1st El Clasico 2013 Real Madrid, Barcelona ended in 1-1 draw

251078_newsThe shares were spoiled in a pulsating El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu, as a thumping late header from Raphael Varane earned Real Madrid a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona.

The Catalan side looked to have put one foot in the final as they led late on after Cesc Fabregas had put them 1-0 up with a well-taken goal shortly after the break, only for Madrid’s young defender Varane to secure the home team a draw in the 81st minute.

Madrid were without five first-team players for their fourth Clasico of the season, as Iker Casillas and Pepe missed out because of injury, while the likes of Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria were all absent through suspension. Barcelona, meanwhile, named a full-strength starting line-up.

For all their missing men it was los Blancos that made the brighter start of the two sides. Within a minute of kick-off Ronaldo was charging at the heart of the Barcelona defence, and his driving run towards goal was only stopped by a cynical challenge from Gerard Pique. The Portuguese attacker took the set piece himself and proceeded to force Pinto into making a fine diving stop.

In the 12th minute a moment of mastery from Andres Iniesta created a chance for the overlapping Jordi Alba, but the Barcelona left-back could only volley wide of Diego Lopez’s goal after bursting through the Madrid defence and connecting with Iniesta’s effortless chipped pass.

Moments after being booked for a mistimed challenge on Cesc Fabregas, Ricardo Carvalho bundled into Iniesta 25 yards from goal, and from the resulting free kick Xavi came within inches of giving Barcelona the lead, as his devilish curling effort rattled the crossbar with Lopez beaten.

Carvalho then nearly supplied an assist for Barcelona when his tame back-pass allowed Messi to steal the ball and tee up Xavi inside the Madrid box. The Barcelona midfielder arrowed a shot towards the bottom left corner but Madrid’s young centre-back Varane was there on the line to brilliantly hack Xavi’s goal-bound strike away from danger.

On the half hour mark, Karim Benzema nearly scored for the home side when he found space in behind the Barcelona back-line to meet Jose Callejon’s superb pass and send a volley crashing into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Somehow, a frantic opening first half ended 0-0 despite an avalanche of chances being created by two teams putting clear emphasis on attack rather than defence.

Madrid mimicked their strong start to the first half after the break and fashioned a chance after just 40 seconds of the second period – Benzema hammering a shot over 18 yards from goal.

Despite their pressure Madrid found themselves a goal behind in the 50th minute when Fabregas clinically side-footed the ball past Lopez after being played in by Messi. Just a single touch was needed by Messi to both dispossess Xabi Alonso and play a weighted through ball into the path of Fabregas, with the former Arsenal captain producing a cool finish to give the Catalan side a 1-0 lead.

Then, if not for a sumptuously timed challenge from Varane, Fabregas could well have given Barcelona a two-goal lead. The Frenchman’s tackle on his opponent brought Jose Mourinho to his feet, and prompted the coach to make an immediate change with his team on the back foot – introducing Luka Modric for Callejon.

Ronaldo then missed a glorious opportunity to head Madrid level from close range, but he could not test Pinto after connecting with Essien’s teasing cross from the right.

Pique, perhaps not to be outshone by Varane up the other end, then produced an equally brilliant tackle on Ronaldo as the Portugal international shaped to send a shot goalwards inside the Barcelona penalty area.

With Barcelona seemingly set to hold out for the win, up popped Varane in the 81st minute to rise highest and send an emphatic header past Pinto from Mesut Ozil’s free kick to make it 1-1 and set up an enticing second leg at Camp Nou on February 26.

El Clasico 2013: Real Madrid v Barcelona Live!

_65600931_65600930El Clasico 2013: Real Madrid 1 v 1 Barcelona

The shares were spoiled in a pulsating Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu, as a thumping late header from Raphael Varane earned Real Madrid a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona.

The Catalan side looked to have put one foot in the final as they led late on after Cesc Fabregas had put them 1-0 up with a well-taken goal shortly after the break, only for Madrid’s young defender Varane to secure the home team a draw in the 81st minute.

Madrid were without five first-team players for their fourth Clasico of the season, as Iker Casillas and Pepe missed out because of injury, while the likes of Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria were all absent through suspension. Barcelona, meanwhile, named a full-strength starting line-up.

For all their missing men it was los Blancos that made the brighter start of the two sides. Within a minute of kick-off Ronaldo was charging at the heart of the Barcelona defence, and his driving run towards goal was only stopped by a cynical challenge from Gerard Pique. The Portuguese attacker took the set piece himself and proceeded to force Pinto into making a fine diving stop.

In the 12th minute a moment of mastery from Andres Iniesta created a chance for the overlapping Jordi Alba, but the Barcelona left-back could only volley wide of Diego Lopez’s goal after bursting through the Madrid defence and connecting with Iniesta’s effortless chipped pass.

Moments after being booked for a mistimed challenge on Cesc Fabregas, Ricardo Carvalho bundled into Iniesta 25 yards from goal, and from the resulting free kick Xavi came within inches of giving Barcelona the lead, as his devilish curling effort rattled the crossbar with Lopez beaten.

Carvalho then nearly supplied an assist for Barcelona when his tame back-pass allowed Messi to steal the ball and tee up Xavi inside the Madrid box. The Barcelona midfielder arrowed a shot towards the bottom left corner but Madrid’s young centre-back Varane was there on the line to brilliantly hack Xavi’s goal-bound strike away from danger.

