Liberia’s new land rights law hailed as victory, but critics say it’s not enough

first_img*Some names have been changed to protect the identities of those interviewed. Banner image: Jacksonville, Liberia. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.Feedback: Use this form to send a message to the editor of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Areas allocated to rubber, oil palm and logging concessions cover around a quarter of Liberia’s total land mass.Liberian activists and the international community have warned that land disputes on oil palm concessions were becoming a time bomb for conflict in the country, and urging lawmakers to give indigenous communities full rights to land the government had handed out as its own.In September 2018, President George Weah signed the Land Rights Act into law. The law is ambitious and clearly asserts the right to what is known as “customary land,” territory that can be claimed through oral testimony and community agreement.However, locked within the legislation is a flaw for those living on the quarter of the country’s land set aside for concessions: it is not retroactive. The law will not apply to those already living close to oil palm concessions, a difficult truth that is only just beginning to permeate thousands of villages in Liberia. JACKSONVILLE, Liberia — When rebels tore through the ancient forests of Sinoe county during the civil wars that ravaged Liberia between 1989 and 2003, villagers often fled to the only road in their district to escape death or mutilation. Sometimes miles away on foot, small towns that sat on wide, unpaved tracks offered safety in numbers, and the hope that help might arrive one day soon.Beatrice Flahn uprooted her family to a settlement called Jacksonville, and never left. However, she appreciated the freedom of cultivating crops and trapping animals for food once the war ended, roaming in an area stretching back into the abandoned villages.“Where we are sitting today, when the 14 years of civil war were fought, we fled and went to neighboring communities. We came and sat and squatted on the road, to have access to the road in terms of getting back what we had lost,” said Flahn, age 50.Beatrice Flahn. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.In 2013, the machines of Golden Veroluem Liberia (GVL), an oil palm developer owned by Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), began clearing the forest for planting, exposing the fertile soil to the sky. This time, she fears, the land will be lost permanently.“It’s the original land where our farms and agricultural activities were. GVL has taken over all the land that our forefathers used for farming and hunting. They are taking over everything,” she whispered, her brow furrowing as she watched her grandchild playing close to an open fire.The Great Liberian Land SaleBy the time GVL appeared in Jacksonville, following the previous government’s signing of a raft of post-war agreements with foreign companies, research indicates areas allocated to rubber, oil palm and logging concessions covered approximately 25 percent of Liberia’s total land mass. Riots, legal complaints and the freezing of operations have hit oil palm projects in Liberia in the intervening years, especially in southeastern Sinoe county, but also in northwestern Bomi county, where Malaysian firm Sime Darby has a concession.Meanwhile, demand for palm oil, the product derived from oil palms’ russet-colored fruit, has rocketed. Clients of GAR include Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, and today the commodity is an ingredient in half of all products on supermarket shelves, including cosmetics, snacks and soap, according to Friends of the Earth. The palm oil industry was valued at $60 billion in 2018.By the middle of this decade, Liberian activists and the international community were warning that land disputes on oil palm concessions were becoming a time bomb for conflict in a country only barely recovering from the 1989-2003 civil wars, and urging lawmakers to give indigenous communities full rights to land the government had handed out as its own.Trust has eroded in several ways. In 2015 in Butaw, a town an hour’s drive from Jacksonville, young GVL employees requested a meeting with a visiting boss about working conditions, but management refused and called in riot police. A man named Fred Thompson was arrested despite not being present during the confrontation at the plantation; he died in detention and was hastily buried without an autopsy. A heavily pregnant woman was also arrested and another woman stripped naked in jail during the same incident, according testimony given by Butaw residents to Mongabay, and backed up by a raft of accounts at the time of the incident.Activists from Butaw, Liberia. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.Access to land is recognized as a key factor in Liberia’s long civil conflict, but the issue stretches much further back, to the country’s settlement and colonization by freed African-American slaves in 1847. “Americo-Liberians,” as they were known, held land individually rather than as a community, and often seized land by force. Their descendants remain some of Liberia’s richest and most powerful citizens.A new dawn?In September 2018, President George Weah signed the Land Rights Act into law, in what was hailed as a “landmark victory” by activists. Weah’s inauguration speech in January 2018 promised “clarity on fundamental issues such as the land beneath their feet,” and many citizens felt a long struggle was coming to a close.