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RI PT IO N BS C SU THE LEADING INDEPENDENT DAILY IN THE ARABIAN GULF 40 PAGES THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2010 SHAABAN 10, 1431 AH Expats lament as Kuwait becomes more expensive Obama, Cameron tread cautiously on BP, Lockerbie PAGE 2 PAGE 9 NO: 14797 China flooding kills 701, worst toll in a decade 150 FILS India face defeat as Murali bags 5 PAGE 10 PAGE 20 49 killed in Yemen Shiite rebels, army-backed tribes battle KUALA LUMPUR: A vendor holds up a football jersey carrying the English Premier League’s Manchester United team emblem at a roadside shop in downtown in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. — AFP Manchester United jersey un-Islamic? Muslims warned against wearing ‘devilish’ jersey KUALA LUMPUR: Muslims must not wear the famous Manchester United red jersey because of the “devil” emblem on its team crest, Malaysian clerics said yesterday. Manchester United and the rest of the English Premier League are massively popular in Muslim-majority Malaysia and the rest of the Asian region, but conservative religious scholars said the jersey is un-Islamic. Also off limits are the shirts of teams including Brazil, Portugal, Barcelona, Serbia and Norway, all of which carry images of the cross on their team emblems. “This is very dangerous. As a Muslim, we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils,” Nooh Gadot, a top Islamic cleric from the southern Johor state said. “It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons,” said Nooh, an advisor to the Johor religious council. “Even if it (the jersey) is a gift, we should decline it. It is even more sinful when people realize this is wrong and still buy these jerseys to wear,” he added. Nooh said there was no “fatwa”, or religious edict, against the shirts but that one was not needed when it was clearly wrong for Muslims to don such a garment. “These Muslims should repent, repent immediately,” he said. Another leading cleric, Continued on Page 14 IMF pushes Gulf on transparency DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund yesterday urged Gulf Arab states to lend further support to financial firms, shut down unworkable companies and boost transparency as they emerge from the global economic crisis. The organization’s latest recommendations come as the city-state of Dubai works itself out from more than $100 billion in debt amassed by its Dubai World conglomerate and a web of other state-linked companies, whose credit woes cast a shadow on economies across the region. Firms elsewhere, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are also struggling to repay billions of dollars in debt. Financial troubles among once seemingly solid companies in the oil-rich Gulf have spooked both lenders and borrowers, making risk-averse banks reluctant to lend even as they struggle to attract new deposits, according to the IMF. That has left many relying on state support. “The short-term priority remains the buttressing of the financial sector without unduly constraining the availability of credit,” the IMF said in an update on the region released yesterday. It called on Gulf governments to periodically review banks’ books, which it says look healthy for now - and urged authorities to spell out a framework for how and when they would intervene should problems arise. The IMF hailed the “significant progress” made by struggling companies such as Dubai World and Kuwait’s Global Investment House to restructure their finances. Dubai World, whose name became synonymous with the Gulf’s debt troubles, is expected to meet creditors this week as it seeks to win support for its $23.5 billion restructuring plan. But the IMF also said that as authorities work to fix ailing firms, they should ensure “a smooth exit of nonviable institutions” - some of which have been propped up by the region’s deep-pocketed governments. “Countries should prepare an exit strategy from current high spending levels, to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability,” the IMF said. The fund expects Gulf economies to improve this year thanks to the global recovery and generous state spending. —AP (See Page 21) No more ‘too big to fail’ Obama signs Wall Street overhaul into law WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law the most comprehensive financial regulatory overhaul since the Great Depression and vowed there will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts for Wall Street. “Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said at a signing ceremony for the legislation approved by the US Congress last week. The bill targets the kind of Wall Street risk-taking that helped to trigger a global financial meltdown and also Continued on Page 14 WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection financial reform bill at the Ronald Reagan Building yesterday. — AP SANAA: Fighting in mountainous north Yemen between Shiite rebels and army-backed tribes over the past four days have left at least 49 people dead, threatening a fragile truce, tribal and rebel sources said yesterday. The major confrontations were taking place in Al-Amsheyah, in the northern Amran province, where the tribe of MP Sheikh Sagheer Aziz is allegedly besieged by the Huthi rebels. “The confrontations between the Huthi (rebels) and the supporters of the tribal chief Sheikh Sagheer Aziz have resulted in the death of 20 tribesmen and 10 Huthis,” a tribal source said, requesting anonymity. “Rebels are still besieging the tribe” of Bin Aziz, the source added. But the rebels’ spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam said that 20 rebels were killed in the confrontations, claiming that the clashes were with the army and not with the tribe. “We are confronting military positions. These are not tribal areas,” he said by telephone. Aziz is a member of the parliamentary bloc of the ruling General People’s Congress party. Six MPs have started a sit-in on Tuesday at the parliament in support of Aziz, demanding government action to end the alleged Continued on Page 14 KUWAIT: Kuwaitis and expatriates prepare to fish in the Arabian Gulf Sea in this photo. Kuwait MP has criticized the Ministry of Commerce for ‘failing to take prompt measures against those who caused the sharp rise in the prices of fresh meat’. (See Page 3) —Photo by Joseph Shagra Car bomb leaves 30 dead BAQUBA: A car bomb killed 30 people and wounded 46 near a mosque in a predominantly Shiite area of