Olympiakos claim their 44th Greek league title

first_imgOlympiakos Piraeus clinched their seventh consecutive Greek league title and 44th in total after enjoying a comfortable 5-0 home win over struggling PAS Giannina in their penultimate match of the Super League season on Sunday.Goals from Marko Marin, Manuel Da Costa, two from Alberto de la Bella and an Alejandro Dominguez late penalty saw Olympiakos romp home easily against a depleted PAS Giannina team lacking six first-team regulars through suspension or injury.The three-point haul means the Piraeus club now have an unassailable six-point lead with one match to go.“It has been a strange season but in the end we’re the champions and that’s what matters,” Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis told reporters.The title is Lemonis’s fifth in his third spell at the helm after the 57-year-old former Olympiakos player was brought in on a short-term contract until the end of the season following the sacking of Portuguese Paulo Bento.Lemonis said the lack of stability and constant changing of coaches had been difficult for the players.“I am the fifth different technician and this is a big problem, especially for the team. I have had little time with them but if I managed to change something maybe it was the atmosphere in the dressing room and we managed to hold on to the title — now we have to try and win the Greek Cup as well.”Despite a late-season dip in form which saw PAOK and Panionios threaten to catch Olympiakos, the Piraeus giants still managed to hold on after having built up a significant lead thanks to their imperious form during the first two-thirds of the campaign.The home side went into the game at the Georgios Karaiskakis needing just a single point to wrap up another title but in the end an eight-minute goal blitz in the first half settled any nerves, with the strikes from Marin (21), Da Costa (24) and De la Bella (29) coming during a period of total dominance from the hosts.De la Bella (71) and Domingeuz (82) from the penalty spot put the icing on the cake with two further goals much to the delight of the jubilant home fans.There could yet be a late twist in the tale of the title race, however, as Olympiakos face a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday which could see them get a six-point deduction following trouble at the end of their Greek Cup semi-final first-leg loss against AEK Athens 11 days ago.last_img read more

New-look Cyprus championship ready for kick-off

first_imgThe 80th Cyprus football championship kicks-off this weekend and as happened last year, we do not have a complete fixture list. Of the six initially scheduled games, only three will take place as the Cyprus Football Association has decided to postpone (after requests from the relative teams) the three games involving Apoel, Apollon and AEK who are still battling in Europe for a place in the group stage of the Europa League.The new season will begin with two important changes.In an effort to make the championship more competitive, the number of teams competing this season has been reduced to 12 from 14.The second and most important change concerns the sports ID card. All fans wanting to attend any sporting event in Cyprus from this season onwards will need to display their sports card to gain access to any sporting venue. The card is issued by the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO).The card has been introduced as a measure to combat hooliganism in the hope that this will lure back fans who were scared away from football grounds because of football violence in recent years. However it is highly unlikely that this measure alone will reverse a five-year trend of falling attendances. In fact it may well be that gates will drop at an accelerated rate this year especially as the fan clubs of all the ‘big teams’ have decided to boycott this measure and stay away from football matches.If one also considers that every first division game is shown live on TV, coupled with the ridiculously high ticket price (€20) which is totally disproportionate to the spectacle and the appalling facilities offered at the majority of grounds, fans will most definitely prefer the comfort of their homes or their local café to watch a game.The target of 60,000 ID cards set by the CSO by the end of the year seems an unattainable goal as they have issued just 18,000 such cards with the season’s curtain-raiser a few hours away. On the footballing side, the teams have yet again been busy in the transfer market with no fewer than 145 players joining the 12 first division sides, with the majority of these signings being foreign players. On average, each team will have 12 new players in their squads (up from 11 last year) and we still have a week to go until the end of the transfer window (31st August). The large majority of these signings are from abroad and according to a report by the CIES Football Observatory the Cyprus top-flight has the highest percentage (77%) of playing time for overseas players while three teams, AEK, Anorthosis and Apollon occupy the top three places amongst all European clubs in this area . Unfortunately few local players are ever given the chance to prove themselves, especially at the ‘bigger’ clubs. For example in the last European fixtures of Apoel, AEK and Apollon on Thursday night, there were just two local players in the three starting line-ups.‘Champions’ in the transfer market so far have been Ermis Aradippou, with a staggering 17 new players, followed closely by Omonia and Doxa Katokopias with 16.The least transfer-happy clubs are Apollon and Anorthosis with ‘only’ seven signings, with AEK next with eight. It appears that the teams that finished in the top three places last season, Apoel, Apollon and AEK, will once again be battling for the championship next May while Anorthosis have strengthened their squad wisely this summer and are more than capable of challenging for a top spot.A question mark remains over Omonia, who seemed to have overcome their financial woes after new football club owner Papastavrou poured millions into the once powerful Nicosia team.However with so many new faces in the team, new Spanish coach Juan Carlos Oliva will have a tough job on his hands to gel his side together. The newcomer to the top-flight, Enosis Neon Paralimniou, will be favourites for a quick return to the second division with Alki the most likely to join them. Doxa Katokopias and Ermis Aradippou may also get caught up in the relegation scrap especially if they get off to a poor start.Weekend fixtures:Saturday: Ermis vs AEL (18.00) Omonia vs Alki (20.00)Sunday: Doxa vs Anorthosis (19.00)Postponed: Nea Salamina vs Apoel, AEK vs Pafos FC, Apollon vs Enosis Neon Paralimniou Cyprus Mail predictions:Champions: Apollon followed by AEK & ApoelRelegated: Enosis Neon Paralimniou & Alki (Doxa Katokopias & Ermis Aradippou)Top Scorer: Matt Derbyshire (Omonia) & Florian Taulemeuse (AEK)last_img read more