“The question was always like, we keep pushing this thing down the road, and there is a lot of interest right now to get it passed. Let’s just get it through,” said Ali Kaba, a senior researcher and program coordinator at Liberia’s Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).The law is ambitious and clearly asserts the right to what is known as “customary land,” territory that can be claimed through oral testimony and community agreement. However, locked within the legislation is a flaw for those living on the quarter of the country’s land set aside for concessions: it isn’t retroactive. The law won’t apply to those already living close to oil palm concessions, a difficult truth that is only just beginning to permeate thousands of villages in Liberia, including Jacksonville.“The law is very clear that the sanctity of private property needs to be protected,” said Stanley Toe, executive director of the Liberia Land Authority, which is charged with implementing the law and demarcating the country’s land for the first time. “These were contracts that government entered into.”A GVL spokesperson told Mongabay in an emailed statement that the company did “not foresee significant changes to [the land sourcing] process with the Lands Rights Act,” despite the fact that the company has only identified a fifth of the land it was promised for cultivation.An area cleared of trees at the GVL concession in Tajuowon district. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.GVL’s concession agreement was signed in 2010, and gives the company 65 years to cultivate 2,200 square kilometers (850 square miles) of land across five counties, with the option of an extension that could increase its tenure to 98 years.“[The government] told the company that these counties have the land space. [They] promised that there are places that are not customary land, not owned, and are freely available,” said Kaba of the Sustainable Development Institute. “The law that’s passed cannot conflict with that, but where that land is? No one knows.”Some experts believe oil palm concession agreements signed under the previous administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will eventually be declared illegal for a host of reasons, including contravention of Liberia’s Public Lands Law and its tax code. But until a court case is lodged, residents and activists say concession communities are living in increasingly dire conditions, and in the case of Jacksonville have not even fully participated in official mapping of the concession to ensure they are paid the contractual $5 per hectare for their land every year.Without consentGVL also said it would prioritize employment for locals and establish a 400-square-kilometer (154-square-mile) outgrower scheme, which would allow residents to cultivate and sell oil palm themselves.Five memoranda of understanding (MoU) signed in Sinoe County are currently listed on GVL’s website, laying out the company’s promises to provide housing, schools, clinics and subsidized motorcycles to employees, and clean drinking water, markets, sports fields and roads for the benefit of communities living in concession areas. The delay in construction of these facilities will be two to three years, they add.Around 100 GVL employees live in Jacksonville, but six years later residents say the town has yet to see any of the facilities promised in the agreement, with the exception of two water pumps.Jacksonville, Liberia. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.GVL acknowledged it hasn’t kept all its promises, and told Mongabay in an emailed statement: “While many of the provisions of the MoU have been fulfilled, some are dependent on the progress of GVL’s operations in the respective areas.”Then there is the issue of consent. A group calling itself Blogbo-Teh in Jacksonville was unsure about signing the 2013 agreement, after local chiefs contacted the oil palm company without their approval. Blogbo-Teh members say they were sidelined by the company for raising concerns and then punished for their opposition by having more of their land cleared than that of acquiescent neighboring communities.“If you look at informed consent, from the way it is defined, GVL never got it. What happened is a marriage of convenience between local elites who have economic interest in the company,” said Simpson Snoh, who has led opposition to GVL in Tarjuowon district.Snoh said he believed GVL “did not get the consent of majority of people” to begin work in the area, and that “people did not even understand the content of the MoU.” A review of the document carried out by Mongabay with Jacksonville Mayor Ruth Chea showed the majority of those who signed in the citizen, youth and women categories are current employees of GVL.Deprived of access to farmland and unable to hunt in the concession area, the residents of Jacksonville now walk to neighboring villages to buy cassava and rice. A Mongabay journalist saw children trapping rats to eat.“The forest that they are damaging now is our supermarket. It’s our livelihood. There we have our medicine. Our entire life is in that forest and they are cutting it down,” said George Seeboe, 51 and unemployed. Many people in Liberia rely on herbal remedies to treat illnesses, as clinics and hospitals are located mostly in major towns and public transport is non-existent.Employees of GVL living in Jacksonville complained they did not receive the benefits promised in the MoU either. Joe*, a security guard at the plantation, says he earns $125 a month working 12-hour shifts. “GVL do anything they want, because the workforce doesn’t have any power,” he said. “They have not paid children’s school fees, and they have yet to pay any medical costs. We don’t get any transport. It costs 400-500 Liberian dollars [$2.50-$3) to go to work, and if you don’t have transportation they will mark you absent that day.”His colleague Emmanuel*, who “brushes”, or cuts, branches from oil palm trees for a living, described working