Deal in sight for PNG landowners protesting Exxon-led gas project

first_imgThe ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project’s Angore operations have been shut down since June due to conflict with traditional landholders in the Papua New Guinea highlands.Around 97 percent of land in Papua New Guinea is held communally by clans, so development projects require a complex social mapping process. Critics of PNG LNG claim this was not carried out correctly.Following the occupation of a wellhead site in July, and a threat to shut down the project permanently, landowners now say they are close to reaching an agreement with the government regarding royalties and equity. Traditional landholders in the Papua New Guinea highlands say they finally see signs of progress in a cycle of contentious negotiations over land rights and royalties at a massive ExxonMobil-led natural gas development.The PNG LNG project’s operations in Angore, Hela Province, have been suspended since June, when workers were evacuated after protesters set fire to construction equipment.After months of stalled negotiations, representatives of the area’s landowners say they are now satisfied with the conflict-resolution process, and finally optimistic that an agreement will be reached in the coming weeks.The $19 billion PNG LNG project is the largest resource-extraction venture ever to be developed in Papua New Guinea. ExxonMobil is the lead operator of the project, in partnership with Australia-based Oil Search and the PNG government-owned Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited.Three of the project’s wellheads are in Angore and have been the subject of conflict since 2008, when the government awarded development licenses to ExxonMobil PNG. Objections from landowners escalated in 2013 when construction started in Angore.The situation boiled over earlier this summer. On June 21, heavily armed landowners, frustrated by a lack of response from the government, blockaded the Angore project site and damaged equipment.Construction equipment in flames in Angore. Image courtesy of the Angore Tiddl Appa Landowners Association Inc. (ATALA).In Papua New Guinea, around 97 percent of land is customarily owned by clans. Before leasing land to developers, the government is required to go through a process of Social Mapping and Landowner Identification (SMLI). Companies who are granted development permits are required to pay royalties into a trust fund, administered by the PNG government and distributed to landowners in accordance with the findings of the SMLI process.As previously reported by Mongabay, the Angore landowners’ group, Angore Tiddl Appa Landowners Association Inc. (ATALA), said the government did not conduct and complete an accurate SMLI before it approved development licenses for land in Angore.ATALA said it refused to sign any contracts giving permission for the PNG LNG project to be developed on customary land. Instead, the organization alleged that 47 people signed fraudulently on its behalf.With those signatures in hand, ExxonMobil PNG brought bulldozers to Angore in 2013 to begin construction. The company said the government owned the land and had granted licenses for construction.The news came as a surprise to the ATALA landowners, according to David Hayabe, a founding member of the group. The state and developers “forgot about landowners,” he said.As compensation for the land it says belongs to its members, ATALA has demanded an “infrastructure development grant” of 32 million kina ($9.7 million), equity shareholder certificates for traditional landowners, 2 percent royalties every month, and for the government to complete SMLI clan vetting.On June 26, following the blockade at Angore and the suspension of operations there, ATALA representatives met with government officials in Port Moresby, the capital. The government offered ATALA 20 million kina ($6.1 million) and told the group to put an end to the protests and unrest in Angore.The meeting was an attempt by the government to stall for time, says Gary Juffa, governor of Oro province and a prominent opposition leader.Unsatisfied with the official response, ATALA reiterated its original demands and insisted that the energy ministry and the state-owned energy company send representatives to the highlands. “They must come to Angore to talk with us and to meet with us,” Hayabe said.ATALA told the government that if it did not act and resolve the dispute by July 18, the PNG LNG project would be closed permanently, ATALA manager Benson Pajilah told Mongabay.“If the government don’t listen to ATALA, we have capacity to shut down Hides Gas Conditioning Plant and Komo Airport. That will shut down all of PNG LNG’s operations,” Pajilah said.