Wilson welcomes mixed relays at World Champs

first_img Unique opportunity “I also believe that it gives athletes the opportunity to be able to participate on the world scene,” Wilson added. The Sprintec Club founder and head coach allayed fears that the mixed 4x400m race could one day displace the male and female 4x400m relays altogether. “Well, I would hope not because there is just too much history in relation to the 4×4 at our world meets, whether it be the Olympic level or the World Championship level. What we can say is that the mixed relay is very exciting for the spectators, but I don’t think it will ever replace the 4×4, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t, based on just the history of the 4×400-metre relay at our major championships.” In Doha, the traditional 4x400m relays start on day nine with heats and end on the tenth and final day of the championships. The 2019 World Championships will present a mixed 4×400 -metre relay for the first time, as part of a packed schedule for 400-metre runners. Alarmed at first, noted coach Maurice Wilson believes that spectators will enjoy the new event and that it will give more athletes the opportunity to run at the championships. Tried with good crowd response at the 2015 and 2017 World Under-18 Championships and at the last World Relays in the Bahamas, the mixed relay starts with heats on day two of next year’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, with the final on day three. The women’s 400m starts on day four. “I was alarmed at first”, said the coach, who was head coach to Jamaica’s 2017 World Championships team. “But then I said to myself that I think that they, the new administrators are looking at ways and means in which the sport can be more marketable, in which the sport can attract more spectators and so I started to look on it from this side.” He sees a plus from the perspective of more competitors getting to experience the World Championships.last_img read more

Gov’t Tight Lipped on Ebola Vaccines?

