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Romney rounds on Obama with primary wins

Pakistani militant leader thumbs nose at US bounty

Ronaldo, Kaka guide Madrid past APOEL


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20 33 Laureate accuses Israel of

plotting to ‘wipe out’ Iran


150 FILS



Israel to build 1,121 settler homes • Hebron squatters evicted

Panel questions senior official over transfers By B Izzak KUWAIT: The National Assembly committee probing controversial money transfers allegedly made by the former prime minister yesterday questioned a senior official at the council of ministers who provided the panel with “important” information, rapporteur of the committee said. MP Faisal Al-Yahya said the committee heard the testimony of Khaled AlBannai, the financial undersecretary at the council of ministers, over the transfers. He said the committee will meet on Sunday former foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah who resigned last October in protest over the transfers. The next day, the committee is scheduled to meet Kuwaiti ambassadors in Switzerland, Britain and the United States, who are believed to have received the transfers and deposited them into bank accounts belonging to former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Outspoken opposition MP Mussallam Al-Barrak was the first to break the news about the transfers, claiming that at least KD 70 million in public funds were transferred Continued on Page 13

Gulf food stocks dream jolted by practical realities ABU DHABI: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are considering building group emergency food stocks, amid threats by Iran to block their main supply route, but politics and practical hurdles could prove insurmountable, food security experts say. Three of the GCC’s members - Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar - are almost entirely dependent on the narrow shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz for imported food supplies. Although they have options outside the straits, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia also import a large share of food and other consumer goods through ports in the Gulf, with only Oman’s food supplies unlikely to be unaffected by any disruption to shipping through Hormuz. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, used for a third of the world’s seaborne oil trade, if western moves to ban Iranian crude exports cripple its lifeblood energy sector. The GCC aims to improve coordination, integration and inter-connections between its six member states across all fields including trade, customs, scientific research and joint ventures. Because of their reliance on one supply route to feed their booming populations, most GCC members have their own reserves but talk of a regional tie-up of stockpiles has been going on for years. “This is one of the options we are looking into,” Abdullah Al-Shibli, GCC assistant secretary general for economic affairs, told Reuters at a food security forum in Abu Dhabi. The deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Nadim Khouri, said a regional system of stocks to meet around three months of consumption should work more effectively at times of crisis than separately managed stocks. “This has been one element in an overall strategy that has been discussed for years,” Khouri said. “At this point we are only discussing it at the technical level,” Khouri said. The Khartoum-based Arab Authority for Agriculture Investment and Development (AAAID) said last month it was considering building 3-6 months worth of storage capacity in the GCC. But the patchy history of cooperation between its members, with regional rivalries hindering energy sharing, does not bode well for plans to share food at times of crisis. “What happens when a crisis erupts with each country trying to serve its own needs?” Raed Safadi, deputy director of the trade and agriculture directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said. “All this brotherly love will disappear,” he said. Practical obstacles to a regional stocks system are also significant. Storage locations would have to be agreed on that are accessible to others, which is difficult given the long distances and very limited road or rail links between them. The AAAID has said an ideal location for the reserves would be the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, a popular storage point for fuels because it lies outside the Strait of Hormuz. From there, food might be easily distributed to the UAE and Oman which already have plenty of import options. But getting it to Kuwait, Qatar or Bahrain would mean driving to UAE ports on the Gulf coast and reloading onto cargo ships or driving supplies at least 600 km across the desert on the single major highway to the border with Saudi Arabia. From there it is about 500 km to Riyadh or Bahrain and 800 km to Kuwait. — Reuters

GAZA CITY: Palestinian women react over the body of Hisham Saad during his funeral yesterday. Israeli forces shot and killed Saad as he approached the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel overnight. The military said it suspected he was a militant. — AP

Max 32º Min 17º High Tide 08:24 & 19:08 Low Tide 01:10 & 12:50

BERLIN: German Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass touched off a firestorm of protest yesterday with a poem accusing Israel of plotting Iran’s annihilation and threatening world peace. The 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote in “What must be said” that he worried Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran’s disputed nuclear Guenter Grass program. “Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which appeared in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday. Grass answers that Nazi Germany’s “incomparable” crimes against Jews and his own fear of accusations of anti-Semitism kept him from openly criticising Israel. But now, “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could become a “supplier to a crime”, Grass wrote, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine. “I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West”. Israel slammed the poem, which also sparked a fevered debate on German-language news and culture websites. “What must be said is that it belongs to European tradition to accuse the Jews of ritual murder before the Passover celebration,” said Emmanuel Continued on Page 13

Female bomber kills Somali sports chiefs MOGADISHU: A female suicide bomber blew herself up yesterday during an address by Somalia’s prime minister in Mogadishu, killing 10 people, including the country’s Olympic and football bosses. The young woman detonated her suicide belt as Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was on the podium addressing 200 people at the Somali national theatre on the first anniversary of the launch of Somalia’s satellite TV network. Somali Olympic Committee president Aden Yabarow Wiish and Somali Football Federation chief Said Mohamed Nur were killed in the blast. Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, said at least 10 people were killed and dozens wounded. He said the wounded included the country’s national planning minister. The prime minister, and seven other ministers standing beside him when the young woman set off her explosives, were unharmed. Seconds after the blast, chaos filled the venue as the dead and the wounded could be seen slumped on their chairs and lying on the floor while

police escorted some of the injured to waiting ambulances. At least seven journalists were also wounded, press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders said. The government said a female suicide bomber carried out the attack, but the Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabab, using its official Twitter feed to claim responsibility for the attack, said explosives had been planted in the theater before the event. “The cowardly attack was carried out by Shabab nonbelievers,” Somalia’s Information Minister Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed told Radio Mogadishu. A soldier guarding the newly-opened theatre said the bomber had been stopped but the premier’s security team had insisted she be allowed in because she was carrying police ID. “The suicide bomber was a young, slim lady with plaited hair. She wore a veil and carried a police identity card,” Mohamed Ali, the soldier told Reuters. “She sat under the tree in front of the theatre for a while. She stood and went towards the theatre Continued on Page 13

MOGADISHU: The body of Somali Football Federation chief Said Mohamed Nur, who was killed in the blast, rests in a chair at the Somali National Theater yesterday. — AP

Taboo-breaking Saudi films spurring debate

SANABIS, Bahrain: A Bahraini anti-government protester throws a petrol bomb toward riot police firing tear gas yesterday during clashes that erupted when police dispersed a march in support of an imprisoned human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. Bahrain authorities say Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has been moved to a prison clinic ‘for constant medical observation and care’. — AP (See Page 8)

JEDDAH: An important Saudi official riding in a chauffered Rolls Royce unspools a wire fence across previously unclaimed land. “It’s mine now,” he says. The scene, in a YouTube spoof video satirising a new state agency to combat corruption, has attracted 2.2 million viewers in a strait-laced Islamic kingdom where Saudi online comedians are tackling once-taboo subjects - and gaining a wide following. Another video satirises a prince for mishandling anti-corruption demonstrations, while mobile phone footage of the so-called morality police harassing a family in a shopping mall went viral this year with over 180,000 hits. The overall impact of such vignettes cannot be measured, but in Saudi Arabia, where around 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30, and where Internet penetration is around 40 percent, social media are driving public debate on a host of subjects that were once seen as strictly off-limits. “(Our) team is very careful not to cross the red lines and instead reflects all the issues that have caused controversy or debate that have been discussed in the media,” said Lama Sabri, a writer for “Aaltayer”, which translates roughly as “On The Fly”, one of the popular YouTube shows. “The program also uses comedy to make fun of the existence of these red lines,” she added. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy with no elected parliament, where the most senior positions are occupied by high-ranking royals, some of whom also have extensive business interests. The media is censored and reporters who cross unofficial red lines can face the sack, hefty fines or even prison sentences. But bloggers and con-

tributors to online forums now openly discuss social ills, government inefficiency and corruption, while a Twitter user who ridicules the royal family has attracted 250,000 followers. “The Internet has always provided a space for Saudis to express themselves freely in unprecedented ways, and this (Twitter) is just the latest platform,” said Ahmad Al-Omran, a well-known Saudi blogger. “People are becoming more vocal and critical on Twitter.” Social media helped to catalyse the political unrest that convulsed many Arab countries last year, mobilising street protests that overturned regimes and led to mass insurrection across North Africa and the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, where the king is broadly popular, escaped that surge of public anger and analysts say the growth of more forceful debate is unlikely to send crowds into the streets. But government officials are being skewered online, in comic films and other formats, as never before. One film mocking the Commerce Ministry for perceived double standards in enforcing business regulations attracted more than 915,000 hits on YouTube. Small traders must stick to the letter of the law, it suggested, but powerful businessmen can get away with selling the public that rarest of commodities: air. Not all the criticism comes in comic or satirical guise. More than 52,000 people have viewed a film commemorating victims of Jeddah’s deadly 2011 floods by showing notional “corpses” wrapped in blue sheets in the worst-hit areas. Continued on Page 13




Malls becoming victims of its success: Expert Retail business not in danger By Nawara Fattahova

Prof Ian Buchanan

KUWAIT: “Malls are in danger of disappearing, and what will life be if it is without shopping malls. Will the online shopping be enough to fill the space of the satisfaction of shopping, even if we didn’t buy anything?” Professor Ian Buchanan addressed this issue in a lecture titled ‘The World the Mall Made’ at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) on Tuesday. “The invention of the suburban shopping mall by Victor Gruen in the 1950s gave form to the entire postWW2 landscape in the US and eventually everywhere else. One can literally say that today we live in the world the mall made. With the rise of the Internet, however, the concept of the mall is under threat. This talk will critically

examine the mall to understand its attractions and to see if it has the means to meet the challenge of online shopping,” he said. Franchising made all places the same. “When people travel they always look for the same things they are used to, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, and this is evident especially in malls. We should separate shopping from buying. What does shopping mean if you don’t buy? It’s a social experience, commercial experience but not commercial. For instance you want to shop but you can’t buy. Teenagers play the role of adults, to try dresses on but they can’t buy them,” added Buchanan. “Shopping is not about buying but about having identity, and what I will look like. When you go to the mall you will be observed, so people dress up when going to the mall. It is promenading. Those who do not buy are consuming the place and stealing air-conditioning. What will happen to the mall if people stop buying. The mall will disappear. In the United States some malls closed. A mall is a social space and commercial arrangement, and if it remains for social purposes only it will disappear,” he pointed out. According to Buchanan, more than 30 percent of people are buying online from the internet in the United Kingdom. “People no longer buy from stores. Globalization and Internet are crucial for malls. Up to 93 percent of stuff in the United States isn’t made in the States. And globalization has decreased the cost. Internet is changing our relationship to space, it changes how shopping works. For instance, Amazon is not a space where people can go, so it works like a huge mall. The new front is your mobile screen or laptop,” he explained. “In Kuwait many people use malls for the restaurants and cafes in them. Will this be enough to support the infrastructure? The mall will re-center the city. It is the basic center of the living space. In some places they started to build residences on top of the mall to ensure they will not disappear. The mall is the victim of its success. What will be

the next thing after the mall?” wondered Buchannan. Arcades, open areas, pedestrian spaces can be some alternative options to malls. “In Paris, for instance, there are no much malls. Still people enjoy a social life and go shopping. Life is not a catastrophe without malls. In 1950 people also survived without malls. Since 1956 the mall concept didn’t change, and it’s time for innovation,” he stated. We should ask what other activities people do. If shopping was the first on the list and is the only thing we do, then they will be in trouble if malls disappear. Shopping doesn’t change what we do, and people still buy readymade things instead of making things. And finally the empty space in the malls can be exploited by placing traditional shops and bazaars in it,” concluded Buchanan. Professor Ian Buchanan is the Director of the Institute for Social Transformation Research at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He is the author of numerous books. He is the founding editor of Journal Deleuze Studies, editor of two book series and co-editor of two additional book series. He also has submitted papers at conferences all over the world. Osama Al-Duaij, Deputy Director General of Hawally Governorate Municipality, thinks that online business is not mature yet. “Also as a part of the luxury life we live in Kuwait, including having a maid to do most of the work for us, and having more free time makes us go to the mall even if it’s far away. In the west, if they need to spend 30 minutes driving, online shopping is easier, cheaper and saves more time,” he told the Kuwait Times. Al-Duaij thinks that the retail business is not in danger here. “People mostly only buy books or items they don’t find here online. They will still go to malls for shopping. And the evidence of my opinion is that there are many malls in the process of being built, such as the third phase of the Avenues, the Hamra Mall and developing Kout Mall. There are also more malls under construction in Salmiya and other areas,” he said.

KUWAIT: A partial view of the audience. —Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat


in brief

1st Ring Road exit closed KUWAIT: The north facing side of the First Ring Road, starting from the cross road between Jahra Road and the street separating Ghernata and Sulaibikhat, will be closed starting from 4am tomorrow. This announcement was made yesterday by the General Department of Traffic, who explained that the closure comes as per the request of the Ministry of Public Works, and leaves the four-way intersection with only three directions available. Diabetes Awareness Day KUWAIT: The Amiri Hospital’s diabetes unit will organize the Third Diabetes Awareness Day under the auspices of the Minister of Health, Ali Al-Obeidi, next Saturday. Director of public relations at the hospital, Faisal Al-Dosiri, said in remarks to the press that the activities will kick off at 11 am and will last until 7pm, while the official opening will take place at Kuwait’s Old Mubarakeyah Market at around 5 pm.

Sheikha sues Al-Tabtabaei over ‘church’ criticism KUWAIT: Sheikha Fraiha Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is taking legal action against an Islamist lawmaker she accuses of verbal offense over statements in which he criticized building a new church for the Armenian Orthodox community in Kuwait. “Legal action will be taken against MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei for his blatant and offensive attack against Sheikha Fraiha Al-Sabah, through which he undervalues her restless efforts in serving her country”, said attorney Ali Al-Ali on Tuesday. Al-Tabtabaei was quick to respond, and challenged the lawyer to find any insults in his statements. “I never made any offensive remark against Sheikha Fraiha... my statements were picked up by many news websites where you can find them for verification”, he said. Sheikha Fraiha Al-Sabah made promises during a visit to the Prelacy of the Armenian Orthodox last week to support efforts for licensing an Armenian Apostolic Church in Kuwait. On Monday, Al-Tabtabaei argued that licensing worship places is under regulation by Kuwait Municipality and the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs. He urged the Amiri Diwan to “take appropriate measures against initiatives, falling outside proper legal procedures, taken by members of the honorable ruling family”.

‘More studies’ delay pay raises KUWAIT: A 25 percent general salary increase the Government approved last month to public sector employees will not be paid until June due to further studies, according to a senior official in the Civil Service Commission. “The Civil Service Council still needs more time to study 108 parts of the general pay raise decision to make sure that they meet regulations that the Civil Service Commission follows,” said sources speaking on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday. The Civil Service Council is the highest body to enforce legislation for the public sector’s payroll and social security, and regulates the work of the Civil Service Commission which handles employment and executive payment procedures for Kuwaiti citizens. In another development, all 11 items of ministerial decree 409/2011, which guarantees providing humanitarian services for illegal residents in Kuwait, have been successfully met an official said yesterday. “All departments of the (illegal residents) apparatus are focused on carrying out the implementation of the items - a year after their issuance,” said Sheikh Khaled Mubarak Al-Sabah, Secretary General of the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents. Sheikh Khaled Al-Sabah said “the Central Apparatus is sparing no effort in securing free healthcare and educational services. In 2011, some 12,653 illegal residents enjoyed free education through the education fund (set up for them),” he said.



Judges allowance KUWAIT: A group of consultants and judges representatives have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister to express their reservations against the attempts of some legal parties to claim that they are judges parties. The consultants and judges said the memorandum of the supreme council for judges, sent to the council of minis-

ters, has made it clear that public prosecutors and judges are the only judicial system. Sources said their demands are not for a salary increase, but for the implementation of the law issued in 1977. The judicial allowance they receive by law concerns them only, and cannot be generalized for others they said. —Al-Anbaa

Kuwaiti charity helps 32,000 displaced Syrians pinned down in Lebanon BEIRUT: Relief aid from Kuwaiti charities is crucial to alleviate the plight of displaced Syrians in Lebanon while the fighting rages on in their country, a representative of a major Kuwaiti charity in Lebanon said yesterday. The Kuwaiti charity is currently distributing food and relief items to nearly 32,000 displaced Syrians, including 250,000 daily meals, in the northern regions of Lebanon in places like Tripoli and Halaby, said Bassem Derbas. Derbas is a representative of the charity house known as Islamic Heritage Society (IHS), a Kuwaiti charity affiliated with the wellknown Islamic Heritage Revival Society in Kuwait. Derbas said the IHS administers med-

ical treatment to no less than 10 displaced Syrians every day in specially-prepared makeshift medical units, with a laboratory available for medical tests. While he heaped praise on the works of Kuwaiti charities and the Kuwaiti Government helping the displaced Syrians, he noted the lack of other Arab countries and charities providing relief aid. The most pressing need the displaced have is for adequate housing, which he said will cost about USD 250 per housing unit, an amount apparently unmanageable for Lebanese authorities to provide. He urged Arab countries to help defray the housing cost for 32,000 displaced people. —KUNA

MEW floats new tenders KUWAIT: Ministry of Electricity and Water Assistant Undersecretary, Engineer Abdul Wahab Al-Turki, said the ministry has put up a tender to transport and operate diesel generators for use in emergencies, for concerned companies through a tender committee. The last contract is about to expire. The period of the contract is three years. He said the winner of the contract has to transport emergency generators to all areas which face power failure or defects for one reason or another to ensure continuity of electricity service. Al-Turki said this will be achieved through coordination and cooperation of the executing company and emergency services administration. Al-Turki said this

tender has been periodical during the past 10 years, meaning that every three years the tender is announced through a tender committee when the contract finishes. The winning company, as per the contract conditions, has to provide a contract director, nine supervisors, 30 diesel mechanics, 30 electrical and diesel technicians, 144 drivers of heavy equipments, and 90 laborers for 30 months. The contract stipulates the movement of generators to the location of a power cut as soon as possible. The tender winner is also responsible for repairing any defects in the generators and to provide the necessary fuel to keep the generators running.—Al-Anbaa

Kuwait’s unstable weather to continue for days, weeks Cold, sunny, dusty and rainy By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Kuwait will continue to experience unstable weather in the coming days and weeks, says meteorologist Adel Saadoun. Speaking with the Kuwait Times yesterday over the phone, the Fintas Observatory Director said Kuwait has officially entered the annual weather pattern called ‘sarayat’ where cold, sunny, dusty and rainy weather converges over the country. “We expect this type of weather to continue for at least a month. Sometimes rainy, dusty, sunny and without warning there could be heavy rains, sometimes a hail storm in some areas but not the whole of Kuwait. For us, it’s a normal occurrence as we shift from the period of cold to sunny weather,” he said. The heavy downpour yesterday was the result of the ‘sarayat’ system which comes in the same season almost every year, he mentioned. “ The low pressure area over the Mediterranean sea usually crosses over the Arabian Peninsula and brought us the heavy downpour last Tuesday. This pattern will continue for at least two to three weeks more. This comes every year in Kuwait and we are used to the same weather. It happens so quickly that we cannot predict it will come. In fact sometimes it brings disaster and destruction to property and people,” he added. He advised fishermen to stay away from the sea and for some to avoid water related sports activities. Sarayat season is unpredictable but usually begins after sunset and

continues until the following morning. “Most of the time when it comes, it really amazes people. It comes harshly with thunder and strong wind. Then, when it is over, it is as if nothing happened or you will feel no wind at all. It’s abnormal weather, yes, but for us its normal,” he added.

The term sarayat is derived from the Arabic word meaning ‘fast movement’ (of clouds) which are generally unpredictable in nature. The whole process is through stages; the first stage comprises the formation period; then it is followed by saturation and rainfall. Finally, it dissipates and ends there.

KUWAIT: Kuwait has officially entered the annual weather pattern called ‘sarayat’ where cold, sunny, dusty and rainy weather converges over the country. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Bloc’s endorsement contradicts earlier stance KUWAIT: Following the Development and Reform Bloc’s announcement that it will support an Islamist lawmaker ’s plan to quiz Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah over the detention of a man who burned an Iranian flag in public, one report is highlighting a contradiction in the oppositionist group’s decision. MP Dr Waleed Al-Tabtabaei indicated that his grilling primarily targets an “abuse of power ” with regard to the Public Prosecution’s procedures, which give them the power to remand suspects for a maximum of 21 days in jail. On that regard, a report published by Al-Rai yesterday pointed out the fact that MP Dr Obaid Al-Wasmi

previously addressed the same topic when he filed a grilling motion against Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak AlSabah last Februar y. At the time, the Development and Reform Bloc rejected AlWasmi’s grilling - which was eventually canceled. “Al-Wasmi’s grilling focussed on remanding detainees who were arrested for storming Al-Watan TV’s building. Why did the DRB objec t the topic at the time, and then announce their support for a new grilling that addresses the same topic?” said sources close to Al-Wasmi, whose position regarding the contradic tion remains unclear. Meanwhile, sources revealed that a probe

committee within the Constitutional Court resumed its investigations on Tuesday in the case filed against former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah over the foreign transfers issue. Speaking to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the source added that the committee gathered testimony from the foreign transfers supervisor in the cabinet, but failed to get testimony from MP Musallam AlBarrak , who first raised the incident in Parliament. Al-Barrak later told Al-Qabas that he couldn’t make it to court due to other commitment, but requested the committee to schedule a new date for him to testify. —Al-Rai, Al-Qabas



LOCAL kuwait digest

kuwait digest

Grilling season all year long

Selective justice By Abdullatif Al-Duaij

By Mubarak Al-Maosharji fter the opposition won the majority of seats in Parliament followed by a new Cabinet formed by a new prime minister, people became optimistic that reform and development will finally be underway in Kuwait without obstacles. We believed that redundancy in interpellations, which plagued the work of the previous parliament and cabinet, will finally be put on hold - at least temporarily. These optimisms turned into disappointments just one week after the cabinet was formed, with a grilling motion filed by MP Dr Obaid Al-Wasmi against Prime Minister, His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak AlSabah. The grilling was eventually canceled before it was debated, but was soon followed by an interpellation from MP Saleh Ashour against the premier over the multimillion-dinar deposits scandal. Many speculate that MP Ashour filed the grilling in an attempt to clear his name from the scandal, after he became the only lawmaker to be reelected from former MPs suspected to be involved in the case. MP Hussain Al- Qallaf filed a grilling against Minister of Information, Sheikh Mohammad AlAbdullah Al-Sabah, over subjects stemming from an incident in which angry tribesmen stormed into Scope television building. As with Ashour’s case, many speculate that Al-Qallaf filed the grilling to defend himself, as the same incident happened in retaliation to statements he made during a live talk show, which were deemed offensive to a tribal chief. While the information minister’s grilling is still set for debate, other lawmakers have already voiced plans to file interpellations of their own. Among these MPs are Dr. Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, who plans to quiz Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, over the arrest and remanding of a man who burned an Iranian flag during a public demonstration. MP Saifi Al-Saifi revealed intentions to grill Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Ahmad Al-Rujaib, who he sees as “a threat to the ministry”. MP Mohammad Al-Hayef announced plans to file a grilling motion against Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Jamal Al-Shehab, over the issue of monitoring Shiite mosques. Perhaps the most anticipated grilling motion is the one the Popular Action Bloc have in store for Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mustafa AlShamali, which the opposition has been saying they plan to file for three straight parliament terms. All of these interpellations are set to be debated this month, and God knows how many will be filed next month. I wonder when there will be time for developmental subjec ts to be discussed in Parliament. —Al-Rai

do believe that the Public Prosecution Department takes unnecessary exaggerated measures in most of the remanding decisions they make. I find that when it comes to crimes, especially felony and misdemeanor cases related to freedoms of opinion, a decision to remand an accused seems to be an unwarranted arbitrary act as there is no need to keep a suspect in custody for an extended period before facing charges. Yet, I also believe that lawmakers would be committing a similar arbitrary act when they decide that people who share the same ideologies should not be remanded, and go as far as to demand that the Ministry of Interior sets a prisoner free, despite knowing that the remanding decision comes from the Public Prosecution Department. For some reason, the Public Prosecution Department has always abused remanding by keeping prisoners in jail for the maximum number of days allowable in most cases. But by doing that, the Public Prosecution Department is doing nothing that violates an existing law. Lawmakers are required to respect the law. Otherwise, they can amend it in order to reduce the period in which prisoners are remanded. This is more effective than voicing your objec tion whenever the Public Prosecution Department practices a habit it’s been doing for so many years. When the Opposition was a minority in Parliament, they had the right to express a protest in a public statement or by taking part in sit-ins against what they believe are arbitrary procedures taken against people who sympathize with their cause. But things are different now with the Opposition controlling a majority in Parliament by which they can easily pass legislations or amend laws they believe need to be adjusted. So, why haven’t the Opposition presented an amendment, to reduce the number of days by which a suspect can stay in custody before facing charges? I know exactly why they haven’t. It’s because if they change the law, this means that the change will be applied to everyone. It will help the man accused of burning the Iranian flag, but will also help the man held for offending the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Oppositionist lawmakers have threatened to file a grilling motion against the Interior Minister if police fail to find and arrest the person who offended the Prophet on Twitter. On the other hand, the same MPs are threatening to grill the minister if the police do not release the person who burned the Iranian flag during a public demonstration. They only see the remanding decision as an arbitrary act when it is used against a person who shares their same ideology. —-Al-Qabas



in my view

Let us beautify our life By Terki Al-Dakhil remember during the 90s, and particularly in August 1990, Saudi Arabia opened many projects that were near completion to host their Kuwaiti brothers. Those projects were ahead of their time due to the planning they enjoyed. A garden in every residential square, projects of libraries in neighborhoods...but, our brothers stay did not last long and in fact they were sold or rented soon after the Gulf war. And now, when one visits those areas he will discover that they are under beauty annihilation. A Saudi Mayor said that some of the strange things in people is their dislike of gardens, as some of them go to the Municipality demanding the removal of the garden to make it a mosque, although an existing mosque is no more than 400 meters away. The garden is not against the mosque, and I do not want a reader to think I am against building mosques, but I am against the use of mosques for showing off, with everybody building a mosque at the corner of his house to be equal to his neighbor. Gardens are an integral part of neighborhoods landscaping, and greenery is the life of a city. Our relationship with gardens during the past 50 years was not good, rather gardens were linked to bad practices. Gardens were closed and swimming pools were deserted, and all that is heard in them is the sound of wind because the people do not appreciate life and beauty. Greenery is the beauty of the


soul and its relaxation, although we are optimistic about garden projects to be built in the future. Gardens and beaches are the resort of families at nights and during weekends, and any distortion of such places makes us wonder how someone can violate such beauty and greenery. We wonder about the culture of those who are repulsed by gardens, and feels disgusted at anything beautiful. Greenery is the pulse of the street and it is the masterpiece of the neighborhood where people live. If we recall the history of cities such as Baghdad or Cairo, or all the cities of Andalus, we will be surprised with the beauty they enjoyed. In fact engineers then added new things to construction and decoration, to a point where Islamic history had its own decoration and style on mosques, palaces and homes. Beauty is part of our history, and not something new to it. Some people fight beauty with the claim of austerity, or with the claim that this life is a transient one, although our religion tells people to care for this life as if he will live forever, and worry about the hereafter as if he will die tomorrow. This is a vision which brings religion and life together. Let us beautify our life, that has become yellow due to the heat or is shaking due to the cold, because this strange geographical spot can only be mended by beauty...greenery and spreading gardens without over use of water or over spending. —Al-Jarida

in my view

Impose sanctions on Al-Maliki By Tariq Al-Homayed early three days after the Arab Summit in Baghdad was adjourned, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki launched an attack, more like a personal attack, on both Saudi Arabia and Qatar - which he described as “these two countries”, in defense of the Baathist regime of Bashar Al-Assad! Al-Maliki did not only attack Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but he also said, in reference to the despotic Assad regime: “The regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?” Yes, he said why should it fall? After nearly 10,000 Syrians killed, and a million are in need of immediate humanitarian aid, in addition to more than 100,000 refugees, Al-Maliki who previously accused the Assad regime of being behind terrorism in Baghdad, and threatened to resort to the UN Security Council because of this - today speaks of the Syrian regime saying “why should it fall?” The truth is that what Al-Maliki is doing is a sign that the current Iraqi government cannot be trusted, under any circumstances, for several reasons. If Al-Maliki is concerned for the safety of Syria and the region as a whole, which itself is unbelievable, when he warns that any attempt to topple the Assad regime by force will lead to “a wider crisis in the region”, then what about AlMaliki’s party itself, which came to power in Iraq as the result of the United States, a foreign intervening force that brought down Saddam Hussein? Likewise, the Al-Maliki government has remained in power as a result of Iranian pressure, despite Al-Maliki losing the elections and coming second behind Iyad Allawi, so how can he fear for the region now if Assad is overthrown by force? How can Al-Maliki attack Saudi Arabia and Qatar follow-


ing the Arab summit in Baghdad, after both countries attended the meeting, and especially given the positions of both countries in the days leading up to the event. Meanwhile, ahead of the summit Al-Maliki had announced that his government could not defend Assad. So how, nearly three days after the Baghdad summit, can AlMaliki turn on Saudi Arabia and Qatar today? Of course, this is clear deception, and evidence that Al-Maliki’s government cannot be trusted. Had he attacked “these two countries” before the Baghdad summit, then matters would have turned out differently. Most important of all, in addition to the fact that we cannot trust the Al-Maliki government, is that the Iraqi government is trying to secure a safe passageway for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Assad regime, and this is what a witness - a dissident Syrian official - reported to the Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul. Consequently, how can we trust the so-called democratic government of Iraq, which hunted down Iraq’s Sunnis under the pretext that they were affiliated to the Baath party, whilst defending the Syrian Baath party today, and securing a weapons route for it? What unites the Baghdad government and the Assad regime apart from sectarianism? Therefore, sanctions must be imposed upon Nuri AlMaliki himself, not Iraq, and the Gulf States must begin to boycott Al-Maliki and his government. Even the Iraqi presidency of the Arab League does not bear the same value now, given Al-Maliki’s dishonorable defense of Syria. We must punish all those who stand with the tyrant of Damascus, firstly the Al-Maliki government. We must commence a boycott in order to prevent the emergence of a new Saddam Hussein or Bashar Assad.

in my view

Full support for premier By Mohammad Al-Mishaan ontrary to what his opponents expected, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak refused three matters: secrecy, legislative committee and the Constitutional court. He stepped up to the grilling platform in an open session, witnessed by all Kuwaiti people, with complete confidence. He defended all parts of the grilling filed by MP Saleh Ashoor. His Highness the Prime Minister knows very well what some minority MPs have tactics which they are trying in two matters; either talking him down through dividing the majority which stands by the Government, or pushing with all their might to dissolve the National Assembly. I feel that His Highness the Prime Minister is fully aware of those tactics. Therefore he will be keen to extend hands of cooperation to all Parliament groups to start approving important legislation for the benefit of the state and the citizens, without discrimination among groups, as it was in the previous Governments.


MPs in the majority groups must also extend hands of cooperation to His Highness, especially as they are aware of the aims of some of their colleagues in the minority group. The coming days will be full of grillings, filed by minority MPs for the Sheikh ministers only. They are of the opinion that such a tactic will achieve their goals and lead to the dissolution of either council. They do not understand that when His Highness the Prime Minister stepped up to the grilling platform in an open session, it means that time has run away without return. Your Highness the Prime Minister, today we stand by you and support you so long as your government moves within the Constitution and the law. Trust, ìBu Sabahî, that when the Government provokes this frame we will be the first to criticize the Government without embarrassment. May God bless you in the interest of Kuwait and its people. —Al-Anbaa




Awqaf seeks ways to monitor Shiite mosques KUWAIT: The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is keen on having a suitable approach to monitor Shiite mosques, but there was no legislation nor law obliging the Ministry to monitor the mourning houses of Shiites, a senior ministry official said Tuesday. Undersecretary Dr Adel Al-Falah, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony to honor winners of the Holy Quran competition, said that the ministry has been debating the monitoring of Shiite mosques for a long time now. He added that this has been in coordination with members of the Shiite community. “Mourning houses (Husseiniyyas) are not classified as worshipping sites and the Ministry’s Charter of the Mosque does not apply on them,” he said. The ministry, he added, was considering covering the expenses of Shiite mosques, as it does with Sunni mosques. “We want to complete this project with the Kuwaiti people, who are known for their forgiving nature and diplomatic ways in finding compromises.” The ministry, said Al-Falah, was in the process of applying the rules and regulations used in Sunni mosques to the Shiite mosques. —KUNA

Municipality food control plays key role in protecting society ‘No grounds for criticism” By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: The Chairman of the Arab Union for Municipality and Tourism Workers and the secretary of Kuwait Municipality employees’ syndicate, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Aradah, stressed that Kuwait Municipality is the prime line of defense in terms of ensuring the safety of food products in the market. He said that through strict law enforcement, the Municipality has managed to foil many attempts to get tons of foul and inedible foodstuff through to local markets. Speaking about recent criticism of the Municipality food control department, AlAradah said that ever since the appointment of the manager, engineer Istiqlal Mislem, she had been working to develop the performance of her inspection teams

KUWAIT: The Commercial Bank of Kuwait presented a financial contribution to the labor union of the Directorate General for Civil Aviation to support the cultural activities the union hosts for DGCA staff. Picture shows the regional manager of CBK’s banking services sector, Ibtisam Al-Hajri, presenting a check to the secretary of the labor union of the Directorate General for Civil Aviation, Hassan Abdullah.

Investigation in plant’s environmental violations KUWAIT: The Environment Public Authority (EPA) is currently preparing a report describing violations committed by the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) while constructing water purification units that use reverse osmosis at Shuwaikh water desalination plant. Once finished, the report will be sent to the General Department of Investigations, said Sameera Al-Kandari, director of the EPA planning and environmental impact assessment department. “The EPA previously reached out to the MEW to obtain guarantees for removing the violations”, Al-Kandari said,

“but the ministry is yet to respond to our demands in a stance that violate environmental laws”. According to Al-Kandari, the MEW failed to address the proper disposal of waste from the reverse osmosis units. They have also recently started building similar units at South Zoor water desalination plant, with the same specifications as those at Shuwaikh plant. “The units produce a lot of sludge in waste that cannot be disposed of in landfills”, Al-Kandari said, adding that this type of waste requires special units to treat the substances harmful to the environment. —Al-Qabas

KUWAIT: Members of the Asian gang pictured after their arrest.

Asian gang caught with forged revenue stamps By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: Criminal investigators recently arrested an Asian gang for trading in forged revenue stamps, security sources said. Case papers indicate that detectives were tipped off concerning the suspects’ activity and that they were bringing forged stamps from an Asian country to sell them in Kuwait. The suspects were arrested red-handed while selling the stamps in a government establishments. Lovers caught An Asian housemaid working for a Lebanese family in Salmiya was arrested along with her boyfriend when her sponsor unexpectedly returned home and found them both in bed, security sources said. A case was filed and both lovers were referred to the relevant authorities. Drunk Kuwaiti arrested A 66-year-old citizen suddenly fainted behind the Kuwait Stock Exchange

building in Murqab, security sources said. After being examined by paramedics, they found out that the man was heavily intoxicated. He was arrested. Insulted A female employee working at Jahra e-mall filed a complaint against a citizen who shouted at and insulted her when she asked to see his ID before completing a transaction for him. Road accidents A 4-year-old Egyptian child sustained several head and body bruises after being knocked over by a car while crossing the street in Hawalli, security sources said. A 55-year-old Syrian sustained a serious head injury and fractured his spine in a road accident near the Jahra stables, said security sources. The man was rushed to Jahra Hospital ICU. A 26-year-old Indian broke his right ankle and a 32-year-old Tunisian lady sustained a nose bleed when their cars collided along Fahaheel Highway.

and hiring the most competent national elements. They storm foodstuff warehouses and make sure the items that find their way to the market are safe for human consumption. “However, the recent criticism launched against the department was masterminded by some influential merchants and importers who aim to weaken the inspection teams and get back at them for refusing to pass some suspicious transactions,” explained Al-Aradah, urging top Municipality officials and the Minister of State for Municipal Affairs to honor food control team members for their endless efforts in protecting both citizens and expatriates. Al-Aradah said the main duties of the food control department includes examining specimens of all imported food shipments arriving by land, sea or air cargo to make sure they match Kuwait and the

GCC’s standard food specifications before they find their way to local markets. He said if shipments violate such conditions, importers are usually asked either to re-export them to their origin or destroy them. ‘If by any chance confiscated food items find their way to local markets, they are confiscated in inspection raids and destroyed. The merchants are fined and referred for prosecution,” he explained. Meanwhile, Kuwait Municipality has prepared a draft law which includes a KD 100,000 penalty, in addition to a three-year sentence, for importers of expired food into the country. The proposal, which falls under new Municipality regulations, will be presented at the National Assembly for adoption, said Kuwait Municipality Director General, Ahmad Al-Subeeh. Other efforts aimed at tackling the growing epidemic in

the country, include a proposed food commission, which will carry out the combined role of watchdog on behalf of all Government bodies, he added. Currently, the Municipality cooperates with the Customs Authority, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Commerce to ensure the safety of food imports and their suitability for human consumption. Imported foods are appropriately stored under the highest conditions at local ports and are thoroughly examined at fully-equipped laboratories, AlSubeeh said. Staff working at these assessment facilities receive the highest level of training at the hands of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, with 46 assessors expected to arrive this year and many more to be added to the team in the future.



Egyptian woman flees with cash of business partner Deportation for human trafficker

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti talents that took part in ‘Mawaheb’ exhibition at The Avenues Mall.

SACGC awards 21 young Kuwaiti talents KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity (SACGC) yesterday honored 21 young and aspiring Kuwaiti musicians and artists who showcased their artwork at the three -day Mawaheb Talent Expo that was held at The Avenues Mall earlier last month. The awards ceremony was held at the theatre of the Kuwait Foundation Advancement of Science (KFAS). In his opening remarks, SACGC’s General Manager Dr Omar Al-Bannai, said, “Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity continually supports young Kuwaiti talents to succeed to their best ability. The Mawaheb Talent Expo was our first platform in highlighting the unique work and capabilities of these 21 talents present today directly to the community, and it proved to be a great success as the event attracted an average of 120,000 attendees over a three-day period.” “We are proud to honor our young talents and at the same time instill the notion that SACGC stands firm in its unwavering commitment in guiding, nurturing and

rewarding talent,” he goes on to say. Dr Al-Bannai added: “Mawaheb witnessed the ascent of 21 outstanding individuals into the public eye. At SACGC, we focus on building and promoting a culture of creativity within the community. This awards ceremony is our way to recognize and encourage our local talents in their road to success,” he said. SACGC is an initiative by HH the Amir of Kuwait to sponsor and support gifted and creative individuals in the community of all ages, and to provide them with support and mentoring platform that enables them to excel and become globally competitive in their respective fields. The center defines gifted individuals as individuals who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, arts). The exhibition sets to display some of these talents to the community through “Mawaheb.”

4% of Kuwait’s GDP aids needy nations: Al-Ajmi KAMPALA: Kuwait has allocated four percent of its gross domestic product, since the 70s, to aid nations in need of financial and humanitarian assistance, said a leading Kuwaiti legislator, further affirming the Gulf state’s sympathy with those in need. Ammar Al-Ajmi, the Undersecretary of the Kuwaiti parliamentary caucus, discussed at length various injustices regarding the distribution of wealth and resources across the world during the 126th Inter Parliamentary Union. He noted that only one billion people of the Earth’s population enjoy good standards of living, adding that a sixth of the world’s nations suffer from starvation, poverty and diseases. Addressing the Second Permanent Commission for Sustainable Development, Financing and Commerce, Al-Ajmi added that there are also poor people in wealthy nations: “...thus there must be serious consideration regarding the re-distribution of wealth globally.” Aware of the plight of nations with limited resources, Kuwait has been allocating

four percent of its GDP to help in the form of both direct aid and loans since 1974. It has helped more than 90 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, said AlAjmi. At the domestic level, Kuwaiti authorities have been supporting people of the country at various levels and through various programs. Al-Ajmi noted a decree by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which granted KD 1,000 to each Kuwaiti citizen last February. Families were also supported with 14 months worth of food supplies in order to assist citizens in coping with the economic crisis. Al-Ajmi also discussed social, political and humanitarian issues, “The powerful should no longer control the weak,” he said. He added that a new world order was emerging given new rising powers such as China, India, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa. He called for joint global efforts to help marginalized nations suffering from illiteracy, poverty and fanaticism. — KUNA

Kuwait, Mexico to boost health relations KUWAIT: Minister of Health Ali Al-Obeidi on Tuesday met with Mexican Minister of Health Armando Ahued, along with his accompanying delegation, and discussed ways of boosting bilateral relations and benefiting from Mexican medical experiences. In a press statement following Mexican delegation meeting with Minister Al-Obaidi and ministry’s senior officials, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Abdulhadi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, said there were exchanges of ideas between the two sides, as well as reviewing of medical care and service in Mexico with their points of strength and weakness. Also during the meeting, the two sides discussed ways of strengthen relations and cooperation in medical field

that include special medical majors and medical equipment, Al-Obeidi said, adding that a discussion was held on Mexican experience in treating conditions of swine flu epidemic since it was the first country to be hit by the disease. He noted that life in Mexico is similar to Kuwait with regards to health problems such as obesity in children, heart diseases, and cancer, pointing out that exchange of medical experiences between the two countries was vital and based on those similarities which is important in order to improve the quality of health services in the country. In addition, Al-Obaidi mentioned that a memorandum of understating is to be signed between Kuwait and Mexico in medical field that would positively reflect on citizens’ health. —- KUNA

UN Habitat official praises Kuwait KUWAIT: Dr Tareq Al-Shaikh, representative of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) to Kuwait, praised on Tuesday Kuwait’s care in municipal work and urban development. Dr Al-Sheikh said that this care was highlighted by Kuwait’s decision to sponsor the “Municipal management and sustainable urban development in Arabic city” conference, which will be organized by Kuwait’s Municipality in cooperation with UN Habitat’s delegation. He added that the Habitat program in Kuwait is organizing, in cooperation with Kuwait’s Municipality, a workshop entitled “Expats of low-income.” The workshop comes following recommendations made by UN Habitat’s report on

the housing situation of expats in Kuwait. Dr Al-Sheikh pointed out that UN Habitat’s report highlighted the need to develop a housing strategy which covers issues including the development of land and the development of capabilities that would ensure follow-up and the continued monitoring of quality. He stressed the urgency with which legislation should be established regarding the adequate protection of expat housing rights which, he added, should be kept stable and recorded in contracts with employers. Dr Al-Sheik h noted the valuable efforts made by responsible parties at the Municipality, especially those of Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim, Ahmad Al-Sabeeh and the General Director.— KUNA

KUWAIT: Police are on the hunt for an Egyptian woman accused of stealing thousands of dinars from her business partner. The case was filed at Salhiya police station where a Kuwaiti woman reported that her partner had disappeared after receiving KD 40,000, as per an agreement to run a joint project. The complainant reportedly explained that she had full trust in the suspect given the strong friendship they shared. The suspect’s name was distributed across all possible routes the suspect could use to flee the country. Inmate dies in cell An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of death of an inmate at the Central Jail. Paramedics and police headed to the facility following a report that an inmate had fallen unconscious. The inmate, an Egyptian expatriate, was dead by the time paramedics arrived and CPR attempts failed to retrieve his pulse. The body was taken for an autopsy while investigations continued at the scene. The man was reportedly serving time for drug trafficking and use. Teen brutally stabbed The search is currently ongoing for three male suspects who brutally attacked a teenager. The 16-year-old was found in Al-Na’eem

bleeding at the side of a road by a driver, who rushed him to Al-Jahra Hospital. The victim told police that he was stabbed repeatedly by three unknown people who jumped him while he was walking. Detectives are waiting for the teen’s condition to stabilize before they continue with investigations. Suicide attempt A teenager was hospitalized recently after intentionally overdosing on painkillers in an attempt to commit suicide. The 13-year-old was rushed from his house in Al-Riqqa to AlAdan Hospital by his father, where it was found that the teen had ingested 460 painkiller pills. Police launched investigations to determine the circumstances behind the incident. Human trafficker An expatriate is set to be deported following charges of human trafficking, among others. Jahra investigators received information about a Bangladeshi expatriate running unlicensed baqalas (small grocery stores) in Sulaibiya. Police arrested the suspect after monitoring his activity and discovering that he was renting ground floor apartments to run as baqalas. During interrogation, the expatriate confessed to illegally running 20 unlicensed baqalas in Sulaibiya and Farwaniya. Furthermore, investi-

gations revealed that at least 20 Bangladeshi workers were hired illegally to run the shops. The workers were charged KD 500 each, annually, in exchange for work visas. The suspect explained that the majority of the money went to Kuwaiti sponsors who had agreed to grant the sponsorships illegally. The suspect was taken to the General Department of Deportation following investigations and is currently being held pending the finalization of deportation procedures, said a security source. Drunk driver A drunk driver was arrested recently on AlSalmi Road after intentionally damaging a police patrol vehicle and fleeing the scene. The patrol officer was driving ahead of a crane, which had lifted a car with a flat tire from the side of the road. Soon afterwards, a car damaged the officer’s vehicle, leaving damages on the front bumper of the patrol car. The driver managed to escape but was soon caught by backup police. The driver, a Syrian expatriate, was reportedly accompanied by two Bedoon (stateless) men, and police eventually realized that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Investigations later revealed that the suspect hit the patrol vehicle because he owned the car being lifted by the crane for impounding. — Al-Rai, Al-Qabas, Al-Watan

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Red Crescent Society volunteers on humanitarian missions around the world.

KRCS expands activities: Al-Barjas KUWAIT: The Kuwait Red Crescent S ociet y (KRCS) expanded and diversified its programs and activities last year for the implementation of strategies to develop national voluntar y work , said KRCS Chairman Barjas Al-Barjas yesterday. The volunteering department of the society succeeded in executing practical, theoretical and training programs to sharpen the skills of the volunteers and use their

potential in humanitarian missions, said Al-Barjas. The depar tment enlisted 250 volunteers in 2011, who completed habilitation and training courses including lectures about the society’s tasks, legal issues and medical affairs, said Al-Barjas. He added that a number of the volunteers took part in giving lec tures at the countr y ’s schools about first-aid and voluntary missions.

KRCS also took part in last year’s “Giving campaign” which targeted students, teachers and parents, including training on first-aid and firefighting. Moreover, 40 volunteers took part in 15 exhibitions throughout the country. Weekly seminars were also held about medical and health issues, and visits were organized for the volunteers to go to hospitals, clinics and social care houses.

Barjas Al-Barjas

EQUATE sponsors 10 students to attend GPCA plastics summit KUWAIT: EQUATE Petrochemical Company announced its sponsorship of 10 Kuwaiti university students who attended the Third Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemical Association (GPCA) Plastics Summit in Dubai during April 3-5, in Dubai. Speaking on this occasion, EQUATE PE Business Director Muayad Al-Faresi said, “As professional and educational development is a cornerstone of EQUATE Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program , this initiative is aimed at demonstrating EQUATE’s role in supporting overall sustainability through direct interaction between these students from Kuwait University’s College of Engineering and Petroleum and the petrochemical industry’s leaders.” Al-Faresi noted, “The petrochemical industry is the second main source of income for Gulf States, and such involvement by these future engineers is an investment relevant to creating added-value by exposing such human resources to the ever growing petrochemical industry which is expected to reach about 140 million tons of production

during 2015.” Throughout the years, EQUATE has launched several educational initiatives, such as two scholarships programs with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) with the first being for Kuwaiti high school graduates and the second for EQUATE employees, as well as signing memorandums of understanding and establishing educa-

tional centers with a number of faculties at Kuwait University and the Public Authority for Applied Education & Training (PAAET). Established in 1995, EQUATE is an international joint venture between Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC), The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Boubyan Petrochemical Company (BPC) and Qurain

Petrochemical Industries Company (QPIC). Commencing production in 1997, EQUATE is the single operator of a fully integrated world-scale manufacturing facility producing over 5 million tons annually of high-quality petrochemical products which are marketed throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

KUWAIT: Muayad Al-Faresi (centre) pictured with the students.


Iran proposes Baghdad as nuclear talks venue Page 8

French police arrest 10 in crackdown on radicals Page 9

Romney sweeps three primaries Romney pushes closer to Republican nomination MILWAUKEE: Mitt Romney tightened his grip on the Republican presidential nomination after sweeping three more primaries and shifted his focus to the general election with a sharp attack on President Barack Obama. Romney ’s victories Tuesday in Wisconsin, Mar yland and Washington, DC, padded his already considerable delegate lead and all but handed him the title of presumptive Republican nominee. Chief rival Rick Santorum vowed to fight on, defying growing pressure to abandon his own candidacy in the name of party unity. Wisconsin was the marquee contest of the night, the only place of the three voting Tuesday where Santorum mounted a significant effort. Romney’s victory there marked his fourth in little more than a month in a belt of Midwestern industrial states that also included Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. The Republican front-runner was set yesterday to take the same Washington stage that the president had used a day earlier to criticize Romney in a speech to newspaper editors in Washington. The former Massachusetts governor planned to address the Newspaper Association of America, a day after Obama spoke to the annual meeting of The Associated Press. “There is a basic choice before us,” Romney said Tuesday night as he spoke to cheering suppor ters in Milwaukee. “Our different visions for America are the product of our values and our life experiences.” Romney didn’t mention Santorum on Tuesday

night. Instead, Romney sought to cast Obama as an “out of touch” liberal whose personal background is hostile to a free economy. His remarks came just hours after Obama delivered a combative campaign speech in Washington, where he attacked the budget plan approved last month by House Republicans as “thinly veiled social Darwinism” that “is antithetical to our entire histor y as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who’s willing to work for it.” Obama called it “a prescription for decline.” After his speech yesterday, Romney planned to head to a campaign event in the Philadelphia suburbs. He was to campaign in Pennsylvania today, as well, hoping to deal a knockout blow to Santorum by winning the April 24 primary in the former US senator’s home state. For Romney, the end of the contested primary campaign could hardly come soon enough. Obama has gained in the polls in recent months, particularly among women, as Republicans vie among themselves for support from the party’s increasingly conservative base. Santorum has devoted more time to social issues - including birth control - than Romney, who has generally stayed focused on economic issues. Additionally, sur veys indicate Americans are growing more optimistic about the overall state of the economy. Unemployment has fallen in recent months, but it is still at a relatively high 8.3 percent of the work force. When he wasn’t focusing his

rhetoric on Obama, Romney prodded Santorum to quit the race, suggesting a refusal to do so could cost the party the election in November. “I want to have our nominee start raising money, start organizing a

primary contests,” Romney told conservative radio host Sean Hannity on Tuesday. Romney, who has cemented his lead over Santorum through overwhelming spending on television advertising, will face a better organ-

MILWAUKEE: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declares victory in the Wisconsin presidential primary at the Grain Exchange, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. —AP national campaign and focus on President Obama and his agenda because this is time for us to start focusing on him rather than standing and focusing on one another in these

ized, better financed Obama campaign backed by the power of the presidency. Already, the early outlines of a general election ad war are visible.