On the half hour mark, Karim Benzema nearly scored for the home side when he found space in behind the Barcelona back-line to meet Jose Callejon’s superb pass and send a volley crashing into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Somehow, a frantic opening first half ended 0-0 despite an avalanche of chances being created by two teams putting clear emphasis on attack rather than defence.

Madrid mimicked their strong start to the first half after the break and fashioned a chance after just 40 seconds of the second period – Benzema hammering a shot over 18 yards from goal.

Despite their pressure Madrid found themselves a goal behind in the 50th minute when Fabregas clinically side-footed the ball past Lopez after being played in by Messi. Just a single touch was needed by Messi to both dispossess Xabi Alonso and play a weighted through ball into the path of Fabregas, with the former Arsenal captain producing a cool finish to give the Catalan side a 1-0 lead.

Then, if not for a sumptuously timed challenge from Varane, Fabregas could well have given Barcelona a two-goal lead. The Frenchman’s tackle on his opponent brought Jose Mourinho to his feet, and prompted the coach to make an immediate change with his team on the back foot – introducing Luka Modric for Callejon.

Ronaldo then missed a glorious opportunity to head Madrid level from close range, but he could not test Pinto after connecting with Essien’s teasing cross from the right.

Pique, perhaps not to be outshone by Varane up the other end, then produced an equally brilliant tackle on Ronaldo as the Portugal international shaped to send a shot goalwards inside the Barcelona penalty area.

With Barcelona seemingly set to hold out for the win, up popped Varane in the 81st minute to rise highest and send an emphatic header past Pinto from Mesut Ozil’s free kick to make it 1-1 and set up an enticing second leg at Camp Nou on February 26. Goal.com

90 +2

Wonderful challenge from Puyol!!! The ball breaks to Ozil on the left and the German lashes an attempt at goal but the Barca captain blocks the strike with a superb tackle!

90 +1

A succession of Madrid corner kicks has Barcelona under real pressure here. They have kept solid in the final minutes though, not long to hold out!

90

yellow_card Xabi Alonso
90
Breathless end to the match. Barcelona look as if they have settled for the draw and it is Madrid who are piling forward in search of the winning goal. Surely not?!
89
Xabi Alonso gets in amongst the yellow cards. The Madrid man couldn’t resist a swipe at Messi when the Argentine was bursting through the middle. Deserved booking.
88
A lot of people would be looking at Diego Lopez possibly making a mistake tonight, but he has performed excellently in goal and dealt with everything that was thrown at him.

90

yellow_card Xabi Alonso
87
Brilliant save by Diego Lopez!!! Jordi Alba breaks through on goal and fires a half-volley towards the top corner but the Madrid ‘keeper tip the ball over with a strong right hand!
86
The Catalans may be fine with a draw. A 1-1 result is not a bad result to take back to Camp Nou, especially with that vital away goal in the bag.
85
substitution Substitution Out Cesc Fàbregas Substitution In Thiago Alcántara
85
Barcelona make their second change as Fabregas is replaced by Thiago Alcantara.
84
Just over five minutes remaining. The game is still incredibly open so we have plenty of time for a team to snatch the winner.
83
The Santiago Bernabeu faithful are urging their players forward to search for a winning goal. Now wouldn’t that be some turnaround?!
82
Don’t forget, Varane is making his Clasico debut this evening. I don’t think he’ll ever forget this one!

81

assist Mesut Özil
81
goal Goal Raphaël Varane
79
Superb challenge again from Varane!! Messi goes on trademark run through the middle and looks to burst into the penalty area but the 19-year-old snatches the ball back with yet another well-timed tackle. He has made some impression.
78
Messi finds the Real Madrid net but the ball is brought back for an offside. Alexis chipped a ball through the middle and the Argentine wonderfully lobbed Diego Lopez, but the Argentine was correctly flagged offside.
77
The Chilean has not found his best form in recent months for Barcelona. What a match this would be to catalyse your season.

76

substitution Substitution Out Pedro Substitution In Alexis Sánchez
75
Both sides surrendering possession fairly cheaply at the moment. Fair play to both teams, they have kept the tempo of their pressing at a high level so far. But how long can that last?
74
Obviously we still have the second leg to go, but Los Blancos really don’t want to be taking a deficit to a match at Camp Nou.
73
Now the tension has really cranked up. Those two Barcelona chances have gave Real Madrid a kick up the backside and they realise now that they will need to grab a goal before the 90 minutes is out.

72

yellow_card Daniel Alves
70
The game is end-to-end stuff now. There are definitely more goals in this!
69
Fabregas should score!!! Alves is in acres of space down the right and reverses a pass inside the box for the former Arsenal man, who lifts a shot over the crossbar from 12 yards out! It should be 2-0 Barca!

68

There has been tremendous commitment from both sides so far. It has not really been a fiery affair, but the determination is certainly there.

67

Pedro is making his 200th appearance for Barcelona tonight. Quiet a quiet game from him tonight, but he is always capable of popping up with a goal.
66
No pain no gain. Pique is down injured after clearing the ball away. He just took a sore one on the knee form Ronaldo after the tackle, but there was nothing malicious in it. He’ll be okay.
65
Brilliant challenge from Pique!! Ozil turns a superb cross to the back post from the right-hand side and Ronaldo, again, looks poised to smash home, but the Barca defender twists his body to pull the ball away from goal! Superb defending!