first_imgIt has been nearly four days now since international media outlets announced that at least two Ebola trial vaccines were expected to arrive in the country on Friday, January 23. It seems no one higher up in government or those managing the nation’s Ebola crisis knows anything about the ChAd-3 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) vaccines, whether they have been shipped to, or are now in Liberia, by GlaxoSmithKline, a British national pharmaceutical, biologics vaccines and consumer healthcare company.The company said the trial drugs have already been “shipped” to Liberia. It developed the vaccines in collaboration with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).The NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine is based on a type of chimpanzee cold virus, called chimp adenovirus type 3 (ChAd-3). The manufacturers said the adenovirus is used as a carrier, or vector, to deliver segments of genetic material derived from two Ebola virus species: Zaire Ebola and Sudan Ebola. Hence, this vaccine is referred to as a bivalent vaccine. “The Zaire species of the virus is responsible for the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”“The vaccine candidate delivers one part of Ebola’s genetic material to human cells, but the adenovirus vector does not replicate. Rather, the Ebola gene that it carries allows the cells of the vaccine recipient to express a single Ebola protein, and that protein prompts an immune response in the individual.It is important to know that the Ebola genetic material contained in the investigational vaccine cannot cause a vaccinated individual to become infected with Ebola.”The Daily Observer contacted several highly placed officials over the weekend and Sunday, who confirmed that they have heard about the vaccines but could not say whether they were now on the ground in Liberia or otherwise. Most promised to get back sometime this Monday afternoon with answers after finding out the status of the vaccines.One eminent Liberian, who asked not to be named, described the “I don’t know” attitude of these officials, who should know everything about the running of the state especially the vaccines that have been widely publicized, as “lackadaisical.” This person added: “These are the kind of people we have running the state of affairs and playing with the lives of ordinary Liberians.”  However, Mr. David Sumo, Managing Director, Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), confirmed that he had received an application from the United States Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), asking his entity to grant approval for the trial of both vaccines to be carried out in Liberia.Mr. Sumo’s LMHRA is tasked with the statutory mandate of ensuring that every medical supply that comes to the country is safe, effective and of good quality before it reaches the Liberian public. It is also tasked with protecting Liberians from the harmful effects of substandard and counterfeit medicines and health products.“We are aware because the sponsors [NIH] did apply in accordance with our guidelines,” Mr. Sumo told our Health Correspondent Saturday.He said two separate ethical committees — one at his entity and another at the Ministry of Health — have been meeting separately, looking into documents sent in by the sponsors.“For us, we are going to respond officially to them by Monday (today) latest. From our side, there are still some outstanding issues that we have noticed with their document which need to be addressed,” he stated. He, however, clarified that some of the issues won’t stand in the way of the trial process.Mr. Sumo disclosed that this is going to be the “phase 2 trial” of the vaccines, which, according to him, have already undergone phase 1 trial in a few countries, including Mali, USA and Switzerland.“With the information obtained from the first trial, we can now go into the phase 2 trial if our outstanding issues are resolved.”He stated that at least 600 participants, who are going to be mostly health workers, have been earmarked for phase 2.  The third phase, will target at least 9,000 persons at an unknown date.“All the participants are going to agree voluntarily to undergo the trial. They will be told all the side effects and that the drugs are trial. They would have to agree and sign before being allowed to undergo the trial,” he emphasized.Mr. Sumo, however, clarified that every participant will be followed and monitored for at least a year in order to make sure that they remain healthy and don’t develop any sickness as a result of the trial.He stated that the vaccines will be administered to healthy Liberians, who will be thoroughly screened.He told our health correspondent that once participants come out of the trial well, it means that they have now been vaccinated against the Ebola virus disease and can’t contract the deadly virus even if they came in contact with an infected person or object.He disclosed that the vaccines will be stored below minus 30 degrees Celsius at the US Embassy. This is probably because there is no public facility equipped with such a cooling system.A US Embassy official, who asked anonymity, didn’t confirm or deny this report, but said, “As far as we have been told, the vaccines have not yet landed in Liberia.”GlaxoSmithKline, Vaccine ManufacturersAuthorities of GlaxoSmithKline have stressed that the vaccine is still in development and the World Health Organization (WHO), and other regulators, would have to be satisfied the vaccine is both safe and effective before any mass immunization campaigns could be considered.According to the BBC, field trials of other promising vaccines – for example one involving the company Merck – are planned in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the months to come.These three countries are the hardest hit nations.However, experts say with the number of Ebola cases falling opportunities to test vaccines and drugs could be limited.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

What Did Finance Minister Amara Konneh Really Say?

