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Suu Kyi declares Myanmar on cusp of new era

Indebted Dubai Drydocks seeks court protection

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United increase lead over City in title race


Assembly probe panel meets former Central Bank chief MPs may grill interior minister • Tabtabaei slams church demands

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By B Izzak conspiracy theories

All we need is regulation By Badrya Darwish


hy people in the Middle East or in Kuwait in particular think that building mosques is the only thing they can offer as charity? I am writing this in the light of the news coming these days about building mosques, churches and introducing new rules for building husseiniyas (religious centres for Shiites). MP Tabtabaei has criticized Sheikha Fareeha after she supported the right of Armenian Christians in Kuwait to build a church for themselves. Some time ago she helped Coptic Christians in Kuwait build a church in Hawally, where mainly Egyptian Christians go. That encouraged the Armenian community to approach the sheikha to help them out. I am not against building mosques, churches or husseiniyas. I think there should be municipality rules and regulations introduced for the construction of worship places. The first thing that should be considered is the number of worshippers who will go to that worship house. If it is only a few people who belong to some sect, it is not worth to build a special worship house. They can use another one. Many people donate to build mosques but what if the area is crowded with mosques? I think the municipality should have a say and not just the donor. Should there be one mosque and another mosque and yet another mosque in the same area? There are many ways to do charity. You can build a school if the area is full of mosques. You can build wards in hospitals and build special centres for various medical treatments. There are hundred ways of charity in Islam and I am sure in other religions too. Charity can also go for sports sections for youth. I am sure if you offer kids in the area a playground and keep them off the street, this is a nice way of charity and investment in the health of the future generations. Why nobody has ever thought of donating for a semi-free nursery for working mothers for those who are on low salaries and cannot afford nannies or maids. This is another nice way to do charity. Even building parks for people to walk and building walking paths is a kind of charity. Charity should not be limited. The sky is the limit. It should not be up to a government official or an NGO to decide which church, mosque, husseiniya or worship house should be built. It is not only about the worship house, it is about the infrastructure in the area, the buildings, traffic and streets. You don’t put something where there is no parking, for example. Or you might hinder traffic. Professionals and experts from the municipality have to decide. A committee should be formed to study thoroughly the necessities of society. It is as simple as that. Why are we making a big issue of simple things which only need regulations? Or are we in Kuwait used to argue for the sake of arguing?

OAKLAND, California: Police cover bodies near Oikos University after a gunman opened fire yesterday. — AP

Gunman kills 7 at US college OAKLAND, California: A gunman opened fire at a Christian university in California yesterday, killing at least seven people and wounding three more, before being captured hours later at a shopping center in a nearby city, authorities said. The gunfire erupted around midmorning at Oikos University in Oakland, police said. Television footage showed heavily armed officers swarming the building in a large industrial park near the Oakland airport. The footage also showed bloodied victims on stretchers being loaded into ambulances. Several bodies covered in sheets were laid out on a patch of grass at the school. For at least an hour after the shooting began, police thought the shooter could still be on campus. Myung Soon Ma, the school’s secretary, said she could not provide any details about what happened at the small private school, which serves the Korean community with courses from theology to Asian medicine. “I feel really sad, so I cannot talk right now,” she said, speaking from her home. “No one can go there because the access is restricted right now.” Police believe the shooter acted alone, though they have not discussed a possible motive. Police spokeswoman Cynthia Perkins said the death toll was seven yesterday afternoon. Officer Johnna Watson said the suspect is an Asian male in his 40s who was taken into custody at

33 kg of gold jewelry stolen in brazen heist By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A manhunt is on for armed robbers who stole more than 33 kilograms of gold ornaments from a jewelry shop in Mubarakiya yesterday. A security guard reported that three or four unidentified robbers, including one dressed in national attire, allegedly broke into the mall he guards. He said they knocked him unconscious with a blow to the back of his head, tied him up and stole the jewelry. The shop owner estimated the theft at over 33 kg, security sources said. The mall lacks security surveillance cameras. Further investigations are in progress.

Working women? Not in Mideast

RIYADH: A Saudi woman sews at a military uniforms factory belonging to the defence ministry yesterday. The female unemployment rate is about 30 percent in the kingdom. — AFP

RIYADH: By overwhelming margins, young people in the Arab world think women should be allowed to hold any job they are qualified for. But in practice women aren’t given the same educational opportunities as men and far fewer actually enter the workforce. Those are the findings of a survey by the Gallup polling organization released yesterday. It found that among young people aged 23 to 29 in 22 Middle Eastern and North African countries, 70 percent of the men and 82 percent of the women polled favored equal opportunity. But the equality doesn’t reach the office cubicle or university lecture hall. The same survey found that less than a third of the women hold jobs, compared with more than 80 percent of the men. In education, too, the gap is yawning: Across the Arab world only half the women had a secondary education or better while 63 percent of the men had one. Continued on Page 13

a shopping center in the neighboring city of Alameda. She would not confirm if he was a student. Watson said most of the wounded or dead were shot inside the building. “It’s a very fluid situation and an active investigation,” Watson said, declining to discuss details of the arrest or a possible motive. KTVU-TV reported that the shooter was a student and opened fire in a classroom. Pastor Jong Kim, who founded the school about 10 years ago, told the Oakland Tribune that the shooter was a nursing student who was no longer enrolled. He did not know if the shooter was expelled or dropped out. Kim said he heard about 30 rapid-fire gunshots in the building. “I stayed in my office,” he said. Deborah Lee, who was in an English language class, said she heard five to six gunshots at first. “The teacher said, ‘Run,’ and we run,” she said. “I was OK, because I know God protects me. I’m not afraid of him.” Angie Johnson told the San Francisco Chronicle that she saw a young woman leave the building with blood coming from her arm and crying: “I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.” The injured woman said the shooter was a man in her nursing class who got up and shot one person at point-blank range in the chest before spraying the room with bullets, Johnson said. “She said he looked crazy all the time,” she said the victim told her, “but they never knew how far he would go.” — AP

Russia plane crash kills 31 in oil town MOSCOW: Thirty-one people died yesterday when a Russian plane crashed and burst into flames upon take-off from a Siberian airport at which another Boeing jumbo jet had to abort its flight only a few hours later. The emergencies ministry said the French-Italian made ATR-72 was carrying 39 passengers and four crew when it came down 45 km from the western Siberian city of Tyumen after taking off for the oil town of Surgut. The twin-engine turboprop was operated by UTair - a private Russian airline that conducts most of its flights in the energyrich regions of Siberia and the Ural Mountains. The airline said in a statement that the plane came down “while conducting a forced landing 1.5 kilometres” outside Roshchino airport. One witness on the ground said he noticed a problem as soon as the propeller plane left the runway. “There was a small flash of light followed by smoke,” the witness identified only as Alexei told RIA Novosti news agency. “The plane started turning, the smoke kept pouring out, and then the plane went into the field,” he said. Initial reports suggested that the plane was in good condition and being operated by an experienced pilot on a sunny but chilly day that seemed to provide ideal flight conditions. Investigators said the ATR-72 first entered into service in 1992 and had recorded 35,000 flight hours - figures that match those of planes used by Western airlines. The flight was also employing a chief pilot who had amassed 2,500 flight hours over a spotless career. One unnamed investigator told news agencies the circumstances suggested that the plane Continued on Page 13

KUWAIT: The National Assembly committee probing alleged foreign money transfers yesterday met the former governor of the Central Bank Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah who was praised as “transparent” by the panel chairman MP Faisal Al-Mislem. Allegations were made that between 2006 and late 2011, former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad AlSabah transferred millions of dinars from public funds into his private bank accounts overseas. The transfers were allegedly made through the Central Bank, Kuwait Investment Authority and the foreign ministry and the amounts transferred are not known. The previous government had maintained that the former prime minister had repaid all the amounts to public coffers. The investigation committee formed to probe the issue last month heard the testimony of KIA director general Bader Al-Saad as the financial undersecretary at the prime minister’s office Khaled Al-Bannai did not attend. Muslim said Bannai will be questioned over his role at a meeting tomorrow, while Bannai said yesterday that he did not receive an invitation to the meeting. Mislem meanwhile insisted that the invitation was sent out by the Assembly on Feb 28 and reached the premier’s office the following day. The lawmaker said the committee is scheduled to meet former foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah, who resigned last October over the issue, next Sunday. The committee will also meet with Kuwaiti envoys in Geneva, London and New York next Monday. The three envoys were mentioned as being involved in the transfers. In another probe, the interior and defense committee yesterday met two senior officials over alleged Continued on Page 13

Court convicts Laden’s widows ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court yesterday convicted Osama bin Laden’s three widows and two of his grownup daughters of illegal residency, sentencing them to 45 days detention and ordering their deportation. The Al-Qaeda terror chief’s two Saudi and one Yemeni widows, together with their children, have been in Pakistani custody since bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs at his villa in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. Their conviction is a step towards deporting the women as Pakistan nears the first anniversary of the raid that humiliated the country and raised fears that at least someone in authority must have been complicit in hiding bin Laden. Yesterday’s proceedings lasted three hours, presided over by a judge in a makeshift court set up in the plush house where they are living and where they will serve out their sentences, away from the prying eyes of media. Police commandos barricaded the main gate of the two-storey house and policemen could be seen on the first floor by journalists, confined to the opposite side of the road in the leafy G6 neighbourhood of Islamabad. Defence lawyer Muhammad Aamir said the 45-day sentence would date back to March 3, when they were formally arrested, and that the deportation process could be completed within two weeks. “The interior secretary has been directed to arrange their deportation,” Aamir told reporters. Continued on Page1 3

ISLAMABAD: Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law Zakarya Ahmad Abd al-Fattah, the Yemeni brother of bin Laden’s youngest and reputedly favourite wife Amal, leaves the house where family members of the slain Al-Qaeda chief are being held yesterday. — AFP




KUWAIT: A delegation from the Ministry of Public Works engineers visiting the project of Sabah Al-Salem University City (Kuwait University) yesteyday. It is one of the leading projects for Kuwait’s development plan.

Domestic employment offices oppose maids salary increase No KD 85 for Sri Lankan maids By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait introduced a minimum salary for maids coming from Sri Lanka. New arrivals must be paid KD 75, while those maids who have worked here for more than two years must be paid KD 85 starting from April 1. But it seems the decision, a result of recent salary increases and price hikes, will not be applied. Abdulqayoom, an employee at the Fawziya Al-Mutotih Domestic Office, reiterated that the decision will not be applied. “Yesterday, the Sri Lankan Minister of Labor was visiting Kuwait. We met with him to

demand a stop to the new decision by the Sri Lankan embassy to increase salaries, or payments including a ticket, visa and commission for the maid, which is already KD 700. He ensured us that the planned increase will be stopped, so currently the salary for Sri Lankan maids is KD 60 or 65, depending on experience,” he told Kuwait Times. Fahad Al-Rashidi, manager of Shibib Al-Mutairi Domestic Office, is strictly against any increase. “I think this is not fair, to increase the charges for maids. The Kuwaiti office is harmed by such decisions, especially if the maid escapes as our office gives a 100 day warranty. We have to

return the money to the customer, but the office in Sri Lanka which suggested this decision is not affected,” he explained. “Currently there are about 400 Sri Lankan maids at the embassy in Kuwait who escaped from their sponsor. They can return to Sri Lanka as the sponsor reported them absconding. The Sri Lankan Minister demanded three months to review the decision, so we are not increasing their salaries at the present time. We have a meeting with other domestic office owners to decide any new decision. A Sri Lankan maid currently costs KD 650, and her salar y is KD50 or KD60 depending on her experience,”

added Al-Rashidi. The news of the salary hike of maids was not welcomed by families. “I think that maids do not deserve this increase and it’s a kind of exploitation. I do not have and have never had a Sri Lankan maid. I have two maids, one is Indian and the other is Filipina and they both receive KD 70. The old maid has been working for me for three years and was receiving KD60, but last year I increased it to KD 70. The new maid receives KD 70 as she is Filipina and I hired her three months ago. If they increase the salary for maids by KD10 it won’t affect me,” said Manal, a 46 yearold housewife.

Kuwait to seek energy efficient solution for district cooling KUWAIT: In the wake of a demand for effective and efficient technologies for Kuwait’s cooling needs, Fleming Gulf’s utility division announced its Power and District Cooling Summit which was hosted under the patronage of the Ministry Of Electricity and Water, Kuwait. Eng. Ahmed Khaled Al-Jassar, Undersecretary and Dr. Mishan Al Otaibi - Assistant Undersecretary Planning and Training stated - “ The Ministry of Electricity and Water fully recognizes the value of District Cooling to Kuwait both as a major contribution to sustainable energy policy and as an industrial diversification opportunity.” The first district cooling plant was built in the 1960s in Kuwait but was not used widely as energy consumption was not very high. But now, with a rapid growth in population and urbanization, Kuwait’s energy demand has also increased drastically. According to latest reports, the demand for power in Kuwait will raise up-to 10,500 MW in the upcoming summer and is expected to reach 25,000MW in the time to come. With temperature hitting 50 degree Celsius during peak summers, air conditioners consume most of Kuwait’s power production. Investing in district cooling technology projects, Kuwait’s energy consumption can be reduced by at least 40% - 60% annually as compared to

conventional cooling systems. The added benefit of lowering CO2 emissions also reinforces the use of this technology. Highlighting region specific insights from Kuwait, UAE & KSA, the summit will also cover various topics such as power security through district cooling based energy conservation, promoting renewable energy utilization through District Cooling, efficient utilization of thermal energy storage and more. With WARTSILA the official Headline sponsor, companies like Equate, TAS, SPIG, Nalco, Sipos Aktorik, Saia Burges, Kamstrup, Belven, Hamon and Carrier have shown keen interest and partnered with this event to showcase their expertise in the field of district cooling and how their technologies can help the State of Kuwait gain from this revolutionary technology. With a rich history in producing high quality, industry specific business events around the world, Fleming Gulf Conferences is one of the leading names in the business intelligence industry. Its dynamic team of conference professionals has been responsible for bringing together the decision makers, movers and shakers and the leading solution providers from around the world where they have debated, discussed and delivered key strategies that have shaped

MoI deals with grilling motion according to Parliament bylaw KUWAIT: Information Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak AlSabah, said yesterday he will deal with a grilling motion submitted by an MP according to Parliament bylaw, without deviating from its framework. The minister had just attended a meeting of the Committee on Education, Culture and Guidance and was responding to a parliamentary question on the motion submitted to him by MP Hussein Al-Qallaf.

He said attending the meeting “was based on my desire, which blended with the views of committee members who are assigned by the House to discuss the extent of the Ministry of Information’s adherence to the implementation of the audio-visual law.” He said he is keen to deal openly with the various Parliament committees, expressing his willingness to attend all relevant meetings. — KUNA

MOH consultative council

KUWAIT: A group of students from Al-Maarifa School visited Sabah Al-Ahmad base for Coast Guards yesterday. They were briefed on the nature of work inside the base and were taken on a tour of its different departments.

KUWAIT: Minister of Health Dr Ali AlObaidi has issued a decision calling for the formation of a consultative medical council headed by himself. The Undersecretary is Vice Chairman and membership will be of assistant undersecretaries for technical affairs, quality and planning affairs and the heads of department of medical sections. The director of the technical administration will be the Secretary. The council will participate in drawing

the general policy for medical services, and give opinions about laws proposed to organize the medical profession. The council will meet once every two months. The minister also issued a decision forming a council for medical heads of department. Minister Al-Obaidi said the decision will develop technical and medical performance, and the medical department council will plan and organize the technical administration in compatibility with MoH growth plans and programs.

Parents questioned over death of son By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: The parents of an 11-year-old boy were arrested to investigate the real cause of his death, security sources said. Case papers indicate that the parents took their son to hospital claiming that he was unconscious. On being examined by the doctor, he was found to have died by suffocation. His mother claimed that he got angry when he was left alone at home and looped a sheet around his neck, which resulted in the suffocation. Both parents were detained pending more investigations. Drug overdose A citizen in his fifties was found dead at his family residence in Mubarak Al-Kabeer, security sources said. Initial investigations suggest that the man might have died of a drug overdose. Debt unpaid An Egyptian accused a female citizen of refusing to pay him a debt of KD 4,000, said security sources. The man possesses an affidavit signed by the woman admitting to have borrowed the sum from him. Further investigations are in progress. Detergent swallowed A 40-year-old Sri Lankan was rushed to Farwaniya Hospital after swallowing detergent, said security sources. Further investigations were still in progress to determine whether this happened accidentally or with the intention of committing suicide. Fight A 41-year-old Bangladeshi sustained facial wounds and was completely dizzy after a fight with others in a Salmiya shopping mall. Road accidents An unidentified Asian was seriously injured when he was run over by a speeding vehicle along Jahra highway just before the Doha spur. Security sources said the man was rushed to Jahra Hospital ICU in critical condition. A 23-year-old citizen broke his left arm in a traffic accident in Jahra.



481 Kuwaiti couples divorce in 2011 KUWAIT: The divorce rate in the Kuwaiti community reached 6 percent last year compared to marriages recorded the same year, a senior Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official said recently. “2011 featured 7,641 marriage and 481 divorce cases among Kuwaiti citizens, with a six percent total percentage”, said Dr. Bader Al-Zamanan, Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs. He said the percentage reached 3.4 percent during the first half of last year. Al-Zamanan said “divorce is no longer considered to be a phenomenon in Kuwaiti society”, despite recording a

slight increase from the 5 percent rate recorded in 2010 according to official statistics. The senior official said the MOJ Family Counseling Department helped reunite 2,746 couples in 2010. Al-Zamanan said the percentage of divorce among marriages between Kuwaiti men and non-Kuwaiti women in 2011 reached 8 percent, with 1,801 marriages compared to 148 divorces. On the other hand, 11 percent of marriages between Kuwaiti women and non-Kuwaiti men ended in divorce last year, with 704 marriages and 84 divorces. —Al-Rai

Budget submitted without supplementary appropriations KUWAIT: The cabinet submitted the general budget of the state for the fiscal year 2012/2013 without supplementary appropriations, something the head of the parliament’s budgets committee described as “a positive step that allows active monitoring on all aspects of spending and help save a sizable amount of money”. His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah had given directions to scrap supplementary items which aren’t subjected to monitoring in the state’s budget. As such, salary increases enforced recently to public sector employees were not added to the

budget of the fiscal year which started this Sunday. Minister of Finance Mustafa AlShamali is expected to demand an additional budget to cover the pay raises as soon as they are enforced officially. “Supplementary appropriations were used by previous cabinets in spending on items that cannot be monitored unless through the balance sheet”, said MP Adnan Al-Abdulsamad, adding that canceling the supplementary appropriations from the state budget “has been a demand that the parliament and the budgets’ committee always sought to achieve”. — Al-Rai

Steps to improve MSAL work KUWAIT: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) said it will penalize some employees and transfer them to other departments for repeated absenteeism. Hassan Kazim, Director of the Supervision and Inspection Department, said 32 inspection tours were conducted on some ministry sectors between March 7 and March 30. Full reports were submitted on the positives and negatives of those sectors to MSAL Minister, Lt Col Ahmad Al-Rujaib. Kazim said the great majority of violations recorded during the tours were absence from work, adding that employees at Hawally Labor Department were transferred after discovering that they stopped the numbers given to representatives after 8:30 am. He

indicated that direct instructions were given by minister Al-Rujaib to remove obstacles the representatives face in all sectors. He said the inspection tours covered three departments; Jahra, Hawally and the Capital, including seven departments in the social care sector and the financial, administrative and public relation departments at the Undersecretary’s office. He said the department’s job is not only inspection but also supervision, achieved through open cooperation with department directors. He said a report was sent to the minister about the employees shortage problem in some sectors, in addition to a memo on some observations in the family nursery that needs more attention.—Al-Jarida

Failaka ‘a treasure land’ for archeological excavations Polish experts dig on island By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: Failaka Island is an important historical land, which is a perfect place for archeological excavations. Many foreign excavation teams have worked on the Island to highlight the cultural value and importance of this piece of land. The Polish Embassy in Kuwait hosted a press conference yesterday on the Kuwaiti-Polish archaeological survey conducted along Failaka coast. At this conference the Polish excavation team presented some of their latest findings and results of surveys they made. Summing up the results of the survey conducted by the joint Kuwaiti - Polish Archaeological Mission along the Island’s coast, they stressed the importance of recognizing archaeological evidence on Failaka. “It was such a comprehensive and intensive survey along the island’s seashore. Apart from dumping sites occupied by campers or those at Awazim and Qurainiya which have already been explored by archaeologists, the members of the mission walked through every region situated along the coast,” said Dr Franciszek Pawticki, a member of the Polish excavation team. “As a result, within two months over 180 sites, different stone structures, pottery assemblages, farms, enclosures and desert wells were identified, registered, documented and finally inserted into the map,” he added. Pawticki thinks that a program to salvage the archaeological sites should be implemented due to the importance of the cultural heritage of what has already been discovered on Failaka and what will be found in coming years. “The regions of Sabbahiya, Urn ad-Dakhan, Matitah, Khariab Al-Dasht and Mourghy should be regarded as archaeological sites with a density of different historical structures dating back to the mid and late Islamic period. In our opinion, these sites and the areas around them should be excluded from any modernization program on the island, at least until the research is fully completed,” he said. A comprehensive historical study of the development of Islamic settlements located along the southern and northern coasts should be undertaken to understand the relationship between villages. No settlement existed in isolation, and the availability of water might be a potential factor related to the phenomenon of clustering as with Urn ad-Dakhan - Sabbahiya, Kharain Al-Dasht - Mourghy or Al-Saad Al-Aali Matitah with large gaps in between. Further archaeological exploration could result in much more information about all other occupation practices of the inhabitants of Failaka,” concluded Pawticki.

This year, we surveyed Failaka Island and found settlements on the north and south coasts. We know the relation between the societies that settled on both sides of the Island, especially the difference in the pottery that we found there. Maybe Failaka was more than one island with archipelagos that joined later to one island. “We are trying to write the history of Failaka,” stressed Shehab Al-Shehab, National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) Director of Department of Antiquities and Museums. Dr. Lukasz Rutkowski, member of the Polish

endangered by construction work, 3. investigating old desert well network, 4. exploring a prehistoric settlement site from the period of the Chalcolithic Ubaid culture (6-5th millennium BC),” explained Dr. Lukasz Rutkowski. The fieldwork activities have so far been carried out in the eastern sector of Sabbiya plateau. “This area is traditionally divided into several sub-regions. Bahra is the largest and in 2009 our team started to excavate an Ubaid settlement site there, and a concentration of tumuli in 2010. Muheita, an area where there is a remarkable desert well site, was excavated from 2008-2010.

KUWAIT: Franciszek Pawticki, Ambassador Janusz Szwedo, Roman Stizemicki and Lukasz Rutkowski during the press conference. — Photo by Joseph Shagra team from the University of Warsaw Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, presented a brief summary of previous research, and results of the current season (Spring 2012). For the seventh time (and for the third time in the spring season), at the invitation of the NCCAL, a University of Warsaw (PCMA) Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology expedition has excavated archaeological sites in Sabbiya region. This is the final season devoted to ‘Tumuli Graves and Other Stone Constructions in Sabbiya Region’ before a planned publication on the subject. The first campaign of archaeological investigations at Sabbiya in North Kuwait took place in 2007. “Since that time four research projects have been formulated: 1. surveying and cataloguing grave sites and other stone structures, 2. exploring chosen grave sites, especially those

Mugheira is the scene of the first investigations of the 2007 mission. Dubaij is where excavations of another well site was excavated from 20102011 and the team just finished field research at Nahdin. The investigated zone extends slightly over 20 km. when measured in a straight line. Two more sub-regions, Radha and Ras AsSabbiya, have been prospected during the archaeological survey,” he noted. “Since 2007, including the current season, a total of 40 structures have been investigated by our team including 28 tumuli graves, seven elongated structures, and five small features of other types. During the archaeological surveys conducted since 2009, over 200 structures have been found. Tumuli graves constitute at least 60 percent of this number. This season, eight stone structures were explored in two different areas, at Muheifa and Nahdin,” Rutkowski said.


LOCAL kuwait digest

kuwait digest

Offensive reactions

Let’s fight tribalism, sectarianism!

By Mohammad Al-Sabti

By Dr. Shamlan Yousif Al-Essa

he most serious threat to a religion is posed by people who call themselves ‘religious’ and claim to be knowledgeable of religious regulations, whereas their actions actually do more harm to their religion than good.

e, the people and the civil community, have to admit that we have failed to establish a modern pluralistic and democratic state in which both the people and lawmakers respect the Constitution, the law and religious and cultural pluralism in society. Let’s take the argument that happened last Thursday in Parliament, discussing the imposition of stricter penalties for blaspheming Almighty God, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and his wives. What MP Mohamed Hayef said against the Shiites when he demanded watching Husseinias and gatherings of politically-Islamic MPs outside Parliament and the death penalty for blasphemous bloggers, without thinking of equally applying the law to all or the need to prevent the public from interfering in judiciary and security authorities, was evidence that the politically Islamic and tribal MPs who just won the elections do not believe in freedom, democracy, pluralism, the Constitution, laws nor respect human rights. Promoting Sunni-Shiite disagreements within the same state is a means to distract people from the deteriorating political performance of the leadership and win more public supporters or, at least, neutralize them when personal scores are being settled. Ironically, the very same Salaf MPs calling for national unity are the anti-Shiite ones. The real problem is that Politically Islamic MPs, both Sunnis and Shiites, have been mobilizing people against each other. Such extreme calls were welcomed by their voters, who managed to isolate reasonable members of the independent moderate national and liberal blocs. This simply means that our society is becoming more and more tribal and sectarian! Historically speaking, the Muslim state did not known pluralism until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the west penetrated Muslim Arab lands and religious affiliations became more politicized. The truth that those politically Islamic MPs do not realize is that Islam has always been keen on fighting tribal fanaticism, which totally contradicts its global and universal nature. In fact, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “He is not one of us who calls to tribalism. He is not one of us who fights for the sake of tribalism. He is not one of us who dies following the way of tribalism”. Those were the true teachings of Islam, but some MPs have been posing a threat to national unity, solidarity and political stability by such disputes they have been creating. —Al-Watan



Kuwait and Iran might have some different political points of view, but these differences do not warrant for anyone to link the Shiite community and the Islamic Republic, or generalize a single error on the entire Shiite community. No Muslim ever accepts an offense to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), yet reactions to such offenses must not be expressed chaotically and with a stereotypical vengeful state of mind. I do not understand why the entire Shiite community were targeted for a single error committed by one Shiite citizen when he posted the offensive remarks against the Prophet on Twitter. I also do not know what Iran has to do with this case, or why Shiites are usually associated with Iran whenever incidents happen in Kuwaiti. Kuwait and Iran might have some different political points of view, but these differences do not warrant for anyone to link the Shiite community and the Islamic Republic, or generalize a single error on the entire Shiite community. The events which happened in retaliation to the offensive remarks lead me to speculate that deliberate attempts to spread sectarianism within society is behind the whole incident. Defending the Prophet (PBUH) is only used as a pretext to carry out these schemes. Otherwise, Muslims know better that such offenses are dealt with by reason. A Muslim only does more harm by committing rash reactions in the belief that the status of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) can be affected by an offender’s statements. Instead, Muslims should take the Prophet as an example and learn from how he dealt with offenses he was subjected to during his life. Demands for stricter penalties for offending the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) or allocating parts of a parliamentary session to discuss the subject, are only an attempt to settle political disputes which religion has nothing to do with. With that way of thinking, does it mean that all Kuwaitis should be held accountable for a mistake committed by a Kuwaiti citizen? Generalizing on differences between religious sectors is just as offensive to the Prophet’s status as a direct insult. —Al-Rai

kuwait digest

Selective freedom of expression By Abdullatif Al-Duaij


n Kuwait, we have people who have mastered the art of breaking the law and judge others according to their personal point of view. These people can be found among the Opposition in the local political scene, as they usually make accusations according to their own ideologies. Similar politicians are seen calling the Government to stop anything that does not match their personal point of view. They call the Government to arrest a person who expresses an opinion that is different to their own, or release another who shares their same point of view even though he was caught red-handed in a criminal act. MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei criticized the arrest of a citizen who burned an Iranian flag during a public demonstration. Al-Tabtabaei argues that the detainee practiced his freedom of opinion when he burned the flag. I do not think I need to point out the irony of how conservative lawmakers transform into defenders of public freedom in cases that are in line with their own ideologies. While I agree that burning any country’s flag is a part of someone’s freedom of opinion, it is important to note that Kuwait has criminalized burning the flag of a friendly nation. On that basis, police arrested and

charged the man who burned the flag of Iran. For some reason, the incident was linked to one where a person inside Kuwait posted offensive remarks towards the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) on his Twitter account. MP Al-Tabtabaei was photographed staging a sit-in in front of the State Security Service building where his ‘fellow fighter against the Iranian threat’ is being held for a crime that both of them admit took place. He is doing this despite the fact that he could present a draft law which cancels restricting freedom of expression, including flag burning in public. Given the Opposition majority in Parliament, Al-Tabtabaei would not have faced much trouble passing such a draft law in Parliament. But then again, when has Al-Tabtabaei ever been a supporter of freedom of expression? His activity is directed towards restricting freedom of opinions that contradict his own - the same ideology that the person who burned the Iranian flag has. Al-Tabtabaei speaks from an ideology that calls for selective public freedom of expression; or only allows opinions that are in line with its point of view, whereas he considers expressing other opinions to be crimes which should be punished by law. —Al-Qabas

kuwait digest

Process of privatization

kuwait digest

‘Everything under control’ By Thaar Al-Rashidi


merican western film lovers definitely know Italian Director Sergio Lino, who directed a number of the best classic cowboy films. The films were known as Italian Spaghetti Films. What lovers of those films do not know is that Sergio did not speak English and never visited the United States in his life. When he directed the films, most of them were shot in Spain, particularly at the old site of a Spanish war film produced in 1930. The site of the film reminds us that it was not built until Sergio chose it to shoot his films there. What made the films of the Italian director, who does not know English, successful is the fact that he lifted cowboy films from American writers imaginations (the hero puts on a white hat and wears dirty black clothes, as in most of the movies starring the late star, John Wayne). Sergio made the hero of his films more realistic. He did not wear a white hat, but he is an ordinary man with old clothes, as Clint Eastwood appeared in all the Spaghetti Films. Sergio’s successes left a mark, because he was realistic and kept himself away from imagination and idealistic things. Our Government needs a shock the Sergio way to bring us and itself to reality, to stay away from idealistic things when talking or performing. The style of “everything under control” is not our political reality at all. Levels are not stable, although they look stable. The Government and majority are in harmony, as happened in the last grilling. The political reality is not stable and growth still did not show up. It seems that we have to wait a long while for the dawn of growth. The political reality is boiling under the cover of apparent calmness and the government should work to cool it down by fully implementing the law. We don’t want growth from you and we don’t want you to prove, by passing the grilling, that things are alright. We want you to implement the law. By doing that, the wheel of the growth will move automatically and without interference from anyone. Remove buildings in violation and stop suspected tenders. Send those stealing public money to the public prosecution department and remove them from their job. Put the right man in the right place according to his efficiency, and not according to his tribe or political group. Only then will you find that the growth plan is proceeding and will finish on time without interference from anyone. We want you to be realistic when dealing with matters, after that the sectarian sedition pot will stop boiling. We need realistic steps, not imaginary policies which will not build a hospital. It is no problem if the Government uses Sergio mentality, or Spaghetti mentality, because it is a million times better than the mentality of “Fish, Milk and Tamarind”. — Al-Anbaa

By Dr. Bader Al-Daihani


he issue of privatizing Kuwait Air ways Corporation (KAC) again resurfaced to take priority with the government, four years after passing law 6 of 2008. The new or rather the strange thing this time is the government’s intention, as the Communications minister announced that KAC will renew its fleet before its privatization! So, what happened? Is not KAC on its way to privatization? So why is the fleet being renewed at the expense of public funds? It is regretful that the reasons for privatizing KAC and its companies were not convincing, because KAC is a national carrier and has a high economic feasibility. The state is supposed to own it completely, and not be satisfied with 20 percent as item 4 of law 6/2008 states. But they will keep the Audit Bureau’s supervision away. If there is a problem with management, which is the justification for those who support its privatization and those who want to buy it, then it is possible to privatize the management while public ownership is maintained. The best example here is the Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad as well as Singapore Air. All of these airlines are high quality and totally owned by the state. As the government has decided to go ahead with privatizing KAC and its companies, despite the unconvincing reasons given to justify this step, then the basic question is: how will KAC’s assets and belongings that are spread around the world be evaluated? Described in accounting terms, who will conduct the “restructuring of assets”? Especially when the previous evaluation process was tainted with many errors and it was clear that it severely harmed public funds? After the Egyptian revolution, it was clear that most public sector companies, establishments and state property were sold at the cheapest price that did not reflect their true market value. Apart from the conflict of interest in which most senior officials are involved. The Egyptian Omar Afandi company for example, was evaluated at £1.140 billion but it was sold to the Saudi Anwal Company for only £589.5 million. It was later found that there was a conflict of interest, which made the court cancel the deal. Hastening the privatization of KAC and its companies at any price, without accurate evaluation of assets, will have very bad repercussions on either the national work force or public funds, especially as we are suffering from a very bad absence of legislation that fights corruption and prevents a conflict of interest. Our public supervision systems are also weak and unable to protect public funds, which is something we saw clearly in the administrative and financial violations that took place in Zain, which the Government owns more than 25 percent of. We also saw it in the many negative effects resulting from the privatization of gas stations. — Al-Jarida



Assembly commences probes into deposits, transfers CB officials ‘not cooperative’ By B Izzak KUWAIT: Two committees formed by the National Assembly last month to probe two major corruption scandals have commenced their work by interrogating senior government and investment officials, but said the Central Bank did not cooperate. The committee formed to probe the so-called multi-million illegal deposit scandal met late Saturday for six hours with Waleed Al-Nasef, the editor-in-chief of Al-Qabas newspaper which was the first to publish the news about the deposits. It will also meet with senior Interior Ministry and Central Bank officials to get as much information as possible about the scandal that had forced the former prime minister to resign and which allegedly implicates 12 former MPs and one current lawmaker. Head of the committee MP Mussallam Al-Barrak said the start of the investigation was not encouraging because the Central Bank officials were not cooperative. He said the committee gave them one week to provide the information demanded by the MPs and warned that the committee may deputize two MPs to visit the Central Bank to get the information. Member of the committee MP Mohanmmad AlDallal said Al-Nasef provided the committee with important and essential information about the issue. Al-Dallal said the Central Bank officials were not cooperative as they provided unclear and incomplete information and were cautioned to be cooperative in the next meetings. He said the committee also met with Interior Ministry officials and is scheduled to hold another meeting tomorrow, adding that the scope of the committee is to investigate all the former 50 MPs and the possibility of hidden information about the illegal deposits., Al-Dallal said the committee is probing the issue with the possibility of the deposits being political bribes and not only as suspected money laundering as the local banks have said. The other investigation committee regarding the foreign money transfers also

MEW staff complain of ‘unused spaces’ KUWAIT: Frustration is reportedly mounting within Ministry of Electricity and Water employees due to overcrowding in many offices in the main building, despite vacant space that could be used to end the problem. Salem Al-Othaina, former Minister, decided over a year ago to move the offices of four departments out of the headquarters building in South Surra to ease the pressure created by the number of people referring to various MEW departments every day. Since then, MEW employees were under the impression that the empty offices would be used for departments that are over-staffed, such as the accounting and financial departments. Yet, a decision in that regard is yet to be made. The Minister of Electricity and Water and State Minister of Municipality Affairs, Abdul Aziz AlIbrahim, gave orders to senior officials to implement the recommendations of periodic studies to improve the quality of performance in MEW departments. According to a source with knowledge of the issue, the step addresses a problem whereby studies that cost thousands of dinars end up ignored due to lack of execution. —Al-Rai

KOC works to cut oil field emissions KUWAIT: The Kuwait Oil Company achieved notable decrease in emission levels at oil fields in Kuwait, and is currently working to reduce that level to zero, said a senior environmental official in the government recently. Dr. Saleh Al-Mudhhi, the General Director of the Environment Public Authority, made these statements at the Sahar Resort Saturday night where a crowd of volunteers observed the Earth Hour annual event by lighting 12,000 candles from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. “Such events are important to spread environmental awareness in the Kuwaiti society”, proclaimed AlMudhhi who led a team of senior EPA officials that attended the event. Moreover, he announced that the EPA is currently working on monitoring oil facilities around Kuwait to ensure that measures are taken to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, Abrar bin Ali, leader of the Kuwait Team for Global Warming which organized the event, told reporters that their goal this year was to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Kuwait to 10% during the Earth Hour, adding that they were able to stop 250 tons of CO2 to be emitted during last year’s event.

KNPC employee assaults officer at checkpoint KUWAIT: The Ministry of Interior (MoI) expressed sorrow at the quick action by the KNPC union in issuing a press release claiming that construction security men acted harshly with an Ahmadi refinery employee. “The union should have acted patiently and should have been subjective in what they reported, as the press release they issued is not correct. All check points at oil construction sites are under camera supervision. It recorded the employee running through the check point, then driving his car, which created doubts among security men. When he was asked to show his entry permit and asked to get out of the car, he refused. He spoke filthy words to the security men and used his car keys to assault them, which made them stop him and take him to the security office. They then sent him to Fahaheel police station and filed a case of insulting an employee and assault,” an Interior Ministry statement said.

held its first meeting yesterday and heard the testimony of director general of Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) Bader Al-Saad. Head of the committee MP Faisal Al-Muslim said that the undersecretary at the prime minister office Khaled Al-Bannai did not attend the meeting although he was invited without sending an apology. Al-Muslim called on Bannai to attend the next meeting tomorrow otherwise constitutional tools will be activated. The committee was formed to probe allegations that the former prime minister Sheik h Nasser Mohammad AlAhmad Al-Sabah has transferred millions of dinars of public funds into his bank accounts overseas. In another development, MP

Mussallam Al-Barrak has warned that a request will be submitted to grill Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali “very soon” over alleged corruption and financial and administrative violations. Al-Barrak gave no date for the grilling but insisted it will be in the current month of April. Also, MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei threatened that he will grill Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah over the arrest of a Sunni activist for allegedly burning the Iranian flag. Al-Tabtabaei and other MPs and activists have called on the ministry to free Nahar Al-Hajeri but the investigation department of the interior ministry yesterday extended his detention for 21 days.

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah receiving former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad AlSabah at Seif Palace yesterday.



Officers, inmates injured in Central Jail mutiny Drunk citizen stabs wife KUWAIT: A number of police officers and inmates were injured in the Central Jail during a recent insurgency on the ward for convicted drug addicts. A special task force was called to report to the facility following a breakdown of negotiations. Jail security tried to talk a group of inmates out of their plan to stage a mutiny. Injuries were reported as a clash between angry inmates and jail security took place soon after the negotiations broke down. A number of inmates believed to be behind the mutiny were put in isolation, and an investigation was opened to find out how inmates had access to hard and sharp objects they used in the assault.

KUWAIT: Isam Al-Sager presenting a memento to Maj Saleh Hamad Al-Suhail.

NBK honors Ministry of Interior for support during walkathon KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) honored yesterday the Ministry of Interior for its continuous help and recent support during NBK’s 18th Annual Walkathon. NBK Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, Isam Al-Sager thanked Maj Saleh Hamad Al-Suhail and Major Bader Ghazi AlQattan as well as supporting officers for their help and support during the March 24 Walkathon. NBK Deputy Group CEO, Isam Al-Sager showed great gratitude towards the

Ministry of Interior as NBK greatly appreciate the support and helpful hand it has offered to NBK team. NBK supports a range of corporate social responsibility initiatives including education, health, social and sports programs. Projects include an electricity conservation awareness drive and paper recycling program as well as the annual walkathon, beach and desert camp clean up campaigns and financial support for the NBK Children’s Hospital.

Man stabs wife A drunk Kuwaiti stabbed his wife and left her bleeding in the middle of the desert. The suspect reportedly disappeared after leaving his baby with his mother-in-law. He did not mention the whereabouts of her daughter. The incident took place on Sunday at dawn when the Kuwaiti man took his wife and child to Jahra Hospital for a medical checkup. After the visit, the man reportedly drove away with his wife and baby daughter. He left behind his sister-in-law, who had accompanied her sister to the hospital. The suspect stopped at an open area close to Virginia Military Camp, dragged his wife out of the car, stabbed her six times and drove away as she bled profusely. He headed directly to his mother-in-law’s house and gave her his daughter before escaping.

The victim was rushed to Jahra Hospital in an ambulance after a passerby found her and made an emergency call. She told police what happened after her condition stabilized, saying her husband was drunk throughout the entire ordeal. A case was filed at Jahra Police Station where investigations went underway. The suspect faces kidnap and attempted murder charges. Murder threat? Police rushed to a Salmiya car sales office where a man reported being victim of a murder attempt, only to find that he was merely threatened during a verbal altercation. The Kuwaiti caller engaged in a dispute with the office owner, who refused to return a KD150 down payment for a car the man later decided not to buy. The dealer reportedly made threats during the dispute. His opponent took them seriously and called the police. The two were taken to the police station where a case was filed for further investigations. Officer attacked A Kuwaiti man was arrested on Sunday after attacking a police officer. Coastguards had just saved him from his boat, sinking several meters offshore. Coastguard officers rushed to a location near the Zoor chalets beach, where a man called for help as his boat was sinking. After he was saved, an altercation took place between the man and an officer who asked for the boat

registration. The dispute escalated into a physical assault after which the man was placed under arrest and taken in custody to face charges of attacking a police officer on duty. Dishonest employee Police are looking for an Arab man accused of stealing KD19,000 he was assigned to collect for his employer. A case was filed at Fintas police station where a representative of a fuel company reported that they lost contact with the suspect after he left to collect money from different gas stations. The suspect’s name was blacklisted and he will be caught immediately if he attempts to escape from the country. House robbery Salmiya police arrested a domestic worker who stole cash from an apartment in the area and sent it to her family back home. Police officers were approached by a doctor, who reported that KD6,000 was stolen from his apartment. He accused a part-time housemaid of committing the theft, as she was the only one who had access to his bedroom where he had kept the money. After she was summoned for investigations, the woman confessed to stealing the money, which she said she sent to her family back home. Police also discovered that the woman is without a valid residency. She remains in custody pending legal procedures. —Al-Rai, Al-Watan, Al-Qabas

Saadoun urges collective safety, security rules KAMPALA: Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun called here yesterday on the international community to adopt ever ything that could contribute to establishing world collective safety and security rules. Addressing the general meeting of the 126th conference of the InterParliamentary Union (IPU), which kicked off here earlier on Saturday, Al-Saadoun said such rules should be based on harmony among diverse religions, civilizations and cultures. He underlined the necessity of notching up the common goal of maintaining international security and peace and ensuring social justice. He voiced concern over seriously growing escalation in the Middle East region due to Israeli insistence on attacking and targeting Palestinian civil targets in Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories. Al-Saadoun regretted that all regional and international efforts had failed to put an end to the Israeli aggression on the defenseless Palestinian people. But, he wished that ongoing efforts to create national reconciliation among all Palestinian factions would be so fruitful that a national unity government would be created, as a prelude to restoring Palestinian rights and creating a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. On Syria, he condemned continuing attacks by pro-government attacks on peaceful protesters, including women and children, and accused the Syrian regime of adopting the “scorched earth policy” in the violence-hit cities and towns. Now that the world is locked in major crises and challenges, mainly armed conflicts threatening international stability and peace, there is urgent need for a sincere international will to create drastic changes in the UN system, he said. He also stressed the pivotal role by national, regional and international members of parliament in finding effective international resolutions to settle such crises and challenges. The top Kuwaiti lawmaker hoped that the conferees would come up with concrete resolutions and recommendations that would be in the interest of all countries and would fulfill their peoples’ expectations and ambitions. Good Governance only thrives in truly

democratic states whose rulers are widely backed by their citizenry, Kuwaiti MP Adel Al-Damkhi said. “We, as parliamentarians, are doing all in power and using all constitutional and legal tools to promote good governance, but we are totally aware that this goal won’t materialize without a truly democratic system that is based on free and fair elections with wide popular participation,” Al-Damkhi said in the first session of the international peace and security committee of the IPU meeting. The session on the role of good governance in promoting peace and security in the Middle East and North Africa. He added that good governance requires measures to support transparency, graft-fighting and allowing access to information and data. “Only people can determine the future of their nation based on the shared values and culture,” he said. The Kuwaiti MP, a member of the Kuwaiti delegation to the IPU meeting, harshly criticized Israeli illegal actions against Palestinians and occupied Palestinian lands, as well as the world failure to press Israel to stop these actions. Al-Damkhi also lamented the bloody repression of Syrian people by their rulers after they took to the streets to demand freedom and democracy. He pointed out that the spread of corruption, repression and poverty, as well as lack of democracy, were the main causes of the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Al-Damkhi lauded the Kuwaiti democratic life, citing the free and fair elections and separation between the executive, legislative and judiciary powers. The Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation to IPU assembly, held here from March 31April 5, is led by Speaker of the National Assembly (parliament) Ahmad AlSaadoun. The six-day meeting tackles a large array of key issues on the international levels, including the democratic transformations in the Arab world in light of the radical changes in the region in the last two years. The Kuwaiti delegation also includes, along with Al-Damkhi, MPs Ammar AlAjmi, Hamad Al-Matar, Shay’e Al-Shaye, Fallah Al-Sawwagh, Mohammad Al-Khalifa and Marzouq Al-Ghanem. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Badran, VIVA’s chief executive officer and Saud Motairan, head of retail at VIVA, with the Jahra branch team.

VIVA unveils second branch in Jahra KUWAIT: VIVA, Kuwait’s newest and most advanced mobile telecommunications service provider, yesterday officially opened its fourteenth branch, and the second branch to open in Jahra district. The new branch is located in Al-Jahra Complex and provides a full range of VIVA services including bill payments, complaints, and creating new customer contracts. The branch opening was attended by Salman Bin Abdul Aziz AlBadran, VIVA’s chief executive officer, alongside Saud Motairan, head of retail at VIVA. Commenting at the opening on

VIVA’s latest branch, Al-Badran said: “Our newest branch, which is also our second branch to open in the Jahra district, is part of our expansion strategy to ensure that all our customers get the best service available, and are served swiftly, efficiently and courteously. By opening another branch in Jahra, we are seeking to satisfy a constantly growing demand for VIVA products by our large customer base here. Each and every customer is important to us and VIVA will continue to take steps to provide customers with the best telecommunications experience in

Kuwait.” To find out more about VIVA’s other branch locations and the latest competitive promotions, products and packages, visit the VIVA website, or simply call in at your local branch. VIVA is the newest, most advanced mobile telecommunications service provider in Kuwait. Launched in December 2008, VIVA makes things possible for our customers by transforming communication, information and entertainment experiences. The company has rapidly established an unrivalled position in the market through our customer and employ-

Calls for upgrading Kuwait, GCC media sector RIYADH: Chairman and Director General of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij Al-Sabah called yesterday on the Kuwaiti and GCC media to seek to upgrade the sector and stay abreast of rapid developments and innovations in the field. Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij, who was speaking during an inspection visit to the office of KUNA in Riyadh, urged staff to pursue their effort for developing the work through establishing connections with more Saudi and GCC media organizations for sake of swapping expertise and providing clients with items that serve their interests. He affirmed necessity of diversifying news items, reports and interviews that address GCC issues, in line with KUNA policy of commitments to accuracy, credibility and

objectivity, and for sake of enriching knowledge of the Kuwaiti, Gulf and Arab clients and readers. KUNA, keen on upgrading skills of its staff, holds training and habilitation courses and organizes visits by its staff and personnel of other media establishments for expertise swap and informing these institutions about the news agency’s effort to keep track of latest technological and information innovations. Sheikh Mubarak praised efforts of the Riyadh bureau staff, namely their coverage of events and various activities, namely those related to Kuwait. He also shed light on the media role for bolstering unity among nations. The KUNA chief was briefed about the team’s works and coverage of the events in the kingdom. — KUNA

ee centric approach. VIVA’s quest is to be the mobile brand of choice for Kuwait by being transparent, engaging, energetic and fulfilling. VIVA continues to take a considerable share of the market by offering an innovative range of best value products, services and content propositions; a state of the art, nationwide network and worldclass service. VIVA offers Internet speed up to 42.2Mbps due to the implementation of the most advanced third generation (3G and HSDPA) network in Kuwait resulting in superior coverage, performance and reliability.

TEC Chess Tourney KUWAIT: The Yachts Club is set to host the first ever TEC Chess Tournament starting from April 8, 2012 with matches held Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week , a senior Touristic Enterprises Company official said in a press release yesterday. “Registration is currently open at the Yachts Club and the TEC Information Center”, the media supervisor Anwar Anwar Musa Musa said, adding that registration can also be made at the newly established Kuwait M ental Games Club which co-organizes the tournament.

KUWAIT: The National Guard’s Moral Guidance Directorate launched its 9th annual moral guidance course in which servicemen are trained in security media and journalism skills. They will learn how to become active links between the National Guard and local media and press outlets. The course was inaugurated yesterday by Brig Gen Mohammad Al-Farhan, director of the Moral Guidance Directorate.