Obama’s re-election campaign is airing commercials in a half-dozen battleground states that accuse Romney of siding with Big Oil “for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables.” The ads are a rapid response to $3 million in commercials aired by an outside group, American Energy Alliance, blaming the president for rising gasoline prices. Santorum took note of the calls for him to exit the race. He vowed to compete in the Pennsylvania primary in three weeks and in contests next month on more favorable terrain in Texas, Arkansas, and other southern states. “Ladies and gentleman, Pennsylvania and half the other people in this country have yet to be heard, and we’re going to go out and campaign here and across this nation to make sure that their voices are heard in the next few months,” Santorum told supporters at a sparsely attended election night party outside Pittsburgh in his home state. He had three campaign events scheduled across Pennsylvania yesterday. Santorum made little or no effort in Maryland, was not on the ballot in Washington, DC, and concentrated much of his time in Wisconsin in rural areas. Returns from 98 percent of Wisconsin’s precincts showed Romney with 43 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Santorum, 12 percent for Texas Rep. Ron Paul and 6 percent for Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives. Returns from 100 percent of Mar yland’s precincts

showed Romney with 49 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Santorum, 11 percent for Gingrich and 10 percent for Paul. With all precincts counted in Washington, Romney had 70 percent of the vote to 12 percent for Paul and 11 percent for Gingrich. Santorum was not on the ballot. Interviews with voters leaving Republican polling places in Maryland and Wisconsin showed an electorate more concerned with a candidate’s ability to ability to defeat Obama than with the strength of his conser vatism, his moral character or his stand on the issues. Similar soundings in earlier states have consistently worked to Romney’s advantage. The latest losses make it all but impossible for Santorum to secure enough delegates to block Romney’s nomination. Romney won at least 83 delegates in Tuesday’s three races, with six delegates yet to be decided. That pushed his total to 655 of the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Republican National Convention in late August in Tampa, Florida. Santorum has 278 delegates, Gingrich 135 and Paul 51. Romney has won 58 percent of the primary and caucus delegates so far. He is on pace to reach the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination in early June. Santorum has won just 26 percent of the delegates so far. He would need 80 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination - a nearly impossible task because most states award delegates proportionally. —AP



Bahrain transfers hunger striker to prison clinic MANAMA: An imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days has been moved to a prison clinic for medical observation and care, authorities said yesterday. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence for his role in last year’s uprising in the Gulf kingdom. He was arrested last April during a crackdown against antigovernment protests led by Bahrain’s Shiite majority that has been demanding greater rights from the island nation’s Sunni rulers. AlKhawaja, who is also a Danish citizen,

has been refusing food since Feb. 8. Bahrain’s opposition supporters have been rallying for his release almost daily. Another protest is planned for later yesterday. Last week, Amnesty International urged Bahrain to free him because of fears he could die. On Tuesday, the Danish government said it has been “exerting maximum efforts” to have Al-Khawaja sent to Denmark for medical treatment. A government statement yesterday said the prison’s rehabilitation official recommended the day before that al-Khawaja be trans-

ferred to the clinic “for constant medical observation and care.” It said that medical tests have showed Al-Khawaja has lost “approximately 10 kilograms and was showing signs of low hemoglobin, although not at a critical level.” It gave no further details on his health. Al-Khawaja is one of seven opposition figures who have been sentenced to life imprisonment in a special security court, which was set up after Bahrain imposed martial law last March to quell political unrest in the tiny, but strategically impor tant nation.

Bahrain is the home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. 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 medics who treated injured protesters during the unrest. Bahrain lifted martial law in June. The special tribunal was disbanded in November and all protest-related trial were transferred to civilian courts. Al-Khawaja’s lawyers appealed his conviction in

Bahrain’s highest court on Monday when judges refused to release him on bail. Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former Middle East and North Africa director of the Ireland-based Frontline Defenders Rights organization. He has also documented human rights abuses in Bahrain for international rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Al-Khawaja is married and has four daughters. He’s lived in exile in Denmark for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001. — AP

Iran proposes Baghdad as nuclear talks venue Plans for Istanbul venue falter on Iran-Turkey tensions

BAMAKO: A woman arrives from the northern city of Timbuktu yesterday after two days of travel. — AFP

Islamists gain ground as pressure builds on Mali BAMAKO: Mali’s junta was facing increasing pressure to give up power yesterday, with world powers tightening the diplomatic screws as Islamists consolidate their grip on the north. UN Security Council members were hammering out a joint statement on the Mali crisis, with agreement expected later yesterday on a strong message but without any firm actions proposed. France called the emergency discussions of the 15-nation council to negotiate a statement condemning last month’s coup against President Amadou Toumani Toure and the advance of Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants into towns in the north of the country. The United States took action Tuesday, joining the African Union in imposing travel bans on coup leaders as international efforts were redoubled to restore democratic rule in a country descending into chaos. The US State Department said it would restrict travel to the United States of those “who block Mali’s return to civilian rule and a democratically elected government, including those who actively support Captain Amadou Sanogo,” the coup leader. Feeling the bite of the mounting sanctions and pressure from all sides, the soldiers who seized power on March 22 proposed a national meeting today and dispatched a team to Nigeria for talks on an exit from the growing crisis. Sanogo told journalists that today’s meeting would determine “what will be best for the country in a consensual, democratic fashion.” Since the coup, ostensibly over the government’s failure to stamp out a northern rebellion, the junta has lost more than half the country’s territory an area the size of France-in a matter of days to the rebel juggernaut. Islamists seized control of the ancient trading hub Timbuktu over the weekend alongside Tuareg rebels and have since chased out their allies and declared to residents and religious leaders that they were imposing sharia law. This sparked alarm

abroad ahead of the emergency UN Security Council meeting, with former colonial power France expressing concern over the Islamist threat in a country considered a democratic success until the coup. The Tuareg rebels want an independent state while Ansar Dine, under notorious commander Iyad Ag Ghaly, wants to impose Islamic law and has linked up with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Three of the four leaders of Al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch, Abou Zeid, Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, were in Timbuktu on Tuesday, security and religious sources in the city said. Residents reported women in the normally secular city that hosted a major music festival in January were on Tuesday wearing headscarves. A day after being slapped with sanctions by its neighbours, Mali’s embattled military rulers came under travel bans and an asset freeze from the African Union for failing to restore constitutional order, before the US imposed its own travel ban, which will also apply to immediate family members of the coup leaders. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) already cut off the landlocked country which depends heavily on imported fuel, also freezing access to its bank account in Dakar. In Bamako, long lines formed at petrol stations as panic set in over the impact of the sanctions. “We hear there is an embargo, we are afraid of shortages so we are taking precautions,” said a youth who wanted to fill half a dozen empty bottles. The junta on Tuesday sent a delegation to Nigeria, where ECOWAS officials could offer an amnesty in exchange for relinquishing power, a foreign ministry source in Abuja said. However, it appeared a deal was not reached. Coup leader Sanogo said in Bamako the junta wanted to prosecute ousted President Toure for “high treason and financial wrongdoing.”— AFP

UAE closure of NGO offices worries HRW DUBAI: Human Right Watch voiced concern yesterday over the decision of authorities in the United Arab Emirates to close the offices of two democracy advocacy groups. UAE authorities last week shut down the office of German think-tank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, in Abu Dhabi, and that of the US National Democratic Institute in Dubai. “The UAE authorities have not offered any explanation as to why they have targeted Konrad Adenauer foundation and the NDI offices. It’s important that the government explains its actions,” said UAE researcher at HRW Samer Muscati. “Given the pro-democracy mandate of these two organisations, it appears that their offices were closed as part of a larger campaign against those demanding democratic change within the UAE,” he told AFP. The German foreign ministry said last week that it invited the UAE ambassador to Berlin to underline the “positive work of the foundation” and seek a “common solution” to reopen its Abu Dhabi office. The shuttering of the office, which was opened in 2009, came after Egypt closed the founda-

tion’s centre in Cairo in December. The National Democratic Institute’s office in Cairo was also raided as part of the same swoop by the Egyptian authorities. US State Secretary Hillary Clinton discussed the matter with her UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, in Riyadh on Saturday. Muscati said there was a growing nervousness and anxiety by UAE authorities about developments in the region. “Since the Arab Spring, we have seen growing calls by Emiratis, particularly on social media, for increased rights and freedoms,” he said. “The authorities are trying their best to quell this movement,” he added. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Sunday condemned the “arrests and trials of netizens” in the country, listing a number of activists arrested for expressing their opinion on online social network. Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi was arrested in Abu Dhabi on 26 March without a warrant, along with Judge Ahmed Yousef Zaabi, a fellow activist, it said, adding that the two men were still being held without charges.— AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraq said yesterday it had offered to host talks between Iran and six world powers on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme next week, acting on an Iranian request to change the venue from Istanbul following friction with Turkey. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said the April 13-14 negotiations would take place in Istanbul, the first such meeting since January 2011, when the sides failed to agree on an agenda. Now it is unclear if they can even settle on a venue. Iranian media earlier quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying the meeting could be in Iraq or China, and Britain said the host city was still not decided. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters his country

had given ambassadors from the six powers formal invitations to meet the Iranians in Baghdad, after a visiting Iranian delegation proposed this on Tuesday. “Iraq has expressed its willingness to host these talks if the parties agree,” Zebari said. “We have extended the invitation and we are waiting for responses.” There was no immediate reaction from the six powers - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - to the proposal to hold talks in Iraq. “Talks are due to take place now at the end of next week. The venue for those has not yet been determined. That is in itself part of the negotiation,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters in London. “This (the

talks) will be an important test of Iran’s sincerity in returning to negotiations which we have repeatedly called on them to do.” Iraq’s Shiite-led government is closely aligned with Iran in a region where Sunni Arab Gulf powers are competing for influence the Shi’ite Islamic Republic. A senior Iranian figure recently spoke out against Turkey hosting the talks as once-warm IranianTurkish relations have cooled in the past year over Turkey’s hostility to Syrian President Bashar AlAssad, Iran’s close Arab ally. Turkey has demanded Assad halt a yearlong crackdown on opponents in Syria and step down. Turkey has also announced it would reduce the amount of oil it buys from Iran by 10 percent, ceding to US pres-

sure over Iran sanctions. The United States and its allies suspect Tehran is covertly working on nuclear weapons and have imposed tough sanctions on Iran, including measures against its financial and energy sectors. Tehran says its nuclear activities are peaceful. Tehran last month agreed to renewed talks with the five permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Germany, but said negotiations over the venue were continuing. After years of war, Iraq last month hosted an Arab League summit for the first time in two decades as part of its push to return to the diplomatic stage in a region split on sectarian lines over the Syria conflict and the dispute with Iran. —Reuters

1980 Turkish coup leaders’ trial opens ANKARA: Turkey’s landmark trial of the two surviving leaders of the 1980 military takeover opened yesterday in an Ankara court, more than three decades after the army seized power. Former general Kenan Evren, 94, and his co-conspirator Tahsin Sahinkaya, 86, are charged with ousting the civilian government on September 12, 1980. The pair are absent from the trial due to their poor health. Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly made up of left-wing political parties, staged a protest in front of the courthouse, chanting slogans demanding justice for the victims of the coup and brandishing banners. “This case is not abandoned,” one of the banners read. “Those who resisted will have the final say.” A small child waved a banner apparently revealing that his grandfather was a victim of the coup: “Coup leaders, listen to me! My name is Umut (Hope). I will not abandon my grandfather.” Another victim, 56-year-old Ali Imer, told AFP how he was arrested on September 12, the day of the coup and tortured. “I was jailed for four years for membership of a left-wing political party. I had been tortured for 87 days,” he said. “They threatened to rape my wife if I refused to speak. I was given electro-shock.” Several parliamentarians also joined the protest. “This is a landmark case for Turkey’s recent history, but it shouldn’t be superficial,” said Sezgin Tanrikulu, lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). “Not only Evren and Sahinkaya, but also those who ordered the torture should be tried,” he said. The military, which has long seen itself as the guarantor of secularism in Turkey, staged three coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 as well as pressuring an Islamist-rooted government to relinquish power in 1997. But the 1980 coup was the bloodiest of them all. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested, about

ANKARA: A group of leftist militants sit yesterday outside the courthouse with portraits of people slain or tortured during the September 12, 1980 military coup. — AFP 250,000 were charged, 50 were executed, dozens more were tortured to death and tens of thousands were exiled. “The 1980 coup derailed democracy and ushered in restrictions on rights and freedoms still in evidence in Turkey today,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch, yesterday. “This trial offers an important opportunity to deliver justice for the gross human rights violations that followed the coup-most notably, mass torture and deaths in custody, which amount to crimes against humanity under the present Turkish Penal Code.” The junta has always justified its intervention with the argument that daily clashes between extremist right and leftwing groups were bringing the country to the edge of a civil war. But lawyers party to yesterday’s

trial told the court that the ground for the coup was paved in 1977, NTV reported. “Intentional massacres opened the way for the military takeover,” they argued, in an apparent reference to bloody clashes between political groups during that period. The trial of Evren and Sahinkaya is seen as another episode in the current Islamistrooted government’s campaign against the once unassailable top brass. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and parliament are party to the prosecution as alleged victims of the 1980 coup. The pair face life imprisonment if convicted of committing crimes against the state-the heaviest punishment available since Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002. Evren, who served as Turkey’s seventh president from 1982 to

1989, is currently in hospital and both defendants had told the court through their lawyers that they would be physically unable to attend. The defendants’ lawyers argued that the court could not try Evren and Sahinkaya because the 1982 constitution, introduced by the junta after two years of military rule, was still valid and in force. That constitution, which formalised Evren’s position as president, had exempted the generals from trial. But the charter has been heavily amended since Evren retired in 1989 and the military’s influence has also waned sharply since the AKP came to power in 2002. The provision exempting the generals from trial was removed as part of a AKP-led package of amendments adopted in a referendum on September 12, 2010, exactly 30 years after the coup. —AFP

Netanyahu wants deal to prevent ‘binational state’ JERUSALEM: Israel’s prime minister has said that he still hopes to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, because the alternative would be absorbing them into Israel and destroying the Jewish character of the state. “I want to solve the conflict with the Palestinians because I don’t want a binational state,” Netanyahu told a rare news conference on Tuesday. “For as long as it depends on me, we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel.” The statement was notable because it in effect concedes a key argument made by Netanyahu’s ideological opponents on Israel’s Zionist left: A pullout from territories the Palestinian claim for a state is not just a concession that could be made in exchange for peace but also an imperative for an Israel that wants to remain a Jewish state that is also democratic.

Jews make up roughly 80 percent of Israel’s almost 8 million people. However, if Israel is combined with the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - the lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war - then the Arab population nears parity, and in the view of some demographers is likely to become a majority soon. Indeed, as the prospect of peace seems to grow more remote, increasingly there are voices on the Palestinian side predicting - as a threatened default rather than a desired outcome - a “one-state solution” in which Jews and Arabs have equal status. The so-called “demographic argument” for a pullout has become more critical to the dovish Israeli opposition in recent years, especially since the Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005, punctuated by grisly suicide bombings that killed hundreds, left many in Israel dis-

trustful of Palestinian intentions and despairing of ever reaching peace on agreed terms. Reflecting the sentiment, Israel unilaterally pulled settlers and soldiers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 in an attempt to shed control over about 1.5 million Palestinians. Twice in recent years the sides seemed to come close to a peace deal that would have included the West Bank as well - but in the end they could not agree on details, in particular the division of Jerusalem and the Palestinian demand that refugees and their descendants, who now number in the millions, be allowed to return to Israel. Soon after Netanyahu was elected three years ago, he surprised many by abandoning decades of opposition to Palestinian independence and embracing the concept of a Palestinian state, albeit a demilitarized and restricted one. —AP




Serbian president steps down to allow early vote BELGRADE: Serbian President Boris Tadic announced his resignation yesterday 10 months early, in a manoeuvre aimed at keeping his Democratic Party in power and the country edging closer to the European Union after elections in May. Tadic’s resignation, which he will formally submit on Thursday, sets up a showdown with opposition populists for control of the ex-Yugoslav republic’s parliament and presidency on May 6. Tadic said a fresh mandate through in simultaneous elections was vital if Serbia was to prevent reforms at the heart of its EU membership bid from being derailed. Analysts say his pro-Western Democratic Party is banking on Tadic’s personal popularity to help it close the gap on the opposition Serbian Progressive Party (SNP), whose conser-

Boris Tadic vative, populist policy has played to voter anger over the state of the economy and corruption. SNP leader Tomislav Nikolic, who split from Serbia’s ultranationalist bloc in 2008 and embraced EU integration, told the Beta news agency he would run against Tadic in a repeat of the last presidential election when Nikolic narrowly lost. Tadic, 54, said he would formally submit his resignation to the speaker of parliament on Thursday. The speaker is expected to twin the election with the parliamentary vote set for May 6. “The people will have the opportunity to decide which path Serbia will take,” Tadic told reporters. “Rigorous reforms lie ahead of Serbia, and these reforms must be undertaken by strengthened institutions,” he said. “Therefore the most convenient way is to have elections on all levels. I am doing this out of my sense of political responsibility.” Serbia’s outgoing government won a wel-

come boost in March when the former Yugoslav republic became an official candidate for membership of the European Union, more than a decade after the overthrow of Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic. But the government is struggling to maintain economic growth and rein in rising unemployment as the entire western Balkans suffers from the ripple effect of the debt crisis in the euro zone, Serbia’s main trading partner and investor. In an opinion poll issued last week, pollster Faktor Plus said the Democratic Party would take 29.1 percent of the vote, behind the SNP on 33.2 percent. But analysts say the Democrats have much better chances of finding coalition partners. Legacy of war, isolation Djordje Vukovic of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CESID) said the Democratic Party was counting on Tadic’s personal strength and charisma. “Another reason is that the next government will have to undertake painful cuts to prevent further economic decline.” Austerity measures could hurt Tadic’s chances of re-election if he waited until the end of his mandate, Vukovic said. The country of 7.3 million people is still coming to terms with the political and economic legacy of a decade of war and isolation under Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague for his role in the wars that tore apart socialist Yugoslavia. A bloated public administration, rusting infrastructure and continued tensions with its former Kosovo province has stifled development and deterred investors. “We understand that the motivation for this was to facilitate a well-established government and a solid parliamentary majority after elections,” the EU’s chief diplomat in Serbia, Vincent Degert, said after Tadic’s announcement. The next government, he said, “will face challenges ahead, progress on the European path in particular.” Last year, Serbia arrested and extradited the last two ethnic Serb war crimes suspects still at large, including Bosnian Serb wartime commander and genocide suspect Ratko Mladic. It then clinched EU candidate status after offering a series of small concessions on Kosovo, Serbia’s former southern province which declared independence four years ago. Belgrade does not recognise the secession, but is under pressure to normalise relations with Pristina if it wants the European Union to open accession talks, potentially by the end of the year. Tensions in Kosovo between the Albanian majority and Serb minority still flare into violence. Neither Tadic’s Democrats nor Nikolic’s SNP will likely win enough votes to form a government outright, likely triggering months of horse-trading over cabinet seats and lucrative posts in state-run firms. —Reuters

French police arrest 10 in crackdown on radicals Critics slam Sarkozy for ramping up raids PARIS: French police rounded up 10 people in their second countrywide sweep in several days yesterday, leading to criticism that President Nicolas Sarkozy is ramping up raids to win votes in a tight election. The arrests are part of a high-profile crackdown on radical Islamists in the wake of attacks on soldiers and a Jewish school. They were carried out as part of a preliminary investigation opened Monday into terror-linked activity in France, a judicial official said. Another official close to the investigation said the 10 were suspected of links to Islamist websites and of threatening violence in online forums. Some of them may have been trying to attend jihadist training camps along the AfghanPakistan border, he added. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy. The operation was led by France’s counterespionage agency, DCRI, and targeted people authorities feared could turn to action, instead of just issuing idle threats, according to the judicial official. Police seized computer hardware in the raids. The raids in five cities, mostly in southern France, were the second in several days and appeared to be part of a new focus on rooting out radical Islamists in France. Sarkozy, who is facing a tough re-election, has promised to hunt down radicals and hold them to account or kick them out of the country. But he has come under criticism for using the raids and expulsions to further his campaign and for not doing enough to prevent the killing spree last month in and around Toulouse that left seven dead. On Tuesday, preliminary charges were filed against 13 people who were picked up in a sweep last week, all members of a banned group, Forsane Alizza, or Knights of Pride. Nine of them were jailed. The four others were released but must report to officials. Some of those charged were reportedly calling for

Norway gunman: Mental ward ‘worse than death’ OSLO: Anders Behring Breivik, who is set to go on trial on April 16 for killing 77 people in Norway last July, said in a letter published yesterday that being sentenced to psychiatric care would be the worst fate imaginable. “To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him! It is a fate worse than death,” the 33-year-old right-wing extremist wrote in a 38page letter, of which the Verdens

Gang (VG) daily published a few extracts. The letter aims to discredit, point-by-point, a report by two psychiatric experts, Synne Soerheim and Torgeir Husby, who concluded late last year that Behring Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was therefore criminally insane. If the Oslo court judges reach the same conclusion at the end of his 10-week trial, the confessed killer

will be sentenced to a locked psychiatric ward, possibly for life, rather than prison. Behring Breivik, who has claimed to be on a crusade against multi-culturalism and the “Muslim invasion” of Europe, wants to be declared of sane mind, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political message presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the July 22 attacks. —AFP

Muslim Sharia law to be implemented in France. The second official emphasized that those arrested yesterday were not linked to Forsane Alizza or to the Toulouse attacks. The raids represent the increased focus in France on homegrown radicals. Last month’s attacks on French paratroopers

odds with French values and for those who use their role as preachers to do so. His administration and police came under criticism after the Toulouse killing spree for not stopping the perpetrator sooner since they knew he traveled to Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan. Police had Merah under surveillance after his

Francois Hollande, who is leading most polls in the April and May elections, said the president was trying to make up for earlier intelligence failures. “What’s surprising is why do this after a terrorist attack that has, it’s true, profoundly affected us,” Hollande said on RTL radio, reacting to yesterday’s raids. “I’m not

ROUBAIX: French members of the French National Police Intervention Group (GIPN) arrest a suspected radical islamist groups member yesterday. —AP and the Jewish school have been blamed on Mohamed Merah, a 23year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin who claimed to have received weapons training during trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. France expelled a foreign radical imam and a radical Islamist militant earlier this week, sending them to their homelands. Others are in line to be forced out of France. Sarkozy on Tuesday declared a “zero tolerance” policy for hate speech and radical ideologies at

return, but officials have said they couldn’t arrest him. In light of the criticism, a parliamentary delegation held a hearing yesterday on the role and organization of France’s intelligence forces. The delegation’s work is considered top secret and an unusual news conference scheduled to follow the hearing was abruptly cancelled. Sarkozy’s opponents have also criticized the timing of the recent high-profile operations against suspected radicals.

questioning all that’s being done. I’m simply saying that we should have maybe done more before.” Interior Minister Claude Gueant responded to the barbs by saying that the raids would continue whenever there was sufficient evidence - and that it was the judiciary that was driving these investigations. “The pressure on radical Islamists and the threat they pose will not let up,” he told iTele news channel. —AP



French academic found dead in NYC hotel room No evidence of criminality: NYPD NEW YORK: New York police Tuesday were investigating the death of a prominent French academic and the director of one of France’s most elite colleges after his naked body was found in his hotel room. “The hotel had checked earlier in the morning at nine, and he was asleep, at one he was found dead,” deputy commissioner Paul Browne told AFP, adding that Richard Descoings was found slumped “on his bed” by hotel staff. Browne said the police were investigating, saying there was “no obvious sign of trauma” although “the room was in a state of disarray” due to efforts by medical staff to revive Descoings. Browne later ruled out that the academic’s death was due to an act of violent crime, saying “we haven’t found evidence of criminality.” Descoings, 53, director of the prestigious Institute of Political Studies in Paris, was alone when he was found, Browne said. His death comes 11 months after New York police were embroiled in the scandal surrounding prominent French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was accused of attempted rape by a maid in a Manhattan hotel. The charges were later dropped, but a civil suit is still pending. Descoings died “on

Tuesday in the middle of the day in New York,” the prestigious French institute confirmed in a statement. He had been attending a meeting of the heads of major universities under the aegis of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and had been due to meet four colleagues in the Michelangelo Hotel in Manhattan at 9:00 am. When he failed to show up, they assumed he had left without them for the conference and only became alarmed when they could not find him. A statement from the institute said Descoings had been at its helm for 16 years, during which he had “profoundly transformed” one of France’s leading seats of learning, which traditionally educates the country’s political and diplomatic elite. French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Descoings’ “exceptional career,” saying in a statement he had “devoted his whole life to his chosen cause... education.” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France had lost “an indefatigable player in showcasing our country’s higher education around the world. “At this moment of great sadness, I pay tribute to the memory of a man of passion who never ceased in his commit-

ment to equal access for all to knowledge,” Juppe said. Descoings was in New York to attend a Global Colloquium of University Presidents being held at Columbia University, at which Ban delivered the keynote address to the invitation-only meeting on Monday. In a statement, Ban and Columbia University president Lee Bollinger paid tribute to Descoings, calling him “a global leader on education policy, recognized and honoured both in France and around the world for his contributions to research and policy.” During four consecutive terms, Descoings transformed the institution known affectionately as “Sciences-Po,” increasing student numbers from 4,500 to 10,000 and ringing in huge changes. He opened up the institute, one of France’s “grandes ecoles,” to poor families, set up six campuses in the provinces and widened intake to foreigners, who today make up 40 percent of the student body. Known as a brilliant, inventive and at times provocative educator, Descoings championed “permanent innovation” and took part in many debates about opening up access to higher education in France. — AFP

PARIS: In this file photo, Richard Descoings, director of the Institut d’etudes Politiques, or The Paris institute, stands outside the entrance of the school. — AP

Tornadoes hammer Texas 650 homes damaged in storm

SANTA MONICA: In this photo, Nnaemeka Alozie, campaign manager for Steinman, reacts with milk on his face after being sprayed with pepper spray during a protest. — AP

Students pepper-sprayed at protest SANTA MONICA: Campus police peppersprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after Santa Monica College students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting, authorities said. Raw video posted on the Internet on Tuesday evening showed students chanting “Let us in, let us in” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be free.” Students were angry because only a handful were allowed into the meeting, and when their request to move the meeting to a larger venue was denied, they began to enter the room, said David Steinman, an environmental advocate who is running for Congress as a Green Party candidate. Two officers were apparently backed up against a wall, and began using force to keep the students out of the room. Steinman said both officers used pepper spray. “People were gasping and choking,” Steinman said. Marioly Gomez, 21, said she was standing in a hallway outside the meeting with several hundred other students who wanted to get into the meeting. “I got pepper-sprayed without warning,” she said. Santa Monica College spokesman Bruce Smith said he believed it was the first time pepper spray had been used to subdue students on campus. “It was the judgment of police that the crowd was getting out of

hand and it was a safety issue,” he said. Trustee David Finkel called on campus officials to look into Tuesday evening’s events. “I think it gave the college a black eye which I know it didn’t deserve and certainly didn’t need,” he said. Video of a similar incident at UC Davis in November, in which an officer doused a row of student protesters with pepper spray as they sat passively, drew worldwide attention. It became a rallying point for the Occupy movement. Firefighters were called to the campus at about 7:20 pm. Five people were evaluated at the scene and two were taken to a hospital, Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. Judah Mitchell said. Their conditions were not known, but the injuries were not believed to be serious, Mitchell said. Students have been upset over a new plan that involves the formation of a nonprofit foundation which would offer core courses for about $600 each, or about $200 per unit - about four times the current price. The program is designed to cope with rising student demand as state funds dwindle. The move has raised questions about whether it would create two tiers of students in a system designed to make education accessible to everyone and whether it’s even legal under state education law. — AP

Woman, 80, lands plane after husband dies MILWAUKEE: An 80-year-old woman with little flying experience knew her husband had died after he fell unconscious at the controls of a small plane, yet she remained calm as she landed the aircraft at a northeastern Wisconsin airport, her son said Tuesday. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, James Collins said he’s also a pilot and he helped his mother Helen Collins via radio as the Cessna twin-engine plane began running out of gas Monday evening. Another pilot also took to the skies to guide her to the ground at Cherryland Airport, near Sturgeon Bay - about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Milwaukee. He said his mother took lessons to take off and land about 30 years ago at her husband’s urging, in case something happened to him, but never got her license. She has flown hundreds of hours by his side. “At one point she didn’t even want the wingman to go up,” he said. “She said, ‘Don’t you guys think I could do this on my own? Don’t you have confidence in me?’ She was calmer than everybody on the ground. She had it totally under control.” They were coming back from their second home in Marco Island, Florida, for Easter, Collins said. His 81-year-old father, John Collins, had a heart attack about seven minutes from landing at Cherryland Airport and had called her to the cockpit before he became unconscious, Collins said. She had called police dispatchers, and that’s when everyone came together to help her down. The pilot who helped was Robert Vuksanovic, who lived just a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the airport, said Keith Kasbohm, director of Cherryland Airport. After getting the call from Kasbohm,

Vuksanovic jumped in another plane owned by the Collins family and flew up to meet the Cessna while instructing the novice on the radio. “He felt it would be easier,” Kasbohm said. “With him alongside of her, he could control her speed and altitude” before she attempted a landing. Collins said his mother knew her husband had died after she unsuccessfully tried to get him back into his seatbelt, which he unbuckled before he collapsed. He said one engine had completely run out of gas and the other had to be close to running out because it was sputtering. He said the nose-wheel collapsed upon landing and she skidded down the runway about 1,000 feet (305 meters). But she worked the rudders to keep the plane straight, he said. “The amazing thing is she landed that plane on one engine,” she said. “I don’t know if there are a lot of trained pilots that could do that.” At a news conference Tuesday, Vuksanovic said he also experienced Helen Collins’ confidence, WLUKTV reported. “She wanted to know if I was confident in her confidence,” he said. “I said if you’re confident then I’m confident, I think we can do this.” Collins said his mother was hospitalized on Tuesday with an injury to her vertebrae and a cracked ribbed but was doing well. He said he stayed calm and focused because he had to help her. “I already knew I lost my dad, I didn’t want to lose my mom,” he said. “It could have been both of them at once.” He described his mother’s actions as unbelievable, answering their questions about air speed or the flaps. “You think she had done it all her life.” “Everybody is proud of her,” he said. “I think she is a local hero for sure.” — AP

ARLINGTON: The tornado hurtled toward the nursing home. Physical therapist Patti Gilroy said she saw the swirling mass barrelling down through the back door, after she herded patients into the hallway in the order trained: walkers, wheelchairs, then beds. “It wasn’t like a freight train like everybody says it is,” said Gilroy, who rounded up dozens to safety at Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre. “It sounded like a bomb hit. And we hit the floor, and everybody was praying. It was shocking.” The National Weather Service said as many as a dozen twisters touched down in a wrecking-ball swath of violent weather that stretched across Dallas and Fort Worth. The destructive reminder of a young tornado season Tuesday left thousands without power and hundreds of homes pummelled or worse. As the sun rose yesterday over the southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas, it was clear that twisters had bounced in and out of neighbourhoods, destroying homes at random. Vehicles were tossed like toys, coming to rest in living rooms and bedrooms. At one house, a tornado had seemingly dipped into the building like an immersion blender, spinning directly down through an upstairs bedroom and wreaking havoc in the family room below before lifting straight back up and away. A grandfather clock leaned slightly but otherwise stood pristine against a wall at the back of the downstairs room that was filled with smashed furniture and fallen support beams. Despite the intensity of the slow-moving storms, only a handful of people were hurt, a couple of them seriously, and no fatalities were reported as of late Tuesday. The Red Cross estimated that 650 homes were damaged. Around 150 Lancaster residents stayed in a shelter Tuesday night. “I guess ‘shock’ is probably a good word,” Lancaster Mayor Marcus Knight said. The exact number of tornadoes won’t be known until surveyors have fanned across North Texas, looking for clues among the debris that blanketed yards and rooftops peeled off slats. Knight said city officials and weather experts were surveying the stricken areas yesterday. April is typically the worst month in a tornado season that stretches from March to June, but Tuesday’s outburst suggests that “we’re on pace to be above normal,” said National Weather Service meteorol-

KENNEDAL: Residents survey damages caused by a tornado, on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. (Inset) A tornado touches down in Lancaster, Texas south of Dallas. — AP

ogist Matt Bishop. An entire wing at the Green Oaks nursing home in Arlington crumbled. Stunning video from Dallas showed bigrig trailers tossed into the air and spiralling like footballs. At the Cedar Valley Christian Centre church in Lancaster, Pastor Glenn Young said he cowered in a windowless room with 30 children from a daycare program, some of them newborns. Ten people in Lancaster were injured, two of them severely, said Lancaster police officer Paul Beck. Three people were injured in Arlington, including two Green Oaks residents taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Arlington Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self said. Gilroy said the blast of wind through Green Oaks lasted about 10 seconds. She described one of her co-workers being nearly “sucked out” while trying to get a patient out of the room at the moment the facility was hit. Joy Johnston was also there, visiting her 79-year-old sister. “Of course the windows were flying out, and my sister is paralyzed, so I had to get someone to help me get her in a wheelchair to get her out of the room,” she said. In one industrial section of Dallas, rows of empty tractor-trailers crumpled like soda cans littered a parking lot. “The officers were

watching the tornadoes form and drop,” Kennedale police Chief Tommy Williams said. “It was pretty active for a while.” Most of Dallas was spared the full wrath of the storm. Yet in Lancaster, television helicopters panned over exposed homes without roofs and flattened buildings. Residents could be seen walking down the street with fire-fighters and peering into homes, looking at the damage after the storm passed. Hundreds of flights into and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field were canceled or diverted elsewhere Tuesday. About 500 flights remained grounded yesterday, airport officials said. The storms knocked out power for thousands. Utility Oncor said nearly 14,000 homes and businesses, mainly in the Arlington area, still had no electricity early yesterday. Meteorologists said the storms were the result of a slow-moving storm system centred over northern New Mexico. — AP

Mexico in disarray ahead of election MEXICO CITY: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has left behind his image as an angry leftist for what he’s calling his “Republic of Love” campaign in a second try for the Mexican presidency. The left’s candidate for the July 1 election has adopted the slogan “Abrazos, No Balazos,” or “Hugs, Not Bullets,” putting forth a warmer persona, a more business-friendly platform and an anti-crime program that relies largely on increased jobs and education programs. But while Mexicans appear ready to boot out the ruling centre-right National Action Party, or PAN, it’s not Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party they are turning to for change. Instead, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governed Mexico for 71 uninterrupted years before the PAN nabbed the presidency in 2000, suddenly looks new, with a fresh-faced candidate and a strong lead in the polls. And it’s Lopez Obrador, and Mexico’s left, that look old. Mexicans voted for change 12 years ago when they tossed out the long-ruling PRI, which had been accused of electoral fraud, repression and economic mismanagement, and chose PAN candidate Vicente Fox, a rancher and former Guanajuato state governor. The conservative party barely retained the presidency in 2006 when its candidate Felipe Calderon won a narrow victory that Lopez Obrador insisted was his. His enraged supporters blocked Mexico City’s center for weeks to demand a vote-by-vote recount. But Lopez Obrador’s move to a gentler centre this time around may not have been enough for a Mexico that has seen nearly 50,000 people killed in drug violence since the last presidential contest. He has changed his tune from the 2006 campaign, when the slogan was, “For the good of all, the poor first.” Lopez Obrador now courts the middle class and independent businessmen who say Mexico needs a break from

the big monopolistic corporations that came to dominate the country under the PRI and the PAN. “The only ones who have grown are the 20 families involved in monopoly enterprises,” said cement importer Ricardo Alessio Robles, “while we, the 6 million independent businessmen, are paying them overly high prices and not growing as much as we could.” It’s the kind of strategy that could have put Lopez Obrador over the top in 2006, but now seems tardy. “It may be late, because if he had done it six years ago, without doubt he would have won,” said Manuel Camacho Solis, a former Mexico City mayor who was among Lopez Obrador’s campaign coordinators in 2006 and now leads an informal coalition of leftist parties. Camacho Solis said that for Lopez Obrador it had been “a hard decision, given his personality and political history ... but he realized he had to move to the centre, because the left alone was not sufficient to win power.” Six years ago, Lopez Obrador was known for his confrontational stance, and for the supporters who paralyzed downtown Mexico City to protest Calderon’s victory. Lopez Obrador now spends a lot of time apologizing for that. He’s also made some moves uncharacteristic of Mexico’s old left, meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden and attending a Mass by visiting Pope Benedict XVI in March, along with the other leading candidates. Lopez Obrador is now courting businessmen, a group his party would have scorned in the past. But although there was no question he was one of the top two candidates in 2006, this time he’s running third in the polls behind even the ruling party. Certainly, appearances play a role: Lopez Obrador is 59, while front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI is 45 with movie-star looks. —AP

NY’s Freedom Tower reaches 100 floors NEW YORK: The skyscraper being built on the site of New York City’s September 11, 2001 terrorist attack has reached 100 floors, the project’s owners announced Tuesday. The building is most commonly known as the “Freedom Tower” but officially called “One World Trade Centre.” “Steel installation for One World Trade Centre has reached the 100th floor, with four more floors to go before it reaches the top of the tower,” the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement. The Freedom Tower, scheduled to be opened in 2013, is being built to a height of 1,776 feet (541 meters), which is a symbolic figure reminiscent of the US year of independence. The glass walls have been built to the 70th floor while the concrete floors are poured to the 87th floor, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on its website. The building is planned to be the tallest in the United States when it is completed. The skyscraper is being built alongside the 9/11 Memorial, where the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers stood until terrorists slammed airliners into them, killing nearly 3,000 people. — AFP


i n t e r n at i o n a l

India govt, army deny ‘coup fears’ statement India inducts new Russian-made nuclear submarine

RAWALPINDI: Hafiz Saeed (right), the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, adjusts his glasses as he talks to media representatives while Maulana Samiul Haq (left), chief of the Defence Council of Pakistan and dubbed father of the Taleban, looks on during a news conference yesterday. - AFP

Pakistani militant leader thumbs nose at US bounty RAWALPINDI: One of Pakistan’s most notorious extremists mocked the United States during a defiant media conference close to the country’s military headquarters yesterday, a day after the US slapped a $10 million bounty on him. “I am here, I am visible. America should give that reward money to me,” said Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, referring to the fact that the bounty was given to a man whose whereabouts are not a mystery. “I will be in Lahore tomorrow. America can contact me whenever it wants to.” Analysts have said that Pakistan is unlikely to arrest Saeed, founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, because of his alleged links with the country’s intelligence agency and the political danger of doing Washington’s bidding in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant. Saeed, 61, has been accused of orchestrating the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six American citizens. But he operates openly in Pakistan, giving public speeches and appearing on TV talk shows. He has used his high-profile status in recent months to lead a protest movement against US drone strikes and the resumption of NATO supplies for troops in Afghanistan sent through Pakistan. The supplies were suspended in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Hours before Saeed spoke, US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides met Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in the nearby capital, Islamabad, for talks about rebuilding the two nation’s relationship. In a brief statement, Nides did not mention the bounty offer but reaffirmed America’s commitment to “work through” the challenges bedevilling the ties. The US said Tuesday it issued the bounty for information leading to Saeed’s arrest and conviction in response to his increasingly “brazen” appearances. It also offered up to $2 million for Lashkar-e-Taiba’s deputy leader, Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, who is Saeed’s brother-in-law. The rewards marked a shift in the long

standing US calculation that going after the leadership of an organization used as a proxy by the Pakistani military would cause too much friction with the Pakistani government. The US may be hoping the bounty will force Pakistan to curb Saeed’s activities, even if it isn’t willing to arrest him. But the press conference he called in the garrison town of Rawalpindi just outside Islamabad was an early sign it may not have much impact. He also gave multiple interviews Tuesday in which he denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and said the US was just trying to prevent him from telling the nation that the government should not allow NATO supplies to resume. The bounty offers could complicate US efforts to get the supply line reopened. Pakistan’s parliament is currently debating a revised framework for ties with the US that Washington hopes will get supplies moving again. But the bounties could be seen by lawmakers and the country’s powerful army as a provocation and an attempt to gain favor with India. The announcement of the rewards also could signal a greater willingness to take a hard line with Pakistan following a year in which the relationship between the two countries severely deteriorated. That process started last January when a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistanis he said were trying to rob him. It continued with the covert unilateral US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden last May and the deadly US airstrikes against Pakistani troops in November. Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in the 1980s allegedly with ISI support to pressure Pakistan’s archenemy India. The two countries have fought three major wars since they were carved out of the British empire in 1947, two of them over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan banned the group in 2002 under US pressure, but it operates with relative freedom under the name of its social welfare wing Jamaat-ud-Dawwa - even doing charity work using government money. —AP

NEW DELHI: India’s government and the army furiously denied yesterday an “alarmist” front-page newspaper report detailing how troop movements towards the capital in January had spooked the cabinet. The Indian Express claimed the unnotified nocturnal deployments had sparked concern about a possible coup at a time when relations between the head of the 1.13-million-strong army and the government are strained. It said the government had taken measures as a precaution on the night of January 16-17, including asking lookouts to identify the troops involved and ordering police to take measures to slow traffic on the highways into the capital. “These are alarmist reports and should not be taken at face value,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said outside parliament, adding that no one should work to lower the “dignity and respect” of the army chief position. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, speaking at the launch of a nuclear-powered submarine in south India, told reporters the suggestion the government had been worried was “absolutely baseless”. “They (the army) will not do anything against Indian democracy. They are true patriots,” he declared. The deployments-by a column of mechanised infantry travelling in armoured personnel carriers and a separate column of paratroopers-were “usual, natural activities”, he said. Indian Army spokesman Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya told AFP that the story in the respected broadsheet was “baseless and incorrect”. “Certain troops’ movements which have been reported were part of routine training as per standard operating procedures,” he said. The Express cleared its front-page for the story under a dramatic three-line headline stating: “The January night Raisina Hill (the political establishment) was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt.” Quoting several unnamed sources, it said that the defence minister and the prime minister were informed and the troops were ordered to halt. They were then sent back to their bases in states neighbouring the capital area. The army explained afterwards that the deployments were to test the capabilities of the infantry to operate in fog and for the paratroopers to link up with their planes. While these reasons were initially “viewed with scepticism”, the Express reported, the defence ministry had since come to the conclusion it was “a false alarm caused by some non-adherence to standard operating procedures.” The incident was important because it underlined the distrust between the army and the government, the paper stressed in the story which was jointly written by its high-profile editor Shekhar Gupta. “The relationship between the army and political leadership of the country is at an all-time low,” the spokesman for the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ravishankar Prasad, told reporters. “The equilibrium between the civilian leadership and the army must be restored and respected.” India’s army chief V.K. Singh has had a public falling out with his civilian bosses sparked by his bid to stay in office for an extra year. In January, the same day as the manoeuvres detailed in the Express, he took his case to the Supreme Court, asking unsuccessfully for his birth date as registered in army records to be changed. The general, a widely respected veteran who faces mandatory retirement this May at the age of 62, had claimed his birth

date had been wrongly recorded. Since this dispute, he has embarrassed Antony by detailing how he was offered a $2.8 million bribe in 2010 to fix a supply contract, a complaint which was not followed up by the government. And last week, a letter he wrote to the prime minister complaining how India’s tank fleet lacks ammunition, its air defences are “97 percent obsolete” and its elite forces need essential weapons was leaked to the media. Uday Bhaskar, a security analyst and former head of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, told AFP that India’s military was “one of the most apolitical armies in the world. I don’t give any credit to this.” The country has very little history

by Moscow on a 10-year lease-a deal greeted with alarm and anger by arch rival Pakistan. India is currently completing the development of its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered submarine and INS Chakra II is expected to help crews train for the domestic boat’s introduction into service this year. “Our crews will get the experience of operating under water for several months at a go, unlike with the conventional diesel electric submarines, which have to come to surface at regular intervals,” an unnamed navy official told the PTI news agency. The Akula II-class craft is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by India since it decommissioned its last Soviet-built vessel in 1991.

BREST HARBOR: This file picture shows the Vepr Russian nuclear submarine of the Project 971 Shchuka-B type, or Akula-class (Shark) by NATO classification, the same type as the Nerpa Russian nuclear submarine. — AFP of its disciplined army interfering in political affairs. After a 1984 army onslaught against Sikh separatists in northwestern Punjab state, some Sikh soldiers mutinied, leading the government to put in place safeguards against a coup. In another development, India returned to the elite club of countries with a nuclear-powered submarine yesterday when it inducted a new vessel leased from Russia. Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony formally commissioned the INS Chakra II at its base in Visakhapatnam, a naval shipyard on the country’s southeast coast in the state of Andhra Pradesh. India is particularly keen to strengthen its maritime capabilities, given China’s pursuit of a powerful “blue water” navy which Delhi sees as a threat to key shipping routes in the Indian Ocean and Indian energy assets in the South China Sea. “This will be a big boost for the Indian navy,” Antony told reporters after commissioning the vessel. “The INS Chakra will ensure security and sovereignty of the country,” he said in televised remarks. The 8,140-tonne submarine, capable of firing a range of torpedoes as well as nucleartipped Granat cruise missiles, was offered to India

With INS Chakra and the INS Arihant expected to start operational patrols by the end of the year, India will soon have two nuclear submarines guarding its vast maritime boundaries. India signed up for the Russian submarine, formally known as Nerpa, in 2004 and it was slated to be handed over in 2009 but testing problems delayed the delivery. The submarine was undergoing trials in the Sea of Japan in 2008 when its fire-fighting system accidentally went off, filling it with a toxic gas that killed 20 people on board. Media reports also said India had complained that the weapons navigation system did not work to New Delhi’s specifications. Russia supplies 70 percent of India’s military hardware but New Delhi has been unhappy about delays to arms orders from Moscow and has looked to other suppliers including Israel and the United States in recent years. Five other countries deploy nuclear-powered submarines-Britain, China, France, the United States and Russia. India has promised not to arm the submarine with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles under its obligations to international treaties it adopted after conducting a series of atomic tests in the 1990s. — Agencies

Afghan blast kills 10

ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides (left) shakes hands with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (right) prior to a meeting yesterday. — AFP

US diplomat eyes repairing Pak ties ISLAMABAD: A top US diplomat on a fence-mending visit said yesterday that Pakistan had to address US concerns about security, calling for a “balanced” relationship that works through the countries’ differences. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other cabinet ministers as part of a gradual process designed to reset relations that nosedived over a series of crises in 2011. US lawmakers voiced fury at the discovery last May of Osama bin Laden living in Pakistan, which had received $18 billion in aid for cooperation since the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was killed in a US special forces raid. Pakistan was then incensed when US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, shutting its Afghan border to NATO supplies and evicting US personnel from an air base reportedly used as a hub by US drones. “We believe that we can achieve a balanced approach in a relationship that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and interests but also represents our concerns about our national security,” said Nides. “Too much is at stake for us to turn away from each other, so we must work through all of these challenges,” he added. Pakistan’s parliament is debating recommendations designed to reset the relation-

ship with the United States, which include an end to drone strikes on Islamist militants seen as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. “We have different perspectives. And we will where we have those, seek to find solutions that respect each others’ interests. I believe we will come out of this with a relationship that benefits both our nations,” Nides said. Gilani said relations “must be based on mutual respect and mutual interest”. He said that “new rules of engagement” between Pakistan, the United States, NATO and its US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan “must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan”. “We can achieve our objective, peace and stability in region, and Afghan reconciliation through greater cooperation and on the basis of mutual trust,” Gilani was quoted as saying in a statement from his office. No reference was made to the United States on Monday slapping a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group blamed for the Mumbai attacks who lives openly in Pakistan. Western officials are keen for Islamabad to commit to reopening NATO supply lines before a summit in Chicago next month, but in an election year in Pakistan, few expect the parliamentary review to reach a quick conclusion.— AFP

KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a park yesterday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO service members, officials said, the latest in a string of attacks as spring fighting season gets under way. Afghan and NATO security forces have frequently been targeted in the surge of violence as militants fight to assert their power and undermine US efforts to try to build up the Afghan military and leave combat responsibility to local forces by the end of 2014. The bomber was riding a motorcycle when he detonated his explosives at the gate of the park in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province, police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmad Zai said. It was not clear what was targeted, but he said four of those killed were police officers. Associated Press video footage of the scene of the attack showed what appear to be dead Afghan civilians, police and foreign troops at the explosion site. Body parts were strewn around the gate and on the ground and blood was spattered everywhere. Faryab is relatively calm, but it is considered to be a stronghold of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group that has been most active in the northern provinces of Afghanistan. On March 26, a joint Afghan and coalition force killed the group’s leader in Afghanistan Makhdum Nusrat and detained two other insurgents. The coalition said Nusrat had been leading attacks against Afghan and coalition troops in the north for the past eight months and had been plotting the assassination of a member of parliament in Kabul. The IMU was formed in 1991, originally aiming to set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. Later it expanded its goal to seeking an Islamic state across Central Asia. Militants also have stepped up their attacks against international and Afghan troops nationwide in recent weeks. Nine Afghan policemen were killed and 11 abducted across the nation in the past three days. Fighting in Afghanistan usually wanes during the winter months as Taleban fighters take a break because of winter weather, only to surge in the spring. Heavy snow covers many of the mountain passes used by the Taleban and other insurgent fighters to cross mainly into eastern Afghanistan from safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan. Anger against foreign forces also has risen following a series of missteps, including the inadvertent burning of copies of the Muslim holy book and other religious materials in February and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians allegedly by a rogue US soldier. Foreign troops also have found themselves increasingly targeted. There were conflicting accounts on the number of dead in yesterday’s attack, ranging from at least six to at least 10.