first_imgDid Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh really say what Inprofile and The News newspapers said he did? This is the question on everyone’s mind today.The problem is three-fold: first, what was said, which seems to be totally unbelievable; second, who said it, again completely surprising; and third, against whom it was said, which is equally unbelievable.Let us deal with the first problem—what was it that Minister Konneh reportedly said?  Both Inprofile and The News quoted Minister Konneh as having said that since his incumbency in 2012, the government of Liberia (GOL) had generated US$3.1 billion in revenues, but most of it had been spent on administration, involving only 40,000 people, as against 4.1 million Liberians.If President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration is not careful how it spends government money, Mr. Konneh is reported to have told a Liberian town hall meeting in Philadelphia, then “there may be a recurrence of April 14, 1979 Rice Riots.”    The second problem is, who was talking?  Both newspapers clearly indicated that it was Finance Minister Konneh.   It may be recalled that the President in 2012 transferred him from the post of Minister of Economic Planning Affairs, to Minister of Finance. In appointing him to that far more important position, the President moved Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan to Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was technically a promotion, since he then became Dean of the Cabinet.   But Foreign Affairs in purely technical terms may not be as powerful as Finance, for that is where the money is and from where most of the shots are called.That is precisely why it was unbelievable that an official as high as Finance Minister Konneh would be so bold, and some may say inept (clumsy, careless) as to make the statements he uttered,   especially while he was abroad. So before publishing Defense Minister Brownie Samukai’s reaction, this newspaper took pains to contact the Finance boss to confirm the report.  But Minister Konneh did not respond.In Minister Samukai’s clearly articulated reaction, unmistakably aimed at Minister Konneh— though Samukai denied the link—the Defense Minister confidently declared that there would be no repeat of April 14. Addressing prospective graduates of Stella Maris Polytechnic last Wednesday, he insisted that the state security was quite prepared to protect and defend the country after UNMIL leaves, as they are scheduled to do in 2016.Minister Samukai went further.  Speaking as a veritable and wholly committed part of the President’s government, he declared, “If you are part of the team, accept the moral responsibility of that team.  Do not go out and castigate the team as though you are ‘Mr. Clean’ within the system.”The two most important questions that arise are first, did Minister Konneh actually make those comments?  If he did, what led him to that?   Did he make them out of frustration or desperation?  Did this lead him to go for broke—meaning, I don’t care now?  If this is the case, what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?There have indeed been many criticisms of the current government, not the least of them being corruption and the way money is spent.  On March 24 this newspaper said editorially that there was an apparent financial crisis in one of the most lucrative state enterprises—the National Oil Company (NOCAL).  And we wondered where had the money suddenly gone—to someone’s political campaign, or what?If the Finance Minister himself—who signs most GOL checks—can be critical of the way government money is spent, then this is VERY SERIOUS.The state security apparatus—as the Defense Minister has said—may be up to the task to arrest any sign of instability.  BUT! Our security is not nor will it ever be stronger than that of Egypt or Muammar Gaddafi—both in 2011, when we all know what happened.We do not wish for an Arab Spring in Liberia.  Heaven knows we have had more than our share of troubles—political and otherwise.  We need no more! However, we cannot—MUST NOT—fail to learn from others’ mistakes.  Remember what our own Constitution says: “ALL POWER IS INHERENT IN THE PEOPLE.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Citizens Decry Poor Sanitation