“We will shut [PNG LNG] down forever, we will burn everything,” Hayabe added. “We will blow [up] the gas conditioning plant at Hides.”Hayabe, in light blue, holds the letter of recognition sent by the government. Image courtesy of ATALA.According to ATALA, the government then upped its response, sending ATALA a letter recognizing the organization and stating its intention to negotiate and “release money from the trust fund held by the [government-owned] Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC),” Hayabe said. He added that ATALA was happy with the arrangement.Shortly after the letter was issued, and before the 18 July deadline, government representatives met multiple times with ATALA in Angore for negotiations and to complete the SMLI process. Hayabe said it felt like ATALA was finally being listened to and taken seriously.Hayabe said a draft memorandum of understanding between ATALA and the government was now being reviewed and could be signed as soon as Sept. 7. He said he expected senior ministers to be present at the signing, including the deputy prime minister.Hayabe said the landowners were satisfied with the conflict resolution process, and that it was a relief to be nearing an agreement after years of struggle.ExxonMobil and the other companies involved in the project are not part of any agreements on how revenue streams are shared with landowners or branches of government, an ExxonMobil spokesperson said, adding that the company was not participating in any MoUs “in relation to landowner benefits.”Oil Search, PNG LNG’s second-largest stakeholder, stated in its 2018 half-year results, released on Aug. 21, that Papua New Guinea’s government “is making good progress on resolving outstanding [PNG LNG] issues.”The statement said $200 million in unpaid landowner royalties were “being held in trust” until the SMLI process for PNG LNG was complete. Oil Search said it was “continuing to support the government where it can, to ensure a speedy release of these funds to the rightful beneficiaries.”Children hold signs supporting traditional landowner group ATALA. Image courtesy of ATALA.The situation on the groundHayabe confirmed that roads in Angore that had been blockaded were now cleared. “We are so happy with the government that they responded,” he said. But he cautioned that ATALA was still “controlling everything on the ground.”While ATALA awaits the arrival of royalty payments and the completion of the SMLI process, the organization wants to “make it clear to the state, developers and all concerned parties that Angore PNG LNG construction will be put on hold,” Hayabe said.If a swift resolution is not reached, he warned of a repeat of the earlier “destruction.” “It will be a big problem, there will be no cars moving around, no construction,” he said.For the use of its land to develop PNG LNG, the government owes ATALA millions, and will have to pay to ensure a peaceful end to the conflict, Juffa said.For now, construction in Angore remains incomplete until ExxonMobil PNG is confident that work can resume safely, its spokesperson said. The company’s staff continue to be reassigned from working in Angore, and the company is closely monitoring the situation, the spokesperson said.ATALA demanded that representatives of the government and the state-owned oil company travel to the highlands for meetings. Image courtesy of ATALA.Finding the Money Oil Search reported a 39 percent year-on-year decrease in its January-June 2018 profits. It attributed the decline to a drop in shipments from PNG LNG due to the February Highlands earthquake.The magnitude of the financial impact of the Angore unrest has still not been publicized. Despite the protests and blockades, Oil Search has signed two new deals. On July 20, the company finalized its first sale in five years, for 1.3 million tonnes a year to be supplied from PNG LNG to PetroChina. Then, on Aug. 17, Oil Search signed another supply agreement, with BP.Oil Search also said that ExxonMobil PNG was in the midst of numerous negotiations for new LNG supply agreements, to be completed in the near term.Those deals won’t necessarily translate to easily available cash for landowner payments. On Aug. 11, the Wall Street Journal reported Papua New Guinea’s treasurer, Charles Abel, saying that despite the state’s heavy investments in PNG LNG, “we have not had the corresponding revenue growth.”It also reported that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in response to questioning in Parliament that “royalty payments for landowners of the PNG LNG project will only be released after proper landowner identification is completed through the clan-vetting process.”This story was updated Sept. 3 to clarify that only operations at the PNG LNG site in Angore have been suspended.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Isabel Esterman Activism, Energy, Environment, Governance, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Infrastructure, Land Grabbing, Natural Gas, Resource Conflict center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