Red Cross chief in Syria as regime pounds rebels Page 8

Romney nomination a done deal: Congress Republican Page 10

YANGON: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi addresses journalists and supporters at her National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters in Yangon yesterday. Suu Kyi hailed a “new era” for Myanmar and called for a show of political unity after her party claimed a major victory in landmark by-elections. — AFP

Myanmar on cusp of ‘new era’: Suu Kyi YANGON: Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday hailed a “new era” for Myanmar and called for a show of political unity after her party claimed victory in elections seen as a test of budding reforms. The sweeping political changes were accompanied by the quasi-civilian government’s most radical economic reform yet-an overhaul of the country’s complex currency regime to allow a managed flotation of the kyat. Suu Kyi supporters celebrated into the night after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party declared that the Nobel laureate had secured a seat in parliament for the first time in Sunday’s by-elections. The veteran activist’s election to political office, if confirmed, would mark the latest dramatic change in the country formerly known as

Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year. “This is not so much our triumph as a triumph for people who have decided that they must be involved in the political process in this country,” Suu Kyi said in a victory speech at her party headquarters in Yangon. “We hope this will be the beginning of a new era,” said the activist, who was locked up by the former junta for most of the past 22 years. Suu Kyi for her part struck a conciliatory tone towards the other political parties as she prepares to take her place in a parliament that will remain dominated by the military and its political allies. “We hope that all parties that took part in the elections will be in a position to cooperate with us in order to create a genuinely democratic atmosphere in our nation,” she said. The NLD said that it had won almost all of the seats it contested, based on its own tally. No official results have yet been announced. “We won 43 seats out of 44. We are waiting for the results for the last one, in northern Shan state,” said party spokesman Kyi Toe. As a lawmaker and opposition leader in parliament, Suu Kyi would have an unprecedented voice in the legislative process, and her party is also already looking ahead to the next general election in 2015. “Obviously they want to win the next election comprehensively and be able to set up a government in their own right,” said Trevor Wilson, a Myanmar expert at the Australian National University. Observers say the quasicivilian government that took power a year ago needs Suu Kyi to take a place in parliament to bolster the legitimacy of its political system and spur an easing of Western sanctions. As part of moves to modernise an economy left in disarray by decades of military rule and encourage more foreign investment, Myanmar yesterday moved to revamp its dysfunctional exchange rate system. The central bank set a reference rate of 818 kyat to the dollar under its new managed floating exchange rate system, bringing the official rate roughly in line with its value on the black market where it is widely traded. Previously the official government rate-which was widely ignored-was pegged at around just six kyat to the dollar. The Myanmar government has surprised even its critics over the past year with a string of reforms such as releasing hundreds of political prisoners, but ethnic conflict and alleged rights abuses remain concerns for the West. Unlike in 2010 general elections, the government allowed foreign observers and journalists to witness Sunday’s polls, which were to replace MPs who gave up their seats to join the government. In the run-up to the eagerly awaited vote, the NLD decried alleged intimidation of candidates and other irregularities, and the party also complained about some problems with ballot sheets on Sunday. The 2010 election, won by the military’s political proxies, was plagued by complaints of cheating and the exclusion of Suu Kyi, who was released from seven straight years of house arrest shortly afterwards. The NLD swept to a landslide election victory in 1990, when Suu Kyi was in detention, but the junta never recognised the result. — AFP



Iraq wants Qatar to hand over fugitive vice president BAGHDAD: Iraq’s deputy prime minister called on Qatar yesterday to hand over the nation’s fugitive Sunni vice president to face terror charges in Baghdad, in a move which is likely to further strain ties between Shiite-led Iraq and Gulf Arab states. Hussain al-Shahristani said at a news conference in Baghdad that Qatar ’s decision to host Tariq alHashemi, the top Sunni official in Iraq’s government, was “unacceptable.” “Qatar should review its position and

send al-Hashemi back to Iraq so that he stands trial,” he said. The visit marks al-Hashemi’s first foreign trip since he fled to Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region to avoid an arrest warrant issued in December. Iraqi officials accused al-Hashem of running death squads against Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces. He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated. The self-ruled Kurdish region has its

own security forces, which means alHashemi was effectively out of reach from police controlled by the central government in Baghdad. Kurdish officials have repeatedly rejected Baghdad’s requests to turn in alHashemi. The Interior Ministry last month demanded that Kurdish leaders arrest al-Hashemi before he could flee the country. The Kurds’ refusal to do so is another point of contention between Baghdad and the regional govern-

ment, who are also at odds over the north’s oil resources. Al-Shahristani blasted Kurdish leaders for ignoring the nationwide arrest warrant and letting al-Hashemi leave through Irbil airport. “ To allow alHashemi to leave in this way represents a clear challenge to the Iraqi law,” he added. Al-Hashemi’s trip to Qatar is likely to deepen tensions between Iraq’s government and the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf. Qatar has criticized what it

calls the marginalization of Iraqi Sunnis. The strained relations are also linked to Baghdad’s close ties with Iran and its ambivalent stand on Syria’s one-year conflict. The frosty relations were on display at an Arab League summit hosted by Iraq last week. The rulers of Sunni-led Gulf states including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stayed away, snubbing Iraq by sending lower-level officials in their place. — AP

Red Cross chief in Syria as regime pounds rebels Annan to brief UN Security Council

AMMAN: In this picture made available by the Italian Presidency yesterday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, center, listens to Jordan’s King Abdullah, right, upon his arrival in Amman, Jordan, yesterday, for a three-day visit.— AP

Yemen army kills 6 Qaeda suspects ADEN: Yemen’s army shelled Al-Qaeda hideouts in the southern city of Zinjibar, one of the jihadists’ major strongholds, killing six militants, a local official told AFP yesterday. The official, speaking from the nearby town of Jaar where wounded militants and dead bodies from Zinjibar are usually taken, said that “a Somali group leader named Abu Bilal” was among those killed in the late Sunday assault. Witnesses and security services said that “dozens” of Somalians have been seen fighting in the ranks of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the local branch of the jihadist network. On February 23, the commander of the African Union forces in Mogadishu, Ugandan Major General Fred Mugisha, said that large numbers of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda allied Shebab fighters-close to collapse-are fleeing the war-torn country for Yemen. The extremists in Yemen, who go under the name Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), have been locked in battles with the army in Abyan’s provincial capital Zinjibar since May 2011, when they overran the city. The Partisans of Sharia have exploited a central government weakened by a year of anti-regime protests to strengthen their position, launching deadly attacks against security forces especially in the lawless south and southeast. State news agency Saba reported that US State Department counterter-

rorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin met with Yemeni Interior Minister Abdelqader Qahtan in the capital Sanaa on Sunday. They discussed “means of strengthening and developing cooperation and security coordination between Yemen and the United States especially in terms of combatting terrorism,” Saba said. They also discussed “the form of support the United States could offer Yemeni security services in terms of combatting terrorism and organised crime.” The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the most active branch of the global terror network. In February, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a self-declared US ally in its “war on terror”, finally quit after 33 years in power handing power over to to his ex-deputy President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. But since Hadi took office vowing his government would continue to battle Al-Qaeda, the Islamists have intensified their attacks against Yemeni forces. On Sunday, the militants killed seven policemen in an attack on a checkpoint in the southeast while clashes between the army and the Islamists a day earlier left 40 dead from both sides. Last month, 185 soldiers were killed in a massive assault by AlQaeda militants on an army camp near Zinjibar. — AFP

Israel orders settlers out of Hebron house JERUSALEM: The Israeli military yesterday ordered a group of settlers to evacuate a contested house in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, less than a week after they moved into the property. “After examining all the evidence that was handed over and after considering all the circumstances of the incident, it was decided to return to the situation which existed before,” said the military order, which was sent to the lawyer representing the settlers. “In other words: The state that existed before the settlers entered the house.” The order, which gives the settlers until 1200 GMT today to evacuate the building, said the decision was based on “considerations of public order.” Last week, dozens of Israeli settlers moved into the second floor of a building, which they dubbed Beit Machpelah in an overnight operation on March 28. They said the property had been legally purchased, but relatives of the Palestinian owners, who live on the first floor, dispute the claim. Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Israeli Civil Administration which administers the West Bank, said all such purchases need official approvalwhich they did not obtain. “The purchase of a building by an Israeli from a Palestinian needs to be approved by the Civil Administration,” he told AFP. “Beit Machpelah did not

request such permits, which is illegal, and for this reason they were asked to vacate the premises by tomorrow afternoon.” A closed military zone was put in place around the house, which is near the contested religious site known as the Cave of the Patriarchs to Jews and the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims. David Wilder, spokesman for the Israeli settler community in Hebron, slammed the evacuation order as a “political decision.” “ The only reason written on the order is ‘breach of public order ’ although we have documents (proving) that the house is ours,” he told AFP. “There are people who do not want Jews in Hebron. We intend to do everything to bring about the cancellation of the order.” Hebron is the biggest Palestinian city in the West Bank, home to some 170,000 Palestinian residents, but also a core of around 600 Israeli hardcore settlers who live in the heart of the city protected by a large Israeli military presence. The Old City has become a flashpoint for confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians. In 1994, a settler from the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement gunned down 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the contested Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs site. — AFP

DAMASCUS: Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger headed to Syria on a humanitarian mission yesterday as President Bashar alAssad’s regime pressed its deadly bid to crush dissent, reportedly hitting rebels near Turkey. The International Committee of the Red Cross president was making his third visit to Syria since 2011, as monitors and activists said at least 18 more people, mostly civilians, were killed in the latest bloodshed. Kellenberger said he would meet officials including Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and examine measures for a two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, also a condition set out in a peace plan drawn up by UN-Arab envoy Kofi Annan. “I am determined to see the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent expand their presence, range and scope of activities to address the needs of vulnerable people,” he said in a statement on the two-day trip. In Istanbul on Sunday, the so-called Friends of Syria group-Arab League members and nations including the United States, France and Germany-steered clear of backing opposition appeals for arms. But the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile funded by Gulf Arab states, said it would pay the salaries of rebel fighters seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad. Annan, meanwhile, is scheduled to brief the UN Security Council later after a call from Western and Arab nations for him to seek a deadline for Damascus to implement his initiative. But Russia rejected the idea, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying “ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help matters,” as Moscow sent a warship to the Syrian port of Tartus. Assad had said he accepted Annan’s six-point plan. Besides the humanitarian ceasefire, it calls for an end to violence, an inclusive Syrian-led political process, the right to demonstrate, and the release of people detained arbitrarily. Official Syrian media belittled the Istanbul conference, with one newspaper saying the gathering of what it called the “Enemies of Syria” was a failure for those seeking to remove Assad. “Despite all the hype, the conference of the

DAMASCUS: Syrians chant slogans against President Bashar Assad upon the arrival of the Free Syrian Army in a neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. Government and opposition forces clashed across Syria as international envoy Kofi Annan prepared to brief the UN Security Council on the progress of his mission to ease the Syrian crisis. — AP ‘Enemies of Syria’ produced only meagre results... showing it was unable to shake Syrians’ rejection of foreign intervention,” said AlBaath, mouthpiece of Assad’s ruling party by the same name. Under the headline “Another Failure,” it said “the participants will eventually recognise that the resistance of the Syrians, the (government’s pledged) reforms and the double veto by Russia and China... have allowed Syria to overcome the crisis and win the battle.” The rebel Free Syrian Army accused the world of failing to protect Syrians, saying it was ignoring the Assad regime’s “massacres” by refusing to arm the insurgents. “The international community, by delaying to put pressure on the regime and preventing the arming of the rebels, assumes full responsibility for the massacres,” said FSA spokesman Colonel Kassem Saadeddine. Russia, a Soviet-era ally of the Assad regime, said only the UN Security Council, where it wields veto power, could put any time restrictions on Syria’s compliance with the Annan plan.

“The demands should be put to all sides of the barricades,” Lavrov said. “We intend to be friends with both sides in Syria,” he said in reference to Russia’s support for Assad. Meanwhile, news agency reports said a Russian guided-missile destroyer would dock at Tartus in the coming days on a planned mission to the region. The Smetlivy would take on supplies for a “purely technical” call at the Russian-leased port before planned exercises off Syria’s Mediterranean coast, officials were cited as saying. Yesterday, security forces pressed their crackdown on dissent, with 10 civilians, five rebel fighters and three soldiers among those killed in violence across Syria, monitors and activists said. Troops set ablaze houses in Deir Subol, Farkia and Hass, villages in Idlib province on Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. An explosion killed a civilian in the northern city of Aleppo, added the monitoring group. In Daraa, cradle of the upris-

ing, forces carried out arrest raids in the town of Dael, where two houses were burned and a third collapsed, said the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees activist group. In the same region, army deserters fired rocket-propelled grenades at checkpoints at Inkhel, killing two soldiers, while gunfire was heard in Tafas village. Heavy machinegun fire was heard in the Hamidiyeh and Souk al-Hashish neighbourhoods of Homs city, one of the main targets of the regime’s year-long crackdown, said the LCC. Two civilians were killed in Homs and three elsewhere in Homs province and in Qusayr. In Damascus, an explosion went off near Hotel Kinda and a police station in the central neighbourhood of Marja, injuring four people, state television and witnesses said. The UN estimates more than 9,000 people have died in the crackdown on the uprising that began in March last year, inspired by Arab Spring protests that toppled long-time dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. — AFP

Lawyers appeal sentence for Bahrain hunger striker MANAMA: Lawyers for a Bahraini human rights activist who is on hunger strike appealed his conviction on anti-state charges yesterday. Activist Abdulhadi alKhawaja is serving a life sentence for his role in last year’s uprising. He was arrested in April during a government crackdown on

protests staged by the country’s Shiite majority demanding greater rights from Sunni rulers. He was convicted by a special security court in June of participating in efforts to overthrow the ruling dynasty. The activist has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days. He has been refus-

SALMABAD: Riot police detain a Bahraini youth during clashes with anti-government protesters yesterday in Salmabad, Bahrain. Also yesterday, lawyers of a Bahraini human rights activist who is on a hunger strike and attorneys for 20 other opposition figures appealed their convictions on anti-state charges. — AP

ing food since Feb 8. Last week, Amnesty International urged Bahrain to free him because of fears he could die. Lawyer Mohammed al-Jaishi said prior yesterday’s session in Bahrain’s Court of Cassation that he would appeal al-Khawaja’s sentence and his conviction in the special security court, which was set up after the country imposed martial law last March to quell the unrest. The Court of Cassation is Bahrain’s top civilian court of appeals. The special security court, where protest-related trials were held behind closed doors with military prosecutors and judges, was abolished in November after being criticized by international investigators. Bahrain lifted martial law in June. Al-Khawaja is one of seven opposition figures who have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the tribunal. Hundreds of other Bahrainis including protesters, activists, athletes and Shiite professionals such as doctors and nurses have been tried in

the court. Dozens were jailed after being convicted of anti-state crimes, including treating injured protesters during the unrest. Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former Middle East and North Africa director of Frontline Defenders Rights organization. He has also documented human rights abuses in Bahrain for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Al-Khawaja, who is married and has four daughters, is also a citizen of Denmark, where he lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001. The Danish government has closely followed al-Khawaja’s case. Last year Denmark ’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia attended cour t hearings in Bahrain. Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal earlier this month raised the issue with his Bahraini counterpart, Khaled al-Khalifa, and asked that al-Khawaja either be released or be tried before a civilian court. — AP




Ukraine’s ex-PM allowed treatment outside jail KIEV: Ukraine yesterday allowed jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to receive medical treatment outside prison amid widening European concerns for the former pro-Western prime minister’s health. But officials said she could not travel to Germany and would have to see medics inside the ex-Soviet country-a condition rejected by the flamboyant former Orange Revolution leader and chief rival of President Viktor Yanukovych. The decision is unlikely to appease Western governments or Tymoshenko’s political supporters at home. The general prosecutor’s office said Tymoshenko could undergo observation and treat-

ment in a “specialised medical facility” selected by the Ukrainian health ministry. The ministry in turn said it would be “recommending” that she be sent to a special back pain centre in Kharkiv-the eastern Ukrainian city that also houses Tymoshenko’s female penal colony. Tymoshenko had earlier requested treatment in a German clinic. Berlin said on Saturday it was in talks with Kiev and sounded an optimistic note that its request would be met. Her high-profile case and prosecution of her other allies have already forced the European Union to delay the signing of an agreement with Kiev that would have served as a stepping stone for Ukraine’s eventual membership in

the bloc. Yanukovych has pronounced himself committed to closer relations with Europe and has said that Western calls for Tymoshenko’s immediate release were unfair. His administration issued a statement on Monday saying Yanukovych was interested in broader judicial reforms but had no intention of speaking to Germany about the release for treatment of a single inmate. He said such decisions were made by his country’s health authorities and other officials. Western doctors who examined Tymoshenko earlier this year found that she suffered debilitating pain from a slipped disk that threatened to lead to other damage if left untreated. Her supporters also claim that

Sanctions threat, rebel push pile pressure on Mali junta Paris advises French nationals to leave BAMAKO: Mali’s junta faced mounting military and diplomatic pressure yesterday as West African states mulled sanctions and Tuareg rebels extended their grip on the north after seizing the city of Timbuktu. Low-ranking officers ousted the government on March 22 on the grounds that the army was failing to quash the insurgency but the power vacuum has allowed the Tuareg to capture key towns virtually unopposed. As fabled Timbuktu fell on Sunday and the bow-

their borders to Mali and cut it off from the regional central bank. The junta on Sunday announced various compromises in a bid to stave off these sanctions which could bring the landlocked nation to its knees. Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo declared Mali’s constitution “restored” and announced the reinstatement of state institutions, promising elections in which the junta would not take part. But, the man who led a band of

DAKAR: French Minister for Foreign Affairs Alain Juppe (L) shakes hands with Johnnie Carson, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, during an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit dedicated to the recent military coup in Mali, yesterday, in Dakar. Mali’s junta faced crippling sanctions from west African neighbours yesterday over a coup which has allowed separatist Tuareg rebels to seize the country’s northern half, including fabled Timbuktu. —AFP tie shaped nation appeared split in two by the Tuareg juggernaut, time ran out for the junta on a 72-hour deadline set by its neighbours to restore democracy or face heavy sanctions. The 15-state Economic Community of West African States was due to hold a fresh summit in Dakar Monday and make a decision on whether to close

renegade soldiers who overthrew the regime barely six weeks before a presidential election, told AFP the junta was “not going anywhere”. With a disorganised junta struggling to assert its authority and former tourist hubs such as Timbuktu under the control of Islamist-backed rebels, Paris advised French nationals to leave.

“Given the instability of the security situation currently prevailing in the country, notably in Bamako, it is recommended that our compatriots whose presence is not essential temporarily leave the country,” a foreign ministry statement said. The former colonial power, which has around 5,000 nationals in Mali, has led unanimous international calls for the junta to hand power back to President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was due to step down after April polls. ECOWAS’ current chairman, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, said Sunday he was also worried that Mali was on the brink of being split in two. “We are attached to Mali’s territorial integrity. We will do what it takes to stop this rebellion and ensure Mali’s territorial integrity is restored. It is the subregion’s duty,” he said. On Sunday, Tuareg rebels who in mid-January launched a fresh offensive in their decades-old struggle for an independent homeland in Mali’s northern triangle, eased into Timbuktu, facing little or no resistance. The fabled trading hub-a United Nations world heritage site nicknamed the “pearl of the desert”-was the last major town in Mali’s north not to have fallen into rebel hands. Announcing the “end of Malian occupation”, the MNLA (Azawad National Liberation Movement) said in a statement it would ensure “order and administration”. On Sunday, witnesses told AFP they heard heavy weaponry blasting Timbuktu’s military base. “The treasury, the banks, police stations, the office of the governorate and even the hospital have been pillaged,” said the head of the local branch of a bank. The MNLA has been joined by the Islamist Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith, in Arabic) which is headed by renowned Tuareg rebel Iyad Ag Ghaly and has ties to Al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. —AP

After 30 years, Argentina still wants Falklands USHUAIA: President Cristina Fernandez’s campaign to force Britain to hand over the Falkland Islands may have reached its high point with yesterday’s 30th anniversary of Argentina’s failed occupation of the remote South Atlantic archipelago. Fernandez prepared to lead hundreds of patriotic rallies nationwide with another major speech urging Britain to concede sovereignty of the islands Latin Americans know as “Las Malvinas,” insisting on a peaceful resolution even as leftist groups prepared to confront riot police outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires. The campaign has been multifaceted, with Nobel Peace Prize winners and Argentina’s Latin American allies accusing Britain of militarizing the dispute even as Fernandez pursues what islanders consider to be economic warfare against them. A union threat to boycott of British cargo and refuse British-flagged cruises has complicated shipping, while Argentina’s refusal to allow more than one weekly flight through its air space has limited airborne commerce. The Fernandez government has urged companies to find alternatives to British imports, threatened to sue British investors and banks, and tried to block offshore oil development. The moves have made life more difficult for the islanders, but none seem to be bringing Argentina any closer to recovering the territory it claims British forces stole from them in 1833 and ran as a colony for 150 years. Britain says there is nothing to negotiate: The islands are now a self-governing British Overseas Territory and the people who have lived there for generations will determine their own fate. The islanders themselves overwhelmingly say they want to remain British. With no real progress to be made, the rhetoric has only become more intense. Feelings on both sides have hardened. Through email and social networks, Argentines accuse islanders of being “pirates” or deride them as “kelpers.” One urged a “Penguin News” editor to “move to England, or if you want to be a Martian, hop on a rocket and head toward Mars.” Another reached out to a bed-and-breakfast owner for a reservation, then wrote: “YOU GUYS STOLE THE ISLANDS FROM ARGENTINA ... you are arrogant people, greedy, criminals ... just wait. And you think you deserve to decide over the Malvinas??? You stoled from our backyard??? fff ... all you!!!” —Reuters

Tymoshenko is refused proper care from prison doctors and is forced to stay in a room with permanently switchedon lights as a form of punishment for her political views. The opposition leader’s attorney said Tymoshenko still had no trust in the local authorities and gave no indication as to whether she would accept the authorities’ offer of treatment yesterday. She has refused to be touched by Ukrainian doctors in the past. “This is not something that the health ministry should be deciding because Tymoshenko does not trust them,” her attorney Sergei Vlassenko told AFP. “It would be best if the Germany doctors could treat her”, either

in their own country or Ukraine, he said. The charismatic but divisive leader is serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted of abusing her power while serving as premier. She has refused prison care and accused Ukrainian doctors of bias and working under the orders of Yanukovych-a more Russia-friendly powerbroker who defeated her in a bitterly-fought 2010 election. Tymoshenko was detained in August and jailed in October over her decision to sign a 10-year gas deal with Russia, considered unfavourable to Ukraine. She is also being investigated in a number of other probes that she describes as personal revenge by Yanukovych. —AFP

Senegal’s new president Sall takes oath of office DAKAR: Senegal’s new president Macky Sall took the oath of office yesterday in a ceremony held one week after the country’s longtime incumbent conceded defeat only hours after polls closed. The presidential runoff vote solidified the country’s reputation as one of the few mature democracies in western Africa, where the unpopular president was ousted at the ballot box instead of a coup. Hundreds gathered in their finest clothes at a hotel in Senegal’s seaside capital for the brief, low-key ceremony. Those who were not able to enter the tent set up outdoors for the ceremony watched it on a giant TV screen under the shade of palm trees. Tour buses shuttled visiting heads of states from neighboring West African countries who planned a summit later in the day to discuss the growing political crisis in Mali, where rebels have seized towns through the country’s north. Sall, 50, emerged from a field of more than a dozen opposition candidates in the first round of voting to face 85-year-old Abdoulaye Wade in the runoff vote late last month. Sall received 65.80 percent of ballots cast, compared to just 34.20 percent for Abdoulaye Wade, the incumbent of 12 years. Yet even with that strong electoral mandate, Sall now inherits the same economic woes that exacerbated

Wade’s downfall. Many Senegalese complain that the cost of living has spiraled, with basic necessities such as fuel, rice and electricity becoming increasingly out of reach. The country of 12 million on Africa’s western coast also has been plagued by frequent power cuts and growing unemployment. Violent protests leading up to the

election this year left at least six people dead, and many feared further violence if Wade did not accept defeat. He surprised his nation and the world by gracefully conceding his loss, and calling Sall hours after polls closed to congratulate his opponent. International observers praised both the first and second round of voting as transparent. —AP

DAKAR: Macky Sall (R) walks alongside Senegalese Armed Forces Chief of Staff Abdoulaye Fall during a swearing-in ceremony yesterday, in Dakar. Macky Sall, who was sworn in as Senegal’s president yesterday, is a stolid 50-year-old geologist, once tipped as former president Abdoulaye Wade’s designated heir, who defeated his former mentor at the polls. —AFP



Mexican drug kingpin to be sentenced in US SAN DIEGO: Benjamin Arellano Felix seemed to get off easy considering he was one of the world’s most powerful drug traffickers in the 1990s. He pleaded guilty in January to crimes that would give him no more than 25 years in prison - a lighter punishment than ordered for lower-ranking members of his once-mighty, Tijuana-based cartel. Now, in an 11th-hour twist, Arellano Felix, 58, fired his attorney just before his sentencing yesterday in federal court, fueling speculation that he may be having second thoughts about his plea. He gave no explanation for wanting to change lawyers in his request to US District Judge Larry Burns two weeks ago. “It was very surprising to me,” said Anthony Colombo Jr., the fired attor-

ney who negotiated the agreement with prosecutors to cap the sentence at 25 years. “The sentencing is a proforma hearing. The heavy lifting is done.” Burns confirmed sentencing would take place Monday when he granted Arellano Felix’s request to hire Nicholas De Pento, a San Diego criminal defense attorney. De Pento did not respond to a phone message Friday. Burns, a former federal prosecutor who is also presiding over the case against Tucson shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner, is known as a stickler for staying on schedule. In the aftermath of 2007 wildfires that ravaged San Diego, he reopened his courtroom a day before every other judge in the federal building to resume the trial of Brent Wilkes, a

defense contractor who was convicted of bribing former US Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Still, Burns might be hard-pressed if Arellano Felix says he had an inadequate defense. John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor who co-wrote the 2003 indictment against Arellano Felix, predicted the judge would ask the parties to reconvene in six weeks under that scenario. “It’s ver y strange,” Kirby said. Prosecutors are seeking a 25-year sentence for racketeering and conspiracy to launder money, saying Arellano Felix led one of Mexico’s largest drug trafficking organizations for more than 15 years and oversaw the shipment of hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana to the United States. He ordered

kidnappings and killings of informants and potential witnesses, oversaw widespread corruption of Mexican law enforcement and laundered hundreds of millions of dollars to Mexico. Arellano Felix has “destroyed lives and caused untold suffering on both sides of the border,” prosecutors said in a court filing last week. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors offered to dismiss charges that could have brought 140 years in prison if he was convicted. De Pento, the new defense attorney, did not file documents to argue for what he considers a fair punishment. Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, a younger brother who led the cartel after Benjamin was arrested in Mexico in 2002, was sentenced in San Diego

to life in prison in 2007, a year after he was captured by US authorities in international waters off Mexico’s Baja California coast. Jesus Labra Aviles, a lieutenant under Benjamin Arellano Felix, was sentenced in San Diego to 40 years in prison in 2010. It is unclear why prosecutors agreed to a lighter sentence for Benjamin Arellano Felix, who was extradited from Mexico in April 2011. He is one of the highest-profile kingpins to face prosecution in the United States. His cartel, portrayed in the Steven Soderbergh film “Traffic,” slowly lost its grip after Benjamin Arellano Felix was arrested in 2002. A month earlier, his brother, Ramon, the cartel’s top enforcer, died in a shootout with Mexican authorities. — AP

Romney nomination a done deal: Congress Republican ‘He’s going to be an excellent candidate’

VILLAVICENCIO: Marleny Orjuela, right, a member of the group Colombians for Peace, embraces a relative of a soldier held hostage by rebels of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, during a mass in Villavicencio, Colombia, Sunday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, the country’s largest rebel group plans to release its last 10 police and military prisoners allegedly in two groups yesterday and today. — AP

Brazilian helicopters arrive to pick hostages VILLAVICENCIO: Two Brazilian Air Force helicopters arrived here to pick up hostages due to be released by leftist Colombian guerrillas after 12 years of jungle captivity, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. The Cougar aircraft, on loan by neighboring Brazil, Sunday flew in members of a humanitarian commission that is to meet the hostages upon their release. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has agreed to free 10 hostages held by the group yesterday and Wednesday. The humanitarian commission includes members of the International Red Cross Committee, Colombians for Peace organization and Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has been mediating the release of the hostages held by the FARC for more than 12 years. The helicopters are now expected to fly to an undisclosed location to pick up the captives. “The helicopters will take off at about 8:00 am (1300 GMT ),” Cordoba said. “I don’t know who will be freed first. But the release will occur in two stages: Monday and Wednesday.” Members of the hostages’ families have already arrived here to greet their loved ones. The Colombian military has suspended all operations in the area ahead of the anticipated release. The FARC, Latin America’s last major insurgent move-

ment, announced in February that it would release the six police officers and four soldiers it still holds and that it would end the practice of kidnapping for ransom. But the plan later stalled and was pushed back to April. The FARC reaffirmed its commitment to release the prisoners in early March. The FARC has continued, however, to clash with army forces. Last week, Colombian troops killed at least 36 suspected FARC rebels and captured four in an army offensive in the east-central department of Meta, according to officials. President Juan Manuel Santos announced the raid in a meeting of his security council in this town 110 kilometers (68 miles) south of Bogota, less than a week after troops killed more than 30 rebels in a similar operation. The Colombian president praised the “very good results” displayed by the army and said two of those arrested in the operation were women. One of those killed was a guerrilla, code-named Arcesio, who was a regional commander of the FARC, Santos said. The FARC, founded in 1964, is Latin America’s oldest guerrilla movement, and is believed to have about 9,000 fighters in mountainous and jungle areas of Colombia, according to government estimates. — AFP

Britons rescued from yacht off US coast SAN FRANCISCO: Two British sailors who were injured when a monster wave hit their racing yacht during an around-the-world race were expected yetserday afternoon to reach San Francisco Bay on the US Coast Guard cutter that rescued them. A rescue boat reached the battered yacht about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the California coast and transported the sailors to a Coast Guard cutter, Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said. The two were being treated aboard the cutter and will receive additional medical aid when the vessel reaches San Francisco Bay, said DeeDee Taft, a spokeswoman for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. The injured were Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, England, who may have suffered broken ribs, and Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London who may have suffered a pelvic strain, Taft said. The nearly 70-foot (21-meter) Geraldton Western Australia was hit by a huge wave Saturday when it was about 400 miles (643 kilometers) from a finish line in San Francisco

Bay, knocking out its steering mounting. “We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15 to 20 knots,” said Juan Coetzer, skipper of the yacht. “Then ... just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern.” The sea was so rough on Saturday that rescuers couldn’t parachute down to the yacht and rescue the injured sailors. The Coast Guard was only able to drop medical supplies until the cutter arrived to assist the crew. Thirteen people were aboard the yacht. Two others who suffered minor injuries decided to continue sailing, Taft said. Max Wilson, 62, from Queensland, Australia, had broken ribs, and Mark Burkes, 47, sustained a back injury. The crew planned to fix the yacht and continue two more legs of the race, which began in Southhampton in England and will finish there July 22 after nearly a year at sea. The Geraldton Western Australia is among 10 yachts participating in the race. — AP

WASHINGTON: US Republican front-running presidential candidate Mitt Romney is expected to carry three more primaries today as the top Republican in Congress predicted his nomination is now a done deal. The White House also signaled that it sees Romney as the likely Republican challenger to President Barack Obama in November, with Vice President Joe Biden attacking the former Massachusetts governor in a television interview. Three months into a bitterly fought race for the nomination, Romney has a strong lead and polls suggest he will win three more primaries today-in Wisconsin, Maryland and the US capital Washington. “He’s going to be an excellent candidate, and I think the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee,” Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said Sunday. “It seems to me we’re in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination.” McConnell did not explicitly endorse Romney but suggested that the party should follow the lead of former president George H.W. Bush and Congressman Paul Ryan, a leading Republican and representative for Wisconsin, who did. The Real Clear Politics website average poll had Romney, who has won 21 out of 34 nominating contests so far, leading Santorum 40 percent to 32.5 percent in Wisconsin. But unless Romney can clinch the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination he currently has 565 — he could be forced to wait until late August to get the nod at the Republican party’s convention. Santorum, who has racked up 11 victories but has less than half Romney’s number of allimportant Republican delegates, said he was determined to fight on despite efforts to anoint his rival. “Absolutely, we’re moving forward,” Santorum said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The map in May looks very, very good for usTexas and Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky. We’ve got some great states where we’re ahead in almost every poll in those states.” A fervent Catholic and strong critic of abortion and gay rights who is popular with evangelicals, the former Pennsylvania senator again urged voters to back him instead of Romney. “If you listen to folks all across the country, we’re hearing ‘stay in there, we need a conservative’,” Santorum said. Romney has begun focusing almost exclusively on his likely battle against Obama. In a campaign speech on Friday in Wisconsin, he didn’t mention his Republican rivals once, opting instead to highlight his and the Democratic president’s

“fundamentally different visions for America.” “He’s already playing the nominee, which is absolutely the right thing to do,” American University professor Allan Lichtman told AFP. “He doesn’t need to savage his opponents, he just needs to look presidential and make dis-

But Republicans’ traditional strength among men “won’t be good enough if we’re losing women by nine points or 10 points,” Sara Taylor Fagen, a Republican strategist is quoted by the newspaper as saying. In the poll, Romney leads among all men by a single

GREEN BAY: Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tours the National Railroad museum with his daughter Sarah (L), and wife Karen during a campaign stop on April 1 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Wisconsin residents will go to the polls today to vote for their choice for the Republican presidential nominee. — AFP tinctions between him and Obama,” the political historian added. But a new opinion poll made public late Sunday had bad news for Romney. The survey, by USA Today and Gallup, showed Obama had opened a nine -point lead over the Republican frontrunner in the country’s dozen top battleground states. In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 42 percent among registered voters. A month ago the president trailed Romney by two percentage points, USA Today noted. The biggest change came among women under 50, the report said. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30 percent. The president leads the former Massachusets governor 2-1 in this group, USA Today said. Romney’s main advantage is among men 50 and older, where he leads Obama 56 percent to 38 percent.

point, but the president leads among women by 18. The swing states surveyed were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Biden, meanwhile, laid into Romney, brushing off his attacks on Obama’s handling of the economy. “Governor Romney’s a little out of touch,” Biden said, arguing that the US economy had grown 24 months in a row and Americans were going back to work. “What is the Romney answer? There is nothing. All they argue is cut,” said Biden in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. Romney’s two other opponents in the Republican race -former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul-on Sunday said they were not going to quit, despite lengthening odds. “We’re not going to concede it to him,” Gingrich, who has won only two states, told CBS. Paul, who has no victories, when asked if he would continue, replied: “Obviously, yes.” — AFP

Thousands gather at Miami rally for Trayvon Martin MIAMI: Political leaders, sport stars and enter tainers were among several thousand people who gathered yesterday at a Miami rally to call for an arrest in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The rally in 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s hometown was one of the largest yet and drew basketball stars Alonzo Mourning and Isaiah Thomas, singers Chaka Khan and Betty Wright, politicians and civil rights leaders. Martin’s father, speaking briefly, promised the crowd he would not stop fighting “for my Trayvon and for your Trayvon.” “Each and ever y one of us feels the pain of this family simply because Trayvon Mar tin could have been one of all of us,” said Mourning, the former Miami Heat player. The rally came a day after thousands marched through Sanford, the central Florida town where 28-year-old George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in February. Martin was walking back from a convenience store, where he had gone to buy candy and iced tea, when he and Zimmerman got into an altercation. Zimmerman says he was attacked and has claimed

self-defense; Martin’s family disputes his version of events. They point to 911 calls, a surveillance video of Zimmerman from shortly after the fatal shooting, and other records that they say prove Martin was not the aggressor. Zimmerman has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are investigating. The case has led to protests

across the nation and spurred a debate about race and the laws of self-defense. Martin was black; Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic. Speaking at the rally Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the case was about ending all types of racial profiling - not just in criminal cases, but by banks, insurance companies and in the job market. “End profiling

MIAMI: Briona Jones and Sara Smith, right, comfort each other as thousands gathered in downtown Miami, Sunday, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin during a rally that featured national civil rights leaders. — AP

now,” the civil rights activist said to applause. Jackson also said Martin’s case illustrated the high number of black students who are suspended from school. A repor t issued by the U.S. Department of Education last month found that black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled. Martin had been suspended from school for having a baggie that contained marijuana residue shortly before he was killed. “We must stop suspending our children,” Jackson said, asking the crowd to repeat: “Invest in them. Educate them.” Many of the people who gathered at the bayside park on a sunny afternoon wore T-shirts with Martin’s image and the words “Justice for Trayvon.” Others wore buttons that said, “Do I look suspicious?” One man had a Mohawk with an image of Trayvon Martin painted on one side. A marching band from a high school that the teen attended danced, sang and beat drums. Numerous supporters came dressed in hooded sweat shirts like the one Martin was wearing when he died. Among them: Mourning’s 15-year-old son, Trey. — AP


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Pakistan clash kills up to 17: Officials PESHAWAR: Dozens of militants attacked a Pakistani paramilitary checkpoint overnight, sparking clashes that left at least three soldiers and up to 14 militants dead, officials said yesterday. The attack in part of Pakistan’s restive tribal badlands, near the Afghan border, was beaten off when troops responded with artillery and heavy weapons, according to a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC). The area is cut off to journalists and aid workers and it was not possible to confirm the death toll independently. “Militants attacked a Frontier Corps checkpost in Baizai area of Mohmand tribal region on Sunday night, which triggered a firefight, killing

three troops and 14 rebels,” local official Siddiq Ullah said. Five troops were also injured and the militants had infiltrated Pakistan from Afghanistan’s northeastern Kunar province, he said. The identity of the militants was not clear, but Afghan and Pakistani Taleban sympathisers have strongholds on both sides of the porous border. The FC spokesman confirmed the incident and casualties and said the militants had attacked the post from three different directions. Mohmand is one of seven districts in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, where Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out

strongholds used to plot attacks on Pakistani, Afghan and Western targets. The Pakistani military stepped up raids on militant hideouts in Mohmand last summer, as it faced US pressure to conduct a separate offensive against the AlQaeda-linked Haqqani network in North Waziristan, another tribal district. Washington has called the tribal belt the most dangerous place on Earth and the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda. Pakistan has been under huge American pressure to do more to destroy militant sanctuaries since US Navy SEALs found and killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of

Abbottabad on May 2. A person was killed and at least thirteen others were wounded in a bomb blast yesterday morning Pakistani tribal agency, bordering Afghanistan, said officials. A bomb exploded at a taxi and bus stand in Sadda bazaar of Kurram tribal agency. Local news channels citing tribal political administration officials said that the blast killed a taxi driver and wounded about thirteen other persons. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but locals pointed at sectarian tension in the agency. Kurram agency is known as a hub of sectarian tension between Sunni and Shia muslims. —Agencies

Security failures in Afghan shootings ‘Investigations into shootings had found lapses’

KARACHI: Pakistani policemen arrest a suspect during an operation against criminal gangs in the Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi yesterday. Local media reports unrest in the southern neighbourhood, a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, during a police swoop on alleged criminals a day earlier killing at least four people. — AFP

Pakistani boy who burned himself over uniform dies PESHAWAR: Like many in Pakistan, 13-yearold Kamran Khan’s family did not have enough money to send him to school. He was such a promising student that a local private school allowed him to attend for free, according to his older brother. Kamran never asked for anything, his brother Saleem Khan said. But last month, he pleaded with his mother for days to buy him a new school uniform, a white shalwar kameez, the loose-fitting shirt and pants worn by both men and women in Pakistan. He was embarrassed that his old one was worn out and patched up. His mother sympathized with him but repeatedly told him the family didn’t have the money. She finally lost her patience a week ago and slapped the boy, according to the brother’s account. The youth responded by threatening to kill himself if his parents could not buy him the uniform. Kamran then stormed out of the house, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire. He suffered burns on 65 percent of his body and died of his wounds on Saturday, family and officials said Sunday. He was in an army-run hospital in Punjab province, but the family could only raise one-tenth of the roughly $5,500 they needed for his treatment and so he did not get

the care he needed. His family had been struggling to get by and provide for their children, even with the school fees waved. Khan’s father borrowed money from relatives to buy a work visa to Saudi Arabia four months ago, but has not managed to find a job there, said Saleem Khan. The mother works as a maid. The teen used to wander the streets in Shabqadar, a town of 60,000 in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, looking for bits of metal scrap and other items to sell, said his brother. The family’s plight was similar to many of Pakistan’s poor, desperately hoping that education could be the ticket to climbing up from the bottom rung of society. Around 60 percent of Pakistan’s 170 million people live at the poverty level of less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank. Public school fees average only around $2 per month, but even this is often too much for poor Pakistanis with large families. About 30 percent of Pakistanis have less than two years of education, according to a report issued last year by the Pakistani government. The results are poor even for those kids who do attend school. Around 50 percent of school children aged 6-16 can’t read a sentence, said the report. —AP

KABUL: NATO’s US-led mission in Afghanistan admitted yesterday there have been failures in security procedures meant to identify potential killers of Western troops before they join Afghan security forces. Since January 1, 17 foreign troops, including seven Americans and five French trainers, have been shot dead by Afghan personnel in 10 separate attacks. The fatalities represent more than one in six of ISAF’s 96 fatalities. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is training Afghans to take over responsibility for security for the whole country by the end of 2014, said the deaths had sapped spirits among its troops. “Although the incidents are small in number we are aware of the gravity they have as an effect on morale,” ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson said in Kabul. “Every single incident has an out-of-proportion effect on morale and that goes for coalition forces as it goes for Afghan national security forces.” Recruits to the Afghan forces undergo an eightstep vetting process, including identification verification, recommendations and criminal background checks, but Jacobson said investigations into the shootings had found lapses. “What we have found in individual cases is that there was a mistake done here, or there, or there,” he told reporters. “The identity papers weren’t checked properly, the papers that were coming from village elders were not sufficient, drug tests were not taken regularly or sufficiently or something like that. “Wherever we see that we take that as measures to be taken and improved.” Asked if some of the incidents could have been prevented, he responded: “Afterwards you always know that you shouldn’t have had that car accident.” ISAF has around 130,000 soldiers fighting alongside 350,000 Afghan security personnel in a bid to help President Hamid Karzai’s government reverse a Taliban-led insurgency. Among the measures being taken, Afghanistan’s intelligence services are hiding agents among new recruits at the country’s army and police training schools to try to spot potential gunmen, NATO said. ISAF has also taken a number of security measures of its own in response to the shootings,

including assigning “guardian angels”, soldiers ordered to watch over their comrades as they sleep. The concept “makes sure that soldiers are not without protection at any stage”, said Jacobson. He dismissed repeated claims by the Taliban that they were behind the attacks. “The insurgency is claiming nearly every single incident for itself. Our findings are that in the vast majority... personal grievances are one of the major causes.” Insurgent involvement had been proved in only a few cases, he said. Instead, there were a “number of other causes including stress syndromes on soldiers who are living in a country that has been 30 years at war”. An Afghan policeman poisoned and shot dead nine of his colleagues in the eastern province of Paktika last week. As a matter of leadership Afghan commanders need to keep a close eye on their soldiers to try to spot potential problems before they happen, Jacobson added. “A soldier that has seen considerable battle stress has to be observed and a soldier who hasn’t been on leave for a long time has to be looked at

TALOGAN: German soldiers keep watch during a patrol near Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province yesterday. Germany is the third biggest supplier of troops to the 130,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after the US and Britain. — AFP

Pakistan’s Zardari to visit India ‘on April 8’

NEW DELHI: Malaysian Army Chief Datuk Zulkifli Zainal Abidin (L) talks with Indian army chief general V. K. Singh after inspecting a guard of honour in New Delhi yesterday. Abidin is on an official visit to India. — AFP

Indian PM to visit Myanmar soon NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will soon visit neighbouring Myanmar, an official in Delhi said yesterday, as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi claimed victory in landmark elections. Singh’s visit will be the first by an Indian premier in 25 years to the Southeast Asian country with which India has steadily built relations over the last decade as a counter to China’s growing regional influence. Suu Kyi suppor ters celebrated in Myanmar after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party declared that she had secured a seat in parliament in Sunday’s by-elections. The veteran activist’s election, if confirmed, would mark the latest dramatic change in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year.

A government official in Delhi, who declined to be named, confirmed Singh would visit Myanmar shortly in response to local reports that a trip was scheduled next month. He gave no further details. India’s engagement with the Myanmar junta drew international criticism, with US President Barack Obama chiding New Delhi during a visit to India in 2010 for not speaking out over human rights abuses in the country. But India, which shares its remote northeastern border with Myanmar, feels vindicated by recent signs of change. The Myanmar government has surprised even its critics over the past year with a string of reforms such as releasing hundreds of political prisoners, but ethnic conflict and alleged rights abuses remain concerns for the West. — AFP

whether it is time to give them a break.” “Somebody who has been on leave with his family in a refugee camp in Pakistan has to be looked at when he comes back, soldiers who have problems at home, financial problems.” A spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry declined to comment. The relationship between Afghan and NATO forces is vital but tensions have also mounted this year due to a series of incidents at the hands of US troops. A video emerged of US forces urinating on Taleban corpses, copies of the Quran were burnt on a major US military base and an American sergeant has been charged with 17 counts of murder over a massacre of civilians in the south. Jacobson said he was not drawing parallels between the so-called green-on-blue killings and the case of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the US soldier who has been charged over the March 11 massacre in Kandahar. Bales has been reported in the United States to have been suffering from financial problems. — AFP

ISLAMABAD:- Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will visit India on April 8 for lunch with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and for private prayers at a shrine, Islamabad announced yesterday. It will be the first visit by a Pakistani head of state to India since 2005 and comes as the nuclear-armed rivals make gradual progress towards normalising relations, dealt a major blow by the 2008 Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistanis. Zardari will make a “private visit for prayers” at the shrine of Sufi Muslim saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said. He added: “The president has also accepted the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for lunch in New Delhi en route to Ajmer Sharif”. He will return to Islamabad the same day. Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP the visit would help build normal relations between the two neighbours, which he described as vital to peace in South Asia. “President Zardari’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will contribute towards translating the president’s vision of inter-regional cooperation and harmony,” he said. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from British rule in 1947 and carried out tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998. New Delhi froze peace talks with Islamabad after the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, and which India and the United States blamed on Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba. But the slow-moving peace dialogue resumed early last year, with visits by officials. The United States has quietly encouraged the process, hoping that an easing of tensions between Pakistan and India could facilitate a settlement in Afghanistan, where both countries have been accused of fighting a proxy war. Pakistani political analyst Hasan Askari said Zardari’s visit could play a key role to play in building trust. “Informal meetings are equally important as there is no pressure during these meetings to produce results. Therefore, they can talk freely on the need to improve ties,” he said. Pakistan said in February it would phase out major restrictions on Indian imports by the end of the year in an effort to normalise trade relations. “Both sides are favourably disposed towards improving trade and economic relations,” Askari told AFP. “The major Indian interest is normalisation of trade relations towards the end of this year. Informal meetings will be supportive of that process.” Zardari’s visit comes just over a year after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accepted an invitation from Singh to watch their countries’ teams in the cricket World Cup semifinal in India in March 2010, which India won. Last month, Pakistani investigators also travelled to India to gather evidence for prosecuting seven Pakistani suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks. New Delhi says Pakistan’s attempts at prosecution have been a “facade” and insists it has already handed over enough evidence to convict the accused. — AFP

Afghan market bombs injure 24, mostly children KUNDUZ: Twin bomb blasts tore through a market in nor thern Afghanistan’s Baghlan province yesterday wounding two dozen people, just over half of them school children, officials said. “Overall we have 24 admitted to the hospital, 17 civilians, 13 of them are school students,” said Abdul Qahar Qanit, a doctor in the local hospital. He said seven security personnel, including two senior district police officials, were also among the casualties. The explosions occurred one after another, with the second coming after security forces arrived to investigate the first blast, local administration

chief Amir Gul told AFP. “There was a blast in Sher Market in Baghlan-iMarkazi. The first blast occurred and wounded some civilians, the second one followed shortly after the first one,” he said. He earlier told AFP that 18 people, five of them members of the Afghan security forces, had been injured, adding that the explosions were from improvised explosive devices rather than suicide bombers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blasts were similar to attacks carried out by the Taleban as part of their insurgency against President Hamid Karzai’s government and his Western allies. — AFP

KABUL: Afghans transport a boy injured in a bomb blast at the hospital in New Baghlan north of Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday. The governor in the northern Baghlan province says twin bomb blasts in the city of New Baghlan wounded several people, including eight police officers. Governor Abdul Majid said the bombs exploded near a market selling computer equipment. — AP



Wave of Tibet immolations among history’s biggest BEIJING: Dozens of Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the past year to protest Chinese rule, sometimes drinking kerosene to make the flames explode from within, in one of the biggest waves of political self-immolations in recent history. But the stunning protests are going largely unnoticed in the wider world - due in part to a smothering Chinese security crackdown in the region that prevents journalists from covering them. While a single fruit seller in Tunisia who lit himself on fire in December 2010 is credited with igniting the Arab Spring democracy movement, the Tibetan self-immolations have so far failed to prompt the changes the protesters demand: an end to government interference in their religion and a return of the exiled Dalai Lama. Still, experts describe self-immolations as, historically, a powerful form of protest, and the ones in Tibet might yet lead to some broader uprising or stir greater international pressure on Beijing. The Tibetan protesters have burned themselves in market places, main streets, military camps and other symbols of government authority in western China, mostly in a single remote county. Most of the protesters have been members of the Buddhist clergy. The latest were two monks, aged 21 and 22, on Friday. “In scale, this is one of the biggest waves of self-immolation in the last six decades,” said Oxford University sociologist Michael Biggs, who studies politically driven suicides.

“Particularly that it’s in one small area of China and in one small ethnic group, definitely, in terms of the intensity compared to the population, it seems to be much greater.” The pace of 32 self-immolations in little more than a year is more rapid than the suicide-by-fire protests that punctuated the Vietnam War and the pro-democracy movement in South Korea, experts say. It is surpassed only by the more than 100 students in India who burned themselves to protest a caste-based affirmative action proposal in 1990, Biggs said. Shocking to most people’s sensibilities, selfimmolation is calculated, desperate and powerful, Biggs and other experts say. Its effects can be farreaching, evoking sympathy in people unrelated to the cause and calling the like-minded to action. For Buddhists, as most Tibetans are, burning the body is seen as a selfless act of sacrifice, especially in defense of religion, and it carries a resonant history. In the 6th century, the Chinese monk, Dazhi, used a red-hot iron and a knife to burn and then peel the flesh from an arm then removed the bones and set them on fire to protest limits on the Buddhist community ordered by a Sui dynasty emperor, said James Benn, author of “Burning for the Buddha,” a book about Buddhist self-immolation. Sometimes the distinction is blurry between political protest and suicide. In Afghanistan, for example, self-immolation is a common way for

women to commit suicide. Many self-immolations have been reported in Tunisia since fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi’s act, but experts say most of them were likely suicides for personal reasons, not protests. As a modern protest tactic, fiery suicide was effectively invented by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who sat in a lotus position on a busy Saigon street in 1963, had other monks pour gasoline on him, then struck a match. Reporters had been called beforehand. The monk was protesting the South Vietnamese government’s discrimination against Buddhists and his act touched off anti-war sentiments in America and undermined support for the US-backed regime. “When someone stands up to violence in such a courageous way, a force for change is released,” Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh later wrote about Duc’s immolation in a book about nonviolent social change. “Accepting the most extreme kind of pain, he lit a fire in the hearts of people around the world.” So far, the Tibetan protesters have failed to get what they want. Each immolation has prompted authorities to heighten the security that has smothered the area since an uprising against Chinese rule in 2008. The security cordon has kept journalists out. Searches of Tibetans and Internet and mobile phone service suspensions keep the message from spreading.

