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NO: 15656

MOHARRAM 29, 1434 AH

Amir swears in Cabinet


150 FILS



More challenges against elections filed

Max 19º Min 09º High Tide 12:16 & 22:55 Low Tide 05:23 & 16:46

conspiracy theories

Daylight apartheid By Badrya Darwish KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah pose during a photo call session with the newly sworn in Cabinet members at Seif Palace yesterday. — KUNA


congratulate the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak on his choice of ministers. I admire him for his wisdom not to listen to the gossips and threats that had spread across Kuwait. Even some of the elected MPs had the nerve to challenge the Prime Minister before he made the appointments. They asked him not to appoint one person or another for various reasons. There were threats by the new MPs who had not even started the sessions that they would not cooperate with certain ministers if they were appointed or reappointed. What is this? Are we seeing a parliament that resembles the dissolved parliament? God forbid. I still remember the old MPs who used to threaten to grill one minister or another even before their appointment. We are seeing the same trend now. The first thing on their agenda will be to grill a minister. The nerve of some guys, is to demand a certain number from their sect or group. This is daylight apartheid and discrimination. I thought that ministers should be appointed upon their merits. Talking about the color, religion or sect of any person is a red line. I wonder why the ministry of information does not consider such threats as instigating hatred and animosity. It is a dangerous zone if we continue to do that. Kuwait might enter it. We already have enough on our hands. The government should be really strict with people whoever they are in the public sphere who spread such demoralizing ideas. In some countries in the West if you describe anybody by their color or religion you could be sued. It is a taboo. If we continue like this in a couple of years we might have the same destiny as some of our neighbors. I hope that message is clear.

Kuwait-US trade ties promising: Official


Arsenal stunned in League Cup shoot-out


By B Izaak KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah swore in the new Cabinet and urged it to herald a new era by applying the law, fighting corruption, accelerating the development plan and upgrading public services. The Amir told the new government to strengthen the principle of respecting the constitution and apply the law firmly on all. The new Cabinet then held its first meeting and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber AlMubarak Al-Sabah pledged that the government will cooperate with the National Assembly at this critical stage in the country. New MPs welcomed the government and said they will extend their hands for cooperation with it in order to push development and apply the law. Opposition figures and former MPs however strongly lashed out at the government, insisting they will continue to work towards bringing down the National Assembly and scrapping the amendment to the electoral law. Meanwhile, three more challenges against the election were field yesterday to the constitutional court calling to declare the election illegal and for scrapping the new National Assembly and the one-vote decree. Two challenges were filed by lawyers Dokhi Al-Hasban, Mohammad Al-Enezi, Mohammad Al-Hamdan and Hadi Al-Ajmi who challenged that the National Assembly election on December 1 were illegal and demanded that the National Assembly be dissolved. The challenges were based on the claim that four decrees issued by the Amir to amend

the electoral law and invite the voters to elect a new assembly have breached the constitution. The lawyers also disputed the right of any authority other than a correctly elected National Assembly to amend the electoral constituency law, insisting that the law that was passed by the National Assembly in 2006 is the only constitutional law for election. They also appealed to the court to speed up issuing its verdicts on the issue in order to help the country come out of the current political impasse. A similar challenge was also submitted yesterday by former liberal MP Aseel Al-Awadhi. Since the announcement of the election results, several petitions challenging the election and the amendment of the electoral law have been field but the constitutional court could take several months to issue its verdict on the controversial matter. With just three days remaining for the inaugural session of the new assembly, the opposition activists appear not in a total agreement whether to camp the night at the Al-Erada Square ahead of the opening or just to gather in the same site on Sunday. Organizers of the event reiterated on their Twitter Account they will hold the sleep-in event on Saturday night in protest against the National Assembly which they consider as illegitimate. These activists yesterday received a major boost from former MP Mussallam Al-Barrak who supported their move and said he is prepared to be the first to camp at the square. But another group, supported by former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabai pointed out that it was better to gather on the day of the opening to send the rejection message.




Amir inaugurates Al-Hamra Tower

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah patronized yesterday inauguration of Al-Hamra Tower and its shopping mall in the district of Sharq in the center of the capital. His Highness was greeted upon arrival at the cel-

ebration site by Sheikh Mubarak al-Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Board Chairman and Managing Director of Al-Hamra Real-estate Company Othman AlOthman and members of the board. The inauguration ceremony of the landmark was also attended by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad

Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the former speaker of the National Assembly Jassem Al-Khoarafi, senior sheikhs, HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed AlAhmad Al-Sabah, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, ministers, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah and senior state officials. The ceremony began with the National Anthem, then His Highness the Amir unveiled the commemorative plaque and toured the mall. —KUNA



Kuwait-US trade ties ‘promising’ US Chamber of Commerce delegation in Kuwait on landmark visit By Sajeev K Peter KUWAIT: The head of a high-ranking US trade delegation visiting Kuwait here yesterday underlined the scope for great expansion in US-Kuwait commercial relations, especially in the context of major infrastructure projects being initiated in the country. “There is a real interest and thirst for US businesses to be present in Kuwait. Also there are a lot of positive signals for US companies to come and be involved in major projects in Kuwait,” said David C Chavern, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the US Chamber of Commerce, in an interview with Kuwait Times yesterday. Earlier in the day, the visiting US trade delegation held discussions with the members of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Terming the delegation’s visit a historic event as it is the first-ever visit from the US Chamber of Commerce to Kuwait, Chavern said, “No senior representative from the US Chamber of Commerce has ever visited Kuwait so far. This is an oversight on our part and we intend to redress it.” Chavern, who serves as chair of the Chamber’s Management Committee and is responsible for dayto-day operations as well as long-term planning, said primary level discussions were held yesterday at the KCCI and Washington will host a Kuwaiti trade delegation soon. “We got an opportunity to come to Kuwait to both learn about the economic and business opportunities available in Kuwait and also to tell the story about US businesses and our members at the US Chamber to help meet the objectives of the Kuwaiti economy,” he explained. Kuwait remained the 7th top US export markets in the Middle East in 2011 while it is the fourth largest US trading partner in the region for two-way trade. Excellent ties Giving an overview of the US-Kuwait commercial and trade relations, Chavern said, “Overall relations

New plans to tackle traffic woes KUWAIT: An official of the Ministry of Public Works yesterday revealed new plans aimed at alleviating predominant problem of traffic congestion however he re-stressed anew this major national problem could only be tackled in its roots with implementation of a new comprehensive and well-designed strategy. Saud Al-Naqi, the assistant undersecretary for roads engineering, said in a statement to KUNA that the new plan envisages development of the second ring road, Damascus road and the third ring road, adding that the ministry “was about to sign a plan for development of the second phase of the first ring road.” Dispelling concerns by some citizens that appeared during execution of the first ring road project, namely lack of connections between Jamal Abdul Nasser road with Al-Jahraa roundabout, the senior engineer assured the nationals that such problems would be resolved once the renovation of the second ring road has been accomplished. Elaborating, he added the ministry would, in a very short period of time, sign an agreement to examine the intersections along the first ring road and Riyadh intersection. In his “transparent words” to the national news agency, Al-Naqi acknowledged that plans such as building new roads or expanding others would not result in a fundamental solution to the problem, calling for a comprehensive approach to resolve it, such as tackling the problem of the public commuting system and building the underground metro network. Al-Naqi added that in shadow of rapid construction and soaring numbers of cars and vehicles, the ministry is diligently working with the traffic department and the municipality to create new methods aimed at containing the problem. On the s i x t h ro a d r i n g, h e i n d i c a te d a t construction of several intersections and relay ro u te s. As to t h e f i f t h r i n g ve n t u re, A l - N a q i noted that the project wo u l d b e te n d e re d i n one or two months. The m i n i s t r y h a s a cco m plished several projects, such as expansion of sec tions of the four th ring road and King Faisal road, he said. — KUNA

are excellent, especially cooperation in the fields of security and defense. But partnership in the field of commerce and business needs to be further expanded. I hope that the US-Kuwait commercial partnership will also be as close as defense and security relations.” “We have a responsibility to make sure that more companies in the US are aware of the opportunities in Kuwait and also to help them do business in Kuwait. We as the US business community at the US Chamber can help this process tremendously,” he mentioned. “There are immense mutual opportunities for US companies to provide the goods and services Kuwait needs and also to promote investment from Kuwaiti companies into the US. We need trade both ways,” he added. The US and Kuwait signed a trade and investment framework (TIFA) in 2004. In 2011, US exports to Kuwait fell by 1.7 percent to $2.73 billion while imports from Kuwait grew by 45.1 percent from the previous year to $7.81 billion, according to the US Bureau of the Census. Concerns On the Kuwaiti side, Chavern said, “There have been some concerns about the length of time it takes for approval of projects and about the uncertainty around contracting. Similarly, there has been an impediment to more transactions and more trade. Some of the processes in the country have to be made easy.” On the priority areas that came under discussion, he said, “Two areas that have been talked about consistently are healthcare - from medical services to clinics and hospitals - and education. We have not only an excellent educational system, but also very vibrant and innovative educational companies that are very good at delivering quality content. So we think that there are a lot opportunities in these areas in particular.” “Everyone knows about the capability of US com-

panies when it comes to infrastructure. We hope to build upon that advantage when Kuwait moves forward with its significant infrastructure projects,” Chavern said. “The Kuwait development plan calls for a lot of investment and it seems to be very

KUWAIT: David C Chavern, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the US Chamber of Commerce, during an interview yesterday. — Photo by Joseph Shagra thoughtful and smart. We will make sure that US companies are qualified to participate and bring the very best technological knowhow to Kuwait so that plans are executed in ways that help the long-term development goals of Kuwait,” he said. Free trade The Unites States has no free trade agreement with any GCC countries except Bahrain and Oman, though it has some preliminary agreements with Kuwait in some areas. “The US Chamber would like

to have more free trade agreements with countries in the region,” Chavern said, adding, “Trade is however a critically controversial topic in Washington. Currently, it is difficult to expand the number of FTAs. However, we will continue to keep pushing the idea of promoting more FTAs in the Gulf and around the world.” Fiscal cliff Asked about the ‘fiscal cliff’ and its impact on global markets, he said, “It is serious. Going over the fiscal cliff will lead to a lot volatility and uncertainty. We have a consistent message which is that we need a comprehensive tax reform. We can do it, we can afford to do it and we have the ability to do it if there is political will. So we have been encouraging our politicians to have the political will and do the right thing.” “Today, we have the opportunity. The world right now is hungry for US economic leadership,” he said, quoting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr who said, “We can show the people we recognize that we are really one budget agreement away from reasserting America’s preeminence in the world.” Previously, Chavern served as the Chamber’s chief of staff and vice president of its Capital Markets initiative, where he quickly became one of the nation’s leading voices on corporate governance and on the regulation of US capital markets. Chavern is also founder and president of the Chamber’s Center for Women in Business. The center’s objective is to increase opportunities for women at all levels of business. Earlier, he served in several senior positions at the US Export-Import (ExIm) Bank. Before coming to Washington, Chavern was in private legal practice in Philadelphia. The US Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.




‘Shadow’ parliament seeks rejection to MPs’ projects

KUWAIT: Members of Kuwait’s new Cabinet pose for a group photograph with HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah after the Cabinet’s first meeting yesterday.

KUWAIT: The opposition plans to establish a ‘shadow’ parliament whose main duties will be to monitor the parliament and decide how to deal with the National Assembly, a local newspaper reported yesterday quoting sources privy to the developments. The sources spoke to Al-Rai about details of a meeting held on Monday for former lawmakers who boycotted parliamentary elections earlier this month in protest against the single-vote system adopted just before the elections. “The participants agreed to set up a media team, as also a political liaison team whose duty will be to carry out talks with political activists and groups,” sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said. Meanwhile, the opposition reiterated its resolve to “reject any potential legislation passed by the parliament,” including a possible law pertaining to electoral constituencies. It said its decision was based on its stance that the assembly was “illegitimate” since a relatively high percentage of the electorate boycotted the elections. In the meantime, several people were seen waiving orange flags in the stands during a West Asia Cup football match between Kuwait and Oman on Tuesday. The opposition identifies itself with orange color which became symbolic of the boycott campaign that marked the elections, as well as the campaign against the emergency decree that enforced the singlevote system. Fans at the Sadaqah Walsalam Stadium in the Kazma Club were heard chanting slogans calling for an end to the “single vote” mechanism. The police personnel, however, chose not to intervene though they were stationed nearby. These events were reportedly supposed to be followed by a procession at the Mishref walkway, but a security source told Al-Rai on Tuesday that the demonstration would not be allowed since it was unlicensed.

KJA honors Al-Qinaei for ASPU appointment

By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Journalists Association (KJA) held a reception and dinner to welcome and celebrate the appointment of K JA’s Secretary General Faisal Al-Qinaei as the Head of the Asian Sports Press Union (ASPU) recently. Minister of Information and the Minister for Youth Affairs, Sheikh Salman AlHomoud Al-Sabah, said the appointment of Al-Qinaei was a great achievement for Kuwait. “Kuwait always played a pioneering role in the field of sports, and our achievements are well-known. Many Kuwaitis rose to occupy international key positions. With the efforts of Faisal Al-Qinaei, we will be able to back the Kuwaiti perspective in the Asian sports press. Kuwait is once again leading the ASPU after South Korea held the position for the last 22 years,” he noted. On his part, Faisal Al-Qiani expressed happiness at his appointment. “I am ready to help and sup-

port al the Asian media and press in all Asian countries to develop the sports press and enhance the skills of Asian journalists. I will also work towards making it easier for them to cover the big events in a professional manner and to catch-up with the fast paced changes happening every day in this field,” he pointed out. “I appreciate the vital support received from H.H. the Amir and the Crown Prince for the conference, which proves how the leader cares for our citizenry. This support earlier helped many Kuwaitis reach high positions in different fields. I would also like to thank all the sponsoring companies for their contribution, as well as the organizing committee,” added AlQinaei. Sami Al-Nasef, Chairman of Kuwait Airways Corporation, stated that Al-Qinaei achieved this position due to his long experience in sports media. “Al-Qinaei is known locally and internationally for his role in the sports media and he deserves the

Group photo with the Minister of Information Sheikh Salman AlHmoud, Faisal Al-Qinaei, Najla Al-Naqqi, and other journalists.

KUWAIT: Faisal Al-Qinaei (second right) and Sami Al-Nasif cutting the cake. position he has just acquired, which is a pride for our country,” he said. The ceremony concluded with awards being conferred upon Sheikh Salman Al-Homoud, Chairman of Kuwait Airways Corporation Sami AlNasef, Hawalli Governor Abdullah AlFaris, and the sponsoring institutions

of the 16th conference of the Asian Sports Press Union, including Ahli Bank, Regency Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel, and others. The ceremony was attended by a large number of people including many journalists and other personalities from the field.

A group photo of some journalists with Al-Qinaei. —Photos by Fouad Shaikh


Green Line demands Chevron chief’s arrest ‘Crime against environment’

By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: A local non-governmental organization yesterday urged senior state authorities to issue orders to arrest a visiting representative of a major international oil company for ‘crimes committed against the Kuwaiti and global environment’. In a telephone conversation with the Kuwait Times yesterday, Khalid Al-Hajiri, the head of Green Line Environment Group, said a warrant to arrest John Watson, CEO of Chevron, needs to be issued before he leaves Kuwait. “ The government bears full responsibility if Watson escapes before being prosecuted for environmental crimes his company committed in Kuwait,” he said over the phone. Green Line admitted that there was no case pending against Chevron (or Watson) in any Kuwaiti court. “If they can arrest protesters without any court order, then, if they want and really care for our environment, they can easily arrest this man (Watson) against whom we have multiple evidence of damaging our environment,” he said. Watson is visiting Kuwait to oversee Chevron’s projects in the

country, which the Green Line claims have caused “destruction to the Kuwaiti environment.” The environmental group has also warned at the same time about “deals” that Chevron planned to sign during Watson’s visit. It said these deals “fail to take into account Kuwait’s environment and the health of Kuwait’s children, and will have irreversible repercussions.” The activist group accused Watson of being responsible for “environmental human rights violations committed by Chevron in AlWafra,” which they say led to “widespread destruction of agricultural land that threatens Kuwait’s food security.” “We urge the Prime Minister, HH Sheik Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, to visit Chevron’s sites in Al-Wafra and witness the level of devastation and crimes committed against Kuwait and its children,” the Green Line said. In the interview to Kuwait Times, the organization also blamed Chevron for “violating children’s environmental rights around the world.” Al-Hajri mentioned that Green Line has in its possession “all evidences, documents and photos

necessary to prove that Watson and his company are responsible for environmental violations in Kuwait.” “His visit provides a golden opportunity to hold him accountable and make it obligatory upon his company to rectify all effects of environmental crimes committed in Al-Wafra and other areas where Chevron operates in Kuwait,” he added. “But if the government refuses to do anything during his visit, we will pursue our case in the International Court of Justice. We will continue to hold him accountable for the environmental disaster in Wafra,” he said. Al-Hajri also accused officials in the Environment Public Authority, the oil sector, and other state departments of “sharing the responsibility of the environmental crimes committed by Chevron” by failing to take action to stop the alleged violations. “It is sad to see Kuwait Petroleum Corporation officials welcoming and seeking to sign deals with a person even after his company committed environmental devastation in the country,” the organization added.

Wataniya Telecom celebrates 13th birthday KUWAIT: Wataniya Telecom is celebrating its 13th birthday today in the presence of representatives from senior management at the Avenues mall-Dome (2). Wataniya is delighted to share the joy of its 13th birthday with its subscribers in an unforgettable event full of excitement and surprises. All of Wataniya subscribers are invited to share the celebration at the Avenues, where they will be greeted with so many surprises topped up by the company initiative to break the world record with

the biggest cake made out of cupcakes. Those who will attend the event will get the chance to enjoy many exciting and family fun-filled activities with music shows, MC, giveaways and delightful surprises. Everyone will get the chance to enjoy a special treat and take his/her share of the cupcakes. Wataniya is honored to cele brate its birthday this year and thanks its customers for being with Wataniya and to expect even more in 2013. Wataniya promises to

always meet their expectations and will continue the journey of success it started since its inception back in 1999. Wataniya is keen to invest heavily in developing the telecom market in Kuwait and to enrich its services with innovations and creativity and to cater to its subscribers’ needs while enriching their daily mobile usage. Up-to-date technology has been employed by Wataniya and subscribers enjoy them in an unprecedented fashion throughout the past years.



Job opportunities for bedoons in nine Kuwait ministries Cooperation to achieve stability By A Saleh KUWAIT: The manager of manpower registration at the Civil Services Commission (CSC), Faisal Al-Bassam, said that nine ministries were currently receiving job applications for recruitment of bedoons, starting with the ministries of education and health. Al-Bassam said the bedoons would be recruited only in those jobs for which Kuwaiti citizens were not available. History lessons Member of Parliament Nawwaf Al-Fuzai said that a few members of the erstwhile annulled parliament and some who are ‘pretending to defend the Amirship’ need lessons in history and politics as they seem to have forgotten that they are being sued for having insulted the Amir through various statements and speeches made at the determination yard. International interference The majority bloc in the annulled 2012 parliament met at former MP Mubarak AlWa’lan’s diwaniya to discuss a new strategy in

its campaign against the one-vote Amiri decree and its demand for dissolution of the current parliament. Its members will discuss the suggestions made by former MP, Ahmed Al-Sa’doun, to take the issue to international forums. Al-Sa’doun had said the issue should be raised at the global level through meetings with international leaders, speakers and organizations in order to bring more pressure on the Kuwaiti government to force it to scrap the one voter-one vote decree. Mishref demonstrations A number of Mishref residents filed several complaints with the concerned security authorities demanding that the government stop the planned protest by some majority bloc members in the area. These members plan to hold a protest at the area’s jogging tracks and walkways under the title of ‘Annul the One Vote & the current NA’. In their complaints, the residents summarily rejected holding of any protests or demonstrations inside residential areas. “The elections are over and a majority of us took part in these, which means that we support the electoral process,” stressed some complaints.

Willingness to cooperate MP Mubarak Al-Nejada stressed that the new parliament would wholehear tedly cooperate with the government to achieve more stability. “Nevertheless, this does not mean that we will be silently watching the government. We will be holding it accountable for any potential mistakes,” he remarked. Al-Najada also denied he held any veto vote on the appointment of some ministers. “We are only making constitutional recommendations,” he underlined. BOT law amendment MP Bader Al-Bathali said that the economic development which Kuwait was seeking to usher in was directly related to the government’s ability to provide facilities to suppor t real development projects. He added that economic issues were a top priority for him. “The government has a golden opportunity to cooperate with the new parliament and launch a sustainable development process,” he said, adding that one of the best ways to do so is by providing more facilities for BOT projects.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Corvette attract car enthusiasts KUWAIT: Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Company, the exclusive distributor of Chevrolet vehicles in Kuwait, participated in the ‘Muscle Car Show 2012’ organized by the Historical, Vintage & Classical car museum of Kuwait at the Shuwaikh public beachfront on Dec 8. During the event, Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim showcased the popular allnew 2013 Camaro ZL1 and the 60th anniversary Corvette edition for muscle car enthusiasts. The two Chevrolet phenomena attracted the eyes of many of the event’s attendees including the youth, muscle car admirers, especially individuals who appreciate and admire the rich history of real-life road legends. Apart from capturing the hearts of car lovers, the event was also enjoyed by families as they all observed the displayed cars and posed for memorable photographs with the unique vehicles before uploading & sharing them on social media channels. Since many Corvette and Camaro owners participated in the event, Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Company, in cooperation with the Historical, Vintage and Classic Car Museum, created special prizes and certificates for the first, second and third place winners of the best-looking Corvette’s and Camaro’s. The event was a huge success, bringing together a large crowd of muscle car enthusiasts and loyal Camaro and Corvette fans. The feedback from the event was viral as a great number of photos from the event could be seen on various social media channels and blog posts in Kuwait. Camaro ZL1 is once again being revered for its expressive design and unrivalled performance, with 580 horsepower making it the fastest Camaro ever made. It’s not only the V 8 6.2 L engine that makes it a special car. The Camaro ZL1 is a full aluminum body weighing just 556 pounds for an uncompromising performance, while it’s magnetic drive control and the international standard breaks gives it the ability to come to complete stop at a very short notice. It’s the car that all engineers dream to design and all drivers crave to ride. The 2013 Corvette 427 has a prominent history of 60 years, built with supreme power and distinguished design. It combines the technology of Z06 and ZR1 that has carbon elements and a small handmade engine of 7.0. Driving this convertible car is an unbeatable experience since it is the one and only model in its series. Get prepared an adrenaline packed 60year-old journey. It’s fair to say that nothing comes close. The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 revives the memories of convertible legendary cars that were made in the mid-60s. The 505 engine powers it from 0-100 km in 3.8 seconds and can reach maximum speeds of 306 km. Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive confirms its commitment on providing everyone with the best and latest cars in the world as well as the world’s largest and most advanced service center that seeks every customer’s satisfaction with its excellent after-sales service, maintenance center that is designed and operates up to world standards with the usage of the latest technology and equipment in the market and finally, expert team of professionals and engineers. Visit Safat Alghanim and enjoy the observation of the two unique Chevrolet vehicles that embody the rich history of Chevrolet.

VIVA hosts legendary goalkeeper Schmeichel KUWAIT: VIVA, Kuwait’s newest and most advanced mobile telecommunications service provider, hosted Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel at a vibrant event at 360 Mall on Monday. Voted the “World’s Best Goalkeeper” in 1992 and 1993, Peter Schmeichel played for Manchester United between 1991 and 1999, captaining the side which won the treble of the UEFA Champions League, the FA cup and the Premier League in his last season with the club, to date the most successful season in the club’s history. VIVA’s customers, Manchester United fans, and the wider Kuwaiti community enjoyed the festive event and the opportunity to get their picture taken with one of Manchester United’s most renowned players. During the event, Mohammad Yaqoub, Integrated Marketing and Social Media Manager announced the launch of the second season of the company’s Manchester United Soccer School program, and called on Kuwait’s young footballers to compete for a place on Manchester United Soccer School program. In addition, VIVA proudly launched the VIVA Manchester United Application on both the Apple iPhone and Google Android, giving its customers and Manchester United fans direct access to a wide choice of news, stats, features and multimedia, keeping them up-to-date with Manchester United updates. Mohammad Yaqoub said: “We are proud of our partnership with Manchester United Football Club, and we are very pleased to welcome Peter Schmeichel to Kuwait. VIVA is committed to encouraging young people

in the community to develop their talents and hone their skills, and the Manchester United Soccer School program is one of the many ways in which we are trying to do this. We have been encouraged by a very successful first year with Manchester United Soccer School program, and look forward to an even more exciting program next year, with more surprises for our customers. We are also ver y pleased to announce the launch of the VIVA Manchester United Application, presenting our customers and fans with the latest news about the club, including the latest scores, official news, transfer and injury updates, match previews, reports, videos, photos and more. Peter Schmeichel’s visit is part of Manchester United’s Legend Tour, and follows Andy Cole’s visit in 2011. The Tour highlights VIVA’s partnership with Manchester United and the company’s commitment to bringing its customers closer to one of the most exciting football clubs in the world. In 2011, VIVA announced a five season sponsorship agreement with the club, which allows it to present customers with Manchester United related promotional offers and competitions, with great prizes including chances to win VIP tickets to watch Manchester United play a Premier League match at Old Trafford in England. VIVA will reveal more exciting details about the next Manchester United Soccer School program as soon as they become available, and will continue to look at new and exciting ways of developing Kuwaiti youth’s sporting talent.

Bedoon’s attempt to smuggle in woman for citizenship thwarted KUWAIT: A man and a woman were arrested at Kuwait’s southern border when it was found that he had tried to smuggle the woman, a stateless resident, into Kuwait so that she can go through procedures to obtain Saudi citizenship. Officers at the Nuwaiseeb checkpoint noticed a woman trying to sneak in through the border along with a man who had earlier identified himself as being her husband. The two managed to enter Kuwait, but detectives later arrested the man after obtaining his address from the information he had given. During investigations, the man explained that the woman was actually his friend’s wife who he had agreed to eventually ‘smuggle’ to Saudi Arabia to be naturalized. The woman and her husband were later arrested in Ahmadi after the friend provided their address. The three remain in custody pending investigations.

Attempted suicide A Kuwaiti woman consumed an overdose of prescription drugs on purpose after a heated argument over some domestic disputes and had to be hospitalized. The victim was rushed to the Mubarak Hospital after her husband found her unconscious in her room. The diagnoses revealed it to be a case of overdose of prescription medication. She was admitted to the intensive care unit. A case was filed for investigations and classified as an attempted suicide as per the husband’s testimony.

Forgery case Mubarak Al-Kabeer detectives arrested an employee of the labor department in the governorate who used his position to forge residencies and official documents. Earlier, a Kuwaiti man had approached the police to report that he had discovered a case of four

expatriates registering themselves as workers for his company without his knowledge. Intensive investigations carried out in cooperation with detectives of the department dealing with migrants led to the arrest of the employee who entered the data for the residencies into the labor department’s database. The man admitted during investigations of forging residencies in lieu of money that he charged expatriates. He was referred to the proper authorities to face charges. (Qabas) Attempted murder Ahmadi detectives are trying to arrest a male suspect who faces attempted murder charges after he stabbed a man and left him critically wounded in Mina Abdullah. The incident was reported recently at the area’s police station where a bedoon man explained that he received a phone call from the Al-

Adan Hospital informing him that his brother was admitted to its intensive care unit with severe bleeding from a neck wound. Doctors informed the man that his brother’s neck was slashed with a knife. The victim’s condition was expected to stabilize. Investigations are on to identify and arrest the suspect. Officer arrested A police officer who ended up killing a pedestrian in a road accident in Mubarak AlKabeer recently was arrested. The man was declared dead on the scene and officers apprehended the driver who was later identified as a Ministry of Interior serviceman. The driver was driving during off-duty hours when the accident happened. The body was referred to the forensic department for an autopsy and identification of the victim since no ID papers were found on the body.

KUWAIT: Drug enforcement agents arrested a Bangladeshi expat for possessing half a kilogram of heroin and other kinds of drugs for trading. After receiving information about the suspect being involved in drug trade, agents obtained mandatory legal approvals and then arrested the suspect. —By Hanan Al-Saadaun

KUWAIT: Egyptian ambassador to Kuwait, Abdul Kareem Sulaiman checking the polling station at the Egyptian embassy headquarters where Egyptians cast their votes in the new constitution referendum. —Photos by Yaser Al-Zayyat


US military to boost Philippines presence

‘Friends of Syria’ group recognises oppn coalition Page 8

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N Korea fires long-range rocket UN Security Council condemns rocket launch UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council yesterday held emergency talks on North Korea’s long-range rocket launch amid western demands for tough action against the isolated state. Widespread condemnation followed North Korea’s firing of a rocket, which it says successfully took a satellite into space. The act came just days before the North’s young ruler, Kim Jong-Un, marks 12 months in power. The 15member Security Council held closed consultations on the new

Mark Lyall Grant told repor ters ahead of the meeting. Germany’s UN ambassador Peter Wittig said the council had to “make good” on the April warning. Diplomats said the Security Council could decide a statement condemning the launch on Wednesday and then negotiate a formal resolution. Most attention will be focused on China, the North’s main ally and provider of aid. The council passed sanctions after the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 but China

PYONGYANG: North Korean youths dance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate a rocket launch yesterday. North Korea appeared to successfully fire a long-range rocket yesterday, defying international warnings as the regime of Kim Jong Un pushes forward with its quest to develop the technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead. —AP

proliferation challenge, with western nations looking for signs of China’s willingness to punish its neighbour. After a failed attempt to launch a rocket in April, the Security Council said it could take “action” if there was a new bid. Western envoys said the council must back up its words. The council “should react quickly and should react strongly to this provocation,” Britain’s UN envoy

has indicated it is reluctant to allow more. “Exactly what the Chinese would be prepared to accept both in form and substance is not yet clear,” said one senior western diplomat ahead of the talks. North Korea insisted the mission was not a banned inter-continental missile test but carried a scientific satellite into space. “The satellite has entered the orbit as planned,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News

Agency (KCNA) said in a statement repeated later in a triumphant special state television broadcast. The state agency released pictures showing a white rocket taking off with clouds of smoke billowing into the snowy landscape. The first and second stages fell in the sea off the Korean Peninsula, while the third splashed down east of the Philippines. The United States and its allies were infuriated. China expressed “regret” at the successful launch by its wayward communist ally, while calling on all sides to avoid “stoking the flames.” The launch was a “clear violation” of a 2009 UN Security Council resolution which bans North Korea from using ballistic missile technology, according to UN leader Ban Ki-moon and the North’s western critics. US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor highlighted the “threat” to security in East Asia and said “the United States will strengthen and increase our close coordination with allies and partners.” “North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in such provocative acts,” Vietor added in a statement. “France will support firm action by the Security Council and is working in this direction,” said a French foreign ministry spokesman in Paris. Masao Okonogi, a professor of Korean politics at Keio University in Japan, said the launch would thrust North Korea close to the top of the national security agenda for President Barack Obama. “Putting a satellite into orbit means that you have technology to get a warhead to a targeted area. Now, North Korea is becoming not only a threat to the neighboring countries but also a real threat to the United States,” he said. China responded relatively quickly by expressing “regret” and pressing the country to abide by UN resolutions.

Pope hits 1 million mark as he tweets: ‘Dear Friends...’ VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark yesterday as he sent his first tweet from his new account. In perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever, the 85-year-old Benedict pushed the button on a tablet brought to him at the end of his general audience Wednesday. “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” his inaugural tweet read. At around the same time the message was sent, the number of followers of Benedict’s (at) Pontifex account surpassed the 1 million mark on the eight languages of the handle, adding some 11,000 followers in the last two hours alone. Later in the day Benedict was to respond to a few questions about faith sent to him from around the world. The first papal tweet has been the subject of intense curiosity for months. Benedict actually sent his very first tweet over a year ago, using a generic Vatican account to launch the Holy See’s news information portal. Someone in his name tweeted daily during Lent, par t of the

Vatican’s efforts to increase the church presence in social media. A personal Twitter account for the 85-year-old Benedict has been the subject of speculation ever since the Vatican’s senior communications official said in February the idea was gaining traction. Vatican officials have acknowledged the pope won’t actually type the messages and that someone in the Vatican’s secretariat of state will write them on his behalf. But they have insisted that the words will be his alone, culled from his speeches, homilies or catechism lessons. As incongruous as it may seem for the 85-year-old Benedict to be on Twitter, Vatican officials have stressed that he is merely walking in the footsteps of his predecessors in using the latest in communications technology to spread the faith. Pope Pius XI, for example, caused a similar stir when he launched Vatican Radio some 80 years ago to bring the pope’s message on radio waves around the globe. The Vatican also has its own newspaper, television service and maintains dedicated YouTube channels and an Internet news portal. —AP

But in a commentary, state news agency Xinhua also decried “bellicose rhetoric and gestures” by all concerned, and defended North Korea’s right to explore space. Russia labeled Pyongyang’s defiance of UN resolutions “unacceptable” and warned the launch would have a “negative effect” on regional stability, while the European Union

threatened new sanctions. Defying the international uproar, the North vowed more launches. “No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, urging the international community to stay calm “to prevent the situation from developing (an) undesirable direction”. The

country’s leader Kim Jong-Un, who is in his late 20s, was believed to be keen that the launch fall close to the first anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17. A previous launch of the same Unha-3 rocket in April ended in embarrassing failure, with the carrier exploding shortly after take-off. —AFP



Jerusalem monastery, Armenian cemetery vandalised JERUSALEM: Vandals sprayed antiChristian graffiti on Jerusalem’s Monastery of the Cross and at an Armenian cemetery overnight, police told AFP yesterday, in the latest apparent hate crime by Jewish extremists. The attacks drew a strong condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who expressed “disgust” over the incidents, his office said. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said graffiti insulting to Jesus Christ was “sprayed on the gates of the entrance of the Armenian cemetery...

and on a monastery belonging to the Greek Orthodox.” Outside the Monastery of the Cross near the Israeli parliament, vandals also slashed the tyres of three cars belonging to staff, and wrote “price tag” and “Happy Hanukkah” the Jewish holiday now being observed by Israelis, an AFP correspondent said. Father Claudius, the monastery’s abbot, said he had noticed the graffiti at 4:30 am (0230 GMT) when he got up to pray. “This is the seventh time this has happened,” he told reporters at the

scene, saying that if the vandals had simply knocked on the door he would have invited them in for tea to talk to them about his faith. A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister had expressed “disgust” over the attacks.” The Jewish values by which we were raised, and by which we raise our children, firmly reject such actions,” he said in the statement. “Freedom of worship for all religions in Israel will be preserved and we will take legal action against the immoral people who com-

mitted these crimes.” “Price tag” is a euphemism for revenge hate crimes by Israeli extremists, which normally target Palestinians and Arabs. Initially carried out in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts, they have become increasingly unrelated to any specific government measures. The attacks tend to involve the vandalism or destruction of Palestinian property and have included multiple arson attacks on cars, mosques and olive trees. Perpetrators are rarely

caught. At first, the attacks were predominantly in the West Bank, but they have expanded over time to include sites inside Israel and in Jerusalem, where a number of Christian sites have been targeted. Samri said a third apparent “price tag” attack had been reported in the West Bank village of Shukba near Ramallah, in which attackers set fire to a car and sprayed “price tag” and “happy holidays” nearby. Police were investigating all three incidents, she said. — AFP

‘Friends of Syria’ group recognises oppn coalition US will recognise Syrian opposition coalition

WASHINGTON: Dr Salah Owelus registers with officials before casting his ballot at the Egyptian Embassy yesterday in Washington, DC. The expatriate vote began with the polling of more than 500,000 Egyptians at embassies and consulates in 150 countries, Egypt’s official news agency MENA said as the country’s charter pitted Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi against secularleaning foes in rival rallies that clashed last week. — AFP

Egypt opposition urges ‘No’ vote on constitution CAIRO: Egypt’s main opposition alliance called for a “No” vote in the referendum on a disputed constitution rather than a boycott, hours after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s government forged ahead by starting overseas voting in diplomatic missions for expatriates. The opposition’s decision did not dispel the atmosphere of a nation in crisis, deeply polarized over the referendum that has stoked three weeks of turmoil on the streets. The opposition still plans more protests and the country’s judges are still on strike over a decree by Morsi, since rescinded, that placed him above judicial oversight. The military is inching back into politics. And if the referendum passes, there is potential for even greater upheaval. There are also growing concerns about the already flailing economy Egypt on Tuesday requested a postponement of a $4.8 billion IMF loan after Morsi, fearing a popular backlash at a time of already heightened tensions, suspended a package of tax hikes that had been part of a program to reduce the huge budget deficit. The opposition said it still may boycott the vote starting in Egypt on Saturday if its conditions are not met. Hamdeen Sabahi, one of the leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front, said at a news conference the alliance would urge its supporters to boycott if judges do not oversee the vote and the state does not provide security at the polls. The country’s major judges’ union said Tuesday it would boycott the referendum, abstaining from their traditional role of oversight at the polls. “The Front decided to call upon the people to go to the polling stations and reject the draft by saying ‘No,’” said Sabahi, a leftist politician who finished a close third in the June presidential election narrowly won by Morsi. “The people will rally at the polls and have a chance to topple the constitution by saying ‘No,’” he said, reading from a prepared statement. The Islamist-dominated constitution drafting committee rushed through the document in a marathon session last month. Islamists say its approval will restore political stability and allow the rebuilding of the institutions of government. They say it contains new articles banning many of the human rights abuses that were commonplace under Morsi’s ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak, whose 29-year regime was ousted in a popular uprising nearly two years ago. Liberals, secularists, Christians, and other critics say the draft is full of obscurely

worded clauses that could give clerics a say over legality of legislation and allow civil rights to be curtailed by hardline interpretations of Islamic Shariah law. They say the 100-member constituent assembly tasked to draft the constitution was packed with Islamists and ultraconservatives who ignored other groups’ concerns and sped the draft through. The nationwide referendum was initially scheduled to take place on Dec. 15, but in a last minute decree on Tuesday, Morsi ordered the voting stretched into another round on Dec. 22. Voting must be overseen by judges but the powerful judges’ union voted Tuesday not to super vise the process, protesting an earlier and now rescinded decree by Morsi placing him above judicial oversight. Their absence would throw the legitimacy of the vote into and thus the legitimacy of the constitution itself. It was not immediately clear whether the judges will now oversee the voting after the opposition said it would participate in the referendum. But the judges have all along said their stand is inspired by what they see as Morsi’ assault” on the judiciary and the siege of the nation’s highest court by Islamists loyal to Morsi. The court was widely expected to disband the constitution writing assembly in a session scheduled for Dec. 2. The panel rushed the vote on the draft on Nov. 29-30 and Morsi ordered the referendum on Dec. 1. Zaghloul el-Balshi, head of the referendum’s organizing committee, said on Tuesday that 9,000 judges had agreed to oversee the voting. His claim could not be independently verified. The total number of polling stations in Egypt is nearly 13,000, each of which normally requires a judge. Aides to Morsi said before that judges are only needed to supervise the 9,000 main stations, while government employees or university lecturers can fill in at the rest. The start of overseas voting after nearly three weeks of mass opposition protests showed the determination of Morsi to go forward with the process despite outrage from the liberal opposition, which contends it places restrictions on liberties and gives Islamists a big say on how the country is run. The opposition front had been expected to call for civil disobedience, such as general strikes, to escalate the recent mass protests against Morsi. Mass rallies are scheduled for Friday, on the eve of the vote. The opposition has been considering several options to force Morsi to back down and postpone the vote.—AP

SAADNAYEL: Syrian refugee boys play outside of their makeshift houses built on an agricultural field in Saadnayel in the Lebanese Bekaa valley yesterday. More than half a million Syrian refugees are now registered or are waiting to in other Middle Eastern countries, with about 3,000 new people seeking refugee status and assistance daily, the United Nations refugee agency said. — AFP

MARRAKESH: Western and Arab nations sympathetic to Syria’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad gave full political recognition yesterday to the opposition, reflecting a hardening consensus that the 20month-old uprising might be nearing a tipping point. Meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as rebels battled Assad’s troops on the outskirts of his Damascus power base - and shortly before the capital was rocked by a huge explosion - the “Friends of Syria” group called on Assad to step aside. But tensions between the United States and the Syrian opposition coalition surfaced at the same meeting when its leader criticised Washington’s designation of the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra rebel brigade as a terrorist organisation. Hours earlier, US President Barack Obama announced Washington would recognise the coalition of opposition groups, led by Sunni Muslim cleric Mouaz Alkhatib, as Syria’s legitimate representative, joining France, Britain, Turkey and Gulf states. “Participants acknowledge the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the umbrella organisation under which the Syrian opposition are gathering,” said the Marrakech declaration after a meeting attended by 130 ministers and officials. The gathering brought together Western and Arab nations opposed to Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for 42 years. But it excluded Russia, China and Iran, which have backed Assad or blocked efforts to tighten international pressure on him. “Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and should stand aside to allow a sustainable political transition,” said the text. Qatar reinforced that message after the meeting, urging Assad to take the “brave decision” to step down, while Britain called on him to end a war it said he could not win. Referring to Western reports suggesting Assad might use chemical and biological weapons, the text said “any use of chemical weapons in Syria would be abhorrent and that this would draw a serious response from the international community”. Participants announced the creation of a relief fund “to support the Syrian people”, calling on states and organisations to make contributions to the fund. The resolution called on the UN Security Council, which has been paralysed by major powers’ splits over Syria, to come up with “a meaningful and robust response” to the crisis and urged nations that support Assad to reconsider their positions. Although the text made no explic-

MARRAKESH: (From L to R) The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, British Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary William Hague, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, Moroccan foreign minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affair Rafik Abdessalem, and Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Kamel Amr attend the Friends of Syria conference in Marrakesh yesterday. The talks on the 21-month conflict rocking Syria brought together representatives from 114 countries, including about 60 ministers, the Syrian opposition and international organisations.— AFP it commitment to arm the rebels, a diplomat following the talks said participants agreed on “the legitimate need of the Syrian people to defend itself against the violent and brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad”. Another diplomat said Western powers did not rule out supplying arms to rebel units in the future, but would want assurances about where the weapons would flow - pointing to several atrocities committed by rebel fighters and the presence of radical Islamists in their ranks. “No option is ruled out. But there are big issues about the legality of intervening in a civil war. Any support to any group depends on the command control and the discipline on the ground,” a Western diplomat at the Marrakech meeting said. France said at the talks it was not ready to supply arms. “For now we have decided not to move on this,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Morocco. “We shall see in the coming months.” Western officials are due to meet commanders of a newly formed rebel military command in Turkey next week. Syria’s state news agency SANA said Obama’s recognition of the political opposition, which coincided with Washington’s designation of the radical Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra group, part of the rebel force against Assad, as a terrorist organisation “proves American hypocrisy”. Russia also criticised the US recognition, saying it ran counter to an agreement to seek political transition. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it appeared the United States was betting on “armed victory”

of Assad’s opponents. Coalition leader Alkhatib urged the United States to reconsider its decision to designate the militant Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group. “The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed,” he said. “We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.” Alkhatib called on Syria’s Alawite minority to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against Assad, an Alawite facing a mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his rule. Fighting is moving closer to Assad’s residence in the centre of Damascus, and early on Wednesday government forces fired artillery and rockets at southwestern suburbs of the capital adjacent to the Mezzeh military airport, activists said. State television reported an explosion at the gate of the Interior Ministry in Damascus. The ministry is in Kafar Souseh, an area contested by rebels and forces loyal to Assad. A resident reported sirens and shooting after a “huge explosion.” SANA said yesterday that “terrorists” detonated two bombs in the Damascus district of Jaramana, killing one person and wounding five, and another two bombs behind the Justice Ministry in Damascus, wounding one person. In central Syria, an attack on a village killed or injured as many as 200 members of Assad’s Alawite minority sect, activists said, but it was unclear

who was behind the assault. The mainly Sunni Muslim rebels have scored a string of victories against Assad’s forces, many of them from his Alawite religious minority. There is little evidence that the government is regaining control, residents say. “We send a direct message to the Alawite brethren. The Syria revolution is extending its hand to you, so extend your hand back and start civil disobedience against the regime because it repressed you like it repressed us,” said Alkhatib. Alkhatib, elected last month as leader of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, urged Assad’s allies Iran and Hezbollah to withdraw their support. The Syrian army is using warplanes and heavy artillery to try to halt further advances by rebels, many of them die-hard Islamists. Opposition leaders say they need heavy weapons to sustain the momentum and change the military equation in a conflict that has killed 40,000 people since March 2011. The rebels now hold a near continuous arc of territory from the east to the southwest of the capital. With conditions deteriorating, Damascus residents face power and food crises. Assad’s political and armed opponents, dogged by splits and rivalries throughout their battle to end his rule, have established a more unified political opposition and military command, hoping to win international support. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are already arming and financing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and other militant groups, while Iran is bankrolling Assad. —Reuters

Gaza’s tunnels rebound from Israeli offensive RAFAH: Rafah’s biggest industry is back in business: Gazans are rebuilding the network of underground smuggling tunnels crisscrossing the Egyptian border that were pummeled in a recent Israeli offensive, restoring the illicit conduit for consumer goods and weapons so crucial to Hamas rule. The 12-kilometer (eight-mile) slice of land at the Gaza Strip’s southern tip is humming around the clock with workers carting in cement, bricks, gravel and scaffolding. The quick rebound has raised questions about how much damage Israel inflicted on the tunnels during last month’s eightday air offensive. Anwar Abu Lebdeh and seven other workers were laying bricks on a recent day to rebuild the entrance to a 500-meter (550-yard) tunnel battered by an Israeli airstrike last month. Nearby, workers hauled cement sacks on their shoulders, and a bulldozer lifted gravel onto a nearby truck. After loading up at tunnel sites, trucks lumbered over to Hamas government points to pay taxes on their cargo. “It’s our source of life, this is the only job we could find. I have been working here for five years,” said Abu Lebdeh, 24, who had to slog through mud left by heavy rain to get the job done. The tunnel industry has become key to Gaza’s economy since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory after Hamas seized power there in 2007. The tunnels ferry in a wide range of items besides essentials, including Chinese motorcycles, farm and zoo animals, appliances - and large Iranian rockets that can hit Tel Aviv. Responding to months of daily rocket salvos from Gaza, last month Israel unleashed its air force,

starting with an airstrike that killed Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari. In eight days, the Israeli military carried out more than 1,500 airstrikes on militant targets, including rocket-launching sites, weapons storehouses and dozens of the roughly 500 smuggling tunnels operating under the short border. Israel claimed it “successfully targeted 140 smuggling tunnels in order to impair Hamas weapons smuggling capabilities.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week told reporters that the offensive had “dramatically reduced” the Hamas arsenal. Hamas has also claimed victory. Despite losing dozens of fighters, Gaza militants managed to fire some 1,500 rockets into Israel during the violence, hitting the Tel Aviv area several times and ending with a heavy barrage on the last day before an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took hold. It remains unclear how hard the smuggling industry was hit. Hamas estimates Israel bombed 60 percent of the tunnels, said government spokesman Ihab Ghussein. Some were damaged and quickly repaired. Others were flattened. Tunnel operators say dozens remain out of commission, but they are quickly rebuilding them. The Israeli army acknowledges that smuggling has resumed, though it would not say whether this includes new weapons. Tunnel operators, pointing off into the distance, said there are tunnels reserved exclusively for Hamas shipments, presumably weapons. Evidence of the vast amounts of weaponry in the tiny territory came after Israel’s offensive. For the first-ever visit to Gaza over the weekend

of the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, thousands of masked Hamas militants deployed throughout Gaza to protect his convoy, brandishing rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and anti-aircraft weaponry. The tunnels run underground from Gaza to houses on the Egyptian side of the border. While Egypt has launched periodic crackdowns on weapons smuggling, smugglers say the Egyptians generally ignore the movement of construction materials, fuel and consumer goods. There was no immediate comment from Egypt. The smuggling tunnel business has been around for at least 15 years, but it got a major boost when Israel and Egypt’s then-President Hosni Mubarak clamped the borders shut after Hamas seized control of Gaza from the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Israel also imposed a naval blockade, saying it was needed to prevent weapons from entering the territory. After an Israeli commando attack on a blockade-busting flotilla killed nine Turkish activists in May 2010, Israel was forced to significantly ease the overland restrictions. It allows most consumer products in through its cargo crossing with Gaza, excluding what it calls “dual-use” items that Hamas might be able to use for fortifications or other purposes That includes most building materials. Israel says militants could use cement to build bunkers and metal rods to build weapons. Israel also bans most exports and maintains its naval blockade. After the November fighting, Israel and Hamas began indirect, Egyptian-led talks over new border arrangements.—AP



