were detained.

AFP

Pepe Gives Second-Placed Lille Victory At Nimes

In-form striker Nicolas Pepe scored what proved to be the winner as 10-man Lille claimed a 3-2 win at Nimes on Sunday to consolidate second place in Ligue 1.

Later on Sunday, Lyon won 3-0 at home against struggling Monaco to move into third.

Lyon are three points behind Lille with a match in hand, while Montpellier, who did not play for a second consecutive week, are another two points back but have played two games fewer than Lille.

The French title race is all but over with reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain 10 points clear, but a young Lille side are eyeing a return to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2012.

“What a match, I’m really proud of my players,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier. “We must not forget that we played for more than an hour and 20 minutes with 10 men.

“With the added time, it was a very long and hard match physically.”

Portuguese teenager Rafael Leao headed Lille into a fourth-minute lead, but Galtier’s men suffered a setback when former Southampton centre-back Jose Fonte was sent off in the 16th minute.

Jonathan Bamba’s deflected effort doubled the advantage shortly before the interval, though, and Pepe appeared to have made the points safe midway through the second half with his 12th goal of the campaign.

The 10 men finally started to tire late on, but Lille held on for victory despite Nimes goals from Rachid Alioui and Clement Depres.

In the late game, Lyon dominated Thierry Henry’s Monaco from beginning to end. They took the lead in only the sixth minute with a goal by Houssem Aouar, his sixth of the season.

Nabil Fekir added the second in the 34th minute, attacking Kenny Tete’s low cross as Monaco’s Jemerson hesitated.

Monaco managed only one shot all game. They played almost the whole second half with 10 men after Aleksandr Golovin raked his studs down the back of Fekir’s calf in the 47th minute and was sent off.

Ferland Mendy added a deserved third for Lyon just before the hour mark.

AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eldest, Yair, tweeted on Sunday that Facebook blocked his page for 24 hours over apparent anti-Muslim posts and called the leading social network a “dictatorship”.

In a message posted Thursday on his Facebook page after deadly Palestinian attacks, Yair Netanyahu had called for “all Muslims (to) leave” Israel.

“Do you know where there are no attacks? In Iceland and in Japan where coincidentally there are no Muslims,” the prime minister’s son wrote.

In another post, he wrote that there were only two possible solutions for peace, either “all Jews leave (Israel) or all Muslims leave”.

“I prefer the second option,” he added.

His comments came after two soldiers were shot dead on Thursday at a central West Bank bus station near a settlement.

On the same day, a baby prematurely delivered after his mother was shot and wounded in a separate attack nearby on December 9 also died.

Facebook deleted Yair Netanyahu’s posts, prompting him to take to Twitter to criticise the social networking giant, calling it a “dictatorship of thought”.

Critics of the prime minister have often attacked Yair as a grown man living in the premier’s residence despite having no official role and benefitting from a bodyguard, a driver and other perks.

They say the parents of the 27-year-old are grooming him for future political power in an attempt to establish a ruling dynasty.

AFP

Philippines’ Catriona Gray Crowned 2018 Miss Universe

Miss Philippines was crowned Miss Universe on Monday in Bangkok after a trailblazing ceremony praised for featuring its first transgender candidate but marred by gaffes about the English-speaking ability of two Asian contestants.

Catriona Gray, 24, finished first ahead of the South African and Venezuelan finalists in the glittering televised event hosted by American comic turned TV host Steve Harvey and supermodel Ashley Graham.

In the final round, Gray earned applause describing her work in the slums of the Philippine capital Manila.

After winning she told reporters she would like to expand her work with an organisation in the Philippines that promotes education on HIV and AIDS.

“A few years ago I lost a close friend to health complications with HIV,” she said.

“So spreading awareness on that cause and encouraging people to get the simple test and knowing their status is definitely one of the first projects that I’d like to pursue.”

Gray — a student of music theory — beat more than 90 contestants from around the globe in the 67th instalment of Miss Universe, which was held in the Thai capital’s Impact Arena.

During the competition, which was broadcast live, candidates were asked questions on press freedom, legalisation of marijuana, refugees and the #MeToo movement.

This year’s event drew positive feedback for themes of inclusivity and an all-women panel of judges made up of business leaders and former Miss Universe titleholders.

Miss Spain’s Angela Ponce made history as the first transgender candidate in a competition once owned by President Donald Trump, whose administration has attempted to block the military recruitment of transgender people.

“I always say: having a vagina didn’t transform me into a woman. I am a woman, already before birth, because my identity is here,” Ponce told AFP on Saturday, gesturing to her head.

She added she wanted her appearance to be empowering and that she hoped for a “new generation of human beings who are raised a lot better, more tolerant and respectful.”

But issues of tolerance and respect came centre stage during the competition when Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers appeared to poke fun at Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia on social media for not being able to speak English.