Zai said four of those killed were police officers and six were civilians, including two women and two children. The director of Maimanah hospital, Abdul Ali Aleen, said six who died and 26 who were wounded in the suicide bombing were brought to his hospital. Abdul Satar Barez, the deputy governor of Faryab, said the suicide attack occurred just before noon. He said it took place at a park and that foreign troops were involved. NATO said three of its service members were killed in a bombing yesterday in northern Afghanistan. It provided no other details about the attack or the nationalities of the three and did not confirm a link to the Maimanah attack. It was the only attack in the north yesterday. So far this year, 97 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including at least 52 Americans. Germany and Norway, who have troops in the region, said that none of their soldiers were involved. Germany commands alliance operations in the region. Abdul Satar Barez, deputy governor of Faryab, said the attack occurred about 10:30 am near a park in downtown Maimanah.— AP

COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan vendor displays clay pots yesterday, ahead of the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Most households usher in the New Year on April 13 and 14 by boiling milk in a brand new clay pot at an astrologically auspicious time. — AFP

Indian couple arrested for abusing child maid NEW DELHI: Indian police arrested a doctor couple yesterday accused abuse of under-age domestic servants. Police say the affluent couple, both medical doctors with thriving practices, locked the child in their flat in New Delhi last month with little food when they went to Thailand on vacation. Police deputy commissioner A.K. Ojha said police arrested the couple acting on a “tip-off” after they went into hiding following their return at the end of March. The girl was rescued by fire fighters after four days when neighbours spotted her crying on the balcony of the apartment in an upmarket block in the east of the capital in a case that has made headlines since last weekend. The girl accused her employers, Sanjay and Sumita Verma, of beating her and pulling out her hair. The couple had also allegedly installed closed circuit cameras inside the house to keep a watch on her. “I was regularly beaten up by the couple and their 11-year-old daughter. They would hit me with a ruler and pull my hair,” she said in a statement to India’s Child Welfare Committee. “I would get only two chappatis (flat bread) a day.” In 2006, India passed legislation banning employment of children under 14 in households, roadside eateries and hotels, but the law is widely flouted in the country of 1.2 billion people. Police have filed a case against the couple, accusing them of violating the Child Labour Prohibition act. A lawyer for the couple has denied the allegations of mistreatment and said the child had locked the door from the inside. Social welfare activists say children are widely employed by India’s middle classes, who often claim they are doing good by giving jobs to destitute children. The child, from the poverty-stricken eastern state of Jharkhand, had been given by an uncle to a servant agency which placed her with the couple. India’s Child Welfare Committee said the girl had told them she had done all the laundry and cleaning for the family and received no pay. —AFP



Malaysian group plans big protest on election reform Opposition seeks to build on gains in 2008 election KUALA LUMPUR: An influential Malaysian electoral reform group said yesterday it would hold countrywide protests this month, raising the risk of fresh political unrest as the country prepares for a fiercely contested election. The last protest by the Bersih (Clean) group in July was a watershed moment for Prime Minister Najib Razak, prompting him to promise reform of an electoral system that the opposition says favours the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. The coalition, which has held power since Malaysia became independent in 1957, is expected to win the election. But Najib could lose his job if the opposition builds on gains in 2008 that deprived the coalition of its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time. Bersih leaders announced the plan for an April 28 nationwide “sit-in” to denounce parliament’s approval of reform proposals this week that they


in brief

N Korea defector jailed over poison plot SEOUL: A South Korean court yesterday jailed a North Korean defector for four years over a plot to kill an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist with a poison-tipped weapon. The man, identified only as An, was allegedly ordered by North Korea to assassinate fellow defector Park Sang-Hak, who along with other activists floats leaflets fiercely critical of the North’s regime across the border. An was in possession of a poison-tipped needle and other weapons when he was arrested in September. He was found guilty of violating South Korea’s tough security law, a court in Seoul said. An had sought to meet Park at a subway station in Seoul, but Park, alerted by South Korea’s anti-espionage agency, did not show up. North Korean spies have been known to enter the South pretending to be defectors. All new arrivals undergo screening to weed out North Korean agents. Yonhap news agency said An was recruited by a North Korean agent overseas while working for the South’s intelligence agency. The North has a history of trying to silence critics in the South. In 1997, Lee Han-Young, a nephew of Sung Hye-Rim-the deceased first wife of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-Il-was shot dead outside his apartment in South Korea. Lee, who had lived in the South for 15 years, was murdered after breaking his long silence about Kim’s private life. Indonesian district offers cash for vasectomies JAKARTA: A district in Indonesia is handing out cash to civil servants who volunteer for vasectomies-but the initiative has upset women who fear their sterilised husbands will be more likely to have affairs. Mukomuko district on Sumatra island is offering one million rupiah ($109) to any of its 2,000 male employees who undergo the operation, in a bid to control population growth in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. District head Ichwan Yunus told AFP yesterday that so far nine men had volunteered since the program was launched last week. “We hope this cash incentive will motivate more to join,” he added. “This is part of an effort to reduce poverty. With a small family people will be able to live much better,” Yunus said, adding that annual population growth in the district of 170,000 was a steep 1.9 percent per year. Indonesia has a population of 240 million, which has been growing at an average 1.49 percent per year for the past decade, according to the country’s central statistics agency. Yunus said that wives-worried that their sterilised husbands would more readily engage in extra-marital affairs as they would not have to worry about contraception-were one of the challenges of the vasectomy scheme. “In many cases there is opposition from wives, who are worried that husbands won’t have to think twice about engaging in love affairs,” Yunus said. “We are carrying out a media campaign to encourage more volunteers,” he said. “We may double or triple the cash if it doesn’t attract many participants”. Aussie yacht reaches California after ‘monster wave’ SAN FRANCISCO: An Australian racing yacht stricken by a 100-foot (30-meter) wave plodded into San Francisco Bay for repairs on Tuesday, two days after the US Coast Guard rescued two injured crew members. The 11 remaining crew members of the Geraldton Western Australia arrived in the port of Oakland, the mid-point of a round-the-globe sailing contest, after 30 days in the North Pacific, much of it in harsh weather. Some gave vivid accounts of their brush with maritime catastrophe. “I was down below, when the last monster wave hit us,” crew member Ian Geraghty recalled. “Water was just pouring down and everyone was in a complete state of shock.” The Geraldton is one of 10 clipper-style vessels that set sail on July 31, 2011, from Southampton, England, on a 40,000-mile (64,000 km) voyage due to conclude back in Britain in July. The race already has taken the competing boats to ports in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China. Nearly a month after leaving Qingdao, China, the Geraldton ran into trouble about 400 miles off California on Saturday, when the impact of a monster wave severed the yacht’s primary steering control and destroyed communications equipment.

said fell well short of guaranteeing fair elections. Bersih welcomed some of the proposals, but said they did not go far enough in addressing electoral fraud or in guaranteeing that the reforms will be enacted before the election. Najib must call the election by April 2013, but it is widely expected to take place earlier, possibly in June. “The issue of fraud is continuing. It must be stopped,” said Bersih co-chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan, one of more than 1,000 demonstrators arrested in the July protest. Protest ends in violence Last July’s rally, more than 10,000-strong, ended in violence when police fired tear gas at protesters, drawing criticism of a heavy-handed government response. Najib announced a month later that a bipartisan committee would be created in parlia-

ment to propose electoral reforms that the opposition says favours the ruling coalition, dominated by ethnic Malays. Malays, who benefit from affirmative action policies, make up about 60 percent of the population. Minority ethnic Chinese tend to vote for the diverse three-party opposition. The committee, which had a majority of BN members, issued 22 proposals on Tuesday, including steps to ensure a clean-up of electoral rolls and equal access to media for all parties. The government has not yet commented on the proposals. The prime minister’s 2008 electoral setback was blamned in part on slow progress on reform and he has since reached out to the middle class as a champion of change. Najib is riding high in opinion polls, though it is unclear whether that will translate into votes for his United Malays National Organisation, the main

ASEAN to intensify efforts on China South Sea dispute China agrees to formulate ‘code of conduct’ PHNOM PENH: The Philippines claimed progress yesterday in persuading Southeast Asian leaders to present a united front to China in a festering maritime dispute, but the region remains divided over how to tackle its biggest security challenge. The 10member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is under growing pressure to resolve the dispute following a series of naval clashes over the energy-rich maritime region claimed by China. But progress has been slowed by the group’s principle of consensus decisionmaking and by the heavy economic influence that China has over some countries, including this year’s ASEAN chair host, Cambodia. China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have conflicting claims over the Spratly Islands, an area believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas. It is also a rich fishing ground. The stakes have risen sharply over the past year as the United States has refocused military attention on Asia and strengthened its strategic alliance with the Philippines. A statement by ASEAN following a two-day leaders’ summit in Phnom Penh barely mentioned the South China Sea dispute, saying only that the leaders had reaffirmed a commitment to implementing a declaration signed in the same city 10 years ago. China has agreed to work with ASEAN on formulating a binding “code of conduct” on naval activities, but the region is divided over whether Beijing should take part in talks from the beginning or only join after ASEAN agrees on the fundamentals.

PHNOM PENH: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (right) and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are seated for a meeting of ASEAN leaders. — AP Philippine President Benigno Aquino had requested that the group agree to “ASEAN centrality” by setting out the code before entering into negotiations with China. It was unclear whether he had been successful. Aquino’s political affairs adviser issued a statement in Manila saying there

was a consensus among ASEAN states to support Manila’s “multilateral” recommendations. “It’s a welcome development,” the statement said. But a Philippine diplomat involved in the negotiations told Reuters that the Philippines was frustrated by Indonesia’s rejection of any conflict resolu-

tion mechanism in the code. The diplomat added that other countries, including Cambodia, were either lukewarm to the proposal or had ignored it altogether. A series of naval flashpoints over the past year, as China, the Philippines, and Vietnam push ahead with plans to develop oil and gas fields, has highlighted the inadequacy of the ASEAN approach. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said ASEAN would formulate a code of conduct but with “constant communication through the ASEAN-China framework”. “The big picture is the one that must not be lost,” he told reporters. “Namely that in contrast to the recent past, now we have a situation where all are basically rushing and competing to get the Code of Conduct off the ground.” Cambodia’s tenure as chair of ASEAN this year adds to doubts that the group will be able to formalise the code of conduct, which the Philippines and Vietnam are keen to achieve this year. Slow progress on agreeing to the rules highlights a divide within the group as China makes its rising economic and diplomatic clout felt in mainland countries such as Cambodia and Laos. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Cambodia days before the ASEAN summit, raising suspicions that Beijing was seeking to influence talks on the South China Sea. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen denied China had asked for any assistance on the dispute, calling it a “serious misunderstanding”. “Cambodia is not goods to be bought by anyone,” he said at a closing news conference. — Reuters

Myanmar’s Karen rebels restart cease-fire talks BANGKOK: Cease-fire talks reopened yesterday between the government and leaders of the country’s most enduring ethnic rebel movement, highlighting another major task for Myanmar as it opens up and enacts political reforms. The military-backed but elected government of President Thein Sein is seeking cease-fires with ethnic rebel groups as part of the political reforms started last year after decades of repression under military rule. A statement from the Karen National Union said its general secretary Zipporah Sein led the group’s delegation yesterday from their headquarters on the Thai border for a second round of talks to run until April 11. Initial talks were held in January. It said the latest talks would be held in PaAn near the Thai border, and subsequently in Yangon and Bago in central Myanmar. The KNU talks are the first to be held since the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi won 43 seats in by-elections on Sunday, giving it a voice in parliament for the first time, though as a vastly outnumbered opposition. Her movement is loosely allied with most of the ethnic minority groups, who, like her party, also faced repression under the previous military regime. Preliminary cease-fire pacts have been

reached in recent months between the government and groups representing the Mon, Shan, Chin, Wa and Kokang minorities. Most of the groups, however, insist that a political settlement giving them more autonomy is necessary to ensure lasting peace. One group, the Kachin in northern Myanmar, in actively engaged in sporadic though bitter fighting with the government. “The purpose of these meetings is to engage all levels of society in the process of achieving peace in a nation that has been in armed conflict for several decades,” said the KNU statement. “The KNU believes that lasting peace should be achieved through the combined effort of all people who are directly and indirectly affected by the coming political change.” The KNU has been fighting for greater autonomy from Myanmar’s central government since the country obtained independence from Britain in 1948. A Myanmar government offensive in the mid-1990s wiped out most of the KNU’s strongholds and crippled its fighting ability. The KNU statement said the talks would focus on details of a cease-fire between the KNU and the government, the gradual extension of a cease-fire to cover the entire country, civilian safety, trust-building and safeguarding human rights. — AP

First US Marines arrive in Australia SYDNEY: The first batch of an expected 2,500 US Marines to be deployed in Australia began work yesterday as Washington bolsters its presence in a strategically vital region, to the irritation of China. Some 200 Marines touched down in tropical Darwin overnight as part of an enhanced defence cooperation outlined during a visit by US President Barack

group within the BN coalition. Bersih and opposition parties say they have unearthed instances of irregularities in voter rolls, including over 50 voters registered at one address, registrations of deceased voters and multiple registrations of the same individual. Bersih’s demands include lengthening the campaign period to at least 21 days from the current seven days from the date parliament is dissolvedthe committee recommended a 10-day campaign. Berish also wants an independent audit of the electoral roll and international observers at polling stations. The demonstration will be a peaceful sit-in at Kuala Lumpur’s Dataran Merdeka square, where independence from Britain was declared, Bersih said. Similar events are planned across the country, including in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak. — Reuters

Obama in November that rankled Beijing. The troops are in the Northern Territory on a six-month rotational basis and will be based at Robertson Barracks on the outskirts of the city, building to some 2,500 by 2016-17. In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Northern Territory Chief

DARWIN: In this photo, US Marine Corps, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment arrives at the Royal Australian Air Force Base. — AP

Minister Paul Henderson welcomed what they said was the latest chapter in a more than 60-year alliance with the US. “It represents an evolution of existing exercises and activities that the United States already conducts with the Australian Defence Force in Australia,” they said. “The intent in the coming years is to establish a rotational presence of up to a 2,500 personnel Marine Air Ground Task Force, rotating into Northern Australia in the northern dry season. “There are no (permanent) US military bases in Australia, and this will not change,” they added. The US military currently has only a limited deployment in long-standing ally Australia, including the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility spy station near Alice Springs. The latest move represents a significant geo-strategic shift by Washington and it has irked Beijing, whose rapid rise is reorienting Asia’s balance. China has said the Marines deployment is proof of a “Cold War mentality”. Wang Jisi, the influential dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, writes in a candid new study that a mistrustful China is convinced that the United States is bent on holding back its rise.—AFP

SAN PABLO CITY: Jonika Pinon, a volunteer of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), pets a pit bull, one of more than 200 rescued from South Korean nationals over the weekend. — AP

Pit bulls in Philippine dog fights euthanized MANILA: Sixteen pit bulls rescued from a dogfighting ring in the Philippines were euthanized Tuesday for lack of facilities to rehabilitate them and prevent them from reappearing in underground arenas. Roughly 300 dogs were rescued in separate raids late Friday in Laguna province south of Manlia, said Anna Cabrera of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society. Seventeen with the worst injuries were put down over the weekend, and the health of the living dogs and the progress of rehabilitating them will determine how many of them ultimately survive. Police arrested eight South Koreans suspected of running an illegal online gambling operation in which players outside the Philippines bet on dogs fighting at a clandestine compound. Some of the dogs rescued Friday were saved from another facility in Cavite province in December, Cabrera said. She said the dogs were “recycled” - adopted by people who resold them to the suspects to continue fighting. “That is a fate worse than death,” she said. “We don’t want that to happen for a second time, and in light of security issues, we have opted to put the pit bulls humanely to sleep if no one steps forward with a plan to rehabilitate and shelter them,” she said. Two of the suspects arrested last week had been caught in the December raid but

had posted bail, police Chief Inspector Renante Galang said. Welfare society veterinarian Wilford Almora said many of the pit bulls - purebred and mixed breeds - suffered ripped ears and tongues and other wounds in previous fights. He said his group had enough drugs to euthanize 70 dogs and sixteen were put down Tuesday. He said they selected the most sick, emaciated and aggressive animals to put down first. Some of the dogs were too weak to stand, he said. He said they were taking time to carefully assess each dog before finally deciding which ones to put to down. “We are not in a hurry. We just want to make sure that the ones we put to sleep are the ones that deserve to be put to sleep based on their medical condition,” he said. Cabrera said it was not possible to care for all the pit bulls that were rescued and it would be irresponsible to give away for adoption the animals that have not properly healed. The dogs had been kept in metal fuel drums and tied to heavy steel chains inside a 2-hectare (5-acre) coffee plantation surrounded by a fence made of corrugated tin in San Pablo city in Laguna. Police recovered 30 dogs from an arena in the nearby town of Calauan where they were about to fight, Almora said. The eight suspects face charges of illegal gambling and cruelty to animals.—AP



Maid’s suicide rattles Lebanon’s conscience

Rabbit foundling Ruediger sleeps on the hand of keeper Kristina at the zoo in Muenster, western Germany yesterday. Ruediger, weighing 72 gm, and his sister Kaline (60 gm) were found in a dung pile at the zoo and are brought up now by keepers. — AFP

Taboo-breaking Saudi films spurring debate Continued from Page 1

Many Jeddah residents blamed the disaster on the government’s failure to erect proper flood defences. Countless Saudis have seen the mobile phone footage of the morality police accosting a family out shopping. King Abdullah later sacked the head of the religious organisation dedicated to enforcing its vision of Islamic behaviour. On Twitter, an anonymous writer using the pseudonym “Mujtahidd” has amassed a huge following with a series of detailed posts about the alleged misdeeds of members of the extensive royal family. The writer accused one senior royal of bullying a judge into helping him perpetrate property fraud by forging documents, and denounced another for stock market manipulation. “I believe that exposing corruption on its real scale is a very effective way of convincing people to move against it,” Mujtahidd said in an email to Reuters. The tweets have gained such notoriety that the Grand Mufti, without referring to Mujtahidd directly, launched his own attack on Twitter last month, saying the social network “promotes lies” and includes “attacks against religious and society figures”. While politically engaged Saudis are by turns thrilled and scandalised by the uncontrollable nature of online

debate, the establishment has shown it is worried. A law introduced last year made blogs and other social media subject to some of the same restrictions as conventional media. “I enjoy reading Mujtahidd’s tweets, but it’s dangerous because he’s attacking these very prominent people without any sort of evidence and hurting public confidence in the state,” said one prominent Saudi. The example of Hamza Kashgari, a young blogger who may face trial after being extradited from Malaysia for allegedly blasphemous posts about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is a stark warning of what can happen when online comments outrage public opinion or upset the authorities. Some Saudis believe the greater public scrutiny that social media allows is making a mark as more senior officials and royal family members take note and join online discussions. Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, the half-brother of King Abdullah, and Information Minister Abdulaziz Khoja are among the most senior Saudi personalities to join Twitter. “Definitely the government is paying attention and monitoring... The number of subscribers on Twitter in Saudi is among the highest in the region so it is being looked at with some seriousness,” said Hussein Shobokshi, a Saudi analyst. “It will be one of the things that we will see growing to have more and more influence,” he added. — Reuters

Laureate accuses Israel of plotting to... Continued from Page 1 Nahshon, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli embassy in Berlin, in a statement. “It used to be Christian children whose blood the Jews used to make matza (unleavened bread), today it is the Iranian people that the Jewish state purportedly wants to wipe out.” Nahshon said Israel was “the only state in the world whose right to exist is publicly doubted”. “We want to live in peace with our neighbours in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role that Gunter Grass assigns us in the German people’s process of coming to terms with its history.” The Israel director of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Efraim Zuroff, accused Grass of making himself the spokesman “for anti-Semitic Germans sick of the Holocaust and seeking to rid themselves of any responsibility for its aftermath”. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle released a statement without mentioning Grass by name in which he warned against “making light of the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program”. “Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is not only a threat to Israel and the entire region but also a danger for the world’s security architecture,” he said, underlining Germany’s efforts to prevent Iran from having nuclear arms. Grass, author of the renowned anti-war novel “The Tin Drum”, shocked his admirers in 2006 when he admitted, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS - a revelation that severely undermined his until then substantial moral authority in Germany. Grass said he long kept silent on Israel’s own nuclear program because his country committed “crimes that are without comparison”, but he has come to see that silence as a “burdensome lie and a coercion” whose disregard carries a punishment - “the verdict ‘anti-Semitism’ is commonly used”. Henryk M Broder, a prominent German Jewish columnist, accused Grass in light of his poem of having become “the prototype of the educated anti-Semite”. “Grass has always had a problem with Jews but he has never articulated it as clearly as with this ‘poem’,” Broder wrote in the daily Die Welt. The country’s most influential media commentators were unanimous in their criticism, saying Grass had offered up a one-sided portrayal of Israel as the aggressor and Iran as a victim of a mortal threat. “Never before in the history of the republic has a prominent intellectual waged a battle against Israel in such a cliched way,” wrote the website of news weekly Der Spiegel. Only Wolfgang Gehrcke of the far-left Die Linke party defended Grass in public, saying he had the “courage” to express “what is widely kept silent”. Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, has said it is keeping all options open for responding to Iran’s program which it says is aimed at securing atomic weapons, posing an existential threat to the Jewish state. Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frequently questions Israel’s right to exist, has consistently denied that its sensitive nuclear work is aimed at making weapons. Separately, Israel’s government yesterday published tenders for 1,121 new settler homes as it faced settler anger over its decision to evict Israeli families from a disputed home in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Documents published on the Israeli housing ministry website showed the government had issued tenders for 872 new homes in Har Homa, a contentious settlement neighbourhood in the southern part of Arab east Jerusalem. Another 180 are to be built in Givat Zeev, just to the north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, while the remaining 69 are to be built in Katzrin in the occupied Golan Heights, the documents showed.

Contacted by AFP, a ministry spokesman dismissed the tenders as “nothing new,” but settlement activists said it was the first time the offers had been made public. “Yesterday there were no tenders for Har Homa C, today there are tenders for Har Homa C,” said Daniel Seidemann, director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli NGO which tracks developments in east Jerusalem. “If the ministry is suggesting they are not new tenders, they are living in a parallel universe,” he said, saying most of the tenders there were for construction in Har Homa C, a new part of the settlement neighbourhood. “This is not a planning stage. This is implementation. The contractors who have won the tenders will be selected after 60 days and then work can begin.” Lior Amihai, who works with the settlement watch unit at Peace Now, said the construction in east Jerusalem would significantly expand Har Homa. “It’s a real expansion of the settlement,” he told AFP. “It severs Bethlehem from east Jerusalem and it will be very harmful.” Seidemann and Amihai said the tenders were part of 2,000 new settler homes 1,650 of them in east Jerusalem - that Israel announced as a punitive measure after the Palestinians won membership at the UN cultural organisation, UNESCO. The tenders were published as Israeli forces evicted a group of settlers from a home in the flashpoint Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank, nearly a week after they moved into the property. The settlers said they had purchased the second-floor apartment legally from its Palestinian owner, but the military said they had failed to obtain the required approval for the purchase and had ordered them out by Tuesday afternoon. The settlers ignored the deadline and reports suggested a deal had been agreed delaying the eviction, but it went ahead largely without incident yesterday afternoon. Hebron’s settler community, which numbers around 600 people in a city with 190,000 Palestinian residents, reacted angrily to the eviction, with one resident accusing the government of “treating them like the enemy ”. “Netanyahu is following in Pharaoh’s footsteps. He wants to throw us out of our land,” the settler community ’s spokesman David Wilder told AFP. “We will do everything to return home.” But anti-settlement group Peace Now welcomed the eviction, with its director Yaariv Oppenheimer telling army radio he was “pleased that, at least in this case, they didn’t go along with the settlers”. Israel’s settlements have proved a key stumbling block in talks with the Palestinians, and new units were swiftly condemned by Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib. “This is an additional violation of Palestinian rights and international law and contributes the destruction of the chances of a two-state solution,” he said, calling on the international community to “hold Israel accountable.” Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since September 2010, and show no signs of resuming despite a series of “exploratory” meetings between envoys from both sides in Jordan earlier this year. In the absence of talks, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has prepared a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly laying out the parameters for resuming talks. Officials on both sides said yesterday that the letter would be delivered to Netanyahu during a meeting with Palestinian representatives including prime minister Salam Fayyad and negotiator Saeb Erakat. The meeting is expected to take place after the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins this Friday and ends on April 13, and Netanyahu is expected to respond with his own message to Abbas, officials said. — Agencies

BEIRUT: Tragic tales of domestic worker abuse in Lebanon are common, but a film showing an Ethiopian maid dragged along a street in Beirut just days before she was found hanged from her bed sheets has rattled Lebanon’s conscience. The domestic worker industry in Lebanon is vast - foreign maids account for more than five percent of the population - and the sector is plagued by archaic labour laws, inhumane practices and dire wages. Abuse has been so rampant that Ethiopia, the Philippines, Madagascar and Nepal have banned their citizens from travelling here for employment. Ethiopian mother of two Alem Dechasa, 33, did not heed her country’s warning and used a Lebanese recruitment agency to travel to the vibrant, coastal capital of Beirut. On Feb 24, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International channel released a video, filmed by an unidentified bystander, of Dechasa lying in the bushes outside the Ethiopian consulate, crying “No, no, no.” A Lebanese man in the video, later identified by the station as Ali Mahfouz, snatches her off the ground and tries to squeeze her into the car. Dechasa screams and squirms, refusing to enter. Mahfouz grabs the Ethiopian by her thick black hair. Ethiopian Consul Asaminew Debelie Bonssa said only minutes earlier he had been approached by Mahfouz, the brother of the head of the recruiting agency that brought Dechasa to Lebanon, who brought the maid to the consulate, complaining that she was mentally ill and needed to be deported. “We advised (Mahfouz) that she needs to get medical treatment,” the consul told Reuters, sitting in front of Ethiopian and Lebanese flags in his cramped office. “Many girls come here who have problems. Some of them are young and are not capable of working. Often we just find them wandering outside the consulate,” he said. Mahfouz agreed to take Dechasa for treatment and left, Bonssa said. “Nobody expected the following incident to happen,” Bonssa said of the abuse outside his second-floor window, despite admitting that beatings are regularly reported to him. “We heard a voice and then realised there was a problem with his handling of her.” Bonssa called the police, who took Mahfouz into custody and escorted the battered girl to hospital. The consul visited Dechasa in hospital. She was anxious, he said, that she could not pay a debt to the recruitment agency that brought her to Lebanon. Her husband had married another woman and she had taken out a loan to pay her debts. Four days later, doctors told the consul she had committed suicide. As Bonssa recounted the story, he looked up at the wall of his office and pointed indistinctly as if he was there in Dechasa’s hospital bedroom while she hung from the window. Dechasa’s case is by no means isolated - Human Rights Watch says, on average, one domestic worker a week in Lebanon either kills herself or falls from a high building to her death. Efforts to introduce new labour laws have failed to gain momentum. Two labour ministers have proposed measures but changes in government posts and apathy have sidelined the issue. But the Dechasa case is different. Her abuse was filmed and caused a public outcry, offering a chance to deal with the mistreatment of housemaids here. The European Union and rights groups urged the country to change its laws to tackle discrimination against migrant workers. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, said the

“cruel image” reminded her of migrant women she met in Lebanon during an October visit. “Women who had been victims of domestic servitude told me they had been under the absolute control of their employers through economic exploitation and suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse.” Cabinet called an investigation into the case after the footage of Dechasa’s mistreatment was shown on television and Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said that the Justice and Labour ministries held an emergency meeting on the issue. Telecommunications Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui tweeted that “we should all come to the defence of the poor Ethiopian girl, victim of this abuse. Actions like these dishonour our country. I am ashamed.” In Lebanon, migrant workers do not work under labour laws but are sponsored to live in the country by their employers, who apply personally for residency permits. Recruitment agencies, with offices abroad import the women, but many operate with no legal obligation towards the maids. “The problem of the sponsorship system is that it ties a worker to her employer. This creates a vulnerability for workers and a corresponding burden on employers,” said Rola Abimourched, a project Coordinator at KAFA, a Lebanese charity aimed at preventing violence against women. The sponsorship system, Abimourched says, means the domestic workers cannot change jobs unless their employer authorises their release. There is no minimum wage and maids can work long hours, 365 days a year without a break. Many domestic workers say they are locked in the house and have their passports confiscated. Workers lucky enough to get a few hours off on a Sunday can usually be seen in Beirut’s shopping district of Hamra. Dolled up in sequin-covered dresses, housemaids dance in a club called Al-Jazz between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., socialising with friends before scurrying home to cook Sunday dinner. “There is no escape route. If they try to leave their employer, they will face deportation or detention. Employers say they want to protect their investment,” Abimourched said at her small offices in Beirut. “Some workers don’t want to return because they have paid debts to come to Lebanon, so they stay in an abusive situation.” Worker abuse is not unique to Lebanon, said Abimourched, pointing to cases in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. But it stands out in a country with a robust civil society which prides itself on being one of the most liberal in the Middle East. Despite the stereotype, Ethiopian domestic worker Fifi swiftly learned that the Middle East is not always hot and dry when her employer said she would be sleeping on the balcony throughout Lebanon’s rainy winter. “There was no room so I have been sleeping there. She has my passport and I am not allowed to leave the house,” she said, adding that she had sneaked out while “the lady” was at work. There is a racist hierarchy among foreign workers here, Lebanese say - with English-speaking Filipinas at the top, costing more than $2,000 to import, and Ethiopians at the bottom. Carole Meskarm, an Ethiopian who moved to Beirut 10 years ago after meeting her Lebanese husband in Addis Ababa, is hoping the death of Dechasa will not be in vain. “I hope that the government will now take responsibility (for foreign workers) and I know that many Lebanese are goodhearted people,” said Meskarm, a rights activist who refers to Ethiopian domestic workers as “my girls”. — Reuters

Female bomber kills Somali sports chiefs Continued from Page 1 when she heard the voice of the PM. We were suspicious and shouted ‘stop’. She wanted to target the PM. “We stopped her. But the PM’s guards inside shouted ‘let her come in’ because she had a police identity card in her hand. And all of a sudden we heard the explosion.” “The blast happened as musicians were singing and spectators were clapping for them,” said Salah Jimale, who was in attendance at the theater but received only light scratches. “Huge smoke made the whole scene go dark. People screamed and soldiers suddenly started opening fire at the gate. Some wounded people escaped and ran away.” Shoes and blood-splattered mobile phones lay on the floor. A man wounded in the head and chest tried to sit up but suddenly collapsed and died as a reporter looked on. After the blast, nervous soldiers outside the theater fired into the air to disperse shocked crowds gathered around the theater. An old woman in tears ran toward a policeman after yesterday’s blast, saying: “My son was in there.” The policeman stopped her. She sat down and cried, but later ran into the theater, where she learned her son had died. At the hospital, ambulance brought in the wounded, including a parliamentarian. Nurses led stumbling patients into surgical rooms. The Chinese-built theatre was re-opened last month by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the prime minister for the first time in 20 years. The president of football’s world governing body, Sepp Blatter, expressed shock at the death of the two Somali sports chiefs. “I knew both men personally and can only say good things about their endless efforts to promote sport and football in their country. They will be sorely missed,” the FIFA president said. The pair had last week inspected the reconstruction of the national stadium in Mogadishu, a city which had slowly been coming back to life since Somali and African Union forces secured

most of it late last year. Somalia’s deputy sports minister had said people were eager to “benefit from the peaceful atmosphere” in Mogadishu and his minister had praised all those who had been killed or wounded in recent years while promoting Somali sports. The stadium was previously used by the Shabab rebels as a training centre, turning the pitch into a firing range to test homemade armour piercing bullets. But last year, Western-backed AU troops seized the stadium and used it as a forward base for assaults on rebel holdouts before turning it over to the government for restoration as a sports venue. Despite the lull in street fighting, Mogadishu has been plagued by a series of suicide and grenade attacks since the Shebab rebels abandoned fixed bases in August and reverted to guerrilla tactics. A suicide bomber last month killed at least five people in an attack at the heavily guarded presidential palace. In regions under their control, the extremist militia have banned football, watching movies, Western music and dressing, with offenders often flogged or publicly executed. AU force deputy commander Audace Nduwumunsi described the bombing as a “despicable crime against the Somali people” and UN special envoy Augustine Mahiga also expressed outrage. “The reopening of the National Theatre is symbolic of the real change that is happening in Somalia: the city is being rebuilt, culture is being revived and hope is being restored,” he said in a statement. Britain, which has recently sought to lead international efforts to end the crisis in Somalia, also reacted. “I unreservedly condemn today’s barbaric attack. This will only serve to strengthen our resolve to help the Somali people bring lasting peace and stability,” Britain’s ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh said. Somalia has lacked an effective central government, allowing armed groups, pirates and extremists rebels to thrive and establish control in vast regions. — Agencies

Panel questions senior official over transfers Continued from Page 1 through the Central Bank, Kuwait Investment Authority and the foreign ministry. The scandal was one of the major issues that forced the former prime minister to resign late October, later leading to the dissolution of the Assembly and snap elections that led to a resounding victory for the opposition. In a related development over the former prime minister, MP Nabeel Al-Fadl yesterday called on the information ministry and the state security to take action against Islamist thinker Abdullah Al-Nafisi over controversial statements he made Tuesday night at a rally. Fadl said that Nafisi claimed that Sheikh Nasser was imposed on Kuwait during the past few years because Iran feels comfortable with him and as a result of the strong Iranian influence. The lawmaker said Nafisi’s statement constitutes an insult to the former prime minister and undermines the authority of the Amir. Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the Amir, was appointed prime minister in Feb 2006 and he quit last November. Fadl also criticized Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, saying he has appointed his wife as one of his secretaries in the Assembly and that she never goes to office. He also

called on Tabtabaei to withdraw from all Assembly committees because his action represents a breach of the law and public funds. Tabtabaei acknowledged that his wife is deputized to work in his office in the Assembly responsible for contacts with female voters and that she comes to the office every day. Meanwhile, the coordination panel of the majority bloc in the Assembly will meet today to set a date for a meeting next week for the bloc consisting of 35 MPs to discuss grillings, MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said. Harbash added that the bloc is waiting for the return of a parliamentary delegation to hold its meeting to discuss two grillings by MPs Tabtabaei and Mohammad Hayef against the interior and awqaf ministers respectively. Harbash quashed reports that the majority bloc was facing internal problems and could face divisions in the near future. MP Mohammad Al-Juwaihel meanwhile asked the interior minister about the number of those granted Kuwaiti citizenship since 1990 for “great services” rendered to Kuwait. He also demanded a definition of what the term means. Juwaihel had threatened to grill the interior minister over a variety of issues, mainly naturalization and dual citizenship issues and has sent several questions over the two issues.





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Coelho rides high despite austerity By Axel Bugge ne could almost forget that Portugal is in the midst of a wrenching economic crisis looking at Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s popularity, a struggling opposition and foreign investors returning to the country. The country is finally starting to see some benefits from tough austerity under a Ä78-billion ($103 billion) EU/IMF bailout, winning high marks for its economic reform drive and drawing investments that suggest light at the end of the tunnel. Lisbon managed to sell new 18month Treasury bills at an auction on Wednesday in a successful test of market appetite for the longest-dated debt issued since it was forced out of the bond market in March 2011. A year since the previous centre-left Socialist government was forced to seek a bailout, Passos Coelho’s success in implementing the tough austerity plan without strong opposition has defied political gravity. Centre-right parties won a snap election in June after Socialist Jose Socrates’ government collapsed, unable to enact policy as it lacked a parliamentary majority. It fell to Passos Coelho to launch the deep spending cuts and tax hikes required by the bailout, which has sent Portugal into its deepest recession since the 1970s and pushed the jobless total to record levels. Yet his centre-right Social Democrats remain almost as popular as when they were elected last June. At the same time, trade unions have failed to mount a strong challenge to austerity, garnering only slim support for a general strike last month. The opposition Socialists, who negotiated the bailout agreement before last year’s election, are tied to its terms and have made little impact under new leader Jose Seguro. The party has suffered growing divisions over labour market and regional council reforms required under the rescue. Passos Coelho’s success in maintaining broad support for painful reforms - including chipping away at cherished workers’ rights through labour legislation - may have marked a political transition in Portugal. “In terms of our political culture that depends so much on the state, what is going on is politically quite remarkable,” said Miguel Monjardino, professor of grand strategy at Lisbon’s Catholic University. “Passos Coelho is the first Portuguese prime minister in a very, very long time who has told the country the truth.” The straight-talking premier drove home in his campaign last year that hard times were ahead and has peppered his public statements since then with phrases like “national emergency”. The European Union has been impressed. Brussels has promised that Greece’s private sector debt restructuring and second bailout were oneoffs that will not be repeated by any other euro zone member. So Portugal, the second-most risky country in the 17-nation currency area, is a test case. “The fiscal adjustment in 2011-2012 is remarkable by any standards,” the European Commission said on Tuesday in a report on the third quarterly review of Portugal’s performance under the bailout. Investors have also taken note, perhaps believing that Portugal’s economic cycle is bottoming out. In the past week there have been two takeover bids for Portuguese companies, which followed a successful sale of the state’s stakes in two large power companies mostly to Chinese investors earlier. Last Thursday, the two main shareholders in Portugal’s highway operator Brisa launched a takeover bid for the rest of the company and on Friday Brazil’s Camargo Correa announced a bid for cement maker Cimpor. Yesterday, Portugal sold Ä1 billion of an 18-month Treasury bill at 4.537 percent, well below the level of almost 6 percent just before it withdrew from the bond market. Demand was healthy for both 6-month and 18month bills. Elisabeth Afseth, fixed income analyst at Investec Capital Markets in London, said the bond auction was positive “but it’s still very early to tell if Portugal will be able to return to bond markets in September next year.” The EU’s top economic official, Olli Rehn, hinted that such a return might be only partial or require assistance, telling Finland’s MTV3: “It would be wise to be prepared that some kind of bridge needs to be built when Portugal returns to the markets”. This is all serving to bolster Passos Coelho’s standing, not least because the Socialists have become increasingly fragile as they struggle to find their own political voice. “As much as the Socialists protest (at austerity), the response will always be ‘how did we get here?’” said political analyst Viriato Soromenho Marques. — Reuters


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Syria peace plan seen buying Assad time By Oliver Holmes resident Bashar Al-Assad’s acceptance of a plan that puts the onus on rebels as well as the Syrian army to end more than a year of bloodshed may buy him time and, at least temporarily, reduce world pressure against him. Syria has pledged to withdraw all military units from towns by April 10 to pave the way for a ceasefire, brokered by UNArab League envoy Kofi Annan, with armed rebels two days later. But by calling on the insurgents to stop fighting too, the deal provides a get-out clause for Assad. If attacks on his forces continue, the president will be able to claim his troops have been forced to respond to an armed insurgency. “The peace plan ... suits the regime perfectly,” said Rime Allaf, an associate fellow and Syria expert at London’s Chatham House think-tank. “Kofi Annan gave the regime a chance to shift the blame. (Assad) now doesn’t have to worry about pressure and has bought time,” said Allaf, describing the plan as a reworked version of a failed Arab League initiative but places more responsibility on the disparate rebels to stop shooting. In November Assad accepted the League plan which called for him to withdraw forces from urban centres. But he has since sent the army into town after town to crush armed and unarmed opponents. Syrian dissidents and Western governments doubt that the Syrian leader really intends to implement Annan’s proposals. Washington’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice, president of the 15-nation Security Council this month, said on Monday some council members had expressed “scepticism about the bona fides of the government in this regard”. Chris Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the University of London, said Assad was “highly unlikely” to implement the plan. “It rests on both sides. The armed opposition are


unlikely to disarm and the regime can continue to be violent while also saying they are making efforts,” he said. “Syria has clearly decided to tackle the uprising using a military solution. There has not been enough pressure to change that.” Since the outbreak of the uprising against Assad in March 2011, Syria has blamed the unrest on foreign-backed terrorists determined to use violence to destabilise the government. While Assad may have won breathing space, Annan’s proposals did win crucial backing from Russia which endorsed the April 10 deadline and said Assad’s government should take the first step towards a ceasefire. If Annan reports to the UN Security Council that Syria has failed to comply with the deadline and urges it to pass a resolution to pressure Damascus implement his plan, it would be difficult for Russia to ignore such a request. Syrian opposition figures have made it clear they are not convinced that Assad would keep his word, citing the army’s continued bombardment of proopposition areas this week. Damascus-based opposition activist Mortadha Al-Rashid said the deal would have no impact. “What is happening outside Syria has nothing to do with what is happening inside Syria,” he said. “Where are Kofi Annan’s words? Because we have never seen them on the streets.” Assad has already crushed opposition bastions across Syria and seen the Arab League drop calls for him to go, a softening of tone echoed in Annan’s plan. He can also take comfort from disunity among his opponents, whose exiled leaders often seem at odds with grass-roots activists inside Syria. The Syrian National Council has yet to win full Arab and Western recognition, partly because of concerns about Muslim Brotherhood influence in the exile group. Randa Slim, from the Middle East Institute in Washington, says Annan’s plan has “reversed the political dynamic in

Syria” by dropping the previous Arab League stipulation for Assad to delegate powers to his vice president. “There is a narrative now in Syria that the international community does not want Assad to go,” she said. “This keeps Syrians on the fence because they are no longer sure if Assad will go,” she said, referring to those who have not openly joined the revolution out of uncertainty or fear. Slim said the chances of Syrian forces leaving towns were close to nil. “Once Assad starts drawing back troops, millions will start demonstrating and Assad can’t afford to see this.” Instead, she said, Assad will exploit loopholes in the vaguely written plan and argue over its wording. “We are in for a period of protracted negotiation about what the deal means.” Meanwhile, she predicted, Assad will pursue his offensive on outgunned rebels who have resorted to hit-and-run attacks, rarely holding ground against the army as they tried to do in the central city of Homs before being pushed out in early March. Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, saw no sign yet that the military balance was tipping against Assad. “When you are dealing with armour and artillery, light weapons really aren’t enough,” he said. “There could be a sufficiently high rate of defection, but we haven’t seen this shift. If the Assad administration concentrates force, it can defeat (the rebels).” In the long term, Cordesman said that Assad’s military moves would serve to alienate more of his citizens. Shelling cities, he said, could only succeed on a case-by-case basis and would always leave a population of infuriated civilians behind. Most analysts agreed that Assad’s acceptance of Annan’s peace plan could only buy him a limited amount of time. “In the short term, the stalemate is definitely to his advantage,” said Phillips. “But can it be sustained in the long term?”— Reuters

Obama incumbency vs Romney hurdles By Steve Peoples eality smacked Mitt Romney in the face twice in a 24-hour span. President Barack Obama used the power of the presidency to ring the general election’s opening bell, declaring this week in no uncertain terms that he and his mammoth organization are ready to take on Romney whether the presumptive GOP nominee is ready or not. And despite what he may say, Romney is not. The former Massachusetts governor, who won three more primaries Tuesday and is on track to claim his party’s presidential nomination in June if not before, is facing a challenge of historic proportions. Just one Republican - Ronald Reagan - has defeated a Democratic incumbent president in the last centur y. And Romney faces an incumbent with five times more staff, 10 times more money, and the world’s greatest bully pulpit. Using that platform Tuesday, the president criticized Romney by name, telling news executives at the annual meeting of The Associated Press that his likely general election opponent suppor ted a “radical” Republican budget plan he characterized as “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” He accused Republican leaders of becoming so extreme that even Reagan, one of the party’s most cherished heroes, would not win a GOP primary today. The president’s critique came just one day after his campaign launched a TV ad in six general election battleground states that suggested that Romney stood with “Big Oil.” And it all comes amid


a Democratic effort to paint Romney as part of a Republican Party that Obama’s party is casting as too conservative for the country. Romney hit back after he won primaries in Wisconsin, Washington, DC, and Maryland, telling cheering supporters in Milwaukee that the president has become “a little out of touch” after “years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you that you’re great and you’re doing a great job.” Added Romney, “You know, out-oftouch liberals like Barack Obama say they want a strong economy, but in everything they do, they show they don’t like business very much.” With that, the contours of the general election were set - and the attack lines unveiled. Each candidate cast the other as too extreme for the center of the country - speaking directly to the independents who play a critical role in general elections because they determine who wins close races. The number of independent voters in America has swelled. That means they are a top target for both candidates in what Republican and Democratic operatives alike anticipate will be a close election for reasons that include the country’s increasingly polarized nature. As the incumbent, Obama has a built-in advantage and a huge head start. He has spent months wooing the center of the electorate even as he worked to fire up his Democratic base. Romney has a ton of ground to make up. And, even though he’s been

eager to shift his campaign to focus on fundraising, building and advertising for the general election, he doesn’t have the luxury of doing that in earnest just yet. His stubborn Republican opponents, inspired by anti-Romney skepticism from the right flank of the party, aren’t letting him. And that means Romney will continue - for a while at least - to be at least marginally distracted by an intra-party contest whose outcome has never really been in question. Tuesday night’s victories did little to persuade his overmatched Republican rivals to quit the race. “The clock starts tonight,” chief Republican rival Rick Santorum told suppor ters gathered in his home state of Pennsylvania, which hosts a GOP primary April 24. “After winning this state, the field looks a little different in May.” He predicted his comeback sometime that month, a claim that is both frustrating and somewhat laughable for a growing number of Republicans across the country mindful of the real challenge Obama represents. Ron Paul, too, is pledging to stay in the race, and Newt Gingrich on Tuesday issued a statement insisting he was “committed to carrying the banner of bold conservative colors all the way to Tampa”. It was a reference to the party’s national nominating convention in Florida this summer, where Romney would accept the nomination should he secure the 1,144 delegates needed to win. Despite the GOP primary distraction, Romney is trying hard to look ahead - no matter how daunting the view. At the end of February, the president’s re-election campaign reported $84.7 million in the bank compared with Romney’s $7.3 million - all money raised for the primary. Obama has more than 530 paid staff compared with roughly 100 for Romney. And Obama already has staff distributed in almost every state in the nation, while Romney’s team is concentrated in Boston and a handful of primary states. In recent days, Romney’s team has tried to start preparing to tackle the challenges. Aides visited Washington to recruit staffers in hopes of hiring them as soon as the campaign has enough general election money.

The campaign recently alerted donors to prepare to raise general election dollars. Mindful of the need to keep at least one eye on the primary fight, Romney sent a message to Republicans set to vote April 24 in a series of contests: He hasn’t forgotten them. “Tonight, I’m asking the good people of Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to join me. Join me in the next step toward that destination of Nov. 6, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept,” he said. “The dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can get dusted off and be put in the front yard, and we can star t again.” Romney cannot fully start again, however, for a little while longer. —AP


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Indonesian boxer dies after brain surgery

Gomez extends Bayern contract

JAKARTA: An Indonesian professional boxer died in hospital yesterday after undergoing brain surgery following a title fight last week. Muhammad Afrizal died at the Christian University (UKI) Hospital in eastern Jakarta, said Anton Sihombing, chairman of the Indonesian Boxing Commission. “This is a tragedy in our boxing history,” said Sihombing, who attended the title bout on Friday, which was broadcast live on a local TV station. “We have to do our best to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.” He said Afrizal, a former Pan Asia Boxing Association featherweight champion, was rushed to a nearby hospital when he vomited one hour after a junior-lightweight bout. The 30-year-old Afrizal was knocked down once during the 12-round bout against countryman Irvan Marbun, who won in a unanimous decision. Sihombing said there was no indication that Afrizal had suffered a serious injury as he left the ring. Afrizal is the 28th Indonesian boxer to have died in the country’s boxing history since 1948. The last fatality was in 2007. —AP

MUNICH: Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez has extended his contract by three years to 2016 the day after his club booked a place in the Champions League semi-finals, the forward said yesterday. The 26-year-old, who was Bundesliga top scorer last season and jointly leads this season’s charts with 23 goals, has been in fine form, also netting 11 times in the Champions League. “I have always said Bayern are a great club, I feel well here and I see the best sporting prospects,” Gomez said in a statement. Bayern, chasing a treble of domestic and European trophies, beat Olympique Marseille 2-0 in their Champions League quarter-final second leg on Tuesday to win 4-0 on aggregate. Gomez became the most expensive transfer in Bundesliga history when he joined Bayern in 2009 for what is still a record sum of 35 million euros ($46.69 million). After a quiet first season, Gomez has firmly established himself as the number one striker at Bayern and has also won a regular starting spot for Germany. —Reuters

Vonn will not need surgery NEW YORK: Lindsey Vonn, winner of the women’s alpine skiing overall World Cup title, will not require surgery on her sore knees, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association said on Tuesday. After another long, grueling campaign that ended in March with Vonn claiming a fourth overall crown, the American all-rounder had doctors examine her tender knees. Tests revealed some wear on the meniscus of Vonn’s left joint but nothing that would require surgery, US ski team spokesman Doug Haney said. Vonn will now rest her knees after a productive but draining season that saw her add the super-G, downhill and super-combined crystal globes that go to discipline champions to her haul. The 27-year-old started the season announcing her divorce from husband and coach Thomas Vonn and ended it with a women’s record point total of 1,980, just 20 points shy of Austrian great Hermann Maier’s mark of 2,000 points. — Reuters

Rangers top NHL East PHIL ADELPHIA: The New York R angers clinched the top seed in the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in 18 years by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on Tuesday. Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov scored as part of a four-goal first period that set up a win which gave the Rangers their best chance to win the Stanley Cup since their last title in 1994. New York, which leads the overall NHL standings with 109 points, is assured of home-ice advantage until at least the Stanley Cup finals. The Rangers victory also secured their first season sweep of the Flyers in 40 years, winning all six games this season. R yan M cDonagh and Brian Boyle also scored to help the Rangers storm to a 4-0 lead. Marian Gaborik added his 41st goal. Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Scott Hartnell had goals for the Flyers. Penguins 5, Bruins 3 In Boston, Pittsburgh extended its lead in the race for fourth place in the East by beating Boston. Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist while James Neal scored the goahead goal on a power play for the Penguins, who lead Philadelphia by three points. Paul Martin and Aaron Asham also scored for Pittsburgh. Benoit Pouliot, Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley scored for the Bruins, who had already clinched the Northeast Division title.