Without the graphic images of a person ablaze, the immolations have yet to produce an iconic symbol the world can latch onto. Also, China’s emergence as the world’s second-largest economy and its growing diplomatic clout make it less likely that foreign governments throw any substantial weight for the Tibetan cause. “There’s a real sense that Thich Quang Duc and the Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire in Saigon in 1963 were able to change American foreign policy and therefore bring down the government in South Vietnam,” Biggs said. “But of course, there’s no leverage that anybody in the West has over China that is comparable.” The protests are unlikely to sway a Chinese population that has come to associate the tactic with the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement after five of its members set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in 2001. China used the event in which a woman and her 12-year-old daughter died - to support its claim that Falun Gong is an “evil cult” and justify a brutal crackdown. The Chinese public, in any case, has little sympathy for Tibetan appeals. Many in the Han Chinese majority adhere to the government’s position that Tibetan protesters want to split Tibet from China. Still, in the Tibetan areas, the immolations have often been followed by mass demonstrations underscoring the power the protest has in galvanizing a community.—AP

ASEAN welcomes Myanmar vote Regional summit begins today PHNOM PENH: Asian foreign ministers yesterday welcomed Myanmar’s “orderly” elections as they met ahead of a regional summit that will also be dominated by North Korea’s planned rocket launch and maritime disputes. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers held talks in Phnom Penh after historic by-elections in Myanmar appeared to give opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi her first seat in parliament.

ing, Myanmar’s Wunna Maung Lwin told his counterparts the vote had “gone rather smoothly” and should help the country normalise its international relations, Surin said. Suu Kyi hailed a “victory of the people” but warned against triumphalism after her apparent win in elections seen as a test of the regime’s reforms. Over the past 12 months Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government, led by President Thein Sein, has freed hundreds of

PHNOM PENH: ASEAN foreign ministers pose after signing documents during a ceremony on the sidelines of the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh yesterday. Asian foreign ministers yesterday welcomed Myanmar’s “orderly” elections as they met ahead of a regional summit that will also be dominated by North Korea’s planned rocket launch and maritime disputes. — AFP

Poll observers from ASEAN’s current chair Cambodia said the vote was “conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner”. “Despite complaints of irregularities and intimidation, this delegation did not observe any incidents that might have affected the process or the results of the by-elections,” they said in a statement. ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said the vote should contribute to the “reintegration of Myanmar into the global community”, a reference to the possible lifting of Western sanctions. During the foreign ministers’ meet-

political prisoners, eased media restrictions and welcomed the opposition back to the political fold. At the last ASEAN summit in November, the country was rewarded for its efforts by being promised the bloc’s chairmanship in 2014. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa welcomed the by-elections as “an opportunity for Myanmar to make the reform process even more irreversible”. Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said they were a “vindication of the global community that believed that Myanmar could pursue this democratisation track effec-

tively”. The European Union has indicated it is looking at easing sanctions imposed on Myanmar in the mid-1990s over the regime’s long history of human rights abuses, and foreign investors are lining up to do business in the country. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking to reporters in Turkey, said Sunday the elections were “heartening” but urged the government to improve transparency and deal with polling irregularities. “It is too early to know what the progress of recent months means and whether it will be sustained,” she said. Suu Kyi herself said ahead of the polls that they could not be considered genuinely democratic due to widespread problems such as intimidation of voters. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam-a grouping of nearly 600 million people of hugely disparate economic, development and political systems. Del Rosario said the ministers spoke with one voice against North Korea’s planned rocket launch, which Pyongyang describes as a bid to send a satellite into orbit but which the United States and others see as a missile test. The Philippines-which lies beneath the rocket’s proposed flight path-has lodged formal protests with Pyongyang’s representatives at the United Nations, in China and at ASEAN. “I think the countries that spoke on the topic... were all of the opinion that we should be discouraging (North Korea) from undertaking that launch,” Del Rosario said. ASEAN’s two-day summit begins today. The bloc has often been dismissed as a talking shop but it has assumed new strategic importance in light of Washington’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia and the economic rise of China in recent years. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Phnom Penh on the eve of the summit, amid tensions between Beijing and several ASEAN member states over rival territorial claims in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea. The Philippines, which has recently expanded military ties with its treaty ally the United States, has joined Vietnam in accusing China of taking an increasingly aggressive posture in recent years. But Del Rosario said a proposed Code of Conduct could be finalised this year, a decade after China and ASEAN agreed to craft a set of rules to avoid small incidents escalating into major conflicts.—AFP

Parties kept spirits high on blaze-hit cruise ship SANDAKAN: The smell of smoke spread fear on the cruise ship Azamara Quest, whose passengers put on life vests and gathered for roll call thinking of a deadly capsizing of another luxury vessel. But for most of the 48 hours it took the fire-damaged ship to lumber into a Malaysian port, they were partying more than panicking. Passengers said the hardworking crew who quickly put out an engine-room fire Friday night kept their spirits buoyant, even as they suffered without air conditioning in sweltering heat. They enjoyed barbecues on the deck and free drinks. After the ship carrying 1,000 people reached land, its passengers - including many retired vacationers from North America and Europe voiced relief yesterday that their experience hadn’t been as harrowing as what happened to other accident-hit cruise liners this year. “Everybody was joyous that they were alive,” said Diane Becker Krasnick of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. She was celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary with her husband, Mark. “It was unfortunate, but the crew was totally, utterly amazing, taking care of us, making sure we were safe, pulling double duty,” Krasnick said. “I would still highly recommend the Azamara.” The ship’s tribulations started a day after it wrapped up a port call in Manila during a 17-day Southeast Asian cruise. Flames engulfed one of its engine rooms Friday night, injuring five crew members who suffered smoke inhalation. Dorothy Wood of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said

she was having soup at a dining hall when everyone noticed smoke. “I was petrified. I had to cover my face with a napk in and go through the smoke,” the 74-year old said at a hotel in Sandakan, where the Azamara Quest docked late Sunday. “I never thought I would be afraid to die, but I was very much afraid. But I didn’t tell anyone,” she said, laughing. She praised Finnish captain Leif Karlsson and his crew, saying “there was such

a sense of family with the passengers.” Many passengers said they remained calm while donning life vests and heading to the Azamara Quest’s casino and cabaret lounge for a roll call. They were informed there had been an electrical fire, but it was immediately extinguished. Ship engineers toiled throughout the next day, restoring electricity, running water and plumbing within hours before finally re-establishing propulsion Saturday night.—AP

SANDAKAN: A man stands on the deck under a lifeboat on the stricken cruise ship Azamara Quest as it sits tied up at the port in Sandakan, Malaysia, yesterday. The Azamara Quest was stranded off the southern Philippines with 1,000 people aboard after flames engulfed one of its engine rooms Friday, injuring five crew members. — AP

NADI: Floodwaters inundate the tourist town of Nadi on the island of Viti Levu yesterday as Fiji braced for gale force winds which were expected to intensify into a tropical cyclone. A state of emergency was declared in the South Pacific nation as flash floods claimed at least three lives and forced 8,000 people to seek refuge in evacuation centres. — AFP

Flood-ravaged Fiji struggles as cyclone bears down NADI: Fiji struggled yesterday with devastating floods that have brought the country and its tourist industry to a standstill as authorities warned that conditions could worsen with a cyclone bearing down. Cyclone Daphne is expected to compound the damage in the South Pacific nation, where a state of emergency is in force and flash floods have claimed at least three lives and forced 8,000 people to seek refuge in evacuation centres. Fiji has “had a bashing”, permanent secretary of information Sharon Smith Johns said, with water and power supplies cut in most areas, many roads closed and food supplies dwindling. Thousands of tourists staying in Fiji’s popular resorts were forced to contend with limited services as they waited for flood waters to recede enough to get to the airport, where they faced chaotic scenes. “The information we’ve been given has been terrible. They say flights are on but you turn up and they’ve been cancelled,” said Dorothy May Pechalaiya, whose flight back to London was delayed from Sunday until at least today. “I had to sleep on a bench (at the airport) last night and I’m going to have to do it again tonight, and I’m disabled,” she added, pointing to her walking stick. “I’m really angry about the way we’ve been treated.” Davendra Singh said he had been forced to close his car rental business at Nadi airport, about two hours 30 minutes drive from Fiji’s capital Suva, as he did not want vehicles wrecked in the dangerous driving conditions. “This was supposed to be a busy week because we’ve got Easter coming up, lots of group bookings and tours. We’ve cancelled all that and have to see what happens with the cyclone now.” The Fiji Meteorological Service warned of an approaching cyclone and said more flood-

ing on the main island of Viti Levu, where both Suva and Nadi are located, was expected. It forecast “damaging gale-force winds” with gusts up to 110 kilometres (68 miles) per hour and “severe flooding of major rivers, streams and low-lying areas including sea flooding of low-lying coastal areas”. A government spokesman said the situation was worse than January floods in which 11 people died, with twice as much rainwater falling in half as much time. However, late yesterday the government lifted its embargo on airlines carrying people into the country, the national carrier Air Pacific advised. A number of empty planes have already flown in to ferry tourists out. “This is very bad for Fiji, it will take a long time to fix up and get the tourists back,” said Nadi taxi driver Mohammad Yakub. He said his family was surviving on tinned food as all the crops in his small plot of land had been destroyed and his local market was unlikely to reopen for weeks. Although Fiji has not called for international assistance, Australia and New Zealand said they were ready to help. The regional powers have had a fractured relationship with Fiji since naval officer Voreque Bainimarama seized control in a 2006 military coup. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said they would work with non-government agencies rather than Bainimarama’s regime. “Typically what we’ve done in the past is give the resources to a non-government organisation on the ground we trust, say the Red Cross, rather than give it to the government to administer,” he told Radio Live. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Canberra was ready to provide up to Aus$1 million (US$1.04 million) to support disaster relief efforts while Qantas promised to put on extra services to help

‘Dead’ Australian fights for life in hospital MELBOURNE: An investigation was under way yesterday after a man declared dead by Australian paramedics following a car crash was found to be alive around an hour later. The driver was trapped upside down in the wreckage of a Porsche in a Melbourne suburb and was pronounced dead after being treated at the scene. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said after ambulances left the man remained in the car for up to an hour as police began their investigations. It was only when State Emergency Service volunteers finally began the process of removing what they thought was a corpse that they discovered a “feeble pulse”.

An ambulance was rushed back to the crash site and the 30-year-old was taken to hospital in a critical condition. Ambulance Victoria said it was investigating the bungle with the two paramedics involved traumatised by their mistake. “These are two very experienced paramedics but obviously this has been an error and we will work with them through that,” said spokesman Simon Thomson. He added that the driver had horrific facial injuries and paramedics were confronted with a challenging scene but would not comment on whether their error compromised his survival chances. — AFP



Green shoots grow out of a metal surface in Bottrop, Germany on a spring day yesterday. — AP

Bitcoin, the city traders’ anarchic new toy LONDON: Financial traders have a new toy: Bitcoin, a digital currency variously dismissed as a Ponzi scheme or lauded as the greatest invention since the Internet. Unlike conventional fiat money and other digital currencies, Bitcoin runs through a peer-to-peer network, independent of central control. Bitcoins are currently worth $4.88 each on online currency exchanges, where they can be bought and sold for about 15 world currencies. Users - an odd assortment of uber-geeks, anarchists, libertarians, scammers and forex traders - sent about $4.3 million worth to each other in the last 24 hours. Banking and payment expert Simon Lelieveldt believes they are living on borrowed time. “There is always a power base underlying a currency,” he said, speaking at the Digital Money Forum in London in March. “Bitcoin is not going to fly because there is no central bank or power base. It’s doomed to fail.” But its separation from power is precisely what attracts many users. “Bitcoin is not run by people with hot sexual appetites for hotel maids. It is not run by corporations. It is not governed by people with budgets to meet. It is governed by a mathematical formula,” one trader and Bitcoin enthusiast told Reuters over a pint of Guinness in London’s financial district. He also likes that there is an absolute limit of 21 million Bitcoins built into the system. “If you try to print more than 21 million Bitcoins, you will be rejected by cold, loveless computers whirring away in nerds’ garages. It is a better form of money than we have right now, or than anyone has designed so far.” The trader, who was

not willing to be named, said he spent four hours a day on Bitcoin, describing it as his second job. He estimated 90 percent of traders have bought it, most “looking for a quick 2,000 percent”. He, however, is playing the long game, accumulating as much as possible in the belief that one day, he will own a small but significant percentage of a world currency with a fixed supply. He and three other traders are currently seeking Bitcoin startups to invest in, he said, adding he was hoping to put in $300,000 worth. He is not alone. Workers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in London and New York have been visiting online Bitcoin exchanges as often as 30 times a day, according to documents seen by Reuters. Neither bank wanted to comment. Employees at almost all the major international banks and numerous trading and investment firms have shown interest. Bitcoin has become the Wild West of finance, with a proliferation of websites offering loosely regulated replicas of the services familiar to those in the financial industry. There is a Bitcoin stock exchange, where companies can make initial public offerings and pay dividends in Bitcoin. One website offering Bitcoin options trading was ‘listed’ this month for an implied valuation of half a million dollars. Perhaps the most notorious is Bitcoinica, a platform offering margin trading, short selling and stop orders run by 17-year-old Chinese high school student Zhou Tong. Users can leverage their bets up to a ratio of 10:1 on Bitcoinica, meaning they can lose more than their initial investment. Zhou Tong, who is professionally

advised by a forex trader and the head of a Singapore-based algorithmic trading firm, now lends his name to international slang. To be “Zhou Tonged” is to be wiped out financially. The chorus of a YouTube rap laments a Bitcoin day trader rash enough to hold a position with no stop loss protection: “It’s so silly, how come you just lost funds? You got Zhou Tonged!” Its popularity with financial professionals highlights an irony at the heart of the Bitcoin usership; suspicion of the banking system is written into the program’s DNA. It was released in January 2009 by a developer using the probable pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Embedded in the code of its first block of transaction history are the words ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks’. This was a way of time-stamping the first Bitcoin transaction, but also a clue to the developer’s motivation. Before disappearing as an online presence in January 2010, Nakamoto made clear his disapproval of quantitative easing measures and blamed banks for creating credit bubbles. Such sentiments are common among users. “There are no bailouts of banks on Bitcoin,” one put it. The Greek owner of an island bar and restaurant who accepts payment in Bitcoin alongside euros told Reuters he liked the currency because it was the opposite of a banking system. “I don’t put money in the banks,” said Gerald, who did not give his surname. “I trust the euro as a note, but I don’t trust banks. I don’t want them making money out of my earnings.” Digital money consultant Jon Matonis, former head forex trader at Visa, said Bitcoin was a natural fit for societies

Working women? Not in Mideast Continued from Page 1 The gender gap represents a huge loss for the Arab world because it deprives the region’s economy of the labor and skills of half the population. It is also a political problem as the double-digit unemployment for young men and women that is the norm in the Arab world has been cited by analysts as a factor in the Arab Spring unrest. Overall, the female labor force participation rates at 25 percent of the population of working-age women are about half the world average and the lowest among other regions, according to the World Bank. The Gallup survey cites several factor holding back women in the job market. Women in the Arab world have fewer resources like legally mandated maternity leave and easy access to daycare that would enable them to juggle household and work responsibilities. Laws on sex discrimination are poorly enforced. They also face a glass wall because unemployment is high all across the Arab world labor market. The economies of the Middle East and North Africa, even when they were growing quickly, failed to provide enough jobs for men or women. The International Labor Organization (ILO) says the Middle East and North Africa are the only two regions of the world where unemployment is estimated to exceed 10 percent. Among young people, the rate is more than 26 percent. The ratio of female to male unemployment rates in most regions exceeds 1.0, but in the Middle East and North Africa the regional ratio was as high as 2.3 in 2011, it estimates. The job gender gap and its causes vary around the region. Among the highest-income countries the difference between men and women is the widest, with just 28 percent of the young women employed, compared with 81 percent of the men. In the poorest countries, the differential narrows to 36 percent to 81 percent. But the education gap, ironically, disappears in the region’s richest countries. More women in the age group (80 percent) have a secondary or better education than men (79 percent). While their prospects for entering the workforce are high-

er in middle-income and low-income economies, women are less likely to have advanced education credentials. In middle income economies, just 54 percent have more than nine years of education (versus 6 percent for men) and in low-income economies just 33 percent have it (versus 48 percent for men). The survey was based on face-to-face interviews with 7,670 young adults conducted in the spring and fall of 2011. Arab women in Israel have lower labor force participation rates than almost anywhere elsewhere in the Arab world. Yossi Tamir, executive director of the Tevet Employment Initiative, says has to do with the lack of jobs in agriculture, which in Israel comprises only a tiny part of the economy. Lack of public transportation and social attitudes create barriers to finding jobs in other sectors. “It’s really a severe problem,” he told The Media Line. “They have the ability [to work] and an increasing number have higher education, so they can be moved into the labor force.” The ILO report published in January pointed to North Africa as the home of the world’s worst unemployment rates for young people. Overall, the rate stood at 27.1 percent and for young women at 41 percent. “The situation for young women is particularly worrisome, given that there are only very few who are actually either working or looking for work,” the ILO commented, noting that the female youth labor force participation rates in North Africa was as low as 8.9 percent in 2010. Tara Vishwanath, an economist for the World Bank, worries that whatever progress women have made in recent year is being jeopardized by the Arab Spring. On the one hand, financially hard-pressed governments, whose sprawling bureaucracies have long been a source of jobs for women graduates, are no longer able to hire. On the other hand, the growing power Islamist movements threaten to roll back hiring women. “Throughout the region, there is a concern that efforts to advance women’s rights may be halted, and even reversed, as new governments come to power,” Vishwanath wrote in a blog posting March 9. — Media Line

Russia plane crash kills 31 in oil town Continued from Page 1 may simply not have been de-iced properly prior to take-off by the airport crew. UTair itself gave no immediate reason for the crash. But it reported that pilots of a much larger Boeing 747 had to put on their emergency breaks and abort an attempt to take off from the same airport just a few hours later after discovering a serious problem with the jumbo jet. “The Boeing 747 commander had to slow on the runway after reporting that the plane was not set to its standard configuration,” Inter fax quoted the local Investigative Committee as saying. Passengers on the Boeing were later put on another UTair flight. Emergency and rescue workers who rushed to the crash site found the ATR-72 ablaze and the craft itself broken up into multiple charred pieces that bore few signs of life. The city of Tyumen lies 1,700 km east of Moscow and is the

capital of one of Russia’s biggest oil producing regions of the same name. The plane was flying to Surgut - the heart of the Surgutneftegaz energy company and one of Russia’s largest oil and natural gas producers. Interfax said one of the company’s board members and several of its employees were on board the flight. Investigators were still identifying the survivors. Russia’s once-proud aviation industry remains blighted by repeated accidents involving its ageing and poorly looked-after fleet. President-elect Vladimir Putin has already ordered Russia’s older planes to be taken out of service by the end of the year and for pilots and smaller air carriers to be subject to strict tests and regulations. The crash marks the first disaster Putin will have to deal with following his March 4 reelection and underscores the difficulties Russia has faced in updating its Soviet-era infrastructure. — AFP

that prefer cash payments. “Try tell the Italians that they can’t use cash any more. Try tell the Greeks!” he said. Bitcoin payments are difficult to trace back to a person’s identity, offering an anonymity that protects users from data-mining by advertising companies, but also facilitates illicit trade and has obvious potential for money launderers. The currency gained notoriety alongside a website named Silk Road, where vendors offer to send heroin, LSD, or 9mm Beretta handguns in the post in exchange for Bitcoin. Yet there are signs Bitcoin is finding a niche among ordinary people for everyday, legitimate transactions. One British businessman in China said he regularly used it to deal with businesses in Asia, Europe and the Americas because of local restrictions on sending currency to foreign companies. “I’ve been able to have cash in my bank account in a matter of hours using Bitcoin, rather than three days with traditional banking,” he said. Quietly, a growing list of businesses are starting to accept it for a wide range of goods, from legal services to food. Matonis says it could be a perfect ‘digital poker chip’ for online gambling and a competitive way for immigrants to send money back home. Bitcoin poses a puzzle for regulators. It does not fit the UK Financial Services Authority’s definition of e-money as it is not issued on the receipt of funds, according to an FSA response to a Bitcoin business that requested to be regulated in the UK. But the creation of Bitcoin could amount to “issuing payment instruments” as long as Bitcoins in fact count as money, which is “if and when they become widely used”, the FSA con-

cluded. A spokeswoman for the German Bundesbank told Reuters it was not classifying Bitcoins as e-currency. She said EU law required only euros to be accepted as legal tender, but this was superseded by German law that allows those involved in a contract to determine its content. So Bitcoin is at least not illegal there. The situation in the United States is even more complex, where financial regulation differs from state to state. As Bitcoin is a huge distributed peer-to-peer system, any effort to enforce regulation would be difficult, though the exchanges, where Bitcoin is swapped for real-world currency, are potentially vulnerable. A legal precedent could come from France, where the biggest online exchange, Mt Gox, is in dispute with Credit Mutuel’s Credit Industriel et Commercial. Mt Gox sued CIC afterthe bank closed its account. CIC said the company was illegally behaving as a financial intermediary and that using their account made the bank an accomplice, according to court documents. The court told the bank to reopen the account and compensate Mt Gox, but it was unable to determine whether Bitcoin is a virtual currency under French law and thus subject to relevant regulation. It has referred the question to another court. “If exchanges which are trying to walk the path of legality are being closed, then less lawfriendly exchanges will thrive,” commented Mt Gox head Mark Karpeles. “This won’t stop Bitcoin. It may just kill any chance Bitcoin has to become a clean way of paying merchants, friends and family.” Credit Mutuel declined to comment on the ongoing case. — Reuters

Court convicts Laden widows Continued from Page 1 “I think it will be completed probably in two weeks,” he added. He said the accused were “all in good health” and said they had all spoken during yesterday’s proceedings. Zakarya Ahmad Abd Al-Fattah, the Yemeni brother of bin Laden’s youngest and reputedly favourite wife, Amal, said the judge also imposed a fine of 10,000 rupees ($110) each, which he said had already been paid. “The court has also given direction to the government to arrange the necessary documents for their earliest repatriation, so that they can go to their own country as soon as possible,” he told reporters. Amal was overjoyed to finally be heading home, said her brother, who has been campaigning for her release. Yemen has issued her five children passports so they can return with her, he said. “This verdict is a victory for the oppressed after a tough time,” he said. Bin Laden’s two other wives have been identified as Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar. The three women have an undisclosed number of children among them, but only those above 12 were charged. Under Pakistani law, they faced a maximum sentence of five years. The three widows would like to be deported to the same country to “stay as one family,” their lawyer said. A Yemeni Foreign Ministry official said the country has not received a request to grant the Saudi widows residency. According to a police report, bin Laden hid in

Pakistan for 10 years after the 9/11 attacks and fathered four of his children in the country. The account given to interrogators by his wife Amal sheds new light on the AlQaeda leader’s life from when he fled Afghanistan in late 2001 until his death aged 54 last May. Amal, 30, was shot while trying to protect her husband, according to the United States and her brother, visiting from Yemen, who has raised concerns about her health and that of her children while in Pakistani custody. She said that after 9/11, they scattered and she came to Karachi with one of her daughters, Safia, her first child who was born in Afghanistan. She stayed in Karachi for eight to nine months, moving between homes arranged for them by Pakistani families and bin Laden’s eldest son Saad. Amal then met back with bin Laden in Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan. They stayed for eight or nine months in Swat, then for two years in Haripur, 90 minutes from Islamabad, before moving to Abbottabad in 2005. During this time, Abdulfattah had four other children by bin Laden, two of them born in a public hospital. A member of the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said they had talked to Saudi officials, who indicated they would be willing to allow the widows to return and grant their children citizenship if requested. But the family, which is prominent and wealthy, has not decided whether to intervene on the women’s behalf, he said. The Saudi foreign ministry declined to comment. — Agencies

Assembly probe panel meets former... Continued from Page 1 violations by the detectives’ force, head of the panel MP Salem Al-Namlan said. The committee is scheduled to meet Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud AlSabah to complete the investigation on the same issue. Moves to grill the interior minister by a number of the “majority” MPs was gaining momentum yesterday as MP Mislem said the Islamist Development and Reform Bloc was due to meet late yesterday to discuss the proposed grilling. MPs are upset over the behaviour of the interior ministry over the arrest of activist Nahar Al-Hajeri for allegedly burning the Iranian flag at a rally last week. Hajeri was arrested on Thursday and on Sunday his detention was extended for 21 days pending investigation and trial. If the majority alliance agrees to support the grilling, it could lead to voting him out of office. Activists and supporters of Hajeri were due to stage a rally outside the headquarters of the State Security Department in South Surra over the arrest of the activist. MP Khaled Al-Hajeri meanwhile called for

speeding up the approval of amendments to the law that would considerably reduce the duration of preventive detention from 21 to just seven days. Meanwhile, liberal MP Mohammad Al-Sager yesterday proposed amendments to the constitutional court law, that if approved would allow nongovernmental societies to submit petitions directly before the court. Under the law, only the government, the National Assembly or other courts can file or refer cases to the constitutional court. The amendments submitted by Sager state that NGOs should be allowed to submit petitions to the constitutional court against laws seen as breaching the constitution. Also, Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei yesterday criticized statements by Sheikha Fareeha Al-Ahmad AlSabah, a senior member of the ruling family, that she would continue to fight until Armenian Christians are allowed to build a church in Kuwait. Tabatabaei said that during the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenian forces ransacked several mosques and accordingly, they should not be rewarded for such a crime.





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‘Friends of Syria’ hit brakes to avoid conflict By Rita Daou unday’s “Friends of Syria” conference sidestepped solid measures against the Damascus regime for fear of getting sucked into a conflict that could defy control, analysts and experts said. Although most countries are committed to a political transition that puts President Bashar AlAssad out of power, they are concerned with the military venture they might have to risk for that, observers suggested. “Europeans do not have the means and willingness to get involved in a new conflict after what happened in Libya,” said Agnes Levallois, a Middle East expert based in Paris. “Everybody is afraid of getting stuck in the conflict.” Sunday’s conference boasted dramatic words and open challenges from top world officials against Damascus, but the results were limited with “not much” coming out of the final statement, Levallois commented. Representatives from around 83 countries gathered in Istanbul Sunday to try to thrash out a new way to make Damascus halt its repression of dissent that has claimed close to 10,000 lives in Syria, according to estimates. But the statement that emerged from the meeting did not go as far as supplying arms to rebels, or recognising the Syrian National Council - also represented at the conference - as the only voice of the Syrian opposition. The text lent strong backing to international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for an immediate ceasefire and called for a timeline to be set for its implementation, but failed to suggest a deadline. The lack of enthusiasm for giving arms to the opposition despite its strong demand reflects the absence of faith in the SNC’s capacity to represent everybody, an analyst from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told AFP. “There are still a lot of divisions within the SNC and everybody wants arms,” Andrew Tabler said of the main opposition group, which won recognition as “a legitimate representative” from Sunday’s conference. “Countries are cautious as they realise that giving arms (to rebels) could end up inflaming the situation,” he warned. Syria has all the sectarian and religious variety of the volatile Middle East, and unity under one umbrella proves elusive. Similarly, the countries of the so-called Friends group have their own agendas to worry about, and rivalries in the same region to watch out for, another expert suggested. “Some want to help bring democracy to Syria, others who are part of the cold war between Iran and the alliance of Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to prevail in regional conflicts,” Oraib Al-Rantawi of the Ammanbased Al Quds Center for Political Studies noted. “What happened yesterday was a compromise between the two,” he said of the conference that gave leverage and funds to the Syrian opposition, but stopped short of calling on Assad to step down. Meanwhile in Damascus, the meeting was deemed a failure for the “Enemies of Syria”, as AlBaath newspaper, considered Assad’s mouthpiece, said the group produced only meagre results. Russia also rejected the Annan plan deadline called for by the conference, after it refused to attend the gathering along with China. Although the death toll might increase and violence drag on, military intervention in Syria does not seem likely in 2012, with elections in France and the United States, and the eurozone crisis raging in Europe, Rantawi predicted. US President Barack Obama “built his electoral campaign on withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, he can’t announce a third crisis to Americans now,” he added. But despite overriding priorities, the “Friends of Syria” are still committed to bringing Assad down, according to Paul Salem of the Beirut-based Carnegie Center for the Middle East. He noted that many, including Turks and Americans, voiced stronger opinions in Istanbul than they did in Tunis in the first conference late February. “The West and the public opinion in Western countries are not ready now for a military option,” he said. “But the option is not dead, it is still very much on the table.” — AFP


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As MP, Suu Kyi faces more humdrum role By Didier Lauras he newly elected Aung San Suu Kyi now faces a huge weight of expectations, but analysts say the inspirational dissident may have to temper her grand political goals and deal with bread-and-butter issues. After decades in the political wilderness, the Nobel laureate finds herself in the position of being coopted to legitimise the reform agenda and political system of the new military-backed government. The veteran activist will have to sit down with her former foes to find ways to help farmers, promote investment and develop a country struggling to emerge from five decades of economic mismanagement under the military. “Whether a minister in charge of a portfolio or a frustrated backbencher, her room for political manoeuvring is smaller than as an unattached opponent,” said Hong Kong University assistant professor Renaud Egreteau. Even if Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party wins all 44 seats it contested, it cannot challenge the huge legislative majority enjoyed by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). In addition, one-quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for unelected military officials. But for the first time after Sunday’s by-elections, the NLD leader will have a voice in the legislature, where lawmakers have for the past year been debating topics ranging from the national budget to healthcare and Chinese energy projects. Myanmar expert Aung Naing Oo said Suu Kyi would have to be pragmatic and buckle down to tackling everyday issues rather than the grander themes of democracy and constitutional change she championed in her campaign speeches. “The current USDP parliament is quite energetic. They have done an amazing job in the past year but their agenda is day-to-day, much more bread-and-butter issues that are the concern of the general population,” said the analyst at the Vahu Development Institute, a think-tank in Thailand. “Aung San Suu Kyi has to talk rhetoric during the election campaign but what she has said are not quite the day-today issues. The most important issue in our country is


the economy and Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t have economic credentials,” he added. One big question remains whether Suu Kyi could take on some kind of government role. In January, presidential adviser Nay Zin Latt told AFP there was “a possibility she will be appointed to the government”. But no other officials have since raised that possibility and Suu Kyi Friday said she had no plans to accept a position as minister if offered, because by law she would have to give up her seat in parliament. She indicated, however, that she might be willing to take on some kind of other role, possibly to help resolve the country’s ethnic conflicts. Whatever she chooses, it is a long way from 2002-2003 when Suu Kyi, in between periods of house arrest, favoured a more confrontational approach towards the junta, notably defying orders not to travel around the country. Aung Naing Oo said Suu Kyi would bring prestige and influence to whichever role she chose but her unyielding character could be an issue. “She also brings her personality and her determination to the table. It would be like a double-edged sword for some of the people. She also can be problematic, so the key issue here is how well she can push her way in these uncharted waters either in parliament or in government,” he said. Some have in the past criticised Suu Kyi for what they saw as an intransigent approach to the junta, saying it resulted in a deadlock between the two sides. But Senior General Than Shwe, the junta chief who regarded her as his personal enemy, stepped down a year ago and the new generation of leaders is better disposed towards her. Experts say the 66year-old opposition leader must now look beyond her own legacy. “No democracy can really build around one person,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “Now there has to be a shift to broaden the

focus not just to be on her but her supporters, her new lieutenants, her party and other democratic institutions in Myanmar, including the ruling party, the incumbent regime.”— AFP

Santorum faces brutal April, slim May hope By Sam Youngman or Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, it is shaping up to be a cold and lonely spring. Trailing Mitt Romney in the polls, the conservative former senator is pinning his slim hopes on surviving difficult primary votes in April that favor his rival, and then trying to recover in May when the calendar looks better for him. “ There were lots of times throughout the course of this campaign where, as I’ve said before, we were running a marathon breathing through a swizzle stick. And that may be the case again going through the month of April,” Santorum told Reuters in an interview on Saturday. If Santorum can survive until May, he has a fair chance of winning states where his appeal to evangelical voters goes down well, such as North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and perhaps Texas, with its large haul of 155 delegates. “Major states have not been heard from. And we think we can do well in a lot of those states particularly in May,” he said. All the same, Santorum has a mountain to climb to accumulate the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination. Romney has an estimated 565 delegates, according to the Real Clear Politics website, followed by Santorum with 256. Calls for Santorum to quit the race will increase, especially if he fails to win today’s Wisconsin primary, but he is likely to stay in until at least the vote in his home state of Pennsylvania on April 24. “The amount of people that will call for him to step aside will grow over the next few weeks,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. “As the party tries to unite around Romney, he’ll become more unpopular.” Romney leads opinion polls in Wisconsin and is using his huge financial advantage to launch attacks against


Santorum. Automatic “robocalls” to Wisconsin voters paid for by the Romney campaign paint Santorum as a supporter of big spending and labor unions during his time in the Senate. Way behind Romney in the money stakes, Santorum’s campaign cannot compete directly with the robocalls. He is betting on a cheaper, more personal approach, with campaign workers making one call at a time. “I don’t know how many people have come up to me and said they’ve gotten five, six, ten robocalls. You know we’re making volunteer calls. We’ve got real people on the phone asking people to vote for us. And I think that ’s much more effec tive,” Santorum told Reuters. On Sunday, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson followed the lead of the state’s most popular Republican, Congressman Paul R yan, in endorsing Romney. Santorum, who said on Saturday he would not be “unrealistic” if it became clear that he cannot win the nomination, may put up one final stand in Pennsylvania, even though he lost his Senate seat there by 18 points in 2006. “I think Santorum feels he has nothing to lose, and he really doesn’t,” said Bonjean. “So why not try to carry this on for another month to Pennsylvania and see how well he can do there? These losses he’s racking up don’t seem to matter to him. What else is he going to do?” Pennsylvania is a large, moderately expensive state of the type where Romney does well once his campaign and “Restore Our Future” Super PAC group weigh in with TV ads. Santorum is aware he has an uphill fight there and said moderate Republicans in the state will be working against him. “They’re very active in the Romney campaign and ... would like nothing better than to change the face again of the Republican Par ty in Pennsylvania and I think they’re seeing this as a way to do that,” he said. — Reuters


sp orts Another football fan shot dead in Brazil

Hirvonen loses Portugal win PORTUGAL: Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen has been stripped of victory in the Rally of Portugal, as well as the lead in the world championship, after the Finn’s car failed post-event scrutineering. The decision late on Sunday night meant French team mate and eight times world champion Sebastien Loeb stayed top of the standings despite failing to score a point. Norwegian Mads Ostberg was handed the victory, his first, with Russian Evgeny Novikov in second place and Norway’s former champion Petter Solberg completing a podium sweep for Ford despite crashing out on Friday. The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said a report from the technical delegate stated that the clutch did not conform to the rules. “ The stewards therefore excluded car number two from the event classification.” The turbo turbine also appeared not to conform, but a decision on this was suspended. —Reuters

SAO PAULO: A football fan was killed in a weekend fight between rival groups in central Brazil, the fourth fatality resulting from fan violence in less than a month. Authorities on Sunday said 23-yearold Diego Rodrigo Costa de Jesus died after being shot in the back during a confrontation between supporters from Goias and Vila Nova in the central city of Goiania on Saturday. Two Palmeiras fans were killed last week in a fight at Sao Paulo, and a Guarani supporter died about two weeks ago about 100 kilometers away. A series of incidents related to fan fighting at the beginning of 2012 had already raised concerns with Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup. Fan violence had appeared to be mostly under control in the past few years but the recent surge has authorities scrambling to find solutions for the change. Police in Rio detained 60 Botafogo fans who reportedly were waiting for buses carrying rival Fluminense fans near the Engenhao stadium, where the teams played on Sunday. The group, including about 10 minors, were carrying rocks and pieces of wood, according to police. The fan group was not allowed to enter the Engenhao. — AP

Robben to extend deal BERLIN: Bayern Munich’s Dutch star Arjen Robben is set to sign a contract extension to keep him in Bavaria until 2015, according to a report in the German daily Bild yesterday. The 28-year-old, who signed from Real Madrid in August 2009, has a contract until 2013 but according to the German daily he will sign an extension deal at the end of April, keeping him in Munich for at least three more years. He is expected to sign the new contract after Bayern’s final home league match of the season against VfB Stuttgart on April 28. Robben has been in fine form for Bayern with 11 goals in the German league and three in the Champions League which have proved crucial in the last week. He scored the winning goal against Nuremberg on Saturday which leaves Bayern just three points behind Bundesliga leaders Dortmund. And his second-half goal sealed Bayern’s 2-0 quarter-final win at Marseille last Wednesday puts the German club on the verge of the Champions League semi-finals ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Munich. — AFP

Mahan wins Houston Open

PITTSBURGH: Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin (71) collides with Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux (28) in the second period of an NHL hockey game. —AP

Bruins top Rangers NEW YORK: Dennis Seidenberg and Patrice Bergeron scored second-period goals and Tim Thomas made 33 saves as the Boston Bruins clinched the Northeast Division title with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday night. Boston also prevented the Rangers from winning the Atlantic Division and securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. New York needs only one point in its final three games to finish first. Marian Gaborik scored his 40th goal of the season early in the first period, but the Rangers couldn’t muster much else against the defending Stanley Cup champions, who also locked up the No. 2 seed. Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for New York. The Rangers lead Pittsburgh by five points. Flyers 6, Rangers 4 At Pittsburgh, Jakub Voracek scored twice in the third period to break open a tight game and lift Philadelphia past Pittsburgh. Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Max Talbot and Marc-Andre Bourdon also scored for Philadelphia, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 43 shots to help the Flyers pulled within a point of the Penguins for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Steve Sullivan scored twice for Pittsburgh, and James Neal added his 39th of the season, but the Penguins couldn’t hold an early two-goal lead. Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves. The game served as a preview of what could be a heated firstround playoff matchup. There was an thirdperiod brawl that even had the coaches yelling at each other. Senators 5, Islanders 1 At Uniondale, Kyle Turris scored twice and had two assists and Milan Michalek added his team-leading 35th goal as Ottawa beat New York to clinch a playoff spot. The Senators won their fourth straight game to move four points behind idle New Jersey for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have three games left before the regular season ends Saturday. The Senators, with 92 points, are four ahead of eighth-place Washington. Nick Foligno and Sergei Gonchar also scored for Ottawa. Craig Anderson made

29 saves, allowing only Mark Streit’s firstperiod goal. Wild 5, Blackhawks 4 At Chicago, Devin Setoguchi and Erik Christensen scored in a shootout to help Minnesota beat Chicago for its third straight victory. Setoguchi had a goal and two assists in regulation, then sealed the victory in the third round of the shootout with a quick shot that beat Ray Emery. Patrick Kane had the lone Chicago goal in the shootout against Josh Harding. Kane scored his second goal in regulation, during a power play with 2:45 left in the third period, to tie it at 4. Dany Heatley, Kyle Brodziak and defenseman Clayton Stoner also scored Minnesota, which won in a shootout for the second straight night. Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg scored for Chicago. The Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot Saturday night. Red Wings 2, Panthers 1 At Detroit, Jiri Hudler scored with 14:30 remaining in the third period and again in a shootout to help Detroit beat Florida. Pavel Datsyuk also scored in the shootout for the Red Wings, who held on to win when Kris Versteeg missed high on Florida’s last attempt. The Panthers did secure a point to move three ahead of second-place Washington in the Southeast Division with three games remaining. Florida leads ninth-place Buffalo by five points in the conference standings. Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Panthers in the first period. Oilers 2, Ducks 1 At Anaheim, Teemu Hartikainen gave Edmonton an early lead with his first two goals of the season, Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves and the Oilers beat Anaheim in the Ducks’ final home game of the season. Teemu Selanne scored for the Ducks, and Jonas Hiller stopped 13 shots. Hiller, who has set franchise records with 70 starts and 71 appearances, finished his home slate 1916-2. Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf had a goal disallowed that would have tied it. Television replays confirmed that his slap shot from the top of the right circle got past Dubnyk a split-second after time expired in the second period. —AP

NHL results/standings Philadelphia 6, Pittsburgh 4; Ottawa 5, NY Islanders 1; Detroit 2, Florida 1 (SO); Minnesota 5, Chicago 4 (SO); Boston 2, NY Rangers 1; Edmonton 2, Anaheim 1. (SO denotes shootout win) Y-Nashville 45 26 8 227 208 98 Eastern Conference Atlantic Division Y-Detroit 46 27 5 240 195 97 W L OT GF GA PTS Y-Chicago 44 26 9 240 229 97 Y-NY Rangers50 21 7 217 173 107 Columbus 27 45 7 190 255 61 Y-Pittsburgh 48 24 6 264 208 102 Northwest Division Y-Philadelphia45 24 9 251 218 99 X-Vancouver 49 21 9 239 191 107 Y-New Jersey 45 28 6 219 205 96 Colorado 41 33 6 205 209 88 NY Islanders 33 34 11 193 236 77 Calgary 35 29 16 194 222 86 Northeast Division Minnesota 33 35 10 168 215 76 X-Boston 46 28 4 257 192 96 Edmonton 31 38 9 208 230 71 Y-Ottawa 40 28 10 240 230 90 Pacific Division Buffalo 38 31 10 208 219 86 Los Angeles 39 27 13 185 170 91 Toronto 34 36 9 222 252 77 Phoenix 39 27 13 206 202 91 Montreal 29 35 15 202 221 73 San Jose 40 29 10 214 201 90 Southeast Division Dallas 42 32 5 207 212 89 Florida 37 25 16 192 215 90 Anaheim 33 34 11 194 217 77 Washington 40 31 8 212 223 88 X—Won division title Winnipeg 36 34 9 213 233 81 Y—Clinched playoff berth Tampa Bay 36 35 7 223 268 79 Carolina

31 32 16 208 237 78 Western Conference Central Division X-St Louis 48 21 10 204 156 106

Note - Overtime losses (OT) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L)

HUMBLE: American Hunter Mahan became the first golfer to record multiple wins on the PGA Tour this year by claiming a one -stroke vic tor y over Sweden’s Carl Pettersson at the Houston Open in Humble, Texas, on Sunday. Mahan, who won the WGCAccenture Match Play Championship in Februar y, shot a one -under-par 71 in Sunday ’s final round at Redstone for a 16-under-par total of 272 in the last event before the U.S. Masters. “It feels great to come to 18 knowing you got to have a par to win and hit two good shots and make an easy two-putt. Feels great,” Mahan told repor ters after claiming his fifth career victory on the PGA Tour. Mahan, 29, said the victory boosted his confidence and that he was looking forward to attempting to capture his first major championship at Augusta National starting on Thursday. “I’m playing good. I’m glad I’m going to Augusta, it’s really a special place and I’m looking for ward to going there.” Pettersson, who held the lead before a two-shot swing in the middle of the round put Mahan back on top of the leaderboard, also posted a 71 for 273. Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa began the day with a two-stroke lead but doublebogeyed the fifth and eighth holes to slide back. Oosthuizen, who romped to

HUMBLE: Hunter Mahan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Houston Open golf tournament. —AP a seven-stroke victory at the 2010 British Open, got back on track on the back nine with three birdies to complete a 75 and finish third at 274. Tied for fourth place at 14-

under 276 were Americans Phil Mickelson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Jeff O ver ton (68) along with Briton Brian Davis (74). “I didn’t hit the ball close enough with my irons,” said

Mickelson, who won the tournament last year. “My iron play wasn’t the best this week, and then when I had a lot of good putts that came close, they didn’t quite fall like last year.” Pettersson used a birdie at the first and another at the fourth hole to move into the lead as Oosthuizen struggled. But the burly Swede bogeyed the 10th as Mahan ended a string of eight successive pars with a birdie at the ninth to take the lead. Mahan added a stroke to his advantage with another birdie at the 10th. Mahan, who stood second after three rounds, gave back a stroke with a bogey at the par-three 14th, but held his nerve down the stretch. Holding a one-shot lead, the American hit a perfect drive at the 488-yard par-four 18th and striped a seven-iron on a line just past the pin and two putted for victory. Pettersson had one last chance to pressure Mahan, but his birdie putt at the 18th came up short. “I played really good today,” the Swede said. “I couldn’t make a putt on the backnine. I gave myself good chances coming in. Just a little (disappointed) I left it short on 18.” Ernie Els was one of a number of players who needed a win at Redstone in order to qualify for next week’s Masters. The big South African, who has played in the last 18 Masters, posted a final-round 70 to finish tied for 12th on 278. —Reuters

Yoo gets past Kim in Mission Hills playoff CALIFORNIA: South Korea’s Yoo Sun-young rolled in an 15-foot birdie putt on the first suddendeath playoff hole to beat compatriot Kim In-kyung and claim her first major title with a win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday. After Kim squandered a chance to win in regulation when she missed a one-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Yoo went on to capture the first women’s major of the year when she birdied the same hole to start the playoff at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. “I’m speechless right now. I played pretty solid today,” Yoo, who matched Kim with a final round of three-under-par 69, said in a TV interview by the green. “I was hoping today for some luck. Looks like I got lucky. I’m very happy.” Yoo then joined her caddie for a running jump into Poppie’s Pond for the winner’s traditional splash in the water that surrounds the 18th green.

The jubilation was in marked contrast to the stunned reaction by Kim after her tap-in par putt on the 72nd hole caught the right edge, spun around and headed back to her.

After sinking the bogey putt she covered her ears with her hands as she walked off and looked skyward in dismay before heading back to the 18th tee to start the playoff with the duo

RANCHO MIRAGE: Sun Young Yoo, of South Korea, poses with the trophy after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament. —AP

tied at nine-under-par 279 after 72 holes. Yoo knocked her tee shot in the fairway, while a still wobbly Kim drove her ball deep into the left rough. Kim’s third shot settled on the edge of the green about 30 feet from the cup, while Yoo set up her winning birdie putt with a laser-like approach shot. Five-time major winner Yani Tseng of Taiwan (73), who began the day tied for the lead, narrowly missed joining the playoff when she missed a long, curling birdie putt at the 18th to finish one shot back of the leaders. Tied for fourth at 281 were 2011 winner Stacy Lewis (66), Koreans Amy Yang (69) and Seo Hee -kyung, and unheralded Swede Karin Sjodin (74), who was co-leader after three rounds. Sjodin had a three-shot lead early in the round after an eagle at the second hole, while Seo surged to a three -shot edge in the back nine before stumbling. —Reuters

Gulf Bank leads KBC Football League KUWAIT: The Gulf Bank maintained its lead of the KBC Football League following a 4-2 victory against Al-Ahli United Bank in week ten competitions that ended recently. The win puts the Gulf Bank with 25 points on top of the standings, followed by Boubyan Bank whose match with the National Bank of Kuwait ended in a 1-1 draw. Boubyan Bank has 18 points following week ten competition; four points ahead of third place Kuwait Finance House. The National Bank of Kuwait remained in fourth place with 12 points after defeating the International Bank 3-0, followed by Al-Ahli Bank with 8 points. The tournament is organized by the Kuwait Banks Club at the Ministry of Information stadium.


sp orts

Jedi knight vs. Darth Vader? Not exactly NEW ORLEANS: It feels like we’ve been here before. Nothing quite as apocalyptic as UNLV-Duke some two decades earlier, mind you, but plenty of the same storylines. Good vs. evil. Jedi knight vs. Darth Vader. All that’s admirable about college basketball pitted against the forces that would be its ruination. Except that it’s no more true about Kansas vs. Kentucky for the national title Monday night than it was in 1990. Back then, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was adorned with the halo and UNLV’s Jerry Tarkanian wore the horns. Cast in those roles this time around are Bill Self and John Calipari. Yet Self didn’t have to think long before answering “yes” when asked whether he’d consider changing places - even though Calipari gets more than his fair share of grief for recruiting “one-and-dones,” kids like Kentucky freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whose reading assignments next year will be NBA playbooks as opposed to say “Aeschylus.”

“I’d sacrifice if I had to coach Davis and Gilchrist, those guys, for a year or two,” Self added, smiling. “That would be a terrible problem to have as a coach.” Of course, Self hasn’t done too bad on his own. He’s had only two “one-and-dones” over the course of nine seasons at Kansas, compared to the five who have already left the Wildcats in Calipari’s two previous seasons, and the three or more players almost certain to follow them after this one. But Self also owns one championship ring to Calipari’s none. That came in 2008 against Memphis, whose coach at the time happened to be Calipari. In what screenwriters like to call “foreshadowing,” four of Calipari’s recruits would bolt for the exits after just one season during his eight years in charge of the Tigers’ program. “I don’t apologize, it’s not my rule. ... I don’t like the rules,” Calipari said. But just like Tarkanian, who said famously back in the day that “one year of college is better than none,” Calipari makes no bones about being ahead of the curve.