Gunman opens fire at Oregon mall, 3 dead People at the mall were heroic in helping shoppers PORTLAND: A suburban Portland mall remains closed yesterday a day after a gunman wearing camouflage and a mask opened fire on shoppers, killing two people and wounding a third, before killing himself. The shooter was a man in his 20s who apparently fired at random because there’s no known connection between the gunman and the man and woman who were killed and the young woman who was wounded, police said. The young woman, Kristina Shevchenko, whose age could not be confirmed, is in serious condition, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland said early yesterday. “It really was a killing of total strangers, to my knowledge at this point and time. He was really trying to kill as many people as possible,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but would not release his name or give any information on a possible motive. People at the mall were heroic in helping get shoppers out of the building, including emergency room nurses who rendered aid, Roberts said. Employees at the mall with 2,000 employees were trained to run and hide, lock down and evacuate. Since previous mass shootings, the first arriving officers were trained to form teams and go inside instead of waiting for SWAT. “This could have been much, much worse,” Roberts said. The first 911 call came at 3:29 p.m. Tuesday. The first officers arrived a minute later. By 3:51 pm, all the victims and the gunman and rifle and been found. Four SWAT teams spent hours clearing the 1.4 million square-foot mall, leaving shoppers and workers

to hide in fear. The mall Santa, Brance Wilson, was waiting for the next child’s Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the mall to erupt into chaos. About to invite a child to hop onto his lap, Wilson instead dove for the floor and kept his head down as he heard shots being fired upstairs in the mall. “I heard two shots and got out of the chair. I thought a red suit was a pretty good target,” said Wilson, 68. Families waiting for Santa scattered. More shots followed, and Wilson crept away for better cover. Witnesses said the gunman fired several times near the mall food court until the rifle jammed and he dropped a magazine onto the floor, then ran into the Macy’s store. Witnesses heard the gunman saying, “I am the shooter,” as he fired rounds from a semi-automatic rifle inside the Clackamas Town Center, a popular suburban mall several miles from downtown Portland. Some were close enough to the shooter to feel the percussion of his gun. Police rapidresponse teams came into the mall with guns drawn, telling everyone to leave. Shoppers and mall employees who were hiding stayed in touch with loved ones with cellphones and texting. Kayla Sprint, 18, was interviewing for a job at a clothing store when she heard shots. “We heard people running back here screaming, yelling ‘911,’” she told The Associated Press. Sprint barricaded herself in the store’s back room until the coast was clear. Jason DeCosta, a manager of a window-tinting company that has a display on the mall’s ground floor, said when

Chavez recovering after cancer surgery CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was recovering in a Cuban hospital yesterday after six hours of surgery to treat a cancerous lesion in an operation his vice president said ended “successfully.” Chavez would soon begin a “post-operative phase” that would last several days, Nicolas Maduro said in a late Tuesday address to the nation in Caracas. Chavez, 58, flew to Havana for surgery on Monday after revealing that his cancer had returned just two months after his triumphant re-election. His new six-year term in office is scheduled to begin on January 10. The president was first diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in June 2011. After three rounds of surgery, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation, Chavez had assured Venezuelans that he was cancer-free. Tuesday’s operation “ended correctly and successfully,” Maduro told Venezuelans. “In these coming hours, we will be very attentive.” The vice president described the procedure as a “corrective surgery of a lesion” that occurred in the pelvic region, but did not elaborate. The type, location and severity of Chavez’s cancer have been kept secret over the past 18 months, fueling rumors and uncertainty in Venezuela and concern in Cuba, which relies on cheap fuel imports from its ally. Maduro promised that the government will give daily reports on Chavez’s health. There was no news on when Chavez would return to Venezuela. Yesterday, Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino wished Chavez a “quick and successful recovery” in a Twitter message. Chavez supporters held several Catholic masses and candlelight vigils across the country, praying for their leader to overcome the cancer that has haunted his rule for the past year and a half. Without formally handing over the presidency, Chavez said he was delegating the country’s “high political command” to Maduro, 50, while he was gone, and said the vice president would succeed him if he became incapacitated. Under Venezuela’s constitution, elections must be held within 30 days if the president dies or is incapacitated. Ecuador’s Correa, a firebrand leftist economist who could succeed Chavez as leader of the Latin American left, on Monday flew to the Venezuelan’s side in Havana where he found him in “great spirits.” “He gives us all strength,” Correa said on Twitter. Correa said he had also visited Cuban President Raul Castro and his predecessor Fidel Castro during his day-long stay in the Cuban capital. With Cuba’s backing, Chavez has taken the lead in forming a bloc of leftist Latin American governments that oppose US policies in the region, and has cultivated friendly relations with Washington adversaries like Iran. Members of the group include Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua-all of which receive substantial aid from oil-rich Venezuela. Chavez is believed to be receiving treatment at the same Havana hospital where Fidel Castro has been cared for, which is seen as the communist country’s best facility for complicated medical conditions. Chavez’s cancer rebound comes as campaigning for regional elections set for Sunday reach a boiling point. Chavez supporters are expected to win in most of Venezuela’s 23 states, but all eyes will be on the governors race for the populous state of Miranda, where Caracas is located. The Miranda race pits the unified opposition’s expresidential candidate, Henrique Capriles-a former state governor-against Chavez loyalist and ex-vice president Elias Jaua. — AFP

HAVANA: A student holds her teacher’s hand at the start of the school day at the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela school where a poster of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez hangs on the wall in Havana, Cuba, yesterday. — AP

he arrived to relieve his co-worker, he heard shots ring out upstairs. DeCosta ran up an escalator, past people who had dropped for cover and glass littering the floor. “I figure if he’s shooting a gun, he’s gonna run out of bullets,”

there was nothing you could do for him.” He said he also saw a woman on the floor who had been shot in the chest. Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy’s, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and

OREGON: A family leaves the scene of a multiple shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Clackamas, Ore., Tuesday. A gunman is dead after opening fire in the Portland, Ore., area shopping mall Tuesday, killing two people and wounding another, sheriff’s deputies said. — AP wearing a bulletproof vest. There was a series DeCosta said, “and I’m gonna take him.” DeCosta said when he got to the food court, “I saw a gen- of rapid-fire shots in short succession as tleman face down, obviously shot in the head.” Christmas music played. Patty said he dove for “A lot of blood,” DeCosta said. “You could tell the floor and then ran. His Macy’s co-worker,

Pam Moore, told the AP the gunman was short, with dark hair. Kira Rowland told KGW-TV that she was shopping at Macy’s with her infant son when the shots started. “All of a sudden you hear two shots, which sounded like balloons popping,” Rowland told the station. “Everybody got on the ground. I grabbed the baby from the stroller and got on the ground.” Rowland said she heard people screaming and crying. “I put the baby back in the stroller and ran,” Rowland said. Kaelynn Keelin was working two stores down from Macy’s when the gunfire began. She watched windows of another store get shot out. She and her co-workers ran to get customers inside their own store to take shelter. “If we would have run out, we would have run right into it,” she said. Shaun Wik, 20, was Christmas shopping with his girlfriend and opened a fortune cookie at the food court. Inside was written: “Live for today. Remember yesterday. Think of tomorrow.” As he read it, he heard three shots. He heard a man he believes was the gunman shout, “Get down!” but Wik and his girlfriend ran. He heard seven or eight more shots. He didn’t turn around. “If I had looked back, I might not be standing here,” Wik said. “I might have been one of the ones who got hit.” Clackamas Town Center is one of the Portland area’s biggest and busiest malls, with 185 stores and a 20-screen movie theater. Holli Bautista, 28, was shopping at Macy’s for a Christmas dress for her daughter when she heard pops that sounded like firecrackers. “I heard people running and screaming and saying ‘Get out, there’s somebody shooting,’” she said. — AP



Ex-officer on trial in Russian journalist’s murder MOSCOW: A Moscow judge ordered a closed trial yesterday for a former police officer accused of involvement in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who allegedly helped track Politkovskaya’s movements and provided the triggerman with a gun, has reached a deal with authorities that would allow him to qualify for a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation with investigators. Politkovskaya’s relatives opposed the deal, saying it wouldn’t help find the mastermind. They asked for the arrangements to be annulled and requested open hearings for Pavlyuchenkov, but the judge dismissed their com-

plaints as the trial began yesterday. The suspected triggerman and four others accused in the case will be tried separately.Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006. The murder caused international outrage, and investigators’ failure to determine who ordered the killing has rankled journalists and rights activists. Anna Stavitskaya, the lawyer for Politkovskaya’s children Ilya and Vera, argued that Pavlyuchenkov failed to meet conditions for his deal with authorities. “He didn’t name the person who ordered the

crime and didn’t reveal his role in the crime,” Stavitskaya said. Pavlyuchenkov has reportedly claimed hearing that self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev were behind the murder, allegations that echoed earlier statements made by Russian officials. Both men have denied the accusations in the past. Stavitskaya and Politkovskaya’s children have scoffed at the claims, pointing out that Berezovsky and Zakayev were convenient scapegoats for the government. “This is a politically motivated version of who ordered the crime,” Stavitskaya said Tuesday. Pavlyuchenkov’s lawyer, Karen Nersesyan, said

the failure to track down a person who ordered the crime couldn’t be blamed on his client, who was just one man in a long chain of command without any precise information about the mastermind. “Without the help of bodies outside of Russia specifically, agencies in other countries - I doubt that we will find anything out about the person who ordered this crime,” Nersesyan said. Politkovskaya was killed on the birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time. The timing helped fuel speculations about the possible involvement of Russian authorities angered by Politkovskaya’s reports of atrocities in Chechnya. — AP

New Mali PM crafts unity gov to win back north EU hails Cissoko’s nomination

JOHANNESBURG: Residents of Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township walk yesterday past a portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela painted on a wall outside a house where Mandela lived many years ago. Mandela has been suffering from a lung infection but is responding to treatment, the government said on December 11, as the ageing statesman faced a fourth night in hospital. — AFP

Ailing Mandela has ‘made progress’ JOHANNESBURG: Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is making progress and doctors are happy with his response to treatment for a lung infection, the South African government said yesterday. “Doctors attending to former president Mandela have reported that he has made progress during the past 24 hours and they are satisfied with the way he is responding to treatment,” a statement said. The 94-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is spending a fifth day in a military hospital for a recurrent lung infection, a common condition among the elderly, but one which experts warn can turn serious. “There is cause for concern, but clearly there is progress,” presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP. “He is responding, I can’t say to what degree, let us bear in mind he is 94 years of age and one has to be extra careful when we are dealing with respiratory problems at that age.” Maharaj said Mandela’s doctors would decide when he would be released from hospital. “It is not possible to say. It’s in the hands of the doctors.” “There is a team of medical people attending to him and I know that all of us would want the team to err on the side of caution rather than act prematurely.” “We want our Madiba to be better, we want him out of hospital but we want him out better,” he said, using Mandela’s clan name. The former president who led South Africa to democracy in 1994 has a long history of lung problems dating back decades when he contract-

ed tuberculosis while in prison. He was previously hospitalised for an acute respiratory infection in January 2011, when he was kept as an inpatient for two nights. He was released in a stable condition for home-based care and intense medical monitoring. In 1988, while serving his 27-year prison term, Mandela was diagnosed with early stage TB after being admitted to a hospital with a bad cough and weakness and having complained of dampness in his cell. At the time, two litres of fluid were drained from his chest and he spent six weeks recuperating in the hospital before being transferred to a private clinic near his mainland Cape Town prison. He was the facility’s first black patient. His latest health scare became public on Saturday, when Mandela was flown from his rural home village of Qunu to a military hospital where he had to undergo tests which the authorities said were common for people of his age. On Tuesday officials said the tests had revealed the nonagenarian had a lung infection.Medical experts say chest infections are a cause for concern in older people because it gets more difficult to clear out secretions the less mobile they become. Maharaj said that for people with a history of weak lungs, there is “susceptibility to infection, but there’s also a history of successful treatment”. Over a decade after he left office, the tall greyhaired Mandela retains a prominent place in the national psyche, and his health has become a subject of global obsession as he has aged. — AFP

BAMAKO: Mali’s new Prime Minister Diango Cissoko started drawing up a new unity government yesterday that could bring the consensus needed to launch a foreign military intervention in the Islamist-occupied north. While Cissoko pledged to regain control of the country’s north, international condemnation poured in over the ouster of his predecessor Cheick Modibo Diarra and meddling by a former junta still seen as pulling the strings in the capital. The new premier has not mentioned the international force which has been mired in uncertainty, but observers say Diarra was seen as an obstacle to reaching consensus and a new government could pave the way to its deployment. EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton yesterday hailed Cissoko’s nomination, saying that he was a gifted negotiator with good knowledge of Mali’s political scene who had an ability to bring people together. Gilles Yabi of the International Crisis Group told AFP that “optimistically” Cissoko could “unblock the situation. He is a more reliable, competent and impartial representative than Diarra was.” But he warned the influence of the ex-junta who ousted government in March and has openly opposed the military option in dealing with the Islamists-could continue to set the tone in Bamako. France, the United States, United Nations, African and European Union have roundly condemned the way in which Diarra resigned and urged the military to stop meddling in political affairs. The regional bloc ECOWAS’ chief mediator, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore said Wednesday that Diarra’s resignation had not “respected the rules of law.” “But we hope that a new government will be set up very soon and will begin work with great determination to ensure a more fruitful internal dialogue and mobilise the full spectrum of Mali’s political and social forces to deal with this crisis.” The United Nations Security Council, which is awaiting more details on the mission before giving it the green-light, has said it remains committed to “authorising as soon as possible the deployment of an African-led international support mission in Mali.” France, a staunch backer of the military option to drive out the Islamists, said the most recent turmoil in Bamako “underlines the need to deploy an African stabilisation force.” Cissoko, a veteran public servant, was swiftly appointed by interim leader Dioncounda Traore after Diarra’s strongarmed resignation on Tuesday, and vowed his priority was to regain control of the

BAMAKO: Mali’s new Prime Minister Diango Cissoko (L) and Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore stand at the Presidential residence in Bamako yesterday. Cissoko is a veteran civil servant who has served several regimes over the past three decades and is now tasked with reuniting a nation split in two by Islamic extremists. — AFP north from Islamists. “The priority is the recovery of the north and the organisation of elections.... I want to create a government of national unity,” Cissoko told AFP. “I want to tell Malians that they must get together, because it’s only a unified people that can confront their problems.” Interim authorities in Bamako have remained deadlocked and powerless in the wake of the occupation of the north by Al-Qaeda linked extremists who piggybacked on a Tuareg rebellion that kicked off in January. A March coup by frustrated soldiers did not fail to stop the rebel advance, and Islamists seized the vast north in a matter of days, later chasing out their Tuareg allies. They have since implemented a brutal form of sharia law, flogging, stoning and amputating the hands of transgressors. Alarmed by the growing threat of having “terror-

ist groups” occupying an area larger than France, western powers’ interest in driving out the Islamists grew. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) proposed a force of 3,300 regional troops to intervene, and European countries as well as the United States have offered logistical support and training. The plan has been approved in principle by the United Nations which wants more details on its capabilities and financing. However deep divisions remain in Bamako and west Africa between those who want a negotiated solution and those who seek the military option. UN experts warn that any deployment is unlikely for another nine months. Diarra’s resignation came a day after the EU approved plans to deploy a military training mission of some 250 troops to Mali to help the government regain control of the vast semidesert north. — AFP

Romania premieer urges president to reappoint him

ACCRA: A fight breaks out during an isolated incident of high tensions, at a rally held by the opposition New Patriotic Party to protest the results of last Friday’s presidential election, in Accra, Ghana, yesteday. Ghana’s opposition party said Tuesday that they plan to contest the results of the election ignoring the appeals of the international community, which fears that a protracted political fight could destabilize one of the only established democracies in the region. — AP

Ghana police raid opposition office ACCRA: Police and soldiers have raided an office where the opposition party is re-tabulating votes in their preparation to contest the results of last week’s presidential poll, which handed a slim victory to the incumbent. African statesmen have urged opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo to concede defeat to President John Dramani Mahama in order to preserve Ghana’s reputation for peace following the Dec. 7 poll. Ghana, a nation of 25 million on Africa’s western seaboard, remains one of the few established and stable democracies in the region. Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, the New Patriotic Party chairman, said at least 16 men armed with M16s and AK-47s raided an office Tuesday night where a vote recount was underway, and took laptops and documentation. “They brushed aside the security people who were assembled there, charged in on our workers, forced everybody who was there to lie flat on the floor face down, put their mobile phones away from them. And then they started to ransack the offices,” Lamptey said. Ghana police spokesman

Arthur Cephas said the police were acting on a tip that the party was stashing guns in the office and did not take anything from the site. “The police had a hint that some 20 macho men were stashing guns at the place. We needed to take action,” Cephas said. “It turned out there weren’t any arms.” “It’s regrettable that we’re beginning to see the emergence of police methods for dealing with political disputes,” said AkufoAddo. “That’s taking us back to bad old days of our history and I don’t believe there is any support in Ghana for these kinds of actions,” he told The Associated Press at his home late Tuesday night. John Dramani Mahama won last week’s election with 50.7 percent of the vote, according to the country’s electoral body. He was catapulted into office in July after the unexpected death of former President John Atta Mills. Opposition leader Akufo-Addo came in second with 47.7 percent of the vote. He lost the 2008 presidential election by less than 1 percent, making his loss in this month’s election ever more painful. —AP

BUCHAREST: The winner of Romania’s election urged his arch rival President Traian Basescu yesterday to acknowledge his victory and reappoint him prime minister to stop the country plunging back into political turmoil. Victor Ponta’s leftist Social Liberal Union (USL) won two-thirds of the seats in Sunday’s vote but is locked in a power struggle with Basescu, an outspoken former sea captain who has said he would never again appoint the 40-year-old lawyer. Any impasse in forming the next government could leave Romania, clawing its way out of a deep recession, rudderless for weeks and delay talks for a new International Monetary Fund bailout once a 5 billion euro deal expires early next year. The USL tried to impeach conservative Basecu in July, accusing him of overstepping his powers, drawing stern criticism from the European Union for undermining the rule of law and leaving the two men at daggers drawn. The standoff has raised questions over policy and the leu currency is only about 2 percent off its record low against the euro, while borrowing costs have edged higher over the past month. “I expect President Basescu to respect the constitution and the will of the Romanians,” Ponta told Reuters in written answers to questions. “If he chooses a different path, he threatens Romania with instability in a very delicate moment.” The Balkan country joined the EU in 2007 but remains its second-poorest member due to widespread corruption, a sprawling and inefficient state sector and outdated infrastructure. Before the election, Ponta was already Romania’s third premier this year. Street protests against austerity and corruption in a country where 3 percent of people live on less than $40 a day helped to topple his predecessors. While the rightist Basescu had softened his language on Ponta slightly, he has made no clear comment on who he may appoint. Analysts say he could try to argue that the USL is an alliance rather an a single party and pick someone else from the grouping in an

BUCHAREST: Romanian Premier Victor Ponta speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Bucharest, Romania, yesterday. Romania’s prime minister says he is confident the president will reappoint him after a weekend election victory despite a bitter power struggle between the two that has raised fears of a standoff. — AP

attempt to split it. Ponta said the USL alliance of leftists, liberals and conservatives was “united, lucid and cohesive” despite its different ideologies and would focus on a new IMF deal. Basescu’s spokesman said the president would follow the constitution in appointing the next premier and called on all lawmakers to stop trying to pressure him. Basescu will hold talks with parties over the next few days before making a nomination. Given Sunday’s emphatic win, it would be difficult for him to name anyone other than Ponta without appearing to undermine the constitution and rule of law himself, which could prompt the USL to try to impeach the president again. Under Romanian law, Ponta’s current government remains in power until the new cabinet is approved by parliament. Two failed attempts to form a government within 60 days of the first nomination automatically trigger early polls. Romania sought IMF help in 2009 after its economy crashed and while it is now on more solid ground, the deal is important reassurance for investors. The budget gap

will drop below 3 percent of gross domestic product this year but the IMF has criticised it for failing to push through long-term reforms such as privatisations and using European funds. “We have respected and we will continue to respect our international agreements. I expect a very constructive discussion with the IMF,” Ponta said. Ponta said governments run by Basescu’s Democrat Liberal (PDL) allies, who were in power until an April parliamentary confidence vote, had a “brutal effect” on society with austerity measures including salary cuts and raising sales tax. Analysts expect the economy to grow only 0.4 percent this year but the prime minister pledged to maintain fiscal stability and said pre-election promises to cut taxes would be implemented responsibly over its four-year mandate. “PDL’s government had a brutal effect on society, especially as there were no impact assessments before any major decision, and that is not responsible government in my view,” he said. “We have ambitious goals, but they are based on accurate estimates and well-measured prognoses.” — Reuters



India tests missile, condemns N Korea’s rocket launch NEW DELHI: India condemned North Korea’s longrange rocket launch yesterday even as it tested one of its own ballistic weapons, which were developed when India was a nuclear pariah itself. “India expresses its concern at the launch of a rocket... in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874. India calls on DPRK to refrain from such actions,” a foreign ministry statement. “This unwarranted action... has adversely impacted peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” it added about the launch which provoked global outrage and triggered plans for an

emergency session of the UN Security Council. Earlier Yesterday, defense scientists successfully test-fired India’s medium-range nuclear-capable “Agni I” missile from a site off the eastern coast of the country. The missile, which has been tested repeatedly before, has a range of 700 kilometers, capable of hitting targets in regional rival Pakistan. India was subject to US-led sanctions on its nuclear program after its first atomic test in 1974. These were hardened in 1998 when New Delhi declared itself a nuclear weapons state after conducting five test nuclear explosions. New Delhi

refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which it views as discriminatory and in favor of existing nuclear powers. Following efforts to be compliant with these international agreements, in 2008 it received a waiver from the countries party to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, giving it access to foreign civilian nuclear technology and resources. In April this year, India test-fired the “Agni V” missile for the first time which has a range of more than 5,000 kilometers and is capable of delivering a

one-ton nuclear warhead anywhere in rival China. The test provoked little concern or condemnation, which many analysts said pointed to India’s acceptance as a responsible user of nuclear and missile technology. Nuclear-armed North Korea insisted that its rocket launch was a purely peaceful scientific project designed to place a satellite in orbit. But the United States and allies South Korea and Japan view it as a disguised ballistic missile test banned under the UN resolutions triggered by its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. — AFP

Panetta in Afghanistan to weigh future troops level Obama poised to make key decisions

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan lawyers demonstrate outside the Supreme Court against the recent impeachment process against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake yesterday. — AP

Lanka lawyers strike over impeachment COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s courts ground to a halt yesterday as lawyers went on strike to protest against a move by lawmakers to impeach the chief justice in a bitter clash over the independence of the judiciary. The Lawyers’ Collective, representing all attorneys, have demanded that the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance withdraw its recommendation that judge Shirani Bandaranayake be impeached for professional misconduct. The one-day strike went ahead despite President Mahinda Rajapakse announcing on Tuesday night that he was willing to appoint an “independent panel” to review the parliamentary report by UPFA lawmakers. “The president’s statement... is an admission that it was an unlawful process,” the lawyers’ union said in a statement. In a sign of possible compromise, Rajapakse said he was reluctant to proceed with the impeachment of Bandaranayake, the country’s first woman chief justice, but he gave no further details. The impeach-

ment has raised international concerns that Rajapakse is trying to control the judiciary after crushing Tamil rebels in 2009 and consolidating his hold on power. Action against the chief justice came after she scuttled several bills, including one that would have given more powers to Rajapakse’s youngest brother Basil, the economic development minister. The legality of the impeachment process is also being challenged before the Supreme Court and a verdict is expected tomorrow. The government had expected Bandaranayake, 54, to resign without putting up resistance, but she has vowed to fight on and defend her innocence. The charges on which she was found guilty by lawmakers include failing to declare nine bank accounts and interfering in a case involving a company from which her sister had bought an apartment. Rajapakse’s party has enough support to dismiss Bandaranayake through a vote when parliament holds its next session on January 8. — AFP

KABUL: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta flew into Afghanistan yesterday to confer with commanders about how many American troops should remain in the country after most combat forces withdraw in 2014. Panetta’s unannounced visit comes as President Barack Obama moves to wind down the unpopular 11-year war, weighing the pace of a troop withdrawal and a future follow-on force after the NATO-led mission is due to end. With Obama poised to make key decisions, Panetta said he wanted to discuss options on troop numbers with the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen. “There will begin to be a drawdown that will take us toward the end of 2014,” Panetta said during a talk with soldiers and airmen at a US air base in Kuwait. “At that time, the agreement is that we’ll have an enduring presence that will continue in Afghanistan. “The size of that enduring presence is something that the president is going to be considering in these next few weeks to determine exactly what that will be.” There is growing speculation about the size of a post-2014 force. There are signs that White House advisers are pushing for less than 10,000 while military officers favor a larger presence of up to 15,000 soldiers. The Los Angeles Times reported the Obama administration was considering no more than 9,000 troops to remain on the ground after 2014, under a plan that would rely on Bagram airfield while turning over large bases in the south and east to the Afghan government. Panetta arrived for his two-day visit from Kuwait. He will hear a progress report on handing security to Afghan forces as well as fledgling negotiations for an accord with the Afghan government on the terms of a future US military role. Any post-2014 force would have to be agreed by Kabul and US officials want legal protections for American and other foreign troops, similar to agreements in other countries that host US soldiers. Washington recalled all its

KABUL: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (right) greets with Marine Gen John R Allen, (left) commander of International Security Assistance Force, as US Ambassador to Afghanistan James B Cunningham (center) watches, upon Panetta’s arrival at Kabul International Airport yesterday. — AP troops from Iraq after Baghdad refused to grant US soldiers immunity from prosecution. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is due to hold talks with Panetta, warned last week that his government might suspend negotiations on the future US force unless Washington hands over custody of all detainees held at Bagram prison. Panetta told reporters earlier in the trip that US and Afghan officials were working to resolve the dispute over inmates at Bagram. But he said US and other Western officials worry that some detainees might be released and then return to the battlefield. Officials said Panetta was not expected to discuss a sex scandal that has ensnared the outgoing commander in

Afghan refugees refuse to return JALALABAD: Despite pressure from Islamabad and incentives from the UN, the vast majority of the 1.6 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan are still refusing to return to a country gripped by war and poverty. “Some people think that the security situation has improved in Afghanistan, but they’re wrong,” said Malak Nader, who represents 500 families in the Jalala refugee camp on the outskirts of Mardan, a farming town in northwestern Pakistan. “If we support the government, the Taleban will come the next day and slit our throats and if we support the Taleban, the coalition forces will come and bomb us,” the truck driver said. More than five million Afghans fled their homeland for Pakistan in the early 1980s, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. Since the 2001 USled invasion brought down the Taleban regime, 3.8 million have returned, leaving 1.6 million behind, most born and brought up in Pakistan. But as the 2014 deadline nears for NATO combat troops to leave Afghanistan, they are under increasing pressure from Pakistan to leave. Their formal refugee documents are valid only until December 31, and Islamabad has so far declined to confirm publicly that it will renew their residency. “If they don’t go in these conditions where every country is present in Afghanistan to provide them peace, when will they leave?” Pakistan’s minister for states and frontier regions, Shaukat Ullah, told reporters recently. “Our idea is that they should go and participate in their country’s development.” At talks with Afghan and UN officials at the weekend, Pakistan said it wanted to make repatriation “faster and better” but reiterated its commitment to a “voluntary process” although saying the deadline remains the same. In late October, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) boosted incentives for Afghans to return-adding fuel, clothes and tarpaulin to the food package previously given to those looking to repatriate. As a result, around 10,000 Afghans went home from October 23 to November 30 more than double the number who were repatriated in the same period last year.

JALALABAD: Afghan refugee families, coming back to Afghanistan from southern Pakistan, look at landmines at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) centre on the outskirts of Jalalabad yesterday. — AFP Preparing to join them was the elderly Azat Khan, who spent 30 years in exile in northwestern Pakistan but spoke to AFP as he got ready to drive back to Afghanistan. He has always come and gone-first to fight the Russians, then to conduct business or to visit extended family-but this time it is for good. “My house is completely destroyed over there, I have to rebuild it,” said the father-of-11 from Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan, upbeat about the future despite fears of a new civil war after 2014. “I am happy to leave, it’s costing me less,” said Azat referring to the incentives from the United Nations. But there is a catch: Afghans who leave give up their refugee status. If they come back, it will be without the protection of the law like a million other illegal Afghans, regularly accused by the Pakistanis of being criminals. According to the UN, nearly 97 percent of the refugees have no intention of leaving Pakistan, largely

due to the insecurity. Faced with the stalemate, charities have suggested that a new permit should be created allowing Afghans and Pakistanis to work on both sides of the border, legally, without risk of being harassed. If their refugee papers are not renewed, UNHCR representative in Pakistan Neill Wright said it was “hazy” what would happen on January 1. “They have never knowingly deported or forced an Afghan registered refugee back,” he said, adding that he was “quietly confident” the same situation would continue next year. Back in Jalala, which looks more like a village than a refugee camp, with sugar cane fields and mudbrick homes, Nader said he did not want to risk losing everything in Pakistan for an uncertain future in Afghanistan. “As long as the Pakistani government doesn’t expel us, we’ll stay here,” he said, as a dozen men from the camp nodded in agreement. — AFP

Afghanistan, General Allen. The Pentagon inspector general is investigating potentially “inappropriate” email exchanges between Allen and Florida woman Jill Kelley, who is linked to the scandal that forced the resignation last month of CIA director David Petraeus, the former four-star general. Allen has insisted on his innocence but his nomination to be NATO’s next supreme allied commander has been put on hold pending the outcome of the probe. The next commander of NATO’s US-led force, General Joseph Dunford, is set to take over his post in the new year but was due to fly to Afghanistan this week to start preparing for his new job, defense officials said.— AFP

Indian govt readies for banking, other reforms NEW DELHI: India’s government vowed yesterday to press ahead with banking and other reforms after winning a parliamentary vote to let in foreign supermarkets-a key plank of its renewed change agenda. Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters he hoped changes to banking rules would be approved this week by India’s fractious parliament to bring more foreign and domestic investment into the sector. “I have discussed all five economic reform bills with two leaders of the opposition. They understand there is an urgent need (to pass them),” he said. “I sincerely hope the principal opposition party (the Bharatiya Janata Party) will cooperate.” The banking bill would allow the central bank to issue new banking licences to foreign players and major Indian conglomerates to set up new banks that could inject more competition into the sleepy, largely state-dominated sector. The bill would also give the central bank more regulatory oversight over banks. Other pending bills include plans by the fragile minority Congress-led coalition to open up the cash-strapped pensions and insurance sectors to more foreign investors and

make it easier to do business. The reform drive is seen as key to the government’s plans of kick-starting slowing economic growth and cutting the swelling fiscal deficit as it struggles to avert a downgrade by global ratings agencies. The Congress party wants to get the economy growing more vigorously before it faces the electorate in general elections due in 2014. The government, in the face of fierce opposition, won approval last week of its move to allow foreign supermarkets to operate in India as part of its bid to open up the still inward-looking economy to more investment from overseas. But analysts say with global growth still sluggish they see no fast economic recovery as a result of the reforms. Growth is languishing at three-year lows with India posting expansion in the most recent financial quarter of 5.3 percent. “Even with recent reforms and potential progress in the current parliamentary session, we expect no quick turnaround in the industrial and investment cycle,” said Jyoti Narasimhan, economist at research house IHS Global Insight. This “will keep economic growth muted in the near term,” she added.—AFP

Girls protest naming college after Malala PESHAWAR: Angry Pakistani girls protested yesterday against the renaming of their school after shot teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, saying the move would make them a target for militants. Around 150 students boycotted classes at what is now the Government Malala College for Girls in Saidu Sharif, in the northwestern Swat Valley, tearing up and stoning pictures of the 15-year-old, accusing her of abandoning Pakistan by going to Britain for treatment. The Pakistan government has renamed numerous schools in honor of Malala, who was shot in the head by the Taleban in October for championing girls’ education in Swat and is now recovering in a British hospital. The students at what was previously known as the Government College for Girls said they had repeatedly asked the principal to remove the plate with the new name, fearing it would invite the attention of militants. “We came out when the principal finally refused to accept our demand,” student Shaista Ahmed said. “We feel the college would be the potential target of militants. “I joined others who chanted slogans against Malala and pelted stones on her picture because she had left the country to settle abroad. We are poor, we cannot afford it and we will suffer

because she has fled to Britain.” Local government official Niaz Ali Khan said the protesting students were “very angry and aggressive” and tore up a portrait of Malala which the authorities had erected on a college wall after the Taleban attack. “The students ended their protest after we promised to convey their demand to the authorities,” he said. Student Mah Noor, 19, said: “Malala herself is in Britain but other girls will remain in Swat. She will not come back to Pakistan, then what is the need to rename the college after her?” Malala first rose to prominence aged just 11 with a blog for the BBC Urdu service in 2009 in which she described life in Swat during the bloody rule of the Taleban. Taleban hitmen shot her on her school bus in Mingora, the main town in Swat, for the “crime” of campaigning for girls’ rights to go to school, but she survived after surgery in Pakistan. She was sent to Britain for further treatment and her courage has won the hearts of millions around the world, prompting the United Nations to observe a “global day of action” for her last month. Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a former teacher and headmaster, has been appointed UN adviser on education. — AFP

ANKARA: (From left) Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari pose for a group photo after their meeting in Ankara yesterday. — AFP



Is South Korea ready for ‘Madam President’? SEOUL: If Park Geun-hye wins South Korea’s presidential election this month, as looks increasingly likely, she will become the first woman to hold the country’s top office, challenging stereotypes in a nation that is largely run by men in blue suits. A conservative who has 15 years experience as a top legislator and who has been dubbed “The Queen of Elections” for turning around the fortunes of her political party in a series of polls, Park says she took to politics to help save her country from the devastating Asian financial crisis of 199798. Park, 60, is the daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee and has never married or had children, something her opponents have sought to highlight in a bid to cut back her lead in the polls ahead of the Dec. 19 vote. “Candidate Park has no femininity. She has never lived a life agonising over childbirth, childcare, education and grocery prices,” Park Kwang-on, a spokesman for her left-of-centre opponent, Moon Jae-in, said recently. While South Korea has risen from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War to become the world’s 14th richest nation in a generation, and large numbers of women attend its top universities, it ranks just 108th out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2012 index of gen-

der equality. As a whole, women earn 39 percent less than men, the largest gap in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of developed nations. Just half of South Korean women with a university degree are in the workforce, in part because of policies that discriminate against mothers due to the country’s seniority-based pay system. But Park, at least according to the policies she has spelt out in her campaign, is not going to tackle these issues aggressively, or make a big difference to South Korean women, especially those who have to juggle work and children. In the long-term, the failure to address the role of women in the labour force could hamper growth. Her offer of free state nursery care until 10 p.m. to help working families would appear to exacerbate Korea’s long-hours culture, while providing free university education for a third child is not an issue for most people in a country with the lowest birth rate in the OECD, of just over one per woman of childbearing age. According to a study by management consultants McKinsey, if South Korea wants to break into the top 10 in the OECD in terms of income per capita, it will need to create another 3 million jobs,

of which 1.2 million will be for professionals. With no room to expand male graduate employment, the country needs to transform the way in which women are treated in the labour market, McKinsey said. “She needs more reformative policies. For example, policy tools that guarantee the same number of men and women in the cabinet or the same wages for men and women,” said Kim Eun-ju, head of the Center for Korean Women and Politics. Kim’s centre and the Women’s News newspaper recently published a scorecard on the main presidential contenders’ policies on jobs and rights for women and found that Park’s male opponent, Moon, scored better. Park has said her presidency would be a “remarkable start to break the glass ceiling in our society”. But her critics say that is purely rhetoric. Moon, who trails Park in opinion polls, has pledged to increase maternity pay to 70 percent of regular salaries as part of a package to boost rights. “Although she sets an example of female leadership for the conservatives, I don’t see Park Geunhye as a symbol of gender equality,” said Kim Eunhee, head of the Korean Women’s Political Solidarity civic group.

At times, Park has portrayed herself as the South Korean Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who governed Britain in the 1980s and pushed through tough economic reforms, or an Angela Merkel for Asia, seeking to emulate the German chancellor who is effectively the most powerful leader in Europe today. She has even cited England’s “Virgin Queen”, Elizabeth I, who saw off the Spanish Armada in 1588, as a role model. In contrast to the image of those role models, Park’s campaign at times appears to have undermined her message that she is a serious woman who is capable of navigating through a tough economy and of dealing with a hostile North Korea. A campaign song based on a hit compared her policies with a woman’s “S-line”, slang for a woman’s curves, and played the lyric “Park Geunhye is killing it”, referring to her sex appeal. Her New Frontier Party pulled the song after complaints it was demeaning to women but missteps like that have contributed to weak poll ratings among women in their 20s and 30s. “Just the fact that she is biologically a woman isn’t convincing enough,” said Ma Ji-hye, a 25-year-old female college student in Seoul. — Reuters

US military to boost Philippines presence China tells army to be prepared

NEW BATAAN: Residents look at the lists of missing relatives displayed near the municipal hall in New Bataan, Compostela province yesterday nearly one week after the southern part of the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Bopha. The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has climbed above 700 with hundreds more missing, many of them tuna fishermen feared lost at sea, the government said on December 11. — AFP

Beijing revokes new Catholic bishop title BEIJING: In a fresh challenge to Vatican authority, China has revoked the title of a new Catholic bishop in Shanghai who outraged Chinese officials by immediately dropping out of the government agency that oversees the country’s officially sanctioned church, religious officials said yesterday. Ma Daqin, who was jointly named for the post in a rare consensus between Beijing and the Vatican, has been confined to a seminary since he announced his intention to drop out of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in front of a congregation during his July 7 ordination as auxiliary bishop. The move by Ma, 44, was seen as challenging China’s attempts to run the country’s Catholic church independently of the Vatican. A Shanghai church official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the decision by Chinese officials to revoke Ma’s title was announced at an internal meeting this week. He said no reason was given for the revocation. The Rev. Jeroom Heyndrickx, of Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven, and the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, said Chinese colleagues had informed them of the development earlier this week. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Shanghai Diocese declined to comment. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi referred to recent comments by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the head of the Vatican’s missionary office, citing Ma’s treatment in lamenting the worsening situation for Catholic prelates in China. “Some bishops and priests are segregated or deprived of their freedom, as recently occurred in with the case of the Shanghai bishop Ma Daquin for having declared his desire to dedicate himself fulltime to pastoral ministry, leaving jobs which, among other things, aren’t even the competence of a pastor,” Filoni told the Italian religious affairs magazine Tripod. The Vatican does not formally recognize the association and says the Chinese church should take its orders directly from Rome. The selection of bishops has been one of the most contentious issues between the sides, with the

Chinese association saying it has the right to make independent appointments in defiance of Rome’s insistence that only it has that power. Ma’s announcement in July had been greeted with applause by hundreds of worshippers in Shanghai’s Cathedral of St Ignatius, the seat of one of China’s largest, wealthiest and most independent dioceses. He was taken away by officials immediately after the service and has not been seen in public since, with the Shanghai diocese saying he is in retreat at the seminary at Sheshan, on the outskirts of Shanghai. Days after Ma’s announcement, the Patriotic Association issued a two-sentence statement saying it was investigating his ordination. Scores of priests and nuns were interviewed and seminary classes and other internal church activities either canceled or delayed. Another Catholic website, ucanews, said Ma had been suspended from performing priestly duties for two years and would remain in the seminary indefinitely. Ma’s ordination, with the approval of both sides, had been seen as a hopeful sign that a China-Vatican dialogue that broke down in 2010 was back on track. The pope had issued the Vatican’s approval of Beijing’s selection of Ma to take over as auxiliary, giving him day-to-day control over the Shanghai diocese and placing him next in line after 97-year-old Shanghai Bishop Jin Luxian. Cervellera said the Shanghai diocese had handed Ma’s case to more hardline officials in Beijing, resulting in the harsh punishment. China’s officially atheistic Communist Party wants not only the right to approve bishops, but also to fire those who get out of line, he said. “The situation is very serious,” Cervellera said. Heyndrickx, who has traveled frequently to China over the past three decades, said that the action against Ma was “not conducive to dialogue,” but that the situation would remain in flux until new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping consolidates his power. Concessions would likely be needed on both sides, such as China releasing detained underground priests, and the Vatican recognizing bishops appointed without its prior agreement, he said. —AP

TOKYO: In this Nov. 30, 2012 file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, center, of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and other political party leaders hold hands before their debate for the Dec 16 parliamentary elections at Japan’s National Press Club in Tokyo. — AP

MANILA: US and Philippine officials agreed yesterday on an increase in the number of US military ships, aircraft and troops rotating through the Philippines, Filipino officials said, as tension simmers with China over its maritime claims. Though he made no direct reference to the territorial disputes, new Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping urged his military to prepare for a struggle. He made the comments during his visit to a South China Sea fleet ship in southern Guangdong province, but did not name any potential aggressor. Senior US and Philippine officials met on Wednesday in Manila to discuss strengthening security and economic ties at a time of growing tension over China’s aggressive sovereignty claims over vast stretches of the disputed South China Sea. Philippine defence and diplomatic officials said they expected to see more US ships, aircraft and troops for training exercises and disaster and relief operations. “What we are discussing right now is increasing the rotational presence of US forces,” Carlos Sorreta, the foreign ministry’s Assistant Secretary for American Affairs, told reporters. A five-year joint US-Philippine military exercise plan would be approved this week, he added. The size of the increase in the US military assets in the Philippines, a former US colony, was unclear. Pio Lorenzo Batino, Philippine deputy defence minister, said there were “substantial discussions” on a possible new framework allowing Washington to put equipment in the Southeast Asian state. “There has been no discussion yet on specifics ... (these are) policy consultations and the specifics would be determined by the technical working groups,” he told a news conference, saying the new framework was discussed in the context of increasing rotational presence. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the two allies’ relationship was “in a renaissance”. The discussions come as the Philippines, Australia and other parts of the region have seen a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel under Washington’s socalled “pivot” in foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia announced last year. Wary of Washington’s intentions, China is building up its own military. Its claims over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against US allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the mineral-rich waters.