64

Arbeloa is lucky to be out of the referee’s book. He has put in a number of late challenges but so far has evaded a yellow card. The latest victim is Fabregas who stays down for a few moments.
63
substitution Substitution Out Karim Benzema Substitution In Gonzalo Higuaín
63
Second change of the match from Real Madrid. Karim Benzema is withdrawn for Gonzalo Higuain. That will be a like-for-like switch up top for the hosts.
62
Great save by Diego Lopez!! Alves picks up the ball just to the right of the box and drives a shot towards goal but the new Madrid goalkeeper stayed concentrated to beat the attempt away. Good block as the ball was moving all over the place.

61

Alves manages to keep the ball in down the right and floats a cross to the front post, but Carvalho is there to powerfully head the ball away. Better defending from the former Chelsea man.

60

Madrid growing in confidence now. I think we are in for a cracking last 30 minutes!
59
What a miss by Ronaldo!!! Essien curls a teasing cross to the back post and the Madrid captain looks certain to score, but heads wide from two yards!! Barcelona let off the hook!

59

What a miss by Ronaldo!!! Essien curls a teasing cross to the back post and the Madrid captain looks certain to score, but heads wide from two yards!! Barcelona let off the hook!

58

Jose Mourinho makes his first change of the match. Jose Callejon, who was at fault for Barcelona’s goal, comes off for Luka Modric.

58

substitution Substitution Out Callejón Substitution In Luka Modric
57
What a game Varane is having. In a game with Xavi, XabI Alonso, Iniesta and co. The the Frenchman was the only player in the first half not to give away the ball. Unbelievable stat.

58

substitution Substitution Out Callejón Substitution In Luka Modric
56
Fantastic challenge from Varane!! Fabregas is through on goal and bearing down on Diego Lopez but the Madrid defender shows incredible pace and determination to sprint back and claw the ball back with a slide challenge.

55

Madrid need to pick themselves up quickly. They don’t want to take an insurmountable deficit back to Camp Nou for the second leg.

53

The space is just starting to open for Barcelona. Essien and Arbeloa are defending much more narrowly and there is room being created on the wings as a result.

52

Madrid should not be too down heartened. With the firepower they have in attack, they are capable of scoring at any time in the match, or indeed the next leg.
51
The Catalans have the crucial away goal they were searching for. How vital will that prove to be?

50

goal Goal Cesc Fàbregas
GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL FOR BARCELONA!!! Madrid clear the ball out of the box but Messi nips in and tackles the ball into the path of Fabregas who runs through on goal and curls the ball into the bottom left corner! 1-0 Barcelona!
goal Goal Cesc Fàbregas
49
Barca are pressing very highly, which is a good tactic as Carvalho has not looked comfortable on the ball whatsoever.

47

Benzema balloons over the top! The Frenchman exchanges a lovely-one two with Ronaldo and receives the ball on the edge of the box, but he is leaning back and his attempt goes a few yards north of the crossbar.

46

We are back under way at Santiago Bernabeu!

Half time in Santiago Bernabeu. The Clasico is all square as we enter the break. Barcelona and Real Madrid have matched each other 50-50 do far with both sides exchanging decent opportunities inside the first 45 minutes. Alba and Benzema had the best chances to give their side the lead but neither was able to convert. Join us in 15 minutes for the second half! You don’t want to miss it!

45

One minute of added on time to be played.

44

Arbeloa is getting in amongst it again. This time his target is Iniesta, who was showing his sparkling feet inside the centre circle. Too rough from the Madrid man, however, and Barca get the free kick.
43
A goal before the break would really put the cat amongst the pigeons here. Neither side deserve to be a goal down really, and both will probably be relatively content going into half time at 0-0.
42
yellow_card Callejón
42
Xavi slides, as he so often does, a pass down the right to the onrushing Alves but the Brazilian’s deep cross evades everyone in the penalty area and Madrid manage to clear.
41
Third booking of the match goes to Jose Callejon. The Madrid man pulled the shirt of Alba down the left-hand side.
40
A light tiff breaks out as Xabi Alonso goes in slightly late on Dani Alves. Handbags ladies and gentleman!

39

Barca, once again, stifle the ascendancy of Real Madrid by patiently keeping possession at the back and deep in midfield.
38
The atmosphere has cranked up even more if it is possible! The Madrid faithful sense their players are on top at the moment and want them to go for a goal!
37
Great punch by Pinto. Madrid counterattack through Mesut Ozil down the middle and the ball finds its way to Arbeloa who lashes a strike at goal. The ball deflects up in the air and the Barca ‘keeper commandingly clears his area.

36

I have no idea how this match is 0-0. It is incredibly open and both sides have created chances. Surely it’s a matter of time before the deadlock is broken!
35
A small break in play at the moment as Pinto is down injured. It actually looked like it was Alves who caught his own goalkeeper. An eye-watering injury between the legs…

34

How have Madrid not scored?! Callejon drives a cross along the six yard box and there is a scramble inside the area! A fantastic challenge from Dani Alves snatches the ball from the feet of Ronaldo! Great defending!
33
The Santiago Bernabeu crowd erupts and demands a free kick for a foul on Mesut Ozil! Busquets came from behind and nipped the ball away from the German. No foul in there whatsoever.
32
Good interception from Arbeloa. Barca were starting to up the tempo of their passing in the final third but the former Liverpool man came in with a vital touch to steal the ball back for Madrid.