NBA: Retired Bryant says he’s a ‘phone call away’ if Lakers need advice

first_imgMotorcycle taxis ‘illegal’ starting next week — LTFRB board member View comments MOST READ Being the private individual that he is, Bryant did not disclose the potential advice he’ll dish out, but said he’ll proceed with a low-key approach concerning the development of the team’s current young but extremely raw nucleus.“Now, being front and center about it, it’s not something that is really my cup of tea. I’d rather be behind the scenes and focus on the content I’m creating because that’s where my passion truly lies, but the Buss family knows that I’m always a phone call away,” he said.As of this writing, the Lakers have yet to take Bryant up on his offer, but the idea does not seem far-fetched – the team earlier this week had a meeting with another Laker great, Magic Johnson, regarding the direction of the franchise. Khristian IbarrolaADVERTISEMENT Wright admits guarding ‘energy bunny’ Thompson took toll on him NBA: Lakers suffer historic rout in Mavericks blowoutWith their glory days looking more like an afterthought, the team’s brass is looking to get all the help they could get, and luckily, their recently-retired superstar Kobe Bryant is extending his hand.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnOn the eleventh year of his exemplary 81-point performance in a single game against the Toronto Raptors, the five-time NBA champion shared his willingness to offer guidance if asked by the Lakers management—particularly the Buss family—whom he was worked closely with during the course of his career.“I’m always around behind the scenes for Jeanie, Jimmy, and the entire Buss family if they need assistance or if it be to reach out or call for advice and things of that nature,” Bryant told sportscaster Stephen A. Smith on ESPN radio, as relayed by the LakersNation website. Ben&Ben, IV of Spades, SB19 win big at 5th Wish Music Awards Palace: Crisis over ABS-CBN franchise unlikely LATEST STORIES Anne Curtis talks about renewing faith in God amid the world’s ‘noise and clutter’ DILG to lock shops in Tagaytay City, other areas near Taal Kobe Bryant is more than willing to give his two cents regarding the Lakers’ struggles. (AP/Rick Bowmer)The Los Angeles Lakers remain as one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, but to say that the team has hit a rough patch in recent years would simply be an understatement.The California-based squad’s woes continue this season, highlighted by a devastating 49-point drubbing against the equally-struggling Dallas Mavericks on Sunday (Monday in Manila).ADVERTISEMENT Luis Manzano jokes about Mikee Morada’s proposal to Alex Gonzaga: ‘Baka nagtali lang ng sintas’ Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite DILG to lock shops in Tagaytay City, other areas near Taal Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Bulacan inmates, jail guards raise donations for Taal victims Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac townlast_img read more

Rim defeated by Hemet Valley

first_img MT. BALDY LEAGUE Chaffey 54, Don Lugo 38 Freshman guard Teonna Campbell led all players with 15 points as the Tigers (15-6 overall, 4-2 league) defeated the visiting Conquistadores. Sophomore guard Angelica Peralta scored 12 points for Don Lugo (10-10, 4-2) in the loss. Staff Reports Eric Lawton was too much for the Fighting Scots, scoring 32 points as visiting Hemet Valley West won a nonleague game over Rim of the World, 62-53. Dwight Wood scored 18 points, and Kyle Michael added 12 for Rim of the World (6-16), which plays host to Serrano at 6:30 p.m. tonight. GIRLS center_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Messi appears in court at tax fraud trial

first_img0Shares0000Barcelona’s Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi (C) arrives to court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi (3rd R) to stand trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, Spain, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea.BARCELONA, Spain, June 2 – Argentina and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, arrived Thursday at a Barcelona court to take the stand for the first time at his tax fraud trial in Spain.The 28-year-old, who wore a black suit and tie, was cheered and jeered as he emerged from a van accompanied by his father Jorge Horacio Messi. The two are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi’s income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.Dozens of photographers and onlookers crowded behind metal barriers and a line of police that guarded the entrance of the court to catch a glimpse of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.Most applauded but some jeered and criticised the player.“If he cheated, he has to be sentenced no matter how much of an idol and Ballon d’Or winner he is. These are four million euros less to pay for hospitals, schools, firefighters, roads,” Jose Seco de Herrero, 25, told AFP.“Thief!,” yelled out one onlooker. “Go play in Panama,” cried out another.The tax fraud trial comes at a time of simmering voter anger over steep government cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain’s public deficit down.Messi and his father will be questioned on Thursday on the third day of the trial. It is expected to wrap up on Friday.After his court appearance in Barcelona, Messi will jet off to the United States where Argentina take on Copa America defending champions Chile in their first game of the three-week tournament in California on Monday.The high-profile case kicked off on Tuesday without Messi, as he was recovering in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina from a lower back injury he suffered during a friendly match against Honduras last week.Under Spanish law, a defendant is not obliged to attend the full trial if prosecutors seek a jail sentence of less than two years — as is the case here.– Voluntary payment –Messi’s former tax advisors came out in support of the football star when they took the stand on Wednesday, saying the player never handled his own wealth management.He “didn’t take any decisions and I didn’t see anyone consulting him for anything”, Angel Juarez, one of the partners at law firm Juarez Veciana which managed Messi’s tax affairs at the time, told the court.Inigo de Loyola Juarez, another partner and Juarez’s brother, added: “I don’t know if any of my correspondence has been included in the case, but they will see that Lionel Messi does not appear in any of it.”The Barcelona forward and his defence team have long argued that Messi’s father handled the footballer’s finances without reporting to him, and the striker was not aware of any wrongdoing.Both Messi and his father, who has managed his son’s affairs since he was a child, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud.Spanish prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of 22-and-a-half months for them if they are found guilty, plus fines equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded.But any such sentence would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.Messi and his father made a voluntary payment of 5.0 million euros ($5.6 million)– equal to the amount of the alleged unpaid taxes plus interest — in August 2013 after being formally investigated, which is expected to mitigate any sentence if they are found guilty.Messi has scored 314 goals in 348 appearances for Barcelona. He boasts eight La Liga titles and is a four-times winner of the Champions League and Copa del Rey with the club.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Kenya to host Cecafa Senior Challenge and Kagame Cup

