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Benitez return a memory of Christmas past for Liverpool

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Rafa Benitez’s return to Anfield on Boxing Day is likely to stir memories of an unsuccessful Liverpool challenge for the Premier League title, but Jurgen Klopp is trying to focus on the present.

Klopp’s Liverpool hold a four-point lead at the top of the table as Benitez, the club’s manager between 2004 and 2010, visits with his relegation-threatened Newcastle United side on Wednesday.

There is a strong sense this could be the season that the English league trophy comes to Anfield for the first time since 1990, although recent history is offering mixed messages as to whether that will happen.

First, the good news for Liverpool: In eight of the past 10 seasons, the leaders on Christmas Day have gone on to win the Premier League.

Now, the bad news: On the two occasions it did not happen, the Christmas leaders were Liverpool. In 2008/09, Manchester United won the title; in 2013/14 it was Manchester City.

The late collapse to miss out in 2014 was perhaps the more immediately painful experience for Liverpool fans, but the failure of 2009, under Benitez, maybe offers more reason for regret. Both cases offer lessons that the Merseyside club, however, appear to have absorbed.

Brendan Rodgers’ team of 2013/14 were not as balanced as the side current Reds boss Klopp has now.

While Rodgers had an outstanding attacking partnership, with Luis Suarez supported by a fully-fit Daniel Sturridge, his men were defensively suspect.

The then Liverpool manager had four senior centre-backs – Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure – yet struggled to settle on a first-choice pairing. A team who scored 101 league goals conceded a whopping 50; far too many for any side with serious championship ambitions.

The class of 2018/19 should avoid that trap; they have the Premier League’s best defensive record this season, with only seven goals conceded.

Virgil van Dijk’s influence has been key; the centre-back, signed for £75 million ($94.5 million) from Southampton last January, has provided the defensive leadership that Liverpool missed badly following Jamie Carragher’s retirement in 2013.

“He’s very influential,” Klopp said of Van Dijk.

“When I met him first, I thought I knew about his personality, I was pretty sure he would be like he is.

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“After we lost 4-1 at Tottenham in October of last season, we started defending better and conceding less but then Virgil came in on top.”

Liverpool’s solid defending means they do not have to score as freely to win games, although they are coming up with the goals when needed.

Mohamed Salah, after a quiet start to the season, is thriving after being switched from a wide position to a central attacking role. His total of 11 Premier League goals is only one fewer than Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the competition’s leading scorer.

Yet despite that quality, avoiding the fate of the 2008/09 Liverpool team, managed by Benitez, might still need a little luck to go the way of Klopp’s men.

That side, containing a spine of Pepe Reina, Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, was strong enough to be champions, but suffered from a lack of adequate back-up.

Too many draws against lowly opponents proved costly too, with Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Hull all coming away from Anfield with a point.

Certainly, while Liverpool have the versatile attacking talent of Xherdan Shaqiri to call on if they lose one of their main forwards, and good quality options in midfield now that Fabinho and Naby Keita have found their feet, they may struggle if anything happens to Van Dijk. Perhaps that is why Klopp has not ruled out signings in January.

“I keep the door open because if something happens then we will need to have a look, as there are monstrous numbers of games coming and that’s really important that we can react,” said the German.

“But it’s all good, unless something dramatically changes.”



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DCI recommends Chief Land Registrar to be granted absolute powers

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DCI recommends Chief Land Registrar to be granted absolute powers

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) wants parliament to review laws and operational procedures at both land and company registries to help deal with the bane of land cartels.

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Appearing before the National Assembly Security and Administration Committee on Friday, DCIO George Kinoti revealed that the epicentre of land grabbing was domiciled at the lands registry where files were being altered and Kenyans duped.

In the wake of increased cases of land grabbing and fraudulent transfer of land that often result in forced evictions of innocent land buyers, the National Assembly invited the DCI to engage on strategies to deal with the vice.

The DCI in one of his recommendations said that the Chief Land Registrar should be granted absolute powers to cancel all title deeds obtained fraudulently.

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The DCI also called for re-digitalization of all documents at the lands registries and backing up of the same in physical form.

The DCI, which has opened a liaison office at Ardhi House, also wants a law enacted to provide for regular vetting of personnel in the lands and companies registries.

Further, the investigation agency wants parliament to formulate laws to protect the records at the registrar of companies and lands registry by introducing sufficient checks.

In addition, the DCI wants the law reviewed to make it mandatory for vendors and buyers of land to append their thumbprints on transfer documents.

This according to the investigative agency will enhance trailing of fraudulent persons.

 

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Macron replaces French PM after election rout » Capital News

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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, has parted ways with his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe © POOL/AFP / CHARLES PLATIAU

Paris, France, Jul 3 – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday named a senior but low-profile bureaucrat as prime minister to replace Edouard Philippe, the first move in a widely expected cabinet reshuffle after dismal local election showings for the ruling party.