Mike Delany in action in this file photo

Reds return home for Super 15 crunch clash WELLINGTON: The Queensland Reds face Australian conference-leaders the ACT Brumbies in their first home match in a month in rugby’s Super 15, desperate to end a three-match losing streak and breathe life into their ailing title defense. The injur y-depleted Reds lost all three matches on their recent road trip to South Africa and Perth and their most-recent losses, by 61-8 to the Bulls and 45-19 to the Western Force, have damaged their bid to retain the championship. A further loss Friday would place the 2012 title almost beyond Queensland’s reach. In a compounding factor, the Otago Highlanders and the Stormers clash in Dunedin in a match on Saturday which will reveal the strength of their claims to the Reds’ crown. The Cape Town-based Stormers will be aiming to extend their unbeaten record through five matches this season while the Highlanders will attempt to post their sixth win from seven matches, building on last week’s impressive 43-12 win over the Melbourne Rebels. The Stormers are coming off a gritty 20-17 win over the Bulls which may have left them physically depleted as they embark on an immensely difficult tour involving matches against the Highlanders, the Canterbury Crusaders, the Reds and the Force. But the Reds vs. Brumbies clash will set the tone for a weekend of pivotal matches within conferences and in terms of overall standings. The Brisbane match brings together the two top teams in an Australian conference mainly notable this season for under-performance. Though the Brumbies lead the Australian standings with a 3-2 record after last week’s narrow home loss to the Durban-based Sharks, they are in sixth place overall in the championship table. The Reds are ninth, the New South Wales Waratahs 10th, the improving Force 11th and the Rebels are in last place, though with the same number of points as the Auck land Blues and Johannesburg-based Lions. Not only is the Reds’ title defense flagging but the wider performance of the Australian teams has become a concern. The Brumbies are the only team to have beaten the Highlanders this season but their form has been mixed with narrow wins over the Force and Cheetahs and losses to the Waikato Chiefs and Sharks. A win over the Reds would put them well clear of their Australian conference rivals and would leave Queensland’s campaign almost irreparably damaged. Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, lauded for his performance in taking Queensland from the bottom of the table to the top

in the space of a season, remains confident his team can turn around its current form slump. “It’s disappointing and complicated and all those things but it’s also a challenge and we’ve got a simple chance to show character and we’ll take this opportunity to demonstrate character,” he said. “The wheel will turn. There’s too much pride for it not to come together. We’ll fight our way out of it.” The Stormers faced the toughest test of their unbeaten record when they held out the Bulls’ comeback in last week’s physical South African derby. They now face a test of their ability to win abroad. The Stormers share the second-best defensive record in the Super 15 but coach Allister Coetzee said the development of their attacking game this season had pleased him most. “Having a great defense is not necessarily a way to win the competition,” Coetzee said. “I thought that we were really good on attack (against the Bulls). “We had the most tackle-breaks and most line-breaks in the game. Maybe we weren’t outstanding because we didn’t finish those opportunities. But just creating them against a quality Bulls side shows that we are at the right place.” The Highlanders produced their best attacking performance of the season in last week ’s seven-tr y win over the Rebels and have the chance with a win on Saturday to take first place from the Stormers. Otago is expected to confirm the signing of Japan-based All Blacks flyhalf Mike Delany as an injury replacement after the loss of current All Black Colin Slade with a broken leg and Lima Sopoaga with a broken collarbone. The seventh round of the season also contains a compelling contest at Pretoria between the Bulls and the Crusaders who collectively have won 10 Super rugby titles. Both teams have 3-2 records, are fifth and sixth respectively in the standings and are near a pivot point in their seasons. Canterbury ground out a narrow win last week over the Lions after an equally close home win over the Cheetahs. Asked if the Crusaders could expect to beat the Bulls with a continuation of such moderate form, captain Kieran Read said “no, to put it bluntly. I don’t think so.” “We know that and we have got a lot more in us,” he said. “We are confident we can turn it around and really up our performance.” The seventh round, elongated over the Easter weekend holiday, begins Thursday with a match in Melbourne between stragglers the Rebels and the Blues. In other matches, the Wellington Hurricanes play the Sharks and the Force host Waikato. — AP

Canucks 5, Ducks 4 In Vancouver, the hosts moved equal top of the NHL standings with the Rangers by beating Anaheim in a penalty shootout. Max Lapierre’s shootout goal gave the West-leading Canucks their seventh straight win, moving them three points ahead of St. Louis and tied with New York with two games remaining in the regular season. Alex Burrows had two goals in regulation, and Lapierre and Chris Higgins also scored as the Canucks rallied from two goals down in the second period. Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry, Rod Pelley and Devante Smith-Pelly scored for the Ducks. Sharks 5, Stars 2 In Dallas, San Jose recorded a vital win that moved it three points ahead of Dallas in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot. Logan Couture’s power-play goal put the Sharks in front late in the second after teammate T.J. Galiardi had netted the tying goal earlier in the period. Daniel Winnik, Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe also scored for San Jose. Brenden Morrow and Alex Goligoski had goals for Dallas. Predators 2, Wild 1 In Nashville, the hosts moved back into four th place in the West by beating Minnesota in a shootout. The Predators, who have two games left, reached 100 points for the second time in three seasons and moved back into fourth, one point over idle Detroit and two over Chicago. Alexander Radulov scored the lone goal in the shootout, while Gabriel Borque netted in regulation. Dany Heatley had the sole goal for Minnesota. Devils 3, Islanders 1 In Newark, New Jersey inched closer to nailing down at least the No. 6 seed in the East with a victory over New York. Travis Zajac broke a tie early in the second period with a power-play goal, Patrik Elias added a goal and an assist, and I lya Kovalchuk scored into an empty net in the final minute to help the Devils win their third straight. Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders, who have lost three straight. The win came at a price for the Devils, who lost center Jacob

VANCOUVER: Canucks center Maxim Lapierre (40) makes the game-winning goal past Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (1) during a shootout of an NHL hockey game. — AP

NHL results/standings Buffalo 6, Toronto 5 (OT); New Jersey 3, NY Islanders 1; NY Rangers 5, Philadelphia 3; Carolina 2, Ottawa 1; Winnipeg 5, Florida 4 (OT); Pittsburgh 5, Boston 3; Nashville 2, Minnesota 1 (SO); San Jose 5, Dallas 2; Vancouver 5, Anaheim 4 (SO); Phoenix 2, Columbus 0. Western Conference Eastern Conference Central Division Atlantic Division St Louis 48 21 10 204 156 106 W L OTL GF GA PTS Nashville 46 26 8 229 209 100 NY Rangers 51 22 7 223 178 109 Detroit 47 27 5 242 196 99 49 25 6 273 217 104 Pittsburgh Chicago 44 26 10 244 234 98 Philadelphia 46 25 9 260 227 101 Columbus 27 46 7 190 257 61 New Jersey 46 28 6 222 206 98 NY Islanders 33 36 11 195 244 77 Northwest Division Vancouver 50 21 9 244 195 109 Northeast Division Colorado 41 33 6 205 209 88 Calgary 35 29 16 194 222 86 Boston 47 29 4 262 198 98 Minnesota 34 35 11 174 221 79 Ottawa 41 29 10 246 233 92 Edmonton 32 39 9 210 233 73 Buffalo 39 31 10 214 224 88 Toronto 34 36 10 227 258 78 Pacific Division Montreal 29 35 15 202 221 73 Los Angeles 40 27 13 187 170 93 Phoenix 40 27 13 208 202 93 Southeast Division San Jose 41 29 10 219 203 92 Florida 37 25 18 197 222 92 Dallas 42 33 5 209 217 89 Washington 40 32 8 214 227 88 Anaheim 33 35 12 199 224 78 Winnipeg 37 34 9 218 237 83 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one Tampa Bay 37 35 7 227 270 81 point in the standings and are not included in Carolina 32 32 16 210 238 80 the loss column (L)

Josefson for 4-to-6 weeks with a broken wrist. Jets 5, Panthers 4 In Sunrise, Florida, the hosts’ hopes of clinching the Southeast Division title were frustrated by Winnipeg. Andrew Ladd scored twice, including the overtime winner, while Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane also scored for the Jets. Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg and Marco Sturm had goals for the Panthers, who led 3-0, missed a chance to clinch the division and secure their first playoff berth since 2000. Florida needs only one point in its final two games to clinch the division. Hurricanes 2, Senators 1 In O ttawa, Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu scored in the second period to give Carolina victory over Ottawa. Cam Ward made 38 saves for the Hurricanes but his shutout bid was foiled when Jason Spezza scored with 13 seconds left. The loss means the playoff-bound Senators can finish no higher than seventh in the East. Ottawa still needs one point in its final two games to clinch seventh and set up a firstround playoff meeting with Boston.

Sabres 6, Maple Leafs 5 In Buffalo, Derek Roy scored a power-play goal in overtime to cap a frantic comeback that lifted Buffalo over Toronto and kept the Sabres’ playoff hopes alive. Alexander Sulzer had two goals and an assist, and Jordan Leopold forced overtime by scoring late in regulation for the Sabres, who had trailed 3-0 in the first period. Buffalo moved level with eighth-placed Washington in the East. Both teams have two games left, though the Capitals hold the tiebreaker edge. Tyler Bozak had two goals and an assist, while Matt Frattin had a goal and assist for Toronto. Coyotes 2, Blue Jackets 0 In Glendale, Arizona, Mike Smith stopped 54 shots and earned his third straight shutout in Phoenix’s victory over Columbus. Boyd Gordon and Gilbert Brule scored 2:03 apart in the second period for the Coyotes, who are seventh in the West and lead San Jose by one point with two games remaining. Smith extended his scoreless streak to 219 minutes, 59 seconds, and posted his eighth shutout of the season and his 19th in the NHL. He tied the franchise’s single-season shutout mark set by Nikolai Khabibulin in 1998-99 and Ilya Bryzgalov in 2009-10. —AP

Pakistan upset by India snub KARACHI: Pakistan expressed disappointment yesterday after India refused to take part in a field hockey event that organisers hoped could revive sporting ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Asif Bajwa said the board was informed that the government in New Delhi had blocked the visit. “It is very disappointing that India... has refused to send their team, terming the current situation not conducive for the tour,” Bajwa told AFP. The Federation had hoped India’s partici-

pation alongside Pakistan and Malaysia at the event in the eastern city of Lahore from April 9-13 could be a first step towards reviving a bilateral hockey series, last held in 2006. India suspended all bilateral sporting ties with Pakistan after Islamist gunmen attacked Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. New Delhi blamed the attacks on Pakistani militants. Violence-hit Pakistan was then stripped of its World Cup 2011 co-hosting rights after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket

team in Lahore in March 2009. “We had made top-level security arrangements for the event and had thought that the event will give a new fillip to Indo-Pak hockey as both countries are also (participating) in London Olympics 2012, but everything is spoiled,” said Bajwa. The United States on Monday slapped a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed, who lives openly in Pakistan and who founded Lashkar-e -Taiba, the extremist group accused of masterminding the carnage in Mumbai nearly four years ago. — AFP


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Best without major? It’s a long list AUGUSTA: The list of contenders has rarely been this strong. The credentials are as impeccable as ever. Indeed, the competition is more wide open than ever at the Masters. Only it’s not just about the green jacket. It’s a label - best to have never won a major championship. And it’s a long list these days. Much of the attention is divided between Luke Donald, currently No. 1 in the world, and Lee Westwood, a former No. 1 who has finished among the top three in six of his last 14 majors, including being the runner-up at Augusta National two years ago. But the list is deeper than that. Going into this year’s Masters, six of the top 10 players in the world - and 18 of the top 25 - have yet to win a major. Phil Mickelson remembers what it was like to be tagged the “best to have never won a major.” He carried that burden - and with his talent, it was an enormous burden - for some seven years before he drained that 18foot birdie putt in 2004 to win the Masters. From that point on, he drove down Magnolia Lane with more joy than trepidation. “After winning in 2004, the pressure has not been the same,” he said. “Because there was this burden of having never won

a major. There was this burden of wanting to win the Masters so bad and being a part of the history of the tournament. When I won in 2004, it was no longer pressure I felt. It was excitement.” That might explain why he came close to winning the next three majors, why he won the PGA Championship the following season, another green jacket in 2006, and why he likes his chances of joining Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer as a four-time Masters champion. Mickelson was easy to identify on that dreaded list. Ditto for a half-dozen others before him - David Duval, Mark O’Meara, Davis Love III, Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger and Tom Kite. The missing major was more obvious because of their world ranking, money titles, close calls in the majors, number of wins, or a combination of those measures. That’s what makes this list as strong as it has been in years. Donald was asked Tuesday how he would define the best player to have not won a major, and once he settled on a definition, whom he would rate at the top of the list. “ That’s a tricky question,” he said. “Obviously, my name would be in the hat.

Lee has been around quite a bit, and he’s obviously had probably more opportunities that I have to win majors.” Who else? Sergio Garcia soon came to mind, as did Steve Stricker, who has reached No. 2 in the world and for a short time was the highestranked American. That distinction currently belongs to Hunter Mahan, who won for the second time this year at the Houston Open on Sunday. Dustin Johnson is working his way onto the list, though he won’t have a chance this week because he withdrew with a sore back. Justin Rose is forcing his way into the conversation, with four wins in the last four years, including a World Golf Championship at Doral last month. Darren Clarke could be considered the last player to remove his name from the list. He won the British Open last year at Royal St. George’s, but much like O’Meara in 1998, most thought his best years were behind him. That was a pleasant surprise. Before that was Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie in 2007, when he overcame a double bogey on the 18th hole and beat Garcia in a playoff. It looked then, as it did eight years earlier, that Garcia’s time was coming. But it hasn’t. There is no guarantee

it will. Garcia went two years without winning anywhere until back-to-back wins in Spain which brought him back into the top 50. He is No. 21 now, and he has finished among the top 12 in the last three majors. No one has more scars from major chances - twice in the final group with Tiger Woods (U.S. Open at Bethpage, British Open at Hoylake), the runner-up finish at age 19 at Medinah, in a playoff at Carnoustie in 2007, and a runner-up finish to Harrington again at Oakland Hills in the 1998 PGA Championship. But it’s all about the now, which puts Donald and Westwood at the top of the list. They are the only two players to have been No. 1 without ever winning a major. “Over the last couple of years, his performance has gotten stronger and stronger,” Nick Faldo said of Donald. “Now he’s climbed to No. 1, and he’s looking at the next rung on the ladder, which is being a major champion.” The last year should serve Donald well, not just because he has won five times in the last 14 months, but because he realized he only played truly great golf in one of those wins - the Match Play Championship a

year ago. “I’ve been able to win tournaments without playing my best golf, and I think majors are a similar deal,” Donald said. “I think a lot of people put too much pressure on yourself, and you go out there and you press a little bit too hard, and suddenly you’re a few shots back and trying to play catch up. “Know that just playing my game is good enough is a good thought to have for me.” Memories from last year won’t hurt. Donald was in the thick of contention until he pushed his 8-iron ever so slightly on the wrong hole - the par-3 12th - and it went in the water for double bogey. He rallied strong, though, chipped in for birdie on the 18th for a 69 and wound up in a tie for fourth. He knows his game will work here. Ditto for Westwood, who did little wrong with a one-shot lead going into the final round at Augusta in 2010. Trouble was, Mickelson did everything right, including that sensational shot through the trees on the 13th. “It’s quite frustrating at a time when you keep coming close,” Westwood said. It can make for a frustrating four weeks out of the year - unless, or until they win. —AP

Not so easy to cheer for Tiger anymore

MONACO: USA’s tennis players (left to right) Bob Bryan, John Isner and Mike Bryan attend a press conference, ahead of the France-USA Davis Cup quarter final. The France-USA Davis Cup will start next Friday. —AP

Stosur, Serena into Charleston last 16 CHARLESTON: Sam Stosur, Vera Zvonareva and Serena Williams all swept into the round of 16 at the Family Circle Cup with straight sets victories on Tuesday. On a day in which results went mostly according to plan at the clay-court tournament, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also made it to the third round, Venus Williams continued her comeback from illness with a firstround victory and No.10 seed Anabel Medina-Garrigues was the highest-ranked casualty. Australia’s Stosur, seeded fifth and the highest-ranked player left in the tourna-

CHARLESTON: Serena Williams of the United States celebrates during her match against Elena Vesnina of Russia during the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament.—AP

ment after Agnieszka Radwanska’s withdrawal, beat American Jamie Hampton 6-0, 7-5. No.4 Zvonareva of Russia cruised past Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1, 6-1, and Serena Williams was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Russia’s Elena Vesnina. Serena, playing this tournament for the first time since she took the title four years ago, had 11 aces in her first match on clay in more than a year. “I forgot I hadn’t played on clay in so long,” she said. “I feel like it really suits my game. I don’t have to go crazy and move my feet so much. I pretty much just go for my serve and do the best I can.” Sister Venus, who is making her way back from an autoimmune disease, had a 64, 6-3 win over Czech Iveta Benesova, setting up a second-round clash with Jelena Jankovic. “This is great for me to be in another match and to be in the second round,” she said. “It was a good start.” The elder Williams returned to the tour last week after a seven-month break, winning four matches at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne before eventually losing to Radwanska, who went on to win the title. Venus Williams, who has 43 career titles, said she takes a lot of ice baths and had three days off just to rest following Thursday’s loss. “For me it’s just about having energy at this point. I try not to worry about tomorrow,” she said. “There’s so many opportunities going forward and I try to focus on the forward and focus on every day and today’s win takes me closer.” Williams has won seven Grand Slam tournaments but is now ranked No. 87. She won the Family Circle Cup eight years ago and is unseeded this time. No. 8 seed Pavlyuchenkova ousted Eleni Daniilidou 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 while No.10 Medina-Garrigues was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova. No. 12 seed Yanina Wick mayer of Belgium defeated Vania King of the U.S. 64, 6-3 while No. 13 Nadia Petrova beat Mariana Duque -Marino 6-1, 6-2, and No.17 Marina Erakovic of New Zealand advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Karolina Pliskova.—AP

Kuwait ready to host 2nd round of ME Rally KUWAIT: Preparations are underway to host the 2012 Kuwait Rally, the second round of the Middle East Rally Championship, which kicks off next week at the Jlai’ah and Bnaidar areas south of the country. Yesterday, FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) Vice President Mohammad Ben Sulayem described the Kuwait rally in a phone call with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) as “one of the most successful rally events in the Middle East... and helped shed the light on motorsports in the Gulf region”. He also pointed out the fact that Kuwait was

the first among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to host a round of the Middle East Rally Championship in 1974. Head of the organizing committee for the Kuwait Rally, Sheikh Athbi Al-Nayef Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, applauded in a statement to KUNA Tuesday the efforts of the Kuwait Quarter Mile Motorsports Club and the Kuwait Motor Sports Club (KT) who jointly organize the competition. Twenty seven contestants, including 12 ranked racers by the FIA, have registered to take part in the 2-day event which starts April 12th, over an estimated distance of 709 kilometers.—KUNA

AUGUSTA: He could have used the 23 minutes to practice his putting, or check out the new slope on the 16th green. It might have been enough time for a quick lunch in the player’s lounge, or a friendly chat with first round playing partner Sang-Moon Bae. But there were questions to be answered, stories to be told. Tiger Woods understands this as well as anyone, so he dutifully headed to the interview room in the Masters media center to face the inevitable onslaught of queries about his game and his life. A few hours earlier, Rory McIlroy sat in the same room and talked about the final round meltdown last year that would have destroyed a lesser golfer. He was alternately serious and charming, especially so when he talked about a conversation he had with Greg Norman about losing a heartbreaker at Augusta National. “Sorry. I wasn’t born,” McIlroy said at one point, drawing laughter when asked if he and Norman discussed a near miss in the 1980s. A tough act to follow, not that Woods even tried. He had his script, and he was sticking to it. The questions were mostly friendly, the responses entirely sterile. An attempt at telling a story about his first Masters with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus had already been told many times, and seemed mostly an exercise in filling the time he was forced to stay in his chair. That, too, was surely in the script. Better to fill time than to let one question slip in about how he had managed to overcome the emotional turmoil of his past to regain his position as the favorite to win his fifth green jacket this week. His game is back, yes. That was perfectly clear two weeks ago when he wore down the field the way Woods always used to in his prime to win for the first time on the PGA Tour since a shocking sex scandal derailed his career and his life. Took a while, and it came with a new swing. But it sure looked a lot like the same old Tiger we used to know and love. He’s not so loved anymore, though you wouldn’t know it by the crowds who cheer his every shot.

Maybe they just love his game. A survey by Nielsen and E-Poll’s N-Score, which measures endorsement potential, showed only 17 percent of respondents said they like Woods, compared to 52 percent who thought Phil Mickelson was appealing. Hardly surprising, because Mickelson feels genuine when he speaks. He’s engaging when it comes

that, even if it drives up ratings for CBS. His bag used to be sponsored by major brands like Buick and AT&T. Now it carries the name of an obscure company that makes energy and vitamin supplements that dissolve under your tongue. Nike still stands behind him, but other corporations who once stood in line hoping to get his signature on

AUGUSTA: Tiger Woods after skipping his ball across the pond on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament.—AFP to fans, and he signs everything put in front of him. Woods doesn’t, and he’s got a sordid past to boot. Winning another green jacket isn’t going to change

an endorsement contract want nothing to do with him. An occasional foray into a group of fans to sign autographs notwithstanding, he still comes across as aloof and arrogant.

Two years ago, Woods sat in the same interview room, talking about his life and his comeback after months away from golf because of the scandal. He claimed he had learned his lesson, and vowed to be a more humble player. There was no such attempt at introspection on Tuesday. He deflected the only question about his comeback by saying he was happy to be playing again in his 18th Masters at a place he finds so special. His other answers were so banal that even his favorite journalists couldn’t bring themselves to write them down. Want some insight into Woods? You’re better off reading the new book from his former instructor Hank Haney than listening to Woods himself. Haney didn’t exactly deliver any bombshells, but he offered up enough to anger Woods to the point where he got into a confrontation recently with a writer who had the temerity to ask about it. That’s the Woods of old, and that may be the only Woods who can win. He’s got an insatiable desire to be in control, whether on the golf course or in delivering the message of the day to the media and what remains of his fan base. It’s not so easy anymore, but nothing is. Woods is an old 36 and if he wants to win at least five more majors to break the record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus he needs to begin winning them again now. But there’s a new generation of players who are not afraid of challenging him, and he hasn’t won a major in nearly four years. Still, when the Masters begins Thursday it will be surprising if Woods’ name isn’t on the leaderboard. He’s been playing the tournament half his life now, and knows the course so well he finished fourth the last two years despite not having confidence in his rebuilt swing. More importantly, the old swagger has returned. Being in contention won’t be good enough. “I’m here for the green jacket,” he said. Indeed, it could be a win for the ages. A fifth Masters title, and the start of a march toward the record book. Just don’t expect everyone to be cheering.—AP

Irie books Olympics spot TOKYO: Japan’s Ryosuke Irie earned his place in the London Olympics by winning the men’s 100metre backstroke at the national swimming championships in Tokyo yesterday. The 22-year-old, who won a silver medal at the Shanghai world championships last year, clocked 52.91 seconds to beat 2009 world champion Junya Koga into second in 54.14 and Yuki Shirai into third in 54.22. Koga missed the cut line by only five hundredths of a second. “I feel relieved. But I’m not satisfied with my time, because top swimmers in the world are faster,” said Irie. “I tried to set a new national mark since Kosuke (Kitajima) did it yesterday. But anyway, I feel relieved,” he added. World 200m butterfly silver medallist Takeshi Matsuda, Satomi Suzuki and Mina Matsushima also won a place at the London Games. Matsuda cut the qualifying time by clocking 1:45.96 to win the men’s 200m freestyle, beating Yuki Kobori and Sho Sotodate. “Although I qualified for the freestyle, my main focus is tomorrow’s butterfly. I’m looking forward to it,” said Matsuda. Suzuki and Matsushima made a one-two finish in the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:06.80 and 1:07.54, respectively. “It’s my dream to go to the Olympics,” said a delighted Suzuki, 21. Matsushima said: “I was anxious to watch the board, but I’m glad that I was second when I looked at it. I expect I will be more tense in the Olympics, but I’ll do my best not to be beaten by pressure.” The top two swimmers who cut the qualifying time are eligible for the Olympics.—AFP

Ryosuke Irie of Japan in action in this file photo




England openers set up solid reply

Al-Fahad (second from left) stands near Kuwaiti Ambassador Jamal AlGhanim

KSSC commemorates jets ski team KUWAIT: Members of the Kuwaiti jet ski team were commemorated during an event organized recently by the Kuwait Sea Sports Club, following their return from the United Arab Emirates where they were subjected to attack during their participation in the fourth round of the UAE Jet Ski Championship. The ceremony also featured commemoration of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his “quick response” and follow up to the assault case which was committed by a suspended contestant in the same tournament. The Consul General at the Consulate of Kuwait in Dubai, Tariq Al-Hamad, was also commemorated during the evening.

The event was attended by Ambassador of UAE in Kuwait, Hassan AlKhayal, accompanied by other UAE embassy staff, in addition to Jamal AlGhanim from Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry. Top KSSC officials in attendance included President Fahad Al-Fahad, Vice President Ahmad Al-Ghanim, Secretary Khalid AlFoudari and chairman of the marine committee, Abdulqader Al-Najjar. Following a speech by Al-Fahad in which he expressed gratitude to the authorities in the UAE and the Kuwaiti Consulate, leader of the Kuwaiti jet ski team took the podium to talk about the players’ appreciation for all efforts exerted to maintain their safety following the incident, and to follow up with legal actions against the perpetrators.

Ambassador Al-Khayal (third from left) before receiving a commemorative plaque

The attendees in a group photo with jet ski team members

Yadav happy to trade bored games for medal NEW DELHI: Vikas Krishan Yadav would baulk at the idea of paying to watch someone box like himself in the ring but the chess-playing Indian remains committed to his tried and tested “boring” technique to win an Olympic medal. The 20-year-old welterweight is one of the four Indians to qualify for this year’s London Games, where each of them will be hoping to add to the country’s lone Olympic boxing medal, Vijender Singh’s bronze at Beijing four years ago. To emulate the middleweight Singh’s success, Yadav believes he needs to persist with a style that may not please spectators but has proven effective for the 2010 Asian Games lightweight champion. “I myself don’t like to watch my bouts, it’s so boring,” Yadav told Reuters in an interview in a city hotel. “I have to analyse my game and when I watch my bouts on my computer, I ask myself ‘what is this? Is this how I box?’. I hardly throw any punches.” He would rather watch former English professional world champion “Prince” Naseem Hamed, who was renowned for his spectacular entrances and ringside antics. “Among the Indians, (flyweight) Suranjoy Singh is very aggressive and exciting to watch,” Yadav conceded

while confirming he would not be abandoning his own trademark style. “My strength is my defensive and boring game. I can bore my opponent who can get easily frustrated because at times, I’m neither scoring points, nor giving,” he said. “Somehow it works for me. It does not look great but winning is all that matters. If a defensive game does that, why should I bother?” Outside of the ring, Yadav plays chess and feels the game shares many similarities to boxing. “Both are about moves and both are mind games,” he said. “Boxing is about outsmarting your opponent. Often whoever thinks better and smarter in the ring wins the bout.” Yadav, who excelled in the junior ranks, would not be drawn into predictions over his medal prospects in London but said he was leaving nothing to chance. “This is my first Olympics, so I cannot really rate my chances of a medal but I’m fully satisfied with my training. “I’m trying new punches in the three or four tournaments I’m scheduled to compete in before the Olympics. If these come off, I’ll try them in London. “I have been trying these single counter-punches in practice. I landed some and missed some. I’m working to better those I landed and discard those I could not.” —Reuters

COLOMBO: A century opening partnership between captain Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook provided much needed relief for England on the second day of the second test against Sri Lanka yesterday. England have reached 300 only once on their disastrous winter tour during which they have lost four tests in a row. They will lose their world number ranking if they fail to square the two-test series against Sri Lanka. After dismissing Sri Lanka for 275 in their first innings, England were 154 for one at the close with Alastair Cook on 77. Strauss and Cook put on 112 for the first wicket and were not separated until the 52nd over when the England skipper attempted to cut part-time offspinner Tillakaratne Dilshan. He edged a catch to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and was out for 61 from 126 deliveries with four boundaries. The afternoon session made for tedious viewing with only 72 runs added in 32 overs but England were determined to post a useful first innings total on a slow pitch. Cook, missed at 20 by Lahiru Thirimanne at short-leg. was unbeaten on 77 scored off 227 balls with seven fours and Jonathan Trott who scored a century in the first test defeat in Galle Test was 15 not out. Earlier, off-spinner Graeme Swann took three wickets for four runs in just over six overs to clean up the Sri Lankan tail shortly before lunch. Swann finished with figures of four for 75 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a below par score after winning the toss and electing to bat. Sri Lanka, who resumed on 238 for six, added just 37 runs to their overnight total for the loss of their last four wickets against some tight bowling. Suraj Randiv (12) became Swann’s first victim of the day

when he threw away his wicket attempting to take the fight to the spinner soon after he came on, but only succeeded in holing out to a leaping Kevin Pietersen at long-on. Swann then removed Angelo Mathews for 57 when the Sri Lankan vice-captain checked an

on-drive which offered England skipper Strauss a routine catch at short mid-wicket. Tim Bresnan got in on the act when he picked up the wicket of Rangana Herath (2) as the batsman lost patience following a series of blocks and swished at a delivery from outside off stump

that caught a faint edge to wicket-keeper Matt Prior. Swann finished off the Sri Lankan innings by bowling Suranga Lakmal for a duck with a perfect off-break that beat the number 11’s defensive prod and zipped between his bat and pad. —Reuters

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (right) is about to take a catch to dismiss England’s captain Andrew Strauss during the second day of the second cricket Test match. —AP

Scoreboard COLOMBO: Scoreboard at the close of the second day of the second test between Sri Lanka and England yesterday: Sri Lanka first innings (overnight 238-6) L.Thirimanne lbw b Anderson 8 T.Dilshan c Prior b Anderson 14 K.Sangakkara c Strauss b Anderson 0 M.Jayawardene lbw b Swann 105 T.Samaraweera lbw b Bresnan 54 A.Mathews c Strauss b Swann 57 P.Jayawardene c Prior b Finn 7 S.Randiv c Pietersen b Swann 12 D.Prasad not out 12 R.Herath c Prior b Bresnan 2 S.Lakmal b Swann 0 Extras (b-4) 4 Total (all out, 111.1 overs) 275 Fall of wickets: 1-21 2-21 3-30 4-154 5-216 6-227 7-258

8-261 9-270 10-275 Bowling: Anderson 22-5-62-3, Finn 22-4-51-1, Bresnan 21-3-47-2, Patel 16-3-32-0, Swann 28.1-4-75-4, Pietersen 2-0-4-0. England first innings A.Strauss c P.Jayawardene b Dilshan 61 A.Cook not out 77 J. Trott not out 15 Extras (nb-1) 1 Total (one wicket, 66 overs) 154 Fall of wicket: 1-122. To bat: K.Pietersen, I.Bell. M.Prior, S. Patel, T.Bresnan, G.Swann, J.Anderson, S.Finn. Bowling (to date): Lakmal 13-3-34-0 (1nb), Prasad 9-4-24-0, Herath 19-2-46-0, Dilshan 8-1-16-1, Randiv 17-4-34-0.

Brits show Aussies the way to Olympic gold MELBOURNE: Britain showed track rivals Australia what will be required to win Olympic team pursuit gold by winning the 4km event in a new world record time at the world championships here yesterday. On the opening day at the Hisense Arena world records were set and there were several upsets as the main Olympic medal hopefuls tune their engines less than four months out from the London Games. German pair Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel caused a sensation in the women’s team sprint by setting two world records on their way to a surprise gold in the two-lap power event. Hosts Australia, upset at seeing Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch finish a disappointing second, were then given reason to cheer when their men’s sprint team stunned France to claim a deserved gold in the three-man team sprint. Elsewhere Britain’s Ben Swift claimed gold in the men’s 15km scratch, an event which is not on the Olympic programme. The night, however, belonged to the British pursuit squad. Having been eclipsed by a young impressive Australian team during the last two championships, the Olympic champions showed they will be a force to be reckoned with in August by setting a gold-winning world record of 3min 53.295sec. It beat their previous world record of 3:53.314sec, set in Beijing four years ago. Britain replaced Andy Tennant with Steven Burke for the final, and that tactic appeared to pay off as Burke combined with Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas to just edge the Aussies at the finish. Clancy, a veteran from Beijing, admitted it was one of his hardest-fought wins. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to fight as hard as that for a win,” said Clancy. “It was pretty epic.” Australia took silver in a new national record of 3:53.401. Bobridge, who holds the world record for the non-Olympic event of the individual pursuit, admitted he had come into the race less than 100 percent fit. But despite admitting his disappointment at defeat, he was buoyed by his team’s personal best which he belives bodes well for the Olympics. “Always going to be disappointed about losing,” Bobridge told AFP. “But it’s not like we got beat because we had a bad time. We did a personal best and we got beat by someone who set the world record. “We gave them a kick in the guts a month ago (at the track World Cup) in London, they gave us a kick in the guts here tonight. “It’s one all, the best of three will be decided in London in a few months time.” Another world record came in the two-lap women’s team sprint. Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch had been hoping for a fourth consecutive world title in the new Olympic event but after Germany set a new world record in qualifying they were again upstaged by Vogel and Welte in the final. “To do a new world record is amazing. We are still coming to terms with it,” Vogel told AFP. “We had thought the Australians and the British would dispute the gold medal, and we would be going for the bronze. “I hope that Australia doesn’t hate us now!” Smiles soon came back to Australian faces when Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glatezer combined in a new national record of 43.266sec to win the men’s team sprint gold ahead of the fancied France team. —AFP

Freestylers to meet at first Red Bull Street Style qualifier KUWAIT: The world’s premier freestyle soccer competition — Red Bull Street Style - kicks off tomorrow, with the quest to find the best 16 ballers in Kuwait. Only one skilled baller will earn a chance to represent Kuwait at the Red Bull Street Style World Finals in Italy next September. The Red Bull Street Style five city tour of Kuwait will start tomorrow April 6 at Al Kout Mall at 5:30pm. Around 30 competitors have already registered for the first qualifier; their mission will be to impress the judges with their soccer skills in order to advance to the finals. The next stop will be at GOAL venues from Sunday April 15 to Wednesday April 18. The top 16 will battle in head to head battles in the National Final on April 20 at the Marina Crescent. In the finals, each two players will square off in a one-onone duel against each other within a 7-metre wide competition area. They take alternating 30-second turns with the ball, using their time to show off the best of their artistic moves to the sounds of music. In the finals, the judges will be evaluating the three minutes flow based on control, creativity and style.



Heat scorch Sixers to clinch playoff berth MIAMI: Miami’s LeBron James scored a season-high 41 points as the Heat clinched an NBA playoff berth with a 99-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. James scored 14 straight Miami points in the fourth quarter, helping the Heat finish off a four-game season sweep of Philadelphia and extend their home-court winning streak to 16 games. Mario Chalmers added 19 for the hosts who won despite Dwyane Wade sitting out with a bruised knee. The Heat are 9-1 this season when Wade has not played. Evan Turner scored 26 points for Philadelphia, which fell 1-1/2 games behind Boston in the Atlantic Division.

NBA results/standings San Antonio 125, Cleveland 90; Indiana 112, NY Knicks 104; Toronto 92, Charlotte 87; Detroit 102, Orlando 95; Miami 99, Philadelphia 93; Memphis 98, Golden State 94; Phoenix 109, Sacramento 100; LA Lakers 91, New Jersey 87. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT Boston 30 22 .577 Philadelphia 29 24 .547 NY Knicks 27 27 .500 Toronto 19 35 .352 New Jersey 19 36 .345

Pacers 112, Knicks 104 In Indianapolis, the hosts came from 17 points down in the second half to overrun New York. Danny Granger scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers outscored the Knicks 40-17 in the final 12 minutes. Paul George scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who are in a close fight for a playoff spot while missing Amare Stoudemire (back) and Jeremy Lin (knee). Spurs 125, Cavaliers 90 In Cleveland, San Antonio coasted to its eighth straight win by smashing Cleveland. Danny Green scored 19 points against the team that released him last season, while Tony Parker added 19 for the Spurs, who built a 22-point lead in the first half and rested Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for most of the fourth quarter. Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 13 points for the Cavs in his return after missing a game with a sprained right shoulder. Cleveland has lost eight straight and been outscored by 72 points in its past two home games. Lakers 91, Nets 87 In Los Angeles, the home team blew a 17-point lead before recovering to beat New Jersey. Kobe Bryant scored 24 points and rattled home a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left that helped salvage victory. Pau Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers who led by 12 early in the fourth quarter, only for but Deron Williams to lead an 18-6 run for New Jersey, tying it with a 3-pointer with 1:29 left. Bryant made a long jumper moments later, and the Lakers controlled the ball for 52 straight seconds during the final minute with an offensive rebound and an out-ofbounds deflection. Bryant then made his third 3-pointer, beating the shot clock, and Williams missed his own 3-point attempt. Pistons 102, Magic 95 In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Greg Monroe

LOS ANGELES: Lakers guard Ramon Sessions (7) lays up a shot against New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) during the second half of an NBA basketball game. — AP

had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead Detroit over undermanned Orlando. The M agic were without star ters D wight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson because of injuries. Ben Gordon added 18 points for the Pistons, who shot 12 of 18 from the field in the fourth quarter. Glen Davis, who started at center in Howard’s place, led Orlando with a careerhigh 31 but the Magic lost their fourth straight - their worst skid of the season. Grizzlies 98, Warriors 94 In Memphis, the hosts overcame a lackluster performance with a fourth-quarter rally to defeat Golden State. OJ Mayo scored 19 points and Mike Conley added 18 for the Grizzlies, who trailed by 12 early in the fourth quarter but went on a 13-0 run to erase the advantage and fight to their third straight win. David Lee scored

22 points to lead the Warriors, who lost their sixth straight. Suns 109, Kings 100 In Sacramento, Marcin Gortat had 20 points and 10 rebounds as Phoenix beat Sacramento. Steve Nash added 18 points and 12 assists for the Suns, who moved within 1-1/2 games of Houston for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff berth. DeMarcus Cousins scored a career-high 41 points and had 12 rebounds for the Kings. Raptors 92, Bobcats 87 In Toronto, Andrea Bargnani scored 30 points to lead Toronto over Charlotte. DeMar DeRozan had 20 as Toronto won back-to-back games at home for the first time since 2010. Byron Mullens had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats, who lost their eighth straight. — AP

Central Division Chicago 42 13 .764 Indiana 32 21 .604 Milwaukee 25 28 .472 Detroit 20 33 .377 Cleveland 17 34 .333

9 16 21 23

Southeast Division Miami 38 14 .731 Orlando 32 22 .593 Atlanta 31 23 .574 Washington 12 41 .226 Charlotte 7 44 .137

7 8 26.5 30.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 40 13 .755 Denver 29 24 .547 Utah 28 26 .519 Portland 25 29 .463 Minnesota 25 30 .455

11 12.5 15.5 16

Pacific Division 34 20 .630 32 21 .604 27 26 .509 20 32 .385 19 35 .352

1.5 6.5 13 15

Southwest Division San Antonio 37 14 .725 Memphis 30 22 .577 Dallas 30 24 .556 Houston 29 25 .537 New Orleans 13 40 .245

7.5 8.5 9.5 25

LA Lakers LA Clippers Phoenix Golden State Sacramento

Tough Nissan leg to test Desert Challenge competitors’ credentials ABU DHABI: Day four of the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge today sees competitors take on arguably the rally’s toughest leg, appropriately named after Nissan, a long-term supporter of the rally, whose flagship Patrol SUV is the race’s official car. The Nissan leg will provide the firmest test of each remaining competitor’s rallying credentials, with competitors already exhausted, and their machines pushed to the limit, after three days of gruelling racing. None more so than the Middle East-based racers who will be determined to finish strongly in the region’s leading cross-country rally, with Khalifa Al Mutaiwei, Yahya Bel Helei and Obaid Al Kitbe all having all shone over the early stages of the rally. Competitors who have successfully navigated the previous three legs will put themselves up against 317 kilometres of the most testing rallying terrain on what is the last full day of racing to take place entirely among the incredible setting that is the beautiful desert of the Western Region. Leg 4 starts at 7:30am from the edge of the E45 road, approximately 24 kilometres north of Mezaira’a. From there, riders and drivers head west across the arid desert towards the first checkpoint, 36km up the E15 Ghiyathi Road. They then complete a loop that takes them further west, before returning to the same checkpoint. This stop is an ideal base for spectators, with racers passing through it twice in one day. Once refuelled, competitors embark upon another loop, heading west, south, then back east until they are running parallel to the E15. Spectators can watch from either of two viewpoints just south of the main road, before the racers tackle the final section through the massive dunes of the Empty Quarter, south of the Liwa Oasis, and on to the finishing point eight kilometres north of Moreeb Hill. While 2012 marks the 22nd edition of the Desert Challenge, it also heralds the 60th anniversary year of the Nissan Patrol - a vehicle steeped in the heritage of the

Middle East and dubbed “The Hero of All Terrain”. A key partner of the rally, Nissan is providing several Patrols to act as off-road transport for the organisers, while a number of racers are also competing behind the wheel of this rugged SUV. “The partnership between Nissan and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has been integral to the success of the rally for the past nine years - when you think of the Desert Challenge, you think of Nissan,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, founder of the Desert Challenge and president of rally organizers, the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE). “The Patrol is built for this terrain, making for a very strong partnership.”

GB 1.5 4 12 12.5

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sees competitors push them to their physical and mental limits over five gruelling days, tackling some of the toughest terrain on the planet - the massive sand dunes of the Empty Quar ter deser t of the Western Region. The successful participants will cross the finishing line in Abu Dhabi on Friday, 6th April. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is organised by the ATCUAE and is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and features a highprofile line-up of supporters, including the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Nissan, ADNOC and Abu Dhabi Aviation.

Nasser Al-Obaidli returns a shot

Al-Ghareeb, Maqdas dominate KUWAIT: Gulf and Arab Champions Mohammad Al-Ghareeb and Abdallah Maqdas continued their winning ways in the International Saudi Futures Tennis tournament being held in Riyadh as Mohammad Al-Ghareeb came out winner over Russia’s Alexi Velinkov 6-3, 7-6 and Abdallah Maqdas overcame Britain’s Mark Kibler 6-7, 6-4, 7-5. Meanwhile, the sudden heavy rains in Kuwait Tuesday evening did not dampen the excitement during the third Kuwait tennis open at Yarmouk Sports Club in Mishref. The fourth day of competition saw Ali Al-Ghareeb brushing aside Mansour Bu Hamad aside 6-0, 6-0, as Lee Hamana did the same with Usama Shaaban. Mohammad Abdal manhandled Fahad Bastaki 6-0, 6-0 as did Ahmad Yousuf with Mohammad Mubarak. In the pioneers singles Abdelredha AlGhareeb defeated Kanyah Harikrishna. Meanwhile Abdelredha Jassim Al-Ghareeb, the secretary General of Kuwait Tennis Federation had a knee injury and looks unlikely to continue competition in Kuwait 3rd Tennis Open.

Mohammad Al-Ghareeb in action

Stoner faces a bigger MotoGP challenge LONDON: MotoGP champion Casey Stoner will have a bigger challenge in more ways than one this season, even if he is the overwhelming favorite to win the opening floodlit race in Qatar this weekend. The Australian is chasing his third title in the top category but this time, thanks to the decision to increase engine capacity, on a more powerful 1,000cc machine than the 800cc Honda he triumphed with last year. His Honda team won the last four races of 2011 and Stoner has set the pace in pre-season testing, lapping fastest on four of the five days in Malaysia and Spain. The 26-year-old, who won 10 races last season, has also triumphed in four of the last five Qatar Grands Prix with four pole positions. Despite that formidable record, Stoner still expects this year to be tougher. “We head to Qatar feeling positive, but still have some work to do,” he said in a team preview. “This will be the first time with the new bike on this circuit so we will need to spend some time on the set-up to put ourselves in the best position. “We’ve always enjoyed good results at the Losail circuit but this is a new season and there are more competitors contesting for victory this year.” The bigger engine could also make the racing more spectacular, with greater power surging through the rear wheel. This year sees the introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) concept which allows new entrants to run under lowercost regulations with a prototype chassis coupled with an affordable production engine. Riders on such machines include American veteran Colin Edwards with a Suter-BMW for Forward Racing while Britain’s James Ellison returns on an Aprilia for the Paul Bird Motorsport former World Superbike team after a five-year absence. Nine of the 21-strong MotoGP field will be on CRT bikes. Six factory riders stay with their 2011 teams but newcomers include Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl of Germany, Italians Michele Pirro, Mattia Pasini and

Danilo Petrucci along with Colombian Yonny Hernandez. Italian Andrea Dovizioso has joined the Tech3 Yamaha team from Honda while Spaniard Alvaro Bautista switched to Honda Gresini after the death last October of Italian Marco Simoncelli. Stoner’s main rivals will be familiar faces, however, with Spanish team mate Dani Pedrosa injury-free at last while Yamaha’s 2010 champion Jorge Lorenzo and American Ben Spies will also be strong contenders. “I think this season we have a slightly more competitive bike so I am hoping for good things to happen,” said Lorenzo, last year’s overall runner-up who needed plastic surgery on a finger last October. “Because of my hand injury it has been a long time since I was in a race so I am really excited for Sunday. I have been training a lot for this season. I’m feeling very good and very happy with the bike as well.” Pedrosa missed four races last year due to injury, including a broken collarbone, but the 26-year-old told Reuters last month he was feeling great. “Stoner and Lorenzo are riding to a good level but so am I,” declared the Spaniard. “Casey is very fast and so is Jorge, they are great opponents. “I think the change in the bikes is positive... they are more powerful, harder on the tyres but it should be a better spectacle because there will be more overtaking.” Among all the optimism, Italian great Valentino Rossi has struck a discordant note with his Ducati still lagging the leaders after a 2011 that saw the 33-year-old fail to chalk up a single victory for the first time in his grand prix career. “I am a realist and I know well that our times are still a long way off and that there are still some things to fix,” the nine-times world champion across all categories said in a team statement. “We won’t be able to address some of them right away, but it’s also true that both we at the track and the guys back home now have a direction to work in and we must try to do as well as we can.”— Reuters


S P ORT S Preview

Bilbao leads Spanish trio in Europa League AVC Overseas Association

Malabar down DHL in NYC Trophy tie-breaker AVC, United Goans, Don Bosco in semis KUWAIT: Malabar United FC continued their good fortune in the Gulf Custody Company sponsored 21st edition NYC Trophy played at MOH Grounds, with a 5-4 tie-breaker victory over DHL FC in the quarter finals. It was one of the toughest matches of the tournament between the two giants. Both teams played a open game creating a number of goal scoring chances. However, the game ended goalless and the tie-breaker was applied to decide the winner. Malabar held a slight edge in the shootout with established goalkeeper Shaijal, who has been outstanding in the tournament so far, giving them the lead off the first kick taken by DHL’s Elvis Camelo. DHL substituted their goalkeeper Manoj midway into the tie with defender John Furtado but the latter never looked like he could save a penalty. Two of the kicks were within reach of John but he failed to stop them. Noushad, Ismayel, Haridas, Riyas Babu and Sanad were on target for Malabar. The scorers for DHL were John Furtado, Seby Barboza, Lionel Fernandes and Anthony Vincent. Malabar will take on Don Bosco Oratory in semis. Oratory won their quarter-final against FC Sparx by a solitary goal (1-0) scored by their star striker Michael Dias. FC Sparx youngsters put up a strong fight with goalkeeper Gopi, Praveen Kumar, Mahin, Riyas Lathef, Adil, Savio Rodrigues, Ahmed Khan, Anwar Mazhar, Rajesh Gopal, Yazeel, and substitutes Quasi and Ali giving their best right till the end of the final whistle. Don Bosco played a team game as always, supporting and encouraging each other. The team consisting of Alido, Alex Sequira, Conrad Pinto, Godfrey Aguiar, Peter Fernandes, Steven Correia, Michael, Alexandro Gomes, Roshan D’Souza, Roshan Dias, Vicky, and subs Chris Rodrigues and Anthony Rebello were magnificent

throughout. They allowed no room for FC Sparx to dominate the game. Earlier, AVC Overseas Association also moved into semi-finals beating United Friends Club 7-6 in the tie-breaker after the teams were level 1-1 at normal time. It was United Friends who scored first through striker Hemanth Mohan. However, Francisco Rodrigues restored parity for AVC soon after. In the tie-breaker, Kevin Vaz, Anthony Rodrigues, Savio, Milton Estrocio, Ronnie Fernandes, Braulio and Melvin made no mistake for AVC. Godwin Fernandes, Hemanth, Remedio Fernandes, Peter D’Costa, Abudi and Teotonio were the scorers for United Friends. AVC roster that took the field consisted of Alvaro Dias, Vincy Pereira, Milton Estrocio, Luciano D’Souza, Braulio Rodrigues, Savio Fernandes, Anthony Rodrigues, Kevin Vaz, Melvin Fernandes, Molvito Mascarenhas (captain), Francisco Rodrigues, Ronnie Fernandes and Liston Domnick. In another quarter final encounter, United Goan Centre, popularly known as U.G Strikers coasted to an easy 2-0 victory over CRC Chinchinim. Agnelo Monteiro took the lead for U.G Strikers while Rosario Braganza scored the second goal. UG president Pascoal Alphonso was ecstatic about the victory and said he was hoping to make it to the finals of the NYC Trophy in the Silver Jubilee year of Navelim Youth Centre. The tournament consisting of 19 teams affiliated to Kuwait Indian Football Federation (K.I.F.F) is officiated by KIFF referees and sponsored by Kuwait’s Gulf Custody Company, one of the biggest fund custodians in the MiddleEast. There will be no matches on Good Friday. The semis will be played 13th April 2012 as follows: AVC Overseas Association vs United Goans Centre at 06.30am; Malabar United vs KGA at 08.00 am.

Malabar United team

Lanus thrash Olimpia 6-0 BUENOS AIRES: Argentine club Lanus thrashed Olimpia of Paraguay 6-0 on Tuesday to take a commanding lead in Group 2 of the Copa Libertadores. In other results Tuesday, Vasco de Gama went to the top of Group 5 with a 2-1 win at Alianza Lima while in Group 6, Mexico’s Cruz Azul drew 1-1 at Venezuela’s Deportivo Tachira. Those results mean Alianza and Tachira can not progress to the next round. Lanus improved to 10 points with one match remaining in group play and is nearly guaranteed of making the second round. Olimpia has seven, two points clear of Flamengo of Brazil, which faces Emelec of Ecuador late yesterday. Mario Pavone put Lanus ahead in the 14th minute and Mauro Camoranesi’s header in the 29th made it 2-0. Pavone scored again in the 55th before Mario Regueiro added a fourth in the 71st, Diego Valeri extended the margin in the 77th and

Silvio Romero finished off the scoring with a 10-meter (yard) strike in the 85th. Pablo Zeballos had Olimpia’s best chance in the first half with a free kick that Lanus goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin dived to his right to stop. The top two teams in each of eight groups advance to the second round. In Lima, Peru, in Group 5, Vasco’s Felipe Bastos scored in the 18th with a looping, deflected shot to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. He scored again in the 70th to push Vasco ahead 2-0. Miguel Curiel pulled one goal back in the 77th for Alianza. Vasco’s Nilton was sent off in second-half stoppage time on a straight red card for a dangerous tackle. Vasco improved to 10 points from five matches to lead the group. Alianza has three and was eliminated from contention to progress out of the group. Libertad of Paraguay has seven from four matches and Nacional of Uruguay has six. They face off today. —AP

BUENOS AIRES: Diego Braghieri of Argentina’s Lanus (top), Luciano Balbi of Argentina’s Lanus (front) and Luis Caballero of Paraguayís Olimpia go for a header during a Copa Libertadores soccer match.—AP

LONDON: Athletic Bilbao is bestplaced of the three Spanish clubs aiming to reach the Europa League semifinals today and still the one that seems to be pressing hardest for victory. While Atletico Madrid will defend a narrow 2-1 lead at Hannover and Valencia needs to overturn a 2-1 deficit when it hosts AZ Alkmaar, Bilbao has targeted another win over visiting Schalke despite already holding a 4-2 advantage from last week’s quarterfinal first-leg matches. Bilbao, which eliminated Manchester United in the previous round, has won plaudits across Europe for its attacking play and doesn’t look likely to change its game plan. “We can’t go out and play stupidly,” winger Markel Susaeta said. “Even though we won 4-2, nothing but winning this game has crossed our minds.” Susaeta, the only player in Spain’s topflight to play 50 games already this season, said Bilbao would be on guard against the attacking threat of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jefferson Farfan and former Spain great Raul Gonzalez, who scored both Schalke’s goals last week. The match marks Raul’s second playing appearance in Spain since leaving Real Madrid in 2010. Raul played at Valencia last season and has enjoyed facing Spanish competition with three goals in three matches. “They’ve got great forwards like Farfan, Huntelaar and Raul and they will try to get at us,” Susaeta said. “ They ’ve got to score three goals and that gives us a big advantage, but if they score early it could com-

GERMANY: Hanover’s Mame Diouf exercises during a practice session in Hanover. Hanover 96 will face Athletico Madrid in a second leg Europa League quarterfinal soccer match today. —AP plicate the match for us.” Athletic is without suspended midfielder Ander Iturraspe, with coach Marcelo Bielsa looking at moving Spain international Javi Martinez up from his central defense position to fill the role. Borja Ekiza is expected to replace Martinez in the back line. Whether Fernando Llorente returns is uncertain after the Spain striker sat out Saturday’s 2-0 Spanish league loss at Barcelona. The size of Bielsa’s squad hasn’t affected the Basque club’s European ambitions so far, although it has tailed off badly in the league. Bilbao is already certain of

playing in Europe next year anyway as it faces Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final and will get that Europa League spot if it doesn’t win the competition outright. Atletico Madrid has won all of its Europa League games under coach Diego Simeone and now has to defend a narrow lead away from home. Midfielder Tiago, defender Diego Godin and striker Adrian Lopez are all available after missing the first leg but the team will be without midfielders Arda Turan and Gabi Fernandez, and fullback Juanfran Torres - all through suspension. Also, Antonio Lopez, Pizzi and

Fran Merida are injured. Valencia may fear its own fans as much as its Dutch opponent after they jeered their team off the field following another poor display Sunday - a 1-1 draw against Levante. Valencia is third in the standings behind big two Real Madrid and Barcelona, but is 24 points adrift of second-place Barca. Emery can at least count on the return of two of his Spain internationals, striker Roberto Soldado and fullback Jordi Alba. Metalist Kharkiv hosts Sporting Lisbon in the other match, with the Ukrainian side seeking to overturn a 2-1 deficit.—AP

Brazil says no delays on World Cup stadiums SAO PAULO: Construction work at 2014 World Cup stadiums is on schedule in all 12 host cities, the Brazilian government said Tuesday. With 800 days to go until the World Cup, the government says five stadiums have more than 50 percent of work completed, while another five have more than 30 of construction ready. Two are just 20 percent completed - the BeiraRio stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre and the Arena das Dunas in northeastern Natal. The report contrasts with numbers released last month by a government watchdog group which said only stadiums in Salvador and Fortaleza had more than 50 percent of work completed. According to the government, the Castelao stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza is the one closest to being finished, with 60 percent of work completed. Renovation at the Maracana, which will host the final, is 39 percent complete. The Itaquera Arena in Sao Paulo, which will host the opener, is 30 percent done. Most stadiums are expected to be ready by the end of this year or the next. The government report is based on information from the local representatives in the host cities. Maracana and the Castelao will also be used in next year’s Confederations Cup, along with the Mineirao stadium in the central city of Belo Horizonte and the Estadio Nacional in the capital of Brasilia. Work at Mineirao is 55 percent complete and at the Estadio Nacional is 54 percent ready, according to the government figures.

