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Guinea-Bissau ex-navy chief held in US on drugs charges

Posted by WhatsUpNaija on April 6, 2013 at 4:40 AM

A former chief of the navy in Guinea-Bissau has appeared in a US court on charges linked to cocaine trafficking, officials have said.

Rear Adm Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto was flown to New York after he was detained while travelling on a yacht in the east Atlantic.

Adm Na Tchuto is described by the US as a kingpin in Guinea-Bissau's huge drugs trade.

The small West African state is a staging post for drug-smuggling gangs.

Cocaine is smuggled to Guinea-Bissau from Latin America before finding its way to Europe as well as the US.

Asset-freeze The indictment against Adm Na Tchuto and two other defendants states they were middlemen in a huge drug-smuggling operation originating in Latin America, AFP news agency reports.

It alleges they "worked together to receive ton-quantities of cocaine, transported by vessel from South America to Guinea-Bissau, and then to store the cocaine in Guinea-Bissau before its shipment to other locations, including the United States".

Public television in the Cape Verde Islands reported that Adm Na Tchuto and four other Guinea-Bissau nationals were taken into custody aboard a yacht in international waters in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

They were arrested by US federal drug agents, a law enforcement official told Associated Press. The boat they were travelling on was reportedly displaying a Panama flag.

Small, often uninhabited, islands off West Africa are often used as smuggling points The five were then taken to nearby Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony about 1,000km (620 miles) west of Guinea-Bissau, the TV station reported.

They were then flown on to the United States. They appeared briefly at the US district court in Manhattan on Friday and all five were ordered to be held in custody without bail, AP reported.

Guinea-Bissau government spokesman Fernando Vaz told AP that he hoped that Adm Na Tchuto would receive fair legal treatment and representation in the US.

A booming cocaine trade has turned Guinea-Bissau - a country also plagued by coups - into what correspondents say is a narco-state with key members of the military complicit in the trade, including several army and navy chiefs who are now on a US blacklist.

Experts say that the military has been widely corrupted by violent and well-financed drug gangs - and because Guinea-Bissau is a small country, its institutions are weak.

Furthermore it has a coastline that is filled with inlets, mangroves and places to hide so it is geographically well-positioned for drugs smugglers.

Adm Na Tchuto - whose assets were frozen by Washington in 2010 - was arrested after a failed coup in Guinea-Bissau in December 2011, but released in June.

The current transitional government, which took over after the military-backed coup in April 2012, does not have full international recognition.

'Dozens die' in Nigeria road crash

At least 36 people, including children, have reportedly been killed in a major road accident in southern Nigeria.

The collision on the Benin-Ore motorway in Edo state involved a bus, a lorry and a petrol tanker, Nigerian officials were quoted as saying by news agencies.

The tanker exploded after the collision, and most of the victims were reportedly on board the bus. The cause of the accident is being investigated.

Nigeria has one of the worst road accident records in Africa.

Friday's collision happened at about 13:30 local time (12:30 GMT) near the Ugboguii village, the local officials say.

Jonas Agwu, a spokesman for Nigeria's Federal Road Safety Commission, said the dead included 30 passengers from the bus, the AFP news agency reports.

Four people from the tanker died as well as two children who were at a nearby mechanic workshop, the spokesman added. Three people were rescued.

The accident closed the busy motorway linking the commercial capital Lagos with the south-east of the country.

It comes just two days after a head-on collision between two buses in central Nigeria killed 18 people.

Last July, more than 100 people died in southern Nigeria after a tanker carrying petrol crashed.

The vehicle did not immediately burst into flames so nearby villagers rushed to collect the fuel. But the tanker then exploded, burning many of them to death.

Film-maker Lee Halpin death: Two men arrested

Two people have been arrested in connection with the death of a film-maker who died while sleeping rough for a documentary.

Lee Halpin, 26, was found by police on Wednesday morning at a derelict hostel on Westgate Road in Newcastle.