first_imgThe Kagame Cup which was earlier scheduled for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in June/July, will be held in December with Kenya being represented by Kenyan Premier League defending champions Gor Mahia and last year’s runner-ups Ulinzi Stars.The dates are yet to be set as the regional governing body is working with Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and potential sponsors to finalize the details.“I believe Kenya will organize a good tournament compared to 2013 which was shambolic. The Cecafa Kagame Cup will be held in Kenya where the host country will be represented by Gor Mahia and Ulinzi Stars but we are looking at adding another third team from Kenya but that will depend on whether all invited teams will confirm participation,” Musonye said while making the announcement.Musonye says the reason of altering the dates of the tournament to December is to give the regional clubs an opportunity to prepare for the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, with Musonye saying it is high time a team from the region gets into the group stages.“Beginning next year, the group stage of both the Champions League and the Confederations Cup will have 16 teams. We should be able to produce two or three clubs from this region into that stage. Having the tournament in December will give these teams an opportunity to prepare themselves,” Musonye offered.However, this will pose a huge challenge to Kenyan clubs with the local calendar running between February and November.Gor Mahia FC team posing for a team photo/Timothy Oobulu.With the club championship coming hot on the heels of the Senior Challenge Cup, it will mean the top two clubs which play in continental football the following year will have less time for rest.Meanwhile, the Secretary General has said their struggles with finances is a thing of the past as they have managed to secure sponsorship for most of their programs next year whilst also revealing FIFA has agreed to finance its youth and women programs.‘We have worked so hard and from next year, we will have more programs. We have sponsors ready for the tournaments and definitely, things will run better,” Musonye disclosed.This comes even as a number of regional federation bosses are said to be preparing a move to oust Musonye who has been at the body since 1999.But the experienced football administrator who is also the regional CAF coordinator in East Africa says he is not afraid of an ouster.“I have been in CECAFA since 1999 and every year, there has been talk of a coup. I am not afraid, let them come. If someone is not happy with what I am doing, there is a process that should be followed,” added Musonye.Kenya last hosted the Kagame Club championship in 2001 where Tusker beat Oserian on post match penalties to lift the title on home soil.Musonye confirmed that the second edition of the Nile basin tournament that was scheduled for this year has been cancelled due to lack of logistics but remained positive Uganda will host the Under-17 tournament  in 2017.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000The Kagame Cup which was earlier scheduled for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in June/July, will be held in December with Kenya being represented by Kenyan Premier League defending champions Gor Mahia and last year’s runner-ups Ulinzi Stars. PHOTO/Timothy olobulu.NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8 – Kenya will host both the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and Kagame Club Championship this year, Secretary General Nicholas Musonye confirmed on Thursday.Musonye said the Senior Challenge Cup will be held in November where Harambee Stars will be seeking to reclaim the title for the first time since 2013 when they last hosted the event.last_img read more

FIGHT! Watch Speedway stars scrap on track after crash

first_imgSpeedway world champion Greg Hancock snapped after a collision with Nicki Pedersen forced him off his bike. Check out the pair brawling on the track in the video above!last_img