31

Messi steps up and whips the free kick towards the far corner but the ball goes a yard or two over the bar.
30
The Barca players are demanding a booking for Ronaldo. The Portuguese just clipped the heel of Dani Alves down the right when the Brazilian looked poised to cross into the box. No booking but a free kick to the Catalans.
29
Messi is looking for the free kick on the edge of the box after being bundled over by Essien. Looked a fair enough tackle. The referee waves play on.
28
Poor control from Callejon! Xabi Alonso slides a fantastic pass down the inside right channel for his team-mate, but a poor touch allows Pinto to come out and gratefully claim possession!
27
Better pressure from Madrid. The hosts are playing crosses and passes continually into the Barca penalty area but the visitors are remaining solid for the moment. Sustained period of possession for Mourinho’s men.

26

BENZEMA!!! So close! The Frenchman receives a ball over the top and lashes a left-footed volley towards the top corner but it goes a whisker by the post! Pinto was never getting there!
25
Barca continue their short passing in the middle of the park. There is just little bursts of chances at the moment. Who will strike first?
24
Not a great start to the match from Carvalho. The Portuguese has already received a yellow card and looks susceptible any time he is on the ball.

23

VARANE BLOCKS ON THE LINE!! Carvalho gives a horrendous back pass to Lopez and Messi intercepts. The Argentine slips the ball inside to Xavi who smashes a shot towards goal, but the Frenchman is there to clear! Great defending from Varane! Horrible from Carvalho!

22

Very good goalkeeping from Diego Lopez. Pedro looks to latch on to an incisive pass through the middle but the Madrid goalkeeper is decisive and comes out to claim.

21

Busquets takes a sore one. Jose Callejon goes in slightly two-footed and catches the midfielder on the ankle. That looked painful!
20
XAVI HITS THE BAR!!! The Barcelona captain pulls rank over Messi and curls a glorious free kick towards the top corner, but Madrid are saved by the woodwork! So unlucky!

19

Free kick to Barcelona in a useful position 20 yards from goal. It looks like Messi fancies this…
18
Just to high for Ronaldo!! Benzema gets to the byline and clips an excellent cross to the back post for his team-mate, but the Portuguese cannot stretch high enough to get a header on goal! Inches though, only inches.

17

The Catalan side are being very patient in their build-up play. No rush in any of their play at the back. They are just aiming to find that killer pass down the channels or through the middle.

16

yellow_card Ricardo Carvalho
15
Madrid’s first yellow card goes, unsurprisingly, to Ricardo Carvalho. The former Chelsea man body checked Cesc Fabregas just inside his own half. Barcelona take a quick free kick.

14

Barcelona looking to frustrate their opponents at the moment. They are putting together a lengthy run of passes in the Madrid half.
13
All 11 of Madrid’s players are behind the ball at the moment. They won’t mind that too much. After all, their most potent threat is the pace of their counterattacks.

12

Poor miss from Alba!! Messi drives down the middle and scoops a wonderful pass over the Real Madrid defence to the left-hand side. The former Valencia man meets the ball but horribly volleys wide! Best chance of the match so far!
11
We can finally take a breath as the tempo of the match slows down a bit. Madrid have retreated back into their own half and they are allowing Barca to have the ball for a small period.
10
Nothing comes from the set-piece and Barca clear. You get the feeling that the hosts will be looking to make the most out of any free kicks or corners they can gain against a backline who have been leaking goals recently.
9
Pinto has to be on his toes! Michael Essien gallops down the right and swings a cross into the box. The ball twists towards goal and the Barca ‘keeper has to tip over the bar. Real Madrid corner!
8
A very proud moment for Cristiano Ronaldo tonight. The Portuguese captains Los Blancos for the first time in a Clasico. Will he mark the occasion with a goal?
7
Barcelona have indeed started to dictate possession in and around the centre circle. Xavi, Busquets, and Fabregas just beginning to get a foothold on proceedings.
6
Barcelona are receiving thunderous boos from the home crowd any time they attempt to play the ball around. It really is a cracking atmosphere. Isn’t it always in the Clasico?
5
Clever from Alves. The Brazilian was clipped by Arbeloa and has went down clutching his foot. A good tactic to try and soften the atmosphere inside the Santiago Bernabeu.
4
Now Barcelona can attempt to get their foot on the ball. Madrid were on the ascendancy but a poor pass from Khedira handed possession back to the Catalan side.
3
Madrid have started with a brilliant attitude. They are looking to go for the jugular early doors here!
2
Great save by Pinto!! Ronaldo dips a wicked free kick towards goal and the Barcelona ‘keeper tips the ball away! Dani Alves just manages to get in front of Karim Benzema to clear the ball to safety!
2
The match has started at lightning pace! Free kick to Real Madrid on the edge of the box. Ronaldo ran at pace towards goal and was brought down by Gerard Pique. The Barca man receives a very early yellow card.

 

El Clasico 2013: Real Madrid v Barcelona Live!

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has a number of selection problems heading into Wednesday’s Clasico showdown against Barcelona.

Iker Casillas (broken hand) and Pepe (ankle) are out, meaning Antonio Adan and new signing Diego Lopez battle it out in goal, while Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria all serve suspensions.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to start despite hurting his ankle in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Getafe.

Gerard Pique returns from suspension for Barcelona, who have a fully-fit squad at their disposal.

Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas are all likely to be recalled to the starting XI after they were rested for the weekend victory over Osasuna.

Real Madrid are on a 31-match unbeaten run at the Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions (W26, D5). The Castilian side have won just one of their last eight home encounters against Barcelona (W1, D2, L5). Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, right) scored his 100th goal at the Bernabeu in the win over Getafe to take his overall tally for Real to 179 in 176 matches. Barcelona have won eight of their last nine away matches across all competitions. The Blaugrana ran out 4-3 aggregate winners in last season’s Copa del Rey semi-final against Blancos. Pedro is in line to make his 200th appearance for Barca.

 

Mali too physical for Bafana?

_65515394_gervinho_2Johannesburg – Mali coach Patrice Carteron has played down the physical advantage his team will hold over South Africa when the two countries meet in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals later this week.

The physique of west African players has always been seen as a major obstacle for the smaller South Africans and it is something that both camps have constantly been quizzed about during the build-up.

Bafana Bafana will play the Eagles at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.

“That’s not how I see it,” he retorted when asked about it on Wednesday.

“I’ve watched all the games of the competition and I’ve seen South Africa as one of the most well prepared so far.

“You can see the coach knows all the players, physically they are in great shape and they run a lot.

“Physically I don’t see them having any problems because they have other important attributes in their own game.

The Malian boss also reiterated his belief that South Africa will be the favourites.

On Tuesday, his counterpart Gordon Igesund said that comments by Carteron calling Bafana the favourites were “mind games”, pointing towards the large difference in world rankings as proof to his own explanation.

Mali are ranked 60 places above the home team in the world rankings, sitting in 25th place and third in Africa.

“I think they will have a 60-40 advantage going into the game, it’s logical,” the French coach said.

“When you play at home with the atmosphere, the crowd and the whole country behind you, it’s normal.

“But I know we have a chance. We will give 100 percent to try and qualify. I do respect South Africa, I do respect their coach.”

Most of the Mali’s regular players were given a second day off from training, with only fringe members participating in training at the Chatsworth Stadium, south of Durban.

“We want the starting players to relax, but even though they are at the hotel, we have two physios there with them, ensuring they feel better,” he explained.

“Most of them have specific routines.”

“But it’s normal to take a break for two days after the game, if you’ve given 100 percent then you don’t need to work so hard. We’ll prepare from tomorrow, but for now we just taking it easy.”

Carteron reported a clean bill of health for his side, including good news that senior midfielder Momo Sissoko was “fine” after he hobbled off with a suspected leg injury during the 1-1 draw against Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday.

Goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa will miss the game due to suspension.

Inside The New BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry as BB10 launches

BlackBerry launched its comeback effort Wednesday with a revamped platform and a pair of sleek new handsets, along with a company name change as part of a move to reinvent the smartphone make

We wrote last week that BlackBerry 10 would need some of the top apps in the ecosystem if it would be able to take on the iPhone.

Research In Motion — now BlackBerry — unveiled some of those apps at its big launch event for the BlackBerry 10 phones today.

It got most of it right, based on some of the apps featured in the launch video and what was talked about on stage — but there are a few apps missing.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming in the new phone that’s significant — and, more important, what’s missing:

Instagram and Snapchat, two photo-sharing apps that are critically important given the intense popularity of the apps on other devices, were not present among the line-up of apps coming out for the new BlackBerry 10 devices.

The new ecosystem also appears to be missing Netflix at launch, which is one of the top entertainment apps for smartphones. RIM did unveil a number of music and video partners for its storefront this week, but it’s still going to need the huge libraries that Netflix and other apps have.

As a major plus, the company said it would have Skype, one of the most popular online calling and messaging services. That fills out a big need for the company when it comes to a good, international voice-over-IP calling and messaging service.

It also appears that the phone will have Evernote, which is among the best productivity apps for smartphones. Evernote automatically synchronizes notes across multiple platforms — like tablets, computers and phones.

For music streaming, the company said it would have Rdio. Radio apps like Pandora are popular, but a more direct music-playing app is basically a necessity for smartphones today. So BlackBerry has this covered.

It does come with a host of pretty good games – Angry Birds Star Wars, Jetpack Joyride and Where’s My Water are all there.

And it did have all the usual suspects — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare — but we knew those were coming. What we didn’t know was coming was WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps for smartphones. This is kind of a weird choice given the prominence of BlackBerry Messenger, what the company hopes will continue to be among the most popular messaging apps in the world.

AFCON 2013: Algeria 2 v 2 Ivory Coast – Ivory Coast, Togo are through to the quarter-finals

_65605885_ivoryFULL-TIME – Algeria 2-2 Ivory Coast

The other game in the group ends all square – Ivory Coast top the group with seven points, Togo second on four, Tunisia third, also on four, and Algeria bottom on one.

Togo finish ahead of Tunisia on goal difference.

It will definitely be Burkina Faso v Togo, despite rumours of a Zambia reprieve.

Thousands of Zambians celebrated on the streets on Wednesday as a rumour spread that Group C rivals Burkina Faso had been disqualified.

So there will be no North African representation in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals, while Cape Verde and Togo are there for the first time in their history.

Ethiopian women and birth control: when a scoop becomes a smear

Ethiopian women face jail sexual abuse, rape in Ogaden prisons.

Ethiopian women face jail sexual abuse, rape in Ogaden prisons.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer,haaretz
The more the story about Ethiopian women who were given birth control shots was repeated, the more warped and distorted it became.