Two men, aged 26 and 30, have been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug.

They have been bailed pending further inquiries.

A post-mortem examination is due to be held on Tuesday.

'Sociable nature' Mr Halpin, from Heaton in Newcastle, was making a documentary about sleeping rough on the streets when he died.

He said he intended to "immerse myself" in the lifestyle of a homeless person.

Mr Halpin worked at Northumbria Students' Union and co-founded Novel Magazine, which covers arts and culture in the North East.

Kerry Kitchin, a friend since school and fellow co-founder of Novel Magazine, said Mr Halpin had a "sociable nature".

United can have the title, but we are not 15 points worse than them, insists Mancini

He said: "He didn't even tell me he was doing this documentary, because he thought I'd disapprove of it and have a go at him for it, but, despite what's happened, I still wouldn't have. I think it was a noble idea."



They have played very well, they have won a lot of games.'The last 18 (unbeaten) - the last time they lost was Norwich.

'They deserve to stay on the top, but not 15 points. It is not a true table.

'Now we have eight games. If we play well, if we win a lot of these games, maybe we can reduce this gap.

'This should be our target in this moment.'


United can have the title, but we are not 15 points worse than them, insists Mancini

By Andy Hampson, Press Association

PUBLISHED:16:10 GMT, 5 April 2013| UPDATED:16:24 GMT, 5 April 2013

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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims Manchester United's sizeable lead in the Barclays Premier League exaggerates the difference between the two sides.

United hold a 15-point advantage over their rivals heading into Monday's derby clash at Old Trafford.

With just eight games remaining, Mancini has already conceded the title to United but the Italian is determined to cut the deficit to a figure he believes more accurately reflects the on-field gap.

Mancini said: 'We don't deserve to stay 15 points behind.

Preparation: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has said rivals United do not 'deserve' their 15 point lead

'They have played very well, they have won a lot of games.

'The last 18 (unbeaten) - the last time they lost was Norwich.

'They deserve to stay on the top, but not 15 points. It is not a true table.

'Now we have eight games. If we play well, if we win a lot of these games, maybe we can reduce this gap.

'This should be our target in this moment.'

Preparation: Carlos Tevez (centre) shoots at City's Carrington training ground

New deal: Yaya Toure (right) penned a new four-year deal at City on Thursday

City memorably thrashed United 6-1 when they visited Old Trafford last season. Mancini is certainly not expecting a repeat.

'This is impossible,' he said. 'This can happen every 100 years.'

But he does expect his team to give everything, even though the title seems out of reach and they face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals the following week.


He said: 'If it is not important for the table or the title race, I think the derby is always a derby. It is important for us and for them.

'We have pressure, always. It will be like the first (derby). I think every derby is important.

'We want to show we don't deserve to stay 15 points behind and we can reduce the gap from now to the end.


'But the title race is finished.'


City go into the game on the back of an encouraging 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle and boosted by the news key midfielder Yaya Toure has signed a new four-year contract.

The influential Ivory Coast international has committed himself to the Etihad Stadium until 2017, ending speculation he could leave in the summer.

Mancini said: 'I am happy because Yaya, for me, is one of the best players in the world and we are happy he plays for us and he stays here for another four years.

'I think it is very important for the club.'

Toure turns 30 in May but Mancini does not see that as an issue.

The Italian, speaking at a press conference to preview Monday's game, said: 'I think that Yaya is a player that can play until 36, 37 because he can play in front of the defence, like a central defender.

'I think he can play every position. I think when he is very old, like me, he can play as a defender.'

Playmaker David Silva signed a new five-year contract earlier in the season and Mancini expects more deals to be agreed with existing players in the coming months.

Two that could become a priority are Carlos Tevez and Gareth Barry, who will both enter the final years of their contracts in the summer.


Mancini said: 'We have time to talk about this.

'I didn't speak with him about this.