Fantasy Premier League tips: Six Sergio Aguero replacements you must consider

first_img Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City) – £6.9m – Click the right arrow for more advice – Why not get in the man who will actually replace Aguero at Manchester City? His goals-per-game ratio is fantastic and his pace could worry teams. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) – £11.8m – Click the right arrow for more advice on who you could bring in for Aguero – He’s been in the goals, just like Aguero, since his move to Manchester. He’s likely to bag a few and is also on penalty duty. He’s the wise choice, but it means you’re likely to have the same striker as most other players. Lucas Perez (Arsenal) – £8.5m – Click the right arrow for more advice – Perez is an unknown quantity in the Premier League, but he’s going to give the Gunners something different up front. His pace could trouble defences and he could grab some goals and assists. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) – £7.4m – Yes, we are serious. The Belgian star is going to be the main man for the Eagles and has games against Middlesbrough, Stoke and Sunderland coming up. He’s worth a punt if you want something different. When Sergio Aguero received his three-match suspension last week, Fantasy Premier League players were, arguably, more affected than Manchester City fans.The levels of despair on Twitter were incredible and now tough decisions have to be made.FANTASY PREMIER LEAUE GAMEWEEK 4 TRANSFER TIPS HEREYou’re going to want a replacement for the Argentine and have plenty of choice given his fee is the biggest in the game.But who will you want to bring in to replace him?Click the right arrow above to see six possible signings… Diego Costa (Chelsea) – £9.7m – Click the right arrow for more advice – The bruising centre forward has had a solid start to the new season, and with matches against Swansea, Liverpool and Arsenal on the horizon he could bully teams into submission. 6 Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – £9.0m – Click the right arrow for more advice – No goals so far, but the Toffees are about to hit a nice run of games. If he can get in the matches, he’ll get amongst the goals, giving you plenty of points. 6 6 6 6 6last_img read more

Bombs kill 11 on soccer field

first_imgThe Iraqis have been given security responsibility in only one of 18 provinces – Muthanna. It is a remote southern province with an overwhelmingly Shiite population and is among the most peaceful in the country. “What he meant is that the process will be under way by the end of this year,” said Talabani’s media adviser, Hiwa Osman. “We are not expecting a complete hand-over by the end of this year – nobody really is.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he did not see Talibani’s remarks but hopes Iraqis will take over as conditions permit. “He’s the president of Iraq, and he can make his statements. And I didn’t see the context of it or the translation of it, and I can’t comment beyond what our policy is.” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said there are “too many variables” to make any kind of firm prediction about the hand-over of security. “The Iraqi security forces are making great progress. Every week, every month, they get more capable,” Whitman said at the Pentagon.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD, Iraq – Bombs exploded on a soccer field Wednesday killing 11 young people, and at least 42 other people – two of them Americans – died elsewhere in sectarian or political violence. Still, the president said plans are on track for Iraqis to take over security. The two homemade bombs went off on a soccer field in the mostly Shiite district of Amil in west Baghdad, killing both players and spectators ranging in age from 15 to 25, police 1st Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq said. Two mortar shells struck another Shiite district, Abu Dshir, killing three people under age 15, police Capt. Firas Queti said. One shell exploded on a soccer field and the other hit a house, wounding a couple and their child, he said. Two Americans died in combat in Anbar province, the Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. One was a Marine assigned to the Army’s 1st Armored Division and the other was a soldier with the 9th Naval Construction Regiment, the command said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesNo group claimed responsibility for the Baghdad attacks, which appeared to be part of the tit-for-tat attacks by Sunni and Shiite extremists. The attacks threaten the unity government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which took office May 20. The surge in sectarian violence has prompted the U.S. command to send at least 3,700 American soldiers from the northern city of Mosul to reclaim the capital’s streets from Sunni insurgents, Shiite militias, rogue police, criminals and freelance gunmen. Despite the violence, President Jalal Talabani said the government remains confident it can cope with the security crisis and vanquish extremist groups, calling recent attacks “the last arrows in their quivers.” “We are highly optimistic that we will terminate terrorism this year,” Talabani said. “The Iraqi forces will take over security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of this year gradually, and if God’s will, we will take the lead.” Talabani’s prediction was far rosier than those from U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials, and the president’s staff quickly sought to explain that he was referring to the beginning of a “process” for Iraqis to assume control, not the final step. last_img read more