MANILA: (Left to right) Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, US Assistant Secretary of Defense Mark Lippert and US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell join hands after the press briefing of the 3rd Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila yesterday. — AFP Xi, who assumed the role of military chief about a month ago, called on the 2.3-millionstrong People’s Liberation Army to “push forward preparations for a military struggle”, state news agency Xinhua said. Xi, speaking during a three-day inspection of the PLA’s Guangzhou base starting last Saturday, did not say against whom the struggle might be fought. His remarks echo those he made a week ago and are a common refrain by Chinese leaders. Xi replaced President Hu Jintao as chairman of the Central Military Commission on Nov. 15. Xi also said the army should “modernise” for combat readiness, but gave no specific details. US and Philippine officials say there is no plan to revive permanent US military bases in the Philippines - the last ones were closed in 1992 and that the increased presence would help provide relief during disasters such as a typhoon last week that killed more than 700 people. “The increase rotation presence is in areas where we have been traditionally exercising,”

said Sorreta. “There are other areas for example where we have been experiencing more disasters. So we might be expanding exercises there.” One U.S. official said Washington was not ready to wade directly into the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and instead would focus on strengthening security ties with long-standing allies such as the Philippines. “I don’t think you’ll see any real movement on the South China Sea,” the US official said. “I’m sure it will come up, but we aren’t trying to step in and ‘solve’ that issue. We really want the solution to be done by the claimants themselves and are hoping the Code of Conduct discussions move forward,” said the official, referring to a Code of Conduct aimed at easing the risk of naval flashpoints. Sorreta told Reuters the Philippines also favoured an increased deployment of US aircraft and ships “so we can make use of them when the need arises”, citing last week’s typhoon. He said they would also welcome more US humanitarian supplies. — Reuters

Zaldy Ampatuan pleads ‘not guilty’ to massacre MANILA: A Philippine politician accused of helping plan the country’s worst political massacre pleaded not guilty yesterday to organizing the murder of at least 57 victims, a court official said. Zaldy Ampatuan, allegedly a key plotter of the 2009 attack in the country’s south, entered a plea after the court struck down months of maneuvers challenging the legality of his arrest, said court officer May Datuon. “He has exhausted all the remedies,” Datuon said. The Ampatuan clan allegedly carried out the massacre in November 2009 to keep a rival candidate from challenging one of their members in the 2010 local elections. At the time Zaldy Ampatuan was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a self-rule area where then-president Gloria Arroyo armed hundreds of the clan’s supporters to help the military fight Islamic guerrillas. The family patriarch Andal Ampatuan Snr and his son and namesake Andal Ampatuan Jnr are also among 75 suspects on trial. The two are accused of plotting the murders along with Zaldy Ampatuan and other clan members, the court said. Andal Ampatuan Jnr allegedly led a group of about 100 gunmen in stopping a convoy of cars carrying relatives of the rival candidate, their lawyers and journalists, and then shooting them dead in a remote area. The massacre, in which the victims were buried in mass graves using an excavator owned by the provincial government, shocked the nation. It forced Arroyo to break ties with the clan and order the arrest of its leaders. State prosecu-

tors ruled earlier this year that there were 58 massacre victims, with extra dentures found at the mass graves identified to be those of a missing journalist. However Zaldy Ampatuan was initially only charged with the murders of 57 victims, which was the official toll when he was indicted. Philippine police said 103 people have been arrested over the massacre, including the clan patriarch. However more than 90 oth-

er suspects remain at large, raising fears the clan may still intimidate potential witnesses. The trial is seen as a test of whether the Philippines can really abolish the “culture of impunity” surrounding powerful figures. Government lawyers and human rights advocates warn that the trial could take years due to delaying tactics by some of the wealthy defendants and the overburdened legal system.— AFP

End attacks on children in south Thailand: UN BANGKOK: The UN yesterday called for an end to violence against children in southern Thailand following the “senseless and unacceptable” shooting of a baby girl in a region racked by nine years of unrest. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned Tuesday’s attack on a teashop in Narathiwat that killed the infant and left a 10-month-old boy injured, in a rare statement on an insurgency that has killed thousands in three provinces bordering Malaysia. The shooting, in which gunmen sprayed bullets at villagers who were having breakfast, was “a tragic, senseless and unacceptable act”, said Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF representative in Thailand. “Every time a child is killed or injured, every time a child loses a parent or relative, and every time their schools and teachers are attacked, the more all children in the deep

south suffer,” he said. “Bringing an end to the violence is the only way to ensure that the rights of all children in the south are fully protected and respected.” Near daily attacksincluding shootings, bombings and even beheadings-mean violence is a part of life for many in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. More than 5,300 people, both Buddhist and Muslim, have been killed since the unrest reignited in 2004. The fighting has claimed the lives of more than 50 children, with around 340 injured, according to the UN. On October 31, an 11-year-old boy was shot and killed in an ambush with his father, in an attack that also left his nine-year-old brother in a critical condition in a district of Yala. Tuesday’s teashop attack left five people dead, while a headmistress and teacher were also killed in a separate shooting at a school in Pattani. —AFP



Beware of foreign meddling: Putin MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin yesterday denounced opponents who receive financial assistance from abroad and vowed that Russia would not allow democracy to be imposed from the outside. In his first annual state-of-the-nation address since he returned to the Kremlin for a third term, Putin struck a patriotic chord, telling Russians to have more babies and behave with greater morality. His iciest warning came for opposition politicians deemed to be close to the West, saying it should be illegal for anyone who receives money from abroad to be a politician in Russia. “Direct or indirect outside interference in our internal political processes is unacceptable,” Putin said in his speech in the Kremlin. “People who receive money from abroad for their political activities- most likely serving foreign national interests-cannot be politicians in the Russian Federation.” Putin also said parliament should introduce legislation to “limit the rights” of officials and politicians to have foreign bank accounts and shares. Putin’s annual speech to the Federal Assembly of both houses of parliament came one year after disputed parliamentary elections sparked the first mass street protests against his domination of Russia. In May, the Russian strongman returned to the Kremlin

for a third term as president following his four-year stint as prime minister, with activists complaining he had swiftly hit back with a crackdown on civil society. This included a law rushed through parliament forcing non-government organizations which receive money from abroad to register as foreign agents, a move activists said stigmatized their work. Putin did not make specific reference to the protests but acknowledged the need for change in Russia while warning that dialogue was only possible with those acting within the law. “A civilized dialogue is only possible with those political forces who put forward, justify and formulate their demands in a civilized manner and defend them within the bounds of the law,” Putin added. “Changing, modernizing a political system is a natural and even necessary process,” he said in the one-and-a-half hour speech. He said that Russia needed more morality and spirituality in society but also said it was important that the authorities did not behave like an “isolated caste”. “Being a patriot does not just mean showing respect and love towards your history but above all serving society and the country,” Putin said. Analyst and former Kremlin adviser Gleb Pavlovsky said patriotism was once again the major theme of the speech and this explained the new attack on foreign-funded opposition. — AFP

MOSCOW: (From right) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin’s Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev walk after Putin’s state-of-the nation address in the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. — AP





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Military thrust to Egypt centre-stage By Hassan El-Fekih

fter sitting politically backstage for the past six months, Egypt’s powerful military has been thrust back into the spotlight to handle a crisis that is testing its desire to stay neutral and its duty to maintain order. The military has called for President Mohamed Morsi and the secular opposition to meet later yesterday in a bid to prevent the crisis over an imminent constitutional referendum from tearing the country apart. It made the call after the Islamist Morsi ordered the army to back up police by protecting “vital state institutions” and giving officers powers to arrest civilians. After meeting Morsi on Monday, the defense minister and commander of the armed forces, General Abel Fattah al-Sissi, called on army officers to exercise the “highest levels of selfrestraint”. He said the armed forces were determined to “carry out their role in protecting the nation and its stability regardless of pressures and challenges”. However, human rights groups see the risk of a return to civilians being tried in military courts, as happened during the transition period between the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 until Morsi’s election in June 2012. The decree granting the army police powers was slammed by Human Rights Watch, which said it could allow unchecked abuses and that it undermined the rule of law. Amnesty International called the security decree “a dangerous loophole which may well lead to the military trial of civilians”. Directly or indirectly, the military has had a prominent role in Egyptian life since the overthrow in 1952 of the monarchy. Morsi is the first civilian to become president. His four predecessorsMohammed Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Mubarak-all rose from the ranks of the military. During those years, the army was able to build up a vast economic empire, controlling enterprises from mineral water to property and even cemeteries. Morsi, despite initially being kept on a tight rein by the generals, succeeded in taking the upper hand in August by forcing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi into retirement. “Under Tantawi’s leadership, the military managed the transition period and exercised executive and legislative power for more than a year. It became directly involved in political life,” said Amr Rabie of Al-Ahram Institute of Political and Strategic Studies. “Morsi has worked to restore the military’s role as a professional army, but the past few days have shown that it still seeks to play a political role,” he added. On Saturday, the military put its foot down, telling both sides to start dialogue as “only way to reach agreement and achieve the interests of the nation and its citizens”. “The opposite of that will take us into a dark tunnel with disastrous resultsand that is something we will not allow,” the army warned. Should simmering tensions boil over, it remains to be seen whether the military will side with Morsi or the secular opposition. “It’s not clear; it is hard to know what the reaction will be from this institution” which revels in the cult of secrecy, Rabie said. This puts “enormous pressure on Mr Morsi,” as the powerful institution again rises to the fore. “If there are any violent confrontations and if blood runs in the street then certainly the army will intervene,” analyst Emad Gad said. “Whether the president is elected or not, it is his duty to try to preserve security and keep order.” The risk still exists that the army could roll back to zero the transition begun since Mubarak’s ouster, should it again find itself in charge. “It would then have to preside over yet another transition period, with a new roadmap,” said Gad. —AFP


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N Korea rocket raises nuke stakes By Jung Ha-Won orth Korea’s rocket launch is evidence of a new ballistic missile capability that sharply raises the stakes over Pyongyang’s nuclear program and poses a direct threat to the United States, analysts say. Although the isolated state faces a stiff technical challenge in shaping, fitting and accurately delivering a longdistance nuclear payload, Wednesday’s launch marks a major upgrade of its potential strategic military ability. “This launch certainly bolsters their credibility when they say that they have missiles that can strike the United States,” said James Schoff, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It’s harder to wave that off after a successful test like this,” said Schoff, a former Pentagon official. A North Korean claim in October that it already possessed rockets capable of striking the US mainland had been widely dismissed as rhetorical bluster at the time. Masao Okonogi, a professor of Korean politics at Keio University, agreed that the launch would thrust North Korea close to the top of Washington’s national security agenda. “Putting a satellite into orbit means that you have technology to get a warhead to a targeted area. Now, North Korea is becoming not only a threat to the neighboring countries but also a real threat to the United States,” Okonogi said. “The question is whether the satellite was precisely put into the planned orbit or veered away.” US and South Korean officials said it would take


time to fully analyze yesterday’s launch, which Pyongyang described as a purely scientific space mission, but its critics condemned as a disguised ballistic missile test. Even if the North has achieved its stated objective of placing a satellite in orbit, several analysts cautioned against over-stating its new military capabilities. Miniaturizing a nuclear weapon into a warhead that would fit on a ballistic missile is an enormous technical challenge, and there are still significant questions over accurate delivery, they said. “It’s one thing to have a missile with sufficient range to reach Hawaii. It’s another to have sufficient accuracy to hit what you’re aiming at,” said Ralph Cossa, president of the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It means they have a pretty good chance of hitting the Pacific Ocean but not much chance hitting an island, much less a specific target,” said Cossa, a former US Air Force colonel. “Nonetheless, they are getting better and we have to take them seriously.” Pyongyang’s nuclear program remains shrouded in secrecy, but the country’s existing plutonium stockpile is estimated to be enough for six to eight atomic bombs. Ham Hyeong-Pil, from the South Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Pyongyang would move quickly to refine the missile’s accuracy and perfect warhead miniaturization techniques. “I personally believe that it won’t take long for the North to master these two technologies, once it overcomes some technical problems and stages two or three

more launches down the road,” Ham said. “It’s a worrying situation. I think that the US has no choice but to recognize it as a real, tangible threat,” he added. The timing of yesterday’s launch was widely seen as politically motivated, with the North’s leader Kim JungUn determined that it should take place close to the first anniversary of the death of his father and former leader, Kim Jong-Il on December 17. “Kim Jong-Un gains a lot from this in terms of his securing his position and prestige,” said Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. A previous launch attempt in April, for which Pyongyang had taken the unprecedented step of inviting the foreign media, ended in an embarrassing failure when the carrier exploded shortly after take-off. The UN Security Council was due to meet later Wednesday to discuss its response to the launch, with the US and its allies demanding a significant expansion of sanctions already imposed after the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Much will depend on the stance of veto-wielding China-Pyongyang’s only major ally and main aid donorwhich has resisted the call for tougher sanctions in the past. China expressed concern at yesterday’s launch and called on all sides to avoid “stoking the flames”. Cossa said Pyongyang’s action would present a key challenge to Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping, who will formally become president in March. “Most Chinese say Xi is already calling the shots so this becomes his first test on how he deals with an international crisis,” Cossa said. —AFP

Berlusconi calls his party to order By John Lloyd t’s not over till Silvio stops singing. The onetime cruise ship crooner has called his party - the People of Freedom - to order. Most have obeyed his command to withdraw support for the technocratic government now running Italy, including those who until recently said it was a good thing old man Berlusconi was out of the running. The pesky thing is, Berlusconi is right about some things. His party is right when it says “the situation is worse than a year ago.” Berlusconi will be right, as well, if he judges that the parties of the left - presently the likely winners in a future election don’t rouse much enthusiasm in the electorate. And he may - just may - be right that his money, his media and the old Berlusconi magic might tip the scales toward him. But is he right enough to win back power? It will depend on whether his fellow citizens’ disappointment at the results, so far, of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity program is greater than their memory of how ineffectual and scandal-ridden Berlusconi was by the end of his rule. This week, Monti announced he is resigning once next year’s budget is approved. Ask the question: Are things worse than when, a little over a year ago, Monti took over as prime minister? Monti, a former European Commissioner, a much decorated economics scholar and a man with respected by world elites came into office with a hopeful sobriety. I remember watching the four-hour press conference he and his fellow ministers gave when they began their terms. It was an extraordinary event, with long, detailed speeches by Monti and his senior colleagues. Elsa Fornero, the work and pensions minister, broke down in tears, realizing how tough the road ahead would be. Here, I thought, was a cabinet of people untouched by the sleaze that laps at Italian politics. They were preoccupied with explaining, even if in too great detail, their actions. Anxious Italians and Europeans would, if they lis-


tened carefully, understand them. And when you ask that question about this past year, as Italians will before they vote, you get an answer: things have gotten worse. Nearly everything on which people rely - the family, savings, jobs, quality of life, consumption - is at a lower level than at the end of 2011. The portion of families facing real difficulties - in poverty, or near it - has increased from 16 percent in November 2011 to 30 percent today. Families are central everywhere, but more so in Italy than in most places. When one-third of them are suffering, it spreads a miasma of fear and desponden-

is in living memory) loomed once more. Could Monti have done things differently? Like the acute Stampa columnist Luca Ricolfi, I don’t think so, given what he believes. Monti believed, and still believes, that the state deficit, of some 130 percent of gross domestic product, is choking Italy’s economy, and that reducing it needs to be done by raising taxes on everyone. Not just tax increases, but the increases are what people will remember when Silvio comes calling next year with a new seduction. Monti also wanted to liberalize the economy - to make it easier for workers to

Silvio Berlusconi cy through society. When Prime Minister Berlusconi went to the Quirinale Palace last year to hand his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano, the country was on the verge of default. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and the dominant European politician, was begging Berlusconi to go, so much did she fear an Italian default. The country stood on the verge of collapse, in which everything in the economy and in social life was at risk, and the threat of extremism (in a country where extremism

be fired, among other measures; to free up the professions and trade guilds that operate, ferociously, to keep newcomers out; to make it easier to hire the young; and to lower the high cost and long waiting times that starting a new business exacts. He wanted, in less than 18 months, to bring liberalizations to a country whose democratically elected governments had failed to undertake. He did some of these things, but the parties, and the unions, and in some cases the businesses, ganged up on him. He and

his colleagues were there by consent of the parties; they could hardly challenge them, since they had no mandate other than their convictions to do so. So the reforms have been partial, sketches of what might have been. By any measure, then, a sober account of Monti-ism would be one that said, at best: He tried, but he didn’t have the time, or the support, to succeed (not the same as saying he failed). But there is one more thing to add, another factor that will work to Berlusconi’s favor, as it has in the past. The likeliest winner of future elections, as things stand, is Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party, the main party of the center-left. He may get, based on his present showing, as much as 30 percent to 35 percent of the vote. He was an economics minister in the last government of the left and was modestly effective, as well as quite liberal. He is no ogre. But as Bersani’s old boss, Romano Prodi, did, Bersani will struggle most of all to govern his own side. He will have moderate Catholics on his right, various kinds of Marxists on his left - whose support he has just won after a bruising fight with challenger Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence. Bersani probably knows what he has to do - much of it is what Monti has sought to do - but he will have at least as much trouble as Monti doing it. Monti put his faith, as he has for many years, in Europe. He delivered some peace of mind to Merkel but got little in return. His austerity program has meant that the tax take from Italian families is much higher this Christmas than last. But that also means much lower consumption, which will in turn mean a long, long recession. Berlusconi’s political instincts have always been the best. He came into Italian politics almost 20 years ago, and failed within a year. Nobody thought he would be back. Instead, he has dominated the politics of the peninsula ever since. Never count him out till he stops singing. It seems there is at least one more aria to go. —Reuters


sp orts NZ board apologises to Taylor for captaincy mess

Thorpe ‘happy’ at Armstrong’s downfall

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand Cricket has publicly apologised to Ross Taylor for its poor handling of the former captain’s demotion. Taylor was stripped of the oneday and Twenty20 captaincy last week at the recommendation of head coach Mike Hesson after the tour of Sri Lanka and the disgruntled batsman turned down the offer to continue as test skipper. Brendon McCullum was named the new captain in all three formats while Taylor opted out of the team’s tour of South Africa. “The board has reviewed all aspects of the captaincy issue and wishes to publicly place on record its apologies to Ross Taylor and his family for the manner in which events have unfolded,” NZC chairman Chris Moller told reporters in Wellington, reading from a prepared statement. Former players and pundits have slammed NZC for the captaincy controversy and said the episode had made Hesson’s job untenable but Moller said no heads would roll. “There are no hanging offences in all of this,” he said. “Yes, the ball’s been dropped, absolutely. Could we have done things better? Absolutely. Are we going to learn from those mistakes, well we hope so.” Taylor, New Zealand’s top test batsman, acknowledged the apology in a post on his Twitter account. “I appreciate the apology from NZC today,” he tweeted. “Keen to put it behind me and looking forward to getting back with the team soon.” New Zealand head to South Africa this month to play three Twenty20 internationals before the first of a two-test series against the Proteas gets underway in Cape Town on Jan. 2. —Reuters

DOHA: Former Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe said yesterday he was “happy” at Lance Armstrong’s downfall and congratulated the doping authorities that exposed the seventime Tour de France winner as a drug cheat. “I was happy. It shows that no matter who you are and whatever you do, you can fall,” Thorpe said on the closing day of the Doha Goals sporting forum. The Australian legend paid tribute to the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and its president Travis Tygart who was at the heart of revealing Armstrong’s systematic doping that helped him become the biggest name in the sport. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life in October after the USADA produced evidence of widespread doping by him and his former team-mates. Tygart, also attending the conference in Doha, said: “The culture that reigns in the United States and elsewhere is one of the reasons that lead to doping.” “We have also uncovered doping in roller skating, a non-Olympic discipline that has been carrying out very sophisticated doping programmes that we have never seen before and was carried out by the fathers and coaches,” he continued. “The fight against doping is at the centre of our debates here in Doha.”Thorpe, once suspected of taking banned substances before being cleared, added: “It’s right that we talk about the possibility of seeing changes introduced to our society across the world of sport. To see doping means that we have not yet managed to protect our people,” said Thorpe. The 2000 Olympic triple jump champion and world record holder Jonathan Edwards is also in attendance in Doha and offered his viewpoints on the subject. —AFP

Watson gets new slot SYDNEY: Shane Watson will bat at number four position in the Australian Test batting order, the all-rounder said on Wednesday, insisting the move will allow him to make greater impact with the ball. A floater in Australia’s top and middle order since his 2005 test debut, Watson will occupy the position left vacant by the retirement of Ricky Ponting in the Hobart test against Sri Lanka starting on Friday. “Both (captain) Michael (Clarke) and (coach) Mickey (Arthur) think it’s a good place for me to bat,” Watson told reporters ahead of the series opener against Sri Lanka. “I really am seeing it as a big positive. One, for my batting side of things, but also for my bowling, to hopefully be able to really contribute that little bit more with the ball because I feel like I have got a bit more to contribute with the ball. “Batting at four means that Michael can use me that bit more and hopefully I can provide some impact,” said the 31-year-old with 60 wickets from 36 tests. Watson, who batted at number three in the last series against South Africa, has had more success as an opener but felt batting down the order would allow him to score freely. “I don’t think I’m really going to have to change anything at all,” he said. “Hopefully the bowlers are going to be a little bit more tired, the ball’s going to be a little bit older and the wicket’s going to be more worn as well. “The challenge for me is to be able to continue that mindset, like I was when I was opening and having success.” Sri Lankan attack is built primarily around their spinners and Watson appeared prepared for that. “I do know I’m going to be facing spin a lot more coming in and batting number four,” he said.—Reuters

Knicks rally to beat Nets

NUREMBERG: German WBO super middleweight boxing champion with Armenian roots, Arthur Abraham (right) meets his challenger Mehdi Bouadla from France (left) at a press conference. The title bout is scheduled for Saturday Dec 15. —AP

Farrell, Rowntree, Howley named Lions assistants EDINBURGH: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland snubbed longtime No. 2 Shaun Edwards by choosing Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley in his coaching team yesterday for next year’s tour of Australia. Rowntree, England’s forwards coach, and Howley, the attack coach with Wales, were retained from the backroom staff that toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009. However, Edwards was overlooked for the role of defense coach in favor of the highly rated Farrell, who is also part of England’s coaching team and will be on his first Lions tour as a player or coach. “It was a difficult decision to make ... he’s a world-class coach,” Gatland said of Edwards. “But it was about keeping continuity and also making sure fresh faces came in.” Edwards and Gatland have enjoyed considerable success together for the past decade, linking up first for a trophyladen spell with London Wasps in the English Premiership from 2002-05. Edwards has worked under Gatland for Wales since 2008, during which time the team has won two Grand Slams in the Six Nations. It will have been a difficult decision for

Gatland to break up one of the northern hemisphere’s top coaching partnerships but he has been impressed with Farrell’s recent work with Saracens and then England. “To be honest, picking Andy is a bit of a selfish appointment,” Gatland said. “It gives me the chance to work with someone with fresh ideas who I haven’t worked with before. It will enable me to develop and look at the game differently as well.” “I am delighted with today’s appointments,” Gatland added, “and confident that Rob, Graham, Andy and myself can come together quickly to face one of the hardest rugby challenges. Lions tours are unique as we have to mould together players from four countries in an incredibly short space of time.” Edwards will instead be part of the Wales coaching staff that will tour Japan next summer, Wales announced later Wednesday. The Lions tour begins on June 1, when the representative side from the four home unions plays the Barbarians in Hong Kong. The first of three tests against Australia will take place in Brisbane on June 22. The Lions have not won a test series since beating South Africa in 1997. —AP

NHL, union to return to bargaining table TORONTO: NHL labor negotiations will resume late yesterday, with mediators rejoining the talks at an undisclosed location in an effort to save the hockey season. The Canadian Press on Tuesday reported the restart of bargaining between the league and union, citing unidentified people on both sides of the lockout. US federal mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are to return to the process. They took part in sessions Nov. 27 and 28 before deciding they couldn’t help. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, based in Washington, also was involved during the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 NHL season, with Beckenbaugh attending sessions. As recently as last week, Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated he didn’t think mediators would be able to help bridge the gap. “We’re not interested in mediation,” he said Thursday. “We went through it a week and a half ago. It was of no value because of the position of the parties.” Tuesday marked the 87th day of the lockout. Wednesday’s session will be the first meeting since the sides blamed each other after talks broke off last week. Until then, they appeared to be making progress during three days in New York in which they exchanged proposals. Union executive director Donald Fehr maintains

there are agreements on almost all the important issues. From the league’s point of view, three main issues remain: the length of the collection bargaining agreement, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules to help teams get under the salary cap. There are also secondary issues yet to be agreed on, including the continued participation of NHL players in the Olympics, the international calendar and drug-testing rules. In all, more than 40 percent of the regular season that was scheduled to begin Oct. 11 has been scratched. The NHL eliminated 16 more days from the regular-season schedule Monday, canceling games through Dec. 30 in addition to the New Year’s Day Winter Classic and the All-Star Game, which were already wiped out. The latest cancellations generally were regarded as both bad news and good news. While losing another two weeks hurts the league and the players, the fact that the NHL did not take more games off the schedule sparked speculation owners are holding out hope of making a deal that could start the season in early January. Bettman has said the league would not want to play anything less than a 48-game season, which is what it had after 1994-95 lockout ended. —AP

NEW YORK: Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 45 points, Jason Kidd made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24 seconds left, and the New York Knicks rallied from an early 17point hole to beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-97 on Tuesday night. Kidd finished with 18 points against his former team, who used to dominate the Knicks when he played in New Jersey. Now the series is tied at 1-1 since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, both games coming down to the tense final minutes. Andray Blatche scored 23 points in place of Brook Lopez, who missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right foot. Deron Williams added 18 points and 10 assists, and Reggie Evans grabbed 18 rebounds, but the Nets lost their fifth straight. Gerald Wallace scored 17 points, but both he and Williams missed potential tying 3pointers on the last possession after Kidd broke a 97-all tie with his 3-pointer from the left side while being fouled by Jerry Stackhouse. Kidd missed the free throw in an otherwise terrific effort for the 39-year-old point guard. Cavaliers 100, Lakers 94 In Cleveland, Kyrie Irving scored 28 points in his return after missing 11 games with a broken finger, helping Cleveland drop the Lakers to a new low in a tumultuous season. Irving added 11 assists in 39 minutes as the Cavs ended a five-game losing streak. Kobe Bryant scored 42 points and Dwight Howard had 19 points and 20 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Lakers from losing for the eighth time in 11 games and to a Cleveland team that came in with just four wins. CJ Miles scored 28 in his first start this season for the Cavs.Los Angeles was without Pau Gasol, who missed his fifth straight game with knee tendinitis. Clippers 94, Bulls 89 In Chicago, Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Clippers beat Chicago for their seventh straight victory - the team’s longest winning streak in two decades. Marco Belinelli hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to cut Chicago’s deficit to 89-87, but Chris Paul answered with a floater in the lane, then iced it with three free throws down the stretch as Los Angeles snapped the Bulls’ season-high three-game winning streak. Paul finished with 18 points and four assists as the Clippers swept the season series for the first time since 2009-10. Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who had won five of six overall. Nuggets 101, Pistons 94 In Auburn, Ty Lawson had 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Corey Brewer added 15 points to Denver over Detroit. Andre Iguodala had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who rallied from a slow start in which they trailed by as many as 17 in the first quarter. JaVale McGee also scored 12 for Denver. Brandon Knight had 20 points and five assists for the Pistons. Jason Maxiell added 18 points, six blocks and six rebounds, and Rodney Stuckey scored 17. Danilo Gallinari hit a 3-pointer with 1:48 left to give the Nuggets a 96-89 lead before Lawson’s driving layup with 1:15 remaining pushed it to 98-89. Wizards 77, Hornets 70 In New Orleans, Jordan Crawford scored 26 points to help Washington spoil the return of overall No. 1 pick Anthony Davis with a win over New Orleans. Bradley Beal added 15 points for the Wizards, who trailed by as many as 13 and never led until the fourth quarter. Washington won for the first time on the road after losing its first eight. Ryan Anderson led New Orleans with 17 points. Davis, who missed 11 games with a stress reaction in his left ankle, had 13 points and seven rebounds. The game befitted the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference (Washington) and the team with the worst in the West (New Orleans) as both teams shot under 33 percent for the game. —AP

CHICAGO: Los Angeles Clippers forward Lamar Odom (7) draws a charging foul from Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer during the second half of an NBA basketball game. —

NEW YORK: Knicks guard Jason Kidd (right) tries to strip the ball from the hands of Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans (30) as forward Carmelo Anthony (center) watches in the second half of their NBA basketball game. —AP

NBA results/standings NY Knicks 100, Brooklyn 97; Cleveland 100, LA Lakers 94; Denver 101, Detroit 94; Washington 77, New Orleans 70; LA Clippers 94, Chicago 89. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT NY Knicks 16 5 .762 Philadelphia 12 9 .571 Brooklyn 11 9 .550 Boston 11 9 .550 Toronto 4 18 .182

Chicago Milwaukee Indiana Detroit Cleveland

Central Division 11 9 .550 10 9 .526 10 11 .476 7 17 .292 5 17 .227

Southeast Division Miami 14 5 .737 Atlanta 12 6 .667 Orlando 8 12 .400 Charlotte 7 13 .350 Washington 3 15 .167

GB 4 4.5 4.5 12.5

0.5 1.5 6 7

1.5 6.5 7.5 10.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 17 4 .810 Utah 12 10 .545 Denver 11 11 .500 Minnesota 9 9 .500 Portland 9 12 .429

5.5 6.5 6.5 8

Pacific Division 15 6 .714 14 7 .667 9 13 .409 7 13 .350 7 15 .318

1 6.5 7.5 8.5

Southwest Division 18 4 .818 14 4 .778 11 10 .524 9 11 .450 5 15 .250

2 6.5 8 12

LA Clippers Golden State LA Lakers Sacramento Phoenix

San Antonio Memphis Dallas Houston New Orleans




Tagliabue shows Goodell how it’s done NEW YORK: “Round up the usual suspects.” Funny how that line near the end of “Casablanca” provides a fitting epitaph for Bountygate, too. Like Capt. Renault in the film classic, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was presented with a crime and empowered as both judge and jury. He considered the evidence, weighed the injury to the parties involved, then concluded - conveniently that no further action was required. Justice had already been served. Tagliabue’s reasoning was torturous, but the result was fair. He decided the two Saints players who took part in cash-for-hits program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011, and a third who assisted in trying to cover it up, had suffered enough, commuting the suspensions to time served and erased their fines. And he cleared Scott Fujita, who’d maintained his innocence all along. Just as important, Tagliabue affirmed

current Commissioner Roger Goodell’s findings of fact in the case, even if he didn’t agree with the ham-handed way the punishments were doled out. Tagliabue knew his successor didn’t need any more challenges to his reputation or authority at the moment, not with back-to-back tragedies casting a shadow over the league’s last two weekends and concussion-related lawsuits piling up outside the door to his office. Most important, Tagliabue knew the people at the top of the Saints organization who were responsible for the bounty scheme - general manager Mickey Loomis, coach Sean Peyton, Williams and several others; in this case, “the usual suspects” - were already serving time, banished from the league for varying lengths of time and slapped with heavy fines. Goodell isn’t completely in the clear, either. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, whom Goodell hit the hardest, said Tuesday he

would press ahead his defamation lawsuit against the commissioner, which only seems fair. I wrote back in May that Goodell “better have the goods,” and that “somewhere in the 50,000 pages of documents related to the Saints bounty program better be some compelling evidence that it was much more organized and way more vicious than anything the NFL had ever seen. Otherwise, the punishment he’s doled out already has exceeded the crime.” What Williams did wasn’t all that different from what coaches have been doing since football was invented. He just kept better records, bragged about it too often and loudly, and despite repeated warnings, his bosses in the locker room and the front office didn’t see fit to shut it down. About the fourth or fifth time Williams handed out cash for big hits, or launched into one of his “kill the head” pep talks, it was only natural to assume that was the company

policy. That the players “just sat and nodded at Williams instead of calling a crisis intervention hotline,” as one writer put it, “was not grounds to take away their livelihood for long periods of time.” Tagliabue agreed. But with Goodell facing an increasingly rebellious players’ union in just the second year of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, his predecessor saw no reason to limit the commissioner’s discretionary powers. “To be clear: this case should not be considered a precedent for whether similar behavior in the future merits player suspensions or fines,” his ruling said. Tagliabue also concurred that the Saints organization deserved to be punished severely, and had been. Not just for allowing Williams to rant on and run and his little “per formance” pool unchecked for several seasons, but for trying to impede the league’s investiga-

tion at every turn along the way. Unlike his players, Williams’ bosses quit fighting. Bet they wish now, like the players, they had a union, too. The surprise here isn’t Tagliabue’s decision. It was clear months ago, despite selective excerpts from the league’s voluminous files, that Goodell didn’t have the goods to take the unilateral actions he did. And that was only reinforced by the sham of an appeals process that wound its way back to his desk. The real surprise, ultimately, is that Tagliabue got to decide the case at all. Goodell agreed to an appeal of the appeal with considerable reluctance, likely thinking that if anyone would understand his rationale, it would the guy who once sat in the same seat. The union initially opposed Tagliabue’s selection for that very reason, fearing he was too invested in the league’s business to be a fair arbiter. Turns out they both got it wrong. —AP

Ryder to Royal as Olazabal seeks to cap magical year BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Jose Maria Olazabal is aiming to put the seal on a memorable year by leading Europe to a successful title defence at this week’s Royal Trophy in Brunei. Less than three months after masterminding Europe’s

play contest, founded by the late Seve Ballesteros and with a similar format to the Ryder Cup, Olazabal will act as a playing captain in a power-packed eight-man European team.

MEDINAH: In this Sept. 30, 2012 file photo, European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal kisses the trophy after winning the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament at the Medinah Country Club. —AP Ryder Cup triumph, the Spaniard will play a central role in his continent’s bid to defeat a Naomichi “Joe” Ozaki-led Asian team at the Empire Hotel and Country Club from Friday. In the sixth edition of the three-day match-

Olazabal said: “We have just triumphed in the first Ryder Cup since Seve left us, and it would be another fitting tribute if we could do the same thing at the Royal Trophy, a competition he did so much to establish.

“I want to do everything in my power to make that happen, and hopefully that will help me to produce some great golf-and make the right decisions on the course.” Olazabal’s team mates are his fellow Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Germany’s Marcel Siem and Swede Henrik Stenson, who holed the winning putts in 2006 and 2010. And after winning the Royal Trophy in four out of five previous editions, Europe are certain to start as favourites over the Jack Nicklausdesigned course at The Empire. However, Asian captain Ozaki is confident his team will challenge for the trophy, which is being held outside Thailand for the first time. Major-winner Y.E. Yang spearheads the team along with his South Korean compatriots Kim Kyung-Tae and Bae Sang-Moon, plus Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and Yoshinori Fujimoto. Completing the line-up are Indian veteran Jeev Milkha Singh, China’s Wu Ashun and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand. “I think this is the most formidable team we have put together so far,” Ozaki said. “It is a potent blend of experienced golfers, and others with truly enormous potential. “It is also representative of how the standards are rising fast throughout the whole of Asia.” Also helping the Asian cause will be China’s Liang Wenchong, who will act as nonplaying vice-captain. “All eight players have been chosen because they are winners,” Ozaki said. “When I flew into Brunei with two of my players you could sense the anticipation building, and I know that excitement is shared by the rest of the team. “I foresee another close match, and hopefully it will be our turn to celebrate victory.” —AFP

Tough rules could hurt game

Thaworn Wiratchant

Thaworn seeks to end season in style KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant is hoping to end a memorable year by winning the $2 million Iskandar Johor Open starting today at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club. It would be his fourth Asian Tour victory this year and would secure his place as Asia’s best player for the second time since 2005. But the 15-time Tour winner faces a strong international field. World number 20 Sergio Garcia of Spain, reigning British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa and several Asian Tour stars could frustrate his hopes. “It’s a crucial week but the most important thing is to stayed focused and handle the pressure well. I believe I can do it,” said Thaworn in comments released by the event organisers. Australia’s Marcus Fraser, South Africa’s Jbe Kruger, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat are still in the running for the prestigious Merit crown. “As I look back on the year, I’m happy that I’ve won three times. All three wins

were very memorable and I can’t say which win was the best. But if you ask me what the highlight of the year is, I hope it would be winning the Order of Merit as that would really mean a fantastic year for me,” said Thaworn. After victory in the British Open in July, Els hopes to end his year with another win. “It was a dream come true for me again when I won another Major,” he said. “I think this event’s probably everyone’s last one for the year and everyone wants to do well before we go on a long break.” Garcia, the highest ranked player this week, aims to make his debut at the Iskandar Johor Open a memorable one. “This is my first time playing in Malaysia and I’m happy with what I’ve seen of the place and the golf course so far,” said the Spaniard. “It’s also my last event of the year and I’m looking forward to a good showing. It’ll be nice to put myself into contention and hopefully win. Then I’ll have a nice Christmas break and get ready for next year.” —AFP

NEW YORK: Limiting how far the ball travels and the type of putters players can use could do more harm than good for golf, the PGA of America said on Tuesday. The PGA of America, who is opposed to a proposed ban on players anchoring long putters to their body, feels making golf easier would grow the game and is ready to resist a possible move to reign in the distance golf balls travel. “If you do anything that’s going to cause the rank and file amateur player to not hit the ball as far, there’s no way you’re going to enhance their enjoyment of the game,” PGA President Ted Bishop told reporters on Tuesday. Golf’s rulesmakers have not formally proposed dialing back how far a golf ball can go, but it has been something the United States Golf Association (USGA) has long pondered. Bishop, whose eye is trained on increasing the popularity of the game, said he worried about the average player if such a rule were to be passed. According to Bishop, the USGA has said controlling the distance of golf balls is something that may be worth exploring to help improve golf course maintenance costs and potentially lessen the amount of land required to build golf courses. “I’m not so sure that’s the greater issue we have to deal with,” Bishop told Reuters. “This game is a hard game and anything we do to make the golf course play longer, play more difficult, is certainly going to deter from the enjoyment of the game for the average player.” A review process on the proposed anchoring rule by the USGA and the Royal and Ancient is set to continue through next February and if approved would be enforced from Jan. 1, 2016. The PGA reacted quickly, issuing a statement calling on the rules bodies “to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people’s enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.” A survey of PGA members showed 63 percent were against a ban of anchoring, a putting style used by three of the past five major champions - Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els. “I’ve already had players in my club that are using long putters ... saying ‘are you going to make it a local rule that’s going to allow me to putt this way?’” said Bishop, for 20 years the general manager and director of golf at The Legends Golf Club, in Franklin, Indiana. “It puts us in a tough position as club professionals trying to administer events at our club level.” Some have suggested two sets of rules, one governing professionals and another applied to more ordinary players, referred to as bifurcation. Pete Bevacqua, the new chief executive the PGA of America, did not think split rules were a good way to go. “Everyone wants to see where the rules go,” Bevacqua told Reuters. “(But) I tend to agree with the USGA, I don’t think bifurcation is the answer. It would be crazy if we all played by different sets of rules. —Reuters

Ernie Els celebrates in this file photo.

A year of change on the PGA Tour JACKSONVILLE: Let’s see if we get this straight. In a decision just about everyone saw coming, golf ’s ruling bodies declared their intentions to outlaw putting strokes that are anchored to the body, which Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els used in winning three of the last five major championships. It would not become a new rule for three years. A few days earlier, the Royal & Ancient dropped the biggest post-Thanksgiving surprise since that Florida Highway Patrol report on a single-car accident involving Tiger Woods. It proposed alterations to half the holes on the Old Course at St. Andrews, including the front part of the green near the famous Road Hole bunker. Work began in three days. No matter your opinion on either subject, there is little disputing that 2012 was filled with significant changes. Perhaps it was only fitting that the PGA of America decided not to let the year end without picking a new Ryder Cup captain. It announced on Tuesday there would be announcement Thursday. On the “Today” show. So what to expect for 2013? The PGA Tour will end one season in September and start a new season in October. The Tour will get more attention than ever with four tournaments in the fall that, in effect, replace Q-school. The six rounds of Q-school that Erik Compton not-so-affectionately referred to as “hell week” will be missing this familiar phrase: “If he makes this putt, he’s on the PGA Tour.” That’s because the new version of the Q-school only awards a ticket to the minor leagues. Instead of finishing the calendar year outside the Magic Kingdom, players will be going to Mexico. Adios, Disney. Two of the biggest changes — the wraparound season and Q-school — were only a matter of time. The demise of Q-school was brought on by the creation in 2007 of the FedEx Cup, and while players might not take time to understand the points, they understand four playoff events worth a total of $67 million in prize money and bonuses. Trouble is, that reduced the tournaments after the FedEx Cup to something called the “Fall Series,” with smaller purses, watered-down fields and minimal world ranking points. The only way to keep those sponsors happy was to treat them like regular PGA Tour events. The only way to treat them like regular events was to give them FedEx Cup points. And they couldn’t give FedEx Cup points without making them part of the regular schedule, thus the wraparound season. Start in October, end in September. Win/lose the Presidents Cup/Ryder Cup. Repeat process. And with the new season starting so soon, there was no time to award PGA Tour cards at Q-school. That’s a big reason the tour went to the

four-tournament series known as “The Finals,” to be played roughly the same time as the FedEx Cup playoffs. The greater change will be anchored strokes, and the PGA Tour would do well to take a page from the Old Course and get started immediately. The rule still has go to through a 90-day comment period before the USGA and R&A approved it, and because the Rules of Golf only change every four years, it would not be effective until the next book comes out in 2016. There was talk that the PGA Tour could create its own rule and allow the putting stroke. What’s more likely to happen is for the PGA Tour to create its own rule that bans the anchored stroke well before 2016 — like the start of the 2014 season, which will be in October of 2013. It puts players like Bradley in a sticky spot. While it’s perfectly legal to anchor the club now, everyone knows the end of the belly putter is near. It was difficult not to look at Bradley and Simpson differently after the proposed ban was announced, where before no one would have noticed and even few would have cared. TV can’t ignore it, either, and is that really what the PGA Tour wants to hear from the booth for the next three years? Bradley says a fan called him a cheater during the third round of the World Challenge at Sherwood, and the USGA rushed out a statement that condemned the comment as “deplorable.” It’s surprising the USGA has waited this long to take on the fan who screams, “Get in the hole” when players tee off on a par 5 by reminding us there is no evidence of anyone reaching the green with a 575-yard tee shot. Can someone like Bradley expect more of the same? Possibly. Just don’t get the idea such comments will cause an unfair advantage. Bradley thrives on this stuff. He was asked after the round if the debate could actually help him because he was running out of chips to put on his shoulder. “Absolutely,” he said. “You hear guys like Michael Jordan talk about how he liked to play on the road. The guy called me a cheater on the last hole — that gets me motivated. I’m never running out of stuff to motivate me because I always feel like I need to get better. I never go into a tournament thinking I’m playing so good that I’m going to win. Every single tournament I’ve won, I had a borderline meltdown on Wednesday. That’s what keeps me going. It’s just how I am.” Don’t get the idea Bradley lacks confidence. He thinks he can win every week. It just doesn’t hurt to find motivation wherever he can, even from the gallery. “I think it’s one of my best qualities,” he said. As for St. Andrews? No need to panic just yet. The British Open doesn’t return there for three more years.—AP




Trading soccer for wickets in Nigeria cricket boom

Mahela Jayawardene

Sri Lanka old guard target Australia Test HOBART: Sri Lanka are putting their faith in the remnants of their “golden generation” as they target their first ever Test win in Australia in the three-match series starting tomorrow. Thirty-somethings Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera, who form the core of Sri Lanka’s batting, are shaping as Sri Lanka’s best chance of breaking their 10-Test, 25-year winless record. Sangakkara, 35, the international cricketer of the year, would not be drawn on whether this will be his last trip to Australia, but he said an elusive Test win was a prime motivator for the team elders. “When you do get older, you do look for achievements where you haven’t really tasted victory so, here and in India, (there are) Test matches still to win,” Sangakkara said in Hobart. “That’s a great motivator for guys like Dilshan, Mahela, myself and Samaraweera. “We’re the older brigade. But whether we get it or not, the key is to really contribute to the side.” Since being hammered in their first Test in Australia in early 1988, Sri Lanka have lost another seven matches and drawn two, most recently in Cairns in 2004. They have also never won a Test in India. Sri Lanka’s hopes appear to rest on their batsmen providing enough runs to upset Michael Clarke’s Australia, the world number three Test side, who are embarking on their first series since the retirement of Ricky Ponting. Their bowling has been hit by the Test retirements of Lasith Malinga, Chaminda Vaas and the 800-wicket Muttiah Muralitharan. Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis, with 62 wickets from 16 Tests, was passed over for the tour. Dilshan, 36, admits he is unlikely to have another chance to win a Test in Australia and acknowledges time is running out for him and his team-mates. “Definitely. For me I think this is my last tour (in Australia) in Test cricket. This is a real challenge for everyone,” he said. “We’ve never won a Test match here. If we can win a Test match it’s great for the team and

the country. “It’s never easy when you’re playing Australia because the conditions are different. But we’re looking forward to a great run with them in this series.” Much of Sri Lanka’s hopes are pinned on the batting of veteran trio Jayawardene, Sangakkara and opener Dilshan, who urged the top order to make runs or risk being whitewashed in the series. “Definitely in the top order someone has to put their hands up and put some big runs on the board, to help the middle order and the tailenders,” the opener said. “That’s our target. The top order should make some runs this series. It’s really important that Mahela and Sanga come into form. They’re two experienced guys in the side.” However, Sri Lanka’s lead-in form does not augur well with just four victories in their last 20 Tests. Their last away series win was in Bangladesh in 2008, and their current Test ranking is a lowly sixth. Australia are coming off a 309-run drubbing by world number one South Africa this month, and Hobart will be the first chance for their new-look batting line-up after the recordbreaking Ponting retired with 13,378 Test runs. Phil Hughes returns to the Australian squad at the ground where he was dropped after their shock loss to New Zealand a year ago, with a likely role at number three instead of opening the innings. “This is the ground where things probably didn’t pan out perfectly on a personal note,” Hughes said this week. “Twelve months down the track, I feel like I’m in a better place now.” All-rounder Shane Watson has said he will be given the first opportunity to fill Ponting’s vacancy in the batting order at number four against Sri Lanka. “(Coach) Mickey Arthur talked to me at the end of the last (Perth) Test to say the way it was looking, they were going to move me down to four,” Watson told reporters. The series continues in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground followed by Sydney, starting on January 3. —AFP

LAGOS: Near the parade ground that Queen Elizabeth II once toured when Nigeria was still under British rule, the sharp crack of a ball against a bat marks the rebirth of a colonial sport now finding a second life. Cricket, once the preserve of Nigeria’s educated elite, is finding favor in schools for poor children and in the streets of some of the nation’s most violence-torn cities. “We want cricket to reach across the country,” said Nigeria cricket federation president Kwesi Sagoe, whose father and grandfather both played on Nigeria’s national cricket teams. “We need to get the kids right from birth to accept the culture of cricket. ... We want to get to the point where a kid is born and, at (age) two or three, they’re already thinking about playing cricket, so it’s as popular as football (soccer).” Soccer remains unchallenged as Nigeria’s favorite game. Drivers show off license plate frames or stickers from their favorite English Premier League clubs in snarling Lagos traffic; Nigerian names dot rosters in top-flight European teams. Soccer, which can be reduced to just a ball and some space, is also more accessible, as pieces of rubbish often demarcate goal post areas in pickup games. Yet cricket has a long history in the country. British colonialists introduced the game to boarders in Nigeria’s top secondary schools in the 19th century. Nigeria played its first recorded international game in 1904 against presentday Ghana, local cricket officials say. A lack of cash to buy equipment, however, fettered cricket’s appeal over the years, leaving most Nigerians today puzzled by the bat-andball game. That is changing as cricket federation officials like coach Joseph Oche Onoja adapt the game on the cheap to Nigeria’s realities. Fielders at his matches don’t wear uniforms and batsmen don’t don helmets. They use an $8-version of the professional bats that can cost between $250 and $400. Instead of a hard leather ball, his players make do with tennis balls. And players accept that the pitch’s bumps may divert the ball from its intended target. In Nigeria’s north, street hawkers see Onoja and shout in the local Hausa language, asking if they can play, too. “I tell them to drop their oranges or whatever they’re selling

and join the game,” Onoja said. He’s even worked to win over new cricket fans in places such as Borno state, which faces near-daily attacks by the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram. The violence has prevented the federation from organizing games there in recent months, but it continues to donate free gear to those determined to keep playing. Only a sliver of the cricket federation’s

playing nations, in 39th place. It is now ranked 37th out of 106 cricket-playing countries and fifth in Africa, the International Cricket Council’s website says. The federation also formed its first national women cricket team last year. Coach Onoja proudly shows anyone who asks pictures of hijab-wearing women playing cricket in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.

LAGOS: In this photo taken Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, a bowler in action, from Ogun state, during a match against Lagos state, during the 18th National sports festival in Lagos, Nigeria. —AP budget comes from the government; about half comes from the International Cricket Council and the rest comes from incomegenerating initiatives such as renting the pitch for social events that will not damage their prized field. The efforts to develop cricket are bringing results. In 2002, Nigeria graduated from being an affiliate member to an associate member of the International Cricket Council, bringing it one step closer to the league of such cricket powerhouses as South Africa, India, Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies. In 2008, Nigeria was ranked for the first time among cricket-

More than an alternative sport, the game also serves as one more avenue to escape hardship in a country of more than 160 million people with few opportunities for its youth. “Cricket is all I’ve got and I’ve used it to achieve a lot in life,” said Saheed Olawale Akolade, a 20-year-old fast bowler for Nigeria’s national team who lost both his parents before his 10th birthday. He also plays for Britain’s MildenHall Cricket Club during the sevenmonth season. Akolade offers this advice to young players: “Give it a try. ... Imagine if years back I hadn’t given cricket a try; what would I be doing today?” —AP

All the World Cup venues will be ready, says Brazil BRASILIA: Manaus, one of the 12 cities due to stage soccer World Cup matches in Brazil in 18 months, will be ready on time, despite fears expressed by FIFA, Brazil’s deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes said yesterday. “There is no threat whatsoever to any of the 12 host cities not being ready in time,” Fernandes told international journalists. “We are confident that all the host cities are confirmed and there are no threats to any of them.” Last month, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke expressed concern that Manaus would not be ready in time. “For us, the Brazilian government and our partners at municipal and state level the World Cup is an historic opportunity to ferment national development and that involves establishing regional development throughout the country,” Fernandes said on Wednesday. “Manaus is in the heart of the Amazon jungle and that has added to the complexity of organising the World Cup there. It is not an area that has easy access as other cities do so it demands special attention because of the specific nature of the city. “But we are in continuous discussions with the state government in terms of guaranteeing that all essential investment in terms of having the World Cup there is in place.