“Now what’s happened is North Carolina lost three underclassmen, Duke is losing ‘em, now it’s different,” he added a moment later. “But that’s OK. I mean, I’m going to do what’s right for our kids. At the end of the day, I don’t apologize for anything we do.” There’s something fitting about the game’s two winningest programs squaring off one more time, led by guys who, on the surface at least, couldn’t be more different. Self is modest, affable and well-liked by his peers. He’s known as a coach who’s won even more than the considerable talent on his roster would suggest. Not that he wouldn’t like more. “Cal’s a unique guy. I mean that in a favorable way,” Self said. “He’s raised the bar in some ways about how hard you got to get after it because it’s been proven, he’s going to get guys. If you’re going to compete with him, you got to have those same type of guys. “Certainly in the three years he’s been at Kentucky, even before that at Memphis, nobody’s recruited like he has. Nobody’s

coached his guys better, too, considering how many young kids he has, how he gets them all to play for one purpose.” Calipari is funny and fiercely loyal inside his circle of players and friends, but abrasive sometimes outside of it. The big knock against him is not winning it all even once, despite sending nearly two dozen players to the NBA in the last decade. Having been photographed at the scene of NCAA crimes at both of his first two head-coaching jobs UMass and Memphis - without being charged in either, reporters rarely give him the benefit of the doubt. Those same people never tire of reminding Calipari how the NCAA “vacated” his accomplishments at those schools - ordering both Final Four appearances and banners, dozens of wins and paychecks to be wiped off the books or handed back. After enduring the wisecracks for years, Calipari turned it into a running gag. “Two years got vacated,” he told reporters on his 53rd birthday a few months back, “so I’m 51.” Yet he and Self have plenty

in common, too, beginning with internships under coach Larry Brown at Kansas. “He followed me,” Calipari said. “When I left, he stepped into that spot at Kansas.” And then a few moments later, Calipari told a story that reminded the rest of us that like Self, he paid his dues, that not everything in his career was always sweetness and light. He noted that “spot” was a lot less glamorous than it sounded, recalling his job interview with Ted Owens, Brown’s predecessor at Kansas. “I said, ‘What position?’ He said, ‘volunteer.’ I said, ‘how much does that guy make?’” The answer was nothing. The job was almost worse than the pay. When he wasn’t soaking up lessons on the practice court, Calipari was manning the serving line in the team’s athletic dining room. “‘Would you like peas or corn?’” he recalled, slipping back into the role. “Peas? Great.’ I served the baseball team, basketball team, football team. “They had steak,” Calipari said wistfully. “I never had steak growing up.” —AP

Lakers beat Warriors LOS ANGELES: Kobe Bryant scored 40 points and Pau Gasol added 26 as the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves rallying for the second straight game against one of the West conference’s worst teams, beating the Golden State Warriors 120-112 on Sunday night. Ramon Sessions added 23 points in his best game since being traded to the Lakers two weeks ago. Gasol and reserve Troy Murphy had 11 rebounds each after AllStar center Andrew Bynum sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of the Lakers’ eighth consecutive home win against the Warriors. David Lee led six Warriors in double figures with 27 points. Klay Thompson added 18, Nate Robinson 17, and Richard Jefferson 16 for Golden State, which lost its fifth in a row and 10th in their last 12.

DENVER: Natalie Achonwa No. 11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempts a shot against Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis No. 23 and Caroline Doty No. 5 of the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.—AFP

Eyes under the basket for Kentucky vs Kansas NEW ORLEANS: When Kentucky faces Kansas in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title game late yesterday in the Superdome all eyes should be focused squarely in the paint. There will be elbows flying, jump hooks, jaw-dropping blocks and an overall level of physical play rarely seen in the college game. Few big men, if any, combine intensity with gracefulness like Kentucky’s 6-foot-10 freshman sensation Anthony Davis and Kansas’s muscular junior power forward Thomas Robinson. “We know how good Thomas Robinson is,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “We went against him in New York. He is as good as they get. He’s a vicious competitor, great around the rim. “Loves driving that thing hard left and getting to the rim. He has become a better handler and passer, rebounds. Oh, we know how good he is.” Robinson said many of the same things about Davis, the consensus player of the year in college basketball who could easily take his talents to the National Basketball Association (NBA) next year. But, he added, Davis would not alter the Jayhawks’ game plan. “Anthony Davis is a great player, but he’s not Superman,” he told reporters Sunday. “We just have to be Kansas, do what we do best, keep being aggressive. We’re not going to change anything we do. Just going to stick to the program.” Davis said he is looking forward to the match-up against the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Robinson, who averages 17.7 points and 11.7 rebounds. “We know he’s a great player,” said Davis. “Rebounds the ball, finishes with authority. Probably one of the best players that we’re going to face this year. “It’s going to be a great challenge for me, so I just can’t wait to play.” Throw in the game’s other talented big men, like Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and the Jayhawks’ Jeff Withey, who has 136 blocks this year, and you have some real estate that

could be hazardous for any guard who dares to drive to the hoop. Kansas coach Bill Self won the title in 2008 when his Jayhawks defeated a Caliparicoached Memphis team 75-68 in overtime after the Tigers missed four of their final five free throws late in regulation. When asked what he learned from that game, Calipari, who has made three prior Final Four appearances but is still looking for his first NCAA title, said with a laugh: “Make free throws, that’s what I learned.” Kentucky (37-2), the 68-team tournament’s top overall seed, has encountered little resistance in reaching the title game while Kansas has needed to draw on a few miracles along the way. The Wildcats beat Louisville 69-61 in the semi-finals on Saturday, while Kansas (32-6) trailed virtually the entire game before pulling out a 64-62 victory over Ohio State. “They’re finding a way on the biggest stage,” Self said of his team. “You look at our last four tournament games, Purdue has us down and out, N.C. State, a one possession game, Carolina is a one possession game. Last night Ohio State had us down and out. “It’s remarkable to me to see how much these guys have matured, grown, trust each other. It’s been a blast to watch from the sidelines.” Kentucky beat the Wildcats, 75-65, at New York’s Madison Square Garden in the second game of the season and has been the nation’s best team with a handful of players ultimately headed to the NBA. Self admitted that Kentucky, at least on paper, deserves to be favored. Bookmakers list the Wildcats about a seven-point choice to win their first national title since 1998. “Kentucky’s terrific,” he said. “They’ve been the best team in the country basically from start to finish with maybe the exception of a week here or a week there. “It’s just one of those things that you don’t play the games on paper... Just let it go, hang out and see what happens.” -Reuters

Hero Of Order wins Louisiana Derby NEW ORLEANS: Hero Of Order, a 99-1 rank outsider, won Sunday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans in a major boilover. The three-year-old colt upset his more fancied rivals to win the 99th edition of the one-and-an-eighth mile (1800 metres) classic, one of the key lead-up races to the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Ridden by Eddie Martin, who had the horse well placed in second position for most of the trip before taking the lead rounding the final turn, Hero Of Order had won just one of his previous 13 starts. By winning the Grade II race, Hero Of Order earned $600,000, more than 10 times his previous life earnings and easily enough to secure a place in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs,

but he is ineligible because he wasn’t nominated for the Triple Crown series. Mark Valeski, which started the Louisiana Derby as the 3-2 favourite, battled on well for second. He looked certain to win after catching Hero Of Order at the start of the stretch but could not get past him in the sprint to the line. Rousing Sermon came third while Cigar Streer was fourth. The shock result came just 24 hours after Union Rags, the early favorite for the Run for the Roses, was beaten into third place behind Take Charge Indy in the Florida Derby. The build-up to the Kentucky Derby continues next week with the Wood Memorial Stakes in New York and the Santa Anita Derby in California.—Reuters

Thunder 92, Bulls 78 At Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and Kevin Durant added 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder used a dominating third quarter to beat Chicago. The Thunder pulled away by outscoring Chicago 31-12 in the third quarter, allowing the Bulls to make only five of their 21 shots. Oklahoma City clinched a playoff berth in the process, with the help of tiebreakers over the teams fighting for the Western Conference’s final spot in the postseason. The Bulls played without All-Star point guard Derrick Rose for the 10th straight game, falling to 14-6 this season without the reigning MVP and 7-3 during his current absence with a groin injury.

wrestle it away from the Pacers and was called for traveling. Granger’s free throws came next, before Chandler Parsons made a layup on the other end to again cut the lead to 1. Darren Collison made the first of two free throws with 10.5 seconds left and Granger blocked a shot by Parsons at the buzzer to give Indiana the victory. Goran Dragic led the Rockets with 22 points and Lee added 20. Suns 92, Hornets 75 At Phoenix, Jared Dudley scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and Phoenix climbed back to .500 and moved 1 1/2 games behind eighth-place Houston in the Western Conference. Shannon Brown, starting for injured Grant Hill, added 16 for Phoenix. Channing Frye had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Marcin Gortat scored 13 and Steve Nash handed out 14 assists for the Suns. Jason Smith and Marco Belinelli scored 14 apiece for the Hornets. Jarrett Jack added 13. The Hornets, finishing

off a five-game road trip, became the third team in the NBA and first in the West to lose 40 games. T Blazers 119, T’wolves 106 At Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points in his return after missing one game with a sore left elbow, leading Portland past Minnesota. Nicolas Batum added 24 points for the Trail Blazers, who are 5-5 since interim coach Kaleb Canales replaced the fired Nate McMillan. Oregon native Kevin Love had 26 points and nine rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost eight of their last 10 games. Minnesota used just nine players. Both teams have been struggling to remain in the playoff picture. The Timberwolves have had injuries, including the loss of rookie Ricky Rubio for the season, while the Blazers have been adjusting to the dismissal of McMillan and the trade of starters Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace at the deadline.—AP

Celtics 91, Heat 72 At Boston, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double as Boston handed Miami its biggest loss of the season. The Celtics outscored the Heat 31-12 in the third quarter, turning a five-point halftime lead into an 80-56 advantage. They stayed ahead by at least 19 the rest of the way for their fifth straight win. Miami’s last three losses have been by at least 15 points and its previous worst defeat of the season came just one week earlier in a 103-87 setback at Oklahoma City. Rondo finished with 16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for his fifth triple-double of the season. The Celtics increased their Atlantic Division lead to one game over idle Philadelphia. Nuggets 104, Magic 101 At Orlando, Ty Lawson scored 12 of his 25 points in the second half and Arron Afflalo added 22 points as Denver beat short-handed Orlando. The Nuggets won back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game win streak the first week of March. Al Harrington added 18 points. Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 27 points, followed by Ryan Anderson with 20 and Glen Davis with 18. The Magic played without center Dwight Howard, who missed his first game of the season with back spasms. The loss was Orlando’s third straight and only the second to the Nuggets in 19 meetings at home. Howard’s absence was noticeable throughout, with the Nuggets scoring 44 points in the paint and shooting a 56 percent for the night. Raptors 99, Wizards 92 At Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 18 points, Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan each had 15 as Toronto beat Washington at home for the fifth straight time. Amir Johnson scored 10 points and James Johnson, Gary Forbes and Alan Anderson each had nine for the Raptors, who never trailed. John Wall had 13 points and 11 assists and Kevin Seraphin scored a career-high 16 points for the Wizards, who were trying to win back-to-back games for the second time this season. Washington’s only two-game winning streak came with victories at Detroit on Feb. 12 and at Portland on Feb. 14. Jordan Crawford scored 18 points, Chris Singleton fouled out with 15, Roger Mason Jr. had 12 and Jan Veseley 10 for the Wizards, who have lost 11 of 14. Pacers 104, Rockets 102 At Houston, Danny Granger scored 32 points, including two free throws with 15.7 seconds left in overtime, leading Indiana past Houston. The Pacers led by one when Paul George turned the ball over. Courtney Lee grabbed it and looked to have tied the ball up for Houston, but he stumbled trying to

LOS ANGELES: Lakers power forward Josh McRoberts (6) dunks over the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game. —AP

NBA results/standings Oklahoma City 92, Chicago 78; Boston 91, Miami 72; Denver 104, Orlando 101; Toronto 99, Washington 92; Indiana 104, Houston 102 (Overtime).

Boston Philadelphia New York New Jersey Toronto X-Chicago Indiana Milwaukee Detroit Cleveland Miami Orlando Atlanta Washington Charlotte

Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT 30 22 .577 29 23 .558 27 26 .509 19 35 .352 18 35 .340 Central Division 42 12 .778 31 21 .596 24 28 .462 19 33 .365 17 33 .340 Southeast Division 37 14 .725 32 21 .604 31 23 .574 12 40 .231 7 43 .140

GB 1 3.5 12 12.5 10 17 22 23 6 7.5 25.5 29.5

Western Conference Northwest Division X-Oklahoma City 40 12 .769 Denver 29 24 .547 Utah 27 26 .509 Portland 25 28 .472 Minnesota 25 29 .463 Pacific Division LA Lakers 33 20 .623 LA Clippers 31 21 .596 Phoenix 26 26 .500 Golden State 20 31 .392 Sacramento 18 34 .346 Southwest Division San Antonio 36 14 .720 Dallas 30 23 .566 Memphis 28 22 .560 Houston 28 25 .528 New Orleans 13 40 .245 X—Clinched playoff berth

11.5 13.5 15.5 16 1.5 6.5 12 14.5 7.5 8 9.5 24.5

Kuwait Open Tennis tournament

Dawood Suleiman

KUWAIT: The fourth day of Kuwait Open Tennis tournament witnessed several matches at various levels which included under 10 singles, under 13 singles, juniors, pioneers over 40 singles and doubles, men singles and doubles, women singles and doubles and diplomats singles. In the men’s singles Mansour Bu Hamad defeated Ashraf Al-Rashidi 6-2, 6-3. Faisal Bu Qurais beat Salman Abdelaziz 7-5, 6-4. Fahad Bastaki won over Joey Ritban 6-4, 64. Ali Al-Ghareeb clinched victory over Ali Khalifa 6-1, 6-2. Abdelrahman Antar defeated Adam Bu Shihri 6-1, 3-2 (withdrew), Li Hama saw off Vadeem 6-4, 6-1. Ahmad Bu Rahma rolled over Fahad Abdellatif AlJassar 6-1, 6-1. In the mixed doubles Oscar and Fiorella defeated Akram and Dana 6-0, 6-0. Delaray and Sabella Van triumphed over Krishna and Yoja 6-0, 6-0.

In the Juniors under 17 Abdelhameed Al-Shatti defeated Othman Hassan 6-0, 6-2. Ali Al-Qallaf sent off Mushari Mahmoud packing 6-0, 6-4. Ahmad Al-Ibrahim beat Yousuf Mohammad 7-6, 6-1. Faisal Hamad overcame Ritwik Sondar 6-3, 6-4, Nassar Ahmad overpowered Nawaf Al-Mutairi 6-0, 6-0. Dawood Hashim Abdelaziz Redha 7-5, 6-2. Rashid Al-Bader defeated Ahmad Sami 6-1, 6-3. Hisham Bastaki defeated Hussein Dashti 6-1, 6-4. In the Pioneers doubles Majdi Khamees and Siraj Al-Shinnawi triumphed over Samuel and Renaldo. In the Pioneers singles over 50, Majdi Al-Bitar defeated Adnan Al-Essa and Jassim Al-Saleem overcame Bader Wahidi. There were 450 tennis players both citizens and expats who participated in the tournament will continue until April 8th. Winners will be awarded financial prizes.

Mohammad Al-Shatti




Friends recall Micah True: Passionate and playful ALBUQUERQUE: Up mountainsides, through deserts and the wildest of rugged terrain, there was little that could break the serenity or solitude of Micah True as he ran. Only, perhaps, the pounding beat of his heart or the rhythm of his feet as they hit the trail, mile after mile after mile. For True, running - the pure act of traveling relentlessly long distances - was a passion that needed no justification. To those who knew him well, it also brought forth an intense playfulness in the 58-year-old ultramarathon runner. “When he was out on the trail running, it was like someone just rang the school bell and said, ‘Recess.’ It was utter playfulness,” recalled Chris McDougall, a friend of True’s and author of the nonfiction best-seller “Born to Run.” True’s body was discovered Saturday evening in a remote part of southern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. The search began for him days earlier after he failed to return Tuesday from a 12-mile (19-kilometer) run. He was found near a cold stream, his legs still in the water and his water bottle next to him, about a mile (kilometer) southeast of the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Crews recovered his body Sunday and

turned it over to the Office of the Medical Investigator, State Police Lt. Robert McDonald said. The cause of death was not yet known. There were no obvious signs of trauma, and McDonald said it could take a couple of days before authorities know what happened. But word of his death spread immediately through the community of runners, both amateur and accomplished, some of whom view True as an inspiration, a reason they took up the sport. Friends and admirers also posted condolences and shared fond memories on social networking sites of a man who, by nearly all of those accounts, was a truly memorable person. Barry Anderson, a manager at Runner’s Den in Phoenix, said the sport would greatly miss True. “He was both an international running celebrity, and the first person to smile and shake your hand when you crossed the finish line behind him,” Anderson wrote in a posting on Runner’s Den Facebook page. “The fact that so many people from all over the country dropped everything and immediately went to his aid is testimony to the way he lived his life and the way he himself treated his friends.”

Many on Sunday described True in the most reverential and laudatory of terms, with “legendary” and “inspirational” chief among them. Brian Metzler, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, and edits the running magazine “Competitor,” had known True for about 12 years. He described True as “very real and very pure of heart” and someone who liked to “go out there and connect with the earth and connect with the world.” “He was in it for spreading that gospel, spreading that joy of running,” Metzler said. True was the race director of The Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, a 50-plus mile extreme race that took place in Urique, Mexico. This year’s race marked a record turnout with hundreds of runners, most of them local Tarahumara, or Raramuri, Indians who are known for their extreme running. The prize money and corn vouchers awarded to finishers were all aimed at helping the Tarahumara. True was featured in articles in running magazines and was a central character known by his nickname, “Caballo Blanco” in McDougall’s “Born to Run.” McDougall, who left New Mexico on Sunday after helping with the search, based

his book on the first Copper Canyon run that True organized in 2003. Without True, McDougall said he’s not sure whether the Copper Canyon race will be able to continue. The Tarahumara are extraordinarily reclusive and True was able to build a relationship with them based on trust and confidence, he said. “He is the only person, I think, in our lifetime who has done a great job of very respectfully bringing awareness of that tradition to the rest of the world and creating a race that is a celebration of who they are.” A trail guide for hire, True spent his time traveling between Copper Canyon and Boulder, making stops now and then in New Mexico and Arizona. Last Tuesday, True had a few hours to spare before leaving The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs, where he often stayed while in New Mexico. After eating breakfast, he set off on what would have been a routine 12-mile run. He had run six miles the day before. He left his dog at the lodge but never returned. Dozens of searchers combed the rugged wilderness looking for him. Two of the best ultra-runners in the US - Scott Jurek and Kyle Skaggs - joined McDougall and others who

gathered from around the country to help. McDougall, in a Twitter message sent late Saturday, said: “Caballo had the only funeral he would have wanted: his friends spent days running in the wilderness in his honor.” Because True knew the area and wasn’t one for trying new trails without being shown around, McDougall said they all hoped that he would walk out of the woods with “that goofy grin” on his face. True’s smile was recognizable by runners around the country. Mark Cosmas, owner of iRun in Phoenix, said True was all about living life and helping other people enjoy running. “He might not have been the fastest or the most talented, but the joy and the passion that he brought to the ultra-running community was just infectious,” Cosmas said. Some found solace in the fact that True died doing what he loved most - what he did most every day of his life. To grasp the importance of running to True and a glimpse of that playfulness all his friends talked about, look no further than the short greeting on his voice mail: “Chances are I’m either running up a mountain, or I’m drinking a cerveza ...” —AP

Djokovic wins Miami title

MARTINSVILLE: Ryan Newman (39) dives underneath Clint Bowyer (15) and Jeff Gordon (24) to take the lead in the closing laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race. —AP

Newman wins wild finish at Martinsville Speedway MARTINSVILLE: Ryan Newman ended a 22-race winless streak when he held on for the victory at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, grabbing the lead when a three-wide accident took out leading teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with two laps to go. Gordon and Johnson seemed poised for a showdown in a green-white-checker finish, each eager to give Hendrick Motorsports its 200th victory. But as the green flag flew on lap 503, Clint Bowyer sneaked inside Gordon’s car heading into the first turn, and the three cars slid up the track as Newman zipped past. AJ Allmendinger finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. Johnson wound up 12th and Gordon, who led for 328 laps, finished 14th. The finish overshadowed what had been a stirring duel between Gordon, a seven-time winner on the 0.526-mile (850-meter) oval, and Johnson, a six-time winner. It seemed certain to end with one of them giving owner Rick Hendrick a landmark Sprint Cup victory. Johnson first took the lead when he passed Gordon on the 356th lap. He lost it on pit road, then passed Denny Hamlin on lap 393. He held off a modest challenge by Gordon with about 30 laps to go and then dueled side-by-side with Gordon until the caution, which came when David Reutimann ran out of gas near the entrance to

turn one. Gordon, who had just nudged in front of Johnson before the yellow flew, was the leader, with Johnson second and everyone behind them heading to pit road for tires. What had been an atypically clean raced turned into mayhem on the restart. “We were not a dominate race car,” Newman said. “Clint kind of cleared out Turn One for us and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.” Earnhardt, who was in position to give Hendrick a sweep of the top three spots before the caution, said everyone being on fresh tires played a factor in the crash. “We all took off and ran into the back of the leaders, all of us,” he said. Earnhardt didn’t blame Bowyer for trying to take the inside line, but was at a loss to explain what Reutimann was thinking. “I would like an explanation on why that happened,” he said of Reutimann stopping where he did after having made several laps with trouble without going to the pits. “There doesn’t seem like there could be a logical reason for him to have to stop on the track.” Reutimann said his motor just died. “I would not have stopped on the freaking racetrack. I would have limped it around there and come to pit road, which is what I was trying to do,” he said. “The thing quit going down the back straightaway, and it shut off. I just didn’t stop there intentionally.” —AP

KEY BISCAYNE: World number one Novak Djokovic defeated Britain’s Andy Murray 6-1 7-6 to win the Sony Ericsson Open for the second consecutive year on Sunday. Djokovic’s victory was his third at Miami, avenged his 2009 loss to Murray here at Crandon Park and confirmed his status as the top player in the men’s game. “I though I played a great match from the start to the end,” Djokovic, who did not drop a set throughout the tournament, said during an on-court interview. “But with such a quality player you really never know, that’s why he’s right at the top. He always comes back even if you feel that you have control of the match so I am really happy to close it out in straight sets.” Djokovic always looked to have the edge and converted two of his eight break point chances and won 70 percent of his service points. The Serb got a grip on the match, breaking in a long and compelling fourth game when world number four Murray twice made unforced errors on his backhand on two game point chances. The Scot responded positively and had break point on the next service game from Djokovic but his opponent turned on the power to hold. Murray’s backhand let him down again in the next game and two shots into the net allowed the Serb to break and serve out to take the set comfortably. The second set was tighter but Murray had to work much harder to hold his serves and failed to get a break point against the confident 24 year old. Nonetheless there were some entertaining baseline rallies and plenty for the crowd, basking in the sun under the palm trees, to enjoy in a 90-minute set which featured four games that reached deuce. Djokovic ran out 7-4 winner in the tiebreak to follow up his Australian Open title

with his second win of the year. “I didn’t return well today, which is normally one of the best parts of my game. That was the difference, in my opinion,” said a disappointed Murray, who fell to 5-8 against Djokovic. In a strange week, the Scotsman had two

KEY BISCAYNE: Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, kisses the trophy after defeating Andy Murray, of Britain, during the men’s singles final of the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament. —AP walkovers, including the semi-final when Rafa Nadal withdrew with a knee injury, but he said he was ready for the final. “No question about that. It could have taken me whenever, a couple of games to get used to sort of the pace of the rallies and stuff,

Power surges to another IndyCar victory in Alabama BIRMINGHAM: Will Power won the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the second straight year, taking the lead on a late caution Sunday and pulling back in front of Scott Dixon on the double-file restart with 16 laps to go. So much for his stance two days earlier that it would be tough for anybody opening outside the top four to win on a course that typically features infrequent passing. Power showed it could be done by starting in ninth spot and making up ground with the help of tire strategy and swift work on pit road. He started on the faster alternate red-striped tires instead of the more durable black. “We started on black tires when everybody started on red, and then went to red when everyone was on black,” Power said. “That got us a couple of spots. And then just good stops and good strategy calls put me out in clean air so we could use our speed to make some passes. “It was a very good team effort, an absolute team effort to put ourselves in position to win, which I did not think was possible this morning.” It was the second straight win for Chevrolet and Team Penske. Power and Dixon pulled away from the field for a 1-2 finish, just like a year ago. St. Petersburg winner and pole-sitter Helio Castroneves of Penske edged Graham Rahal for third. “The way the car finished at the end of the day, I have to be very happy with third,” Castroneves said. “That’s the best we could do.” Power had his fast qualifying time in the second session negated

because a caution came down during his run, forcing the Australian out of his more familiar front-runner status at Barber, where he had held the pole the past two years. He still managed to work his way toward the front, moving into the top five by passing Tony Kanaan on the hairpin fifth turn - where he managed several passes - a third of the way through.

close call for Dixon, second in the season’s first two races and all three years at the tree-lined 2.38mile road course in suburban Birmingham. Dixon couldn’t muster much of a challenge in the final laps, finishing 3.37 seconds behind. “I think we had the car to beat,” Dixon said. “We had the speed and for the most part the right strategy,

BIRMINGHAM: Will Power, of Australia, leaps after winning the IndyCar Series’ Indy Grand Prix of Alabama auto race. —AP This time, the restart provided the last real drama up front after a caution when Katherine Legge went into a gravel pit. Power consistently had the fastest car in practice and qualifying here before the poor timing of a day earlier. It was a nice rebound also from a St. Petersburg performance he called “the worst race of my life.” It was another tantalizingly

but it just wasn’t our day. The restart, I got a good jump on them. “But obviously being on the inside, all he had to do was drive in deeper. I tried for a few laps there, burned the rear tires off with about five or 10 to go. That was all said and done.” Rahal couldn’t find a way past Castroneves, the 2010 winner. The focus returned to racing after the emotional weekend in St.

but, yeah, I was up for it,” he said. Djokovic’s victory over Murray marked his third consecutive match clinched in a second set tie-break after beating Spain’s David Ferrer in the quarter-final and Argentina’s Juan Monaco in the semi-final. “I didn’t drop

Petersburg, the adopted hometown of Dan Wheldon and the first race since Wheldon’s fatal crash in October’s season finale. Power matched Wheldon’s 16 career wins in Indy cars, 14 of them coming on road or street courses. The race provided significantly more maneuvering after Power led wire-to-wire in 2011. Dixon beat Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe out of pit road on the first stop to move up front but lost precious time and the lead on the second. Rookie Simon Pagenaud was fifth. Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello had a strong performance in his second IndyCar race, finishing eighth. Defending series champion Dario Franchitti moved up eight spots after a rough qualifying session and was 10th, still a slow start by the standards of Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi teammate. “Dario is a true professional,” Dixon said. “He’s not letting it get on top of him. I think qualifying wasn’t his fault. They had a problem with the car. “He hasn’t had the starts he wanted to, but he’ll be strong here real quick.” The new cars’ safety measures still haven’t been put to the test by the first two races. This time there were only two cautions. There was some attrition starting moments after the race began. Alex Tagliani’s Lotus car didn’t make it through the first lap before mechanical failure ended his day. Charlie Kimball went into the gravel midway through. Takuma Sato had to pull off the track on the 54th lap, climbing out and walking down the grass back to pit road. —AP

a set, which is very impressive,” said Djokovic. “I’m really happy with the way I played last three matches against three very good opponents and top players, so this is a very positive thing for continuation of the season.” —Reuters


Kitajima eyes home rivals TOKYO: Japan’s four-time Olympic swimming champion Kosuke Kitajima thinks the challenge from his compatriots is tougher than ever, as he bids to qualify for the London Games and go for a third consecutive golden double. The 29-year-old, who retained the 100m and 200m Olympic breaststroke titles at the 2008 Beijing Games, must finish first or second in each distance at the Japanese national championships starting Monday to book a ticket to London. Other Olympic title hopefuls competing at the week-long event in Tokyo include world silver medallists Takeshi Matsuda and Ryosuke Irie. “Four years ago, I made the national team with ease,” Kitajima told Japanese media in Columbus, Ohio, in March when he won the 100m and 200m at a US swimming Grand Prix series meeting. “I don’t feel it easy to qualify for the Olympics this time. It is tough in some aspects and there is the pressure. But I have to stay strong because of that.” Plagued by injuries, Kitajima has been far from unbeatable in the breaststroke even at home since he moved his training base to the US city of Los Angeles after the Beijing Olympics. His teammate Ryo Tateishi won the 100m at the 2010 Asian Games where Kitajima finished fourth in both the 50m and 100m before pulling out of the 200m, citing nagging pain in his shoulder and joints. At last year’s nationals, which served as trials for the 2011 World Championships, Kitajima won the 100m but in the 200m he came second to Asian Games 200m champion

Naoya Tomita and suffered a leg injury. There is also a new rival on the horizon in the form of 17-year-old high-school student Akihiro Yamaguchi, dubbed “Kitajima II”, who has posted a series of quick breaststroke times. Japan Swimming Federation executive director Koji Ueno told reporters, however, that Kitajima “has been shaping up like never before... There is a huge difference when compared with how he was last year”. At the World Championships in Shanghai in July 2011, Kitajima finished runner-up to Daniel Gyurta of Hungary in the 200m. He was fourth in the 100m which was won by Alexander Dale Oen of Norway in 58.71. To put pressure on his international rivals, Kitajima will need to clock below 59 seconds in the 100m and below 2min 8sec in the 200m. Meanwhile, in the men’s butterfly, Matsuda hopes to catch up with American Michael Phelps who beat him in the 200m at the Shanghai World Championships by 0.27 seconds. “If I can’t better Phelps’s time (1:53.34) at the nationals, I will never get the gold medal at the London Olympics,” said Matsuda, 27, who won the 200m bronze in Beijing behind Phelps and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh. Irie, 22, who came second to Ryan Lochte in the 200m backstroke in Shanghai, hopes to close in on the American. He clocked 1:54.11 against Lochte’s 1:52.96 in Shanghai. In the women’s contest, the focus will be on world 50m backstroke silver medallist Aya Terakawa. —AFP


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Barca wary of Milan as records beckon MADRID: Barcelona and Lionel Messi can write new chapters in the record books today if they are able to break out of the straightjacket imposed on them by AC Milan and reach the Champions League semi-finals. The seven-times European Cup winners held Barca to a rare 0-0 draw in their quarter-final first leg at the San Siro last week, their rugged defence denying the in-form Messi a goal with some wellorganised harrying and hustling. Holders Barca are bidding to become the first team to win consecutive Champions League titles and a fifth semi-final appearance in a row would match the record set by arch-rivals Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960. World Player of the Year Messi needs one more goal to break the Champions League season record of 12 goals, set by himself last season and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 and also notch up his 50th goal of the competition. The Argentine netted his 56th goal of the season from the penalty spot as Barca overcame Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at home on Saturday, keeping them six points behind leaders Real Madrid in La Liga. Barca have not lost at home in Europe since 2009 while Milan have yet to win away this season in the Champions League but did grab a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp in the group stage in September. A repeat in today’s last-eight second leg would put the Italians through. “Milan have great players, they are a great team and they will make life very

difficult,” Barca forward Pedro told reporters on Sunday. “We could dominate, but we will never be able to relax because they can turn the game in a moment.” Barca will at least be able to rely on their immaculate ‘billiard table’ playing surface at the Nou Camp after posting an official complaint to UEFA over the poor state of the pitch in Milan last week. Serie A leaders Milan drew 1-1 at Catania on Saturday and were aggrieved for a second time this season that a goal which seemed to have crossed the line was not awarded. Robinho was the man denied. The Brazilian has been working his way back to full fitness and should again start at Barca although compatriot Alexandre Pato is in the frame again after a visit to a back specialist in the United States looks to have cured his nagging injury. “Today will be a very difficult battle, we will go for it,” coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters. “We don’t need extra stimulus for this one. We need to perform at our very best.” Alessandro Nesta, who gave Messi a rough ride in the first leg, was rested against Catania because of a knock but the 36-year-old may return at the Nou Camp while right back Ignazio Abate and midfielder Alberto Aquilani returned to action on Saturday after spells out. Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati is travelling despite a minor injury but centre back Thiago Silva and midfielders Mark van Bommel and Gennaro Gattuso are out. — Reuters

GERMANY: Munich’s player Franck Ribery of France (foreground center) and Ivica Olic of Croatia (foreground left) practice during a training session. Bayern Munich will face Olympique de Marseille in a second leg Champions League quarter final soccer match today. — AP

Bayern untroubled by busy schedule BERLIN: Bayern Munich will be unaffected by their hectic schedule when they meet Olympique Marseille in a Champions League quarter-final second leg today, according to sports director Christian Nerlinger. Buoyed by a 1-0 Bundesliga win over Nuremberg on Saturday that marked their seventh consecutive victory in all competitions, the Bavarians are looking to knock out Marseille after opening a 2-0 lead in last week’s first match in France. “We have our fate in our own hands in all three competitions,” said Nerlinger of the chase for a Bundesliga-German CupChampions League treble that could feature eight games in less than four weeks. “I have faith in the team. They have shown they can adapt to this rhythm of a game every three days and they are in good physical shape.” Bayern are already through to the German

Cup final and are three points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The Munich team, looking to reach the Champions League final to be played in their own stadium in May, will be without suspended midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger on Tuesday after he was booked in Marseille. Six Bayern players - including Thomas Mueller, captain Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos and David Alaba - know a yellow card will put them out of the first leg of a likely semi-final against Real Madrid who are 3-0 up on APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus. “Our starting position is very good,” said Lahm. “If we play our game with the same focus then we will not be threatened at all today.” Didier Deschamps’s side travel to Germany with confidence low as they occupy ninth position in Ligue 1. Marseille have not played since the first leg at the Stade Velodrome

after their home game against Montpellier was put back by the French League to help them prepare for the return match with Bayern. Deschamps’s team need all the help they can get, having lost eight of their last nine games in all competitions. “It will be very tough to meet our objectives. Even impossible,” France defender Rod Fanni told the club’s website ( “It’s hard to live with, psychologically and physically it’s been tough.” Fanni, however, believes Marseille are capable of causing an upset. “You never know. As long as we have a small chance ...”, he said. Keeper Steve Mandanda is back after suspension but centre back Souleymane Diawara, who was banned in the first leg, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Holding midfielder Alou Diarra is also suspended. — Reuters

Boca blank Estudiantes

SPAIN: AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (center) attends a training session with his teammates at the Camp Nou in Barcelona. Barcelona will face AC Milan in a 2nd leg quarter-final Champions League soccer match today. — AP

FIFA adviser says reforms on track, but not ideal GENEVA: A FIFA anti-corruption adviser said the process of cleaning up football’s world governing body is still on track despite President Sepp Blatter delivering fewer promises than expected. Alexandra Wrage told The Associated Press that “progress is as good as we could have hoped” after Blatter announced a limited slate of reforms approved by his executive committee on Friday. “Which is not the same as perfect or ideal,” Wrage, a member of the independent panel advising FIFA, said in a telephone interview from the United States. Wrage, the president of anti-bribery consultants TRACE, said the 13-member panel led by Swiss law professor Mark Pieth worked at “lightning speed” to present FIFA with a first phase of reform proposals. However, FIFA’s executive committee did not fully address many of the Pieth team’s requests, and shifted most decisions to 2013. “I know there is a lot of cynicism, and I share some of that,” Wrage said, acknowledging suspicion among many football fans over whether FIFA has a genuine desire to change after bribery and voterigging scandals. “Although I think things are going as well as they can at this point.” While FIFA has committed to revamping its ethics court and exerting tighter financial controls, the measures - which still need final approval next month from FIFA’s 208 member nations - fell short of Wrage’s expectations. Blatter’s colleagues did not grant the Pieth panel’s “fundamental” request to guarantee executive committee seats for the elected ethics and compliance officials. They also did not create a separate Nominations Committee tasked with proposing and vetting candidates for future FIFA positions. “I’m disappointed by that. That is one of the things I felt was very important,” said Wrage, a Canadian lawyer who is a global authority on anti-bribery compliance. Blatter emerged from Friday’s session with Pieth at FIFA headquarters hailing

“unanimous” backing from his 24-man ruling committee on a “historic” day for his reform mission. Yet proposals such as revising the ethics code and requiring greater transparency in FIFA’s commercial deals, worth $1 billion annually, were not mentioned. The executive committee also did not vote on potentially tricky decisions to cut their tenure by imposing term limits, and diluting their power by bringing independent outsiders into FIFA’s inner circle. Wrage believes the “next big step” for Pieth’s team in their scheduled 18-month task is finding candidates to fill these key seats. “It’s critically important to the success of this process,” Wrage said. “It has to be somebody with impeccable credentials and an international reputation.” Wrage expects the elected Ethics Committee leaders to have the expertise and “unfettered” authority to order investigations into recent allegations of wrongdoing, which Pieth’s team said FIFA failed to deal with effectively. This includes examining how FIFA reached decisions to award Russia and Qatar hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively. “They will on their own initiative be able to look at and investigate whatever they deem appropriate,” Wrage said. “That is at the very core of an independent investigative arm.” Wrage said she still believes FIFA members do have an appetite for reform, and that the Pieth panel’s involvement is not merely “window dressing.” Her colleagues on the advisory group include former Watergate investigator Michael Hershman and Britain’s former attorneygeneral Peter Goldsmith. “That’s clearly not something any of us wanted to be associated with,” said Wrage, whose expenses for her FIFA work are funded entirely by the Annapolis, Maryland-based TRACE. “If the scandals aren’t dealt with, and the reform isn’t completed, we’re not going to be able to get anybody to focus on anything else, and I think he (Blatter) knows that.”— AP

BUENOS AIRES: Striker Santiago Silva broke his goal drought as Boca Juniors beat Estudiantes 3-0 away to snatch the lead from them in the Argentine Clausura championship on Sunday. Beleaguered coach Leonardo Madelon resigned from his post at relegation-threatened San Lorenzo after a 20 defeat by Velez Sarsfield and Olimpo’s Hector Rivoira followed suit following his side’s 5-2 rout by Banfield on Saturday. Champions Boca have 17 points from eight matches, one more than former Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino’s Newell’s Old Boys and two more than Estudiantes, Velez Sarsfield and Arsenal. A minute’s silence was observed before kickoff at stadiums across the country marking Monday’s 30th anniversary of the 1982 Argentine invasion of the British-held Falkland Islands over which they claim sovereignty. Fans held banners that read “Las Malvinas are Argentine” and jumped in unison to their favourite chant “He who doesn’t jump is English”. Silva, signed from Fiorentina in January, scored his first goal in his eighth match for Boca to give them an early lead at La Plata’s Estadio Unico and screamed with delight at breaking his duck after 639 minutes in all competitions. A long throw-in from the left was poorly cleared and the ball fell to the burly Uruguayan who fired low past Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Andujar in the ninth minute. “This was an important win at a difficult ground against very good opponents. It will do us a lot of good spiritually,” Silva told broadcasters Futbol Para Todos. Midfielder Pablo Ledesma made it two in the 24th minute, coming into the box from the right to drill home a low shot that Andujar got a hand to but could not turn away.

Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron, back from a month’s absence through injury, hit the Boca bar with a free kick in the 35th. Silva laid on Boca’s third goal with a pass to substitute Pablo Mouche who beat the offside trap to steer the ball past Andujar in the 68th minute. Newell’s, improving fast since Martino took charge in the mid-season recess, beat Racing Club 2-0 at home in Rosario for their fourth win in a row. San Lorenzo hosted their match against Velez in an empty Nuevo Gasometro after city authorities closed the ground to fans following crowd trouble two weeks ago with Madelon having anticipated it could be his last in charge. “Continuity in football is results,” Madelon had told reporters in his last news conference on Friday. The Saints, one of Argentina’s Big Five clubs who have lost four and won two of their eight Clausura matches, are third from bottom of the parallel relegation standings based on three-season points averages, facing a playoff against second tier Primera B Nacional rivals for their first division survival. Olimpo, based in the southern naval port of Bahia, are at the foot of the relegation standings and will go down automatically if they remain in the bottom two at the end of the season in June. — Reuters

Matches on TV (Local Timings)

UEFA Champions League Bayern v Marseille Aljazeera Sport +5


Barcelona v AC Milan Aljazeera Sport +4


LA PLATA: Boca Juniors’ Cristian Chavez (left) and Raul Iberbia of Estudiantes de La Plata battle for the ball during an Argentina’s league soccer match. — AP

MEXICO: America’s Raul Jimenez jumps for the ball during a Mexican soccer league match against Monterrey. — AP

Santos holds onto top spot in Mexico MEXICO CITY: A late headed goal from Angel Reyna gave Monterrey a 3-2 victory over America on Sunday, but Santos Laguna remained in first place in Mexico’s first division after defeating Toluca 3-1. Santos Laguna moved to 29 points and was one point clear of defending champion Tigres, which had 4-1 win against Morelia. Morelia remained on 26 points and Monterrey was in fourth spot on 25 points with four rounds remaining. In other weekend matches, Estudiantes defeated Chivas 10, Pachuca defeated Tijuana 1-0, Cruz Azul had a 3-1 win over San Luis, Queretaro lost 1-0 to Puebla, Atlante and Jaguares drew 2-2 and Atlas drew 0-0 with Pumas. Ecuadorian Christian Benitez twice gave America the lead against Monterrey, scoring in the 18th minute and again in the 57th after Hamerto Suazo had equalized with a header just before half time. Substitute Abraham Carreno made it 2-2 in the 85th before Reyna, who used to play for America and left under acrimonious circumstances, scored the winner four minutes into injury time. Also Sunday, first half goals from Oribe Peralta and Christian Suarez gave Santos Laguna a 2-0 lead, and Darwin Quintero added the third three minutes after halftime. Diego de la Torre got one back in the 66th for Toluca, which had Diego Novaretti sent off 10 minutes later. Tigres broke a 1-1 halftime deadlock against Morelia with three second-half goals via Edno Cunha in the 58th, Lucas Lobos in the 68th and Damian Alvarez in the 74th. Elsewhere, Chivas’ five-match unbeaten streak in the league ended when an attempted clearance from Edgar Mejia went over Chivas’ keeper Luis Michel and into the goal five minutes from fulltime. A single goal from Javier Munoz in the 63rd was enough to give the three points to Pachuca, which has 21 points, one point more than Tijuana. A 30-yard strike from Argentine Alfredo Moreno gave San Luis a surprise lead in the 15th, but a double before halftime from former Mexico international Omar Bravo put Cruz Azul ahead. Edixon Perea added Cruz Azul’s third in the 53rd. Queretaro remains in last place with Brazilian Lucas Silva getting the only goal of the game for Puebla in the 69th. US international DaMarcus Beasley assisted on the goal. Atlante twice came from behind against Jaguares. Colombian Luis Gabriel Rey opened the scoring in the 28th before Michael Arroyo of Ecuador got one back in the 59th. Atlante had Arturo Munoz sent off in the 47th. Edgar Andrade put Jaguares ahead for the second time in the 63th, but Jose Francisco Fonseca equalized for Atlante with nine minutes remaining. Atlas had the better chances against Pumas, but goalkeeper Alejandro Palacios made of string of saves to keep them scoreless. Next Sunday, Chivas hosts America in Mexico’s most important derby game. — AP


S P ORT S Preview

Pressure on Strauss and England COLOMBO: Jonathan Trott is backing under-fire England captain Andrew Strauss to end his form slump in the second Test against Sri Lanka that starts today. The left-handed opening batsman has not scored a test century since 2010 and needs to spark his team into action after they lost the first game of the twomatch series by 75 runs in Galle last week. A fifth defeat in a row for England, who were also whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in their previous series, in Colombo will allow South Africa to take over from them as the world’s number one ranked team. “Every player goes through ups and downs,” Trott told reporters. “When someone is not scoring as many runs as they would like, or expect of themselves, it is always highlighted by you guys. “I’m sure it will have a similar effect as it did when Alastair Cook recently came through his little slump. I’m surprised you guys haven’t learned your lesson from that,” added Trott who scored a century in Galle. Strauss has plenty of credit in his ‘cricket bank’ having guided England to back-to-back Ashes wins over Australia and led them to the top of the test rankings. However, he needs to arrest his batting slump quickly or run the risk of more media criticism about his value to the side. Strauss’s opening partner Cook was in a similar position midway through 2010 but a century against Pakistan at the Oval turned his form around and he has since gone from strength to strength, scoring six hundreds including two double tons. England have struggled with spin against Sri Lanka and against Pakistan in their recent whitewash in the Gulf and Trott said there was no magic formula for success against the turning ball. “I just played normally in Galle,” said the number three batsman. “I didn’t try going in with any pre-conceived conceptions. “I had a bit of luck early on and rode it. You certainly need a bit of luck in these conditions with a lot of catchers round the bat.” Sri Lanka skipper Mahela

COLOMBO: England’s batsman Kevin Pietersen bats during a practice session ahead of their second Test cricket match against Sri Lanka.—AP Jayawardene said the heat and the state of the wickets were also obstacles batsmen had to overcome on the sub-continent. “It’s not just spin bowling but how you play in certain conditions. It’s about adapting,” Jayawardene said. England are without all-rounder Stuart Broad after he injured his ankle in the opening test. If the visitors want a fast bowler to take his place then Steve Finn will get the nod but Tim Bresnan’s superior batting may mean he gets called up instead. Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar may also be omitted after he toiled with the ball in Galle and dropped two important catches. Sri Lanka will be forced into at least one change after fast bowler Chanaka Welegedara was ruled out with a groin strain. Dhammika Prasad is expected to replace him. The return of Angelo Mathews after a calf injury has left the home team with a selection dilemma. They must now decide between Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal who scored 27 and 31 in Galle. The Colombo match marks the 30th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s elevation to test cricket.—Reuters

Fifth IPL looks to put troubles behind it NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League faces a test of its popularity as the fifth edition of the money-spinning Twenty20 event gets under way this week amid concern about cricket fatigue among viewers. The IPL, which began in 2008 as a highoctane mix of glamour, entertainment, rich purses for players and the excitement of slam-bang cricket, has had a difficult ride over the past four years. It has been hit by infighting, problems with teams, criminal investigations and corruption allegations. Fresh doubts have been raised after a fall in viewership figures last year and a reported decline in sponsor interest, with the tournament coming soon after the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and India’s tour of Australia. “By the time this one ends, all doubts will be put to rest,” IPL chief Rajiv Shukla told AFP. “The excitement is building up nicely. We in the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) are not worried at all.” The IPL, which features world stars playing for rich franchise owners, is being investigated by government agencies for alleged fraud and foreign exchange violations. Its founder Lalit Modi, who was suspended from the league in 2010, is holed up in London as he faces Indian government and BCCI charges of misappropriation of funds. Among the 10 IPL teams, Kochi have been thrown out for non-payment of fees, while the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab face arbitration in cases filed by the BCCI. The owners too are feeling the pinch. Pune, owned by the Sahara group, want their franchise fees of a whopping $370 million reduced. The Rajasthan Royals are in talks to sell a majority stake. As viewership declined last year, when the event started just after India won the World Cup at home, some sponsors chose

to turn their back on what was once considered a safe bet for advertisers. Business newspapers have reported that at least three regular advertisers Parle, LG Electronics and Godrej-have backed out from the IPL this year. “Advertisers are starting to look at other options,” said Alok Bharadwaj of Japanese electronics group Canon, which has decided to cut down its advertising spend in the tournament by 80 percent. “Each year the rates have gone up by 15-20 percent and the returns are not directly proportionate,” Bharadwaj told the Times of India. The Champions League Twenty20, an offshoot of the IPL that involves leading domestic teams from around the world, lost its title sponsors, AirTel, after just one year due to lack of interest among fans. Former first-class cricketer Shishir Hattangadi, who once worked on the team management of Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians, said the IPL was suffering from a poor long-term development plan. “It was inevitable,” he said. “Team compositions change every year which has confused the loyal fan. There is also the fatigue factor of watching too much cricket.” The 76-match tournament from April 4 to May 27 has the nine teams playing each other on a home and away basis before a four-game play-off. The International Cricket Council has refused to carve out a window for the IPL in its calendar, so bilateral tours will restrict the top world stars from playing in the entire tournament. England’s Kevin Pietersen will not be available for more than a month, and leading Australians will be available only after their tour of the West Indies ends on April 27. Pakistani players, who are usually a major draw in India, have been kept out of the tournament since the second edition, reportedly due to security fears.—AFP

CAPE TOWN: Tepele Ole Naimando (left) a Maasai Warrior from the Laikipia region in Kenya, makes a run after playing a shot during a cricket game that forms part of the ‘Last Man Stands’ championships in Cape Town.—AP

Fans taunt Valencia after city derby draw

MADRID: Valencia fans jeered and whistled again after their team were held to a 1-1 draw at home to La Liga surprise package Levante in the city derby on Sunday. Valencia have only won once at the Mestalla in the league this year and, although they remain third and are in the Europa League quarter-finals, pressure is mounting on coach Unai Emery. A clever pass from Aritz Aduriz opened the way for Jonas to give the hosts a 35th-minute lead but they failed to build on the advantage and allowed their opponents back into the game. Levante levelled when Arouna Kone fired home after 53 minutes and, with both sides going close to grabbing a late winner, the impatience from the home fans grew to a crescendo at the final whistle. Valencia have 48 points from 30 games with eight left ahead of Malaga in fourth on 47 and fifth-placed Levante with 45. Only the top three get an automatic Champions League place. “A draw is a bad result and we are not satisfied,” Emery told reporters. “ The fans have protested the way they did but they supported us during the game. “I am not worried about dropping out of the Champions League places but it us up to me to change this dynamic and find solutions,” he said, adding that club president Manuel Llorente had spoken to him after the game saying the team had to improve. Leaders Real Madrid, on 78 points, took another step towards the title with a 5-1 rout of Osasuna in Pamplona on Saturday, when Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain both bagged a brace. Real remain six points clear of chasing Barcelona, who were 2-0 winners at home to Athletic Bilbao also on Saturday. Europa League quarter-finalists Atletico Madrid kept up the push for a return to Europe next season with a 3-0 home win over near neighbours Getafe that put them seventh with 42 points. Argentine Eduardo Salvio looped in a header before the break and Brazilian Diego Ribas, back after injury, doubled the lead in the 61st minute at the second attempt.