Mauricio Pochettino backs Harry Kane to become permanent England captain

first_imgMauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham striker Harry Kane is ready to become England’s full-time skipper.The 24-year-old has previously worn the armband for the Three Lions as manager Gareth Southgate has rotated his captain since Wayne Rooney was left out of the squad.The Everton forward has now retired from international football, leaving a void of experience.It remains to be seen if Southgate will install a permanent captain, having utilised Kane, Joe Hart and Jordan Henderson in the role in recent games.Kane has led out England in their last two matches, scoring three goals in that time, and his boss at Spurs reckons he can be relied on to take the role again.Asked if Kane was ready to be captain, Pochettino replied: “Yes, but that is not my decision.“It is Gareth Southgate’s decision. But I think Harry Kane is ready and his character is fantastic to be a captain.“It is not my decision but if that happened, I would be very happy if the decision of Gareth Southgate were to give the armband to Harry.”Kane, who has still never scored a Premier League goal in the month of August, will have another chance to end that hoodoo when Spurs host Burnley at Wembley on Sunday.Pochettino will be hoping to have new club-record signing Davinson Sanchez involved but admits it all depends on how quickly a work permit can be issued for the Colombia international. “The work permit, we are waiting,” he said when asked about the former Ajax defender.“We will see if he is available to be selected for the weekend. At the moment, we will see.“In the last week he was not involved in training for Ajax. Always difficult for him. “He trained with us yesterday and will train with us again. We are waiting for the work permit so we have to wait.“For me, the important thing is that he is so young – 21 years old. He is one of the most important and talented young players in Europe. He is so fast. We are so pleased to sign him and have him with us.”Pochettino also signed goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga from Southampton during the week as Spurs finally started to land players having not brought in any new faces in time for the start of the season.They have been heavily linked with Paris St Germain full-back Serge Aurier in recent days and Pochettino admits there could be as many as three further additions before the transfer window closes on August 31.“Maybe three more (signings),” he said.“I am confident. We are working hard to change the squad and bring more players in. From our chairman Daniel (Levy) and Steve (Hitchen) our chief scout, trying to find the right profile.“We are working hard to strengthen our squad. I think it is so exciting now ahead of the Champions League and Premier League.“We need to sign a few more players and a few players need to leave the club. They need to feel they can play more and they want to play more. That is a normal period in every club.” The 24-year-old has previously worn the armband for the Three Lions 1last_img read more

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte realistic about Premier League title defence

first_img1 The Blues trail leaders Manchester City by nine points Chelsea must be “realistic” in their quest to chase down leaders Manchester City and set their Premier League title defence back on track, according to Antonio Conte.Boss Conte has admitted the Blues deserve to sit fourth in the table after a patchy 10 games in an early-season stint containing “a lot of problems”.Eden Hazard’s first Premier League goal of the season guided Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, leaving Conte charting an upward curve for the weeks ahead.“At this moment we must be realistic by going game by game,” said Conte, when asked to assess Chelsea’s chances of catching Premier League leaders City.“We have 19 points and we deserve to have 19 points.“We are first in our group in the Champions League. We went into the next round of the Carabao Cup after going out in the second round last season.“I’m very happy with this group. There are players who are very honest, players who want to fight until the end for something important.“Are we able to do this? I don’t know. But we will try to stay there.“I know very well that, in England in this league, there are six top teams, very strong. Four go into the Champions League. Two have to stay out and play Europa League.“Today it was important: a good win, also because the other teams all won, apart from Tottenham who lost.”Striker Alvaro Morata has now gone five games in all competitions without a goal – but Conte believes the Spain hitman will soon hit his peak after injury.Morata missed a gilt-edged chance and also had a goal incorrectly chalked off over a bad call on a Cesar Azpilicueta offside.“Honestly, I’m happy with his commitment, his desire, his will to fight,” said Conte, of Morata.“For sure, he can do better but, don’t forget, he is recovering from a muscular problem.“When you have this type of problem, it needs a bit of time to come back to the best physical condition. But I’m very happy with his performance.”N’Golo Kante missed Saturday’s Bournemouth victory despite returning to training after hamstring trouble, but could now face Roma in Tuesday’s Champions League clash.“I hope, I hope; he could be ready,” said Conte.“But you know very well the importance of this player. I want to be sure he is ready. I’d prefer not to take a risk. If he’s ready, he plays.”last_img read more