“I don’t think it is correct to say it is behind schedule with respect to what is essential for the World Cup to be there but there are a number of special challenges. Boats have to get there because they are going to be used as accommodation during the World Cup. We have to discuss whether people will stay there for the games or stay in other regions and fly in for games. There is no obstacle in place that will threaten Manaus hosting matches in 2014.” Fernandes said the government were well aware that operations and management of Brazil’s airports needed to be improved before both the World Cup and next year’s Confederations Cup tournament which is taking place in six of the 12 World Cup venues. “What you are seeing today at the airports will not be the same as you will see for the tournaments. We have plans in place for match days, and match days minus one and plus one. We are confident the operations in the airports will be vastly improved.” While there is work still to be done at all the stadiums, the first to be finished, the 65,000-seater Arena Castelao in Forteleza will be inaugurated on Sunday with president Dilma Rousseff attending a concert by a local band. The first match will be played there on Jan. 27. —Reuters

Willstrop reaches world semi-finals the ugly way DOHA: World number one James Willstrop had to abandon his customary fluency and show that he is capable of winning ugly too as he reached the semi-finals of the world championships here yesterday. There were no fewer than 57 decisions amidst many collisions and disputes as the Englishman prevailed 117,11-7, 11-5 against the tenacious 15thseeded Spaniard Borja Golan. It earned Willstrop his fourth successive place in the last four, and the physical economy with which he has come through his three matches will have raised his hopes that at the age of 29 he may yet win the title for the first time. But the traffic problem around the

centre of the court and the difficulty that Golan felt he had in gaining access to the ball made it a demanding contest emotionally. “I’m delighted I have won, as one of the keys of winning, or of getting to the later stage, is to find a way of winning these ropey matches,” Willstrop said. “Yesterday (against Saurav Ghosal) was fluent, and the game was flowing, but today there was no flow at all. Probably people think I am a rhythmic player but I showed I can play when it’s scrappy.” Once Golan came out to the front of the spectator gallery and argued at length with the Egyptian referee Nasser Zahran, who ordered him to go back in to the court. —AFP

The winning Future Star Cricket Academy

U-18 Titans Cricket Club

FAIPS School team

Future Star sail into semi-final Kuwait Cricket’s U-18 School Cricket

KUWAIT: Titans skipper Solomon after scoring 80 runs was quite unlucky to find himself on the losing side as fancied Friends XI on a hard pitch and fast outfield claimed their third victory by prevailing over Titans in the Kuwait Cricket’s ongoing U-18 school cricket tournament sponsored by GULF FOUR. This tournament is being organized by Kuwait Cricket as part of Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) development program to encourage Junior & grass root level cricket in Kuwait. Titans XI put a spirited fight against their fancied opponents and went down by 32 runs. Batting first, Friends XI innings openers Zahid & Husnain cracked a scintillating 118 runs partnership as they vividly demonstrated their battings skills by some power packed boundaries & classical copy book shots. Zahid excelled in his drives and was consistently severe on anything pitched up to him while the heavily built Husnain produced some cracking pull shots to score 58 runs which had 3 sixes and 5 fours. Zahid remained unbeaten with 82 runs contained 9 scoring shots to the fence & two huge sixes as Friends XI score 204 for 4 in 20 overs. Tanveer, Harjot & Solomon took a wicket each for Titans. Chasing a mammoth total of 204, Titans XI put up a solid performance and openers Stalin & Umar brushed their talents against some hostile fast bowling by Friends XI bowlers to add 58 runs. Stalin scored a fine 36

runs but it was the tall & well built Solomon who took the fight to the Friends XI camp as he tamed the Friends XI attack to score a polished knock of 81 runs in just 47 balls with 14 well timed boundaries but none of the Titans batsmen applied the basic skills to score at the sort of rate normally required to win matches and the final score read as 172 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in 20 overs. Hamza & Zahid bowled well for Friends XI claiming 2 wicket each. Jagat Joshi, Head of Physical Education Department at FAIPS School presented the Player of the match award to Zahid for his all round performance. In a well contested match between two equally balanced team, Future Star Academy bounced back from a tight situation to win a decider and rightly claim a place in the semi final slot by overcoming a spirited challenge posted by FAIPS school team. FAIPS batting first started well as seasoned opening batsman Faizan Ali and Pradeep notched up 35 runs when Pradeep was caught at mid off for 15 runs. South paw, Faizan, easily the most stylish batsman in the current school cricket circuit adopted the technique of playing inside the line of the bowling and sweetly timed his strokes as the talented lad unleashed a vary of strokes all round the wicket. Temperamentally & technically the lad sounded perfect and a well timed hook shot his favorite one to the deep fine leg area was

a treat to watch. Middle order batsmen Pran (25 runs) and Faizan Saddique played sensibly well and played enterprising cricketing shots to help FAIPS to post a challenging score of 144 runs in 17 0vers for the loss of 5 wicket. Afroze & Mustaq claimed a wicket each for Future Star. Needing to win the game to qualify for the semi final stage Future Star skipper Zakharia Liaqat Ali along with Murshid opened the innings and soon Future Stars were in deep trouble as they lost Murshid for 6 runs. Ali Zaheer the talented all rounder joined Zakharia and as the duo seemed to settle, right arm off spinner Somadeep produced an excellent spell in which he first bowled Ali Zaheer round his legs with a beauty & then had Mustaq leg before wicket. On the other hand, calm & cool Zakaria followed his best shot, a fierce on-driven six and then danced down the pitch to clout another huge six to bring the morale of the team. Jibran the middle order batsman played an anchored knock to score 25 runs and Zakharia after scoring a polished 58 was LBW to Shagun which gave FAIPS a slight hope but the tall & lanky Tauqeer hit two sixes to seal the fate of FAIPS. Faizan Ali for this excellent knock of 73 runs and Zakharia Liaqat Ali for his match winning knock of 58 runs were both presented the Player of the match award during the prize distribution ceremony.




Storm clouds gather after Arsenal ‘humiliation’ LONDON: Arsenal’s League Cup loss to fourth-tier Bradford City was one of the lowest moments of Arsene Wenger’s tenure and leaves the club scrapping to avoid an eighth straight season without a trophy. In the aftermath of Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out loss at a wintry Valley Parade, Wenger was typically bullish, congratulating Bradford on their achievement and insisting he could not fault his players. That the upset occurred in the League Cup, and not the prestigious FA Cup, took some of the edge off of Arsenal’s disappointment, but the British press were unanimously scathing in their verdict. “Humiliating” was the adjective universally applied to the result on the back pages, while The Times claimed

Wenger was “walking on thin ice” after the latest setback in what has already been an extremely trying season. Wenger’s decision to field a strong lineup only increased the embarrassment. The Arsenal manager has habitually used the League Cup to blood youngteam graduates but he made just three changes to the side that beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Saturday, only for his senior players to let him down. The Bradford humiliation caps a miserable year for Arsenal, who lost top scorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the summer and have fallen as low as 10th in the Premier League this season. Wenger told shareholders at October’s stormy AGM that there are “five trophies” for Arsenal to aim for-the Premier League, the Champions

League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and Champions League qualification. Already out of the League Cup and 15 points behind United in the league, Arsenal do not seem sufficiently wellequipped to challenge for the Champions League either and once again face a battle to secure a top-four finish. Hopes of success in the FA Cup, meanwhile, rest on whether or not they can come through their third-round tie at Swansea City next month, having already lost at home to the Welsh side earlier this month. Scattered among Wednesday’s painful headlines were unwelcome reports that Theo Walcott may follow van Persie to Old Trafford after talks over a new contract reached an impasse. It would be another severe blow to

Wenger’s vision for the club, with van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Alex Song having already left the Emirates Stadium since the end of the 2010-11 campaign. The Arsenal manager, though, refuses to adapt his approach, despite desperate pleas from supporters to spend some of the £70 million ($113 million, 86 million euros) in available funds reported to be at his disposal on new players. “I always feel under pressure to deliver-always. And I always question: Can we be successful doing it this way?” he told the January edition of FourFourTwo magazine. “By managing the club within its own resources, by giving youth a chance, by developing a style of play that you think is right? “What has changed is the competition over the

past 16 years. It’s become bigger and better with clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City coming in. “But we haven’t changed the way we do things. Instead, we aim to do the same, but do it better.” Working in Wenger’s favour is his knack for engineering season-altering bursts of form in the second half of the campaign. Seven straight wins in February and March helped Arsenal secure third place last term, while they went 16 games unbeaten in the second half of the 2010-11 season and 21 games without losing in 2008-09. Arsenal’s next four games are all against teams in the bottom half of the table, and while Wenger refuses to be ruffled by recent setbacks, the headlines will not get any kinder without a drastic improvement. —AFP

Corinthians through to Club World Cup final TOYOTA: Brazilian giants Corinthians overcame Egypt’s Al Ahly 1-0 in the last four of the Club World Cup in Japan yesterday to set up a likely final against European champions Chelsea. A solitary goal from centre-for-

knock the ball around. However, they were unable to turn possession into chances and goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between during the opening period. Corinthians midfielder Douglas was the first to go close, the

The Sao Paulo club breathed a sigh of relief and regrouped, continuing to see most of the ball and on the half-hour mark they had their breakthrough, with Douglas again in the thick of the action. The left-footed player floated an

JAPAN: Corinthians’ Paolo Guerrero (front) and Al-Ahly SC’s Mohamed Naguib duel for the ball during the semifinal of the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament. —AP ward Paolo Guerrero was enough to see the Copa Libertadores winners progress, but it was nowhere near a convincing performance. Much had been expected from the South American champions, including Chelsea transfer target Paulinho, and the Brazilians dominated possession in the first half with Al Ahly happy to let their opponents

number ten’s shot from the edge of the box creeping past goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy’s right-hand post on nine minutes. Moments later Ramy Rabia missed a golden opportunity to put Al Ahly in front, heading wide from an unmarked position as the Corinthians’ defence stepped forward and failed to catch him offside.

inch-perfect cross into the box that Guerrero headed across goal into the bottom corner, giving Ekramy no chance and sending the upwards of 20,000 Corinthians fans into raptures. Corinthians pressed for a second as midfield dynamo Paulinho started to make inroads into the opposition half, but a second goal inside the first 45 minutes was not forthcoming.

In the second half it was all Al Ahly as the Egyptians surged forward, desperately looking for an equaliser. Midfielder Ahmed Fathi wasted the best chance for the seven-time African champions with a low shot into the side netting as the Corinthians defence started to look increasingly uncomfortable. As the clock ran down a spirited Al Ahly began to send the ball into the opposition’s box at every opportunity but they were unable to level the game. “I am frustrated that we lost. The players performed very well and I was hoping we could win,” Al Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry said. Corinthians boss Tite said he was “extremely satisfied” with his side’s first half performance, adding that he felt they deserved to win overall. “In the first half everything was dominated by Corinthians,” he said. “But we weren’t able to get the second goal so that encouraged Al Ahly. “The second half was a totally different game. They started to connect passes and became more aggressive... That was why we had a hard time. “But if you compare both halves you will understand why we were the winners.” The South American champions will probably face Chelsea in Sunday’s final in Yokohama, though the English Premier League club first need to dispose of Mexican side Monterrey in the other semi-final today. Earlier at Toyota Stadium, JLeague winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat the AFC Champions League holders Ulsan Hyundai 3-2 to secure fifth place at the intercontinental showpiece. The Japanese champions went 10 down, but bounced back to take a 3-1 lead, thanks to two goals from forward Hisato Sato, before conceding a late consolation goal. —AFP

10-man Roma beat Atalanta ROME: Roma beat Atalanta 3-0 in the fifth round of the Italian Cup on Tuesday, despite playing most of the second half with 10 men. The capital side will meet either Udinese or Fiorentina in the next round in January after a fifth consecutive victory in all competitions. Miralem Pjanic and Pablo

Osvaldo put Roma 2-0 up before the break following two howlers from Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli. Mattia Destro extended Roma’s lead shortly after the interval. Osvaldo swiftly went from hero to villain as he was shown a straight red card 10 minutes into the second period for an elbow on Atalanta defender Carlos Matheu.

“I’m happy with the result,” Roma coach Zdenek Zeman said. “At the beginning we tried to do what we know how to do. In the second half we gave them too much initiative, but what was important was to go through to the next round. “On every corner Osvaldo had a player on top of him and he want-

ITALY: AS Roma’s Miralem Pjanic (left) and Atalanta’s Carlos Carmona, of Chile, jump for the ball during an Italian Cup soccer match at the Rome Olympic stadium. —AP

ed to get free. But you shouldn’t act as if you were playing rugby, and to free yourself you have to be cunning. It’s difficult to decide what to do.” Roma and Atalanta fielded almost full-strength lineups, although Daniele De Rossi was handed a start for the first time in a month for the capital side. Destro had penalty appeal waved away in the 20th minute when he appeared to be bundled over by Cristiano Raimondi in the area. However, Roma was in front seconds later when Pjanic’s shot from the edge of the area - which looked like an easy attempt for the Italy under-21 goalkeeper to punch clear - stung Consigli’s palms on the way in. Roma doubled its lead 10 minutes later when Consigli mistimed his exit to gather Destro’s through ball and Osvaldo tapped it in. It extended its lead still further six minutes into the second half after Pjanic threaded through a delightful ball for Destro to sidefoot home. Atalanta was gifted a chance to get back into the game when Osvaldo was rightly sent off for swinging out an elbow after appearing to be being held by Matheu on a corner. But Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg pulled off a stunning diving save to keep out Facundo Parra’s header from a meter out and Atalanta had a penalty appeal dismissed seconds later when Ivan Piris appeared to handle following Giuseppe De Luca’s header. —AP

FRANCE: PSG’s forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden (left) and Valenciennes’ defender Nicolas Isimat challenge the ball during their French League One soccer match in Valenciennes. —AP

Ibrahimovic scores hat-trick as PSG win 4-0 PARIS: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hattrick as Paris-Saint Germain beat Valenciennes 4-0 in the French league on Tuesday. Ezequiel Lavezzi added a fourth with eight minutes to go for PSG, which also hit the post. Ibrahimovic has now taken his tally to 17 in the league since arriving from AC Milan in the offseason. The Sweden striker has equaled his third best record in an entire campaign with more than half the season remaining. It is PSG’s second 4-0 win in less than a week, after beating Evian by the same scoreline on Saturday. “I think what’s changed is the players’ mentality,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “They have started to play together, unselfishly, started to show character and to put their talents to the team’s disposal. “I think all that was the key. The players took on their responsibilities. They have changed their attitude on the pitch. They have to be careful to continue like this.” PSG is now provisionally two points behind Ligue 1 leader Lyon, which it meets on Sunday. Valenciennes is six points further back. Elsewhere, Nice beat nine-man Rennes 1-0. Dario Cvitanich scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after both Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik and Yassine Jebbour had been sent off. Ibrahimovic scored his first in the 28th minute. Jeremy Menez’s cross was punched clear by Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau, but only as far as Lavezzi, whose shot was deflected in by Ibrahimovic. PSG was hit by a setback just before halftime when Alex was forced off with an injury to his right

thigh. He was replaced by Mamadou Sakho. Ibrahimovic doubled his tally four minutes after the break. Valenciennes defender Rudy Mater’s clearance fell to Javier Pastore who unleashed a powerful volley which Penneteau could only push straight out to the feet of Ibrahimovic who was completely alone, six yards (meters) out. The Swede completed his hat-trick five minutes later. Lavezzi sent a great through ball in to Menez who slotted it across the area for Ibrahimovic to drive home. Ibrahimovic scored 17 league goals in a season for Inter Milan in 2007/08 but has only bettered that tally twice, in the following year at Inter when he scored 25 - and his final season at Milan - when he scored 28. Blaise Matuidi also hit the left post for PSG before Lavezzi extended its lead late, firing home Marco Verratti’s pass. Meanwhile, in Nice, matters started to go wrong for Rennes in the 53rd minute when Kana-Biyik was shown a second yellow card and sent off following a poor tackle on Cvitanich. Jebbour was also harshly sent off 10 minutes later for what was adjudged to have been a push on Nice striker Eric Bautheac in the area. Cvitanich fired the resulting penalty to the left of Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil for his 10th goal in his last 12 games. Lille got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Toulouse. Marko Basa headed Lille in front in the 55th minute and Dimitri Payet curled in a stunning strike late on. —AP

Giant-killers Bradford reinstated in FA Cup LONDON: Bradford City were given fresh reason to celebrate yesterday when they won an appeal against their expulsion from this season’s FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player. The fourth-tier club, who stunned Arsenal in the League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, were removed from the FA Cup because they did not receive written permission in time for Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good to play in their second-round tie with Brentford in November. However, the Football Association decided to allow them back into the competition on Wednesday after reviewing their case, although they did fine the League Two club.

Bradford’s match with Brentford ended in a 1-1 draw and the sides will now meet again in a replay at Brentford next Tuesday, with the winners to face Southend United in the third round. “We can confirm that on appeal the club has now been reinstated back into the FA Cup competition and has been fined for its actions,” read a statement from the club. “We deeply regret our breach of the rules and are currently reviewing our procedures to ensure no repeat of this situation.” Bradford beat Premier League giants Arsenal 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Valley Parade on Tuesday to book their place in the League Cup semi-finals. —AFP




England thrills, but racism casts a shadow

LONDON: English football enjoyed the most heart-stopping climax to a top-flight season ever in 2012, and yet a spate of racism cases drew a pall over the Premier League as the year came to a close. Injury-time goals by Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero on the season’s final day saw Manchester City pip Manchester United to the title on goal difference, ending their 44-year wait for the English crown in sensational fashion. Chelsea also toasted a golden year, beating League Cup winners Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup final and then edging Bayern Munich on penalties to become the first London club to taste glory in the Champions League. It was not enough to spare coach Roberto Di Matteo from the sack, however. The Italian was shown the exit in November with Chelsea tumbling towards the Champions League trapdoor alongside a City team who went out of the competition in the group phase for the second season running.

That left United and Arsenal as England’s only representatives in the last 16, sparking concerns that the nation is fading as a European force after providing eight of the competition’s last 16 finalists. As well as failing in Europe, City had fallen six points behind United in the league as Christmas approached, but nothing could erase memories of the unbridled joy that erupted at the Etihad Stadium on May 13. Roberto Mancini’s side, runners-up in 2011, needed only to match United’s result at Sunderland to claim the title but as stoppage time arrived, they trailed 2-1 to Queens Park Rangers and United were 1-0 up. Dzeko equalised, and with United’s players anxiously awaiting news on the Sunderland pitch, Aguero drove in a 94th-minute winner-drawing a memorable cry of “Aguerooooo!” from Sky Sports commentator Martin Tylerto deliver City from the huge shadow cast by their cross-town rivals. Mancini called it a “crazy finish to a crazy sea-

son,” while City captain Vincent Kompany observed: “Miracles do happen in Manchester. But on this side of the road, this time.” Another Italian coach was celebrating wildly six days later, Di Matteo screaming “I won it!” at Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich as he scaled the steps to receive the Champions League trophy at Munich’s Allianz Arena. Didier Drogba was the match-winner, heading in an 88th-minute equaliser to force extra time and then stroking home the decisive spot-kick, before leaving for China after a glorious eight-year spell at Stamford Bridge. Di Matteo, a temporary replacement for the sacked Andre Villas-Boas, was handed the job on a permanent basis but despite several high-profile signings, an alarming dip in form in the autumn cost him his job prematurely. The year provided many striking images-not least the sight of Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice

Muamba lying prone on the turf at White Hart Lane after suffering a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham Hotspur. Despite his heart stopping for 78 minutes, rapid action from the emergency services helped the 24-year-old to make a miraculous recovery, and although he was forced to retire, his story captivated the nation. Away from the on-pitch drama, 2012 was a year in which English football showed its dark side. The country’s footballers were compared unfavourably with the stars who shone at the London Olympics and the recurring accusations of racism that cropped up throughout the year did nothing to restore their reputation. Luis Suarez’s feud with Patrice Evra resurfaced in February when the Liverpool striker refused to shake hands with the player he had racially abused the previous October-an incident that had seen him suspended for eight games. Chelsea captain John Terry was also

banned, for four matches, after being accused of a similar offence towards QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Referee Mark Clattenburg, meanwhile, was cleared over allegations he abused Chelsea’s Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel after the Football Association declared he had “no case to answer”. It was not confined to the pitch, either, with each weekend seeming to throw up a new story about a fan abusing a player on Twitter or performing monkey gestures in the crowd. Stripped of the England captaincy over the Ferdinand affair, Terry retired from international football. Fabio Capello subsequently resigned as national coach, but his successor, Roy Hodgson, led England to a creditable quarter-final showing at Euro 2012. The Premier League trumpeted the arrival of a colossal new domestic television deal worth £3.018 billion ($4.832 billion, 3.749 billion euros) in June, but more scandals could tarnish its appeal in 2013.—AFP

Only 1 athlete of the year in 2012, Messi

Ryan Lochte

Eight Olympic champs at short course worlds

ISTANBUL: The world short course swimming championships start late yesterday in Istanbul, four months after the London Olympics but with notable absentees, including megastar Michael Phelps and teenage sensation Missy Franklin. Phelps was never going to figure after taking his bow from the sport with 22 Olympic medals to his name, while 17year-old Franklin-who won four golds and bagged two world records in London-declined to take part. Also missing is 100m freestyle champion Nathan Adrian, who has an injured finger. Instead, the competition will feature eight Olympic champions, among them Ryan Lochte, the four-time Olympic champion and individual medley specialist, who will take part in his third competitive event since leaving the British capital. His US compatriot Allison Schmitt will also be present. In London, the 22-yearold won five medals, three of them gold, and will be on the starting blocks for her favoured event, the 200m freestyle. Olympic 100m backstroke gold

medallist Matt Grevers is out for his first world title in the distance, even though the event in Turkey will be his first outing in short-course racing for six years. China, second on the overall medal table behind the United States, are looking to 16-year-old Ye Shiwen to carry their hopes after she won the 200m and 400m individual medley, setting a new world record-and raising eyebrows in the longer event. France, traditionally strong in shortcourse swimming, is sending a smaller team of just nine swimmers just three weeks after its national championships. Heading the list is Florent Manaudou, who was a major surprise at the London Games after he took the 50m freestyle crown. Australia are looking to bounce back after a disappointing Olympics that left them without an individual gold medallist for the first time since 1976 and look to be building for the future by sending a young team. Germany will be led by star couple Britta Steffen and Paul Biedermann, while Federica Pellegrini and Filippo Magnini will head the Italy team.—AFP

Stakeholders fail to agree reform of European game

LONDON: The latest attempt to reform the structure of European club rugby ended in stalemate yesterday, with the various stakeholders unable to agree on a new format for the Heineken Cup. Four meetings have now been held since English and French clubs gave notice in June that they would not sign up to compete after 2014 unless changes were made. The English and French clubs favour trimming the Heineken Cup, the continent’s leading club competition, to 20 teams from 24. They also want to limit the number of qualifiers from the RaboDirect Pro12 competition, a league which features teams from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy. Jean-Pierre Lux, chairman of tournament organiser European Rugby Cup (ERC), indicated a growing sense of frustration after talks involving representatives from leagues and national rugby

federations. “After four meetings, it is extremely disappointing for all involved that we have not yet made sufficient progress towards a new Accord,” said Lux in a statement. “Everyone around the table remains committed to making European club rugby stronger and we are confident a solution will be found,” he added. The ERC board will meet on Feb. 6 to review the situation but no date has been set for another stakeholder meeting. British pay TV operators BSkyB and BT are caught up in the dispute. BSkyB has agreed a four-year deal with the ERC to screen European club competitions from 2014, but rival BT has a separate agreement to broadcast matches involving English clubs competing in Europe. Adding to the commercial complications, brewer Heineken’s sponsorship agreement expires at the end of the current season.—Reuters

PARIS: ‘Tis the season for making merry and for choosing our top sports men and women of the year, two distinctly separate annual rituals that in fact dovetail neatly, because part of the joy and merriment of following sports is debating who is best at them. This being an Olympic year, we were spoiled for choice in 2012. Oscar Pistorius is a tempting candidate for most admirable sports person of the year, because of the Olympic history he made on his prosthetic legs. Click, click, click they went on the Olympic track, dismantling with a bang, bang, bang so many notions of what is and isn’t humanly possible. A fair play award should go to German footballer Miroslav Klose, for having the honesty to admit to the referee that his goal for Lazio against Napoli in September should not count because he knocked it in with his hand. Lance Armstrong would not have been stripped in 2012 of his Tour de France victories if, like Klose, he had resisted the temptation to cheat. Sports Illustrated went for LeBron James as its Sportsman of the Year, a safe choice because it was also the obvious one. James could not have had a more successful 2012 on a basketball court, winning the NBA championship with the Miami Heat, the NBA’s most valued player awards and Olympic gold in London with the US team. Olympic champion 20-kilometer race walker Chen Ding picked up an athlete award in his native China. The governing body of track and field gave its annual gongs to sprinters Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix. David Rudisha would have been an equally fine choice for the IAAF because the Kenyan runner was so impressive, as fluid and as powerful as the sea in a storm but controlled, too, when he won the Olympic 800 meters in world record time at the London Games. But in any language and across all disciplines, for me the sports person of 2012 should be Lionel Messi. For pure athleticism, a muscular colossus like Bolt is

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi always going to stand taller than wins the World Cup in 2014. “the flea” - the nickname given by In football, there is an argusome to the 5-foot-5 (169-cen- ment to be made that Cristiano timeter) footballer for Barcelona. Ronaldo should be elected player Bolt is right: becoming the first of the year in 2012 - because of sprinter this August to win both the importance of his goals and the 100 and 200 meters at con- play in helping Real Madrid secutive Olympic Games made become champion of Spain, endthe Jamaican legendary. Another ing the three-year lock Messi’s legend, swimmer Michael Phelps, Barcelona had on that title. also deserves a mention in any Football governing body FIFA athlete of the year debate, hands out the Ballon d’Or award because 2012 was when the on Jan. 7. Messi? Ronaldo? In American became the most deco- truth, the margin between them rated Olympian ever. in terms of success on the field is Because of his chosen sport, wafer-thin this year. Messi will never get remotely But if you’re a believer that close to Phelps’ career haul of 18 professional sport is essentially a Olympic golds - twice as many as form of entertainment, then anyone else - and 22 medals. Messi was unbeatable in 2012. He Where Messi and Phelps do com- is the sports equivalent of The pare is longevity: Phelps won his Beatles, Michael Jackson, Steven medals over eight years at three Spielberg or George Clooney - in Olympic Games; Messi made his the sense that, like them, so competitive debut for Barcelona’s much of what Messi does is a hit. first team in 2004, the same year He seems so rarely, if ever, to Phelps got his first Olympic have a bad game. Even when medal, and has excelled ever Barcelona loses, and it lost some since. big matches in 2012 with him The consistent brilliance of playing, Messi still shines. The Messi’s play again this year is speed of his play, his agility, his strengthening the argument that passes, the way he draws defendhe should be considered above ers and opens up gaps that teamPele and Diego Maradona as the mates exploit, makes the team best ever footballer. Messi will visibly better. Proof of his quality win that debate if, like them, he as an entertainer is Messi’s new

world record, for goals scored in a single year. His 86 goals in 66 matches for Barcelona and Argentina works out at an average of more than a goal per game and surpassed the 40-year mark of Gerd Mueller, who got 85 goals in 60 matches for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972. In some games, of course, Messi scored more than once, in others none. But, essentially, if you tuned in or bought a ticket to watch Messi in 2012, you were pretty much guaranteed a good time. When opponents hack him down, Messi gets up again, no fuss. When he sets footballing milestones, he reminds everyone that he wouldn’t be so successful without teammates passing him the ball. Watching Messi dart here and there on the pitch never gets tiring. You never want to yell at your television when Messi is playing or talking. We expect a lot from our sports icons, often too much. But perhaps most of all we want the time that we spend with them the 90 minutes of a match, the evening in a stadium - to be diverting and to make us feel good. With Messi, in 2012, it always did.—AP

Milan to offload youngsters

Massimiliano Allegri

MILAN: Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has indicated the club could offload some of its lesser-used younger players over the next few weeks so that they can gain much-needed first-team experience elsewhere. A day before the Rossoneri host Reggina in an Italian Cup last 16 tie, Allegri said it was time Milan’s 32-man squad was trimmed. The coach, however, did not specify which players would go, indicating only that rarely-used French striker Mbaye Niang would remain at the club. “We have a squad of 32 players... and the board have agreed that some younger players will be leaving to gain experience and others will leave to get some first team football,” said Allegri. “Niang will stay certainly. “He can play as a central strik-

er, but he has his own characteristics: he’s good in front of goal and he learns very quickly. “He could come in handy for the second half of the season.” After starting the season in disastrous fashion following the loss of several key players in the summer, Milan have enjoyed a resurgence of late to climb up to seventh in Serie A, albeit 14 points behind leaders and defending champions Juventus. One youngster the club won’t be sidelining is 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy, who with 13 league goals tops the Serie A scoring charts. Allegri, however, put a shot across the precocious youngster’s bows. “Stephan is doing very well but he is still only 20 and has room for improvement in a lot of different areas of his game.”—AFP

Trading soccer for wickets in Nigeria cricket boom



Corinthians through to Club World Cup final


Only 1 athlete of the year in 2012, Messi

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LONDON: Arsenal’s Kouassi Gervais ‘Gervinho’ Yao (centre left) fails to score past Bradford City’s goal keeper Matt Duke during their English League Cup quarter final soccer match.—AP

Arsenal stunned in League Cup shoot-out LONDON: Arsenal suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in their history as League Two minnows Bradford City clinched a stunning triumph on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday. The Gunners have endured a traumatic campaign that included their worst start to a Premier League campaign in manager Arsene Wenger’s 16year reign, but this was a new low for a club now in the midst of a full-blown crisis. Not even Arsenal’s most ardent critic would have believed they could produce such a spineless display against a team from English football’s fourth tier. “They defended well and we all know what happened on the penalties. We had many, many chances and their keeper had a good game,” Wenger said. “Whenever you go out it’s not a good result for Arsenal. We lost on penalties to a team who played very well. I cannot fault the effort of my team, we gave everything for the 120 minutes and you have to give credit to Bradford. “It’s not a lack of quality. We’ll get over this, it’s part of our job. We’ll focus on the next game.”

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson added: “The lads were terrific, the discipline was first class against such a talented team like Arsenal. “The talk will be about the penalties but the overall performance was excellent. The way the lads stuck at the task was a credit to them.” After Bradford midfielder Garry Thompson took advantage of woeful Arsenal defending to volley home a free-kick at the far post in the 16th minute, Parkinson’s side must have expected to be tested to the limit by their illustrious opponents at Valley Parade. But instead a strong Arsenal team took until the 88th minute to equalise when Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen headed home from a Santi Cazorla cross. The Gunners were just as laboured in extra-time and they paid the price in the penalty shoot-out, which Bradford won 3-2 as Cazorla’s kick was saved by Matt Duke and Marouane Chamakh and Vermaelen both hit the post. Bradford’s ninth successive penalty shoot-out victory booked their first ever appearance in the League Cup semi-finals. In the night’s other quarter-final, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert enjoyed a memorable return to Norwich as his side romped

to a 4-1 win at Carrow Road. Lambert, who quit the Canaries to take charge at Villa in an acrimonious close-season move, received a mixed reception from the Norwich fans on his first visit back to the club he led from League One to the Premier League. But he could afford to ignore the jeers as two late goals from Andreas Weimann sealed victory for Villa after Brett Holman cancelled out Steve Morison’s opener for the hosts. Christian Benteke bagged Villa’s fourth goal in stoppage time as the visitors moved a step closer to a Wembley final - Lambert showed good spirit by shaking his former players hands at the end of the match. Swansea host Middlesbrough late yesterday in the third quarter-final, with Chelsea’s last eight trip to Leeds delayed until December 19 due to their particiption in the Club World Cup in Japan. Arsene Wenger appeared a man in denial after his hapless Arsenal side were knocked out of the League Cup by a fourth tier English club who avoided relegation to non-league soccer by only six points last season. English bookmakers reacted

with a far less charitable verdict, giving odds of 4/1 that Wenger will be the next Premier League manager to lose his job. William Hill quoted odds of 4/6 that Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, will not win another under Wenger. Wenger, who a decade ago used the League Cup as a proving ground for his seemingly unlimited pool of youthful talent, took advantage of playing their next league game on Monday to play eight of the team who beat West Bromwich Albion last Saturday. They still could not defeat a Yorkshire side who have tumbled down the divisions and his team’s glaring deficiencies will add to the fans’ frustrations and a growing belief that the Wenger model has finally broken. Wenger, in charge of the north London club for the past 16 years, possesses admirable but ultimately incompatible obsessions. A commitment to attacking football at all costs has made Arsenal irresistible at their best and always consistently entertaining. But flawed defence, particularly in the air, persist and the appointment of former defender Steve Bould as Wenger’s assistant appears to have

Valencia defeat Osasuna

Sunderland out of drop zone with Reading win Sunderland 3

Reading 0

LONDON: Sunderland moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 win over fellow Premier League strugglers Reading at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday to ease the pressure on manager Martin O’Neill. First-half goals by James McClean and Steven Fletcher and a late strike by Stephane Sessegnon secured the points as the experienced O’Neill celebrated a year in charge of the club. Sunderland have jumped to 15th with 16 points from 16 games while Reading are left languishing second from bottom on nine points and remain six points from the safety zone. “It was important for us to get the first goal. To get it so early on probably settles us down and gets the crowd with us,” a delighted O’Neill told Sky Sports. “We had to do something to raise spirits. That goal was very important. The second goal gives us that extra boost.” Reading manager Brian McDermott added: “It was a tough night for us. We have got

numerous problems injury wise. Giving away a goal in the first three minutes doesn’t help. “We’ve given away a couple of goals and you can’t do that in this division. We’ve got to dig in. We did it last season.” Sunderland had won only twice in 23 league matches going into the match - rearranged from August due to a waterlogged pitch - while Reading had suffered four straight defeats. Sunderland got off to the perfect start with a goal after three minutes with McClean firing home on the turn after Reading keeper Adam Federici had punched a corner to the edge of the area. Fletcher added a second with a delightful back heel after fullback Danny Rose crossed low for the Scotland striker who had missed the last two matches with an ankle injury. “(Fletcher) hasn’t done any training (since being injured), declared himself fit this morning and we’re delighted with his goal,” said O’Neill. “He has done exceptionally well.” Sessegnon wrapped up the victory in added time when he rounded Federici and tapped the ball into the net after expertly controlling a long ball and outmuscling Adrian Mariappa. Sunderland’s win means Wigan Athletic, who have 15 points, have slipped into the relegation zone while Queens Park Rangers, without a league win this season, are bottom with seven points.—Reuters

made no difference. Wenger also has a commendable commitment to balancing the books, spending less on buying players than the club makes on sales. However, the result has been a steady exodus of the club’s best performers, including Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, with Theo Walcott set to become the sixth first team regular to leave in less than two years. The 23-year-old England winger, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has rejected a new five-year deal with the club. Wenger still guided Arsenal to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 13th successive time this season but that is likely to be the summit of their ambitions in Europe. They lie seventh in the Premier League and face a third-round trip to Swansea City in the FA Cup. Swansea recently defeated Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates in the Premier League, a result which enraged sections of the Arsenal faithful. After Tuesday’s loss, not only the fans will be questioning the future of the man who has brought three Premier League titles to the club accompanied by a revolution in style.—Agencies

LONDON: Reading’s Adam Le Fonbre (left) vies for the ball with Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson (right) during their English Premier League soccer match at the Stadium of Light.—AP

MADRID: Valencia moved towards a place in the King’s Cup quarter-finals and a possible meeting with Real Madrid when Dani Parejo and substitute Roberto Soldado struck in a 2-0 win at Osasuna in their last 16, first leg on Tuesday. Parejo curled a free kick past goalkeeper Asier Riesgo two minutes after the break and Soldado scored in the fourth minute of added time to give the 2008 winners the upper hand ahead of next week’s second leg in Valencia. The victory at the Reyno de Navarra stadium in Pamplona made it two wins out of two for Valencia’s new coach Ernesto Valverde, both against Osasuna who they also beat 1-0 in La Liga at the same venue in his debut on Saturday. Valverde replaced Mauricio Pellegrino, sacked despite leading Valencia into the last 16 of the Champions League after they made an erratic start to their La Liga campaign. King’s Cup holders Barcelona play their last 16, first leg match at second-division Cordoba on Wednesday before 2011 winners Real Madrid visit Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid host city rivals Getafe. Barca’s World Player of the Year Lionel Messi is in the squad for the trip to Andalusia and if the Argentine plays he will have a chance to extend his record goals tally of 86 for a calendar year. Barca and Real are on course to meet in the last four while Sevilla face a possible semi-final with Atletico, who they beat in the 2010 final.—Reuters


IEA sees sluggish oil demand, good supply Page 23 EU hopeful can bridge bank supervision gulf Page 24


Muscat eyeing broader role for private sector

Putin orders end to ‘offshore-isation’ of economy

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VIENNA: Iraq’s Minister of Oil and President of the conference, Abdul-Kareem Luaibi Bahedh (center) reacts next to OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri (right) before the opening of the 162nd meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference yesterday. — AFP

Iraq-Saudi standoff over OPEC curbs, chief Cartel holds oil output steady, sticks to same leader VIENNA: A new rivalry at the top of the OPEC oil group has emerged, pitting up-and-coming Iraq against undisputed cartel heavyweight Saudi Arabia. Having overtaken Iran as OPEC’s second biggest producer, a rejuvenated Iraq is beginning to worry Riyadh. At yesterday’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries the opening salvos were fired in the struggle over who takes responsibility for cutting output if oil prices, now at a comfortable $108 a barrel, start falling. After 20 years of war, sanctions and civil strife that left its oil industry in disarray, Iraq is no mood to consider curtailing output just as it starts to take off. “Iraq will never cut production,” said Iraq’s OPEC Governor Falah Alamri. “Some countries that have increased their production in the last two years - they should do so. This is a sovereign issue, not an OPEC issue.” That was a clear reference to Saudi Arabia, which this summer lifted output to a 30-year high above 10 million barrels a day to prevent oil prices ballooning after Western sanctions on Iran halved its production. The view from Riyadh, said delegates at the meeting, is that Iraq should contribute to the next round of OPEC supply curbs. If Saudi pushed that line there would be “dark days ahead” warned a senior Iraqi official, saying Baghdad would not even consider output restraints until 2014. OPEC agreed to retain its 30-million barrel-a-day output target and meet next on May 31, but many market observers think supply restrictions may be needed sooner rather than later if producers want to prevent slow global growth sending prices tumbling. “Every additional barrel that Iraq produces

reinforces its confidence and its expectations that higher production is achievable - and it will negotiate on that basis,” said Raad Alkadiri of Washington consultancy PFC Energy. “Now OPEC is dealing with a much more confident Iraq and Baghdad is looking at regional politics and is less willing to compromise.” “Iraq is impervious to arguments. It says that it was subject to sanctions for so long that it has a free pass to rebuild its economy,” said Neil Atkinson, director of energy research at Datamonitor. Output from OPEC is already down sharply from the highs of the summer when the Saudi surge took the 12-member group to nearly 32 million bpd. Production in November was down to 30.8 million with Saudi easing to 9.5 million. But OPEC may need to ease further to balance the market in the first half of next year when, demand depressed by a stagnant economy, its own forecasts indicate the requirement for OPEC crude will come in at only 29.25 million bpd. “We’re concerned by the drop in demand and the high level of stocks,” said Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi. “There is rising oil from places like the United States and Iraqi output is rising quite sharply. There’s a risk that we see a sharp drop in price next year,” said Atkinson. The world’s fastest growing crude exporter, Iraq expects more gains next year as foreign companies push production towards the highest level ever, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi told reporters on Sunday ahead of the Vienna meeting. Output began to rise in earnest in 2010 after Baghdad secured service contracts with companies such as BP, Eni, Exxon Mobil

and Royal Dutch Shell Flows have now reached 3.4 million bpd - up nearly a million bpd from when companies got down to work three years ago. Luaibi said output in 2013 is expected to average 3.7 million bpd - just shy of an all-time high of 3.8 million, hit in 1979 with exports running at 2.9 million bpd, including 250,000 bpd contributed by the semi-autonomous northern Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The changing shape of Middle East politics after the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the 2011 Arab Spring plays into OPEC dynamics. “Political issues sit behind this rivalry,” said PFC’s Alkadiri. “Regional alliances are pitting Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran against each other.” That was illustrated at yesterday’s meeting by a quarrel over the appointment of OPEC’s next secretary-general, the group’s public face and head of its Vienna headquarters. Iran dropped its nomination to back Iraq’s candidate against Saudi Arabia but neither Riyadh or Baghdad would give way and Libya’s Abdullah Al-Badri was reappointed for another year. Adding to the heat is the dramatic rise in oil output from the United States, spurred by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale reserves. The US Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday that US output will increase 760,000 bpd in 2012, the fastest pace since commercial oil production began in 1859. “It is obviously something we are looking at very carefully because it is increasing and we expect it will have a major impact on OPEC producing countries,” said Nigerian Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Bollywood ‘star wives’ mean business NEW DELHI: Bollywood wives were once expected to stay loyal, discreet and out of sight, but today they forge influential careers as businesswomen, designers and producers as India embraces celebrity culture. They appear on magazine covers, present television shows, advertise everything from soap to sofas and increasingly head their own budding moneymaking empires, claiming their share of the spotlight. The list of “star wives” in the Mumbai-based film industry is headed by superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s wife Gauri Khan, a successful film producer and now an independent entrepreneur who is regarded as a pioneer of the redefined role. Co-founding the Red Chillies Entertainment production company in 2002 with her husband, she has produced eight films to date, including major blockbusters such as last year’s science fiction hit Ra.One. Khan, 42, has since branched out into interior design, launching her own line of furniture in April in collaboration with another Bollywood wife, Sussanne Roshan, who is married to heartthrob actor Hrithik Roshan. Roshan, 37, set up an imposing interior design store in Mumbai called The Charcoal Project two years ago. She admits that she had little interest in working when she got married 12 years ago, but then discovered that she had a taste for competition. “When I got pregnant, it just gave me a certain clarity about what I wanted to achieve with my life,” Roshan told AFP. More recently, in a move echoing

American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, she launched The Home Label, an interior decor website selling products endorsed by her. Adhuna Akhtar, who is married to actor-director Farhan Akhtar, is another high-profile Bollywood wife, working as one of the country’s leading hairstylists. Her success led to her starring in a makeover reality television show earlier this year in which she offered free haircuts and styling advice to young women. The

44-year-old Akhtar now has 17 high-profile salons scattered across India with plans to open in Dubai. The first ladies of Bollywood weren’t always such a staple of Indian popular culture. As recently as ten years ago, few film fans paid them much heed, according to Mumbai novelist and commentator Shobhaa De. “For decades Bollywood’s star wives were kept in virtual purdah and allowed out for an airing occasionally...