SPAIN: Levante’s Arouna Kone from Ivory Coast (left) duels for the ball with Valencia’s Adil Rami from France (right) during their La Liga soccer match.—AP Colombia striker Radamel Falcao tapped in his 20th goal of the campaign near the end. Espanyol are eighth with 41 points after a scrappy 0-0 draw at Villarreal, who sit four points

above the relegation places in 17th with 32. In Sunday’s other game Real Sociedad moved away from the danger zone by thrashing Rayo Vallecano 4-0 at home.—Reuters

Hazard revives Lille’s title hopes PARIS: Eden Hazard scored one goal and set up another as Lille revived their hopes of retaining the Ligue 1 title with a 2-1 home win over Toulouse that narrowed the gap with leaders Montpellier to four points on Sunday. In-form Belgium midfielder Hazard netted a penalty in the 12th minute and set up Dimitri Payet for the second on the half-hour as Lille stayed third with 56 points from 30 games. Montpellier, whose game at Olympique Marseille was postponed to April 11 as the hosts prepare for a Champions League match, have 60 points and lead Paris St Germain on goal difference after Carlo Ancelotti’s side lost 2-1

at Nancy on Saturday. “It’s too soon to talk about the title,” Lille captain Rio Mavuba told French T V channel Foot + with eight games left. Coach Rudi Garcia added: “We will see. If those in front of us continue to underperform, maybe we will come back”. Toulouse dropped to fifth on 50 points, behind Olympique Lyon on goal difference after the seventimes French champions salvaged a 1-1 draw at Stade Rennes in Sunday’s late game. Turkey striker Mevlut Erding struck after five minutes for the hosts with a low, angled shot and two minutes later team mate Jonathan Pitroipa outmuscled Dejan Lovren in the box but his

attempt smashed against the post. Lyon were denied a possible penalty early in the second half when substitute Jimmy Briand appeared to have been brought down by goalkeeper Benoit Costil. However, Lisandro Lopez equalised 14 minutes from time when he connected with a Clement Grenier free kick to beat Costil from close range. Lyon, who have played in the last 12 editions of the Champions League, face an uphill battle to secure a place in Europe’s premium club competition with Lille likely to finish third and clinch the playoff spot. Lille, who have now won their last three league games, were in a

class of their own in the first half and Toulouse were lucky to reach the interval with only a two-goal deficit. Hazard converted from the spot after he was brought down in the box to give Lille the lead. Payet then chested the ball down from a Hazard cross and volleyed home to make it 2-0 and it took a couple of fine saves by Ali Ahamada to keep Toulouse in contention. They reduced the arrears on the hour when Serge Aurier netted from close range as Lille sat back and waited for counter-attacking opportunities. On one of them, Toulouse’s Pantxi Sirieix got a straight red card for a rough tackle on Nolan Roux in the 83rd minute.—Reuters

Sao Paulo rally to defeat Ituano 4-2 SAO PAULO: Sao Paulo erased a two-goal deficit to beat Ituano 4-2 on Sunday and retain the lead in the Sao Paulo state championship on another weekend overshadowed by a death in Brazilian football. In Goiania, Vila Nova defeated Goias 3-2 a day after a 23year-old Goias supporter was shot dead in a confrontation between rival groups from both clubs, becoming the fourth fatality resulting from fan violence in less than a month in Brazil. In other matches, former Portugal striker Liedson scored twice as Brazil champion Corinthians beat Oeste 3-0, while defending Sao Paulo state champion Santos beat Portuguesa 2-0 despite playing without striker Neymar. In the Rio Cup, the second stage of the Rio de Janeiro tournament, Vagner Love scored twice in Flamengo’s 2-1 win over Bangu, while Fluminense and Botafogo drew 1-1 in a match in which Argentine striker German Herrera twice hit the post, including in second-half injury time. Ituano led 2-0 after 32 minutes after goals from Anderson Salles in the 10th minute and an an own goal by Rhodolfo, but the Sao Paulo defender rebounded with goals in the 56th and 60th to equalize at the Novelli Junior stadium in Itu. Brazil playmaker Lucas put Sao Paulo ahead in the 67th and young striker Willian Jose secured the victory in the 76th. With two rounds left before the playoffs, Sao Paulo is level with Corinthians with 40 points, but is ahead on goal difference. Santos is four points behind in third place, and Palmeiras is five points off the lead in fourth. The top eight clubs in the 20-team standings advance to the playoff round. For Corinthians, Liedson ended his 13-game drought when he scored in the 10th and 90th minutes. “It’s a big relief to have scored again,” Liedson said. “It will make things easier for me going forward.” Forward Willian scored the other goal for Corinthians in the 64th. Oeste played a man down after defender Neno was sent off with a second yellow card in the 32nd minute. Defending champion Santos beat Portuguesa at the Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo despite playing with a second-string team. Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso and the rest of the starters were rested ahead of the team’s match against fellow Brazilian club Internacional in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday. On Saturday, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Palmeiras struggled and lost 1-0 to Mirassol at home. Striker Preto scored a 63rd-minute winner for Mirassol at the Pacaembu stadium. In Rio, midfielder Elkeson opened the scoring for Botafogo in the 18th, but striker Fred equalized for Fluminense in the 36th at the Engenhao stadium. Herrera nearly broke the deadlock two minutes into second-half injury time, but his header struck the post. He had already hit the woodwork with a low shot in the 63rd with Fluminense goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri beaten on the play. “Cavalieri needs to go kiss the post today,” Herrera said. “He is a very good goalkeeper, but he was lucky in those two plays.”—AP

Kenenisa Bekele

Legend Bekele to race Doha Diamond League DOHA: Ethiopian running legend Kenenisa Bekele will start his campaign for a fourth Olympic gold this summer by running the 3000m at the opening Diamond League meet of the season on May 11 here. The defending 5000m and 10,000m Olympic champion, and world record-holder in both events, has spent almost two years on the sidelines due to a string of injuries, making his comeback last September when he won the 10,000m in Brussels. In his first ever outing in Doha, the Ethiopian will race the 3000m-an event he has not competed in since his triumph at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki in September 2009. “The presence of Kenenisa Bekele is officially confirmed,” meeting director Abdulla al-Zaini announced yesterday. “The outdoor season will once again start from Doha and this year the challenge looks bigger, as 2012 is an Olympic year.” The women’s 3000m will feature the reigning world champion in both the 5000m and 10,000m, Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot will be joined by team-mate Pamela Jelimo, the Olympic 800m champion and recently-crowned world indoor champion. Other big names on show will be Ethiopia’s world 1500m

indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba and Doha-based Sudanese Abubaker Kaki, world silver medallist and 2010 world indoor champion in the men’s 800m, who will race the 1500m as he targets double Olympic gold in London. Kaki will face stiff Kenyan opposition from current Olympic and world champion Asbel Kiprop, 2011 world silver medallist Silas Kiplagat and world indoor silver medallist Augustine Choge. Three initially non-scheduled events, the men’s 100m, 800m and 3000m, were added to the programme as organisers sought to better fill the stadium of the Qatar Sports Club. “Our biggest challenge is to attract more spectators for this meeting,” said Sandro Giovanelli, athletes’ consultant for the meet. This year we are willing to present the best ever event to the public. We are confident that we will have more star athletes than last year.” Last year’s Diamond League meeting featured no US or Jamaican sprinters of note because it clashed with the Jamaica International Invitational meeting in Kingston, which has been upgraded from ‘continental’ to an IAAF World Challenge Meeting.—AFP

Bekele to race Doha Diamond League

Mahan wins Houston Open




Barca wary of Milan as records beckon

Page 18

LONDON: Manchester United’s English forward Ashley Young (right) scores the second goal during the English Premier League football match against Blackburn Rovers. —AFP

United extend lead over City Blackburn 0

Man United 2

BLACKBURN: Manchester United went five points clear at the top of the Premier League after late goals by Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young sealed a 2-0 win at struggling Blackburn yesterday. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side looked set for an evening of frustration at Ewood Park as an entertaining game appeared to be heading towards a goalless draw. But Valencia broke the deadlock in the 81st minute with a sublime finish from an acute angle before Young sealed United’s 10th win in 11 topflight games five minutes later from the edge of the area. The result leaves United clear

favorites to secure a fifth title in six seasons. They will go eight points clear at the summit if they defeat QPR at Old Trafford in their next match as nearest rivals Manchester City are not in action until late Sunday afternoon. With the title race at a critical stage, Ferguson had attempted to ease the pressure on his players by taking them on a golfing weekend to St Andrews. And it looked like the trip to Scotland had the desired affect as the visitors dominated the opening exchanges at a ground where they had won just twice in their previous 11 top-flight visits. With their 7,000 travelling fans in buoyant mood and clearly sensing a shift in momentum in the title race, Javier Hernandez twice went close in the opening 10 minutes. Blackburn had already survived a narrow escape after Hernandez spurned a fine chance from close range following a delightful Wayne Rooney pass when the Mexican hit the post five minutes later after connecting with Valencia’s low cross at

the near post. Hernandez wheeled away believing he had scored but was left holding his hands on his head after realising his shot had come back off the post and hit Paul Robinson, the Blackburn keeper reacting quickly to prevent the ball crossing the line. It was the closest United came to scoring in a goalless first-half. Blackburn were guilty of affording Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick too much space while Valencia was proving United’s main source of ammunition from the left flank. Yet this was a night where the leaders were required to show patience. Carrick fired narrowly over from long range before United keeper David de Gea, who was dropped after Blackburn’s shock 3-2 win at Old Trafford at the end of December, made the first of three excellent saves by denying Junior Hoilett from 25yards in the 18th minute. Phil Jones helped save Rovers from relegation last season. But the England international let his former club off the hook on his first return to

Atalanta player held over match-fixing ROME: Atalanta’s Andrea Masiello has been arrested in a new probe into match-fixing in Italian football. Bari prosecutors had ordered an investigation into match-fixing involving the city’s club following new evidence that players were paid bribes to help determine the outcome of various matches. Masiello, a defender, was arrested at his home in Bergamo and taken to Bari for questioning. He later admitted under questioning to have scored an own goal in a 2-0 defeat top Lecce in return for 50,000-euros. He spent three years at Bari before joining Atalanta last summer. Two other men, Giovanni Carella and Fabio Giacobbe, who were friends of Masiello and placed bets, were also arrested. Prosecutors are looking into five Bari matches from the last two seasons and are investigating nine ex-Bari players, including Masiello. In total 20 people are being investigated. As well as Masiello, Daniele Portanova, Alessandro Parisi, Simone Bentivolgio, Marco Rossi, Abdelkader Ghezzal, who now plays in Spain with Levante, Marco Esposito, Antonio Bellavista and Nicola Belmonte are under investigation. One of the primary matches under investigation is the one against Lecce which Masiello helped fix. “For Bari v Lecce on May 15, 2011, we’ve ascertained during the investigation that guarantees were made and then exchanged for money at the end of the game,” said Bari prosecutor Antonio Laudati. Lecce won that match 20, ensuring they avoided relegation. Other matches under investigation are a 3-0 win over Genoa and a 3-3 draw at Udinese in May 2010, as well as a 1-0 defeat to Cesena on

Andrea Masiello April 17 last year and a 4-0 win at Bologna on the last day of that season. Former Bari midfielder Rossi, who now plays for Cesena, told investigators that at the end of last season players were approached by some of the club’s ‘ultra’ fans. They were told to lose the next two games, against Cesena and Sampdoria, because the ultras had placed bets on a pair of defeats. Rossi claims that despite being threatened, the players refused to comply, although they did lose both those games, condemning them to relegation. Speaking to a sports radio station, Bari general manager Claudio Garzelli moved to distance the club from any wrong-doing. “These measures do not change in any way the scenario that has been created around our club,” he said. “We took a very decisive position and maybe we were the first to speculate that all those people hanging around our players were involved in match-fixing. — AFP

Ewood Park since joining United last summer when he headed wastefully wide following another excellent cross from the tireless Valencia. Former England goalkeeper Robinson was at his best in the second-half to frustrate Rafael da Silva’s rasping diagonal strike before de Gea almost allowed Blackburn to make a 61st minute breakthrough. Morten Gamst Pedersen did find the net for Rovers with an excellent finish from the edge of the are but the goal was ruled out after the ball was adjudged to have gone out of play before Steven Nzonzi crossed for the Norwegian international. But United sealed victory with two goals in the closing stages. Rovers keeper Robinson will feel he should have done better for Valencia’s goal, a powerful ambitious effort nine minutes from time after Rafael’s pass. Substitute Young made sure with a well-executed finish from the edge of the area to send Blackburn back into the relegation zone.—AFP

Spanish League result/standings Sevilla 3 (Negredo 51, Manu 62, Jesus Navas 68) Real Mallorca 1 (Hemed 74) Spanish League table after yesterday’s match (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Real Madrid Barcelona Valencia Malaga Levante Osasuna Atletico Sevilla Espanyol Getafe Bilbao Vallecano Mallorca Sociedad Betis Granada Villarreal Zaragoza Racing Sporting

30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30 30

25 22 13 14 13 10 11 11 11 10 9 1 9 10 10 10 7 7 4 6

3 6 9 5 6 13 9 9 8 9 11 4 9 6 5 4 11 7 13 7

2 100 2 86 8 46 11 44 11 42 7 35 10 42 10 36 11 37 11 31 10 44 15 42 12 32 14 36 15 35 16 28 12 30 16 27 13 23 17 29

27 22 37 43 41 46 35 32 39 39 42 53 40 45 43 46 42 52 45 56

78 72 48 47 45 43 42 42 41 39 38 37 36 36 35 34 32 28 25 25

EPL result/standings Blackburn 0 Manchester United 2 (Valencia 81, Young 86) English Premier League table after yesterday’s match (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Man United Man City Arsenal Tottenham Chelsea Newcastle Everton Liverpool Sunderland Fulham

31 31 31 31 31 31 31 31 31 31

24 22 18 17 15 15 12 11 11 10

4 5 4 7 8 8 7 9 8 9

3 4 9 7 8 8 12 11 12 12

76 75 62 56 53 46 32 36 42 39

27 25 41 36 36 42 32 33 37 42

76 71 58 58 53 53 43 42 41 39

Swansea 31 Norwich 31 Stoke 31 W Bromwich 31 Aston Villa 30 Bolton 30 QPR 31 Blackburn 31 Wigan 31 Wíhampton 31

10 10 10 10 7 9 7 7 6 5

9 9 8 6 12 2 7 7 10 7

12 12 13 15 11 19 17 17 15 19

35 42 29 36 33 36 35 43 29 33

39 49 43 43 42 60 54 64 55 68

39 39 38 36 33 29 28 28 28 22

Real Madrid Academy kicks off

KUWAIT: The Real Madrid Academy kicked off officially in Kuwait after an announcement was made during a press conference Sunday evening at the Marina Hotel featuring coaches of former Kuwait National Team members. The announcement was made by Dr. Adel Al-Yousifi, representing the Late Hajj Eissa Husain Al-Yousifi Charitable Foundation which signed an agreement last January with Real Madrid to obtain the right of establishing football academies in Kuwait. After a speech from Al-Yousifi in which he spoke about the relationship between his foundation and the Spanish football club, coach Meshal Al-Dousary expressed

gratitude to the foundation for their efforts in making Kuwait part of Real Madrid’s worldwide network of academies. Al-Dousary also noted that the coaching staff at the academy are all Kuwaitis who received special training at the new Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas, Madrid, Spain. Meanwhile, director of the Real Madrid Academy in Kuwait Yaqoub Al-Mansour explained that the first training course kicks off on April 15, 2012, and lasts for 12 weeks at the Kuwait Science Club Stadium in South Surra. He added that children aged between 7 and 14 are eligible to enter the training which will go in an average of 4.5 hours a week.

Sevilla beat Mallorca 3-1 SEVILLE: Sevilla scored three second-half goals to beat Mallorca 31 yesterday, recording a third straight victory to move within reach of the European places in the Spanish League. Goals from Alvaro Negredo, Manu del Moral and Jesus Navas left Sevilla tied with Atletico Madrid one point behind sixth-place Osasuna, which is in the last Europa League place. Negredo scored in the 51st minute from Navas’ corner, and Del Moral doubled the lead at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in the 62nd with a well-placed shot inside the far post. Sevilla winger Jose Antonio Reyes sliced a pass through the defense to meet Navas’ run into the area, and the Spain forward tapped the ball into the net in the 68th. Israel striker Tomer Hemed met Pablo Caceres’ cross at the near post to score a consolation goal for Mallorca in the 78th. Spanish leader Real Madrid won 5-1 at Osasuna to maintain its sixpoint advantage over second-place Barcelona, which won 2-0 against Athletic Bilbao. — AP

The Real Madrid Academy press conference being held on Sunday evening at the Marina Hotel.

Iraq’s Kurds halt oil exports over payment dispute Page 22

Kuwait equities perk up on new buying interest Page 24


Foreign investors warn India PM over tax plan Page 25

‘Larry,’ Quaker of Oatmeal fame, gets a makeover Page 23

DUBAI: A general view of the Dubai DryDocks seen from the sea in Dubai, United Arab Emirates yesterday. Dubai’s shipyard operator DryDocks World has filed a claim with a special tribunal in the city-state as part of an effort to push forward its $2.2 billion debt restructuring. —AP (See Page 22)

Oil may jump to $150pb if Iran attacked: Expert Geopolitical events impact prices: Sheikh Fahad KUWAIT: Prices of oil will not drop below level of $100 per barrel and may jump to $150 pb in the coming two months, according to the prominent Kuwaiti expert, Sheikh Fahad Al-Daoud Al-Sabah. Sheikh Fahad, a specialist in oil refining strategies, said in an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) geopolitical events became the major factor influencing oil prices, at present, indicating at dwindling impact of other factors, such supply and demand and market speculations. He said the prices would not drop lower than $100 pb and might soar to $150 pb, in the coming two months, but may jump as high as $250pb in case Iran was targeted with a military strike, although such an eventuality was unlikely in the foreseeable future. Price of the oil will remain unstable

unless the Iranian issue is resolved and Tehran allows international inspectors examine its nuclear facilities and review its nuclear program, said Sheikh Fahad AlDaoud, noting that the main current factor affecting the prices of the crude was imposition of curbs on the Iranian crude oil trade. On OPEC’S role for stemming hikes of the oil prices, Al-Daoud said “certain problems” have hampered the cartel efforts in this respect, namely the fact that Iran is a a major and influential member of the organization and has supporters among the members. Elaborating in this regard, Sheikh Fahad indicated at difficult status of the GCC states, where in case they increased the oil production, Iran would consider such a step as hostile and if not, they would be showered with accusations about pur-

ported intentions to hard the world economy. The Kuwaiti expert affirmed that OPEC was in a very difficult condition as to the available options and scenarios; facing pressure from Iran as a result of the curbs and counter pressures from Western powers. Nevertheless, the organization should seek to stem the prices, he stressed. He questioned whether OPEC could seek to pump more supplies into the market, in the shadow of the existing glut, and indicated at disarrays among the members as to the best options that should be chosen to cope with the crisis. Despite existence of the surplus on the market, the price is likely to increase, he affirmed. “The world is moving on a certain pace, the equation is hard, and the storm cannot be resisted to stabilize the prices,” he opined further. On bleak scenario that would result from possible clo-

sure of the strategic Hormuz strait, he indicated that the UAE has already started building a pipeline to secure exports of the crude from a route other than the waterway. He called on the other regional oil producers to follow Abu Dhabi’s suit, “for it is senseless that the Arab Gulf oil remains subject to status of Hormuz Strait.” On comeback of the Libyan oil experts and reports about new explorations in some countries, Sheikh Fahad Al-Daoud said such factors would lead to limited impact on the market and would, to a certain extent, contribute in stemming the prices. Currently, there are huge supplies, in the face of high demand, and that is likely to hike further, he forecast, stressing that the price would certainly not drop below the level of $100 pb-even if the curbs on the Iranian oil are lifted. —KUNA

Euro-zone unemployment hits record as crisis bites

BRUSSELS: Eurozone unemployment jumped to an all-time high in February, hitting southern nations the hardest as the social toll from the debt crisis grips the 17nation bloc, official figures showed yesterday. The jobless rate rose for the 10th consecutive month and at 10.8 percent set a 15-year record for the single currency area, according to the Eurostat data agency. Euro-zone leaders have vowed to pursue growth and jobs strategies to fend off a looming recession but they insist that unpopular budget cuts and structural reforms must continue in order to restore market confidence after two years of crisis. In another sign that recession is gripping the region, a key survey showed that manufacturing activity dropped to a three-month low in March, with the “malaise” spreading to top economies Germany and France. “It looks odds-on that euro-zone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012 after a drop of 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight. “The prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy,” he said, adding that unemployment also appears “odds-on” to top 11 percent in 2012. Eurostat estimated that more than 17.1 million men and women were out of work in February, 162,000 more than a month earlier and 1.48 million more than a year ago. The seasonallyadjusted unemployment rate also rose to a record in the wider, 27-nation European Union, hitting 10.2 percent in February compared to 10.1 percent the previous month. An estimated 24.55 million people were unem-

ployed in the EU, an increase of 1.87 million from February 2011. “Soaring unemployment is clearly adding to the pressure on household incomes from aggressive fiscal tightening in the region’s periphery,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics research firm. “But even in Germany, survey measures of hiring point to a downturn to come and with inflation remaining stubbornly high throughout the eurozone, there is very little hope of a consumer recovery,” McKeown said. The unemployment rate rose in 18 EU states and fell in eight compared to a year ago. It remained stable in Romania. Spain remained the worst affected, with the highest rate at 23.6 percent, followed by bailed-out Greece at 21 percent, Portugal at 15 percent and Ireland at 14.7 percent. Italy hit a record 9.3 percent. Highlighting the North-South divide, the states with the lowest rates were Austria on 4.2 percent, the Netherlands 4.9 percent, Luxembourg 5.2 percent and Germany 5.7 percent. Unemployment is highest among young people, with data showing one in five persons under 25 looking for work in the eurozone, mainly in southern nations. One in two young Spaniards or Greeks are unemployed. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, meanwhile defended the debt-fighting strategy, insisting that the reforms undertaken by governments are crucial and take time to bear fruit. “We must combat the crisis in all its fronts,” Amadeu Altafaj, the commission’s economic affairs spokesman, told a news conference, stressing that growth policies were part of the strategy.— AFP

ROME: Workers pause at a building construction site in Rome yesterday. The number of people looking for work in the 17 countries that use the euro hit its highest level since the currency was introduced back in 1999, official figures showed.—AP

Spain vows to stick to 2012 deficit target

MADRID: Spain will stick to its public deficit target for this year, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said yesterday, calling it absolutely indispensable. “Reducing the public deficit to 5.3 percent this year is absolutely indispensable, a goal which we will not renounce,” he said as he defended his conservative government’s budget for 2012 at a meeting of his Popular Party. Rajoy’s budget for 2012 — approved by his cabinet on Friday-includes 27 billion euros $36 billion) worth of spending cuts and tax hikes. It is Spain’s most austere budget since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975. The budget freezes public sector wages, raises taxes on tobacco and closes tax loopholes and rebates for large companies. But pensions and jobless benefits were spared amid rising public anger at the dire economic situation where unemployment has soared to over 23 percent. Most analysts say Spain will need austerity measures worth around 50 billion euros if it is to meet its deficit target for this year. This means regional and municipal governments will have to make spending cuts as well on top of the austerity measures included in the central government’s budget for this year. “Regional and local governments will also have to make an effort, they also most reduce their public deficit and their spending,” Rajoy said during a speech to mark his first 100 days in office. “It is not the time to build pavilions, highways, airports,” he added in a reference to the infrastructure building spree by local governments in the run-up to collapse of a property bubble in 2008 that sent the Spanish economy into a tailspin. Spain’s 17 regional governments, which are responsible for healthcare and education, ended 2011 with a public deficit equal to 2.94 percent of national gross domestic product. The central government has set a deficit target for the regional governments this year of 1.5 percent. Spainwhich overshot its public deficit target last year-is racing to slash it so as to reassure markets that it will not follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in requesting an international bailout. The country posted a public deficit-the broad shortfall between spending and revenues-of 8.51 percent of GDP in 2011, far above the target for the year of 6.0 percent. The European Union has agreed to let Spain aim for a public deficit equal to 5.3 percent, a much less-demanding goal than the original 4.4 percent agreed by the previous Socialist government with Brussels. But meeting the deficit target is complicated by the fact that Spain is heading back into recession, with the government predicting the economy will contract by 1.7 percent this year. “Spain is going to be in the place that it deserves, it is going to once again be a country that meets its targets,” said Rajoy, who won power in a landslide general election in November. — AFP



DBS eyes Indonesia with $7.3bn bank purchase SINGAPORE: Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings yesterday announced plans to buy Indonesia’s PT Bank Danamon for Sg$9.1 billion ($7.3 billion) to ramp up its business in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. DBS will pay Sg$6.2 billion for the 67.37 percent stake held by a subsidiary of Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings’ Fullerton Financial Holdings and will finance the purchase through the issuance of new stock. DBS will also launch a cash offer of Sg$2.9 billion for the rest of the shares in the Indonesian commercial bank, which will be financed from internal cash resources and future debt issuances, DBS said in a statement. Temasek will not be totally out of the picture after the share sale-it currently

has a 29.5 percent stake in DBS and this will rise to slightly above 40 percent after the deal is completed, a DBS spokeswoman told AFP. The bank has been looking to grow its Asian business in recent years and the proposed acquisition of Danamon is its biggest deal since the 2001 purchase of Hong Kong’s Dao Heng Bank for Sg$10 billion. DBS said the purchase, which it expects to complete in the second half of this year, would immediately create the fifth largest lender in Indonesia. “Indonesia is an exciting Asian market and we believe that we will be able to contribute towards the growth of the Indonesian banking sector,” DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said in the statement. DBS, the biggest bank in Southeast Asia by assets, in February

reported net profit for 2011 rose an annual 15 percent to a record Sg$3.04 billion as income hit a record high of Sg$7.63 billion. “Indonesia is one of the least penetrated banking markets in the world,” Gupta said in a media teleconference from Jakarta after the deal was announced. “It has got a big domestic consumption economy so you got a good mass market opportunity... It has got a growing middle class so you have good retail opportunity.” Henry Ho, President Director of Danamon, said in a statement that the two banks “should be complementary in many ways.” Danamon has a “proven ability in serving the under-penetrated mass market segment in Indonesia,” he said. “We believe DBS has strengths in corporate banking,

capital markets, trade finance and investment management. If this transaction materializes, Danamon will work closely with DBS to become a dynamic Asian banking franchise.” DBS said Danamon, a full-ser vice bank, has about 3,000 branches and outlets with a customer base of six million in a country of 240 million people. DBS will issue 439 million new shares at an issue price of Sg$14.07 each to pay for Temasek’s 67.37 percent stake. The Singapore bank also said its Sg$2.9-billion cash offer for the remaining PT Bank Danamon stock is the equivalent of 7,000 Indonesian rupiah per share to minority shareholders. It represents a 56.3 percent premium over the Indonesian bank’s one-month volume weighted average price of 4,480

Indonesian rupiah per share. “To me, it’s a fairly priced deal, but for anybody to come and top this price, they will really have to pay something over the top,” Gupta said in the media conference. Justin Harper, a strategist with IG Markets Singapore, said it was too early to assess if DBS paid a fair price for the bank. “Indonesia is a fast-growing market with one of the world’s biggest populations,” Harper told AFP. “As personal wealth and household incomes grow, so too will their need for banking services. “As for paying a fair price, difficult to say at this stage... But I think Gupta is a shrewd CEO who has done his calculations well and will be keen not to overpay for Danamon,” Harper added. — AFP

Dubai shipbuilder turns to court on debt deal Bid to push $2.2bn restructuring DUBAI: Dubai’s shipyard operator DryDocks World has filed a claim with a special tribunal in the city-state as part of an effort to push forward its $2.2 billion debt restructuring. Court records show the Dubai World Tribunal is scheduled to hear a case yesterday filed by the company involving Decree No. 57, a law issued by Dubai’s ruler in 2009. The company made the filing Sunday. The legislation allows subsidiaries of state conglomerate Dubai World such as DryDocks World to apply for protection from creditors through the court. It also includes a provision that a restructuring plan approved by two-thirds of lenders can become binding on all creditors. DryDocks World is expected to release more details of the restructuring later. On Saturday, the company said a “significant

majority” - but not all - of its creditors had signed on to the debt restructuring plan. DryDocks Worlds has been wrangling with lenders for months to hammer out new terms on the debt. The negotiations have been complicated by a lawsuit by one of its creditors, Monarch Alternative Capital, which was seeking about $45 million. A British court ruled in Monarch’s favor earlier this year. By turning to the tribunal, DryDocks World appears to be trying to secure legal approval for its turnaround effort despite the objections of some creditors. Its chairman, Khamis Juma Buamim, said Saturday he is confident the lack of support from a minority of creditors will not affect the restructuring effort. DryDocks World operates the Middle East’s

Qatar keeps May crude supply to Asia steady TOKYO: Qatar, one of OPEC’s smallest producers, has notified at least one Asian buyer that it will supply Marine and Land crude at full contracted volumes for May, unchanged from April levels, a trade source said yesterday. The move was expected as Qatar has been supplying both

grades to customers at full contracted volumes since 2009. Qatar gave buyers the option of asking for cargoes to be 5 percent more or less than contracted volumes, the same as the previous month, the source added. Oil refiners must decide

whether to exercise the option to offset declines in Iranian crude imports due to US pressure. The market is also paying attention to the monthly supply plan announcement for May by top supplier Saudi Arabia, which could come later this week. —Reuters

Japan auto sales soared record 78.2% in March TOKYO: Japanese automobile sales saw their biggest-ever monthly surge in March, data showed yesterday, a year after domestic demand plummeted in the wake of the country’s quake-tsunami disaster. Sales of new vehicles with engines above 660cc stood at 497,959 last month, up a record 78.2 percent from March 2011, and marking the seventh consecutive rise, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said. The figures, also boosted by government subsidies for eco-friendly vehicles, include large vehicles such as lorries and buses as well as cars. “The sharp gain was exceptional because it was mainly due to a considerable plunge in March last year when the disaster struck the countr y,” an association spokesman said. New vehicle purchases slumped 37.0 per-

cent in March last year following the earthquake-tsunami, but have since staged a recover y with rises of 31.9 percent in February and 40.7 percent in January. January was the first complete month of sales after Tokyo re-introduced subsidies for eco-friendly vehicles that can cut thousands of dollars from their price tags, a move aimed at boosting the domestic automobile industry. Japanese automakers were last year pummeled by the March disasters and subsequent nuclear crisis as well as record flooding in Thailand, which disrupted supply chains. The Japan Mini Vehicles Association separately said that March sales of mini vehicles with engines below 660cc jumped 60.5 percent to 253,929 units from a year earlier, the sixth consecutive monthly rise. — AFP

largest shipyard in Dubai, where it builds and repairs ships and oil drilling rigs. It also owns shipyards in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as other Asian businesses including a fleet of more than 100 vessels, including tankers, cargo ships, tugboats and barges. Its parent company, Dubai World, sent markets reeling in 2009 when it acknowledged it couldn’t pay back billions it owed. It signed an agreement to restructure some $25 billion in debt last March, but Dr yDocks World was excluded from that process. A panel of three judges from Britain and Singapore preside over the Dubai World Tribunal, which was set up in 2009 to handle cases involving the finances of the debt-laden conglomerate. —AP

Malaysia’s CIMB acquires RBS bank’s Asia assets KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings said yesterday it had bought some of the Asian assets of Royal Bank of Scotland for 849.4 million ringgit ($278.4 million). Malaysia’s number two lender said the purchase will allow it to set up new investment banking units in Taiwan and Australia and expand its business in Hong Kong, India and China. “This is an excellent opportunity to complete the build-up of our capabilities in Asia Pacific markets, and to do it quicker and less expensively than if we grew organically,” Nazir Razak, CIMB’s group chief executive said in a statement. CIMB said the deal will make CIMB the largest investment banking franchise based in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan. The firm said it will look to set up new operations in Korea soon and expects to employ about 350-400 staff from RBS. CIMB Group is Malaysia’s second largest financial services provider and one of ASEAN’s leading universal banking groups. The sale to CIMB comes after the Edinburgh-based lender in February revealed that net losses ballooned to almost £2.0 billion ($3.2 billion) in 2011 owing to the Greek debt crisis, restructuring costs and compensation linked to insurance mis-selling. RBS, 82-percent owned by the British government after a massive bailout in 2008, is offloading non-core assets as it seeks to return to profitability. It had previously agreed to sell its aircraft leasing division to Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp for $7.3 billion. — AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussein al-Shahristani (left) and Oil Minister Abdelkarim Al-Luaybi hold a joint press conference in Baghdad yesterday. Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has halted crude exports in a row with Baghdad, owes the central government more than $5 billion and is smuggling the oil it produces through Iran. — AFP

Iraq’s Kurds halt oil exports over payment dispute BAGHDAD: Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region has halted oil exports over a payment row with the central government in Baghdad, the latest dispute in a long-troubled relationship between the two administrations. Furious over the move, Baghdad yesterday accused the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq of withholding billions of dollars in oil payments from state coffers and smuggling crude oil and petroleum products out of the country for sale abroad. The Kurds have unilaterally struck scores of deals with oil companies in recent years, even though Baghdad says they have no right to do so. The two sides struck a tentative deal in 2011 by which the Kurds send the oil to Baghdad, which sells it, and each side then takes 50 percent of the revenues. The Kurds announced late Sunday that they have halted oil exports from their region because of a payment dispute with Baghdad. The region’s Ministry of Natural Resources said in a statement that Baghdad failed to send any money since May, even though the region had been exporting 50,000 barrels per day. The statement said only two payments of $514 million have been made, and that the last took place in May 2011. “After consultation with the producing companies, the ministry has reluctantly decided to halt exports until further notice,” the ministry said. “There have been no payments for 10 months, nor any indication from federal authorities that payments are forthcoming.” It added that oil exports will be resumed once the payment issue is resolved, and

that the production in the interim will be diverted to the local market for processing and refining to generate an alternate source of cash flow for the producing companies. Yesterday, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Hussain Al-Shahristani, said the Kurds’ decision to halt oil exports will affect the 2012 national budget. He also accused Kurdish authorities of smuggling huge amounts of oil to neighboring countries, mainly Iran, or selling it on the local market. The Kurds, he charged, were withholding about $5.65 billion in revenues generated from unreported oil sales since 2010. “Where the money went, I don’t know,” he said. Last week, Iraq’s Finance Minister Rafia Al-Issawi said Baghdad already approved payment of $560 million to oil producers in the Kurdish region but it was awaiting final audits. Oil Minister Abdul-Karim Elaibi blamed the Kurds for the delay in payment, saying they were not cooperating in offering the audits for all the oil so that Baghdad can pay. “The last meeting took place more than one month ago and since then (our) committee was denied access (to the region),” Elaibi said. The Kurds are at odds with the Baghdad government on a host of issues, ranging from the development of oil resources in the autonomous Kurdish region to the status of disputed areas, including the oil hub of Kirkuk. Tensions between the two have increased since last November when the Kurds announced that US giant Exxon Mobil signed a deal to explore for oil in the region. — AP

EXCHANGE RATES Commercial Bank of Kuwait US Dollar/KD GB Pound/KD Euro Swiss francs Canadian Dollar Australian DLR Indian rupees Sri Lanka Rupee UAE dirhams Bahraini dinars Jordanian dinar Saudi riyals Omani riyals Philippine peso Egyptian pounds

.2730000 .4410000 .3680000 .3050000 .2760000 .2860000 .0040000 .0020000 .0752410 .7330540 .3830000 .0710000 .7186270 .0040000 .0430000

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES US Dollar/KD .2764000 GB Pound/KD .4432900 Euro .3688010 Swiss francs .3062940 Canadian dollars .2768980 Danish Kroner .0495620 Swedish Kroner .0417950 Australian dlr .2871800 Hong Kong dlr .0355930 Singapore dlr .2203970 Japanese yen .0033450 Indian Rs/KD .0000000 Sri Lanka rupee .0000000 Pakistan rupee .0000000 Bangladesh taka .0000000 UAE dirhams .0752830 Bahraini dinars .7334480 Jordanian dinar .0000000 Saudi Riyal/KD .0737260 Omani riyals .7182020 Philippine Peso .0000000

.2805000 .4510000 .3750000 .3140000 .2860000 .2980000 .0070000 .0035000 .0759970 .7404210 .4000000 .0760000 .7258490 .0072000 .0500000 .2800000 .4490640 .3736040 .3102840 .2805050 .0502070 .0423390 .2909200 .0360570 .2232680 .0033890 .0055430 .0021880 .0031020 .0034370 .0762630 .7430010 .3960400 .0746870 .7275560 .0066050

US Dollar Pak Rupees

Rate per 1000 (Tran)

278.200 3.069

Indian Rupee Sri Lankan Rupee Nepali Rupee Pakistani Rupee UAE Dirhams Bahraini Dinar Egyptian Pound Jordanian Dinar Omani Riyal Qatari Riyal Saudi Riyal

5.465 2.180 3.404 6.520 75.850 74.345 739.600 46.035 451.000 3.190 1.550 376.900 284.300 3.510

Rate for Transfer

US Dollar Canadian Dollar Sterling Pound Euro Swiss Frank Bahrain Dinar UAE Dirhams Qatari Riyals Saudi Riyals Jordanian Dinar Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupees Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Pesso Cyprus pound Japanese Yen Thai Bhat Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit

Transfer Rate (Per 1000)

US Dollar Euro Pound Sterling Canadian Dollar Japanese Yen Indian Rupee Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupee Bangladesh Taka Philippines Peso Pakistan Rupee Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham Saudi Riyal

5.468 2.170 3.426 3.071 75.74 740.40 46.07 396.00 723.41 76.76 74.32

5.700 2.600 4.000 3.195 76.30 739.00 47.10 394.00 725.00 77.15 74.75

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

Al Mulla Exchange Currency

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. Currency

Indian Rupees Sri Lankan Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Peso UAE Dirhams Saudi Riyals Bahraini Dinars Egyptian Pounds Pound Sterling Indonesian Rupiah Yemeni Riyal Euro Canadian Dollars Nepali rupee

277.950 373.300 446.900 280.800 3.390 5.469 46.040 2.166 3.400 6.495 3.070 740.300 75.750 74.250

UAE Exchange Centre WLL COUNTRY


Australian Dollar Canadian Dollar Swiss Franc Euro Sterling Pound Japanese Yen Bangladesh Taka

294.09 283.56 313.35 374.74 449.23 3.43 3.398

293.00 283.00 312.00 374.00 447.00 3.70 3.650

Selling Rate

279.050 282.725 443.005 367.850 304.965 738.960 76.950 76.595 74.375 392.800 46.252 2.226 5.556 3.081 3.412 6.502 684.499 4.340 9.165 5.875 3.555 92.335

Canadian dollar Cyprus pound Czek koruna Danish krone Deutsche Mark Egyptian pound Euro Cash Hongkong dollar Indian rupees Indonesia Iranian tuman Iraqi dinar Japanese yen Jordanian dinar Lebanese pound Malaysian ringgit Morocco dirham Nepalese Rupees New Zealand dollar Nigeria Norwegian krone Omani Riyal Pakistani rupees Philippine peso Qatari riyal Saudi riyal Singapore dollar South Africa Sri Lankan rupees Sterling pound Swedish krona Swiss franc Syrian pound Thai bhat Tunisian dollar UAE dirham U.S. dollars Yemeni Riyal

Bahrain Exchange Company 10 Tola COUNTRY


Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka

293.000 740.400 3.660

282.700 546.800 45.400 50.900 167.800 47.430 375.000 36.570 5.750 0.032 0.159 0.238 3.460 394.550 0.188 92.800 45.700 4.280 231.800 1.804 50.100 723.150 3.140 6.800 77.010 74.330 223.160 38.680 2.653 449.100 43.100 311.700 4.200 9.400 198.263 75.910 278.800 1.340 GOLD 1,747.980


291.500 740.400 3.400

Sterling Pound US Dollar

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 447.100 278.400


223.200 46.072 373.500 36.420 5.465 0.031

394.500 0.187 92.800 3.440 230.300 722.970 3.075 6.515 76.580 74.330 223.160 38.680 2.170 447.100 310.200 4.200 9.240 75.810 278.400



Kuwait GDP up to 4.4% for 2012 on higher oil output NBK ECONOMIC REPORT KUWAIT: The performance of the Kuwaiti economy continues to be a mixed bag. Surging oil revenues are once again generating spectacular budget and trade surpluses, while providing a degree of stability as other parts of the world are savaged by debt crises and austerity. On the other hand, however, a combination of structural weaknesses and legacy issues from the financial crisis are holding the economy back. Growth will likely be sustained at a reasonable pace over the next couple of years. But in order to make the transition to a higher growth, private sector-led economy, a more aggressive approach to economic reform is needed, while the government also needs to push on with implementation of its development plan. Oil sector output Crude oil output has jumped over the past year or so and stood close to a modern day high of 2.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) in recent months. The increase reflects partly the reversal of the deep cuts seen in 2008/09. More recently, it has been driven by the need (in conjunction with other OPEC members) to supply more crude to offset the loss of Libyan output. Kuwait’s total oil production capacity stands somewhere close to 3.2 mbpd. However, owing to production of non-crude liquids, current oil production is likely closer to capacity than the crude production figures imply. Although Libyan output has returned more swiftly than had been expected, OPEC leaders including Kuwait - have expressed no clear desire to rein in earlier production increases. Oil prices have in fact continued to rise despite the recovery in OPEC output. This reflects a combination of factors including declining global inventories, expectations of steady (if unspectacular) oil demand growth, periodic supply outages in key producers such as Nigeria, and the escalation of tensions between the international community and Iran. If Kuwait’s oil output edges back from current levels, average production this year could still end up around 5% higher than last year, above the 2% we had previously assumed. Since it accounts for about 40% of real national output, this will provide a big boost to GDP overall. Our provisional assumption for 2013 is that conditions in oil markets remain firm, supporting no change in the level of Kuwait’s hydrocarbon output. Oil prices are assumed to creep higher in annual average terms. Non-oil sector solid In contrast to the oil sector, the performance of the non-oil sector remains steady, if below potential; we see growth of 4% per year over the next couple of years. Three standout factors continue to support the non-oil economy: i) Fiscal policy. Over the past 2 years, fiscal policy has provided immense support to the economy,

though perhaps not in the area that it was most needed - investment. Headline government spending is estimated to have increased by an average of 26% per year between 2009/10 and 2011/12. Stripping out components that are not relevant from a domestic demand point of view (such as intergovernmental transfers and payments abroad), the average increase falls to a still impressive 17% per year, equivalent to around 10% of non-oil GDP per year. We estimate that well over half of this increase was focused on the consumer sector. In light of recent press reports on the preliminary budget as well as fresh proposals for public sector salary increases, a further double-digit increase in demand-impacting government spending is likely in FY12/13. ii) Consumer spending. Government spending measures have provided an important boost to consumer incomes over the past two years, helping to keep consumer spending growth strong. Measures have included the Amiri grant of KD1,000 per Kuwaiti in February 2011 and a generous round of public sector pay increases in FY2011/12. Together, these measures alone may have been worth KD 1.7 billion, equivalent to 4% of 2011 nonoil GDP. Further increases in wages and salaries look likely for FY12/13. Government pay hikes and subsidies are not the only factors keeping the consumer sector strong, however. The employment rate is high and stable, while unemployment - around 2% of the labor force at the end of 2011 - remains very low. Moreover, thanks to demographic factors as well as improving demand for expatriate workers, annual growth in the labor force remains very solid, at above 3%. All of these factors have helped to support growth in aggregate wages. Although there is limited hard data evidence, both credit growth and data from ATM and debit/credit card transactions provide confirmation of consumer sector strength. Credit growth, for example, accelerated sharply through 2011 and has now reached double digit year-on-year rates. By contrast, lending to the rest of the economy remains tentative at best. (A similar, if slightly less pronounced picture emerges if lending to troubled investment companies is excluded from the data.) iii) Confidence boost from higher oil prices. A more complex, but still valuable form of support for the non-oil economy comes from the impact of higher oil prices. Since Kuwait is a massive net oil exporter, a rise in oil prices does more than just provide a direct boost to GDP: it fundamentally, alters Kuwait’s terms of trade with the rest of the world. In practice, this manifests itself in improved confidence among consumers and producers; higher financial reserves, implying greater ability to deal with future shocks; and expectations of higher government spending in future.

The latter can lift expectations for company profits and thereby justify higher asset prices. Some of these effects have been stronger and more visible than others, with the benefits for confidence and stock market activity, for example, constrained by unrelated structural factors and legacy issues from the financial crisis. Structural improvements These macro forces should be enough to sustain a decent rate of economic activity over the next two years - no small achievement given the uncertainties surrounding the global economy. Under our oil price projections, the size of the Kuwaiti economy should reach close to $200 billion by 2013, having nearly doubled in seven years. Respectable though the growth numbers are, they could be better if the government manages to speed-up the implementation of its development program, and deliver on structural reform. So far, execution of the 4-year, KD 31 billion development plan has been slow to get going. In the first year (FY10/11), the government spent 61% of its KD 5 billion target - much of which would have been spent anyway as part of its usual annual capital spending round. A similar spending rate is expected for year two. But perhaps more importantly, the large public private partnerships (PPPs) that capture the private sector’s near 50% spending contribution to the development plan are yet to launch. These projects, if successful, would not just deliver important infrastructure upgrades for the economy, but add depth to the private sector’s role and could create thousands of new jobs. Other macroeconomic variables Beyond the activity data, Kuwait’s macroeconomic outlook continues to look very solid. After peaking at 6% in December 2010, consumer price inflation had decelerated to 3.8% by February 2012. Some of this was attributable to a deceleration in the food price component - the lagged result of the decline in global food prices seen towards the end of last year. Nevertheless, food price inflation remains high and continues to pressure inflation overall. Most of the decline came from other ‘core’ items including housing rents and household goods and services. Despite the broad strength of the consumer sector, our base case assumes that inflation remains under control this year and next, averaging 4% per year: monetary growth is modest overall, while the recent strength of the US dollar - still key in the currency basket to which the Kuwaiti dinar is pegged - should help keep import prices subdued for at least much of 2012. The authorities will, however, need to monitor the impact of recent and future wage increases on the retail sector and on businesses’ cost bases.

Myanmar starts new currency regime YANGON: Myanmar yesterday began a managed flotation of its currency, overhauling its complex exchange rate system in the new government’s most radical economic reform yet in a bid to lure investors. The central bank set a reference rate of 818 kyat to the dollar, according to an announcement on its website. The move brings the official currency rate in line with its value on the black market of about 800 to the greenback. It is part of burgeoning reforms to modernise an economy left in disarray by decades of military rule and isolation. The Central Bank of Myanmar said the reference rate was based on auctions conducted by the bank and authorised domestic dealer banks. It did not announce a limit for daily fluctuations. Announcing the move last week, the central bank said the managed floating exchange rate would allow market forces to determine the value of the kyat while leaving room for it to influence the unit’s value. Analysts said the simplified currency regime would help facilitate trade and investment as Myanmar gradually opens up. “Establishing a transparent and unified exchange rate is a first, but vital step in building confidence

in the kyat, and hence the economy,” Vishnu Varathan, an analyst at Mizuho Corporate Bank in Singapore, said in a report. “This helps provide comfort on the stability of returns on investments as well as offer some degree of principle protection.” Tony Nash, managing director of IHS Consulting, said the exchange rate move would offer some reassurance to investors. “The rate, coupled with a draft new foreign investment law, sends a clear message that Myanmar will actively pursue foreign investment in the environment of post-election political credibility,” he said. Following the end of almost half a century of junta rule last year, the country formerly known as Burma now has a nominally civilian government whose ranks are filled with exgenerals. The new regime has surprised even its critics with a series of reforms, and the currency revamp is its first major move to modernise an economy weakened by decades of mismanagement and international sanctions. The International Monetary Fund said reform of the exchange rate system was a top priority and has been offering advice. Experts saw the previous multiple-

rate system as a way for the regime to funnel revenues from natural gas sales into secret accounts by recording payments at the previous official rate of just six kyat per dollar and then exchanging them at the much higher informal rate. “A consistent and market-based kyat will help boost governance as public finances will be more transparent,” said Varathan. “This will also go a long way in bolstering the country’s balance sheet thereby shoring up credit standing, and consequently boost investor confidence.” Nash said the reform did not mean “Myanmar is a ‘safe investment’ by any stretch”, pointing to continuing problems with armed conflict, corruption and drugs. On the streets of Yangon, where illegal money changers have long flourished, people using a clutch of legal foreign exchange counters introduced last year praised the currency reforms for more down to earth reasons. “It is very convenient. It is better than the roadside because we get very clean notes,” said furniture factory worker Myo Kyaw, 25, who was buying dollars to pay for a training course. — AFP

YANGON: Myanmar bank workers counting Myanmar kyat bank notes in Yangon. Myanmar yesterday began a managed flotation of its currency, overhauling its complex exchange rate system in the new government’s most radical economic reform yet. — AFP

‘Larry,’ Quaker of Oatmeal fame, gets a makeover


he rosy-cheeked, white-haired man smiling out at you from t h e Q u a k e r O a t m e a l b ox i s getting a haircut, losing some we i g h t a n d d ro p p i n g a b o u t f i ve years from his age. Known among insiders as “Larry,” the venerable Quaker man on the logo is getting a makeover as part of a wider effort by owner PepsiCo Inc. to reinvigorate the brand globally. It hopes to keep the 134-yearold brand “fresh and innovative,” says Justin Lambeth, Quaker’s chief marketing officer. Co n s u m e r s a s s o c i a te t h e l o g o and brand with heritage, trust, and quality, says Patrick Rowell, director of strategy for Hornall Anderson, Quaker ’s brand- design firm. And to d ay, p e o p l e a s s o c i a te o a t m e a l with “energy and healthy choices,” he says. To signal these qualities in the logo without losing a sense of histor y, Hornall Anderson made small adjustments. ( The firm won’t say how much it was paid for the revamp.) Larry now shows his should e r s, m a k i n g h i m s e e m s t ro n g e r and more vibrant, says Michael Connors, Hornall Anderson’s vice

president of design. Trimming his hair makes him look lighter and his neck longer. “I t ’s the same neck ,” says Connors, but the haircut “makes him look thinner.” T h e Q u a k e r O a t s s p o k e s l o g o, L a r r y, g e t s a m a k e o v e r. S a r a h Nassauer explains why on Lunch Break. Hornall Anderson also removed his double chin and smoothed the rolls and plumpness in his face and neck. “We took about five pounds off him,” says Connors. Quaker didn’t want to make him l o o k t o o y o u n g, s o h e s t i l l h a s crow’s feet and “a little sparkle in his eye,” says Connors The color red is prominent in the new logo. Two blocks in slightly different tones form the backdrop. The s h i f t i n s h a d e s “a d d s a s e n s e o f movement,” says Connors. The logo’s new shape, and a band of gold along the bottom chevron suggest “a seal of quality” on every box, says Rowell. They also added “Est 1877” to reinforce a message of tradition, quality and trust. Subtlety was a primary aim. The “goal is not to have anyone notice that he is different,” says Connors. — The Wall Street Journal



Kuwait equities perk up on new buying interest GLOBAL DAILY MARKET REPORT KUWAIT: Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) closed higher yesterday as buying interest increased in small-caps following recent declines. The bourse suspended trading in Kuwait Finance House ahead of an expected announcement by the company. The market benchmark KSE Price Index was up by 24.9 points (or 0.40 percent), and closed at 6,189. The market’s heavyweights performed poorly during the day as highlighted by a 0.08 percent drop in the market’s bluechips-rich index, Global Large Cap Index. However, advancers topped decliners by a 53 to 20 margin, driving the Global General Index up by 0.13 percent, at 180.37. KSE Weighted Index too was up, reflecting the trend. The index closed at 417.87, up by 0.6 points (or 0.14 percent). Volume and value of shares traded on the exchange rose as investors exchanged 340.35mn shares (+40.46 percent) at a total value of KD32.25mn (+77.57 percent). Real estate sector accounted for 38.87 percent of total volume traded during yesterday’s session. Abyaar Real Estate Development Company was the volume leader for the day. Investors exchanged 65.92mn shares of the company. The scrip ended the day at KD0.0445, down 2.20 percent. In terms of top gainers, Kuwait Bahrain International Exchange Co was the top gainer for the day, adding 13.73 percent. Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait was the biggest loser, as its share price fell by 7.69 percent to close at KD0.600 Sector-wise During the session, five out of the eight

sectors ended the day on a positive note. Real Estate sector topped the gainers’ list adding 1.02 percent. The sector’s heavyweight, AlMazaya Holding Company soared by 6.41 percent to close at KD0.083. First Dubai For Real Estate Development Company was among top gainer list. The scrip closed up 7.58 percent at KD0.0355. Industrial sector followed rising by 0.69 percent on the back of National Industries Holding Group, which closed at KD0.238, up 3.48 percent. Boubyan Petrochemical

Company followed, adding 1.64 percent to close at KD0.620. On the other hand, services sector declined by 1.01 percent, as Zain Company maintained its negative performance for the second consecutive day. The scrip closed down by 2.53 percent at KD0.770. Oil news The price of OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at $120.85pb on Friday, compared with $121.57pb the previous day, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.