Two other cities are awaiting approval from FIFA to be included in the Confederations Cup Salvador and Recife. The Fonte Nova in Salvador is 55 percent complete, while the Arena Pernambuco in Recife is only 32 percent done. Although the government says all stadiums are on schedule, the president of the local World Cup organizing committee, Jose Maria Marin, said last week the situation in Recife is a concern. Marin is traveling to the northeastern city on Wednesday to try to find ways to expedite preparations so it can be picked by FIFA for the Confederations Cup. The decision will be made in June. The Beira-Rio stadium also was a concern because work at the venue was stopped for eight months as club Internacional and the construction company involved in the project tried to come up with financial guarantees for the project. Work at the stadium, which will host five World Cup matches, restarted only about three weeks ago. The Brazilian Audit Court, the watchdog responsible for overseeing how the Brazilian government spends public money, said in its March report that only the stadiums in Salvador and Fortaleza had more than half of their construction work completed. The court also raised concerns of possible overspending in all the venues. The government’s monthly report about the status of construction at the stadiums came on the same day as workers in Fortaleza threatened to go on strike to demand better salaries. They

said a decision on whether to strike will be made on April 16. The workers had already halted construction at the Castelao for two days in February to demand higher payments. There have been other workers’ strikes at several venues, including at the Maracana, the Fonte Nova, the Mineirao and the Arena Pernambuco.—AP

Matches on TV (Local Timings)

UEFA Europa League Hannover v Atletico Aljazeera Sport 1 HD Aljazeera Sport +4


Metalist v Sporting Aljazeera Sport +6


Bilbao v Schalke Aljazeera Sport +2


Valencia v Alkmaar Aljazeera Sport +5 Aljazeera Sport 2 HD


Levi powers Mumbai to win in IPL opener CHENNAI: Richard Levi hit a 35-ball 50 to guide Mumbai Indians to an easy eight-wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) opening match yesterday. The South African, who smashed the fastest T20 century off 45 balls against New Zealand at Hamilton in February, cracked three sixes and six fours on his IPL debut as Mumbai surpassed Chennai’s total of 112 with 19 balls to spare. Levi, 24, put his team on course for victory with a 69-run stand for the first wicket with Sachin Tendulkar (16) in the Twenty20 tournament opener, watched by a sizeable crowd in Chennai. Levi was caught by Australian Doug Bollinger at long-off soon after completing his half-century with a six off West Indies seamer Dwayne Bravo. Tendulkar retired after being struck on the fingers by a Bollinger deliver y, but New Zealander James Franklin (25 not out) and Indian Ambati Rayudu (18 not out) steered their team home. Mumbai’s win was set up by left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, pacemen Kieron Pollard of the West Indies and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga who bagged two wickets apiece to restrict Chennai to a modest total. Suresh Raina top-scored for Chennai with a brisk 26-ball 36 on a difficult pitch. The 76match tournament, facing a test of its popularity, has nine teams playing each other on a home-and-away basis before the top four sides

qualify for the play-offs. The final will be played on May 27. The IPL, which began in 2008 as a highoctane mix of glamour, entertainment, rich purses for players and the excitement of slambang 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 were 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. 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 the Board of Control for Cricket in India charges of misappropriation of funds. 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. Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings 112 in 19.5 overs (S. Raina 36; K. Pollard 2-15, L. Malinga 2-16, P. Ojha 2-17) lost to Mumbai Indians 115-2 in 16.5 overs (R. Levi 50, J. Franklin 25 not out) by eight wickets.—AFP

CHENNAI: Mumbai Indians’ batsman Richard Levi attempts to play a shot as the ball is stuck in his leg pad during the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match against Chennai Super Kings.—AP

Rangers top NHL East



Bilbao leads Spanish trio in Europa League


Heat scorch Sixers to clinch playoff berth

Page 18

MADRID: Real Madrid’s Kaka from Brazil (left) celebrates his goal against APOEL Nicosia with teammate Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal during a second leg Champions League quarterfinal soccer match.—AP

Ronaldo double as Real ease into semis MADRID: Nine-time champions Real Madrid eased into the Champions League semi-finals here yesterday, beating APOEL Nicosia 5-2 in their quarter-final secondleg clash and by 8-2 on aggregate. A double from Cristiano Ronaldo, along with goals from Kaka, Angel Di Maria and Jose Maria Callejon ensured the Spanish giants will meet Bayern Munich who beat French side Marseille 2-0 on Tuesday and 4-0 on aggregate - in the final four. Gustavo Manduca and an Esteban Solari penalty gave the Cypriots some consolation late in the match. The result was never really in doubt after Real won the first leg 3-0 in Cyprus, but the visitors

nevertheless gave a fighting performance on a wet night in the Spanish capital. APOEL bow out of this season’s competition after a memorable run making them the first Cypriot team ever to reach the quarter-final stages. Real Madrid will go into the Bayern clash with a near perfect record, winning nine out of ten games scoring 32 goals and conceding only six. APOEL started the game playing very deep looking to frustrate the home team, a tactic that denied Madrid in the first leg until the 77th minute. Real Madrid, however, were quicker off the mark this time and on two minutes Gonzalo Higuain took advantage of a

poorly cleared Ronaldo cross to head just wide. A defensive error by Savvas Poursaitides three minutes later allowed Ronaldo a clear shot on goal from close range but Urko Pardo, the Spaniard in the APOEL goal, blocked well. The Cypriots began to settle after those early scares and started to enjoy some possession. On 20 minutes they made their first attacking foray into enemy territory and Sergio Ramos had to make a timely tackle as Ailton bared down on Iker Casillas in the Real Madrid goal. Ronaldo went close again on 25 minutes when he headed a Nuri Sahin freekick over the bar, but a minute later he

made no mistake for the opening goal when a Marcelo cross from the left-wing found him unmarked six yards out. Kaka then tried his luck with a curling right footed drive from 20 yards on 34 minutes that went just high. However two minutes later from exactly the same position to the left of the area, and five yards further out, he picked his spot perfectly, high to the right, to make it 2-0 to Madrid. The Brazilian nearly doubled his tally on 40 minutes with a right footed shot that hit the foot of the post and APOEL were relieved to hear the half-time whistle. Jose Mourinho used the second period to rest various players and give

received a further boost as injuries to Benfica’s first-choice centre-halves Jardel and Luisao forced boss Jorge Jesus to deploy midfielder Garcia as a makeshift defender. Yet Di Matteo had warned Chelsea to guard against complacency as the Portuguese team had scored in all of their European away matches this season. And that looked sound advice as Benfica, showing more urgency than in the entire first-leg, poured forward in the opening minutes and forced blocks from Lampard and John Terry on the edge of the penalty area. Chelsea had the ball in the net when Juan Mata fired low past Artur, but the Spaniard’s strike was correctly ruled out for offside. Benfica had been warned but their under-strength defence was creaking and Ashley Cole took full advantage in the 21st minute. Cole made a perfectly timed run into the penalty area and, although his first touch was a little heavy, the left-back’s surge panicked Garcia into a crude block that sent the Chelsea left-back crashing to the turf. Referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot and Lampard, making his 550th Chelsea appearance, stepped up to drill the penalty under Artur’s dive. Benfica went close to drawing level on the night when Terry scrambled Oscar Cardozo’s goalbound shot off the line after a well-worked free-kick. But Benfica’s hopes of a miraculous

Madrid star Santiago, quickly pulled one back for APOEL from the penalty spot before Di Maria finished off the scoring with a delightful chip for Madrid. Meanwhile, former Real Madrid player Jose Maria Zarraga, who won five European Cups with the club between 1956 and 1960, died on Tuesday at the age of 81. The Basque midfielder played for Madrid from 1949 to 1962 and also won six La Liga titles, one Spanish Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. Zarraga played alongside such greats as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, and won eight international caps for Spain.—AFP

Angry fans shake up Egypt’s fragile peace

Chelsea sink Benfica to set up Barca clash LONDON: Chelsea survived a nervous finale against 10-man Benfica to earn a 21 win in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg and set up a last-four showdown with holders Barcelona. Roberto Di Matteo’s side were firm favourites to reach the semi-finals after a 1-0 first-leg win in Lisbon, but they were made to sweat before clinching a 3-1 aggregate success at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Frank Lampard’s first half penalty and a red card for Benfica captain Maxi Pereira just before the break should have put Chelsea firmly in control. But this was a far from convincing performance from the Blues and Javi Garcia’s late header made for a few anxious moments before Raul Meireles sealed the victory in stoppage time. Chelsea can now look further to another grudge match with old rivals Barca, who claimed a controversial victory over the Blues at the semi-final stage of Europe’s elite club competition in 2009. That was the most recent in a long line of explosive encounters between the two clubs and Chelsea’s sixth semi-final appearance in the last nine years looks certain to reignite the feud. However, Di Matteo’s men will need to improve on some wasteful finishing and careless defending here if they are to stun Barca and book a place in the final in Munich. Salomon Kalou’s late winner last week had put Chelsea in charge and they

Argentinian Di Maria more than 35 minutes to aid his recuperation from an injury that had kept him out for six weeks. The Cypriots got their reward for enterprising play on 66 minutes when the Brazilian Gustavo Manduca finished off a tidy move to reduce Madrid’s lead. Captian Constantinos Charalambides then went close for the Cypriots who were enjoying their best spell of the game. With 14 minutes remaining Ronaldo curled a stunning right-footed free-kick from a wide left position for his eighth goal in this year’s competition and two minutes later Callejon made it 4-1 with an unstoppable shot. Esteban Solari, brother of former

LONDON: Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic (right) vies for the ball with Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan (left) during the Champions League quarterfinal soccer match. —AP comeback suffered a hammer blow when Pereira, already booked for dissent following the penalty, earned a second yellow card for a studs-up lunge on John Obi Mikel in the 40th minute. Benfica needed an early goal in the second half to have any chance and they almost got it when Cardozo’s curling effort brought a brilliant stop from Cech. Di Matteo’s team should have been further ahead when Ramires, producing an unwanted candidate for miss of the season, somehow failed to convert Kalou’s cross-shot from barely two yards out. Torres and Mata had chances to kill off

Benfica but couldn’t finish, yet there was a moment of concern for the hosts as skipper Terry was forced off. Terry’s departure unhinged Chelsea’s defence and substitute Yannick Djalo twice went close with a shot and then a header. When Kalou was denied by Artur it seemed of little consequence, but Garcia set up a tense finale when he rose unmarked to glance a close-range header past Cech from an 85th minute corner. Chelsea’s nerves were showing now, but substitute Meireles finally ended Benfica’s spirited show when he broke away and lashed past Artur.—AFP

CAIRO: Lingering enmity between Egyptian soccer fans and police since the country’s deadliest stadium disaster could shatter a fragile calm on the streets as the army prepares to hand power to civilians. Many football supporters are convinced a post-match stampede that left 74 people dead in Port Said on Feb. 1 was deliberately provoked by state security officials still loyal to ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Fans say the Interior Ministry caused the crush to punish visiting supporters of Cairo’s Al Ahly club for their role in Mubarak’s overthrow last year and subsequent protests demanding democracy and the reform of a widely despised police force. A parliamentary inquiry blamed fans and shoddy policing for the deaths and the head of state security in Port Said was fired along with the board of the Egyptian Football Association. The security forces are now refusing to oversee top-flight matches, forcing the sport’s governing body to scrap the rest of the season. Many fans agree the cancellation was inevitable, but for some people it sends a message that lawlessness has won. “Match security is the easiest task for police if it’s done with an efficient plan,” said Foad Allam, a former police general and security expert. “If they can’t secure a game, how can they secure a country?” The fans’ next move may depend on a court case brought over the events in Port Said which opens in Cairo this month. Seventy-five people including

nine police officers are charged with crimes ranging from negligence to premeditated murder. Most of the deaths were of people trampled in the crush of a panicking crowd, while others fell or were thrown from terraces. A steel door to the stadium was shut, trapping terrified fans, and the arena’s floodlights went out during the chaos, fanning suspicions of a conspiracy. Many spectators complained of a tiny police presence despite a tense build-up to the match. A small group of riot police formed a corridor to try to protect fleeing Al Ahly players, but they appeared overwhelmed and fans were able to kick and punch the players as they fled. Supporters of the local Port Said team, Al Masry, played down the role of the security services in the disaster, instead blaming years of accumulated tension between rival supporters. “We were just unlucky that the tension reached its climax in our ground,” said one Masry fan, 27-year-old Amr Aouf. If the police officers are found guilty of having a hand in the deaths, it would add fuel to widespread suspicion among fans that those in charge of law and order are using their positions to discredit the youth movements which unseated Mubarak. “I think it was planned with the government’s involvement. Every single Al Ahly fan is living for revenge against a policeman,” said veteran football commentator Alaa Sadek. —Reuters

Lufthansa hit; Frankfurt night flight ban upheld Page 23

Philippine Airlines sells minority stake Page 26


Burger King dusts off crown; goes public

Shares, euro fall as Fed stimulus hopes fade Page 24

Page 22

FRANKFURT: Photo shows a shovel and a jackhammer stand near the Euro sculpture in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. — AP

Euro zone in recession, India slows India services PMI hits 5 month low, confidence wilts LONDON: The euro zone’s services business remains mired in a mild recession but activity is perking up in Britain and is more robust in Asia, according to data yesterday that underscored widening fault lines in a plodding global economy. Sagging orders kept euro zone businesses in the doldrums in March, although companies became more confident that better times lie ahead, a survey showed. That contrasted with evidence of a slowdown in India and wilting business confidence. The uneven data come a day after markets were jolted by news that the US Federal Reserve, while guarded on the clearly brighter economic prospects there, looks far from considering any more stimulus for the

world’s largest economy. Given that there are no concrete plans to stimulate growth in debt-ridden Europe, the onus remains firmly on developing nations such as China and India, which are slowing, to carry world economic growth. Markit’s Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which gauges how thousands of companies - from banks to hairdressers and restaurants - fare each month, edged down to 49.1 in March from 49.3 in February, slipping further below the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction. Although that was better than a preliminary reading of 48.7, survey compiler Markit said it probably consigned the euro zone to recession, defined as two consecutive quarters

of contraction in gross domestic product. “(It) suggests that the first quarter of 2012 was not as bad as the final quarter of 2011, but the last two months of surveys have been well below the upturn promised in January,” said economists Janet Henry, European economist at HSBC. “The strength of service sector business confidence raises hope for a future recovery.” The services PMI, measuring the fortunes of the services sector was a little less gloomy than originally portrayed, rising to 49.2 from 48.8 in February, a substantial upwards revision from the 48.7 flash reading for March. However, Europe’s problems look far from over. Spanish borrowing costs jumped at a bond auction yesterday,

jolting wider European markets, as this week’s tough budget failed to calm investors’ ner ves about the country’s finances. New business levels continued to shrink and at a faster pace last month, which does not bode well for April, although services firms sounded more upbeat about the future, with business expectations at an eight-month high. “With business confidence in the service sector running at a far higher level than late last year, the recession may also be brief,” said Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist. That coincided with a new tranche of three-year loans given to banks by the European Central Bank in February, worth more than half a trillion euros. But some euro zone countries are

Crossover sales leapt 47 percent and mid-car sales were up 38 percent. GM touted sales of a record 100,000 cars and crossovers that achieve at least a highway rating of 30 miles per gallon estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The biggest US automaker highlighted that it sold 2,289 Volt electric cars, up 50 percent from December 2011, “which had been the vehicle’s best month since launch” the prior year. Meanwhile Ford Motor Company, the number-two US automaker, said sales rose 5.0 percent, to 223,418 vehicles, its strongest sales performance since 2007. Ford said the fuel-efficient Focus was its best seller, with sales up 78 percent. “Rising gas prices continued to drive strong customer demand for Ford’s fuel-efficient vehicles throughout March and the first quar ter,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of US Marketing, Sales and Ser vice. Chrysler Group, which emerged from a government-backed bankruptcy in 2009 and is now controlled by Italy’s Fiat, said US sales surged 34 percent to 121,730 units, its highest level since March 2008. “ The combination of credit availability, an improving economy, pent-up demand and even high fuel prices encouraging people to acquire newer more fuel-

UK AND INDIA The UK services PMI, by contrast, taken together with manufacturing data earlier this week that also showed a better performance than the euro zone, suggested Britain’s economy expanded by 0.5 percent in the first quarter, Markit said. The Markit/CIPS services survey rose to 55.3 in March, well above 53.8 in February, confounding expectations for a decline to 53.4. In India, a comparable report showed services growth slipped to a five-month low in March as business confidence faded to its weakest since 2009. The HSBC Markit Business Activity index fell sharply to 52.3 in March from 56.5 the previous month. Growth of new business, which had powered the modest rise in activity until now. —Reuters

Qatar National Bank net profit up 17.4%

Fuel-efficient autos driving sales higher WASHINGTON: US auto sales revved up last month amid an improving economy and as high gasoline prices boosted buying of fuel-efficient vehicles, US and foreign automakers said yesterday. General Motors Company, the world’s biggest automaker by sales, repor ted March sales of 231,052 vehicles in the United States, up 12 percent from a year ago. Solid gains were echoed at Ford, Chr ysler, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Volkswagen. “March overall vehicle sales were a bit lighter than expected but in view of the recent strength it hardly seems anything to be concerned about,” said Robert Brusca at FAO Economics. Sales were up 35 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, he noted. Don Johnson, GM vice president, said fuel-efficient cars and crossovers-vehicles built on a car platform that incorporate features of sport utility vehicles-led the charge. “The economic recovery and a deep bench of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers have been driving our sales for more than a year, but the combined impact has never been stronger than it was in March.” “Since the last time fuel prices spiked, both the economy and GM’s product portfolio are undeniably stronger,” Johnson added.

clearly doing better than others. Activity held essentially unchanged in France, while it picked up slightly in Germany. And the downturn in Spanish services activity, while still worrying, unexpectedly eased. “The downturn is currently only very mild ... with gross domestic product probably falling by just 0.2 percent in the first quarter,” said Markit’s Williamson, speaking about overall euro zone growth. That tallies with a Reuters poll of economists taken two weeks ago, which projected the euro zone economy would stagnate in the second quarter. Employment in the services sector fell across the region for a third month, although Germany bucked that trend by posting its best upturn in jobs in the year to date, Markit said.

Total operating income up 24.4%

BIRMINGHAM: Fiat 500 vehicles are displayed at the Golling Fiat dealership in Birmingham, Mich in this photo. — AP

efficient vehicles are all helping to drive industr y sales,” said Reid Bigland, president and chief executive of Dodge Brand and head of US Sales. Jessica Caldwell, an automotive analyst at, noted that the number-three US automaker will be hard-pressed to maintain that momentum. “Sales started to pick up steam last year around this time, so it will be hard for them to report these spectacular year-over-year gains from this point on,” she said. Toyota posted a 15 percent rise in US sales, to 203,282 vehicles, a year after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami disaster disrupted produc-

tion. Japanese rival Nissan reported a 12.5 percent sale increase, to 136,317 units, “a record for any month in the company’s history.” South Korean automaker Hyundai also said it broke the all-time monthly sales record, with sales of 69,728 units, up 13 percent from March 2011. German automaker Volkswagen said US sales jumped 35 percent to 36,588 units in March, its best performance since 1973. Honda lagged far behind in the US market, posting a decrease of 8.4 percent in sales. “Honda just can’t get on track,” said analyst Michelle Krebs.—AFP

DUBAI: Qatar National Bank, the Gulf Arab state’s largest lender by market value, reported a 17.4 percent rise in quarterly profits yesterday, in results that fell just shy of analyst estimates. First quarter net profit rose to 2 billion riyals ($549.3 million) in the three months to March 31, compared with 1.7 billion riyals in the prior year period, the bank said in a statement. An average of five analysts saw a net profit of 2.1 billion riyals, according to a Reuters survey. QNB is the first major regional lender to report earnings and is closely watched for an indication of the sector’s performance. Total operating income was up 24.4 percent on the year-ago period, which the bank attributed to strong growth across a range of revenue sources. Loans and advances at the end of March were 201 billion riyals, growing 3.6 percent during the quarter and up 43 percent on the end of the same month in 2011. Deposits and unrestricted investment accounts rose to 38.5 billion riyals, up 21.1 percent on the same time last year, the statement said. QNB has been in negotiations to acquire Turkey’s Denizbank, the fastgrowing Turkish arm of euro zone debt casualty Dexia, in a deal potentially worth up to $6 billion. The Qatari bank, whose chairman is also the country’s finance minister, was the only party left bidding for

Denizbank, as crippled Dexia dismantles itself after a state bail-out at the height of the euro zone debt crisis last year. But Dexia is hoping that rival suitors for Denizbank will return after it failed to get a higher price from QNB for the Turkish unit, sources familiar with the matter said late last month. Dexia considered the Qatari offer too low, and is not willing to sell the healthy Turkish business - which gives access to a fast-growing market - in a fire-sale, sources said. In February QNB issued a $1 billion five -year bond which was five time oversubscribed and received orders from more than 270 investors globally, in the first global issue from a Qatari name this year. Proceeds from the bond are to be used for the general purposes of the bank, the lender said. QNB is 50-percent owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority and has been expanding abroad, with operations in Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Banks in Qatar are expected to benefit as the country is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, set to spend more on infrastructure as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup. Shares in QNB closed down yesterday 0.7 percent at 135.9 riyals before the results were announced. They are down 1 percent year-to-date.— Reuters



Burger King dusts off crown; goes public again Burger King to list shares on NYSE NEW YORK: Burger King is dusting off its crown and going public again. The world’s No 2 hamburger chain, which is in the midst of overhauling its menu and stores, says it expects to relist its shares on the New York Stock Exchange within the next three months. In a deal announced late Tuesday, the New York-based investment firm 3G Capital said it is selling a 29 percent stake in Burger King for $1.4 billion in cash to Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based shell specifically set up to invest in another company. 3G Capital will keep the remaining 71 percent. Justice Holding’s shares will suspend trading on the London Stock Exchange once the deal is complete. It will then emerge as Burger King Worldwide Inc. and its shares will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Burger King traded under “BKC” between 2006 and 2010 but its new ticker has not yet been determined. The announcement comes just a day after Burger King launched a star-studded TV ad campaign to tout the biggest revamp since the chain opened its doors in 1954. The overhaul started last year shortly after 3G Capital took the reins at the Miami-based fast food chain and assessed the ailing business from top to bottom. Executives decided to abandon Burger King’s outdated strategy of courting young men with calorie -packed monstrosities like the Enormous Omelet and the Burger King Stacker and instead play to a much broader audience. Among the items launched Monday were coffee frappes, fruit smoothies, specialty salads and snack wraps. The additions mimic many of the popular rollouts in recent years by McDonald’s Corp, which has solidified its position as the nation’s No 1 fast food chain by recasting itself as a hip, healthy place to eat. Daniel Schwartz, Burger King’s chief financial officer, said the company’s growth strategy will not

change and that Burger King will continue to focus on strengthening its brand at home and abroad. He said there will be no changes to the senior leadership as a result of the company going public. “We believe that Burger King’s aggressive plans for international growth will benefit from its visibility as a NYSE-listed public company,” said Nicolas Berggruen, one of Justice Holding’s founders. The deal is just the latest change for Burger King, which has undergone a series of owners over the

SPRINGFIELD: A diner enjoys a meal at a Burger King restaurant in Springfield, Ill. — AP

Nissan aims higher than 10% of US auto market NEW YORK: Renault-Nissan is aiming for more than a 10 percent share of the US auto market, the alliance’s boss Carlos Ghosn said on the heels of encouraging sales figures. “ We want to reach 10 percent then we will set a goal” for a bigger market share, “but first we need to reach (10%) for more than one consecutive month,” said Carlos Ghosn, RenaultNissan Alliance’s chief executive. He spoke with AFP before the rollout at the 2012 New York International Auto Show of what Nissan is advertising as New York’s taxi of the future. Nissan’s figures released Tuesday show its US sales rose 12.5 percent in March compared with a year earlier to 136,317 units, or what the company calls “a record month in company history.” Nissan held sixth place in the US auto market in March, beating Honda, whose sales fell 8.4 percent to 126,999 units. Nissan controlled 9.7 percent of the US market share in March, surpassing Honda’s 9 percent and beating Honda for the first time in the United States, according to the consulting firm Autodata. General Motors posted figures showing it held 16.4 percent of the US market in March, compared with 15.9 percent for Ford, 14.5 percent for Toyota and 11.4 percent for Chr ysler. N issan’s figures for the United States did not compensate for falling sales in Europe, Ghosn said. “Our primar y market is the Chinese market, then the Japanese market followed by the American market,” he said. The par tnership relies heavily on sales growth in

years. In 1967, The Pillsbury Co. bought it for $18 million; then in 1988 Grand Metropolitan PLC bought Pillsbury for $5.79 billion. About a decade later, Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to create a new company called Diageo PLC. That company announced its plans to spin off Burger King in 2000. Two years later, an equity group comprised of Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, purchased Burger King for $1.5 billion. The group took Burger King public in

developing countries, Ghosn said. “I do not expec t a restruc turing in Europe because the situation is frozen,” he said. “The results are bad in Europe. It really would be disturbing if it were to persist.” Asked about the alliance of rivals Renault, PSA Peugeot and General Motors, Ghosn said he would not be surprised if the companies cooperate in additional projects, which he said is “not a hazard but a reality.” “That’s why our alliance must continue to work to extract even more synergies,” he said. The Renault-Nissan Alliance has “no need” for additional partners but is willing to consider other business oppor tunities, Ghosn said. “ With eight million cars, we have the scale we need but if someone brings us interesting opportunities, we will take them,” he said. Among the oppor tunities the alliance is exploring is the US hybrid market. “I think it will grow in the United States” as supplies of hybrids increase and gasoline prices rise, Ghosn said. Meanwhile, it was new models of New York taxis that brought Ghosn to a meeting with repor ters in New York . N issan has been chosen to replace all 13,000 New York taxis with its modified commercial vans. “For Nissan to be chosen as the sole provider of New York taxi cabs, it means we really had to show a produc t that is superior,” Ghosn said. “We’re very proud of this product.” He said about 600,000 people per day would ride in the taxis. — AFP

2006 before it was bought by 3G Capital and taken private in 2010. Darren Tristano, an analyst with food industry researcher Technomic Inc, has said that part of McDonald’s success has stemmed from the company’s steady leadership over the years, while Burger King has likely suffered from the constant changing of hands. Justice Holdings, the latest stakeholders, completed its initial public offering just 14 months ago with the objective to invest in a company. Among Justice’s founders are William Ackman, an activist investor and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management; Martin Franklin, founder and executive chairman of consumer products company Jarden Corp.; Alan Parker, former CEO of Whitbread PLC, the United Kingdom’s largest hotel and restaurant company; and investor Berggruen. In a statement issued by Burger King, Berggruen said that Justice considered several investment opportunities before settling on Burger King. He said the fast food chain stood out because of its position in the restaurant industry and its “strong heritage and an aggressive transformation underway” in North America. The unusual structure of the deal gives the Burger King’s owners, 3G Capital, instant access to cash, said Francis Gaskins, president of the research site “ They didn’t have to go through the time-consuming process of doing an IPO,” he said. Justice is already publically held and will simply move the trading of its shares to the New York Stock Exchange, he noted. As part of the deal, Franklin and Parker will join Burger King’s board when the deal closes. Investment funds managed by Pershing Square will own about 10 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, which they will receive as a result of their stake in Justice. — AP

Oil slips towards $124 US crude stocks up 7.8 million barrels LONDON: Oil prices dipped towards $124 a barrel yesterday on worries demand for crude could be curtailed after the US central bank dashed hopes of further economic stimulus and news Saudi Arabia would likely keep output high in the event of a stock release. Industry data showing a larger-than-expected rise in crude inventories in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer, also pressured prices, but losses were capped by further disruption in exports from the North Sea. Brent crude futures fell by 40 cents to $124.46 a barrel by 0940 GMT, after earlier touching a low of $124.23. US crude futures lost 79 cents to $103.22, after falling by more than $1 in the previous session. Oil prices have been volatile this week in thin volumes, analysts said, with Brent rallying by two percent on Monday alone but falling by nearly 1 percent the next day. “We expect yet another jittery trading session today as volumes remain light with both benchmarks stuck below this week’s highs,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov at VTB Capital in a note. Minutes from the Federal Reserve policymakers’ meeting in March released overnight revealed reduced appetite for further quantitative easing amid timid improvements in the US economy. “QE has had a clear effect on some of the commodity markets over the last few years,” said the head of Natixis’ commodity research Nic Brown. Between the Fed’s announcement of a second round of quantitative easing in November 2010 until its end in June 2011, Brent futures rallied by around

35 percent. “It’s no surprise that with the Fed dampening hopes of QE, gold is down this morning. Its effect on oil markets has been less pervasive but still important,” Brown added. In the absence of further money printing, the US dollar index inched up. A stronger dollar can render greenback denominated commodities such as gold and oil more expensive to other currency holders. In Europe, eyes were on auctions from struggling southern euro zone members, with Spain targeting a bond issue of around 3.5 billion euros ($4.65 billion), while Portugal looked to issue its longest-dated debt since it took a bailout. “The outcome could be a good indicator of market sentiment: it could be a sign of whether the market believes if the sovereign debt crisis is over or not, and could impact risk appetite or aversion,” said Commerzbank’s Carsten Fritsch. SUPPLY ISSUES Oil prices were also pressured after industry sources said Saudi Arabia was likely to maintain high oil production if consumer countries released strategic oil reserves, but would not seek to lure buyers for more oil by discounting its crude. “We look at what the Saudis are doing and believe they’re genuine in their effort to bring prices back down from recent highs,” Natixis’ Brown said. “They made a tactical mistake in 2011 in not appreciating that IEA (International Energy Agency) countries would release stocks, and this time around they’re ensuring they’re the arbiter.” Overnight in the United States, data from industry group

BAGHDAD: An employee works at the Tawke oil field in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region has halted oil exports over a payment row with the central government in Baghdad, causing further deterioration in relations between the two administrations. — AP American Petroleum Institute (API) showed crude oil inventories in the country rose by 7.8 million barrels in the week to March 30, a much larger increase than expected. The US Energy Information Administration’s crude inventory report is due out today. Despite the drive to flush more oil into the market, actual and potential disruptions continue to put a floor under prices,

with at least seven cargoes of North Sea Forties crude loading in April being delayed following production problems. A ban on European insurance cover for Iranian oil exports from July 1 is also threatening to curtail shipments and raise costs for major buyers. Japan and South Korea have lobbied for exemptions, but insurance and shipping executives say a complete ban now looks likely. — Reuters

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 .4390000 .3640000 .3020000 .2780000 .2830000 .0040000 .0020000 .0753770 .7343730 .3830000 .0710000 .7199210 .0040000 .0430000

.2810000 .4480000 .3720000 .3120000 .2860000 .2950000 .0070000 .0035000 .0761340 .7471540 .4000000 .0760000 .7271560 .0072000 .0500000

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES US Dollar/KD .2776500 .2797500 GB Pound/KD .4410610 .4443970 Euro .3662340 .3690040 Swiss francs .3041740 .3064750 Canadian dollars .2798890 .2820060 Danish Kroner .0492220 .0495940 Swedish Kroner .0416450 .0419600 Australian dlr .2852440 .2874010 Hong Kong dlr .0357550 .0360250 Singapore dlr .2207430 .2224120 Japanese yen .0033580 .0033840 Indian Rs/KD .0000000 .0055130 Sri Lanka rupee .0000000 .0022340 Pakistan rupee .0000000 .0031070 Bangladesh taka .0000000 .0034340 UAE dirhams .0756230 .0761950 Bahraini dinars .7367650 .7423380 Jordanian dinar .0000000 .3956860 Saudi Riyal/KD .0740600 .0746200 Omani riyals .7214500 .7269070 Philippine Peso .0000000 .0065820

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. Currency

Rate per 1000 (Tran)

US Dollar Pak Rupees

278.800 3.083

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

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

5.480 2.220 3.409 6.550 75.995 74.495 741.200 46.135 449.900 3.190 1.550 373.600 286.800 3.510

Rate for Transfer

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 *Rates are subject to change

5.700 2.600 4.000 3.250 76.50 740.00 47.20 394.50 725.00 77.25 74.95

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

Al Mulla Exchange Currency

5.466 2.216 3.420 3.087 75.87 741.73 46.14 396.71 724.71 76.89 74.46

278.450 370.700 445.300 283.000 3.395 5.465 46.125 2.212 3.410 6.510 3.070 741.600 75.850 74.350

UAE Exchange Centre WLL COUNTRY



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

290.45 284.05 308.55 368.76 445.33 3.46 3.404

294.00 284.50 309.00 371.50 446.75 3.70 3.650

Selling Rate

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

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

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

GOLD 10 Tola




Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka

290.500 741.730 3.630

289.000 741.730 3.406

284.700 547.800 45.500 50.400 167.800 47.370 372.400 36.630 5.760 0.032 0.159 0.238 3.470 395.250 0.189 93.260 45.800 4.290 231.500 1.807 49.800 724.450 3.180 6.830 77.150 74.470 223.290 39.130 2.657 447.300 43.600 309.700 4.200 9.390 198.263 76.040 279.300 1.340

Sterling Pound US Dollar

1,719.840 TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 445.300 278.900


223.300 46.181 370.900 36.480 5.470 0.031

395.210 0.188 93.260 3.440 230.000 724.270 3.091 6.530 76.720 74.470 223.290 39.130 2.218 445.300 308.200 4.200 9.210 75.940 278.900




UK credit unions growing despite FSA censure New legislation supports credit union sector LONDON: Britain’s credit unions, dealt a blow last week when a watchdog censured two industry members, are confident they will continue to grow as increasing numbers of cash-strapped Britons find themselves shut out by the country’s top banks. The Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL) said the most recent figures from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulator showed that UK credit unions were managing 703 million pounds ($1.1 billion) worth of savings on behalf of more than 950,000 people, as of the end of September 2011. They also had 570 million pounds worth of loans, representing an increase from 690 million pounds worth of savings and 560 million pounds out on loan as of the end of

June, although the sector is still only used by around 3 percent of the British population. The sector suffered a hit last week when the FSA censured two Glasgow-based credit unions. It said Pollok Credit Union had jeopardized its own solvency and the interests of its members by making large loans to a non-member, while Shettleston & Tollcross Credit Union made loans to its directors on terms better than those given to others. ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette defended the industry in light of the FSA’s censure, saying it still played a vital role to the broader community in giving out loans to those often refused credit by mainstream banks. “A public censure has been accepted by the credit union for making a loan which it

did not have the power to grant. During the subsequent investigation the credit union co-operated fully with the FSA and acted quickly to rectify its actions,” he said. IN FAVOUR WITH POLITICIANS British regulators have raised concerns over the so-called “shadow banking” sector - a term used to refer to companies which do not have bank licenses but often undertake the same activities as them, for example in issuing loans. One area where politicians have pushed for tougher regulation is payday loan companies, which critics say risk dragging ordinary people down into a debt spiral. But credit unions have had a more favorable reaction from politicians,

who pushed through legislation at the start of this year to broaden their range of services, such as by allowing them to pay interest on savings instead of just a dividend. British member of parliament Damian Hinds, who chairs an all-party parliamentary group on credit unions, said politicians were keen to see the sector grow. “ They have an ethos. They’re community-based and they’re generally trying to do a little bit of good in the world,” said Conservative Party MP Hinds. Credit unions differ from mutually-owned savings societies such as Nationwide in that they have a far smaller mortgage business and typically offer much smaller loans than are readily available from larger banks and building societies. The majority of the money they

lend comes from members’ savings and they tend not to tap financial markets for capital. The biggest credit union is the Glasgow Credit Union, while the British capital has the London Mutual Credit Union. Despite the FSA’s censure last week on the two Glasgow unions, independent financial adviser Robert Ward - who is business development manager at Bank House Investment Management Limited - said he would be happy to recommend them to clients. “We wouldn’t hesitate in recommending a smaller credit union that was offering a decent deposit rate, so long as you could see the safety net behind it.” “Anything which gives competition on the High Street to the major banks has to be a good idea.”—Reuters

Lufthansa hit; Frankfurt night flight ban upheld Lufthansa shares down 4%, Fraport down 2%

WASHINGTON: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde listens as US President Barack Obama speaks during the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) Convention in Washington, DC. —AFP

IMF chief wants ‘more firepower’ WASHINGTON: The managing director of the International Monetary Fund has made an impassioned plea for American leadership in the global economy as she called for the international community to give her organization “more firepower” to bolster tottering countries. Christine Lagarde told the annual meeting of The Associated Press that last week’s move by euro zone countries to boost their own rescue fund has strengthened her case to appeal to other large economies to expand the IMF’s financial war chest. “We certainly need more resources,” she said, without specifying how much more was needed. Lagarde said the IMF would address that question at its spring meeting in two weeks. The IMF has about $400 billion in resources that it can use to provide loans to countries in trouble. Lagarde has talked about expanding those resources to close to $1 trillion. The 17 countries that use the euro already have promised to provide $200 billion of that amount. Though the United States is the IMF’s largest shareholder, the Treasury Department has not asked Congress for new IMF funding and will face opposition from Republicans if it does. Lagarde argues that the IMF’s ability to rescue economies in Europe and elsewhere has a direct bearing on the US economy. She said Europe’s faltering would quickly spread, and the US economic recovery, slowly gaining strength, “might well be in jeopardy.” “America has a large stake” in how Europe and the rest of the world fares, Lagarde said. Lagarde said the global economy is making some advances in digging itself out of the worst downturn in decades, but the recovery remains partic-

ularly fragile in Europe. She suggested cutting government spending too quickly in developed countries like the United States and larger European nations could make things worse, not better. Policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic need “breathing space to finish the job,” she said. As the world’s largest economy, the United States could not shirk its outsized role in the global economy, Lagarde said. “The world needs US economic leadership,” she said. “Now is not the time to retire; now is not the time to withdraw; now is not the time to phase out. Now is the time to engage.” Lagarde’s remarks came after the eurozone countries on Friday boosted their emergency bailout funds for heavily indebted countries to $1.1 trillion. That was short of the $1.3 trillion that Lagarde and other international leaders have said is needed to calm financial markets. Since the Europeans have moved first to raise their firewall, “the time has come to increase our firepower,” she said Tuesday. While short of what the IMF had hoped for, it was a good first step that she said the IMF could work with. Lagarde also suggested that bold steps are needed such as those taken by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to help keep growth strong and steady. And she said that most countries are running deficits that are too high and “need to bring down debt over time.” And while “some countries under pressure have no choice but to cut deficits today ... a global undifferentiated rush to austerity will prove self-defeating. Countries like the United States with low costs of borrowing should not move too quickly.” —AP

BoE to stick with low interest rate LONDON: The Bank of England is forecast to keep its main interest rate at a record-low 0.50 percent and maintain its level of cash stimulus when it meets today, as Britain stands close to recession. Since the BoE’s last monetary policy meeting in March, official data has revealed that Britain’s economy contracted by a worsethan-expected 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Another contraction in gross domestic product in the first three months of 2012 would place Britain back in recession, which is defined as two successive negative quarters. Official first-quarter GDP data is published this month. To aid Britain’s recovery, the BoE’s nine policymakers in February voted to lift the central bank’s quantitative easing (QE), or stimulus program, by £50 billion to £325 billion (388 billion euros, $514 billion). The BoE main lending rate has stood at 0.50 percent since March 2009, when the central bank also began to inject the economy with £200 billion under the radical QE policy. Under QE, the central bank creates new cash that is used to purchase assets such as government and corporate bonds in the hope of boosting lending by retail banks and in turn growing the economy. “The BoE meets today this week and we expect no change in either interest rates or in asset purchases,” said research director Kathleen Brooks at trading site

“However, we believe that the deterioration in economic data along with the fiscal consolidation program being implemented by the government means that the bank will need to do more QE in May.” The BoE had voted unanimously at its last meeting in March to maintain the level of the central bank’s main interest rate, but policymakers David Miles and Adam Posen also wanted to increase QE funds by £25 billion. “The MPC appears increasingly divided between those members who want to provide the economy with more stimulus and those who think that they have now done enough,” said Vicky Redwood, an analyst at the Capital Economics consultancy. “For now, the doves seem to be in the minority. And the extra quantitative easing started in February is not finished yet anyway. But we still think that further asset purchases are likely to be announced later this year.” Britain has been hit hard by the combined impact of painful state austerity measures, elevated oil prices and the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in key trading partner the eurozone. The OECD think-tank last week said it believed that Britain was already back in recession, in contrast to the British Chambers of Commerce, which has cited an “encouraging” pick-up in economic activity in the past three months. —AFP

FRANKFURT: A German court yesterday ruled in favor of a night flight ban at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest, dealing a blow to German flagship airline Lufthansa and airport operator Fraport. Lufthansa, which says night flights are crucial for its cargo operations and to compete with fast-growing Gulf airports, said the decision would have serious consequences for Germany as a place to do business and would result in Frankfurt airport losing out to rivals. “This threatens to clip the wings of not only Frankfurt and (its home state of ) Hesse, but the whole of Germany as an export and transport nation,” Lufthansa Chief Executive Christoph Franz said, adding he would continue to make a case for night flights. The judge said he was banning night flights between 11pm and 5 am after the state of Hesse made mistakes in deciding to allow 17 flights during those hours without proper consultation with stakeholders when approving expansion of the airport. The judge said the state could now make a new decision on night flights, but warned there was little room for maneuver. Local transport minister Dieter Posch said Hesse said the state would implement the ban “100 percent” and not push for night flights. The ruling hurt shares in Lufthansa and Fraport, with Lufthansa down 4.2 percent at 1103 GMT, while Fraport was down 2.3 percent. Along with a total ban from 11 pm to 5 am, the Leipzig court also reduced the number of flights permitted in the period covering the so-called shoulder hours from 10 pm to 6 am to 133 from 150 in a case brought by local residents over the noise from the airport. Opposers of noise pollution welcomed the ruling, with the Green party in the neighboring state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where thousands of people live under flight paths, calling for the federal government to implement a nationwide ban. A spokesman for the federal transport ministry said it saw no need for a nationwide ban on night flights. PEOPLE POWER The Rhineland-Palatinate ministry for interior affairs, sport and infrastructure also praised the

efforts of the residents in making their case heard. A rising tide of people power in Germany also forced a rare referendum on plans to build a huge rail station in the southwestern city of Stuttgart. Industry groups said the decision puts Frankfurt at a distinct disadvantage to rival airports in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Dubai, which all allow night flights. At London’s Heathrow for example, 17 flights are allowed between 11 pm and 6 am, with restrictions on

during the winter but admitted last month this had not worked and said it would be impossible to relocate from its Frankfurt hub, where it also uses the belly space in Lufthansa passenger aircraft. At a hearing last month, the judge had indicated mistakes had been made in the approval process for the new runway, under which a mediator proposed a night flight ban, before the local government unilaterally decided to

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Airplanes stand at the airport in Frankfurt, western Germany. A German court upheld yesterday a ban on night flights at Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third-busiest. —AFP the type of aircraft permitted. German tourism association DRV said the decision would also hit tourism hard. Many tour operators use the shoulder hours for flights to fly holiday-loving Germans to sunny destinations. Lufthansa Cargo, which has warned future investment plans of up to 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) are at stake, had previously said a permanent ban would cost it up to 40 million euros in lost earnings a year. Lufthansa’s cargo arm, which had a 2011 operating profit of 249 million euros, had switched flights to Cologne

allow 17 flights. Yesterday, the judge backed a temporary ruling made by a court of lower instance in October, which came just as Frankfurt’s new fourth runway was opened. Since then, thousands of people have attended regular Monday protests at the airport calling for the ban to be extended by two hours each night and for the new runway to be shut down. Airport operator Fraport welcomed the fact that the judge had allowed flights in the shoulder hours and said it would implement the ruling as quickly as possible. —Reuters

US to notch up 4th month of job growth WASHINGTON: The US economy likely notched up a fourth month of solid job growth in March, which would lower the need for the Federal Reserve to offer additional monetary stimulus to spur faster economic growth. Businesses outside the farm sector are expected to have added 203,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey, after nonfarm payrolls rose 227,000 in February. The unemployment rate is seen holding at a three-year low of 8.3 percent for a third straight month. That would mark the longest stretch of nonfarm employment gains topping 200,000 since 1999. The Labor Department will release its closely watched employment report tomorrow at 8:30 am EST. The employment repor t will come on the heels of minutes of the US central bank’s March meeting which showed policymakers less inclined to launch a third round of bond purchases or quantitative easing to further stimulate the economy. Hopes of more policy easing had been fanned by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments last week, expressing doubts recent gains in the labor market that pushed the jobless rate down by 0.8 percent point since August could be sustained as this was achieved against the backdrop of weak economic growth. “We are going to have a good report in March, that could weaken a little bit as we move into the rest of the year,” said Paul Edelstein, a senior US economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington Massachusetts. A fourth successive month of hefty employment gains could bring a smile for President Barack Obama who faces a tough re-election in

November. Employment creation has accelerated in recent months, with the three-month average in February exceeding 200,000 jobs for the second consecutive month, the first time this has happened since April 2006. ESCAPE VELOCITY REACHED If the March report does print

nomic research at J H Cohn in Roseland, New Jersey. The jobs market has received some lift from an unusually mild winter, which is expected to unwind in the coming months. There are already signs of slowing momentum, with new applications for jobless benefits not declining by as much as early in the year.

WASHINGTON: A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to the US Chamber of Commerce building in Washington. US businesses added fewer jobs than expected in March, though job creation in prior months was revised higher, data from payrolls firm ADP showed yesterday. —AFP 200,000 or more jobs, analysts said it will show that the labor market has vaulted to a higher plain and economic growth is firming. “It suggests that the jobs recovery has finally achieved ‘escape velocity’ and if the recent three-month average pace is sustained, employment will regain its pre-recession level early in 2014,” said Patrick O’Keefe, head of eco-

The employment report will be scrutinized for signs that would validate Bernanke’s theory that a large portion of the joblessness is due to insufficient demand rather than a mismatch of skills, as most private economists argue. “An important amount of unemployment we are now facing is indeed structural. There is a bias. If Bernanke admits that the structural

component of unemployment is important he loses reason to act with monetary policy,” said Adolfo Laurenti, deputy chief economist, Mesirow Financial in Chicago. “He does not want to do that, he wants to continue to support to the economy.” Economists say evidence of structural unemployment can be seen in the high 8.3 percent unemployment rate and the proportion of Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. The latter remains above 40 percent. The jobless rate also could stay above 8 percent throughout this year, if Americans who had given up the search for work are encouraged by better numbers and resume their hunt. Part of the decline in the unemployment rate has been due to a fall in the labor force participation rate - the percentage of working-age Americans either with a job or looking for one - to near 29-year lows. The labor force participation rate rose in February by the most since April 2010.The private sector is expected to account for all the job gains last month, adding 218,000 new positions. Government is expected to see a seventh straight month of employment losses, but the pace is slowing. Manufacturing is expected to report another month of strong job gains, thanks to stepped-up auto production as carmakers try to meet pent-up demand for motor vehicles. Construction payrolls, which had benefited from the warm winter weather, before dropping in February is a wild card. Elsewhere, gains are expected in healthcare and temporary help categories, in line with recent trends. Average hourly earnings are seen rising 0.2 percent, but the workweek is seen steady at a 3-1/2 year high of 34.5 hours for a fourth straight month. —Reuters



KSE closes in red zone Global Daily Market Report KUWAIT: Kuwait Stock Exchange closed in red zone during yesterday session, KSE Price Index closed on its lowest since three week, reducing YTD gains to 5.92 percent. Most of GCC markets track global equity weakness after the latest US Federal Open Market Committee minutes dampened expectations of more stimulus measures for the world’s biggest economy. MARKET INDICES The market benchmark KSE Price Index was down by 20.6 points (or -0.33 percent), and closed at 6,158.6. The market’s heavy-weights performed poorly during the day as highlighted by a 1.09 percent drop in the market’s blue chips-rich index, Global Large Cap Index. However, decliners topped advancers by a 49 to 28 margin, driving the Global General Index down by 0.64 percent, at 178.41. KSE Weighted Index too was down, reflecting the trend. The index closed at 413.35, down by 2.68 points (or 0.64 percent). DAILY TRADING ACTIVITY Trading activities were mixed during the session as investors exchanged 374.17mn shares (3.14 percent) at a total value of KD43.77mn (+12.06 percent). Real estate sector accounted for 27.97 percent of total volume traded during today’s session, followed by services sector which accounted for 25.58 percent of total shares traded on the exchange. Gulf Finance House was the volume leader today, with 40.44mn shares changing hands. The scrip ended today’s session unchanged at KD0.061. GFH denied media reports regarding Credit Suisse Securities Company buying 15 percent of the bank’s shares and announced that the company has

bought 15 percent of the bank’s shares that are listed on Dubai Financial Market, which increases its stake to 2.7 percent in the bank. TOP GAINERS AND BIGGEST DECLINERS In terms of top gainers, Al-Kout Industrial Projects Company was the top gainer for the day, adding 22.06 percent. On the other side, Kuwait Cable Vision Company was the biggest loser, as its share price fell by 7.94 percent to close at KD0.058.

SECTORS-WISE Sector-wise, all the indices went down today, except for Global Insurance Index, which was left unchanged for the day to stay at 44.17 points. On the other side, Global Food Index being the top decliner for the day, shedding 1.1 percent to reach 348.25 points. Kuwait Foodstuff Company (Americana) and Danah Al Safat Foodstuff Company dropped 1.39 percent and 1 percent respectively during today’s session. Global Banking Index was the second biggest decliner dropping

0.90 percent to reach 317.93 points. Heavyweight National Bank of Kuwait falls 1.9 percent, Gulf Bank dips 1.3 percent and Al Ahli Bank sheds 3.2 percent. Four of the 10 largest stocks end lower. Elsewhere, Kuwait International Bank was among gainer list, adding 9.62 percent to close at KD0.285. Global Non Kuwaiti Index was the third biggest decliner dropping 0.72 percent to reach 42.36 points. The index’s drop was caused by heavyweights United Gulf Bank shedding 5.32 percent and Ithmaar Bank dropping 3.77 percent.