from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in hot, humid conditions without lunch. “The palm crippled some people. The fear is in me,” he said on a day when he was sent home without pay after injuring his hand. “They are building houses but they aren’t finished yet. I get no benefits for now but I’m a full employee.” Feeding, clothing and educating his four children adequately is nearly impossible, he added.Responding to these complaints, a GVL spokesperson told Mongabay the company has “clear HR policies which protects [sic] the rights of employees. The above examples are not in line with these.” The spokesperson added the company would investigate.One deep-seated problem with Liberia’s concessions remains citizens’ lack of awareness of their own rights, according to activists, even when legislation protects them. Jacksonville’s citizens should already have been protected by the Community Rights Law, signed in 2009, when it came to obtaining community consent. But the demands of a local senator and traditional chiefs squeezed out groups like Blogbo-teh, two lawyers who have worked with the community to demand better treatment from GVL told Mongabay.Some of Jacksonville’s residents had heard about the Land Rights Act, and believed they could use it to fight GVL, while seemingly unaware of the provision about existing concessions.“The new law will empower us, and inform us that this land is ours,” said Seeboe, the unemployed member of Blogbo-Teh. “They used to fool us saying government owned everything. The land was not for us. That was their big argument.”Others, like Flahn, who settled in Jacksonville during the war, had never heard of the new law.‘I want to see myself prosper’Not everyone in Jacksonville opposes GVL’s presence. Sarvage Klaybor, a GVL field conductor, or foreman, gets visibly angry when asked about the activists who have demanded the memorandum of understanding be rewritten. The current MoU is provisional, and could therefore feasibly be altered to provide stronger community protections. Klaybor said he supported GVL “because of development. I want to see myself prosper in life.” Following a promotion during his five years with the company, he lives in a house with a zinc roof — a coveted status symbol in Jacksonville. “GVL employs most citizens in the community, and rented the land from the Tajuowon people. $5 per hectare for 65 years,” he said.Sarvage Klaybor (left) and a member of his family in Jacksonville. Photo by Jennifer O’Mahony for Mongabay.Klaybor noted that when GVL started operations in Butaw in 2010, Jacksonville “was empty,” as desperate citizens emptied out to the neighboring town to look for work. “The people of Tajuowon wrote a communication to GVL saying they wanted them to come here and do their palm farm,” he said, adding that many of those now opposed to the company were happy to welcome them at first.The palm oil industry’s leading certification body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), has repeatedly condemned GVL for the way it acquires consent and drafts and executes memoranda of understanding with communities in Liberia, and for its lack of “participatory mapping,” or surveying land with residents to ensure it is paying a fair price for land use.In July 2018, GVL voluntarily suspended its membership in the body following an RSPO field visit. RSPO monitors found that “complaints in their large majority are justified, that none of the 16 MoUs signed to date meet RSPO’s minimum standards and that none of them gained to date the free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities,” according to a report of their findings. It added that GVL “continues to operate on nearly 50,000 [hectares, or 190 square miles] without the consent of the affected communities.”GVL suspended all land clearance in the whole of Sinoe county following the report, and launched a “sustainability action plan” with the aim of emerging “in 12-18 months as a strong example of, and advocate for, sustainable palm oil production in Liberia.” It has since resumed its membership in the RSPO, a company spokesperson told Mongabay.The RSPO, meanwhile, told Mongabay in an emailed statement that it believed the Land Rights Act was “a good start” to smoothing company-community relations. The RSPO “would like to see a bottom-up approach to land acquisition where companies first engage with local communities for their consent” as per its requirements, the statement added.However, activists say that given the RSPO’s lack of judicial authority, the only way forward is to expose the concession agreements signed without community consent by the government as illegal, and force them to be abandoned.“If you have lawyers who can challenge the legality of these concessions, it could be an entirely different thing, and the land rights could be very powerful,” said Francis Colee, who works for the environmental law firm Green Advocates, which compiles complaints for the RSPO on behalf of oil palm communities. He said he believed the era of 65-year concessions is over, thanks to the Land Rights Law, but those living on them are stuck.“We won’t use that land anymore, because of the palm. They are talking about 98 years. I am 51,” said George Seeboe, looking out over a tangle of trees behind his house in Jacksonville. “If they damage the land, that will be a question to me from my children.” Agriculture, Conflict, Environment, Environmental Law, Environmental Policy, Featured, Forests, FPIC, Green, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Industrial Agriculture, Land Conflict, Land Grabbing, Land Reform, Land Rights, Law, Oil Palm, Palm Oil, Plantations, Rainforests, Rspo, Tropical Forests 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 overSponsored Article published by Morgan Erickson-Davislast_img read more