KPC announces LNG prices for April KUWAIT: Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) declared yesterday prices of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), propane and butane, for April. KPC said in a statement propane would be sold for $990 per metric ton in the current month, a decrease of $240 compared to March’s $1,230 per metric ton.

Butane will be sold for $995 per metric ton during April, with a fall of $185 compared to $1,180 per metric ton last month. The prices of propane and butane are affected by international oil prices and rates of the major currencies, namely the US dollar. Rates of the gas are also influenced with

political and security upheavals throughout the world, namely events in the Middle East, amid fears over possible shortages of crude supplies from the region to the world markets. Propane and butane are used for cooking, heating and production of petrochemical substances. — KUNA

Oil near $103 amid signs of China’s robust growth Oil prices fell below $103 a barrel yesterday as rising European unemployment and signs pointing to pessimism in the manufacturing sector overshadowed signals that China’s economic growth remains strong. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for May delivery was down 59 cents to $102.43 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to settle at $103.02 per barrel in New York on Friday. In London, Brent crude for May delivery was down 45 cents at $122.43 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. The unemployment rate in the 17 countries using the euro rose to 10.8 percent in February, its highest level since the currency was introduced in 1999, stoking fears that the bloc is back in recession. Also putting pressure on oil prices, a survey of the European manufacturing sector indicated a fall in activity. On the other hand, China said on Sunday that its manufacturing activities gained momentum for a fourth straight month in March. The data contradicted a report by HSBC last month that sug-

gest China’s industrial production was slowing. Increased consumption from developing countries has accounted for the majority of global crude demand growth in recent years. China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer and the surge in its demand over the last decade or so has fueled a crude price jump from $10 in 1998. “Almost the entirety of global oil demand growth will come from Brazil, India, China and Saudi Arabia,” Barclays Capital said in a report. “Demand outside those countries has not been growing at all, and we expect that pattern to continue into 2012.” Investors are also watching tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. President Barack Obama said Friday he plans to go ahead with economic sanctions against countries buying oil from Iran, while China rejected the decision, saying that Washington had no right to unilaterally punish other nations. In other energy trading, heating oil was up 0.5 cent at $3.1706 per gallon and gasoline futures rose 0.45 cent at $3.3126 per gallon. Natural gas slid 0.2 cent at $2.124 per 1,000 cubic feet. — AP

Coty launches $10bn bid for rival Avon NEW YORK: US cosmetics giant Coty yesterday launched a $10 billion offer for Avon, saying negotiations on a merger had failed and it was putting the matter to shareholders. Coty said it “has decided to make its proposal public in order to inform Avon’s shareholders of the significant value in a transaction” but added that “it has no intention of pursuing an acquisition on a hostile basis.” The cash offer of $23.25 per share “represents a very substantial premium of 27 percent over the three-month volume-weighted average price for Avon shares,” Coty said in a statement, adding that it had made “extensive but unsuccessful attempts to engage Avon in discussions.”

“Our objective is to engage in discussions with Avon and conduct due diligence so that we and Avon can together determine if there is a basis for a transaction. We believe Avon’s shareholders would want their Board to explore with us the benefits to shareholders of a transaction,” said Bart Becht, chairman of Coty, a privately held New York-based firm founded in 1904 by Frenchman Francois Coty. Coty said in a letter to Avon chairman Andrea Jung that it had made “compelling proposals... that would provide full value to your shareholders.” “We were surprised and disappointed that Avon’s board of directors has no interest in a discussion to explore our acquisition proposal.” — AP



Japan business confidence remains weak TOKYO: Confidence among major Japanese manufacturers remains weak despite the yen’s fall from historic highs and an ongoing tentative recovery following last year’s quake-tsunami, figures showed yesterday. The Bank of Japan’s closely watched quarterly Tankan survey came in at minus four, its second consecutive quarter in negative territory and below economists’ expectations for a reading of minus one. The numbers, likely to spark expectations of further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, suggest corporate managers have a cautious view of a recovery for the world’s third-biggest economy. The results were “slightly weaker than our expectations as corporate sentiment was more cautious than we had expected it to be on the economy’s outlook,” said Norio Miyagawa, Mizuho Research and Consulting senior economist. The figure represents the percentage of companies saying business conditions are good minus those saying conditions are bad. The survey is taken into account by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) when formulating monetary policy. In February, the bank surprised markets after saying it would increase an asset purchase program by 10 trillion yen ($120 billion) to about 65 trillion yen amid efforts to kickstart Japan’s stagnant economy. In the survey released yesterday, sentiment among large nonmanufacturing firms improved slightly to plus five in March, compared with plus four in December.

Large manufacturers kept their outlook at minus four, unchanged from December when concerns about the global economy, Europe’s debt crisis and the strong yen weighed. A strong currency makes Japanese exporters’ products more expensive overseas and erodes the value of their repatriated foreign profits. The survey showed firms expect the yen to trade at 78.14 on average against the dollar in the fiscal year starting April 1, an surprisingly strong outlook for the Japanese currency. The greenback was trading at a stronger 83 yen level yesterday, well above its post-World War II low of 75.32 yen in October. “The impact of the recent yen retreat might not be fully counted on the March Tankan,” Hideki Matsumura, senior economist at the Japan Research Institute, told AFP. “Now that the yen has been stabilizing at above 80 (to the dollar), the next Tankan is expected to show recovery.” Despite signs of progress in tackling the eurozone’s fiscal woes and positive US economic figures, Japanese firms remained cautious with large manufacturers upping their outlook by just one point to minus three for June. Capital spending plans among big companies also remained unchanged, the survey showed, below economists’ forecasts for a slight increase. Last year’s quake-tsunami disaster and record flooding in Thailand-which hit firms with plants in

the Southeast Asian country-pounded Japan’s already struggling economy. Last week, Japan posted an unexpected 1.2 percent on-month decline in February’s factory output after two months of growth, casting doubt on hopes the economy was mounting a firm recovery. “Improvement in the

Asian economy, notably China, will also play a key role in the next Tankan,” Matsumura said. “If the Asian economy shows strong performance in the current quarter, the index will improve firmly.” Nearly 11,000 companies were surveyed between February 23 and March 30. — AP

TOKYO: A businessman watches an electronic stock board outside a securities firm in Tokyo yesterday. Japanese manufacturers remain gloomy over high oil prices, the strong yen and weaker growth in Asia, according to a central bank survey that defied expectations that business confidence is improving in the world’s third-largest economy. — AP

Foreign investors warn India PM over retroactive tax plan Industry groups pile pressure on govt

ATHENS: A man passes an office of the Labor Force Employment Organization, with graffiti reading ‘’Jobs for Greeks’’, in Athens yesterday. Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro hit its highest level since the currency was introduced back in 1999, official figures showed yesterday, adding to fears that the region is back in recession. — AP

IPO market heats up, more startups going public NEW YORK: The IPO market is heating up. A growing economy and rising stock market are prompting more startups to go public, and investors appear hungry to invest. This week, organic mac n’ cheese maker Annie’s and mobile ad firm Millennial Media posted the biggest first-day gains since networking site LinkedIn debuted last May. And Facebook’s highly anticipated initial public stock offering is just weeks away. After lying largely dormant for three years, the IPO market is churning again. And it ’s poised to get fur ther lift. Congress is loosening restrictions in an attempt to make it easier for young companies to raise money. Still, high gas prices and stubborn unemployment rates continue to put a damper on growth, making it too early to tell whether an IPO recovery is here to stay. The willingness of more startups to open their books and cour t wider investment suggests that they are optimistic about their business and the broader economy. And a strong IPO market could itself drive growth, as companies loaded with fresh cash injections hire workers to expand their operations. Berkeley, Calif.-based Annie’s Inc. saw shares soar 89 percent on Wednesday to close at $35.92. They rose another 5.6 percent on Thursday to finish at $37.92. The shares, originally expected to sell for $14 to $16, ended up pricing at $19 each. Baltimorebased Millennial Media Inc., which makes software that helps games makers and media companies decide what ads to push to smart phones and tablet computers, saw shares jump 92 percent from their $13 IPO price to close at $25. In total, 10 companies are expected to go public this week, the most since December 2010. It marks an enthusiastic end to a strong quarter for IPOs. There have been more IPOs in the first three months of 2012 than there have been since the 2011 second quarter, said Richard Peterson, credit analyst at S&P Capital IQ. And on average, stocks hitting the market in the past three months have gained an average of 13 percent on their first trading day, according to the IPO advisory firm Renaissance Capital. That’s the best performance since 2008. The rush has come after the US economy grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the final three months of 2011, the best pace in a year and a half. Hiring is picking up. Earlier this month the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed

at its highest point since May 2008. An improving stock market helps fuel demand for IPOs, which are considered riskier investments. But the IPO market may yet peter out. There were signs of optimism at the start of 2011, but the European debt crisis and renewed economic weakness in the second half of the year froze the IPO market for months. And while more companies are going public now, they’re pulling in less cash. US IPOs have raised $5.5 billion so far this year, less than half of the $13 billion that newly public companies pulled in during the 2011 first quar ter, according to Renaissance Capital. It’s also still too early to tell whether efforts by lawmakers to make it easier for small companies to raise money through IPOs will help rev up the market. President Obama is expected to soon sign a bill that would reduce the cost of going public for companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Splashy market debuts are drawing big headlines, but what matters for investors is what a company’s stock does beyond the first day, said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital. Small investors may even lose money if they get swept up in first-day buying and end up paying much more than the price that big investors, such as hedge funds and mutual funds, got the night before. “A more thoughtful investor might wait until the frenzy is over,” Smith said. LinkedIn Corp. shares, for example, more than doubled in their debut, closing up 109 percent at $94.25. But the hubbub didn’t last and shares fell as low as $55.98 by November. The stock has recovered its losses, however, and closed Thursday at $102.67. Though far from the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, much of the investor demand in the past year has centered on technology stocks like LinkedIn, especially companies engaged in mobile devices and social networking. Facebook’s much-awaited IPO is expected later this spring. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has said it anticipates raising at least $5 billion. If all goes as expected, the world’s biggest online social network could be valued at as much as $100 billion. That would be the biggest Internet IPO ever. S&P’s Peterson said the “Facebook factor” and gains in the broader stock market are both helping stoke investor demand for IPOs. It’s also the end of the first quarter, so it’s not uncommon for banks to want to get deals done before the period closes, he added. — AP

MUMBAI: Industry groups representing 250,000 companies across North America, Asia and the UK have warned India’s prime minister that a proposed retroactive tax plan is causing foreign businesses to reconsider investing in India. The warning, delivered in a March 29 letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top officials, comes as India struggles to plug a worrisome fiscal deficit and revive investment amid slowing economic growth. The groups that sent the letter, including the US-based Business Roundtable, the Confederation of British Industry and the Japan Foreign Trade Council, object to a proposal tucked quietly into India’s latest budget which would make the overseas transfer of Indian assets taxable, retroactive to 1962. Billions of dollars are at stake. “The sudden and unprecedented move in the bill has undermined confidence in the policies of the government of India toward foreign investment and taxation and has called into question the very rule of law, due process, and fair treatment in India,” the letter says. “This is now prompting a widespread reconsideration of the costs and benefits of investing in India.” Visiting British finance minister George Osborne added his voice to the chorus of complaint Monday. “We should have a tax system in India that encourages investment, that is predictable,” he told India’s CNBC-TV18. Osborne met his Indian counterpart yesterday. The new law would make transactions like Vodafone’s $11 billion acquisition in 2007 of the Indian telecom assets of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telecommunications taxable. In January, India’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of Vodafone, saying the British telecom giant is not liable for up to $4.4 billion in back taxes and penalties on that deal. Many saw the budget proposal as an attempt to counteract the Supreme Court’s ruling. GE, SAB Miller, Cadbury, AT&T, Sanofi and Vedanta are among the companies fighting tax

cases in India that could be affected by the changes. Vodafone on Friday called the proposed changes “grossly unjust,” saying they “raise important constitutional questions for India as well as widespread and profound concerns in the minds of international investors.” The letter reflects frustration among both foreign and domestic investors with India’s ruling Congress party, whose tenure has been marred by corruption scandals and policy flip-flops. India’s decision on Friday to suspend environmental clearances for South Korean steel giant Posco’s $12 billion steel plant - one of the largest foreign investments in India’s history further damaged investor sentiment. Posco has been trying to build the plant since 2005.

Despite a shifting regulatory environment, India’s relatively fast growth continues to seduce investors. The board of Goldman Sachs met in India for the first time last week at a tightly guarded suite at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel before heading to the capital, New Delhi, to meet with Prime Minister Singh. “This trip reinforced the enormous potential of India and we remain committed to helping our clients grow both inside and outside India,” chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement Sunday. Gunjan Bagla, managing director of Amritt Inc., a Los Angeles consulting company that helps US companies set up in India, said he tells his clients that it won’t be easy, but it may prove profitable. — AP

NEW DELHI: Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (right) shakes hands with his British counterpart George Osborne before a meeting in New Delhi yesterday. — AP

India’s Kingfisher offers to resume wage payments NEW DELHI: The chief of India’s embattled Kingfisher Airlines promised yesterday to give employees their long overdue pay cheques after government authorities unfroze the carrier’s bank accounts. Kingfisher Airlines, which owes millions of dollars to suppliers, lenders and staff, has appeared increasingly in danger of collapse. But in the first piece of good news for months, liquor magnate Vijay Mallya told staff in a letter that authorities unfroze its bank accounts Sunday after the airline paid tax arrears, allowing him to resume wage payments. “Please stand by me and strengthen my hands,” Mallya urged workers in the letter. “We have managed to keep the lights on in our days of darkness with adversity from every conceivable direction,” he said, adding Kingfisher’s recovery will “not

be possible without your continued efforts, commitment and goodwill.” Mallya, who calls himself “the king of good times,” said the Bangalorebased airline would pay junior staff tomorrow. Pilots and engineers will be paid next week. The employees have been waiting months for their salaries and at least 60 pilots have already left to work with rivals, according to local media reports. Most of India’s private airlines are struggling despite a fast growing market due to high fuel costs and cut-throat competition. But the problems of Kingfisher, which has never turned a profit since it was founded in 2005, are reckoned to be the worst, partly due to overly rapid expansion, analysts say. The airline has experienced a sharp descent, running just 20 flights daily down from its previous 64.—AFP

MUMBAI: Chairman and CEO of India’s Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya speaking during a press conference in Mumbai. The chief of India’s embattled Kingfisher Airlines promised to finally give his employees their long overdue pay checks after government authorities unfroze the carrier’s bank accounts yesterday. — AFP

Moody’s revises rating outlook on South Korea SEOUL: Moody’s yesterday revised upwards its outlook on South Korea’s sovereign credit rating to positive, citing the country’s strong and improving fiscal fundamentals. “Korea’s fiscal fundamentals are very well placed among its like-rated advanced and emerging economy peers,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a statement. “Its fiscal fundamentals have withstood the global financial crisis, as well as the ongoing euro-zone crisis and the drag in global growth.” The agency raised the outlook on South Korean government bonds to positive from stable and affirmed the country’s long-term foreign-currency rating at A1. It said government debt has been kept at a moderate level in relation to gross domestic product, and the outlook for state finances was favorable. Relatively low inflation, a low-risk premium on government securities and a relatively strong outlook for economic growth meant that fundamental pressures on government debt capacity were absent. Moody’s also said vulnerabilities exposed during the height of the global financial crisis-the banking system’s reliance on offshore dollar funding-were being effectively addressed.

But rising household debt was a concern, it said. “If unchecked, this trend could impair bank asset quality and introduce a drag on private consumption expenditure as an important source of GDP growth,” Moody’s said. The agency said event risks related to North Korea were factored into its latest assessment and did not constrain the A1 rating. The North has been persistently hostile to the South’s current conservative government. It plans a satellite launch around the middle of this month which is seen by the United States and its allies as a disguised missile test. South Korea’s inflation eased in March to a 20-month low as the government strove to curb price rises, official figures showed yesterday. Statistics Korea said the consumer price index increased 2.6 percent in March, compared with a year earlier, slowing from a 3.1 percent rise in February. The index fell 0.1 percent in March from February. Core inflation, which strips out volatile oil and food costs, grew 1.9 percent from a year earlier compared to a 2.5 percent increase the previous month. The government forecasts 2012 inflation at 3.2 percent while the central bank sees it at 3.3 percent. — Agencies




GPCA Plastics Summit to attract industry leaders Gulf has great potential to grow in plastics conversion

Eduardo Eguren, Burgan Bank Group’s Chief Executive Officer

Burgan Bank wins ‘Best Banking Group in MENA 2012’ award KUWAIT: Burgan Bank Group announced yesterday that it has received the prestigious “Best Banking Group in MENA 2012” award by Global Banking & Finance Review, one of the world’s leading global banking and finance online publications. The award comes in recognition of the group’s turnaround performance and delivery of sound results across its operations in Kuwait, Jordan, Algeria, Iraq and Tunis. Eduardo Eguren, Burgan Bank Group’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We are very pleased with our recent achievement of being recognized as the “Best Banking Group in MENA 2012”. This accolade is a testament to our turnaround process that delivered a solid financial performance across the group.” “Our 2011 performance was marked by five major highlights that delivered a robust financial performance despite the low economic activity levels and political unrest in some part of the region: improving our top line behavior (revenues) and operating margins, reducing the cost of credit, Restoring the profitability of Kuwait’s operations, maintain-

ing the growth trajectory modes of the regional subsidiaries, and delivering significantly improved returns to our share-

holders. 2011 performance has placed the group in a strong position and we are well poised for growth in 2012 and beyond.” Added Eguren. Burgan Bank has four majority owned subsidiaries: Jordan Kuwait Bank (Jordan), Gulf Bank Algeria (Algeria), Bank of Baghdad (Iraq), and Tunis International Bank (Tunisia), (collectively known as the “Burgan Bank Group”).

Commercial Bank continuous ‘Shop and Get Cash Back’ KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait announced that its “Shop and Get Cash back” campaign launched on 22/2/2012 for two months till 22/4/2012 in cooperation with “LG Babteen” and “True Value” Showrooms is continuing to achieve great success. The campaign was highly commended by the Bank’s customers where it provides an excellent opportunity to the Bank credit card & prepaid card holders to shop at “LG” and “True Value” and get 10% cash back throughout the offer period. The campaign achieved outstanding success at the beginning of its second month with increasing number of customers shopping at the participating showrooms benefiting from marketing offers and services the Bank endeavors to offer throughout the year to attain its customers’ utmost satisfaction by giving them opportunities to shop and save at the best retailers and stores. Commenting on the success of the campaign Ramzi Sabboury, Executive Manager, Marketing and Sales at Retail Banking Division said “Al-Tijari card holders enjoy several opportunities to obtain discounts and other benefits and we have felt this through the increased number of our customers card base which give customers the opportunity to enjoy exclusive offers provided to AlTijari credit card and prepaid card hold-

ers”. Ramzi Sabboury emphasized the Bank’s ongoing endeavors to effectively communicate with customers and

launch marketing programs that meet customers’ aspirations in cooperation with a number of stores and retailers. Sabboury concluded that “LG” and “True Value” Showrooms welcome Al-Tijari customers to enjoy a special marketing opportunity in addition to the lucrative discounts.

Communication firms to invest $700bn in coming three years ArabNet Digital Summit 2012 KUWAIT: The Saudi CEO in STC for international operations Ghassan Hasbani shared on the sidelines of“ ArabNet Digital Conference 2012“ in its third period that held in Beirut for five straight days from 29 to 30 March 2012, with the presence of 150 participants from the Middle East and the globe in a CEO supervisory sessions, that comprised a number of Key articles. Digital content and electronic applications are the top concerned topics, with the elaborated tech-

Ghassan Hasbani

niques to keep support and sustain for their growth through giant communication companies in the region. Hasbani stressed that launching “interactive TV“ recently, considered a main drive to practice using broadband application that enhance remarkable competence in all STC sectors in optimum standards. He revealed that despite the high cost of the digital content, STC didn’t hesitate to make it available with best quality to serve its customers, because it is a vivid and precious source for STC. Moreover, STC launched “Brave Fund” to revive small establishments. He declared that the investment for communication companies in the infrastruc ture around the globe will reach $700 billion in the coming three years due to business digital revolution, that became popular in many countries around us. The delegation from the Kingdom shared in the conference comprised a number of senior officials including: Osama Mento Almoases, CEO for innovative business Solutions, Dr. Abdullah Almeqren, the head of the national Center for E-learnimg and distance learning, Abdullah Hamed , CEO for Lakeem Tako, Nawaf Alshalani from STC.

KUWAIT: The third Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Plastics Summit will be held at the Grand Hyatt Dubai from April 3-5. Distinguished spokespeople will address critical business and environmental issues, while highlighting how the plastics industry has achieved sustainable growth through socially responsible initiatives. The line-up of speakers includes CEOs of leading Gulf plastics producers such as SABIC, Tasnee, Borouge, PetroRabigh and EQUATE. The third Plastics Summit will comprise a half-day market seminar on April 3, followed by two full-day conference sessions. Confirmed speakers include Abdulaziz Alhajri, CEO of Borouge, who will open the main program on April 4, and Sultan Bin Battal, Vice President, Polymers Special Business Unit, of SABIC, whose presentation will explore the leading role technology has played in the plastics industry and how further advancements will help achieve future growth in the sector. Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of GPCA, said: “The Gulf has witnessed significant expansion in plastics production in a short period of time. The challenge in the region moving forward is converting the production of plastics raw materials into more high-value downstream industries manufacturing components and finished goods. That will lead to further industrial diversification in the region, more prof-

itably and more jobs. And that is why growth opportunities for plastics conversion will be the central theme of our third GPCA Plastics Summit.” Dr Al-Sadoun added: “The overwhelming success of previous summits has shown the

Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of GPCA high interest in plastics conversion in the Middle East. The GPCA is excited to be able to present speakers of such high caliber at this year’s event, and the attendees will definitely benefit from their considerable insights and

expertise.” Examining innovation within the sector, the morning session on April 4 will receive presentations from a variety of global authorities, including Chua Sok Peng, Managing Director of Singapore-based Platts International, and Dr. Michael Pell, VP Innovation, Borouge. Chua Sok Peng will consider global plastic conversion trends and their implications for the GCC, while Dr. Michael Pell will provide a strategic perspective on market expansion opportunities. The afternoon session will look at the impor tance of the packaging sector in achieving greater plastics conversion in the GCC. Addressing delegates will be Manfred Klepacz, CEO Industrial Sector at Al Rahji Holding in Saudi Arabia; Dr Jochen Hennes, Managing Director of Reifenhuser; Dr. Jurgen Scherer, Director of Mauser Group; and H W Houben, Managing Director for Europe and MENA of A. Schulman, based in the UAE. The final day’s program will spotlight the building and construction sector as another driver of plastics conversion. Dr. Mitchell Killeen, Managing Director for MENA and India of Lyondell Basell, will open the session. Sustainability, quality and hygiene will be the focus of the concluding session on April 5. Confirmed speakers include Rashid AlGhurair of Taghleef Industries in the UAE; Nick Kennoghan, Director of UK-based PIRA International; and Davies Shiba, General Manager of TV Middle East.

Ford Conservation and Environmental Grants Launch 2012 edition with $100,000 pledge KUWAIT: Entering its 13th year, the Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants, the longest-running private initiative of its kind in the region, makes available a total of $100,000 of funds to environmental activists in the GCC and Levant region to help them further their projects and raise awareness about the environment and much needed efforts for conservation. Supported by UNESCO’s Doha office, the program is now open and receiving applications for grants from not-for-profit ongoing environmental projects that are seeking additional funding. Application forms can be downloaded from with the deadline of submission set for July 10, 2012. This year also marks the addition of Iraq to the GCC/Levant Chapter of the Ford Grants, bringing to nine the countries that Ford’s green initiative covers. Projects from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can apply. An independent panel of jurors consisting of nine experts and academics from environmental agencies and institutions will choose the winning projects. The jury panel, which has been carefully selected in cooperation with UNESCO Doha, based on geographical coverage, experience and gender equality, will look for initiatives that demonstrate a well-defined sense of purpose, a commitment to maximizing available resources, and a reputation for meeting objectives and delivering planned programs and services. Larry Prein, Ford Middle East’s managing

director, said: “Since 2000, the Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants have provided much needed financial support to various local community initiatives. Through the program, we are able to extend our hands and connect with the communities

the UNESCO Doha Office continues to support the efforts of the Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants in recognizing deserving projects and honoring the people who work tirelessly to protect the environment. Ford is to be commended for their commit-

where we operate in together with our dealers, hoping to make a significant contribution to the betterment of the environment.” Dr Benno Boer, UNESCO’s Ecological Sciences Advisor in the Arab Region, said: “This year,

ment to this community initiative and for giving the opportunity for grass-root level projects to expand and grow.” The winners in 2011 included projects saving coral reefs and protecting marine resources in

Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, initiatives in Lebanon that engage communities to recycle for a good cause, become eco-police and protect natural resources, setting up community theaters to inculcate environmental awareness in Jordan, volunteerism to collect and segregate plastic waste in Kuwait, and many more. Abdul Aziz Bin Ali Al Naimi, also known as The Green Sheikh, who also suppor ts the Ford Grants as a Programme Ambassador, said: “Protecting the environment is like a race against time. We must act now for the future generation. More so, we encourage the youth from the region to play an active role in raising awareness to conserve the environment. The power is within today’s youth to make a difference and be the environment ’s defender. By simply minding your actions to avoid unnecessary use of energy and resources and be an example to your community, you are already contributing significantly. “Reach out to people within your neighborhood who are working on a project for the environment and help them continue their work. Let’s help connect them to the Ford Motor Company Conser vation and Environmental Grants to get additional assistance to pursue their environmental projects,” AlNaimi added. The Ford Grants are part of the company’s efforts to support grass-roots level initiatives that protect and preserve the environment and natural resources in the GCC and Levant countries, and have awarded a total of $1.2million to more than 140 projects since its inception in 2000.

Gopalkrishna Murti wins brand new GMC Yukon Gulf Bank’s first quarterly KOC draw KUWAIT: Gulf Bank yesterday announced Damu Gopalkrishna Murti as the winner of its first quarterly KOC prize draw for 2012. Yaser Sulaiman, Executive Manager, Consumer Banking Group, announced that the winner will receive a brand new 2012 GMC Yukon. On winning, Damu Gopalkrishna Murti said, “I’m extremely grateful to Gulf Bank for providing me with the opportunity to win this prize. The service Gulf Bank provides for KOC employees is exceptional and as a fortuitous added bonus I am also driving away with my brand new GMC Yukon. “ The KOC Quarterly draw launched exclusively for KOC Staff, serves as an auxiliary benefit to the KOC salary tailored banking package. The package provides a non interest bearing current account specially designed to fulfill KOC staff ’s banking needs. The package further consists of several benefits exclusive to KOC staff such as, vouchers from X-cite by Alghanim Electronics, free issuance charges for Visa and MasterCard Credit Card, special discounts upon using Gulf Bank cards at over 185 outlets in Kuwait and 10% discount on motor and travel insurance. Upon entering the draw, KOC staff further qualified to win a new GMC Yukon as an added bonus to

adhering to the KOC salary tailored banking package. Gulf Bank is the only bank available at

the KOC head office and it invites all KOC staff to visit the branch to find out more about the KOC salary package.




Surveillance program in works: UK Internet group LONDON: Every email to your child. Every status update for your friends. Every message to your mistress. The UK government is preparing proposals for a nationwide electronic surveillance network that could potentially keep track of every message sent by any Brit to anyone at any time, an industry official briefed on the government’s moves said Sunday. Plans for a massive government database of the country’s phone and email traffic were abandoned in 2008 following a public outcry. But James Blessing of the Internet Service Providers’ Association said the government appears to be “reintroducing it on a slightly different format.” Blessing said the move was disclosed to his association by Britain’s Home Office during a meeting in recent weeks. Britain’s Home Office declined comment, saying an announcement would have to be made to Parliament first - possibly as soon as next month. There was no indication of exactly how such a system would work or to what degree of judicial oversight would be involved, if any. A Home Office spokesman insisted that any new surveillance program would not involve prying into the content of emails or voice conversations. “It’s not about the content,” the official said, speaking anonymously in line with office policy. “It’s about the who, what, where and when.” In a statement, the Home Office said it’s vital that police and intelligence services “are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism, and to protect the public.” Authorities already have access

to a huge wealth of communications data, although the standards for retaining it differ depending on whether, for example, conversations are carried out over the phone, in an email, or over an instant messaging program. Generally, authorities request such information during an investigation. A standardized mass-monitoring program capturing of every email, every post and every tweet would spell the creation of a formidable new surveillance regime. “It is not focusing on terrorists or on criminals,” Conservative lawmaker David Davis told the BBC. “It is absolutely everybody.” “Our freedom and privacy has been protected by using the courts by saying: ‘If you want to intercept, if you want to look at something, fine. If it is a terrorist or a criminal, go and ask a magistrate and you’ll get your approval.’ You shouldn’t go beyond that in a decent, civilized society, but that is what is being proposed.” Cost could be an issue as well. Blessing said it would likely require the installation of tens of thousands of specialized pieces of hardware to monitor the country’s Internet traffic. The price tag would run into the billions of pounds (dollars), a cost he said would either have to be borne by the taxpayer or by Internet service companies, who would in turn have little choice but to pass it on to their customers. In either case, UK Internet users would be paying extra to allow their government to spy on them more effectively. The revamped surveillance plans were first reported by Britain’s The Sunday Times newspaper. —AP

Philips completes spin-off of TV unit to TPV Technology PARIS: Dutch electronics and medical equipment giant Philips said yesterday that it had completed the spin-off of its television division to Hong Kong-based LCD screen and computer maker TPV Technology. Philips retains a 30-percent stake while TPV Technology holds 70 percent in the joint venture called TP Vision, which will design, manufacture and sell Philips brand televisions throughout most of the world. “TP Vision will be a strong player in the global TV market and will ensure the continuity of the Philips TV brand in the markets,” Philips chief executive officer Frans van Houten said in a statement. The 3,000 employees and facilities in the Philips TV division will be transferred to TP Vision, which will be headquartered in the Netherlands. “This partnership will enhance Philips’ brand position in the TV space and bring sustainable returns to both shareholders,” TPV chairman and chief executive officer Jason Hsuan was

BEIJING: A woman views the Chinese social media website Weibo at a cafe in Beijing yesterday. China’s move to shut down websites and curb rumors of a political coup reveal growing nervousness ahead of the nation’s first leadership transition in the social media age. —AFP

China web crackdown shows nerves before power transfer ‘watch what you say’

quoted as saying. TP Vision won’t be able to sell Philips televisions in such major countries such as mainland China, India, or the United States as the rights to use the Philips brand has been sold to other manufacturers. Philips’ television unit posted a loss of 54 million euros in the third quarter last year amid intense competition from Asian manufacturers. When announcing the spin-off deal in November 2011, Philips said it would take a 270 million euros charge in its fourth quarter earnings in addition to about 110 million euros charged in previous quarters. The company said this included separation costs of about 100 million euros. Philips, which employs 120,000 people, was centered for decades on making televisions and electrical devices for the home. About 10 years ago it began developing a medical equipment division, providing such material as scanners and lighting systems. —AFP

BEIJING: China’s move to censor its two main microblogs and arrest people over rumors of a coup reveal a growing nervousness ahead of its first leadership transition in the social media age, analysts said yesterday. Late last week, authorities shut down 16 websites, arrested six people and announced new curbs on the country’s two most popular microblogs after rumors of tanks and gunfire on the streets of Beijing swept the Internet. The speculation followed the shock move to sack Bo Xilai, a rising political star whose removal analysts say exposed rifts in China’s ruling Communist Party at a crucial time, ahead of a 10-yearly transfer of power. “The authorities are really worried about this, they are definitely ratcheting up the pressure on the Internet,” David Bandurski, who runs the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, told AFP. “The authorities are telling people, ‘watch what you say’. They are saying, ‘we are serious about controlling the media and guiding public opinion’.” Bo was the Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing until he was sacked last month, ending his hopes of joining the Politburo Standing Committee, the elite group of leaders who effectively run China.

All but two of the nine places on that committee are expected to change hands later this year when President Hu Jintao and other top leaders step down from their Communist Party posts in a generational handover of power. The transition will be the first to take place under the glare of China’s weibos, microblogs similar to Twitter that have taken the country by storm in recent years. China, which has the world’s largest online population with over half a billion users, blocks content it deems politically sensitive as part of a vast censorship system known as the Great Firewall. But the number of Weibo users has more than trebled since the end of 2010, according to government data, and the speed with which the microblogs have taken off has made it impossible for government censors to keep up. Authorities had already been tightening controls on the microblogs, but the new curbs are the toughest yet, with the two leading Weibos banning people from commenting on other users’ posts for three days. Li Datong, the outspoken former editor of Communist Party newspaper the China Youth Daily, said the crackdown was aimed at maintaining social stability until the leadership change, but cast doubt on its effectiveness.

“They will maintain this abnormal state of stability until the 18th Party Congress, and any voice that is different will not be allowed,” said Li, who now works as a researcher for the publisher of the same newspaper. “This so-called cleaning up of the Internet shows that China has more and more become a police state that must completely depend on police violence to control public opinion.” More than 1,000 people have been arrested since February for unspecified Internet crimes in Beijing alone, while over 3,000 websites have been warned over suspected wrongdoing, the official Xinhua news agency said last week. Meanwhile, China’s state-run papers have published a series of editorials warning against the damaging effects of online rumors and said those responsible for “lies and speculation” should be punished. “The authorities are revealing their hopes to control public opinion, but differing opinions are always going to exist,” said Ai Xiaoming, a professor at Zhongshan University in southern China and wellknown government critic. “This may be effective in the short term, but more and more people are able to get over the Great Firewall, where they can access all kinds of information.” —AFP

Drones coming to a sky nearby as interest surges BERKELEY: Sharp-eyed dog walkers along the San Francisco Bay waterfront may have spotted a strange-looking plane zipping overhead recently that looked strikingly like the US stealth drone captured by Iran in December. A few key differences: The flying wing seen over Berkeley is a fraction of the size of the CIA’s waylaid aircraft. And it’s made of plastic foam. But in some ways it’s just like a real spy plane. The 4 1/2-foot wide aircraft, built by software engineers Mark Harrison and Andreas Oesterer in their spare time, can fly itself to specified GPS coordinates and altitudes without any help from a pilot on the ground. A tiny video camera mounted on the front can send a live video feed to a set of goggles for the drone’s view of the world below. “It’s just like flying without all the trouble of having to be up in the air,” Harrison said. Thousands of hobbyists are taking part in what has become a global do-ityourself drone subculture, a pastime that’s thriving as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to make the skies friendlier to unmanned aircraft of all sizes. The use of drones in the US by law enforcement and other government agencies has privacy advocates on edge. At the same time, some do-it-yourself drone flyers believe the ease of sending cheap pilotless planes and choppers airborne gives citizens a powerful tool for keeping public servants on the ground honest. Drones are the signature weapon of US wars in the 21st century. Just as Humvees became a presence on US highways in the 1990s after the first war with Iraq, interest in non-military uses of drones from policing to farming is rising. Government agencies currently need Federal Aviation Administration permission on a case-by-case basis to fly drones domestically. Commercial use is banned except for a small number of waivers for companies building experimental aircraft. But lawmakers have instructed the agency to allow civilian use of drones in US airspace by September 2015. The FAA

is expected to take the first step this year by proposing rules that would permit limited use of small commercial drones. Whether a border patrol drone the size of a single-engine passenger plane or a four-rotor police “quadcopter” equipped with gear to intercept cell phone signals, the increasing ease of aerial surveillance seems destined to be put to a constitutional test over privacy. “Our concern is with all of the drones,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Small aircraft are hard to see, and large drones can fly high enough to stay out of sight, she said. “I think they all pose different levels of privacy risk.” Lynch has sued the FAA for a list of the 300 waivers it has issued to allow drone use in the US At the same time, she said drones in the hands

of average citizens could have important uses. Among the groups seeking to take advantage of the steep drop in price of drone technology are journalists who want to attach cameras to aircraft the size of small pizzas and that cost as much to buy - about $400 - as a one-hour helicopter rental for a photographer. In the San Francisco Bay area, Occupy Wall Street activists built the so-called Occucopter designed to monitor police action against protesters from the sky. In Idaho, wildlife biologists started using a drone for counting fish nets after a helicopter crash killed two colleagues and a pilot. And researchers are developing techniques to use drones equipped with infrared sensors to detect patches of dry ground in orchards. Hobbyists say drone prices

have been driven down sharply even in the past two or three years mainly by the surge in popularity of smartphones. The chips smartphones use to determine whether they’re being held vertically or horizontally or to locate themselves on a map are the same ones drones use to keep themselves flying straight, level and in the right direction. The supply of such chips has spiked along with the use of smartphones, sending prices lower. “Today if you have an iPhone or an Android, you basically have an autopilot in your pocket. You’re just running the wrong app,” said Chris Anderson, editor-inchief of Wired magazine and founder of DIY Drones, an online community and company that sells drone kits and parts. Anderson started DIY Drones in

2007 after spending the weekend building an electronic Lego robot and trying to fly a radio-controlled plane with his kids. The robot didn’t impress the kids on its own, and the plane was hard to fly, Anderson said. So the family used the Legos to build a primitive autopilot and attached it to the plane. The kids thought it was cool for a few weeks, but Anderson became obsessed. Anderson said safety is a top consideration of his group, and he supports strict observance of the FAA regulations developed in the 1970s to cover the amateur use of radio-controlled planes, which also apply to today’s DIY drones. Those rules include restricting their altitude to 400 feet (120 meter), requiring them to always be in view of

their controller on the ground and prohibiting them from being flown over built-up areas. That last rule reportedly led to trouble for some Los Angeles real estate agents, who were warned by police to stop using drones to take photos and video of homes for sale, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Berkeley, Harrison and Oesterer spent more time tweaking wires and software than their drones spent in the air. Part of the reason was battery power: Their drones rely on the latest in lightweight laptop batteries to stay aloft but suck significantly more power. Still, both say would-be pilots don’t need degrees in computer science or electrical engineering to send drones skyward. Said Oesterer: “It’s getting really close to plug-and-fly.”

Global Payments: less than 1.5m impacted by breach ATLANTA: A recent data breach may affect less than 1.5 million credit cards in North America, according to the card processor involved. Visa and Mastercard announced Friday that they had notified their card holders of the potential for identity theft and illicit charges because of the breach. The card processor, Global Payments, put a number on those who could be affected late Sunday. Global Payments said that credit card data may have been stolen, but that cardholder names, addresses and social security numbers were not obtained. Both Visa and Mastercard said Friday that their own systems had not been compromised. Global payments said that, based on forensic analysis to date, network monitoring and added security measures, it believes the

BERKELEY: Mark Harrison prepares his Arcti Copter 5 drone for flight over a waterfront park. —AP

incident has been contained. “We are open for business and continue to process transactions for all of the card brands,” Global Payments Chairman and CEO Paul Garcia said. Aside from the US, Global Payments provides its services to government agencies, businesses and others in Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The company said it continues to work with regulators, industry third parties and law enforcement to help in the effort to minimize the potential impact on credit cardholders. Last June, hackers stole information for 360,000 credit card accounts at Citigroup. In the past year, there have been highprofile data attacks against the International Monetary Fund, National Public Radio, Google and Sony’s PlayStation Network. —AP



Skin cancer rising in young adults: study Tanning beds, sunburn probable causes

NORTHERN CAPE: This file picture taken on March 30, 2010 shows the Karoo Array Telescope construction site, part of the MeerKAT Project, in the Northern Cape. The combined collecting area of all these antennas will add up to one square kilometer. The telescope will be operated and monitored remotely from Cape Town, where the operations and science centre will be located. South Africa is ready to host the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in southern Africa. Following an initial identification of sites suitable for the SKA by the International SKA Steering Committee in 2006, southern Africa and Australia are the finalists. A consortium of the major international science funding agencies, in consultation with the SKA Science and Engineering Committee (SSEC), will announce the selected site for the SKA today. — AFP

Long use of any hormones poses cancer risk: study CHICAGO: New research suggests that long-term use of any type of hormones to ease menopause symptoms can raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It is already known that taking pills that combine estrogen and progestins - the most common type of hormone therapy - can increase breast cancer risk. But women who no longer have a uterus can take estrogen alone, which was thought to be safe and possibly even slightly beneficial in terms of cancer risk. The new study suggests otherwise, if the pills are used for many years. I t tracked the health of about 60,000 nurses and found that use of any kind of hormones for 10 years or more slightly raised the chances of developing breast

cancer. “There’s a continued increase in risk with longer durations of use and there does not appear to be a plateau,” said study leader Dr Wendy Chen of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The hormone picture has been confusing, and the absolute risk of breast cancer for any woman taking hormone pills remains small. Doctors say women should use the lowest dose needed for the shortest time possible. “It’s hard to be surprised that if you keep taking it, sooner or later it’s going to raise risk ,” said Dr Rober t Clarke of Georgetown Universit y ’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. The study was discussed Sunday at a cancer conference in Chicago. —AP

French firm blamed for frozen embryo accident ROME: An Italian hospital director yesterday blamed French industrial gas giant Air Liquide for an accident in an assisted reproduction lab last week that destroyed 94 embryos frozen in liquid nitrogen. Air Liquide declined to comment on the accusation, after saying earlier that it had opened an internal investigation into what happened and would pay out compensation to would-be parents if the accident was indeed its fault. Prosecutors yesterday also opened an inquiry, although officials said they had not yet determined whether or not the embryos should be considered living beings, which could lead to a possible investigation for manslaughter. “It’s Air Liquide’s responsibility. The least they could do is explain what happened,” Domenico Alessio, director of the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome, told Il Messaggero daily, saying the incident was “unimaginable”. In another interview with La Stampa daily he also admitted, however, that an alarm went off in the hospital when the temperature began to rise but “no-one heard it” because it was in a basement while the lab was on the second floor. Alessio told Il Messaggero he was “angry” that he had not yet received a report from Air Liquide on what happened after the incident on March 27. “This is unacceptable. We are talking about a contract granted to the most

important company for this type of service,” he said. In a statement on Sunday, Air Liquide said it followed strict procedures. “We are profoundly sorry for this event, which contrasts with the security and quality standards that the company pursues and guarantees its clients,” Andrea Saitta, director of Air Liquide Sanita Service, was quoted as saying. “The company undertakes to pay out due compensation if its responsibility is confirmed,” he said. The statement added that the lab system in place included an alarm to warn technicians if the liquid nitrogen was running out. Air Liquide Sanita Service works with 600 hospitals across Italy. Ninety-four embryos, 130 ovocyte egg cells and five sperm samples were lost after the temperature in which they were being kept frozen rose from minus 196 degrees Celsius (minus 321 Fahrenheit) to plus 20 degrees Celsius. “It ’s clear that the nitrogen that should have kept the temperature stable was no longer there but it’s the prosecutors who have to work out why this happened, why there were no alarms to avert the worst,” Alessio said. Officials said that the accident affected around 40 would-be parents, although they said all the women involved still had a chance of conceiving. Some of the couples have already said that they plan to sue over the accident. — AFP

WASHINGTON: Skin cancer is on the rise among young adults, according to a US study published yesterday that suggests indoor tanning beds and childhood sunburns may be to blame. Between 1970 and 2009, the rate of melanoma among women increased eightfold and quadrupled among men, according to the research by Mayo Clinic experts who studied all medical records for a county in Minnesota over that time span. However, death rates from melanoma fell during the same

period, suggesting that early interventions may be helping to save some lives, said the researchers. Still, lead investigator Jerr y Brewer, MD, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, sounded the alarm about what he called a “dramatic rise in women in their 20s and 30s.” “We anticipated we’d find rising rates, as other studies are suggesting, but we found an even higher incidence than the National Cancer Institute had reported,” he said. Although the current study did not focus on reasons for the

increase, Brewer said other researchers have found that people who use indoor tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to get melanoma than non-tanners. Jennifer Stein, a dermatologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, agreed that indoor tanning beds are a likely culprit. “One possible explanation for this rapid increase in cases of melanoma may be the use of indoor tanning beds in teens and young adults, which has become so popular in recent years,” said

Stein, who was not involved with the study. “It’s important for people to protect their skin from ultraviolet exposure, and to check their skin for new or changing moles, which can be a sign of melanoma. The key to sur viving melanoma is early detection.” Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. People at the highest risk are those with light hair and green or blue eyes. Spending a lot of time in the sun and having had one or more blistering sunburns in youth also boost the risk. — AFP

New treatments keep the aging voice spry CHAPEL HILL: Aging baby boomers have long used exercise, surgery and collagen as they try to slow the natural bodily processes of aging. Now, some are flocking to do the same with something that’s usually a dead giveaway: a voice that sounds “old.” Research shows that older peoples’ voices often develop breathiness, weakness and loss or range or quality from causes that include disease, changed use of their voices, and the condition called presbylaryngis, also known as “aging of the larynx.” As the baby boomers grow old, the estimated 30 percent of older folks with speech disorders will roughly double over the next two decades. Those born between 1946 and 1964 will likely object even more than today’s patients to a lessened ability to speak and be heard clearly, said Dr. Robert Buckmire, a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill otolaryngologist. “There’s a significant social cost to not being able to communicate,” said Buckmire, who works with a team that includes speech therapist Ellen Markus. “Our age population is more active, they are working, they are more active socially. There’s a much higher stake in the effectiveness of the voice for personal and professional reasons than there was five or 10 years ago.” From precise vocal-function exercises to laryngeal surgery to collagen injections that plump thinning vocal cords, doctors and therapists use a variety of approaches to ward off the effects on aging of patients’ voices. Self-image, basic communication and professional reputation are at stake for the increasing number of patients who have sought help from the UNC Voice Center and other medical facilities. An often-cited study from the ‘90s found that listeners tended to rate an older voice as “doddery,” “vague,” and “rambling,” while giving more credibility to the same words from a younger speaker. Buckmire keeps all of this in mind when he refers patients such as UNC Chapel Hill retiree Ray Carpenter to the center for therapy. Carpenter is of an older generation than the boomers, but like them wants to stay communicative. “I am dealing with voice problems, hearing problems and vision problems, but I’m smart as a whip,” joked Carpenter, 85, as he began a session Monday in Markus’ office at the Voice Center. Markus, a graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music, works daily with both singers and talkers on the three elements that produce vocal sound: the respiratory system, or the breath behind the sound; the vocal cords, which open and close to produce sound and the resonance system - the throat, tongue, teeth and lips - which amplify and articulate the sound. “You’ve been practicing; I can tell,” Markus said to Carpenter, whose wife Pat, 73, sat nearby. Therapist and

patient got right down to the task in a treatment room. “OK, let’s say, ‘Hello, he, he,’” she said. “Now, say ‘Hope he will.’ “‘Heap it on. Hit the wall. Hop on.’” Carpenter dutifully repeated the phrases, emphasizing the ‘h’ sounds as Markus had. “I want you to use those belly muscles; the belly is supporting all of this,” she said. Just as trained singers use their diaphragms, Markus said, Carpenter should be able to feel the organ supporting his lungs as he pushed air upward towards speech. She took him through a series of non-

ynx, the vocal tract, including the lungs, the throat, the tongue - there are somewhat predictable changes in all those muscles with age.” A person recorded at age 30 and again at age 70 will sound noticeably different because of the diminished bulk of the vocal cords, he said. Lung capacity also tends to diminish with passing years, leading to a weaker voice. Sometimes a singer or speaker will produce a breathy sound through vocal cords that aren’t closing properly. Changes in the brain can bring tremors and other signs of aging. But