MUMBAI: This photo taken on Nov 27, 2012 shows Indian members of staff working inside a display area of the Charcoal Project store. — AFP

generally at funerals,” De told AFP. At the time, they were largely perceived as housewives who suffered in silence behind closed doors while rumours flew about their husbands’ alleged affairs with glamorous co-stars. Since then, a younger, assertive and ambitious generation of Bollywood wives has emerged. Sujata Assomull Sippy, a former editor of Harper’s Bazaar India who put Sussanne Roshan on the magazine’s cover, said the trend was “part of a wider female empowerment story in India”, as increasing numbers of women join the labour force. “When Sussanne married Hrithik Roshan she was just a pretty girl, but the minute she opened her store, her profile shot up. Women want to emulate her because she works,” she told AFP. “You can’t become a Bollywood star at 40, but you can turn a passion for interiors or fashion or whatever into a business, into a career, even after you have had kids. And women are drawn to that when they see Sussanne,” she said. According to a Gallup poll released last month, only 25 percent of Indian women participate in the labour force compared with 80 percent of Indian men. Analysts expect that figure to grow as India’s economy expands, creating job opportunities that can be accessed by larger numbers of women. Those occupying high-profile senior positions in the corporate sector include Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of biotech giant Biocon, Chanda Kochhar, managing director of ICICI Bank and Shikha Sharma, managing director of Axis Bank.—AFP

After years outside OPEC’s quota system because of low output, Iraq was brought into the fold a year ago when it set the 30 million bpd target for all 12 producers. But unlike previous OPEC deals no individual quotas were assigned. That suited Saudi Arabia, leaving it free to balance the markets by using its spare capacity as it saw fit. But in the event of a build in inventories that hits prices, OPEC may need to restore quotas if it is to enforce a credible production cut. That is likely to prove very difficult, not just because of Iraq but because Iran is very unlikely to accept a quota anywhere near its sanctions-constrained production. Venezuela too could resist a lower quota after disputing independent estimates of its output for years. “Quotas would become a big issue if we see a price drop and then everyone would have to come to the table,” said Datamonitor’s Atkinson. “That would cause enormous problems for Iran and Venezuela.” OPEC can only hope that a difficult decision is postponed by a continued stand-off between Western powers and Iran over Iran’s nuclear programme, and the threat of Israeli military action, keeping oil prices high. That could mean a repeat of 2012, with oil prices supported in 2013 for fear of an attack on Iran, even if demand is poor and market fundamentals weaken. “Lady luck has been a huge help for OPEC because the macro numbers do not add up to 2012 being a successful year,” said oil brokers PVM. “She has come in the form of geopolitical tensions and supply uncertainties which have kept speculative interest in oil lively and stimulated stock building.” — Reuters

Qtel to raise $1bn from bond sale DUBAI: Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the majority state-owned telecoms operator, is looking to raise $1 billion from a ten-year bond, lead arrangers said yesterday, in its first bond market foray in more than two years. Final price guidance for the bond, maturing February 2023, has been set at a spread of between 175 - 180 basis points over US Treasuries, a document released by lead arrangers showed, and the bond will price within this range. Guidance tightened from indications earlier in the day due to strong demand for the bond. Order books were north of $11 billion at 1000 GMT, according to IFR Markets, a Thomson Reuters unit. Top Gulf corporates are taking advantage of tightening spreads by raising money from the bond markets to meet their expansion and refinancing needs. The former monopoly, rated A by Standard & Poor’s, which last tapped global debt markets for $2.75 billion in the fourth-quarter of 2010, is expected to price the bond yesterday. Yields on its existing bonds have fallen significantly, reducing Qtel’s borrowing costs. Qtel has been raising stakes in its subsidiaries, taking advantage of the gas-rich Gulf state’s healthy financial position at a time when other large telecom firms are shying away from deals. It increased its stake in Iraqi telco Asiacell and Kuwaiti affiliate Wataniya this year. Qtel also hired J P Morgan Chase to advise it on a potential bid for Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom, sources told Reuters earlier in December. Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, Mizuho Securities, Morgan Stanley Inc and QNB Capital as lead arrangers and bookrunners for the deal. — Reuters



China’s accelerating overseas buys raise fears SHANGHAI: China’s biggest overseas takeover, the $15 billion purchase of Canada’s Nexen, is a huge step in Beijing’s push for foreign acquisitions - but its drive to secure resources and markets is causing unease. Ottawa last week approved Chinese state-owned energy giant CNOOC’s purchase of the oil and gas company, despite political opposition in Canada. The victory is particularly sweet for CNOOC after it was forced to withdraw its bid for another North American firm, US oil and gas producer Unocal, seven years ago following an outcry in Washington. For the Chinese government, the deal is an affirmation of its decade-old drive to encourage companies to go abroad to build international players and secure supplies of energy and raw materials to keep the economy humming. “It’s a milestone to show Chinese companies are getting more sophisticated when it comes to overseas acquisitions,” said Edward Tse, chairman for Greater China for management consulting firm Booz & Company. “This case will help the Chinese go to other countries, in particular developed countries.” Chinese firms have become more active in mergers and acquisitions since the global financial crisis that began in 2008, as economic distress has thrown up

bargains around the world. Between 2005 and 2011, the number of China’s overseas acquisitions tripled to 177 and jumped five-fold by value to $63 billion, according to law firm Squire Sanders and intelligence service Mergermarket. Another major deal came yesterday, when global mining giant BHP Billiton said PetroChina, China’s largest listed oil producer by value, would buy its stake in the Browse liquefied natural gas project in Australia for US$1.63 billion. But Chinese state media used the Nexen success to blast unspecified “Western powers” for alleged unfairness and protectionism. “Chinese investors have been discredited by some Western governments and media as a group of cash-rich predators and spies,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary. “Western powers that harbour Chinainvestment phobias should first drop their prejudice towards Chinese companies and let their entrepreneurs, not politicians, decide the business deals.” A US congressional committee said in October that Chinese telecom manufacturers Huawei and ZTE should be excluded from government contracts because their equipment could be used to spy. CNOOC offered a premium for Calgarybased Nexen, pledged to keep manage-

ment in place and vowed transparency helped by a possible listing on the Toronto stock exchange - to smooth the way for the acquisition. Fei Kwok, a partner for law firm Norton Rose in Shanghai, said the deal could offer psychological support to other Chinese companies planning to invest abroad in the footsteps of the state giant. “It does help psychologically for some of the smaller-sized Chinese companies, primarily in relation to private Chinese companies, who are waiting for the result of this CNOOCNexen deal,” she said. But academics said more was at work than commerce, as China seeks growing stature and competes with other countries for resources. “It’s tied to the Communist Party’s national objectives, which increasingly include projecting economic power abroad,” said Joshua Eisenman, senior fellow for China studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. “Chinese state-run companies have been expanding throughout the developing world and there’s been push back in many places,” said Eisenman, co-author of “China and Africa: A Century of Engagement”. In Myanmar, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will lead a probe into a crackdown on a protest against a Chinesebacked copper mine which will also assess

the future of the contested project. And in copper-rich Zambia, Chinese companies active in the mining sector have seen riots over wage disputes but deny accusations of labour rights violations. Australia has seen intense internal debate over whether

to allow Beijing’s state entities to increase their control over its resources, while earlier this year a Chinese company agreed to buy a bankrupt dairy farm group in New Zealand, where critics labelled it a “land grab”. — AFP

HONG KONG: A residential building is seen during sunset yesterday. The International Monetary Fund warned that Hong Kong could see an abrupt fall in property prices after years of dramatic increases in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets. — AFP

Muscat eyeing broader role for private sector Move aims to create jobs, diversify from oil

JAMMU: Indian labourers warm themselves around a bonfire in a rice paddy field during a cold morning yesterday. The global rice trade is expected to decline by one million tonnes to 34.2 million tonnes in 2012, largely as a result of reduced import demand from Asian countries, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said. — AFP

India industrial output rises a surprising 8.2% NEW DELHI: India’s industrial output grew by 8.2 percent year-on-year in October, the fastest rate in 16 months, official data showed yesterday in the first strong sign the worst may be over for the economy. The industrial output of Asia’s third-largest economy marked a sharp improvement from a revised contraction of 0.7 percent in September and far outpaced market expectations of a five percent rise. “We think the lowest point is behind us - we do see a mild, gradual recovery taking shape,” Shubhada Rao, chief economist at India’s Yes Bank, told AFP. Manufacturing climbed 9.6 percent from a year earlier while capital goods production - output of factory machinery and other equipment surged 7.5 percent, reflecting anticipated stronger future demand. The overall 8.2 percent rise in output from factories, mines and utilities was inflated by a weak base effect from a year earlier. It got an extra boost from the religious festival season when buying is considered auspicious, economists said. However Credit Suisse economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde said “the economy has bottomed and is beginning to strengthen” although there would be bumps on the way. Output accelerated at its quickest pace since June 2011 and shows the economy is “on the mend”, he said. The figures represented the best economic news in months for the scandal-

scarred government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is keen to revive the economy with his Congress-led administration facing elections in 2014. The once-booming economy has been hit by continuing high interest rates in the face of stubbornly strong inflation now running at 7.45 percent, falling exports and slow investment. Economic growth has been stuck at three-year lows with India posting expansion of 5.3 percent in the quarter to September. Finance Minister P Chidambaram called the output figures “encouraging” and said he would press ahead with more economic reforms, including imminent legislation to liberalise the mainly state-run banking sector. With India striving to avert a ratings agency downgrade of its sovereign debt to junk status, Singh announced a string of reforms in September, opening up retail and other sectors to more foreign investment to drive the economy. He has vowed more reform even though the recent blitz has cost the government its parliamentary majority with the exit of a key ally, and stirred huge opposition from lawmakers. “It will take some time for the new structural and regulatory reforms to filter through into investment and economic growth, meaning near-term industrial and economic momentum will remain tepid,” cautioned Jyoti Narasimhan, economist at research house IHS Global Insight.—AFP

DUBAI: When Oman unveiled a plan this year to build a large petrochemical complex alongside a $6 billion refinery in the southern coastal town of Duqm, officials hailed the project as a step towards diversifying income and creating jobs. Promoting new industries and expanding downstream oil operations such as petrochemicals have been a cornerstone of the Gulf Arab state’s aim to cut its $73 billion economy’s reliance on crude oil exports and create jobs to combat unemployment, which the IMF puts at over 24 percent. The government of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman’s ruler for 42 years, earmarked Duqm as the next industrial growth city with investments of up to $15 billion planned in new petrochemical and infrastructure projects at the port over the next 10 years. Among other projects, Oman hopes to boost growth and employment with a 1,000 km, $13 billion railway. It is also investing heavily in airport and port operations in the southern city of Salalah near the border with Yemen. It is all part of a plan to give the private sector a bigger role in the economy as oil production, which accounts for 77 percent of government revenues and half of economic output in non-OPEC Oman, l oo ks to be nearing a peak. Oman has faced sporadic street protests over a lack of work and perceived corruption since early 2011 and faces political uncertainty as Sultan Qaboos, 72, has not revealed his successor, a cause for concern when much of the Arab world is in turmoil. Adding pressure on the economy, and employment, is a drop in natural gas production after a decade-long boom. That has created a shortage of gas supply in the country that Oman quickly needs to correct, with much depending on whether British oil company BP will go ahead with a costly gas project in the country. “Gas and energy remain significant constraints on growth going forward, although there are promising signs that new fields may be coming on line in the near future,” said Farouk Soussa, Citigroup’s chief economist for the region. He estimated that energy shortages could reduce economic growth by 2-3 percent a year over the next decade based on a similar experience in other countries. After nearly doubling in 2001-2010 and feeding economic expansion, gas output in Oman fell 2.2 percent to 26.5 billion cu m (bcm) in 2011, the first annual drop in a decade, BP’s world energy

review from June shows. Gas consumption in Oman meanwhile soared by 180 percent to 17.5 bcm in the decade to 2010, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), due to fast economic growth which averaged 5.8 percent annually in 2001-2011. As a result, Oman has insufficient fuel to meet power demand in summer when air conditioning use soars as temperatures frequently top 40 degrees Celsius. The government is pinning its hopes on a $15 billion tight gas project being developed by BP, which could unlock some 2.8 trillion cu m of reserves. The project will be costly however as tight gas is more difficult to extract than gas from conventional fields because it is trapped in rocks and tightly compacted sand and requires new technologies to flush it out. The government has demanded that if the project goes ahead the gas produced should be sold in Oman. It is in protracted talks with BP over how much it would pay the UK company for the gas. “The gas situation ... is really critically dependent on the BP project over the next few years,” said Robin Mills, head of Manaar Energy Consulting in Dubai. “It will at least meet the country’s needs and the gas situation will improve a bit, but still the gas situation will be quite tight,” he said. BP hopes to make a final investment decision on whether the project is commercially viable towards the end of 2013, its Chief Executive, Bob Dudley, s a id last month. Analysts say the project is the key question mark over Oman’s development over the next decade. “Without the (BP) gas, Oman is likely to need further imports,” said Hakim Darbouche, research fellow for a natural gas programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. The fall in gas production is hurting government revenues as liquefied natural gas plants are now running at roughly three quarters capacity. The government depends on gas for 10 percent of budget receipts and the International Monetary Fund forecast in October that Oman’s finances could slip into the red as soon as 2015, posting a budget deficit of 1.1 percent of gross domestic product with the gap deepening to 6.3 percent of GDP in 2017. The government has posted surpluses every year since 1998 with the exception of a deficit in 2009. A BP report estimates that Oman’s oil reserves will run out in 17 years’ time if it does not step up production from current levels, which would be costly. The

country’s challenging geology means gas is partly locked in rocks. It is used along with other methods to extract more oil from old fields - a process known as enhanced recovery. “We don’t feel that Oman is likely to increase its current (oil) production,” said a regional energy expert, who declined to be named. “Presently crude production has plateaued and we see gradual declines from 2014 onwards. They’ve already come close to maximizing what they are doing with enhanced oil recovery.” The rising cost of oil production is affecting crude output, Oil and Gas Minister Mohammad bin Hamad Al-Rumhy said in April. “Oil is not a lake that we can tap when we wish. On the contrary, there are a number of technical challenges that deter many international companies from investing,” he said. That pressures Oman, whose non-oil GDP surged 7.9 percent a year on average in 2001-2011, to diversify further into less energy and more labour intensive sectors such as tourism, and promote private sector jobs among its 2 million nationals. “The citizens have to understand that the private sector is the real source of employment in the long run,” Sultan Qaboos said in an annual speech to his advisory councils last month. “Hence they should not hesitate to join the private sector and must not desert their jobs therein,” he said. To appease protesters as the Arab Spring uprisings took hold in other parts of the Middle East, the government created 44,000 new public sector jobs in 2011. But Omanis like other Gulf nationals have not been keen to join the private sector, accounting for just 12 percent of 1.4 million private sector employees in September, government data shows, because the pay is lower and working hours are much longer than in government jobs. Nearly 157,000 new private sector jobs were filled by foreigners in January-September, a 14 percent jump from end-2011, while 1,500 Omanis left private sector jobs over the same period. Oman has been pushing hard to promote tourism , counting on its diverse landscape and rich traditions, but analysts say that may not be enough as the focus is on five-star resorts that generate far less jobs and economic benefits than mass tourism. The number of guests at four and five-star hotels jumped 21 percent in Jan-Aug from a year earlier to 400,200, according to government data. A Reuters poll forecasts Oman’s economy will grow 4.7 percent this year, down from an IMF estimate of 5.4 percent in 2011.—Reuters

EXCHANGE 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 Egyptian pounds US Dollar/KD GB Pound/KD Euro Swiss francs Canadian dollars Danish Kroner Swedish Kroner Australian dlr Hong Kong dlr Singapore dlr Japanese yen Indian Rs/KD Sri Lanka rupee Pakistan rupee Bangladesh taka UAE dirhams Bahraini dinars Jordanian dinar Saudi Riyal/KD Omani riyals Philippine Peso

.2750000 .4500000 .3630000 .2990000 .2830000 .2940000 .0040000 .0020000 .0762710 .7430830 .3880000 .0720000 .7284600 .0430000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2809500 .4526100 .3652910 .3015290 .2848960 .0489660 .0422720 .2957420 .0362500 .2300230 .0034000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0765220 .7455220 .0000000 .0749400 .7300250 .0000000

.2850000 .4610000 .3720000 .3110000 .2930000 .3030000 .0067500 .0035000 .0770370 .7505510 .4070000 .0770000 .7357820 .0510000 .2830500 .4559940 .3680220 .3037830 .2870250 .0493320 .0425880 .2979530 .0365210 .2317420 .0034260 .0052470 .0022040 .0029230 .0035160 .0770940 .7510950 .4003540 .0755000 .7354810 .0069560

Kuwait Bahrain Intl Exchange Co. Currency US Dollar Pak Rupees

Rate per 1000 (Tran) 282.300 2.910

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

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

5.215 2.205 3.458 6.940 76.965 75.435 750.500 45.924 459.600 2.990 1.550 371.400 292.200 3.265

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 281.700 369.400 456.250 288.050 3.430 5.196 45.775 2.187 3.460 6.875 2.902 750.300 76.750 75.200

UAE Exchange Centre WLL COUNTRY Australian Dollar Canadian Dollar Swiss Franc Euro US Dollar Sterling Pound Japanese Yen

SELL DRAFT 301.79 290.64 307.49 370.26 281.75 457.59 3.48

3.600 5.460 2.330 3.600 3.110 77.300 749.000 47.700 399.500 734.000 77.850 75.850

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

Al Mulla Exchange Currency 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

3.472 5.195 2.193 3.257 2.921 76.78 750.20 45.87 401.40 733.28 77.80 75.34

SELL CASH 301.000 290.000 307.000 369.500 283.000 458.500 3.690

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

Selling Rate 282.550 286.480 453.910 365.130 302.305 748.045 76.905 77.555 75.310 398.295 46.053 2.188 5.197 2.915 3.453 6.897 693.099 4.426 9.295 4.385 3.340 92.425

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

289.700 554.200 46.000 50.200 167.800 47.930 371.100 37.100 5.490 0.032 0.161 0.242 3.510 399.910 0.191 95.540 45.500 4.340 240.200 1.828 51.100 733.020 3.080 7.210 78.060 75.350 232.640 35.140 2.688 458.400 43.400 306.300 3.500 9.570 198.263 76.940 282.600 1.360 GOLD

10 Tola 1,819.300 COUNTRY Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka

SELL CASH 300.400 750.480 3.690

SELL DRAFT 298.900 750.480 3.456

Sterling Pound US Dollar

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 456.400 282.200


232.600 45.985 369.600 36.950 5.200 0.031

399.870 0.190 95.540 3.270 238.700

732.840 2.932 6.898 77.630 75.350 232.640 34.140 2.191 456.400 304.800 3.500 9.410 76.840 282.200


BUSINESS Weekly commodity update

Commodities lose momentum as fiscal cliff and dollar bite By Ole S Hansen, Saxo Bank he first week of December saw commodity markets lose some of the positive momentum witnessed in late November, not least due to on-going concerns about the US fiscal cliff as the Jan 1 deadline approaches. If left unresolved, the pressing budget issue it will lead to dramatic spending cuts and tax rises which could send the US and potentially the global economy back into recession. Europe, which has already entered into recession, is struggling to see much light at the end of the tunnel following the European Central Bank’s downgrade of its Eurozone growth forecast for 2013 to -0.3 percent. This downgrade raised the possibility of further near-term rate cuts from the ECB and helped send the EURUSD lower, thereby removing support for commodities priced in dollars.


Energy sector the worst performer The two major commodity indices both posted negative returns during the week resulting in their year-to-date performance continuing to hover around zero. Industrial metals have seen a strong recovery in recent weeks primarily helped by improved economic data from China, the world’s largest consumer. This now leaves the energy sector as the worst performing sector and it has primarily made an impact on the performance of the S&P GSC, with its almost 70 percent exposure to this sector. Precious metals are neck and neck with agriculture, with the latter driven almost solely bystrong performances of key crops, such as wheat, corn and soybeans. Soybeans recover from November sell-off Turning to the performances of individual commodities only a handful saw a positive return, especially soybeans as the price continues to recover from the November sell-off, during which period the net-long participation from money managers more than halved. Recently, the fundamental picture has shifted back towards being supportive on the prospect of a smaller crop in South America due to adverse weather. At the same time, the export of US soybeans, which has been picking up, is at risk of being hampered by low water levels on the Mississippi River, the main transportation route from the Mid-West to the Gulf of Mexico. Gasoline — worst energy performer The bottom four performers all relate to the energy sector with gasoline being the worst, following weekly inventory data which saw inventories jump by the most since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. The move lower has benefitted US motorists with the price of retail gasoline falling to the lowest level in five months. Once again, this shows how this paradigm shift in global energy supplies due to the increased output from advanced production methods in the US is having a profound impact on the competitiveness between regions and countries with US industry and consumers benefitting the most from low crude and gas. Precious metals led lower by silver The precious metal sector continues to experience some trading fatigue with gold and silver trading on the weak side all week, while palladium continues its monthlong rally on the back of expectations of an emerging structural deficit. Silver has been underperforming with the price of 1 oz. of gold rising to 51.8 oz. of silver compared with a recent low 50.6 oz. Gold traded below 1700 USD/oz. but found support as comments from the ECB President raised the likelihood of a Eurozone rate cut early in the New Year. The feeling, however, is that many traders, both through futures and especially Exchange Traded Funds may be tempted to refrain from adding to existing positions or even reduce exposure as the year closes - thus creating some headwind for gold and silver, which could last until late December. FOMC may add support Precious metals ran into some additional weakness Friday following the US jobs report for November which turned out to be stronger than expected with the jobless rate continuing to drop. This report is the last this year and as such the last indicator before the final US Federal Reserve meeting for 2012 on Dec 12. Due to this factor, expectations have increased for additional quantitative easing measures being announced at this meeting. Market talk at the moment points towards the expiring Operation Twist, by which the Fed sold short-term bonds to buy longer maturities, possibly being replaced fully or partly by a conventional bond-buying programme. Such an action would effectively increase the money-printing programme already seen from the third round of quantitative easing (QE3), which was launched back in September. If an announcement to this effect occurs it could bring back a much needed bid to gold and silver and should lend further support to the belief that gold still has good upside potential. Increased uncertainty and lower liquidity will make the next couple of weeks very tricky from a trading perspective. The main area of support can be found between 1672 and 1661 - the recent low and the 200-day moving average, while resistance is at two Fibonacci levels of 1711 and 1728. Crude oil lower on ample supplies and strong dollar Both crude oils (Brent and WTI) moved lower during the week although the improved US jobs report helped cushion the fall. Overall the stronger dollar removed support while additional selling pressure came from another weekly build in US energy inventories, especially gasoline which saw the strongest weekly rise since the 9/11 terrorist attack. Further selling was triggered by the ECB’s subdued outlook for growth in Europe, which pushed a return to growth further into the future. Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister once again expressed satisfaction about current prices ahead of the next OPEC meeting in Vienna on December 12. OPEC will undoubtedly have to significantly reduce its production which has been running at elevated levels for months amid signs that global supply is now beginning to outstrip demand, not least due to the continued sharp increase in US production which is now back up to levels not seen for almost 20 years. Though unlikely to occur at this meeting it is highly probable that such an announcement will come during early part 2013.This is causing a paradigm shift in oil markets with traditional producers risking the gradual loss of their influence. The increased amount of spare capacity will be good for all though as it will reduce oil price volatility and most likely prevent prices from moving much higher for the foreseeable future. Brent crude oil moved back below 108.50 during the week and could now settle into a lower range centred around 107 USD/barrel with the risk of end-of-year long liquidation from speculative traders once again weighing on prices.

IEA sees sluggish oil demand, good supply Iranian oil exports to fall further in 2013 LONDON: Global oil demand will be sluggish throughout 2013 as economic expansion remains tepid and oil supply levels comfortable, which could alleviate oil price pressures on consumers, the West’s energy agency said yesterday. “Global demand growth is expected to stay relatively sluggish through 2013, based on the continued assumption of tepid global economic expansion,” the International Energy Agency said in a monthly report. It forecast global oil demand growth for 2013 at 865,000 barrels per day, 110,000 bpd higher than in its previous report, taking consumption to an average of 90.5 million bpd. On the supply front, the IEA said spectacular growth in US production on the back of a boom in shale oil will be one of the top developments for the market in 2013. The United States will contribute around two thirds of an aggregate increase of 890,000 bpd in non-OPEC output in 2013, for a total of 54.2 million bpd, IEA said. “If confirmed, this would be the fourth-largest annual growth for non-OPEC supplies in the last decade. In fact, growth could exceed expectations in the U.S. if prices remain high and if producers of light tight oil are able to find economic transport options for their incremental barrels,” it said. The IEA also said its estimate of demand for OPEC oil was unchanged for 2013 at 29.9 million bpd, much lower than the group’s current production of 31.22 million in November. It said, however, that it did not expect OPEC ministers, who were meeting in Vienna on Wednesday, to decide on any production cuts but that they would probably roll over their current 30 million bpd target, given relatively robust oil prices. “Indeed, Brent futures prices are on track to surpass 2011 record levels this year, buoyed by heightened political risks in key producing countries, both in OPEC and non-OPEC countries,” it said. The IEA said it believed Iranian production had edged lower in November, down 20,000 bpd to 2.70 million bpd, and that preliminary shipping data indicated volumes may fall further in

December due to international sanctions. Shipments of Iranian crude, based on arrival data, fell to multi-year lows of 1.07 million bpd in September but recovered to 1.3 million in November as reduced oil buying from China and India was offset by a rise in purchases from Malaysia, Taiwan and the UAE, the IEA said. “Iranian crude exports are expected to turn lower next month and into the New Year - reaching a level closer to 1 million bpd - as EU and Asian countries reduce further their crude imports from Iran in order to secure continued access to the U.S. financial system,” it said. The IEA expected top global

ical structural changes including an apparent acceleration in the eastward shift of global oil demand growth. In the third quarter of 2012, European oil demand went through its steepest yearon-year contraction since the 20082009 financial crisis, while Asian oil demand remained robust. Oil demand by the European members of the OECD plummeted by 895,000 bpd in the quarter to 13.8 million bpd due to a combination of near-record product prices and a weak economy. “The last time European oil demand nosedived as it did this summer, international oil prices had been in freefall. Not

VIENNA: Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Rostam Ghasemi (center) talks with media before opening of the 162nd meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference yesterday. — AFP exporter Saudi Arabia to cut shipments in coming months due to increased demand for crude supplies at its domestic and international refinery operations. It said it believed Saudi Arabia’s output edged higher in November, by 100,000 bpd to 9.9 million, significantly higher than data given by Saudi Arabia to OPEC earlier this week showing output of 9.49 million. The IEA said that, although on the surface the oil market appeared calm, recent data showed rad-

only are crude prices holding up, but European consumer prices hovered near record highs this summer, buoyed in part by a weakening currency. This was likely part of the reason for the dip in demand,” the IEA said. It also noted that five of the world’s top 10 oil consumers were now non-OECD countries. While the United States still leads the top 10, Brazil, Russia, India, China and Saudi Arabia together took five of the next six spots, the IEA said. —- Reuters

Saudi dominance of oil market to fade by 2020 LONDON: Not since the early 1980s has Saudi Arabia seemed so powerful. But the kingdomís dominance of the oil market could prove fleeting, as policymakers grapple with multiple challenges that could slash export earnings by 2020. For now, Saudi Arabia is the unrivalled master of the oil market. The kingdom holds virtually all the worldís spare production capacity. Iran, its main rival within OPEC, has been sidelined by sanctions. Saudi output is at an all time high, while Iranís exports have halved. Saudi officials make a show of consulting with OPEC, but the kingdom is the undisputed swing producer, and all important production decisions are being made in Riyadh. Over the next five years, however, the kingdom will be confronted by multiple problems that seem likely to squeeze its share of the global oil market and put export revenues under severe pressure. Shale oil is emerging as a major rival to conventional producers. Saudi Arabia will also have to accommodate growing output from Iraq, the eventual normalisation of exports from Iran when the nuclear issue is resolved, and rising output from new oil fields in Latin America and Africa. The kingdom has still not managed to slow its growing combustion of oil and gas for domestic electricity production, which threatens to shrink the amount available for export.

VIENNA: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ibrahim Naimi speaks to journalists prior to the start of the meeting of OPEC at their headquarters yesterday. — AP And there has been no progress in diversifying the economy away from reliance on oil export revenues. The Saudi political and economic model depends on maintaining production at around 9-10 million barrels per day while keeping prices high. But the kingdom faces a growing threat from competing sources of supply that are economic at prices well below the current $110 per barrel and hungry to capture market share. Saudi Arabiaís giant conventional oil fields will ensure that it remains the biggest low-cost exporter. But it is likely to face an increasingly uncomfortable tradeoff between supporting prices and maintaining market share. Saudi Arabia has faced this problem before. Between 1981 and 1985, Saudi production fell almost two-thirds, from 10.3 million barrels per day to just 3.8 million, and its share of the global market dropped from 16 percent to 6 percent, as the kingdom tried to re-balance the market. Saudi Arabia was forced to cut its own production to accommodate rising supplies from the North Sea and North America, quota cheating by other members of OPEC, and falling demand following the second oil shock in 1979-81. ìHuge new (oil) developments were taking place outside

OPEC,î as chronicled by Daniel Yergin in ìThe Prizeî, his magisterial history of the oil market. ìThe major build up of production in Mexico, Alaska and the North Sea coincided with the turmoil of the second oil shock. Egypt was also becoming a significant exporter. So were Malaysia, Angola and China. Many other countries became producers and exporters, minor league in themselves but significant in the aggregate. Major innovations were also improving exploration, production and transportation technologies. Significant changes were also taking place in demand,î Yergin wrote. ìThe massive twentieth century march toward higher and higher dependence on oil within the total energy mix was reversed by higher prices, security considerations and government policies.î It all sounds very familiar. Over the last decade, the escalation in Brent prices from $20 in 2002 to more than $110 in 2012 has induced a similar response. Surging exploration and production activity is now translating into rising output outside OPEC and the Middle East, while determined conservation measures are cutting oil consumption across North America and Europe. Just as in the early 1980s, Saudi Arabia may struggle in the next few years to achieve an acceptable price, which officials put around $100 per barrel, for all the oil it wants to sell. The threat of too much rival oil and falling export revenues is a remarkable turnaround since the middle of the last decade, when oil analysts were worried about Saudi Arabiaís ability to keep pace with growing global demand, amid fears that global production was peaking. In his controversial monograph ìTwilight in the Desertî, energy consultant Matthew Simmons warned that Saudi Arabia would struggle to maintain let alone increase production as output from its ageing super-giant fields went into decline. Published in 2005 when fears about peak oil were at their height, and provocatively sub-titled ìthe coming Saudi oil shock and the world economy,î the book now feels rather dated as a result of the shale revolution. But it is a reminder that oil is a cyclical business in which supply shortages, price spikes and revenue booms have always been followed by a bust, with prices sinking low enough for long enough to force developers to abandon new projects. This time is unlikely to be any different. The massive rise in prices means Saudi Arabia will face intense competition from shale, conventional exploration off the coasts of Latin America and Africa, and even more hostile environments like the Barents Sea and the Arctic. If the price gap between oil and gas remains sufficiently wide, gas is also likely to grab increasing share of the transportation market, where compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and even gas-to-liquids (GTL) are all attractive alternatives with gas prices below $8 per million British thermal units and oil prices above $90. Compounding the problem, projected oil demand is now expected to grow much more slowly than a few years ago as a result of conservation measures. Conservation has so far mostly been limited to the advanced industrial economies, where the United States and the EU have both enacted tough new efficiency standards for vehicles. But as the United States, Europe and Japan reduce their oil-intensity, emerging markets like China will come under pressure to follow suit or develop their own domestic resources to avoid becoming uncompetitive. All these problems for Saudi Arabia (rival supplies, substitution, conservation and growing domestic oil and gas burning) are likely to materialise over the 2015-2020 timeframe. Saudi Arabiaís challenge will be to manage the price of oil down to the point at which the urgency goes out of energy conservation and some of these rival supply projects are cancelled. If the kingdom cannot manage the price down, the market will eventually adjust of its own accord, just as it did in the 1980s, which will be much more disruptive. Prices are unlikely to sink back to the levels prevailing in the 1990s (around $30 to $40 after adjusting for inflation). But price falls to $50, $60 or $70 are quite conceivable. —Reuters

Weekly commodity update

$100 oil isn’t solving talent shortage By James McCallum, CEO, Senergy ASA Engineers staring at unemployment found second careers in the energy industry after the Space Shuttle programme closed down this year, reminding those who are listening, not enough it would seem, that trying to extract oil and gas from thousands of feet under the ground in far remote hostile exotic environments is still a pretty cool pursuit. Unfortunately another year has passed with the industry failing to convey this dynamic message to young engineers that have only Google and .Com in their sights. Time is short, especially when you bear in mind that the historical source of petroleum engineers has been the West. Since the 1970s, 40 colleges in the United States, the world’s largest energy consumer, offered degrees in petroleum engineering. Today, you can count them on 1 hand. Not all is lost, especially with another year of $100+ oil, for the importance regarding the development of local national talent in countries rich in energy resources across the world, especially in the Middle East, started to get traction at the conference podiums as one of the key ways for the global industry to mitigate the pending talent crisis. The past year also consolidated the post credit-crisis investor posture that energy and commodities remain the space of choice by weary investors exhausted from the roller coaster of uncertainty surrounding the ever just around the corner economic recovery. That said, it has to be acknowledged this thesis did undergo a second-quarter siege as oil prices and many commodities appeared to be in free fall as China wobbled, propelling obituaries to be written declaring the end of the so-called supercycle. Never in the modern history of the global economy has the price of so many commodities - from oil, to metals, to agriculture - risen as much and stayed as high for so long. The price increase has come to be known as the commodities supercycle: a rare period of higher costs underpinned on the demand side by the industrialisation and urbanisation of emerging countries, notably China, and on the supply side by years of under investment during the 1980s and 1990s. The scale and duration of the commodities supercycle matters far beyond the day-to-day business of raw materials markets and trading. It directly affects many of the world’s largest basic industries, including mining companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, oil and gas groups including ExxonMobil and BP, and agribusiness companies including Deere & Co, the maker and distributor of agricultural, commercial and consumer equipment, and Cargill, as well as countries ranging from Saudi Arabia to Chile, which are dependent on natural resource output for their prosperity. Crude, food and gold came roaring back in the second half of the year to give the supercycle at least a stay of execution, but perhaps with not the same bullish confidence that may trigger many to reconsider the investment landscape in 2013 with Europe falling back into recession and the US looking over a fiscal cliff. Another year of $100+ oil has brought with it changes to the industry the scale of which we have not witnessed since in the wake of $10 oil in the late 1990s when a wave of M&A activity redefined the sector. In the last few years we appear to be witnessing a new transformation, less defined perhaps but equally as radical - Supermajors are slimming down; Independents are joining forces; Service companies are taking on IOC activities; trading firms are diversifying and building asset bases — 2013 may bring clarity to the destination and consequence of this new wave of transformation. Today many NOCs are increasingly acting like IOCs, expanding beyond their national boundaries and competing for assets overseas — the arrival of Statoil, China National Petroleum Corporation and Korea National Oil Corporation into the Gulf’s upstream energy sector are three good examples. For some NOCs the motive is commercial, while for others it’s all about security of future supply for their home countries. Meanwhile, some super-majors are operating more like super project managers. Back in the 1970s and 80s, IOCs controlled the identification, extraction and production of three quarters of global hydrocarbon reserves. Today, state-owned NOCs control roughly three quarters of the world’s reserves, leaving super majors on occasion to accept the role of glorified service providers. If you study many of the big energy concession deals signed these days, governments pay IOCs a fee to get oil and gas out of the ground, but the IOCs don’t own the assets and cannot book them on their balance sheets. Iraq’s recent contracts are a good example of this new framework, but the next 12 months may deliver the unraveling of this contract as ExxonMobil appears set to abandon the model. If NOCs are challenging the super-majors from above, service companies are encroaching into their space from below. To an extent, the IOCs only have themselves to blame for from the late-1980s to the late 1990s as oil prices fell to $10 a barrel, major operators downsized and outsourced much of their technical work to service companies such as Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes. In June this year Mexico’s Petroleos Mexicanos (ëPEMEX’), declared that Petrofac together with its partner Schlumberger were the selected bidder on the Panuco integrated production service contract in Mexico. The contract runs for 30 years, with field operations expected to start around the beginning of 2013. One of the other big themes to soar in the year of the multi-billion dollar election was that an energy independent America was possibly much closer than previously thought — the shale revolution entered the common vernacular. In 2000, shale gas represented just 1 percent of American natural gas supplies. Today, it is 30 percent and rising. The US now seems to possess a 100-year supply of natural gas, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. This cleaner, cheaper energy source is already replacing dirtier coal-fired plants. Chemical companies rely heavily on natural gas, and the abundance of this new source has induced companies like Dow Chemical to invest in the US rather than abroad. The French company Vallourec is building a $650 million plant in Youngstown, Ohio, to make steel tubes for the wells. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York will reap billions in additional revenue. Consumers also benefit. The lower US gas prices when compared with Europe is now driving a considerable manufacturing cost differential for high energy users. When the grumbles are coming from German manufacturers who are considered the last remaining bedrock of an unstable European economy, then we need to be concerned about long term erosion of demand. So incredibly, low energy prices, which are great for US manufacturing and consumers, could potentially drive a rift between the US and Europe in 2013, another problem the EU doesn’t need. † The European Union is going through its most profound crisis since its establishment more than 50 years ago. The dramatic economic downturn that most countries have experienced, coupled with a lack of agreement among politicians on how to reverse it, has given way to increasing social discontent, the rise of political extremism, and a general erosion of confidence among businesses and citizens in politicians and the European project as a whole. Despite the clouds of uncertainty, I am optimistic about 2013. It may yet be a year of two halves, but one thing is for sure it won’t be dull. Let’s all get out more and spread the word and maybe just maybe we will attract some of the brightest talent out there to join us oldies build an energy rich world that looks forward to both a stable†economic and political future for all.




Egypt rallies to 3-wk high MIDEAST MARKET REPORT DUBAI: Foreign buying lifted Egypt’s bourse to a three-week high yesterday, helping the index recover most of the losses sparked by President Mohamed Morsi’s decree last month that expanded his powers and triggered a political crisis. Cairo’s index jumped 2.8 percent to its highest close since Nov 22. Palm Hills Development surged 9.4 percent, the most active stock on the index. Talaat Mostafa Group followed, with a 6.4 percent gain. Citadel Capital climbed 6 percent. Arab and nonArab foreign investors were net buyers on the bourse, according to its website. Investors were little moved after Egypt’s finance minister said a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan, seen as a cornerstone of its economic recovery hopes, would be delayed until next month. “The delay of the IMF did not produce the impact that the crowd expected - this might be due to other factors that might be viewed as potentially positive, for example, the potential political easing that might occur if the army and opposition forces reach a good conclusion,” said Saleh Nasser, chief technical strategist at Pharos Holding. Shares in National Societe Generale Bank rallied 6.8 percent to 40 Egyptian pounds, back to levels before the regulator extended Qatar National Bank

(QNB) stake purchase in NSGB offer deadline to Feb 20. Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s index advanced 0.1 percent, up for a fifth session in last six. Banks supported with the sector’s index rising 0.4 percent. Al Rajhi Bank gained 0.4 percent, Samba Financial Group added 0.9 percent and SABB rose 1.3 percent. Kuwait’s bourse gained in strong trading value, up for a fourth straight session, as investors bet on stronger fourth-quarter earnings. The index climbed 0.2 percent. Large-caps were mixed. National Bank of Kuwait slipped 1 percent, National Mobile Telecom gained 0.9 percent and Ahli United Bank climbed 2.5 percent. The market traded KD 40 million ($142.02 million). “Some people believe there have been some leaks that Q4 will be positive for many companies so people are trying to rebuild positions in certain stocks and putting more money in,” said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House. National Portfolio Fund, the government’s investment tool to support the market, was an active participant on Wednesday, Darwish added. “If the opposition doesn’t do anything radical against the positive reformation of the government, the market is expected to hit 6,700 to 6,800 level before year-end,” Darwish said. —Reuters

EU hopeful can bridge bank supervision gulf Germany, France believe breakthrough possible

BRUSSELS: EU finance ministers expressed mounting confidence yesterday of nailing down a deal on a controversial single supervisory system for banks amid signs of an emerging French-German compromise. Key to taming the debt crisis and putting the bloc back on track, this first step in a hoped-for “banking union” agreed by European Union leaders in June could be followed by a formal accord at the last EU summit of the year starting today. EU leaders want to tighten supervision as a condition for the bloc’s bailout fund to be able to directly step in and recapitalise banks, instead of passing rescue funds through governments which adds to sovereign debt loads. Both Germany and France said as talks got under way that they believed a breakthrough was possible. “I think there is a good chance, that we finish that today,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on arrival. Even if details remained to be worked out, he added: “I am confident that we find a solution on the banking supervision in time for Christmas.” “The parameters of a deal are there, it’s within reach,” French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici also told AFP before joining the talks. He said that officials had “worked intensely these last few days to bring our position closer to that of Germany,” adding that “we have come together in a big way.” While German officials were unwilling to be drawn on the details of the compromise, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said that the European Central Bank would supervise all “systemically relevant” and statesupported banks in the EU. Other banks would continue to fall under the aegis of national supervisors

although the ECB would be given the power to intervene under certain conditions, the newspaper reported. “Everybody says it doesn’t make sense to pass that on to the heads of government and their meeting tomorrow,” said Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter, who said a deal could be done in “a couple of hours.” Holdout Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg also said he could back an agreement “if

The ECB is intended to be at the apex of the system, but its role and scope may still encounter practical restrictions especially when decisions impact on the global banking centre of London. Britain and others maintain the system needs ultimately to address problems lurking in regional German savings banks that could threaten the stability of the wider financial system. The single bank supervisor

BRUSSELS: Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos (left) speaks with Portugal’s Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar during a meeting of EU finance ministers yesterday. — AP

we have a good compromise on EBA rules,” referring to interlinkage between the ECB and the London-based European Banking Authority, set up last year to coordinate national watchdogs across the EU in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. This, Borg said, was a “prerequisite”. Whenever the final decision, the nuts and bolts of the new crossborder banking watchdog will still need parliamentary approval in key countries - like Germany.

system was supposed to have been largely in place already. About 6,000 eurozone banks would fall under its net, either directly or at arm’s length. There have also been concerns about voting rules, with the 10 non-euro countries concerned about the power of the 17-nation currency bloc when disputes arise. There are also concerns how to ensure a separation of powers within the ECB as regards the management of banking supervision and monetary policy. — AFP

Singapore Airlines to focus on Asia after Virgin divestment

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a state-of-the nation address yesterday. — AP

Putin denounces ‘offshore-isation’ of russia economy MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday denounced companies with offshore jurisdiction and ordered the government to end the “offshore-isation” of the Russian economy. “The offshore character of the Russian economy has become legend,” Putin said in his annual state of the nation address, the first since he was sworn in in May. “Nine out of 10 agreements made by big Russian companies, including companies with state capital, are not regulated by Russian laws.” “We need a whole system of measures to deoffshore-ise Russia’s economy,” he said, ordering the government to look into the issue. “We need to strive for transparency of the offshores, for making tax information open,” Putin said, adding that Russian laws should be made more friendly to businessmen. “The best way to make business patriotic is to provide effective guarantees of private property, making Russian jurisdiction attractive,” he said. Some of largest companies in Russia in key sectors of the economy are registered far beyond its borders in places like Cyprus, allowing them to keep much of what they would pay in taxes as profit. When metals giant Rusal made its documents public before attaining its Hong Kong listing in 2010, Russian media found out that its Jersey registration allows it to keep 90 percent of its profits. Putin’s former adviser Gleb Pavlovsky called the appeal for deoffshore-isation “purely political” and irrelevant to real problems faced by businesses in the country. “Offshores are a constant tune of the Russian authorities,” he said. “Obviously, the battle will be waged selectively, with businessmen that are a problem for the Kremlin,” he said. Putin also said the government must finalise a new tax on luxury, “including on luxury real estate and, though it may be difficult, on expensive cars”. “What we can do, and what is fair, is to additionally tax the so-called prestige, demonstrative consumption,” Putin said. The luxury tax has been discussed for years in Russia, where flat tax has long been seen as unfair to the vast majority of people with low incomes. However critics say that the richest of the rich do not spend their money in Russia, making their assets unreachable. Russia has been plagued by capital flight and foreign investors are put off by issues like the rule of law, corruption, and arbitrary justice, manifested for many by the jailing of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said yesterday that he expects capital flight in 2012 to amount to $65 billion. In 2011, the figure was $80.5. Russia places low on global rankings like the World Bank’s Doing Business report, where it ranked 112th of 185 countries this year. This month, it was listed 133nd on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, out of 176 countries. Putin has relaunched a war on corruption this year, yesterday promising to “continue the assault” on it. Previously the war on corruption was waged by Putin’s predecessor Dmitry Medvedev, who even adopted a “national corruption resistance plan” before he stepped down as president. — AFP

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines’ sale of its 49-percent stake in Virgin Atlantic will allow the cash-rich Asian carrier to focus resources on its fast-growing regional market, analysts said yesterday. The Singapore carrier’s tie-up with British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic never really took off since the alliance began 12 years ago when the stake was bought for £600 million ($966.5 million). Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday said it will sell the stake to Delta Air Lines of the United States for $360 million in cash in a deal to be completed next year. SIA said it “had been evaluating strategic options for the stake for some time, as the investment has not performed to expectations and the synergies the parties originally hoped for have not materialised”. Analysts said SIA, consistently one of the world’s most profitable airlines, had little say in how Virgin Atlantic was run by the flamboyant Branson, and the sale allows it to exit an underperforming investment in the troubled European market. “SIA can now focus on investments in the Asia Pacific region,” Brendan Sobie, a Singapore-based analyst with industry consultancy Centre for Aviation, told AFP. Sobie said it made more sense for Delta to have a strategic stake in Virgin Atlantic as there are more synergies in their trans-Atlantic network. Jason Hughes, an analyst with IG Markets Singapore, said that despite the higher acquisition price paid by SIA, the $360 million “will go down as a profit, as losses had already been accounted for in previous years”. SIA shares closed 1.12 percent higher at Sg$10.87 as investors cheered the divestment. Malaysian bank CIMB said in a note that the sale would give SIA a “short-term boost” but urged investors to focus on the long-term challenges posed by Middle Eastern carriers and budget airlines. Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, said SIA can use the extra cash to “redefine its business strategy on top of beefing up its regional subsidiaries”. “It’s also good to exit out of Europe because the market conditions there are quite atrocious,” he told AFP. Shukor said conflicting management styles with Branson was one of the chief reasons why the alliance failed to prosper beyond a code-sharing agreement. “Branson remained the controlling shareholder and he called the shots,” he said. Virgin Atlantic also did not have enough slots at London’s high-traffic Heathrow airport for SIA to latch on in its bid to gain a share of the lucrative trans-Atlantic route to New York, Shukor added. Analysts said SIA’s decision to buy the stake in Virgin Atlantic in March 2000 was a good move at the time because Asia was just emerging from the 19971998 financial crisis. But the centre of global economic power has since shifted to Asia, sparking a travel boom in the region. Passenger traffic in the Asia Pacific is forecast to account for 33 percent of the global market in 2016, up from 29 percent in 2011, according to trade body International Air Transport Association (IATA). “This makes the region the largest regional market for air transport, ahead of North America and Europe which each represent 21 percent,” IATA said in a statement on their latest industry forecast. SIA has been investing both in the premium travel segment, where it faces competition from Middle East carriers, and in the low-cost market where it is challenged by budget airlines. SIA in June launched a long-haul budget wing called Scoot while maintaining a substantial stake in low-fare carrier Tiger Airways. It also operates a regional wing, SilkAir. SIA and Scoot in October announced orders for 45 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The orders came after SilkAir in August said it would buy 54 new Boeing planes with an option to buy a further 14 aircraft. — AFP




2013 Cadillac ATS challenges world’s best compact luxury cars he all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS compact luxury sports sedan is the brand’s entry into the world’s most significant luxury car segment and is designed to challenge the world’s best premium cars. Its sophisticated driving experience is enhanced with Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive, in-vehicle user experience that merges intuitive design with industry-first controls and commands for information and media data. Developed on an all-new, lightweight reardrive architecture, the ATS reflects a new expression of Cadillac’s Art & Science execution philosophy, centered on a foundation of driving dynamics and mass efficiency. It is the most agile and lightweight Cadillac, with one of the lowest curb weights in the segment - 1,504 kg on the 2.5L L4. Germany’s famed Nurburgring served as one of the key testing grounds, along with additional roads, race tracks and laboratories around the globe, where ATS engineers balanced performance with Cadillac’s trademark refinement. Contributing components and features include: • 50/50 weight balance • Cadillac’s first five-link independent rear suspension using lightweight, high-strength steel and efficient straight link designs • A multi-link double-pivot MacPherson-strut front suspension with direct-acting stabilizer bar • Driver-adjustable FE3 sport suspension with Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping • Underbody aerodynamic shields • Premium (belt driven) electric variable-effort steering gear from ZF Steering Systems • Four-channel ABS with available Brembo performance brakes The ATS is offered well-equipped in Standard, Performance and Premium collections. Two engines - including one four-cylinders and a V-6 deliver strong power to the ATS and capitalize on the car’s lightweight structure to complement its performance with efficiency. The engines include a standard 2.5L four-cylinder rated at 202 horsepower and Cadillac’s award-winning 3.6L V-6, estimated at 321 horsepower.