Pochettino hails Spurs’ ‘perfect game’ against Watford as Chelsea clash looms

first_img Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with Tottenham’s thrashing of Watford Mauricio Pochettino hailed Tottenham’s victory over Watford as an almost ‘perfect game’ from the north London outfit.Braces from both Harry Kane and Dele Alli were easing the Lilywhites to a 4-0 victory before Younes Kaboul scored a late, late consolation goal for the Hornets – the only dark spot on an otherwise excellent showing.And with a clash against Chelsea coming up on Wednesday, Pochettino was delighted his team can start preparations for that match in high spirits.“I think it was one of the best performances so far. It was nearly the perfect game,” the Argentine said.“The shame was we conceded a goal in the last minute but there were a lot of positive things.“I am very happy and we now have two days to prepare in a better way for the game against Chelsea.”The Blues made it 13 wins in a row by defeating Stoke on New Year’s Eve, and can equal the all-time Premier League record for consecutive victories by defeating Spurs at White Hart Lane.And although Pochettino is aware Chelsea are in a rich vein of form, the 44-year-old knows it is important Spurs claim all three points to reduce the ever-increasing points gap in the title race.“Chelsea arrive in very good shape – us too after the last few games,” Pochettino said.“It will be a very tough game and a great opportunity for us to try to stop them and try to reduce the gap.“It’s important, I think it’s important for us and for the Premier League to try to win and try to stop them and reduce the gap.” 1last_img read more

Was there a rush to judgment?

first_imgEVERY once in a while, something comes along that forces all of us to re-boot our concept of what is real. John Mark Karr’s confession of guilt in the JonBen?t Ramsey murder is just such an event. For nearly 10 years, all major media outlets told us that someone in the Ramsey family killed JonBen?t. We were told that Patsy Ramsey had similar handwriting to that found on the infamous ransom note. We were told that the amount requested in the ransom note, $118,000, was the exact amount of John Ramsey’s Christmas bonus that year. Esteemed journalists wrote brilliant, compelling articles telling us why they believed that John or Patsy or even their 10-year-old son Burke had killed the little beauty queen. Patsy killed JonBen?t in a rage because the child had wet her bed. John killed his daughter because he was a sick pedophile. Burke killed his sister out of jealousy because she got all the attention. And we bought it. All of it. We wanted to believe they were guilty. After all, the Ramseys were rich. How many of us can relate to a man who gets a $118,000 Christmas bonus? Words used to describe the couple were “arrogant,” “elitist,” “smug.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesBetter yet, Patsy Ramsey, herself a former beauty contestant, dressed her little girl up in provocative outfits, with wigs and makeup; she exploited and sexualized her child. In most of our minds, this was all we needed to know. They did things we did not like to their child; therefore, they must be guilty. Much like Congressman Gary Condit was accepted as the killer of Washington intern Chandra Levy, because he admitted having an affair with her. It simply had to be. The only problem, Condit did not do it. Levy’s body was eventually found in a park near her home where she had gone jogging. As it turned out, Levy was the second female jogger killed in that park by a suspected serial killer. Levy’s killing was utterly random and senseless; it was not coherent, it did not add up.Meanwhile, all along, the Ramseys say they suspected an intruder had entered their home on Christmas Eve 1996 and killed their daughter. The very idea sounded absurd, even pathetic. What about the note? What about the broken paint brush which came from inside the house that was used as a garrote to strangle the little girl? Intruder? Please! Then there was another case in which the family was suspected, until a handyman was considered as good as guilty. But in the end, it was an intruder who had abducted the child. Elizabeth Smart turned up alive and reasonably well over a year after her disappearance. It was the happiest news anyone could remember. Now John Mark Karr is jarring our foundation making us rethink all we “know” to be true. Even making us wonder about whether O.J. Simpson killed Nicole and Ron Goldman.Karr is also bursting another myth. Usually, the monsters among us look ordinary, but Karr is nothing short of creepy. If it’s possible to look like a pedophile, this guy does. He is a pasty, effeminate little man with haunting eyes. My mother said he looks “unfinished.” I think I know what she means. But before we all hop on the Karr did it bandwagon, let’s remind ourselves of John Ramsey’s own words: “Do not jump to conclusions, do not rush to judgment, do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course.”Phil Perrier is a comedian and writer in Los Angeles. Write to him by e-mail at pphilperrier@aol.com.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