first_imgPoor water, sanitation and hygienic conditions, coupled with limited access to quality health care, are posing serious threats to the livelihood of residents of Camenagah Town, outside Kakata City, Margibi County.The residents are calling for urgent intervention by government and humanitarian groups to address the deplorable situation by constructing more hand pumps, latrines and a clinic in the area.The over seven hundred adults and several hundred children in the town have access to only one hand pump as a source of safe drinking water, with no toilets and health facilities. The pump was constructed by SHALOM (Serving Humanity with Open Mind) with support from Water Aid. In the absence of toilets, open defecation is a common practice there, according to residents. Camenagah residents sounded the appeal during a community dialogue Thursday under the topic WASH and Healthy Start, with focus on constraints pregnant women and children face accessing health care services. Organized by the local charity, SHALOM, with sponsorship from Water Aid, the initiative is part of the Healthy Start Advocacy program aimed at integrating WASH into the health of mothers and children under five. It also seeks to ensure children get proper water, sanitation and hygiene needed.Commenting on pregnant women’s health, John Weh, an elder of the town, lamented that they go through difficulties in taking pregnant women to the CH Rennie Hospital, urging SHALOM to advocate for health center in their area.A mother, identified as MaMa, recalled the horrific instances during the Ebola crisis when pregnant women died in the community because there was no access to health care services. She said even if they made it to the hospital they would return home unattended to.Almost breaking down in tears, she prayed: “Deep down in my heart, God, please send somebody to build us a clinic with trained doctors to help the situation.”Their stories were sad and touching and the situation is appalling and demands urgent attention, a SHALOM official said. Responding to the residents’ plight SHALOM’s executive director, Pate Chon, empathized with the community’s needs and assured her organization’s willingness to advocate on their behalf in bringing the needed relief.Mrs. Chon, however, said the program was intended to sensitize community members to ensure children have access to clean water, good hygiene and a healthy environment.SHALOM’s boss urged the residents to avoid poor hygienic practices when handling children and visit the hospital as frequently as possible to get proper care for their children.She also challenged the community to take their health issues into their own hands by collectively taking action to address poor sanitation and encouraged the community to build pit latrines and desist from defecating in the bush, which she said is unacceptable.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Citizens should speak out against Gender-Based Violence – First Lady

first_imgFirst Lady Sandra Granger is urging citizens to speak out against Gender-Based Violence, stating that the adherence to human rights begins with education and the development of mutual respect.Social Protection Ministry Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit Manager Akeela Doris (second left); British High Commissioner Greg Quinn; First Lady Sandra Granger; Mrs Ruta Drizyte-Videtič, the wife of the European Union Ambassador to Guyana, US Ambassador Perry Holloway and other attendees in a moment of silence for lives lost due to Gender-Based ViolenceGranger was delivering her remarks at the closing ceremony of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), hosted by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Guyana, at its office in Sendall Place, Georgetown. She stated that women and girls continue to be victims of physical and psychological violence in society and, therefore, early education on Gender-Based Violence would create wider knowledge and better understanding of the permanent damage caused by this type of abuse.She urged witnesses of abuse to speak out and not remain silent. “We must speak out when onlookers express amusement when a woman or girl is being beaten by a partner… We must make our voices heard when anyone is being ridiculed and demeaned. We must demand that our laws be enforced when our girls are trafficked and treated as commodities in the most vulgar way,” Granger said.Ambassador of the Delegation of the EU to Guyana, Jernej Videtič said that while inequality and violation of human rights continued to pose a challenge across the world, it was important that society defended the rights of people.“This year, the European Union joins the United Nations in calling upon people to stand up for someone’s rights… That is the theme for this year’s Human Rights Day; ‘Stand up for someone’s rights’… Each of us has an individual responsibility to stand up for his rights,” he said.Ambassador Videtič further stated that the EU would continue to play a pivotal role in the promotion of rules based on global order with respect for human rights.“The EU works hard on improving human rights in its member states, countries, and EU delegations all around the world are working tirelessly to defend human rights in their host countries. The EU remains a vocal advocate for human rights in multilateral fora and lends its full support to the UN human rights system, which is fundamental to protecting universal human rights and monitoring compliance,” Videtič said.Social Protection Ministry Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit Manager Akeela Doris said the Ministry continued to offer counselling services to victims of any form of violence, and the Ministry has recently established a Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Policy Unit in aimed at tackling Gender-Based Violence.last_img read more