'I think that Carlos did a mistake and he will pay for this, but usually he has good behaviour.'

Another City player, Samir Nasri, was also banned from driving this week. Mancini does not think these incidents reflect badly on the club.

He said: 'I don't think this. This is their private life. "We can do nothing about this. This can happen sometimes.'





Sweeping anti-abortion bill goes to Kansas gov.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins "at fertilization" while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby's sex.

The House voted 90-30 for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences between the two chambers, only hours after the Senate approved it, 28-10. The Republican governor is a strong abortion opponent, and supporters of the measure expect him to sign it into law so that the new restrictions take effect July 1.

In addition to the bans on tax breaks and sex-selection abortions, the bill prohibits abortion providers from being involved in public school sex education classes and spells out in more detail what information doctors must provide to patients seeking abortions.

The measure's language that life begins "at fertilization" had some abortion-rights supporters worrying that it could be used to legally harass providers. Abortion opponents call it a statement of principle and not an outright ban on terminating pregnancies.

"The human is a magnificent piece of work at all stages of development, wondrous in every regard, from the microscopic until full development," said Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican who supported the bill.

Abortion opponents argue the full measure lessens the state's entanglement with terminating pregnancies, but abortion-rights advocates say it threatens access to abortion services.

The declaration that life begins at fertilization is embodied in "personhood" measures in other states. Such measures are aimed at revising their constitutions to ban all abortions, and none have been enacted, though North Dakota voters will have one on the ballot in 2014.

But Kansas lawmakers aren't trying to change the state constitution, and the measure notes that any rights suggested by the language are limited by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. It declared in its historic Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that women have a right to obtain abortions in some circumstances, and has upheld that decision while allowing increasing restrictions by states.

Thirteen states, including Missouri, have such language in their laws, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

Sen. David Haley, a Kansas Democrat who opposed the bill, zeroed in on the statement, saying that supporters of the bill were pursuing a "Taliban-esque" course of letting religious views dictate policy limiting women's ability to make decisions about health care and whether they'll have children.

And in the House, Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat, complained that the bill was "about politics, not medicine."

"It's the very definition of government intrusion in a woman's personal medical decisions," he said.

Brownback has signed multiple anti-abortion measures into law, and the number of pregnancies terminated in the state has declined 11 percent since he took office in January 2011.

The governor said he still has to review this year's bill thoroughly but added, "I am pro-life."

This year's legislation is less restrictive than a new North Dakota law that bans abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy and a new Arkansas law prohibiting most abortions after the 12th week. But many abortion opponents still see it as a significant step.

"There is a clear statement from Kansas with respect to the judgment on the inherent value of human life," said Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee Chairwoman Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican and leading advocate for the measure.

The bill passed despite any solid data on how many sex-selection abortions are performed in Kansas. A 2008 study by two Columbia University economists suggested the practice of aborting female fetuses — widespread in some nations where parents traditionally prefer sons — is done in the U.S. on a limited basis.

But legislators on both sides of the issue said the practice should be banned, however frequent it is.

The bill also would require physicians to give women information that addresses breast cancer as a potential risk of abortion. Advocates on both sides acknowledge there's medical evidence that carrying a fetus to term can lower a woman's risk for breast cancer, but doctors convened by the National Cancer Institute a decade ago concluded that abortion does not raise the risk for developing the disease.

The provisions dealing with tax breaks are designed to prevent the state from subsidizing abortions, even indirectly. For example, health care providers don't have the pay the state sales tax on items they purchase, but the bill would deny that break to abortion providers. Also, a woman could not include abortion costs if she deducts medical expenses on her income taxes.

"Every taxpayer will be able to know with certainty that their money is not being used for abortion," Pilcher-Cook said.

But Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel for the New York City-based Center for Reproductive Rights, called the tax provisions "appalling and discriminatory."

"It's probably, if not definitely unconstitutional, and it's incredibly mean-spirited," she said.


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