Franklin Mint sold to private investors

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’“The Franklin Mint is the crown jewel of our industry,” Malamud said in an interview. “It’s a great opportunity to take this brand from its current status and build it up to the great name that it once was and even beyond that.” Malamud said his group reached an agreement with the previous owners, privately held Roll International Corp. in Los Angeles, last year. The sale closed on Aug. 31. Franklin Mint’s current headquarters west of Philadelphia will move to an as yet undecided location, Malamud said. Company officials declined to say how many people work at the Franklin Mint. In 2003, it laid off 200 workers, leaving it with about 100 employees. PHILADELPHIA – The Franklin Mint, once the world’s largest maker of collectibles, was sold to private investors for an undisclosed price. The group led by executives from The Morgan Mint, based in Hicksville, N.Y., made the purchase in August and announced it on Tuesday. Founded in 1964 by Joseph Segel, who also started QVC Inc., The Franklin Mint is known for its detailed figures and other products featuring celebrities such as Elvis, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe. M. Moshe Malamud and Steven Sisskind, chairman and chief executive, respectively, of coin and stamp marketing company The Morgan Mint, will hold the same positions at the Franklin Mint. last_img read more

Soldiers charged with murder, rape

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Sheldon also said that he and prosecutors have signed a plea agreement, but wouldn’t discuss details. Any agreement would still have to be approved by the court. “One of the things that the government factors is cooperation of co-accused. And I would certainly think that is a factor in who faces the death penalty in this and who doesn’t,” Sheldon said. Green, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape and four counts of murder, will be tried in federal court in Kentucky. Military prosecutors have said the five – all from the division’s 502nd Infantry Regiment – planned the attack from a checkpoint near the family’s home, changed their clothing to hide their identities and set the girl’s body on fire to destroy evidence. Their unit suffered months of bombings and shootings that felled dozens of comrades. Defense attorneys have argued that soldiers of every rank were emotionally ragged and strained. In statements given to military investigators, Spielman was described as a “look-out” while the others entered the home. His attorneys said they were shocked that he faces a death penalty. “Even according to the government’s evidence that they’re putting forth, Jesse isn’t even a principal in murder and rape,” said Craig Carlson, Spielman’s attorney. Several of the soldiers have military defense attorneys, who are prohibited from discussing their cases outside of a courtroom.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Eight soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were ordered Wednesday to be court-martialed on murder charges stemming from their service in Iraq, and two could get the death penalty for allegedly raping a 14-year-old and killing her and her family. The Fort Campbell soldiers facing the death penalty are Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman. Both are accused of raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family’s home in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, then killing the girl, her parents and younger sister. Spc. James P. Barker and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard are also accused in the rape and murders but will not face the death penalty, the military said in a statement. Barker’s attorney, David Sheldon in Washington, D.C., said that Barker has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against others, including former Army Pvt. Steven Green, who was discharged for a personality disorder and arrested in North Carolina. last_img read more