The comments went viral but Summers later posted an apology on Instagram, saying she did not “intend to hurt” her fellow competitors.

Gray’s victory was closely followed in the Philippines, where beauty pageants are hugely popular.

Social media exploded with clips of fans jumping for joy and hugging each other as the Filipina contestant went through each successive round and eventually won.

A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte in a statement praised Gray’s win for putting the Philippines on the world map “for its beauty and elegance”.

AFP

Lion Air announced Monday it was funding a multi-million dollar search effort using a Dutch company for the second black box and missing victims from doomed flight JT-610. 

The Boeing 737 MAX vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on October 29, crashing into waters off the north coast of Indonesia’s Java Island and killing all 189 people onboard.

Authorities called off the grim task of identifying victims of the crash last month, with only 125 people officially identified after tests on human remains that filled some 200 body bags.

Following requests from victims’ families, Lion said it had allocated 38 billion rupiah ($2.6 million) to hire a Dutch company to continue the search with its ship the MPV Everest.

“The search operation will focus on the latest coordinates of the crash… with an operational time of 10 consecutive days in December,” the airline said in a statement.

The MPV Everest, a 142-meter long vessel with state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicles, will arrive near the crash site on Wednesday.

Bad weather had delayed its trip from the Malaysian port of Johor Baru.

News that the hunt for the wreckage would continue with the new vessel was welcomed by Evi Syamsul Komar, whose nephew was aboard the flight.

“We have heard many promises before, we don’t know who to trust anymore, but our family is still waiting,” Komar told AFP.

Dozens of family members whose loved ones were killed in the crash protested in Jakarta last week, demanding the search continue.

They called on authorities to help retrieve the remaining 64 bodies and pay compensation.

Nearly 30 relatives of the crash victims have filed lawsuits against Boeing, alleging faults with the new model 737 MAX led to the deaths.

The preliminary crash report from Indonesia’s transport safety agency suggested that pilots struggled to control the plane’s anti-stalling system immediately before the crash.

Investigators also found that the Lion Air jet should have been grounded over a recurrent technical problem before its fatal journey, but did not pinpoint a cause of for the accident.

The planes cockpit voice recorder is yet to be found.

A final report is not likely to be filed until next year.

AFP

Chelsea put a week of negative headlines for the behaviour of their fans behind them on the field thanks to an inspired Eden Hazard in a 2-1 victory at Brighton on Sunday

The Belgian provided his ninth assist of the season for Pedro Rodriguez to open the scoring and then chalked up his ninth goal of the campaign, but first in 13 games for club and country.

However, Chelsea failed to build on their 2-0 lead and endured a nervous finale after Solly March pulled one back with his first goal of the campaign.

Victory saw Chelsea open up a three-point lead over Arsenal in fourth and close back to within seven points of leaders Manchester City.

Much of the pre-match speculation centred on the travelling Chelsea supporters and whether there would be any repeat of either the accusations of racist remarks aimed at Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling last weekend or the anti-Semitic chanting heard during their Europa League tie against Vidi in Budapest in midweek.

Fortunately there appeared to be no further incidents as the visiting fans enjoyed an excellent start from Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Brighton had only previously been beaten at home by Tottenham Hotspur this season.

An early foul on Hazard sent the message that the Seagulls would not show Chelsea as much respect as they had last season when they stood back and admired Hazard and company in a 4-0 defeat.

It resulted in a free kick that David Luiz thumped through the defensive wall but straight at Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

But Hazard was clearly not in the mood to be intimidated by a kick or two, and he answered in the most effective way possible in the 17th minute.

He tried a shot from 20 yards that was blocked but he was instantly onto the rebound, sped into the penalty area, past Brighton right back Martin Montoya and played the ball across goal for Pedro to steer the ball into the empty net.

Brighton’s confidence was visibly dented and they almost disappeared completely as an attacking force, barring a long-range effort from March that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa trapped with a diving stop.

Chelsea could afford to sit back and pick off their passes, as they did when doubling their lead in the 33rd minute.

Brighton’s Nigeria defender Leon Balogun underhit a forward pass that Willian picked off with ease before sending the ball through the Brighton defence and into Hazard’s stride. The Belgian collected and slipped it between Ryan and his near post.

A third goal would not have flattered Chelsea’s dominance and only the post denied Marcos Alonso just after the hour mark.

But three minutes later, Brighton were, improbably, back in the match.

The previously anonymous Pascal Gross crossed from the right, Brazilian left-back Bernardo nodded the ball back across goal, and March hooked it past Kepa from six yards.

Brighton were revitalised and Alonso was lucky not to be sent off for pulling back March as he broke clear on goal.

And Chelsea also breathed a sigh of relief when England defender Lewis Dunk headed wide late on.

AFP