The new premier, Jean Castex, was totally unknown to many in France until now and is officially a member of the right-wing opposition to Macron’s centrists.

But Castex has been in charge of the country’s progressive emergence from the coronavirus lockdown, a policy greeted as a relative success by experts.

A wider cabinet overhaul is expected to be announced soon, possibly later in the day.

The president, who came to power in 2017 on the back of pledges to radically reform France, already has a wary eye on his 2022 re-election bid after months of protests and strikes that were followed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Macron has promised a “new course” for France to deal with the crisis, which has plunged France into its worst recession since World War II and left millions of people facing unemployment.

“I see this based on an economic, social, environmental and cultural reconstruction,” he said in an interview with regional newspapers published late Thursday.

Jean Castex has been leading France’s emergence from virus lockdown © POOL/AFP/File / GONZALO FUENTES

Speculation that Philippe was on the way out mounted this week after Macron’s centrist party was routed in municipal elections Sunday, which saw the Greens take control of several major cities.

Philippe, a popular right-wing politician who never joined Macron’s Republic on the Move party, nonetheless easily won his bid to be mayor of Le Havre.

His approval ratings have surged over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, while those of Macron, who has pursued ambitious economic reforms since coming to office in 2017, have fallen.

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While many analysts thought Macron would tack left or look farther afield for his new prime minister, Castex is a pure product of the French administrative elite, having attending the same ENA managerial university as Macron and Philippe.

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“We might have expected a political shift, but this is a technocrat,” Christian Jacob, head of the Republicans party, told AFP.

“Obviously he is no longer a Republican,” he said.

Castex, virtually unknown to the general public outside the Pyrenees village of Prades where he was recently re-elected mayor, will give a prime-time interview to TF1 television at 8:00 pm on Friday.

– ‘Knows who I am’ –

Macron’s reforms have sparked massive strikes as well as the fierce “yellow vest” anti-government revolt © AFP / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Serving Macron from the start of his presidency, Philippe has pushed through a series of controversial overhauls that sparked massive strikes as well as the fierce “yellow vest” anti-government revolt.

At a meeting Thursday, Macron and Philippe “agreed on the need for a new government to embody a new phase for this term,” an official in the Elysee Palace said Friday.

“A new phase is opening, with new talents and new methods for governing,” the official said.

Press reports had suggested that possible replacements could have included defence minister Florence Parly or foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, both Socialists before joining Macron’s team.

Others suggested Philippe might remain after all, not least after Macron praised his work as “remarkable” in Thursday’s interview.

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Philippe himself appeared to take the speculation with his trademark aplomb.

“The president knows who I am, what I represent, what I can do and what I cannot,” he told the Paris Normandie newspaper earlier his month.

Analysts say Macron had a thin bench of potential replacements, not least because his young party has failed to produce any standouts from its parliamentary ranks.

Other top ministers could also be on the way out.

Under particular pressure is interior minister Christophe Castaner, who has been assailed by critics over the failure to contain the rioting and looting that marred the “yellow vest” protests of 2018-2019.

More recently, Castaner has drawn the ire of police who say he has failed to support them against renewed claims of violence and racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since the start of Macron’s presidency, a total of 17 ministers have quit the government, most recently Agnes Buzyn, who stepped down as health minister in a doomed bid to wrest the Paris mayor job from Socialist Anne Hidalgo.

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Suspects caught on CCTV robbing pedestrian in Kilimani deny robbery charges – Nairobi News

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Three suspects captured on video robbing a pedestrian along Rosewood Avenue in Kilimani, Nairobi while armed with a pistol and a knife have denied robbery with violence charges before Milimani law courts.

They are Humprey Minyatta, Jahan Timothy Mzami and Ibhrahim Hussein.

The trio was charged with robbing Paul Sewe Omanyi of his computers, phones and their accessories all valued at Sh396,733 on June 25.

Among the electronic devices stolen from Omanyi include a Macbook, an iPhone, a magic keyboard, mouse, eyeglasses and their accessories, among other items.

They were in a bag that Omanyi was seen surrendering to the suspects in a video after he was confronted by the armed thugs in the 6am incident.

Hussein is facing an additional charge of handling stolen goods after he was found with most of the items at his house in Kawangware on June 30.

He was accused of dishonestly detaining the MacBook and three mobile phones stolen from Omanyi, all valued at Sh301,677 having reasons to believe they were stolen property.

They all denied the charges before senior resident magistrate Zainab Abdul of Milimani law courts

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The magistrate will rule on their bail application ruling on Wednesday.

The footage where they were captured confronting Omanyi went viral on social media with demands to arrest the muggers and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations pursued and arrested them four days later.

Two of them were seen confronting Omanyi and point a pistol and knife at him before grabbing a bag that contained the items then ransacking his pockets before fleeing.

One of them who was among the two seen in the video confronting Omanyi while armed with a pistol was arrested in Pangani.

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