Minister Patterson admits tender was annulled

first_imgGeorgetown Prison contract– says Ministry was only providing “technical support”By Jarryl BryanThe Public Infrastructure Ministry has come out to admit that a tender to reconstruct the administrative blocks of the Georgetown Prison was annulled. But pushing back against allegations of cronyism, the Ministry is claiming that this was to allow the project to be transferred.According to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, in a statement, the process was annulled because the Ministry was not the subject Ministry. AccordingPublic Infrastructure Minister David Pattersonto the Minister, his Ministry was just providing “technical support”.“ The process was indeed annulled; the cries of cronyism by the Opposition are more of their mischievous attempts to spread falsehoods. The annulment was to allow for the project to fall under the relevant Ministry, which in this case is the Ministry of Public Security.”“The Opposition presents these documents that are indeed official, because the Ministry publicly puts the information out there; this is information that is in the public domain,” Patterson continued, going on to accuse the political Opposition of half-truths.At his last press conference, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo supplied media operatives with a paper trail for other contracts which clearly showed the Ministry annulling the process. One such project involved the multimillion-dollar reconstruction of the administrative blocks for the Georgetown Prison – beingThe Camp Street Prison after it was guttedundertaken by the Public Infrastructure Ministry and not the Public Security Ministry.A total of 20 companies had been shortlisted from a prequalification process and were invited by the Permanent Secretary, Geoffrey Vaughn to conduct a site visit on July 27, 2017. They were to respond by the following day on whether or not they would be submitting a bid for the project.These companies included Bassoo and Sons; Ivor Allen; Colin Talbot; SA Nabi and Sons; S Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Construction Services; H Nauth and Sons; KP Thomas; BK International Inc; J&R General Construction; Courtney Benn Contracting Services; Chung’s Global Enterprise and Guyamerica Construction Inc.Also vying for the contract were Starr Computers; Net Comp; Hardware Depot; Business Communications Services; Dax Contracting Services; Manohar; Industrial Fabrication Inc and NT Computeac.The visit was the following day, rescheduled by the Ministry’s Work Services Group Manager for Procurement and Contracts, Philip Bryan. The procurement manager, by way of email, a copy of which was seen by <<>>, indicated that the site visit for the project was rescheduled for the following day, Friday, July 27, 2017.On July 28, 2017, Permanent Secretary Vaughn wrote again to the bidders saying, “The Ministry regrets to inform you that a decision was taken by the executing agency to annul this bid.”Vaughn then pointed to the clause which speaks to the “employer’s right to accept any bid and to reject any or all bids”.Left hangingIt would not be the first time bidders have been “left hanging” after an annulled tender. Opposition Leader Jagdeo has consistently accused the Ministry of cancelling tenders when it receives unfavourable results, thereby manipulating the system.“If the tenders don’t yield the results that they want, they keep annulling the tender,” Jagdeo had said during a March press conference, when he zeroed in on the scandal at the Georgetown Public Hospital where a multimillion-dollar contract for drug procurement was sole-sourced to ANSA McAL.The Georgetown Public Hospital was accused of delaying and cancelling four of its five public tenders in the months preceding the sole-sourced contract.This then created a situation where there was a massive shortage of pharmaceuticals; a fact which was initially denied by the authorities and which had the potential to cause deaths and aggravated illnesses in patients lacking medication.last_img read more

UC president plans to step down

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – University of California President Robert C. Dynes announced plans Monday to step down, ending a tenure in which he overcame budget troubles but also endured criticism for millions in perks given to administrators while student fees were being raised. Dynes said his tenure as head of the renowned public university system, which began in October 2003, will end in June 2008. His decision was motivated by a desire to spend time with his wife, whom he married in March, and by a feeling that he’d accomplished what he could in the five-year time span he set for himself when he took the job, Dynes said at a press conference Monday. He was not pressured to leave because of the controversy over executive pay that clouded the last year of his tenure, he said. “I chose not to leave in the middle of that until we got it resolved,” he said. “I feel we’ve come through that.” A well-known physicist before heading up the 10-campus system, Dynes plans to renew his focus on superconductivity research. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Under Dynes’ leadership, the university system overcame budget troubles and ensured future state funding by forging a deal with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, university officials said. “We were very pleased to stop the bleeding and put the compact in place,” he said. “The state has put much more money into the University of California than the compact envisioned.”last_img read more