The story of the dramatic drop in the birthrates of the Ethiopian Israeli community over the past decade and why it happened was a story that needed to be told. Those on the ground who work with the Ethiopian community who first observed and researched the phenomenon and Gal Gabai, the excellent television journalist whose show “Vacuum” broke the story to the Israeli public, deserve credit for pulling the story out of the realm of rumor and shadows.

However – as in the game of telephone, when the more a story is repeated, the more warped and distorted it becomes – the international coverage of this scandal is transforming a tale insensitivity, cultural condescension and, yes, perhaps a certain level of racism, into some kind of villainous genocidal plot of sterilization aimed at ethnic and racial cleansing.

What the original television program uncovered is an insensitivity to a traditional culture and imposing Western norms in what likely began as a well-meaning attempt to help families make an easier adjustment to the shock that was ahead of them when they moved to Israel and once they arrived. The stories women told painted a picture of being coaxed and strongly convinced that they should subject themselves to a Depo-Provera birth control shot every three months, without being offered other methods of family planning. They also recounted being told in educational workshops that Israelis had “small families” and that having many children in Israel would “make their life difficult.” Some said they were led to believe they would not be permitted to emigrate if they did not submit to the shots, others said that their objections to receiving them were ignored. Some women said they weren’t aware the shots were birth control – they thought they were vaccinations, and others said their complaints about disturbing side effects were ignored.

It is the latest chapter in the history of clumsy stumbles the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government have made in their enterprise to move communities to Israel. There is no large group of immigrants to Israel, particularly from Asia and Africa, who don’t have legitimate complaints of treatment of bureaucratic indifference and institutional inflexibility, laced with a heavy dose of cultural superiority and both hidden and outright racism.

Yes, indeed, the television story and the research on which it was based, found evidence that Ethiopian Jewish women, both while in transit in Addis Ababa preparing to emigrate, and after they arrived in absorption centers in Israel, were strongly encouraged to use Depo-Provera as a form of birth control. In Israel and other Western countries, this birth-control method tends to be restricted to those who are not mentally competent or responsible enough to take a daily birth-control pill. These Ethiopian women were clearly not encouraged strongly enough to consider other means of family planning, both when they began the injections in Ethiopia, and certainly later after they immigrated to Israel, their family planning practices should have been reassessed, not automatically continued. And certainly there was not enough careful examination of each individual medical case, causing suffering among those women with medical conditions exacerbated by the Depo-Provera.

When the story first came out as a result of the “Vacuum” broadcast in early December, it sparked a flurry of finger-pointing in various directions, as the JDC, the Jewish Agency and the government all denied any executive decision to put Ethiopian women on Depo-Provera, and said if any such policy existed, the other guy must have done it.

Then, this past week, there was a ‘gotcha!’ moment

As reported in Haaretz “a government official has for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera. Health Ministry Director General Prof. Roni Gamzu has instructed the four health maintenance organizations to stop the practice as a matter of course … Gamzu’s letter instructs all gynecologists in the HMOs “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Gamzu’s action took place after a group of six human rights organizations requested that the Ministry “adopt a number of steps to ensure the practice will not continue” including “making enquiries about the medical condition of each woman and whether the drug is suitable for her circumstances, not to provide any injections without informing the women of the possible side-effects of the drug and providing information about alternative contraceptive methods” and “that a note be included in the patient’s medical records recording that conversation took place” and urged Gamzu “consider examining the background to the practice and to collect updated figures on the use of the contraceptive.”

It is was an appropriate action to take and his quick response was in order, so as to bring birth control in the Ethiopian community should be in line with the rest of Israeli women, making them in control of their decisions with full information as to the alternatives.

But the story has taken on a life of its own internationally. The words “forced” and “coercion” are being thrown around in the international coverage. Images of Mengele-level persecution of clueless, helpless victims being marched by force from camps to clinics to receive their injections have been conjured up, as the story has travelled from the Israeli media to the national mainstream media, to international and niche publications. The headlines run from the oversimplified to deliberately twisted:

Israel admits forcing birth control shots on Ethiopian women

Israel: Discrimination against Ethiopian Jews

Israel coerced Ethiopian women into taking contraceptive jabs

Israel Admits “Shameful” Birth Control Drug Injected in “Unaware” Ethiopian Jews

The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” – conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.

I believe the women who told their stories to Gal Gabbai. I also believe that the vast majority of the Ethiopian women who received Depo-Provera were aware it was birth control and received it willingly, wanting to be in control of deciding when to get pregnant. And some of them – it is unclear how many – preferred being injected at a clinic rather than having to take pills daily in the presence of other family members – husbands or mothers or in-laws – who might disapprove of that decision. I also believe that those who did not want to receive the shots and truly wanted to become pregnant were smart enough to stop receiving them. At least some of the drop in these birthrate is attributable to access to birth control and control over their childbearing that these women wanted.

What is likely true – and needs to be urgently corrected, is that those who do want to practice birth control understand that there are alternative methods that are safer with fewer side effects, and that no ethnic group, native or immigrant is ever systematically given Depo-Provera again.

As for those who suffered from negligent treatment in the past, it is appropriate for each women’s stories to be taken seriously and investigated, and if, at any point they were told that their immigration depended on receiving a birth control injection, that person or agency be held responsible. At the very least, these women are owed the respect of an apology; at most, compensation for their pain suffering if they received Depo-Provera for years and truly didn’t understand they had a choice about it.