Chelsea star makes revelation about club’s transfer ban

first_img REPLY REVEALED shining Chelsea players will not be sold during the club’s transfer ban, according to defender Andreas Christensen.The Blues were handed a two-window ban last month for breaking FIFA’s transfer rules in relation to the recruitment of minors. Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won gameday cracker Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT Chelsea have denied any wrongdoing and lodged an appeal with the governing body earlier this month.However, the club were ‘astonished’ by FIFA’s decision to reject their request to freeze the ban during an appeal process.Christensen, who has been used sparingly by manager Maurizio Sarri this season, told Ekstra Bladet: ”The messages we’ve got are that Chelsea can’t appeal the case and therefore want to keep all the players. Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? There are six live commentaries across the talkSPORT network this week. Find out what they are and where to hear them, below… RANKED Montenegro vs England (Monday) – talkSPORTFrance vs Iceland (Monday) – talkSPORT 2Czech Republic vs Brazil (Tuesday) – talkSPORT 2West Brom vs Birmingham (Friday) – talkSPORT 2West Ham vs Everton (Saturday) – talkSPORTPortsmouth vs Sunderland (Sunday) – talkSPORT 2 Most of Andreas Christensen’s playing time has come through cup games this season LIVE on talkSPORT 1 ADVICE center_img Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions “The situation I have ended up in has been very difficult to accept.”The Denmark international has started just three Premier League games this term, but has been a regular in their Europa League campaign.Chelsea await Czech club Slavia Praha in the quarter-finals of the competition next month. LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS no dice Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars BEST OF Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ REVEALED Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card huge blow Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Christensen, who has been linked with moves to Barcelona and AC Milan, has spoken out about his lack of playing time in the past. In October, the 22-year-old said: “Right now, it’s not a good season for me, but I have to find some way to get back on. How? I do not know, but it’s up to myself to figure out.“But right now it looks hard. We have good results and we play super good football, which only makes it harder. It’s hard for me personally, but for the team it looks great.”last_img read more

Graham Dorrans out for up to three months after surgery

first_imgRangers caretaker manager Graeme Murty confirmed earlier this week that Dorrans was seeing a specialist for a second time and that there was no expected comeback date for the attacking midfielder. He had previously said that the club had been told surgery wouldn’t be required.“He has seen a consultant and had a scan down south,” Murty said in mid-November.“He has a positive resolution for us so we can move forward now. We’re not going to have an invasive solution to it so that’s really positive for us.“I haven’t got a timescale at the moment for you but as soon as I get one it will come out.” Rangers midfielder Graham Dorrans will be out of action for up to three months after undergoing ankle surgery.The player was in London this week where he underwent the procedure on Wednesday.Dorrans limped out of Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Ibrox in October and hasn’t been in first team action since. If out for three months, Dorrans would not only miss the Glasgow derby against Celtic on December 30 but would also be a serious doubt for the match against Brendan Rodgers’ side at Ibrox on March 10. Prior to his injury, the 30-year old had been a threat in Pedro Caixinha’s side, scoring five times in thirteen games.last_img read more

Gerrard: We sign for Rangers for these sorts of games

first_imgSteven Gerrard has said that games like Sunday’s League Cup semi-final at Aberdeen are why coaches and players join the Ibrox club and he intends to help add to history by reaching the final.The manager is preparing to lead his team out at Hampden for the first time and says his squad will be giving their all to make sure they are returning to the national stadium before the year is out. “When you sign up for Rangers, whether as a coach or a player, you sign up to try and add to that wonderful history and tradition,” he said. “The responsibility lies on us this time around, myself and my players.“We accept that and we go there and give it our best. We want to go and play in a final and we want our fans to go to a final but we’ve got a tough game in front of us. “We’ve got respect for our opposition and their manager. They’ve got experience but we’ve got good players and hungry players who want to play in a final.”Gerrard’s task is made tougher with the absence of his two strikers on Sunday. Alfredo Morelos is suspended, while Kyle Lafferty is cup-tied after playing for Hearts early in the season.While he wouldn’t divulge his plans to get around the problem, he said that the game would prove if his players could step up to the mark and deliver goals without the main supply taking to the park.“We’ll see,” he said. “That’s the question I’m asking the players in the squad. “Have we? That’s the big question.“The stage is set for us to go and answer that question.“It’s very difficult to predict but we have a game plan and we’ll have enough quality on the pitch to win the game, if we max out and hit the heights we’re capable of.”While saying that there were some “heavy legs” after Thursday’s 0-0 Europa League draw with Spartak Moscow, Gerrard has no fresh injury concerns.However, he revealed that Graham Dorrans will be out for “months” after a diagnosis on his knee injury.“Graham, along with the medical staff and the surgeons have decided the best way for him is to have surgery on his knee,” he said. “So he will be missing for definite for a few months.” Borna Barisic will not be fit for Sunday’s semi-final but Scott Arfield may return to the squad.last_img read more