the mixed city of Baquba, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad yesterday, security officials said. The bomb in a car parked near a Shiite mosque in the Abu Sayeeda neighborhood of the city exploded at around 6:00 pm, an official from Baquba Operations Command said. Police imposed a curfew in Abu Sayeeda as they suspect there might be more bombs, the official said, adding later that police had defused two roadside bombs in the area. Also yesterday, a US soldier was killed by a homemade bomb in Diyala province, the US military said. A total of 4,413 American troops have died since the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, according to an AFP tally based on a running toll kept by the independent website. Diyala, of which Baquba is the capital, is confessionally and ethnically mixed and has been a persistent target for attack by Al-Qaeda militants seeking to exploit its communal tensions. On Monday, a bomb in a car parked in front of a coffee shop killed seven people and wounded 21 in the city, police said. And on Tuesday, six Iranians and two Iraqis were wounded by a car bomb targeting a bus in Jadidat Al-Shat to the west of the city. US and Iraqi officials have warned of the dangers of an upsurge in violence as negotiations on forming a new governing coalition have dragged on, giving insurgent groups an opportunity to further destabilize the country. More than four months after a March 7 general election which gave no single bloc an overall parliamentary majority, the two lists which won most seats are still bickering over who should be the next prime minister. On July 12, Iraqi politicians extended an inaugural parliamentary session by two weeks to give rival blocs more time to form a government. But yesterday, the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, said that recent attacks, including a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed at least 45 people-Iraq’s deadliest single attack in more than two months-would not affect the withdrawal timetable for US troops. “I believe it is in the best interest of our mission” to keep the timetable. “It’s important that we live up to our commitment.” US President Barack Obama has promised to scale back the US military presence to 50,000 troops by August 31 ahead of a full withdrawal in 2011. — AFP Tehran says scientist provides info on CIA Iran eyes nuclear fusion reactor TEHRAN: An Iranian nuclear scientist who returned home last week from the United States provided valuable information about the CIA, a semiofficial news agency reported yesterday, adding that his spy’s tale would be made into a TV movie. American authorities have claimed Shahram Amiri willingly defected to the US but changed his mind and decided to return home without the $5 million he had been paid for what a US official described as “significant” information about his country’s disputed nuclear program. The Fars news agency, which is close to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, quoted an unidentified source as saying Iran’s intelligence agents were in touch with Amiri while he was in the US and that they won an intelligence battle against the CIA. Iran has portrayed the return of Amiri as a blow to American intelligence services that it says were desperate for inside information on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has sought to make maximum propaganda gains from the affair, allowing journalists to cover Amiri’s return, sending a senior Foreign Ministry official to greet him and preparing to make a movie about the story. “This was an intelligence battle between the CIA and us that was designed and managed by Iran,” the source was quoted as saying. “We had set various goals in this battle and, by the grace of God, we achieved all our objectives without our rival getting any real victory.” Amiri claims he was kidnapped by American agents in May 2009 while on a pilgrimage to holy Muslim sites in Saudi Arabia. The Fars report suggests Amiri had been planted to discover how much information the US had gathered about Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington believes is aimed at weapons production. Iran says its nuclear work is only for energy production and other peaceful purposes. “We sought to obtain good information from inside the CIA. While Amiri was still in the Continued on Page 14 Photo montage shows a star R136a1 thought to be the heaviest star ever discovered. — AP ‘Monster’ star found LONDON: The most massive star ever, which is up to 20 million times brighter than the Sun, has been discovered using the Very Large Telescope in Chile, scientists in Britain said yesterday. The star, named R136a1, is thought to have started off with a mass of up to 320 times that of the Sun and the new discovery has doubled the previously accepted limit of solar mass. Although it has since shed some of its weight, it is so powerful that if it replaced the Sun as the centre of our solar system, it would make life on Earth impossible because of the strength of its ultraviolet radiation. R136a1 was discovered as part of a series of massive stars found in two young star clusters by a team of astronomers led by Professor Paul Crowther of Sheffield University in northern England. “Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age,” Crowther said. “Being a little over a million years old, the most extreme star R136a1 is already middleaged and has undergone an intense weight loss program, shedding a fifth of its initial mass over that time, or more than 50 solar masses. “Owing to the rarity of these monsters, I think it is unlikely that this new record will be broken any time soon.” Crowther added that astronomers faced a challenge to work out how the stars origi- nated. “Either they were born so big or smaller stars merged together to produce them,” he said. The Very Large Telescope project, in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, is operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). It features four eight-meter diameter telescopes and is described by the ESO as “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”. Researchers studied the stars using it plus data from the NASA/European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope. The research, conducted by scientists from Britain, Malaysia and Germany, was published in scientific journal The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. — AFP

22 Jul

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