ATS design and exterior features The 2013 Cadillac ATS interprets Cadillac’s Art & Science design language in a new proportion, tailoring the signature styling and refinement cues for the most compact Cadillac while upholding - and advancing - the exemplary attention to detail and technological elements for which the brand is known. A long, 2,775 mm wheelbase and wide front/rear tracks are the cornerstones of the ATS’s firmly planted stance, which is enhanced by short overhangs and taut sheet metal that appears to wrap tightly around the tires. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard on all models. Bold vertical lighting elements - including new LED front signature lighting detail - as well as illuminating door handles and active grille shutters lend technologically advanced style and function to the ATS. The grille shutters close at certain highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and enhance fuel economy. High-intensity discharge headlamps with Adaptive Forward Lighting are available on the 3.6L V-6 engine model. Exterior colors include: Radiant Silver Metallic, Black Raven, Black Diamond Tricoat, Crystal Red Tintcoat, White Diamond Tricoat, Thunder Gray ChromaFlair, Opulent Blue Metallic, Glacier Blue Metallic, Silver Coast Metallic and Summer Gold Metallic. ATS interior features A driver-focused interior with integrated technology and crafted materials complements the exterior elements and supports the ATS’s driving experience. Everything from the placement of the pedals to the position of the shifter is designed for effortless and intuitive performance

driving. Available performance seats have poweradjustable bolsters to optimize lateral support during high-load cornering. Contributing to the interior’s intuitive feel is an instrument panel that wraps into the doors and a center stack in the mid-instrument panel that flows into the center console. LED lighting for the bold gauge cluster enables clear, at-aglance viewing in all lighting conditions, while ambient lighting accents functional elements of the console and doors. Real wood, metal plating and carbon fiber trim and Cadillac’s cut-and-sew instrument panel, console and doors enhance the emotional connection to the ATS. Choices of many interior color themes, each with unique accent trim material, cover a wide range of flavors - from light, open and warm to black and serious, to bold, technical and sporty. Interior color and trim choices include: Jet Black with Jet Black accents, Morello Red with Jet Black accents, Light Platinum with Brownstone accents, Caramel with Jet Black accents and Light Platinum with Jet Black accents. Additional interior features include: • Bluetooth phone connectivity • USB, auxiliary and SD memory card ports • Keyless access and keyless push-button start • Reconfigurable 5.7-inch instrument panel cluster display • Full-color reconfigurable head-up display • Leatherette or leather seating surfaces. A ten-speaker Bose sound system is offered on Premium and Performance Collections while a seven-speaker Bose sound system is standard.. A navigation system is also available with Premium and Performance Collection. Cadillac CUE details The ATS is offered with Cadillac CUE (with or without navigation) - a comprehensive, in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data. It is designed to be unique for each consumer, from the “simple user” to the fully connected “super user.” CUE (Cadillac User Experience), pairs entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, voice commands and fewer buttons and larger icons. For example, most of today’s luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE has only four. The heart of CUE is the eight-inch LCD multitouch sensitive screen, seamlessly integrated into the top of the central instrument panel and a motorized, fully capacitive faceplate at the bottom concealing a 1.8L storage area. The vibrant LCD screen displays CUE’s home page, which resembles a smart phone’s screen, by using large, easy-to-target icons to execute commands. Capacitive technology refers to using electrodes to sense the conductive properties of objects, such as a finger. ATS powertrains The engine lineup starts with a standard 2.5L four-cylinder and available V-6. The four-cylinder is next-generation engine. Increased efficiency was a priority for the new four-cylinder. It was achieved partly through lower engine friction, which was reduced by up to 16 percent using new technologies such as a variable-displacement oil pump and an actively controlled thermostat. Cadillac proprietary computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis techniques were used to develop an all-new combustion system with a higher compression ratio, which also helps boost

efficiency. The 2.5L is rated at 202 horsepower and 259 Nm of torque. The award-winning 3.6L V6 is rated at 321 horsepower and 373 Nm of torque. Both engines feature direct injection and dual overhead camshafts with continuously variable valve timing, which help optimize power and efficiency, as well as reduce emissions. And both engines are matched with six-speed transmissions, including the Hydra-Matic 6L45 automatic with tap-shift control. ATS driving experience Proportion and balance are on the ATS’s side, with a low curb weight of 1,504 kg on the 2.5L and power-dense powertrains that are also lightweight to achieve a 50/50 weight distribution and a greater power-to-weight ratio. They complement wide front and rear tracks -1,512mm (front) and 1,548mm (rear) - for a lower center of gravity that promotes greater stability. Low vehicle mass and optimal brake sizes are expected to give the ATS braking performance that is among the best in the segment, with Brembo brakes contributing to 60-0 mph (97-0 kph) performance of approximately 39.3 meters. Up front, a multi-link MacPherson strut suspension uses a double-pivot design for a more precise feeling of control, including more linear and communicative steering, and a smoother ride. It also improves impact isolation on bumps and rough surfaces. The double-pivot system incorporates a pair of ball joints and lower control links that replace a conventional wishbone at each wheel. The optimal balance of ride and handling is achieved via a suspension geometry that decouples road inputs by integrating a soft fore/aft “ride link” that provides greater isolation from impacts and a stiff, laterally positioned “handling link” for more direct steering feel and quick-

er lateral response. The control arms, the spindle and the body form an effective four-bar link for each side of the front suspension, creating virtual pivot points for reduced spindle length, significantly reducing steering wheel feedback due to wheel impacts and imbalance. There is also a direct-acting stabilizer bar. The front suspension’s design also enables a shorter spindle and positive-offset steering geometry for optimal steering control, excellent straight-line stability and a more refined ride. High-durometer rubber and hydraulic bushings are used with the front suspension for an excellent balance of ride comfort and precise response when cornering. At the rear of the ATS is the first five-link independent suspension in a Cadillac. It’s a design that helps reduces roll center motion, enables positive lateral control, reduces “squat” during acceleration and promotes excellent dynamic stability. In short, it helps keep the tires planted on all surfaces and during all hard-cornering maneuvers. Four handling links (upper and lower control arms) are used at each side to control wheel motion and a toe link at each wheel provides additional horizontal control - particularly during hard cornering. The upper and lower links create an effective double-wishbone design, although the links are mounted independently. As with the front suspension, the five-link design creates virtual pivot points that the ATS’s engineers used for geometry optimization. The stiff links are mounted on a cradle that contributes to a smoother, quieter and more isolated ride. The cradle is made of steel (with hydroformed side rails) to help optimize the car’s structural stiffness and mass. Eighteen-inch (18x8-inch) wheels and 225/40-series rubber are

offered on the ATS, with run-flat tires. Models with the FE3 suspension feature 18x9-inch rear wheels. A mechanical limited-slip differential is a feature not matched by all other competitors and gives the ATS an edge when it comes to ensuring all of the powertrain’s torque is applied to the tires during hard cornering. It is included with the FE3 sport suspension package and housed in a robust 8.6-inch carrier. Supporting the ATS’s new suspension designs are advanced damping, steering and braking systems, including Magnetic Ride Control, which is the heart of the FE3 Sport Suspension package (included on the Premium Collection) that also includes a mechanical limited-slip differential, high-capacity cooling system and 18-inch summer-performance tires. MRC is a real-time damping system that delivers more precise body motion control. It “reads” the road every millisecond and can change damping in only five milliseconds. Adjustable settings for the FE3 suspension allow the driver to select different ranges of damping for Magnetic Ride Control, including a competitive mode that also adjusts the intervention of the stability control and traction control systems. All ATS models come with a premium electric, variable-assist power steering gear from ZF Steering Systems. It is designed to deliver excellent response and on-center characteristics, while also saving fuel because engine power isn’t directly required to assist gear movement - as is the case with conventional hydraulic systems. The steering gear has great torsional stiffness and lower operating friction, which enhance the steering feel with almost perfect linear response. Additionally, the steering column and intermediate shaft feature stiff, direct-acting and low-friction ball bearing designs. That means there is almost no “lash” in the entire steering system, for a more immediate and connected-to-the-road feel for the driver. Four-wheel disc with Brembo per formance brakes included on the Performance and Premium collections. They are matched with a four-channel ABS system that is integrated with standard StabiliTrak stability control and full-function traction control. ATS safety features Safety in the ATS is based on Cadillac’s “control and alert” strategy that employs advanced technologies - including radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors - to help prevent crashes. The safety features bolster driver vision and awareness of road hazards, and intervenes to help the driver avert potential crashes. In some cases, Cadillac’s advanced crash-avoidance systems will act without the driver, such as automatic braking, which will activate based on information indicating potential hazards. Among the most sophisticated of the features is Front and Rear Automatic Brakes. This relies on short-range radar technology and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver prevent front and rear lowspeed collisions via a progression of alerts that extend to complete braking, if necessary. Optional advanced safety features include: • Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control • Intelligent Brake Assist • Forward Collision Alert • Brake Pre-Fill Automatic Collision Preparation • Lane Departure Warning • Side Blind Zone Alert • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines • Adaptive Forward Lighting The advanced technology safety features complement the ATS’s roster of other safety features, including eight standard air bags (10 with optional features), safety belt pretensioners and load limiters, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control and four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS.




Nissan dominates auto category at Effie awards

Nissan Al-Babtain announces winner of Nissan Micra 2012 KUWAIT: Abdulmohsen Abdulaziz Albabtain Company (AABC), the exclusive distributor of Nissan genuine parts in Kuwait recently announced the name of the big winner of the whole new Nissan Micra 2012, Walid Khaled Al-Asfar, at the end of its Scratch and Win campaign allowing its customers to win many valuable instant prizes with Nissan genuine parts and enter the grand raffle draw to win this outstanding car. Nissan had previously informed its customers of this special promotion that lasted from Oct 1 until

Nov 11 and was aimed at encouraging customers to purchase Nissan genuine parts from all the company’s branches throughout the country. This exclusive campaign achieved a great success amongst Nissan Al-Babtain customers who participated in all the campaign’s programs and admired the valuable prizes that reflect Nissan’s commitment to continuously provide them with the best offers and promotions available. The All New Nissan Micra is an excellent combination of advanced features, new generation design, luxury, and distinctive appeal.

DUBAI: Nissan became the most highly decorated automotive brand at the highly-respected 2012 GEMAS Effie MENA Awards ceremony when it collected two bronze and one silver awards. Nissan Middle East’s ‘Desert Nemesis’, and ‘Speed Personified’ campaigns took joint third place while its exclusive distributor for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Arabian Automobiles, claimed second place for the brand with its superb ‘House Hunter Test-Drive’ campaign. Nissan was the only automotive manufacturer to collect more than one award. Samir Cherfan, Director of Sales and Marketing, Nissan Middle East, said: “The ‘Innovation that Excites’ global brand platform marked a profound shift in Nissan’s operations. Never before has Nissan embarked on a global campaign that promotes so clearly the inherent role that innovation plays across every part of the company, globally. He continued: “It is therefore an honor and a privilege to be recognized above such strong competition, and walk away with three Effie awards. We always strive to create impactful and memorable marketing campaigns, and with the support of our team and partners we have done it again.”

The evening at Armani Pavilion saw nearly 1,000 of the industries’ creative leaders and VIPs come together to recognise the best campaigns from the past year. Nissan Middle East, represented by Atsuo Kosaka, Managing, Samir Cherfan, Director of Sales and Marketing, Yolande Pineda, General

Manager Corporate Communications, Syed Ahmed, General Manager Marketing, Abdul Ilah Wazni, Senior Manager - Corporate Communications, and Yuta Yamazaki, Senior Brand Manager - Marketing, left the evening as the most highly awarded car brand.

DCB, AUD win bid to organise 2014 WEEF

Mindshare leads award count at 2012 Gemas Effie DUBAI: Mindshare, a media agency dedicated to innovative brand development for its clients, was recently honored with nine awards at the Gemas Effie MENA Awards 2012 , making it the most awarded agency not only amongst media agencies but also creative agencies. The ceremony took place on Nov 21 at the Armani Hotel in Dubai, with the goal of recognizing effective marketing ideas that achieved quantifiable results for clients and met organizational objectives. The awards earned by Mindshare were in a diverse range of categories, demonstrating both its versatility and impressive client list. Mindshare won the Silver Effie in the Banking, Finance, & Insurance category for its work with HSBC promoting the “Billion Dirham SME Fund”. In the categories of Retail and Shopper Marketing, Mindshare won Silver and Bronze Effies, respectively, for Nike’s “Sticker Wall” campaign. In the Sports Marketing category, Mindshare shared the Bronze Effie with Nike for their “I Run Beirut” campaign and a Silver Effie in

Youth Marketing for its “Hatha Filmi” (“This is my film”) campaign for Barbican. In the category of Electronics & Computers, Mindshare was recognized with a Silver Effie for its work with LG in their campaign marketing washing machines to men, and took home a Bronze Effie in the Automotive category working with Nissan’s “Speed Personified” campaign. Finally, in the Travel, Tourism, & Transportation category, Mindshare was awarded the Silver Effie for its “Family Friendly Airline” campaign with Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air. “Nine Awards is definitely something that we can be proud of,” commented Samir Ayoub, CEO, Mindshare in the MENA region. “The credit of this achievement goes to our clients and the team who demonstrated high level of creativity and effectiveness as well. We have the privilege of working with a fantastic group of industryleading clients with their own highly capable marketing units. Our close, collaborative relationships with clients are a key factor in our success.”

The Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB), a division of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), yesterday held a press conference to announce winning the bid to host the ‘World Engineering Education Forum’ in the emirate of Dubai, which is scheduled to be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, from 3-6 Dec, 2014. During the press conference, which was held on the 11th of December at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, DCB and the American University in Dubai (AUD) entered into a ‘local host agreement’ with the aim to collaboratively organise the event. The agreement was signed in the presence of HE Khalid Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Director General of DTCM, Elias Bou Saab, Executive Vice President of the American University in Dubai, Dr John Beynon, Chair-Elect of the Global Engineering Deans Council, Dr. Hans Hoyer, Executive Secretary of the Global Engineering Deans Council, Dr Jose Carlos Quadrado, President of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES), and HE Engineer Essa Al Maidoor, Director General of Dubai Health Authority and President of Society of Engineers - UAE. The terms of the agreement stipulate the responsibilities of each party in

relation to the preparation of the organisation of the World Engineering Education Forum, as well as specifying the tasks of each party in order to ensure the success of this important event.The agreement also states that the official opening ceremony of the Forum and its associated social activities will be sponsored by the Dubai Convention Bureau. Commenting on the agreement, HE Khalid Bin Sulayem said, “The World Engineering Education Forum, which attracts over 1,500 participants from over the world, is an international event anda unique gathering of renowned figures in the field of engineering, as well as those who work in engineering education.” Bin Sulayem stressed that such events and activities constitute real platform to promote the emirate of Dubai, “ There is no doubt that the Dubai Convention Bureau continually seeks to attract and host important events in line with DTCM strategy.DCB aim isto promote Dubai’s position as a favourite and pre-eminent tourist destination at various levels by focusing on incentives travel, conferences, exhibitions, and special-event markets, thereby boosting the prospects of the Emirate’s economic growth,” he remarked. Commenting on this collaboration,

Elias Bou Saab said “ The American University in Dubai is delighted to work with the Dubai Convention Bureau in hosting and organising this important forum, which aims to enhance cooperation between various engineeringrelated education parties and associations. It also aims to bring together the highest quality engineering-education processes available throughout the world to secure the global supply of engineering graduates. The forum will help strengthen the role of member organisations in terms of their abilities to support universities, colleges and students, as well as enhance communication between engineering graduates and international companies looking for under-trainee engineers,”Bou Saab added. HE Engineer Essa Al Maidoor said, “Society of Engineers - UAE’s vision is “Towards Best Engineering Practices in the UAE”; such global events will further enhance the presence of Dubai on the academic arena in general and engineering in particular. It will open opportunities for future agreements between several parties in Dubai and the world that will serve engineering education in the UAE and provides jobs for engineering graduates in our country. If we will give importance to the engineering education, we can assure of the development of our nation.”

IKEA smartphone app receives recognition KUWAIT: As part of IKEA Kuwait’s continuous innovative strategy, IKEA had provided its customers with an IKEA Catalogue application where shoppers could experience easy access to high quality new images, films, 3D models, catalogues, brochures, as well as other extra content that are not usually found in printed catalogues. Today, the IKEA Catalogue application is achieving significant recognition and acceptance by the day. Through understanding customers’ habits and needs and being on the cutting edge, IKEA’s application received more than 5 million downloads and upgrades altogether. With that being said, the average time for the user in the catalogue application is around 8 minutes for iOS and 8.5 minutes for Android, when the benchmark is only 3 minutes. Scan results are also exceeding expectations by currently achieving 2,414,793 scan results and are expected to reach 10 million scans throughout the year. Shoppers’ favorite scanning content are the 3D and the X-Ray so far. This first-in-Kuwait application is found across smartphones and tablets using the Android as well as IOS operating systems,

and is renowned for securing important extended content that is readily available. Users need to scan their selected pages on the application and accordingly will access the extended content, of which will also be available at IKEA Kuwait’s website. The new application also holds the digital version of the new IKEA catalogue along with the relevant brochures.

Qualitynet ‘Fakkar Ana Khouf?’ finale on Dec 15 at Avenues Mall KUWAIT: Qualitynet, Kuwait’s No. 1 Total Solutions Provider announced that it will reward the winner of its Facebook based Home Video Contest “Fakkar Ana Khouf?” at a finale event on Saturday Dec 15, 2012 at 7 pm at the Avenues Mall. The event which started in September for all its fans via its official Facebook page:, will see a grand prize winner walk away with KD 10,000 in cash. Nael A Al-Awadi, GM - Admin, HR and Marketing stated that the voting, which was open for a week ending Dec 9 via its Facebook page was very competitive and saw the contestant campaigning fiercely for votes. The votes from the Facebook voting app will constitute 70 percent of the total points for each video, while the remaining 30 percent lies with the judges, comprising Abdul Aziz Al-Jasmi (Director), Bashar Al-

Shatti (Artist) and Essa Al Kooheji (GM Consumer Services). He also added that the team has been preparing for the event at the Avenues, where Jasmi and Shatti will pick winners from among the voters and crowd, in addition to handing over the prizes for contestants and the grand prize winner. Awadi said that the immense success of the TV commercial, which went viral on Social networks since Ramadan this year, went on to win many accolades, including the Best TV Commercial during Ramadan by the Arab Media Forum and Tsaweeq. The commercial gained over 825,000 views on YouTube and continues to grow in number. He added that the success of the commercial adds to our commitment and responsibility of providing the very best, while upholding our uniqueness and leadership in the country.

Nael A Al-Awadi, GM-Admin, HR and Marketing



Compromise emerges in global talks on Internet oversight DUBAI: Hopes rose yesterday for a compromise agreement that would keep intrusive government regulation of the Internet from being enshrined in a global treaty. As a 12-day conference of the International Telecommunication Union drew near its Friday closing, the chairman of the gathering in Dubai circulated a draft that sidelined proposals from Russia, China and other countries that have been seeking the right to know where each piece of Internet traffic comes from. “The United States believes it is the basis for any further progress toward reaching an agreement at this conference,” said US Ambassador Terry Kramer, who had led Western opposition to the earlier proposals. The new draft was greeted positively by a broad swath of delegates to the conference and came as a surprise to many who had been frustrated by the deadlock gripping the event over the weekend. Hamaoun TourÈ, ITU secretary-general, told Reuters he had hosted discussions between the opposing parties and weary delegates seemed eager to resolve their differences as talks drag into the early hours each night. A majority of the more than 150 countries represented at the conference had been willing to officially extend the mission of the United Nations agency to the Internet, while the Americans, most Europeans and some other advanced economies wanted to limit the ITU to oversight of international phone calls and other means of communication. The issue is coming to a head now because the

ITU is revamping its treaty for the first time since 1988, before the World Wide Web took shape and became an economic, cultural and political force usually free from international oversight. The compromise-in-progress would move most Internet elements from the treaty itself to a separate, U.N.-style “resolution” that is not binding on the countries, delegates said. A few matters that could govern the Internet remain in the main document and will be debated Wednesday, said Markus Kummer, vice president of the Internet Society, one of several nongovernmental groups that are involved in setting standards now and that sounded alarms about the Dubai conference. Among the remaining provisions in the draft is a tentative assertion that countries could choose to “manage the naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used within their territories for international telecommunications.” That could be interpreted as including the right to assign Web addresses, which is currently controlled by ICANN, a United States-based nonprofit under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The Internet space as such isn’t mentioned, but there are a few provisions that might go a little bit into the Internet space and that we need to look at carefully,” Kummer said. The nonbinding resolution, meanwhile, was further softened to allude to the roles of parties from outside government. “All governments should have an equal role and responsibility for interna-

tional Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the existing Internet and its future development and of the future Internet, and that the need for development of public policy by governments in consultation with all stakeholders is also recognized,” the draft states. Most of the talks have been behind closed doors, and so far the key debate on whether the ITU has a mandate to set Internetrelated regulations has not been held in public. Conference Chairman Mohamed al-Ghanim, director-general of the United Arab Emirates’ telecom regulator, has opted to hand over the more controversial issues to private sub-groups. Open sessions are instead devoted to relatively minor issues, with much of Tuesday’s final debate spent squabbling over when the next summit should be held. When asked if member states had formed an agreement over the terms in which the Internet was referred to in the treaty, TourÈ said, “of course,” but declined to give further details, saying it had yet to be formally approved. TourÈ said the treaty would “absolutely not” cover Internet governance, but admitted some references to the Internet were likely to be included in the final text, which may be too much for the United States. “It’s normal to mention the Internet, it’s not taboo, because we’re all stakeholders of this Internet world,” said TourÈ. “The Internet is one of the biggest issues here, so for me it was important

that we resolve this issue. By Thursday we should be ready.” Though the Western camp was happy with Tuesday’s negotiations, some of its opponents remained unappeased. A Russia-led coalition resubmitted a previously shelved proposal that calls for sweeping new governmental powers over the Internet. The revised submission, now cosigned by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Bahrain, Iraq and the UAE, says countries should be able to block some Internet locations and take control of address allocation. The proposal also wants to allow states to track and direct Internet traffic and provides a definition of spam so broad it could potentially apply to almost any emailed message, which opponents warn could be used to curb online freedom of expression. But this proposal has yet to be debated in the public sessions, and its recommendations may have little chance of being approved, especially following TourÈ’s insistence that the treaty would not deal with Internet governance. “The end result is very unlikely to have anything in it that would justify the amount of fearmongering that led up to the conference,” said Kieren McCarthy, a former ICANN official who runs .Nxt, an information service that specializes in Internet policy. “But at the same time, there were several concerted efforts to increase government control over the Internet, so it’s hard to tell what would have happened if people hadn’t been so vociferous.” —- Reuters

Mobile Internet forcing computers to evolve Market for tablets, smartphones ‘red-hot’

SAO PAULO: Eduardo Borges, Brazil’s representative of Ashley Madison, poses in Sao Paulo, Brazil this week. Canadian Ashley Madison is an online dating service especially for married people. — AFP

Apple works with Asian suppliers to test new TV TAIPEI: US technology giant Apple has been working with component suppliers in Asia to test new TV sets in a possible move to branch into the television market, a report said yesterday. Apple has been testing several TV prototypes for large-screen high-definition TV for a few years, sources familiar with the situation were quoted by the Dow Jones Newswires as saying. Among the suppliers, Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision has been working with Japan’s Sharp Corp. on the design of the new TV, the report said, citing unnamed company officials. Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, is the world’s largest maker of computer components and produces goods for tech giants including Apple, Sony and

Nokia.Apple’s move into the television market would intensify competition with some of its biggest suppliers, including South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest TV maker by shipments. Hon Hai also started selling 60-inch TV sets in Taiwan from last month in an apparent bid to beef up production of a panel plant in western Japan used to be owned by Sharp that it has invested in, company officials have said. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has described the TV business as “an area of intense interest” in a recent interview with US media, according to the report. A Sharp spokeswoman declined to comment on any products the company is working on while Hon Hai officials were not immediately available for comment. — AFP

US investigating makers of cellphone apps WASHINGTON: The government is investigating whether software companies that make cellphone apps violated the privacy rights of children by quietly collecting personal information from mobile devices and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday. Such apps can capture a child’s physical location, phone numbers of their friends and more. The FTC described the marketplace for mobile applications - dominated by online stores operated by Apple and Google - as a digital danger zone with inadequate oversight. In a report by the FTC’s own experts, it said the industry has grown rapidly but failed to ensure the privacy of young consumers is adequately protected. The FTC did not say which or how many companies it was investigating. Among 400 apps designed for kids examined by the FTC, most failed to inform parents about the types of data the app could gather and who could access it, the report said. Others apps contained advertising that most parents would find objectionable or included links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media services where kids post information about themselves. The report said mobile apps can siphon data to “invisible and unknown” third parties that could be used to develop a detailed profile of a child without a parent’s knowledge or consent. “It’s not hypothetical that this information was shared,” said Jessica Rich, associate director of the FTC’s financial practices division. The FTC also said it was investigating whether any of the apps developers engaged in unfair or deceptive trade practices, which would be illegal. A trade group representing apps developers said the industry’s growth has been fueled largely by small businesses, first-time

developers and even high school students who do not have legal departments or privacy experts on staff. The FTC’s report is a reminder of the importance of educating developers on best practices for privacy, the Washington-based Association for Competitive Technology said in a statement. In one case mentioned in the FTC report, an app that allows children to paint pictures and save them in an online photo gallery didn’t indicate that it included advertising. But investigators said the app ran an ad across the bottom of the screen for an online dating service that said, “See 1000+ Singles.” The FTC would not identify any companies it was investigating until a complaint is filed, Rich said. She said the agency expects the report will “light a fire” under the industry. “We’re not naming names, in part because we think this is a systematic problem, and we don’t want people to think that if they avoid certain apps that they’re home free,” Rich said. The commission is considering major changes to a 1998 law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, that would impose tougher online safeguards for children under 13. Technology companies have warned that the proposed changes are too aggressive and could discourage them from producing kid-friendly content on the Internet. But public interest groups have pushed hard for the changes, saying expanded use of mobile devices and methods for collecting personal data have outpaced rules put in place more than a decade ago. The commissioners are expected to vote on the revisions to the law within weeks. Among the proposed changes is a requirement to prohibit the use of behavioral marketing techniques to track and target children unless a parent approves. —AP

SAN FRANCISCO: The shift to smartphones and tablets became a landslide this year, crushing desire for laptop computers and pressuring manufacturers to adapt to the mobile Internet era. The trend promised to gain momentum in 2013, with people using handheld gadgets to remain connected to the Web on the go and switching to sophisticated systems in homes or offices. “Tablets will not kill PCs (personal computers),” Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett told AFP. “Tablets will force them to evolve.” Signs that the evolution is underway include Microsoft overhauling Windows to synch the world’s most widely used computer operating system with tablets and smartphones as well as desktops and laptops. Microsoft is even selling its own Surface tablet based on the Windows 8 software released in October. “I don’t think the PC is going away,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley. “What is clear is we are going through some turmoil; the market is resetting itself around new products.” While people opt for tablets instead of laptops for computing on the move, they will yearn for bigger screens and more processing power when they settle down for “real work,” according to analysts. “Your tablet can do so much that fewer people need laptops, but when you get to your desktop you want something that contrasts significantly from your tablet,” Gillett said. “I think we will ultimately see the reinvention of PCs.” Gillett described a future in which people go seamlessly from working on mobile devices to desktop stations where tablets can be docked and augmented with sensors, processors, bigger screens and more. He refers to the concept as “frames” for computing. The analyst contends that the limping economy is among factors behind a temporary lull in PC purchases destined to end as people “go through this illusion they will do it all on a tablet and realize they can’t.” “Tablets will substitute for some, even many, laptops but because a tablet can’t do as much as a laptop it will eventually stimulate PC sales,” Gillett reasoned. “What ultimately happens here is that the laptop and desktop get rethought and reinvented for a tablet world.” The market for

tablets and smartphones is red-hot, leaving the PC as an afterthought for many. Microsoft, which was the biggest tech firm in 2009 because of its dominant Windows operating system for PCs, has fallen behind Apple and is struggling to remain a major force amid gains by Google and Amazon. Onetime giants like Hewlett-Packard and Dell are struggling amid sluggish demand as sales of tablet computers and other devices surge. However, Enderle pointed out, Chinabased Lenovo is thriving by selling the gamut of computing devices. “Lenovo is showing success in all categories, supporting the notion that while the market has more products it is all still personal computing,” Enderle said. “Before we were buying a laptop or desktop computer,” he continued. “Now, we are increasingly carrying many products.” Research firm IDC projects global PC sales this year of 367 million, up just a fraction of a percent from 2011 and marking the second consecutive year of growth below two percent. ABI Research predicts tablet computers will overtake notebook PCs by 2016.

Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates said that the PC “still is pretty relevant” but “not the center of the computing universe.” “I think people are going to choose a pantheon of devices, and all of these are connected through the cloud... so the user is now the center of the tech universe.” More than 32 million tablets were shipped worldwide in the third quarter of 2012, a 75 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, according to Futuresource Consulting. Futuresource projected that global tablet shipments this year would hit 137 million units and nearly triple during the coming five years. “We’re seeing significant industry growth across all key world territories, with the majority of tablet market activity still originating from consumer purchases,” said Simon Bryant of Futuresource. Part of the success of tablets was attributed to the average price dropping below $400, due in large part to competition between device makers using free Android operating software from Google. “Tablets continue to captivate consumers,” said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC.— AFP

Microsoft to sell Surface at retail stores

NEW YORK: Photo dated Oct 26, 2012 shows a Microsoft pop-up store, set up on the corner of 46th Street in Times Square, to mark the release of its Surface tablet in New York. Microsoft said it would make its Surface tablet computer available to outside sellers as soon as mid-December, citing interest from retailers as well as consumers. —AFP

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft said yesterday it would make its Surface tablet computer available to outside sellers as soon as mid-December, citing interest from retailers as well as consumers. “The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see. We’ve increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface,” said Surface general manager Panos Panay, without providing any specific sales figures. A Microsoft statement said retail stores in the United States and Australia would be the first to sell the introduc tor y Sur face model with Windows RT, which has many features of a tablet along with an attachable cover-keyboard. A separate statement from the retailer Staples said it will carr y Microsoft Surface at all its retail stores and as early as Wednesday. Retail availability in other countries will be announced in the coming months, said Microsoft, which began selling the Surface through its website, its “pop-up” holiday stores and permanent branded stores. “Our plan has been to expand the

retail presence for Surface after the first of the year,” said Steve Schueler, head of retail sales for Microsoft. “Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier.” Although Microsoft has provided no sales data, analysts have said Surface is getting only a small segment of the tablet market led by Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle and several others powered by the Google Android system. M icrosof t also announced that some of its pop -up stores would remain open past the year-end holidays and several would become permanent Microsoft retail outlets. “ These stores will transition into either permanent brick-and-mortar retail outlets or specialty store locations,” a company statement said. Sur face, with a star ting price of $499, is now sold at Microsoft retail stores in the United States and Canada and online in the US, Australia, Britain Canada, China, France and Germany. Microsoft said last month that its Surface Pro, a version of its new tablet aimed at business users, would be available in January starting at $899 for US customers. — AFP


he a lt h & s c ie n c e

Methamphetamine threat to Asia still high BANGKOK: The powerful form of methamphetamine known as crystal meth is rapidly gaining market share among the traders and users of illicit stimulants in East and Southeast Asia, the United Nations’ anti-drug agency said yesterday. In its annual report on amphetamine-type stimulants in the region, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said those substances are the most-used or secondmost-used illicit drugs in 13 of the 15 Asia-Pacific countries surveyed. The report also said that methamphetamine

seizures in East and Southeast Asia represent nearly half of the world’s total. While the number of methamphetamine pills seized in 2011 dropped 9 percent from the year before to nearly 123 million, seizures of crystalline methamphetamine - or crystal meth - rose by 23 percent to 8.8 metric tons, which was nearly twice the 2009 total of 4.8 metric tons, the report said. “Myanmar remains the top source of illicit methamphetamine pills in East and Southeast Asia, and is also a source of crystalline methampheta-

mine,” the UN agency said. Myanmar is also the world’s second-biggest producer, after Afghanistan, of opium and its derivative, heroin. UNODC regional representative Gary Lewis said at a news conference that aiding Myanmar’s anti-drug effort was crucial to controlling the region’s illegal drug trade. The report said that China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are major producers of crystal meth, with “large-scale manufacturing” of it reported in Cambodia. Since 2007, the quantity of amphetamine-type stimulants - or ATS - “has increased dra-

matically,” said the report, basing its conclusion on the number of illicit laboratories seized: 401 in 2011, compared with 125 in 2007. “Significant quantities of ATS continue to be illicitly manufactured in China, where illicit drug manufacture has expanded from the southern coastal areas of China to northern and central areas of the country,” the report said. In addition to the vast amounts of ATS manufactured in the region, organized crime gangs from Africa and Iran continue to smuggle such drugs into the region, the agency said.— AP

Coolant safety row puts the heat on Europe’s carmakers Daimler test prompts rethink on air-conditioning coolant

MANILA: Protesters rally in front of a drug store as they hold allegedly mercury tainted cosmetics in Manila on December 11, 2012. The group urge local traders to stop selling mercury tainted cosmetics that are harmful to people and the environment. — AFP

United Nations launches cholera appeal for Haiti UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations on Tuesday launched a $2.2 billion appeal for a campaign to halt a cholera epidemic in Haiti, widely blamed on UN peacekeepers, which has killed more than 7,750 people. With the number of reported cases exceeding 620,000 since the epidemic started in October 2010, UN leader Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the “heavy toll” as he launched the 10-year initiative. Several hundred people have also been killed in neighboring Dominican Republic. Ban did not mention the cause of the epidemic, allegedly a camp of Nepalese peacekeepers in the town of Mirebalais, as he called for huge international financing to counter the bacterial disease. UN officials said 70 percent of the $2.2 billion needed in the next decade would be used to build water and sanitation facilities. Ban said the UN would also buy quantities of a new oral vaccine. He said $500 million would be needed in the next two years, with $215 million already raised from donor countries while the United Nations was committing $23.5 million. Ban said the United Nations has already spent $118 million dollars on its cholera response and that he would campaign to raise more money. Lawyers for some victims and families of the dead have called on the United Nations to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and threatened a court case. While a UN investigation found there was no way of knowing what caused the epidemic, a growing number of experts, including some from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have said the cholera strain in Haiti matched the prevalent strain in Nepal. Ban acknowledged that the epidemic has “added a heavy rate of suffering on a country already recovering from the largest natural disaster in the history of the western hemi-

sphere.” A huge UN operation has been helping the impoverished country with its political strife and the aftermath of a giant earthquake in January 2010 that killed 250,000 people. “The United Nations has a long history in Haiti, many years of partnership in difficult times,” Ban said. “Today as ever we are in Haiti for one reason alone: to help the Haitian people make their great country all that it can be.” Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe backed the UN campaign to “put an end to this terrible disease” and also did not mention the cause. “We want to reaffirm the political will of the Haitian government to do whatever it takes to eradicate cholera in the country,” he said at a ceremony with Ban. In addition to water and sanitation facilities, the government wanted to build new community centers and employ thousands of health workers, he said. “This is a noble cause. Cholera has hit us very hard and we feel that with the solidarity of the world, Haiti can and will overcome,” he said. Nigel Fisher, UN humanitarian representative in Haiti, said there has been a dramatic fall in the spread of the epidemic, as the number of new cases dropped to 117,000 this year, with 850 deaths. Fisher also refused to comment on the cause of the epidemic, saying it was in the hands of UN lawyers. “Obviously we have all read the various reports in the course of the last two years, many Haitians have made up their minds about what is happening, but I cannot dwell on that,” he told reporters. “My focus is on health care, it is on water and sanitation and it is working with national authorities and other partners to make sure the minimum number of Haitians fall sick, the minimum die and that, as we move forward with this, we will indeed see the elimination of cholera,” Fisher said.— AFP

PORT-AU-PRINCE: A woman sits with her daughter in front of her tent at a camp set up for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. — AP

Diabetes-linked vision loss on the rise in US WASHINGTON: Vision loss likely related to diabetes in the United States increased by 20 percent over less than a decade, according to a US study - a matter of concern as diabetes rates continue to rise, and hit younger and younger people. “These are really dramatic findings, and they’re kind of the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming ahead,” said David Friedman from the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who worked on the study. So-called nonrefractive vision impairment, which includes glaucoma and cataracts, can’t be corrected with glasses, and typically requires laser therapy or surgery. It can also lead to permanent vision loss in some cases, especially when the problem isn’t identified or treated in a timely fashion.

The researchers, whose findings appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said that as diabetes rates continue to rise, some complications tied to the disease are expected to spike as well. Vision loss is especially a concern among people who have had diabetes for ten years or more. Using data from a national health and nutrition study, Friedman’s team found 1.4 percent of the 9,471 adults examined in 1999 through 2002 had nonrefractive vision impairment. That compared to 1.7 percent of the 10,480 people tested in 2005 through 2008. Over that time, the number of study subjects who’d had diabetes for at least ten years also increased, from 2.8 percent to 3.6 percent. —Reuters

FRANKFURT: When engineers at Mercedes-Benz tasked with field-testing a revolutionary new refrigerant watched it ignite in a ball of fire before their eyes, it took a while for the significance of their discovery to sink in. Simulating a leak in the air-conditioning line of a Mercedes B-Class tourer, they had released a fine mixture of refrigerant and A/C compressor oil, which sprayed across the car’s turbo-charged 1.6 liter engine. The substance caught fire as soon as it hit the hot surface, releasing a toxic, corrosive gas as it burned. The car’s windshield turned milky white as lethal hydrogen fluoride began eating its way into the glass. “We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it. We needed a day to comprehend what we had just seen,” said Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests. Air-conditioning refrigerants are not the stuff of controversy. Traditionally, they have been made of relatively innocuous chemicals that change from liquid to vapour and back again, transferring heat and cooling the surrounding air in the process. But the discovery at the German carmaker’s Sindelfingen test track in early August suggested this new product posed a very real risk to car passengers. It has set off a battle royal between Daimler and US conglomerate Honeywell, replete with mudslinging, conspiracy theories and spindoctoring. At stake is not just a lucrative business for Honeywell and its partner Dupont, who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, market and produce the coolant known as HFO-1234yf. Their refrigerant also happens to be the only product of its kind that meets new EU climate guidelines. Because of concerns about greenhouse gases, EU legislators in Brussels have ordered the phasing out of the long-time industry standard, R134a, from January. By 2017, every single air-conditioned car that rolls off assembly lines for sale in Europe - roughly 14 million vehicles a year - could be filled with about $70 worth of HFO-1234yf. The Daimler test has sent the industry, and Brussels, scrambling to figure out whether years of tests that showed the new product to be perfectly safe could have been flawed. If it does pose a danger, they must reconsider plans to introduce the refrigerant across Europe’s entire fleet - and act fast. “The industry obviously takes very seriously the new findings, which show the refrigerant can be flammable under certain extreme conditions,” said Cara McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for Europe’s auto industry association ACEA. DAMAGE CONTROL After confirming their August results in subsequent tests, Daimler notified the authorities in late September that it wanted to recall all 1,300 cars worldwide that already use the new refrigerant. A month later, with only a few weeks to go until the phase-in of HFO-1234yf begins, 13 major carmakers quietly began a new fourth round of safety tests to assess the accuracy of the Daimler results, which showed combustion occurring in more than twothirds of the cases after a simulated head-on collision. Meanwhile, Honeywell and Dupont are in fullblown damage control mode. They stand to lose a fortune in wasted development costs and forfeited future revenue. Honeywell alone has secured over 100 patents for the product worldwide. The companies say the simulations were not conducted under real-life conditions and note that cars that were actually crashed to test the material - rather than subject to simulated accidents - did not raise any red flags. They accuse Daimler of grossly exaggerating the danger and even of deliberately staging the test to provoke a scare out of ulterior motives that have nothing to do with passenger safety - a claim the Stuttgart-based carmaker vehemently denies. Geyer’s findings were so diametrically at odds with previously documented research that even German engineers at an automotive icon like Mercedes started to doubt themselves. “It was scarcely believable. The most complicated lab tests conducted using the most sensitive measuring instruments around found nothing and all we do is drive a car around a couple of times, open a tiny hole in the refrigerant line and the next thing you know the car is on fire,” said Geyer. Had he seen a February 2008 report by a small Austrian firm, Obrist Engineering, he might have known that combustion could occur at engine operating temperatures. Obrist identified a risk of secondary fire and urged further investigation to assess the implications for passengers, citing the relatively low concentrations of toxic emissions needed to kill a human being. Andreas Kornath, a chemistry professor at the University of Munich who works with fire fighters, has been warning carmakers about HFO-1234yf and the risks posed by even low amounts of hydrogen fluoride (HF) released during its combustion. “Whereas carbon monoxide does no permanent tissue damage and during a fire rises straight into the atmosphere, HF binds with ambient moisture to form very fine droplets of hydrofluoric acid that can remain suspended in the air,” he said. Readily absorbed by the skin, hydrogen fluoride begins attacking the body once it enters the bloodstream by spreading death on a cellular level, a process known as necrosis. High enough doses are known to cause the lungs to fill up with flu-

id, causing a drowning sensation, and to trigger cardiac arrest. According to the US Labor Department’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration, workers should not be exposed over an eight-hour period to more than three milligrams of hydrogen fluoride per cubic meter of air, or three parts per million. Permissible levels for hydrogen cyanide - used by the Nazis in gas chambers - are over three times as high. AIRBAGS MORE DANGEROUS After already suffering a nine-month production delay in China, the last thing Honeywell and Dupont need now is a potential safety scandal that could have ramifications for their business in Europe and beyond. Thanks to incentives offered by the Environmental Protection Agency, the refrigerant is likely to be rolled out widely in the United States as well. The duo’s patent-protected monopoly has aroused suspicion by carmakers and envy at other rivals. Europe’s ACEA believes Honeywell intentionally concealed its patent process, a claim the company rejects as baseless. French chemical company Arkema prompted the EU to launch anti-trust investigations last December. Honeywell is being examined over whether it “abused its dominant position” and “engaged in deceptive conduct”. While Honeywell and Dupont concede that HFO1234yf is “mildly flammable”, they point to peer-reviewed safety tests from December 2009 that estimate the refrigerant could pose a danger in just one or two cases per year. “The chance of being killed by an inflating airbag is 100 times higher,” said Chris Seeton, an engineer from Honeywell leading the development of HFO1234yf. With much on the line and environmental groups in Germany advocating the industry focus on developing carbon dioxide as a natural refrigerant, things are turning ugly. Honeywell accuses Daimler of designing the test in such a way as to create the desired result, all the way down to the amount of refrigerant found in the A/C system. “We fundamentally believe they knew what they were doing when they went to videotape this,” said Honeywell’s Seeton. “Their test was engineered for that outcome.” By fomenting a fear campaign, his company says, Daimler might be seeking to postpone as long as possible

paying the higher costs of the new refrigerant, which they say is ten times as expensive as R134a. “It wasn’t until they were under significant economic constraints and this billion-euro cost savings (program was launched) that they brought this issue up,” said Terrence Hahn, General Manager for Honeywell’s Fluorine Products business. Seeton also believes Daimler might be using safety as an argument to test the EU’s resolve, given German carmakers are seeking greater allowance to build cars with dirtier emissions than permitted under current 2020 targets. Daimler dismisses the claims. It says it now faces higher costs from ditching the new refrigerant. GUARANTEED NOT TO BURN Michel Gabriel, managing director of consultancy Interbrand in Zurich, believes Daimler is justified in taking a cautious stance, given its reputation for producing cars with the highest levels of safety. “In cases where management is aware of a certain problem and knowingly acts anyway, judging a risk to be acceptable, then they might make themselves liable to the accusation that they had acted irresponsibly,” he said. “A premium carmaker’s most important asset is its brand.” The German carmaker won over its first supporter in November in the form of Volkswagen. Its chairman, Ferdinand Piech, said the group would work on developing a new A/C system using CO2, since it is “guaranteed not to burn”. Brussels has not received any formal request to delay enforcement of the EU directive yet, but the German auto industry wants six additional months to conduct more tests. “Daimler has raised the highest concern in the European Commission,” said a spokeswoman, adding Brussels is “closely following the developments in the relevant investigations”. One industry source believes the EU has no choice but to push back the January phase-in of HFO-1234yf, since every carmaker has been caught unprepared. Launching infringement proceedings against the carmakers is a political no-go at a time when the auto industry has its back against the wall. “Just look at Peugeot, Ford or Opel; piling on fines would break their neck,” the person said. “There is no alternative to finding a new refrigerant, given the current debate. The Mercedes recall signalled that very clearly.”— Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO: A man holds a dead fish at the Marapendi lagoon, in the Barra de Tijuca neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. Biologist Mario Moscatelli said that more than two tons of fish died in one day. — AFP

Bisexual fish boost up mating chances PARIS: In an unusual mating strategy, hard-up males of a tiny, promiscuous fish species engage in homosexual acts in a bid to entice females to copulate with them, a study said yesterday. And it works. Researchers said small, non-dominant Atlantic molly males, often overlooked for larger, flashier rivals as mating partners, rose vastly in the esteem of females that observed them copulating-regardless of the partner’s sex. Some female animals are known to show a preference for mating with males they had observed coupling with other females in a phenomenon known as “mate choice copying”. This allows them to evaluate the quality of a potential mate from a distance. For this study, the researchers set out to show that homosexual behavior in the tropical freshwater fish Poecilia mexicana would similarly boost a drabber male’s chances of heterosexual coupling. “P mexicana females increase their preference for initially non-preferred males not only after observing those males interacting sexually with females, but also when having observed them

initiating homosexual behavior,” the team wrote of their findings in the journal Royal Society Biology Letters. Normally, females of the species, a popular tropical aquarium fish and close relative of the better-known guppy, show a preference for large, colorful and dominant males. “As homosexual behavior is regularly seen in small P.mexicana males, we speculate that it might represent an alternative mating tactic used by subordinate, and thus, less attractive males, the University of Frankfurt researchers wrote. And they cited a quote attributed to US filmmaker Woody Allen that “bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night”. “Direct benefits for males of exhibiting homosexual behavior may help explain its occurrence and persistence in species in which females rely on mate choice copying as one component of mate quality assessment,” said the study. While exclusive male homosexuality has been shown only in humans, sheep and some birds, bisexual behavior is quite common in the animal kingdom. — AFP



health & science

Americans ‘living longer’, with unhealthy lifestyles Gains in life expectancy contrast with unhealthy behaviors NEW YORK: Americans have longer, but not necessarily healthier, lives due to high rates of preventable chronic disease, according to an annual report on the nation’s health released on Tuesday. Gains in life expectancy contrast with Americans’ unhealthy behaviors, which have led to a 28 percent adult obesity rate, a diabetes rate of nearly 10 percent and a high blood pressure rate of more than 30 percent, according to United Health Foundation’s 2012 America’s Health Rankings. All three conditions are considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Since 1990, premature

deaths have declined by 18 percent, cardiovascular deaths have fallen 35 percent, and cancer deaths have slipped by 8 percent, the report said. Americans’ life expectancy was 78.5 years in 2009, 1.7 years above the level in 2000, the report said. “As a nation, we’ve made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health,” said Dr Reed Tuckson, a medical adviser at the United Health Foundation and chief of medical affairs at the UnitedHealth Group. Among the 24 different metrics involved in calculating the nation’s health are a variety of

factors such as smoking, violent crime and a lack of health insurance. The report, now in its 23rd year, incorporates data from the Centers for Disease Control and the US Census Bureau as well as the FBI, among other sources. Vermont was found to be the healthiest US state thanks in part to a low incidence of infectious diseases, a low violent crime rate and a high rate of health insurance among its residents. Mississippi and Louisiana were found to be the unhealthiest states because of a high prevalence of obesity, diabetes and a low birth weight among infants, among other factors. —Reuters

Toothy prehistoric lizard named Obamadon gracilis WASHINGTON: Researchers have named a newly discovered, prehistoric lizard “Obamadon gracilis” in honor of the 44th president’s toothy grin. The small, insect-eating lizard was first discovered in eastern Montana in 1974, but a recent re-examination showed the fossil had been wrongly classified as a Leptochamops denticulatus and was in fact a new species, researchers told Reuters on Tuesday. Obamadon gracilis was one of nine newly discovered species reported on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In naming the new species, scientists from Yale and Harvard universities combined the Latin

“Obamadon” for “Obama’s teeth” and “gracilis,” which means slender. “The lizard has these very tall, straight teeth and Obama has these tall, straight incisors and a great smile,” said Nick Longrich, a paleontologist at the school in New Haven, Connecticut. It was believed to have lived during the Cretaceous period, which began 145.5 million years ago. Along with many dinosaurs from that era, the lizard died out about 65 million years ago when a giant asteroid struck earth, scientists say. Longrich said he waited until after the recent US election to name the lizard. “It would look like we were kicking him when he’s down if he lost and we named this extinct lizard after

him,” he said in an interview. “Romneydon” was never under consideration and “Clintondon” didn’t sound good, said Longrich, who supported Hillary Clinton’s failed run against Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. Obama is not the first politician whose name has been used to help classify organisms. Megalonyxx jeffersonii, an extinct species of plant-eating ground sloth, was named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, an amateur paleontologist who studied the mammal. Earlier this year, researchers announced they had named five newly identified species of freshwater perch after Obama, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy

Carter and Theodore Roosevelt. In 2005, entomologists named three species of North American slime-mold beetles agathidium bushi, agathidium cheneyi and agathidium rumsfeldi in honor of George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld - the US president, vice president and secretary of defense at the time. Other celebrity names also have been used to name new species. A small Caribbean crustacean has been named after reggae icon Bob Marley, an Australian horsefly has been named in honor of hip-hop star Beyonce, and an endangered species of marsh rabbit has been named after Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner. —Reuters

GALAPAGOS PINZON: A member of the Galapagos Park staff holds an owl believed to have been fatally poisoned from eating rat bait placed by staff to help eradicate the rodent population, in the Galapagos Pinzon Island, Ecuador. The unique species that make the Galapagos Islands a treasure for scientists and tourists must be preserved, Ecuadorean authorities say - and that means the rats must die, hundreds of millions of them. The invasive Norway and black rats, introduced by whalers and buccaneers beginning in the 17th century, feed on the eggs and hatchlings of the islands’ native species, which include giant tortoises, lava lizards, snakes, hawks and iguanas. —AP

Brazil moves to calm mad cow disease fears BRASILIA: Brazil, the world’s top beef meat exporter, sought Tuesday to calm fears over the discovery of an atypical case of mad cow disease that led Japan to suspend its imports. The case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was detected in an animal that died in 2010 in the southern state of Parana. “The case poses no risk whatsoever to public health or to animal hygiene, since the animal did not die from the disease mentioned and was buried on the property,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement. “Brazil does not have cases of BSE.” Still Japan, a small importer of Brazilian meat, halted its imports, prompting Brazilian authorities to seek clarification. “We received explanations from the (Brazilian) Agriculture Ministry and immediately relayed them to Tokyo,” Kentaro Morita,

a diplomat at the Japanese embassy in Brasilia said. He added that the Japanese government was now “analyzing the situation” to determine the next steps. The agriculture ministry launched a “preventive action” to preempt similar measures by key importers. “We are in touch with countries to reaffirm that the atypical case of the disease carries no risk for exports,” it added. Authorities said the World Organization for Animal Health had been notified of the case and in response indicated it was “maintaining Brazil’s status as a country with an insignificant risk of BSE, the best existing risk classification.” With nearly 200 million head of cattle, Brazil is the leading beef meat exporter and Russia its main customer. —AFP




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Youth Chorus Christmas Carol ellifluous and timeless Christmas carols will be rendered at the Sixteenth Annual Christmas Carol program on Thursday, 20th of December 2012 at the Indian Central School Auditorium, Abbasiya by 6.00pm. It is organized by the Youth Chorus. Choirs from various churches in Kuwait, Youth Chorus, United Indian School, Indian Central School and Indian Public School will usher in the spirit of Christmas at the three hour long Christmas Carol service with a wide repertoire of classic Christmas Carols. Respected Bishops, Priests and Elders of the different churches will attend and lead the program. The prizes of the International Bible Quest Examination 2012 and prizes of the Seventh Group Song Competitions will be distributed on the occasion. Youth Chorus welcomes one and all to join this wonderful celebration. Youth Chorus feel elated to invite you to the 16th Christmas Celebration which will be held on Thursday, 20th December 2012at 06:15 p.m. at the Indian Central School Auditorium, Abbasiya.