But sadly, I fear that the frontal assault and demonization of the agencies who worked tirelessly to bring Ethiopian Jewry to Israel will lead to even stronger denials and defensiveness, which will only bolster the paranoid and hate-fueled conspiracy theories.

The victim in all this will be the truth – and once again, the Ethiopian women themselves.

Israeli government imposition of contraception on Ethiopian Jews causes 50% drop in birth-rate

Samira Shackle, middleeastmonitor
Birth rates among Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community have fallen by nearly 50 per cent in the last 10 years. Now, for the first time, a government official has acknowledged that women of Ethiopian origin were being injected with the contraceptive drug Depo-Provera, frequently without their consent.

In a letter, the Health Ministry Director General, Professor Ron Gamzu, instructed gynaecologists “not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.” The Ministry stressed that this policy relates to all women who may not fully understand the treatment, and does not refer racial profiling. However, it has been taken as a tacit admission of fault.

While this controversy was first reported on five years ago, the new policy came in response to a report last month by Israeli investigative journalist Gal Gabbay, who revealed testimony from Ethiopian women awaiting emigration to Israel. They described how they were intimidated into taking injections while in transit camps in Ethiopia, given little explanation, and told that it was a condition for moving to Israel. One woman said: “They told us they are inoculations. They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.” Many women continued the treatment once in Israel.

Control over one’s own body is a fundamental part of being human. Routinely depressing the fertility of an ethnic group is dehumanising in the extreme. In the aftermath of the revelations, several commentators have suggested that this is symptomatic of Israel’s failure to truly accept Ethiopian Jews. There are around 120,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel, around a third of whom were born there. In 2010, the government decided that they would bring the 2,000 remaining Jews in Ethiopia to Israel and close the transit camps by the end of 2013.

Despite the active decision to bring this community to Israel, the state has not given Ethiopian Jews equal treatment. Back in the 1990s, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir alleged that many Ethiopian immigrants were secretly Christians. Over the years, there have been reports that some have been forced to undergo conversions, that long-married couples have been forced to remarry, and that Ethiopian children have been forced to attend segregated schools. It was recently announced that the traditional Ethiopian Jewish clergy, the kessim, will be phased out.

There is also a wider context of racism, directed against African immigrants more generally. Last year, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state”. His comments did not refer to Ethiopian Jews per say, but it adds to the backdrop of officially sanctioned discrimination.

In Gabbay’s original documentary, representatives from the Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian organisation which administers healthcare in the transit camps, dismissed the women’s testimony as “nonsense”. The dismissal of women’s voices is a phenomenon seen worldwide, but is disturbing nonetheless, particularly given the stark power imbalance here.

It is also worth noting that Depo-Provera is not an unproblematic drug, regardless of the consent question. It is a highly effective contraceptive, but possible side-effects include an increased risk of osteoporosis, and a lengthy wait to return to fertility. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant.

Rights groups in Israel have launched protests. Sharona Eliahu Chai, a lawyer for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, said that the Ministry was right to clarify new guidelines, adding: “Findings from investigations into the use of Depo-Provera are extremely worrisome, raising concerns of harmful health policies with racist implications in violation of medical ethics.”

This was a violation of the very highest order. It is difficult to see how it can truly be put right without a serious change not only in policy but in deeper attitudes towards Ethiopian Jews. As Emily Hauser asks at the Daily Beast: “if birth control were being forced on Jewish women in any other country-what would we say?”

2013 El- Clasico: Real Madrid v Barcelona – Critical for Mourinho

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA-COMBO2013 El- Clasico: Real Madrid v Barcelona

Huge queues snaked away from Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium on Monday morning, a sign of optimism around the club which has been absent in recent months. Football’s finest venue will stage some huge games in the next month.

The fans were waiting to pay between 40-140 euros for tickets to see their side play Barcelona at home tonight. Tickets are far more expensive for the second leg of the Copa del Rey at Camp Nou at the end of February.

Spain may be in the midst of an economic crisis and Barca offered tickets for their quarter-final against Malaga from just 9 euros, but such concessions are dropped for any game against their main rivals. Starting with that second leg, Madrid play Barcelona twice in four days before they travel to Old Trafford on March 5.

But that’s then, a month away. Much will happen in-between, especially at Madrid, where the soap opera that surrounds the club is always bursting with sub-plots.

News of a dressing room rift between the players and Jose Mourinho, with the players insisting that either their boss goes or they do, was swiftly denied by the club president Florentino Perez. Few are convinced by the denial, especially when the journalist partner of Iker Casillas did an interview for Mexican television in which she stated that the players and Mourinho are split.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room isn’t good,” said Sara Carbonero. “It’s an open secret that that the players don’t get on with the coach. Right now the dressing room is divided and we’ll have to wait until the end of the season to see if Mourinho leaves, because right now he’s got a lot on his hands at the club.”

Yet Madrid have improved where it matters, on the pitch. They hammered Valencia 5-0 away in the league, with all goals coming in the first half. Whatever their problems, los Blancos have enough quality players to destroy any team.

They knocked Valencia out of the cup too, then hammered Getafe 4-0 on Sunday, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick inside ten minutes. Lionel Messi scored four later in the day. It’s like USA v USSR in an ’80s arms race, they’re so far ahead of the rest of the world.