World stocks down 0.8% Shares, euro fall as Fed stimulus hopes fade LONDON: Stocks and the euro fell yesterday after the US Federal Reserve dimmed hopes for fresh asset-buying, further underlining its divergence with an embattled Europe that faces recession and remains firmly in crisis-fighting mode. Overnight minutes from the Fed’s March meet showed less support for more quantitative easing (QE), or bondbuying, in the face of improved economic data, which buoyed the dollar and hit stocks in both the United States and Asia. With Europe still battling its debt crisis and struggling with economic growth, the focus later will be on the European Central Bank’s latest rate-setting meeting, with rates expected to remain on hold at 1 percent. Sagging orders kept euro zone businesses in the doldrums in March, probably pushing the region into a mild recession, Markit’s Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), suggested yesterday. The Asian weakness extended into early European trade with the FTSEurofirst 300 down 0 .5 percent and world stocks down 0.8 percent at 080 9 G MT. Emerging markets stocks, meanwhile, were 1 percent lower. “Additional QE and/or extension of the current ‘operation twist’ program have been a central focus for financial markets in recent months, but the overnight release of the latest (Fed) meeting minutes appeared to douse these expectations,” Cameron Peacock, market analyst at IG Index said in a note. “The result was predictable - an initial sharp sell-off in equities, a spike higher in the (dollar) and a corresponding slump in commodities and risk currencies. European markets were closed by the time the minutes were released and will have some losses to catch up with when they open.” Early moves in the euro were also weak as a result of the Fed action, with the single currency down 0 .4 percent against the dollar an d the yen. The greenback climbed 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies. “The market is moving on reduced probability of further QE i n the nearterm and that’s helping to support the US dollar across the board,” said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. “The euro is likely to

adjust lower on the back of the euro z one economy underperforming which will require the ECB to run a loose policy stance. There could potentially be a slightly more dovish stance from the ECB today and that contrast with the Fed will provide euro/dollar with some downward momentum.” ECB MOVES EYED The softening in US central bank support for fresh stimulus is unlikely to be mirrored by the ECB, which should maintain a supportive stance in the face of inflation concerns. Bund futures sold off in early deals before paring losses to trade down 0.1 percent, tracking overnight moves in US Treasuries in response to the Fed minutes, and attention will now shift to the ECB meeting and two fresh sales of peripheral euro zone debt. Spain, in the bond-market spotlight as concerns around its finances and economic outlook grow, is set to see its borrowing costs jump at auctions of up to 3.5 billion euros in paper, while Portugal also comes to market to sell 18-month Tbills. “It’s going to be a struggle, especially for Spain,” said a trader. “I don’t see any compelling reason to buy Spain at the moment.” Spanish and Italian benchmark government debt yields rose slightly ahead of the auctions. On Tuesday, Spain, which recently announced fresh budget, as it slides back into recession, said its debt level is on course to reach a 22-year high. Spain’s large service sector continued to contract in March, albeit at a slower pace, data yesterday showed, propelling the euro zone laggard towards a technical recession, after its economy contracted in the last quarter of 2011. Data from Italy also showed contraction and French data showed a stagnation in the euro zone’s secondbiggest economy as it gears up for presidential elections - broad weakness that suggests the euro zone as a whole is in recession. Among commodities, Brent crude oil, the European benchmark, was down at around $124 a barrel on the Fed comments, while gold was also slightly lower, at around $1,642.66 an ounce.— Reuters



Sierra Leone diamond firm: From war booty to IPO KOIDU: Sierra Leone’s only pit diamond mine has come far from its origins as wartime booty presented to mercenaries by a grateful military junta. Seventeen years and several changes of ownership later, Koidu Holdings is selling gems in outlets such as US jeweler Tiffany & Co and considering a possible public listing, which could raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fund expansion. While burnt-out houses surrounding the mine in the eastern town of Koidu serve as a reminder of the West African country’s 11-year civil war, which claimed some 50,000 lives before it ended in 2002, Koidu’s managers see the operation as a success story that augurs a better future for Sierra Leoneans. “Conditions and the circumstances were completely different then from what they are today,” said Chief Executive Jan Joubert, who is directing a $200 million expansion to more than quadruple output by July. “The way we do things is an example of the way things could and should be done in Sierra Leone,” Joubert told Reuters. The company has been owned since 2007 by billionaire Israeli diamond trader Beny Steinmetz’s BSG Resources. Joubert said a possible IPO was under discussion but declined to comment on media reports that Koidu is considering a flotation in Hong Kong, which would raise up to $400 million in the first listing there of an African company. Industry analysts say a Hong Kong listing could attract strong interest from capital-heavy Chinese investors keen for exposure to Africa, even while the volatility typically associated with diamond shares puts off others. “China is the fastest growing new consumer market for diamonds in the world,” said Peter Major, mining consultant at Johannesburg-based Cadiz

Corporate Solutions. “And the Chinese are just a lot more prepared to invest in Africa than the Americans and the Europeans.” PAYMENT FOR FIGHTING REBELS Koidu operates the country’s only operating kimberlite diamond mine, which involves deep underground excavation into diamond-bearing rock. Managers and local defenders say it is helping develop the community in the town, where Lebanese-owned diamond-buying houses dominate the streets. Koidu Holdings currently provides 2,707 jobs, including 1,039 permanent positions and 1,668 contractors. That’s out of Koidu’s population of over 80,000 in 2004, when the UN and EU funded a census, and the population is likely to have increased since then. Some locals say they have not seen their lives improved. “They have taken all the land where we used to get diamonds, and we have not got any benefit,” said 44-year-old Khomba Fillie. Sierra Leone’s civil war was partially funded by “blood diamonds”, which individual miners sifted from mud and gravel by using shovels or bare hands. According to former junta leader Valentine Strasser, the Koidu concession was awarded in 1995 by the National Provisional Ruling Council junta as a part-payment to military contractor Executive Outcomes (EO), via its investment arm Branch Energy, for its help in fighting Revolutionary United Front rebels. EO was composed largely of former South African military personnel who had fought border wars under the white minority government in Pretoria before the end of apartheid in 1994. Strasser, who was deposed in 1996 and now lives with his mother outside Freetown, said he discussed the

concession with Tony Buckingham, a British-born businessman and once a partner in EO. He now runs Heritage Oil, which has operations in Africa, the Middle East and Russia. Strasser said Buckingham played a central role as a broker in the EO deal. A Heritage spokesman declined to comment. Joubert, 43, and six of his current employees formerly worked for military contractor EO in Sierra Leone and Angola. Joubert confirmed that Buckingham had been involved with EO and Branch Energy but said he did not know whether the award of the Koidu concession was in payment for services in fighting rebels. In the late 1990s rebels destroyed equipment at the Koidu mine site. Several changes of name and ownership took place before Koidu Holdings started operations in 2003, the year after the end of hostilities. It began production in 2004, with a plant that could process 50 tons of hour per hour and a lease covering 4.9 square kilometers. Joubert said BSG Resources’ total investment in Koidu Holdings projects so far exceeds $300 million. Output has risen to 10,000 carats per month, and the mine sells 60 percent of its output to Tiffany’s, which has also contributed $50 million to the current expansion. Koidu plans over the next six years to invest an additional $1 billion in Sierra Leone, Joubert said. SHOOTINGS AND RELOCATIONS Despite its bullish prospects, the Koidu operation has been dogged by controversy and incident. In December 2007 armed Sierra Leone police, who were paid a retainer by the company for security, killed two local people. A nine-month suspension of operations

followed. The company reassessed its activities and chose to build a new plant, with a capacity of 180 tons of ore per hour and an annual production target of 550,000 carats. The $200 million expansion is in its final stages, with output increasing in May and reaching its target level two months later. Local non-government organizations said that in the run-up to the 2007 incident Koidu Holdings dragged its feet in relocating people out of houses near shafts that blasting had made unsafe and in building new houses for them. “They were doing them very slowly,” said Patrick Tongu, district manager of the Network Movement for Justice and Development in Koidu. Joubert rejected this position and said interference by NGOs had slowed the resettlement program. The company said that as of March 1, 330 households were resettled, and the remaining 713 households would be moved by the second quarter of 2013. A total of 13,734 people are involved, according to the most recently concluded study. The paramount chief, who sits on Koidu Holding’s board in a non-executive position, sees benefits for the local people. “First and foremost, it’s providing employment opportunities for the people of this chiefdom and beyond and also transferring skills,” Paul Ngaba Saquee V, once a truck driving instructor in the United States, told Reuters. Not far away from Koidu, meanwhile, a gang of men shovel mud and sift it for diamonds under the merciless sun - the same kind of operation that funded rebels during the civil war. “I have no job, only talent,” said 25-year-old Alpha Koroma, who came from Freetown last year. “So I find myself in Kono (the district around Koidu) to find diamonds.”— Reuters

ECB holds rates as growth and inflation paths diverge Spain woes highlight risk of crisis flaring up again

BEIJING: A man walks out from a bank outlet in Beijing. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has called for the break-up of a banking ‘monopoly’ on lending that has squeezed private businesses as the global economy slows, state media reported. — AFP

Low cost era over for Chinese workshops Workers have more choice, more power TAIPEI: Foxconn Technology’s agreement to improve the lot of its 1.2 million workers in China who make Apple Inc’s iPads and iPhones is a signal that China is losing its title as the world’s lowest-cost producer of everything. It is not a pure economic argument, but an ethical one too that is gaining momentum following Apple’s unprecedented decision to allow the largest investigation ever into a US company’s operations abroad. And after years of squeezing the profit margins of contract manufacturers making the gadgets beloved by consumers worldwide, the time is drawing nearer when big brand names may have to forego some of their profits to overcome criticism their products are built off the back of mistreated Chinese workers. “The time of low costs and cheap labor in China has come to an end,” said Jay Huang, chief financial officer of Taiwan’s Wintek, a maker of touch panels for Apple and other brands with annual revenues last year of some $3 billion. “People think the market should offer cheap products; in the past they came at the cost of cheap labor in China and workers’ rest time and welfare. But now we all agree that things have to improve, and as an ethical manufacturer we must improve the welfare of employees.” Wintek has boosted amenities for its workers, including the installation of video conferencing to call their families. Another Apple contract manufacturer, Pegatron, has reorganized some workers away from single-task jobs into multi-skilled teams. LANDMARK AGREEMENT In a landmark agreement last week, Apple and Foxconn agreed to tackle violations of conditions among the Chinese workers assembling the iconic gadgets of the American firm. Taiwan’s Foxconn, which also makes products for other names, including Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard and Sony Corp, agreed to the changes after the independent Free Labor Association surveyed three plants and 35,000 workers. Foxconn, whose subsidiary Hon Hai Precision Industry is the main assembler of Apple products in factories in China, will hire tens of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade workers’ accommodation and other amenities. Apple is not the first big brand to respond to criticism over how its products are made. Nike Inc made sweeping changes in the 1990s after being rocked by similar criticism. China’s economics and policy direction now suggest workers are a more powerful force though. Labor shortages and double-digit wage inflation give workers more choice. They are more likely to jump to another job to secure higher pay. The government has pledged to lift migrant factory workers wages to ease wealth inequalities in the country. In response, many manufacturers are shifting to cheaper inland regions to keep costs down. “What makes it different this time is that there are more internal reasons,” said

Zhigang Tao, professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Hong Kong. “In the past they were foreigners such as US labor groups who flagged awareness of China’s labor rights; but now the bigger driving force is from inside China - a rising yuan, social harmony and wealth redistribution.” China has to change from low-cost and pollutive production to further its development. “It’s a turning point for the whole country. It’s also part of the overall strategy to change to more domestic consumption and less exporting.” WHO PAYS? It remains to be seen how much major brands will give up so that their contract manufacturers can afford to upgrade conditions for workers. Critics say there is often a gap between the rhetoric of high-flying corporate social responsibility and actual practices on the ground. “In the past, there has been a brief moment of expose and outrage around revelations and promises are made. Then everything goes back to business as usual,” said Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff for the US AFL-CIO labor union group. Hon Hai’s results show it produced a profit margin in 2011 of 2.94 percent, down from more than 9 percent in 2001. Analysts say the profit margin on Apple contracts is possibly as much as 4 percent. A teardown costing of Apple’s iPad 2 by electronics market research firm IHS iSuppli shows a version that retails for $600 may cost less than $300 in components and just under $10 for manufacturing, leaving Foxconn with less than 2 percent of the retail price. “Even though I don’t expect dramatic changes, the critique right now helps contract makers to improve working environment,” said Charles Lin, chief financial officer of Pegatron, which also supplies Taiwan’s Acer Inc and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. “It’s a social problem, so it shouldn’t be just the contract makers’ job to bear the burden. They have to have enough profit before they can make the improvements.” HP Chief Executive Meg Whitman, for one, recognizes that Foxconn may have little room for maneuver on cost. “If Foxconn’s labor cost goes up ... that will be an industry-wide phenomenon and then we have to decide how much do we pass on to our customers versus how much cost do we absorb,” she told Reuters in February. Meanwhile, contract makers are looking for solutions. In two factories, Pegatron staff work in a group and rotate through multiple tasks rather than doing a repetitive task on a traditional conveyer line. “The pay is higher because of the multiple skills required in a worker, but then the productivity is also higher,” Lin said. Pegatron had revenues last year of almost $13 billion. As well as the video conferencing, Wintek has added new entertainment facilities in worker dormitories, including weight-training machines, pool tables, table tennis and audio facilities. It has even increased food choices, for example western-style breakfasts.—Reuters

FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank held interest rates at a record low of 1 percent yesterday and is expected to resist German pressure to flag an exit from its crisis-fighting mode as the euro zone recovery looks increasingly shaky and concerns grow about Spain. Germany’s powerful Bundesbank has led a push by central bankers from the euro zone’s core for the ECB to begin preparing an exit from crisis measures that have seen it loosen the rules for tapping ECB funding operations. Attention will now shift to ECB President Mario Draghi’s 1230 GMT news conference for any indications on whether the central bank is bending to the German-led pressure - an unlikely scenario as the euro zone economy remains in a fragile state. Commerzbank economist Michael Schubert said the ECB’s decision to hold its main interest rate at 1.0 percent was no surprise. Persistently high inflation and an economy flirting with recession are effectively cancel each other out. “After cutting interest rates only a few months ago, the ECB is now in wait-and-see mode, also to assess the impact of the three-year loans,” Schubert said. “It will take several months until this shows up in lending to the real economy.” The ECB has pumped over 1 trillion euros into the financial system with twin 3-year funding operations, or LTROs, to head off a credit crunch that late last year risked exacerbating the euro zone crisis and jeopardizing the currency project. The German-led group of policymakers is concerned that the wave of cash risks stoking inflation pressures. Euro zone inflation eased to 2.6 percent in March - above the ECB target of just below 2 percent and higher than expected - but the renewed worries about Spain mean the ECB cannot afford to signal a rate rise or an exit from the funding measures. “I think the situation is far too fragile for the ECB to meddle in exit strategies at the moment, especially if you look at Spain,” said Berenberg Bank’s Christian Schulz, a former ECB economist. “It’s clear the downtrend in yields on sovereign bonds was triggered by the LTROs. If the ECB were to say ‘well, actually now we’re thinking about exiting this strategy’, that would cause concern over whether these low interest rates are sustainable. That’s why I think they’ll be extremely cautious.” A rise in government bond buys by banks in Spain and Italy in February showed they were plying

the “Sarkozy trade” - a term adopted by markets after the French president suggested governments urge banks flush with ECB cash to buy their bonds. This trade helped push down yields on Spanish and Italian government bonds, but the renewed concerns about the public finances in Spain - the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy - have sent them higher again. Returns on Spain’s 10-year bonds fell to 4.65 percent in early February, after the first of the twin LTRO operations, but have since risen back to about 5.6 percent. Draghi will be grilled on how worried he is about the possibility of Spain having to request a bailout after the rise in its refinancing costs. Madrid is battling to convince European partners and debt markets it can rein in its budget deficit in the face of growing complaints from the public. The ECB believes it has done as much as it can to fight the crisis and Draghi has put the onus firmly on governments to act. They responded last week by agreeing to raise their financial firewall to 700 billion euros ($930 billion). The ECB is nonetheless concerned that its generous funding operations have made banks too

dependent, and wants to wean banks off such loans. The central bank has an ally on that issue in the European Banking Authority (EBA), which wants banks to stand on their own two feet and at its board meeting this week is trying to come up with ways to encourage them to do so. The bank dependency concerns and Spanish worries are playing out against a deteriorating economic backdrop across the euro zone. While Draghi said last month the worst of the crisis was over, the latest economic data show the economy stumbling again. Sagging orders kept euro zone businesses in the doldrums in March, probably pushing the region into a mild recession although companies became more confident that better times lie ahead, a survey showed earlier yesterday. The slump means that even though inflation has proved to be stickier than forecast, the ECB is not about to tighten policy any time soon. It had to reverse two rate rises last year as the crisis came back with a vengeance and will be careful not to repeat the mistake of abandoning its low-rate policy too soon. — Reuters

COPENHAGEN: President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi (center) seen at the start of the European Union Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting in Copenhagen. — AFP

Al Jaber gets 90% support for debt DUBAI: Abu Dhabi conglomerate Al Jaber Group is close to a standstill agreement on its $1-billion plus debt restructuring of debt, with more than 90 percent of lenders agreeing to the move, two sources said yesterday. Al Jaber, a family-owned group with operations in construction, aviation and retail, set up a creditor committee last year to negotiate the restructuring. It has not given a figure for its debt pile, believed to be more than $1 billion. A standstill on repaying the debt is seen as a vital step in the negotiating process, allowing Al Jaber to propose new terms for the facilities under discussion without the threat of legal action being launched against it by creditors. It would also allow the company to start reopening lines of credit and pitch for new contracts. “We are closer to a standstill; 90 percent of banks have agreed in principle,” said a banking source requesting anonymity. “It’s a complex situation - it has taken a while but there is progress.” —Reuters

HYDERABAD: Sikorsky India and South Asia executive vice president, Arvind Jeet Singh Walia (left) and Sikorsky vice president strategic partnerships Steve Estill pose at the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter cabin manufacturing facility at Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in Hyderabad. Tata Advanced Systems has set up a Greenfield manufacturing facility at the APIIC Aerospace and Precision Engineering Special Economic Zone in Hyderabad. The facility is export oriented, and the cabins manufactured will form the overall helicopter structure that Sikorsky will integrate and complete for its global S-92 aircraft customers. — AFP

US Federal Reserve stimulus wanes LONDON: Gold prices fell more than 1 percent to their lowest in nearly three months after minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s March meeting suggested a fresh round of monetary stimulus was unlikely as the US economy gradually improves. Ultra-loose monetary policy, which keeps real interest rates and consequently the opportunity cost of holding gold low, helped push the metal to record highs in 2011. Expectations the Fed would instigate another round of quantitative easing sent prices above $1,790 an ounce in February. But minutes of the central bank’s latest policy meeting published on Tuesday showed only two of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee’s 10 voting members saw the case for additional monetary stimulus. “The minutes by the Fed indicated that there would be no quantitative easing unless the economy takes a dip for the worse - gold immediately sold off on that and now the dollar is stronger too, so that’s weighing on gold,” said Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we push lower towards $1,600 - that is what we think is a floor and we are unlikely to fall substantially below that,” he said, adding that strong buying out of Asia was limiting the metal’s losses. Spot gold was down 1.2 percent at $1,625.30 an ounce at 1138 GMT, having earlier touched a low of $1,620.29, its weakest level since Jan 10. US gold futures for April delivery were down $44.80 an ounce at $1,627.10. De Wet said gold was likely to push higher longer-term and

would probably rise above $1,900 towards the end of the year. “We don’t see real interest rates positive this year ... We still think globally that monetary supply will continue to grow - maybe not to the same rate as it did but certainly it’s going to grow and these things are positive for gold. Gains in the dollar exerted pressure on gold as the Fed minutes helped push the US unit to a twoweek high against the euro yesterday. A stronger dollar tends to weigh on gold, which is priced in the US currency. World stocks and oil both fell after the Fed dimmed hopes for more asset-buying. “The Fed has a high bar for additional easing and investors should not really expect that the news flow will be conducive to the Fed putting in additional easing by the end of April or even June,” Wells Fargo Advantage Funds strategist Brian Jacobsen said after the minutes were released. A spate of better-than-expected economic data out of the US in recent weeks has curbed investor appetite for gold, which generally benefits from weak economic conditions due to its status as a safe haven and store of value during inflation. “The US economy seems to be somewhat on its own in terms of growth ‘ramp-up’ just as Europe nears recession, while China’s growth remains suspect despite this weekend’s stronger PMI number,” INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note. “This means that the dollar will likely push higher from here, not necessarily a fertile backdrop for either metal (gold or silver),” he added. — Reuters




Singapore bank takeover bid draws flak in Indonesia Future Indonesia banking law could force divestments JAKARTA: Lawmakers from two of Indonesia’s most powerful political parties have voiced opposition to a bid by Singapore’s DBS Group to take over local lender Bank Danamon, and said they wanted to bar heavy foreign ownership of local banks. But they signaled they may not be able to stop the $7.2 billion deal that would be the largest ever foreign takeover in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, at least for now. Local investors and bankers in Jakarta also told Reuters they would lobby against the bid by DBS, even though there seemed to be no regulatory obstacles. Several complained Indonesian banks were not given a level playing field overseas. “We will regulate banks in a reciprocal manner, with a limitation on foreign ownership,” said Harry Azhar Azis of the Golkar party and the vice-chairman of the parliament’s financial committee. Golkar is the second largest party in parliament and a member of the ruling coalition. Last week, it was instrumental in scuppering a government push to lift fuel prices - long called for by economists and rating agencies - after widespread public protests. Azis indicated the banking deal, in which DBS proposes to issue shares to buy Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings’ 67 percent stake in Danamon and to pay cash to buy out minority investors, could not be immediately blocked. But with a presidential election approaching in 2014, politicians and policymakers could play to the domestic audi-

ence, where nationalism can be a votewinner. “We can’t do much as long as the banking law is not completed and enacted,” Azis said. “The parliament will focus on completing a draft of the banking law starting in the middle of this year, so by the end of the year we can present it to a plenary meeting and it could become law by mid-2013,” Azis said. The plan for a banking law appears to have cross-party support in the parliament. Maruara Sirait, from the main opposition PDI-P party and also on the parliament’s financial committee, said he was very concerned about foreign ownership in banking and would work to limit that in a ne w banking law. Sirait said he will also query the central bank, the country’s banking regulator, over the deal, particularly since both sides involve Temasek, a sovereign player that has sparked nationalist opposition before to its investments in Indonesia. RIVALS COMPLAIN Local bankers and investors also said they opposed the deal. “This is not about another country’s expansion to Indonesia,” said Pahala Mansury, the chief financial officer of Indonesia’s largest lender, Bank Mandiri, which is struggling to expand overseas to become a regional player. “We need to see equal treatment in other countries and in Indonesia. Frankly, we are still facing obstacles to develop in Singapore now,” said Mansury. Mansury did not elaborate or specify if Mandiri had applied to expand in Singapore, where it has one

branch with a limited license. Singapore has had an often-testy relationship with its giant neighbour Indonesia. Many from Indonesia’s rich Chinese minority park funds in Singapore, a global financial centre dominated by ethnic Chinese. For its part the squeaky clean city-state complains about choking haze from Indonesian forest fires. Other financial institutions in Jakarta, most of whom declined to be identified and wanted a shot to buy Danamon themselves, say they will start a campaign against the deal, in an effort to scupper it or pressure regulators to limit foreign ownership. Analysts said Indonesia’s banking sector was indeed more open t o foreigners than those of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Indonesia’s banking sector opened up more than others in the region after being battered by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, when many lenders collapsed. Eight of Indonesia’s top 11 banks by market value are now either controlled by foreign banks, business families, private equity firms or wealth funds. Indonesia allows foreign entities to hold up to 99 percent of local banks, compared to 30 percent in Malaysia and Vietnam. “Indonesia is returning to normal by shutting the door, whereas other Asian countries are returning to normal by opening up more, so Indonesia just looks worse,” said Edward Teather, senior ASEAN economist at UBS, on a visit to Jakarta. OPEN FOR NOW Indonesia’s central bank mooted a rule

last year that could have capped foreign ownership of local lenders at around 50 percent. Sources told Reuters Bank Indonesia quietly dropped the move after an investor uproar and opposition from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself. The country’s state deposit agency told Reuters earlier this year that the regulation had been scrapped because the government wanted to attract foreign buyers this year for Bank Mutiara, formerly Bank Century, since it needed to recoup the 6.7 trillion rupiah ($733 million) it spent in a controversial bailout of the lender in the recent credit crisis. Several prospective bank M&A deals were frozen last year while the ownership cap was being discussed, and the DBS bid is the first to emerge since. Da namon’s shares jumped up to 50 percent on Tuesday as investors bet on the plan succeeding. Others could follow if it goes ahead, with shares in Bank Panin Indonesia jumping 6 percent on Monday on bets that it could become a target. “There will definitely be quite a number of M&A deals done in Indonesia,” said Zafrul Aziz, CEO of Malaysia’s Maybank Investment Bank. “The Indonesian regulators have been very supportive...they have a very open door policy.” Existing rules should mean regulators at Bank Indonesia favor the DBS deal since it is essentially a deal with Temasek and foreign investors are only meant to own only a single bank in Indonesia. Temasek is the majority owner of Danamon and is also the biggest shareholder of DBS, which already operates in

Indonesia. So selling its Danamon stake to DBS would combine two Indonesian financial holdings into one bank. “I think the deal will be encouraged from a regulatory perspective,” said Joel Hogarth, co-ordinator of O’Melveny and Myers Indonesian practice. “The Singapore government has been under pressure for a while from Bank Indonesia as they have got interests in quite a number of banks and have been told they need to have a single presence.” NATIONALISM MAY WIN OUT A senior diplomat in the region said DBS seems to have done all the right things in terms of sounding out regulators, but could still run into problems since Singapore government ownership tended to stir nationalistic feelings that could be exploited by politicians. While Temasek is largely a silent investor, a tie-up with DBS may mean putting its logo out in public at all of Danamon’s 3,000 or so branches across the archipelago, potentially creating some public resentment over the Singapore takeover among an increasingly confident Indonesian middle class. “The sense of economic nationalism in Indonesia over the past six months has risen to new heights, partly because of the commodity boom,” said Hal Hill, a professor on Southeast Asian economies at the Australian National University. So a politically focused campaign could hold up approval of the deal beyond DBS’s timeline of the second half of this year, and lead to future rules that could force DBS to sell off a chunk of its Danamon holding.— Reuters

Philippine Airlines sells minority stake Stake will give San Miguel control of PAL

NBK named ‘Best Emerging Markets Bank in Middle East’ KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has been named the ‘Best Emerging Markets Bank in the Middle East and Kuwait 2012’ by the prestigious international financial publication, Global Finance. In its exclusive annual survey of the best Emerging Markets banks, Global Finance chose the winners based on growth in assets, profitability, strategic relationships, customer service, competitive pricing, and innovative products in consultation with bankers, corporate financial executives and analysts around the globe. “We remain in an unusually challenging environment for banks and their cus-

tomers,” says Joseph Giarraputo, publisher of Global Finance. “More than ever, customers are demanding superior competence from their banking partners. These are the banks best providing that competence.” NBK was also recently named among the ‘World’s 50 Safest Banks’ for the fifth consecutive time, illustrating the success of the bank’s conservative strategy, prudent risk management dedication excellent customer service. NBK enjoys the highest credit ratings among all the banks in the Middle East and North Africa region by international rating agencies Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings.

KPMG organizes seminar on Risk Consulting & Forensics KUWAIT: KPMG Advisory WLL Kuwait conducted a breakfast seminar on Risk Consulting & Forensics, at JW Marriott Hotel yesterday. The seminar brought together around one hundred professionals from across the business community, government sectors and regulators. Prominent speakers from KPMG’s Europe, regional and local Risk Consulting team spoke on the importance of Risk Management, Internal Audit and Forensics in today’s fast changing world. Dr Rasheed Al-Qenae, Managing Partner, KPMG Kuwait, in his welcome address emphasized that as risks have become more complex in today’s challenging world, there is urgent need to have a better understanding of integrated risk management solutions to protect investments and profits. Adam Bates, UK Head of KPMG’s Risk Consulting Advisory services emphasized the key understanding of the risk management challenges facing boards and the practical steps that can be taken in term of risk response. He further highlighted that organizations which are successful today are aware of the changing

world around them and are fully alert to how external trends could affect their businesses. Carsten Schiewe, Head of KPMG Europe’s Risk Consulting Advisory services provided insights with respect to the evolving role of internal audit and audit committees in strengthening an organizations’ overall governance process. He further emphasized that internal audit and risk should be aligned to business outcomes as there is greater scrutiny from consumers, shareholders and regulators, along with a drive to improve organizational transparency, agility and above all integrity. Altaf Dossa, Head of Forensics - KPMG Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan provided awareness on how fraud, bribery and corruption can be managed and controlled. Dr Rasheed expressed his gratitude to the participants for attending the seminar and highlighted that KPMG in Kuwait has been providing various Audit, Tax and Advisory services for a number of years to clients across various industries and has earned the reputation for being a trusted and reliable advisor.

QNB ranked among World’s Safest Banks NEW YORK: Qatar National Bank (QNB) has been named one of the World’s 50 Safest Banks and one of the Safest Banks in the Middle East, according to the latest update published by Global Finance in April 2012. The ranking was created through an evaluation of long-term credit ratings-from Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings-and total assets of the 500 largest banks worldwide. The World’s 50 Safest Banks ranking is a recognized and trusted standard of creditworthiness for the entire financial world. QNB Group’s leading role in the banking sector and the high quality of its assets,

along with its capabilities to achieve sustained growth in all activities, are demonstrated clearly in its credit ratings, with Standard & Poor’s (A+ long term, A1 short term, stable), Fitch (A+ long term, A1+ short term, stable) and Moody’s (Aa3 long term, P1 short term, stable) affirming the Bank’s ratings during 2011, which are among the highest in the region. In addition, Capital Intelligence upgraded QNB’s Financial Strength Rating from A+ to AA and affirmed the short term rating of F1, with a stable outlook in recognition of the Bank’s sound financial position, high asset quality and leading role in the banking sector.

MANILA: Philippine Airlines said yesterday it had sold a minority stake in the loss-making carrier to San Miguel Corp, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, but both sides refused to disclose details. San Miguel, bestknown for its beer but which has diversified into a wide range of business sectors in recent years, will also take a minority stake in PAL’s low-cost airline, Air Phil, as part of the deal, a joint statement said. The statement said San Miguel “welcomes the opportunity to participate in the re-fleeting and modernization plans of the two airlines”. PAL spokeswoman Cielo Villaluna said the deal was signed between PAL’s billionaire chairman, Lucio Tan, and San Miguel’s president, Ramon Ang, late Tuesday. But the joint statement, as well as Villaluna, did not reveal further details, such as the size of the stake or the amount of money involved. “ That is all we are willing to say at the moment,” Villaluna said. The announcement came a day after a local press report quoted San Miguel insiders as saying it planned to invest $500 million to buy a 49 percent stake in PAL, Asia’s oldest commercial airline. The stake would have given San Miguel control of PAL, according to the report. PAL reported a net loss of $33.5 million in the three months ending December, reversing a profit of $15.1 million the previous year. It had said the losses were mainly due to soaring fuel costs and made known it was looking for fresh money to upgrade its fleet, which has lost its status as the nation’s most popular carrier to low-cost rival Cebu Pacific. PAL was also forced to cut hundreds of flights in September after a day-long wildcat strike by

MANILA: A Philippine Airlines jet prepares to take off at the runway of Manila’s international airport yesterday. Philippine Airlines said it had sold a minority stake in the lossmaking carrier to San Miguel Corp, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates. — AFP ground crew who were protesting the outsourcing of 2,600 catering, airport services and call centre reservation jobs. It took the airline more than a month to cut the flight backlog. San Miguel, in contrast, is flush with cash and has been aggressively expanding its business portfolio. The brewer, which is also Southeast Asia’s largest food company, began its successful diversification strategy a decade ago. Its acquisitions include Petron, the country’s largest oil refiner, US giant ExxonMobil’s refinery and

petrol retail stations in Malaysia, and a third of Manila Electric, the Philippines’ largest power distributor. San Miguel has also embarked on infrastructure projects in the Philippines, including the building of toll highways, rail systems and an airport. Trading in PAL and San Miguel shares continued yesterday. San Miguel traded marginally higher at 114.4 pesos shortly after the announcement, after closing at 113.5 on Tuesday. PAL Holdings was marginally lower in late morning trade at 8.28 pesos, after closing at 8.30 on Tuesday. — AFP

Warba Bank opens 4th branch in Kuwait KUWAIT: Warba Bank, the recent launched Kuwaiti Bank offering a fully Sharia compliant banking experience yesterday opened its fourth branch in Kuwait. The new branch in Khalifa Tower, Ahmad Al Jaber Street, Sharq, is the bank’s largest to date and is expected to officially open within the next 60 days. The new branch features state-ofthe-art technology and innovative banking procedures. All Warba bank branches offer customers exceptional levels of service, innovation and choice in a fully Sharia compliant environment. The branch enables customers to conduct a full range of banking services and transactions without the need to transfer from one branch to another. Warba Bank will provide different segments of society with financial services that offer a high level of ease and flexibility. The Khalifa branch has

separate reception areas for ladies and men to speed up the banking process and ensure the comfort of customers. Commenting on the opening of the fourth branch, Adnan Salman Al Salem, Chief Retail Bank ing Officer said: “Warba Bank provides the best banking experience for clients in a Sharia compliant environment and in accordance to the latest technical systems. In addition, the bank also offers financial facilities and services to projects which contribute towards the development of Kuwait’s economy.” Al-Salem added: “ The bank is ready to receive clients during official working hours and to provide quality banking services which include the opening of various accounts, such as current accounts, salar y accounts, saving accounts, bank deposits in addition to credit cards of all types, as well as ATM cards, prepaid cards,

and providing financial solutions comprising both consumer and home finance.” To stay in touch with customers, Warba Bank will cordially respond to all inquires through its Call Center number: 1825555. Clients can also use this number to apply to open an account. This service is considered one of the special services offered by the bank through the Call Center. The launch of the fourth branch is in line with Warba Bank ’s strategy of expansion to reach out to clients after the successful launch of the bank’s three other branches located at Laila Gallery, Salem Al Mubarak Street; Salmiya, Rimal Complex, Hawally; and Awtad Tower, Qibla Kuwait City. Warba Bank is planning to officially open in the next two months with the presence of senior government officials and high-profile personalities.



EMC expands cloud services to accelerate IT environments DUBAI: EMC Corporation announced an expanded portfolio of cloud services to help customers accelerate the adoption, consumption, optimization, and management of cloud technologies. The new services help customers accelerate their IT transformation initiatives, enabling IT to more quickly deliver ITaaS to their clients, thereby helping customers to fully realize the benefits of efficiency and agility gained through all phases of their cloud computing. The new EMC services announced today address the transformation of people, process and technology and range from strategy and business case development, to design and deployment, to support, optimization, and education. The new cloud services align to the following

three critical elements necessary to deliver ITaaS: cloud infrastructure, cloud optimized applications, and end-user computing. EMC’s portfolio now includes: • Cloud Infrastructure Services: New services to help clients define the right architectural design for their cloud strategy: hybrid, public, and private, and enable clients to accelerate the adoption and benefits of cloud technology solutions, including converged infrastructure. • Cloud Optimized Applications: New services to help customers accomplish their Application Rationalization and Modernization objectives and enable customers to accelerate the virtualization of mission-critical applications. The new services also enable Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Application

Replatforming, and Application Infrastructure Optimization. • End-user Computing: New services to help customers accelerate the move to Desktop-as-aService (DaaS) using technologies like VMware(r) View(tm) and the incorporation of Mobile Platforms. EMC’s joint vision, technology alignment and services capabilities for cloud computing are aligned with VMware and its ability to leverage best-of-breed technologies from strategic relationships with Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and VCE is unparalleled. These new services also enable EMC’s Velocity(tm) partner ecosystem to achieve greater competitiveness and profitability by complementing their portfolios with EMC’s expertise and industry-leading services capabilities.

EMC’s award-winning Global Services organization provides strategic guidance to enable the transformation of IT architectures to help customers achieve IT efficiency and business agility through planning, designing, implementing, and optimizing cloud and virtualization infrastructures. EMC training and certification programs for cloud and Big Data analytics provide IT workforces with the high demand, future-proof skills for implementing and managing new and more complex IT infrastructures. Additionally, EMC Global Services helps customers manage operations to fill knowledge, expertise, and resource gaps, and delivers award-winning customer support to enable customers to maintain business continuity and a highly available data environment.

‘Smart City’ ambitions for quake-struck Italian town Tragedy hit town to become Hi-tech European city

TOKYO: This undated recent picture, released by Nature Communications yesterday, shows a 1.9 micrometer thick ultrathin solar cell device (C) attached to a elastomeric support, under three-dimensional deformation by pressure from a 1.5 mm-diameter plastic tube, developed by a team of Austrian and Japanese scientists in Tokyo. — AFP

Scientists develop ultra-thin solar cells TOKYO: Austrian and Japanese researchers yesterday unveiled solar cells thinner than a thread of spider silk that are flexible enough to be wrapped around a single human hair. The thin-film device, comprising electrodes on a plastic foil, is about 1.9 micro-metres thick, a tenth the size of the thinnest solar cells currently available, the researchers said. One micro-metre is one millionth of a metre (3.3 feet). “The total thickness of this device is less than a typical thread of spider silk,” the researchers said in a report carried by online science journal Nature Communications. “Being ultra-thin means you don’t feel its weight and it is elastic,” said one of the researchers, Tsuyoshi Sekitani from the University of Tokyo. “You could attach the device to your

clothes like a badge to collect electricity (from the sun)... Elderly people who might want to wear sensors to monitor their health would not need to carry around batteries,” Sekitani told AFP. The research was done jointly by Martin Kaltenbrunner, Siegfried Bauer and other researchers from Johannes Kepler University of Austria as well as Sekitani and other contributors from University of Tokyo. Sekitani said it was possible to make the cells bigger. “Power generation by solar cells increases with their size. As this device is soft, it is less prone to damage by bending even if it gets bigger,” he said. Sekitani said the team hoped to increase the rate at which the device converts sunlight into electricity and put it to practical use in around five years. — AFP

Facebook launches patent counterattack against Yahoo SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook fired back on Tuesday in its legal battle with Yahoo by accusing the Web pioneer of infringing 10 of Facebook’s patents, according to a court filing. The counterclaim from Facebook, filed in a San Francisco federal court, comes after Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement last month. The dueling claims mark an expanding web of patent litigation that has already caught up the smartphone and tablet sectors and high-tech stalwarts such as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. Yahoo’s lawsuit against Facebook came at a delicate time, as the world’s largest Internet social networking ser vice is preparing for an initial public offering that could value the company at up to $100 billion. Observers have said that companies are usually more vulnerable to patent suits when they are in the IPO process, as investors scrutinize the risks involved in the business. But Facebook’s counterclaim comes as Yahoo addresses its own challenges: the Web pioneer has seen declining revenue, and newly installed Chief Executive Scott Thompson is facing a contentious proxy fight with activist hedge fund Third Point. Yahoo spokesman Eric Berman said Facebook’s counterclaim is “nothing more

than a cynical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense.” Five of the patents asserted by Facebook target features related to Yahoo’s online advertising business, which Facebook pegged at 80 percent of Yahoo’s 2011 revenue, according to the counterclaim. Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing service infringed various Facebook patents involving the ability to connect with other users on the online service, to identify people in a photo and to generate personalized news feeds, according to the filing. At least one of the patents asserted by Facebook-a method for tagging digital media-lists its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, as one of the inventors, according to a US government database. Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot said the company had indicated that it would defend itself vigorously in the face of Yahoo’s lawsuit. “While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation,” Ullyot said in a statement. Yahoo has claimed Facebook infringed 10 of Yahoo’s patents, including several that cover online advertising technology. In its lawsuit, Yahoo said Facebook was considered “one of the worst performing sites for advertising” prior to adapting Yahoo’s ideas. — Reuters

EU probes Motorola in patent war with Apple, Microsoft BRUSSELS: The European Commission opened on Tuesday two antitrust investigations against Google’s Motorola Mobility following complaints from Apple and Microsoft in a patent war between the technology giants. The EU competition watchdog said it would check whether Motorola had abused a dominant market position on patents by seeking court injunctions against Apple and Microsoft from selling their iPhone, iPad, Xbox and Windows products. Microsoft and Apple accuse Motorola Mobility of unfairly using its patent portfolio to try to block competing products. In February, European Union and US regulators cleared the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion (9.4 billion euros) by Google. At issue are what are known as standard essential patents. SEPs are patents which have been identified by technology companies as necessary to allow them to build compatible products. Motorola Mobility is failing to live up to

an industry pledge to license SEPs to rivals on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms, according to Microsoft and Apple. Motorola made FRAND commitments to standard setting organisations for 2G and 3G mobile and wireless telecommunications, H.264 video compression and WLAN technologies. The commission said it would assess whether Motorola Mobility “has abusively, and in contravention of commitments it gave to standard setting organisations, used certain of its standard essential patents to distort competition in the Internal Market in breach of EU antitrust rules.” It added: “ The Commission will examine whether Motorola’s behaviour amounts to an abuse of a dominant market position.” The European Union’s executive arm said it would also assess allegations by Apple and Microsoft that “Motorola offered unfair licensing conditions for its standardessential patents in breach” of antitrust rules. —AFP

L’AQUILA: Three years after a quake devastated L’Aquila, the Italian town has launched a bid to become a hi-tech European cityto the scepticism of thousands of people still living in temporary housing. Large parts of the centre remain boarded up even as local architects work with the council on a “Smart City ” project to rebuild using cutting-edge techniques that has the backing of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government. “The idea is to turn the tragedy of the earthquake into an opportunity to rebuild in an intelligent, innovative way while preserving the city ’s heritage,” Alfredo Moroni, the town councillor overseeing the project told AFP. It is an ambitious aim in a town still traumatised as it prepares to mark the third anniversary on Friday of a tragedy that claimed 308 lives. Shoes and broken ornaments still lie in the dust in abandoned homes and few people venture through the empty streets or into the sunlit main square, where an elderly priest stands solitary guard over a collapsed mediaeval church. “L’Aquila is just like Pompeii, a ghost town visited by people who come just to see the ruins,” said pensioner Giuliano Guetti, referring to the part-buried Roman town near Naples which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD 79. “We feel isolated, totally cut off from the world. There’s nothing here, nowhere to socialise... before any ‘Smart’ plan we need basic services like a local shop or bar to make us feel like normal citizens,” said Guetti, 78. In a protest against the lack of reconstruction, members of a local cultural association are collecting thousands of colourful crochet samples sent in by supporters which they will then knit into banners to go up around the city. The “Urban Knitting” initiative is “an attempt to bring back colour to our historic centre, a reaction against the grey and the emptiness which we can no longer tolerate,” the Animammersa association said in a statement. A highly critical report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last month condemned “a culture of inaction” and called for a radical overhaul of social servic-

L’AQUILA: Letizia De Paolis, a resident of Bazzano, a suburb of L’Aquila hit hard by the quake, stands by her temporary housing on April 2, 2012 in L’Aquila. Three years after a quake devastated L’Aquila, the Italian town has launched a bid to become a hi-tech European city — to the scepticism of thousands of people still living in temporary housing. —AFP

es and the local economy. The “Smart City ” project includes plans for a pedestrianised city-centre with bike sharing schemes, buildings fitted with solar panels and a facility to allow local inhabitants to consult their doctor via video link. But with 170 hectares (420 acres) of the centre standing empty, dotted with makeshift shrines to the victims of the earthquake, there is widespread disbelief among locals that a plan to modernise L’Aquila will ever be enacted. ‘We have to hope’-”The government implemented emergency measures after the quake and got everyone into housing-in new builds, hotels or barracks-but after that we were abandoned and there’s been a serious social breakdown,” Moroni said. Critics accused the then premier Silvio Berlusconi of incompetence and his civil protection agency of trying to exploit the earthquake for financial gain. Nearly a quarter of L’Aquila’s preearthquake population of 75,000 is still living in wooden houses, hotels, army barracks and new builds in remote areas with no public services. Thousands more have moved away altogether. Only four families have moved back into the city centre, officials said. Billionaire Berlusconi’s

downfall last November and his replacement by reform-minded Monti has given momentum to the “Smart City” idea, which has its roots in a project drawn up by a group of young local architects. As stray dogs wander through the maze of alleyways and abandoned buildings with gaping holes in their sides, architect Marco Morante explains their plan. “Just after the earthquake we formed a group called Collettivo 99 and argued that the city could be restored and transformed using renewable energy sources, anti-earthquake systems, the Internet,” said Morante, the group’s head. “ We wanted to create the West’s first technologically ‘smart’ mediaeval city, but no-one listened. We now need to move fast or we risk no-one wanting to return in years to come to a city they no longer feel is their own,” he said. “With Monti’s government, we finally have the chance to be heard,” he added. In Bazzano, a suburb of L’Aquila hit hard by the quake, residents living in temporary housing a stone’s throw from their rubble-strewn houses welcome the plan but warn of growing social unease and a lack of trust in the authorities. Repair man Riccardo Turco said that while they were grateful

to have a roof over their heads, “it leaks when it rains. But no-one cares, no-one comes.” His neighbour, 68-year-old Rachele Raperelli, who moved into the blue wooden houses after a year living in a tent camp, dismissed the plan as “empty words.” Raperelli, who underwent surgery after a wardrobe fell on her during the earthquake, broke down in tears as she said how much she wanted her house back. “My husband goes morning, noon and night to just stare at our home in ruins, he can’t move on. I have my roots there, I was married there,” she said. There is also widespread scepticism among residents that the region can find the money for the project amid a biting financial crisis in Italy and Europe. “How are they going to make a ‘Smart City’ with the crisis? I sleep in a wooden house in my garden because I’m still afraid there may be another earthquake. I don’t plan for the future,” said housewife Letizia De Paolis. Despite misgivings, other inhabitants say the plan is their only hope of reviving the city. “We can’t know whether the plan will work, but we have to hope,” said Giovanni Benevieri. “Without hope we are left with nothing but a dead city.” —AFP

New York’s iconic yellow cabs get an upgrade NEW YORK: With a big sunroof to take in towering skyscrapers, USB outlets for computing devices and an onboard odor-buster, the new version of New York’s classic ride-the yellow cab-is getting an upgrade. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveils the Nissan NV200 later Tuesday with Carlos Ghosn, chief of Nissan, which last year won the contract to supply the city with new taxicabs. “The Nissan NV200 unveiled today will be the safest, most comfortable and most convenient taxi the City has ever had,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “New York City cabs have always been iconic, and now they will set a new standard. The 600,000 passengers who use taxis to get around every day deserve the cutting-edge technology and top-of-the-line safety features that this model delivers,” the mayor added. The vehicle-an air conditioned minivan-will also make an appearance at the New York Auto Show starting April 6. It boasts sliding rear doors, more legroom for passengers, who will be welcomed with reading lights, a power outlet and two USB outlets-apparently for all their charging-whilerolling needs. Passengers can set the temperature on the heat and air conditioning in the rear, there is an intercom system to speak with the driver and the seat upholstery is antimicrobial. Even the horn has been tweaked, to make it less annoying, and the classic dark yellow has been lightened a touch. The cars cost $29,700, and will start replacing taxis being phased out from late 2013. — AFP

NEW YORK: Journalists sit inside the Nissan NV200, New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow yesterday in New York one day before press previews begin for the New York International Automobile Show. The NV200 will be the exclusive New York City taxi vehicle starting in 2013. — AFP



Judge upset by Obama’s comments on health care law HOUSTON: A federal appeals court judge on Tuesday seemed to take offense to comments President Barack Obama made earlier this week in which he warned that if the Supreme Court overturned his signature health care overhaul it would amount to overreach by an “unelected” court. The Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling later this year on whether to strike down some or all of the historic health care law. During oral arguments in Houston in a separate challenge to another aspect of the federal health care law, US 5th Circuit Cour t of Appeals Judge Jerr y Smith said Obama’s comments troubled a number

of people who have read them as a challenge to the authority of federal courts. “I’m referring to statements by the president in the past few days to the effect, I’m sure you’ve heard about them, that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed unelected judges to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed, he was referring of course to Obamacare, to what he termed a broad consensus and majorities in both houses of Congress,” Smith told Dana Kaersvang, an attorney with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. On Monday, Obama issued a direct challenge to the Supreme Court, saying he didn’t believe the high court would

take the “unprecedented” step of overturning a law passed by a strong majority of Congress. “I want to be sure that you are telling us that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases,” Smith said. A somewhat surprised Kaersvang told Smith the Justice Department does recognize this power by the courts and made reference to a landmark 1803 case that formed the basis for judicial review. However, Smith ordered Kaersvang to submit a letter to the appeals court

by today stating the position of US Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department on the concept of judicial review. “The letter needs to be at least three pages, single spaced, no less and it needs to be specific. It needs to make specific reference to the president’s statements,” Smith said. The case before the appeals court was brought in part by a spine and joint hospital in East Texas that is challenging the constitutionality of a portion of the health care law that restricts physician-owned hospitals from expanding or building new facilities. The Justice Depar tment did not

immediately return a telephone call late Tuesday seek ing comment. White House officials had no comment on Smith’s statements, instead referring to comments Obama made earlier Tuesday at the annual meeting of The Associated Press in Washington. At the meeting, Obama said the Supreme Court “is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it. ... I have enormous confidence that in looking at this law, not only is it constitutional, but that the Court is going to exercise its jurisprudence carefully because of the profound power that our Supreme Court has.” — AP

US warns of cancer-agent in Japan weight loss pills Pills contain ‘undeclared phenolphthalein’

HANOI: In this photo taken on 13 March 2012, Nguyen Huong Giang, 24, grinds rhinoceros horn with water at her apartment in Hanoi, Vietnam, demonstrating how she makes a liquid concoction she ingests after drinking too much alcohol or when suffering from allergies. — AP

Vietnam craves rhino horn, costs more than cocaine HANOI: Nguyen Huong Giang loves to party but loathes hangovers, so she ends her whiskey benders by tossing back shots of rhino horn ground with water on a special ceramic plate. Her father gave her the 4-inch (10-centimeter) brown horn as a gift, claiming it cures everything from headaches to cancer. Vietnam has become so obsessed with the fingernail-like substance it now sells for more than cocaine. “I don’t know how much it costs,” said Giang, 24, after showing off the horn in her high-rise apartment overlooking the capital, Hanoi. “I only know it’s expensive.” Experts say Vietnam’s surging demand is threatening to wipe out the world’s remaining rhinoceros populations, which recovered from the brink of extinction after the 1970s thanks to conservation campaigns. Illegal killings in Africa hit the highest recorded level in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year. This week South Africa called for renewed cooperation with Vietnam after a “shocking number” of rhinos have already been reported dead this year. China has long valued rhino horn for its purported - though unproven medicinal properties, but US officials and international wildlife experts now say Vietnam’s recent intense craving, blamed partly on a widespread rumor that rhino horn cures cancer, is putting unprecedented pressure on the world’s estimated 28,000 remaining animals, mainly in South Africa. “It’s a very dire situation,” US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said by telephone. “We have very little cushion for these populations in the wild.” Although data on the global rhino horn trade is scarce, poaching in Africa has soared in the past two years, with American officials saying China and Vietnam are driving the trade that has no “significant” end market in the United States. Wildlife advocates say that over the last decade, rhino horn has become a must-have luxury item for some Vietnamese nouveau riche, alongside Gucci bags and expensive Maybach cars. Between 2006 and 2008, three diplomats at the Vietnamese Embassy in Pretoria were linked to embarrassing rhino trafficking scandals - including one caught on tape. In February, US agents busted an alleged interstate rhino horn trafficking syndicate with Vietnamese-American ringleaders. A court affidavit obtained by The Associated Press alleges one of those arrested in the U.S. case, Felix Kha, traveled to China 12 times between 2004 and 2011 and went to Vietnam five times last year. “There are still horns going into China but