GUST, MEGlobal, PIC, DOW collaborate on business symposium for students he Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) hosted a business symposium entitled “Convergence: When West Meets Middle East.” This program was sponsored by MEGlobal, which is a joint venture between PIC and Dow Chemical Company. The symposium was open to all students and aimed at those enrolled in business programs in Kuwait, as well as to faculty. The speakers at the event were Dr. Robert Cook, VP of Academic Affairs, who welcomed the audience encompassing VIPs, executives, MBA students, undergraduates and faculty from all universities in Kuwait. Dr. Cook formally welcomed the speakers as well and thanked them for the opportunity and knowledge they are giving the students. The first speaker was Dr. Lee Caldwell, Dean of the


GUST College of Business Administration, who spoke about how the relationship between GUST and MEGlobal evolved in the past year. Ms. Maha Mulla Hussain, Chairperson and Managing Director of PIC, then talked about the evolution of MEGlobal; how the partnership between DOW and PIC started, and how it has expanded since its inception. Following her speech, Dr. John P. Hayes, the Head of the GUST Department of Business Administration, spoke about his cultural case study on MEGlobal. Ramesh Ramachandran, MEGlobal President and CEO, followed with thoughts pertaining to his international experiences with both Dow and MEGlobal. The final speaker was Mohammad Husain, Equate President and CEO, who spoke about operating joint ventures from a Kuwaiti’s perspective. Finally, after the speeches were completed, the Convergence Panel

answered questions from the audience. The grand finale was a special announcement from Ramachandran: anMEGlobal Case Study Writing Competition. Students in any MBA program in Kuwait, and undergraduates of GUST, are encouraged to form teams and write a case study about MEGlobal. Top prize is $10,000 and a trip to Dubai, while second prize is $5,000 and third prize, $2,500. “This is a great opportunity for Kuwait’s students,” commented Dr. Hayes. “They not only get the opportunity to learn and write about a spectacular company, and to win prize money, but they also have an opportunity to consider MEGlobal as an employer. This experience is invaluable.”

Mais Al-Ghanim takeaway announces winter promotion ais Al-Ghanim announced introducing new items to the takeaway service menu as per a new winter promotion which comes as part of the companies continued offers throughout the year. The new options include the Italiano Kebab dish, served with tomato sauce with Italian herbs and spices, a first-time dish introduced to Mais Al-Ghanim’s takeaway service. The promotion also offers a choice of five different types of Lebanese appetizers, including hummus, Beirut’s hummus, Muhammarah, Mutabbal, Musaka’ah of eggplants, Musaka’ah of squash, Babaganoug, garlic labneh and oil chicory. For seafood lovers, Mais Al-Ghanim’s takeaway service offers a shrimp dish consisting of ten pieces of fried shrimps served with tartar sauce. The promotion also includes healthy food options, including the halloumi salad made with fresh vegetables and grilled halloumi cheese, in addition to our special cheesecake dessert.


Announcements Goan Culinary Club he Goan Culinary Club - Goa encourages you to log on to their website where you can find a video of Odette and Joe Mascarenhas sharing their thoughts on Goan cuisine. These videos were recorded at the launch of the Goan Culinary Club in Goa on March 3, 2012. Thanks to support from all at the Goan Culinary Club, we have made great progress in six months.


Basketball Academy he new Premier Basketball Academy offers coaching and games every Friday and Saturday from 10 am onwards for 6 to 18 year olds, boys and girls. Located in Bayan Block 7, Masjed Al-Aqsa Street by Abdullah Al-Rujaib High School. Free Basketball and Tee Shirts for all participants, with certificates and special awards on completion of each 6 week course. Qualified and experienced British and American Coaches, Everyone Welcome.


Arabic courses WARE will begin Winter 1 Arabic language courses with new textbooks and curricula on from December 2, 2012 until January 24, 2013. AWARE Arabic language courses are designed with the expat in mind. The environment is relaxed & courses are designed for those wanting to learn Arabic for travel, cultural understanding, and conducting business or simply to become more involved in the community. For more information or registration, please log-on to our website.


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

Kala (Art) Niram organizes prize distribution ceremony iram 2012 - B Natural Painting Competition has come to a close upon the distribution of prizes to all winners at a colorful function held at Indian Community School, Khaitan on Friday, 9 December 2012 in the presence of The Ambassador of India to Kuwait, Kerala MLA P C Vishnunath, School Principals, Business personalities and community leaders. The Painting competition titled as “NIRAM 2012 - B Natural “, under the patronage of HE Sathish C Mehta, was held on the occasion of the birthday of late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India. His Excellency inaugurated the function. On his inaugural speech, the Ambassador noted Panditji’s empathy towards children and his vision for India and appreciated the organizers for such programs.


Kala (Art) Kuwait President Samkutty Thomas chaired the function and General Secretary Jaison Joseph welcomed the gathering. The Overall Champion Ship 1st Position was bagged by Fahaheel Alwataniya Indian Private School (DPS), 2nd Position bagged by Indian English School (BVB) Abbasiya and 3rd Position was bagged by Indian Community School, Khaitan. The Panel of Judges Artist Srinivasan, John Mavelikkara, Sasi Krishnan, Deepa Namboothiri, were honored by KALA(Art) Kuwait. A total of 2115 students from 20 Indian schools in Kuwait had entered the competition classified as 4 groups. Accordingly, first prize to each group (total 4 groups), 2nd prize to 8, 3rd prize to 7, Merit Prize to 40 and 152 consolation prizes were distributed. Kala(Art)

Kuwait congratulated all the winners and also thanked all the participants as well as School Managements, sponsors, All Indian Associations, Kuwait’s English dailies, Web Portals and Malayalam Medias for their wholehearted support to make the event a grand success. The List of Winners as follows: - Group-A: Ist Prize- Abdullah Khan, 1st Std, Indian Public School, Hawally; 2nd Prize- Sanskruti Shetye, 1st Std, Indian Community School, Amman; 3rd Prize- Ananth Milan, 1st Std, IESBharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Abbassiya. - Group-B: Ist Prize- Gokul Sunil Sodar, 4th Std, IES-Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Abbassiya; 2nd Prize- Aleena Augustine, 3rd Std, Carmel School; 3rd Prize- Rhea Jacob, 4th Std, Fahaheel AlWataniya Indian Private School (DPS). - Group-C: Ist Prize- Riya Mercy Jacob, 8th Std, Indian Community School, Khaitan; 2nd Prize- Liya Elsa Jacob, 8th Std, Fahaheel Al-Wataniya Indian Private School (DPS), Fleno Thankachan, 6th Std, Indian Community School, Khaitan; 3rd Prize- Amanda Augustine, 7th Std Carmel School. - Group-D: Ist Prize- Flency Thankachan, 9th Std, Indian Community School, Khaitan; 2nd Prize- Juliana Sairah John, 11th Std, IES-Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Abbassiya, Arjun Narayanan Kutty, 10th Std, Indian Community School, Sr Salmiya; 3rd Prize- Dilruba Rukhsana, 10th Std, Gulf Indian School Fahaheel, Aavani Jayaprakash, 9th Std, Indian Community School Khaitan. - Clay Sculpture: Ist Prize- Samreen Jawed 9th Std Indian Community School Khaitan; 2nd Prize - Eyarin Islam Ety 9th Std, IES-Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan Abbassiya; 3rd Prize- Vyshak K Philip, 7th Std, Indian Central School, Abbassiya. - Open Canvas (for Parents & Gusts): Ist Prize- Manikandan; 2nd Prize Dhananjay Vijayrao Sevalkar, 3rd PrizeSunitha R.

TIES Centre programs TIES Center lecture - 19/12/12 by Yousef B. Albader TIES Center is please to invite you to attend a lecture by Reseacher & Author Mr. Yousef B. Albader about The English Lexical Contributions to the Kuwait Arabic. Mr. Albader has published several books including Illustrative Examples in English Advance Learners Dictionaries. The presentation will be followed by questions and answers. If your interested in the topic, the TIES Center is the most appropriate place to visit on Wednesday 19th December 2012 at 6pm to 8pm. TIES Center Arabic Course - 13/01/13 TIES Center is glad to announce the start of Arabic Courses. Starting January 13 and Ending March 7, 2013. We offer classes for all levels from beginners to advance level. TIES Arabic Classes are intended for all expatriates who wish to learn Arabic for whatever purpose - business, basic communication, as a second language or simply as a hobby. Throughout the course the students will learn how to read, write and speak Arabic in a friendly, relaxed and welcoming environment. First Aid at TIES Center TIES Ladies Club invites all ladies to learn the basic life saving techniques in our unique Monthly First Aid Workshops. Do not miss this opportunity as you never know when and where these techniques would be required. Though basic but they might make a significant difference in life. Date: Saturday 12th January 2013 Time 11am to 1pm Call and book a seat now as the number of seats are limited English Course at TIES Center - 9th January 2013 TIES Center announces new English Course Classes from January 9th 2013 to February 13th 2013, every Wednesday 6pm to 8pm. The course would be conducted by an instructor with vast experienced in teaching English Mr. Mohammad Abdullah Cathcart, native English speaker, California\Minnesota accent and TEFL Certified English teacher. The classes would be at TIES Center in Al Shuhada. TIES Center International Bazaar - 19th January 2013 Stop by and have the opportunity to see and even own some international antiques on display and taste the delicious foods on display. Also have your name inscribed in Arabic calligraphy at no cost and have a taste of our Arabic Ice Cream. Various items will be available for sale, such as pashmina shawls, accessories, jewellery, Mexican food, Indian food, Cosmetics, Cookies, Handbags, Traditional Kuwaiti - Style dresses and many more. And there would be a lot of fun for kids such as Bouncy Castle for Kids. All Are Welcome




McDonald’s turns up heat with launch of grand chicken spicy cDonald’s Kuwait today announced the launch of the newest addition to its spicy chicken sandwich range - the Grand Chicken Spicy. For the first time, the sandwich is one of the spiciest chicken products in its range made by McDonald’s Arabia, and has been available for the past week. Customers can look forward to the familiar flavours of a traditional McDonald’s Grand Chicken sandwich - including crispy fresh lettuce and a soft bun with cornmeal topping - but now with two slices of cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, a luscious Dijon sauce, and a deliciously spicy chicken patty to satisfy those craving an extra kick. The Grand Chicken Spicy is the second sandwich in the range, following the Chicken Big Mac ‘Spicy’, which was launched in November of this year. Also currently on offer is McDonald’s’ delicious Spicy Chicken Burger. The introduction of such a bold flavour profile has been very well received since the launch one week ago. George Khawam, Marketing Director of McDonald’s Kuwait explained: “This bold and spicy chicken range marks McDonald’s ongoing commitment to responding to the unique preferences of its loyal clientele, whom - according to research - enjoy foods that pack a punch of spiciness. The spicy chicken sandwich collection is a first for McDonald’s across the


KNES following nutritional guide he Early Years children at Kuwait National English School recently had a visit from a community partner, ìAbbot Nutritionî. The visitors recorded the weight and height of each child and provided them with a nice gift to take home. As part of our focus on Physical Development and Community Partnership we were happy to have this healthy check visit.


region, and indeed a first for our loyal consumers. This exhilarating kick of heat is notably spicier than anything else we have offered on our menu, and we’re delighted to see how well received it has been.” In addition to enjoying the range of sandwiches at McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, customers will have the

be launched by McDonald’s Arabia. People are welcome to submit their entries, with a winner to be announced. McDonald’s is committed to serving the very best, and will not compromise on food quality. All products served at all McDonald’s restaurants in the Middle East are Halal, inspected and approved by


ins splits with his act. Manjit Singh involved the audience with his drolly & humorous laughter punches. He created new ray of hope for Hindi Poetry. The highlight of the show was the unique entry of guest of honor actress Raveena Tandon. She entered among the crowd with stylist promo & introduction by Khan. The stage was glorified when she performed with kids from the Dancing Divas. She appreciated their superb talent as well as ICS efforts towards community.

Event Souvenir was released in her presence by S.C. Mehta & respected sponsors. The ambassador appreciated ICS social contributions & its regular quality entertainment. Suhaani Shaam now turns towards ghazal fragrance while Lavina Rodrigues brought Shamma (eve candle) with young ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh. His melodious voice & perfect musical team generated aroma of ghazal in the atmosphere. Equally excellent & perfect sound-light combination was a complete treat for ghazal lovers. Jaswinder started with

Information EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA The Australian Embassy Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visas and immigration matters in conducted by The Australian Consulate-General in Dubai. Email: (VFS) (Visa Office); Tel: +971 4 355 1958 (VFS) - +971 4 508 7200 (Visa Office); Fax: +971 4 355 0708 (Visa Office). In Kuwait applications can be lodged at the Australian Visa Application Centre 4B 1st Floor, Al-Banwan Building Al-Qibla Area, Ali Al-Salem Street, opposite the Central Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait City, Kuwait. Working hours and days: 09:30 - 17:30; Sunday - Thursday. Or visit their website www.vfs-au-gcc-com for more information. Kuwait citizens can apply for tourist visas on-line at visa/e676.htm. ■■■■■■■

chance to participate in the Unforgettable Firsts application on the McDonald’s Arabia Facebook page. Showcasing an interactive platform and offering participants the chance to contribute to a PanArab McDonald’s television commercial to be screened in 2013, the application is the first of its kind to

local authorities and Halal officers at the countries of export and customs officials at the port of entry. Meat used in McDonald’s restaurants can be traced back to a trusted supplier that shares its dedication to the highest quality standards.

Romantic ghazal evening ndian Cultural Society conducted a romantic ghazal evening with young ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh first time ever in Kuwait on 30th November at the Dr Kamil Al Rays Auditorium. Glamorous silver screen actress Raveena Tandon as well as laughter machine Sardar Manjit Singh were the attraction of the evening. The chief guest of the evening was the Ambassador of India to Kuwait, Satish C. Mehta. Even before the show started, there was an excitement & energy in the air as our audience - young and old alike - rushed into the venue wearing smiles, carrying affable social harmony welcomed by finest ICS executives overriding with enthusiasm hauling ghazal & geet, in styles. The eminent guests present were Juzar Ali Manager (MD- Wadisakeef), Greg Almeida( DR-Radisson Blu), Asad Khan (GM- KSCC ), Aijaz Ahmed (MDSahara ACC), A R Tariq (GM-KBE), Kamal Hussain ( GM-Kuwait Cont.) N. Malhotra (MD- Z & M), Narendra Jehani (Manager Taal & Dawat), Sharif Rangrez (Eternity Travels), Alkesh Thakkar (MD- Crescent Gen Trd) with Minhaj Shikari & Murtaza P. The show was anchored by the exemplary President of Indian Cultural Society Ashfaque A Khan in his customary style. The main show kicked off with a singing performance by Kaisar Ali creating a perfect mood for the evening followed by great satirical poet Manjit Singh. A crowd pleaser with the perfect combination of Hindi poetry in laughter machine, a laugh riot caused by funny man Manjit Singh who had the crowd


“Yoon to Kya Kya Nazar Nahi Aata” than his popular composition “Dil Ko Thama, Unka Daman Tham Ke, Mere Dono Hanth, Nikle Kaam Ke” and indulging the audience in his intoxicating. He sang series of ghazal like “Jo Kisi Par Fida Nahi Hota”, “Dil e Nada Tujhe Hua Kya Hai”, “Tumko Dekha to Ye Khayal Aaya”, “Phir Gulabon Ka Mausam Khila Hai- Phir Koi Yaad Aane Laga Hai”, “Jab Kaali Ghata Chhaye..Barsat Ke Mausam Mein- Peene Ka Maza Aaye..Barsat Ke Mausam Mein”, “ La Peela Raat Bhr Saqeeya- Kal Ki Kisko

Khabar Saqeeya” etc. Audiences were spell bound by the magical voice when he sang ghazal dedicated to Maa (mother) “Sakht Raahon Mein, Aasan Safar Lagta Hai- Ye Meri Maa Ki Duaon Ka, Asar Lagta Hai”. The singing session became more entertaining when he sang request from ghazal lovers including Punjabi numbers & Bhangra. Little Safa Khan also presented soulful semi classical ghazal (Woh Chup Rahe To Mere Dil Ke Daagh Jalte Hain) with Jaswinder Singh & Raveena cheered her with guest & audience. Raveena

could not stop & performed on Sufi style of Sufi song “Damaa Dam Mast Kalander” by Jaswinder. He also gave tribute to ghazal king Mahdi Hasan & Jagjit Singh by some popular ghazals. The guests were gifted memento & gift hampers by Sahara & ICS. The ICS president expressed his gratitude to all executives of ICS, volunteers, event supporters, Sponsors as well as special thanks to Varghese Paul(Sound Engg)), S.Philip & Anand( Light -Video) Huzaifa Padlandi (Director- German Press), Harry & Michael (Catering- Royal Plaza) Rashid Sheikh for auditorium services, Anwar Sadath & Shahzad Ahmed for still photography. Khan also expressed his thanks to the media & press. The show concluded with audience singing along & desiring for more. The hard work of the ICS team & quality entertainment on time is becoming a model for live programmers in Kuwait. Entire ICS team has put on maximum efforts to make this event successful among them are General Secretary Khaliq Zama & PR Manager Anwar Raja, Event Manager Shagufta Khan, Creative head Lavina Rodrigues & Shameem Dhanse, Communication in charge Anoop Kumar & Abazar Badshah, Hospitality executives Mukeem Chauhan, M Karjikar, SK Banwari, Rubina Sheikh, Awais Khan, Shahzad Choudhry, Sunita Seth, Kanchan Banwari, Dipak Seth, Dr. N. Dheer, Transport in charge Shamim Ahmed & Aurangzeb, security control by Sampat ( Al Lewaa Security) & apex control by senior advisor P B Pinto. ICS is committed to bring more excitement in future & forthcoming event will be on 12th April 2013.

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Canadian Embassy in Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visa and immigration matters including enquiries is conducted by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE Individuals who are interested in working, studying, visiting or immigrating to Canada should contact the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, website: or, E-mail: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, Al-Mutawakei St, Block 4 in Da’aiyah. Please visit our website at The Embassy of Canada is open from 7:30 to 15:30 Sunday through Thursday. The reception is closed for lunch from 12:30 to 13:00. Consular services for Canadian citizens are provided from 09:00 until 12:00, Sunday through Wednesday. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF CYPRUS In its capacity as EU Local Presidency in the State of Kuwait, the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus, on behalf of the Member States of the EU and associated States participating in the Schengen cooperation, would like to announce that as from 2nd October 2012 all Schengen States’ Consulates in Kuwait will use the Visa Information System (VIS). The VIS is a central database for the exchange of data on short-stay (up to three months) visas between Schengen States. The main objectives of the VIS are to facilitate visa application procedures and checks at external border as well as to enhance security. The VIS will contain all the Schengen visa applications lodged by an applicant over five years and the decisions taken by any Schengen State’s consulate. This will allow applicants to establish more easily the lawful use of previous visas and their bona fide status. For the purpose of the VIS, applicants will be required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and digital photos) when applying for a Schengen visa. It is a simple and discreet procedure that only takes a few minutes. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the Schengen visa application form, will be recorded in the VIS central database. Therefore, as from 2nd October 2012, first-time applicants will have to appear in person when lodging the application, in order to provide their fingerprints. For subsequent applications within 5 years the fingerprints can be copied from the previous application file in the VIS. The Cypriot Presidency would like to assure the people of Kuwait and all its permanent citizens that the Member States and associated States participating in the Schengen cooperation, have taken all necessary technical measures to facilitate the rapid examination and the efficient processing of visa applications and to ensure a quick and discreet procedure for the implementation of the new VIS. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF KENYA The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya wishes to inform the Kenyan community residents throughout Kuwait and the general public that the Embassy has acquired new office telephone numbers as follows: 25353982, 25353985 - Consular’s enquiries 25353987 - Fax Our Email address: ■■■■■■■

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, Al-Salaam 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, ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF UKRAINE The Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Kuwait would like to remind that the external polling station No 90046 was created in the Embassy’s premises at the following address: Hawalli, Jabriya, bl.10, str. 6, build. 5. The working hours of the polling station: Sunday from 13.00 to 17.00 pm; Monday from 13.00 to 17.00 pm; Tuesday from 13.00 to 17.00 pm; Wednesday from 13.00 to 17.00 pm; Thursday from 13.00 to 17.00 pm; Friday from 10.00 to 13.00 pm; Saturday from 10.00 to 13.00 pm On October 28, 2012 the working hours of the polling station from 8.00 am to 20.00 pm. Please be advised to refer to the Embassy to check your data in the Electoral Register as well as to pick up your personal invitation from the polling station if you did not receive the document by post.



00:50 01:45 02:35 03:25 04:15 05:05 05:55 06:20 06:45 07:10 07:35 08:00 08:25 Baker 09:15 10:10 11:05 12:00 12:55 13:50 14:15 14:45 15:40 16:35 17:00 17:30 17:55 18:25 18:50 19:20 20:15 20:40 21:10 21:35 22:05 23:00 23:55

Animal Cops Philadelphia Killer Jellyfish Untamed & Uncut Wildest Islands Biggest And Baddest Africa’s Super Seven Call Of The Wildman Cheetah Kingdom RSPCA: On The Frontline RSPCA: On The Frontline Wildlife SOS International The Really Wild Show Weird Creatures With Nick Dogs 101 Too Cute! Africa’s Super Seven Animal ER Gator Boys Wildlife SOS Bondi Vet Animal Cops Philadelphia Africa’s Super Seven Cheetah Kingdom The Really Wild Show Extraordinary Dogs Extraordinary Dogs Bondi Vet Bondi Vet Dogs 101 Monkey Life Bondi Vet Call Of The Wildman Cheetah Kingdom Great Savannah Race Austin Stevens Adventures Into The Pride

00:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 00:45 Come Dine With Me 01:35 Antiques Roadshow 02:25 10 Years Younger 03:15 10 Years Younger 04:05 Eating With The Enemy 04:50 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 05:35 Celebrity MasterChef 06:00 Saturday Kitchen 06:30 Eating With The Enemy 07:15 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 08:00 MasterChef Australia 08:50 MasterChef Australia 09:15 10 Years Younger 10:05 10 Years Younger 10:55 Bargain Hunt 11:40 Antiques Roadshow 12:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 13:20 Come Dine With Me 14:10 Baking Made Easy 14:35 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 15:00 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 15:25 Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets 15:50 Bargain Hunt 16:35 Antiques Roadshow 17:30 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 18:10 Come Dine With Me 19:00 New Scandinavian Cooking With Andreas Viestad 19:30 New Scandinavian Cooking With Andreas Viestad 19:55 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey 20:45 Come Dine With Me 21:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

00:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 00:30 Hardtalk 01:00 BBC World News America 01:30 BBC World News America 02:00 Newsday 02:30 Asia Business Report 02:45 Sport Today 03:00 Newsday 03:30 Asia Business Report 03:45 Sport Today 04:00 Newsday

04:30 Asia Business Report 04:45 Sport Today 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Asia Business Report 05:45 Sport Today 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 Asia Business Report 06:45 Sport Today 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 Hardtalk 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 BBC World News 10:00 BBC World News 10:30 World Business Report 10:45 BBC World News 11:00 BBC World News 11:30 World Business Report 11:45 BBC World News 12:00 BBC World News 12:30 Hardtalk 13:00 BBC World News 13:30 World Business Report 13:45 BBC World News 14:00 BBC World News 14:30 BBC World News 15:00 GMT With George Alagiah 15:30 GMT With George Alagiah 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 BBC Focus On Africa 21:00 BBC World News 21:30 World Business Report 21:45 Sport Today 22:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 22:30 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 23:00 BBC World News 23:30 World Business Report 23:45 Sport Today

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Taz-Mania Pink Panther And Pals Moomins Tom & Jerry Kids A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Puppy In My Pocket Wacky Races Looney Tunes Duck Dodgers Dastardly And Muttley Dexter’s Laboratory Wacky Races Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Moomins Looney Tunes Tom & Jerry Tales Dexter’s Laboratory Baby Looney Tunes Jelly Jamm Gerald McBoing Boing Bananas In Pyjamas Ha Ha Hairies Tom & Jerry Kids A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Puppy In My Pocket Wacky Races Looney Tunes Duck Dodgers Popeye Top Cat The Flintstones Dastardly And Muttley Ha Ha Hairies Gerald McBoing Boing Jelly Jamm Baby Looney Tunes Bananas In Pyjamas Moomins Dexter’s Laboratory Johnny Bravo Tom & Jerry Pink Panther And Pals The Garfield Show What’s New Scooby Doo?

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Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry Tales The Looney Tunes Show Taz-Mania Pink Panther And Pals Moomins The Garfield Show Ha Ha Hairies Gerald McBoing Boing Jelly Jamm Baby Looney Tunes Cartoonito Tales Puppy In My Pocket The Garfield Show What’s New Scooby Doo? Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry Tales The Looney Tunes Show

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 01:55 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 02:45 Foster’s Home For... 03:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 04:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 04:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Powerpuff Girls 05:40 Generator Rex 06:05 Ben 10 06:30 Ben 10 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Cow & Chicken 07:30 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 Eliot Kid 08:45 Johnny Test 09:05 The Powerpuff Girls 09:55 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 10:20 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 10:45 Courage The Cowardly Dog 11:35 Adventure Time 12:00 Regular Show 12:25 Transformers Prime 12:50 Ben 10: Omniverse 13:15 Courage The Cowardly Dog 14:05 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 14:30 Young Justice 14:55 Codename: Kids Next Door 15:45 Ben 10: Alien Force 16:10 Ben 10: Alien Force 16:35 Powerpuff Girls 17:00 Angelo Rules 17:20 Young Justice 17:40 Hero 108 18:00 Level Up 18:25 The Amazing World Of Gumball 18:50 Johnny Test 19:15 Adventure Time 19:40 Regular Show 20:05 Green Lantern: The Animated Series 20:30 Ben 10: Omniverse 20:55 Generator Rex 21:20 Level Up 21:45 Grim Adventures Of... 22:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 23:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

00:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson 01:00 Amanpour 01:30 World Sport 02:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 03:00 World Report 03:30 World Sport 04:00 Anderson Cooper 360 05:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 06:00 Quest Means Business 07:00 The Situation Room 08:00 World Sport 08:30 Talk Asia 09:00 World Report 10:00 World Report 11:00 World Sport 11:30 Business Traveller 12:00 World Business Today 13:00 Amanpour 13:30 Mainsail 14:00 World One


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Piers Morgan Tonight News Stream World Business Today International Desk Global Exchange CNN Marketplace Middle East World Sport Mainsail International Desk Quest Means Business CNN Marketplace Europe Amanpour CNN Newscenter

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Dynamo: Magician Impossible Mythbusters Mythbusters Mythbusters Border Security Dirty Money Auction Hunters How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made River Monsters Wheeler Dealers Mythbusters Ultimate Survival Border Security Dirty Money How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made Dynamo: Magician Impossible Mythbusters Mythbusters Border Security Dirty Money Auction Hunters Ultimate Survival Wheeler Dealers River Monsters Mythbusters How Stuff’s Made How It’s Made Border Security Dirty Money Auction Hunters American Guns Cook County Jail Manhunt: Search For A Killer

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The Gadget Show The Tech Show Race To Mars Meteorite Men Thunder Races Mean Green Machines The Future Of... How Do They Do It? How Do They Do It? The Gadget Show The Tech Show Race To Mars Meteorite Men The Future Of... Head Rush Things That Move How Stuff’s Made How Do They Do It? How Do They Do It? Engineered Thunder Races The Gadget Show The Tech Show Meteorite Men The Future Of... Mean Green Machines How Do They Do It? How Do They Do It? Head Rush Patent Bending How Stuff’s Made Engineered Race To Mars Thunder Races Bang Goes The Theory Bang Goes The Theory Killer Outbreaks The Gadget Show The Tech Show Bang Goes The Theory Bang Goes The Theory Killer Outbreaks

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Fish Hooks Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Doc McStuffins Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck A.N.T Farm A.N.T. Farm Jessie Jessie A.N.T Farm Good Luck Charlie Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Shake It Up Shake It Up Phineas And Ferb Phineas And Ferb Doc McStuffins Doc McStuffins Fish Hooks Jessie Jessie A.N.T Farm A.N.T Farm Wizards Of Waverly Place Shake It Up Austin And Ally Shake It Up Shake It Up Geek Charming Fish Hooks Phineas And Ferb A.N.T Farm Good Luck Charlie Jessie That’s So Raven Cory In The House Kim Possible Hannah Montana Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Fish Hooks Fish Hooks

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

Style Star THS THS Behind The Scenes Extreme Close-Up THS THS THS Behind The Scenes E! News Khloe And Lamar Khloe And Lamar THS E! News Opening Act Kourtney & Kim Take New

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

Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Reel Crime/Real Story I Almost Got Away With It Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Disappeared Killer Outbreaks Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? True Crime With Aphrodite

Kourtney & Kim Take New Style Star E!es Behind The Scenes Married To Jonas Married To Jonas E! News E!es Opening Act Married To Jonas Fashion Police E! News Chelsea Lately Dirty Soap

Murder Shift Disappeared Killer Outbreaks Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives True Crime With Aphrodite Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? Murder Shift Disappeared Forensic Detectives Street Patrol On The Case With Paula Zahn Who On Earth Did I Marry? Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Great Crimes And Trials Great Crimes And Trials Cuff Me If You Can

01:15 Arabian Nights 03:25 Midnight Witness 04:55 Stone Cold 06:25 The Setup 07:55 New York, New York 10:35 Timestalkers 12:10 Mgm’s Big Screen 12:25 A Man Called Sarge 13:55 Till There Was You 15:25 Report To The Commissioner 17:15 Rage (1992) 18:50 Futureworld 20:35 A Dog’s Breakfast 22:00 The Hound Of The Baskervilles 23:25 Where Angels Fear To Tread

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Food School Long Way Down Meet The Amish Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Ultimate Traveller The Green Way Up The Green Way Up David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 4 David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 4 Food School Food School Long Way Down Meet The Amish Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Bondi Rescue Ultimate Traveller Earth Tripping Market Values One Man & His Campervan Exploring The Vine Food School Food School Amish: Out of Order Meet The Amish Bondi Rescue: Bali Bondi Rescue: Bali Bondi Rescue: Bali Bondi Rescue: Bali Ultimate Traveller Food School Food School One Man & His Campervan Exploring The Vine Earth Tripping Market Values David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 4 David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 4

00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00

Ancient Megastructures Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Sea Patrol Situation Critical Predator CSI Hooked Big, Bigger, Biggest Ancient Megastructures Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Hooked Situation Critical Predator CSI

BIG FAT LIAR ON OSN CINEMA 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Hooked Big, Bigger, Biggest Ancient Megastructures Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Is It Real? S3 (1 hour) Nomads Fight Masters Jurassic C.S.I. One Ocean Big, Bigger, Biggest

00:00 01:00 01:55 02:50 03:45 04:40 05:35 06:30 07:25 08:20 09:15 10:10 11:05 12:00 13:00 14:00 Hour) 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Hunter Hunted Predator Battleground The Living Edens Unlikely Animal Friends Animal Superpowers World’s Deadliest Kingdom of The Oceans The Living Edens Unlikely Animal Friends Animal Superpowers Dangerous Encounters Fish Warrior Hunter Hunted Dragon Chronicles Wild Russia And Man Created Dog (1

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 PG15 10:00 12:00 PG15 14:00 PG15 16:00 18:00 PG15 20:00 22:00

Beneath The Darkness-PG15 Gridlock’d-18 The Heavy-18 Top Gun-PG15 True Justice: Brotherhood-

01:00 03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

City Rats-18 Feed The Fish-PG15 Honey 2-PG15 Elevator Girl-PG15 Feed The Fish-PG15 Honey 2-PG15 Big Fat Liar-PG Ways To Live Forever-PG15 Spud-PG15 Season Of The Witch-PG15 Larry Crowne-PG15 Dirty Girl-18

Animal Superpowers Shark Gangs Monster Fish Hunter Hunted The Living Edens Unlikely Animal Friends Animal Superpowers Dangerous Encounters Fish Warrior

Battle: Los Angeles-PG15 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle-

Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:30 Veep 23:00 The League 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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

The Glades Hawthorne Smash The Tudors Touch Warehouse 13 The Glades Emmerdale Coronation Street White Collar Smash Hawthorne Touch Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show White Collar The Glades Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Criminal Minds Touch The X Factor U.S. Smash The Tudors

01:00 Alien Resurrection-18 03:00 Seventh Moon-18 05:00 Returner-PG15 07:00 The Warlords-PG15 09:00 True Justice: Dark VengeancePG15 11:00 Returner-PG15 13:00 Warriors Of Heaven And Earth-PG15 15:00 True Justice: Dark VengeancePG15 17:00 The Eagle-PG15 19:00 Constantine-PG15 21:00 Survival Of The Dead-18 23:00 D.E.B.S-18

04:30 Turtle Hero: Part II-FAM 06:00 The Adventures Of Don Quixote-FAM 08:00 The Three Bears: The Amazing Adventurers-FAM 10:00 The Wild Thornberrys MoviePG 11:30 Moomins And The Comet Chase-FAM 13:00 Return To Halloweentown-PG 14:30 The Adventures Of Tintin-PG 16:15 The Smurfs-PG 18:00 The Wild Thornberrys MoviePG 20:00 Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back-PG 21:45 The Smurfs-PG 23:30 Moomins And The Comet Chase-FAM

02:00 Rugby Union Varsity 04:00 Twenty20 Big Bash League 07:00 Pool Mosconi Cup 11:00 Futbol Mundial 11:30 Live Twenty20 Big Bash League 14:30 PGA Championship 19:30 Twenty20 Big Bash League 22:45 Live European Challenge Cup

02:00 Trans World Sport 03:00 PGA European Tour Weekly 04:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 05:00 Live Australian PGA Championship 10:00 Trans World Sport 11:00 Volvo Ocean Race Highlights 12:30 Futbol Mundial 13:00 ICC Cricket 360 13:30 PGA European Tour Weekly 14:30 Live PGA European Tour 18:30 NFL Game Day 19:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 20:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 21:00 Trans World Sport 22:00 Live Pool Mosconi Cup

True Justice: BrotherhoodKull The Conqueror-PG15 Charlie’s Angels: Full ThrottleHomecoming-18 The Perfect Host-PG15

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 02:00 Veep 02:30 The League 03:00 How I Met Your Mother 04:00 Samantha Who? 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Samantha Who? 08:30 How I Met Your Mother 10:00 Modern Family 10:30 The Office 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:30 Samantha Who? 14:30 The Office 15:00 Modern Family 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 How I Met Your Mother 18:30 30 Rock 19:00 Two And A Half Men 19:30 The Office 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00 PG15

A Little Help-18 Eurotrip-18 Morning Glory-PG15 Envy-PG15 Scooby-Doo-PG Jumping The Broom-PG15 Morning Glory-PG15 Say Anything-PG15 Jumping The Broom-PG15 Life As We Know It-PG15 No Strings Attached-18 The Secret Of My Success-

01:00 02:45 04:30 06:45 09:00 11:45 13:30 15:00 17:45 19:30 21:15 23:00

Fear-18 Yelling To The Sky-U Up Close And Personal-PG Glorious 39-PG15 The Insider-PG15 Blind Mountain-PG15 Ice Dreams-PG15 The Insider-PG15 Espions-PG15 Shanghai-PG15 Body Of Evidence-R Ironclad-18

01:00 Yelling To The Sky-U 03:00 Treasure Buddies-PG 05:00 Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story-PG 07:00 Certain Prey-PG15 09:00 Dear John-PG15 11:00 Footloose-PG15 13:00 Unanswered Prayers-PG15 15:00 Gulliver’s Travels-PG 16:45 Dear John-PG15 18:45 Fast Five-PG15 21:00 Larry Crowne-PG15 23:00 Bridesmaids-18

01:00 Winner & The Golden Child: Part II-FAM 02:45 The Adventures Of Tintin-PG

00:00 03:30 04:30 05:30 06:00 06:30 07:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 12:30 13:00 14:00 14:30 17:30 21:30 22:00 23:00 23:30

Snooker UK Championship Golfing World Ladies European Highlights FEI Equestrian World Spirit of a Champion Spirit of a Champion Golfing World European Challenge Cup Rugby Union Varsity Match Total Rugby Asian Tour Golf Golfing World FEI Equestrian World Fukuoka Marathon Snooker UK Championship Ladies European Highlights Golfing World FEI Equestrian World Trans World Sport

02:00 03:00 07:00 09:00 10:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00

UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC Unleashed WWE SmackDown V8 Supercars V8 Supercars WWE Experience WWE Vintage WWE Bottom Line V8 Supercars V8 Supercars V8 Supercars European Le Mans Series WWE NXT UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC The Ultimate Fighter

01:30 03:05 04:40 06:20 08:00 09:50 11:30 13:10 15:05 16:35 18:35 21:05 23:00

Savage Messiah-18 Penelope-FAM Three Little Words-FAM The Rack-PG Tortilla Flat-FAM Penelope-FAM Hotel Paradiso-PG Young Bess-FAM Viva Las Vegas-FAM Ten Thousand Bedrooms-PG The Comedians-PG Clash Of The Titans All Fall Down

Classifieds THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2012

ACCOMMODATION Sharing accommodation in Salmiya behind Mercedes showroom only single Pilipina lady in a master bedroom. Tel: 97751739. 11-12-2012

MATRIMONIAL 32 years Roman Catholic boy 5’7” working as a private nurse invites proposals from God fearing and well educated girls. Email: (C 4250) 13-12-2012

FOR SALE Toyota Camry model 2011 GLX full option with sunroof km done 27,000, white metallic color, registration till 11-6-2014 (installment possible) cash price KD 4750. Tel: 66507741. (C 4244) 11-12-2012

Pentecostal parents invite proposals for their daughter 26, 5’4”, MSc Biochemistry working in Kuwait, from professionally qualified boys. Please send detailed profiles with photos to 12-12-2012

SITUATION VACANT Required driver for a Kuwaiti family, 3 years experience, Kuwaiti driving license. Salary KD 100. Call 99304076. (C 4245) Required maid for a Kuwaiti family, experience in Kuwait for three months. Call 99304076. (C 4246) 10-12-2012 CHANGE OF NAME I, JUDE D’COSTA holder of Indian Passport No: F1450021 hereby change my name to JUDE DA COS-

TA. (C 4247) I, VENKAPA REDDY Indian Passport No: F8461897, embraced Islam, so I change my name MUSTAFA REDDY. (C 4248) 11-12-2012


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

112 Prayer timings

Fajr: Shorook Duhr: Asr: Maghrib: Isha:

No: 15656

05:08 06:33 11:42 14:32 16:51 18:13




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

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


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s ta rs CROSSWORD 37

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) If you are working overtime tonight, you will find yourself taking a few minutes to take in a deep breath and view the lights of the city from your window with renewed appreciation. You meditate a bit and then scurry around to complete the necessary work that has kept you late. There will be extra money for those of you working late or working night jobs, technical jobs or jobs in research. Those of you that are single or young couples and are not working in the evening may want to consider some volunteer work. You could find you and your family members preparing to help in a nursing home, religious group or scout expedition. You will make a positive difference in other people’s lives. Find some time to convene with nature tonight.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) You may wish to express more intellectual self-confidence at this time. Don’t be afraid to speak up, particularly if you can make life easier, or easier to understand for someone else. This may take the form of training or leading others, short trips and visits, or intellectual competition. Taking time to give others your attention will be doubly returned to you. Develop your power of positive thinking and speech. Your personal charm increases during this time. You tend to take more initiative in social situations and teamwork. A young person concerns you this evening. You may try to talk him or her into backing off a little with a new love relationship. The problem may be that the magic of our first love is in thinking that it can never end—easy does it.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. A dark-skinned member of a race of people living in Australia when Europeans arrived. 4. A formal written defense of something you believe in strongly. 12. The residue that remains when something is burned. 15. An ancient Hebrew unit of capacity equal to 10 baths or 10 ephahs. 16. Moths whose larvae are cutworms. 17. Mature female of mammals of which the male is called `buck'. 18. The month following July and preceding September. 19. Hard white substance covering the crown of a tooth. 20. Soreness and warmth caused by friction. 22. (informal) Exceptionally good. 24. Using speech rather than writing. 25. Relating to the deepest parts of the ocean (below 6000 meters). 26. A former copper coin of Pakistan. 27. Being one more than one hundred. 28. (often plural) A command given by a superior (e.g., a military or law enforcement officer) that must be obeyed. 30. An island in the West Indies. 32. Greek mythology. 36. A minute vein continuous with a capillary. 40. The syllable naming the fourth (subdominant) note of the diatonic scale in solmization. 42. Type genus of the Ranidae. 43. A native or inhabitant of Iran. 46. Morally bad or wrong. 47. Support resembling the rib of an animal. 48. Bake (eggs) in their shells until they are set. 49. An inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others. 50. Fruit of the oak tree. 52. A state in midwestern United States. 55. A chronic progressive nervous disorder involving loss of myelin sheath around certain nerve fibers. 56. The mints. 59. Emblem usually consisting of a rectangular piece of cloth of distinctive design. 61. A highly unstable radioactive element (the heaviest of the halogen series). 62. Any distracting maneuver (as a mock attack). 63. The capacitance of a capacitor that has an equal and opposite charge of 1 coulomb on each plate and a voltage difference of 1 volt between the plates. 65. A state of extreme confusion and disorder. 68. A unit of power equal to 746 watts. 70. Having a woven pattern. 73. A French abbot. 74. Obvious and dull. 77. An indehiscent fruit derived from a single ovary having one or many seeds within a fleshy wall or pericarp. 78. Contemptuous name for a Black man who is abjectly servile and deferential to Whites. 81. A rotating disk shaped to convert circular into linear motion. 82. The part of the nervous system of vertebrates that controls involuntary actions of the smooth muscles and heart and glands.

83. Give a description of. 84. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. DOWN 1. Jordan's port. 2. An archaic term for a boundary. 3. A fully differentiated structural and functional unit in an animal that is specialized for some particular function. 4. (informal) Of the highest quality. 5. Fudge made with brown sugar and butter and milk and nuts. 6. Type genus of the Otariidae. 7. A Tibetan or Mongolian priest of Lamaism. 8. Nocturnal wildcat of Central and South America having a dark-spotted buff-brown coat. 9. United States liquid unit equal to 4 quarts or 3.785 liters. 10. Being nine more than forty. 11. A city in western Germany near the Dutch and Belgian borders. 12. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 13. An upholstered seat for more than one person. 14. The bottom of a shoe or boot. 21. The capital and largest city of Zimbabwe. 23. A republic on the west coast of Africa. 29. Disparaging terms for the common people. 31. Not only so, but. 33. A setting with precious stones so closely set that no metal shows. 34. Something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained. 35. A town in central Belgium. 37. Any plant of the genus Erica. 38. A wealthy man (who made his fortune in the Orient). 39. 1 species. 41. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 44. A city of central China. 45. Being one more than two. 51. A shoulder firearm with a long barrel and a rifled bore. 53. A short moral story (often with animal characters). 54. Small terrestrial lizard of warm regions of the Old World. 57. The distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound). 58. Relating to or being a member of an ethnic group. 60. A boy or man. 64. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 66. Very dark black. 67. A software system that facilitates the creation and maintenance and use of an electronic database. 69. Queen of England as the 6th wife of Henry VIII (1512-1548). 71. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 72. God of love and erotic desire. 75. An associate degree in applied science. 76. Being two more than fifty. 79. A sliver-white metallic element of the platinum group that resembles platinum. 80. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens.