CHAPEL HILL: Dr Ellen Markus, right, speech language pathologist with UNC Voice Center, teaches speaking techniques to Ray Carpenter, 85, of Chapel Hill during vocal therapy. — MCT sense syllables designed to improve his volume, tone and endurance. “I keep exploring, and I make it a little longer,” she said of one exercise. “Does it break down as it goes a little longer? They’re supposed to be like lowimpact aerobics; you shouldn’t be hurting yourself.” Learning that Carpenter had grown tired from doing the exercises twice daily, Markus suggested that he skip one session a day until he felt stronger. “I’m not going to make you sound like you’re 20, but you’re showing more voice,” she told Carpenter, a retired professor of information and library science. Generally, Carpenter said, he feels as though he’s getting better, speaking more clearly and with more volume. Studies have shown that these kinds of exercises often increase vocal output and other measures of healthy speech. That’s particularly important when the patient’s spouse is hard of hearing. Buckmire, the physician, pointed out that the muscles of the larynx and other organs involved in speech can’t be bulked up by exercise the way the body’s large muscles can. “When you talk about the voice, there are changes with muscles, change in connective tissue with age, and that’s a very natural change,” he said. “The lar-

there’s a bright side to the picture as well. “Although things change and do age, the voice output is not condemned to change,” Buckmire said. “When we get to strategies to improve the voice or maintain the voice, it’s about maintaining all processes and gaining endurance. We know that people can successfully sing at a very high level into their eighties, but it takes more technique and practice.” Vocal quality is closely affected by the suppleness of vocal cords, which can lose elasticity in old age, just as skin does. “When you change laxity, you change how the voice vibrates,” Buckmire said. “You can’t either stave off the changes, or reverse them. Then we really rely on technique and vocal hygiene, how you use the voice and hydration.” Learning to energize the voice with more breath and resonance can minimize the effects of aging, he said: “We can relieve the impression of a weak voice, a tired voice.” It was vocal fatigue and weakness that brought Joe Hickman from UNC Wilmington to see Markus. Hickman, a vocal coach and singer, had been accustomed to singing for eight hours at a stretch at choral conventions in Europe. But in recent years, as he neared 60, he was exhausted and sometimes in pain after a day of

teaching. People use “all kinds of words” to describe the effect of an ailing voice, Markus said. Responding to a questionnaire, the patients make it clear that they embarrassed and depressed because of their voices, that they get feel as though they’ve become less outgoing. They’re tired of the ordeal. Going through exercises in his strong tenor, Hickman wound up his treatment with Markus on Monday. Through diligent use of focused vocal exercises, he said, he had regained his stamina, his tone and, it seemed, his love of singing. “Any pain today?” Markus asked. “I am experiencing no difficulty,” Hickman said. Using an electronic keyboard to indicate pitch, the therapist asked Hickman to use an “mmm” tone to sing up and down a short scale. She asked for a legato style, so that he slid smoothly from each strong note into the next. Moving up through the keys, he sang scale after scale without faltering. “The vocal tension is pretty much gone,” he said to Markus. Hickman had come in with a diagnosis of mild atrophy of both vocal folds. He had earned a doctorate in music and taught at UNC-Wilmington for 32 years, but in his late fifties, he found he disliked the sound of his own voice. “If you work too hard, the result is not great quality,” he said. “I’m now able to sing easily at the end of the day of teaching.” Neither surgery nor exercises work for all people with voice problems, but the process had worked for Hickman, a singer who earned his return to the joy of music through research-tested advice and hard work. On Sunday, a reenergized Hickman conducted his university’s women’s chorus, concert choir, and chamber singers in a program of Brahms, Copland and Schubert. TIPS FOR PRESERVING SPEECH FOR A LIFETIME According t0 the National Center for Voice and Speech, most behaviors recommended for general health also keep people’s voices in good shape. The research and teaching organization adds the following tips: • Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day to maintain hydration. • Support the voice from abdominal muscles when speaking or singing. • Avoid “vocally abusive” activities such as yelling, screaming, coughing and throat-clearing. • Warm up the voice before using it. • Don’t talk or sing at unnatural pitches. • Stay away from over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, which thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding of the vocal folds. • Drinks including caffeine and alcohol remove moisture from your system and should each be counteracted with an equal-sized glass of water. —MCT

Why black women are more susceptible to cervical cancer

PORTLAND: In this Feb 23, 2012 photo, herring are unloaded in Portland, Maine. Fishermen who catch other species of fish and environmentalists are fighting to put greater restrictions on trawlers that pull up hundreds of thousands of pounds of herring in one tow. — AP

CHICAGO: Provocative new research might help explain why black women are so much more likely than whites to develop and die from cervical cancer: They seem to have more trouble clearing HPV, the virus that causes the disease. Doctors have long thought that less access to screening and follow-up health care were the reasons black women in the US are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and twice as likely to die from it. The new study involving young college women suggests there might be a biological explanation for the racial disparity, too. If further study confirms this novel finding, it would make the HPV vaccine even more important for black women, said Worta McCaskillStevens, a prevention specialist at the National Cancer Institute. The vaccine is recommended for all girls starting at age 11. The study was presented Sunday at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Chicago. Certain strains of HPV, the human papillomavirus, cause cervical cancer, but brief infections are very common in young women. They usually go away on their own within a year or so and only pose a cancer risk when they last long-term.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia studied 326 white and 113 black students taking part in a wider federal health study. All were given Pap tests - lab exams of cells scraped from the cervix - and HPV tests every six months throughout their years in school. Although the groups were similar in how many new HPV infections were detected, doctors saw striking differences in how long their infections lasted. At any checkup, blacks were 1.5 times more likely to test positive for infection with one of the HPV strains that raise cancer risk, said study leader Kim Creek. “The African-American women weren’t clearing the virus as fast. They were actually holding onto it about six months longer,” for 18 months versus 12 months for whites, he said. Ten percent of blacks had abnormal Pap tests versus 6 percent of whites. Two years after initial infections were found, 56 percent of black women were still infected but only 24 percent of whites remained infected. The government’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities sponsored the study. Creek is a paid speaker for Merck & Co., one of the makers of

HPV vaccines. The results are “provocative” and need validation in a study that looks beyond this one region, said McCaskill-Stevens of the cancer institute. “We have known there are genetic differences between the races,” and it’s possible that a gene from certain ancestries such as African might play a role in the ability to clear an HPV infection, she said. Cervical cancer has declined dramatically in the United States because of Pap tests, which are recommended every three years for women 21 to 65. Starting at age 30, women can also have an HPV test every five years; they’re not recommended before then because brief infections are so common, they would give too many false alarms. About 12,000 new cases and 4,200 deaths from cervical cancer occur each year in the United States, mostly in women who have never been screened or not in the past five years. Paps cost $15 to $60; HPV tests run $50 to $100. Doctors don’t know how the vaccine will affect HPV test results or how long the vaccine lasts, so women should still be screened for cervical cancer if they are within the recommended screening ages. — AP



Childbirth takes longer now than 50 years ago

Professor at the intersection of psychology and justice Prof combines skills to elicit new case information

WASHINGTON: Many tasks can be tackled more quickly now than 50 years ago, but delivering a baby naturally it seems is not one of them, according to a US government study. Compared with the 1960s, US women have in recent years spent two to three hours longer in labor, according to researchers at the US National Institutes of Health, who said the findings suggest doctors may need to rethink the definition of “normal” labor. The extra time is spent in the first stage of labor - the longest part of the process, before the “pushing” stage, according to findings published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Mothers are different as well. On average, they’re older and weigh more, and their newborns are bigger too. “But even when we take these changing demographics into account, labor is still longer,” said lead researcher Katherine Laughon, at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Though Laughon said the study wasn’t able to fully address the potential reasons for the difference, one partial explanation may be epidural pain relief, which is far more common now than 50 years ago. Epidurals are known to slow labor down by about 40 to 90 minutes. The findings were based on two government studies done decades apart. One, between 1959 and 1966, included about 39,500 women who delivered a full-term baby, while the other tracked more than 98,000 women who had a full-term baby between 2002 and 2008. All of the women had a spontaneous labor - that is, not induced. When it came to length of labor, first-time mothers in recent years typically spent 2.6 hours longer in the first stage, compared with their counterparts in the 1960s. The difference dropped to two hours with women who had given birth before. Contemporary women were far more likely to have an epidural 55 percent, compared to just four percent of counterparts 50 years ago. Twelve percent had a C-section compared with three percent in the 1960s, while 31 percent were given oxytocin, which stimulates contractions, against 12 percent 50 years ago. Laughon noted that many more women now have labor inductions or planned cesarean sections versus decades ago, so women who actually go into spontaneous labor these days may differ somehow from their counterparts of 50 years ago. But whatever the underlying reasons, doctors may need to redefine “normal” labor, a concept that’s based on what was the norm for women a half-century ago. For example, doctors have considered labor to be abnormal if there’s no change in the cervix after two hours in the “active” part of the first stage of labor. At that point, they may intervene by either giving ocytocin or doing a C-section. Laughon said the bottom line is that there may be a new “normal,” adding: “I think we need to revisit the definitions of ‘abnormal’ labor, and the timing of the interventions we use.” — Reuters

LOS ANGELES: The interview begins on a cheerful note. University of Southern California law professor Thomas Lyon asks a 4-year-old to tell him about her last birthday. She says she took ice cream, chocolate and cake, “mixed it up and ate it.” Then she shared some with her brothers. Lyon gently turns to the tragic matter at hand. “Tell me why you came to talk to me; tell me what happened,” he asks the child, the only eyewitness to a homicide. At first she mumbles “hmm” a few times and rocks in her chair as Lyon repeats the question. And then she starts talking about seeing her mother stab the child’s great-grandmother in their home. “She was killing her by the bike,” the girl says. “I see,” Lyon continues. “And how did she kill her?” “With a sharp knife,” she says. With that exchange, Lyon, then a consultant for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, elicited key information the police could not. That videotaped session is often viewed around the country by social workers, lawyers and law enforcement authorities who want to improve how they interview children in custodial, abuse and criminal cases. Lyon, a Harvard-trained attorney with a doctorate in psychology from Stanford, is a leader in the field. His work has helped show that open-ended, nonjudgmental questions can prompt more detailed narratives from children, whether about birthdays or murder. His federally funded research also shows that getting a child to promise to be honest actually makes it more likely that they will tell the truth. Lyon, who is 50 and the father of two teenagers, said there is no trauma in his past that propels his interest in child abuse. In fact, he said, warm memories of his Nebraska upbringing made him want to work with children during his adult career. After law school, he worked in the

Los Angeles County Counsel’s children’s division and then studied child psychology. At USC, where he’s taught since 1995, he holds a rare dual professorship in law and psychology, combining a passion for justice with a wonkish pursuit of data. “Actually I find abuse work often terribly depressing, but what keeps me in it is how great the kids are despite the abuse they suffer. They still tend to be really resilient, really interested in things, really excited about stuff,” he said. “And that’s inspiring.” His field has generated debate among psychologists and lawyers for decades. The McMartin preschool case in the 1980s _ in which children’s allegations of sexual abuse and satanic rituals were found to be unreliable _ underscored how controversial the topic of children’s memory can be. Afterward, much

research focused on avoiding coercive questioning and false accusations. That emphasis was valuable but swung too far toward skepticism and ignored larger problems of underreporting and secrecy, said Lyon, who is past president of the American Psychological Association’s child maltreatment division. “Anyone who works with abused kids knows the kids are afraid and threatened and reluctant and ashamed,” said Lyon, who has a softspoken manner. Critics say Lyon tends to be too proprosecution. Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California, Irvine law and cognitive science professor who has consulted for the defense in abuse and murder cases, including McMartin, said she thinks Lyon’s experiments on children’s truthtelling are worthwhile. But she said Lyon “sometimes is so attached to the idea of

LOS ANGELES: USC professor Thomas Lyon, pictured March 9, 2012, outside of the van in which he conducts interviews, is a national expert on interviewing children in abuse and crime cases. — MCT

child abuse, as horrible as it is, that he overlooks other things like civil liberties of accused people.” Lyon said he is not out to convict the innocent but wants the criminal justice system to understand how memories of childhood abuse can last through adulthood. Lyon is among the experts who have trained sheriff ’s deputies in interviewing methods that they’ve subsequently used in recent abuse cases in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Dan Scott. Sheriff ’s investigators spent months interviewing past students of a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary, who has been charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct. Mary Murray, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, recalled a case involving a 6-year-old boy who was a key witness to the torture and murder of his mother by his father. Lyon obtained detailed videotaped statements from the child about hearing the beating and seeing his mother collapse. He was adopted by his paternal grandfather, and at trial two years later, the boy said he couldn’t recall anything; the video was allowed as evidence, and the father was convicted. “It sounds and looks really easy until you try it yourself and hit a brick wall,” Murray said. Lyon “is able to mine a child for whatever information a child has to offer.” Lyon is a prolific researcher who receives substantial federal backing. Grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to him and collaborators are expected to total $3.6 million over a decade by 2015. Much of Lyon’s current federally funded research does not directly involve crime but focuses on what helps children honestly recall events. Some of the experiments are conducted with abused or neglected children at the dependency court in Monterey Park. —MCT



W H AT ’ S O N


Soccer academy funds charitable projects in Egypt

Festival of Football 2012 Premier GOAL Academy/Ever ton “Festival of Football 2012” will be held on April 7, 2012 at 9 am - 5 pm at Shaab Leisure Park (Shaab Seaside, Arabian Gulf Road. Cost: free.


he Play Soccer Academy was recently established in Kuwait under the patronage of the Egyptian Ambassador Abdulkareem Sulaiman. The profits which the academy makes are used to support charity projects in poor Egyptian villages carried out by the ‘Shabab Al-Khair’ Group of Egyptian Youth in Kuwait, announced Director of the Play Soccer Academy Hesham Attab. The academy gives children the opportunity to take part in training courses which help them hone their soccer skills on a professional level, said supervisor of a joint project carried out by the Shbab Al-Khair Group and the Dar Al-Orman Society in Egypt.

AE Arts competition, exhibition AE Arts will hold a competition on April 7 in drawing and fancy dress items for junior, subjunior and senior levels and a comedy skit completion for adults at United I ndian S chool, Abbassiya from 9.30am. The winners will be honored in a function on April 20 at United Indian School, at 6.30pm which will also feature exhibitions of PART members. Renowned Indian makeup man Pattanam Rashid will be the chief guest, AE Art’s Ajayaghosh said. For details: 99591496 Earth Day with Golden Era April 13, 2012 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Where: Rumaithiya, Block 2, Sate Alhusari Street, House 34, Next to Abu-Tammam Intermediate School for Boys Contact: Golden Era Club Fun Run Radisson Blu Hotel hosts FuN RuN! The run will begin at 9.00 am from Messilah to Radisson Blu Hotel (3km race). Transportation will be provided from the Radisson Blu Hotel to Messilah, but please be at the hotel by 8:15 am sharp. April 7th is World Health Day, and it is their way of spreading the word- to be healthy and keep fit! Best of luck to all the participants! Amma Kuwait, PART to hold workshop Amma Kuwait and Progressive Art Realization Troop of Kuwait (PART) announce their maiden joint venture PRAKRUTI. The purpose of the workshop is to motivate children to explore art in nature by inspiring them to observe nature consciously. Prakruti is a 5 hour workshop from 9am to 3pm on 20 April 2012 on landscape painting for budding student artists in the age group ten to seventeen. This workshop which will take place in the Al Jawhara Al Ahlea School, Rigaae will be conducted by the professional artists of PART who will interact with the children and guide them on special effects and professional painting techniques. The medium of painting will be Acrylic/Water. Each participant will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop. Participants will get to showcase their paintings of the day and one previous work at the Exhibition that follows this workshop! Last date for registration is 10 April 2012. So hurry and visit the website to register yourself.

Lawyers’ Forum holds legal seminar


ndian Lawyers’ Forum, Kuwait, the Association of Indian Lawyers and Law Graduates working in Kuwait, organized a Legal Seminar at the United Indian School Abbassiya. The function was presided over by the Advocate Palavilayil Thomas Panicker, The President of the Indian Lawyers Forum Kuwait. Adv Thomas Panicker in his speech welcomed everybody to the function and emphasized the importance of the Forum activities and highlighted its utility to the local Indian Community & the Forum Members in Kuwait. President offered Forum’s services and assistance to any Legal Seminar conduct-

ed by any associations in Kuwait. New members - Adv. Jeeva Sini Kumar, Fathima Shereefa, Nithara, were introduced to the Forum. General Secretary Suresh Pulikkal welcomed the guests and spoke on the Legal Services, Forum rendering to the Indian Community. Discussion on the New Labour Law & Company Formation procedures, were followed. The Discussions were presented by Advocate Rajesh Sagar and Adv. Thomas Stephen, Senior Lawyers, were very much informative and was appreciated by the crowd. After the presentations there was an interactive session, where members discussed the different aspects of the subjects presented.

Future Eye Theatre anniversary Future Eye Theatre, Kuwait will celebrate its second anniversary on April 13, 2012 (6 pm to 9.30pm on Friday) at the Indian Central School auditorium, Abbassiya. The celebration entitled ‘Kaliyarangu’, will showcase a variety of theatre presentations. Manjulan, a well-known film and theatre personality from Kerala, will be the chief guest of the this year’s celebration. Manjulan’s solo drama ‘Koonan’ will be a major attraction of the anniversary celebration. The highlight of the celebration will be the staging of the Malayalam version of Samuel Beckett’s most celebrated play ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Future Eye Theatre members. A theatre sketch on Bertolt Brecht’s popular play ‘Threepenny Opera’ will also be staged on the occasion. All theatre lovers are welcome. Entry is free. Ambassadors of Comedy Dean-Obeidallah (The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour), Nitin Mirani (King Of UAE Comedy), Aron Kader (The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour). All of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the St. John Ambulance Brigade (India) and the Fazlani Foundation (India). Go out and have fun while supporting a wonderful cause When: April 27, 2012 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm at the American International School (Hamood Al-Naser Street, Dr. Kamil Al-Rayes Auditorium, Meidan Hawalli) Contact: Mohamed Kagdi or Minhaj Shikari 99788692 or 99710242 Ian Buchanan lecture Professor Ian Buchanan is the Director of the Institute for Social Transformation Research at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Prior to taking up this appointment he was Professor of Critical Theory at Cardiff University in the UK. He is the author of numerous books including Michel de Certeau: Cultural Theorist (2000), Deleuzism: A Metacommentary (2000), Fredric Jameson: Live Theory (2006), Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (2008), and, most recently, the Dictionary of Critical Theory published by Oxford University Press (2010). He is founding editor of the journal Deleuze Studies; editor of two book series, “Deleuze Connections” (Edinburgh University Press) and “Deleuze Encounters” (Continuum); and co-editor of two additional book series, “Critical Connections” and “Plateaus” (both from Edinburgh University Press). Professor Buchanan has given papers at conferences all over the world. When: April 4, 2012 @ 11:45 am. KKIC to hold Islamic Conference for Indian Students Kuwait Kerala Islahi Centre (KKIC) will conduct an Islamic Students Conference (ISCON 2012, Kuwait) for Indian teenage students on May 4-5 at the Kuwait Grand Masjid premises. The conference, adopting the phrase ‘Knowledge for Salvation’ as its slogan, is aiming at invigorating the moral conscience of the student community. The core events will include workshops on value based character building, scientific personality assessment and self management techniques. Ashraf Ekarul, Education Secretary to KKIC informed that experienced trainers, academics, Islamic scholars and other dignitaries will attend the two day conference.

Ramapuram association conducts family picnic and farewell


he Ramapuram association (RAK) conducted family picnic and farewell. Former Ramapuram panchayathu president and the congress committee president VC Chacko Vattukunnel who is in Kuwait for a short visit was the chief guest. Many sports and cultural activities and competitions were held during the event. Chief guest of the function VC Chacko distributed the Gulfmart cash vouchers as prizes to the winners of different sports and games. A memento was given as a token of gratitude during the farewell to the association member Surendran, who is going to India for good.

CSK celebrates Bangladesh Independence Day 2012


hittagong Samity Kuwait (CSK) arranged a get-together on the occasion of independence & national day 2012 of Bangladesh and Launching Ceremony of Cultural Magazine “Chattarala” in Kuwait City Gulshan Hotel Hall Room on 26th March 2012. This Event

was honored by the presence of Jahangir Hussain Patwary, President Of Bangladesh Business Men Association (BEBA) and Managing Director of DIAMOND Group as the Chief Guest and it was presided by Jafar Ahmed Chy, President of Chittagong Samity Kuwait. The Function was conduct-

ed by Mohammed Musa, Gen Sec of CSK. In his Presidential address Mr. Jafar Ahmed expressed his gratitude to the audience for sparing their valuable time to join the gettogethers, particularly the special guest Ataul Ghani Mamun, President of Comilla Society, Al Amin Chowdhury Swapan Pres.

Of Bangladesh Writers Forum, Freedom Fighter and VP of CSK Morshed Alam Badel with all other distinguished personalities representing many social, cultural as well as professional, local reporters, Editors and writers present in the gathering. Jafar Ahmed also remembered all those who sacrificed their lives and those who suffered, to attain freedom for our mother land, our proud Bangladesh. We are and should be grateful for all of them in our lives for the freedom and the present glories we are enjoying now. Chief Guest in his short speech said that after a continuous 9 months fight for freedom and sacrifice of more than 3 million martyrs, unquantifiable harassment and suffering of our parents, brothers, sisters and our children, we attained our freedom on the great day of 16 of December 1971. He also thanked Chittagong Samity and its all members and all the Editorial Team for arranging to publish Cultural Magazine “Chattarala” Independence Edition 2012 as a remembrance of our great day and advised to increase good deeds. In this get-together Ataul Ghani Mamun, Al Amin Chowdhury Swapan and Morshed Alam Badalalso also delivered speeches. ln this gathering was also present VP of CSK, Tauhidul Islam Harun, Jamal uddin, Kalam, Abdus Samad Pasha, along with CSK executives like Joint Sect. Tauhidul Alam Chy, Abdulla Noman, Susham Barua social welfare sect Shahajahan, treasurer Rejaul Karim Shah, Mohd Ayub, Mohd Rafique, Alamgir and many others.



W H AT ’ S O N

Embassy Information EMBASSY OF BRAZIL The Embassy of Brazil requests all Brazilian citizens in Kuwait to proceed to the website (Contact Us Form / Fale Conosco) in order to register or update contact information. The Embassy encourages all citizens to do so, including the ones who have already registered in person at the Embassy. The registration process helps the Brazilian Government to contact and assist Brazilians living abroad in case of any emergency. nnnnnnn

Movenpick Kuwait participates in ‘Earth Hour 2012’ initiative


ovenpick Hotel Kuwait - Free Trade Zone” participated in the international initiative “Earth Hour 2012” aimed at drawing attention to the risks of Global Warming. Hotel staff switched off lights in all Hotel facilities for one hour, from 08:30pm till 09:30pm on 31st March. This is the third successive year that the Hotel participates in this initiative. The participation is seen as part of the Environmental Awareness Program of “Movenpick Hotels & Resorts”, international hotel chain focusing on the impor-

tance of Environment continuity and saving power thus saving the Earth. Hotel General Manager, Beat Peter, announced: “Earth Hour is an international environmental event for individuals and companies alike to partake by switching off the lights and other electrical equipment for one hour on a given day. We aim at raising environmental awareness with all community individuals regarding climate change and its present and future impact to life on Earth. As we see it, this small act which we do during Earth Hour has a positive

impact to bringing into view the level of environmental awareness we have managed to achieve.” Participants in the initiative encircled the huge fountain of the Hotel where they lighted candles and small lanterns to bring light into the darkness and captured some memorial photos. Food and beverage staff put candles in all Hotel restaurants from 07:30pm till 09:30pm so as to allow Hotel guests the opportunity to enjoy their dinner around soft lights of candles to celebrate this occasion. It is also important to note that Earth

Hour initiative has been launched for the first time in 2007 in Sidney, Australia, when about 2.2 million people and more than 2 thousand companies have switched off their lights for a whole hour to express their attitude against climate change. Only one year later, Earth Hour has become a continued global movement where more than 50 million individuals throughout 35 countries have participated.

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, Al-Mutawakel St., Block 4 in Da’aiyah. Please visit our website at The Embassy of Canada is open from 07:30 to 15:30 Sunday through Thursday. The reception is closed from 12:30 to 01:00 pm for lunch break. Consular Services for Canadian Citizens are provided from 09:00 A.M until 12:00 P.M on Sunday through Wednesday. Canada offers a registration service for all Canadians travelling or living abroad. This service is provided so that Consular Officials can contact and assist Canadians in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform Canadians of a family emergency at home. The Embassy of Canada encourages all Canadian Citizens to register online through the Government of Canada Travel Website at The Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi provides visa and immigration services to residents of Kuwait. Individuals who are interested in visiting, working or immigrating to Canada are invited to visit the website of the Canadian Embassy to the UAE at nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF CYPRUS The Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus requests Cypriot citizens living in Kuwait to register with the Embassy has moved. This registration service is provided so that the Embassy can update its contact list and assist Cypriot citizens in cases of emergencies. Registration information can be emailed to or faxed to 22253227 or given by phone to 65906048 (Mrs Christine). nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF INDIA The Embassy of India will remain closed on Thursday, April 5, 2012 on account of “Mahavir Jayanti”. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF KOREA The Embassy of the Republic of Korea wishes to inform that it has moved to Mishref. New Address: Embassy of the Republic of Korea Mishref, Block 7A, Diplomatic Area 2, Plot 6 The Embassy also wishes to inform that it will be opened to the public on the following office hours: Saturdays to Thursday Morning: 8:00 am to 12:30 pm Lunch Break: 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm Afternoon: 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm nnnnnnn

Earth Hour at the Radisson Blu


he Radisson Blu Hotel, Kuwait in line with our business philosophy to live and lead Responsible Business, supported the Annual Earth Hour campaign. The following activities took place in the hotel to mark this social awareness: The lights were dimmed in and around the Al Hashemi Foyer and all non-essential lights were turned off at 20:30 hrs. Special Candle Light Dinner in the Rangoli and Al Boom restaurants. In addition the management requested the staff to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

BGF volley at Indian Central School, Abbassiya


IKEA Kuwait announces new Facebook competition


KEA Kuwait announced the launch of its next month long Facebook-based competition for all its fans in Kuwait. Running from April 1st to May 1st, 2012, fans are required to submit a photograph of themselves with a favorite IKEA furniture that they own for a chance to win one of 15 IKEA Kuwait’s products. The best 50 pictures uploaded will be posted in an album on the IKEA Kuwait Facebook page, of which 15 pictures with the most number of likes will win the ultimate prize. The prizes are a selection of IKEA products which can be found on their Facebook page. Criteria to enter the contest requests that each contestant submitting his/her picture should be a fan of the IKEA Kuwait Facebook. Those who wish to participate must ensure that both the participant and the IKEA furniture in the picture are visible and does not exceed 2MB. Also, each fan has up to five entries to broaden the possibility of winning and any digitally enhanced visuals will be automatically disqualified. The contestants names submitting the contest will be published every 24hrs and the winners will have to pick up their prize from IKEA Kuwait directly.

lessen George Foundation (BGF) Kuwait, which aims to resurrect the popularity of the game of volleyball and encourage and support budding sports talents in Kerala, will be holding a Volleyball tournament in Kuwait titled, “Blessen George Memorial volleyball Tournament” from April 12 to 14 2012. This Tournament is an attempt in this direction as well as to recapture the golden era of Volleyball in Kerala and to revive the memory of one of the Volleyball greats of Kerala, late Blessen George. Winners, Runner-up and third placed Teams will be presented valuable Prizes. Trophies and Prizes will also be distributed to Man of the Match of each Match, and best Player of the Tournament. Gifts will be offered to selected persons among the crowd. Blessen George was the best all-

rounder in India in the Volleyball game during the period from 1974 to 1982 which was considered the

golden era of Volleyball in Kerala when the State produced abundance of Volleyball talents and

Volleyball was played across the length and breadth of Kerala. He was equally brilliant in Offence and Defense and enthralled the Volleyball lovers and his fans with his attractive playing style, which included intelligent placements, magnificent smashes by both right and left hands, his airy jumps and immaculate blocks which repelled the smashes of the opposite Teams. He played alongside late Jimmy George, one of the greatest Volleyball Players of all time, and other top international Players. The Venue and Timings are as follows: Venue: Indian Central School Court, Abbassiya Date: Thursday 12th April to Saturday 14th April Timings: 5 pm to 10 pm For more details and sponsorships, contact: 99722437, 60338645, 66501482, 67085869.

Open House for Indian Citizens


he Ambassador of India will be holding an Open House for Indian citizens to address their problems/grievances on Wednesdays of the second and the fourth week of every month between 1500 hrs and 1600 hrs in the Embassy. In case Wednesday is an Embassy holiday, the meeting will be held on the next working day. To ensure timely action/followup by the Embassy, it is requested that, wherever possible, Indian citizens should exhaust the existing

channels of interaction/grievance redressal and bring their problems/issues in writing with supporting documents. It may be mentioned that Embassy of India’s Consular Wing is providing daily service of Open House to Indian citizen on all workings days from 1000 hrs to 1100 hrs and from 1430 hrs to 1530 hrs by the consular officer in the Meeting Room of the Consular Hall. For any unaddressed issues, Second Secretary (Consular) could be con-

tacted. Furthermore, the head of the Consular Wing is also available to redress grievances. Similarly, a labor wing Help Desk functions from 0830 hrs to 1300 hrs and 1400 hrs to 1630 hrs in the Labor Hall to address the labor related issue. There is also a 24X7 Help Line (Tel No. 25674163) to assist labors in distress. For any unaddressed issues, the concerned Attaches in the labor section and the head of the labor wing could be contacted.

EMBASSY OF MYANMAR Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar would like to inform the general public that the Embassy has moved its office to new location at Villa 35, Road 203, Block 2, AlSalaam Area in South Surra. The Embassy wishes to advice Myanmar citizens and travellers to Myanmar to contact Myanmar Embassy at its new location. Tel. 25240736, 25240290, Fax: 25240749, nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF NEPAL The Embassy of Nepal will be moving from its current location to a new place in Jabriya, Block 8, St. 13, House No. 514, effective from Sunday, 15th April, 2012. Till the new telephone connections are installed, the Embassy may be contacted by email: nnnnnnn

SOUTH AFRICAN EMBASSY On the occasion of Easter Sunday, the South African Embassy will be closed from Sunday, 8 April 2012 to Monday, 9 April 2012. The Embassy will resume its normal working hours on Tuesday, 10 April 2012, from Sunday to Thursday. Please note that the working hours will be from 8h00 to 16h00 & the Consular Section operation hours will from 8h30 to 12h30. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF ROMANIA The Embassy of Romania to the State of Kuwait would like to inform that the Consular Section of the Embassy will be close for construction works beginning with 18 April 2012, till 10 May 2012. During this period of time the Consular Section will not issue any type of visas for Romania and will not issue any Romanian passports or travel documents. The Consular Section will only be able to assist with notary deeds. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF THAILAND The Royal Thai Embassy in Kuwait, wishes to invite the Kuwaiti companies that deal business with Thai companies or those agencies of Thai commercial companies to visit the Embassy’s Commercial Office to register their relevant information to be part of the embassy’s business and trade database. The Royal Thai Embassy is located in Jabriya, Block 6, Street 8, Villa No. 1, Telephone No. 25317530 -25317531, Ext: 14.

Write to us Send to What’s On upcoming events, birthdays or celebrations by email: Fax: 24835619 / 20

Classifieds TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2012

Contact with details. E-mail: (C 3930)

MATRIMONIAL Kuwait Orthodox parents invite proposals for their son 29/172 cm, M.Com PGDBA, B & B in Kuwait and employed in a reputed MNC in Kuwait since 2008 from parents of Orthodox/ Jacobite/ Marthoma/ CSI girls B.Tech/ MCA/ MBA/ M.Com or suitably qualified and employed in Kuwait.




Time 0:15 0:20 0:30 2:10 2:20 2:25 2:30 2:50 2:55 3:10 3:25 3:55 4:10 4:35 5:00 5:30 6:00 6:15 6:30 6:35 7:15 7:45 7:50 7:55 8:05 8:15 8:25 8:30 9:00 9:20 9:20 9:30 9:40 10:00 10:30 10:55 11:05 11:25 12:25 12:30 13:10 13:30 13:35 13:40 13:40 13:45 14:15 14:25 14:30 14:30 14:55 15:05 15:05 15:15 16:00 16:35 16:40 16:40 16:55 17:05 17:15 17:20 17:25 17:30 17:40 17:45 18:00 18:15 18:40 18:40 18:45 18:45 18:55 19:20 19:25 19:30 19:30 19:35 19:40 19:55 20:00 20:10 20:15 20:25 20:35 21:00 21:05 21:15 21:15 21:30 21:35 22:00 22:25 22:35 22:40 22:55 23:10 23:40 23:59



Time 0:05 0:25 0:30 0:55 1:00 2:15 2:30 3:45 3:50 3:55 3:55 3:55 4:05 4:50 5:40 6:00 6:50 6:55 7:00 7:05 7:10 8:10 8:25 8:25 8:35 9:05 9:10 9:15 9:15 9:20 9:40 9:45 10:00 10:00 10:00 10:05 10:15 10:20 10:40 10:45 11:10 11:30 11:45 11:55 12:15 12:25 13:10 13:15 13:20 14:10 14:20 14:25 14:30 15:05 15:15 15:45 15:45 15:45 15:50 16:15 16:25 16:30 16:30 17:20 17:30 17:40 17:45 17:50 18:05 18:15 18:20 18:25 18:35 18:40 18:50 19:10 19:25 19:55 20:05 20:15 20:20 20:35 20:40 20:55 21:05 21:10 21:15 21:30 21:35 21:50 22:00 22:05 22:10 22:20 22:25 22:30 22:35 22:40 22:45 23:00 23:00 23:10 23:10 23:40 23:50

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (

Australian businessman just arrived in Kuwait, speaks good Arabic, seeking opportunity with well organized company in the field of Management, Auditing and/or Motor Industr y. Contact: 65835338. (C 3932) 3-4-2012

CHANGE OF NAME I, Mona D/o Syed Anwar R/o 18-8-134, Dargah Barhaneshah, Riyasathnagar, Hyd having Passport No. H4559826 have changed my name, henceforth I shall be known & called as MONA SYED ANWAR. (C 3928)


Tel.: e 161


Qualified Chemical Engineer, extensive experience working at laboratory based research petroleum industries and industrial chemistry, more than 15 years in KISR Kuwait and Sydney-Australia, fluent in English and Arabic. Contact: 65151142, E-mail: (C 3927) 29-3-2012


Ext.: 2627 26 - 2630

Fax: 24348714 WWW.MET.GOV V.KW .



Issue Time

Expected Weeather for the Next 24 Hours BY Y NIGHT:

Clouds will increase gradually with moderate to fresh south easterly wind, with speed of 20 - 40 km/h with a chance for scattered rain later on


Partly cloudy with light to moderate freshening gradually at times south easterly wind, with speed of 15 - 40 km/h causing raising dust with a chance for rain


No Current Warnings arnin a





29 °C

20 °C


30 °C

17 °C


29 °C

17 °C


33 °C

15 °C


33 °C

17 °C


33 °C

15 °C


31 °C

18 °C


28 °C

18 °C


23 °C

21 °C


25 °C

20 °C


26 °C

18 °C


02/04/2012 1200UTC

4 DA AYS Y FORECAST Temperatures DA AY





Wednesday e


Thursday Friday

Wind Speed

Wind Direction



partly cloudy + blowing dust+scatt. rain PM

32 °C

17 °C


15 - 40 km/h

partly cloudy + blowing dust+scatt. rain

31 °C

17 °C


20 - 45 km/h


partly cloudy

32 °C

18 °C


08 - 30 km/h


partly cloudy

32 °C

18 °C


08 - 28 km/h





MAX. Temp.

29 °C



MIN. Temp.

12 °C




41 %




09 %



MAX. Wind

SE 28 km/h




All times are local time unless otherwise stated.

02/04/12 15:27 UTC

00 mm V1.00







Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

Fahaeel Makka St Abu Halaifa-Coastal Rd Mahboula Block 1, Coastal Rd

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638


Tariq Hana Ikhlas Hawally & Rawdha Ghadeer Kindy Ibn Al-Nafis Mishrif Coop Salwa Coop

Salmiya-Hamad Mubarak St Salmiya-Amman St Hawally-Beirut St Hawally & Rawdha Coop Jabriya-Block 1A Jabriya-Block 3B Salmiya-Hamad Mubarak St Mishrif Coop Salwa Coop

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241

THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY FOR CIVIL INFORMATION Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is 1889988

112 Ministry of Interior website: For labor-related inquiries and complaints: Call MSAL hotline 128


MOSCOW: Soldiers of the Presidential Regiment take part in the Change of Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just outside the Kremlin wall in Moscow yesterday. — AFP



03:00 Deep Into The Wild With Nick Baker 03:30 Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous 04:25 Wild France 05:20 Escape To Chimp Eden 05:45 In Too Deep 06:10 Animal Cops Philadelphia 07:00 Monkey Life 07:25 Michaela’s Animal Road Trip 08:15 Crocodile Hunter 09:10 Pandamonium 10:05 The Really Wild Show 10:30 The Really Wild Show 11:00 Safari Sisters 11:25 Cats Of Claw Hill 11:55 The Jeff Corwin Experience 12:50 Wild France 13:45 Wild France 14:40 Wildlife SOS 15:05 Wildlife SOS 15:35 Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous 16:30 Wild Animal Orphans 16:55 Wild Animal Orphans 17:25 Venom Hunter With Donald Schultz 18:20 Big Five Challenge 19:15 Untamed China With Nigel Marven 20:10 Weird Creatures With Nick Baker 21:05 Austin Stevens Adventures 22:00 Planet Earth 22:55 In Search Of The King Cobra 23:50 Animal Cops Philadelphia

03:35 04:25 05:10 06:40 07:00 13:10 13:35 14:25 15:10 16:00 16:25 16:50 17:35 18:25 19:20 20:05 20:55 21:45 22:30 23:20

Gok’s Fashion Fix Gok’s Fashion Fix Cash In The Attic USA Cash In The Attic USA MasterChef Australia MasterChef Australia 10 Years Younger Gok’s Fashion Fix Gok’s Fashion Fix Diy SOS Diy SOS Holmes On Homes Holmes On Homes What Not To Wear Gok’s Fashion Fix Gok’s Fashion Fix Holmes On Homes Holmes On Homes Gok’s Fashion Fix Gok’s Fashion Fix

03:00 03:10 03:30 04:00 04:30 05:00 05:10 06:00 06:30 07:00 07:30 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:10 10:30 11:00 11:10 11:30 12:00 12:10 12:30 13:00 13:10 13:30 14:00 14:30 15:00 15:10 15:30 16:00 16:15 16:30

BBC World News World Features Talking Movies BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News The Doha Debates BBC World News Click BBC World News Newsnight BBC World News India Business Report BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News World Features Talking Movies BBC World News World Features Dateline London BBC World News World Features One Square Mile BBC World News World Features Africa Business Report BBC World News Newsnight BBC World News World Features The Bottom Line BBC World News Sport Today Click

17:00 17:30 18:00 18:10 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00 22:10 22:30 23:00 23:10 23:30

BBC World News Working Lives BBC World News The Doha Debates BBC World News India Business Report BBC World News The Bottom Line Sports World Have Your Say Sports World Have Your Say BBC World News World Features Talking Movies BBC World News World Features Working Lives

03:00 CNN Marketplace Europe 03:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 03:30 The Brief 04:00 CNN Presents 05:00 CNN Newsroom 06:00 The CNN Freedom Project 06:30 Inside Africa 07:00 World Sport 07:30 Road To Rio: A Green City Journey 08:00 World Report 08:15 CNN Marketplace Middle East 08:30 Talk Asia 09:00 World Report 09:15 CNN Marketplace Europe 09:30 I Report For CNN 10:00 World Sport 10:30 Aiming For Gold 11:00 African Voices 11:30 The Brief 12:00 World Report 12:30 News Special 13:00 CNN Presents 14:00 World Report 14:30 Leading Women 14:45 Future Cities 15:00 Fareed Zakaria Gps 16:00 State Of The Union 17:00 International Desk 17:30 Inside Africa 18:00 Global Exchange 18:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 18:30 Global Exchange 18:45 CNN Marketplace Middle East 19:00 World Sport 19:30 Open Court 20:00 International Desk 20:30 African Voices 21:00 International Desk 21:30 Road To Rio: A Green City Journey 22:00 Fareed Zakaria Gps 23:00 World Report 23:30 News Special

03:00 How Do They Do It? 03:25 How It’s Made 03:55 How Do They Do It? 04:20 How It’s Made 04:50 How Do They Do It? 05:15 How It’s Made 05:40 How Do They Do It? 06:05 How It’s Made 06:35 How Do They Do It? 07:00 How Do They Do It? 07:25 American Chopper: Senior vs Junior 08:15 Desert Car Kings 09:10 Street Customs 10:05 Auction Kings 11:50 Auction Kings 12:20 Border Security 14:10 Border Security 14:35 Cash Cab Us 16:25 Cash Cab Us 16:55 Cake Boss 18:45 Cake Boss 19:10 Penn & Teller Tell A Lie 20:05 The Future Of... 21:00 Mythbusters 21:55 Lou Ferrante’s Mob Rules 22:50 South Beach Classics 23:20 South Beach Classics 23:45 South Beach Classics

03:05 The Gadget Show 05:40 The Gadget Show

06:10 07:00 07:55 07:58 08:25 08:55 09:45 10:35 14:20 14:45 14:48 15:15 15:45 16:10 17:00 17:50 18:15 18:40 19:30 20:20 21:10 21:35 22:00 22:50 23:40

Future Weapons Future Weapons Head Rush Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections Smash Lab Catch It Keep It The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Head Rush Sci-Fi Science Weird Connections The Tech Show Future Weapons Sci-Trek Bang Goes The Theory Bang Goes The Theory Robocar Killer Outbreaks Mega World Tech Toys 360 Tech Toys 360 Robocar Killer Outbreaks Weird Or What?

03:10 03:35 04:00 04:25 04:50 05:15 05:35 06:00 06:25 06:40 Cody 07:05 07:30 07:41 07:55 08:20 08:45 09:10 09:35 10:00 10:25 11:55 12:05 12:16 12:25 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:10 14:35 15:00 15:25 15:50 16:15 16:40 17:05 17:30 18:50 19:05 19:10 19:35 20:00 20:25 20:50 21:15 22:45 22:55 23:06 23:20 Cody 23:45

Stitch Replacements Replacements Fairly Odd Parents Fairly Odd Parents A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jake & The Neverland Pirates The Suite Life Of Zack And

06:00 06:20 06:45 07:10 07:35 07:45 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:30 10:55 11:20 11:45 12:10

Kid vs Kat Rekkit Rabbit Rekkit Rabbit Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Timon And Pumbaa Timon And Pumbaa Mr. Young Mr. Young Kickin It Kickin It Zeke & Luther Zeke & Luther Scaredy Squirrel Scaredy Squirrel


So Random Fish Hooks Fish Hooks Wizards Of Waverly Place Good Luck Charlie Suite Life On Deck Jessie Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm Hatching Pete Phineas And Ferb Fish Hooks Fish Hooks Have A Laugh Shake It Up Good Luck Charlie A.N.T. Farm Recess Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place So Random Phineas And Ferb Shake It Up So Random So Random So Random Dadnapped Phineas And Ferb Have A Laugh So Random A.N.T. Farm Wizards Of Waverly Place Good Luck Charlie Recess Hatching Pete Have A Laugh Fish Hooks Fish Hooks The Suite Life Of Zack And Sonny With A Chance

12:35 12:45 13:00 14:20 14:35 15:00 15:25 15:50 16:15 16:40 17:05 17:30 17:55 18:05 18:20 18:30 18:45 19:10 19:35 20:00 20:25 20:50 21:15 21:40 22:05 22:30 23:00 KSA

Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb The Suite Life Movie Phineas And Ferb Mr. Young Mr. Young Timon And Pumbaa Timon And Pumbaa Rated A For Awesome Rated A For Awesome Kick Buttowski Kick Buttowski Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Kickin It Kickin It Zeke & Luther Zeke & Luther I’m In The Band I’m In The Band Pair Of Kings Pair Of Kings Kid vs Kat Kid vs Kat Programmes Start At 6:00am

04:10 Sexiest 05:05 Then And Now 05:30 Then And Now 06:00 THS 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Extreme Close-Up 09:45 Extreme Close-Up 10:15 THS 11:10 Ice Loves Coco 11:40 Ice Loves Coco 12:05 E! News 13:05 Style Star 13:35 Style Star 14:05 Keeping Up With Kardashians 14:35 Keeping Up With Kardashians 15:00 Kourtney & Kim Take York 15:55 Kourtney & Kim Take York 16:55 Behind The Scenes 17:25 Ice Loves Coco 20:55 Ice Loves Coco 21:25 Khloe And Lamar 21:55 Ice Loves Coco 22:25 Fashion Police 23:25 Chelsea Lately 23:55 Keeping Up With Kardashians

The The New New


03:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 03:25 Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam 03:50 Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam 04:15 Unique Sweets 04:40 Good Eats 05:05 Aarti Party 05:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 05:50 Food Network Challenge 06:35 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 07:00 Food Network Challenge 07:50 World Cafe Asia 08:15 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 08:40 Good Eats 09:05 Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger 09:30 Paula’s Best Dishes 09:55 Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam 10:20 Lidia’s Italy 10:45 Reza, Spice Prince Of India 11:10 Unwrapped 11:35 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 12:00 Good Eats 12:25 Guy’s Big Bite 12:50 Aarti Party 13:15 Cooking For Real 13:40 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 14:05 Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger 14:30 Unwrapped 14:55 Paula’s Best Dishes 15:20 Meat & Potatoes 15:45 Chopped 16:35 Cooking For Real 17:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 17:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 17:50 Aarti Party 18:15 Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam 18:40 Chef vs Britain 19:05 Meat & Potatoes 19:30 Food Network Challenge 20:20 Chopped 21:10 Restaurant: Impossible 22:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 22:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 22:50 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 23:15 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 23:40 Meat & Potatoes

03:10 03:35 04:00 04:50 05:40 06:30 07:00 2008 07:30 2008 08:00 08:25 08:50 09:15 09:40 10:30 11:20 12:10 13:00 13:50 14:15 14:40 15:30 16:45 17:10 17:35 18:00 18:25 18:50 19:40 20:30 21:20 21:45 22:10 22:35 23:00

Sports Jobs Sports Jobs Carpocalypse Summer Dew Tour 2011 Summer Dew Tour 2011 Ride Guide Snow 2008 Ride Guide Mountainbike Ride Guide Mountainbike Freeflow Tour Freeflow Tour Slovaki: A True Movie About... Parcour Alli Presents Alli Presents Summer Dew Tour 2011 Summer Dew Tour 2011 Mantracker Formula Drift 2011 Formula Drift 2011 Man’s Work Man’s Work Man’s Work Best Of The Streets Best Of The Streets Formula Drift 2011 Formula Drift 2011 Summer Dew Tour 2011 Summer Dew Tour 2011 Mantracker Ed’s Up Ed’s Up Formula Drift 2011 Formula Drift 2011 Best Of The Streets

03:25 Knightriders-18 05:25 Semi-Tough 07:10 The January Man-PG 09:00 Flight From Ashiya-PG 10:45 Danielle Steel’s Heartbeat-PG 12:20 Article 99-18 14:05 Crime And Punishment-PG 15:40 Mgm’s Big Screen-FAM 16:00 Twelve Angry Men 18:00 The Perez Family-PG 19:55 De-Lovely 22:00 Everything You Always...... Sex-18 23:25 Toy Soldiers-18

03:40 04:25 Jones 05:15 06:10 07:00 07:50 08:40 09:25 10:10 10:35 10:55 Jones 11:40 12:25 13:15 14:00 14:25 14:50 Jones 15:35 16:20 17:10 18:00 18:45 19:10 19:55 20:20 Jones 21:10 22:00 22:50 23:40

A Haunting True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis FBI Case Files Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Real Emergency Calls Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Real Emergency Calls Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared FBI Case Files Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Real Emergency Calls Mystery Diagnosis Mall Cops – Mall Of America True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Behind Mansion Walls Kidnap And Rescue Scorned: Crimes Of Passion

NAT GEO ADVENTURE 03:00 Nomads 04:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 05:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 06:00 Departures 07:00 The Ride: Alaska To Patagonia 07:30 Madventures 08:00 Departures 09:00 Nomads 10:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 11:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 12:00 Departures 13:00 Meet The Natives: USA 14:00 Young Global Hotshots 14:30 One Man & His Campervan 15:00 Bondi Rescue 15:30 Extreme Tourist Afghanistan 16:30 Long Way Down 17:30 The Best Job In The World 18:00 By Any Means 19:00 Meet The Natives: USA 20:00 Young Global Hotshots 20:30 One Man & His Campervan 21:00 Bondi Rescue 21:30 Extreme Tourist Afghanistan 22:30 Long Way Down 23:30 The Best Job In The World

03:45 Monster Fish 04:40 Maneater Manhunt 05:35 Crimes Against Nature 06:30 Dangerous Encounters With Brady Barr 07:25 The Invaders 08:20 Monkey Thieves 08:45 Monkey Thieves 09:15 Python Hunters 10:10 The Great Serengeti (aka Serengeti) 11:05 Hidden Worlds 11:30 Hidden Worlds 12:00 Ultimate Vipers 13:00 Bears Of Fear Island 14:00 Monster Fish 15:00 Hooked 16:00 How Big Can It Get 17:00 Swamp Lions 18:00 Bug Attack 19:00 Monster Fish 20:00 Hooked 21:00 How Big Can It Get 22:00 Swamp Lions 23:00 Bug Attack

04:00 Men In Black II-PG 06:00 Warriors Of Heaven And Earth-PG15 08:00 Shinjuku Incident-PG15 10:00 The Haunting Of Molly Hartley-18 12:00 Secret Window-PG15 14:00 Shinjuku Incident-PG15 16:00 Ticking Clock-PG15 18:00 Secret Window-PG15 20:00 The Daisy Chain-PG15 22:00 Flightplan-PG15

03:00 The Green Hornet-PG15 05:00 Bright Star-PG15 07:15 16 To Life-PG15 09:00 Swansong: Story Of Occi Byrne-PG15 11:00 Bright Star-PG15 13:15 The Art Of Getting By-PG15 15:00 Swansong: Story Of Occi Byrne-PG15 17:00 Certified Copy-PG15 19:00 The Tempest-PG15 21:00 The King’s Speech-PG15 23:15 MacGruber-18

03:00 03:30 04:00 04:30 Leno 05:30 06:00 06:30 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00

Parks And Recreation 2 Broke Girls Traffic Light The Tonight Show With Jay Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne Weird Science How I Met Your Mother Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Mad Love Parks And Recreation Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne The Office Man Up!