Vietnam is driving the increase in poaching for horns,” said Chris R. Shepherd, deputy regional director for Southeast Asia at the wildlife advocacy group TRAFFIC. “Vietnamese authorities really need to step up their efforts to find out who is behind horn trafficking ... and put them out of business.” The rhino horn craze offers bigger payoffs than other exotic wildlife products such as bear bile or tiger bone paste. American officials say the crushed powder fetches up to $55,000 per kilogram in Asia ($25,000 per pound) - a price that can top the U.S. street value of cocaine, making the hoof-like substance literally as valuable as gold. The drive is so great, thieves are now pinching rhino horns from European museums and taxidermy shops, sometimes smashing them off with sledgehammers before fleeing. According to Europol, the European law enforcement agency, 72 rhino horns were stolen from 15 European countries in 2011, the first year such data was recorded. Poachers in South Africa are also using chain saws to rip rhinos’ horns off, mutilating the hulky animals while they’re still alive and leaving oozing bloody cavities in the heads of those lucky enough to survive. Sometimes, they simply shoot the beasts dead, even though the horns can grow back within two years without harming the animal if carefully cut. Officials and nonprofits in South Africa are preemptively cutting some rhinos’ horns in an attempt to save them, but some poachers are killing anyway just for the nubs. Vietnam wiped out its own last known Javan rhinoceros in 2010, despite the country’s earlier efforts to protect it. The last of the population was found dead in a national park, shot through the leg with its horn hacked off. Tran Dang Trung, who manages a zoo outside Hanoi that imported four white rhinos from South Africa, said he worries for the animals’ safety even though the zoo has 24-hour security. “If thieves wanted to kill the animals and steal their valuable parts, they could,” Trung said recently outside the rhinos’ basketball court-sized outdoor pen. Laws in Vietnam surrounding the business of importing horns are murky and crackdowns are rare despite government pledges to root out traffickers. Officially, no more than 60 horns are legally imported into Vietnam as trophies bagged from South African game farms each year, but international wildlife experts have estimated the actual number of trophy horns taken by Vietnamese nationals from South Africa each year may exceed 100.—AP

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned consumers not to take a product called “Japan Rapid Weight Loss Diet Pills” because they contain a suspected cancercausing agent. The pills, advertised as promoting weight loss, are distributed by a company called Xiushentang and sold on popular web sites including, said the FDA. Consumers are advised to stop using the pillswhich are packaged in three colors: green, yellow and blue-and discard them. They should also

see a doctor if they have experienced any side effects, the agency said. An FDA lab analysis has confirmed that the pills, “Japan Rapid Weight Loss Diet Pills Green” contain “undeclared phenolphthalein,” the agency said in a statement. “Phenolphthalein is a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancercausing agent that is not approved for marketing in the United States.” The FDA has classified the agent as “not generally recognized as safe and effective,” and it

has been found to potentially damage or even cause mutations in a person’s DNA, the warning said. A similar notice was issued for “Japan Rapid Weight Loss Diet Pills Yellow” because they contain both phenolphthalein and sibutramine, a weight loss agent found in the drug Meridia that was removed from the market in 2010 because it boosted the risk of heart attack and stroke. “The product poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present

a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke,” the FDA said. A third product, “Japan Weight Loss Blue” contains sibutramine and ephedrine alkaloids. Products containing ephedra have been banned because they can boost blood pressure to risky levels. The agency said the dangerous weight loss pills are part of an emerging trend in which companies sell products purporting to be dietary supplements but which contain hidden ingredients that can be harmful. — AFP

Ultrasound helps catch cancer in higher-risk women: Study PITTSBURG: Adding an ultrasound to annual mammograms for women at higher-thanaverage breast cancer risk helps catch more early-stage tumors but increases the chance that healthy women will get follow-up biopsies unnecessarily, according to a US study. For most women who fit into an “intermediate-risk” category, including those with very dense breasts, or who have a family member with breast cancer, the extra chance of false positives and more testing is probably worth it, said lead author Wendie Berg, from MageeWomens Hospital in Pittsburgh. That’s because along with those women’s higher chances of getting cancer, mammograms may not work as well on women with denser breasts, for example. “The vast majority... of women who are well aware of these risks would still gladly choose to have the ultrasound, knowing that it increases the chance of finding cancer if it’s present and finding it early,” Berg said of the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Recommendations from cancer and radiology organizations call for women who are at high risk of cancer, including those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, to get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to annual mammography. But guidelines haven’t specified whether extra tests are also the best option for those in the intermediate-risk category, which may include up to 30 percent of women. Berg said that adding annual MRIs for these women isn’t such a practical or cost-effective option, and many people feel claustrophobic during the procedure or just don’t like it. So she and her colleagues wanted to see if ultrasounds, which are less bothersome and less expensive, might be an alternative addition to mammography. Their study involved about 2,700 women seen at 21 different sites. More than half of those women had a history of breast cancer themselves - also classified as intermediate risk. Every year for three years, women had both a mammogram and an ultrasound to check for signs of cancer. Finally, the researchers offered participants one MRI as a final check. Over the study period, there were 111 new

cases of breast cancer, 59 of which were picked up during mammography. Another 32 tumors that weren’t spotted on mammograms were found with ultrasound, 30 of which were invasive cancers. Out of 612 women who opted for an MRI, nine more cancers that hadn’t shown up on other screening tests were detected. Eleven cancers were diagnosed at some point during the study through means other than screening. Despite catching the additional cancers, there were downsides to the extra tests. One out of every 20 women had to have a breast biopsy because of ultrasound results, though only a small fraction of those ended up having cancer. “We are always in a quandary because we don’t know what to do with these intermediate-risk patients,” said Regina Hooley, who

studies breast cancer screening at the Yale School of Medicine but wasn’t involved with the study. “MRI is costly and it’s invasive. I think (ultrasound) is actually a very, very good alternative for these patients and I would probably recommend that they just get ultrasound.” But Susan Roth, a radiologist from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said the rate of false positives with ultrasound was concerning. “The more tests you add, we’ll find more cancers, and they’re real. The question is, what are we willing to pay for that, in terms of the downsides and the dollars?” she said. For women at normal risk of breast cancer, the government-backed US Preventive Services Task Force says evidence supports mammograms only, done every other year between age 50 and 74. — Reuters

A picture released yesterday shows the skull of a tyrannosauroid, Yutyrannus huali, meaning “beautiful feathered tyrant” a combination of Latin and Mandarin. Three remarkably complete skeletons representing a previously unknown species of giant, feathered tyrannosaur have been discovered in China. The creature is the largest-known feathered animal, living or extinct. — AFP

Step stool helps shorter rescuers do better CPR

BOLIVIA: Doctors depending on the Health Ministry give assistance free of charge at a makeshift tent at a square in La Paz on April 3, 2012 on the sixth day of a national strike by doctors and health workers against a government decree that returns the workday to eight hours. — AFP

CHICAGO: Amid all the technology used in hospitals to keep critically ill people alive, doctors are looking at whether the lowtech step stool can make a difference in performing the lifesaving move cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. The process includes chest compressions that need to be deep enough to move blood out of the heart and towards the rest of the body. But when a rescuer is short and the victim is on a hospital bed it can be hard to get enough leverage to press down on the chest. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center looked at whether using sturdy step stools helped improve the quality of CPR. They found that the step stool worked best if the rescuer was about 5 ft. 6 inches

(167 cm) or shorter, Edelson and her colleagues reported in the journal Resuscitation. The study involved 50 people at their hospital, all trained in CPR, who performed chest compressions on a mannequin. Each did two two -minute rounds while standing on the floor and two while on a 9-inch (23 cm) high step stool. The mannequin was outfitted with a sensor that recorded the depth of chest compressions and other measures of CPR quality, including “recoil,” which means letting up enough to allow the chest to recoil so the heart can fill back up with blood. On average, the depth of their chest compressions increased by about a centimeter - which is significant, Edelson said. It suggests that shorter res-

cuers “may get a big benefit” from using a step stool. On the other hand, taller rescuers increased their compression depth by only two-tenths of a centimeter, and that seemed to be offset by too much “leaning” - meaning that it can be harder for tall rescuers to pull their weight back, allowing the chest to recoil. “We were a little surprised by the unintended consequence of leaning,” Edelson said. The study was not large enough to set a height cutoff for using a step stool, but based on the results it seems “reasonable” for rescuers who are about 167 cm or shorter to use a stool. Researchers do know that the depth of chest compressions makes a difference. In cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping

blood to the rest of the body of ten because it goes into a chaotic quivering known as ventricular fibrillation. If that happens, CPR chest compressions can keep blood and ox ygen flowing to the rest of the body, but the only way to get the heart pumping on its own again is with a defibrillator or with certain drugs. In an earlier study, Edelson’s team found that a half-centimeter increase in compression depth doubled the odds that an actual cardiac arrest victim’s heart could then be successfully shocked back into a normal rhythm with a defibrillator. But even with all efforts, cardiac arrest is often fatal. The survival rate of in-hospital cardiac arrest hovers around 17 percent. — Reuters



Indonesia district offers cash for vasectomies JAKARTA: A district in Indonesia is handing out cash to civil servants who volunteer for vasectomies-but the initiative has upset women who fear their sterilised husbands will be more likely to have affairs. Mukomuko distric t on Sumatra island is offering one million rupiah ($109) to any of its 2,000 male employees who undergo the operation, in a bid to control population growth in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. District head Ichwan Yunus told AFP yesterday that so far nine men had volunteered since the program was launched last week. “We hope this cash incentive will motivate more to join,” he added. “This is part of an effort to reduce poverty. With a small family people will be able to live much better,” Yunus said, adding that annual population growth

in the district of 170,000 was a steep 1.9 percent per year. Indonesia has a population of 240 million, which has been growing at an average 1.49 percent per year for the past decade, according to the country’s central statistics agency. Yunus said that wives-worried that their sterilised husbands would more readily engage in extra-marital affairs as they would not have to worry about contraception-were one of the challenges of the vasectomy scheme. “In many cases there is opposition from wives, who are worried that husbands won’t have to think twice about engaging in love affairs,” Yunus said. “We are carrying out a media campaign to encourage more volunteers,” he said. “We may double or triple the cash if it doesn’t attract many participants”.— AFP

Cheap, safe device helps avoid premature birth PARIS: A simple low-cost silicon ring can slash the risk of premature birth, a major cause of death in newborns and health problems in adult life, according to a trial reported on Tuesday by The Lancet. Spanish doctors tested the 38 euro ($49.50) device, known as a pessary, on women in their last three months of pregnancy who had cervical shortening, a condition that weakens the pelvic floor and leads to pre-term birth. The pessary is designed to strengthen the cervix-the lower end of the uterus that leads to the vagina-so that it can cope with the extra weight of the final weeks of pregnancy. Silicon pessaries have been used over the past 50 years as one of several methods to prevent pre-term births. But their effectiveness has been debated, and this was the first time the device had been investigated in a randomised trial. Six percent of women who were fitted with the pessary gave birth prematurely,

compared to 27 percent of counterparts who did not have the device, according to the study. The so-called PECEP trial recruited 15,000 women who underwent ultrasound examination in five hospitals when they were in between 20 and 23 weeks of pregnancy. Of these, 380 had cervical shorteningdefined as a having a cervix whose length was 25mm (0.98 inches) or less-and were randomly assigned to one of two groups, each comprising 190 women. In the pessary group, 12 had a baby before 34 weeks of pregnancy, while the number in the non-pessary group was 51. No side effects were reported in the pessary group, and 95 percent of its participants said they would recommend the treatment for others. “Placement of a pessary is an affordable procedure, non-invasive and easy to insert and remove as required,” said lead researcher Maria Goya, an obstetrician at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona. — AFP

US ambassador inaugurates ATP clinic at Clover Center KUWAIT: US Ambassador to Kuwait Matthew Tueller inaugurated Dr Arwa Al Shaer Clinic for Advanced Treatment and Preventive Medicine (ATP), part of Global Med Clinic, at Al Mazaya’s Clover Clinic Tower, last Wednesday in presence of a number of ambassadors and prominent figures from the business, social and media communities in Kuwait. Dr Arwa Al Shaer and her US team accompanied the guests on a tour of the clinic’s facilities, the ultra modern equipment and the healthcare programs and activities scheduled at the clinic as of the opening day. Dr Arwa Al-Shaer is a renowned consultant in Internal Medicine & cardiology and a member of American Board of regenerative & Functional Medicine. She holds a masters degree in Metabolic and nutritional medicine and PhD in Cardiology and Internal Medicine. She worked in Hadi Hospital for 14 years, during which she established Cardiac Catheter unit for the first time in a private hospital in Kuwait. Later, she completed higher studies in the USA to come back with advanced medical concepts about the 21st century medicine. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Arwa Al Shaer, said that the Clinic for Advanced Treatment and Preventive Medicine is the only centre that offers sport medicine and rehabilitation therapies with standard protocols. This element expands knowledge, abilities and skills and helps us treat more than 65 of chronic physiological diseases. Our safe and highly effective protocols focus on patient rather than the disease and allow restore and preserve total health”. She added that this exclusive programme targets those individuals who always seek the best in everything they do. We invite you to experience this full medical evaluation which includes the most advanced evaluation equipment in the country. She added that the solution to break the barriers of aging is to avoid any break in any step in the ladder of life. Similarly, any disease that is neglected may cause poor health or premature death. Al Shaer concluded: “ATP aims for early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic dis-

eases and aging related diseases. Our integrated healthcare approach encourages patients to make informed health choices and focuses on unique biochemical characteristic of each patient to improve health. Then, we identify therapeutic interventions needed for each case to restore the physiological, psychological and structural balance. Our practices focus on understanding the basic physiological processes, the environmental data and the genetic tendencies which would affect the health and cause dis-

ices to the highest international standards. The facility hosts a group of prominent specialist doctors and is home to ultra modern medical technologies Eng. Salwa Malhas, Executive Vice President Business Development and Marketing for Al Mazaya Holding, delivered a speech on behalf of the company in which she hailed the successes of Clover Clinic project on the healthcare and commercial levels which encouraged Al Mazaya to replicate this model in other cities, beginning

ease. This allows us to focus our interventions on solving the cause of the problem rather than hiding the symptoms. Relieving the symptoms of diseases is an important element to improve health. We focus on the cause of disease to get healthy life. We need to maximize the quality of health not just bringing health to the normal levels”. Clover Clinic, one of Al Mazaya Holding’s flagship projects in Kuwait, has occupied a leading position in healthcare sector as a medical facility specifically designed to accommodate the widest selection of clinics in Kuwait in one building and to provide high quality healthcare serv-

with Al Jahra, one of Kuwait’s largest cities in terms of area and population, which lacks specialized healthcare centres. Malhas said that the strategic location, the state of the art building and the availability of group of elite doctors and specialists under one roof are the three elements have contributed to making Clover Clinic a resounding success. Eng. Malhas extended thanks to Dr Arwa for choosing Kuwait and Clover Clinic as a platform to introduce her modern and region’s one of its kind medical vision which significantly contributes to relieve pains of patients and prevent chronic diseases.



W H AT ’ S O N Embassy Notice Embassy of Australia: On the occasion of Easter, the Australian Embassy wishes to advise that it will be closed today 5th April 2012 Sunday 9th April 2012. The Embassy will reopen on Monday 10th April 2012 after the holidays. Embassy of France: The French Embassy in Kuwait will be closed on Sunday April 8th, 2012 for Easter holidays. Embassy of Kenya: The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya wishes to inform the general public that it will be closed on 8th and 9th April 2012, respectively on the occasion of Easter holidays. Normal office operation will resume on Tuesday 10th April 2012. Embassy of Slovak Republic: On the occasion of the Easter Holiday, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Kuwait would like to inform the public that the Embassy will be closed on Sunday, April 08 and Monday, April 09, 2012. The Embassy will resume its normal duties on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Embassy of Canada: The Canadian Embassy will be closed on Sunday and Monday 08 and 09 April 2012 on the occasion of Easter. The Embassy will resume its duties on Tuesday 10 April 2012. 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 Philippine Embassy: In accordance with the republic act 9492 and proclamation number 295 declaring the national holidays for the year 2012, the embassy will be close on the following dates: 05 April 2012 (Holy Thursday) and April 8, 2012 (Sunday-Araw ng Kagitingan). Regular office hour will resume on Monday, April 9, 2012.

Announcements Open House for Indian Citizens The 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 at the embassy. In case Wednesday is an Embassy holiday, the meeting will be held on the next working day. To ensure timely action/follow-up 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 contacted. 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. Acoustic Concert Acoustic concer by “Dax” at Bayt Lothan on April 5, 2012 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm at Bayt Lothan (Arabian Gulf Street, next to Marina Mall) Cost: Free. Contact: Dax at Film Festival Back to calendar April 9, 2012 @ 7:00 pm - April 10, 2012 @ 10 pm At Cinescape Laila Gallery (Salem Al-Mubarak Street). First French Short Film Festival to be organized in Kuwait in partnership with Cinescape and Festival du court-mÈtrage de Clermont Ferrand. During two nights, we will screen short movies from around the world selected and awarded by the international short film Festival of Clermont Ferrand (France). Animated gems, documentaries, brilliant comedies, down-to-earth fictions, genre films or graduation shorts from some of the finest film schools out there will undoubtedly take you on a unique journey into young film creation. The film schedule is Natya Kalamandalam dance celebration Natya Kalamandalam, Kuwait will conduct conferring celebration along with stage performance for its first batch of students tomorrow April 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm at the Indian Central School Auditorium. Natya Kalmandalam is a centre for learning Indian performing arts and culture. It was conceived to provide training to its students in Bharatanatyam dance form. Bharatanatyam is one of the most cherished and popular classical Indian dance-form, not only within the country but also outside. It is considered the epitome of Indian cultural expression.

KES year 10, 11 students at Agility Logistics


n April 2, 2012 our students of year 10 and 11 attended the Job Shadow at Agility Logistics. It was a unique learning experience for the students as they were divided into five groups and each group was assigned to a business department; namely sales, marketing, finance, IT and Human resources.


he JW Marriott Kuwait City hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait hotel and Arraya Ballroom participated in the Earth Hour - a global environmental awareness event organized on March 31st - to send a powerful message about environmental awareness and care for the planet. All three properties successfully observed Earth Hour by taking energy-saving measures for one full hour from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm, further underscoring the company’s international commitment to environmental sustainability. Numerous measures were taken such as turning off exterior signage lighting; dimming or turning off nonessential interior lighting, public areas and office lighting. In doing so, 377 kWh was saved at the Courtyard by Marriott and Arraya ballroom and 1650 kWh at JW Marriott. Marriott guest’s participation in the initiative was

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!

optional through a letter which was sent to their rooms in addition to posters displayed in the hotel’s lobby. “Being part of a global movement that unites diverse communities and organizations to bring to light a growing

concern that will affect the world, falls in line with our ongoing Spirit to Preserve environmental programs, “expressed George Aoun, Cluster General Manager for JW Marriott Kuwait City Hotel and

Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait Hotel . At the Marriott Kuwait Housing complex, lights were switched off and associates gathered in the crisp spring air to light candles and show their involvement in the initiative.

Swiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait shares Earth Hour 2012


n Saturday 31st March 2012 at 20:30hrs Swiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait turns off the lights in the lobby, hotel main entrance and restaurants that were surrounded with candles. Guests & employees of the hotel gathered for cocktail drink to share the earth hour. Hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the

world come together each year for one hour to support the largest environmental event in history. Earth Hour has done a lot to raise awareness of sustainability issues. The aim of the event is to present our commitment for energy saving and work together to create a better future for our planet; said General Manager Ali Haddad.

GOI - Biology scholarship for UIS students

U Vivek Gopinathan

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 AbuTammam Intermediate School for Boys Contact: Golden Era Club

Later the students were taken to the warehouse and witnessed ‘warehouse management’ in action. Our students appreciated the efforts taken by the business to host them and offer them a very helpful learning experience. It will go a long way in combining classroom learning with the real business world functioning.

Earth Hour 2012 marked at Kuwait Marriott Hotels

Festival of Football 2012 Premier GOAL Academy/Everton “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. AE Arts competition, exhibition AE Arts will hold a competition on April 7 in drawing and fancy dress items for junior, sub-junior and senior levels and a comedy skit competition for adults at United Indian School, 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 make-up man Pattanam Rashid will be the chief guest, AE Art’s Ajayaghosh said. For details: 99591496

The students spend about 2 hours in their respective departments listening to the manager of each department and observing the day-to-day functioning of the department. The students also took part in various quiz competitions organized by each department and also enjoyed the games relating to field of study.

Riya Ann Jacob

nited Indian School students Vivek Gopinathan, son of M.V. Gopinathan and Riya Ann Jacob, daughter of Jacob Thomas Paruthimoottil, have been awarded the prestigious Government of India, DBT scholarship for Biology for the year 2011. Both of them scored 99% in Biology at the Board Examination. This scholarship is awarded by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India, to 100 students who are subject toppers of Biology / Bio technology at the 10+2 level examinations conducted by CBSE, CISCE and State Boards. The scholarship comprises of Rs 20,000/-, a gold plated Medal and a Merit Certificate. It is indeed a matter of great honour that UIS students Vivek and Riya are among the top 100 from the thousands of students who appear for the 10+2 level examinations. The school congratulates these rising stars of UIS for their remarkable achievement and wishes them greater successes in future.

Kapunadu leaders felicitated


ndhra Pradesh Kapunadu state leaders were felicitated by Telugu community people, residing in Kuwait last week in Adeliya. Kapunadu State leaders General Secretary Eddala Vijay Sagar, Kodeti Sankar Royal visited Kuwait for three days last week.

AUK’s 8th annual career week starts Sunday


or the eighth year, the American University of Kuwait (AUK) will be hosting the Annual Career Week from April 8th to April 11that the AUK Salmiya campus. The 4-day popular event will beorganized by the AUK Career Services and Wellness Center exclusively for AUK students and Alumni. Events of the week will include, a career fair, panel discussions, and resume workshops. The Career Fair will be the highlight of the week and will take place on Tuesday April 10th, where the two platinum sponsors (Zain and Gulf Bank) will be cutting the ribbon at 10am in the AUK Auditorium. Almost 20 local and international companies will be present at AUK’s 8th Career Fair on Tuesday. The participating companies include Gulf Bank and Zain as Platinum sponsors, ABYAT and KAMCO as Gold sponsors, AlYasra Foods and Impact and Echo as Silver sponsors. Also present, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), Ernst & Young, Hewlett Packard (HP), Wataniya Telecom, Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK), M. H. Al Shaya, Ali Abdulwahab & Sons, LoYAC, Burgan Bank, AUK, and Kout Food Group (KOG).

Other events taking place during Career Weekinclude The Alumni Panel on Sunday April 8th, The Resume Doctor onCampusMonday April 9thand The Entrepreneurship Panel on Wednesday April11th.TheLatter will host three young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs to share their experiences,EssaBebehani, Owner of ChoowyGoowy and Vice Chairman and GM of Al Manar Food Company;Jumana Al-Othman, a Public Health Nutritionist and owner of Breakfast and Brunch Restaurant; andHala Al Abdulrazaq,Assistant Director of the Academic Advising Center (AAC) at AUK and a co-founder of Local Tees which was established in 2011. More than 400 AUK students and Alumni are expected to benefit from Career Week this year. Students are strongly encouraged to dress in business attire and bring their CV to present to the lineup of companies which will includemany of Kuwait’s most prestigious establishments. The participating companies will set up booths to meet AUK students and alumni who will be visiting the event for jobs and internships.

KOA to hold ‘Utkal Divas’


uwait Odisha Association (KOA), a socio-cultural organization registered with Indian Embassy Kuwait, will hold a cultural function “Utkal Divas” tomorrow (April 6, 2012) at Indian Community School, Salmiya Kuwait. This year,the distinguished guests from Odisha are AnuChoudhry, a celebrated film actress with international reputation and a standup comedian Kuna Tripathy, whose show ‘News

On this occasion, their followers and well-wishers organized a meeting and felicitated them with memento and shawls. Jagan Mohan Royal, Yeddala Anath Royal, Yeddala Chandra Sekhar, Mopuru Rajendra, Jilakara Mani Royal, Ramana, Subramanyam Royal and others organized this event.

Fuse’is widely viewed by Odia speaking communities throughout the globe. This year, it is a special celebration as KOA is felicitating these stars for the first time in Kuwait. Utkal Divas or Odisha Day is celebrated by Odia speaking people in Kuwait to commemorate the formation of Odisa State on April 1, 1936. KOA was founded in 1966 in Kuwait by Indian expatriates hailing from the

state of Odisha. It is a secular, nonpolitical and non-profitable voluntary organization and has a membership strength of 3,000. KOA seeks to promote socio-cultural activities for a better understanding of Odiya culture. KOA also organizes annual cricket tournaments that are open to all Indian communities promoting sports and brotherhood among Indians and other nationalities.



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

Crowne Plaza Kuwait organises blood donation campaign


n line with its corporate social responsibility, Crowne PLaza Kuwait held a blood donation campaign, which involved the active participation of its staff and management. In collaboration with the Central Blood Bank of Kuwait, the hotel made a concentrated effort towards the benevolent cause of saving lives of citizens and residents of Kuwait.

Ramy Haykal, the General Manager opined, “Blood donation is part of our commitment towards the community we live in. It is our social responsibility to serve the community and support charitable actions, be it donating blood or any other humanitarian activities and we are extremely proud to see the large number of our staff who have come forward to donate blood for this noble cause. We also look forward to organize

similar activities on a regular basis within the hotel.” The medical team from the Central Blood Bank expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the staff and management of the Crowne Plaza Kuwait Hotel for their active interest towards such responsible social activities, which involves the saving of precious human lives for organizing the blood donation campaign.

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

—Photos by Joseph Shagra

Marina Hotel Kuwait brings back its Poolside BBQ every Wednesday night


arina Hotel opened up its poolside Barbeque Nights in the presence of the media and senior management. General Manager, Nabil Hammoud and the entire hotel’s management team welcomed the guests on their arrival to a relaxing evening filled with mouth-watering BBQ delicacies, live Oriental music, shisha and breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. The Hotel’s spectacular settings, beautiful landscape combined with the warm spring weather reflects the ambience of the BBQ dinner buffet. Guests were offered a delicious selection from the sumptuous barbecue station filled

with especially marinated and seasoned varieties of succulent meats and chicken, fresh seafood with rich variety of seaside dishes and a delicious salad bar with the assorted breads. For the finale,

delectable desserts were served. On the occasion, Hammoud said: “It’s just so beautiful outside at this time of the year so we have taken the opportunity to launch our BBQ nights.

The lovely weather proves to be the perfect setting for guests to enjoy our unique dining experience with our specialties cooked with the freshest possible ingredients. Every year we receive a very positive feedback on our BBQ Nights, this year; there will also be an even bigger variety of choices. With the launch of our Barbeque Nights, we would like to offer our guests a scrumptious dining experience at the pool.” The Marina poolside BBQ takes place every Wednesday evening, has a capacity to accommodate up to 150 guests at a time and has a special area for groups.

Technical evolution of Safavid textiles


ommissions, iconography and the technical evolution of Safavid textiles in the 16th and 17th centuries through the consultation of archive documents and scientific analysis. Elisa Mangilli spoke on Safavid textile production which involved a twofold research method: Firstly, the inevitable historical approach, where documentary evidence and critical analysis of historical events provide us with constant references and an endless source of information; secondly, the technical examination focusing particularly on textiles with complex weaves. The textile sector is a key player in the Persian economy in the modern period in terms of trading and absolute value and a field where possible reciprocal influences benefitted from the widespread availability of these items, the extreme ease with which materials could be transported and the high commercial value of the product. Due

to the unique nature of the quality textiles produced in Safavid times, they became “representatives” of the dynasty itself and were sent as diplomatic gifts to the most important courts in Europe and presented to foreign delegations who were received at the Persian court. A close examination of the documents in the Archives of the Venetian Republic has enabled us to establish the exact date when a number of important textiles of Safavid production were brought to Venice by Persian emissaries. One example is a figurative velvet with “Virgin and Child” in the Correr Museum which was donated by Shah ‘Abbas I to Doge Grimani on 6 March 1603. By performing a technical analysis of this textile, we were able to gather important information about the elements which make up its structure. The fact we had the actual date of the textile’s arrival in Venice gave us an indis-

EMBASSY OF INDIA The Embassy of India will remain closed today, 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

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

Elisa G Mangilli putable terminus post quem we could refer to when comparing this textile structure with that of other Safavid velvets preserved in other important museum collections. This has led to a

new understanding of the chronology of Safavid textiles, particularly those from the Shah Tahmasp I to the Shah ‘Abbas II period, based on documents and scientific evidence.

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.

Costa del Sol Hotel holds annual party


osta Del Sol Hotel hosted his annual staff party, which brought together all employees and managers of the hotel. On this occasion, Rashid Hilal, General Manager of the hotel presented a speech in which he welcomed all employees and their families to this special event. He also mentioned the achievements made during the past year and future plans which will be

implemented with the efforts of all departments. He announced his appreciation for the efforts of everyone which drove the hotel to the good results noting the appreciation of the owning company for a well done job. The event included folkloric shows, folk songs, a wonderful recreational competitions involving all attendees. The gifts and

prizes seemed like a flowing spring does not end, adding an atmosphere of joy and fun for adults and young, everyone has got unique gifts and lots of fun. Staff, as well as Managers, have expressed their happiness and gratitude for the gifts and assured their intention to do everything they can to maintain the success and continuous improvement.

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

Classifieds THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2012




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ACCOMMODATION Room available in Salmiya near City Center for decent bachelor. Rent KD 75/-. Contact: 99959140. (C 3934) 5-4-2012 MATRIMONIAL RCSC parents of ancient family in Pala Dioceses invite proposal for their daughter 27 years, 157cm, BSc Nurse (Staff Nurse, MOH, Kuwait). Well placed boys with similar family background working in Kuwait. Preference to BTech, MBA, Mcom, BSc Nurse. Email: (C 3929) I am an American male looking for a wife, any nationality, but I prefer a Kuwaiti woman, age 22-34, divorced no problem. Email: (C 3935) 5-4-2012 Matrimonial correspondence invited for an Orthodox Christian boy, B.Tech + MBA, 5’7”, 30 years, fair, employed as an Associate Manager in a reputed company near Ernakulam, from parents of

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Young Gulf Arabs question cousin marriages By Regan Doherty


oor was not the first in her Qatari family to marry a close relative, but she may be one of the last. Throughout the Middle East, Africa and parts of South Asia, marriage between family members has been widely practised for thousands of years, largely as a means of securing relationships between tribes and preserving family wealth, but also as a practical necessity given that genders are often kept separate. “I wouldn’t say that my parents pressured me, but I felt that society expected it,” said Noor, who married her first cousin when she was 19. They had a son together but the marriage ended after a year and a half. “We broke up because of the family dynamics, all the interference. It’s not just the couple that’s involved, it’s the whole family,” she said, wearing the traditional black head-and-body-covering abaya and declining to give her family name. “This society has invisible constraints. They’re never mentioned, but you have to follow them.” At least half of all Gulf Arab marriages are between cousins, with at least 35 percent of Qatari marriages between first cousins, according to current research by the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies based in Dubai. In Saudi Arabia, the number ranges from 25 to 42 percent while in the United Arab Emirates, it is between 21 and 28 percent. Science vs Culture At a recent public debate on intermarriage in

Doha, much of the discussion focused on the tensions between cultural practices and the science cautioning against consanguineous marriage - defined as marriage between second cousins or closer. The discussion was part of the “Doha Debates”, a series sponsored by the Qatar Foundation and aired internationally that presents four speakers arguing for and against a controversial motion, in this case the idea that the practice of intermarriage should be discouraged. “I’m living evidence that cousin marriage doesn’t work,” said Salma, a Sudanese woman living in Qatar who was in the audience and spoke during the question and answer period. “My parents are both first cousins. My aunt married a first cousin and had two children, both of whom died young. I’m now afraid I’ll get diabetes, because everyone in my family has it.” In recent years Gulf countries have introduced mandatory premarital testing for genetic diseases including sickle cell anemia, as well as infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. In Qatar, counselling is required if a potential genetic problem is detected, though the couple are free to marry if they choose. Public awareness campaigns - particularly one started in Bahrain two decades ago targeting university students in their late teens and early 20s - have been notably successful in reducing rates of genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia in the country, Ghazi Tadmouri, assistant director of the Arab Centre for Genomic Studies in Dubai, told Reuters. Yet even Tadmouri, a geneticist, acknowledges

that the social advantages of marrying a family member might outweigh the potential genetic disadvantages in some societies. “It’s expensive to marry in the Gulf. Premarital financial negotiations are much easier when done among family members,” Tadmouri said. “And it provides a sense of security for the woman. She’s not entering into a new world, she’s entering a family she knows very well.” Others have expressed concern that testing could lead to social stigmatisation. “Gulf society is a very fragile society. These tests might suggest, ‘This girl has a problem, don’t touch her’,” said Omar, an Omani in his 20s who was in the audience. When asked in the debate if they were married to or would consider marrying a cousin or other family member, only two out of the more than 300 Qataris, citizens of other Gulf and Middle Eastern countries as well as Westerners of varying ages in the audience raised their hands. Religious Sanction Though not prohibited by Islam, Christianity or Judaism, some cite the hadith, or saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as an injunction against the practice: “Marry those who are unrelated to you, so your children do not become weak.” Others in support of it point out that the Prophet (PBUH) married his own daughter to a first cousin. “There’s a misconception that parents often force their daughters to marry within the family. Our segregated lifestyle often doesn’t allow for mixing of the sexes except within the family

environment, so many times the only chance of falling in love is within the family, because you are completely closed off from others,” Saudi author Samar Fatany told Reuters. Fatany said that whereas marrying a stranger is often frowned upon, marriage between family members promotes harmony and stability within the family, and encourages a family-focused way of life. “We’re very proud of our extended family lifestyle. It’s something we don’t want to lose.” With their tiny population of nationals - Qataris comprise only about 250,000 of the country’s 1.7 million people - choices of potential spouses, even those who are not relatives, are limited. “For Gulf Arab nationals, if you don’t marry your first cousin, you still are highly likely marry within your clan or tribe. And if you’re marrying within your clan or tribe, it’s almost certain that you’re marrying a relative, which also carries a certain degree of risk,” said Alan Bittles, a geneticist at the Centre for Comparative Genomics at Australia’s Murdoch University. “People rely on the family, the clan, for their well-being. (Gulf Arab societies) are tribal societies, and it becomes very political. Particularly if there is a weak central government, clan and tribal affiliations become much more important,” Bittles said. “You’ve got to weigh the social advantages with the potential genetic disadvantages.” Noor, now 21 and pursuing a degree in international politics at Georgetown University’s Doha campus, told Reuters she thought future generations would deal with the issue differently than she did. “I think we’re more modern than that now.” — Reuters



00:45 Untamed & Uncut 01:40 Buggin’ With Ruud 02:35 Planet Earth 03:30 Wildest Africa 04:25 Lions And Giants 05:20 Going Ape 05:45 Wildlife SOS 06:10 K9 Cops 07:00 Orangutan Island 07:25 Breed All About It 07:50 Breed All About It 08:15 The Really Wild Show 08:40 Cats Of Claw Hill 09:10 Bad Dog 10:05 Lions And Giants 11:00 Animal ER 11:55 Animal Cops Houston 12:50 New Breed Vets With Steve Irwin 13:45 SSPCA: On The Wildside 14:10 Wildlife SOS 14:40 Lions And Giants 15:30 Animal Battlegrounds 16:00 The Really Wild Show 16:30 Earthquake: Panda Rescue 17:25 Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 18:20 Cats Of Claw Hill 18:45 Cats Of Claw Hill 19:15 Wildlife SOS 19:40 Going Ape 20:10 Orangutan Island 20:35 Animal Battlegrounds 21:05 Speed Of Life 22:00 Untamed China With Nigel Marven 22:55 The Snake Buster 23:20 The Snake Buster 23:50 K9 Cops

00:20 00:45 01:10 01:40 02:25 03:10 03:35 04:00 04:50 05:35 06:05 06:55 07:20 07:45 09:00 09:25 10:10 11:00 11:50 12:40 13:35 14:00 14:25 15:10 15:55 16:40 17:35 18:00 18:25 18:50 19:15 19:40 20:30 21:25 21:50 22:15 23:00 23:55

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The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook Indian Food Made Easy Saturday Kitchen 2007/08 Living In The Sun Bargain Hunt Delicious Iceland The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook Antiques Roadshow Living In The Sun Delicious Iceland Antiques Roadshow Saturday Kitchen 2007/08 Delicious Iceland MasterChef Australia MasterChef Australia Bargain Hunt Antiques Roadshow Come Dine With Me 10 Years Younger The Restaurant UK Dolce Vito: Dream Restaurant Dolce Vito: Dream Restaurant Fantasy Homes By The Sea House Swap Bargain Hunt Antiques Roadshow Cash In The Attic USA A Taste Of My Life The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook Indian Food Made Easy Rick Stein’s French Odyssey 10 Years Younger The Restaurant UK Dolce Vito: Dream Restaurant Dolce Vito: Dream Restaurant Bargain Hunt Antiques Roadshow A Taste Of My Life

BBC World News World Business Report Sport Today BBC World News America Asia Business Report Sport Today BBC World News Asia Business Report Sport Today BBC World News Asia Business Report Sport Today Newsday Asia Business Report Sport Today

05:00 Newsday 05:30 Asia Business Report 05:45 Sport Today 06:00 Newsday 06:30 Hardtalk 07:00 Newsday 07:30 World Business Report 07:45 BBC World News 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 World Business Report 08:45 BBC World News 09:00 BBC World News 09:30 World Business Report 09:45 Sport Today 10:00 BBC World News 10:30 World Business Report 10:45 Sport Today 11:00 BBC World News 11:30 Hardtalk 12:00 BBC World News 12:30 World Business Report 12:45 Sport Today 13:00 BBC World News 13:30 BBC World News 14:00 GMT With George Alagiah 14:30 GMT With George Alagiah 15:00 BBC World News 15:30 World Business Report 15:45 Sport Today 16:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 16:30 Impact With Mishal Husain 17:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 17:30 World Business Report 17:45 Sport Today 18:00 BBC World News 18:30 Hardtalk 19:00 The Hub With Nik Gowing 19:30 The Hub With Nik Gowing 20:00 The Hub With Nik Gowing 20:30 World Business Report 20:45 Sport Today 21:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 21:30 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 22:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 22:30 World Business Report 22:45 Sport Today 23:00 BBC World News America 23:30 Hardtalk

00:00 Backstory 00:30 World Sport 01:00 The Situation Room 02:00 World Report 03:00 Anderson Cooper 360 04:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 05:00 Quest Means Business 06:00 Erin Burnett Outfront 07:00 World Sport 07:30 Talk Asia 08:00 World Report 09:00 World Report 10:00 World Sport 10:30 Eco Solutions 11:00 World Business Today 12:00 Backstory 12:30 Living Golf 13:00 World One 14:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 15:00 News Stream 16:00 World Business Today 17:00 International Desk 18:00 Global Exchange 18:45 CNN Marketplace Middle East 19:00 World Sport 19:30 Living Golf 20:00 International Desk 21:00 Quest Means Business 21:45 CNN Marketplace Europe 22:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 23:00 Connect The World With Becky...

00:15 Macintyre: World’s Toughest Towns 01:10 Destroyed In Seconds 01:35 Dirty Jobs 02:30 Overhaulin’ 03:25 Ultimate Survival 04:20 Mythbusters 05:15 How It’s Made 05:40 How Do They Do It? 06:05 Dirty Jobs 07:00 Mythbusters 07:50 Gold Rush

08:45 09:40 10:05 10:30 10:55 11:25 15:05 16:00 16:55 17:20 18:15 19:10 19:40 20:05 20:35 21:00 21:30 22:25 22:50 23:20 23:45

Swamp Loggers How Do They Do It? Cake Boss Border Security Auction Kings Kings Of Construction Kings Of Construction Overhaulin’ Wheeler Dealers Ultimate Survival Mythbusters How It’s Made How Do They Do It? Border Security Auction Kings Cake Boss Sons Of Guns I Escaped: Real Prison Breaks I Escaped: Real Prison Breaks Mobster Confessions Destroyed In Seconds

00:35 Investigation X 01:25 The Tech Show 01:50 Weird Or What? 02:40 Cool Stuff & How It Works 03:05 Cool Stuff & How It Works 03:35 Weird Connections 04:00 Weird Connections 04:25 Da Vinci’s Machines 05:20 Build It Bigger: Rebuilding Greensburg 06:10 Investigation X 07:00 The Gadget Show 07:25 The Gadget Show 07:50 Building The Biggest 08:40 Weird Or What? 09:35 Cool Stuff & How It Works 10:00 Cool Stuff & How It Works 10:25 Weird Connections 10:50 Weird Connections 11:20 Build It Bigger: Rebuilding Greensburg 12:15 Da Vinci’s Machines 13:05 Investigation X 13:55 The Gadget Show 14:20 The Gadget Show 14:50 Weird Connections 15:15 Weird Connections 15:40 The Tech Show 16:05 Build It Bigger: Rebuilding Greensburg 17:00 Building The Biggest 17:50 Super Comet: After The Impact 18:40 Sci-Fi Saved My Life 19:30 Sci-Trek 20:20 The Gadget Show 20:45 The Gadget Show 21:10 Powering The Future 22:00 Sci-Fi Saved My Life 22:50 Sci-Trek 23:40 Building The Biggest

00:15 Fairly Odd Parents 00:40 Fairly Odd Parents 01:05 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:30 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:55 Replacements 02:20 Replacements 02:45 Emperor’s New School 03:10 Emperor’s New School 03:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 04:00 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 04:25 Replacements 04:50 Replacements 05:15 Fairly Odd Parents 05:35 Fairly Odd Parents 06:00 Fish Hooks 06:15 Recess 06:40 So Random 07:05 Wizards Of Waverly Place 07:30 Good Luck Charlie 07:55 Shake It Up 08:20 Phineas And Ferb 08:45 Jessie 09:10 A.N.T. Farm 09:35 So Random 10:00 Luck Of The Irish 11:25 Phineas And Ferb 11:40 The Adventures Of Disney Fairies 12:05 The Adventures Of Disney Fairies 12:30 Wizards Of Waverly Place

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

Phineas And Ferb So Random Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place A.N.T. Farm Phineas And Ferb Recess So Random Jessie Halloweentown Phineas And Ferb Good Luck Charlie Have A Laugh Wizards Of Waverly Place Hannah Montana Phineas And Ferb Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Luck Of The Irish Phineas And Ferb Kim Possible

06:00 Kid vs Kat 06:20 American Dragon 06:45 Rekkit Rabbit 07:10 Pokemon: Black And White 07:35 Timon And Pumbaa 08:00 Phineas And Ferb 08:25 Phineas And Ferb 08:35 Phineas And Ferb 08:50 Pair Of Kings 10:05 Pair Of Kings 10:30 Kickin It 10:55 The Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes 11:20 Pair Of Kings 11:45 Zeke & Luther 12:10 Rated A For Awesome 12:35 Phineas And Ferb 13:35 Phineas And Ferb 13:45 I’m In The Band 14:10 Pair Of Kings 14:35 Zeke & Luther 15:00 Rekkit Rabbit 15:25 Pokemon: Black And White 15:50 Timon And Pumbaa 16:15 Rated A For Awesome 16:40 Pair Of Kings 17:05 Zeke & Luther 17:30 Phineas And Ferb 19:20 Phineas And Ferb 19:35 Pokemon: Black And White 20:00 Pair Of Kings 20:25 Kick Buttowski 20:50 Zeke & Luther 21:20 Aaron Stone 21:45 Phineas And Ferb 22:10 Phineas And Ferb 22:35 Kid vs Kat 23:00 Programmes Start At 6:00am KSA

00:25 Kendra 00:55 Style Star 01:25 E!es 02:20 E! Investigates 03:15 Behind The Scenes 03:40 Extreme Close-Up 04:10 Sexiest 05:05 Extreme Hollywood 06:00 THS 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Kendra 09:45 Kendra 10:15 THS 12:05 E! News 13:05 Khloe And Lamar 13:35 Khloe And Lamar 14:05 Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami 14:35 Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami 15:00 Style Star 15:30 THS 16:25 Behind The Scenes 16:55 Ice Loves Coco 17:25 Ice Loves Coco 17:55 E! News 18:55 THS 19:55 Scouted 20:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 21:25 Fashion Police 22:25 E! News 23:25 Chelsea Lately 23:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians

00:15 From Romania With Love 00:40 Blood, Sweat And Gears 01:30 World Combat League 02:20 Featured 02:45 From Romania With Love 03:10 Enfusion 04:00 Man’s Work 04:50 Blood, Sweat And Gears 05:40 World Combat League 06:30 Ride Guide Mountainbike 2008 07:30 Ride Guide Snow 2008 08:00 IFMXF 2010 08:25 Continuum 09:15 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships... 10:55 Eddie Jordan’s Bad Boy Racers 11:45 Formula Drift 2011 12:35 Slovaki: A True Movie About... 13:00 Jump The Brazilian Gap 13:25 Blood, Sweat And Gears 14:15 World Combat League 15:05 Eddie Jordan’s Bad Boy Racers 15:55 Formula Drift 2011 16:45 IFMXF 2010 17:10 Continuum 18:00 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships... 18:50 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships... 19:40 Blood, Sweat And Gears 20:30 Slovaki: A True Movie About... 20:55 Jump The Brazilian Gap 21:20 Pinks: Lose The Race, Lose Your Ride 21:45 Pinks: Lose The Race, Lose Your Ride 22:10 World Combat League 23:00 Enfusion 23:50 Slovaki: A True Movie About...


00:05 00:30 00:55 01:45 02:10 02:35

Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Kid In A Candy Store Unwrapped Kid In A Candy Store Kid In A Candy Store Good Eats - Special

03:00 Good Eats - Special 03:25 Easy Chinese: San Francisco 03:50 Easy Chinese: San Francisco 04:15 Dessert First With Anne Thornton 04:40 Good Eats 05:05 Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam 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 Dessert First With Anne Thornton 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 Food Network Challenge 12:50 Aarti Party 13:15 Cooking For Real 13:40 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 14:05 Dessert First With Anne Thornton 14:30 Unique Sweets 14:55 Paula’s Best Dishes 15:20 Meat & Potatoes 15:45 Easter Sweets With Jacques Torres 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 Dessert First With Anne Thornton 19:05 Unique Sweets 19:30 Food Network Challenge 20:20 Chopped 21:10 Cooking For Real 21:35 Cooking For Real 22:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 22:25 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 22:50 Aarti Party 23:15 Aarti Party 23:40 Meat & Potatoes

00:30 01:20 02:05 02:55 03:45 04:30 05:20 06:10 07:00 07:50 08:40 09:30 09:55 10:20 Jones 11:10 12:00 12:25 12:50 13:40 14:30 14:55 15:20 Jones 16:10 17:00 17:50 18:40 19:05 19:55 20:20 Jones 21:10 22:00 22:50 23:40

01:55 03:25 05:25 07:05 08:40 PG 10:15 10:30 12:25 14:25 FAM 16:00 18:35 20:15 22:00 23:55

Ghost Lab Mysterious Journeys I Almost Got Away With It Extreme Drug Smuggling Dr. G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Mysterious Journeys Disappeared Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Mystery ER Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Street Patrol Street Patrol Murder Shift Mystery ER Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Forensic Detectives Murder Shift Real Emergency Calls Mystery ER Who On Earth Did I Marry? True Crime With Aphrodite Disappeared Kidnap And Rescue Fugitive Strike Force Dr. G: Medical Examiner

Gothic Thieves Like Us-PG The End-PG Holiday Heart-PG Dirty Dozen: Deadly MissionMgm’s Big Screen-FAM The Bridge At Remagen-PG Comes A Horseman-PG I’ll Be Home For ChristmasIt’s A Mad Mad World-FAM High Tide-PG Nobody’s Fool Silent Victim-18 Welcome To L.A.-18

00:00 Treks In A Wild World 00:30 Sahara Sprinters 01:00 On Surfari 01:30 Word of Mouth 02:00 Warrior Road Trip 03:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 04:00 Adventure Wanted 05:00 A World Apart 06:00 Treks In A Wild World 06:30 Sahara Sprinters 07:00 On Surfari 07:30 Word of Mouth 08:00 Warrior Road Trip 09:00 Don’t Tell My Mother 10:00 Adventure Wanted 11:00 A World Apart 12:00 Treks In A Wild World 12:30 Sahara Sprinters 13:00 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 13:30 Bondi Rescue: Bali 14:00 One Man & His Campervan 14:30 One Man & His Campervan 15:00 Exploring The Vine 15:30 The Music Nomad 16:00 Geo Sessions 16:30 Geo Sessions 17:00 Dive Detectives 18:00 Departures 19:00 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 19:30 Bondi Rescue: Bali 20:00 One Man & His Campervan 20:30 One Man & His Campervan 21:00 Exploring The Vine 21:30 The Music Nomad 22:00 Geo Sessions 22:30 Geo Sessions 23:00 Dive Detectives


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X2-PG Iron Man 2-PG15 X-Men-PG15 Patriot Games-PG15 Little Big Soldier-PG15 Taxi-PG15 The Warlords-PG15 Little Big Soldier-PG15 Wild Bill-PG15 The Warlords-PG15 Jonah Hex-PG15 The Green Hornet-PG15

01:00 Crazy-18 03:00 African Cats: Kingdom Of Courage-PG 05:00 St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend Of Fritton’s Gold-PG15 07:00 Sounds Like Teen Spirit-PG15 09:00 The LXD: The Uprising BeginsPG15 11:00 African Cats: Kingdom Of Courage-PG 13:00 St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend Of Fritton’s Gold-PG15 15:00 A Trace Of Danger-PG15 17:00 The LXD: The Uprising BeginsPG15 18:45 Tron: Legacy-PG15 21:00 Attack The Block-PG15 23:00 Hot Tub Time Machine-18

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Angry Boys 02:00 Louie 02:30 Family Guy 03:00 Melissa And Joey 03:30 Mad Love 04:00 The Simpsons 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne 06:00 Weird Science 06:30 How I Met Your Mother 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 The Simpsons 08:30 Melissa And Joey 09:00 Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne 09:30 Raising Hope 10:00 Traffic Light 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 Mad Love 14:30 Traffic Light 15:00 Raising Hope 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:30 Weird Science 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Melissa And Joey 18:30 Mad Love 19:00 Cougar Town 19:30 Traffic Light 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 The Big C 22:30 Louie 23:00 Family Guy 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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Grimm The Glades Law & Order: Criminal Intent Once Upon A Time Combat Hospital Live Good Morning America C.S.I. Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Martha Stewart Show The View Once Upon A Time Live Good Morning America C.S.I. The Ellen DeGeneres Show Emmerdale Look-A-Like Psych

20:00 American Idol 22:00 Necessary Roughness 23:00 Combat Hospital

00:00 01:00 02:00 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 22:00 23:00

Bones Law & Order: Criminal Intent Grimm The Glades Once Upon A Time One Tree Hill Bones Emmerdale Coronation Street The Nine Lives Of Chloe King Law & Order: Criminal Intent The Glades Once Upon A Time Emmerdale Parks And Recreation The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Nine Lives Of Chloe King Bones Emmerdale Parks And Recreation The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Nine Lives Of Chloe King Psych American Idol Necessary Roughness Mildred Pierce

01:15 03:30 05:15 07:30 PG15 09:15 11:00 13:00 15:00 16:45 19:00 21:00 23:00

Iron Man 2-PG15 X-Men-PG15 X2-PG Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow-

00:00 02:30 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 PG 12:00 14:00 15:30 18:00 PG15 20:00 22:00

The Lost Future-PG15 Altitude-PG15 Arctic Predator-PG15 The Lost Future-PG15 In The Line Of Fire-PG15 Jonah Hex-PG15 The Green Hornet-PG15 The Spirit-PG15

Renaissance Man-PG15 Jack Goes Boating-PG15 French Kiss-PG15 That Old Feeling-PG15 Mr. Wrong-PG15 Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid102 Dalmatians-PG Rat-PG Renaissance Man-PG15 Return To Sleepaway CampCrazy On The Outside-PG15 Mallrats-18

01:45 Guilty As Sin-PG15 03:30 The Burning Plain-18 05:15 All The Pretty Horses-PG15 07:15 Celine: Through The Eyes Of The World-PG15 09:15 Little Man Tate-PG 11:15 Return To Rajapur-PG15 13:00 Bond Of Silence-PG15 15:00 Across The Sea Of Time-FAM 16:15 Invictus-PG15 19:00 The Sting II-PG 21:00 Agora-18 23:15 Sea Of Love-18

01:00 Paranormal Activity 2-18 03:00 The Wronged Man-PG15 05:00 Ice Age-FAM 07:00 Stone Of Destiny-PG15 09:00 You Again-PG15 11:00 StreetDance-PG15 13:00 African Cats: Kingdom Of Courage-PG 15:00 Dear John-PG15 17:00 You Again-PG15 18:45 The A-Team-PG15 21:00 Attack The Block-PG15 23:00 The Switch-18

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:15 10:00

Last Of The Mohicans-PG The Prince Of Dinosaurs-PG True Story Of Puss’n Boots-PG Furry Vengeance-PG The Thief Of Baghdad-PG Megamind-FAM

12:00 In Search Of The Titanic-PG 14:00 True Story Of Puss’n Boots-PG 16:00 The Adventures Of Elmo In Grouchland-PG 18:00 Megamind-FAM 20:00 Cars 2-FAM 22:00 In Search Of The Titanic-PG

00:00 Volvo Ocean Race Highlights 00:30 Super Rugby Highlights 01:30 Futbol Mundial 02:00 Dubai World Cup 07:00 Premier League Darts 10:30 Trans World Sport 11:30 Super Rugby Highlights 12:30 Live Super Rugby 14:30 Futbol Mundial 15:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 16:00 Trans World Sport 17:00 Super Rugby 19:00 WWE NXT 20:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 21:00 Live Premier League Darts

00:00 00:30 01:00 04:30 05:00 05:30 06:00 07:00 07:30 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:30 11:00 11:30 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 17:00 17:30 18:30 19:30 20:30 21:45

European PGA Tour Highlights Mobil 1 The Grid Premier League Darts Futbol Mundial European PGA Tour Highlights Top 14 Highlights Super Rugby Highlights Total Rugby AFL Winners NRL Full Time Futbol Mundial SPL Highlights City Center Races City Center Races Adventure Sports Adventure Sports Adventure Sports Trans World Sports Golfing World Super Rugby European PGA Tour Highlights AFL Winners Golfing World Trans World Sports Asian Tour Highlights Live European Challenge Cup

01:30 Volvo Ocean Race Highlights 02:00 Top 14 Highlights 02:30 European Tour Weekly 03:00 Ironman 04:00 Ironman 05:00 City Centre Races 05:30 City Centre Races 06:00 Ping Pong World Championship 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 Asian Tour Golf Show 08:30 Asian Tour Highlights 09:30 AFL Premiership 12:00 Asian Tour Golf Show 12:30 Golfing World 13:30 Super Rugby Highlights 14:30 Scottish Premier League 16:30 Futbol Mundial 17:00 Asian Tour Golf Show 17:30 NRL Full Time 18:00 Total Rugby 18:30 Super Rugby 20:30 City Centre Races 21:00 City Centre Races 21:30 Live Super League

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V8 Supercars Highlights Prizefighter UFC Unleashed UFC Unleashed UFC Unleashed WWE SmackDown Prizefighter WWE Experience WWE Vintage Collection WWE Bottom Line V8 Supercars Extra V8 Supercars Highlights V8 Supercars Highlights UAE National Race Day Series UAE National Race Day Series Mobil 1 The Grid WWE NXT UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC UFC Unleashed



stars CROSSWORD 638



Aries (March 21-April 19) Your confidence is high, making this a super day to deal with others. This is also a good time to lead the way on a project—for your originality is finely tuned. If you should get a group together, everyone will feel a mutual benefit. It is also a great time to expand your horizons, learn new things and meet new people. You may find yourself in a class as a student, or perhaps the teacher. You could come up with new solutions or inventions this afternoon that will make everyone’s job easier. Teaching, learning, communicating and social contact has a way of outlining new directions in your life and there is much activity and involvement with these kinds of issues at this time. Care must be given to the practical use of money.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) This is an easy, relaxed sort of day—particularly if you avoid excesses. You are inclined to expect that the world will come to you—do not expect too much. There is a line between relaxation and laziness. Life can be beautiful when you feel you have contributed your own talents. If you give your best effort now, success will be sure to follow. You should experience all the benefits of this most powerful planet. There is enough energy available for you to successfully tackle any problem involved with your profession or your personal life. This evening, friendships will be most pleasant. Your energy level is good and it’s best to apply it in practical pursuits. You may want to show up at a community meeting—pay attention.