If you are inclined to start up a business for yourself, then you will begin to make progress in this direction now. Money can become available for higher education and travel. You may want to discuss some future plans for travel or education with a friend or loved one. You may be able to help further someone’s education or finetune a particular skill with a tutor or in special classes. You and your loved one may reevaluate the worldly possessions and make plans to liquidate what is no longer needed. Avoid extravagance or overextending yourself financially. Your family commitments grow and so does your need to act in a supportive role toward family members. If you are looking for a bargain home, this is a good time to look.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Think about ways in which you could improve your job status now. Perhaps a program such as cutting costs or an expansion program is where your ideas can be best applied. Do not, however, give all of your secrets away at once. Results will happen, but probably not right away. This could be a period of great mental activity and a time of planning and networking. There are opportunities to spend money extravagantly—careful. You may be helping family members prepare food this evening and find that you will be shopping in several different stores. A family get-together tonight brings memorable times with loved ones. A sense of support and harmony makes this a happy time. You are appreciative of your own life, surroundings and achievements.

Leo (July 23-August 22) This is a day to listen and think, before answering too quickly. This could save you some embarrassment as well as conflict. Proceed with confidence in your work and enjoy the boost of energies you have been feeling lately. Fussy thinking coworkers are just feeling the stress of the holidays—do not take negative interactions too seriously. External situations cannot hamper your potential to be happy and useful. Investments that seem too-good-to-be-true may just be true; however, hang onto your checkbook. Romance, recreation and creativity take on an inspirational quality this afternoon. Such experiences can be truly soul stirring. A child needs your guidance this evening—you are in a good position to make a positive difference in the child’s life.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Outer circumstances are favorable today for any changes or progress you want to achieve. Things may seem almost magical in the way they work out in your favor, especially in the business world. This is a great time to organize and get things accomplished. Avoid sampling too many different goodies brought into the workplace today—all want to bring their specialties and these may not be low in fat or sugar. Your friends are quite impressive and your political pull with the city council can be useful for next year’s agenda in your community. Tonight you will enjoy activities that include children and young adults. You and your loved one should be experiencing some close times now. There are many opportunities to enjoy each other.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) With your supervision, a new place of business runs smoothly. Others value your ability to make practical decisions concerning organization and productivity issues. You have a natural sense of what the public wants and can display, sell, talk about or answer most any question that arises. Your creative side comes into play this afternoon as you put some finishing touches on a few gifts that you have bought on your way home. Poetry or some sort of art plays a big part in your gift-giving uniqueness. Visiting friends and enjoying parties is the trend for this evening. There could be a temporary relationship in your life that could prove highly enlightening. If you are not married, you may be looking forward to a marriage next year. You could cook a treat.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Your instinct today is to get down to business and complete any unfinished business. You may have a clue that there will be distractions this afternoon before quitting time. A popular name may gain your attention at that time. The progress you have made in your job is beginning to show and others want to know how you manage to balance your time. Might this be a good time to plan a request for an upgrade in your job classification or a raise? After work you might share a little time with a friend. There is much talk about the different animals that can be seen at this time of year. There is an owl family in your neighborhood that usually is not there in the summer. Quality time is available for you this evening.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Leave it all behind and head for the hills! Those are the feelings for the day and why not? You have certainly worked hard enough. Enjoy a drive or long walk during the noon break. This afternoon other people lend you and your project, a helping hand—work moves faster than this morning. This evening you may find that someone has helped you with the holiday plans. If you are traveling—get ready for some fun, relaxed times where a renewal of energies can happen. Everything conspires to value and to bring out your unique and unusual qualities. Emotional security and a sense of belonging and nurturing are felt instinctively now. If you are not traveling there is a sense of intimate connection that will last a lifetime. You find what you need today.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Today you may discover a new interest that keeps your imagination active. This could be a new book or a new sales technique or possibly, a new business venture. You will probably have lots of questions and may find that you are interested in joining a group of motivated individuals in this endeavor. Before dark you may decide to get your bike and take a ride or take a short run, or enjoy some other type of exercise. An instinctive urge to get serious about taking care of you at many levels is emphasized now. If you share in the gift-giving tradition, you may decide to ask for a membership to a spa or some new exercise equipment. Diet and exercise somehow mean more now. There is a romantic surprise this evening and you may be glad it is not food.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) A lack of concentration and impatience could alienate people from your presence early today. Remember that tiny causes can lead to big effects so try and focus. This is a time of insightful changes on the personal level. Perhaps there are changes in your life that include psychological, spiritual or perhaps physical involvement. It is as if you are transforming into a new person. Financial security, enjoying the finer things in life, appreciating and creating things that others long to have are experiences that assume a high priority for you as this year comes to an end. Lay your plans out before you and write about what you want to change, complete or accomplish. Activities that include young people this evening will generate many cheerful memories.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) In the workplace, you could find that you are appreciated for your ability to act and get things done. In-depth discussions and investigations find you at your mental best. You could uncover some facts that will clear the questionable actions of another person. Financial savvy, a practical mind, knowing how to put people, ideas and things together profitably are all qualities that are familiar and important to you—and you have improved. There is a chance to understand those around you. This evening would be a wonderful time to relax with a special friend. A social with friends or family also gets praises. General good feelings and a sense of support and harmony make for a happy holiday celebrations this evening, particularly if that is what you want.

Yesterday’s Solution

Yesterday’s Solution

Daily SuDoku

Yesterday’s Solution


i n f o r m at i o n For labor-related inquiries and complaints: Call MSAL hotline 128 GOVERNORATE Sabah Hospital


Amiri Hospital


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Kaizen center














Abdullah Salem




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Ayoun Al-Qibla




Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

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

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638

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

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

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PRIVATE CLINICS Ophthalmologists Dr. Abidallah Al-Mansoor 25622444 Dr. Samy Al-Rabeea 25752222 Dr. Masoma Habeeb 25321171 Dr. Mubarak Al-Ajmy 25739999 Dr. Mohsen Abel 25757700 Dr Adnan Hasan Alwayl 25732223 Dr. Abdallah Al-Baghly 25732223 Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Dr. Ahmed Fouad Mouner 24555050 Ext 510 Dr. Abdallah Al-Ali 25644660 Dr. Abd Al-Hameed Al-Taweel 25646478 Dr. Sanad Al-Fathalah 25311996 Dr. Mohammad Al-Daaory 25731988 Dr. Ismail Al-Fodary 22620166 Dr. Mahmoud Al-Booz 25651426 General Practitioners Dr. Mohamme Y Majidi 24555050 Ext 123 Dr. Yousef Al-Omar 24719312 Dr. Tarek Al-Mikhazeem 23926920 Dr. Kathem Maarafi 25730465 Dr. Abdallah Ahmad Eyadah 25655528 Dr. Nabeel Al-Ayoobi 24577781 Dr. Dina Abidallah Al-Refae 25333501 Urologists Dr. Ali Naser Al-Serfy 22641534 Dr. Fawzi Taher Abul 22639955 Dr. Khaleel Abidallah Al-Awadi 22616660 Dr. Adel Al-Hunayan FRCS (C) 25313120 Dr. Leons Joseph 66703427 Psychologists /Psychotherapists


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lifestyle G O S S I P

Nick Cannon loves Mariah’s music

after losing her first baby he 29-year-old model - who is now expecting a baby boy with her fiance Wiz Khalifa - was left devastated after they lost their first baby even though it wasn’t planned, which is why the couple initially denied rumors she was pregnant. The rapper told DJ QDeezy on Philadelphia radio station Hot 107.9: “Her first pregnancy was like right before [her current pregnancy], and it was unexpected. “Right when we found out she was pregnant she lost the baby, and she got pregnant again like right around the time we


found out she lost the baby, so that second time when she got pregnant, we didn’t want to say anything about it until after her second trimester and everything.” The ‘Black And Yellow’ hitmaker is now really excited about the birth of their first child. He said: “I can’t wait, every time we go to the doctor, he tells us how healthy the baby is, how perfect her pregnancy has been, and it has just inspired me to be the best dad. I have this little ball of joy coming into the world, I gotta show him right.”


Miley Cyrus devastated after death of her dog

Justin Bieber wants Selena to ‘feel like his princess’ T

he 18-year-old ‘Boyfriend’ singer - who recently rekindled his on-again/off-again relationship with the actress - isn’t worried about going on a huge world tour next year because they are already planning to do everything they can to stay together. A source told “Selena will be making the trips she can when she isn’t working, but June won’t be a problem as he will be in the West Coast (of America).” The couple - who briefly split last month amid reports the 20-year-old beauty felt she couldn’t trust him - are now said to have their romance back on track and Justin has being doing everything he can to make her feel extra special such as lavishing attention on her at the recent Jingle Ball in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania over the weekend. The insider said: “Justin is crazy about Selena. It’s just so obvious with the way he looks at her. Justin had a lot of people wanting to take pictures with him and talk to him at the Jingle Ball ‘meet and greet’ after the show and he just made sure to include Selena in everything-he kept looking at her, smiling at her, they were side by side most of the time. It’s like he really made an effort to make her feel like his princess.”


he ‘Can’t Be Tamed’ singer - who is engaged to ‘The Hunger Games’ actor Liam Hemsworth - announced her beloved pup Lila passed away on Twitter on Tuesday and her heart is broken. The 20-year-old actress wrote: “For everyone asking ... I have never been so hurt in my life. My heart has never been so broken..... Lila my sweet baby girl has passed away. “Broken. Gonna go MIA (Missing In Action) for a bit. Need some healing time. Thank you to everyone who has sent love my way. I need it.” Miley did not indicate the cause of death but the Yorkie was reportedly hospitalised in October for an unknown illness. Miley is a huge fan of dogs and has four other rescue pets with her fiance. Last month it was revealed that she wants a pre-nuptial agreement, which allows her to keep custody of her dogs if they ever split.

Daniel Craig in house-hunting Anne Hathaway predicted she will marry her husband he ‘Les Miserables’ star - who married husband Adam Shulman in September after fours years of dating - claims she knew that if their first date went well, she would marry him. She told ‘ The Late Show With David Letterman’: “I’m married to a nice guy, he’s a producer and a jewelry designer. We met through friends. “It was pretty instant, as soon as I met him I was like what is the deal with that guy, but someone told me had a girlfriend so I backed off. Then six weeks later I found out that he didn’t have a girlfriend so I asked him to come to New Orleans with me. I had a spare ticket. “I said if it goes badly we’ll probably never see each other again, and if it goes well we’ll probably get married.” Anne brushed off new questions about her 25 pound weight loss for the role of Fantine in the movie. When asked how she slimmed down, she said: “Oh you don’t want to know. It would make you worry. It wasn’t so that Fantine would look hot... she dies. It was all to look like she had gotten really, really ill.”


he ‘Skyfall’ actor was recently spotted viewing several homes in the small village of Ramsbury, Wiltshire, South West England, according to the Daily Star newspaper. Local pub barman Simon Titcombe said: “Several customers have told us about him.” The 44-year-old star also owns a home in a low-key part of New York’s East Village and a home in London with his wife, actress Rachel Weisz. The secluded English village would be an idyllic location for


notoriously private Daniel, as it has a population of less than 2,000 people according to the 2001 Census. The James Bond actor can certainly afford to add to his real estate portfolio as it was recently revealed he will earn $49.69 million (£31 million) to portray 007 in two more movies following the success of ‘Skyfall’ this year. The film has taken more than $900 million (£600 million) worldwide to date and has become the highest grossing film of all time in the UK.

it poppin’.” The 31-year-old presenter - who also said the couple would never star in their own reality TV show - previously revealed that his relationship with Mariah is different now they are parents. He said: “We are parents now - it’s a whole different dynamic in the household. It solidifies what a family is all about.” Nick recently revealed he changes the twins’ diapers more often than his famous spouse. When asked who changes the most nappies, Nick replied: “Me! I mean we all do it but for some reason I get that duty a little bit more.

Lindsay Lohan faces up to eight months in jail

Amber Rose devastated

he ‘America’s Got Talent’ presenter - who previously revealed he and his spouse have become even closer since the birth of 11month-old Monroe and Moroccan - has revealed he really enjoys listening to her hit song ‘Hero’ when he gets intimate, even if she isn’t there. He told Howard Stern’s radio show: “Absolutely. When she’s not there. Why Not? “I don’t light candles but sometimes you’ve got to be reminded what’s at home. “Sometimes there are special nights when you turn the music on, sometimes in the morning you roll over and get

he ‘Liz & Dick’ star is tipped to have her probation revoked in court as the case relating to her car crash in June, in which she is accused of lying to police about being the driver, is set to begin and could result in her being sentenced to 245 days behind bars. Law enforcement sources told gossip website that the Los Angeles City Attorney is “out for blood” and they will file papers on Wednesday asking that Lindsay’s probation be revoked. They expect the 26-year-old troubled actress to be formally charged with lying and reckless driving tomorrow, after which the judge is likely to revoke her probation relating to her prior jewelry theft and set a date for a hearing to decide if she violated her probation by breaking the law again. The insider suggested that the hearing will take place at the same time the actress stands trial on the criminal charges, and that even if she is found not guilty in the criminal case, the judge can still rule that she violated her probation.



lifestyle F E A T U R E S

Violence, James Violence? Bond

films more forceful

he fictional James Bond always had a license to kill, and research from New Zealand suggests the suave spy’s movies have gotten more violent through the years. “In fact, they got quite a bit more violent over time,” said Robert Hancox, senior author of a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The concern is that children may watch these and other popular movies, and be exposed to an increasing amount of violence, said Hancox, who is at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. To test whether popular movies that are accessible and marketed to children and teens are showing more violent acts, Hancox and his colleagues analyzed the Bond movie series, which includes 23 films spanning the last 50 years. The researchers watched each Bond movie and counted the number of violent acts, such as one character trying to shoot or punch someone else. They found that the number of violent acts shown on the screen during the first Bond film in 1962 - “Dr No” and the film they analyzed in 2008 - “Quantum of Solace” - more than doubled from 109 to 250, respectively. The increase didn’t come from trivial violence, such as a character slapping someone else, Hancox said. “The change has been in the portrayal of severe violence,” he added, referring to any character punching, kicking or using a weapon. Severe violence


This undated handout file photo shows Daniel Craig as James Bond in the action adventure film, ‘Skyfall’. According to studio estimates ‘Skyfall’ took in $11 million to move back to No 1 in its fifth weekend. That puts it narrowly ahead of ‘Rise of the Guardians,’ the animated adventure of Santa, the Easter Bunny and other mythological heroes that pulled in $10.5 million. — AP

Popping corn Paris’s to the end: The Q apocalypse on screen ands grip seats and shovel in popcorn as the bomb/asteroid/pandemic zeroes in: omens of Armageddon have yet to come true in the real world, but the apocalypse has a rich and varied track record on screen. With doomsayers warning of a new Big One on December 21 - supposedly named by the Mayan calendar as an apocalyptic moment-what better time to take an End of the World-themed trip through the archives of world cinema? Isabelle Vanini, of the Forum des Images film centre in Paris, did just that, singling out 80 feature and short films for a month-long movie cycle on the apocalypse screening from December 12. “I could easily have found twice as many,” she told AFP. “You have all sorts, from disaster blockbusters to sci-fi classics, comedy, pseudo-documentaries or black-and-white art-house movies shot on a shoestring.” Recent years have seen the blossoming of a new genre-call it the intimate apocalypse-about how people choose to spend their final hours, like the bohemian Manhattan couple in Abel Ferrara’s 2011 film “4:44 Last Day on Earth”. For Peter Szendy, a French philosopher and author of a recent book on the subject, “a film like 4:44 offers a kind of chamber apocalypse,” exploring how time stretches out in anticipation of a terrible event. “But it tells a very simple story. What is at stake is the finite nature of things. Every time someone dies it’s the end of a world.” In a similar vein, last year’s apocalyptic pickings also brought Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” about a father readying his family for a storm, and Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia” about two sisters facing Earth’s collision with a mysterious planet. “Lots of auteurs have suddenly been turning to the apocalypse as a theme,” said Vanini. “Unlike the blockbusters that blow the world to smithereens, but gloss over the big questions, these are films that go deep, that take their time-and they can be very powerful,” said Vanini. In the power stakes, it would be hard to outdo last year’s “The Turin Horse” by Bela Tarr, a bleak, Nietzsche-inspired film about a world headed for darkness-which the Hungarian director has said would be his last. “These films hold up a mirror to our fears”-But filming the end has never been the sole preserve of the blockbuster. “You can offer a true vision of the apocalypse with a scrap of wasteland and a few gas masks,” said Vanini, pointing at the work of Russian art-house masters like Konstantin Lopushansky or Andrei Tarkovsky. The history of on-screen Armageddon opens in 1931 with “The End of the World” by France’s Abel Gance, a sci-fi movie and pacifist propaganda piece about a comet hurtling towards Earth. “You can sense the fear of the world pitching back into conflict-which is what will happen with World War II,” said Vanini. Cut to the Cold War era, and fears of a nuclear apocalypse haunt the screen from Stanley Kubrick’s cult 1964 satire “Dr Strangelove”, to “Fail Safe” by Sidney Lumet the same year, or “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” in 1959, by Ranald MacDougall, about a lone survivor of nuclear holocaust. “All these films are more than just entertainment,” said Vanini. “They hold up a mirror to society’s fears at a given moment.” In 1965 “The War Game” by Peter Watkins-a documentary-style drama commissioned by the BBC that depicts the effects of a nuclear war in Britainwas deemed so disturbing it remained unshown at home until 1985. For today’s globalised world, the pandemic is an apocalyptic theme of choice-the spectre of an unknown, killer disease racing around the planet faster than virologists can track and fight it. Stephen Soderbergh’s “Contagion” mined the theme to chilling effect in 2011, as did “28 Weeks Later” by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo in 2007, “Blindness” by Fernando Meirelles in 2008 or Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys” in 1995. Environmental meltdown has inspired just as richly-from the new ice age bearing down on the US East Coast in the 2004 blockbuster “The Day After Tomorrow”, to the haunting post-apocalyptic vision of a man and his son trekking through an American wasteland in John Hillcoat’s “The Road”. Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, “The Road” is also an example of a rich sub-genre-the post-apocalypse movie, about surviving armageddon-of which the 1979 “Mad Max” is among the best-known. “You wake up, the world has been destroyed, a handful have survived-mostly men, usually at least one woman. Where do you go from there?” summed up Vanini. — AFP


increased from 77 acts in the first film to 219 in 2008. While the movies tended to show more violent acts over time, each movie had a different number of violent acts. For example, 1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” contained about 400 violent acts, which is nearly twice as many as 1999’s “The World is Not Enough.” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, which coowns the copyright to Bond films with Eon Productions, had no comment on the research. Amy Bleakley, a senior research scientist at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health that the study results jibe with research she published earlier this year. That study, which looked at top-grossing films between 1950 and 2006, she and her colleagues found movie characters were increasingly involved with violent acts. “So when this content shows up in films kids are seeing, it can be problematic,” she said, adding that parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, which suggest limiting screen time for movies, television, video games and the computer to one to two hours per day. “The main point of this is that it’s not just Bond,” said Hancox. “It’s about what’s happening in movies and media in general, and that they tend to be getting more violent.” — Reuters

favorite Dame turns 850

uasimodo only had eyes for Esmerelda but the famous hunchback’s fellow Parisians have always had another special lady in their lives. Notre Dame (Our Lady), the iconic cathedral at the heart of the French capital launches a year of celebrations to mark the 850th anniversary of its founding. Like a true Parisienne, age has not withered her. Eight and a half tumultuous centuries have left one of the jewels of Gothic architecture with barely a wrinkle, but plenty of stories to tell. A 12th century crusade was launched from here. An English monarch, Henry VI, was crowned King of France in 1431. Nearly 500 years later, it was in this building that Joan of Arc was declared a saint. In 1548, rioting Huguenots extensively damaged some of the edifice’s finest features. Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the French Revolution’s anti-clerical frenzy, the church suffered further vandalism and narrowly escaped complete destruction, its utility as a warehouse for food effectively saving it for generations to come. Yet only a few years later, in 1804, Pope Pius VII was officiating as Napoleon and Josephine were installed as Emperor and Empress. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that Notre Dame was fully restored to its pre-Revolution state, thanks to a 25-year program of renovation overseen by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. Without it, the venerated cathedral might have sunk into the Seine, the river it overlooks from its position on the eastern half of an island, the Ile de la Cite, in the middle of the river that runs through the city. Viollet-le-Duc did the engineering, but the real saviour of the cathedral was Victor Hugo, the writer whose epic novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was responsible for highlighting the cathedral’s architectural value and its “countless defacements and mutilations”. “The bells, the bells,” was a catchphrase made famous by Charles Laughton in the role of the hunchback Quasimodo in the 1937 film version of Hugo’s masterpiece, and the bells of Notre Dame will be at the centre of the jubilee celebrations. Nine new bells are to be delivered during 2013, replacing four that were taken out of service at the start of last year. The new arrivals will team up with

A picture shows the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in Paris. Notre Dame (Our Lady), the iconic cathedral at the heart of the French capital has launched a year of celebrations to mark the 850th anniversary of its founding. — AFP

Emmanuel, the great bell that only just managed to avoid being melted down during the revolution and rang out to announce the liberation of Paris from German occupation in 1944. “Finally, the full line-up of bells will be restored for the first time since before the revolution,” Mgr Patrick Jacquin, the rector of the cathedral said. New, improved lighting, a viewing platform and a renovated organ have also been ordered to mark the jubilee year, during which the church

expects to receive an extra five million visitors. A series of musical events are also planned to celebrate the cathedral’s unrivalled acoustics. From this month until November 2013, there will be a program of 25 concerts reflecting the array of musical styles that have resonated around the cathedral’s buttresses over the years, from Gregorian chants to contemporary symphonies via landmark works of religious inspiration like German composer Joseph Haydn’s “Creation”. —AFP

Farmer Liu Qiyuan poses among survival pods that he built and has also dubbed ‘Noah’s Arc’, in a yard at his home in the village of Qiantun, Hebei province, south of Beijing. Inspired by the apocalyptic Hollywood movie ‘2012’ and the 2004 Asian tsunami, Liu hopes that his creations consisting of a fibreglass shell around a steel frame will be adopted by government departments and international organizations for use in the event of tsunamis and earthquakes. Liu has built seven pods which are able to float on water, some of which have their own propulsion. The airtight spheres with varying interiors contain oxygen tanks and seatbelts with space for around 14 people, and are designed to remain upright when in water. — AFP

Farmer Liu Qiyuan secures a hatch inside one of seven survival pods. Liu Qiyuan (top) looks out from inside one of seven survival pods that he has also dubbed ‘Noah’s Arc’, in a yard at his home in the village of Qiantun.

TV ‘ Storage Wars’ is rigged, fired cast member charges he popular TV show “Storage Wars” - in which treasure hunters bid to buy unseen items in abandoned units - is rigged, with producers sometimes planting valuable items among the junk, a former contestant said in a lawsuit on Tuesday. David Hester, one of the reality TV show’s longest-serving cast members, said producers buried a BMW Mini under trash in one unit featured in the A&E cable series, and a pile of newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley in another. “A&E regularly plants valuable items or memorabilia,” Hester charged in his lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday against the cable channel and the show’s producers. When he complained, Hester was fired from the show. He is claiming fraud, wrongful dismissal, breach of contract and unfair business practices, and asking for at least $750,000 in damages. A&E declined to comment on the lawsuit on Tuesday, saying it did not comment on pending litigation. “Storage Wars,” which made its debut in 2010, is the highest-rated non-fiction program on US cable television, and draws about 5 million viewers per episode. It is also broadcast in Canada, Australia, Britain and other countries. The show follows a group of modern treasurehunters who compete at public auctions of abandoned storage lockers in the hope of finding valuable items which they can re-sell for a profit. Hester said that “nearly every aspect of the show is faked.” He said producers regularly place in the lockers “valuable or unusual effects to add dramatic effect” and sometimes stage entire units, according to the lawsuit. Hester, who lives in Orange County, California, has been featured on the show since 2010. He was fired in October 2012 shortly after a meeting in which he complained about rigging in a meeting with producers, the lawsuit says. A&E Television Networks is a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and Disney-ABC Television - a unit of Walt Disney Co. — Reuters




LONDON: The Beckham family arrives for Viva Forever! Press Night, a musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls, at the Piccadilly Theatre in central London. — AP photos

he Spice Girls took to the stage on Tuesday after the world premiere of a new musical loosely based on their meteoric rise to fame in the 1990s, earning huge cheers from an audience that only really got going at the encore. “Viva Forever!” was the brainchild of producer Judy Craymer, whose “Mamma Mia!” musical based on the hits of ABBA has earned nearly $2 billion worldwide and spawned a hit movie starring Meryl Streep. She teamed up with British comedian Jennifer Saunders to create a story about the central character Viva, a sprightly teenager who, along with her friends, gets into the final stages of a TV singing contest closely resembling “The X Factor”. To boost flagging audience figures - a nod to “The X Factor”s real-life ratings woes in Britain this season - their “mentor” springs a surprise and throws out three members of the band to leave Viva on her own. What follows is part morality tale examining what is more important - friends, family or fame - and part satire on reality television, including a callous, Simon Cowell-like producer. “We love you Judy!” said Geri Halliwell at the end of the show, which closed with a romp through some of the Spice Girls’ biggest hits including “Spice Up Your Life”. “Thank you for making the Spice Girls’ dream come true,” Halliwell added. Halliwell was joined on stage by Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm, who together stormed


Joan Collins arrives for the press viewing of Viva Forever.

ulf princesses. The key to success holds in two simple words for Maison Lejaby, a historic lingerie maker rescued from collapse 10 months ago, and newly revived as a purveyor of “Made in France” luxury. Nestled in a Paris courtyard a stone’s throw from the Louvre, the firm this month opened what it dubs a lingerie Couture Salon in the hope of seducing the mega-rich shoppers who populate the neighborhood’s dozen five-star hotels. “These women know luxury, they come to Paris two or three times a year to shop,” said Lejabi’s chief executive Alain Prost, who has been promoting his firm’s services to luxury hotel concierges across the capital. “The idea is simple-we want to bring the Parisian couture salons back to life,” he told AFP. “It’s inspired by the salons of the late 1940s and 1950s, where clients would come to watch a fashion show, then slip into a fitting room, and stay for as long as they liked.” “Lingerie is still sold mostly in malls or department stores-but lingerie is something highly intimate, you want to be somewhere calm, you want good personal advice.” Especially if you are a millionaire, it goes without saying. Thick carpeted fitting rooms, with deep armchairs and scented candles, are designed with such VIP shoppers in mind, whether Gulf princesses, rich young Russians or Chinese. Catherine Deliance, the salon’s manager, has high hopes for the festive season, when wealthy Middle Eastern families take over hotel floors, sleeping late into the day before heading out on collective shopping sprees. “These are women who adore lingerie, I have seen them buy the sexiest outfits-sometimes behind their grandmother’s backs!” While these VIP shoppers are its key target, the salon also offers smaller private rooms for regular Parisian clients, “who can come to see a lingerie show, for a hen night,” said Prost. “Haute couture has no lingerie equivalent”-A


A model presents a creation by Lejaby Couture in Paris as part of a new collection of the Maison Lejaby lingerie manufacturer. — AFP

former chief executive of the Italian lingerie firm La Perla, Prost is quite clear on what went wrong at Lejaby-a house founded in 1884 that saw its turnover divided by four, from 80 to 20 million euros ($100 to 25 million), between 2009 and January 2012 when he acquired it in a state of near-bankruptcy. “Its products had lost their soul. The strategy was to use a respected name Lejaby-to sell low-cost goods made in China,” he said. “The company lost 60 percent of its retail partners over three years.” “So we now know that was not the right strategy.” Instead, Prost is betting on the appeal of French know-how and craftsmanship to revive the house’s image-and fortunes. “French haute couture holds an unrivalled place in fashion, but there is no equivalent in lingerie,” he said. Showcased in the Paris salon, the firm has launched a new line dubbed Maison Lejaby couture, entirely hand made in France using locally-sourced materials-from Calais Lace to Lyon silk-usually reserved for designer fashion. Each garment is individually numbered and signed with the name of the seamstress who made it. Models include an Empire-style half-cup bra, in strawberry pink silk with an underlay of Calais lace, soft jersey lining and velvet straps, to be paired with a pleated tulle petticoat, open at one side. Off the shelf “couture” bra and panties sets start at 250 euros while made to measure pieces-like a black slip that doubles as a cocktail dress, in Calais Lace with Lyon embroidery and silk-range from 1,000 to 5,000 euros. Prost kept 200 staff on the books, out of more than 600, and today employs 160 people in the Lyon region. The firm is also partnered with a workshop being set up near Lyon, that will employ 25 former Lejaby seamstresses.—AFP

(From left) Mel B, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton and Mel C arrive for the press showing of Viva Forever!, a musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls, at a theater in central London.

the charts in the 1990s and put “girl power” on the map. Beckham, who arrived at the London premiere after her ex-bandmates, sat with her soccer star husband David and three sons, who clapped along to the music during the final medley. NATIONAL TREASURES Now all young mothers in their late 30s and early 40s, The Spice Girls are still affectionately known by the nicknames they adopted in the band - Posh (Beckham), Scary (Brown), Baby (Bunton), Sporty (Chisholm) and Ginger (Halliwell). They were hailed as modern-day feminists by some and dismissed as vacuous pop princesses by others, but their success is beyond doubt. They sold 55 million records, had nine British No. 1 singles and three back-to-back Christmas No. 1s. The band broke up around 12 years ago, and internal bickering among the members was long the delight of Britain’s celebrity-obsessed tabloids. Perhaps surprisingly, given the bust-ups and hissy fits, the group has been united in its backing of the new musical, and underlining the Spice Girls’ lasting popularity they played a major part in the closing ceremony at the London Olympics. Paul Taylor, writing in the Independent newspaper, gave the musical two stars out of five in his review. “The Spice Girls’ songs, with their clever hooks and catchy rhythms, are better at

projecting an attitude than fleshing out a dramatic situation,” he wrote, describing Saunders’ story as “charmless”, “messy” and “lacklustre”. “Not only does her script rarely give you that necessary gleeful sense of expectancy about where the songs are going to be shoe-horned in, but it’s embarrassingly derivative of ‘Mamma Mia!’ and looks way past its sell-by date in its utterly surprise-free satiric swipe at ‘X Factor’.” Saunders said before the show that she considered herself the “sixth” Spice Girl. “We used to travel around everywhere to see them and they were so great with my kids,” said the 54-year-old, best known for playing a self-absorbed, eccentric mother in the popular British comedy series “Absolutely Fabulous”. “The thought of a Spice Girls musical written by somebody else was not acceptable,” she told the Daily Mirror newspaper. “Because I was so close to them, I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers.”— Reuters

This undated photo shows Muscari in spring in New Paltz, New York. Fall planting is in full swing. — AP photos

ome artificial Christmas trees glow cheerily even without lights: The branches themselves softly glow, fading on and off in different colors at the tips. That got me wondering: Could you get the same effect from a real tree? If plain old green evergreens are too ho-hum for you, there’s a world of “self-igniting” evergreens awaiting. For example, consider growing a variety of yellow-leafed conifer, many of which make good cut trees. The Aurea, Lutea and Rheingold varieties of arborvitae; the Aurescens variety of Japanese yew; the Gold Cone variety of common juniper; and the Gold Coast or Old Gold varieties of Chinese juniper all sport yellow foliage. Any of these conifers also have relatively dense, small needles, so the trees look full even when viewed up close, propped by the fireplace. Some evergreens even provide their own version of tinsel: silvery leaves. Try something like the Glauca variety of Japanese white pine or the Argentea variety of Colorado blue spruce. The blue of evergreen needles results from a waxy coating, and that waxy blue is not far from silver, making the Angelica Blue, Blue Cloud and Blue Vase varieties of Chinese juniper also self-decorating, sort of. OK, let’s admit that while a yellow or silver conifer might look good among other plants out in the garden - especially lighting up a shady area - it could look sickly, boring and bereft of holiday cheer standing alone in a living room. Nature has provided for us here also, though. For instance, Dragon’s Eye pine, a variety of Japanese red pine, has two yellow bands decorating each of its otherwise green needles. And the green needles of the Aureovariegata variety of arborvitae are randomly splotched with yellow. Still interested in tinsel? Grow Nana Variegata Japanese falsecypress for leaves that are both green and white. Like the artificial tree that glows at its tips, another variety of Japanese


Photo shows a yellow-tipped arborvitae in Stone Ridge, NY.

red pine, Alboterminata, glows pale yellow only at the tips of the leaves. A couple of Hinoki falsecypress varieties ignite similarly. Mariesii glows white, and a tree of Crispii is a pyramid of green suffused with a glowing yellow surface. One more conifer worth mentioning is the Aurea variety of Scotch pine. It actually fades in and out of color like those artificial trees though not nearly as quickly. Young leaves emerge yellowish in spring, turn pure green in summer, then become yellowish again in cold weather. For anyone who wants their living tree to actually glow with light from within, British genetic engineers have been working on techniques to use genes from luminescent jellyfish and fireflies to produce real holiday trees that glow without added lights. All of these real trees - whether all yellow or silver, just so at their tips, or changing color - have a place in the garden, and perhaps even cut as branches or whole trees indoors. None can offer the festive, dramatic contrasts that you get from a lush, green tree draped with shiny tinsel and brightly colored decorations. Then again, neither do those softly glowing artificial tree. —AP



Bride Emilia D’Silva (second left) poses with her main bridesmaids as young bridesmaids look on before leaving her home for a marriage ceremony at the Mount Mary church in Mumbai yesterday. — AP/AFP photos

housands of couples in Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore flocked yesterday to tie the knot on 12/12/12, seeking good fortune for marriages begun on the century’s last repeating date. Authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively said 696 and 540 couples were scheduled to attend marriage registries, continuing a trend which has seen couples flocking to marry on 11/11/11 and 10/10/10 in both cities. The figure is a near-fourfold increase compared to the daily average in the self-governing Chinese city of Hong Kong and about an eightfold spike for nonMuslim weddings in Singapore, which is three-quarters ethnic Chinese. Couples also queued to marry in many mainland Chinese cities, on the basis that 12/12/12 sounded like “Will love/will love/will love” in Chinese, the official news agency Xinhua reported. The atmosphere was abuzz with hundreds of people crowding one of Hong Kong’s five marriage registries, taking photos of brides and grooms in full wedding regalia as they congratulated the newlyweds. “Today’s date is very special and we can get married before doomsday as well,” joked 34-year-old groom Raymond Ip. Some doomsayers believe December 21 could be the date the world ends. “There won’t be a 13/13/13,” Ip said, adding that he had booked the day half-a-year in advance to secure a spot. Groom Terance Fung, 29, agreed. “Today is the last day of the century with the same date numbers, so it is quite special,” he said. In Singapore, hundreds of couples and family members trooped in batches to the marriage registry despite pouring rain. 12/12/12 was, however, a less popular day to tie the


as Vegas, land of the quickie wedding, is in the midst of a serious love recession, and chapels in a city accustomed to playing the numbers aren’t about to let the latest money-making opportunity pass - Dec 12, 2012. They are hoping the lure of a wedding license stamped with a once-in-a-century 12-12-12 will help boost revenue. Sin City’s share of the weddings business has fallen by a third since 2004 as cities from New Orleans to New York have gotten into the elopement industry. “From a marketing perspective, it’s a very big deal. Numbers are associated with Vegas,” said Ann Parsons, marketing director for Vegas Weddings, which runs four chapels in town. “Unfortunately, it’s the last date like that we’ll have.” Chapels from the rundown courthouse area to the ritzy Strip are jumping at the chance to sell 12-12-12 packages at three times the normal price for weekday ceremonies during the wedding offseason, from November to April. In the absence of any obvious symbolism - like 77-07, which gamblers will recognize as the numbers for a lucky slot machine winner- chapels are turning to Chinese numerology. “One is considered a yang number, while two is considered a yin number. Combining the two can offer new couples balance,” the marketing firm Back Bar USA said in a press release announcing its $1,212,120 wedding package that includes the use of a private jet, watches and


HONG KONG: Twelve couples attend a mass wedding ceremony at the Peak in Hong Kong yesterday. At least 700 couples got married in the date 12/12/12, the last such triple-date in this year in Hong Kong as they believe the date will bring them everlasting love. knot than previous sequential dates. Hong Kong saw 1,002 weddings on November 11, 2011, which signified “Eternal love”, and 859 weddings on October 10, 2010 which represented “Perfection”. Singapore had 553 and 724 marriages respectively on the same dates. The all-time high for a single day there was on February 14, 1995, when 1,082 couples were married because the western and Chinese Valentine’s Day coincided. Extra staff were deployed at the marriage registry at Changchun, in China’s northeastern province of Jilin, where 2,000 couples were expected. But the office director Wang Zhe played down the significance of so-called lucky dates. “Every day is a lucky day to get married and it will be the most unforgettable day of their lives,” Wang was quoted as saying.— AFP

earrings for the wedding party, and dinner at a Michelin-rated restaurant. Triple digit wedding dates have become a lifeline for struggling chapels, said Joni Moss, a longtime Las Vegas wedding planner and founder of the Nevada Wedding Association. “Everything has declined,” she said. “The small facilities here are really worried and figuring out how to market themselves.” Over the years, the city has become known for such nuptial innovations as drive-thru weddings, over the top themes, and Elvis look-alikes playing minister. The boom in competition means real heartache for the city of lights, where weddings are the second largest industry after gambling, and newlyweds bring in about $800 million annually, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, issued a third fewer wedding licenses for Nov 11, 2011, which attracted a large share of veterans and fell on a Friday, than it did for July 7, 2007. The county captured 5.7 percent of the US wedding market in 2004 compared to 4.4 percent in 2010, the last year the stats are available. Overall, speedy weddings and destination ceremonies are more popular than ever, according to The Wedding Report, an online market research firm. More people are getting married at ages when they no longer need a gift registry to fill their kitchens or a

Tee shirts advertising the 12-12-12 date sit on display at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. These ‘once-in-a-century’ wedding dates have become more important each year as people increasingly look outside Vegas for nontraditional weddings. Once known as the wedding capital of the world, Vegas’ share of the US wedding market has fallen by a third since 2004.

HONG KONG: Twelve couples attend a mass wedding ceremony at the Peak in Hong Kong yesterday. At least 700 couples got married in the date 12/12/12, the last such triple-date in this century in Hong Kong as they believe the date will bring them everlasting love.

“Big Day” to mark the transition to adulthood, said Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago. And with budgets tightening and wedding costs spiraling ever upward, the stigma is falling away from getting hitched on the cheap. As a result, businesses and cities across the country are looking to attract couples fleeing the wedding industrial complex. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned the Manhattan Marriage Bureau into a gleaming 24,000square-foot wedding palace in 2009, saying he was setting out to give Vegas a run for its money. “Not everybody particularly likes Vegas,” said Carolyn Gerin, co-author of the Anti-Bride Guide. “There are all sorts of business that have sprung up to cater to brides that want to do it differently. It’s like, why would they leave money on the table.” The lure of getting married in Las Vegas has long been tied to the state’s streamlined wedding laws, which allow couples to skip blood tests and waiting periods. In recent years, other states have also hit the accelerator on their marriage license process. Mississippi enacted a “quickie marriage” law this year to attract visitor and similar legislation is under consideration in New Jersey. New Orleans saw a jump in marriage tourism after eliminating its waiting period in 2003, according to the Louisiana Department of Tourism. “I feel like everyone who is

getting married considers Vegas. I’ve just never liked it that much; it’s tacky,” said Nina Baltierra, 27, who eloped in 2010 after spending months planning an increasingly elaborate 200-person wedding in rural Pennsylvania. Instead of flying to the desert, Baltierra and her groom called in sick and drove to New York City, where they were married in Central Park by a photographer and officiant team who do a brisk business in public, “guerrilla-style” elopements. “It only took an hour and a half to get to New York City and the possibilities there are endless,” Baltierra said. In Las Vegas, the industry is not giving up on the gimmickry that is its hallmark. Chapels are already starting to market “Armageddon Wedding” packages for Dec. 21, 2012, the close of the Mayan calendar said to portend the end of the world. The quickie wedding in that case could make for very some short marriages. — AP

LAS VEGAS: Preparing for her wedding day, Bethany Wood of Jackson, Mich, tries on a wedding gown at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. — AP photos

Asians mark 12/12/12 with mass weddings


In this 1967 file photo, Ravi Shankar plays his sitar in Los Angeles.

Indian musician and sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, 92, performs during a concert in Bangalore, India in this file photo. — AP photos

itarist and composer Ravi Shankar, who helped introduce the sitar to the Western world through his collaborations with The Beatles, died in Southern California on Tuesday, his family said. He was 92. Shankar, a three-time Grammy winner with legendary appearances at the 1967 Monterey Festival and at Woodstock, had been in fragile health for several years and last Thursday underwent surgery, his family said in a statement. “Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives,” the family said. “He will live forever in our hearts and in his music.” In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office posted a Twitter message calling Shankar a “national treasure and global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage.” “An era has passed away with ... Ravi Shankar. The nation joins me to pay tributes to his unsurpassable genius, his art and his humility,” the Indian premier added. Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last week at a


hospital in San Diego, south of Los Angeles. The surgery was successful but he was unable to recover. “Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away,” his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka said. Shankar lived in both India and the United States. He is also survived by his daughter, Grammy-winning singer Norah Jones, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Shankar performed his last concert with his daughter Anoushka on Nov. 4 in Long Beach, California, the statement said. The night before he underwent surgery, he was nominated for a Grammy for his latest album “The Living Room Sessions, Part 1.” ‘WEST MEETS EAST’ His family said that memorial plans will be announced at a later date and requested that donations be made to the Ravi Shankar Foundation. Shankar is credited with popularizing Indian music through his work with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and

A burqa-clad Afghan woman walks on a hilltop overlooking Kabul. Despite living much of their lives behind a veil, some Afghan women are feeling pressure to conform to ideals of female beauty and are lining up for cosmetic surgery at a handful of clinics in Kabul. — AFP photos

The Beatles in the late 1960s, inspiring George Harrison to learn the sitar and the British band to record songs like “Norwegian Wood” (1965) and “Within You, Without You” (1967). His friendship with Harrison led him to appearances at the Monterey and Woodstock pop festivals in the late 1960s, and the 1972 Concert for Bangladesh, becoming one of the first Indian musicians to become a household name in the West. His influence in classical music, including on composer Philip Glass, was just as large. His work with Menuhin on their “West Meets East” albums in the 1960s and 1970s earned them a Grammy, and he wrote concertos for sitar and orchestra for both the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Shankar served as a member of the upper chamber of the Parliament of India, from 1986 to 1992, after being nominated by then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A man of many talents, he also wrote the Oscar-nominated score for 1982 film “Gandhi,” several books, and mounted theatrical productions. He also built an ashram-style home and music center in India

espite living much of their lives behind a veil, some Afghan women are feeling pressure to conform to ideals of female beauty and are lining up for cosmetic surgery at a handful of clinics in Kabul. A few years ago, most operations would have been to repair war wounds or scars from family violence, acid attacks or attempts at self-immolation by women driven to despair by hard times in a maledominated society. Now, nose jobs are most popular, but facelifts, breast enhancement and tummy tucks are also sought after. “Ten years ago it was all about repairing scars,” said Dr Aminullah Hamkar, 53, who runs a Kabul clinic. “When I sometimes ask the young people who come here why they want cosmetic operations, they simply say they want to look better and beautiful,” he said. This was a good sign, he said, showing that people, at least in the capital, were moving beyond the violence of a hardline Islamist Taleban insurgency and contemplating ideas usually reserved for times of peace. “I was always jealous to see my sisters and others had longer and bigger noses while my nose was small and flat,” said Shaida, an 18-year-old girl who had a nose enlargement at Hamkar’s clinic. Shaida is from the minority Hazara ethnic group, many of whom have slightly Mongolian looks, with almond eyes and noses that are flatter than those of other Afghans. Shaida, who works as a policewomen, sought cosmetic surgery after seeing some of her friends and colleagues change the shapes of their noses and eyes. “Now that I have a bigger nose, I feel more comfortable and satisfied,” she said smiling. The two surgeons at the clinic perform about two cosmetic procedures each week, apart from their regular plastic surgery for medical or reconstructive purposes. Most cosmetic operations are done under local anesthetic to cut costs. And for nose enlargement, instead of using silicon, the surgeons cut cartilage from a rib, carve it to the right shape and use that. A typical nose enlargement costs about $300, more than a month’s salary for many Afghans, but since the ousting of the Taliban regime 11 years ago, the influx of billions of dollars in aid has led to the emergence of a growing middle class. They have been



where students could live and learn, and later the Ravi Shankar Center in Delhi in 2001, which hosts an annual music festival. Yet his first brush with the arts was through dance. Born Robindra Shankar in 1920 in India’s holiest city, Varanasi, he spent his first few years in relative poverty before his eldest brother took the family to Paris. For about eight years, Shankar danced in his brother’s Indian classical and folk dance troupe, which toured the world. But by the late 1930s he had turned his back on show business to learn the sitar and other classical Indian instruments. Shankar earned multiple honors in his long career, including an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for services to music, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, and the French Legion d’Honneur. — Reuters

exposed to trends in Iran, Dubai and European countries, and are willing to pay for plastic surgery purely for cosmetic reasons. Hamkar tells the story of an 18-year-old woman whose husband complained on his return from working in Dubai that her breasts were sagging and not up to the standards he had seen abroad and he didn’t want her any more. The girl, from a conservative and insurgencyplagued province in eastern Afghanistan, had married, had children early and had breast-fed them. “Now for me, who has worked as a plastic surgeon for years, seeing such cases in other countries was nothing new, but this was something new here in

Mohammad Ibrahim, a former army officer whose daughter wanted to make her nose smallerthe family belongs to the Tajik ethnic group-says he agreed with the operation as it would make her feel better. “Back in the sixties and seventies, the governments then would encourage us to learn about different cultures and even as government employees they helped us travel to different countries.” But decades of war after a Soviet invasion in 1979 and the rise to power of the Taliban “deprived our youths from their god given and human rights”. “Today we enjoy a relative democracy and I don’t want my daughter to feel ugly and isolated,” he said. “That’s why I easily agreed to bring her here, so she

Afghanistan,” the doctor said. “Her husband travels to a liberal, more open city like Dubai, probably sees beautiful and in-shape women and upon his return home he dislikes his wife’s shape and even approves her visiting a plastic surgeon. “Many people’s perceptions of life and sex change upon their return from a trip to a less conservative place.”

can have a better nose and feel happy.”— AFP

Afghan boys warm up as a burqa clad woman walks past in a street in Herat.

13 Dec  

Kuwait Times

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