BRIGHTSTAR ON OSN CINEMA 10:30 How I Met Your Mother 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Weird Science 12:30 The Simpsons 13:00 Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne 13:30 How I Met Your Mother 14:00 2 Broke Girls 14:30 Man Up! 15:00 The Office 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 Weird Science 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Friends With Benefits 18:30 Friends With Benefits 19:00 Raising Hope 19:30 Traffic Light 20:00 Whitney 20:30 Allen Gregory 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Saturday Night Live 23:00 Family Guy 23:30 Whitney

03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Warehouse 13 Combat Hospital The View Live Good Morning America C.S.I. Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Martha Stewart Show The View Criminal Minds Warehouse 13 Top Gear (UK) Live Good Morning America C.S.I. The Ellen DeGeneres Show Emmerdale Coronation Street Body Of Proof Unforgettable Missing Top Gear (US) Combat Hospital

03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 12:30 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 16:30 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Sons Of Anarchy Warehouse 13 One Tree Hill Bones Emmerdale Coronation Street Terriers Top Gear (UK) Criminal Minds Warehouse 13 Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Terriers Bones Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Franklin & Bash Body Of Proof Unforgettable Missing Top Gear (US) The Killing

03:00 05:00 PG15 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 PG15 15:15 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

Men In Black II-PG The Burningmoore IncidentTriassic Attack-PG15 Blank Slate-PG15 Dick Tracy-PG15 The Hunt For Red OctoberBlank Slate-PG15 Returner-PG15 Blood Out-18 Flightplan-PG15 Walled In-PG15

04:00 The Addams Family-PG 06:00 Addams Family Values-PG 08:00 Nothing Like The HolidaysPG15 10:00 For Richer Or Poorer-PG 12:00 Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement-FAM 14:00 Just Married-PG15

16:00 Roommates-PG15 18:00 Away We Go-PG15 20:00 The Slammin’ Salmon-18 22:00 Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie-PG15

03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

The Time Traveler’s Wife-PG15 Don’t Look Back-PG15 Teen Knight-PG15 The Associate-PG15 The Eclipse-PG15 Shipwrecked-PG The Moveon.Org Story-PG15 Khao Niao Moo Ping-PG15 Eight Below-PG The Silence Of The Lambs-18 Posse-18

03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 10:45 13:15 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

Love The Beast-PG Bound By A Secret-PG15 Ways To Live Forever-PG15 My Sassy Girl-PG15 Forrest Gump-PG15 Chico & Rita-18 Inside Job-PG15 My Sassy Girl-PG15 Eight Below-PG Burlesque-PG15 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World-18

04:00 Flubber-PG 06:00 Supertramps-FAM 07:45 Ulysses-PG 09:45 Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure-PG 12:00 Yogi Bear-FAM 14:00 Flubber-PG 16:00 Rh+ The Vampire Of SevillePG 18:00 Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure-PG 20:00 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie-PG 22:00 Ulysses-PG

03:00 Live NBC Saturday Today Show 05:00 Live ABC 20/20 06:00 ABC World News Now With David Muir 06:30 Live NBC Nightly News (SatSun) 07:00 ABC World News Now With David Muir 07:30 Live NBC Nightly News (SatSun) 08:00 PBS Newshour 09:00 ABC World News Now With David Muir 09:30 Live NBC Nightly News (SatSun) 10:00 MSNBC The Dylan Ratigan Show 11:00 MSNBC Hardball W/ Chris Matthews 12:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 13:00 Live ABC 20/20 14:00 MSNBC Hardball Weekend 14:30 MSNBC Your Business 15:00 Live NBC Sunday Today Show 16:00 Live NBC Meet The Press 17:00 ABC This Week With G Stephanopoulos 18:00 MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry 19:00 Live NBC Meet The Press 20:00 ABC This Week With G Stephanopoulos 21:00 MSNBC Hardball W/ Chris Matthews 22:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 23:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show

04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 11:45 14:00 16:00 17:45 19:45 21:45

City Of Life-PG15 Strength And Honour-PG15 Bustin’ Down The Door-PG15 Fast Lane-PG15 Soul Surfer-PG15 Bustin’ Down The Door-PG15 Quest For Zhu-PG Across The Hall-PG15 Unstoppable-PG15 Predators-18

04:00 05:00 07:00 09:00

UFC The Ultimate Fighter Super League Live NRL Premiership Dubai World Cup

14:00 18:00 19:00 21:00

Live European PGA Tour Trans World Sport NRL Premiership European PGA Tour

04:30 06:30 07:00 07:30 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 19:30 21:30 23:30

Super Rugby Futbol Mundial Total Rugby NRL Full Time Live NRL Premiership NRL Premiership Pro 12 Celtic League Trans World Sport Scottish Premier League Live Scottish Premier League Futbol Mundial Pro 12 Celtic League Super Rugby Scottish Premier League

05:00 07:00 08:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 15:30 17:30 21:30 23:30

Top 14 Trans World Sport Live AFL Premiership Scottish Premier League Super Rugby Futbol Mundial NRL Premiership Asian Tour Golf Scottish Premier League Super Rugby

03:00 WWE Vintage Collection 04:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 05:00 UFC Unleashed 06:00 UFC Unleashed 07:00 WWE This Week 07:30 V8 Supercars Challenge 08:30 Live V8 Supercars Championship 10:00 Live Asian Tour Golf 14:00 V8 Supercars Challenge 15:30 WWE Experience 16:30 WWE This Week 17:00 WWE SmackDown 18:45 WWE Experience 19:45 WWE Bottom Line 20:45 V8 Supercars Challenge 22:15 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 23:15 UFC

03:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 20:30 21:00 22:00

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Aries (March 21-April 19) Progressive people and optimistic groups or concepts play an important role in your life. You have an opportunity to network about your business or business interests during the lunch break today. Networking is a good idea. You are sure to make some new friends as well as a few business contacts. Direct your energy toward some creative project this afternoon that gives plenty of room for self-expression. It could be very satisfying. Luck is certainly with you now and good things are bound to happen. You relate well to others in social surroundings this afternoon. A last minute reminder to pick up a gift for a friend may cause a delay in your plans this afternoon but it is important to follow through with this errand.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) If you give your best effort now, success is certain to follow, particularly in the workplace. The environment slows you down a little today, making you realistic about your abilities and expectations for success. Your nature will most likely be stoical, as you take a serious attitude to just about all aspects of your life. Take some time to sit down alone and do your work and you will get many things accomplished. This afternoon your life will seem more satisfying. You feel a special bond with friends and loved ones. Companionship with others is most rewarding at this time. Enjoy an early dinner with your special someone this evening or invite your friends over for a neighborhood planning session. You could enjoy some fun conversations.

POOCH CAFE ACROSS 1. The law enforcement agency in the Justice Department. 4. United States financier (born in France) who helped finance the War of 1812 (1750-1831). 10. The act of hauling something (as a vehicle) by means of a hitch or rope. 13. Concerning those not members of the clergy. 14. Any member of Athapaskan tribes that migrated to the southwestern desert (from Arizona to Texas and south into Mexico). 15. Any of various primates with short tails or no tail at all. 16. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 17. Least expensive statin drug (trade name Lescol). 18. The basic unit of money in Albania. 19. Covered with paving material. 21. Genus of tropical plants with creeping rootstocks and small umbellate flowers. 23. Squash bugs. 25. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 26. United States writer (born in Poland) who wrote in Yiddish (1880-1957). 28. Being ten more than one hundred ninety. 29. The villain in William Shakespeare's tragedy who tricked Othello into murdering his wife. 33. Date used in reckoning dates before the supposed year Christ was born. 34. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 37. A room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter. 39. A master's degree in business. 41. United States musician (born in Japan) who married John Lennon and collaborated with him on recordings (born in 1933). 42. Swelling from excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue. 45. An associate degree in nursing. 46. A manicurist who trims the fingernails. 48. A member of an agricultural people of southern India. 50. A doctor's degree in optometry. 51. A European river. 53. Before noon. 55. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 59. A doughnut-shaped chamber used in fusion research. 62. Filled with fear or apprehension. 64. An agency of the United Nations affiliated with the World Bank. 65. On a ship, train, plane or other vehicle. 67. A Turkish unit of weight equal to about 2.75 pounds. 68. The syllable naming the fifth (dominant) note of any musical scale in solmization. 69. Type genus of the Caricaceae. 70. Having leadership guidance. DOWN 1. Having a horizontal surface in which no part is higher or lower than another. 2. A small cake leavened with yeast. 3. The eighth month of the civil year. 4. A mountain peak in the Andes in Argentina (21,654 feet high). 5. A medicinal drug used to evoke vomiting (especially in cases of drug overdose or poisoning). 6. The network in the reticular formation that serves an alerting or arousal function. 7. The capital and largest city of Ghana with a deep-water port. 8. The 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. 9. A low triangular area where a river divides before entering a larger body of water. 10. A fine grained mineral having a soft soapy feel and consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate. 11. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 12. Flightless New Zealand rail of thievish disposition having short wings each with a spur used in fighting. 20. A member of the Siouan people formerly living in the Missouri river valley in NE Nebraska. 22. Harsh or corrosive in tone. 24. A white trivalent metallic element. 27. Any of a number of fishes of the family Carangidae. 30. Little known Kamarupan languages. 31. A self-replicating protein molecule that occupies a fixed place on a chromosome. 32. Any property detected by the olfactory system. 35. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 36. A collection of things (goods or works of art etc.) for public display. 38. (Old Testament) Wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau. 40. A flexible container with a single opening. 43. God of death. 44. A public promotion of some product or service. 47. The sixth month of the civil year. 49. Jordan's port. 52. (informal) Someone whose style is out of fashion. 54. Made from residue of grapes or apples after pressing. 55. A hard gray lustrous metallic element that is highly corrosion-resistant. 56. A correctional institution used to detain persons who are in the lawful custody of the government (either accused persons awaiting trial or convicted persons serving a sentence). 57. A long walk usually for exercise or pleasure. 58. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 60. (British) A waterproof raincoat made of rubberized fabric. 61. An ancient Hebrew unit of capacity equal to 10 baths or 10 ephahs. 63. A federal agency established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products. 66. The branch of computer science that deal with writing computer programs that can solve problems creatively.

Yesterday’s Solution

Gemini (May 21-June 20) It may be hard to muster up the energy to dive into today’s work load. However, as you get into the rhythm of the day, you will find success. You will be finished with the day before you know it—no overtime. There are good practical job-related thoughts and ideas available today. The ability to communicate with superiors or describe what you see is in fine order. This afternoon is a time for dreaming and wishing to be surrounded by beauty. Hopefully, you will leave work, at work. You and a very special someone in your life have an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. You are quite creative and can usually find unique ways to relax and enjoy time away from the workplace. You may choose to cook a special, romantic meal tonight.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)


Today is a good day to work with others or work in groups. You could be most persuasive and if you are in a position to sell items, you should do very well. Today’s work is perfect for self-expression and lends itself to your particular ideas and thoughts. You can really get your thoughts and ideas across to others—perhaps in advertising. Good communication skills grab the attention of others. It would be good to help others when you finish your own work; your time will be appreciated; there is much success. Your management and directional abilities are in high focus—you could set the course. Perhaps there is time this evening to think and study because you have a real appreciation for ideas and thoughts. You may enjoy a special phone call tonight.

Leo (July 23-August 22) You may feel like blowing your own horn today. Just remember to play on key. This may mean you will be giving a lecture or teaching a class. Giving examples of your own experience could be a temptation to become long-winded or carried away! This afternoon could be a period of hard work as well as finding opportunities to branch out in new directions. While your ability to detect your partner’s true feelings are great, you should not let high aspirations cloud your judgment of other people’s abilities and talents. You could be challenged to do a little problem solving on the home front this evening. This may involve young people. Listen and ask questions, then listen some more—for as long as it takes. You will be pleased with the outcome.


Virgo (August 23-September 22) This is a great day to get things done, whether you are alone or with others—especially if you lead. State your agenda logically and even those who may disagree will respect you. Strong-minded persons are attracted to you and you to them. You may feel intellectually competitive and could become irritated by trivialities. If you remember your priorities, it can be a productive day. After a full day at work, there is a need to return to that warm and secure feeling you get in your home and with your family. Nurture yourself by doing something for someone else this afternoon. Communication with a long-distance relative or friend is encouraging this evening—you should think about visiting with this person more often, even if he or she is out of town.

Libra (September 23-October 22)


Working with a co-worker you may detect a problem that was previously overlooked. Do not keep this to yourself, thinking you are saving time and nobody will notice—somebody will. Bring the mistake to your coworkers attention so that both of you can find an answer and receive credit for the correction. Your co-workers will appreciate your team attitude. You feel good today, as well as having lots of enthusiasm. Be sure to take your breaks and if the weather is good, a walk will help you gain a focus, if that is needed. Work runs smoothly in the afternoon. This is not the time to gamble, although games of chance just for practice can be a lot of fun. This evening you may find yourself playing some fun games with a loved one—for fun.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Time and a little extra passion are available now to sort out some of those relationship problems you have pushed aside until another day. Better deal with them or they could make you irritable. The more positive you keep your thinking, the more positive the outcome of the subject matter. This may also be a good time to evaluate your standing at work or in your profession. You should not hesitate to engage in new ideas or undertake original projects during this time—just as long as all the facts are known. You will find that your input regarding projects with co-workers or helpful suggestions to the frustrated customer becomes the positive result of the day. Co-worker peers or customers come to you as return business—they need your proficiency.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) It may seem that your emotions play a part in your dealings with others today. This can cloud reason, so probably it is not the best day for delicate deal making. It also is not a day when you feel like standing up to the world alone, so you would appreciate a little kindness from those close to you. You are more than willing to repay them in kind. Mental stimulation is a good thing and you are wise to seek helpful ideas from business writers, authors of psychological direction or smart high-achievers in the business world. This may take a little time so be patient with the difficult people or projects until you have some better insight into your course of action. You may see some sudden but pleasant changes in the routine family life this week.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)


As this day begins, you may be extremely hardworking and ambitious on the professional level. If you need help—help is within reach—do not complain, ask. In-depth discussions and interested conversations find you at your mental best. Your analytical abilities are at a high point. Your imagination soars! Awareness and insight into others’ minds and into spiritual matters is especially strong. Escape the rigors of the daily grind this afternoon with a good fantasy or romance novel. Don’t worry—reality always returns, but today you need a rest. This evening others will find you looking ahead to future plans. You are wise to find areas where you can best improve interaction with family and friends. A young pet needs your attention.

Yesterday’s Solution Yester

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Today, emotions could get in the way of reason. There could be important negotiations coming up now so go with the facts and not the emotions. This is a time when your powers of creativity are great. New ideas and new ways to express them take on a great deal of importance. Creating projects for display or sales attraction or legal projects or as teaching guides reaps rewards for you. Social contacts have a way of outlining new directions. You will want to show off your talents in new places. There is much activity and involvement with these subjects. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to the needs of others. Later today you may find yourself serving the community in the same unique way you work in the business world.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

Word Sleuth Solution

You are super-sensitive today and this can be rewarding or damaging, depending on how you handle it. If you focus on others, your understanding will enable you to fit into any group. This ability is helpful in any job or group get-together. If, however, you are caught up in your own feelings, you are likely to see only what you want to see—check it out. In any event, save the decisions that require clear logic for another day. This may not be the best time to shop or choose colors. You may not find much support for your particular tastes and values. The secret to getting through this time is patience. A young person wants your attention. You can demonstrate great understanding to the needs of others just now and are in a good position to help others.



LIFESTYLE G o s s i p

Bruce Willis

becomes a father again he 57-year-old actor - who has daughters Rumer, 23, Scout, 20, and 18-yearold Tallulah with ex-wife Demi Moore and spouse Emma Heming Willis are “overjoyed” at the arrival of Mabel Ray Willis, who was born on April 1 his representative has confirmed. Both Emma and Mabel Ray - who weighed in at 9lb 1oz - are said to be doing well. Bruce had previously claimed he was indifferent to having children with Emma who he married in March 2009 - as the only thing that mattered was being with her. He said: “I’d like to have a thousand more children, or zero more children. It doesn’t matter. Emma makes me feel great.” Bruce also revealed how meeting and falling in love with the British lingerie model turned his life around. He said: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and this comes after a long period of being kind of lonely, even though I tried to convince myself I was enjoying my life. “Before I met Emma I was very pessimistic about finding that special woman with whom I would want to spend my life with. “I thought it would be difficult for someone like me, who is well known, to find a woman who didn’t have an agenda and who just wanted to be with me because they loved me, pure and simple.”


Michelle Obama

Una Healy

invites One Direction to White House

reveals baby choke panic

he US First Lady asked the British boy band to the presidential home after meeting them backstage at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday, 31.03.12. First she and daughters Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10, were spotted dancing as the group - Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik - performed their single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, then she spoke with them backstage. A source told The Sun newspaper: “She invited them to the White House for their annual Easter egg hunt on Easter Monday (09.04.12). It was such an honour.” Unfortunately the band were unable to accept her invitation -and possibly meet US president Barack Obama - as their schedule means they will be in Australia next time. The source added: “They’d love to go another time.” Harry, 18, amused Michelle asking how they order pizza to be delivered living at the White House. She replied that they don’t, and have to make their own. When asked what he thought of Michelle, Liam rated her 11 out of 10, saying: “She’s a very classy woman, very elegant.” One Direction’s debut album, ‘Up All Night’ entered the US charts at number one last week, and Niall frightened a cab driver in New York with his celebrations when he heard the good news. He said: “I was just screaming down the phone and frightened the life out of the cab driver! “I had to explain the situation, because he looked at me like, ‘Get out of my cab!’ But I was shocked and shaking.”


he Saturdays singer and her England rugby player husband Ben Foden welcomed Aoife into the world last month but the couple “went into panic” when the little one began “forcefully” choking in hospital a day after she was born. Una said: “We went into panic and pushed the emergency button and the next thing we knew, our baby was whisked away and there were alarm bells ringing and staff running around. “I was screaming. It was the worst moment of my life. There’s this precious little person who you would die for and you just can’t bear to think of anything happening to her. “She was given antibiotics as a precaution and put under observation for 24 hours, then we were told it was fine to take her home.” Ben admits the couple were left “shaken” by the incident but knows there will always be aspects of parenthood that are “scary”. Ben explained: “Aoife had some fluid stuck in her lungs and when we fed her, she kept bringing it up, but on this occasion it was forcefully. Then she started choking and was holding her breath. “I am sure we have plenty more scary moments ahead of us but, being brand new to parenthood, that really did shake us.” Una admits Aoife has transformed her and the 26-year-old sportsman’s life since she was born and the singer hasn’t been spending hours “just gazing at her”. The 30-year-old star added to HELLO! magazine: “There hasn’t been a dull moment since she was born, what with the feeding and the changing and the visitors and the hours we spend just gazing at her, taking in every little expression. “During the night, I’ll wake up, even when she’s sound asleep, and sneak a peek. She’ll be lying there, with her tiny hands up by her face she’s so ladylike - and my heart could burst with love for her.”


Evanna Lynch wants to play Britney Spears in a biopic he ‘Harry Potter’ actress - who played the role of Luna Lovegood in the movie franchise - admits she is keen to get her teeth into a gritty part and thinks the pop star, who famously suffered a very public breakdown in 2008, would be the perfect role. Evanna exclusively told BANG Showbiz: “People laugh when I say this but I would love to play Britney Spears in a movie. She’s complicated and I just relate to her. There are so many pop stars out there at the moment and I just think they’ve just got their image thing so planned to a T. Say, Lady Gaga, I like her and I like her music but I don’t relate to her because she has this image and she’s weird and perfect, whereas Britney is rich and cool and beautiful, but has also shown her vulnerable side and had a breakdown in front of the whole world. “That takes strength and bravery to do that. I just think she’s more complicated than people think. Also, I think career wise it would be a big departure from Luna. And I love dance!” However it is not the only character the 20-year-old beauty would be keen to play - she also would have loved a part in ‘The Hunger Games’. She added: “Dream roles? I love fantasy series’; I would love a role in ‘The Hunger Games’. I love the books, but I don’t know who I would play or where I would fit. Jennifer Lawrence really carries that film. She’s amazing to watch.”


January Jones

more excited by T-shirts than heels he 34-year-old actress - who plays Betty Francis in ‘Mad Men’ - is having “so much fun” with her six-month-old son Xander and notes he has changed her priorities to be excited about “cosy T-shirts” rather than pairs of high heels. She said: “I am at the right age, the right time in my life, where having him is just so much fun. I feel very lucky, I think being a mother is something I was meant to do. “There’s less glamour in my life though, now that I am a mother. I get more excited about cosy T-shirts than about an amazing pair of heels. That is sad. But your priorities just change.” The blonde beauty can’t imagine being without Xander - whose father she hasn’t revealed - so takes him to work with her and cuddles him at every possible opportunity. She added to Britain’s Grazia magazine: “I’m lucky I have a job where I can bring him to work, so I was still able to nurse him, and I could run over to see him and squeeze him when I missed him, which was often. I can’t imagine having to be away from him.”


Mumford and Sons second album to be an evolution he Cave’ group spent most of the last year in the US touring their debut album, ‘Sigh No More’ but have moved back to the UK and reunited with producer Markus Dravs for their second album, as they want to build on the sound they have created. Singer Marcus Mumford said: “We want an evolution not a revolution. We’ve been recording in


Britain to keep the British identity intact. It’s been amazing for us in America, unexpected about how much they’ve embraced us here, but they haven’t bought our souls.” The band have debuted some of their new songs live, but are keeping their recording sessions secret, with only two people outside of the band having heard the completed new tracks.

Marcus added to NME magazine: “Everyone’s just letting us get on with it. The only people that have heard it are Dravs, our manager and us. Noone else has been involved in the process.” —Bangshowbiz




An undated photo released from Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein shows Myanmar pop singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein performing during her concert. —AFP This picture shows members of the Me N Ma Girls band performing during a concert at a hotel in Yangon. —AFP

Myanmar pop starsbrace for lyrical revoluti W

ith a flamboyant wardrobe and a diva’s voice, she’s seen as Myanmar’s Lady Gaga-a rare pop star in a country where years of isolation have left musicians reliant on borrowed foreign tunes. Singing Burmese translations of international hits like Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name”, Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein is famed for her feathered masquerade masks, rhinestone glamour and dramatic ball gowns. But she shrugs off the Lady Gaga comparison, saying she was shocking fans with her outfits in an eight-year career well before the US star made it big: “No offence, but it’s the truth.” And unlike the eccentric American songstress her costumes do not reveal much leg or cleavage, in keeping with local customs. The Myanmar pop singer, who grew up idolising far away megastars, describes decades of political isolation as like being “locked up in a cold, dark cave... some people around the world even didn’t notice we exist.” The 30-year-old graduated with a medical degree but says she gave up training to become a doctor because people kept recognising her in hospital after her televi-

sion performances.”Still I am happy because I can make a change in the lives of millions of people around my country. I could make them happy,” she told AFP at her home in Yangon. Myanmar pop is dominated by copies of international tunes, from the power ballads of Celine Dion to the soft rock strains of Rod Stewart, accompanied by sometimes incongruous Burmese lyrics about heartbreak and failed love. Only a few artists are able to struggle into the mainstream in the country, where rampant piracy has suffocated the music industry and strict censorship controlled everything from lyrics to outfits. But sweeping reforms after the end of junta rule last year raise the prospect of exposure to the influence-and copyright laws-of the outside world and hopes of a shake-up that could revitalise the music scene. Myanmar has indicated it will review its copyright laws to bring them into line with international standards, although it is unclear when that process might take place. The move could require copy acts to apply for permission from intellectual property owners to translate their songs into Burmese-providing an incentive for artists

Australia’s Aboriginal rock art to be catalogued ustralia’s greatest ancient Aboriginal rock art detailing kangaroos, turtles and humans on boulders in the remote Pilbara area will be studied under a $1.1 million deal announced yesterday. Tens of thousands of the indigenous works, which are scattered over the mineral-laden region, will be researched and catalogued under a six-year agreement between the University of Western Australia and miner Rio Tinto. Although one of the world’s richest collections of Aboriginal art, the carvings which lie on the National Heritage-listed Dampier Archipelago, about 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) north of Perth, have never been fully documented. “It’s surprising that we don’t know what is there but that is very much the case for everywhere in Australia, everywhere that we have rock art,” said Australian rock art expert Jo McDonald. “The Sydney region is a very good example of that. We’ve probably only documented about 25 percent of the engravings in Sydney 200-plus years later. “It’s a very time consuming process and there’s a lot of it.” The rock art in Western Australia’s Pilbara is thousands of years old and includes images of thylacines, the “Tasmanian tigers” which became extinct on


the Australian mainland an estimated 3,500 years ago. Among the most significant panels are those showing human faces and activities and what some experts believe are mythical figures. Also amidst the boulders on the Burrup peninsula of the Pilbara, one of the country’s major industrial hubs for resources, are archaic faces which McDonald said could be among some of the earliest documented images of humans. “The Burrup includes some of what we think is the earliest art in Australia,” said McDonald, who will become the first Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies at the University of Western Australia. “But it also records the changing climate. “So the sea level rose to where it is now about 7,000 years ago and a lot of the art there has been produced after that time, so we’ve pictures of turtles and fish and sharks and other marine animals that obviously record that phase.” The government placed the Burrup rock art on the National Heritage List in mid-2007 but campaigners fear that threats to it have intensified in recent years as mining and energy companies drain the region of iron ore, natural gas and other resources to feed the huge demand from Asia. —AFP

This file photo shows ancient Aboriginal rock carvings on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia. —AFP

to write their own lyrics. Government moves to relax control of the Internet mean music fans can now access thousands of tunes on the YouTube video-sharing website. For most of Myanmar’s population, however, pop means street corner stalls selling pirated copies of films and music videos. Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein described piracy as “uncontrollable”, with fake copies of her videos undercutting sales of her albums, which retail for around $2. Lighter-touch censorship She said piracy legislation would be the “first step” to normalising copyright lawswhich could dramatically change her repertoire-and is hopeful that the move could help build a music industry with enough money to support new artists and original song writing. Douglas Long, editor of the entertainment section at the Myanmar Times, said unchecked piracy meant “you don’t have producers who are willing to back bands and film projects. “It would be nice to see a system here where bands feel more comfortable breaking new ground or creating a distinct Myanmar scene,” he said. One act trying to forge its own sound is

the Me N Ma Girls, a five member girl band who write their own songs in English and Burmese, including one urging Myanmar’s diaspora around the world to return and help development. Their Australian manager Nikki May, who is based in Myanmar, hopes that by creating its own music the band will find it easier to flourish on the world stage, without getting in trouble for singing unauthorised covers. “If there are copyright issues (musicians) are never going to be able to get outside Myanmar so they’re never going to be able to represent their country,” she said. The band says other artists have now started to say they will focus on original material in the future. “The big stars are starting to do it so it will be easier to influence the new ones,” said 21-year-old Ah Moon. Me N Ma Girls have seen a lighter-touch censorship as reforms swept the country in the last year-meaning they were the first act to be allowed to wear coloured wigs in their videos. But their attempt to blend tight traditional costumes with energetic Westernstyle dance moves continues to pose a logistical challenge. Getting a gig is also dif-

ficult in the conservative country, where women playing in bars is equated with the sex industry, said May. It is not just the girl bands that struggle to play live, with only a handful of venues permitted to host concerts and support upcoming acts. “Now we have a lot of new bands waiting for the opportunities to play,” said Darko C, the lead singer of indie rock group Side Effect, who cite nineties grunge legends Nirvana as their greatest inspiration. The band recently made headlines after an American website refused to send them the nearly $3,000 raised through an online appeal to release their debut album, fearing to do so would breach US sanctions. Side Effect-whose drumless drummer Tser Htoo practises on piles of books at home-are rarely paid for gigs and Darko C, who describes sanctions as “lame” because they hurt ordinary people, runs a small tailor shop to get by. He said the band was committed to playing from the “heart” and laid down a challenge to the country’s copy stars. “You have this great vocal, but you are not Shakira or Lady Gaga, or Jon Bon Jovi or Green Day, so who are you? Show me what you’ve got!” —AFP

Battle for sunken treasure reaches Gibraltar court battle over treasure from an old Spanish shipwreck has reached Gibraltar, where descendants of the sunken cargo’s owners are fighting to win back part of the booty from Spain. The British-administered territory has been drawn into a tangled squabble between Spain, US treasure hunters and the Latin American descendants, in a case harking back to the days of the Spanish empire. Mathilde Daireaux Kinsky, an Argentinian who lives in Colombia, says part of the cargo of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, sunk by the British in a sea battle in 1804, belonged to her ancestor Diego de Alvear y Ponce de Leon. A Spanish general in the colonies at the time, he was not on board himself but lost his wife and seven of his children along with his precious coins in the shipwreck, Daireaux told AFP. “We are not doing this for the money. We are seeking respect for the memory of our family members who died on board the Mercedes,” said Daireaux, 49, one of six descendants claiming the treasure in the Gibraltar courts. Odyssey Marine Exploration, a company that specialises in salvaging deep-sea wrecks, hauled the treasure-mainly gold and silver coins mined and minted in the former Spanish coloniesfrom the seabed off Portugal in 2007. It transported most of the treasure via Gibraltar, a sunny enclave of British pubs and red telephone boxes at the mouth of the Mediterranean, to Florida, where the company is based. A court in Florida last month let the Spanish government claim this share 23 tonnes of silver coins and other items, worth 350 million euros ($470 million) — and fly it back to Madrid. But several hundred more silver coins were left behind in a crate in a Gibraltar customs house, where they were blocked pending Spanish legal efforts to claim them, says Daniel Feetham, a lawyer acting for the descendants. “The descendants have issued a claim in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar and there is an order from the court here preventing these coins from being taken out of the jurisdiction,” said Feetham. “We do not envisage a hearing for some time.” Spain is demanding that the coins in


Gibraltar be handed to Madrid too as national heritage. “A lot of people wrongly think that these goods are important because it is money. No, this is all Spanish historical and cultural heritage,” said a source in the culture ministry who asked not to be named. “Our wish is that as many people as possible be able to enjoy it.” The US courts ruled that all the treasure belonged to Spain under sovereignty laws, but the claimants insist the ship was on a commercial mission carrying their ancestors’ property.

Spain because Madrid blocked them from being shipped to the United States in the first place. “We have been attempting to organise the release of these artefacts to Spain in compliance with the Florida judge’s order, but the situation is very complicated,” a spokesperson told AFP. “The case lodged by the descendants has added another layer of complexity. Odyssey has always acted legally and will do everything possible to abide by any court’s orders.” Two centuries after the British navy sunk

This handout picture shows gold coins part of the cargo of the 19th-century Spanish warship the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. —AFP “There is a lot of case law that says that where a sovereign ship is travelling on a commercial mission, the cargo is not subject to the principle of sovereign immunity,” said Feetham. To claim the last of the treasure, Spain would have to fight for it in a Gibraltar court, a prospect complicated by diplomatic sensitivities between London and Madrid. Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 but has long argued it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. Britain refuses to renounce sovereignty against the wishes of Gibraltarians. Odyssey says it is being prevented from handing over the last coins in Gibraltar to

the ship, drowning their ancestors along with the treasure, the descendants are pinning their hopes on a court on the British territory, said one Colombian claimant, Rafael Mariano Fernandez De Lavalle. He says Spain never made good on promises to compensate his ancestor, Jose Antonio De Lavalle Cortes, who lost hundreds of silver coins he had sent to Spain aboard the Mercedes. “We will fight in Gibraltar to our last breath and we have faith in its justice system,” Fernandez De Lavalle said. “Contrary to what people in Spain might think, this case is not over.” — AFP



Taylor Swift wins ACM entertainer of the year


Taylor Swift accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday, April 1, 2012 in Las Vegas. — AP photos

Shawna Thompson (left) and Keifer Thompson, of musical group Thompson Square, pose backstage with their awards for vocal duo of the year.

here was little surprise when Taylor Swift won entertainer of the year at The Academy of Country Awards on Sunday night - except maybe in how little surprise the 22-year-old sensation showed when her name was called. Swift displayed none of her normal expressions of astonishment after winning the academy’s top honour for the second year in a row. And, in fact, neither did her competitors, who gracefully if grimly acknowledged her as she hugged her way to the stage. With millions of albums sold and millions of new fans turned on to country music - and turning out to vote for her - the award had the feel of a coronation. “She deserved it,” fellow nominee and show co-host Blake Shelton said. “When those announcements came out who was nominated, I remember saying right then - I don’t think I said I hope Taylor wins because I hoped I would win - but Taylor deserves it. I don’t think there is anyone with half a brain that would say otherwise. She has done a lot for us in country music. We are lucky enough in country music to call her one of us. But I am always going to make fun of her in my monologues so she might as well get used to that.” Miranda Lambert and the duo of Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson were the top winners with two trophies each and their early victories overshadowed Swift initially. Lambert took her third consecutive female vocalist award, and was matched by husband Shelton, who ended Brad Paisley’s five-year run in the male vocalist category. She also won album of the year for a record-tying third time for “Four the Record.” Aldean and Clarkson won single record and vocal event of the year for their steamy duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” Swift was a mostly silent presence for much of the show. Shelton and co-host Reba McEntire poked a little fun at her, wondering about that rumoured date with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. She eventually lost in the female vocalist and video categories and didn’t perform. When it came time for Lionel Richie to announce the entertainer winner, though, a feeling of inevitability had taken over. By then, the night’s top nominee and Swift’s main rival in the category, nine time nominee Kenny Chesney, had been shut out of the awards. The other entertainer nominees were Aldean and Brad Paisley. With the win she becomes the second woman to win two ACM entertainer of the year awards, following Carrie Underwood’s wins the two previous years. Receiving the fanvoted trophy capped an incredible 24 hours that was nonetheless tinged with melancholy. She spent Saturday in Los Angeles where first lady Michelle Obama presented her with The Big Help Award at The Kids’ Choice Awards for her charitable work, something she said made her nervous because she considers Obama a role model. “She was so cool,” Swift said. After that great experience, however, the ACMs were tempered by the fact her date couldn’t make it. Somerdale, N.J., high school student Kevin McGuire, who has leukemia, was hospitalized on Friday with a virus. “But I called him yesterday and told him that the next award show that he is well for we are going,” Swift, wearing an elegant white floor-length dress with gold accents, said backstage. While it comes as little surprise that Swift won, the ACMs did offer a few interesting developments this year. Eli Young Band knocked off Chesney’s take on “You and Tequila” with Grace Potter and other top stars in the song of the year category. It was a long time coming for the Texas quartet, whose lead singer Mike Eli exhorted watchers to follow the band by following their dreams. Eli told reporters their career has morphed in incredible ways. A few years ago they were excited to score an interview in a college newspaper. Sunday night, they were dedicating the win to their wives for their patience. “They were crying more than we were,” Eli said. “And we were crying a lot.” Husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square also pulled off an upset, winning vocal duo of the year over Sugarland. Everything else might have been predicted: Lady Antebellum won its third straight vocal group trophy, Toby Keith’s riotous “Red Solo Cup” won video of the year and “American Idol” champion Scotty McCreery took new artist of the year. Underwood kicked off the night with a hard-charging blast of rock ‘n’ roll and a sexy black and magenta mini-dress for hew new single “Good Girl,” a warning shot to those looking for a lot of twang out of the show. From Underwood’s rockin’ new single to U2 singer Bono’s introduction of Dierks Bentley via video from Ireland to KISS in full makeup awarding Lady Antebellum with yet another trophy, the ACMs showed off the modern flavor of country with all sorts of multi-genre mashups. LL Cool J and Keith Urban

(From left) Reverend Phil York marries Frank Tucci and Christina Davidson as Martina McBride and Pat Monahan perform onstage.

Tim McGraw (left) and Kenny Chesney perform.

Luke Bryan performs. banded together to salute veterans and Toby Keith walked through the crowd as he sang “Red Solo Cup” with the help of Carrot Top. Actor-comedian-banjo player Steve Martin joined Rascal Flatts on “Banjo” after a brief tribute to country pioneer Earl Scruggs, who died last week. Martina McBride and Train’s Pat Monahan teamed up to help New Jersey couple Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci get married on stage while they sang McBride’s “Marry Me.” Davidson and Tucci’s ceremony - quick even for notoriously quickie Vegas weddings - went on behind the singers during the performance and fans could hear the bride and groom say “I will” before their first kiss as a married couple, bringing the crowd to its feet. And in one of the night’s oddest juxtapositions, “Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher in cowboy hat sang George Strait before awarding Lambert female vocalist of the year. For Swift, though, the night will be remembered as the bow on top of the “Speak Now” portion of her career. That multi-platinum album was the second-best selling LP of 2011. She filled stadiums and arenas around the world, and Billboard recently named her its top moneymaker last year with an estimated $35 million earned. She also won two Grammys earlier this year. “It was an amazing thing and for me I am always looking forward, I am always looking at what’s next,” Swift said. “And I’m writing my next record right now as I have been for the past two years, but intensely writing my next record right now. I hope it’s good. Keep your fingers crossed. I would love it if it was good.” — AP

Miranda Lambert accepts the award for female vocalist of the year.

Jake Owen (left) and LeAnn Rimes (second from right) present the award for single of the year to Jason Aldean (second from left) and Kelly Clarkson (right).

(From left) Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood of musical group Lady Antebellum accept the award for vocal group of the year.

Steve Martin (third left), Travis Toy (center) and (from left) Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay Demarcus of musical group Rascal Flatts perform.

Sara Evans performs.



Sandler sets worst-movie record with Razzies sweep


dam Sandler and friends have scored a new high - or low - among voters of the Razzies, an Academy Awards spoof that presents prizes for the year’s worst movies. Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” managed a Razzies first on Sunday, claiming 10 awards to sweep every single category. Along with the movie’s worst-picture award, Sandler won for both worst actor and actress for his dual roles in “Jack and Jill,” in which he plays a family man and his own pesky twin sister. “He didn’t play triplets, but he couldn’t have won more awards if he had,” said Razzies founder John Wilson. Sandler also shared the “Jack and Jill” Razzies for worst ensemble, worst screen couple opposite either himself or co-stars Al Pacino or Katie Holmes and worst screenplay as a co-writer on the movie. Pacino won as worst supporting actor for playing himself in “Jack and Jill,” while Sandler pal David Spade was named worst supporting actress for his own cross-dressing role in the movie. It’s the only movie in the 32-year history of the Razzies to win every prize. But the Razzies did not overlook Sandler’s other

starring role from last year. Sandler’s worst actor prize came for both “Jack and Jill” and his earlier comedy “Just Go With It.” Dennis Dugan, the filmmaker behind both comedies, was named worst director for both flicks. “Jack and Jill” also was picked as worst remake, rip-off or sequel, billed by Razzies voters as a remake or rip-off of Ed Wood’s cross-dressing cult favourite “Glen or Glenda?” Despite the usual bad reviews Sandler receives, “Just Go With It” was a $100 million hit like most of his comedies. But even Sandler fans had second thoughts about “Jack and Jill,” which took in only $74 million, one of the worst results among his mainstream comedies. “Adam Sandler has a pretty much basic attitude of, ‘No matter how dumb I make it, my fans are going to pay to see it,’” Wilson said. “I guess it’s more about the complete lack of any genuine effort or concern or pride. An attitude of this is good enough, but when you consider what they’re charging for movie tickets today, it wasn’t good enough. “It was good enough to get our attention. If you work with the attitude that you’re just going to be

The nominees in the Worst Actress category are displayed onstage. — AFP

good enough, then you’re probably good enough for the Razzies.” The awards were announced at a gag ceremony Sunday night at a magic shop in Santa Monica, Calif. Razzie winners usually are announced the night before the Oscars, but organizers this time decided to move out of Hollywood’s busy awards season and do their show on April Fool’s Day. But it could be a one-time experiment. Wilson said he got feedback from voters of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, which anyone can join for a membership fee, that they prefer handing out their prizes around Oscar time. “I think our members prefer the faux glamour of having it be Oscar eve,” Wilson said. — AP

In this image, Adam Sandler portrays both Jill (left) and Jack in a scene from “Jack & Jill.” — AP

Rotten Tomatoes’ Editor-in-Chief Matt Atchity (left) and Razzie founder John Wilson announce an award on stage at the 32 annual Golden Raspberry or Razzies Awards, April 1, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. — AP

The Razzie award logo is displayed onstage. — AP

Russian village grannies set for Eurovision stardom


alentina Pyatchenko, 74, pulled on her dancing shoes-a pair of slippers woven from lime tree bark with several holes in the soles-and prepared to perform. Pyatchenko is one of the Buranovskiye Babushki (the Buranovo Grannies), a group of elderly village women who were chosen to represent Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest, despite a lack of obvious show business attributes. Their performance of their song, “Party for Everybody”, with simple dance moves in the bark slippers, charmed viewers in Russia and is now one of the favourites to win the contest in Baku in May.

Ekaterina Shklyaeva, 74, a member of the singing group “Buranovskiye Babushki” (Buranovo Grannies), speaks with her goats in the village of Buranovo in the central Russian region of Udmurtia. — AFP “We don’t know how old these shoes are. They’ve been repaired so many times, but I danced in them anyway, and they’ve already got holes,” Pyatchenko told AFP as she got ready to go on stage. Aged from 43 to 76, the women live in a village of wooden houses in the Udmurtia region in the foothills of the Ural mountains. Most worked in farming and still spend their time tending animals and garden plots. But the Eurovision sparkle has now reached their village of Buranovo around 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the nearest town, Izhevsk. In the village hall where they rehearse, their diploma as Eurovision contestants hung proudly next to a notice about a Saturday-night disco. On stage, the women recorded video messages for

television channels in Ukraine, Cyprus and Armenia, singing and waving on cue, even if some gently shook out tired legs. The next day they were due to get up at 5:00 am to fly to Moscow to perform for a foundation headed by the president-elect’s wife Lyudmila Putina. But they insisted that fame had not changed them. “We don’t see ourselves as stars. We are just normal grannies from Buranovo. Everyone says ‘stars, stars’, and we find it funny,” said Yekaterina Shklyayeva, 74. Two of the women worked as milk maids, one was a teacher, another worked at a kindergarten, one was a bookkeeper and one did various jobs in construction, farming and at a factory. Now retired, they look after an assortment of goats, chickens, rabbits, cats and dogs as well as tending vegetable plots. “They haven’t seen much in this life except work. So it’s great that they are getting such happiness,” said the choir’s leader Olga Tuktareva, 43. Pyatchenko stroked her cat Ginger as she pottered about her cosy house after the rehearsal. Geraniums flowered in the windows and books and souvenirs bore record to her decades as a teacher in Turkmenistan. She had gas heating installed in September, which means she no longer has to chop wood for the stove. But she has no running water, still drawn from an outside tap. Living alone, Pyatchenko has a son who helps with chores, which include looking after chickens. She manages with only one hand, having lost the other in an accident. It is a hard life by any standards, but Pyatchenko was upbeat about the changes and taking part in Eurovision. A Buranovskiye Babushki t-shirt and stage passes were draped over a chair. “I’ve seen everything in this life. The only thing I hadn’t seen was Eurovision and now we’re going,” she said. Nevertheless, one villager, accordion and guitar player Nikolai Zarbatov, who often accompanies the women, admitted there was tension after they won the Russian heat. “Some people are suspicious of it. Because there is always evil alongside good. But the majority of the people are glad. We gave them a very good welcome back, with a brass band.” The women plan to make a lasting mark on the village by rebuilding a church destroyed in the Soviet era. They have already raised enough funds for construction to begin in May-around 8 million rubles ($273,000), said Tuktareva. “What three or four years ago just seemed like a pipe dream will come true in our lifetimes.” ‘We can do it!’ The group’s driving force is the youngest member and choir leader, Tuktareva, who at 43 is hardly a “babushka”. She came from the next village to run Buranovo’s social club 12 years ago. While the Eurovision song’s beat drowns out the women’s voices, when singing a capella, it’s clear

A combo of recent file pictures shows six of the eight members of the singing group “Buranovskiye Babushki” (Buranovo Grannies), during a rehearsal at the local club in the village of Buranovo in the central Russian region of Udmurtia. — AFP

just how practised and comfortable they are, and Tuktareva’s voice stands out. The women began as a “folklore choir”, singing in Russian and the local language Udmurt. But under Tuktareva, they have gone over to singing only in Udmurt, adapting pop standards including “Hotel California” and “Let it Be”. Even in Russia, the women are exotic. The language they speak is Finno-Ugric and they perform in distinctive dress that has been handed down over the generations. It’s a multi-layered look: a hand-woven dress topped with an embroidered pinafore, hair wrapped in a scarf, with a necklace of coins and patterned stockings and the bark slippers, called lapti. Granya Baisarova showed her shiny necklace made of old coins, including Tsarist-era rubles. Called monisty, these are worn by women on holidays and weddings. Her mother had to divide it up between three daughters-so hers has been supplemented over the years by Soviet-era coins. Producer Ksenia Rubtsova said she spotted the women in 2008 at a concert in Izhevsk, where they sang “Yesterday” in Udmurt. She invited them to a birthday concert for a top Russian folklore singer, the late Lyudmila Zykina. Zykina, a massive Soviet star, recom-

mended signing up the women. Since then they have per formed in France, Finland, Hungary and Estonia-hence their confident stage presence. Eurovision was her suggestion, said Rubtsova. “It was my idea but I got them together and asked ‘Girls, what do you think?’ They said: ‘We can do it!’” Their first attempt in 2010 saw them take third place in the Russian heat. Not deterred, they entered again this year with a song set to music by one of the country’s best known pop composers, Viktor Drobysh. “Probably it was meant to be. We had more time to prepare seriously,” said Rubtsova. “We are hoping for victory.” — AFP

Sandler sets worst-movie record with Razzies sweep



isneyland Paris has celebrated its entry into adulthood in spectacular style this weekend, with a 20th birthday extravaganza replete with celebrities, parades and a new stateof-the-art show. The resort 35 kilometres (about 22 miles) east of Paris has a lot to celebrate. After overcoming a rocky childhood, the “Magic Kingdom” now makes up a chunk of the French economy and of Disney’s own revenues. Mexican actress Salma Hayek and retired French soccer great Zinedine Zidane led celebrations at the park featuring a high-energy projection of Disney cartoon characters onto Sleeping Beauty’s castle crowning Main Street, USA. Also starring in the event, marked with fireworks and water displays, were Peter Pan and other Disney characters. “Marvelous!” Frenchman Xavier Fin, 40, said Sunday, a day after the show. “I’m here with my son and it’s so great for him to see all the creativity. It’s really overwhelming.” Beyond the glitz, however, there is a real story for Disneyland Paris to crow about after some volatile years and a rumoured brush with bankruptcy. The resort - 40 percent owned by the Walt Disney Co. - has come a long way under the marketing mantra “slowly but surely.” Five years ago, the resort finally started to make operating profits. Building on its fortune, Disneyland Paris became the most visited tourist destination in Europe in 2008. It broke its record for ticket sales last year, marking its 250 millionth visitor since its creation. Over the years, the French have also learned to love Mickey. The resort was decried by some in France as a threat to the French culture - a “cultural Chernobyl” for some, a “construction of hardened chewing gum” for others. Now, two decades on, the Gallic grouching has been transformed into enthusiasm - at least for the hordes of French who visit the park, a 2,230hectar (5,510-acre) expanse. The French now make up about

half of the visitors, according to the French Tourism Ministry. The resort began its life in the verdant Paris region, blossoming out of farmland, with the name EuroDisney but was re-branded in the mid-1990s as Disneyland Paris to link itself more closely with the French capital. It now accounts for a considerable portion of the tourist revenues of France - the world’s most visited country - and employs some 15,000 people. “In 2011, 6.5 percent of all the tourism income in the country came from Disneyland,” French Tourism Minister Frederic Lefebvre told The Associated Press. “And a third of all the visitors to the resort come to see Paris as well for the historic heritage, so it is extremely important to France.” The r e s o r t ’s

French CEO, Philippe Gas, speaking with typical Disney-style fervour mixed with Gallic pride, went even further: “It is perhaps arrogant to say, but we are the best deal that France ever made.” The operating profit book, indeed, looks fatter than in the past, but the resort still has huge


debts linked to its rocky financial past. “It didn’t work in the early years how we wanted,” Gas said, “but now we are at the healthiest situation in our history.” The initial construction went hugely over budget and, with less than half the expected number of visitors, put the resort on a downward economic spiral. In 1994, with the company in serious financial difficulty, rumours circulated that the park was on the verge of bankruptcy and crisis talks were held between the banks and backers, which rescued the park. Expansion with a new park in 2002, Walt Disney Studios, consolidated the long-term survival of Disneyland Paris. Now, though the debt is still huge - 1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) - the company has been paying it off in large sums since 2009. “It’s been a long way, but now we have a calendar of payment that will see all the debt wiped out by 2024. We no longer need Mommy and Daddy to help us,” Gas added. Walt Disney Co. should be pleased that the French Mickey is cleaning up its debt slate. It has announced expected losses of some $200 million dollars on its current movie “John Carter,” making it among the biggest flops in cinema history. The company is increasingly reliant on the success of its theme parks, and profits generated by higher ticket prices and attendance levels, strongly contributed to the Walt Disney Company’s 12 percent profit spike last quarter. — AP

A firework display lights up the castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland’s theme park in Marne-la-Vallee, east of Paris, Saturday March 31, 2012. — AP photos

Mickey is flanked by former international soccer player Zinedine Zidane (left) and Phillipe Gas, president of Euro Disney at Disneyland’s theme park.

Flanked by Donald Duck, Mexican actress Salma Hayek poses for photographers.


trademark bowler hat and cane once owned by Charlie Chaplin sold for $100,000 Sunday, at a Hollywood auction where Whitney Houston gowns and gems also went under the hammer weeks after she died. The bamboo walking cane once owned by the silent-era comedy icon went for $42,000 — considerably more than the $20-30,000 reserve pricewhile the trademark hat was snapped up for $58,000 on the second day of the two-day sale. A riding coat worn by Clark Gable in “Gone with the Wind” sold for $57,600, nearly four times its $10-15,000 reserve price, while Charlton Heston’s robe from “ The Ten Commandments” fetched $66,420, and his staff $44,800. On Saturday fans and collectors had snapped up a selection of gowns, stage clothes and jewellery belonging to Whitney Houston, weeks after the Grammy-winning star’s shock death aged only 48. Prices reached more than five times their reserve on some items, including two pairs of earrings worn in the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard” for $2,880 (estimate $600-800) and $7,040 (estimate $1,000-2,000). The Houston effects were on offer on the first of a two-day “Hollywood Legends” sale at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills-just down the road from where the singer died on February 11. A stage-worn beaded bustier went under the hammer for $19,200, more than three times its estimate of $4,000-6,000, while a brown satin vest from “The Bodyguard” sold for $3,520, (reserve price $400-600). A small wardrobe’s worth of dresses were pounced on by eager buyers, including one gray velvet gown which sold for $11,520, against an estimate of only $1,000-2,000. Houston died in her hotel room bathroom on the eve of the music industry’s annual Grammys show in Los Angeles. Coroners said on March 22 that she had died of drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. Other items sold at the two-day sale included a Christopher Reeve costume from “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” estimated at $20-30,000, which went for $35,200. A dress worn by A life-sized wax mannequin of Princess Diana wearing a Catherine Walker dress stands on display.

Princess Diana in 1992 — a beaded pewter chiffon evening gown by designer Catherine Walker-sold for $108,000, well above its $6080,000). — AFP

The special effects flying costume worn by Christopher Reeve in the film “Superman IV” stands on display for auction in Beverly Hills, California. — AFP photos

Whitney Houston’s stage worn plum velvet dress stands on display.

A life-sized wax mannequin of Marilyn Monroe stands on display.

Charlie Chaplin’s iconic bamboo cane is displayed.

03 Apr 2012  

Kuwait Times