POOCH CAFE ACROSS 1. A fatal disease of cattle that affects the central nervous system. 4. The basic unit of money in Israel. 10. Having undesirable or negative qualities. 13. A drug combination found in some over-the-counter headache remedies (Aspirin and Phenacetin and Caffeine). 14. A salt of any halogen acid. 15. A federal agency established to coordinate programs aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 16. A police officer who investigates crimes. 17. A sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury. 18. Aromatic bulb used as seasoning. 19. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 21. A mountain peak in the southern Sinai Peninsula (7,500 feet high). 23. (prefix) Opposite or opposing or neutralizing. 24. A radioactive transuranic element produced by bombarding plutonium with neutrons. 25. An Arabic speaking person who lives in Arabia or North Africa. 28. The sense organ for hearing and equilibrium. 30. The 3rd planet from the sun. 34. A dialect of Chinese spoken in southeastern China. 36. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 38. A sensation (as of a cold breeze or bright light) that precedes the onset of certain disorders such as a migraine attack or epileptic seizure. 39. A member of the Semitic speaking people of northern Ethiopia. 41. Of or relating to Passover or Easter. 43. The cry made by sheep. 44. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 45. Date used in reckoning dates before the supposed year Christ was born. 46. The seed of the cereal grass. 48. An associate degree in applied science. 50. A salesman who travels to call on customers. 54. A river in southeastern Australia that flows generally northwest to join the Darling River. 58. A city in northern India. 59. Tropical woody herb with showy yellow flowers and flat pods. 62. Plant with an elongated head of broad stalked leaves resembling celery. 63. Title for the former hereditary monarch of Iran. 64. A slender double-reed instrument. 65. On or toward the lee. 66. God of love and erotic desire. 67. A quantity of no importance. 68. Type genus of the Alcidae comprising solely the razorbill.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) This is a great day for achievement and a most energetic period—filling you with a great desire to succeed in all spheres of your life. Working with partners in an open, honest environment can only bring good fortune to you now. Your personal goals are clearly visible and you should take great strides in reaching them. If you are in a business that can show off your talents, you are indeed a happy camper! Unearthing previously unrealized talents can be a positive answer to your extra income now. This time usually brings about good conditions and communication among co-workers, particularly with the opposite sex. You want to be with friends and to have a good time this afternoon. Any type of social activity should bring favorable results.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)


You are captivating. People want to know your secrets and many would like your energy. You have creative ideas and can present these ideas to higher-ups with great success. This may be as advertisement ideas, short cuts, proofing techniques or perhaps a motivating contest for the employees. Whatever the case, you are determined to make a positive difference and would be wise to keep up the pace of your good work. You find yourself enjoying a long conversation, writing a letter, or making a special phone call this afternoon. A friend may seek you out for your advice regarding a very personal issue. Helping someone else will help you to understand your own life progress. If something puzzles you, an older, wiser head may give guidance.

Leo (July 23-August 22) This is a time when you can expect a little boost, some sort of extra support or recognition from those around you. You may feel that you are in touch and in harmony with others—the lines of communication are open. Though you may prefer to be around old friends, you certainly will not close the door on making new ones just now. However you interact with people today—communicating one-on-one, leading a group toward a common goal, convincing others in a sales or public relations effort—you will be a winner; all will feel the warmth of your compassion. It will be genuine and it will be appreciated. You seem relaxed more than usual and are, perhaps, more in tune with your own needs. You may value a loved one’s company this evening.


Virgo (August 23-September 22) Your success in solving problems today is like magic. You may be requested to solve problems in a special situation. Your ability to navigate difficulties is quite good. Whatever you start now will have beneficial results. This is a great time to begin a new and positive habit. Perhaps a more nutritional way of feeding your body would be acceptable. Communicating and getting your message across to others is at a high. Your timing is perfect and those around you should find you most spontaneous. Taxes may prove less taxing than usual this month; you have an understanding of how to manage your financial affairs this year. You will help to give someone emotional support this evening. Tonight you help with a special dinner or party.

Libra (September 23-October 22) DOWN 1. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 2. A detailed description of design criteria for a piece of work. 3. (computer science) A coding system that incorporates extra parity bits in order to detect errors. 4. United States artist whose work reflected social and political themes (1898-1969). 5. The wrist bone in line with the 4th and 5th fingers. 6. Resembling or characteristic of or appropriate to an elegy. 7. The basic unit of money in Papua New Guinea. 8. A doctor's degree in education. 9. A tenant who holds a lease. 10. Any of various edible seeds of plants of the family Leguminosae. 11. The capital of Western Samoa. 12. Surrealist Spanish painter (1904-1989). 20. A coffee cake flavored with orange rind and raisins and almonds. 22. (Old Testament) The second patriarch. 26. Avatar of Vishnu. 27. A Loloish language. 29. A reproach for some lapse or misdeed. 31. A tributary of the Rhine. 32. An open receptacle for holding or displaying or serving articles or food. 33. Exhibiting or restored to vigorous good health. 35. An anti-TNF compound (trade name Arava) that is given orally. 37. A small cake leavened with yeast. 40. The trait of lacking restraint or control. 42. The act of scanning. 47. A member of the Siouan people formerly living in the Missouri river valley in NE Nebraska. 49. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 50. An associate degree in nursing. 51. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 52. A metric unit of weight equal to one thousandth of a kilogram. 53. Wearing footgear. 55. A public area set aside as a pedestrian walk. 56. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 57. The United Nations agency concerned with atomic energy. 60. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 61. A unit of length of thread or yarn.

Yesterday’s Solution


In-depth discussions and probing conversations find you at your mental best. You can open up discussions into new and helpful directions. You may need to use your persuasive talents in getting people to perform and accomplish outside the norm but you will be successful. Projects that need finishing can be handled efficiently. If you have been considering a new business venture, today is an exceptional day to begin. It is also a good day for travel. You have a clear-minded insight into your own plans and methods. This is a good time for decisions. Loved ones, children and other people or things dear to your heart are emphasized this afternoon. You love being involved with the education of the children.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Your attitude for today is that everything’s coming up roses and optimism rules the day. Life is for living and you cannot wait to partake of all those new and rewarding experiences that are waiting to enthrall you! Do not go overboard, but have fun! Maternal instincts that come to the forefront now may encourage you to make every effort to appease any discordance in the home. This is a time in which you may desire peace and quiet in the family setting. Also, there is a strong wish to make your surroundings as pleasant as possible. Any doubts about your capabilities fade into the background—you are encouraged to be expressive. There is an opportunity to convene with nature or dive into music this evening.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) You know how to gain the support you need for the work you are trying to accomplish. Do not be afraid to talk about what you want to accomplish in front of the people that you know will support you. You could be seen by others as just the person to be put in charge of some project requiring a conservative mind. Difficulties and all manner of hot spots are the challenges you look to answer. You have a natural sense of what the public wants at this time. Clear decisions affecting others could be made now. There is someone older in your family or among your friends with whom you can discuss the solution to world problems. At least in discussing world affairs there is some insight into solving personal affairs.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)


Your emotions are very close to the surface today. Your sensitivity to the needs of others is heightened and your desire to help is strong. This should be one great day to work with people. If you are a salesperson, you should double your quota today! Although you do well in the workplace, whatever your job identity is, you will desire to improve and move forward in your professional life. This period in your life indicates a time span when fundamental beliefs about your position in society and responsibilities as an adult are seriously examined. You may decide a job change or upgrade is in order. This evening is a great time for social activities—a little R and R is suitable. Things will be going your way this evening for socializing activities.

Yesterday’s Solution Yester

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Stimulation from others is motivating now. You are especially hardworking and ambitious on the professional level. You are readily receptive to all thoughts that impinge upon you. Any ongoing project should be a great success. It’s best to rely on facts rather than feelings during this time. You should enjoy being around people in general; however, the understanding between you and your significant other is especially strong. With a new understanding, you can be quite nurturing. Work is definitely on the back burner this afternoon, although you could be inspired to plan a future home repair or garden changes. For now, consider displaying a different arrangement of family pictures. Carefully consider your choice of food and drink this evening.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

Word Sleuth Solution

Any kind of work that requires precise thinking and concentration will have your attention for today. Do not let all this concentration isolate you from others, however, or make you feel lonely. Take care to include yourself in some activity that is full of pleasant communication. You can become a mentor to others as you move about your day. Take frequent breaks and fire up the office jokester later this afternoon. Also, love is in full bloom during this time and it is a good time to be affectionate to loved ones. Additionally, your powers of creativity are great. You could write poetry or music or do some other creative achievement. There is a potential for much personal growth. Couples will be enjoying a romantic evening together tonight.



lifestyle G O S S I P


Beatles offsprings could form next generation band


with partner C

ustralian singer and TV personality Dannii Minogue said yesterday she had split from partner Kris Smith, a former British rugby league player and father of her baby son. “It brings me great sadness to tell you that Kris & I have separated,” the younger sister of pop star Kylie Minogue tweeted. “We still care for each other and ask for privacy at this difficult time, in particular for our son Ethan who remains our number one priority.” The former “X Factor” judge later posted: “Hi Tweet peeps. Needing to retreat for a while. Thank you for your ever loving continued support.” Minogue, 40, met Smith, now a model, on the party island Ibiza in 2008. The couple, whose son Ethan arrived in July 2010, spent their time between London and Melbourne, where Minogue recently launched a fashion label and is a judge on “Australia’s Got Talent”. Smith, 33, also commented on the break-up on Twitter. “Dannii and I have a deep mutual love and respect for each other and although things have not worked out we have a gorgeous son together that we both love and implore everyone to respect our privacy at this challenging time,” he said. Minogue was once briefly married to Australian actor Julian McMahon and had been engaged to Formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve.


Watergate subject for Redford-owned Sundance Productions obert Redford has launched a new company, Sundance Productions, with a documentary about the Watergate scandal among the first projects on its slate, the actor said Tuesday. Redford’s partner in the venture is Laura Michalchyshyn, a programmer, producer and television executive who has worked for the Sundance Channel, Discovery Communications and Alliance Atlantis. The company will “create, develop and produce authentic fiction and nonfiction content programming that can be distributed on broadcast and cable TV, digital platforms and channels,” according to a release announcing the launch. Redford said that Sundance Productions will strive to “address critical stories across a multitude of relevant platforms.” “Interesting talent and smart collaboration in creating special television content and media-that’s what we’re about,” Michalchyshyn added. The company’s slate will launch with two productions, among them “All the President’s Men Revisited,” a two-hour television documentary commissioned by Discovery Channel Worldwide. “All the President’s Men Revisited” will explore the Watergate scandal, providing “an overview of the startling history with a deeper investigation into the legacy of the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times.” Redford played journalist Bob Woodward, one half of the team that broke the Watergate story, in the 1976 film “All the President’s Men.” The actor will narrate and executive-produce the project in association with Michalchyshyn and Andy Lack. Peter Schnall, who’s produced and directed such government-centered projects as “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” and “Secret Service Files,” will direct. Sundance hopes for a January 2013 broadcast.


ould Beatlemania see a revival through the offspring of the Fab Four? James McCartney, son of Beatles singer Paul McCartney, said a new generation of The Beatles could be on the horizon, in an interview with the BBC published on its website on Monday. The 34-year-old musician, who is following his famous father’s footsteps into the industry, said that forming a band with fellow Beatles children Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon), Dhani Harrison (son of George Harrison) and Zak and Jason Starkey (Ringo Starr’s sons) was

not out of the question. “I don’t think it’s something that Zak wants to do. Maybe Jason would want to do it. I’d be up for it. Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it. I’d be happy to do it,” said McCartney. Asked if the band realistically could happen, the singer added, “Yeah, hopefully, naturally. I don’t know, you’d have to wait and see. The will of God, nature’s support, I guess. So yeah, maybe.” The Beatles, who hailed from Liverpool, England, became one of the best-selling bands in the world in the 1960s, triggering a wave

Timberlake persuaded Biel to have a big wedding

ustin Timberlake has persuaded Jessica Biel to have a big wedding. The 30-year-old actress initially wanted to tie the knot in an intimate ceremony in front of a few guests but her fiance has now persuaded her to turn the nuptials into a huge celebration. A source told People magazine: “Justin and Jessica are planning a big summer wedding. “Jessica initially wanted a smaller, more intimate wedding, but Justin from the beginning wanted a big wedding and that’s what they have decided on.” Jessica has yet to decide on her dress but is “very involved” in planning the ceremony, with the source revealing the couple plan to “include all their friends”. The insider added: “Justin has promised her the best day ever.” While Jessica - who split from Justin last year only for them to rekindle their romance before the ‘Social Network’ star popped the question - hasn’t yet found her dress, it was recently claimed she already knows who she wants to design her gown. A source said: “Monique Lhuillier has sent over some sketches. She’s Jessica’s first choice.” And the pair are said to be getting a lot of help with planning their big day from Justin’s mother, Lynn Harless. The source said: “She’s helping with every little thing.”


of Beatlemania for hits like “Love Me Do”, “Yellow Submarine” and “Let it Be.” They split in a bitter breakup in the early 1970s, and went on to solo careers. The younger McCar tney is currently launching his own music career after playing with his father on two of his albums, and said his rock lineage has helped him in his career, welcoming comparisons between himself and his father. “I think it’s an honor. I don’t really think I am quite as good as The Beatles or my father but there are definitely influences,” said the singer.

Blunt is obsessed with golf he ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ star - who is married to ‘The Office’ actor John Krasinski - loves being outdoors and has now purchased a special outfit to wear when she is hitting the irons on a golf course. She said: “I’ve just started to play golf. I really like being outdoors and there’s something cool about whizzing around on a golf cart with ice-cold beers. “I even have a golf outfit, which I actually like to wear.” When the 29-year-old beauty is at home, she enjoys baking - and admits she often watches cookery shows on the television to relax. She said: “I’m so homey. I’m really good at making lasagne. And I enjoy baking, too. I made a brownie pie the other day and shovelled half of it into my mouth. If I’m at home, then the temptation to watch the Food Network is too much, so what I have to do is remove myself and go and read a book.” However Emily does work out regularly to keep in shape although she doesn’t enjoy it. She added to Britain’s Elle magazine: “I go to the gym, too, although I do like yoga and walking. But does anyone really love going to the gym?”


Adams to star in NY’s Shakespeare in the Park

Delon, 76,

hospitalized in Paris

Veteran French actor Alain Delon was hospitalized in Paris yesterday, the 76-year-old’s assistant said, after reports claimed he was being treated for heart problems. French website Pure People reported that Delon was admitted to the American hospital in Neuilly, on the edge of Paris, to be treated for an irregular heartbeat. Contacted by AFP, Delon’s assistant said he went in for a check-up, declining to comment on the report or to say whether he had been discharged. “Alain Delon is in good health,” she said. “Like any person who takes care of their health, he was in for a check-up.” The hospital declined to comment. Born on November 8, 1935, Delon has starred in close to 100 films over the course of a five-decade career, becoming one of France’s best known actors around the world.

scar nominee Amy Adams has signed on to play the Baker’s Wife in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” one of the productions for the 50th anniversary season of free Shakespeare in the Park performances at The Delacorte in New York City. “Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s beloved musical that won three Tonys when it opened on Broadway in 1987, will begin previews on July 23 and continue through Aug 25. The Public Theater also announced Tuesday that “The Big C” star Oliver Platt will join the cast of “As You Like It,” playing Touchstone.


Adams, who was nominated for best supporting actress Oscars for “The Fighter” in 2010, “Doubt” in 2008 and “Junebug” in 2005, trained as a dancer and appeared in mostly dinner theater productions before moving into television and film. Joining Adams in “Into the Woods”: Jack Broderick (Narrator), Gideon Glick (Jack), Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel’s Prince), Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf ), Tina Johnson (Granny), Josh Lamon (Steward), Jessie Mueller (Cinderella), Laura Shoop (Cinderella’s Mother) and Tess Soltau (Rapunzel), with Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel directing. “As You Like

It,” which begins previews on June 5 and runs through June 30, will feature a southern spin on Shakespeare’s play, with comedian/actor/author/musician Steve Martin writing original music for the production. “As You Like It” also will feature a live bluegrass band, with the Forest of Arden set in the rural American south. Rounding out the cast of “As You Like It”: Robert Joy (Le Beau, Lord), MacIntyre Dixon (Adam), David Furr (Orlando), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Celia), Omar Metwally (Oliver), Lily Rabe (Rosalind) and Stephen Spinella (Jaques), with Daniel Sullivan directing. — Bang showbiz


lifestyle F E A T U R E S

Visitors look at antiquites at the National Archeological museum. —AFP photos

Amid debt crisis, archaeology becomes Greece’s Achilles heel


aced with massive public debt, Greece is finding that its fabled antiquity heritage is proving a growing burden-with licensed digs postponed, illegal ones proliferating, museum staff trimmed and valuable pieces stolen. “Greece’s historic remains have become our curse,” whispered an archaeologist at a recent media event organized to protest spending cuts imposed on the country for the past two years as a condition for European Union and International Monetary Fund loans. With Greece moving into a fifth year of recession, licensed archaeology digs are finding it ever harder to obtain public funds while antiquity smuggling is on the rise, archaeologists warned at the meeting. “There are an increasing number of illegal digs near archaeological sites,” said Despina Koutsoumba, head of the association of Greek archaeologists. “Some of them are excavated by semiprofessionals who work for art trafficking networks. Others are done by treasure hunters,” she told AFP. Last month, Greek police arrested 44 people and recovered thousands of ancient coins and numerous Byzantine icons after smashing a large antiquity smuggling ring in northern Greece. In October, another gang was arrested in possession of Macedonian golden grave offerings from the 6th century BC which were valued at some 11.3 million euros ($14.8 million). Some senior archaeologists have argued that given the lack of funds for archaeological research, it would be wiser to rebury valuable discoveries to better protect them. “Let us leave our antiquities in the soil, to be found by archaeologists in 10,000 AD, when Greeks and their politicians will perhaps show more respect to their history,” Michalis Tiverios, a professor of archaeology at Thessaloniki’s Aristotelio University, told Ta Nea daily in early March. For now, the penury seems to have spared the work of foreign archaeology schools which have helped bring to light some of the country’s most important sites from the late 19th century onwards. But even here, creative accounting is sometimes called for. Resources are badly stretched to nonexistent “The Greek state is obliged to provide a certain share of financing for each excavation,” said a foreign school representative, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But as there’s no more money available, we put in our budget calculations the use of state facilities such as storage areas or lots,” he said. Greek archaeologists said last month that funding for the country’s archaeological service fell by 35 percent to 12 million euros ($15.7 million) last year, and will be further reduced this year. One out of 10 culture ministry employ-

ees has been dismissed, and 3,500 temporary staff brought in to allow museums, sites and excavations to operate. Greece’s financial difficulties and staff shortages did not take long to attract unwanted atten-

Visitors sit outside the National Archeological museum in Athens.

tion. In January, a unique Picasso and two other artworks were stolen from the Athens National Gallery during a staff strike. A month later, two armed men stole over 70 objects from a museum in ancient Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games. Out of 106 archaeological and Byzantine museums, 250 organized archaeological sites and another 19,000 known locations of importance, only a handful have been spared the ravages of the Greek debt crisis, archaeologists say. Alongside the Acropolis in Athens, Greece’s top site where EU-financed restoration has continued for decades, these include the Minoan palace complex of Knossos on Crete, the sanctuaries of Delphi, Olympia and Vergina, the necropolis of ancient Macedonian kings. But elsewhere, resources are badly-stretched to non-existent. The national archaeological museum in Athens and the museum of Byzantine art in Thessaloniki routinely shut down entire halls because of shortage of guards. In Corinth, where the American School of Classical Studies has maintained an excavation for more than a century, the site closes at 3:00 pm because of staff shortages. And on the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea, where important finds dating to the Neolithic period have been found, some museums will stay closed until May when the heavy tourist season gets underway. “If they’re not open to the public, they’re storehouses, not museums,” said Koutsoumba, the archaeologist association chief. — AFP


n extremely rare Chinese porcelain bowl fetched nearly $27 million yesterday, smashing pre-sale estimates by about three times, as Sotheby’s wrapped up its season’s sale in Hong Kong. The modest-look ing imperial ceramic bowl that was made around 900 years ago had been expected to fetch up to HK$80 million, but it was snapped up by an unidentified telephone bidder for HK$208 million ($26.7 million). The price sets a new record for a piece of ceramic from the Northern Song Dynasty (9601127), according to Sotheby’s, dwarfing the price for a “Guan” Mallet Vase, which went for HK$67.52 million in 2008. “The piece is possibly the greatest masterpiece of Song ceramic that we have ever offered in Hong Kong,” Sotheby’s Asia deputy chairman Nicolas Chow said. “It is a piece of Ruyao, which is probably the most fabled type of Chinese ceramic ever to have been created,” he told reporters. Eight hopefuls competed for over 15 minutes during intense bidding for the extraordinarily rare flower-shaped bowl, which Chow said drew worldwide bidders but “mostly from Asia”. “We didn’t know it was going to be such a phenomenon,” he said. “Ru” ceramics-named after one of five large kilns operating under the Song-are the rarest in China, and it is estimated that only 79 complete pieces remain in the world, most in museums. The “Ruyao Washer” is the only bowl that features an organic floral shape and an opaque glaze. The interest and price is testament to the vitality of Asia’s art market, which has witnessed explosive growth over the past decade-despite disappointing sales last year amid a fragile global economic outlook. Sotheby’s five-day sale of wine, jewellery, ceramics, watches and Chinese artan event seen as a yardstick of Asian collectors’ sentiment-suggested a rebound in the market. Sotheby’s raked in HK$468 million on Tuesday from its fine Chinese paintings sale, more than double the forecast, in an auction that it said was dominated by

A porcelain bowl, known as the Ruyao Washer is held by deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, Nicolas Chow, at a press conference after it was auctioned off at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong yesterday. — AFP photos

“spirited competition from greater China”. The star lot was Chinese painter Qi Baishi’s “Willows At The Riverside; Begonias”-a rare pair of gold screens depic ting Chinese landscape and flowers that fetched HK$70.1 million, tripling its presale estimates. The two-day wine sale series over the weekend also beat estimates and achieved a total of HK$63.6 million after all lots were sold, driven by strong

National Magazine Awards nominees announced


he New Yorker’s probe into the fight between filmmaker Paul Haggis and Scientology and Vice magazine are both up for National Magazine Awards. Has the American Society of Magazine Editors embraced Hollywood and hipsters? Not exactly. The New Yorker is up for general interest magazine of the year (print division), as are Vice, GQ, New York and the remade Bloomberg Businessweek. Vice is the only one of those magazines never nominated before. Beyond that, there is much of the same. The New Yorker led the charge in reporting, taking two nominations - one for the Scientology

piece, “The Apostate,” and one for “Getting Bin Laden.” The Atlantic, Vanity Fair and Los Angeles were nominated as well. The late Christopher Hitchens is up for column writing, where he’ll posthumously face off with Time’s Joel Stein, The Atlantic’s James Parker and others. Two New York magazines were the mostnominated; both the New Yorker and New York nabbed six. Conde Nast was the big winner among publishers, taking 24 nominations as compared to 10 for Hearst and seven for Time Inc. As New York’s Kathryn Schulz pointed out on Twitter, perhaps the most traditional aspect of all this was that men dominated. While

some women did get nominations, none were in the categories of reporting, feature writing, profiles, essays or columns. The profile writing category in particular favored men with ESPN, Men’s Journal and Sports Illustrated occupying three of the five spots. Despite all of the usual suspects, the nomination for Vice is a validation of its growing relevance. It has built itself into a multimedia empire, offering a massive amount of video content to go with its blogs, magazines and more. Now it gets to see if it can compete with the big boys in the world of boring old print. — Reuters

A picture shows waxwork models of Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William during their unveiling at Madame Tussauds waxwork museum in central London yesterday. —AFP

demand in the “mature, classic” Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. Hong Kong has emerged as one of the biggest auction hubs alongside New York and London, fuelled by China’s economic boom and demand from Asian collectors, especially cash-rich mainland Chinese buyers. Global art auction sales rose to a record $11.5 billion in 2011, according to Francebased market data provider Artprice, with China cementing its spot as the top market with $4.79 billion in sales.— AFP




f her more than 100 films, only seven have been in English. So Catherine Deneuve said she was surprised to win an American film award. But nobody else seemed surprised as Deneuve, an icon of French cinema as well as a global star renowned for her icy beauty, was handed the 39th annual Chaplin Award by the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Monday evening. “Catherine Deneuve seems to have been made for cinema, and cinema for her,” said director Martin Scorsese of the actress, now 68. “She IS French cinema.” He added: “She seems to be getting more adventurous every year.” Indeed, a theme of the evening was not so much Deneuve’s beauty - she was famously the face of Chanel No. 5 and a muse of Yves Saint Laurent - but her fearlessness: She is known for taking chances. Actress Susan Sarandon referred to that facet of her career as she quipped, “I am probably the only presenter who’s actually slept with Catherine Deneuve” - a reference to their steamy sex scenes in “The Hunger,” the 1983 film in which Deneuve played an Egyptian vampire. Deneuve’s daughter, film actress Chiara Mastroianni, spoke of a mother who was fearless off-screen as well, noting her involvement in public protests against the death penalty and for abortion rights. She also spoke humorously of growing up with a glamorous film star as a mother, not-

ing that when Deneuve would sing on the streets, as she has in several films, “I pretended she wasn’t my mom ... I would change sidewalks.” Also on hand at the ceremony at Alice Tully Hall was French director Francois Ozon, who recently directed Deneuve in the comedy “Potiche,” reuniting her with Gerard Depardieu. He cited a famous Depardieu quote about his co-star: “Catherine Deneuve is the man I’ve always wanted to be.” Actually, Ozon told Deneuve, “You are the woman I’d love to be.” Taking the stage, Deneuve said she was surprised to be getting the award as a French actress. “It’s very rare,” she said. “It seems very special.” She thanked the many directors she worked with who gave her the confidence to make radical choices in her films. The Chaplin award has been named for Charlie Chaplin since it was given to him in 1972. Previous recipients include Scorsese, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock and, last year, Sidney Poitier. Deneuve’s most famous films include Jacques Demy’s musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964), Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” (1965), Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour” (1967), Francois Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” (1980) and Regis Wargnier’s “Indochine” (1992), for which she received her only Oscar nomination.—AP

Actress Catherine Deneuve is interviewed as she arrives for the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 39th annual Chaplin Award Gala at Alice Tully Hall, Monday. — AP




adonna retained the title Queen of Pop by taking the throne of the Billboard 200 album chart for the eighth time on Tuesday, as her latest album “MDNA” beat Lionel Richie’s country themed “Tuskegee” to the top of the weekly sales list. Madonna’s 12th studio album, dedicated to club-friendly dance tracks, sold 359,000 copies in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan, despite lukewarm reviews from critics and minimal promotional appearances by the singer. This is the fifth time in the 53-year-old singer’s career that her album has debuted at No. 1, following her 2008 CD “Hard Candy,” and she is the second woman to top the chart eight times behind Barbra Streisand, who holds the title with nine chart-topping albums. “MDNA” also was No. 1 on iTunes charts in 40 countries and had the biggest single day pre-sales on iTunes by any artist in history, Madonna’s label Interscope Records said in a statement. Album sales were also boosted by Madonna’s upcoming world tour because customers buying tickets also were given the option to receive the album as part of their purchase. Veteran soul singer Richie, 62, changed directions musically and embraced country music for his 10th studio album “Tuskegee,” collaborating with country stars such as Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Shania Twain and Willie Nelson on classic Richie tunes. The album sold 199,000 copies in its first week and entered the Billboard chart at No. 2, boosted by its all-star lineup and an hour-long concert special on the Home Shopping Network channel two weeks ago, when 20,000 copies were sold. “Tuskegee” is Richie’s highest charting album since 1986, when “Dancing On The Ceiling” topped the chart.—Reuters

itanic,” James Cameron’s 1997 masterpiece-and until his 2009 “Avatar,” the biggest-grossing motion picture everreturned to movie theaters yesterday, this time in 3D. Cameron and his producing partner, Jon Landau, spent more than a year converting the movie to 3D at a cost of around $18 million. The company Stereo D completed the conversion. That’s a high price for a 3D conversion. Disney spent an estimated $8 million-to-$10 million to convert “The Lion King” to 3D. Disney’s payoff was strong from the start: The “Lion King” re-release took in $30 million in its opening weekend. Paramount, which is releasing “Titanic” domestically, has more modest expectations for “Titanic,” estimating the movie will take $15 million over the weekend and $20 million over the five days starting from yesterday. That’s partially due to the movie’s length. At 3 hours 23 minutes, it can barely be shown twice per night. But it also is among the most highly regarded motion pictures ever with 11 Oscars and three more nominations. And with the 100-year anniversary of the ship’s sinking coming on April 15, there has been no lack of hype. Eight TV specials on the Titanic are scheduled over the next week. In September, just after the re-release of “The Lion King,” Cameron told TheWrap that the animated film’s 3D success proved there is a strong market for well-converted re-releases of beloved movies. And he said that even he was surprised by how good the 3D “Titanic” looked. Earlier this month, he said he reshot one scene for the movie because an astronomer pointed out that the original movie had the positions of the stars wrong. Recently, Cameron has raised his alreadyhigh profile. On March 25, the 57-year-old filmmaker became the first person in 52 years to visit the bottom of the ocean. Cameron, in a mini-submarine of his own design, plunged seven miles to the lowest point of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. Later this month, the director is speaking at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. “ Titanic” is tracking strongest among young women, who helped make the romantic drama’s original release an astonishing success. It opened to $28.6 million and went on to gross nearly $601 million domestically and $1.2 billion internationally. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a man and a woman from different social backgrounds who fall in love on the ill-fated cruise liner. — Reuters

harlotte Sometimes and Naia Kete of Team Blake and Sera Hill and Moses Stone of Team Christina became the first four contestants kicked off celebrity TV singing show “The Voice” on Tuesday evening. Kete, a singer on country crooner Blake Shelton’s team whom the coaches appreciated for her reggae skills, found herself forced to “sing for her life” with fellow team members Sometimes and Jordis Unga. When Blake told Kete he wished she had sung a more reggae-influenced tune, Kete pleaded that she wanted to but was limited by the songs available to her. Sometimes also was shown the stage door after she followed Monday night’s choice of singing Paramour’s “Misery Business” with a performance of Goo Goo Dolls ballad “Iris” that coach Christina Aguilera said nearly made her cry. Shelton chose to save Unga, whose version of “Wild Horses” impressed fellow coaches Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. From her team, Aguilera reluctantly said goodbye to Stone and Hill. Stone departed from his canon of rap songs by taking on Jason Mraz’s “Falling to Pieces,” while Hill sang “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey. Remaining on Team Christina is Ashley De La Rosa, who wowed Aguilera, Green and the TV show’s fourth judge, Adam Levine, with her rendition of “Paris Oh La

La” by Grace Potter and The Nocturnals. Before the elimination, host Carson Daly showed footage of Team Blake’s trip to Los Angeles country music station Country 105, where Shelton took his team as part of his mentoring. Aguilera chose to take her team to “The Tonight Show,” where contestants received advice from host Jay Leno. Tuesday’s episode also included a performance by band Gym Class Heroes, who sang a song off their current album “The Papercut Chronicles II.”Next week, audiences will see performances from contestants on the teams of Levine and Green, and have the opportunity to vote for their favorites and see others eliminated. Tuesday night’s episode of “The Voice” was the season’s first elimination episode. Previously, Aguilera, Shelton, Levine, and Green chose teams of singers through a blind audition process, whom they mentor throughout the course of the show. “The Voice” is an American spinoff of a similar Dutch show, and is now in its second season on NBC. It has given stalwart singing contest “American Idol” as serious run for its money in terms of viewership and ratings. The winner of “The Voice” will receive $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Republic.—Reuters

In this April 2, 2012 image released by ABC, actor Jack Wagner and his partner Anna Trebunskaya perform on the celebrity dance competition series “Dancing with the Stars,” in Los Angeles. — AP

A last dance for Wagner on

Dancing With the


s the 2012 Coachella Music Festival expands to two weekends of the Black Keys, Radiohead and Dr Dre, the lineup of branded mega-estates and pool parties remains largely a one-weekend affair-the first weekend of April 13-15. “We want to get everyone when they are fresh, of course,” says Emily Coppock, Vice President of Marketing for Lacoste. Here’s an advance look at the social calendar for Coachella’s front-loaded first heat: Lacoste L!ve’s Saturday and Sunday daytime pool parties at an estate in Thermal are the festival’s answer to croquet gatherings. The grassy site looks like Greenwich, Conn., there are inflatable crocodiles in the pool and an on-site pop-up shop spiffs those who have been un-spiffed by a dusty afternoon at the polo fields. Widely cited as one of the festival’s top social events, the T-Mobile and Armani Exchange neon carnival will return to light up the desert

on Saturday. While early discussions had the glowing Ferris wheel, rides and outdoor dance floor sparkling on both weekends, the pop-up late-night amusement park will amuse for one night only. The “play” button that recently appeared on the top ribbon of Gmail and other Google pages will come to life as Google Play’s Magnified Artists will provide a live soundtrack. Despite the remote location and late-night curtain call, try to dodge the gypsy cabs offering rides all the way back to L.A. for $600. Last year, Rihanna was spotted on a tour bus. Simultaneously to the west at the Parker Palm Springs, English luxury fashion line Mulberry brings its private party back to the posh hotel.


ast year was both a good one and, it turns out, a bad one for soap opera actor Jack Wagner as his Samba to “Lighting Up the Night” spelled the end of his competing on “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday. Wagner, 52, was sent packing during the TV show’s “most-memorable year” themed week in which the dancers selected a particular year for inspiration. The actor, who was partnered with professional ballroom dancer Anna Trebunskaya, chose 2011 as his most memorable when he discovered he had a daughter. Wagner looked surprised to be eliminated but said “I had a great time, and it was kind of great to test myself.” He could take solace in comments from judge Len Goodman, who said of Wagner’s performance on Monday night’s program: “For me, your best dance yet.” The judges praised all the dancers this week, and Goodman went so far as to say they all performed so well that “no one deserves to go home tonight.”

The dancers’ scores were clustered together after Monday’s performance show with only five points separating the first-place dancers from the lowest scorers. Five dancers, including Wagner, were tied at the bottom with 24. The other two dancers who faced elimination were singer Gladys Knight and musician Gavin DeGraw, who came in second-to-last for the second straight week. Viewer votes combined with judges’ ratings decide which star is eliminated each week. But host Tom Bergeron on Tuesday unveiled a new twist in the popular TV contest. In coming weeks, the bottom-two couples will have a dance-off with the judges deciding who goes home based on their lastchance dance. The top score from the judges’ ratings after Monday’s show was again won by singer Katherine Jenkins. Ten stars remain in the competition.—Reuters




ensors in Thailand have banned a film based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Macbeth’, saying it could cause divisions in the country where an uneasy truce persists after several years of sometimes bloody upheaval and political polarization. A trailer for the film, directed by Ing Kanjanavanit, shows scenes from Thailand’s recent past, including a 1973 crackdown on student protesters and street clashes in 2010 between the military and anti-government demonstrators in which 91 died. “The film ‘Shakespeare Must Die’ has content that causes divisiveness among the people of the nation,” the Film Censorship Board said in a statement late on Tuesday. “The film is grouped under films that are not allowed to be distributed in the Kingdom.” ‘Macbeth’ is the story of a power-hungry general in ancient Scotland who kills the king for his throne, and commits more murders to hold onto it. Themes of greed and power could touch a raw nerve among Thais who have been divided since the run-up to a 2006 coup that toppled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He is adored by the rural masses, but detested by royalists and Bangkok’s elite. Thaksin and some of his supporters have been accused of republican leanings, charges they deny. Anything that involves monarchy is a highly sensitive issue in Thailand. Ailing 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is regarded as semi-divine and criticism of

the monarchy can be met with charges of lese-majeste, which carry up to 15 years in jail. That does not appear to be the trouble with the film, which was the last one to receive support from a Culture Ministry fund under the previous government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, an opponent of Thaksin. “I was shocked. I didn’t expect this film to be banned,” director Ing told Reuters on Wednesday. “Yesterday the censor board asked me if I wanted to change the current political system.” Thaksin’s sister Yingluck is now prime minister, but he remains in self-imposed exile, refusing to return if he has to serve jail time for a graft conviction he says was politically motivated. In Thailand, viewers would be likely to associate Ing’s depiction of red-clad protesters with pro-Thaksin supporters known as the “red shirts”, who brought central Bangkok to a halt for nine weeks in 2010 before their movement was ended by the military. Ing defended her use of the color. “Red is the universal colour for killer. In Thai soap operas the bad guys wear red, so why am I not allowed to use it?” “Did Thaksin affect my life? Absolutely. In this sense the film is a political one but we also wanted to bring Shakespeare to a Thai audience,” she said. “We made a Shakespearean film because we are living through Shakespearean times. People find the truth in fictional form threatening.” — Reuters


In this CD cover image released by Cash Money/Universal Republic, the latest release by Nicki Minaj, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” is shown. — AP


rammy-nominated hip hop artist Nicki Minaj struggled to win over critics with her new found love of dance-pop music when her highly anticipated sophomore album “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” was released this week. Named after one of the rapper’s many musical alter egos, Roman Zolanski, the album features 19 tracks that transition from the rapper’s hip hop roots to her newfound love of pop-centered dance anthems. Minaj, 29, shot to fame with her 2010 debut “Pink Friday,” which topped the Billboard 200 album chart and spurned hit singles such as “Moment 4 Life,” “Super Bass” and “Fly.” The record earned Minaj four Grammy nominations including for best new artist, which she lost out to folk group Bon Iver. Following a provocative performance of the album’s first track “Roman Holiday” at February’s Grammy Awards, which saw the rapper levitating on the set of a church on stage, Minaj led both fans and critics to wonder what she had up her sleeve for her highly anticipated sophomore album. Now they know. Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times gave the album two out of four stars, praising the rapper’s “funny, biting, bawdy lines” in the first half of the album but slamming the rest of it saying “the album drives off a cliff.” Other criticism was similar in citing the distinctly different styles-hip hop and dance pop. The first track has Minaj rapping and singing in a British accent over heavy hip hop beats with a rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” toward the end. The hip hop continues with the next ten songs, including a Lil Wayne collaboration on “Roman Reloaded,” before sharply changing direction with “Starships.” That electro-pop tune marks Minaj’s transition to dance-pop, and despite being popular with fans currently “Starships” sits at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart - the move failed to impress reviewers. Billboard’s Erika Ramirez and Andrew Hampp were critical of the dance-heavy tracks citing one, “Automatic,” for being the “musical equivalent to a Prada bag from Chinatown.” Minaj brings in hip hop and R&B heavyweights for numerous tracks including Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy on “Champion” and Chris Brown on “Right By My Side,” but it is her duet with rapper Lil Wayne on “Sex in the Lounge” that attracted a lot of attention with Ramirez and Hampp calling the song “sonically and lyrically subpar.” Chris Willman at labeled Minaj a “sellout,” and the album a “hot-pink mess,” heavily critiquing the rapper’s references to wealth and calling her “the world’s most gleeful representative of the One Percent.” Digital Spy’s Lewis Corner was a lot more forgiving, handing the album four out of five stars and saying it “never fails to keep you on your toes.” — Reuters

anni Moretti, head of this year’s Cannes film festival jury, says he looks for movies that “surprise” himadding there is no reason a Chinese-language film cannot win the top prize. The Italian actor and filmmaker stressed that he would not oblige jury members at the festival-which will run from May 16-27 — to agree unanimously on any of the prizes bestowed including the coveted Palme d’Or. “I will not look for a unanimous vote at all costs, because if we search for a unanimous vote we risk choosing a film that isn’t displeasing to anyone and doesn’t disturb anyone but that no one is absolutely enamored with,” he said. “I will be looking for the kind of films that are still able to surprise me, not the kind of film I’ve already seen 5,000 times,” Moretti told AFP in a telephone interview. Moretti, the first non-American to lead the jury since 2009, has presented six films at the French showcase festival over the years, including last year’s comedy “Habemus Papam” (“We Have a Pope”), out shortly in the United States. The 58-year-old’s “Caro Diario” (“Dear Diary”) won best director in 1994, while “La stanza del figlio” (“The Son’s Room”) won the Palme d’Or, the filmfest’s top prize, in 2001. Asked about the relatively small number of Asian films screened at Cannes and their chances of winning the top prize, Moretti said: “I can’t really say anything about that now, it would seem sort of a declaration beforehand. “But I don’t see why .. a Chinese-language film couldn’t win,” he added. Moretti

Director of “Shakespeare Must Die” Ing Kanjanavanit shows a DVD sent to Thai film censorship board in Bangkok, Thailand, during an interview yesterday. — AP

is sometimes compared with Woody Allen for his wit and self-reflection-and the Italian acknowledges there are similarities, albeit superficial. “First of all, I believe that in the time span between me making one movie and the next, he makes five,” he said. “There are superficial analogies ... But above all, recently it seems to me that lately he’s much more interested in writing, and that’s where he takes his most pleasure. I like to pay attention to every phase of making a movie.” Reflecting on the difference between the kind of films presented at Cannes and those which are nominated and win Oscars, he noted that black-and-white film “The Artist” won both. However, he added that “personally, I don’t share the enthusiasm about that film, ‘The Artist.’ I find it to be an ‘easy’ film.” On the Croisette, the choice of winners “depends on the members of the jury, which change every year. And this is not the case with the Oscars, because the members of the Academy are the same each year. “It’s all very much entrusted to the single taste of the single jury members in festivals. But at any serious film festival the only thing that counts are the films, and the tastes of the jury members.” “Whereas in the Oscars it seems to me that marketing and also distribution strategies are important.” The Cannes festival’s general delegate Thierry Fremaux, announcing Moretti’s appointment in January, described the Italian filmmaker as “very high in my personal pantheon” of movie greats.

Cannes has had three US jury heads in the past four years: Robert De Niro was last year’s, following Tim Burton in 2010. French actress Isabelle Huppert was in charge in 2009, and Sean Penn had the role in 2008. “It’s good to get back to a European,” said Fremaux. Moretti’s “Habemus Papam” premiers in Los Angeles on Friday, April 6, to be followed by a nationwide roll-out. — AFP

Bryn Terfel Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan and Bryn Terfel perform during the 2012 Concert for the Rainforest Fund at Carnegie Hall on April 3, 2012 in New York City. — AFP photos

Meryl Streep

(From left) Rita Wilson, Rosanne Cash, Sir Elton John and Sting perform.

Nanni Moretti

Thailand bans film based on ‘Macbeth’, fearing disunity



Vila Oriental floral printed pants from

ocialite Olivia Palermo has become a regular fixture on the fashion circuit. Chances are you’ve seen the slender brunet photographed in the front row of almost every major runway show. New York magazine’s 2007 “It” girl has made a name for herself in the fashion world with her impeccable style, and she’s known for appearing effortlessly put together in mix-andmatch patterns, bold textures and mounds of accessories. The 26-year-old has rebounded nicely from her brief stint on the reality television show “The City,” where her frenemy antics awarded her villain status. Since the show, she’s signed with the Wilhelmina Models agency, launched a jewelry collection with Roberta Freymann, been the face of the London label Freda and recently scored a gig as the face of the new Rochas scent. At the Topshop Unique show during London Fashion Week recently, Palermo was back in front of the cameras, embracing this season’s explosive prints. She wore a Topshop neon yellow top, black fur-trim blazer and Topshop trousers festooned with tropical flowers. Her feet were clad in leopard print.


For a similar pair of blooming spring trousers, try the Vila Oriental floral printed pants for $62.67 from, the floral print trousers from H&M for $14.95 or for a more subtle pair get the floral print trousers from for $79.90. Palermo’s solid black blazer, plain yellow top and slouchy camel tote balance the pattern, keeping the outfit from looking cluttered. Get the same effect with the Chiffon puff-sleeve blouse in “Dent De Lion” from for $46 or the sleeveless neon yellow blouse from H&M for $29.95. Pair with a boxy doublebreasted blazer from for $32.80 or the ruffle-waist jacket, also from, for $27.80. Palermo took a risk by adding another pattern to her ensemble with the leopard print shoes, but the combination works for an extra punch since the other pieces she’s wearing are solid. Try the Sam Edelman Portney heels in “new nude leopard” from for $84 or for an enticing alternative to the heel get the Animal print tuxedo flats from for $31.43 or the Damiann booties by Steve Madden for $62.98. In fashion, breaking the rules is always more fun. — MCT

Sleeveless neon yellow blouse from H&M.

A boxy double-breasted blazer from .

Floral print trousers from H&M

For a similar look, get the Animal print tuxedo flats from — MCT photos


Orange silk limited-edition patio dress from Heritage collection and skinny red lizard belt both at Banana Republic; gold tribal necklace, bracelet trio , and earrings all at Kohl’s.

side from Popsicles and pedicures, the easiest way to embrace spring is to slip into something colorful. Why should the sun get all the attention? Let it be your spotlight instead. Sure, you’ve been eyeing that orange top, coral maxi skirt, lime belt, neon pink shoe, but you just don’t know where you’d wear it. The answer is anywhere, or perhaps everywhere. You don’t need a special occasion to flirt with color. You just need to know that color is your sassy, outspoken friend. White can be bold in a dainty sort of way, pastels are lovely with their polished lady charm, but brights are unexpected and unpredictable, i.e. hard to ignore. People will stare. People will talk. People will smile. Children will admire you. So go with your gut. You know your taste and you know your style. If you look in the mirror and bright beautiful colors make you happy-that kind of happy that makes you smile and want to do a twirl-then I’d say all the naysayers can just strut off in their ho-hum cream and gray. The youthful energy of color is infectious. Sourpusses don’t wear neon strawberry. Maybe you aren’t the woman to don an orange sweater and skirt tied with a red patent leather bow belt and patent leather orange and coral shoes, but maybe you won’t know until you try. As far as we’re concerned, we’re out to make rainbows jealous in vibrant hues infused with sunshine. But our first stop will be the Popsicle truck (cherry, please) on the way to our pedicure (Fly, an intense aqua, by OPI nail studio). — MCT

Sleeveless bright pink Charlotte blouse with rosette collar and fabric belt by St Louis-based Rungolee designed by Anjali Kamra at; soft rose tulle skirt by St Louis-based Melissa Rae Brown at Penny Rae Vintage,; pink Foster Grants sunglasses at Stop & Shop; asymmetrical infinity loop earrings and fuchsia wedges both at Kohl’s.

Sleeveless sheer lime silk ‘Diedre’ dress with dropped waist by Ali Ro at; Rebel Pendant necklace of gold-plated brass at; enamel bracelets; earrings from Daise Fuentes collection and tangerine wedges by Sonoma all at Kohl’s.

Lightweight orange cable knit sweater from Chaps Denim at Kohl’s; hot orange miniskirt at Loft or; red bow belt at T.J. Maxx; earrings, orange enamel ring, gold and leather drawstring bracelet and color blocked melon and hot pink ballet flats from the Simply Vera by Vera Wang collection all at Kohl’s.

Rose to coral layered, color block cami from Apt. 9 collection and high-low hem Malibu Doll skirt in coral from Lauren Conrad collection at Kohl’s; earrings; bracelets and knuckle ring also at Kohl’s; sunburst enamel pendant at Banana Republic. — MCT photos

05 April 2012  

Kuwait Times