Ronaldo has been the stand-out star for his team, his relationship with fans much better than when he first arrived in Spain. He’s scoring a goal a game, something club legends like Alfredo Di Stefano didn’t manage, and Madridistas are convinced he’s better than Messi.

While the Argentine (who is expected to sign a deal to keep him at Camp Nou until 2018 this week) scores more goals – 44 vs 33 so far this season – Ronaldo is playing in an inferior team, without Xavi (who has signed a contract to stay until 2016) and Iniesta behind him.

Madrid’s talisman has also scored seven in the last six clasicos. El- Clasico occur far too often – an average of six times a season in the last three years – but they remain compulsive for many reasons, principally the presence of Messi and Ronaldo on the same pitch.

Ronaldo is not alone in being worthy of praise. Attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil has been sublime, while winger Angel Di Maria, one of the side’s best players last season, has recovered from his dire form so far this term.

Madrid will be missing key players for tonight’s key cup tie. Sergio Ramos, Di Maria and Fabio Coentrao are absent through injury and suspension, as is Casillas. While Madrid have bought a 4m euro replacement goalkeeper in Diego Lopez from Sevilla, he’s no Casillas. Barcelona have goalkeeping issues of their own. Jose Manuel Pinto usually starts in Copa del Rey matches, but he’s not as good as Valdes and was at fault in both quarter-final legs against Malaga.

Victor Valdes has said that he won’t sign a new contract beyond his current one in 2014. Those who claim it’s largely about money, or ‘respect’ as the players and their agents term it, have a point, but I interviewed Valdes face-to-face for an hour last month and he was inquisitive about football outside of Spain. I genuinely think he wants to play abroad and experience new cultures.

Tonight’s game is vital for Madrid. Barca knocked Madrid out of the cup last season, 4-3 on aggregate, but then Madrid went on to win the league, something which is not going to happen this season.

With their league title defence finished almost before it had started, Madrid have placed more emphasis on the cup. If their depleted side can beat Barcelona tonight, it will make a bad season bearable. If they don’t, then expect the fans who queued for tickets on Monday to resume their anti-Mourinho rhetoric.

Nigeria: N23b Pension Scam: The Judiciary Agian Betrays The Nation

Justice Abubakar Talba, just recently handed Mr. John Yusuf only a two-year jail sentence for conniving with others to defraud the office and pensioners of N27.2bn. The Judge gave him an option of fine in the sum of N750,000 for the three offences he pleaded guilty. The Judge seem to have allowed Mr. John Yusuf to go home with the almost

N26billion of pensioners money. The recent Oil Subsidy windfall of over N2.Trillion is yet to die down. Just as the World Economic Forum was meeting last week, a former Minister in Obasanjo’s government stated that US$67 billion was left in the kitty in 2007.
These have shocked not a few Nigerian. However, nothing can be done, even if these allegations are founded to be true. The Courts may deliver similar rulings. Ibori’s case is just a recent history.
The courts should be temples of justice, but in Nigeria, this is being irretrievably destroyed by corruption, to the concern of many. The slow pace of the fight against corruption in Nigeria has been blamed on both the Bench and the Bar. Many Nigerians took swipe at the legal practice vis-à-vis the fight against graft with the verdict of courts have not lived up to the societal expectations.
The judiciary must play a critical role in the fight to rid Nigeria of corruption. The new CJN, been a mother must design policies of purging the judiciary of corrupt practices. Corruption now almost passes for state policy and is responsible in large measure of dashed hopes and dreams of Nigeria. The courts, as “Temple of Justice” is the final arbiter in our criminal Justice system. And as such, the CJN must purge the Judiciary and cleanse itself of all forms of corruption and discharge its duties without fear or favour.
The nation’s judiciary should take a cue from the Japan, where, there is no delay in their court system. The frequent unnecessary adjournment of cases, have also encouraged our lawyers to be lazy. The notion that “Lawyers don’t lose cases, but their clients”, should help to save their system and their integrity.
The Judiciary should help the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Police and other law enforcement agencies in the fight to rid the country of Corruption.

Malawi puts presidential jet up for sale

A picture taken on May 14, 2012 shows the Malawi Presidential Jet in Lilongwe, Mali (AFP, Amos Gumulira)

A picture taken on May 14, 2012 shows the Malawi Presidential Jet in Lilongwe, Mali (AFP, Amos Gumulira)

BLANTYRE, Malawi — For sale, presidential jet, 15 years old. Perfect flying condition. $13.3 million. Contact Malawi for details.

Cash-strapped Malawi on Monday announced that it will be inviting bids for President Joyce Banda’s jet, as it tries to raise much-needed revenue.

“The Malawi government has decided that the jet should be disposed of ‘on as-is basis’ to an interested individual or firm,” the president’s office said in a tender notice.

The Dassault Falcon 900EX, built in 1998 and which seats 14 passengers, was in “perfect flying condition”, according to the notice.

Bids open on February 20.

Late president Bingu wa Mutharika controversially acquired the jet five years ago, despite poverty in the southern African nation.

At the time Mutharika said it was “cheap to run”, despite his country depending on aid inflows for almost half its budget.

Former colonial power Britain, Malawi’s main bilateral donor, reduced its aid to Malawi by £3 million ($4.4 million) after the purchase.

Banda vowed to sell the plane as a cost-saving measure when she succeeded Mutharika after his death last April.