Kerr felt Scotland were denied penalty against Japan

first_imgScotland boss Shelley Kerr felt her side should have been awarded a penalty in the 2-1 Women’s World Cup loss to Japan in Rennes.As the Scots applied pressure late on, Erin Cuthbert appealed that Risa Shimizu had handled in the box but no spot-kick was given.When asked about the incident, Kerr said in her post-match press conference: “It’s not a hard luck story but I’ve actually watched it back three times, and it’s a penalty.“There’s no other comments to make on it, it’s a penalty.” Scotland’s second defeat in Group D followed a similar pattern to their first – the 2-1 loss to to England five days earlier – with them going 2-0 down in the first half before improving after the break and pulling a goal back in the closing stages of the game.Japan, the 2011 winners and 2015 runners-up who had been held to a 0-0 draw by Argentina in their opening game, took the lead in the 23rd minute at Roazhon Park via a Mana Iwabuchi strike as an error by Scotland captain Rachel Corsie was punished.The advantage was then extended in the 37th by a penalty won and converted by Yuika Sugasawa, who went down in the box when Corsie put her hand on her shoulder.Scotland’s subsequent rally saw Cuthbert hit a post in the 78th minute, then have two penalty claims turned down before substitute Lana Clelland’s fine strike made it 2-1 with two minutes of normal time remaining. Scotland, who are at a Women’s Word Cup finals for the first time, need to beat Argentina in their final group game on Wednesday to have a chance of progressing into the last 16.Kerr said: “We obviously conceded two bad goals, mistakes. Take that out of the game and it’s much closer.“Huge credit to Japan. I think we saw the real Japan today, their movement was incredible.“We knew it would be, we tried to set up in a way to stop them and in spells of the game we didn’t do that, which sometimes can be understandable because you’re playing against world-class players.“But I thought in the second half, for most of it we were terrific, and we finished really strongly.“I’m immensely proud of the players, because it’s their first World Cup and playing against England first and then Japan and you narrowly lose to both.“We need to build on it, we need to rest again and get ready for a big game against Argentina.”Japan boss Asako Takakura said in quotes reported on FIFA’s official website: “It was a must-win game and, although there were tough moments, we’re very happy to get the win.“We had to be aggressive and score goals, and that’s what we did. We didn’t show our true selves in the first game at this tournament but this was a lot more like the true Japan.“I expect a lot of my players and today we managed to win against a wonderful Scottish team. But at the same time, we can still improve certain aspects of our game and we will keep discussing how to do that.”last_img read more

Washington County Sheriff’s Department Will Arrest Impaired Drivers with National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Effort

first_imgWashington County Sheriff’s Department is joining about 220 law-enforcement agencies across Indiana and thousands nationwide in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.From mid-August through the Labor Day Weekend, police will be out in full force, arresting impaired drivers by aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger. Expect to see increased sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and saturation patrols. “If you drive impaired, our officers are trained to spot you and take you to jail. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over means zero tolerance,” said local law enforcement leaders.“These enforcement efforts save the lives of impaired drivers, their passengers and others out on the road.”In every state and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to 1 year.A DUI arrest means going to jail and losing your driver’s license. The average DUI cost? About $10,000, including car towing and repairs, attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work and other hefty expenses.Indiana law-enforcement agencies have participated in the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign for more than 20 years. Overtime patrols are supported with federal highway safety funds administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. For more information, visit http://one.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to impaired driving:• Designate, or be, a sober driver.• Use public transportation.• Call a cab or a ridesharing service.• Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Android Play Store or the Apple iTunes Store. This simple app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend, and identify your location for pickup.• Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.• Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.• Never provide alcohol to minors.• Ask young drivers about their plans.• Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.Motorcyclists have the reputation for being tough, but no one is tough enough to withstand the effects of impaired riding. Motorcycles make up about 3 percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically over-represented in fatal crashes involving alcohol. The more that bikers drink, the less likely they are towear their helmets.The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a new “Man in the Mirror” video with a biker judging whether he is sober enough to ride:https://youtu.be/V– qw9N00KM.Report impaired driversImpaired driving is three times more common at night than during the day. If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include: Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line Driving at a very slow speed Braking erratically Making wide turns Stopping without cause Responding slowly to traffic signals Driving after dark with headlights off Almost striking an object or vehicle Driving on the wrong side of the road Turning abruptly or illegallylast_img read more